Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Call to “Come Up Hither!”

(Written by Joseph R. Chambers)
Any view of the fourth chapter of the Book of Revelation that doesn’t allow for the triumphant Rapture of the saints is woefully inadequate. This chapter is a grand picture of the true church and the overcoming saints that have been transferred from the lion’s mouth to the King’s throne. The blood-washed saints that were hated by the world will have faced their persecutors for the last time. Giving up the world, they will have gained the grandest seats around the throne of the Father. This chapter is the beginning of the glory that has been promised to the saints since the opening of the Holy Bible. From seats around the throne to the city of the throne, the saints will never suffer shame again. They are His saints and they will take up positions as His elders until they march as His army, reign as Kings, and possess the city of the Bride, New Jerusalem.

The great Jehovah God is seated on His throne in the celestial heavens and is fully prepared for the heavenly court. Over six thousand years have passed since a serpent — possessed by Lucifer — walked into the garden and deceived God’s perfect couple, Adam and Eve. From the venom of those lies in the garden, sin has touched every offspring of Adam. The upheaval of the earth by the Noahic flood left indescribable scars on a sin-cursed earth. There is not one element of the created world unspoiled by the flood of evil, and it is now time for redemption. The earth must be reclaimed.

The celestial city of Heavenly Jerusalem and its inhabitants are the only untouched geography in the cosmos. This future court will be held in its temple. David must have had a slight view of the location of this seven-year judgment session, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is known in her palaces for a refuge” (Psalm 48:1-3).

The court proceedings that must go forth out of this city demand a Pre-Tribulation Rapture to transfer the saints from their graves or from their lives on earth to fulfill their appointed positions. This earth is the Lord’s and He has appointed it to His saints to posses for eternity. It has been clearly stated that we shall judge this earth, and our removal to this grand event is unquestionably guaranteed. The fight against the Rapture is a last ditch effort from the devil to prevent us from our heavenly task. The proceedings cannot begin until we arrive at our appointed seats before the throne.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Spiritual War of Imagination

(Written by Joseph R. Chambers)
Your mind can easily become the devil’s playhouse. He and his world of dark spirits are masters at imposing their evil influence on top of you. That place at the top is your mental thought life. The human ability to think, dream, and plan is wonderful, even God-like. This is one of the powerful things about our creative abilities. Our great God made us a little like Himself and nothing about us is bigger than our mind, which includes our self-consciousness.

Satan long ago developed and mastered the ability to attack the human consciousness. It is very likely the same method Satan used to deceive the angels and lead them to rebel against the Father. Millions of New Agers brag about taking possession of man’s minds to create what they call mass-consciousness. They project the idea of using their mental powers to lead our world to another level of evolution. They call it the coming “Age of Aquarius.” It is scary even though it is Biblical because they are actually promoting the Antichrist Kingdom.

The Bible has much to say about our thought life. Solomon spoke with God-given wisdom when he said, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7a). Apostle Paul warns us of the desperate need for charity or love that “thinketh no evil” (I Corinthians 13:5b). He spoke of the pure virtues that must fill our thought life, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). Repeat the last four words, “Think on these things.”

David cried out, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). In the first psalm, the Spirit of God gave us the formula of success, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psalm 1:2-3). I have known a host of people that meditate on God’s promises and that is good; but, first, we must meditate on His laws if we are to prosper.

This dangerous hour is a repeat of the spirit of evil that plagued Noah’s generation right before judgment came. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Jesus warned us of this, “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark” (St Matthew 24:38). Apostle Paul described that same period, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves” (Romans 1:21-24). Human imagination that forgets God is like a cesspool that spews vileness to destroy and pollute everything it touches.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Differences between Catholics and Protestants

(from GotQuestions.org)
There are several very important differences between Catholics and Protestants. While there have been some attempts over the last several years to find common ground between the two groups, the fact is that the differences remain, and they are just as important today as they were at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Following is brief summary of some of the more important differences.

One of the first major differences between Catholicism and Protestantism is the issue of the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. Protestants believe that the Bible alone is the sole source of God’s special revelation to mankind, and as such it teaches us all that is necessary for our salvation from sin. Protestants view the Bible as the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. This belief is commonly referred to as “Sola Scriptura” and is one of the “Five Solas” (sola being Latin for “alone”) that came out of the Protestant Reformation as summaries of some of the important differences between Catholics and Protestants.

While there are many verses in the Bible that establish its authority and its sufficiency for all matters of faith and practice, one of the clearest is 2 Timothy 3:16 where we see that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Catholics on the other hand reject the doctrine of “Sola Scriptura” and do not believe that the Bible alone is sufficient. They believe that both the Bible and sacred Roman Catholic tradition are equally binding upon the Christian. Many Roman Catholics doctrines, such as purgatory, praying to the saints, worship or veneration of Mary, etc. have little or no basis at all in Scripture, but are based solely on Roman Catholic traditions. Essentially the Roman Catholic Church’s denial of “Sola Scriptura” and their insistence that both the Bible and their “Sacred Tradition” are equal in authority undermines the sufficiency, authority and completeness of the Bible. The view of Scripture is at the root of many of, if not all, the differences between Catholics and Protestants.

Another major but closely related difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is over the office and authority of the Pope. According to Catholicism the Pope is the “Vicar of Christ” (a vicar is a substitute), and takes the place of Jesus as the visible head of the Church. As such he has the ability to speak “ex cathedra” (with authority on matters of faith and practice), and when he does so his teachings are considered infallible and binding upon all Christians. On the other hand, Protestants believe that no human being is infallible, and that Christ alone is the head of the church. Catholics rely on apostolic succession as a way of trying to establishing the Pope’s authority. But Protestants believe that the church’s authority does not come from apostolic succession, but instead is derived from the Word of God. Spiritual power and authority does not rest in the hands of a mere man, but in the very Word of God recorded in Scripture. While Catholicism teaches that only the Catholic Church can properly and correctly interpret the Bible, Protestants believe that the Bible teaches that God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all born again believers, enabling all believers to understand the message of the Bible.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wealthy Christian Leaders

(Written by Ron Graham)
“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:10.

It can get pretty discouraging, especially in these last days before Christ’s return, as we’re confronted with more and more high profile Christian leaders falling into sinful lifestyles. When I read about both men and women pastoring huge mega churches, or those who are out on evangelistic tours pulling down yearly salaries in the millions, all the while building up fleets of exotic cars, boats, and flying their own personal jets around the world, I’m actually grieved in my spirit. Why? Because almost without fail the next thing we know is they’ve been caught in some kind of scandal, and it is usually of a sexual nature.

It seems that the more money they receive the less attractive lifestyle they lead. Year after year the news reports come in exposing, even detailing, the less than moral lives many of these individuals have been living. Professing Christians – all of them leading huge flocks of parishioners to where? God knows. Without fail, as they are caught in the most compromising of positions, out come the tears and the cries of repentance begging for forgiveness. Have they actually repented and turned away from the sinfulness that got them into the bind they are in? Only God knows. But we as followers of Jesus Christ must make a decision to forgive them and continue to follow this person’s teachings, or to simply move on.

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21, 22. Here Peter refers to a brother sinning against a brother, but these folks are sinning against God and it is God whom they need to ask forgiveness of. Of course God will forgive them but God can see their hearts, He knows if they are truly sincere or not.

The love of money certainly is the root of all evil, of that fact I have no doubt. It seems that many of these folks started out in the most sincere ministries, but as their following grew they became wealthier and wealthier until their lifestyle had made such a change that finally their extremely flamboyant lives demanded they pursue more wealth. Oh sure, they can preach a sermon that draws huge crowds, we’ve all seen the results of their obvious charisma. And they seem to draw folks with some very deep pockets. They are very convincing with their showy, sometimes fiery, sermons, but are these folks actually portraying a Christ-like lifestyle or are they living a “behind the scenes” type of life that if truth be known would have us squirming in our seats?

Was Christ ever rolling in the dough? Did Jesus Christ ever come to a meeting in one of the most expensive modes of transportation of His day, or did he usually walk from the last place He held a meeting? The only time the Bible records Christ as using any mode of transportation other than walking is when He rode on the colt of an ass into Jerusalem and allowed Himself to be worshipped as Messiah.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Behold, I Make All Things New

(Written by Jack Kelley)
And He that sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Rev. 21:5)
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind had conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Cor 2:9).

The Greek word translated new in Rev 21:5 can also mean renewed or restored, and includes circumstances and conditions along with appearance. It’s the same word used in Rev 21:1 referring to a new heaven and a new earth. And Rev. 21:1 is a reference to Isaiah 65:17 where new heavens and a new earth are also mentioned, along with one of the better descriptions of life in Israel during the Millennium. The Hebrew word for new in Isaiah 65:17 comes from a root meaning to rebuild, renew, or repair.

Since Jesus described His 2nd Coming as the renewal of all things (Matt. 19:28), it’s reasonable to interpret Rev. 21 as describing Heaven and Earth being restored to the condition they were in before the fall; refreshed, renewed, repaired and rebuilt for Messiah’s Kingdom. It will be like God hit the reset button to put everything back the way it was at the beginning, giving the Creation a fresh start for the Millennium.

The context of Rev. 20 also supports this interpretation since Rev. 20:7-15 is actually a parenthetical explanation of the ultimate destinies of Satan and the unbelieving world. John was simply bringing his subject to its conclusion before returning to the beginning of the Millennium to describe the New Jerusalem. We know this because John skipped forward to the end of the Millennium in Rev. 20:7 and then returned to open both Rev. 21 (Isaiah 65:17) and Rev. 22 (Ezekiel 47:12) with millennial quotes from the Old Testament.

Israel And The Church In The Millennium

Have you noticed that there’s a lot more information about the nature of the coming Kingdom in the Old Testament than in the New? That’s because even though Christians talk more about the Millennium than Jews do, the fact is that the 1000 year Kingdom of the Messiah is intended for Israel not the Church, and for Earth not Heaven.

Major glimpses of life in the Millennium are found throughout Isaiah (2, 4, 35, 54, 55, 60, 61, 65, 66) Ezekiel (40-48) Joel (3) Amos (9) Micah (4) and Zechariah (14) with other smatterings through out the Old Testament. All we know from the New Testament is found in Rev. 20-22, and even there, portions referring to New Jerusalem describe only our physical surroundings, not our life style.

In the rest of the New Testament, we find only a couple of hints, such as Matthew 19:28and Acts 3:21, because the New Testament concerns Christian life in phase one of the Kingdom of Heaven (before the rapture), not phase two (after it). So we can read much more about life on Earth during the Millennium, than we can about life in New Jerusalem. Those passages are important because they describe the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel, a promise that includes peace (finally) prosperity, land of their own and long happy life with God in their midst, but they’re not written for us.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Hidden Doctrine of The Rapture

(Written by Jack Kelley)
Over time I've received several questions along the line of the following one. “Why do you think that such an important occurrence as the rapture is spoken of so few times and why is it so "hidden" in scripture?”

It's true the rapture is not mentioned very often, at least not directly. In fact, the Greek word from which we get the whole rapture idea appears only 13 times in the New Testament and and even then it comes to us in a roundabout way. The Greek word is harpazo and means to catch up or take by force. In most English translations of 1 Thes.4:17 it's rendered “caught up”. The root from which it comes is haireo which means “to take for oneself.” 1 Thes. 4:17 is the only place the word harpazo refers to the rapture of the Church.

On top of that rapture is an English word that comes from the Latin translation of harpazo which is why you can't find it in your Bible. You would have to read 1 Thes. 4:17 in Latin to see it there. (It appears as rapiemur.) Many people don't realize that for the thousand years preceding the Reformation, the Latin Vulgate was the primary translation of the original Greek texts. It was the standard text longer than any other translation before or since.

Although the concept of the rapture appears through out the Bible it wasn't until about 20 years after the cross that it was described in any detail. This is how Paul could say he was revealing a secret (Listen, I tell you a mystery) when he described it in 1 Cor. 15: 51-53. Together with 1 Thes. 4:15-17 it was the first clear teaching of the rapture in the history of mankind. Only with the benefit of Paul's disclosure can you look back through the Bible and see the many hints of the rapture. (See Rapture References)

There was a good strategic reason to keep all this secret before the cross. Paul spoke of it in 1 Cor 2:7-8. Explaining that his message of wisdom was not taken from the wisdom of the world, he said,

No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Remember, Jesus called Satan the prince of this world (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). Paul thought of him as the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4) and John said the whole world is under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19), so Paul's reference to rulers of this age is not to the High Priest in Jerusalem or Caesar in Rome. He was saying that had Satan and his lackeys understood the extent of the blessings God had in mind for the Church, they would have done everything possible to prevent the crucifixion.

God's Secret Wisdom, Part 1
There are two facets to God's Secret wisdom where the Church is concerned. And as you'll see both require absolute secrecy. The first is the manner in which the Church was brought into the world.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15)

Friday, September 24, 2010

What makes you a Christian?

(Written by Bill Keller)
One of the things that has greatly troubled me recently, is the number of people who say that they believe in God, say that they are a Christian, yet have no problem supporting choices that are clearly defined in God's Word as sin.

My friend, Jesus said it best when He said that "no man can serve two masters." The Christian faith is not a smorgasbord where you can pick and choose what you like. You can't claim to have faith in Christ, yet support the things that the Bible speaks against. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A CHRISTIAN MODERATE, to borrow a political term. Either God is real, or He is not.

Let me first clarify what a Christian is. A Christian is a person who has made the personal choice to ask Jesus to forgive them of their sins, repent (turn away from) of their sins, and ask Christ into their heart by faith (John 3:16, Romans 10:10, Ephesians 2:8,9). It is your personal faith in Christ that makes you a Christian.

The church you belong to cannot save you. Having a priest or pastor baptize you when you were a baby did not save you. Living a good life does not save you. The fact that your parents are Christians cannot save you. Only making the choice to ask the Lord to forgive your sins, repent or turn from your sins, and ask Christ into your heart makes you a Christian.

If this is not something that you have never done, the Bible says that TODAY is the day of salvation. Pray, ask God to open your heart, then go to my blog http://christ-education.blogspot.com/ and look at Blog Archive in May. The article is “How you can become a Christian today”. God has made it so easy, but it is a choice that only YOU can make.

Once you have gotten to this point, the next step is that you MUST accept the Bible as God's inspired, inerrant Word. It is IMPOSSIBLE to be a Christian and not accept the Bible as God's Word. You see, to come to Christ by faith, you have accepted that this is God's plan to give his creation which is separated from Him because of their sin, a way to come back into His everlasting fellowship. This is God's ONLY plan!

That is why faith in Buddha will not save you. That is why faith in Mohammad will not save you. That is why faith in a golden statue will not save you. It is ONLY faith in Jesus Christ that saves you because it was Jesus Christ who God sent to die for your sins! He was God's perfect sacrifice to give fallen man a way back into everlasting fellowship with Him. So if you accept THAT, then you have to accept the ENTIRE BIBLE as God's inspired, inerrant Word. It can't be only part right!

The reason is God cannot lie. The Bible is an all or nothing proposition, it is either ALL true, or NONE of it is true. This is very serious, so please hear what I am saying to you today. You can't live your faith with one foot in the world, and one foot in the church. You either believe it all, or you don't really believe any of it. Either God is true, and we can count on EVERYTHING He says, or God is a liar, and we are the most foolish of all people. My friend, there is NO MIDDLE GROUND.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Women Pastors

(Written by Ron Graham)
“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”( 1 Timothy 2:12-14)

These Bible verses have certainly seen their fair share of controversy over the years. Battles rage over just exactly what Paul meant here and was he just speaking culturally to those folks at that particular time in history? For the answer to that question the Apostle Paul takes us clear back to the book of Genesis.

Many people don’t really have a clue about the deception that took place in the Garden of Eden.
“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1)

First of all we must ask the question “Why did the serpent (Satan) seek out the women to confront with his lies instead of Adam?” Satan brought his temptation against the woman because he perceived she was more vulnerable to attack. This is because she did not receive the command to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil directly from God, but through Adam.

“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eat thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17)

God gave the clear command to Adam. Then, when God created Eve, Adam made God’s prohibition of that particular tree and fruit clear to her. But Eve probably didn’t really pay all that much attention to Adam when he passed on God’s command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because when the serpent (Satan) questioned Eve as to whether or not God said they couldn’t eat of the fruit of that tree, she responded with “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” (Genesis 3:2-3)

We must take notice of the fact that Eve’s knowledge seems to be lacking. She doesn’t name the tree of whose fruit she and Adam were to abstain from eating.

Actually, Eve’s first mistake was in carrying on a discussion with Satan. “The Lord rebuke you” should be our only words as we address Satan. As we can see, Eve’s apparent lack of knowledge makes her all the more vulnerable to deception. She then went from bad to worse as she misquoted the command God gave to Adam. Her words, “Ye shall not eat of it” and “lest ye die” are close enough, but she added to the command and put words in God’s mouth when she said, “neither shall ye touch it.” The major consequence we see that arises from putting words in God’s mouth is we begin to teach the doctrines of men as if they are the commandments of God. “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:9) It’s interesting just how many of mans idiosyncrasies have become doctrinal mandates in our Churches today.

Secondly, Eve was deceived but her husband was not deceived “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression”(1 Timothy 2:14). Satan perceived Eve to be the weaker link in the chain and so he approached her with his lies, sure enough she fell into transgression.

By taking us back to the beginning, Paul precludes any arguments that might arise concerning women teaching or usurping the authority of men as being a cultural issue of that society. Paul’s admonition was not a cultural issue then, nor is it now; it’s God speaking through Paul.

God knew what would happen if women were allowed to teach men and to usurp authority over them. Sure enough, the majority of the cults today were begun by women who have manipulated the scriptures so that they could, without fear of condemnation, rise to positions of authority over men.

I know that I’ll receive a massive amount of letters disputing Paul’s stance on women in a pastoral position. Many will attack me for even suggesting there’s a problem with women being in a position of authority over men. They’ll march out Debra, Esther, Lydia, and Priscilla. None of whom were priests or pastors of Christian Churches. And knowingly or not they will be attacking God.

“This is a true saying, if a man desires the office of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;” (1 Timothy 3:1-2)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Christians living together without Marriage

(Written by Peter Voigt)
Nowadays increasingly, men and women choose to live as husband and wife without being married. It is alarming, that this has also infiltrated the Christian Society all over the world. We are reminded in Paul’s letter to the Romans: “Don’t copy the behaviours and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is”. (Romans 12: 2, New Living Translation)

It seems that more and more worldly behaviours and customs have crept into our Churches and they are tolerated and politely overlooked. Pastors don’t like to upset people, especially church members and think by overlooking such behaviour, it will go away, in time. Some even think that the Church has to go with the trend of time and adjust its attitude, so we can reach more people for Jesus Christ.

Now let us closer examine the whole issue.

What is Marriage?
We know from the Word of God that marriage is a lifelong, exclusive union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife. Scripture says: “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one”. (Ephesians 5: 31, New Living Translation) and in 1 Corinthians 7: 2 it says: “But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.”

God wants us to have a marriage relationship where he can bless the whole family. Outside marriage there is no blessing because God says: “Give honour to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.”

Why shouldn’t couples live together without marriage?
“With the Lord’s authority let me say this: Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopeless confused. Their closed minds are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They don’t care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed.” (Ephesians 4: 17-19, New Living Translation)

Men and women are not to live together as husband and wife, unless they are actually husband and wife. Otherwise living together without being married is sinning. As a Christian we should please God with our daily living and not arouse His anger.

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thought, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, division, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5: 19-21, New Living Translation)