When Darkness Reigns

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The preacher in me chafes at taking scriptures out of context to make a point, but sometimes things happen, and they remind me of scriptures that just don’t really seem to have anything to do with them. Well, today that happened, being the day after the annual global nuttery known as “Earth Hour.”

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, they started Earth Hour in 2007. It arose out of globalist hand-wringing over the faux crisis of global warming. As I sat here today, wading through the post-Earth Hour nattering, I hit upon the phrase “hour of darkness”. Maybe to the global warming alarmists and Mother Earth devotees, that phrase means something positive, but to me it intimates something more nefarious.

It is an unfortunate side effect of living in a fallen world that if something is popular (embraced by the world system), then most likely it is also inimical to true Christianity (i.e. fidelity to Jesus Christ as the Son of God). For Earth Hour and global warming to be so widely favored by the world system, it is virtually guaranteed that somewhere in its roots, it is anchored onto something evil.

Because Earth Hour is always on the last Saturday in March, it necessarily falls in proximity to the Passover and Easter observances. I am not going to try to make more of this than is warranted. I have long been skeptical of the environmental movement, first for religious reasons (for its invoking of Gaia and other pagan gods), and later for the socialist tendrils that run through it. My skepticism is amplified by this very proximity, because while I don’t want to make more of this, I also find it hard to accept that things like this are always coincidental.

The prophet Isaiah speaks of a people who resort to necromancers and mediums rather than to God, and of what becomes of them, in the book of Isaiah:

And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward. And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness. Isaiah 8:19-22 (ESV)

I don’t think I have to make a point of demonstrating that America has become a nation of necromancers, mediums, witches, and wizards, or of people who consult them. And it’s not just America: most of the world has gone this way as well. In this, people have rejected God–indeed, they have cursed him and reviled him. Once a people have rejected the Creator, all they have left to turn to is the creation (the earth). Environmentalism has devolved into what can only be characterized as earth worship. The point of “Earth Hour” is to demonstrate “commitment to the planet” and to “change climate change.” The ever-growing willingness to “save the planet” by hobbling people demonstrates the perverse reversal of priorities–further enslave people under increasing financial oppression by driving up energy prices while pursuing this dubious endeavor to save the planet. I’m all for responsible stewardship of resources and for reasonable controls of pollution, but this idiotic carboniphobia and the obsession to curb carbon dioxide production is pointless and ineffectual. What it does is make it more difficult and expensive to improve and maintain the quality of life for people–not just western people, but people everywhere. What you never hear is that the largest component of greenhouse gas in our atmosphere by far isn’t carbon dioxide; it’s water vapor. Good luck reducing that one.

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This illustrates the global environmental agenda’s disdain for humanity–save the planet at the expense of its people. Some of the more radical environmentalists actually regard humans as akin to a disease infecting “mother earth.” This is in stark contrast to the manner in which Christ regards humanity, “in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 KJV).

I mentioned in the previous post the “blood moon tetrad” the midst of which we are in right now. Eight days after an exceedingly rare solar eclipse (visible at the North Pole–the first such eclipse in human history), and immediately prior to the commencement of Holy Week (Palm Sunday–March 29th), we have Earth Hour on March 28th. One week later comes Passover on April 4th (during which there will be another lunar eclipse). It is partially because of these highly unusual signs in the skies, in conjunction with high Jewish holidays and the anniversary of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, that I find this iteration of WWF’s “hour of darkness” so intriguing. For it echoes Jesus’ own words at the time of his arrest:

Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.” (Luke 22:52 NIV)

Coincidence? Probably. Am I making more of this than it is? Probably again. Then again, sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks to us and reveals things in Scripture that we haven’t seen before. So while I still think I’m just connecting dots in the noise, maybe there might be something to it after all.

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Rumors of Wars

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I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.  — Joel 2:30-31 NIV

Anybody who keeps an eye on current events (as any prophecy-minded Christian should) has seen a mind-boggling confluence of weird, unusual, and or scary events transpiring over the course of the past few days.

There has already been much ballyhoo over “blood moons” and “tetrads”, and indeed these aren’t to be dismissed lightly.  Today (March 20, 2015) there will be a total solar eclipse in the northern hemisphere which will be visible at the north pole. Supposedly, this is a rather rare occurrence, and it is the eclipse embedded within the latest “blood moon tetrad.” No sense in reinventing the wheel here, so do an internet search on “blood moons” and “tetrad” and you’ll undoubtedly find plenty on it.

Today also marks the Spring equinox at 5:45pm CDT. This week also saw geomagnetic storms and aurora displays resulting from solar storms. The impending solar eclipse is also during a so-called “super moon” during which a full or new moon is at perigee (closest to earth). Since this is a new moon, it will not be visible, but will cause a total solar eclipse rather than an annular one. Surely, the period around this significant solar eclipse is one in which the skies are alight with strange signs.

Something that went absolutely unnoticed in the media is the fact that for the first time since September 11, 2001, the United States Central Command elevated the nation’s defense condition (DEFCON) to DEFCON 3. It was initially elevated to DEFCON 4 in response to massive drills by the Russian military. DEFCON 3 came about later (on March 16) when apparently Russian aircraft made incursions into US airspace. There were hints of possible hostilities and a US base on alert due to “possible incoming” (attack). For more information, I refer you to DEFCON Warning System’s Twitter feed. Scroll down to March 15, 2015 and read up through March 17, 2015. There you will see that, regardless of the silence in the news, something significant–possibly World War III significant–was unfolding in the Arctic between US and Russian military forces. By God’s grace, it deescalated, but this shows how very much on the brink we live, and how dangerous the times are. The peril didn’t end with the Cold War.

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. — Matthew 24:6-9

 

 

 

 

Doctrines of Devils

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Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.   –1 Timothy 4:1

“It’s sad that people use religion and idolatry of the Bible to demoralize same-gender-loving people.” — Forrest Harris, President of American Baptist College, Nashville, TN

The above quote is from an interview with The Tennessean in which President Harris defends his decision to invite openly lesbian Bishop Yvette Flunder of the United Church of Christ to speak at the college’s Garnett Nabrit Lecture Series March 15-18, 2015.  This decision resulted in opposition and criticism from Baptist pastors, which is understandable from the position of pastors, who are charged with keeping of right doctrine within the church. From the college’s point, the presentation of alternate or opposing points of view is not necessarily a bad thing. If that was the motive of American Baptist College–to expand its students’ worldview to make them better leaders–then that might be okay. I suspect, however, that that was not the motive, but the furtherance of a liberal social and religious agenda incompatible with orthodox Christianity. But I digress.

What kind of stupid, STUPID statement is “idolatry of the Bible”? What does President Harris mean when he says that? Well, Jordan Buie of The Tennessean asked exactly that question of President Harris, to which Harris answered, “When people say (the Bible) is synonymous with God and the truth.”

Oh my. President Harris just went from stupid to blasphemous in one, short sentence fragment. Let’s examine his statement in more detail and in comparison to what the Bible says.

Is the Bible synonymous with God?

Unfortunately for President Harris, it is:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  — John 1:1-4 (AKJV)

This is the hallmark scripture for the doctrine of Jesus Christ as the Living Word of God. It establishes the presence of the Word of God “in the beginning” at creation. Not only at creation, but since “the Word was with God,” it coexisted with God the Father in the eternal past.  The deity of the Word is established with “the Word was God”-– self-explanatory, I should think. If there are any lingering doubts, verse three declares that He (the Word) was the active force of creation.

Is the Bible synonymous with truth?

Not just synonymous–identical.

Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth. — John 17:17

Strike two, President Harris.

But what is idolatry in biblical terms? Simply put, it is the worship of anything other than God Almighty, Creator of the Universe. And in that definition, President Harris may have committed the worst mistake of all. It is impossible to have an idolatrous relationship with the one, true God. Im-possible. The only way a person could commit “idolatry of the Bible” is if the Bible were not God. We have already demonstrated above the mystical truth that Jesus Christ is the Word of God (i.e. the Bible–although explaining it or even understanding it is far beyond human comprehension). Could it be said, that in his statement, President Harris is essentially saying that Jesus Christ is not divine?

It gets worse. 2 Peter 1:20-21Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” The Apostle Peter here clearly states that the Word of God as scripture was laid down by men as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

In Matthew 12:24-32, Jesus delivered a blind and mute man from demon possession, and healed him. The Pharisees said that it was only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that Jesus could do this.  It is because of this grave offense against the Holy Spirit that Jesus speaks of the unforgivable sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, in that by their statement, the Pharisees have attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to the devil. In saying that people are wrong to equate the Holy Spirit-inspired Word of God with truth, could President Harris have said that the Holy Spirit inspired lies? Jesus says this in John 8:44:

You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Only God knows how he regards this utter foolishness from the mouth of the apostate President Forrest Harris. Maybe God does not equate this as blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. I hope not, for President Harris’ sake. Maybe Harris could say in his own defense that he was just speaking off the cuff. It might be a problem, however, that right after his condemnation of the Pharisees for blasphemy, Jesus said “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37

I doubt that uttering his folly in defense of the pet apostasy of the 21st-century church will help his case either. Things aren’t looking too bright for President Harris.

The more I look into the controversies surrounding homosexuality and the church, the more I am convinced that it is merely the symptom of a darker, more insidious problem.

 

Another Look at Homosexuality and the Church

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It is time for some plain discourse on the issue of homosexuality in the church. Gay rights has become the hot topic of the past two decades (at least), and it doesn’t show any sign of going away. Tempers always flare hot on this issue when broached in the context of the church, and the screeching from both sides drowns out any chance for rational discussion. And yet, discussed it must be.

First, there is no place for politics in this discussion, for it is purely about the church’s response to homosexuality and homosexuals. So for now, things like wedding cakes and legislation are outside the scope of this discussion.

So where to start? Where all discussions on church matters should begin–with relevant bible scriptures. There are several references to homosexuality in the bible, but for now we will start with this one:

Romans 1:18-32

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Something one should immediately notice in this passage is that there is a lot going on besides homosexuality. In fact, the topic is mankind’s failure to acknowledge God (vv.18-21). This leads to foolish arrogance (v. 22), which is followed by idolatry (v. 23). From this point, God “gives them over” to their own lusts, and the original Greek indicates a very personal handing over of people to their lusts. It isn’t just God throwing up his hands and leaving them to it; the image it conjures up is like somebody handing a puppy over to somebody else. It’s a delivery into the hands of someone (or something) who now has control and ownership of the person, other than God. They are now in the hands of their own lusts, and descend into sexual immorality (a very broad term, covering a lot of different things). And so begins the downward spiral: idolatry begets slavery to lusts, which yields apostasy (false doctrine, or lies about God instead of the truth) which then begets idolatry (v. 25). What a mess.

Verse 26, “Because of this,” (v.25, the lies about God and the resultant idolatry) God again gives them up to their own “shameful lusts” (again, a pretty broad term). Here, homosexuality is finally mentioned, only after this long downward spiral of all kinds of sin. But homosexuality isn’t trivialized; it is highlighted as a special product of this sinful descent where even women and men lust after their own gender. Nor is homosexuality the point, for the apostle continues on with a litany of various sins that come as a result of not “retaining the knowledge of God,” and a third reference to God handing them over, this time to their own, depraved minds. The list of sinful behaviors seems strange at first, as it includes such seemingly minor trespasses as gossip and boasting, and major trespasses, such as murder, but all who do them “deserve death.” Wow.

Pardon the sermon, but there is a point to it. The above passage is a favorite one used when preaching against homosexuality. More often than not, I hear only verses 26 and 27 quoted, stripped of the other thirteen verses and their context.

There are two equally erroneous ways to regard homosexuality as a Christian. One is to treat it as if it is not a sin at all, or as just some minor infraction which God will tolerate. That is not the case, as the above passage clearly indicates, as well as other verses, such as 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:9-11. The other erroneous approach to homosexuality is to regard it as if it were some especially heinous sin that is somehow more sinful than regular sin. The first error is the favorite of the world and of apostates. The second is the favorite of the self-righteous and hypocritical church.

Let me assure you: any sin will separate you from God forever. All this ranting and railing about homosexuality alienates people because it makes the Gospel seem harsh and unapproachable. It also produces an unintentional side effect in which certain sins seem less serious because this one is so sinful. There is no biblical justification for treating sin like it is on an HMO formulary, with Tier-1 sins, Tier-2 sins, etc. That is why in the passage above, murder is listed with bragging and disobeying one’s parents–because all sin is worthy of death.

For the wages of sin is death,” Romans 6:23

As far as this issue of homosexuals being priests or pastors of churches, quite frankly, this should not be. No homosexual should be in a position of leadership in the church. Nor should any adulterer, or fornicator, or liar, or thief, or murderer, or braggart, or gossiper, or slanderer. The issue isn’t which sinful behaviors a bishop or pastor should not engage in; it is that he should not be engaged in any sinful behaviors. The ministry of a pastor or bishop is a solemn one, and anyone who presumes to be one had better hold themselves to a higher standard. Everybody falls short from time to time, but no pastor or bishop (or any Christian for that matter) should be living in an active state of willful sin. To do so indicates an insincerity in their Christian walk, making any church leader in such a state a false shepherd–a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Members of the Church, get over the fact that the world hates you; you were warned (John 15:18-19). Get over the fact that the world is filled with sin; it will only get worse. Sin is often brazen, shameless, hostile, and in-your-face. You may politically oppose the gay rights movement and it goals, but it is unbiblical to portray some sins as worse than others, when all of them end in death. There is one unforgivable sin, and homosexuality ain’t it (Matthew 12:31-32).

If you claim to be a Christian and you are a homosexual, then you are living a lifestyle inconsistent with your Christianity, just as a serial adulterer or a thief is inconsistent with Christianity. If that offends you, I’m sorry, but it’s the truth. Like every other Christian, you must make the choice between following your own sinful drives to their ultimate conclusion, or following Christ’s higher calling to righteousness. Get over yourself and the polluted thinking with which the world corrupted your mind. You are not a special class of citizen, or living an alternate lifestyle, anymore than an adulterer is. The world is enabling you in your sin, excusing you rather than warning you, so that in the end you will be destroyed.

For homosexuals who do not profess to be Christians, I say this: disregard the hostility to which some supposed Christians subject you. Your sin (sorry, that’s what it is) is no worse than any other sin, but it will kill you just as spiritually dead. I’m not here to judge you, and nobody else has that privilege, but God himself. He will judge us all someday, and all who have not accepted the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ will perish eternally, whether they be murderers, gossipers, adulterers, or homosexuals.