Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Critical Look at The Harbinger

Tom's Perspectives
by Thomas Ice

"The bricks have fallen down,
But we will rebuild with smooth stones;
The sycamores have been cut down,
But we will replace them with cedars."
-Isaiah 9:10

      The Harbinger[1] is a fictional account of what its author, Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn believes is a scenario that is on the verge of happening to America, unless there is national repentance.  This New York Times bestseller, though written as a work of fiction, it is clear that Cahn believes his nine harbingers are truly a pronouncement of impending judgment against the United States.  At the beginning of the book it says, "What you are about to read is presented in the form of a story, but what is contained within the story is real."  If this was not clear from the book, it is made very clear when one views any number of the one-hour presentations of this material by Cahn on the internet's YouTube.  There is even a two-hour DVD movie entitled: The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment[2] with Cahn.  The question that any Bible-believing Christian should ask about The Harbinger is as follows: "Is this really a true message or revelation from God?"

Is America A Covenant Nation?
      Rabbi Cahn begins his presentation by saying that there are only two nations in the history of the world who are in covenant relation with God.  They are Israel and America.  Israel is clearly in a direct covenant relationship with God . . . but America?  "But there was one other-a civilization also conceived and dedicated to the will of God from its conception . . . America."  Cahn continues, "Those who laid America's foundations saw it as a new Israel, an Israel of the New World.  And as with ancient Israel, they saw it as in covenant with God."[3]
      Amazingly, the Jewish Christian Rabbi, Jonathan Cahn is advocating a form of replacement theology by presenting America as "a new Israel."  Israel and Israel alone is the Lord's only covenant nation.  While there are a number of biblical passages that make it clear that the twelve tribes of Israel are God's lone covenant nation (Ex. 20:2; 34:27; Deut. 4:1, 6–8, 13, 20, 34, 37, 44; 7:6–8; 1 Kings 8:9), Psalm 147: 19–20 says, "He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.  He has not dealt thus with any nation; and as for His ordinances, they have not known them.  Praise the Lord!"  Only once in history did God choose to make a covenant with a nation and it was Israel.
      If Cahn somehow thinks that America is a covenant nation with God because our founders primarily during the Colonial Period were devout Christians, which they were, that does not mean that God recognizes such nations as being in a covenantal relationship like Israel.  Things like the Mayflower Compact were not made with God but horizontally between the Pilgrims to honor God and do other things.  No doubt, the 167 years of Colonial America provided perhaps the greatest Christian basis for any nation in history, but somehow making our country a "covenant nation" like Israel simply could not and did not happen.
      Cahn compounds his error by citing 2 Chronicles 7:14 (one of the most abused verses in the Bible) as God's message to America for today in one of the closing chapters.  "And My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."  Cahn applies this passage to America, not Israel as in the biblical context when he says: "It's the call of God to a nation once dedicated to His purposes but now falling away from His will.  It's the call of God to return."[4]  Only Israel is called by the Lord's name.  In the surrounding context of this passage the phrase "Thy people Israel" is used seven times in chapters six and seven in 2 Chronicles.  The Lord declares, "but I have chosen Jerusalem that My name might be there and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel" (6:6).  You don't volunteer to be God's chosen people, He must choose you and He has only chosen the nation of Israel!

The Harbingers
      What bothers me the most about this book is that Cahn, who appears to be a strongly committed Christian and zealous in his work for the Lord, is not zealous to protect and rightly handle the Scriptures.  How can anyone take a passage that is clearly addressed to Israel (Isa. 9:10) and one that has already been fulfilled in history for Israel and say that it also applies in some way to America?  There is only a single meaning to any passage in the entire canon of Scripture.  Yet, Rabbi Cahn claims that Isaiah 9:10 also is a prophecy about contemporary America.  He admits that it was fulfilled in the past in relation to the Northern Kingdom by the invasion of the Assyrians.[5]  But it is also a prophecy relating to contemporary America as a mystery that needs to be uncovered.  Cahn claims that when the mystery is unraveled, the same pattern of judgment that happened two and a half thousand years ago will be repeated upon America.  "The Nine Harbingers that manifested in ancient Israel in the nation's last days," explains Cahn, "Each one was a sign.  Each one was a warning of judgment . . . of their end . . . the Nine Harbingers of judgment."[6]
      For Cahn, these nine harbingers are something he says is revealed to be for America.[7]  Thus, he is under the delusion that some kind of revelation from God to him has taken place via the warnings of American judgment.  Yet, it is somehow linked with Isaiah 9:10 and a series of interesting events that have taken place in conjunction with the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City during 9/11 and various events and statements by important people since that event..  Since America was called to be "a vessel of redemption, an instrument of God's purposes, a light to the world,"[8] and was no longer performing that role, God is giving her a warning of impending judgment upon our nation in the form of the nine harbingers of Isaiah 9:10.
      The first is a breach in the wall, which means that at 9/11 America's divine protection no longer was in place.[9]  Second, the terrorist represents America invading Iraq that was in ancient times the location of Assyria that invaded Israel in the eight century b.c.[10]  Third, the fallen bricks speak of the nation not repenting, but becoming arrogant and saying they will build the ruins back stronger and better than at the first.[11]  Fourth, the tower represents the leaders not repenting and desiring to rebuild the towers even higher than before.[12]  Fifth, the Gazit Stone tells of the foundations and the huge "Freedom Stone" at Ground Zero.[13]  Sixth, the sycamore tree is symbolic of the uprooting of the nation through judgment.[14]  Seventh, the Erez tree is a tree of hope and pictures a stubborn nation's failure to repent and turn to God.[15]  Eight, the utterance of actual judgment upon America.[16]  Ninth, the prophecy of judgment reiterated upon America, but she can repent if she heeds the warning of 2 Chronicles 7:14.[17]

      Many American Christians are falling for the message found in The Harbinger as if Isaiah himself had been resurrected and came to America and spoke it himself.  Many might say, "What could be wrong with a message from any source telling America to repent?"  Surely a majority of Americans do need to repent, but if we believe it on the basis of someone claiming to speak on an authority equal with the Bible, then we have fallen for a false authority.  Besides, Paul has already told American and every human on the planet to repent in Acts 17:30–31.  "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."  If we start giving heed to those who claim to speak for the Lord, especially those who twist Scripture in the process, more and more people will come out with wacko books and mislead even more people.
      Many are talking today about God judging America and He surely could do that in a dramatic way, but the focus of Paul, even two thousand years ago was on the fact that God has already fixed a day on His calendar when He will judge the world for unbelief.  Yes, America is deserving of judgment but so is the entire world.  Could anyone name a nation in the world today that does not deserve God's judgment?  I cannot and I doubt that you can name one either.  Bible prophecy appears to indicate that this world is moving toward global judgment where America and all the Christ-rejecting nations will join the Antichrist's team in revolt against our Lord God Almighty, whom Christ will destroy with the breath of His mouth at the second coming when He will set up a righteous rule through His redeemed people Israel.  Maranatha!

Taken from: 

Other Great Resource on this topic

Friday, June 29, 2012

"Holiness: Are You Willing To Do What It Takes?"

By Shane Idleman
As stated last week, of all the attributes of God described in the Bible, holiness is seen most often. Men fell down in the holy presence of God. Leaders, priests, and kings all trembled at the sheer magnitude of His holiness. The angels cry, "Holy, Holy, Holy is our God."
Holiness is the key to truly understanding God. This is why sin is serious. It separates us from God; it stands in direct opposition to Him. It corrupts our character and our testimony; it prevents holiness and quenches and grieves the Spirit within.
J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) in his book on holiness said that we must stand guard as a soldier on enemy ground. The problem is that many love the world and have a hard time separating. They believe in heaven but they don't truly long for it. They "say" that they fear God but they don't live like it. They indulge temptation rather than fight it. They enjoy sin rather than confront it. And they compromise rather than conquer. The lukewarm church disdains the heat of conviction. Holiness, to them, is outdated, old-fashioned (too conservative).
Are you willing to do what it takes to truly know God?
Seeking to identify the middle ground between our responsibility (obedience) and God's role in sanctification (holiness) can be challenging, but it doesn't need to be. The Bible is filled with passages about obedience that leads to holiness. For example, 1 Peter 1:14 says, "As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance." 1 John 3:3 adds that "all who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure." And Romans 6:19 tells us to present our "bodies as slaves to righteousness." Peter asks, "What sort of people ought you to be in holiness and godliness?" (2 Peter 3:11).
It's clear from Scripture that obedience produces sanctification (holiness). Holiness is a by-product of our submission to the work of the Spirit. Sadly, many don't seek the surrendered life. They want the narrow road to be broad and the cross to be light. But holiness has a cost.
  • J.C. Ryle noted that "holiness will cost a man his sins. He must be willing to give up every habit and practice which is wrong in God's sight…There must be no separate truce with any special sin which he loves." Ryle continues, "Our sins are often as dear to us as our children: we love them, hug them, cleave to them, and delight in them. To part with them is as hard as cutting off a right hand, or plucking out a right eye. But it must be done. The parting must come." Holiness comes with a price…there is a cost-death to self and crucifixion to the world. To be filled mightily with the Spirit, we must first be emptied of self. Pride and arrogance hinder holiness. We are to overcome sin, not surrender to it.
  • Holiness challenges lukewarm living. A vast majority of Christian are turning a deaf ear to the call to holiness. Conviction is replaced with complacency. Their thought is, "I'm just not convicted about that like you are." Often, the reason is because they are not truly seeking God…they are set more toward Sodom than on following Him unconditionally. Lukewarm living disdains the heat of conviction. It "loves the world" more than the things of God. A call to holiness challenges our lifestyle (mine included); it forces us to confront idols and remove destructive habits.
  • Holiness will cost the opinions of men. Be clear on this issue: We will be ridiculed, mocked, slandered, persecuted, and even hated when we take a stand for holiness. Nevertheless, we desperately need holiness. We must turn to God's truth and away from the broad road that leads to destruction. We must repent, ask for forgiveness, and seek restoration. We should not apologize for following God's Word. We are in the midst of a spiritual battle. We will be criticized for following Christ, mocked for believing in truth, and challenged for promoting holiness. We are called to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him. The day of the passive, lukewarm church must come to an end if we truly desire for families to be restored and for lives to be rebuilt.
We must lovingly preach holiness in our pulpits again: "Without holiness no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). The prophets of old bear this out as well. These men were sent by God to call the people back to Him…back to holiness: "And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers [to convict them], rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy."
Little has changed: We still mock difficult messages from the pulpit and the pen, we despise the heat of conviction, and we scoff at those who seek God unconditionally. I ask again, "Are you willing to do what it takes to truly know God?"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rich, young, and lost

Luke 18, Mark 10, and Matthew 19 give us the familiar story of the rich, young ruler. This story is perhaps the most commonly used model for evangelism from the Gospels, and provides a stunning insight into Jesus' approach to evangelism.
Obviously the synagogue ruler did not get saved. This fact is essential in understanding how Jesus models " successful" evangelism. This is not to suggest that Jesus failed, but it does show that the goal of Jesus' evangelism was to expose the motives in the heart, more than it was to convince people to follow him. If anything, this exchange is remarkable because it shows Jesus saying things designed to drive this ruler away.It seems that many of today's gospel presentations are geared to trap someone into a logical corner where reason dictates that they make a commitment to follow Christ (if you want out of hell, if you want a happy life, if you want your hole in your heart filled, just repeat after me). Reason demands that people follow Christ, and God demands that people follow Christ. But Jesus did not appeal to reason or a logical argument when talking with the rich young ruler. Instead, Jesus structured this command in a way that caused the person to ask, "Is Christ more valuable than everything in life?" Most of our gospel presentations ask, "Do you want to go to hell? If not, then follow Christ." Jesus asked, "Do you value me more than everything in the world?"
Jesus used the Law as an entry point into the conversation with the ruler. But, he did not use the Law to lead him to repentance. Remember that when Jesus used the Law, the ruler replied that as to the Law, he was blameless. Jesus did not argue with him. He did not say, "so are you saying you have never lied, not even once?"
Instead, he set the whole discussion of the Law aside, and asked the ruler if he would treasure Christ above the riches of the world. Jesus used the ruler's self-professed obedience to the Law to make a dramatic point: law keeping does not save anyone, but rather treasuring Christ leads to salvation.
People need to know the bad news, that they are sinners, before they know the good news, that Christ died as a substitutionary atonement for their sin, and rose from the grave. But, when Jesus met the rich young ruler, he did not make the issue the Law. It is as if Jesus said to the ruler, "You have kept the Law your whole life? So what? You are lost because you love your life more than you love me."
If I could change modern evangelism in one way, this is it: that we would stop reasoning people to a commitment or decision, and we would start calling people to deny their life, and follow Christ.
Even if it means that they walk away.

Taken from:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Why Won't They Listen?

Jan MarkellBy Jan Markell
Olive Tree Ministries

A repeated theme coming into this office by e-mail is that loved ones - friends and family - will not listen when discerning people try to tell them about our world today. If a reference is made to end-time activity, people will often scoff and literally brush them away. Some just don't have ears to hear about any current issue. While this has always been the case, it seems to be accelerated today. And this is happening when issues are so serious you would think it would help people carry out their lives more effectively if they only understood the times from a biblical perspective.

Yes, the issues of the day are unsettling. A Muslim wanted to explode a WMD but was caught recently in Texas. Jihadists are everywhere. Syria is being armed to the teeth by Iran and Russia. A coming conflagration in the Middle East is imminent. America's economy is now further damaged by soaring prices. Will this country ever recover from what has been done to it by greedy and evil people? This issue alone has caused many to tune out and drop out. It is too tragic to watch this nation be eaten away by corruption and by some elected officials who do not seek America's good.

But I believe there are a whole host of reasons why folks have closed their ears. Let me list a few options and suggestions that may help those of you who feel rejected for simply sharing the truth:
  • As referenced above, the news today is too violent, frightening, troubling, and even shocking. Many want their minds and hearts to dwell on safer and more uplifting issues. Detaching from reality is a coping mechanism. There are many compassionate people. To keep hearing about wars, pain, suffering, injustice, weapons of mass destruction, persecution, jihad, and so much more breaks their hearts and spirits.
  • Some have programmed themselves as though they were living "in the days of Noah." Nobody wanted to listen then either. The last generation is compared to the days of Noah. Are we the last? We do not know. It would seem things are winding down and yet things could go on for decades.
  • Some have an end-time theology that says all believers will experience the worst of things outlined in the Bible. We will go through the Tribulation and even be here for the battle of Armageddon. While this is debatable to many, the real issue for all believers is how much will we have to go through before these events? Many don't believe in a rapture of the church. Others believe that will take place at the very end of the Tribulation or in the middle of it. They do not have that "blessed hope." While this ministry does not believe the church goes through the Tribulation, the purpose of this column is not to debate that. It is sad this issue has become so divisive. Arguing this, and often not in a friendly manner, is one of the most frequent communications we get. Church pulpits are silent on these topics and thus confusion and doubt reign.
  • The greatest sign people need to watch is Israel. Yet Replacement Theology (that the church has replaced the nation of Israel) dominates our churches today. Thus, many are left clueless that the countdown has begun. They feel life will go on for hundreds of years. There is nothing unusual about our generation. Believers who point to Israel, Middle East war, and related issues, are just "the sky is falling" people. We have always had wars and rumors of war they state.
  • There are enough pleasures in this life, so eternity can wait. They cannot listen to events that may touch their loved ones. What mother wants to contemplate horrors coming upon her children?
  • Many today are seduced by false teachers promising a perfect world (Dominion/Kingdom Now theology) that the church can and will bring in. Seeing and hearing about instability, the Middle East in chaos, a coming financial meltdown, and coming trials, doesn't fit their biblical agenda. Some of them believe in a global revival yet and wish to focus on that. While there are pockets of revival today, the Bible indicates judgment faces the earth some day.
  • Many know they are not right with God. They figure at the end of life they may do something about this. Right now, they want to enjoy life and tune out the world's troubles.
  • Some do not know the Bible well enough to understand that God takes care of His own. He will never leave us or forsake us. That does not mean, however, that we might not have to go through some serious things. John Loeffler has produced an excellent DVD we sell, The Coming Persecution of Christians in the West.
Reality can break all of our hearts. We are not weak or immature Christians because we ache for the world. But suffice it to say that all creation is groaning as we wait the return of the King of Kings to set this world free from bondage, sin, and sorrow.

In eternity, I first want to meet Noah. He preached his heart out, admittedly not with the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, or a sound system. But even in his corner of the world, mankind ignored him for 120 years. Finally, the ark door closed. Plugging the ears to the wise words of many today will bring about a disaster for some. So don't give up!

If Jesus Christ is not your Lord and Savior today, please don't run away from the truth-tellers. You only need to repent of your sins and invite Him to be the Lord and Savior of your life. This frightening world will be much less scary if you will do that. Then you can focus on eternity a lot more and deal with this throbbing planet more effectively.

Having said all of the above, one thing is certain: There is no time like the present to share the gospel! Millions of unbelievers are drowning their sorrows, fear, and uncertainty in destructive behavior. You might be surprised how open they are to hear the truth of the gospel. Or they may shun you but hide your words in their heart and act on them later when their life or the world falls apart. We are always to be ready with an answer for everyone. Their response is not your responsibility.

The Bible tells us that the world will implode eventually. It has nothing to do with the Mayans and their 2012 calendar suggestion! Everything has an end, but for the Christian, the end begins a glorious future! I can hardly wait. I hope to meet you all there! Your prayers for this ministry and me are greatly appreciated.

Taken from:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wide is the Gate: The Emerging New Christianity

Here is an excellent documentary I now own that exposes the dangers of the new emerging Christianity that isn't biblical Christianity at all! This clip is just a preview!

Topics our guests discuss include:

  • THE SOCIAL GOSPEL embraced by Evangelicals & Youth Outreach
  • KINGDOM NOW - DOMINIONISM in Mainline Christianity
  • ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT -  Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations unite

  • CHRISLAM -  Christianity and Islam work together


  • EMERGENT MOVEMENT - What is it? Where is it taking Evangelicalism?
  • REPLACEMENT of Israel as Church THEOLOGY
"Back in 1984 Caryl Matrisciana's "Gods Of The New Age" spoke to my heart in a way that changed my life. I have to say she has done it again with the "Wide Is The Gate" Series. Her investigative and cinematic skills compel one to examine where they actually stand on the basic foundations of the Christian Faith. What unfolds in this DVD is impossible to ignore or discount. It grabs you by the neck and says, "Wake Up Church!"
Ray Yungen, Researcher, Author
"There are a multitude of teachers within Christianity, discerning Christians know not all speaking for the Church are of sound (Biblical) doctrine. I'm grateful to Caryl Matrisciana who is not just a filmmaker but also one of the best researchers I know. Many Christian leaders wouldn't have the courage to present the inconvenient truths found in this DVD series. Caryl has counted the cost and is willing to present cutting-edge information."
Jan Markell, Olive Tree Ministries
"Brilliantly produced, well researched...should be viewed by every Pastor. It lays bare today's deceptive movements and popular trends leading an undiscerning Church away from Biblical Christianity into the ecumenical unity of the One World religion of the coming Anti-Christ. This series gives an urgent warning and calls for a return to the Faith once for all delivered to the Saints."
Johanna Michaelsen, Author: The Beautiful Side of Evil
"Very few are sounding the alarm about the current state of the Church which is awash in what some call New Spirituality or Emerging Christianity. This DVD series takes the Biblical mandate to be Bereans and looks at the modern Church through Scriptural eyes. Then, it asks the necessary question: are these the days about which the Bible warns? Is this apostasy yet another sign that Jesus Christ will soon return for His faithful Church?"
Pastor Chris Quintana, Calvary Chapel of Cypress, California

"Thank the Lord for Caryl Matrisciana...a modern day Esther and Deborah combined for releasing two-part film documentary: WIDE IS THE GATE, appearing on national radio, and touring the country exposing the Emerging Church as well as Rick Warren as a false teacher, sounding the alarm on His Holy Hill. Her bravery is incalculable!! But her urgent campaign is NOT a license for most of the church to remain silent in the face of iniquity. Blessings James"
JJames Sundquist, Director Rock Salt Publishing

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Trying to explain the inexplicable

Exclusive: Greg Laurie notes, the big-picture purpose 'is God's glory, not our happiness'

A crisis hits hard. It hits fast. And it takes no prisoners. Sometimes a crisis is so epic that you eventually look back on it as a dividing point in your life. You remember your life before and after the crisis.
For Job, it was when his world came crashing down on him in one day. For Joseph, it was the betrayal of his brothers that changed the course of his life. For Jesus, it was when the religious leaders and one of His own handpicked disciples turned on Him.
A crisis is like a mighty and unexpected storm that overtakes your boat. And when this happens, the first thing we usually ask is, Why is this happening to me? What have I done to deserve this? At the outset, there are no real answers to questions like this. It is very unlikely we ever will have the answers to the whys of life – until we get to heaven.
In our minds, we may believe that we are somehow exempt from suffering. We just won’t have tragedy befall us. We won’t get cancer. We won’t have spouses leave us. We won’t have anyone we love die in any kind of accident. We won’t have problems with our kids. If that is the way you think, then it is time for your wake-up call. We cannot control these things. Crisis will come into our lives.
Ironically, I have had people say to me after the death of my son, “Why has this happened to you, of all people?” I find that to be a curious question, the assumption being that I somehow get a free pass because I am a pastor. But I live in the same fallen world as everyone else. And the Bible says the rain falls upon the just and the unjust (see Matthew 5:45).
I think it is very important not to make the mistake of always trying to find cause and effect for everything that happens. Sometimes if something bad happens to someone, we will say, “Well, they were bad people, and because of that, this happened in their lives.” That may be true. But sometimes bad stuff simply happens, and there is no cause and effect at all. That is because sin is in the world. And because of this, we have aging and sickness and disabilities and, yes, even death. But these things were never a part of God’s original plan.
On one occasion, Jesus’ disciples brought up the subject of a tower that had fallen on a group of Gentiles. The Gentiles were non-Jews – nonbelievers. Everyone knew about this tragedy, and the supposition was that it happened to these people because they were nonbelievers. So Jesus said, “Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too” (Luke 13:4 NLT).
Here is what Jesus was saying, in effect: “Don’t say this happened because they were sinners. You think they were the worst sinners? News flash: Unless you repent, you will perish, too.”
Bad things happen inexplicably.
In his book, “If God Is Good,” Randy Alcorn writes, “If we come to see the purpose of the universe as God’s long-term glory rather than our short-term happiness, then we will undergo a critical paradigm shift in tackling the problem of evil and suffering. The world has gone terribly wrong. God is going to fix it. First, for His eternal glory. Second, for our eternal good.”
In other words, the big picture, the purpose of the universe, is God’s glory, not our happiness. We tend to think of the world as revolving around us. We are the stars of our own films. We are the main characters of our own novels. And when something bad happens, we want to know, Why is this happening to me? What about me?
The bigger picture is ultimately God’s glory, not our personal happiness. The fact of the matter is that through hardship, our hope will grow. This almost sounds contradictory. It seems like the best circumstances for hope to grow would be a trouble-free life without any storms. Everything would be nice and tidy and clean. No. The best place for hope to grow, believe it or not, is actually in adversity.
The apostle Paul wrote,
Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:2–5)
Did Paul, in the same paragraph, really include the words “trials” and “problems” and “God loves us”? But if God loves us, wouldn’t he remove the trials and the problems? Maybe. He might. And he might not. That is up to God, according to what needs to happen in your life.
The Bible tells the story of a man named Lazarus who was ill. Lazarus was a personal friend of Jesus’, so his sisters Mary and Martha sent word to him that their brother was sick. But when Jesus heard the news, he intentionally delayed going to see Lazarus. By the time he got there, Lazarus was dead. I find it interesting that the reason the Bible gives for Jesus’ delay was that he loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus (see John 11:5–6). Jesus waited because he wanted to do something even greater than what they wanted. They wanted a healing, but Jesus wanted a resurrection.
So let’s just leave these things in the hands of God. We don’t know the whys. But we do know this: God has a plan.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Impurity Is Nothing New

By John MacArthur
It’s no surprise the world thinks the biblical view of sexuality is outdated. Society tells you that you need to advance your thinking beyond the Dark Ages, open your mind to new perspectives, and get with the times. In a word, the world says you need to be more modern.
But there’s nothing modern, enlightened, or new about how sexuality has saturated and defined our culture. Our society isn’t the first to celebrate promiscuity and promote all kinds of lascivious, perverse behavior.
As wicked and perverse as society is today, it’s always been this bad—possibly worse. We sometimes think the sexual promiscuity that goes on in our culture is something new. That we’ve reached a new all-time low, and that the world is more sinful than it’s ever been. It isn’t.
Just look at the world of the New Testament. Specifically, look at the Corinthian church. Paul introduces us to the congregation at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.
Welcome to the First Church of Corinth! Paul’s congregation was full of ex-fornicators, ex-idolaters, ex-adulterers, and ex-homosexuals. Sexual sin was so rampant in Paul’s time that it was part of everyone’s past.
Perversion was commonplace and widespread. It was tolerated and accepted—it was even advocated and encouraged. The early church was founded in the midst of an anything-goes, no-shame culture.
Over the last several decades, we’ve seen a cultural shift back to that no-shame mentality. The sexual revolution of the 1960s and '70s, and the homosexual revolution beginning in the '80s have made sexual perversion commonplace again. Our culture is dominated and driven by all kinds of sexual deviance. And it’s not discreet or disguised; it’s celebrated.
In fact the only shame these days is to not tolerate other people’s shameless behavior.
And the widespread sexual perversion isn’t limited to secular society. Popular pastors speak endlessly on how to improve and expand your sex life. Christian college campuses are being confronted and influenced by underground homosexual student groups. And adultery and promiscuity run rampant throughout congregations all over the country and around the world.
The church doesn’t need to be more modern when it comes to sexuality—in terms of destructive sexual deviance and perversion, we’re already far too much like modern society as it is.
We're essentially back in the days of Corinth. And to help us know how to navigate a culture so given over to sexual perversion and prurience, we need to look at the instructions Paul gave to the early church.
The church at Thessalonica wasn’t far from the Corinthian church. Believers there would have been confronted by the same perverse culture that permeated the world of the early church. In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul gave them clear commands and instructions to live holy, pure lives in spite of their sinful surroundings.
And that’s where we’ll pick it up next time.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Myth of Binding Satan and Taking World Dominion

 Adherents to dominion theology and the New Apostolic Reformation believe they must establish the Kingdom of God on earth before Christ can return. This is completely unbiblical thinking, as Jesus Himself declares in John 18:36:
Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here."
Christians are to build God's Kingdom, but that takes place in the spiritual realm as we preach the Gospel and as people are added spiritually to the Kingdom of God. We are not called to build a physical kingdom here on earth. The building of a physical kingdom has more in common with globalism than it does with biblical Christianity.

C. Peter Wagner, who originally came to prominence for his studies of church growth, is one of the leaders and founders of the New Apostolic Reformation. Wagner's influence in developing the NAR is even documented by National Public Radio: "The international 'apostolic and prophetic' movement has been dubbed by its leading American architect, C. Peter Wagner, as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)."[1] While not all of today's "prophets" and "apostles" are part of Wagner's NAR, they often embrace many of the same heretical beliefs.
 In a letter posted online in May 2007, Wagner declared:

Our theological bedrock is what has been known as Dominion Theology. This means that our divine mandate is to do whatever is necessary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to retake the dominion of God's creation which Adam forfeited to Satan in the Garden of Eden.[2]

In order to take dominion back from Satan, the NAR and Word of Faith teach that Satan must be bound. Thus, the NAR and Word of Faith run around the globe holding prayer and fasting services in their attempts to bind Satan and take dominion neighborhood by neighborhood, town by town, city by city, state by state, and nation by nation.

In an interview with National Public Radio, Wagner explained the strategy of spiritual mapping and binding of demons:

When you talk about demons over cities, we're talking about what - sometimes what we refer to as territorial spirits, and they're more high-ranking spirits in the hierarchy of darkness and they're more powerful and they require different approaches, and it's not as easy as commanding them to leave in the name of Jesus. So sometimes there has to be repentance, sometimes there has to be - there has been bloodshed in that city that needs to be repented of, there has been idolatry in the city that has ruined the land. There's been immorality that needs to be repented of, and there are several social things that people really need to acknowledge that they're bad and repent of them and ask forgiveness. ... There are certain individuals in our whole movement that have special gifts for doing that, and they're helping lead the way in weakening the power of the spirits. We don't believe we can kill demons and sometimes we don't believe we can completely get 'em out, get 'em away from a city, but we can reduce their power. We can bind them, and then we can move strongly with the kingdom of God into the city.[3]

To justify this "binding of Satan," the NAR and Word of Faith often use Matthew 16:19 and 18:18. They use them, however, out of context to maintain their teaching that Jesus' words have anything to do with people "binding Satan." Matthew 16:18 reads: "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." And Matthew 18:19: "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven."

Matthew 18:19 and 18:18 have nothing to do with binding Satan but, rather, are talking about church discipline. The verses teach that if church leadership declares someone is bound by sin and their declaration is in accord with what the Bible describes as sin, then heaven agrees with that assessment. If the individual that is bound in sin repents as described in the Word of God, then heaven agrees with that as well. These verses describe how church leaders can determine if someone is forgiven and has repented of a sinful practice or lifestyle or if he or she is still in sin.

The NAR and Word of Faith also use Luke 11:21-22 and Matthew 12:28-29 out of context to justify their binding of Satan. Again, the NAR and Word of Faith are demonic religious systems built on Satan's number one scheme, which is to distort the Word of God. So, we should not be surprised that NAR and Word of Faith leaders are constantly doing just that by taking Scripture out of context-particularly these verses I've cited. First, it is important to understand that in both Matthew and Luke, Jesus is the One casting out demons. The NAR and Word of Faith are notorious for believing they can do whatever Jesus or the Apostles and prophets did while here on earth-which is a lie and, ultimately, blasphemy to claim to be able to do the work of God incarnate.

Luke 11:21-22 reads:

When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.
And Matthew 12:28-29 says:

But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.

In context, these verses describe Satan as the strong man and Jesus Christ as the stronger man. Jesus defeated-or bound-Satan through His death, burial and resurrection. Colossians 2:13-15 speaks of this:

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

Hebrews 2: 14-15 speaks of the victory that is ours through Jesus Christ who freed us from the bondage of sin and death and defeated Satan:

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

In Jude 9 we read where Michael the archangel did not attempt to "bind" Satan nor engage him in an argument:

Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"

Satan is on a leash held by God Himself. Our rightful response to Satan is found in James 4:7-8:

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

A better translation of "submit to God" is to be "lined up under" His authority. God is our defender and protect when we follow His will and His authority. A better translation of "resist" is to "take your stand." Notice, however, that we only take our stand after we lining up under God. Once we have lined up, living in obedience to God and His Word, then we can take our stand knowing that greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.

To "draw near to God" is to take seriously our relationship with Him through prayer and the study of His Word. It is through God's Word that we conform our lives to His will and deepen our relationships with Him as we submit every area of our lives to His Lordship. There is protection from Satan when we are under God's authority and living in His will.

Notice that 2 Peter 2:9-12 tells us false teachers who rail against demons are foolishly doing what even the angels, who are more powerful than demons, will not do:

[T]hen the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.

The lesson to be learned here is that the NAR, Word of Faith, and other purveyors of false teaching are highly skilled at taking Scripture out of context to build their demonic, self-serving, humanistic worldview. Truthful teachers know that we must always study the Scriptures in context and use the Word of God as our chief weapon to destroy arguments raised up against the principles of the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Sunday, June 17, 2012



An excerpt from Countdown to the Second Coming
In spite of terrorismand looming war clouds in the Middle East, the prospect of a peace such as the world has never known seems to be a realistic hope. That the nations of the world will indeed establish an unprecedented international peace, and perhaps fairly soon, is certain, because the Bible has for thousands of years foretold a false peace in the last days.
That time of peace is prophesied, however, not with joy but with sorrow, for the prophets declared that it would precede a holocaust that would threaten the survival of all life on this planet. Why? The answer to this question comprises the entire subject matter of the Bible, which in fact prophesies the coming of two periods of global peace. The first will be realized for a time under the Antichrist, and the second will be established by the return of Jesus Christ in power and glory to rule this planet where He was so cruelly rejected and crucified.
Earth’s war-weary inhabitants will greet the first period of peace ecstatically, convinced that the Millennium has dawned. And, for a time, it will appear that the world’s economic, social, and ecological problems have been solved. That will, however, be a great delusion. Biblical prophets have warned that this false peace will usher in the Great Tribulation (after Christ takes His church to heaven in the “Rapture”) and will culminate seven years later in the most destructive war in earth’s history—Armageddon! In somber revelation, the apostle Paul declared:
When they [the world, not true Christians] shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (1 Thessalonians:5:3)
On the one hand, it seems incomprehensible that international peace at last attained should be the prelude to disaster. Yet what else could result from a “peace” established by Antichrist? As always, so today, the world’s leaders pursue their negotiations among themselves in utter disregard for the essential role that must be played by the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. If mankind could by its own efforts establish a just and lasting peace, it would disprove the Bible—which declares that true peace can come only through Jesus Christ reigning upon earth. In fact, all such humanistic attempts are doomed by man’s inherent sinfulness.
Where Are the Voices of True Peace?
Are we suggesting that the world’s leaders shouldn’t even attempt to achieve global peace? Of course, they must try. But those who are not Christians, driven by necessity to pursue every possible means to establish peace, don’t realize the futility of their efforts. Christian political leaders, of course, are also compelled to join their secular colleagues in pursuing world peace. At the same time, they must declare solemnly and clearly to the rest of the world that the only true hope for global peace is to repent for having violated God’s laws, to receive Jesus Christ as the Savior who has died for the sins of the world, and then to ask Him to come back to this earth to reign.
Where are the Christian political leaders with the courage to do so? And if they did, who would listen? To stand fully for Christ without any compromise would end any political leader’s career.
Peter explained to the first Gentile converts after Christ’s resurrection that peace was to be preached through Jesus Christ (Acts:10:36). To most of today’s Christians, that is a radical thought. What pastor or evangelist on radio or television today is preaching global peace through Jesus Christ? Paul declared that this peace was both “to you which were afar off [Gentiles] and to them that were near [Jews]” (Ephesians:2:17)—and that this peace was only possible through Christ having died for the sins of the world (2 Corinthians:5:18,19).
Those who set out to establish international peace through a world government over which the Lord Jesus Christ is not invited to reign are necessarily on the side of Antichrist. They are preparing the world for his rule, whether or not they recognize or acknowledge that fact. Such is the danger that attends all earthly efforts to establish international peace and unity.
The Delusion of Ecumenism
There are only two persons who will hold absolute rule over this world. The first is the Antichrist and the second is the Lord Jesus Christ. Every person must choose between these two antagonists and their opposing kingdoms. There is no neutral ground.
Those who suggest that we can retain the idea of Christ’s return to reign over Planet Earth as the symbol of some “spiritual truth” suitable for all religions deny the very foundation of the Christian faith. Christianity is based upon the claims that Christ made about Himself and the eyewitness accounts of His life, death, and resurrection as recorded in the New Testament in undeniable fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. The distinctions that make Christianity unique are irreconcilable with any other religious belief, and any attempt at ecumenical unity is a denial of biblical Christianity. Consistent with the distinctiveness of Christianity, the Bible also teaches that peace will not come to this world through the triumph of Christ’s teachings , but only through His personal return to reign from Jerusalem . In fact, His teachings cannot be separated from Himself. That was the very challenge with which Jesus confronted the Jewish religious leaders in His day:
Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. (John 5:39,40)
How dare anyone think that a world ripening for judgment can be rescued by Christians working together in political/social activism with the followers of all religions, and with humanists and atheists! Scripture says repeatedly that nothing but the personal and physical return of Christ to this earth can put an end to its wickedness and suffering. Paul declared that “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together” as it longs for a release that can come only through “the manifestation of the sons of God” (Romans:8:19-22). Paul makes very clear what this means: That only when Christians have received their immortal bodies and are glorified with Christ (verses 23-25), ruling and reigning upon this earth with Him, will earth be delivered from its turmoil and pain.
The last days before Christ’s return are indeed prophesied as a period of growing evil, error, and spiritual delusion, manifested in both the world and the professing church. There are also, however,

indications in Scripture that in the last days, millions of people around the world will receive Christ as Savior and Lord, thus hastening His return. Many of them will be the most unlikely candidates for salvation—New Agers, drug addicts, prison inmates, communists, Muslims, Catholics, the poor and outcasts of society—as Christ seemed to indicate in the parable of the great supper:
Then the master of the house being angry [at those who accepted his invitation, but failed to come to the feast and tried to cover up their unwillingness with pitiful excuses] said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. (Luke:14:21-23)
Evangelicals tend to present the gospel exclusively as a remedy for personal sin and the procurement of an eternal home in heaven. They generally neglect to proclaim it as God’s means of bringing peace to this troubled planet, as did the angels at the birth of Christ and as did the early church. It is the duty of every Christian political leader, whether president, ambassador, or other official, to make very clear to the entire world that all human efforts to achieve peace are in vain unless Jesus Christ is invited back to this earth to reign in individual hearts and over all nations.
Viewing Current Events Through Scripture
From the perspective of biblical prophecy, extreme caution is in order, rather than the popular euphoria, in appraising the recent introduction of new freedoms in communist nations and improved relations with the West. We dare not neglect the guidance of Scripture in evaluating current events. And if we will heed God’s Word, we will see that what we have been witnessing increasingly around the world could well be leading not to the solution of mankind’s problems but to history’s greatest disaster.
How can we make such a definite declaration? Isn’t it dangerous to attempt to correlate current events with biblical prophecy? Indeed it is. Nevertheless, if Bible prophecy concerning the “last days” is truly inspired of God, the time must come when what the prophets have written describes current developments.
The euphoria of millions freed from communist rule in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union was quickly followed by the misery of even worse poverty. Government oppression was replaced by increasing lawlessness, the influx of cults, the explosion of incipient immorality, corruption, and occultism. The Eastern republics witnessed an Islamic takeover with accompanying terrorism. Is history repeating its endless cycle? Humanistic hopes for a new and bet-ter world seemingly find justification in technology’s amazing promises. Yet biblical prophecy offers sober insights to those who will give heed.
William Manchester’s gripping biography of Sir Winston Churchill confronts us with unpleasant and haunting reminders of Hitler—a man who came extremely close to being the Antichrist, and who deceived the entire world for a time with his promises of peace:
Thomas Jones, who had been in and out of Whitehall for a quarter century, wrote in his diary: “...all sorts of people who have met Hitler are convinced that he is a factor for peace....”
Meeting the press after he had been closeted with Hitler for an hour, Lloyd George said he regarded him as “the greatest living German....”
Arnold Toynbee...equally spellbound by the Reich chancellor, declared that he was “convinced of his sincerity in desiring peace in Europe and close friendship with England.”
Winston Churchill was not deceived by Hitler, but he stood almost alone in warning the world that the Fuhrer’s real intentions would envelop Europe in war. Looking back with the clear view we now have, it seems incredible that the leading figures of the day were almost unanimous in their praise of the irrational demigod who had become Germany’s leader, and in their confidence that peace was assured. The deception was well-nigh universal. Yet the rising political star whom everyone praised was a dangerous megalomaniac who would one day take his place with the most inhumane monsters in history. Moreover, he had frankly revealed his evil designs from the very beginning, in Mein Kampf and other writings, and in his speeches. Yet so hopeful was the world for peace at any price that almost no one was willing to face the painful truth.
So it is today. Like Churchill in England, Netanyahu is one of the few Israeli leaders who was not deceived by Arafat’s promises at Oslo. He wrote: “…my party and I were virtually isolated in our warning that Arafat would not keep his word…. We were widely castigated as enemies of peace…. Our argument was that handing Gaza over to Arafat would immediately create a lush terrorist haven….” Of course, he was right.
History has proven again and again that international leaders can be both mistaken and misunderstood. Key events can be badly misconstrued. Assurances of peace and security can seem never more certain than when the world, in fact, is teetering on the very brink of disaster. On the other hand, the worldwide terrorism still unchecked despite another Gulf War...and continuing hopelessness in Israel, could very well be the necessary catalyst to bring about the prophesied false peace. The unforgettable statement by Tajikistan’s ambassador to the UN at the UN’s emergency session in the wake of the devastation on September 11, 2001, may well be prophetic: “Nothing else in history or even conceivable could possibly unite the world as this event.” [Except, perhaps, another national or international cataclysm which will galvanize political support for the globalist agenda to establish a New World Order.]
Unfortunately, truth in politics is almost impossible to uncover—which makes it all the more important that we discern what the Bible says. If ever there were a time when we needed to ask God for wisdom and seek to understand what His Word has prophesied for our own day, it is now.

By Dave Hunt