COMMITTED to train men and women
to have minds for the Lord Jesus,
hearts for the truth, and
hands that are skilled to the task.

Sermons by Pastor Ernest Amstalden (Page 2)

BUILDING THE TEMPLE

“THE STARS OF GOD” are probably symbolic of angels or Elohim
(spiritual beings of the Divine Council over which Yahweh presides)
“MOUNT OF THE CONGREGATION” refers to meeting place of spiritual rulers around God’s throne.
“THE HEIGHTS OF THE CLOUDS” refers to God’s spiritual magnificence, the Shekinah glory.

Dr. Michael Heiser in his book “Supernatural” writes:
“He got a rude awakening. Since the Serpent’s deception led to Adam and Eve’s sin, he was expelled from God’s home and banished to earth – the place where death reigns, where life is not everlasting.
He became lord of the dead, which meant that the great enemy now had claim over all humans since the events in Eden meant the loss of earthly immortality. Humanity would now need to be redeemed to have eternal life with God in a new Eden.”
“The fallout was a series of curses. The curse upon the Serpent included a bit of prophecy. God said Eve’s offspring and that of the Serpent would be at odds. “Then Yahweh God said to the serpent……I will put hostility between you and between the women, and between your offspring and between her offspring” (Genesis 3:14-15 LEB).
Who are Eve’s offspring? Humanity. And who are the Serpent’s offspring? Well, that’s more abstract. The apostle John gives us examples – like the Jewish leaders who hated Jesus. “You are of your father the devil.” Jesus told them (John 8:44). Jesus called his betrayer, Judas, a devil (John 6:70). The serpent’s offspring is anyone who stands against God’s plan, just as he did”.

Carl Teichrib in his book “Game of Gods” writes:
“Humanity has three great desires:
• TO BE AS GOD
• TO BE MASTERS OF MEANING AND DESTINY
• TO BUILD HEAVEN ON EARTH”

This is nothing new: In 1891, Ernest Renan published the book titled: “The Future of Science”
“Science is a religion, science alone will henceforth make the creeds, science alone can solve for men the eternal problems, the solution of which his nature imperatively demands.”

Simon Schama published the book “Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution”
“Christianity, “that infamous thing,” was to vanish in revolutionary fervor. Politicized Christendom would be overthrown by the enlightened masses who, armed with reason guided by passion, were themselves led by men of conviction. Churches were vandalized, mounds of hymn books burned, and “ceremonies of mockery” witnessed priests denouncing their faith. Even the Gregorian calendar was dissolved, with its even-day week replaced by a ten-day cycle dedicated to the veneration of nature. And as each month was structured with an even thirty days, the year would end with an extra five-day block set aside for humanist festivals.”

On November 10, 1793, a Festival of Liberty and Reason was held in the “liberated” Cathedral of Notre Dame. Yale Professor Franklin Baumer in his book “Religion and the Rise of Scepticism”, describes what happened:
“As the Spectators entered the cathedral, they saw, some doubtless with astonishment, the insignia of Christianity covered up and their place taken by the symbols of a strange new religion.
Rising up in the nave was an improvised mountain, at the top of which perched a small Greek temple dedicated “TO PHILOSOPHY” and adorned on both sides by the busts of philosophers.
Halfway down the side of the mountain a torch of TRUTH burned before an altar of REASON. Then ensued a bizarre ceremony which culminated in the emergence from the temple of a beautiful women, an actress of the Paris Opera, dressed in red, with, and blue garments, who personified LIBERTY.
The spectators proceeded to render homage to LIBERTY by stretching out their arms to hear and singing a hymn…….”COME, HOLY LIBERTY, INHABIT THIS TEMPLE, BECOME THE GODDESS OF THE FRENCH PEOPLE.”

Carl Teichrib observes:
“Modernity is an umbrella label for an epoch that witnessed a number of movements and ideas expressing a similar outcome – the humanist progression of society, wherein authentic knowledge and meaning are discovered by NATURALISTIC determination and no Christian revelation. In general, Modernity, often used interchangeably with MODERNISM, upheld humanistic rationalism as the arbitrator of truth. Reason, therefore, proclaimed the goodness of Man over the Christian teaching of original sin, celebrated individual autonomy without moral guilt, worked through industries to harness the beast of nature, and looked to naturalism social guidance. Man became the center of the universe.”

In 1918 Benjamin Kidd, a British social theorist, published his book titled: “The Science of Power”
“Once effectively imposed, this idealism (humans are molded by the social pressure) becomes the expression of the living soul of a people. Its influence cannot be estimated. It subordinates everything. It becomes Power incarnate.
The great secret of the coming age of the world is that civilization rests not on Reason but on Emotion.
It is clearly in evidence that the science of creating and transmitting public opinion under the influence of collective emotion is about to become the principle science of civilization to the mastery of which all governments and all powerful interests will in the future address themselves with every resource at their command.”

EATING THE FRUIT

In his book “The Beginning – Genesis” Les Woodson writes:
“If man were to share the Creator’s likeness, he must be allowed the use of his will. Where there is no choice, will is not only superfluous but nonexistent. Only in the midst of creative tension which provides at least one option can man be other than a non-choosing beast. The continual conflict made possible by the presence of a choice between two alternatives is an essential ingredient in RESPONSIBLE LIVING.”

Carl Teichrib in his book “Game of Gods” describes him:
“The one before Eve is shrewd and deliberate, showing an exceptional understanding of the human propensity to rationalize. The serpentine-dragon imagery is a powerful expression of his very potent nature. In the Garden he comes to dialogue, to question and test, and to masterfully engage in the salesmanship of self-justification.”
One more quote from Carl Teichrib’s book:
“THE BENEFITS OF PARTAKING APPEARED TO SURPASS THE COSTS: Life would go on, wisdom was to be granted, and the human status would be elevated. This “knowledge”, allowing one to apparently become as Yahweh Himself, would achieve A GREATER GOOD.
Enlightenment was before them. Following the angelic advice, they engaged in the act of taking and eating, the first TECHNIQUE of human-proclaimed self-divinity.”
In so doing, they discovered the tempter had wiled them with a HALF-TRUTH. Immortality vanished and the idea of becoming “as God” proved illusionary. Of course, the truth-part was we “experientially and spiritually” entered the realm of the “knowledge of good and evil”. We had now tasted its capability, but as the Garden incident demonstrated and human history shows, we were personally and collectively unable to control its capacity.
IT CONTROLS US.”

Dr. Michael Heiser in his book “The Unseen Realm” answers that question:
“God is not evil, there is no biblical reason to argue that God predestined the fall, though he foreknew it. There is no biblical reason to assert that God predestined all the evil events throughout human history simply because he foreknew them….
God does not need evil as a means to accomplish anything.
God foreknew the fall. That foreknowledge did not propel the event. God also foreknew a solution to the fall that he himself would guarantee…
Evil does not flow from a first domino that God himself toppled. Rather, evil is the perversion of God’s good gift of free will. It arises from the choices made by imperfect imagers, not from God’s prompting or predestination. God does not need evil, but he has the power to take the evil that flows from free-will decisions – human or otherwise – and use it to produce good and his glory through the obedience of his loyal imagers, who are his hands and feet on the ground NOW.”

The fact and the truth are amazingly simple: The responsibility to choose how we act and react is on us. It also means that what we choose to do is an important part of how things will turn out.
WHAT WE DO MATTERS; PERIOD.

The Swiss Theologian Emil Brunner in his book “Man and Creation” wrote:
“Man is, and remains, responsible, whatever his personal attitude to his Creator may be. He may deny his responsibility, and he may misuse his freedom, but he cannot get rid of his responsibility. Responsibility is part of the unchangeable structure of man’s being. That is; the actual existence of man – of every man, not only the man who believes in Christ – consists in the positive fact that he has been made to respond – TO GOD.”

Occult historian Richard Cavendish writes the following regarding the BLACK ARTS.
“The driving force behind black magic is hunger for power. Its ultimate aim was stated, appropriately enough, by the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
“Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’ In occultism the serpent is a symbol of wisdom, and for centuries magicians have devoted themselves to the search for the forbidden fruit which would bring fulfillment of the serpents promise. Carried to its furthest extreme….to make himself a god.”

In 1988 Mark Braham published the book titled: “New Ideas in Environmental Education” which was used as the resource book by the INTERNATIONAL UNION FOR CONSERVATION OF NATURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES/ COMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNTIES.
“The source of our planetary problems lies at that point in evolution at which instinct was transformed to intention through the agency of human life. Like so many events, it is recalled in myth and retold down the ages in the legend of the Garden of Eden.
Traditionally, the Serpent is the symbol of Wisdom, and God’s messenger on Earth. Hence, the Serpent symbolizes consciousness, a point well understood by yogis and those practitioners who know somewhat of kundalini, the ‘serpent power’, that, rising, through the hierarchy of chakras or centers of consciousness, as they are understood to be in Hindu and Buddhist thought, enables the initiate to acquire successively higher states of awareness.”
“The Serpent, as the principle of consciousness, fecundated Eve, the Earth Mother, who in turn, gave is to a new Adam, a new type of Man…
By eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam broke the bounds of instinct and entered the realm of mind, with its potential for reflection and choice. Our time is one that is marked by a spiritual quest. Although there has been a loss of faith in traditional religious practices, and little satisfaction in the secular of the past decades, there is a widespread search for meaning that may include, but cannot be satisfied by, ordinary rationality.”

UNDERSTANDING THE CONFLICT

Stanley Ellison in his book “Three Worlds in Conflict” writes:
“Back to the future is no longer an oxymoron; it’s a fact of life. It’s where we live. We all have a bit of the prophet in us as tomorrow keeps crowding in on our agendas.
History is passe and we often neglect its lessons. Our focus is more on the ecstatic hype and hope of tomorrow. This game of trying to beat the odds of the future is one we all play, and for any entrepreneur bent on getting a “leg up” on the competition, it is almost essential. In business, medicine, sports and entertainment, success very often depends on one’s ability to outguess the future. Like it or not, tomorrow with its fears occupies much of our thinking today.”

Michael Horton in his book “Christless Christianity” writes:
“What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city? Over a half century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio. Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia, all the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say: “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am”, and the churches would be full every Sunday………WHERE CHRIST IS NOT PREACHED.”

Robert Schuller’s book: SELF-ESTEEM – THE NEW REFORMATION
“A Church can afford to think in a God’ centered fashion, but a mission must put humans at the center.
It was appropriate for Calvin and Luther to think theocentrically, but now the scales must tip the other way toward a human needs approach. In fact, classical theology has erred in its insistence that theology be God-centered, not man-centered.
Sin is defined as any act of thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem….
And what is hell? It is the loss of pride that naturally follows separation from God – the ultimate and unfailing source of our soul’s sense of self-respect.
A person is in hell when he has lost his self-esteem. The cross sanctifies the ego trip.”

One more quote from Stanley Ellisen’s book: “Three Worlds in Conflict”
“Contrary to many naïve notions, the devil is not a green monster with a pitchfork. He is often a do-gooder. His goal in life is not to produce gangsters and drunkards, but to counterfeit the works of God. This has been his ambition ever since he went into business for himself, saying I his preamble: “I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). The effect of this ply is that he more closely imitates God’s models in his people, the less likely they are to be inclined to seek God or pursue His will. He is a master imitator of God.
Why then does God allow this counterfeit operation to continue? A part of the answer is to intensify man’s spiritual choice and remove it from the arena of mere morality to aesthetics. False religions often have strict morals and beautiful rituals that don’t necessarily make them authentic. TRUE FAITH RESPONDS TO GOD’S WORD, not to attractions of religious niceties. The net effect is that Satan’s kingdom serves as a giant magnet to attract the superficial.”

BEARING GOD’S NAME

Carmen Joy Imes is an associate professor of Old Testament. In her dissertation titled: Bearing YHWH’s Name at Sinai: A Reexamination of the Name Command of the Decalogue” she writes:
”bearing the name of Yahweh is comparable in meaning to the High Priest bearing the names of the tribes of Israel on his breastplate and bearing the name of Yahweh on his forehead. He represents – in both directions – those whose name he bears. Similarly, those who bore the name of Yahweh, like those who bear the name of Christ, represented that name before a watching world. Israel was called to live in the midst of the nations as the people who bore the name of Yahweh and made Yahweh “visible” in the world by walking in his ways and reflecting his character. To bear the name of the Lord was not merely an inestimable privilege and blessing but a challenging ethical and missional responsibility.”

50 years ago, Os Guiness wrote a book titled: “The Dust of Death” with the subtitle: “The sixties counterculture and how it changed America forever.” He republished the book again 2018.
“Western civilization is in decline, and its lead society, the American Republic, is as deeply divided as at any time since just before the Civil War. But why? Is it simply a clash between the “coastals” (New York and California) and the “heartlanders” (the Midwest and the South), or between the “nationalists and populists” (President Trump’s “forgotten people”) and the “globalists” (of the George Soros-like Western elites)?
There are multiple causes of the deep and bitter polarization, but the deepest of all has been almost completely overlooked, and the sixties provided a massive thrust forward in this development.
The ultimate source of the current divisions in America is between those who understand the Republic, and above all freedom, from the perspective of the American Revolution and those who understand the Republic and freedom from the perspective of the French Revolution and its heirs and their ideas.
Stop to reflect on ideas such us “progressivism,” “postmodernism,” “political correctness,” “identity and tribal politics”, “multiculturalism”, “social constructionism,” the “sexual revolution,” the recent rage for socialism, or the leftward drift of the Democratic party and many in the media.
It quickly becomes clear that these ideas have little or nothing to do with 1776 and the American Revolution and its views of freedom. Rather, they are rooted in ideas that come directly or indirectly from 1789 and the French Revolution, and behind it the French Enlightenment and its later heirs such as Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Antonio Gramsci, Wilhelm Reich, Herbert Marcuse, Saul Alinsky and Michel Foucault.
Hence the significance of the 1960s and its expression of the “revolutionary faith” that has flowed down from the French Enlightenment and the French Revolution.
The “seismic sixties” was the decade when the radical ideas first broke through into mainstream American thinking and life. Even more importantly, the sixties were the years when many of the seeds of today’s most radical ideas were sown, only to flower more recently in their most destructive forms.”

Antonia Gramsci is such a person we never hear of. He was sitting in jail under Mussolini in the 1920 when he formulated the revolutionary vision into what is known as CULTURAL MARXISM. In his PRISON NOTEBOOKS he argued that
“the timeline should be slow and incremental rather than sudden. It’s goal must be to gain dominance in the “ruling class” through penetrating the “gatekeepers” and the “switch points” in a society – first “demoralizing” the previous leaders of the ruling class, and then slowly replacing them with new revolutionary ideas and narratives. If revolutionaries were to gain “mastery of human consciousness” in this way, they would not need concentration camps and mass murder. Even the KGB would be less important than the winning of the cultural gatekeepers.”
He called this process “The Long March”.

Os Guinness comments on this
“Fifty years later, it is clear that the long march through the institutions has succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of the late sixties. In much of the worlds of colleges and universities, the press and the media, and Hollywood and entertainment, many of the prominent ideas and attitudes reflect the thinking of 1789 and its heirs and not the ideals of 1776. America has been bewitched. The great American Republic is in the process and switching revolutions from the American to the French.
…the sixties sowed the dragon’s seeds that are producing the bitter harvest being reaped today. The roots of those ideas go back far earlier than the sixties, but it was the sixties that gave them the thrust that made them the destructive force they are today.”

Adam Sedgwick, Darwin’s former mentor in natural science at the University of Cambridge, wrote a letter to Darwin after reading ‘the origin of Species’.
In it Sedgwick wrote:
“Passages in your book…greatly shocked my moral taste. There is a moral or metaphysical part of nature as well as a physical. A man who denies this is deep in the mire of folly.
Tis the crown and glory of organic science that it does, through final cause, link material to moral. You have ignored this link.”

Robby Kossmann, a German zoologist who later became a medical professor, wrote an essay in 1880, titled:
“The Importance of the Life of an Individual in the Darwinian World View”.
He declared: “The Darwinian world view must look upon the present sentimental conception of the value of the life of a human individual as an overestimate completely hindering the progress of humanity. The human state also, like every animal community of individuals, must reach an even higher level of perfection, if the possibility exists in it, THROUGH THE DESTRUCTION OF THE LESS WELL ENDOWED INDIVIDUAL, for the more excellent endowed to win space for the expansion of its progeny…..
The state only has an interest in preserving the more excellent life at the expense of the less excellent.”

Richard Weikart in his book “From Darwin to Hitler” subtitled:
“Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany” wrote:
So, what are the connection between Darwinism and Hitler and are they really all that significant?
First, Darwinism undermined traditional morality and the value of human life. Then, evolutionary progress became the new moral imperative. This aided the advance of eugenics, which was overtly founded on Darwinian principles. Some eugenicists began advocating euthanasia and infanticide for the disabled. On a parallel track, some prominent Darwinists argued that human racial competition and war is part of the Darwinian struggle for existence. Hitler imbibed these social Darwinists ideas, blended in virulent anti-Semitism, and – there you have it: HOLOCAUST.

Madison Grant, president of the New York Zoological Society, in 1916 published a book titled: “The Passing of the Great Race”
“Mistaken regard for what is believed to be divine laws and a sentimental belief in the sanctity of human life tend to prevent both the elimination of defective infants and the sterilization of such adults as are themselves of no value to the community. The laws of nature require the obliteration of the unfit, and human life is valuable only when it is of use to the community or race.

Richard Weikhart summarizes the devastating impact Darwinism has in Europe and in America.
“Leading Darwinists agreed that natural processes could account for all aspects of human society and behavior, including ethics. They denied any possibility of divine intervention, heaped scorn on mind-body dualism, and rejected free will in favor of complete determinism. For them, every feature of the cosmos – including the human mind, society, and morality – could be explained by natural cause and effect. Everything was thus subject to the ineluctable laws of nature. As a corollary to this, science became the arbiter of all truth. Not even ethics or morality could escape the judgments and pronouncements of science.”

1 Corinthians 15:45-49
Thus it is written, “The first Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.
As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Matthew 10:28-33
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

LIVING HOPE

1 Peter 1:3-21 (open your Bible and let’s read it)
You see that hope is more than mere wishful thinking. Hope is a vital necessity of life. Hope is a gift that God wants to give all of you. When your faith and hope is in God alone, dark pessimism, anxiety about the present and the future, depression and in some cases even suicidal thoughts, will evaporate.
Verse 13
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the GRACE that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
There is Hope, LIVING HOPE, found in Christ Jesus alone.
Verse 24-25
All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers, and the flower falls,
BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD REMAINS FOREVER.
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

George Orwell in his novel 1984 writes:
“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes a revolution in order to establish a dictatorship…
The object of power is power.”

In 2006 Richard Dawkins wrote the famous book “The God Delusion”. The idea behind the book is TO EXPLAIN HOW THE IDEA OF GOD IS ONE GRAND DELUSION THAT HAS INFECTED HUMANKIND, AND THE CURE IS ATHEISM.
In chapter 2 we find this opening statement:
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction; jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. Those of us schooled from infancy in his ways can became desensitized to their horror.” Richard Dawkins “The God Delusion”
On Page 321:
“As a scientist, I am hostile to fundamentalist religion because it actively debauches the scientific enterprise. It teaches us not to change our minds, and not to want to know exciting things that are available to be known. IT SUBVERTS SCIENCE AND SAPS THE INTELLECT.”

David Berlinski, a secular Jew who holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University had to respond to Richard Dawkins book with a book on his own titled:
“The Devil’s Delusion; Atheism and its scientific Pretensions”
“If science stands opposed to religion, it is not because of anything contained in either the premises or the conclusions of the great scientific theories. They do not mention a word about God. They do not treat of any faith beyond the one that they themselves demand. They compel no ritual beyond the usual rituals of academic life, and these involve nothing more than the worship of what is widely worshipped. Confident assertions by scientists that in the privacy of their chambers they have demonstrated that God does not exist have nothing to do with science, and even less to do with God’s existence.”
“While science has nothing of value to say on the great and aching questions of life, death, love, and meaning, what the religious traditions of mankind HAVE said forms a coherent body of thought. The yearnings of the human soul are not in vain. There is a system of belief adequate to the complexity of experience. There is recompense for suffering. A principle beyond selfishness is at work in the cosmos. All will be well. I do not know whether any of this is true. I am certain that the scientific community does not know that it is false.
Occupied by their own concerns, a great many men and women have a dull, hurt, angry sense of being oppressed by the sciences. They are frustrated by endless scientific boasting. They suspect that as an institution, the scientific community holds them in contempt. They feel no little distaste for those speaking in its name. They are right to feel this way.” David Berlinski “The Devil’s Delusion”

A great many scientists are satisfied that at last someone has said out loud what so many of them have said among themselves:
“Scientific and religious belief are in conflict. They cannot be both right. Let us get rid of the one that is wrong.”
Quote from Peter Atkins, professor of physical chemistry at Oxford University and an ardent atheist.
In the course of an essay Atkins denounces not only theology but poetry and philosophy as well. He observes favorably of himself that scientists “are at the summit of knowledge, beacons of rationality, and intellectually honest”.
It goes without saying, Atkins adds, that “there is no reason to suppose that science cannot deal with every aspect of existence.” Science is after all, the apotheosis of the intellect and the consummation of the Renaissance.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci was interviewed by Michael Caputo on June 17, 2020
“ Well, one of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunate, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are, for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable, they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority. So, when they see someone up in the White House, which has an air of authority to it, who’s talking about science, that there are some people who just don’t believe that. And that’s unfortunate because YOU KNOW, SCIENCE IS TRUTH. AND IF YOU GO BY THE EVIDENCE AND BY THE DATA, YOU’RE SPEAKING THE TRUTH.” Dr. Anthony Fauci

There is no LIVING HOPE in science alone. You are still not convinced:

The first premise:
If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.

The second premise:
If science is true, then God does not exist.

The conclusion:
If science is true, then everything is permitted.

In 2007, a number of scientists gathered in a conference entitled:
“BEYOND BELIEF; SCIENCE, RELIGION, REASON, AND SURVIVAL”
The physicist Steven Weinberg delivered an address. He is one of the authors of the theory of electroweak unification, for which he was awarded a Nobel Price. Needless to say, he is a person of great stature among the scientific community. Here is what he said during this address:
“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

FOR I AM SURE…..

Ryan Holiday is the author of a book titled: “The Obstacle Is The Way”
“There is an old Zen story about a king whose people had grown soft and entitled. Dissatisfaction with this state of affairs, he hoped to teach them a lesson. His plan was simple; He would place a large boulder in the middle of the main road, completely blocking entry into the city. He would then hide nearby and observe their reactions.
How would they respond? Would they band together to remove it? Or would they get discouraged, quit, and return home?
With growing disappointment, the king watched as subject after subject came to this impediment and turned away. Or, at best, tried halfheartedly before giving up. Many openly complained or cursed the king or bemoaned the inconvenience, but none managed to do anything about it.
After several days, a lone peasant came along on his way into town. He did not turn away. Instead he strained and strained, trying to push it out of the way. Then an idea came to him; He scrambled into the nearby woods to find something he could use for leverage. Finally, he returned with a large branch he had crafted into a lever and deployed it to dislodge the massive rock from the road.
Beneath the rock were a purse of gold coins and a note from the king, which said:
“The Obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”

As Susan Perlman in an article she wrote for “Jews for Jesus” publication said:
“One might ask, “What do we need pain for? Couldn’t we accomplish the same things with pleasure?”
The answer has to be that in pleasure we focus on ourselves and our feelings and our perceptions, which makes us to be mindful of ourselves and our will to be pleased; whereas pain helps us to focus outside of ourselves, to reach beside ourselves, to find out what’s there. Pleasure tends to make one self-centered, whereas pain tends to make a more noble person, other-centered and, hopefully God-centered.
A crisis becomes an occasion for declension or advance. A self-centered person in a crisis can become more self-centered and wallow in self-pity. God-centered or God-seeking persons can be propelled forward in their quest for meaning.
It is important to know that we are not helpless and we are not hopeless. We can choose to decide how we will deal with pain. We cannot choose whether or not we will have pain, but we can decide whether or not we will ALLOW PROBLEMS TO AFFECT US.
To live is to endure the pressures of life. But we can decide if we are going to let these things press us down or if we are going to let them lift us up.”

David Aikman wrote a book titled” GREAT SOULS” and in it he writes:
“I have always personally been inspired by the lives of great people. It is hard not to be energized by the stories of how individuals have risen above adversity or suffering or have maintained a purity in the face of great temptation. Our age, with its habit of instantly judging a man or woman’s life based on the fragmentary and proverbial sound bite, is often impatient with detail, nuances, depth.”

Chuck Swindoll writes about Joseph:
“Here is one on the list of God’s “greats”…….a life lived for His glory and, equally significant, though he was terribly mistreated, lived high above the all-too-common reactions of rage, resentment, and revenge. Here is one who deliberately chose to overlook unfair offenses, to overcome enormous obstacles, and model a virtue that is fast becoming lost in our hostile age – forgiveness.”
At the outset, Joseph’s life showed little promise – a simple shepherd, twelfth of thirteen children, a dreamer hated by his brothers. So how did he become a man so extraordinary that Moses spent almost fourteen chapters in the Book of Genesis telling his story? Where did Joseph get the qualities of integrity, leadership, and godliness in such measure that they took him from the pit of slavery to prime minister of Egypt?”

Through Joseph
• God explained dreams
• Revealed the future
• Saved Egypt and Israel from starvation
• Demonstrates the depth of love God has for all of us.

Paul is right:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, not height not depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

WHAT SHAPES OUR FUTURE?

Dr. Michael Heiser in his book: “The Unseen Realm” makes this statement:
“The seeds of that failure were sown in the events of the conquest. For whatever reasons – lack of faith or lack of effort, or both – Israel failed to drive out their enemies. They allowed vestiges of the targeted bloodlines to remain in the land in the Philistine cities. They chose to coexist (Judges 1:27-36). The visible Yahweh, the Angel, asks the rhetorical question, “Why would you do such a thing?” and he announces the consequences: “Now I say, I will not drive them out from before you; they will become as thorns for you, and their gods will be a trap for you” (Judges 2:2-3). The name of the place where he uttered these words was thereafter appropriately remembered as Bochim, a Hebrew word that means “weeping”.

John North wrote the foreword to Malcolm Muggeridge’s book titled: “The End of Christendom”
The book is based on Malcolm Muggeridge’s lecture series given in 1978 at the University of Waterloo, Ontario.
“Most of the great universities of the West were founded with the conviction that theology is the queen of the disciplines, and that the key to man’s wholeness is the pursuit of the truth of God through Jesus Christ. Apart from that truth, it was believed, all other expressions of truth are fragmentary and sterile. Now, in the latter part of the twentieth century, that tradition has almost disappeared. Where Jesus Christ and Christian doctrine are the subject of formal study, it is usually as a minor are of Comparative Religion or in a divinity school well segregated from the general student body. Religious enthusiasm among students is an embarrassment; belief in the authority of the Bible and the deity of Jesus Christ is treated as naivety to be enlightened rather than life to be nourished. Scholars in the arts, letters, and sciences who show signs of Christian devotion are likely to be shrugged off as simplistic and eccentric. Coincidentally, truth itself has become devalued, especially in the humanities and social sciences and increasingly in the pure sciences, its consequence and even existence of matter of doubt.
Universities seem to promote fragmentation, in part by undermining general studies in favor of specialized and practical studies, in part by ignoring the signs of decay in the spiritual, moral, and emotional health of the academic community.”

IS IT REALLY THAT HOPELESS?

The historian Will Durant made this comment:
“There is not greater drama in human record then the sight of a few Christians, scorned and oppressed by a succession of emperors, bearing all trials with a fearless tenacity, multiplying quietly, but building order, while the enemy generated chaos. Fighting the sword with the Word of God, brutality with hope and at last defeating the strongest empire that history has ever known.
Caesar and Christ had met in the arena, and Christ had won.”

Chuck Swindoll in his commentary on these verses writes:
“During the interval of time between our Lord’s departure from the earth and His return, He is involved in two projects. One; to prepare a place for His children. Two; to prepare His children for a place. He is engaged right now in preparing heaven for His own. That’s what’s happening away from our sight. But on this earth, He is also engaged in preparing us for the life we will live in eternity with Him.”

THIS TIME IS NOT FOR THE FAINT-HEARTED

“Lacking the courage to face something difficult or dangerous” Webster’s Dictionary

“If you describe someone or their behavior as FAINT HEARTED, you mean that they are not very confident and do not take strong action because they are afraid of failing.” COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary

James Madison, drafter of the Constitution, recorder of the Constitutional Convention, author of the Federalist Papers, and 4th president of the United States, was born on a plantation in Virginia.
“It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freeman of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by DENYING THE PRINCIPLE.” James Madison

Reuters reported:
“As the United States begins reopening its economy, some state officials are weighing whether house arrest monitoring technology – including ankle bracelets or location-tracking apps – could be used to police quarantines imposed on coronavirus carriers. But while the tech has been used sporadically for U.S. quarantine enforcement over the past few weeks, large scale rollouts have so far been held back by a big legal question: Can officials impose electronic monitoring without an offence or a court order?”
More to the point, as the head of one tech company asked,
“Can you actually constitutionally monitor someone who’s innocent? It’s uncharted territory.”

John Whitehead in his book titled: “Battlefield America” with the subtitle: “The war on the American People”, writes:
“The war on terror, the war on drugs, the war on illegal immigration, asset forfeiture schemes, road safety schemes, school safety schemes, eminent domain; all of these programs started out as legitimate responses to pressing concerns and have since become weapons of compliance and control in the police state’s hands.
It does not even matter what the nature of the crisis might be – civil unrest, the nation emergencies, unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters – as long as it allows the government to justify all manner of government tyranny in the so-called name of national security. It’s hard to know who to trust anymore.”
Later in this chapter, John Whitehead goes on to point out the danger James Madison was warning us about 250 years ago:
“in this post 9-11 world, we have been indoctrinated into fearing and mistrusting one another instead of fearing and mistrusting the government. As a result, we’ve been forced to travel this road many, many times with lamentably predictable results each time; without fail, when asked to choose between safety and liberty, Americans historically tend to choose safety.
Failing to read the fine print on such devil’s bargains, “we the people” find ourselves repeatedly on the losing end as the government uses each crisis as a means of expanding its powers at taxpayers’ expense.”

What are the schemes of the devil right now where we are?
Adolf Hitler in “Mein Kampf”
Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and the other way around to consider the most wretched sort of life.”

Bruce Levine in his book titled: “How TV Zombifies and Pacifies us and subverts Democracy” writes:
“Television is a “dream come true” for an authoritarian society. Those with the most money own most of what people see. Fear-based TV programming makes people more afraid and distrustful of one another, which is good for an authoritarian society depending on a “divide and conquer” strategy. Television isolates people so they are not joining together to govern themselves.
Viewing Television put some in a brain state that makes it difficult to think critically, and it quiets and subdues a population. And spending one’s free time isolated and watching TV interferes with the connection to one’s own humanity, and thus makes it easier to accept an authority’s version of society and life.”

Aldous Huxley in his masterpiece: “Brave New World”
“describes a vision of an unequal, technologically advanced future where humans are genetically bred, socially indoctrinated, and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively uphold an authoritarian ruling order – all at the cost of our freedom, full humanity, and perhaps also our souls.”

Neil Postman in his book titled: “Amusing Ourselves to Death” explains what Huxley tried to communicate:
“What Huxley teaches is in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. WE WATCH HIM, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversations becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; a culture-death is a clear possibility.”

In 1958, Journalist Edward Murrow warned in a speech:
“We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.”

Revelation 22:3-7
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
And he who was seated on the throne said: “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me; “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

LET’S GO TO A HIGHER VANTAGE POINT

Jordan Peterson wrote the bestseller “12 Rules for Life” – An Antidote to Chaos. It was published in 2018
Peterson’s book became an incredible bestseller because he was able to take ETERNAL TRUTHS AND APPLY THEM TO OUR MODERN PROBLEMS.
The foreword was written by Dr. Norman Doidge, MD, who authored the book titled ”THE BRAIN THAT CHANGES ITSELF”.
Let me read a short excerpt from this foreword that will lead us back to the Biblical text in a few minutes:
“Rules? More Rules? Really? Isn’t life complicated enough, restricting enough, without abstract rules that don’t take our unique, individual situations into account? And given that our brains are plastic, and all develop differently based on our life experiences, why even expect that a few rules might be helpful to us all?
People don’t clamour for rules, even in the Bible…..as when Moses comes down the mountain, after a long absence, bearing the tablets inscribed with ten commandments, and finds the children of Israel in revelry. They’d been Pharaoh’s slaves and subjects to these tyrannical regulations for four hundred years, and after that Moses subjected them to the harsh desert wilderness for another forty years, to purify them of their slavishness. Now, free at last, they are unbridled, and have lost all control as they dance wildly around an idol, a golden calf, displaying all manner of corporeal corruption.
“I’ve got some good news…….and I’ve got some bad news,” the lawgiver yells to them. “Which do you want first?”
“The good news!” the hedonists reply.
“I got Him from fifteen down to ten!”
“Hallelujah!” cries the unruly crowd. “And the bad?”
“Adultery is still in.”
So, rules there will be – but, please, not too many. We are ambivalent about rules, even when we know they are good for us. If we are spirited souls, if we have character, rules seem restrictive, an affront to our sense of agency and our pride in working out our own lives. Why should we be judged according to another’s rule?
And judged we are. After all, God didn’t give Moses “The Ten Suggestions,” he gave Commandments; and if I’m a free agent, my first reaction to a command might just be that nobody, not even God, tells me what to do, even if it’s good for me. But the story of the golden calf also reminds us that without rules we quickly become slaves to our passions – and there’s nothing freeing about that.
And the story suggests something more: unchaperoned, and left to our own untutored judgment, we are quickly to aim low and worship qualities that are beneath us – in this case, an artificial animal that brings out our own animal instincts in a completely unregulated way. The old Hebrew story makes it clear how the ancient felt about our prospects for civilized behavior in the absence of rules that seek to elevate our gaze and raise our standards.
One neat thing about the Bible story is that it doesn’t simply list its rules, as lawyers or legislators or administrators might; it embeds them in a dramatic tale that illustrates why we need them, thereby making them easier to understand.”

Francis Schaeffer in his book: “The God Who Is There”
“The Christian is to resist the spirit of the world. But when we say this, we must understand that the world spirit does not always take the same form. So the Christian must resist the spirit of the world IN THE FORM IT TAKES IN HIS OWN GENERATION. If he does not do this, he is not resisting the spirit of the world at all. This is especially so for our generation, as the forces at work against us are of such a total nature. It is our generation of Christians more than any other who need to heed these words attributed to Martin Luther:
“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefields besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”

God highlighted 3 specific and important things for Joshua to do:
1. The Law was not to depart out of Joshua’s mouth. In other words, Joshua was to talk about the book of the Law.
2. He was to meditate on it day and night. In other words, Joshua had to reason out what Moses wrote down within it’s context.
3. Joshua was to practice the commands in his historic space-time situation.

HOW COULD THIS EVER HAPPEN?

About 40 years ago, Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop, the former surgeon general of the Unites States, gave a lecture in which Francis Schaeffer made an astounding prediction. Ravi Zacharias attended this lecture and recalls it in his book titled WHY JESUS?
“At that talk, Schaeffer made a comment that caught me by surprise.
He said that the day was coming in the West when the name of Jesus
would not be recognized by the average young person; and if it were recognized, not a single historical fact about him would be known.
At that time I found this statement a bit hard to swallow and wondered
if he had said it just to be provocative. But a generation later, it is appearing to be quite true.”

Let me quote one more time Ravi Zacharias here:
“When you look back in the Old Testament, you see that in spite of all the instruction about worship, often repeated, and astounding loss nevertheless had occurred. All that the priests could control, they did. All that the ceremonies could control, they used to their advantage. And when a select or elect few control and sell salvation, the victim is always the common person. No religion is spared here.
One would think that this New Spirituality has brought about a new Eden and that its river flow peacefully and calmly. But it is not so…In fact, it has never been so. Few arenas lend themselves to abuse and loss as that of religion.”

Ravi Zacharias writes:
“It has been the beautiful teaching of the Word of God across time that has given this nation its ethos. It was this Word of God that put a song into the hearts of slaves during their darkest days. It was this Word of God that gave William Wilberforce in England the conviction and the courage to speak out against slavery and sustained him in the long struggle to see it abolished in the British Commonwealth. It was this Word of God that inspired Martin Luther King Jr. in his pursuit of civil liberty…And the same Word of God has transformed the life of many a prisoner, and of many others I could tell of, from some of the darkest parts of the world where the light of God’s Word has shone. Any nation that neglects teaching the sacredness of life and the family does so at its own peril. Any nation that sanctions the removal of God’s boundaries will destroy its own.”

Ravi Zacharias’ commentary on John 18 says:
“If there is any passage of Scripture that accurately describes our modern-day contempt for truth, our attachment to power, and our voluntary surrender to culture, it is this. It is not accidental that religious authorities, political appointees, and cultural symbols have come together to crucify him once again in our day. Barabbas was released…a cultural practice was fulfilled. “We have a law” … Political correctness was enjoyed. “he claims to be the Son of God…kill him” …all at the behest and with the blessing of religion. The irony is that he wanted to be owned by none of the three: culture, politics, or religion.”

THE RISE OF SECULAR POWER

In 1933 a group of 34 liberal humanists in the United States defined the philosophical and religious principles that seemed to them FUNDAMENTAL. They drafted humanist manifesto I which for its time was a radical document. It was concerned with expressing a general religious and philosophical outlook that REJECTED ORTHODOX AND DOGMATIC POSITIONS and provided meaning and direction, unity and purpose to HUMAN LIFE. It was committed to REASON, SCIENCE, AND DEMOCRACY.
HUMANIST MANIFESTO I
“The time has come for widespread recognition of the radical changes in religious beliefs throughout the modern world. The time is past for mere revision of traditional attitudes. Science and economic change have disrupted the old beliefs. Religions around the world labor with the task of coming to terms with new conditions created by a vastly increased knowledge and experience. In every field of human activity, the vital movement is now in the direction of a candid and explicit humanism. In order that religious humanism may be better understood we, the undersigned, desire to make certain affirmations which we believe the facts of our contemporary life demonstrate.”
“Today, man’s larger understanding of the universe, his scientific achievements, and his deeper appreciation of brotherhood, have created a situation which requires a new statement of the means and purposes of religion. Such a vital, fearless, and frank religion capable of furnishing adequate social goals and personal satisfaction my appear to many people as a complete break with the past. While this age does owe a vast debt to traditional religions, it is none the less obvious that any religion that can hope to be a synthesizing and dynamic force for today MUST BE SHAPED FOR THE NEEDS OF THIS AGE. To establish such a religion is a major necessity of the present. It is a responsibility which rests upon this generation. We therefore affirm the following:”
“The humanists are firmly convinced that existing acquisitive and profit-motivated society has shown itself to be inadequate and that a radical change in methods, controls, and motives must be instituted. A socialized and cooperative economic order must be established to the end that the equitable distribution of the means of life be possible. The goal of humanism is a free and universal society in which people voluntarily and intelligently cooperate for the common good. Humanists demand a shared life in a shared world.”

Paul Kurtz and Edwin H. Wilson wrote the preface to the manifesto II:
“As we approach the twenty first century an affirmative and hopeful vision is needed. Faith, commensurate with advancing knowledge, is also necessary. In the choice between despair and hope, humanists respond in this Humanist Manifesto II with a positive declaration for times of uncertainty.
As in 1933, humanists still believe that traditional theism, especially faith in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to love and care for persons, to hear and understand their prayers, and to be able to do something about them, is an UNPROVEN AND OUTMODED FAITH. Salvationism, based on mere affirmation, still appears as harmful, diverting people with false hopes of heaven hereafter; REASONABLE MINDS LOOK TO OTHER MEANS FOR SURVIVAL.”
Among the revised principles of Humanist Manifesto II, you find statements like this:
• “We find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of the supernatural.”
• “Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful.
• “Modern science discredits such historic concepts as the ‘ghost in the machine’ and the ‘separable soul’.”
• Humane societies should evaluate economic systems not by rhetoric or ideology, but by whether or not they increase economic wellbeing for all individuals and groups, minimize poverty and hardship, increase the sum of human satisfaction, and enhance the quality of life.”

It even gets better: Principles 12-17 illustrate humanism’s missionary zeal. It is bent upon the creation of a global society.
“We deplore the division of humankind on nationalist grounds. We have reached a turning point in human history where the best option is to transcend the limits of national sovereignty and to move toward the building of a world community in which all sectors of the human family can participate.
The problems with economic growth and development can no longer be resolved by one nation alone; they are worldwide in scope. It is the moral obligation of the developed nations to provide – through an international authority that safeguards human rights – massive technical, agricultural, medical, and economic assistance, including birth control techniques, to the developing portions of the globe.
World poverty must cease. Hence extreme disproportions in wealth, income, and economic growth should be reduced on a worldwide basis.”

AT THE CROSSROAD

Ravi Zacharias
“The Camera had won the battle OF SEEING AND BELIEVING. The world, and America in particular, was foundationally transformed. The zeal of young, combined with the material means that their parents had fought to give them and the invasiveness of the medium of television, made for a powerful overthrow of the reigning worldview.
The battle was carried into the universities, whose own academic experts were flaying America, and the intelligentsia hit hard at political demagoguery, as they called it.
…And all this was reflected in the arts as rock stars changed the mathematical rules of music and discord became entertainment. Noise became deafened to reason.
…At the time, most people failed to understand the power of the media to change their views and reshape their thinking. Instead of viewing the world THROUGH the medium of television, they allowed the medium TO DEFINE THE WORLD FOR THEM.”

In the same book “WHY JESUS” Ravi goes on to explain:
“There is a war raging. It is the battle for thought and belief through a weapon of mass deconstruction. In that battle, it is not firepower we need to fear as much as it is electronic power. From the conscious to the subconscious we are in its grip. From wars in different lands to battles for moral acceptability, the television set has won the day. I stress this because I believe that almost none of the NEW SPIRITUALITIES would be so pervasive if it were not for the genius and built-in distortion of television. It reinforces what WE WANT TO BELIEVE, and if what WE WANT TO BELIEVE is WHAT WE ARE TOLD TO BELIEVE THROUGH THE MEDIUM, no amount of logic or argument can shake that conviction. Whichever way you want to look at it, television – and now viral media – is the SHAPER OF EVERYTHING WE THINK AND BELIEVE.”

The word translated “healthy” is “HAPLOUS” which means “motivated by singleness of purpose so as to be open and above board, single, without guile, sincere, straightforward.”

Tom Landry, the legendary coach of the Dallas Cowboys and a committed follower of Jesus, said: “The job of a coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do, in order to be what they’ve always wanted to be.”

Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician and philosopher, wrote:
“There are only three kinds of persons; those who serve God having found him; others who are occupied in seeking him, not having found him; while the remainder live without seeking him and without having found him. The first are reasonable and happy; the last are foolish and unhappy; those between are unhappy and reasonable.”

REVOLUTIONARIES FOR JESUS

Robert Maginnis in his book “Collision Course – The fight to reclaim our Moral Compass before it’s too Late” writes:
“Even though the pain of the cultural revolution is especially acute at present, the truth is it started decades ago when the so-called progressives began planning the gradual destruction of America. Their achievements were gradual such as removing God from the public square, making our public schools into leftist brainwashing machines that teach children to hate God, country and their parents.”

HARVARD UNIVERSITY
“Let every student be plainly instructed and consider well that the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus, which is eternal life and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.
Everyone shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein.” Harvard student directives, 1643
YALE UNIVERSITY
“In all, have an eye to the great end of all your studies, which is to obtain the clearest conception of Divine things and to lead you to a saving knowledge of God in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Thomas Clapp, Yale President 1740

Yale’s Requirements:
“All scholars are to live a religious and blameless life according to the rules of God’s word, diligently reading the Holy Scriptures, and constantly attending all the duties of religion.
Yale student regulations, 1745

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
“Every student shall attend worship in the college hall morning and evening and shall attend public service on the Sabbath. There shall be assigned to each class certain exercises for the religious instruction. And no student belonging to any class shall neglect them.
He is the best friend to American liberty who is the most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down on profanity and immorality of every kind. Whosoever is an avowed enemy of God, I hesitate not to call him an enemy of this country.”
John Witherspoon, President of Princeton University

What one generation tolerates; the next generation will embrace.” John Wesley

The following letter from college student Marcy Musgrave in the editorial section of the Dallas Morning News on Sunday, May 2, 1999.
“Generation NEXT has some Questions. I am a member of the upcoming generation – the one after Generation X that has yet to be given a name. So far, it appears that most people are rallying behind the idea of calling us Generation Next. I believe I know why. The older generations are hoping we will mindlessly assume our place as the “next” in line. That way, they won’t have to explain why my generation has had to experience so much pain and heartache. “What heartache?” you say. “Don’t you know you have grown up in a time of great prosperity?” Yea, we know that.
Believe me, it has been drilled into our heads since birth. Unfortunately, the pain and hurt I speak of can’t be reconciled with money. You have tried for years to buy us happiness, but it is only temporary. Money isn’t the answer, and it is time for people to begin admitting their guilt for failing my generation. I will admit that I wasn’t planning to write this. I was going to tuck it away in some corner of my mind and fall victim to your whole “next” mentality.
But after the massacre in Littleton, CO, I realize that as a member of this generation that kills without remorse, I had a duty to challenge all of my elders to explain why they have allowed things to become so bad. Let me tell you this; These questions don’t represent only me but a whole generation that is struggling to grow up and make sense of this world. We all have questions; we all want explanations. People may label us Generation NEXT, but we are more appropriately Generation “WHY?”
“Why did most of you lie when you made the vow of ‘til death do us part’?
Why do you fool yourselves into believing that divorce really is better for the kids in the long run? Why do so many of you divorced parents spend more time with your new boyfriend or girlfriend than with your own children? Why did you ever fall victim to the notion that kids are just as well off being raised by a complete stranger at a daycare center than by their own mother or father? Why do you look down on parents who decide to quit work and stay home to raise their children? Why does the television do the most talking at family meals? Why is work more important than your own family? Why is money regarded as more important than relationships?
Why is ‘quality time’ generally no longer than a five-to-10 minute conversation each day? Why do you try to make up for the lack of time you spend with us by giving us more and more material objects that we really don’t need? Why does your work (in the form of a cell Phone, laptop computer, etc.), always come with us on vacations? Why have you neglected to teach us values and morals? Why haven’t you lived moral lives that we could model our own after? Why isn’t religion one of the most important words in our household? Why do you play God when it comes to abortion? Why don’t you have enough faith in us to teach us abstinence rather than safe sex? Why do you allow us to watch violent movies but expect us to maintain some type of childlike innocence? Why do you allow us to spend unlimited amounts of time on the Internet, but still are shocked about our knowledge of how to build bombs? Why are you so afraid to tell us ‘NO’ sometimes? Why is it so hard for you to realize that school shootings, and other violent juvenile behavior, result from a lack of your attention more than anything else? Call us GENERATION NEXT if you want to, but I think you will be surprised at how we will fail to fit into your neat little category. These questions should, and will, be asked of the generations that have failed us.” Marcy Musgrave, a junior at Texas A&M University

“Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” Vladimir Lenin

Ravi Zacharias in his book “Jesus among Secular God’s” (2017) makes this observation regarding Europe:
“I will go so far as to say that the West is on the verge of collapse at the hands of its own secular intellectuals. It is only a matter of time. The Christian faith brings with it convictions by which to stand and build a moral framework. The secular thinker, with his implicitly amoral assumptions, imagines that knowledge without a moral base has enough sustaining power. It simply doesn’t.
Watch Europe cower under the heel of Islamists who have not forgotten that they were stopped from overtaking Europe and beaten back by Charles Martel thirteen centuries ago. Now, with patience and the clever control of demographics and a gullible media, they stand by, ready to one day take over the structures and edifices built by a different ethic and a different belief system. It is only a matter of time, and they are in no hurry. Thirteen centuries ago, Europe was able to stop the theocratic Islamic tidal wave BECAUSE IT HAD A FAITH TO DEFEND. The value-less culture of today will not be able to withstand the attack.”

The same year (2017) Douglas Murray published the book titled: “The Strange Death of Europe”
He starts the Introduction with these words: “Europe is committing suicide. Or at least its leaders have decided to commit suicide. Whether the European people choose to go along with this is, naturally, another matter.”

The Latin for radical is ‘RADIX’ which means “to cut to the root”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. warned: “If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”

THE FUTURE IS UP TO YOU

Before we go into our biblical text, let me quote Chris Hedges, a war correspondent who witnessed plenty of power struggles:
“Not having to make moral choices frees you from a great deal of anxiety. It frees you from responsibility. And it assures that you always be wrapped in the embrace of the powerful as long as, of course, you will do or dance to he the tune of powers play… When you do what is right, you often have to understand that you are not going to be lauded and praised for it. Making a moral decision always entails risks, certainly to one’s career and to one’s standing in the community.” Chris Hedges

“It is perfectly possible for a man to be out of prison and yet not free- to be under no physical constraint and yet be a psychological captive, compelled to think, feel and act as the representatives of the national state, or of some private interest within a nation wants him to think, feel, and act… To him the walls of his prison are invisible and he believes himself to be free.” Aldous Huxley “A Brave New World Revisited”

“So, you see, that the world is governed by very different personages to what is imagined by those who are not themselves behind the scenes.” Benjamin Disraeli (1801-1884)

“The world is divided into three kinds of people – a very small group that MAKES THINGS HAPPEN, a somewhat larger group that WATCHES THINGS HAPPEN, and a great multitude that NEVER KNOWS WHAT HAS HAPPENED.” Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler (1862-1947)

Pastor Erwin Lutzer in his book subtitled “A defense of Christ in an Age of Tolerance” writes this hypothetical story:
“In A.D. 303, the Emperor Diocletian has issued a new order, requiring all people to attend the religious/political ceremony designed to unify the nation and revive lagging patriotism within the empire. Specifically, this ceremony involves burning a bit of incense and saying simply: CAESAR IS LORD. Those who do this receive a seal of approval; those who don’t might well be put to death.
Christians discussed the issue and what their response should be. The answer is not as obvious as it seems. For one thing, they actually would not have to stop worshiping the true God; after they have sworn their allegiance to Caesar as Lord, they are free to privately worship whatever god they wish. Every religion is tolerated; freedom to choose ones own god is generally accepted. Indeed, there is richness in diversity.
Second, this was not simply a religious decision, but a political one. Caesar was convinced that it was not possible to be a good citizen without affirming his lordship. The argument was that if one had allegiance to a god above Caesar he could not be trusted in time of national emergency, a war, for instance.
Third, this requirement was but once a year. Even if one did not tell a lie, forgiveness through Christ was readily available. Why not argue, as some did, “For a moment my mouth belongs to the Emperor, though my heart always belongs to Christ.”
Rome was cruel. Many converted pagans who were now in the church had observed firsthand the brutality of the Roman citizens.
If Christ were seen as one option among many, Christians could give allegiance to other expressions of the divine. Why not find common ground, the central unity of all religions.
So the choice, strictly speaking, was not whether the Christians should worship Christ or Caesar; it was whether they would worship Christ AND Caesar.”

Edward Gibbon in “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” stated:
“All religions were regarded by the people as EQUALLY TRUE, by the philosophers as EQUALLY FALSE, and by the politicians as EQUALLY USEFUL.”

WE BOW TO A HIGHER AUTHORITY

February 6, 2009, the National Religious Broadcasters adopted what they called:
“A Declaration of Unity in the Gospel”
“We fully accept our charge to faithfully obey the command of Christ to preach the Gospel, even if human governments and institutions attempt to oppose, constrain, or prohibit.”

John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, wrote:
“WE must not mind insulting men, if by respecting them we offend God.”

J. Vernon McGee once made this statements about the prophet Daniel who suffered persecution for his faith:
“The reason the lions didn’t eat him is because he was three-fourths backbone and the rest gristle!”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe observed:
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
In 1931, Philosopher Aldous Huxley wrote the novel ‘BRAVE NEW WORLD”
He wrote this book before world war II.
“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be DISTRACTED FROM ANY DESIRE TO REBEL by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.” Aldous Huxley

Yuri Alexandrovich Bezmenov, a former KGB agent who defected to Canada in 1970.
Here’s how Bezmenov described the state of a “demoralized” person:
“As I mentioned before, exposure to true information does not matter anymore,” said Bezmenov. “A person who was demoralized is unable to assess true information. The facts tell nothing to him. Even if I shower him with information, with authentic proof, with documents, with pictures; even if I take him by force to the Soviet Union and show him [a] concentration camp, he will refuse to believe it, until he [receives] a kick in his fan-bottom. When a military boot crashes his balls then he will understand. But not before that. That’s the [tragedy] of the situation of demoralization.”
It’s hard not to see in that the state of many modern Americans. We have become a society of polarized tribes, with some people flat out rejecting facts in favor of narratives and opinions.
Once demoralization is completed, the second stage of ideological brainwashing is “destabilization”. During this two-to-five-year period, asserted Bezmenov, what matters is the targeting of essential structural elements of a nation: economy, foreign relations, and defense systems. Basically, the subverter would look to destabilize every one of those areas in the United States, considerably weakening it.
The third stage would be “crisis”. It would take only up to six weeks to send a country into crisis, explained Bezmenov. The crisis would bring “a violent change of power, structure, and economy” and will be followed by the last stage, “normalization.” That’s when your country is basically taken over, living under a new ideology and reality.
This will happen to America unless it gets rid of people who will bring it to a crisis, warned Bezmenov. What’s more “if people will fail to grasp the impending danger of that development, nothing ever can help [the] United States,” adding, “You may kiss goodbye to your freedom.”

POWER TO ENDURE

Journalist Kylee Zempel
“Christians have for months been separated from one another thanks to state lockdown orders. The overwhelming majority of congregations have honored the coronavirus regulations imposed by authorities who would sooner dispense with communion than lottery tickets. To love their neighbors, protect the vulnerable, and remain above reproach, Christians stayed home, resorting to virtual meetings, sermon archives, and other poor substitutes for fellowship. In the process, we sacrificed our spiritual vitality.
As anti-religious leaders and malicious media predictably shamed communities of faith, believers rolled over, our good intentions of meek compliance manifesting in cowardice. When the media employed scare tactics — “gathering will kill Grandma” — Christians fearfully relented. When detractors peddled bogus rhetoric masquerading as science — shopping is fine, but singing is way too “dangerous” — believers capitulated.
We were told groups of more than 10 people were simply not doable. Outdoor services were deemed unsafe. Even parking too closely in a lot or having too many people in a vehicle during drive-in services was prohibited. Police surveilled churchgoers, recording the license plate numbers of service attendees as “the only way we can ensure that your decision doesn’t kill someone else.” The message from the media and oppressive leaders has been clear: Church gatherings are deadly.
But now the game has changed. As brutal anarchists take to the streets alongside masses of peaceful protesters, all the media’s cards are on the table. Progressive governors have shown their hand. The coronavirus scare tactics have largely ceased.
Believing fast food is essential while the Lord’s Supper is nonessential has always been ridiculous. But believing worshiping is lethal while looting is warranted is downright infuriating.
Of course, states have kicked off their reopening plans, including, at the behest of the president, allowing churches to reopen with largely arbitrary regulations. But these rules are stifling. We cancel our song services, worship in shifts, and fracture our bonds by congregating in coteries at six-foot intervals.
Religious leaders have bent over backward to ensure public safety and care for their congregations, taking full precautions, but to what end? When will we say enough is enough? Scripture commands submission to government authority, but at some point, believers “must obey God rather than men.”
When have Christians ever regarded physical health above spiritual health? When has enduring persecution ever entailed abandoning firmly held belief? How can Christians expect spiritual revival, racial harmony, and peace, while neglecting our assembly together?
It’s time for believers to sing from the tops of our lungs in one, full accord — not sit silently in countless rotational services that undermine the unified body of Christ. It’s time to gather around the table, contemplating with holy reverence Christ’s body broken and blood shed for us. It’s time to confess our sacred doctrine and call upon our great Redeemer in corporate praise. No longer can we afford to live in fear.”

G.K. Chesterton said:
“When men stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing! THEY BELIEVE IN ANYTHING.”

Chuck Swindoll in his daily devotional writes:
“When trouble comes we have two options. We can view it as an intrusion, an outrage, or we can see it as an opportunity to respond in specific obedience to God’s will – that rugged virtue James calls “Endurance”. Endurance is not jaw-clenching resignation, nor is it passive acquiescence. It’s a long obedience in the same direction. It’s staying on the path of obedience despite counter-indications. It’s a dogged determination to pursue holiness when the conditions of holiness are not favorable. It’s a choice in the midst of our suffering to do what God has asked us to do, whatever it is, and for as long as He asks us to do it. As Oswald Chambers wrote: “To choose suffering makes no sense at all; to chose God’s will in the midst of our suffering makes all the sense in the world.”
These words are directly related to what James is telling us:
James 1:2-4
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (endurance). And let your steadfastness (endurance) have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Ravi Zacharias once commented
“When you start a train of thought, it’s important to check the ticket to see where it is going to let you off.”

George Mueller, who cared for 2,500 orphans a day by faith alone, said.
“The only way to learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.”

Greg Hinnant in his book “Spiritual Truths for overcoming Adversity” writes:
“The power to endure is the ability to bear stress with ease, to be in distress without distress being in you. It’s God’s supernatural grace manifested in us. Situations that wear out others don’t bother us. We go through the fire, but are not burned. We walk calmly and steadily through the midst of the most dreaded difficulties conceivable without mental, physical, or emotional damage. In fearful circumstances, we’re calm and unafraid; in offensive situations, we’re not offended; when faced with a deadline, we’re not at our wits’ end. Where does this grace come from, this power to endure? Not merely from Bible study, not merely from prayer, not merely from fellowship with other disciples, but from PERSONAL VICTORIES GAINED IN PERSONAL TESTS.”

ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” C.S. Lewis
“Only a mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by propaganda.” Hannah Arendt

I think Ravi Zacharias said it right when writing about the devastating consequences of Pluralism:
“A friend was considering enrolling his kids in a reading program. He asked, “What are they reading?” The leader of the program responded: “ANYTHING, JUST AS LONG AS THEY ARE READING.” It is interesting that we would never respond that way about eating. We would never think it is OK to eat anything, just as long as we are eating. Why do we think, as a society, we are happy to judge right and wrong when it comes to what we put in our bodies but are averse to judging right and wrong with respect to what we put in our minds and souls?”

God was at work on behalf of his people but the consequences of their actions could not be nullified.
• The prophet Elijah left this earth without dying (2 Kings 2:1-18)
• The waters of the Jordan River rolled back twice (2 Kings 2:8, 14)
• The prophet Isaiah was living during the same time period.
• The prophets Joel, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah prophesied in Judah, warning people of the coming consequences of their actions.
• The prophet Elisha was living during that time period.
• Israel’s kings are recorded in 2 Kings as having led the people into idolatry.
• Judah, on the other hand, had some very loyal kings; Joash, Uzziah, Hezekiah, and Josiah.
It is this Hezekiah who held off the Assyrians by fortifying Jerusalem and building up his military. It is this Hezekiah who was faithful to Yahweh and prayed to him when the king of Assyria came to destroy the city of Jerusalem. And a look how this confrontation came down will teach us a lot about our time and HOW IMPORTANT A FEW LOYAL LEADERS, political and religious, are during such times. While the consequences of the nations actions cannot be avoided, they can be delayed by godly people interceding before God Almighty on behalf of the nation.

A CIVILIZED NATION

Author Israel Shamir wrote an article In the UNZ Review titled: “Coronavirus Conspiracies”
In it he says:
“We are still in the early stage of the ongoing transformation, we still hope it will be over in the summer, or at least at autumn, or next winter, but most probably our life was we knew is over. Can we blame it on the virus, even if it was manufactured in the evil labs of the US or China, as has been convincingly suggested by Ron Unz?
There are millions of viruses, and mankind had managed to live with them all. There was no reason to freak out and destroy our civilization for another virus.”
As journalist Israel Shamir wrote:
The process of shedding millions of workers in the existing economic system is likely to be painful for the unemployed. The virus-blamed lockdown and digital control allows the owners of the digital companies to carry out the REVOLUTION with minimal risks for them. What would need an army and police involvement against riotous unemployed workers, can be achieved with greater ease under threat of the pandemic. The economy will be modernized and made more efficient.”

But there is good news, there is a spiritual government in place that cannot be touched, manipulated or taken hostage by evil forces. This government is the true body of Christ, those who have been born of the spirit of God and are follower of Jesus, under the headship of Jesus Christ. This is not a government that WILL BE ONE DAY COME TO FRUITION. This Government, this kingdom is already here on this earth.

What is the Kingdom of God? Where is the Kingdom of God?
Wherever God (through Jesus Christ) is in authority, the Kingdom of God is present.
There are three phases of the Kingdom of God in the Bible:
• When Jesus was in person on earth, the first phase of the Kingdom was present.
• The second phase of the Kingdom is the age of the Church, the invisible Kingdom in the hearts of men, women and children.
• The third phase of the Kingdom will begin when Jesus returns to earth and establishes His Kingdom worldwide.

Robert H. Bennett writes in his book “AFRAID – Demon possession and spiritual warfare in America”
“Is American spirituality afraid? Modern-day society lives in fear. With the decline in modernity and the rise of postmodernism, people are required to form new ways of understanding their world. They are reverting to a form of religious paganism that is the basis of all tribal and animistic worldviews.
Many churches have accepted a theological pluralism (an acceptance of diverse theological belief) that can also be described as spiritualism. But the spiritualist worldview that has become prominent in today’s churches is nothing new to Christianity. The Christian Church has existed in the midst of pluralistic religious environments since its establishment by Jesus and the sending out of His disciples.
All of the creeds and confessions of historic Christianity are in response to the heresies of history. The difference between the churches of the past and the churches of today lies in their response to attacks, which are increasing with ever-growing frequency. Rather than continuing to PROVIDE A PLACE OF SANCTUARY from the lies of Satan, his demons, and the world, many churches have embraced a concept OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCE THAT OVERSHADOWS DIVINE REVELATION.
In a sense, churches have let the demonic genie out of the bottle and welcomed him into the church.
This became evident in the church-growth movement, which sought to make worship “more relevant” so as to bring more people into the church. As a result of focusing on personal comfort and experience, the church-growth movement replaced (or at least added to) the truths of Scripture with modern marketing techniques connected to the social sciences.
The problems such an inconsistent theology can bring to those within the Church who have minimal biblical knowledge should be evident: INCONSISTENCY LEAD TO ANXIETY DURING TIMES OF PERSONAL STRUGGLES, AND ANXIETY LEADS TO FEAR. The Christian faith is not one of fear nor is it an inconsistent faith.”

In 1910 Teddy Roosevelt gave the famous speech titled:
“Citizenship in a Republic” here is a passage of this speech.
“If a man’s efficiency is not guided and regulated by a moral sense, then the more efficient he is the worse he is, the more dangerous to the body politic. Courage, intellect, all the masterful qualities, serve but to make a man more evil if they are merely used for that man’s own advancement, with brutal indifference to the rights of others. It speaks ill for the community if the community worships those qualities and treats their possessors as heroes regardless of whether the qualities are used rightly or wrongly. It makes no difference as to the precise way in which this sinister efficiency is shown. It makes no difference whether such a man’s force and ability betray themselves in a career of money-maker or politicians, soldier or orator, journalist or popular leader. If the man works for evil, then the more successful he is the more he should be despised and condemned by all upright and far-seeing men. To judge a man merely by success is an abhorrent wrong; and if the people at large habitually so judge men, if they grow to condone wickedness because the wicked men triumphs, they show their inability to understand that in the last analysis free institutions rest upon the character of citizenship, and that by such admiration of evil they prove themselves unfit for liberty.”

“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.” John F. Kennedy

THE GAME of KINGS AND THRONES

Let me remind you that the word of God has a historicity of conflict reflected in a constant struggle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness for the souls of all men and women on planet earth.

2013 Kaleb Nation has published the novel “Harken”
Drawing upon three years of research and real-life interviews, in his book he weaves fact with fiction and explores questions many are afraid to ask. Who really controls our world? Are disasters coincidental or planned?
How much of Harken is true? This is his conclusion:
“Coincidence is merely the puppeteer’s curtain, hiding the hands that pull the world’s strings.”

Journalist McLean Gordon wrote in 2012
“In a system like Nazi Germany, where social acceptance was the reward for evil, the socially normal individual sees evil as good. Doing evil becomes nothing more than healthy self-interest, and the horrifying irony is that the person committing unimaginable cruelty comes across in other social contexts as a perfectly “normal” uninteresting individual, no more conspicuous than the rumbled businessman sitting next to you in the train.”

“Adolph Eichmann, the Nazi bureaucrat who supposedly signed off on the Holocaust and helped organize Hitler’s death camps, was not necessarily a blood-hungry monster. To look at, he was an average looking guy with thinning hair, a pencil pusher.
“Except for the extraordinary diligence in looking out for his personal advancement, the had no motives at all,” Hannah Arendt, a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps, wrote in her searing account of Eichmann’s 1962 war crimes trials; Eichmann was, as he tried to explain at his trial, “just following orders.”

Journalist Yasha Levine in his book “Google’s for-profit surveillance problem”
“The Google services and apps that we interact with on a daily basis aren’t the company’s main product: They are the harvesting machines that dig up and process the stuff that Google really sells: for-profit intelligence.”

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt
“We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”
“It’s a future were you don’t forget anything…..In this new future you’re never lost…..We will know your position down to the foot and down to the inch over time… Your car will drive itself, it’s a bug that cars were invented before computers……you’re never lonely….you’re never board….you’re never out of ideas….we can suggest were you go next, who to meet, what to read….What’s interesting about this future is that it’s for the average person, not just the elites.”

Bruce Schneider “Don’t listen to Google and Facebook”
“With every smartphone we buy, every GPS device we install, every Twitter, Facebook, and Google account we open, every frequent buyer card we use for purchases – whether at the grocery, the yogurt shop, the airlines, or the department store – and every credit and debit card we use to pay for our transactions, we’re helping Corporate America build a dossier for its government counterparts on who we know, what we think, how we spend our money, and how we spend our time.
What’s worse, it’s not just the surveillance you CONSENT to that’s being shared with the government, however. It’s the very technology you happily and unquestionably use which is being hardwired to give the government easy access to your activities.
The government motives aren’t too difficult to understand, but what do corporate giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple stand to gain from colluding with Big Brother? Money, power and control.
The main focus of massive Internet companies and government agencies both still largely align: TO KEEP US ALL UNDER CONSTANT SURVEILLANCE.
When they bicker, it’s mostly role-playing designed to keep us blasé about what’s really going on.”

The Art of War is one of the most useful books regarding wisdom when confronted by an enemy.
The Chines warrior Sun Tzu wrote it about 500 B.C. It would be very beneficial every Soldier of Jesus Christ to read and re-read this book.

Let me give you a few quotes:
“The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.”

“Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in braking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

“We cannot enter into alliance until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors.”

“Rapidity is the essence of war.”

If the enemy leaves a door open, you must rush in.”

ESCAPING THE DECEPTION

Let us go on a fast-paced history journey:

In 1932 Aldous Huxley wrote the novel: “Brand New World”
In it he made the prediction that mood enhancing drugs and genetic engineering will be a part of our life.
Several decades later in 1950, antidepressants were first popularized to the masses, and in 1972 the first DNA manipulation was announced.

In 1948 Novelist Ray Bradbury wrote the book: “Fahrenheit 451”
He envisioned a world in which people were tuned into TVs and tuned out to each other.
Decades later, iPods, cellphones, and earbuds would take the world by storm.

In June of 1949 British novelist George Orwell wrote the book: “1984”
In it he warned against a world in which the government spies on its citizens. It would take us only about sixty-five years to realize he was right.

October 2, 1959 the Emmy Award-winning TV series called “The Twilight Zone”, written and produced by Rod Serling was launched.
He wrote over 80 episodes that were filled with a mix of comedy and superstition.
Here is what the author said:
“This is not a new world: It is simply an extension of what began in the old one. It has patterned itself after every dictator who has ever planted the ripping imprint of a boot on the pages of history since the beginning of time. It has refinements, technological advancements, and a more sophisticated approach to the destruction of human freedom. But like every one of the super states that preceded it, it has one iron rule: ‘LOGIC IS AN ENEMY, AND TRUTH IS A MENACE.”

In all these novels and TV series and movies, the writers and filmmakers sounded the alarm bells HOW DECEPTION WILL BE THE WEAPON OF CHOICE TO BRING EVERYONE INTO SLAVERY.

John Whitehead in his book “Battlefield America” published in 2015, writes:
“How do you get a nation to docilely accept a police state? How do you persuade a populace to accept metal detectors and pat downs in their schools, bag searches in their train stations, tanks and military weaponry used by their small town police force, surveillance cameras on their traffic lights, police strip searches on their public roads, unwarranted and forced blood draws at drunk driving checkpoints, whole body scanners in their airports, and government agents monitoring their communications?
Try to ram such a state of affairs down their throats, and you might find yourself with a rebellion on your hands. Instead, you bombard the citizenry with constant color-coded alerts, terrorize them with reports of shootings and bomb threats in malls, schools, and sports arenas, desensitize them with a steady diet of police violence, and mesmerize them with entertainment spectacles (what the Romans used to refer to as “Bread and circus” distractions) and electronic devices, while selling the whole package to them as being in their best interests.
ll the while, the American people remain largely oblivious to the looming threat of their freedoms, eager to be persuaded that the government can solve the problem that plague us, whether it is terrorism, an economic depression, an environmental disaster, OR EVEN A VIRAL EPIDEMIC.”

HOW CAN SUCH A THING BE HAPPENING RIGHT UNDER OUR OWN NOSES? HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE NOT SEEING IT ALL FOR WHAT IT REALLY IS?

Nazi Field Marshal Hermann Goering was one that was on trial. At one point during his trial he made this remark:
“It is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy.
All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”
On July 18, 1925 Adolf Hitler wrote the book: “MEIN KAMPF”
“The very first essential for success is a perpetually constant and regular employment of violence.”

I quoted earlier Rod Sterling who is the screen writer for the TV series “The Twilight Zone”.
“We’re developing a new citizenry. One that will be very selective about cereals and automobiles BUT WON’T BE ABLE TO THINK.”

We live in an electronic concentration camp. Call it what you will, the meaning is the same: in our quest for less personal responsibility, a greater sense of security, and no burdensome obligations to each other or to future generations, we have created a society in which we have NO TRUE FREEDOM.

Before we take a closer look at the letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae, let me give you a quote from Dallas Willard found in his book “The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God”
“Their union with Jesus allows them now to be a part of his conspiracy to undermine the structures of evil, which continue to dominate human history, WITH THE FORCES OF TRUTH, FREEDOM, AND LOVE. We can quietly and relentlessly align ourselves with these forces, wherever they are, because we know what is cosmically afoot. To overcome evil with good, in the apostle Paul’s words is not just something for an individual effort here and there, is actually what will come to pass on this earth. The power of Jesus’ resurrection and his continuing life in human beings assures of this.”
“If cheap propaganda stunts does not secure the compliance, open threats will suffice. (here goes the freedom: the second force)
For instance, in the US, city mayors and local politicians have threatened to “hunt down”, monitor social media and jail those who break lockdown rules.”

TAKING THE RIGHT ACTION

Dallas Willard “The Allure of Gentleness”
Therefore; Christianity is false, since God is either not benevolent or not powerful, to which the presence of suffering testifies.
“God’s love is not a sentiment, but a well-reasoned devotion to the good or well-being of its objects. We have a terrible time understanding love, because we confuse it with desire. DESIRE AND LOVE ARE TWO UTTERLY DIFFERENT KINDS OF THINGS. Not only is desire not love; it is often OPPOSED to love.
Right action is the act of love, regardless of the desires of anyone involved.

Jeremy Bentham is his book: “Intro to the Principles of Morals and Legislation” writes:
“Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think; every effort we can make to throw off our subjection will serve but to demonstrate and confirm it. In words a man may pretend to abjure their empire; but in reality, he will remain subject to it all the while.”

Dallas Willard writes:
“It is only in the heat of pain and suffering, both mental and physical, that real human character is forged. One does not develop:
• courage without facing danger,
• patience without trials,
• wisdom without heart- and brain-racking puzzles,
• endurance without suffering
• temperance and honesty without temptations.
These are the very things we treasure most about people. Ask yourself if you would be willing to be devoid of all these virtues. If your answer is no, then don’t scorn the means of obtaining them.
The gold of human character is dug from torturous mines, but its dung and dirt are quite easily come by. And it should come as no surprise to us that in our time – the time of the great flight from pain, such virtues as these are conspicuous only by their absence.
I’m not saying that we should go looking for pain, so that we can develop character. This is not at all necessary. All we need to do is make an honest and thorough effort do discover what is right and wrong, good and bad, when we are convinced on these points, then simply go out and face life for what it is worth. There will be plenty of opportunity to develop character.”

C.S. Lewis in his book “The Problem of Pain” writes:
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest, most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or the other of these destinations….
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors……..
YOUR NEIGHBOR IS THE HOLIEST OBJECT PRESENTED TO YOUR SENSES.”

A PLACE OF BECOMING

Chuck Swindoll in his book “The Church Awakening” wrote:
“It is precisely these four areas the adversary will attack so he can disrupt and, if possible, destroy the church. That’s why it’s important to keep our priorities straight. It’s essential that we do not get distracted by all that we CAN do as a church…and stay focused on only what we MUST do as a church. Otherwise we may be attracting a crowd for the wrong reasons.”

Genuine authentic fellowship with other followers of Jesus is the soil for becoming contagious. There are way too many Christians that sit in church every Sunday, they take notes, walk out, and come back next week, to sit, take notes, walk out, and return again next week…
…….UNTIL JESUS COMES BACK. Such Christians will grow stagnant. They come, sit, soak and sour.
Fellowship is much more than coming to church to hear a sermon every Sunday, or engaging in weekly Bible studies, or subscribe to 5 daily devotionals, or to read 5 books a week. Fellowship is physical getting together to share LIVE WITH ONE ANOTHER.

Warren Wiersbe in his book “On Being a Servant of God” writes:
Christian service means invading a battleground, not a playground; and you and I are the weapons God uses to attack and defeat the enemy. When God used Moses’ rod, He needed Moses’ hand to lift it. When God used David’s sling, He needed David’s hand to swing it. When God builds a ministry, He needs somebody’s surrendered body to get the job done.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book “Life Together” wrote:
“The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we ARE sinners! But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says:
You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come, as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He wants you alone. “My son, give me thine heart” (Proverbs 23:26). God has come to you to save the sinner. Be glad! This message is liberation through truth. You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him. He wants to see you as you are, He wants to be gracious to you. You do not have to go on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner.”

ARE YOU CONTAGIOUS?

Chuck Swindoll in his book “The Church Awakening” wrote:
“It is precisely these four areas the adversary will attack so he can disrupt and, if possible, destroy the church. That’s why it’s important to keep our priorities straight. It’s essential that we do not get distracted by all that we CAN do as a church…and stay focused on only what we MUST do as a church. Otherwise we may be attracting a crowd for the wrong reasons.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book “Life Together” wrote:
“The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we ARE sinners! But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says:
You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come, as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He wants you alone. “My son, give me thine heart” (Proverbs 23:26). God has come to you to save the sinner. Be glad! This message is liberation through truth. You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him. He wants to see you as you are, He wants to be gracious to you. You do not have to go on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner.”

Warren Wiersbe in his book “On Being a Servant of God” writes:
Christian service means invading a battleground, not a playground; and you and I are the weapons God uses to attack and defeat the enemy. When God used Moses’ rod, He needed Moses’ hand to lift it. When God used David’s sling, He needed David’s hand to swing it. When God builds a ministry, He needs somebody’s surrendered body to get the job done.”

JESUS IS IN THE CRISIS

The Lebanese Christian author Charles Malik in his book “CHRIST AND CRISIS” writes:
“Are you perplexed? Do you “feel” the crisis? Do you “feel” something profoundly wrong, both in your life and in the affairs of the world? Do you as it were “hold your heart in your hand”, fearing that at almost the next moment something terrible is going to break out -both in you and the world? Have you reached the state where you simply do not quite trust the processes of the world (including nature, science, economics, politics, and even the best good will), suspecting that there is in them a flaw somewhere, a false note, an immanent principle of darkness, destruction, and death?
He wrote that book in 2015!

Mark Sayers in his book “Reappearing Church” writes:
“Our cultural crises show us the consequences of what happens when we try and take over the controls of the world.
To the contrite heart, the humble, the meek in spirit, God’s presence is received as waves of love. Yet for the proud, the rebellious, the autonomous, the individuals and systems that wish to continue Adam and Eve’s rebellion to reanimate the project of Babylon, to reach for progress without presence – for such people and systems, those same waves of love that are God’s presence are experienced as judgment.”

In 1966 Lesslie Newbigin published a book titled: “Honest Religion for Secular Man”
“After Christ had humiliated the power and principalities upon the cross, the sacred order of the world was exposed. It was either God’s unmediated presence or nothing.
As a Christian I see this process of secularization as an extension of the prophetic attack, in the name of the living God, upon all structures of thought, patterns of society, idols whether mental or metal, which claim sacred authority”.

THERE ARE TWO PLANS

JESUS CAME TO PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM.

Chuck Swindoll in his commentary on this text writes:
“For many years, faulty information had been taught by the religious aristocracy. With unquestioned authority, these religious leaders twisted the meaning of Holy Scripture, offered interpretations that were simply wrong, and demanded applications that were frankly impossible. Not content to let God’s Word speak for itself, they added to the commandments of God and required that everyone obey their additions without hesitation.
When Jesus sat down and delivered His illustrious Sermon on the Mount, jaws must have dropped as His audience heard an entirely different interpretation, delivered in an entirely different mode of communication.”

Dr. Michael Heiser in his book “Supernatural” writes:
“Though Eden was lost, God intends that it be restored. Ultimately, his rule – his kingdom – will return in its full scope when Jesus comes back and God creates a new heaven and earth (one that, in Revelation 21 and 22 looks a lot like Eden.)
In the meantime, we can spread the truth of God and the gospel of Jesus everywhere. We can also represent God to everyone we meet and in every place. We are God’s agents to restore Eden in the here and now, looking forward to the day when Jesus brings that plan to a climax.”

John Stott says it this way in his commentary on Matthew:
“Christian righteousness is greater than pharisaic righteousness because it is deeper, being a righteousness of the heart.
The righteousness which is pleasing to him is an inward righteousness of MIND AND MOTIVE.”

AN EXCITING OPPORTUNITY

Then, Jesus makes these remarkable statements:
• You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
• You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
• In the same way, LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE BEFORE OTHERS, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Remember, Jesus spoke these words to a crowd that has lost hope. It is easy to lose hope when things don’t look good and uncertainty and fear is dominating our very lives.

Mark Sayers in his book “The Disappearing Church” has a chapter titled:
Creative Minorities: Going Deep
“The huge tree wins the race by doing something counterintuitive. While the others fight for space, air, and light, it goes underground. While the others head upwards pushing through the surface, it goes deep. While the others pursue, visibility at the expense of stability, the tree remains underground, hidden, building powerful roots. The deep underground foundation grown by the tree ensure that it is connected to deep and unseen sources of water, nutrients, and life. Once these are secured, growth can then happen.
The tree is willing to lose the initial battles in order to win the war.”
“In our culture, which corrodes and seduces us, which erodes commitments, faith, and covenant, we need to be like the tree. The response to a culture built on superficiality, which reduces the world to a shallow secularity, is depth. We need sources of life and sustenance not found in the adulation or respect of the public. In our culture which rips at roots, which tears at foundations, we need depth, we need roots, and we need foundations.”

Richard Foster once said:
“The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”

CHRISTIAN COUNTER-CULTURE

This account shows everyone is living the same life on Instagram by Cara Curtis —
“When scrolling through your Instagram feed, do you ever feel like you’re getting déjà vu? This is probably because people seem to be living the same life on Instagram.
Whether it’s a perfectly shot piece of avocado toast alongside an artistic looking latte or a breathtaking image of someone jumping from a waterfall, it’s been done before. A million times.
Long before over-sharing online was a normal thing to do, humans have always been attracted to tourist destinations to capture the perfect photograph.
I think we’re all guilty of it to some extent, but now, instead of taking home a gift shop souvenir and relaying your trip to your close friends, people post every detail of their lives online to hundreds of followers who they may not necessarily even know.
Because of this urge to document our lives in real time, originality is becoming a thing of the past and a new-age of copycatting is creeping up on us.”

Before we go to our text, let me read from a chapter titled “the Instagram Life”
“Every society has a way of transmitting its values to the young. Some societies do it through religious festivals or military parades. One of the ways we do it is through a secular sermon called the commencement address……Many young people are graduating into limbo. Floating and plagued by uncertainty, they want to know what specifically they should do with their lives. So, we hand them
• THE GREAT EMPTY BOX OF FREEDOM.
The purpose of life is to be free. Freedom leads to happiness! We’re not going to impose anything on you or tell you what to do. We give you your liberated self to explore. Enjoy your freedom!
The students in the audience put down the empty box because they are drowning in freedom. What they’re looking for is DIRECTION. What is freedom for? How do I know which path is my path?
So we hand them another big box of nothing –
• THE BIG BOX OF POSSIBILITY!
Your future is limitless! You can do anything you set your mind to! The journey is the destination! Take risks! Be audacious! Dream big! But this mantra doesn’t help, either. If you don’t know what your life is for, how does it help to be told that your future is limitless? That just ups the pressure. So they put down that empty box. They are looking for a SOURCE OF WISDOM. Where can I find the answers to my big questions.
So, we hand them
• THE EMPTY BOX OF AUTHENTICITY.
Look inside yourself! Find your true inner passion. You are amazing! Awaken the giant within! Live according to your own true way! You do you!
This is useless too. The “you” we tell them to consult for life’s answers is the very thing that hasn’t yet formed. So they put down that empty box and ask, “What can I devote myself to? What cause will inspire me and give meaning and direction to my life?”
At this point we hand them
• THE EMPTIEST BOX OF ALL – THE BOX OF AUTONOMY.
You are on your own, we tell them. It’s up to you to define your own values, No one else can tell you what’s right or wrong for you. Your truth is to be found in your own way through your own story that you tell about yourself. Do what you love!
You will notice that our answers take all the difficulties of living in your twenties and make them worse. The graduates are in limbo, and we give them uncertainty. They want to know why they should do this as opposed to that. And we have nothing to say except. Figure it out yourself based on no criteria outside yourself. They are floundering in a formless desert. Not only over their heads.

David Brooks “The Second Mountain – The quest for a Moral Life”
The author summarizes the big SIM TO NOWHERE with these words:
“The average American has seven jobs over the course of their twenties. A third of recent college graduates are unemployed, underemployed, or making less then $ 30,000 a year at any given moment. Half feel they have no plan for their life.
These are peak years for alcoholism and drug addiction. People in this life stage move every three years. 40% move back in with their parents at least once. They are much less likely to attend religious services or join a political party. People in their odyssey years tend to be dementedly optimistic about the long-term future. 96% of 18-24-olds agree with the statement “I AM VERY SURE THAT SOMEDAY I WILL GET TO WHERE I WANT TO BE IN LIFE.”
But the present is marked by wandering, loneliness, detachment, doubt, underemployment, heartbreaks, and bad bosses, while their parents go slowly insane.”

You still don’t believe it; let me give you one more example written by the same author:
“When enough people are going through this phase at once, you end up with a society in which everything is flux. You end up with what the Polish philosopher Zygmunt Bauman calls “liquid modernity.” In the age of the smartphone, the friction costs involved in making or braking any transaction or relationship approach zero. The Internet is commanding you to click on and sample one thing after another. Living online often means living in a state of diversion. When you’re living in diversion you’re not actually deeply interested in things; you’re just bored at a more frenetic pace. Online life is saturated with decommitment devices. If you can’t focus your attention for thirty seconds, how on earth are you going to commit for life?
Such is life in the dizziness of freedom. Nobody quite knows where they stand with one another. Everybody is pretty sure that other people are doing life better. Comparison is the robber of joy.”
“You know that at some point you should sit down and find some overall direction for life. But the mind wants to wander from the meaty big questions, which are completely daunting and unanswerable, to the diverting candy right on your phone – the tiny dopamine lift.”
All of this points in one direction; INTO THE DITCH. Political freedom is great. But personal, social, and emotional freedom – when it becomes an ultimate end – absolutely sucks. It leads to a random, busy life with no discernible direction, no firm foundation, and in which, as Marx put it, all that’s solid melts to air. It turns out that freedom isn’t an ocean you want to spend your life in. Freedom is a river you want to get across so you can plant yourself on the other side – and fully commit to something.”

Dallas Willard in his book “Divine Conspiracy” writes:
“Perhaps many people will find that they are already humble. Just be humble, they say. But such a way of reading the beatitudes also gives various other kinds of people automatic access to the kingdom of heaven in terms nicely suited to them – especially if they have a distant God and not a present King. If they are not in a position to be humble, they perhaps can mange to mourn, or be meek, or become persecuted, and then one of the other Beatitudes will, on the interpretation in question, take over to secure their blessedness.

THINGS ARE ABOUT TO CHANGE

Dallas Willard in “The Divine Conspiracy”
Bar-Code Faith
Think of the bar codes now used on goods in most stores. The scanner responds only to the bar code. It makes no difference what is in the bottle or package that bears it, or whether the sticker is on the ‘right’ one or not. The calculator responds through its electronic eye to the bar code and totally disregards everything else. If the ice cream sticker is on the dog food, the dog food is ice cream, so far as the scanner knows or cares.
On a recent radio program a prominent minister spent fifteen minutes enforcing the point that ‘justification’, the forgiveness of sins, involves no change at all in the heart of personality of the one forgiven. It is, he insisted, something entirely external to you, located wholly in God himself.
His intent was to emphasize the familiar Protestant point that salvation is by God’s grace only and is totally independent of what we may do. But what he in fact said was that being a Christian has nothing to do with the kind of person you are. The implications of this teaching are stunning.
The theology of Christian trinkets says there is something about the Christian that works like the bar code. Some rituals, some belief, or some association with a group affects God the way the bar code affects the scanner. Perhaps there has occurred a moment of mental assent to a creed, or an association entered into with a church. God ‘scans’ it, and forgiveness floods forth. An appropriate amount of righteousness is shifted from Christ’s account to our account in the bank of heaven, and all our debts are paid. We are, accordingly, ‘saved’. Our guilt is erased. How could we not be Christians?
For some Christian groups the ‘account’ has to be appropriately serviced to keep the debts paid up, because we really are not perfect. For others – some strong Calvinist groups – every debt past, present and future is paid for at the initial scan. But the essential thing in either case is the forgiveness of sins. And the pay-off for having faith and being ‘scanned’ comes at death and after. Life now being lived has no necessary connection with being a Christian as long as the ‘bar code’ does its job.

R.T. France in his commentary gives us the answer:
“These large “crowds” are said to “follow” Jesus, the same term which in verses 20 and 22 denoted the first disciples’ total change of lifestyle….
A radical commitment to accompany Jesus.
Yet as the narrative progresses, we shall find only a few who are Jesus’ constant and committed companions, while a less easily defined “crowd” comes and goes. This wider group represents a pool of possible “full-time” recruits, but generally their “following” seems to be more sporadic and temporary.
The verb “follow” alone is not therefore a sufficient indication of full-scale discipleship. Mark 3:7-8 is perhaps more exact in describing this interprovincial crowd as simply “coming to” Jesus.”

Michael Heiser in “Supernatural” writes:
“The members of God’s family have a mission: to be God’s agents in restoring his good rule on earth and expanding the membership of his family. We are God’s means to propel the great reversal begun in Acts 2, the birth of the church, the body of Christ, until the time when the Lord returns.
As evil had spread like a contagion through humanity after the failure of the first Eden, so the gospel spreads like an antidote through the same infected host. We are CARRIERS of the truth about the God of gods, his love for all nations, and his unchanging desire to dwell with his family in the earthly home he has wanted since its creation. Eden will live again.
Everything we do and say matters, though we may never know why or how. But our job isn’t to see – it’s to do. Walking by faith isn’t passive – its purposeful.”

THE NAZARETH MANIFESTO

Christopher Wright in his book “The Mission of God”, writes:
“The reign of YHWH, when it would finally come, would mean justice for the oppressed and the overthrow of the wicked. It would bring true peace to the nations and the abolition of war, the means of war, and training for war. It would put an end to poverty, want and need, and provide everyone with economic viability (under the metaphor “under his own vine and fig tree”). It would mean satisfying and fulfilling life for human families, safety for children, and fulfillment for the elderly, without danger from enemies, and all of this within a renewed creation free from harm and threat. It would mean the inversion of the moral values that dominate the current world order, for in the kingdom of God the upside down priorities of the beatitudes operate and the Magnificat is not just wishful thinking.”

J.D. Green in his book “Christology in Cultural Perspective”
“As Jesus stood on trial before the highest political-religious authority in all Jewish society, he calmly took to himself the identity of the “Daniel’s Son of Man”, whose authority would ultimately overthrow the beast of oppressive and persecuting powers (Daniel 7).
No wonder the chief priest tore his robes and cried blasphemy. It just won’t do when the chief priest is cast in the role of chief beast. Jesus’ radical claims and teachings were not just bursting old wineskins; they were enough to burst some political blood vessels.”
Matthew 4:17
From that day Jesus began TO PREACH, saying: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

John McArthur in his commentary on this verse writes:
“Jesus preached His message with certainty. He did not come to dispute or to argue, but to proclaim, TO PREACH. Preaching is the proclamation of certainties, not the suggestion of possibilities.”
“Repent involves a change of opinion, or direction, of life itself. To repent is to have a radical change of heart and will – and, consequently, of behavior.”

Christopher Wright writes:
“A change of political or economic or geographical landscape, a change of government, a change of social status may all be beneficial in themselves, but they will be of no eternal benefit unless the spiritual goals of exodus are also met. So to change people’s social or economic status without leading them to saving faith and obedience to God in Christ leads no further than the wilderness or the exile, both places of death.”

DO YOU BELIEVE?

Carmen Joy Imes in her book “Bearing God’s Name” writes:
“Matthew’s gospel breaks neatly into five blocks of teaching, mimicking the five books of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy).
These five blocks of teaching are preceded by an introductory story in which Jesus’ life is in danger because King Herod, like Pharaoh, is killing Jewish babies. To escape, his parents take him to Egypt. It’s an inside-out Exodus story. When the coast is clear, they return to Palestine, retracting Israel’s journey from Egypt to the promised land. Next, we fast forward to Jesus’ adulthood, where he passes through the waters of baptism in the Jordan, reminding us of Israel’s crossing both the Red Sea and the Jordan.
After this, Jesus is sent by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days, where he reenacts Israel’s wilderness wanderings.”

Baptism does not produce salvation in this text, Rather, it corresponds to something that does, THE DEATH OF JESUS (v 19) and the RESURRECTION (v 21)
“Baptism saves” if one makes a decision; a pledge of loyalty oath,
a public proclamation of who is on the Lord’s side in the cosmic war between good and evil.
Every Baptism is therefore a reiteration of the past and future doom of the Watchers in the wake of the gospel and the kingdom of God.
Early Christians understood the typology of this passage and its link back to 1 Enoch and Genesis 6:1-4.
This is why early baptismal formulas included a renunciation of Satan and his angels. Baptism was anything but routine. It was a symbol of spiritual warfare.” Dr. Michael Heiser “Reversing Hermon”

Who is Azazel?
We find the Biblical text in Leviticus 16:7-10
“And Aaron shall take the two goats, and he shall present them before Yahweh at the tent of assembly’s entrance. Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for Yahweh and one for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot for Yahweh fell, and he shall sacrifice it as a sin offering. But the must present alive before Yahweh the goat on which the lot for Azazel fell to make atonement for himself, to send it away into the desert to Azazel.”

R.T. France
“His Father is testing him in the school of privation, and his triumphant rebuttal of the devil’s suggestions will ensure that the filial bond can survive in spite of the conflict that lies ahead.”

Dr. Michael Heiser in the “Unseen Realm” makes this comment about that temptation:
“Had Jesus given in, it would have been an acknowledgment that Satan’s permission was needed to possess the nations. It wasn’t. Satan presumed power and ownership of something that, ultimately, was not his but God’s. The messaging behind Jesus’ answer is clear: Yahweh will take the nations back by his own means in his own time. He doesn’t need them to be given away in a bargain. Jesus was loyal to his Father.”

A NEW BEGINNING

Christopher Wright in his book “The mission of God” asks the question:
“How big is our Gospel? If our gospel is the good news about God’s redemption, then the question moves on to, “How big is our UNDERSTANDING OF REDEMPTION?
Where do we turn in the Bible for our understanding of redemption?
If you would have asked a devout Israelite in the Old Testament period “Are you redeemed?” the answer would have been a most definite yes. And if you had asked “How do you know?” you would be taken aside to sit down somewhere while your friend recounted a long and exciting story – THE STORY OF EXODUS.”
Christopher Wright is referring to Exodus 6:6: Say therefore to the people of Israel, “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will REDEEM you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.

Repent is not a feeling, repent is an ACTION.
Repentance speaks of a CHANGE OF DIRECTION,
NOT A SORROW OF HEART.

Michael Heiser in “Unseen Realm» comments on this chapter:
“In Isaiah 40:1 we learn that God is the speaker. He issues four commands. All four commands are grammatically plural in Hebrew. That means that Yahweh is commanding A GROUP. The group cannot be Israelites or a collective Israel, since it is Israel that Yahweh is commanding the group to comfort, speak to, and call. You should know the identity of the group by now: THE DIVINE COUNCIL.”

“In response to the commands in Isaiah 40:1-2, a lone response comes:
A VOICE IS CALLING IN THE WILDERNESS, “CLEAR THE WAY OF YAHWEH! MAKE A HIGHWAY SMOOTH IN THE DESERT FOR OUR GOD!” (Isaiah 40:3)

Michael Heiser comments on this scene:
“Like the prophet of old, John the Baptist has “stood in the council and answered the call. To a Jew familiar with the Old Testament, the pattern would not be lost. As had been the case at the time of Isaiah, Yahweh’s council had met in regard to the fate of an apostate Israel. Isaiah had been sent to a spiritually blind and deaf nation. The calling of John the Baptist tells the reader that Yahweh’s Divine Council is in session again, only this time the aim is TO LAUNCH THE KINGDOM OF GOD WITH THE SECOND YAHWEH, NOW INCARNATE, AS ITS POINT MAN.”

FEARLESS LIVING

“It is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and what not. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.
It’s because he is smart.”
The reported asked: “So what’s he doing now?”
Scalia replied: “What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.” Antonin Scalia

In May 2016 the GUARDIAN, a highly respected British daily news, published this report:
“We live with an epidemic of anxiety. In 1980, 4 percent of Americans suffered a mental disorder associated with anxiety. Today half do. The trends in Britain are similar. A third of Britons will experience anxiety disorder at some stage in their life, with an explosion of reported anxiety among teenagers and young adults. Anxiety, depression, self-harm, attention deficit disorder and profound eating problems afflict our young as never before.
Anxiety has always been part of the human condition – as has depression and tendencies to self-harm – but never, it seems, on this scale. A number of trends appear to be colliding. This is an era when everyone is expected to find their personal route to happiness at the same time as the bonds of society, faith and community – tried and tested mechanisms to support wellbeing – are fraying. Teenagers in particular – fearful of missing out – are beset by a myriad of agonizing choices about how to achieve the good life with fewer social and psychological anchors to help them navigate their way. Who can blame them if they respond with an ever rising sense of anxiety, if not panic?”

THE HOPE FOR THE NATIONS

Carmen Joy Imes “Bearing God’s Name”
“The Israelites lived in a time when people were desperate to know what the gods were saying. Since the god’s didn’t normally SPEAK audibly as you and I do, priests were trained to read the signs they left in the natural world. Sometimes they manufactured situations in which the gods could reveal things to them, such as the elaborate rituals in which they dropped oil or flour into water and interpreted the results. They sacrificed animals and studied their livers or intestines for clues what the gods were thinking or what they would do next.
They watched for strange births of newborn animals with defects. THEY STUDIED THE STARS. They contacted the dead, doing whatever it took to forecast the future or discern the will of the gods. An answer was not guaranteed. Sometimes they simply could not figure out what the gods wanted.”

Barclay’s in his commentary on Matthew writes:
The Magi were originally a Median tribe. The Medes were part of the Empire of the Persians; they tried to overthrow the Persians and to substitute the power of the Medes. The attempt failed. From that time the Magi ceased to have any ambitions for power or prestige and became a tribe of priests. They became in Persia almost exactly what the Levites were in Israel. They became the teachers and instructors of the Persian Kings. In Persia no sacrifice could be offered unless one of the Magi was present. They became men of holiness and wisdom.
These Magi were men who were skilled in philosophy, medicine and natural science. They were soothsayers and interpreters of dreams.
In those ancient days all men believed in astrology. They believed that they could foretell the future from the stars, and they believed that a man’s destiny was settled by the star under which he was born.
It was not difficult to see how that belief arose. The stars pursue their unvarying courses; they represent the order of the universe.
If then there suddenly appeared some brilliant star, if the unvarying order of the heavens was broken by some special phenomenon, it did look as if God was breaking into His own order and announcing some special thing.”
It may seem to us extraordinary that these men should set out from the East to find a king, but the strange thing is that, just about the time when Jesus was born, there was in the world a strange feeling of expectation, a waiting for the coming of a king. Even the Roman historians knew about this.”
Suetonius in the “LIFE OF VESPASIAN” writes:
“There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judea to rule the world”
Tacitus in “Histories” writes:
“there was a firm persuasion that at this very time the East was to grow powerful, and rulers coming from Judea were to acquire universal empire.”
Josephus in “Wars of the Jews” writes:
“The Jews had the belief that about that time one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth.”

Pastor Tom Doyle in his book “Dream’s and Visions”

According to BibleArcheology.org:
“Since the early days of Christianity, Biblical scholars and theologians have offered varying interpretations of the meaning and significance of the gold, frankincense and myrrh that the magi presented to Jesus, according to the Gospel of Matthew (2:11). These valuable items were standard gifts to honor a king or deity in the ancient world: gold as a precious metal, frankincense as perfume or incense, and myrrh as anointing oil.
In fact, these same three items were apparently among the gifts, recorded in ancient inscriptions, that King Seleucus II Callinicus offered to the god Apollo at the temple in Miletus in 243 B.C.E.
The Book of Isaiah, when describing Jerusalem’s glorious restoration, tells of nations and kings who will come and ‘bring gold and frankincense and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.’” (Isaiah 60:6)

YAHWEH SAVES

Biblical scholars have long ago arranged Matthews Gospel into five main sections, which they point out correspond with the five books of Moses, also known as the TORAH. The Jewish people call the entire Old Testament THE TANACH. All five main sections refer to Jesus’ teachings:

Section One: SERMON ON THE MOUNT 5-7)
Section Two: JESUS PERFORMS MIRACLES AND SENDS HIS DISCIPLES (8-10)
Section Three: PARABLES ABOUT THE KINGDOM (13)
Section Four: HOW GREATNESS WORKS IN THE KINGDOM (18)
Section Five: JUDGMENT IN THE KINGDOM TO COME (24-25)

Matthew simply states WHO JESUS IS and NOW YOU HAVE TO WRESTLE THROUGH THE IMPLICATIONS YOURSELF. Matthew is fully convinced that presenting Jesus this way to us, we will get to know Jesus and also get to know who we are.

In the Hebrew text the words used to describe the earth are TOHU and BOHU.
IN THE PHYSICAL REALM MEANS: without form and void or chaotic.
IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM MEANS: that which is nonfunctional and unproductive

John Walton in his book: “The Lost World of Genesis One” writes:
“In the Old Testament God has no needs and focuses functionality around people. Consequently, functionality cannot exist without people in the picture.
In Genesis people are not put in place until day six, but functionality is established with their needs and situation in mind.
This conclusion is further supported by the meaning of the repeated formula “it was good,” which I propose refers to “functioning properly”.
Such a conclusion is not arbitrary but based on the context.
Throughout Genesis 1 any number of possible meanings have been proposed for “good”. In the history of interpretation, it has often been understood in MORAL/ETHICAL terms or as a reference to the QUALITY OF WORKMANSHIP.
While the Hebrew term could be used in any of those ways, the context indicates a different direction. We can find out what the author means when saying all of these things are “good” by inquiring what it would mean for something NOT TO BE GOOD.
Fortunately, the near context offers us just such an opportunity: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18)
This has nothing to do with moral perfection or quality of workmanship – IT IS A COMMENT CONCERNING FUNCTION.
The human condition is not functionally complete without the women. Thus, throughout Genesis 1 the refrain “it was good”, expressed the functional readiness of the cosmos for human beings. Readers were assured that all functions were operating well and in accord with God’s purposes and directions.”

HIS NAME IS JESUS

Dr. Michael Heiser (The Unseen Realm)
“The kingdom of God had failed in the Old Testament, but it would rise from the ashes when the divine king made his appearance. The messianic king would inaugurate a kingdom that would spread throughout the earth and eventually succeed in restoring Eden.
These ideas are familiar. Less apparent, however, is the way the Old Testament characterizes the launching of God’s kingdom as a war between gods and men.”

Michael Kibbe in his book “OUR FUTURE IN THE FACE OF JESUS”
“Through the incarnation, Yahweh has come to be with his people and save them. The name “Immanuel” implies not only that God’s presence is evident in the events surrounding Jesus’ birth, but that Jesus is Yahweh himself, come to be with his people.”

Carmen Joy Imes in her book “Bearing God’s Name”
“For Jesus, CALLING on God’s name is not enough, nor is prophecy, exorcism, or miracles done in his name. The key disposition of one who truly belongs to God is a commitment to action – doing his will rather than one’s own.
The name of God is not a charm to be used at will. It is not a magic amulet to guarantee protection. Those who fail to carry out God’s will bear his name in vain. Jesus had no patience for those whose verbal proclamations do not match their agenda.
He condemns the Pharisees and scribes for having lips and hearts that contradict each other, saying that they “worship God in vain.”
They walk around wearing official religious titles, but their hearts are haughty and self-reliant.”

TWEET AND WATCH

Founder, Jack Dorsey, explains,
“We came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was.”

Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet law at Harvard says,
“The qualities that make Twitter seem insane and half-baked are what makes it so powerful.”

But just because a message is short, does not mean it is insignificant.
Horatio Spafford saw his life collapse when he heard his four daughters had drowned in a shipwreck. This news came from his wife’s poignant telegram: “Saved Alone.”

What made Gordon Wilson a standout was that he as a Christian forgave those who planted and activated the bomb that killed his daughter. Many other Christians could not understand what Gordon Wilson was doing.
Mary McAleese writes:
“It was as if Gordon and spoken those words of forgiveness for the first time in human history, as if Christ had never uttered the words, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” One outspoken critic, who was Christian, said to me about Gordon Wilson. “Surely, the poor man must have been in shock,” as if offering love and forgiveness is a sign of mental weakness instead of spiritual strength.”

FROM THE THRONE TO ASHES

“Those who cherish worthless idols abandon their faithful love, but as for me, I will sacrifice to you with a voice of thanksgiving. I will fulfill what I have vowed. Salvation belongs to the Lord.”
Jonah learned this sentence of good theology in a strange college.
Most of the grand truths of God have to be learned by trouble. They must be burned into us with the hot iron of affliction; otherwise we will not truly receive them.
No man is competent to judge in matters of the kingdom of God until he first has been tried – since there are many things to be learned in the depths that we can never know in the heights. We discover many secrets in the caverns of the ocean, which though we had soared to heaven, we could never have known.” Charles Spurgeon

Jonah’s sermon was 5 Hebrew words;
• Jonah gives a time (40 days)
• Nineveh will be overthrown
• He never says how Nineveh will be overthrown
• nor does he mention WHY Nineveh will be overthrown.
• He does not say HOW THEY COULD AVOID THIS DISASTER
• Jonah is there to represent Yahweh yet never mentions Yahweh

THE GOD OF ANOTHER CHANCE

John H Walton in his book “The Lost World of Genesis” writes:
“As complicated as translating a foreign language can be, translating a foreign culture is infinitely more difficult. The problem lies in the act of translating. Translation involves lifting the ideas from their native context and relocating them in our own context.
When we move to the level of culture, the same type of problem occurs. The “very act of trying to translate the culture requires taking it out of its context and fitting it into ours.
(However), the minute anyone attempts to translate the culture, we run the risk of making the text communicate something it never intended.“

Eventually John Walton arrives at the conclusion that:
“We can begin to understand the culture BY BECOMING FAMILIAR WITH ITS LITERATURE.”

In other words, regarding Jonah, we read the story in English and outside it’s cultural context and that’s the reason we read and hear so many different approaches to what God is communicating with this story. Remember, the Bible was never written TO us; the Bible was written to the people that lived during those days when it was written, primarily to ISRAEL.
But the Bible was written FOR us. Jonah was written FOR US, and we can learn the incredible lessons about God and God’s people.

Circumstances are not reliable indicators of WHO GOD IS AND IF HE LOVES US OR NOT. THE ONLY RELIALBE INDICATOR OF WHO GOD IS AND HOW HE LOVE US is to look to Jesus, His life, His death, and His resurrection. That’s exactly what Jesus meant when he answered the religious people of his days WHAT SIGN HE WOULD GIVE THEM. Matthew 12:39-41

THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA

Jonah has free will and can run away from the presence of the Lord, just like you and I can if we chose to do so, BUT GOD WILL BRING A STORM INTO THE LIFE OF JONAH THAT WILL AFFECT NOT JUST JONAH, BUT EVERYONE WHO IS IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH JONAH.

Tony Evans in his book “DESTINY” writes:
“The Bible is not an anthology of random stories. The thread that ties the entire Bible together is the theme of the kingdom. God’s goal is to see His rule and authority cover the earth through the expansion of His kingdom. That is God’s purpose in history.
Scripture was penned in order to facilitate that one agenda. The unifying central theme of the Bible is the glory of God through the advancement of His kingdom. Every event, story, and personality from Genesis to Revelation is there to stitch that theme together.
Without that theme, the Bible becomes a collection of disconnected stories that seem to be unrelated to one another.”

To quote Tony Evans one more time
“When you live out your destiny, you don’t measure what you have done according to what someone else has done. Nor is your destiny to be CONFUSED WITH A BUSY LIFE.
When your life is filled with purpose, you measure what you have done according to what you were created to do.”

THE GREAT CHALLENGE

Chuck Swindoll in his Study Bible says:
“Jonah’s prophetic ministry to the Assyrians is an example of God’s care for all the nations of the earth to turn from their sin and idol worship and to recognize Him as the one true God.”
The book of Jonah stands as an important link in the prophetic chain,
giving readers a picture of Christ’s death and resurrection hundreds of years before these events occurred.”

Nineveh is the capital city of the Assyrian Empire.
Ashur-Dan III (772-754) sat on the throne of Assyria.

In 1912, Lewis Spence published the book titled:
MYTH & LEGENDS OF BABYLONIA & ASSYRIA. According to Lewis Spence,
“The entire faith in and dependence on their beloved deity on the part of these early Assyrian rulers is touching. The monarchs of Assyria retained the right to call themselves ‘priests of the god Asshur’.

Archeologists found a tablet where the prayer to Asshur was engraved:
“A prayer TO ASSHUR, the king of the gods,
ruler over heaven and earth,
the father who has created the gods,
the supreme first-born of heaven and earth,
the supreme muttallu who inclines to counsel,
the giver of the scepter and the throne.
TO NIL-LIL, the wife of Asshur,
The begetter, the creatress of heaven and earth,
TO SIN, the lord of command, the uplifter of horns,
The spectacle of heaven,
TO THE SUN-GOD, the great judge of the gods,
Who causes the lightning to issue forth,
TO ANU, the lord and prince, possessing the life of Asshur,
The father of the great gods.
TO RAMMON, the minister of heaven and earth,
The lord of the wind and the lightning of heaven.
TO ISHTAR, the queen of heaven and the stars, whose seat is exalted.
TO MERODACH, the prince of the gods,
The interpreter of the spirits of heaven and earth.
TO ADAR, the son of MUL-LIL the giant, the first born.
TO NEBO, the messenger of Asshur,
TO NERGAL, the lord of might and strength
TO THE GOD who marches in front, the first born
TO THE SEVEN GODS, the warrior deities,
TO THE GREAT GODS, the lords of heaven and earth.

THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Michael Heiser in his book “The Unseen Realm” in a summary statement says:
“The kingdom of God is already a present reality but isn’t yet realized. John the Baptist announced it. He introduced its king. Jesus preached its arrival and demonstrated what life in God’s Edenic world could and would be like; no disease, no infirmity, no demonic opposition.
The New Testament makes the rebirth of a struggle thousands of years in the making. The people of God have been isolated and under foreign rule. The divine presence of the days of Moses, David, Salomon, and the prophets is nothing but memory. When angels visit Mary and Zechariah to announce the impending births of Jesus and John, centuries of divine silence are broken. Thirty years later, Judea will explode. The unseen spiritual conflict is even more volatile.
Every chapter of the New Testament provides a glimpse into this conflict. The cosmic geography of the Old Testament is evident in the New. Where Jesus goes and what he says and does when he gets there is framed by confrontation with unseen powers. The conflict pursues him unto death – as God had planned, and as Jesus provoked. THE KINGDOM OF GOD ESTABLISHES A PERMANENT BEACHHEAD AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS AND THE DOOR OF THE EMPTY TOMB.

GOD SEEKS OUR WORSHIP

Worship has its focus on what we do with our lives.

John R.W. Stott
“Christians believe that true worship is the highest and noblest activity of which man, by the grace of God, is capable.”

Chuck Swindoll in his study Bible writes:
“It is attributing supreme worth to God, who alone is worthy of it. When we worship, that’s what we’re doing.
The purpose of the church is to cultivate worshipers. It isn’t a place to make business contacts or to go to check something off the weekly list or to bring your kids so they get something out of it. No, it’s a place to learn about our God so that our worship and understanding of Him become increasingly deeper and more meaningful. It’s a place where we give Him our praise and our gratitude.
Why is worship so important? Because it turns our full attention to the only One worthy of it.”

Jesus was using the element of water as a metaphor to describe a spiritual reality, something that would meet not just a need of the moment but a need for all eternity.

Chuck Swindoll has a wonderful commentary on verses 19-20
“Oh, you’ve been to seminary. You must be extremely smart. Let me ask you something I’ve always wondered about. How do you reconcile the great existential problem of God’s sovereignty and the free will of man?”
Only in her culture, the great debate revolved around the most appropriate place to worship an omnipresent God.

John 4:23-24
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth,
for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

THE COVENANT-KEEPING GOD

A few important questions:
• Who initiated the Covenant Idea? (6:18)
• Why did God pick Noah as a covenant partner? (6:8-9)
• What did Noah do after the promise of God? (6:22-7:1-5)
• Who made sure Noah was safe? (7:16)
• What was Noah’s response to God? (8:20)
• What was God’s response to Noah? (8:21-22)
• Was Noah fully convinced? (9:8-17)

Chuck Swindoll has this to say about Genesis 11:1-9
“One of the greatest enemies of the Christian life is the religious life. Religion is the broad way that most people take, thinking that somehow, they can do something to please God. Christianity is the narrow way that helps us understand what God has done for us.
Religion is what I do for God. Christianity is what God has already done for me. Religion is an EFFORT. Christianity is a GIFT.
The reason religion is so appealing to us is that we like feeling as if we are giving God a boost. We enjoy talking about all we’re doing for God rather than emphasizing what He has done for us. It makes us feel important. At first, religion might sound like it’s focused on God. But in the end, it’s all about us – our achievements, our glory, and our pride.”

THE POWER OF SALVATION

The Meaning of the Word Salvation:
The Greek word is “soteria” meaning to provide recovery, to rescue, to effect one’s welfare.
The Hebrew root word is “yesha” (the basis for the name Joshua and Jesus) signifies freedom from what binds or restricts and thus effects deliverance.
Salvation for many Christians has to do with something that happened to them in the past, or something they hope happened in the past.
For those people salvation has primarily to do with getting OUT OF HELL and getting in to HEAVEN.
I have no idea where this originally came from, but what I do know is that no matter how intense we search the entire Bible, NOT ONCE ARE WE BEING TOLD THAT WE ARE SAVED FROM HELL. It’s just not there.
What the Bible does say is THAT WE ARE SAVED FROM SIN. And Sin in its essence is A BROKEN RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. Sin separated us from having a relationship with God.
Salvation is the gracious work of God whereby He delivers undeserving, gospel-believing sinners from sin and its results; brings them into a right, vital relationship with Himself; and bestows on them the riches of His grace.

Dallas Willard in his book: LIVING IN CHRIST’S PRESENCE says:
“It’s not by accident that he (Jesus) says this, because that oneness, that community, is God’s signature. He doesn’t say, “May they be given ability to out-argue all their foes.” He doesn’t say, “May they be given the power to change the culture.” He doesn’t say, “May they be given really cool worship services.” Trinitarian fellowship is the foundation of the existence of that which is real.”
But eternal life is not AN EVENT. SALVATION IS NOT AN EVENT. SALVATION IS A PERSON. There is only ONE SAVIOR.

THE GLORY OF GOD

we have four texts taken out of the Word of God, all dealing with God’s Glory, and yet they all seem to say something different.
• Is God’s Glory the shining clouds
• Is it something the clouds point to
• Is it God’s honor or reputation connected with what we eat or drink
• Is it some standard to which you and I did not live up to
What is it?
What is the Glory of God?
כָּבוֹד kavod (Hebrew)
Literal meaning of this word is HEAVINESS, WEIGHT

In English we use the word heavy also as a metaphor.
• My heart is heavy when I heard your story
• This is a heavy message
We use this metaphor to describe that this message was intense and difficult to absorb or understand. And
• Literal: heaviness, weight
• Metaphorical: importance, reputation, honor
• Physical manifestation of one’s importance
• A Personal KAVOD = wealth & possessions

Why is this all important to understand? Because what the Biblical writer wants you to know is that KAVOD describes the reality of the physical weight, the wealth, the possessions, the importance, the reputation, the honor of people on this earth and then go OUTSIDE OF THOSE MANMADE ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND LOOK UP TO HEAVEN at night, look at the towering mountains, the beauty and splendor of God’s creation. It’s all real, things you can see and experience, we see and experience. The entire creation IS A REFLECTION OF GOD’S GLORY.
The entire realty of God’s Creation is God’s KAVOD.

YOU ARE HOLY

Diplomat and Philosopher Dag Hammarskjold wrote in the book titled MARKINGS:
“Respect for the word is the first commandment in the discipline by which a man can be educated to maturity – intellectual, emotional, and moral. Respect for the word – to employ it with scrupulous care and an incorruptible heartfelt LOVE OF TRUTH – is essential if there is to be any growth in a society or in the human race.
To misuse the word is to show contempt for man. It undermines the bridges and poisons the wells. It causes man to regress down the long path of his evolution.”

Easton’s Bible Dictionary
“Holiness in the highest sense belongs to God ( Isaiah 6:3 ; Revelation 15:4 ), and to Christians as consecrated to God’s service, and in so far as they are conformed in all things to the will of God ( Romans 6:19 Romans 6:22 ; Ephesians 1:4 ; Titus 1:8 ; 1 Peter 1:15 ). Personal holiness is a work of gradual development. It is carried on under many hindrances, hence the frequent admonitions to watchfulness, prayer, and perseverance ( 1 Corinthians 1:30 ; 2 Corinthians 7:1 ; Ephesians 4:23-24).

קָדוֹשׁ “qadosh”
Qadosh literally means “to be set apart for a special purpose”.

The fundamental and core meaning, of the word “hagios”, is… “different, and unlike the rest”.
If you’re a Christian, then you are one of “the holy ones”. And do you know why you’re holy? It’s because you’re different. While we may not think of ourselves as “holy,” we are in fact set apart from the world to be Yahweh Elohim’s servants and his representatives. Yahweh set us apart for this very special purpose, to REPRESENT HIM ON THIS EARTH, not in the future only, BUT HERE A NOW. TODAY.

TRUTH IS MORE THAN PROPER DOCTRINE

We all know that JESUS IS THE TRUTH and the Way and the life that we need. This is no mere metaphor, it is the very meaning of truth. The truth is alive and incarnational. TRUTH IS PERSONAL, RELATIONAL, AND COMMUNAL.
Parker “To know as we are known”

Knowing truth demands ACTION ON OUR PART.
Encountering truth involves our surrendering to honest self-examination, rooting out the old beliefs, receiving light to see things the way God sees them, and doing the work of engaging with the Holy Spirit so that He can anchor truth in our soul. That is the meaning of truth in the way that Jesus uses the term.

ATONEMENT
1 John 1:5-2:2
1:7 “the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin”
1:9 “he will forgive us and cleanse us from all sin”
2:2 “Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice (propitiation) for our sins”
• The blood is a metaphor of Jesus death on the cross. The death of Jesus cleanses us from sin
• The death of Jesus provides the means of forgiveness
• The death of Jesus by which we are forgiven is the atonic sacrifice for our sins.
“Atonement” = At-one-ment, to make right to reconcile Oxford English Dictionary

John wrote his sermon in Greek.
Greek: Hilasmos
Hebrew: kipper
Meaning: to “cover” someone’s failure; to erase the debt; to purify the relationship

This truth is more than doctrine, this truth is personal, relational and communal. It affects every aspect of our life.
Colossians 1:9-10
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking
• That you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
• So as to walk in the manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him,
• Bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.