Tag: Christianity

WHAT MAKES YOU SO SURE YOUR RELIGION IS THE RIGHT ONE?

Usually people ask this question not in an honest, inquiring way, but rhetorically, cynically, critically. Or perhaps in these more militant days they’ll just tell you straight that you can’t know anything for sure-except, of course, what they believe. They want you to be unsure of your faith, and preferably to abandon it altogether, so that you’re in the same spiritual condition as they are: lost and without hope, and more importantly, without any moral compass to control how they live and how they think.

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Pilate said, cynically, “What is truth?” He was on the wrong side of history.

If you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything, like rocks turning into humans and men becoming women. If you’re too open-minded your brains will fall out. And remember, it’s those on the narrow path who are on the way to life, while the broad road, which our society wants us all to travel on, is the road to destruction.

It’s time not to shrink to the size of a mouse when someone challenges us with unbelief and lies from the pit of hell, but to stand firm and strong, in the power of the creator and sustainer of all things. There’s plenty of reason to know what we believe and to know what we know. If you want evidence and reason to support your faith you can find it in history and archaeology-if you avoid the revised versions and the atheistic, relativistic rhetoric. You can find evidence in true science, and in nature.

The Western world is sliding rapidly down a slippery slope, not just to irrelevance and confusion and division and social decay, with only a few brave souls working to stop the rot, but to attack from others who are very committed in their own mistaken beliefs, and who are determined to impose them on the rest of us as soon as they are able.

It’s time to stand firm. It’s time to “..be still and know (not ‘hope’) that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). It’s time to put on that spiritual armor, most particularly “the shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:16). And when someone asks you how you know your God is the real God, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). We spend hours a day entertaining ourselves: why not spend a half hour a day building up our faith?

We don’t have to be militant, or rude, or arrogant or smug: share your faith with gentleness. But we do need to remember all those examples from the past given to us, of people who have stood firm in the face of hatred and rejection of our God. The most important and relevant of those is Jesus himself, who could not and would not deny himself or his Father. He stood firm to the end, and because of his obedience, “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name above all names” (Philippians 2:9).

(To my regular readers-I’ll be returning to the subject of the rapture soon. Thanks for your time).

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THE POST-TRUTH POST

Two kinds of people are interested in the type of culture we live in today-those who are concerned about it, and hope and pray to reverse the negative trends, and those who are promoting the negative trends…

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Of course, the promoters, the drivers of our social and political world, don’t see their view as being negative. They’re heading, they think, towards a utopia in which all shackles of morality and propriety are totally removed; in which the old order of things is done away; in which the Judaeo-Christian world-view is abolished and forgotten.

I was listening to an interview with a member of Ravi Zacharias’ team, who was talking about our “post-truth” culture. We’ve moved, he said, from “post-modernism” into “post-truth”. Post-truth culture is one in which, as in post-modernism, truth is perceived to be subjective only (my truth is my truth, your truth is yours), but also one in which the facts don’t matter any more. What matters now is feelings and preferences.

This definition and observation didn’t tell me anything new. I’ve realized for many years that a large number of people-perhaps a majority- aren’t interested in genuine debate or inquiry in order to arrive at facts or truths. Instead, they’ve made up their minds already, based upon what they want to be true, even if it’s blatantly obvious that it isn’t. They only seek to bolster their views with any line of reasoning, faulty or not, which serves to intimidate and bash the “ignorant” and “bigoted” rabble.

In defense of my own ignorance and bigotry, I can say that I once held to many politically-correct tenets which I now see as being faulty or destructive. No-one can accuse me correctly of being uninformed and closed-minded, because I’ve seen both sides of the moral, political, philosophical and social divide.

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I use the word “divide” in its singular sense intentionally here, because if you haven’t noticed, our culture, ostensibly rich and self-proclaimed to be “diverse”, is actually shaping up to be two-sided and polarized. On the one side we have those holding to the traditional view of society and culture which is largely Christian in its morality; one-man one-woman marriages; a uniform view of right and wrong; an un-wavering patriotism; age-old work ethics, and a conservative understanding of immigration and societal growth in which those coming in do so legally, and with the intention of blending into what is already here.

On the other side of the cultural divide we have those pushing, particularly since the start of President Obama’s reign, with all their might to demolish all the above standards, and to replace them with anything else which suits their no-holds barred morality. The Judaeo-Christian view of things is the one obstacle in their road to Utopia.

The election of Donald Trump represented the worst thing which could have happened to the progressive agenda. Trump is no choir boy by any standards, but he did and does hold to the principles of a predominantly Christian culture, as outlined above, and he does take serious note that there are many millions who still see society in its traditional sense. Consequently, the effort to remove him has been driven by angry desperation, and a desperation which claims to be tolerant but which in fact refuses to listen, and which unashamedly negates any reference to objective, verifiable facts. Even the laws and constitution of the land are seen to be enemies in our post-truth age. And so my post returns to its starting point.

The throwing-off of Truth is nothing new. It’s been done over and over again, since the very beginning of man. Someone gets tired of living by the rules-particularly God’s rules-and here comes the abandonment of rational thought, and the embracing of anything which opposes it. It’s a prideful attitude which is destined for failure. The underlying belief is that either there is no God, no Person with any expectations of us, or that even if there is, he/she/it is irrelevant and not worth considering anyway. It’s rather like your left hand intently disliking the rest of your body and so deciding its going to go off and live independently of the rest of you.

We can no more live in a universe without God than we can live in a world without air. And unfortunately for those rebelling against the way of things, against the nature of the real universe governed by its creator, there is nowhere else to go. The One who ultimately controls all things, who gives and sustains life, does indeed have certain expectations. He also has no intention of giving away His universe.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOCIALISM AND CHRISTIANITY

Is there a difference between socialism and Christianity? If so, what is it? Are socialists the real Christians while others are hypocritical fakes? Do socialism and Christianity go together?

Since the nineteenth century socialists have claimed that anyone who doesn’t agree with them politically is self-seeking and doesn’t deserve to be called a “Christian”. In fact, Marx, perhaps the most famous name in the history of socialism, was strongly opposed to the Christian Church. Today, socialists are still more likely to be opposed to the Christian Church than for it, or they consider themselves to be the real Christians. If you vote on the “right”, they insist, you’re obviously greedy and don’t care about the poor-you only care about yourself…

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The difference between socialism and Christianity is clearly seen in the book of Acts-sometimes used erroneously as a selling point for socialism:

“…all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as anyone had need” (Acts 2:44-45).

There are three important things to see in this passage. First, there’s no doubt that these first Church-age believers really were generous. Secondly, however, they were generous towards each other, not to the state’s coffers or the tax man. Thirdly and most importantly, the giving and distribution seen in chapter 2 was voluntary.

The obvious difference between a socialistic redistribution of wealth and real, original Christianity is that socialism demands and takes money from you in the form of high taxes, whether you want to give it or not, and uses and distributes it as the ruling elite decides. Sometimes it’s allocated to anything but Christian causes, such as abortion or sex-changes. Socialism takes your money by “law” with the threat of punishment, whether you want to part with it or not, and whether you can afford it or not: Christian giving is willing, voluntary, joyful, generous giving from the heart, and from wealth that you have earned from your own hard work and enterprise. Christian giving doesn’t tax people, whereas socialist economies take from everyone whether they want to pay or not. Socialism saps the will of many achievers and workers: why innovate and work hard if half of your reward will be taken away from you and given to someone who could work but won’t? Why work hard when your money is to be taken away without your say-so and given to individuals and cultures, who are poor because by their political policies there is no incentive or will or right to work for themselves?

The term “Christian” (“Christ-one”) was originally a title for those who were believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is not primarily about politics at all: it’s about repentance from sin, as defined in scripture, and faith in Christ’s sacrificial life, death and resurrection.

No, God doesn’t “vote” left or right: obviously he doesn’t vote at all. Instead he has his own standards which are fixed and eternal, independent of human reasoning. Those standards may or may not be followed by individuals on the left or the right of the political spectrum. However, socialism-solidly and often extremely “left” of center (if there is such a thing as “center”) is predominantly atheistic or at least simply secular. We can see this in the present-day use of the US Constitution’s “establishment” clause, being used by the “left” as a weapon against expressions of faith, and almost always Christian faith. The clause was originally and clearly intended to protect the free exercise of religion-all religion-without the ability of the government to establish and impose one on its people.

Socialism is often, as prescribed by Marx himself in his communist “Manifesto”, established or promoted by violent rebellion or the threat of it. In contrast the gospel is about love and mercy for all men-rich or poor-and obedience to established authority. See my post on the birth and aims of socialism:

https://nickyfisher.com/2012/06/09/war-religion-and-atheism-part-2-marx-and-engels/

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Socialism is intrinsically opposed to the Church and to the traditional, Biblical family. You can see that in today’s world very clearly. Many on the “right” of the political spectrum are on the right not because they’re greedy, but because they see the extreme “left” to be at war against Christian social values and principles. And don’t forget that greed is not confined to the “right”-there are billionaire and millionaire socialists. You can’t get rich by giving it away now, can you?

My dad was the most godly man I’ve ever known, and the most generous. He lived in humility and holiness as much as any man does, and he considered himself a socialist. He felt that way because when he was a child the people who did all the hard physical graft-including his own dad-were paid little and worked long hours, receiving little respect from their employers, and socialism promised to fix that problem. I don’t think he realized that all self-respecting socialist societies, particularly at the time he was raised, were based on atheism, naturalism and secularism.

But given his life as an example, I don’t doubt that a socialist who may be wrong about a few Biblical doctrines as he was can also be a real Christian in the original, true sense-and a good one.

Socialism is fundamentally opposed to freedom of enterprise, conscience and thought, and attempts to shape all minds into its mold, most particularly now through indoctrination in education, and in the guise of entertainment.

 

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY CHURCHES?

Why are there so many churches? This question is frequently more of an attack on the Christian faith than a genuine inquiry. The underlying assertion is that if Christianity were “true” and real, and if Christians weren’t “all hypocrites”, there would only be one denomination, to which all Christians would belong in perfect love and harmony…

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Here is my own un-churchified, un-theologicalized answer to the question, offered to anyone with an open mind. I say “open mind” because some of the people who ask such questions, while thinking of themselves as being open minded and tolerant, have a very closed mind when it comes to the Christian Church.

The whole matter of “religion” in general comes into the answer here, because what needs to be considered is that other religions and belief systems are divided to at least as great an extent. Hinduism is an umbrella religion consisting of many different beliefs, “paths” and millions of gods. Buddhism has sub-divided endlessly since its inception, often with friction between the schools and organizations. Muslims are clearly at each others throats (literally) in many parts of the world and have been since Mohamed. So to accuse only Christians of division is unrealistic and intolerant.

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The problem lies not in the nature of the Christian faith but in human nature. When Jesus Christ walked the earth there was one Christian faith, and Jesus even had a hard time getting some of his followers to understand or to accept what he was trying to teach them then. From the moment he left this world human nature began to attempt to wrest the Faith from those he entrusted it with. Some thought they had better ideas. Some wanted to ride on the success of the movement. Some wanted to benefit financially from it, and some simply misunderstood it. Some insisted that their own “revelations” trumped those passed on from Christ and the apostles.

Now bring the whole problem forward to our present age. When someone with a strong opinion and personality doesn’t like what he sees in his denomination, he attempts either to change it, or to go off and start his own church. He may have very good reason to, if what he has seen is in fact a serious departure from the faith once delivered to the saints. Many churches and denominations have been started as a genuine way of attempting to right what has gone wrong.

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Alternatively, he may be mistaken, misled, or self-serving. He may alter what he’s heard because he really thinks he’s right-even if he isn’t, and he proceeds to convince others that he’s right, possibly using a little exaggeration or deception to help the process. In such a way entire pseudo-Christian cults are born, and millions of people-gullible or just fooled-are misled.

When a man or woman claims to be a Christian there’s no immediate guarantee that he or she really is one, any more than a box popping up on your screen claiming to offer your computer a clean-up for free is genuine or hassle-free. And this problem is humanity-wide. It’s not just within the Church, it’s in politics, the retail world, advertising, the workplace, education and the home: it’s everywhere. So do yourself a favor: don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just because there are numerous divisions in the Church-some of which are perfectly legitimate-it doesn’t mean there’s no truth to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So what’s the fix?

The fix is to consult the instruction manual-the Bible-as it was originally written, and use it to discern who’s telling the truth and who isn’t. Don’t even believe your organization’s claim that its own translation of the Bible is the right one: check it out for yourself. And what about the common accusation that the Bible was “All written hundreds of years after the fact”, and that “It’s all been changed hundreds of times”? Please refer to my post:

https://nickyfisher.com/2015/06/14/a-spiritual-defense-strategy-acronym-2/

RAPTURE: UNSPOKEN WORDS, AND THE END OF THE CHURCH AGE

At the outset I need to make one thing very clear, and should have done so at the start of my series: I am not an amillenialist…

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WHAT PAUL AND JESUS DID NOT SAY

Sometimes facts can be clear or implied by what isn’t said, and I believe that’s the case with the rapture. Yes, Paul called the rapture a “mystery” (1 Corinthians 15:21), and his designation is used today to bolster the idea that Jesus will come like a thief in the night for his Church (see the previous part of my series).  But Paul wasn’t secretive about what he knew about the rapture: he went on to describe it (verses 51-55). 

Paul warned the Thessalonians not to be easily led into the notion that the ‘day of the Lord’ had already arrived. Evidently some such deception was going around at that time. According to Peter, the “day of the Lord” includes the destruction of this present earth (2 Peter 3:10-13), and according to Paul it will include sudden destruction falling on an ungodly world of people (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4). So the ‘day of the Lord’ includes the Tribulation and following events. Paul told the Thessalonians what to look out for as signs that the day of the Lord had really begun. He said:

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3 KJV).

Please notice what Paul did not say. He didn’t say anything like this:

 “That day will not come before we’re all taken into heaven, so don’t worry about it”.

This to me is very telling. It seems like a serious omission, if he really knew and was preaching, as some claim, that there was a rapture coming before Antichrist is revealed. The first sign, said Paul, was a falling away and the man of perdition: not rapture. This fact is compounded when we see that Jesus identified the very same event, which he called ‘the abomination of desolation’, as a clear sign that the Tribulation was about to begin. It has to be significant that Jesus said nothing about any rapture coming before the “abomination” (Matthew 24:15-22). He wrote about the rapture in Matthew chapter 24: why didn’t he say that it would occur first as a deliverance from what was to come? Instead, he said “..but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (verse 14). The first clear event, according to Jesus, was the abomination.  He also spoke to his disciples as though they would see that sign.

WHEN WILL THE END OF THE CHURCH AGE BE?

The beginning of Daniel’s seven-year period has been assigned by “prophecy experts” as the end of the Church age, since it marks the continuation of God’s dealings with Israel. They presume that it is therefore the end of God’s dealings with the Church on the earth, and as such, the Church is no longer required to be on the earth. But are there any clearer indicators of the end of the Church age?

THE FULNESS OF THE GENTILES

Paul said that “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25). So a very pertinent question here would be, “when does the hardening of Israel end, according to Bible prophecy?”. This will mark the end of the ‘full number of Gentiles’ being saved. And this in turn would, surely, mark the end of the “Church Age”.

If we look into some of the Old Testament Prophecies, we find that the Jews will come to realize who their Messiah is when he appears physically over Jerusalem, at the end of the Tribulation (Zechariah chapter 12, especially verse 10). Even then, considering that salvation will still be by faith in Jesus, is it right to see an end of the Church Age at any other time than his visible return to the earth? The gospel will still be preached during the Tribulation (Revelation 14:6), so how can we arbitrarily put an end to the Church age before it?

DO THE 24 ELDERS REPRESENT THE ALREADY RAPTURED CHURCH?

Some Pre-Trib. teachers refer to the twenty four elders who John sees on thrones, initially observed in Revelation chapters 4 and 5, situated around the throne of God. The elders sing of redemption (5:9-10), and the NIV translates certain words in their song to ‘they’ and ‘them’, suggesting the elders are referring to the redemption of others who are still on the earth. Pre-Trib. teachers say that the words should be translated ‘we’ and ‘us’, as they are in the KJV. In other words, the redemption the elders are singing of is their own, and they are actually representatives of the Church, and possibly Old Testament saints also. This, say the experts, signifies that the Church will be in heaven before the Tribulation.

I don’t know enough about Greek to comment on whether these words should be translated to refer to the elders around the throne, or to humans still on the earth. I can only make a couple of observations here. One is that when John is taken on his trip to heaven, which Pre-Tribulationists say is a type of the rapture, the elders are already there and settled in: they didn’t arrive with John in his ‘rapture’ (chapter 4 verses 4, and 9-11). Instead they already know everything about what’s going on and proceed to tell John (5:5; 7:13-21). This seems strange since John was an original member of the Church. More that that, since John was the disciple who was especially close to Jesus, it seems odd that if at least twelve of the elders in heaven are representatives of the Church, he wasn’t even invited to “take his place” with them. Also, there are still followers of Jesus on the earth, as I have already pointed out. Are these believers, who “hold to the testimony of Jesus Christ”, and who willingly give their lives for him, not to be represented in heaven?