Monday, July 29, 2013

THE END OF THE AGE OF GRACE IS AT HAND

- By Carl Worline -http://www.raptureready.com/soap/worline7.html

I am not a prophet. In-fact, I do not even have the gift of prophecy. Instead, I am a Christian who reads the news each day, including the prophetic news websites and I consider myself a "watcher on the wall."
As such, I feel the need to sound the alarm. The signs in the world today all point to the end of the Age of Grace and to the imminent arrival of the Rapture. We are, quite literally, in the very last moments of the opportunity that mankind has to find salvation through repentance of sin and faith in Jesus as the Savior of the world. At this moment eternal life in heaven with Jesus is a free gift. Very soon now that will change. Salvation will still be attainable, but at a very high price.
The vast majority of people seem to feel exceptionally uncomfortable when I mention the word "Rapture." Perhaps this is because date setters, such as Harold Camping, have all been wrong in the past and have lost all of their credibility. I tend to believe that people today are uncomfortable with any mention of the Rapture and the end of the Age of Grace, because they have a well-founded fear deep in their soul that something really big is about to happen and they know that they are going to be left behind to face a horrible fate of some kind.
There are signs out there that flood us with warnings that the end of the Age of Grace is here. In fact, there are so many signs that it is becoming all but impossible to see the road on which we are traveling. Every person on this planet has been impacted by these signs in one way or another. Let's take a look at a few of the signs that have occurred recently. Space does not permit me to list them all or to delve very deeply into specifics, but we can certainly look at some of the major signs of the time.
The earth, itself, is groaning. Our weather is nothing less than freakish. It seems that every place that is not experiencing a drought is under water from floods of biblical proportions. Freak hailstorms now seem routine. Dormant volcanoes all over the planet are coming back to life as we see a major up-tick in earthquakes. Tornadoes have become super-sized and almost seem to have a mind of their own at times - a mind that does not seem to like us very much. Wildfires appear much more frequently and also seem to be much more destructive. Natural disasters displaced 32.4 million people in 2012.
Incidents of mass-animal die-offs are averaging more than two per day. Strange, creepy, and very loud sounds are being hard over large areas and nobody has been able to explain them, or even discern the direction they are coming from. The earth's magnetic poles are moving at an accelerated rate while sinkholes are popping up in diverse places around the world.
Despite so many floods, water is becoming scarce. One-third of the world's population has limited access to fresh water. Most of the major rivers in the world are experiencing reduced rates of flow. Egypt is ready to go to war with Ethiopia over the Nile. The Colorado River, the High Plains Aquifer, and the entire western half of the United States, are rapidly drying up.
There are many signs in the heavens. Large meteors and fireballs are hitting the earth. Solar flares are unusually intense. Solar and lunar eclipses, complete with blood moons, are occurring and they are occurring on Jewish feast days. Near misses by asteroids now occur on a seemingly regular basis. A huge chunk of space rock recently struck the moon and produced an impact so large it was visible from earth without a telescope. God told us in the first chapter of Genesis that He put the stars, planets, and moon in the heavens as signs for us. Perhaps we should believe Him and look up once in awhile.
The stars remain fixed in their relationship to one another as the planets wander through them, telling a story that is constantly changing (and often difficult to interpret). Later this month the Star of David planetary alignment will occur for the last time leading up to the Tetrad of blood moons that will occur in 2014 - 2015 and will not occur again for another century. What exactly does this mean, or is it just a coincidence?
There is a huge increase in sickeningly evil acts throughout the world, just as Jesus said there would be. I will not list examples here. They are too horrible to think about. How could mankind have become so grotesque in its inhumanity?
Islam has experienced a rabidly intolerant worldwide awakening. Muslims slaughter Christians and Jews for the most seemingly trivial of excuses while demanding that the world accept Sharia law with all of its cruelty. The cruelty of Islam intensifies daily with each new act seemingly more cruel and inhuman than the last.
Christian persecution has increased to the point that Christianity is literally threatened with extinction in many areas of the world. The Vatican just declared that 100,000 people are killed each year for their Christian beliefs. North Korea alone has imprisoned an estimated 70,000 people for being a Christian. The Christian population of the Holy Land is rapidly heading toward extinction, as is the rest of the Middle East as well.
Egypt's Christians face arson, beatings, and forced conversion among the upheavals. Here at home in the United States an Arizona pastor was just imprisoned for holding a Bible study in his home. He was sentenced to 60 days, plus 3 years probation, plus a $12,180 fine. However, it is not a crime to have an unlimited number of buddies over to watch a football game on TV while drinking as much beer, wine, or hard liquor as one can consume.
Christian fundamentals are crumbling. Upon his confirmation as the new pope,
Francis dedicated his reign to Mary and promised redemption for the "good atheists." Lutherans have elected their first gay bishop. The Church of Scotland has voted to allow gay ministers. The Church of England has formally given up the fight against gay marriage. In the UK there are more people who believe in aliens than believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The White House has formed a petition to ban teaching creationism and intelligent design in schools. The rising new religion of Chrislam is replacing the one true God with the Islamic god known as Allah. Blasphemy and mocking abound as Hollywood releases two new movies ridiculing the Rapture. Saint Malachy's pope number 112 has come to power as lightning strikes Saint Peter's Basilica (twice). Meanwhile a pro-abortion mob chants "God is dead," and "Hail Satan," on the steps of the Texas Legislature during a session considering legislation to save unborn children.
Anti-Semitism is increasing across Europe once again, as well as on college campuses around the world.
Homosexuality is not only becoming legalized, but is becoming morally acceptable all over the world. Those who believe it is wrong are accused of being the ones who have the mental disease or defect. Brazil has paved the way for gay marriage. France has become the fourteenth country to legalize gay weddings. Cubans are holding marches to protest "homophobia." Tel Aviv recently had a turnout of 100,000 for a gay pride parade. In France, mandatory sex education for 6 year olds aims to shift the perception of traditional biological roles.
A former police officer was just arrested in the UK for publicly stating that he believes homosexuality to be a sin. Third-graders introduced President Obama at an LGBT pride event at the White House in June. A Milwaukee school held a "gender-bender" day where boys came dressed as girls, and girls came dressed as boys. A children's television network has launched a transsexual superhero show. The Boy Scouts of America voted to accept gay youths and then marched in a gay pride parade in Salt Lake City. Not to be out done, over 90 Girl Scouts marched in a gay pride parade in San Francisco.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act, and also ruled in such a manner as to allow gay marriages to resume in California. The bells of our National Cathedral in Washington D.C. rang for joy as celebrations broke out in major cities around the world regarding our Supreme Court's decision. It would almost seem that our highest court has become the mouthpiece of the homosexual cause.
Our Pentagon held a formal ceremony to celebrate our gay troops, declaring our nation to be a safer place because of them. Oklahoma suffered two F5 tornadoes after proclaiming that their state homosexual pride week would begin at 4 PM on Pentecost. And in Seattle, gay pride participants viciously beat a Christian street preacher.
The rise of sexual perversion defies imagination. The White House marked Mothers Day by celebrating birth control. Recent legislation allows 15-year-old girls to purchase the morning after pill without parental permission or knowledge. The California legislature passed the kindergarten through 12th grade transgender rights bill that allows children to use whatever bathroom, or shower room they identify with.
Wars and rumors of wars seem to be at an all-time fever pitch. Chemical weapons have been used in the Middle East. Syria and Israel are exchanging fire in the Golan Heights while Assad has announced that he is serious about opening a new front against Israel.   Conservative reports estimate that 100,000 have been killed so far in Syria's civil war. The Syrian conflict has spread to Lebanon. Russia has been taking an increasingly active interest in Syria, sending Assad ship killing missiles. Iran has sent 4,000 of their top troops to Syria.
Egypt and Jordan have expelled their ambassadors from Israel. Muslims are turning against Muslims in many places such as Turkey and Syria. Egypt has cut all ties with Syria and closed the embassy in Cairo, and has withdrawn the Egyptian envoy from Damascus because of Hezbollah's aggression in the Syrian conflict. Australia has abandoned the Golan Heights. Egypt teeters on the brink of civil war after Mohammad Morsi's overthrow. A recent anti-Muslim Brotherhood protest in Egypt was the largest political event ever in world history. And finally, North Korea continues with its short- range missile tests and threatens nuclear war with the United States.
The economy of the entire world is a house of cards in which the financial system of one bankrupt nation artificially holds up another using imaginary currency that exists only in the electronic memory of world banking computers. Such a Ponzi scheme cannot last forever, and it is nothing short of a supernatural miracle that is has been able to last this long. Taxes on the wealthy in France top 100 percent. Cypress has already confiscated a large chunk of the bank accounts of their wealthy. Suspicious sales of gold have caused the price to plunge. The Eurozone is now in the midst of its longest recession ever.
In Greece 65.5 percent of young people are out of work. In Spain it is 56.4 percent. In Portugal it is 42.5 percent. And in Italy 40.5 percent of young people are out of work. The financial system in Japan is beginning to spin wildly out of control. The dreaded "Hindenburg Omen" appeared in the stock market during the first week of June. Egyptians have never been in such dire economic straits. America's mortgage rates have just taken their largest jump in 26 years.
Our military is shutting down due to budget cutbacks. We have aircraft carriers sitting in port because we cannot afford to fix them. One-third of our Air Force has been shut down because we cannot afford to continue training. Recent reports to our Congress speak of "rot" in the ranks of our nuclear launch corp. An average of 22 veterans commit suicide each day─as well as an average of more than one active duty soldier each day. Sexual assaults are up 35 percent since 2010. Military members are punished for their Christian beliefs and our president threatens to veto the proposed religious protection clauses now being considered.
Our political system is collapsing. Polls show a growing support for the impeachment of our president over the Benghazi scandal, the IRS scandal, the Fast and Furious scandal, and the Associated Press Scandal. There is a total lack of leadership at the top. While Egypt erupted in chaos, our president went golfing and our Secretary of State took the day off to spend sailing on his private yacht. Neither lifted a finger or said a word to help.
Our nation is on the verge of a moral collapse. At last count 27 NFL players have been arrested since the Super Bowl. Vermont has become the third state to legalize assisted suicide. More Americans are committing suicide now than during the great depression.
I have often said that I do not believe in government conspiracies and yet it is becoming increasingly more difficult to deny their existence. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has purchased well over 2 billion rounds of hollow point ammunition and has another billion, or so, more rounds are on order. The Geneva Convention forbids the use of hollow point bullets in war, so the only possible use of these rounds that are expressly designed to kill (rather than for target practice) is to be used right here at home in the United States.
DHS has also purchased a couple thousand bulletproof checkpoint booths. Why? Even more shocking, DHS has purchased around 2,700 tanks. Please explain to me why DHS needs its own private fleet of tanks (totally separate from what our military has). And to top that, IRS agents are now training with AR-15 fully automatic assault rifles as well as rat-holing away millions of rounds of ammunition. Who does the IRS plan to use these weapons against? Is the IRS going to start collecting taxes from American citizens at gunpoint? Now I can understand why our government has suddenly become so obsessed with the confiscation of all privately owned firearms. It is preparing for an armed conflict against its own citizens.
The Bible tells us that the Antichrist will use the mark of the beast to control the entire worldwide economy and that private transactions will not be possible. The only way the Antichrist will be able to accomplish this will be for him to have a huge database in which he knows virtually everything about everybody. Such a database will require astronomical amounts of storage capability. Does this storage capability exist today? The answer is yes. The United States government currently has data storage facilities in Salt Lake City, Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas and Fort Mead, Maryland that each hold storage capacities in the multiple-yottabyte range.
A yottabyte is the largest named classification to date for data storage. One yottabyte of data typed out in standard type on 8 ½" x 11 paper would be a stack of paper approximately 3 light years tall (16 quadrillion miles). Why does our government need to collect and keep forever so much information? America is fully embracing a police state culture.
Virtually everything that we do is watched, monitored, tracked, or recorded in some way. Our government is monitoring all phone calls, emails, credit card transactions, and Internet activity. The IRS improperly seized ten million medical records. A federal judge has ordered Google to hand over customer data to the FBI without warrants. The NSA and the FBI are collecting all cell phone calls. The front and back of every single piece of mail is photographed and the images are stored. In 2012 there were 160 billion photographs of mail taken and permanently stored by our postal system.
Our government keeps a list of the names of 8 million people it considers to be a threat. Likewise, our government has built a photo recognition database of 120 million American citizens from driver license records. License plate readers mounted on cars have recorded photographs and the location of millions of motor vehicles in the United States. Satellites have taken billions of photographs from space with resolution so precise that documents on the ground can be read. With so much information collected on each and every individual I can see how it would be completely possible to control all financial transactions, both personal and public, with a single biometric mark on either the right hand or forehead.
Israel is God's chosen people as well as being God's time clock. I truly believe that we can tell exactly how close we are to the end by watching what is happening in Israel. One huge sign that we are at the end is that Israel has stopped issuing aliya visas. Aliya is the return of Jews to the Promised Land during the last days and it is now another biblical prophecy that has been fulfilled. Israel has struck energy gold in the form of oil and natural gas. Here is the reason that Gog, from the land of Magog, will attack Israel to seize a spoil, which is straight out of Ezekiel 38. Israel is surrounded in exactly the manner described in Ezekiel 38 and Psalm 83.
Let's look at one little sign from Psalm 83 that nobody ever seems to mention. When Asaph wrote Psalm 83 back in the days of King David, he described one of antagonists of Israel as the "Tents of the Edomites." There has been a lot of blending and mixing over the past 3,000 years (plus or minus), but the Edomites can be traced back to the people who now identify themselves as the Palestinians. Now ask yourself, who lives in tents? The answer, of course would be a people who do not have a nation of their own, just like the Palestinians of today. I would say that Asaph certainly had a clear vision of the current political situation of today.
The political situation in the Middle East is very fluid. It is constantly changing. At this very moment everything is lined up exactly as the Bible says it will be during the last of the last days and it will not remain this way for very long.   Therefore, I expect the end of the Age of Grace to occur extremely soon.
Other signs of the end of the Age of Grace would include the specter of the black horse of the Apocalypse that now looms on the horizon. World food sources are being attacked on every front and we are just one disaster away from mass starvation. The European commission is attempting to criminalize nearly all seeds and plants that are not registered with the government.
One-third of America's bees died last winter, aggravating the threat of famine from reduced pollination. Disease is spreading through the continent of Africa destroying entire crops of casaba. Japan and South Korea have banned US wheat out of fear from our genetic modifications. Most of Haiti is malnourished and starving. Syria's crop destruction from civil war is worsening food shortages. Crops all over the world have been damaged and destroyed by the freakish weather.
Disease and pestilence are two things that are mentions by Jesus in Matthew 24 as signs of the end of the age. The H7N9 bird flu has killed or caused the destruction of millions of birds. The new sex super-bug has been declared worse than AIDS. A flu is rising among pigs in China. Chinese officials have also confirmed that the latest bird flu strain is fatal in one-third of patients.
Singapore is suffering an outbreak of the Dengue fever virus. There has been a huge outbreak of hemorrhagic fever in Argentina. The World Health Organization is warning that the Saudi coronal virus is spreading and the Middle Eastern MERS virus is a threat to the entire world, with mortality rates currently at 65 percent.
The east coast of the United States is being overrun with a plague of cicadas. Israel was hit with a plague of locusts─just days before Passover. Billions of locust eggs have hatched in the Negev Desert. Bosnia has been experiencing a plague of flies. Fully one-third of the world's food supply is currently destroyed each year by pestilence.
The Bible tells us that one of the signs of the end of the ago will be an increase in knowledge. With an increase in knowledge comes an increase in technology. Currently we are on the brink of creating a computer that not only thinks for itself, but will actually be aware of its own existence. This will be a new form or life created by Man instead of God. In the meantime we have hacked our way far enough past the firewalls of God's computer to gain access to the DNA codes of life, and we have begun the incredibly dangerous and irresponsibly foolish act of tinkering with them.
The first genetically modified babies have now been born. Scientists have created a living embryo of a formerly extinct frog and have cloned a mouse from a single drop of blood. The UK plans to approve creating babies with DNA from 3 parents. I believe that chapter 6 of Genesis makes it quite clear that tampering with DNA is what made God so angry that He ended the Antediluvian Age, and I believe that tampering with DNA will be a major contributing factor in God's decision to end the Age of Grace really soon, before any more damage can occur.
In recent weeks the talk of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem has become surprisingly more serious despite Islamic objections.
The Bible tells us that even the very elect will be deceived in a great deception during the last days. This makes me highly suspicious of the Vatican's increasing interest in space and alien life. There seems to be a lot of recent evidence to suggest that the Vatican is preparing to announce the existence of alien life and that it is not a violation of Christian (Catholic) dogma. I find it really strange that the Catholic Church owns several state-of-the-art observatories and telescopes, including one with the strange acronym "Lucifer."
UFO activity has certainly spiked in recent months. About a year ago a UFO was photographed from several angles descending and hovering over the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount. A UFO was also photographed descending and hovering over the Vatican, and a UFO was recently photographed entering Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano.
The European Union has taken the Tower of Babel and the woman riding upon the beast as its symbols. I find this a bit unnerving, a bit blasphemous, and very prophetic. Is the European Union daring God to strike it down? Has the challenge been made to God to remove the Restrainer and allow the Tribulation to begin? Is Isaiah 17 on the very verge of fulfillment? Is Isaiah 19 on the very verge of fulfillment as well?
The Bible tells us that during the last days young men will see visions and old men will dream dreams. A lot of people are reporting dreams and visions of the Rapture and Tribulation. Most of these dreams seem to contradict each other as far as specifics, but I have noticed a very marked increase in urgency that seems to tie them together. Something incredibly big is definitely about to happen.
The gift of prophecy is not required in order to sense that something huge is happening right now in preparation for something even more important. When this event occurs it is going to be spectacular beyond our present ability to comprehend. Christians feel the building urgency with either a sense of peace or else a sense of anxiety that comes from a knowledge that they still have issues to be resolved with God and that there is precious little time remaining.
Those who do not believe also sense the urgency of the hour and are angry that there unbelief and present lifestyles are being challenged. The unbelieving are also frantic because they sense that time is running out, just as Satan must be frantic because he knows so little time remains.
Fasten your seatbelt and lovingly remind the person next to you to fasten their seatbelt as well. Then close your eyes and think about this verse, which seems to apply to us now more than ever:
"Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).
Carl Worline

WHAT'S TO BECOME OF EGYPT?

- This Week's Feature Article by Jack Kelley - http://gracethrufaith.com/ikvot-hamashiach/whats-to-become-of-egypt/

Once again my inbox contains a number of questions about Egypt, just like it did when former Pres. Hosni Mubarak was ousted in Feb. 2011 and a year later when Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was elected President. During both those times articles appeared on various web sites trying to connect the events with the fulfillment of end times prophecy. But as Morsi's abrupt removal after only 16 months in office clearly shows, we don't know what the ultimate outcome of the current situation will be so we really don't know what if any prophecy is being fulfilled. With that in mind, let's take another look at the Bible to see if we can get the Lord's perspective on our question, "What's to become of Egypt?"
Like I said it's still too early to see if the current unrest in Egypt will lead to the fulfillment of prophecy. Those who've read my study on the Psalm 83 scenario know that I don't believe Egypt is one of the nations mentioned there. Neither does Egypt appear in the lineup of combatants in the Battle of Ezekiel 38 that will follow shortly afterward. Participation in one or both of these battles would be expected if Egypt had successfully established itself as a radical Islamic nation.
However, the situation is still volatile. As of this writing, the Egyptian military has taken direct control of the country again, making only vague promises where the future is concerned.
Several people have written to ask if the current events in Egypt could be a fulfillment of Isaiah 19:2-4.   Let's read it.
"I will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian-brother will fight against brother, neighbor against neighbor, city against city, kingdom against kingdom. The Egyptians will lose heart, and I will bring their plans to nothing; they will consult the idols and the spirits of the dead, the mediums and the spiritists. I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them," declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty."
An initial reading shows some similarity to current events. But Egypt has had a long history of internal conflict, so it would be a mistake to think of the current unrest as being unique. Also, Isaiah said they would consult their idols, the spirits of the dead, the mediums and spiritists in an effort to figure out how to avoid defeat. This is a clue that the passage speaks of an event that's in our distant past, although it was prophecy when Isaiah wrote it. In Isaiah's time Egypt was a pagan nation as it had been for centuries. But today Egypt is 80-90% Muslim (mostly Sunni), with the remainder being Coptic Christians. Neither religion permits the kind of practices Isaiah spoke of.
I'm convinced this passage was fulfilled when God gave Egypt over to Nebuchadnezzar following his defeat of the Southern Kingdom in 586 BC. Ezekiel 29:17-20 tells us that God was doing this as a reward to Nebuchadnezzar for his 15 yearlong campaign to conquer Tyre. Even though the siege of Tyre was only partially successful, God said, "I have given him Egypt as a reward for his efforts because he and his army did it for me" (Ezekiel 29:20). I believe Nebuchadnezzar, who was known as "The Destroyer Of Nations", was the fierce king Isaiah had in view as Egypt's cruel master.
Back To The Future
We can tell from Scripture that eventually Egypt will become part of the End Times Roman Empire, also being called The Islamic Caliphate by some. According to Daniel 11:40-42 the King of the South, which in Daniel 11 always refers to Egypt, will make an unsuccessful play for leadership during the Great Tribulation by attacking the forces of the anti-Christ. Daniel 11:42 reveals that this will bring Egypt under the anti-Christ's control. The timing is shortly before the anti-Christ moves his headquarters to Jerusalem (Daniel 11:45) for the final showdown in his quest to control the world.
Of all the nations who either are now or have been significant in the Middle East, only Israel, Egypt and Assyria are mentioned at the outset of the Millennium, and all three are held in high esteem by the Lord.
The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, "Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance." (Isaiah 19:25)
This means that sometime between their defeat by the anti-Christ and the 2nd Coming a significant number of Egyptians will become believers and will survive to populate their homeland during the Millennium. We'll turn once again to Isaiah 19 for more insight.
In that day the Egyptians will become weaklings. They will shudder with fear at the uplifted hand that the Lord Almighty raises against them. And the land of Judah will bring terror to the Egyptians; everyone to whom Judah is mentioned will be terrified, because of what the Lord Almighty is planning against them (Isaiah 19:16-17).
I've read the major translations of these two verses and none of them say that anything will actually happen to Egypt at this time. I've come to the conclusion that the Egyptian people will be persuaded that the Lord is about to execute some major judgment against them. It will be as if they can see Him raising His hand to smite them as He takes the battle field to defend His people against the nations of the world (Zechariah 14:3). This will so terrify them that there will be a massive national conversion to the Lord, reminiscent of Nineveh's conversion after Jonah warned them of a coming judgment (Jonah 3). It will happen just in time to prevent their destruction in the final days of the Great Tribulation.
The Great Pyramid?
In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the heart of Egypt, and a monument to the LORD at its border. It will be a sign and witness to the LORD Almighty in the land of Egypt. When they cry out to the LORD because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them. So the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians, and in that day they will acknowledge the LORD. They will worship with sacrifices and grain offerings; they will make vows to the LORD and keep them. (Isaiah 19:19-21)
Only Egypt has a location that's both on the border and in the heart of the country. That's possible because in Hebrew, Egypt's name is Mizraim, a plural word that means "two Egypts." In ancient times they were two countries, Upper (southern) Egypt and Lower (northern) Egypt, but they were joined to become one.
The name of this location is Giza. It's on the border between the two Egypts and in the heart of the combined Egypt. And there's already a one-of-a-kind ancient monument there, called the Great Pyramid.
The Great Pyramid is thought to have been built in the 22nd Century BC on a 13-acre base made level to within less than 1 inch.   900 million cubic feet of granite blocks were used in its construction. To this day engineers can't explain how the workers managed to fit those huge blocks together so carefully in building a monument nearly 500 feet high. Some of the larger ones weigh nearly 80 tons.
It originally had a face of polished white limestone consisting of 115,000 stones finished on all six sides to within .01 inch of being perfectly straight. Cut on a bevel, they fit together with seams of less than 1/50th of an inch. They were then cemented together and polished to a high sheen. It's said that the pyramid shone as if made of light itself and could be seen from over a hundred miles away. Over time the face has been stolen and carried away.
Unlike the 80 or so other pyramids in Egypt, which are vastly inferior copies, the Great Pyramid was not built as a tomb but as a monument, one that has architectural and astronomical features experts would be hard pressed to duplicate today. There are those who believe it was built as a unique tribute to God by beings with supernatural abilities. It's entirely possible that this amazing structure could again become an altar and a monument, restored by the Egyptian people as an expression of gratitude for the Lord's mercy upon them.
The "savior and defender" who will rescue them from their oppressor (the anti-Christ) has to be a reference to the Messiah, through whom God will make Himself known to the Egyptians as we've seen above. We're not given any more detail than that, but obviously this will have to happen prior to the 2nd Coming because afterwards it will be too late.
It's Not Over Yet
Sometime during the Millennium Egypt will get into trouble with the Lord again, and this time they won't repent in time to avoid His judgment. Isaiah 19:22 tells us that the Lord will strike Egypt, and when they return to Him he will heal the nation. I think this is described in Zechariah 14:16-19.
Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.
This could also be the time of fulfillment for Ezekiel 29:8-16 which records an outstanding judgment against Egypt consisting of a 40 year period of desolation. Biblical records don't show the Lord ever executing this judgment, and it's not likely to happen before the 2nd Coming. That leaves the Millennium as the most likely time of fulfillment. Zechariah 14:16-19 is clearly Millennial in its focus and Isaiah 19:22 appears to be as well.
But at the end of the 40 years, the Lord will gather the Egyptians and bring them back. The judgment will have cured them of their rebellion and they will never again attempt to think of themselves as better than other nations. After that they will enjoy peace with the Lord.
In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, "Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance." (Isaiah 19:23-25)
In Summary
So it appears that after Egypt has been brought back into the fold of the Lord's people on Earth, Egypt and Assyria will join Israel as God's favored people. By the way, don't confuse Assyria with modern day Syria. Assyria was much larger, encompassing nearly all of the Fertile Crescent from the Persian Gulf in the East around the Arabian Desert and down the Mediterranean coast to the Nile region in the West.
All this indicates that Egypt is in for a rough time over the next few years. Having come to the Lord in the final days of the Great Tribulation, Egypt will struggle and be disciplined at the outset of the Millennium, but will survive to be known as God's people, alongside Assyria His handiwork, and Israel His inheritance. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

STRUCTURING WORSHIP TO ACCOMODATE UNBELIEVERS IS MISGUIDED!!!!

 
R.C. Sproul,

Many have found the life of the church to be irrelevant and boring, and so an effort to meet the needs of these people has driven some radical changes in how we worship God.

Perhaps the most evident model developed over the last half century is that model defined as the “seeker-sensitive model.” Seekers are defined as those people who are unbelievers and are outside of the church but who are searching for meaning and significance to their lives. The good intention of reaching such people with evangelistic techniques that include the reshaping of Sunday morning worship fails to understand some significant truths set forth in Scripture.

In Romans 3, Paul makes abundantly clear that unconverted people do not seek after God….so structuring worship to accommodate unbelievers is misguided because these unbelievers are not seeking after God. Seeking after God begins at conversion, and if we are to structure our worship with a view to seekers, then we must structure it for believers, since only believers are seekers.

When we look at the early church, we see that the Christians of the first century gathered on the Lord’s day, devoting themselves to the study of the apostles’ doctrine, to fellowship, to prayer, and to the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42). This was not an assembly of unbelievers. It was an assembling together of believers. Of course, as our Lord warned, there are always present among believers people who have made false professions of faith. There are always the tares that grow alongside of the wheat (Matt. 13:36–43). But one does not structure the church to meet the felt needs and desires of the tares. The purpose of corporate assembly, which has its roots in the Old Testament, is for the people of God to come together corporately to offer their sacrifices of praise and worship to God. So the first rule of worship is that it be designed for believers to worship God in a way that pleases God. . .

. . .Another erroneous assumption made in the attempt to restructure the nature of worship is that the modern generation has been so changed by cultural and contextual influences — such as the impact of the electronic age upon their lives — that they are no longer susceptible to traditional attempts of being reached by expository preaching. Early in the twentieth century, the liberal preacher Harry Emerson Fosdick pointed out that people were no longer interested in coming to church to hear what some apostle or prophet wrote a couple thousand years ago. Such words and messages were completely irrelevant according to Fosdick, and so the focus of preaching has moved in many cases away from an exposition of the Word of God. We assume this alteration is necessary if we’re to reach the people who have been trapped within the changes of our current culture. The erroneous assumption is that in the last fifty years, the constituent nature of humanity has changed, as if the heart can no longer be reached via the mind. It also assumes that the power of the Word of God has lost its potency, so that we must look elsewhere if we are to find powerful and moving experiences of worship in our church. Though the intentions may be marvelous, the results, I believe, are and will continue to be catastrophic.


taken from: Good Intentions Gone Bad, Tabletalk, October 1st, 2007.

GLORY TO GOD ALONE

I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”
- Isaiah 42:8

Today we will look at the final sola of the Reformation, the one that sums up the point of all the others. The truth that the Reformers were most concerned to promote and what can be seen as the central theme of Scripture is soli Deo gloria — to God alone be the glory.

The first question and answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism tells us that “man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” God’s glory is the highest good and therefore is the purpose for which we were created. We were made to glorify Him, to reflect His glory and proclaim it to all creation (Isa. 43:6–7). In saving His people and defeating their enemies, His glory is displayed (Ex. 14). Salvation must be sola fide, sola gratia, and solus Christus — through faith alone, by grace alone, and on account of Christ alone — because to attribute redemption to our efforts in any way is to rob God of His full glory. If God and God alone is not the one who saves, then He shares His glory with creatures. But as the prophet Isaiah tells us, God will share His glory with no one (42:8). Sola Scriptura — Scripture alone is the final, infallible authority — must be the church’s confession. If any other source is placed on par with or above the Bible, then the Word of God is no better than the fallible words of creatures, and therefore the one who superintended the writing of the Bible is mocked.

We often think of the Reformation as involving only a doctrinal dispute, but for John Calvin and others, the purity of worship was a major concern as well. Calvin and others took seriously the teaching in Romans 1:18–32 that the basic sin of humanity is its refusal to honor God as God and thank Him for all that He has given us. Instead of bowing the knee to the Almighty, we suppress knowledge of Him and make all sorts of lesser gods.

Some idolatry is crass, such as the worship of trees or nature. Other forms of idolatry are more refined, such as the exaltation of human reason above divine revelation. But any time we substitute something else for the God of the Bible, we attempt to have Him share His glory with another. Any time we deny one of His attributes, we conceive of Him as less than the sovereign Lord of all.  

Coram Deo

It is not all that uncommon to hear someone say, “I refuse to worship a God that would send people to hell.” But those who would define God’s love in a way that denies His holy wrath do not worship the Creator. Others say, “To me God is….” But it does not matter how we define God, it only matters how He defines Himself. Let us be careful not to adopt the views of God common in our culture but rather allow Scripture to reveal to us the God who is.

Passages for Further Study

Isaiah 66:15–24
John 12:36b–43

We Recommend

QUALITIES OF AN EXCELLENT SERVANT

1 Timothy 4



Chapters:  
Understanding the Seducing Spirit


INTRODUCTION

The first five verses of 1 Timothy 4 are a stern warning about apostates. In verse 6 Paul says to Timothy, "If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ." So to be an excellent servant of Christ, it is important that we have a good understanding of apostasy.
A. An Example of Apostasy
Second Chronicles 25 records the account of Amaziah, king of Judah. He was the son of Joash and the father of Uzziah, who was king during the time of Isaiah the prophet. Amaziah reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. Verse 2 says "he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a perfect heart." He functioned in accord with the religion of Israel on the outside. He understood it and behaved by its ethics, but not with a willing heart. He practiced a heartless, external religion, not having a personal relationship with the living God. So he was soon lured away into idolatry and began to worship the gods of Edom, to which he bowed down and burned incense (v. 14). His life ended tragically--he was murdered by his own people after turning away from the Lord (v. 27).
B. The Definition of Apostasy
Departing from the faith is nothing new. It happens today just as it did in the Old Testament and in the church at Ephesus, where Timothy was when Paul wrote this epistle. There are always people who understand the faith intellectually and behave externally according to the revelation of God, but have no heart for living to please God. Hebrews 3:12 says that those who depart from God demonstrate an unbelieving heart.
Paul states in 1 Timothy 4:1 that some--like Judas, Demas, or the disciples of John 6 who walked no more with Christ--"shall depart from the faith" (Gk., aphistemi, "to remove yourself from the position you originally occupied"). Apostasy isn't an unintentional departure or someone struggling with doubt. It characterizes someone who deliberately abandons truth once affirmed for erroneous teaching. "The faith" refers specifically to the body of Christian doctrine, not the act of believing. Some will depart from "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). People who understand and outwardly affirm Christian doctrine but don't have a heart for God are prime candidates for being seduced by demons to depart from the faith.
An apostate is not someone who never knew the truth but someone who knew it and rejected it. He may have even been involved in various religious activities. But because he never truly knew God, he was lured away by the siren voices of the demons behind idols and false religious systems.
C. The Source of Apostasy
All false religion propagates doctrine energized by seducing spirits. False religion is the playground of demons. Second Corinthians tells us that Satan and his angels disguise themselves as angels of light and become the purveyors of various religions (11:14-15).
1. Leviticus 17:7--The Lord Himself says that whatever men sacrifice to idols is in fact being sacrificed to demons (cf., Deut. 32:17; Ps. 96:5; 106:36-37).
2. 1 Corinthians 10:20-21--Paul said that those who come to the Lord's Table and then go worship at some pagan religious shrine, are fellowshipping with both the Lord and demons. False religious systems and the various idols that accompany them are simply focal points for demonic activity. We should not naively think that a false religion is simply a collection of misguided ideas. Realize that energizing it behind the scenes are dynamic of fallen angels who are seducing people from the truth into an eternal hell.
The Word of God clearly teaches that apostasy is a demonic seduction, that idol worship is actually worship offered to demons, and that false teachers are the agents of demons. The battle is between God and His truth and the devil and his lies. God calls people to Himself through the truth, and Satan tries to lure people away from truth with his hellish lies.
D. The Confrontation of Apostasy
Scripture often exhorts the church to expose false teaching. That kind of confrontation is not a popular thing today. Many churches, in the name of love, want to forget disagreements and avoid being critical at all costs. But nonetheless, there is a biblical mandate to deal with false teaching. The battle lines were drawn in Israel and in the early church, and they must be drawn today too. Like Timothy we must be warned and instructed to understand what is behind false teaching.
While Timothy was pastoring the church at Ephesus, false teachers were teaching contrary doctrines. From 1 Timothy 1 we learn they desired to be teachers of the law but didn't understand what they were teaching (v. 7). Verses 18-20 tell us they had departed from the truth and were delivered to Satan by Paul to learn not to blaspheme. After dealing with false teaching regarding the role of men and women in the church in chapters 2-3, Paul returns to the matter of the false teachers in chapter 4.
First Timothy 3 closes with the theme of truth. Verse 15 states that the church is the pillar and ground of truth and verse 16 says that Christ is the embodiment of truth. That logically leads into Paul's discussion in chapter 4 of the demonic counterattack against the truth. In the first five verses of chapter 4 he describes the apostates and their teaching and from verses 6 to 16 he tells Timothy how to be the kind of man necessary to deal with it.
The theme of 1 Timothy 4:1-5 is this: "some shall depart from the faith" (v. 1). Paul warns Timothy to expect apostasy and provides him with six descriptions of apostates so he can be prepared to identify and counteract them.

I. THE PREDICTABILITY OF APOSTATES (v. 1a)
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly"
We should not be shocked to learn that some people will apostatize. The Spirit of God explicitly says that some will depart from the faith. The first word of verse 1, better translated "but," heightens the contrast of apostasy to the truths mentioned in the previous verses.
A. The Revelation of the Spirit
The Spirit's explicit instruction in the present tense is a reference to divine revelation. All divine revelation comes from the Holy Spirit. Peter tells us that Scripture is not the product of man's ingenuity, but of holy men of God guided by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21). As Paul pens his epistle to Timothy, the very words of the Holy Spirit about apostasy come through.
Paul knew there would be apostates at the church in Ephesus because the Holy Spirit had revealed that fact to him earlier. Long before he had written this epistle to Timothy, Paul addressed the Ephesian elders with these words: "I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:29- 30).
B. The Revelation in Scripture
Such revelation about apostasy is not anything unique to the New Testament; the Holy Spirit had been warning about apostasy back in the Old Testament. Many Scriptures in the Old Testament talk about Israelites (both individually and nationally) departing from the faith. Although many people belonged to the nation of Israel, that didn't mean they all believed in the God of Israel. Consequently, they were not part of the believing remnant of Israel (cf., Rom. 2:28-29). The Spirit through the centuries of redemptive history has indicated that there would be those who depart from the faith (Deut. 13:12-15; 32:15-18; Dan. 8:23-25).
In the New Testament we find even more mention of those who would depart from the faith in the end times.
1. Matthew 24:5--The Lord said, "Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many."
2. Mark 13:22--In the same context Jesus said, "False Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect."
3. 2 Thessalonians 2:3--Paul informed us that before the coming of Christ in glory will be a massive departure from the faith.
4. 2 Peter 3:3--Peter said there will come in the last times scoffers abandoning the faith to pursue their own lusts (cf. Jude 18).
5. 1 John 2:18-19--John said forerunners of the Antichrist will depart from the faith, revealing that they never were not truly Christians to begin with.
It is inevitable that people will make a momentary response to biblical truth, like the seed that went into the rocky ground (Matt. 13:20-21). But because they have no root, no living union with God, they die out. And there are others whose spiritual pursuits who are choked out by the cares of this world and the love of riches. Such kinds of people may hang around a while, but when their heart is not given to God, they are seduced away by demonic spirits through the human agency of false teachers.

II. THE CHRONOLOGY OF APOSTATES (v. 1b)
"In the latter times"
That phrase does not refer to a long time in the future but to the church age, the time between the first and second comings of Christ. The apostle John said, "Little children, it is the last time" (1 John 2:18). Peter said Christ "was manifest in these last times for you" (1 Pet. 1:20). Hebrews 1:2 declares that God has "in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." Hebrews also states that "in the end of the ages [Christ] appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Heb. 9:26).
All those verses tell us that the last times began when Christ first appeared and initiated the Messianic era. He is now building His Kingdom in the hearts of men and will return to establish it on the earth and then in the eternal state. So we are now living in the last times. It is in this dispensation or age that the apostasy Paul is referring to will occur.

III. THE SOURCE OF APOSTATES (v. 1c)
"Giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons"
Apostates listen to seducing spirits and the teachings of demons. The source of apostasy is demonic. Paul described the supernatural battle with demonic forces when he said, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12).
People with "an evil heart of unbelief [depart] from the living God" (Heb. 3:12) because they are lured away by demon spirits, even though there is a facade of religion. Such people who cannot be wooed by the Spirit of God because of their hard-hearted unbelief. They therefore fall prey to Satan and his lies transmitted through his demons.
A. The Devotion Described
The term "giving heed" doesn't mean merely "to give attention to"; it means "to give assent to." It conveys the idea of devoting or attaching oneself to a person or thing. Its use in the present tense implies a continual clinging to the seductive doctrines that that the spirits disseminate.
An apostate in the context of the New Testament is a person who understands the gospel and who may outwardly identify with the Christian faith. But because his heart is not truly God's, he turns from the truth to the lies of the devil and is drawn away from the true faith unto eternal damnation.
The Devil Made Him Do ItI often hear parents say, "Our child was raised in a Christian home, but when he went away to college, he was led astray by atheistic professors or religious cult leaders and now denies the faith." Such students aren't the victims of erudite and persuasive professors, religious leaders, or clever writers who have subtly propagated falsehoods in textbooks. Ungodly philosophies and false religions are not merely human aberrations; they are ultimately the product of Satan himself.
B. The Dangers Declared
We should be immensely cautious before we ever expose ourselves or anyone we love to false teaching. Many Scriptures warn us of the dangers of false teachers.
1. 2 John 7, 10-11--The apostle John gave us a warning about false teachers and how we should respond to them: "Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ cometh in the flesh.... If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed; for he that biddeth him Godspeed is partaker of his evil deeds." Stay away from false teachers.
2. Jude 23--Anytime you get near people who are under the influence of false teachers, you should yank them out of the fire, so to speak, exercising caution that you yourself don't get burned in the process.
3. Deuteronomy 13:12-17--The Lord warned the nation of Israel about false prophets through Moses, saying, "If thou shalt hear a report in one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, Certain men, worthless fellows, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known, then shalt thou inquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you, thou shalt surely smite the inhabitant of that city with the edge of the sword, destoying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the Lord thy God, and it shall be an heap forever; it shall not be built again. And there shall cling nothing of the cursed thing to thine hand; that the Lord my turn from the fierceness of his anger, and show upon thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee." You know God is serious about false doctrine since He instructed the Israelites to go to the extreme of burning the city after slaying its inhabitants and cattle so it could never be rebuilt again.
C. The Demons Discussed
The phrase "seducing spirits" refers to the source of false doctrines--supernatural demonic spirit beings who are fallen angels. "Seducing" is a translation of the Greek term from which we get our word planet. It conveys the idea of wandering and is applied to those spirits who would lead you to wander from the truth by seducing or deceiving you. Whereas the Holy Spirit guides us into truth (John 16:13), these spirits lead people into error. They are the principalities and powers that the church must wrestle against (Eph. 6:11-12).
The history of seducing spirits goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, where Satan seduced Eve into believing she was being cheated out of the best thing God had by not being able to eat from the forbidden tree (Gen. 3:1-6). He seduced her to disobey God's instruction to her. Such seductions are chronicled throughout Scripture, all the way to the book of Revelation.
D. The Doctrines Delineated
False teachers seduce people with the "doctrines of demons." The world is full of demonic teaching. Anything that contradicts the Word of God is ultimately a teaching from demons. They're behind it all. False teaching doesn't come from clever men. It comes from demons. That's why exposing yourself to it is more dangerous than you might think.
However not all demonic teaching looks demonic on the surface. Some of it is so subtly disguised that we might not even recognize it as such, unless we look very closely. Many people are trifling with Satanic doctrines without knowing it and will be seduced unless such false teaching is exposed. That, however, is not a popular thing to do.

IV. THE CHARACTER OF APOSTATES (v. 2)
A. Their Hypocrisy (v. 2a)
"Speaking lies in hypocrisy"
The doctrines of demons are dispensed through human agents. Although the source is supernatural, the means of seduction is natural--occurring on the human level. The beginning phrase of verse 2 can best be translated "through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies." Demons use men and women who may appear to be well educated or religious. These individuals may be preachers or priests who are very moral and devout in their appearance. They may give the impression that their motives are pure in their desire to help people. But the facade of religiosity serves only to hide the demonic error behind that mask. Hypocritical teachers may seem like they exalt God, but it is actually Satan whom they exalt. They are deceivers and liars who come masked in religious garb, possibly even teaching at a Christian church or school, or writing a book aimed toward a Christian audience. They will find an audience and propagate their hellish doctrines under the direction of seducing spirits.
B. Their Consciences
"Having their conscience seared with a hot iron"
Some commentators believe that phrase alludes to the ancient practice of branding slaves on their foreheads, and therefore implies that such hypocrites are the devil's agents. Although that meaning makes sense, I think it is better to understand the phrase as referring to more than just ownership by Satan. The conscience is the part of man that affirms or condemns an action, and thus controls behavior. False teachers can carry on their hypocrisy day after day because their consciences have been scarred beyond the ability to discern right and wrong. They have lost their sensitivity to truth and integrity.
The Greek word for "seared" (kausteriazo) is the medical term Hippocrates used for the cauterizing process--the searing of body tissue or blood vessles with heat. False teachers have been scarred to the point where they can carry on their hypocritical lies with no compunctions.
In my own ministry I am very concerned about my responsibility to speak the truth of God. I regularly pray that every time I teach God's Word I would not utter anything that is untrue. My conscience demands that I deal with truth carefully because it's God's truth and men's souls are at stake. Yet there are some who never investigate the accuracy of what they teach because their consciences have been desensitized to the truth by having been constantly abused. Their apostasy has scarred their consciences.

V. THE TEACHING OF APOSTATES (v. 3a)
"Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods"
Those restrictions are just a sample of their erroneous doctrines. Some false teachers taught that if you wanted to be spiritual you shouldn't get married and you had to abstain from certain kinds of food. It is typical of Satan to take something that may be appropriate for certain people at certain times and make it mandatory for everyone. Paul honors singleness in 1 Corinthians 7, and Jesus acknowledges the place for fasting with the proper motives in Matthew 6. But the apostates Paul mentions in 1 Timothy 4 were requiring ascetic self-denial to attain spirituality. Salvation for them was based on what they denied themselves.
All false religions devise human means by which you become saved, either by things you do or don't do. They are all ultimately based on human achievement. Although ascetic practices may give the impression of spiritual sincerity, they aren't the means of attaining holiness.
As early as 166 B.C. the Essene sect of Judaism was living in an isolated community by the Dead Sea. It emphasized an ascetic life- style of marital and dietary abstinences. Such thinking may have found its way to Ephesus. More likely was that Greek Gnosticism was the direct influence of false religion at Ephesus. It held that spirit is good and matter is evil. So those who adhered to that philosophy denied themselves physical pleasures, such as marital relations and certain foods. They believed such abstinence would please their deities. This erroneous philosophy was probably what influenced the Corinthians on the topics of marriage (1 Cor. 7) and bodily resurrection (1 Cor. 15).
That kind of externalism is typical of false religion. Paul's point at the end of verse 3 is that spirituality is not related to what you accept or deny yourself in terms of things given by God for the enjoyment of man. In Colossians 2:16-23 he says, "Let no man, therefore, judge you in food, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day, or of the new moon, or of a Sabbath day, which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [reality] is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels ... [or subject you] to ordinances (touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using) after the commandments and doctrines of men." Don't follow the ascetic approach of trying to earning your acceptance before God. As a Christian you are already complete in Christ (Col. 2:10). True religion acknowledges that the Lord alone has accomplished our salvation. False religion says we've got to do it ourselves by self- denial and human achievement.

VI. THE ERROR OF APOSTATES (vv. 3b-5)
A. Failing to Understand the Purpose of God's Creation (v. 3b)
"God hath created [marriage and foods] to be received with thanksgiving by them who believe and know the truth."
God created marriage when He provided a wife for Adam. Both Paul and Peter stressed the importance of a good marriage relationship (1 Cor. 7:1-5; Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Pet. 3:7). God provided a variety of foods for man's nourishment and enjoyment (Gen. 1:29; 9:3). In fact, when God created the earth, He declared that the products of His handiwork were "very good" (Gen. 1:31). It doesn't make sense to deny man what God has created to be received with thanksgiving.
Although God designed the blessings of marriage and food for all men, only those who believe and know the truth give God thanks for what He has provided. God designed marriage and a wide variety of foods so He would be glorified. The world eats the food and enjoys marriage without considering the One who gave those good gifts. Only those who are thankful to God bring Him glory, so in the truest sense marriage, food, and every other good thing God made were designed specially for believers. The world does benefit from God's blessings--He sends rain on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45)--but its unbelieving inhabitants were never the ultimate reason God gave good things.
It is ludicrous to deny the right to marriage and certain foods in an attempt to attain holiness because that's to deny God the right to be glorified for the beauty of what He gave us. It would be better to be married and eat everything He provided and praise Him for them than think you're holy by abstaining from those things.
B. Failing to Understand the Nature of God's Creation (vv. 4-5)
1. Its excellence (v. 4)
"Every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused, if it is received with thanksgiving"
The Greek word translated "good" (kalos) means "inherently excellent." Marriage and food are inherently good and should not be rejected, but gratefully accepted.
2. Its sanctification (v. 5)
"It is sanctified by the word of God and prayer."
"The word of God" is used in the pastoral epistles to refer to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The message of salvation clarifies that all the dietary laws have been abolished. They were given for a brief time in Israel's history to develop their moral faculty of discernment and to make them distinct from other nations. But once Christ came and fulfilled the sacrificial laws and made Jew and Gentile one in Him, those dietary laws were set aside. They had a limited national purpose. To reimpose them is to manufacture a works-righteousness system and dishonor God by saying He created something evil.
If we understand that the gospel has freed us from dietary laws and if in prayer we offer God thanks, then we can receive any and all of His good gifts. Mandatory celibacy and abstinence from certain foods is demonic teaching--it denies the goodness of God's creation and His desire for thanks and praise.
External self-denial is a severe error that is typical of false religions. The error of apostates is thinking they please God by following and teaching such pharisaical practices. Instead they actually are displeasing God and following the lies of demons. Although King Amaziah of Judah did the right things on the outside, he never had a heart for God. He turned away from the Lord. We need to evaluate the condition of our own hearts.

Focusing on the Facts
1. What kind of religion did Amaziah practice?
2. What is an apostate?
3. What spiritual entities do men actually worship in false religions? Support your answer with Scripture.
4. What phrase constitutes the theme of 1 Timothy 4:1-5 (v. 1)?
5. Why should we not be surprised to learn that some people will apostatize?
6. What had Paul written earlier about the effect of apostasy on the church at Ephesus?
7. Did all Israelites believe in God? Explain, supporting your answer with Scripture.
8. Cite some Scriptures that give evidence of the abundance of false religions and apostates in the end times.
9. What period of time does the phrase "latter times" refer to (1 Tim. 4:1)?
10. What is the source of false teaching?
11. What kind of people fall prey to Satan and his lies (Heb. 3:12)?
12. How do 2 John, Jude, and Deuteronomy convey the serious dangers of apostasy?
13. Whereas the Holy Spirit guides us into ________ (John 16:3), seducing spirits lead people into ________ .
14. Why is exposing yourself to false teaching of men so dangerous?
15. How are demonic doctrines dispensed? How have their consciences been seared (1 Tim. 4:2)?
16. What are some of the restrictions false teachers had placed upon their followers (1 Tim. 4:3a)?
17. What means of salvation do false religions devise?
18. Identify and explain the philosophy that probably influenced the false religion at Ephesus.
19. What did the false teachers fail to understand about the purpose of God's creation?
20. What two things did the false teachers fail to understand about the nature of God's creation? Explain each.

Pondering the Principles
1.How do you respond to false teaching? Are you more concerned about avoiding controversy than exposing demonic systems that lead naive souls to eternal damnation? When Jesus encountered religious leaders who were misleading and taking advantage of the unsuspecting, His zeal for the truth led him to confront them with their hyposcrisy (Matt. 23; John 2:13-17). When you seek to share Christ with those who have been led astray and snatch them before they fall into the fires of hell, have a healthy fear of the destructiveness and deceptiveness of their erroneous beliefs (Jude 23). Like the firefighter who is injured while putting out the fire, we must take care that the false teaching we are combatting not engulf us by causing us to doubt the truth and stop effectively serving the Lord.
2.What have you been trusting in to secure your place in heaven? Is it self-denial or the good deeds you have done? Is Christianity to you simply a matter of the things you don't do? Have you been deceived into thinking you must do good works to gain and maintain your salvation? The gospel of Jesus Christ offers salvation to all by grace through faith in Him alone (Eph. 2:8-9). Search your heart for the motive that you associate with Christians. Is it to know, love, and serve God better? If you are a Christian, make sure you are thanking Him for our freedom to enjoy the good gifts He has provided. What things in your life that you previously had taken for granted took on new meaning when you became a Christian? Offer Him thanks and praise for them today.

THE DEFINITION AND SOURCE OF APOSTASY

The Master's Plan for the Church by John MacArthur“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. . .” – 1 Timothy 4:1

By: John MacArthur,

Departing from the faith happens today just as it did in the Old Testament and in the church at Ephesus, where Timothy was when Paul wrote this epistle. There are always people who understand the faith intellectually and behave according to the revelation of God but have no heart for living to please God. Hebrews 3:12 says that those who depart from God demonstrate an unbelieving heart.

Paul states in 1 Timothy 4:1 that some–like Judas, Demas, or the disciples of John 6 who walked no more with Christ–”shall depart from the faith” (Gk., aphistÄ“mi, “to remove yourself from the position you originally occupied”). Apostasy isn’t an unintentional departure or someone struggling with doubt. It is deliberately abandoning truth for erroneous teaching. “The faith” refers specifically to the body of Christian doctrine, not the act of believing. Some will depart from “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). People who understand and outwardly affirm Christian doctrine but don’t have a heart for God are prime candidates for being seduced by demons away from the faith.

An apostate is not someone who never knew the truth but someone who knew it and rejected it. He may have even been involved in various religious activities. But because he never truly knew God, he was lured away by the siren voices of the demons behind idols and false religious systems.

False religion propagates doctrine energized by seducing spirits. The Lord Himself says in Leviticus 17:7  that whatever men sacrifice to idols is in fact being sacrificed to demons (cf: Deut. 32:17; Pss. 96:5; 106:36-37). In 1 Corinthians 10:20-21 Paul says that those who come to the Lord’s Table and then worship at some pagan religious shrine are fellowshiping with both the Lord and demons.

False religious systems and the various idols that accompany them are focal points for demonic activity. We should not naively think that a false religion is simply a collection of misguided ideas. Realize that behind the scenes are fallen angels seducing people from the truth into eternal hell.

The Word of God clearly teaches that apostasy is a demonic seduction, that idol worship is actually worship offered to demons, and that false teachers are the agents of demons. The battle is fought by God and His truth against the devil and his lies. God calls people to Himself through the truth, and Satan tries to lure people away from truth with his hellish lies.

Scripture often exhorts the church to expose false teaching. That kind of confrontation is not popular today. Many churches, in the name of love, want to forget disagreements and avoid being critical at all costs. Nonetheless, there is a biblical mandate to deal with false teaching. The battle lines were drawn in Israel and in the early church, and they must be drawn today too. Like Timothy we must be warned and instructed to understand what is behind false teaching.


taken from: MacArthur, John. The Master’s Plan for the Church. Chicago: Moody Press, 1991., pp. 139-141.
See also:
• Understanding the Seducing Spirit from Qualities of an Excellent Servant by John MacArthur.

Friday, July 26, 2013

STRANGE FIRE AND THE PRAGMATIC ARGUMENT

by Mike Riccardi
 
Strange Fire

So, word is getting around about the Strange Fire Conference. On October 16 to 18, over 4,000 people from all 50 states and 20+ countries will be traveling to Southern California to hear from a world class array of preachers and speakers (including John MacArthur, R. C. Sproul, Steve Lawson, Conrad Mbewe, our own Nate Busenitz, and others) on the history and theology of the Charismatic movement, along with the true biblical teaching concerning the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. As you can tell from the title (cf. Leviticus 10:1–3) as well as from an excellent assortment of teaser videos, the conference plans to be critical of the aberrations of Charismatic doctrine and practice.
And as you can imagine, there’s been a little bit of a buzz about this already in the blogosphere. Aside from drawing the ire of the “Holy Ghost Bartender,” MacArthur’s commitment to the sufficiency of Scripture, to the biblical definitions and employment of spiritual gifts, and to the orderliness and reverence of a worship service has brought criticism from one Michael Brown. In a Charisma News article, Brown levels several critiques about MacArthur’s position on the miraculous gifts and their abuse in Charismatic theology. Now, I don’t plan on offering a detailed response to each of the points he makes. Actually, Lyndon Unger has done that quite well on two different occasions (see here and here). You should read Lyndon’s posts.
Instead, what I want to do is highlight one particular argument that Brown made and simply make the observation that the most popular of the Five Uninvited Guests has made an appearance. Toward the end of his article, Brown writes,
Saved from WhatIn reality, more people have been saved—wonderfully saved—as a result of the Pentecostal-charismatic movement worldwide than through any other movement in church history (to the tune of perhaps a half-billion souls)…

Now, sadly, the first response I have to that statement is to question the legitimacy of the statistic. In particular, given that so much of the Charismatic movement is fraught with deception, aberrant theology, a watered-down gospel, and in many quarters even heresy, one has to wonder precisely what many of these people are getting “wonderfully saved” from, what they’re getting “saved” to, and by what means. In a movement known to promise emotional highs, ecstatic experiences, miraculous healings, grandiose displays of signs and wonders, and an abundance of material prosperity, the Jesus of Scripture can hardly be seen as anything more than a ticket to bigger and better things—a stone that we can step on to get at what we truly treasure: money, entertainment, and teaching that makes much of ourselves. Even if there are 500 million people associated with Charismatic and Pentecostal churches worldwide, one has to wonder, with the true Gospel and the true Christ so horribly obscured and distorted, how many of those professing believers are truly saved in the first place.
But leaving that aside, Brown is basically making the pragmatic argument. He reasons that if God has used Pentecostalism and Charismaticism to save “perhaps a half-billion souls,” well then it must be OK and beyond the reach of legitimate criticism. It can’t be strange fire, because God wouldn’t use strange fire to save so many people. But, just as I had written in that post almost two years ago, the argument that “God is using it, so it must be OK and worthy to be imitated,” is biblically baseless, logically vacuous, and deserves to be rejected out of hand.
The reason that this is such a bad argument is that God uses everything to accomplish all His good pleasure (Ps 33:10–11; Isa 46:9–10; Rom 8:28; Eph 1:11). In His infinite mercy, God declares that nothing is off-limits for Him to use as an instrument in bringing about His wise and most holy ends. To be sure, this should cause us to rejoice that God can use sinful human beings like you and me to accomplish His will. And it should humble us greatly. But it should not be a reason given as evidence for God’s stamp of approval.
For example, God used the sinful intentions of Joseph’s brothers to preserve a remnant of His people in the earth (Gen 45:5–7; 50:20). Is their wickedness to be excused because God used it? There is no question that God used Balaam’s donkey to accomplish His will (Num 22:21–35). But I hope I’m not the only one who thinks it’s a bad idea to sit at the feet of donkeys for biblical instruction. God used Assyria to bring His wrath against Israel (Isa 10:5–15). But in the same sentence in which He prophesies of Assyria’s involvement in accomplishing His will, Yahweh pronounces a curse upon them for their wickedness. God obviously does not approve of Assyria despite the fact that He was using them. Further, God used the people’s wicked, faithless demand for a human king (1Sam 8:5, 7, 19–20; 10:19) to establish the monarchy in Israel from which Messiah would come. No King Jesus without King Saul. Should we excuse Israel’s faithless disobedience because God used it?
DonkeyAdditional examples abound throughout Scripture, yet none is more convincing than the murder of the Son of God. There can be absolutely no question that God used the wicked desires of Annas and Caiaphas, the cowardice of Pilate, the treachery of Judas, and the bloodthirsty godlessness of the Romans to accomplish the crucifixion of Jesus (Acts 2:22–23; 4:27–28). Not only did God use these men for His own ends; He used them to achieve the greatest act of love that will ever be accomplished: the salvation of innumerable souls from eternal damnation. “Billions of souls” have been “saved—wonderfully saved”—as a result of these evil men’s actions. Yet which of them gets a pass because God used them? Which of them is beyond the reach of legitimate criticism as a result of their being instrumental in the salvation of everyone who will ever be saved? Which of their sins would it be OK for us to imitate on the grounds that God used them for His own good purposes?
See, our infinitely wise God uses everything—from the most wicked of sins to Balaam’s jackass—to accomplish His perfect will. Therefore, whether heretical preachers, carnal methods, or aberrant theology, the argument that God uses something has nothing to do with whether it is legitimate for His people to emulate or approve. That God has sovereignly ordained certain events does not automatically mean that they’re not unwise or even sinful on the part of men, who are responsible even in view of God’s sovereignty. The test of the legitimacy of a movement, or a ministry, or a theology, is not whether it’s yielding the kind of results we think indicate success. It is whether it is faithful to our sole infallible authority for faith and practice: the Scripture.
Beware of the pragmatic argument. And beware of strange fire.

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