Tag Archive: Christianity


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.

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Can you call yourself a Christian only if you vote “left”, or only if you vote “right”?

Since the nineteenth century some socialists in the West have claimed that they are the real Christians in society, and that anyone who doesn’t agree with them politically is self-seeking and doesn’t deserve to be called a “Christian”. If you vote on the “right”, they insist, you’re obviously greedy and don’t care about the poor-you only care about yourself. Now many of them are turning openly against people of faith…USCurrency_Federal_Reserve

The difference between socialism and Christianity is clearly seen in the book of Acts-sometimes used erroneously as a selling point for socialism. In chapter two we read that:

“…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 the 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 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. 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?

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, but repentance from sin 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? 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/

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?

 

Welcome to part three of my up-dated study on the rapture. Herein read more challenges to the politically-correct position…

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IS THE CHURCH MISSING FROM REVELATION CHAPTER 4 ONWARD?

Update November 2018: You can get my new book on the rapture, from Amazon-paperback or e-book. The link is at the bottom of this post.

Pre-Tribulation believers say that while the Church is spoken of in the early chapters of Revelation, which they believe represent the Church age, the word “Church” is nowhere mentioned in the rest of Revelation, which covers the Tribulation. This is taken to be evidence that it will no longer be on the earth during that time. However, what they don’t consider is that all the prophesies of Revelation are given to the churches-not just the first four chapters. After the prophesies are all given, we read:

“I Jesus have sent my angel to give you this testimony FOR THE CHURCHES” (Revelation 22:16).

THE  ENTIRE BOOK OF REVELATION IS A TESTIMONY TO THE CHURCHES

Jesus said that the entire book of Revelation is a testimony for the churches. We first hear of this “testimony” at the beginning of chapter 1, where we’re told that Jesus Christ’s revelation was concerning “what must soon take place”. This includes not just the prophesies but the letters to the churches: the entire thing is:

“the testimony of Jesus Christ” (verse 2).

The churches-supposedly part of the church age-are given the same “testimony” as those who are martyred during the Tribulation.

So one message is told throughout the book. There are not separate testimonies for the rapture candidates and the failures. The book is a unit – not divided in two – and is as relevant to the Church as it is to Jews or anyone converted during the Tribulation. The prophesies, says Christ himself, are for the Church, and not for others who are “left behind”.

TESTIMONY, CHURCHES, SAINTS

There are common terms and phrases used in John’s words in both Revelation and his other New Testament writings. He used the phrase “testimony of Jesus”, in Revelation seven times, as well as using the word “testimony” separately several more times. However, “Testimony” was also a common theme in his gospel (e.g. John 21:24), much more common than it was in any other gospel or the writings of Paul. He also used the concept of “the testimony of Jesus” in two of his epistles to Church age disciples (1 John 5:6-11; 3 John 13), just as he used it to describe Christians living through the Tribulation in Revelation.

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THE SAINTS WHO BORE TESTIMONY TO JESUS

If it’s true that the Church is nowhere to be found on earth in the prophesies of Revelation, who are “those who hold to the testimony of Jesus”, being persecuted by Satan and Antichrist (Revelation 12:12; 14:12; 20:4)?  Those killed by the antichrist are identified by John as “those who bore testimony to Jesus”(Revelation 12:17). However, it’s important to see that this phrase is not reserved for those being persecuted during the tribulation. The same term is also applied to the people who are known as the saints of Church history who have been killed by the Harlot…

“…those who bore testimony to Jesus” (17:6) …

It’s applied to John and his companions-who were first century Church-age Christians-by the angel relaying the revelation:

“I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus(19:10).

John, a first century, Church-age believer, also applied the term to himself at the beginning of the book, and related it to the suffering of his own persecution:

“I John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the testimony of Jesus(Revelation 1:9).

Here is evidence of an undeniable oneness between all the believers of the real Church age-including the Tribulation: between all who “hold to the testimony of Jesus”. There are no second-class believers consigned to be “left behind” for the Tribulation.

Similarly, John spoke of the Tribulation saints ‘who obey God’s commandments’ (Revelation 12:17 and 14:12). We can’t necessarily describe this as a reference to Jews as some prophecy teachers want to, because in John’s letters he used the same Greek word when he wrote to Church-age believers of the importance of obeying God’s commandments (1 John 2:3-4; 1 John 3:22-24; 1 John 5:2-3; 2 John 1:5-6).

THE WORDS “CHURCH” AND “CHURCHES”, AND INDIVIDUALS

The word “Church” is not used in a singular sense even in chapters 1 to 4 of Revelation, and is only used to speak of “churches” in a plural sense. This word “churches” speaks of organized gatherings of believers. Perhaps the word “churches” is absent from chapters 4 to 21 because there will be no churches: they will be outlawed. Instead, there will be individual “saints” struggling to survive in a hostile world where they cannot congregate.

It’s never mentioned by the prophecy “experts” today that John did not use the words “Church” or “churches” at all in his first or second epistles (or in his gospel) even though they were written to Christians of his day. When he did say “churches” he was referring to an organized gathering. This is the same definition used by Paul and others. For example, when referring to groups of believers Paul used the word “churches” sometimes:

“Paul… and all the brothers with me , to the churches in Galatia” (Galatians 1:1-2).

However, Paul used the term “saints” for individual believers, and complimented it or contrasted it with the term “churches”:

“To the church in Corinth…together with all the saints throughout Achaia” (2 Corinthians 1:1).

Paul used the term “saints” many times for individual believers, which substituted nicely for the word “church”. For example:

“To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1).

He also used the word “believers” at times, in place of “church”:

“…let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10).

ISRAELIS ARE NOT THE MARTYRED BELIEVERS OF REVELATION

It’s not accurate to see the saints of Revelation as the people of Israel or the 144, 000, because they are clearly seen to be separate in the dragon’s persecution of them. When he fails in his attempt to wipe out Israel in chapter 12, (and this is long after the beginning of any seven year period-verse 14) he turns his efforts to trying to wipe out Christians instead:

Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring-those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (12:17).

WHO ARE THE SAINTS OF REVELATION CHAPTERS 4 TO 21?

There are “saints” in the Tribulation – we read about them being persecuted by Antichrist, the dragon, and unbelievers. For an example, see Revelation 14:11-12. The question is: who are these saints? Pre-Tribulationists claim that they are not Church age believers, but some other form of saint, perhaps specially anointed Messianic Jews, or Gentile believers saved after the Rapture. I will later comment on the “end of the Church age”, so please refer to that for a complete understanding of this subject.

In truth, the same Greek word translated “saints” is used throughout the New Testament, and it doesn’t change after Revelation chapter 3 : saints are saints. Not only that, but the Tribulation saints are “faithful to Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). How can they not be Christians? Alright, they are not called “Christians” by John, but then, John did not use the term “Christians” anywhere else in Revelation, including Christ’s letters to the churches (and neither did Jesus or the angel), or in his epistles, or in his gospel. Neither did he use the word “believers” anywhere, except once in his gospel.

The word “saints” is, however, used many times throughout the New Testament for Church-age believers, for example:

Paul…to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi…” (Philippians 1:1-2);

On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints…(not the churches) ”… in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them” (Acts 26:10);

As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda” (notice that Luke did not say that Peter “went to visit the church in Lydda” Acts 9:32).

Antichrist will make war against the “saints”- and not the “churches” – because his design is not just to eradicate organized gatherings, but to wipe out believers completely:

He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them…This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints” (Revelation 13: 7a and 10b).

THE BATTLING BRIDE?

When Christ returns to the earth with those dressed in fine white linen – those who most evangelicals regard as the raptured Church (Revelation chapter 19) – the words “Church” and “churches” are not used to describe them.

THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS

Famous “last days” prophecy teachers speak and write about the “Mother of Prostitutes” of Revelation chapter 17 as though she had been killing saints (and the scripture doesn’t say “churches”) over the two millennia since Jesus was on earth. The corrupt church and false religion has persecuted saints down through history, they say. Alright, if this is true (and it is), then the “saints” killed by the Harlot are regular Church-age believers, and called “saints” in Revelation, are they not? So what makes them any different from the “saints” mentioned in other places in Revelation, such as those who are called to patiently endure, in 14:12?

WAS JOHN’S TRIP TO HEAVEN A TYPE OF THE RAPTURE?

The calling of John into heaven before the prophecies of the judgments (chapter 4:1) is seen as a type of the Rapture, showing that the Church will similarly be called into heaven before the judgments take place.

In response, we can observe two things here. First, there is no statement that John’s trip into heaven represents the rapture of the Church. Secondly, John came back to earth as a mortal.

THE BLESSED HOPE

The pre-tribulation rapture is being called by some the “blessed hope”: it is not. The blessed hope is the appearing of Jesus:

“…while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:13).

MY NEW BOOK on the rapture, NOVEMBER 2018! HERE’S THE LINK:

 

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