Monday, April 27, 2009

As Sure As Hell



 The doctrine of hell has come under attack by liberal theology, along with so many other doctrines (essentially all of the fundamental teachings of scripture are questioned at best, or even ridiculed at worst).

Yet Jesus taught about hell just as He did about heaven, so why is the existence of hell even questioned among professing Christians? Some suggest that hell is merely an allegory, and not a literal place or state of being; others believe that hell is only temporary, that the souls that are condemned to that place will eventually be annihilated, and their suffering will come to an end. I hope to prove both of these statements are in error.

Please understand that this is a topic I'd rather not address; there are a lot of other topics I'm eager to get into! However, I am concerned that people are down playing or even denying the existence of this horrid place of doom. What are we saved from, if not hell: the terrible consequence of unrepentant sin and souls that have not come to the LORD Jesus for the atonement of such?

It's my desire to hit this head on, deal with what the scripture says, and hopefully help others to perceive that this is a very real dilemma of souls hanging in the balance between eternal life and eternal death.

Let's get into some statements that the LORD Jesus Himself said:

MATT 18:3-9 
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast [them] from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast [it] from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

Note that the LORD Jesus speaks of heaven firstly, and one of the qualifications of entrance He mentioned was humbleness, as a little child; such would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

The LORD takes seriously the well being of His own, particularly where 'the little ones' are concerned. And who are these little ones? Certainly they are, of course, little children; yet I believe a second application could be those who are 'young in the faith' those who are spiritually speaking, children: those who aren't yet mature in the faith, those who are recently born of God's Spirit and subsisting on the milk of the Word (HEB 5:13, 1 PET 2:2).

To offend one of these is reprehensible in the sight of God, indeed a grievous sin, punishable by damnation "everlasting fire" and "hell fire".

The word "offend" here is 'skandalizo' in the Greek, and it means "to entrap, to trip up, to entice to sin, apostasy, to cause one to mistrust one to whom they should trust and obey."

The LORD Jesus goes on to say that if our hands, feet, or eyes should offend us, then we should cut them off, pluck them out! Now is He endorsing self mutilation? Does He literally mean that we should amputate ourselves as a means of ridding us of temptation and sin? The alteration of one's body would have no more effect on our propensity to sin, than if we were to tattoo crosses and pictures of Jesus and scripture verses on them in order to make us more holy.

What Jesus is here implying is that if there is anything that is causing us to be drawn away from God and into sinful practises, we should be drastic in our response to that particular influence, even if its something that we value highly, or cherish as something we esteem.

For example, alcohol; if we love our beer (wine, whiskey, etc) and it leads us into behavior that is sinful, we should cut it off! What?! One might say, But I love my beer! I have liberty in Christ you know! All things are lawful!

Yes, but not all things edify! And while some may argue that drinking alcohol is not prohibited in the Bible, its not to be so mentioned among elders of the church, nor are deacons to be given to "much wine" (1TIM 3:2-19).

And the Bible expressly prohibits being drunk!

EPH 5:18 
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit

Others might watch sexually explicit material on late night cable station shows, and fall into lustful sin; they should cancel their cable subscription if such is a weakness of theirs. Cancel my cable?! Are you crazy? What am I going to do about my sports?!

If alcohol or cable tv offends you, cut it off, better to enter into heaven w/o the influences of these sinful practises in your heart, then to allow them to take you over and prevent you from walking in holiness.

I'm not endorsing salvation by works here, but simply desiring to show that for any one who is approaching the kingdom of God, and desires entrance, there needs to be a demonstation of genuine repentance. One of them is a willingness to leave behind one's old life style, and a willingness in denying one self, indeed, dying to self so that Christ may be born in you, creating eternal life within your spirit. For the saint, cutting away at sinful practices will remove obstacles so that we may more freely walk in the Spirit.

If we don't mortify the flesh, die to sin, and self; effectively 'cutting away that which entices us to sin' we will succumb to our sin nature and disobey God's Holy Law, and thus incur just retribution on Judgment Day for the lost. This will result in perdition and hell. For the saint, it means a lack of reward at the Bema Seat (2 COR. 5:10).

"everlasting fire" and "hell fire" are two terms that the LORD Jesus used here in this passage; what do they literally refer to?

"everlasting fire" means the following in the original Greek:
everlasting - aionios - perpetual (past, present and future), eternal (42x in NT), everlasting (25x).

fire - pur - in various applications, can re: natural sources as fire and lightening, also can refer to the holiness of God, angels as in ministers of flaming fire; tries the saints, and produces that which glories God; can also refer to divine judgment on those who reject Christ.

hell - Hinnom - as in the valley of; the English word for 'hell' comes from an old Teutonic root, meaning "to hide, or to cover over". The valley of Hinnom itself is located SW of Jerusalem and was the official site of pagan worship of the god Molech. Sacrifices of children were made to Molech in this place, the infant was laid in the brass arms of the idol which was heated until red hot, and the baby literally fried to death in this barbaric ritual (2 CHRON 28:3).

In the days of Jesus this area was a refuse heap that was perpetually burning with trash from the city.

Some would deny the existence of hell based on the meaning of this word "hell" as used by the LORD Jesus. They would point out, accurately, that this referred to the valley of Hinnom, and to the refuse that burned continually.

Yet in the context of what the LORD Jesus was saying, IF indeed that's what He meant by His warnings, it doesn't make any sense! Those guilty of sin, of offending His little ones, of those who refuse to repent and come to Christ are going to be relinquished over to a junk yard?!

He spoke of heaven and its a literal place/state of existence that saints will enjoy forever; it's not metaphorical, or allegorical. Yet in the same breath, He also speaks of hell. Again, why would we assume that the former is real and that the latter is not?

People dismiss hell and any words that the LORD Jesus had to say about them as being mere allegory. Yet even Webster's defines an 'allegory' as:

1. the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence also an instance (as in a story or painting) of such expression
2. a symbolic representation : emblem

Thus if what Jesus taught about hell was a mere allegory, what was it an allegory of? With such a so called fictional representation of hell being spoken of by the LORD, what was the literal counterpart He was referring to?

I believe He was indeed using the Valley of Hinnom as an allegory, or analogy, to represent the literal place of torment that souls will have to face and endure for all eternity based on their refusal to receive salvation by Christ Jesus and He alone, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.
Atheists and skeptics snicker at the idea of a loving God sending people to hell. “What sort of love is that? Either you love Me or I will send you to hell?”

They have it backwards however: 

JOHN 3:16-19
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Note vs. 18: It states that those who do not believe in the Son of God are already condemned. They don't 'get condemned' once they reject Christ; they already are! In God's merciful compassion He reached out in the Person of Jesus Christ, intercepting lost souls that are rushing on their way into hell fire, offering salvation and rescue. For those who reject this Holy offer, they merely continue unabated, undisturbed, on their way to their eternal destiny.

In MARK 3:29 it says:
But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:

He again refers to a place that is eternal in nature; the word used here for 'eternal' is the same as the last passage 'aionios'; the Greek word used for 'damnation' is as follows:

'krisis' - tribunal, justice, specifically divine law, accusation, condemnation, damnation, judgment.

The nature of this damnation is eternal, not temporal; if the soul were to be annihilated, they would no longer be subject to damnation as a result of judgment, thus it couldn't be eternal. Scripture indicates that it is.

LUKE 3:17 states: 
Whose fan [is] in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

John the Baptist, endorsed by the LORD Jesus Himself, as the greatest prophet of all prophets, declares that the JUDGE, that is the LORD Jesus Himself is coming to winnow the Earth, that is, separate the wheat from the chaff; that the wheat will be safely stored and the chaff burned with fire unquenchable. This coincides with the teachings of the Sower of the Seed, only there the LORD is sowing; here, He is reaping.

2 THESS 1:7-9 is a passage where Paul tells us of the Second Coming of Christ and what this entails:
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

The LORD Jesus is taking vengeance on those who:

~ Know not God
~ Obey not the gospel of our LORD Jesus Chris
~ They shall be punished with everlasting destruction

JOHN 17:3
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent

Knowing God personally, as our heavenly Father, in a spiritual relationship is eternal life in as much as God Himself is eternal life!

Again, the word used for everlasting is 'aionios' referring to eternal destruction.

Some who ascribe to the belief of annihilation say, See? It says destruction! The soul won't survive for long in hell, it's going to be destroyed, scripture says so!

Unfortunately such is not the case, for if you examine 'destruction' in the Greek, it says the following:

olethros - destroy, ruin, death, punishments, and 'punishments' itself refers to: execution of a sentence passed, vengeance, to pay a price, penalty. And so this term for destruction doesn't refer to annihilation or total destruction, but ruination.

Its the difference between a building that had been demolished by a demolition company, and so totally destroyed, and another building that caught fire, and was terribly burned, but while still standing,  remains unusable.

Or think of two cell phones: one you smash into tiny pieces with a sledge hammer; the other you drop into water. Both are destroyed, but whereas the former is completely destroyed, the latter is ruined, but still retains its form.

Olethros also means 'death' one might protest, and if one is dead, one no longer exists! Well, we shall see about this a bit later.

2 PET 2:9
The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

"punished" here means 'kolazo' in the Greek:

"to chastise, to punish, and to be punished-being punished" a strange phrase in our English, but it connotes the idea that of perpetual punishments, never ending.

REV 14: 9- 11 says the following:
And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive [his] mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

They have no rest day or night, this punishment is without ceasing, and there is no indication that it has a terminus at all.

Many accurately point out that the term "hell" in NT (Greek) and OT (Hebrew) scriptures refer merely to a place of departed souls, that is "sheol" in the Hebrew and "hades" in the Greek; an oft used term for both of these is 'grave' and another is 'death' and that these have absolutely nothing to do with a lake of fire or eternal torments.

Agreed, they do not!

However . . . REV 20:14-15 emphatically states:
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

"death" here is 'thanatos' in the Greek, and it means:

"death, separation of the soul from the body"

The soul is consigned to this lake of fire, and yet what fire can have an influence on a soul, something that itself is intangible? Thus the fire itself must be something other than a physical fire which would certainly, eventually consume any substance given the power of the fire and the substance it's consuming.

As well as can be said for Satan and his angels who will one day be subjected to the punishment of the Lake of Fire; yet all angels are non-corporeal beings with no (necessarily) solid form. Yet scripture is abundantly clear that this is a place reserved for the devil and all his followers:

MATT 25:41
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels

Can intangible souls and spirits be consumed as natural substances can? Does scripture imply that those consigned to the lake of fire will eventually be eradicated by those flames?

MATT 23:15 states:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

The word used here for "child" was rather surprising in its meaning:

huios - "son" the word stresses the quality and essence of one so resembling the other (in this case, the child resembling their residence) that they are indistinguishable. This word refers to legitimate children, as opposed to illegitimate. This would suggest that those 'children' are those who are as horrible, rebellious, depraved, and as ungodly as the place in which they dwell, thus fitting of their habitat.

Their destiny corresponds with the character, whether in an evil capacity (1 THESS. 5:5; JOHN 8:44) or a good capacity (1 JOHN 4:4; EPH. 5:8).

MARK 9:43-44 is a rather puzzling passage:
And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

What is this business of these worms, if they have no more bodies? Could they be given some form of body that will endure the ravages of the lake of fire? That would seem unlikely based on what scripture states elsewhere, but there are these worms that in the Greek, refer to 'Skolex' worms, specifically, those that feed on dead flesh.

Its my contention that these worms are somewhat figurative but by analogy refer to the state of being of those that they 'feed' on, that is, they die not because those that they are feeding on, die not. Everything I looked at in my reference materials was not forthcoming with any illumination of this passage, and I would welcome any input on this.

LUKE 12:5 states:
But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

Note that word: "after". After judgment and the person is 'killed' God retains the power, ability, authority, legitimate right to cast . . . (what? if not a body that's been slain, then a soul? spirit?) into hell.

The parallel passage in MATT 10:28 seems to confirm this:
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

"destroy" is 'apollumi' in the Greek:

"destroy, fully perish, ruination; the idea is not extinction but ruin, loss - not of being, but of well-being."

Once the LORD Jesus Christ returns and the Judgment of nations, and souls begins, it seems the first to be cast alive into the Lake of Fire is the Beast (anti-Christ) and the False Prophet (REV 19:20). Others are judged and consigned to their respective places of either heaven or hell, and Satan himself is only imprisoned in 'the abyss' and this lasts for 1,000 yrs.

Note what happens when Satan is loosed, and finally has sentence passed on him:

REV 20:7, 10
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

The term used there again is aionios: perpetual, eternal, everlasting.

After one thousand years passes the Beast and the False prophet are still there, they haven't been consumed, or annihilated. Indeed, this is the second death where those condemned are seperated from the presence of the LORD's Spirit forever, a complete and total vacuum of God's presence, the only source of Life, yet they retain their conscience existence.

Other verses that speak of eternal death are:

GEN 2:17 - Here God tells Adam that the day that he eats of the forbidden fruit he SHALL SURELY die, and yet when he eats of it, what happens? He doesn't keel over and die, yet God said he surely would!
So how did he then die?
It was a spiritual death; thus the need for Christ to come, die for our sins, infuse all who believe in Him with eternal life, and for those who don't receive Christ, they are yet spiritually dead.

Even so, they are still aware and congitive of their environment, as are all human beings; we exist in a natural reality, but because of sin and its resulting influence on us, that of spiritual death, we are unable to perceive and know God, apart from spiritual regeneration.

This state of spiritual death will continue for those who die without a saving knowledge of Christ; they will be aware of their hellish environment, but still, spiritually dead.

ROM 6:23; JAMES 1:15; 5:20; REV 21:8; MATT 13:42

And from the Old Testament:

DEUT. 32:22; JOB 11:7-8; 26:6; PSALM. 9:17; 55:15; 86:13; ISAIAH 33:14 and ISAIAH 66:24.

Those that disregard the reality of hell insist that any God Who would do such a thing is barbaric, unloving and unjust. They fail to realize three very important truths:

1) The absolute, immutible, eternal and pure holiness of God.
2) The lethal, baneful, destructive, and reprehensible ugliness and offensiveness of sin.
3) The LORD Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all the sins of the world so that no human being would have to go there, and to refuse salvation in Christ is to refuse this offer of escaping GOD's HOLY JUDGEMENT and entering into His grace!

Sin is 'high treason' against the very holy throne of God; it's punishment is measured out by the eternal God according to His eternal Law, and therefore is in itself an eternal action – the deadly domain of hell! On the one hand, GOD is LOVE and desires all to be saved from sin, but GOD is also HOLY and must judge sin according to His Holy Nature.

This has certainly been the most unpleasant of all topics, but I felt it was necessary to answer those who would deny this fundamental doctrine, and its my sincerest hope and prayer that we ALL . . . including myself, work fervantly in our prayers and in seeking to share the Gospel with as many souls as we can before we are called home to eternity.

It is also my prayer that any and all who are unsure of their own salvation, would make their salvation sure, by examining their hearts, and why they believe they are saved.

For any who are interested in learning how I came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, please refer to an older entry on this blog, FROM THE MIND OF FIRE entitled: CAN I GET A WITNESS?

may the LORD Jesus bless all of you Saints, WAY TOO MUCH!

ASLEEP IN THE LIGHT

Do you see, do you see? All the people sinking down!
Don't you care, don't you care? Are you gonna let them drown?
How can you be so numb? Not to care if they come?
You close your eyes, And pretend the job's done!

"Oh bless me Lord, bless me Lord" You know it's all I ever hear!
No one aches, no one hurts, No one even sheds one tear!
But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds!
And He cares for your needs,

And you just lay back, And keep soaking it in!
Oh, can't you see it's such a sin?
Cause He brings people to you door, And you turn them away,
As you smile and say, "God bless you, be at peace" And all heaven just weeps!

Cause Jesus came to your door . . . You've left him out on the streets.
Open up, open up! And give yourself away!
You see the need, you hear the cries, So how can you delay?
God's calling and you're the one!
But like Jonah you run!

He's told you to speak. But you keep holding it in,
Oh can't you see it's such a sin?

The world is sleeping in the dark, That the church just can't fight
Cause it's asleep in the light! How can you be so dead?
When you've been so well fed!
Jesus rose from the grave. And you! You can't even get out of bed!

Oh, Jesus rose from the dead, Come on, get out of your bed!
How can you be so numb?
Not to care if they come?
You close your eyes,

And pretend the job's done!
You close your eyes,
And pretend the job's done!
Don't close your eyes!
Don't pretend the jobs done!

Come away, come away, come away with Me, My love,
Come away, from this mess, come away with Me, My love.

Friday, April 24, 2009

INVASION OF THE “BODY” SNATCHERS?




Hello Everyone!

We have something special today! A blog entry not written by yours truly (is that applause I hear??), but by a good friend and dear Sister in the faith; someone I've known for more than the entire duration of my Christian experience (I've been in the faith almost 30 yrs! - - - where has the time gone?).

I've always admired her zeal, determination and single-minded love and passion in and for Christ Jesus our LORD.

So with out further ado, let's hear what the Spirit would tell us re: this INVASION of the BODY SNATCHERS:

The Unrecognizable Form That The Church Has Taken On

We are living in the age of deceit. The whole world is being driven by the deceit and lies of Satan and those who belong to him. Good is evil and evil is now good, acceptable, politically correct and now thanks to our very own Government forced down our throats.

From the time of our founding Fathers and the shaping of our Constitution, when once we placed high value on liberty and truth and justice for all, our country stood for Faith in the One True God, and lived a lifestyle that was a testament to Him. Our laws were drafted after the laws of the living Word of God. The Declaration of Independence declares our inalienable rights, incapable of being repudiated or forfeited because they were given by God.

"In God We Trust" was printed on our currency during the time of the Civil War, but even extends further back to the War of 1812, when Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner . . .
Fourth Verse:


Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home and the war's desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!



America: it was the home and refuge from tyranny where one could live in freedom and peace. People by the thousands began their pilgrimage to this new world and this new life. But like everything in this world, we are watching it come to an end.

As the many thousands from every corner of the earth entered this new land, so did their cultures and their gods. Soon America was a haven for everyone and everything. So as the people go, so does our government and our laws, our morals, our values and our faith.

II Timothy 4:3-4

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

. . . But what about the Church? Christianity was once the primary influence in our new society, but no longer; just as we read in the Bible that the people forsook their God and replaced Him with false ones. New ideas became the craze. We became enamored with the intellectuals in our society as they developed new doctrines for us. The new doctrines of materialism, communism, humanism, socialism, evolution and atheism and the like have all influenced our morals and replaced our Christian values.

We now live in a multi-cultural society. We are forced into “opening up” our minds to the wave of new ideas and lifestyles and have abandoned our love and pursuit for truth and for God. We are now being poised for the New Age, the New World Order and a false sense of peace, unity and “community”.

Many of our Evangelical Churches who have been strong Bible believing Christians, are now working on behalf of Satan. They are those who are undermining the Word of God and denying its power and authority. Why do they feel the need to re-invent God?

There is an open assault, an all out war on God and the authority of His Word. What is this new theology that demands Almighty God, The Lord and Creator of Heaven and Earth to bow and conform to our sinful ways? Scripture admonishes us saints to not be conformed, how much less would God!

Romans 12:2

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”


GOD IS GOD AND HE ALONE IS WORTHY OF OUR ADORATION AND PRAISE.

. . . But what about the Church? We no longer have time for Bible reading, instruction of the Word or family devotions. Many can’t seem to find the time to go to church. We have our jobs, our careers, our schooling our activities. Like the song goes, “everybody’s work’n for the weekend” and the weekends are OURS. It's time for us to relax, play and live a little. Yes this is the “World’s” standard, but sadly it has become the “Church’s” standard of life as well.

. . . But what about the Church? Godly parenting has been replaced by the teachers union and public schooling which has been stealing our American youth from their Christian heritage for years. Prayer and the Bible have been replaced with Darwin and the monkey!

(Just a note to our Christian kids, if you attend a public school, be strong in your faith, a light in the darkness. Be bold, be courageous for you have the power of God on your side, and that power can lead your friends and teachers to Christ. We are with you and we pray for you without ceasing!)
Television, Hollywood, and the news media all prefer to form public opinion rather than just report the facts and are heavily influencing the moral fiber of this country and our youth’s future. Have you noticed even the cartoons and commercials depict parents, or any authority figure as being stupid buffoons. Our youth have had a steady diet of disregard, selfishness and disrespect. This indoctrination has produced a whole generation that has no healthy fear or respect for parents or authority figures. They have been taught just the opposite. How then can our youth ever have a healthy reverence for God or His Word?

The age of technology with all of its computers, Internet, email, iPods, cell phones, texting, twittering, blogging and video-games have become the babysitters of our youth. Where are the parents? Who is supervising? Who is watching, protecting and instructing this next generation, our future parents and leaders?

Remember the old saying, “Parents do you know where your children are?” Hmmm . . .

We are watching this country in a moral free fall, . . . but what about the Church? What has become of the Church?

Why is it that the Church no longer has the influential lead in this world? Why is the world such a heavy influence in the Church?

It’s like the movie "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers".

There is something evil lurking about ready to take over the world and our lives as we know it, yet no one seems to be aware or even care for that matter.

I believe that it is Satan’s plan to neutralize the Christian Church, who is the Body of Christ, by putting us to sleep, spiritually and morally. I believe many have lost their Holy zeal, their love for God and for His truth, their spiritual alertness, and the ability to discern between good and evil.

His distractions are succeeding, because we have left God out. We don’t pray in earnest, we don’t read and study the Word of God. Many have grown weary in well doing, grown complacent in action, and the end result is an inactive, ineffective and impotent Church, open prey for Satan and all of his deception.

[I am reminded of the scripture where the LORD Jesus speaks of us, His church, being salt and light:Mat 5:13 "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." J.Fire.]

Romans 13:11-14
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.”


Wake Up! Sound the alarms! Satan has infiltrated the Church!

If your church building caught on fire, would you not sound the alarm bells to warn and to help save those whose lives were in danger?

It is time to stand up, just as the old hymn resounds, “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross.” Lift up that royal banner; don’t wait for someone else to do it.

“He who hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.” Revelation 2:7a
I really believe that it is our calling to seek out those who are lost, those who are straying, those who are deceived and being deceived, and bring them to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Isn't it our responsibility to know the Word, to share the Word, to correct the error, and to make plain the truth of God’s Word?

I’ve heard it said that, “Satan is changing the vocabulary of the Church and gutting the very Word of God,” and we allow it. Why?

Just take a look at the new translations of the Bible, they’ve been perverted and twisted and are almost unrecognizable.

Our teachers don’t teach the Word anymore, preachers aren’t preaching it, even worse, the “so called” Bible Scholars of today have changed it, corrupted it in the guise of making it “more user friendly” “socially acceptable” “politically correct”.

Our churches are filled with social clubs, activity, entertainment, great music, drama, and yes . . . even coffee and donut breaks between worship and the teaching of the Word. I was dumbfounded at the lack of respect and reverence for the Lord and the teaching of His Word while visiting a local church that thought that this was a great idea. No one seemed to sense the grieving of the Holy Spirit because we have become so desensitized.
We’ve been told that we are in a “New Age”. “Change is necessary.”

I say that we are at the end of the Age and it is our hearts and lives that need to be changed. The New Age Theology has infiltrated the Church? Why? Where is all this New Age theology coming from? Who is teaching it? Do we know the doctrines of the Bible? Do we know whose word is being taught, man’s word or God’s Word? Do we know to search the Scriptures and prove all things whether they come from God (1Th 5:21)?

We have lowered the bar of truth for political correctness, and those who have not been born-again by the Spirit of the living God are preaching in our pulpits, and we’re listening? Why? The immorality of this world has gained access to the Church without a fight. Why? There are homosexuals preaching from the pulpit, who tell God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth that He’s wrong and they’re right. Excuse me?

Pastors are now teaching GOD’S FLOCK that the Bible, God’s very own Word, can’t be trusted or believed. It is a mere metaphor, a suggestion open for discussion and debate. Hello?!After all "it's more important that we have a sense of unity and community” than the actual truth of the Bible. What?!

I read the following quote in an article entitled “The Battle over Truth for Our Youth”, that was published by The Berean Call [readers note: The Berean Call, ministry of Dave Hunt and Tom McMahon, is available on this blog under "Spiritual Chow" - J. Fire.] They quote Brian McLaren, who is an author and leader in the Emergent Church:

“The church latched on to that old doctrine of original sin like a dog to a stick, and before you knew it, the whole gospel got twisted around it. Instead of being God’s big message of saving love for the whole world, the gospel became a little bit of secret information on how to solve the pesky legal problem of original sin.”

“I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be saved?. . . None of us arrived at orthodoxy.”

Well Brian, what are we saved from? SIN!

The Bible is clear, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.” Romans 6:23

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17
It’s as plain as day to me . . . what about you?

Are we shaking our heads in disbelief or disgust? Is this all we can do? Do we run? Do we hide? Do we stand back and do nothing, because the end of all things must come, for God said that it would?

Lying Signs and Wonders Are Coming. As the wall of truth is being torn down a “new wall of understanding and interpreting truth” is being put up. The foundation wall of the Church is cracking and is being built on quick sand.

It is “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, ALL other ground is sinking sand” . . . for we can build on no other foundation than Jesus Christ. He is our Chief Cornerstone (Eph 2:20, 1Pe 2:6).

One saint put it like this,

“There are souls who are hurting and hungry for God who are NOT exercised in the Word of God to discern truth from lie. They have not been taught how to “try the spirits, to see whether they be of God”. They will seek an EXPERIENCE with God, but truth cannot protect them, because it has not been established IN them.” [AMEN!! - J. Fire]
As my Pastor so aptly put it,

“I cannot help but think that this grand deception of the last days is a grand distraction because of the subtleties of its author. Satan focuses the “new" church on entertainment, social issues, political correctness, tolerance, and unity while the truth is forsaken (Phl 3:10-19).

Like the wheel that squeaks loudest gets the most oil, and the loudest voice draws attention; yet that "still small voice" is overlooked and shouted down. Our attention is distracted by media headlines, and headliners. While the prophecies of end-times get hidden away in some dark closet (like they're to be put away for a rainy day), in the midst of their fulfillment, there is now ignorance about them in the midst of a deluge! It's time for us all to be Josiahs, proclaiming God's Word to the best of our abilities.”

What do we do? PUT ON ALL YOUR ARMOUR!
Ephesians 6:10-18
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

(Be courageous, determined, with an iron resolution in the LORD! Not by our own determined willpower, for without Him you can do nothing, but by the power of His might, by the Spirit of the Living God. “Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit saith the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6 Remember David, a shepherd boy who could defy Goliath with a slingshot? God is the author and finisher of our faith and we must draw our strength from Him.)

"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

(The armour must be put on and it is to be worn and lived in. Abide in the Him and He in you. Every duty of the Christian demands constant effort so that we may remain on alert and that we are not caught unaware of the wiles of the devil. For Satan comes to rob, to steal and to destroy.)

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

(Satan hates us, accuses us, tempts us and seeks to destroy us. God loves us, pardons us, and takes care of our every need according to His riches in glory. The spiritual “Mafia” as Chuck Missler puts it, “Spiritual warfare is not only a matter of contending against godless philosophers, crafty gurus, Christ-denying cultists and neo-pagan rulers, but against a highly organized army of demonic forces and battalions of fallen angels.”

II Corinthians 10:3-4, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”)


"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."

(We cannot stand without the whole armour of God; we are no match for the devil. In order to stand and fight we must be completely armed.)


"Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth and having on the breastplate of righteousness;"

(Truth must be in our hearts, our soul and our minds. The Truth is God’s Word and His ability to fulfill all of His promises through Jesus Christ. Integrity, uprightness, living right in our personal lives in obedience to God’s Word protects our hearts, which ultimately protects our very lives.)

"And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;"

(You can’t walk the Christian path, run the race to win, or fight in the war without a good pair of shoes. We cannot endeavor to win the world for Christ without the Gospel of hope, salvation and peace.)


"Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."

(Do you have any doubts? Seek God diligently. You cannot have faith in someone you don’t know. You cannot completely trust someone that you don’t have a relationship with. Our faith is in God alone. Does your faith need to increase? Get to know your God, spend time with Him, learn from Him, speak with Him, and listen. “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17)

"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

(This is the Believer’s complete assurance and faith in eternal security which is sealed by the Holy Spirit, a Written Guarantee! The sword of the Spirit is The Word of God. Jesus used the Word in the wilderness against the temptations of Satan. “The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12)

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”

(Prayer is vital! Be diligent in prayer. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16b)

[I remember Charles Finney, a 19th century evangelist and pastor led a small band of reporters to his church basement when he was asked what the secret of his revivals was; with a finger pressed to his lips, and his hand on a door knob, he quietly opened a door to reveal dozens of Christians, on their knees, praying fervantly. When he slowly closed the door and led the reporters some distance away, he said, "That is my secret to revival, gentlemen; this is our weapon against Satan our great enemy!" One reporter smiled in a patronizing fashion and asked, "Mr. Finney, do you honestly believe in a devil?" The evangelist settled his steely gaze on the reporter and said, "Let me tell you something young man! You try resisting Satan, and you'll find out just how literal he is!" - J. Fire]


I exhort you to watch, and earnestly contend for the faith that was delivered to you!
Keep a light touch on this world and look up for your redemption draws nigh!

Preach the uncompromised Word and do not compromise!

Prepare for hard times and the testing of your faith!

Put on the armor of God and be ready for battle!

[readers note: William Gurnall's book Christian In Complete Armor is linked to this blog under "Armor All Saints" at 'Spiritual Chow' - J. Fire]
Last thought:

Jesus IS coming back for His Bride. Are you ready?

Matthew 25:1-13

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them; But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered saying, Not so, lest there be not enough for us and you; but go rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage; and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch, therefore; for ye know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of man cometh.”

A. M. Kisly

Friday, April 17, 2009

HOLY RELICS

The American Heritage College Dictionary defines "relic" as the following:


"Something that has survived the passage of time, especially an object or custom whose original culture has interest. Something cherished for its age or historic interest. An object kept for its association with the past; a momento. An object of religious veneration, especially a piece of the body, or a personal item of a saint. From the Latin "relinquere" - to leave behind."

Interesting . . .

We Christians are perceived in two different ways by two different kinds of people.

God is a Person who sees us as holy for we have been purchased with the blood of Christ, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit having been born again as a result of receiving Christ and His atoning death on the cross.

Certain other people, Christian pastors, leaders, those who even disparage the name of 'Christian', that prefer to call themselves "Christ Followers" (even though they most assuredly are not) see us saints of the Most High as relics from an age gone by, whose time of influence existed before the Age of Modernism (a philosophical system whereby truth is ascertainable and achieved by human rationalism, reasoning and intellect, and that God is no longer necessary as a source of truth).

These so-called Christ Followers, are more accurately labeled as the Emergent Church Movement and they claim that their time has come and for traditional Christians to step aside if they are unwilling to change (its a "change or die" motif among these ECM leaders!) in this post-Modern era (a philosophical belief system that disparages any who claim to know truth; rather, this system aspires to question, to explore and discover personal truth which varies from one to another. It also summarily rejects any notion of absolutism and objective truth) in which views long held by the church, the body of Christ are frowned upon, ignored or, in their eyes, invalidated.

They disregard biblical truth regarding:

-The Blood Atonement
-Spiritual rebirth resulting from receiving Christ Jesus and His atoning work.
-The Deity of Christ
-The Last Days and The Second Coming as well as all eschatological prophecies of the scriptures.
-The very idea Scripture being the absolute Truth and Word of God, and Scripture in their totality being inspired by God.
-The Kingdom of God as something yet future and ushered in by Christ Jesus Himself at His Second Advent.

What amazes me about these people is that they deny the quintessential fundamentals of the Scripture, the very heart and bedrock of Christian theology and teachings, and yet still claim to represent the truth of Jesus: who He is, and what He represents! They have the audacity to presume that they themselves are prolific teachers and leaders for the church, in total denial of Christ Jesus and His Word!

If they choose to disregard so much of Christian doctrine, why do they even desire to claim to be 'Christ-Followers'?? Why don't they become Buddhists, Hindus, Scientologists or New Agers?!

Answer: Infiltration! That is their goal! They desire to infiltrate and pervert (like "leaven" or yeast; MATT. 16:6,11-13)) the Christian body with their theologically erroneous dogmas and practices! I suspect that once fully infiltrated that they will then assimilate these evangelical, Bible-based churches into a global religion, spearheaded by the church of Rome which has long sought leadership among various churches, denominations and world religions.

Is the body of Christ is too weak to repel this 'disease'? There seems to be among many Christians a lack of desire for the pure milk and meat of the Word and godly exercise; they are anemic, anorexic, and susceptible.

It behooves all of us that love the LORD Jesus Christ, that we earnestly contend for the faith, that we stand up for righteousness, that we not compromise the Word that's been entrusted to us, that we do indeed genuinely love the sinner, hate the sin (not the other way around as some might practice), and to faithfully herald the gospel that our LORD commissioned us with.

Prayerfully seeking God's will, searching and studying the scriptures, getting involved in some personal research on this broad issue by reading good books on the subject (Trojan Church by Greg Reid, Faith Undone by Roger Oakland; A Time Of Departing, For Many Shall Come In My Name by Ray Yungen; also books by Warren Smith such as Reinventing Jesus, Deceived on Purpose, and A Wonderful Deception) are all helpful methods and means by which we can effectively repel these heretical suppositions and warn others who may not be aware of these teachings and those that teach them (a partial list of names of those who are ECM leaders will be included at the end of this entry).

So if you will indulge me, I'd like to examine these biblically relevant issues and show what these ECM leaders say, and provide a counter by biblical response.

"You see, if we have a new world, we will need a new church. We won't need a new religion per se, but a new frame work for our theology. Not a new Spirit, but a new spirituality. Not a new Christ, but a new Christian. Not a new denomination, but a new kind of church in every denomination." - Brian McLaren.
Note: McLaren speaks of "a new spirituality" which is a newer term for what was formerly known as the New Age movement; the preferred term in today's world is a New Spirituality!

Why? Why would we need a new church in a new world (this is still the same old world governed by the same old sin nature and the same old Satan, doing the same old sinful, rebellious practices)?

Has the formation of this so-called new world taken God by surprise? In His omniscience and omnipresence has He somehow over looked this paradigm shift and fumbled the ball in not providing the church with equipment necessary to take on this 'new' challenge? Will we have to come up with our own answers here in the church since God must have forgotten to provide them for us?

The scriptures were granted to us by God, giving us all the equipment we need to meet the needs of EVERY generation of fallen mankind which God. In His foreknowledge He determined beforehand by inspiring the writers of the Word to record all that mankind would need answers to, whether it's the 2nd Century, 12th Century, 20th Century, or the 23rd Century! Granted that with the passage of time, different approaches may be utilized to convey the Gospel, but not at the expense of drastically changing (which Brian McLaren ADMITS to!) and gutting the integral Truth of the message as these ECM leaders are doing!

2 PETER 1:3,20-21
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost
.

2 TIM 3:16-17
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect (that is 'complete'), thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

God didn't give us a partial store of spiritual equipment, but has thoroughly equipped us and has given us ALL things via His infinite knowledge and foresight. We're not in need of any new kind of church, or frame work, or new spirituality (How is it one would need a 'new spirituality' when we don't require a new Spirit, since our spirituality is derivative of the Spirit of God?).

Here's what one ECM leader had to say about being born again:

"...my mother, a convert to Evangelical Christianity. . . hoped I would have one of those dramatic "born again" experiences. That was the way she had come into a personal relationship with Christ. . . But it never worked for me. It took me quite some time to realize that entering into a personal relationship with Christ does not always happen that way. In my case, intimacy with Christ developed . . . primarily through 'centering prayer' . . . say[ing] his name over and over again. Jesus is my mantra. . ." - Letters To A Young Evangelical by Tony Campolo

This hardly needs a response, so suffice it to say that any relationship with Jesus must be predicated upon those terms that Jesus Christ Himself established, and He unequivocally stated that one "must be born again to see" and "enter into the Kingdom of God. (JOHN 1:12-13; 3:3-5; 1 PET 1:23)" This is the way that Jesus taught, and there IS no other way other than the LORD Jesus Himself: He makes the rules!

This is the primary methodology of the ECM to create a substitute for being born again of God's Spirit; since receiving Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior and being infused by the Holy Spirit is out of the question for practical ECM dogma, a substitute to mimic godly spirituality is required; this is found in mysticism, specifically in something called Contemplative Prayer (from various Desert Catholic fathers of the Third Century and on, as well as Buddhist and New Age methods [are all acceptable]). Subjective phenomenon via such meditative practices will evoke experiences that will determine truth for the ECM.

This is absolutely no different than what is found in the occult: experience determines truth. However, biblical truth differentiates experiences, whether they are valid or not. We are to test the spirits, we are to test any teachings, with the Word of God, our ultimate authority for Truth.

JOHN 4:1
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 

ACTS 17:11

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Regarding the Second Coming of Christ, Brian McLaren had this to say,

"The book of Revelation is an example of popular literary genre of ancient Judaism. . . instead of being a book about the distant future, it becomes a way of talking about challenges of the immediate present."

And also: "Other readers will be thinking of long passages in the Gospels that seem to be full of prognostication from the lips of Jesus Himself, relat[ing] to the end of the world. What are we to make of these passages, such as MATT 24th and 25th Chapters. . . Since Jewish apocalyptic was a popular genre in Jesus' day, we would expect him to be influenced by it and use its language and metaphors[:] destruction of the world, "the moon will turn to blood" or "the stars will fall from the sky - are actually rather typical stock phrases in Jewish apocalyptic. They are no more to be taken literally than phrases we might read in the paper today."

It might just be me, but I haven't noticed any "challenges of the immediate present" that involves 150 lb. hail stones, or a million man army marching through Europe wreaking havoc along the way, or an outpouring the demonic hosts resembling locusts, covering the Earth and tormenting mankind for months on end, or angels pouring out vials of judgment and wrath.

How Brian comes to these conclusions logically, I haven't got a clue!

And to suggest that Jesus was "influenced" by the language of Jewish apocalyptic is outlandish; one gets the idea that if not for such language, and influences Jesus would have omitted such statements and thus had been absent from New Testament text!

However these statements are not Jewish apocalyptic utilized in popular genre. Brian trivializes the importance of Old Testament canon and prophecies as contained in Joel, Daniel, Isaiah and elsewhere. Jesus validated these statements and verified that they are indeed the Word of God, and warned us that these things are actual events that would transpire on the Earth:

LUKE 21:28
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."

MATT 24:15-21

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

That sounds like literal events yet to occur in our future horizon to me, rather than "a way of talking about present day challenges" (as if these were socio-economic and political issues to be resolved by social interaction by a church who will help solve these problems by lending a hand)!

Tony Campolo has stated that Christians who "make a big thing of their claims that we are now living in the final stages of church history prior to the second coming of Christ have been the cause of "extremely detrimental" consequences. They discount the Sermon on the Mount, they don't care about the needy, and they have such a negative 'impact on geopolitics' which Campolo says "can only lead to war" (???).

Likewise Rick Warren of 'Purpose Driven Life' fame blatantly states that these types of Christian fundamentalists are "one of the biggest enemies of the 21st century" and likens them to Islamic fundamentalists!

Campolo, Warren, McLaren and other ECM leaders desire to negate any such talk or hopes for Christ Jesus physical return to Earth to establish His righteous reign for a social gospel of helps that would make this world our home, and by our own blood, sweat and tears construct the Kingdom of God here and now.

The response from Scripture however is incontestable:

COL 3:1-4
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

2 PET 3:1-4
This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.


LUKE 12:31-38

But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.


MARK 13:31-37
Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

1 PET 2:11-12
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."

JOHN 17:14-16
I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

The Blood Atonement Of Christ Jesus Is Now A Slaughter House Religion?!

"Jesus suffered as a substitute for us" because of our sins "is a pre-civilized barbarity." And also:

"Too many theories of the atonement assume that by one single high priestly act of self-sacrifice Christ saved the world. These legalistic theories of the atonement are in my judgment a theological disgrace." Harry Emerson Fosdick, pastor of Riverside Church, NYC

Once again, from Brian McLaren:

". . . the kingdom of God doesn't come . . . by inflicting violence and coercing people [but] through suffering and willing, voluntary sacrifice. But the doctrine of hell says no, that's not really true. That in the end, God gets His way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination, just like every other kingdom does. The cross isn't the center then. The cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God."

McLaren's reasoning of the cross is that God can't forgive in the same manner as He commands us, His followers, to do. God must punish someone else before He can forgive us, but we don't ourselves forgive those who offend us, and then go kick the dog instead.

Here is something from Alan Jones, Episcopal priest and author of the book Reimagining Christianity:

"The Church's fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be re-imagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it.
"The other thread of just criticism addresses the suggestion implicit in the cross that Jesus' sacrifice was to appease an angry God. Penal substitution [the cross] was the name of this vile doctrine. (emphasis mine)"

Just one more: this time from William Shannon -

" . . . He is the God who exacts the last drop of blood from His Son, so that His just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased. This God whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger . . . this God does not exist."

Mr. Fosdick is incorrect in his assertion that the blood atonement is merely a theological theory. When theologians make conjecture based on scriptural observation, that can certainly be considered theory and this would include musings and surmise on the part of such liberal theologians as Mr. Fosdick himself.

Yet the blood atonement is a deeply biblical doctrine that is stated in repleted fashion throughout the Bible. 'Atonement' occurs 81 times in 70 distinct verses in the KJV.

EXODUS 29:36; 32:30; LEVITICUS 4:20; 6:7; NUMBERS 6:11; 15:25-28

ROM 5:11

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

EPH 2:13; HEB 9:14; 1 PET 1:2; 1 JOHN 1:7

REV 1:5
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood


What McLaren fails to realize is that God is not a human being, who for the sake of Christ forgives others (a wife in his example) in the light of Christ's forgiveness for His sin. God is sinless, Holy, righteous, and He is not only our Creator, but also our Judge (even a superficial reading of the Psalms paints an accurate portrayal of God as a just God and Judge).

As a Holy Judge, bound by Truth and Divine Integrity, He must judge sin, and can't simply overlook it. God is indeed Love, and desires a relationship with all, but our sin stands in the way of such a relationship. God can't partake of sin. Yet desiring to partake in intimate fellowship with us, His creation, He sent His Son to take our penalty of sin.

However hell is not a punitive action taken upon all who refuse God's gift of grace and love. It's not at all like God said to human beings, "You either receive Christ Jesus and His sacrifice for your salvation or ELSE I will consign you to the flames of hell!"

Scripture is quite plain about this:

JOHN 3:18-19
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.


The condemnation to hell had already been established for every sinner who is outside of the grace of God at the fall of Adam, and its only by reaching out and receiving this salvation that one is spared from eternal hell.

Its as though the entire human race is racing down a mighty rapids, gushing towards destruction, and God throws us a life line. Whether that life line was thrown or not, we would have inevitably gone over the edge to our deaths had we not reached out and accepted God's offer of salvation!

God the Son freely of His own accord laid down His life for us and took the just punishment from the Father, so that we would be liberated from the eternal result of our sin and corruption. It isn't that God would condemn them to go over those falls if they didn't accept the line; it would simply be a matter of course for sin is indeed eternal separation from God.

Alan Jones statements are so reprehensible in regards to God's grace exhibited by the cross of Christ that had they issued forth from Satan's own mouth, I would not find the phenomena incongruous in the least. What he calls vile, we call 'blessed'.

GAL 6:14
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

It seems quite evident that Alan Jones and his colleagues collectively represent a particular group that scripture describes most aptly:

PHIL 3:18 - 20
(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.). For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ

ACTS 20:28-31
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.


The Word of God Is Not God's Word, Nor Is The Resurrected Christ the Divine Subject

Marcus Borg, mentor of Rob Bell and ECM leader:

"I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product. I learned that it is a human cultural product, the product of two ancient communities, biblical Israel and the early Christianity. As such it contained their understandings and affirmations, not statements coming directly or somewhat directly from God . . . I realized that whatever "divine revelation" and the "inspiration of the Bible" meant (if they meant anything), that they did not mean that the Bible was a divine product with divine authority."

"Jesus almost certainly was not born of a virgin, did not think of himself as the Son of God, and did not see his purpose as dying for the sins of the world."

"To think that the central meaning of Easter (resurrection) depends on something spectacular happening to Jesus' corpse misses the point pf the Easter message and risks trivializing the story. To link Easter primarily to an afterlife. as if our post-death existence depends on God having transformed the corpse of Jesus, is to reduce the story to a politically domesticated yearning for our survival beyond death."

Enough scripture has pointed out here that the Bible is indeed God's Word; and its demonstrably provable to any who do the research. It has proven itself by numerous external and internal proofs, and there are countless numbers of excellent apologetic works that demonstrate these, among them, Evidence That Demands A Verdict Vol. I and II by Josh McDowell.

Jesus continuously made statements like

JOHN 8:58
Before Abraham was I am and

JOHN 10:30
I and the Father are one. and

JOHN 14:9
If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father

And scripture is drenched with testimony to the truth that Jesus is indeed God made flesh, most notably JOHN 1:1-3 and 1 TIM 3:16.

Scripture likewise points out in prophecy and documentation via the Gospels that Jesus was the Son of God, only begotten, and that He indeed was born of the virgin Mary, having no earthly father, for had that been the case, Jesus would be a typical human being with a typical sinful nature and thus ineligible as a sacrifice for our sins. ISAIAH 7:14 and the accounts in Luke suffice to support this.

Jesus didn't see His purpose as dying for the sins of the world? Really . . .

JOHN 12:27
Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

MATT 20:28

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

MARK 10:45

For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

When Christ was about to give up the Ghost, He proclaimed, "IT IS FINISHED" or in the Greek, tetelestoi, meaning "paid in full" an accountants term for a debt being met. Jesus Himself declared that the debt of sin for all mankind had then been paid and entirely satisfied, and any statements suggesting that Christ did not come to die for the sins of the world is nothing more than satanic obfuscation.

As for the assertion that the preaching of the Resurrection misses the message, well . . .

1 COR 15:1-4; 13-22
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
"But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive
.


So then we who believe in the Bible, who believe that Christ Jesus is God made flesh, that He who came the first time is coming a second time to establish His reign, and all else that the church had held as sacred for centuries may indeed be considered relics by the ECM but in God's eyes we are holy, righteous and sanctified.

More on these issues of holiness and sanctification in a later entry!

In closing, here is a partial list of ECM leaders, speakers, and affiliates; please be advised that these people are not all involved in Emergent Theology to the same depth and degree: some are dabbling, others are dedicated -

UPDATE: 8/03/11
Here is an article that expounds upon the many pastors and teachers who are increasingly supportive of and even participating in contemplative prayer from the Spiritual Formation movement, something that the EMERGENT CHURCH embraces enthusiastically!

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER and EASTERN MYSTICISM are the SAME THING:


Here is a growing list of names to beware of, comprised of EMERGENT as well as LIBERAL Advocates and Leaders: 


Leith Anderson,
Rob Bell, Ken Blanchard, Marcus Borg, Walter Bruggemann, Martin Buber, Bob Buford, Spencer Burke,
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Tony Campolo, Chuck Colson, Larry Crabb,

Dale Dirksen, Mark Driscoll, Peter Drucker*,
Meister Eckhart, Tilden Edwards, John Eldredge,

Harry Fosdick, Richard Foster, Matthew Fox,
Jon Gordon, Marcus Grodi,

Herbert Hoefer, Bill Hybels,
Alan Jones, Laurie Beth Jones, Tony Jones,

Thomas Keating, Dan Kimball,
Brother Lawrence,

Johan Malan, Brennan Manning, Carl McColman, Brian McLaren, Erwin McManus, Thomas Merton, Donald Miller, J.P. Moreland,

Henri Nouwen, John Ortberg, Doug Pagitt, Basil Pennington, Eugene Peterson,
Richard Rohr, Wayne Rice,

Pete Scazzero, Chris Seay, Samir Selmanovic, William Shannon, Don Southerland, Lee Stroebel, Leonard Sweet,

Mother Teresa, Gary Thomas, Phyllis Tickle, Evelyn Underhill,
Donald Neale Walsh, Rick Warren, Ken Wilber, Dallas Willard.

* Peter Drucker was foundational in establishing Christian Leadership Network, a forerunner to the Emergent Church movement. Members of the CLN are today's most prolific Emergent leaders. Peter Drucker began the work to establish the CLN back in the late 1950's!

Here is a list of Christians that would appear, from their writings and statements to be sympathetic to Emergent/Contemplative teachings and practices:

Charles (Chuck) Swindoll, David Jeremiah, Josh McDowell, Beth Moore, Charles Stanley, Max Lucado

Here is a list of New Age/Spiritualist (Hindu and Buddhist as well) leaders that readily admit (as do Emergent Leaders) that there is essentially no difference between Contemplative Prayer and Mantra Meditation:

Sue Monk Kidd, Ken Blanchard, Laurie Beth Jones, Jon Gordon, Dalai Lama, meditator Daniel Goleman, Thich Nhat Hanh, Marilyn Ferguson and Wayne Dyer, Carl McColman, Vijay Eswaran’s, Caroline Myss

May the LORD Jesus keep you in His grace, peace, mercy and agape love!