Christian Hope through Fulfilled Bible Prophecy!

Charles Meek, a PCA attendee and founder of the first apologetics website (www.faithfacts.org), has written a very challenging book, “Christian Hope through Fulfilled Bible Prophecy.” After attempting to field a constant barrage of eschatological questions, Charles decided to embark on a thorough study of his own. As noted by his subtitle, “Is Your Church Teaching Error about the Last Days and Second Coming?”, Charles believes that the Church needs an eschatological overhaul. This area has been the church’s Achilles heal for far too long. Charles’ arguments are strong and his commitment to the Bible is even stronger. The link below is a short preamble to this most excellent book.

 
 

Does this stuff really matter? Yes, I think it does. I believe Biblical inspiration and God’s perceived faithfulness is unwittingly being compromised by today’s most popular view, and something is severely amiss. Taking a quick look at the abysmal record of the “experts” proves that there are serous issues with the current system. Charles does a formidable job of helping to right the ship while restoring Scriptural credibility.

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Crash of 2014?

(click on the image for a larger view)
This chart says it all. Look at the headlines that accompanied the 2013 Russell 3000 climb. The bad news was everywhere but look at the results. As they say, even broken clocks are right twice a day.
As 2014 dawned, the market went into a correction mode. Then we trudged through a 6% market correction with the possibility that another of even greater magnitude may be imminent. Who knows. But the point is that we need to listen to reason. Being intimidated by sensational headlines might be hazardous to your health. Being a realist means not ignoring negative sign posts. However, that also means that one must take a comprehensive, balanced approach while not making decisions based upon ominous sounding headlines.
In a recent article, “Crash of 2014: Like 1929, you’ll never hear it coming” (Feb 24, 2014), Paul B. Farrell, in his usual doomsday fashion, sounded the alarm. Could Farrell be right? Sure, even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while. He’s listed a number of financial “experts” who agree that this bull run is over. Soros has apparently doubled down on a serious S&P decline.

But what happens if Farrell’s fear mongering comes and goes with no crash? How many trillions will be lost if he’s wrong? All he wants to talk about are funds lost in a crash. He mentions the trillions lost in 2008 and early 2009. But if they hadn’t turned so frightful and stayed invested, they not only wouldn’t have lost but would have been rewarded handsomely.

Will Farrell ever own up to his prognostication if the sky doesn’t fall in 2014? Most of these guys don’t. They just wait in the wings before sounding their next alarm.

Be careful, be informed, but most of all don’t react emotionally. Fear and greed are not the stuff of sound decisions.

BTW, what happened to the plethora of impending crash predictions over the past twenty five years? How long have they been predicting the U.S. currency collapse?

Back in 1991, financial guru Larry Burkett, in “The Coming Financial Earthquake“, predicted an imminent financial earthquake? What prompted such a godly, astute man, to make such a faulty prediction, which ended up negatively affecting the lives of untold thousands if not millions? Could the answer be rooted in Burkett’s gloom and doom eschatological presuppositions? The pervading negativity over western Christianity appears out of control. Clearly we have serious economic problems, but are they truly insurmountable? It’s my view that this infatuation with the end of the world, which many believe is imminent, seems to be causing Christians to lose focus and subconsciously raise the white flag.

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Scary market chart signaling another crash?

The above market chart superimposes the 17 months of the DOW Jones as it led up to the 1929 market crash, our most recent 17 months (Feb/2014). The implication? Get the heck out of dodge because the market’s about to crash! 
 
Have you ever noticed that we’re always about to enter the next great depression? That we’re ever on the verge of a currency collapse? Or that food shortages and massive civil unrest are just a few ticks away? Better start buying guns, ammo, water, freeze dried foods and stock up on your gold bullion! I never really understood the benefit of having a safe lined with gold during periods of anarchy and societal upheaval. It might be an inflation hedge but it’s not all that nutritious. 🙂  But I digress. 
 

More false dire predictions from John Paul Jackson

Is this “scary parallel” really a reliable indicator warning us of an  impending epic tidal wave? Is it really that simple to predict the future? If it’s that easy, why bother with all the technical analyses and all the financial mumbo jumbo, just scour these mountain charts and begin predicting away! It’s as easy as 1-2-3. And you thought the amazing Ronco slicer/dicer was cool! 
 
Ever wonder why the chartster who first recognized this “frightening” similarity, used this particular 17 month time frame? Why not compare the period 24 or 36 months prior to the 1929 precipitous drop? What’s so magical about 17 months? Could it be because the comparisons wouldn’t have been as startlingly similar? Inquiring minds wanna know.
 
So before jumping off the bridge or cashing in your equities, let’s interject a little common sense into the equation. Consider the following analogy:
 
Johnny Jones just had a massive, fatal heart attack. Johnny was a 53 year 5’11”, 180lb white male, with a body mass index of 26 and body fat ratio of 20%. All pretty average numbers. So, from this can we successfully predict that every 50-55 year old man with similar stats, is about to die of heart failure? Why not? 
 
Because we haven’t taken into consideration ANY of the vital internal factors that may have contributed to this man’s demise. Did he have coronary artery disease or a heart defect? How about diabetes? Was his blood pressure abnormally high? Did he routinely get too little sleep? Was he under severe job pressures? How about his relationships? Did he exercise regularly?
 
These kinds of underlying issues are at the heart of the matter. 🙂  So, in comparison, by using one market chart to make predictions, what have we effectively done? We have ignored all the vital factors surrounding the market. Interest rates. P/E ratios. Liquidity. Inflation. Debt ratios. Economic outlook. Legislative climate. Tax policy. Investor sentiment. Fundamentals. Earning growth or decline. 
 
So which of these many factors are known by simply looking at the above market graph? NONE! And that’s the point. 
 
Could we be entering shark infested market waters? Sure, it’s possible, but without considering ALL these factors, I’m simply questioning the prudence of using one chart to predict a massive stock market collapse. Investor sentiment could clearly be negatively affected by this sort of headline, but unless we’re shorting the market hoping for a self-fulfilling prophecy, doesn’t this kind of one-note-wonder decision-making, seems rather simpleminded? 
 
Not only do I believe it’s not prudent but, I think these kinds of headlines are just plain irresponsible. And it surely causes one to wonder what would motivate a long time industry analyst to make such an outrageous insinuation? This chap wrote, The picture isn’t pretty. And it’s not as easy as you might think to wriggle out from underneath the bearish significance of this chart.
 
Oh really? “Bearish significance” of a time manipulated chart that just so happens to coincide so perfectly? Come on now. All that can be read into one chart with no regard to the zillions of other factors? Something smells rather wharf-like. And given the fact that this 1929 scare piece is still the top story at www.Marketwatch.com, proves that sensationalism sells. 
 
Listen I can’t look into this man’s heart. I don’t know what his motivations are. All I know is that some people are doing everything in their power to sell newsletters, doomsday kits, precious metals and freeze dried apples. Just because it may prove financially rewarding to shock the world, it seems rather disingenuous to me. 
 
This market may in fact soon be rushed by ambulance to the ER, but chances are that this “scary parallel” won’t have proved to be all that predictive. This internet driven 24/7 information age, is wonderful in many regards, but it can also seriously skew our outlook. I believe that if we don’t begin to temper or even mute the constant drum beat of doom by these fear mongers, we’re all going to be prime candidates for a myocardial infarction! Obviously it’s not healthy to ignore pessimistic data, but it’s the kind of information that’s used to predict declines that is important. And this, in my view, is not it. Not alone anyway.  
 
In closing, let me make clear that I’m not in the least suggesting that you buy, sell or hold. Just don’t be frightened by a single, time-manipulated chart. Perhaps a little prudence is in order. 
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That’s just your opinion

When discussing Biblical matters, how often have do you hear the common refrain, “That’s just your opinion”? So what are the often unstated assertions behind that seemingly innocuous statement? Perhaps, that capturing truth is as difficult as nailing jello to a tree? And, only those overcome with arrogance and self delusion are audacious enough to claim they’ve discovered the doctrinal Holy Grail? 
 

 
So, are we hopelessly constrained to the land of opinion with no prayer of certainty about anything? Those of us committed to Biblical inspiration (2 Tim 3:16) agree that objective truth exists, but the $64,000 question is, how can we KNOW when we’ve found it?  It’s not a matter of opinion that Lazarus was raised from the dead or that Saul (the Apostle Paul) was struck by a blinding light before his conversion, but aside from these historical facts, is doctrine relegated to the land of the subjective where it’s always just a matter of opinion?
 
Considering the following divergence of views, and given the fact that honorable, intelligent believers rest on both sides, developing a degree of certainly may seem daunting and perhaps imprudent. Arminianism vs. Calvinism; premillennialism vs preterism; Infant baptism vs. believer’s baptism; immersion vs. pouring vs. no baptism at all; charasmatic gifts are for today vs. the Frozen chosen cessantionists…and the list goes on into perpetuity. Clearly there are Scriptural issues that, because of complexity, may not warrant unwavering dogmatism, but the question remains, are there issues which are at least in part, not consigned to a kind of an ethereal subjectivity?
 
If theological positions are simply matters of opinion, and firm conclusions are merely the fabric of one’s presuppositional persuasions, what inherent value is there in spending countless hours studying the Bible? Reading it, yes. Hiding it in our heart, yes. But why bother with the really in-depth study if at best, we come up with just another opinion that may or may not be true? So, if beyond the historical accounts, we can’t KNOW anything, why bother? 

Seriously, if my conclusions are nothing but a byproduct of my own proclivities and preferences, and the Bible is as malleable as Silly Putty (which some seem to think), why toil in endless hours of discovery?  For example, if I state a doctrinal belief and someone disagrees, are we at an impenetrable impasse with no hope of resolution? Are there objective methods whereby we can determine if our views are errant? 


Let me pause for a moment and offer this disclaimer. I am not talking about the acquisition of truth to either puff one up or to lord over others. There is plenty of mean-spiritedness being passing as a pursuit for doctrinal purity, to go around the world twice over. And this makes all of us gun shy. However, regardless how irresponsible and un-Christlike some people act, I do not believe this overrides the fact that, not only does TRUTH exist, but we are exhorted to search for it like a buried treasure.  
 
The Greek word translated truth, al?theia, is used 98 times in the New Testament and means “objectively, in reality, certainty and in fact.” Consider a few of the 98:
 
  • Luke 1:3-4 (NASB) 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you may know the exact TRUTH about the things you have been taught.
  • John 4:23-24 (NASB) “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the TRUE worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and TRUTH; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and TRUTH.”
    John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
  • John 8:31-32 (NASB) So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will KNOW the TRUTH, and the TRUTH will make you free.”
  • 2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB) Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of TRUTH.
 
According to Jesus, if we must worship God in truth, isn’t it implied that should be able to find it? So how can we KNOW THE TRUTH and be set free by it, if all doctrines are simply matters of personal preference? “Accurately handling the word of truth” is the task of all workmen! God apparently wants us to dig and at actually find it!
 
Given these exhortations, I think we must conclude that there must be objective standards whereby we can know the truth. And further, by following certain objective methods of discovery, we can make judgments as to what is and is not true. So, how again do we know when we’ve attained even a small portion of truth?
 
A few years ago, excited after undergoing a rather significant eschatological paradigm shift (which revitalized my spiritual life), I presented my findings to numerous people. Instead of the responses I anticipated like, “That’s amazing, let me check it out more thoroughly” or “I’ve never heard that before but it sounds interesting,” many inevitably said, “Who else believes this?” This question is founded upon two beliefs:

1. They don’t have the intellectual or educational tools necessary to discover truth on their own. So they must rely on others more gifted. 


2. I am not one of those trusted theological gurus.  
 
Listen, I have no problem not being the “go to” Bible answer man. 🙂  That’s not the real issue. The problem is the fact that most Christians don’t have the confidence to search the Scriptures to “see if these things are so”. (Acts 17:11)  They are forced by either laziness or a lack of confidence (I think it’ the latter) to rely too heavily upon the opinions of others. Since they haven’t attempted to diligently divide the word of God, there’s not the kind of sincere conviction there ought to be. So when they change gurus, their views change. And this fluidity produces an unhealthy ambivalence.  

In my opinion, seeking the counsel of trusted advisers is a must. So don’t misunderstand me at this point. I’m not in the least suggesting that we never consult those gifted in a particular field. I regularly listen to the broadcasts of a wide array of preachers and Bible teachers. 


But what I am trying to point out, is that too many may be relying almost entirely on “experts” (pastors, apologists, theologians, and well known church figures). If we depend upon someone else to do the groundwork for us, the conclusions we acquire, never fully become our own. And therefore, instead of becoming convictions, they are far less. Not that we don’t defend a particular view, even at times vehemently, but when our allegiances change, we simply adopt the views of the new found expert. That’s why I think it’s of vital importance for us to do the work necessary to develop sound conclusions on our own.  


But at it currently stands, most of us are content to absorb the doctrines of those stalwarts of the faith we’ve come to respect? And thus, it most often comes down to credibility. Instead of confidently saying, “Let me study the Scriptures to ‘see if these things are so’”, we often line up behind our beloved Bible teacher. I’m of Beth Moore, and I of R.C. Sproul and I of Charles Stanley and I of David Jeremiah.  What passage immediately comes to mind?


1 Corinthians 1:12 (NASB) Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” 
Though the above verse was an exhortation to be unified in Christ, I think it demonstrates our proclivities to follow people because we lack the faith to believe we can come to sound conclusions on our own. I have a friend, Ed Ferner (www.christeternalchristianchurch.com), who, every time I ask him a question, instead of immediately going to the Bible commentaries or consulting someone of stature, he’s confident enough to fly solo. And he invariably returns with a very well thought out answer which has always impressed me. 

Now, I’m not suggesting that we never seek counsel, far from it. However, I believe that we must begin attempting to ferret these things out with the tools God has given us.  So, have you ever pondered the reasons for our lack of confidence? How can we learn to more effectively utilize Bible tools to develop truth convictions that might deviate from our pastor or favorite Bible teacher. What most fail to realize is that no one is immune from presuppositions, some potentially errant, and that includes those most esteemed by the Church. It leaves every last one of us, including Luther, Zwingli and Origen, potentially objectivity challenged. And J.I. Packer makes that very case in Fundamentalism and the Word of God.
 
We do not start our Christian lives by working out our faith for ourselves; it is mediated to us by Christian tradition, in the form of sermons, books and established patterns of church life and fellowship. We read our Bibles in the light of what we have learned from these sources; we approach Scripture with minds already formed by the mass of accepted opinions and viewpoints with which we have come into contact, in both the Church and the world. . . . It is easy to be unaware that it has happened; it is hard even to begin to realize how profoundly tradition in this sense has molded us. But we are forbidden to become enslaved to human tradition, either secular or Christian, whether it be “catholic” tradition, or “critical” tradition, or “ecumenical” tradition. We may never assume the complete rightness of our own established ways of thought and practice and excuse ourselves the duty of testing and reforming them by Scriptures. 
 
Realizing that we all suffer to some extent from false premises that can subliminally derail our objectivity, the fact is that the only way to find truth is to recognize our bias, set it aside as best we can, and then allow the Holy Spirit to speak clearly through the Bible.
 
So, to the degree any of us are able to circumvent and/or mute our “already formed minds” and extract the truth from God’s Word, we will move ever closer to sound doctrine. Intelligence, training and expertise can be valuable assets in this endeavor, but they can also become nooses around the neck of truth. Seminary training, for example, can be an invaluable tool, but if the indoctrination that most always occurs, is not recognized, can be a blinding influence. In my many conversations with seminarians throughout the years, one thing has been clear, by design the schools are more interested in graduating students that agree with their tenets than in producing free-thinking Bereans. There’s nothing inherently wrong with following one’s past, but it must be recognized that former training can hamstring one’s ability to find truth.  
 
I believe we need to shed the typical defeatist mindset, which in my view has reached epidemic proportions. So taken are we with our pastor or favorite Bible expositor, that we automatically and immediately assimilate whatever conclusions they reach and make them our own. Rarely is anyone in authority questioned. After all, since they have the training, expertise and the intellect that most of us lack, there’s no wonder why we follow blindly. And, there’s nothing wrong with following, but I just think it needs to be because we have studied and come to the same conclusion. 
 
Even though we are endowed with the same Holy Spirit as those in positions of influence, we are constantly warned not to disagree with the party line or we’ll find ourselves censured or worse. The sometimes gentle but often emphatic tone is, if we disagree, there are other churches that may find our views palatable, so please don’t make waves here. This is at least part of the reason things never change and errors are propagated into perpetuity. 

And to be clear, I’m not in the least suggesting anyone be argumentative, condescending or purposefully disruptive. That is simply not Christ-like behavior. However, if challenges are always discouraged because the quest for peace and unity trumps our passion for sound doctrine, truth WILL be sacrificed. I believe respectful dialogue should be encouraged and instead of short-circuiting the debate process, those incapable of maintaining a spirit of love and respect, ought to be the ones encouraged to get an attitude adjustment. So, instead of silencing opposing views, it seems better to allow respectful discourse. Learning how to dialogue when differences arise, should be part of the maturation process. But, unfortunately, since dissent is rarely tolerated, people don’t learn how to love one another in disagreement. In so doing, both truth and maturity are sacrificed.
 
As a case in point, consider the various eschatological positions. Although “end times” viewpoints are not considered foundational, premillennialism (the dominant position of our day) has been woven so thoroughly into the fabric of our faith, that to deviate from it is considered heterodox. So daring to espouse another eschatological system, not only puts one at serious risk of being disfellowshiped, but if uncovering eschatological truth is perceived as nearly impossible, the risk/reward relationship is simply too great. So at this juncture, most determine that the benefit (truth) is not worth ostracization. 
 
But here’s the good news. There are in fact objective tools of interpretation that will point us to the truth (if we let them). The truth is not only attainable but the Bible exhorts us to find it. And when we do, it must not be expressed in a manner of arrogance or condescension, but with all humility and love. The Apostle Paul, arguably the greatest theologian who ever lived, said love must be at the epicenter of all our doctrinal pursuits. So with that as a backdrop, never forgetting this mindset, let me share some foundational hermeneutical (science of interpretation) tools that I believe are as dependable as mathematical laws.
 
1.  The Bible is inspired / God breathed – it has divine origin and is not subject to the whims of man. We need not go outside the Bible to obtain truth. Extra-Biblical sources, though at times beneficial, only enhance that which can be gleaned from Scripture. If those sources are used to override Scripture, they, not Scripture, become the supreme authority.
 
2.  God cannot lie (He occasionally conceals, but He does not mislead). The implications of this truth are taken for granted, but the fact remains, this fact must not be taken for granted. This is inherent in God’s prophetic word. As He stated through Ezekiel, “and whatever word I speak will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, for in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it,” declares the Lord GOD.'” We simply must not accept any theology that assumes God to be less than truthful.
 
Titus 1:2 (NASB) in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,
 
Hebrews 6:18 (NASB) so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.
 
3. The Bible never contradicts itselfThis is the law of non-contradiction. Contradictory Biblical statements cannot be true in the same sense at the same time. In other words, if A=B, then A?B are mutually exclusive. God operates within the bounds of pure logic. Since there are no contradictions in the Bible, the apparent contradictions must be rectified. The following verse is often used to justify circumvention of this law, but only because it has been seriously misinterpreted. How often have you heard someone use “My thoughts are not your thoughts” to argue that God operates outside the bounds of logic or time. This is not in the least what was being conveyed. Go back and read the below verse in context. You will find that God is telling us simply that He is Holy and righteous and we are not.  
 
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB)  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
 
So the above verses are not an indictment against logic. Though God’s attributes and His supreme purposes are clearly not shared by His creatures, this in no way means that God operates in violation to the principles of logic or the chronology of time. The law of non-contradiction must not be violated. Isaiah 55:7, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts” makes the intent clear. It has everything to do with the contrast between God’s righteousness and our inherent sinfulness.
 
4.  Context is king – We must read the Bible through the lens of the author, not through our 21st century glasses. The Bible cannot mean what it never meant. The recent attempt to read modern day events into the Bible, must be nixed. Word meanings are always defined by context. Often verses are excised and cherry-picked from a passage and manipulated to conform to a predetermined paradigm. How often when you come across “you” in the Bible, is it our natural inclination to think we are the “you” to whom the Biblical author is speaking of. We must always remember that, though the Bible was written and preserved FOR us, it was not written directly TO us. Ignoring this fact, may be one of the biggest impetiements to discovering truth. 

Consider the following from Matthew’s Gospel. Notice the number of times YOU is referred to by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse. Not recognizing that the “you” are His disciples, and wrongly assuming that the “you” is some sort of generic multi-generational “you”, will make certain you won’t understand this prophetic section.   

  • Do YOU see all these things? (verse 2)
  • Truly I tell YOU (verse 2)
  • Watch out that no one deceives YOU (4)
  • ?YOU will hear of wars and rumors of wars (6)
  • but see to it that YOU are not alarmed (6)?
  • ?Then YOU will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death (9)
  • YOU will be hated by all nations because of me (9)
  • “So when YOU see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation (15)
  • Pray that YOUR flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath (20)
  •  At that time if anyone says to YOU, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. (23)
  • See, I have told YOU ahead of time. (25?)
  • So if anyone tells YOU, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. (26)
  • As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, YOU know that summer is near. (32)
  • Even so, when YOU see all these things (33)
  • YOU know that it is near, right at the door (33)
  • Truly I tell YOU, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened (34)
  • Therefore keep watch, because YOU do not know on what day your Lord will come (42)
  • So YOU also must be ready (44)
  • because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (44)
5.  Time is like clockwork – It is never allegorized. In understanding Bible prophecy, time is absolutely pivotal. Not only must the events prophesied take place, but they must occur within the timing specified.
 
Daniel 8:26 (NKJV) “And the vision of the evenings and mornings Which was told is true; Therefore seal up the vision, For it refers to many days in the future.”
 
The vision was sealed because the prophetic fulfillment wouldn’t be confirmed for hundreds of years.
 
Revelation 22:10 (NKJV) And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.
 
Contrary to what Daniel was told, John was informed that the vision was to remain unsealed because the time was at hand. “At hand” simply cannot be stressed to thousands of years. I dealt with this issue extensively HERE. Any eschatology that disregards this principle is doomed to failure.
 
When something was predicted “shortly”, if it did not take place “shortly”, the prophet was found wanting. Perhaps this is the most glaring problem in most eschatological models. If this principle is abused to make an eschatological system work, that system must be rejected.
 
6.  Interpret the unclear through the lens of the clear – Ignoring this principle has created the many cults that proliferate today. The Bible is self-interpreting.
 
7. Understanding genres of literature within Scripture – Poetic, apocalyptic historical, doctrinal, metaphorical, prophecy and law. Confusing these will cause serious misinterpretation.
 
Isaiah 13:9-10 (NKJV) Behold, the day of the Lord comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine… 13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, And the earth will move out of her place, In the wrath of the Lord of hosts And in the day of His fierce anger.
 
If this was interpreted literally and not apocalyptically, Isaiah would have been charged with false prophecy since neither the heavens nor earth were dislodged from their orbits. God’s wrath was literally poured out against the Babylonians in their destruction at the hands of the Medes but not in the astrological ways it was couched.  
 
Isaiah 34:3-4 (NKJV) 3 Also their slain shall be thrown out; Their stench shall rise from their corpses, And the mountains shall be melted with their blood. 4 All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; All their host shall fall down As the leaf falls from the vine, And as fruit falling from a fig tree.
 
Again, if even one star collided with planet earth we would have been no more. There are many similar example of forms of speech that must be interpreted within the confines of its genre. Jesus was not literally a loaf of bread or a door and He wasn’t telling them to literally drink His blood and eat His flesh.
 
 
As we consider these things, I’d like to appeal to Jesus as He stood before Pilate. “Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”  Jesus came into the world to testify to THE TRUTH. He was clearly the truth for was the embodiment of truth.

In closing let me offer one objective lesson that applies some of these principles. 


Revelation 1:1 (NASB) The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,


The things that follow verse 1 simply must have taken place a couple thousand years ago. How do we KNOW this to be true and how do we know that others who disagree are in conflict with Scripture? By applying the below rules. 


1. The Bible is inspired. 

2. God is incapable of lying.
3 The Bible is never contradictory.
4. We must consider the context.
5. Time is NEVER allegorized.
6. We must interpret the unclear through the clear.
7. We must consider the type of literature.

So, next time someone says, “That’s just your opinion”, don’t let it ride if your conclusion is based on these objective principles. If they want to argue with Jesus, then that’s their prerogative. It is not a matter of opinion that Jesus, after His ascension while sitting at the right hand of the Father, said, “Thing which MUST TAKE PLACE SOON.” This is not up for debate. If someone says, “Well, you have your verses and I have mine,” challenge them to put “their verses” to the test. Since we know that the Bible is not contradictory, and we must interpret the unclear through the clear, is Revelation 1:1 not supremely clear? 


In my view, we simply cannot allow people to continue to get away with violating rules of interpretation without be challenged. 


We may not like the implication of the above because it might disturb what we’ve been taught and it might throw our paradigm into a tizzy, but we have a choice to make. Are we going to ignore the rules and the referees or are we going to play the game within the confines of the rules? I think it’s time to challenge those who aren’t playing by the rules. Truth matters and the integrity of the Bible weighs in the balance. It’s not a matter of opinion. 
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With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, but for us one day is like, well, 24 hours… :)

 

Come back with me to 1973 when Middle East tensions were overflowing and U.S. gas lines ever growing, and most high profile Christian leaders like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Hal Lindsey, assured us that we were experiencing the last days “birth pangs” which was ushering in the end of our planet. God help the pregnant mother or Sabbath traveler, for these days of God’s imminent wrathful outpouring would plunge the entire world into total chaos.

Armageddon, the Beast and the whole shebang of Revelation was being fulfilled before our very eyes. With Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth fresh in mind, the prophetic events were lined up in harmonic convergence as the antichrist was about to be revealed and all Heaven would soon break lose.

In my daily commute down Fletcher Avenue toward USF, I’d often gaze heavenward wondering if this would be THE day… the most highly anticipated DAY since Jesus’s incarnation. Enduring life’s travails not much longer, in a very little while Jesus would descend on the clouds as He’d meet us in the air. How exciting living at time when Jesus’ long anticipated return would finally arrive! Two thousand years of pent up expectations would  be fulfilled at last.

Pat Terry, an early 1970’s Christian musician, put it this way in “I Can’t Wait to See Jesus” (listen below).

I can’t wait to see Jesus
In His glory as he bursts from the sky
I can’t wait to be held in his arms,
and see the glimmer in his eye.
 
I can’t wait to hear trumpets
’cause I know what they mean when they sound
I can’t wait to cast off my burdens,
and feel my feet leave the ground.
 
I can’t wait to see heaven
and to walk those streets of gold
I can’t wait to check into my mansion,
and get my sleeping bag unrolled.
 
 
And just as exhilarating was the chorus which still gives me goose bumps!
 
Tell me how it’s gonna be,
read it from the Bible again
I can’t wait to see Jesus,
’cause Jesus is coming again
Oh, Jesus is coming again
Oh, Jesus is coming again.
 

In the early to mid AD 60s (not the 1960s), a little more than three decades post cross, the Apostles Peter, John and Paul (whom I think authored Hebrews) made three very poignant eschatological statements (pertaining to end times/last days): “The end of all things is near” (1 Peter 4:7); “In a very little while He who is coming will come and will not delay” (Heb 10:37); and “Children it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). So it’s clear that Jesus must be returning soon, right? After all, the end is at hand, isn’t it?

Well, not so fast. This photo was taken only 40 years ago, almost 2,000 years after Peter wrote that verse! And this strikes right at the heart of the eschatological chaos.

The timing of Jesus’ return has wreaked havoc on the Church’s credibility for far too long. Why can’t we get it right? There’s an elephant in the room of our interpretative methods that I ignored then, and most Christians still ignore today. It’s called “reader relevance”, and though we occasionally give lip service to it, for the most part we pass right over it as though it doesn’t exist. When reading Philippians, Hebrews or Jude, we often forget that we’re reading someone else’s mail. Glossing over the realization that these letters were written, delivered by courier and read by Christians nearly 2,000 years ago, appears to be at the root of our eschatological confusion. The fact that the New Testament didn’t arrive on our doorstep with the morning’s paper, may seem patently obvious, but it’s at the epicenter of the most common interpretative mistakes.

 This 27 book NT (New Testament) compilation, was not only time sensitive and fully relevant to first century believers, but if not read in context, cannot be properly understood today. The Bible was penned and preserved for our edification (2 Tim 3:16), but it was NOT written directly TO US. Again, this may seem apparent, but in our constant attempt to make Scriptural application, we often fail to consider the New Testament’s first century context. And nowhere is this issue more problematic than in our eschatological presuppositions. 
 

Considering the sign held by this many above, how could something have been at hand in AD 64 and also at hand in AD 1974?  How could the end of all things be at near then and still be at near today?  How could it have been the last hour during the reign of Nero and be our last hour during the presidency of Barack Obama? Unless we have two time continuums, it can’t!  But most of us never consider this huge circus animal with the long trunk, plunked right in the middle of our interpretational reading room.


Have you ever wondered why we attempt to invent so many ways to camouflage the elephant and act as though it doesn’t exist?  I’d be a rich man if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard an excuse explaining why the NT eschatological time indicators (near, shortly, quickly, at hand etc.) had no relevance at the time they were written. 


The most brilliant disappearing act (which only seems to fool Christians since atheists use it rather effectively as a blunt force tool to bludgeon the unwitting) is constructed using one lone verse from Peter’s second Epistle, which should be noted, was written a year AFTER Peter wrote, “The end of all things is near.” For decades, that fact alone had me scratching my ever-balding head.

So, on the heels of warning them of their imminent end, Peter, we are told, abruptly reversed course and covered his tracks when he wrote:

 
2 Peter 3:8 (NASB) But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.
 
For generations, this one tiny verse has been successfully employed to cloak the elephant… arguing that the plethora of “time statements” (associated with Bible prophecy) scattered throughout the NT, aren’t to be taken seriously or literally. After all, they argue, with God time is irrelevant. 
 
But if this is truly the case, one wonders why the inspired NT authors would have used any near-term time sensitive words.  Why wouldn’t Peter have simply written, “The end of all things will one day be at hand”? Why risk the potential confusion caused by the possibly that the persecuted recipients might not realize that near could have meant thousands of years?
 
I heard one pastor reason, regarding the passage, “Be patient for the coming of the Lord is at hand… the judge is standing at the door” (James 1:8-9), that James was merely using inspirational language to exhort believers of all generations i.e. that he was attempting to spur on each succeeding generation with the hope of keeping them/us ever vigilant. So whether in AD 314, 1514 or 2014, James was just challenging us stay in a steady state of expectancy. Are you beginning to notice the giant pachyderm yet? Is his trunk beginning to knock things from your shelves as it did mine?
 
Though I realize it wasn’t this dear pastor’s intent, he was effectively implying that God inspired Peter, Paul, John and in this case, James, to lie in order to motivate the beleaguered first century Christians to remain watchful. Is this truly the interpretational road we should be traveling?  Is this profoundly dangerous logic  beginning to concern you as it did me? Since we mustn’t subscribe to Biblical contradictions, I believe it is absolutely imperative that we treat this problem seriously. 
 
So at this juncture you may be saying, “What’s your point? You seem to be assaulting the integrity of the Bible because it’s clear, since we’re still here, that the end of all things was not near in Peter’s day. Are you questioning the authority and integrity of the Bible?” 

At first glance It may appear that way, but that’s not in the least what I’m attempting to do. I am simply trying to interject some intellectual honesty into our Bible interpretation, which thereby may force you, as it did me, to reconsider your eschatological conclusions. I realize that this dominant end times doctrine has become so sacrosanct, that to even question any of its underlying tenets, rises to the charge of heresy. However, to ignore the serious problems with a view that has been responsible for error after error, seems rather ostrich-like. 


Case in point. At a Bible study a number of years ago, after I offered an interpretation of Matthew 24 that was consistent with the imminent eschatological “time statements”, the leader simply said, “We can’t go there. We can’t go there.” Case closed. But the question that wasn’t answered then and is still outstanding today, is, where can’t we go? It wasn’t as if I was questioning the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, or any of the non-negotiable tenet of our faith. I simply offered an historically-based eschatological explanation that fit the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24; Luke 17; Mk 13) like a glove. And for that, with no further dialogue, I was simple asked, for the sake of unity, to censure myself. 


Is this a truly healthy way to deal with this eschatological differences? Clearly we need to always be respectful and courteous toward one another, but to cut off dialogue at a Bible study, seems less than prudent. If we were as passionate for truth as we are for avoiding disagreement, we might not be in this mess. And few would argue with a straight face that the current eschatological landscape is not in need of a gross overhaul. The elephant still hasn’t moved!


So when Jesus said, This generation will not pass away until all these things takes place”, arguing that Jesus meant no such thing, is not any more Berean-like than censuring dialogue. Sadly, this mindset is far too typical within many of our churches. Being a respectful Berean is not well tolerated if one offers another point of view. And that’s why nothing ever changes. Many question the political structure of the Roman Catholic Church and it’s top-down hierarchical structure that squelches debate, but is the Protestant Church really that much different?


At this point, I need to be crystal clear. Make no mistake, I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God as explained in the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy. And only in that context must these things be challenged. God is neither the author of confusion nor deception and His Word is not enveloped in smoke and mirrors. And hopefully, once you reach this article’s conclusion, you will, at the very least, have a new appreciation for the uncanny accuracy of God’s prophetic Word. Above all, I want to exalt the miraculous nature of the Bible, not tear it down. So, with that as a backdrop, let’s trudge on.
 
Before looking at five potential scenarios regarding the interpretation of these many eschatologically time sensitive phrases, let me pose a question for contemplation. If time was irrelevant in the manner in which God always communicates with man, why then did He ONLY inspire the NT authors to use words of imminence? In other words, why don’t we find even one phrase like that used by Daniel, “many days yet to come” (Daniel 8:26)? Why do the NT authors ONLY couch prophecy in imminent terms? 

In the OT, we find statements of both nearness and distance. Daniel’s many days yet to come is contrasted with Isaiah’s the day of the Lord is near. Time mattered to the OT prophets, so why do we presume that God stopped communicating clearly and in ways that we understand? Why, if all mysteries since the foundation of the world were revealed in the person of Christ (Eph 3:9; Col 1:26), would the NT time statements be clouded in seeming subterfuge?  
 
Now, consider this stark contrast between an Old and New Testament prophetic use of time.
 
Daniel 8:26 (NKJV) “And the vision of the evenings and mornings which was told is true; Therefore seal up the vision, For it refers to many days in the future.”
 
Revelation 22:10 (NKJV) And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.
 
Do you see the issue? Daniel was told to seal up the vision because it was “many days in the future” and John was told not to seal up the vision because “the time is near”. What’s going on here? If Daniel’s prophecy was hundreds of years from fulfillment, sealing the vision would seem natural since he/they wouldn’t have been able to understand the context of its fulfillment. However, since most today believe the Revelation’s fulfillment is still future (after nearly 2,000 years), why then was John told to keep it unsealed? And, further, how could the time of fulfillment have been near in the first century? 

Doesn’t this unnerve you even a little bit? At this point, most of us throw our hands in the air and assume that if the experts with years of education can’t come to a consensus, what hope do we have? But the truth is that paradigm, not intelligence, is the greatest obstacle to understanding Bible prophecy. Most of us have developed errant presuppositions that force us to challenge God’s ability to communicate accurately. 


So once we begin to consider the fact that God may have communicated clearly and unambiguously, we can start to deconstruct the false components of our interprational paradigm. As I mentioned earlier, eight years ago I chose that path deciding that it was time to question this apparent contradiction that “at hand” or “in a very little while” actually meant thousands of years.
 
Therefore, shouldn’t we wonder why, if time is supposedly irrelevant to God, He would inspire these men to associate their visions with time?  And further, why would these various OT prophetic pronouncements have been fulfilled according to their time-sensitive dictates, if they weren’t anchored to chronological reality? Not surprisingly, the prophesies of Daniel and Isaiah were fulfilled like clockwork. Daniel’s “many days yet to come” was fulfilled hundreds of years in the future, and Isaiah’s “the day of the Lord is near was fulfilled imminently as the Medes dispensed of the Babylonians in Isaiah’s day.
 

Now that the elephant is in plain view, let’s deal head on with the potential explanations for the NT eschatological imminence. Anyone reading through the NT even once has been bombarded with these near-term expectations. Although this list may not be exhaustive, it covers 5 major possibilities. Admittedly, explanation #3 seemed too outrageous to include, but because I just heard a pastor use it, I decided to give it a critical review. As you read through the five, choose which one best fits your explanation.

  1. God the Father knew Jesus’ return was thousands of year’s future, but for motivational purposes, He chose to communicate imminence. (2 Peter 3:8)
  2. God the Father didn’t know when Jesus would return. Matter of fact, He also didn’t know that the Jews would reject Christ and that He would therefore have to resort to a plan B, the Church.  (A Dispensationalist view)
  3. God the Father knew the exact day and hour of Jesus’ return, but chose only to communicate the speed in which Jesus would return with no regard to the timing. (translates “tachos” in Revelation 1:1 as fast not soon or shortly)
  4. God the Father knew the exact day and hour of Jesus’ return, but Jesus, in his humanity, was unaware of not only the day and hour but also of the millennium in which He would return. (C.S. Lewis’ argument)
  5. God the Father knew the exact day and hour of Jesus’ return, and unambiguously and accurately communicated the imminence of Christ’s return through both Jesus and the NT authors. While on earth, Jesus didn’t know the day or hour of His coming, but He knew the generation. (Fulfilled view)

Which one do you think is the most Biblical? As you consider these various explanations, you may immediately notice the following potential pitfalls found in these possibilities. 

  • God is not sovereign because His plans are contingent upon the actions of His free moral agents. Therefore, God is reactive not proactive.
  • Because of Jesus’ human limitations, God was not able to communicate everything with Him clearly.
  • Due to God’s timeless nature, He was unable to communicate accurate time-sensitive predictions with His followers.
  • God intentionally misled His beleaguered followers because He determined that it was more important to motivate them in their times of distress than to tell them the truth.
  • Since Jesus’ return in the minds of most is marked by the obliteration of our planet at time’s end, how could Peter’s words “the end of all things is near” possibly be true? 

Most Christians opt for explanation #1 (God knew the day and the hour was thousands of years future but chose to convey imminence) without fully considering the serious implications, some of which we’ve already presented. Sugarcoat it all we want, the truth is that if God knew Jesus’ return wasn’t going to be imminent, but He nonetheless inspired every New Testament author to write that it was imminent, this is simply a lie.

Yes, I realize that probably makes you as uncomfortable as it did me, but this reality must be confronted if we have any prayer of being intellectually honest as we rightly attempt to divide God’s Word. God is not the author of lies or misdirection. If even one of an eschatological system’s interpretational building block presumes God to be a liar, the implications will be staggering.

Hebrews 6:18 (NASB) so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. 

Titus 1:2 (NASB) in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,

Numbers 23:19 (NASB) God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? 

The atheist who put the below video together, attacks Christians and Christianity at this very point. The vast majority of believers have heard the time is irrelevant to God excuse for so long, they are oblivious to its absurdity. But we must, no matter how emotionally taxing, be prepared to answer the atheist… as well as the confused Christians for that matter.

1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;  
 
So we can continue to use 2 Peter 3:8 to cloak the elephant, but the fact remains that the integrity of the Bible is hanging in the balance and the elephant isn’t going anywhere. Heavily persecuted 1st century Christ-followers were clinging to the imminent hope of deliverance, and if we assume they were lied to by creating false expectations, we’re playing right into the hands of the atheists. And lest we forget, when stalwarts of the Gospel like the Apostle Paul wrote things like the following, they were received by real people who were eagerly waiting for the revelation of Jesus: “The time is short…for the form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor 7:29-31), “Now these things …were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor 10:11), and “The Lord is near” (Phil 4:5).
 
In the light of being repeatedly told that these events were imminent, how do you think these AD 60s believers would have responded to Peter’s second epistle, if 2 Peter 3:8 was supposed to wash away all their time-sensitive expectations? “Really, Peter? If time is of no consequence, why have we received a steady diet of near-term promises from all the inspired writers?  And Why in the world did you write, “The end of all things is near” if you had no clue when Jesus would return?” 
 

Consider this analogy to help drive the point home. Your garage just caught fire and after calling 911, the dispatcher tells you that the fire trucks are on the way and will be there shortly. Would you sing the fire department’s praises if they never arrived and your house burned to the ground? Would it make your misery any less profound to find out that they those trucks were not only never dispatched, but there was never any intent to send them? 

How would you have received the following excuse from the fire department? “We often get busy, and in our line of work, for us a day is a thousand years and a thousand years is but a day. Time is really of no consequence to us.”  Seriously, how would you respond to that excuse? Perhaps a logical reaction might be, “That’s incredibly cruel for giving us false hope. Why would you have said you’d be there soon if you had no such intention?”

 
How is this scenario any different from explanation #1? How utterly cruel would it have been for God to have promised near-term rescue and vindication if He never had the slightest intention of fulfilling His promises. 

Approx. two decades ago as this kind of eschatological confusion began weighing heavily upon my faith, I subtly started to distrust the Bible. At the onset it wasn’t all that overt, but it, in consort with some other nagging issues, became profoundly debilitating. 


If this was in fact the way God treated His first century followers who lives were in constant peril, then I wondered about His faithfulness to me. In other words, if the ones who received the short-term promises were intentionally jilted, why should I have any confidence that God would be faithful to me and my family in the light of never receiving such promises? I’m happy to report that I finally worked through this intense struggle, but not before undergoing a significant eschatological paradigm change that began at this very point. 
 
And lest we not realize how intense the first century anticipatory hopes were, let’s look at the eager expectation that the Apostle Paul recognized among his readers. “…to those who eagerly await Him” (Heb 9:28); awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Cor 1:7); “…from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;” (Phil 3:20); “…waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” (Rom 8:23)
 
Since we know that “hope deferred makes the heart sick”, how sick and weary is the body of Christ after 2,000 years of this kind of unfulfilled expectation…if in fact we presume that Jesus’ second coming was as it has been characterized, speaking of the world’s end (and not the end of the age)?
 
So, if Peter was inspired to write 2 Peter 3:8 to placate the scoffers who insisted Jesus was not only late but He would never return, then why a year earlier would Peter have written, “The end of all things is at hand”?  Was Peter truly in effect saying, “All bets are off fellas, I was wrong? When I wrote you my first letter I really didn’t really mean the end was imminent, because, after all, God’s timing is not our timing.”
 
Consider Peter’s other statements carrying imminence lest we think 1 Peter 4:7 was an red herring:
 
1 Peter 1:20 (NKJV) He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you
 
1 Peter 4:5 (NKJV) but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead 
 
1 Peter 4:17 (NKJV) For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
 
1 Peter 5:1 (YLT) Elders who are among you, I exhort, who am a fellow-elder, and a witness of the sufferings of the Christ, and of the glory about to be revealed a partaker,
 
2 Peter 3:11-12 (NKJV) Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
 
As we read through all these statements implying imminent expectation which should have been weighing heavily upon their conduct, does it make any sense that Peter was attempting to use the “time is irrelevant” argument against the scoffers? Was he really waving a magic wand at all of the eschatological time references throughout the NT (many written by him), attempting to make them disappear? If this was the intent of 2 Peter 3:8, then the following is an addendum that could have been attached to Peter’s 2nd epistle.
 
“I know Jesus told us that He would come before we finished going through the cities of Israel (Matt 10:23), while some of us were still alive (Matt 16:28) and all within a generation (Matt 24:34), but we all know that time is relative in God’s economy. At the time I wrote that first letter warning you of our near-term end, I actually believed that the end was very near. But then the Holy Spirit brought Psalm 90:4 to mind, telling me that “near” to God could be very far off to us.
 
“Now, I realize how incredibly confusing this may be and that it may appear like an excuse… so, since many may have been misled by my first epistle which was riddled with imminent expectations, I simply have to set the record straight and get the word out to all those who are actually anticipating Jesus’ soon return. I must correct the errant presumptions that I and others have created. Many of you persecuted believers who received letters from James, John and Paul, are losing your lives and even worse and I don’t want to give you false hope. And to be quite frank, no help is coming. Yes, in some other distant generation many days from now, but no rescue is planned in your lifetime.
 
“I realize that the Apostle Paul promised our embattled Thessalonian brothers vindication, but I now realize that He was referring only to their metaphorical absolution at the end of time. Even though he said he would give relief to YOU, he wasn’t really speaking directly to the Thessalonians, but actually only to those living in a time many days to come.
 
2 Thessalonians 1:6-8 (NASB) For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict youand to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
 
“Further, it must be that when Jesus spoke of the eschatological end within “this generation” while some of his larger contingency was still alive, He must have been communicating allegorically. He had to have meant “that generation” or “some distant generation” even though for emphasis sake He prefaced “this generation” with “Truly I say to you.” I realize that Jesus never used time metaphorically and that the Bible has never allegorilized time (and God expressly prohibited it in Ezek 12:21-28), but since Jesus is God, and God is not bound by time, that’s really what He must have meant. After all, He made those definitive statements while still restricted by His humanity.
 
“So, the scoffers have every right to scoff because they are correct. It’s been 34 years since Jesus said,“this generation will not pass away until ALL of these things are fulfilled,” and the truth is that His return is nowhere in sight. Jesus won’t be coming in the time all of us expected.
 
“Therefore, in the future, though we must admit that their scoffing is justifiable, as long as we don’t take any of the time constraints literally, we will negate their vain attempts to discredit Jesus’ words. So whether God says something is going to happen either near or far, well, we just can’t hold God to this kind of human standard. 

Yes, I realize that means there’s no true test for a prophet since all prophets are exempt from these kinds of time restrictions, but these are harsh realities that must be conveyed…lest the scoffers continue to repeat their accusations charging Jesus and the rest of us as false prophets. So move along and be about your business to love the Lord. And remember, when God says renders a time-sensitive declaration , He may or may not do it within the time He specifies. It’s His divine prerogative!”
 
Do you see how ludicrous this excuse is when it is broken down and exposed? Does God really need us apologizing for Him? In an attempt to do the opposite, those who interpret 2 Peter 3:8 in this manner, do nothing but assault the integrity of God’s Word and accentuate His unfaithfulness. It strikes at the heart of inspiration. I truly can’t think of a more abused and heavily manipulated verse than 2 Peter 3:8. So, since I hope it is clear to you that option #1 is simply not viable, let’s move on to the other possibilities.
 
Explanation #2 (God the Father didn’t know when Jesus would return) proves that God is not ultimately sovereign. If God is subject to the whims of His creation, and has no idea what they will do, He clearly is not sovereign. Some dispensationalists have argued that the prophetic time clock stopped when the Jews rejected Christ, only to be restarted when Israel became a nation in ‘48. This excuse is so riddled with problems that I don’t have time to deal with them here.
 
Suffice it to say, I hope we all reject any option that denies God’s sovereignty. He never resorts to a plan B. What I find truly baffling is that those who hold this view apparently haven’t stopped to realize that if we, as free moral agents, could stop the prophetic clock once, we can do it again and again. Once man is elevated to this kind of supremacy, God is relegated to position of inferiority. 

So how could any prophet declare a prophetic event if it can always be short-circuited by non-compliant men? What would have happened if the Medes had chosen not to comply with God’s sovereign plan and therefore never attacked the Babylonians? Wouldn’t that have made Isaiah a false prophet? I realize how ludicrous this possibility is, but felt it was necessary to include it since people actually believe it.
 
Explanation #3 God the Father knew the exact day and hour of Jesus’ return, and only communicated how fast it would be, with no regard to the timing. This one appears even more outrageous than the God can’t tell time option.  Recently I heard a pastor who began a new series on the book of Revelation, espouse this very point. How did he arrive at this conclusion you ask? He began with Revelation 1:1 and instead of translating “tachos” as “soon”, he said it meant “fast”.
 
Revelation 1:1 (NASB) The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon (tachos) take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, 
 
So, according to this view, the timing of the Revelation was never in plain view. So, God was telling John that, once these things began to take place, Jesus would return with lightning quick speed. Tachos (where we get tachometer) can in fact mean the speed in which something is executed, but, based upon the context of all its usages, this is not primarily how the word is used throughout the New Testament. Also, it must be noted that all words must always be interpreted in context. All one has to do is drop down two verses to realize that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the speed of execution and everything to do with the timing of the events. I’ll come back to that thought in a moment.
 
Consider the parable of the widow and her persistence in obtaining legal protection from the ruthless judge. Though this parable clearly concerns prayer, many have missed the its eschatologically-based subject matter. This “end times” parable, referenced “the elect” who would cry to the Lord for justice against their oppressors. Pay particular attention to the timing of the promised vindication as well as the usage of tachos.
 
Luke 18:7-8 (NASB) now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly (tachos). However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” 
 
Is there an interpreter on the planet (who isn’t trying to sell their stash of Left Behind books) who actually believes “quickly” means, that when God finally gets around to avenging His elect, he’ll do it really fast?  In other words, once God began His avenging, He was supposedly going to do it faster than a speeding bullet? 🙂 But this simply doesn’t fit the context of the parable. Jesus’ use of quickly (or some translations render it “speedily”, is in reference to the time of “delay” mentioned in verse 7. Would God continue to delay forever? No, He would bring about justice soon! What value would it have been to the elect for Jesus to have delayed a few thousand years after they were dead and gone and then vindicated them with amazing speed? I think it’s clear from the context that this passage has nothing whatsoever to do with “How fast?” and everything to do with “How long?”
 
Notice the same theme in Revelation 6’s opening of the fifth seal. This question of “How long?” is reiterated by the martyred souls who are under the altar. This scene is depicted some 32 years after the Olivet, not 65 years as too many presume. (Those who believe the Revelation was written in the mid AD 90s, please go HERE. There is far too much internal and external evidence which points to an early AD 60s date)  
 
The following passage is a recapitulation of the above parable, but at that moment in the vision it was only a short time from fulfillment. The saints had already been martyred.
 
Revelation 6:9-11 (NASB) When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
 
During the Olivet, the plight of these souls who had suffered severe persecution to the point of death had already been predicted.
 
Matthew 24:9 (NASB) “Then they will deliver YOU to tribulation, and will kill YOU, and YOU will be hated by all nations because of My name.
 
So, again, the outstanding question is, “How long, Jesus? The dead saints were under the altar asking how long before their blood would be avenged. And what was Jesus’ answer? “When I come it’s going to be really fast!” No, that’s not at all what was promised. Jesus said only “a little while longer”! And this has nothing whatsoever to do with the speed of Jesus’ return and everything to do with the time before the martyrs would be avenged. “A little while longer” cannot possibly be misconstrued with the speed of the avenging.
 
The “How long?” answer has staggering implications which are totally ignored in the various versions of Leftbehindology. In Circa AD 62 (the approx. date of the Revelation), Jesus told them how long until their avenging (shortly), yet instead of believing Him, some attempt to change the plain meaning of words simply to conform the Bible to their paradigm.
 
Nobody was asking how fast they would be avenged. Waiting a little while is not a function of speed but of time. I don’t mean to be condescending or mean-spirited, but how can anyone read Revelation 1:1 and believe that Jesus is ignoring the “How long?” question and answering “How fast?”. For the sake of redundancy lest we lose focus, let’s look at the text one more time.
 
Revelation 1:1 (NASB) The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon (tachos) take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,
 
It must take place FAST? For those who adhere to this interpretation, let me ask you a question. Why would it have been important for Jesus to have said how fast He was going to avenge the martyred saints? Was Jesus correcting their understanding? Did they think He was going to return slowly? If there has already been a 2,000 year delay, what difference would it make how fast Jesus returns? So, even if one could finagle “tachos” to mean speed, how in the heavens can one cram the speed of His return into verse 3?
 
Revelation 1:3 (NASB) Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near (eggus)
 
There’s no possibility whatsoever that one can force eggus to fit into this speed motif. It simply means “the time is near”. So at this point, hopefully you will reject this 3rd excuse as well.
 

So, on we trudge to explanation #4, forever attempting to find yet another way to disguise the elephantGod the Father knew the exact day and hour of Jesus’ return, but Jesus, in his humanity, was unaware of not only the day and hour but also the millennium in which He would return.

Jesus’ “no man knows the day or the hour” statement, has been so thoroughly exaggerated and contorted that what people say it means bears no resemblance to reality. How can neither knowing the day nor the hour be used to argue that no one would have a clue within centuries or millennia of Jesus’ return? Matter of fact, during Jesus’ entire Olivet monologue, since Jesus specifically answered the disciple’s when question, why do we continue to insist that Jesus had no clue? In a recent blog post, “The End of the Beginning”, I thoroughly dealt with this issue and put to bed the notion that Jesus had no idea when He would return. Please take time to read it. I think we do the Bible injustice by propagating this myth. 
 
So, for the sake of brevity, I won’t deal in great detail with this false assumption here. Suffice it to say, the disciples asked Jesus one question, not three (as some have insisted), and got one very detailed answer culminating in a specific time frame. After Jesus told the twelve that the massive temple complex would be utterly obliterated (“not one stone left upon another”), the natural question was, “When will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matt 24:3)
 
Why is it that so many appear to either miss or ignore Jesus’ very first sentence of explanation? It set the tone for everything that was to follow. What was it? Did Jesus immediately begin detailing the litany of events that would follow? No. He offered a simple warning that, in and of itself, set the timing of fulfillment.
 
“See to it that no one misleads YOU.”  Wait a minute! Do you see the issue? How many times have you heard pastors and teachers say that the things contained in the Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation are still future to us? If that’s the case, what difference would it have made to them? If “all these things” pertained to a distant generation removed from the immediate context by 2,000 years, what relevance would any of it had on the disciples? As we hearken back to Daniel’s vision, there was never any concern that Daniel be misled. Why? Because the prophesied events would take place well after Daniel was pushing up daisies. So the mere fact that Jesus warns His followers about being misled, tells you when those things were expected to occur.
 
The truth is that everything Jesus said was absolutely vital to the disciples because it applied directly to them and their generation. That’s why He cautioned them to be diligent so they wouldn’t be misled.
 
Matthew 24:34 (NASB) “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
 
I’d say that’s a rather emphatic time-sensitive answer, wouldn’t you? So, again, how is it so many pastors try to argue that not knowing the exact day and hour is equivalent to not having a remote idea within a few millennia? The answer is actually rather simple. They don’t like or understand the implications. So just like they attempt to explain away the meaning of “soon”, “shortly” and “at hand”, they play all kinds of extracurricular games with the above verse. C.S. Lewis called it the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. And for good reason, if none of the events outlined in the Olivet actually transpired within that first century generation.
 
Just before Jesus finished detailing the events that would take place within that generation, He offered the following analogy of the fig tree (Luke adds “and all the trees”).
 
Matthew 24:32-33 (NASB) “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; 33 so, you too, when YOU see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.
 
No, Jesus never knew the day nor the hour of His return while He was living on planet earth, but as can be seen above, if His disciples were to “see all these things” and be able to “recognize that He is near, right at the door”, He clearly knew far more than He is credited to have known. In approx. 3 decades, James would corroborate those very words when he wrote:
 
James 5:8-9 (NASB) YOU too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is nearDo not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.
 

If that doesn’t make the hair on the back of your neck, nothing will. Yes, the implication may startle you, but it is certainly contrary to what C.S. Lewis wrote in “The World’s Last Night. “He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.”   

Jesus was not only not wrong, but when He was sitting at the right hand of the Father after His ascension. At that point He knew the day and the hour of His return and He revealed to John that the contents of His vision would soon take place because the time was near. So, don’t let C.S. Lewis, your pastor or anyone else convince you that Jesus didn’t have a clue when He would return.

Well, that leaves us with explanation #5: God the Father knew the exact day and hour of Jesus’ return, and unambiguously and accurately communicated the imminence of Christ’s return through both Jesus and the NT authors. While on earth, Jesus didn’t know the day or hour of His coming, but He knew the generation. After His ascension He knew how short the time really was.
 
I’ve not found too many who aren’t at first extremely uncomfortable with this possibility, especially since it shatters their paradigm and means that “all these things” had to have taken place within that generation. It strikes at the heart of so many issues that most simply refuse to seriously consider it. So they limp back to option #1 in full knowledge that, untenable as it is, many others believe it so it must somehow have merit.
 
Let me offer one more word of caution from Ezekiel 12 lest you still cling to one of those first four explanations. 
 
Ezekiel 12:21-23 (NASB) 21 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 22 “Son of man, what is this proverb you people have concerning the land of Israel, saying, ‘The days are long and every vision fails‘? 23 “Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “I will make this proverb cease so that they will no longer use it as a proverb in Israel.” But tell them, “The days draw near as well as the fulfillment of every vision. 
 
God was sick and tired of Israel constantly distorting His time sensitive promises. He would tell them that something was about to happen and they would ignore Him and say, “the days are long and every vision fails”.  They were incessantly thumbing their noses at God just like spoiled children saying that though God said things were near, they were actually very far off. Sound familiar? Isn’t this today’s approved interpretational method?
 
For this reason, God, in diametric opposition, said, “The days draw near as well as the fulfillment of every vision.”  They were trying to use the old “a day is as a thousand years” to God, slight of hand. And God became angry because they weren’t heeding his timely edicts.
 
Ezekiel 12:24-25 (NASB) “For there will no longer be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. 25 “For I the Lord will speak, and whatever word I speak will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, for in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it,” declares the Lord GOD.'”
 
God said that whatever He spoke would take place in the time span predicted.  “It will no longer be delayed”!  This was decried by God almost 700 years before the birth of Christ.  Yet, what do most Christians say today about the plethora of time sensitive prophesies in the NT, ALL of which are accompanied by these time sensitive words like “shortly”, “at hand”, “soon” and “in a very little while”?
 
“Hath God really said?”  Sounds kind of like the serpent, doesn’t it?  God supposedly didn’t really mean shortly, soon or at hand when speaking of his coming, for He was speaking in His own eternal timelessness. This makes me tremble. The only way to judge a false prophet was to decide whether what they predicted took place in the time period predicted. If the timing of the prophecy was to be summarily ignored because time was irrelevant, then how could anyone claiming to speak for God be deemed a false prophet? If a prophet said something was going to happen soon and it didn’t, all hell broke loose against them. So it’s clear that the timing of a prophecy is every bit as important as the nature of what was predicted. But you wouldn’t know it by the way we interpret the Bible today.
 
Are we not unwittingly calling these NT authors false prophets by assuming their prophesies have been delayed thousands of years? I have gotten plenty of things wrong throughout my life but one thing’s seems abundantly clear, “will not delay” and “must take place shortly” simply cannot mean anything other than what they imply. This “God can’t tell time” mantra is striking at the very nature of God’s inspired Word and is unwittingly challenging God’s faithfulness.  Notice what God says next as he spoke through Ezekiel
Ezekiel 12:2-28 (NASB) Furthermore, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 27 “Son of man, behold, the house of Israel is saying, ‘The vision that he sees is for many years from now, and he prophesies of times far off.’ 28 “Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “None of My words will be delayed any longer. Whatever word I speak will be performed,”‘” declares the Lord GOD. 

Could God have been any more redundantly emphatic?  It seems that God was sending a very clear message that His prophesies would come to pass in the exact time they were predicted. So how is it that the accepted eschatology of our day is in such direct contradiction to these words given to Ezekiel?

Our last order of business is to deal directly with the context of 2 Peter 3:8. Two things are usually missed. One has to do with considering only half the verse and the other regards the very next verse. 

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NASB) But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one dayThe Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 

If we take this verse to mean that “shortly” can mean thousands of years, then we must consider the fact that in the second part of the verse would turn Daniel’s “many days yet to come” into one day.  

So, in other words, any reference to time (near means far and far means near) would be so ambiguous that it would have n

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Let Us Remove Hence…

Are we living in the last days? Most Christians would say, yes, absolutely. So, since most believe we’re nearing the end of time when signs and wonders are expected to abound, in what time period would you assume the following would take place? A vision of chariots and armed squadrons in the heavens; a sword of fire hanging over Rome, the temple door that took 20 men to move it, opening by itself; and a great noise comprised of many voices saying, “Let us remove hence.” 21st century or the 1st century? Did you know that all of these amazing wonders occurred in AD 66?  


I just finished listening to G.A. Henty’s For the Temple, a fictional story based upon the historical record of Israel beginning just before the war broke out between the Jews and the Romans in the AD 60s. After 12 hours assimilating this amazing history, it’s fascinating how perfectly this period fit the Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation. 
 

After years of not understanding how it was possible for the first three verses of the Revelation, “things that MUST take place shorty…for the time is near” (Rev 1:1;3), to have in fact taken place shortly, this serves as a poignant reminder of God’s timely fulfillment. Most Christians are either unaware of these things or have chosen to ignore them as though they never happened. 
 
I captured an audio snippet, added a few images and created the video below. The reason I chose this particular section was due to the last 30 seconds which are captivating.
 

The unusual signs and wonders reported by Josephus, Tacitus, Eusebius, Yosippon, and Hegesippus would be quite puzzling were it not for their connection to the events expected to close out the Olivet Discourse. Sadly, most Christians are not only unaware of these strange occurrences and their revelance to Bible prophecy, but they are also ignorant (as I was) of Palestine’s historical record between AD 60 and AD 70. 

If you’d like to know more about what these things might have meant, click on the following pdf’s. “Let us remove hence”: chart; quotes; notes; article; and more. And if you’d be interested in some lectures highlighting the historical context that surrounded the New Testament writings, I highly recommend the Ed Stevens’ podcasts. 
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Signs and Wonders! Normative for Today?

In a former blog post, “Has the Gospel Been Preached to All the World?”, a dear brother in Christ sent me the following comment/rebuke. Although I haven’t had enough time to fully develop my thoughts in a way I’m totally comfortable with, I thought his comments were worth a more timely response. This is what he wrote:
 
Wow, I have been having so much fun studying this material! I have believed much this way for a long time. But I have to tell you I am now very concerned because of your statements about healing. How can someone understand the Word so much and yet miss this? I get infuriated when I have leaders make statements about no healings, limbs growing out, blind eyes open, deaf ears healed. 
 
Have you been to one of the trips I have been on to Guatemala in the last 3 years where I have seen many blind eyes opened, deaf hear, bones set that were broken, kids speak that have never spoken and on and on. Above that, we have a stream of people who are healed on a regular basis just in our church.
 
Just because you have seen nothing in the area of healings, doesn’t mean that they aren’t happening all over the world today. By the way, I know of several people in Mexico that a friend has seen raised from the dead. You also don’t believe in prophetic ministry etc. That list makes me feel less confident in everything else you teach.
 
Sorry, but I have videos of my trips I have been on where people are being healed by the Lord on the video. Our last trip to Guatemala in November of 2013 there were 100’s of healings that we witnessed. We also have seen God heal (many times after family has been called in or given a heads up that their love one has days to live) cancers of all types. We have doctors say more times than we can remember, it’s a miracle, we don’t understand this etc.
 
Though I appreciated his comments, from my perspective, they turned a bit harsh. I think his statement, That list makes me feel less confident in everything else you teach lacks both balance and perspective. I’ve learned to NEVER throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Even in disagreement, we press on toward the upward call, constantly attempting to renew our minds through the Word.  And although I admittedly have plenty of blind spots, am I alone? Obtuse though I may occasionally be, I am constantly attempting to do my very best to be objective, not allowing personal experience to unduly override Biblical exegesis. In our fervor to “believe all things”, is it possible to be lead astray into the weeds of the subjective?    
 
Let me say at the outset that I think this kind gentleman has made some invalid assumptions i.e. that I believe God CANNOT heal.  Any correction with chapter and verse is welcome, but I do not believe I’ve ever written, said or even implied, that God was/is unable to do anything. If someone is healed, to ascribe that wonderful gift of God’s grace to anyone or anything other than God, would be an utter travesty.  And the Bible specifically warns against such an attempt. 
 
My position at this moment regarding the sign gifts of the Spirit (and my views are always subject to change due to the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment), is that I do not believe these gifts as manifested in the first century, are of the same nature today. When’s the last time someone was healed by a garment’s shadow? When have you seen a 4 day old dead man walk out of his tomb?  To argue that today’s recipients of God’s healing mercy, prove that the charismata as manifested throughout the transition period (AD 30-70), is normative for today, is problematic at best.
 
We live in a nation of 350,000,000. There are Christian churches on every corner, many of which would characterize themselves as “charismatic”. Does anyone find as I do, it at least a little bit curious that almost all of the miraculous signs and wonders occur abroad? We have literally thousands of weekly healing services throughout this fruited plain, and yet we are hard-pressed to document a single limb grown out, a blind man receiving sight or a deaf person hearing. Why?  Why, if this ministry of the Holy Spirit is still in operation today as it was in Jesus’ day, do we not have thousands if not millions of clearly documented cases of miraculous healing? 
 
If the “sign gifts” manifested today are of the same magnitude, scope and intensity as those regularly manifested by Peter or Paul, there would be no room for debate. The mere fact that we have disagreements regarding all things miraculous, proves something is amiss. If it was indeed so obvious that “many blind eyes opened, deaf hear, bones set that were broken, kids speak that have never spoken,” then there would be no question. So why are there so many skeptics?  Are all the doubters simply faith-challenged?  Are those who don’t believe the gifts are normative for today, as blind as this brother thinks we are? 
 
At this juncture, let me share some personal insights, lest anyone think I am completely ignorant of that which has been spoken of by this brother. I may not have been to Guatemala but I have been in and around the world of the charismata for quite a few years. Many years ago in our small Presbyterian church, within the blink of an eye we went from “frozen chosen” Calvinists to card carrying ambassadors of the Holy Spirit’s new wave of power. After being convinced by Terry Fullum, an Episcopal rector from Connecticut who wrote “Miracle at Darien”, of the Holy’s Spirit’s readiness to heal and prophesy through us on command, I began to eat and drink all things charismatic.
 
Multiple times I read John Wimber’s books, “Power Healing” and “Power Evangelism”. After scouring the pages, I regularly attempted to “do the stuff”, which was John’s endearing term for blessing others with the sign gifts. The word of wisdom, word of knowledge, prophecy, tongues and healing, were all in razor focus. We (the pastor and a fellow elder) attended and participated in Vineyards “Signs and Wonders Seminars”, after which we became integrally involved in Wimber’s ministry.  In the midst of our fervor I was taken aback when John died of a massive heart attack. Seemed like the irony of all ironies. 
 
We were empowered, or so we fully believed, to do even greater works than the Apostles. Nothing would stop this new unction of the Holy Spirit as we could now do all things through Christ! Millions if not more, were going to be healed and converted as this “Last days” movement swept across the globe.
 
We began regular healing services modeled after Fullam and Wimber. At a Presbyterian church, no less! Talk about making us black sheep among our cessationist friends within the PCA.  And during our regular Bible studies, in addition to the constant laying on of hands for physical healing, we added the component of “inner healing”, which was a concept first brought to our attention by Francis and Judith McNutt. Healing of the memories, as they called it, was a supernatural counseling process facilitated by the pray-er but accomplished by the Holy Spirit, where God would reach back into the most painful memories, even ones only embedded in the subconscious, and remove the crippling emotions associated with those memories. 
 
I remember quite vividly attending a C. Peter Wagner healing conference in Orlando, for the express purpose of learning more effectively how to channel this new wave of the Holy Spirit’s power. It was quite an interesting experience.
 
If we prayed for 1 we prayed for 1,000s with the full faith that God was going to do miraculous works through our obedience. I had no doubt that we would eventually make our way to the local hospitals and clean them out!  Just as in Jesus’ day, the infirmed would be healed by the throngs. Man, this new chapter in my life was going to be nothing short of amazing! I had been blind to the Holy Spirit’s potential for far too many years.
 
But something happened on my way to the revival. Not only did a paltry few prayed-for souls show any signs of improvement, none with serious, obvious ailments (as were mentioned by the responder above) ever became well. Sure, occasionally people with sinus headaches and lower back pain said they got relief, but nothing like the limbless growing new limbs, paraplegics discarding their wheelchairs, or stage 4 cancer victims immediately and permanently being made well. Sure, there were times when people thought they were healed, but invariably the symptoms would reappear…hopes dashed and faith challenged.  
 
And I am sad to report that this “movement” (for lack of a better term) had a seriously deleterious effect on my spiritual life. Something had to be wrong with me and/or my connection to God. Why wasn’t God moving as we had been told? Did God not love me or us?  Was He really there?  My expectations that had been at a fever pitch, were summarily throttled.  Perhaps God was distant and not nearly as involved in the affairs of His followers as I’d presumed. Doubts abounded. 
 
These mountains of frustrations, coupled with the underpinnings of leftbehindology (which teaches basically that God wasn’t faithful to His first century followers) and some very unfortunate personal events (my wife’s 6 miscarriages for starters), sent me to the front of the agnostic line. I went from elder/teacher, fervent Christian (prior to engaging in this “move of the Spirit”) to a pathetic excuse of a skeptic. So deep and so long did I plunge spiritually, that I cringe at the mere contemplation. My relationship with Jesus went from vibrant and vital to pitiful and pathetic. 
 
And like I said, though I don’t attribute my spiritual decline to any one issue (things are always more complicated than that), I can unequivocally report that failed expectations of the charismata played a significant part in my plunge into skepticism.
 
As my heart grew dimmer and dimmer, I remember attending Bible studies where for years I didn’t contribute a word, much lest pray. But because I didn’t want my spiritual struggles to weigh too heavily upon my impressionable teen children, I went through the motions of my regular church activities. So, although my faith had grown weak, by outward appearance other’s perceptions of my decrepit estate, were not as bad as they actually were deep within my soul. My silence was perhaps unnerving to my friends, but they really didn’t know the extent of my skepticism. Back in ’03, a few months after burying my father, I wrote a paper, “Through the Eyes of a Skeptic” and had anyone read it, may have been convinced of my departure from the faith. 
 
Bringing things forward slightly, less than a decade ago, my life took a 180. Far from being where I wanted to be (my walk with the Lord), I finally began trusting God in a way that I hadn’t previously, even before my time attempting to “do the stuff”.  It took one colossal eschatological paradigm shift to pluck me from the abyss of spiritual ambivalence into a life of faith. Once I realized that God was indeed faithful to His first century followers, I knew that there was hope for me. And as my heart softened, I spent exponentially more time in the Word…which of course had a very positive rippling affect. 
 
Some use eschatological debate like a political football. I, however, view eschatology pragmatically. To me, fulfilled eschatology represented God’s undying faithfulness as He vindicated the souls under the altar who were constantly asking, “How long, Oh Lord?” Most today still believe those crying dead believers in Revelation 6 are still waiting. And that grieves me no end. 
 
In fulfillment, I finally had the Biblical certainly to know why we were not able to perform the same kinds of signs and wonders as Peter, Paul and Jesus.  Just as there were amazingly miraculous events that took place during the Exodus, there were similar kinds of manifestations during the Exodus between the cross and the parousia.
 
1 Corinthians 13:8-13 (NASB) Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
 
I believe the perfect came in the form of the parousia of Christ, which lasted from 66-70 AD. Most see the parousia as a one-time moment in history. I see it as a prolonged presence or visitation. In an Ed Steven’s podcast, he excerpted an Arthur Melanson radio program where he shared his understanding of Hebrews 11:30-40. (well worth the listen)  As Ed rounded out the Melanson clip, he gave great Biblical support for the ceasing of prophecy, tongues and knowledge after the perfect came. The Canon was completed before the fall of the temple in AD 70, and I do not believe in continuing revelation, characterized as an ongoing gift of prophecy. 
 
I do, however, believe that God still speaks to His children.  And I further believe that there are special times when He may reveal certain future events that will help us with our daily walk. Does God still work through dreams?  I have no doubt. But to expect this to be the ordinary course, seems less than prudent. 
 
Quite a number of years ago, my wife received a warning from woman of stature, that there would soon (within the next year) be a great famine in our land. So certain was she of her dream, that her email was almost apoplecticly startling. That food shortage never came. Could it still come?  Perhaps. Anything is possible. When people are steeped in the apocalyptic expectations of our day, no wonder they dream such things! I’m simply making the point that these kinds of supernatural expressions need to be metered by Scripture. 
 
That said, I highly I recommend the following lectures from R.C. Sproul, “Are Miracles for Today?” and “The Gifts of the Spirit”.  Whatever we experience needs to be put in a Biblical context. If we neglect to do that, I think we open ourselves up to serious error. 
 
I’ve run out of time to do all that I intended, but suffice it to say, if a healing is documented and proved authentic, it must be attributed to God’s grace. God can obviously use any means possible to bring about His will and as long as all power and glory are attributed to God, and those praying believers aren’t exalted in any manner, I’ll always give God the credit.  
 
We agree that God CAN do anything at any time. So perhaps both the cessationists and the charismatics should be diligent to avoid putting God in their own box. Those who insist that God is moving today as He was in the first century, may be in danger of doing the very thing I have been accused of. Just because we witness or hear about something attributed as miraculous, does not mean that these things are normative for today. 
 
It puzzles me that it apparently doesn’t bother the sign gift proponents even a little bit that the most amazing testimonies of the miraculous i.e. raising the dead, are predominantly witnessed in foreign countries e.g. Guatemala and Mexico. I have heard these kinds of claims for years. I remember hearing Benny Hinn tell of a dead man being raised to life right on the speaking platform. But, I’ve neither the time nor the inclination to deal with brother Hinn’s issues.

Is there an anti-spiritual force field over the U.S.? Christian illusionist Andre Kole presents some serious challenges to the authenticity of the charismatic movement. For the serious Bible student, I would consider the following DVD: The Signs And Wonders Movement: Exposed

I am not skeptical that God CAN do the miraculous, the question is, is He working in the same manner as He did through the Apostles? Is the move of the Holy Spirit as manifested through tongues, prophecy and healing, normative for today?  
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The End of the Beginning!

In a recent church newsletter, the congregants were informed of a new series entitled, “The end: Understanding the Book of Revelation”.  In this upcoming set of sermons, the is “going to help make sense of this often confusing book of the Bible.” As one considers the first installment, “?The beginning of the end”, a few questions immediately flooded my slightly warped (some say very warped 🙂 gray matter.  

To what
 end is the pastor referring? The beginning of what end?  Though many would automatically presume it to be about the last days of planet earth and the end of human history, did you know that nowhere in John’s vision is such an end stipulated. 

Matter of fact, since most presume the book of Revelation to be a more comprehensive treatment of Olivet Discourse found in the synotpics (Matthew 24; Luke 21; Mark 13), it may come as a surprise to some (it shocked the heck out of me!) that the end of the world (kosmos) is not only never mentioned in the Gospels, but is not found in the entire Bible. Jesus frequently referred to the “end of the age” (Matt 13:49; Matt 24:3; Matt 28:20) but never the end of the world. And though that may seem like hairsplitting, it is anything but. Since the KJV (King James Version) wrongly translated “aion” as world, most Christians throughout the past hundreds of years, have mistakenly thought that the end of the kosmos was plainly in Jesus’ cross-hairs.  So, though the Revelation may in fact be about the “beginning of the end”, it’s extremely important to determine what end is actually in view. 
 

Based merely upon the sermon title, “The beginning of the end”, quite a few additional questions immediately spring to mind: 

  • Isn’t this an awfully long ending if ?”The beginning of the end?” began in the first century? (Acts 2:16-17; Heb 1:1-2) Both Peter and the author of Hebrews (I believe to be Paul) made it clear that the “Last Days” began in the 1st century. 
  • Doesn’t 2,000 years seem like an ?very long “last days”? 
  • Weren’t the last days, which were 
    first spoken of in Genesis 49, supposed to be at the tail end of the Old Covenant age which began at Sinai?,? 1,600 years before the last days began? If you’re like me, you might have to read that again to get the full impact.
  • If the first verse of John’s Revelation speaks of “things which MUST take place SHORTLY”, what in the world does “shortly” really mean if we’re still looking for these events to take place? 
Confused?  You should be. 🙂  And that’s probably why most people stay clear of this highly sign-ified book. 
So let’s get this straight. The ?Mosaic age ?in which ?the last days were supposed to modify, ?were? to last longer (2,000 years) than the entire Mosaic period (1,600? years)? Does that make any sense? That’d be like Babies R Us (which is selling off it’s inventory as we speak) having a “last days” liquidation sale,?last longer than the entire time the store had existed. LoL
Since the apple rarely falls far from the tree, it’s my educated guess that this pastor will present a somewhat typical version of premillennialism. Dallas Theological Seminary, the place where he received his degree, has been the hotbed for premillennial dispensational eschatology, which  was founded at approx the same time (1830s) as were the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Millerite… all of which share a common eschatological framework. Not the best of bedfellows. That alone should make one a bit nervous.
 
In this week’s sermon notes the first verse quoted, “…things which must take place shortly”, is listed under the subtitle: “The Revelation is an autobiography.” Though this verse and the other two verses quoted on page 1 (of the sermon notes) all contain imminent time references (Rev 1:3 “for the time is near; Rev 22:7 And behold, I am coming soon?…?“), I find it curiously telling that the pastor followed with the main bullet point exhortation, Why is a predictive approach to Revelation not the best? • The Bible warns against it… while quoting “but concerning the day and hour no one knows” 

Yes, the Bible clearly warns against “private interpretations”, but since John is told repeatedly in the first and last chapters in the Revelation of the “things that MUST take place shortly”, I’m not certain why it would be wrong to determine if these things did in fact take place shortly. Matter of fact, I think it’s imperative that we do that. 

When pastor warns against a predictive approach, is this not an indictment against the entire premillennial schema that he subscribes to? Just wander through your local Christian bookstore (after purchasing one of my wife’s wonderful books! 🙂 and notice how the plethora of apocalyptically-based novels and commentaries are warning us of our impending end. This is the drumbeat of this entire eschatological system that has dominated the evangelical community since the 60s.  
So when one references tsunami’s, earthquakes (one yesterday in Cuba), Middle East strife, school shootings and moral disintegration, as proof that we are nearing the end, aren’t we in a sense violating this edict against this predictive approach?  Though few go so far as the date setting of Harold Camping or Edgar Whisenant (88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988), the winds of impending doom are constantly swirling throughout the church. I sat in a north Florida Sunday School some time ago and as the class neared its end, the leader said something like, “Men, things may be bad now, but they will only get worse. Get ready!”  
 
As I have heard pastors and others allude to the fact that things are only going to get worse, I have to wonder what impact this is having on our resolve to win the world for Christ? Matter of fact, in a rather sordid sort of way, some go so far to revel in the disintegration of our culture as proof that Jesus is closer to returning. (Kirk Cameron addressed that very issue in Monumental – short clip below.) 

Although I would wholeheartedly concur that today’s prophetic speculators have brought undue scorn upon the Bible’s credibility, I don’t think this is what Jesus was warning His disciples about. Jesus had just spent His entire Olivet monologue with the express purpose of telling them what was about to take place and when it would happen. Was Jesus truly dodging the disciple’s question, “…when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Not at all. Jesus answered that question with great certainty in verse 34 “This generation will not pass away until ALL THESE THINGS be fulfilled”. So why when we read verse 36, do we assume that Jesus had no clue when He would return? Not knowing the day and the hour is one thing. Not knowing the millennia is quite another!
 
Matthew 24:36 (ESV) “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 
 
Was Jesus really telling his disciples that neither He nor anyone would ever have a remote clue when He was going to return? Is that really what this verse was supposed to convey? Jesus said He didn’t know the specific day or the specific hour, but He also emphatically stated that “all these things would come upon this generation” (Matt 23:36) and “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matt 24:34)??. 

C.S. Lewis thought verse 34 was so misleading that it was really embarrassing (World’s Last Night). So much so that it called it the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. Most, instead of being embarrassed by it, do everything in their power to ignore it or alter it’s plain meaning. C.I. Scofield tried to do a little slight of hand, writing that “generation” (genea) actually meant “race” (genos). However, since that effort has been so summarily discredited, people choose other avenues like, “It’s the generation that sees the signs”.  It never ceases to amaze me, the excuses people try to come up with to make the Bible fit into their little box. The disciples asked one question, not three, and Jesus gave one definitive answer. At that point we have a choice. We can either attempt to change what Jesus actually said, or we can believe Him. 

 
So would you characterize Jesus’ statement “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have come to pass”, as having no idea? Sure, 40 years (a Biblical generation) is a heck of a long time, but it is still a clearly delineated time frame (from the cross in AD 30 to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70).  Jesus had already stated that He would return before his disciples finished going through the cities of Israel (Matt 10:23), while some in his larger flock were still alive (Matt 16:27-28), so adding “this generation” to the mix was really just a reaffirmation of what He had already told them.  
 
By the time we arrive at Matthew 24:34, ?Jesus had finished a rather lengthy explanation, detailing the events that would precede His return (at the end of the age) culminating in the temple’s utter obliteration (Matt 24:2-3).  
 
So to say that Jesus had no clue when He would return is, well, ludicrous. That may sound harsh, but Jesus made it abundantly clear that His disciples were to stay vigilant and should prepare for His return. That was the intent of the parables that followed Matthew 24. In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus even gave the birth pains analogy, which made evident that although a mother wouldn’t know the exact day or the hour of her child’s birth, she would know that in approx 9 months she’s have a baby… so, once the birth pains arrive, she’d know that her baby’s birth was imminent. The point is that in both instances (Jesus’ coming and childbirth) there is a fixed, known time period, which was to end shortly after the birth pains began. 
 
That’s why Jesus prefaced His emphatic statement concerning “this generation” with the following:
 
Matthew 24:32-33 (NASB) “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near33 so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door
 

?Does this sound as if the disciples were not to know the season of His return? 22 times in the first 44 verses in this Matthew’s 24th chapter, Jesus referred to “you” as He warned them (His beloved disciples) of the impending events that would lead to the end of the age and the razing of the temple. So what hermeneutical (science of interpretation) principle would license us to assume that the “you” in “when you see these things” is not specifically referencing the disciples, but instead is some sort of generic “you” representing those of us living in the 21st century? 

When I was first confronted with the interpretive principle, “reader relevance”, I was shocked to notice the number of times Jesus referred specifically to His disciples. From start to finish there is a contiguous reference to Jesus’ disciples. So to make this passage about us seems arrogant and myopic. 

  • Do YOU see all these things? (verse 2)
  • Truly I tell YOU (verse 2)
  • Watch out that no one deceives YOU (4)
  • YOU will hear of wars and rumors of wars (6)
  • but see to it that YOU are not alarmed (6)?
  • Then YOU will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death (9)
  • YOU will be hated by all nations because of me (9)
  • “So when YOU see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation (15)
  • Pray that YOUR flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath (20)
  •  At that time if anyone says to YOU, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. (23)
  • See, I have told YOU ahead of time. (25?)
  • So if anyone tells YOU, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. (26)
  • As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, YOU know that summer is near. (32)
  • Even so, when YOU see all these things (33)
  • YOU know that it is near, right at the door (33)
  • Truly I tell YOU, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened (34)
  • Therefore keep watch, because YOU do not know on what day your Lord will come (42)
  • So YOU also must be ready (44)
  • because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (44)
Watch Matthew 23-24 (below) to get the full impact of “audience relevance”. Skip to the 9:22 mark of Matthew 24.
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Is there any question to whom Jesus was speaking and is there the slightest doubt that Jesus was preparing His disciples so they would remain vigilant? “YOU must also be ready,” Jesus exhorted. Why would Jesus exhort them to “be ready” if none of this pertained to them, but rather was targeting a distant generation 2,000 years future? I realize that, in their/our arrogance, every generation thinks they are the most important in all of history, but this is not only not the case, but it’s also bad logic. 
 
Now, notice how Jesus’ brother James used the same language as Jesus did 30 years earlier. 
 
James 5:8-9 (NKJV) You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at handDo not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!
 
Jesus had said, “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; 33 so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door(Matt 24:32-33)
 
Is this just coincidental language?  James stated that Jesus’ return was not only near, it was ?”right at the door”!!!  And the closer they came to the end of the age, the more we see this language of imminence intensify. The passages below were written in the early AD 60s just a few short years from the destruction of Jerusalem. 
 
In Hebrews 10:37, 1 John 2:18 and 1 Peter 4:7 we read, “for in a very little while He who is coming will come and will not delay“; “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour; and The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.”
 
?Is there any doubt that these apostles were keeping track of the signs? Surely they neither knew the day nor the hour, but, given the anticipatory language above, it’s apparent that they knew the “last days” were coming to a close. John didn’t say he thought it might be the last hour, he said that he knew it was the last hour. 
 
According to the Apostle Paul, only those who were not paying attention to the unfolding events laid out in the Olivet were to be consumed by the wrath of God as He poured out His vengeance upon the Christ-killing generation. The thief would ONLY come as a thief in the night to those who were not vigilant. To the Christians who did not live in darkness, they would not be overtaken by the thief. They were sons of the day! 
 
1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 (NASB) For YOU yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But YOU, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake YOU like a thief; for YOU are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let US not sleep as others do, but let US be alert and sober. “But YOU are not in darkness that the day would overtake YOU as a thief, for YOU are all sons of light and sons of the day.” 
 
So, when anyone tries to argue that Christ’s return in judgment against that wicked and perverse generation, was shrouded in so much mystery that no one should have a clue when He would return, you will know that they are in error because the Bible proves differently. If one ignores the timing, because they don’t understand the nature of His coming, confusion will abound. And once we ignore the context of the timing, the Bible becomes an interpretive Mr. Potato Head. ?It can be manipulated to fit our paradigm. 
 
The first century Jews missed Jesus’ first coming. Why? Because they expected a warrior prince to deliver them from their political bondage while vanquishing their oppressors, not a suffering servant who came to set them free from sin and death. So they crucified Him.
 
Is it possible that 21st Christians have made the very same interpretive mistake by misunderstanding the nature of Christ’s return? Jesus had already warned his followers not to be misled. “So if anyone tells YOU, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.” But why? How could they be certain that at some point Jesus would not be found among them again?  For the same reason Peter attempted to resist Jesus’ arresting party.
 
John 18:36 (NASB) Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” 
 
The Kingdom, Jesus told them, is not of this world. It’s spiritual in nature. The Kingdom was not coming with “signs to be observed”. 
 
Luke 17:20-21 (NASB) 20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!‘ or, ‘There it is!‘ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
 
Just a few chapters later, Luke, writing to a predominantly Gentile audience, wrote:
 
Luke 21:20-22 (NASB) 20 “But when YOU see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near21 “Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; 22 because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled.    
 
Is there any wonder why so many Christians have missed this when we’re so rooted in earthly/physical/temporal expectations?  If we miss the timing of His visitation (and I don’t know how much clearer Jesus and the the NT authors could have been), how will we understand the nature of that coming? Is there perhaps a reason why, after 2,000 years, Jesus has still not arrived in the manner expected, given the fact that, in the second to the last verse of the Bible, He said Behold, I am coming quickly? (Rev 22:20)  
 
I realize this brings discomfort to some (as it did me), but if we don’t begin to take God seriously when He said He was going to do something, aren’t we unwittingly entering into a state of disbelief simply because we want to hold on to what we’ve been told?
 
Let me add one more thought regarding this supposed second coming “mystery” and the exhortation to avoid prophetic speculation. It should be noted that Jesus said (while still in human form before His ascension) that His parousia (Greek word usually translated “coming”) would be in “this generation”. At that time, because of His human restrictions, only the Father knew the day and the hour of his return.  

However, would you not agree that once Jesus ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father (AD 30), that at that very moment He knew the day and the hour of His imminent visitation? Jesus’ glory was clearly restored to that His prior status before the foundation of the world. So to argue that, even after His ascension, He would never know the day or the hour of His return, is to assault the deity of Christ and the oneness of the trinity.

John 17:5 (NKJV) And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

Jesus had already been glorified and was no longer encumbered by human constraints. So, when the Revelation was written (approx AD 62-64), I’m not certain how we can argue that Jesus was still unaware. Therefore, when we read the first 3 verses of the Revelation, what should our conclusion be? The King is telling us WHEN He will return. This is not a guess. “MUST soon take place” gives us no wiggle room. When the Creator of the universe says something must happen, do we have the nerve to question like the serpent did i.e. Hath God said?… 

 
Revelation 1:1-3 (NASB) The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
 
The word Revelation is the Greek word “apokalupsis” which means the uncovering. Not the concealing! Many today seem to believe that the Revelation was never meant to be understood by actual recipients, but only properly understood by us. Wouldn’t then, the vision has been named the parakalýpt?, which means concealed? 
Luke 9:45 (NASB) But they did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement. 
 
Jesus, through the angel, told John of the impending events that were about to follow. So why is the sci-fi language about beasts, dragons and strange creatures with horns seemingly shrouded in mystery and intrigue?? To protect the recipients against their adversaries, both Roman and Jewish. This book was not a mystery to those steeped in the Old Testament. It only appears to us like a document concealed in secrecy because we have so little grasp of the Old Testament. 
 
Twice in the first 3 verses, and 5 times in our Bible’s last chapter, Jesus told them that His return was imminent. Personally, though I realize it’s not popular, I prefer to believe Jesus than the self-appointed experts who will not take God at His word. 
 
So is it true that no one was or is to have a clue when Jesus was to return? Clearly the Disciples didn’t know the day or the hour, but is it possible for us to know the exact time of His visitation? 
 
American Vision Founder, Gary DeMar, in the forward to Francis Gumerlock’s “The Day and the Hour: Christianity’s Perennial Fascination with Predicting the End of the World”, wrote:
 

“Trying to make the Bible say something that it does not is the point of Frank Gumerlock’s The Day and the Hour. Its historical documentation is overwhelming. We read how decade after decade of prophecy writers, over two millennia, assured their followers that their generation was the last generation. How could so many well-intentioned and seemingly well-informed Christians be so wrong on such an important topic? Is the Bible that unclear? Not at all. The Bible is not at fault. The fault lies with those who refuse to take it’s The result is that God ends up being a liar.

The Day and the Hour forces us to reevaluate the constant claim that today’s signs are certain indicators that Jesus is coming soon, that He is returning in our generation. Some might say, “Well, today is different. Conditions of the world are much worse than they were 500 years ago. There are more earthquakes, famines and wars. As you read The Day and the Hour, count how many times this same argument is used to support the claim that the end was near for Christians in long-past generations. 

The Day and the Hour is an ever-present reminder that if the history of date setting teaches us anything, it teaches that everyone who has ever made a prophetic claim has been wrong. In the final analysis, the Bible is the true standard, not the prophetic prognostications of prophetic speculators.”

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Peacemakers and the Land Promises…

“Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS for they shall become sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

This poignant exhortation, embedded in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, is often ignored in the larger context. People recognize their responsibility to seek peace with their “neighbor“, but when it comes to nations, Jesus’ mandate is summarily ignored. Why?  Why is there such a sense of detachment in terms of international foreign policy? Aren’t nations an extension of individuals? Why shouldn’t the United States be held to the same peacemaking standards?  Ron Paul was severely ridiculed for his anti-interventionist views, yet, in my opinion, he was merely attempting to apply Jesus’ peacemaking directive to nations.

Let me share a clip from former presidential candidate, Pat Robertson, as a perfect case in point.

As you just heard, Robertson made it abundantly clear that any peace initiative involving land concessions (from Israel) to the Palestinians, will result in terrible suffering for people in the United States. He went on to sternly warn, “I think this is headed for disaster for the United States. God says, ‘They divided my land,’ there is something about dividing God’s land, He said this is ‘My land, I gave it to Abraham and his descendants and I don’t want it taken away from them and Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel.’

Let me attempt to crystallize and unpack what I believe is Robertson’s serious theological error. He, along with the majority of evangelicals in our pulpits and pews today,  believes that Israel is above all. National Israel, it is argued, has been and always will be the the apple of God’s eye. And if you doubt that for even a moment, consider the 1967 Israeli unprovoked attack on the USS Liberty. You will be shocked at the way this murderous act was swept under the carpet.

Christian leaders, in consort with their Jewish Zionist counterparts (contrary to popular understanding, plenty of Jews oppose Zionism), have brought great pressure upon the U.S. Government to apply standards not enjoyed by any other nation. And Robertson’s ominous rhetoric couldn’t make that clearer. We are admonished to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (which is good), but yet at the exclusion of their neighbors. Why not pray for the peace of Tehran, Bagdad and Damascus as well?  Because, John Hagee forcefully and defiantly says, they are NOT God’s people!  Matter of fact, they are deemed THE enemies of God in the “last days”. They were born on the wrong side of the genetic tracks and don’t think for a moment they aren’t fully cognizant of it.

Is Robertson correct?  Are the countries that encourage Israel’s land-swapping for peace, destined for God’s retributive judgment?  Is peacemaking conditional?  Is the modern day nation of Israel exempted from Jesus’ exhortation?

I have neither the time nor the inclination to deal with all the Biblical ramifications regarding this very common theological position, but suffice it to say, I believe it is both dangerous and errant. Having said that, before you stamp 666 on my forehead and throw me under the bus, please take a moment to understand my position. By even questioning U.S. foreign policy toward Israel or Israel’s foreign policy regarding its neighbors, almost always elicits the race card.  Let me make clear, I am NOT anti-Semitic in any way whatsoever. I have many Jewish friends, a former classmate Israeli citizen, and so I want only the best for them. And that’s the main thrust of this article. What I believe Christians have unwittingly bought into, is the view that places one race above all others. I realize they believe they have good Biblical standing to do that, but as I will attempt to show, that view is build on very unstable soil. So, I find it ironic that, at it’s very core, Christian Zionism is enmeshed in bigotry of the worst kind. It exalts an entire race of people solely on the basis of race.

Many if not most Christians believe it is our duty to support Israel in everything they do. After all, they argue, God gave them the “promised land” FOREVER, right?  And there are no shortage of Old Testament verses that appear to make that case.

for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. Genesis 13:15 Others are Exodus 32:13, Joshua 14:19, 1 Chronicles 28:8, 2 Chronicles 20:7, Ezra 9:9.

Anyone even remotely familiar with the Middle East situation, knows that peace in that region is a virtually impossibly without Israeli land concessions.  Therefore, if we take Robertson’s stance and faithfully apply the above passages, we are forever dooming the potential for Middle East peace.  The Dome of the Rock, Islam’s 3rd most holy site, has stood squarely in the heart of Jerusalem since 691 BC., and according to many, it will be destroyed with God’s blessing. Listen, I am no fan of Islam, and believe it to be a very dangerous religion, but to insist that their holy site MUST be razed, proves my point.

In order to properly understand the above verses that seem to suggest Israel’s divine right to the holy land, I think it’s imperative to look at the Hebrew word Olam, which is most often translated, “forever”. Following is an excerpt from a debate regarding this very subject. Don K. Preston was challenging Dr. Ralph Olson’s contention which is the same as Robertson’s.

At this point you may be thinking as I initially did, how could anyone in their right mind contend that “forever” could mean anything other than “throughout eternity.”  Forever seems rather straightforward, right?  In English it it, but let’s look at its Hebrew usage in context.

[Don K. Preston] “Mr. Olson reveals his ignorance of the Hebrew word “Olam”, which is translated as “forever”, when he demands that it must mean without end. However, I have already shown the following:

God would not abandon Israel, “UNTIL I have performed all I have promised” (Genesis 28:15f).

I have shown that God did say that He would, in Israel’s last days, DESTROY THEM (Isaiah 65:1f; Daniel 9:1f; Daniel 12:1f, Malachi 4:1f, etc.). Mr. Olson simply denies these texts.

Mr. Olson claims that because God said He chose Israel “forever” that this proves his view of Revelation. No, it doesn’t. Take a look at a few texts.

Exodus 29:9; 40:15– The Levitical priesthood was to be an eternal (olam) priesthood. Yet, in Christ, that priesthood has been changed– removed (Hebrews 7:11-12).

In the Mosaic Covenant, the offering of incense (Exodus 30:6f), the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:1f), the animal sacrifices (Leviticus 10:1f), the Sabbath (Exodus 31:1f), and virtually every aspect of the Mosaic Cultus was said to be everlasting.

But, the reader will remember that Mr. Olson has already told us that the Mosaic Covenant was temporary. MR. OLSON, THE TEMPORARY MOSAIC COVENANT WAS AN “ETERNAL” (OLAM) COVENANT. But, this is not all. Take a look at this:

In Deuteronomy 28:46 part of the temporary Mosaic Covenant, YHVH threatened Israel with curses for disobedience to that covenant. He said of those curses —“And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants FOREVER.” Mr. Olson, according to YHVH, the curses of the Mosaic Covenant would be upon Israel FOREVER!

In Jeremiah 17:4, Judah’s sin caused YHVH to say: “O My mountain in the field, I will give as plunder, your wealth, all your treasures, and your high places of sin within all your borders. And you, even yourself, Shall let go of your heritage which I gave you; And I will cause you to serve your enemies in the land which you do not know; FOR YOU HAVE KINDLED A FIRE IN MY ANGER WHICH SHALL BURN FOREVER.” Mr. Olson, God said that Judah’s sixth century sin would cause her to LOSE HER HERITAGE, because God’s anger would burn against her FOREVER! This is the curse of Deuteronomy 28, the curse that would remain on Israel FOREVER, for violation of the Mosaic Covenant, that you agree was temporary!

In Jeremiah 18:16, YHVH said that He was going to bring judgment on Judah, “To make their land desolate and a perpetual (OLAM) hissing.” Mr. Olson, is the land of Israel under this PERPETUAL CURSE?

In Jeremiah 23:39f, the Lord said of Jerusalem, “I will surely forget you and cast you out of my presence along with the city I gave to your fathers, and I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.’”

MR. OLSON, IS ISRAEL UNDER A PERPETUAL REPROACH as a result of disobedience to the MOSAIC COVENANT?

Mr. Olson can’t argue that this curse would be CONDITIONAL, for his definition of forever MEANS WITHOUT END! So, if the curses came on Israel, then the curses will never end!

In Jeremiah 25:9 YHVH said he was going to bring Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem, and make that city “perpetual desolations!” According to Mr. Olson’s definition of everlasting, this means that Jerusalem could never be restored, since God said she would be A PERPETUAL DESOLATION FROM THE TIME OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR!

So, according to God:

The Mosaic Covenant, with its cultus, would stand FOREVER.

The Mosaic Covenant CURSES would be on Israel FOREVER, she would be a PERPETUAL SHAME.

Jerusalem would– from the time of Nebuchadnezzar, be a PERPETUAL DESOLATION!

The fact is that olam does not necessarily mean without end, as Mr. Olson claims. YHVH said that in Israel’s last days, WHEN HE HAD FULFILLED ALL OF HIS PROMISES TO THAT NATION, He would– and He did– cast them off as a distinctive covenant people, because all of the “better things” that Israel foreshadowed, had arrived!

At this point it should be clear that the Hebrew world “Olam” most often means, “for as long as God intends”.  Please take the time to watch the following two videos that will put Israel’s land promises in perspective.

Once we divest ourselves of the errant notions that Israel is above reproach and that the land of Palestine is eternally theirs to do as they please, we can begin to become peacemakers. First, obtaining inner peace through the shed blood of Christ, and then peace among nations, as we turn swords into plowshares. So, please let’s dispense with the notion that the little piece of real estate bordering Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebonon, is attached to some sort of divine decree. Two thousand years ago in Jesus’ exchange with the Samaritan woman at he well, He made clear that the days had come when God would no longer be interested in physical locations.

John 4:21-24 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when NEITHER IN THIS MOUNTAIN NOR IN JERUSALEM will you worship the Father. 22 “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 

Therefore, let’s us become ministers of reconciliation as we point people to the true and abiding temple, Jesus Christ. What would happen if we actually began to promote the Gospel without ethnic strings attached? What might happen if Muslims surrounding Israel, and those living within its borders began to realize that Jesus died for their sins?  And that they too can become the apple of God’s eye?

2 Corinthians 5:18  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,

We must, in my view, cease this bigoted view that one people group is superior to another. In the New Covenant there is no distinction among races. The Gospel must be shared without prejudice as all Christians become peacemakers.

Galatians 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:11  a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

Romans 10:12  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;

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Peak 8 Exercise Breakthrough – Dr. Mercola

The science surrounding Peak 8 (Sprint 8)

This is amazing!  

As you most likely know, I consider fitness to be one of the major hallmarks of optimal health. I passionately believe that for optimal mental and physical health, you need to exercise regularly. (this article can be found HERE)
Fitness, at any age, plays an important role in:
  • Promoting your optimal mental and emotional health
  • Helping you reach and maintain your ideal body weight
  • Helping to slow your rate of aging
  • Helping you enjoy more quality sleep at night
  • Increasing your overall energy levels
  • Help increase or maintain your flexibility
Research in the area of fitness is exploding as baby boomers and other health conscious individuals seek new, previously unexplored ways to maintain their youth and vigor. The relation of exercise to optimal health supported by research is indeed staggering.

What You Must Know About Exercise…

Exercise Demands Time
Many types of exercise demand
lots of time and motivation
There’s one caveat when it comes to exercise… Not every type will give you benefits.
Certain forms of exercise will demand more of your precious time – time that you may not have in your busy schedule and unfortunately, some provide very little benefit in return.
Some types will require extreme motivation on your part because you’ll have to wait longer to see and feel recognizable benefits.
And I know from my own experience and that of others, when exercise is considered a “burden” and requires a lot of time and motivation, it’s more likely to not get done.
Your good intentions invested in your ‘new’ exercise regimen can disappear in a flash.
Imagine if you could discover an exercise routine that…
  • You found enjoyable
  • Took only about sixty minutes a week of your time (and you really only worked ‘hard’ for 12 of those minutes), and
  • Provided you with benefits that you could feel almost immediately?
I know most people would respond with a resounding “Yes!”
That’s exactly what I intend to show you. Because I am so passionate about the importance of exercise, I’m making it my personal mission to show you that exercise…
…Can be enjoyable
…Doesn’t need to take hours of your time
…Can provide you with benefits that can make a profound difference in your health.

What the Latest Science Tells Us…

Around the age of 40, most people begin to lose about 8 percent of their muscle mass every ten years. And most chalk it up to “getting old”.
However, researchers have discovered that losing muscle mass as you age doesn’t need to happen. In fact, a recent study of 70- and 80-year-old competitive athletes found that they had almost as much thigh muscle mass as athletes in their 40s.
Losing muscle mass is not a ‘normal’ part of aging. Rather, it’s a by-product of inactivity.
When you avoid exercising your muscles for any significant period, your muscle fibers begin to break down or “atrophy”.
But here’s the good news – researchers have discovered that it is possible to repair and rebuild inactive muscle. And you can start doing it at any age, even if you haven’t worked out for a long time. Naturally, the sooner you start exercising, the less damage you’ll have to repair.
Research is showing us that a balanced approach to fitness is most beneficial for building muscle and optimal health. Ideally you want to meet all of these goals in your routine:
  • Build strength and flexibility
  • Create balance and stability
  • Promote cardiovascular fitness
  • Burn fat
Aerobic activities such as cycling or using an elliptical machine, along with core exercises and stretching can provide your body with the balanced routine it needs for optimal fitness.
If you’ve been working out for a while now and haven’t seen the results you desire, something may be missing.
And that “something” may be what traditional exercise can’t deliver. However, there’s a revolutionary “new” trend in fitness that can…

The Hottest New Trend in Fitness Today…

Many personal trainers claim it’s simply “the fastest way to get clients fit”.
This hot trend in fitness is indeed making news – and being endorsed by famous celebrities and popular magazines. Some are even touting it as a “way to lose weight in a hurry”.
And I’ve been doing it and promoting it for years…
It’s not cardio. Nor is it jogging or long distance running. And it’s not hour-long gym workouts or aerobic exercise classes.
Peak (Sprint) 8 Exercise
Peak Fitness can be done just about
anywhere, including at home
You see, scientists are discovering that it’s intensity, not duration of exercise that may be the missing piece of the puzzle in becoming fit and slimming down.
And this type of high-intensity exercise is especially beneficial for aging bodies.
Here’s what those who have discovered it love most: it takes a fraction of the time of aerobic or cardio exercise – a huge relief if you’re already feeling short on time.
What is this revolutionary fitness trend?
Peak Fitness.
Designed and developed by fitness guru and author Phil Campbell, Peak Fitness, or “Sprint 8” is a 20 minute workout session that includes eight 30 second intervals of intense anaerobic bursts, each followed by 90-seconds of decreased intensity and recovery.
During ‘peak exercises’, you raise your heart rate beyond your aerobic threshold and push it into your maximum intensity limit.
Appropriate and safe for even seniors, intervals improve fitness by building new capillaries and a
stronger heart and lungs.
Your muscles benefit too, because this type of exercise helps create more mitochondria, the tiny motors that power cells.

What Your Body Really Needs For Maximum Benefits from Exercise

Cardiovascular Benefits of Exercise
Traditional forms of exercise don’t
optimally benefit your body
– or your heart.
According to Phil Campbell, author of “Ready Set Go”, receiving maximum cardiovascular benefits requires working all of your muscle fibers and both metabolic processes.
You have three different types of muscle fibers – slow-twitch, fast-twitch, and super-fast-twitch.
And your heart has two different metabolic processes:
  1. The aerobic, which requires oxygen
  2. The anaerobic, which doesn’t require any oxygen
Traditional strength training, aerobic and cardio exercises work primarily the aerobic metabolic process. And they use mostly only slow-twitch muscle fibers.
Typically, traditional forms of exercise don’t engage the anaerobic process of your heart nor do they involve the very beneficial fast-twitch muscle fibers.
On the other hand, high-intensity interval training such as Peak Fitness works BOTH your aerobic and anaerobic processes AND employs the crucial faster-twitch fibers, giving you a very thorough heart muscle workout.
To quote Phil Campbell:
“Most exercise programs today are built based upon a very incomplete picture of the physiology of your body.For example, long slow cardio, “calories in, calories out,” would be a perfect way to look at the body if it were all slow-twitch fiber…

But the fast- and super-fast-twitch fibers are essentially 50 percent of your muscle fibers and they don’t get recruited until you add a velocity of movement.”

Groundbreaking Research Changes AHA Cardio Guidelines

The research is so compelling about the superior benefits of high-intensity anaerobic exercise that the American Heart Association andthe American College of Sports Medicine have redefined their exercise cardio guidelines.
Their new guidelines state that you have a choice – do moderate intensity cardio five days a week for 30 minutes, or do vigorous intensity cardio for 20 minutes, three days a week, which is exactly what Peak Fitness is.
With Peak Fitness, that’s a total of 90 minutes a week. And you only need to do this type of exercise 3 times a week instead of 5!
What’s more, a recent study actually discovered that marathon runners were more likely to damage their hearts. Researchers found diminished right ventricular heart function, the presence of heart muscle scar tissue, and elevated heart injury blood markers among athletes in the study.
As for Peak Fitness exercises, you don’t need or want to do them more than three times a week. Like running marathons, you actually do more harm than good when you overtax your body by exercising too much. Your body must have time to recover between workouts or your health can suffer.

My True Fitness Breakthrough Came 
When I Discovered Peak Fitness

After more than 40 years of long-distance running, I found myself mentally exhausted by this type of exercise – I had clearly hit a plateau.
I began to realize that the extensive cardiovascular aerobic-type training I was engaging in might be counterproductive. I learned that high-intensity, burst-type sprints might be a far better alternative to long-distance running.
Then, I met Phil Campbell… and I finally understood the connection to growth hormone and how to actually integrate the program. Phil taught his Sprint 8 program in an easily understandable way and provided an explanation of how to lose weight and gain muscle mass.
I was hooked. I’ve been doing a very similar type workout that I’ve named “Peak Fitness” ever since April of 2010. In that switch, I ditched my conventional cardio workout completely. The benefits I am now experiencing have convinced me I couldn’t have made a better decision.
I’ve been doing – and recommending, along with Phil Campbell – Peak Fitness exercises three times a week.
And after interviewing yet another high-intensity interval training expert and emergency room physician, Dr. Doug McGuff, I’ve learned to appreciate how important it is to listen to your body and allow sufficient recovery time between workouts.
As you age, you do need to adjust and discover through trial and error what works best for you. Your body can guide you onto a path that will provide you with the most efficient and effective benefits when you listen to it.

How Peak Fitness Can Become Your Personal Fountain of Youth
for Longevity, Fitness, and Weight Loss, Too

Peak (Sprint) 8 Workout
Peak Fitness workouts can help serve as your personal fountain of youth – at any age.
As you reach your 30s, you enter what’s called “somatopause,” when your levels of human growth hormone (HGH) begin to drop off rather dramatically.
You can start to pile on body fat – particularly unwanted “middle age spread”. You start to lose muscle mass and you may also feel more fatigued.
Not only do declining levels of HGH change how your body burns fat, they also play a critical role in your aging process where you can actually look and feel older.
It has been my experience that nearly everyone over 30 has dramatically low levels of this important hormone because they begin leading increasingly sedentary life styles.
“For a full two hours after your workout your metabolism stays higher and you continue to burn calories faster, as long as you avoid eating or drinking sugar.”
The important point to remember is… your super-fast muscle fibers help get you the benefits you desire. And the only way to engage your super-fast muscle fibers is by doing anaerobic or high-intensity exercise like Peak Fitness. Traditional cardio and aerobic exercises do not engage your super-fast fibers!

With Peak Fitness, Get Ready for a Younger- and Leaner-Looking You

Peak Fitness Anti-Aging Strategy
Peak Fitness makes a great
anti-aging strategy. What’s yours?
Boosting your metabolism and increasing fat loss is just the beginning.
Peak Fitness is also a potent “anti-aging” strategy. You can potentially look and feel younger!
Some of the latest studies have shown how exercise affects telomeres – those shoelace tip-like ends of your chromosomes.
When your telomeres get too short, cells stop dividing and you can experience muscle loss, cognitive decline, and less skin elasticity, among other changes.
In these studies, endurance athletes were shown to have longer telomeres than those who did not exercise. Even moderate activity was shown to benefit telomeres.
No matter your age, starting or adding Peak Fitness exercises into your current workout routine can potentially have an impact on your overall health.
Once you regularly participate in these 20-minute exercises three times a week, you may notice the following benefits as many others have as well:
  • Decrease in body fat
  • Improved muscle tone
  • Increase in energy
  • Improved athletic speed and performance
  • Ability to achieve your fitness goals much faster
That’s not all… Research repeatedly shows that maintaining your optimal weight and exercising regularly helps maintain healthy glucose and insulin levels. It does this through supporting your insulin receptor sensitivity.
When you normalize your insulin levels, you give your body its best chance for optimum health. And that applies to you even if you start your exercise program overweight or out-of-shape.

It’s Never Too Late to Start

Chances are, if you’re over 50 and you haven’t started a regular exercise program, you may be thinking it’s too late to start or to enjoy all the benefits that Peak Fitness can offer.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Peak (Sprint) 8 Beneficial to Elderly
Research shows that age isn’t a factor. Regular exercise, even when started late in life, offers health benefits.
If you’re elderly or severely out of shape, I advise you to find a workout buddy, a personal trainer or someone who is experienced to help guide you through your routine, and keep you accountable. You’ll have more fun and you’ll be more likely to stick with your program.
Start off slowly and gradually increase intensity as you grow stronger, avoiding activities that cause pain. Although it is important to use caution when you are starting out, you do need to exercise at a level that challenges your body.
And here’s an important point to mention… I find that many older individuals shy away from exercise out of fear of injury or discomfort. Please remember that exercise actually reduces your risk of injury and helps to ease everyday aches and pains.
As for adults adopting an exercise routine later in life, I like to use the example of my own mother. She didn’t start working out until she was 74 and today, at the age of 77, she has gained significant improvements in strength, flexibility, balance and mental clarity.
My mother is a perfect example of how one can benefit from exercise even when they start their program later in life. You can see videos of her progress and the exercise routine she uses today on our website – a true inspiration for even the most sedentary, older individual!
As with any new fitness program, if you have a history of heart disease or other health concerns, please get clearance from your health care professional before starting your Peak Fitness program.

How to Get Started With Your Peak Fitness Program

I hope by now you understand how important fitness is achieving and maintaining optimal health. And I truly hope you’re ready to get started if you haven’t already…
Where do you start?
You don’t need a gym membership to do Peak Fitness exercises. Nor do you need special equipment. You just need to discover what works best for you.
You have choices…
  • Dr. McGuff teaches how you can reap great benefits with high-intensity super-slow weight training, which you can read more about on our website.
  • You can run, but… unless you’re a seasoned athlete, I advise against using outdoor sprinting for your Peak Fitness workout, as I’ve known several people who have injured themselves their first time out.
  • You can use exercise equipment like an elliptical machine or exercise bike. I have found that individuals who use these pieces of equipment typically experience faster and more reliable results. Plus, bikes and ellipticals can make Peak Fitness workouts easy to do and more entertaining.
Phil Campbell has recently partnered with the premiere equipment company Vision Fitness that manufactures quality exercise bikes and ellipticals.
If you are looking to invest in a new exercise bike or elliptical for your exercise routine, I highly recommend you check these out…

How a Semi-Recumbent Bike May Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals Faster…

Exercise bikes have long been a staple ingredient of indoor exercise programs.
However, not everyone enjoys or feels comfortable with the upright position and rock-hard saddle seat typically found on traditional stationary bikes. As the first wave of baby boomers begin turning 60, the booming interest in fitness and comfort has inspired a whole new generation of exercise bikes.
Vision Fitness Home Model R2250
Vision Fitness Home Model R2250
The semi-recumbent bike combines the best features of an upright bike and a recumbent bike.
Easier to mount and straddle than an upright bike, a semi-recumbent bike offers step-through access and low comfortable handlebars.
A larger – and sometimes reclining – soft bucket seat allows you to sit “in” the seat rather than “on” the seat of an upright bike.
The angle of the seat and its lumbar support “takes your back out of exercise”.
A high quality semi-recumbent bike can offer you many potential benefits:
  • Help increase or maintain flexibility
  • Promote optimal circulation throughout your entire body
  • Help maintain strength and endurance in your leg muscles
  • Help burn calories and promote your ideal body weight
  • Help support cardiovascular fitness
  • Slim and tighten your legs, thighs, and butt
Unlike its traditional upright cousin, a semi-recumbent workout involves your “glutes” or the gluteal muscles of your butt for a sleeker, slimmer look – an added benefit that many exercisers appreciate!

Pedal to Peak Fitness with Award-Winning Semi-Recumbent Bikes

Vision Fitness, a U.S. company with a long, successful history, has won over 30 Best Buy awards for their high quality, precision-crafted fitness bikes, elliptical trainers, and treadmills.
Together with Phil Campbell’s endorsement, there’s now even less reason to look elsewhere for a value-packed, well-constructed piece of equipment to help you meet your fitness goals.
They are perhaps best known for their smooth, quiet, and comfortable exercise bikes.
 Vision Fitness Commercial Model R70
Vision Fitness Commercial Model R70
With generous home and commercial use warranties, you can enjoy years of a smooth, friction-free ride with their patented Quiet-Glide™ technology and overall maintenance-free performance.
In fact, these bikes are so quiet you can read a book or watch your favorite television show.
And until you’ve sat in the semi-recumbent bike’s body-contoured foam seat – their patented Comfort Arc™ seat (found on the home use model) – you have no idea how comfortable an exercise bike can be.
Indeed, a far cry from the rigid saddle seats found on upright bikes!
Most importantly, Vision Fitness bikes are built to withstand the long-term stress of regular and vigorous workouts, unlike many lighter weight bikes on the market
I have used mine regularly for the last two years and it is just as good as the day I got it. No annoying squeaks, groans or other signs of imperfect engineering.
Speaking of Peak Fitness… in just a minute you’ll find out how you can get Phil Campbell’s SPRINT 8 program right at your fingertips – at no extra charge!
In cooperation with Vision Fitness, we are offering two models of their exceptional fitness bikes – the R2250 for Home Use and the R70 Commercial Model.
You can find out more about Vision Fitness’ semi-recumbent bikes here.

Are You Ready to Step Up to a TOTAL Body Workout? 
An Elliptical Trainer May Be Your Perfect Choice

Quickly sprinting to the #1 spot in popularity, elliptical trainers are fast becoming exercisers’ top choice in fitness products, even overtaking the treadmill.
Why? Elliptical trainers, with their moving support bars…
  • Offer a lower impact workout than treadmills with less pounding and stress on your ankles, knees and hip joints
  • Pack a lot of fitness equipment into a comparatively small footprint
  • Provide an efficient total body and cardio workout, including your upper body and all major muscle groups
  • Provide an indoor weight-bearing exercise
  • Easy to use with a natural motion stride that simulates walking or jogging
They can offer you all the health benefits of a semi-recumbent bike and more. If a total body workout – including leg, arm, and core muscles – appeals to you, consider stepping up to a quality elliptical trainer.

Vision Fitness Suspension Elliptical Trainers… 
The Most Natural Elliptical Footpath on the Market?

Natural Foot Path
Vision Fitness did serious analysis with users at every incline angle and pedaling direction to make sure that the footplate on their elliptical trainer would properly adjust when the user changed their stride.
Through their research, “Perfect Stride” was developed.
Thanks to this patented PerfectStride™ technology, Vision Fitness Suspension Elliptical Trainers provide a smooth, ideal stride motion with an ergonomic elliptical foot path.
The shape of the ellipse, as you can see in the illustration, creates a smooth and easy transition from the top of the ellipse, where the muscles are relatively inactive, to the bottom of the ellipse, where the muscles are activated to propel the user through the cycle.
S7200HRT Suspension Elliptical
S7200HRT Suspension Elliptical
This improved motion emphasizing your gluteus, hamstring, and quad muscles gives you a more effective workout than traditional elliptical trainers.
Plus, PerfectStride™ ensures proper posture and proper alignment between the knee and hip joints.
And the unique suspension design provides an exceptionally smooth feel, utmost comfort, and unmatched accessibility.
It only makes sense… if you’re going to put in the time and effort to give your body a great workout; you certainly want to receive maximum benefits.
Together with Vision Fitness, we are offering two models of their precision-made Suspension Elliptical Trainers – the S7200HRT for Home Use and the S70 Commercial Model.
You can find out more about these two models here.

Now… Phil Campbell’s SPRINT 8 Program Can Be Right 
At Your Fingertips – and At NO Extra Cost!

Vision Fitness has teamed up with the renowned author of “Ready, Set, Go! Synergy Fitness,” Phil Campbell, to develop an anaerobic SPRINT 8 program found exclusively on Vision Fitness® cardio products.
Now tried and true results are at your fingertips… Just step on, press a button, and Phil’s program guides you through your 20-minute SPRINT 8 Workout. There’s no guessing when to start, when to speed up, or when to slow down for your recovery cycles. A high-intensity workout has never been easier!
This feature is only available on Vision Fitness’ quality equipment. And that one feature alone, in my opinion, makes these bikes and ellipticals unmatched in the marketplace. Plus, you’ll receive this invaluable built-in feature on all four pieces of equipment at NO extra cost!
Here are some of SPRINT 8 highlights that you’re sure to enjoy:
  • Each workout takes only 20 minutes
  • The perfect workout for all ages, sizes and fitness levels
  • Helps melt away body fat and tone muscle
  • Boosts energy
  • Improves speed and performance
Because these bikes and ellipticals meet my exacting standards and because I want to do everything possible to help you get started, we’re excited to bring these exceptionally quality pieces directly to you.
To find out more about our home and commercial Semi-recumbent exercise bikes, go here.
To find out more about our home and commercial Suspension Elliptical Trainers, go here.

Please… Stop Making Excuses. The Time is NOW to 
Get Your Body – and Your Life – in Shape!

Whichever way you choose to do your Peak Fitness workout, the most important message I can leave you with is… please start. Your life may depend on it.
I can confidently assure you that exercise will make a major difference in your energy levels, self-esteem and perhaps your entire outlook on life. It’s really that powerful.
If you’re over 40, it’s essential that you either start or step up your exercise program. This is the time of life when your physical strength, stamina, balance, and flexibility start to decline, and exercise can help turn that around.
Remember the 3 promises I made to you earlier? Showing you an exercise program that…

Love Our Enemies? You have got to be kidding!

Are we truly the peacemakers Christ has called us to be?  Are we taking to heart the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount? Do we love our enemies or would we prefer to bomb them into the stone-age?  Are we praying for those who persecute us or would we rather take retribution into our own hands? Do we turn the other cheek and return evil with good? Do we first check for the log in our own eye before pointing out the speck in other’s? You may answer affirmatively to all these commands, but I, on the other hand, find them contrary to my innermost being. What is Jesus’ way? And is it the way Christians have been taught to respond?

Daoud Nassar

I find there’s a huge disconnect in the way we live personally and the way we expect our government to act. If our neighbor threatens us, do we immediately decide to blow up their home?  Yet, collectively, I believe we have adopted a rather unchristian retributive mindset. Why doesn’t our individual call translate to the larger context?

Listen to one man’s story of how he is living the Gospel of Christ.  He talks about “the Jesus way,” which translates into loving his enemies as he shares the love of Jesus. He is truly a minister of reconciliation.  My prayer is that this short film will touch you as it did me.

On Facebook and throughout the internet, I hear vehement opposition from Christians regarding President Obama’s decision to pull our troops from Iraq. Why?  Quite simple. Iran.  Iran, we are told is a a direct threat to Israel. Is that true? Consider myth #6 from 6 Myths you probably believe about America’s Enemies.  I don’t condone this writer’s use of occasional crass comments, and I certainly don’t consider him an expert on world affairs, but he makes some compelling arguments that are worthy of consideration. Nonetheless, doesn’t all this saber rattling toward Iran sound familiar? Isn’t that the way it’s been done time after time, country after country?

I sincerely don’t want these geopolitical arguments to usurp the attention I think this video deserves. I merely brought up because of the the way we have been conditioned to view the world. Anything either America or Israel does is right, fair and noble. Both nations are deemed models of altruistic virtuosity. But is that really the case?  How much do you really know of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict other than the fact you’ve probably been told that Palestinians are a bunch of dirty, suicide-bombing antagonists?

Surely, this is a very complex issue that find plenty of fault on both sides, but what you may not know is how the Christians within Palestine are and have been treated.

Many may be unaware that there are, and have been, Christians living in Palestine for generations. Daoud Nassar (the subject of the above video) is an Arab Palestinian Christian who lives on a small farm outside of Bethlehem. Each summer he hosts a creative arts camp for refugee children and teaches them to strive for peace in this region. Matt Carter interviews Daoud about his land, the difficulties he and his family are facing, and how his faith has characterized his life in tumultuous times.

For more information on Daoud and his organization please visit: www.tentofnations.org
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Is Mormonism just another Christian denomination?

Watch this very short video for one man’s answer.

Now let’s consider what Mormonism believes about Christianity?

Lately, Mormonism has been the subject of considerable news and internet chatter primarily due to Mitt Romney’s run for the presidency. The question? Is Mitt Romney a member of a cult, or is Mormonism simply just another Christian denomination? In that light, instead of answering this question through the lens of various Christian leaders and apologists, I thought it would be instructive and enlightening to turn the tables a bit and consider what leading Mormon founders and prophets had to say about Christianity. At this point let me be clear. This blog article will not concern itself with the debate whether a Mormon is fit to serve in this nation’s highest office. That’s for another time.
 
Now, it is important to note that the below quotes do not come from merely nominal members of the Mormon church, but in fact issue from a founder and other “inspired” Mormon church prophets who speak directly and unequivocally for the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints.
 

As you are about to find, not only have some Mormon leaders made it clear that they do not consider Mormonism “Christian”, these leaders have insisted that no one can be saved apart from Joseph Smith. Also, some are on record as stating that even Islam is better than Christianity. All I can say is, brace yourself!

Mormon leaders who have condemned Christians:

“This is not just another Church. This is not just one of a family of Christian churches. This is the Church and kingdom of God, the only true Church upon the face of the earth…” ~ Prophet Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.164-165
 
“What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world” ~ Prophet Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.270

“…all the priests who adhere to the sectarian religions of the day with all their followers, without one exception, receive their portion with the devil and his angels.” ~ Prophet Joseph Smith , The Elders Journal, Joseph Smith Jr., editor, vol.1, no.4, p.60

 
“Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the ‘whore of Babylon’ whom the Lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness. Any person who shall be so corrupt as to receive a holy ordinance of the Gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless they repent” ~ Apostle Orson Pratt proclaimed, The Seer, p. 255
 
“The Christian world, so-called, are heathens as to the knowledge of the salvation of God” ~ Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:171
 
“After the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, there were only two churches upon the earth. They were known respectively as the Church of the Lamb of God and Babylon. The various organizations which are called churches throughout Christendom, though differing in their creeds and organizations, have one common origin. They all belong to Babylon” ~ George Q. Cannon said, Gospel Truth, p.324
 
“When the light came to me I saw that all the so-called Christian world was grovelling in darkness.” ~ Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 5:73
 
“With a regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called Christian world.” ~ Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:199

“Brother Taylor has just said that the religions of the day were hatched in hell. The eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and then kicked on to the earth.” ~ Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:176

“Christians—those poor, miserable priests brother Brigham was speaking about—some of them are the biggest whoremasters there are on the earth, and at the same time preaching righteousness to the children of men. The poor devils, they could not get up here and preach an oral discourse, to save themselves from hell; they are preaching their fathers’ sermons —preaching sermons that were written a hundred years before they were born. …You may get a Methodist priest to pour water on you, or sprinkle it on you, and baptize you face foremost, or lay you down the other way, and whatever mode you please, and you will be damned with your priest.” ~ Apostle Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 5:89
 
“The Gospel of modern Christendom shuts up the Lord, and stops all communication with Him. I want nothing to do with such a Gospel, I would rather prefer the Gospel of the dark ages, so called”- Prophet Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p.196
 

“Christianity…is a perfect pack of nonsense…the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p.167);

“Where shall we look for the true order or authority of God? It cannot be found in any nation of Christendom.” ~ Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 10:127
 
“What! Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute beast.” ~ Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 13:225
 
“What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing… Why so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest fools; they know neither God nor the things of God.”- John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 13:225
 
“Doctrines were corrupted, authority lost, and a false order of religion took the place of the gospel of Jesus Christ, just as it had been the case in former dispensations, and the people were left in spiritual darkness. For hundreds of years the world was wrapped in a veil of spiritual darkness, until there was not one fundamental truth belonging to the place of salvation …Joseph Smith declared that in the year 1820 the Lord revealed to him that all the ‘Christian’ churches were in error, teaching for commandments the doctrines of men.” ~ Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, p.282
 
“…the Book of Mormon remains secure, unchanged and unchangeable, …But with the Bible it was not and is not so….it was once in the sole and exclusive care and custody of an abominable organization (Christianity), founded by the devil himself, likened prophetically unto a great whore, whose great aim and purpose was to destroy the souls of men in the name of religion. In these hands it ceased to be the book it once was.”- Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, The Joseph Smith Translation, pp. 12, 13
 
“Must we, under the broad folds of the American Constitution, be compelled to bow down to the narrow contracted notions of Apostate Christianity? Must we shut up our consciences in a nut shell, and be compelled to submit to the bigoted notions, and whims, and customs of the dark ages of popery, transferred to us through the superstitious of our fathers? Must we be slaves to custom and render homage to the soul-destroying, sickening influences of modern Christianity? No!” ~ Official Church Publication “The Seer,” Vol.1, No.7, p.111
 

“And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this (Mormon) church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth…” ~ Supposedly Jesus Christ Himself, Doctrine and Covenants 1:30

Salvation not Through Jesus Christ, but Joseph Smith?

[There is] “no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith. If Joseph Smith was verily a prophet, and if he told the truth…no man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of God” ~ Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p.190

 
“No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith…every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are… [Joseph Smith] reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling, as God does in heaven. Many will exclaim—”Oh, that is very disagreeable! It is preposterous! We cannot bear the thought!” But it is true.” ~ Prophet Birgham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p.289-91
 
“He that confesseth not that Jesus has come in the flesh and sent Joseph Smith with the fullness of the Gospel to this generation, is not of God, but is anti-christ” ~ Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p.312
 
“If we get our salvation, we shall have to pass by him [Joseph Smith]; if we enter our glory, it will be through the authority he has received. We cannot get around him [Joseph Smith]” ~ Apostle George Q. Cannon, as quoted in 1988 Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide, p. 142
 
“I tell you, Joseph holds the keys, and none of us can get into the celestial kingdom without passing by him. We have not got rid of him, but he stands there as the sentinel, holding the keys of the kingdom of God; and there are many of them beside him. I tell you, if we get past those who have mingled with us, and know us best, and have a right to know us best, probably we can pass all other sentinels as far as it is necessary, or as far as we may desire. But I tell you, the pinch will be with those that have mingled with us, stood next to us, weighed our spirits, tried us, and proven us: there will be a pinch, in my view, to get past them. The others, perhaps, will say, If brother Joseph is satisfied with you, you may pass. If it is all right with him, it is all right with me. Then if Joseph shall say to a man, or if brother Brigham say to a man, I forgive you your sins, “Whosoever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them;” if you who have suffered and felt the weight of transgression—if you have generosity enough to forgive the sinner, I will forgive him: you cannot have more generosity than I have. I have given you power to forgive sins, and when the Lord gives a gift, he does not take it back again.” ~ Apostle Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p.154-155
 
“It is to be feared that in course of a century, some gifted man like Paul, some splendid orator, who will be able by his eloquence to attract crowds of the thousands who are ever ready to hear, and be carried away by, the sounding brass and tinkling cymbal of sparkling oratory, may command a hearing, may succeed in breathing a new life into this modern Mahometanism, and make the name of the martyred Joseph ring as loud, and stir the souls of men as much, as the mighty name of Christ itself. Sharon, Palmyra, Manchester, Kirtland, Far West, Adam-ondi-Ahman, Ramus. Nauvoo, and the Carthage Jail, may become holy and venerable names, places of classic interest, in another age; like Jerusalem, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Mount of Olives, and Mount Calvary to the Christian, and Mecca and Medina to the Turk.” ~ Prophet Brigham Young, History of the Church, Vol. 7, p.40-41

Islam Better than Chistianity? 

Orson Pratt

“The Greek and Roman Churches, which have been called Christian, and which take the name of Christians as a cloak, have worshipped innumerable idols. On this account, on the simple subject of the Deity and His worship, if nothing more, I should rather incline, of the two, after all my early traditions, education, and prejudices, to the side of Mahomet, for on this point he is on the side of truth, and the Christian world on the side of idolatry and heathenism.” ~ Apostle Parley P. Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p.38

 
“Though Mahometan institutions are corrupt enough, and need reforming by the Gospel, I am inclined to think, upon the whole, leaving out the corruptions of men in high places among them, that they have better morals and better institutions than many Christian nations; and in many localities there have been high standards of morals. So far as that one point is concerned, of worshipping the one true God under the name of Mahometanism, together with many moral precepts, and in war only acting on the defensive, I think they have exceeded in righteousness and truthfulness of religion, the idolatrous and corrupt church that has borne the name of Christianity.” ~ Apostle Parley P. Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p.41
 
“..instead of saying that Mahometanism prevailed against Christianity, and that Christianity was in danger of being done away by its prevalence, we would rather say, that where Mahometanism prevailed, it taught and established one truth at least, viz., the true and living God, and so far as this went, it did preserve people from worshipping idols. And had the crescent waved on the tower of London, or on the church of St. Paul, instead of the cross, and had the Mahometan religion been enforced instead of the Roman religion that was enforced for a series of generations, and had tradition riveted what the sword enforced, then that nation and the surrounding nations would have been worshippers of one true God instead of idols; they would have recognized it in theory at least, whether they would have worshipped Him in spirit and in truth or not. But now [Christians] do not recognize Him in theory, for they acknowledge as their god an imaginary being without body, parts, or passions.” ~ Apostle Parley P. Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p.39
 

“Now, if we take Mahometanism during those dark ages, and the corruptions that are so universally prevalent over the earth, and the idolatrous systems of religion, falsely called Christianity, and weigh them in a balance; with all my education in favor of Christian nations and Christian powers, and Christian institutions, so called, with all my prejudices of early youth, and habits of thought and reading, my rational faculties would compel me to admit that the Mahometan history and Mahometan doctrine was a standard raised against the most corrupt and abominable idolatry that over perverted our earth, found in the creeds and worship of Christians, falsely so named.” ~ Apostle Parley P. Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p.40

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The Jesus Tomb Unmasked

If the bones of Jesus Christ have been discovered, Christianity ceases to exist. Come on this journey to discover if the claims made by the Discovery Channel documentary are true.

This film does a devastating critique of Discovery Channel’s “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” (produced by Avatar director James Cameron). The same scholars who were interviewed in this documentary are interviewed here. Many of them express their dismay over how they were taken out of context to make it appear that they think the supposed lost tomb of Jesus was authentic.

What explanation can be given for the empty tomb of Jesus of Nazareth? The New Testament records the first-century event: The disciples of Jesus reported that he was risen from the dead, while Roman soldiers were paid to claim his followers secretly removed him from the tomb.

After 2,000 years, the latest challenge to the historical resurrection of Jesus comes in the form of a bone box discovered in Jerusalem. The recent documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus has popularized the hypothesis that Jesus’ followers stole his body from the tomb by suggesting that the bone box inscribed with “Jesus son of Joseph” may contain the remains of Jesus of Nazareth.

As a new twist to the ancient debate, this challenge demands a response. Join us as we take a hard look at the evidence and answer the questions concerning the reliability of the resurrection. Have the bones of Jesus of Nazareth really been found? Is the resurrection history or myth? Find out here in this episode of Expedition Bible.

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There’s still time to change your mind…

Ya gotta love it! 🙂

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Princess Brides Cast Reunites after 25 Years!

This has got to rank as one of my all-time favorites. Charming, witty and just plain good clean fun. How can anyone not like this movie? And it’s even that much more heartening knowing how much the cast enjoyed it and each other.

Most of the cast of The Princess Bride reunited on Good Morning America for the talk show’s “Totally Awesome ’80s Week.” “When the movie came out, it wasn’t a huge, huge hit. They couldn’t quite figure out how to market it,” Chris Sarandon, who played Prince Humperdinck, said. “They didn’t really know what they had.” When the film first opened in 1987, it grossed $206,243 in limited release during its opening weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.
 
 
Cary Elwes, who played Westley, “I think when I die, they’ll say on my gravestone, ‘As you wish.’ I think every woman wants to hear that.” Wallace Shawn, who portrayed Vizzini, recalled people approaching him and wanting him to say, “Inconceivable.” Director Rob Reiner’s first choice for Vizzini was Danny DeVito.
 

The “MLT” line that Miracle Max says in the film, one of the most quoted, was ad-libbed on-set, Billy Crystal confirmed.


 

When asked about the final kiss at the end of the movie, Robin Wright, who played Buttercup, joked to Elwes, “Who are you?” The cast members also reminisced about Andre the Giant, who passed away in 1993.
 

Fred Savage and Mandy Patinkin were not present. (from The Hollywood Reporter)

 
(A bit longer version but with a 30 second ad preceding)

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