What and Where is Hell? (An almost complete re-write. What was four very long chapters is now seven short ones divided by topic. Much easier to read.) Since either Heaven or Hell is the final destination of all of mankind, the importance of these two subjects cannot possibly be overstated. In fact, it is imperative that we thoroughly and completely understand, not man's teachings, but what the Bible says about heaven and hell. Unfortunately, most Christians believe that an everlasting nightmare is a core doctrine of the church. It is not. The doctrine emerged only after a long debate within the Church but has little in common with what the Bible teaches. In fact, in order to support what they think is right, various translations have rendered several Hebrew and Greek word according to their own preconceived ideas. However, it is totally pointless to even read this unless you are prepared to set aside your denominational presuppositions and other biases, and rely strictly on what the Word says, something that seems to be easier said than done for most Christians. But for those who are willing to allow the Bible to dictate their beliefs...
The Deity of Christ - Was He Lord, Liar or Lunatic? (An almost complete re-write - I just got too longwinded - Sigh!) Perhaps the most common disagreement about Christianity is not whether a person called Jesus ever lived, but who exactly He was. Although even people who are not Christians will usually agree that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was a unique personality, opinions as to who exactly He was are sharply divided. The answer to the question of who Jesus really is cannot be filed under 'differences of opinion' and left at that, since the practical implications for every person on this planet is enormous. If Jesus was not who he claimed to be and was not who the Bible says He is, then we can at best safely ignore His teachings as the product of the devious mind of an out and out charlatan, or the ranting of one who was vastly deluded or even insane. However, if He really is God, then we need to sit up and pay very close attention to what He had to say.
Aaron’s Sons One of the more inexplicable events in the Bible was when Nadab and Abihu - Aaron’s two eldest sons were struck dead by the Lord because they violated one of the Lord’s very specific instructions. However, the two younger brothers, Eleazar and Ithamar, and very likely Aaron as well, deliberately disobeyed God's instructions, but were not struck down. In fact, God blessed their lives and the lives of their descendants. Why? Why did two perish and two prosper?
The Wrath of God and Signs of The Times have also been extensively redone. The Antichrist was originally two articles now combined and hopefully much more to the point.
Added November 2017
Section 2.. Reasons To Believe/ A Remarkable Book Called The Bible
How The Bible Was Written Because the truly phenomenal logistics behind the authorship of the Bible are far beyond the capabilities of even the smartest human being, one has to look further afield for an explanation. Luckily the Bible itself gives us a relatively simple explanation - its almost unbelievable unity came about because the entire book and all forty authors were inspired by God. But what exactly does that mean?
Scientific Facts In The Bible (Updated. I have removed virtually all ‘facts’ unless I could find and document secular and scientific sources. Thus much had to be rewritten) Before you laugh at stupid Christians, ask yourself if there is any proof that the claims of the Bible are true. When studying the science of the ancient world, one is more likely to be impressed with its ignorance than to admire its accuracy. However, the Scriptures are replete with statements that demonstrate scientific knowledge that predates - often by many hundred of years - corresponding discoveries made by the modern scientific world. Given that Bible writers were not scientists, and given that the scientific information at their disposal was both sparse and generally misleading, the accuracy of the Bible can only be attributed to the inspiration of God."
Section 2.. Reasons To Believe/ God
God's Love/Hate Relationship with the World
Along with God loves everyone, it is almost universally believed that God hates the sin and not the sinner. In fact, I suspect that many assume it is a divine precept that originated in the pages of the Bible. It is not. Much to the contrary, Scripture makes it clear that not only does God hate the sin but is many cases says He hates the sinner as well. And why would this be surprising? Most often people do what they are, i.e. their deeds usually provide a clear insight into their character. Thus if God disapproves of sin, there is no question that He must disapprove of the person committing the sin. And His disapproval is so very strong that the word hate describes it well.
Added August - October 2017
Section 8B ... Controversial Issues
Martin Luther ... There is no question that Martin Luther's refusal to bow down to the dictates of the Catholic Church let the genie out of the bottle. His reforms helped empower peasants, gave rise to Protestantism as we know it and even, in the long run, contributed to democracy and changed the course of Western civilization. On the other hand, not many Martin Luther devotees seem to be aware that his idea of Grace and Faith did not exactly coincide with what Scripture teaches, and that several Catholic doctrines remained firmly entrenched in his belief system. And that is not all. All too many Christians tend to gloss over the fact that Luther slandered everyone he disagreed with. He made strident and offensive verbal attacks against both the papacy and the Anabaptists, while his violent polemics against the Jews include calling them names like an incorrigible whore and an evil slut - appalling examples of extreme anti-Semitism.
Baptism (Updated, reordered (it didn’t flow well), and simplified).
The questions we need answered from Scripture are, 1) How - Under normal circumstances, are any of the various modes of baptism acceptable? Did the New Testament baptizers used immersion and how much, if at all, do the methods used matter? 2) Why - What does baptism symbolize? Is it a requirement for salvation? and 3) When - Various denominations have their own practices that their members adhere to. Some baptize infants or very young children putting forth various reasons for the practice. Some even claim that infants can have faith at that age, or the faith of the parents speaks for the child. Though the exact purpose of it differs from group to group, it almost always implies that the child thereby receives salvation in some way.
Section 4 .. The Heart Of The Matter / Salvation
(Updated. It was simply too wordy so I reordered, simplified, and split the article into four parts. Part III is entirely new)
Salvation - Part I
When all is said and done, virtually all humans have two things in common. 1) Almost everyone is searching for a 'better life', if not a perfect one. 2) No one wants to die - our spirit rebels at the thought that no matter what we have accomplished in our seventy odd years here on earth, we are eventually going to become worm food. However, if your defenses are well honed and you claim to be satisfied with the short life given to you then don't bother with this article, written for those who do not wish to arrive at death's door without being certain of where it leads. The fact is Christianity alone offers you something you cannot get anywhere else - life without end in God's kingdom. In fact, Jesus said the reason He was sent to earth was to announce this Kingdom which, by the way, is no pie in the sky ethereal place 'somewhere out there' but matches, in every respect, the world most men and women would choose to live in. However, there is one stumbling block that keeps you (and everyone else) out of God's kingdom.
Salvation - Part II
Salvation involves more than simply affirming in one's mind that Jesus is Lord and Savior - Repentance and Faith are both absolute requirements for forgiveness. Besides which, Jesus is unquestionably Savior, but what happened to acknowledging Him as Lord? He is called "Lord" over six hundred times in the New Testament and Savior a mere 24 times. In fact, 60% of the New Testament books never even once mention Jesus as Savior. Does the phrase 'Lord Jesus Christ' trip so easily off our tongues that it never even dawns on us that this title has great significance - that it actually demands something of us?
Salvation - Part III
In the church today one often hears that salvation is a 'free' gift from God. But does the Bible actually say it is free or have we managed to latch on to (and spread) a completely erroneous idea? I am sure it will surprise many to hear that the word ‘free’ isn’t in the original Greek. Also that the word ‘gift’ may not mean exactly what we have been led to believe.
Salvation - Part IV
Although salvation/eternal life are free gifts, they do not come without anything being expected of us. To imagine that we can live our lives like the rest of the world, but still be welcome in God's presence, is little more than wishful thinking. The kingdom doesn't come cheap. From the very outset Jesus made it clear that He was not interested in casual followers, or even admirers but dedicated disciples whose commitment to Him supersedes all earthly ties. The minute we convert and are born again, we are adopted as sons and daughters of God and become citizens of His heavenly kingdom - strangers and pilgrims that stop here for a little while and then move on to our permanent home. However we cannot maintain a dual citizenship - allegiance has to be to one or the other.
Added July 2017
Section 8B ... Controversial Issues
Jesus and The Law The Bible contains both Old and New Testaments each with seemingly different teachings and commands. This has led to more than a little confusion for Christians who often struggle with the tension between the Old Testament emphasis on regulations, and the New Testament emphasis on grace. Anyone who has not grasped the seamless relationship between the two parts of the Scriptures, is far from clear as to what our relationship to the Old Testament should be, especially when it comes to the many laws including the Ten Commandments, the Sabbath etc.
Added May 2017
Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/Doctrines of Demons
Contemplative Prayer: The basic idea behind Contemplative Prayer is to totally center one's mind on God - not by conscious thought, but by simply feeling God within. Because the mystics claim that silence is God's first language, they teach that this form of prayer is more pleasing to God than any other. This of course resonates with people in our modern world who believe that their feeling are a reliable indicator of truth. Thus they assume that if they feel the presence of God, He must be there and they must be doing something pleasing to Him completely forgetting that it is not for us to decide how to approach the Almighty.
Additionally, Contemplative Prayer, as it is taught and practiced in the modern church, is widely believed to to be rooted in the tradition of the Desert Fathers. This is as far from the truth as it gets. Alpha, the "resting state" of the brain, often associated with the transportation to a "higher realm of consciousness" or mystical experience, is harnessed by Buddhist meditators, Hindus, New Agers, Shamans, Witches and 'Christian' mystics alike. Besides which God does not dwell in us as some other traditions believe - which philosophy has been adopted and taught by numerous mystics. In any case, if the teachings of the mystics is true, God has been remarkably negligent. Finally, Contemplative Prayer is unsupported by Scripture regardless of how many out-of-context verses supporters put forth in the effort to bolster their claims. However, since the words meditate, meditation etc. are not exactly unknown in the Bible, it is imperative that we are aware of the difference between Contemplative Prayer and Biblical meditation.
Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, and Thomas Keating: These four influential and very popular teachers of contemplative prayer fraternized with Eastern mystics, embraced the spiritual philosophies and religious practices of Buddhism, Hinduism etc. incorporating them into Christianity. They also endorsed various pagan 'spiritual' books that flatly contradict the Bible. Yet, multiple thousands of people all over the world, including many well known church leaders, have seen fit to suspend all common sense, ignore the many, many warnings in Scripture, and blindly follow the teachings of these wolves.
Added December 2016
Section 7. Living The Faith... The Biblical Christian
Why The Fire Hasn’t Fallen: Revival is a rather popular buzzword used for a wide variety of 'Christian' endeavors, a series of planned church services with a special emphasis on evangelism, or meetings marked by outlandish and obscenely bizarre behavior. Much to the contrary, revival is a sovereign act of God when He pours out His Spirit on a group of people with results that cannot be duplicated by man's efforts. Genuine revivals always brings repentance and lasting changes in people's lives. We need revival because Christianity is not alive and well in spite of loud declarations to the contrary. We are apparently blind to the fact that because we are comfortable, complacent and lack passion (Jesus called it lukewarm) God has withdrawn His presence from us. We want to pack our pews, double our offerings, hear sermons on encouragement, love, leadership, and being the best you can be. We have fund-raisers to build bigger buildings and more 'youth centers', but through it all we never seem to realize that the glory and power of the Lord are conspicuous by their absence. Too many churches have substituted an endless cycle of activity for the Holy Spirit that very effectively covers up the fact that they are spiritually dead as dodos - social clubs with God sprinkled in to legitimize the word 'church'. We have, for the most part, substituted activity For the Holy Spirit. However, revival always comes as a response. If heaven is to hear, someone has to first call. Unfortunately, the prayer meeting in the modern church is all but lost, buried under a sea of other programs, most nice, but completely irrelevant.
Added November 2016
Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church
Tongues - Citing the book of Acts, most of the groups that teach the doctrine of the baptism in the Holy Spirit claim that the single outward sign of this 'second blessing' is speaking in other tongues. This often takes place in an intensely emotional religious atmosphere sometimes called a "tarry meeting", in which seekers agonize and plead with God to send down His Holy Spirit. All too often, this is accompanied by fervent prayer, hymn singing, jumping up and down, hand clapping, etc. The person who supposedly receives the Holy Spirit, will start speaking in incoherent, unintelligible, repetitive words or phrases. Jerking, twitching, falling on the floor and screaming is also quite common.
Considering that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22) etc. brings up the multi million dollar question of where the unintelligible gibberish and crazy movements come from? Neither tongues nor the erratic movements are restricted to born again Christian believers but if you watch the videos in chapter 5, you will see that the jerking, the screaming, and collapse, are exactly the same in voodoo rituals and people who have a 'kundalini awakening' (as taught in Hinduism). Can any Christian believe for one moment that God has bestowed the gift of the Holy Spirit on Christians, non-Christians, cults, and pagans without any discrimination whatsoever. Or is it that most Christians know (but rarely seems to take seriously) that not every spirit is of God.
Added October 2016
Section 4 .. The Heart Of The Matter/Repentance
OSAS - The Doctrine of Eternal Security- Perhaps one of the most common and most perilous of teachings in the modern church is the doctrine of Eternal Security, also known as Once Saved Always Saved or OSAS. This doctrine holds that at the moment a person makes the once and for all decision to "accept" Christ as Savior, He pays for all of their sins: past, present, and future, thus they remain saved irrespective of how they conduct their lives thereafter, how much they backslide, or even if they actually disown Christ. The tragic result of this extremely lethal doctrine is that all too many Christians blissfully sail through life under the dangerous delusion that they are permanently and eternally saved on the basis that they once made a confession of faith, walked an aisle, prayed a prayer. Although they may not have actually murdered someone, many of them live pretty much as the world does. What a terribly tragic state we have talked ourselves into. If this doctrine of Eternal Security is true, then one is forced to the conclusion that both Jesus and Paul were talking through their hats when they prophesied that people would abandon or fall away from the faith in the final days. One also has to wonder why Scripture is replete with warnings about persevering in the faith and not falling from Grace. In any case, the Scriptures make it very clear that NO LIVING CHRISTIAN can claim to be finally saved
Sin (Updated) Even in the 21st century, most people's consciences usually tells them that there is a "right" and a "wrong". We are instinctively aware of an invisible benchmark. However, even those that believe in a higher power tend to have extremely diverse opinions regarding sin and its consequences. Some do not believe in an absolute moral law, and if there happens to be a God against whom we sin, He is too loving to actually hold our 'mistakes' against us. Others say that they try to live their lives by some form of the Golden Rule. An almost universal 'Santa Claus' mentality holds to the idea of rewards for those who's good deeds outweigh the bad, and punishment for those for whom the opposite is true. If pressed, possibly the majority of people in the western world would place themselves in the 'not perfect' category, but a far cry from 'sinners', or really bad people, usually defined as the serial killers, rapists, and child molesters of the world. Even when many Christians think of sin, they simply think of a violation of the Ten Commandments. The problem is that none of these views come anywhere near agreeing with the Biblical definition of sin, judgment, or even heaven and hell. This is simply because few know, or understand how the Bible defines sin.
Repentance ...The Missing Message (Updated) What you believe about Biblical repentance is, quite literally, a matter of life or death. Do not be fooled by the watered down Gospel message of “just “believe and be saved”, heard in so many churches today. On innumerable occasions, the Scriptures record God as warning that He will only have mercy on those whose repentance is real, but will destroy those who do not repent and turn from their sin. Scripture presents Repentance and Faith not as the same thing, but literally as two sides of the same coin. Quite simply, you can't believe without truly repenting.
Added July - September 2016
Section 11... Cults
The Seventh Day Adventist Church - Cult or Christian? The object of this article is not to prove whether or not Seventh Day Adventism is a cult, but that fundamental SDA doctrine, including Investigative Judgment and teachings on the Sabbath, conflicts with what the Bible teaches. Also an in-depth look at Ellen White’s prophecies, her ‘health reform’, the many times she contradicted both herself and the Bible, her bizarre teachings on various issues like photography, jewelry, leisure activities and sports, her vitriolic criticism of others, plagiarism etc. All of which forces the question of where Ellen White’s many visions originated. The physical phenomena that occurred during her visions and the psychological trauma she experienced in her early life do not give me a very warm feeling.
Added May-June 2016
Section 2... Reasons To Believe/ God
The Foreknowledge of God The majority of orthodox Christians subscribe to the view is that God is omniscient - He has complete and unlimited knowledge of everything that has ever happened, is happening now, and will ever happen. However, in recent years, a few scholars, who claim there is no divine script for the future, have proposed a radically different view called Open Theism, called so because they believe that God's knowledge of the future is 'open'. This view not only flatly contradicts what the Bible says about the foreknowledge of God but common sense as well.
Is God Different in the Old Testament and New Testament? The Bible quite clearly states that God's nature is unchanging. However, many people perceive the God of the Old Testament as being impatient, vengeful, cruel, merciless, and very cranky, which they believe is in complete contrast to the 'loving' heavenly Father of the New Testament. The conclusion is then drawn that Christianity is not to be trusted since, contrary to what the Bible says, God's nature does change. Not only is this presumed difference in God's nature used to try and discredit Christianity but has, unfortunately, proved to be rather large stumbling block to many. The million dollar question being then is whether it is true that God got kinder and more easy going over the course of time.
Can God Change His Mind/ Be Influenced by Humans? Classic theism asserts that God cannot be affected by outside influences, does not change His mind, and does not regret decisions He makes. However, none of the 'proof texts' usually quoted say that God never changes His mind, but that God wasn't going to change His mind in that specific situation. This however, still leaves us with the Exodus 32:14 which clearly says God changed His mind. Unfortunately, English translations have created numerous problems.
Added April 2016
Section 8A .. A Question Of Salvation
Universalism Christian universalists believe that Christ's death on the cross provides atonement for sin and redemption for all humanity regardless of whether people have, in their lifetimes, repented of their sins, trusted in Christ for salvation etc. While one can understand why a message that softens the edge of the Gospel message elicits a favorable response from people, what we need to ask ourselves whether Christian universalism is Biblical or whether it can be assigned to the wishful thinking category.
Section 3a .. Barriers To Faith
The Problem of Evil. The existence of evil is one of the greatest challenges to Christianity. Does evil exist and, if it does, where does it stem from and why doesn't a supposedly all-good & all-powerful God do something about it? Does the Bible say that God created evil?
November 2015 - March 2016
The last several months have been devoted to updating and rewriting several older articles. In all cases it has been a matter of style, not substance - except when some additional information needed to be incorporated, or some extraneous material, that contributed little or nothing to the piece, needed to be removed. In my opinion the articles are now simpler and flow better, which makes them easier to understand.
In no particular order...
The Trinity Part IV. Nothing changes the fact that the New Testament grammar cannot be legitimately used to support the idea that the Holy Spirit is male. However, I have pinpointed the exact form of the pronouns used and generally streamlined the article.
The Trinity Part V. Little or nothing has been added to this chapter. However, a lot of unnecessary material has been removed, and some information has been put into footnotes. While Greek philosophy tends to get complicated (and oft times completely ridiculous), the article is much simpler to understand. I have also changed much of the order ensuring the piece flows better.
The Trinity Part VB. Some of this chapter is new and shows how wrong the Cappadocian father were about other things. They made it a point to distinguish between how the Son and the Holy Spirit derived from the Father. According to them the Son is "begotten" of the Father, and the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father. Unfortunately for them, Jesus also spoke of 'proceeding' or 'coming from' the Father. They were also Catholic mystics... Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus pioneered the rules of monastic life, compiling what became known as "the Rule of St. Basil". The sad legacy of Neoplatonism.
The Two Phase Atonement. Again this has been rewritten to make more sense and flow more easily. The 'type' of the Passover has been added. Something I had completely overlooked.
The Days Of Noah. Because this is a longish article, I have split it up into sections which I imagine makes it easier to keep track. Some reordering also makes it flow better.
A Dragon and Two Beasts. This relatively complicated topic has been completely rewritten. Again, it is matter of style not substance.
Two Babylons (Revelation chapters 17 and 18). This very important piece was way too convoluted. Splitting it up into chapters has helped. Chapter III.... Seven Kings now includes images. I have also incorporated 'From Babel to Babylon" into the article, where it belongs.
Added October 2015
Section 12 A.. The Occult
Halloween: A very large percentage of Americans claim to be Christians yet continue to celebrate Halloween, the nation's second largest commercial holiday which is deeply rooted in the occult. In fact, there does not seem to be a single Halloween custom or symbol that does not originate with the pagan occult brought to America in the 1840's by Irish immigrants fleeing their country's potato famine. When we participate in Halloween we are helping, however indirectly, to publicize and promulgate what is possibly the single most important day in the world of the occult. When the Bible says whatever we do, we should do it “to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31), we need to ask ourselves whether it is possible to participate in a pagan festival to 'the glory of God'? For those who believe that dressing up as witch or ghoul is only a bit of fun, remember what the Bible says about imitating "detestable things" (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). Also remember, you are teaching your child that it is OK to emulate evil.
Added July-September 2015
Section 9B .. The Future
The Millennium The word 'Millennium' comes from a combination of the Latin mille, which means "thousand", and annus (year). Biblically, the Millennium refers to a literal period of 1,000 years, mentioned six times in Revelation 20. There are essentially three views regarding when Christ will return in relationship to the millennium. Pre-millennialists believe Christ will return after the Great Tribulation, and will physically rule the earth, from Jerusalem, for a thousand-year period of peace and security. Post-millennialists believe Christ will come after the church brings righteousness to the world for a thousand years. Rather than a literal 1000-year reign of Christ, A-millennialists believe that the millennium mentioned in Revelation 20 refers to the 'church age'. .. that is the period between Pentecost and Christ's Second Coming. In other words, Christ is already reigning from heaven. After this period comes to a close, He will return to judge the living and the dead and will establish His kingdom for all eternity. Quite obviously only one of the three views can possibly be correct.
Section 1... Choose Life That You Might Live
Alleged Discrepancies in The Gospel Accounts of the Resurrection Critics claim that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John's accounts of the resurrection differ substantially from each other and that these discrepancies or contradictions can neither be harmonized nor explained. This is then offered up as 'evidence' that the Gospels are completely unreliable as eyewitness testimony and can therefore be summarily dismissed. It should not be surprising that the so-called contradictions in the resurrection accounts are trotted out without a single reference to the possible solutions that can very plausibly and naturally explain them. In fact, the claim of contradictions galore only works for those accustomed to having their food pre-chewed for them and are thus disinclined do to any serious thinking for themselves. They make little effort to try and make any sense of the four accounts choosing instead to allow a surface reading dictate their beliefs. It will be a very expensive mistake
Added May-June 2015
Section 9B .. The Future
The Antichrist Sadly almost every Christian that I have had any contact with thinks the end is coming, but sometime in the vague and distant future. Much to the contrary, events are set to take a very nasty turn. While topics such as the rapture, the 'mark of the beast', the four horsemen of the apocalypse and the antichrist are the subject of much interest and discussion in today's professing church, I have to wonder how many have actually bothered to go beyond academic discussion, and take a good hard look at the less than subtle events taking place in the world around them. I am referring to a particular movement that has gradually been gathering momentum over the face of this earth, in which hundreds of thousands of people around the world are actively promoting conditions necessary for the coming World Teacher. And where exactly is the church that should be preparing for the storms to come? Few apparently take too seriously the "roaring lion" that Peter warned about. For the most part, if you glance outside, you will see the rocking chairs on the front porch moving steadily to and fro.
Section 12 ... The New Age
Alice Bailey and The Lucis Trust Alice Bailey, under the guidance of an ectoplasmic apparition from hell, who called himself Djwhal Khul ("The Tibetan"), wrote some 24 books and founded the Lucis Trust (formerly Lucifer Publishing Co.) which enjoys "Consultative Status" with the United Nations and has not only spawned several other organization… the Arcane School, Triangles, World Goodwill, Lucis Publishing, Lucis Productions, Lucis Trust Libraries, the New Group of World Servers, but also maintain the UN meditation room. And the purpose of these groups? At their core ALL of them exist for one purpose ..in their words “the helping of the Great Ones and the rendering to Them of that intelligent assistance which will make their plans for humanity materialize”. A plan that is centered around making conditions suitable (By occult meditation and reciting of the Great Invocation) for what they call “The Reappearance of The Christ. Except that this Christ has nothing to do with Jesus Christ of the Bible.
Added April 2015
Section 9B .. The Future
Two Babylons Although much prophecy is not completely understood until after it has been fulfilled, considering the fact that the Lord devotes two chapters to these "Babylons" makes it imperative that we ensure we, at the very least, grasp the broad outlines of the message that is being given us. In fact, make no mistake... these chapters are a crucial warning, dealing, as they do, with specific targets of the wrath of God. Chapter 17 deals with the spiritual side of Babylon.... a false religious system or "mystery Babylon", while chapter 18 deals with Babylon as a political and commercial system. They are two faces of the same coin... on one side a religious Babylon and, on the other, a political/commercial Babylon, both of which operate independently of, and in opposition to, the true God.
From Babel to Babylon Although part of the above article, this page outlines the beginning of two kingdoms on earth. Babylon, founded by Nimrod, worshipped a pantheon of deities (many of whom were associated with celestial bodies) and built impressive temples devoted to them. This kingdom would prove itself a mortal enemy of, not only the nation of Israel, but of God Himself. The physical city of Babylon no longer exists however, the tentacles of its spiritual heritage spread far and wide and, although it morphed as it went, it has dug its claws into the world of men into our present day. The other kingdom began with a single man who, very possibly, lived where ziggurats were erected to these powerful supernatural beings. He was called out of this land to journey some distance away to Canaan, to sow the seeds of God's kingdom, which will eventually destroy the first.
Added March 2015
Section 9B .. The Future
The End Of The Age The catalogue of man's greed, ruthlessness, and inhumanity to his fellow man is one that has no end. Increasingly, modern society, flaunts its sins like Sodom once did but, as the prophet Isaiah said, "Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves" (3:9). There is a day looming on the horizon when mankind's iniquity exhaust the patience of God Himself, at which point in time He will pour out His wrath, or retributive justice, on the earth, punishing transgressors, and ending all the injustice and suffering in this world. God's kingdom will be preceded by a devastating period of time such as man has never before seen, when even the heavens and earth will tremble at His power and fury, the moon will turn to blood, and the sun will no longer gives out its light.
Revelation, the last book of the Bible describes the horrendous conditions of the last days using the metaphorical images of Seals, Trumpets and Bowls, which some say run concurrently, while others are of the opinion that they are different and succeeding series of judgments. While neither point of view is correct, there is little doubt that conditions get progressively worse, and more devastating, as the end times progress. Not only does the imagery and symbolism of Revelation describe the horrendous conditions of the last days, but tells us in what order they will occur.
Added January-February 2015
Section 2... Reasons To Believe/ Biblical Prophecy
The Virgin Shall Conceive Few passages have provoked such controversy as Isaiah 7:14, generally held by Christians to be one of the greatest Messianic prophecies ever. We tend to assume that the Isaiah passage was solely a prediction of the virgin birth of Jesus. This, however, is impossible since it would mean Isaiah's words had no purpose, nor did they make any sense, until Jesus was actually born some seven centuries later. In actuality, Isaiah's words were not directed at Christ, but at Ahaz, king of the southern kingdom of Judah. So, how and why did Matthew read the birth of Christ into Isaiah's prophecy to king Ahaz. Did he, as critics often claim, quote the prophet's words completely out of context?
No More Sea? Many people who understand John's words "there is no longer any sea", in Revelation 21:1, to mean that there will no longer be any oceans in the new earth, are saddened at the thought. Unfortunately, what most seem to have done is pick up on six words in Revelation, assume John is talking about the oceans, and then search their Bibles for any possible reason, regardless of how far fetched, this should happen. (Note: This an addition to the article “What and Where is Heaven?. Also Note that Part IV... A New Heaven and A New Earth has been updated)
End Time Revival Or End Time Apostasy? (Updated and Improved)In this age of great apostasy the one thing the church needs above all else is revival. However while the Bible speaks lot about end-time apostasy ("When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth" Luke 18:8), what does it say, if anything, about end-time revival.
Added September-December 2014
Section 1... Presenting The Evidence (Faith Solidly Grounded In Facts)
Life or Death... The Choice is Yours. The Bible very clearly tells us that we all have a choice to make in this life - the most important choice we will ever make. And, if the Bible is indeed the word of God, the consequences for the individual who chooses to ignore, or counter the evidence with clever arguments, will be fatal. In view of which, if Christianity even has a one in a hundred chance of being true, perhaps we should not be demanding greater evidence, but wake up to the fact that a far more sensible way to look at it is .... the more severe the consequences, the less we should take risks.
What is truly interesting is that most people seem to be prejudiced against the Bible, but well disposed towards other 'scriptures'. This is a rather illogical situation, because there is far more evidence in favor of the Bible being true, than there is for any of the other 'holy books'. This includes scientific, historical and archaeological corroboration and the many fulfilled prophecies.
Also, all too many people, picking out a random phrase or two, think 'love' was Jesus' core message. Unfortunately, they are terribly wrong... the Kingdom of God, a phrase used over 50 times in the four Gospels alone, was at the heart of Jesus' ministry. But here is the interesting part, the Bible's description of this kingdom of God, also called heaven matches the world most men and women would choose to live in, one of peace and safety, where there is no crime, hunger and disease, war and above all... no death. In other words, Christianity, which appears to be outdated, out of touch, and largely irrelevant to modern society, promises exactly the utopian world that mankind can only dream of. Now, you have to decide if you want to be there.
Section 7A .. Defending The Faith
Contending For The Faith We have forgotten that we have a Biblical mandate to earnestly contend for the faith, dispute the validity of other spiritual paths, endeavor to persuade people of the truth of the Scriptures, and demonstrate that the message is reliable. We simply cannot be loyal to the faith we proclaim if we fail to defend our position and hold up the truth against numerous errors. Contending, reasoning, persuading, disputing, proving, debating are, one and all, Scriptural words and concepts. Yet, tragically, we have adopted the world's current disinclination to 'offend' anyone
Added July - August 2014
Section 2 .. Reasons To Believe/God
Has Anyone Ever Seen God? Many seem to believe that, when it comes to whether anyone has ever seen God, the Bible contradicts itself... In more than one place the gospel of John says that, apart from Jesus, no man has ever seen God, while others seem to unambiguously state that, on occasion, people (especially in the Old Testament) saw Him. An oft offered explanation is that these people were having visions or dreams, or what they actually saw was an angel of the Lord, or even Christ. However, none of the examples given say anything about a vision, a dream, or an angel. Much to the contrary, the verses clearly say that the people saw God. In fact, the Lord Himself told Moses that He "appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty", then went on to say that He established His covenant with them, "to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned". (Exodus 6:2-4). An angel is not "God Almighty" and no one but God the Father made a covenant with Abraham. In other words, it was not Jesus whom Abraham saw. The problem actually has a much simpler solution.
Section 8A .. A Question Of Salvation
None That Seeketh? Romans 3:11-18 is often quoted to bolster the claims of universal depravity / that no one ever seeks after God. However, if one examines the source of Paul’s quotes you will see that the Psalms in question did not show that righteous people have never lived but, on the contrary, often spoke of God’s protection and favor towards the virtuous people of the day. The million dollar question as to why Paul presented one side of the coin, and ignored the verses that speak of God's support and favor for those who feared Him, has a very simple answer... He was quoting very specific verses that strongly illustrated the message he was trying to convey.
The Two Phase Atonement The New Testament sometimes says that salvation is an accomplished reality, and at other times says it is still in the future, a seeming contradiction that is not limited to salvation alone, but also occurs with confusing regularity in statements about other topics of crucial importance... justification, redemption, glorification, and adoption... Check it for yourself. So what is the answer? Can we be assured we have salvation now, or is it something we have to strive and hope for. Have we already been adopted as sons, or are we eagerly waiting for this adoption? Are we righteous now, or is it yet a distant hope? For those who are actually interested in what the Bible says on the subject… as opposed to what parents, pastors, friends, or denomination may believe and teach, the answer to all of the above questions is .. BOTH.
Section 8B ... Controversial Issues/ Spiritual Warfare
Generational Curses: (Updated) There are countless numbers of Christians who believe in "generational curses" or curses that run in families. This is usually based on several passages in the Pentateuch that say God shows loving-kindness to thousands, but visits the iniquity of the fathers on subsequent generations. It is often believed that, since these curses are passed down from one generation to the next, whether we realize it or not many of the problems we face, physical ailments we suffer from, and the sins we commit, are due to this inherited spiritual bondage. However, what is particularly alarming is the fact that this doctrine suggests that receiving Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and being filled with the Holy Sprit is not sufficient to free us from these supposed curses, and even "born again" believers may need to be delivered from the sins of their ancestors. As a result, innumerable ministries, dedicated to the cause of helping people break these "curses", have mushroomed in the modern church. But, although there are many verses in the Bible that flatly contradict this rather popular understanding of Exodus 20:5, there remains the niggling fact that certain verses do say that the iniquity of the fathers is visited on the children to the third and the fourth generations. In light of the contradictory passages, how are we to understand these verses? The answer is, obviously, that we are missing something. That "something" is an understanding of the specific Hebrew words used.
Added May 2014
Section 7. Living The Faith... The Biblical Christian/The Christian Woman
Feminism and The Bible The infiltration of radical feminism into the church, loudly and gratingly proclaims the superiority of the feminine and demands a new female-centered theology. Radical feminists, not only reject historic Christian orthodoxy in favor of neo-paganism and goddess worship, but realizing that in order to change a civilization built on the Bible, the very Bible must be changed. Much of the problems stem from the doctrine of male headship… one of the most controversial subjects in the Scripture. Feminists are quite convinced that Headship = domination and Subordination = inferiority and denigration. Unfortunately both feminists and an altogether too large a number of traditional church leaders have myopically focused on what they think is Scripture’s treatment of, and instructions regarding, the sexes, with complete disregard for what the Scriptures actually reveal. What is certain is that the Biblical concept of male headship has all too often been twisted to generate horrible evil.
Added March-April 2014
Section 2 .. Reasons To Believe/God
Is God A Trinity? The doctrine of the trinity is one of mainstream Christianity's most universally accepted and hallowed doctrines held sacrosanct by Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox believers alike. From about the 4th century AD, the standard position of the church is that the trinity is only one God, who exists as three distinct, but equal, Persons. Although most people cannot wrap their heads around, much less explain, the concept of the trinity, the vast majority of Christians believe it to be an unassailable and inviolable doctrine that comes straight from the pages of Scripture itself. But is this true? When non-Christians hold to the beliefs they may have held from their childhood, we urge them to examine the evidence for themselves. Yet Christians rarely seem to take their own advice, seemingly unwilling to even consider that any of the doctrines they have unquestioningly accepted may not conform to what the Bible teaches. Pl note that challenging the doctrine of the Trinity does not mean challenging the Divinity of Christ and it does not mean challenging the Divinity of the Holy Spirit. The New Testament abounds with much proof of the deity of Jesus Christ, and Acts 5:3-4 is more than enough to clinch the issue of the Holy Spirit being God. Although the Bible definitively points to a plurality in the Godhead, there is absolutely no evidence that the Holy Spirit is the 'third person of the trinity'... a co-equal member of the Godhead.
The Anointing (Updated) It would be difficult to find a charismatic/evangelical service/program/tract/book that is not liberally sprinkled with the word 'Anointed’, which has become, arguably, the most overused, misunderstood, misinterpreted term in the Pentecostal and Charismatic arenas. Virtually all references to the anointing place it in the category of a commodity that the minister can bestow on others. However, there is no precise definition as to what this "anointing" is, and no uniformity of belief as to how it can be acquired or imparted. According to many evangelicals anything can be 'anointed', including services, speakers, preachers, music, television programs, prayer cloths, swords, web sites, oil, cornmeal, red thread etc. etc. Since the only true test of the spiritual is to check what the Scriptures have to say on the subject, the smartest thing we can do is to take an in-depth look at what, according to the Scriptures, the words anointing or anointed mean, how they are used in both Old and New Testaments, and who the anointed ones in the Bible were.
Section 9B .. The Future
Two Babylons (Updated) In the book of Revelation, chapters 17 and 18 are not part of the chronological sequence, but are one more break taken in the sequence of events to describe two different aspects of "Babylon", and the resulting judgment. Chapter 17 deals with the spiritual side of Babylon.... a false religious system or "mystery Babylon", while chapter 18 deals with Babylon as a political and commercial system. They are two faces of the same coin... on one side a religious Babylon and, on the other, a political/commercial Babylon, both of which operate independently of, and in opposition to, the true God. Although much prophecy is not completely understood until after it has been fulfilled, considering the fact that the Lord devotes two chapters to these "Babylons" makes it imperative that we ensure we at least grasp the broad outlines of the message that is being given us. In fact, make no mistake... these chapters are a crucial warning dealing, as they do, with specific targets of the wrath of God.
Added January-February 2014
Section 11... Cults/Catholicism
Mary.... Queen of Heaven? Catholics have gone to tremendous lengths to establish Mary as this powerful, compassionate, 'Queen of Heaven', whose role it is to intercede with her Son on our behalf. However, the examples they use to prove the point are either inaccurate or, at best, require a vast stretch of the imagination. In many cases, the Hebrew words used have been badly misinterpreted and/or mistranslated. For example, because the author of Hebrews applies Psalm 45:9 to Christ, Catholics believe that it is Mary who stands at His right hand arrayed in gold. The catch is that the Hebrew word used means a queen from cohabitation. Many others will use the wedding in Cana as an example of how Mary intercedes for people but, is this exactly what happened? And is the point of the story the efficacy of Mary's ‘intercession’? When it came to Mary so many of the early church ‘fathers”, preferring rhetoric to Biblical truths, indulged in some inane flights of fancy. Although elaborate, pretentious ideas trumped accuracy, their empty words have persisted through the generations, shaping modern Catholicism’s Mariology. Why? Simply because tradition always seems to triumph the teachings of Scripture. (See quote by Tertullian in the next article). But here is what I find so tragic. In our myopic effort to enthrone Mary as some kind of perfect queen, and in our equally short-sighted efforts to refute these unscriptural ideas, we have forgotten that Mary and, to a lesser degree, her cousin Elizabeth, are actually outstanding examples of perfect disciples. Examples we would all be well advised to emulate.
Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church
Catholicism and The Councils Regardless of how esteemed we believe early church doctrines to be, the fact remains that, as the apostles began to die out, the church began to stray further and further away from the Gospel established by Christ, which the disciples and apostles fought so hard for. Perhaps, a good starting point to show just how how early, and how far the church had deviated from its roots are the first four of the seven Ecumenical councils, the first two of which are held in great esteem, even by modern day evangelicals. (I specify the first four because they are the only ones I have looked into)
In spite of the torrent of words and the many Scriptural verses quoted, the decisions the various councils came to were based on on the aye's and the nay's. Not only did numerical superiority win the day, but these decisions were based not on what they supposed Holy Scripture might mean, but on tradition. In describing various practices in the church, Tertullian (c. 155/160 - 220 A.D.) said "If no passage of Scripture has prescribed it, assuredly custom, which without doubt flowed from tradition, has confirmed it. For how can anything come into use, if it has not first been handed down?.... If, for these and other such rules, you insist upon having positive Scripture injunction, you will find none. Tradition will be held forth to you as the originator of them, custom as their strengthener, and faith as their observer". But none of this should be surprising. Basing doctrine on tradition, rather than the teachings of Scripture, has always been the practice of the Roman Catholic church
Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/Doctrines of Demons
Slain In The Spirit (Updated) When one carefully examines the texts put forward to make the case that "slain in the spirit" and other related manifestations such as laughter, shaking and other bodily convulsions are phenomena rooted in the Scriptures, it becomes patently obvious that this is not the case. Holy Canon is void of any accounts, testimonies or experiences that even faintly resemble ‘Slain In The Spirit’. Where then does the practice originate? Unfortunately being slain/resting/shaking/being drunk in the spirit etc, along with "holy laughter" are only two more examples of doctrine that has been directly derived from occult sources. It has terrifying parallels with the Hindu practice of “awakening” a person’s Kundalini, a concentrated form of life force, lying dormant in our bodies. The ‘awakening’ of the Kundalini, or expanded states of consciousness, is often brought about by a guru conferring the spiritual "power" or awakening on disciples by means of a touch to the forehead. If that isn’t disturbing enough, Not only are the the requirements for receiving are the same, but the methods of transmissions are the same and the resulting physical manifestations are virtually indistinguishable. How then can these practices be Christian?
Added November-December 2013
Section 9B .. The Future
As It Was In The Days Of Noah (Updated) It is very important that we understand what our Lord meant when he said, "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man," Luke 17:26. (cf. Matthew 24:37). Our Lord linked these two epochs together and said that one is the parallel of the other. If we are living in the days immediately preceding the return of Jesus Christ we shall find similar conditions to the days of Noah, therefore to know what to expect one must focus on the questions.. Who were these sons of God? What kind of beings did these strange things?
The Wrath of God (Updated) The Bible labors the point in both Old and New Testament that God is good to those who trust Him and is terrible to those who do not. Both Testaments emphasize the reality and terror of God’s wrath. Today’s powerless, sickly sweet, sentimental Easy Christianity has chosen to babble on and on about the goodness and love of God, but totally ignore (to our peril) His wrath and judgment.
Added September-October 2013
Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/Shepherds or Wolves
Laurie Beth Jones (Updated) Thousands of Christians from all over the world wax enthusiastic about her books, either oblivious to, or completely unconcerned that, although they claim to be based on Jesus' leadership approach, they are a study in misconceptions, misinterpretation, and sheer baloney. In fact, on page after page, Jones’ books blatantly espouse a mixture of skewed Christianity and New Age spirituality. Bending over backwards to find examples from Jesus' life and teachings that fit the leadership qualities and practices that she wanted to write about, Jones has twisted the Scriptures out of all recognition. Yet, her many books are prime examples of the swill thousands of Christians are swallowing without one ounce of discernment whatsoever. For anyone to take the Scriptures and bastardize them to the extent that this woman has done is sad. For a so called "Christian" to endorse this trivia is very distressing. But to know that hundreds of Christians are fall for the manure being put out by authors who trivialize and exploit mankind's only hope, is a tragedy of epic proportions.
Section 2 .. Reasons To Believe/Biblical Prophecy
Moses Messianic Prophecy Perhaps one of the most fascinating and compelling of the prophecies is when Moses declared that God would raise up another Jewish prophet in the future whose life would closely resemble his own. A close look at the lives of Moses and Jesus of Nazareth reveals numerous parallels, most of which were well beyond the control of any human.
Added July - August 2013
Section 12 ... The New Age
The New Age: An Overview The primary doctrine of the New Age is that man is a spiritual being and God, as an energy force, is inherently within all mankind. In other words.. man and God are one. However, although every individual is part of the divine, man has become so absorbed in the material world that he has forgotten his very innate nature.. his divinity. Therefore, the higher a person's level of consciousness, and the more inner harmony they can achieve, the closer that person is to ‘enlightenment’, or full realization of their own godhood. It is little wonder then, that the basic goal of most New Agers is to raise their level of consciousness by whatever methods appeals to, and works for, them.
This plays right into the hands of a large branch of the New Age movement that believes that the utopian age will only come about under the leadership and guidance of a world leader/teacher. However, he can, or will, only make his appearance when the consciousness (or spirituality) of humanity has been raised to a certain point (See next article). Heralded as the 'salvation of earth' or the 'new earth', this movement has gathered immense size and power along the way, and is poised to come to fruition. It would be unquestioningly ludicrous to suggest that everyone that buys a crystal, reads a book on Feng Shui, or attends a Tai Chi class, endorses or even knows the first thing "world consciousness" or a one-world leader. However, whether we are aware of it or not, all the practices that focus on raising one's spirituality, or cause one to experience a deeper spiritual reality, are each doing their bit towards elevating 'global consciousness', and are contributing to the success of this enormous plan.
While the movement is shepherded by nonbelievers who have no comprehension of the dark forces they deal with, sadly, the body of Christ that should have been a bulwark against evil has, with apostate leaders and a Biblically illiterate population, latched on to the coat tails of the world and adopted practices that are DIRECTLY derived from the Occult, each helping pave the way for the antichrist and his cohorts. The allure of receiving some form of deeper spiritual experience has deceived countless thousands of ‘Christians’ into cooperating with the antichrist. One of these days the doors will be open wide enough for evil to cross the threshold, and the "masters" to walk the earth again... As it was in the days of Noah.
The Global Alliance: (Updated) In recent years there has been an explosion of individuals and organizations (both large and small) who are actively working towards a utopian tomorrow in which we will live in peace and harmony with each other. However, they believe that this ideal age will only come about under the leadership and guidance of a world leader/teacher who will soon will emerge on the world's stage and save the world from sliding into chaos... thus ushering in a “New Age”. With this ultimate goal in mind, an incredibly huge network of groups, trusts, foundations, clubs, religious groups etc. are deeply committed to creating the conditions necessary for what they call ... The Reappearance of The Christ. Except that that this 'Christ' (messiah) has nothing to do with Jesus Christ of the Bible, which leaves us with but one other choice... the anti-christ that the Scriptures warned us about many hundreds of years before these 'peace' organizations were ever dreamed of.
Section 4 .. The Heart Of The Matter/Repentance
Repentance ...The Missing Message (Although almost nothing of the substance has changed, I felt the message was not coming across strongly and clearly enough and have therefore, emphasized the consequences of not repenting. I have also re-arranged, and generally polished up the piece)
Added April - June 2013
Section 9B .. The Future
What And Where is Heaven Christians who believe they will spend an eternity in "heaven", seem to have little or no idea where this heaven is, what it will look like, or what they will do there. Either they have fleeting, half formed ideas about some ethereal place 'out there', or resort to pious phrases that amount to little more than spiritual gobbledy gook. If this is the best we can do then it is little wonder that atheists and non Christians are not in the slightest bit interested in our "heaven". In fact, it is hardly surprising that Christians themselves rarely seem to look forward to eternal life with joyful expectation, and a great deal of impatience. Luckily the Bible isn't at all silent on on where "heaven" is and, even more importantly, what it will be like. In fact, the Bible's description of the coming kingdom is far, far, more practical, and a lot less sanctimonious, than that of our theologians. Besides which, many Christians, unfortunately have the idea that, since all our sins have been forgiven, our works cannot possibly be considered at some future time. Not true according to I Corinthians 3:9-13. Apparently there are those that will make it to heaven, but who will have earned few, if any, additional rewards.
Added February - March 2013
Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/The Church Growth Movement
Seeker Friendly, Church Growth Failures in The Bible Rick Warren says both the Old and New Testaments are filled with many examples of God choosing to reveal himself to man according to our needs and that Jesus Himself won people over by starting with their felt needs. He also says that The New Testament is the greatest church-growth book ever written... that we should apply Jesus’ methodology. So how did Jesus and other Biblical figures do with seeker friendly methods? Actually if one takes the trouble to read the Bible.. they were all total failures according to modern standards.
The Myth Of Faith Alone: (Updated) Perhaps one of the all time greatest delusions in the Christian world, is the innumerable number of people who are under the impression that, in order to be forgiven their sins, and thus inherit eternal life, all they have to do is believe Jesus died for their sins on the cross. In other words, at the very moment the sinner puts his, or her, faith in Jesus Christ and accepts Him as his/her savior, that person has entered into a covenant relationship with God, has received God's forgiveness of sins, and the gift of eternal life. What one never, or very rarely, hears is that anything other than faith is required to be saved. In fact the suggestion that anything other than faith is required for salvation, is not only militantly opposed by most of Christendom, but denounced as an unbiblical, works based, false teaching. But is this true? While it is certainly a fact that the Bible teaches that faith is an essential ingredient, without which it is impossible to please God, it never ever teaches that faith is the only requirement for salvation. In fact the Scriptures point to a number of things by which a person is saved.
Added January 2013
Section 4 .. The Heart Of The Matter/Salvation
Should Christians Fear God? All the problems we face in our society eventually boil down to one problem... As the Bible says “There is no fear of God before their eyes”. All too many (perhaps the vast majority) Christians have a very one dimensional, view of their God, seeing the creator of the universe as a benevolent, all loving, celestial bellhop that seems to exist only to provide us with more "blessings". Today's sickly sweet, sentimental, Christianity has chosen to babble on and on about the goodness and love of God, but totally ignore (to our peril) His wrath and judgment, forgetting that those who are disobedient to Him, are never blessed but, quite to the contrary, are objects of His wrath. A person who professes belief, but does not obey the Lord and turn away from the sins and indulgences of the world, are not led by the Spirit of God, and have every reason to fear Him.
The Christian and Worship Because the primary element of true worship expresses wonder, awe, and humility, at the infinite majesty, grandeur, power, and sheer majesty of the transcendent God, it should be a significant part of every believer's life. However, it is well to be aware that it is entirely possible that you return from church on Sunday morning happy at how much you sang His praises and how good the 'worship' was, yet blissfully unaware that the Lord turned His face away from you and did not accept your worship. Worse, He asked why you dared to tread His courts with your hollow and worthless offerings, and music He did not even want to listen to? Why? Simply because worship is not something we do, such as praying, singing, kneeling, at certain select times, but consists of who we are, and what our attitude is towards God at all times. True worship remains with us all through the day, and colors every aspect of our daily lives. So, what does it take to ensure that our worship is not rejected and the Lord takes pleasure in it?
Added December 2012
Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church
The Church... Then and Now The church has drifted so far from the original blueprint, that there is little resemblance between what takes place now, and what took place when James headed up the church in Jerusalem, and Paul was busy planting churches and training new believers. To start with, most Christians assume "church" means the organization, run by ordained clergy, that conducts religious ceremonies in brick and mortar buildings down the road. In fact, the situation is so bad that should the ranked clergy and all the buildings disappear to morrow, most Christians would bemoan the loss of their "church". But, nothing could be further from the truth. There never was a building especially designed to be a "church", and the entire proceeding were not supposed to be designed and led by the "clergy". The concept of virtually inactive, mute believers would have been totally foreign to the early church, since the New Testament teaches that gathering together with other Christians is to be a participatory and interactive event, where each person uses his God given spiritual gifts for the benefit, or building up, of the congregation as a whole.
Additionally, many of the terms used for the leaders of the are either not found in the New Testament, or the concept behind the titles has changed to a very large degree. For example, "clergy" as a body of ordained religious practitioners did not exist, nor did priests as understand the term. There were no separate Pastors and Bishops in the early church, and a "deacon" was the same as a "minister"... a servant or one who serves, not someone in a fancy hat.
Finally, if you consider that the New Testament Christians meetings were never called a "worship service", simply because they did not gather together for corporate worship (nor to hear a sermon), one is forced to the tragic conclusion that much of the modern church has little or no idea why it exists at all, or what it is meant to do. Much less how the meetings are supposed to be structured and who they are supposed to be led by.
Added October - November 2012
Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/’Christian’ Courses
The Purpose Driven Life Judging by how many copies it sold, The Purpose Driven Life was immensely popular. However, after more than a decade, I presumed that the church must have long moved on to it's next fad, and Purpose Driven everything had faded into the background therefore, needed no time wasted on it. I couldn't have been more wrong. It was recently brought to my attention that, in January 2011, Thomas Nelson announced that Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life held 16th place on their list of the 100 Best-selling Christian Books. Besides which The Purpose Driven Life is being re-purposed for a whole new generation, with a revised and expanded version due out the fall of 2012, based on what Warren says he has learned over the last ten years. Although Rick Warren apparently believes that "The Purpose Driven paradigm is the Intel chip for the 21st-century church and the Windows system of the 21st-century church", it has much going against it. The non believer will be given little or no information as to how he, or she, can be included in the coming kingdom, and will certainly not be told anything about the necessity of repentance from sin and holiness. The reader, both Christian and non-Christian alike, will be introduced to a wide variety of, potentially, very destructive people, ideas, and practices. And since they have been told, in no uncertain terms, that the most important thing is “unity”, they will never hear a word about discerning between true and false teachings, nor how the Bible instructs them to deal with those who practice and teach untruths.
Added September 2012
Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/The Emerging Church
Brian McLaren: What Christianity Has Come To: In all the years I have been doing what I do, I do not believe I have never come across someone who can throw as much of a spin on the Scriptures as Brian McLaren does. In fact had I not known how influential this man is, I would shaken my head at how utterly devious, even stupid, people can be, then dropped the book into the nearest re-cycle bin. But that was not possible.
Brian McLaren comes across softly, using non threatening language, and often gives the reader the impression that the topic in hand is just something that he has thought, or wondered, about. But, that does not prevent the seeds of very deceptive and treacherous, ideas from being sown. He literally denies that God's "will" for the future has already been determined and will not be changed. He denies the second literal coming of Christ, denies that God will judge people based on their faith and what they have done with it, denies that God will establish His own physical, political kingdom on earth. He denies that salvation means being saved from God's wrath, and that "eternal life" means just that. In fact, his entire belief system and body of teachings resonates with the New Age vision of the coming age of peace and prosperity on earth.
This is a long article, divided into several sections, each of which could possibly be read as a stand-alone. However, they are all intrinsically linked. None of them are meant to be light reading, but an in depth comparison of McLaren's primary tenets with what the Bible teaches. In other words, here is what McLaren says, and this is what the Bible says. Since there is absolutely no agreement between them, it is entirely your decision as to which of the two you are going to believe.
Added July 2012
Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church
Why Christians Are Deceived Some of the reasons so many modern day Christians are deceived are 1) They believe they should be "united", and are commanded to "love". 2) They do not want to be labeled "heresy hunters", accused of quenching the spirit, or found guilty of 'touching' the Lord's anointed etc. etc. 3) Too many Christians are Biblically illiterate, their theology confined to catch phrases, and daily devotionals of familiar passages of Scripture, preferably well sprinkled with inspirational stories and jokes. This shallow understanding of their faith causes them to be more conditioned by the culture than by the Bible. 4) All too many seem to be very addicted to ‘spiritual highs’.
Added June 2012
Section 7 ... Living The Faith... The Biblical Christian/ The Christian And Knowledge
Theology and Doctrine: In part, thanks to apostate, so called "Christian" leaders, "theology" and "doctrine" are not only widely misunderstood, but brushed aside by many Christians, who believe that these five dollar words have little relevance to their religious life and practice- best left to those who have spent years poring over dusty tomes and have a string of letters after their names. The fact is that both theology and doctrine are crucial to authentic Christian faith. Perhaps the words "theology" and "doctrine" gets Christians on the defensive, because they have been taught to believe that their faith must be based in the heart, therefore all that is important will be "experienced". Or perhaps they want no challenges to their shallow 'easy Christianity', which requires no intellectual effort and allows people to coast along - never being stretched or using their God given brains.
A Note to Visitors (May 2012) It has come to my attention that people have been asking whether this site is still alive. It is... very much so. However, IPS is, and always has been, the work of just one person... me. Unfortunately, the last four months have been stressful to say the least. Between a divorce (not mine), a heart attack (not mine) and subsequent surgery, negotiating the sale of my home in India, then having to move one elderly person to a house in another city and another to the US. Converting an office into a bedroom (here), building two other web sites, plus two weeks of flu, it has been extremely difficult to focus on writing. But, although the going is slower than usual, I have been back to work since mid-April and should be posting soon. Please check back when you can.
Added December 2011 -January 2012
Section 2 .. Reasons To Believe/A Remarkable Book/Apocrypha, Gnostic Gospels etc.
The Septuagint is often called the LXX for the 72 Jewish scholars who were supposedly commissioned to carry out the task of translating the Hebrew Bible into Koine, or common Greek. The story is based on an ancient document called the Letter of Aristeas, which is riddled with improbabilities and historical errors. After taking all factors into consideration, it seems reasonably clear that the story of the seventy elders is a work of fiction. And if there never were 72 translators commissioned by king Ptolemy, then they did not individually, and miraculously, come up with the same wording, and there is absolutely no grounds on which to base the claim that the Septuagint is an inspired version. It is far more likely that the first five books of Moses were translated into Greek by Hellenistic Jews living in Alexandria, who were losing touch with Hebrew. Other books were added later. This goes a long way in explaining why some of the Old Testament books show obvious signs of incompetent translation.... the translators often showing an "insufficient knowledge of Hebrew, or a failure to grasp the sense of the context".
The Canon of Scripture and The Apocrypha Christianity is on the Scriptures. If we can't identify the content and extent of Scripture, then we can't properly distinguish any theological truth from error. There were literally dozens of spiritual books that were written in the same time period as the books of the Bible, and many people believe that, because they were unfairly prejudiced against the teachings in these books, church councils weeded those ones out, with the result that many books that should have been included in the Bible, were not. The question is then, how the Hebrew canon (The Old Testament) and the Christian canon (The New Testament) were formed. In other words, what the selection process was that gave us our current 66 books of the Bible, and why certain books (called the apocrypha) accepted into the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles, are not included in Protestant Bibles.
Added October/November 2011
Section 2 .. Reasons To Believe/ Jesus
The Deity of Jesus Christ. Was He Lord, Liar Or Lunatic?... When it comes to Christianity, perhaps the most common disagreement is not whether a person called Jesus ever lived, but who exactly He was. Even non-christians who have some knowledge of history, will usually agree that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was a unique personality. However, opinions as to who He was are sharply divided. The answer cannot be filed under 'differences of opinion', and left at that, since the practical implications for every person on this planet is enormous. If Jesus was not who he claimed to be, and was not who the Bible says He is, then we can safely ignore His teachings as the product of the devious mind of an out and out charlatan, or the ranting of one who who was, at best, vastly deluded, or, at worst, simply insane. However, if He really is God, then we need to sit up and pay very close attention to what He had to say.
Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/ Smorgasbord of Fictitious Doctrine
The Deification Of Man The New Age itself is primarily influenced by Eastern religions, paganism, and the occult, with many, if not most, of their beliefs originating with so called 'spirit guides. Yet most Christians are still unaware of the nature, power, and danger posed by New Age ideas, not only in the world around us, but in our churches. Like frogs being slowly brought up to the boil, Christians have gradually been acclimatized into accepting ideas and practices that any self respecting Berean, unimpressed by 'new revelation', would have run a mile from. Although both Old and New Testaments explicitly, and repeatedly, affirm that there is only one God and that there never has been, nor ever will be another god many, so called, "Christian" leaders teach that men are "little gods"... yet another example of how far we have fallen.
Added September 2011
Section 9B .. The Future
What and Where is Hell? Rewritten - See January 2018.
Added August 2011
Section 7... Living The Faith/The Biblical Command to Holiness and Perfection
What is Holiness? ...In the 21st century, the word "Holy" often coveys some very negative connotations. It is often used to describe someone who is self-righteous, smug, sanctimonious, goody-goody, priggish etc. Even to most Christians, the word "holy" implies moral goodness. However, this is only part of the meaning. While holiness certainly implies goodness, the core meaning of holiness, it is not "good" but rather "set apart" and therefore, good. Holiness, or separation from the world and it's standards is NOT a virtue, it is the commandment of God, repeated from one end of the Bible to the other. Anyone who professes Christianity without holiness is as phony as the proverbial three dollar bill.
Added July 2011
Section 10 A ... The Contemporary Church
Fraternizing With The Enemy... Christians are commanded to separate themselves from those who teach, and practice, false doctrine. However, in the spirit of our overly tolerant, anything goes society, we tend to look on confrontation as something to be avoided at all cost. However, the Bible's instructions on how to deal with those who teach and practice false doctrine in the church are very explicit. It is a two step process. The heresy has to be actively confronted and, if not repented of, has to be shunned. Separating oneself from apostasy and heresy is not optional, but commanded. It is an integral part of the holiness without which none of us will see God.
Section 7... Living The Faith/The Biblical Command to Holiness and Perfection
The Myth Of Faith Alone: Perhaps one of the all time greatest delusions in the Christian world, is the innumerable number of people who are under the impression that, in order to be forgiven their sins, and thus inherit eternal life, all they have to do is believe Jesus died for their sins on the cross. If one were to ask the vast majority of Christians what one has to do to be saved, while the terminology may vary, the answers would almost all boil down to all you have to do is believe... all you have to do is have faith. What one never, or very rarely, hears is that anything other than faith is required to be saved. In fact the suggestion that anything other than faith is required for salvation, is not only militantly opposed by most of Christendom, but denounced as an unbiblical, works based, false teaching. But is this true? While it is certainly a fact that the Bible teaches that faith is an essential ingredient, without which it is impossible to please God, it never ever teaches that faith is the only requirement for salvation. In fact the Scriptures point to a number of things by which a person is saved.
Added June 2011
Section 4 ...The Heart of The Matter
Sin: For a huge number of people, the concept of "sin" seems rather quaint... residual traces of the days of simplistic religious beliefs. Many of those that do hold to the concept of a 'higher power', do not believe that there is an absolute moral law. And if there happens to be a God against whom we sin, He is too loving to actually hold our 'mistakes' against us, much less punish us for them. If pressed, possibly the majority of people in the western world would place themselves in the 'not perfect' category, but a far cry from 'sinners', or really bad people,...usually defined as the serial killers, rapists and child molesters of the world. An almost universal 'Santa Claus' mentality holds to the idea of rewards for those who's good deeds outweigh the bad, and punishment for those for whom the opposite is true. The subjects of sin and salvation are the warp and weft of very the fabric the Bible is woven out of yet, even when many Christians think of sin, they simply think of a violation of the Ten Commandments. The problem is that none of these views come anywhere near agreeing with the Biblical definition of sin, judgment, or even heaven and hell. This is simply because few know, or understand how the Bible defines sin
Section 10 A ... The Contemporary Church
The Four Most Dangerous Mistakes Any Christian Can Make (Not necessarily in any particular order) 1) Believe that we, or our pastor/denomination/spiritual leader cannot be fooled, 2) Attribute every personal testimony and “sign” as being of or from God, 3) Take Bible verses out of context and 4) Believe that we are not to judge anything or any one.
Added April-May 2011
Section 10 A ... The Contemporary Church/ Literal Doctrines of Demons
Tongues: Pentecostals, members of the Assemblies of God churches, and some other Charismatics usually place great emphasis on spiritual "gifts and manifestations, claiming that there is a special post-salvation gift/experience called the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" or "Second Blessing", in which the Holy Spirit is poured out on the believer. The initial evidence of this "Second Blessing" is speaking in other tongues. When someone is "overcome by the Spirit" they often begin speaking gibberish, wave their arms, or even fall writhing on the floor. Apparently the speaker is said to be possessed by the Holy Spirit with the person himself having no control over his own tongue, which is is usually taken as absolute proof that one has been baptized in the Spirit, a highly prized spiritual goal. But if, as shown, tongues were a known language in the New Testament and there is absolutely no evidence to show that it was some form of ecstatic speech, and Paul instructed that everything was to be done decently and in order, where does the the unintelligible gibberish, jerking, twitching, falling on the floor etc. all come from? Is it even possible that the devil has substituted the true gift of tongues with a knock-off version? Has the allure of receiving some form of deeper spiritual experience deceived countless millions into accepting this counterfeit?
Slain In The Spirit: When one carefully examines the texts put forward to make the case that "slain in the spirit" and other related manifestations such as laughter, shaking and other bodily convulsions are phenomena rooted in the Scriptures, it becomes patently obvious that this is not the case. Holy Canon is void of any accounts, testimonies or experiences that even faintly resemble ‘Slain In The Spirit’. Where then does the practice originate? Unfortunately being "slain in the spirit" and "holy laughter" are only two more examples of doctrine that has been directly derived from occult sources. It has terrifying parallels with the Hindu practice of “awakening” a person’s Kundalini, a concentrated form of life force, lying dormant in our bodies. The ‘awakening’ of the Kundalini, or expanded states of consciousness, is often brought about by a guru conferring the spiritual "power" or awakening on disciples by means of a touch to the forehead. If that isn’t disturbing enough, Not only are the the requirements for receiving are the same, but the methods of transmissions are the same and the resulting physical manifestations are virtually indistinguishable. How then can these practices be Christian... especially since, when people have fallen in the Biblical accounts, it is the sinners who fell backwards.
Added March 2011
Section 8B ... Controversial Issues
Cessationism: refers to the belief held by many orthodox Christians that the "miraculous" gifts such as tongues, miracles, word of knowledge, healing and prophecy were given as affirmation of God's revelation. However, these gifts were withdrawn once the church was established, either with the completion of the New Testament canon, or the death of John the last apostle. Some of the debate against the gifts continuing into the 21st century seems to have been fueled by an aversion to being associated with the extremist unscriptural beliefs, and often flamboyant claims of many Charismatics and tele-evangelists, who are not only an embarrassment to the church, but have already done untold harm to the people of God. However are we attempting to replace the fluff that all too commonly emanates from modern pulpits with doctrine that, equally, finds no place in the Scriptures? In the final analysis our only criteria for judging whether God wants to bestow certain spiritual gifts on his people today should be the Word of God.
Section 10 A ... The Contemporary Church/ Literal Doctrines of Demons
Lifestyles Of The Tele-Evangelists: Capitalizing on Christianity has proved to be far more lucrative than starting a new religion. (Updated... Now includes some really interesting photographs, and some of the results of the investigation by Senator Grassley.)
Added January-February 2011
Section 10 A ... The Contemporary Church/ Literal Doctrines of Demons/Word of Faith
Does God Want Us To Be Rich? I have heard it said that if the New Age movement is the greatest threat to evangelical Christianity from without, the Word-Faith/Positive Confession movement is its greatest threat from within. This is not entirely accurate. The Word of Faith movement IS the New Age movement... with a few Christian terms and concepts sprinkled in to keep it believable. It is deeply alarming that most Christians seem to be blissfully unaware of the fact that the principles of the Word-Faith movement being trumpeted from pulpits across the land, not only stems from the same occult sources as the spiritual movement known as New Thought, but uses exactly the same terminology and techniques. Are we are to believe that this is from God?
Is Physical Healing Included In The Atonement? If healing is considered to be a present benefit of the atonement, then it logically follows that those that pray for healing but do not receive it cannot be assured of their salvation either. Furthermore if, as is often claimed, the person simply does not have enough faith to be healed or to receive their healing, then how can we assume that they have enough faith to receive salvation, which is a much larger issue by far.
Added November - December 2010
Section 8A .. A Question Of Salvation
Doctrines of Grace or Calvinism If, as claimed, Calvinism is a very "high view" of Scripture, then it is no wonder that God first proclaimed his message of salvation to peasants tending their sheep. Once the ‘highly educated' got a hold of the extremely straightforward and uncomplicated message of salvation, they turned it into highly complex bewildering ideas presented with a deluge of words, intricate arguments and endless repetition. The resulting potpourri of baffling complexities and contradictions bears little resemblance to the original message and certainly finds no basis in the Scriptures. I have often wondered if the angels who delivered the message are even now scratching their heads in perplexity wondering what happened to the 'glad tidings' they were sent to announce.
Added September - October 2010
Section 8A .. A Question Of Salvation
Original Sin Or Epigenetics Since there are innumerable passages of Scripture that clearly and unambiguously tell us that no person can bear the guilt (or innocence) of another, but will answer for their own sins and misdeeds and that our eternal destiny is determined by our conduct, not by inheritance, we can not simply accept that we are sinners because Adam sinned. But, on the other hand, what we can not ignore is that Paul does make a direct connection between the sin of Adam and the fallen condition of the entire race. In Romans 5 Paul seems to be saying that something happened to all humanity because of Adam’s sin. Which begs the question… What exactly was it that Adam passed down to his descendants?
Section 13B... Contemporary Social Issues
The Bible and Premarital Sex Christians are repeatedly called to live their lives in a way that is markedly different from the lives of the people among whom they live, and not to be swayed by the values and perceptions of the world around them. The Bible does not treat sex as the secular world does, but a study of the subject reveals that it, along with marriage, has a deep spiritual significance.
Added July 2010
Section 3a .. Barriers To Faith
Polygamy In The Bible There are a growing number of Christians who believe that Polygamy is an acceptable practice, based on 1) it was practiced by some of the Old Testament patriarchs 2) The Bible does not specifically condemn it, and 3) Because God permits and regulates the practice, He must condone it. However the question that has to concern the New Testament believer is not what Jacob or Elkanah did, but what God’s original design for marriage was.
Added June 2010
Section 3a .. Barriers To Faith
Natural Disasters (Revised) The sheer scale of many natural calamities and the resulting death, destruction and human misery can not only test the faith of even the firmest believer, but cause many others to question God’s goodness or even His very existence. A Christian who believes in an omnipotent and benevolent God is challenged to go beyond a geological/scientific explanation of disastrous events and explain why God allows disasters like Tsunamis to happen. It is doubtful that any answer will be completely emotionally satisfying. Nonetheless there are Biblical answers that not only meet the criteria of reason, but refute most of the banal platitudes peddled by those that apparently speak before they give the matter a modicum of thought.
Joshua's Conquest: Was It Justified? How could a good God commission Israel to destroy women and children in battle? Was it a holy war or genocide? It was the extreme depravity of the people of Canaan, not the goodness of the Israelites that was a factor. However that is not all.. what is often overlooked, but very telling, is that this discrimination against the Canaanites started much much earlier than the time of Joshua. For instance, Abraham made his servant swear that he would not pick a wife for Isaac from among the Canaanites [Genesis 24], and Isaac in turn instructed his son Jacob to not choose a wife from the daughters of Canaan [Genesis 28:1]. Both men very specifically mentioning staying away from the Canaanites. Why? What was so wrong with the Canaanites that no association was to be made with them and they were later to be completely exterminated?
Added March 2010 –May 2010
Section 8A .. A Question Of Salvation
Original Sin... Fact or Fable Many Christians today, including most Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Catholics unblushingly subscribe to the view that the sin of Adam was transferred to all future generations, tainting even the unborn. However, I have to wonder how many of those that profess to believe in Original Sin have given any thought to the fact that sin is not a substance with physical properties that can be transmitted from person to person like a virus. Much to the contrary, sin is a conscious, willful act performed by an individual that transgresses God's law. Think about it - sin can not even exist unless a sinner makes an bad choice and follows through with it. If sin is transferable, there is absolutely no reason why virtue, goodness, and righteousness cannot also be physically transmitted. Besides which, the doctrine of ‘original sin’ makes a hash of the justice of God which is the cornerstone of our faith. Luckily the Bible knows nothing of this absurdity, which came solely from man’s skewed ideas.
A “Deposit” Guaranteeing” Our Inheritance? Sadly, the NIV and several other popular translations have a completely biased Calvinistic bent. This is made clear by their rendering of three verses in which the Hebrew arrhabōn has been translated deposit when it actually means earnest, which is a very different concept. However, what is even worse is that, in some cases, they translated arrhabōn into the English deposit, then added the word guarantee.. Unknowingly, countless people have relied on these translations, believing that Scripture actually speaks of a guarantee when, in fact, it does no such thing. There is a world of difference between ‘guarantee’ and ‘earnest’.
The Assurance of Salvation Any one who reads 1 John 5:13 as a stand-alone, completely misses the whole point that John was trying to make. Reading the entire book of 1 John, or at least the last chapter, will bring a person to a very different conclusion… Assurance of Salvation is very different from Unconditional Eternal Security