Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Words Matter!

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

During the last presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton decided to make the point that Barack Obama was all smooth talk with no substance. In her attack on him she said that "talk is cheap" and that words were nothing without action.

Her attack really riled Obama, and he fired back with these memorable words (which he plagiarized word for word from a speech by Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts):1

Don't tell me words don't matter. "I have a dream" — just words? "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal" — just words? Just words? "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" — just words? Just speeches?

Obama was right, words do matter. They matter a lot. The old saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," is a lie. Words can hurt, and hurt deeply. They can even destroy. Just tell a child repeatedly that he or she is "dumb" and watch how it impacts their life.


Euphemisms

Euphemisms have always been a part of language, as people have used substitute words or phrases to soften the impact of something they want to say. So, instead of calling a person a liar, one might say, "I think you may have your facts wrong." Or, instead of describing a person as being fat, you might say the person is "plump" or "heavy set."

Euphemisms are motivated by politeness. Instead of referring to a friend's occupation as a "garbage man," you might call him a "sanitation worker." Instead of describing a family member as "retarded," you might call him "mentally challenged." Rather than ask how to find a "toilet," you will probably ask directions to a restroom.

An interesting example of a euphemism can be found in the Bible. Since the name of God — Yahweh — was considered sacred by the Jews, they refused to pronounce it out loud. So, when reading the Scriptures orally, they developed a tradition of substituting the word, Adonai (Lord), for Yahweh. When the translators were preparing the King James Version, they decided to follow this tradition by injecting a translation code. When Yahweh appeared in a verse, they indicated its presence with the word, LORD (all in caps). When the word Adonai appeared, it was rendered as Lord.

Euphemisms constantly change. What was accepted as proper yesterday might be considered highly improper today. "Negro" became "Colored" and then was followed by "Black" and "Afro-American." Today, the only acceptable term is "African-American," a term I personally don't like and refuse to use because I consider it divisive for us to think of each other in hyphenated terms. I am reminded of a t-shirt I saw on a teenage Black boy at a mall. On the back of the shirt, it read:

I'm not Black.
I'm not Colored.
I'm not African-American.
I'm a born-again Child of God!


Political Correctness

In modern times the use of euphemisms has been elevated to a fine art through the development of political correctness, often referred to as "PC." Despite its many negatives, there are some positive aspects to this movement. For example, it has been effective in subduing the use of ethnic slurs like Nigger, Gringo, Kike, Dago, Kraut, Mick, and Camel Jockey.

Even so, it can result in some crazy situations. Consider what happened at a City Council meeting in Washington, D.C. in 1999. While discussing the city's budget for the next year, an aide to the mayor said he thought the budget was "niggardly." That is a word that means "stingy" or "miserly." Despite the fact that it was a legitimate word, all hell broke loose, and the aide was fired for speaking a "racial slur." (He was later rehired.)2

Another positive aspect of PC is that it has motivated the change in a lot of job titles that were once male-dominated and reflected that fact in the name. Mailman has become "Mail Carrier." Fireman is now "Fire Fighter." A policeman has become a "Public Safety Officer." Chairmen are now referred to as "Chair Persons." But some of these make-overs have gotten out of hand, as when a gas station attendant is referred to as "a petroleum transfer technician" and a car wash worker is called "a vehicle-appearance specialist."

This kind of nonsense prompted the comedian, Henny Youngman, to claim that his brother-in-law was a "diamond cutter." His actual job was mowing the field at Yankee Stadium!


Negative Aspects of PC

Unfortunately, most political correctness is not positive in nature. That's because it is used by Liberals to promote their political agendas. They also use it as a powerful form of censorship. On most university campuses today, students have to be very careful what they say or else they can get in trouble with the thought police and even be required to attend sensitivity-training.

Liberals use political correctness to disguise sin and thus make it more palatable. A sexual pervert becomes a "sexually dysfunctional person." A prostitute is referred to as a "sex worker." Homosexuals are "gay people." Gambling is "gaming."

As you can see from these examples, Liberals use PC to soften the image of behavior they are sympathetic to but which the general public finds unacceptable, usually because the behavior violates Judeo-Christian principles which the Liberals hold in contempt.


Abuses of PC

PC becomes a form of censorship when it is used to force people into conformity. For example, a person could get into trouble today on the job or in school for making reference to an "American Indian." The politically correct terminology is "Native American." I personally refuse to use that term because I consider it to be nonsensical. I was born and raised in the United States. If I am not a Native American, then what am I? Some sort of alien?


Thanksgiving PC

Another example of PC being used as a form of censorship can be found in the fact that more and more academic journals will not publish papers that use the terms B.C. or A.D. because these terms reference time to the birth of Jesus. Authors must instead use the terms B.C.E. and C.E. which stand for "Before the Common Era" and the "Common Era."3

PC can also become very tedious, to the point of being downright silly. "Lame" became "crippled," which was then renamed "handicapped," which was subsequently replaced with "disabled." But that was not good enough. Next came "physically challenged." And now, believe it or not, the politically correct term is "differently abled." Or consider the fact that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People now considers the term "colored people" to be a racial slur!

PC can really become dangerous when it is used to advance a political agenda. And this is where the Obama Administration excels. Illegal aliens have suddenly become "undocumented immigrants." Terms like "Islamic terrorism," "Islamic radicalism," and "Muslim extremism" have been banned. The Global War on Terrorism has become "The Overseas Contingency Operation." (The what?) The words, "crusade" and "jihad" have also become taboo.4

Think of it — our government officials can no longer even identify our enemy by name! It would be like FDR issuing an order during World War II that no one in the government could identify our enemies as Japanese Imperialists or German Nazis.


An Ominous Shift in Vocabulary

Realizing how important words are to Liberals in general and to the Obama Administration in particular, you can understand the widespread concern among Christian leaders that has sprung up recently concerning a very subtle but monumental shift in vocabulary within the Obama Administration regarding religious freedom in our nation. It all began in November of 2009 when President Obama spoke in Texas at the memorial service for the victims of the Fort Hood massacre. A few days later he did it again in speeches both in Japan and China. What he did was to substitute the expression "freedom of worship" for "freedom of religion."5

This is an exceedingly important change in terminology. So important, in fact, that in May of this year, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a report expressing grave concern about it.6

Here's the point: freedom of religion includes freedom of worship, but freedom of worship does not include freedom of religion. Freedom of worship gives me the right to pray or read the Bible in the privacy of my home or church, but nothing beyond that. It does not include the freedom to share my faith with others. No freedom to hand out materials on the street or preach in a park. No freedom even to wear a cross around my neck or on my lapel.

Some commentators believe that one of Obama's motives is to throw a sop to China and the Muslim world where freedom of religion is denied but private worship is allowed in some areas. They believe Obama is giving a signal to these nations that we are not going to do anything about their denial of freedom of religion. Others fear he is signaling to the secular leaders in this country that he plans to aide and abet them in their demands for a crackdown on public expressions of religion in our nation.7

Whatever the motives may be, the shift in vocabulary is monumental and must be monitored carefully. Already, it has spread to other Obama Administration officials. In December of 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used the same terminology three times in a speech at Georgetown University. Here is an example:8

To fulfill their potential, people must be free to choose laws and leaders; to share and access information, to speak, criticize, and debate. They must be free to worship, associate, and to love in the way that they choose.

Notice how she referred to "freedom of worship," not freedom of religion. And in passing, I might ask, "Since when has the right 'to love in the way you choose' become one of our basic human or constitutional rights?" Does this guarantee the rights of pedophiles and prostitutes and those engaged in polygamy and bestiality?

Where is the Obama Administration headed with this change in words? Remember, it was Obama himself who said, "Words matter!"


Notes

1) Rachel Sklar, "Yes, You Can Borrow My Speech: Why Obama's Lifted Words Matter," Huffington Post, February 19, 2008, http://www.huffingtonpost.com
2) Wikipedia, "Controversies about the word 'niggardly,'" en.wikipedia.org/wiki.
3) Wikipedia, "Common Era," en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Era.
4) FoxNews.com, "Obama Bans Islam, Jihad From National Security Strategy Document," www.foxnews.com.
5) Paul Cooper, "Why is Obama changing 'freedom of religion' to 'freedom of worship'?" www.rightsidenews.com.
6) USCIRF Annual Report, www.uscirf.gov.
7) Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, "'Freedom of Worship' Worries," Christianity Today, June 22, 2010, www.christianitytoday.com.
8) Hillary Rodham Clinton, "Remarks on the Human Rights Agenda for the 21st Century," www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2009a/12/133544.htm.

Monday, August 30, 2010

An Open Letter Concerning Glenn Beck

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Americans are abuzz over noted author and broadcast personality Glenn Beck. Beck is nationally known by his supporters as a defender of American liberties and by his enemies as an outspoken critic of the current political establishment. Both sides, though, are confused over just what Glenn Beck believes concerning his claim to Christianity and Jesus Christ.

On Saturday, August 28, Beck held a Restoring Honor Rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., presenting such famous speakers as Sarah Palin, Dr. Alveda King and Marcus Luttrell. The purpose of the event, as Beck's website describes, is to "celebrate America by honoring our heroes, our heritage and our future" and remind Americans that "our freedom is possible only if we remain virtuous," calling all patriots to help him "restore the values that founded this great nation."

Just what "values" does Beck see America returning to, though, and where does he derive those values from? Are they from the Bible, or from something else?

Eric BargerThese questions were taken to one of today's foremost defenders of the faith, Eric Barger, the founder and director of Take a Stand! Ministries headquartered in the Dallas area. Eric is an authority on the cults, the New Age, and rock music today. He's generated a letter called "An Open Letter Concerning Glenn Beck" that gives great insight into Glenn Beck's belief system.


An Open Letter Concerning Glenn Beck

Over the last few months there have been many questions and much conversation about the popular broadcaster Glenn Beck and his professed Mormon faith. This letter seeks to identify and clear up the confusion concerning both Beck's stand and about the marked differences between Mormonism and historic, biblical Christianity. Please understand that we do not write these words in an effort to simply be "right" or to win an argument. The purpose of the letter is to determine the truth — something that Glenn Beck himself constantly lauds.

Let us begin by saying that we appreciate the stand Glenn Beck has made concerning our country, its foundation, and the great need for America to come back to God. Many of us have no doubt learned and gleaned information from Beck's thorough research and many fine, conservative guests. In fact, as he has stated many times on his national television program on the Fox News Channel and on his much-listened to radio program, the only hope America, indeed any person or nation, has is to return to and surrender to God. However, therein lies the problem. When Beck speaks of God, informed Christians must immediately question "which God?"

The unsuspecting or those less informed are given the perception that, when Beck mentions God, it must be the same deity that is spoken of as the Creator in the Holy Bible. To what extent Glenn Beck is grounded in Mormon doctrine or understanding may be debatable. However, he indeed presents himself in much the same manner as that of an "evangelical" Christian and also consistently states that he is indeed a Mormon. Let us be clear. Each person reading this must be warned that Glenn Beck's spirituality — which he claims to be the only solution — is not orthodox, historical Christianity in doctrine, beliefs, or practice.

Put bluntly, the basis of Mormonism exists in the idea of godhood for mankind in a doctrine called "The Law of Eternal Progression." This cultic belief states that God was a man as we are now and (through Mormonism and its erroneous teachings) we humans can become "gods" as well. Mormonism's founder, Joseph Smith, wrote, "... You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you..." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 348). Though the modern Mormon Church has tried to appear to be "Christian," this belief is the very core teaching of Mormonism.

On the "Mormon Jesus," Mormon apostle Bruce R. Hunter, a member of Mormonism's "First Council of the Seventy," emphatically wrote, "The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer, son of the morning. Haughty, ambitious, and covetous of power and glory, this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind" (The Gospel Through the Ages, Milton R. Hunter, p. 15). Though the evidence that separates Mormonism from authentic Christianity is overwhelming, just these two examples should give one pause to question whether the Mormon god and Mormonism's unbiblical Jesus could in any way be construed to be the same as that portrayed in God's holy word, the Bible.

In conclusion...
No matter how good the fruit may appear, no matter how much we may agree with his stand on America or politics, no matter how sincere or passionate he may be, we feel it is incumbent on those in apologetics ministry to point out that, if indeed Glenn Beck is a Mormon, he is advocating a religion that is not Christianity in any fashion but instead a false religion responsible for damning the souls of all who follow it. Being close or just using similar terms or phrases do not constitute sound doctrine. These things matter and each of us — Glenn Beck included — need to examine whether we have placed our faith, hope, and trust in the real Jesus who is able to redeem and save a sinner or in one of the many worthless counterfeits such as the "Jesus" of the Mormon Church.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Prophecy Zone Radio With Nathan Jones

Nathan JonesMP3By Nathan Jones

On Saturday, August 21st I was interviewed by Phillip Armstrong of the Prophecy Zone Radio talk show, broadcast on BlogTalkRadio. I came on as the second hour guest on this two part program.


Prophecy Zone Radio

Phillip and I discussed a plethora of end time topics:

  • Israel as a prophetic sign and with its return if that means we are to be the generation that will witness Jesus' return
  • The Rapture of the Church and the biblical proof texts as to why a Pre-Tribulation Rapture is the best argument for its timing
  • Why all the hostility displayed by many Post-Tribulation supporters
  • The origins of the Antichrist — whether he will arise from the European Union, Mediterranean Union, or a Middle Eastern country
  • Order and timing of the wars of the End Times
  • The Seven Churches of Revelation 2-3 and the state the church today
  • The importance of studying the Bible to plumb the depths of the hope it gives us
  • How one can have a personal relationship with God

Listen to the whole program or skip to the second hour just to hear our lively segment.


Play MP3

(My apologies for not having a written transcript of this interview available.)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Quick Q&A: Is a Massive Invasion of Israel Coming?

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Q) Is a massive invasion of Israel coming?

To answer this tough Bible question, Dr. David Reagan and I on a Christ in Prophecy television episode interviewed Dr. Ron Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes is the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former "Bible Answer Man," he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.


Dr. Ron Rhodes

If you look off into the distance and you see a bunch of dark clouds coming on the scene, and you see some lightening and the winds are blowing toward you, then you can kind of know when the rains will be coming down. By being an accurate observer of the times, you can tell that a storm's coming at you. Well, according to the Scripture, there is a northern storm emerging on the scene. Jesus told us to be accurate observers of the times, so look off towards what's happening in Russia and Iran and Turkey and the Sudan and all of those nations over there.

The Bible says that there's going to be a massive invasion of Israel. We don't like to talk about those kinds of things. I mean, we're sick of war. But, the Bible is very clear that there's going to be a massive invasion of Israel.

There's going to be a coalition of nations involved coming from north of Israel. One of the nations involved Ezekiel calls Rosh, and that lies to the uttermost north of Israel. If you were to take a ruler and draw a line straight north from Jerusalem, you're going to reach Russia. Joining Russia will be a variety of Islamic nations including Iran and the Sudan and Libya and Turkey and others.

When Ezekiel wrote back in the 6th Century BC, Islam did not exist. He probably had no idea what would make all these nations unify together. In fact, for many years there have been some more liberal-type Christians who have said these nations are not contiguous or next to each other, therefore it doesn't make sense to say that they are going to join together in a battle. But see, recent history reveals Islam is what joins those nations together. Islam came into being in the 6th and 7th century and that's what unifies them, with the exception of Russia.

Did you know, though, that Russia is 20% Islamic and they've got thousands of Muslim temples over there? Russia also has a long history of aggression against Israel. We saw that in 1967, 1973 and 1982. In each case American Presidents have stared down the Russian bear. When you look at some of the alliances that Putin's building, for example with Iran, how could anyone deny it? He signed not only an agreement in which Iran is provided nuclear weaponry, but he has also signed a 25-year agreement in which Iran gives 500 million dollars a year to Russia in order to build up Iran's military.

Iran while under President Ahmadinejad has said that he would like to see Israel wiped off the map. He has said we're going to see very soon what it's like to live in a US-free and Israel-free world.

I think that the stage is being set. I'm not one of those people who likes to set dates. That's not a healthy thing. In fact, Christ told us not to, so I don't want to imply any date or anything like that. But, I will tell you that Jesus told us to be accurate observers of the times. As I observe what's taking place with Russia and Iran and Turkey and the Sudan and Libya, not only are these nations aligning with each other, but every one of them has a motive to hate Israel. These nations stand against Israel. They believe that Israel belongs to them. They believe that Allah promised that Holy Land to them and that in our Bible the Old Testament has been changed by Jews and Christians, but originally they say the land was promised to the Muslims. They accuse Israel of basically stealing something that wasn't theirs back in 1948 when they became a nation.

Now, of course, there's been recent overtures in trying to build the Palestinian state and divide Jerusalem. The Muslims don't want a part of Jerusalem — they want all of it! They're going to go to war one day over it. I see what is taking place right now is setting the stage for this eventual storm that will just come in like gangbusters.

Despite the ominous storm, God is going to stand for Israel. He who stands for Israel does not sleep or slumber, as Psalm 121 tells us.

You know what's interesting, though? Israel is going to be so overwhelmed when this invasion takes place that there's not going to be a chance of Israel's survival. When God actually turns back the invading force, it's like everybody's going to recognize God's hand. I want you to notice that when God speaks, He says that they may know that "I am the Lord thy God." Now, this is the same language we see in the Exodus account when God delivered Israel from the Egyptians, "That they may know that I am the Lord thy God." In fact, Ezekiel says point blank it'll be done in such a way that even the Jews will realize it came from God, so I think there's going to be massive conversions as a result of this.

I've heard some people say that when this coalition army gets destroyed that the Antichrist might stand up and try to take credit for it. I suppose that's possible. I've heard some people like Dr. Dwight Pentecost say that. But, the text indicates that God is going to get the glory for this. God says that "they may know that I am the Lord thy God." A lot of people are going to become acquainted with Yahweh for the first time.

The 144,000 Jews that become witnesses during the Tribulation might convert because of God's victory in the Ezekiel 38-39 Gog-Magog Battle. I think those 144,000 witnesses will be kind of like 144,000 Jewish Billy Grahams going all over the world witnessing. I also think there's going to be conversions based upon the two witnesses of Revelation 11.

I also think that when Christians vanish off the planet, all our books are going to be left behind. I think that many people are going to turn to the Lord as the result of that. That was really my goal in writing my book titled Northern Storm Rising. I believe that one of the ministries God has called me to is to communicate effectively with people. The truth is that the Bible is one of the most exciting books in existence and if I can help communicate that excitement in what I write then I've succeeded. If people get anything from this book, it's that God is in control of human history and that the Bible can be absolutely trusted in its prophecies.

If I didn't believe in a sovereign God today, I'd have a lot to worry about. Our world seems to be spinning out of control in so many different ways. But, God is directing human history toward its culmination, and one day when you and I have been with Christ for billions of years we're going to look back on all of this and just marvel at the way that God directed the circumstances on earth towards its end.


Nathan's IMHO

With Russia supplying nuclear know-how and materials to Iran to build their nuclear power plant and nuclear weapons, to Iran's boisterous threats to destroy Israel and the United States with their growing weapons stockpile, to Turkey doing a 180 in leaving behind diplomatic relations with Israel and allying itself with Iran, to the unification of Middle Eastern countries under the Koran, to the economic and political alliances made between all the players of the Gog-Magog Coalition that exist this very day — everything seems to be in place for the fulfillment of Ezekiel's prophecy in chapters 38-39. And yet, there is one piece still missing.

The nations comprising the Gog-Magog Coalition are missing the nations that immediately border the nation of Israel — Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza and Egypt. These nations are either openly hostile or in a tenuous peace accord with Israel. Those who say they have peace practice war games and invasion scenarios that strategize the destruction of Israel, so the peace is only superficial at best. These nations would never sit out an all-out Islamic invasion of Israel, and have to fit into the prophetic picture somehow.

The missing piece and most likely next step in prophetic events is most likely found in Psalm 83. Psalm 83 is read as an imprecatory prayer, in that it calls down judgment and justice upon an enemy. In Psalm 83, all the nations it lists have modern equivalents as the nations that surround Israel. Israel has never fully subjugated those lands since becoming a nation again in 1948, and so Psalm 83 has never been totally fulfilled. If a Psalm 83 conquest were to happen, it would answer the question as to why the Ezekiel 38-39 Gog-Magog countries do not include the nations bordering Israel, but instead only comprise of an outer ring of Islamic nations.

Psalm 83 is only a prophetic theory, but a logical one that fills in a gap long questioned. It also provides a required peaceful precondition to the Gog-Magog Battle because the outer ring of Muslim nations would fear Israel's greater expanse of power in the region and control of more resources. The resources Israel would acquire on top of their newly found gas wealth would drive the leader of the invading coalition designated Gog to desire to plunder Israel, the impetus behind the Gog-Magog Invasion.

For more on the timing of the Gog-Magog Battle, check out the articles Timing Magog and The Wars of the End Times. For a "Christ in Prophecy" television interview with Bill Salus, author of the Psalm 83-themed book Isralestine, visit his website Prophecy Depot or Lamb & Lion Ministries' Programs page.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Quick Q&A: Will the Antichrist Come From the Ottoman Empire?

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Q) Will the Antichrist not originate from the Roman Empire, but rather instead the Ottoman Empire, and will he be a Muslim?

To answer this tough Bible question, Dr. David Reagan and I on a Christ in Prophecy television episode interviewed Dr. Ron Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes is the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former "Bible Answer Man," he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.


Dr. Ron Rhodes

A very faddish thing has developed recently in Bible prophecy. It is the idea that the empire that will be revived in the end times will not be the Roman Empire but the Ottoman Empire, and that the Antichrist will come out of that Ottoman Empire and he will be the one who will rule over it. In fact, not only do some say it's going to be the Ottoman Empire and the Antichrist is going to be a Muslim, but they argued that it's hyperbole when the Bible says that the Antichrist is going to rule over all the nations of the earth. Instead, the theory goes that he's really just going to rule over the Middle East.

I think, though, that the Scriptures are very clear that the Antichrist's empire is from a revived Roman Empire. When we look at Daniel in his writings, he talks very specifically about how the Antichrist would come from the people who overran Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple. That happened in 70 AD. It wasn't the Muslims that overcame Jerusalem. They didn't even exist at that time, as Islam was founded by Muhammad 600 years later. And so, to say that could possibly apply even metaphorically to Muhammad or to Islam would be just reading something into the text that's not there.

I also think about Daniel 7, where it talks about how a little horn emerges out of ten horns right there with them. That indicates to me that whole context is about the Roman Empire that will reemerge. And so, this ruler comes out of the Roman Empire. He is said to be of the same people who overcame Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple, which was Titus and his Roman warriors who destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70. If words mean anything, it is a Roman Empire.

Furthermore, I think that the idea that the Antichrist will be a Muslim, that really kind of runs amiss in terms of what Islam teaches when you think about it. For example, Islam believes in the Islamic creed, "there's one God named Allah and Muhammad is his prophet." They will not tolerate any other claims to deity. In 2 Thessalonians 2 it's talking about the Antichrist and it says that he is going to go into the Temple, exalt himself above every god or object of worship, take his seat in the Temple and display himself as being God. Well, for a Muslim to do that, especially in view of the Islam creed which says that "there's one god named Allah," and in view of the very clear Islamic teaching that Allah can have no partners, it becomes an impossibility.

Further, just consider how it stretches credulity to say that this individual according to Daniel 9:27 will sign a pact guaranteeing protection for Israel. Why would a Muslim sign a pact guaranteeing protection to Israel? I mean, if there's any group of people who want to see the destruction of Israel, it is Muslims. So, how would that work?

Not only that, but I believe that this invasion of Muslim countries into Israel will probably take place before the Rapture, or after the Rapture but before the Tribulation, or at least the very beginning of the Tribulation, somewhere in there. If the Muslim nations are largely destroyed by judgment, as seems to be indicated in Ezekiel 38 and 39, how will an Antichrist emerge from the ashes of what used to be a very strong group of people but now are almost gone?

Anyway you look at it, there're just all kinds of variables that do not fit this idea that the Antichrist could be a Muslim.

Daniel even says that he will have no regard for the gods of his father, but he will claim that he is above all gods. How can a Muslim say that? No, a Muslim couldn't possibly say that. In fact, one of the things that Muslims get mad about in terms of Christians today is claiming that Jesus is the Son of God. They say that's absolute blasphemy because that means that God has partners.

For those same people who would say the one-world religion will be Islam, I've done a lot of thinking about the coming one-world religion. Now, just think about it. The Rapture takes place before the Tribulation, that's what I believe. So, the Christians are removed. If in fact this invasion into Israel by Russia and the Muslim nations takes place before the Tribulation or maybe at the very beginning of the Tribulation, then Muslims are largely taken out of the picture, too. To me that opens up the door for the easy emergence of both the Antichrist and the great power as well as a one-world religion. And so to me it just fits chronologically very, very well.

Concerning the argument that this is going to be a local empire and not a world-wide empire and that that's hyperbole when Revelation says that, if a prophecy as you read it in the past came true literally and if you look at all the prophecies that deal for example with the First Coming of Christ and see how absolutely literal they were fulfilled, then the indication is that all the other prophecies that deal with the Second Coming and events associated with it will be fulfilled just as literally. So, there's no room for spiritualizing in my opinion. Very often in the Old Testament you've got things referring to both the First and Second Coming within the same basic passage. As the first part was literally fulfilled, so the second part will be literally fulfilled.

The proper policy is to read the Bible first. Let the Bible speak for itself and then as Jesus said in Matthew 16, to be accurate observers of the times.


Nathan's IMHO

Daniel 9:26 tells of the origins of the Antichrist, "The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary." In other words, the Antichrist will arise from the people group that destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. That occurred in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.

Some like Sid Roth, Joel Richardson, and Walid Shoebat teach the current fad "Beast from the East" view, that the Antichrist will be a Muslim and the Mahdi, the Islamic messiah. The whole theory of a Muslim Antichrist is based on the incorrect historical account of what groups of people made up the Roman legions who destroyed the Temple in 70 AD, a full 530 years before Islam came into existence.

As Sean Osborne of Eschatology Today reveals from history, the Roman army that destroyed the Temple is 70 AD were those of the Legio X Fretensis, Legio V Macedonica and Legio XV Apollinaris, under the command of Roman General Titus Vespasianus. The soldiers of Legio X were Italians from the region of the Straits of Messina; Legio XV from the mixed Illyrian-Celtic people of the region of Pannonia along the Danube River, and Legio V were of the Thraco-Illyrian people in the region of the lower Danube formerly known as Moesia. In sum, the "people of the prince" were Europeans and Roman citizens.

The Jews of the First Century would have recognized the destroyers of the Temple to be orchestrated from Rome and so recognize "the people" then as Romans. It's possible that the Romans could have been lumped into the larger unbelieving Gentile world, but the text is pretty specific about the people group — Romans, not Syrians.

For the Antichrist to originate from the Middle East and Islam is religiously problematic. If Russia-Iran-Turkey is wiped out in the Ezekiel 38-39 attack God miraculously delivers Israel from, and Israel's surrounding nations seem to be non-players in most of the Tribulation, how could Islam dominate the Middle East and the Antichrist be Muslim? It would seem such defeats would dishearten any Muslim. Also, if the Antichrist is supposedly not into women and could be gay (Dan. 11:37), the Muslims would want him dead, right? Also, the Antichrist glorifies himself. Even the Mahdi couldn't do that, for worship alone is for Allah.

I'd have to conclude on these and other verses that Islam is just another system that will be wiped out before the Antichrist instills his system and makes a grab for the Middle East riches that Israel will also be claiming, hence a peace treaty and the taking over of all former Roman Empire lands.

Those who fight tooth and nail over origins, though, tend to hold to a Post-Tribulation Rapture view, and are deeply concerned that they have to be able to recognize who the Antichrist will be so as not to be deceived. I, on the other hand, believe the Church will not be around to worry about the Antichrist or even past a study interest care where he originates from due to the Rapture occurring before the Antichrist ever comes on the scene.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Quick Q&A: Is the Rapture Too New an Idea?

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Q) Is the whole idea of a Rapture, separate and apart from the Second Coming, too new an idea to be true?

To answer this tough Bible question, Dr. David Reagan and I on a Christ in Prophecy television episode interviewed Dr. Ron Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes is the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former "Bible Answer Man," he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.


Dr. Ron Rhodes

That's a common complaint. There are people out there who even argue that the idea of a Rapture is so recent in Church History that it came from Margaret MacDonald, a teenager. And, you know what's interesting? If you actually look at her writings, she comes out to be a cross between Post-Trib and Partial-Trib in viewpoints. A lot of Post-Tribs are going around talking about this as if it's a gospel truth.

One of the things that you also have to keep in mind is that especially during the early centuries of Christianity, Roman Catholicism was predominate. If a person didn't agree with what they taught their life was basically in danger.

If we want to get back to the earliest writings, I certainly believe that the apostles Paul and John and some of the others taught a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, if you look at their writings.

If we're going to let Scripture speak for itself and words actually mean something, then the Pre-Trib position is correct. You've got to do a lot of spiritualizing in my opinion to get to the other timing positions.


Nathan's IMHO

Some will argue that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is just "too new" to be considered viable. Critics will point to the origin of the modern Pre-Tribulation view and credit John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) with its founding. But, is that assessment historically accurate? Indeed, it is not.

The Early Church fathers' such as Barnabas (ca.100-105), Papias (ca. 60-130), Justin Martyr (110-195), Irenaeus (120-202), Tertullian (145-220), Hippolytus (ca. 185-236), Cyprian (200-250), and Lactantius (260-330) wrote on the imminent return of Jesus Christ, the central argument for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view.

Biblical truth is determined by Scripture, and not how that teaching has been perceived at different times during history. When Augustine began spiritualizing the Bible, his view of a non-literal interpretation took hold of the church until the Renaissance, obliterating the Premillennial and Pre-Tribulation Rapture views in favor of Amillennialism. But, some Medieval writers such as Ephraem of Nisibis (306-373), Abbot Ceolfrid's Latin Codex Amiatinus (ca. 690-716), and Brother Dolcino wrote statements that distinguish the Rapture from the Second Coming.

When the chains of allegorical interpretation began to fall off beginning with the Reformation in the 1400 and 1500s, writers such as Joseph Mede (1586-1638), Increase Mather (1639-1723), Peter Jurieu (1687), Philip Doddridge (1738), John Gill (1748), James Macknight (1763), Thomas Scott (1792) and Morgan Edwards (1722-1795) all wrote concerning the Rapture occurring separate from the Second Coming. Even in the more modern church, those like William Witherby (1818) were precursors to John Darby in support of the view.

The Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is indeed then not only biblical, but supported throughout Church history.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Quick Q&A: When Will the Rapture Occur?

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Q) When is the Rapture going to occur? What will be the timing in relation to the Tribulation?

To answer this tough Bible question, Dr. David Reagan and I on a Christ in Prophecy television episode interviewed Dr. Ron Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes is the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former "Bible Answer Man," he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.


Dr. Ron Rhodes

I'm a firm believer that the Rapture of the Church is going to happen before the Tribulation, and there's a number of reasons why I say that.

I'd say the most important reason is that the Church has no purpose for being in the Tribulation. The Scriptures clearly define the purpose of the Tribulation and I believe it's two-fold: there's going to be a judgment on unbelieving nations and there's also going to be a purging of Israel.

The Church has no business even being in the Tribulation. Now, that's aside from the fact that there's not a single verse dealing with the Tribulation in the Old Testament that mentions the Church. There's not a single verse in the New Testament dealing with the Tribulation that mentions the Church.

We are told in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 as well as 1 Thessalonians 5:9 that the Church is not appointed to wrath. That leads me to believe that God is going to take the Church out of the world prior to the time of wrath which is coming upon the world. I also think this is related to Revelation 3:10 where the Church has promised deliverance from the actual time period of testing that is going to come upon the earth.

One of my favorite verses is John 14:1-3, which I don't think fits a Post-Tribulation scenario at all. Jesus says, "I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." In other words, Jesus is going to take Christians back to Heaven. That doesn't fit the Post-Tribulation scenario which says that they all stay on the earth.

Imminence is absolute. That's the assumption that is always present. There's nothing that needs to take place before the Rapture of the Church. It could happen at any moment. But, there are many events that must take place before the Second Coming. If you had a nice little calendar you could pretty much tell when Christ was going to come again. You could watch, for example, when the Antichrist signs the peace pact with Israel in Daniel 9:27 and do a countdown of seven years, which is also called the Seventieth Week of Daniel.

When we're talking about the Rapture, we don't see signs that are prophesied prior to that event. So you see, it is an imminent event. It's something that could happen at any moment.


Nathan's IMHO

The Bible teaches about the Rapture of the Church. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 speaks of an event called "the Rapture", Latin "rapio," Greek "harpazo," which means "to catch up, to snatch away, or to take out." "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."

Paul states that the concept of the Rapture is meant to encourage believers during this Age (1 Thes. 4:18). Other references on the Rapture are Isa. 26:19-21; Mal. 3:17; Jn. 14:1-14; I Cor. 15:51-58; and 1 Thes. 4:13-18.

There will be a Pre-Tribulation Rapture because the Church isn't destined to endure God's judgment on the world, as promised in 1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9; Rom. 5:9; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:4; and Rev. 3:10.

A great explanation that points to the timing of the Rapture comes from Jesus in the Parable of the 10 Virgins in Matthew 25. This story is about the Bride of Christ (the Church of 2 Cor. 11:2) being prepared for the Rapture and Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Jesus). This parable goes with what Jesus stressed in His teachings concerning end times. Over and over He told His disciples to be ready for His return at any moment (Matt. 24:44). Jesus used the Parable of the Ten Virgins to illustrate this point.

Five virgins were not ready when the bridegroom came and were thus left behind. "Be on the alert, then," Jesus warned, "for you do not know the day nor the hour" (Matt. 25:1-13). On another occasion, Jesus put it this way, "Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps alight... for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect" (Lk. 12:35, 40). And, while the virgins left behind may have a form of godliness, they are not saved and so are not qualified to be members of the Church, and are therefore not ready to be included in the Rapture.

Evidences of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture also come from Paul who comforted the Church of Thessalonica in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 when he wrote, "Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come." The church there was concerned that they had missed the Rapture and were living in the Tribulation. Paul assures them in verse 3 to "Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction." In other words, they'd know if they were living in the Tribulation.

The only hope that comforts someone staring into the face of the horrors of the Tribulation is that they would not have to endure it. These words from Paul and in 1 Thes. 4:18 provide that very encouragement and hope of the Lord rapturing the Church beforehand.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Quick Q&A: Are We Near the Return of Jesus?

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Q) Are we getting really close to Jesus' return?

To answer this tough Bible question, Dr. David Reagan and I on a Christ in Prophecy television episode interviewed Dr. Ron Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes is the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former "Bible Answer Man," he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.


Dr. Ron Rhodes

I think that we are.

Let's recognize the key foundational prophecy for this conclusion — Israel has become a nation again and the Jews are streaming back into the Holy Land. It's interesting that back in the 1800's a couple of prophecy experts were writing about the eventual rebirth of the nation of Israel. Everybody was saying, "No, it will never happen. That's just an impossibility." But, then in 1948 it really did happen. It's an amazing unfolding of events!

I think Israel's return sets the stage for everything else to happen. If that one thing had not happened, I have a problem in all other end time prophecies because that fulfillment really is the foundation on which to build from.

Beyond Israel's return, we've got all kinds of other evidences that we are living in the season of the Lord's return. For example, we've got a movement today towards the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple. Money is being raised, blueprints have been drawn, and people are gathering the paraphernalia. People are working on interacting with the Jewish people over there to give them the dream and the vision and so forth to rebuild.

Beyond that, the alignment of nations that will one day form a coalition against Israel exists. That coalition would include Russia and Iran and the Sudan and Libya and Turkey. All those nations are even now forming alliances with each other. The European Union I believe sort of sets the stage for the return of the Roman Empire.

The way I like to look at it is this: If you can imagine a bunch of lines intersecting each other at some point in the near future, one of these lines is the Jewish Temple, another of these lines is the rebirth of Israel, all these different prophecies are coming true, apparently intersecting at some point in the near future. And so, it's the accumulative weight of all of those evidences that leads me to believe that indeed we are living in the very end times.


Nathan's IMHO

If Jesus is returning soon, as Dr. Rhodes shows the evidences clearly indicate, then what will His return look like for you?

If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, then the Bible says Jesus will take from the world you and those others who have accepted Him as Savior up to Him in an event called the Rapture (John 14:1-14; 1 Corinthians 15:51-59; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

But, if you have yet to receive Jesus' lifeline of salvation, then there will be seven more years for you until Jesus returns, assuming you don't die first. These are the events that will lead up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

These next events could happen before the Rapture, but most likely will occur after. They center around the nation of Israel as it grows in size to defeat it's hostile neighbors. Russia, Iran, Turkey and a host of Islamic nations will form an alliance to destroy Israel, but they will be soundly defeated supernaturally by weather and in-fighting. Damascus will be destroyed in one day (Isaiah 17; Jeremiah 49). The result will be that the world will recognize God was certainly involved in Israel's victory (see Ezekiel 38-39).

The following events are sure to happen after the Rapture. A one world leader whom the Bible calls "Antichrist" will rise to world power (Daniel 9:26-27; Revelation 6:1-2). He will desecrate the newly rebuilt Jewish Temple after 3 1/2 years and his promoter called the False Prophet will force the world to worship the Antichrist (Revelation 13).

Seven years of Tribulation will ravage the world through war, famine, economic collapse and environmental devastation (Revelation 6; 8; 9; 12; 16).

God's purpose for this terrible Tribulation is to pour out His wrath on humanity for thousands of years of rebellion (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 15:1). But, it is also to bring people to make a choice — to choose God or not. The choice will be made plain.

God's efforts to rescue people from their sins will not cease during the Tribulation. In Jerusalem, two men will appear and preach there for 3 1/2 years that Jesus is the Messiah the Jews have been looking for (Revelation 11:3). 144,000 Jews will call Jesus their Messiah and also preach about Him throughout the whole world. Millions will accept Jesus as their Savior, and die for their faith.

At the end of the 7-year Tribulation, the Antichrist will lead a great army into the Valley of Jezreel (Armageddon) for a final battle against Israel. This is the event that marks Jesus' Second Coming (Zechariah 14:1-21; Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-27; Revelation 19:11-21). The believers in Christ who were raptured years earlier and God's angelic forces will follow Jesus the King of Kings into His Second Coming to the earth to meet in battle, but only Jesus Himself will engage the Antichrist's armies. With mere words, Jesus defeats the nations in siege against Jerusalem (Revelation 19).

The survivors of the Tribulation are gathered by the angels and judged before Christ. Those who have accepted Jesus live on into Jesus' 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom. Those who had rejected Christ are sent to punishment in Hades awaiting the Great White Throne Judgment held at the end of the Millennium which results in them being thrown into the Lake of Fire, also called Hell (Matthew 13:36-43; 49-50; 25). Jesus' 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom will be a time of peace, righteousness and justice, and after the final judgment eternity will be even better (Ezekiel 40-48; Revelation 20:1-6).

Where do you stand on God today? Have you accepted His Son Jesus Christ's death on your behalf (John 3:16, 36; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 5:8; 10:9-10)? Have you asked Jesus to be your Savior and rescue you from eternal death and the terrible events that are coming? Do you want to meet Christ in joy in the Rapture, or in dread at the end of the seven years of Tribulation, should you survive somehow? The choice is yours.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quick Q&A: Is Jesus the Only Way to Heaven?

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Q) Is Jesus the only way to Heaven?

To answer this tough Bible question, Dr. David Reagan and I on a Christ in Prophecy television episode interviewed Dr. Ron Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes is the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former "Bible Answer Man," he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.


Dr. Ron Rhodes

I've been asked that question a lot of times and a lot of times people will say I'm being narrow-minded in claiming that Jesus is the only way. I don't think that that's being narrow-minded. There are some things that are narrow that are good. Sometimes there's only one operation that will save your life. Sometimes there is only one road out of the forest. There's only one correct formula for some of the popular soft drinks. I want my wife Carrie to be faithful to her one-and-only for her entire life. That's narrow, but it's good. When I fly from California to Texas I not only want the pilot to land in Dallas, but I want him to land on the right runway. That's narrow, but it's good. And so, yes, God's way of salvation is narrow, but it's good.

God's heart is wide open. He offers this narrow gift to people who are rich or poor. It doesn't matter what your skin color is. It doesn't matter whether you're male or female. God's heart is wide open and He offers that same wonderful gift to all people.

As for Jesus being the only way, it's ridiculous to say that all religions lead to God. They all have different concepts of every doctrine. If one is true, the others are necessarily false. The truth is that all religions are essentially different and only superficially the same.

It's really important to understand that while all the other religions basically try to take bad men and make them better by ethics, Christianity seeks to take dead men and make them alive. You see, we are dead in sin, and dead people can't help themselves. They need an external savior to come in and rescue them, and that's exactly what Jesus has done.

Every other religion also emphasizes works as opposed to Christianity that says we're going to be saved by grace through faith. Christianity paints man's problem as worse than any other religion. You see, all the other religions say, "Well you've got some ethical problems so you need to do some good works." But, Christianity says, "Listen, even your good works are like filthy rags compared to God. You're unholy. You're defiled in just about every way. So, there's no way that you can work your way to salvation." But, you see, even though Christianity paints man's picture as really, really bad, we've also got a really, really good solution, because salvation becomes a gift that is received through faith and that gift is based upon Jesus Christ.


Nathan's IMHO

Jesus of Nazareth, proven by miracles and testimony to be the very Son of God, stated very clearly that belief in Him and Him alone as Savior is the only way to Heaven in this age.

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" - John 14:6

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." - John 3:36

"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God..." - John 1:12

"Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." - 1 John 5:5

"That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." - Romans 10:9-10

The story about Jesus begins when God first made mankind. We had a perfect, personal relationship with God. But, when Adam and Eve disobeyed and rebelled against God, their sin brought death and the just judgment of Hell upon us all (Romans 5:12).

We all have sinned, too (Romans 3:23). Have you ever lied or stolen something or looked at someone lustfully? If so, do you realize you're a sinner, too, living in rebellion against God and are in need of His forgiveness?

But, God is love (1 John 4:16). He doesn't want to send us to Hell, though His just nature requires Him to (John 3:36). So, He sent His perfect son Jesus to suffer and die in our place as payment for our sins. Jesus then beat death by coming back to life. Jesus' sacrifice has become God's lifeline to us. Jesus did all the saving work on the cross. There's nothing we can work to do to earn our way to forgiveness or Heaven. Jesus has done it all (Romans 10:9-10).

But, like any free gift, it must be accepted to work. God promises that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:21). To grab hold of God's promise, pray right now. "Dear Jesus, forgive me of my sins. Be my Savior." Jesus in turn will remove your guilt and make you a brand new person inside, and when you die, He promises you will live forever with Him (John 10:28-29). The relationship with God is restored. You are a new creation, and considered a child of God (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

By belief in God's Son Jesus you no longer stand condemned in God's eyes for your sin, as Romans 8:1-2 tells us, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."

If you accepted Jesus Christ — the only way to Heaven — then you are free indeed. To fully understand your salvation, seek out other believers in Christ so you can worship and learn together. Read your Bible daily, starting with the Gospel of John.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quick Q&A: How Can We Understand Jesus?

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Q) How do we make sense of some of the difficult teachings Jesus taught?

To answer this tough Bible question, Dr. David Reagan and I on a Christ in Prophecy television episode interviewed Dr. Ron Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes is the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former "Bible Answer Man," he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.


Dr. Ron Rhodes

Hate your family?

One teaching people question is, did Jesus advocate hating mother, father, spouse and children in Luke 14:26? Jesus said if you come to Him and you do not hate your mother, your father, your spouse and your children you could not be His disciple. That's a hard saying!

To answer that, we have to look at the context and understand that there are other verses that clear this up. For example, we know that Jesus in His perfection would never break one of the Ten Commandments, such as the Fifth Commandment to honor one's mother and father. Jesus taught in Matthew 5:43-44 and Luke 6:27,35 that we're supposed to love everyone, even our enemies.

So, what does Jesus mean when He says to hate your mother and father and your children and your spouse? Well, among the ancient Jews the word for hate according to ancient rabbinical writings could mean "to love less." And so, Jesus was saying that unless you love your spouse, and your parents, and your children less than Him, you could not be His disciple.

Now, the parallel verse in Matthew 10:37 says that if you love your mother or your father more than Jesus then you are not worthy of Him. So, the key thing is to interpret words according to their proper context and their intended meaning.


Let the dead bury their own dead?

Another example of a puzzling statement of Jesus is in Matthew 8:21-22 and Luke 9:59-60 where Jesus was talking to a man to whom He was calling to enter into Christian service. The man responds by asking to bury his father first. Jesus then makes a peculiar statement, "Let the dead bury their own dead."

Let the dead bury the dead? Whoa, what's that about?! Does that mean that the dead are going to come up out of the grave and bury somebody else that's dead? How would that work? Well, as we look at the context everything gets a little bit more clearer. Apparently, this man was the only Christian in the family, and this man now that he'd become a Christian was being invited into missionary work with Jesus. So, Jesus tells him let the spiritually dead bury the physical dead.

A number of other scholars have pointed out that in this case it may well be that the father wasn't even dead yet, so the man might have been giving an excuse. I'd be like saying, "Let me wait a couple years until my father dies and I'll bury him and then I'll come and serve you."


Gentiles are dogs?

Another example has to do with the Phoenician woman of Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30. She is the one who Jesus told He'd come to the Jews and not to the Gentiles. She then replied that even the dogs get the children's crumbs off of the table. People appalled exclaim, "This is supposed to be a man of love and He speaks to her like this?!"

I look at that verse and to me what's going on is an illustration of the sense of humor that Jesus probably had. The ancient Jews did have this idea that the Gentiles were like dogs who you're not supposed to throw food to. You're supposed to give the food to your children. So, I can imagine Jesus having a little twinkle in His eye when he said to the woman, "Don't you know that I'm not supposed to give the dogs this?" We know this was Jesus' state of mind because He goes on to tell the woman that her faith was great and her request had been granted. Jesus was really doing a kind of little play on the pharisaic teachings.


Jesus did not come to abolish the Law?

Another hard teaching is Matthew 5:17 where Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." And yet, the book of Hebrews indicates that when Jesus died on the cross the Old Covenant was abolished and a New Covenant was instituted.

When we look at some of the ancient rabbinical writings, one thing that we come very clear upon is that the word "abolish" can mean "one who disobeys or does not have proper respect for the authority." Now, here's the thing, the Pharisees didn't think that Jesus was showing respect to the Law. The Jews thought that Jesus was in fact disobeying the Law. After all, Jesus was hanging around with sinners. He was doing these miracles on the Sabbath and so forth, and so they thought that Jesus was disrespecting the Law. But Jesus says He had not come to abolish the Law or disrespect the law, but had come to fulfill the Law. Jesus not only fulfilled the Law externally like the Pharisees did, but He also fulfilled it internally. Those Jews thought that as long as they did things externally they were okay. Jesus countered that the Law deals with the inner heart.

In terms of those verses which talk about the Old Covenant being passed away and the New Covenant coming into being, those have to do with the Cross and time after. The New Covenant was enacted and brought into being at the death of Christ. It's based upon the blood of Jesus. So, at that point in fact, the Law did pass away and we have a New Covenant which is based upon the forgiveness of sins provided by the death of Jesus Christ.


Nathan's IMHO

Our words condemn us?

Jesus stated in Matthew 12:36-37, "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

The context of Matthew 12 would indicate that Jesus is speaking to unbelievers concerning the Great White Throne Judgment held at the end of Christ's Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:11-15). There unbelievers will be judged for their works, but since they have not accepted Christ's work of salvation, they will fall short of the glory of God and be sentenced to Hell.

God assures us in Hebrews 8:12 and 10:17 that under the New Covenant of grace that by Jesus' death on the cross He will remember the believers' sins no more. Believers will be judged by our works at the Judgment of the Just just after the Rapture, but having already been given an eternity with God by Jesus, we are judged for our degree of rewards. Our words no longer condemn us, though the thoughts and motivations behind them might diminish our heavenly rewards.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Quick Q&A: Is the Bible from God?

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Q) How do we know that the Bible really is from God as opposed to it being man's search for God and therefore full of myth, legend and superstition?

To answer this tough Bible question, Dr. David Reagan and I on a Christ in Prophecy television episode interviewed Dr. Ron Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes is the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former "Bible Answer Man," he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.


Dr. Ron Rhodes

I'll tell you what got my attention big time. I didn't become a Christian until I was 18, and what got my attention was Bible prophecy. I had never heard of Bible prophecy. I had gone to a liberal church all my life. As it happened, I was out in Hollywood at the time and these Christians I ran into started talking to me about Bible prophecy and I asked, "What's that?" They showed me over a hundred prophecies that came literally true in the First Coming of Christ, such as He's going to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), that He was going to be crucified (Zechariah 12:10) and for our sins (Isaiah 53). All these prophecies came literally true!

They next talked to me about prophecies of the Second Coming and how events are starting to line in our own day, laying the foundation for the fulfillment of those verses. That led me to believe the Bible that I'd just been ignoring for the first eighteen years of my life truly must be the Word of God. Only God can declare the end from the beginning, and so I became a Christian out of that.

We're talking about very specific prophecies. A lot of the circumstances could not be controlled by Jesus. For example, Jesus could not pick His birth place. Micah 5:2 is very clear that He would be born in Bethlehem. When you look at all of those prophecies there are over a hundred prophecies converging on a single person. What are the odds? What are the odds of one person fulfilling well over a hundred prophecies from the Old Testament? The statisticians tell us it's astronomical!

I had no concept that so much of the Bible was prophecy. As far as I knew, prophecy might just have been a little minor thing in the Bible. Instead, prophecy virtually permeates the book from Genesis to Revelation.

I think the whole reason why God put prophecy in the Bible is because there's a lot of false prophets and false apostles claiming to speak for God, but they cannot tell the future from the beginning like the true prophets and apostles.


Nathan's IMHO

When people question whether or not the Bible could really be from the God of the universe, what their heart's actually asking is, "Can I really trust what this book says?" They are not sure, especially in this day and age, if there really is absolute truth.

Man may have been involved in the development of the Bible, but it was truly written by the Holy Spirit, as 2 Pet 1:20-21 states, "Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."

God wrote the Bible over 1,500 years through more than 40 human authors from various backgrounds and places in three languages (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic), all with one unifying theme — Jesus will reign and restore mankind to Him.

Between the super-strict copying rules the priests had, to archeological corroboration, to the Dead Sea scrolls showing there has been no changes to the Old Testament texts in 2000 years, to the amount of fragments and full copies in existence dating back as far as the Second Century — no book or writing in history can stand more verified than the Bible.

There were other writings whose followers claim they should be included in the Bible, but those books didn't make it into the canon of scriptures because their authorship was questionable, they were known forgeries, their doctrine was so inverse to what the Bible taught, or they held no spiritual message. Various councils which met over the centuries after Christ sought God in much prayer and debate for guidance on what books to compile into what we know today as the Bible based on this criteria, and books such as the Apocryphal books couldn't make the cut.

I personally trust that God wouldn't have left out any book in the compilation process, as He wants us clearly to know Him and accept Jesus' salvation.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Quick Q&A: Will Christ Reign One-Thousand Years?

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Q) Is there a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ?

To answer this tough Bible question, Dr. David Reagan and I on a Christ in Prophecy television episode interviewed Dr. Ron Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes is the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former "Bible Answer Man," he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.


Dr. Ron Rhodes

People are always trying to prove that Revelation 20 does not mean what it says when it says that Jesus is coming back to reign for a thousand years. What they'll do is go over and pick up Psalm 50:10 that says God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. They'll figure that since there are so many more cattle than are just on a thousand hills that exist which God owns, that therefore the word "thousand" must always be symbolic and never literal.

People also often approach the book of Revelation with what we in the theological world call "pre-understandings." People approach the text with a pre-understanding of the theological system that governs the way they interpret those verses. All of us have some kind of a system of theology, but what I'm saying is that the system of theology must be subject to the Bible. It should always be tested against the Bible. If you come across a real clear scripture like Revelation 20 that contradicts your theological system, then guess what, you need to rewrite your theological system.

I think that the kingship of Christ was prophesied back in the original covenant. You look at the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7, prophesied about a king who would rule forever and who would sit on the throne of David. We're not talking about some sort of spiritual thing up in a twilight zone of Heaven. No, we're talking about a real throne on a real earth. And so, if you interpret Scripture in a literal fashion, you're going to come out believing in a literal one thousand year period.

To give an English illustration, if you were to use the word "trunk" that can refer to the front of an elephant, the rear end of a man, the back of a car, or it can refer to a suitcase. Just depending upon the context a word can mean a whole lot of different things.

One of the big mistakes that first year seminary students make is assuming that because a word is used one way in one context is has to mean the same thing in every other verse, and that's a mistake.

When the plain sense makes good sense why seek any other sense? That's one of the things that I base my entire interpretive methodology on. And yet, today we've got all kinds of people reading all kinds of things into the Bible. If people would just let the Bible speak for itself.

Who created human language? It was God. God created linguistic symbols called words by which He communicates with man through revelation. And, in most cases, God communicates in a normal, everyday means. Now, it is true that there are some verses that are poetic like in the Psalms and so forth, but most of the time when God is communicating it is in statements of fact. So, when the plain sense makes good sense, why seek any other sense?

One of the reasons that people spiritualize so much is because they become God when they do so, because they can make the Scriptures mean anything they want them to mean. The cults are experts at that. They'll take a verse and they'll make it say something entirely foreign to the original context. And, frankly, we've got a crisis in the church today because many Christians don't know the Bible very well. That's all the more reason for people to get back to the Bible.

So, remember, when you're reading Scripture verses follow that rule — "when the plain sense makes good sense don't seek any other sense."


Nathan's IMHO

Have you read how many times in Revelation 20 that "thousand" is written?

In verse 2, Satan is bound for "a thousand years." In verse 3, Satan is kept from deceiving the nations for "the thousand years."

In verse 4, those who refused to worship the Beast and receive his mark are resurrected to reign with Christ "a thousand years." The rest of the dead, those who remained in rebellion against God, they are resurrected after "the thousand years" are up, so says verse 5. Besides reigning, those from the First Resurrection will also be priests of God for "a thousand years," as verse 6 states.

Verse 7 tells us that Satan's captivity lasts only "the thousand years," then he goes out to deceive the nations one last time.

Six distinct times the term "thousand years" is used to denote the length of time that Satan will be bound, how long Christ's physical kingdom on Earth will last, that the resurrected Saints will rule and reign, and how long until the final world battle commences, followed by the Great White Throne Judgment. Revelation 20 clearly isn't talking generally about time, but specifically about how long these things will occur. We can know for sure that they will last one thousand actual years.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Quick Q&A: Why Does God Allow Evil?

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Q) If God is really a God of love, why didn't He just put an end to evil?

To answer this tough Bible question, Dr. David Reagan and I on a Christ in Prophecy television episode interviewed Dr. Ron Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes is the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former "Bible Answer Man," he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.


Dr. Ron Rhodes

Let's just say that at midnight tonight God's going to say, "Evil is over." I don't like that option because at midnight tonight Ron Rhodes is gone. In fact, everyone is gone! So, I'm kind of glad God is patient with us.

One thing God did as soon as man got himself in invading the world with our own sin and evil is He engaged in a rescue mission for us. He's been involved in that rescue mission ever since, and it's all based on Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. So, that's the good news!

God did give us free choice, and some people try to blame God for that. But, look at it this way. Henry Ford created the Ford car. It was a good car. But, let's say that some man decides to drive that car after drinking some alcohol. He drives down the street and crashes into a building. Are we going to say that Henry Ford is a bad man for creating the Ford? No! He's not the person who did something wrong. It's the man who used his free will to drink alcohol, to do something wrong, before he drove. You see, that's the person who is at blame.

So, I don't think that we should blame God for giving us free will. I've never seen a person walking down the street with one of those signs that says, "Down with Free Will" or "Back to Bondage."

I think that if God had created a bunch of those little robots, like where you pull the string on the back and it says, "I love you," just imagine an entire universe of those. Would that bring glory to God? Not really, you just pull it and it goes, "I worship thee, O Lord God." That certainly doesn't bring glory to God.

What would bring glory to God is if God created free human beings in which many of whom are going to choose to freely follow Him and worship Him for all eternity. Of course, the very gift of free will also means that some people will misuse that free will. Some people will choose against God. But, as C.S. Lewis put it, in the end this scenario brings much more glory to God than a universe of robots.


Nathan's IMHO

It is amazing how free will and evil are two sides of the same coin. We can't have one without the other. To have evil, one must of their own volition choose to not do the right things that God has told us we need to do to live, to love, and to function in a universe that can only operate by certain rules that have been put there to keep us from harm. We'd never have to worry about the effects of sin if there was no evil, and there would be no evil if in our own free will we didn't choose whether consciously or subconsciously to disobey God's statutes.

But, it is also that same free will that makes us rebel and with the first mutinous thought become evil that also allows us to choose God. We can choose to believe in Jesus as the Son of God and forgiver of our sins, which causes us not to eternally perish but to have eternal life, as John 3:16 and other verses tell us. The part of ourselves that condemns us — free will — coupled with Jesus' atoning sacrifice grants us amnesty from our own rebellious, sin natures.

What always amazes me about God's character is that very free will that God has equipped us with is the very tool God uses to winnow humanity down to the believing remnant that desire to dwell with Him forever. It's rather like the marriage process. After a number of dates with various ladies over the years, I found a woman who wanted to spend the rest of her life with me. She chose me as much as I chose her. Our lives have become one till death do us part. So, too, with God, as He wants to spend a "no death will ever part us" eternity with people who actually want to spend it with Him. Can you imagine living with someone you wish you never met and may even hate forever and ever? Certainly not! No, that very free will God built into us is the very mechanism that creates a perfect forever.

God allows evil because by our own free will He metaphorically is boarding a plane of travelers bound for the Great Hereafter. Because He's God and therefore all knowing, He even knows ahead of time who wants to take the journey when the offer's made via a prompt by the Holy Spirit, a concept we call predestination.

And so, evil will exist until the very last person has accepted the Captain, taken the ticket of salvation, boards the plane of faith, and arrives at the forever destination. He truly is a loving God!