Monday, November 30, 2015

Apostasy II : History of the Apostasy of the Church

The history of Christianity is a study of the battles of one apostate teaching after another. It is no doubt that the Holy Spirit had moved in the early church to superintend the Scripture and freeze what is now the closed cannon of the Bible. The purpose of a single source of recorded sacred Scripture is to have a source that is the standard by which all teaching is measured – We go to the source, our Bible.

Our Bible is unique among the religions of the world. No other sacred writings claim to be the Word of God and provides prophecy for its validation. Buddhism (563-483 B.C.) does not claim to be the word of God, but rather a collection of writings that guide one’s life – the Panna (Wisdom - right thinking), the Sila (Ethical conduct – right speech), and the Samadhi (Mental Discipline – right effort). Hinduism’s (c.1500 B.C.) written tradition ranges from 800 to 300 B.C. and is defined by the Upanishads, the Vedas, and the Bhagavad Gita. The Hindu writings are said to be revealed through multiple deities. These deities grew over the years from 3 (the Trimurti ”three manifestations”) to over 330 million (a curious example of the development of world thought through the period) . Even Islam’s holy book, the Qur’an (“recitations,” A.D. 610-630) is said to be the only uncorrupted source of revelation from God revealed to Muhammad, but it was not by God directly, but rather through the angel Gabriel.

The battle for the mind starts with the source - the authority. The Bible is our source of truth that is to be used to test what people say. The first attack on truth is to attack the word of God. The story of the fall is the first example of denying the word of God as Satan did:

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said,`You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?"  2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;  3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said,`You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'"  4 Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.”  (Gen 3:1-4)
This deception continues throughout world history as the “father of lies,” the devil (Gr. diabolos, “false accuser”), continues to promote his adversarial (Hebrew Satan, “adversary”) relationship with God and the things of God.

In the New Testament an immediate attack upon the word of God occurs before the text is even closed.  Jesus Christ, the Word, is denied His rightful eternal Sonship in His incarnation. The clear statement of fact – “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), was denied by some teachers in Ephesus (1 John 4:1-3). Indeed, Greek philosophy had crept into the church and their world view defined the physical bad, the spiritual good, therefore, Christ could not have had a physical body. The truth of the Son that is given for the sins of the world is denied. The result is His atoning death was not enough, His gift not sufficient!    

Salvation was also a major doctrine under attack before the New Testament was closed. Jesus clearly taught that no one could enter the kingdom of God by one’s own self-righteousness as He proclaimed:

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:  13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
Jesus clearly states salvation from the penalty of sin is by belief, whereas unbelief is the condition of condemnation:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  17 "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  19 "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:16-19)

Yet even as Jesus clarified the source of one’s belief is by God alone and not a work of man (John 6:29), man demands to contribute to the completed work of Christ on the cross – man tends to be independent, self-centered, self-seeking, self-glorying, and self-righteous. The early church immediately tried to add onto the grace of the gospel of Christ by adding something man must do to be saved. For example, some demanded that non-Jews must be circumcised (Acts 15:1-11). To this, Paul responds with an anathema:

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different  (Gr. hereros, “another - of a different kind”) gospel,  7 which is not another (Gr. allos, “another - of the same kind”); but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert (Gr. metastrepho, “to turn around,” i.e. “twist”) the gospel of Christ.  8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed (Gr. anathema, “accursed”).  9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:6-9)

So great is man’s desire to contribute in some way to earn one’s own salvation that the apostle Paul tells the church in Ephesus: 

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Eph 2:8-9) 

These statements are so clear that it takes slight of hand, a re-definition of terms, and a conscience desire to pervert the plan sense of Scripture in order to turn the truth of God into a lie. It is because of this great spiritual battle, both with the father of lies, the devil, and man’s self-seeking nature that we are to guard the truth, love it (Zech 8:19), walk in truth (Ps. 26:3), live truth (John 3:21; 1 John 1:6), obey truth (Gal. 5:7), and speak the truth (Ps. 15:2; Zech. 8:16; Eph. 4:25).  The purity of the Word of Truth is the standard by which we must stand, even when the wicked reject (Isa. 59:14-15; Rom. 2:8), distort (Acts 20:30), suppress (Rom. 1:18), and even oppose it (2 Tim. 3:8).

Early Church Heresies
Early church heresies centered around these three: (1) denying some aspect of who Jesus Christ was, ie., denying His deity, or denying His humanity; (2) denying some aspect of the grace of God’s salvation; and (3) denying some aspect of the character of the word of God, whether its inerrancy, its content, or even how to read it.

It was in the year 50 that the first church council was held in Jerusalem to address the matter of circumcision of gentiles (Acts 15). The organization of the council was local, though Peter, Paul, John, Barnabas, and Titus were present, it was , however, presided over by James the head elder of the Jerusalem church and its elders and congregation.   There is a saying: “Where God builds a church the devil builds a chapel close by.” This has been the reality of the church through history. 

It was by these church councils that the Holy Spirit secured which books belonged in the Bible. God was sovereign in control of what was Scripture and what was not. 

This adding to God’s free gift of salvation that occurred in the apostolic church shows up in every age. The Judaizing of Christianity that showed up in Jerusalem in Acts 15 also shows up in Galatia and Corinth. It also shows up in the second century as Ebionism as legalism moves the church under the bondage of its rules.

The Greek dominated regions of the ancient church confronted Gnostic heresies that denied Christ’s nature and changed the freedom of the gospel into license to sin – antinomian licentionsness.  The great historian Philip Schaff wrote of this period:  “The errors combated in the later books of the New Testament are almost all more or less of this mixed sort (Paganism or Judaism), and it is often doubtful whether they come from Judaism or from heathenism. They are usually shrouded in a shadowy mysticism and surrounded by a halo of a self-made ascetic holiness, but sometimes degenerated into the opposite extreme of antinomian licentiousness.” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 1 p. 567)       

Dr. Schaff summarizes, “if Christ be not God-man, neither is he mediator between God and men; Christianity sinks back into heathenism or Judaism. All turns at last on the answer to the fundamental question: ‘What think ye of Christ?’”

To the cannon of Scripture the apostate adds other works. The apostle Paul had those who opposed him, but sent letters to the Corinthian church claiming to speak for him. These heretics wrote what has come to be called psethde (“false”) books that the early church rejected outright because of their obvious false teaching. Another group of writings that are not genuine, the Apocrypha (“hidden”) and pseudigrapha (“false writings”) are not Scripture. The Apocrypha are those extra-biblical books written during the “400 years of silence” between the end of the Old Testament and the birth of John the Baptist. The pseudonymous, as Dr. Mal Couch says, “ Instead of putting their own names on the books, the authors claimed they were written by particular prophets or apostles in an attempt to give their work the needed authority and credibility.” (Mal Couch, gen. ed., God has Spoken, p. 87).  These book are included in the Roman Catholic Bible but not included in the Protestant Bible. The Catholics do not call these book “inspired.”   Examples are from the OT: 1 & 2 Esdras, 1,2,3 & 4 Maccabees, Tobit, & Psalm 151. Examples from the NT are: The gospel of Thomas, The gospel of Peter, The gospel of Barnabas, the Acts of Peter, the Lost Epistle to Corinthians.

How can we trust what we have today is authoritative? Because the Holy Spirit has preserved God’s word. What we have today has stood the test of time, endured the criticism of critical scholars and have proven themselves to be true.

However, the true books of the Bible have had an additional attack on their authority. This attack has been in the form of the fundamental laws of reading – the spiritualized method. When one does not like WHAT the text says, then they move to either changing the definition of words or allegorizing the text. The Greeks did not like the moral failure of their gods, so in order to clean up their deities’ actions they turned to allegory. When the Greeks conquered Egypt, Philo, seduced by the beauty of what came out of their method, proceeded to do the same with the Old Testament. This method was introduced into the Church by Origen ca. A.D. 185-254. As Dr. Couch writes, “The literary device of allegory is quite distinct from the allegorical method of interpretation, which looks for deeper meaning in the literal words of a text. Allegorical interpretation allows the exegete to manipulate the text to support his or her presuppositions.” (Mal Couch, gen. ed., An Introduction to Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics, p. 39).   

Another early departure was the establishment of an unbiblical church governmental systems. Almost immediately after the departure of the apostles, the established church developed a church hierarchy that incorporated overseers over overseers – a central control center instead of the local control of the church with a plurality of elders and deacons.  This hierarchy grew to what became in the middle ages as the political/ecclesiastical Papal organization. As the central power grew so did the Pope and the Roman Catholic church's control of the Bible. The source of authority moved from the Bible alone to include tradition as equal authority to the Bible with the Pope as absolute authority. 

As a result of the removal of the Scriptures in the language of the people and the move to the Roman Catholic form of church government the church of the middle ages saw ever increasing abuse of power and what looks like a semi-global apostasy of the Church.  A kind of precursor to the end-times apostasy. The next article will take up the story from the middle ages, how the Word in the language of the people moved to reform and split the Roman Catholic church. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Apostate 'Modern' Church, Part I

When the U.S. Supreme Court redefined Marriage in 2015 where was the uproar within the Church? There were many who wrote to their representatives, many who wrote blog articles condemning it, many who spoke out in the public square, but the old main-line denominations were silent. Some even used the event as an opportunity to officially change their governing rules in favor of homosexual marriage – not only allowing their leaders to perform the wedding but allowing homosexual marriage to be performed within their walls.

The truth is main-line protestant denominations have long been liberal with many positions. In the Biblical vernacular, they have long since been apostate. What is an apostate church, how does one define and identify an apostate church? How far from the Bible can a church move before it can be declared apostate? When is it time to leave a church that has moved across the line to apostasy?

This set of articles will examine these questions and provide some guidelines. First, some definitions are in order so that a proper limitation is placed upon the fundamentals of the faith that cannot be compromised.

The word apostasy comes from the Greek ‘apostasia’ meaning “a falling away, to forsake,” and is derived from the root meaning of, “divorce, repudiation.”  This is the word used in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 to describe the global end-times falling away of the Church. Paul writes: 

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,  [2] not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.  [3] Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away [Gr. apostasia, “falling away”] comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,  [4] who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (2 Thes. 2:1-4)

The “falling away” is used of a divorcement, a defection of something, an abandonment, or breach of faith. Some translate “the rebellion” or “revolt.” The word is used only twice in the New Testament. It is used in Acts 21:21 of the accusation that Paul was teaching the abandonment of the law of Moses concerning circumcision for Jews. The great Greek scholar Dr. Robertson says, “Plutarch uses it of political revolt and it occurs in 1 Maccabees 2:15 about Antiochus Epiphanes who was enforcing the apostasy from Judaism to Hellenism.” The term no doubt expresses a complete movement away from one defined system to another, whether political or religious.
There are other words used to describe the same thing. One such word is the Greek word ‘aphistemi’ meaning, “to depart, stand away from, fall away, to remove,” and is used by Paul in Timothy 4:1:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart [Gr. ‘aphistemi’ “stand away, fall away”] from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,  [2] speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,  [3] forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.  (1 Tim. 4:1-3)

Indeed, church history provides us an example of one who has departed from the faith. His name was Julian the Apostate (A.D. 361-363), the Roman Emperor who professed Christianity and later renounced it and attempted to reestablish paganism in the Roman Empire. Though, Julian the Apostate was a product of his day in that he grew up within a Christian governmental system where he was a Christian because he lived in a Christian nation, i.e., by the will of man, not by the will of God (John 1:12-13). Nevertheless, Julian serves as an example of one we would call apostate since he “stood away” from what was true in favor of a substitute religion. 

Apostasy as a perpetual problem
The apostles Paul, Peter, and John all warn of apostate individuals and churches existing in their day and continuing up to the “great apostasy,” that time in the future where the church will move away from the truth on a global scale.  There will always be a spiritual battle against the things of God and the people of God, so it stands to reason that there will always be a falling away from the truth. Therefore, the New Testament writers warned us to watch for it and act against it. 

Israel and the Apostasy
The books of Exodus and Numbers serve the New Testament Church as examples we are to study (1 Cor. 10). Israel is our example of apostasy of a chosen people. The chosen people of God were given the Word of God, saw the miracles of God, even followed the pillar of fire in the wilderness forty years and still did not want to hear and obey. Indeed one might breakdown Israel’s apostasy into different  stages with each stage predicted by God, punishment prescribed, and a promise of restoration assured.  Israel’s stages of apostasy can clearly be defined around the Abrahamic Covenant’s three stipulations of land, seed, and God:
  1. Rejection of the land promise. Israel traveled to Egypt during the great drought, saw the land of Goshen was rich and did not return to  the land of promise. They rejected God’s Word of promise as they lived by sight not by faith. As a result they were taken into bondage in Egypt for 400 years as prophesied to Abraham in the covenant (Gen. 15:13), but restored to the land.
  2. Rejection of the worship promise. With Israel back in the land, they sought self-interests over national interests, personal glory instead of glorified worship. As a result of over taxation of the people in order to continue the Solomonic dynasty’s love for opulence, war and separation of the tribes of Israel, abuses of religious rites, and pagan worship become rampant. Prophets were sent to them in order urge repentance,  revival, and a right standing with their God. The result was God prophesied that the tribes to the north would be destroyed by Assyria, and the tribes to the south would go into captivity for 70 years. After the 70 years, they would be restored to the land of promise (Jer. 25:10-11).
  3. Rejection of the Seed. The final stage of apostasy involves the rejection of their Messiah. When Jesus entered Jerusalem in the appointed time (Dan. 9:24-27) Israel wanted nothing to do with Him. The Jewish leadership saw Jesus as a hindrance to their way of life, a disruption to their man-made traditions which had replaced the purity of the Law of Moses from the Word. Even as the nation struggled under foreign occupation, the prophesied Savior-King had no esteem and was rejected by the stiff-necked people just as the Scriptures predicted (Isa. 53). What was the punishment? Banishment from the land. But here the pattern of prophesy, duration of punishment outside the land, then restoration changes slightly, as the exact time of punishment outside the land is not given. It is here that one finds what in prophecy is called the parenthesis wherein the Church age exists, and indeed that new thing that God is building today that is made up of both Jew and Gentile together in one new body (Eph. 2:15). However, even with the period of expulsion from the land not disclosed in Scripture, the period is described in length as “until the times of the Gentiles is complete” (Luke 21:24). But you might say, Israel is a nation again. Though Israel is a nation again, she does not possess the Temple mount nor Jerusalem – the very thing that defines the Times of the Gentiles. When the church age is complete, when God has saved the last church age believer, the church will be removed from earth and Daniel’s clock will start again with the 70th week (Dan. 9:24-27).

The Church and the Apostasy
Apostates have always been with us. This is clear by the warnings given in the letters to the churches by Paul, by Peter, and John. Dr. Mal Couch writes, “Though a distinct period of apostasy is coming, both Paul and John point out that the spirit of apostasy is always present… He points to apostate leaders in his day who held to a form of godliness but were denying the power: ‘avoid such men as these’ (2 Tim. 3:5). The apostle John concurs and writes that the spirit of Antichrist is present with those who deny the actual physical natures of Christ (1 John 4:2), but he notes that although this spirit is already in the world, ‘you have heard that it is [also] coming.” (Mal Couch, The Hope of Christ’s Return: Premillennial Commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians, AMG,2001)

What are the characteristics of an apostate and an apostate church? The New Testament links apostasy - a standing away from the truth, to the antichrist and his opposition to the things of God.
  1. Denying the power of God (2 Tim. 3:1-7).  The first aspect of an apostate is denying the power of God. The power of God is the message of the cross (1 Cor. 1:18). That is to say, the message that God came in the flesh to die as a substitute in the place of man for the penalty of sin, and whereby, the acknowledgement of personal sin and acceptance of the substitutionary atonement by Jesus Christ one is saved not only from the penalty of sin, but the new relationship with God enables one to be saved from the power of sin over one’s life. The new life one possess in Christ means one is no longer under the power of this world, but has overcome the world in Christ, being transformed and dependent upon the power of God to live a new life in Christ – not by our own power, but by the power of God. 
  2. Deny the Word of God: Not accept sound doctrine (2 Tim. 4:3-4).  The second aspect of an apostate is the denial not only of the sound doctrine that comes from the Word of God, but deny the Bible is the Word of God. The apostate teaches his word, not God’s! As Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:2-5:  “[2] Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  [3] For the time will come when they will not endure[Gr. ‘anechomai,’ “hold up”] sound [Gr. ‘hugiaino,’ “whole, healthy, sound”]” doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; [4] and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.  [5] But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill  your ministry. (2Tim 4:2-5 NKJ)
  3. Deny God (1 Tim. 3:4-5), deny Christ (2 Peter 2:6; 1 John 2:18; 4:3). See 1 above.
  4. Deny the faith (1 Tim. 4:1-2; Jude 3).  The apostate is characterized by a denial of “the faith.” What is “the faith?” The faith is the fundamental teachings that define Christianity. The early church had to define the fundamentals of the faith in a set of articles that included the virgin birth, the trinity and hence the deity of Christ along with the humanity of Christ. The universal fall of man, his depravity and need for substitutionary atonement by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Death, the second death as separation from God forever in the lake of fire, the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead. As deniers increased so did the length of the articles of the faith since acceptance of the plain Word of God was denied. 
  5. Deny the Lord’s return (2 Peter 3:3-4). see 4 above.

As you can see by this list, it is a denial of God and the things of God. The apostasy has it’s root in a denial of the Word of God – the source of truth. By denying the authority of the source of truth, one can move to whatever one wishes to teach as truth. So it is that in some main-line Churches, the truth of the world is more familiar and acceptable to the congregation than the Word of God. Acceptance of the wisdom of the world is more trustworthy than the Bible which contains the wisdom of God. After all, the Bible is full of error is it not? Is the Bible  not written by mere men? 

Has your church gone so far as to deny the infallibly of the Bible – the very foundation of your faith? If so, it is time to move on to a church that actually believes its source of truth is true. Which brings us to the next topic of the apostasy – deception.  In the next article a short history of doctrinal heresies will be examined which will serve as the foundation to the modern real world churches that have moved so far that they would ordain female and even homosexual ministers.     

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Pope Francis and the Big Lie – Another End-Times Deception

This year Pope Francis proclaimed his support for three of the world’s big lies. The first was the recognition of the Palestinian state, the second was the support of carbon as the cause of global warming, and the third was the acceptance of the communist belief after receiving a "Communist crucifix" from the president of Bolivia. All three contribute to the end-time world system and apostasy of the Church.

The Pope is no friend of Israel and indeed has never been. Israel is experiencing increased pressure by the Muslims, the old-line organized church, and the world, to give in to the terrorist organization Hamas and give up more land – even Jerusalem!  In 2005, Israel completed the forced evacuation of 21 Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip.  As Elliot Jager of the Friend of Israel reports, “This summer will mark 10 years since Israel ‘disengaged’ from Gaza, pulling out all military forces, dismantling its 21 communities – known collectively as Gush Katif- and uprooting the 8,600 civilians for whom Gaza has been home.” Now the pressure is on for Israel to give up even more land for peace as land in the West Bank and east Jerusalem are demanded for peace (sounds like extortion).

What has happened in the last 10 years in Gush-Katif? The land which once produced 10 percent of Israel’s agricultural output and 65 percent of its greenhouse vegetables, is now largely desolate. As the New York Times reported in 2006, “with few exceptions, most of the former settlements were transformed [by the Palestinians] into a post-apocalyptic landscape baking in the unforgiving sun.” (Elliot Jager, Israel, My Glory, July/August 2015, p. 25).  

On May 24, 2015, as the Pope visited Palestinian controlled Bethlehem, after endorsing new peace talks, proclaimed the land part of the “State of Palestine.” Then he  visited the wall that separates Israel from Bethlehem and “he prayed and touched his head against the graffiti-covered wall.” An insult to the Jews who, though control Jerusalem, are refused access to the Temple; so they pray with their heads against the outside wall known as the wailing wall. The Pope even called the Palestinian leader, Abbas, “an angel of peace.”  Abbas, an angel? Maybe, an angel of darkness! He, after all, is said to be the financier to the 1972 Munich Olympic Massacre that left  11 Israeli athletes murdered (Breaking Israel News, May 22, 2015).

This, even as the mass exodus of Christians from Bethlehem continues as the Palestinian authority continues to treat them poorly.  As the New York Post wrote, “Yes, ever since the PA took control of the West Bank in the early ’90s, its leaders have taken care to show the world an idealized picture of Muslim-Christian solidarity. But it’s a facade — a way to score anti-Israeli political points.” (  Clearly, the Pope is promoting their lie, as he carries on the Roman Catholic tradition of anti-Semitism, even at the expense of the Christian population in Bethlehem.

The New York Post reports, “Back to the exodus: Fifty years ago, Christians made up 70 percent of Bethlehem’s population; today, about 15 percent. Indeed, the Christian population of the entire West Bank — mostly Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic, with Copts, Russian Orthodox, Armenians and others — is dwindling.  But, again, the story’s the same in Egypt, Iraq and elsewhere in the Mideast. Practically the only place in the region where the Christian population is growing is in Israel.  In Bethlehem, Christians now feel besieged. Growing numbers of rural southern West Bankers from the Hebron area have moved north to Bethlehem in recent years. Many see the land as Waqf — belonging to the Muslim nation. They increasingly buy or confiscate land — and talk of laws to ban Christian landownership.”

With regard to the Pope’s proclamation that man-made carbon is the cause of global warming. This proclamation is made even as many climate scientists have disputed the big lie. The evidence should rule the discussion, but today, the truth is not as important as the message.  One cannot let the truth get in the way of a good story!

As I have pointed out before, using the historical CO2 data verses global average temperature, one finds no direct correlation between the two. The basic graph at points correlate, but at others they do not – they even move in opposite directions at points.  A direct correlation means that the two parameters under investigation must have a direct relationship, not mostly! If they do not directly correlate always, then one cannot claim a direct correlation at all. This is a big lie – bring in some mathematical model to “show” they correlate. Throw away the true historical data, make your model say what the people want it so say and you have job security; big Oil is taxed and the global governmental bodies reap the rewards with a big payoff, and the world gets a new global tax to help bring us all collectively together with one voice (cf. Gen. 11: the tower of Babel).

Finally, the third lie promoted by Pope Francis is the socialist/communist ideal. The Church has always strongly condemned the teaching of socialism, so why does this Pope promote it? Is Pope Francis showing his true belief in the South American developed theology called  liberation theology – a theology condemned by the Roman Catholic Church! Liberation theology arose within the South American Roman Catholic Church in the 1950s. It was popularized by the Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutierrez in his book “A Theology of Liberation” published in 1971. Liberation theology, simply put, removes the gospel of Christ: His death, burial, and resurrection to pay for price for sin, with the false gospel of communism’s ungodly envy and materialism. Liberation theology is, after all, the lie that is promoted today by president Obama.  Just tax, tax, tax, give everybody a “living wage” and we will live without crime, without hate, without want. A man-made kingdom on earth.

The pope is promoting these end-time philosophies today. As an amillennialist, he does not believe in a literal millennial theocratic kingdom run by King Jesus on earth. He believes we are in the kingdom age now, where the church is supreme and man can live the kingdom life today. That is why the idealism of the kingdom, where no crime, no hunger, and no hate is present in the church. This philosophy removes the large volume of prophecy relating to the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) concerning a land, seed, and peace in the Messianic Kingdom centered in His holy city, Jerusalem. For Rome, the holy city is Rome not Jerusalem; the savior is the Church with the Pope as Christ’s spokesman – the vicar (“instead of”) of Christ.          

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Is the prophetic battle of Gog and Magog in Revelation 20 the same as Ezekiel 38?

The battle that occurs in Revelation 20 is the final battle in the Millennium between the satanically inspired nations of the earth that come against “the beloved city” (Rev. 20:7-9). The text reads:

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison  and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.  They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.  The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.  Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.  (Rev 20:7-11)

 This is not the same battle that is spoken of in Ezekiel 38-39. Why? Because in Ezekiel, the nations are from the north, and there are a limited number of nations not, as Revelation says, “the nations in the four corners of the earth” (Ezek. 38:15; Rev. 20:7).

The reference to Gog (“the prince“) and Magog (“the people“)  in Revelation 20 is metaphoric. How can one tell when something is used metaphoric? When the thing spoken of cannot be the literal, then the author seeks to relate some attribute of the literal to the thing spoken of. What is the characteristic that is brought out in both Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20 concerning Gog and Magog? The literal Gog is from the Hebrew meaning “mountain,” and in Ezekiel 38 the prince of Gog is the great rebel who gathers the people together against Israel. In the Old Testament a “mountain” is synonymous with a kingdom.  In Daniel 2:45, the great stone cut out of the mountain (the stone or rock is Christ) destroys the statue (the future world empires). The mountain of the Lord represents the Messiah’s millennial kingdom. Thus, in Ezekiel and Revelation, the end-times ruler desires to be exalted above the Lord’s kingdom. The metaphor of Gog (the mountain)  and Magog (his people) has to do with world power and control over the whole world!   

As the great Dr. J. Vernon McGee writes, “Because the rebellion is labeled ‘Gog and Magog,” many Bible students identify it with the Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 38-39. This is not possible at all, for the conflicts described are not parallel as to time, place, or participants – only the names are the same. The invasion from the north by Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38-39 breaks the false peace of the Antichrist and causes him to show his hand in the midst of the Great Tribulation. That rebellion of the godless forces from the north will have made such an impression on mankind that after one thousand years, that last rebellion of man bears the same label –Gog and Magog.”  (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible) 

Dr. Couch writes concerning Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20, “Though some of the participants are the same (Gog and Magog), the time frame is not. The invasion of Israel mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39 seems to come at the beginning of the tribulation. There, for a short time, the Jews appear to be victorious, and the world is stunned by the defeat of the great northern power and its alliance. By contrast, the battle in Revelation 20:7-9 comes at the end of the kingdom period.” (Mal Couch, Revelation, in Tim Lahaye & Ed Hindson gen. ed., The Popular Bible Prophesy Commentary)

Gog and Magog then, is metaphor for the last days attitude that the devil of old possess concerning his desire to rule the world. The battles are satanically driven in order to rule the whole world and to bring everything under his control in a last attempt to usurp the world wide millennial rule of Messiah Jesus. Since the fall, Satan has been the ruler of this world, but with God's people and Word present his rule is limited. With these last days battles to rid the world of God's people and Word he hopes to gain total dictorial control of a Satanic kingdom. The antichrist is his instrument, just like the serpent was his instrument in the fall. Gog ("the prince of the mountain") and Magog ("the people of the prince") will fail as it is written, but even knowing that he will fail, self-deception and pride rules Satan but that does not get in the way of his desire to be the prince of the world controlling the people of the world.  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Celebrating Israel’s Birthday

We join in recognizing and celebrating Israel’s birthday. We joy in it because it further validates God’s prophecies. How else can one explain a tiny ethnic group that has survived all these millennia under the worst of circumstances? Israel, after almost 2000 years, was established as a nation officially on May 14, 1948. Astonishingly, this event occurred after decades of planning and false starts – living under the British Mandate of 1922. Indeed, at the very announcement of its establishment, the very next day, Israel was attacked on all sides by the Arabs. The invading armies Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and expeditionary forces from Iraq, all attacking the infant nation with little defense equipment.

It is said of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798, “while on his Palestinian campaign, asked one of his generals, ‘Can you give me proof that the Bible is the Word of God?” He replied, “Your Majesty, the Jew. Against all historical precedence, he has survived centuries of dispersion and yet has remained a distinct people – a nation in exile - though scattered over the entire world and terribly persecuted, just as the Hebrew prophets predicted he would be, patiently waiting for his promised return to the land of his fathers.” (quoted from Hal Lindsey, The everlasting Hatred: The roots of Jihad, p. 13)

Whose land is it? The Old Testament calls Israel the “land of promise,” and “the land I gave to you” (Ge. 35:12; Exos. 6:8; Ezek. 47:14). The promise goes way back to Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-3). The promise was given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) and their seed after them as an everlasting possession (Gen. 17:8; 48:4). The New Testament affirms the promise in Hebrews 11:9:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Heb 11:8-10)

And Paul, talking to the Hebrews in dispersion in the Roman Church confirms the title deed with physical Israel in chapter 11.

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel UNTIL the fullness [full number] of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer [The Messiah Jesus] will come out of Zion [in the Second Coming], And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” 28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are IRREVOCABLE. (Rom 11:25-29)

These promises are based upon specific conventional promises (Gen. 15) and extensive prophetic utterance by the prophets of the Lord. Notice what the prophet Ezekiel proclaims:

"Therefore say to the house of Israel,`Thus says the Lord GOD: "I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name's sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. 23 "And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD," says the Lord GOD, "when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. 24 "For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 "Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. 29 "I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. 30 "And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations. (Eze 36:22-30)

These promises are made and will come to pass “for My [God’s] holy name.” It is spectacular how God has preserved Israel through the generations. When Roman troops sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD, and finished the Jewish presence in the land in 132 there were only an estimated 15,000 Jews left in the land. Emperor Hadrian banished the Jews, renamed the land of Judah, Palestine and Jerusalem was renamed Aelis Capitina.

What a testimony, although God’s holy city, Jerusalem is not under Jewish control, her name is again Jerusalem. The most powerful of the world cannot rename God’s holy land. One day, Israel will be regathered back to the land and live in safety and peace – all Israel will be saved!

To read more see Dr. Couch’s books:
America, the Nations, and Israel
The Birth of the Nation Israel
For the Cause of Zion
The Coming Kingdom Reign of Christ

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The New Christian Zionism Movement

According to Christian Post Reporter Napp Nazworth, in the April 25, 2015 article, “New Christian Zionists Seek Distance From ‘Wild, Crazy Popular Apocalypticism,’” Craig Blasing is quoted as saying, “We need to recognize that there is a dispensational element that is not wild, crazy popular apocalypticism.” This is according to this group of Christian Zionists that gathered for a conference in Washington, D.C. called, “People of the Land: A Twenty-First Century Case for Christian Zionism,” Blasing says, “Dispensationalists are still associated with the old version of dispensationalism. We do need to recognize that there is a dispensational element that is not wild, crazy popular apocalypticism.” What does he mean by this “older version of dispensationalism?” He means the teaching of the likes of: C.I. Scofield, Lewis Sperry Chafer, John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, J. Vernon McGee, Hal Lindsey, Mal Couch, Tommy Ice, Tim LaHaye, and yes, even Michele Bachmann!

I  would like to know what the “new dispensalationalists,” the progressive dispensationalists, teach differently concerning the Rapture of the Church and the earthly Messianic kingdom in the land of Israel. If the doctrine of imminency (the rapture could happen at any moment) is wild and crazy apocalyticism? What does this group believe about the rapture? Are the progressive dispensationalists moving further away from the “older dispensationalists?” 

It is one thing to call these great teachers, “wild, crazy popular apocalyticism,” and another to take over Christian Zionism. Napp reports, “The conference speakers did not take a single position on what their theology means for the current state of Israel. At least one speaker said that supporting a two-state solution for the current Israeli/Palestinian conflict would not necessarily be inconsistent with his theology. Another speaker said he makes a distinction between the current state of Israel and the ‘covenanted people of Israel.’"

It seems this “new Christian Zionism” has come to same conclusion as that of the Christian Palistianism movement – Israel has no specific right to the land of Israel! It seems this group has simply tried to be politically correct when it comes to the modern state of Israel and is trying to redefine what it means to be a Zionist and especially, a Christian Zionist! 

Find more at: 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Passover verses Easter: The early church controversy concerning celebrating Christ's Resurrection

Our Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross during the Jewish Passover so why is it that we celebrate His resurrection on Easter – a pagan holiday? 

It all started 1,700 years ago during a very political period of the ancient Church. The year was 190 AD when Victor, the bishop of Rome, ordered the excommunication of all the “Quartodeciman’s,” the “Fourteenthers” (those that celebrate the resurrection on the Sundays following the traditional Passover, the 14th of Nisan, hence the name 14th’ers). The result came to be known as the Quartodeciman controversy. The Fourteenthers were generally eastern Christians celebrating the passion, resurrection, and exaltation of Christ on the Christian Pascha, the same day as the Jewish Pascha, on Passover.

In 190 AD a strong bishop, Victor, became the successor as bishop to Rome. He was the first Latin speaker and claimed apostolic authority.  What was the issue? The Roman (western) Church celebrated the holy week where the death of Jesus was always on Friday and resurrection on a Sunday after the March full moon. They wanted the force of the celebration placed upon the resurrection instead of the death.

The eastern Church celebrated on the Jewish Passover, the 14th of Nisan, which may fall several days before Sunday! This presented a problem for the western Church as the “holy week” started to find its own sacred traditions, which culminated with Resurrection Sunday.           

Again, the issue was whether the Jewish Pascha-day (be it fall on Friday or not), or the Christian Sunday, should control the time of the festival (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church). The emphasis of the Jewish Pascha was upon Christ’s death, whereas the Christian feast week placed emphasis upon the resurrection.

On the eastern Church’s side was most notably, Polycarp, the disciple of the apostle John who claimed they have always celebrated with reference to Passover, as also did Philip.  On the western side, most notable Hippolytus of Rome, the bishops from Alexandria, and for the most part the rest of the bishops in the Roman Empire.

The western Church found its power in Rome because, as the great Irenaeus argued, was founded and organized by Peter and Paul. All the greats made their way to Rome: Ignatius, Polycarp, Marcion, Valentinus, Tatian, Justin, Hegesippus, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Praxeas, and Origen – all roads lead to Rome, at least for the Christian Church. 

As anti-Semitism grew, so did the distrust that the Jews calculated the correct date for the Passover. Indeed, the claim was that the Jews disregarding the equinox. As a result, the western Church created their own calculation for a month they called the Christian Nisan.  

For the next 200 years the problem continued until by the year 325 AD. The issue was established by the first council of Nicaea that was convened by Emperor Constantine to address growing tensions and divisions within the Church particularly concerning who is Christ (the Arianism controversy), the date for Easter (the Quartodeciman controversy), and Church discipline. 

According to the Nicaea council’s conclusions,  the “Fourteenthers” were not allowed to celebrate Resurrection Sunday based on the Jewish Passover. The Synod of Antioch, held in 341 AD, “Fouteenthers were to be excommunicated altogether. The issue did not end with these councils, the issue came up again in the sixth and seventh centuries as the calendar changed in 1583 to the Gregorian calendar. 

The rule: celebrate the death of Jesus always on a Friday, the day of the week on which it actually occurred, and His resurrection always on a Sunday after the March full moon. If the full moon occurs on a Sunday, Easter-day is the Sunday after. The great historian Schaff says, “By this arrangement Easter may take place as early as March 22, or as late as April 25.”

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Great Mini Prophetic Time-line for Israel: Deuteronomy 30:1-9

One of the most important prophetic timelines in the Bible is given in Deuteronomy chapter 30. It is no mistake that the LORD gave Moses this prophecy at this exact time since they are about to enter back into the land He promised to them.   This phenomenal annotated prophecy surprisingly gives the future of Israel’s possession of the land. This section of scripture is in the larger context of the Land Covenant (Num. 34:1-12; Deut. 29:1-30:20 ) given by God to Israel.

    The story starts with Abraham in Genesis chapter 12. Abraham is told to leave the land of Ur and travel to “the land that I will show you” (12:1).  The promise made to Abraham that day included the promise of the seed, the land, and the blessing (12:1-3). The rest of the book of Genesis tells the story of Abraham’s offspring as they move in, out, then back into the land of Canaan – the land promised. 

Indeed, as Genesis reveals, the seed of Abraham sojourned in the land living in tents (cf. Heb. 11:9-10). The LORD tells Isaac “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you, and I will bless you, for unto you, and unto your seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father (Gen. 26:3).     

    As the story goes, the book of Exodus opens with the children of Abraham having been made slaves in Egypt and for the next 430 years their bondage was hard as their lives were made bitter with bondage (Ex. 1:14; 12:40).   At the end of Moses’ life and the 40 year wilderness wondering, the LORD again affirms His promise to Abraham regarding the land of promise in Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20.        

The Old Testament scholar Dr. Unger provides the following seven prophetic declarations:
1.    Dispersion of Israel for disobedience and apostasy (30:1; cf., 28:63-68)
2.    Israel’s future conversion while in the dispersion (30:2)
3.    Second advent of Christ (30:3; cf., Amos 9:9-14; Acts 15:14-17)
4.    Restoration of the land (30:4; cf., Isa. 11:11-12; 35:1-2; Jer. 23:3-8; Ezek. 37:21-25)
5.    Israel’s future national conversion (30:6; cf., Hos. 2:14-16; Rom. 11:26-27)
6.    The Judgment of the nations, Israel’s oppressors (30:7; cf., Isa. 14:1-2; Joel 3:1-8; Mat. 25:31-46)
7.    National prosperity of the millennial nation (30:9; cf., Amos 9:11-14)

While some scholars declare this promise is part of the Moses covenant that is conditional upon obedience, it is clear that this section is prophetic and unconditional in scope. Notice, for example how the section starts:

“Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God drives you” (Deut. 30:1).    

“Now it shall come to pass” is prophetic not conditional. The next clause describes what was described in chapter 28, the blessing and curse, will come upon them in history, and it has not come upon them yet! Was this fulfilled with the Assyrian and Babylon exiles from the land, or does this speak of the dispersion by Rome after 70 AD? In reality, Israel lost sovereign control of the Land with the Babylonian exile and they never again possessed the Land until 1948!  Notice verse 1 does not list a specific nation of dispersion, but “nations” plural.  This is the Jewish diaspora! The diaspora that existed since the Assyrian exile in 722. 

Verse 2 prophesies a yet future national conversion that is repeated by the apostle Paul in Romans 11:26: “all Israel will be saved.”  Notice, verse 2 does not say “if” you obey, rather, “you return”:

"and you return to the LORD your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul,” (Deut. 30:2)

Verses 3 through 5 speak of the second coming of Christ as He will re-gather them to the Land of promise in belief:

“that the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.  ” (Deut. 30:3-5)

Verse 6 speaks of the New Covenant and their national conversion.

“And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” (Deut. 30:6) 

Verse 7 describes Christ’s second coming judgment of the nations for their treatment of His people Israel:

“Also the LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you..” (Deut 30:7)

Notice verse 8 describes unconditional obedience to the Lord.

“And you will again obey the voice of the LORD and do all His commandments which I command you today.” (Deut 30:8)

Finally, notice the national prosperity that will come in the millennial rest of the kingdom described in verse 9:

“The LORD your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your land for good.” (Deut. 30:9a)

What is most incredible about this little prophecy is that Joshua has not yet entered the land of promise and conquered it, yet God gives them this far prophecy.  In essence, the LORD tells them He is with them always – no one can take them out of His hands. He is God, there is no other, He alone will do this, and He will not share His glory with any other. What a blessing we have in His word as it describes the absolute sovereignty of God over all. His promises are sure. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Three Important Feasts

There are three major feasts of Israel that require all of Israel to come to Jerusalem. The feasts are Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. The significance of the feasts is clearly Messianic in character.  The feast of Passover was given to Israel as they were in bondage in Egypt and served as the great “breaking” of Pharaoh’s hold on them. Every Israelite household was told to sprinkle blood upon the threshold of the house, those doing so would be spared death.  It is from this incredible object lesson that the Lamb of God typology finds it full significance in our Lord Jesus Christ – He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

Jesus’ death fulfilled the Passover promise as He served as our substitute for sin (Isa. 53:5; 2Co 5:21;1 Pet. 2:21-24;3:18), satisfying the wrath of God by shedding His propitious blood (Heb. 2:17-18; 1 John 2:2; 4:10)  reconciling the world (2 Cor. 5:17-21) and individuals (Rom. 5:1-11; Col. 1:21-22) to Himself, as He paid the price, redeeming us from our sins (1 Cor. 6:19-20; Eph. 1:7). His death settling the sin issue. The feast of Passover observes the act of divine election and deliverance (Wycliffe Bible Dictionary) and it is Christ that fulfills that promise and gift to Israel.

Fifty days after His Passover death, the second feast requiring all Israel to be representedly present is the feast of Pentecost ,also known as the feast of Weeks (I can’t help but think of Daniel 9’s weeks which give the precise timing of His birth and death), and the “firstfruits of the wheat harvest” (Ex. 34:22). The feast comes 7 weeks after Passover.  Pentecost is the only feast that gives no specific significance for the day. Tradition teaches that the law was given to Moses on this day.   It is here that the Church is born as Christ is the head of the Church (Eph. 1:20-23), marking the firstfruits of Christ’s Church, and marks the beginning of the coming of the Holy Spirit and a new work of Christ as mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 8:6). This feast too has found fulfillment in Christ, but Christ has not yet come again to bring the New Covenant to fulfillment. That can only be satisfied in the Millennial Kingdom.

The final feast requiring Jewish presence is the feast of tabernacles. The Tabernacle is a typological expression of the fulfillment of the promise to Israel, “I will be your God and you will be My people” (Ex. 6:6-7; Lev. 26:11-13). As such, the tabernacle reveals the person of Yahweh and the place where the people meets with God (Dictionary of Premillennial Theology). The feast of Tabernacles started in the wilderness sojourn as God led Israel providing all their needs in the desert.   This feast occurs in the seventh month. It is also called the feast of in-gathering (Ex. 23:16).  This feast is not complete yet for Christ is not yet seated on His throne (Matt. 25:31; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3). The feast of Tabernacles will be fulfilled when Christ returns and establishes His kingdom in Jerusalem with Israel for 1000 years. Israel will tabernacle with Messiah!  (Zech. 14:16; Rom. 11:25-27).

And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.  And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain.  If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.  This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. (Zech. 14:16-19 NKJ)