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!

How Preterism Leads to NAR Thinking

Preterism is an eschatological position that believes all or most Bible prophecy was fulfilled by the end of the first century.  A couple of years ago some friends from our church spent a week at Bethel Church in Redding, CA, bought a book on partial-preterism from the Bethel bookstore, and recommended I read it since I’m into Bible prophecy and end-times events.  From the very first, I took copious notes in my reading and pretty much disagreed with everything the author conveyed.  I gave the book back to my friends, saying it wasn’t something I could swallow.

I haven’t done a whole lot with preterism since then, other than to generally link the preterist position with NAR, since Bethel is one of the leading proponents of the New Apostolic Reformation.  If Bethel is carrying a book on preterism, there’s a good likelihood they favor that position.

In my daily exercise time, I often watch teachings on YouTube.  One came up that I thought I’d try, as I had listened to something else this pastor preached on, and it was quite instructive.  This particular message was instructive as well, but in a much different way.

The pastor prefaced his church sermon with a message to the video audience.  One thing he mentioned was that he hoped people would go to a good reformed church.  Well, that raised my spiritual antennae.

Lately I’ve seen that there is often an affinity between reformed theology and the embracing of Calvinist thought that says everything is predestined and caused by God.  In this thinking, there is no free will.  Thus, all things that happen are the result of God’s sovereign will and declaration.  When this idea is examined and taken to its logical conclusion, this means that God has even caused evil in the world.  It completely discounts and negates free will.  Those who are saved are the elect and are able to be that way only through the sovereign hand of God.  Likewise, since there is no choice in Calvinism, people who aren’t saved are predetermined by God that they will go to hell.  Sorry, can’t swallow that one either.

So, my feelers were out in listening to this message.  Sure enough, as this pastor preached on Matthew 24 and the Olivet Discourse, he placed all events back in the time of Jesus.  It was in his speaking on verses 38-44 that his reasoning flummoxed me:

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 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 two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Now I guess there may be disagreement among pre-Tribulation believers as to whether the event, where men and women taken from the field or grinding, represents the Rapture or the final harvest by the angels at the end of the age (Matthew 13:39).  I tend to believe it’s the Rapture, since Jesus is comparing the incident to the time of Noah.  It’s sudden.  No one knows when it will occur.  That’s more representative of the Rapture to me than the final harvest, since that time will be generally known given everything else that’s happening in the Tribulation timeline.

But here’s the thing that got me in this pastor’s explanation.  First, he equates Jesus’ description of these taken away with the destruction that occurs during Noah’s time in the flood and with Lot at Sodom and Gomorrah.  So far, so good.  However, in this pastor’s view, the people killed are those snatched away.  In Noah’s instance, those destroyed by the flood were the ones taken.  According to this man’s thinking, Noah wasn’t delivered out of judgment in the ark, which pre-Tribbers would normally associate with the Rapture.

Similarly, with Lot we see in Luke 17:28-30:

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.

According to this pastor, Lot’s deliverance wasn’t a result of him being saved by the angels and delivered from annihilation.  His rationale was that the unbelievers in those cities were overcome with destruction, and thus snatched away.  What pre-Trib adherents see as Lot being kept from harm by a symbolic Rapture, is completely turned on its head.

In these examples, the ones saved were left behind to continue God’s work on the earth.  Now, that’s true as far as it goes; the problem is exactly that however, i.e. where it goes.  I believe it’s this thinking that leads to NAR anti-eschatological beliefs.

NAR is Dominionist, Kingdom Now thinking.  In this theology, there can be no imminent Rapture because Christians have much work to do on the earth.  We are to completely take back the culture by ascending to the top of its Seven Mountains:

1) Education
2) Religion
3) Family
4) Business
5) Government/Military
6) Arts/Entertainment
7) Media

Christians are to take back these seven sectors of society in order to transform and take dominion over the earth.  The kingdom of God will be realized now and only through the efforts of those following this belief.  Ultimately, the intent is to deliver a world to Jesus that wholly follows Him when He returns; in fact, He can’t return until we have accomplished this task.

(As an aside, this concept is similar to the Islamic eschatological position with the Twelfth Imam.  Shia Muslims believe they must create the chaotic conditions in the world in order for this salvific figure to emerge onto the world scene.  With the Christian Dominionist thinking, the opposite occurs.  The world must be won to peace for Jesus before He can return.  This mirror image contrast is intriguing.)

There cannot be a Rapture in this Christian NAR approach.  As a result, the earth is our home.  We are not strangers in this alien land, but residents who should want to remain in order to do the good work God has ordained for us.  Being left behind is good; it’s what we should aspire to since those snatched away are the evildoers.

(Here’s another aside: Consider the position outlined above by this pastor who doesn’t believe in the Rapture, who thinks that those snatched away are evil.  Once the Rapture occurs, what will be the prevailing explanation?  A prominent theory is that those left behind, i.e. the good guys, will declare that aliens took them for the benefit of the earth because of the harmonious distortions they caused.  Those pesky Rapture-believing Christians!  The virtuous aliens helped Mother Gaia in order to bring stability back to the planet.  Isn’t it amazing how all these aberrant ideas come together in the final days?)

There are a lot of connections in this story, even in my parenthetical rabbit-trails.  This was a comment left on YouTube attached to this particular teaching I watched:

“The whole story of the pre-tribulation rapture is a direct contradiction of the doctrines of grace!!!!!! It is an Arminian narrative!!!!”

The commenter obviously comes from a Calvinist viewpoint.  He’s agreeing with the teaching that comes from a reformed pastor.  Preterism is on display; clearly it is anti-pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching.  Now I don’t know that this equation always holds, but in this instance here it is: Reformed theology = Calvinism = Preterism.  In some cases, we also may add “= NAR.”  I guess you can do with this what you wish.

Out of all this comes another very interesting point.  In my listening to this pastor, I have no doubt that he loves the Lord and believes with all his heart that he is completely faithful to the Biblical text.  I’d like to think of myself as having that same love for God and His Word.  Yet, look at how what we believe is 180 degrees out of phase with each other.  I believe in free will (basically, the Arminian position) and a pre-Tribulation, pre-Millennial eschatology.  It points to the fact that anyone of us, despite our love of God, can interpret certain Scriptures differently and incorrectly.  I happen to believe it’s this pastor on YouTube in this instance who is wrong, but here’s the thing: Not a one of us living on the earth can possibly get all of God’s Word correct.  There are mysteries.  It’s why He is God, and we are not.  Although any of us may be absolutely convinced that we’ve been Bereans, searched the Scriptures, and thus interpreted the Word correctly, in one aspect or another, we’re going to misinterpret what God has conveyed.

It’s one more reason for us to look forward to being with Him very soon.  At that time, we’ll no longer see through a glass darkly.

Calvinism & Free Will in the Deuteronomy 32 Worldview

It wasn’t long ago that I didn’t have strong feelings about Calvinism.  Being a believer that the Bible clearly teaches we have free will, I thought Calvinism was off-base, but it was one of those subjects where I said, “Whatever…”  That has changed.

One person who recently contacted me regarding one of my essays also blogs and has similarly written a few articles on the same subjects.  It turns out that Heather had a full-blown run-in with Calvinism.  It happened when a new pastor came to her church and began subtly espousing Calvinist views, until he eventually came out as an ardent proponent.  During that time, Heather began searching the Scriptures and deeply studying the tenets of Calvinism, and from that began her blog called the Anti-Calvinist Rant (https://anticalvinistrant.blogspot.com/).  The partial end of the story is that Heather and her family, who had been at that church for twenty years, felt they had no other option except to leave because of the Calvinist doctrine she had come to see as completely un-Scriptural.

If you read her numerous blog entries on this subject, you’ll see that Heather is the expert, and I’m not.  Regardless, I think I have something to contribute to this issue.

The argument against Calvinist thinking can be summed up in the idea that Calvinism believes that all actions are caused by God and that no one can do anything unless God makes it happen.  It’s encapsulated in the free will versus predestination controversy.  Do we as human beings have the means to make the choice of salvation or is our destiny completely predetermined by God?  Are there the “elect” who will be saved and the “non-elect” whom God has destined for destruction?

The problem is that if Calvinism is true, why does the Bible state that God desires all to come to repentance?

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

1 Timothy 2:4

who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Does the Lord mean all when he says all, or does this have a hidden implication that really means only the elect?  To me and many others, this is a fatal flaw in Calvinist thinking as it certainly appears to contradict what the Lord has plainly stated.

In this Calvinist viewpoint, God ultimately has made and caused not only good, but also evil.  If none have free will, then they cannot be responsible for their actions; thus God caused them to sin in rebellion against Him and live in disobedience.  Man, therefore, is not a free-willed entity but simply a puppet of God who will eventually do what He has ordained, whether for good or evil.  Apparently, to paraphrase what the Calvinists’ say, “Like it or lump it.”  You can accept it, be angry about it, or simply ignore this basic truth.  How about we reject it as un-Biblical?

What got me thinking about this was one of my frequent reflections on what is known as the Deuteronomy 32 worldview.  In brief, this concept brings together a number of mostly overlooked Scriptures, that when put together and placed in context help us to better understand the world around us through a Biblical lens.

In summary: Sin came into the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden (Genesis 3).  Depravity was heaped upon mankind when the sons of God came to earth and procreated with human woman causing great anguish to God and the resulting flood from His judgment (Genesis 6).  Mankind rebelled against God on the plains of Shinar in the Tower of Babel incident (Genesis 11).  God got so fed up with mankind’s rebellion that He temporarily divorced them.  He set His divine sons over the nations of the earth after He had scattered the disobedient humans throughout the world and confused their language.  It was at this time that God also chose Israel as His inheritance.  (Deuteronomy 32:8-9).  In fact, in the very next chapter after Babel, God calls Abraham (Genesis 12).  God’s divine sons make their assignment all about themselves.  Rather than point man to God as they were instructed to do, they became the gods of these nations over which they’d been placed.  That royally ticks off God.  He judges them so severely that these spiritual beings will have an unheard-of fate: they will die like mere men (Psalm 82).

Jesus is the answer to all these problems.  His coming ultimately eliminates sin because of His death on the cross.  His resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit deals with man’s depravity.  As we are saved, the Holy Spirit lives within us, and we have God helping us to live and reject depraved—reprobate—thinking and actions.  As Bible prophecy plays out, believers will be Raptured, unbelieving mankind will be judged, Israel will turn to the true Messiah, and ultimately Jesus will reclaim the nations from the usurpers.  It’s a great story and a wonderful truth.

So, where does Calvinism fit into all this?

If you believe that God causes every action and that man really doesn’t have free will, what do you do with the sons of God?  He created them before the beginning of this world.  We know that from Job 38:4-7 where God said to Job:

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?

    Tell me, if you have understanding.

Who determined its measurements—surely you know!

    Or who stretched the line upon it?

On what were its bases sunk,

    or who laid its cornerstone,

when the morning stars sang together

    and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

These divine sons were around at the very beginning in the Garden.  What was the serpent, Satan, if not one of God’s spiritual creations?

Did God cause the serpent to entice Adam and Eve to sin?  If you believe in Calvinism, that’s the only logical conclusion.

Subsequently, when God placed His sons over the nations as His stewards and they rebelled, was their disobedience pre-ordained by Him?  In other words, did God’s spiritual creation, His sons in the heavenlies, have free will or not?  If they did and mankind didn’t, why would God do that?  Why make part of His creation able to choose and thus to rebel, and another part be predestined to one result or another, i.e. to be saved and become a child of God, or be unable to be saved and destined from the beginning by God’s choice to suffer His wrath?

If the Calvinist answer, “That’s what God did and you have to accept it” makes sense to you in this scenario, well…all I can say is that it surely seems inconsistent to me and out of the character of God.  More than that, this approach certainly appears to contradict Scripture.

And isn’t that what this is all about?  What does the Bible actually say?  What does God want?  If He loves us, which is clear throughout the Bible, then why in the world would He create a portion of mankind and, from the inception, decree they would be relegated to the Lake of Fire despite declaring otherwise?  What kind of sense does that make?  What kind of God does that make Him?  If we know anything about God, it’s that He is not senseless and wanton in His love and desire for man to be part of His family.

He has a plan and a purpose.  Throughout the Bible, He uses family language.  We are His children.  We are heirs.  We are His sons and daughters.  Exactly like the language used for His divine family (e.g. sons of God).  Eventually we will be joined to continue the work of God.  He wants all of us to be a part of that.  He wants none to perish.  Calvinism’s foolishness is on display when we see God’s true intent.

We are family.  God would never cause any of us harm in any way.  All who choose to do so can be part of the elect and part of His glorious plans.

America’s Fate: A Mashup of Ideas – Part 4 of 4

The final essay of this 4-part series attempts to bring together the ideas presented in the first three parts.  The elements in the mashup about America’s fate come from the books The Fourth Turning, The Unseen Realm, and This Present Darkness.  They derive from secular, Biblical non-fiction, and Christian fiction concepts.  Is it any wonder I call this a mashup?  Hopefully, from all this, however, we can bring a sense of cohesion and, if nothing else, an interesting hypothetical view of the fate of America in these latter days.

Under the speculative assumption that the majority of the notions presented in these three sources are generally true, what do we have?

Through the cyclical fates of history that demonstrate a repetitive pattern, America has entered a period characterized by great disruption.  Unrest and chaos are affecting our nation in unprecedented ways.  It’s not simply from one spot that this trouble arises, but from every conceivable aspect of our society.  These woes are gathering momentum.  From multiple perspectives we think we’ve reached a new low, but the bottom seems capable of dropping further.  Eventually the butterfly will flap its wings in some remote corner of the world.  This will trigger a critical reaction that impacts every single one of these cultural ingredients.  The ultimate crisis climax will be unprecedented.

God has ordained a ruling hierarchy throughout the earth.  His original intention was for His divine sons that He placed over the nations to point Gentiles, i.e. non-Jews, to Him.  That didn’t work out so well.  Even though He knew the outcome, maybe He still held out hope that some of these rebellious entities would come to their senses.  No, probably not.  It seems that once any beings, whether spiritual or human, in their free will choose to turn from the Source of Truth, a downward spiral causes them to grow more hardened against God and resistant to His love.

In the case of the sons of God, they seemingly all drank Satan’s Kool-Aid and ruled unjustly.  God has already judged them; however, He hasn’t yet implemented their punishment.  They remain in their positions of power over the nations thinking that in their cumulative, delusional might they can successfully defeat God.

The divine son over America is the one in question.  Where does he stand?  He certainly was faithful in the beginning.  Our nation’s history reflects this fact in the way that we generally acted as a people and how the blessings of God were showered upon us.  But that’s changed.  The major shift appears to have occurred in the 1960s.  Why?  Interestingly, when we refer back to The Fourth Turning concepts, that era was the Second Turning, and one characterized by an awakening of consciousness, a period of questioning authority, anti-institutionalism, and increasing turbulence.  It’s almost as if the rebellious minions go through their own cycles; this was theirs when they woke up.  And maybe that’s not so far from the truth.  If we look at the cycles in the Book of Judges, we get something like the four turnings of history.  Again, from that secular view, those turnings are: High – Awakening – Unraveling – Crisis.  In Judges we see: God’s deliverance resulting in: Reverence and adoration toward Him (High) – Peace in the Land, where conditions are so good that God is forgotten and other gods become known (Awakening) – Israel does evil as they pursue other gods (Unraveling) – God punishes Israel (Crisis).  In the Biblical narrative, God raises up a savior who delivers Israel and the cycle begins again.  It’s not necessarily a perfect match, but it’s close.

Why in Israel did the people turn away?  Why in America have people turned away?  What causes the hot and cold conditions of peoples’ hearts?  How is that related to the gods, other than God, that people follow?

It may be that a willing heart, obedience, and prayer are keys.  When the people of God increase and, as true disciples of Jesus Christ do as the Lord commands, He rains down His favor in blessings, whether material or spiritual.  Since God inevitably has a remnant in place, it may be that as it rises up in prayer and more people come to the Lord, the powers and authorities in high places are impacted.  Maybe the son of God over America has always been loyal to Him, but based on how the human population under his guidance reacts, it determines his strength.  It could be that the ebb and flow, the highs and lows of faith in this nation and loyalty to God are intertwined with the divine son spiritually in place over America.  There may be a symbiotic relationship of sorts between the people of God and this ruling entity who reports to his Father.

If we envision how the dark forces in the fictional town of Ashton were able to increase in might, it was because so few of the townspeople truly served God.  Only as the prayerful remnant woke up were the heavenly host able to rise in numbers and grow in their ability to fight the darkness.  The parallel to Judges and to our nation past and future may indicate that something like this has regularly occurred.

In the Judges paradigm in our parallels with Israel, and in considering that we’re in the heart of the Fourth Turning, this means that America is on the cusp of major judgment from God.  His divine ruling son over America has either weakened significantly or has turned away from God.  The praying people in our nation have dwindled as the church has fallen into apostasy and is seeking other gods, while God haters are increasing exponentially.  The dark cloud over us is growing in intensity every day.  Something has to happen, and it will.

God has it planned out.  He’s got the big picture in view.  Fortunately, followers of Jesus Christ who know the Word of God also know the end of the story.  At this juncture with all this mashup of ideas coalescing, a BIG event is on the horizon.  Many of us believe it’ll be the Rapture.  That’ll be the triggering event, the butterfly flapping its wings.  As a result, all the cultural and societal ingredients that are currently held in stasis by God’s gracious hand will collapse.

We who believe in Jesus will be removed, and God’s wrath will be poured out in the last great crisis of the Fourth Turning through the inevitable, final spiritual battle, as God’s rebellious sons make their last gasp effort to remain relevant.  Neither they nor the dragon, Satan himself, will succeed.  As America is dragged under by this conflagration of epic proportions in the Tribulation, God will have His way.  His plans and purposes will come to fruition.

The rebellious divine sons will receive their judgment, as will their ringleader.  All of humanity that has chosen to follow the ways of self and that worships these other gods will likewise suffer an unimaginable fate.  America, if it emerges in some form after the Tribulation, will look a lot different than it does today.  In the Millennium it’ll be a nation comprised of those who love the Lord, as will all countries on earth at that immediate time.

Even better, we as Raptured believers will have glorified bodies and will join with Christ to rule with Him over the nations.  What a world that will be!