Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
The Night is Far Spent - By Ronda Lane -
The stage is set; the actors await their cues. It's been a long-planned production. The evil one has been clasping his hands together in glee, so deceived he is in his own plans. A created being who aspires to usurp the place of the One who created him. How foolish, how vain and prideful. Yet it was all foretold, as is the evil one's demise foretold. The lake of fire will be his final destination (Rev. 20:10). But that event won't transpire for at least 1,007 years. There is first the millennial kingdom-the thousand-year reign of Christ. Prior to that, the seven-year tribulation. And before that? The rapture of the church!
How accurate God's word is. We can see every facet aligning in precise detail, just as God's word foretold. How amazing it is to watch the words of the Bible come to life before our very eyes!
I remember as a child sitting under some very sound eschatological teaching, hearing of the Ezekiel 38-39 war (for one example). Then the conditions weren't ripe. All of the foretold nations in the Eze.38-39 coalition were in no condition of stature to form such an alliance. Yet Bible believers knew that at some point in the future they would be. Why? Because God's word foretold it, and we believed it!
Let's take a short hop back in time and see how faithful believers were in the 1970's, 80's, and even 90's as compared to today. Even though the prophetic word of God wasn't yet aligned then, many Bible-believing Christians knew and believed that one day they would be! And we knew they would be aligned exactly as foretold no matter how impossible it seemed at the time.
In the 1970's, Iran was a 'friend' to Israel. In fact, the Iran of the 1970's was far different than the Iran of today! One can find pictures of Iranian citizens in the 1970's, very modern (to the era), very westernized. Women dressed in the typical 1970's fashion (much like they did in the US at the time). The nation of Iran itself was enjoying moderate prosperity. Christianity was not the majority religion, but was tolerated and allowed at the time.
But then came the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Things changed drastically for Iranians during that time and since then. Christianity was no longer allowed, nor was any semblance of westernization permitted. No longer could women move freely in society in Iran. Instead, strict Sharia Islamic laws were enacted. The Iranian regime became increasingly oppressive and brutal. There is much more to this narrative; however, it's very telling that since the time that Shia Islamists took control of the Iranian government, the nation itself and the citizens thereof have suffered horribly. It's as though it was catapulted back a thousand years into the 800's-900's when Islam was a bloody and barbaric terror.
This also brought renewed hatred of Jews and Christians alike. Not only was westernization frowned upon, but those who were caught dressing in anything but Islamic clothing (especially women, with their heads covered and all body parts covered as well) could be stoned or imprisoned. Even a bare ankle could (and does still) bring the wrath of Sharia law down upon them. This trend is ripening the foretold Eze. 38-39 coalition today.
Then we take a look back on Russia. In the 1970's, Russia was still the Soviet Union. Jews were making Aliyah (the mass emigration from Soviet Jews to Israel), as the Soviet Union had just lifted its ban on Jewish emigration to Israel at that time. The discrimination against Jews in Russia was state-sponsored anti-Semitism.
Between 1960-1970, only about 4,000 people (total) had left the USSR. But the number of Jewish persons alone rose to 291,000 in the following eighteen years. Many of those Jews (at least 165,000 of them) desired to live in their homeland of Israel! Many other Soviet Jews (approximately 126,000) chose to move to the USA during that time as well.
Russia was falling apart. The USSR was breaking up! The final dissolution of the Soviet Union occurred in 1991. That same year, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (the 8th and final leader of the Soviet Union) resigned. He handed over his powers (including control of the nuclear missile launching codes) to the new Russian President Boris Yeltsin. This also marked the end of the 'cold war.'
So even in the 1990's, the foretold Ezekiel 38-39 coalition wasn't possible. But again, Bible believers knew that one day these things would align as foretold!
Finally, let's look back in time to Turkey. In the 1960's, Turkey was much like Iran had been, a westernized modern (for the era) nation. But things changed rapidly in the 1970's. In 1973, the constitution was amended to limit personal freedoms. There was much political clashing, and approximately 1,500 people died from political violence in 1980.
The Turkish constitution had banned religious parties, but the NSP (the leading political party) was truly an Islamic party; they desired to bring in Sharia law. Then, by 1977 the CHP emerged as the leading party and annulled the Sharia law decree. A win for the Turkish citizens! By the 1980's, political violence was greatly reduced by the establishment of Martial law. The operation was extended throughout Turkey to eradicate terrorism. This back and forth of Turkey from non-Islamic to Islamic (and back again) rule caused much upheaval within the nation.
By 1982, a new constitution was drawn up. The free market principles and encouragement of foreign trade was initiated. This caused prosperity for a time. When Christianity was allowed to flourish in Turkey, it seemed things went well for them; but when Christians were targeted and slain, Turkey suffered under horrible conditions. This back and forth continued for the last few decades.
There have been many changes since then-the worst of which was when Erdogan (basically) decreed himself emperor less than two years ago. A fake 'coup' was propagandized in 2016 which (conveniently) gave Erdogan an excuse to imprison or kill all of his political and ideologic competition. There are still imprisoned innocent victims of this faux 'coup' today. Journalists from other nations were erroneously labeled as 'spies,' and much worse.
Erdogan styles himself as the next 'Caliph' of a revived Ottoman empire. In fact, all three leaders: Putin of Russia, Erdogan of Turkey, and Rouhani of Iran all believe themselves to be more important and special than they are. Their huge egos, their massive amounts of vanity and pride, will be their downfall. It's hard to believe that such a coalition could form with three such overly enlarged egos involved, yet it has indeed coalesced. Exactly as God's word foretold.
One would never know (today) that Turkey (in 1949) was the first Muslim majority nation to recognize the state of Israel. Oh, how times have changed! One would even have difficulty imagining why Turkey was ever accepted into NATO, and how it came to be that the US built an air base in Incirlik, Turkey. We even (today) still have nuclear weapons there. This is troublesome with the change in attitude coming from Erdogan.
That short history lesson was to say this: In 1970's (and even in the 80's and 90's), the conditions for the Ezekiel 38-39 war did not exist. It wasn't possible. But today? We have those exact foretold nations in alliance. The preciseness and accuracy of God's word is stunning!
But what is more stunning? What is more amazing to me? The fact that so few believers today recognize the significance of this alignment! Back in the 70's, 80's, and even 90's believers knew that Ezekiel 38-39 would one day occur. They never doubted! The Bible said so, and we know the Bible is God's word! Even back then... all those decades when the conditions weren't possible... we knew that one day the conditions WOULD be ripe. How faithful believers were back then.
But today? The exact coalition described in Ezekiel 38-39 has now formed. And many believers are either unaware, or worse? They just don't care! Even worse? Many just don't BELIEVE God's word!
I guess it's hard for me to comprehend. I wondered all those years ago if I would live to see the days when the Eze. 38-39 coalition formed. I wondered (then) how would the naysayers react? How could they possibly attempt to refute scripture then when the coalition formed before their very eyes? But the answer has come, and it's been more surprising than it should be. The answer is that now that this precise coalition has formed exactly as the Bible foretold, leaving no doubt of the truth and veracity of scripture... that people are now BLIND to the truth!
We shouldn't be at all surprised. After all, the Bible also foretold that the time would come (even in churches) when they would not endure sound doctrine, but would prefer to hear fables (2 Tim. 4:3-4). The Bible also foretold that the characteristics of those living in the "perilous last days" would be of extreme narcissism and not caring about the word of God (2 Tim. 3:1-5). That they would continue to be deceived and deceive others (2 Tim. 3:13). That they would "have a form of godliness" but that they would "deny the power thereof" (2 Tim. 3:5).
The Bible also foretold that there would be many mockers in the last days (Jude 1:18, 2 Pet. 3:3-4), and so there are! God's word also foretold that many would be given over to a reprobate mind (Rom. 1:18-32). It's never been more apparent and overtly obvious than it is today.
Those same characteristics are those that were seen during the times of Noah and Lot, before God's wrath was meted out on the ungodly and wicked. It's no coincidence that God's word also foretold these last days would be "as in the days of Noah" and "as in the days of Lot" (Luke 17). So also are we warned of this same condition throughout New Testament scripture. We are warned to "remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32); she looked back with nostalgia upon the evil world she had come to know (and sadly, with longing to go back there). We cannot make the same mistake!
We were also warned that the birth pains would commence (the "beginning of sorrows" in Matthew 24:4-8). Jesus used this example wisely. Just as a woman "in travail," getting ready to give birth, so too are the "birth pains" of the tribulation at the door-one contraction coming after another, each stronger and more severe than the last, closer and closer together! So too are these birth pains we see today!
Yet we (grace/church-age believers) won't be here to see the commencing of the tribulation. We will have been taken up in the rapture prior to the confirming of the covenant (Dan. 9:27) which kicks off the countdown for the 70th week of Daniel to commence.
How do we know this is true? How do we know it for a fact? The Bible tells us so! We are told that Jesus delivers us (church/grace-age believers) from the wrath to come (1 Thes. 1:10, Rom. 5:9, 1 Thes. 5:9). We are even told HOW He will deliver us. The rapture! (1 Cor. 15:49-53, 1 Thes. 4:13-18).
As I sit here watching the coalescing and converging of all of God's prophetic word come together before our very eyes, I am struck with a deep sense of sadness. Not that it's happening. Oh no! Of that I am blissfully gleeful! After all, I've waited more than a half century of my life in the hopes of seeing these very things. I long to be with and see my risen Savior more than anything else!
So what about this makes me sad? Just as people don't believe God's word about ALL of the prophetic events coming to pass, even though they are right before their very eyes; and just as people don't trust God's word that He will take us up prior to His righteous wrath being meted out upon the evil God-hating and Christ-rejecting world, so also are people refusing to hear ANY of God's word... that also includes the gospel for some.
That's the sad part... If people would only realize that God's word is TRUE. They could avoid an eternity in hell if they come to Christ for salvation. They could even avoid entering the tribulation and suffering those horrific things foretold to occur, IF they would only come to Christ NOW, prior to the rapture! There is plenty in scripture written about this horrific time to come - many OT prophecies in Daniel and others. Revelation chapters 6-18 gives an overview of the tribulation.
But the problem? They just don't BELIEVE. I wonder how it is that people can claim to NOT believe something they have never even read? But then again, I realize that if they are not born-again, they haven't received the indwelling Holy Spirit. Therefore, they cannot comprehend even if they do read it! (1 Cor. 2:14). Sadly the devil has blinded them so fully that some cannot even believe the gospel. To them? It's foolishness! (1 Cor. 1:18).
So, what can we do with a person who won't believe even when the foretold events of scripture are converging and even commencing right before our eyes?
That's the hard part. That's the part that causes me to grieve for their eternal souls. We continue to share the gospel (that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose the third day (1 Cor. 15:1-4). We continue to let them know that faith comes by hearing (and reading) the word of God (Rom. 10:17). We continue to let them know that good works cannot save them (Eph. 2:8-9). That only Jesus can save them! (John 14:6, Rom. 3:23-25, 1 Tim.2:5, et al). That BELIEF is the requirement! (Rom. 10:9-13, John 3:15-18).
Of course that would require that they first recognize and admit they are a sinner. We ALL are sinners in need of salvation! (Rom. 3:23, 6:23; 1 John 1:7-9). Jesus paid our sin debt and reconciled us to God. (Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18-20; Eph. 2:18; Col. 1:20-21; Heb. 2:17, et al). But again, one must BELIEVE that in order to receive Christ.
So, what can we do about those who just refuse to believe - those who cannot see the truth in front of their eyes? We can pray for them! We can continue to share the gospel with them, knowing that God's word doesn't return void (Isaiah 55:11).
But let's not get hung up on one or two people. Yes, it's horrifying when a dear relative or loved one rejects Christ. And yes, we should be in prayer about this often. But I fear it paralyzes many of us from sharing the gospel with OTHERS. Maybe these others aren't YOUR friends, or YOUR loved ones, or YOUR relatives... but they are someone's friend, brother, sister, child, loved one... and most of all, they matter to God. He would have ALL saved and come to the knowledge of the TRUTH. (1 Tim. 2:4)
Maybe you have held back sharing the gospel with others because there is a dear one (or more) in your life who has yet to come to Christ? Maybe you think that you can't go witness to others when your own friend or relative hasn't yet come to Christ? Maybe that's holding you back from sharing the gospel with others who aren't so dear to you? Maybe even those you don't know? This is the devil's device; he will use anything he can to impede the gospel from going forth!
That sneaky serpent would like nothing more than to have you (believer) cowering in a corner, concerned only about your own loved ones. And while yes, we should be concerned about our loved ones, we should not let this hinder us from sharing the gospel with those we don't know. Even others that we DO know... friends, co-workers, acquaintances. Even people on social media!
You don't have to go door to door to share the gospel. You can start a blog, share the message on social media platforms, make a video! There are MANY ways to share the gospel. You can even (snail mail) mail Biblical tracts (with sound doctrine and gospel) to those you do or don't know randomly. Pick up a phone book for names/addresses, or look in your county's real estate owners' (taxes) website for names/addresses. There are hundreds of ways to share the gospel that do not require face to face confrontation (if that concerns you).
At the very least, if you have no desire whatsoever to share the gospel, then maybe you could consider donating to a missionary fund - one who shares the gospel with those in foreign lands where the gospel is hard to find. There are so many ways to serve the Lord!
Don't sit helplessly in a corner. Don't let the devil make you feel defeated because maybe one of your loved ones hasn't yet come to Christ.
How can I word this? What if your loved one won't believe until someone else tells them? And what if that someone else is right now cowering in a corner because their own loved one hasn't yet come to Christ? This may seem a far-fetched scenario, but I would hazard to guess that it's much more common than one might think.
Please, don't JUST be concerned about your own loved ones (Matt. 5:46-47); even the unsaved world does that! But rather be concerned about the eternal condition of the souls of those you don't know. They may not be as precious (in your sight) as they are to their own family, but they are precious in God's eyes. What if someone is out there waiting for YOU to share the gospel with them?
Maybe you've tried sharing the gospel and had the door shut in your face so many times that you feel it's futile. I admit that there are fewer and fewer people coming to Christ here in the US than in any previous decade of history - at least that's been my own experience. Fewer are receptive than ever before, and some are downright hostile to ANY of God's word. But that's no excuse to give up. Even if 99 times out of 100 the gospel is rejected, that 1% is still worth the hassles and struggles we face to share.
What if that one out of a hundred (or even one out of a million) was someone you loved? Wouldn't you want someone to share the gospel with them? What if they aren't receptive to you because you are so close to them? (Oftentimes teens and young adults are rebellious against parents and relatives at that age, for example). And what if they would be receptive if someone else shared the gospel with them? Maybe someone in their own age range or peer group?
And what if that person (that they would be receptive to) decided that they also were just going to cower in a corner because they also had not been experiencing a great soul-winning to Christ of late? What if your mission from the Lord was to seek out that one in a hundred (or even one in a million) that would come to Christ if they only heard the gospel at the exact right moment?
Don't let the devil dissuade you! Share the gospel now in these last hours of the age of grace. The night is far spent! The day is at hand. Any moment the rapture can occur, and then we will have no time remaining to share the gospel with those on earth. Soon after that, the world will be plunged into the worst imaginable time, the tribulation! Don't you want to meet the Lord knowing that you truly did your best to reach the lost with the gospel?
"And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light." (Rom. 13:11-12)
Yes, the night is far spent... we are so near to the end of this age, and with that the rapture of the church! But that is absolutely no excuse to sit on our hands merely waiting. Let's be busy about our Father's business. Time is short! Let's share the gospel with as many as we can as we see the day approaching!
Iranian Blood Money, Palestinian Blood - By Dr. Mordechai Kedar - https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/108993/iranian-blood-money-palestinian-blood-opinion/
A significant escalation in the situation prevailing at the Israel-Gaza border took place this week. The prattle about demonstrations and attempts by "returning" Gaza residents to infiltrate Israel was replaced by missiles and mortars on a level not seen since Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Up to the time of this writing, on Wednesday morning, there have been several wounded, but no casualties, on the Israeli side. However, it is clear to all that chance alone separates a mortar shell that digs a crater on an empty street from one that hits a home or kindergarten leaving wounded and dead in its wake.
The immediate question is why? Why is this erupting now? Is it a reaction to the direct hit the IDF carried out on an Islamic Jihad observation post of in Gaza, eliminating the three terrorists inside it? Or are there other factors behind this escalation? Another question is: Why are Hamas and Islamic Jihad working together on this after a long period of tension between the two? And why are they operating beyond the area near Gaza from which they tried to kidnap Israeli soldiers?
For years now, Israel has been acting with a large measure of freedom against Iranian presence in Syria, bombing various targets and eliminating soldiers and officers, with Iran doing almost nothing to avenge the blood of the tens of Iranians killed in these bombings or the damage to Iranian military infrastructure in Syria. The reason Iran has not reacted to Israeli strikes is its inferior military intelligence and operational ability. Israel has inflicted serious damage on Iran's ability to protect itself and using the new anti-aircraft systems it brought into Syria. Israel destroyed them as soon as they arrived, before they were activated and before they became operational.
Israel also proved its exceptional intelligence ability, because its attacks on Iranian forces were exactly aimed and successfully pinpointed. This caused the Iranian command to concentrate on its own defenses for fear that Israel would hit the Iranian commanders in Syria headed by Kassem Sulimani. Israel destroyed Iranian targets all over Syria, not just near the Golan Heights, and showed the Iranians and their Russian supporters just how much strength and resolve Israel has when it comes to attacking distant Iranian targets - hinting obliquely at Israel's ability to hit them within Iran itself.
However, what really frightened the Iranians the most is the fact that Russia observed everything Israel did to the Iranian forces in Syria without lifting a finger to come to the aid of the Iranians. The Iranians could not help noticing Netanyahu arriving in Moscow every few months, sitting with Putin for hours, coming out with an almost set declaration praising the understandings between Russia and Israel and hinting that Israel has received a carte blanche from Russia, a glowing green light to act against Iran to its heart's content. The coordination between Netanyahu and Putin infuriates Iranians, as it is evidence of Russia's betrayal of Iran after Iranian soldiers' blood was spilled like water in the ground war against the anti-Assad rebels.
In addition, the Iranians believe that America backs Israel in anything it has already done, is now doing and intends to do against Iran in Syria, since the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem without demanding a political quid pro quo from Israel (at least up to now) for this beneficent gesture. The Israelis succeeded in convincing the US to withdraw from the nuclear deal, and in point of fact, - at least as far as Iran is concerned - Netanyahu is Trump's advisor on the Middle East, with American policy in the Middle East relying on the experience and knowledge Israel has gathered during its 70 years in this complex region. Iran considers the Israeli Prime Minister to be responsible for Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal and the reestablishment of sanctions on all foreign industries and their representatives, especially European companies, which cooperate with Iran.
The astute, decisive and wide-ranging use Israel evinced in integrating military intelligence and operational power, along with the political know-how which persuaded both Russia and the USA to back Israel's determined policies in Syria, resulted in the Iranians deciding to lower their profile, swallow their pride and humiliation, and refrain from any direct actions against Israel.
The only fly in the ointment is that the Iranians have an established method of fighting their enemies - they make use of proxies. The Iranians support the Houthis in Yemen, the Hezbollah in Lebanon, Assad in Syria, loyal militias in Iraq, Hamas and Islamic Jihad on the Palestinian front, with all of them doing the dirty work for Iran in fighting the costly war against the Ayatollahs' foes. Iran supplies these terrorists with weapons, supplies, trains and funds them, expecting them to reciprocate by acting whenever requested to do so.
Backstage, no one can forget the fact that Israel stole Iran's nuclear project archives, deeply humiliating the Ayatollahs. Even worse, if the Ayatollahs did not save copies of the stolen material, their nuclear programs may have to start almost from scratch, as their scientists will have to repeat the experiments and calculations contained in the files Israel stole from under their noses. This Israeli operation revealed Iran in all its treachery.
Iran's weakness increased Assad's self-confidence, leading him to tell his forces to forbid Iran from storing military equipment in hangars that belong to the Syrian army, so that Israel would not attack them. The Russians are willing to create a situation that prevents the Iranians from approaching Israel, while Assad's army takes over the Syrian Golan and renews the 1974 ceasefire it signed with Israel. Iran's status in Syria is now shaky, although it shed much Iranian Quds Force blood as well as that of the Shiite militias brought from Iraq and Afghanistan, all in order to save Assad and his regime.
The events in Syria over the past few weeks in which Israel saw to a stinging Iranian defeat on Syrian land, have caused the Iranians to demand that the two organizations it funds in Gaza begin to act against Israel with more than just kites, protests and snipers, instead launching rockets aimed to land past the areas in Gaza's proximity. That is why we saw rockets from Gaza aimed at Ofakim, Netivot and other areas located tens of miles from the Strip.
The two Gazan organizations have their own clear and longstanding anti-Israel agenda, and if they were able to, would push the Israelis right into the sea. However, the heating up of hostilities over the past few days is clearly an Iranian initiative. The Egyptians realize this and are therefore putting much effort into ending the exchange of fire, hoping to pull the rug from under the Iranian feet trying with all their might to set Israel on fire in revenge for what Israel did to them in Syria.
It must be kept in mind that Iran is saving Hezbollah for future use against Israel if a direct Iran-Israel war ever breaks out. Still, if the hostilities between Israel and Gaza develop into a dance of the dammed with tens of wounded, as in the 2014 Protective Edge. Iran might even demand that Hezbollah play a part and attack Israel from the areas Hezbollah controls In Syria, such as the Kalamoun Mountains north of Mount Hermon.
In any scenario, Israel must keep its deterrent capability on high alert, reacting uncompromisingly and without mercy against any force acting against it - either through that enemy's own initiative or by means of hired mercenaries for another country.
The question to which I have no answer is whether Israel has any way of proving without doubt that Iran is behind the escalalation in the south. If Israel obtains proof, the question is whether Israel decides to make Iran pay a price for this escalation at the Gaza fence. In that case, Binyamin Netanyahu's next press conference will expose the connection between Iran and Gaza during these warm and arid days of Spring...
May we wish all of Israel's southern residents as well as those living in Gaza - a speedy return to calm, security and tranquility.
Nearing Midnight: The Muppets Go Hardcore - Todd Strandberg - http://www.raptureready.com/category/nearing-midnight/
The makers of "Sesame Street" tried and failed to block the release of the R-rated film the "Happytime Murders." The film is scheduled for an August release. It has a human detective who teams up with a puppet partner to investigate grisly puppet murders. The movie is loaded with every form of sin that could be imagined; with explicit profanity, drug-using, prostitution, violence, copulation, and even ejaculating puppets.
The Sesame Workshop owns the rights to puppets like the Cookie Monster, Mr. Snuffleupagus, and Big Bird. They were all created by the Jim Henson Company, which controls the Muppet Show characters like Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog. The Happytime Murders movie has all new puppets.
The lawyers for Sesame Street argued that the film's tagline "No Sesame. All Street" infringes on the Workshop's trademark. Judge Vernon Broderick said that the tagline actually distinguished the upcoming film from Sesame Street in a "humorous, pithy way." The Judge also ruled that the film's endless filth did not tarnish Sesame's brand.
Jim Henson must be spinning in his grave right now. He was a man of very high morals, and would be absolutely horrified to see what has become of his creations. The Jim Henson Company is run by Jim's son Brian Henson, who has sold out to the recent trend that calls for adding vice to movies that were once aimed at kids. The movie "Ted," with the foul-mouth teddy bear, gave the signal to go blue in his market when it became a huge hit in 2012.
One sign of shame over the making of the movie is that it was produced by the company's subsidiary, "On The Day Productions." Brian Henson claims to have argued against the reference to Muppets and Sesame Street, but he said "contractually we don't have the right to change it," according to court papers.
He said he didn't want to have the film viewed as a debauched parody of the Muppets. "...Therefore, trading off the famous Muppets to sell the film is exactly what we did not want to have happen," said Henson in court records. This is just a mind game that people play. They say they don't want to do something, and then they do that exact thing under some pretext.
The movie has Muppets performing acts that would be seen as X-rated a generation ago. It's telling of how we are in the last days when evil finds its way into everything that was once seen as virtuous or wholesome. Even Christian movies are now being produced that have profanity. You can't even trust the rating system. The day will come when a G-rating will mean that there is only a small amount of nudity in a film.
Another sign that this world is becoming totally depraved was the recent vote in Ireland to repeal an amendment banning abortion. The referendum saw 66.4 percent of the electorate voting to make abortion services legal by January 2019. People were dancing in the streets like Ireland has just won the world soccer championship. Years ago, the ability of a woman to murder her unborn child would be welcomed with regretful silence.
Ireland's first openly gay Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, gave the most fitting reaction to this travesty: "I said in recent days that this was a once-in-a-generation vote. Today I believe we have voted for the next generation."
Ireland is in the new generation, but it's the type that leads to self-destruction.
It just seems like humanity is on a huge ship that is in the midst of a hurricane that is constantly getting more furious. The moral anchors that have been resisting the storm have been snapping one by one from the stress. I can only think of the storm that Jesus and his disciples faced on the Sea of Galilee. In our case, the calming of the waves only comes when the rapture takes us away from this turmoil.
"Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm" (Matthew 8:23-26).
Jesus Is No Longer the Only Way For Many American "Christians" - http://www.prophecynewswatch.com
For two thousand years, a core tenet of Christianity has been that, to paraphrase John 14:6, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life - no one comes to the Father but through Him. The eternal reward of Heaven is exclusively for those who repent, put their faith in Christ's sacrifice on the cross and asked to be saved from their sins.
Now even this bedrock belief of Christianity has been undermined by some ministers who preach, in the postmodern age of liberal theology, that there are many paths to God and Heaven.
One such "open-minded" voice is the pastor Michael Walrond Jr. who preaches at Harlem's First Corinthian Baptist Church. Preaching to a portion of his 10,000 strong congregation, he is quoted as saying, "There was a time when you would see people in the pulpit say, 'well, if you don't believe in Jesus you're going to Hell. That's insanity in many ways because that is not what Jesus even believes."
He did not bother to cite the precise verses of scripture where Jesus tells His followers that there are other paths to God and that He is not the only way or the only truth. But it is likely that he didn't need to in order to sway his audience, because the pastor, and others like him, are tapping into a powerful in postmodern and liberal theology in which Christians no longer believe in the traditional view of Christ's sacrifice and its value.
Ten years ago, in 2008, studies done by the Pew Research Center showed that more than half of American Christians no longer believed that Christianity was the only way to come to God and enter Heaven. Members of African American churches and evangelicals were the most likely to believe in the God of the Bible at 92 and 91%, far greater than the average.
Pluralistic notions of religious relativism and vague spirituality have resulted in a stark difference between traditional Christian doctrine and the now common belief that Christ's sacrifice is just one method of salvation among hundreds. In a pluralistic society, the reasoning isn't hard to imagine. After all, wouldn't it be horrible if our Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and atheist neighbors, who are nice enough people, couldn't go to Heaven with us? That just wouldn't be fair, especially if they believed in their version of God.
Out of the 80% of Americans who profess a belief in a god, only 56% of the total believe in the God of the Bible. Muslims, Jews and Hindus make up a very small part of this difference, but much greater are those who hold a vague, spiritualist notion of what God is, while clinging to Christianity in name only, including 28% of Catholics, 26% of Protestants who, according to this survey, no longer believe in the God of the Bible.
What caused this shift? There are doubtless several factors at work here, such as a breakdown in family structures, an increasingly postmodern culture and media attacks on traditional Christianity. Institutions of higher education are among the chief culprits in this change, according to J. Lanier Burns, a senior professor of systematic theology at Dallas Theological Seminary.
According to Burns, "This is the agenda of the universities at the present time because it is felt that maybe it is religion that has generated all the wars and so maybe if we can get rid of exclusive religion we might have greater peace in the world." Could he be on to something? Could seminaries and schools of theological studies be transforming religious belief on such a grand scale to fit their agenda?
The liberal bias in higher education, a self-reinforcing cycle, is especially pronounced in university religion departments. A recent study by Mitchel Langbert of Brooklyn College, found that, among 8,688 professors (with a Ph.D. and on tenure paths) from the 51 of the top universities, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by a 10 to 1 ratio. But in religion departments, the ratio is an astounding 70 Democrats for every 1 Republican.
It is not difficult to conjecture that there may be some connection here between liberal politics and liberal religion, but it is also true that the same forces at work to create such a political imbalance have also worked to create and reinforce a trend toward increasingly liberal theology.
Langbert points out that "Political homogeneity is problematic because it biases research and teaching and reduces academic credibility. Even though more Americans are conservative than liberal, academic psychologists' biases cause them to believe that conservatism is deviant." Within the university setting, dare to defend Biblical beliefs and traditional Christianity in many divinity schools and you may suffer consequences.
Burns also points to a shift from finding truth in scripture to a view of truth as mere societal consensus, a sort of democratization of God in the postmodern age. "We are going wrong because we have moved the authority from Scripture to consensus. That's where we are going wrong".
Finally, as we seek to answer the question, 'what has caused this shift?', we need look no further than the church, itself, as suggested in the first paragraph of this article.
Men who have become popular or prominent within the church, seek to enhance their popularity (or offerings) by a watered-down Gospel. Having been seminary-trained to be CEO's instead of Biblical proclaimers of the Gospel, many pastors are structuring their style to be 'consumer' oriented; to be 'appealing' rather than 'demanding'. Some call this being 'seeker sensitive'.
In an interview with Phil Donahue in 1984, Norman Vincent Peale said: "It's not necessary to be born again. You have your way to God; I have mine. I found eternal peace in a Shinto shrine. ... I've been to the Shinto shrines, and God is everywhere." Donahue then exclaimed, "But you're a Christian minister; you're supposed to tell me that Christ is the Way and the Truth and the Life, aren't you?" Peale replied, "Christ is one of the ways! God is everywhere."
In an article in Christianity Today, Robert Schuller said that the most destructive thing that has been done in the name of Christ is the attempt to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition. He called it "crude" and "uncouth". [October 5, 1984]
But Jesus Christ says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by Me." (John 14.6)
When Peter stepped out of the upper room on the Day of Pentecost, he preached Christ crucified and solemnly declared, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other Name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4.12)
The apostle Paul, in meeting with the Ephesian elders, warned that men would arise within the church ("of your own selves") "speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them". (Acts 20.30) It is the rampant deception that marks these Last Days, and it is being fulfilled among us, in spades.
Daily Jot: Christians will determine mid-term election outcome - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
A couple of polls have been taken by reputable companies regarding the state of mind of Americans. Pew Research says that nearly 7 of 10 Americans feel worn out by the amount of news they are bombarded with each day. George Barna's American Culture and Faith Institute (AFCI) reports that almost the same amount of people (ranging from 66-77%) are angry about the condition of America; saying the country is going in the wrong direction politically, culturally and morally. Nonetheless, Barna says 45% approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as President. This coincides with Rasmussen's Daily Presidential Tracking Poll that indicates 48% of likely voters approve of President Trump's job performance.
Pew reports, "While majorities of both Republicans and Democrats express news fatigue, Republicans are feeling it more. Roughly three-quarters (77%) of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents feel worn out over how much news there is, compared with about six-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (61%). This elevated fatigue among Republicans tracks with them having less enthusiasm than Democrats for the 2018 elections." A January Pew poll said that 69% of Democrats looked forward to the congressional elections, significantly more than the 58% of Republicans. This is fairly normal for a mid-term election as the party in control of the White House usually loses seats in Congress.
The ACFI poll shows that if the election were held today, voter turnout would be even lower (33%) than the average of the three most recent mid-term elections (36.8%). Of that mix, an estimated 54% would be liberal, 41% conservative and 23% moderate. However, Barna says "Among the major faith segments, 49% of SAGE Cons (Spiritually Active, Governance Engaged Conservative Christians) would be expected to vote, compared to 36% of Notional Christians, 31% of born again Christians, 30% of Skeptics, and 28% of people associated with non-Christian faiths." Barna says that those who have a biblical worldview are substantially above-average in their likelihood to vote at 43% compared with the 33% average.
Barna says, "The 2016 presidential election was noteworthy for many reasons, one of which was the central role of people's faith in their voting decisions. That argument is supported by more than three dozen national and statewide surveys conducted by ACFI during the campaign." Despite discouraging news fatigue, traditional losses of the party in the White House, liberal voters being more motivated, and the general lack of interest in the mid-term elections, Christians have the opportunity to once again control the outcome and shape society by exercising their right to vote. This is one way that we influence a dark and dying world. Romans 12:21 says, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." A ballot cast in faith, by faith, and of faith is one way to ultimately influence the direction of politics, culture and morals in society.
Daily Devotion: Taking the Gospel to the World - By Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
But He said to them, "Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth." -Mark 1:38
Jesus went and met the woman at the well in Samaria because she had an appointment with God. In Jesus' detour into enemy territory, we see two important concerns as we bring the message of the gospel today.
First, we have to go to where people are. Jesus did not say that the whole world should go to church; He said the church should go into the whole world. As Mark's Gospel tells us, "And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature'" (Mark 16:15).
When Harvest Ministries was doing an outreach in Disneyland a number of years ago, I was asked, "Why are you doing this in a place like Disneyland? Why would you come and hold an event in a place like this?"
I said, "Because Jesus said, 'Go into all the world,' and He did not exempt Disneyland. There are people there. And we want to reach people." The glorious thing is that many people came into the kingdom through that outreach. We need to go to where people are.
Second, we need to care about the people we speak to. Jesus needed to go to Samaria because He cared about this woman (see John 4:4). When the apostle Paul was in Athens, he saw the city that was given over to idolatry, and his spirit was stirred within him (see Acts 17:16-17). He felt righteous indignation as he saw so many turning to false gods.
In the same way, any effective sharing of the gospel must always begin with a God-given burden. We have to care. Jesus cared. Do you? Do you want to reach out to perishing people?
FROM THE HEART
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