Goodnews Christian Ministry
"From the beginning I foretold the future, and predicted beforehand what is to be." ---Isaiah 46:10
"Make sure that no one traps you and deprives you of your freedom by some secondhand, empty, rational philosophy based on the principles of
this world instead of on Christ."
Isaiah announced that the river of God would be divided into seven streams on earth. "And God will...stretch out his hand over the River, and divide it into seven streams, for men to cross dry-shod, to make a pathway for the remnant of his people..." (Is.11:15).
These seven streams have their terminus in the seven churches described by John in the Book of Revelation. (Rev.1:20). As we showed in Chapter 15, the number seven is a symbolic number representing perfection and fulfillment. In reality, far more than seven churches exist, and most dispense freely the living water Jesus has sent flowing to us out of heaven (John 4:14).
Though churches are manifestations of theology, most are tempered by the peaceful and gentle love of Jesus. Even so, few openly extend that peace and love to their religious neighbors. These they regard with suspicion and occasionally, hatred.
This is a paradox, but it fulfills the teaching of the Gospel:"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth: it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man's enemies will be those of his own household." (Matt.10:34-36).
The wars that raged in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, pitting Christians against Christians bear graphic witness that Jesus spoke correctly. The same is true of Ireland where these battles have still not died.
But in most areas of Christendom, the hostilities which fired these wars, though still deeply felt, are confined to communities and come to a boil only when a family member decides to join or marry into a different church.
All these churches are supposed to lead us to faith in Jesus, not to themselves. Yet history teaches that weak faith and strong theology often go together.
Jim Jones in South America and David Koresh in Waco are recent examples of this -- in their cases, intense theology gone berserk, and faith nonexistent. Skillful architects of wormwood, they were able to turn off the tap and completely block the fountainhead.
Pertubations like these give evidence that some churches are steeped in theology, but critically lacking in faith. Despite the fact that all churches are formed in it, Jesus did not come to teach us theology. He came to teach us how to gain eternal life.
Foremost in this instruction was his command that we love our enemies.
This mandate is frequently lost in the zealotry that surrounds religion. Theology, as we have seen, often creates enemies and encourages their formation.
That is why it is so common to find the incongruity of large numbers of Christians professing the love of Christ in themselves, yet expressing that love by hating other Christians or other churches. Obviously, theology and God go down different paths.
Because of this, we must be very careful about out beliefs. God sent Jesus so that we would take His word into our hearts and let that be our guiding principle and beacon for thought in our expression and knowledge of God.
Instead, we often let the principles of the minister or church we belong to be the expression of our concept of God. "This people honors me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me. The worship they offer me is worthless; the doctrines they teach are only human regulations." (Matt.15:8-9).
Human regulations can be very dangerous if we are following false prophets like Koresh or Jim Jones. In the hands of people like that, the law can be a trap. It can lead us to the very hell we are trying to escape.
That is why Jesus set us free from ministers in the first place. He did not come to give the ministers more credibility, but to replace their veracity with His own. It was Christ's intent that we should look to Him first, and listen to His commands before those of any minister, no matter how august they might be.
Jesus asked us -- no, commanded us -- to test all ministers by their fruits.
He has instructed that we compare every theological tenant we are asked to believe against the commandments of the Gospel He preached.
Thus we have been empowered by none other than God, Himself, to draw our own conclusions and to disbelieve the teaching of any minster that tries to lead us astray.
"This is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel when those days arrive: Deep within them I will plant my Law, writing it on their hearts. Then I will be their God and they shall be my people. There will be no further need for neighbor to try to teach neighbor, or for brother to say to brother, 'Learn to know God!" No, they will all know me, the least no less than the greatest since I will forgive their iniquity and never call their sin to mind." (Jer.31:33-34).
Jesus did not do away with ministers because without them there could be no baptism and no spread of the faith. But He made their authority subservient to the Gospel.
In the process, He took away their teaching credentials -- because now there is only one teacher.
The ministers still have authority and we must obey them because they sit in the seat of Moses and will be called upon to make an accounting for the way they look after our souls (and we are not supposed to make that job any harder on them) Heb.13:17.
But Jesus has made two things abundantly clear: First, obedience to the Gospel comes before anything or anybody. And second, there is no salvation in the Law (i.e., there is no salvation in theology). The ministers can baptize us, but their philosophies cannot save us.
Eternal life comes only to those who put the word of Jesus into practice in their lives. (Mk.3:35).
Theology may be acceptable for this world, but it does not offer eternal life. And that is the bottom line: except for baptism, life after death does not come from any legal principle or theological premise.
And it is the chance for life after death that Jesus brings to us.
The ministers and priests offer us a way to praise God and show Him respect, but only Jesus offers us a way to join Him in eternity.
We must remember that the Jews had a perfect Law.
When Jesus came to Jerusalem he found a people deeply steeped in theological tradition. They attended religious services regularly, in fact, fanatically. They held their theological leaders in great esteem and they spent their entire lives wrapped up in the services of holy worship. They condemned sexual perversity and were devoted to family values.
Yet Christ informed us that no one on earth could justify themselves with God by obeying such ministerial laws. The traditions which gave birth to all of this Jewish devotion had no bearing on salvation because it spoke only to images. Instead of being a road to eternal life, their religion was a road away from life because it tolerated behavior that insured death while admonishing only legal flaws.
Jesus explained that the sole way to escape from this legal trap was to live in the Gospel of righteousness he preached, and he showed in the stern way that he dealt with Judaism that religion by itself does not encourage this change.
So there is a great division in religion.
Out of the Law (i.e., out of theology) comes all the false prophecy that ever existed on the earth and out of the word of Christ, the cure.
For this reason -- because salvation itself is what is at stake -- we must understand clearly the difference between theology and the Jesus God sent us.
Many Christians have an innate fear of the Law -- yet very few even know what the Law is.
According to the Jews the Law is the first five books of the Bible.
It is important to note that the word 'Bible' is Christian and was coined long after Jesus had been crucified. Before that, the scriptures were called 'the Law and the Prophets'. This is the term Jesus used when He talked about the Bible.
The part we call 'the Law' was composed by Moses and encompasses the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The Jews term these five books 'the Torah'. (a Hebrew word which means law).
As far as the Jewish leaders were concerned, these five books contained the rules and regulations that defined the essence of their entire religion. In them as well were the stories of the creation; of Adam and Eve, the flood, Abraham, the Exodus and the Passover.
The Law contained all the admonitions and regulations about sacrifice and religious expression that governed every aspect of Hebrew life.
In addition to the Mosaic statutes, also contained in the Torah were the Ten Commandments which God had given to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
These ten statements from heaven were written into the Law, but they differed from it greatly, because the former came directly from God, while the latter came from the pen of Moses.
In order to emphasize the difference between the Law and the Ten Commandments, the Hebrew leaders were instructed by the Holy Spirit to build a structure called the Ark of the Covenant.
Into the Ark went only God's Decalouge -- i.e., the commandments He, Himself, had inscribed on stone on the holy mountain. The rest of scripture God purposely kept out of the Ark of the Covenant.
This happened so that the Holy Spirit could later bring to understanding the difference between the Bible and the Gospel which Jesus brought in the image of theTen Commandments. Christ did not preach in the Law's image. He gave us no Torah.
In the schematic of Moses, the words spoken or written directly by God (i.e., words that come from heaven) are called 'Testimony' -- a designation in scripture elevating them above the Law of Moses.
The word 'testimony' was first used in the Bible by Moses during the Exodus from Egypt by the Israelites. It described the tent which housed the Hebrew tabernacle at whose heart was the Ark of the Covenant. Moses described this tent as the 'Tent of the Testimony' and the Ark of the Covenant as the 'Ark of the Testimony', because they both housed the Ten Commandments, the Testimony of God. (See Exodus 26:33; Numbers 9:15+).
Jesus did not come in the image of Moses. He did not bring a Torah, i.e., more theology. Instead He brought "Testimony", the missing commandments of God, the declaration of which was thwarted at Sinai because the people were so terror-stricken by the theophany which accompanied God's approach. (see footnote 1)
For our purposes, therefore, we can see a Bible divided into three critical sections: Law, Prophecy and Testimony.
Moses wrote the first five books -- the part we call the Law. God and Jesus gave us the Testimony -- direct words from heaven itself. All the rest is prophecy.
This prophecy comes, not just in defined sections in the Bible, but is spread all through the writings of scripture.
When Paul appeared, he re-worded Moses' Law in terms of Christ, unifying the Law of Moses with the ultimate will of God. In doing this, Paul got rid of animal sacrifices and just about every other legal notion regarding theological justification.
He was able to do this because the first Christian Council, held in Jerusalem, and attended by Peter and all the Apostles (including Paul) determined that the Torah's regulations were not binding on Christians, or on the Christian church. This Council decision had a momentous impact on the developing church, and we have described it at length in another chapter (see footnote 2).
Instead of following Paul's formula, however, many churches have since tried, in varying ways, to resurrect the Old Testament's principles of legal sanctification. Some say dancing is forbidden. Others say God forbids certain foods.
Some teach that God worries about which day the Sabbath should be celebrated on, or whether or not music should be played in church. Others are concerned with who we should or should not pray to, or how we should dress; even whether there should be statues or icons in the church or how we should confess our sins.
The Christian leaders who encourage these theological laws have tried to justify their rules by the fact that Jesus refused to separate law and faith completely. Jesus commanded that the two stay in contact until the end. "Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them." (Mt. 5:17).
On the surface, Christ's statement seems to forbid the kind of action the Apostolic council led by Peter took in Jerusalem in the formative years of the Christian religion. But the Holy Spirit guided that action, and the decision has been upheld by almost all Christian churches ever since. So we must look for another answer.
We can find it in the New Testament. The Christian church, as everyone knows, is built on the Letters of Paul. History, then, has revealed that Paul is a type of Moses. We don't structure our churches on the Torah, but we do structure them on the guidelines of Paul.
So the Law has not passed away, it has been transformed by Paul into an instrument that incorporates and preaches Jesus Christ.
Had Jesus totally separated the Law from faith, for instance, baptism would not be necessary, but Paul and Jesus have both shown that it is. (Jn.3:5; Col.2:13 ). (see footnote 3). The same is true of the celebration of Communion.
This is why God allowed the Apostles to change the Law, i.e., to give us a 'new' Testament.
The intent of God's Law was that we obey Christ's commandments. The most important of these commandments, Jesus said, is that we live a life of love -- love for both God and for our fellow man. The Israelites perpetually violated this directive because they were using ritual as a means to live otherwise.
Once Paul's words became scripture, they could not be rejected.
Jesus gave the Apostles full authority to take the momentous actions they did: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: Whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven." (Mt.16:19).
This permitted the Apostles to keep the directive of Jesus that Law and faith go together and yet at the same time free the Church from the strict and inaccurate rules of the Old Testament.
This freedom, of course, does not apply to everyone. Only those who convert and are baptised into the faith of Jesus Christ are freed from the Law. All others remain bound to its decrees until they die or are baptised into Christ. The death sentence under which all mankind outside of God is doomed to suffer makes this conversion an imperative.
It is to erase this impending execution that there is baptism. Christian baptism touches us with the blood of Jesus, marking us in the sacrifice He made in our name, so that His death becomes ours as well.
Baptism, then, is the last act of the Law on us -- the touch that frees us from the penalty demanded by the Law. It sets us free to follow Jesus on the path to eternal life that He mapped out for us.
Baptism takes us out of the Mosaic Law completely, and Paul said that anyone who looks back toward that Law is in grave danger. (Gal.5:4).
That is why anyone who comes now spouting the rules of the Old Testament in a Christian setting is a threat to faith. Those who do this are acting in direct violation of the Bible -- refusing to obey Peter's command.
It is common in cults that preach Christ without a true knowledge of God's will to demean the importance or necessity of baptism. For this reason, a poisonous wormwood issues from their counsel which very well may have fatal consequences to those who are unwary, or who do not seek first and last, the counsel of the Gospel.
Obsession with the discarded Law of Moses is another way we can always identify false prophets.
Instead of preaching God's mercy, they diligently search the Book of the Law (the Old Testament) and glean from it their interpretation of rules and regulations that the Apostles of the Church released us from two thousand years ago.
Passing right through the New Testament, they bury themselves in the old and then they try to use those discarded regulations to attack the rest of the Church. This is what David Koresh did and it is a common practice in cults worldwide.
It is easy to plunge so deeply into the theological concepts of the Bible that we sail right past Christ in the process.
That is why Isaiah told us to go back to basics in our search for God: "Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear these words behind you, 'This is the way, follow it'." (Is.30:21).
The 'right' and the 'left' are all the different ministers and churches whose philosophical ideas so consume our thoughts during our adult religious life.
The voice behind us is that of Jesus when His Gospel first touched us. This is the 'sunday school voice'. Notice that Isaiah speaks of this voice as coming from 'behind us' -- from our past.
The teachings of Jesus mark the 'way' that we must follow in order to achieve eternal life; and no matter how 'smart' we become in our supposed knowlege of God, the 'way we must follow' is simply that love-training we learned in the beginning.
Wormwood Even In Scripture
In the Book of Hebrews it is written that the words of Moses were not God's own words, but were those of a 'guardian', written as a reflection of a vision. They were a 'copy' of what was real.
Jesus is the True Father and Moses only the guardian. The books Moses wrote were metaphors of truth -- not truth itself. They were written in anticipation of truth.
This is why the words of Jesus take precedence over anything said in the Old Testament.
We saw in an earlier chapter, that because the vision of Moses had produced a copy of truth instead of the real thing, the scriptures lay sealed in a veil of metaphor.
Complicating the veils of scripture, over the years a process called 'tradition' poured forth an ever-changing theology onto the Hebrew scene. According to the prophet Jeremiah, as these ideas evolved some leaked their way into the scriptures through the pens of over-zealous translators.
"How dare you say 'We are wise, and we possess the Law of God?' But look how it has been falsified by the lying pen of the scribes!". (Jer.8:8).
According to Jeremiah, then, the final result of this process found distorted 'additions' becoming a part of the Torah. As a consequence, the Bible ended up, not just with words inspired by God, but with ideas coming from the imagination of the scribes as well.
Thus the scriptures held both wormwood and divinity in combination. (Jer.23:15). And no one knew which was which, nor did they know how to separate the two. The untruths had become scripture and so they could not be rejected. (John 10:35)
We cannot be blindly obedient, for instance, to a directive which commands 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' while trying to turn the other cheek. It is either one or the other.
A scripture containing error cannot endure. That is why the Old Testament is passing away. (Heb.8:7-8). And that is also why Peter and Paul and the Apostles of the Church set us free from it's rules.
The cure, of course, was Jesus Christ -- God, Himself in person come to earth. "You are worthy to take the scroll and break the seals of it, because you were sacrificed, and with your blood you bought men for God of every race, language, people and nation and made them a line of kings and priests, to serve our God and to rule the world." (Rv.5:9-10).
Breaking the seals meant bringing to light the hidden truths inside scripture. This is why Jesus spent so much time when he preached his Gospel, separating the words of the Torah, dividing the inspired words of God from the words of men that had invaded it. (See Mat.5).
The outright errors he exposed. (Num.30:3, Mt.5:33-34; Ex.21:24-25, Mt.5:38-39). (see footnote 4). The rest He explained -- breaking the secret code of the metaphor and shattering its seven seals (Rv.5:1-10). In doing this, Jesus lifted the cloak that had hidden God from the sight of the Jews.
The Jewish leaders were not impressed. In fact, they were horrified. Jesus had decimated the kind of Torah they were preaching, tearing out from it all its ritual and replacing the man-made rules with the spiritual laws of God -- mercy, compassion and gentleness.
Not recognizing that Jesus was God Himself in their midst (bringing God's own words in God's own voice), they clung to their garbled Law and to their stone temple -- furious with Jesus that he would dare to find fault in either.
In the process, they kept the imperfect guardian and threw out the true Father.
God had appeared to them in person just as Moses had predicted He would -- just as the compromise at Sinai had directed Him to appear -- but the Jewish leaders rejected His ideas of mercy and justice and, instead, clung to their false images of God -- a god ready to strike dead anyone who broke the Torah's intricate rituals.
These rituals had the people worshipping days of the week and clothing and food and a vast array of other traditions that God had no use for. "The worship they offer me is worthless, the doctrines they teach are only human regulations." (Is.29:13).
"What I want is mercy, not sacrifice; knowledge of God, not holocausts." (Hos.6:6).
The Torah had people flocking by the droves to Jerusalem to slaughter hundreds of millions of birds and other animals. There was no mercy for these creatures, just a growing and bloody carnage made legal because it was authorized in the Bible.
God deplored all this killing, and He stopped it cold when He went to the cross. (Is.1:11).
Bringing God's own Testimony, Jesus made ritual serve love. He told the Jewish leaders, "You have made God's word null and void by means of your tradition". (Mt.15:6).
He accused these religious teachers of "straining out gnats and swallowing camels" with their rules. (Mt.23:24). All the traditions they were promoting he said, had "taken away the key of knowledge" from the people.
"You have not gone in yourselves, and have prevented others going in who wanted to." (Lk.11:52).
Breaking the seals of scripture, Jesus revealed that all the ritual in the Old Testament was metaphoric. The Torah's didactic statements all had deeper meanings -- meanings that revolved not around themselves, but around the mercy and love of Jesus Christ.
This revelation did not stop the vultures, however. There is a long history in the Church of various ministers rising up in defense of the wormwood Jesus erased.
Filled with their own self-importance, such scoundrels often bind heavy burdens on the people, just as Jesus warned. (Mt.23). This we have seen for ourselves. Obsessed with the spiritless rules and dietary restrictions of the Mosaic Law, there has been no end to the stream of prophets who have tried to tie us back them.
The Wormwood of Hate
Over the years there have been many people with a scarce understanding of scripture who have incorrectly considered Babylon to be a Christian church -- specifically the Roman church.
Christian-bashing is not restricted only to attacks on Roman Catholics. The non-religious, for instance, often use the acronym 'WASP' to ridicule the Protestant Christians who helped found the United States of America.
Many Seventh-Day Adventists teach that American Protestants are the 'False Prophet' of the Book of Revelation, and that the Catholic church is the 'beast'.
These attacks are completely untrue. They come from Satan, not God. The people who promote them are antagonists of Christianity and true architects of a type of wormwood called hate.
It is easy to see the devil using pagans to attack the Church. What is harder to see as coming from Satan is the hatred and animosity between the churches themselves. Why do such non-christian attitudes exist among people supposedly committed to loving their enemies?
It is a true enigma, and it has its roots in the earliest days. Paul, for instance, in 57 A.D. (only 24 years after the death of Jesus), wrote to the developing church in Corinth:
"I appeal to you, brothers, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, to make up the differences between you, and instead of disagreeing among yourselves, to be united again in your belief and practice. From what Chloe's people have been telling me it is clear that there are serious differences among you. "
"What I mean are all these slogans that you have like: 'I am for Paul', I am for Apollos', 'I am for Cephas', I am for Christ'. Has Christ been parcelled out? Was it Paul that was crucified for you?" (1 Cor.1:10-13).
"What could be more unspiritual than your slogans, 'I am for Paul' and 'I am for Apollos'? After all, what is Apollos and what is Paul? They are servants who brought the faith to you. Even the different ways in which they brought it were assigned to them by the Lord." (1 Cor.3:1-9).
Despite this strong admonition, however, Paul's words did not stop the Church from dividing itself into cliques. For this reason, almost two thousand years later these same slogans are still with us.
Only now, they are steeped in the tradition of the ages. 'I am for the baptist', 'I am for the Pope', 'I am for Luther', 'I am for Moroni', 'I am for Christ'.
As the years have passed a far more sinister element has crept into this rivalry as well. One that calls for the dissolution of the central Body of the Christian Church.
That is why our need to respect and support one another has now become so crucial. Jesus committed us to love one another -- even our enemies. So all the hatred and jealousy to the contrary, comes from a lack of faith. Satan could not move us to embrace such behavior if our faith were strong.
In the weakness of our faith we are unable to see how the love of Christ can be so large that it can encompass those we ourselves find different.
That is why John was so insistent that we live a life of love. "I am writing now...to plead: let us love one another. To love is to live according to his commandments: this is the commandment which you have heard since the beginning, to live a life of love." (2 Jn.5-6). When we live in Christ's commandments we prove that we are the children of God.
We have already discussed Satan's return from the Abyss.
According to John, the sign that this return has taken place will be a mobilization of empires across the world for war. Such has been the essential character of the last century: World wars and unprecedented violence perpetuated by a driving hatred that is feathering itself into the hearts of all the world's people.
These are the things that we have watched rise up out of the Abyss during the past hundred years. The world that Hitler and Tojo tried to fashion in the 1930's and which the rest of the world banded together to try to stop, has suddenly overwhelmed us all.
Hitler lost the battles, but the vengeance he championed continues to swirl all around.
It is in warfare that we can see Satan's ability for deception acted out. We know Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace. Every word out of His mouth called for gentle behavior -- for love, not just of neighbors and friends, but of enemies as well.
He taught forgiveness and predicated our sanctification on our ability to carry that teaching out in our own lives: "As you forgive others, so will I forgive you."
Countering this message of universal forgiveness and compassion for others is the acrimony of Satan.
Satan's call to arms is hatred. We can hear it reverberating all across the world today -- even in the churches. And because Satan is here in person, driving the hatred himself, it promises to become far more vicious and violent than it ever was in the past.
That is not good news. It means warfare -- not just secular fighting, but religious wars as well.
Using hate, Satan is polarizing the world into two opposing forces and mobilizing them for battle. These forces cut across all boundaries -- even religious ones. In the coming days, Christians are going to rise up against Christians and muslims are going to rise up against muslims and Jews will fight Jews.
Many of these wars are described in greater detail in the chapters ahead.
A favorite target of the hate-mongers is the Bishop of Rome. This is not surprising. In an age of growing anarchy, he is the most visible theological figurehead championing God's call to the obedience of Christ on earth.
He heads a Christian nation that has one billion citizens. (Almost a fifth of the population of the earth). That represents vast authority in a world that traditionally hates authority.
Remember, all Christians come from a House called 'Israel'. The word means 'rebel'. It was given to Jacob by God for fighting the holy angel. We are all born into that rebellion. The call of Jesus is that we leave it behind us. The call of Satan is just the opposite -- that we let the hatred consume us.
Since Satan's deception is going to manifest itself in violence and armies (2 Thess.9:12, Mt.24:9-13, Rv.20:7-9), we must take great care that we do not become caught up in the wormwood that drives the formation of these elements on earth.
Various cults have for years distributed throughout the country venomous tracts which heavily promote Christian hatred. While their literature does not actually promote the murder of Christians per se, it does encourage intense animosity toward traditional churches and their doctrines.
Because many of these tracts define a spiritual war between themselves and the rest of the Body of Christ, they have set themselves up on the side of Satan -- as enemies of the Body. David Koresh, for instance, was isolating and arming his followers in preparation for just such a war.
In his case Koresh saw God destroying in battle all who worship on sunday and raising up in victory over them all who worship on saturday. We can see the same kind of isolation, fear and militant fervor in the Essene community at Qumran.
Both shared a common belief that they should arm and isolate themselves for an apocalyptic war between the forces of good and evil on earth. This kind of thinking encourages isolation and hatred of others, and is always wrong -- especially for Christians.
According to the Apostle John, it is satanic: "Anyone who says 'I love God', and hates his brother, is a liar, since a man who does not love the brother that he can see -- cannot love God whom he has never seen. So this is the commandment that he has given us, that anyone who loves God must also love his brother. " (1 Jn.4:20-21).
Anyone who claims to be following Christ is a brother to every other Christian on earth regardless of church affiliation.
The enemies of God are going to die; if not in battle, certainly at the Judgment. That is because war itself is evil and never comes from God. In the battles leading up to Armageddon, the people of God will not be doing the fighting, they will be caught in the middle.
This is a major difference.
The tribulation in the van of Armageddon is a war that God has held back, not one that He is bringing. And the one who is holding it back for God is the anointed prince that oversees the perpetual sacrifice -- the very person so many of these cults want desperately to destroy.
It is this same anointed prince that Daniel foresees the Rebel cutting off just before he destroys the city and the sanctuary. (Dn.9:26).
The implication is clear. Satan is fomenting a call to arms on earth and the principal target of that call is the leading shepherd of the Christian Church. What all this shows is that the future is going by the book. It is happening just as the Bible predicted it would.
Driven by the emissaries of wormwood, hate is separating Christians and preparing the battlelines of the end.
When he stood at the side of God in heaven, the Bible tells us that Satan incessantly preached to God this same kind of propaganda. He kept telling God that the people the Lord had formed for Himself were basically evil and that they would not obey Him if put to the test.
God informed Satan that was not true, but Satan was so obsessed with his jealousy and hatred for these other children of God that he fomented a rebellion in heaven and infected them all with his own evil spirit just to prove that their faith in God was the sham he thought it was.
Those who war against the Church on earth are the agents of Satan because they preach his same kind of doctrine. By their fruits you will know them.
In fact, that is their most characteristic sign -- although they come in sheep's clothing, saying they love Jesus, they preach hatred and fear and launch persistent attacks on other members of the Christian Church.
By targeting the same victim as the Rebel, they prove they are allies of the Rebel. And as the last day draws nearer, aided by Satan's own cunning, they will show this by whipping up their adherents to such a frenzy that many will actually engage in physical assaults against the peaceful people they disdain.
The false prophecy which emanates from them always leads away from the commandments of love and compassion for mankind which Jesus preached in his Gospel.
The Church - A Product of the Holy Spirit
There are two ways we can view the Christian Church.
One is to see it in the satanic way that the cultist's do -- as a vast contaminated pool of churches, poisoned throughout by evil.
Those who picture the Church this way agree with Satan's argument to God that most Christians are just pagans in disguise. In their arrogance, they hold everyone outside their own group in contempt.
The second way to view the Church is to see it in all its diverse parts as the divine work of the Holy Spirit -- the sacred bastion of faith on earth -- a holy island that stands out from the poisoned water of the pagan world which surrounds it.
The latter view considers the entire Church as the work of God -- a single Body made up of many differing parts, but each essential in its own way. This view accepts a Church in the image of what John wrote: "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten by God." (1 Jn.5:1).
The former disregards such equanimity and sees the greater Church only in terms of corruption. That is why cultists always call for most Christian churches to be reviled and abandoned.
Their persistant attacks against the rest of the Body of Christ are all based on Satan's personal obsession (Job 1:9-12) -- making them one with that obsession.
It is the will of God that we build new churches, but it is not God's will that we tear down all the other churches to do so. The Holy Spirit built the church structure we now see on earth, not the devil; and the Holy Spirit formed it exactly the way God wanted it built.
This includes all its parts and percentages. The Temptor has not been able to change that -- not even by corrupting a few vultures.
The beast works to destroy the church. That should be obvious to everyone. So all the hate tracts and antagonistic propaganda come from Satan's influence, not from the Holy Spirit. They are designed to try to tear down the work of the Spirit of God.
With his hate, Satan is pushing the rebellious toward the precipice of spiritual war. And it is this push that permits us to see the dividing line between this world and God. Jesus is that line.
His peace ransoms us from the war being waged on us. We may belong to twelve different tribes, but we have only One Master who says that we must love each other. If we allow that love to become hatred, Satan will own us.
Each one of us are being called to join sides in this war. Either to take into our hearts Christ's peace -- forgiveness and love; or to allow Satan's deceptive anger to live in there instead -- all his hatred and fear.
Christ warned that every person must be sifted by Satan and this obsessive urge to hate each other has turned out to be one of the key screens employed in that sorting.
An Age of False Prophets
Jesus said the last days would abound with false prophets. Some, he said, would come with theologies so sophisticated they would be able to lead astray even the elect were God to give them power to do so.
We can see clear evidence of this sophistication in the teachings broadcast from modern pulpits. Preaching sermons that embrace the world and which glorify secularism and sexual aberration, some ministers have decimated the Christian message.
False prophecy takes many forms, but it always leads to the destruction of the Church. The only defense against such prophecy is to live and worship in the commandments of the Gospel.
We must take Jesus and the Apostles seriously, and not stray from their teachings or support ministers who do so.
Misconceptions about God are certain to occur whenever the material world is exalted, and today the material world is being glorified as never before.
Jesus warned us about all these things and He said that as the Last Day draws near it will get even worse. "If anyone says to you then, 'Look, here is the Christ' or, 'He is there', do not believe it; for false Christs and false prophets will arise and produce great signs and portents, enough to deceive even the chosen, if that were possible. There, I have forewarned you." (Mt.24:23-27).
Since it is going to become so common in the days to come, knowing how to recognize false prophecy and those who preach it is essential. Jesus warned that these deviants would come disguised as sheep but inside they would be ravenous wolves.
He said, "You will know them by their fruits." (Mt.7:15-20). Whether they come preaching a god of hate, or a god of violence, or a god of money, or even a god who dislikes most Christians, their message is always the same -- it is a fruit contrary to the Gospel Jesus taught.
There is only one safety from the deceit of such propaganda -- staying close to the message of Christ. If goodness, mercy and compassion live in us, so will Jesus, but if we carry hatred and a love of money in our hearts, we will harbor Satan there instead.
Jesus called us to love our brothers, and not only our brothers, but our enemies as well -- to treat all people by the golden rule. Leaders who do not exhibit or promote these fruits of compassion should be flashing red lights to every Christian.
Especially now, when all that scripture has predicted is preparing to be completed.
"If, then, they say to you, 'look, he is in the desert', do not go there; 'Look, he is in some hiding place', do not believe it;' because the coming of the Son of Man will be like lightning striking in the east and flashing far into the west." (Mt.24:23-27).
While prophecy can broaden our understanding of Jesus' message, it cannot change that message in any way. That is how we can tell good prophecy from bad prophecy. The only prophecy that is perfect is the word of Jesus Christ.
And if only Jesus is true, then everyone else is flawed.
The false prophets will never admit this (that all prophecy is filled with flaws including their own) but Paul declared it categorically:
"...if there are gifts of prophecy, the time will come when they must fail; or the gift of languages, it will not continue forever; and knowledge -- for this, too, the time will come when it must fail. "
"For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will disappear." (1 Cor.13:8).
If Paul could say this about his own words -- words which would later supersede Moses and become a part of the very Bible itself, how much more must this admonition apply to words spoken by the people who preceded or followed him?
Our theology, then, is always imperfect -- just the opposite of the way we see it. Every church has flaws. Not a single one is perfect because only the Gospel of Christ is perfect.
And it is the same with every prophet and minister. When Jesus returns, everything else will fail, paled by the perfection which has returned to us from heaven. This is why Paul said that we should not think about God or argue about God on human terms.
"Now instead of the spirit of the world, we have received the Spirit that comes from God, to teach us to understand the gifts that he has given us. Therefore we teach, not in the way in which philosophy is taught, but in the way that the Spirit teaches us." (1 Cor.2:12-13).
Despite Paul's admonition that we should "teach spiritual things spiritually", we always seem to turn legal and join in the arguments about God on philosophical terms.
As a consequence, our theological models not only pit us against each other, they often end up compromising the word of God. We call these compromises, 'traditions'.
Tradition is Always Flawed
Tradition and wormwood are closely related. Jesus said, "By means of your tradition you have made the word of God null and void." (Mk.7:6-13). He directed this statement at Jewish leaders, but Christians, too, are often just as guilty.
Jesus preached obedience to his commandments, but a number of Christians have compromised this teaching by postulating that no action in the service of Christian behavior has any effect on salvation -- the exact opposite of what Jesus taught.
(Mt.19:17). Glorifying spiritual malaise, this tradition has made Christ's own words null and void.
It is true that church rules (works of the Law -- i.e, theology) cannot save our souls. But our obedience to Christ has an infinite bearing on our sanctification. Jesus said we must bear fruit in the Gospel or we will be cut down and thrown on the fire. (Matt.13:36-43).
"It is not those who say to me 'Lord, Lord', who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven." (Mt.7:21).
Do we receive a reward from God for the deeds we do in His name? Jesus said yes. (Mt.6:1-6).
More than that, He said we can be made lost by our deeds as well. (Mt.15:10-20). "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with the angels, and, when he does, he will reward each one according to his behavior." (Mt.16:27).
The doctrine now evolving among rebellious Christians that they are exempt from God's rules is not grounded in the Gospel -- it is tradition. And because it represents an acrobatic nullification of God's personal commandments, it is wormwood.
It is a theological compromise by a rebellious and disobedient people. And since its end result has made the teaching of Jesus null and void, it has done exactly what Jesus said our traditions would do.
Overall, we are left with two choices. We either obey Jesus Christ just as he told us to do, or we follow our theological models . Thus, we come to the same position the Jews came to almost 2000 years ago. And that is no accident.
All these illustrations show the obvious -- while church is good, and vital to the cause of God, not everyone in it or everything said in it is a positive part of salvation's process.
God warned us to measure the words and actions of those who lead us -- by using His Gospel as our guide for the evaluation.
Christ's most scathing denunciations, for instance, involved the ministers at the top of the ecclesiastical pyramid -- those who wrap themselves in pomp and show and take the honored seats at feasts and love to be called by titles.
We still have these kind of people with us -- they exist in every church. Jesus declared that the pyramid of God, for the most part, is upside down on earth. The base is at the top and the pinnacle at the bottom. "Many who are first will be last, and the last, first." (Mt.19:30).
This shows that the hierarchy of heaven is just the reverse of the one we now see on earth. "For what is thought highly of by men is loathsome in the sight of God." (Lk.16:15).
This is why we see the kind of behavior on earth that we do. Everything is upside down. God's world is just the opposite of ours. As a result, the strength of God's Church is at the bottom, not the top.
This means that the vultures fly up while the good, like gold, usually settle to the bottom.
The Old Testament says that "Where goods abound, parasites abound". (Ecc.5:10). Jesus said it this way, "Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather." (Lk.17:37).
Wherever there are people giving away all they own to follow Jesus, the same place will abound with scavengers waiting to get there hands on the discarded wealth.
Jesus has heavily warned us about those who ride around in limousines and strut about at the top of the church in their gold jewelry and fine garments making all the traditions.
Because God keeps the Law he said that we must honor it as well. This is why he told us to obey the ministers who preach about Christ. (Mt.23:3). Obey them, but do not copy their behavior:
"For I tell you, if your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven." (Mt.5:20).
This shows that we cannot please God simply by climbing to the top of the church, because it is the last seat that carries the higher authority: "Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted." (Mt.23:11-12).
In one of His parables Jesus said that the 'holy' man who went into church praising God for his own cleanliness and virtue in the eyes of heaven, was sent away unforgiven while the unclean sinner who sat at the back in the dust begging for forgiveness received the full sanctification of God. (Lk.18:9-14).
This parable shows that the mechanisms in our churches which reaffirm repentance and contrition are very important to our ultimate sanctification. Praise, alone was not enough for the man in Christ's story and it is not enough for us, either.
This is why we must always measure what we hear by the words of Christ. "Keep your eyes open, and be on your guard against the yeast (teaching) of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Mt.16:6).
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
Jesus came to change our behavior, not our theology. That is why he told the parable about the Good Samaritan.
The Jews hated the Samaritans, not just because they were Assyrian foreigners who had been transplanted into Palestine, but even more because they had corrupted the Bible, borrowing pieces of it to dress up their own pagan idols and rituals. (2 Kings 17:24 & 41).
Attaching Jewish liturgy to pagan idols was unthinkable blasphemy. It was viewed as calamitous by the priests and rabbi's of Jerusalem. In their opinion it made
the Samaritans more unclean and more unfit for God than any other pagan people in the entire world.
But God did not share this view.
Despite their obvious and flagrant corruption of official theology, Jesus made the 'good Samaritan' the highest example of Christian morality on earth. (Lk.10:30-37). This was not by accident either.
He knew exactly how badly the Samaritans had desecrated Hebrew Law when He issued His directive.
In making this statement, then, Jesus showed that it is not our relationship with a particular church or with the Law, or even with the Bible which saves us or ruins us as far as eternal life is concerned. It is only our relationship with Jesus and his Gospel which will determine our fate before God.
Jesus could just as easily have termed his parable, 'the good Mormon' or even 'the good Jehovah's Witness'. It would still have come out the same. Jesus said that anyone who obeys His words will live forever.
One of the Apostles said to Him, "Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in your name; and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him'. But Jesus said, 'You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us." (Mark 9:38-40).
These words apply to every person who comes to Jesus no matter which path he takes. Jesus said, "Anyone who hears my words and puts them into practice will never die" (Jn.8:51). This applies to all Christians -- to Catholics, Greeks and Protestants alike.
When the Antichrist comes, he will be attacking the Gospel, not preaching it. "They burned down every shrine of God in the country." (Ps.74:8).
Theology Loses it's Power
It is important to remember that there are twelve tribes in the House of Israel, not just one. The spiritual blindness which came upon the Jews, descended on them primarily because they had rejected the idea that the other eleven tribes of Israel still had meaning to God.
In an attempt to usurp God's Promise for themselves, they severed the bonds which tied them to their other relatives in the family of Jacob and so a divine pall descended over them that made them blind to the message of Christ.
They were unable to see God's other children (their own lost brothers and sisters in Jacob) because they didn't want to see them.
It is the same with us, the rest of Israel. If we reject the other tribes as the Jews did -- if we reject those whose faith in Jesus is different from our own -- the same blindness will happen to us.
Paul said that every person who believes in Jesus must be seen as a true part of Jesus who has expanded himself to reach everyone God intends to save. "Anybody who is convinced that he belongs to Christ must go on to reflect that we all belong to Christ no less than he does." (2 Cor.10:7).
If God restricted Himself only to Mormons or to Seventh Day Adventists or to Jehovah's Witnesses, for instance (as those theologies often imply), only a fraction of Christianity would be saved and billions of Christians (over 99%) would be lost.
Not because of a lack of righteousness, but because of the Law -- simply because they were in the wrong theology. Jesus freed us from the Law by bringing us to faith.
Perfection of faith makes a person like Christ, but perfection of theology only creates Pharisees.
Jesus is now our master, not theology.
Anyone who sincerely tries to obey the Gospel will not be turned away. When the Bible says that God has no favorites (Rom.2:10-11), it means just that. God does not have a favorite church and He does not have a favorite Christian.
He does not hate one and prefer another. Everyone who tries to live their life in the Gospel of Christ is acceptable to God. Babylon, therefore, is not a Christian church as Satan would have some of us believe. Babylon is this perverse secular world.
"You must not love this passing world or anything that is in the world. The love of the Father cannot be in any man who loves the world, because nothing the world has to offer -- the sensual body, the lustful eye, pride in possessions -- could ever come from the Father but only from the world; and the world, with all it craves for, is coming to an end; but anyone who does the will of God remains forever." (1 Jn.2:15-17).
There are thousands of different denominations of Christian churches in this world, yet Paul said that there are no divisions in Jesus Christ and for this reason, all the theological differences that we see on this planet now as a result of the scattering will disappear when the Lord returns in His glory.
These divisions were created by men, not by God. Jesus came to unite us. It is our own nature that holds onto the scattering.
When God sent Christ, He removed all the barriers that had once stood between us and divine reconciliation. It is man who creates and holds onto all these barriers, not God.
Some ministers, for instance, teach that babies should not be baptised. Others insist that a person go to school -- sometimes for a year -- before the church will agree to wash them in the blood of Christ.
God did not teach such things. It is men who teach them. Man and his theology sets up all the barriers which block our way to God.
The Holy Spirit is allowed to enter the new convert instantly as soon as the person asks to receive Him, but baptism of water is withheld by many until the recipient is made theologically eligible.
In this way the ministers have made their own water more important and harder to get than the Spirit of God. This is why Jesus told the ministers, "You bind heavy burdens on the people...and for the sake of your own traditions, you make God's word null and void." (Mt.15).
Jesus was talking to them about all the traditions which they set up to promote their own importance and to serve as a platform for their own views. He was telling these ministers that once they get some theological idea in their heads, the words of Jesus Christ are torn down to make room for it -- creating gaps in the Gospel and putting up barriers between the people and God.
God, however, set up no barriers between mankind and Jesus Christ -- just the opposite, He tore all of these barriers down. He has proved this by offering identical salvation in every church regardless of the legal rules and regulations each of them have imposed.
Lutherans, Baptists, Catholics, Greeks, fundamentalists, Episcopalians, Jehovah's Witnesses, even Mormons. They are all saved in the same way, and by the same Jesus Christ.
The baby receiving the same grace through baptism as the knowledgeable adult, and the one who is baptised instantly, the same grace as the one who has to wait until the minister is ready.
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