Woke, But Not Awake - Steve Schmutzer - https://www.rev310.net/profile/40ac2006-4608-4f7a-8770-6000d5e25a84/profile
You love your church!
It’s attracting college kids and young families. It’s “on fire” and your numbers are up.
Your worship band has a couple of hipster guys with tattoos and a gauge or two that used to jam with professional musicians. The old pipe organ’s been removed and replaced with "killer sound and lights." The whole stage is black now.
Your teaching team is young. They wear untucked shirts and faded jeans, and they tell lighthearted stories and funny jokes that crack up the college crowd every week.
You’re pleased with how your church deals with the Bible’s tough subjects. It mostly avoids them. It doesn’t preach anything too deep since “there are lots of interpretations.” Instead, your church generally feels the Bible is of and for the community. It’s a collection of human responses to God, and so the Bible is dynamic, encouraging, and non-judgmental.
Your church is a place where everybody feels welcome. It’s “affirming and inclusive.” You can come as you are and leave as you were. No problem.
It’s a church that believes the Gospel is in every passage and each verse is “all about Jesus.” The sermons aren’t too long. They mostly focus on social themes because “we all need more community, more tolerance, more equality, more love, more diversity, and more grace.”
You can bring your unsaved friends to your church. They won’t hear about judgment, God’s wrath, and eternal punishment in the flames of hell. Some of your leadership isn’t convinced there’s a literal hell anyways since “the Bible doesn’t always mean what it says.”
There’s no pressure to repent, and you don’t have to worry that your friends’ personal choices will be confronted. It’s all about “having a conversation” instead.
Awkward topics like one way to heaven, two genders, three parts of the Trinity, four horsemen of the apocalypse, five resurrections, six days of creation, seven years of Tribulation, eight people on the ark, nine gifts of the Holy Spirit, and ten virgins are typically avoided in your church. Besides, “they probably should be.” The “times have changed,” and some of that stuff doesn’t really fly anymore. A couple of those notions are ridiculous too – “science has proven that.”
Your church is friendly and non-confrontational. That’s why the New Testament is the primary source of sermons by far since “it’s all about grace.” Your leaders believe, “God is focused on the church now,” and it’s about “what we are doing for God’s kingdom.”
Stuffy worship traditions have been replaced with fresh ideas. The choir’s gone. There are no hymnals or special music selections, and the communion wafers are gluten-free. There’s even a funky little coffeeshop and some original art in the welcome area – the décor is now “more inviting and accepting.”
It’s cool that your church wades into politics since “it’s important to be socially responsible.” Your leaders don’t like “mean tweets.” They talk openly about “the problems of systemic racism” and the church’s responsibility to “comply with government mandates.” They’ve said very little about Roe v. Wade being overturned because they want to be sensitive to various opinions within their congregation.
Your church leadership supports “green policies” to protect the planet. They’re doing their part with their e-bulletins, eco-cups, and their new composting program. Your church also supports masks, open borders, gun control, voting rights, interfaith fellowship, BLM, ACC, BDS, DEI, CRT, DSA, – and of course, LGBTQIA.
Yep, you love your church. It’s culturally sensitive, it’s open-minded, it’s eco-friendly, it’s nontraditional – and it’s totally you.
I need to be direct. Your church is “woke.”
That’s not a good thing. To be candid, your church is in a very bad spot. Spiritually, it’s no longer alert. It’s conformed to worldly postures and persuasions much more than it admits, and it’s unaware of its true condition.
It’s often more obsessed with what it doesn’t want to be than it’s burdened by what it’s called to be. That’s why your church has made consecutive choices to go in wrong directions. It’s lost the capacity – and will - to understand it's done this.
Your church is “woke” because it supports behaviors and ideas that find their roots in a godless agenda. It defends political correctness even as it strays from a literal interpretation of God’s Word. Your leadership feels self-righteous for “exposing racism, patriarchy, and heteronormativity” – and they feel affirmed when their positions align with mainstream media.
Because “wokeness” is shaped by Critical Race Theory and other close kin systems of thought, those who are “woke” have convinced themselves that they’re more aware of the true nature of our society. A “woke” church is an extension of that dynamic, and it will try to manipulate the convictions and choices of those within it. It nurtures a bias against anyone who responsibly teaches the full counsel of God’s Word. Since it believes it sees what others fail to see, a “woke” church isolates – and scolds - those who point out its errors.
Bluntly put, a woke church is one that doesn’t really care if you can back it up with the Bible. They will refuse to see the situation this way, but their feelings, desires, and emotions often override what Scripture says. It’s more important for a “woke” church to support government mandates, to parrot media talking points, and to lament “social injustices” in order to be - and to stay - “woke.”
Their actions reveal their motives. A “woke” church wants to do what others do – and be what others are.
That is why a “woke” church tends to publicly sympathize with relativism-rich liberal values far more than conservative ones. “Woke” church leaders feel deep down inside that Jesus would identify more with the left-leaning spectrum.
The truth is the rapid changes within our cultural paradigms are much more a test of your church’s grounding in the doctrines of Scripture than they are an opportunity for it to be “community-minded,” “racially sensitive,” or “environmentally conscious.” A “woke” church has fundamentally failed that test.
I’ll continue to be direct here. Your church is asleep.
I want to be 100% clear. The Bible instructs believers to be “awake” - not “woke” (1 Thess. 5:6). The two concepts – one Scriptural, and one secular - are countless miles apart. The words seem similar, but they’re saying opposite things. It’s dangerous to be on the wrong side of this important distinction.
Paul warned the church, “Don’t sleep as others do.” His instructions were for the last days. He urged it instead to stay alert, awake, and sober. He was concerned that during deceptive times like those we live in now, the church would embrace worldly views and values.
It’s why he instructed the church to be different than the culture it was in, and it’s why he cautioned the church against the temptation to become careless in its spiritual disciplines. Paul did not want the church to do what others do – or to be what others are.
Unfortunately, if Paul were alive today, he’d concur with famed Welsh preacher, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who often railed against the “superficial” church. Paul would’ve probably agreed with AW Tozer who wrote that if the Holy Spirit were completely withdrawn from the Church, “95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference.” That’s because the church today is asleep.
In the eschatological parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13), a tragedy is presented, and it concerns a final time that is approaching. While this parable is directed to Israel, it holds an overarching truth for those who claim to be part of the body of Christ. That truth is this: there is grave danger in being spiritually indifferent or unaware concerning the times in which we live.
Jesus said, “The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all (the wise and the foolish virgins) became drowsy and fell asleep” (v5). In the terminal chapters of human history, there will be those who have every good reason to remain awake and watchful – but their spiritual senses will be dulled instead.
They will not perceive what’s going on around them because they won’t care enough to. As a result, they’ll sense no urgency and raise no alarm. They won’t be prepared. Rather than being wise enough to change their choices and habits, they will drift along in foolish compliance with those who are in the dark. They will be asleep.
In the letter to the church in Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6), Jesus issues a prophetic rebuke to the church as it stands upon the very threshold of His coming “like a thief” (v3). Jesus commands it to “Wake up!” (v2). It was a church that claimed a “reputation of being alive” but it was dead instead (v1). It’s easy to see a direct parallel with the condition of the church now.
It’s clear what Jesus Christ would say about the modern Church – particularly those congregations which are more or less described in the opening portions of this article. He’d say they are asleep.
A “woke” church is no more awake by Biblical standards than it is “on fire and growing” by any measure of the same. This is plain when we see some of the qualities of a church that is asleep and when we understand how this comes to be.
For starters, a church that’s asleep is one that diminishes – or does not properly understand - the prophetic Word of God. It’s not a priority for them. This connection is made clear in multiple Bible passages, including those noted earlier. There is a direct link between prophetic passiveness and personal peril.
Paul – as we see – was concerned that the church of Thessalonica might become asleep. To prevent this, he taught them prophecy. His time with them was brief as Acts 17:2 may suggest, and he followed that visit up with the letters we call 1 & 2 Thessalonians. It’s here that things get interesting.
Word had come to Paul that apostate teachings had entered the young Thessalonian church, heresies which conflicted with what he’d taught them. Chapter two of 2 Thessalonians dives into the problem, and it concerns the second coming of Jesus Christ. Paul dispenses a healthy portion of meat in this chapter, but he asks in 2 Thessalonians 2:5, “Don’t you remember when I was with you, I used to tell you these things?”
It’s easy to overlook the layout of this situation, but here it is:
Number one, the Thessalonian church was new in its faith and organization. Number two, Paul didn’t have much time with them, but he used what he had to emphasize the themes of prophecy. Number three, Paul specifically taught them about Christ’s Second Advent, about the Antichrist, about the Rapture, and about the Great Tribulation. And number four, Paul did all this to protect and nourish this little church.
It's that last point I want to pay special attention to. In the fuller context, we see Paul’s antidote for “not sleeping as the others do” was to teach Bible prophecy.
The doctrines surrounding Christ’s return are precisely those things which equip believers against falling prey to cultural deceptions. These specific Biblical truths are there – among other reasons – to keep believers alert and awake.
Said another way, responsibly teaching the prophetic Scriptures helps to preserve a church against going “woke.” It plays a major role in keeping a church from becoming lukewarm and self-deluded, and from evaluating itself by the world’s standards (Rev. 3:14-22).
In all ways, a church that provides a diet of sound Bible prophecy is one that is properly “equipping the saints” (Eph. 4:12).
But many churches don’t want the very thing they most need. They reject it. It’s in 2 Peter 3:3-4 where the tragic reality of today’s “woke and asleep” church is perfectly described. It’s in this passage where we see a church doing two things - with the first action resulting in the second one.
The first thing such a church does is it mocks the importance of Biblical prophecy, especially any theme that centers on Christ’s imminent return. Doubt and derision are clear as the church asks, “Where is this coming He promised?” Despite multiple clear teachings on the pre-Trib Rapture in God’s Word, the tragic fact is only 36% of pastors today believe this doctrine according to a 2016 study by LifeWay Research. I’m betting that numbers even less in 2022.
The second thing a church that scoffs at Bible prophecy does is it decides to pursue a different focus. Part B of 2 Peter 3:4 describes a church that chooses to emphasize “the way things are.” This verse makes it clear that the antithesis of studying and understanding the doctrines of Bible prophecy is becoming preoccupied with themes that are more about "everything continuing as it has," - or the way they choose to see things instead.
A church like that will claim to adhere to God’s Word even as it sets aside almost 30% of its content which is devoted to prophecy. A church like that will promote worship and sermons that splash endlessly in the shallow end of the pool. A church like that will utterly fail to grasp the hard-hitting truths that so many believers are starving for today. A church like that will defend the choices of a depraved culture, will adopt its foolish language and values, and will promote the deceptions of a godless agenda.
What a church like that will NOT do is it “will not tolerate sound doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:3). Rather, it will seek out and place into positions of leadership those individuals who keep things “as is,” who often lack proper gifting, and who have not adequately demonstrated that they have a strong Biblical foundation.
They do know how to “scratch itching ears” though. They do know how to “turn away from the truth,” and they’re great at playing the game to keep the status quo.
In other words, they’re exactly what’s needed to keep a church “woke” rather than “awake.”
Wars & Rumors of Wars: The World Has Become a Tinder Box – Amir Tsarfati - https://harbingersdaily.com/wars-rumors-of-wars-review-w-amir-tsarfati-the-world-has-become-a-tinder-box/
This has been a crazy week around the globe. So much has flared up, and, when combined with all the conflict already going on, we can see the tinder box that the world has become. So, this week we will make this a “Wars and Rumors of Wars” review. While it won’t be exhaustive, I want you to see seven areas where conflict either already exists, has just begun, or has the potential to blow up at any minute. I am doing this, because I want this to be available to you as a quick reference guide to help you understand the background of each situation as it unfolds. I would once again implore you to subscribe to my Telegram channel which I am constantly updating because events are moving so quickly. Also, watch my Breaking News Updates, which are located on my YouTube channel.
China v. Taiwan
Taiwan temporarily stole the headlines last week. Despite the country’s last-minute pleas for the invitation to be canceled, US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi insisted on making an official visit to the island, much to the anger of Beijing who saw it as an encroachment on land that they believe still belongs to them. After many threats and much posturing, Pelosi left and it seemed on the surface as if the US had gotten away with this act of political belligerence.
However, we must remember that China plays the long game. The initial concern was that China might use the provocation to finally invade the small island, as they have long threatened to do. But that is looking at the situation from a western stratagem. Instead, we see that using the cover of military exercises, Beijing has effectively surrounded Taiwan. These drills, which began Tuesday, are unprecedented as they will include missiles flying over the island and PLA forces entering past Taiwan’s 12-mile territorial waters line, essentially saying the border no longer exists. Like an old school siege, China is now in a position to strangle Taipei until their economy collapses. As soon as Pelosi left, Beijing initiated this strategy, freezing the import of food products, including fruit and fish from Taiwan, and temporarily stopping the export of sand to the country.
If the Taiwanese people are hoping for help from the West, they will likely be disappointed. Despite the bluster of many in Washington surrounding Pelosi’s “bold” trip, as soon as she returned the White House put out a statement making it clear that the administration in no way supports an independent Taiwan. Color me confused. And if you think that the UN might step in to help, recognize that China has just assumed the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of August. As it stands, Beijing has the power to inflict irreparable damage upon the world both militarily and, more frighteningly, economically, so don’t expect any bold retaliatory moves or heavy sanctions by the West. For more about this situation, please watch my Breaking News Updates from last week.
Russia v. Ukraine/NATO
Russia continues its tragic pounding of Ukraine. Last week in Mykolaiv, five civilians were killed and seven more wounded when a missile landed near a public transport stop. While what is already taking place is terrible enough, the concern that it could escalate beyond the borders of the two nations makes this conflict of grave concern. At the UN on Tuesday, Russian diplomat Alexander Trofimov made it clear that Moscow could decide to use nuclear weapons in response to an invasion by NATO countries. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin plays a game of economic chicken with the nations of Europe. After Gazprom last week said that they would reduce to 20% capacity the flow of gas into Germany, it has now stopped shipments of gas altogether to Latvia. The closer we come to winter, the more dire this situation will become. The EU has made an agreement with Egypt for Israeli gas to flow to Europe, but that help is still at least a couple of years away. One of the parties will have to blink, and Europe has a much greater track record of caving to pressure. But all it will take is one NATO country to push back militarily against Russia’s pressure for all the NATO countries to get pulled into a shooting war with Moscow and its allies – a conflict which we have seen could have nuclear consequences.
Kosovo v. Serbia
A dispute over license plates and government-issued ID cards exploded into gunfire last week in Kosovo. The breakaway state which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 is recognized by a little less than half the UN countries, including the United States and much of Europe. In the years following the separation of the countries, the tension continued to be thick between the Muslim Kosovars and the Christian Serbs. This is just the latest of the issues that have put the two groups at odds. Serbia, which surrounds Kosovo’s northern and eastern borders, is closely watching how the ethnic Serbs are being treated. Said Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić regarding a possible conflict with Kosovo, “All I can say is that we will ask for peace and ask for peace, but I will tell you right away: there will be no surrender and Serbia will win. If they try to start persecuting Serbs, bullying Serbs, killing Serbs, Serbia will win!” We know from history that major conflicts can begin in these Slavic countries, such as when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Bosnia and Herzegovina, just to the west of Serbia, triggering World War I.
Iraq v. Iraq
What began as a conflict over a pro-Iranian candidate for Prime Minister can quite possibly turn into another Iraqi civil war. Last week, a political alliance fronted by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki put forth as their candidate Mohammed al-Sudani, a former government minister and one who many see as a probable puppet of the pro-Iranian al-Maliki. In strong opposition is a group headed by nationalist, anti-Iranian Muqtada al-Sadr. This powerful cleric led his protestors on Saturday to storm Iraq’s parliament building and initiate a sit-in that lasted until yesterday. The US embassy in Iraq’s green zone has elevated alertness to the highest level. This Shiite v. Shiite conflict could quickly escalate into another Iraqi civil war. The US and Western nations need to ask themselves whether, if this happens, they can afford to lose 4 million barrels of oil per day. Particularly after the Saudis and the OPEC+ nations essentially snubbed President Joe Biden following his trip to Saudi Arabia by only increasing daily oil production by 100,000 barrels, rather than the millions that the president wanted.
Iran v. Israel/Saudi Arabia
The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency said Monday that his country has the technical capability to produce an atomic bomb but has no plans to do so. “Phew,” said the rest of the world, even as Israel recalled its Mossad agents from Tehran and ran all of its air strike plans through the shredder. The fact is that Iran can say whatever it wants, but no one can verify their statements because the cameras remain shut off throughout their facilities. Russia and China are pushing hard for a new nuclear deal with their friends in Tehran. The US sent a negotiator to the nuclear talks in Vienna to try to appease that axis of evil. It is likely that Iran will get all that it wants.
The concern that Iran will militarize their nuclear program is great, and they have shown nothing to allay that fear. This is why I felt that the situation was important enough to make it the central issue in my second Nir Tavor thriller, By Way of Deception, which is now available for pre-order. A nuclear Iran is a destabilizing factor not just because of their radical regime, but because of their many terrorist proxy militias who would jump at the chance to employ a “suitcase nuke” or some sort of dirty bomb.
Saudi Arabia knows that it is also in Iran’s crosshairs, because the Shiite regime in Tehran views them as decadent Sunni apostates. If Iran’s nuclear program does become weaponized, then Riyadh intends to demand nuclear warheads from Pakistan since it was the Saudis who funded the Pakistanis’ successful nuclear program in 1998. With Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel all possessing nuclear weapons, what could possibly go wrong? It recalls the statement on Monday by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in which he said, “Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.”
Terrorism v. Everybody
On Sunday, a US drone strike killed al Qaeda’s top dog, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Acting on information provided by the Taliban, the US hellfire missile took out the cleric as he stood on the balcony of his house, leaving his wife and daughter inside unscathed. We must give credit where credit is due – this was a well-deserved fate for this man orchestrated and brilliantly executed by the US military. The insertion of al-Qaeda into the news cycle is a reminder that the world is one major terrorist attack away from another far-reaching war. Despite the great counter-terrorism measures that are taking place around the world by many organizations, it truly is a matter not of “if” but of “when”.
Azerbaijan v. Armenia
Nagorno-Karabakh, now officially known as the Republic of Artsakh, is a breakaway state within Azerbaijan. It declared its independence in 1991 which led to war with Azerbaijan in 1991-94 and again in 2020. Because the population of Nagorno-Karabakh is almost exclusively Armenian, it has been a constant source of conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Within the last few days, fighting has commenced once again between Azerbaijan and the Armenians within Nagorno-Karabakh. Meanwhile, Iran is using the opportunity to pour its forces, mainly armor, towards its border with Azerbaijan. Whether it is to the south with Iran or the west with Armenia, Azerbaijan could easily find itself in a one or possibly two front war very soon. The ties that both of the latter countries have with NATO could make this a very interesting and volatile predicament, particularly if Iran gets involved.
The Parable of The Cancer Pill & The Modern Church – Michael Brown - https://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=5506
In the year 2015, as the story is told, a renowned scientist discovered a cure for cancer after more than 30 years of research and testing. But it was not just a cure. It was the cure, effectively eradicating all cancer from all patients at all stages of the disease. This was the greatest discovery in the history of medical science!
The scientist, overflowing with gratitude and excitement, informed the pharmaceutical company he had been working with, sharing this extraordinary moment with them, and within minutes, the whole organization was ablaze with excitement. At last!
Immediately, they sent their marketing team over to meet with the scientist and work on a strategy for mass distribution.
But there were some obstacles to be overcome.
First, it would cost a small fortune for each dose, more than many people would earn in a lifetime. How many could afford a treatment like this? How could insurance companies cover it?
Second, it had to be taken in pill form to maximize its release through the body, but the pill was so large that a horse could barely swallow it.
Third, the pill left a miserable aftertaste, not for a few seconds but for one full week, making it almost impossible for the patient to eat or drink for 7 full days.
This, too, seemed unmanageable.
So, the marketing team said to the scientist, "We are excited beyond words by your discovery and can't wait to get it out to the masses. This will truly change history! We just need you to get the price down to $1,000 per dose, reduce the size of the pill and package it in easy to swallow gel form, and get rid of that foul aftertaste. Once that's done, we won't be able to manufacture these fast enough. Let's do this!"
One year later, the scientist called the team back. He had some major news to share! He had succeeded on all fronts.
The pill now cost only $1,000 per dose. It slipped right down your throat, even without water. And it even had a delightful aftertaste.
There was only one problem: it no longer cured cancer.
And that, my friend, is the story of the contemporary gospel.
We have made it cheap and easy and pleasant, but it no longer saves or transforms.
We have removed the reproach of the cross, turning discipleship into something cool and popular.
We have removed the demands of the cross, preaching a Jesus who adds good things to you but requires nothing of you.
We have removed the sting of the cross, presenting a celebrity Jesus rather than a crucified Christ.
And so, while this watered-down gospel might be popular with the masses, it no longer saves and transforms and redeems.
But this is not just a 21st century problem.
As I shared in my book How Saved Are We?, in the late 1950's Mickey Cohen, a notorious gangster, attended a Billy Graham meeting in Beverly Hills. Although he expressed some interest in the message, revival scholar James Edwin Orr writes that Cohen "made no commitment until sometime later when another friend urged him, using Revelation 3:20 as a warrant, to invite Jesus Christ into his life.
"This he professed to do, but his life subsequently gave no evidence of repentance, 'that mighty change of mind, heart and life' [as expressed by Richard Trench].
"Cohen rebuked his friend, telling him: 'You did not tell me that I would have to give up my work,' meaning his rackets; 'You did not tell me that I would have to give up my friends,' meaning his gangster associates. He had heard that so-and-so was a Christian football player, so-and-so a Christian cowboy, so-and-so a Christian actress, so-and-so a Christian senator, and he really thought that he could be a Christian gangster.
"Alas, there was not evidence of repentance. Many have sadly forgotten that the only evidence of the new birth is the new life. The real problem is that some evangelists, like some converts, have failed to realize that the fault lies in the defective message."
Today, that defective message has become the norm, with all kinds of celebrities and well-known people professing their faith in Jesus, seemingly without shame, but then continuing to live in open, unrepentant sin for years.
This is not the gospel of Jesus that calls us to die to sin and self and to follow Him.
This is not the gospel of grace that empowers us to live a new life by the Spirit.
This is not the gospel of forgiveness that produces a love for the God who had so much mercy on us and a hatred for the life we once lived.
This is not the gospel that saves sinners any more than the new pill of my parable is the pill that cures cancer.
Worse still, this contemporary gospel misleads the masses, since they look at Jesus as a cool additive to make their lives better rather than as the Lord of all who died for them so they might live for Him.
Enough, then, with this soul-damning, deeply deceiving message.
Let us return to the gospel that saves. Its rewards are infinitely greater than its costs.
A Thriving False Doctrine Now Present - By Gene Lawley - https://www.raptureready.com/2022/07/30/a-thriving-false-doctrine-now-present-by-gene-lawley/
About a decade ago, a friend and I were visiting on the telephone when he mentioned, with great confidence, that Jesus did not die for the whole world but only for those who believe. He had been listening to Bible teachers on the East Coast, he said, and was convinced they were telling the truth.
It was a shock to me, for I knew the Scriptures, that the first action in John 3:16 was that “God so loved the world that He gave….” I remembered 1 John 2:1-2 also that says clearly, “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” My friend Carl has since gone to heaven where he has learned the Biblical truth firsthand, no doubt.
The thriving false doctrine is just that, claiming that Jesus only died for those who believe, not for the whole world of lost sinners. What that does is to diminish the adequacy of the deity of Jesus Christ, the only One who has been given all authority in heaven and earth over all things. It makes a claim that the death of Christ on the cross is not sufficient to cover such a vast number of lost souls. If He is not, then who is sufficient?
Those who wallow in their pre-conceived ideas, which they try to support from Scripture, are the Reformers who spring out of Calvinist beliefs. They are at least uncertain, and some are firmly set on where the Millennium occurs in human history, when the Rapture, if there is one, will be, as well as when the Second Coming of Christ will be. They do not know or refuse to learn the truths of Proverbs 9:10, which says, “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” They do not recognize that Revelation is a straightforward, chronological presentation of the future in prophetical visions. It seems their struggle is how God’s love can be unconditional when He requires a sinner to believe in Christ in order to be saved, thus obedience is a required condition.
Yet, “we love Him because He loved us first,” John wrote in 1 John 4:19. Is it not His love that draws us into obedience? That first and great commandment is awesome in its demand, that one is to love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. If that must come first, there is no hope for mankind. The compelling love of God draws man to conviction of sin, and then a transformation of life happens—by a gift of faith.
Their challenging opposition is called the Dispensationalists, who believe and conduct themselves as the Bereans did, according to Acts 17:11, which says, “These [Bereans] were more fair-minded [noble] than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” They searched the whole counsel of God for His truth.
From the beginning, it was God who initiated an act of love for mankind’s redemption. When Adam and Eve learned, suddenly, that they were naked, they covered themselves—the only two people there—with fig leaves to hide their sinfulness. But God came and provided them coverings of animal skins, His solution of a blood sacrifice to cover them instead. It was the forerunner for the coming sacrifice of His only begotten Son, Jesus, the Christ.
God’s love for the sinner is unconditional, according to Scripture, but His hate for their sin is well established. Look at Romans 5:6, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Then, go on to Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
From John 3:16 through these two verses in Romans 5, no one can honestly twist them around to convince anyone that God requires an action on man’s part before He will love him. Again, God loves the sinner, but He cannot condone his sinfulness.
In John 3:16, the word “whosoever” opens up the doors of God’s response to anyone who chooses a relationship with God. It also is echoed in Romans 10:13 that “whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
The whole of the Romans 5 chapter speaks of the obvious fact that Adam’s disobedience brought physical death and spiritual death to all mankind. Then, it compares that with what Jesus Christ has done by providing a gift of salvation to those who would accept that gift. See Romans 5:18: “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” Note that God did not make that gift of life a universal provision but a gift to be willingly received. The transforming action was not directly within the individual but was a substitutionary provision by Jesus, the Christ. A gift must be received for it to become applicable in a person’s life.
The Jewish leaders did not receive Christ, and at His trial, they cried out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Let His blood be upon our hands and the hands of our children!” The Apostle John wrote of this in John 1:11-12: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
It is clear that His Jewish kinsmen did not receive Him and, for the most part, have denied Him for over 2,000 years.
Romans 6:23 clearly contrasts two directions a person may choose to go: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
The denial of the death of Jesus Christ covering the sins of the whole world sets up another false doctrine that God’s love is not unconditional, that He cannot look on sin, even to provide a covering for it, but a response from mankind must come first. But what could that be? Jesus even prayed from the cross before He died, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Again, we have seen that God has acted first to provide the way of salvation and offer it as a gift to be received.
Jesus says, “No one can come to Me except the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44). And in Revelation 3:20, He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and live with him and he with Me.” Thus, no one will be in heaven who does not want to be there.
The hardcore Calvinists have a problem with Christ’s atonement, for if Christ died for the whole world, then the whole world would be covered in His atonement. The simple answer to that is that atonement is provided for only those who believe in Christ. It is as simple as that.
They have another problem, too, that of thinking they are chosen and elected, therefore they are saved. God’s foreknowledge has never saved anyone; His eternal ability to foresee the future reveals who will choose Him when they hear the gospel and believe and be saved. Paul makes that clear in 2 Timothy 2:10, saying, “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” The Philippian jailer cried out, “What must I do to be saved,” and Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” He did not say, ‘you must be chosen.’
At the end of that very revealing parable told in Matthew 22:1-14, Jesus sums up its message by saying, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” The parable presents a likeness to the future when the marriage supper of the Lamb—the Groom—and the Bride, the redeemed Body of Christ, are together just before they, together, come to the earth at the Second Coming. But the presentation shows how those who were to receive the gospel first (Romans 1:16) reject God’s invitation:
“And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ‘But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.
“But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Psalm 40:1-3 tells the true story of how God looked upon mankind. Mankind was in the horrible pit, and God was outside of the pit. No one in the pit could lift out another one. God did it for those who want to be lifted out of the pit:
“I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—praise to our God.”
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Daily Jot: The Farm Chronicles: Pony Bill and the boys of August - Bill Wilson – www.dailyjot.com
It’s the dog days of August. Hay is in the barn. The horse show season is winding down. Northeastern Ohio is hot and humid during the day and cool at night with a bit of dew on the morning grass. Time to relax a bit, right? No. The farm boys are gathering together, greeting each other for the long-awaited day of a different kind of work. It was two adays for football practice. Unlike most people, I loved two adays. The smells of August–Ohio grass, slightly browned from baking in the day’s hot sun; the sweat mixed with helmets stored over winter and spring in a musty room; even the dirt on the ground had a unique aroma as we hit it over and over again in up-down grass drills. We were back. We were football.
There were many life lessons in high school football. Coach was a former marine tough guy long on drills and discipline, but short on teaching about how to play the game. If you were willing to run through a brick wall you were his kind of guy. But if you asked why or how, you were in the dog house. I was a late bloomer. Very fast. On the slight side. One of those guys that with a little more individual coaching and maturity, could be a valuable asset. But I was very frustrating to Coach. I had to take the last week of two adays off because I was committed to my horse 4-H project at the county fair. Coach hated this and would ride me harder than I rode my horse, earning me the sarcastic nickname “Pony Bill.” By my senior year, Coach had had enough of it. He wouldn’t even let me wear my jersey for the senior yearbook picture.
Each practice ended with the team running a quarter mile in full pads. Backs and receivers in 70 seconds, linemen had 90 seconds. If anyone didn’t make time, the entire team ran again, same time limits. One time, one of the boys kept missing the time. We all knew he could run the lap in 70 seconds, he just wouldn’t do it. We had run that track three times and most of us were gassed. Me and a couple other of the fast guys huddled and came up with a plan. We lined up for the fourth run, everybody was sweating and yelling and moaning. The three of us ran that quarter-mile as fast as we could. And that same guy was lagging far behind. We turned around and ran back to him, each grabbing a side of shoulder pads and his belt. We dragged him across the line in under 70 seconds. He’s probably still picking cinders out of his legs.
Coach approved. He called it Leadership. Many of us farm boys called it survival. Some my fault, some not, my love for football was depleted by the end of high school. Having proven speed by running track in college, I was asked by the football coach to “walk on” the football team. I declined. It wasn’t until I was recruited to play semi-pro that my love for football was revived. And later I had a successful coaching run that landed me a position with the NFL. Among the many valuable lessons, I learned what never to do—as both a player and a coach. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A brother is born for adversity.” There’s one thing that’s universal: Out of adversity, brothers are made. The men with whom I played, the young men I’ve coached, and those I mentor even today–We are brothers. All said and done, we are the boys of August.
Daily Devotion: Give Comfort, Get Comfort - by Greg Laurie – www.harvest.org
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. —2 Corinthians 1:3-4
https://harvest.org/resources/devotion/give-comfort-get-comfort-2/ - Listen
Men and women of God, wherever we find them in the Scriptures, seem to be masters of whatever situation in which they find themselves. For example, when Paul and Silas were thrown into a Roman prison for preaching the gospel, they sang praises at midnight. The walls shook, and the Lord freed them. The jailer was about to commit suicide, but Paul told him not to harm himself because all the prisoners were still there. The next thing you know, Paul was at the jailer’s house, having dinner. The jailer washed the stripes on Paul’s back, and Paul led the man’s household to the Lord (see Acts 16:25–34). Paul entered the place as a prisoner and left the place in charge.
Then there was Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers. There was no hope of any kind for him. But through a turn of events, he became the second-most powerful man in the entire kingdom of Egypt. Effectively he was running the country.
In the midst of adversity, Paul and Joseph helped other people. They always seemed to rise above the circumstances and be the ones who led. And believers today can do the same thing.
One of the best things we can do when we are suffering is to help someone else. Maybe that doesn’t seem to make sense. But it actually makes all the sense in the world. It can be very easy to have a pity party, to draw back into our little cocoons and isolate ourselves from everyone else. But if we will go out and help other people, we will find comfort as we are distributing it. We will be the beneficiaries of what we are giving to others. Do you know someone who is in need of God’s comfort today?
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