Friday, August 3, 2018

Guest Post: The Trinity

Many Christians are at a loss to understand, much less to defend, the "Trinity." Critics argue that that word is not even found in the Bible. To deal with that issue, we must begin with God, as the Bible itself does. There are two general concepts of God: (1) pantheism/naturalism, that the universe itself is God; and (2) supernaturalism, that the Creator is distinct from His creation. Within these are two more opposing views: (1) polytheism, that there are many gods; and (2) monotheism, that there is only one true God.
Monotheism itself is divided into two rival beliefs: (1) that God is a single being; and (2) that God has always existed in three Persons who are separate and distinct yet One. Obviously, Christians are the only ones who hold the latter view—and even some who call themselves Christians reject it. Yet it is the only logically and philosophically coherent view of God possible.
Pantheism has the same fatal flaws as atheism. If everything is God, to be God has lost all meaning and so nothing is God. The problems with polytheism are equally obvious. There is no real God who is in charge, so the many gods fight wars and steal one another's wives. There's no basis for morals, truth or peace in heaven or earth. Polytheism's basic problem is diversity without unity.
The belief that God is a single being is held by both Muslims and Jews, who insist that Allah and Jehovah are single entities. It is also held by pseudo-Christian cults such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons—and by various aberrant Christian groups who also deny the deity of Christ. Some Pentecostals claim that God is a single being and that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are God's three "titles" or "offices." Here we have unity without diversity.
That God must have both unity and diversity is clear. The Allah of Islam and the Jehovah of Jehovah's Witnesses and Jews, for instance, is incomplete in himself, unable to experience love, fellowship and communion before creating beings with whom he could have these experiences. The Bible says that "God is love." But the God of Islam and Judaism could not be love in and of himself—for whom could he love when he was alone before creation?
This belief that God is a single entity (Unitarianism) and not three Persons existing eternally in one God (Trinitarianism) was first formulated in the early church around A.D. 220. by a Libyan theologian named Sabellius. He attempted to retain biblical language concerning Father, Son and Holy Spirit without acknowledging the triune nature of God. Sabellius claimed that God existed as a single Being who manifested Himself in three activities, modes or aspects: as Father in the creation, as Son in redemption, and as Holy Spirit in prophecy and sanctification. This heresy, though condemned by the vast majority of Christians, survives to this day.
The Bible presents a God who did not need to create any beings to experience love, communion and fellowship. This God is complete in Himself, being three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, separate and distinct, yet at the same time eternally one God. They loved and communed and fellowshiped with each other and took counsel together before the universe, angels or man were brought into existence. Isaiah "heard the voice of the Lord [in eternity past] saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" (Isa:6:8). Moses revealed the same counseling together of the Godhead: "And God said, Let usmake man in our image, after our likeness"; and again, "Let us go down, and there confound their language" (Gen:1:26;11:7). Who is this "us" if God is a single entity? Why does God say, "The man is become as one of us" (Gen:3:22)?
Moreover, if God is a single Being, then why is the plural Hebrew noun elohim (literally "gods") used for God repeatedly? In fact, this plural noun is in the center of Israel's famous confession of the oneness of God! The Shema declares, "Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord" (Deut 6:4; Mk 12:29). In the Hebrew it reads, "Jehovah our elohim [gods] is one [echad] Jehovah." The Hebrew word echad allows for a unity of more than one. For example, it is used in Genesis:2:24 where man and woman become one flesh; in Exodus:36:13 when the various parts "became one tabernacle"; in 2 Samuel:2:25 when many soldiers "became one troop"; and elsewhere.
Nor is the word elohim the only way in which God's plurality is presented. For example: Psalm:149:2, "Let Israel rejoice in him that made him" (literally "makers"); Ecclesiastes:12:1, "Remember now thy Creator (lit. "creators"); and Isaiah:54:5, "For thy Maker is thine husband (lit. "makers, husbands"). Unitarianism has no explanation for this consistent presentation of God's plurality all through the Old Testament. Although the word "trinity" does not occur in the Bible, the concept is clearly there, providing the unity and diversity which makes possible the love, fellowship and communion within the Godhead. Truly the trinitarian God is love—and He alone.
Jesus said, "The Father loveth the Son and hath given all things into his hand" (Jn:3:35). God's love is not just toward mankind but first of all among the three Persons of the Godhead. And three Personsthey must be. Father, Son and Holy Spirit can't be mere offices, titles or modes in which God manifests Himself, for such cannot love, consult and fellowship together. Not only the Son is presented as a Person, but so are the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Bible presents each as having His own personality: each wills, acts, loves, cares, can be grieved or become angry. "Offices" or "titles" don't do that! Unitarianism isn't biblical—and it robs the Godhead of the necessary qualities of true Deity.
Godhead? Is that a biblical term? Yes, indeed. It occurs three times in the King James New Testament in Acts:17:29Romans:1:20, and Colossians:2:9. In contrast to theos, which is used consistently throughout the New Testament for "God," three different but related Greek words occur in these verses (theios, theiotes, theotes), which the King James translators (here's another reason for preferring the KJV!) carefully designated by the special word, Godhead. That very term indicates a plurality of being. Paul wrote, "In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col:2:9). Did he simply mean that in Christ dwelt all the fullness of Himself? That would be like saying that in me dwells all the fullness of me. Well, of course it does—so why say it, and what does it really mean? Nothing!
Does it simply mean that in Christ dwells all the fullness of Deity as non-KJV translations render it? That, too, would be redundant—or it would detract from the deity of Christ. For if Christ is intrinsically God, then what is the point of saying that "in Him dwells all the fullness of deity"? Of course it does! But if Christ is the Son and there are two other persons in the Godhead, then it does mean something. It means that just as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God, so when the Son became man He brought that fullness of the Godhead with Him into flesh.
In Romans:1:20 Paul argues that God's "eternal power and Godhead" are seen in the creation He made. God's eternal power—but His Godhead? Yes, as Dr. Wood pointed out years ago in The Secret of the Universe, the triune nature of God is stamped on His creation. The cosmos is divided into three: space, matter and time. Each of these is divided into three. Space, for instance, is composed of length, breadth and width, each separate and distinct in itself, yet the three are one. Length, breadth and width are not three spaces, but three dimensions comprising one space. Run enough lines lengthwise and you take in the whole. But so it is with the width and height. Each is separate and distinct, yet each is all of space—just as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is each God.
Time also is a trinity: past, present and future—two invisible and one visible. Each is separate and distinct, yet each is the whole. Man himself is a triunity of spirit, soul and body, two of which are invisible, one visible. Many more details could be given of the Godhead's triunity reflected in the universe. It can hardly be coincidence.
The Hebrew word elohim (gods) occurs about 2,500 times in the Old Testament, while the singular form occurs only250 times and most of those designate false gods. Genesis:1:1 reads, "In the beginning, elohim created the heaven and the earth"; i.e., literally, "gods created the heaven and the earth." Though a single noun is available, yet the plural form is consistently used for God. And in violation of grammatical rules, with few exceptions, singular verbs and pronouns are used with this plural noun. Why?
At the burning bush it was elohim (gods) who spoke to Moses. Yet elohim did not say, "We are that we are," but "I AM THAT I AM" (Ex 3:14). One cannot escape the fact that, all through the Bible, God is presented as a plurality and yet as One, as having both diversity and unity. This is unique among all the world's religions! To reject the Trinity is to reject the God of the Bible.
The New Testament presents three Persons who are distinct, yet each is recognized as God. At the same time we have repeatedly the clear statement that there is only one true God. Christ prays to the Father. Is He praying to Himself? "The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world" (1 Jn:4:14). Did He send Himself? Worse yet, did one "office" pray to and send a "title"? Father, Son and Holy Spirit each has distinct functions, yet each works only in conjunction with the others. Christ said, "The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself [on my own initiative]: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (Jn:14:10); "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter...even the Spirit of truth" (Jn:14:16-17). Throughout the New Testament, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are each separately honored and act as God, yet only in concert with one another.
The Old Testament also presents three Persons in the Godhead interacting. For example: "Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens....From the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me" (Isa:48:12-16). The One speaking through Isaiah refers to Himself as "the first and the last" and the Creator of all, so He must be God. But He speaks of two others in the same passage who must also be God: "the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me." Jesus presented a similar passage to the Pharisees (Mat:22:41-46) when He asked them who the Messiah was, and they said, "The Son of David." He then quoted, "The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool" (Ps:110:1). Then Jesus asked them, "If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?" The Pharisees were speechless. Unitarianism cannot explain these two "Lords."
It is a mystery how God can exist in three Persons yet be one God; but it is also a mystery how God could have no beginning and create everything out of nothing. We can't understand what a human soul or spirit is. Nor can we explain love or beauty or justice. It is beyond human capacity to comprehend the full nature of God's being. But neither can we understand what it means for us or anything else to exist—nor can we comprehend what space is or what time is or matter is. For every door science opens, there are ten more unopened doors on the other side. The more we learn, the more rapidly the unknown expands before us like receding images in a hall of mirrors. The Jehovah's Witnesses and other Unitarians argue that because the Trinity can't be understood it can't be. But the fact that it is beyond human comprehension is no reason for rejecting what the Bible so consistently presents to us. God is telling us about Himself so we can believe in and know Him. We dare not reject what He says or lower it to the level of our finite minds. TBC
By Dave Hunt

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Biblical Christian View of Israel Today

"Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers (Rom 11:28)."
For now, the nation of Israel has rejected their Messiah, Jesus, so they oppose the gospel. But God is not finished with Israel, just as He is not finished with us. He loves them very much and, after the time of punishment on the whole earth, Jacob's trouble,
"I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,' says the Lord GOD (Ez. 39:29)" and "My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants' descendants," says the LORD, "from this time and forevermore (Is. 59:21)."

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Guest Post: Eternal Security

The question of the eternal security of the believer is often raised in letters we receive. This subject has been the cause of much controversy in the church for centuries, and still creates confusion and distress for many Christians. It is too much to expect to dispel this problem completely for everyone in a brief newsletter, but perhaps we can at least help in that direction.
Those who believe in "falling away" accuse those who believe in "eternal security" of promoting "cheap grace." The latter is in itself an unbiblical expression. To call it "cheap" is really a denial of grace, since it implies that too small a price has been paid. Grace, however, must be absolutely free and without any price at all on man's part, while on God's part the price He paid must be infinite. Thus for man to think that his works can play any part in either earning or keeping his salvation is what cheapens grace and devalues this infinite gift to the level of human effort.
To speak of "falling from grace" involves the same error. Since our works had nothing to do with meriting grace in the first place, there is nothing we could do that would cause us to no longer merit it and thus to "fall" from it. Works determine reward or punishment—not one's salvation, which comes by God's grace. The crux of the problem is a confusion about grace and works.
First of all, we must be absolutely clear that these two can never mix. Paul declares, "...if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace, otherwise work is no more work" (Rom:11:6). Salvation cannot be partly by works and partly by grace.
Secondly, we must be absolutely certain that works have nothing to do with salvation. Period. The Bible clearly states, "For by grace are ye saved...not of works" (Eph:2:8-9). True to such scriptures, evangelicals firmly declare that we cannot earn or merit salvation in any way. Eternal life must be received as a free gift of God's grace, or we cannot have it.
Thirdly, salvation cannot be purchased even in part by us, because it requires payment of the penalty for sin—a payment we can't make. If one receives a speeding ticket, it won't help to say to the judge, "I've driven many times within the 55 mph limit. Surely my many good deeds will make up for the one bad deed." Nor will it do to say, "If you let me off this time, I promise never to break the law again." The judge would reply, "Never to break the law again is only to do what the law demands. You get no extracredit for that. The penalty for breaking the law is a separate matter and must be paid." Thus Paul writes, " the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight..." (Rom:3:20).
Fourthly, if salvation from the penalty of breaking God's laws cannot be earned by good deeds, then it cannot be lost by bad deeds. Our works play no part in either earning or keeping salvation.
Fifthly, salvation can only be given to us as a free gift if the penalty has been fully paid. We have violated infinite Justice, requiring an infinite penalty. We are finite beings and could not pay it: we would be separated from God for eternity. God is infinite and could pay an infinite penalty, but it wouldn't be just, because He is not a member of our race. Therefore God, in love and grace, through the virgin birth, became a man so that He could pay the debt of sin for the entire human race!
In the Greek, Christ's cry from the cross, "It is finished!" is an accounting term, meaning that the debt had been paid in full. Justice had been satisfied by full payment of its penalty, and thus God could "be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom:3:26). On that basis, God offers pardon and eternal life as a free gift. He cannot force it upon anyone or it would not be a gift. Nor would it be just to pardon a person who rejects the righteous basis for pardon and offers a hopelessly inadequate payment instead—or offers his works even as "partial payment."
Salvation is the full pardon by grace from the penalty of all sin, past, present or future; eternal life is the bonus thrown in. Denying this cardinal truth, all cultists, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and Roman Catholics, for example, reject salvation by grace and insist that it must be earned by one's good works. They accuse evangelicals of teaching that all we need to do is to say we believe in Christ and then we can live as we please, even in the grossest of sins, yet be sure of heaven. Evangelicals don't teach that at all, yet a similar complaint is made by those who believe in "falling away." They say that "once saved, always saved" encourages one to live in sin because if we know we cannot be lost then we have no incentive for living a holy life. On the contrary, love for the one who saved us is the greatest and only acceptable motive for living a holy life; and surely the greater the salvation one has received, the more love and gratitude there will be. So to know one is secure for eternity gives a higher motive for living a good life than the fear of losing one's salvation if one sins!
While those who believe in "falling from grace" are clear that good works cannot earn salvation, they teach that salvation is kept by good works. Thus one gets saved by grace, but thereafter salvation can be lost by works. To teach that good works keep salvation is almost the same error as to say that good works earn salvation. It denies grace to say that once I have been saved by grace I must thereafter keep myself saved by works.
If those who are saved could lose their salvation, then they must by their own actions keep themselves saved. If that is true, then those who stay saved and get to heaven will be able to boast that they played a key role in their salvation: Christ saved them but they kept themselves saved. On the contrary, no man can take any credit for his salvation. We are "kept by the power of God" (1 Pt 1:5), not by our faith or efforts.
"Falling away" doctrine, says Hebrews:6:4-9, rather than glorifying Christ, once again holds Him up to shame and ridicule before the world for two reasons: if we could lose our salvation, then (1) Christ would have to be crucified again to save us again; and (2) He would be ridiculed for dying to purchase a salvation but not making adequate provision to preserve it—for giving a priceless gift to those who would inevitably lose it. If Christ's death in our place for our sins and His resurrection were not sufficient to keep us saved, then He has foolishly wasted His time. If we could not live a good enough life to earn salvation, it is certain we cannot live a good enough life to keep it! To make the salvation He procured ultimately dependent upon our faltering works would be the utmost folly.
"Falling away" doctrine makes us worse off after we are saved than before. At least before conversion we can get saved. But after we are saved and have lost our salvation (if we could), we can't get saved again, but are lost forever. Hebrews:6:6 declares, "If [not when] they shall fall is renew them again unto repentance." That "falling away" is hypothetical is clear (v 9): "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak." So "falling away" does not "accompany salvation." The writer is showing us that if we could lose our salvation, we could never get it back without Christ dying again upon the cross. This is folly! He would have to die an infinite number of times (i.e., every time every person who was once saved sinned and was lost and wanted to be "saved again"). Thus, those who reject "once saved, always saved" can only replace it with "once lost, always lost"!
John assures us, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know [present knowledge] that ye have [present possession] eternal life..." (1 Jn:5:13). To call it eternal life, if the person who had it could lose it and suffer eternal death, would be a mockery. On the contrary, eternal life is linked with the promise that one cannot perish—a clear assurance of "eternal security" or "once saved, always saved." John:3:16 promises those who believe in Jesus Christ that they "shall not perish, but have everlasting life." John:5:24 again says, "hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation...." One could not ask for clearer or greater assurance than the words of Jesus: "I give unto them [My sheep] eternal life and they shall never perish" (Jn:10:28).
If, having received eternal life, we could lose it and perish, it would make Christ a liar. Yet this is the teaching of Roman Catholicism. Therefore the Mass is declared to be a sacrifice of Christ's body and blood whereby God pardons sinners. Thus Christ's once-for-all sacrifice upon the cross was not sufficient. And like Roman Catholicism, the idea that a person once saved could be lost also denies the sufficiency of Christ's death upon the cross 1,900 years ago.
If sin causes the loss of salvation, what kind or amount of sin does it take? There is no verse in the Bible that tells us. We are told that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn:1:9)—so apparently any sin can be forgiven. Even those who teach falling away rarely if ever say they got "saved again." Rather, they confessed their sin and were forgiven. Hebrews:12:3-11 tells us that every Christian sins, and that instead of causing a loss of salvation, sin brings God's chastening upon us as His children. If when we sinned we ceased to be God's children, He would have no one to chastise—yet he "scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." Indeed, chastening is a sign that we are God's children, not that we have lost our salvation: "if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons."
Some teach that one must be baptized to be saved; others that one must "speak in tongues." Both are forms of salvation by works. Some people lack assurance of salvation because they haven't "spoken in tongues," others are confident they are saved because they think they have. Both are like those who say, "Lord, Lord, have we thy name done many wonderful works?" (Mat:7:21-23). They are relying on their works to prove they are saved, instead of upon God's grace. Nor does Jesus say, "You were once saved but lost your salvation." He says, "I never knew you."
Here is an important distinction. Those who believe in falling away would say of a professing Christian who has denied the faith and is living in unrepentant sin that he has "fallen from grace" and has "lost his salvation." In contrast, those who believe in eternal security, while no more tolerant of such conduct, would say of the same person that probably Christ "never knew him"—he was never a Christian. We must give the comfort and assurance of Scripture to those who are saved; but at the same time we must not give false and unbiblical comfort to those who merely say they are saved but deny with their lives what they profess with their lips.
Are we not then saved by our works? Indeed not! In 1 Corinthians:3:13-15 every Christian's works are tried by fire at the "judgment seat of Christ" before which "we must all appear" (2 Cor:5:10). Good works bring rewards; a lack of them does not cause loss of salvation. The person who hasn't even one good work (all of his works are burned up) is still "saved; yet so as by fire" (v 15). We would not think such a person was saved at all. Yet one who may seem outwardly not to be a Christian, who has no good works as evidence—if he has truly received the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, is then "saved as by fire" and shall never perish in spite of his lack of works.
Do we then, on the basis of "once saved, always saved," encourage Christians to "sin that grace may abound"? With Paul we say, "God forbid!" We offer no comfort or assurance to those living in sin. We don't say, you're okay because you once made a "decision for Christ." Instead, we warn: "If you are not willing right now to live fully for Christ as Lord of your life, how can you say that you were really sincere when you supposedly committed yourself to Him at some time in the past?" And to all, we declare with Paul, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves" (2 Cor:13:5).
Our confidence for eternity rests in His unchanging love and grace and the sufficiency of God's provision in Christ—not in our worth or performance. Only when this is clear do we have real peace with God. Only then can we truly love Him and live for Him out of gratitude for the eternal life He has given to us as a free gift of His grace—a gift He will not take back and which He makes certain can never be lost! TBC
By Dave Hunt

Friday, June 1, 2018

Guest Post: Kingdom/Dominion Theology

By Dave Hunt 
(from 1987)
There are many factors that make up the growing apostasy and seduction of the church. One of the most alarming, least understood, and fastest spreading errors is the teaching that earth instead of heaven is the ultimate home for the church, and that her goal is to take over the world and establish the kingdom of God. Only then, it is said, can Christ return—not, however, to take us to His Father's house as He promised His disciples in John 14, but to reign over the Kingdom which we have established for Him. As we mentioned in the last chapter of Seduction, if the real Jesus Christ is going to catch His bride up from earth to meet Him in the air (1 Thes:4:17), then those who work to build a kingdom for a "Christ" whom they will meet with their feet planted on earth have been under heavy delusion indeed! They have been working for the Antichrist!
One hears a great deal about Christ returning only when the church is a unified, vibrant, forceful, spotless, wrinkle-free Bride (Harvest Time, Nov. 1986, etc.). There is no scripture to support such teaching. Nor is it logical that Christians who happen to be alive when Christ returns must attain to perfection in order to join (at that heavenly marriage to the Lamb) millions of Christians from past ages who attained to no such perfection at all.
The only righteousness that any of us has is that of Christ himself. Our works qualify us for rewards but not for heaven. "Absent from the body, present with the Lord" (2 Cor:5:8) is as true of carnal Christians when they die as it is for the most victorious. Christians from all ages "must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ" (2 Cor:5:10), and when our works have been tried with fire (1 Cor:3:13-15) and in shame we have confessed our sins and failures (1 Jn:1:9) and He has wiped "all tears from [our] eyes(Rev:21:4), then and not until then will His bride be without spot and wrinkle, united before the Father's throne in heaven and ready to join in that great feast above!
We ought to seek to live holy and faithful lives to His glory. His coming, however, is not dependent upon that small fraction of the church alive at the time reaching some perfection which millions and perhaps billions of Christians already in His presence through death have never attained.
This teaching can be traced back several centuries, but its recent explosion dates from the Latter Rain, or Manifest Sons, movement that began in 1948 in Canada in apparent revival. It was declared to be heresy by the Assemblies of God in 1950. Its relationship to the positive-confession (Hagin, Copeland, et al.) and discipleship (Mumford, Simpson, et al.) movements is clearly established. Obviously, if we can get whatever we confess, then we ought to confess healing and immortality and peace and prosperity and salvation for the world. This is in fact where the name "Manifest Sons" comes from: the last-days overcomers must manifest total victory over all foes in these bodies without a resurrection, even over death.
Earl Paulk is a major leader in this movement as are John Giminez of Rock Church and Bob Weiner of Maranatha Ministries, active on college campuses across the country. Pat Robertson at times sounds as though he leans strongly toward this position (for example, his Dec. 9, 1984 talk at Bob Tilton's church), as does James Robison. Hardcore Manifest Sons teachers make such statements as, "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." (See Beyond Seduction, p 244.)
Others are more cautious and even devious in their statements. Earl Paulk, for example, claims to believe in the Rapture in spite of the fact that he has written entire books denouncing it. Just as Mormons use words such as salvation, eternal life, God, etc. but have their own meaning, so those in this movement use terminology with accepted meaning for other Christians in order to confuse. It is a mistake to assume that by "Rapture" Paulk means being caught up to meet Christ in the air with the resurrected saints and taken to heaven. Like the "Happy Hunters" (who tell of seeing a huge Christ at a crusade in Fresno—presumably not as tall as Oral Roberts' 900-foot Jesus— and Christians being raptured up into Him and being recycled back to earth) those in this movement use the term "Rapture" to signify reaching a new oneness with Christ that enables them to fully manifest His power and glory.
Prophetic scriptures are either denied, interpreted as having already been fulfilled (much of Revelation happened at A.D. 70, for example) or spiritualized. The church is Israel, which no longer has any place in prophecy as a nation; Armageddon is the ongoing battle between the forces of light and darkness; the Antichrist is a spirit not a person; we are already in the Great Tribulation and the Millennium both, etc. Instead of exegeting the Bible, there are new revelations. For example, the brochure for the Atlanta '86 conference for pastors, held at Paulk's church with speakers such as Oral Roberts, Tommy Reid, et al., declared that Christ's return was being held up by the reluctance to accept new revelation. The latter are presented by a new class of prophets who cannot be judged but must be obeyed.
Closely related in belief are several other groups: reconstructionists such as Gary North, et al., as well as Christian socialists such as Jim Wallis (of Sojourners), Tom Sine, et al., whose major focus is upon cleaning up the earth ecologically, politically, economically, sociologically, etc. They imagine that the main function of the church is to restore the Edenic state—hardly helpful, since Eden is where sin began.
Many groups are beginning to work together who disagree on some points but share with the New Agers a desire to clean up earth and establish the Kingdom. I expect such cooperative efforts to grow, even involving Christian leaders who are not aware of what they are actually promoting. One example is the Coalition on Revival, which includes such evangelical stalwarts as Joseph Aldrich, Bill Bright, Armin Gesswein, Josh McDowell and J.I. Packer, who are not aware that the actual intention of the leaders of COR falls in line with what we are discussing.
I give brief attention to this subject in the last chapter of Beyond Seduction. A more detailed treatment is provided in Whatever Happened to Heaven? Be on your guard. Keep close to our Lord and to His Word. Be Bereans who don't rely upon the interpretation of someone else (be he Dave Hunt, Robert Schuller or anyone) but who know what they believe and why on the basis of God's Word.
Last month we referred to the growing kingdom/dominion/restoration movement, and the related danger of sincere people being involved in a vast international cooperative effort to bring peace and justice upon the earth through humanistic means. Sojourners magazine (headed by Jim Wallis) boasts that it "has become a connection point...creating a network of faith and action among evangelicals, Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants, the historic peace churches, the charismatic renewal, the peace movement, and non-Christians looking for a faith that touches the world they live in." Any such "faith" that this ecumenical movement (which includes non- and even anti-Christians) can agree upon is obviously not the faith once for all delivered to the saints for which Jude tells us we must earnestly contend. In fact, this cooperative effort effectively undermines true biblical faith.
Significantly, the Pope is emerging as the inspirational leader in an unprecedented international ecumenism. He has cleverly declared that "liberation theology" (divested of Marxism) is the hope of the world and that a common concern for the welfare of humanity will be the means of uniting all religions into one. Mother Teresa is the champion of the humanistic ecumenism which the Pope advocates and she has become so highly respected that to criticize her would be unthinkable. She is the epitome of good works, selfless love and Christlike living—or so it seems. Yet she enjoys the acclaim of everyone in all religions, which is very un-Christlike (Mat:10:22, Mk 13:13).
The reason for her popularity (which has deceived many evangelical leaders into unreservedly praising her) is her universalism. Although she seems to glorify Christ, she says He is in everyone. Indeed, AIDS victims are declared to be "Jesus in a pitiful disguise." In her speech at the United Nations after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize (Jesus never gained such acceptance by the world), Mother Teresa explained that she wanted to get everyone to pray because prayer "purifies the heart," and when the heart is pure you "see God in everyone." Hers is the "god" of all religions. Her goal is to bring everyone "nearer to God," and when that happens, she explains, if you are a Buddhist you become a better Buddhist, if a Hindu you become a better Hindu, etc.
We cannot fault her selfless, sacrificial example of charity. It is staggering that this woman has been responsible for taking 40,000 derelicts out of the gutters of Calcutta and her work is spreading around the world. There is, however, something more important than helping the suffering and afflicted to die in a clean bed. It is in fact not love at all to clean them up only to let them go out into eternity without Christ. That is comparable to carefully attending to a blister on the finger while ignoring the fact that the patient has a ruptured appendix.
Both in Calcutta and New Delhi, Pope John Paul II declared that he had come to learn from the great spiritual heritage of India. (This "great spiritual heritage" of Hinduism has left India the poorest, most pitiful country in the world.) One year ago he "walked down the aisle of Rome's main synagogue to thunderous applause and sat beside Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff." The historic event was described as "an unprecedented papal gesture to end nearly 2,000 years of enmity between Catholics and Jews." The Pope has met with leading Muslims and Buddhists, including the Dalai Lama, and in doing so has repeatedly called for a uniting of all the world's religions. Last October 27 he succeeded in gathering at Assisi representatives of most of the world's leading religions in a "Day of Prayer for Peace." In his invitation he declared that "the challenge of peace, as it is presently posed to every human conscience, transcends religious differences."
It is a powerful appeal: the necessity to unite to rescue the world from a nuclear holocaust and to work together in the humanitarian cause of the poor and needy. And along with this is the equally irresistible power of a common mystical experience of "God" that frees one from the necessity of theological arguments and thus dissolves the basic conflict between religions. The charismatic movement is made to order for the new ecumenism and significantly it is the charismatics who are almost frantically pushing "the greatest move of unity in history." An integral part of this "move" is Protestant-Catholic "unity" which has Protestant charismatics overlooking fundamental doctrinal differences and embracing occultic practices.
With the clear biblical warnings of a coming world religion (Rev:13:4,8) we do well to watch these developments carefully and to seek to rescue as many as we can from compromise that denies the true faith. TBC
By Dave Hunt

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Guest Post: Our Focus is Heaven

The Bible begins with God creating the universe and it ends with Him destroying it entirely and creating afresh a "new heaven and a new earth" (Rev:21:1). From beginning to end history is the eternal God fulfilling His immutable purpose. Once we get a clear view of the cosmic proportions of God's plan, we lose any delusions as to our own greatness and are delivered from all mistaken notions that we can somehow fulfill human destiny by our own efforts.
Of course that very delusion fuels the humanist's cosmic aspirations. As part of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), President Carter, a professing Christian, cast this message into the cosmosaboard the Voyager spacecraft. It was addressed to any spacefaring civilization that might chance to intercept Voyager:
This is a present from a small distant world...attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope join a community of galactic civilizations. This [is] our hope and our a vast and awesome universe.
Jimmy Carter, President of the United States, The White House - June 16, 1977
Far from hoping to join a community of galactic civilizations, the Christian looks forward to the destruction of the present cosmos and the creation by God of a new universe that will be inhabited by a new race of twice-born children of God, who have received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and have been made new creations in Him. Once that tremendous fact grips one's heart it becomes clear why salvation must be by grace alone; it is nothing that we deserve or could accomplish, but it must be entirely God doing for us what we could never do for ourselves.
A new heaven and a new earth inhabited by a new race descended from a new Adam, Jesus Christ himself! That is God's purpose and it is staggering to contemplate! From this perspective, it is ludicrous to imagine that the church by organizing conservative voters or even by preaching the gospel is going to establish God's kingdom. The true and eternal kingdom of God involves not just this small planet but all creation, including the purging by the blood of Jesus and the remaking of heaven itself. Nothing could be better established from Scripture and logic than the glorious fact that the ultimate fulfillment of God's purpose is something that only He can accomplish. Obviously we can only be part of it as we allow Him to have His way in and through us.
This realization puts us on our faces before God in wonder and worship, and causes us to yield ourselves wholeheartedly to His will. Unfortunately, that awesome sense of the greatness of God and the cosmic and eternal proportions of the work that He is doing seems largely absent from Christianity today. Could this be why so many carry the self-imposed burdens of the many "programs" they are trying to put into effect in order to "live victorious lives" or to "advance the cause of Christ"? When we see that the task is totally beyond our capabilities, then we cease from our striving and begin to allow Him to work in and through us by His mighty power.
Many object to this heavenly/eternal perspective as "pie-in-the-sky in the sweet-bye 'n' bye" talk. There are warnings about being so "heavenly minded" that one is of "no earthly good." We must be practical, so the argument goes, meeting first of all the earthly needs of ourselves and others and doing our best to make this world a better place for everyone.
Yet Christ himself continually turned the focus of His followers from earth to heaven. Throughout Scripture we are counseled to live at all times with the understanding that life on this earth is very brief and that it is followed by an eternal existence of either indescribable bliss in God's presence or unbearable agony in separation from Him. Peter declares that the knowledge that "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise [and] the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Pt 3:10) causes us to live godly lives. And John adds that the hope of being transformed into His likeness when He shall appear causes us to purify ourselves (1 Jn:3:2-3).
Of course, the greatest motivation is the love that is born in our hearts as we realize that the Creator of the universe loves each of us so much that He became a man to die in our place. This love has captured our affection so that we gladly declare that we are His and His alone for eternity. Accepting the death of Jesus Christ as our own death, we have given up life as we would have lived it so that He can live His resurrection life through us. The eternal Kingdom has already begun in every heart where the King reigns! Moreover, as His bride, we long to be united in that heavenly marriage with Christ our Bridegroom and to honeymoon with Him forever in His Father's house! Forever we will worship and praise the One who has made all things new!
Many would have us believe that self-love is the answer to the world's ills. Both Christian leaders and the unsaved are teaching and preaching this lie. It is self-love that has wrought the ills of the world: greed, lust, and envy. And yet proponents of self-love or self-esteem say this is what will bring inner peace.
A recent newspaper article stated, "About the same time they learned their former governor was holed up in Japan studying Zen [Buddhism], Californians were given the nation's first governmental task force devoted to boosting self-esteem. The Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility will spend $735,000 over the next three years trying to prevent crime, drug abuse and other social ills by making folks feel better about themselves."
Peace cannot be achieved personally until the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, reigns in our hearts. And peace on this earth will not be seen until the King of Kings comes to reign. But startlingly enough, even His presence will not turn men from their self-determination to rule their own kingdom (see Rev:20:7-10).
Message 7 in the new video series "Seduction and Beyond" presents further thoughts on kingdom/dominion theology:
You see, the kingdom of God is not the millennium. The Word of God distinctly tells us, "Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom: "You get that in Psalm 145. Even Nebuchadnezzar knew that. You get that in chapter 4 and chapter 7 of Daniel. Isaiah:9:6, that verse that we know so well, that we quote each Christmas particularly: "For unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given. And the government will be upon his shoulders. And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father..." And then what does the next verse say? "And of his kingdom and peace there will be no end." No end.
Yet, the millennium ends, and with the greatest war the world has ever seen. Satan has been loosed, he deceives the nations and they march upon Jerusalem. At that time, Jesus himself has been reigning over this earth for 1,000 years. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb. (Isa:11:6). He has brought peace to this earth. It is not the kingdom of God, but the final proof of the incorrigible nature of the human heart. And there is no hope except we deny self and take up the cross and follow Jesus Christ. The kingdom involves a new heaven and a new earth (Rev:21:1). And that new universe is only to be inhabited by those who have been willing to become new creatures in Christ Jesus. Who have allowed Jesus Christ to take over and make them new. And for whom old things have passed away; all things have become new. They look to Him and to Him alone to be their life; to be their all....
The Bible should be reverenced as doing all that words can do to bring us to God—that is, to point the way. But the life-giving power of Christ does not reside in Greek and Hebrew syntax, but in the quickening of the Holy Spirit; for "the gospel is not in word only, but in power and in much assurance of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thes:1:5). What folly to ascribe to the letter of Scripture that power which the words themselves most plainly tell us is solely in the quickening Spirit of God!
Yet Scripture has suffered this very perversion of teaching at the hands of those who claim to uphold most ardently its infallible inspiration. Thus, many profess a sound doctrinal understanding of the letter of Scripture, but at the same time they reject the very work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and lives to which the plainest meaning of the Scripture they so zealously study and guard would point them!
By Dave Hunt