Thursday, August 17, 2017

Yeshua or Jesus? How Do We Call HIM?

            Don’t call HIM Jesus, call HIM Yeshua! Some messianic Jews and some Christians insist that Jesus should only be called Yeshua, “Some people claim that our Lord should not be referred to as “Jesus.” Instead, we should only use the name “Yeshua.” Some even go so far as to say that calling Him “Jesus” is blasphemous. Others go into great detail about how the name “Jesus” is unbiblical because the letter J is a modern invention and there was no letter J in Greek or Hebrew.”1

            Is it a sin to call our Lord as Jesus? Should we eliminate the name Jesus, henceforth?  

The Case for Yeshua

            Those who call HIM Yeshua claim the following:

            (1) Yeshua/Yahshua (Yay-shoo-ah or Yah-shoo-ah) is the recognized Jewish name for Jesus.

            (2) The name ‘Jesus’ is a pagan invention, for it is derived from the pagan source of Isus or Zeus.

            (3) The name Jesus is not found in the Scriptures, “The Bible was not written in English. What we read in English today are translations from other languages. The "New Testament" was written in Greek. Hence, the name "Jesus" is found nowhere in the Scriptures - it is a translation of the Greek name "Iesous" (pronounced "[ee]yeh-sooce"). "Iesous" came over into the Latin "Jesu" (pronounced "yehsoo") and finally into English as "Jesus." So in the most technical sense, saying "Jesus" is saying a twice-removed translation of the name we find in the "New Testament" Scriptures…”2

The Case for Jesus: Rejecting the Hebrew Roots Movement

            The Hebrew Roots movement is probably the main cause for the Jesus / Yeshua controversy. It aims to recover the Jewishness of Christianity:3

The premise of the Hebrew Roots movement is the belief that the Church has veered far from the true teachings and Hebrew concepts of the Bible…They teach that the understanding of the New Testament can only come from a Hebrew perspective and that the teachings of the Apostle Paul are not understood clearly or taught correctly by Christian pastors today. Many affirm the existence of an original Hebrew-language New Testament and, in some cases, denigrate the existing New Testament text written in Greek…they all adhere to a common emphasis on recovering the "original" Jewishness of Christianity…For the most part, those involved advocate the need for every believer to walk a Torah-observant life. This means that the ordinances of the Mosaic Covenant must be a central focus in the lifestyle of believers today as it was with the Old Testament Jews of Israel. Keeping the Torah includes keeping the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week (Saturday), celebrating the Jewish feasts and festivals, keeping the dietary laws, avoiding the "paganism" of Christianity (Christmas, Easter, etc.), and learning to understand the Scriptures from a Hebrew mindset…they prefer to be identified as "Messianic Christians." Many have come to the conclusion that God has "called" them to be Jewish and have accepted the theological position that the Torah (Old Testament law) is equally binding on Gentiles and Jews alike. They often wear articles of traditional Jewish clothing, practice Davidic dancing, and incorporate Hebrew names and phrases into their writing and conversations. Most reject the use of the name "Jesus" in favor of Yeshua or YHWH, claiming that these are the "true" names that God desires for Himself. In most cases, they elevate the Torah as the foundational teaching for the Church, which brings about the demotion of the New Testament, causing it to become secondary in importance and only to be understood in light of the Old Testament…
            But recovering the Jewishness of Christianity is unnecessary, “God never intended Gentiles to become one in Israel, but one in Christ. The influence of this movement is working its way into our churches and seminaries. It's dangerous in its implication that keeping the Old Covenant law is walking a "higher path" and is the only way to please God and receive His blessings. Nowhere in the Bible do we find Gentile believers being instructed to follow Levitical laws or Jewish customs; in fact, the opposite is taught. Romans 7:6 says, "But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code."”4

The Case for Jesus: The New Testament Mentions Jesus not Yeshua

            If Yeshua is the only appropriate reference to our Lord, the authors of the New Testament (the Lord’s disciples included), who wrote the New Testament in Greek, would have used the name ‘Yeshua,’ isn’t it? But they did not! They transliterated the name of our Lord to “Iesous” (pronounced as ee-ay-sooce').5

            The fact that the New Testament does not use Christ’s Hebrew name is an adequate refutation of the Jesus / Yeshua controversy, “The entire New Testament was written in Greek, and the word Jesus is the word that is used.  It is not the Hebrew  יֵשׁוּעַ which is Yeshua.  So, it is simple.  Jesus is properly called Jesus… the New Testament uses "Jesus" as the name and not a Hebrew name.  For people to say that Jesus' real name is Yashua or Yahusha or Yahushua, etc., is Jesus' real name is just a statement of pushing an agenda and not believing the New Testament text.”6

            Some people believe that the New Testament was written in Hebrew. This is a false belief, “Some claim that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew and then translated into Greek. However, the records of early church history do not support this assertion. Tatian, Papias, Tertullian and Irenaeus, to name but a few writers of the early church, describe the original writings and quote from them. Yet not a single quote is taken from a Hebrew text—all are taken from Greek texts. Although Papias asserts that Matthew compiled his early reports in Hebrew, no evidence is given. Early translations of the New Testament are all based on Greek texts. The Harmony of Tatian, translated in 170 AD, is based on a Greek original, as is The Muratorian Canon. The Old Latin version translated in 180 AD is based on a Greek original. Early Gothic, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Armenian and Palestinian versions are all based on Greek originals. Even the Aramaic versions of the New Testament are translations from the Greek (see The Books and the Parchments, by F. F. Bruce, p. 189). No evidence of a Hebrew original has been found in all the centuries that have followed the writing of the New Testament.”7

The Case for Jesus: Demons Tremble at the Name of Jesus

            Christians involved in the ministry of exorcism would claim that demons flee upon hearing Jesus’ name.

            If Yeshua is the only correct representation of the Lord, there is absolutely no need for the demons to respond to the name of Jesus. But the fact that the demons flee at the name of Jesus is an adequate and reasonable existential proof debunking the claim that Yeshua is the only correct reference to the Lord.

Conclusion

            Call HIM Jesus or Yeshua, it does not matter. But please do not claim that those who are calling HIM Jesus are sinning or blaspheming. 

           Let the words of these messianic Jews conclude this essay, “So now to the question…should we cease to call him Jesus?... If you relate to him by his name Jesus, then don’t let it be a burden to you to change to Yeshua if you don’t feel the need to. He knows his sheep, and his sheep know his voice...”8

            “In the words of Dr. Brown, “Do not be ashamed to use the name JESUS! That is the proper way to say his name in English—just as Michael is the correct English way to say the Hebrew name mi-kha-el and Moses is the correct English way to say the Hebrew name mo-sheh. Pray in Jesus’ name, worship in Jesus’ name, and witness in Jesus’ name. And for those who want to relate to our Messiah’s Jewishness, then refer to him by His original name Yeshua—not Yahshua and not Yahushua—remembering that the power of the name is not in its pronunciation but in the person to whom it refers, our Lord and Redeemer and King...”9

Endnotes:

1https://www.gotquestions.org/Yeshua-Jesus.html

2https://www.evangelicaloutreach.org/yeshua.htm

3https://www.gotquestions.org/Hebrew-roots.html?fref=gc

4Ibid.

5http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/iesous.html

6https://carm.org/jesus-name-really-yeshua

7http://www.cbcg.org/franklin/SA/SA_NT_Originally_Written_in_Greek.pdf?fref=gc

8https://www.oneforisrael.org/bible-based-teaching-from-israel/jesus-vs-yeshua/

9https://www.gotquestions.org/Yeshua-Hamashiach.html


Websites cited were last accessed on 17th August 2017. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Why Can’t Fallen Angels Repent?

            The notion that fallen angels cannot repent is, arguably, a common position held by many Christians. Since the Bible does not offer an explicit teaching on this theme, some Christians believe that fallen angels can repent. Since this is not an essential theme to uphold Historic Christianity, there is adequate scope for an agreement to differ.

            Understanding this theme will enable us to understand God’s expectation of man and the most appropriate response of man towards God.

Fallen Angels Cannot Repent

            Gotquestions.org states that fallen angels cannot repent:1

First, Satan (Lucifer) was one of the highest angels, perhaps the highest (Ezekiel 28:14). Lucifer—and all the angels—were continually in God’s presence and had knowledge of the glory of God. Therefore, they had no excuse for rebelling against God and turning away from Him. They were not tempted. Lucifer and the other angels rebelling against God despite what they knew was the utmost evil…Second, God did not provide a plan of redemption for the angels as He did for mankind…Finally, the Bible gives us no reason to believe that angels would repent even if God gave them the chance (1 Peter 5:8). The fallen angels seem completely devoted to opposing God and attacking God's people. The Bible says that the severity of God’s judgment varies according to how much knowledge a person possesses (Luke 12:48). The fallen angels, then, with the great knowledge they possessed, are greatly deserving of God’s wrath.

            Although the reasons cited are highly persuasive, the question still remains as to why the fallen angels cannot repent.

The Intriguing Inability to Repent (The Freewill Conundrum)

            Angels were created by God as good beings. Hence the angels that rebelled against God should have had the freedom or freewill that caused them to rebel. This is affirmed by Gotquestions.org, “Satan was an angel who was cast out of heaven along with many other angels who decided to follow him and chose to sin (2 Peter 2:4). In terms of free will, the Bible reveals this was an exercise of their ability to choose (Jude 1:6).”2

            Hence, it is reasonable to believe that the angels had freewill. They would not have rebelled against God, in the first place, had they not possessed freewill. Moreover, God could not have created them as evil beings, since evil does not proceed from God.

            Since these fallen angels possess freewill, shouldn’t they be able to repent (they know God since the time of their creation, hence they have the opportunity to observe HIS goodness.)? If they cannot repent, does it mean that they have lost their freedom entirely or just the freewill to repent?

            If we believe that fallen angels cannot repent, then we need to resolve the freewill mystery. If fallen angels cannot repent, then it is quite plausible that they were deprived of their freewill after their fall. On the other hand, if their freewill is intact, why are they unable to exercise their freewill to repent?

            There could be another perspective to resolving this conundrum.

            When a pastor was exorcising a demon from a young girl, the demon apparently told him that they are under the tight control of Satan. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation between that pastor and the demon:3

Demon: I hate you. You get to go to heaven. I just hate you people. I believed Satan. He told us that we were gonna be greater. Ohh its so late…
Pastor: What happened when you were cast out of heaven?
Demon: Mmmmm….Jesus…HE just…I don’t know…I don’t know…
Pastor: You want to go back to heaven, don’t you?
Demon: Yes, if only I had a chance…if only I had a chance I’ll go back…
Pastor: God might have mercy on you. If you stop doing the things you are doing and making people sin.
Demon: I can’t do that. I can’t do that. Satan won’t let me. I can’t stop people from doing bad things; that’s what I am supposed to do. He makes me do it.

            From this conversation, an inference that the demons cannot repent since they are under Satan’s control is quite plausible. But to formulate a doctrine from an infallible source cannot be bulletproof, for the conversation between the pastor and the demon may have been fictitious.

            Gotquestions.org states that the direct knowledge of God may be the cause for the inability of the fallen angels to repent (by virtue of being in God’s presence), “Lucifer—and all the angels—were continually in God’s presence and had knowledge of the glory of God. Therefore, they had no excuse for rebelling against God and turning away from Him. They were not tempted. Lucifer and the other angels rebelling against God despite what they knew was the utmost evil.”4

            So the key to the demons’ inability to repent, it seems, is their direct knowledge of God. This is a conjecture, if not explicitly validated by the Bible. If the Bible teaches about man’s inability to repent (a man who was a believer), then as an extension of that teaching, the inability of the demons to repent can be comprehended or justified.

            The Bible teaches that a man who has truly experienced God cannot be brought back to repentance if he/she rejects God, “For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt.” (Hebrews 6:4-6, RSV, Emphasis Mine). Such a person, after his rejection of God, still possesses freewill. Although this freewill precludes the ability to repent.

            Since the Bible categorically teaches that a man, who has truly experienced God, cannot repent if he rejects HIM, fallen angels who have rejected God cannot repent, for they rejected HIM while they were in HIS presence.

            The inability of the fallen angels to repent need not necessarily be construed as an unforgivable sin committed by the fallen angels. The doctrine of the unforgivable sin presupposes the ability to repent, for the process of forgiveness cannot be initiated without repentance.

            Therefore, the teaching that repentance is impossible for those who reject God after having truly experienced HIM provides clarity to the inability of the fallen angels to repent even while possessing freewill. (The metaphysics of this freewill that precludes the ability to repent would be an intriguing theme to discuss, but that’s for another day.)

God’s Expectation & Man’s Most Appropriate Response

            What does this theme (the inability of fallen angels to repent) teach us?

            God expects HIS people to love HIM and love HIM more. God has done everything for us to love HIM and not reject HIM. Our love for God would be strengthened if we [strive to] remain in HIS presence always.

            The world and its ruler – Satan, will do everything possible to distract us from loving God. If we consciously or unconsciously allow that distraction to gain strength in our Christian life, then our relationship with God would be on shaky ground.

            Therefore, our most appropriate response is to remain with God; love, obey and trust HIM at all times – be it in moments of joy or pain, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, NET).

Endnotes:

1https://www.gotquestions.org/angels-repent.html, last accessed on 10th August 2017.

2https://www.gotquestions.org/angels-free-will.html, last accessed on 10th August 2017.

3http://www.deonvsearth.com/i-wish-i-could-go-back-to-heaven-demon-speaks-through-16yr-old-girl-video/, last accessed on 10th August 2017.

4https://www.gotquestions.org/angels-repent.html, last accessed on 10th August 2017.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Modest Is Hottest…Is In The Bible

            The Christian world argues for and against modesty (in Christian women). (Oxford dictionary defines modesty as “(of a woman) dressing or behaving so as to avoid impropriety or indecency, especially to avoid attracting sexual attention.”1).

            A blog entitled ““Modest is Hottest” is not in the Bible” claims that “The Bible does not breathe a word of such nonsense.”2 The nonsense obviously refers to modesty - the women who do not dress modestly. The blogger’s chief contention is two-fold:

            (1) The Bible does not directly castigate women who do not dress modestly. (In fact, as his title states, modesty as a theme is not mentioned in the Bible.)

            (2) Women are not responsible for men’s choices (If men injure women for their ‘not-so’ modest dressing.).

            Therefore, the blogger implies that women can dress as they want to, “I hope today that you my sisters feel free to dress with both charity and charm, with dignity and dazzle, to adorn yourself in a way that makes you feel beautiful and confident, in a way that allows you to experience solidarity with other women of different bank account and/or breast size, to make your clothing choices based on the values of God’s kingdom (which includes wearing clothing that is ethically manufactured), and to feel free to let men take the responsibility for their own right eyes/hands and figure out how to be respectable men who treat all women, regardless of cleavage or legs for days, with dignity and respect.”3

Modesty Is Not In The Bible

            The premise that “modesty is not in the Bible, so women can dress as they want to” is flawed. Consider the reasoning that invalidates this premise:

            The argument that “something is not present in the Bible, so that something is permissible by God” is a fallacious argument. The logical form of this argument is:

            1. What does the Bible teach about modesty?

            2. The Bible does not mention modesty.

            Therefore

            3. The Bible permits women to choose their attire (without being concerned about modesty).

           This argument is equivalent to the fallacious claims of the detractors of Christianity, “the word Trinity is not present in the Bible, so the God of the Bible is not a Trinity.”

            It is irrelevant whether a particular practice or a particular word is explicitly mentioned in the Bible or not. The Bible offers principles for a godly Christian life (as much as the Bible teaches us that God is a Trinity). These godly principles should be deduced from the various pertinent teachings found in the Bible.

Distorting Biblical Teachings

            While discussing 1 Timothy 2:9, the blogger creates a false dichotomy of sensual modesty and materialistic modesty (modesty includes both), so to disregard the biblical principle behind modest attire, “This passage, which is about proper attitude and decorum in the church, though it may have a vague implicit reference to the sensual kind of modesty, is actually very explicitly referring to a materialistic kind of modesty.”4

            Think about this. Would the Bible mandate Christ’s disciples to live a hypocritical life? No! Never! The Bible teaches that our lives should be consistent i.e. who we are in the church is who we should be outside the church. So if we are to dress modestly in the church, the Bible, by no means, would implicitly or explicitly teach that we are permitted to dress sensually outside the church. This is fundamental to a Christlike lifestyle.

            The blogger seems to forget the fact that our Christian life should be a constant (24/7) worship of God. There should be no fundamental distinction between our life inside and outside the church,

            The argument that a particular teaching is not mentioned in the Bible and hence it is valid is so fragile because, in this time and age, explicit teachings found in the Bible are either religiously rejected or diligently distorted. Atheists reject God’s presence despite the Biblical assertion to God’s presence. Then there are those Christians who endorse homosexuality or gay lifestyle despite the Biblical assertion that homosexuality is a sin against God.

            The innate sinfulness of man is so creatively subtle that an effort to distort the biblical teachings is always within man’s intellectual frontier. Therefore, when man is so creatively agile to reject the explicit teachings found in the Bible, how much more of an effort would it take for him to disregard or distort the presence of an explicit or an implicit teaching in the Bible?

Is Temptation Lost?

            The blogger quotes Matthew 5: 27-32 to solely implicate the lustful man. This is both right and wrong. The blogger says, “Whoa! Not only does Jesus say nothing about female culpability in a man’s fantasies, he absolutely destroys any excuses a man might make about his inability to control his own urges. No, Jesus says, a man’s culpability begins and ends with his own dang eyes and right hand.”5

            While it is true that the sinner is responsible for his/her sins, it is also true that we are not called to lead others to stumble, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!” (Matthew 18: 6-7, NIV).

            Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Thus she sinned against God. So should not God punish only Eve?

            Why did God curse the serpent? The serpent tempted and caused Eve to stumble and sin. Hence sin includes both the sinner and the instigator (tempter).

            Consider this perspective on sin in our context. If a woman wears sensually provocative attire and if that woman in that attire tempts (either actively or passively) another person to sin, then the wrath of God is upon both the tempter and the doer of the sin. This is a non-negotiable tenet in Christianity.

Who Judges Modesty?

            God judges!

            The blogger contends that “No one really knows what “immodest” means….There’s no universal agreed-upon standard for what turns men on. It’s a self-defeating exercise from the outset.”

            With eternity in perspective, we are answerable to God. God in HIS infinite wisdom knows what modesty is and is not. Our knowledge of God through our prayer life and our understanding of God’s Word would lead us to dress appropriately, for our attire should glorify God always.

Why Cover?

            Why do we even cover ourselves? The Bible provides us an answer, “When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (Genesis 3: 6-7, NET).

            When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they realized good, evil and their nakedness. Hence they covered themselves. So covering ourselves is an appropriate response since we, the fallen beings, are in God’s presence.

            But that’s not it. God clothed Adam and Eve, “The Lord God made garments from skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21, NET). There is a valuable lesson to be learnt from this deed of God.

            If covering ourselves is unnecessary, God would not have made garments for Adam and Eve. The fact that God made garments for the purpose of covering ourselves, teaches us that covering is of utmost importance.

            Consider this from another vantage point. If I have a perfect body, then I would most likely be tempted to wear clothes that would emphasize the perfection. If I have an imperfect body structure, then I would wear clothes that would mask the imperfection.

            Emphasizing the perfection God has blessed us with is in one particular sense to emphasize God’s blessings. But in another sense, our emphasis of God’s perfection endowed upon us could make a person, who does not possess that perfection, feel deprived and sad. So do we still desire to flaunt our perfection? This is up to each person and his/her relationship with God.

Is It Sinful To Wear Provocative Attire?

            Do you think that a woman who does not wear anything provocative, never sins? No! Sin originates from our heart (Matthew 15:19). Everybody is prone to sin, irrespective of our attire.

            The Bible mandates modest attire. Since the Bible is the Word of God, modesty is the way forward for Christians – both men and women included. Any deviation from this instruction is to go against the Word of God. 

Endnotes:

1https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/modest           

2https://medium.com/@joelherbert/modest-is-hottest-is-not-in-the-bible-49b58ed1fdf6

3Ibid.

4Ibid.


5Ibid.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

September 23, 2017, Revelation 12 Sign; What Should We Expect?

            The prophetical arm of Christianity is well and active. Something unusual is going to happen on September 23, 2017, they contend! Prophecy-loving Christians are captivated and are eagerly waiting for September 23rd to dawn.

What Will Happen On September 23rd, 2017?

            Christian apologetics website, Answers in Genesis, explains the event that is to occur on September 23rd, 2017:1

On this date, the sun will be in the constellation Virgo (the virgin), along with the moon near Virgo’s feet. Additionally, Jupiter will be in Virgo, while the planets Venus, Mars, and Mercury will be above and to the right of Virgo in the constellation Leo. Some people claim that this is a very rare event (allegedly only once in 7,000 years) and that it supposedly is a fulfillment of a sign in Revelation 12. Revelation 12:1–2 (ESV) reads:
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.
So we have here a woman (Virgo) in the sky (heaven), along with the sun, and the moon at her feet. What about the 12 stars?...there are nine stars in Leo, but with the addition of the three planets (which appear as bright stars), there are 12 stars. Since Leo is to the upper right of Virgo’s head, one might see this as a crown of 12 stars, though these 12 stars will be far above Virgo’s head. (Emphasis Mine.)

Why Is This Event Significant To Christians?

            Some well-meaning Christians believe that this heavenly event will mark the commencement of the end times wherein the Lord’s return is to be expected & the Church would be raptured. Tribulation period would commence. Israel would be attacked by the anti-semitic forces and Iran may be invaded by the Sunni Muslims.

            (These events are a random listing, not in any order. There are quite a few schools of thought within the prophetic wing of Christianity. Some schools of thought passionately oppose the belief that September 23rd would usher the rapture of the church, for they maintain that the signs pertain only to Israel.)

Is This Prophecy Flawed?

            The celestial arrangement on September 23rd, 2017 should be linked to Revelation 12 only if it is a rare event. It cannot be connected to Revelation 12 if this event occurs intermittently.

            This is not a rare event, contends Christopher M. Graney, who is the Professor of physics and astronomy at Jefferson Community & Technical College in Louisville, Kentucky (USA). He affirms that this event has occurred in the past:2

the sun in Virgo, the moon at Virgo’s “feet”, and Jupiter in the constellation are regular occurrences. This leaves the planets at the “head” (the number depending on the number of stars granted to Leo) as the determining factor in making a “momentous” celestial arrangement. Indeed – while various Internet sources speak of the specific celestial arrangement here as being “unique in human history” or “once in 7,000 years” – in fact, it is not unique to September 23, 2017.
This basic arrangement happened before — in September 1827, in September 1483, in September 1293, and in September 1056. These are all shown at the end of this post. I only searched back one thousand years, from 2017 to 1017 — there are undoubtedly other examples outside of that time period, and probably a couple examples that I missed within that time period…
Bottom line: From the standpoint of astronomy, there’s nothing unique or unusual about the sun, moon and planets – or the constellation Virgo – on September 23, 2017, despite claims on the Internet of a unique and significant celestial event, supposedly “mirroring” the Bible’s Book of Revelation. In the past 1,000 years, this same event has happened at least four times already, in 1827, 1483, 1293, and 1056.
        The presence of Jupiter near Virgo, very specifically, is also not an rare event, “Some people claim that this year Jupiter will be near what is supposed to be the womb of Virgo, so it represents the child that the woman is about to give birth to. Jupiter takes nearly 12 years to orbit the sun, so this is the period with which Jupiter moves through the zodiacal constellations, spending about a year in each one. In fact, I first saw Jupiter when it was close to Virgo in 1969—I have watched Jupiter pass through four complete orbits since. This means that Jupiter appears in the part of Virgo corresponding to her womb, along with the sun in Virgo and the moon at her feet for a day or two every 12 years or so. The last time this happened was in 2005, so why was that event not heralded for its prophetic significance? I suspect that it is because YouTube was very new then, having started in February of that year. This year, with the huge popularity of YouTube, it is much easier to propagate these ideas.”3

            This celestial event will not be completely visible to all people, hence it need not be a sign from God, “One of the purposes that God ordained for the stars is for them to be signs (Genesis 1:14). However, to truly be a sign, shouldn’t such things be obvious, at least to a few people? Since the sun will be in Virgo at the time, virtually none of Virgo’s stars will be visible. The three planets in Leo will be visible in the early morning that day, but all will be low in the southeastern sky. Venus is very bright, so it will be relatively easy to spot; however, Mars and Mercury will not be, because they will be much fainter, and they won’t rise until about the time morning twilight begins. The thin crescent moon will be visible in the evening sky, low in the southwest. Jupiter may be visible lower in the southwest, though it will be difficult, since it will set before evening twilight ends. That is, not all of this “sign” will be visible, and those parts that will be visible won’t be visible at the same time. While this event may show up nicely on a computer screen, God set the lights in the “firmament of heaven” (not on computer screens) to be for signs.”4 (Emphasis Mine.).

Reminisce The Four Blood Moons Prophecy

            Failed prophecies are not new to us!

            Do recollect the most recent four blood moons prophecy in 2014-15, “The four blood moon event is creating considerable interest in certain segments of Christianity that anticipate the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy about Christ’s second coming or the end times. The four blood moon event in 2014-15 is also predicted to bring a change / disaster upon the nation of Israel.”5

            The Christian world has not yet fully recovered from the utter failure of the four blood moons prophecy, “Pastor John Hagee and Pastor Mark Biltz’s noses are bloodied after the recent four blood moons episode. They aroused the end times passions of millions via their electric four blood moons prophesies about Christ’s return, significant changes to Israel and probable disasters upon our world. Christ has not returned. Israel exists without any historic shifts. The activities of our world are rather routine. The prophecies of Pastors Hagee and Biltz are absurd.”6

How Should We Respond To This Current Prophecy?

            Respond with utmost caution. Be cognizant of the presence of a substantial repudiation of this prophecy. But there is a greater danger here and I have emphasized it before, “There is a real danger in these end-times prophecies. These end-times prophecies deceptively indulge our egos to make us feel like gods.

            God alone knows the future perfectly well. We desire to know our future. If and when we know our future, we feel like God.

            When these (godly) figures prophesy, the god in us is invigorated. Silently yet effectively, they play the same card that Satan played with Eve, “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…” (Genesis 3:5, NIV, Emphasis Mine). We then fall prey to Satan’s deception,

            We want our eyes to be opened about the future. We want to be like God.

            Who wouldn’t want to get to know the future? Our life and hope is built on our future. It gives us immense pleasure to know what lies ahead. We feel like God when we know our future.

            When people predict the future, they seat us on a presumptuous throne of God. Since we love to be God, we love prophecies. These end times prophecies tickle the god-bone in us.

            If we do not know our future, we will depend on God. But when we know our future, our need for God diminishes.

            It doesn’t matter if their noses are bloodied now. They would not worry. They are not accountable, you see.

            They will continue doing their business. As long as we are gullible, we would keep buying their prophetic antics. Their business is to continue prophesying for they are certain of a dogged audience drooling eagerly to devour their predictions.

            As long as we Christians support their ridiculously asinine end times prophecies, the non-christian world will enjoy and laugh at this farce of a comedy show in Christendom. Yes, we are those farcical and foolish actors.

            When we buy these incredibly insane prophecies, do you really think that the non-Christian world will buy the gospel of Christ?”7

            Prophecies have its place in Christianity. But beware of the false prophets! Please think and pray about your response to such prophesies.

Endnotes:

1https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/stars/what-will-happen-september-23-2017/

2http://earthsky.org/human-world/biblical-signs-in-the-sky-september-23-2017

3https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/stars/what-will-happen-september-23-2017/

4Ibid.

5http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2014/03/four-blood-moons-in-2014-15-christs.html

6http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2015/10/four-blood-moons-2-bloody-noses.html


7Ibid.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Pastors Who Destroy The Church

            Good Christian churches are the need of the hour. An effective Christian church will essentially nurture spiritually powerful Christians.1 At the helm of an effective church is always a Pastor who will do everything that the Lord Jesus Christ wants him to do – the man after God’s own heart (cf. Acts 13: 22).

            While we wish such churches are rampant in today’s world, we are often disappointed. A vast majority of churches around us are nowhere close to being spiritually effective. Spiritually effective churches need not necessarily boast a massive attendance or a massive bank balance or a massive growth. These material aspects do not indicate a spiritually powerful church.

            The point that I wish to emphasize is rather basic and fundamental. The spiritual health of the church is directly proportional to the spiritual health of the Pastor who leads that church. If the Pastor of a church is spiritually effective – who will do everything that the Lord Jesus Christ wants him to do – the church that he/she leads will also be spiritually effective and powerful.

            On the other hand, if the Pastor is spiritually weak, the church will also be spiritually weak. A spiritually weak church is doomed for destruction of the worst kind – a spiritual destruction that could have eternal implications. An article entitled “8 Dangerous Pastors Who Will Destroy Your Church” describes the characteristics of pastors who destroy the church.2 An excerpt from this article is mentioned below:

…Paul referred to those who would mutilate the church (think of wild dogs tearing into a defenseless victim), misuse the church (working their evil, which comes in all kinds of varieties) and mislead the church (pushing their false doctrine, in this case that believers had to be circumcised to be saved). I love the way Beeson Divinity School’s Frank Thielman puts it in the NIV Commentary, “Beware the curs! Beware the criminals! Beware the cutters!” All right. Beware of these preacher-types…

1. Single issue pastors
…a “single-issue candidate” has one big item on his mind, some change he or she wants to introduce …There are pastors like this, men who have one huge thing on their plate and all their sermons and programs revolve around it…In most cases, pastors need to be generalists, not specialists. They are called upon to be students and teachers of God’s word, to deliver great sermons, to administer the staff, and to oversee a church that ministers to all age groups, that ministers in the community and touches the world with the gospel. The church needs to be evangelistic, but also mission-minded, Bible-teaching and good stewards. There may be a place for a pastor who does one big thing well and all other aspects of the ministry do not interest him, but chances are, your church is not the place for him.

2. Politically ambitious pastors
In this case, it’s denominational politics. I’ve known pastors whose driving force was to become known throughout the Southern Baptist Convention and be elected for high office. Why in the world any right-thinking man of God would want that burden is beyond me, but I suppose it takes all types. The problem—well, one of many—is that he will be inclined to use the church to further his goals, even to the point of manipulating programming and misusing people.

3. The predators
Jesus spoke of shepherds who watch the sheep, hirelings who do not stick around when the sheep are threatened, and wolves who are the enemies of all sheep…A shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, Jesus said. A hireling has no appetite for conflict…is not devoted to the flock and skips town (or locks himself in his study!) at the first threat of trouble. The wolves are the ones who make the trouble (see Acts 20:28-30)… Sexual predators are the worst kind…

4. The combative
Paul told Pastor Timothy, “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all… ” (II Timothy 2:24)….A combative personality in the pulpit can be entertaining the first time or two. But a steady diet of war-making from the shepherd gets old quick and brands your church as a warmongering congregation (since pastors tend to make the people like themselves).

5. The immature
Ministers who have never grown up tend to be quick to take offense, cannot handle correction and worry about their careers. Any criticism is unwelcome and the critic becomes marked as an enemy. Many immature pastors can be spotted by their use of slang, by their adolescent clothing and hair styles, and by their discomfort in associating with people old enough to be their parents and grandparents.

6. The mentally unhealthy
Now, poor mental health is a problem for humanity, not just one particular group. But you do not want in your pulpit a man (or woman, if your church allows women to serve as shepherds) who struggles with ego (either too much or too little), who is still trying to find his own identity, who has anger issues and whose fragile confidence always needs bolstering. Such leaders are trouble.

7. Carnal
I suppose this is redundant, since most of the above indicates a pastor still fleshly and not spiritual. But I’m thinking of one pastor I knew who always had an off-color joke to share, could always be counted on to find a sexual slant to any incident, and who was critical of other ministers.

8. Loners
Does this pastor have friends in the ministry? Does he attend meetings of pastors in his city? Or does he isolate himself from his colleagues as though he fears contamination?...One of the most reliable indications of bad mental health in a pastor is his isolation. Whether from a lack of trust of other ministers or a sense of inferiority in himself, nothing good comes from his self-imposed protective quarantine.

            Then there is the Selfish Pastor who cares only to retain his job. He would do just about anything to retain his job. The Self-Glorifying Pastor would so intently glorify himself that the Lord will decrease and he will increase in his church (cf. John 3: 30). The Make-All-People-Happy Pastor would only care to please everyone around him. When he strives to please the sinful man, he, most certainly, would betray the Lord. The Pro-Rich-Pro-Power Pastor would absolutely dedicate himself to serve the whims and fancies of the rich and powerful members of his congregation. This, in essence, is against the teaching of the Lord (cf. Matthew 6: 24, 19: 24). Pastors with these character traits would also destroy their church.

            Having said this, an existential dilemma needs to be resolved. The dilemma is this, “What do we do if we worship in a church being led by a dangerous Pastor?”

            In order to resolve this dilemma, we need to dig deep into the fundamentals of the Christian faith. The Bible teaches us to, first and foremost, love the Lord our God. Christ should lead our every thought, word and deed. (Man cannot lead us, God alone should lead us.)

            We should be ardent disciples of the Triune God. Our prayer life should ensure our discernment of HIS will for our life. We should be diligent students of God’s Word. Thus we will remain in Christ always.

            When we remain in Christ, we would be able to discern the Lord’s directive to resolve this, and every dilemma, that may assault our Christian existence.

Endnotes

1 Spiritually powerful churches or spiritually powerful Christians would love the Lord Jesus more than anything else in this world. They would constantly worship and grow in HIM. They would always remain in Christ so to recognize and defeat the schemes of the evil one. Since they know that they have been saved by the grace of God, they will be gracious in all their interpersonal relationships. They would be in the world but not of the world.


2 http://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/170628-joe-mckeever-dangerous-pastors-that-will-destroy-your-church.html

Thursday, July 13, 2017

An Amazing Insight Into The Prayers Of Apostle Paul

            A brief study of Apostle Paul’s prayers reveals an amazing spiritual insight. Christians would continue to grow spiritually (become spiritually mature), if we prayed like the Apostle Paul.

            In his letters to the churches, Paul prayed more for their spiritual needs than their material needs. Historic Christianity is incessantly under attack. These attacks are intended to destroy a sincere Christian. Hence sincere Christians require greater spiritual strength to overcome the attacks of Satan.

            We can grow spiritually, if only we ask (pray) for it. If we pray more for our spiritual needs, we would be spiritually stronger Christians. 

            As you read the prayers of the Apostle Paul, I pray that you would be filled with a burning desire to pray more for your spiritual needs than your material needs. The following compilation of his prayers is from the website of the Regent University.1

PRAYERS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL, TOPICALLY ARRANGED
(NASB unless otherwise noted)

1.) FOR GODLY LIVING:

-- 2 Cor. 13:7 "Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right…."

-- 2 Cor. 13:9 (NIV) "...and our prayer is for your perfection."

-- Phil. 1:9-11 "And this I pray…that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ."

-- Col. 1:9-10 "…we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will…so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects…."

-- 1 Thes. 3:12-13 "…may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men…so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus…."

-- 1 Thes. 5:23 (NIV) "May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints."

-- 2 Thes. 1:11 (NIV) "With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may coun you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith."

-- 1 Tim. 2:1 "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity."

2.) FOR MINISTRY OPPORTUNITY AND SUCCESS:

-- Rom. 1:9-11 "For God…is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you in order that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established."

-- Rom. 15:30-31 "Now I urge you, brethren…to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints...."

-- Eph. 6:19 "...and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of mymouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel...."

-- Col. 1:10 (NIV) "And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord…bearing fruit in every good work…."

-- 1 Thes. 3:10 (NIV) "Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith."

-- 2 Thes. 1:11 (NIV) "We constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith."

-- 2 Thes. 3:1 "Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you."

-- Phile.1:6 (NIV) "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a powerful understanding of every good thing we have in Christ."

3.) FOR STRENGTHENING:

-- Eph. 3:16-17 (NIV) "I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith."

-- Col. 1:10-11 (NIV) "And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord…being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…."

-- 1 Thes. 3:13 (NIV) "May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God…."

-- 2 Thes. 2:16 "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word."

4.) FOR INCREASED KNOWLEDGE...

A. OF THE LORD

-- Eph. 1:17 (NIV) "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better…."

-- Col. 9-10 "…we have not ceased to pray for you…that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord...increasing in the knowledge of God."

B. Of HIS WILL:

-- Phil. 1:9-10 (NIV) "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best…."

-- Col. 1:9 "we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding...."

C. OF HIS LOVE:

 -- Eph. 3:17b-19 (NIV) "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power…to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge…."

D. OF THE HOPE OF HIS CALLING:
-- Eph. 1:18 "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling…."

E. OF THE RICHES WE HAVE:

-- Eph. 1:18 "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know…what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…."

-- Phile.1:6 (NIV) "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ."

F. OF HIS POWER:

-- Eph. 1:18-19 "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know...what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe."

5.) FOR MORE LOVE:

-- Phil. 1:9 "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and discernment…."

-- 1 Thes. 3:12 "…and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men, just as we also do for you."

-- 2 Thes. 3:5 "And may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ."

6.) FOR GRACE AND PEACE:

-- 1 Cor. 1:3 "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

(Also similarly: 2 Cor. 1:2, 2 Cor. 13:14, Gal. 1:3, Gal 6:18, Eph. 1:2, Eph. 6:23-24, Phil. 1:2, Phil 4:23, Col. 1:26, 1 Thes. 1:1b, 1 Thes. 5:28, 2 Thes. 1:2, 1 Tim. 1:2, 1 Tim 6:21b, 2 Tim 1:2, Tit. 1:4, Phile. 1:3)

 -- 2 Thes. 3:16 "Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance."

7.) FOR CHRISTIANS TO BE IN ONE ACCORD:

-- Rom. 15:5-6 "Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus; that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

8.) FOR ISRAEL'S SALVATION:

-- Rom. 10:1 "Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them [Israel] is for their salvation."

9.) FOR CHRIST TO DWELL IN OUR HEARTS THROUGH FAITH:

-- Eph. 3:14-17 "…I bow my knees before the Father…that He would grant you…to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith...."

10.) FOR MORE HOPE:

-- Rom. 15:13 "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

11.) FOR THE FULLNESS OF GOD:

-- Eph. 3:17-19 (NIV) "And I pray that you…may have power…to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Endnotes:

1 https://www.regent.edu/lib/research/divinity/divinity-paul.pdf