Monday, July 20, 2015

King James Only and Philippians 2:6

KJV: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:”

ESV: “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,”

Do these verses really say something different? The first part of the verse is nearly identical, claiming that Jesus was “in the form of God,” so on that they clearly agree. But then the ESV says “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” while the KJV says “thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”

At first glance, it appears that the ESV may be saying that Jesus is not equal to God while the KJV is saying that He is. The truth is, both versions are saying the exact same thing! Here’s why: the Greek word translated "robbery" in the KJV means “to be grasped.” So, using the definition of the Greek word underlying the KJV word "robbery," the KJV says "thought it not to be grasped to be equal with God." The ESV says the same thing but more clearly and in modern English, “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” The Greek definition may be found here:

This passage (verses 6-8) is saying that though Jesus was truly God, He laid down His glory to go to the cross and die for the sin of the whole world. He didn’t consider His Godhood something to be grasped or held on to. In other words, He did not use His Godhood to gain an advantage in His life or to avoid the cross. The two verses that follow verse 6 bear this out, giving the full context.

“But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” [Phil. 2:7-8 KJV]

So, both English translations affirm the Godhood of Jesus while explaining that He didn’t hold onto it to avoid the cross, but rather “took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men… He humbled Himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.” The eternal Son of God became a man and died for your sin and mine. By God’s grace, all a person needs to do is repent of their sin and receive the free gift of life through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus promised that whoever believes in Him will have their sin forgiven and receive eternal life.

In conclusion, rather than deny the deity of Christ, the ESV does an excellent job of clarifying the meaning of the verse. In this verse, the King James would have been clearer to an English speaker in the 17th and 18th centuries, while the ESV makes the verse clear to modern English speakers. The underlying Greek texts of the KJV and the ESV are identical on this verse.

The interlinear of verse six in the KJV and Textus Receptus may be found here:

Here are links to two other articles I wrote on the subject:

"King James Only?"

"Which English Bible Translation is the Best?"

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Guest Post: Jonathan Cahn's Mistaken Teaching on the Shemitah


Is it real? By David James

The Mystery of the Shemitah by Jonathan Cahn (Lake Mary, Florida: FrontLine, Charisma Media / Charisma House Book Group, 2014) 275 pp. paper 16.99
The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn became the #1 Christian book of 2012, set publishing records, reached publishing milestones and propelled the author to a very high-profile position on the national and even internatShemitah coverional stage. Because The Harbinger was riddled with biblical errors, theological flaws and historical misrepresentations, what started out as a 2-3 page book review, quickly turned into a book-length response and led to The Berean Call publishing my first book, The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction?
On September 2, Jonathan Cahn’s third book, The Mystery of the Shemitah was released to book retailers and was already ranked very high at its debut just on pre-orders alone. As can be seen from the current rankings on, it is clear that The Mystery of the Shemitahneeds to be carefully examined to determine if the errors inThe Harbinger have been corrected or perpetuated in this new volume.

Although I have already done five interviews discussing this book, the article below is the first evaluation in writing to appear on the ABI website. I trust that you will take time to carefully consider my concerns and that you will feel free to contact me with your thoughts, either positive or negative. (If you have trouble posting a comment, please send me an email to let me know.)
And finally, my purpose for evaluating and critiquing The Mystery of the Shemitah is two-fold:
First, because so many people were influenced by The Harbinger and because this new book is already a best-seller, the Body of Christ needs to see that there is another side of the story that might not be completely obvious to some. And even for those who might sense something isn’t quite right, many won’t really work through the sometimes slow and often laborious task of carefully checking to make sure everything is correct.
Second, just as one of my goals in writing The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? was to model the process of discernment, the same is true of this article. First and foremost, discernment involves checking everything against the Word of God to make sure all of the arguments, theories and claims are biblically sound. And then, beyond the biblical side of things, discernment also frequently involves evaluating the logic of arguments, the veracity of assertions from a historical perspective, and even the proper use of statistics which can be framed such that the true picture is obscured and hidden from the reader, even if unintentionally.
The Mystery of the Shemitah, which went to its second printing the day it was released, builds on the concepts and theories Jonathan Cahn first presented in The Harbinger, particularly those in the chapter also titled “The Mystery of the Shemitah.” The author’s theory is that God has visited warnings and / or judgment against the United States according to a seven-year cycle going back many decades. Although this reviewer agrees that America is deserving of God’s judgment and a call to repentance is definitely in order, the foundational premise of this book is biblically flawed from the outset. The Shemitah (Jewish Sabbath year) was an obligation given specifically and exclusively to the nation of Israel, and there is no biblical support for the idea that God would either require any other nation to observe the Shemitah year or that He would impose a Shemitah-type judgment according to a seven-year cycle on any nation, including Israel itself. Beyond this, the Shemitah, being a Sabbath and an integral part of the Law of Moses, was completely fulfilled in Christ and is no longer in operation (even it actually did affect other nations prior to the Cross).
Furthermore, none of the overwhelming number of assertions and fact-claims throughout the book concerning economic trends, financial statistics and historical events are documented whatsoever, raising the question of the source of the author’s information, the accuracy of that information, and why this most basic and necessary aspect of any research-based non-fiction book is completely missing. The burden of proof for such assertions and claims should never be on the reader if an author is to be taken seriously. In addition, the integrity of any publisher is rightly called into question when an author doesn’t cite his sources.
The bottom line is that, unfortunately, the significant problems that plague The Harbinger have possibly been exceeded in this book and so should give pause to anyone who takes the Word of God seriously.
In the Law of Moses, God required that His chosen people, the Children of Israel, cease from their work on the seventh day of each week (the Sabbath). In addition to the Sabbath day, the Lord also instructed Israel to observe every seventh year as a Sabbath, as well. During the Sabbath year, the Israelites were to allow the land to rest from planting and harvesting and to allow whatever came up on its own to be picked by the poor among them. (Exodus 23:10-12;Leviticus 25:1-7) And just as God had provided a double-portion of manna on the 6th day of each week while the Israelites were in the wilderness so they would not have to work on the Sabbath, the Lord actually tripled the harvest in the sixth year to carry them through to the harvest in the first year of the new seven-year cycle.
Not only was it an agrarian cycle, but it was an economic one, as well. On the last day of the Sabbath year, lenders were required to forgive or “release” (the meaning of “Shemitah”) borrowers from the obligation of repaying their debts. (Deuteronomy 15:1) Over time, the last day of the Sabbath year and the year itself came to be known as the “Shemitah” (pronounced sh’mi’-tah). Although one would naturally suppose that such a system would wreck an economy and the lives of those who possessed enough to be lenders rather than borrowers, once again keeping the Lord’s command in this matter would be a source of blessing rather than hardship:
…for the Lord will greatly bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance—only if you carefully obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe with care all these commandments which I command you today. For the Lord your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you. (Deuteronomy 15:4a-6)
Among other serious sins, the Israelites disobeyed the Lord’s command not to take foreign wives who came from nations where idolatry and the worship of false gods was practiced (Deuteronomy 7:1-5).  As a result, the idolatrous practices and pagan worship of those nations became an integral part of Israel’s own religious practices. Consequently, the worship of the one true God was largely abandoned and the Law of Moses was largely ignored. By the end of the sixth century B.C., Israel had failed to observe a total of seventy Sabbath / Shemitah years.
In judgment against Israel’s pervasive and persistent sin, God used the Babylonian empire to execute judgment upon the southern kingdom of Judah beginning in 606 B.C., just as He had used the Assyrians over a century earlier against the northern kingdom of Israel. In addition to ultimately leveling Jerusalem and destroying the temple, the Babylonians carried away large numbers of Israelites into captivity—a captivity that lasted for 70 years—one year for each Sabbath year that the nation had failed to observe the Shemitah. Thus, because of this God-imposed Shemitah with the Israelites being in captivity in Babylon, the Promised Land “rested” for the same number of years that the Israelites had failed to allow the land to rest as the Lord had commanded (2 Chronicles 36:20-21).
The fundamental premise of The Mystery of the Shemitah is that not only did God require the nation of Israel to observe the Shemitah / Sabbath year, but that there is also a mystery connected to the Shemitah such that there is a seven-year cycle woven into the very fabric of history and the order of the universe—a cycle that can and does affect other nations and even the entire world. According to Jonathan Cahn, this mystery manifests itself through various calamities, including natural disasters, wars, and financial crises that tend to occur according to this seven-year cycle on the Hebrew calendar when God is trying to get the attention of a nation and warn her of impending judgment.
Based on his unbiblical view of the United States in God’s program, Cahn argues that the Lord continues to follow the same seven-year cycle in His dealings with America that He established for ancient Israel in the Law of Moses. And just as God imposed a “Shemitah” upon the nation of Israel as a judgment, forcing the land to rest for seventy years, likewise He has been visiting calamities upon this country as warning of impending judgment through stock market crashes, economic crises and various other cataclysmic events—all because of themystery of the Shemitah.
Throughout the book, the author goes to great lengths in an attempt to demonstrate that this has been going on for at least a century. And as he did in The Harbinger, Jonathan Cahn contends that the most recent cluster of devastating events began with the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 on the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and United Airlines flight #93 (which he collectively refers to as “the first shaking”). Furthermore, Cahn claims that the mystery of the Shemitah has been working in conjunction with what he calls the “Isaiah 9:10 Effect” and has manifested itself as a “second shaking” with the precipitous fall of the stock market on the last day of the Shemitah year in both 2001 and 2008, according to the modern Hebrew calendar.
However, before one gets too excited or becomes convinced that “Cahn has done it again” (as some have put it), a number of things need to be considered. Unfortunately, there are so many significant issues in this new book that rival or surpass the problems in The Harbinger, it seems that The Mystery of the Shemitah may be an even more fragile house of cards than Cahn’s first book.
Discernment Tip:  Strive to understand what the author is saying well enough to be able to summarize it in a few sentences.
When working through a book or an article, the first step in exercising discernment is to read the work all the way through and simply highlight or otherwise mark areas that are not clear, things that strike you as possible problems, things that are obviously erroneous, weak arguments and things that need to be fact-checked. However, the first time through, don’t worry about getting into the details or formulating some sort of response to issues of concern.
Then after completely reading it for the first time, jot down a few notes concerning your overall impressions and two or three major “take-aways” that reflect what you believe to be the author’s primary thesis, his major arguments, and his overall conclusions. After this, try to summarize the entire piece in just a few sentences.
Now you’re ready to go through it a second time and begin the process of more careful evaluation.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

San Andreas: A Foreshock of Things to Come

In one of 2015’s biggest blockbuster movies San Andreas, we become eyewitnesses to the cataclysmic destruction of the cities of the west coast of the United States due to a series of extremely large earthquakes and the tsunami one creates. The images in the film are troubling, especially for residents of west coast cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, because the west coast is plagued by earthquakes and experts have been warning about “the big one” hitting at some point in the near future. Scientists have criticized the movie as an over exaggeration of what can actually happen in California. Although this is generally true, the movie still does a great job of illustrating the sheer power of the geological forces upon which our cities precariously rest (read New Yorker article on the Cascadia fault, or The Atlantic's article on the New Madrid Seismic Zone). The truth is, these forces are capable of doing damage beyond our imagination. In fact, the Bible predicts an hour, on one day just prior to Christ’s Second Coming, when every major city in every nation of the world will fall due to a massive, simultaneous, and global series of earthquakes. 

It is a fact that we have seen a spike in earthquakes around the world, and their magnitude, over the last 25 years. It is also true that Jesus predicted that in the end times there would be an increase in the number and magnitude of earthquakes worldwide and that this would be one of many signs of His soon return. Jesus said,

"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows (birth pains).” (Matthew 24:7-8)

Certainly we have seen this increase (and an increase in all of the signs) more and more in our day, just like a women’s contractions increase and get stronger the closer she gets to birth. This seismic activity will culminate, one day, in a massive, worldwide quake just before Jesus returns to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.

One of the reasons that this new movie, a special-effects masterpiece, has so many Christians talking, is that it shows with great detail and accuracy, with stunning visual effects, what the mass destruction of major cities due to a series of large earthquakes could look like. It is surprising to Christians that anti-Christian Hollywood would depict fictional events on film that mirror the biblical events coming on earth as a result of God’s wrath on sinful, destructive humanity. Those producers don’t know what they are doing, but through His providence God is sending us a loud wake-up call to repentance of sin and faith in Christ through these kind of dire, last days depictions.

Let’s take a look at the Scriptures describing the last and most catastrophic earthquake that will take place worldwide at the end of the age, starting with the prophet Isaiah.

“The earth is violently broken,
​​The earth is split open,
​​The earth is shaken exceedingly.

The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard,
​​And shall totter like a hut;
​​Its transgression shall be heavy upon it,
​​And it will fall, and not rise again.
​​It shall come to pass in that day
​​That the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones,
​​And on the earth the kings of the earth.

They will be gathered together,
​​As prisoners are gathered in the pit,
​​And will be shut up in the prison;
​​After many days they will be punished.

​​Then the moon will be disgraced
​​And the sun ashamed;
​​For the LORD of hosts will reign
​​On Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
​​And before His elders, gloriously.”
(Isaiah 24:19-23)

First off he says, “the earth,” meaning the entire planet will “reel to and fro like a drunkard.” Secondly, we know it is the last quake in pre-millennial history because he says “the earth will fall, and not rise again (in the same condition).” Thirdly, we have confirmation of the end times Great Tribulation judgment because of the use of the phrases “its transgression shall be heavy upon it” and “the Lord will punish” and “after many days they will be punished.” These verses describe an aspect of the Great Tribulation, a seven year period of God’s judgment on the world preceding the Second Coming of Christ to rule and reign on earth. Isaiah connects this giant global quake to the time Jesus spoke of when the moon turns to blood and the sun is darkened. This all happens just prior to His return.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Jesus, Matthew 24:29-31)

This global series of simultaneous earthquakes happens at the end of Armageddon, the final world war that continues to the end of the Great Tribulation and to the return of Christ.

“And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon. Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’ And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.” (Revelation 16:16-19)

Notice the Apostle John tells us “there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth” and “the cities of the nations fell.” In chapter 18 of the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, he makes it clear that this comes “in one day… for in one hour your judgment has come.”

"Therefore her plagues will come in one day--death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her. The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.'” (Revelation 18:8-10)

While reading the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, we become acutely aware of the fact that God is going to judge the world for sin, for disobedience and for rejecting His Son Jesus Christ, and we know that there will be a series of demonic, man-made and natural disasters just before Christ’s return. So, when we see a movie like San Andreas depicting this kind of seismic catastrophe, we cannot help but think of that time to come. Jesus said of that time,

"For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21-22)

Looking at the world today, who can deny that the planet is ripe for judgment? Even many unbelievers think that “mother earth” is angry at people for their treatment of “her” and are predicting catastrophic consequences to come. Experts in all fields, such as defense, economics and ecology agree that we are beyond the tipping point and that big trouble is ahead for the inhabitants of this planet. If they only knew and believed that God has been warning us of this day for thousands of years through His Word, the Bible, and that God has made a way out of this mess for all of humanity. Through the Eternal Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel, “all who call on Him will be saved.”

Why do we need a Savior?

“As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.’ ‘Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit’; ‘The poison of asps is under their lips’; ‘Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.’ ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.’ ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’" (Romans 3:10-18)

But, God has made a way for us to be forgiven of our sin and made righteous in His sight, if we are true in our heart toward Him. God knows our hearts. If we can admit that we have done wrong against Him, repent of that sin and believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died to make us right with God through faith in Him, then God will be merciful and will forgive our trespasses. He will remove the punishment of sin, which is death, and give us eternal life with Him.

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26)

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (Jesus, John 3:16)

Dear friend, pray to our Creator to forgive you of your sin. Receive Christ in your heart by faith and receive the free gift of God, the most wonderful gift that could ever be given, eternal life. God longs to be your loving Father. He loves you and wants to save you from your sin and His right judgment coming upon our world in the near future.

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Love Never Fails

"Love never fails…" How do we forgive and love others as Christ has forgiven and loved us? That is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit living in and through us. Receive Christ and be born again, born of God, and pray to be baptized in the Holy Spirit; filled with His Spirit to overflowing daily (John 3). What does true love look like? It doesn’t look like the world’s ideal. It is perfectly represented in the life, crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord. Read the Gospels to get the true picture of God’s perfect love. "God is Love (1 John 4:8)." 

Here are some additional verses on love and forgiveness/forgive:

"But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:15

“Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” Romans 15:7

"...but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ--" Ephesians 4:15

“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:2

“…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” Colossians 3:13

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Faith as a Mustard Seed

So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you." Luke 17:6

So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20

These verses make sense once we understand that they are only true when our will is according to God’s will. Whatever God's will is, that's the key, if we have even just the smallest amount of faith in Jesus, a tiny amount like the tiny mustard seed, God can and will still accomplish His will, no matter how large or impossible. For us to come to know His will is impossible in the flesh, but it can be spiritually discerned through our faith in Christ and His Word. But Christians, even with the weakest of faith, can accomplish the will of God no matter how miraculous because “all things are possible with God.”

These verses are about who we put our faith in, not our faith and how much of it we have. It’s about our great God, not us! It’s not about our ability but our faith in Jesus and His ability. Seek His will and even mountains will move, in accordance with His will. When our will lines up with His will, our little mustard seed will move a mulberry tree.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Guest Post: The Late Great Rapture Theory?

Excerpted from WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HEAVEN?  by Dave Hunt
It is an understatement to say that the winds of change are blowing at gale force through the hallowed halls of tradition. Scientific discovery is advancing in quantum leaps, computer technology is literally exploding, and...communications networks are bringing this rapidly expanding knowledge to the world with lightning speed. The inevitable result is a revolution in every field from physics to medicine and from economics to politics. That we currently face dramatic and accelerating worldwide change beyond present comprehension is sensed by almost every person who gives any heed to the contemporary scene. Nor is it possible to seriously doubt the connection between the quickening pace of high-tech's sensuous, self-centered living, and plummeting public morals.
Needless to say, the church has not remained untouched by these currents of upheaval and transformation. Influenced by the world as never before through the subtleties and persuasive power of modern media, Christians are being adversely affected in numerous and deceptive ways. The faith of many, particularly the youth, is being devastated by the challenge of "scientific" or "progressive" ideas which also undermine biblical standards of morality....
[As one symptom of "changing hope"] there are many Christians today (and their number is growing rapidly) who view the hope of an imminent rapture as the negative product of a defeatist theology. They sincerely believe that the expectation of being taken home to heaven at any moment undermines the "victory" they are convinced could be won by the church if Christians would only catch the vision of taking over the world and would unite to fulfill it.
On the contrary, there is a much more exciting and worthwhile hope for those who believe in the rapture. We will return with Christ from heaven in transformed bodies to reign over this earth with Him. That hope involves a truly new world order far superior to anything we could establish in these mortal bodies and without His physical presence on earth. Such a vision of the future helps us to realize that we are not part of this old world order and to make a clear break with it even now.
The ground is being laid for a major confrontation between those who long to leave this earth for heaven in the rapture, and others equally sincere who believe it is the Christian's duty to establish the kingdom upon this earth and that only when this has been accomplished by the church in His absence will our Lord at last return....
Of course, there have always been diverse views of the Second Coming. The amillennial position, generally held by Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Catholics (among others), sees history moving on for many thousands of years with Christ finally winding things up at some indefinite time in the future and with prophecy having little if anything to say that would give us any hint of timing or events along the way. Similarly, the postmillennial view suggests that we are already in the millennium (which is not a literal thousand years but could be hundreds of thousands), that the church is gradually taking over the world and will eventually establish the kingdom in Christ's absence, after which He will return for the final judgment. While there is a general belief in the rapture, postmillennialism puts that event so far in the future that it has no practical motivating effect in one's life.
In the early 1970s the rapture was the most-talked-about topic in the church. Lindsey had captured the attention and imagination of his generation. Pastors preached about heaven and Christians eagerly anticipated being caught up at any moment to meet their Lord in the air. Even the secular world became familiar with the concept. There were movies, such as The Omen , about the end times. Radio and television mentioned the Second Coming frequently, and cartoons and bumper stickers also took up the theme. One of the latter solemnly warned: "I'm leaving in the rapture, ride at your own risk!"
All of that has changed. The bumper stickers have worn off, the movies have lost their appeal, and the sermons have gone on to currently popular themes. The subtitle of a recent article in Moody reflects present sentiment: "Hal Lindsey was premature. The earth is great, but it's too early to call it late."
Most Christians no longer know what they believe about prophecy and now realize that their previously held opinions must be given an honest and careful review. Many who were once excited about the prospects of being caught up to heaven at any moment have become confused and disillusioned by the apparent failure of a generally accepted biblical interpretation they once relied upon. Those who believed in the rapture because it was popular are, of course, abandoning it now that it has become unpopular. They never had a good reason for what they believed based upon their own carefully weighed convictions. It is sad that so few Christians know the Bible for themselves....
The church is now ripe for the developing views of history and prophecy that either downplay or eliminate the rapture and put the emphasis upon "Christianizing" (in contrast to "converting") the world. A new genre of books espousing the idea that "victory in Christ" means a Christian takeover of this world is coming off the presses and selling well. Such ideas are being successfully taken into mainstream evangelical churches by [groups] denigrating...the rapture."
Today, the once-bright hope of the church being taken home to heaven by Christ at any moment has become the butt of crude jokes and a common subject of ridicule or scorn even among many Christians. The initial ad for the Reconstructionist Biblical Blueprints book series derisively called the rapture "God's helicopter escape." Earl Paulk, founding pastor of the 10,000-member Chapel HillHarvesterChurch near Atlanta, and a popular Christian television teacher, calls the rapture "The Great Escape Theory."
Being taken to heaven in the rapture has been to a large extent replaced by the rapidly growing new hope that the church is destined to take over the world and establish the kingdom of God. The focus has turned from winning souls for citizenship in heaven to political and social action aimed at cleaning up society. Scarcely a sermon is being preached about the world to come. Attention is focused instead upon achieving success in this one. If we have a big enough march on Washington and vote in enough of our candidates, then we can make this world a beautiful, safe, moral, and satisfying "Christian" place for our grandchildren. This is a very enticing scenario. George Grant's appeal sounds logical and extremely persuasive:
I became very disenchanted over time with the pessimistic mentality that the purpose of world history is to back the church into the corner and finally at the last second, right before the moment of absolute destruction, God snatches us into the heavenly realms and says: "Well, you lost the world, you lost your culture, you lost your children, you lost the schools, you lost all the unborn babies, you lost South Africa, you lost everything. Well done, my good and faithful servants." I just couldn't buy that. Reconstructionists say that's not the only view on how the church is to operate in the world.
The expectancy of the Lord's soon return which was so evident in the 1970s...has all but vanished from the church.... There has developed a surprising and growing antagonism against eagerly watching and waiting for Christ's return, which surely was the attitude of the early church. The pendulum is swinging to an outright rejection of not only the pretrib but also the premillennium rapture....
The trend...has accelerated. We could cite the current struggle going on in the Southern Baptist Church as one example. It is the largest Protestant denomination, but is presently losing members at a surprising and growing rate to independent churches that deny the rapture, deny any place for national Israel in prophecy, and believe that an elite group of "overcomers" will soon manifest immortality in their bodies without the resurrection or the Second Coming, and take over the world for Christ. Only then will Christ return. Not to take His bride home to heaven as the Bible clearly teaches, however, but to reign over the kingdom that has been established by her for Him here on this earth. One of the leaders in this movement writes:
"You can study books about going to heaven in a so-called 'rapture' if that turns you on. We want to study the Bible to learn to live and to love and to bring heaven to earth."
Is this issue even worth discussing? After all, what does it matter when Christ comes or when or how the kingdom is established? Is eschatological debate of any significance? A partial answer would lie in the fact that "last days" prophecy is a subject that takes up about one-fourth of the Bible. How could we dare to suggest that the Holy Spirit would give such importance to something which, in the final analysis, really doesn't matter? Based only upon the amount of attention given to it in the Bible, when and how and why Christ returns must be of great importance both to God and to us. We need to seek to understand why.
One reason for the significance of this issue should be quite obvious. Paul tells us that Christ is going to catch His bride away from this earth to meet Him in the air-"and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess 4:17). Consequently, those who expect to meet Christ with their feet still planted on earth--a "Christ" who has arrived to take over the kingdom they have established in His name--will have been badly deceived. In fact, they could have been working to build the earthly kingdom for the Antichrist. Yet this teaching that we must take over the world and set up the kingdom for Christ has become the fastest-growing movement within the church today.
One of the key doctrines of this movement is the claim that the church is now Israel, heir to all of her promises, and that national Israel has been cut off from God and has no further place in the prophetic scheme. This new focus on an earthly inheritance for the church has further turned the hope of being taken to heaven in the rapture into an object of ridicule. It has also produced a drastic change in attitude and a serious reduction in the evangelical church's traditional support of Israel, an about-face which is being viewed with alarm by that tiny nation....
Speaking at Edmond near Oklahoma City on April 11,1988, Rick Godwin, a long-time associate of James Robison and popular speaker on Christian media, delivered the type of anti-Israel rhetoric that is becoming so typical in charismatic circles: "They [national Israel] are not chosen, they are cursed! They are not blessed, they are cursed!... The church--that's the Israel of God, not that garlic one over on the Mediterranean Sea!" Earl Paulk's criticism of national Israel and those who look favorably upon her includes the ultimate accusation:
The hour has come for us to know...that the spirit of the antichrist is now at work in the world...[through] so-called Holy Spirit-filled teachers who say, "If you bless national Israel, God will bless you." Not only is this blatantly deceptive, it is not part of the new covenant at all!
Currents of change are sweeping through the world and the church. In the crucial days ahead, the evangelical church could well suffer a division over the rapture and the related issue of Israel comparable to that experienced by the Catholic Church as a result of the Reformation in the 1500s. Nor would it be surprising if, in the cause of "unity," the larger faction in Protestantism moved much closer to ecumenical union with Catholicism, which has been traditionally antisemitic and discarded the rapture about 1600 years ago. Some of the reasons why this could happen, and the likely consequences, should become clear in the following pages.... [See resource pages for details.]
We must beware that in our zeal to "change the world for Christ" we do not become so wedded to an ongoing earthly process stretching into the indeterminate future that we lose our vision of heaven. We cannot be truly faithful to the totality of what Scripture says unless we are sufficiently disengaged from this world to be ready to leave it behind at a moment's notice.
There is cause to be concerned that...kingdom/dominion advocates could be fostering a false conception of our earthly ministry--a conception which we must guard against lest we subtly fall into...[the] mistaken notion that mortal man can accomplish what only immortal Man, our risen Lord, and we as immortal resurrected beings with Him, can perform. We dare not settle for anything less than the fullness of what Christ has promised! The glory that He offers is light-years beyond the...agenda of Christianizing and taking over this present world in these bodies of weakness and corruption....
The joy and glory He has planned and in which He desires that we participate--and the prospect of being caught up at any moment to see this hope realized--are more than enough to excite and inspire and motivate us to victorious living and witnessing.... We dare not, however, in the name of unity and the avoidance of controversy, abandon the hope given to us in [the] Scriptures (See 1 Cor:15:51-531 Thes:4:16-18).

Hunt, Dave. (2011, October 1). The Late Great Rapture Theory?. Retrieved April 27, 2015 from

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Word is our Counselor

To a great extent, sin is its own judgment. When it is fully developed, the sin itself is the judgment of the seed of rebellion that started in our hearts, sometimes years earlier.

It is surprising and perplexing how our sinful actions, which inevitably bring judgment and our own demise, so often feel empowering, rewarding, satisfying and blissful, especially in the beginning. Sin is usually brutally deceptive, which is why we are to know God’s ways and be on guard for sin’s lure.

As Christians, we do not follow our own feelings in determining what is good or bad because we know from God’s Word (and experience) that our feelings can, and often do, lead us astray. As Christians, we trust our wondrous and gracious God and His Word alone in determining right and wrong.

As the prophet has warned,

"The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?" 
Jeremiah 17:9

But we seek God’s inerrant Word,

"Princes also sit and speak against me,
But Your servant meditates on Your statutes.
Your testimonies also are my delight
And my counselors." 
Psalm 119:23-24