Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Imminent Danger

They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills.
Lamentations 4:5

What a dreaded and fearful sight!  Jeremiah the prophet, a failure by today's standards in that he won very few to his "mega-church movement", was forced to watch his beloved nation fall under the mighty hand of God's wrath for their sin.  Had they only heard his Holy Spirit inspired warnings!  The story may have been much different.  Now, as the scripture above says, those who were brought up in a prosperous land were made to embrace dunghills.  This verse is a tell.  It shows God's hand and the last great sign before the imminent danger of judgment--prosperity.

What do Sodom and Gomorrah, Noah's day, Judah, and Mystery Babylon all have in common as far as judgment is concerned?  They were all in times of prosperity just prior to their individual judgment.   Ezekiel comments on Sodom and says that there was abundance of bread (prosperity) and idleness in the land (shaqat--peace; a false sense that all was OK in the land due to the abundance even while the land was a moral cesspool--Ezekiel 16:49).  Jesus mentioned that it was a time of prosperity as well in Sodom.  He then parallels Noah's day as a time of prosperity too in Luke 17:26-27.  "They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;..."  There was plenty to go around so why focus on such "negative" messages?  Why harp on topics such as judgment or accountability? The above scripture from Lamentations also speaks of prosperity when it says that they who were brought up in scarlet in Jerusalem were later seen digging in the trash.  Finally, read Revelation 18 for a description of the state of Mystery Babylon just before its demise. 

Jeremiah relates a very disconcerting fact about those who suffered through the destruction of Judah in chapter 44 of his work.  Those who had fled to Egypt from the sword of the Babylonian's immediately fell back into gross sin and idolatry.  The prophet was frantic as he tried to reason with them.  He knew that their sin had brought this on them, but they only remembered the false sense of security that prosperity without morality brought them just before the decimation of their homeland.  Fathom the words of their flagrant rebellion against God, "But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil (Jeremiah 44:17)."  In short, we will follow our own ways and our own idols because we had plenty when we did things our way!

It seems that the same spirit of deception is rampant in America that was prevalent in all of the places named above.  Many are there who support candidates simply because of the promise of great economic bounty for the land, yet those candidates also promote murder (aka. abortion), homosexuality, pedophilia, pornography, and every other godless way while working tirelessly to remove anything associated with God from the public arena.  Have they forgotten the words of scripture?  "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).  Do you know where I learned that scripture?  It was in the front of a Bible that was given to my dad when he was in the US Air Force in the late 1950s.  Just today I saw the pictures of a chapel on a camp in Afghanistan where a cross had to be removed from site.  However, in the same camp a homosexual pride flag was blatantly flown.  How much have things changed in one generation?  Such a duality!  Why is it that those who are so near to the ax laid at the base of the tree can't see the impending disaster?  

Solomon wrote that there is nothing new under the sun.  This message came about while I was researching for a study of 2 Peter.  Last week, a church member mentioned that much of what I said at a Wednesday night study sounded like a book he was reading called America's Last Call by David Wilkerson written in 1998.  Of all of his works, I had never read that one, but when the member let me borrow it, I could not put it down.  Much of what I said above was revealed in that book and could serve as a brief synopsis.  Earlier today, a friend's Facebook posting of Galatians 6:7-8 led me to write out what I have spent a few weeks studying. We are too focused on the temporal, material "blessings" in America.  However, we desperately need to be concerned about the gross and rampant sin that is infesting each and every part of our society.  The problem is that too many see their "things" and reason that God is blessing.   Many feel that there are just too many praying believers in America for God to judge.  This is the same attitude that was prevalent in Judah before the Babylonians came.  They even had the temple as assurance.  God, however, had warned them not to trust in a building as assurance but to trust in His word.  

There is a tipping point.  A point where the sin of the Amorites reaches its fill (Genesis 15:16).  A place where God even tells His servants to stop their intercession as He will hear it no more as He told Jeremiah.  "
Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble (Jeremiah 11:14)."  God told Isaiah that Judah had crossed a line where He would no longer purge the land of its sin until all were destroyed (Isaiah 22:14).  He also shared that same message with Ezekiel  about Jerusalem.  "In thy filthiness is lewdness: because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee (Ezekiel 24:13)."  There is a time of accountability for the shedding of innocent blood!  God have mercy.  Have we crossed that line?  Only God knows, yet the writing seems to be on the wall.  Interesting!  What was going on in Babylon the night the hand appeared and God pronounced sudden judgment?  All of the inhabitants of Babylon was partying and celebrating their prosperity.  They were oblivious to the Medo-Persian Army crawling under their walls until it was too late.

Stay focused on Christ and winning the lost.  They are the only treasures you can take to heaven with you.  Remember, Jesus Christ is Soon2Come!  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The True and The False

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2 Peter 2:1

Like other portions of scripture, 2 Peter 1:16 through 2 Peter 2:3 appears to be in a chiastic structure.  Here the device is being used to compare and contrast the true ministers of the gospel with those that are false.  The photo below highlights this structure.  The apostle had a lot to say in those few short verses about what the true and the false witnesses for Christ look like.  In this time of great deception prior to the coming of the LORD, it would behoove us to take note.  Remember Christ's warning: " For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."  Matthew 24:24

Simon Peter begins this pattern, under divine inspiration, with the definitive statement that the true witnesses are not telling " cunningly devised fables", but they are telling you the truth about Jesus Christ.  Noting Christ's power at His first advent (parousia is used for "coming" and means an advent), the apostle gives us our first clue.  True witnesses of Christ stay focused on Jesus as they tell of His power and presence in their lives.  They are telling what they received from God. There is no adding things nor making things up.  What have you received have from God in Christ?  Tell the world.  Yet, keep your focus on what God says and does as the apostles did in verses 1:16-18.  Say what He says only.

Verses 1:19-1:21 take us back to the written word of the prophets which Peter would have known so well.  Again, the prophets stay on topic--Jesus.  They give a sure word that the Messiah would come and they specifically outline His ministry.  Their word illuminates our heart because they also are not speaking their own thing.  There is a diligent relating of what the Holy Ghost says only. There is a lot of stress in these six verses on sharing what God says and not misinterpreting for selfish reasons.  This is what makes a true witness true.  He or she speaks the things of God and not the things of man.  They do not take the word and try to make it into a personal revelation.  They share God's interpretation.  Just one last note here.  Did you notice the stress on the Trinity?  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all speak and the focus stays squarely on our Advocate, Jesus.   For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6

Verse 2:1a is a somber warning.  "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you..."  What makes false teachers and false prophets so successful?  They are like fishing lures or animal calls used to deceive, snare, and prey upon the unsuspecting and unawares.  They appear to be real.  To be sure that they are known for what they are, Peter clearly shares those bad fruits they possess.  So what is the first thing mentioned?  It is simple really.  If God spent so much time keeping us focused on Christ in the first verses, than it makes sense that demonically, fleshly inspired false witnesses would deny Christ and teach heretical things about Him.   Things like Jesus being a Muslim.  Christian prof says Jesus was Muslim

They would teach things that would make a Holy Savior and the only means of salvation be evil spoken of like:
Episcopal Church Clears Way for Transgender Ordination
Conservatives Grieve Episcopal Church's Approval of Gay Blessing Service

The point is that they would follow their own ideas, concepts, and philosophies about God and His word for their own selfish, "pernicious" reasons.  Peter then goes on to say how these false teachers will share a materialistic message that makes merchandise of the people of GOD.  Do I really need to go there? This is all very sad really because there is no future in being a false witness of Christ.  They will "
 bring upon themselves swift destruction" and  "their damnation slumbereth not." 

Going back to the truth and being true to your witness, stay focused on Christ.  Truly, He is Soon2Come!
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  and through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
2 Peter 2:2-3