Friday, March 22, 2013

What About The Church In The End Times?

Let’s take stock of ourselves: Why is the divorce rate among Christians no better than among unbelievers? Is the “Gospel” preached in your church? What is the status of Biblical literacy in your fellowship? Is our Christianity lukewarm?

John must have been puzzled. Exiled to the lonely island of Patmos, he has just begun to receive what will become known as the most elevated vision of things to come given to any person in the history of the planet earth. The vision begins with a resurrected, immortal Jesus of Nazareth dictating seven letters for delivery to the pastors of seven churches that existed during the latter half of the first century. With eyes of flames like fire and feet like bronze that glows in a furnace, the God-man—who once was dead and now is alive forevermore—is ill. In fact, He is about to vomit!

For those who recognize the role and perspective of the seven letters of Revelation 2 and 3, it is clear that we are, indeed, in the Laodicean Age. The focus and design of each of the letters have local, admonitory, and personal application. However, they also profile—in advance—the history of the church through two thousand years. (In any other order, this wouldn’t be true.)

These seven letters constitute “report cards” of the performance of each church, containing commendations and admonitions regarding needed correction: “good news” as well as “bad news.” And, apparently, each church is surprised. Those who thought they were doing well, were not. Those who thought they weren’t doing so well were encouraged and doing better than they knew. (Each of these letters gives us insight and food for introspection.)

However, two of them have no good news at all: Sardis and Laodicea. Sardis is dead; “Christian” in name only. Unfruitful denominationalism, apparently.

Regarding Laodicea, Jesus is really sick of “lukewarm” Christianity. He is about to vomit:

“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:”

They think they are “rich and in need of nothing,” but are actually “miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” That’s about as graphic and antithetical as you can get.

There are many who lay the blame for the astonishing and sinister years of the Holocaust in Germany in the 1940s at the feet of the silent pulpits in Germany. Let’s take stock of ourselves: Why is the divorce rate among Christians no better than among unbelievers? Is the “Gospel” preached in your church? Can you even define it? (1 Cor 15:1–4). What is the status of Biblical literacy in your fellowship? Is there an effective program underway to improve it? (We could continue to explore the impending enslavement of America, but that’s a topic for another article!)

We can’t help but notice the silent exodus of people slipping out the back doors of many churches almost unnoticed: attracted but not retained; interested but not inserted into fellowship; touched but not transformed. They looked in briefly but were disappointed in what they saw. We also notice that many serious believers shun the label “Christian”; they meet during the week in study groups, but have not found a Sunday fellowship they find fruitful or challenging.

It is relevant to recognize that our present concept of “church” is a product derived from 4th centurypolitics. It ought to be obvious to even the casual observer of history that the real story of the church is not the one recorded in secular history. Who were the Waldensians? The Lollards? TheStundists? The Anabaptists? The Priscillians? The Bogomilians? Petrobusians? Patarenians?

These names were given by their enemies to those who claimed only the name of Christ, and who were prepared to suffer for His cause rather than submit to those man-made traditions that they believed contradicted the Word of God. These were independent fellowships that were outlawed and persecuted. Those intrepid believers, “of whom the world was not worthy,” were not only persecuted by civil authorities, they were denounced, defamed, and decimated by the professing church.

While many of us may have some awareness of the history of tensions between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants, it may come as a shock to discover that Protestant leadership also persecuted deviant groups who attempted to adhere to Biblical doctrines. And some still do.

As we approach the “end times,” our Lord admonished us:
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”
Notice that the Lord is outside the Laodicean door, knocking! And His call is to the individual. How insightful… The Lord’s displeasure to Laodicean “lukewarmness” is in stark contrast to a note that was found in the room of an anonymous African martyr:

I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of His.

I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colourless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity.

I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labour by power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my guide reliable, my mission clear.

I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, or let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problems recognizing me—my banner will be clear!


Adapted from K-House News

Thursday, March 14, 2013

WHAT'S PRESIDENT BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA UP TO?

It’s official … after weeks of posturing and even threatening not to come unless the Netanyahu governmental coalition is complete, President Barack Hussein Obama has committed to his first “presidential” visit to Israel. But many are wondering about his motives and what he hopes to accomplish. 

The following has just been released by the White House and is his tentative schedule:

March 20
  • Noon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport and brief greeting ceremony. Obama will likely inspect an Iron Dome anti-missile battery brought to the airport for the occasion. Meeting with Shimon Peres at Beit Hanasi.
  • Meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s residence.
  • Press conference.
  • Dinner at the Prime Minister’s residence.
March 21
  • Visit the Shrine of the Book housing the Dead Sea scrolls at the Israel Museum and an exhibit on Israeli technological innovations designed especially for the trip.
  • Five and a one-half hours visit to Ramallah for a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
  • Speech to students at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem.
  • Reception with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the American consulate in Jerusalem.
  • State dinner hosted by President Shimon Peres, with musical performances by Rita and David Deor.
March 22
  • Wreath-laying ceremony at the graves of Theodor Herzl and Yitzhak Rabin on Mount Herzl.
  • Meeting with the head of the opposition, expected to be Labor’s Shelly Yacimovich.
  • Visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
  • 2:00 pm -- Departure
Will President Barack Hussein Obama visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum?

One thing we do know is that President Obama has turned down an opportunity to speak to the Israeli Knesset, choosing instead to speak to “everyday” Israelis. Some see this as a slap in the face, choosing to ignore the elected Israeli leadership and appeal to the people. One thing for certain is that President Obama is a polished orator and extremely charismatic.

Some concerns about this visit have surfaced.

Some prominent officials believe that President Obama is coming with “the plan” to start up the stalled Peace Process, which will climax (by the end of his second term) with the long-sought-after “Two-State Solution.” Word from some of these pundits is that lines have been drawn. It is expected that President Obama will be pushing Binyamin Netanyahu for a “hard” deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

Others believe that this visit is just to prepare Israel for the reality of a nuclear Iran and a new strategy in how to deal with the inevitability of this taking place. It is rumored that President Obama is not in favor of any kind of military intervention and believes peaceful negotiations with this radical Islamic state is possible. It is expected that he will present some new kind of d├ętente with Muslim extremists who continue to proclaim to the world their desires to annihilate the Jewish state.

Regardless of all the concessions President Obama continues to make to the Islamic Republic, it is not surprising that he has opted out of the Knesset where the MK’s would no doubt back him into a corner. He has chosen instead to deliver a speech at Jerusalem’s Convention Center, where his polished message will go straight to the Israeli public. By going over the heads of Israel’s government and parliament to face a less-informed audience, he believes he can get away with sweet-talking his surrender to a nuclear Iran.

Finally, here are some of the recent quotes by Obama that lead up to his visit:

“It is important for the Israeli people to understand that the American people stand with them.”
Obama’s direct words to Israelis: “As you approach your 65th anniversary as a nation state, the time has come for you to either ‘Grow up or grow old!’”

One last note: Last week a timely comment was made by former military Israeli intelligence chief, Amos Yadlin, when he said that an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would be no more than a one-night operation. So picture the following: When Air Force One lands with all the pomp and circumstance with Israeli dignitaries pushing forward to greet the U.S. president, a small group of anonymous IDF pilots will be watching from a distance, just waiting for the order to fly out and carry out their mission in a single night.

Still the world holds its collective breath as these issues become reality, just as the Bible has predicted.

K-House news

Monday, March 11, 2013

What About The Pope And The Catholic Church?

Over the past few weeks, since the resignation of the Pope, I have been asked by a few friends what my thoughts were.

I grew up in a more "conservative" background, and am probably considered "old school," which doesn't bother me at all. I have come too far to change now.

From that background, as I have sat under teachers, pastors, professors, the idea was the Roman Catholic Church was the apostate church mentioned in Revelation. Even in studying prophecy for the past fifty years, and in light of some teachings from those who are more knowledgeable of Eastern theology and meanings, I still believe the Catholic church was play a vital part in the establishment of the rule of the anti-christ.

It really doesn't matter is you are Baptist,  or Protestant (Baptist are not Protestant because they didn't protest during the Reformation) Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Catholic, Jew or confused; if you have never received the blood of Christ in your life, you will spend eternity in outer darkness (Hell), away from God. "That's a fact, Jack." (A little Duck Dynasty humor there)

In light of this, the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching about the pope (“pope” means “father”) is built upon and involves the following Roman Catholic teachings:

1) Christ made Peter the leader of the apostles and of the church (Matthew 16:18-19). In giving Peter the “keys of the kingdom,” Christ not only made him leader, but also made him infallible when he acted or spoke as Christ’s representative on earth (speaking from the seat of authority, or “ex cathedra”). This ability to act on behalf of the church in an infallible way when speaking “ex cathedra” was passed on to Peter’s successors, thus giving the church an infallible guide on earth. The purpose of the papacy is to lead the church unerringly.

2) Peter later became the first bishop of Rome. As bishop of Rome, he exercised authority over all other bishops and church leaders. The teaching that the bishop of Rome is above all other bishops in authority is referred to as the “primacy” of the Roman bishop.

3) Peter passed on his apostolic authority to the next bishop of Rome, along with the other apostles who passed on their apostolic authority to the bishops that they ordained. These new bishops, in turn, passed on that apostolic authority to those bishops that they later ordained, and so on. This “passing on of apostolic authority” is referred to as “apostolic succession.”

4) Based upon the claim of an unbroken chain of Roman bishops, Roman Catholics teach that the Roman Catholic Church is the true church, and that all churches that do not accept the primacy of the pope have broken away from them, the original and one true church.

Having briefly reviewed some of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church concerning the papacy, the question is whether those teachings are in agreement with Scripture. The Roman Catholic Church sees the papacy and the infallible teaching authority of “Mother Church” as being necessary to guide the church, and uses that as logical reasoning for God’s provision of it. But in examining Scripture, we find the following:

1) While Peter was central in the early spread of the gospel (part of the meaning behind Matthew 16:18-19), the teaching of Scripture, taken in context, nowhere declares that he was in authority over the other apostles or over the church (see Acts 15:1-23; Galatians 2:1-14; 1 Peter 5:1-5). Nor is it ever taught that the bishop of Rome was to have primacy over the church. Rather, there is only one reference in Scripture of Peter writing from “Babylon,” a name sometimes applied to Rome, found in 1 Peter 5:13. Primarily from this, and the historical rise of the influence of the bishop of Rome (due to the support of Constantine and the Roman emperors who followed him), come the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching of the primacy of the bishop of Rome. However, Scripture shows that Peter’s authority was shared by the other apostles (Ephesians 2:19-20) and that the “loosing and binding” authority attributed to him was likewise shared by the local churches, not just their church leaders (see Matthew 18:15-19; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Corinthians 13:10; Titus 2:15; 3:10-11).

2) Nowhere does Scripture state that in order to keep the church from error, the authority of the apostles was passed on to those they ordained (the idea behind apostolic succession). Apostolic succession is “read into” those verses that the Roman Catholic Church uses to support this doctrine (2 Timothy 2:2; 4:2-5; Titus 1:5; 2:1; 2:15; 1 Timothy 5:19-22). What Scripture DOES teach is that false teachings would arise even from among church leaders and that Christians were to compare the teachings of these later church leaders with Scripture, which alone is cited in the Bible as infallible. The Bible does not teach that the apostles were infallible, apart from what was written by them and incorporated into Scripture. Paul, in talking to the church leaders in the large city of Ephesus, makes note of coming false teachers. To fight against their error does NOT commend them to “the apostles and those who would carry on their authority,” but rather to “God and to the word of His grace” (Acts 20:28-32).

Again, the Bible teaches that it is Scripture that is to be used as measuring stick to determine truth from error. In Galatians 1:8-9, Paul states that it is not WHO teaches but WHAT is being taught that is to be used to determine truth from error. While the Roman Catholic Church continues to pronounce a curse to hell, or “anathema,” upon those who would reject the authority of the pope, Scripture reserves that curse for those who would teach a different gospel (Galatians 1:8-9).

3) While the Roman Catholic Church sees apostolic succession as logically necessary in order for God to unerringly guide the church, Scripture states that God has provided for His church through the following:

(a) Infallible Scripture, (Acts 20:32; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Matthew 5:18; John 10:35; Acts 17:10-12; Isaiah 8:20; 40:8; etc.) Note: Peter speaks of Paul’s writings in the same category as other Scripture (2 Peter 3:16),

(b) Christ’s unending high-priesthood in heaven (Hebrews 7:22-28),

(c) The provision of the Holy Spirit who guided the apostles into truth after Christ’s death (John 16:12-14), who gifts believers for the work of the ministry, including teaching (Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:11-16), and who uses the written word as His chief tool (Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17).

While there have been good (humanly speaking) and moral men who have served as pope of the Roman Catholic Church, including Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, the Roman Catholic Church teaching about the office of the pope should be rejected because it is not “in continuity” with the teachings of the original church related to us in the New Testament. This comparison of any church’s teaching is essential, lest we miss the New Testament’s teaching concerning the gospel, and not only miss eternal life in heaven ourselves, but unwittingly lead others down the wrong path (Galatians 1:8-9).

it is going to be interesting, thought, to see the outcome of this Papal election in light of St. Malachy and the Prophecy of the Popes.

If you have had your head in the sand and not paying any attention to the news, this prophecy re-surfaced several year ago, after being locked up for centuries.

The big question: is it a forewarning of great tribulation to come? Or an obvious forgery with no more accuracy than a strip-mall tarot card reading? Since the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, both fringe and mainstream media outlets have buzzed about the Prophecy of the Popes, a list of short Latin phrases that predict personal attributes related to the next 112 pontiffs, beginning with its vision-inspired creation in 1143.

The Prophecy not only foretells the characteristics of those who would succeed St. Peter, but the end of the Catholic Church, or maybe even humanity itself, with the election of the 112th and last Pope, who will preside over a final judgment and the destruction of Rome.

So why is a 900 year old prophecy suddenly in the news? Because Benedict XVI is purported to be number 111 on the list. Meaning the end of the world might be as close as the Papal Conclave that is meeting right now.

And as Paul Harvey would say, "and now the rest of the story." Stay tuned, and listen for the "trumpet."