Archive for the ‘Right Division’ Category

Is the Great Tribulation Upon Us?

July 13, 2014

There’s an ancient Chinese curse that goes something like this: “May you live in interesting times”.

It seems like, we are living in “interesting” times, indeed.

There’s more than just a few people out there resurrecting the ghost of the post-tribulational rapture theory. This is more in response to current events than it is to biblical eschatology. As Dispensationalists, we must judge everything by the Word of God, rightly divided.

The Tribulation is described in the Word as something “such as has not happened from the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (Matt. 24:21). Again: “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the sons of thy People [Israel]: and there shall be the great Tribulation, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time…” (Dan. 12:1). It is also referred to as: “… the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” (Jer. 30:27). All of these references come contextually from Scripture that concerns itself with Israel, not the Body of Christ.

The Great Tribulation is declared to be the Wrath of God: “And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.” (Rev. 15:1), yet since the Body of Christ is delivered from that wrath: “Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Rom. 5:9), why is it that so many professors insist upon dragging The Body into that wrath through the post-tribulation rapture theory?

WARNING!

Warning

Dangerous Truth Ahead.

Mankind is made up of Biblically-defined sinful creatures. There’s no denying it. The proof is in the pudding: everyone still dies and death, Biblically, is the wages of sin.

Sin corrupts everything it touches. It takes our very best intentions and turns them into filthy, stinking lies. ” Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Psalm 53:3).

“Every one of them …”. We are “them”. All of us. The Christian, a truly converted member of the Body is still one of “them”; with this single distinction, we have been declared righteous by virtue of the faith of Jesus Christ. And we are mostly alone because we have chosen to leave the “great house”, (II Tim. 2:20) and it’s “form of godliness” behind. We are persecuted by the religious system we have turned away from. They see us as weak and needy. Objects of ridicule and scorn. “All the brethren of a needy one do hate him: How much more do his friends withdraw from him? He seeketh words of friendship, But there are none.” (Prov. 19:7) Still, we have this comfort: “Yea, and all that desire to live godly in Christ Jesus shall be persecuted.” (II Tim. 3:12). Yes, that’s a comfort because it’s a conformation. We are comforted because we hold to the Head (Col. 2:19) and live in Christ.

So what does that have to do with the question of the Great Tribulation? Much, indeed. For, it separates us from those professors who are more concerned with this world and the things of this world than they are with God and the things of God. Matthew 24 was not addressed to the Body of Christ. It is addressed to the House of Israel, through the Twelve. It pertains to the coming earthly Kingdom which will be established as fulfillment of the promises made to Israel. All those things happen after the Body of Christ has been manifested with Christ in glory (Col. 3:4). We see events today which are pointing towards the Second Coming and the establishment of that Kingdom but, for us, the Body of Christ, we should continuing to “… press toward the mark unto the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil.3:14). There’s no shout. No voice of an archangel. No trumpet peal here, as in 1Thess._4:16 (which was an event for Israel, had they repented). In this event, Christ Himself is manifested, silently and invisibly. He receives those running the race. That’s “the Rapture” for the members of the Body of Christ. It’s a resurrection from out from the dead. The Greek is: anastasis nekron, the “out-resurrection”. It’s as though the Body has been surrounded by the dead since it’s inception. This event removes it from the dead which has encompassed it for so long.

Let us join with the Apostle Paul in leaving the “great house” of man-made religion, religious tradition and imagination behind, forgetting it all, and pressing on to the mark.

“Let us therefore, as many as be mature, have this in mind: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal also this unto you. Nevertheless, to which point we have already come, let us walk by the same, let us mind the same thing. Brethren, become fellow-imitators of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for a pattern. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly [own self], and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our citizenship exists even now in the heavens; from which we eagerly wait for the Saviour also, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change the fashion of our body of humiliation, to be conformed unto the body of His glory, according to the working of His ability even to subject all things unto Himself. ” (Phil. 3:15-21).

Remember: “If ye then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Mind things above, not on things on the earth. For ye died, and your life has been laid up in store with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also be manifested with Him in glory.” (Col. 3:1-4).

Even so, come Lord Jesus. I can hardly wait! How about you?

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The Worship God Will Receive

July 6, 2012

After sitting through another "service" at the local Grange, AKA a church, I was reminded of one of the reasons I don’t care to do that anymore. Excessive decibels. My Tinnitus, you see is terribly aggravated by excessive racket.

Then I read the following from Bullinger’s "Great Cloud of Witnesses in Hebrews Eleven":

The Two Ways of Worship

The Faith of Abel shows that, beside the Two Ways of Access to God, there are Two Ways in the Worship of God.

Both are "by Faith;" In both, we see that faith cometh by hearing, and the hearing cometh from what God hath spoken.

As there are only Two Ways of Access, one the true way, and the other the false way, with many varieties, so there are only Two Ways of Worship; and the False way with as many varieties and differences, each claiming to be the right way.

It is as important for us therefore to learn the true Way of Worship, taught us by this aspect of Abel’s Faith, as it was to learn the lesson of the True Way of Access; especially in the present day when Ritual occupies such a large place in public opinion, and in the conflicts and controversies which rage between the opposing Religions, and clamoring Sects.

In both cases, believing, or not believing what God has spoken lies at the foundation of all.

As to the only way of Access, and the only offering that was to be brought, the command of God must have been the same for Abel and Cain then, as it was for Israel afterward when the law was put into writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and the pen of Moses.

The Book of Leviticus (which is the book of worship) opens with the words, which give it its name in the Hebrew Canon.

"And Jehovah Called

and spake unto Moses out of the Tabernacle of the Congregation saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, IF ANY MAN of you bring an OFFERING UNTO JEHOVAH ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd and of the flock."

Observe, that the command was not that they should bring an offering, but that, if any man brought one, the command was as to what he should bring.

This agrees with, and explains Jer 7:22-24 :

"I spake not unto your fathers nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices;

"But this thing commanded I them, saying

Obey my Voice

and I will be your God, and ye shall be my People; and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But

"They Hearkened Not

nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward."

This is precisely what took place at the gates of Eden. There the Lord God spoke. Cain and Abel heard. Abel believed what he heard. Cain (like Israel afterward) hearkened not nor inclined his ear, but walked in the counsel and imagination of his own evil heart.

This is the essence of the whole matter.

God spoke. He spoke to Israel "out of the Tabernacle," to all who would approach Him there; and laid down, as He had a right to do, how he would be worshipped.

It is the same principle which prevails today.

Man himself acts on this principle. If any seek him, it is he who appoints the time and place and determines as to when and where he will be seen.

So, God laid it down from the first that, if any man would bring an offering to Him, it must be such and such an one, and it must be offered in such and such a way.

"And he (the offerer) shall put his hand upon the burnt offering: and IT SHALL BE ACCEPTED FOR HIM to make atonement for him" (Lev 1:4).

But Cain hearkened not to the voice of God; and, instead of bringing what God had appointed, he brought an offering out of "the counsel and imagination" of his own evil heart (Jer 7:24).

And, not only so. Not only was it something, other than what God had approved, but it was the product of that which God had laid under a curse: "cursed be the ground for thy sake" (Gen 3:17).

So that there was a double affront in Cain’s offering: and being not "of faith," it was "sin" (Rom 14:23).

Hence, it standeth written:

"Jehovah had respect

Unto Abel and his offering;

But unto Cain and his offering

He had not respect."

And to day, the Question comes to us:—

To what will Jehovah have respect?

What offering will He accept?

Not the blood of bulls and goats; for all these types have been fulfilled in the antitype. Now, Christ’s blood is that which speaketh better things than that of Abel; no one can be accepted but through its merits.

And as to worship: What is it that Jehovah now accepts? What voice do we hear coming from Him who tabernacled among men? What does the voice say which we are to obey? What are the words to which we are to hearken?

They come from the true Tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man. And God, who in times past spake unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by HIS SON: and the Son hath said:

‘God is spirit

 and they that worship Him

MUST

worship Him in spirit

and in truth.’

These are the words to which we are to hearken, as written down for us from the lips of the Son, in the Scriptures of Truth.

We have no liberty; no choice in this matter. It is useless to follow the counsels and imaginations of our own hearts. That one short word

"MUST"

settles every thing.

It tells us that God will not "have respect" to anything but what is spiritual in our worship of Himself.

The SON, who hath spoken from heaven has declared that "the flesh profiteth nothing" (Joh 6:63).

It is useless therefore for us to bring unto the Lord anything that is of the flesh; or anything that the flesh can do.

It must all be ‘spirit’!

The flesh is under the curse. "The mind of the flesh is death" (Rom 8:6).

To bring anything, therefore, of the flesh, or that the flesh can do, is to be exactly like Cain, when he brought the fruit of the ground, of which God had said: "cursed be the ground."

All the senses are of the flesh.

The mind of the flesh is sensual.

"The works of the flesh" are the opposite of "the fruit of the Spirit" (Gal 5:19-25).

"They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh, with its affections and desires."

Acceptable worship therefore, MUST be the "fruit of the Spirit" and not "the fruit of the ground": or in other words, not the works of that flesh, which is under the curse.

We cannot worship God, Who is spirit, with our eyes, by gazing on a sacrament or anything else.

We cannot worship God, Who is spirit, with our ears, by listening to music, however beautiful it may be, or whether "rendered" by ourselves or others.

We cannot worship God, Who is spirit, with our noses, by smelling incense, or anything else.

We cannot worship God, Who is spirit, with our throats by singing Hymns or Anthems, Solos, Quartets, or Choruses.

The only singing that goes beyond the ceiling or roof and enters heaven "MUST" be of the spirit, and from the heart.

The command is "singing and making melody

IN YOUR HEART

to the Lord."

Singing, not to one another, not to an audience, not to a congregation, but

"To the Lord."

What is needed in true worship is not "an ear for music," but a heart for music.

If we are "filled BY the Spirit," our singing will be of the Spirit, from the heart. For "that which is born (or produced) by the Spirit, is spirit." (Joh 3:6).

We shall say with Mary,

"My SOUL doth magnify the Lord

My SPIRIT hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."

Nothing short of this is the worship to which God will have respect.

All else is waste of time, waste of trouble, waste of money, waste of strength, waste of breath; and,

"It Profiteth Nothing."

It is useless for any one to say ‘I like such and such a service.’ ‘I like to hear, or to do, this or that.’ ‘It creates such nice feelings in me.’ Or, ‘I dislike this or that in Divine Service.’

It matters nothing whatever what any one may like or dislike, think, or feel. It is not a question of what I may like or dislike: The question is

WHAT does GOD LIKE?

What does God require?

To what will God "HAVE RESPECT"?

Divine Service is supposed to be, on the face of it, service or worship rendered to God.

It is for Him to say therefore what He desires.

Public Worship is not a Service offered to or for the public, but by the public, for or to God.

It does not matter, therefore, how beautifully a Solo, or an Anthem or a Hymn may be "rendered" (that is the correct expression); but it does matter whether God will "have respect", to it.

It does not matter how beautiful the voice may be to which we hearken, but it does matter whether we hearken to God’s voice, and whether we obey HIS voice.

The SON of God hath spoken (Joh 4:24). We have heard His words.

The one question is: Do we believe Him? Do we remember that "whatsoever is not of faith, is sin" (Rom 14:23).

Will We Obey?

Will we worship "by faith," as Abel did? or will we worship by works as Cain did?

Do we desire to obtain God’s approval with Abel? or, do we desire to hear God’s words to Cain "cursed art thou from the earth" (Gen 4:11).

When Cain saw that God "had not respect" to his offering, he was "very wroth." And there will be many who read these words, who will be also "very wroth"; and wroth with us for writing them.

For this cuts at the root all man’s accepted traditions, his cherished practices, and his boasted capabilities.

It cuts off from him the praise and applause of man. It writes folly on his vain counsels and imaginations. It makes an end of his attainments and ambitions.

He may, and doubtless will, go on in "the way of Cain," just the same. But it all counts for nothing. ‘It profiteth nothing’ It is ‘labour in vain.’

God has no respect to it.

It would be folly for us to dwell on the faith of Abel, without seeking to learn this great lesson which is thus "written for our learning" and stands on the very forefront of God’s revelation, in Gen 4:1-26.

If we learn not the "obedience of faith" in this matter, it is vain for us to go further with our studies of this subject of Faith. For it all turns on this:

Do We Believe God?

He hath "in these last days spoken unto us by His Son."

His Son hath said: "They that worship Him MUST worship Him truly in spirit."

Do we believe what He has said?

This is the one final question, the true answer to which does away with all that passes as "current money with the Ishmaelite merchantmen," who make a gain out of so-called, "public worship," today, just as the Ephesian silversmiths made theirs out of the shrines of their goddess Diana.

It puts an end to all the tricks and contrivances of the Christian "Religion," all the new fashions, and modern methods, bands and songs and solos, and orchestral services, cantatas, which are all to do with the "Flesh," and are all for the praise and glory of the choir; and no longer, as the simple worship of our fathers was—"to the praise and glory of God."

This is the lesson of Abel’s faith, as it touches on the one and only true way in the worship of God.

From: Great Cloud of Witnesses in Hebrews Eleven, E.W. Bullinger, pp 42-49.

Every time I read that section, I think Bullinger is writing about a contemporary issue. That tells me that it’s a serious problem, to have lasted so long, and it won’t be solved by ignoring it.

I make no secret that I loath Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). Superficial, repetitive lyrics (close to an Hindu mantra in many cases), loaded with ambiguous adjectives, absent of biblical doctrine, tunes pirated from the world, performed by hacks with little to no talent. Besides, anybody can discover with just a minimal amount of study that worship is much more than croaking out a bad song (or a good song, rendered perfectly, for that matter). Yeah, I’m mean. So what. Get over it.

Here’s the rub. What they do is carnal and worldly and so is my own reaction to it. Hey, I call them as I see them, even if I end-up condemning myself from time to time. That’s okay because TRUTH is the issue at hand. That’s what matters.

So, I have to ask myself some of the above questions, too.

Do I believe God?

Will I obey God?

Of course do and I will, but I can only do it to the best of my ability and understanding, and as God himself gives me the desire and the empowerment (Phil.2:13). So, when the Lord Jesus said "God is spirit  and they that worship Him MUST worship Him in spirit and in truth", I have to seriously consider the differences between the world, the flesh, and spirit and truth. How can I isolate and dispense with my worldly reaction to bad music? How can I eliminate my fondness for good music, skillfully performed, and still have anything left to give? Pragmatic as it sounds, there is a way that seems to work, for me at least.

My solution, which developed out of this conflict, was to adopt the practice of avoiding any sort of public worship activity, like corporate singing or playing any of the vast array of instruments I have skill with.

That means that I spend much of my time alone. My Christian walk, like Enoch’s and Caleb’s and Joshua’s, is a lonely walk, so far as man is concerned; but it is "with Him" here, and soon "with Him" there; and, meanwhile, my spirit’s abounding in joy, even now, in the midst of all the confusion and corruption this world has to throw at me. I know of many who frequent the Grange, who are most miserable, in spite of their abundance of fellowship and activity.

So, when I am alone, when there is no one to hear, save for the Lord and me, then I engage in musical worship. There is no one else to hear and no one for me to be critical of. That way, I am able to satisfy my desire to offer musical worship to the Lord that is motivated by my spirit, not by a desire to perform well for others. I select the piece, based upon the situation the original author was in, what was happening during that period in history, and how that represents what my spirit desires to offer to the Lord. I also control how it will be played, what instrument will be used and how it will be sung. Trusting that it is God who motivates me, I believe this removes as much of the "strange fire" as possible, from my musical worship.

Now, remember I said earlier there’s more to worship than meets the eye. Look at our English word: worship.

Wor – worth, worthy, etc.

ship – send, transport, etc.

Worship then is sending something of worth to the Lord, remembering that he has established the criteria for what is worthy and how it is to be sent. Spirit and truth. Is that what motivates? Studying to show yourself [to God, not men] approved [by God, not men], rightly dividing the word of truth. Is that worship? Facing down and judging my favorite traditions with the Word. Is that worship? Using the Word to demolish the strongholds of imagination and ferreting out the lies in my mind that make believing pagan ideas appealing. Is that worship? I think so. Joining Martin Luther in his response to the Inquisition at the Diet of Worms: "Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen." Is that worship? Yes, I do think it is.

Worship then is everything we do for the Lord [Faith – Rom.14:23], which comes as the result of being motivated and empowered by God [spirit – Phil.2:13] to accomplish his will [Truth].

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May 21, 2011

July 31, 2010

Well, here we go again. It seems like it takes nearly a year for something to pop up that really attracts my attention and this time it’s another of those “TEOTWAWKI” (The End Of The World As We Know It) announcements. This isn’t your average Mayan calendar-based prediction though. This is the Rapture. It’s September, 1988 all over again. Same scenario. Similar error. Smaller booklet. Just different players this time.

I’ve tagged this under “Right Division” because, even though it’s something happening now, if people rightly divided the Word, things like this wouldn’t get any traction whatsoever.

Anyhow, I came across this wondrous announcement thanks to Twitter and the folks at SermonAudio.com who, although they are Calvinists, stick closer to the Word than most any of the organized belief systems out there.

It seems that Harold Camping is at it again, with a web site called: “WeCanKnow.com”.

You can visit that site and read/download a little PDF brochure entitled “No Man Knows The Day Or The Hour”. As usual, we’re in the Great Tribulation, which, according to the pamphlet, began May 21st, 1988 and will last a total of 23-years. The pamphlet contains the usual alphabet soup of out-of-context Scripture verses, a hodgepodge of dates, Scripture citations and, sloppy arithmetic, all cleverly arranged with bold type and subject headings in such a way as to make one think they are reading what God actually said. The web site isn’t much better.

Well, you can go read it yourself, if you’re so inclined. My point is that, while God can do whatever He desires to do, whenever He desires to do it, I’m feeling pretty safe in declaring, here at this time and on this spot, that the Rapture will not take place on May 21, 2011; the Great Tribulation did not begin on May 21, 1988; and, God is not going to destroy this world on October 21, 2011. Furthermore, Harold Camping is a false prophet who will be judged and found wanting for making such outrageous statements.

How can I be so sure?

Because, God is not neurotic. When you read all the cited verses in context, not only do you find that the past and the future have been pureed in some great, spiritual Vita-Mix, the addresses have been changed, and you don’t get the same message when those verses are read in context. That is not at all unusual in this sort of thing.

God knew what He intended to say in His Word, and He knew which WORDS to use to get the message across, in spite of the corruption of languages over time and translation errors. He also addressed those words to specific people living in specific times. Those words had to made sense to those who received them, before they will even begin to make sense to us. That is, of course, assuming that we chose to HEAR (by reading) what God has said. Sadly, most seem to prefer to have their ears tickled by the Traditions of Men and the doctrines of demons than to receive God’s blessing of a sound mind through making His Word the central part of their innermost being.

Now Brothers and Sisters; What does God say about the Rapture and the Second Coming? More specifically, what does he say of these matters to the Church?

First, Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Second, Phil. 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

We thank God for preserving His Word in the original languages because, through the study of them, we know that Phil. 3:14 is better rendered: I press toward the mark for the prize of the calling on high by God in Christ Jesus. Being “called on high” , the original indicates an upward motion takes place. That is the Rapture message which is addressed to the Church.

Only that verse? Yup. Do I need any more? Since I’m not making a theological suit of doctrine out of dissimilar Scripture clippings, I’ll stick with clarity and simplicity, thank-you.

Read all of Colossians and Philippians for instruction in where to maintain our spiritual focus and to whom we should be listening. That’s why Paul was inspired to write those letters. They are for us. To help and encourage us. Our job is to glorify God through our lives and to relay the Gospel concerning salvation through the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is not to develop clever religious schemes seeking thereby to entice people through FUD, (fear, uncertainty and doubt), to throw money our way, so we don’t have to get a real job. People who do such things are not to be taken seriously. Listen to God!

David wrote in Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” If we do not remove the cover from the lamp of God’s Word and read it believing that we are reading His Words, how can it light our way and give us direction?

Church traditionalists dislike me because of some of my beliefs. Those beliefs however, only rub against their traditions, not God’s Word. Unfortunately, date-setting is all too common, even among those same traditionalists because they have never really heard from God. Oh they talk about God. They listen to sensual music that proclaims God is my girl/boy friend. They watch entertaining plays about God. They listen to “messages” about God, but they don’t ever take the time to actually remove the cover from the Lamp and let God speak to them, in His own words.

Don’t be fooled by the likes of Harold Camping. Go to the Source: Go to God.

I’m adding this little bit because I don’t want people to get the idea that I do not think the Rapture will soon happen. To the contrary, I do expect it to happen soon. I am looking forward to it and. in fact, I’m with Paul when he wrote: 2 Timothy 4:8 “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

When I was younger, I was guilty of a subtle belief that just believing something hard enough was sufficient to make it true. Furthermore, I believed that the more people who believed the thing, the better the chance of it happening would be.

That spiritually immature, pagan way of belief has infected most of Christendom since the last Apostle died. Today we recognize it as an element from Hinduism called Maya, where reality is shaped by strong belief. That path is a dead-end.

When I look around me at the world today, I see our blessed Republic being systematically dismantled by a man who pretends to be a Christian, that one is tempted to call The Antichrist (or at least, an antichrist). I see the natural world groaning more and more every year. I see, not only nations at war with nations, but individuals engaged in similar warfare. Natural and man-made disasters have become commonplace and the knowledge of God is drifting further and further away from the average man; Only to be replaced by traditions of men, doctrines of demons, lying political and technical solutions, and sciencism, just to name a few.

So yes, I am looking forward to the Rapture, but if it’s not something I’m going to see, the last thing I’m going to do is make-up some religious coat-of-many-dogmas to deceive and bilk people out of their money. My eyes are fixed on the place where my seat of government already exists, and I’m waiting for that calling from on high. That’s the main reason I don’t blog a lot. Heaven doesn’t have bloggers.