Welcome to Looking Up

The name of this blog is taken from Luke 21:28 where Jesus says: “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

Nineveh’s Repentance & America’s…What?

In the book of Jonah, we learn that God called the prophet to preach repentance to the city of Nineveh.  Famously, Jonah resisted that call and ran as far as he could in the opposite direction.  God demanded obedience and convinced Jonah through his adventure with the whale to go do what he’d been told.

Jonah had good reason in the natural to oppose God.  Nineveh was a mighty city of 120,000 people that was part of the Assyrian empire.  Assyria had the rightly deserved reputation of conquering its enemies by using sheer terror as part of its strategy.  The thought of Assyria marching onto your nation’s doorstep made its victims tremble with abject fear.  In Jonah’s fleshly estimation, Nineveh had no right to escape God’s judgment and wrath.  The best thing for all concerned, particularly Israel, would be for God to pour our utter destruction upon the city.

But God thought otherwise at that particular point in time.  Astonishingly, there were people in that city whom He wanted to reach.  Grudgingly, Jonah traveled to Nineveh, preached his message, and saw the entire city turn from its wicked ways so that God relented of His death sentence.

The pertinent questions for this essay are: Why did Nineveh repent?  How was it even possible for this pagan city to turn to God?  And: How does America compare with Nineveh?

Nineveh in Assyria, in what is now Iraq, was part of the wider Ancient Near East (ANE).  Israel was a tiny part of that larger ANE culture, but oversized in terms of her importance and influence.  Yahweh was Israel’s God, the One true God.  After the Tower of Babel incident, God scattered the peoples, confused their language, created nations, and set His divine sons over those nations.  We see this in Deuteronomy 32:8:

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God.

Because God had essentially gotten fed up with mankind’s rebellious ways, He decided to take a time-out.  Rather than deal with all these disobedient peoples, God took a break after the Tower and required His spiritual sons to point these nations back to Him.  In the meantime, He called out Israel as a special people, which is what Deuteronomy 32:9 tells us:

But the Lord’s portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted heritage.

That didn’t work out so well, which is what Psalm 82 outlines.  However, the point is that the peoples of the ANE knew about God.  He had been integral in the affairs of man since the Garden, the Flood, the Tower, and in the life of Israel since its inception.  Everyone in that surrounding culture knew about Yahweh and what He could do.  It’s simply that He wasn’t the God of these other nations, per se; as far as all of them knew.  The divine son of God placed over a particular nation ended up becoming its god because of the disobedience of these sons as shown in Psalm 82.  In the case of Assyria, that god was Ashur.  Other gods in the ANE were Baal, Molech, etc.

When Jonah came preaching repentance to Nineveh, the people of the city faced a huge decision.  They all knew that Yahweh could do what Jonah claimed.  They’d seen or heard about Yahweh’s judgments in the past.  This was the God who had destroyed the world by the Word of His mouth through the Flood; this was Yahweh who had delivered Israel from Egypt with ten horrible plagues.  The threat that Jonah brought was no idle one.

That was the scenario when Jonah declared that Nineveh had forty days to repent.  Because of all they knew, the people made a wise and informed decision.  And there was true repentance, otherwise God would have destroyed the city, which would have made Jonah quite happy.  The bottom line in Nineveh’s repentance was knowledge of God and of His capabilities.

When we look at our situation comparatively in America, this is one of the many problems I have with the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and its prophetic declarations.  Time and again, NAR’s prophets, through magazines like Charisma, have declared that a great revival is coming to this nation.  When I first began reading this several years ago, it never sat right with me.  Immersed in Bible prophecy as I’ve been, what these folks said ran absolutely counter to my reading and understanding of Scripture.  How could there be this great soul harvest without the Bible telling us about it?  (Actually, it does tell us there will be many turning to Christ, it’s just that they’ll do so during the Tribulation.)

I later learned that many NAR adherents are preterists.  They believe that Biblical prophecy was all essentially fulfilled by 100 AD.  If that was the case, then Revelation is symbolic and not literally applicable to today.  No Revelation – No Tribulation.  In fact, as I understand it, even the Rapture is up for grabs with many NAR people.  With these minor inconveniences out of the way, that makes room for a massive revival and the Christianizing of the world, NAR can take Dominion, and bring about the Kingdom Now.

As far as I can tell, this is all a part of the Biblical illiteracy that has been growing over the years.  Relatively few Christians read the entire Bible.  Many think that if they read a devotional plus the verse of the day, they’re all set and right with God.  Who needs more than that?  Thus, when NAR pastors, apostles, or prophets come along and say that revival is coming, with no mention of the Tribulation, a false understanding of what God intends is foisted upon these unsuspecting NAR followers.

Compounding this is the absolute falling away of America from God.  Our nation has turned secular.  Worse, those people that go to churches other than NAR churches are generally subjected to the social gospel, homosexuality is peachy-keen, and other aberrant teachings which bring forth anything but the true Word of God.

Compared to Nineveh, we’re in big trouble.  Yes, that city was a fraction of our 3.3 million people, but I think we still have to consider the knowledge base.  Whereas probably most of the inhabitants of Nineveh knew about God and feared Him, the percentage of those in America with those same sensibilities are minuscule.  Today, truly, there is only a remnant in America who actually know and fear God.  Yes, of course, God can do anything.  That’s a given.  He can bring a massive revival and not forewarn us in His Word.  But He also reaches the point of no return for a person, a city, a nation, and a world.  (Yes, He even reaches that point with individuals.  See Jeremiah 11:14)

The Tribulation is coming for this world, and America will be cast into the heart of that wrath.  But, here’s the most important promise that God has made that I want to point out.  For those who love Him, He will deliver them from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).  He will keep us from the hour of trial coming upon this entire earth (Revelation 3:10).

We do not have to be afraid.  What we’re currently facing now with the coronavirus, the lockdowns, and the increasing governmental control over daily life are simply pebbles in our path to when Jesus comes back to Rapture His church.  The things we see happening all around us will be magnified many times over in the Tribulation.  Rejoice!  We who love the Lord won’t go through that.

Yes, life is getting more difficult, but we who follow Bible prophecy knew that it would.  Didn’t Jesus say that we as believers would face trials and tribulations?  But again, I say: rejoice!  Because we are seeing and experiencing all these things, His coming is soon.  The leaves on the fig tree are becoming greener.  It will shortly bear fruit.  Even if it’s just with your fingernails, keep hanging on.  It’ll all be worth it.

Prophecy Update: Rapture Snapback Theory

“Houston, we have a problem.”  A potentially serious issue with the Apollo 13 spacecraft back in 1970 caused one of the NASA astronauts to supposedly utter this phrase.  In reality, it was stated in the past tense as “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”  Regardless, it’s famously misquoted and is quite useful to this present article.  Except, I’m going to change that incorrect statement somewhat and keep it in the present tense.

“Remnant Church, we have a problem.”

And what is that problem, you might ask?  Glad to tell you.

It has to do with the exact accuracy of Bible prophecy and the effects of the current coronavirus.

As literally everyone on the planet knows, this pandemic has wreaked financial, economic, and social havoc, except in North Korea (because, you see, it hasn’t affected them whatsoever because their superb medical facilities and unprecedented preventive measures have kept the virus from their country, so says Kim Jong Un – I suppose other nations would have the same results if they shot and killed every person who had the slightest possibility of contracting it – but, I digress).

What COVID-19 has also completely shattered is hope of the very near timing of the Rapture.  What?  That’s silly, you might say.  There is no timing to it as it could happen any time.  It’s imminent.  We even have all the converging signs to assure us of that.

That’s all true, but…

What did Jesus say in Matthew 24:37-39 and Luke 17:26-30 about when the Rapture would happen?

First Matthew:

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Then Luke:

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

Here’s the key to our present dilemma:

they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage

buying and selling, planting and building

In other words, very normal, secular times.  People had no particular cares.  They were living life as they always had.

That, folks, is not this immediate, present time.  What’s going on all around us is very much not normal.  The world is basically shutting down.  There is little buying and selling.  Certainly, no eating and drinking in public.  People everywhere are stockpiling, self-quarantining, and absolutely freaking out.

Sorry to say, but given the fact that Bible prophecy must be exactly fulfilled, the Rapture cannot happen right now.

Another little-known fact is that Russia, Iran, and Turkey are seriously on the outs with each other right now.  They’re all positioned in Syria for their own reasons and will eventually, collectively attack Israel in Ezekiel’s War.  But, not right now.  Of course, it’s true that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, but these guys want nothing to do with each other at the present time.  One big reason is because of the seriousness of the coronavirus in Iran.  No Russian or Turkish soldier in Syria wants to get anywhere near an Iranian for fear of contracting the disease.  So, it seems as if through allowing this virus (I don’t for a minute believe that God brought it as judgment), God is slowing down the Rapture timeline.  Despite the convergence of all the signs we’ve been watching, God appears to be walking back how soon it will happen.

And this is part of the issue at hand.  Many of these signs appear to be at their outer limits.  So much demonic activity, such hate and rage, the amount of false teachings, the number of false prophets, massive numbers of high-intensity earthquakes, locust plagues, extreme Christian persecution.  I liken it to the stretching of a rubber band.  You can only stretch it so far before it breaks.  This was beginning to be the situation with the build-up to Ezekiel’s War, but has that now lessened?  Trump Derangement Syndrome seems to continue unabated, but will the Wuhan virus cause some of these on the Left to reduce their rhetoric?  It doesn’t look good rooting against the president when that causes lives to be lost.  Maybe the tension on the rubber band has been reduced for now.  If so, that seemingly means that the imminence of the Rapture has been pushed back for the time being.

I know this goes against the whole concept that the Rapture could literally happen at any time, but look again at what Jesus said.  The times have to be normal.

Now if some prognosticators are correct, we could have a serious repression or even depression.  In the normal course of those events, recovery can take years: 5 – 10 – 15 years.  According to these financial experts, that’s how long it could take for us to get back to normal.  None of us wants to hear that, and no one who looks for the soon return of Jesus even wants that to be the case.

So, here’s my take on the matter.  I call it the Rapture Snapback Theory©.  There, I just copyrighted it.

In order for the situation around the world to get back to normal where Jesus’ Words are faithfully fulfilled, things need to change dramatically at some point in the relatively near future.  Who knows the timing on that?– not me – but the change would have to be as unprecedented as this whole virus nightmare.  One possibility is that God steps in and does…something that changes the equation.  Perhaps the recent news about the anti-malarial drug chloroquine will be the answer.  Maybe that is the something.  Another is that this government bailout actually works for the time being.  Businesses and individuals all receive massive government funding that keeps us all afloat, the stock market rebounds on such good news, and we all quickly forget the coronavirus.  We put it behind us and get on with that normal life that Jesus describes.

One other idea that has been floated is a debt Jubilee.  Just like the Biblical year of Jubilee when all accounts were set back to zero and no debts remained, wouldn’t it be great if all student loans, corporate loans, and credit card balances were eliminated?  What could be better?  On top of that, send everybody $1,000 or more every month—again, because the government owes everyone a basic living wage and what could be more fair?—and we’d probably be living the utopian life that so many have dreamed of for years.  We’d have the full faith and credit of the federal government behind all these wonderful notions, so what could possibly go wrong?

There is a slight problem with all this money soon to flood the economy in whatever form it may take.  There’s nothing that will back it up.  Among economic circles there’s a concept called Modern Monetary Theory, or MMT.  It essentially says that the Fed can keep pumping out dollars indefinitely with no consequences.  This is the thinking behind the liberal mindset that says the government can and should pay for all these “rights” that we the people are owed by this country, and we can do it with unlimited dollars.

Unfortunately, there is a piper to pay as Weimar Germany found out in the 1920s with this kind of policy when they abandoned the gold standard and began printing money.  Hyperinflation set in, and a loaf of bread cost a wheelbarrow or two worth of deutsche marks.  Things might be good for a while with this kind of MMT thinking, but it never ends well.

But, here’s the bottom line.  I think the economy, the markets, and the way people live, will snapback to some definition of normal in the relatively near term.  God’s got His own timeline for this lost and dying world.  He wants His faithful servants to do their jobs of representing Him as His ambassadors, as the imagers of God as He created us to be.  Additionally, He surely wants as many people to turn to Him in faith as possible, but He does have limits as to how much rebellion and disobedience he’ll tolerate in the world.  The Lord our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He has brought wrath and judgment at the appropriate time in the past, and He’ll do it again.

As faithful followers of Jesus Christ, we should not dismay, nor should we fear.  God is in control.  We can trust Him.  Soon, very soon, Jesus will catch us up to the clouds to be with Him.

Pandemic! Martial Law! Close the Churches!

Just think if Hillary Clinton was president at this moment in time.  Can you imagine the response from the Leftist-Socialist-Marxist crowd given this crisis?  As Rahm Emmanuel famously said, they should never let a crisis go to waste.

President Trump over these last several years has been roundly criticized for wanting to close our borders.  In the wake of the coronavirus, because it originated in China, he put severe travel restrictions on that nation.  That was naturally called racist and xenophobic.  Actually, at this stage, the mere mention of China and foreign and virus by Trump in the same sentence is considered highly inflammatory and nationalistic on his part.

The Democrats are in high dudgeon against Mr. Trump by declaring that THEY have the answers and wouldn’t be as stupid as he in dealing with the situation.  Nothing he can do could ever measure up to their response in a crisis.  Really?

Ten years ago, when the H1N1 swine flu hit this country with President Obama and Vice-president Joe Biden in charge, according to the CDC, some 60 million Americans were infected, with almost 300,000 people hospitalized.  From that epidemic, more than 12,000 people died (https://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/estimates_2009_h1n1.htm).  As Rush Limbaugh asked, “Does anybody remember that?”

The answer is, of course, no.  The reason is because of who was in the Oval Office.  The media is the Left is the media is the Left.  Leftists love big government, and Mr. Obama was the personification of all their hopes and dreams.  To make a huge stink out of so many people dying at the time would have been to criticize the one they loved, adored, and considered a messianic figure, let alone that the government wasn’t truly the answer to the problem.  But that was then and this is now.

If the Left held the reins of power in this nation right now, what might happen?  Already we have major sports leagues postponing parts of their seasons.  The NCAA basketball tournament has been cancelled.  Universities and many other schools have cancelled classes and are going online.  Amusing parks have closed.  Although to date in the United States as I write this, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the official name for the virus, is only 1336 people infected.  Of them 36 have died (https://ncov2019.live/data).  That’s a tragedy and I don’t want to underplay that, but frankly, those are miniscule numbers.  Yes, the virus is highly contagious.  But the media-induced panic seems somewhat misplaced.

Regardless, consider Hillary Clinton in the White House.  The Left has been trying for years to change our electoral process, the latest effort being to delegitimize Donald Trump from the 2016 elections.

What a perfect scenario this would have been for Ms. Clinton.  With the media craze in full bore, I can easily imagine some of the steps she might take.  How about a presidential address from the Oval Office similar to that which Mr. Trump did, but quite different?

“My fellow Americans.  Because of the dangers of the highly infectious COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, which as we’ve recently learned, the United States had a hand in propagating, tonight I am declaring Martial Law in our country.  Effective midnight tonight all U.S. Armed Forces will be on high alert to respond as needed to my orders.  All National Guard units are being called to the ready.  Every police and sheriff’s office around this great nation will be placed under federal jurisdiction.

“We have determined that churches in this country have proven to be ground zero for virus infection and incubation.  Because of this I am ordering all churches in every state, county, and municipality to close and remain closed indefinitely.  By this federal order, and enforced by whatever means necessary, no churches may gather for any reason.  Any violation of this order will result in severe penalties.

In addition, I am issuing an Executive Order that all firearms must be surrendered immediately to federal authorities.  Under Martial Law it is unconscionable that any individuals would have the means to disrupt the peaceful means by which we are getting this virus under control.  When federal agents come to your door asking for your firearms, I expect everyone to comply.  This is a critical and well-reasoned step we are taking for the safety of all in this nation.  Failure in this effort is not an option.  Resistance is futile.

“This is all I have to say for now.  We’ll have many more updates in the days ahead.  Just remember, all these actions that we’re taking are because I care for you.  May whatever god you worship be your guiding light in these dark and troubled days.  Thank you all and good night.”

If this is conceivable, how about some time in the near future when Donald Trump isn’t president anymore and the levers of power are in the hands of the Democrats?  If we’re to believe Bible prophecy—which I certainly do—I think it’s inevitable that the party of wickedness that celebrates the shedding of innocent blood through abortion will hold that position at some point soon.

Maybe it’s not a Hillary Clinton; it almost doesn’t matter who from the Left.  Given a panic situation, of which there will certainly be more as the days grow darker and lawlessness increases, we’ll inevitably have a person of her stripes or worse.

Do you think Martial Law is beyond the pale?  Do you really believe that these people wouldn’t take the first opportunity to shut down Christianity as they know it once they can?  Or that they wouldn’t take our guns?

All this is coming in one form or another.  The Bible tells me so.

For those of you washed by the blood of Jesus and looking forward to His soon return, isn’t that a joyful expectation?

The False Prophets of NAR

In the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), the primary presumption is that God has designated the leaders in this movement as modern-day apostles and prophets.  They lean on Ephesians 4:11-13 for their Scriptural basis:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds [pastors] and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

NAR declares that all of these offices that were operational at the time of the original apostles themselves are to likewise function today.  They imply that from the end of the first century until recently, the church missed this command of God to keep the offices of apostle and prophet going forward.  As a result, NAR is setting it right through the men and women who have been decreed legitimate to hold these sacred positions.  In fact, all churches and all pastors should come under the authority of apostles and prophets in NAR’s thinking

Much can be said about this, but I’d like to simply comment on one aspect.  In the Old Testament, the Lord made some interesting statements about false prophets in Ezekiel 13:

Verse 3: Thus says the Lord God, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!

Verse 6: They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the Lord,’ when the Lord has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word.

Verses 8-9: Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord God. My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations.

Finally, Deuteronomy 18:21-22 has a definitive word:

And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

The words a prophet speaks in the Name of God MUST come to pass.  This is an absolute criterion for a prophet.  Otherwise, as the Ezekiel verses show, the prophets are following their own spirits, having seen false visions and lying divinations.  God has not sent them and they have seen nothing.

The issue of seeing is crucial.  Multiple references in Scripture tell us that true prophets of God actually stood in His presence, among the Divine Council of the heavenly host and witnessed the goings-on in the spiritual realm.

Speaking of false prophets, Jeremiah 23:18 says:

For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord
to see and to hear his word,
or who has paid attention to his word and listened?

A couple of verses later in Jeremiah 23:22, he says:

But if they had stood in my council,
then they would have proclaimed my words to my people,
and they would have turned them from their evil way,
and from the evil of their deeds.

Here is Daniel 7:9 with the same idea:

As I looked, thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire

Similarly, in 1 Kings 22:19, the prophet Micaiah states:

“Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left;”

This is not allegory or symbolism.  True prophets were brought into the very throne room of God.  They stood and saw and heard the interchanges between God and the many spiritual entities present as they spoke and considered what should occur on earth.  It is for this reason that they reported the truth.  They had seen it.  They had heard it.  It came from the mouth of God Himself.

With that in mind, what is that NAR prophets and apostles say regarding their prophecies?  Are you ready?

The New Apostolic Reformation prophets and apostles can misspeak.  They can utter prophecies that do not come to pass.  What they declare may be in error, and that’s okay.

Can anyone see what’s wrong with this picture?

God’s Word says that false prophets follow their own spirits or have been given lying spirits from the unseen realm.  Obviously, if they had actually stood in the presence of God, they would have reported the truth.  Since they speak that which God has not declared, they do not stand in His heavenly throne room and witness the interchanges among the spiritual beings who are present.

A single false prophecy disqualifies a prophet from being of God.  If the word does not come to pass, the Lord has not spoken it and the prophet is speaking presumptuously.

Just to be fair (kind of), some of the NAR luminaries have said that they have visited Jesus and spent time in heaven.  If this is so, then how is it that these same teachers bring unbiblical concepts to their people (of which, there are many, among them: eschatological heresies about God’s kingdom, the seven-mountain mandate, prayer walking to dismantle territorial strongholds, healing can be taught, and so on)?  Wouldn’t they quake in their boots presuming to bring such false ideas?  Just asking.

What about NAR apostles?  One of the key tests of a New Testament apostle was that he walked with Jesus and saw the risen Christ.  Paul was the sole exception as one born out of time, and he was clearly labeled an apostle in Scripture.  Do any of these NAR folks who claim apostleship have this distinction of having interacted with Jesus in these circumstances?  Somehow, I doubt it.

Given the Word of God, NAR has a problem.  Very likely, the vast majority (if not all?) of their prophets and apostles who presume to speak for God are false.  They may get some things right, but one single false prophecy, and the prophet is false.  This demolishes the entire structure of their movement.  They are leading many people astray by pretending to come in the Name of the Lord.  It’s a dangerous situation.  Those who follow these false prophets are likely to become scattered sheep without a true shepherd.  The men and women leading this movement taking these titles are placing themselves in great jeopardy with God.  God judges leaders more strictly than others.  The Word says that those who mislead will be judged harshly.

When we come up against this deviant movement, we need to stand against it, call the leaders out, and urge those who follow NAR teachings to repent.  Otherwise, we who have this knowledge and don’t use it are like the watchman who doesn’t sound the alarm (Ezekiel 33:6).

The New Apostolic Reformation is a danger to far too many churches.  It needs our Godly and educated opposition.

Why Calvin’s Total Depravity is Wrong

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Calvin’s total depravity as follows:

Definition of total depravity: a state of corruption due to original sin held in Calvinism to infect every part of man’s nature and to make the natural man unable to know or obey God.

In one sense this definition is correct.  Total depravity comes from original sin. However, in the Garden, man became sinful; our DNA was effectively infected with sin, but we did not become depraved.  Sin is what we are and what we do. Depravity is something one moves into or becomes. It is a state beyond sin. Yes, Calvin is correct: total depravity is the result of corruption.  But we are not naturally depraved, or the Bible would have told us so.

What Scripture tells us is that certain actions or practices are depraved.  Here are several examples:

Leviticus 18:17 – “You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and of her daughter, and you shall not take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter to uncover her nakedness; they are relatives; it is depravity.

Leviticus 19:29 – “Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, lest the land fall into prostitution and the land become full of depravity.”

Leviticus 20:14 – “If a man takes a woman and her mother also, it is depravity; he and they shall be burned with fire, that there may be no depravity among you.”

1 Timothy 6:5 – “and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”

Note that depravity arises from things people do or believe.  It might be specifically prohibited fornication, or prostitution, or sex beyond marriage with one person.  Depravity comes from people deprived of the truth.

The original source of depravity came from the fallen sons of God, divine spiritual beings who rebelled against Him.  We see this first in Genesis 6:1-4:

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.  And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.  There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

Look at what Jude 6-7 says about this:

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.  Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Prohibited sexual activity by God’s disobedient spiritual sons led mankind into this depraved condition.  To eliminate the depravity, God brought the flood after seeing the result of this wickedness: Genesis 6:5 shows us:

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.

Depravity has been with us since those days.  Because of the fallen spiritual entities succeeding those that God punished, depravity continued its spread among mankind.  Paul wrote to describe what happens to those who give into sin: it evolves. For those who like evolution, this is a good example.  Creatures of one kind don’t evolve into another kind, but sin evolves into depravity with the right spiritual darkness behind it. Here is what Paul says in Romans 1:18-32:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

So, a depraved mind comes through a two-part process.  Effectively, it’s an if-then proposition. If people turn from God and embrace the worst of their sinful inclinations, they become filled with futile anti-God thinking; then, as a result, God allows, or gives them over, to the condition of a debased, reprobate, or depraved mind.  This opens them to every evil manner of behavior imaginable. Although Paul doesn’t state this, I think it’s unavoidable that this willingness to live in rebellion against God, also enables every kind of demonic intrusion that’s out there.  After all, as we know, one is either a child of God or a child of their father, the devil. Being God’s children—in Christ—we mirror the heart of God. In this deprived condition, people are simply mirroring the heart of Satan.

The other thing that’s apparent in the evolving fall into depravity is that sexual sin is prominent.  Presumably, there may be instances where someone becomes depraved in their thinking without having engaged in various sexual activities noted in Genesis, by Jude, or by Paul; but one who lusts after strange flesh—whatever the manner—is a likely candidate for this condition.  Whether it’s God’s rebellious sons from His heavenly family or those disobedient sons and daughters in His earthly family, fornication can have deadly consequences. To satisfy that inordinate, forbidden lust, people do more and worse unnatural acts. It results in a lifestyle wholly devoted to destruction of self and everyone around the person.  In this state, it’s highly unlikely that someone can be redeemed. Certainly, there was no chance of that for the fallen angels. They earned everlasting chains in perpetual darkness. Odds are that humans following this path will join them for eternity.

The bottom line is that sin has consequences.  If sin is left unchecked, a person turns from God.  In that anti-God condition, the person’s heart becomes darkened.  A depraved mind results. The person embraces evil and that’s his final state.  He takes that black heart and the consequences of all his wickedness into eternal damnation.

Calvin was wrong.  We’re not totally depraved in our initial sinful condition.  We have the opportunity to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ and choose life in Him.  We’re not completely helpless, because God gave us free will.  Through His grace and how He made us in His image, everyone has the possibility of an eternity in His presence until they reach the point of totally rejecting God.

Thank you, Lord, that You have such mercy for all whom You love.

Spiritual Authority & Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Ever since reading about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, there’s been one aspect of his life and service to the Lord that’s bothered me.  We know Bonhoeffer best through his book The Cost of Discipleship.  It’s here where Bonhoeffer discusses the price that must be paid to serve God in challenging and difficult times.  And how hard that can be! Bonhoeffer wrote the book as a response to the persecution that had come upon Germany during the period of Adolph Hitler’s rule in the 1930s and 1940s, and how Christians must follow God’s way at all costs.

Hitler had appropriated Christianity.  He had subverted the churches. The leaders of those churches had submitted to him, and declared that to follow Hitler and the tenets of his Third Reich were compatible with Christianity.  It was total capitulation of the churches by their pastors. In response, Bonhoeffer became part of what was known as the Confessing Church, i.e. the church that confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and did not bow its knee to the governmental, secular rulers, despite their claiming the mantle of Christianity.

As an aside, it was this claim by Hitler to be Christian and then kill six million Jews in gas chambers, which to this day, is one of the major factors that has made Jews associate Christians with those who persecute them.  In reality, Hitler used the title of Christian but followed occult practices.  There are numerous accounts of Hitler and his top echelon that detail how they practiced witchcraft and sorcery by various means.

Bonhoeffer is considered an admirable figure, and rightly so.  He ended up being martyred for his faith, ironically being hanged within hours of deliverance by the Allied Forces.

Now, let’s shift eras for a moment back to the time of David and Saul.  Saul had been chosen king over Israel by the people, not by God. David was anointed king by God.  However, David’s time to rule hadn’t yet come. Saul knew of David’s call and was jealous. He did all that he could to kill his rival and pursued him throughout Israel.

During this time, David had several opportunities to eliminate the threat of Saul to his own life and that of his men.  Yet, in each instance, David wouldn’t do it. He was a man after God’s own heart. Rather than act as circumstances seemed to warrant and kill Saul, David simply demonstrated to Saul that he could have slain him but never did.  He left the vengeance of his enemy to the Lord. He allowed God to act in His own timing as He would. He gave the Lord the latitude to handle Saul; in other words, David put his life in God’s hands (1 Samuel).

Similarly, in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 13 that we who believe in and follow the Lord Jesus Christ must submit to the governing authorities.  He wrote this during the time of Nero, who terribly persecuted Christians.

Yet, we also know from Paul’s declaration in Acts 5:29 that we must obey God and not men when confronted with evil.  We are to adhere to God’s ways. We must not actively participate in evil, rather resist it, because acting according to God’s principles is our duty before Him.

The issue in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life that has troubled me is this:  Bonhoeffer took part in a plot to assassinate Adoph Hitler. Since becoming a Christ-follower and reading about this, I’ve struggled with how to rationalize what he did.  Should Bonhoeffer have participated in this attempt to eliminate the terrible threat that Hitler posed, not only to Germany, but to the entire world? Was Bonhoeffer justified in this?

It’s a thorny question.  If we believe Paul and the way that he says we should walk, and if we believe that all authority is under God’s divine sovereignty, then the answer is no.  Proverbs 21:1 says that:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.

God is in control.  It’s not as if He’s surprised when rulers arise that subjugate His people.  It’s not as if He can’t act in such a way that, perhaps after some amount of persecution, He will deliver those who love Him from the hands of their enemies.

Does this mean we should be passive in the face of evil?  No, we have to demonstrate God’s will and His way. We should pray against evil and take a bold stand against it in all its forms.  Does this mean we should bear arms or engage in assassination plots against wicked rulers? Yes and no. Perhaps, the decision comes down to personal action against a leader such as Hitler versus generally taking up arms against an enemy.

What would God have us do?  What is God’s heart? To protect the innocent, the poor, the widow, and the fatherless.  God had His people fight for their land after He brought them out of Egypt. That appears to be acceptable in His eyes.

Bonhoeffer was trying to come against a man whom God had allowed to rule.  The bottom line is that he probably shouldn’t have participated in this plot.  Just like David, he should have let God be God and divinely orchestrate the circumstances.  In the end, the plot failed, yet Hitler came to a much deserved fate. However, Bonhoeffer suffered consequences for his actions as well.

We need to act according to God’s principles, not as we in our flesh view the circumstances.  If we allow God to rule, and we place all things in His hands, the likelihood is that we’ll always be better off.  God is sovereign. He is in control.

Prophecy Update: What’s Next?

Two major events happened recently which appear to have significant prophetic implications.  In this essay, I want to suggest the possible ramifications flowing from these events. Of course the caveat applies that the author has no special revelations from God, only the speculative imagination that comes from being a fiction author.

Event Number One is the peace deal which the Trump Administration unveiled to bring a resolution to the issue that has bedeviled the Middle East since Israel came back together as a nation in 1948.  From the beginning, the Arab states surrounding Israel attempted to destroy her. In that effort, the “Palestinian” “refugees” became a cause célèbre among those countries that encircle Israel, as well as the United Nations and anyone who hates God.  By the way – “Palestinian” is a word that deserve quotes in the last sentence, as there are no real Palestinians. They are a made-up people group. “Refugees” gets the same quotation mark treatment because after three generations of so-called refugees, there should be none.  In fact, President Donald Trump declared that the United States would no longer provide funding to UNRWA – the United Nations relief organization that has continued to prop up the Palestinian myth. UNRWA treated these so-called refugees as a permanent class of citizens, which has never happened with any other true refugee group.

Personally, I believe the peace deal is problematic.  Regardless of how beneficial it may be to Israel, there is still an aspect to the deal that separates her land.  This has repercussions to those simply involved in the planning, as well as to Israel herself. Beyond this, however, it is highly unlikely that the Palestinians will agree to the deal.  Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, declared it dead on arrival without even reading the plan. More pertinent is the saying that Arabs have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.  This declaration has been refined in recent years to apply to the Palestinians and their futile efforts to gain credibility on the world stage. They have a history of shooting themselves in the foot in their intransigent stance that Israel must be wiped off the map.

The peace deal basically gives the Palestinians four years to agree to its terms, or Israel receives all the plan’s benefits without giving up anything.  Either way Israel wins and the Palestinians lose. It is this fact that, I believe, will eventually trigger the Psalm 83 War.

I’ve mentioned in essays previously that I agree with Bill Salus’s proposal that Psalm 83 isn’t a completely fulfilled prophecy.  Yes, Ezekiel’s War is coming, but the fact that Ezekiel doesn’t include any nations surrounding Israel as those that participate in the attack is problematic to me.  There are too many hostile players, including Hamas and Hezbollah, not to mention all the “Palestinian” “refugees,” whom I can’t see staying on the sidelines in any contest that involves Israel.

The Palestinian situation has to come to a head and be resolved.  A Psalm 83 War appears to be the best means for that. Additionally, with a resounding defeat, all these surrounding nations to Israel become completely feckless.  It will be the first strike against Islam that will provide additional peace and security to Israel, perhaps giving her greater land mass than today in victory, and further setting her up to be attacked by the Big 3 Coalition of Russia, Iran, and Turkey, perhaps not all that long following the Psalm 83 debacle.  This will be the 2nd strike against Islam and its death knell.

Event Number Two is the Trump Impeachment Fail.  Speaking of feckless, the Democrat contenders in the presidential race are that, and more.  They have shown their true colors and demonstrated to the world how Leftist, socialist, Marxist, communist, radical they are.  They hate God, and He is already bringing great delusion upon them. They are Romans 1 on steroids. More than that, I believe, because they have spurned God to the extent they have, many of the progressive Left are likely demon-possessed.  If you’ve ever seen any videos of some of these people in their “hate Trump” mode, they are literally spewing foul, demonic vitriol. They cannot help themselves being in the grip of that which controls them. It’s frightening to see, but incredibly sad that people have moved so far from their Creator.

Trump is surging in popularity, as even old-school Democrats are finally waking up that their party is not what it used to be.  It has left them far behind, and many are seeing the good things that President Trump has done. This will result in a landslide victory for Donald Trump in November.

Regrettably,, this will cause the Left to lose its collective mind even more.  We’ve seen how the Democrats in the House of Representatives cannot help themselves lying and accusing Trump of more and more outrageous things.  This won’t stop. When Trump wins, the cycle will gain greater imperative to somehow remove him from office.

All this prominent hate has the effect of ginning up those who have no idea what the truth is.  These people absorb that which is reported in the mainstream media and are useful idiots to those in power.  Notice how some in these ranks initiate unprovoked attacks on anyone they deem unfit, i.e. Christians, conservatives, and Trump supporters.  This is extremely dangerous and will become a highly volatile situation following the Trump victory.

We already have those in higher positions calling for the aforementioned groups to be killed or sent to re-education gulags.  Perhaps you’ve seen the Bernie Sanders campaign worker in the Project Veritas video where he calls for these very actions. The possibility of civil war will increase in these coming days.  In fact, it could be this very thing that causes the United States to become a useless ally of Israel as we see in Ezekiel 38:13, if indeed we are among the “young lions” that protest the invasion but do nothing:

Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?

When we talk about the convergence of signs leading to the coming of Jesus, these two events discussed here are certainly among them.  The days are indeed evil and will grow progressively more so. It’s difficult to watch, especially knowing that many of our loved ones will be among those who miss the Rapture because they’ve refused to surrender their lives to the One who can save them.  Yet, we know that God is merciful. He has promised to remove us from the terrible Tribulation to come. Perhaps He will convict some of these we pray for, and they will join us as we meet Jesus in the air.

Indeed, Jesus is coming soon!

The $100 Challenge

Have you taken the $100 challenge with your faith?  Some ambitious secular people do it when they determine they will pursue success at all costs.  Maybe it’s something we should consider doing to pursue a life in Christ.

Some years ago a fledgling,and highly ambitious, stock market trader by the name of Minervini challenged a friend as they rode together in a car.  Minervini was so motivated to succeed at his chosen profession that he declared $100 was nothing if he really intended to make it big. Clutching onto $100 was petty; it was scarcity thinking.  To think big and really go after all he desired in life meant that he had to let go of everything that kept him from the financial greatness he knew could be his. He had to believe in himself so much that a lousy $100 meant nothing.

Minervini proved to his friend that he was dead serious.  He actually had $400 in his pocket. Four hundred dollars or $100, it didn’t matter.  He took out all those bills and let them fly out the window. The scarcity mindset that had kept him constrained was a thing of the past.  He applied himself to his work and became wildly successful and immensely rich. Author Jack Schwager chronicled Minervini and his $100 challenge in a 2001 book titled Stock Market Wizards.  His friend didn’t take Minervini up on his challenge that day.  He couldn’t see past the $100 to a life of abundance, so he never came anywhere close to achieving what Minervini did.

When I read about this, it struck me that far too many Christians have this scarcity mentality.  Not about money, but about the abundance found in Christ alone. In America and other first world countries, we have a pretty good life.  Even the poorest among us have far more than the majority of people living in third world nations, where making $30-60 per month is the norm.  As Christians, we have the luxury of going to a nice church building every week and worshiping without any concerns about persecution. We put in the offering plate what’s comfortable to us, not usually stretching our finances.  Even the least of us likely has one car and air conditioning.

These and other aspects of life and faith have led us to a place where Jesus is simply one more piece of the puzzle of life.  He’s a part of what we do, but usually at the periphery. The sad thing is that many of us resemble the rich young ruler in many respects.  We check off the boxes, saying, “Yep, I’ve got that covered. Oh, that one, too.” And, “ I think I’m good to go with my faith.”

But, if pressed like that wealthy young man, how would we respond?  If Jesus came up to any of us on the street and said to follow Him, but, by the way, we have to live like the homeless, would we do it?

In the poor backwater nations that have so little, it’s not as much of a stretch for people there to give up possessions, since they don’t have any to speak of.  Their challenge in one respect is more difficult because it’s more personal. When a Muslim or a Hindu, or someone of almost any other faith, chooses to trust in Jesus, a lot more is at stake than nice clothing or a substantial bank account.  In those countries, their religion is part of their identity. To turn one’s back on Islam or Hinduism or even the worship of one’s ancestors is to insult their family and bring shame on them. Most of these are shame-based cultures, as opposed to our western, guilt-based culture.  The shame of one in the family extends to all. Thus, to turn one’s back on Muhammad, for instance, and to follow Jesus Christ is to bring immense shame to the entire family.

For being the cause of this shame, the person who brought it must have correction.  Often it’s severe pressure, such as being locked in a room for months. With many former Muslim Background Believers (MBB), it means they become the object of extreme verbal abuse or phyiscal torture.  In many instances it can mean a death sentence. This is often true regardless of the religion outside of Christianity.

Making the choice for Christ is a life-changing event in these areas of the world.  It’s so difficult and produces such angst that it sometimes takes months or years for people to step over the line and publicly declare their new faith.  In other words, it’s very costly to become a true Christian. MBBs and others coming to Christ realize the cost. Yet, they count it and declare it all joy.

People in this situation have taken the $100 challenge.  They realize the scarcity of their former way of life in the faith they practiced.  To follow Christ, they symbolically empty their wallets and let fly $100 or whatever amount they have.  They’ve decided to go “all in.”

How much are we willing to commit to truly live in Christ the way He has commanded us?  Are we holding tightly to this world and the things we have?  If so, we’re no different than that poor little rich boy. Jesus said in Matthew 19:23-24 to his disciples:

“Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Maybe it really is harder to give up our riches and our lifestyle than it is to face persecution.  Are we holding loosely to this life with our eyes on Christ and yearning for His soon return? Of course, we have a strong will to live, but as aliens in a strange land, are we just as happy whether we live to work for Jesus here or to go home to be with Him?

It makes a difference, because it defines whether we’re in this world or simply of the world.

Charles Spurgeon, in commenting on Philippians 4:12, where Paul says, I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound, wrote:

There are many who know “how to be abased,” but they have never learned “how to abound.”  When they reach the pinnacle of success they become dizzy and are ready to fall off. Christians disgrace their Lord far more in prosperity than in adversity.  It is dangerous to be prosperous. The crucible of adversity is not as severe a trial as the gold pot of prosperity….When we are full and forget God, we become satisfied with earth and forget heaven. 

Perhaps, if we choose to take the $100 challenge of faith and truly trust Jesus completely, we would actually experience life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10), just like Minervini in his secular pursuit when he tossed his money to the wind.  Except, we’d have the real thing.

A Chance Encounter With a Sister in Christ

Away from our normal environs, my wife and I were walking on a Florida beach late in the afternoon when I spotted a younger asian lady sitting alone, reading what could only be a Bible.  I resolved on our way back that I would stop and talk with her.

When we returned some twenty minutes later, as my wife continued her quest to find pennies (and more) in the wave-washed sand, I approached the young lady, saying I noticed that she was reading the Bible.  We both confirmed we were believers, then she asked what church I attended. She wasn’t familiar with the Assemblies of God, which was curious given its worldwide size and scope.

I learned that Kathy [not her real name] was from a southeastern asian country and had been in the U.S. for several decades.  She was raised Roman Catholic in her home country, and that’s where the conversation took off. God brought Kathy out of Catholicism, but early on she became enamored with the Word of Faith movement that her sister was part of in a home church.

During this time, Kathy began reading the Bible and saw discrepancies with what the leaders in her little church proclaimed and that which the Word of God said.  Eventually, she left that church despite her sister continuing to believe its tenets.

During our discussion, we talked about the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) into which she (I believe rightly) lumped her Word of Faith church.  She was quite familiar with the declarations of its leaders that they are apostles and prophets, in contradiction to how Scripture portrays church leadership with pastors, elders, and deacons going forward into this Church age.  Likewise, Kathy commented on the NAR beliefs that they will Christianize the world so as to make the way for Jesus to return, and their thinking that they can literally direct God to heal at their command. The absurdity of these ideas is that not a single passage can be found that supports them, yet hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people follow NAR teachings around the world.

Yes, Jesus will return, soon, but not because of the works that NAR’s apostles and prophets, and all their followers, do.  It will be in God’s timing for the redemption of Israel, and because the world has reached the point of no return from its sin and depravity.  Likewise, if the NAR movement is so in line with God’s will, why don’t all these amazing men and women of God empty out the hospitals? If it’s God’s will for all of us to be healed, and these apostles and prophets are on the cutting edge of that, surely God would immensely bless their efforts to eradicate doctors, wouldn’t He?

We spoke briefly about Catholicism and the problems with its Jesus AND theology.  To be saved, you need Jesus and participation in so many masses.  You need Jesus and purgatory to cleanse you of all your sins.  Jesus dying on the cross didn’t finish the work of restoring us to God.  Grace through faith alone in Christ alone simply isn’t sufficient to reach heaven in the Catholic church.  Reading the Bible showed all this clearly to Kathy. In addition, we sadly agreed that the Catholic church is the most likely candidate for the dubious honor of the harlot who rides the beast in Revelation 17.

The other fun little aspect of my discussion with Kathy was that she’s a pre-Trib believer, because that’s what the Bible says!  We did a high-five on that and had a good laugh.

How often do you go somewhere and see a person reading God’s Word?  Not often these days. Can you blame me for my curiosity? And from that we had a discussion that encouraged both of us.  That’s worthy in itself with so much darkness closing in around us.

Finding someone reading the Bible may be a thousand (million?) to one shot.  There are certainly better odds coming across an unbeliever, but that a different story, and certainly a conversation poles apart from this one.  However, if that unique person reading the Bible does cross your path, I recommend that you engage them. Take that step. You might have a pleasant conversation with a brother or sister in Christ, and walk away with a sense of joy and peace.

Scoffers & Mockers Then & Now

Back in Ezekiel’s day, he faced much scoffing and mocking when he brought forth the Word of the Lord.  Despite being so faithful to God and being a conduit for many messages to the Israelites, their constant scorn of God’s prophetic Word had to weigh on Ezekiel.  To reassure him, God spoke extensively about those who chose to ignore Him and make light of the Word His prophet brought forth.  In Ezekiel 12:21-28, here is God’s declaration and warning:

And the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, what is this proverb that you have about the land of Israel, saying, ‘The days grow long, and every vision comes to nothing’? Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will put an end to this proverb, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.’ But say to them, The days are near, and the fulfillment of every vision. For there shall be no more any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. For I am the Lord; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, but in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it, declares the Lord God.”

 And the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, ‘The vision that he sees is for many days from now, and he prophesies of times far off.’ Therefore say to them, Thus says the Lord God: None of my words will be delayed any longer, but the word that I speak will be performed, declares the Lord God.”

In these verses we hear God’s tone.  He’s angry at the people who don’t believe.  They’ve said that whatever God might have declared isn’t for today; that the prophecies might happen sometime in the future – maybe.  And God makes it clear: Enough!  He will perform His Word, and it will happen soon.

In reading this, it struck me how similar the situation was when Peter wrote his second epistle.  Compare the above with 2 Peter 3:1-7 where he says:

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

It’s said that history repeats itself, which seems relatively true.  In addition, events in the Bible often have near-term and long-term fulfillment, often described as a telescoping effect.  Ezekiel’s prophecy was for then.  Peter’s prophetic word was for then.  But both seem quite applicable to the situation we’re experiencing today.

Those of us who believe in a pre-Tribulation Rapture continue to speak and warn: “Come to the Lord.  He is merciful and just.  Choose life through His Son, Jesus Christ.  We’re in the final days of the latter times.  Jesus’ Words in Matthew 24 and in Luke 17 and 21 are coming to pass.  The convergence of signs foretold makes the situation urgent.  Repent, and call on the Name of the Lord!”

But people ignore our pleas.  They scoff that all this was supposed to happen in the 70s, 80s, or 90s.  Since nothing occurred then, nothing will happen now.  It’s all a myth.

In promoting a book on Facebook of my collected essays and devotionals that I regularly post on my blog, many of which have appeared on Rapture Ready, I received less than complementary comments from a couple of individuals—just for the fact of having such a book.  One, who seemed to be an atheist, I had to ban from my page for esthetic reasons.  His Facebook page included many derogatory Christian references.  The other fellow, by the name of David, espoused some beliefs that capture well the attitude of mocking and scoffing in these last days.  David’s Facebook page says that he graduated with a religious education.

I had a little back and forth with David until it grew tiresome.  Below, I’m including his various comments—unedited—so you can see the aberrant so-called Christian thinking in the world that is full of mocking and scoffing.  So as not to make this essay too long, I’m not including my comments to him.  Suffice it to say that I tried unsuccessfully to point him to actual Bible truth.

David’s comments:

  • “the end times”. OMG indeed, God spare us from these cranky beliefs.
  • When the scribes accused Jesus for saying that he was the Son of God, he quoted Isaiah, where it is stated, “I have said, Ye are Gods, all of you.” His point was that OT Scripture itself records that all men and women are gods, or potential gods, meaning Sons and Daughters of God, a part of the One God just as he was and is.You are seeking an easy-peasy way out of life – just to “accept Jesus” and then you are supposedly “saved” by such an easy feat. And this is false theology.We are in fact all potential and will-be fully Sons and Daughters of God, Jesus having been a mortal man just as we are who grew by self-effort into the full Son he was. The true spiritual Path is that every individual has to, by full self-effort, become closer and closer to God in Wisdom, Love, and Unity until we are all that Jesus was.

    These are not “end times”, silly man. Do plan on a long and full life for yourself. And also plan on humanity existing for untold thousands of years to come. Which is why we need to indeed plan for future centuries and look after our planet today. Because we’re going to be here on it for a long time.

  • I choose the actual and real God, the ONE GOD Who actually lives in YOUR heart and gives you life, and is your real Identity, as that GOD is the real inner nature of each person. But you have not yet grown in spiritual discernment out of the old-fashioned, illogical and irrational theology which in fact Jesus never taught. Your spiritual future and progress depends upon you, yourself – not the “vicarious atonement” via a saviour. Jesus expects you to do it all, in every thought, word, and deed, and to achieve and accomplish your own deep and genuine spirituality. It is achieved step by step, bit by bit, by oneself, as every saint has proven.
  • Well, I hope and trust that you have a good and healthy life…. and when you get to about eighty, as people have had to do for almost untold centuries, you might finally realise that your theology of a “saviour” appearing in the clouds in a second coming is not going to happen. “For behold, the kingdom of God is within you”. It will always have been there, inside yourself, waiting for you to birth it and expand it.

According to David, we are gods and simply have to seek this self-realization.  There’s nothing special about Jesus, and He’s certainly not returning for His people in the Rapture.  For all of us who believe that, dream on!

Not only do we have so many who disbelieve God’s Word, but a large group who twist it to their own purposes.  Ezekiel experienced this, and in Ezekiel 13:3,6,8 God didn’t mince any words:

Thus says the Lord God, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!

 They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the Lord,’ when the Lord has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word.

 Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord God.

But false prophets didn’t just plague the Israelites in Ezekiel’s day.  They’ve been with us ever since.  Look at Matthew 7:15-23 where Jesus said:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

God is against such devious men and women who claim to speak His Word.  Their fabricated utterings earn them a dark and terrifying end where God says that He never knew them, despite their supposedly speaking for Him.

The group today that most resembles this situation is the apostles and prophets in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).  They declare new revelation from God; they ensnare people who come to depend on them for a fresh word from Him.  In their schools, conferences, and massive rallies, they more than likely open demonic pathways with their teachings that, when examined, closely align with those of the occult.  When we look at how the NAR apostles and prophets operate, it’s through pride.  They seek power, control, and money.  Is it any wonder that Jesus wants nothing to do with them?

We live in an astonishing period right now where God’s Word is being fulfilled at a rapid pace.  The prophecies of God are happening right now before our very eyes.  More and more people are scoffing and mocking.  It’s the enemy’s way of trying to discourage God’s people so that they’ll back down.  Instead, we need to act more boldly.

Hebrews 12:12 encourages us to:

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

Now isn’t the time for retreat.  Let us occupy and be about the Lord’s work.  He is coming soon!