Tag: The Church

PRIDE OR TRUTH

Over the years I’ve been blogging I’ve seen that the biggest yawn for readers, judging by their response-or lack of it-is any discussion of what truth is and what it means to us. I’m almost writing this post for myself, knowing that very few will be interested: hair color, hurt feelings and virtue-signaling are far more important to people now.

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Our post-modern culture has infected everyone, including the Church. Chat in some depth with a few people in your church, and you’ll find a surprising number who either don’t know their Bible-the indispensable source for the follower of the original Jesus Christ-or who think they and the “experts” know better than Paul, Peter, John, Jesus Christ, and even the Father himself. They know more about Creation, science, history, the reason for the suffering of Christ, what sin is, and almost every foundational doctrine. God didn’t create the universe or Adam, there was no world-wide Flood, Moses didn’t usher in a series of plagues to punish the Egyptians, Jesus wasn’t the Son of God and he didn’t rise from the dead.

I was once invited to dinner with a gentleman who attended the same church as I. He would always sit in a prominent place in the front row, singing louder than anyone else, as proud as he was of his voice, and his greatest efforts were always in the songs about the blood of Jesus. He was a nice guy-the model Christian, it seemed.

After dinner our discussion turned to Scripture at my request. When I read a few verses and commented on them, he replied that the passage didn’t mean what I said it meant. So I asked him what he thought it meant. His reply was “I don’t know, but it doesn’t mean that”. I pursued the issue and discovered that he believed nothing remotely similar to what we would consider to be generally accepted evangelical doctrine. The entirety of Scripture, to this man’s mind, is impossible to understand without imposing our own faulty views upon it.

Try telling the IRS that their demand for payment has no correct interpretation.

My friend attended church for years before finally and publicly renouncing his faith totally. He was not grounded in truth. He hadn’t built his house on the rock.

My response to the arrogant opposers of scripture within the Church is that you should either repent of your pride and distrust of God, or go off and start your own religion. Just don’t call it “Christianity”.

 

WHEN IT’S GOOD TO JUDGE

There’s a serious epidemic at large in the Church these days-and one of the symptoms is the refusal to make a judgment on whether something or someone is right or wrong…

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Somehow Christians have bought into the multicultural mindset to the extent that they think they would be committing a crime against humanity by pointing out that someone has got it wrong. Well pardon my incorrectness, but that’s just plain wrong!

I once wrote at some length in answer to the now common mantra that “it’s wrong to judge”, often linked to the words of Jesus when he said “Do not judge”. I pointed out that once you get that plank out of your own eye, said Jesus, you are free to lovingly help take the mote out of someone else’s eye. Therefore, Jesus wasn’t saying it’s always wrong to make a judgment: he was speaking of hypocrisy. Do not pass judgment on someone else if you are no better than they are, but do…do, once cleansed of your own hypocrisy, go on to point out faults in others, and to tell them they are wrong.

One of the many huge reasons this epidemic is a problem is that there is a multitude of false teachers out there. Some are just mistaken, but some are of the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” variety. And the wolves are leading sheep away, sometimes intentionally. The Church is in need of more sheepdogs, to give the warning that there’s danger, and then to chase off the wolves and the bloodsuckers. We’ve all been so conditioned by left-leaning philosophy that we’re afraid to point out anyone for fear of being called “judgmental”. Perhaps, in many cases, people either don’t know when a teaching is wrong, or they really do know and they’re happy to go along with it anyway.

We’ve wandered away from our Guide, which is the written Word of God. Or else the godless culture around us has had such an effect on us that we really like what we’re hearing, and we’re content to wander away from the true faith once delivered to the saints. But if we aren’t following what Christ and his apostles taught, we aren’t really Christ-Ones at all. Call that a judgmental statement if you like-I can take it.

Without the Maker’s instructions to guide us, we can only wander into mistakes, error, sin and eventually insanity. Isn’t that what’s going on in our culture already? And should we, the Church of Christ, go the same way? If we would only look at what He said we would know that it is not only the right thing to pass judgment on false teachings and false teachers, but it’s actually commanded repeatedly in the very Scriptures which tell us about our Lord and what He said to us. You can’t go a single chapter in the Bible without seeing that it’s vital for us to constantly make judgments about what is right or wrong: it’s fundamental to our faith. God has standards which He expects us to know and to keep, and there is no wishy-washy confusion or ambivalence in the mind of our Creator:

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves…” (Matthew 7:15).

Yes, dear readers, some things are wrong, some people are wrong and some teachings are wrong and often in direct opposition to our God. Very often the ones promoting them are in our churches and on our TV and devices. And it’s up to us, and particularly those claiming to be our shepherds, to get rid of them! So get that mote out of your eye, get into the true Word, and then start judging!

GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT GOD

Thank you to my loyal readers who keep coming back and wondering where I’ve been: I’m planning on being back regularly from now on…

Two things have been on my mind lately above others. One is our current political and social climate, and the other is the widespread belittlement of God even among professing believers. These two things are inextricably linked. The loss of reverence for our Creator in society as a whole but also in the Church, was bound to result in lawlessness and degradation. The worst aspect to this is that many professing Christians have succumbed to it-often without realizing it themselves. Our testimony and witness to the world is compromised by our own lack of belief, dedication, and fear of God.

The half-hearted church was foreseen by our God, and we can know how He feels about it:

“So, because you are luke-warm-neither hot nor cold- I am about to spit you out of my mouth…” (Revelation 3:16).

The corrupt, compromising church was also foreseen by Him who knows the end from the beginning, so that He warned us to separate ourselves from the evils of fallen man:

“Come out of her my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues…” (Revelation 18:4).

Those who reject the deity of Jesus, who reject the fact that our God created all things, who reject the supremacy of Scripture, and who put their own words and the words of their favourite teachers above Scripture are all included in references to hypocrites and false teachers contained in the New Testament especially, but also in the Old. And once you cast off from the absoluteness of the truth of Scripture and invent your own, you are then metaphorically on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, without navigation, radio contact, charts, or even the benefit of experience.

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Ironically, the One who will spit the luke-warm church out of His mouth identifies himself as “…the ruler of God’s creation” (Revelation 3:14).

Just as bad as the rejection of the Bible as our ultimate guide, is the determination to use it to support false teachings and faulty or corrupted interpretation. This attitude is rampant in the Christian world now: “Let’s follow what so-and-so says and find one or two verses which appear to back him up”. In contrast, Scripture tells us:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man…” (Jeremiah 17:5).

The Western World is now in moral free-fall, and there’s no way of stopping or slowing that fall if all we have to offer is a few jangling guitars and singers shaking their hair, a weak impersonation for spiritual gifts, an effort to bow to political correctness, and politicians who make promises in order to promote themselves. (Having said that, I say “Trump 2020!” The alternative is the destruction of America and so the West).

More than that, we have an insular Church which has largely rejected what God has to say. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” says the word of God, and, “In six days God created the heavens and the earth”. A large percentage of ministers prefer to follow what unbelievers and atheists say-that in the beginning, billions of years ago, something happened, our ancestors crawled out of slime and swung in trees, and later on God, or a few good teachers, came along and got involved, trying to get us all to be nice to each other. This is belittling God and calling Him a liar. This is putting the word of fallen, God-rejecting mankind above the Word of the Immortal, Almighty, Omni-present, omniscient Creator and sustainer of all things. This is nothing short of foolishness!

It not only calls God a liar, it calls Him weak and  incapable and irrelevant. “We know it’s all science now” is one pathetic view: pathetic because the real logic is that anyone who created all things would have to be The Master and Creator of science! Did an infinite being create all things by His infinite miraculous power, or did the universe create? That’s your choice! There’s no middle ground without putting God down beneath the feet of man.

Any true science today is only observing the handiwork of God. He is the Creator of science…not someone who just came along so that he could make us fall over backwards, or offer us new ways of being nice to each other. God is our Creator and He will be our Judge! He has the power to save us or to throw us into hell!

Its time for those of us who are serious about our faith to fall on our knees and worship the incredible being who made us, and who holds our souls in His hands.

 

RAPTURE 25: FALL AWAY FROM WHAT?

Welcome readers. Here’s another installment of my book* on the timing of the rapture. I was a pre-tribulation believer for twenty-eight years: I now know how wrong I was to unquestioningly accept everything the “experts” taught. The good news is that this post is considerably shorter than most…

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Paul wrote that a preliminary and unmistakable sign that the Day of the Lord was beginning or about to begin will be a “falling away”, or a “rebellion”, followed by the revealing of Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:3). What exactly this “falling away” will be is a matter of some debate, though it’s generally considered to be a falling away of nominal believers from the faith.. Some have attempted to interpret it as being the rapture. More likely it’s a movement of those loosely associated with the faith away from it. This is the most common view and makes the most sense, but the exact interpretation of what the falling away may be isn’t the subject of this post.

Imagine this: the rapture has taken place before the tribulation. The Church is gone. Besides the millions and billions of unsaved people on earth, only nominal believers and hangers on are “left behind”. In this case, I want to ask the question: What will there be for anyone to “fall away” from? If the Church is gone, and with it the Holy Spirit, what is there left to fall away from?

Is it the Church? How can you fall away from a Church which has already gone? How can you lose a faith you didn’t really have anyway? How can you rebel against God or against Christ if you’re already so weak in the faith or hypocritical that you missed the rapture? And in that case, if the Church were raptured and then all the weak “left-behind” people fall away, where do “those who remain faithful to Jesus” spoken of several times in Revelation, come from (Revelation 14:12)? We would have to assume that these weaklings suddenly become the toughest, most fearless and faithful believers in history. So why didn’t they get raptured? We ourselves, supposedly the ones to be raptured, are not that tough. We aren’t out there sharing the gospel in the midst of severe persecution. Is it because they just happened to be going through a phase of spiritual weakness that they didn’t get raptured? Haven’t we all experienced that? If this is the case, Jesus is willing to “dump” us if we experience a time of discouragement and weak faith. Isn’t he more faithful than that? Doesn’t he uphold us? Didn’t God say “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5,6)?

With all the persecution going on and the mark of the beast being instituted in the tribulation, it has to be nothing short of remarkable that those saints living at that time will have such incredible faith that they’re prepared to die for Jesus! How can there be any “falling away” during the tribulation if the Church is already gone, and “those who hold to the testimony of Jesus” are prepared to die for their Lord?

If we try to say that the “falling away” will happen before a pre-tribulation rapture in order to escape this conundrum, we only create another conundrum, because Paul, giving the initial signs of “The Day of the Lord” here, surely would have said something like “that day cannot come before there is a falling away first, and we are all changed to immortal, and then the man of sin be revealed”. Also, if the falling away is to come first, before tribulation, the rapture would not be so “imminent” and unexpected, would it? Why would Paul speak of the falling away, and then go straight to the revealing of Antichrist, giving these two signs as the initial signs of the Day of the Lord, without mentioning the rapture, if it is supposed to come before either of these events?

If the rapture has already occurred at the point Paul is speaking about-that is, before the falling away and before Antichrist is revealed, why did Paul not mention it to the Thessalonian church in the same chapter? He had already mentioned the rapture in his first letter to these believers when speaking of the coming of the Lord: it was not a hidden mystery to be kept from the Church. Surely, that would be an ultimate sign of the arrival of the day of the Lord, particularly to anyone “left behind”? He wrote to them about the rapture in his first letter, and it’s no longer a “mystery”: why not mention it now? If the rapture is indeed the first “sign”, which it would have to be if it’s “imminent” and must come first, why not mention it when speaking of what to look out for as signs of the Day of the Lord coming?

THE CAUSE OF REBELLION

The most logical answer to all these questions is that the Church will still be around when Paul’s initial sign-events of the Day of the Lord take place, and that those who are weak in the faith and who attend church for something to do, or who are trusting in their church organization or favorite teachers instead of Jesus, will rebel against the true Faith when the going gets tough. This will be the “falling away”. The tribulation will be a divider between the people of God and those who don’t want to know God. Jesus said that there will be such great deception and distress in those times that if it were possible even the elect will be deceived. Those who are not the elect will be deceived. They will be the ones to fall away. There will be a sharp division between the saved and unsaved.

*ALL LEFT BEHIND:THE CASE AGAINST A PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE, by Nicholas Fisher, available on Amazon.

RAPTURE 20: HOW TO BE READY

I was a pre-tribulation rapture believer for twenty-eight years: I finally saw the light. This series on the rapture is designed to present the alternative to anyone who really wants to know. You can search for other parts of this series in the box above, or you could get my book*

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HOW TO BE READY FOR THE RAPTURE

In Revelation chapter 19 we read that the bride-the Church-has made herself ready for the wedding of the Lamb (Revelation  19:7). In what way has the bride “made herself ready” before Christ returns to the earth? Has she been in heaven for seven years or more, getting those linen robes fitted, and practicing for the wedding? I think we’re given a strong clue as to the answer in the following two verses, though they’re often conveniently overlooked:

Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints)”.

As I’ve pointed out, not only the bride of chapter 19 wears fine linen but angels do too. However, those saints who are martyred during the tribulation-and possibly before it- also seem to be wearing something very similar:

I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained…then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer…” (6:9 and 11).

In chapter 19 fine linen is given to the bride seemingly as a gift, just as salvation is a gift of God. Salvation is by faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). However, we’re told in chapter 19 of Revelation that the Church’s fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints. Doesn’t that sound a little like works?

There’s precedence to this imagery, in Jesus’ letter to the church in Sardis. Jesus speaks there of the deeds of those in the church (Revelation 3:1). They had a reputation for being alive in Christ, but they were not. He told them to repent and “wake up”. He acknowledges that there are a few people in Sardis, “who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white…” (verses 4-5).

Similarly, the church in Laodicea is accused by Christ of being “lukewarm” in their love for him. He tells them that they are “wretched, pitiful, poor blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17). They have no robes on. Clearly he means the kind of robes we’ve already discussed. So among other things he counsels them to buy “white clothes to wear” from him (verse 18).

Therefore, considering our opening verse, ” …his bride has made herself ready”, along with the references above, being ready does not at all have to relate to being raptured. As with the bride in Revelation, so with these churches in existence well before the tribulation, and by extension anyone who wants to walk with Christ in white, we must live out the “deeds” expected of us (verse 1). As Christians we do not believe in salvation by works, but we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10). We can’t live the way we did before our profession of faith, or else our profession is not genuine. At least some of those deeds expected of the church in Sardis included being spiritually awake and attentive to their Lord. Perhaps that’s the entire requirement. Clearly a vital theme, Jesus Christ reiterates it after the penultimate bowl judgment on the earth and before the final one:

Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed” (Revelation 16:15).

Getting to the point of this observation, it seems clear that the bride mentioned in chapter 19 “makes herself ready” by her deeds. The bride has not made herself ready for the wedding by being raptured or by getting used to being in heaven for seven years, or by spending seven years putting robes and make-up on: she’s made herself ready by the deeds done in her lifetime on the earth. She doesn’t have to be raptured before the tribulation in order to make herself ready. And those saints still struggling against the Antichrist on earth can be just as ready for the groom as those who may be in heaven. John gave counsel in this regard in his first epistle:

And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28).

In short, the bride, conspicuously intangible, along with the wedding supper in the chapter 19 scene in heaven, usually described as the bride’s preparation for the attack force, does not even have to be in heaven to be ready for her groom.

*My book, “ALL LEFT BEHIND: THE CASE AGAINST A PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE”, is available on Amazon. Alternatively, the entire book is being published here in an updated and edited form. This is part 20. More to come next week.