Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dear Christianity Haters

By Dale V. Nobbman

Dear Christianity Haters,

It is obvious most of you have never studied world history or read the Bible in depth.  If you had done either or both of these two things, you would know you are 'wasting' your earthly life by waging a 'futile' war on Christianity.  You would know that the more intensely Christians and Christianity have been persecuted over the last nearly 2,000 years (since the days of the early church in the 1st century) the more the flames of Christianity have been fanned.  Christianity has actually spread and increased with every attempt to 'extinquish' it over the centuries by countless people, organizations, armies, rulers, and nations.  The simple truth is that the 'Word of God' found in the Bible will not and cannot be 'chained'...end of story! 
The Bible says, "God will not be mocked" and that "only a fool mocks God."  The emptiness you feel in your life will not be filled by mocking and persecuting Christians and Christianity.  The nagging emptiness you experience has driven you to do something, or anything that will make you feel 'important', even if its the wrong thing or an evil thing to do.  Hopefully some day you will realize the only thing that will fill the emptiness in your life is to have a personal relationship with God's son, Jesus Christ.  
Meanwhile, the sad fact is that Satan has spiritually 'blinded' you from the truth.  The truth is that when our mortal bodies die, our 'spirit' lives on eternally either in Heaven or in Hell.  If you believe there is absolutely 'nothing' after physical death, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but you don't get off that easy, and what you think or believe about it does not change reality.  Satan has deceived 'billions' of human beings over the centuries into believing countless lies, including the afore mentioned lie about no after-life, along with lies designed to persuade people to follow all kinds of 'false' religions over the years and blindly lead them straight to Hell.  The straight truth is Heaven and Hell are real places and that is the simple fact of the matter. 
There is one decision in life 'nobody' can avoid, and where you spend your eternal life depends on the decision you make to either 'accept or reject' Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as your Lord and Savior.  The catch is that the decision to believe in Jesus Christ must be made before your physical death, because there is no second chance to accept Jesus after you die and you will definitely be spending eternity in Hell.  Being thrown into the 'Lake of Fire' does not sound appealing to me and it shouldn't to you.  The biblical book of Revelation states, "the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur."  This is the same 'Lake of Fire' where Satan will eventually be placed and eternally tormented!
Now, by this point in the letter, if reading what has been said either surprises, offends, angers, or frightens you, then it unfortunately proves that you have been spiritually blinded by Satan, because there is nothing written in this letter that will surprise, offend, anger or frighten believers in Jesus Christ, because Christians are certain of their eternal destination in Heaven...and they have nothing to fear from either death, Hell, or the Lake of Fire.       
I pray, dear Christianity haters, you will not continue to be deceived and blinded by Satan into hating Christians and Christianity, and rejecting the free gift of redemption and salvation offered to you by the grace of God.  God loves you and desires that you spend eternity in Heaven...and this is achieved by simply believing in His Son, Jesus Christ.  I challenge you to read the Bible from cover to cover and not become a changed person with a very different perspective on the world you live in.  If you will get right with God by believing in what Jesus did for you on the cross, then you will obtain your spiritual 'sight' through the power of the Holy Spirit working in your life.  Jesus Christ is the 'Light of the World' and the only light required for you to gain your spiritual sight in order for you to make the correct choice as to your eternal home. 
Dear Christianity haters...have you made your decision yet on where YOU will spend eternity?  The time clock of life continues ticking, so don't procrastinate for too long!   
God gave you life for a reason.  You are in the 'here and now' for a purpose, but that purpose is not to persecute Christianity, unless God ultimately intends to use your zest of persecution for eventual good, as He did with the Apostle Paul in the 1st century.  You can read all about the very interesting and remarkable life of Paul in the Bible.  He was at first a 'fierce' persecutor of Christians in the early days of the church, before his eventual conversion to Christianity.  Paul went on to become the first Christian missionary and theologian, and one of the greatest Christians to ever live.  It was Paul who wrote the following in the biblical book of Galatians, "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkeness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."  And again in the biblical book of Corinthians Paul wrote, "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." 
The types of people listed above by Paul as practicing 'deeds of the flesh' will not have their names written in the Lamb's 'Book of Life' and will not gain entrance to Heaven.  If Jesus says to you at the 'judgement seat of Christ' after your physical death "I never knew you, begone from me you doers of wickedness" then your eternal destination will be in Hell.  However, if you repent of your sins and 'deeds of the flesh' and ask for God's forgiveness, then Paul says "you will be washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God", and then Jesus will welcome you to Heaven where you will spend eternity with Him.  Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another." 
Dear Christianity haters, I would say you have set your sights on the wrong 'target' to hate.  What you should be waging war on, hating, and crucifying are the 'deeds of the flesh', that is, if you truly want to make this current earthly world a better place to live in, while at the same time glorifying the Creators of this world, God's Son,
Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and our Heavenly Father, the Almighty and Everlasting God.  Together they are the Alpha and Omega! 
You may not be a Paul, but you are a very special and unique person created by God according to His perfect planning and timing.  Your uniqueness is proven by your fingerprints and DNA, and as far as being special, just think about the advance planning God invested in you being here today.  Let me try to illustrate an example of how special you are in the big picture of time.  If you go back through ten generations of your ancestors, which would take you back to about the time when the Pilgrims and Puritans first landed in America, give or take a few years, you would have 1,024 'direct' ancestors in just parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, etc., assuming no siblings or cousins hooked up along the way.  Go back additional generations and the number of your direct ancestors becomes mind boggling.  Anyway, for this illustration, let's stick to your 1,024 direct ancestors over ten generations.  In order for you to be here today and to be the exact person you are in all aspects, God had to make sure there were no abortions, no miscarriages, no fatal accidents, no fatal illnesses, and no 'premature' deaths of any kind in the lives of any of those 1,024 people in order for you to be here and be the person you are today!  All those couples had to meet each other at just the 'perfect' time and in most cases fall in love, get married and have children.  If this example of God's perfect planning and timing doesn't make you feel 'special', I guess I don't know what would, but I hope you see that you do not have to 'sell your soul' to the Devil to feel special, because we are each created a special and unique individual of great importance to God.
In conclusion, how wonderful and awesome it would be if 'converted' Christianity haters would stop 'persecuting' Christianity, but rather utilize their God-given talents and energy for 'promoting' Christianity.  It is so very obvious we need to get Christianity back in our schools, our government, and our homes.  By restoring Christian principles in our schools, government, and families, and reintroducing the Christian 'fruits of the Spirit' mentioned above back into our daily lives, we would without a doubt reduce the number of mass killings, suicides, and other societal and personal tragedies we continue to experience in increasing frequency on virtually a daily basis today.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Who Is Jesus? - Correcting LDS Fallacies

When an LDS person is asked the question, “Do you know Jesus?”, many will say, “Of course I know Jesus, I have read stories about Him, I have heard talks about Him, I pray in His name, and I belong to a church that has His name on our buildings.” When they say this, the next question to ask is, “Does He know you?” More often than not they then tell about the preexistence, heavenly parents, and how Jesus is our elder brother and that we grew up there with Him – and thus we know Him and He knows us as His siblings, for we all came from heaven. This answer gives an opening to ask how this could be, for the Bible tells us that Jesus alone came from heaven—we did not (John:8:23; 3:13, 31; 6:62; 1 Corinthians:15:46-47). The Bible teaches of Jesus who is God who became a man to save us from our sin (Matthew:1:23; John:1:1, 14, 29; 3:16).
When Adam sinned and death entered the human race, God promised to send a Redeemer, “the seed of the woman” (Genesis:3:15; Isaiah:7:14). Jesus of the Bible is that Virgin-born Son of God; God, who is Spirit (John:4:24; Luke:1:26-31). Jesus is indeed Immanuel, God with us. (Matthew:1:23; John:1:1, 14; Galatians:4:4). He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John:1:29). Jesus compared knowing Him to having eternal life (John:17:3). In other words, just knowing about Him without knowing WHO HE IS will not give us eternal life. We have to have a personal relationship with Him. The Bible warns about false prophets and teachers who teach of another Jesus (same name but a different person – 2 Corinthians:11:4, 13-15). Jesus himself said “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven.” Knowing His name and even having done “wonderful works” in His name but not having personal relationship with Him will not do. “On that day,” Judgment Day, He will have to say, “I never knew you: depart from Me” (Matthew:7:21-23). Jesus is God who came to save us from our sins, but if we do not know and acknowledge  who He is , the Great I AM, we will die in our sins and therefore cannot enter the kingdom of heaven (John:8:24; 58-59). Only God can forgive sins (Mark:2:7). Jesus is 100 percent God and 100 percent man. “In Him dwells all fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians:2:9). He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians:1:15). He came to fulfill all that the prophets of the Old Testament had foretold about Him. Every book of the Bible is about Him (Luke:24:25-27, 44-47). His life, death, and resurrection is for all who in faith accept Him (1 Corinthians:15:1-4; Romans:10:9-10; Ephesians:2:8-9). When we receive Him, we BECOME children of God (John:1:12-13; 3:7) and are born again of the Spirit of God.
The Mormon Church and its leaders have taught that Jesus was married and a polygamist—as their God the Father also is married and a polygamist—and that all mankind were born as spirit children to him and his many wives in the preexistence, Jesus being the eldest of all of them/us. They teach that since marriage is a requirement for gaining exaltation and godhood in the celestial kingdom, Jesus likewise had to be married in order to become fully a god.
It is amazing how many different ways the enemy of our souls tries to confuse people’s minds of the purpose of God becoming a man in Jesus; namely that He became a man to die for our sins, and through faith in Him as our substitute to provide the way for us to go to heaven.
A few years ago, there was Dan Brown’s popular novel,  The Da Vinci Code , which many, many Mormons and others took as a sure confirmation that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and that they had at least one child….This same confusion, and even excitement is up again among Mormons because some fourth century “faded papyrus fragment, only 1.5 inches by 3 inches, likened to the size of a business card or small cell phone has been found—suggesting that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was actually married.” This fragment was brought to light a couple of weeks ago by Harvard Divinity School professor, Karen King, who also says “the papyrus fragment, even if it’s determined to be authentic, does not provide evidence that Jesus was married, but merely that hundreds of years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, some believed He had a wife….The Bible never even hints that Jesus was married.” Wolf-Peter Funk, a Coptic linguist, (among others) doubts the authenticity (of this fragment), calling its form “suspicious.” He told the AP “there’s no way to evaluate the significance of the fragment because it has no context. There are thousands of scraps of papyrus where you find crazy things,” said Funk, (co-director of a project editing the Nag Hammadi Coptic library at Laval University in Quebec). “It can be anything,” he said. “Part of the mystery of the fragment is that no one seems to be sure of its origin and provenance, a history of where it has been. Plus, its owner has asked to remain anonymous. This is now being labeled by experts as fraudulent….” (Copied from  WND  report of 9/19/12, emphasis added.)
It is amazing to see how gullible people indeed are. The New Testament, written during the First Century A.D. by eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life and His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to heaven, does not say anything about Jesus being married, but a tiny fragment by an anonymous writer, without context to anything, written about 350 years after Jesus’ life, is all of a sudden taken as “proof” that He was married! It is incredible that people are so eager to believe something like this, and by so doing they discredit God’s purposes and Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John:1:29).

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What Your Atheist Friend Knows About God (But Doesn't Want to Admit)

Years ago I stood before Michelangelo's David in Florence, Italy. No one questioned that an artist had sculpted this magnificent piece of Renaissance art. It was the work of a genius. Yet, in the same room, no doubt, there were persons calledDavid "atheists" who would deny that a greater Artist was also necessary to create the original David that Michelangelo attempted to imitate. The true David, like other creations of God, was far more difficult to make than what Michelangelo crafted out of stone. That David had functioning eyes that could actually see, instead of an orb of stone.

Underneath the atheist's claim lies a nagging knowledge that a Creator actually made man and all the world of nature around him, with its symmetry, intricacy and beauty. The atheist may suppress that knowledge as a way to make room for his sin, but it is so obvious that only a man seeking to eradicate his moral problem could deny it.

And this is exactly what God tells us:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools . . . (Romans 1:18-22)

I have talked with atheists through the years. So far, each one that I can remember has finally admitted to me that he would not believe in God even if there were proof that He existed. This may not be what all atheists could bring themselves to admit, but it is exactly what God states is the case. What can we say then to that honest admission? Most [all?] atheists are moral ones, not intellectual ones.


But there is another fact that atheists believe about God. They believe that they are doing wrong when they sin and they deserve to be punished (Romans 1:32). Again, they may not readily admit this.

Where does this sense of sin come from?

First, it comes from the knowledge of the existence of God, as I already mentioned. But, second, God teaches that they "know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things [i.e. sins he had just listed] are worthy of death" (Romans 1:32).The phrase, "ordinance of God" is specially used by Paul in Romans to describe what is under the law, those fundamental standards of God rather than the written Law of Moses. This means that without any written Law, their consciences indict them. In other words, they live in an inner world of allegations and defenses, proving that underneath it all, they believe God is there and has a standard by which to live. His actions and thoughts bear this out over and over again. He cannot deny this if he looks closely at his behavior and thoughts.

These two facts leave men and women, atheistic or not, in a frightening position before the God who is actually there. It is wonderful when an atheist will admit these truths honestly and openly. He is on his way to the best of lives and forgiveness of his rebellion against God. It will take more knowledge-the knowledge of the gospel itself-along with true repentance and belief in Christ, before he will have life from God, a life that gives evidence to the authenticity of that faith.

Let's pray that God will open our friend's eyes to see what he or she, in fact, already knows.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Early Church Errors Repeating?

An excerpt from  How Close Are We?
The Blessed Hope
With Christ’s  I will come again!  still fresh in memories, the early Christians eagerly waited and watched for their Lord’s return. He had said that they were not of this world, but that He had chosen them out of it. Paul would soon write under His Lord’s inspiration: “For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20,21). The world held little interest for these citizens of heaven. They were homesick for the Father’s house, longing to be with their Lord in that eternal haven of rest.
Hated, persecuted, and killed by Rome, the early church took comfort in the belief that Christ might return at any moment to rescue His followers from their trials. Paul called the anticipation of an imminent Rapture “that blessed hope” (Titus:2:13), and indeed it was for those early believers who went through “fiery trials” and “rejoiced at being partakers of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter:4:12,13). How they longed to leave this world to be with Him!
As the weary weeks became years, however, and the years multiplied into decades, and finally centuries passed, the vast majority of those who claimed to be Christ’s followers gave less and less thought to that “blessed hope.” The promise of Christ’s return was first neglected and then forgotten. Finally it was lost in the maze of new interpretations and heresies which began to multiply. Attitudes and outlook changed. Citizenship in heaven had proved to be too nebulous a concept. Something more tangible was desired. Being despised on this earth, hated, persecuted, and killed, as their Lord had been, no longer seemed a necessary accompaniment of true Christianity. Perhaps this world had something to offer after all. Perhaps the church could even take the leadership in political affairs and transform the world, establishing the kingdom in Christ’s absence. A more accommodating attitude toward secular society might even make the unsaved more receptive to the gospel—especially if they realized that becoming a Christian needn’t mean persecution or even much of a change in one’s way of life.
The First “Vicar of Christ”
The steadily worsening apostasy took on a hitherto unimagined dimension with the ascent to power of a new Emperor in a.d. 313. He was a brilliant military strategist and general named Constantine. He also had a genius for political organization and realism. Constantine faced the fact that almost three centuries of persecuting Christians had not stamped out that strange sect. Instead it had only grown until nearly one out of every ten citizens in the empire was among that despised band.
Tertullian’s remark that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church, inexplicable though it might be, had proved to be true. People apparently wanted something more than pleasure and profit. Only firmly held convictions worth dying for could make life worth living. These “followers of the way,” as they were called in those early days of the church, even prayed for the Roman emperors and other magistrates and soldiers who persecuted and killed them! Why not take advantage of that exemplary loyalty to kings and kingdoms which seemed to be a part of this strange religion?
The Christians were conscientious, hard workers. They didn’t get drunk or rebel against the government. Insurrection was not in their natures. Then why not encourage them, give them full rights? Perhaps their philosophy of industry and fidelity would spread to other citizens. The empire would be much the better for it if the numbers of Christians multiplied. The new policy was a very pragmatic one.
To further this strategy, Constantine himself claimed to have become a Christian, though he continued, as Pontifex Maximus, to head the pagan priesthood and to preside over the pagan holiday ceremonies. Of course, that was his duty as emperor and it was excused in view of his encouragement of the building of Christian churches. A new day of tolerance had dawned.
Worshiped as God, the emperor was the head of the empire’s official religion. Now that Christianity was recognized along with the old paganism, Constantine assumed leadership of the Christian church. In doing so, he took the title Vicar of Christ. Posing as the church’s greatest friend and benefactor, and perhaps even doing so sincerely, Constantine became its destroyer.
Christ had refused Satan’s offer of the kingdoms of this world if He would but bow down to him. In a moment of weakness, a church weary of persecution accepted the same offer from Satan, this time presented through the Roman emperor. It was the beginning of centuries of what would be known as the church’s “Babylonian captivity.”
Augustine lamented that those who were now inside the church were “drunkards, misers, tricksters, gamblers, adulterers, fornicators, people wearing amulets, assiduous clients of sorcerers, astrologers... the same crowds that press into the churches on Christian festivals also fill the theatres on pagan holidays.” For many Christians, however, it was a welcome change to go from being despised, hated, hunted, and killed, to being popular and even leaders in the world.
Once it had meant almost certain persecution and possible death to heed the gospel. There had been little need to worry about false professions of faith under those circumstances. Now it was just the opposite. False professions were more the rule than the exception.
The Church Marries the World
In the new order of things under Constantine, it had become a great advantage to be a Christian. One had to attend the growing number of Christian churches to get anywhere in business, politics, and even in the military. Conversions of convenience multiplied as church attendance soared.
Corruption quickly reached to the top in the church. The empire’s best-paying jobs with the most worldly prestige and influence were in church leadership. Constantine encouraged the growth of an ecclesiastical system that he could use to his own ends. It attracted men whose ambitions were not to gain reward in the world to come but in the present one.
Many who rose to power within the church hierarchy were master politicians who knew how to use Christian terminology but knew not Christ. As Will Durant put it in  The Story of Civilization , the paganism of Rome “passed like maternal blood into the new religion, and captive Rome captured her conqueror. While Christianity converted the world, the world converted Christianity.” What a tragic commentary! Such was the birth of Roman Catholicism, which would dominate the scene from that moment on.
The church that was supposed to be the bride of Christ, awaiting eagerly the return of her Bridegroom to take her to heaven, had tired of waiting for Him and married the world instead. Now occupied with building an earthly kingdom over which she could reign in an adulterous partnership with kings and emperors, the church lost its hope of heaven and began to look upon itself as the replacement for God’s earthly people, Israel. Forgotten were admonitions such as this from the Lord: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt and thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew:6:19-21).
In disobedience to her Lord, the church became the wealthiest institution on earth and gloried in her earthly treasures. Much of the wealth was acquired by selling salvation. Every sin had its price for “forgiveness.” The greater and more numerous the sins the wealthier the church of Rome became. Crosses and altars that supposedly depicted the sacrifice of Christ were gilded with gold. Bishops, cardinals, and popes, who claimed to be the successors of barefoot fishermen disciples, lived lifestyles that shamed even secular kings. The perversion of the church which began with Constantine continued to worsen through the centuries, giving us today’s Roman Catholicism....
Hope of the Rapture Is Lost
There was no longer any reason for Christ to return. Claiming that Constantine had given them his authority, the popes ruled with an iron hand over what they conceived to be “the kingdom of God” come to earth. To this day the popes proudly bear Constantine’s three religious titles: Pontifex Maximus, Vicar of Christ, and Bishop of Bishops....
The Rapture is unknown in today’s Roman Catholicism. In fact, it is specifically contradicted by the twin Catholic dogmas of purgatory and indulgences. Although down through the centuries there have been many relatively small groups of evangelical believers independent of and persecuted by Rome, they, too, for the most part lost the hope of the Rapture....
The Reformation did little to recover any hope in Christ’s promise, “I will come again and receive you unto myself.” The Rapture is generally denied or has little importance among Reformed groups such as Presbyterians and Lutherans. There seemed to be good reason to avoid that teaching due to past fanaticism surrounding it. The best proof that the hope of an imminent Rapture was not biblical was found in the fact that Christ had not yet come.
Unfortunately, when the “blessed hope” of Christ’s imminent return has been revived periodically in the last two centuries, the excitement created here and there has usually developed into date setting, causing the Rapture to become an object of derision. Voluntarily divested of their earthly possessions, cruelly deluded, white-robed zealots have more than once waited in vain on hilltop or rooftop while the promised hour came and went. Such fanatical anticipation has always subsided once again into disillusionment and forgetfulness....
In the wake of such excited anticipation and then disappointment, greater disillusionment than ever has now smothered the legitimate hope of Christ’s imminent return. The Rapture and Second Coming are now looked upon as topics to be avoided by the vast majority of Christians—and, it would seem, with good reason. The gospel, too, because it was clearly preached by these date setters, has come in for increasing mockery.
Bringing Heaven to Earth
A surprising number of today’s evangelicals are rejecting the Rapture in favor of remaining here to take over the world. There is an entire movement known as Manifest Sons which rejects the Rapture. It is up to Christians, according to this teaching, to “manifest” themselves as “sons of God” by attaining to sinless perfection and immortality. This, they say, will not happen at the return of Christ, but must be accomplished to bring Him back. Overcomers who manifest themselves as sons of God in this way are then, in that power, to take over the world. When the church has established the kingdom, Christ will return to earth, not to take anyone to heaven but to rule over the kingdom the overcomers present to Him.
This clearly unbiblical teaching originated in a Pentecostal revival in Canada around 1948....Though immediately condemned as heresy by the Assemblies of God, and confined to a fanatical fringe for years, this teaching [has become “gospel”]  among many Pentecostals and charismatics. In complete disregard for Christ’s promise to take us to heaven and for other Scriptures we have already cited, one of the leaders in the movement, writes: “You can study books about going to heaven in a so-called ‘rapture’ if that turns you on. We want to study the Bible to learn to live and to love and to bring heaven to earth.”
The consequences are rather severe for those who embrace  this deception. The Scripture plainly declares that Christ is going to catch us up to meet Him in the air and take us to heaven. Therefore all those who meet a “Christ” with their feet planted on this earth—a “Christ” who hasn’t come to take them to heaven but to reign over the kingdom they’ve established for him—have been working for Antichrist!
It is often argued that belief in a pre-trib Rapture leaves one unprepared to face Antichrist and susceptible to deception. The facts are just the opposite. It is those who deny the Rapture who have set themselves up for the most horrible deception. Antichrist will pretend to be the very “Christ” whom they expect to come to earth to reign. He will congratulate them on the good work they’ve done in preparing the world for his rule. Hundreds of millions of those who call themselves Christians will be completely deceived.
Strong Delusion from God
Antichrist will do exactly what the Bible foretells. For example, as a means of stabilizing world economies, he’ll set up a worldwide system for buying and selling which will employ the number 666 in some way....Those who don’t obey him will not be allowed to buy or sell. He will set up his image in the temple—an image which all will be forced to worship on threat of death. How could one witness such events, all prophesied in Scripture and attributed to the Antichrist, and imagine that Christ was doing them?
Paul warns that God Himself will send a strong delusion to those who, prior to the Rapture, refused to receive the love of the truth. Those who reject the clear teaching of Scripture concerning the Rapture and opt instead to take over the world have already demonstrated their rejection of God’s truth. They will be completely convinced that Antichrist is Christ and will follow him enthusiastically. He will fulfill all the expectations they had concerning Christ’s return.
Won’t the disappearance of scores of millions of Christians prove to the hundreds of millions of professing Christians who are left behind that the Rapture has indeed taken place? No. There will be explanations to prove that what occurred was not the Rapture. For example, part of the Manifest Sons teaching is that those who refuse to accept their doctrine and do not become overcomers will be instantly removed to judgment. This is their interpretation of “Then shall be two in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (Matthew:24:40,41).
That those who embrace the Manifest Sons teaching have been left behind will not trouble them at all. Indeed, it will  prove that they are the faithful ones. It is the missing, so they will believe, who have been taken away to judgment and who are thus to be mourned. What a setup for Antichrist!

By Dave Hunt

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Having Peace in Every Circumstance, Part 2

By John MacArthur

It’s only through God’s grace that believers can face every circumstance with calm, assured peace. Anxiety does not have to reign in our hearts—we can hold fast to God’s peace and provision through any of life’s storms.
We’ve been looking at the nature of the peace God grants to believers, as explained in Paul’s prayer from the church at Thessalonica in 2 Thessalonians 3:16, 18.
Not only is that peace divine in origin, but it is also a gift. When Paul prayed, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace,” the word translated “grant” is the verb meaning “to give.” It speaks of a gift. God’s peace is a sovereign, gracious gift bestowed on those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Psalm 85:8, a verse you may have never noticed before, the psalmist stated, “I will hear what God the Lord will say; for He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones.” God grants peace to those who belong to Him. Jesus said, “My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). There’s no greater gift for the anxious than God’s peace.
Some, however, will seek relief for their anxieties through a false peace. God is generous to whom He grants His peace, but there is a limit. Isaiah wrote, “‘Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who is near,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will heal him.’ But the wicked are like the tossing sea, for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up refuse and mud. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked’” (Isaiah 57:19-21). He will grant peace to those who come to Him from near and far—those who grew up hearing much about Him and those who heard little to nothing—but those who don’t come to Him, the wicked, enjoy no real peace.
Thomas Watson explains further:

Peace flows from sanctification, but they being unregenerate, have nothing to do with peace. . . . They may have a truce, but no peace. God may forbear the wicked a while, and stop the roaring of His cannon; but though there be a truce, yet there is no peace. The wicked may have something which looks like peace, but it is not. They may be fearless and stupid; but there is a great difference between stupefied conscience, and a pacified conscience. . . . This is the devil’s peace; he rocks men in the cradle of security; he cries, Peace, peace, when men are on the precipice of hell. The seeming peace a sinner has, is not from the knowledge of his happiness, but the ignorance of his danger (A Body of Divinity [Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1986 reprint], p.262).
The peace of the wicked is born out of delusion. True peace is the child of saving grace. In a prayer similar to the one that closes 2 Thessalonians, Paul said, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13). Peace is a gift to those who believe.
And God’s peace is the gift that keeps on giving. A less commercial way to express that truth is how Paul said it: “May the Lord of peace . . . continually grant you peace” (2 Thessalonians 3:16). By adding “continually,” Paul was emphasizing that it is constantly available. The implication is, however, that it can be interrupted.
It isn’t God who interrupts our spiritual peace, but us. We can suspend the flow of peace in our lives by succumbing to our flesh, which is still part of this world. Unless we “walk by the Spirit,” our means of controlling the flesh (Galatians 5:16), we are open season to all kinds of anxieties: the dread of the unknown, the fear of death, the loss of a loved one—and we all can list a string of others.
How does this unfortunate process begin? When we stop focusing on our permanent condition in Christ, who will certainly bring us to glory. And when we start basing our happiness on the fleeting things of the world. Those things by definition will change. Thus, if we get upset when they do, we will spend our lives in distress.
People who can ride through the toughest issues of life and remain calm are not indifferent; they’re just trusting God. What if our ride is a little bumpy? What if we’re feeling troubled, anxious, and fearful? How can we restore the peace? How can it remain uninterrupted?
The psalmist said to himself, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God” (Psalm 42:11). He reminded himself that God was there to help him. We can trust Him because He is trustworthy. He genuinely cares for us.
Long ago, God made it perfectly clear to Israel that peace comes from obeying His Word (Leviticus 26:1-6). The same truth applies today. Peace is restored through obedience. The first step is to turn from sin. Sometimes the sin is the doubt, fear, and anxiety itself, but also it can be an underlying sin that has produced those feelings. Probe your heart and isolate the cause of unrest. Forsake the sin that has been revealed to you and obey God by applying the opposite virtue. In the case of anxiety, that means having faith in God to help you manage life’s details.
Something else that will restore your peace is to accept whatever stresses or challenges God has seen fit to bring into your life. In the book of Job we read:

Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For He inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds, and His hands also heal. . . . In famine He will redeem you from death, And in war from the power of the sword. You will be hidden from the scourge of the tongue, and you will not be afraid of violence when it comes. You will laugh at violence and famine, and you will not be afraid of wild beasts. For you will be in league with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field will be at peace with you. You will know that your tent is secure, for you will visit your abode and fear no loss (Job 5:17-18, 20-24).
If you understand that God is using all the difficulties you face to perfect you, you’ll be at peace. It is not all for nothing. You may not always know why you’re going through this or that, but be encouraged that there is a good reason. Turning to the New Testament, Paul said if you want peace, do good (Romans 2:10). All who do good will enjoy peace. To be more specific, “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable. . . . And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17-18). Living according to the Word—according to heavenly wisdom, to God’s revealed standard of righteousness—brings peace.
If you’ve lost God’s peace in your life, you can find it again. Retrace your steps by trusting God in everything, turning from sin and walking in obedience, enduring His refining work in your life, doing what is good, and living by His Word in a righteous way. As Paul said, God’s peace is continually available to you. Avail yourself of it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Having Peace in Every Circumstance, Part 1

By John MacArthur 

Any anxious Christian would love to have this prayer offered on his behalf: “May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. . . . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
Those powerful, encouraging words come from the apostle Paul at the end of his second letter to the Thessalonian church (2 Thessalonians 3:16, 18). They serve as a potent reminder of where we can and should turn when anxiety threatens—to “the Lord of peace Himself.”
Peace is commonly defined as the sense of calm, tranquility, quietness, bliss, contentment, and well-being that we feel when everything is going the way we’d like it to go. That definition, however, is incomplete because those feelings can also be produced by a pill—or by alcohol, biofeedback, a nap, a generous inheritance, or even deliberate deception. The reassurance of a friend or someone you love can also produce that kind of temporary peace.
That’s not the kind of peace Paul had in mind. Godly peace has nothing to do with human beings or human circumstances. In fact, it cannot be produced on a human level at all. Any manufactured or manipulated peace is very fragile. It can be destroyed instantly by failure, doubt, fear, difficulty, guilt, shame, distress, regret, sorrow, the anxiety of making a wrong choice, the anticipation of being mistreated or victimized by someone, the uncertainty of the future, and any challenge to our position or possessions. And we experience those things daily.
The peace that God gives is not subject to fluctuations and uncertainties of life. It is spiritual peace; it’s an attitude of the heart and mind when we believe and therefore know deep down that all is well between ourselves and God. Along with it is the assurance that He is lovingly in control of everything. We as Christians should know for certain that our sins are forgiven, that God is concerned with our well-being, and that heaven is our destiny. God’s peace is our possession and privilege by divine right.
Paul defines this peace for us in several ways in 2 Thessalonians 3:16. To begin with, it is divine: “May the Lord of peace Himself . . . grant you peace” (emphasis added). The Lord of peace is the One who gives it. The pronoun Himself is emphatic in the Greek text and underscores God’s personal involvement. Christian peace, the peace unique to believers, comes personally from Him. It is the very essence of His nature.
To put it simply, peace is an attribute of God. If I asked you to list the attributes of God, these are ones that would probably come most readily to mind: His love, grace, mercy, justice, holiness, wisdom, truth, omnipotence, omniscience, immutability, and immortality. But do you ever think of God as being characterized by peace?
In fact, He is peace. Whatever it is that He gives us, He has and He is. There is no lack of perfect peace in His being. God is never stressed. He is never anxious. He never worries. He never doubts. He never fears. God is never at cross purposes with Himself. He never has problems making up His mind.
God lives in perfect calm and contentment. Why? Because He’s in charge of everything and can operate everything perfectly according to His own will. Since He is omniscient, He is never surprised. There are not threats to His omnipotence. There is no possible sin that can stain His holiness. Even His wrath is clear, controlled, and confident. There is no regret in His mind for He has never done, said, or thought anything that He would change in any way.
God enjoys perfect harmony within Himself. Our Bibles call Him “the Lord of peace,” but in the Greek text a definite article appears before the word translated “peace,” meaning He literally is “the Lord of the peace.” This is real peace—the divine kind, not the kind the world has. Paul’s prayer is that we might experience that kind of peace. Its source is God and God alone.
Tomorrow, we’ll look further at the nature of that peace.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

THE BIBLICAL LITERACY OF TEENAGE BELIEVERS, 9/12/12, “The Biblical Literacy of Teenage Believers” [Excerpts]:

Youth ministry researcher Chap Clark says, “I’m convinced that the single most important area where we’ve lost ground with kids is in our commitment and ability to ground them in God’s Word.”
As a result, Barry Shafer says, “The church today, including both the adult and teenage generations, is in an era of rampant biblical illiteracy.” Duffy Robbins takes this one step further when he says: “Our young people have become incapable of theological thinking because they don’t have any theology to think about.… And, as Paul warns us, this…leaves us as ‘infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching’ (Ephesians:4:14).”
At the conclusion of the National Study of Youth and Religion, lead researcher Christian Smith reported: “Even though most teens are very positive about religion and say it’s a good thing, the vast majority are incredibly inarticulate about religion. …It doesn’t seem to us that many teens are being very well-educated in their faith traditions.”
To illustrate his point, Smith refers to teenagers in the study from conservative Protestant churches. “About half of their teens say that many religions may be true; more than one-third say it is okay to practice multiple religions; more than one-third believe people should not try to evangelize others; more than one-third say it is okay to pick and choose one’s religious beliefs and not accept the teachings of one’s faith as a whole, and nearly two-thirds say a person can be truly religious and spiritual without being involved in a church.”
Summarizing the entire study, Smith reports, “The net result…is that most religious teenagers’ opinions and views—one can hardly call them worldviews—are vague, limited, and often quite at variance with the actual teachings of their own religion.”
Duffy Robbins considers possible causes when he says: “The church in general, and youth ministry in particular, has demonstrated more of an appetite for goose bumps than for God’s truth, more interest in how our young people feel than how they think.… But where are Christian teenagers learning basic tenets of the Christian faith? And if they don’t understand those basic truths or doctrines…then how does that impact their long-term faith? I’m concerned that too much of our teaching is reduced to what can…be communicated by a worship band illuminated by stage lighting and well-placed candles.”
Here is some good news. Churches that tend to produce teenagers who can articulate their faith do exist. The Study of Exemplary Congregations in Youth Ministry identified characteristics shared by 21 churches that perennially are effective in youth ministry. Even across seven denominations, one shared characteristic that rose to the top was: “Bible study and biblical literacy are extensive and