Thoughts on the DEATH of ADAM – Dan Norcini SS

As bizarre as it seems, there are now a group of false teachers that have arisen within the ranks of the Preterist movement who astonishingly claim that the death that God threatened Adam and Eve with on the day that they would partake of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was not physical death, but was ONLY spiritual death.

They make this outlandish claim based on the fact that the punishment was worded as follows:

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” ( Gen 2:16-17)

Their argument runs thusly:

Adam was threatened with death ‘IN THE DAY’ that you eat from the forbidden tree. Both Adam and Eve disobeyed that command but both did not die immediately, or on the same day. Therefore, it could not have been physical death with which God threatened them.

Instead God was threatening them with spiritual death.

While this is easily refuted, unfortunately those propagating this foolishness have managed to confuse some of the saints of God with their sophistry. As a consequence, we need to spend some time dealing with this nonsense so as to provide some much needed comfort and correction for those who have been taken in by these modern peddlers of error.

Let’s begin with the obvious first and then work towards some deeper theologically understanding …

The threat of death is first seen in Genesis 2 where we quoted above.

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” ( Gen 2:16-17)

AFTER Adam and Eve had disobeyed the clear command of God, the punishment threat was repeated with much further elaboration than was initially included in that 2nd chapter.

I am going to quote at length from Genesis 3 picking up where the Most High systematically went to each of all three beings involved in this consequential sin.

First, He starts with the Devil:

“And the Lord God said to the serpent, BECAUSE ( my emphasis) you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; On your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life; and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the feet.” (Gen 3:14-15)

Let’s point out something that should be obvious. Note the emphasis I placed on the word,

“BECAUSE”. When you read this, think CAUSE and EFFECT.

Because you did this, said the Lord to the devil, therefore this will be the effect, or this will follow as a consequence.

Notice also that the cattle, which were made on the fifth day along with the rest of the beasts of the earth, were CURSED AS A RESULT OF THE SIN OF ADAM. We do not know exactly what form that curse took but it is undeniable that a curse fell upon all the animals

AS A RESULT of that sin.

Also, as a CAUSE, this same sin of Adam and Eve, brought forth the VERY FIRST PROPHECY of the Gospel. This is the protoevangelium, the gospel in its earliest form.
This SEED of the WOMAN clearly foretold a MAN who would come to undo the work of the devil (CRUSH his head) and in the process of so doing, would have his heel bruised by this same serpent. That of course is what happened at the Cross but that is not the focal point of this particular work. Rather it is to show the connection between the sin of Adam and the curse entering into the world.

Moving on to the woman, Eve; we see the same sort of CAUSE and EFFECT. While the word, ‘Because’ is not explicitly used, it is easy to see that God told Eve because of her sin, she would now suffer pain during childbirth and would be in a position of subjection to the man.

“To the woman He said, I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you shall bring forth children; Yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Gen 3:16)

Lastly, but certainly not least:

“Then to Adam He said, BECAUSE you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground BECAUSE of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, BECAUSE from it you were taken, for you are dust and to dust you shall return.” ( Gen 3:17-19)

It is interesting to note here that now we see the GROUND CURSED on account of Adam. The animals are listed in the curse when God rebukes the devil. Here we see the soil itself will now become cursed. I should also note that returning to the now-cursed ground (dying physically), shows that the curse descended upon Adam as well. This is in all in connection with the “because you have listened to the voice of your wife”.

I marvel at the fact that there are actually some out there among the professing saints of God who unashamedly will declare to us less enlightened ones, that physical death was a normal part of being human PRIOR to the fall of Adam. They claim that Adam was destined to die regardless of his sin merely because he was human and was not immortal and that physical death was not part of the curse, only spiritual death.

The problem that those teaching this shall encounter is that it clearly denies the teaching of the inspired Apostle Paul who tells in his letter to Romans that:

“…therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…” (Romans 5:12)

Paul, who acquired his understanding directly from the risen Christ, tells us in no uncertain terms that death was not in this world until sin entered, physical, spiritual or any other kind of death.

Death came in as a CONSEQUENCE of SIN. Think CAUSE and EFFECT –

CAUSE – the sin of Adam

EFFECT – both PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL DEATH (Separation from the gracious presence of God)

As a matter of biblical truth, God, after He created all things in six days, man being made on the sixth, rested and declared all that He had made VERY GOOD (Gen 2:31). Tell me, if Adam was destined to die physically anyway, because he was human, why would God declare His creation GOOD, if it included death in it?

We are told clearly by Paul, that death is an enemy:

“The last enemy that will be abolished is death” (1 Cor 15:26)

So what we have now is the bizarre notion that God declared death as VERY GOOD seeing that it was necessarily part of the human condition according to these peddlers of novelty. According to them, God declared that death, something that He Himself calls “an enemy”, was not just good but VERY GOOD. Try wrapping your mind around this perverse declaration!

Strange that something He would eventually conquer and abolish in Christ is declared to be a good part of His original creation is it not?

Paul also tells us in the next chapter of that same letter, that sin merits death.

“…for the wages of sin Is death..” (Romans 6:23)

Think through this carefully… what is a wage? A wage is something that is OWED to an individual. It is not a gift. If I make an agreement to provide my services to an employer for $20/hour, at the end of that pay period when he comes to settle accounts with me, he OWES me $20/hour. I do not thank him for the gift of my salary, do I? Certainly not!
I have entered into a sort of contract with him which says that I agree to exchange my particular set of skills/talents for money. My skills help his business thrive and prosper and in exchange for that, he returns me a portion of the profits in the form of money. My employer has contracted a debt that is owed to me. How do you think an employee would react after being informed that his employer has decided not to pay him for his week’s worth of work?

Thus the WAGES of SIN become a matter of JUSTICE. God Himself declared the JUST punishment for sin and that punishment is DEATH.

God did not OWE man this punishment until man sinned. Once he sinned, then the payment of this debt becomes a matter of justice. How do we know this? Because the apostle Paul told us it is a debt! That’s how!

This is important because of what further transpires in the Garden down towards the end of chapter 3 in the Genesis account:

“…then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch our his hand, and take also from the tee of life and eat, and live forever’ – therefore the Lord God sent him out from the Garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life.” ( Gen 3:22-24)

Before we look at this verse in more detail, consider the following:

If I were to forcibly withhold food and water from my child, I could be arrested and charged with either manslaughter or a certain degree of murder. While I may not not directly take their life, I withhold the conditions/requirements necessary to sustain that life and therefore would be found by any jury as guilty of a form of murder (death).

Since God expelled Adam and Eve out of the Garden, wherein was located the Tree of Life – the sustenance that they would require in order to continue in a state of life – He effectively sentenced them to physical death in so doing. That was the WAGE of SIN being paid directly by the man and the woman. That was the Divine judgment being meted out.

There is simply no other REASONABLE manner of understanding this.

Being banished from the Garden was a consequence of this sin, of this there can be no dispute. How then could anyone with an honest mind tell us that physical death is the natural condition of being human? It might be “natural” now since the fall, but it certainly was not “natural” prior to their banishment from the Garden and their exclusion from the Tree of Life.

What was natural for the man back then during his innocence, was to abide in a state of obedience to the commands of God and have continued access to the Tree of Life. Death did not exist and could not have existed prior to his sin or else we are left with the logical conclusion that DEATH ENTERED PRIOR TO SIN which is a complete and utter contradiction of the doctrine laid down by the apostle Paul.

Both Adam and Eve immediately fell into a different state of relation towards God after their sin – now they were sinners and separated from the life of God (Eph 4:18) – that is spiritual death in the sense that the apostle Paul uses the word in Eph 2 ( …and you were dead in your transgressions and sins… verse 1) However, God then furthermore DROVE OUT both of them from the Garden depriving them from access to the tree of life. At that point, they became mortal and were destined to die. Prior to that both were in a condition perhaps best described as, “conditional immortality”. As long as they abode in the favor of God, both had access to the tree of life and would continue to live.

To make clear – the idea that Adam was destined to die physically not because of sin but rather because he was human is repugnant to the teaching of Scripture, not to mention the two thousand years of church history where this novel idea is nowhere to be found.

A side note here – one thing I have observed about some of these teachers that have infected the Preterist movement is that they are strangely reminiscent of the ancient Athenians.

“Now all the Athenians and the strangers visited there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.” (Acts 17:21)

The more novel the teaching that some of these men concoct in their fevered minds, the more they seem to feed upon it themselves and the more their poor victims revere their “great depth of insight” into the things of God.

We might say of them what the risen Christ said to the faithful in the church at Thyatira about the false teachers in their midst:

“But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them…” (Rev 2:24)

Those misleading the church at Thyatira boasted that they alone had a secret, esoteric understanding of the deep things of God, unknown to most. The truth, according to their risen Lord, was these things were the products of men’s minds and were in actuality, the deep things of Satan!

If men will play loose and fast with the Scriptures allegorizing away the plain meanings of words as they have been commonly understood for two millennium, then it is not hard to understand why the Lord will judicially smite them with spiritual blindness for handling His word so deceitfully.

Elaborating further upon this punishment for Adam’s sin.

Let’s go back and examine that passage in the 5th chapter of Romans in more detail wherein the apostle Paul tells us where death came from ( and he is not speaking of merely spiritual death as the context clearly indicates)

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, AND DEATH THROUGH SIN, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…” (Romans 5:12)

Some may of course arrogantly take it upon themselves to redefine the meaning of the word “death” in this passage and strip it of any physical meaning but that does violence to the entirety of Paul’s following arguments where he is arguing about the reason even infants die.

“…Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam…” (Romans 5:14).

The only ones “who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam” are infants. Paul is explaining the doctrine of original sin here, a bedrock foundation of the Church; namely that Adam was acting not only as an individual but as a Federal Head. Whatever he did would be imputed to his seed. His disobedience was thus imputed /accounted /credited /charged to all men meaning all human beings are born guilty of the sin of Adam, before they ever do anything wrong themselves.

Why else would infants die seeing that the wages of sin is death. What sin could any infant commit that would bring down this punishment upon their head? Answer – there is no actual sin of their own but rather the guilt of Adam’s sin.

“…so then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men… for as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners…” ( Romans 5:18-19)

By the way, this is the reason that our Lord Jesus had to be fathered by the power of Holy Spirit and could not have been born of a man. Had he been born of a man, the sin of Adam would have been charged to him as well since the guilt of the offense of Adam is transmitted by the man as well as the defilement of our nature( the old man, the flesh).

The force of Paul’s argument is gutted if these peddlers of falsehood get away with their redefining of the clear meaning of words.

Question to Paul:

Why is death in the world and where did it come from?

Answer – from the sin of one man, Adam. He sinned and death entered on account of his sin.

Question to Paul:

“Okay, if death is the result of sin, why is it that infants die? What sins could they possibly be guilty of. They have no knowledge of good or evil?”

Answer – they are guilty of the sin of Adam.

Question to Paul: “But that does not seem fair?”

Answer – if it is not “fair” as you say, then the method of God employed in the salvation of sinners is not fair either. God, in His wisdom, chose to have one man act on the behalf of many (Federal Headship). What better representative could the human race have had? Adam was fresh from the hand of God, had his own innate righteousness, knew neither good or evil and had no fallen nature from which temptation arises.

If you still think this is unfair, consider, would have said Paul, that if Adam could not have represented a group of people, then neither could have Christ Jesus represented a group of people. If you did not have Him representing you, then you would have had no hope whatsoever, because you were without strength/helpless (verse 6) and were his active enemies (verses 10).

The focus in on this doctrine a bit more closely – the death Paul is speaking of in these verses is PHYSICAL DEATH, because that only and not spiritual death, is something that any human being can observe with his or her own eyes. Paul is explaining something that is OBVIOUS to all men, namely, that infants die, and he is providing an explanation for why this tragic fact exists.

To wrest these passages by twisting the meaning of death here to be only spiritual death, is to make Paul’s arguments seem like those of an imbecile.

Tell me, which human beings have the power to look at “those who did not sin in the likeness of the offense of Adam” and know as something evident/obvious to all casual observers of human existence that they are spiritually dead? Answer – no one! The only reason any of us even know this truth about spiritual death is because we have been informed of it by the gospel. It is not something that can be seen by the human eye. In this sense we can say, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to us but our Father in heaven has”, through His Word! This is the reason we run to Christ to close with Him so that we may have life and that more abundantly.

Passing to the deception that the only death threatened to Adam in the Garden was a spiritual death, consider the following:

Imagine God attempting to explain the sense of guilt and fear and the sense of shame and defilement that arise on account of sin prior to Adam and Eve sinning. After all, those are the consequences of “spiritual death”. How would that be communicated?

One can readily understand the concept of the cessation of physical life being communicated to them by the Lord as the threatened punishment for disobedience. Why even a dog can grasp that!

Any casual observer of dogs or any other mammal or bird or sentient life knows that all have an innate instinct for self-preservation. That had to be created in man, as well as in all life, seeing that without it mammals, etc, would be plunging themselves to ruin by exposing themselves to harm and pain, etc. That is something easily understood of all sentient life. However, when we deal with guilt and shame, those are unknown to other animals or birds or whatever. A dog knows when it has done wrong because it has been conditioned by its master that certain actions bring pain or displeasure of the owner but can anyone say that a dog that has done wrong has a sense of shame and defilement? I think not. It does understand cause and effect – this action brings this punishment or infliction of pain and thus a fear arises in the animal, but that is the not same thing as the guilt that the conscience produces.

I am waxing philosophical here but I have a reason….

What I am hitting at is that the punishment due to sin, which we all agree does include spiritual death, was, in addition to physical death, an awakened conscience and the necessary connection between that and guilt/fear and the sense of shame and defilement that arose on account of sin. Those must be felt to be understood and were not something that was originally in man fresh from the hand of his Creator any more than they are in the lesser mammals. That instinct to preserve their own life however must have been there otherwise the threat of God would seem like foolishness to Adam when God first warned he and Eve about the forbidden fruit.

They would therefore understand the death threat to be a cessation of their own physical life but would have no inkling whatsoever what “spiritual death”, would have meant.
That is the reason I prefer to define what is meant by the use of the term “spiritual death”. Some of these men peddling this falsehood toss the term about but one has to wonder if they have the faintest notion of the nature of spiritual death.

“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2)

Yes, it is separation from God but it is more than that. What does it mean? It consists of those things I mentioned above plus some.

Specifically, the separation from the GRACIOUS presence of God. Those in hell are technically not separated from God. They are tormented in the presence of the Lamb and of God.

“…and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb…” (Rev 14:10)

That presence that the wicked experience is the PRESENCE OF HIS WRATH AND JUSTICE being meted out to them as punishment for breaking His laws.
Also, in that same Presence, is the fully awakened conscience with its never-ending recriminations against the man and the continuous accusations it will bring against him forever.

This is “the worm that dies not.”

Then there is the sense of nakedness, of being open to the eyes of Him from which no one can hide and the sense of inward defilement and corruption. Isaiah experienced this sense of defilement when he recounts the magnificent vision he experienced in the 6th chapter of the book that bears his name.

His reaction after encountering an All-seeing, perfectly Pure and Holy Being?

“Woe is me for I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of an unclean people!” (Isaiah 6:5)

Again, how would God have communicated this sense of inner defilement to Adam in his innocence and original righteousness, whose nature was not in the least bit defiled prior to his sin, if the only death threatened to Adam was spiritual death as these deceivers assert?
In one sense all men experience this during conversion/regeneration although to a lesser degree. The awakened sinner senses his or her’s own defilement and utter nakedness before the eyes of a holy God and realizes they have need of being washed, cleansed, purified. He or she also has their eyes opened to see their precarious position, exposed to the wrath of God on account of their sins. This godly repentance is salutary for the child of God because it makes him or her reach out for the precious remedy provided in the Gospel.

But, the wicked, who die in an unconverted state, will experience these same things in a much fuller and terrible sense EXCEPT THERE WILL BE NO REMEDY.

The words of Newton are good here: “’Twas grace that taught my heart to FEAR, and grace my fears relieved”.

What is fear but the reaction of the conscience to the sense of guilt brought about in the sinner through the preaching of the gospel which brings the man face to face with God’s righteousness and stern, inflexible justice?

Consider the radical change in the behavior of Adam towards God AFTER he sinned. He went and hid himself from the presence of God. When confronted by God,

“…I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” (Gen 3:10)

FEAR is now felt and experienced for the first time by the man. Prior to that, Adam walked in sweet fellowship with his Creator. Now, suddenly he is afraid of that same presence with the sense of his own nakedness filling him with shame.

Spiritual death then puts a man in a state in which when one realized, consists of the sense of guilt with its consequent fear, and defilement with its consequent sense of shame that all men are liable to as a result of the sin of Adam. It is also having the mind or understanding darkened and made hostile to God, of being made blinded and unable to see the light of the glory of Christ, of being deaf and unable to hear His voice speaking through nature, and in the Word without the aid of the Holy Spirit, of being utterly bankrupted before God as to having any strength, any ability, any hope of saving one’s self from this predicament were it not for grace.

How would God have explained this to Adam and Eve who came forth bearing in themselves a perfect righteousness only to have squandered it all away? Personally, I do not think God even attempted to explain this aspect of death which in my mind reinforces the idea that they both understood the threatened death as being physical in nature.
We can also see from Scripture that Adam and Eve knew EXACTLY what guilt, fear, shame and defilement were AFTER THEY SINNED. That was PART OF THE PUNISHMENT for sin!

Another thing – It seems that these modern Gnostics spreading their idea of the death promised to Adam in the Garden as being only spiritual death and not physical death, are hung up on the phrase, “in that day”. They argue that because Adam did not die physically on the

very same day in which he sinned, that therefore God could not have been threatening his new creature with physical death but ONLY WITH spiritual death.

We have already dismissed this notion for the foolishness that it is, but lest it be said that we did not address the “in the day” part of the text, allow us a bit of liberty to deal with that.

Consider the fact that after both Adam and Eve sinned, we read the following:

“And the Lord made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” (Gen 3: 21)

Further to this point, let us consider the second son of Adam, Abel by name. We know what happened to him – he was murdered by his wicked brother Cain. Yet we read something about Abel in Hebrews 11.

“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.” (Heb 11:4)

Paul makes it clear in this passage that Abel offered his sacrifice in faith, whereas we know from Scripture that the “faith” in which Cain offered his offering of fruits of the ground, was not the same as the faith of his brother. The question is, how did Abel know to offer a blood sacrifice? From where did he gain this knowledge?

The answer comes from Paul indirectly:

“Now faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word concerning Christ.” (Romans 10: 17).

In other words, one MUST HEAR the gospel, the word concerning Christ, in order to obtain saving faith. And where did Abel hear this word concerning Christ and from whom did he hear it? It is obvious that it was from his parents, Adam and Eve. Remember, both of them were present at the first proclamation of the gospel in the form of the protoevangelium.

Where did Adam and Even get this knowledge? From God of course as there was no one else that they could have gotten it from since those two were the parents of the entire human race! Thus, Adam and Eve preached the gospel of the Seed of the woman to their son Abel.

That gospel taught to Abel by Adam contained the principle that would come down all the way through the law of Moses and into the days of the New covenant, namely,

“without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin” (Hebrews 9: 22)

Since God is the Lawgiver, only He has the right to define the penalty to breaches of His laws or commandments. That penalty is very clearly stated in Scripture in both Testaments and it is death. The justice of God requires the death of the transgressor as satisfaction for His violated laws.

Blood must be shed because the life of the sinner is forfeit to the exacting Justice of God. Why the blood? The answer comes from Leviticus:

“…for the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.” (Lev 17:11)

The blood represented the life of the one slain. When it was shed, one life was substituted for another.

Abel understood this and thus offered an animal as a substitute to take his place and bear the penalty for his sins. Only in that manner could his person be accepted by God, since He, being perfectly Just, cannot pardon a sinner and accept his person unless His justice is also satisfied.

But that raises the question, “where did the idea of a substitutionary sacrifice originate?”. Why, in the death of the animals whose skins that God Himself provided to cover the nakedness of both Adam and Eve!

“And the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” (Gen 3:21)

There in the Garden, at the very beginning of the fallen condition of the man and his wife, the Lord God introduced the merciful principle of a SUBSTITUTE which would take the place of the one who had sinned and would die in his place. This substitute would die to satisfy the righteous requirement of the Creator’s broken law and in so doing, allow God to show mercy to the one whose place it had taken.

What marvelous grace is on display in the earliest story contained in the Bible!
This is exactly what the apostle Paul tells us of the sacrifice of the One True Substitute, that His death would allow God to be both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:26)

Mercy and truth would meet together, and Righteousness and peace would kiss each other! (Psalm 85:10)

What transpired in that Garden, all of it contained within the single verse (Gen 3:21), is that the animals whose skins provided a covering for Adam and Eve were SLAIN TO TAKE THE PLACE OF THEM BOTH! The death sentence which was to fall, “in that day”, was executed on those animals, “in that day”. It was their blood, and not the man and woman’s, which was spilt in order to satisfy the justice of God. That sacrifice allowed Adam and Eve to go on living even though the damage had been done, their natures corrupted and their access to the tree of life cut off.

Incidentally, we would be remiss if we did not state the obvious –if the death sentence threatened by God to Adam was not one of a physical death as these deceivers incredulously assert, then why was the blood of those animals shed? Those animals died physically – they did not die spiritually. How could they? Did their consciences suddenly become defiled? Did these animals undergo some sort of defilement to their nature? What kind of foolish thinking is that? No, those animals died physically to teach Adam that the death sentence for his sin was one that was not only spiritual, but physical.

Remember what we just read in the book of Leviticus. The life of the flesh is in the blood. The shed blood of those animals represented their shed lives, in place of the lives of both Adam and Eve. A life for a life!

To sum up this section – God did indeed slay Adam and Eve “in the day” that they sinned in the Garden, in the animals which were dealt the death blow and sacrificed in their stead.
Additionally, there seems to be some sort of notion circulating that God must inflict the punishment for sin the very same day any man or woman sins on the very day they commit sin. I am not sure what that originated to be honest but suffice it to say, if we think back to the subject matter in Romans 5 where the Apostle Paul tells us that death sometimes passes upon infants, what we learn is that regardless of any sins that men may or may not commit, ALL SINNED IN ADAM. God would be within the right of His divine justice to slay us all from birth!

As a matter of fact, Job says as much.

“Surely God will not act wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice. Who gave Him authority over the earth? And who has laid on Him the whole world? If He should determine to do so, if He should gather to Himself His spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together and man would return to dust.” ( Job 34:12-15)

This is that which the writer of Ecclesiastes states:

“Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are fully given to do evil.” ( Eccl 8:11)

Keep in mind that while God is a God of Justice, He is also longsuffering and merciful. It is that longsuffering of God which delays the punishment that guilty sinners deserve. Yet make no mistake about it; Vengeance is His and HE WILL REPAY. Are the wages of sin still death? Does a single sin call for the death of the sinner? Yes, it does. Yet we see men defying God daily and mocking Him to His face and yet they live. Is God asleep? Does He not see their wickedness? Indeed He does!

Men foolishly believe that the Most High is indifferent to sin but He is not. Every man will face his own day of reckoning and learn, sadly to his own false sense of security and peace, that the wages of sin are indeed death.

Paul warns of men STORING UP wrath for themselves in Romans 2. His Lord warns the stubborn and apostate Jews of His day to “go ahead and fill up the measure of the guilt of the sins of their fathers”. There is indeed an end to the forbearance of a Holy and Just God.
Thus poor sinner, fly to Christ now, while there is still time, while you may still obtain mercy and forgiveness before your time of the longsuffering of God ends. Remember, LONG-suffering is not INFINITE-suffering but long. It does reach an end.

These “New apostles”, who are nothing but false teachers, have set themselves up against the apostles of the Bible upon whose doctrine the church’s foundation was laid, and inform us that death is a consequence of “being human”, not a consequence of sin. I think I will stick with Paul and leave these deceivers to their own devices.

What is so disconcerting is the tragic fact that those who would actually assent to this as being remotely true, completely miss the point of the purpose of death as it involves the child of God.

As Joseph said to his brethren when he revealed himself to them, “Go and tell my father of my splendor in Egypt”. (Gen 45:13)

So does our Lord long to show us His glory!

“Father I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with me, where I am, in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me…”(John 17:24)

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places, if it were not so I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” ( John 14: 2-3)

What a beautiful expression of the love of our Lord Jesus for His precious bride! It is that glory which we are privileged to behold even now but will behold in its fulness when our eyes close in death. May this hope, a living hope, work within us to produce a desire for holiness and warm our hearts with fervent love for our glorious Savior.

But think for a moment, How pray tell is the child of God ever to BE WITH JESUS WHERE HE IS, how is he to BEHOLD HIS GLORY, if he never dies physically? Answer that one? Of course he or she must die but now, because of the work of our Mighty Savior, DEATH HAS LOST ITS STING. Instead of being the great object of fear or all men, the great debt owed for the punishment of sin, it has been transformed for the child of God into the very means whereby we take possession of our heavenly inheritance!

That inheritance, “is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away and is reserved in heaven” says the apostle Peter. (1Peter 1:4)

Alas, we dwell on the earth, separated from our inheritance, our promised land, by the veil of death. But once death comes, we pass from this life, our Egypt, and enter our heavenly Canaan, where our glorious Savior there waits to show us His glory. There and then we will marvel at that splendor which far surpasses anything our mere mortal minds can grasp in this condition.

This is what the apostle means when he states hurls that bold challenge to the once king of terrors:

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55).

That is followed by this incredible truth: “The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law.” ( 1Cor 15:56)

A side note to really bring home the force of this wonderful truth – I am a beekeeper of over 40 years’ experience. In all that time, I have spent many hours teaching both adults and children about these marvelous and fascinating creatures. One of the things that I do when teaching them is to bring with me some male honeybees or drones. I take these out and ask them if any are willing to hold the drones in their hands.

Their initial reaction is always the same – there are no takers. Why is that? Because they are afraid of getting stung! However, and this is the part that deals directly with the above text of Scripture, once I inform them of the fact that male bees, drones, HAVE NO STINGERS and thus CANNOT HARM THEM, they all change their attitude immediately. Now, they clamor to hold the insect and listen to its buzzing sound and feel it tickle their hands!

See what a profound difference the knowledge of a simple fact can make once it is understood? The once feared insect now becomes the object of delight and fascination.
This is what Paul is telling us. DEATH HAS NO STING! It is now, on account of the glorious work and the might triumph of Christ over sin, over death, over Satan, over the grace, over the world, OVER ALL, HARMLESS to the child of God. We need not fear it any longer because its sting has been removed. To use a theological term, it is NO LONGER PENAL in any form. By that we mean to say is that is it not harmful to the child of God in any manner. Instead it has been transformed into the gateway to eternal glory! Hallelujah!
The foolish statement that comes from the mouth of our adversaries in this matter: “ Why do Christians still die physically if the death that Christ died was physical and He died that death in their place?” betrays a complete ignorance of what has happened to the very nature of death in regards to the child of God as a result of the work of Christ on that bloody cross. It is no longer PENAL in any way. Period! How could that which ushers the child of God into the presence of their Lord be considered as penal?

How do you think the early Christians could go to their graves singing, in spite of the horrors about to be inflicted upon them? They looked through the eye of faith and saw the entrance being opened for them into their promised inheritance wherein their glorious Lord was waiting to receive them.

This is the same truth that our Lord Jesus taught His disciples during the days of His flesh.
Dealing with the events surrounding the resurrection of Lazarus from the grave. Jesus is speaking with Martha, one of the two sisters of Lazarus.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die…’” (John 11:25-26)

There are what appears to be contradictions in this statement but once it is understood in the light of what we have been discussing, any apparent contradictions vanish into the ether.

The first death that Jesus speaks of is without question physical death. His statement here is what Christians of all generations have drawn strength from during times of distress and intense persecution as well as during peaceful passings.

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21) says the apostle Paul.

Why is this? Because as we have stated, death is now the means by which the child of God enters that heavenly inheritance and leaves the sorrows, sadness and trials of this world behind. They “live” forever with Christ even thou they die physically.

Let’s flip the order of this verse around, respectfully I might add, to help us better understand it.

“He that lives and believes in Me shall never die. He who believes in Me shall live even if he dies”.

Here Jesus tells us that those who believe in Him shall never die. Yet He clearly says that those who believe in Him will live even if they die. How can they die and yet never die???

The carnal minded individual scoffs at this and ridicules it. The child of God, who has been taught of God, understands that there are TWO KINDS of DEATH here mentioned.

What Jesus is saying is that while those who believe in Him will die physically, they will not die separated from the gracious presence of God and spend eternity in hell. The first death mentioned in the actual verse is physical death. The second death mentioned is eternal death in hell.

“Over these the second death has no power.” (Rev 20:6)

“They shall not be hurt by the second death”. (Rev 2:11)

To die physically is to live forever for those who believe in Jesus! That is the same thing as death having its sting removed. It no longer needs to be feared. The “king of terrors” as the Scriptures refer to death, becomes a pipsqueak with much bark but no bite! What unspeakable comfort is contained in these verses for the man or woman of faith!

To sum up – those who would teach that the death that Adam was threatened with in the Garden was only spiritual death understand nothing of which they speak. The consequence of this wretched new doctrine of theirs leads to the inescapable conclusion that the physical death of Christ meant nothing! It was only a “sign”. The precious blood of the Spotless Lamb of God, was shed uselessly other than as some sort of symbol – that is exactly what these disciples of the devil are saying!

Strange then that the apostle Peter would say of it:

“…knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with PRECIOUS BLOOD, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the BLOOD OF CHRIST.” (1Peter1: 18-19)

I read nothing of this PRECIOUS BLOOD being any sort of “sign” as is being claimed by these uninspired dreamers. Instead I see it referred to by the inspired apostle as the REDEMPTION PRICE paid to discharge the debt owed by the people of God.

Also, look at how the apostle Paul treat the precious blood of Christ:

“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, , having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your consciences from dead works to serve the living God?” ( Hebrews 8:11-14).

“Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus…” (Heb 10:19)

Notice carefully how Paul uses both phrases, “the blood of Christ” in the 8th chapter but here in chapter 10, he employs the expression, “the blood of Jesus”. Christ is the name of the Messiah while Jesus is the name of the MAN, Jesus of Nazareth.

Lest some might come away with the misguided idea that the blood of Christ which atones for sin is purely spiritual in nature, Paul uses the name of the man, Jesus, to denote that this blood which atones for sin is also the physical blood of a human being.

The blood of a man, a kinsman redeemer, was shed in death, all of it to the point that there was nothing left of it in his broken body upon that cross but water (John 19:34), to pay the debt of His poor relations, who had a debt that they could not pay to the justice of God. It was no mere sign!

“What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh, precious is the flow,
That makes me white as snow
No other fount I know
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

These deceivers have misled far too many of the Lord’s precious sheep with their novel theories and twisting of the clear meanings of words. If you are one that has been caught in the snare laid by them, make haste and do not delay to reject their teachings and return to the orthodox teaching concerning the death of Adam that has governed the church for two millennia.

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it; and you shall find rest for your souls…” (Jer 6:16)

Don’t become like the people in the rest of this verse:

“But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’” (Jer 6:16)

_______________________

As an addendum, you might also consider Ed Stephen’s “Death of Adam Physical, Spiritual, or Both

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The Throne of David

A Short Discourse – Dan Norcini SS

In the second book of Samuel, the seventh chapter, a promise of God to David is recorded. The key part of that promise is as follows:

“When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever…and your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever” (2 Sam 7:12-13,16)

Two times in this marvelous promise to David is a pledge from God contained to “establish the throne of David forever.”

It is this throne I wish to dwell on in this paper.

To begin, let us start with what the throne was back in the day in which God made this promise to David.

As you recall, Israel had angered the Most High when they clamored after an earthly king like the rest of the nations around them. Prior to that epochal period, God Himself was the King of Israel and ruled in the midst of the people from within the Holy of Holies, the tent that was located at the exact center of the camp surrounded by all the tribes.

Within that Holy of Holies was the ark of the covenant, with its two cherubim overlooking the lid upon that holy vessel, also known as the mercy seat. There, the shekinah glory shone forth, although it was hidden from the sight of all but Moses, and Aaron, once a year on the Day of Atonement. It was from this place that the Lord ruled over the nation of Israel and it was here that was considered the place of His royal throne.

“Now when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him.” (Numbers 7:89)

“Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel, Thou who dost lead Joseph like a flock; Thou who art enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth!” ( Psalm 80:1)

“The Lord reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake.” (Psalm 99:1)

Nothing of this great privilege mattered to this carnal seed of Abraham. The high honor of having the glory of the Lord in their midst with their King none other than the Creator of heaven and earth, was utterly lost on this wretched people who hankered after someone that they could see with their own eyes and would go forth to lead them to victory over all their earthly enemies.

As the Lord said to Samuel after the peoples’ murmuring for a human king:

“…Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.” (1 Sam 8:7)

These same people then chose their king based on human standards of power and strength; they chose Saul who stood head and shoulders above his fellow countrymen. The scriptures make it quite clear how abysmal was that choice and the grief that his reign brought upon the nation.

After Saul’s disobedience in the matter of the Amalekites, God informs the prophet Samuel that He has rejected Saul, the peoples’ choice, and instead will choose a man to be king over them, a man after His own heart. Enter David.

Skipping over the trials and difficulties that young David faced at the hands of the envy-stricken Saul, who hunted him throughout the land of Israel, we watch him eventually become king in the land after the death of Saul and Jonathan.

Shortly after being anointed king by the elders of Israel, David went to Jerusalem to capture a fortress there on Mt. Zion, which was in the hands of the Jebusites. That fortress became his stronghold and is the place where most scholars believe he built his royal palace. (2 Sam 5:7, 11-12)

It is from there that David exercised his rule over the nation of Israel. Thus Zion became synonymous as the place from where the King of Israel will rule and where his throne was located. We will see this later in some of the Psalms that we will reference.

We should pause a bit here and note something of importance.

The throne of David was also known as the throne of the Lord. This is an important detail to take note of.

“… then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king instead of his father David, and he prospered and all Israel obeyed him.” (1 Chron 29:23)

The reason for this nomenclature is that the king was always considered to be a sort of vice-regent for God; an earthly representative of the true King of the nation, namely Jehovah. While a man occupied that earthly throne, it was understood that he was to be guided in his all decisions and policies by the law of God.

This was commanded of the king by the law of Moses.

“When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it; and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me.’ You shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman… Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or to the left; in order that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.” (Deut 17:14, 15, 18-20)

Thus, his rule was considered to be the rule of God Himself. At least that was the intention! Sadly, fallen man will always disappoint and will always revert to his innate sinful tendencies apart from the grace of God.

This now brings us to the heart of this paper and back to the text with which we opened this paper.

“When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever…and your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever” (2 Sam 7:12-13,16)

This was the promise that kept many in Israel comforted during their times of distress. This “Son of David” as he became known, would be none other than their Messiah, the One destined to lead them to greatness once again.

Time and time again, we see the people of Israel sin grievously against the Lord and incur His wrath in the form of the curses of the covenant (Deut 28) but we also see the Lord making mention of this promise as the reason why He did not utterly blot them out.

“Jehoram…walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab did (for Ahab’s daughter was his wife), and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. Yet the Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David because of the covenant which He had made with David, and since He had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.” (2 Chron 21:5-7)

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and there speak this word and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, who sits on David’s throne, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates. Thus says the Lord, ‘Do justice and righteousness… For if you will indeed perform these this thing, then kings will enter the gates of this house, sitting in David’s place on his throne, riding in chariots and on horses, even the king himself, and his servants and his people. But if you will not obey these words, I swear by Myself, declares the Lord, that this house will become a desolation.” (Jer 22: 1-5)

Notice carefully the last verse in this quotation. A condition was attached to the continuation of this covenant with David. Eventually, the EARTHLY THRONE of David fell vacant on account of the disobedience of the descendants of David who sat on that throne. After the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar and the subsequent exile of the nation into captivity for 70 years, the line of kings descending from David was no more.

Some might want to say that Nehemiah or even Zerubbabel were continuations of the promise made to David but that is not the case. Nehemiah was merely the provincial governor of Judah under the Persian monarchs, not their king. Also, we have no conclusive link to David anywhere in his genealogy.

Zerubbabel on the other hand is a descendant of David (1 Chron 3:19) but we have no evidence that he was regarded as a king over Israel after the captivity. True, there are passages in both Haggai (2) and Zechariah (4) which specifically make mention of Zerubbabel but there is nothing contained in those passages which we can point to as stating categorically that he inherited the throne of his father David or was actually viewed as anything other than the governor of that province of the then-Persian empire.

After the death of the Greek, Alexander the Great, who conquered the Persian empire, the land of Israel was subjected to either the rule of the Ptolemies of Egypt or the Seleucids. It was not until the revolt led by the Maccabees that the yoke of the latter was finally cast off from the land. That led to the inception of the Hasmonean dynasty but note, there is no connection here between those descendants of Mattathias and the Davidic monarchy. If anything, the office of the high priest became more important than that of any so-called king.

When the Romans under Pompey conquered the land of Palestine, the Hasmonean dynasty came to an end as Herod the Great was installed as the vassal king. Herod was not even Jewish but was instead from Idumaea, formerly known as Edom.

By the time John the Baptist comes onto the scene, there is no king of David’s lineage ruling over the nation of Israel. Thus, it would seem the promise of God to David has been invalidated, something which is seemingly not possible. The Psalmist laments this in Psalm 89.

The Psalm opens with a marvelous expression of the covenant that God made with David long ago.

“I will sing of the lovingkindness of the Lord forever; to all generations I will make known Thy faithfulness with my mouth. For I have said, ‘Lovingkindness will be built up forever, in the heavens Thou wilt establish Thy faithfulness.’ I have made a covenant with My chosen; I have sworn to David My servant, I will establish your seed forever, and build up your throne to all generations. Selah.” (Psalm 89:1-4)

He goes on further in this Psalm to essentially repeat this great promise:

“I have found David, My servant; with My holy oil I have anointed him, with whom My hand will be established; My arm also will strengthen him. The enemy will not deceive him, nor the sons of wickedness afflict him. But I shall crush his adversaries before him, and strike those who hate him. And my faithfulness and My lovingkindness will be with him, and in My name his horn will be exalted. I shall also set his hand on the sea, and his right hand on the rivers. He will cry to Me, ‘Thou art my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’ I also shall make him My first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth. My lovingkindness I will keep for him forever, and My covenant shall be confirmed to him. So I will establish his descendants (seed) forever, and his throne as the days of heaven.” (Psalm 89:20-29)

Then the Psalmist interjects a provision of this covenant:

“If his sons forsake My law, and do not walk in My judgments, if they violate My statutes, and do not keep My commandments, then I will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. But I will not break off My lovingkindness from him, nor deal falsely in My faithfulness.” (Psalm 89:30-33)

Once again however the everlasting nature of this covenant is recalled:

“My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. His descendants (seed) shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established forever like the moon, and the witness in the sky is faithful.” (Psalm 89:34-37).

Here we see God actually swearing by His own holiness of the everlasting nature of this covenant promise to David. There can be no higher confirmation!

Yet the Psalmist is in despair, in confusion, in the depth of uncertainty, as he surveys the current low condition of the nation of Israel and particularly the apparent lack of a descendant of David anywhere near a throne.

“But Thou hast cast off and rejected, Thou hast been full of wrath against Thine anointed. Thou hast spurned the covenant of Thy servant; Thou has profaned his crown in the dust. Thou hast broken down all his walls; Thou hast brought his strongholds to ruin. All who pass along the way plunder him; he has become a reproach to his neighbors. Thou hast exalted the right hand of his adversaries; Thou hast made all his enemies rejoice. Thou dost also turn back the edge of his sword, and hast not made him stand in battle. Thou hast made his splendor to cease, and CAST HIS THRONE TO THE GROUND. Thou hast shortened the days of his youth; Thou hast covered him with shame.” (Psalm 89:38-35)
You can further feel the agony of this man of God where he pleads with the Holy One of Israel: “Where are Thy former lovingkindnesses, O Lord, which Thou didst swear to David in Thy faithfulness?” (Psalm 89:49)

It is evident that this Psalm must have been written sometime after the conquest of the land of Judah by Babylon. Perhaps it was even during the long days of Persian rule? Of that we are not sure, but one thing is sure, the Psalmist is lamenting the fact that it appears that the everlasting nature of the covenant promise to David that his throne would endure forever has failed, in spite of the oath of the Most High. The godly psalmist is struggling to understand what is taking place. “What has happened to your faithfulness O Lord?” seems to be the heartfelt cry of this man of God.

This is where we get the first glimpse of the MANNER in which the LORD would actually make good on His promise to David.

Look carefully at the first part of this Psalm once more: “I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever; to all generations I will make known Thy faithfulness with my mouth. For I have said, ‘Lovingkindness will be built up FOREVER; IN THE HEAVENS Thou wilt establish Thy faithfulness.” (Psalm 89:1-2)

Do not miss this as it is essential to understanding the nature of that wondrous promise made to David. Notice what the verse DOES NOT say:

“In the earth Thou wilt establish Thy faithfulness”
Or
“In the land of Israel Thou wilt establish Thy faithfulness.”

This is no small matter that we are speaking of here. It goes to the very heart of the nature of the fulfillment of this promise to David. Remember, God CANNOT LIE; If He has promised something that will endure forever, then it MUST endure forever or else He breaks His promise or fails to deliver on His promise. Thus His very faithfulness is called into question. Either are unthinkable to the One who knows and loves God.

Now, it is a matter of fact that the earthly throne of David has ceased. It had ceased after the conquest of Judah as we already detailed above. At this point, it is impossible to even determine any sort of possible replacement of David’s seed since there no longer exist any genealogical records of the nation of Israel. All of those were destroyed in the Roman destruction of the nation, its temple, etc in the events which culminated in 70AD.

If the promise of the throne to endure forever is to indeed be forever, it is evident that THIS THRONE does not exist on the earth in any form. The earthly throne of David and his seed is long gone. Where then does this ETERNAL THRONE exist? The psalmist answers that question – IN THE HEAVENS. That’s where!

Now recall what we have previously established. The throne of David is also referred to as the throne of the Lord. The reason we have already stated – the one who sits on that throne, is the vice-regent of Almighty God Himself.

God cannot break His promise or He becomes unfaithful. This matchless faithfulness of God to fulfill every single one of His promises is confirmed by having an eternal throne IN THE HEAVENS upon which sits the seed of David. Now who might that be?

The answer is provided by none other than the angel Gabriel in his declaration to Mary that she would be the mother of the promised Messiah.

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.” (Luke 1: 31-33).

What is so thrilling about this announcement and the message it contained about the One who would receive the throne of David, was that it was the fulfillment of this covenant promise of God to David that Isaiah looked ahead and saw:

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9: 6-7)

It is evident that this Seed of David, to whom the promise was intended in its fulness was none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the seed of David, or the Son of David, as the Jews had come to know this promised One by the time that Jesus came onto the scene.

Just like all the promises of God which contain the idea of an everlasting covenant were fulfilled in Christ and His kingdom (the Passover, the Land, etc.), so too was that promise made to David. That is the reason we see Matthew emphasizing the lineage of David in his gospel right from the very beginning in chapter one. This Jesus is of the seed of David, says Matthew to his primarily Jewish audience.

Peter also mentions this specifically when he states that the PROOF that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Messiah, the Son of David, and that He had taken His seat on the throne of David, was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

“Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet, and knew that God had SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT ONE OF HIS DESCENDANTS UPON HIS THRONE, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, (seated on the throne – my comments) and having received from the Father THE PROMISE OF THE SPIRIT, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.” (Acts 2:29-33).

What could be more clear than this? The inspired apostle, speaking under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, categorically declares that the promise of God to David that one of his descendants would sit upon his throne was specifically referring to CHRIST JESUS!

It was the resurrection of Christ which then lead to his glorification some weeks later, which prepared Him to sit at the highest place of honor in the universe, namely the RIGHT HAND of God. That is where the throne of David is located. In the heavens! It was from that throne that He poured forth the Holy Spirit!

Now what Peter is saying to these Jews is basically this: “You all know that the Son of David, is also the Messiah. He and He alone receives the fulness of the Spirit without measure and has the authority and right to bestow that Spirit upon whomever He wishes. After all, that is what the very word, ‘Messiah’ means, the Anointed One. Do you see this phenomenon? Do you hear this message spoken in your own native tongue? This is the PROOF, the EVIDENCE, that the Messiah, the Anointed One, has taken His seat upon the throne of His father David and is NOW ruling and reigning as this mighty King foretold of in the Scriptures!”

This is the very reason that the apostle quotes from the prophet Joel in his sermon of that day:

“…but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: ‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS”, says the Lord, ‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT UPON ALL MANKIND…’” (Acts 2:16-17).

Look at what Peter goes on to say about this promised Seed of David who would pour forth of the Spirit: “For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says, ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY Lord, ‘SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND UNTIL I MAKE THEY ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR THY FEET’”.

Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:34-36)

The futurists (premillennial dispensationalists) tell us that during the millennium Christ will sit on a physical throne of David in the land of Israel, but that flies in the face of the assertion of the apostle Peter that Christ Jesus is seated on that very throne now ( the day of Pentecost some 2000 years ago!).

The throne is in the heavens, not on the earth and will NEVER BE ON THE EARTH because the Psalmist tells us plainly that “IN THE HEAVENS” Thou will establish Thy faithfulness”.

There are several passages which speak of this great King, this Son of David, taking His rightful place at the right and of God.

Consider: PSALM 24 –

The King of Glory entering Zion

The psalmist asks a question:

“Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? “(Psalm 24:3)

Comes the answer:

“He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, and has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation” (Psalm 24:4-5)

Then the scene shifts to the One who is the consummate individual who possesses all of these traits in abundance:

“Lift up your heads. O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of Glory may come in!” (Psalm 24:7).

One sees a procession heading up into the heavenly Zion which has a set of bars, or doors or gates blocking entrance into its habitation. A voice rings out from the procession demanding entrance of the King of Glory into its gates. From within, a voice answers demanding to know the identity of this being.

“Who is this King of Glory?” (Psalm 24:8)

The answer comes back from the procession:

“The LORD strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle” (Psalm 24:8)

Once more the procession demand entrance into the gates:

“Lift up your heads, O gates, and lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of Glory may come in!” ( Psalm 24:9)

Again:

“Who is this King of Glory?” comes the challenge of those within the gates (verse 10)

And the final answer: “The Lord of hosts, He is the King of Glory!” (Psalm 24:10)

What more can anyone say to this scene than a thousand Hallelujahs! The mighty, conquering King, the Lord of Hosts Himself, the Son of David, the Seed of the Woman, has finished the work which His Father assigned Him to do. He has effected salvation for His elect, secured for them a perfect righteousness, defeated all their enemies, sin, the world, the grave, and the devil, and now is ready to sit down upon the throne of His father David and rule.

What else could Jesus have meant when He told His disciples to go forth and make disciples of all nations saying:

“ALL authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth…” (Matt 28:18)

No better description of the fulfillment of Psalm 24 could have been given to us than that of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians:

“…when He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through the cross…” (Col 2:15)

What a perfect scene! The triumphant King parading His defeated foes before the universe as a spectacle! Who can refuse to open those gates now?

Sadly, we have an entire system of eschatology known as premillennial dispensationalism, which in effect, has this King still waiting to take the throne of David so that he might begin to exercise His reign! What a gross disservice this is to the glory of Christ! Instead of seeing Jesus in the fashion that Paul in his letter to the Hebrews does:

“But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely Jesus, because of the suffering of death, CROWNED WITH GLORY AND HONOR…” (Heb 2:9).

The dispensationalist (futurist) sees him waiting to be seated on His royal throne instead of ruling in splendor and glory NOW. As a matter of Biblical fact, He has been ruling on that throne of the Lord for nearly 2000 years already!

Look at what the Psalmist goes on to say about this Seed of David:

“He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury: ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.’ (Psalm 2:4-6)

Remember the point we made earlier in this paper – Zion became synonymous with the place from which the king would reign and where His royal throne would be located.
And what is the result of that coronation and establishment of this King?

“’Ask of Me, and I will surely give the Gentiles as Thine inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, Thou shalt shatter them like earthenware’. Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence, and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 2:8-12)

Notice how similar is this Psalm’s warning to that of the Lord Jesus in His days of the flesh:

“…And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like the dust.” (Matt 21:44)

Either one voluntarily casts themselves upon the mercy of this Great King, in which case his heart is broken in repentance as he mourns over his sinfulness and lack of righteousness, or his pride condemns him as an enemy to this Mighty Ruler, who will crush him to powder without mercy, shattering him like a clay pot.

Another Psalm detailing the reign of this Son of David is one of the more frequently quoted psalms in the New Testament.

“The LORD said to My Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet’. The Lord will stretch forth Thy strong scepter from Zion, saying ‘Rule in the midst of Thine enemies.’ (Psalm 110: 1-2)

We have already seen this particular psalm quoted by the apostle Peter who referred to its fulfillment in the resurrection and subsequent glorification of the Seed of David, the Lord Christ in his sermon made on the day of Pentecost in Acts, chapter 2. The King of Glory has come into the gates, taken His seat in Zion and begun to exercise his reign. He is crowned with GLORY and HONOR and wields a strong scepter with which he subdues His enemies.

Either those enemies become His friends through repentance and faith as they yield to His servants and ministers of the gospel or they remain as His enemies, in which case He will grind them all to powder.

This is a good time perhaps to show exactly how this stone fell upon the nation of disbelieving Jews.

“He said therefore, ‘A certain nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back. BUT HIS CITIZENS HATED HIM, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us… but these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over him, bring them here and slay them in my presence.” (Luke 19:12-14, 27)

Here we see the refusal of a group of people to submit to the reign of a nobleman. To use the words of the psalmist; they refuse to bow down and do him homage. The result is inevitable, the wrath of the lord is kindled and they soon perish in the way.

These enemies of the gospel and of the early church, the Jews of that day, were crushed by the iron scepter of Christ, this King ruling out of the heavenly Zion upon the throne of David.

“For you brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.” (1Thes2:14-16)

“Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers.” (Matt 23:32)

“…because these are days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled. Woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people.” (Luke 21:22-23)

“Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 2:12)

One last thing in touching on this topic lest we be remiss in so doing is to refute a destructive error that has been spread by some within the Preterist camp. The detestable falsehood which some in that otherwise theologically solid system of eschatology are proclaiming, is that the Lord Jesus divested himself of His human body when He was glorified. This vile teaching strikes at the very heart of the Christian hope of having our human bodies conformed to the glorified body of the Lord Christ.

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Phil 3:20-21).

It should be clearly noted, that the apostle specifically declares that one of the kingly functions of the Lord Christ – the power given to Him to subject all things to Himself – specifically includes the transformation of the bodies of the elect into conformity with the body of His glory, or His glorious body. How this can supposedly be done by a King without a glorified human body, one who supposedly “divested himself” of his human body, is as great a mystery as they come!

Essentially what these men teaching this nonsense are doing is destroying the humanity of the God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Keep in mind that while the Son of God took to Himself our nature, except in His case it was in the likeness of sinful flesh seeing that He was not born of a human father but was instead born of God, He remained fully Divine even as He was fully human.

Take away his body, and He is no longer truly human for what is man but body, soul and spirit?

Man is not an angelic being. He possesses a physical body unlike the angels who are ministering spirits and do not possess physical bodies. Now as to what the exact nature of our bodies will be when they are glorified or conformed to the likeness of the Lord Jesus’ glorious body, one cannot truly say.

What we do know however is that our bodies were meant to be redeemed ( Romans 8:23), that when He appears, we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is (1John 3:2), and that we will put off mortality and be clothed with immortality (1Cor 15:51-54); and that without a body of some sort, that which makes us fully human is not possible.

With this in mind, let us visit a remarkable prophecy contained in the writings of the prophet Zechariah.

“Then say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold a MAN, who name is BRANCH, for He will branch out from where He is, and He will build the temple of the Lord. Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the Lord, and He who will bear the honor and SIT AND RULE ON HIS THRONE. Thus He will be a PRIEST ON HIS THRONE, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.” (Zech 6:12-13).

Notice, a PRIEST KING, who sits on His throne. This is our Great High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek, the priest/king of Genesis who Paul references in Hebrews where he is thinking of Psalm 110: 1-4 where this same KING is mentioned in the first few verses of that Psalm followed by a priest after the order of Melchizedek.

“The LORD says to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for Thy feet’. The Lord will stretch forth Thy strong scepter from Zion, saying, ‘Rule in the midst of Thy enemies.’ Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power, in holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Thy youth are to Thee as the dew. The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, ‘Thou art a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek…” (Psalm 110: 1-4)

To rebut the foolishness of premillennial dispensationalism – if Jesus is NOT CURRENTLY SEATED on the throne of David, we Christians have NO HIGH PRIEST, because this priest sits on a throne and that throne is clearly revealed in the pages of the Old Testament to be none other than the throne of David.

No THRONE, No KING; No KING, No PRIEST.

This King must have a Throne or He is no Priest. This Priest must be a King or He is no Priest. If this Priest/King is not seated on the Throne of David, right now, not at some point in the future in some sort of fanciful millennium, then we HAVE NO INTERCESSOR between us and God. Just think about the ramifications of such a thing!

This by itself, should be enough to obliterate every last vestige of the futurist scheme if they but understood the folly of what they are saying when they erroneously postpone that seating on the throne of David far off into the future and only for a period of some 1000 literal years.

However, this can also be used to expose the idea of some sort of bodiless spirit of Jesus which is currently being espoused by some false teachers in the Preterist camp. Both promises are made to a MAN.

“(Behold the MAN whose name is Branch)”.

It is a MAN who sits on the Throne of David and it is a MAN who is the Great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. To be a man, this mighty being must be fully and recognizably human and that He cannot be without some form of a human body. That body is a GLORIFIED HUMAN BODY, or we have no mediator and no king, at least not one that God’s promises are made good in. If Jesus divested His human body, as some of these false teachers are asserting, then the promise of God fails, something which is impossible.

A MAN MUST NEEDS SIT ON THE THRONE OF DAVID IN ORDER TO VALIDATE THE PROMISE of GOD.

I will leave you with this passage:

“The Lord has established His throne in the heavens.” ( Psalm 103:19)

May the Lord bless these things to the reader’s benefit and edification and may he or she be spurred on to further delve into these matters and in so doing, come away marveling at the faithfulness of the Lord and say with the apostle Paul:

“For ‘WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN’. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:34-36)

“He will give him the throne of his father David” (Isaiah 9:7)

Dan Norcini SS
February 19, 2019

Posted in 2nd Coming, Dispensationalism, Eschatology, Norcini | Leave a comment

Someone please explain this…

So let me get this straight. Daniel was told to seal up his vision because fulfillment would not come for “many days in the future” (approx. 600 years) and John was told not seal up his vision because the prophecies contained therein “must shortly take place” (approx. 2,000 years?). If we think a world full of skeptics and critics will buy this logic, then I think we are unwittingly delusional.

I realize this creates a conundrum for many Christians who buy what today’s prophecy gurus are selling, but this is something that must be wrestled with lest we continue to wallow in the sea of intellectual dishonesty. There is a viable answer to this apparent dilemma but it will require nothing short of a paradigm shift to grasp it. There is good reason why all of the prophecy experts have been wrong and continue to be wrong.

To be clear, the Bible isn’t errant.

Posted in Eschatology | Leave a comment

Expectations of Doom and Gloom

Since becoming a Christian in 1972, Jesus has been coming soon. In 1973, during my short daily commutes to USF, I used to gaze into the sky wondering if today would be THE DAY of His glorious appearing. And the fervor over Jesus’ impending return hasn’t diminished one iota in the past 45 years. Every school shooting, Middle East skirmish, natural disaster, financial crisis and/or anything considered negative, is always perceived as a sign that we’re in the final days of the ‘last days.’ Just wander through the eschatology section of your local Christian bookstore. All of the popular apocalyptic novels and movies are similarly themed. The world is in an out-of-control death spiral on the road to Armageddon. And, according to the gurus, we can only expect things to get much worse. The worse things get, many argue, the closer it is to Jesus’ return. So, in a somewhat perverse sense, there seems to be a morbid preoccupation with gloom. When bad things happen the constant refrain is, “It’s just a sign of the times.” And the carrot is, Jesus’ return is right around the corner. They assume that what God the Holy Spirit, (the second person of the Trinity), has been unable to accomplish in the past 2,000 years, Jesus (the third person of the Trinity) will do in the twinking of an eye.

Following are just a few titles headlining the prophecy sections of our bookstores. Take a moment to peruse them. Makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over. 🙂 Is there any wonder Christians have underlying expectations of coming food shortages, financial chaos, escalating wars, civil unrest, increasing natural disasters… all ultimately leading to the END?

  • Is there the slightest possibility that there is a fatal flaw in the underlying premise of all these books?
  • Wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect that at least some of the predictions found in these books (other than the obvious short-term events that any political or financial analyst could have predicted) would have been fulfilled by now? Some of these authors have produced as many as 15 to 20 similarly style works and none of the main events have come to pass.
  • Is it possible that this entire genre of Christian literature is so far off base that none of these books will have produced a shred of fulfillment even 20-30 years from now? 

Consider just a few forerunners to those shown above and below: The Late Great Planet Earth (1971), Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth (1972), The Terminal Generation (1976), New World Coming (1984), Final Dawn Over Jerusalem (1997), Planet Earth 2000 -Will Mankind Survive? (1994), all 16 books in the Left Behind Series (1995-2007), The Last Jihad (2002), The Apocalypse Code (2007), The Late Great United States (2009), The Twelfth Iman (2010),  Edge of the Apocalypse (2010), Earth’s Final Moments (2011), Jerusalem Countdown (2011), Israel at War (2012), The Four Blood Moons (2013), Damascus Countdown (2013), The Shemitah (2014)… 

We have spent millions if not billions on these exhilarating reads. But, have you ever asked what we have to show for it… other than ever more gloomy expectations of impending doom?

Given the overwhelmingly negative content of all these apocalyptic books, ask yourself (as I did) the following:

  1. Does the Bible speak about the end of the world [kosmos] or the end of the age [aion]? If so, is there a difference?
  2. Are we still living in the same ‘last days’ which Peter and the author of Hebrews said they were living in almost 2,000 years ago? (Acts 2:16-21; Hebrews 1:1-2)?
  3. If so, then why do you think God chose to use the term ‘last days’ (which in every context means the tail end of something) to describe a time period 400 years longer than the entire Mosaic economy (which was approx 1,600 years)?
  4. Does the Bible speak of a singular person called antichrist? (read HERE and HERE)
  5. Does the New Testament predict that the Temple will be rebuilt? (Watch HERE)
  6. Does the New Testament predict a regathering of Jews in the last days?
  7. Has God preordained that from this point forward things are destined to go from bad to worse? If so, which passages of Scripture support that premise?
  8. Are these ever-present gloomy expectations having a chilling effect on our mandate to make disciples of all nations?
  9. Is there still a chance of worldwide revival and the healing of the nations?
  10. Is the Gospel destined to fail? In other words, is evil so pervasive that the work of the Holy Spirit as He inhabits Christians, incapable of revolutionizing the world for Christ?

If you have a few minutes, I’d like to share some thoughts that reverberated throughout my noggin after returning from a wonderful tour of the UK. I will attempt to deal with most of these questions, emphasizing question #7. It seems that we 21st-century Americans have far too little historical context with which to put our current difficulties in the proper perspective. And this lack makes us prone to make sweeping, eschatologically-induced generalizations like, “We live in terrible times.” Really? Compared to what?

On the lighter side…

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The Apocalypse in Space and Time

This is an outstanding survey outlining the way in which the book of Revelation [apocalypse: the unveiling] has been viewed throughout church history. Bruce Gore, your tour guide, has been a teacher/theologian/professor /historian for most of his adult life and is currently on the Whitworth College staff as he has been for 30 plus years. Be forewarned, Bruce will challenge you! 

Concerning this series, Bruce writes: “THE APOCALYPSE IN SPACE AND TIME: The New Testament book of Revelation was likely written by the Apostle John early in the era of the persecution of Christians under Nero (in spite of the opinion of many that the book originated later under the reign of Domitian). Across the vast Roman empire, Christian people were being targeted for oppression, imprisonment, exile, and death. The church needed a strong message of encouragement, and the book of Revelation provided that message. Chapter 17 of Revelation provides helpful references that can guide our exploration of the precise timing of the book. This introductory lecture examines the historical setting suggested by that chapter.”

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1) The Historical Setting of the Book of Revelation
The book of Revelation was originally addressed to seven churches in Asia Minor, today’s western Turkey. Each of the churches represented a condition of Christian fellowship in crisis, as each faced the prospect of imperial oppression from Rome. At the same time, the churches give insight into the conditions of the church throughout her history, and for this reason, it is useful to consider the counsel offered by Jesus, through the Apostle John, to each of them.

2) Letters to the Seven Churches
The book of Revelation was originally addressed to seven churches in Asia Minor, today’s western Turkey. Each of the churches represented a condition of Christian fellowship in crisis, as each faced the prospect of imperial oppression from Rome. At the same time, the churches give insight into the conditions of the church throughout her history, and for this reason, it is useful to consider the counsel offered by Jesus, through the Apostle John, to each of them.

3) The Apocalypse in the 3rd and 4th Centuries
By the beginning of the third century, the chiliastic views that dominated earlier Christian thought had begun to wane, being replaced by a vision that expected a much longer course of Christian history and growth. The idea was brought to its most sweeping expression by the great Christian thinker, St. Augustine, whose view of Revelation came to dominate the middle ages well past the time of Thomas Aquinas. In the spirit of Augustine’s understanding, vast numbers of Christian missionaries carried the gospel to the barbarian tribes surrounding Europe, and in time the effects of Christian influence began to be felt.

4) The Historicist Approach to Revelation
The dominant view of the Book of Revelation during the Reformation period was the ‘historicist,’ largely because it provided a biblical framework by which to understand and interpret the evident corruption of the Roman Catholic church, and the bloodshed experienced by those aligned with the Protestant cause. The historicist view continued to heavily influence the post-Reformation period, especially among the Puritans, and became an important interpretive approach in the early 19th century among some millennarians, especially the Adventists and their most famous champion, Ellen G. White.

5) Jonathan Edwards and Puritan Postmillennialism
The Puritans added a new aspect to the historicist view of Revelation with their post-millennial eschatology. The most thorough and formidable expression of this view came from the pen of the great Puritan divine, Jonathan Edwards, whose treatment of the subject would leave a lasting impression for generations to come.

6) The Age of Reason, 2nd Great Awakening, and Millerism
The end of the Age of Reason and beginning of the Age of Anti-Reason in the early 19th century saw the introduction of a variety of new theories as to the meaning of the book of Revelation. The most important voice in this movement was that of William Miller, who used a historicist approach mixed with the emotionalism of the Second Great Awakening to produce a precise calculation as to the time of Christ’s return. While Miller eventually died disappointed, his contribution spawned a number of related movements that shared his conception but reworked his timetable. This lecture surveys this extraordinary moment in Christian history.

7) The Age of Reason, 2nd Great Awakening, and Millerism
The early nineteenth century witnessed the rise of a variety of religious perspectives, and included among them was a recovered vision of a pre-millennial eschatology from the book of Revelation. The movements varied in many ways, but the shared common denominator involved an expectation of the soon return of Christ and the establishment of his rule for a thousand years. Many of these millennial movements died out in subsequent decades, but a few persisted and remain important to the present day. One of those was the movement founded by Ellen G. White and her husband, James White, and known to us as the Seventh Day Adventists.

8) John Nelson Darby and Dispensationalism
During the Second Great Awakening of the early 19th Century, a parallel movement in England produced the innovative eschatological scheme known as Dispensationalism, the creation of John Nelson Darby. This movement was widely popularized in America by James Brooks and his most famous protege, C.I. Scofield.

9) Dispensationalism in America
The system of eschatology worked out by John N. Darby came to America largely through the influence and support of James H. Brookes, pastor of Walnut Street Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Missouri. A prolific author and effective speaker, Brookes gave the dispensational message a powerful voice that began to reach large numbers of evangelical Christians in America in the late 1800s. The influence was greatly expanded, however, by the young protege of Brookes, C.I. Scofield, who embraced the Darby/Brookes views and incorporated them into a publication that would become one of the most important in shaping the views of evangelical Christians in America, the Scofield Reference Bible. It would be impossible to overstate the sweeping impact of the Scofield notes in subsequent American Christian history, and to this day the Scofield Bible, along with its many editions, revisions, and republications, has remained a staple of conservative Christianity in America.

10) The Preterist Approach to Revelation
Throughout the history of the church, there have always been those who maintained that the colorful and powerful images of Revelation refer largely to events that took place in the first century, and are related generally to the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, and the definitive end of the Old Covenant era. While this view has not often been the majority outlook, it has persisted, and continues to offer a compelling perspective for the thoughtful reader of the Apocalypse. This lecture offers a summary of the major aspects of the view usually called ‘preterist.’

Posted in 2nd Coming, Audience Relevance, Eschatology, Hermeneutics, Revelation; dispensationalism | Leave a comment

Alexa, say it ain’t so!

Recently, I began to notice quite a few videos and articles regarding the exploits of Amazon’s Alexa. And quite frankly, I assumed most of it was much ado about nothing. Either baseless paranoia (similar to all the hoopla over the evils of Harry Potter and Star Wars supposedly being conduits into black magic, Hinduism and the like) and/or Onion-type parodies. 

As it turned out, a Steven Crowder video, which had all the earmarkings of a parody, was not, in fact, an Alexa satire piece. Crowder is a former comedian turned political junkie known for parodies. To my amazement, they played it completely straight.

Crowder and his buddy asked Alexa a number of leading questions and none of Alexa’s answers were edited as it had been conjectured by all too many conspiracy theorists. Matter of fact, Crowder received so much flack accusing him of faking Alexa’s answers through voice editing, that he posted the completely unedited session HERE

So far, here’s what I’ve found:

  • Amazon records everything after the user says “Alexa”. And so every last question you’ve asked it is in a database. Matter of fact, you can access it on your mobile app. I haven’t even used it all that much (since in its infancy it wasn’t very intuitive) but to my surprise, I scrolled through literally hundreds of questions entries.  Each entry affords you the ability to click on the audio portion and hear your own voice ask the question. It’s kind of freaky. You can choose to delete individual questions from the history or you can delete everything in one click, but be assured it’s permanently stored in the cloud. As you can see below, if you click the rightmost arrow that will bring up your voice stating the question and Alexa’s response in text form.

Check out the answer as to how many genders there are.

  • I don’t know at this point if Amazon is recording everything it hears through Alexa even prior to it hearing “Alexa” (I’d need proof from an insider), but the capability clearly exists to record every last word. It’s obviously listening prior to hearing its name, and it records the question after hearing its name, so what’s to stop it from recording everything it hears all the time? And if you are unaware, “A judge dismissed a murder charge against an Arkansas man in a case that drew national attention when prosecutors sought evidence they believed was stored in an Amazon Echo speaker.” Story HERE. The moral? If you plan to commit murder in the near future, turn off the Echo microphone. LoL  No, seriously, this device (and of course Siri, Google’s version and many others to follow) may impose a serious invasion of privacy.  
  • Amazon is apparently morphing Alexa’s answers based on consumer pressure. In the video Steven Crowder asked Alexa, “Who is the Lord Jesus Christ?” and the response was “A fictional character.” And this was clearly not edited. Then he went on (the videos are linked above) and asked who Mohammed was and it went on and on talking about the wise prophet blah, blah, blah. Sure made Mohammed sound like a swell guy worth following and wouldn’t even acknowledge the certain existence of Jesus.

So I asked the same questions as Crowder and received completely different responses. Instead of editorializing, it gave me the stock answer from Wikipedia. So within a couple of months answers have been modified! So somebody at Amazon is listening. Yikes! 

  • Given the answers to a broad array of questions, leaves little doubt that Alexa is being programmed by a bunch of leftist social justice warriors. Paranoia? Perhaps, but I truly don’t think so. If you lean left you’ll probably applaud their efforts. I, however, don’t appreciate their attempts to program unwitting guinea pigs. 

It’s common knowledge that the majority of the silicon valley mega-corps (actually I can’t think of any that aren’t) are run by *leftists (not liberals) with clear political/societal agendas. In a free society, they have every right to those opinions as long as they are playing by the rules. But there have been questionable practices. We’ve seen it at Google, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon. They’ve been caught altering search results to fit their political preferences and they have censured those who don’t agree with them.

Twitter employees bragged to an undercover reporter about being paid “to view everything you post” (beware: extremely lewd content in the linked video) and in the “latest undercover Project Veritas video investigation, eight current and former Twitter employees are on camera explaining steps the social media giant is taking to censor political content that they don’t like.” 

And now Prager is suing YouTube (Google) for being censured simply for espousing conservative views antithetical to Google’s agenda.  

I don’t want to get overly paranoid but I do think we need to keep a close watch on these tech giants. With *leftist founders (many of whom are atheists) who have clear political agendas and little to no moral code; the MEANS is always justified by the END, which is to create a utopian socialistic society.

These guys live in an echo chamber and have surrounded themselves with like-minded people. And these supposedly openminded geeks simply don’t tolerate deviance from their agenda as we found with the fired Google engineer who was critical of Google’s diversity policy. And now we learn that an ex-Google engineer who invented the self-driving 0automobile has established a nonprofit religious corporation, Ways of the Future, with one main goal i.e. to create a deity with artificial intelligence. 

So, my advice is to proceed with extreme caution. Remember that Alexa is listening and recording. How much we don’t really know. And it’s being programmed to answer questions in a way that may be antithetical to your worldview. That, in and of itself, is not a problem for those of us who have a solid biblical framework, but for the millions of impressionable young minds, it may do as it is intended: indoctrinate them with social paradigm alien to . If you ask Alexa how many genders there are and the answer is anything but two, things are very far askew.

Most of us think we have nothing to hide (and we don’t in a legal sense) but when political dissent becomes “inconvenient” for these wildly rich megalomaniacs and their agenda, we may find that our views are not so openly welcomed. How all of this information gathering may be used in upcoming elections remains to be seen.

One more thing. In an article, The Amazon Echo Can Be Hacked to Listen to Everything You Say, Chris Smith wrote the following: “Smart home speakers equipped with microphones programmed to listen for everything you say may be turned into devices that would spy on everything you say. Gadgets like Amazon Echo and Google Home are programmed to record your commands, but they’re also programmed to ignore everything you say unless you use a hot word to activate the assistants. But as it turns out, someone with physical access to an Amazon Echo device could hack it to send everything it hears to a remote server.” So, even if Amazon, Google or the manufacturer your brand of smart speaker, isn’t recording anything but your question, others can if they can get access to your speaker. So be very wary of purchasing them second hand.

Let me hear from you if you have any interesting anecdotes to share or greater knowledge of this technology arena.

_______________________

Since writing this article, it has come to my attention that Google Home (rival of Amazon’s Echo) has disabled all religious references. Why? You guessed it! Because the Google Home “…wasn’t programmed to give any answers about Jesus Christ’s identity but could provide information about Buddha, Muhammad, and Satan.” Hmm. I think there’s a bit of a pattern here.

*I don’t equate liberals with leftists

Posted in Current Events, Technology | Leave a comment

Yes, it is about time!

In today’s Christian Care Ministries blog post titled “It’s about time“, Dan Norris made the following statement.

“Growing up, I never thought Jesus could actually come back in my lifetime, but the way the world is today I am not so sure.”

No offense to this well-intentioned blogger, but I find it difficult to believe that anyone growing up in evangelical America since the early 1970s could make such a statement. I became a Christian at the tail end of my senior year of high school (1972), and I can’t think of a Christian band in that era that didn’t write a steady diet of ‘Jesus is coming soon’ type tunes. From “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” (1969) to “The King is Coming” (1970) to “I Can’t Wait to See Jesus” (1975), Jesus music (as it was called at the time) was fueling “the end is near” expectations. I can’t think of one Christian friend who wasn’t eagerly anticipating the Blessed Hope. So I find it very unusual that this blogger would only just recently think things have progressed to the point where Jesus really is about to come. 

Since Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth (1971), the ultra scary flick, “A Thief in the Night” (1972), followed by a steady stream of apocalyptic novels and movies like the “Left Behind” series, it’s a wonder any Christian would not have believed in the imminent return of Christ until now. 

Regardless, since this writer has finally joined the common refrain, I think it would be wise to ponder the following questions before moving on.

  1. Why has there been a significant uptick in the certainty that Jesus’ return is imminent?
  2. Is this pervading certainty based upon concrete biblical signposts clearly indicating that we are in fact nearing the end?
  3. If so, what specific signs would you point to that prove that thesis?

Hold on to your answers for a moment and let’s move on in his short article where he quoted from Matthew’s version of the Olivet at the point when Jesus began answering the disciples’ “when” question (Matt 24:3). Jesus had just rocked their world when he emphatically stated that the massive and magnificent Temple complex (which had been under construction since well before any of them were born) would be utterly obliterated…so much so that even the gargantuan foundation stones would be unearthed. 

So, in response to “When will these things be?”, Jesus began to foretell the events which would lead to His coming (parousia). And this is the very text quoted to support his notion that Jesus’ coming is fast approaching.   

Matthew 24:4-8 – Watch out that no one deceives YOU. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. YOU will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that YOU are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.  (I added the all caps -the reason will become clear in a moment)

Next, the blogger made this observation:

“Of all the things He said, what stands out the most is that He tells US not to be alarmed. How is that possible? These are scary times. People are hurting.” (All caps and underline added)

Though this has been a rather common sentiment for at least the past 5 decades, one would be hard-pressed to find a time since Adam’s Garden transgression, which hasn’t been “scary”. As you consider the centuries following Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension in approx. AD 30, ask yourself this: Has there ever been a decade, a year or even a few months without hearing of “wars and rumors of wars”?

I’m not certain what specifically prompted this blogger to jump on the “Jesus is coming soon” bandwagon, but it’s not a stretch to assume that he (along with the majority), believes that there has been marked increase in wars, famines, and earthquakes.

For a reality check, let’s look at the big three calamitous events beginning with wars taking place just in the past 150 years. 

In the 1860s our nation endured a Civil War so comprehensive and bloody that an estimated 700,000 were killed out of a population of only 31,000,000 (less than 10% of what it is today). That’s 2.25% of the entire U.S. population!

Matter of fact, it is estimated that 1,600,000 Americans have died in all U.S. Wars. Consider these: the War of 1812; the Civil War; WW1; WW2; the Korean War; the Viet Nam War; 2 Gulf Wars; and the ever-present war on terror.

But these numbers only reflect war deaths in the United States. How about worldwide wars and genocide just in the 20th century? 

“According to Matthew White’s estimate on the page Worldwide Statistics of Casualties, Massacres, Disasters and Atrocities., a total of about 123 million people died in all wars of the 20th Century, thereof 37 million military deaths, 27 million collateral civilian deaths, 41 million victims of “democide” (genocide and other mass murder) and 18 million victims of non-democidal famine.” (https://www.quora.com/How-many-people-died-in-all-the-wars-in-the-20th-century)

So, given the state of world affairs today, October 31, 2017, do you believe that we are experiencing more or less war? Have the prophecy pundits been correct?

Let’s move on to another one of the catastrophes mentioned in those 4 verses above: Earthquakes. Surely earthquakes are on the rise, right?

Well, in an Institute of Creation Research study,  “EARTHQUAKES AND THE END TIMES: A GEOLOGICAL AND BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE“, authors Steven A. Austin and Mark L. Strauss conclude:

A number of prophecy teachers say that a pronounced increase in frequency and intensity of earthquakes has occurred in the latter part of the twentieth century, a worldwide trend fulfilling a prophecy made by Jesus. Contrary to these prophecy teachers, no obvious trend is found indicating an abnormal increase in the frequency of large earthquakes during the last half of the twentieth century. Neither is there a noteworthy deficiency of earthquakes in the first half of the century. Graphical plots of global earthquake frequency indicate overall a decreasing frequency of earthquakes through the century. The decades of the 1970s, 80s and 90s experienced a deficit of larger earthquakes compared to earlier decades of the century.

So again, should we not ask why today’s prophecy experts have led us to believe that earthquakes have been on the rise in both size and frequency? Is it possible that just like the errant perception regarding wars, they have been reading their assumptions into reality? Since they need to perceive an increase in mayhem to support their “end is near” arguments, and in too many cases their book sales, there seems to be a conflict of interest that should be factored into their predictions.  

Therefore, isn’t it incumbent upon us to take these prophecy experts to task when even a cursory overview of the data does not conform to their conclusions?

(As a sidebar, it should be noted that Jesus never predicted that there would be a rise in seismic activity. He merely stated that there would be “earthquakes in various places” during the time parameters set in Matthew 24:34.)

Well, then, how about famines? Are more people starving today than at any point in history? Let’s look at the facts. The first chart shows famines per decade since the 1860s and the second chart shows the number of famine victims worldwide in that same period of time. The numbers are startling given the various prophecy guru’s rhetoric. (source: https://ourworldindata.org/famines/) Listen, one death by famine is one too many, but for the purposes of Bible prophecy, the clear decline of famine-related deaths should be factored into our perceptions (that might not be rooted in reality). 

(Again, it should be noted that, contrary to what I hear coming from those holding a premillennial dispensational view of Bible prophecy, Jesus never said anything about an increase in famines. He simply said that within the context of the timing of His prediction (Matthew 24:34) there would be famines in various places.)

So at this point the score is:

Prophecy experts: 0
Reality:                    3

Though severe economic hardship is not mentioned in the Olivet (Mark 13, Luke 21, Matthew 24), since many today believe that financial devastation will be a sign of the end, let’s consider financial disaster as well. Larry Burkett, a well respected financial advisor who died in 2003, wrote “The Coming Economic Earthquake” in 1991. Three years later it was revised to include “The Clinton Agenda”.

In one 5-star review from 2012 was written: Larry Burkett died in 2003 but his book “Coming Economic Earthquake” is accurate on just about every point except the timing, which he admitted he couldn’t predict with any accuracy.” 

But isn’t the timing of a prediction every bit as important as the overall prediction? Sure, some of his prognostications are insightful and they can be useful in plotting one’s financial course. However, the problem is that incendiary titles like “The Coming Economic Earthquake” (which is obviously meant to be emotionally provocative) not only invokes fear but it ultimately causes an attitude of indifference if and when those predictions don’t come to fruition within a remote proximity to the time referent? How many trillions of dollars since the 2008-09 bear market, have Christians lost who have inculcated these often debilitating expectations into their psyche…and their portfolio?

If one believes as the blogger wrote, Tick tock, the time is drawing near, that it is inevitable for the Titanic to sink, won’t that have a rather chilling and potentially debilitating effect on one’s decisions, both personal and professional?  

The reviewer went on to praise Burkett, What he wrote in 1991 and updated in 1993/1994 is still almost textbook accurate as to the source of the economic issues and the result of the popular choices our Congress and Administration have been making for 60 years.”

Perhaps, like this gentleman, we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater of these grandiose predictions (since Burkett provided some otherwise valuable insight), but I think it’s also prudent to ask if Burkett’s views are solely based upon the economic and political policies he believers are deleterious to a free people. In other words, are there other overriding factors (perhaps eschatological) driving his rather dire conclusions? If these kinds of predictions are pragmatically based upon a person’s view of economics as they intersect the political realm, that would be fine. However, when one’s pervading biblical understanding is that financial chaos and calamity must come before Christ’s second advent, one’s interpretation of the data can be significantly skewed. 

No events can be accurately interpreted if our overriding presuppositions are incorrect. For example, let’s say we are in the midst of 40% decline in the market. Person “A” believes that this precipitous drop is a sign of the end, and they, therefore, convert their equities to cash and hard assets, thus locking in substantial losses. Convinced that things are going to continue to deteriorate, person “A” will undoubtedly not reinvest in equities for obvious reasons. 

Contrarily, person “B” sees the decline as a short-term market correction, stays invested and may even purchase additional significantly, now undervalued stock.  So, as you can see, one’s view of Bible prophecy can drastically affect one’s decisions which will directly impact one’s future.

This is exactly what happened in many cases during the 2008-09 market decline. Person “A” either never got back into the market or got back in at much higher prices 4-5 years after the market had gone through a significant rally. And person “B”, given equal financial status to person “A” at the time just prior to the bear market, is now worth considerably more than person “A”. This is why well-intentioned books like Burkett’s can be deleterious to one’s long-term financial health. One’s view of eschatology is a major driving force in decision making. Even those who say that they are panmillennial (it will all pan out in the end), are far more affected by the gloom and doom hype than they realize. 

Though Burkett’s catastrophic prediction was clearly wrong, in context let’s take a peek back to the economic earthquake which began in 1929. The Great Depression was so severe that suicides went up substantially.  There was a deep, pervading sense of hopelessness. And I can’t even imagine how much worse things would have been had those in the 1920s and 1930s been avid followers of today’s pessimillennialism. If the Left Behind series had been inculcated into the fabric of the 1930s church as it is today, I shudder to think how much more severe the depression would have been.  

“Suicide rates, which averaged 12.1 per 100,000 people in the decade prior to the Depression, jumped to an alarming 18.9 in the year of Wall Street’s crash. The suicide rate remained higher than normal throughout the remainder of the Great Depression, then fell sharply during World War II.” (https://www.shmoop.com/great-depression/statistics.html)

But let’s say that we do experience another financial disaster on par or even greater than the Great Depression. Why would it be a sign of the end when the Great Depression wasn’t? Why wasn’t the Black Death with a death toll estimate as high as 40% of all Europeans during the 14th century, a sign of the impending return of Christ? Why weren’t the famines which killed upwards of 20,000,000 Asian Indians during the 1870s, a sign of the end?  Why wasn’t the 526 AD earthquake that hit Antioch, killing 250,000 (decades later the population was only 300,000), not a sign of Jesus’ return?  

Nothing that we are witnessing in this country or throughout the world is unique in history. Nothing! And this is absolutely critical to realize. J.D. King in “Why You’ve Been Duped Into Believing The Myth That The World Is Getting Worse and Worse” argues that things are improving worldwide. and he makes some rather formidable points. Look at Christianity’s growth rate in the world map. Just because the U.S. is experiencing a downturn (the main reason may not be what you have been told)doesn’t mean that this is the case worldwide. Did you know that China has as many Christians as does America and that the gospel is exploding throughout the world?

During the past 50 years, wars, famine, disease and natural disasters have diminished a great deal. Though this doesn’t necessarily prove that things are getting better (certainly the U.S. is experiencing moral degradation), but by the same token, it doesn’t mean that things are worsening on a global scale. So why the perception that things are getting substantially worse? Three main reasons:

  1. We have become terribly egocentric and myopic.
  2. We are being inundated by 24-hour global news, most of which is decidedly negative.
  3. We have been repeatedly told that before Christ returns things must get worse.

Our myopathy has a great deal to do with having very little historical context. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. It’s quite natural to think how bad things are compared to “the good ole days”. But the truth is that the good old days only exist in minds severed from past reality. Can you imagine what it would have been like living through the Civil War or the War to End All Wars if social media had existed? A 24 hour Facebook feed of nothing but death, destruction, fear, doom, and gloom.

So coupling this kind of historical blindness with being constantly hammered by bad news (while writing this, my AP news feed told me that there were 8 dead and scores injured when a car driven by a Jihadi deliberately targeted a Manhattan bike path), can leave us with a rather helpless, pessimistic mindset. But, I would argue that this glass-half-empty worldview is antithetical to the proliferation and propagation of the Gospel.

Now, anyone would be foolish to pretend that we don’t have significant problems. That’s a given in any age. But to believe that today’s “scary” times are worse than other eras is not only invalid but I believe it is unhealthy.

So, not only must we interpret the Bible without a newspaper in hand (as is all too common today), but we must also use sound hermeneutical ( the science of interpretation) principles to understand Bible prophecy.

And that leads me to address what I believe is a profound and all too common hermeneutical error. Notice again that after the blogger quoted Matthew 24, he wrote, “what stands out the most is that He tells US not to be alarmed.

Do you see the interpretational faux pas? When, for example, many Christians see the words “us” and “you” in Scripture, too often they immediately presume that they are being directly addressed. But what we must realize is that, although the Bible was written FOR us and for our benefit, it was not written directly TO us. There are plenty of passages like the Sermon on the Mount that generally apply to all people of all generations but there are others where specific people were addressed. There are those sections in Scripture like the thrashing of the religious elite in Matthew 23, where Jesus was specifically targeting those leaders living at that time. Notice the number of times Jesus addressed “you” as in the Pharisees and Sadducees.

34 “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, 35 so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” (Matthew 23:34-36)

Have you ever read this passage and assumed that you will crucify prophets, that you will one day scourge them in the synagogues or that all the righteous blood shed on earth will fall upon you? Me neither. And that’s the point.  This is no different than reading ourselves into Matthew 24. In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus was speaking directly to His disciples, not you, not me and not anyone from the 16th century or any other time period.

Jesus never said anything directly to this blogger or anyone else in our generation. So why did this fellow write, “He tells US not to be alarmed.”  Jesus was speaking directly to His disciples, not to us. And though this may seem trivial, one of the building blocks of sound hermeneutics is to consider the context which includes what is called “audience relevance“.

So, as you consider the Olivet Discourse, perhaps in a new light, notice the number of times (20) that refer directly to the disciples. Once I began to read this passage with audience relevance in mind, my entire view of Bible prophecy underwent a major paradigm shift. And my prayer is that this blogger who wrote “It’s About Time” (and millions like him) will soon travel a similar path (to mine) and realize it is about time that we change our presuppositions and cast off errant views of Bible prophecy. 

Yes, tick tock the time is drawing near, but not the end of the world. What is drawing nearer by the day is our life on terra firma. Will we continue to propagate this dire end is near message that has crippled the church for at least the past half century, or will we realize that the glorious Gospel will, over time, transform this world into conformity with the Kingdom of Christ?

15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15)

The last thing to note as you peruse the following verses…notice, for example, that when Jesus said, “Then they will deliver you to tribulation”, therefore when you see the abomination of desolation”, and “truly I say to you, this generation will not pass until all these things take place”, that you will understand to whom these things were said. 

Matthew 24:2“And He said to THEM…Do YOU not see all these things? Truly I say to YOU”
Matthew 24:4“And Jesus answered and said to THEM, See to it that no one misleads YOU.”
Matthew 24:6“YOU will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that YOU are not frightened…”
Matthew 24:9“Then they will deliver YOU to tribulation, and will kill YOU, and YOU will be hated by all nations because of My name.”
Matthew 24:15“Therefore when YOU see the abomination of desolation…”
Matthew 24:16“Then those who are IN JUDEA must flee to the mountains.”
Matthew 24:20“But pray that YOUR flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.”
Matthew 24:23“Then if anyone says to YOU, ‘Behold, here is the Christ, or There He is, do not believe him.”
Matthew 24:25“Behold, I have told YOU in advance.”
Matthew 24:26“So if they say to YOU, Behold, He is in the wilderness, do not go out…”
Matthew 24:32“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;”
Matthew 24:33“so, YOU too, when YOU see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.”
Matthew 24:34“Truly I say to YOU, THIS GENERATION will not pass away until all these things take place.”
Matthew 24:42“Therefore be on the alert, for YOU do not kno which day your Lord is coming.”
Matthew 24:44“For this reason YOU also must be on ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour when YOU do not think He will.”
Matthew 24:47“Truly I say to YOU that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.”

If you have any questions regarding these things feel free to address them below. And if you’d like to read further on this issue, I would highly recommend George Holford’s 1805 book, The Destruction of Jerusalem – An Absolute & Irresistible Proof of the Divine Origin of Christianity. I also suggest you listen to the following podcast in which Gary DeMar (formerly the president of American Vision) joined hosts Julio Rodriguez, Steve Denhartog, and Shane Kirk on BRIDGE Radio. It’s an excellent interview detailing the fulfillment of the Olivet Discourse. Gary is doing a series of interviews surrouding his newest book, “Wars and Rumors of Wars.”  

Posted in 2nd Coming, Audience Relevance, Eschatology | Leave a comment

Thy Word – Sound interpretational principles

Reading God’s word… A gentle admonition

Ed Ferner, a mentor of sorts, once gave me some simple but sage advice that’s worth passing along. “The Scripture was written FOR us but it was not written TO us.” As obvious as that sounds, though we pay lip service to this undeniable fact, we often ignore it. We know, for example, that Paul didn’t write Colossians directly to us, but because we understand that it has timeless applications and implications, we have a tendency to read it as though it was addressed to us. This slight change in mind has made the Scriptures come alive for me in ways I would never have dreamed.

Therefore, I believe it is imperative to view Scripture through the lens of the writer and through the eyes of its recipients with the full realization that we are reading someone else’s mail. Clearly, the Bible was written and has been preserved for our benefit, but we read it as though it arrived with the morning’s paper, we will forever be confused. So, if we are faithful in this regard, we will, through the power of the Holy Spirit who resides within, unlock many truths in God’s word that have escaped us (and so many countless others) for generations.  Bold you say? Perhaps.  Arrogant? Not really. Possible? Absolutely!

I always assumed that the early church fathers who we revere so much, had each been given a special interpretive key into the mysteries of God. In my opinion, this mediator-type system’s vestiges had their beginnings in a state-controlled church where the Word was not entrusted to the “masses”.  Now more than ever we have the tools available to study God’s word that even the elite scholars of the 3rd century lacked.

We have access to the entire Bible in 40 translations from Arabic to Russian at the stroke of a mouse click. We can search the Scripture for every usage of “The kingdom of God” in less than a second. We can scan through the exhaustive writings of Josephus and Tacitus in the blink of an eye. And we have the capacity to ferret through what we formerly took at face value. We need not remain in the dark relying on others for our doctrinal positions.

Early in my Christian life many of us relied heavily upon the notes written in the margins and at the bottoms of each page. C.I. Scofield (through his Scofield reference Bible) indoctrinated generations simply by making his theological system so readily available. Many treat those notes as Gospel not realizing that they are nothing more than a built-in commentary of his opinions. It was so easy to read a passage and then immediately determine what that section actually meant, or so I thought. But as I discovered Scofield too often misinterpreted the Greek in order to fit his paradigm. Was it intentional? I don’t know but it nonetheless can cause serious problems.

For example Scofied substituted the meaning of the Greek word genos for genea (generation) in Matthew 24:34. An oversight we hope but if used properly as genea this would have been a huge nail in the coffin of his dispensational system. Jesus said,Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Genos (1085 Strong’s Greek) means offspring, stock, kin or a people. The correct word, Genea (1074 Strong’s Greek), means an age, generation or time.

As you can see, the meaning of the verse changes drastically with this small error. “This generation shall not pass away” carries with it an entirely different meaning than “This race will not pass away”, which was found in Scofield’s original notes.

So with the capacity to check lexicons and sources, we no longer need be held captive to these kinds of mistakes whether they were intentional or accidental. Though some defend Scofield to the nth degree, I think there’s good reason to maintain a healthy dose of skepticism.

Although we have the technological advantages over the early church fathers, we lack something that we must make up for.  And that’s proximity to the source.  They had an understanding of the times & culture associated with the writers of the Scripture that we lack.  Our westernized mindset is a huge stumbling block to proper interpretation.  Therefore, we must go back be diligent to study the historical setting, culture and times surrounding the Bible. Only then can we begin to grasp the Word in context.

If we extract the contents of Paul’s letter to the Galatians or John’s Revelation to the expectant believers in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) and put those words into a 21st-century context, we will not ascertain the full meaning of what these writers intended to convey to their readers.  Audience relevance is absolutely critical.

In Acts chapter 2 verses 16-21, what was Peter’s explanation to those present at the Day of Pentecost regarding the supernatural abilities of the unschooled Galileans (who were speaking in the many languages of those present or perhaps the crowd was hearing in their own language)? Peter begins to quote Joel, “in the last days…” and then proceeds to give a list of things that would happen in the time of the end.

Most of us extract those words “last days” and transport them in a time machine 2,000 years future into the year 2007 and we assume that we are living in the “last days”. But is this what Peter was implying? He was applying the term “last days” to exactly what they were experiencing right then, 2,000 years ago.  So, if we forget the Biblical hermeneutic of audience relevance we are likely to misinterpret the passage.

Therefore, it is imperative that we put on our 1st-century glasses when we read the words of the apostles. Without a working knowledge of the times, customs and settings we will never uncover the truth and we will continue to be frustrated with our inability to make sense of God’s word. And this will ultimately result in apathy regarding our thirst to read His word. It’s very difficult to stay motivated when you are constantly confused.

A good friend,  Pastor James Saxon, used to say time and again that we must interpret the unclear in the light of that which is clear. When the Bible uses terms like, at hand, shortly, soon, or in a little while, it is imperative that we avoid assigning an arbitrary vagueness to these words of imminency.  That will do great damage to the context of these passages of God’s Word.

When reading these time sensitive statements we must not allow our minds to become clouded and misapply a verse such as 2Pet 3:8, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years”. We must be both intellectually honest and consistent. For when Jesus says, “I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me” was He not referring to a short time period? Then when in the book of Hebrews we read, “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry“, do we change the meaning of “a little while” to fit our long-held presuppositions? If we don’t consistently apply word meanings (always in context) then we are in danger of remaking the Scripture to fit our preconceived paradigm. This is known as eisegesis i.e. reading our biases into the text. At the very least, this kind of confirmation bias (confirming our views by manipulating what we read to fit our preconceptions) sets our feet on rather dubious interpretational ground.

Approximately 500 years before fulfillment, the prophet Daniel was told to “seal up the vision” for it was “many days in the future” at the “time of the end“.  Yet in John’s Revelation he was told, “do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near“.  This is truly a remarkable contrast, but one that is not often considered.


So how can pastors and Bible students believe with any degree of  intellectual honesty, that Daniel’s sealed vision which was prophesied to take place “many days in the future” (approx. 600 years to fulfillment) be significantly shorter than the unsealed Revelation’s contention that the “time is near” (which is supposedly almost 2,000 years and counting)?  Do you see the glaring problem? We would never consider performing this kind of word gymnastics with any other form of literature, but when it comes to the inspired, inerrant Word of our Creator, we tend to discard reason. Why?  Because of the expectations created by our paradigm.

Put yourself in the place of the disciples when Jesus said, “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” and “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Do you think the hearers of those words took Jesus seriously? At the very least, do we not find it rather disingenuous and downright misleading to utter these types of time indicators if in fact they are actually coded so that only someone 2,000 years future can decipher them? (In my opinion, treating the Scriptures in this manner lends credibility and acceptance to blasphemous books like the Da Vinci Code.)

Would we not be put-off by being told to “flee to the mountains“, scaring us half out of our minds, if this admonition is meant for a generation thousands of years hence?   Can we trust Jesus for our salvation if we cannot rely on Him to do the things he said he would do in the time He said he would do them? C.S. Lewis apparently didn’t have a problem with this when he wrote,

“Say what you like,” we shall be told, “the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. 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.

C.S. Lewis was being honest and for that he should be commended. However, it is quite sad that even this great stalwart of the faith had no hermeneutical grid with which to effectively understand these prophetic passages.

Take heart. Jesus didn’t delude anyone and neither did the NT writers. There is a theological system that can effectively answer the tough questions that the many like C.S. Lewis were not able to deal with. In fact we can make sense of New Testament statements of imminence while increasing our reverence for the inspired Word. We can know that Jesus meant exactly what he said and that He fulfilled his predictions in the exact time sequences in which they were stated.  We don’t have to hide from the atheistic, Judaistic, or Islamic websites and proselytizers as they incessantly trot out Jesus’ Words per Matthew 24:34, Matthew 10:23, and Matthew 16:27-28 in an attempt to discredit Scripture.

However, in order to do this it is imperative that we set our presuppositions aside and be open to what the Scripture teaches regardless of the implications.  For most of us a rather seismic paradigm shift is in order—and process can result in periods of uneasiness and uncertainly. For a season, every answered question may find two taking its place. But I can attest that there is in fact a light at the end of the tunnel—it’s Jesus in all His revealed glory!

A type of Biblical language that seems to create a great deal of confusion and consternation is the recurrent use of figurative speech. In order for us to begin to understand God’s plan throughout history we must effectively recognize apocalyptic language and metaphoric speech while allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. We see this kind of writing in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and even in the Psalms. Upon first glance we are prone (by our westernized 21st century mindset) to take the words of Daniel 8:10 literally—“and some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them.In 1837 Adam Clark referencing the above verse wrote, “The destruction of the Jews by Antioch Epiphanes, is represented by casting down some of the host of heaven, and the stars to the ground.” Daniel is not speaking of the dissolution of a planet but the judgment of a nation. So when we read this same type of language in the Second Testament we must not change our interpretational grid.

Have you ever asked or been asked the following question… Should God’s Word be taken literally or figuratively? The truth is that it must be interpreted both ways. A great obstacle that we must overcome is that our westernized mind is so far removed from the times when Peter dropped his nets into the Sea of Galilee. Surely when we read, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills” we realize that God isn’t saying that the thousandth and one hill is up for grabs. Or when Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”, we don’t get the picture of a supernatural construction company of angels working around the clock for 3 days building a temple more marvelous than the one that was destroyed.  Did they get it? Did they think he was speaking literally?  No, they didn’t have a clue & yes, they interpreted His statement literally just like we oftentimes do today.

The complexity has been interjected by theologians who refuse (like first century Jews) to recognize that His coming was far different than expected.  The Jews anticipated a political warrior prince who could physically vindicate them from the bondage of Roman tyranny.  He was rejected because He did not meet their expectations.  Instead He came as a suffering servant offering the forgiveness of sins, not as some sort of temporal respite but of eternal consequence.  In Acts 1:6 they still didn’t get it even after the resurrection.  They said, Lord will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?  It was never about physical earthly rule as Jesus pointed out to the woman at the well in John 4.   Jesus said, Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father….23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

That’s why they missed Him the first time.  Their physical expectations didn’t meet God’s spiritual intentions. Have we repeated the same mistake a second time?  (I thought a little repetitive redundancy was in order)

Many warn us against “spiritualizing” too many texts but don’t think it doesn’t happen often in all forms of eschatological systems. Those that claim to be literalists have equated the locusts mentioned in Revelation 9 to Cobra helicopters.

So he who is without figurative language cast the first stone of heresy. It is quite obvious that all Scripture cannot be taken literally. So the question shouldn’t be whether to use a consistent literal or figurative hermeneutic—it should be a question of when.

For example: When we read “All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree”, how do we interpret these words? In our 21st century mindset most of us think that this is a prediction of the destruction of the earth at the end of time. Let’s take a closer look. This prophecy was uttered by Isaiah in chapter 34 verse 4 and is clearly announcing the desolation of Bozrah the capital of Edom late in the sixth century BC. This is judgment language as referenced above in Daniel 8 & it’s quite clear that it can’t be taken literally since we are still make earth our temporal residence.  As I sidebar, read Isa 13 & 34, Micah 1, Nahum 1, Ezek 32, & Psalm 18

So when we come to passages with similar language in the New Testament like that of Acts 2:16-21, Matt 24:29, 2Pet 3:10-12, or Rev 6:12-14 are we going to be consistent in our interpretation?  How do you think the people living in the first century viewed this type of language? (Lest we forget—it’s certainly worth noting that no one had the benefit of a pocket New Testament tucked neatly in their tunic pocket or resting prominently on their nightstand.)

Let’s look at Caiaphas’ response to Jesus’ declaration that, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven”.  It says, “He has spoken blasphemy”! It’s quite evident that Caiaphas fully understood this type of apocalyptic language of “coming on the clouds”.   Only God came on the clouds! This is referenced repeatedly in the Old Testament—The oracle concerning Egypt; Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt; The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within themIsa 19:1

 And let’s not let the word “you” in Matthew 26 escape our notice. Jesus said, “YOU will see…” as he was speaking directly to Caiaphas.  Nothing like dropping a bombshell on our eschatological paradigm!

The Word of God is the unfolding of the Greatest Story Ever Told and we do it great disservice by compartmentalizing its contents as though we are reading hundreds of different unrelated stories.   We separate the Old and New Testament like it was some sort of God-ordained division when in fact we can see Christ clearly on page after page of the Old Testament.

The plan of redemption is clear from Genesis to Revelation.  God has always been sovereign & his plans were not & can not be thwarted. His plan has been unfolding throughout history with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker. It has always been by faith and never by our own effort that has given us acceptance before a perfect & holy God.

The New Covenant didn’t abolish the Old – it fulfilled and completed it. The Old Covenant was merely an imperfect shadow. Christ’s work of redemption on the cross & His coming in judgment 40 years later in AD 70 (against a wicked & perverse generation) was the perfect fulfillment of that which had been foretold & so masterfully weaves God’s new with the old when he writes, “…A new covenant”, He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. It was growing old & it did in fact vanish with the destruction of the temple & the entire sacrificial system in those horrible days of tribulation as Titus obliterated Jerusalem. Prophecy was indeed fulfilled but yet since many of us know so little about history, sadly those still waiting for a future fulfillment seem more numerous than the grains of sand in the Sahara.

Since this Old Covenant passed away, we now worship God in spirit and in truth and no longer are we constrained to meet God in boxes or buildings since we are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. For we are the New Jerusalem which comes from above & we are joint heirs with Abraham in the Kingdom of God which has come. We have not replaced Israel but become partakers in the promise. Nationality, circumcision, obedience nor any outward manifestations of our humanity would ever become a pleasing aroma in God’s holy & perfect kingdom. It was by faith then & it is by faith now that we enter God’s eternal peace.

God is never forced by man’s rebellion to resort to alternate plan B’s, C’s, or D’s. And it is with this backdrop that we study God’s word with the confidence that through the Spirit’s illumination that we can understand the mystery of God.

Our God is in complete control and He shall reign forever & ever, Amen!

So when we read the Scripture we will do well to consider the fact that although the Scripture was written for our benefit it was not written directly TO US.  If we do not understand a passage in the light of the original audience then we find ourselves making unintended application.  Audience relevance is the key to unlocking the mysteries of the faith. “and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things;” Eph 3:9

I would highly recommend Frank Turek’s “Cross Examined” podcast and specifically this one regarding “There are no verses in the Bible.” Frank gives a number of very helpful “how not to interpret the Bible” tips, some of which is discussed above.

Posted in Audience Relevance, Eschatology, Hermeneutics | Leave a comment

Plagiarius to Martial – kidnapping words…

In Pastors, Sermons And Plagiarism In The Internet Age, Sarah Pullham Baily wondered how plagiarism was/is affecting modern day pulpits. She wrote, “Recent cases of high-profile pastors who have been accused of lifting others’ material are raising questions about whether pulpit plagiarism is on the rise — and whether it has become a more forgivable sin.”

An unknown pastor

Well, let’s first ask what is it and when did it originate? Norton/Write explains:

The word plagiarism has a curious history. It is derived from the Latin plagiarius—literally, a kidnapper who ensnares children or slaves in a plaga (net). The Roman poet Martial (40-102 AD), fiercely protective of his literary creations, was the first to apply the word plagiarius to someone who stole his words with false claims of authorship.

This entered the English language as “plagiary,” and then, in the seventeenth century, plagiarism, as the theft of words became a more and more widespread problem amidst the burgeoning culture of books and literacy made possible by the printing press. Something can be “stolen,” of course, only if it can be owned in the first place—and so naturally the modern concept of plagiarism grew up alongside the development of copyright law and the status attached to authorship and originality.

I found Baily’s article interesting if not rather disturbing. There seems to be a wide variety of reactions to it. Some pastors found guilty of plagiarism have been fired while others have, for whatever reason, been elevated to positions of greater scope and responsibility. Clearly it’s not the be-all-end-all sin, but what jettisoned Joe Biden from 1988 presidential contention appears to be on the rise within the Christian community and, in my view, this is not a healthy trend.

So determining how to wade through one’s moral obligations in this changing digital world (both as a hearer/reader and a speaker/author) is clearly a complex task. Most of us have probably been guilty of some level of plagiarism either intentionally or not, but perhaps simply because its a practice common should not give us license to disregard abuse, especially if it’s blatant and premeditated.

Most of us have few original thoughts (I guess I should speak for myself). We glean the majority from others and are most often not even cognizant from whence an idea came.  The question is, should there be a different level of accountability during daily conversations and those who dispense knowledge from pulpits, lecture halls and print/digital media? In the normal discourse of everyday life we effectively become conduits of the burgeoning information overflow. So my question is, should the standard be the same as for pastors, teachers and speakers who may only appear to be delivering fresh content?

In other words, should there be a different level of scrutiny for our general conversations where we might hear something interesting and pass it along having no clue of its origin, and the speaker/author who intentionally takes the words of others (perhaps written in an online blog or used in a sermon) and pretends that they are his or her own?  And is this latter offense worthy of concern?

In this cyber age, protecting intellectual property is going to become a greater and greater concern. In daily interactions it would be nearly impossible and downright cumbersome to cite our sources and stopping every few sentences to use finger quotation gestures, would be very awkward. Not only that but quite frankly, recalling, on-the-fly, specific sources in our melting pot minds, would be nearly impossible.

That said, if I’m reading a book that provides the brunt of my ideas and during daily discourse I pass them off in a way that makes it appear that they are original thoughts, would that be somewhat dishonest? Clearly I wouldn’t have broken any copyright laws but wouldn’t it be more honorable to at least mention the book, article or lecture where an idea was culled.

Now, in the matter of public speaking and authorship, there are already laws in place to protect private property. So, would it not be wise in the Christian community to at least match that standard of expected conduct?

Some of the articles I’ve read on this subject or those I’ve interacted with, have suggested that plagiarism isn’t wrong unless and until the plagiarizer benefits monetarily. Let’s say a pastor or motivational speaker has enjoyed increased stature by using other people’s words, and therefore has benefited from the substantive growth in his/her online presence or overall popularity and notoriety … and if this amplified regard and visibility is ultimately parlayed into greater income, doesn’t this indirectly meet the criteria for monetary gain? And if that is the case, even if there is no direct tangible profitability i.e. through selling a book with plagiarized content, that would not absolve the guilty party would it?

We’re all keenly aware of the group Milli Vanilli and their brush with success. If you recall they tumbled from their pedestal when their lip-syncing was uncovered. In reality, all they did was pretend to sing songs. And people really enjoyed their act. So why was there such outrage?

They didn’t actually steal the voices of others. The vocalists signed contracts to provide the voices for what became Milli Vanilli, so there was no ambiguity in this arrangement. The producer hired both the lip-syncers and vocalists and forbid anyone from divulging their secret. But as we well know, “conspiracies” don’t remain such for long.

At any rate, have you ever wondered why there was such brouhaha over a situation where no one was essentially stealing anything or violating copyright laws?

Interestingly, one of the men whose voice was being used said he felt bittersweet about the stardom achieved by Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan (the actors comprising Milli Vanilli). Knowing that the very substance of his voice had been parlayed into the #1 single in the world made him proud but at the time it caused some regret. In the interview highlighted at the above link, he said, “You have two sides. One side you feel good because you saying my voice done made it, #1 worldwide. But you still sittin’ in the back and sayin’ ‘that’s not what I really wanted’. I wanted to make it.”

So again, why were these men publicly shamed and humiliated? They didn’t hurt anyone and the ones whose voices they lip synced had agreed to the entire arrangement. Perhaps it was because people felt deceived. The world had become infatuated with Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, but it was all based upon smoke and mirrors. They were not who they and their producer represented them to be, and apparently that deception was not appreciated.

Could these men have ever become stars without using the voices of others? Clearly not. Could the vocalists have become stars in their own right without the look and persona of these actors? Probably not. Well, then, shouldn’t the same question be asked of pastors and teachers who do the same?

In Finding Forester, Jamaal Wallace, a brilliant kid from the ghetto, attended a very prestigious private school. After entering a marvelous piece of pros into a school writing contest he encountered severe scrutiny. As it turned out, Jamaal had merely begun with a few words from something his famous mentor had written. Though the overwhelming majority of his paper was of his own creative imagination, the fact that he plagiarized the first few lines was of such grave concern that it almost caused his expulsion.

In the pivotal scene of confrontation between Jamaal and his very critical teacher (a writer wannabe very jealous of Jamaal’s mentor’s success), Jamaal was justly accused of plagiarism. As it turned out, the few words that he ‘borrowed’ to begin his paper had been part of an article that appeared in the New Yorker! But the point is that even the use of those few words created a firestorm. As we learned earlier in the movie, a mitigating circumstance was that his famous mentor/author/ friend was the one who actually encouraged him (Jamaal) to be begin the flow and cadence of writing by starting with his mentor’s words. The caveat was that no writing that took place in the apartment of his friend and writing coach, Mr. Forester (Sean Connery), was to leave the premise.  That violation nearly cost Jamaal his scholarship.

That wonderfully heartwarming scene is captured below. But the point is that lifting words and pretending them to be one’s own was determined to be a very serious offense.

In Good Will Hunting, an arrogant condescending Harvard student was trying to impress a female student in a bar by embarrassing a kid (Ben Affleck) from the hood who was trying to pretend to be well educated. This Harvard man was resoundingly outed when Affleck’s well-read janitor friend from Southey (Matt Damon) began finishing this Harvard kid’s quotes while citing the commensurate authors. This was the ultimate putdown because the Harvard guy was trying to make it look like he was being original, when in fact this impressive spewing of platitudes was nothing more than a regurgitating of other famous people’s thoughts. He was trying to create the illusion that he was basically somebody that he was not.

Along the same line as using the ideas of others, it appears to be a growing trend for pastors to purchase sermons from sermon outlets. Is there anything inherently dishonest about this practice? Scot McKnight in “Plagiarizing Sermons” identifies a number of underlying problems with this practice. There are a number of factors not the least of which is borrowing personal illustrations and sharing them in the first person as if they were the experiences of the pastor.

Now, it appears that no copyright laws are being broken since these sermons are sold with the creator’s full blessing. But again, we’re confronted with this idea of deception. Does the pastor leave the impression (intentionally or not) that his sermons are personally crafted?  The parishioner mistakenly concludes that the pastor has spent hours of study in order to develop the convictions and salient points laid out in the sermon.

And it logically follows that there would be greater esteem for puppeteers developing fresh content than the pastor who bought his or her message. I am not insinuating that this is an illegitimate or unethical practice but I am attempting to make the point that if the congregation is unware that a sermon is canned, it may be somewhat deceptive. What would be wrong with saying something like, “I enjoyed the sermon series so much that I decided to use it as my guide”?

At this point I think it’s prudent to ask whether we should simply ignore this pulpit? Is the theft of intellectual property only a sin if we derived a direct monetarily benefit? Or is it a problem that should be addressed because those who “borrow” the words of others are engaged in a form of deception?

Some may ask, what does it hurt? The author of the original material will probably never know. And the fact is that they might actually find it flattering that their words were being copied. Charles Colton once wrote, “Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery”.

In Christianity Today’s website, an article entitled, “When Pastor’s Plagiarize” gave somewhat of an apologetic, justifying, at least to an extent, a pastor’s license to share borrowed content with others.

“During many eras, in the English Reformation for example, sermons were crafted by church leaders, printed, and distributed to parishes, where local pastors would preach them word for word. Congregations did not blink. It was assumed that sermons were not individualistic efforts but the work of the church.”

Though I agree with a number of the points made in the above article, I think the author omitted some vital factors.

  1. The sermons passed down by English Reformers were assumed not to be “individual efforts but the work of the church”. Is that actually the case in many of the situations dealing with plagiarism today? No one expects all the words from a pastor to be original. Coming up with 50 sermons per year, year after year, straight from one’s own study, is clearly a monumental task. So I get that. I am awed by any pastor’s ability to constantly create fresh Biblically-sanctioned sermon material. However, what’s wrong with holding up a book or two or citing the articles that inspired the sermon? What’s wrong with quoting the source and giving proper attribution when taking sentences verbatim from others?
  2. Yes, it’s wonderful to see the Christian community operating on an organic level, always building on the efforts of others. This kind of collective synergy is necessary to the growth and vitality of the Gospel message. No one is asserting that pooling resources is unhealthy or imprudent. However, again, what’s the problem with proper attribution?  Could it be that some pastors are consistently and serially tapping into the content of others to the point where it would be embarrassing for them to admit that much of their most astute sounding verbiage has been copied verbatim?

I called a pastor friend I’ve known for many years and asked him what he thought about this whole matter. As it turned out, he was involved in teaching a course motivated by book someone else had written. Though he said that most of the points he addressed in the class were of his own creative juices, since he was empowered and encouraged by the book’s overall message, it was second nature for him to give full credit to the author in each class. It should be noted that this pastor was under no obligation to disclose the wind beneath the wings of his teaching points, since none of the material he presented was plagiarized. However, he felt that it was necessary to cite this other man’s work.

So, in closing, let me ask you these few questions.

  1. Do you think plagiarism is a problem within the Christian community and if so, what would you recommend doing about it?
  2. Should a pastor guilty of constant plagiarism be censured in any way? Would you support action taken against them or do you think this is an insignificant offense that doesn’t warrant any negative action taken?

Let me be clear that I am not without foibles. I am not casting the first stone. Sometimes it’s laziness, other times ignorance and occasionally it’s willful and blatant deception. And it seems that the punishment should fit the crime. However, if we continue to ignore this issue, won’t we be in danger of compromising the integrity of authors and pastors and won’t we be guilty of demeaning creative abilities?

Posted in Ethics | Leave a comment

Jesus Is Coming Soon!

Few will disagree that Chris Tomlin is both a gifted writer/performer and a man after God’s ownjesus-is-coming-soon heart. Often his songs are so majestically inspiring that they exhort and compel us to fall on our knees and worship Jesus.

In a recent Sunday service, we sang a very popular Tomlin tune, “Even So Come“. As I surveyed the audience, it was obvious by their impassioned faces that this emotionally engaging song tugged deeply at their heartstrings. It evoked a clear visceral response, especially during the refrain, “Jesus is Coming Soon.” Since the early 70s when I became a Christian, similar tunes like “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” and “The King is coming“, flicks such as “A Thief in the Night” and apocalyptic novels espousing “Late Great Planet Earth” eschatology, were the order of the day. Jesus was clearly coming soon! In 1973 during my sophomore year in college, there wasn’t a day on my commute to USF, where I’d miss gazing up into the clouds wondering if this would be THE DAY when Jesus split the sky. But that was 43 years ago when Robertson, Falwell, and LaHaye assured us that Jesus was coming soon.   

Rewind to the first century when “Even So Come” would have topped the early church charts.  In the AD 60s when Christians were being heavily persecuted, tortured and murdered for their allegiance to Christ, there was no ambiguity as they pleaded  “Come Lord Jesus, come!” The slain believers under the altar 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?” (Rev 6:10) In the New Testament’s pages, there was an unmistakably eager expectation of the Lord’s coming to both avenge and reward the beleaguered church. How long, indeed! So, 2,000 years ago, Tomlin’s words would have been extremely poignant and far more emotionally compelling than they are today. Why?  Because the Holy Spirit convinced every last NT author that Jesus was indeed coming soon. So again, since Chris Tomlin has received no such divine inspiration, what gives him the certainty that he’s right? This is the first verse of “Even So Come”. 

All of creation,
All of the earth,
Make straight a highway,
A path for the Lord,
Jesus is coming soon.

Contrast this with the inspired Apostle Paul’s writings…

(1 Cor 1:7) Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.

(Heb 9:28) so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Do you see the problem? Something is awry and though many refuse to acknowledge the elephant in the room, a few decades ago it began to weigh heavily on my soul. Why were the NT authors inspired to create such eager anticipation? Were the recipients of these letters mislead? Are the souls under the altar still crying out “How long?”

Living nearly 2,000 years after the fact, I am quite frankly baffled by the repeated insistence that “Jesus is coming soon.”  Though Tomlin is convinced that after 2,000 years of assuming Jesus’ imminent arrival is even more imminent than ever, I believe the eschatology promoting this kind of soon coming should provoke a rather troubling question. If not then (in the AD 60s when every NT author proclaimed Jesus’ imminent return), why now? What has fundamentally changed that would cause Tomlin to be so confident that we have finally arrived at what has been an interminably imminent moment?

(At this point, let me offer a disclaimer lest you get the very wrong impression that I am a skeptic. I am NOT! Far from it. I believe every word that proceeded from the mouths and pens of those who authored the NT. This problem, some refer to as “the time statements”, is one of interpretation, not inspiration. (2 Tim 3:16)

Yes, it’s clear that America’s moral climate has degraded to the point where it is rivaling that which has been commonplace in Europe for decades. And yes, the fabric of life as it was in the 1950s has been torn apart and is in disrepair. How often though have we heard the Apostle Paul’s warning to Timothy, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come”  used as proof that we must be living in the last days near the end of time? The apocalypse must be just around the corner! The worse things get, the closer to Jesus’ coming…or so many believe.  

Following Paul’s ominous words was a laundry list of moral depravity: “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.” (2 Tim 2-5)

Exposing all manner of wickedness, I constantly hear items plucked from this menu of sinful proclivities as proof that we have finally reached the zenith of a sin-drenched world. But let me pause for a moment and ask a question. Is there truly anything on Paul’s list that is peculiar to 2016? Lovers of self and lovers of money? Disobedient to parents? Ungrateful? Haters of God? Lovers of pleasure? Does anyone seriously believe that this list could not apply to every generation since it was written? If we think that things today are worse than they’ve ever been, I think it’s time we take a serious peek into history to gain context.  Perhaps a read through George Holford’s 1805 classic, “The Destruction of JerusalemAn Absolute & Irresistible Proof of the Divine Origin of Christianity” would be in order (the pdf is only 30 pages in length)?

Stop for a moment and put your objective hat on. Do you truly believe that at the time the Apostle Paul issued this warning, that this group of sins wasn’t thoroughly inculcated into that AD 60s generation in which Paul wrote? (and I’m not talking about the 1960s!) Considering the very next verse. “Avoid such men as these“, why in the world was Timothy instructed to “avoid such men” if Paul was specifically targeting our generation 2,000 years into the future? How could Timothy and his disciples avoid evil men who were thousands of years from being born? And since when has anyone argued that the humanism which has swept through Europe and America in the past century, could in any way be construed as “holding to a form of godliness”? There is no semblance of godliness in today’s secularism.

This isn’t a description of our day’s moral depravity, but rather of the times in which it was written a few decades after the ruling religious elite who killed Jesus continued to deny their Him as they persecuted His followers. Paul, in his warning to Timothy of that which was to befall that wicked and perverse Christ-killing generation in the latter days, exhorted Timothy to stay the course of godliness. It is imperative that we read the NT letters with first-century glasses. How can we possibly think we can understand Paul’s second letter to Timothy if we rip from it’s AD 60s moorings and time-warp it into the 21st century? 

(2 Timothy 3:10) But you [Timothy] have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured.

How often have you heard a pastor or teacher pluck the following verse completely out of it’s context and apply it specifically to our time? If evil men and imposters have been growing worse and worse since the AD 60s, then we wouldn’t be able to go outside for fear of being murdered. Paul is talking about the wickedness of his time, not ours when false Christs and antichrists were attempting to deceive the Church.  

(2 Tim 3:13-15) But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 

Notice the exhortive contrast in the very next verse to the proliferation of evil.

14 But you [Timothy] must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Yes, there was indeed a crescendo of evil as men were growing worse and worse in the last days of Old Covenant Israel. During the war with Rome (AD 67-70), the wickedness inside Jerusalem was unparalleled. Consider for a moment how the 1st-century Jewish historian, Josephus, characterized the generation to which Paul was referring.

“Neither did any other city [Jerusalem] ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age breed a generation [AD 30-70] more fruitful in wickedness than this one, from the beginning of the world.” War of the Jews, Book V, Section X, Flavius Josephus.

No generation since the foundation of the world was more fruitful in wickedness? And this includes the days of Noah! How often has someone or perhaps even you cited sins on Paul’s list as proof that we’re living in the last days? Though I don’t have time to fully explore it here, did you know that both Peter (in Acts 2:16-21) and Paul (Hebrew 1:1-2) said rather unequivocally that they were living in the last days

Sidebar note: If the “last days” lasted longer than the Mosaic economy it was supposed to be the tail end of, does that make any sense? If we continue to ignore the meanings of these kinds of simple phrases, I think we do ourselves a grave disservice.

So is Chris Tomlin referring to the same soon which was associated with the last days of the Old Covenant economy? Is he referencing the same soon that Jesus prophesied in the 1st words of the apocalypse? “The Revelation [unveiling not the concealing] of Jesus Christ, which God [the Father] gave Him [Jesus] to show to His bond-servants [in the seven churches of Asia Minor], the things which must SOON take place…” (Rev 1:1)  Tomlin is also using the same imminent phraseology that James, the brother of Jesus used: “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is NEAR.” (James 5:8)

Is Tomlin echoing the sentiment of Peter as he addressed the Church in his first epistle: “The end of all things is NEAR”? (1 Pet 4:7)  Or the Apostle Paul, writing in the early AD 60s to the Philippians and Hebrews respectively, “The Lord is NEAR” and “In A VERY LITTLE WHILE He who is coming will come and WILL NOT DELAY.” (Phil 4:5; Heb 10:37)

The common theme throughout the New Testament was the eager expectation that Jesus was, in fact, coming soon. So again, the question we all should be asking is, Why now, Chris? Could it be that many ignore the timing because they have not understood the nature of His coming? This sense of imminent anticipation is dripping from the pages of the NT. “EAGERLY WAITING for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (1 Cor 1:7“So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who EAGERLY WAIT for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Heb 9:28) Just before Jesus conquered the grave and ascended to the right Hand of the Father in AD 30, He made clear that He was returning in that first-century generation while some of His followers were still alive. (Matt 24:34; 16:27-28)  It should, therefore, be noted that Jesus created this eager anticipation of the blessed hope.

We’ve been told ad nauseum that all of the imminent language surrounding the second coming of Christ had no direct relevance to the beleaguered and maligned first-century believers who received it. It has been beaten into our brains that when Peter, Paul, James or John spoke imminently about the Parousia (coming with a consequential presence), that they really didn’t mean it, because after all, God’s timing is not ours. Is time really supposed to be cajoled, manipulated and elasticized to fit the reader’s paradigm?

Twenty-six hundred years ago God put an end to the proverb, “The days are prolonged, and every vision fails’”. In other words, just as today when people take Peter’s “a day of the Lord is as a thousand years” out of context arguing that God’s prophetic word is as elastic as silly putty, they did the same in Ezekiel’s day. And notice how God addressed this notion.

(Ezek 12:23- 2523 Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will lay this proverb to rest, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.”’ But say to them, ‘“The days are at hand, and the fulfillment of every vision. 24 For no more shall there be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. 25 For I am the Lord. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,” says the Lord God.’

Could God have been any clearer? “It will no more be postponed”!!! “The days are at hand and the fulfillment of every vision”. And if anyone questioned God at this point, He made it even clearer.(Ezek 12:26-29) 26 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 27 “Son of man, look, the house of Israel is saying, ‘The vision that he sees is for many days 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 postponed any more, but the word which I speak will be done,” says the Lord God.’”

So again, when Paul wrote, “In A VERY LITTLE WHILE He who is coming will come and WILL NOT DELAY”, are we on safe ground to say, that which Paul prophesied was to take place “many day from now”? If “None of my words will be postponed” doesn’t mean “Will not delay”, what does?

Listen, I realize for some this is a very hard teaching. But rather than continue to foster a proverb that God put to rest, shouldn’t we take the intellectually honest high road and try to figure out what Jesus and the NT authors meant by their many imminent statements? Is it possible that they were correct and that our presuppositions are in error?

Do you really believe that Jesus, sitting at the right hand of God the Father after He had overcome physical death and ascended to glory, was speaking ambiguously when He said, “things which must soon take place…for the time is near”? Listen, I realize this puts serious pressure on your eschatological worldview and what you’ve been taught for probably your entire Christian life. I understand the angst. I was there wrestling with this very issue for decades. I believe there is a better answer than the one which we have been given for the past 150 years.

Read the following words and ask yourself why soon means soon when Tomlin wrote it but in the inspired word of the living God, soon supposedly means thousands of years?

Jesus is coming soon.
 
Call back the sinner,
Wake up the saint,
Let every nation,
Shout of Your fame,
Jesus is coming soon.
 
Like a bride,
Waiting for her groom,
We’ll be a church,
Ready for You,
Every heart longing for our King,
We sing…
Even so come,
Lord Jesus come.
 
There will be justice,
All will be new,
Your name forever,
Faithful and true,
Jesus is coming soon.
 
So we wait,
We wait for You,
God we wait,
You’re coming soon.
 

How on earth can Tomlin know that Jesus is coming soon? Sure, he’ll appeal to the condition of our world and conclude that it can’t get much worse. But is that really the case? Does he have any understanding of history? Are we truly living in the most horrific times’ mankind has ever experienced? Is it possible that times have been far worse, especially in the first century just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70? And is it possible that the NT reference to “last days” was not speaking about the end of the world but rather the end of the age?  

A King James mistranslation of Matthew 24:3 has created some rather skewed expectations. The disciples asked Jesus when the “end of the age [aion]” and NOT “end of the world [kosmos]” would come. This is absolutely critical. Did you know that there’s not one reference in the NT referring to the “end of the world“?
 
I highly recommend three lectures/sermons which may answer many of your questions. The first is from an Australian pastor, John Alley as he specifically targeted the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24. 
 

The other two come from Bruce Gore who is one of the best teachers in biblical history I’ve ever encountered. These come from his “Apocalypse in Space and Time” series.

Posted in 2nd Coming, Eschatology | Leave a comment

Is Israel the apple of God’s eye?

How many times have you heard someone say, I believe the Jews i.e. modern-day Israel, are God’s chosen people and the apple of God’s eye? In the minds of many, this view is so sacrosanct that to dare question it is to hang one’s toes over the precipice of heresy. Rather emphatically and defiantly, John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel, makes clear that receipt of heavenly blessings is contingent upon the way individuals and nations treat Israel. After quoting Genesis 12:3, Hagee writes, “God has promised to bless the man or nation that blesses the Chosen People. History has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the nations that have blessed the Jewish people have had the blessing of God; the nations that have cursed the Jewish people have experienced the curse of God.” So if you even question Israeli policy, Hagee asserts that you become an enemy of God.

Oddly and contrarily, all those who espouse this popular doctrine known as Christian Zionism put little to no emphasis on the way nations and individuals treat Jesus the Messiah. And I find that somewhat curious, don’t you?

It might be argued that Jesus is central in the Christian Zionist view, but if we listen to those championing this message, rarely is there mention of Jesus in this same context. And I find this rather telling. Perhaps it should be the first sign that something is amiss with this supremely popular doctrine.

So, according to this view of the Bible, the secular nation of Israel (which was founded in 1948), is THE focal point of Bible prophecy. Let me again point out that any doctrine, unwittingly or not, neglecting to make Jesus Christ the centerpiece of both history and prophecy, must be questioned. Admitted or not, intention or not, in the political rhetoric of the Christian Zionist, the supremacy of Jesus Christ has been supplanted by the nation of Israel.

And lest anyone think Hagee stands alone, the late Jerry Falwell, founder of one the largest Christian university in the world, echoed Hagee when he wrote, “I believe that the people of Israel are the chosen people of God.” Not to be outflanked, after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke in 2006, former presidential candidate and founder of CBN, Pat Robertson, made this startling and disturbing declaration, “God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible and he says ‘This is my land,’ and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, ‘No, this is mine.’ … He was dividing God’s land. And I would say, ‘Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U., the United Nations, or the United States of America.’ God says, ‘This land belongs to me.You better leave it alone.'”  

So, not only must we support the nation of Israel and turn a blind eye to the human rights violations it commits, but we must protect the dirt on which the nation rests lest we incur the wrath of God.

The above statements are standard fare within evangelical Christian leadership and not surprisingly, it is also the view held by the majority of the laity in American mega-churches. Given the dominance of Christian Zionism, one might conclude that this doctrine has overwhelming Biblical support. But to the surprise of those who take the time to study this issue on their own, that is not even remotely the case.

You may be shocked to learn that every New Testament usage of the word “chosen” (by God), refers singularly to those who have faith in Christ. And nary once is it mentioned in the context of national Israel or even physical descendants of Abraham, that they are “God’s chosen people”.

So, how in the name of intellectual honesty, have we come to the place where we regard the Jews as “the apple of God’s eye”? It’s as if the New Testament was never written because save for a few cherry-picked verses, there’s not a shred of New Testament support. Neither Jesus nor any New Testament author ever stated or even implied that ethnicity was a Kingdom factor. Matter of fact, Jesus emphatically stated, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. “And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” Does this sound like an endorsement for the Jews continuing to be God’s chosen people? How can one read this and other similar statements in light of what Christian Zionists teach?

It will be developed more thoroughly in the video below, but suffice it to say, the Apostle Paul couldn’t have been clearer in his opposition to Christian Zionism when he wrote, “Even so Abraham BELIEVED GODAND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.”  What about the Jewish birthright, Paul?

Well, just a few verses down Paul added, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…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.”  Therefore, becoming a child of Abraham didn’t/doesn’t involve heritage, birthright or any other physical factor…for we all, both Jew and Gentile Christ-followers, are heirs according to the promise. Today there is neither ethnicity in God’s Kingdom nor is there any advantage to being born with even a fraction of Abraham’s blood. The first century Jews had every advantage (Romans 9:1-5) but it was all for naught since only a remnant (Romans 9:27; 11:5) was to be saved.

And if you think any of the above verses are isolated, let me say gently that you would be wrong. The New Testament overwhelming rebuts the notion that the Jews are God’s chosen people and it resoundingly opposes this idea that the modern nation of Israel must be supported at all cost. The decision to support Israel or any nation for that matter should be made on political and moral grounds irrespective of one’s bloodline.

At this point let me make clear that I am NOT saying that Israel has no right to exist or to defend itself against aggression. That is a false charge that I, and those who side with the Apostle Paul, have been accused of. Simply because I believe Christian Zionism is seriously misguided and cannot be supported Biblically, does not mean that I side with Muslim extremists who wish to drive Israel into the sea. I vehemently oppose ALL aggression, for Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” And this ministry of reconciliation should be the role of all Christians as we bring the good news of the Gospel to all, showing no genetic partiality.

In fleshing out this extremely important issue, let me recommend to you the following lecture from friend and UK rector, Stephen Sizer. He. in my view, did a masterful job of dealing with and exposing the fallacies of Christian Zionism. If you will set aside your presuppositions for just a few minutes, you may be exposed to some ideas that you’ve possibly never considered. Surely, none of us likes change and we even less want to admit being wrong, but after studying this issue a number of years ago, I was forced to alter my view and admit that I had been very wrong. So please keep an open mind. Perhaps this article and the video won’t cause a complete change of mind right now, but it may provide the seeds that may grow into a paradigm alteration.

Let me add that both Stephen and I love the Jewish people just as the apostle Paul did. For in his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh”. Paul was so distraught by the Jews stiff-necked unbelief, that he was willing to be accursed if it meant their salvation. But, and this is a very important distinction: those of us who oppose the doctrine of Christian Zionism don’t love the Jews exclusive of other people groups. Everyone needs the Gospel, no less the Muslim, the Hindu or our mail carrier. 🙂 Jesus Christ has brought His bountiful blessings to the nations, and this includes Israel, but it also includes China, Iran, India and the rest of humanity!

“Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you. So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.” (Galatian 3:6-9)

Anyone, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, deist or agnostic, can become a child of Abraham by faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the focal point of human history and how you treat Jesus Christ will determine whether you will be blessed or cursed eternally.

Posted in Eschatology, Israel, Zionism | Leave a comment

Does anybody really know what time it is?

time-001

Does eschatology matter? Clearly, it’s not a bedrock issue like the atonement, the virgin birth or the deity of Christ, so why waste valuable time studying a doctrine that causes so much conflict and seems to accomplish so little? After all, whether we understand the Biblical view of the end times or not, everything is going pan out the way God intends. So, since brilliant people can’t come to a meaningful consensus, why bother flirting with a subject that seems above most of our pay grades? Wouldn’t it be prudent to simply take the path of least resistance rather than get caught up in all the hype and confusion that accompanies the prevailing eschatological view? After all, who do we think we are, believing that we can discover God’s truth on a subject that those far brighter have been jousting about for centuries? 

Well, perhaps after watching this short video, you’ll begin to appreciate the reasons why eschatology really does matter and why it might be time for you to take a serious look. Maybe it’s not quite as complicated as you’d imagined? And it may turn out to play a far more extensive role in the health and vitality of the Church than you’d ever dreamed…and it might even make a difference in the way you view your future. 

Posted in 2nd Coming, Eschatology | Leave a comment

bin Laden re 9/11 in his own words

I continue to hear people, empowered by conspiratorialists like Alex Jones, claim that ISIL, ISIS or whatever name you choose for the Islamic State, is merely a fabrication of the CIA/Mossad, and that the terror they are accused of spreading, only serves to falsely demonize Muslims. But what about the beheadings? Crisis actors. Yes, that’s correct, they insist that the dead journalists were just part of the illusion. And these same conspiratorialists believe that the U.S. government in consort with Israel, plotted and perpetrated 9/11 and that they, are the greatest dangers to worldwide freedom. 

Now, if you believe or are entertaining such a belief, I’d like to know if you’ve ever taken the time to listen to the words of Osama bin Laden one month after the collapse of the Twin Towers. In this interview, bin Laden not only proudly claimed responsibility for the attacks on New York and Washington, but he openly shared his motivations for masterminding this nefarious plan? 
 
However, the conspiratorialists are not easily fooled. They insist that bin Laden was a mere CIA asset and that he’s simply part of the charade. 
 
I’d like to challenge you to listen carefully to bin Laden, as he clearly enunciates the fact that he is not a pawn of the west, and has only and always represented the interests of Islam. If you think this is a vaudeville act, then you will have no trouble believing just about anything. 
 
Why was America attacked on 9/11? Bin Laden states a number of reasons, one being the U.S. backing of Israel as they’ve treated the Palestinians with contempt. But the bottom line is that bin Laden was no a patsy. Most people won’t watch the interviews, but they will continue to repeat the mantra, “9/11 was an inside job” and then begin to turn reason on its ear. 
*Addendum. All of the videos (posted at the time of this blog article) of the bin Laden interview have been removed by YouTube. But even after watching those videos which went into great detail explaining bin Laden’s motivation perpetrating the attacks, few conspiratorialists will believe him. They will either say that he was part of the false flag CIA-planned attack or that he was scapegoated. 
Following is a nightly news report with bin Laden boldly proclaiming his motivations. Clearly not as thorough as the lengthy interview but nonetheless clear. 

Posted in 9/11, Conspiracy Theory | Leave a comment

Secrets and Conspiracies – never the twain shall meet

The following story is a rather poignant reminder why large-scale conspiracies involving hundreds, if not thousands of people, simply cannot be true. The fact is that people can’t keep their mouths shut… not for long. Even in this small group of highly trained Navy Seals, not all of them kept their traditional oath of silence. When money, fame and/or notoriety are on the line, somebody always chirps.

bin-laden-compound

On Nov. 11 and 12, Fox News Channel will air “The Man Who Killed Usama Bin Laden,” a two-part documentary featuring “an exclusive interview with the Navy SEAL who says he fired the shots that killed terrorist leader Usama Bin Laden,” according to a Fox media release, using an alternate spelling for the jihadi’s name. The retired SEAL, “who will reveal his identity and speak out publicly for the first time, describes the events leading up to and during the historical raid that took place on May 1st, 2011.” (TBO.com)

Though the detail in which “The Shooter” described his assassination of bin Laden seems inappropriate for public consumption, it nonetheless serves to confirm this object lesson. Silence, even in an event confined to a band of brothers, is a virtual impossibility. And this Seal team revelation came to light less than 2 years after the death of bin Laden. 
So when people talk about conspiracy theories on the magnitude of 9/11, where thousands had to have been “in the know”, the chances of long-term silence are extremely slim. It’s simply contrary to human nature, especially in a free society?
 
Recently, a Facebook friend argued that since the BBC reported the collapse of WTC7 (the Solomon Brothers building) in advance of the actual collapse, this was proof that the BBC had prior knowledge. Therefore, in his eyes, this was clear evidence that 9/11 was an inside job, that Larry Silverman (owner of the complex), plus all of the alphabet networks, the CIA, the Mossad, the U.S. military, and many high-level government officials, were all in on the plot. 

So instead of this fellow realizing that on that chaotic day of mass hysteria, reporting was at times confused and downright errant, he chose to believe that thousands knew of the supposed conspiratorial plans to bring down the Twin Towers and WTC 7 through controlled demolition, to wreak havoc on the Pentagon through a missile strike, and to shoot down Flight 93 (that they insist didn’t crash in Shanksville).

As a sidebar, I have always found it absurd for the conspiracists to claim that covert operators within our government issued a stand-down order to the military tasked with protecting U.S. airspace (and especially Washington) and then argue that “Flight 93 was shot down by a missile and disintegrated in midair, scattering the wreckage over a large area.” So, if the intent was to wreak the most havoc possible why shoot Flight 93 down miles away from nowhere? Why not let the airliner hit the White House, Capitol Building or some other equally vital icon? And why, if the military was told to stand-down, would they have shot down Flight 93? It makes no sense to their narrative.

And that’s the point. Conspiracists have a nasty habit of throwing as much conjecture against the wall hoping something will stick. “I just think the official narrative sounds fishy”, they say. Their theories, when taken to their logical extremes, are nonsensical. And in typical fashion, after they realize one particular argument doesn’t fly, they say, “I’m just asking questions.” Asking questions is something we all ought to do regarding every event. We should never take the government’s word for anything. But finding a few anomalies, that on balance are nothing more than what one would expect in a highly fluid catastrophic event (with so many moving parts), does not a conspiracy make. 

Yes, indeed, the 19 hijackers were just a bunch of poor Muslim patsies scapegoated so that the U.S. could muster the moral justification to invade Iraq while ultimately stealing their oil. Or so it has been argued. So why weren’t any of the patsies actually from Iraq? Couldn’t the sociopathic NWO masterminds who were supposedly orchestrating the attack, have managed to throw a few Iraqis into the flight manifests? And why does the U.S. import a lesser percentage of oil post-Gulf War than it did while Hussein was in power? These menacing little factoids don’t matter to the true believer.  
 
Further, consider this. Why would the triumvirate of Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld have used four planes (two to strike the Twin Towers, one to merely fly over the Pentagon, and one to shoot down), as some sort of magician’s misdirection? Why not crash all four planes into hard targets to create the most damage?   
 
A friend, deep into the rabbit hole, scolded me, “Use your HEAD, man!” As if I was the one who was living in a dream world void of reality. But using my head is quite frankly what eventually woke me from my conspiratorial stupor. Instead of watching one propaganda flick which is riddled with lies and half-truths, I began to do some serious research. I decided to be a Berean and not simply believe what I’d been told. And so, after reading thousands of website pages and viewing the video evidence in detail, I climbed out of the rabbit hole and left the cozy confines of conspiracism.  
The bottom line is that people will believe whatever is necessary to confirm their bias. And even when confronted with the improbability of their conspiracy theory, undaunted they simply ignore the evidence, get verbally aggressive and move on to force the next square peg anomaly into their conspiratorial round hole. Anything to make the world less complex. 
 
So this latest Seal shooter revelation is further proof that massive conspiracies are as improbable as a snowy day in San Francisco. People don’t keep secrets even in the most well-confined events, much less the 9/11 granddaddy of them all. 
 
My recommendation? Break down every conspiracy claim and determine if it can stand on its own merit. Don’t fall prey to allowing the massive number of bogus claims overwhelm you. A hundred false claims do not the truth make.   
One concluding thought. For goodness sake, don’t watch one clever YouTube vid and believe you have all the facts. One of the guys obsessed with 9/11 being an inside job, did just that. He actually made the following statement which he believed was proof that WTC 7 had to have been collapsed by controlled demolition. “Your video [which simply showed the WTC 7 collapse in real time] shows NADA of this. NOTHING ON TOP OF THIS BUILDING absolutely NOTHING because they were turned into DUST!!!”

I don’t mean to sound unkind, but this is complete nonsense, devoid of reality. The slick “Loose Change” movie producers, using carefully selected video clips, led this dear brother to believe that the Twin Towers were basically vaporized into what conspiracists like John Lear and Judy Wood refer to as nano-dust. How could they come to this conclusion if they watched ANY of the video footage of the collapse? 

Watch the following to see the kind of “nano-dust” that fell to the ground during the collapse. They hauled away massive amounts of steel, but the revisionist’s theories are so compelling to the uninformed, they don’t even do a cursory fact check. 

Conspiracism is a rabid form of cynicism that is not serving us well. It’s both crippling and debilitating, and it causes such a severe malaise that one is left feeling disenfranchised and helpless. Ultimately people remove themselves from the political process believing that their vote and voice are worthless. Clearly, our government is seriously flawed. And yes, it conceals far more than it ought. But blaming the government for things done by terrorists is not only unhealthy but it’s intellectually dishonest. Don’t allow a small group of cyber-conspiracists to control the debate. Think for yourself.

Posted in 9/11, Conspiracy Theory | Leave a comment

Does Bill Gates want Depopulation through vaccines and health care?

A FB friend posted a snippet of a 2010 Bill Gates’ speech, “Innovating to Zero”, where Gates essentially outlined what he believed are grave environment problems that will guarantee cataclysmic results. He specifically referenced global warming through greenhouse gas emissions as the main culprit. One of his methods to reduce C02 is through global Population (P in the equation below) reduction. Though I have serious issues with Gates’ alarmist environmental claims (which I dealt with in a prior blog), my intent here is to focus on one particular facet of a statement which I shall quote in a moment. 
 
Because the amount of CO2 emitted correlates to world population (with developed countries emitting far more of the environmental load), Gates briefly mentioned ways to reduce the projected world population (currently at 6.8B headed to 9B), including “reproductive health services” i.e. abortion and contraception, and also the vaccine initiatives. Following is the exact quote from the lecture. 

“Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we lower that [the population] by perhaps 10 or 15 percent”. (article HERE, video below) 

Did you catch that? One can certainly understand how abortion and contraception lower world population, but how in the world can new vaccines and better health services also shrink population. Aren’t vaccines designed to prevent disease? 
 
Well, not according to the way Natural News and the many other conspiratorial-minded websites, interpreted Gates’ intentions. Natural News reposted just the first 3 minutes of the 30-minute lecture and changed the title to, Bill Gates Wants Depopulation Through Vaccines and Health Care.” And off they went with their NWO (New World Order) diatribe accusingdavos_bill_gates-jpeg Mr. Microsoft of plotting to wipe out millions. But is that truly what Gates meant by the above statement? Even if that was his intent, would he be so brazen to telegraph his diabolical plan to kill off half the world? 
 
Though I couldn’t disagree with Gates more on his bogus global warming assertions, and I despise (is that a harsh enough word?) his pro-abortion initiatives, anyone with a modicum of common sense should have known that Gates, in that 2010 speech, was not talking about euthanizing large population centers with some sort of killer drug disguised as a vaccine. Talk about confirmation bias!

Admittedly, though he sounded a bit like Mr. Hyde with some severely demented logic, he was essentially saying that reducing infant deaths by using vaccines and providing better health care, reduces a family’s fears of losing their children through disease. Therefore, he argued, that they’re not as apt to have as many children to compensate for the expected infant deaths. And given the following stats, one need not wonder why. 

  • Diphtheria–760,000 deaths
  • Hepatitis B–12,700,000 deaths
  • Measles–96,700,000 deaths
  • Meningitis-21,900,000 deaths
  • Polio–130,000 deaths (and who knows how many permanently crippled)
  • Smallpox–400,000,000 deaths (yes, 400 million)
  • Tetanus–37,000,000 deaths
  • Whooping cough–38,100,000 deaths
Gates wrote in his 2009 Annual Letter, that a surprising but critical fact [is] that reducing the number of [infant] deaths actually reduces population growth.”
 
He continued by explaining the theory that “parents will have more children when infant mortality is high, so as to ensure that several children will survive to take care of them as they grow old.”
 
Furthering that argument in a 2008 CNN interview, he said, “If you improve health in a society … surprisingly, population growth goes down. And that’s because a parent needs to have some children survive into adulthood to take care of them when they’re old. And so, if they think having six children is what they need to do to have at least two survive, that’s what they’ll do. And amazingly, across the entire world, as health improves, then the population growth actually is reduced.”
 
If Natural News had done a simple internet search or called the Gates Foundation directly, they would have preempted this false accusation. And if my friend would have done the same, it would have saved them the embarrassment of propagating a falsehood. One has to wonder if Natural News chose to close their eyes or if they simply wanted to believe the lie since it confirmed their bias against the nefarious “they”. This kind of bogus reporting, which seems all too typical of Natural News and similar conspiratorial “watchdog” organizations, makes the many Christians who share their blogs look rather foolish. But this raises the wider question about vaccines. Are they as dangerous, and are they’re makers as evil as they’re made out to be. 
 
Consider the fact that Small Pox, Polio, and Influenza have killed and crippled hundreds of millions. Do Natural News and the anti-vaxers really want to return to those days? It has been estimated that nearly 1.7 billion people have died from infectious diseases. Though Dr. Mercola points out that the Gates Foundation vaccination programs are not necessarily what malnourished, dehydrated, children living in squalor, need, vilifying Bill Gates as some sort of a sociopathic monster waging a murderous population control campaign through the use of vaccines, is libelous and irresponsible. Natural News and others who spread this disinformation ought to be ashamed of themselves.

If we don’t do a better job of holding these kinds of organizations accountable, we’re going to continue to look like fools to the world… and not for the right reasons. And the Gospel’s proliferation will be compromised simply because too many Christians are passing along these errant stories lessening our credible by the day.
 
In closing, let me leave you with some food for thought about vaccines. I apologize in advance for the occasional foul language in the following video, but I offer it to you to dispel some of the anti-vaccine rhetoric that I continue to hear. In my view, too much of what we take at face value from the alternative medicine community is poorly researched. Though I put little trust in traditional medicine in dealing with cancer and immune disorders, I’ve found that I was throwing too many babies out with the bath water. As Bereans, we tend to disbelieve anything and everything coming out of the establishment, but I have found this to be imprudent. Everything should be studied on a case by case basis. Vaccines are no different than anything else.
Posted in Alex Jones, Conspiracy Theory, Vaccines | Leave a comment