So I was catching up on the news this morning and ran across an article titled 50 Christian Statues Defaced and Decapitated in Germany (Heatstreet by way of The Drudge Report 12/15/16). My first reaction was “Huh? Christian statues?” My next reaction was, “This is supposed to be bad news?”
Vandalism is not good, but why do we have “Christian” statues? I mean, there are statues, and then there are “Christian” things, but not Christian statues. God specifically tells believers not to have statues. So you would think we wouldn’t have “Christian” statues in the first place, or the destruction of them would be good news.
I hate to say it because of all the wrong things about Islam, but this is one of the very few things that Muslims have right. They really detest images such as statues or idols. This they borrow from the Law of Moses, and you would think the real “Christian” thing would be to do the same. Most Muslims stick to their laws, however twisted, way better than “Christians” ever thought to do themselves with their Law. But Christianity has become so watered down that God’s Word is just a distant echo in many of the sound rooms of church.
If we were as loyal and zealous about our true God as Muslims are about their false one the world would be a much different and better place. Our young people would be trained up to know the Word of God instead of the words of American Idol. If we stuck to the Christian law (actually the Law of Christ, Moses or God) then we wouldn’t have any such thing as “Christian” statues, we wouldn’t be losing kids to the strictures of Islam, and we wouldn’t be losing families to adultery and divorce. Among the many things that are wrong about Islam, they’ve got a point about the mushy “Christians.”
I’m sorry. Every time I think about this subject, or read about someone who has positively identified The Beast, I crack up. Or at least chuckle a little. The reason it’s so humorous is that the methods used for identification, and the results of the methods, are mostly based on personal feelings. Or perhaps what I call newspaper exegesis (interpreting by newspaper headlines). I haven’t seen a result yet that comes from an understanding of the Bible. The best method of identification is right there in black and white. Or black, white and red. Or whatever fruity colors are used in your version.
The Beast is the coming ruler spoken of in the Bible who will sway nearly the whole world to follow his lead. As a token of appreciation, he will cause all who do so to receive a mark on the hand or forehead, without which no one can buy or sell. His helper is the false prophet, one who looks like a lamb and is called the anti-Christ or ‘instead of’ Christ. This helper of The Beast is the one who causes all to receive the mark. These two will be backed by the serpent or dragon, also called the deceiver and Satan. This unholy trinity will unite much of the population in a rebellion against God and His Christ. They will not succeed, but while they have their run there will be much death, destruction and wrath poured out from God. The wrath part is why I think this is still future, though others think it has already happened.
The Beast has been identified as Hitler, or rulers/kings like him. Some have pegged President Obama as The Beast. This is funny to me because as bad as Obama is he isn’t a pimple on the butt of The Beast. Various other leaders from time to time have been sometimes hysterically identified as the Beast. At one time people in the Calvary Chapel denomination along with many others were all excited about a computer in Belgium (early ’80’s) that was called the beast (at the time it could have numbered every person on the planet). Lately some are pointing to a smooth-talking atheist in Greece that has got them worried.
The problem with identifying The Beast comes in when people look right past the obvious. Especially the church. We will look everywhere except in the mirror. We are so blinded by men’s teachings, traditions and philosophies that we don’t recognize an important fact:
The Beast will be just as acceptable to the church as to the general populace.
Yes I know. That will be a shocking statement to those who think that the “church” is taken away in a rapture before all the really bad stuff starts, like a fairy tale princess in a flying pumpkin coach. However, the rapture without question is appended to the resurrection, and that resurrection clearly doesn’t happen till the end of the Tribulation. See our video Whole Bible Prophecy: The Rapture for more explanation on this.
So “the church” will be here during the tribulation. That’s the first boo boo in the whole identification process. There will be many who don’t even realize it at first, and many who will be upset when they find out they’ve been lied to by their leaders.
Some people point to the absence of ‘the church’ in Revelation 4 through about 19 as proof that the church is gone. But here’s a fun fact for you: there is no church in the Bible. At all. It exists only in translations. The ekklesia (the Greek word translated by the English word ‘church’) is simply an assembly or congregation, and is found throughout history in the Word. A group of people. Ekklesia is used of Israel in the Septuagint translation, but isn’t translated as ‘church.’ It is just translated as congregation or assembly. So technically ‘the assembly’ is much different than ‘the church’ and includes all believers everywhere and everywhen. This explains the absence of ‘the church’ in Revelation. Especially the modern church. It was never there in the first place.
The typical church-goer can’t (or will not later) properly identify The Beast because they are not grounded on the Word, do not read it except for a few favorite verses, and refuse to do what it says. Instead they have crafted for themselves a seeker-friendly social gospel that only vaguely resembles anything biblical, with a hippie flower-child Jesus letting everyone behave as they choose. We have leaders telling us that hell doesn’t exist, parts of God’s Word are old and irrelevant, men’s traditions are the new covenant, and sexual immorality is really okay. If this doesn’t sound like “tolerating that woman Jezebel” or allowing the teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans (Revelation 1-3) I don’t know what does. The church has watered down the message of God for themselves so much that it isn’t even recognizable as God’s. By and large they have removed the whole nutrition of His Law from the message, and are therefore not grounded on the Rock.
For these reasons and a few others I believe The Beast will look a lot like a mega-church pastor, and teach many of the same things. He will be so very acceptable to the majority of the church because He will look and act just like they do. The church looks the same as the world, acts the same, and believes the same except for a little different Jesus flavoring. The Beast will bridge the (very small) gap between the world and the church very easily.
That might sound hard to some of you. But truth is only hard to the hard-hearted.
It is written that The Beast has blasphemous names on its heads and is given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words (Rev. 13). If you do a comprehensive word study you will find out that blasphemy is, at the bottom, either attributing evil to God’s works or attributing the works of God to evil (Satan, the Beast, or the anti-Christ get the credit instead of God). I think this means The Beast will claim that he is the author of works that are God’s, and will blame God for evil he and his two buddies do and the evil that is in the world in general. Right will be wrong and wrong will be painted as right.
The lack of grounding in the Bible for the majority of self-named Christians will contribute to the acceptance of The Beast. The blasphemy practiced by the Church (calling God’s Law irrelevant for instance) along with sexual immorality (adultery, divorce, fornication, homosexuality) and watered-down teaching from the Balaams, Jezebels and Nicolaitans among us will combine to allow easy acceptance by stone-hearted people.
11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 ESV).
Hey. I’m not saying this. I’m getting it right from the Bible. Read the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 1-3 if you don’t believe me. The people described in negative terms there have always been around and always a part of the so-called church. The door that Jesus is standing at and knocking is the door of the church. It’s just that in modern times a greater percentage of wolves in sheep’s clothing are present and the corruption is more prevalent than in the past. See our video The Whole Picture: Who Put the Church in Charge? at http://youtu.be/3dkxJTQCriI for more on this.
A part of identifying The Beast is helped by figuring out who is spoken of in Revelation 17. There we see a woman riding on The Beast who has a name of mystery on her forehead that is “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” She looks pretty, dressed in purple and scarlet (the colors of ruling or royalty), with jewelry to match, but her main claim to fame is sexual immorality and murder of God’s people. She is seated on many waters picturing peoples, multitudes, nations and languages, so this woman is everywhere on earth. She is riding The Beast but he and the kings who give him allegiance (the horns) hate her and destroy her.
The Catholic Church has been identified as mystery religion Babylon, but that is too limited. Catholicism has only been around for about 1,800 years, and has not covered the planet that thoroughly during those centuries. This mystery religion has been around at least since the time of the tower of Babel (Hebrew meaning gate of the deity; Babylon is Greek for the same city/kingdom), which is where we see the record of the first idolatrous behavior (although there was probably much before the flood too). I think it is more likely that this woman is all religion that leads away from God with idolatry, sexual immorality and blasphemy. This includes all paganism, all idolatry, all witchcraft and voodoo and the like. It can even include the church (otherwise Jesus would not be warning the seven churches of the teachings of Balaam, Jezebel, and the Nicolaitans). Idolatry is cheating on God, with or without a statue. The modern church is certainly cheating on God, which will put them right in the same chariot with Babylon on the Beast. The Beast tolerates the false religion for a while, but he wants the first place of worship so he destroys Babylon because she’s in the way. It’s like that movie The Highlander. There can be only one. The Catholic Church certainly is pagan and idolatrous, and part of the mystery religion Babylon, but does not carry the whole burden by itself. There are many other churches and synagogues that are joined to her in immorality.
So identifying The Beast is kind of an exercise in futility for the church. You can’t very well find his hiding place when you’re looking everywhere but in the church building. Inside, this guy will indeed be a ravenous beast, but on the outside he will appear as a fluffy little sheep. He won’t appear to be the big bad wolf that most people are expecting. He will speak beguiling words; words that are close to God’s but just a little bit off at first. Just like the words of most church leaders and followers of today. He will say things that sound good and appeal to our self-seeking pride, and because the average Christian will not be grounded in the Word of God they will be willing to accept him and his instead-of-Christ prophet even to receiving the mark. They will “believe in him” so much they will gladly do whatever he says. They will be enamored of his teachings on sexual immorality, tolerance and unconditional love because these teachings will mirror their own. He will be able to quote the Bible better than most Christians, albeit with his own twisted slant and matching almost word for word the text of many sermons. He will mix science with sorcery and probably claim to be the next evolutionary step for all mankind. The image fashioned by the anti-Christ could very likely be a clone who will speak as the serpent did in the Garden, offering a path to be “like God.”
Believers will need to be filled with the whole of the Word, have patient endurance, reject the teachings of Jezebel and her ilk, and hear what the Spirit says to the congregations that make up the Body. Start tuning your eyes and ears to see Him and listen for His instructions by taking in all of His Words and doing them. Now. While there’s still time. Repent, go through the open door, buy from Him gold refined by fire and white garments to cover the shame of nakedness along with some salve to anoint your eyes. Be zealous and repent.
I can’t help it. I really like this for some reason. So I’m posting it everywhere I can. If you’ve already seen it, thanks for watching. If you haven’t you are really missing out. Even if I am a proud grandpa. Raine puts so much expression into her signing.
Off her left shoulder is her brother Isaiah, and the next spot further to Raine’s left (blond hair) is her sister Keira. So we got a bonus of all three in one song.
Of course, I absolutely do not approve of the person who wrote and sang the song – a guy by the name of Ray Boltz. After a long career as a “Christian” musician he recently declared he was gay. He is now divorced from a wife of several decades. Typically, this is modern Christianity. The church does not teach the Bible, only opinions about the Bible, and this is one of the results. I’m sure he was encouraged to sin this way by all the “affirmation” homosexuals are receiving in the church. This is the fruit of the anti-christ. The guy sings nicely, and composes some nice songs. The sentiment is nice. But all the singing about Jesus doesn’t mean a thing if it is only coming from the lips. If it is not in line with God’s Word, it doesn’t matter how much sentiment you put into it – sincere lawlessness is still lawlessness. And Jesus will still declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:23)
I don’t like mixing these two things – my granddaughter’s excellent work in ASL and a singer who has chosen a destructive lifestyle change. But something needs to be said, even if it is not pleasant. As far as “affirming” the homosexual lifestyle choice, people who do so are just as destructive as the lifestyle itself. See our video ‘Am I A Homophobe?’ for just a start on the facts, statistics, and quotes from homosexual authors concerning the awfulness of this high-handed sin.
I was thinking about what to call today. For pagans, it’s Easter Sunday. I know that’ll get me in trouble. I know I’m not supposed to actually connect people’s behavior directly with something that is not biblical. I usually don’t; I try to teach the truth and let people make up their own minds. But it’s tough in some cases to be neutral. Some people just make themselves an easy target.
So I was thinking we could call today “Ham Sunday.” But then we’d have to call Christmas, Ham (whatever day it falls on), but this might cause some confusion. Then I was thinking we could call it pagan Day but there isn’t enough discrimination there between days. All the other so-called Christian holidays are also pagan. We generally say “Merry Pagan Holiday” which is pretty good, but lacks a little oomph. Naw, I needed something more fitting. Something more descriptive. Something more flexible. Because after all that is the name of the Christian game they are playing. After considering several other names, I settled on Opposite Day.
Opposite Day is where we do whatever is opposite of what God wants. Does He want us to stay away from unclean meat? Well, let’s make it part of our tradition. Does He want us not to have images that might lead people to worship gods other than Him? No problem. We just use our freedom in Christ as well as the cosmic eraser of Christ to sanctify unholy things.
I know that the name Opposite Day is not particularly discriminating. All the standard Christian holidays, heck, every day, is Opposite Day when you have freedom in Christ to rub God’s face in our disobedience. But I capitalize the term so that we know that today is a SPECIAL opposite day where we deliberately pick opposites of God’s desires. Then we coat them in sentiment and tradition which we call “love” but are the opposite of God’s love, and comfort ourselves that our “intentions” are good though opposite of God’s. As long as we “think” it’s okay and as long as we don’t “intend” to do opposite, we can coat our perversions with the opposite of God’s intent and still call it good.
We do it all the time anyway. Immorality takes many different forms, but we can use the techniques we learn in Opposite Day to cover all the other opposites we do too. Sexual immorality becomes an alternate lifestyle. Marriage vows become marriage promises. Sentiment is substituted for love. We’ll just wash some feet to make up for all the theft, adultery, and other opposites we’ve accepted and confirmed.
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24, ESV)
Applying the Law takes judgment. Most people are scared of this because either they don’t have it or they think of it only as condemnation. There is a judging that is outside of God’s Word, and that is wrong judgment. Or there is only a very loose effort to use His Word and we substitute our own knowledge for it. This is the opposite of right judgment. We also have to judge ourselves first, to make sure we are clean and properly prepared for judging with right judgment.
But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:32, ESV)
Some think no one can judge because they misinterpret Scripture. They use John 8:7 (“he who is without sin cast the first stone”) to say that the woman caught in adultery is excused by Jesus because no one can judge due to lack of perfection. This is incorrect. What Jesus was saying is that “right judgment” was not being pursued, therefore the trial was a sham. They were not going by God’s standard of right judgment. If indeed the crowd was a lawful court, and if the guy would’ve been there (hello, wasn’t he supposed to be there too if “caught in the act?”), if there were two or more witnesses, and if God’s other standards were properly applied, then the ruling would’ve been to stone her (and the guy too). That was not the case, so that was why Jesus pointed out that no one was without sin here.
Obviously Jesus tells us it’s okay to judge, and even commands it. But to judge with right judgment means we have to have a standard to judge by. If something is crooked we need a straight edge or ruler to check it against to see what’s out of whack. We who have all of His Words in our hearts, reading all of them and following all of them, are the ones who are equipped to perfectly judge with right judgment. It is those who don’t have His words, or only claim to have them (hypocrites, like the people in the crowd of John 8), that are unqualified to judge.
Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! (1 Corinthians 6:2–3, ESV)
Equally obvious is the fact that the world cannot judge for beans. It is because they do not seek justice, ignore God’s Word, and judge according to appearance. Wealthy people get “more justice,” and poor people not so much. Sometimes skin color is a factor. Sometimes political connections. They are giving themselves permission to sin, because that’s what they want to feed their flesh. This is one of the primary reasons for our society going into the toilet. It is also one of the reasons for the church going into the toilet.
“You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD. “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:15–18, ESV)
Coming in the next few posts: Applications of right judgment using His Standard in the real world.
Another name for sin is idolatry. In modern times, we think of it only as bowing down to a statue or other image. This is part of it, but there is much more to idolatry than statues. Read Jeremiah 3:1-10.
Idolatry is ‘cheating’ on God. We cheat Him when we give Him less than whole-hearted obedience. In public, we might claim to be loyal spouses and appear to do what God says. But when we ignore His Word it’s just like cheating on a spouse. Any thought or action that doesn’t match His Word is idolatry. Or adultery.
We might comfort ourselves that we are not idolaters because we don’t have a statue in the living room (let’s overlook the crucifix, Christmas tree, Easter eggs and bunnies for now). But idolatry is not limited to actual images. If we reject His ways and do our own, it is idolatry. Paul says that covetousness is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5). God says the Chaldeans worship their own might, and Jesus says that Mammon is a god.
11 Then they sweep by like the wind and go on, guilty men, whose own might is their god!” (Habakkuk 1:11 ESV)
13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:13 ESV)
The statue in the center of disobedience is the self-image. A 3-D statue is really self-will personified. Idolatry comes from inside, from the heart. The statue just gives it a physical shape. Adam and Eve were booted out of paradise, not because they bowed to an image, but because they bowed to self-will and knowledge. Obedience is the same as worship. Their obedience to their own understanding was just the same as worshiping a statue of themselves.
There’s more going on with the attempted Stoning of the Adulteress in John 7 than meets the eye. Read fresh commentary in the Berea forum on www.wholebible.com under the Manna section #37 Shlach L’kha (Send on your behalf) from Bruce.
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