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End Times Stuff- 2-11

[2-2011 POSTS] END TIME STUFF

[1568] ALEXANDRIA- EGYPT. Last night I was watching the news coverage of the demonstators in the streets of Egypt- they were protesting the government’s response [or lack] to the bombing of the church in Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt [around 4 million people live in the city]. As I watched the sad story- in my mind I recalled all the times I have run across Alexandria in my studies of history. The city was founded by Alexander the great in the 4th century b.c.e. It had the largest library of the ancient world and was Egypt’s capitol for around 900 years. When the Muslims took over in the 7th century Cairo became the new capitol [under another name at the time]. Alexandria was one of the great centers of Christian learning during the first few centuries of the 1st millennium of Christianity. I remember reading about the great church father Origen- he lived in the 3rd century and eventually would head up the school out of Alexandria- one of the first Christian schools of the day. The famous philosopher Plotinus also had a lot of influence in the city. It was sad to see the destruction on the news- so many years later. This morning I read Revelation chapter 13. The apostle John writes about the persecution of ‘the beast’ against the Christians- the apostle says he makes war against Gods people and overcomes them. We often neglect to see this aspect of scripture- I mean how many songs have you heard that say ‘the beast overcame us and killed us’. We like to sing stuff like ‘we overcome by the Blood of the Lamb’ [another verse from Revelation]. Yet the apostle foresees a time of persecution of the church that will include the deaths of many believers. Those who think the book of Revelation was written early [before a.d. 70] see Nero as the one who bares the mark of the beast- yes the popular 666 is in this chapter. Others who date the book later [around a.d. 90] see the emperor Domitian as the beast- either way John was speaking about a future ruler who would severely persecute the saints [and of course the most popular view today among evangelicals is the anti Christ is yet to come]. In verse 10 of the chapter John says those who kill with the sword, must die the same way- this is the patience of the saints. John is communicating to the 7 churches that he is writing to that they should not retaliate against their oppressors- they should patiently endure- knowing that the persecutors will eventually ‘hang themselves’ with their own rope. Of course the great empire of Rome would finally fall- and for those who see Nero as the 666 guy [my view] he eventually dies a shameful death as well [he killed himself].

As I watch the various responses from Muslims and Christians [and Jews] to these types of events- we all have a tendency to view things most favorably to our own particular viewpoint. While some Muslims are of course outraged over the church bombing- yet the Christian community is more enraged. When the recent peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down- many Christians in the west couldn’t care less- many of them view the entire conflict thru the lens of end time dispensationalism [an end time view that sees Gods plan being played out by the displacement of Palestinians from the land]. I grew up in New Jersey [yes- the state of the great governor Christie!]. As a good old Italian boy- I had lots of ethnic friends- Germans, Dutch, Spanish- etc. Many of these families were immigrants to the U.S. whose families had a history of living in the country for a hundred years or more [some less]. Now- if I were to come to your neighborhood, and tell you ‘look, the governments of the world made a deal [league of nations- later called the U.N.] and you have to leave this area and another group is going to move in’ how what this make you feel? Put aside your view of the bible and how you see ‘Gods plan’ being carried out- I mean just as a human being- how would you feel? You would feel terrible- you would think ‘geez- my father and his father settled here a hundred years ago- I’m not an alien!’ Yet the Palestinians were living in their land for 2 thousand years! Okay- just see the other point of view. Some of the Palestinians are Christians [small %- 2-5]. How do you think they feel when they have been praying for justice- many lost their homes and family estates during the displacement- and then they see the parade of American Christians trod thru the land like their on some Holy Land adventure- taking the kids to Disney world type thing- and yet in the real world lives are being lost on both sides of the conflict.

Most American Christians who hold to these end time scenarios that play into the geopolitical situation on the ground- they don’t realize that many Jews- and even many in the Israeli govt. do not completely embrace their enthusiasm for Israel. The Israeli leaders also know that most of these scenarios see a bloody conflict that will take place in the Holy Land [does Armageddon ring a bell?] and that many Jews will be slain- only a small remnant will escape [does the number 144,000 ring another one?]. The Israeli security forces in the city of Jerusalem actually have a specific profile for a group/persons that they see as dangerous to the city. Do you know who these ‘dangerous persons’ are? They are the tourists that enter the city every so often- and they have this wild look in their eyes- they are there to await the return of Jesus and they believe that they will be a part of the end time army that will spill much blood and defeat the forces of the enemy- yes- these types are deemed dangerous to the Israeli’s.

Lets pray for the peace of all people- let’s do our best to reject all forms of violence as being totally unacceptable- whether it be the bombing of a church in Egypt- the destruction of the Buddha statues by the Taliban in Afghanistan [they destroyed these ancient pieces of art when they rose to power in the early years]. Even the bombing of abortion clinics- or the shooting of doctors- we need to see what the apostle John saw- those who take up the sword must in this manner be killed. I think too many of us have signed our own death warrant.

[1564] DRUNK WITH THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS- Wasn’t sure which way to go today? It’s strange that I have been thinking about covering the sad story of the Christians in Iraq; since the war they have been persecuted severely- a few months back one of their main churches was attacked, many have fled to the northern region of the country [Kurdish area] and many are seeking asylum in our country. Saddam Hussein protected the Christian church in Iraq- he was not considered to be a radical Muslim leader- like the Mullahs in Iran. So it’s sad to see the Christian church possibly being eliminated from this ancient country. The church in Iraq dates back to the 1st century- they still speak Aramaic [some of them] which was the actual language Jesus spoke. Anyway- the thing that seems strange is I felt like I should read Revelation chapter 17 this morning- and in the chapter the apostle John has this vision of Babylon [which is Iraq- geographically. In the chapter it’s a symbol of the Roman Empire] and as he sees Babylon he says ‘she is drunk with the blood of the saints’- yes indeed, much Christian blood has been spilt in Iraq.

Okay- the other day I was watching some show about a group of people picked from all over the world who were chosen to participate in a sort of round table discussion where each person would spend so many months just sharing in conversation with these other people. Some were from the U.S., others from Muslim/Arab countries- some were from Israel. The conversation they had was really revealing- they were not scholars, but they showed you the point of view from other perspectives. One of the questions they asked was what should happen to Iran? Should the U.S. intervene in their desire to obtain nuclear weapons? One of the Americans said we should- because they might be a danger to world peace [a common ideology among many Americans] then one of the students from a Muslim country said ‘then why do you not feel it is also wrong for the U.S. to have nuclear weapons’ and the American gave some type of simple answer. Why does the Muslim world have a problem with the U.S. seeming to play the role of arbiter- who can have- or not have a nuclear arsenal?

Are there any Muslim/Arab countries that have them today? What about other countries who are also unstable? Let’s see- Pakistan [the most unstable of the bunch right now] India [Pakistan’s rival, also a major reason why Pakistan will not eliminate the Taliban from the mountainous region of her nation- they see the Taliban as playing a major role in the future govt. of Afghanistan and they need some ties to the Taliban in order to balance out any power play between India and Afghanistan] Egypt, Israel, North Korea, Saudi Arabia- well as you can see there are a bunch of nations who already posses nuclear weapons- or are on the road to getting them. So when the average Muslim sees our attempt to intervene in who gets nukes, they see it as a hypocritical game.

What is the world history on nuclear attacks? How many countries have actually used nukes to attack/respond to other attacks? One. Who dropped the first Atomic bomb in the history of the world on another country? We did. Okay- let’s give this another shot. Who dropped the second Atomic bomb? Okay- us again. One more time- who dropped number 3? No one. So let’s see this from the perspective of the Muslim student who questioned the reasoning of why the U.S. has nukes- but doesn’t want other nations to have them. The student was told that if other nations [Iran] has them- they might use them. Yet they see us as the only country that has ever actually used them. Look- I know why we used them- and many have questioned the morality of what we did in WW2. Were we just in dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? We killed around 200 thousand people- civilians- not military [not counting the many who died in the following years from radiation sickness]. One of the definitions of terrorism is the purposeful targeting of civilians for a political/military goal. To the Muslim world- we targeted these civilian cites [they were not collateral damage- the civilians were the target] for a political/military goal- to end the war. The point is we [Americans] have a tendency to view things from one perspective- we rarely see the end result of our actions. Who would have thought that our war in ancient Babylon [Iraq] would have contributed to one of the fulfillments of John’s prophecy ‘Babylon- you are drunk with the blood of the saints’.

[1549] THEY WILL LEARN WAR NO MORE- Isaiah the prophet. This verse comes from the book of Isaiah- he also speaks of the nature of Christ’s kingdom by saying ‘the wolf will lay down with the lamb’. Isaiah has more prophecies about Jesus [Messianic prophecies] than any other Old Testament prophet. To all my ‘bible students- preachers’ most of us our aware of the various ways teachers interpret these passages; we see the dual nature of the messianic prophecies [that is many prophecies speak of Jesus first coming and second coming in one verse- you don’t see the time lapse between the 1st and 2nd coming]. At the same time we often overlook the fact that the nature of God’s kingdom is one of peace- not war. Yes ‘Make love- not war’ actually has biblical backing! Now when Jesus arrived on the scene in the 1st century, he came at a time when the nation of Israel was under ‘occupation’. Rome was the controlling authority- and the Jews knew it. Israel had different views among her people on how to deal with the Roman occupation- some wanted a violent overthrow of the Roman govt., these were called Zealots- others took a more moderate stance. Out of Jesus 12 disciples, 2 were Zealots- Simon and Judas. They thought they were getting in on a strong Messianic movement that would be violent in nature. Yet Jesus would teach them that those who live by the sword will die by it. He showed them a better way- when he said ‘greater love has no man than this that he would die for his friends’. He wasn’t saying ‘that he would risk his life in battle- while trying to kill others- and maybe die in the process’. No, he was speaking about non violent protest- even to the point of laying down one’s life. He taught them ‘war no more’. I understand that my position on these wars has upset people, and I do not see our brave men and women as ‘the enemy’. But I feel the leadership- especially in the church, has not rightly understood these things- the nature of Christ’s kingdom is one of peace- not war. When some of the most popular TV evangelists, and ‘end times’ books promote an idea that seems to pit natural Israel against Muslim/Arab nations- and they give scenarios that seem to ‘encourage’ one side fighting- and killing the other side- then in these ways we are teaching ‘war’ that is we are presenting Christ’s kingdom in a way that seems to say ‘yes, God is in this violent thing- and when he comes back he will personally wipe out the other side’. We have not done right in the church- we have not taught ‘war no more’.

-[1530] Let me just give a short intro to these end times posts [on facebook]; the reason I think these posts are important right now [10-2010] is because our country is going thru a political conversation that ‘behind the scenes’ these end times views are effecting the most prominent voices. Last week Glen Beck played a bunch of clips that showed Obama saying ‘my individual salvation is tied to your corporate salvation’ now, Beck is a sincere man who comes from a fundamentalist background- the problem is most branches of Christianity- Obama’s [liberal] and conservative view Becks religion as problematic, beck is a Mormon [I love and respect Mormons!] but theologically- they have some serious flaws. But when Beck criticizes Obama for his statement- in reality this type of statement [corporate salvation] has very strong biblical and historical roots! I remember during the campaign, Obama was asked who his favorite philosopher was [Bush said Jesus!] Obama said Reinhold Neighbor [spelling?]. I thought that was interesting- he is a very influential theologian, somewhat on the liberal side of the argument- but the fact that he picked him showed me that Obama’s Christianity is real- though liberal. Now, you have Palin, Beck and others who hold to a fundamentalist/dispensationalist perspective- they have an end time view of the world that is closely tied in with the popular ‘left behind’ series of books from fundamentalist preacher Tim Lahaye- a view I don’t hold to. So that’s why some of the presidents critics really view him as some type of secret Manchurian candidate that wants to overthrow our country and institute socialism- this paranoid belief system permeates their religious view. So anyway keep this in mind as you read this next post- that’s the background.

-[1518] DIVINE ABSENCE- ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem- you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you; how often did I try and gather you as a mother hen her chicks, but you resisted. Truly I say unto you, you will not see me again until the time comes when you say ‘blessed is he who comes in Gods name’ Jesus- Luke 13. Jesus foretold a period of time when the people he wanted to reach the most would reject him, but after a long absence they would receive him. There is a contested verse in our New Testaments that many end time teachers grapple with; it’s the statement of Jesus when he is talking about end time things. He gives a long teaching on the end of the world [age] and the second coming; and then he says ‘some of you who are standing here right now will not die until all these things come to pass’ or ‘this generation shall not pass until all these things are fulfilled’. I really don’t want to get into the whole debate on exactly what ‘this generation’ is referring to, but we should say that in every other instance this term appears in our Greek New Testament, it is speaking of the actual group of people who are living at the time of the statement. Some conclude from this that Jesus was telling the Jews of his day that in some way many of them would live long enough to see the judgment of God and Jesus coming in judgment on Jerusalem. It’s also interesting to note that the most common interpretation for ‘this generation’ is a 40 year time span. In a.d. 70 [right at around 40 years after Jesus made the statement] the Roman general Titus destroyed the city of Jerusalem and laid it bare to the ground. They lost their temple and it has been gone ever since. The sacrificial system of the law was abolished [end of that age/dispensation] and it has yet to make a comeback [I believe it never will- but that’s a whole other story]. The main point is some of the people who had no time to listen to Jesus, these same people perished in the destruction of the city; others who listened to him remembered that Jesus said ‘when you see the armies surrounding the city, flee’ these who believed Jesus fled; they were spared. It wasn’t a light thing to not hear the words of Christ; it made the difference between life and death for the first century Jews. I want to exhort you today, has God been speaking to you in some way over the years? Have you gone thru a period of ‘divine absence’ that is you haven’t been confronted by the Lord in a while? It’s never too late to make a change, to examine where you are at today and listen to what the Lord has said to you in the past; to some it made the difference between life and death.

-[1488] ‘I therefore…beseech you that you would walk worthy of the calling…with all lowliness and meekness, putting up with each other in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all, who is above all and thru all and in you all’ Ephesians 4:1-6. Last night I caught Tim Lahaye [famous end time’s preacher] on the fox channel, he was talking about the one world govt. system and the one world banking/economic system. He was saying how he believed that the Obama administration was a tool that would lead up to the apocalypse. The host, Mike Huckabee, was kind enough to let Tim speak but kind of gave a little more mercy to the president. I felt bad for Lahaye, you could see he is getting up in age and you could tell that that’s the way he saw the bible, the lens of end time dispensationalism and the one world order was what he saw, and that’s that. Often times in the various debates that believers have amongst one another, it’s easy to lose sight of the greater purpose of God. In the above passage the apostle talks about the necessity of seeing God’s people as one body, to avoid as much as possible any divisions that would rise up among us. In our day we have many sincere believers who see many things differently, how far down the road of practical unity we will get- I don’t know. But it is imperative that we give each other the benefit of the doubt, that we make room for the different views that other believers have- yes even those who espouse the end time scenarios that seem to be a little off base! As a student of the bible and church history, I realize that there are many doctrinal differences that are deep seated- these will not go away simply because we love one another; but at the same time there needs to be an overriding view of the desire of God for unity among his people. I need to make as much ‘room’ for you as possible when it comes to being a fellow believer in the Lord, I should not allow my beliefs in certain areas trump the unity that we all posses in Christ. This chapter speaks of the gifts that Christ gives to the church for the benefit of the whole body, if I am using my gift in a way that causes division, then no matter how gifted I am, I am working against the purpose of that gift. In the above passage the apostle speaks of the need for humility and meekness, we need to stop seeing each other thru the lens of ‘our group is better/knows more truth than your group’ even if we believe that ‘our group’ really is more doctrinally sound than the other members of Christ’s church, yet we are called to lowliness and meekness when dealing with one another- yes there will be times of honest and robust disagreement, but we must not forsake/forget the high calling to strive for unity amongst the people of God. Let’s give people the benefit of the doubt- if we disagree with them, whether politically or in areas of belief, let’s not jump to the conclusion that they are going to personally play a major role in bringing in the apocalypse for heaven’s sake! If these people are believers then it is our duty to give them the benefit of the doubt, even if we disagree with them strongly in certain areas.

[1484] ‘This is why I Paul am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so called. I take it that you are familiar with the part I was given in God’s plan for including everybody… none of our ancestors understood this, only in our time has it been made clear thru God’s Spirit… this is my life work, helping people understand and respond to God’s message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details’ Ephesians 3, message bible. As I said earlier in this study, the ‘mystery’ that God revealed to Paul was the reality that thru Christ all ethnic groups would be on the same footing with God. This specifically related to the religious belief of the day that the ethnic nation of Israel were the only ones with special access to God. For Paul to have been preaching this message in his day would be like us teaching that God’s plan for all people today- Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, Iranians, etc., it would be like saying Gods purpose for our day is to accept all of these ethnic groups as one group thru Christ. To be frank about it, I believe many evangelicals today are not fully seeing the reality of the Cross when they exalt the natural heritage of Israel as Gods special people. Though I realize many of these teachings mean well [end time scenarios and stuff] yet in practice they deny the equal footing that all people have in Christ. Paul was preaching the great news that your ethnic/cultural background no longer made any difference- thru Christ we are all Gods special people. This does not mean that we are all accepted whether or not we believe in Christ, a sort of religious syncretism, but it does mean that the offer of Jesus is available to all.

[1479] ‘Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the cross, we are a free people- free from the penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free either. ABUNDANTLY free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything in planet earth’ Ephesians 1, message bible. Notice how the ‘long range plan’ of God has been revealed to us in time; that is God had all these things mapped out before the world even started! The plan is to bring everything together in Christ, that all things in heaven and on earth would show forth the full restoration that was accomplished at the Cross. Paul speaks about this ‘full world’ reconciliation in Romans chapter 8; the creation itself shall be delivered from the curse and enter into the full joy of the manifestation of the sons of God. One of the main themes of Jesus in the parables is to show forth the full world impact of the kingdom of God. Jesus talks about the kingdom as a small seed, and it grows into this great tree. Or a fishing net that brings in all types of fish [full harvest]. One of the mistakes that some believers made was they began interpreting the kingdom parables in a way that said ‘see, these parables speak of the religious world of Christendom, and how false religion will take over the planet’ Ouch! Jesus has a purpose for all of creation; he has let us in on these plans and has given us authority to fulfill our part of the plan. We have complete acceptance from God based on the work of the Cross, free from all penalties and punishments that we deserve because of our sins. Yet God who is rich in mercy has lavished upon us great grace, he has chosen us to be an important part of this plan, we are the actual Body of Christ on the earth that Jesus speaks and acts thru, we are major players in the eternal purpose of the most high!

-[1459] GROW A BRAIN YOU MORANS! Last night as I was watching the news they showed some protester sporting this large sign at some rally; I’m not sure if he was a tea partier or not. The point being that there is a danger in mounting the horse of judgmentalism, that is if you are trying to expose others faults, you usually wind up in the same ditch over time [he meant to say moron!] I also caught an apologetics show that I found interesting in the past, but recently they have been spending too much time exposing the ‘one world economy/church’ and have been dwelling on themes that I haven’t heard in years. The brother went on to explain the importance of exposing the one world banking system and how the bible speaks about a one world govt. so this is a way to show unbelievers the reality of the bible. The problem then becomes a sort of fear/unwillingness to address any global problems on a global scale. All organizations like NATO or the UN are deemed tools of the future anti Christ, this outlook usually overlooks the fact that the majority of the references found in the bible dealing with a ‘one world govt./kingdom’ are actually references that speak about the kingdom of God, so there is a danger that believers simply become stumbling blocks to any future endeavors for peace or any joint action on dealing with hunger or world poverty; these concerns are usually looked at as things that we can’t really do anything about on a global cooperative scale. In a nutshell we look like the above protestor carrying the sign; he thinks ‘boy did I show them’ and in reality, well yes he did show them! As believers we need to be bold about the truth claims of the gospel; yes it is exclusive, that is it tells people you can’t come to God any other way accept thru the Cross, but we need to be willing to work with the religious people who inhabit the earth, to not be so exclusive that we never join any cooperative efforts to deal with problems on a global scale. Just because people/leaders use the term ‘global village’ or ‘global order’ this does not mean they are all tools of some future global govt. that the anti Christ will head up! Jesus said many things that could fit into the category of a religious liberal; he advocated a passivist message for heaven’s sake! Let’s align ourselves with Jesus and his gospel, if we feel governments are doing wrong, then yes it’s our responsibility to speak up against oppressive regimes, to speak out against these types of things; but let’s also be willing to unite with other nations/govts. when they are sincerely tying to tackle world problems on a global scale, as long as we stick to the reality of the message of Jesus, we should not fear any and all efforts at global harmony.

(1444) AND HE TOOK HIM OUTSIDE AND SHOWED HIM THE STARS AND SAID ‘LOOK AT THEM, CAN YOU NUMBER THEM’ AND THE LORD SAID ‘SO SHALL YOUR OFFSPRING BE’ AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED IN GOD AND HE CREDITED IT TO HIS ACCOUNT AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Genesis 15:5-6 [my paraphrase] As we journeyed from chapter 12, where God made the initial promise to Abraham, a few things occurred; God separated Abraham from his nephew Lot. The kings attacked Sodom and took Lot captive, Abraham took his men and went and freed Lot. The king of Sodom tries to reimburse Abraham for his good deed, Abraham turns him down. Abraham also went into Egypt and lied about Sarah his wife, out of fear he told the Egyptians she was his sister [so they wouldn’t kill him to get his wife] and the king takes her and later rebukes Abraham for lying. So he returns to the special place named Bethel [house of God] and regroups. Now in chapter 15 Abraham has some doubts, God gave Abraham this great promise of many children; but he has no kids yet! Abraham is getting up in years [around 75] and so is Sarah his wife; Abraham asks the Lord to consider counting his servant as his heir, this was done in those days. The Lord turns him down and says ‘no, one born from you will be the heir’ and this is just one stop of many along the path of Abraham’s doubts. Yes, he comes up with another winner down the road [like having a kid with the maid!] But this promise in chapter 15, and Abraham’s response by faith, is the actual text Paul uses in Galatians and Romans to show that being justified comes by faith, and not by keeping the law. I want to stress, this example from Abrahams life was real, he really was justified in Gods eyes by believing in the future promise of having a great dynasty; like I said in the last post, he was believing in Jesus when he believed in the promise. In the next few days I will try and cover some key verses in Galatians and Romans, but most of all I want you to see how God forgives people, makes them legally just in his sight, not because of what they have done- trying to do good, be a church goer, trying hard to keep the 10 commandments; all of these things are noble efforts, but they don’t earn God’s forgiveness, but God’s forgiveness is based on the grounds that Jesus died for our sins and rose again. All who believe in this promise are described as ‘the children of God, by faith in Jesus Christ’. Many of the Jewish people looked to Abraham as a great hero of the faith, Paul shows them thru these examples that all who believe, whether Jew or Gentile, become the ‘children of Abraham’ by faith, it’s not an ethnic/cultural thing anymore. If only the Muslims, Arabs and all other groups heard this message from the church; how liberating would this be! But we too often present an ethnic message based upon Old Testament verses that call certain Middle Eastern states ‘the enemies of Israel/God’. These views, not being rightfully filtered thru the message of the Cross, make it very difficult to evangelize the Arab world, after all would you want to embrace a religion whose book said ‘thus saith the Lord, all you white Europeans are a stench in my nostrils’! But because of our unwillingness to present a gospel based solely on faith, and not the ethnic backgrounds of individuals, we have reduced the message of the Cross from the wide net that the apostles used when presenting the message of Jesus- Lets declare with certainty ‘yes, we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ’ Amen.

(1407) THESE THINGS DOES THE LORD HATE…HE THAT SOWS DISCORD AMONG BRETHREN. HE DEVISETH MISCHIEF CONTINUALLY, HE SOWETH DISCORD. Proverbs 6. Okay, the health care package passed, many are upset and some have crossed the line in their language. Even though statements like ‘reload’ [Palin] ‘he’ll be a dead man’ [Boehner] and others are talking political speech, yet in this atmosphere we all need to avoid using words that can be taken the wrong way by unstable people. Recently here in Texas we had the famous school board controversy over what to include in the schoolbooks, I have written about it a few posts ago. One of the school board people is from my home town of Corpus; she is a Hispanic woman who is involved in politics a lot. Now, I’m sure she means well, but our paper had a picture of her sitting at her office desk with a bunch of anti white slogans all over her desk. I’m sure she does not mean to be racist, I’m sure she views her opinion thru the light of standing up for minorities, but the fact is you can’t have any ethnic representative openly advocate for their own race, and to use wording that publicly says things that imply ‘whitey is the enemy’ [she has regularly used the term ‘white wash’ in describing the white board members resistance to including more Hispanic people into the history books]. Now I’m going to be honest about South Texas politics, I have been living here for 30 years, many of the prejudices against minorities have been expressed by the majority Hispanic democratic leaders [I am not saying all Hispanics are racist!] The reality is the Black minorities have been discriminated against in the political system. Some have actually said ‘when they were in power they didn’t help us, now it’s their turn’ [a prominent Hispanic politician about not supporting president Obama]. So the facts on the ground are different than what many people think. I believe we should include prominent Hispanic and Black leaders into the history books, men like Cesar Chavez are truly great examples, but when any representative publicly says her goal is to advance her ethnic groups cause, and that the ‘white washers’ are the enemy- this is unacceptable speech too. Who has opened the door for this type of stuff? Gods people. One of the most prominent themes of American preaching is a theme that is shot thru with racist overtones. The popular prophecy preaching of the day teaches that Gods end time events are triggered by a special role that ethnic Israel plays in God’s plan. This system [dispensationalism] teaches that God most certainly prefers one ethnic race over another. It is in contradiction to the ethos of the New Testament which teaches that in Christ there is ‘neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, slave or free- we are all one in Christ Jesus’. The people of God are the plumb line of society, the world around us will never display a higher level of morality than the church- when we as Gods people rise above these ethnic divisions, we will be like leaven in society that effects the whole lump. When we continually sow discord we displease God.

(1398) REV. ZEKE- [pastor from India] Brother, I accidently deleted your email, if you are reading this, email me again and I’ll put your email on our global section.
Okay, it’s a rare thing for me to take a ministry off of my blog roll. Once I put someone on our site I feel it would be irresponsible to drop them for any minor disagreement, or because they might hold differing views than my own. For the most part I add other web sites because I feel they add to the diverse conversation in the global church. Having said this, I recently deleted the site for Charisma Magazine. I originally put them on because I was blogging on their site and they eventually removed the blog section, but I felt it was okay to leave them on anyway. But after a period of time I just couldn’t keep endorsing ‘the level’ of stuff they teach- in all good conscience I hit the delete button. The other day I thought I’d give them a visit, on the main article page they had some sister sharing a vision and on the heading it said ‘I saw snakes wrapped around [something- I forget]’ and I just felt bad that a major Christian magazine would do stuff like this. In John 14 Jesus says he’s going away and will send ‘another comforter’ this word speaks about the Spirit coming, one just like Jesus. The disciples ask him how he will reveal himself to them, and not to the world. Jesus says if we keep his commandments and do his will, that the Spirit will manifest and come to us- but the world cannot see him and they will not benefit from his work. Though many Christians are divided over ‘Charismatic churches’ yet the need for the work of the Spirit is vital, I personally believe in the gifts of the Spirit and do not hold to a cessationist view. Over the years as I have read this chapter I have been inclined to see the promise of Jesus ‘going away and coming again to receive us’ as actually referring to the Spirits outpouring at Pentecost. This does not mean I reject a literal physical return of the Lord at the end of the age, but in context it seems that Jesus was telling the disciples that he would ‘come again and receive them’ in the sense that the Spirit would complete the ministry of Jesus by sealing them until the day of redemption [Ephesians]. Jesus said those who hear his word and do his will are promised the presence of the Spirit; truly God is no respecter of persons. There is a movement in the church today that appeals to the kingdom call of Jesus, versus trying to convince people of the truth claims of Christianity- to some degree I like this emphasis, it appeals to other religions in the sense that we are telling people ‘we are not here to change your culture [and make you accept ours] but we are here offering you the promise of Jesus, if you believe his words and do his will he will manifest himself to you’. There actually are some in the Muslim community who are claiming belief in Jesus [not just the ‘Jesus’ of the Koran] and yet still consider themselves cultural Muslims, this is certainly interesting. The point today is we need Gods Spirit desperately, though we have been guilty at times with confusing the work of the Spirit with people having visions of snakes! Yet we need the Spirit to work, Jesus said he would manifest himself to those who are keeping his word- a great promise indeed.

(1397) IN MY FATHERS HOUSE ARE MANY MANSIONS- Yesterday I read an article by an Arab believer who grew up in a Muslim country. He shared how over the years he has learned how to dialogue respectively with Muslims and how important it was to share the Christian faith with respect, I really liked the tone. Jesus said ‘I have other sheep which are not of this fold, I must gather them too’. In context he is telling Israel that he too will gather Gentiles into the kingdom. I also read a verse [?] the other day that spoke to me about leaving the door open when dialoging with various groups. One of things that has surprised me since I started blogging is the Arab brothers [Christians] who have contacted me over the years and have been excited about our site. Many of them are pastors and are really laying their lives on the line to bring the gospel to Muslims. I do realize that my stance on natural Israel as well as how the western world should treat Muslims/Arabs is part of the reason why fellow Arab believers have been drawn to our site. For the most part I believe the church should put the gospel of Jesus above all ethnic/political concerns- when preaching the gospel we need to avoid getting into geopolitical wars or wars in general! Many believers in Palestine who are Arab face persecution from fellow countrymen who are Muslim, as well as persecution from Israel. These believers generally do not get support from believers from the U.S., instead when American believers go over there to interact, we usually are there to support natural Israel and to see how well the future ‘temple’ plans are going, and stuff like that. The Arab believers feel neglected by this attitude, some have actually said ‘why don’t you care for us, don’t you understand that we have been persecuted at times by Israel’? They feel confused and rejected when they read in the bible how Christians should love and care for one another, and then they see western believers taking sides in natural conflicts. Jesus said his house had many rooms, the people of God [Gods house] are diverse and come from many varied backgrounds. I do not hold to the thinking that says ‘all religions are Gods children’ in a pluralistic sense of all monotheistic faiths have the same faith. But when dealing with other fellow believers in the world [whether Arab, Jewish, etc.] we should defend our brothers and sisters and side with them in times of conflict, by ‘siding with them’ I mean we need to speak out in support of them and call for justice and help when they are in trouble. I do not advocate ‘siding with people’ when talking about actual warfare- believers should not be in the business of siding with any conflict when it includes killing other people [the sides you take as a citizen of a country are a different matter, I am speaking here as a citizen of Gods kingdom]. I am grateful for all my Arab friends and pastors who have been in touch with me over these past few years, I pray for them regularly and have embraced them as sort of part of the fellowship of brothers that I regularly reach out to. I do realize that they also enjoy the level of teaching we do [not that we are that great, but we do share from a broad range of teaching that many individual pastors might not be able to access on their own]. I thank God that ‘his house’ has many mansions, that Jesus calls sheep from ‘other folds’ that we might not be familiar with, let’s be open to those from other ethnic backgrounds that share the same faith in Jesus Christ- they are all our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

(1378) DON’T BEGIN BY TRAVELING TO SOME FAR OFF PLACE TO CONVERT UNBELIEVERS. AND DON’T TRY TO BE DRAMATIC BY TACKLING SOME PUBLIC ENEMY. GO TO THE LOST, CONFUSED PEOPLE RIGHT HERE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. TELL THEM THAT THE KINGDOM IS HERE [NOT POSTPONED UNTIL A NEW TEMPLE GETS REBUILT!] BRING HEALTH TO THE SICK, RAISE THE DEAD, TOUCH THE UNTOUCHABLES- FREELY YOU HAVE RECEIVED, SO DO THIS FOR FREE! Message bible/ my own ad libbing. I like this, Jesus sends his men out with a mission to declare that Gods reality is here. He even tells them not to approach this kingdom with a preconceived mindset of gathering wealth and funds. In another verse he says ‘don’t think you need a lot of equipment for this- you are the equipment’. One of the strange things I have experienced over the years is that I have had been acquainted with many pastors and leaders of ministries. Many times [some times] I would get the feeling that when they would stumble across some of our teachings, they would sort of think ‘yes, that’s what I felt all along!’ and yet thru their public statements you would have never known it [whether some teaching on the prosperity gospel or end times or whatever]. Some actually would use the same arguments from the groups that they supposedly rejected. Why not be upfront about their beliefs? Because modern ministry has lost the mandate from Jesus ‘go, don’t worry about lots of fund raising for heaven’s sake, just trust me to meet your needs each day and be like me’. We often approach ministry with the exact opposite mindset ‘well brother, how can we ever have an impact unless we have enough faith to bring in a harvest of money’? Well the way you will do it is by believing what Jesus just said, don’t start with your own preconceived mindset [God is big enough to get the money to me] but start with Jesus mindset [God is big enough to do it without all the stinking money!] Often times we simply need to re-evaluate along the way, re-tool some things. I want to challenge you today with the simple [yet great!] mindset of Jesus- yes Gods kingdom is here, he is alive and well and ruling in heaven and earth, we express this rule by being like him, not by amassing great wealth!

(1364) MANY SHALL COME IN MY NAME SAYING ‘I AM CHRIST’ AND SHALL DECIEVE MANY- Jesus, Marks gospel. Many years ago while reading thru this portion of scripture I saw this verse from a different angle; instead of seeing it like a false prophet claiming himself to be Christ [Sun Yung Moon] I saw it applying to many well meaning preachers who come in Jesus name and confess him as Christ, but yet are prone to propagating errors in an unconscious way. They say ‘Yes, we believe Jesus is Christ’ and yet mess up in other areas. I remember hearing a ‘revelation word’ [EKK!] on God’s creation of Woman. It went like this- Wo-Man means ‘wombed man’ and that after God made man, he then made woman [another man] and put a womb on him, thus the term ‘wombed man’. You might be laughing right now, but this silly way of interpreting the bible has been repeated over and over again on national TV networks where the network leaders agreed with the teacher and saw it as some deep truth, then the poor audience of millions is encouraged to give more millions so the word can be sent out into all the world. Basically well meaning people teaching fake stuff to the world, over and over again. Now, does ‘woman’ mean ‘wombed man’? No. Our bibles were primarily written in Hebrew and Greek, when these words are translated into English, the way the English word sounds has nothing at all to do with the actual meaning of the word. I mean this is very basic hermeneutics [way of interpreting scripture] so how can it be that a very ‘uneducated’ way of teaching would be broadcast to the whole world when even the most basic bible student knows it’s wrong? One of the great benefits of the 16th century Reformation was the return of interpreting the bible in a ‘literal sense’- now, many Protestants are confused by this term. Literal sense means the bible should be read as actual literature, like if you were reading history or poetry or any other book. So when you are reading portions of the bible that are historical narrative, you take it as history. When reading portions of poetry, you read it like you would read any poetry- in a literal sense, not taking the actual poetry as history! Like when the Psalms speaks of the hills skipping or the trees clapping their hands, you don’t take it literally in the sense that the trees have actual hands. This hermeneutic was not new, but it was a minority way of viewing scripture during the middle ages. Many teachers at the time were influenced strongly by the early Greek idea of scripture having 4 different ways it could be understood. Each passage having a moral, symbolic, literal meaning. In the third century you had the famous school in Alexandria, Egypt. This was the first ‘Christian school’ where you could learn theology and philosophy. One of the famous teachers was Origen, he was heavily influenced by a man by the name of Plotinus- a philosopher credited with the founding of a philosophy called ‘Neo Platonism’. This Greek philosophical way of seeing things impacted not only Origen [and many other Greek fathers] but also the highly influential Saint Augustine. So for many centuries you had very respected church teachers hold to this highly symbolic way of reading the bible. It’s important to note that when reading Augustine, if you are reading his earlier works they are more heavily influenced by Greek philosophy than his later works. Near the end of his life Augustine re-evaluated all of his former works and wrote a paper called ‘retractions’ in which he cleared up some of his earlier stuff. Anyway the Protestant Reformation returned the church to a more solid way of reading scripture. But ‘literal sense’ does not mean you take the portions of scripture that are poetic or symbolic and turn them into history! During the rise of ‘liberalism’ in the 19th century you had many holding to a view of scripture that rejected all the supernatural portions of the bible as ‘myth’. The story of Jonah being swallowed by the whale was considered a ‘well meaning’ story, but just a story. Was it only the ‘liberal’ theologians that rejected the historical truth of Jonah? No, you also have well grounded teachers that too take Jonah in a non historical way. Why? The book of Jonah starts out as historical narrative, but then you have portions [Jonahs prayer in the belly of the whale] that are a very high from of poetry. Does this mean the story didn’t really happen? No, but some good theologians would doubt the history of Jonah based on this [I don’t]. The whole point being when we read the bible, we should have some basic historical framework when reading it, that is how did other believers thru the centuries view these things. Be aware of the various different approaches to the bible, and for heaven’s sake, if a word sounds like it means something in English [woman= wombed man] do a little background study before proclaiming it to the whole world, for many ‘shall come in my name, believing that I am Christ, and shall deceive many’.

(1354) O FOOLS AND SLOW OF HEART TO BELIEVE ALL THAT THE PROPHETS HAVE SPOKEN; WAS IT NOT NECESSARY THAT THE SON OF MAN SHOULD SUFFER THESE THINGS AND ENTER INTO HIS GLORY? Jesus said this to his men after he rose from the dead, they were doubting and wondering about his crucifixion and he told them that all these things were written in ‘the prophets’. Jesus also said ‘Moses said this, but I say this’. Moses said- was a reference to the first 5 books of the bible [Torah, Pentateuch] and the ‘prophets’ is referring to the rest of the old testament, apart from the wisdom books [Psalms, Proverbs, etc.] The rebuke was the fact that they had the truth all the time, they were ‘slow to believe’ all of it. As I was finishing up the Galatians study a few days ago I showed how Paul was always making his case from the Old Testament, he used the stories in scripture to prove his points. When teaching on this site, I try and share a broad range of church history, from many various perspectives. In essence I try and include ‘the whole thing, all that has been taught by the church fathers’ it’s important to read and learn from a broad perspective, it keeps you out of trouble. Today’s word is simply ‘are you listening to all that the prophets have spoken’ are you hearing all the sides of the issues your church/denomination teaches? This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have convictions about your own beliefs [I do] but it does mean that we are all part of a broad community of believers, many various ‘camps’ and perspectives. In order for us to fulfill our mandate to be ‘one in Christ’ it is our responsibility to be challenged in our views and to also have the love and concern for other believers to challenge them too. This should always be done in love and for the benefit of the whole body, take some time to hear what ‘all the prophets have spoken’ it will do you [and me] some good.

(1350) THE ANTICHRIST IS HERE! Okay, probably not a good heading for following the last few political posts. But I’ve been reading in the gospels and wanted to share a few thoughts. The apostle John, who wrote the book of Revelation [a popular book in today’s prophecy teaching] also wrote the epistles of John, in 1st John chapter 2 he says ‘it is the last [end] time, as you heard that antichrist will come, even now are there many antichrists and this is how we know it is the last time’. Most prophecy teachers are aware of this verse and it’s usually chalked up to the fact that ‘yes John is speaking of ‘the spirit of antichrist’ and the Gnostic cults who rejected Christ’s humanity’ while this is true, it’s also important to see that there is language in the New Testament that places antichrist/antichrists as a possible 1st century figure. I have hit on this before and just wanted to cover this concept a little. Many believers saw Nero as the antichrist, others see various Roman Emperors as fitting the title, and of course the most popular teaching in America is he is a future person [usually said to ‘be living somewhere in the world today’-even if today ranges over hundreds of years!] So we have had our speculation on the fella. I certainly believe that the apostle Paul was writing about a real man who would be a rejecter of Christ and persecute the church fiercely, and Jesus did speak about the ‘desolation of Daniel’ so I don’t want to spiritualize the man, I just wanted us to be challenged when we read John saying stuff like ‘even now there are many, this is how we know we are living in the end times’. I mean he is saying this a few years before writing the book of Revelation, it should cause us to re-think some of the ‘end times’ scenarios that we espouse today. John was exiled to the island of Patmos by the emperor Nero. Nero died a couple years before AD 70, it is possible that Johns Revelation was written before Nero died [being Nero was the one who put him on the island] and this would leave room for an early dating of Revelation and possibly a still living Nero to have been Johns target. Regardless of all the dating questions, it is striking to read the language of the 1st century apostles and see how they believed the key transition time of an ‘old age’ passing away and a new era coming, they saw it as the time of Christ and his death, burial and resurrection; they used ‘end time’ language as a description of their own day, not a bunch of geopolitical speculation of world events that would take place thousands of years in the future. Surely we are also considered to be ‘in the end times’ and I do believe in a literal future return of Jesus to the earth, I just wanted us to be open to the actual language that the bible uses when speaking about ‘the end times’ and allow our thinking to be shaped more by the scripture and not so much by the popular end times teaching of our day.

(1331) GALATIANS 4- Paul says there was a time period before the promise would be fulfilled thru Christ; that time has come to an end [the law] and we are now in ‘the fullness of times’. When we were under the law we were no different than servants, but now in grace we are mature sons, people able to inherit the promise. Paul says why do you desire to go back under the ‘restraint’ phase, the time of discipline and legalism, we are now in a fullness stage thru the New Covenant and we don’t need the old mentality anymore. Once again Paul really ‘spiritualizes’ the Old Testament in his teaching, he says that the law [Old Testament] taught this difference between law and grace. He uses the story of Abraham having 2 sons [Ishmael, Isaac] and he says ‘cant you hear what the law is saying’? One son was born by promise [Isaac] the other thru the works of the flesh [law]. And just like it was back then, the one born after the flesh persecuted the one born after the Spirit, so today [1st century] those after the flesh/law are persecuting those born after the Spirit. It’s important to see that Paul DOES NOT use this analogy to describe Jewish/Muslim [Arab] relations; he actually refers to natural Israel as ‘Ishmael’! He says the Judaisers [Jews zealous of the law] were fulfilling the type/symbol by persecuting Gentile believers. We need to keep these distinctions in our minds, because when we don’t rightfully discern the truth we do damage to the non ethnic testimony of the gospel. Paul says the law relates to natural Israel/Jerusalem who is under bondage with her children, but the ‘New Jerusalem’ which is above is the mother of us all, and this Jerusalem relates to the church. The New Jerusalem is not referring to a physical city that will ‘hover over the earth during the millennium rule’ [EEK!] But it refers to the new community people of God, the church. I have written on this before and these references in the New Testament [Revelation, Hebrews- us being the new Zion, etc.] are speaking of the church, the people of God. Paul once again speaks of ‘natural Jerusalem’ in a negative light, in the sense that he teaches those who are under the law are not walking in the fullness of the promises of God as come in the Messiah. The New Testament spends no time engaging in the glorying of any ethnic group [whether it be Israel, Gentile, etc.] It’s not that the apostles were being anti Semitic, it’s just the emphasis is on the new kingdom of God and the new people of God [the church made up of both Jew and Gentile]. Its striking to compare the writings of the first Jewish believers to the current trends amongst many evangelical preachers, the two don’t mesh well.

(1326) FOR AS THE NEW HEAVENS AND EARTH, WHICH I WILL MAKE, SHALL REMAIN, SO SHALL YOUR SEED AND NAME REMAIN- Isaiah 66:22 Well the senate finally passed health care reform; they still have some hurdles ahead, but they got the 60 votes needed to move forward. I do find it utterly corrupt that any single party would actually pass something that took away benefits from Republican states and not take them away from Democratic ones. And then have the audacity to make the ‘losing states’ underwrite the ‘winning states’. I can’t imagine the uproar in the country if Bush did this. Nebraska [Ben Nelson] cut a deal where they will never pay for the extended costs of Medicaid, ever. The ‘Federal govt.’ will forever cover their new costs. They are the only state that gets this deal. The Federal govt. pays stuff by taxing other states; in essence the rest of the country will be underwriting Nebraska, simply because they needed the Democratic vote. Florida, under Bill Nelson, another Democrat, will be the only state that will not lose Medicare Advance. This is a very popular program with senior citizens and every other state will lose this program. Why not Florida? Florida has lots of retired seniors, they need to keep the senate seat Democratic, so to get the seniors votes they did this deal. These deals are fundamentally corrupt, we are doing this at a time in the nation where we will be forcing families to pay a yearly 750 dollar fine if they don’t get insurance [or a 2% fine of their income, whichever is higher!] and many average income earners are really going to be in a bind. Much of the money will pay the profits and salaries of multi millionaires; this is wrong. In the 1960’s Harvey Cox [professor at Harvard] penned the book ‘the secular city’ it was a play on words from saint Augustine’s ‘city of God’. Augustine, as a true Amillennialist, wrote about the influence of the church/kingdom of God on the nations of the world, and how you could not separate virtue from public/political life. Cox would challenge this idea and teach that you could have a separation; you could run a nation apart from the morality of the church. Harvard would also produce the philosophy of ‘Pragmatism’ you govern by what is expedient, do what it takes to get the job done- don’t worry about what’s right or wrong type of a thing. God says his word/standards don’t go away, the things he states/creates are there for good. The Democratic Party ran rough shod over some very basic principles of right and wrong, when Harry Reid was asked about these insider deals, he said that’s the way they do business. In essence he said if your state didn’t get to do some under the table deal, then that’s your senator’s fault. The senate leader was being very pragmatic, doing what he needed to do to get the votes. I think they might have traded for a few votes today, at the expense of a bunch of them tomorrow.

(1319) Isaiah 65:1-10 Isaiah says that the Lord was ‘found’ by those who were not looking for him, and that those who were looking for him [thru religious actions] were not finding him. He rebukes his people Israel because they developed a religious mentality that took the true revelation of God and exchanged it ‘for a lie’. But the lord says he still saw a remnant of value within her; she was like a cluster of grapes that went bad but had a few ‘good apples’ left. When Jesus appeared to Israel in the 1st century they were waiting for Gods promise to them to be fulfilled. They were ‘waiting for the kingdom’. If you were to encapsulate any singular idea in the preaching of Jesus that was the most prominent, it would be his declaration of the Kingdom of God being now present as he preached. Israel saw the kingdom thru natural eyes, they believed that the restored temple played a major role in Gods coming kingdom. Understand that the restoring of the temple by Herod [the one before the Herod of Jesus day] was a spectacular event; the temple was grand and the Jewish people regulated their life around its rituals. It was only reasonable for Israel to believe that the next step would be the restoring of her national sovereignty by a coming Messiah. They had their temple restored first and were waiting for the national independence to follow- a reverse of what many modern dispensationalists believe. But instead Jesus tells them in no uncertain terms that their understanding of the kingdom is wrong, that the kingdom will not come by observing outward events, but it was already present thru his appearing. In Jesus parables he speaks of the values of this kingdom, forgiveness, laying down your rights for others; he is talking about a spiritual kingdom. When the disciples show him the temple and its grandeur, he states flatly ‘there will not be left one stone upon another when all is said and done’ huh? So Jesus without a doubt challenged their understanding of the kingdom and how it would outwardly manifest in society- it’s not about temples and homelands! He gathers a ‘few grapes’ from the cluster [The 12 disciples] and uses them as the foundation stones of a new kingdom and temple. These apostles would launch the great new movement/kingdom of God thru the proclamation of the gospel. They would write some harsh things about the temple and old law economy of Israel as a nation. The disciple John would refer to the synagogue as ‘the synagogues of satan’ ouch! [Revelation] Paul would say those are not Jews who are Jews ‘outwardly’ [it wasn’t an ethnic thing anymore] but those who had the ‘circumcised heart’ would be counted as the true Israel of God [Romans/Galatians]. And the overall language of the 12 Jewish apostles was not one that would fit in with a scenario of a restored Jewish temple with restored sacrifices and a national homeland. I mean you can’t get much more clearer than this! And yet in our day you have many well meaning believers looking for all these outward signs of ‘when the kingdom will come’. We bypass the main writings of the New Testament [like the things I just quoted] and we go hunting in Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation- we find all types of prophetic words that seem to support our obsession with some outward restoration of these things in order to justify our system, we basically have fallen into the same error of first century Israel, we are looking for the kingdom in all the wrong places. I understand that many believers who hold to these beliefs are sincere and well meaning, many of them have a genuine love for the Jewish people and this is commendable. But we need to heed the words of ‘the few good grapes in the cluster’ they did not exalt Israel’s natural status nor did they see the kingdom of God thru the lens of restored temples and homelands, they believed that all who would receive the Messiah were presently being built into a temple made without human hands, the ‘true Israel of God- the heavenly New Jerusalem that is coming down from God out of heaven’.

-(1318) PROTESTANT/CATHOLIC RELATIONS? Those of you who have read this blog for any length of time know that as a Protestant believer [though I prefer simply Christian] I write often on the Catholic tradition and I also see them as fellow believers in the Lord. I do realize that I have lost readers over the years because of this. Recently there has been another effort among Catholics and Evangelicals to join together in common cause; the name of this effort is ‘the Manhattan Declaration’ it’s a simple statement amongst Catholics and Protestants stating our common belief in areas of life and morality. It’s a good statement that I signed. Since the 16th century Reformation [the beginning of Protestantism] you have had varying approaches to these things. Some see the Catholic Church as a ‘non church’ they see her as a false religion who might have some Christians within her but for the most part it would be like saying Mormonism might have some believes in it despite the false beliefs. Others see the Catholic Church as a good church that has certain beliefs that Protestants don’t accept, but never the less she is part of the Body of Christ [this is my view]. So for the sake of unity amongst the various groups of Christians in the world today, I write on both traditions. Okay, during the Reformation the Catholic church had what some refer to as a ‘counter reformation’ the 16th century council was held at Trent and the church for the most part came down strong on retaining most of the Catholic tradition that existed for centuries; they reaffirmed the 7 sacraments, stuck with papal authority [though the doctrine of Papal infallibility would not become official doctrine until Vatican 1 in the 1800’s] and history tells us that the Catholics came down on the side of very little change in the area of doctrine. They even retained the doctrine of indulgences that is very questionable indeed. But they also dealt with corruption in their ranks to some degree and this was noble. They also had some good points to make in refuting what they felt was not enough emphasis on ‘good works’ amongst the reformers [Luther]. So the church in no uncertain terms rejected any idea that the Reformation was a move of God, they saw it as a rebellious split. Now in the 19th century you had Vatican 1 [the name of the council] and once again the church affirmed her stand on coming down strong for the traditional Catholic position; this council officially recognized the infallibility of the Pope [only when speaking ‘Ex Cathedra’ which means ‘from the chair’]. The church does not teach the infallibility of the Pope unless he is making a doctrinal statement in his official capacity as Pope. This teaching has a special importance for today’s Catholics. Pope Benedict was a prolific writer/theologian before becoming Pope and he has written extensively on doctrinal issues and it would not be difficult to find some of his teachings coming down more in favor of a strong Christology than previous Popes- a good thing in my view. So anyway it wasn’t until the last few centuries that some very difficult doctrines would become official; Immaculate Conception, the assumption of Mary and the infallibility of the Pope. These are all fairly recent developments that would make it more difficult for outward unity. But in the 20th century you had somewhat of a change in attitude from the Vatican [at least from Pope John the 23rd]. From 1962-65 Vatican 2 was convened and you had somewhat of a division between the conservative Catholic Bishops and the more progressive types. There were a couple hundred Bishops from the U.S. alone that would attend; it was really a worldwide council. The more liberal minded wanted less of a hard line position in some areas while the more conservative stuck with the old hard line position. When all was said and done there was a more open spirit towards change and acceptance of other Christian churches at the end. Many of the changes were seen to be too much from the conservative Catholic view; things like saying the mass in the common language, moving the altar forward in the ‘church building’ and the Priest facing the people during the mass [the old mass had the Priest facing the altar along with the people] so anyway lots of Catholics did not like the change and there was a dispute among many conservative Catholics. Then in 1968 Pope Paul issued an encyclical [official paper] called ‘Humanae Vitae’, which rejected the use of contraceptives and it was a step back towards the old hard line church. Some Protestants go a little too far in praising Vatican 2, they might refer to it as a revolution in the Catholic Church, this might be going a little too far. I recognize and appreciate the new attitude of Vatican 2, and I believe some of the more hard line Protestants [Reformed] should show a little more tolerance because of it [some of the older reformers still hold to ALL the beliefs of the Westminster confession, which officially teaches the Pope is the Antichrist! Ouch] But as a realist myself I still see some real doctrinal differences that I still have major problems with. But in some areas I am in more agreement with the Catholics than with Protestants- especially on some of the end time teachings that American Fundamentalists hold to. So all in all I appreciate some of the changes, I think some Protestants need to be more willing to come to the table, and I personally would not go so far as to actually become Catholic [which many good men have done, and I do not reject their convictions at all, they did have personal reasons for doing so]. All in all I agree with the Catechism of the Catholic Church that states ‘Christ is the unique word of God in scripture’ this is something we should all be able to agree with.

(1313) GOD WANTS TO MARRY YOU! Isaiah 62- This chapter uses a lot of marriage imagery, the bridegroom rejoicing over his new bride and ‘all your sons being joined to you’. In the New Testament Jesus himself uses this imagery when speaking about Gods people and the relationship God had with Israel. Now, it’s important to see that the New Testament [especially Paul] uses the imagery of the bride and bridegroom when speaking of the church; Paul will teach that both Jew and Gentile are making up this bride that the Lord ‘is married to’. Some dispensationalists [end time beliefs] make a distinction between the language used concerning Israel [Gods wife] and the language used concerning the church [bride] but if you see the mystery that Paul is speaking about you see that the fulfillment of this bride [both Jew and Gentile] being joined unto Jesus includes both people groups. What I’m saying is the New Testament teaches us that all these Old Testament promises of God rejoicing over his bride are being fulfilled thru the ‘eternal purpose’ spoken of by Paul in the letter to the Ephesians. God has his bride! This chapter also speaks of the sons coming to this new land [the church-people of God] and being joined to her as a bridegroom is joined to his bride. Recently I have had some good brothers express a desire to ‘join up-team up-partner with us’ in some way thru the ‘ministry’. These are Pastors from Pakistan and are doing a great work reaching out to Muslims. They are doing a very dangerous work, pray for them [they just got out of jail; they were thrown in jail for preaching the gospel]. Anyway somehow they found this site and really like it, that’s great. But I gave them the same response that I give to everybody who contacts us with the well meaning intent to ‘join up’ with us; I simply told them that there is nothing to join, no money to ‘partner up with us’ we are simply a voluntary group of Christ followers who are trying to spread the kingdom by doing what the Lord tells us. In essence if you are blessed by the teachings, just do your best to follow our example and let the work grow on its own, no need for me to come and preach, take offerings, or anything along those lines- just take the word of God and run with it! The point is sometimes ‘our friends/sons’ [those we are reaching out to] are so excited about the stuff they are learning that they want to be joined to us. It’s our job [and yours] to lead them in a way that they are joined to Christ and find their identity in him. God promised his people that he would ‘marry them’ Jesus spoke about the great marriage supper of the Lamb. These are intimate images; Paul said this was a great mystery when speaking of marriage and how it was a sign of our union with Christ [Ephesians] we need to remind ourselves that we are joined unto the Lord- not to men and their well meaning organizations.

(1311) FOR YOUR SHAME YE SHALL HAVE DOUBLE [PORTION/BLESSING] AND FOR YOUR CONFUSION THEY SHALL REJOICE IN THEIR PORTION, THEY TOO WILL HAVE A DOUBLE PORTION IN THEIR LAND – Isaiah 61:7 In the book of Acts Peter says God has highly exalted Jesus and he has received the promise of the father [Spirit] and because of this he has poured out ‘this which you see and hear’. I like that, God gave 2 types of testimonies; things you see and things you hear. That spoke to me because I do both radio [hear] and blog [see]. I was watching a prophecy brother the other day, he’s a good man, comes from the strong Dispensational school. As he was reading the declaration of the angel in the book of Luke- that Jesus will sit on the throne of his father David, the wife said ‘gee, I never saw that before, Jesus has never yet sat on David’s throne’. And the husband said ‘see, your theological training is kicking in’. If you actually read all of Peter’s sermons in the book of Acts, you will see that the apostolic witness sees Jesus as presently ruling on the throne from the exalted right hand of God. They do not see an idea that the promise from the angel about Jesus has yet to be fulfilled. I am familiar with the distinctions that dispensationalist’s make, I just think they go too far in postponing the ‘actual/literal’ rule of Jesus to some future date. The apostle’s language includes the fulfillment of the Davidic rule with the present ruling position of Jesus at Gods right hand. I do not totally discount the reality that at the Second Coming there will be literal future aspects to that rule, but scripture already ‘sees’ Jesus ruling in Gods kingdom. Well anyway Jesus received this high position because of the shame and confusion [agony] he went thru. He now has the right to pour out things both ‘seen and heard’. He poured out the promise of the Father on his people and they became this great kingdom of Priests and Kings unto God and his father [Revelation and Isaiah]. In this present kingdom we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Jesus is the Lamb as it were slain sitting on the throne- he’s not waiting for some future date to receive the throne, he’s already there!

(1308) I caught an interview last night of an Indian author who wrote a book, the title is ‘truth and transformation’ it deals with how India and much of the Eastern world has a great degree of economic dishonesty and hiding of money from the govt. and so forth. But that the Western world has less of this dishonesty going on in a large scale. It was interesting to hear the point of view that because the west still had a degree of Christian morality that this had a lasting effect on society. You rarely hear this view from Easterners. But the brother warned how we are fast approaching the rest of the world in the area of economic/corporate corruption. Any way he mentioned how in the book of Revelation the church is described as ‘a city’- the city that comes down from God out of heaven. I always liked this imagery, in Isaiah we read how this city of God has it gates open ‘day and night’ that there is never a moment where life and transactions are not happening. How can this be? Recently as I have been praying over stuff, and also have posted various requests on the blog I realized that we have people praying and reading and ‘partaking’ of the stuff we are doing, this happens on a 24 hour basis because we have friends from around the world who are connected to us. So Gods ‘city’ is one that consists of believers the world over. There are Christians ‘in church’ 24-7, you don’t have to start a 24 hour prayer service to accomplish this, God has done it by having a worldwide community of people who he describes as ‘my House of Prayer’. This house/temple is open all the time, Isaiah also says that the city will have ‘no walls’ because of its great size, the multitude of men and cattle within is so large that it doesn’t need to wall herself off from society! As a matter of fact a river flows from this temple to the nations and all the kings of the earth will bring their glory and riches into her. I like the city imagery a lot, Revelation says this city has no need for a sun or moon, because the Lamb is the light of the city. No need for a temple either, we are the temple! [as well as Jesus, we as his Body join with him in the temple imagery] When reading scripture it’s important to see things thru a correct lens. I am half way thru the book by Carl Olson ‘will Catholics be left behind’. Carl is an ex Fundamentalist who converted to Catholicism and he gives an excellent overview of the history of Eschatology [end time stuff] much of my teaching agrees with Carl’s view. But reading thru it reminds me of some of the silly views that people hold about end time things, how some see the city ‘coming down from God out of heaven’ as an actual physical city that will be suspended above the earth during the Millennium and that believers will be living in ‘the sky’ while having access to the planet and interacting with Millennium citizens. Silly stuff, the city is called ‘the bride, the Lambs wife’ it’s quite obvious that John is using prophetic imagery to describe the church. But this is a problem among certain Fundamentalists and this view is quite popular in our day. When we grasp the ‘better’ view of these things then we can apply them in practical ways that effect society in a positive way- Gods people/city being open/available for light and help and mercy to all the ‘kings/nations of the earth’ Jesus who is our light can also enlighten the nations who are willing to hear. Stuff like this is helpful, while also recognizing that there are real/literal things that Revelation deals with, like the 2nd coming and resurrection and final judgment. Well anyway we are all part of this 24-7 community that has things happening all the time, we belong to a great worldwide church, the city of God, let’s let our light shine to the nations as much as possible.

(1285) Yesterday I had some time to read my latest issue of Christianity Today, was kinda surprised that they had a few articles on the Prosperity Gospel. It’s really been a while since I dealt with it myself, but I always felt that the effect of the more extreme teachings from the movement had more bad influence on many good believers than the average pastor/preacher understood. To have entire groups/generations of Christians thinking that Jesus and his men were rich and that those who rejected extreme wealth were ‘old traditionalists’ these major distortions have had a terrible effect on biblical Christianity. But it usually takes a generation or 2 before people can really see the mistakes and grow in their understanding, most times people will defend to the death their positions with proof texts that ‘prove I’m right’ and that the other guy is wrong. Well anyway I thought it interesting that they covered the subject. I mailed off a package of tapes/materials to my friend who converted to Islam, I included the latest posts I wrote on the Ft. Hood tragedy. It really is a sad situation, I don’t mean to sound like I am defending the actions of the Major who committed the crime; we just need to realize that these radical ideas exist on the internet sites and they do have an effect on unstable people. Many Christians hold to violent militaristic views of the Old Testament in a way that they view the fulfilling of prophecy thru the lens of killing non Jews. These believers think that it is the purpose of God to involve himself on the side of the military of Israel and that current successful missions are a testimony to God’s grace. These views can be just as off base as those embraced by the Muslim extremists; they view God and his kingdom thru violent means that has one side killing the other and thinking that this is God’s will. Christians and religious people as a whole need to reject all types of killing scenarios as being from God. Yes nations and countries will fight and war, I am not advocating national pacifism, but when we mix in the wars of nations with the kingdom of God we err. Well anyway I felt like I should share these few thoughts today, it’s a rainy Sunday morning and I had a good early prayer time and got a little wet. But I like quoting the verses ‘let your doctrine drop down like rain and your speech distill like dew’ when praying in the rain, it ads texture to the prayer. Hopefully will do another chapter of 2nd kings tomorrow, I plan on doing Galatians after that. I will do both radio and blog when teaching Galatians, I haven’t done a new radio teaching in over a year! Just running old studies that have never aired yet. Try and read up on Galatians in the next few weeks and familiarize yourself with the text before I teach it, I will probably ‘correct’ some off balanced prosperity teaching on the ‘blessing of Abraham’ and some stuff like that. Okay that’s it for now, God bless for today and try and remember to pray weekly for us- check out the prayer request section on the blog and pray thru it weekly, it helps.

(1249) 2ND KINGS 6:8-23 The king of Syria wars against Israel, but every time he tries to set up an ambush someone keeps informing the king of Israel about it. So the Syrian king calls in his men and accuses them of leaking the info. They inform the king that this is the prophetic work of Elisha. So they go get him. As the Syrian army encamps around Elisha’s place, his servant wakes and up sees the troops and panics, Elisha prays and asks God to ‘open his eyes’ and he gets a sneak peek into the supernatural realm and sees all these chariots of angelic hosts around him ‘there are more with us than with them’ a famous verse indeed. So Elisha prays to the Lord to ‘blind’ the Syrians from his true identity [sort of like when Jesus was with the disciples on the Emmaus road] and he goes to the troops and tells them ‘the man you’re looking for is not here, follow me, I’ll show you where he is’. So he leads them into the midst of Samaria and right into the hands of the king of Israel. Then he prays ‘Lord open their eyes’ and they are in ‘shock and awe’ [to quote Rummie]. The king of Israel asks Elisha ‘should I slay them’? Elisha says no, but feed them and treat them well. He asks the king ‘would you slay those whom you captured thru military means’? Obviously the answer is no, so likewise they should be treated like captives and not harmed. Okay, how should we read the biblical narratives on war? One of the most known atheists in the country today is Sam Harris; he is a sincere writer and speaks against what he sees as the flaws of war based religion. He echoes the words of Thomas Paine in his book ‘the age of reason’ [18th century]. Harris sees the danger of world religions embracing a war mentality and believing that terror and warfare are on their side. He cites realities like the Muslim radicals who shout ‘God is great’ as they blow themselves and innocents up. He points out the stories in the bible where God commands his people to wipe out other ethnic groups [genocide] and he berates the Christians for their militaristic end time views and how their beliefs in a violent return of Jesus hinder world peace. Many thinkers have raised these questions and the church shouldn’t simply shrug these men off as pagans. In the story we just read it should be noted that God himself, thru his prophet, commanded the fair treatment of captives. That Jesus and the New Testament revelation are a radical revolution of peaceful demonstration ‘if your enemy hits you, don’t retaliate and return evil for evil. Instead bless them’. In general believers need to reorient their world view around the gospels and the actual message and life of Christ. When using the Old Testament we are to look for the hidden nuggets of wisdom that can apply to our lives today, but we need to avoid a direct application of wiping out our enemies with today’s military conflicts. The church in our day really needs an overhaul in our thinking in these areas, just the other day the U.S. military accidently killed an Afghan family of 6, kids and parents. A few months back we bombed an area and accidently killed around 140 civilians. The military at first said it was possible that the Taliban killed these people. After a few months review we came out and admitted that we did not properly screen these homes for civilians. We messed up and killed a bunch of people. I know all the reasons behind the things we are doing [I think!] but if your wife and kids were just bombed right now, by accident, would it make you feel better to know they really didn’t intend on killing them? Our country was/is up in arms over the sprinkling of water on the face of a few terrorists, one of the reasons is said to be that when we ‘torture’ terrorists we give fuel to the Muslim world by not playing by the rules. Or when we detain enemy combatants at Gitmo that this becomes a selling point to Muslim radicals that they can use to recruit people to their cause. I can see no greater ‘recruiting tool’ than the accidental killing of innocent Muslim women and children, yes I do realize that we do not mean to ‘kill them’ but this still does not change the reality on the ground.

(1237) WHAT DOES ‘SOLA SCRIPTURA’ MEAN? During the 16th century Protestant Reformation you had the Reformers [Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc.] come down on the side of ‘sola scriptura’ which meant ‘the bible alone’. That is they felt the scriptures should have the final say in deciding the doctrinal matters of the church. Many modern Protestant groups have taken a wrong view of sola scriptura; they seem to think it means ‘solo scriptura’- me and my bible. What’s the difference? The historic Protestants felt the bible had the final say, but they also taught that the scriptures should be understood and read thru the historic framework of the church. That is the ‘sense’ that most believers have had when reading Gods word. Calvin would appeal to the past writings of Augustine and other church fathers when making his case. During the time of the Reformation you also had what came to be called ‘the Radical Reformation’ or the Ana-Baptists [which meant re-baptizers]. They rejected infant baptism and wanted to make a clean break from all traditional Christianity. The Magisterial Reformers thought they went too far, I stood at the spot in Zurich where Zwingli ‘baptized’ them in the river [he drowned them]. So as you can see there are various degrees of ‘sola/solo scriptura’. Is it possible to come to a right conclusion from reading the bible alone? Sure, most of my ideas have come this way. The problem seems to be when preachers/believers read things out of context. When reading any book, if you took a verse/sentence from one chapter and added it to another chapter. And then memorized all these sentences and put together your own meaning, then no matter how ‘well meaning’ the person is, he is going to get the story wrong. The Reformers believed it was important to read and understand the bible in the context of the wider church. Pope Benedict agrees, he said it was important to know how the whole church has viewed a particular truth thru out all time. These insights are important for our day. Is it possible for ‘all the church’ to have missed it on a certain subject? You bet, the point is when ‘the whole church’ begins to rise up and say ‘yeah, we missed it’ then you have true reform. Too often you find separated groups of believers who have grasped onto some truth, maybe it’s a real insight that others don’t see yet, but then they become isolated and their truth becomes a stumbling block. They often use their truth as the criteria to judge all other Christians. They will discount everything the other Christian groups have to say, because they ‘know for sure’ that they are wrong on that one particular doctrine. I think it’s time for the Protestant/Evangelical church to get back to ‘sola scriptura’; that is to read and believe in the bible as the final authority on doctrinal decisions, but to also have a working knowledge on how all other Christian groups see, or have seen these same truths.

(1222) BY THY FAVOR THOU HAST MADE MY MOUNTAIN TO STAND STRONG- Psalms 30:7 These last few weeks we have been hitting some single Psalms and reviewing some good books. I wanted you guys [and gals] to start committing to memory some of these verses. I also wanted to develop an appetite in you for reading, reading good stuff [you know, avoiding stuff like ‘the mark of the beast is here’ and other silly stuff]. I was just outside praying [early] and in the distance I saw the lightning. This last week we have had rain, thunder and lightning. Texas has been in one of the worst droughts ever, one of the Psalms I added to memory this last week was ‘the voice of the Lord is upon the waters, the God of glory thundereth. The Lord is upon many waters’ I have been praying it and incorporated it into my intercession time- not for literal rain, but in a spiritual sense. Yet it worked for the real stuff too! I want to encourage you guys, be steadfast in prayer. These last few weeks I felt the Lord speaking to me about not growing weary in prayer; we covered the parable of the lady who kept pleading with the judge and finally got an answer. Jesus teaching us on consistent prayer. We hit some verses from James on enduring thru trials and difficulty. The scripture says not to grow weary in doing well, in due season we shall reap if we don’t faint. Getting back to our verse ‘you have made my mountain to stand strong’ your ‘mountain’ if you will is the whole area/region that God has ordained for you to function in. To some of you that’s the local church group you relate to, others it’s the state or country. And for others it’s a world wide ‘mountain’ [place of authority/ministry]. God alone can make you fruitful in the field/area of influence he has given you, but it’s your part to maintain the field, the ‘home base’ the capitol city if you will. Scripture says ‘David [King David] dwelt in the fortress city and called it the city of David [he knew who he was and what area of influence he was to wield] and he built round about from the surrounding terraces and inward’. He knew that for him to have a broader regional influence he had to have stability at the home base, the main city [Jerusalem in his case]. As you trust God to show favor to your mountain, remember to be faithful to the home base as well. Jesus sent the Spirit to the church and gave her a witness in Jerusalem, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. If you don’t start at home, it will never spread to the uttermost!

(1216) lets try and do a few things; first, I read a few more chapters in Wrights book [N.T. Wright] and as much as I really like his writing, I do have a few problems with some of the ways he states stuff. He kinda tries to walk the middle road in the area of the second coming and the physical nature of it. He does say he believes in the real second coming and that it did not happen yet. He does teach that Jesus is ‘in heaven’ [Gods realm] physically- good. But he also says stuff like ‘when Jesus ascended you don’t believe he lifted off vertically from the planet’ [actually I do!] or when Jesus comes back it wont be like some spaceman descending out of space [well I know he’s not a ‘spaceman’ but I do believe he will come from ‘out there’]. It was statements like this that caused me a little concern in the past. He also states that he is not a full Preterist, and distances himself from those who tried to claim him as one. But you can hardly blame them, he really does at times sound like he is one [Preterists believe the second coming happened in a.d. 70- it’s a long story] Wright empathically says he does not believe that. Yet he says all the statements from Jesus on ‘his coming’ do not refer to an actual second coming in the future. But he believes Paul and other New Testament passages do teach a real, literal second coming, but that Jesus never spoke of it. To be frank, I think brother Wright opens up the door to all the accusations and confusion that some people have about his position. I still like Wright, he is an excellent N.T. scholar and 1st century historian, but I think there are some problems with his views on the second coming. He definitely states he believes in a real, physical second coming. But instead of it being ‘Jesus coming down from somewhere’ it will be more like ‘Gods realm [heaven] joining our realm’ and at that time he will physically be with us. Well I do believe that at the second coming ‘both realms unite’ that at that moment we will have a ‘new heavens and earth’ I just don’t see the point in Wright’s language when he seems to make light of the physical aspects of Christ’s return. I also agree with him 100% about the New Testament not teaching a ‘rapture’ he rightfully shows us that the ‘rapture chapter’ [1st Thessalonians 4] is the same as 1st Corinthians 15. There simply is no ‘secret coming’ taught in the New Testament [some will be caught by surprise, but it will be no secret!] All in all I like Wright, will continue to read him, just thought I needed to mention these points. Okay, let’s turn to politics. The climate in the country continues to be really bad at this time [9-09] I watched MSNBC show over and over again a picture of a man toting a sub machine gun on his back at some Obama town hall. Of course this is dangerous and nuts! The problem is Chris Matthews portrayed it along with the mindset of ‘see these white skinhead radicals, these racists who are against change’ his whole rant against the people opposing Obama is done in this vain. Sure enough, another news organization showed you the full picture of the man with the gun on his back; he was a black man. Why mention this? Stuff like this, purposefully not telling the whole story, or taking an incident and being dishonest about it to prove your point, this stuff creates racial tensions all on its own. There is no need to try and fabricate a scenario in order to make it fit your story. There are enough real nuts in the country for the news media to not have to fabricate stuff like this, to make the audience think that the ‘gun man’ was an anti Obama ‘right winger’, he obviously was not. Those who oppose the president should do so on purely political grounds, those who support him should take the same view. To be against or for a person because of their race is wrong, very wrong. But people should not feel intimidated if they want to oppose him for the right reasons. When the country sees this type of race card being played, this breeds a type of racism all on its own. Did the bill being floated on Capitol Hill fund abortions- you bet it did! I know the denials have gone forth vehemently, Obama himself publicly said that his position in national health care would include provisions for women’s reproductive rights; he was point blank asked this question. In no uncertain terms he said it would. But after the heat hit the fan they of course would not say it like this. In essence the proposed bill would have included language for ‘women’s reproductive rights’ but because the term ‘abortion’ was not specifically stated, the politicians said ‘oh no, those who think abortion is in there are misleading you’ they lied to you. So let’s try and pass what both sides agree on; pass laws on making it illegal for an insurance company to drop you if you get sick. Provide funding for those who can’t buy insurance and try and get everyone insured. Do tort reform. Get the stuff done that can get done, don’t create all types of problems by bringing up ‘reproductive rights’ there are too many people [Democrats and Republicans] who are truly opposed to abortion in a fundamental way, leave that language out. And for heavens sake, if the media has a picture of a man with a gun strapped to his back, don’t portray him as some white skinhead, especially if the guys black!

(1214) YOU WILL NOT LEAVE MY SOUL IN HELL, OR ALLOW ME TO DECAY- Psalm 16:10 [my quick version of it!] This verse is quoted in Acts 2 and 13; it speaks of the Fathers promise of resurrection to the Son. Being I am reading Wright’s book on the resurrection at this time, I thought it good to talk a little. Wright lays out a good historical argument for the resurrection of Jesus. He shows how the liberal belief that the disciples ‘felt a real spiritual change after Jesus died’ wouldn’t cut it in a society that had other messianic figures rise and later be killed. The fact that these others stayed dead was a sure sign of their failure. Wright goes and gives a little parable on how the followers of past dead messiahs would have never gotten away with ‘let’s claim victory for our movement, even though our leaders died’. Good point, but the skeptics could point to Muhammad in the 7th century to refute this. But I get the point. Also, when I say ‘liberal theologians’ on this blog, I am speaking of historical liberalism, not the truncated view that certain fundamentalists hold to; you know, those who view liberalism thru the lens of what bible version a person uses, or whether or not you hold to certain end time scenarios. These views are not what I mean when speaking of liberals. Classic historical liberalism is a tag that gets put on those who begin denying the physical resurrection of Jesus and other fundamental truths of Christianity. So both Catholic and Protestant groups are not considered liberal, unless they deny the basic fundamentals [i.e.; you are not liberal, in the classic sense, just because you embrace the sacraments or other disagreements between Protestants and Catholics]. Now some liberals have done some good. The 19th century liberal scholars- Van Harnack and Albert Reitschal [I know these names are spelled wrong, but no spell check can fix stuff like this] challenged the development of historic theology by promoting the view that because the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek, that the early councils and systematic theologians lost the feel for story/narrative because they allowed Greek philosophy to influence their creeds and councils. They would point to the fact that much of the language used to ‘dissect’ the three persons of the Trinity was borrowed from the Greek philosophers and stuff like that. They argued that the church should return to her Jewish roots as seen in the Hebrew culture and begin ‘telling the story’ once again, as opposed to getting into the technical aspects of Greek language and thought. Now, were they right? Partially, in my view. But the problem with their view is it did not fully appreciate the fact that the New Testament did come to us thru the medium of the Greek language. So just because the Hebrew language is short on detail and long on story, this does not mean that the church also needs to be ‘short on detail’, because our New Testaments are in Greek. But they did make some good points. So anyway God promised Jesus [and us] that he would not leave us ‘in hell’ or allow us to corrupt/decay. The early church most certainly believed in the physical resurrection of Jesus from the grave, though the liberals have some good things to add to the conversation, some of their ideas are down right lethal.

(1213) MY EYES ARE EVER TOWARD THE LORD, HE SHALL PLUCK MY FEET OUT OF THE NET- Psalms 25:15 There’s a verse that says ‘our souls have escaped like a bird out of the snare of a fowler’. I hate snares, here where I live we have these lawn stickers, you know the type that when you walk in the house they stick all over you. You usually don’t know they are there until you take your shoes off and step on them. Proverbs says that when you walk by the house of the sluggard the weeds and stuff have overtaken it, the wall is broken down. God delivers us from these snares, he ‘plucks’ our feet out of the net. When you’re in a net you can’t pull yourself out. It’s not a matter of strength or effort, its gravity! You basically need an outside source to act on your behalf. That’s what we call original sin and substitutionary atonement. I just started N.T. Wright’s book ‘surprised by hope’ I think I am going to like it. He lives in England and is sharing from a ‘beyond the pond’ perspective. He already has laid out the case that the hope of the believer is resurrection, not evacuation! He will challenge the traditional belief of heaven as the goal, and speak about resurrection and how it relates to the here and now. That is when the church embraces a view that sees the departed soul in heaven as its goal, then we have a tendency to neglect the kingdom here and now. I get the point, and also see how Wright would appeal to the emergent brothers, but I have read Wright on line in the past and felt like he might go a little overboard in the ‘soul sleep’ category. These are the groups that believe the soul is in a state of ‘sleep’ or unconsciousness at death, and at the resurrection it reunites with the body again [true enough] and ‘wakes’ up back into a conscious state. This is not the classic/orthodox view, though some ‘Christian’ groups embrace it. The New Testament most certainly teaches that ‘to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord’ [Paul] and ‘he had a desire to depart [die] and be with Christ which is far better’ [Paul again]. So let’s see what happens in the book, I do like his approach and style, as long as Wright doesn’t totally abandon the present, as well as future hope of the church. We have the assurance that no matter how difficult things get, no matter how many ‘nets/snares’ we have to deal with, that the lord will ‘pluck us from the net’ our hope truly is in the Lord, are your eyes ever towards him?

{1208} yesterday I went to my daughter’s ranch house to work on her A.C., it was over 100 degrees in the direct sun. I thought I threw my tee shirt in the car, but couldn’t find it. I worked in a long sleeve black shirt, wound up taking the whole darn thing apart [in direct sun at noon!] and felt like I got some heat exhaustion. So, it was in this environment that I finished [almost finished] the book ‘why we love the church’, boy do I have some major disagreements with Deyoung’s fundamental view of church. I think his view is very limited, I think it’s unbiblical and I almost don’t want to recommend the book at this stage [contrary to my earlier endorsement]. I was not sure if I should try and go thru some quotes and refute them, this mode often turns into a ‘he said, you say’ type of argument and usually does not convince either side. Let me simply hit a few things; page 110 ‘I do appreciate church as staged drama’ [quoting someone else] page 164 ‘the Body of Christ becomes visible to the world in the congregation gathered around word and sacrament’ [quoting the great martyr Bonhoeffer] 166 ‘you and your buddies who never ‘go to worship services’ are under no ecclesiastical authority’ 168 ‘the office itself [pastor] is not to blame’ then quotes Ephesians 4:11 to justify the modern office of ‘the pastor’, and on pages 132-135 his overall view of the crusades, well I simply wrote ‘unbelievable!’ on the margins. I always found it untenable when someone quotes the actual interaction between Paul and his first century ‘organic, communal, mystical, house churches’ in order to justify the institutional church against the ‘out of church’ church. Many learned scholars have looked at the term ‘pastor’ in Ephesians 4 and none of them [learned!] believe that this term defines the later development of pastor as the head of a local congregation who ‘administers the sacraments to the people in the building on Sunday, the Lords day’. Which reminds me of Deyoung’s use of John ‘on the Lords day’ in the book of Revelation. He believes John was speaking of Sunday ‘the Lords day’, this term more than likely is speaking of the great dramatic view of revelation and of course Jesus future coming as well as the whole period of conflicting kingdoms and Jesus final great victory. ‘His day’ simply speaking of Jesus victorious time period. Some see a set period of wrath as ‘the Lords day,’ to see an early ‘Lords day’ as Sunday as church day from this verse is ridiculous. And the overall argument that Deyoung makes about Christians ‘leaving church’ and trying to be Christians ‘without church’ is simply a huge blind spot of Deyoung. He tries to say [or says] that because the word ‘church’ [ecclesia] means assembly [true enough] that those groups who practice community without ‘church building, liturgy, offices, etc..’ are trying to ‘be the church without the church’. Yet every single New Testament church in the bible, according to Deyoung’s view, would be ‘the church without the church’. Needless to say I disagree almost 100 percent with his view of what the Ecclesia is. This will probably be my last entry on the book [unless the last chapter has some major things that need to be addressed] Deyoung’s view of church is important for all to see [emergents, out of church believers, etc.] it is probably the basic view that most well meaning men would use to defend the traditional view. I believe this view to be very limited and fundamentally disconnected from scripture and the first century churches described in the bible. For the record, in a few hours I will be ‘attending church’ at the mega church I attend here in Corpus. I also appreciate the historic church tremendously, I agree with Deyoung [and Kluck] on the bad attitude that many in the ‘out of church’ movement have towards the historic church. I just think Deyoung went way over board in trying to say that ‘the Sunday church meeting, in the church building, with the liturgical sacraments being administered by the ecclesiastical authorities’ is what church really is. I see this view to be extremely limited and disconnected from the Ecclesia’s spoken about in scripture. I simply believe Deyoung has got it wrong. [If you think this review was too tough, just imagine if I wrote it yesterday with the heat exhaustion!] Note- To be fair Deyoung does say that you can ‘have church’ without the building, as long as you have the offices, liturgy, etc. Sort of like saying if you move the entire Sunday liturgical drama into the basement, then yes you can ‘have church’ without the building. I simply disagree with his entire view of ‘having church’.

(1205) THE LAMBS TABLE- Jesus has the meal with his men, he tells them because they have stuck it out with him thru the temptations he is appointing to them a kingdom just like his Father did with him. They will rule [exercise authority] over the 12 tribes and ‘sit with him at his table’. A few verses earlier Jesus said ‘the hand of him who will betray me is at the table’. I want you to see that ‘the table’ is a reference to the communion of the saints that Jesus brings into existence by the breaking of his Body and shedding of his Blood. Jesus was more than likely telling the disciples ‘because you guys have stuck it out, you will be the first tier of leaders in my new kingdom [the church] and will sit at my table in this kingdom [a type of the communion table]’. Now, he just gave them a lesson on what it means to exercise authority in his kingdom. He told them the world exercises authority over people by being in charge of them, ruling over them. But Jesus says he is among them as one who serves, that authority in the kingdom means you will serve others and give of your life for others. Truly the apostles will go on to found the great church of Jesus Christ thru much difficulty and suffering, none of them held the honor of a 4th century bishop in Constantine’s Rome. So the picture of them having authority at the table in his kingdom can very well mean the church. Now, I do not discount a real [literal] future application to stuff like this. I know I have riled up all my dispensationalist friends over these last few years, and I fret every day because of this! [Not] But I do realize that many good Christians read these verses and do not apply them in this way, that’s fine. My job is to show the other points of view and allow believers to come to their own conclusions. I like the Catholic scholar Scott Hahn, I don’t agree with everything he says, but I like his teaching on the book of Revelation and the ‘Lambs Supper’. Scott sees the prophetic significance of the kingdom and the church meeting around the communion table thru these images. It’s a glorifying of the Lamb type of a view, as opposed to seeing the anti- christ on every page. I disagree with Scott’s application of these truths when he applies them only to the Catholic faith. I like the idea of seeing ‘the lambs Supper’ as a glorious view of the communion of the saints of all ages, I would just give it the broader application of applying to all the saints, not only Catholic ones. Jesus told his men that they continued with him in his time of trial, because of this they would have authority in his church. I think this is a lesson for us all.

(1204) There was this man stuck on a deserted island, he was there for 30 years. Finally one day he saw a ship pass by and he started a fire to signal it. When they came to his rescue they saw that he had made 3 huts. They asked him what they were for; the first one was his house, the second was his church. What about the third one? Oh, that’s the church I used to go to [you have to be a Pastor/ex-Pastor to get his one]. I am about 1/3rd thru with the book ‘why we love the church’ [Deyoung, Kluck]. While it’s too soon to review it, let me make a few comments. First, I really like these guys a lot, I read their first book [why we’re not emergent] and will stick with their journey for now. They write from an informed historical perspective. Unashamedly Calvinist [like myself] but yet cool enough to challenge the other cool guys [emergent cool]. I don’t know if they did a chapter on ‘ecclesiology’ [their view of local church] but it would be helpful if they did/do one. They do a great job defending the historic gospel, they defend the ‘church’ and all of the great things the old traditional ‘churches’ have done over the years. They rightfully take the emergent crowd to the woodshed on their willingness to reject certain historic claims of Christianity. But I think they do not really see the legitimate challenge to the church as community versus the people who ‘go to the church on Sunday’. I think their voices are important to hear, and everyone who is reading the organic church stuff should read these guys, but I am not sure they fully see the biblical idea/concept of church as community in the New Testament. In their noble efforts to refute those who have gone too far in other areas, they might be missing the truth of the Ecclesia as defined in scripture. Okay, enough said. Jesus is eating the Passover with the disciples, he tells them he will not eat/drink with them again until the Kingdom of God comes. Was he speaking of a future restoration of nationalistic Israel and his eating the restored Passover/Communion meal at that time? I don’t think so. After Jesus rose from the dead it was important for the ‘witnesses’ [disciples] to have seen testimony that Jesus rose bodily from the grave. He tells Thomas ‘thrust your hand into my side’ he eats with them on a few occasions. He was showing them he was really alive. John’s gospel is the only one [I think] that mentions the blood and water coming from Jesus side after being pierced on the Cross. In John’s letters he speaks of the blood and water as a testimony. John also says that they were testifying of the Son, who they saw and whose hands have handled. John was combating the soon to rise Gnostic/Docetist heresies that would doubt the physical resurrection of Christ. They would say he was ‘a phantom’ [spirit]. So, why did Jesus emphasize his eating with them ‘when the Kingdom came’ [after his death and resurrection]? I think he was giving them a sign/truth that he was physically coming back. They still did not fully grasp what he was going to do, there would be some who would doubt that he really died and rose [see 1st Corinthians 15]. He was telling them that he was really going to die and really come back from the dead. The whole Christian faith stands or falls on this single reality, Paul said ‘if Christ be not risen then we are of all men most miserable’. Jesus said ‘don’t worry guys, when I come back we will eat again’.

(1202) I hit Barnes and Noble yesterday, picked up; 1- everything must change, Mclaren [couldn’t find generous orthodoxy] 2- surprised by hope, N.T. Wright [the one on justification was there, but felt this one would be better] 3- why we love the church, Deyoung and Kluck [I liked their first one, ‘why we’re not emergent’ they seem to be filling in the role of countering Viola, Barna] and last but not least 4- will Catholics be left behind, Olson. I have heard him before, he is an ex fundamentalist/evangelical and defends against the dispensational model of eschatology. The reason I wanted to mention these books is not to show off, but I want to encourage our readers to get a broad depth of what’s going on [and has gone on] in the Church worldwide, the current trends if you will. I of course realize that these few books don’t cover everything, but they challenge us to think and read from a broad based perspective, hearing what the Lord ‘might’ be saying thru other groups of Christians. Okay, lets hit one verse, in Luke 21 Jesus says as the times of judgment draw near, be careful to not fall into three traps; 1- Overeating 2- Drunkenness 3- excessive worrying. I find it interesting that Jesus mentions excess and worry as traps that believers need to avoid. How do these fit together? I finally started a subscription to the San Antonio paper, I’ve been running our blog ad in there for a while and got tired of picking the paper up every other Saturday to make sure the ad was running. I also get the Corpus paper delivered. Sure enough they did an article on one of the major prosperity ministries in the Fort Worth area, they were holding some meetings in the area. They were critical of course, quoted the main speaker ‘God has ways to get the money to you’ spoke on reassuring the audience to give, don’t let fear keep you from giving. One trucker who was in debt said he came to test God because he really needed to get out of debt. The whole environment was money focused, the article mentioned how many millions the ministry brings in annually. Jesus said fear and worry lead to excess, wanting ‘excess food, drink’ or creating an overabundance to kind of be your safety net if things go bad. Paul said we live in the world, but we use the things in it [money, material stuff] without abusing them, we don’t center our lives around wealth and investing like the unbelievers do. Sure we can be responsible and knowledgeable in these areas, but don’t make it your God. After reading the article in the paper you got the feel that the Christian group who was holding the meetings were joined by a common bond of wealth, that is the desire to make it, talk about it, focus on all the scriptures and techniques to get it. And of course at the end of each sermon they would be challenged to ‘give it’ these types of environments are focused on the wrong thing. Jesus said beware of excess, beware of letting the cares and worries of life lead you down a road where you are trying to find security in your portfolio. God will meet your needs, don’t get me wrong, but the focus should be on God, not on getting our needs met.

(1196) WE STILL KILL THE PROPHETS- At the end of Luke 19 Jesus rebukes Jerusalem for not knowing the time of her visitation. He says there were things that were presently part of her peace, but because of a wrong ‘timing’ issue, she couldn’t see them. In Revelation 21 we read of the New Jerusalem, God’s holy city. The chapter says she is the Bride, the Lambs wife. She is ‘coming down from God out of heaven’ this city truly is a product of God. Jesus sits at the right hand of the father as its head, a ‘present’ [not future!] reality. In the New Testament the church is described as ‘The Israel of God’ ‘The New Jerusalem’ ‘The Bride of Christ’ ‘The City of God’ it’s not hard to see that John is speaking of the church. He also says there was no temple in the new city, but the lamb is the light of this city and God dwells [tabernacles] directly in this city with his people. The gates of the city bear the names of the 12 tribes of Israel and the ‘foundation’ has the names of the 12 Apostles, this being a symbol for the church being comprised of both Jew and Gentile people [though the Apostles are also Jewish, they represent the new Gentile church, and the 12 tribes show that natural Israel would still play a part, but only as she is connected with the church]. In the New Testament [and Revelation] natural Jerusalem and natural Israel are described in strikingly bad terms, John calls her ‘spiritual Sodom, the place where our Lord was crucified’. The writer of Hebrews says those who continue in the sacrificial system and law, after the Cross, are treading the Blood of Jesus under foot. The basic theme of the New Testament is that thru this New Covenant in Jesus Blood, all nations and people groups [including Israel] can partake of this new City that comes down from God out of heaven. The temple and its sacrifices are associated with ‘old Jerusalem’ and the coming judgment [that came in A.D. 70]. John’s description of the new city having no temple was theologically significant; he was saying the old law system had no part in her. Truly the book of Revelation is a wonderful prophetic book given to the ‘new Jerusalem’ and Jesus himself said the things that John wrote about were realities that would ‘happen soon’ [soon even to the 1st century readers of the letters!] Johns prophetic vision [actually Jesus’] is a wonderful prophecy that belongs to us, it is ‘part of our peace’ if you will, but because we know not the ‘time of our visitation’ many of the things written in it are hidden from our eyes.

(1189) In Luke 17 the Pharisees ask Jesus when the Kingdom of God is going to come, Jesus tells them that the kingdom does not come by observing things; it’s not about geopolitical events if you will, but it is ‘within you’. He then says some will come and say ‘see here’ or ‘look there’ and Jesus says ‘go not after them, don’t follow them’. What were the Pharisees asking Jesus? To the first century Jewish mind, their expectation of the kingdom entailed the setting up of the messianic rule thru the messiah. They were looking for an outward, physical kingdom that would be set up at the capital city of Jerusalem and throw off the dominion of Roman rule. They in essence were looking for the same exact thing that the modern prophecy teachers have popularized over the last 50 years or so, they wanted Jesus on the throne and openly fighting off Israel’s physical enemies. Jesus clearly told them this was not the way the kingdom would come, or be expressed. He also warned of those who would be obsessed with ‘looking there’ or ‘seeing here’ those who would be scanning the geopolitical landscape with the goal of finding specific signs that would ‘hasten the kingdom’. Over the years I have observed various strains of belief that exist within the Christian church, I have always been uneasy about the proliferation of end time books that espouse a very limited view of end time events. Many of these scenarios are a compilation of prophetic portions of scripture from all over the bible, but they seem to ‘paste’ them together as one divine master plan that will all culminate in our day. They take Daniel, Ezekiel, Thessalonians, the Gospels and Revelation and seem to find a pattern that has all these various references speaking of one specific period of time, namely the late 20th [or early 21st] century. These passages speak of ‘the beast’ ‘the anti christ’ ‘the prince that will come’ and other descriptions of wicked men and rulers, but they apply all these verses to one man who is yet to appear on the scene. This is not the proper way to do ‘bible study’. Some of these passages might refer to the same person, but some have had their fulfillment centuries [or millennia] ago. Let’s just hit one scenario for today. In Daniel we read of a prince that will come and in the middle of the last week [7 year period] will cause the sacrifice to cease. Most commentators teach this in a way that has a future ruler who is yet to establish a peace treaty with Israel and in the middle of a 7 year period he breaks the covenant and stops the sacrifices that are taking place in a restored Jewish temple based out of Jerusalem. Now, the prophecies of the Old Testament do have remarkable accuracy. You find the appearing of Jesus prophesied to the tee from the 490 year prophecy of the ‘70 weeks’ of years. You can actually trace the years of the prophecy and they do bring you right up until the time of Christ’s appearing to Israel in the first century. But what about the last 7 [or 3.5] years? Does the prophecy about ‘the prince causing the sacrifice to cease’ mean that we have to postpone the last 7 year period for at least 2 thousand years? Right after Jesus appeared to Israel he entered into a 3 and a half year period of ministry, he in essence was with them for the first part of the last week. What happened in the middle of the week? He dies on a Cross and becomes the final sacrifice that God will ever accept for the sins of man. He in effect was the prince that caused the sacrifice to cease in the middle of the last week. But what about the other 3 and a half years? And the abomination that makes desolate that Jesus himself talked about? Let’s see, you have the nation of Israel rejecting the messiah for a 40 year testing period. They continue to practice animal sacrifices and this practice itself is called an abomination in the book of Hebrews. God was telling the 1st century Jewish community that they had so much time to accept or reject their messiah. 40 years has always been a time of probation for Israel. But they continued to reject the final sacrifice of Jesus right up until the destruction of their city and temple in A.D. 70. When Rome sacked the city under the military leader Titus, they actually besieged it for 3 and a half years. This time period was considered one of the most terrible times of trials for the nation. It was reported that women actually reverted to eating their own babies! There were also a few candidates for the ‘abomination that makes desolate, standing in the holy place’ you had the zealots [radical group] who actually desecrated the holy of holies on purpose to bring a quick uprising, you had various periods of time where certain Roman emperors attempted to set up an image of themselves in the sacred court [Caligula]. You had times where swine were purposefully sacrificed on the altar of God [Antiochus Epiphanies in the days of the Maccabees] and of course you had the actual sacrificing of animals, which the New Testament describes as an ‘abomination’ taking place in the city of Jerusalem. The point is we have a whole bunch of historic events that we can look at and see if they play any role in the various scattered prophecies in scripture. I am not saying that this view is the only valid view, but we have a type of ‘prophecy teaching’ that takes place in the U.S. that seems to discount all these other options. It is a view that is obsessed with outward signs and telling the average Christian ‘look over here, see this sign’ it is a view that Jesus rebuked when he was confronting the Pharisees. They, of all people, had every right to believe that Gods kingdom was about an actual setting up of a military type rule that would throw off Israel’s enemies, Jesus flatly told them that this was not what the kingdom was about. If the Jews of the first century were told not to look at the kingdom thru this lens, how much more should the American church re evaluate her view on end time things?

(1182) I JUST GOT MARRIED AND AM NOT ALLOWED TO COME- Ouch! In Luke 14 Jesus gives the parable of the great supper; he says a man makes this great feast and sends out his servant to tell the intended guests ‘all things are ready NOW, it’s supper time’ [not breakfast time! Supper time is a time of completion, Galatians says the fullness of the times were already present in the 1st century]. So the servant goes and tells the people ‘come’. But the people make excuses, one says ‘I have bought some land and need to go see it’ [his lucrative real estate business was too important] another said ‘I have bought some ox and need to go try them out’ and the last guy said ‘I just got married, I can’t come’. It’s been said in the annals of famous repeated jokes from previous Pastors/Teachers that this was the only brother who had a legitimate excuse [sorry about this]. So the servant comes back to the man and says ‘I invited all the intended guests [1st century Israel] and they couldn’t come’ and the master gets mad and sends the servant back out to gather all the poor and lame and outcasts of society, and they come. But the original guests are left out. This parable, like all the others, must be seen in context. Obviously Jesus is speaking to the nation of Israel and telling them that as a nation their time has come, he is their Messiah and the supper is ready. In New Testament thought [as opposed to the multitude of various theologies that people espouse] the appearing of the Messiah in the first century was the defining moment in all of human history. The national rejection of Jesus by Israel did not postpone Gods intended Kingdom work. The other guests that came to the table were all the Gentile nations who benefited by the rejection of Israel [book of Romans]. The supper time indicates that Jesus initial presenting of himself to Israel was not a sort of evangelistic call to get saved [though that was a small part of it] but it was Gods plan for the ages being fulfilled, it was a passing away of a former age [law- Old Testament economy] and a bringing into existence of a new way, the Blood of Jesus and his New Covenant. This new way was presented as ‘a full course meal’ so to speak. It was there in its fullness and would be inaugurated by the Messiah, whether Israel wanted it or not. So when we read the epistles in the New Testament we read a story of God bringing in many Gentile nations, the non Jews are now considered citizens of God’s kingdom and fellow partakers of all the Divine blessings that were restricted to Israel under the first covenant [Ephesians]. When we read the New Testament it is important to read it thru the proper lens [this being one of the pairs of glasses!] when you do it this way it allows you to see the truth of many other things. It puts the proper perspective on things. We as Christians are not waiting for a Kingdom that has been postponed for 2 thousand years, but we are already partaking of the benefits of ‘the supper’. Sure, there will be a great future day when the King returns, that’s true. But we are already living in the Kingdom at this time. In essence we are the eternal generation that Jesus spoke about when he said ‘some of you will not die until all these things are fulfilled’. If you see this ‘some of you’ as the church age, the people of God from day 1 until now. Then truly some of our brothers and sisters have gone on to be with the Lord, but there are still some of us hanging out on the planet; but whether we are alive or not when Jesus returns, I know for sure that ‘this generation’ [the church] will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled [note- I am not saying this is the only way to read these verses, but I think there is much truth to some of the way I just taught it]

(1174) Almost finished with Noll’s book [scandal of the evangelical mind] and thought it time to comment. The book was published in 1994 and I realize a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. Noll brings out great points; he shows a fundamental weakness in American evangelicalism because of the way the movement shaped a sort of anit intellectual way/thought pattern of viewing the world and society. He really takes the dispensational wing of the church to task, frankly, I was surprised how willingly he dismantled many of their belief systems. I agree with him on this issue, but was surprised that a very popular book would go this far [and still be nominated book of the year by Christianity today- back in 1994!]. I think an area of weakness in the book is Noll’s ‘over association’ of young earth creationism with the Seventh Day Adventist church, and his repeating of the charge that creationists [and fundamentalists in general] are practicing a form of ‘modern Manichaeism’. He basically links an ‘anti material spirit’ that was seen in the early Christian heretics [Gnosticism, Docetism and Manichaeism] and applies this to the views of creationists and their so called unwillingness to allow the facts from nature speak for themselves. I wrote the note ‘way too much’ a few times when reading the book. I think he’s basically mistaken on this, many early Christian thinkers did hold to a young earth view, and they were the same thinkers who rebuked these cults who rejected the natural world as evil. Overall the book is a worthwhile read, it exposes the weakness of the fundamental/evangelical movement to ‘think Christianly’ about the world and society around them. Too often believers think ‘thinking Christianly’ means introducing bible verses into the conversation, this is not what Noll is speaking about. He shows the fundamental error that arose during the modernist/fundamentalist debates of the 19th/20th centuries, and how this caused the church to accept modes of thinking and learning that were disconnected from the fathers of these movements. For instance, Jonathan Edwards, who is considered to be the greatest homegrown thinker of the American experience, he embraced an acceptance of the natural sciences as a way to learn more about the ways of God. True studies of the earth and universe and things in the world were accepted as a means of God communicating truth to his people thru the ‘book of nature’. Noll shows how the fundamentalist movement came to reject this willingness to look at the natural world and learn from it. Thus his overstated charge of Manichaeism, a group that saw the natural world as evil. A blind spot of Noll is his seeming belief that the majority of all Christians/scientists accepted as fact the old earth views of the Geologic table and the other sciences that arose at the time [like evolutionary theory]. He paints a picture that says ‘see, most believers were open to learning from science back then, but the fundamentalist movement and the rise of creationism side tracked the church’. This is simply not true. Many scientists and Christians did not accept the science of an old earth and the interpretation of the geologic table. Many fathers of the church accepted a young earth view [Noll’s creationism] since the beginning of church history. Though Noll quotes saint Augustine in his defense of thinking critically, yet Augustine himself believed in a young earth. He actually believed God made everything in an instant and the 6 days of Genesis 1 were symbolic, that God used the ‘6 day framework’ to show us his creative acts. The point being, Augustine’s spiritualizing of the days of creation did not make him an old earth believer! So there were a few things like this that I take issue with, overall I think every evangelical/protestant believer would benefit from reading the book. Noll’s challenge to the evangelical church to ‘think Christianly in all areas of life’ is a needed rebuke to many in the church. Noll is correct in showing the weakness of the American protestant church and her basic disdain of intellectual learning, thinking that higher learning in and of itself is a bad thing. This has fostered a community of believers that has cut itself off from the basic institutions that effect society as a whole [the research universities being one example]. If Christians shy away from the natural sciences and the reality that even unbelievers have at times revealed to us true things thru these studies, then we are going down a road that will eventually cut our influence off from the broader society at large.

(1166) yesterday I was finishing up Last Days Madness, by Gary Demar, and the book by Mark Noll showed up at my door [the scandal of the evangelical mind] I got thru the first 50 pages and really like it a lot. I do realize these books are dated, they’ve been around for a while, but I have been trying to catch up on the classics that I have never read before. Lots of my library has scholarly stuff, but most of the books were purchased at half price books, or ordered from Amazon, so I tend to miss some of the classics. I just read Luke 11, the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. I like Luke’s version of it ‘give us bread day by day’ the daily bread request. Then Jesus goes right into the story of the guy whose friend shows up at his door, he realizes that he doesn’t have enough bread for his friend so he goes to another friend at midnight and asks for help. The other friend is in bed, but because of his friend’s boldness and persistence he gives him bread. James says we have not because we ask not, then he says sometimes we have not because we are asking out of selfishness, to simply get stuff to feed our lusts. Did James contradict Jesus? Did Jesus teach that we get whatever we want? I do find it interesting that Jesus gave us the story about the friend right after the Lords Prayer. In the Lords Prayer we ask ‘give us enough bread for today’ and then Jesus shows us what type of ‘bread asking’ this is. Asking for another! Basically when we recognize that we don’t have the wherewithal to meet the needs of others, we go to God and say ‘lord, I know these friends of mine are looking to me for answers, I really don’t have what it takes to be honest about it, but if you can give me some bread/life for them I will do my best to share it with them’. I like that, Jesus gives the bread to those who recognize that they are insufficient, they know they don’t have the ‘intellectual gravitas’ to cut it! When I was reading yesterday, I also grabbed one of my church histories off the shelf and started thru it. I like re-reading the good stuff, there are too many facts in these books to read them only once and think that’s enough. So as I’m reading thru I realize that it’s a very good read, you know, one of those books that reads easily. I was reading Karl Barth’s history on 19th century Protestant Theology and it was a tough read. He was teaching on Immanuel Kant and it was rough, maybe because it’s an English translation of the Swiss theologian? Kant is tough enough on his own, but reading him thru a translation of Barth might be a little too much. So anyway I felt good about myself when reading Bruce Shelley’s church history, I mean it was easy, I thought ‘yeah, maybe I can hack these intellectuals, look, this read is child’s play’ I then flipped to the title to see the exact wording, it’s ‘church history in plain language’ which in layman’s terms means ‘history for dummies’ oh well a good dose of humility does the soul some good. Jesus said those who recognize that they don’t have ‘the bread’ for their friends on the journey are in good shape, they know to go to ‘other friends’ and ask for help, they’re not too proud to realize they don’t have all the answers. I think we need more of this in today’s church world. We all need to receive from one another. I like Nolls book, he shows the need for the intellectual wing of the church to receive from the ‘non intellectual’ wing. But he also takes the evangelical church to task for its neglect of the Life of the Mind. Hopefully I’ll share more in the coming posts. But for today this is all ‘the bread’ I have, thank God we all know where to go for some more! [I also ordered Brian Mclaren’s Generous Orthodoxy, but the order messed up. I will try and review it in the next month or so, it’s important for the emergent critique]

(1162) I mailed the materials off yesterday, let me mention one more thing about the letters from my friends in prison. The letter from Leonard, it is full of praise and thanksgiving and glory; it reminds me of the testimonies of new believers. Many times over the years I have noticed good friends of mine come to know the lord, doing things in ministry and fellowship together. Sometimes these brothers struggle for years and go back to prison. The genuine brothers really do experience a ‘mini’ revival when this happens. It’s common for the average person to judge them as getting ‘jail house religion’ they can’t see that the process of chastening and the guys renewing their faith are a real process that brings great joy to them. Believe me, I have seen this happen many times and know that for the most part these guys are not faking. Okay, in Luke 9 we have lots of good stuff; Jesus sends his guys out light ‘don’t take money, extra goods, etc.’ Herod hears about Jesus and wonders if it’s John the Baptist risen from the dead [guilty conscience no doubt!] Lets hit the statement ‘some of you standing here will not die until you see the kingdom’. Over the years commentators have had various views on this, a common view is right after Jesus says this the transfiguration happens and this might be referring to that, it’s possible? The New Testament has various statements like this that the critics of Christianity have used over the years to debunk the faith. The famous atheist Bertrand Russell wrote a book called ‘why I am not a Christian’ one of the reasons stated was the so called missed prophecies of Jesus, these statements in the bible about Jesus coming kingdom that would take place within the lifetimes of those who heard him. Russell also rejected the faith based on a faulty idea from the philosopher John Stewart Mill. Mill said if every thing must have a cause, then God must have a cause, and if God is the first cause, then why not say the universe/world are the first cause instead of God. Russell believed this faulty argument, the law of causation does not teach that every thing must have a cause; it teaches every effect must have a cause. Any way Russell got duped by this fictitious argument and kept it his whole life. But back to those who read the statements in the bible about Jesus coming quickly, the things being written that will happen shortly [revelation] and stuff like that. There is some truth to the Preterists argument that the ‘last days’ that were taking place were speaking of the end of the present age of law and the introduction of the new age of grace. These brothers also link most of the ‘seeing the kingdom come’ verses with a.d. 70 and the destruction of the Jewish temple and law system. There are various views on these subjects. What about Jesus saying that some of the disciples would not die until they saw God’s kingdom? Preterists think the transfiguration happened too quickly after the statement for it to be speaking of that, it’s possible? I think some of the Preterists are too ‘futuristic’, let me explain. Jesus is functioning and operating out of the reality of Gods kingdom, he’s healing people, raising the dead, doing all sorts of things that are contrary to the natural order of things. He is introducing God’s kingdom to his disciples, they are actual witnesses to the events of Gods order breaking into mans order. The greatest events of this kingdom that they will witness will be the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, these ‘parts’ of the kingdom will be the most significant aspects that they will ever SEE in their lives. I prefer to see the reality of God’s kingdom, and the statements about certain followers being alive at the time of God’s kingdom coming, thru this lens. To push the majority of the significance out to a.d. 70 and the destruction of the temple seems to miss the great reality of Jesus death, burial, resurrection and ascension as actual witnessed events of the first century church. So, Russell and others who thought Jesus statements were false prophecies did not really see the reality of these things. I do believe that the events surrounding the destruction of the temple are important, and that you can find many verses that speak of the passing of the old testament order as the ‘end of that world/age’ but I believe the actual work of Jesus in redemption, as being witnessed by the early church, would be a better ‘location’ for the explanation of these types of things. Got it? [note- the main point being the importance the new testament puts on the eyewitness accounts of the disciples to the work of Jesus in redemption, any connecting with ‘the seeing’ of things and the witnesses of those things ‘seen’ has to be viewed thru this lens, the most important ‘seen things of the kingdom’ are without a doubt speaking of the great work of Jesus. This was so important that when Peter mentions the replacement for Judas office, he states that the new apostle must have been a witness of these things from the beginning of Jesus ministry]

(1151) Just finished reading ‘Coming to Grips With Genesis’ by Terry Mortenson and Thane Ury, probably the best argument for a young earth view put out in the last few years. Though I am still an ‘old earther’ it’s a good read. I am in the middle of ‘Last days Madness’ by Gary Demar [Preterism] and yesterday the book I ordered last ‘Why we’re not Emergent’, by Kevin Deyoung and Ted Kluck, showed up at my door. I am about 1/3 rd thru it. I recently read a quote from one of the famous philosophers that said ‘it is the mark of a mature intellect to be able to read and grasp another persons view, to understand what they are saying and where they are coming from, without fully embracing their view’ [paraphrase] I am applying this wisdom to all three of the above books. Not because they are not good, or because I disagree with everything in them, but because all people share from a limited view of the things they are seeing from their perspective [yes, me too!] that’s why God tells us there is safety in a multitude of counselors [not all counselors from your limited group either!] Okay, in Luke 3 John the Baptist is baptizing and calling people to repent [obviously not an emergent brother, or post modern or neo orthodox- yes, this can go on for ever- he told them what was right and wrong!] Look at the three groups coming to him; he tells the regular people ‘sell what you have, give it to the poor, share your stuff with those who are in need’. He tells the tax collectors ‘stop taking more money than you’re supposed too! It’s okay to collect a normal amount, but don’t go overboard’ and he tells the military ‘don’t use your power in an unjust way, when things go wrong, don’t bear false witness. Don’t cover it up’. I think all of these areas can apply to our lives today. There is somewhat of a resurgence of liberal social justice issues emerging in the church. It’s not out of the mainstream to talk about ecology, or ‘the military industrial complex’ and things of that sort. But we also must realize that in order to have these types of discussions there are times where we say to people ‘yes, we are not perfect, we have our faults. But it is still wrong to kill babies, or to discriminate against minorities, and to neglect our neighbor’. Would you tell a backslidden Christian who was hiding Jews in Nazi Germany ‘who do you think you are hiding these Jews, you are just as bad as Hitler’! Though the church has made mistakes, and Christians have been hypocrites, yet the reality of the ‘wrongness’ of killing Jews is not effected in any way by the perceived hypocrisy of the religious right. It’s still wrong to kill Jews whether or not Jimmy Swaggart messed up! The point being as the church tries to cast off the image of moral superiority that offends the world, we at the same time need to tell the world ‘yes, these things are still wrong, and these other things are still right’. When society came to John in the wilderness, he told them ‘what they must do’ he did not engage them in a long discussion on whether or not we can even determine what they need to do! He simply called them to repentance and back to the original intent of the law, he was preparing the way for Messiah.

(1150) In Luke 2 we see the prophetic events surrounding the birth of Jesus, notice how his mother Mary is keeping these things in her mind. We also see the first recorded relationship of Jesus with the temple and its leaders. He is 12 years old and questioning the doctors of the law. Both his questions and later teachings amaze people. This will begin a long and strained relationship between the popular themes of the religion of Jesus day and the breaking in of God’s kingdom. He will combat a mindset in Judaism that was obsessed with the temple and the rites that surrounded it, the religious leaders had their ‘tower of Babel’ if you will. A system of temple and religion that said to the world ‘look at us, look at how important we are!’ Jesus will later rebuke the leaders for their love of men’s glory. He will say ‘how can they please God, who seek the honor that comes from men’. I believe one of the areas the evangelical church needs to ‘grow in’ is the popular end times scenarios that seem to be focused on a future literal temple being rebuilt, and the anti-christ making a covenant with natural Israel, and the whole teaching that places so much emphasis on some future temple. While there are varying views among well meaning Christians on this subject, we need to keep in mind the significance of the ministry of Jesus and the temple of his day. It would be a mistake to miss the spiritual significance of the destruction of the temple in a.d. 70 and how that represented the change from the old law to the new covenant age. I believe the most significant signs surrounding the temple and its destruction have already happened. I seriously question the popular teaching of the prophecy teachers and their obsession with some future temple. Jesus will eventually overturn the tables of the money changers in the temple courts. The religious leaders will even arrange the events of the crucifixion around the rites of the temple, making sure the religious requirement for cleanness was not violated while they kill their Messiah! The eventual destruction of the earthly temple will signify a new glorious building plan of the New Testament church, the true temple of God [made up of all ethnic races who receive the messiah]. Yes, Jesus had a long history with the temple, he told his men at one time ‘see all these expensive buildings? There shall not be left one stone upon another when all is said and done’! I wonder why we keep looking for the stones to be ‘set back one upon another’?

(1146) SONS AFTER THE FLOOD- In Genesis 9 we read the account of Noah and his sons repopulating the planet. God promises Noah that he will never destroy the earth again [by way of water- what about fire? We’ll get to that in a minute] and we see the beginning of man eating animals for the first time, the institution of the death penalty and civil justice [Romans 13] and the famous promise of the rainbow ‘when ever it rains again you will see my bow in the clouds and know I will not flood the earth again’. Are there natural explanations to things that the bible ascribes to God? Yes. Does that mean the bible is a book of myths and fables that were fake and only meant to give us moral lessons? No [contrary to liberal theology]. The fact that we know every time there is a rainbow in the sky, that there is a natural explanation to it, this does not mean this story is fake. God obviously created a repeatable situation that never occurred before, and he told man it was for a sign. Just because science can ascribe a naturalistic explanation to a thing, this does not mean the thing has no supernatural elements to it. This is also where the theistic evolutionists/progressive creationists make parts of their case. Does the fact that God created something mean that there are no possible natural means for him to work by? They will show you that when David said God formed him in his mothers womb, that obviously ‘God formed’ David in a different way than Adam! When you look at ‘a test tube baby’ do you not see a creation of God? Yes, even though there are obvious natural explanations to the conception and birth [like the rainbow being explained by nature] yet the actual life itself is still a mystery that can only be attributed to God. Also God reassures man not to worry about a total future destruction of the planet, in the last verse of chapter 8 he says as long as the earth remains there will never be another worldwide ceasing of the created order [seedtime and harvest]. How do we square this with the Christian doctrine of ‘the end of the world’? Now, this can get complicated and take more time than I have right now, but lets try and take a quick ride. The famous New Testament verse on the future ‘destruction’ of the planet is found in 2nd Peter 3 [the same chapter that deals with the flood] Peter says the elements will melt with a fervent heat and we await a new heaven and earth. In the gospels Jesus also speaks about ‘the end of the world’ the word for world does not mean the planet, but the age. Just like when the bible says ‘satan is the god of this world’ it speaks of age, not earth. So a careful reading of the ‘end of the world’ verses show us that there will be a future time of cleansing ‘by fire’ that will usher in a new age/order. Preterists [those who believe the future judgment scenarios were speaking of a.d. 70 and the end of the old order of the law] take these verses to mean that God was ending ‘the old order/age of law and bringing in a new age of grace’ I see partial truth to this, but don’t fully accept that there is no future aspect to it. The futurists [dispensationalists] see a destruction of the world and sometimes allow this view to effect their responsibility to the planet and society at large ‘heck, why worry about the environment and future stuff, it’s all coming to an end soon’ type mentality. Some, not all, have this mindset. The Preterists think the Futurists have made a fatal mistake in misreading the verses that should say ‘age’ instead of ‘world’. There are very good points that the Preterists make, though I don’t fully embrace everything they have to say. Overall we see that God wanted to reassure man that he was not going to totally wipe the earth out again like he did in the past. Whether you see the future fire burning up the elements as some sort of nuclear thing [I don’t] or a reference to the glory of Jesus burning up the chaff at his return, the important thing to remember is God wanted man to know that the natural order of day and night would go on, and a new heaven and earth would continue to exist for all eternity. The mindset of ‘don’t give up on the mandate to have dominion and care for the planet’ was being instilled in Noah and his sons. I think it would do the evangelical church some good if we looked more seriously at some of these issues.

(1141) UNIFORM OR CATASTROPHE ? One of the key verses in the debate between young and old earth creationism is in 2nd Peter chapter 3. Peter says that in the last days scoffers will doubt two specific things; the second coming and the flood of Noah’s day. I find it interesting that some theories on the long age of the earth also incorporate a local flood for Noah’s day. The young earth guys will use the Peter verse to show that if you purposefully rule out a world wide flood from your theory, that you fall into the snare of viewing certain scientific data [geologic table] as being a result of millions/billions of years of gradual uniform time [uniformitarianism] as opposed to being a result of the flood. The young earth brothers point to the fact that much of the fossil evidence and geologic column [like the Grand Canyon] can be a result of the universal flood. These brothers see the catastrophe [catastrophism] of the flood as the cause for these things. Does Peter [or any other bible passage] shed light on this subject? Yes, even though the bible does not speak to us in scientific language, it is reliable on all the things it does speak about; history, events like a flood, the future judgment, the second coming, etc. So it is important to not rule out the effects that a worldwide flood might have had on the data. Do we have any examples of the bible referring to worldwide things, and not really meaning ‘the whole world’? Yes, in Acts 2 the bible says there were people gathered from ‘every nation under heaven’ at the time, but the chapter gives us the nations that were there, there were obviously no people from America! So does ‘every nation’ simply mean every nation from the known world of the time? Yes. So some local flood believers use this type of stuff to defend their view. We do need to be careful when doing theology like this. Does the biblical account give us other clues that the flood was worldwide? Sure, why in the world would God have Noah build a huge ark, gather all these animals, have them in it for a long time while the earth floods. If the flood was regional, just tell the guy to move! The biblical account says the waters covered the highest mountains of the day, this could not happen unless the flood was world wide. So even though the bible does say ‘world wide/all nations’ at times in a non literal way, this does not mean we can change all the events described as world wide into local events. Some who read the first few chapters of Genesis in a poetic language way, also have the problem of deciding when the poetry stops! Is the Genesis 6 account of a flood real? What about the tower of Babel in chapter 11? Once you start going down the road of over spiritualizing the bible, you can run into problems. Overall I believe we need to be open and willing to see both sides of this argument [young and old earth views] there is somewhat of a tendency to view opposing views as real heresy [I sense this mostly from some of the young earth writers]. But there is also a condescending attitude towards young earth believers that at times seems to say ‘how can you be so behind the times in your views’? This debate on the age of the earth and the various progressive stages of evolutionary progress [cosmological evolution- stars producing basic elements over billions of years and these things ‘birthing’ planets and so forth] these theories are in no way definite! There are a lot of things that we simply don’t know for sure. But at the same time there are and have been true scientific breakthroughs that have challenged the mindset of the church and have corrected the church’s view in certain areas. As believers we need to hear both sides, while avoiding the warning of Peter who did say that there would be scoffers who purposefully would overlook the historical event of the flood of Noah’s day, we must let scripture form our views, while at the same time understanding that the bible does not give us a scientific explanation for all things.

(1118) In Matthew 24 Jesus speaks about the end times, some day I will try and fit everything into what I believe is the proper perspective. I basically hold to the classical view of end time events. I realize there are varying ‘classical’ views, but I mean I reject the late development of dispensationalism. One thing I will note is in this chapter Jesus warns the Jews that a time is coming when the temple and city will be utterly wiped out, most teachers rightfully see this as the destruction of the temple in a.d. 70 under Titus, but Jesus says ‘when you see the abomination that makes desolate stand in the holy place’ and then the writer says ‘[let him who reads understand]’. My bible has this in red letters, meaning these are Jesus spoken words. They might be the words of the writer of this gospel. In the last few years Christian teachers have come to understand more fully the oral nature of first century Judaism. Many things were passed on by word of mouth, some feel the writer of Matthew [or Jesus?] might have been saying ‘when this is read someday, make sure “he that readeth” understands what in the heck they are saying’! Get it? This insert might be a warning to the future lecturer. They were warning of the possibility of people misunderstanding this part of the teaching. Most modern prophecy teachers read this ‘abomination of desolation’ as a future political figure who will enter into a restored Jewish temple and claim to be God. Others view this thru an historical lens and see the invasion of the Roman soldiers with the marks of pagan gods on their shields as the desecration of ‘the holy place’. In Jewish thought, the room of the temple that contained the box that held the 10 commandments was super holy; the fact that Roman pagan soldiers went in and defiled it could be what the abomination of desolation is speaking about. It is an historical fact that many Jews who believed that Jesus was a true prophet took his warning literally, when they saw their city compassed with the Roman armies they ‘fled to the hills’ and did escape destruction. This was somewhat of a testimony to the accuracy of Jesus prophecy at the time. The whole point today is we need to be aware of various ways to read these prophetic portions of scripture, the original writer of Matthew said ‘let him who is reading this stuff understand for heavens sake!’ I think we need to ‘understand’ a little bit more.

(1116) This past week Pope Benedict made his first visit to the Middle East. I caught a few of the appearances on E.W.T.N. I really liked his spirit and Christ centered approach, of course there will always be some disagreements [a little too much ecumenism when it came to Christian/Muslim stuff, but that’s to be expected, the Pope not only represents a large portion of Christians, but also is seen as a head of state to some degree]. Overall his words were measured and clear, human rights were at the top of the list. I then watched an apologists T.V. show, it’s a good show I catch every now and then. But sometimes they ‘stray’ into the old prejudices that have been around for many years. They were discussing Tony Blair [former P.M. of Britain] and mentioned how he took this new position where he is going to work for world cooperation amongst various groups, they then showed a picture of him with the Pope and mentioned Blair’s recent conversion to Catholicism, they were nice enough to say ‘we are not saying for sure that Blair is the anti christ [gee, thanks!] but we see in him all the signs of the anti christ’. I don’t want to do the whole anti christ thing again, I’ve hit on it in the past, but I want to mention the mindset that sees any ‘world cooperation’ amongst Christian groups as ‘the one world religious system of the anti christ’. Most of this mindset comes from the book of Revelation; John speaks about Babylon [Rome] and the religious ‘whore’ and stuff like that. Of course Rome was known as a great persecutor of the saints, and part of it had to do with the cult of emperor worship ‘Caesar is Lord’ type of a thing. So the apostle John is writing his Revelation while in exile under Nero’s rule. What type of connection would John be making when speaking of a one world religious system that uses the power of human govt. to kill and persecute the saints? Obviously the religious/governmental system of Rome, not the Pope for heavens sake! And any ‘anti christ’ figure is not going to be part of a Christian church that confesses Christ! During the Reformation of the 16th century, it was common for the Protestant reformers to view Rome and papal authority as ‘the anti christ’ they were battling centuries of religious tradition and dogma that they felt contradicted Gods word, so it was natural for both sides to brand the other as ‘the anti christ’ [both Luther and the Pope tagged each other with the title] and it was also common to read the commentaries and histories of this time thru the lens of ‘Babylon/Rome is persecuting the saints, Rome is even mentioned in the book of Revelation [city on 7 hills] as the oppressor, so there you have it, how much clearer can it be?’ The problem with this thinking is it overlooks what I just told you, the primary religious/governmental persecutor during the time of John, and well into the 3rd century was the Roman empire, not the Catholic church. So we need to read these books [Revelation, prophets- Daniel, Ezekiel, etc.] thru an historical lens. Of course this doesn’t mean there are no future applications to these writings, but to miss the historical aspect can cause real trouble. When reading the Old testament prophets there are stunning prophecies about Alexander the great, Antiochus Epiphanies and other world shaking events. Most of these prophecies have been fulfilled already. But some ‘prophecy teachers’ teach these things in such a way as to cause real problems for any true ecumenical spirit amongst believers. Jesus wants unity for his church, not at the expense of truth, but unity never the less. I have stated in the past that the system of belief that I most align myself with is Reformed theology, but I simply see myself as a Christian who is part of a 2 thousand year tradition [Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox] there are serious doctrinal differences that do need to be understood and not ‘white washed’ but at the same time we need to advance from some 500 year old ideas that were birthed at the time of the reformation, viewing other Christian traditions as ‘the anti Christ’. Jesus told the religious leaders ‘you do err not knowing the scriptures or the power of God’ when we make the mistake of reading scripture thru a limited perspective, we err.

(1106) been reading some of the parables, I have already covered them in the past and don’t really want to do them again. But do want to share a few thoughts; recently I have struggled with regretting certain words and things that I have said; the book of James says ‘in many ways we all offend others, if we learn not to offend with our words we are mature’ so anyway mistakes were made. But as I read the parables of the sower [planter of seeds] and the man who planted seed in the ground [2 separate parables n Matthew 13] I liked the idea that only 1/4th of what you ever say makes it! I know I’m taking it out of context, but it spoke to me. The birds eat some seeds [words we plant] thorns and weeds kill others, and the cares of the world creep in and people forget/forgive the past. In the parable of the guy who planted good seed, while he slept an enemy came and planted tares [weeds]. His men come and say ‘do you want us to go and root up the weeds’? And the owner says no, let them grow together until the harvest; because if you try and undo the mistakes you might affect some of the good stuff as well! Sort of like some of the people we offend have also learned some good things as well, and if you try too hard to make things right the end result could be worse. So I felt the lord spoke to me thru these things. Of course Jesus explains the parable to the guys, he tells them the field is the world [not the church!] and in the world you have good seeds/plants [Gods people] and bad seed [unbelievers]. I find it interesting that the servants wanted to tear out the weeds so they wouldn’t effect the good plants [they were members of the Moral Majority- you know the whole culture war thing!] But the owner [God-Jesus] says ‘leave them alone!’ let them both grow together until the harvest. Leave them alone! Don’t you understand if we allow gay marriage it will be the ruin of society!! Jesus says ‘leave them be’. At the end of the world [age] he will send forth his messengers [angels- or some translate ‘messengers’ as us! Christians] and they will separate the good stuff from the bad, he says the angels will ‘remove the bad weeds from my Fathers kingdom’ and the good stuff gets to say. What, a reverse Rapture? Yup. We see a redemptive purpose for the planet in these teachings, Jesus doesn’t take away the church and let the world [earth] go to hell in a hand basket, he takes away the bad stuff and calls the world his father’s kingdom! I guess he was one of those progressive types, always worrying about the environment and stuff? All kidding aside, God has a plan and purpose for society and the world, it is redemptive in nature [Romans 8] we need to avoid the ‘culture warrior’ mindset that is always looking to pull the weeds out of society, they wont hurt you! Jesus said so. And as we ‘re-think’ our purpose and place in the world, lets also hope that the bad seeds we have planted will soon be forgotten.

(1104) was watching one of those ‘prophecy conference’ things last night, you know, the brothers with the charts on the wall and all. Kind of funny, as they were being introduced the moderator shared their backgrounds ‘he belongs to the pre-trib study group for advanced stuff’ and then mentions the books and all the brothers wrote. ‘In the 1990’s he wrote the best seller THE END IS NOW UPON US, THERE IS NO TIME LEFT!’ [something to that effect] it does seems strange that it is now 2009 and he’s still around to talk about it! Don’t get me wrong, these are all fine believers, it’s just we need to take a second look at the persona/image that we are projecting out to society at large. As I have been reading the gospels I like the mindset of Jesus ‘the Kingdom of God is now here/coming’ to be sure the historic church has had battles over these concepts, and I don’t want to re-do it all here, you can read more on it under my end times section. But I want to look at the scope of Jesus teaching/outreach ‘ministry’. Even though he limits himself physically to a small region of the world, he had no desire to travel the globe, but yet he sees his purpose thru a much broader paradigm ‘the kingdom of God is here!’ How could such a limited charitable ministry make such bold claims? He was giving himself for ‘the least of these’ and the Father would recompense him for it ‘the gentiles shall come to your light, kings and nations shall be influenced by you’ declared the prophets. Now, in the current day we often see ‘ministry’ as going to a town/area and establishing some type of meeting environment where people will attend every week and hear preaching. While this is okay to a degree, it is fundamentally disconnected from the kingdom mindset of Jesus. He believed that he was starting a word-wide movement that would shake the foundations of all mankind! Quite a bold mission statement from such a seemingly insignificant life ‘Come on Jesus, you have never even studied in the upper-class schools of the day’ but that didn’t stop him. These followers of his are not the primary focus of his calling; understand that in today’s ‘church mindset’ everything is focused on getting so many people to attend/join/partner up [money!] we measure our self worth by these things. Jesus told us ‘cast the seed on the ground; sure some will be eaten by birds, others will spring up quickly and have no root. But some will take root, these will change the world!’ He didn’t spend a whole lotta time trying to convince the unproductive seed/plants to ‘re-dedicate’ give it one more shot ‘please attend my meetings’ type of a thing, he had no time for that sort of silly stuff, he was changing the world for heavens sake! I want to challenge you today, God does have a great purpose and destiny for you, you do not exist simply for the purpose of helping people ‘get saved’ while the rest of the planet goes to hell in a hand basket! Jesus started a world wide revolutionary movement that has competed with all the major world philosophies of the last 2 thousand years, the church has been the greatest influence in society for good, more than any other single institution [despite what Christopher Hitchens says!] we are truly the people of God. See yourself as a citizen of this movement, as Christians we are members of the city that is set on a hill; our purpose isn’t just to ‘be the city’ but it is to shine to all of those that see us on the hill and affect the planet for good. It’s time to tear down the silly prophecy charts and get to business, don’t you think?

(1086) the last day or so I didn’t write any posts, but if I did, they would be something like ‘to be honest, today was a difficult day. Recently there have been some ‘old demons’ from my past that have haunted me. They visit every now and then, they always eventually leave, but they have a tendency to leave some marks’. Now, that’s as close as you can get to confessing stuff on a public blog! James says ‘confess your faults one to another, and pray for each other that you might be healed’ it’s hard to confess your faults when the modern church is consumed with image ‘how we look, who’s the new up and coming ministry on the horizon’? Geez, I feel like ‘if I can survive this day, that’s fine with me Lord’. Well enough of me. I have been reading the prophets, let me give you some advice; if times are hard, read Psalms. If you need wisdom- Proverbs. And if you’re in the mood to get chewed out, read the prophets! It’s hard to not feel convicted when reading the brothers. I was also thinking about the lives of people who have impacted society to some degree, often times they are tragic figures. Jesus, from the natural standpoint did not look like he had it together; sure, he was healing [helping] people, a couple of resurrections and all, but as the leader of this rag tag team of radicals, things weren’t going to well. The disciples thought they were in on the beginnings of a revolutionary movement that would throw off the oppression of Rome. The war that led up to the eventual overthrow of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was actually initiated a few years earlier by this type of mindset. In the apocryphal books [the catholic books between Malachi and Matthew in the Old Testament] you have the recording of the Maccabean revolt, when the Jews attempted to throw off the ruling govt. The whole history of Israel was one of learning how to be a free people, coming out from the rule of other human governments [Exodus, Joshua, etc]. So these disciples of Jesus really thought they were in on the right political party, the one that would succeed in turning things around. After all, if you were waiting for some Messianic figure to show up, if your bibles [old testament] said he was going to come and deliver you from the Roman oppressors [read Mary’s magnificat] you would naturally think that Jesus was going to set up a physical throne out of the city and Rome would be cast off. But what happened? This great religious leader, this miracle worker, he is always talking about this new kingdom. He’s dropping little hints that it’s not going to be what they think, he says things that seem to not even make sense ‘the last shall be first’ ‘he that seeks to save his life shall lose it’ ‘this kingdom does not come with observation, it’s within you’. Oh well, the disciples figure ‘what the heck, we cant understand all that he’s saying, but man he’s got the authorities scared. I mean you can feel it in the air brother!’ So they stick it out, but he also drops little hints ‘the son of man is going to go to Jerusalem [Yea, now were talking! This is the part we’ve been waiting for Jesus, no more of this talk about laying your life down, that’s just depressing] and be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified’ What! What are you telling us? We quit our jobs, left our homes; we gave up a lot for this movement, now your telling us your gonna die! This is way too much to handle! By all outward appearances he seems like such a tragic figure. They accuse him of not being able to help himself ‘if this man were the Son of God [legit] surely he would come down from the Cross [a place of weakness, public humiliation] and save himself. He helped others, and he can’t even save himself!’ The accusation was he must be a hypocrite, he talked a big talk, but even his closest friends are no where to be found. One of the most vocal [Peter] is out right now swearing up and down that he doesn’t even know the man. ‘Jesus, I have no idea who your talking about’ the bible says he cursed and swore, lets try and be tactful, this is a Christian site ‘I don’t know what the hell your talking about’ how’s that? What a sad ending to such a promising career, he seemed like he had so much going for him. Man, could he teach! You know we heard when he was only 12; he was asking the scholars questions that they couldn’t answer. One time he stood up in the synagogue and opened up this scroll, you know the Isaiah one. He read this strange verse about Gods Spirit being on some future person, how that person would do justice for the poor, speak out against things that he felt were wrong. He would be genuine, then you know what happened? He said “this day is this prophecy being fulfilled in your ears” Man, it gave us all chills. But what in the world happened to the guy? We heard he was unstable and all, the religious leaders have diagnosed him as a nut! But how do you explain all the good he was doing, after all nuts don’t raise the dead? Oh, that’s easy, he was doing it by the power of satan. Well I guess they were right, after all look at him now, such a pathetic figure. Naked on a cross! All that we expected from you, you could at least have the courtesy of deconstructing in private; I mean really, do we all have to watch this tragic end? Well of course we know the rest of the story, it didn’t actually end tragically. But he couldn’t seem to find help/vindication until after he died, can you wait that long?

(1084) I was thinking of doing some politics, but it jut gets me mad. One of the homeless brothers has a unique tattoo; he has the letters that were on Christ’s Cross inscribed on his forehead! You can’t miss it, it’s huge. I have run into Grumpy a few times over the years, he was never really in the group of close knit brothers that I hang with. Some of the guys are heavy drinkers and violent, good guys, but you can tell the regular brothers try and avoid them at times. Not too long ago I had a good chance to fellowship with Grumpy, he was of course drunk, but it was early enough in the day for him to function coherently. He was staying at this ‘flop house’ with a few guys. Grumpy has a Catholic background, at one point he clearly articulated Gods majesty thru the story of Moses, he was quoting the famous ‘I AM’ name that God spoke to Moses. I could tell that he knew his stuff. Over about an hour conversation, and a short bible study thing that I was asked to give, Grumpy really opened up, he cried as he shared his past failures and stuff. Though he was one of the violent guys [fight at the drop of the hat] yet the Lord was dealing with him. After talking for a while, he even got into Revelation and the scriptures on those who have the mark of the beast or Gods mark on them. He then mentions the tattoo on his forehead, realizing that I must have been noticing it as we were talking. At first, when he mentioned the ‘mark’ I didn’t know what he was referring to, it did not register in my mind that he had this huge tattoo on his head, for some reason I simply did not ‘see it’ the whole time of our conversation. I guess it’s hard for people to live down their failures, the stupid things they have done in life. I don’t know if Grumpy regrets the mark on his head, but I know he seemed surprised that I really did not notice it at all, sort of like ‘how can he not see this mark on me!’ Scripture talks about people having marks/stains that they can’t seem to get rid of. After Cain killed Abel God marked him for life. Isaiah says ‘though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’. My friend must feel self conscious about this permanent mark that he probably got when drunk, this sign of the guilt he feels because of the many failures in his life, seeing himself as one ‘cursed on a Cross’ but the fact the Cross happened means we don’t have to struggle with guilt [though we all do, at least I do] but his mercies are new every morning. Not too long after my conversation with Grumpy he took off to California, he will continue walking the streets with this mark/sign that will prophetically speak to the world around him. Christians driving to church will no doubt see him on some street corner, trying to stop their cars a few feet before the light, doing their best to not have to look into the face of fallen man. Then maybe as they speed past him they will get a good look at his eternal mark. Maybe for a second they will see Jesus thru fallen humanity, maybe they will think of the words of Jesus when he said ‘when you did not show mercy to these, you did not show mercy to me’.

(1080) In keeping with our recent train of thought, lets talk a little on who wrote the new testament, and when did they write. During the rise of higher criticism in the universities [a type of learning that cast serious doubt on many of the truths of scripture, though some of the elements of higher learning were helpful; like the historic method, learning to study scripture thru a contextual lens] you had some who dated the gospels as being written by the end of the first century, even into the second! Today, no serious scholar would put them anywhere near the second century. And like I said the other day, those who attribute Paul’s writings to various unknown sources, they also can stick the older label on Paul’s stuff. Do the scriptures themselves give us any hint at when they were written? Sure. They don’t tell us exactly, but some good hints. The gospels contain lots of historical records in them, who was ruling at the time. Certain census that were being taken, things like that. Of course this doesn’t mean the writers were writing at the exact time of the events, but it shows you their familiarity with them. Or if a gospel writer [I think its Luke] says ‘just as others compiled stuff about Jesus and all that he did, so I thought it good that I should do the same’. This would show you that the writer was not as close to the actual events as others. Or when Luke writes the book of Acts, he states that he had already written his gospel. Luke is pretty meticulous about historic stuff in Acts; he records the believers who were killed for the faith [Stephen, James- the disciple, not the Lords brother who was one of the main leaders at Jerusalem, who is also believed to be the author of the epistle]. The point being, if Luke ends Acts with Paul living in a rented room in Rome; plus he never mentions the martyrdom of Paul or Peter, this would indicate that Acts was written before their deaths. Nero killed them both in the 60’s, Nero died a couple of years before A.D. 70. It would seem rather odd for Luke to have left their martyrdoms out of the book! Peter and Paul are the two main characters in the book. If Luke is recording the martyrdoms of less known figures, you think he would have at least mentioned them. So this is kind of internal stuff you look at, and if Luke says he wrote his gospel earlier, Walla! This would give you an early date to his gospel, before Acts was written. Also, we have various common names; did John the apostle write all the ‘Johns’? The gospel, the 3 letters and Revelation. Most scholars have him writing the gospel and letters, some attribute Revelation to another John ‘John of Patmos’. They feel the Greek text in revelation is too different from the other writings, so they think another John wrote it. When I wrote my Hebrews commentary, I think I must be the only person left on the planet who still thinks Paul wrote it! I realize that this makes you look ‘illiterate’ in the scholarly world, but I have my reasons. If you believe in the real late dates to some of the books, you can cast too much doubt on the accuracy of the sources, if you go too early, you reject too much evidence. And in some cases, the dates are very important to the beliefs of the group. Preterists believe you can make a case for all the apocalyptic portions of scripture having been fulfilled in A.D. 70, they will bring up historical evidence of witnesses seeing chariots in the sky at the time of Titus overthrow of the city, signs and stuff that Jesus said would happen ‘at the end’ so to them ‘the end’ was A.D. 70. If revelation was written around A.D. 90, then it doesn’t fit. John [whether the apostle or the Patmos brother!] still shows the apocalyptic stuff as being in the future. So they make a case that revelation was written before A.D. 70, is it possible, sure. But we really don’t know. Plus, if you think it was written late, you place Domitian as the possible anti-christ figure, early- it’s Nero. So you see some brothers have put a lot of thought into this stuff. It’s good to be familiar with some of these basic things, especially when you have anti Christian activists using some of these things as sources for their activity. Christians should be able to debate coherently with them, if not they win their point. Most of all we have a tremendous amount of textual/historical data that backs up the record of Jesus and the New Testament. There is absolutely no other writing from antiquity with this kind of backing, the gospels and the new testament are historically trustworthy, whether or not we know for sure which John wrote revelation, or which James wrote James, really doesn’t matter. We KNOW which Jesus rose from the dead!

(1060] THE MARK OF THE BEAST! Let’s talk a little today. This past week I had a few people ask me about their church. They said they liked the church, but they thought there was too much emphasis on money and practical matters. They said they realized the need for Christians to ‘be practical’ but they felt like they really weren’t growing spiritually. First, I told them that I felt they were doing good by attending/helping the church out. I did not want to give them the impression that it was okay to just drop out. I also told them to read our site, that many of the questions they had were dealt with on the site. Then yesterday I had a believer asking me all types of stuff on the book of Revelation and the mark of the beast and the whole computer chip in your head thing. Okay, I must admit I made a joke about the mark of the beast, something like ‘it really isn’t talking about an actual number that will be implanted in someone’s skin’ [I do really believe this by the way] I said ‘for instance, it’s no secret that the Pastor was born with a birthmark of three 6’s on his head, no big deal’ [I know, this is bad]. But I did try and put some stuff in context, the head represents the thoughts of man, the hand represents his actions. The world thinks they need to cheat and steal to get ahead [worldly thinking and acting- hand and head] and those who are part of Christ’s new kingdom [as opposed to Rome-Babylon] think and act in a different manner. There did come a time under the Roman empire that if you didn’t bow the knee to the cult of emperor worship [confess Caesar as Lord] you would be persecuted or killed for your faith, in essence ‘no man could buy or sell [function in society] unless he received the mark of the beast and the number’. So anyway I advised this person to read our site. I have known them for some time, but I don’t think they read the site. They finally ask me ‘who is Corpus Christi outreach, who makes up the organization’. I told them that it’s just me, but I stuck the name on it years ago. Now, don’t get me wrong, my goal is to initiate a movement of sorts. I do pray and work towards that end. I believe it’s possible for us to have a worldwide impact, equal to any other movement [Jehovah witnesses or Mormons]. I do believe we can do this, but at the same time staying within the confines of historic Christianity, which these other movements do not do. All in all it’s been an interesting few days, I want to encourage you guys who read and follow the site, use our stuff freely. Make copies of our books and studies, send and publish our blog anywhere you wish. All of this stuff is free and available for anyone to use as they wish [except for making money!] also, keep in mind the example I gave above, don’t discourage people from being involved ‘in church’ if people eventually move on to more mature understandings and practices of church life [leaving the institutional system if you will] that’s fine, but don’t fall into the trap of ‘nudging them along’. All in all we are in this thing together, I appreciate the Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox and all other expressions of Christianity that the Lord has allowed us to minister to. Strive for unity of the Sprit in the bond of peace, let your thoughts and actions be in harmony with Christ. Don’t worry about computer chips in the head, but have the mind of Christ instead.

(1047)KINGS; INTRODUCTION- There is no greater Old Testament king and dynasty than that of David. While there are many other types and symbols that point to Jesus [Moses, Joseph, etc.] yet the rule of David and the promises of God to him [raising up a son from his lineage with an endless life who will sit on the throne forever!] are directly related to the purposes of God for his church and the messianic fulfillment of Jesus and his kingdom. Kings was originally one book [1st and 2nd kings]. It was divided when the Septuagint was written [the Greek version of the Old Testament] and stayed divided in Jerome’s Latin vulgate. We will see the division of Israel as a nation [northern tribes-10, southern tribes-2] take place in this book. More time will be spent on the history of the northern tribes, possibly because they needed more prophetic correction, so the recorded words of the prophets are more prevalent in Israel’s history than Judah’s [Paul said to the Corinthians that it was needful for heresies to rise up among them, this gave opportunity to deal with problems that would be beneficial centuries later to all who would read the story!] We also see some practical stuff that applies to the present moment [2009]. The division of the kingdom will be spurred on by the immature decisions of Rehoboam to listen to the bad advice of inexperienced advisers, should I say more? I can’t stress enough the role that David’s dynasty played in the national psyche of Israel and her future hopes of a restored theocracy. In essence their entire national hope was based upon a restored Davidic kingdom that would usher in the Messiah and bring deliverance to the nation from her oppressors [Rome]. Herod the great, Rome’s political leader who oversaw Israel and her land under Roman rule, built the restored temple in hopes of being seen as the leader who would fill the shoes of the promised Davidic restorer. Though Herod was not Jewish, yet he adopted Jewish custom and law in an effort to be seen as the legitimate savior of Israel. Saint Augustine [the bishop of Hippo, North Africa] would later say ‘I would rather have been Herod’s pig than his sons’. He would not eat his swine, but yet he would murder his own sons! Herod was a madman at heart. Well let’s cut this intro short and keep our eyes open as we see Jesus and his messianic kingdom in this story. The church herself will become the fulfillment of this future kingdom under the reign of Jesus as king over all the earth. The New Testament writers will eventually portray Jesus as being the present fulfillment of the promises of God made to David centuries ago, they saw the promises of God as being a presently fulfilled reality thru the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the Son of God. And his being seated at God’s right hand as the ultimate fulfillment of ascending to the throne.

(1043)HOW CAN ANYONE BELIEVE THERE WERE CAMELS AT CORINTH! These last few days my back injury has been pretty severe, I just finished praying/walking for about an hour and a half in my yard [early prayer time 3-5 am] and when I sit down to type it gets bad. So which way should we go? I was thinking of doing an entry called ‘were there camels at Corinth’? Kind of a spoof of a local Baptist radio preacher who has been making the argument ‘how can anyone read Revelation and think Christians are on the planet during that time of great tribulation’. He makes the false argument that if God is dealing with the nation of Israel and not the church, therefore the church can’t possibly ‘be on the earth’. True silliness indeed! Besides the fact that the church is mentioned in Revelation, terms like ‘those who keep the word of God’ and stuff like that are most definitely speaking of believers, not ‘tribulation Jewish converts’ but the church, the New Testament apostolic writers referred to the church as the ‘Israel of God’. The Jews who rejected Christ were of the ‘synagogue of satan’. John, the writer of Revelation and the gospel of John, is often accused of being anti Semitic because of his strong language about unbelieving Jews. So any way when you read phrases like ‘those who keep Gods testimony’ ‘The true Jews who are sealed by God’ these terms most definitely refer to true believers [whether Jew or gentile]. Either way, lets get to the camels. Suppose I were to tell you that there were no camels at Corinth, they were all miraculously raptured from the city! And the justification of my belief was ‘Paul makes no mention of camels in the book, how in the world can anyone believe there were camels at Corinth’! Well, the reason you would believe there were camels there, is simply because camels existed at that time. Whether or not Paul mentions them is irrelevant. You should not develop some doctrine that has them raptured away because they are not mentioned in the letter. So anyway this is my rebuttal to the argument ‘how can anyone believe that the church is on the earth in revelation’. You can ‘believe it’ because the church was on the earth in every other New Testament letter, they are even said to be going thru ‘great tribulation’ in some of the letters! To make an argument for their absence because you think they are not mentioned [which argument I believe to be wrong] is just as silly as arguing for no camels at Corinth.

(1029)ECCLESIASTES- 5:1 KEEP THY FOOT WHEN YOU GO TO ‘THE HOUSE OF GOD’ [ECCLESIA] AND BE MORE READY TO HEAR THAN TO GIVE THE SACRAFICE OF FOOLS- Yesterday we had a good outreach day in Bishop and Kingsville [2 south TX. Cities] I had a few homeless brothers with me and we drove thru a few areas and hooked up with some of the brothers we have been working with for around 20 years. I am always tempted to answer more questions [speak more!] than I should. It’s important to let the brothers ‘do the talking’ they benefit more when there is a real give and take. I read this verse the day or so before the trip, it makes a lot of sense. To all my Pastor/leader friends, do you consciously make an effort to ‘keep silent’ when going to the ‘house of God’ [times of fellowship and community]? I know this needs to become learned behavior for many of us. We usually have grown up in a church environment that emphasizes the need for strong preaching, mounting the ‘sacred pulpit’ [double ouch!] and stuff like that. We are usually well intended, but we need to relearn some stuff. I was surprised how the homeless brothers shared many spiritual truths with clarity. One of the brothers does suffer from mental problems, he is extremely intelligent. He is a machinist who worked for many years in Ohio and knows his stuff. But he is a little unstable in his thoughts at times. Sure enough when he was sharing about the Lord one of the other brothers really took it to heart. On the way to back to Corpus I asked what they learned today. He said he really enjoyed being able to speak and help others. I could tell that this in itself was therapeutic for him, it truly is ‘more blessed to give than receive’. This is why Paul taught the interactive church meeting [Corinthians]. In the background there was a TV preacher on, my buddy put the Christian channel on for atmosphere. Some preachers were answering questions on the Rapture and all, it seemed to be ‘endless chatter’ on stuff that was not even true! I couldn’t but help wonder what the apostle Paul would have thought if he saw his writings being used in this way. On the TV there was no real sense of community, simply preachers telling people their endless views on various subjects. I am glad I tried to ‘keep my mouth shut’ as much as possible [hey, this is hard for preachers to actually do!] I too learned some good stuff.

(1026)YOU CAN GO STRAIGHT TO HELL! I was watching King of Queens [TV show] the other day, and Arthur [Jerry Stiller] who is Doug’s [Kevin James] father in law tells Doug ‘I don’t want to die’ as the plane their on gets shaky. Doug tells Arthur ‘don’t worry, it’s not that bad’ and Arthur replies ‘you don’t understand, I don’t want to die, EVER!’ hey, we all gonna die! Then Arthur asks Doug ‘do you think I will be going up or down when I die’ and Doug reassures him that even though he’s been a real pain, he thinks he will go up. Arthur says ‘Good, cause thru out my life I have had a number of people look me straight in the face and tell me “Spooner, you’re going straight to hell someday”. So much for comedy/theology. Solomon tells us there is a time/season for everything; a time to cast away and a time to gather, a time to be born and a time to die. God has ordained that certain things happen at certain seasons. One of the pitfalls of modern ministry is we often seek God with ambition and determination. We come up with goals and plans [often good] and then we get in situations where we feel if people would just support us [with money] or ‘pastor so and so’ would just recognize my gift, then the plan would work! Most times these types of plans are simply results of well intended ambitious people. But God does things in seasons, when he ‘opens a door’ no man can shut it. When he ‘closes a door’ no man can open it. I like Sarah Palin [former republican vice presidential nominee] I don’t hold to many of her Christian beliefs [basically Assembly of God, end times stuff] but she seems to be a good lady who the media treated badly. I told one person who was all up in arms about her daughter’s pregnancy, the person told me how the sex lives of her kids were ‘fair game’. I asked the person if they knew about the sex lives of Joe Biden’s kids. If they think his boys ever ‘slept with someone out of wedlock’. I asked if they even thought a question like this was relevant. They then realized that they were using a measuring rod for one political party, but would not use it on their preferred party. Nevertheless I heard Palin say ‘hey, if God opens a door I will run thru it. Or even if I see a little crack in the door, I will plunge right thru’. I sensed a kind of ambition in this statement that many believers have. I think it’s better to be less ambitious, and more sensitive to the seasons. Yes, seasons and ‘open doors’ are alike, but God works with us in process. He shows us stuff to mold us, shape us. After we ‘are shaped’ then we fit into the next part of the puzzle. We too often are looking for plans and schemes to follow; God is walking with us on a journey. I am sure all the people who told Spooner to ‘go to hell’ were sincere, but you cant live your life by what other people think about you!

(1014)CORINTHIANS 15:50-58 Okay, let’s wrap up this chapter. ‘Flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom’ Paul speaks a little on the nature of the resurrected body. It is real, but not mortal [flesh and blood] without getting lost in the technical aspects of the actual body, Paul does make a distinction between the natural life of man [blood gives life to the mortal man] and the supernatural life of the resurrected body [spiritual life]. Then Paul shows us a mystery [something that was hidden up until the time God reveals it- here thru Paul!] that ‘we shall not all experience death, but we shall all get new bodies’. Paul teaches that some believers will not face natural death, they will be the generation that is alive at Christ’s coming. Paul says this happens at the ‘last trumpet’. For those of you not familiar with some of the silly stuff that passes under the heading of ‘theology’, let me explain some stuff. In the world of ‘dispensationalism’ there is an entire body of teaching that deals with the trumpets in scripture. Basically if Paul is teaching that this event, getting raised from the dead and being transformed, if this takes place at ‘the last trump’ then it is pretty clear that this event is not some type of rapture that takes place 7 years prior to Gods ‘last trump’ [last day, when God wraps things up]. But if you read the portions of scripture that speak about Christ’s return and the resurrection [Thessalonians 4, John 14, Matthew 25] you will see that all these scriptures teach that the resurrection takes place at the end, when Christ returns. So anyway a whole lotta time is spent by the rapture guys to explain that when you are in school, you might say ‘hey, that’s the last bell [trump] before class starts’ and that ‘last bell’ doesn’t mean ‘last bell’, but it means the ‘last bell for now’. It’s kind of silly stuff that preachers do in order to back up their theories. If scriptures ‘last trump’ isn’t really the ‘last trump’ then you can fit the rapture in as a separate event from the second coming. I think doing doctrine like this is silly and hairsplitting. The first century believers who were reading these letters [not all at once, but as they were slowly being penned and sent] simply saw all of the references on the second coming as one event. It’s silly to try and make two separate lists of the New testament verses on Christ’s coming and then place some verses under a rapture heading, and others under a ‘second coming’ heading, especially when the rapture brothers themselves cant agree on which ones belong to which list! Well any way we have a glorious promise of a future resurrection body, the last enemy that Jesus destroys is death. Revelation says ‘death and hell are cast into the lake of fire’ Jesus has power over death, hell and the grave. He will totally eradicate all death some day, Jesus tasted death for every man [Hebrews] so that man does not have to be in bondage under its fear any more.

(1014) JAMES ‘with our tongues we bless God the father and we curse men, who are made after his image and likeness’ [my paraphrase] In keeping with the recent theme of James and Revelation [end time views] I want to talk a little about our view of human kind. We often read the words of Jesus in Johns gospel ‘ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you do’ [8:44] and we use this understanding to devalue humanity. The liberal movement spoke of ‘the brotherhood of men and the fatherhood of God’ sort of like we are all brothers, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and all other religions, we are all just on different paths to the same God. Is this true? No. Jesus is the only path to God. But does this lesson the value of our fellow man? James isn’t saying ‘only Christians are made in Gods image’ he is saying all humans have special value, they are made in Gods likeness. When we grasp on to belief systems that devalue human rights and dignity, then we are speaking and acting with a forked tongue! Jesus rebuked the religious leaders and told them they were going the way of satan by rejecting him as the true Messiah, the religious leaders were choosing to say no to Christ. Spiritually they were following satan as their father. But yet James says all human beings originated from God and therefore people have much more value than land [even the holy land!], animals, temples and all other images that can be found on the planet. When we ‘bless God’ and claim to be speaking for him from the evangelical pulpits and media outlets, then we must be careful to not ‘curse men’ or to give an idea that these ‘Muslims’ or any other ethnic/religious grouping of people are not valuable. A distinction should be made between the value and rights of all people, and the various religions and false ideas that people have embraced. The world should not be hearing a message from us that says ‘by golly, Jesus is gonna come back and wipe the ground with the blood of these Muslim nations who are attacking Israel. Their blood will drip from his clothes! Bless be to God!’ Don’t you see how these images are ‘blessing God’ and at the same time ‘cursing men’ who are made in his likeness? [I realize some of these images are found in scripture, but we need to correctly interpret them. All these symbols need to be seen thru spiritual eyes, understanding the true meaning of the verses and interpreting them thru the overriding view of the gospel].

(1012)JAMES AND REVELATION- I have been reading James along with some stuff on Revelation. James says ‘though the ships are driven with fierce winds, yet they turn by the steering of the captain. He sets the course with a small helm/rudder’. Also that the tongue is a ‘world of sin, it sets the course of nature on fire’. In revelation Jesus is depicted as a warrior LAMB. He is also called the Lion of Judah. He ‘slays the wicked’ with the sword [word!] from his mouth. The word for conquer/victory in Revelation is the Greek word NIKAN-NIKE. Yes, the famous sneaker comes from this word! Nikan was a Roman conqueror god. Rome was a conquering nation who used force and brutality to win. John depicts her as Babylon in his apocalypse. When we read of the victorious Lamb and his followers [believers] overcoming and conquering the beast, we are seeing the nature of Jesus kingdom at work. We too are lambs sent out into the world. We turn the other cheek, we forgive and love our enemies. We reject violence as a means of victory. We conquer too by the sword that comes out of our mouth! [The blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony]. What we say, as the corporate church of God, matters! We can turn entire ‘ships’ [nations and governments] by the things we proclaim as Gods people. We can also release the nature of man and cause a huge ‘firestorm’ without realizing it. When we present Jesus and his kingdom thru a view of ‘conquering’ [Nike] that is done thru violence, nuclear war, Jesus literally treading people’s blood until it drips from his garments, when we give this imagery as actual killing, then we thru our lips are releasing the violent course of man in the earth. We have believers reading the popular end times books and fantasizing about end time scenarios of survivalism and warfare. These images are actually things the ‘beast’ uses to obtain authority and rule. To the contrary Jesus and his followers are conquering thru a different means. We are followers of the Lamb who ‘kills with the sword of his mouth’. When the citizens of ‘Rome’ [unbelievers] are confronted with the testimony of Jesus from our lips, then they ‘die to their old lives’ and are raised to walk in newness of life [Romans 6]. The blood imagery of Jesus being drenched in it, can be saying that Jesus identified so much with man in his bloody death, that as he ‘treads the enemy’ he becomes identified with the human condition so man can become identified with him. In essence Jesus ‘co-mingled’ with us thru death, so we could be united with him in life. The point I am making is we as Gods people need to be careful when we run headlong into violent war scenarios when presenting the word of God. It is obvious that Jesus is not literally killing people with a real sword [made out of metal] from his mouth. He conquers thru love and death and resurrection, the world conquers thru violence and oppression. When we ‘paint’ an inaccurate picture of these things thru our teaching/preaching, then we are releasing thru our tongues a ‘world of iniquity that sets on fire the course of nature’. This is not the testimony that we should be speaking that truly causes us to overcome.

(1011)CORINTHIANS 15:20-28 here we see the guarantee of mans resurrection based on Christ’s resurrection. ‘As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall ALL be made alive’. Is Paul teaching a form of universalism [all being saved]? He is showing us that all men will someday be raised from the dead. Now, does Paul leave room here for a type of Pre-millennial resurrection? A ‘raising’ of the dead prior to a thousand year literal reign of Jesus. Then another resurrection at the end? Yes he does. If you read Revelation you will see this type of scenario play out. Also Jesus speaks of the resurrection of the just and the unjust. Historically the church has held 3 basic views on this. Pre-millennialism says Jesus returns first [pre] before the literal thousand year rule occurs. ‘Post’ says the thousand year rule is literal, and after that Jesus comes back. Those who held to this view were excited at the turn of the first millennium [1000 ad] they thought it possible for Jesus to have returned after the first thousand years since his death and resurrection. And then you have A-millennial, they spiritualize the thousand year reign spoken of in the book of Revelation as being a symbol of Christ’s present rule and kingdom. Now, today’s most popular form of Pre-millennialism is not historic, it dates back to the 19th century. Today’s form is called ‘Pre-tribulational, Pre-millennial’ this teaching [dispensationalism] says Jesus comes back 2 more times. One is called ‘the rapture’ the other is the second coming [revealing]. The proponents of this form find little [or no] early Christians who believed this. There is one early writing by a Syrian brother who speaks very clearly about a rapture type event. Some think he speaks a little too clearly! The writing is believed to have been a fake. Either way we do have Paul teaching stages involved with the coming of the Lord and the kingdom. It is possible to have 2 future resurrections, this would not mean you need two future ‘second comings’. The first resurrection takes place at Christ’s return. He rules a literal thousand years and ‘the dead are raised again’ at the end of the literal rule on earth [ a literal reading of Revelation]. Also Paul does use the language of Jesus submitting to the Father at the end so ‘God will be all in all’. I feel believers have been confused and at times contradictory while trying to explain the nature of God and the Trinity. I recently read a teaching on the Trinity that tried to compare the Trinity to the nature of the organic church. It seemed confusing to me, they tried to say that just like in the Trinity you have no one ‘being’ having authority over the other, but instead you see all three persons equally submitting to one another [Father, Son and Spirit] so in the church you have equality. Now, I do believe that there is equality in the church, but I felt the example was way off. The New Testament clearly teaches the willful ‘submission’ of the Son to the Father. God [the father] is clearly the one ‘in charge’. Now, I admit it’s difficult and brothers have spent years trying to explain all the ins and outs of this. Here Paul shows us that the Son has willingly submitted to the Father so the father can put all things under him. Then once again at the culmination of the kingdom the Son submits to the father and God receives the glory. We will praise and worship Jesus thru out all eternity, it is his willful submission to the father’s plan that makes this happen. NOTE- Some believers spiritualize the first resurrection spoken of in Revelation, they relate it to those who have been ‘born again’ spiritually. Modern ‘Preterism’ holds to this view.

(1009)A PALESTINIAN PASTOR- Let me share a little about our Christian brothers who live in Palestine. The purpose of sharing this is so we as American believers could have a different way of viewing the Middle East situation. Not for defending terrorism or embracing anti Semitism, but a whole ‘other worldly’ view. I recently read a story from a Lutheran Palestinian pastor. He is part of a small percentage of Christians living in the land. Around 3% of the population are believers. Some of these groups date back to the early centuries of the Christian church, others to the Reformation period. The point being a historic church actually exists amongst the Palestinian people. The Pastor was looking forward to his son’s graduation day, they were going to travel to the ‘Holy city’ for the special occasion and it was considered the big graduation day for the whole family. The Pastor made sure he had all the paperwork together for the trip. The big night of the graduation celebration they were stopped at a border checkpoint by an Israeli soldier and were denied entry. The Pastor humbled himself and showed the soldier that his paperwork was in order, that he was a Christian minister who meant no harm. He went out of his way this night to show the soldier that he and his family were really no threat at all. After much pleading the fine Pastor and his family turned around and had their celebration back at home. Now, I do not know what the situation was on the ground that night, maybe there was a threat in the area. The point is too many American believers view the whole situation in the middle east from some type of ancient old testament story in which the Israelis are possessing their promised land while driving out the ‘Canaanites’. This ‘lens’ is not in keeping with the Christian gospel. The Palestinian Christians were asked how they felt about having true fellowship with Christians from the outside. They said they were often viewed as ‘cultural Christians’ only. Sort of like in name only, they were not seen as truly being ‘born again’. They were excited at times when Christian groups did interact with them as fellow believers in the faith. But the majority of contact from the outside Christian world were the various ‘prophetic/evangelical’ type Christians who were visiting the holy land as tourists. For the most part these American believers were there to see ‘the holy sites’ to view the restored Jewish state. To see how work was going among the various orthodox groups who were re making the utensils that were to be used in a future rebuilt temple. But for the most part the American believers viewed these brothers in the faith as something less valuable than the actual land that they were visiting. These mindsets show us that we have a long way to go to regain a pure biblical view of the gospel and how it relates to society today. The gospel puts tremendous value on the people for whom Christ died [both Jews and non Jews]. When Jesus spoke of ‘the restoration of the temple’ he was speaking about his own Body, not Herod’s building. When American evangelicals place a greater emphasis on the natural land and the hope of a restored temple with renewed animal sacrifices, than on the actual living Body of Christ on earth [believers of every ethnic background] then we have shown a tremendous lack of discernment equal to those who mistook Jesus words as applying to the natural temple of his day.

(1004)CORINTHIANS 13:11-13 WHEN I WAS A CHILD I UNDERSTOOD AND THOUGHT AND SPOKE LIKE A CHILD, BUT WHEN I GREW UP I PUT THOSE THINGS BEHIND ME- Paul shows us that we presently see and understand things thru ‘a glass’. God gives us insight and glimpses into Divine truth, but we need mercy because we all have limited sight. Over the years I know I have ruffled some feathers. Whether it be our teaching on what the church is, tithing, end times stuff. How New Testament believers should view the nationalistic promises made to Israel under the Old Covenant. I have found that the problem usually isn’t solved by simply proving something from scripture. For instance someone might become convinced by an ‘avalanche’ of information, they might actually see what I am saying. They can even articulate it to a degree [sometimes better than me!] but at the end of the day the answer to the problem is we all need to ‘grow up’. We need an overall change in the way we view things thru a legalistic lens. For instance, the tithe issue. Over the years I have taught the concept that believers are not under this law. Those of you who have read this site for any length of time know this. But I have also taught that it is fine to put 10% of your money into the offering on Sunday. It’s okay to support those who ‘labor among us’. But there are also many examples in the New Testament warning Gods leaders to not be in it for the money. Now, if we took seriously the mandate in Malachi to tithe. If we want to actually bind the believer’s conscience in this way ‘how are you robbing God? By not bringing in the tithes!’ Then we need to also look at the context. Israel as a nation was mandated to ‘tithe’ of their goods [not money] in three ways. They gave to support the Levites, also for the poor, and then they gave a tithe for religious feasts. In essence this ‘tithe’ was a total of around 30 % of their annual income, not 10%! [This by the way is right around what I spend on a monthly basis for the ministry stuff I do]. So, if we were telling people ‘you are going to be cursed if you don’t pay 10%’ we are actually misreading this verse. Also, how many believers think they are going to be cursed if they don’t ‘tithe to the poor’? Most modern preaching on the tithe simply puts it in the category of the Sunday offering. Most of this type of giving goes to support salaries, building upkeep, light bills, insurance for staff. I could go on and on. A very minute portion of this money [in general] goes to the poor. Certainly not a third! Also the portion that went to the Levites could not be used to purchase anything that would be owned by the Levite. They were forbidden to own any type of personal inheritance as Levitical priests. How often does the modern concept of tithing include this? The whole point is if we are going to bind peoples consciences in this way [which we shouldn’t] then we need to make sure we are at least teaching it right! Why bring this up? This is simply a good example of what Paul is saying. ‘When I understood in a limited way, I spoke and acted in a limited way’. The answer to the problem is simply ‘becoming mature in our thinking and speaking’. Recently I read an article from a U.S. congressman, he was speaking about the situation between Israel and Palestine. He sided with a military interpretation of the Old Testament promise to Abraham to ‘posses the land’ and used that to influence his political activism for war. How ‘mature’ is this type of thinking? Did any of the JEWISH apostles do this? No. So instead of trying to ‘crisis manage’ every single doctrinal problem, we really need to mature on an overall basis and view these doctrines thru the paradigm of Jesus and his life and work. Are we imitating his ethos when we do these things? Was this the primary message and life of Jesus when he walked the earth? How did he respond to Roman oppression and unjust govt.? Did he advocate military action in defense of the promises of God made to the nation of Israel? If we as the 21st century church do not ‘rightly divide’ these things, then we are of all men ‘most miserable’ [1st Corinthians 15].

(999)1ST CORINTHIANS 13:1 ‘THOUGH I SPEAK WITH THE TONGUES OF MEN AND OF ANGELS, AND HAVE NOT LOVE, I AM BECOME AS SOUNDING BRASS OR A TINKLING SYMBOL’ Over the years I have seen how the church can ‘have a voice-make noise’ without actually effecting change. Last night I watched some Martin Luther King stuff. Without ‘sucking up for political purposes’ I must admit that Martin is at the top of my list of personal heroes. Martin spoke with a revolutionary purpose in mind, he was not ‘delivering sermons’. One time I spoke at a friends church, I only spoke for around 15 minutes [much like my radio show] and the pastor said ‘no wonder John doesn’t have a church/ preach regularly, you have to at least speak for 45 minutes’ [something like that]. Though after the message I had good comments from the people, the sincere pastor felt like we didn’t ‘put the time in’ in order to fulfill the Sunday morning practice of ‘church’. Were did we get our modern sermon from? [The actual format]. If you go to Bible College you can take a course called ‘homiletics’ this course will teach you the structure of speaking and putting a message together. If you study Greek rhetoric you will find that this science existed in the Greek intellectual world before Christians embraced it [the actual format and structure taught in homiletics comes right out of the Greek system of rhetoric, to the tee!]. I find it funny how many modern pastors seem to measure a persons degree of ‘being scriptural’ by this measuring rod. ‘Well brother, didn’t they preach in scripture’ you bet they did. We see Jesus reading from the scroll in the synagogue. Paul and Peter were master ‘preachers’ if you will [though Paul himself was no ‘golden tongue’] basically the biblical concept of preaching/teaching was more of a spontaneous thing. It’s certainly not wrong to borrow the sermon from the Greeks [which we did do] but we don’t want to fall into some mindset that sees modern ministry [pastoral] as being a professional speaker. Here Paul says there is a danger of believers becoming like ‘sounding brass and tinkling symbols’ we can lose the reality of simple communication. We also can lose the prophetic edge of speaking into society over issues of justice. If we become too mundane and ‘professional’ then the world simply views as another program to simply pass over when clicking the remote. Both Martin Luther King and Charles Finney were known for their social activism. One of the charges [actually true] made against them was that they held to liberal theological positions. Finney was effected by the higher criticism of his day [the trend in the universities to deny the supernatural elements of scripture] he embraced certain doctrines that could be viewed as heretical [things on the atonement and mans sinful nature]. King’s critics make note of the fact that he also accepted certain types of bible interpretation that viewed some of the miraculous stories as ‘myth’ [not fake, but simple allegorical stories that were not literal but simply meant to convey a spiritual theme]. Things like Jonah and the whale, or Ballams talking donkey [or the talking snake in the garden!] Some intellectual brothers view these stories this way. Is there any validity to these views? Actually yes. I personally hold the ‘literal’ view with stuff like this, but ‘literal’ does not mean the bible does not contain different styles of writing. You do have poetry, allegory, symbol and other types or forms of grammar in scripture. Even the strong literal brothers will contradict themselves when they fully accept the ‘Lamb on the throne’ as not being a literal Lamb! [or when they interpret the scorpion like demons in Revelation as Black Hawk helicopters] So scripture does use allegory and symbol. But why did Luther and Finney associate with the more liberal trends in theology? I feel it was because of the strong anti social gospel that the fundamentalists embraced. The more conservative thinkers who rejected the liberal trends in teaching, would also reject social activism. Luther and Finney simply gravitated towards those who were like minded in their concern to speak into society. Basically they didn’t just want to be theologically correct [though they might have been in some of there views] but they wanted to be able to effect change in society. They wanted to be more than just a tinkling symbol that could tickle your ears.

(995)IS MODERN ISRAEL THE SAME AS ANCIENT ISRAEL? Why bring this up now? At the time of this entry [1-09] we have another one of those endless wars in the Middle East. Israel has been bombed over the past few years on a regular basis from Hamas. Hamas are the rogue ruling authority in the Gaza strip. Israel made a deal with the Palestinians to give them the strip of land, in return Palestine promised not to use the land against Israel. What happened? After the Palestinians took the land, they elected Hamas to be their ruling authority! Hamas are terrorists, make no mistake about it. So after a few years of regular bombings from the Gaza strip into Israel, Israel said ‘that’s enough’ and started a military campaign to up root Hamas. To be honest, they are using the exact same justification as the U.S. action against terrorism. Now, Israel as a modern state is quite a miracle. Or are they? After the destruction of their temple and the loss of their national identity in A.D. 70 they have been without a homeland for 2 thousand years. In the 20th century [1948] Israel once again became a state with a homeland for the first time in nearly 2 thousand years. Most evangelical Christians in the U.S. equate modern Israel with the promises made to Abraham by God in the Old Testament. God promised Abraham that he would give the land to him and his seed. In Deuteronomy 28 we see that the promise of Israel keeping the land was contingent on their obedience to his covenant. The history of Israel in the Old Testament shows them violating Gods laws at various times and God allowing them to be taken captive and losing their land. So the promise of inheritance was based in part on their obedience to God. Now, after W.W.1 the League of Nations made an agreement with modern Israel to give them a homeland. This promise was not carried out until after W.W.2. The United Nations agreed to give them the land and the British carved out a portion of the land and Israel became a nation once again. Let me make myself clear, as a nation Israel has a right to exist. After the initial taking of the land, the neighbors had various wars with Israel and in every case Israel won and took some more land. How Christians view the present status of the modern nation state is important. Most believers look at every modern conflict thru the promise of God made to Abraham thousands of years ago. The normal reaction by the fundamentalist/evangelical preacher is ‘God promised them the land, and by golly if Israel has to kill some poor Arabs to keep it, then that’s Gods will’! This is where we need to be careful. As an ally of the U.S. Israel is a small lone Democracy in a tough region of the world [there are other democracies, but they don’t border Israel]. Our country does have a responsibility to back up our allies. Israel does rule herself in a modern way with a rule of law and a humane judicial system that are rare for the region. So all in all they are a good ally who has a right to exist. But should believers equate this right with some biblical promise made to Abraham by God? Remember, God himself said that the promise of them dwelling in the land had to do with their obedience to him. Modern Israel is a religious nation. But they are also cultural. Many Jews presently living in the land do not practice Judaism, they simply see themselves as ethnic Jews. Those who do practice their faith practice a form of Judaism that can be called ‘Rabbinic Judaism’. This form of Judaism is what the Pharisees practiced during Jesus day. They elevate the traditions of the elders to a degree equal to [or greater than] the Old Testament law. If you remember Jesus rebuked this religious mindset when he told the Pharisees ‘by your tradition [the tradition of the elders] you make void the commandments of God’. So first of all, modern Israel is not in good standing with Jesus! [At least on covenantal grounds]. Second, did you ever wonder if the modern religious defense of Israel coincides with the actual Promised Land mentioned in scripture? If you go back and read the actual borders that God promised Abraham, you have a region extending to parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and a few other spots. In essence, many of the defenders of Israel’s right to the land, are not even talking about the actual borders mentioned in the bible! What does this mean? If God conditioned the obtaining of the land on the obedience of natural Israel to his law, is modern Rabbinic Judaism fulfilling it? If the promise of the land by God to Israel are what most evangelicals are fighting over, are they using scriptural borders to define ‘the land’ or are they using a 20th century land agreement made by human nations after the world wars? I believe Christians should stand for the right and freedom of all people [including modern Israel!] to exist and practice their religion freely. I believe modern Israel has as much right to the land they inhabit as any other nation who dwells on territory that used to belong to other people groups. That is if any nation engages with other nations in an aggression, if the nation who attacked you loses, you bet your gonna lose some land. That’s the way the ball bounces. The point of this entry is to simply call the American church to rethink the attachment she places on Gods promises to Abraham when making these arguments. A case could be made that modern Rabbinic Judaism is in fact still rejecting the law of God and does not fulfill the requirement, given by God himself, to ‘dwell in the land’. We as believers need to be careful when we simply jump headlong into these world affairs in a way that says to the world ‘God is on this nation’s side, and anyone who challenges their borders is in the wrong’. Understand, the ‘borders’ in these scenarios were carved out by human nations coming to certain land agreements. Be careful when you equate modern borders with Gods covenantal promise to Israel. We all need to pray for peace, we need to act justly in the world. We need to be against all racism, even anti Semitism! But we also need to stand true to the New Testament Ethos of all ethnic barriers being destroyed in Christ. We don’t want the world to think that King Jesus is going to return and physically war to protect a border made up by the United Nations! This type of end times teaching can get us into real trouble.

(986)CORINTHIANS 12: 8-10 this section deals with the various gifts of the Spirit. The list is not exhaustive, Paul speaks in Romans and Ephesians about other ones as well. Instead of diving into a definition for each gift, lets look a little at the various ‘modes’ and characteristics of the Spirit of God. In revelation we have a scripture that many seem to stumble over, it says ‘the 7 spirits of God that are before his throne’. Some associate Isaiah 11 with this. In Isaiah 11 you can find 6 distinct characteristics of the Spirit of God, some see 7. Or you could say ‘God has 7 actual Spirits’. Does God have 7 spirits? Or 25 or 10,000? God is the creator of all spirits. He is the Father of lights! In revelation you have Jesus holding the ‘7 stars’ in his hand, which are said to be angels. Then you have the ‘7 angels of the 7 churches’. I showed you before why these angels are not ‘Pastors’ they are angels! [You can find the post somewhere under END TIMES STUFF]. Revelation has 7 seals, bowls, candlesticks. The book is a prophetic book that has angels revealing and operating and functioning. The 7 spirits before God’s throne are probably the 7 angels spoken about in the book. Hebrews says the angels are ‘ministering spirits’. Well let’s get off the rabbit trail. In Isaiah 61 we have the famous verses that Jesus read and applied to himself in the New Testament [Luke 4]. Jesus opens the scroll and reads about the Spirit of God upon him, the eyes of everyone in that place were fixated on him. Notice how both in Isaiah 11 and 61, one of the main purposes of the anointing was to administer justice to the poor and oppressed. Much of Evangelicalism has opted out of this responsibility. There was an overreaction to the social gospel of the late 19th, early 20th century. The social gospel had a tendency to overemphasize good deeds, without focusing on conversion. But the Fundamentalist movement of the 20th century neglected the social justice aspect of the kingdom, thank God for the Catholics who picked up the torch. The point today is the purpose of the gifts, which we will get into tomorrow, is not simply for self glory and edification. Or should I say the purpose of the anointing. Jesus made it very clear that his mission involved justice for the poor and oppressed, he did not limit his ministry to ‘the church’.

(982)WILL JESUS RULE FROM A REAL ‘ALTAR’ SOME DAY? Watched an interesting show last night. The brother was sharing on the ‘Davidic kingdom’ and all the scriptures associated with it. I am familiar with the man, I used to get a Christian paper from him years ago. It’s obvious that he has a tremendous storehouse of ‘knowledge’ he can take you all over the bible and quote all types of stuff. He comes at you from the fundamentalist/dispensationalist viewpoint. He laid out the case that all the promises of God to David have to be literally fulfilled thru David. He even espoused that David himself might actually be the one reigning from the Millennial throne! [most see Jesus in this role- but to be fair, those who see Jesus do spiritualize the promises to David [Solomon] and apply them to Christ, which is what they despise doing!] Any way the brother espouses the idea that Jesus might actually be sitting on the Mercy Seat during his millennial reign. I have taught you guys what this seat is in the past. It was the actual lid to the box [Ark] that held the tablets of the Ten Commandments. It was a place [altar] where the blood of the yearly sacrifice [Day of Atonement] was placed. If you will it was the ultimate picture of sacrifice and altar that could be found in the Old Testament economy. This example will show you the danger of not being able to rightly understand and interpret scripture. Right now, as I write, there is another all out war going on between Israel and Palestine [Hammas]. Truly bad stuff. Of course I condemn all terrorism, make no mistake about it, Hammas are terrorists! I also see the right of a nation to defend itself against terrorism. But the overall viewpoint of the believer should be ‘we are not of this world, we represent Jesus, the prince of peace. He offers salvation to all mankind [Jew, Arab] and we do not advocate a view of Jesus that has him coming in a militaristic way, in a way that says ‘he will return and lead the Israeli military to victory and actually kill your women and kids’! [a view that does more harm to true evangelism than any other thing! How would you feel if I was trying to convert you to be a follower of some king who was going to come back and kill your natural family?]. Now, first of all we need to know the underlying intent of all the sacrifices and ‘altars’ in scripture. They all point to Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice for man on The Cross. They are SYMBOLIC! That is Hebrews teaches that they have all been fulfilled thru Jesus and any future idea of a restoration of animal sacrifices or altars would be considered blasphemous! This is one of the reasons protestantism does not celebrate the catholic mass, they feel the catholic teaching is a ‘re-doing’ of the sacrifice [the catholic theologians deny this]. Either way any idea that there would be a restoration of the altar system is anathema! Now, for you to see Jesus actually sitting on the ‘mercy seat’ while literally ruling from a restored Temple with renewed animal sacrifices, this has to be one of the most heretical ideas you could ever espouse. The New Testament teaches that any return to a sacrificial system, after the Cross, is doing ‘despite unto the Spirit of grace, treading the Blood of the Covenant [Jesus blood] under foot’. The language used to warn against a return to the animal sacrifice system is very strong. The dispensationalists belief says ‘God will put a ‘hold’ on the church age and return to a ‘kingdom age’ in which he deals with Israel again as a natural nation’ they see Jesus violating his own teaching that ‘my kingdom is not from this world’. This view places Christ back into a law system, in which Jesus will oversee a restoration of a literal temple [another violation of the symbols in scripture] and from this literal system, he physically wars against, and kills Arabs and Muslims as he directs their military. Now, can you see how destructive this view can be? Can you see what a violation it is to the spiritual kingdom of Christ who is the final sacrifice for man? When revelation says ‘a Lamb is sitting on the throne’ don’t you see it as a symbol of Jesus in a position of authority? Hebrews says Jesus entered into the true Holy Place [heaven- Gods presence] and presented his Blood to the Father on our behalf. Any view of him returning and reinstituting a literal reign from an earthly ‘holy of holies’ while actually sitting on a physical altar is blasphemous! I believe in a literal second coming. The church historically has had differing views on the millennial rule. But wherever you come down on these issues, you must not present Jesus future reign in a way that violates the fundamental truths of reconciliation and salvation [i.e.; him sitting on an altar from a physical holy of holies!] the types and pictures in scripture that have been fulfilled are not to ‘make a comeback’. The New Covenant and Kingdom of God thru Christ are one of where all men are offered forgiveness and peace thru Christ. Whether or not there ever will be a restored temple and sacrificial system in Jerusalem is questionable. But no matter what your view on this is, be assured that Jesus is not going to come back and rule while being seated on some sacrificial altar! This would violate one of the most fundamental teachings of the New Testament. [Note- it is possible that natural Israel will rebuild and reinstitute a sacrificial system, but this would only be a sign of condemnation. A result of their denial of the one sacrifice of Christ. Any return of Jesus would not be to vindicate their restored system, but a judgment on them for rejecting the one and only sacrifice and returning to the law!]

(981)TRIALS/END TIME STUFF- As I was praying this morning I was meditating on what verse to share. Sure enough as I was listening for guidance, I remembered that right before I woke up I had a dream. In the dream I picked up a green Gideon’s bible and read from James. I think it was ‘Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life’. I have been reading a scholarly work on the book of Revelation. Much better than the more popular ‘prophecy teachers’ stuff! The author is a little too Preterist for me, but overall very good. Preterism is the view that sees all of the prophetic end time passages thru a historical view. They teach that everything already occurred, even the final resurrection and judgment verses! I think the modern popular view is too futuristic, that is they seem to take most of the book and try and ‘news paper prophecy’ the thing. I see John’s work as primarily dealing with kingdoms in conflict. The kingdoms of the world warring against the kingdom of God. So he most definitely has Rome and her emperors in view. But this does not mean that John’s vision is limited to Roman leaders. The book can have meaning for believers in every age as they deal with ‘Babylon’ [the world] and the ‘kings of the earth’. So I see both a present reality [present for John’s actual readers who lived in the first century] and a future application. And of course I see the second coming of Christ and the final judgment as future! Now John was ‘on the island of Patmos for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus’. John was a partaker, along with the suffering church, of the trials and difficulties of the first century church. His banishment to Patmos [an island off modern day Turkey, in the Aegean Sea] , most likely by the emperor Nero, was for the purpose of ‘the word of God and testimony of Jesus’. He was being persecuted for the faith, but also for the purpose of receiving and writing down God’s word. Jesus says in John 17 ‘I sanctify myself and ask that they would be sanctified too. I sanctify myself for their sakes. I have given them the words you gave me.’ [my paraphrase] Jesus had a task to get certain words from the father to the elect, he fulfilled the task! John had some trials and things to deal with, it was part of the cost. I felt the Lord wanted to encourage some of you today, you are going thru stuff ‘because of the word of God and testimony of Jesus’. You are being ‘targeted’ because of your destiny! In the gospels Jesus says ‘when the word comes then tribulation and persecutions arise’. One of the strategies of the enemy is to come against you hard ‘after the word comes’. Once God has revealed and made plain to you the purpose and vision, then the enemy works overtime to stop you. He doesn’t want you to ‘deliver the word/purpose’ to those that the father has given you out of the world. Your trials and difficulties are a direct attempt of the enemy to stop you from getting the message out! Don’t take it personal.

(973)1ST CORINTHIANS 10:5-13 Paul warns the Corinthians not to fall for the same temptations that Israel committed in the wilderness. ‘Don’t sin sexually, don’t complain about stuff [ouch!] don’t be idolaters [lovers of your cash flow!]’ basic sins that effect us all. He also says something interesting ‘you are now those upon whom the end of the world [age] has come’. Not the ‘end of existence’ but the time period where Gods fullness has come [Galatians 4]. I find this interesting. The first century Apostles saw the breaking in of the Kingdom of God, thru Christ, as the event and ‘moment’ that all human history hinged upon. There was a real sense of ‘this is the special kairos season that all men have been waiting for’. The New Testament teaches that even the angels were waiting to see this day. One of the errors of dispensationalism was the idea that the important, main event was still some future happening [the second coming]. While it is true that this event will happen, and it will be glorious. Yet there was a sense in scripture that said the time of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection was the act of reconciliation that turned the destiny of man. Paul in essence was saying to the Corinthians ‘you don’t understand the full import of all that the Father has called you to. You are part of the most important movement in human history, all humanity has been waiting for this season, the ‘ends of the ages’ have come to this point. Don’t blow it for heavens sake’! Got it? Let’s grasp the fact that we too are part of this ‘time period’ [the new covenant kingdom age] and realize that our forefathers are watching from the stands [Hebrews]. Let’s not blow it [I was going to say ‘like the Cowboys’ but this gets too many locals mad].

(960)MATT 24:36-39 what in the world does ‘as it were in the days of Noah’ mean? Let’s go on a rabbit trail today. The other day I took my daughter to the Laundromat [our dryer broke!] and had some ‘down time’ to kill. So I grabbed a few news papers and sat in the truck while listening to Christian radio. I heard an old time brother who has broadcast on the station I am on for years. They are good Christians, from the ‘tribe’ of dispensationalism. The fundamentalist ‘King James only’ type. They taught a little on the verse above. I also recently saw a TV evangelist [may there tribe decrease] deal with the verse. The TV brother, who by the way also had the same type of fundamentalist background, taught his own spin on the verse. He said ‘just like in Noah’s day, you had aliens/fallen angels visit the earth and cohabitate with women, so Jesus taught that near the end time there would be an increase in u.f.o. sightings’ [ouch!] The radio brothers have taught that just like Noah entered into the ark, so the church would be raptured before Christ comes, because Jesus said ‘just like the days of Noah’. If you read the passage [Matt. 24:36-39] Jesus plainly tells you what he means. He is not talking about aliens or ‘raptures’ he is simply warning the people about the suddenness of the coming judgment day. Jesus is saying ‘just like in Noah’s day, the people were marrying and partying and living it up, right until the day when Noah entered the ark, and then the flood came and caught them off guard. So shall it be in the day when the son of man returns’. Basically Jesus is saying the people of Noah’s day didn’t give heed to the warnings of Noah, they probably looked at him as some nut! But their lethargy and sinful state put them in a position that caught them off guard. Sure enough the judgment that Noah warned about did come. So Jesus is warning people not to be caught off guard like the people of Noah’s day. Now, why would preachers take these types of verses and teach aliens and raptures? For the most part this branch of Christianity means well, there are times where I have learned interesting facts and stuff from them. But there is an approach to scripture that says ‘because Gods word [King James] is perfect [true] therefore we can find all these hidden meanings that are not in the original context’. Is this what the historical doctrine of verbal inspiration teaches? Not in a million years. The reformers taught that scripture still needed to be seen thru the historic churches understanding. They did teach that all believers had the right to expect God to speak to them thru his word, but they did not teach the type of private interpretation as seen above. To the contrary you had other radicals who were reading the book of Revelation [or more commonly known as ‘the Revelations’] and began seeing themselves as the end time witnesses who were to establish the New Jerusalem on the earth. They would mount a violent rebellion and get killed! These groups were straying outside of the magisterial reformers ideas on scripture. Though it seemed silly to hear some of the recent preaching on Noah’s day, these types of ideas can become dangerous if they lead us away from the actual meaning of Gods word. Even though these brothers highly value the doctrine of verbal inspiration [their view of it] they do a disservice to Christian learning when thy do stuff like this.

(953)Yesterday I managed to catch a few TV shows that were good. National geographic did a special called ‘the first Christians’. It was excellent. They covered more historic truth in one hour than you would get from years of sermons. They basically taught the New Testament word for ‘church’ [Ecclesia] and showed how because the early Christians did not believe the ‘church’ was a building, that therefore they spread rapidly without lots of money. They then covered the historic development of the ‘church building’ and the effect this had on them. They also got into the ‘end times’ scenarios that are played out over and over again by today’s prophecy teachers. They interviewed true theologians who put Johns Revelation in historical context. Just an excellent job overall. I also caught the show ‘Journey Home’ on E.W.T.N. [the Catholic channel]. I do like the show, it often gives good historical stuff. Last night they were a little ‘too Catholic’ [I know, what should I expect]. They had a good brother on who left ‘non-denominational Christianity’ and became Catholic. Now, most of these brothers are very intelligent believers who make this choice out of sincerity. They usually study the early church fathers and realize the ‘Catholic tone’ of these early believers. I simply felt the brother who spoke last night was a little too critical of his former church experience [Willow Creek]. I then caught Scott Hahn [an excellent Catholic scholar and apologist], he always has stuff that interests me. He brought up an argument I have heard before on how the early church saw the ‘real presence of Christ’ as being in the Eucharist. Others have made this argument before from the Catholic perspective of Jesus being with us, as opposed to the detractors arguments that he misled the early followers to think that he would soon return and set up a literal earthly kingdom. I have heard and do understand this reasoning. In essence it defends Jesus and his followers by saying ‘Jesus didn’t let down the early church by not returning and ‘being with them’ he was with them all along thru the Eucharist’ good intentions. I would prefer to argue the same point thru the fulfilling of the Fathers promise and the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. Jesus says in John’s gospel ‘I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you’ it is understood by most theologians [Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant] that Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit. Jesus actually refers to the Spirit as ‘One just like unto myself’. The new testament very Cleary speaks of the Holy Spirit as Gods presence tabernacling among us in a real way. So in my thinking I would prefer to argue the real presence of Christ as being among the early believers as fulfilled thru the Comforter. Overall it was a good night of viewing some good teachers. I also couldn’t help but notice how I have been skipping over the ‘more popular’ preaching shows of the day. I did click on one of the prophecy guys, he was defending ‘the rapture’ and I couldn’t help but notice the difference between the good theological discussions from the earlier shows, and the ‘silliness’ of what this brother was teaching. I don’t want to demean you if you hold to the rapture theory, it was just such an obvious ‘step down’ from the level of theologian to the level of popular prophecy preaching. In our current study of Corinthians we just went thru the verse ‘though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you have only one father’ [Paul referring to himself]. I couldn’t help but get this sense of the modern seen. You could flip thru all the religious broadcasting of our day and get every possible conceivable viewpoint on some subject, ten thousand of them! But there is a consistent voice of truth and wisdom that comes to us from both scripture and church history/tradition. I think we would be better off sticking with ‘the father[s]’.

(875)ROMANS 16- Some debate the ‘canonicity’ of this chapter. They feel that all the personal greetings from Paul are too personal. Let’s talk a little about the Canon [inspiration of the scriptures]. First, I am a ‘bible believing Christian’ who holds to the historic doctrine of scripture. But you do have varying views on what the historic doctrine is. I hold to the idea that God never intended for the letters that were written in the first century, which have become our New Testament, to be writings that were pulled out of time. That is the writers had to have been writing with a contextual purpose in mind. The recipients of the letters had to have had some type of practical instructions that they could wrap their minds around. So for John to say something to the seven churches in Asia Minor [Revelation] it was just common sense that the actual recipients of the letters would expect something practical for their day. This of course does not mean there are no further applications or instructions for us today, but we need to have a more personal understanding of the give and take between the Apostles and the people they were writing to. So this is how I think we should view the personal stuff in the Canon. This also needs to be understood when interpreting scripture. I have made the argument before for the 1st century belief in Christ’s literal second coming. I have also taught how the early church had no concept of a Rapture that was separated from the return of Christ. The event spoken of by Paul in Thessalonians chapter 4 is a real thing that takes place at Christ’s return. We get ‘caught up to meet him in the air’. Now how confusing would it be for the first century readers of Paul’s letters, to have one letter that speaks of a second coming, and another that spoke of a rapture? It would be next to impossible to have any coherent view of scripture if they did stuff like this. You could then make an argument for any doctrine. There would be no coherent thinking if you were living in Thessalonica and read a letter from Paul that used the same terminology about the return of Christ as he used in a letter to the Corinthians. And if you relocated to Corinth and said ‘Oh, yes. Paul wrote to us about the resurrection and return of Jesus. But when he wrote to us he was speaking of the rapture, but when he wrote to you he was talking about a different event called the second coming’. This type of thinking would have been disastrous for the early church. They were all receiving letters from Paul that contained basic truth. The fact that these letters were not included in an entire collection [as we have today] leads us to believe that the basic message had to stay the same in all of these letters, or else you would have had havoc in the early church.

(870) [The reason I put this entry here, is because much of the dispensationalism in this part of the country also teach strict legalism. I do not want to offend people for no reason] ROMANS 14: 10-23 ‘As I live…every knee shall bow and every tongue confess’. Paul teaches that we will all give an account of ourselves to God. He shows that one of the proofs that ‘he lives’ rides on this fact. How? The context of every one giving an account of his life is speaking of a future judgment day. But we also see the reality of Gods existence in the fact that most people [even atheists!] have at one time or another ‘spoken to God’. I was listening [or reading?] a testimony of a woman who was an atheist. Her child became critically ill and as the days went by in the hospital she had a conversation that went like this ‘I cant pray to God now. I would be a hypocrite. I have denied him my whole life’. The point is she actually knew that in time of need you should pray to God. This universal reality that most people on the planet have at one time or another ‘confessed to God’ is proof of his existence. Paul says because of this fact that we all will give an account to God, therefore don’t judge other people [motives] before the time. If you have the freedom to ‘eat meat’ [less legalistic] then by all means do so. But if this freedom causes another to stumble, then your first priority as a Christian is to live your life in an unselfish way for the benefit of others. So do not let your freedom become an offence to those who have ‘weaker faith’. Do all things with the benefit of others in mind. When Paul says ‘don’t judge your brother’ he is not saying there is never a time for correction and reproof. Paul used very harsh language when dealing with the Judaizers. These Jewish legalists did believe in Christ, they just mixed the law in with the gospel. Paul rebuked them harshly [just like Jesus and the religious leaders of his day]. But when dealing with new believers, those who are ‘weaker in the faith’ you don’t want to overload them with too much stuff. You want them to grow and mature in the proper time. If you used to be legalistic [not going to movies, not eating pork, all types of stuff] and now are more mature in your thinking [though some movies are bad and pork isn’t real good for you!] you should not despise those who still see the practice of their faith thru this lens. Paul said ‘he that eats, eats unto the Lord. He that abstains does it also to the lord’. In these less important restrictions that some believers abide by, most of the times their motives are pure. We shouldn’t demean them. We should try to live peaceably with all men as much as possible, we will all give an account some day.

(827) ROMANS 4:13-14 ‘Now the promise that Abraham would become the inheritor of the world was not going to be fulfilled thru the law [natural Israel] but thru faith [all who believe, both Jew and Gentile]’. I have spoken on this before [see note at bottom] and will hit on it a little now. The historic church can be defined for the most part as ‘a-millennial’, that is they interpreted the parables on the Kingdom of God and the promise of ‘inheriting the world [which includes the Promised Land]’ as being fulfilled thru the church. That Jesus established Gods kingdom and the church basically fulfills these promises by expanding Christ’s ‘rule’ thru the earth. Some historians saw the 4th century ‘marriage’ of Rome and Christianity as a fulfillment of this. During the 19th and 20th century you had the rise of Dispensationalism, a ‘new/different’ way of interpreting these land promises. Many good men showed the reality of Christ’s literal coming and pointed to a future time where Jesus literally sits on a throne in Jerusalem and rules all nations. These brothers are called ‘Pre-millennial’, they believe that Jesus comes back first [pre] and then establishes his ‘millennial rule’ on earth. The Premillennialists would see the Amillennialists as ‘replacement theologians’. They said that these brothers were taking the actual promises that God made to Israel and ‘replacing’ Israel with the church. In essence they accused the Amillennialists of spiritualizing the promises to Israel and saying the church would be the recipients of the promises. Now, both sides have truth to them, I personally believe the Amillennialists have a lot more truth! But I do see some of the good points that the Premillenialists made. I want you to simply read these verses [Romans 4:13-14, Galatians 3:18] and see for yourself how Paul does teach the reality that the promises to Abraham are to be fulfilled thru the church [spiritual Israel]. This does not mean that there is no future physical return of Jesus. But the body of scripture leans heavily on the Amillinnialists side. [see entry 703] NOTE- To be fair, some historic thinkers held to the Premillennial position. The majority were Amillennial.

(824)ROMANS 2:14- 3:18- Paul says ‘you are called a Jew and are confident that you are a teacher and an instructor of the law’. Read my Hebrews commentary, chapters 5 and 6. It is interesting that Paul understood the teaching role that the Jewish nation was to play among the Gentile nations. In Jesus parables he also hits on these themes. Hebrews says ‘when the time has come [the appointed time of Messiah- Galatians 4] that you ought to be teachers, you have need to be taught the first principles again’. Here Paul tells them they are proud to be the ‘possessors’ of the Old Testament, yet thru their disobedience to it the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles [ouch!] Paul fully acknowledges the privileged role that Israel had, he himself was brought up with this ‘elitist/intellectual’ mindset. But here Paul rebukes them for not fully living up to the law. ‘Well brother, how could they live up to it? Paul himself says that this is impossible.’ If they carried thru with the receiving of Messiah, which their law spoke and testified of, then truly they would have been fulfilling the law as new creatures in Christ. In essence their indictment is ‘you never fully followed thru with your own law’! Now Paul will flatly say that circumcision and being the guardians of the law profit nothing. That the ‘circumcision of the heart’ is what matters. He says if the gentiles, who have no historical attachment to the law, if they do by nature the things in the law then they are ‘spiritually circumcised’ [set apart unto God]. But if the circumcised do not obey the law and character of God [thru the new birth] then it profits nothing. I want to note the strong disconnect between the way Paul speaks about natural Israel and her heritage, and how some in the American church present her. Paul, who himself is a Jew, makes it very clear that Israel is in a state of ‘danger’ by not receiving Messiah. Though he will admit their special place and role in history, yet he refuses to exalt her in her natural ‘state’ [of being]. Now Israel’s response to Paul [which by the way Paul interjects himself. I want to make a note here. Paul will give ‘both sides’ of the argument in his letters. He will say things like ‘and you will say to me such and such’. He actually try’s to add both sides of the conversation in his letters. Recently there has been some discussion on whether or not we can really understand the New Testament without fully knowing all the background and history of the letters. Some have said just knowing the letters are like hearing only one side of a phone conversation. To be honest this isn’t really true. The writers of the letters and the gospels lived in an ‘oral culture’. This is why Paul himself gives instructions on his letters being read- as opposed to saying ‘pass the letters around for everyone to personally read’. The point is we can understand a whole bunch of scripture just by reading it!] Now Israel asks ‘what good is the whole thing, why even have Jews or circumcision or any history with God at all’? Paul realizes that his whole argument for law and circumcision meaning nothing without a changed heart, that some would respond back like this. He in turn says ‘the law and all the history of Israel with God were very important! It was Gods way of getting his prophetic word [oracles] to man’. In essence God chose to ‘start a conversation’ with Abraham and extend it forward to his children. Over a long history of God interacting with Israel, God would speak thru prophets and ‘wise men’ and these prophetic words were being recorded [meticulously by the way!]. God would reveal himself and his purpose of Messiah thru these writings that came from this relationship [though rocky!] that he had with Israel. Now Paul will say ‘does their unbelief negate Gods promise’? No! Let God be true and every man be a liar. The fact that Israel as a nation were ‘not believing’ in their Messiah, didn’t effect the actual power of the Messiah to be believed on among the Gentile nations. A couple of things here; dispensational theology teaches that the Kingdom of God has been postponed until Christ’s return. I think this contradicts Paul’s argument. Paul said Israel’s unbelief could not negate the full purpose of God. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead and is presently seated at God’s right hand proves this. Also Paul will teach later in this letter that the actual reason why salvation has gone out to the gentiles is because Israel rejected Messiah. In essence Israel’s unbelief could not negate what God purposed to do all along.

(805)A BIG NET- Jesus said the kingdom was like a net that was cast into the sea and caught all types of fish [people]. After it was full they pulled it to shore and put the good fish in baskets and thru the bad out. He explains that at the END OF THE WORLD the angels come forth and separate the wicked from the just and cast them into a fire, there will be ‘wailing and gnashing of teeth’. Again we see the simple end time teaching of Jesus. Don’t overlook the truths in Jesus simple sayings! He was a master teacher not because he was one of those theological brains that you could never fully grasp, but because he communicated tremendous truths thru simple stories. For those who fight and argue over whether or not Jesus will ‘rapture’ all the believers away and then the unbelievers have a time by themselves on earth before the final judgment. All you need to do is look at Jesus sayings. He teaches again that both good and bad fish are on the shore together. The bad fish are the ones who are separated and removed, the good get to stay [new heavens and new earth]. Jesus says this happens at the ‘end of the world’. So you see the believers being here right up until the end. Now the main point is Jesus wants the message of the kingdom to go out into all the world. The fact that this net ‘catches’ all types of fish signifies the very broad casting of the message. All people have heard and been effected in some way by Christ’s message. This does not mean all make it into the new heaven and earth! Jesus shows that the full net is a time of full harvest. There comes a real future time of judgment. Jesus teaches the good will be spared, the bad will suffer. When we studied Acts we showed how judgment was part of the message. I had a discussion the other day with a well meaning person. They shared a belief like ‘well, it doesn’t matter what type of religion you are, God just wants us to treat others right’. They were sincere and asking me questions about the Lord. I simply shared the historic Christian belief that even though you have differing religions and different types of Christian churches, yet Christianity teaches that salvation comes exclusively thru Christ. There is coming a time when the bad fish get thrown out. Now God most certainly wants good fish [treating people right]. The way this is accomplished is thru faith in Christ. God ‘imputes’ righteousness to those who believe [not trying to become ‘good’ by their works!] and this imputed righteousness eventually makes them good [note- at the moment of belief you are completely good and righteous. The process of this being made evident, sanctification, is showing a real distinction between the ‘good versus bad fish’]. What about the bad fish? A famous preacher a few years back was branded as a heretic because he publicly came out and rejected the doctrine of hell. I sent him some stuff at the time [books]. He did attend Oral Roberts University and stirred up a lot of stuff. Many Pentecostals distanced themselves from him [rightfully so]. As I heard him speak [T.V.] about his reasons for rejecting the doctrine, I realized he suffered from a lack of historical thinking. Now I don’t want to be mean, but as he questioned his own beliefs he came to see for the first time that other Christian thinkers of the past also embraced a ‘no hell doctrine’. This seemed to confirm in his mind that the ‘no hell’ belief was an historic belief that traditional Christianity suppressed. If he had a rounded education from the start, he would have learned this early on. The fact that hell and other historic doctrines have been questioned and debated for centuries should have come as no surprise to him. But in his area of learning and the churches he was familiar with he never found any need to venture out into the world of theology and church history. And when he finally did venture out he saw these beliefs for the first time. He was also very inconsistent in his thinking. He shared how he found in the Hebrew and Greek languages that the bible says different stuff than in the English [true to some degree- some words for hell speak of the grave, others of judgment]. But this also is no real secret. Then the conversation jumped to ‘John the Apostle was delusional when he wrote Revelation’. Geez, you don’t have to reject the Canon of scripture to be a universalist! The point here is the historic Christian doctrine of eternal judgment comes from the basic themes of scripture. Sure, some have studied the various texts that speak of judgment and have come to differing ideas. But the historic belief is hell is a real place of eternal separation from the presence of God. The rejection of Jesus Christ as the Son of God who died for your sins, was buried and rose from the grave is the only sin that will send a person to hell. As much as we should love people of all religions, we also need to let them know there is coming a time where the bad fish get cast out of the net. NOTE- Jesus referred to hell as ‘a furnace of fire’ here. There are other descriptions of ‘hell fire’ in scripture. This is why hell has been historically seen as ‘a place of fire’.

(800)PARABLE OF THE LEAVEN- I guess we need to do a little more ‘teaching’ than I planned on. I am using the parables from Matthew’s gospel. Matthew uses ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ instead of ‘Kingdom of God’. I have heard different ideas on why Matthew said ‘heaven’ instead of ‘God’. The idea that I need to correct is that Matthew was speaking of something totally different than ‘The Kingdom of God’. This belief rose up among the 19th century Dispensationalists, it basically says ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ means the world of Christendom [all religions that make up Christianity] and the Kingdom of God is that future thing that happens some day. Well, both of these are not real good. Most of all you should reject the first idea. The simple reason is that the other Gospels have these same parables with the term ‘God’ in place of ‘Heaven’. For this interpretation to be true [the Christendom one] you would have to believe that Jesus spoke about an entirely different thing, at an entirely different time and setting in Matthews gospel. When believers interpret stuff like this, it is simply not in keeping with ANY of the previous ways believers saw these verses in 1800 years. Plus it seems odd that Matthew would be the only writer who recorded the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ parables while the other writers recorded the Kingdom of God ones. So for whatever reason you think Matthew said ‘Heaven’ and not ‘God’ you should at least understand that he was not speaking of different parables. Now ‘the Kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened’. Most of the brothers who believe the ‘heaven-Christendom’ idea teach that Jesus was speaking of sin and wickedness invading the world of Christendom. They get this idea from the fact that leaven does describe sin in most [if not all?] of the other pictures of leaven in scripture. First, leaven [yeast] is something that God created. In and of itself it isn’t ‘wicked’. Second, Jesus can use any physical thing he wants to use in any way he wills to use it in his teachings, he is God after all! And third, I think it fitting that Jesus would take a term used to describe sin and turn it around and ‘redeem’ its use to describe righteousness. After all ‘where sin abounded, grace did much more abound’. Now to the meaning. Jesus values ‘least ness’ in his teachings. He absolutely challenges the present idea of Christianity in many of the American churches. He time and again lets his followers know that they must die to their own agendas and ideas. They must put priority on eternal versus material riches. They must seek to become small and last in order to be first. In all of these teachings he also rewards those who follow his ideals with great influence. The things they do ‘will go far’. Their children will impact society [Genesis 12 and 15- Abrahams seed touching nations]. Jesus calls for carrying our cross daily, dying to our own desires and dreams so his purpose thru us can reach all nations. The ‘hiddeness’ of the yeast speaks of this aspect of kingdom living. You don’t take yeast and ‘spread it all over the outside of everything’ [modern ideas of ministry- ‘get our name out, have everyone know about us’. Hire an image consultant!] Jesus says ‘hide the yeast inside of stuff’ package the gift and talents in such a way that they will ‘secretly’ be in many places. You will hardly even know its there, it’s hidden! Then after a while the effect of the yeast will be so hard to stop you will have a revolution on your hands! ‘Who in the heck started this ball rolling?’ The effect will be great, the fame and recognition will be minimal. Now Jesus taught in all of the parables that his kingdom would be like this. It would be silly to apply the yeast here as wickedness taking over Christendom, he doesn’t use these explosive images to describe sin in his other parables. They speak of small things becoming large in righteous ways [note- the tares are an exception, they are the full harvest of unbelievers along with believers. But the kingdom images [seed and stuff] speak of the radical explosive nature of the kingdom of God in the earth]. So lets look for ways to ‘hide the leaven’ in stuff. Is the most effective way to either write a book? Start a blog? What do you think it is for you? I feel many talented Pastors limit their voice by spending the majority of their teaching efforts on preaching to a room full of people and never even recording [in writing or by voice] the teaching. Make it available in various forms. If you saw some great insights from your study time, why have it taught in a forum where only a limited amount of people will hear it one time? We read of Jesus and Paul and think that they taught a form of ‘local church’ that says ‘give priority to the Sunday pulpit’. Now Paul did say ‘how can they hear without a preacher’ [Romans]. But this applies to hearing Paul’s letters as they were ‘re read’ in the churches. We are right now reading the recorded parables of Jesus that millions upon millions of people read every year! Be wise in putting leaven [good leaven!] in places where it can multiply good things. NOTE- leaven represented sin during the Passover feast. That’s why they couldn’t have it their meals. But it was permitted during Pentecost. Why? Pentecost would come to represent the outpouring of the Spirit and the intended growth of Christianity, at Pentecost God wanted a massive explosion. Leaven was allowed!

(799)JESUS PARABLES- Well I already covered the ‘mustard seed’ in the introduction and spoke on the Tares and Wheat. I forgot to mention that we see a simple end times teaching from Jesus in these parables. Now I realize the many varied views on the subject of the parables and end time dispensationalism. Good Christians [I find myself having to say this a lot!] at times have taught a type of scenario where many of the sayings of Jesus about the end times seem to refer only to the Jewish people and they have ways of ‘watering down’ the many plain statements of Jesus about the final judgment. But notice how he says ‘at the end of the world the angels go forth and separate the good from the bad’. The ‘tares are taken away’ and the good wheat remains. In the parables you see both the believers and unbelievers together right up until the second coming. You don’t see a time where there are ‘no good wheat’ and the tares are saying ‘hey, where did all the good wheat go? Maybe the aliens took them’? [I know this sounds silly, but many believers espouse stuff like this!] So anyway we see the idea of Jesus people being present right up until the judgment. The ‘bad seed’ are taken away first, then the righteous shine forth in their fathers Kingdom. Also we see the value that Jesus places on ‘nothingness’ that is becoming least, giving up the pursuits of glory. He is not looking for ‘great faith and men of great stature’ he is looking for ‘the mustard seed mentality’. Now in the introduction I hit on the idea that Jesus himself embodies the mustard seed. He was truly ‘the least of all seeds’ and buried himself in the ground. He has become the greatest ‘tree’ in all the earth! The Christian church [his Body!] is the biggest worldwide movement today [I know Islam is trying hard to catch up]. Jesus ‘smallness’ allowed him to attain greatness. In Philippians Paul says Jesus emptied himself and became the lowest of all, and because of this the Father gave him a name above every name. Jesus taught this to the disciples when James and John were looking for advancement. Their mother requested that they would have high positions of authority in his Kingdom. Jesus would respond that authority and influence come from servant hood and ‘being least’. Jesus would say of John the Baptist ‘he is the greatest of the prophets, nevertheless he that is least in the kingdom is greater than John’. Some have taught this to mean John was the last of the Old Testament order of prophets, and therefore even the smallest ‘born again believer’ is better than John. But you could also take it as Jesus saying ‘John, you have a great calling. You opened the way for the Messiah. You truly are one of the greatest Prophets of all time. But I, the Messiah, am the least of all seeds to ever be in the earth. I have emptied myself more than any other person. I John, am greater than you’.

(750) ACTS 13- The believers at Antioch were praying and fasting and the Holy Spirit said ‘separate me Paul and Barnabas unto the work which I have called them’. Then the whole group laid their hands on them and sent them out. Notice, there was not a singular authority figure who was the overseer of this church [community of believers]. It is important to see this, because when you share the oversight of a body of people with a plural team [Elders/Pastors- the title you use is insignificant] then there is less of a chance of one person becoming too elevated in the minds of the group. There is also a dynamic of the group coming to maturity as they see themselves as being able to ‘ordain-lay hands’ and send out. Now Paul and Barnabas begin their missionary journeys. At Paphos Paul casts blindness on a sorcerer and the chief deputy believes. At Antioch [Pisidia] they preach in the synagogue. Paul does a good Old Testament survey and mentions ‘Saul from the tribe of Benjamin’ as being part of Gods plan. I always wondered if Paul saw himself in this image [Saul from Benjamin]. Jesus did tell Ananias that Paul was a chosen vessel to bear his name. Notice also that Paul’s message saw the promise to David in Psalms ‘the sure mercies of David’ as being fulfilled thru Christ’s resurrection. The theme of the message was not ‘Jesus rule is delayed’ [dispensational teaching] but that thru Jesus the promises to the fathers have come to fruition. While it is true that the Jewish hearers will reject their Messiah as a people, yet this did not mean that the Kingdom was delayed or that the ‘church age’ was a parenthetical time until the ‘Kingdom age’ reconvenes. The whole tenor of Paul’s message is the reality that Jesus resurrection and being seated at Gods right hand is the promise being fulfilled that God made to the fathers. It is important to see his theme all thru out the Apostolic writings. The following week after Paul delivers his message, many gentiles come back to hear the word again. The leaders get jealous and Paul rebukes them. He tells them it was necessary for the Jews to have heard the word first, but then in fulfillment of the prophets, Jesus will be a light to the gentiles also. Paul and Barnabas sail off to Iconium next. An important theme in all the sermons in Acts is how the main message is that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Prophets. Paul tells them that they heard the readings from the prophets [Old Testament] every Sabbath day, but they also fulfilled the prophetic word by not being able to understand what the prophets were saying. So they crucified Jesus because of their blindness to the meaning of scripture. We need to see Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophets. The ultimate end of our purpose. To become like him in every way. In today’s church world it is so easy to see the word and ‘church attendance’ as a means to self fulfillment. But we need to re focus on becoming more like him. I am sure it was a shock to Paul when he realized all the time and study he did as a Pharisee was missing the main intent of scripture. It was humiliating to find out that the simple men who became these followers of Christ were closer to the truth than the theological doctors of the day. Jesus said we must become like little children again in order to see Gods kingdom.

(744) ACTS 7- At the end of chapter 6 we saw the accusation against Stephen ‘he teaches the temple will be torn down and that Jesus will change the laws and customs of Moses’. There are a few key chapters In Acts, this is one of them! Up until this point we have seen Peters message of the Messiah thru the lens of repentance and baptism. You will notice Peter is very strong on ‘you guys need to repent and show it’. Strong word indeed! Peter also introduced the scripture ‘the Lord your God will raise up a prophet like unto me [Moses speaking of Christ] whoever doesn’t listen to him will be destroyed’. But Stephen is the first one to teach publicly the passing away of the law and the temple and the new ‘house of God’ to be the people. It’s the beginnings of Pauline theology. Now I have read how this chapter was questioned and doubted as to why Stephen was teaching this. Some theologians thought the chapter was questionable as canon because of it’s seeming to be so out of context. These are the times where I do agree with the ‘seminary as being a cemetery’! This chapter is absolutely brilliant! I don’t want you to miss the main point. Stephen traces the history of Israel and uses the verse from Moses ‘the Lord will raise up a PROPHET LIKE ME’. Stephen explains that when Moses first showed up on the scene to deliver his people, that the people said ‘man, who do you think you are! Who made you the boss’? Then Stephen says ‘yet this Moses, who the people refused. He was actually the ruler and deliverer that they refused’. Stephen is showing them that the prophets actually prophesied of the first century reality of Israel rejecting Jesus because Moses said they would! Don’t miss this point. This is the main point of Stephens message. He is telling the religious leaders ‘you simply fulfilled prophecy by rejecting the Messiah’. He even compares the miracles and great works that were done by Moses to the great miracles Jesus did. Stephen ends the chapter by also tracing Jewish history to David’s son Solomon and how the future temple that he would build was simply a shadow of the New Testament house of God. He quotes David in Psalms ‘God will not dwell in temples made with hands’. Now, this has nothing to do with ‘church buildings’. This has everything to do with Stephen’s insight into the theological truths contained in Jesus teachings about the destruction of the temple. In today’s ‘church world’ we have a very unbalanced view of temple rebuilding and the significance of the passages in Matthew that prophesy of its destruction. In Stephen’s mind the future destruction [that is future from his time. A.D. 70!] showed the passing away of the old law and its entire system of worship. The first century Apostles and teachers saw the eschatological portions of scripture from a redemptive lens. Peter earlier said ‘repent and be baptized… so your sins will be blotted out at the return of the Lord’ ‘whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things’. He couched individual salvation in with Gods ‘full world’ purpose of redemption [Romans]. They saw it from a wider angle than just ‘me and Jesus’. Now Stephen is doing the same. The whole Apostolic tradition concerning the destruction of the temple showed the purpose of God in ending the old concept of law and ‘limited kingship’ [from Jerusalem’s throne] and how God raised up his Son and placed him at his right hand and made him Lord and Christ. The passing away of the temple and Stephens preaching on ‘the customs being changed’ was right on! When I taught Hebrews I tried to bring this out. I realize that some teachers say Paul didn’t write Hebrews. I attribute it to him simply because no one else had the revelation he had in these areas. But I wouldn’t argue with saying Stephen might have penned it [depending on the dates!] Now we end the chapter with Stephens’s famous martyrdom and him saying ‘lay not this sin to their charge’. Saul [Paul] is a witness to this killing, he will become the greatest advocate for grace versus law that the church will ever know. NOTE- I forgot to mention that Stephen even compares the mass killing of babies at the time of Moses with the mass killing done under Herod during Jesus time. He shows how Moses and Jesus were alike in many ways.

(705) GENESIS 19- The Lord tells Lot to leave Sodom quickly. Lot has to be forcibly removed by the angels! The men of Sodom wanted to have ‘relations’ with the angels! Lot offers his daughters instead and the men pass on the offer. God initially tells Lot to flee to the mountain [the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into and are safe- once again we will see the doctrine of the righteous being saved by the Lord]. Lot offers the angels a compromise. He says ‘let me go to this nearby city instead’ the angels say ‘fine’. The next day lot wakes up and sees the total destruction of Sodom and realizes this was the last city he lived in that the Lord wasn’t to happy with. He must have turned around and thought ‘geez, the lord also wasn’t to happy with me going to this other city [Zoar] either, he wanted me to go to the mountain’ and he tells his kids ‘you know what, that mountain retreat sounds like a good idea after all’! The scripture says he feared to stay in Zoar! If you read 2nd Peter 2 and Jude you will see Lot mentioned. The writers will once again say the Lord knows how to save the righteous. These chapters speak of both the deliverance of Noah and the story of Lot. Many times rapture theorists will see the truth of God saving his people from wrath and mistakenly apply it to a geographical deliverance. Both lot and Noah are examples of believers who were ‘removed from wicked places and preserved from God’s wrath’. It was a geographical salvation if you will. In the New Testament the wrath of God is seen in a more universal dimension. In John 3 the scripture says ‘the wrath of God continually abides on the unbeliever’. Paul will say ‘Jesus delivered us from the wrath to come’. Past tense! The New Testament doctrine of promised deliverance from ‘the wrath to come’ is not contingent upon a geographical location. It is based on ‘being in Christ’ [the city of God, the bride the lambs wife! Revelation] and coming ‘out of Babylon’. The world [not the earth!] and its false systems of pride and sin. So in context you can apply these geographical deliverances to the child of God being spared from future wrath. But you shouldn’t develop a doctrine that says ‘Jesus comes back 2 more times, one to take away believers for 7 years and another to reveal himself’. Jesus will come back, but if you haven’t already been ‘delivered from Babylon’ by the time he comes, then be assured ‘the wrath of God abideth on you’.

(670) MORE ON REVELATION- Yesterday I spoke with a believer in New Jersey. They had some questions about a famous radio preacher in the area. He is famous for predicting second coming dates. They have passed and he has missed it. Well what do you know, he has come up with another one! I used to really correct him a lot to this person. He holds to end time stuff that I disagree with. He is also ‘Calvinist’ in his belief, and teaches that all the ‘churches’ are deceived and God is calling true believers out of them! As hard as I have been on the ‘local church’ concept, I couldn’t disagree more with the guy! So in the discussion I told the person, first. John wrote the book of Revelation under present persecution from the Roman government. It is the beginning of a few hundred years of unbelievable persecution. Rome would actually kill believers because they would not say ‘Caesar is Lord’. They were not against ‘the Christian God’, they believed in many gods. They had the Pantheon! But they would not permit this new religion to pledge allegiance ONLY to their God. So John is actually giving images of Rome and her leaders in Revelation. Rome would be THE NUMBER ONE threat to the fledgling church of Jesus. She will ‘kill those who do not worship the beast or bow down to its image’. Now over the last 2 thousand years, if you take a broad look at the scene. You will see the first 3 centuries to be the worst in Roman persecution. You will read John writing that ‘the city on 7 hills’ is the one who is guilty. There are actual historic records referring to Rome as ‘the city on 7 hills’. You can read in history how Nero was nicknamed ‘the beast’ and other images that clearly speak of Rome as the persecutor. Now, which Rome is it? The Rome of Protestantism who saw the Catholic Church as ‘Babylon’? Or the restored Rome of the modern day prophecy preachers? Well all evidence points to the ‘Rome’ spoken of by John as the Rome of his day. There has never been official executions of believers for their confession of Jesus on the scale of the Rome of Johns day. Why look for her in some other day? No need. The point I was trying to make to my friend was don’t be limited in your understanding of scripture. When a preacher starts predicting dates for Jesus return, that is a warning right there! The friend explained how the first ‘date’ he set was explained like ‘something really did happen that day [1994?] but it was hidden’. I told them this is the exact mistake the Millenarian movements made in the last 2 centuries. The ‘Millerites’ were founded by William Miller. A well meaning preacher who was a former game warden who got a hold of dispensational theology. He had a tremendous ‘knack’ for memorizing scripture. He would gather his followers together on more than one occasion to stand on a hillside in white robes and wait for Jesus. When the first date didn’t work, they would come up with a ‘secret’ thing that happened on the day. And then set another date! The Jehovah witnesses and the 7th day Adventists would follow this idea. The point was the setting of dates, and then later saying ‘something really did happen, but it wasn’t what we thought’ is a popular hobby with end time brothers. Now, will Jesus actually return some day? Yes. But we don’t know when. Don’t try to figure out all the details. Don’t re make Rome and the temple and all the hundreds of actual things that have taken place at multiple times over the years. If your scenarios demand a re doing of all these events, then check your facts. The Pharisees could not see how Jesus was already the fulfillment of many prophecies. The thing that blinded them was their intricate interpretations of specific prophecies. They came to hold dogmatic views that were idols in their minds. They tried to make Jesus fit the way they had believed for years. He plainly rebuked them for their narrow ideas ‘you know where the Messiah will come from’ he will shout at one time, responding to their narrow interpretation of prophecy. We need to hear the whole counsel of God. Keep an open mind. I think the Apostle John would be stumped as to how, after all the slayings and killings of believers that took place under the ‘beasts’ of Rome. And how history tells us there was never a time of such religious persecution as this time. That we are still looking for a ‘revived Rome’ to fulfill these things. Why look for her, it is plain to find her in the annals of history!

(668) I am really going to jump around today. Those of you who read this section in order have realized that I still have to finish our study on John’s gospel! I sidetracked and read Proverbs and wound up teaching highlights as an ‘aside’. So yesterday I woke up and felt the Lord wanted me to read Revelation 11. I have been praying for a few years now with a ‘rod’ [stick] in my hand as I walk in many yard [it’s dark so I don’t look too insane]. Let’s read Revelation 11 [by the way it IS NOT SPEAKING ABOUT ME!] ‘And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar and them that worship therein’. This last week I once again had a discussion with a brother who assumed all the language in the New Testament about the Temple was speaking of a future rebuilt one. Some language MIGHT possibly refer to one. But some referred to the ones in the past; some refer to the people of God as the holy Temple [Ephesians]. So God might be telling John that he will wield authority in ‘judging’ the church. That thru John’s prophetic ministry [the actual writing of this vision called ‘the book of Revelation’] he will wield a rod of purging and chastening. ‘But the court that is without the temple leave out’ John’s prophetic vision is specifically designed to ‘line up’ the people of God. The ‘court’ can represent all the gentile nations whom represent those outside of the church. In essence ‘prophesy into the church John, don’t judge the world! I have not come to condemn them; I have come to save them’. The church has gone thru this ‘moral outrage’ stage and has railed against lost man. People who feel they have no hope, who have tried to overcome their addictions and have failed. They then tried to justify them. Why? Because they want to be accepted, they want society to say ‘we affirm you’. Am I saying we should affirm them? No. But we have used the ‘rod’ to condemn them and God is saying ‘leave those in the courtyard alone’. ‘These will tread the holy city [people of God] 42 months’ God was revealing to John that there would be a set time where the world would ‘tread’ on the church. John is actually living at the beginning of the rule of a bunch of demonic Roman rulers who will ‘destroy the people of God’ for a season. We have also seen a season of mocking and outright laughter at the American church. Some of it was deserved. We have allowed our ‘immature’ spokesman to broadcast their images to society as a whole [thru Christian TV] and some of them truly don’t realize how silly they look. I know they don’t mean to look silly, but they have grasped hold of a temptation that Jesus warned against. He told us leadership in the church was not designed to function like ‘gentile leadership’ seeking fame and position. So the American church fell into it and the ‘gentile’s tread us under foot 42 months’. ‘And I will give power unto my 2 witnesses and they will prophesy’ many cults and well meaning believers have erred terribly in thinking their Pastor/Prophet was one of these guys! I have taken this 2 ways in the past. I have seen it as either Israel and the church [2 witnesses in society] or the 2 offices of Apostle and Prophet. The point is after the humiliation and defeat [both in Johns day under the emperors and in every other day] God restores a prophetic voice back into the church. Be assured this voice will not be seen or heard thru many of the mediums being used today to broadcast Christian stuff. ‘Clothed in sackcloth’ part of the price of prophetic ministry includes ‘being clothed in sackcloth’. There just seems to be a principle you find in the Prophets of scripture that at the same time they are prophesying, they are going thru hell! ‘If any man hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours them’ there is this funny dynamic wit prophetic ministry. There critics wind up getting ‘corrected’ by the words of the prophets! ‘And when they finish their testimony the beast makes war against them and kills them’ the reality is/was that there was a real price to pay for their prophetic ministry. I recently wrote on Martin Luther King, there is a real question on whether or not his ‘ministry’ would have took hold in the minds of the public if he were not killed for the cause. John will write thru out this book on the power of the blood of the saints being spilled! Their prayers are like incense to God! ‘And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of THE GREAT CITY WHICH SPIRITUALY IS CALLED SODOM AND EGYPT, WHERE ALSO OUR LORD WAS CRUCIFIED’ Wow, I wonder how well this would have gone over if John preached this at one of those ‘Christians defending Israel’ conventions! All kidding aside, John refused to exalt natural heritage at the expense of the Cross. It is important to see this language in a book that many American preachers use to exalt natural Israel. They will confuse all the imagery of the Ark and the Temple and stuff like this with natural Israel. They truly don’t see what I just showed you! The imagery in a prophetic book like Revelation is IMAGERY! Don’t accuse people of ‘not literally believing the book’ because they interpret this book the way it was meant to be seen. Even the ‘literalists’ will concede that the ‘sword proceeding out of Jesus mouth’ is the word of God. That the ‘lamb on the throne’ is not a real lamb. The one I like is ‘God puts his mark/name on his servants’ and you never see movies being made about Christians getting computer implants in their heads! [Or hands]. ‘And all the nations SAW their dead bodies and refused to bury them [public humiliation] and were so excited over the fall of the believers that they sent gifts to each other’ cant you just see this mindset in the church today. How the late night comedians mock us. They are overjoyed when the church falls openly. They don’t want to ‘bury the mistakes’. They still use Jimmy Swaggart as an example. Even though many of them have secretly been just as guilty as swaggart! ‘After 3 and a half days the Spirit of God entered into them and THEY STOOD ON THEIR FEET and fear fell on them who dwelt on the earth’. God will recover his testimony in the earth. An interesting thing is happening right now with our American political scene. The New York Times announced how the ‘religious right is dieing in influence’. But they don’t seem to realize that Christ’s testimony is not limited to the ‘religious right’. You see the Tony Campolo’s and the Jim Wallis’s are just as much ‘filled with Christ’s Spirit’ as the Chuck Colson’s. The secret to Jesus kingdom is it starts like leaven. It eventually invades all areas of society. Wont the Times be surprised when they see ‘the Spirit of life enter into them’ from both sides of the aisle! ‘And a great voice said to the 2 witnesses, come up hither’. Funny thing here. This is the exact wording that the rapture guys use in chapter 4 to say ‘Jesus took all the believers off the planet’. Well here God says to 2 prophets ‘come up hither’. According to this reasoning more believers left on this flight! ‘The Kingdoms of the world are become the Kingdom of our God and his Christ’ John is preparing the church for a few centuries of real persecution. He is reassuring them that they will ultimately win! ‘And the nations were angry, and the time of the dead to be judged. And rewards given to the prophets and to those who fear your name’ you have multiple times in Johns Revelation where he sums things up. One of the problems with popular interpretations of this book is they try to teach everything in a ‘Line’. Here John is simply summing up the judgment and nature of all that is to come. Man has been and will continue to be angry at God. The more proof rebellious man sees of the reality of God causes him to hate even more. The church is here to do her best to glorify God and bring people into his Kingdom. But make no mistake about it, the world and her rulers have at times done all they could do to fight against God. John is reminding the early church that the rulers who are setting them on fire and hanging their bodies like lamps along the road have their day coming! ‘And the temple of God was opened in heaven [not a man made Temple! God’s people are ‘the Temple/dwelling place of God’. Heaven is also called ‘the sanctuary’ in Hebrews!] And there was seen in his temple the Ark of his testament [The box with the commandments in them. Not Noah’s Ark- this is for the critics of my theory in entry # 662. Those who say ‘get the boat off the planet’! You will have to read the entry!] and there were lightnings and thunder and earthquakes and hail’. Johns Revelation is a great prophetic encouragement for the church in every generation. When John describes a ruler called ‘the beast’ and the number ‘666’. It is only natural for the early church to have seen this figure as Nero. His nickname was actually ‘the beast’. And one of the numerical spellings of his name and title came to ‘666’. Is it heresy to apply modern interpretations to these figures? No. But it is also ‘immature’ to read a prophetic vision like revelation without a basic understanding of how the church read it for 1900 years! This book has tremendous spiritual significance for all believers. To see it as an exact literal translation of geopolitical events of our time is not being ‘mature in our thinking’. NOTE; I wrote this entry yesterday morning. Later in the day I watched the world news with Katie Couric [to all my conservative friends, forgive me for committing the unpardonable sin!] Katie quoted, to the WORLD! ‘Jesus said, lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth’ and then did and expose on Kenneth Copeland ministries. To update you guys. I prophesied on this site that ‘no mountain will be able to stand against what God is doing. Not even Eagle mountain’. Eagle Mountain church is the name of the church Copeland founded. Then a few months back the U.S. Senate began investigating 6 Prosperity ministries. And last night the ‘world/secular’ media quotes Jesus words in rebuking the money gospel. I do not always agree with the ‘exposes’ of the media. I consider Kenneth Copeland a brother in the Lord. I believe he has been a victim of the enemy’s strategy to sidetrack the purpose of Christ’s Kingdom. The Lord only allows public humiliation/chastening [the bodies were lying in the street 3 and a half days! The above reference from Revelation] for his purpose. Don’t take lightly when the secular media quotes Jesus IN CONTEXT while critiquing a minister!

(662) PROVERBS ‘The Merchant Ships bring their goods from afar’ Ships represent whole ‘floating communities of people who are launched out under the authority of a commander [the same word used for Apostle in classical Greek!] and inhabit new worlds with the insignia of their ‘home country’. I like that! Noah’s Ark represented Jesus, Peter says the Ark saved us from the world of sin. How did the ‘like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us, not the washing away of the filth of the flesh but the answer of a pure heart towards God’? Both the rapture guys and the Baptists and the ‘everyone else’s’ could be offended here! The Ark didn’t ‘remove us from the planet’! Like the Rapture guys teach. They say ‘like the days of Noah so shall it be at the end’ true enough, Jesus said this. They than say ‘see, in Noah’s day God took them away before judgment’ no he didn’t! They ‘floated’ in safety inside the Ark while STILL IN THE WORLD! We are all ‘in the Ark’ of the Body of Christ. We are ‘the Merchant ships’ bringing our goods from far [cast not your pearls before swine- we have pearls!] Wherever we ‘harbor’ on this journey we get off and establish a ‘beachhead for the Kingdom’. We ‘Colonize’ new lands for our King. Quit trying to get Jesus to take the boat out of the world. He wants the boat to stay in the world. Hey, after it stops raining [40 days represent judgment and divine cleansing] you are supposed to get out and re populate the planet! NOTE- the Merchant Ships speak of the virtuous woman in the last chapter. How can Jesus be ‘the Ark’ and also the virtuous woman be ‘the ship’. We are Jesus perfect bride. We are called ‘the Body/Bride of Christ’. Paul says this oneness is a great mystery, Christ and the Church. So both Jesus and his Bride can be ‘the Ship/Ark’! Also fundamental to the nature of colonizing is once you establish a presence in a new world you do your best to never lose that piece of territory. You try to keep the flag up at all costs! When Jesus ascended to the father he sent his Spirit to continue the work of colonization that he initiated. The biggest problem with the Rapture theory is it seems to teach a 7 year [or 3.5] period of retreat. Why would Jesus have a 2 thousand year presence, a true testimony of ‘his Kingdom having no end’. And then withdraw all the troops right before the final victory? Sounds familiar doesn’t it! NOTE; The New testament says Jesus will judge the enemy and the unrighteous world with his presence ‘the brightness of his coming’. Paul says the gospel is life saving to those who believe and judgment to those who don’t believe. In the whole debate on whether or not believers can be on the earth during a time of Gods wrath, we miss the reality of Gods presence being his wrath to the unbeliever but being our salvation! We do not ‘flee from the face of him who sits on the throne’. The water in Noah’s day both judged the unbelieving world and saved the believing world. It was the actual thing that caused Noah’s boat to rise above the ungodly earth. It ‘saved’ the righteous and condemned the unrighteous!

(565) John 3- Nicodemus comes secretly to Jesus, he is one of the few in leadership that is having doubts. The others with one voice reject Jesus, Nicodemus is wondering. Jesus rebukes him for being a ‘ruler’ of the Jews and not being able to comprehend the most basic stuff. I have found it disheartening over the years to talk with Pastors who heard someone teach that because Jesus had an expensive coat, that he must have been rich. Despite all the evidence in the New Testament how Jesus was the son of a carpenter and lived an average life. The tons of verses where Jesus is reproving rich people. The whole historical and biblical truth of Jesus being a man of humble means. The fact that he had an expensive coat can more than likely be explained by the custom of people doing extravagant acts of worship towards him. The woman and the expensive perfume poured on him. Things like this. Someone probably gave him the coat. But for Pastors, who are good men, to fall for this stuff was unbelievable. Sort of like Jesus telling Nicodemus ‘you are a leader and can’t discern the most basic stuff’! Jesus teaches the reality of the new birth. All people must be born of God thru belief in Jesus, or they will not be saved. We must stand strong for Jesus as the only way to God. John the Baptist will be told that all men are going to Jesus. John says ‘great, he must increase and I must decrease’ John understood that the role of leadership [prophets] was to point to the fame and persona of Jesus. Not to go down the common road of pointing people towards us. In modern ministry we draw people to our gifts and abilities. We structure modern churches around the gift of the Pastor. We allow leadership to become preeminent in our minds and thoughts. John knew better. We also see that the wrath of God abides on all who do not believe in Jesus. If you believe in Jesus you escape Gods wrath. It can’t touch you. Whether you are in heaven or earth, or like David said ‘in hell you are there’. That is you can’t escape Gods presence anywhere. So if you are in Christ, wrath can’t get you. If you are not in Christ, it continually abides on you. You do not escape wrath by leaving the planet during the tribulation. If an unbeliever was on a rocket ship right before the tribulation started, and wound up on the moon during the 7 years of wrath, he wouldn’t escape Gods wrath. You don’t escape judgment by being in the right geographical location, you escape it by being IN HIM! John also says a man can receive nothing unless it is given to him. Why be jealous if all of our gifts and abilities are free gifts? We act like we earned them! John says no man receives his testimony, then he says ‘to those who have received it’. What’s this mean? Paul told the Corinthians that we have received the Spirit of God so we might know the things that are freely given to us from God. God gives us his Spirit first, so we can receive his testimony. This goes back to the early centuries of the church and hits all the major doctrines on sovereignty. Augustine, Calvin, Luther [Yes Luther was a strong believer in predestination, it was no accident that he was an Augustinian monk!] Paul tells the Ephesians that were are dead in sins and completely incapable of receiving spiritual truth until God pours his Spirit into us and we become alive. Thank God that even though no man [in the natural] can receive his testimony, that God gives us his Spirit and births us so we can know the things that he has freely given to us in Christ!

(64) I was watching a special the other day on cults. They spoke on Jim Jones and others. I have researched cults pretty extensively in the past. One of the most important lessons from Jim Jones is the fact that he started well, and was even on the cutting edge of certain truths for his day. He was sincere, originally preached the Gospel and many of his followers till this day feel like they were truly seeking God. The mass suicide was done as a ‘protest action’. Jim had read this in some of the socialist materials that he studied. He saw their deaths as a protest against society. Well obviously the movement became a cult and they were wrong in the things they did. Today there are many Christian groups who have the same mindset of ‘siege’ and isolationism that Jones temple had. I mentioned earlier about being a part of a Fundamental Baptist Church in the past, while I don’t want to call them a cult, the group had a mindset that saw all other groups [even Baptists] as either heretics or backslidden. They had a mentality of ‘the worlds out to get us’ and we must separate from it at all costs. But the extreme separation they practiced caused them to ‘separate’ from the rest of the body of Christ. You can be part of a big group and still be ‘isolated’ if you see the rest of the world [Christian and lost people] as something you are separating from inside the four walls of your fortress [church or community]. As an elder of this fundamental church I remember how we had a special meeting to decide whether or not we should cut off support from a missionary. The ‘heresy’ he fell into was he became a ‘mid tribber’. He believed the ‘Rapture’ would occur after the first three and a half years of the tribulation as opposed to occurring before the tribulation starts. Well even at that time I expressed my disagreement over cutting someone off for this. The funny thing is I believe now that the ‘Rapture’ and the Second Coming are one event. So we were all ‘heretics’ at the time! The point here is when Christians develop the sectarian mindset that Paul rebuked the Corinthians for, we are in danger. I am not saying we will all commit mass suicide, but we do harm to ourselves and others. Let me add here a little on the ‘Rapture’. Just a few weeks ago I was fellowshipping with a brother and he brought the subject up. I really try to avoid it in general when fellowshipping and witnessing [which we were doing at the time]. Well he wanted to know whether I was ‘pre’ or ‘mid’ trib. I then regretfully confessed that I believe there is only one second coming, I don’t believe the ‘rapture’ is speaking of a different event at all. Well my friend, who was quite knowledgeable in the scriptures, emphatically agreed. He also said he saw only one ‘Second Coming’, but to him the rapture was something else. If you read 1st Thessalonians 4 [the rapture chapter] I can’t see how you can honestly see this as different from the other scriptures that speak of the second coming and the resurrection. I find it a contradiction to read these events as ‘separate’. I am familiar with all the arguments on the trumpets and every other little detail. I just see the overriding text being that of one event. In the discussion with my friend he jumped to all the various ‘proof’ texts to back up his belief. I simply believe the plain reading of these verses show it to be one event. You should interpret the plain meaning first, before going to lengths to defend something else. Well I don’t want to argue about this, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

(65) Let me also say that the current popular ‘end times’ teaching that you see and hear in much of American Evangelicalism sprouted thru the fundamentalist reaction to higher criticism. In the 1800’s there were certain Christian groups in England [the Brethren and others] that took hold of ‘Dispensationalism’. The ‘Rapture’ doctrine and other scenarios of bible interpretation sprung up out of these movements. When the American fundamentalists used the ‘Bible Conference’ as a tool to counteract the higher criticism being taught in the universities, Dispensationalism sort of tagged along. It became common to think ‘defending the historic faith’ meant defending ‘Dispensational theology’. This was a major mistake. The ‘Historic faith’ did not teach certain elements of dispensationalism [Rapture]. So today you find many American Christians who are all too willing to embrace certain end time scenarios [Tim Lahaye stuff!] thinking there ‘defending the bible’ not realizing that some of the things there defending are not in the bible! [At least not in the way that they see it]. When you fail to read scripture thru an historical paradigm you fall into the danger of trying to fit current geopolitical events into certain Old Testament prophets, and this is dangerous. You would never want to do world politics with a view of Israel and other nations [Russia- Gog and Magog] as a type of ‘newspaper prophecy’ that speaks to every current world scenario. One of the fears of certain believers is the fact that President Bush [current President as of this writing] holds to a view like this. I remember certain ‘end time preachers’ disclosing the fact that the Bush administration contacted them early on about certain end time things. I am real uncomfortable about this. Many of these end time preachers do not realize that many of these scenarios concerning Israel and other nations have played out time and again over the last few thousand years. To take these Old Testament prophets and think that they are all speaking about current affairs is misguided!

(113) I want to go back to something I spoke on a few weeks ago. The subject of the anti christ and the destruction of the temple spoken about in the New Testament. I was having a conversation with a friend and he brought up the fact that the bible speaks about the end of the world and the temple being destroyed. I tried to place some things in historical context. I told him, yes its true that Jesus said the temple would be destroyed, and the apostle Paul wrote the Thessalonians concerning a coming judgment and falling away. But I told my friend that the Roman general Titus actually destroyed the temple in A.D. 70 around 2 thousand years ago. I realize that its popular today to believe a future temple must be built in Jerusalem in order for certain evens to be fulfilled. But it’s also possible that both Jesus and Paul were speaking about the immediate events that were to happen in the 1st century. There is a verse where Paul says ‘he that restrains will restrain until he’s taken out of the way’ [Thessalonians]. Without getting too technical for some of my readers, this verse is interpreted in some circles as referring to the Spirit of God dwelling in the church. These brothers then see the ‘taking away’ of the church [believers] in the rapture as the event where the restrainer is ‘taken away’ and then the antichrist appears. Thus developing a theology that says all Christians are removed from the planet before the tribulation occurs. Let me put some context to this. The main debate that the apostle Paul and Jesus dealt with in the 1st century was the reality of God bringing in a New Covenant thru the blood of Jesus. This new covenant would only recognize one sacrifice for the sins of man, the death of Christ! The Jewish community had a sort of ‘probationary’ period where they either would accept the final sacrifice of Christ, or ultimately God would leave their religious system. The reality was for the most part the Jewish nation never accepted the finality of the cross. They did not accept Jesus as their Messiah. During this ‘probationary’ period Gods Spirit was still with them to a degree. The book of Hebrews indicates this. It is quite possible that the ‘restrainer’ who would hold back the coming destruction of the temple and the Jewish system was speaking of the Spirit than resident in the Jewish community. In essence God was saying ‘you have so much time to decide whether or not Jesus is Messiah, if you decide the wrong way, I will leave your community [by the Spirit] and there will be no more restraining influence to keep back Rome and its government from destroying you!’ This view puts everything into context. The main thing you see here is Gods priority on the sacrifice of Christ as mans only hope. The Spirit of God would no longer reside with those who would do ‘despite unto the Spirit of Grace’ [Hebrews]. It’s quite possible that the ‘taking away’ of the restrainer was Gods Spirit leaving first century Judaism as a result of their rejection of Christ. Their probationary period was over and they rejected the chief cornerstone!

(170) Over the years I have found it interesting that many Christians live their whole lives believing things that they feel are not true. Not talking about the basic tenets of the faith, but stuff on the ‘rapture’ or the church, or tithing. A lot of the stuff I deal with. It’s funny that Christians live their whole lives embracing things just out of fear. Some times they will admit that what they heard [read] from our ministry was something that they always felt to be true. I kind of feel like saying ‘if you knew this to be true, why would you not embrace it’. The first century believers were getting their heads chopped off for the faith, and we don’t have the courage to believe and preach the simplest things! It’s stuff like this that determines whether or not you will move on to the next level. Many preachers are seeking a national voice, looking to expand their parameters. God first wants boldness to hear and receive truth from him. Why would the Lord expand someone’s forum if they don’t have the basic ability to hear and speak truth? I am not talking about simply ‘regurgitating’ someone else’s revelation. I am talking about hearing and speaking what God is saying. ‘OPEN MY EYES SO I MIGHT BEHOLD THINGS OUT OF YOUR LAW’.

(219) Let me give a small example of Gods truth versus an exasperated clergy. One small area of truth that we deal with is the second coming. We teach the historical majority view. There is only ONE second coming spoken about in the New Testament. The scriptures commonly used to teach the ‘rapture’ as a different event are really talking about the 2nd coming. Now this one area [not to mention all the other stuff!] is enough to make us permanent enemies to some renown preachers in this area. Some churches call us heretics for this alone! I know this and really don’t care to be honest. It’s funny, because all the railing that they would do against us in this one area is wasted time. God’s truth is Gods truth. No matter how much time is wasted defending a so-called ‘fundamental’ of the faith, it’s wasted time for the defenders if they are defending something that is basically wrong. It’s hard for preachers to admit their wrong in any area. I know this is true with me too. I just find it funny that those who go to great lengths to defend a thing will eventually find out the truth. No big deal, just make sure your spending your time and energy on stuff that will make a real difference. Don’t waste it on stuff that’s fake!

(247) Being I mentioned Eagles Nest in San Antonio, let me say a few things about another worldwide ministry out of San Antonio. I wont say the church, but they are one of the biggest in the City. This church is a good old time Pentecostal gospel preaching church. Every now and than you can catch the Pastor on his TV show teaching on Armageddon being right around the corner [hey, how many times can it be right around the corner?]. This brother thinks its heresy to not believe the rapture as being a separate event from the second coming [even though most Christians thru out history have not believed the rapture, and the majority of believers today do not hold to this view!]. The whole end time scenario of ‘scare tactics’ that this church preaches is not my cup of tea. Is Jesus coming again? Yes! Will there be an end of the world some day? Yes! Do I know when? No. But neither do you! The whole point is when we become isolated in our understanding from the rest of the historic church, we are then in danger of missing the ‘whole counsel of God’. It amazes me to hear preachers who are just beginning to reject the rapture publicly. Some who have heard me speak it are now becoming more comfortable about ‘coming out of the closet’ with their own doubts about this doctrine. But when they come out with it, they sound as if they are going against the world. I feel like saying ‘brother, most Christians today know how silly the doctrine is, it’s only the isolated camps that are not aware of the doubtfulness of this doctrine’. Now I am not saying all Christians who believe the rapture are isolated or ignorant. They certainly are not! But some believers think that the probability of ‘the rapture’ as being fake is a secret that only a few know about. Hey, most Christians and theologians worldwide are familiar with the majority of believers not embracing this doctrine. But if all of your education is coming from a good Pastor, who does preach the gospel, but holds to less than ideal views of the end time. Then you are in danger of believing things out of a lack of getting ‘the whole counsel of God’. You cannot access the ‘whole counsel of God’ unless you know what the ‘whole church believes, and has believed for the last 2 thousand years’. God expressly manifests his mind thru the church. We are the ‘Body of Christ’ we possess the mind of Christ as his representatives on earth. Is the majority report always right? No. But if you don’t even realize that there exists a ‘majority report’ then you will be in danger of living your whole Christian experience with the small perspective of some preachers ‘end time charts’. NOTE: I have tried to explain in a lot of our teaching why I don’t believe in the rapture [that is that Jesus comes back in the air to secretly take us to heaven, then comes back later, 7 years for most, 3.5 for others, in another event called the 2nd coming] without getting to technical let me leave you with this thought. In the gospel of John, chapter 17 Jesus says ‘FATHER, I AM NOT PRAYING FOR YOU TO TAKE THEM OUT OF THE WORLD [rapture!] BUT FOR YOU TO KEEP THEM FROM THE EVIL THAT IS IN THE WORLD This one statement alone shows you the purpose of God for the church. We are salt and light to the world. The salt does no good if it’s not on the table!

(389) Let me jump back to a small group of our readers who are from the ‘fundamentalist’ background. A lot of the issues on the Rapture and end times and ‘getting saved for real’ that I deal with is helpful to this part of our ‘on line’ community. One of the other areas that I saw when I was attending a fundamental Baptist Church was the inability to see or accept the fact that some of the ‘heroes’ of the faith were not like them. Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield and other great revival leaders who were part of the historical great awakenings of this country were presented in ways that were intellectually dishonest. The Pastors didn’t mean to be ‘dishonest’ it was simply a result of the sectarian mindset that works within this group. The church I attended described classic Calvinism as ‘hyper Calvinism’. The above preachers all believed in classic Calvinism. They honestly held to the historic doctrine of predestination as taught by the Apostle Paul. Now the groups who do not hold to ‘predestination’ in the classic way are called ‘Arminians’. Most of the Evangelical church in America fall into this group. The point is when the ‘fundamental Baptists’ spoke on these historical preachers they taught that they were all like them. They would say ‘some are trying to teach that Edwards was a hyper Calvinist, we no better than to believe this’. The fact is Edwards was actually a ‘hyper Calvinist’. The point I am making isn’t to debate the different positions of the fathers of the faith. Whatever side you fall on is up to you. But no matter how you believe, this doesn’t give you the right to distort or misrepresent history. To some of the brothers the simple reality that there were great heroes of the faith who actually believed in ‘hyper Calvinism’ was too much for them to handle. This grows out of being insecure and sectarian in your faith. In order for believers to be able to embrace the other parts of the church that they are unfamiliar with, there needs to be a basic security of accepting the fact that others are not like you. You can still teach about them and the historic movements that they were a part of, but to deny the reality of what they taught and believed does a disservice to true Christian learning.

(403) Might as well go a little more, being some guys [Pastors] are already mad. The area of the Second Coming. If there is any doctrine in the New Testament. The Cross. The Second Coming. Any major theme that is specifically defined as ‘an event’. For example; the ‘event’ of the Cross. The ‘event’ of Christ coming ONE more time. When you have something defined this way. No matter how many other end time scenarios you come up with, it has to stay faithful to the event. There are different ‘looks’ at the Cross in the gospels. There are different views of certain major miracles. There are different ‘words’ that describe the Kingdom of God [One writer says ‘Kingdom of Heaven’]. When you read the different ‘angles’ you are seeing the same event from different perspectives. If one writer shows the events surrounding the Cross in a little different light, you don’t say there were 2 Cross events! That’s just plain common sense. If Jesus says to Peter in one gospel ‘you will deny me 3 times before the rooster crows’ and then in another gospel ‘you will deny me 3 times before the rooster crows twice’ are there 2 separate events when Peter did this? NO. One writer is just giving a little more detail about the event. So when you see in the New Testament various ‘angles’ to the second coming, no matter what, you don’t have the option of turning it into ‘2 more second comings’. Those who teach this say ‘we believe in one second coming. It’s just in 2 stages’ come on man! If I told you I am coming to visit you. I come. Then I say I will be back ONE more time for dinner. You don’t know when it will be. But watch, because I am coming back ONE more time. 5 years later I show up, I take care of business. I do some stuff. You would assume I came back for the last time. If I left and showed up again after 7 more years and said ‘this is the second part of the last coming’ this would be a little confusing. If there’s a ‘second part’ then that means I came back 2 more times. So you would have the first visit, the second time and then number 3! If you tried to tell me the last 2 times were one event split by 7 [or 3.5] years I would say ‘then why don’t you call all 3 of your comings 3 separate parts of ONE COMING’. We are silly at times! Jesus is coming back again. All the saints will meet him in the air. 1st Thessalonians says this. Will they ‘disappear’ for 7 years? NO. We meet him, the great inauguration day, the wedding supper. What ever you want to call it. We then return to the earth [that’s why you see images of Jesus coming back with his saints] not 7 years later, the same day! A lot of stuff happens for sure. But you cant turn this major historical belief into 2 separate events because it seems to fit better into your end time prophecy charts. Jesus will come back ONE more time according to the New Testament. It will be a great day for sure. He is not coming back 2 more times. That would make it the ‘third’ coming of Christ, not the ‘Second’. NOTE: To all my ‘regular’ readers. Many Christians teach that Jesus will come back again 2 more times. They call the next time ‘the Rapture’ which comes from the phrase ‘to catch away/ caught up’ found in 1st Thessalonians chapter 4. They then teach Jesus takes all the Christians away for 7 [or 3.5] years and comes back for a 3rd time at the ‘revelation’ [that is ‘his revealing]. There are many reasons why this teaching developed in the church. It’s not really heresy; I refer to it more as ‘silly’ [I would say stupid, but Christians are not supposed to use that type of language!] NOTE; I do find it a little ironic that many of the fundamental churches who believe this doctrine don’t seem to realize that more than likely it originated from a prophecy that a woman gave in a ‘brethren’ church back in the 19th century [this comes from some exhaustive research on this doctrine] it became popularized by some good men, gained a ‘foothold’ in the fundamentalist/bible conference movement of the 20th century and is taught today in some good bible schools [Dallas theological Seminary is one]. The point is some of these churches who embrace this would be the last ones to accept the ‘prophetic’ movement, and they would be apoplectic if they knew that one of their major ‘doctrines of the faith’ came from a woman’s prophecy! God does have a sense of humor! NOTE; Some teach that Jesus comes back ‘secretly’ at the event seen in 1st Thessalonians 4, they teach that Jesus comes all the way back to earth but just stops short [his feet not touching the ground] and is hidden and takes all the Christians away. They see the ‘taking away’ of Elijah and Enoch in the Old Testament as a ‘type’ of this. If God wanted to ‘take away’ all the Christians out of the planet, why would he have to come all the way back and stop short? To truly follow the model of Elijah and Enoch he could just take all the Christians while remaining seated at Gods right hand. I really don’t see why he would have to come all the way back and stop short in heaven [the air] to do this. The simple fact is when he returns we will be ‘caught up’ to meet him in the air and will from that moment forward forever be with him. This event as described in 1st Thessalonians chapter 4 is without a doubt the resurrection. There is no ‘secret’ resurrection spoken of in scripture.

(406) We all have a tendency to ‘take refuge’ in a ‘completed’ belief system. We want to have every answer down pat. We decide to believe one way or another on certain doctrines [not talking about the basic truths of the gospel!] and then we move ahead in the journey. Whether we are right or wrong doesn’t seem to matter. We have already decided, we have preached it to others, and there is no way I can admit that I have been wrong. It’s funny because many who act like this are the same ones who will criticize the Catholics for holding on to tradition. These guys are worse! God is calling us to take refuge in him. For him to be the ‘rock of defense’ the ‘fortress and one who never changes’ our stability should be in him, not some system of doctrine that has come to us from men. Now the faith that was once and for all given to the church is not what I am talking about, but the other silly stuff we find ‘refuge’ in. Am I pre trib, mid trib or post? Well if there is only one second coming [and there is only one] then you don’t have a lot of choices, do you? ‘But I have been taught this historic doctrine from the great men of faith of days gone by’ no you haven’t, you believe in something silly that is not true. ‘Well I will believe my way, and you will believe yours’ I know that already, but the point is you guys are the same ones that get apoplectic over the Catholics! Just thought I would show you what a bunch of hypocrites you are. NOTE; Let me show you what I mean. If you read the passages in the gospels when Jesus is speaking on his second coming and the end of the world. He says ‘there will be tribulation like never before’ he talks about the obvious events of the great tribulation. He then says ‘after these things you will see the sign of the coming of the son of Man’ the pre tribulation brothers call this ‘the revelation’ part of the second coming. The ‘second part’. You then also have Jesus say ‘then one shall be taken and the other left’. Now he specifically says this ‘one taken and the other left’ is after the tribulation, at his second coming. This seems to make it real simple. Jesus will come and ‘take some and leave others’ at this event, which happens at the ‘second coming’ and his return. The Rapture guys say this is not the event of 1st Thessalonians chapter 4. Even though if you read that chapter Paul says when Christ returns some will be taken and others will be left [the unbelievers]. The rapture guys say this is a ‘different’ taking of people at a ‘different’ second coming. Well I think I could accept the doctrine of Peter being the first Pope before you could convince me of this one!

There were a couple of things I felt like sharing, but I was waiting until I cover the book of Hebrews. I hope to overview it on this blog. But I just had a prophetic dream and it dealt with sharing it. The dream was I was on a roof with a friend of mine from the Fire Dept. This friend has learned stuff from me over the years. He wouldn’t be what you would call ‘a real active Christian’. Just a friend who has been kind of interested in all the stuff I do. Well while we were on the roof [sort of like a roof you might be on to ventilate during a fire] there was an authority figure [a military guard] that was keeping him on the roof. Not like he was breaking the law or being in a judgment type situation. Just the sense that the ‘authority’ figure was not permitting him to leave this post yet. I shared a few things and repelled down with a rope. I then was teaching some stuff [the stuff I was going to wait till I got to Hebrews to share] to one of the younger firefighters. He was sort of a rookie and was just beginning to learn some stuff. He had to go and I was not able to finish the teaching. I told my friend [who was now on the ground] to finish teaching him. He was not the type of person who would normally share his faith. But he knew exactly what I was teaching the other guy, and sort of said ‘yea, I’ll tell him John. I know what you mean’. Well let me share the stuff and maybe get back to the dream. The other day I spoke on the concept of ‘Sunday church’ and how we get this from Paul telling the Corinthians ‘upon the 1st day of the week take up a collection’ [1st Cor. 16] The early church began to practice meeting on the first day [as well as every day!] in memory of the resurrection of Jesus. Nothing wrong about this. As the church ‘lost’ her family/community mindset and digressed into a ‘Sunday church building’ mindset, it just became natural to develop ‘Sunday as the New Covenant’ Sabbath. This is not a biblical doctrine. There is no ‘New Testament Sabbath’ in this way. Now there is tremendous truth to what God wants to teach believers thru the Sabbath, but when we simply teach that God changed one religious day to another [Saturday to Sunday] we lose the truth. The mature believer does not ‘hold’ one day above another. It’s fine to ‘go to church on Sunday’ but to see Sunday as the old covenant Sabbath, and all the blue laws and stuff associated with it, is to not ‘see’ the truth behind the shadow. All people who are in Christ, who are new covenant believers have entered into a ‘place of rest’ where they have ceased from their own works [efforts to make themselves righteous before God]. This ‘place’ is the ‘Sabbath’ rest of God. It is not a day, or a mode of religious worship. It is an eternal ‘age’ of rest that comes to all those who are in Grace. Now Paul actually teaches this in Hebrews. I can’t do it now, but scroll down to the tape/book catalog on this site and read the descriptions on Hebrews. I cover some of it in there. Paul teaches that God created all things in 6 days, and rested on the 7th. He tells the 1st century Jewish community ‘you must cease from your own works too [the law, and trying to please God legalistically] and come by faith to the Cross’ Paul teaches it in a way where he says ‘if God rested on the Sabbath, so you must enter into this rest’. He does do a lot of spiritualizing of scripture. But it must be right, it is inspired! So basically the ‘Sabbath rest’ is entering into the New Covenant. The ‘age of Grace’. But as the church lost the family mindset, it just became easy to teach that Sunday is now the new day for religious things, as opposed to Saturday. You then have all the 7th day groups [7th day Adventists and others- there are whole regions in this country where the Baptists are 7th day Baptists. They hold to Baptist belief in every area, but they believe the same way the 7th day Adventists believe. That the Catholics changed the ‘Sabbath’ to Sunday, and that in so many words this is the ‘mark of the beast’] using scripture to prove that Saturday is the Sabbath and not Sunday. Now Saturday has always been the Sabbath Day. This has not changed [It’s just that in Christ the law has been fulfilled and we are not under any legal requirements in this way. We are in grace and not under law]. The issue isn’t ‘what day is church day’, the issue is once you enter into Gods grace and rest [the Sabbath] you are fulfilling the Sabbath by resting in him. In essence you have found Gods rest. This isn’t saying ‘church day’ is Saturday, or Sunday. ‘Church’ day was every day in the 1st century church. But you see how easy it is when you function out of the ‘going to church on what day’ paradigm, it becomes natural to go thru the bible and try to find ‘the right church day’. We do this with the tithe and all sorts of stuff. Well in the dream I felt like the Lord was saying that many of my friends over the years, even the ones that usually don’t view themselves as ‘preachers’ are going to be used to pass along some of these truths that they have learned from me. The ‘authority figure’ was simply God saying to these friends ‘you are to remain here [at the fire dept?] after John leaves and you are going to be responsible to pass along these things’. I also felt like some of my buddies at the dept have felt like the lord wanted to use them in a greater way, but maybe they felt constrained to be working there. To these friends, let the Lord use you by doing the things you have seen me do in ministry over the years. Use this blog. I share some stuff on the Kingsville fire dept. this will give a sense of purpose for the guys who feel ‘stuck’ at a menial job. The older brothers can use this blog and any other tools to pass stuff along to the new guys. In essence you haven’t missed your chance to have an impact in the Kingdom, maybe the Lord left you there by Divine appointment! NOTE; The 7th day brothers will make some arguments like ‘as believers we keep all the commandments, why not Saturday?’ They also point to the fact that one of the Catholic fathers actually taught that the proof that the Catholic Church has the authority to change ‘laws’ and establish new ‘commands’ was the fact that they changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. This is a true argument that a Catholic scholar has made. So this re enforces in the mind of the 7th day brothers that they must be right. Look at all this proof! Well to be honest, if the issue was ‘what day is church day’ as far as what day has God ordained as ‘the special day’ I think the 7th day guys would win. But I believe the truth on this is in the new covenant there is no ‘special day’ because ‘church’ isn’t a ritual at all. Paul actually told the Colossians that the Sabbath day[s] were shadows of truths that were seen fully in Christ. Sort of like what I just told you. The 7th day brothers say Paul was talking about ‘days’ not ‘day’. The point is when you are resting in Christ you don’t kill, steal, and all the other stuff mentioned in the commandments. Well what about the Sabbath? If Christians are ‘keeping’ all 9 commandments, how do you justify not keeping this one? We are keeping it! When you are in Christ you have ceased from all the religious works of the law and are being made righteous by faith. You are keeping the Sabbath like all the other laws. It is a natural outgrowth of your new nature In Christ. It is not ‘going to church on Sabbath day’ you silly Christians! It is daily walking in Gods free grace, being in right relationship with him by faith. You are in essence ‘keeping Sabbath’ because you have ceased from you own works. It is not some type of ceremonial thing you do on Saturday! NOTE: To all my radical readers [Apostles, Pastors, etc] I too believe that the kingdom involves radical continuous action. There are times where we are ‘non stop’. There are others [not like us!] who lay back and experience their Christian life by really not doing anything. They sort of justify it by ‘entering the Sabbath rest’; they think God requires no action. Let me put some perspective. When God entered into the 7th day of rest in creation, it was a time where he initiated 6 days of tremendous SELF SUSTAINING life and then allowed that creation to reproduce as he ‘sat back’ and enjoyed his heritage. So Gods ‘rest’ is not a ceasing of activity, in as much as it is a period of watching the things you ‘planted’ grow. So for you radicals, lets operate in grace and see the things we are planting ‘grow on their own’. Don’t think you need to be involved in all the ‘re producing’. Jesus said faith in the Kingdom was like planting seed and as you sleep and rise the seed is growing, but you DON’T KNOW HOW THIS IS HAPPENING. So be faithful to plant, and let God nurture and sustain and cause to grow [Paul said some plant, others water but only God can cause actual growth]. NOTE: Let me say a few things on cults. Most true Christians see the major cults as the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witness groups. I must admit I too see them as cults. The Jehovah’s primarily because of their denial of the deity of Christ. Their bible translation purposefully misinterprets the passage in John chapter one that says ‘in the beginning was the Word and the word was with God and the word was God’ they change it to say ‘the Word was a god’ a big no no! Simply put, this puts you on the ‘cult list’. The Mormons [Latter Day Saints] are a little more difficult. Their main reason why they make the list is because of the extra biblical book [book of Mormon] as well as the unbelievable amount of extra biblical doctrine that can only fit into the characterization of ‘fantasy’. A lot of Christians do not realize the amount of truly weird stuff they teach. They teach God was like us at one time. He basically ‘evolved’ to where he is now, and we are on this journey. Eventually we will be gods populating our own universe with the many wives [therefore plural marriage was originally part of the plan, but not any more! The only ones who still embrace plural marriage are the fundamentalist Mormon groups who believe the church ‘apostatized’ when it officially rejected this doctrine]. So besides all the other historically un true stuff [the whole so called civilization that Jesus appeared to in the Americas] the group has way too much extra biblical stuff to fall into the class ‘Christian’. The one caveat is they do believe in the sacrifice of Christ for man, it’s just how do you balance that with all this other stuff? Sorry, I do call them a cult. Now, I like Mormons and Jehovah’s Witness as people. I do not personally demean them! But the facts are there. What about the 7th day Adventists? Too many evangelical friends of mine have classified them as a cult too quickly. I am aware of the few strange teachings they hold to. Nothing even close to the Mormons. I am concerned about the credence they give to certain past ‘founders’ and stuff. Overall I see them as Christian, though they fall into legalism with the classic belief that they are the true church because of the 7th day observance. They say all others who ‘go to church on Sunday’ have received the mark of the beast. Basically I do have disagreements with them, but I do not see them as a ‘classical cult’ the way I see the other groups. I find it troubling that I have had evangelical friends who classified groups as ‘cults’ because they didn’t believe in the Rapture. They don’t even realize that the ‘Rapture’ is basically false! At least the way they teach it. So you can see that it is easy to label groups as ‘cults’. I don’t want to judge any of these groups, I just needed to be honest about these groups and try and share this stuff in love. I am grateful for all the Mormons and any other groups who read this site. I don’t want to lose you guys! God bless you all.

(426) I was just thinking of the verse that says to the Virgin Mary ‘this child is set for the rising and falling of many in Israel, a sword shall pierce thru your own heart also that the thoughts of many hearts can be revealed’ [I don’t know where it is, a rough quote from memory]. Jesus prophetic aspect caused many to question and wonder about their own beliefs. He also caused people to be honest with each other and sometimes this honesty caused division. There ‘possibly’ have been scenarios where preacher friends or ‘church attendees’ have gone to their Pastors and said ‘can you believe what John is preaching now, he doesn’t believe the rapture!’ and for the first time the Pastor has to admit that he doesn’t believe it either! So what the ‘well meaning’ person thought was going to happen ‘talk about John’ really didn’t happen. Instead the ‘thoughts’ of his Pastors heart were revealed. I like stuff like that. Many of you guys are going to have ‘a sword pierce thru your heart’ in the sense that there will be things that you questioned earlier as a believer and learned to ‘silence’ the questions. At this season a lot of the prophetic preaching is ‘re opening’ these old wounds. They were never meant to become ‘wounds’. God showed you a lot of this stuff at the beginning of your journey. The ‘sword of the Spirit’ has opened these questions up again, and the thoughts of your heart are being revealed. This is reformation my friends. We often pray for it, but when it shows up it looks different than what we expected. Sort of like Jesus appearing to the 1st century Jew. It wasn’t what they expected!

(504) I was watching a preacher the other day teaching on end time things. He is very dogmatic in his view. The Rapture and all. I thought it funny, because as he got to the part where he was teaching on the ‘4 horseman of Revelation’ he flatly says ‘the rider on the white horse is the anti-christ’. I know this view fairly well. I was taught it as a new Christian. The last few times I have read Revelation I lean more towards this rider being Christ who is conquering against the forces of evil. Some say ‘well, we know this isn’t Christ, because after him come the other 3 horses which represent death and destruction and bad stuff’. The point I will make is in Revelation your are seeing ‘the wrath of God’ it is Gods judgment on the unbelieving world. It would seem fitting for Christ to appear at the beginning of these judgments, after all ‘all judgment has been committed to the Son’. I really have no idea why I am even getting into this, I haven’t read Revelation in a while. I just thought it funny, how someone can be so sure of his end time scenario, where he might actually be calling a reference to Christ ‘the anti-christ’.[a bit prophetic, don’t you think? Revelation is about the story of the Son of God triumphing over the forces of evil, but those who hold to the strong antichrist view, it just seems fitting for them to mistake ‘Christ’ for ‘antichrist’, if this is all you see when you read the book, then that’s what you will SEE!] NOTE; Let me overview a little bit more. The above interpretation of the rider on the white horse being ‘antichrist’ grows out of an entire ‘scheme’ of end time events that was developed in the 19th and 20th centuries. These were good men [John Nelson Darby] who came to embrace certain views of end time things [Rapture]. To these brothers they see the Church [believers] ‘taken away’ in the first few chapters of Revelation. They say ‘Jesus is speaking to the churches by his Spirit, then you have no more ‘churches’ being spoken to’. God tells John to ‘come up here’ [heaven] and they see this as the ‘secret Rapture’ where the church is taken away. The reason they see it like this is in Revelation you see Gods wrath on those that ‘dwell on the earth’ and therefore believers can’t be here! Even though you will find actual references of the Devil fighting the Saints. Making war against those who ‘keep the Word of God’ and all sorts of references of the enemy fighting believers thru out the book. The ‘Rapture’ brothers will say ‘these groups are those who got saved after the church left’ well, if they are saved, they are ‘in the church’ technically speaking. So it is possible [very likely too me!] that ‘Christians’ are on the planet when these hard times take place. They also will say ‘these references to those who keep the Word of God’ are to certain Jews who are converted [again all new testament language to ‘the Israel of God’ and things like this are speaking of those who have come to know God by faith, even Jews] so the fact that thru out the rest of the book you find language like this, tells me the ‘church’ didn’t get secretly taken away. And then most importantly, you find CLEAR verses actually speaking of Jesus coming, in PLAIN LANGUAGE, and these verses are looked at as ‘the final stage of the second coming’ or other verses referencing Christ [like the rider on the white horse] being called ‘anit christ’. To me all these brothers ‘suffer from’ a mistake that they warn others about making. That is ‘interpret the plain meaning of scripture first, before going to lengths to develop doctrines from that which isn’t plainly in the text’. If God has ANY PEOPLE ON THE EARTH WHO ARE CALLED ‘SAINTS’ THOSE WHO KEEP THE WORD OF GOD and any other references like this, then plainly these references show that Christians are on the planet during this time. The Rapture guys will so much as accept this, but then they come up with all sorts of different categories for these ‘converts’ who are ‘saved’ during the tribulation. My argument would simply be ‘so if you admit there are actual converts in this tribulation time, then it very much is possible, even thru your own interpretation, to have believers on the earth during this time’. So how then does God ‘spare them from his wrath’ while they are going thru all these difficulties? He does it by divine power. You see the believers thru out history going thru many times of ‘great tribulation’. You also see the lost world going thru many periods of ‘Gods wrath’. To the casual observer, these might look like the same thing. But to those going thru it, they know the difference. The simple fact that God has the ability to ‘keep those’ in Christ from his wrath is the answer. You don’t have to come up with all types of belief systems that say ‘Jesus secretly appeared between chapters 3 and 4 and the reason we know this is ….’ Why do stuff like this? There are very real and plain references to Jesus coming again in the book of Revelation. Don’t go and find some doctrine that comes from ‘silence’. That is ‘since the Spirit is no longer speaking directly to the churches after chapter 3, therefore Jesus came and took them all away’. Jesus is no longer speaking ‘to the churches’ because the main issue after chapter 3 is the outpoured wrath of God on an unbelieving world. We know he didn’t come and take all the believers away, because there are many verses dealing with his people being here, as well as very plain and open verses that say when he comes. So lets stick with the plain meaning first, and then you can try and ‘figure out who the 144,000 are’. Another note; I am really ‘delving’ into it for those who were taught his. At the end of the book of Revelation you do see ‘Jesus coming back with his saints’ and in the book of Thessalonians it says ‘don’t worry about those who have died, when Christ comes back, he will bring them also’. There was a very real 1st century fear that the loved ones who have died were gone. Paul deals with this in Thessalonians as well as Corinthians chapter 15. I know to us it seems silly for believers to have held to this fear, but the fact is it was something the Apostle Paul dealt with. So you see the New Testament speaking of ‘Christ coming back with the Saints’ as a hope of the resurrection. That is Jesus brings back [at the 2nd coming] the ‘spirits’ if you will, of all who have been with him for thousands of years. These will ‘reunite’ with their bodies at the Resurrection. Those who are living at this point will be instantly glorified [1st Thessalonians 4] so to read a verse that says ‘Jesus comes back with his saints’ shouldn’t cause you to think ‘well, how did all the saints get there? He must have secretly come back and taken them, there you have it’ well they got there BY DIEING! Jesus brings them back with him as was taught thru out the whole New Testament. Don’t go and develop some doctrine that believers didn’t ‘know about’ for 1800 years to explain this stuff. It’s simple if you just read and believe scripture as it is written. Also there is a real event at the second coming that ‘raptures’ believers into the air to meet with Christ. This event does happen. It happens at the second coming. So we too who are alive will be ‘caught up together with the Lord’. The return of Jesus back to earth takes place with all of the saints at the ‘touch down’ of Jesus feet on the planet. Truly he ‘comes back with all his saints’. Don’t go and develop a secret ‘second coming’ [rapture] that took every one away at another time. The ‘rapture’ takes place at the ‘second coming’ it is the event of us going up to meet him in the air at the moment of resurrection! NOTE; this also brings us back to the verses in Isaiah ‘not speaking your own words’. Many of the brothers who teach these things are well meaning gospel preachers. Good churches who lead people to Christ. Most of them are taught this stuff at bible school, or from well meaning ‘fathers of the faith’ that they looked up to. During these formative years they are told ‘this is what the Rapture is’ along with all sorts of other learning. They don’t have time to spend years ‘un learning’ this stuff. They mean well. Often times they only question it as they leave the learning environment of college and become long term students of the bible and history. A lot of times when we put ‘preachers out into the work’ they come with these pre conceived ideas that they learned along the way. The problem is if people are teaching things that ‘are the words of men’ [to put it nicely!] then they are ‘speaking their own words’. While every teacher is susceptible to this, we do it at an alarming rate in today’s media world. It’s so easy to catch a preacher teaching this on TV, or to read a Tim Lahaye book on the end times. I see some of this as a result of the Protestant churches ‘coming out from all historical truth, the fathers of the ancient church’ and going with the ‘bible only’. Now going with the ‘bible only’ is a good thing. I have used the bible to show you in this whole entry why the Rapture as taught today holds no ground. But the strong independent protestants truncate themselves from the heritage of all the saints [All the great church fathers, down thru the present time] and leave themselves open to having too much influence from a small part of the Christian church. In my experience I found it ‘amusing’ how the Fundamental Baptists were so much like the Assembly of God in all of these doctrines, and yet the fundamental Baptists viewed them as heretics over the gift of tongues. They couldn’t see that they had so much in common, even the wrong stuff on the Rapture! So it would do us all good to sit back, read the writings of church history, study the bible, pray, DO EVANGELISM [the great commission was to go and make disciples, not even get into all this stuff!] and over time allow the Spirit of God to lead you. You will find that you as a believer can disagree on these end time issues and still work together for the cause Of Christ in your community.

(554) I just got back from some fellowship with one of my homeless friends. He was studying some end time scenarios and discussing the book of revelation. He is very knowledgeable. I tried to steer the conversation more towards the spiritual signs of the end times versus the geopolitical signs. I shared how Jesus will come back for a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle. So an important sign is the condition of the church, the true temple of God. To look at the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem as a major hinge event of Christ’s return, and to the many different end time scenarios as what must happen and when, this gets us off of the main themes taught by Jesus in Matthew. Jesus teaching on the end time is much more basic than these elaborate scenarios. Jesus actually says that after the tribulation of those days that the sign of the coming of the Son of man will be seen. He also says that after the tribulation one will be taken and another left. Pretty plain. I realize that the brothers who hold to the more elaborate themes see that Jesus will take away believers before the tribulation. I know all the explanations of this [I think!] but I shared with my friend that if you simply picked up the bible and read that after the tribulation of those days Jesus will come back and some will be taken and others left, that you would see that Jesus will return and take people after the tribulation. To then develop all types of ‘secret’ comings, to view the verses where the Lord says to John ‘come up hither’ in revelation, and then to say ‘this is where Jesus secretly catches away believers’ is to complicate the simple eschatology of Jesus. My friend was discussing a lot of the other ideas of the end times, I tried to focus him on the fact that Jesus wants us to grow in him, evangelize the world, and not get sidetracked into trying to figure out all types of national scenarios of global proportions. My friend did say that Jesus said the gospel will be preached in all the world before the end comes. I agreed and shared with him that Jesus told us that when the church is loving each other the way he taught [full maturity] then all nations will know that we are his. In essence we got back to the ‘sign’ of the church being mature and being the holy temple that God desires when he returns. My friend saw the point. NOTE; During the conversation I mentioned how we sometimes get locked into certain viewpoints that can lead to ‘seeing’ a possible reference of Jesus and saying ‘this is anti-christ’. I mentioned how many modern preachers see the verse on the rider on a white horse who is going forth to conquer and freely say ‘this is anti christ’ [Revelation 6- Zechariah chapter 6 actually calls these horses the 4 spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of the earth, hardly a picture of anti christ!] You will see images of Jesus being on a white horse later in revelation, and also one of the reasons people have seen this first reference as ‘anti christ’ is because of the plagues and judgments that follow this rider. I shared with my friend how in Revelation the seals and bowls and other images of judgment are the judgments of God, not satan. So it would not be inconsistent to see Jesus on a white horse prior to the release of judgments, as a matter of fact this is one of the main themes of Revelation. My friend almost saw this idea as heresy. He told me how he too views the rider as anti christ, and how because this rider has a bow [a pagan symbol from Rome] that he is anti-christ. I briefly quoted off the top of my head a few scriptures where God uses a bow in prophetic imagery ‘I will bend Judah like a bow’ ‘children are like arrows in the hand of a mighty man’. I didn’t want to argue with my friend, I just tried to show him how we can be so sure of certain ways of seeing things that we never even give a second thought to interpreting a possible Jesus verse as ‘anti-christ’. This is the problem with a lot of these drawn out end time ‘prophecy charts’ they have way too many dogmatic scenarios that seem to lose sight of Jesus! Revelation says the testimony of Jesus is the spirit [intent] of prophecy. All prophecy should ultimately testify of Christ, not anti christ!

(555) I mentioned the other day how one morning I woke up and thought I heard the Lord telling me to subscribe to a few Christian magazines, and then later in the day I found a Charisma magazine in my p.o. box, well a friend also just gave me a year old Christianity today magazine that someone had given him. I read some articles, I was happy to see the amount of deep Christian books, put out by well respected theologians, on the view of church that I espouse. There were a lot of articles on the church as a natural organic community of people as opposed to the institutional thing. Many thoughts and ideas I have taught. They were coming from brilliant minds. I felt this to be a confirmation to a lot of the things I have taught. So in the past few weeks I saw the Lord confirm many of the things I have been speaking over the years, and it was confirmation that I didn’t expect or seek for. Why is this important? We all need to be encouraged and affirmed in the message we speak. In the previous entry, why is it so hard for intelligent Christians, who really know the word, to see obvious ‘Jesus’ verse’s and see them as ‘anti chirst’. Because we have been taught certain views of religious things and we hold to these views ‘religiously’. When someone comes along and says you need to re examine your views, it hurts! Old Testament prophets were rejected on these grounds. God will often confirm to you a ‘new way’ of seeing things thru the mouths of 2 or more witnesses. I think when I woke up the other day and heard the Lord say ‘get Christian magazines’ that what he was really telling me was he would confirm to me that we were on track thru the witness of 2 Christian magazines. I didn’t look for them; they just ‘accidentally’ found their way into my hands. NOTE; I just looked up the chapters in revelation that deal with the riders on white horses. In chapter 6 you see the rider on the white horse that some say is anti chirst. I think it is Christ. In chapter 5 you see Jesus as the one who has power to open the book that releases judgments on the earth. He is the one opening the judgments in chapter 6. In chapter 19 you see Jesus coming back on a white horse going forth to judge and make war. Some say the verse in chapter 6 can’t be Jesus [hey, you only have 2 mentions of riders on white horse’s in Revelation. In both references war and judgment are seen to be tied in with the rider] because war and judgment come right after. That is exactly why it just might be Jesus! NOTE; I see this thinking as being indicative to the way we truncate Jesus and his prophetic role in judgment and magnify the doctrine of anti chirst. In revelation [the book!] you are not seeing anti christ as someone going forth to conquer, you are seeing the righteous judgments of God and the vindication of Christ’s Kingdom in the earth. The ‘judgment’ of the beast and satan are things coming down upon them, not them going forth to conquer. It is this overall view of prophecy that permeates modern evangelicalism, it has a tendency to see prophecy thru the lens of the anti christ and the beast. It unintentionally ‘exalts’ the work of the enemy. If we follow the guideline given in the book of Revelation itself, that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit [intent] of prophecy, then when you come upon verses of judgment being released after the appearing of a rider on a white horse, your initial reaction isn’t to see this rider as anti christ, but as Christ, the one whom prophecy points too! NOTE; Might as well run with this a little more. Scholarship has shown us that one of the earliest new testament books written was Thessalonians. That’s interesting, why would the lord inspire this book before the others? Because it dealt with a major threat to the early church that was imminent. Paul knew there were to be extreme persecutions coming to the early church. He would write the early believers and warn them of demonized leaders who would attack God’s people. Many believe the early writings of anti christ refer to early Roman Emperors [Nero and others]. Now if this is true, and Paul was warning the church of future persecutions that were on the horizon, then it only makes sense that this letter would be written early on, before the persecutions got into full swing. I mention this because another field of teaching goes into elaborate schemes of what will happen in the rebuilding of the temple in the last days. While it is possible that there will be a rebuilding, it is not necessary! You can argue about all the technical details surrounding the scriptures that speak of the destruction and desecration of the temple. You have had multiple times in history where these things happened. Some believe that the later references [like in Thessalonians!] refer to events surrounding the destruction in a.d. 70 under Titus. Now we didn’t always know for sure that Thessalonians was written before a.d. 70 and that would eliminate the references as referring to the a.d. 70 date. But now we are sure that Thessalonians was written before that date, around a.d. 50. So without being dogmatic, I wanted to put some context to the debate. You do not need the revived Roman empire to fulfill things in prophecy if the 1st Roman empire already fulfilled it! So let’s get some balance and knowledge to go along with all our end time scenarios. We might be looking for things that already happened [like the destruction of the temple]. NOTE; It is still possible that a temple will be built in Jerusalem, I just want you to see that there were immediate concerns that Paul was addressing to the readers of his letters. Warning the Christians in Corinthians about marrying, maybe it had something to do with the Lord revealing to him the upcoming persecutions of believers. Paul might have been saying ‘for the present time, don’t get married, we have lots of persecution coming ahead’. The point is we need to understand the real significance that the early epistles had to the hearers of the letters. We can not allow our belief in the inspiration of scripture [which I hold to!] to bypass the practical aspects of the letters that were being written. The recipients had to have had some practical application to what was being written. So any letters referencing the destruction of the temple, or future leaders who would destroy Gods people and desecrate the temple, these references must be seen in the context of the times. If Paul prophesied a coming desecration of the temple, and he said it a few years prior to it’s destruction, then you must question whether or not this is what he was referring to. Jesus early on prophesied the destruction, it is only natural for the Apostles to have held to this belief as an early tradition of the church. It was quite obvious that the destruction that Jesus spoke about happened in a.d 70, it is very possible that this was the same event Paul was speaking of. Don’t always read these letters as future dates, they were future at the time of writing, but a few thousand years have gone by, some of the ‘future’ things might have now past! NOTE; It’s funny, but some of these brothers believe that Jesus comes back in Revelation 4 secretly and takes away half the planet [the church] they seem to find this ‘taking away’ from the verse that says to John ‘come up hither’. They also see a possible verse describing Jesus on a white horse and call him ‘the antichrist’ and these same dear brothers think I am the heretic![they ‘see’ him where he is not. They see Jesus coming and taking away a large population of earth from a verse that simply says ‘come up hither’ to John. They then have a very plain verse of a conquering rider on a white horse and say ‘this cant be Jesus because he has a bow instead of a sword’ this reasoning is crazy!] God does have a sense of humor. Also in the book of revelation you have prophetic imagery. The beast and the dragon and the lamb. Revelation uses extreme figures to clearly show forth either the righteousness [white horse] or the judgment [pale horse] of things. John is seeing things in stark images. To then translate the rider on the white horse in a way that is ‘secretive’ [i.e.; satan appearing as an angel of light] would be going against the main flow of the images in revelation. This prophetic book clearly uses symbols in stark contrast. Though the book itself has many ‘tricky’ symbols, the symbols themselves are not hidden, but obvious. Like the ‘great whore’ and stuff like that. I want to stress that the brothers who believe these silly interpretations are very smart. In the above example they will have all types of deep reasons why a certain image means a certain thing. Deep studies into the possible rise of the Roman Empire and things. While I personally do not see their views as correct, they have done lots of research and background work in espousing their views. How than can intelligent people overlook some of the plain stuff I just showed you? It’s because we have a tendency to go down certain paths in our thinking, and once we go down these paths it never dawns on us to take a breath before you so adamantly describe the rider on the white horse ‘oh, he is the anti christ’. All of us need to lay our knowledge and past influences at the foot of the Cross. I am not saying leave your brain at the door! But we need to approach scripture with a broad view of Gods overall purpose. If you see revelation from the context of Kingdoms being in conflict, and you view Johns prophetic writings as the Spirit showing us that the Kingdom of God will face fierce resistance from the kingdoms of men, then you will be looking for images of Jesus conquering in the face of fierce opposition. You will also see the church going thru great trials throughout the centuries. You will see God vindicating his people, and even honoring the prayers of his martyrs. You will see the empire that John was living in at the time as one of the most severe threats to the fledgling church [Rome and the early centuries]. This will help in the overall view of the book, seeing it in the light of the way it was written. This style of literature was called ‘apocalyptic’ in the early church. There were ways to see this type of writing. I am not saying that revelation isn’t inspired, but see it in context of the larger picture. John shows the Kingdom of God ultimately triumphing over the kingdoms of men at the end of the age. We know that these figures are still in the future, but much of the imagery of Rome [the city on 7 hills] and its war against the saints had fulfillment during the early centuries. It had real meaning to the church then, as it does to us today. Why resurrect the Roman Empire as well as all the other images in order to fit our day. The book was meant for all the church. So our brother’s who lived 2000 years ago had stuff about them and their struggles, as well as the future hopes contained in it for us. The book is a wonderful prophetic vision given to encourage the people of God thru out the ages. The message is the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God over the kingdoms of men. We see a victorious Jesus leading a white robed [righteous] army of saints in certain victory. Don’t read the book looking for 666 and stuff, I know it’s in there, but the purpose of the book is to testify of Jesus conquering Kingdom, not the anti Christ.

(393) I felt like the Lord wanted me to share some things, I do not ‘feel’ like doing this at all. These last few days have been real difficult for me. This is an example of ‘doing what God says despite your feelings’. I want to speak on the Kingdom of God. The Christian church has had various ways to ‘see’ the Kingdom of God. For many centuries [19 of them to be exact!] the church for the most part taught ‘amillennialism’ a type of view that saw the work of the Cross as the significant event that ‘triggered’ Gods Kingdom. In effect believers saw the fact that Jesus died and was resurrected to be seated at Gods right hand as Gods Kingdom already being in effect thru this event. The giving of the Spirit to the church was Gods ‘program’ of expanding the Kingdom in the earth thru the growth of Christianity down thru the centuries. Some who held to this view [which for the most part I agree with] also ‘spiritualized’ all the verses of God dealing with Israel and the event of the second coming in a way that denied the literal return of Jesus to David’s throne. During the 20th century you had the rise of ‘fundamentalism’ and dispensational theology that saw the truth of the real second coming and Jesus actual return to Israel to be seated on David’s throne [John R Rice and other fundamentalist preachers brought out much truth in these areas. These brothers would come to be seen as ‘premelliannial’ in the sense that Jesus must first return and take David’s throne in Jerusalem before the ‘millennial’ rule of Christ can come] The divisions between these ways of seeing Christ return are strong. Some from the latter camp began to hold to a view of the Kingdom that said ‘man cannot bring Gods rule in, only Jesus. Therefore until he comes back all the church can do is win souls’. The other camp said ‘ we are here as Christians to initiate Gods rule. We are salt and light and therefore we have Christ’s Spirit in us to bring Gods rule in’. Both of these groups have truth. The fundamentalist for the most part rejected the reality of God initiating his rule thru Christ the King who is already seated at Gods right hand [the position of rule] and is working thru his subjects [the church] right now. In reality man cant change the world, but the church thru the present ministry of Jesus at Gods right hand does have the ‘ability’ thru Gods Spirit to bring in Gods rule. The idea that the second coming is the ‘event’ that God will use to bring about world change denies the reality of Christ’s rule right now. The American president is the president right now. He has certain abilities to effect change by this fact. He is ‘seated’ in the nations capital, you might never actually see him in person, but the fact of his authority is a real thing. The fact that Jesus rose from the grave and is seated at Gods right hand is the event that gave us the authority to affect the world thru the church. This is Gods idea, not mans. It is also true that Jesus will come back and literally return to Jerusalem. But the seat of authority that he now holds at Gods right hand is much greater than David’s throne. There are actually scriptures that show that Jesus has already ‘inherited’ the throne of David by virtue of the fact that he ‘sits on top of the mountain that trumps all other thrones’. The dispensational brothers will look to the world wars and other major events and say ‘see, this is proof that man cant change the world. Until Jesus comes back things will get worse’. The Bible says those in darkness will continue to get worse, those in the light will get brighter and brighter. The Idea is as Gods ‘citizenship’ increases [thru evangelism] more people become children of light. So even though the world is getting darker, the church isn’t. The more people who become ‘members’ of the church will become ‘brighter’. This obviously will affect the world for good. So man in and of himself cant bring in ‘Gods rule’ but the fact that Jesus is presently reigning [though you don’t physically see him] is where the real power of ‘world change’ is located. So for people like myself, I would answer the strong dispensationalist with this fact. Now to the Parables of Jesus. The strong dispensationalists have a ‘strange’ way they interpret some of the Parables. The one on ‘the kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven that someone took and hid in 3 measures of meal until the whole loaf was leavened’ this Parable, as well as many others show the concept of Gods kingdom invading the planet in a small way at the start [Jesus and the 12] and eventually effecting all the earth. The dispensationalist teach that Leaven is always a sign of something unclean and because the ‘law of first things’ [the first time a certain theme is used in scripture will define it for the rest of scripture] that therefore the leaven here is wickedness, and that the Kingdom of Heaven is different than the Kingdom of God [they are the same by the way!] that what Jesus is actually teaching is that wickedness will eventually invade all of the ‘church world’ [which they say is the Kingdom of heaven-silly]and therefore when Jesus returns he will fix everything. To me this would be a failure of what Jesus is trying to do. He left all authority on earth to the disciples by saying ‘go into all the world’ after he said ‘all authority is given to me’. He commissioned the church to ‘invade the world’. If the evil in the world wins until Christ’s return that would basically be a big failure on the part of the church, which represents Christ Kingdom now! The first century religious mind had a view of religion that was based on Old Testament ideas. In the Old Testament, if a Priest who was ceremonially clean, touched something unclean, then the priest would become defiled. The ‘transmission’ of holiness to unholy things didn’t work. But the ‘transmission’ of unclean things to holy things did! This is why the Pharisees had such a hard time with Jesus ‘contact’ with sinners and prostitutes. The Pharisees saw the ‘church’ as an institutional fortress ‘flee into Gods community and be separate from society’. Now the New Testament gives a mandate for believers to ‘come out from the world’ but this is speaking about not partaking of the sins of the world while being salt and light in the world. Jesus instituted a type of Priesthood that transmitted ‘holiness to unclean things’. A better priesthood [Hebrews]. Scripture says ‘light came into the world and the darkness couldn’t overcome it’ [John] So in Jesus rule you find the ‘Priests’ [all believers] having Christ’s Spirit in them for the purpose of affecting the world with righteousness. Now the church has too often grasped a mindset like the Pharisees. You see this in the strong conservative elements of Christianity ‘the moral majority’ ‘the center for moral clarity’ and all these other silly institutions. These guys mean well, but they are dividing society into ‘sides’ that has the gay lobby and others fighting against the ‘moral crusaders’. In essence this is a return to the ‘Pharisee mindset’. But there is also a movement in American Christianity [by the way we are only a small part of world Christianity!] that is appealing to the other side of the political spectrum Sort of like liberal ‘yuppie’ type Christians who might vote democrat or republican. They don’t hold to the ‘religious right’ persona. They are concerned with environmental issues and stuff [they might even still go to rock concerts, amen!]. I see this movement as great. God can recruit from all sides of the political spectrum. This is Gods ‘leaven’ affecting the whole lump. [By the way, leaven can represent something that starts small and invades everything. Sin can be described this way, or Gods Kingdom. Leaven is simply a ‘material’ that God can use in symbol any way he wants. Just cause it was used for an ‘unclean thing’ doesn’t mean Jesus cant ‘re use’ it for a clean thing. This actually can be a sign in and of itself. Jesus took a natural thing that was ‘sinful’ in scripture [man/leaven] and turned it around into something clean!] Basically what I am trying to get across today is Gods kingdom was not ‘postponed’ in its entirety. Certain aspects of its ‘revealing’ in regard to natural Israel are ‘hidden’ right now. At the second coming all Israel will see that Jesus has been ruling and reigning for thousands of years already. He will appear to natural Israel some day, but remember its not always the way we think!

(611) JOHN 14- Jesus says he is going away to prepare a place for us. He tells the disciples they know where he is going and how to get there. Thomas says ‘we have no idea where you are going, how can we know the way’. Jesus wasn’t talking ‘location’ as much as communion with the Trinity. He was saying I am going to THE FATHER and you now know the Father, because I have revealed him to you. You have seen me, you have seen him. Also, the way to the father is thru the Son, so you not only know where I am going [Father] but the way [Son]. Now I get it! You can take this 2 ways [not three!] you can look at it as Jesus speaking of the sending of the Spirit as his ‘coming again’, in verse 18 he does say this. He says ‘I will come to you’ and he is speaking of the Spirits coming. Thru this chapter the comforter is one just like him. Also you can read this as the literal second coming. We believe Jesus will come again! Some have said this chapter is speaking of something else besides these 2 options, they think this ‘coming’ is the rapture. A separate event from the 2nd coming. I don’t see how you can believe it this way. Also in this chapter Jesus is showing the intent of redemption. He didn’t just come to take us to heaven. In chapter 17 we will read that he prays to the father for us not to be taken out of the world, but to keep us from the evil in it. Thomas seems to be thinking ‘location and how to get there’ when he says ‘we have no idea where you are going, how can you think we know how to get there’? But Jesus is really speaking the language of fellowship in the Trinity/Unity that he has with the father and the Spirit. He is telling Thomas ‘my purpose is to bring you into this oneness that I have with the father, to invite you to partake in this fellowship’ in essence ‘I am not talking about getting you to a location [heaven] in as much as bringing you into a state of being with me and my father’ true ‘HOLY COMMUNION’! You do see this concept thru out the chapter. The disciples seem to be struggling ‘how will you come back and reveal yourself to us and not to the world’ Jesus says ‘if a man loves me he will keep my words, the Spirit will then come and indwell him and we will all have community together’ [Father, Son, Spirit and all believers]. They are grappling with these ideas. They were like us, always thinking in terms of being saved to go to heaven when we die. Now, I thank God for this benefit. I am very happy that I am not going to Hell! Don’t underestimate this blessing. But Jesus is speaking on a much higher plane. He even says ‘the words I am speaking are not mine, but the Fathers’. A few practical things. Jesus says when I leave you will do greater works because I am leaving and the Spirit will come and indwell you. The ‘non Charismatics’ say this is evangelism. Jesus will give us the Spirit and we will evangelize on a mass scale, greater works. The Charismatics say this is doing more miracles, raising the dead and healing the sick and casting out devils. Who is right? Take them all! Just be sure and bring people into the Kingdom. The gifts are not for you to get famous or gain a following, they are for the purpose of evangelism and expanding the Kingdom. In this chapter we see Jesus great promises of peace and his dwelling with us forever. The promise of the Spirit showing us the things of the father. We are invited into this wonderful communion with him. Let’s allow the work of the Spirit to use us to bring others into this community. The 2 great commandments Jesus gives us is to love God and others. The ‘others’ speaks of his desire to bring people into this community. NOTE; on the radio when I spoke on this entry I mentioned some stuff on the historic creeds and the language that the early church used to define the Trinity. In the world today the 3 main religions are Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Islam and Judaism claim to be Monotheistic. Christians also claim this, but Islam and Judaism don’t agree. The reason for this is in the way the historic church came to define the Trinity. There have been Jewish converts to Christianity who accept Jesus as Messiah but do not accept the classic language of the Trinity. The verse that says ‘the Lord our God is one’ is a main text for both Muslims and Jews in their understanding of Gods oneness. Some of the Trinitarian language has been an obstacle to Muslims and Jews converting. Now, like I said before, I do believe in the Trinity. But if you notice the language that Jesus will use in our study in John, it seems more in line with ‘Unity’ then ‘Trinity’. The truth of the Trinity is there, but the explanations that Jesus gives sound better than the way the creeds say it. One of the creeds says Jesus was begotten eternally. That there was never a time where he was begotten. He was always ‘begotten’. They came to this language by trying to defend Christ’s deity. The problem is scripture teaches us that there was a definite point in time when Jesus ‘was begotten’. The fact that Jesus existed always with the father is different from saying ‘he was always born as a man’ which is what begotten refers to. So to be honest about it, the language in this creed is an obstacle. In my recent conversations with my Muslim friend I stood strong for the deity of Christ and God becoming man thru the incarnation, but I also tried to use the actual language of scripture when explaining it. This is going to be important for the future of the church as she tries to bring both Muslims and Jews into the church. We don’t want to compromise on the historic truths of Christianity, but we also want to express our belief in Monotheism in ways that are in keeping with scripture. Also when I say ‘into the church’ I mean bringing them to God thru Christ, not into some ‘culture of Christianity’ that the world sees as ‘church’. NOTE; I also spoke on the second coming and Preterism. Preterism is a way of interpreting the Second coming as having happened in A.D. 70. This belief arose out of a well intentioned answer to the critics of Christianity. Some critics have brought out the idea that the early church were all expecting an imminent return of Jesus, that they took the obvious scriptures that speak of Jesus coming quickly and stuff like that and were let down when Jesus did not come for the first few centuries. So some scholars developed the idea that Jesus did come in ‘judgment’ and fulfilled all the verses of the second coming in A.D. 70. Others have taught how the early church had to later adjust it’s theology around the ‘obvious’ mistaken teachings of Jesus. Some of these guys are believers, but they fall into the liberal camp. My belief is Jesus will literally come again. A Protestant scholar actually made an argument for the ‘literalness’ of Jesus return thru the Catholic teaching on Transubstantiation. He defended our Catholic brother’s ideas on the Real Presence in the Eucharist. He said the church has been faithful to the literal return of Jesus and his immediate presence by the reality of Jesus being present in Communion. Good effort, but a little too much spiritualizing for me. I believe the best argument that can be made, if you were going to go down this road, would be this chapter. Jesus says he will come again and also says the comforter will be the fulfillment of this coming. Now, I also believe in the future literal return of Jesus, because later on in the New testament you see Paul teaching a future return after the initial outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. I was watching an end time teacher using the verse where Jesus spoke on the destruction of the Temple and he was applying it to a future Temple. He was wrong. I also believe the Preterists are wrong. I believe the rapture as a separate event from the second coming is ‘extra biblical’. But in all of our seeking for truth, I don’t throw out the historic belief of Christ’s return. I believe the best way to explain the supposed delay of his return is to look at the character of God. The New Testament says the longsuffering of God is because he wants to bring as many people into the church as possible. That which seems to be a delay is really mercy. No need to try and find ways to explain this to the critics, Jesus is delaying his return for their benefit!

(107) When I spoke a few weeks ago on not being able to attend college, I want to clarify my thoughts on higher education. I believe one of the problems with ‘fundamentalism’ [some types of evangelical preachers] is the lack of a well-balanced education. It’s good to get a university level of education if you can. In the last century there was a movement in the Christian church that was called ‘higher criticism’. Many of the scholars that were influenced by the previous stage of the enlightenment [from Europe] taught a type of bible interpretation that denied many [or all] the supernatural stories in the bible, even the resurrection! As a result many American universities were inundated with a type of teaching that ‘old fashioned’ preachers thought was apostasy [some of it was, but not all of it!]. The American ‘fundamentalists’ reacted by simply saying ‘we believe the bible literally’. The problem with some of the literalists, was they lacked a balanced historical understanding of the times and life of the early church. They seemed to have no time to become educated on the historical aspects of Christianity. So ‘literalism’ said ‘if the bible says it’s going to happen, then it is going to happen’. Not realizing [because of a lack of education] that certain things already happened. One example of this is the present preoccupation with the ‘antichrist’ and the prevailing hobby of trying to find out who he is. Is he alive today? A lot of speculation on a person that the first century church believed to be fulfilled in the emperor Nero. Without teaching this whole subject, the early church taught and understood that there would be a person who would be a great persecutor of Christians. He would even kill those who would not ‘worship his image and bow down to him’ those who would not ‘receive his number 666 couldn’t survive’. The Roman Empire of the 1st century allowed for religious expression. There form of Government actually ‘deified’ their Caesars. You could believe in other Gods [Pantheism] as long as you bowed the knee to its emperors. Well obviously Paul and other early writers could see the writing on the wall. Early Christians were not to sware allegiance to any other ‘god’ but Jesus Christ! As the early church progressed, the apostles understood that there would eventually be a ‘Caesar’ that would demand allegiance to himself. Those who wouldn’t ‘bow’ and say ‘Caesar is Lord’ would eventually be killed. Polycarp and other early Christian leaders met their fate this way. Nero was the worst. He blamed catastrophes and other events [arson!] on the Christians, though its believed that he himself was the arsonist! Nero’s name, along with his title of ‘Caesar’ does spell out to the numerical value of ‘666’. It just made sense for the early church to have believed him to have been the antichrist! There are many other debates on this subject, and I do leave room for the possibility for the ‘antichrist’ to be a future person, but I doubt it. Also during the reformation of the 16th century, many of the reformers [Luther and others] saw the ‘antichrist’ as the pope. The book of revelation speaks of Rome and both a political and religious ‘Babylon’ as coming against the saints. It was easy for the reformers to ‘see’ the marriage of the Catholic Church with the governments of men as the culprit [The Holy Roman empire and stuff like that]. But again this view doesn’t seem to take into account that Rome of the 1st century was religious, and that wasn’t speaking about Catholics! So I believe a basic understanding of world history, along with a literal interpretation of the bible go hand in hand. Those who despise education [calling the seminary the ‘cemetery’] seem to lack this balance.

(108) Let me also say that the current popular ‘end times’ teaching that you see and hear in much of American Evangelicalism sprouted thru the fundamentalist reaction to higher criticism. In the 1800’s there were certain Christian groups in England [the Brethren and others] that took hold of ‘Dispensationalism’. The ‘Rapture’ doctrine and other scenarios of bible interpretation sprung up out of these movements. When the American fundamentalists used the ‘Bible Conference’ as a tool to counteract the higher criticism being taught in the universities, Dispensationalism sort of tagged along. It became common to think ‘defending the historic faith’ meant defending ‘Dispensational theology’. This was a major mistake. The ‘Historic faith’ did not teach certain elements of dispensationalism [Rapture]. So today you find many American Christians who are all too willing to embrace certain end time scenarios [Tim Lahye stuff!] thinking there ‘defending the bible’ not realizing that some of the things there defending are not in the bible! [At least not in the way that they see it]. When you fail to read scripture thru an historical paradigm you fall into the danger of trying to fit current geopolitical events into certain Old Testament prophets, and this is dangerous. You would never want to do world politics with a view of Israel and other nations [Russia- Gog and Magog] as a type of ‘newspaper prophecy’ that speaks to every current world scenario. One of the fears of certain believers is the fact that President Bush [current President as of this writing] holds to a view like this. I remember certain ‘end time preachers’ disclosing the fact that the Bush administration contacted them early on about certain end time things. I am real uncomfortable about this. Many of these end time preachers do not realize that many of these scenarios concerning Israel and other nations have played out time and again over the last few thousand years. To take these Old Testament prophets and think that they are all speaking about current affairs is misguided!

(219) Let me give a small example of Gods truth versus an exasperated clergy. One small area of truth that we deal with is the second coming. We teach the historical majority view. There is only ONE second coming spoken about in the New Testament. The scriptures commonly used to teach the ‘rapture’ as a different event are really talking about the 2nd coming. Now this one area [not to mention all the other stuff!] is enough to make us permanent enemies to some renown preachers in this area. Some churches call us heretics for this alone! I know this and really don’t care to be honest. It’s funny, because all the railing that they would do against us in this one area is wasted time. God’s truth is Gods truth. No matter how much time is wasted defending a so-called ‘fundamental’ of the faith, it’s wasted time for the defenders if they are defending something that is basically wrong. It’s hard for preachers to admit their wrong in any area. I know this is true with me too. I just find it funny that those who go to great lengths to defend a thing will eventually find out the truth. No big deal, just make sure your spending your time and energy on stuff that will make a real difference. Don’t waste it on stuff that’s fake!

(420) ‘Avoiding extreme forms of isolation’ my background with the Fundamental Baptist church allowed me to see how pride and sectarianism affect true corporate unity. There was always a sense of mockery when it came to any type of unity. It was truly deemed ‘part of the one world church that the antichrist is setting up’. Regardless of your views on this, the simple fact is Jesus prayed in John 17 that all believers would be one. If you were to study the New Testament from Matthew to Revelation and were looking for all the times where scripture speaks of ‘one Kingdom’ and ‘unity’ you will see that Gods purpose for this ‘one Kingdom under God/Christ’ and the unity of the church would far out number the times compared to the ‘one world church’ idea. Now there are a few instances where scripture speaks of the unity of lost men and how lost man does come up with religious ways to appease his conscience [tower of Babel]. But the overall truth is God speaks of ‘one Kingdom’ in a right way many more times. So this preoccupation with these isolated Christian groups is simply a sign of extreme immaturity. I remember stopping one time at some highway shop to purchase some lawn ornaments. I talked to the brother who was selling the stuff. I noticed he was listening to cassette tapes of some Old Testament book [Leviticus?]. We fellowshipped a little while. I kind of got the sense that he was one of these brothers who will spend hours listening to bible tapes, but would never partake of anything the Lord is presently doing in the church. Many of these groups wont even study church history or any other Christian writings. This causes there to be a total lack of understanding on how Gods Kingdom has been operating for the past 2 thousand years. Jesus never intended the doctrine of the completed cannon to cause us to not partake of all the great things God has been doing in society for the past 2 thousand years. Well I felt the Lord wanted us to be challenged to come out of our religious shells. Don’t be so consumed with the ‘one world church’ that you never partake of Gods ‘one world Church’!

REVELATION- [just some brief stuff on the book, to give you an idea on how this book should be seen]

(960)MATT 24:36-39 what in the world does ‘as it were in the days of Noah’ mean? Let’s go on a rabbit trail today. The other day I took my daughter to the Laundromat [our dryer broke!] and had some ‘down time’ to kill. So I grabbed a few news papers and sat in the truck while listening to Christian radio. I heard an old time brother who has broadcast on the station I am on for years. They are good Christians, from the ‘tribe’ of dispensationalism. The fundamentalist ‘King James only’ type. They taught a little on the verse above. I also recently saw a TV evangelist [may there tribe decrease] deal with the verse. The TV brother, who by the way also had the same type of fundamentalist background, taught his own spin on the verse. He said ‘just like in Noah’s day, you had aliens/fallen angels visit the earth and cohabitate with women, so Jesus taught that near the end time there would be an increase in u.f.o. sightings’ [ouch!] The radio brothers have taught that just like Noah entered into the ark, so the church would be raptured before Christ comes, because Jesus said ‘just like the days of Noah’. If you read the passage [Matt. 24:36-39] Jesus plainly tells you what he means. He is not talking about aliens or ‘raptures’ he is simply warning the people about the suddenness of the coming judgment day. Jesus is saying ‘just like in Noah’s day, the people were marrying and partying and living it up, right until the day when Noah entered the ark, and then the flood came and caught them off guard. So shall it be in the day when the son of man returns’. Basically Jesus is saying the people of Noah’s day didn’t give heed to the warnings of Noah, they probably looked at him as some nut! But their lethargy and sinful state put them in a position that caught them off guard. Sure enough the judgment that Noah warned about did come. So Jesus is warning people not to be caught off guard like the people of Noah’s day. Now, why would preachers take these types of verses and teach aliens and raptures? For the most part this branch of Christianity means well, there are times where I have learned interesting facts and stuff from them. But there is an approach to scripture that says ‘because Gods word [King James] is perfect [true] therefore we can find all these hidden meanings that are not in the original context’. Is this what the historical doctrine of verbal inspiration teaches? Not in a million years. The reformers taught that scripture still needed to be seen thru the historic churches understanding. They did teach that all believers had the right to expect God to speak to them thru his word, but they did not teach the type of private interpretation as seen above. To the contrary you had other radicals who were reading the book of Revelation [or more commonly known as ‘the Revelations’] and began seeing themselves as the end time witnesses who were to establish the New Jerusalem on the earth. They would mount a violent rebellion and get killed! These groups were straying outside of the magisterial reformers ideas on scripture. Though it seemed silly to hear some of the recent preaching on Noah’s day, these types of ideas can become dangerous if they lead us away from the actual meaning of Gods word. Even though these brothers highly value the doctrine of verbal inspiration [their view of it] they do a disservice to Christian learning when thy do stuff like this.

(768)ACTS 28- After the shipwreck they wind up on an island called Melita. Paul meets the barbarous people and they welcome him. During a bon fire type thing, Paul is collecting wood and a poisonous snake bites him. The people think ‘surely this man is a murderer and ‘vengeance’ got him!’ Notice the fact that moral/natural law was imbedded in the consciences of these savage like people. Where in the world did they come up with such an idea of right and wrong and justice? The atheists say ‘well, all people simply come up with some type of code to live by. This is really not proof for moral law’. The Christian answers ‘so how come you never find some isolated tribe who rewards murder and punishes goodness’! Now, I realize there are distant tribes who practice violent stuff. The point is in all of these societies, there is a basic right and wrong that is honored. If the tribe is violent, they still don’t reward the cowardly killing of one of their own kids! These savages had the built in conscience of moral law that Paul teaches in Romans. Now after Paul doesn’t get sick or die from the bite, they ‘change their minds’ and say he is a god! People are fickle. Paul heals the father of the chief of the island, a small healing revival breaks out. Paul demonstrates the power of the gospel in word and deed. Even today, in many 3rd world countries you see healings and miraculous signs along with the preaching of the gospel. They launch off and land in a few more spots and finally make it to Rome! Paul calls the Jewish leaders and makes his familiar defense. He lists the accusations against him and defends himself. He thought the whole Jewish world knew about the gossip! The leaders tell him ‘we haven’t heard any stuff about you, but tell us more about this sect’. Leaders, don’t make the mistake of defending yourself over personal stuff from the pulpit! Often time’s people don’t now what you are talking about. Paul does set up a day and teaches the Jews in Rome from morning till evening showing them all the scriptures that testify of Jesus in the Law of Moses and the prophets. He ‘testified of the Kingdom of God and Christ’ [they go hand in hand!] Some Jews believe, others don’t. Paul then quotes the most quoted verse from the Old Testament in the New Testament ‘Isaiah was right about you! Having eyes you can’t see, ears you can’t hear…’ Luke ends the chapter [and book] with Paul living 2 years in a rented room and preaching the kingdom of God to all who will listen. Paul finished his days infecting the capitol city of the empire with the gospel! Church history tells us that Paul [and Peter] were martyred under Nero’s persecution. John [the apostle] writes about the beast making war against the saints and killing them. No wonder why the early church called Nero ‘the beast’. Paul writes one of his best letters to the Roman saints and the church will forever have an ‘eternal witness’ in the city of Rome. Paul got his wish.

(670) MORE ON REVELATION- Yesterday I spoke with a believer in New Jersey. They had some questions about a famous radio preacher in the area. He is famous for predicting second coming dates. They have passed and he has missed it. Well what do you know, he has come up with another one! I used to really correct him a lot to this person. He holds to end time stuff that I disagree with. He is also ‘Calvinist’ in his belief, and teaches that all the ‘churches’ are deceived and God is calling true believers out of them! As hard as I have been on the ‘local church’ concept, I couldn’t disagree more with the guy! So in the discussion I told the person, first. John wrote the book of Revelation under present persecution from the Roman government. It is the beginning of a few hundred years of unbelievable persecution. Rome would actually kill believers because they would not say ‘Caesar is Lord’. They were not against ‘the Christian God’, they believed in many gods. They had the Pantheon! But they would not permit this new religion to pledge allegiance ONLY to their God. So John is actually giving images of Rome and her leaders in Revelation. Rome would be THE NUMBER ONE threat to the fledgling church of Jesus. She will ‘kill those who do not worship the beast or bow down to its image’. Now over the last 2 thousand years, if you take a broad look at the scene. You will see the first 3 centuries to be the worst in Roman persecution. You will read John writing that ‘the city on 7 hills’ is the one who is guilty. There are actual historic records referring to Rome as ‘the city on 7 hills’. You can read in history how Nero was nicknamed ‘the beast’ and other images that clearly speak of Rome as the persecutor. Now, which Rome is it? The Rome of Protestantism who saw the Catholic Church as ‘Babylon’? Or the restored Rome of the modern day prophecy preachers? Well all evidence points to the ‘Rome’ spoken of by John as the Rome of his day. There has never been official executions of believers for their confession of Jesus on the scale of the Rome of Johns day. Why look for her in some other day? No need. The point I was trying to make to my friend was don’t be limited in your understanding of scripture. When a preacher starts predicting dates for Jesus return, that is a warning right there! The friend explained how the first ‘date’ he set was explained like ‘something really did happen that day [1994?] but it was hidden’. I told them this is the exact mistake the Millenarian movements made in the last 2 centuries. The ‘Millerites’ were founded by William Miller. A well meaning preacher who was a former game warden who got a hold of dispensational theology. He had a tremendous ‘knack’ for memorizing scripture. He would gather his followers together on more than one occasion to stand on a hillside in white robes and wait for Jesus. When the first date didn’t work, they would come up with a ‘secret’ thing that happened on the day. And then set another date! The Jehovah witnesses and the 7th day Adventists would follow this idea. The point was the setting of dates, and then later saying ‘something really did happen, but it wasn’t what we thought’ is a popular hobby with end time brothers. Now, will Jesus actually return some day? Yes. But we don’t know when. Don’t try to figure out all the details. Don’t re make Rome and the temple and all the hundreds of actual things that have taken place at multiple times over the years. If your scenarios demand a re doing of all these events, then check your facts. The Pharisees could not see how Jesus was already the fulfillment of many prophecies. The thing that blinded them was their intricate interpretations of specific prophecies. They came to hold dogmatic views that were idols in their minds. They tried to make Jesus fit the way they had believed for years. He plainly rebuked them for their narrow ideas ‘you know where the Messiah will come from’ he will shout at one time, responding to their narrow interpretation of prophecy. We need to hear the whole counsel of God. Keep an open mind. I think the Apostle John would be stumped as to how, after all the slayings and killings of believers that took place under the ‘beasts’ of Rome. And how history tells us there was never a time of such religious persecution as this time. That we are still looking for a ‘revived Rome’ to fulfill these things. Why look for her, it is plain to find her in the annals of history!

(470) I just went into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee [decaf now!] and caught an interview with a well known Christian leader. He was asked ‘what is your favorite city in all the world’ [they were in Jerusalem] and he said ‘of course Jerusalem, isn’t that the favorite city of all Christians?’ Let me show you how I would have answered; ‘my favorite city is what Paul described in Galatians as the ‘New Jerusalem’ John also calls her ‘the City that comes down from God out of heaven’ [Revelation] he then says this city is ‘the Bride, the lambs wife’. John also records in the gospel he wrote, chapter 3 ‘He that is born from above’. All this imagery speaks of the Body of Christ being Gods favorite city. This includes all nationalities who believe. Jews, Palestinians, Arabs [I didn’t say Muslims] and every other ethnic group on the face of the earth. For a Christian leader to pick any human city [govt.] and to make that the ‘all time favorite city’ is being ‘unequal’. Does natural Jerusalem ever kill Christians? All natural govts have executed people falsely, whether they meant it or not. Does natural Jerusalem ever persecute innocent people? All human govts, no matter how well intended have done this. Than brother, who is righteous in your eyes? The city that comes down from God out of heaven, she is the FAVORITE city, the apple of Gods eye.

(504) I was watching a preacher the other day teaching on end time things. He is very dogmatic in his view. The Rapture and all. I thought it funny, because as he got to the part where he was teaching on the ‘4 horseman of Revelation’ he flatly says ‘the rider on the white horse is the anti-christ’. I know this view fairly well. I was taught it as a new Christian. The last few times I have read Revelation I lean more towards this rider being Christ who is conquering against the forces of evil. Some say ‘well, we know this isn’t Christ, because after him come the other 3 horses which represent death and destruction and bad stuff’. The point I will make is in Revelation your are seeing ‘the wrath of God’ it is Gods judgment on the unbelieving world. It would seem fitting for Christ to appear at the beginning of these judgments, after all ‘all judgment has been committed to the Son’. I really have no idea why I am even getting into this, I haven’t read Revelation in a while. I just thought it funny, how someone can be so sure of his end time scenario, where he might actually be calling a reference to Christ ‘the anti-christ’.[a bit prophetic, don’t you think? Revelation is about the story of the Son of God triumphing over the forces of evil, but those who hold to the strong antichrist view, it just seems fitting for them to mistake ‘Christ’ for ‘antichrist’, if this is all you see when you read the book, then that’s what you will SEE!] NOTE; Let me overview a little bit more. The above interpretation of the rider on the white horse being ‘antichrist’ grows out of an entire ‘scheme’ of end time events that was developed in the 19th and 20th centuries. These were good men [John Nelson Darby] who came to embrace certain views of end time things [Rapture]. To these brothers they see the Church [believers] ‘taken away’ in the first few chapters of Revelation. They say ‘Jesus is speaking to the churches by his Spirit, then you have no more ‘churches’ being spoken to’. God tells John to ‘come up here’ [heaven] and they see this as the ‘secret Rapture’ where the church is taken away. The reason they see it like this is in Revelation you see Gods wrath on those that ‘dwell on the earth’ and therefore believers can’t be here! Even though you will find actual references of the Devil fighting the Saints. Making war against those who ‘keep the Word of God’ and all sorts of references of the enemy fighting believers thru out the book. The ‘Rapture’ brothers will say ‘these groups are those who got saved after the church left’ well, if they are saved, they are ‘in the church’ technically speaking. So it is possible [very likely too me!] that ‘Christians’ are on the planet when these hard times take place. They also will say ‘these references to those who keep the Word of God’ are to certain Jews who are converted [again all new testament language to ‘the Israel of God’ and things like this are speaking of those who have come to know God by faith, even Jews] so the fact that thru out the rest of the book you find language like this, tells me the ‘church’ didn’t get secretly taken away. And then most importantly, you find CLEAR verses actually speaking of Jesus coming, in PLAIN LANGUAGE, and these verses are looked at as ‘the final stage of the second coming’ or other verses referencing Christ [like the rider on the white horse] being called ‘anit christ’. To me all these brothers ‘suffer from’ a mistake that they warn others about making. That is ‘interpret the plain meaning of scripture first, before going to lengths to develop doctrines from that which isn’t plainly in the text’. If God has ANY PEOPLE ON THE EARTH WHO ARE CALLED ‘SAINTS’ THOSE WHO KEEP THE WORD OF GOD and any other references like this, then plainly these references show that Christians are on the planet during this time. The Rapture guys will so much as accept this, but then they come up with all sorts of different categories for these ‘converts’ who are ‘saved’ during the tribulation. My argument would simply be ‘so if you admit there are actual converts in this tribulation time, then it very much is possible, even thru your own interpretation, to have believers on the earth during this time’. So how then does God ‘spare them from his wrath’ while they are going thru all these difficulties? He does it by divine power. You see the believers thru out history going thru many times of ‘great tribulation’. You also see the lost world going thru many periods of ‘Gods wrath’. To the casual observer, these might look like the same thing. But to those going thru it, they know the difference. The simple fact that God has the ability to ‘keep those’ in Christ from his wrath is the answer. You don’t have to come up with all types of belief systems that say ‘Jesus secretly appeared between chapters 3 and 4 and the reason we know this is ….’ Why do stuff like this? There are very real and plain references to Jesus coming again in the book of Revelation. Don’t go and find some doctrine that comes from ‘silence’. That is ‘since the Spirit is no longer speaking directly to the churches after chapter 3, therefore Jesus came and took them all away’. Jesus is no longer speaking ‘to the churches’ because the main issue after chapter 3 is the outpoured wrath of God on an unbelieving world. We know he didn’t come and take all the believers away, because there are many verses dealing with his people being here, as well as very plain and open verses that say when he comes. So lets stick with the plain meaning first, and then you can try and ‘figure out who the 144,000 are’. Another note; I am really ‘delving’ into it for those who were taught his. At the end of the book of Revelation you do see ‘Jesus coming back with his saints’ and in the book of Thessalonians it says ‘don’t worry about those who have died, when Christ comes back, he will bring them also’. There was a very real 1st century fear that the loved ones who have died were gone. Paul deals with this in Thessalonians as well as Corinthians chapter 15. I know to us it seems silly for believers to have held to this fear, but the fact is it was something the Apostle Paul dealt with. So you see the New Testament speaking of ‘Christ coming back with the Saints’ as a hope of the resurrection. That is Jesus brings back [at the 2nd coming] the ‘spirits’ if you will, of all who have been with him for thousands of years. These will ‘reunite’ with their bodies at the Resurrection. Those who are living at this point will be instantly glorified [1st Thessalonians 4] so to read a verse that says ‘Jesus comes back with his saints’ shouldn’t cause you to think ‘well, how did all the saints get there? He must have secretly come back and taken them, there you have it’ well they got there BY DIEING! Jesus brings them back with him as was taught thru out the whole New Testament. Don’t go and develop some doctrine that believers didn’t ‘know about’ for 1800 years to explain this stuff. It’s simple if you just read and believe scripture as it is written. Also there is a real event at the second coming that ‘raptures’ believers into the air to meet with Christ. This event does happen. It happens at the second coming. So we too who are alive will be ‘caught up together with the Lord’. The return of Jesus back to earth takes place with all of the saints at the ‘touch down’ of Jesus feet on the planet. Truly he ‘comes back with all his saints’. Don’t go and develop a secret ‘second coming’ [rapture] that took every one away at another time. The ‘rapture’ takes place at the ‘second coming’ it is the event of us going up to meet him in the air at the moment of resurrection! NOTE; this also brings us back to the verses in Isaiah ‘not speaking your own words’. Many of the brothers who teach these things are well meaning gospel preachers. Good churches who lead people to Christ. Most of them are taught this stuff at bible school, or from well meaning ‘fathers of the faith’ that they looked up to. During these formative years they are told ‘this is what the Rapture is’ along with all sorts of other learning. They don’t have time to spend years ‘un learning’ this stuff. They mean well. Often times they only question it as they leave the learning environment of college and become long term students of the bible and history. A lot of times when we put ‘preachers out into the work’ they come with these pre conceived ideas that they learned along the way. The problem is if people are teaching things that ‘are the words of men’ [to put it nicely!] then they are ‘speaking their own words’. While every teacher is susceptible to this, we do it at an alarming rate in today’s media world. It’s so easy to catch a preacher teaching this on TV, or to read a Tim Lahaye book on the end times. I see some of this as a result of the Protestant churches ‘coming out from all historical truth, the fathers of the ancient church’ and going with the ‘bible only’. Now going with the ‘bible only’ is a good thing. I have used the bible to show you in this whole entry why the Rapture as taught today holds no ground. But the strong independent protestants truncate themselves from the heritage of all the saints [All the great church fathers, down thru the present time] and leave themselves open to having too much influence from a small part of the Christian church. In my experience I found it ‘amusing’ how the Fundamental Baptists were so much like the Assembly of God in all of these doctrines, and yet the fundamental Baptists viewed them as heretics over the gift of tongues. They couldn’t see that they had so much in common, even the wrong stuff on the Rapture! So it would do us all good to sit back, read the writings of church history, study the bible, pray, DO EVANGELISM [the great commission was to go and make disciples, not even get into all this stuff!] and over time allow the Spirit of God to lead you. You will find that you as a believer can disagree on these end time issues and still work together for the cause Of Christ in your community.

(507) Woke up this morning after a very difficult day, I knew it was going to be hard to pray. I then sat down and wrote for around 2 hours straight! I went back to some older entries and added a bunch of stuff. Was my day hard because of not being able to walk well, or feeling ‘stoned’ 24/7? No, not really. If that’s all I had to deal with, I would have been happy. Why am I sharing this? Because as I sat down to write I covered things that I had no idea I was going to write about, to be honest it feels like a prophetic function. Many times as I made radio messages, I had no idea I was going to say the stuff I said. I will later review the tapes and see things that I didn’t even know I knew! So Paul tells Timothy ‘Preach the word, be instant in season and out of season. Reprove, rebuke and exhort with all longsuffering [ouch- maybe in the Greek it really means ‘short suffering’?] and doctrine. For in doing this YOU WILL SAVE YOURSELF, AND THOSE WHO HEAR YOU’. There is a prophetic function that causes both the hearers and the speakers to ‘receive salvation’ as a result. Paul said ‘woe is me if I preach not the gospel’ Paul knew that he would actually be ‘cursing himself’ if he didn’t preach, or communicate the Word of the Lord. Jeremiah said ‘I determined not to speak anymore in the name of the Lord’ but then there was this ‘fire in his bones’. God said ‘I put this thing in you, if you don’t let this fire out, it will consume you’. It says in Revelation ‘fire proceeds out of their mouths and consumes their adversaries’ ‘we overcame him [enemy] by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony’. God makes deposits into prophetic people [all of us are prophetic!] these deposits are like ‘fire inside you’ it is meant to ‘devour the enemy’. If you don’t let it out it can ‘burn you from the inside out!’

(539) Isaiah 66 ‘Thus saith the lord, the heaven is my throne and the earth my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest’ Here we begin to see the transition that will take place in 1st century Rome. These descriptions from Isaiah are prophetic of Gods offer to Israel. Isaiah is saying ‘where is the temple that you can build for me to dwell in’? I do not want a man made temple any more. I am done with all animal sacrifices [we read that next!] God will end the prophetic message of Isaiah with his intent to transfer from an earthly natural temple, to a heavenly spiritual one, the Body of Christ! God will show his displeasure with all animal sacrifices, not just certain ones. For Isaiah to claim to be speaking for God, and to say these things seems blasphemous to Israel at this time. You must see that Isaiah is coming against all the ceremony and system that God instituted. To say these things was to put himself in the same category of Paul who the Jews will accuse of trying to destroy the law and Temple worship. But Paul was saying this post Christ, Isaiah was saying it before the Cross. How could Isaiah get away with this while the law was still in effect? The Spirit of prophecy sees and functions in future realities. When God opens up the future to a prophet, he simply speaks what he is seeing. It is Gods prerogative to proclaim his disapproval of the old system in anticipation of the new one that was to come. ‘For all those things hath mine hand made, but to this man will I look, to him that is of a poor and contrite spirit’ God says ‘I will not dwell in the temples of men, but in those who are humble and contrite’. Jesus said unless we humble ourselves and become as little children, we will not enter Gods kingdom. Here we see the ‘stones’ that the new temple will be made of, humble contrite people. ‘He that killeth an ox is like he slew a man, he that sacraficeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dogs neck, he that offers an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood [and you guys think I am harsh!] and he that burneth incense as if he blessed an idol’ In essence Isaiah is saying the same as the book of Hebrews. You must see that in the mind of God, all animal sacrifice, after the Cross[which Isaiah is seeing thru prophecy, he is speaking ‘post Cross prophetically’] is an insult and an abomination. I am going to start a commentary on Hebrews as soon as I finish Isaiah, I want to put the book in proper perspective. When the writer of Hebrews says ‘those who continue to sin after they were enlightened, that God will not allow them to renew their repentance’ it is not speaking of believers, as commonly taught. But it is telling Israel ‘if you reject Messiah, and think you can keep bringing me all these sacrifices of repentance, I won’t accept them anymore. You cant be ‘renewed again unto repentance, you have done despite to the Spirit of Grace and have trampled under foot the sacrifice of God’ The reason the language is so strong here, is because God is saying when you continue to sacrifice animals after the once and for all sacrifice of my Son, then you are doing disgrace to Grace. For Isaiah to being saying this, pre Cross, is amazing! ‘Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out FOR MY NAMES SAKE said, let the Lord be glorified, but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed’ the brethren of Jesus cast him out for what they thought was Gods will. The rejection of Messiah was seen to be an act of Israel’s orthodox belief. They truly thought they were doing the will of God. Jesus even said a time was coming when people would kill believers thinking they were doing Gods service. But in the end God appeared to Jesus joy and they were ashamed. ‘A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple’ Gods ‘city’ and ‘temple’ are the people of God. God has a voice that comes forth out of the temple. Rivers flow from this temple. Jesus said he who believes, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. God speaks thru his church. Some have attempted to ‘de gender’ God. They will say that God is both male and female. This is not so. God is definitively male. Then where is the feminine voice? It comes from what the Spirit is saying thru the bride, the Lambs wife. God has purposed to speak this way. So you have both the male and female sides seen. Paul said that the Jerusalem which is above is the mother of us all. The ‘Jerusalem from above’ is the church, the city of God. Scripture says listen to the voice of your mother and your father. We are to hear what God says [Father] and our mother, the corporate voice of the Spirit that has spoken thru the church, the mother of us all. ‘Before she travailed she brought forth, before her pain came she was delivered of a man child, who hath heard such a thing? For as soon as Zion travailed she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the birth and not cause to bring forth?’ God is saying there is a process to the things he wants to birth from you. Part of the process is travailing, it is the severe pain experienced at the end of pregnancy. We often equate that pain the wrong way. We think ‘well, things are so hard here at the end, I want to quit and go home’ God is saying don’t quit, you are about to give birth. Don’t misread the labor pains; it is a culmination of the long months of waiting. I determined to bring you to this point of extreme pain, it is my process. Don’t abort! ‘Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, be glad all ye that love her’ It is vital for us to enter into joy. Jesus said after the woman gives birth, she forgets all the pain she went thru, because of the joy of bringing forth the child. Begin rejoicing in God, he will do great things. Scripture says ‘when the Lord turned the captivity of Zion, it was like a dream’ God is going to so move on your behalf that you will think it is too good to be true! ‘I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the gentiles like a flowing stream’ Jesus said ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth give I unto you, let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid’ You have the inner ability to ‘not let your heart be troubled’ the world runs to doctors and drugs, we run to God. ‘As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you, and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem’ God comforts us ‘in Jerusalem’. In the book of Galatians the Body of Christ is called ‘the New Jerusalem, the Church, the mother of us all’ in the book of Revelation John says ‘the city that comes down from God out of heaven, the New Jerusalem, is the bride, the Lambs wife’ God says we are comforted in community. John also says [in 1st John] ‘when WE walk in the light, WE have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses US from all sin’ God works in community, as well as with individuals. Some times we as believers go to one extreme or another. Soren Kierkegaard, the great 19th century Philosopher/Theologian wrote as a Prophet against what he saw as the abuses of the institutional church. The Danish state church had a lot of formality and ‘spectator’ Christianity. Kierkegaard emphasized Gods desire to reveal himself to people individually, outside of ‘the church’. He would say things like ‘the congregations are totally useless, there is nothing good to be found there’ and then he would say you can only truly serve God outside of ‘the church’. Well God does see all of us ‘as the church’ and he works thru individuals as well as ‘groups of people’. God wants to ‘attach’ you to people for his purpose and destiny. You need to ‘walk in the light’ with other believers, so God can ‘comfort you in Jerusalem’ the corporate city of God. ‘For I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations… to the Isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither seen my glory, and they shall declare my name among the gentiles’ sound familiar? This sounds just like the day of Pentecost, in Acts. God gathered all types of people groups to Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Spirit, and these nations/people groups went back to their own areas and spread the gospel. God sends those ‘who escape’, out to be evangelists. Many times you will ‘go thru hell’ and barley escape with your life, but the reason God let you escape was for the purpose of sending you out to other places and people. Don’t make bargains with God and not keep them! How many times have people said ‘God, if you get me out of this one I sware to do this or that’ are you out? Then do what you said! [note: in the New testament Jesus and James taught to not even make these types of vows, so I am not advocating doing this, but the point is many of us have, so if you did do it, now fulfill what you promised God you would do!] ‘For as the new heavens and the new earth shall remain before me, so shall your seed and name remain… and all flesh shall come to worship me.. and they shall go forth and look upon the bodies of those who transgressed against me, for their worm dieth not, neither shall the fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh’ I want to end our study of these last 15 or so chapters of Isaiah with a brief overview. God tells us ‘I am going to make all things new’ God has a real future eternal hope for all those who are in Christ. We need to reaffirm the truth that heaven is real! As well as a ‘new earth’ that he will make new some day. God also affirms thru the Prophet that hell is real! Theologians, even good ones, have differing views on hell. I like R.C. Sproul, he is one of my favorite theologians, he believes the references to ‘hell fire’ are symbolic, but he states ‘the real punishment will be worse than real fire’ the reason I wanted to add the above verses on ‘the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched’ is because Jesus himself uses this terminology when describing eternal punishment, the ‘worm dieth not’ indicates that there will be a real physical judgment that lasts forever! God doesn’t want ANYBODY to go there. How many will go? I don’t know, but this I do know, we as believers have the only hope in the world to keep people from going there, his name is Jesus Christ. I exhort all of you to begin doing all you can to reap in a huge harvest of souls for God, we can’t bring our cars and houses and money and stocks and all these other things with us, but we can bring people! Gather up as many of them as you can, so you will have some friends and family when you get to the other side.

(554) I just got back from some fellowship with one of my homeless friends. He was studying some end time scenarios and discussing the book of revelation. He is very knowledgeable. I tried to steer the conversation more towards the spiritual signs of the end times versus the geopolitical signs. I shared how Jesus will come back for a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle. So an important sign is the condition of the church, the true temple of God. To look at the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem as a major hinge event of Christ’s return, and to the many different end time scenarios as what must happen and when, this gets us off of the main themes taught by Jesus in Matthew. Jesus teaching on the end time is much more basic than these elaborate scenarios. Jesus actually says that after the tribulation of those days that the sign of the coming of the Son of man will be seen. He also says that after the tribulation one will be taken and another left. Pretty plain. I realize that the brothers who hold to the more elaborate themes see that Jesus will take away believers before the tribulation. I know all the explanations of this [I think!] but I shared with my friend that if you simply picked up the bible and read that after the tribulation of those days Jesus will come back and some will be taken and others left, that you would see that Jesus will return and take people after the tribulation. To then develop all types of ‘secret’ comings, to view the verses where the Lord says to John ‘come up hither’ in revelation, and then to say ‘this is where Jesus secretly catches away believers’ is to complicate the simple eschatology of Jesus. My friend was discussing a lot of the other ideas of the end times, I tried to focus him on the fact that Jesus wants us to grow in him, evangelize the world, and not get sidetracked into trying to figure out all types of national scenarios of global proportions. My friend did say that Jesus said the gospel will be preached in all the world before the end comes. I agreed and shared with him that Jesus told us that when the church is loving each other the way he taught [full maturity] then all nations will know that we are his. In essence we got back to the ‘sign’ of the church being mature and being the holy temple that God desires when he returns. My friend saw the point. NOTE; During the conversation I mentioned how we sometimes get locked into certain viewpoints that can lead to ‘seeing’ a possible reference of Jesus and saying ‘this is anti-christ’. I mentioned how many modern preachers see the verse on the rider on a white horse who is going forth to conquer and freely say ‘this is anti christ’ [Revelation 6- Zechariah chapter 6 actually calls these horses the 4 spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of the earth, hardly a picture of anti christ!] You will see images of Jesus being on a white horse later in revelation, and also one of the reasons people have seen this first reference as ‘anti christ’ is because of the plagues and judgments that follow this rider. I shared with my friend how in Revelation the seals and bowls and other images of judgment are the judgments of God, not satan. So it would not be inconsistent to see Jesus on a white horse prior to the release of judgments, as a matter of fact this is one of the main themes of Revelation. My friend almost saw this idea as heresy. He told me how he too views the rider as anti christ, and how because this rider has a bow [a pagan symbol from Rome] that he is anti-christ. I briefly quoted off the top of my head a few scriptures where God uses a bow in prophetic imagery ‘I will bend Judah like a bow’ ‘children are like arrows in the hand of a mighty man’. I didn’t want to argue with my friend, I just tried to show him how we can be so sure of certain ways of seeing things that we never even give a second thought to interpreting a possible Jesus verse as ‘anti-christ’. This is the problem with a lot of these drawn out end time ‘prophecy charts’ they have way too many dogmatic scenarios that seem to loose sight of Jesus! Revelation says the testimony of Jesus is the spirit [intent] of prophecy. All prophecy should ultimately testify of Christ, not anti christ!

(555) I mentioned the other day how one morning I woke up and thought I heard the Lord telling me to subscribe to a few Christian magazines, and then later in the day I found a Charisma magazine in my p.o. box, well a friend also just gave me a year old Christianity today magazine that someone had given him. I read some articles, I was happy to see the amount of deep Christian books, put out by well respected theologians, on the view of church that I espouse. There were a lot of articles on the church as a natural organic community of people as opposed to the institutional thing. Many thoughts and ideas I have taught. They were coming from brilliant minds. I felt this to be a confirmation to a lot of the things I have taught. So in the past few weeks I saw the Lord confirm many of the things I have been speaking over the years, and it was confirmation that I didn’t expect or seek for. Why is this important? We all need to be encouraged and affirmed in the message we speak. In the previous entry, why is it so hard for intelligent Christians, who really know the word, to see obvious ‘Jesus’ verse’s and see them as ‘anti chirst’. Because we have been taught certain views of religious things and we hold to these views ‘religiously’. When someone comes along and says you need to re examine your views, it hurts! Old Testament prophets were rejected on these grounds. God will often confirm to you a ‘new way’ of seeing things thru the mouths of 2 or more witnesses. I think when I woke up the other day and heard the Lord say ‘get Christian magazines’ that what he was really telling me was he would confirm to me that we were on track thru the witness of 2 Christian magazines. I didn’t look for them; they just ‘accidentally’ found their way into my hands. NOTE; I just looked up the chapters in revelation that deal with the riders on white horses. In chapter 6 you see the rider on the white horse that some say is anti chirst. I think it is Christ. In chapter 5 you see Jesus as the one who has power to open the book that releases judgments on the earth. He is the one opening the judgments in chapter 6. In chapter 19 you see Jesus coming back on a white horse going forth to judge and make war. Some say the verse in chapter 6 can’t be Jesus [hey, you only have 2 mentions of riders on white horse’s in Revelation. In both references war and judgment are seen to be tied in with the rider] because war and judgment come right after. That is exactly why it just might be Jesus! NOTE; I see this thinking as being indicative to the way we truncate Jesus and his prophetic role in judgment and magnify the doctrine of anti chirst. In revelation [the book!] you are not seeing anti christ as someone going forth to conquer, you are seeing the righteous judgments of God and the vindication of Christ’s Kingdom in the earth. The ‘judgment’ of the beast and satan are things coming down upon them, not them going forth to conquer. It is this overall view of prophecy that permeates modern evangelicalism, it has a tendency to see prophecy thru the lens of the anti christ and the beast. It unintentionally ‘exalts’ the work of the enemy. If we follow the guideline given in the book of Revelation itself, that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit [intent] of prophecy, then when you come upon verses of judgment being released after the appearing of a rider on a white horse, your initial reaction isn’t to see this rider as anti christ, but as Christ, the one whom prophecy points too! NOTE; Might as well run with this a little more. Scholarship has shown us that one of the earliest new testament books written was Thessalonians. That’s interesting, why would the lord inspire this book before the others? Because it dealt with a major threat to the early church that was imminent. Paul knew there were to be extreme persecutions coming to the early church. He would write the early believers and warn them of demonized leaders who would attack God’s people. Many believe the early writings of anti christ refer to early Roman Emperors [Nero and others]. Now if this is true, and Paul was warning the church of future persecutions that were on the horizon, then it only makes sense that this letter would be written early on, before the persecutions got into full swing. I mention this because another field of teaching goes into elaborate schemes of what will happen in the rebuilding of the temple in the last days. While it is possible that there will be a rebuilding, it is not necessary! You can argue about all the technical details surrounding the scriptures that speak of the destruction and desecration of the temple. You have had multiple times in history where these things happened. Some believe that the later references [like in Thessalonians!] refer to events surrounding the destruction in a.d. 70 under Titus. Now we didn’t always know for sure that Thessalonians was written before a.d. 70 and that would eliminate the references as referring to the a.d. 70 date. But now we are sure that Thessalonians was written before that date, around a.d. 50. So without being dogmatic, I wanted to put some context to the debate. You do not need the revived Roman empire to fulfill things in prophecy if the 1st Roman empire already fulfilled it! So let’s get some balance and knowledge to go along with all our end time scenarios. We might be looking for things that already happened [like the destruction of the temple]. NOTE; It is still possible that a temple will be built in Jerusalem, I just want you to see that there were immediate concerns that Paul was addressing to the readers of his letters. Warning the Christians in Corinthians about marrying, maybe it had something to do with the Lord revealing to him the upcoming persecutions of believers. Paul might have been saying ‘for the present time, don’t get married, we have lots of persecution coming ahead’. The point is we need to understand the real significance that the early epistles had to the hearers of the letters. We can not allow our belief in the inspiration of scripture [which I hold to!] to bypass the practical aspects of the letters that were being written. The recipients had to have had some practical application to what was being written. So any letters referencing the destruction of the temple, or future leaders who would destroy Gods people and desecrate the temple, these references must be seen in the context of the times. If Paul prophesied a coming desecration of the temple, and he said it a few years prior to it’s destruction, then you must question whether or not this is what he was referring to. Jesus early on prophesied the destruction, it is only natural for the Apostles to have held to this belief as an early tradition of the church. It was quite obvious that the destruction that Jesus spoke about happened in a.d 70, it is very possible that this was the same event Paul was speaking of. Don’t always read these letters as future dates, they were future at the time of writing, but a few thousand years have gone by, some of the ‘future’ things might have now past! NOTE; It’s funny, but some of these brothers believe that Jesus comes back in Revelation 4 secretly and takes away half the planet [the church] they seem to find this ‘taking away’ from the verse that says to John ‘come up hither’. They also see a possible verse describing Jesus on a white horse and call him ‘the antichrist’ and these same dear brothers think I am the heretic![they ‘see’ him where he is not. They see Jesus coming and taking away a large population of earth from a verse that simply says ‘come up hither’ to John. They then have a very plain verse of a conquering rider on a white horse and say ‘this cant be Jesus because he has a bow instead of a sword’ this reasoning is crazy!] God does have a sense of humor. Also in the book of revelation you have prophetic imagery. The beast and the dragon and the lamb. Revelation uses extreme figures to clearly show forth either the righteousness [white horse] or the judgment [pale horse] of things. John is seeing things in stark images. To then translate the rider on the white horse in a way that is ‘secretive’ [i.e.; satan appearing as an angel of light] would be going against the main flow of the images in revelation. This prophetic book clearly uses symbols in stark contrast. Though the book itself has many ‘tricky’ symbols, the symbols themselves are not hidden, but obvious. Like the ‘great whore’ and stuff like that. I want to stress that the brothers who believe these silly interpretations are very smart. In the above example they will have all types of deep reasons why a certain image means a certain thing. Deep studies into the possible rise of the Roman Empire and things. While I personally do not see their views as correct, they have done lots of research and background work in espousing their views. How than can intelligent people overlook some of the plain stuff I just showed you? It’s because we have a tendency to go down certain paths in our thinking, and once we go down these paths it never dawns on us to take a breath before you so adamantly describe the rider on the white horse ‘oh, he is the anti christ’. All of us need to lay our knowledge and past influences at the foot of the Cross. I am not saying leave your brain at the door! But we need to approach scripture with a broad view of Gods overall purpose. If you see revelation from the context of Kingdoms being in conflict, and you view Johns prophetic writings as the Spirit showing us that the Kingdom of God will face fierce resistance from the kingdoms of men, then you will be looking for images of Jesus conquering in the face of fierce opposition. You will also see the church going thru great trials throughout the centuries. You will see God vindicating his people, and even honoring the prayers of his martyrs. You will see the empire that John was living in at the time as one of the most severe threats to the fledgling church [Rome and the early centuries]. This will help in the overall view of the book, seeing it in the light of the way it was written. This style of literature was called ‘apocalyptic’ in the early church. There were ways to see this type of writing. I am not saying that revelation isn’t inspired, but see it in context of the larger picture. John shows the Kingdom of God ultimately triumphing over the kingdoms of men at the end of the age. We know that these figures are still in the future, but much of the imagery of Rome [the city on 7 hills] and its war against the saints had fulfillment during the early centuries. It had real meaning to the church then, as it does to us today. Why resurrect the Roman Empire as well as all the other images in order to fit our day. The book was meant for all the church. So our brother’s who lived 2000 years ago had stuff about them and their struggles, as well as the future hopes contained in it for us. The book is a wonderful prophetic vision given to encourage the people of God thru out the ages. The message is the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God over the kingdoms of men. We see a victorious Jesus leading a white robed [righteous] army of saints in certain victory. Don’t read the book looking for 666 and stuff, I know it’s in there, but the purpose of the book is to testify of Jesus conquering Kingdom, not the anti Christ.

(556) Started reading Joshua. As God brings them into the land Joshua is like Jesus in Revelation, leading the people into a triumphant victory. In both books you see 2 spies [witnesses] you have the harlot Rahab getting judged [she is declared righteous, a Divine act of justification-Hebrews 11] and you have the great whore of Babylon getting judged in Revelation. You have the Old Testament Joshua which means Jesus in the New. As the children of Israel take Jericho they see how God is working supernaturally on their behalf. They then go to the next city, Ai, and only send in a few thousand troops. They loose around 36 men. Joshua overreacts to this loss and falls on his face. Tells God ‘why did you make us come over this Jordan, we could have stayed on the other side. When all our enemies hear about this they will surround us and kill us’. He has quite a pity party! It’s like God is looking down and telling Jesus ‘hey, I know I picked the boy, but who would have thought he was going to take it this bad!’ It’s funny, the Lord finally appears to him and says ‘get up, what are you doing on your face? You have encountered a problem, so deal with it’ God reveals to Joshua that one of his men has some of the goods hidden in his camp and that’s the sin that caused the defeat. They get the guy, make him confess, and everything is O.K. Not! They stone the brother to death and then to make sure he’s dead, they burn the guy! Ouch! I could just see one of our local gangs standing by thinking ‘and we thought our gang was bad’. The Lord deals with the sin and they regroup. I find it funny how Gods leaders all have a tendency to overreact to problems. I think it’s in our nature. Leaders have the ability to see farther than the rest of the community, they also come to more drastic conclusions when things go wrong. Elijah, Moses, etc… The Lords solution was ‘deal with the problem, do what you have to do, get up off of your face for heavens sake, and let’s get on with the program’. I don’t like these types of answers either. I wish the Lord would give me a special response like ‘son, I see the problem. Your right. I will rapture you and destroy all your enemies. And I will make all those people who talked about you feel bad that you aren’t around anymore. We’ll show them’ God doesn’t do this, he tells us ‘get off the ground and start moving’ are you moving forward yet?

(647) The past few weeks I have had an image of ‘unraveling scrolls’ while praying outside. Sort of like taking a scroll and holding one end while letting the tail stream in heaven. When the Lord gives me an image like this I try to stick with it as long as I feel necessary. I also started seeing the ‘scrolls’ as representative of 3 things. The radio outreach [tapes are like little ‘scrolls’ in a cassette case] the blog [I recently updated the site and ‘accidentally’ picked a format called ‘the scribe’] The 3rd ‘scroll’ was seen as the ‘people’ we relate to in the Kingdom. The ‘living epistles’ that the New Testament speaks of. So this morning I got up at 2 am, I really was hoping to avoid waking up like this, but it is becoming routine again. So instead of going right outside to pray I put on the devotional from GOD TV and joined with the prayer kids out of Kansas. The IHOP ministry of Mike Bickle. I prayed along with them for a few hours. Then a black brother interrupted to speak on some racial issues. I usually will try and stick with music when stuff like this happens, or just go and pray. Not that I don’t want to hear a black brother, but when in a prayer mode I find preaching to be disruptive. So I figure ‘what the heck, give it a minute’ the first verse he shares is from revelation 5 ‘The son of man is worthy to open the scrolls’ so I listened to him! Jesus has the authority to open the ‘book/scrolls’ he looses judgments in the earth. Sometimes we don’t fully see the purpose of these judgments. In Revelation he judges the earth with the sword from his mouth. Many people have ‘succumbed’ to this sword already! The Word of God is alive and powerful and sharper than any 2 edged sword. Many ‘have been slain’ by it. So the message dealt with the church and Islam and how these 2 will compete and have conflict. It was a good word, not the ‘militaristic’ stuff you see a lot on Christian TV. I felt the Lord was confirming and speaking to the things he has been showing me. The true battle is for the souls of men. Islam takes people captive. When you intercede you are both ‘judging the ruler of this world’ thru the implementing of the power of the Cross and continuing to be a living conduit thru whom Christ’s Spirit continues to conflict with the spirit of the world. And you are directly standing in the gap for lost humanity. Though we are not Jesus who opens the ‘book/scroll’ yet we are an extension of him in the earth [the body of Christ] and as his ambassadors we have the right to stand on the boundary line of heaven and earth and to open the scroll and read from the final chapter! We stand as both pilgrims and possessors [the earth is the Lords, not the devils! Though satan is called the god of the world [system of unrighteousness] yet God has redeemed this planet! Romans] as pilgrims we say ‘our treasure is not in the things of this world, we live for eternal rewards’. As children of God we say ‘behold, the kingdom of God has come near unto you’. God has given you and me a scroll to unravel during this journey, people need to hear and see what’s in it!

(668) I am really going to jump around today. Those of you who read this section in order have realized that I still have to finish our study on John’s gospel! I sidetracked and read Proverbs and wound up teaching highlights as an ‘aside’. So yesterday I woke up and felt the Lord wanted me to read Revelation 11. I have been praying for a few years now with a ‘rod’ [stick] in my hand as I walk in my yard [it’s dark so I don’t look too insane]. Let’s read Revelation 11 [by the way it IS NOT SPEAKING ABOUT ME!] ‘And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar and them that worship therein’. This last week I once again had a discussion with a brother who assumed all the language in the New Testament about the Temple was speaking of a future rebuilt one. Some language MIGHT possibly refer to one. But some referred to the ones in the past; some refer to the people of God as the holy Temple [Ephesians]. So God might be telling John that he will wield authority in ‘judging’ the church. That thru John’s prophetic ministry [the actual writing of this vision called ‘the book of Revelation’] he will wield a rod of purging and chastening. ‘But the court that is without the temple leave out’ John’s prophetic vision is specifically designed to ‘line up’ the people of God. The ‘court’ can represent all the gentile nations whom represent those outside of the church. In essence ‘prophesy into the church John, don’t judge the world! I have not come to condemn them; I have come to save them’. The church has gone thru this ‘moral outrage’ stage and has railed against lost man. People who feel they have no hope, who have tried to overcome their addictions and have failed. They then tried to justify them. Why? Because they want to be accepted, they want society to say ‘we affirm you’. Am I saying we should affirm them? No. But we have used the ‘rod’ to condemn them and God is saying ‘leave those in the courtyard alone’. ‘These will tread the holy city [people of God] 42 months’ God was revealing to John that there would be a set time where the world would ‘tread’ on the church. John is actually living at the beginning of the rule of a bunch of demonic Roman rulers who will ‘destroy the people of God’ for a season. We have also seen a season of mocking and outright laughter at the American church. Some of it was deserved. We have allowed our ‘immature’ spokesman to broadcast their images to society as a whole [thru Christian TV] and some of them truly don’t realize how silly they look. I know they don’t mean to look silly, but they have grasped hold of a temptation that Jesus warned against. He told us leadership in the church was not designed to function like ‘gentile leadership’ seeking fame and position. So the American church fell into it and the ‘gentile’s tread us under foot 42 months’. ‘And I will give power unto my 2 witnesses and they will prophesy’ many cults and well meaning believers have erred terribly in thinking their Pastor/Prophet was one of these guys! I have taken this 2 ways in the past. I have seen it as either Israel and the church [2 witnesses in society] or the 2 offices of Apostle and Prophet. The point is after the humiliation and defeat [both in Johns day under the emperors and in every other day] God restores a prophetic voice back into the church. Be assured this voice will not be seen or heard thru many of the mediums being used today to broadcast Christian stuff. ‘Clothed in sackcloth’ part of the price of prophetic ministry includes ‘being clothed in sackcloth’. There just seems to be a principle you find in the Prophets of scripture that at the same time they are prophesying, they are going thru hell! ‘If any man hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours them’ there is this funny dynamic with prophetic ministry. Their critics wind up getting ‘corrected’ by the words of the prophets! ‘And when they finish their testimony the beast makes war against them and kills them’ the reality is/was that there was a real price to pay for their prophetic ministry. I recently wrote on Martin Luther King, there is a real question on whether or not his ‘ministry’ would have took hold in the minds of the public if he were not killed for the cause. John will write thru out this book on the power of the blood of the saints being spilled! Their prayers are like incense to God! ‘And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of THE GREAT CITY WHICH SPIRITUALY IS CALLED SODOM AND EGYPT, WHERE ALSO OUR LORD WAS CRUCIFIED’ Wow, I wonder how well this would have gone over if John preached this at one of those ‘Christians defending Israel’ conventions! All kidding aside, John refused to exalt natural heritage at the expense of the Cross. It is important to see this language in a book that many American preachers use to exalt natural Israel. They will confuse all the imagery of the Ark and the Temple and stuff like this with natural Israel. They truly don’t see what I just showed you! The imagery in a prophetic book like Revelation is IMAGERY! Don’t accuse people of ‘not literally believing the book’ because they interpret this book the way it was meant to be seen. Even the ‘literalists’ will concede that the ‘sword proceeding out of Jesus mouth’ is the word of God. That the ‘lamb on the throne’ is not a real lamb. The one I like is ‘God puts his mark/name on his servants’ and you never see movies being made about Christians getting computer implants in their heads! [Or hands]. ‘And all the nations SAW their dead bodies and refused to bury them [public humiliation] and were so excited over the fall of the believers that they sent gifts to each other’ cant you just see this mindset in the church today. How the late night comedians mock us. They are overjoyed when the church falls openly. They don’t want to ‘bury the mistakes’. They still use Jimmy Swaggart as an example. Even though many of them have secretly been just as guilty as swaggart! ‘After 3 and a half days the Spirit of God entered into them and THEY STOOD ON THEIR FEET and fear fell on them who dwelt on the earth’. God will recover his testimony in the earth. An interesting thing is happening right now with our American political scene. The New York Times announced how the ‘religious right is dieing in influence’. But they don’t seem to realize that Christ’s testimony is not limited to the ‘religious right’. You see the Tony Campolo’s and the Jim Wallis’s are just as much ‘filled with Christ’s Spirit’ as the Chuck Colson’s. The secret to Jesus kingdom is it starts like leaven. It eventually invades all areas of society. Wont the Times be surprised when they see ‘the Spirit of life enter into them’ from both sides of the aisle! ‘And a great voice said to the 2 witnesses, come up hither’. Funny thing here. This is the exact wording that the rapture guys use in chapter 4 to say ‘Jesus took all the believers off the planet’. Well here God says to 2 prophets ‘come up hither’. According to this reasoning more believers left on this flight! ‘The Kingdoms of the world are become the Kingdom of our God and his Christ’ John is preparing the church for a few centuries of real persecution. He is reassuring them that they will ultimately win! ‘And the nations were angry, and the time of the dead to be judged. And rewards given to the prophets and to those who fear your name’ you have multiple times in Johns Revelation where he sums things up. One of the problems with popular interpretations of this book is they try to teach everything in a ‘Line’. Here John is simply summing up the judgment and nature of all that is to come. Man has been and will continue to be angry at God. The more proof rebellious man sees of the reality of God causes him to hate even more. The church is here to do her best to glorify God and bring people into his Kingdom. But make no mistake about it, the world and her rulers have at times done all they could do to fight against God. John is reminding the early church that the rulers who are setting them on fire and hanging their bodies like lamps along the road have their day coming! ‘And the temple of God was opened in heaven [not a man made Temple! God’s people are ‘the Temple/dwelling place of God’. Heaven is also called ‘the sanctuary’ in Hebrews!] And there was seen in his temple the Ark of his testament [The box with the commandments in them. Not Noah’s Ark- this is for the critics of my theory in entry # 662. Those who say ‘get the boat off the planet’! You will have to read the entry!] and there were lightnings and thunder and earthquakes and hail’. Johns Revelation is a great prophetic encouragement for the church in every generation. When John describes a ruler called ‘the beast’ and the number ‘666’. It is only natural for the early church to have seen this figure as Nero. His nickname was actually ‘the beast’. And one of the numerical spellings of his name and title came to ‘666’. Is it heresy to apply modern interpretations to these figures? No. But it is also ‘immature’ to read a prophetic vision like revelation without a basic understanding of how the church read it for 1900 years! This book has tremendous spiritual significance for all believers. To see it as an exact literal translation of geopolitical events of our time is not being ‘mature in our thinking’. NOTE; I wrote this entry yesterday morning. Later in the day I watched the world news with Katie Couric [to all my conservative friends, forgive me for committing the unpardonable sin!] Katie quoted, to the WORLD! ‘Jesus said, lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth’ and then did an expose on Kenneth Copeland ministries. To update you guys. I prophesied on this site that ‘no mountain will be able to stand against what God is doing. Not even Eagle mountain’. Eagle Mountain church is the name of the church Copeland founded. Then a few months back the U.S. Senate began investigating 6 Prosperity ministries. And last night the ‘world/secular’ media quotes Jesus words in rebuking the money gospel. I do not always agree with the ‘exposes’ of the media. I consider Kenneth Copeland a brother in the Lord. I believe he has been a victim of the enemy’s strategy to sidetrack the purpose of Christ’s Kingdom. The Lord only allows public humiliation/chastening [the bodies were lying in the street 3 and a half days! The above reference from Revelation] for his purpose. Don’t take lightly when the secular media quotes Jesus IN CONTEXT while critiquing a minister!

(669) PROVERBS- A few days ago I woke up and taught Revelation 11. One of the principle ideas of the chapter is ‘after the enemy makes war against you, AND overcomes you. The Spirit of life from God will fill you and you will stand up on your feet’. Whenever I teach a theme like this, it’s like asking for patience! Be assured stuff ‘hits the fan’ [dung- lets stay biblical!] So I just woke up and felt I heard the Lord say ‘If your strength fails in the day of adversity, your strength is small’ [Proverbs]. I then heard on the Christian music station a short testimony from a famous Christian counselor [Steve Arterburn]. He said when growing up his mom had a Christian background that taught temptation and failure will not affect you if you have faith. That true faith will basically safeguard you from bad stuff. I got the sense that he was talking about the Word of faith, Prosperity movement. He then said ‘but then when dad committed suicide’ it made her question her beliefs. And then he said ‘and when my brother died of aids’. I at this point said to myself ‘geez! I hope he doesn’t say ‘and then when the space satellite crashed into the house!’ I don’t want to make light of it, but it was getting weird! The point was he was showing that his mom allowed herself to view faith from an unbiblical standpoint. A few entries back I mentioned how the world news just did an expose on Kenneth Copeland. They quoted Jesus words ‘lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth’ and then showed all the expensive Planes that Brother Copeland has purchased with ministry money. A collection of very expensive Planes that fit more into the category of a collector/investor than a ministry thing. Brother Copeland is an experienced pilot and has a love for flying. I could see how he, thru his own belief system, could justify spending millions on stuff like this. Though Brother Copeland is not extravagant in other areas, it seems like the millions spent on a collection of ‘ministry planes’ from non profit giving is very questionable. The reason ‘churches’ get tax exempt status is for charitable outreach. The idea of meeting the needs of society. To use millions of tax free dollars like this is not right. Now, the verse we begun with. Adversity will come to every believer at one time or another. Jesus told Peter ‘satan hath desired to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for thee that thy FAITH FAIL NOT. And when you are converted, strengthen thy brethren’. I was thinking the other day how King David could have been so much more successful if it weren’t for the ‘Bathsheba thing’. Or Abraham, what a man of faith! O, except for when he faked that his wife was his sister and she slept with the king. ‘But brother, that’s just one incident’. Your right forgive me! Shall we discuss Hagar? Or Peters denials, hey if the bible is fake, why in the world would these guys be writing such bad stuff on themselves! If you are making it up as you go you can make yourself at least look good! If you think about it God used all these guys despite/because of their humanity. I am not making an excuse for sin! But Jesus actually says that Peters denials and human failure would co exist with ‘his faith failing not’. Faith, in the mind of him WHO GIVES IT, wasn’t some way to by pass failure or discouragement. It was the thing that got you up the next day, after the Bathsheba’s, or the denials. It made you ‘get up seven times’ [Proverbs- a just man will fall 7 times and get up again, a wicked man falls once and stays down for the count. 7 is the number of perfection. Its like God says ‘I will allow you to taste a perfect amount of failure in your life. Just enough to purge you. But be assured ‘after you are converted, after you get back up, you will have this divine ability to strengthen your brethren!’] Do we use our faith to create around us perfect environments? Should we see it as some means to ‘build a fleet of Planes’ [or any other monetary thing]? Faith is being able to keep your eyes on the King. Beholding Jesus in the midst of all the stuff you go thru. Failing in the day of adversity means not being able to see tomorrow. It means you not only ‘denied him 3 times’ but you feel all hope is lost. You want to leave town and start all over. Don’t feel bad if this is you. God is simply showing you that ‘your strength is small’. Hey, when you are weak he is strong. God is just setting you up for some good days ahead! NOTE; I just re watched the story on Kenneth Copeland. You can find it on u tube [or religion news]. They actually show you the offering form from Brother Copeland. It says on the form ‘sow you seed expecting a 100 fold return’. Now, to be fair brother Copeland is not ‘promising’ a 100 times back, like the news reports. But the problem is when Jesus uses this language of the 100 fold return, he actually says ‘the deceitfulness of riches chokes the word’ so you don’t ‘get the full return’ [I taught all this in my FIRST BOOK!]. In essence the ‘100 fold return’ in no way is speaking about CASH! Now, many people like myself have tried to correct this for years. And the fact that many in this movement take it so lightly to actually twist Jesus words like this, it is now being ‘shouted from the rooftops’. [News!]

(670) MORE ON REVELATION- Yesterday I spoke with a believer in New Jersey. They had some questions about a famous radio preacher in the area. He is famous for predicting second coming dates. They have passed and he has missed it. Well what do you know, he has come up with another one! I used to really correct him a lot to this person. He holds to end time stuff that I disagree with. He is also ‘Calvinist’ in his belief, and teaches that all the ‘churches’ are deceived and God is calling true believers out of them! As hard as I have been on the ‘local church’ concept, I couldn’t disagree more with the guy! So in the discussion I told the person, first. John wrote the book of Revelation under present persecution from the Roman government. It is the beginning of a few hundred years of unbelievable persecution. Rome would actually kill believers because they would not say ‘Caesar is Lord’. They were not against ‘the Christian God’, they believed in many gods. They had the Pantheon! But they would not permit this new religion to pledge allegiance ONLY to their God. So John is actually giving images of Rome and her leaders in Revelation. Rome would be THE NUMBER ONE threat to the fledgling church of Jesus. She will ‘kill those who do not worship the beast or bow down to its image’. Now over the last 2 thousand years, if you take a broad look at the scene. You will see the first 3 centuries to be the worst in Roman persecution. You will read John writing that ‘the city on 7 hills’ is the one who is guilty. There are actual historic records referring to Rome as ‘the city on 7 hills’. You can read in history how Nero was nicknamed ‘the beast’ and other images that clearly speak of Rome as the persecutor. Now, which Rome is it? The Rome of Protestantism who saw the Catholic Church as ‘Babylon’? Or the restored Rome of the modern day prophecy preachers? Well all evidence points to the ‘Rome’ spoken of by John as the Rome of his day. There has never been official executions of believers for their confession of Jesus on the scale of the Rome of Johns day. Why look for her in some other day? No need. The point I was trying to make to my friend was don’t be limited in your understanding of scripture. When a preacher starts predicting dates for Jesus return, that is a warning right there! The friend explained how the first ‘date’ he set was explained like ‘something really did happen that day [1994?] but it was hidden’. I told them this is the exact mistake the Millenarian movements made in the last 2 centuries. The ‘Millerites’ were founded by William Miller. A well meaning preacher who was a former game warden who got a hold of dispensational theology. He had a tremendous ‘knack’ for memorizing scripture. He would gather his followers together on more than one occasion to stand on a hillside in white robes and wait for Jesus. When the first date didn’t work, they would come up with a ‘secret’ thing that happened on the day. And then set another date! The Jehovah witnesses and the 7th day Adventists would follow this idea. The point was the setting of dates, and then later saying ‘something really did happen, but it wasn’t what we thought’ is a popular hobby with end time brothers. Now, will Jesus actually return some day? Yes. But we don’t know when. Don’t try to figure out all the details. Don’t re make Rome and the temple and all the hundreds of actual things that have taken place at multiple times over the years. If your scenarios demand a re doing of all these events, then check your facts. The Pharisees could not see how Jesus was already the fulfillment of many prophecies. The thing that blinded them was their intricate interpretations of specific prophecies. They came to hold dogmatic views that were idols in their minds. They tried to make Jesus fit the way they had believed for years. He plainly rebuked them for their narrow ideas ‘you know where the Messiah will come from’ he will shout at one time, responding to their narrow interpretation of prophecy. We need to hear the whole counsel of God. Keep an open mind. I think the Apostle John would be stumped as to how, after all the slayings and killings of believers that took place under the ‘beasts’ of Rome. And how history tells us there was never a time of such religious persecution as this time. That we are still looking for a ‘revived Rome’ to fulfill these things. Why look for her, it is plain to find her in the annals of history!

(26) I shared this dream in one of our books. I dreamt that I was going to a university. Upon arrival I noticed many classes going on with many scholars in suits and ties. In one of the areas of the school there were a bunch of professors in a circle examining something. As I got closer I realized they were surrounding a person who looked like a wounded Indian warrior. His wounds were not normal wounds. They were an extreme mutilation. I thought of the verse in Isaiah that says Jesus was marred more than any man, beyond the point of recognition. I understood part of this dream speaking to the danger of Christians being able to learn and speak on many truths while never being able to fully embrace him. I also believe this could speak to Christ being the source of all knowledge and wisdom, a ‘pool’ or fountain of revelation that can never be totally exhausted. Scripture says that in Jesus are hidden ‘all’ the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. If you remember I shared earlier about John seeing ‘an open door’ in heaven [revelation]. Jesus is called the ‘door’ in the gospel of John. This is the same ‘John’ who wrote revelation. Revelation is a prophetic book that uses many types and symbols. The ‘door’ in heaven imagery can also speak to Jesus being ‘opened up’ [a spear was thrust into his side on the cross] and us entering in by faith and accessing all the riches and wisdom that are ‘in him!’.

(107) When I spoke a few weeks ago on not being able to attend college, I want to clarify my thoughts on higher education. I believe one of the problems with ‘fundamentalism’ [some types of evangelical preachers] is the lack of a well-balanced education. It’s good to get a university level of education if you can. In the last century there was a movement in the Christian church that was called ‘higher criticism’. Many of the scholars that were influenced by the previous stage of the enlightenment [from Europe] taught a type of bible interpretation that denied many [or all] the supernatural stories in the bible, even the resurrection! As a result many American universities were inundated with a type of teaching that ‘old fashioned’ preachers thought was apostasy [some of it was, but not all of it!]. The American ‘fundamentalists’ reacted by simply saying ‘we believe the bible literally’. The problem with some of the literalists, was they lacked a balanced historical understanding of the times and life of the early church. They seemed to have no time to become educated on the historical aspects of Christianity. So ‘literalism’ said ‘if the bible says it’s going to happen, then it is going to happen’. Not realizing [because of a lack of education] that certain things already happened. One example of this is the present preoccupation with the ‘antichrist’ and the prevailing hobby of trying to find out who he is. Is he alive today? A lot of speculation on a person that the first century church believed to be fulfilled in the emperor Nero. Without teaching this whole subject, the early church taught and understood that there would be a person who would be a great persecutor of Christians. He would even kill those who would not ‘worship his image and bow down to him’ those who would not ‘receive his number 666 couldn’t survive’. The Roman Empire of the 1st century allowed for religious expression. There form of Government actually ‘deified’ their Caesars. You could believe in other Gods [Pantheism] as long as you bowed the knee to its emperors. Well obviously Paul and other early writers could see the writing on the wall. Early Christians were not to sware allegiance to any other ‘god’ but Jesus Christ! As the early church progressed, the apostles understood that there would eventually be a ‘Caesar’ that would demand allegiance to himself. Those who wouldn’t ‘bow’ and say ‘Caesar is Lord’ would eventually be killed. Polycarp and other early Christian leaders met their fate this way. Nero was the worst. He blamed catastrophes and other events [arson!] on the Christians, though its believed that he himself was the arsonist! Nero’s name, along with his title of ‘Caesar’ does spell out to the numerical value of ‘666’. It just made sense for the early church to have believed him to have been the antichrist! There are many other debates on this subject, and I do leave room for the possibility for the ‘antichrist’ to be a future person, but I doubt it. Also during the reformation of the 16th century, many of the reformers [Luther and others] saw the ‘antichrist’ as the pope. The book of revelation speaks of Rome and both a political and religious ‘Babylon’ as coming against the saints. It was easy for the reformers to ‘see’ the marriage of the Catholic Church with the governments of men as the culprit [The Holy Roman empire and stuff like that]. But again this view doesn’t seem to take into account that Rome of the 1st century was religious, and that wasn’t speaking about Catholics! So I believe a basic understanding of world history, along with a literal interpretation of the bible go hand in hand. Those who despise education [calling the seminary the ‘cemetery’] seem to lack this balance.

(108) Let me also say that the current popular ‘end times’ teaching that you see and hear in much of American Evangelicalism sprouted thru the fundamentalist reaction to higher criticism. In the 1800’s there were certain Christian groups in England [the Brethren and others] that took hold of ‘Dispensationalism’. The ‘Rapture’ doctrine and other scenarios of bible interpretation sprung up out of these movements. When the American fundamentalists used the ‘Bible Conference’ as a tool to counteract the higher criticism being taught in the universities, Dispensationalism sort of tagged along. It became common to think ‘defending the historic faith’ meant defending ‘Dispensational theology’. This was a major mistake. The ‘Historic faith’ did not teach certain elements of dispensationalism [Rapture]. So today you find many American Christians who are all too willing to embrace certain end time scenarios [Tim Lahye stuff!] thinking there ‘defending the bible’ not realizing that some of the things there defending are not in the bible! [At least not in the way that they see it]. When you fail to read scripture thru an historical paradigm you fall into the danger of trying to fit current geopolitical events into certain Old Testament prophets, and this is dangerous. You would never want to do world politics with a view of Israel and other nations [Russia- Gog and Magog] as a type of ‘newspaper prophecy’ that speaks to every current world scenario. One of the fears of certain believers is the fact that President Bush [current President as of this writing] holds to a view like this. I remember certain ‘end time preachers’ disclosing the fact that the Bush administration contacted them early on about certain end time things. I am real uncomfortable about this. Many of these end time preachers do not realize that many of these scenarios concerning Israel and other nations have played out time and again over the last few thousand years. To take these Old Testament prophets and think that they are all speaking about current affairs is misguided!

(281) Lets jump out of character a little. During a discussion I had with a ministry leader in our City, I shared the function of the church at Corinth and showed him how during their gatherings they all shared and functioned. I showed him this to explain that I felt the Lord is changing the practice of church from an environment of people who come and listen to a Pastor preach, to an environment of all Gods people sharing together. This doesn’t mean there will never be an instructional time where a Pastor or Apostle or another gifted person can share or preach a sermon, but it shows that the original intent of God for the church was one of interactive involvement of all it’s members. My ministry friend disagreed and said that Paul was just dealing with the ‘home group’ here, and the ‘regular church’ was another thing/place. The mistake my friend made was ‘seeing’ scripture thru the paradigm of church as we practice it today. He sincerely took scripture that addressed the ‘church at Corinth’ [all the believers at Corinth] and read his own mindset into it. The scriptures in Corinthians that deal with how the believers were meeting IS THE CHURCH AT CORINTH. There was not ‘the home groups’ and ‘the main sanctuary meetings’ now if your church has this distinction, fine! The point I was making to my friend was Paul was addressing THE CHURCH when he gave them instructions on how to meet practically. When believers meet anywhere and share the love of Christ and mutually build each other up, that is church in its most simple form. To read Corinthians and ‘see’ another sanctuary service ‘down the road’ is a good example of how we read scripture thru the ‘lens’ of our own understanding. Let me also say it’s a common mistake among modern cell church movements to read the meetings of the Church at Jerusalem at the Temple [actually they ‘held’ services in Solomon’s Porch, which was an outside courtyard!] and to read into this that the early Christians had ‘sanctuary’ services and ‘home meetings’. This isn’t so. The only Christians that had ‘temple’ services were those at Jerusalem. All the gentile churches [Ephesians, Corinth, etc.] met in homes. This is a fact that doesn’t change. Does this mean all gentiles must only meet in homes? No. I am just showing you there was no pattern of ‘temple’ and ‘home’ groups. Also some advocates of radical reform see Paul’s warning to the Ephesian elders in the book of acts as a warning against the modern clergy system. Paul told the Ephesus church that AFTER MY DEPARTURE, WOLVES WILL RISE UP FROM AMONG YOU [from the believers] and will draw away disciples after themselves. Some see the rise of the ‘singular Pastor’ as a fulfillment of this scripture [I don’t necessarily hold to this view, but I do see some credence to this speaking of the strong personality worship that exists in the church today] Others also use 3rd John and the example of Diotrophes as one who ‘loved to have the preeminence’ and would not receive the brothers. Some see in these examples a strong warning from the early Apostles to avoid strong singular authorities who are looked to as the authority of a local church. I do believe there is some truth to these insights. My goal today is to simply challenge your present understanding of ‘going to church on Sunday’ to seeing yourself as the actual ‘temple of God’ that moves and interacts in the world around them. God brought his presence out of a Temple made with hands and put it in his people, we must not loose sight of this great reality! NOTE: In the book of revelation it says the ‘City of God’ is ‘as a bride adorned for her husband’. We also know that the New Testament calls us ‘the New Jerusalem, the Zion of God’ basically John is writing prophetic imagery in Revelation. It also says ‘there was no temple in it, God himself and the Lamb are the temple’ [we dwell in God] but it also says the Lamb is the light of the City. The only logical way to fit all these images without contradicting is to see the City/Temple being the Church of the living God. As the ‘body of Christ’ we are a real extension of ‘the Lamb’ so the Lamb can be the City, the Temple or the Light of the Temple. Jesus is the light of the Church, he illuminates us by the Spirit. It’s important to grasp this major change of thought from the earthly Jewish Temple, to the heavenly spiritual one. If you don’t rightly see this you will not interpret scripture properly! [By the way I do believe in a literal heaven!] NOTE: A common mistake amongst Apostolic ministries is thinking that it is a biblical mandate to have ‘a spiritual Father’ [and Mother]. I was reading from an apostles site and it gave some testimonies from Pastors Who said the reason they now have a spiritual Father and Mother [speaking of the Apostle and his wife] was because the bible teaches we have natural ones, therefore we should have spiritual ones. The ‘spiritual’ father is God and the mother is the ‘church’ according to Paul. He says ‘THE NEW JERUSALEM IS THE MOTHER OF US ALL’. Paul does tell the Corinthians that he is their spiritual father. But he is basically saying ‘I birthed you guys into the Kingdom; you are the fruit of my Apostolic ministry. Listen to me for correction, not all these others who are trying to bring you under their authority’. Paul was not advocating for people to go out and find Apostles and make them and their wives their ‘spiritual father and mother’.

(308) Just remembered something that I wanted to share. I heard a brother speaking on Revelation. One of the rebukes to the 7 churches is they held to the ‘doctrine of the Nicolatians’. There have been different ideas about who they were. Most commentators agree that it speaks of ‘those who would rise above the saints’ or the rise of both early ecclesiastical offices [Bishop, Priests, etc] as well as later protestant titles [Pastor]. Some feel that the unscriptural foundation for the way these offices function are what this ‘doctrine of the Nicolatians’ is about. You can interpret many of the passages that deal with authority in either ‘family’ terms or ‘authoritarian’ terms. A famous, well respected evangelical scholar [reformed] actually did a whole book on the King James translation and how they chose to interpret many of the words in authoritarian language as opposed to family language. OBEY THOSE WHO HAVE THE RULE OVER YOU and other scriptures that could have said FOLLOW THE GUIDANCE OF SPIRITUAL ELDERS IN YOUR MIDST. Some feel the reason the most popular version today [King James] opted for this way of translating was for political necessity. The Church of England chose to use this terminology to reinforce the mindset of ‘submission to authority’ that is the authority of England and it’s ‘church’ as they were blatantly moving out from under the ‘authority’ of Rome. Sort of ‘you can have your cake and eat it too’ type deal. The historical background to the political motivation of this is no secret. I usually don’t approach it from this angle because it challenges the strong ‘King James only’ crowd a little too much. I believe exposing the simple fact of the New Testament not showing the modern role of ‘Pastor’ as we practice it today is enough to cause us to ‘re think’ the ‘ruling’ offices in the church. I do believe the Lord has Elders/leaders that function in the Body of Christ, but I also see truth to the fact that many modern offices have been ‘developed’ outside of the original intent of the Spirit of God.

(330) Understand that Jesus is the lion of the tribe of JUDAH. Any prophetic expression of Judah is actually the Spirit of God thru the prophets rising up in rebellion to cast off the wisdom of men that comes against the true knowledge of God in Christ. These last 50 years the enemy has laughed at how he was able to mock the true image of Christ thru these false systems. The purpose of the prophetic was to lead a ‘revolt’ against the ‘occupiers’. Revelation says ‘the Lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed’ he ‘opens seals/ opens the book’. It is the ‘opening’ of Gods word that does war against the wisdom of men. This is primarily a prophetic act. The wisdom of men cannot accomplish this. When the Lion of the tribe of Judah begins this process thru the prophetic, the enemy no longer laughs, because his day has finally come.
(346) I am up early right now, there is this tremendous wind/lightning storm going on in my area. Usually I have to get wet when this happens. Being outside praying during a thunderstorm is surreal. This time the rain is limited to the gulf, so I can walk without getting wet. The view of the lightning is great. I am typing this without power right now. Working on batteries because the storm knocked out power. I have a lot to say so I hope I get power back soon. We should have our blog posted in the Dallas Morning News this Saturday. At first I had no intention of ‘biting off more than I could chew’ but I felt the Lord gave me some signs to go to Dallas. This area houses a lot of worldwide ministries. Some of the leaders are seeing the things we speak on. There actually is a type of spiritual warfare going on in the ‘intellectual community’ of charismatic/evangelical ministries. I put ‘intellectual’ in quotes because I hesitate to use this word. The normal level of study and thinking among these ministries is really shallow. All the obvious things we have dealt with could have been avoided if key leaders simply new how to read and interpret scripture. A few years ago I spoke to a national ‘level’ prophet. He actually had opportunity to personally witness to Saddam Hussein before the war. I share this not to brag, but to show that God wants the prophets and the church to see and think on a level that we are not at yet. Most American ministries are simply Christian businesses that are set up to teach their peculiar view/style of Christianity to a passive audience. The intent of the prophetic voice of the church is to speak into society at large and influence it with the reality of God. Some of the silly end time scenarios you see espoused on Christian TV are not only wrong, but also dangerous. All the governments of men [even Israel] that operate outside of Christ’s rule are simply the governments of the world. While God has great plans for Israel, this does not supercede what I just told you. The fact that we have well known evangelists siding to the point of military action from one side towards another is blurring the lines. While I in no way support the Hammas groups of Palestine, to actually advocate military violence towards any group is wrong. I recognize the right of all nations to defend themselves against terrorism, yet Gods Kingdom operates on a different level. These end time preachers really think you can open up the books of Daniel and Revelation and read the newspaper as commentary. This level of ‘thought’ is not only shallow, but deadly. The Christian preacher should never place him self on the side of any human govt. against another group of people that actually has Christians living in the country. If you advocate violence thru the reading of these prophetic books, you don’t realize that you might have joined sides with a govt., no matter how ‘good’, that rejects Christ and actually kills Christians as collateral damage. Now am I saying we should have no voice in world affairs? NO! But the churches voice looses credibility when it does not see these distinctions. The former Soviet Union was an oppressive form of govt. the people were ‘robots’ that functioned as tools of a greater purpose. The problem was no one developed into independent people/thinkers under this model. Though the original designs were noble to a degree, the fact is this type of govt. was repressive. The church in general has functioned this way for generations. Most modern forms of church tell people that their job is to be an audience and be passive and bring your money and GOD FORBID THAT YOU WOULD THINK ON YOUR OWN. Then you have the radicals like me who challenge the system and at times have succeeded in a small way. But the people, just like the Russians, were co dependant for so long that they cant really function well when true liberty is given them. Many had high hopes for the former Soviet Union [The Beatles actually wanted to get back to the USSR, you don’t know how lucky you are] the reality is the people could not function well in a Capitalistic form of govt. because they were ‘held captive’ for so long. God wants the prophetic voice to bring his people to an ‘Exodus’ from limited mindsets and practices. The problem seems to be that they have been ‘held captive’ for so long, they really don’t know how to deal with it. NOTE; the simple fact that the transition from natural land [Israel] to spiritual land [the church] as one of the major ‘shifts’ in the minds of the first century JEWISH APOSTLES should cause us to question the strong GENTILE EVANGELISTS emphasis on natural Israel. This development of end time views revolves around specific scripture. The disciples asked Jesus one time ‘are you going to restore the Kingdom to Israel now’ and Jesus says ‘it is not for you to know the times and seasons that the Father has put in his hand’. The future return of Jesus and the fact that scripture speaks of Christ’s return to this land [natural Israel] is significant. You cant ‘spiritualize’ everything about natural Israel. The fact also is that Gods chief concern and purpose for humanity is located in ‘the true Israel of God’ this is a Bible reference from the Apostle Paul speaking about the Christian Church. Paul made a division between Gods natural purpose for natural Israel and Gods eternal purpose for spiritual Israel. Paul also spoke of a day when all Israel will fall down in repentance and acknowledgement of Christ [book of Romans]. The Old Testament prophets speak of a day of great humiliation when Israel will ‘look upon him who they have pierced’ they will say ‘how did you get these wounds’ and he will answer ‘in the house of my friends’. The biblical characterization of Christ appearing to natural Israel is not one of militaristic vindication. It is one of national ‘rebirth’. At this time in the future when this happens, it will not be a vindicating of Israel over the church. It will be a humiliation and repentance as she is added unto the church. At this moment in history she will at one time have fulfilled her long awaited destiny, which was to present Messiah to humanity. She will be fulfilling this event as spiritual Israel, not natural! This level of understanding is not common today; we need to attain to these things long before Christ’s return. He will not return in a way that would seem to justify the American evangelists repression of other believers thru their distorted view of natural Israel. To put it bluntly [as I have been known to do] it would rock these American end time preachers for Jesus to come back and blow away the image and mindset that they have espoused. To a degree some of them have unknowingly sided with the kingdoms of men against the Kingdom of God. All natural govts, outside of Christ, are the Kingdoms of men. All believers on the planet are in the Kingdom of God. Some of these evangelists have given voice, thru their interpretation of scripture, to the kingdom of man coming against the Kingdom of God. It would be devastating to some of these preachers to think that Jesus is coming back to lead a military campaign in the natural, only to realize that they have sided with a human govt that has actually killed a fellow believer [possibly Palestinian] and in so doing have fulfilled the verse that says ‘I have received these wounds in the house of my friends’. Many evangelists don’t realize that the actual killing of another believer is the worst ‘wounding’ you can inflict upon Christ’s Body. To have done this thru a distorted view of scripture would be too much to handle for these guys. God in his mercy is not returning just yet. NOTE; scripture says a time is coming when those who kill Christians will think that they are doing Gods service, most don’t realize how true this can be!

(359) Just woke up at work. Was dreaming I was in Jersey. This means God is doing a work with some of my generation, the old friends who I ‘re attached’ to this year. I had the sense that God was saying ‘all things are in place, I have ‘manipulated’ the environment to be favorable towards you. All you really need to do is stay on the board [game board] and you will begin hitting boardwalk/park place’. Guess I cant get away from board games right now. Did you ever feel like you were ‘in the game’ but not really? Your rolling the dice, your going around the board, but you just can’t seem to hit the favorable ‘real estate’. I felt like God was saying you are going to start hitting the ‘good land’. It’s always been there, but certain things prevented you from possessing it. You are about to start hitting the good spots. Don’t think ‘linear’ think ‘buffet table’. At the risk of going a little too deep, let me share some stuff. Some theologians feel that when the bible was interpreted from Greek/Hebrew to English that we lost something. Greek and Hebrew thought carried with it a type of learning that was like a buffet table. You would communicate many things at one time. These truths were not meant to be ‘put in a row’. You were not supposed to read them ‘in a line’. For instance you can read the book of Revelation as ‘consecutive’ events that happen one after another. Or you can see it as ‘concurrent’, that is a broad overview of many things, some are happening as we speak. This is a very debatable subject in the field of theology. Clark Pinnock, a contemporary theologian, actually says theology is like a buffet table. The more reformed thinkers reject this out of hand. They feel this is heresy. So without going to deep, lets say there is an aspect in God where he ‘spreads out the table before us’. Everything we need is really there [don’t think materialistic here!] the only thing that has been keeping us from ‘possessing the land’ is we have not been walking in divine favor. We haven’t been landing right. We are so used to ‘missing’ park place, that we are not even expecting to hit it anymore. We are happy to build motels on Baltic! God’s favor is the ‘transition’ stage that causes you to start landing on favorable real estate. You will begin to ‘inherit the nations’. God will allow you to influence people groups with the gospel. Don’t forget, to ‘inherit’ the nations is to bring in the harvest. In Jesus teaching those who were actually buying land [just developing material wealth] were actually disqualifying themselves from laboring in the real harvest. Don’t get too caught up with the acquisition of stuff. Be free to labor in the fields, they are ripe and ready to harvest [if you will, the buffet table has always been there].
(360) I was up praying early. I was actually saying to myself ‘you can go so low in the pit to retrieve treasures, that it becomes dangerous’. I had a sense of a Hollywood schema that would have the ‘hero’ saying ‘I will go and risk my life to save the damsel [or some other corny thing]’ and the others standing by and pleading with him not to take the risk. Sort of like Peter telling Jesus ‘don’t go to the Cross’. As I was actually ‘muttering’ the words about ‘a very low pit’ I heard on the radio the days verse ‘he reached down and took me out of the most horrible pit’ it was a contemporary version from Psalms. Lets share some treasures that were just mined from a low place. On this blog I discuss a lot of controversial things. One is the end times. I don’t hold to a lot of the popular end time scenarios. For instance I recently showed you why Christ’s return will not vindicate natural Israel. The answer was Jesus could not ‘vindicate’ any system outside of the true gospel. So the ‘key’ to seeing this is actually the Cross! You will find this to be the key to everything. All truths must ‘filter’ thru the Cross. You will not rightly divide scripture until you master this. One of the controversial ideas I have espoused is Nero being the ‘beast’ of Revelation. Many evangelicals disagree. Lets open a door using the ‘key’. One of the New Testament books that Paul wrote speaks of Jesus ‘destroying the antichrist’ at his coming. With a total destruction. Some who believe Nero was the beast say this ‘coming of Jesus to destroy’ was a ‘coming’ in judgment in AD 70. They ‘spiritualize’ the 2nd coming to make it fit. The modern evangelical who holds to the Tim Lahaye stuff sees this as an excuse to prove a point. They say ‘see, if Jesus totally destroys antichrist at the 2nd coming, then obviously Nero wasn’t him!’ I do want to note that early historians will tell you that one of the ‘nick names’ for Nero was ‘the beast’. Here’s a ‘key’. In Revelation you see many things happening at different times. You also see many spiritual truths that are concurrent [remember what I showed you the other day]. There are images that show the beast and the antichrist being bound for a period of time. I also showed you on this blog that Hebrews says ‘Jesus destroyed him that had the power of death thru dieing himself’. This ‘key’ of Christ’s death teaches us that the devil is already destroyed by the Cross. It’s not ‘really’ a future event. The 2nd coming is a ‘culmination’ and ‘crowning’ of the Cross’s work. So the image in Revelation of the antichrist being ‘bound’ might very well be speaking of what happened at the Cross. In all the generations of man, since the Cross there has been more light and freedom than at any other time. The enemy, as well as the antichrist, can very well be described as ‘bound’. Now you also have images in Revelation that show this ‘binding’ as being a ‘waiting stage’ for ultimate destruction. The ‘contents’ of death and hell are finally ‘poured’ into the lake of fire. Peter in the New Testament gives images of rebellious angels being ‘held in chains’ until the final ‘destruction’. So with all this in mind, here’s a key. Nero is being ‘held’ right now, with Hitler and every other wicked despot that has ever lived. They are waiting for the 2nd coming. At the real 2nd coming [not AD 70!] he will really be ‘destroyed with total destruction by the presence of the Lord’. This my friends is the key, Jesus and his Cross.

(362) Let me clarify some things. To ‘exalt’ people because of their gifts is a sickness that the church suffers from. This is imbedded in the current level of maturity that we are at. It will take time for us to out grow this. To ‘recognize’ the gifted ones in our midst is also an act of humility. While we live in a time of exalting men’s images, we also live in a time of ‘not receiving’ the prophets. To ‘receive them’ means to simply recognize and accept the things they are saying by the Spirit, while at the same time seeing them as ‘equals’ in the Body of Christ. To understand that the priesthood of all believers supercedes the gifts. Gifts are free ‘presents’ that God gives us for everyone’s benefit. The fact they are gifts should cause the ‘gifted ones’ to be humble about it. It should also cause the others receiving the benefits to understand that they are all sharing from a gift that no one has earned. To understand the difference between the exalting of men and the receiving of gifted ones is a level that we are not at yet as a Body of people. Now some things about John the Baptist. John had this incredible singular ability to ‘see Christ’. He was humble enough to recognize as Christ increased, he would decrease. John also had this ‘knack’ for offending people in authority. Poor John just couldn’t stick with the positive confession! John preached against the Kings marriage to his brother’s wife. He spoke out against an obvious sin that others had come to accept. The kings wife eventually would have John beheaded. The beheading of John was accomplished by the wife manipulating the Kings authority to come against the prophet. She had her daughter dance a sensual dance for the King, The King said he would give her anything she asked. The mother told the daughter ‘I want Johns head’ she got it! The story of Jezebel in the Old Testament carries the same theme. The prophet Elijah [whom Jesus compared John to] was attacked by the King of Israel’s authority being used by his wife. Jezebel had ‘power’ to come against Elijah because of her position to the King. The book of Revelation speaks of the spirit of Jezebel. God warns one of the churches that ‘she was allowing Jezebel to seduce her people’. In the ‘charismatic’ world whole books and ‘conferences’ revolve around this theme. A problem with the church, we take stuff and blow it out of proportion. I see this ‘Jezebel’ as the power of the enemy to manipulate authority to come against Christ’s Kingdom. The crucifying of Jesus. It was accomplished thru political manipulation. Pilate and others using govt. and their place in it to position themselves. Being so caught up in trying to gain the approval of their constituents that they allow an ‘innocent man’ to slip thru and be put to death unlawfully. The enemy knew that an outright attempt to take innocent life would never fly, but thru these manipulative means, he could use secular authority to come against Gods people [Both John the Baptist and Elijah]. So today we have the ‘act of abortion’. It is accomplished because human govt has been manipulated by those who want position. The leaders were more concerned with power than justice. The enemy manipulated leaders to a point where the supreme court put its ‘stamp of approval’ on infanticide, could a human being on his own go around killing babies? No. But the ‘voice’ of govt. behind the scenes allows this to happen on a broad scale. Jezebel [the manipulating of power] rears her ugly head. The fact that John spoke out against the wicked lifestyle of the King [authority] brought with it the inherent danger of Jezebel. John graduated early! NOTE; I feel like ‘to suffer that woman Jezebel to seduce Gods servants’ speaks more of a rebuke towards the church getting to a stage where she is ‘so comfortable’ in society that she looses her ‘prophetic’ voice of justice. When believers are under the ‘spell’ of Jezebel, it is not so much a ‘demonic’ thing to me, as much as a ‘seduction of silence’. Things are going well for our ministries, we are experiencing joy, fame and growth. God is a good God, we are ‘changing our world with our words’ [which means we are creating the lifestyles that we want, while never truly impacting society] in a nutshell ‘we are suffering jezebel to seduce us’ while we sit around quietly as the King blatantly struts around with his brothers wife. Everyone knows it’s wrong, but there is this ‘conspiracy of silence’. That is until old John comes along. You know he’s got this great prophetic ability to ‘see Messiah’ the Old Testament prophets actually spoke of John, they said he would be someone who ‘came in the power and spirit of Elijah’. You know what he went and did? Old John had to go open his mouth one to many times. He felt like ‘the Lord’ wanted him to speak out on the obvious sins of the time. Poor old John went and got himself killed. We are still around to enjoy the benefits of Roman society; we are very ‘posh’. Just don’t talk too much about our King, he is an embarrassment that we are willing to put up with for now! [Old Jezebel had a good run in 1st century Rome!]

(369) About 4 months ago I consciously stopped making radio tapes. I was in the middle of teaching the book of Hebrews and was over 2 years ahead of actually broadcasting the tapes. I usually don’t prepare anything; I just read the bible and share as God leads. I stopped because I was only half way thru Hebrews and I was seeing a lot of stuff. I wanted to put ‘speaking’ on hold [remember Elijah had the ability to ‘not preach’ for 3.5 years]. I am not Elijah, but I didn’t want my ‘identity’ to be preaching. The month I consciously stopped ‘preaching’ I started reading Isaiah as devotional material. Sort of like ‘putting things on hold’. Then we started this blog and I have been ‘speaking’ ever since! I share this to let you know I really am not looking for avenues to speak, I kinda feel like when Paul told Timothy ‘in doing this [preaching] you will save yourself and those who hear thee’ It’s a necessity. I just heard on the radio a preacher talk on ‘the name that is given to us that no man knows, but he who gives it’. This is in the book of Revelation. He innocently gave the ‘common’ commentary on ‘I wonder what my name will be, the bible says no one knows’. I kinda think it would make us feel uncomfortable to wake up in heaven and to find out my new name is ‘Youseff’ or ‘Zerubabael’ or some other weird thing. Maybe all the northeast liberals will be given ‘bubba’ type names, all the southerners wake up with the name ‘Al Sharpton’! We can be stupid at times. Lets use the key. What did I say the key to everything was? Jesus and his Cross. The book of Corinthians tells us that no man can say Jesus is Lord but by the Spirit. Also no man can ‘know’ the name Jesus [intimately] unless he is in ‘the Body of Christ’. Only God ‘knows’ this name, and only those whom God chooses to reveal it to. We are presently called ‘the Body of Christ’. We right now bear the name ‘Jesus Christ’. No body truly knows this name but those to whom it is revealed [all Christians]. We truly have a name that no man knows, but he who gave it! NOTE You can still go around wondering what this new mysterious name is, but if this didn’t ‘turn the lights on’ then you deserve to wake up with the name ‘Al Sharpton’.

(415) I want to talk a little about ‘Local Church’. As I am reading on movements who ‘plant’ Local Churches, it is reminding me of some things. First, nowhere in the New Testament is the command given to ‘go and plant New Testament churches’. Now I don’t want to be picky here. I want you to see why this is so. Protestantism has developed an understanding of ‘Local Church’ that is really unbiblical. I recently read about a movement that ‘sends out churches’ to cities as opposed to ‘sending out missionaries/evangelists’. They see the sending of a person to get a building and preach on Sunday and get the tithe and for people to be ‘faithful’ to the ‘local church’ as the right way to evangelize because ‘this is Gods plan’. Then another group says ‘we are a ‘local church’ with a worldwide vision’. The more extreme brothers will teach ‘you are not in right relationship with God until you submit to his plan, which is ‘the Local Church’. All these brothers mean well. They are just expressing views that are un biblical. The ‘local churches’ in scripture were all the believers living in a ‘locality’. In these ‘communities of believers’ there were gifted men who God placed there for the growth of ‘the local church’ [all the Christians]. Today’s idea of every city having 100 to 200 local churches, all with the office of ‘Pastor’ who is the authority over that specific group is no where to be found in scripture. Now all the brothers doing these things are not heretics [notice I said ‘not all’]. But when you take this limited view that sees ‘the local church’ as the separate organization that you start in your area. And then you teach a form of ‘being in submission’ as tithing to that thing, you are in essence usurping Gods authority that is being released thru a wide diversity of gifts in your area. God sees ‘the local church’ and its ‘members’ as those who are called out of the world unto Christ who reside ‘locally’. So you are ‘part of the local church/group of Christians in your area’ by virtue of the fact that you are all ‘partaking spiritually of the Body of Christ’. The outward sign of this is the Lords Supper. So for you to view your ‘membership’ with a particular group [among 100’s] and then to say ‘I am faithful to ‘my local church’ [the Sunday meeting I attend] and to not see the reality that all the believers in your area are ‘local church’ actually harms the church. Most Protestants do not realize how this limited view ‘colors’ the way they read scripture. In the book of Revelation you find the letters to the 7 churches. These ‘churches’ are once again all the believers living in different locals. God is speaking to the ‘Angels’ of these churches in this book. ‘To the Angel of the Church of so and so’ the word for angel is ‘messenger’. You have the majority of Protestants teaching these angels are the ‘Pastors’ of these ‘churches’. There was NEVER a Pastor over all the believers in these locations. Sardis, Ephesus, Thyatira, etc. When I do the radio ministry. It is not a ministry ‘to the radio’. When I speak into the cassette recorder, I am not ‘speaking to the recorder’. In scripture Angels are messengers. They receive and transmit the message from God. These ‘angels’ of these 7 churches were simply that! God is speaking to the ‘messengers’ and saying ‘if you don’t repent I will remove your candlestick’. These are not messages to Pastors over churches [see how your view colors this!] these are Gods words spoken to his ‘transmitters’ and therefore he is saying it ‘to the angels’ just like I preach ‘into the radio’. Now all of this is for the purpose to show you that God doesn’t send people or movements to go and ‘plant churches’ per se. He sends people to preach the gospel to people groups [Gods idea of ‘churches/ communities’]. These ‘groups’ of people who believe become the ‘local churches’ of the New Testament. When Paul writes to these ‘churches’ he is addressing ‘all the believers’ in the locality. If there were an ‘office’ of Pastor like we practice it today, there would be no way that these letters would not contain strong instructions and rebukes ‘for the Pastor’ [by name if they were singular authorities]. For the ‘churches’ in the book of Revelation to have had ‘Pastors’ over these entire regions, and for us to not know their names is unthinkable! All the major figures [Paul, Peter, John, etc] were well known leaders in the first century church. To have had ‘Pastors’ as the singular authorities of entire regions, and for them to have remained anonymous till this day would have been impossible! So in essence you are not going around setting up some type of organization that people need to submit to in order to be in ‘proper order’. Gods ‘proper order’ is to be ‘under Christ’. This does carry with it the humility to accept and receive the gifts that God has placed in our communities. The Pastors and Prophets and all the other gifts. These are gifts to the entire community to build the people up. When you have ‘church planters’ who are going around [with a good intent] teaching believers that they must ‘submit to the local church, because this is Gods program for reaching the world’ they are seeing ‘local church’ in a way that is really unbiblical. God is sending all of us out into the harvest field to preach the gospel. I don’t see all the ‘Sunday Local Churches’ as wrong or in rebellion. I see that overall we are all Gods kids who are doing our best to please God. When we deal in grace with each other God works. When we use limited forms of church to the degree of seeing those who don’t fully operate in that mindset as being in rebellion, then we are not truly building each other up in love. NOTE: One of the faults with these strong authoritarian church planting movements is they use verses like ‘follow me as I follow Christ’. They use this to push back against their critics who say they are too authoritarian. ‘Hey, Paul told people to follow him’. Yes he did ‘as I follow Christ’. How did Paul ‘follow Christ’ well he certainly wasn’t setting up ‘local churches’ with Pastors ‘over the people’! NOTE; The first 3 centuries of Christianity you didn’t have ‘church’ as the place you go to on Sunday for religious worship. This mindset developed over time. Our Catholic friends developed a way of doing church that saw the ‘priest’ as the ‘minister’ empowered by Christ’s grace to ‘oversee’ the Mass where the Eucharist becomes the means of grace whereby God ‘infuses’ grace into the souls of the faithful. Basically the Catholic ‘chapter’ for their belief is centered around John chapter 6 ‘unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood you have no life in you’. While I do not hold to the doctrine of ‘transubstantiation’ I do not see my Catholic brothers as wicked ‘devil worshippers’ for this. I see it more as an historic belief that did develop out of an ‘infancy stage’ of Christianity. Holding to Jesus words literally [which Luther himself held to in this area of disagreement with Zwingli, the Swiss reformer!] with a childlike belief that many Christians embraced. During the ‘reformation’ of the 16th century you had many doctrines questioned, but for the most part the Protestants simply changed the office of the priest with the office of ‘the Pastor’ as the ‘clergy person’ who will administer this ‘protestant office’. This ‘office’ does not exist in the New Testament! So today we are seeing the Lord move in an area of ‘reformation’ [a process, not a one time event] concerning ‘church form’. Something that really wasn’t adequately dealt with in the 16th century movement. So we move on to maturity as we accept the good things of the church Fathers [even the Catholic ones!] and we ‘move away’ from forms and styles that are not mandated in scripture. We should not be ‘anti Sunday church/Pastor’ as much as we should be ‘pro Body of Christ’. Wanting to see the people of God fully functional under the headship of Christ. NOTE: This causes us to deal in grace with our fellow Christians. I have heard Protestant preachers say ‘the Catholics teach for doctrine the commandments of men’ while all the while they are declaring a ‘form of local church’ as THE SINGULAR TOOL OF GOD TO CHANGE THE WORLD that is nowhere to be found in scripture! NOTE; ‘Enlarge the place of thy tent and LET THEM stretch forth the curtains of thy habitations’ I spoke on this verse from Isaiah a few entries back. The LET THEM speaks of releasing your spiritual offspring to continue the growth of the spiritual lineage that God permits us to ‘birth’ into the Kingdom. This ‘letting them’ is a voluntary act of leadership releasing people to continue the journey on their own with Jesus becoming their ‘Chief Pastor/Shepherd’. In today’s ‘Local Church’ environment we do not practice the ‘letting go’ part well. NOTE; I have taught the term Ecclesia in our books. Let me mention that the way we view ‘Local Church’ rides heavily on how you interpret this word. The word ‘ecclesia’ is the Greek word in the New Testament for ‘Church’. In the early centuries we see how the believers understood this to mean a ‘called out community of people’, not necessarily ‘those called to the building on Sunday’. Later Christians [and theologians] began to develop a type of ‘ecclesiology’ [church form] that fit into the limited mindset of Church being the place where Christians go on Sunday. While it is true that the word ‘Ecclesia’ can describe a ‘city council meeting’ or other types of public assemblies. The true intent behind the ‘called out people’ are those who have been called out of society [separated in the biblical sense] and have become citizens of another country/Kingdom. So to limit the ‘church’ to the actual place of meeting is really not scriptural. The term for church was simply the best word to use at the time. Words are limited. It takes the Spirit of God to truly convey the meaning of them. We do not contradict the words that are used in scripture to make up our own definitions [which is a common hobby today] but we allow the Spirit of God to reveal to us things that the ‘surface reading’ can’t fully show us. NOTE; You never had a scenario where Paul would address the ‘church of Corinth’ or another area and say ‘and to you who live in Corinth, but are actually members of the church at Ephesus, because you have chosen to have membership there’ You were part of the church at Corinth by virtue of the fact that you lived in Corinth and were a believer. You didn’t have the idea of joining a separate entity [group] like the ‘Elks’ lodge or something of this nature. We have developed a way of seeing church that seems to tell believers you must join a specific ‘church’ in your city, out of the 100’s of ‘churches’ that exist there. While it is fine to ‘go to a church on Sunday’ we must not see them as actual ‘local churches’ in and of themselves, this cause’s a division to the Body of Christ that is not seen in scripture.

About ccoutreach87

my sites- www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com- ccoutreach87.wordpress.com- facebook.com/john.chiarello.5

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