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Lessons from Ahab for an Undiscerning Church December 9, 2013

Posted by Henry in Contending for the Faith.
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In the book of 2 Chronicles 18 the story is told of how Ahab the king of Israel wanted to go to Ramothgilead to make war with Syria. Ahab had made an alliance with Jehoshaphat the king of Judah and he invited him to go up to Ramothgilead with him. However, though Jehoshaphat agreed in principle he asked Ahab to first inquire what the word of the Lord said concerning the matter. So what did Ahab do? Ahab gathered together no less than 400 prophets to ask them if he should go to do battle. Everyone of them agreed that he should go up to Ramothgilead and that he would prevail as the Lord would deliver it into his hands. Not satisfied however, Jehoshaphat asked Ahab if there weren’t any other prophets of the Lord aside from the 400. Ahab replied that there was another prophet by the name of Micaiah but that he hated him because he never prophesied anything good to him except evil.

To cut a long story short we see in verse 11 where the 400 prophets declared that the Lord said Ahab should go to the war and that he would prosper. The messenger who when to fetch Micaiah told him that all the other prophets had prophesied good to the two kings and that he should prophesy good tidings likewise. However, being a true prophet of God, Micaiah prophesied the truth to Ahab that Israel would be defeated if they went to battle. Ahab would not listen however because he did not like what he was hearing especially when he had the backing of the 400 other prophets so he threw Micaiah in jail. Needless to say he went to battle and met his destruction because he refused to heed the truth from the true prophet of God. Instead he yielded to the message that appealed to his flesh, a message from lying spirits that deceived the 400 prophets.

This story of Ahab is an important lesson for the church today. Today the church, like Ahab, fails to discern the true voice of the Lord but instead yield to a message that appeals to their flesh – word of Faith, seed faith, prosperity doctrines and the like. They measure truth by the number of people speaking the same message instead of applying themselves to the study and application of the Word. Afterall if 400 prophets on TV or in the mega churches are speaking the same message then it must be true, right? But like Ahab this message with lead many to destruction. Many church folk don’t want to hear the message of the local church anymore even if it is the true word of God. Instead they want to hear a message that appeals to their flesh. Today the church heap to themselves teachers (prophets) that tell them what their itching ears want to ear instead of hearing the truth of God’s Word coming from a seemingly unlikely source.

The demise of Ahab however should serve as a warning that we should seek to listen to the solitary voice of the Lord even if the message is tough to hear instead of the 400 prophets who tell us the things we want to hear.

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The Gospel of Salvation – part 2 October 27, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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This post is in continuation of a discourse between myself and Dave from over at “The Gospel According to the Gospel”. Link to Part 1 here.

Dave,

To continue where I left off last time, I want to look at what you said with regards to modern theologians holding to the view that there has been a dispensation of works (the Law) and a dispensation of Grace. Let me state categorically that I personally do not subscribe to this view. Indeed I hold to the view that there is and have been two dispensations in regards to the promise made to Abraham. The word dispensation being used in this context refers to a “religious epoch” or period of time. Consequently the first covenant lasted for a particular period of time – in that time period only Israel could benefit from the first covenant because it was given to them only. The following verses of scripture demonstrate this fact:

Eph 2

12That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 18For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

The second (or new) covenant was given to everybody therefore but first to the Jew and then to the Greek (or the Gentiles). In my view therefore the plan of salvation as embodied in the covenant promises made to Abraham was implemented in essence in two phases which I refer to as dispensations. Looking at Gal 3 and Rom 8 we see the duality of the plan of salvation:

Gal 3

23But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

 

Roms 8

3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

In Rom 8:3 therefore we see that although we are no longer bound by the law, the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us through Christ Jesus.

Now let’s turn attention to the issue of “works versus Grace”. There are mainly two issues here which are sometimes often confused and I will look at these in turn. The first issue relates to the fact that in the early church Paul (and other Apostles) was faced with a problem whereby the Jews who had now become followers of Christ (Christians) sought to continue doing the “works of the Law” and as such believed Gentile Christians should do likewise. An example of this can be seen in Acts 21:21-25 where Paul had to make it clear that he did not give any instruction to the Gentiles who believed (or required them) to observe the customs and practices which came down from Moses.  Paul had to deal with a similar problem in Gal 2:11-14 where he had to rebuke Peter for hypocrisy because Peter ate with the Gentiles but when circumcised Jews came among them he withdrew to “save face”. Paul therefore had to clarify in the following verse that man is not justified by the works of the Law but by the “new” faith that was given in Christ:

Gal 2

16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

The Jews therefore were making the Cross of Christ of none-effect by claiming that the works of the Law such as circumcision were still necessary. But these works as we have seen were not required particularly since the Law had been set aside by Christ death and resurrection.

Now the other problem relating to “works vs Grace” relates to the problem faced by the early reformers like Martin Luther. By the time of the Reformation the Roman Church had established a religions system which suggested that a man had to do “good works” in order to “earn” his salvation. Piety was defined in terms of “good works” that were deemed necessary for one to earn his place in heaven. As a result, the Roman Church believed and taught “justification by works” instead of “justification by faith”, which Paul preached. Often times therefore, when the issue of “works vs Grace” is spoken of, the two different types of “works” (“works of the Law” and “good works”) are often conflated without any distinction made. As a result we arrive at a crossroads where we say that a man is justified only by Grace and there is no need for works. The following verses of Eph 2 define salvation by Grace:

Eph 2

5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved😉 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

In contrast to the teachings of the Roman church of justification by works, Paul writing to the Ephesians makes it clear here that salvation is by grace through faith only and not of ourselves. In other words we cannot save ourselves simply by doing what is considered “good works” because if we have “good works” yet not faith in Christ we or still lost. Is it correct to say then that because we are saved by Grace then there is no need for good works? I think this is where the church today has missed an opportunity by its complacency in neglecting to do good works. The key terminology Paul used is that salvation is by Grace THROUGH FAITH. In James’ exposition on faith in James 2:26 he makes it abundantly clear that faith, if it has not works is DEAD and dead faith cannot obtain Grace. Good works are therefore necessary for our faith to come alive in Jesus Christ! Can we therefore continue to juxtapose “Grace” against “works”? No! For salvation is BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH and faith necessitates works otherwise it is dead. Here is what James said:

James 2

18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness:

There we have it! Justification by faith is in fact the same as justification by works (in the perfection of faith)!

The modern church to a large extent however would seem to have held on to the doctrine of “Grace alone” neglecting the fact that “good works” are necessary in the exercising of our faith. This is perhaps one of the main reasons why the power of God in confirming the gospel is not evident in most churches today.

Defining Faith! October 11, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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A lot of people struggle with understanding what faith is and how it works and I must admit that at one time or another I too struggled with this concept. But if we are to grow in Grace and develop our spiritual walk we must understand what faith is. The scriptures truly stated that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). So how do we define faith?

 The Bible defines faith as follows:

 “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”(Heb 11:1)

 To demonstrate this, we could say that faith is a conviction which underlies our inner belief in the salvation of our souls, through the redemptive work of Christ, which will be revealed in due time. Without faith therefore it would be impossible to believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the following verse demonstrates that it is the salvation of our souls that we receive at the end of our faith:

 1 Peter 1

7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

 The question that most people would like to have answered however is how can one exercise their faith especially when met with difficult circumstances. It is important to note though that you cannot have faith in faith itself but you can only have faith in God as can be seen in the following scripture:

 6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Heb 11:6)

 In exercising our faith therefore we must believe that GOD IS. We can only trust God for our salvation if we believe that HE IS. If we do not trust God and believe in Him for our salvation then nothing else matters  – we will not be able to trust Him for anything else. This is the “secret” to having faith in God. It is nothing to do with using scriptures as an incantation or using a 7-point formula. This is where the Word of Faith movement has high-jacked many people’s faith. In Matt 17:20 Jesus demonstrated that if one has faith like a mustard seed they can move mountains. Jesus used the mustard seed to demonstrate that though it is so tiny it has the assurance of growing into a huge tree. Jesus is therefore saying that with such faith we can overcome obstacles but not we ourselves but through the power of God.

 Having faith is not all about getting things from God, like houses, cars, jobs, money etc as the WOF proponents would have you believe but it is about trusting in God first and foremost for salvation and believing that He is able to fulfill all your needs. I have come to the understanding that you will NOT necessarily get from God what you set your heart on. For example, if you are jobless faith does not mean that you will get that job with a six figure starting salary but faith may mean that the Lord will provide you with a means to take care of yourself and family even though it may not be as illustrious as you imagined. Chanting a Psalm or confessing daily over a particular thing is NOT an exercise of faith but is rather an expression of unbelief. If you believe in God and pray and ask Him to fulfill your needs then all you have to do is just that. One of the important things to learn also is that the proving of your faith worketh patience (Jam 1:3) – which means that you should continue to believe and trust in God even if you have been waiting for a little while and He hasn’t shown up yet. Faith means that in the midst of despair when it seems that all is lost you continue to believe in God, in giving thanks and praising His name. Counting our previous blessings and remembering all that the Lord had done for us should also help to strengthen our faith that He will come through in the end, not according to our time but to His own perfect timing.

The Two Witnesses October 7, 2010

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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Some people assume that the Two Witnesses who will preach the Gospel in the last days are Elijah and Moses, whilst others theorise that they are Joshua and Zerubbabel, and the list goes on. Could any of these be true? Let’s look at what Revelations 11 says about the Two Witnesses:

Rev 11

3And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 4These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 5And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 6These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.

In order to shed further light on these things we need to pop over to Zechariah 4:

Zech 4

2And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: 3And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. 4So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? 5Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be?

Zechariah saw the same depiction of the olive trees and candlestick which John saw in Revelations 11 and he inquired to know what these were. The answer is presented in verse 10 below:

10For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

Here we see that the seven lamps of the candlestick are the seven eyes of the LORD which run to and fro through the earth, but more on this later. What I want to home in on though is the identity of the two olive trees which Zechariah has seen and we shall see who they are in verse 14:

11Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? 12And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? 13And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 14Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

It would appear from these verses that the two olive trees which are beside the bowl on the top of the lamp are pouring oil into the bowl (through two golden pipes) in order to feed the lamp. Verse 14 of Zechariah 4 therefore tells us that the two olive trees are the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth. So then to sum up, the seven lamps of the candlestick are the seven eyes of the Lord.  So what are these seven eyes of the Lord? The following verses tells us plainly what they are:

 6And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. (Rev 5:6)

5And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. (Rev 4:5)

Clearly then the seven lamps of the candlestick which Zechariah saw are the very same eyes here depicted in Rev 5:6 and these are the seven Spirits of God (which are sent out into all the earth). Seemingly therefore the two olive trees are feeding the bowl which feeds the seven lamps with oil – so in essence the olive trees are feeding the seven Spirits of God. It is these two olive trees therefore that are the Two Witnesses (the two anointed ones) that will preach the Gospel in the end times as mentioned in Rev 11:4. Could these witnesses therefore be Elijah, Moses, Joshua, Enoch etc? The answer clearly lies in the fact that the seven Spirits of God that stands before His throne must be eternally before God’s throne and the two olive branches also must be eternally present to feed the seven lamps, which are the seven Spirits of God.

NB: This post has been updated. Initially on reading the KJV I thought the two olive branches were attached to two of the 7 pipes which form the seven lamps and therefore wrongly designated two of the pipes as the two witnesses. On reading other translations however it appears that the two branches are apart from the seven lamps and instead feeds the bowl with oil which in turn feeds the lamps.

Daniel’s 70th Week: Another Prophetic Dilemma! May 27, 2010

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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The “traditional” view to interpreting Daniel’s 70th week also suggests that this “week” marks the 7 year tribulation reign of the anti-christ. In this regard it is believed that the anti-christ will make a covenant with Israel at the start of the “week” and that in the middle of the “week” (or 3.5 years later – 1260 days) the anti-christ will break the covenant and cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease by setting up the abomination of desolation. Israel will then flee into the “wilderness” (Rev 12:6) as a result for the remaining 3.5 years or 1260 days, until Christ returns. In looking at Daniel 9 (see below) this seems a reasonable conclusion but is this really so?

 Dan 9

26And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

 Of course one of the main problems with this view is that one would be able to accurately predict when Jesus Christ would return if they knew when the anti-christ came to power. However, in spite of the fact that Jesus knew that Daniel was already written and available to us He made clear that no one knew the day nor the hour when He should return (Matt 24:36). To confound the matter further there is a portion of scripture in Daniel 12, which is overlooked when interpreting Daniel 9:

 Dan 12

10Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. 11And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. 12Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. 13But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.

 Here, the scripture says that from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away through to the time when the abomination which makes desolate is set up, will be 1290 days. Now this surely does put a spanner in the works where modern eschatology is concerned. Assuming that the traditional view is correct and that the anti-christ did break the covenant in the middle of the 70th week (7 year tribulation period) then according to Dan 12:11 the abomination of desolation would not be set up until a further 1290 days had expired. Obviously the math does not add up here because the fleeing into the wilderness does not occur until after the abomination of desolation is set up (Matt 24:15-20). Going by the traditional view therefore we would have the abomination of desolation being set up 30 days after Jesus was due to return (according to some) at the end of the second half of the 70th week (1260 days).

 To summarise the timeline in accordance with the traditional view then and to factor in the account of Daniel 12, we would have:

 –         At start of 70th week anti-christ confirms a covenant with “the many” ( assumed to be Israel) (Dan 9:27)

–          In the middle of the week or after 1260 days anti-christ breaks the covenant and causes the sacrifice and oblation to cease (Dan 9:27)

–          After a further 1290 days abomination of desolation is set up (Dan 12:11)

–          Israel then flees into the wilderness for a further 1260 days from the setting up of the abomination (Matt 24:15-20, Rev 12:6)

–          Jesus due to return after the completion of the 1260 days of Israel in the wilderness?

 So then what we have chronologically speaking is not 7 years or 2520 days but 3810 days in total to mark the period of the “tribulation”. The dilemma for interpreters therefore is how do you factor in the 1290 days which spans the time from the taking away of the sacrifice through to setting up the abomination of desolation?

Daniel’s 70th Week: A Prophetic Dilemma! May 24, 2010

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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In looking at the prophesy of Daniel’s 70 Weeks as recorded in Daniel 9 several problems arises from the point of view of modern eschatology. However, I will only highlight the main ones here for now. Whilst Daniel was praying and making supplications the angel Gabriel appeared unto him and explained a few things to him concerning the future of Israel. Gabriel told Daniel (see Daniel 9:23) that from the beginning of his supplication a “commandment came forth” and that it was this commandment which he came to show to Daniel and this can be see from verse 24 onwards. Gabriel told Daniel that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks (or 69 weeks). In terms of understanding Bible prophecy we understand a week to be a week of years or 7 years to be precise. Therefore what Gabriel is saying is that there shall be 483 years (69 multiplied by 7) from between the time of the commandment to rebuild the Temple unto Messiah. If we recall that at the time of Daniels supplication the time period we are dealing with was the first year of Darius’ reign. Therefore according to Gabriel the commandment went forth during the first year of Darius’ reign. According to Daniel 5:30, Darius began reigning when he was 62 years old, and according to other historical records he died in 486 BCE, when he was about 64 years of age. So then we can see that from the first year of Darius’ reign (circa 488 BCE) through to the time of Christ’s birth is approximately 483 years (or 69 weeks). [According to some historical sources Jesus was born around 4 BCE]

 We are then told however that after 62 weeks were accomplished Messiah would be “cut off” but not for Himself. We could assume here that this is a reference to Christ being crucified and ascending to Heaven after which time the people of a prince that shall come will destroy the city and the temple in a war which results in the desolation of Jerusalem. We are then told in verse 27 that the prince that shall come will confirm a covenant with many for one week and in the midst of the week shall cause the oblation and sacrifice to cease leading to the overspreading of abominations which makes the place desolate until the time of the consummation. It is assumed that this week is the 70th and last week of the allotted 70 weeks which was appointed for Israel to make an end of sins and to bring in everlasting righteousness. The first major problem here therefore is that whilst we can clearly count the years of the first 69 weeks where does the 70th week come in? Yet Bible scholars confidently declare that the 70th week marks the last 7 years of the age (the tribulation period) before Jesus Christ returns to earth (or the rapture). Usually we look at a block of time as a continuous period and in this instance there is nothing to suggest that the clock stops at 69 weeks and then we add in the 70th week thousands of years later. Yet if scholars are to make their interpretations fit then that is exactly what they are saying. Could there be another explanation for the 70th week or another method for counting the years? I must admit that I do not have the answers here but this is no less intriguing. Some interpreters further claim that the 70th week was fulfilled when Titus sacked Jerusalem in 70 A.D but again there is a problem here going by the week of years method if the period is meant to be continuous.

 There is a further problem which resides in how one reconciles verse26 into the whole equation. According to verse 26, Messiah will be cut off after three score and two weeks. Does this mean that after the first 69 weeks which takes us up to the birth of Messiah, He would then continue for three score and two weeks and then be “cut off”? If this were the case then on the basis of the week of years we would be saying that Jesus lived for 62 434 years instead of the approximate 33 and 1/2 years (assuming that the scriptures refer to His birth and subsequent death). Whatever the case may be I have no doubt that the prophecy interpreters do not have it completely worked out.

This post has been edited to correct the year of Darius’ reign. I subtracted two years from the year of Darius’ reign instead of adding. I have also added in the approximate year of Christ’s birth in order to reflect how the 69 weeks (483 years) is arrived at.

The Beast that was, Is not, Yet is! May 11, 2010

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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Some of the popular views that abound concerning the end times “beast” that John prophesies of in Rev 13 assert that this beast having seven heads and ten horns will arise from Muslim nations surrounding Israel and as such they assert that the antichrist will be of Muslim origin. However, the purpose of this post is not to speculate on the identity of the anti-christ himself but rather to look at what scripture reveals concerning the “identity” of the beast. Indeed I have already put forward a post on the Identity of the beast but in this study I will attempt to look at some considerations that were not previously looked at.

As aforementioned, the Apostle John saw a “beast” rising out of the sea having seven heads and ten horns. This beast arises some time towards the end of the age and will continue until Jesus Christ returns. The interesting thing about this beast however is that it isn’t new but rather existed before, then for a time it didn’t appear to exist and then came into existence again. This is what the angel told John when he explained the meaning of the beast in Rev 17:

8The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (Rev 17:8)

So if this beast existed before, which is denoted by the use of the past tense “was”, then there must be some evidence that points to its identity. Do the scriptures therefore give us any “clues” then as to the identity of this beast? Indeed it has. If we look at Rev 12 we shall learn beyond the shadow of a doubt exactly who or what this “beast that was” is.

3And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. 5And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. 6And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. (Rev 12:3-6)

Here in this portion of scripture we see the same depiction of a beast with 7 heads and 10 horns except that this time it is depicted as a dragon but this is simply metaphorical. This is especially the case since we know that it was the dragon who gave the beast with the seven heads and ten horns his power, seat and authority (Rev 13:2). It goes without saying therefore that this beast of Rev 13 is the one and the same being depicted as a dragon in Rev 12:3-6, quoted above.  What we need to understand here though is that the woman in this scripture that was about to give birth, who the beast stood before to devour her child, is none other than Israel and the child in question was Jesus Christ, The Messiah, The Risen Saviour. So who then was this beast that was already in existence at the time of Christ’s birth and which sought to devour Him? The answer simply is Rome. In other words Rome was the ruling head of the beast and which sought to kill Jesus. If we recall from scripture, Matt 2:16, it was Herod the Roman surrogate King of Judea who issued the decree to kill all the male children from two years old and under. This was the dragon’s plan at work to devour the male Child and which is spoken of in Rev 12. It should be noted here that the beast is a world kingdom and at the time of Jesus’ birth Rome ruled most of the known world. This is therefore the beast that was and the future beast (world kingdom) will incorporate Rome as well. We know this because Rev 17:14 tells us:

11And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.

Here we see that the beast that was and is not is the eighth and is of the previous seven kings (or heads).

From what we have learn from the scriptures then, the beast cannot be led by Muslims nations although certain Muslim nations may very well be incorporated into it since we know that the beast is given authority over the whole world. But what should be clear is that the “beast that was” was led by Rome and must necessarily incorporate Rome when it arises to prominence again in the future.

Who are the ‘elect’? April 20, 2010

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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There seems to be much confusion particularly amongst pre-tribulation rapturists concerning the identity of the “elect” in Matt 24:

 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

 Could the elect mentioned here be Israel as some ministers teach? Indeed in we know from the scriptures that Israel God’s elect:

 4 For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. (Isaiah 45:4)

 So clearly under the Old Covenant, at least, Israel was very much God’s elect. But under the New Covenant dispensation is it only Israel that constitutes God’s elect? According to the scriptures the answer to that is no. Here are some scriptures which defines God’s elect as pertaining to the New Covenant:

 1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; (Tit 1:1)

 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. 7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. (Rom 11:7)

 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; (Col 3:12)

 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 1:10-11)

 We can now see from the above scriptures that the faith of God’s elect is the gospel of salvation which Paul was made an apostle of. We also see that we can only obtain this faith through the election of grace and we are called to put on the fruits of the spirit (mercy, kindness etc) as God’s elect and give due diligence in making our calling and election sure. It is clear then that the elect as pertaining to the New Covenant is the church, which includes a remnant of Israel but who are no longer regarded as Jews (see Rom 11). We should remember here that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek (Gal 3:28, Col 3:11). The elect which are mentioned in Matt 24 which Jesus will gather at His coming are therefore the church. There can be no doubt about this since the Old Covenant decays and vanishes away and under the New Covenant there is neither Jew nor Greek (or Gentiles).

Busting the Pre-tribulation Rapture Myth! April 18, 2010

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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79 comments

As I read the scriptures the more I find evidence which completely destroys the pre-tribulation rapture “theory”. Though I would not call myself a student of eschatology nor have I conducted much study on the subject, my excursions into this area has opened me up to certain truths that have been missed by students who have been studying this subject area for years. One of those simple truth is that if there were going to be a pre-tribulation rapture or even a mid-tribulation rapture then the disciples doesn’t seem to have been aware of it. The Apostle Peter for example, who was with Jesus from the time of His early ministry doesn’t seem to have any knowledge of a pre-tribulation rapture when he wrote the following passage:

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:10-16)

What do we learn from this passage then? From verse 10 we learn that the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night (Matt 24:43, 1 Thess 5:20). It should be noted here that pre-tribulation supporters are agreed that “the Lord coming as a thief in the night” is the same day of the rapture which the unsaved will not be aware of due to the fact that Jesus comes hidden in the clouds and only those that are caught up with Him will see Him. As a result everyone else that are “Left Behind” will be here to face the tribulation during the anti-christ’s reign. However we also learn from verse 10 of the above passage that at the day when the Lord comes as a thief in the night, “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” John describes the same event though in slightly different language in Revelations 6:12-17. This picture therefore does not fit with the pre-tribulation rapture theory then because every one on earth will be able to see that the heavens have dissolved and departed. So then it is either this day which Peter speaks of is the day when Jesus visibly returns to earth or there is another separate day in which Jesus comes to perform the pre-tribulation rapture then comes visibly to earth. However, there is no such day that can be found in scripture anywhere. From the prophets of old through to the present the day of the Lord has been spoken of as a single day and not two days. Here is the clincher. Peter says in verse 12 that “we” should be “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God”.

Question: If the rapture takes place before the day of God, a day in which the heavens are dissolved or depart as a scroll why is Peter admonishing “us” to look for and haste unto the coming of this day? This of course would be irrelevant if the church would not be around (on earth) to witness this day. So what he should have said then is that “we” should be looking for and hasting unto the coming of the rapture – but he did not say that.

Question: If “we” (the church) are looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, will this day happen before the tribulation or after the tribulation spoken by Jesus in Matt 24:21? The answer can be found here in the following scripture:

29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matt 24:29-31)

In conclusion, we have therefore learn that the day of the Lord, which comes as a thief in the night will occur “immediately after the tribulation of those days”. This is the same day spoken of by Paul in I Thess 5:2. So in spite of Peter being privy to all the epistles which Paul had written to the church (see verses 15-16); privy to the Olivet Discourse prophesies since he was there in person; privy to the scriptures of Daniel; he seems to demonstrate a distinct lack of knowledge concerning a pre-tribulation rapture. The implication then is that neither Paul’s epistles nor the scriptures in Luke or even Daniel can be used to support the pre-tribulation rapture position. Where then is the evidence for the pre-tribulation or even mid-tribulation position?

What is your Goal in Life? April 13, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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2 comments

Today we have a lot of pastors and teachers who “preach” motivational speak in church encouraging people to find out what God’s will for their life is. They further encourage church folk to establish their goals and to write them down on a piece of paper and work towards achieving them. These goals usually relate to career objectives, finances, business, marriage and family etc. So then, if you are reading this and you are one of those people who follow such practices of writing down your goals and set a course to achieving them, which goal do you put at the top of your list? Is it to “reign in life” and live the “abundant life” as defined by Word of Faith-ers? Is it to make your first million by the age of 30? Is it to pay off your mortgage or own a six-bedroom house? Is it to rise to the top of your field or profession? Is it to attain a first class degree or one with Summa Cum Laude?  Is it to get married and have a family in five years? Now I am not saying there is anything wrong in wanting some of these things but are any of these your primary goal?

 Perhaps you have never given much thought to this question or you find it a bit too challenging to answer or you have perhaps already decided on one of the examples mentioned above but here is what the Apostle Paul had to say in Eph 4:11-13:

 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

 Our goal as Christians and as believers in the Gospel of Christ is to “come into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Our primary objective should be to “attain to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ”. Why? 9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power (Col 2:9-10) Paul again makes it clear here that it is in Jesus that the fullness of the Godhead dwells and in Him are we made complete. Indeed one or more of the aforementioned goals may give us a sense of self-actualization and personal pride but all of this is worthless if we do not have Christ at the heart of our lives because it is in Him that we are made complete.

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