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Archive for the ‘Eschatology’ Category

(revised 08/24/15)

I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around the reality of eternity. God’s Word also uses the terms “everlasting”, “forever”, etc. I don’t know whether there will be “time” as we know it (with one year equaling 365 days i.e. one complete orbit of the Earth around the Sun). But however the word “time” is used after Christ returns, born again, resurrected Christians will live forever in God’s presence.

It is impossible to comprehend eternity. But I came up with this story which will perhaps give us a start.
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One day in Heaven a group of the born again saints came before God the Father and asked, “Could You teach us more about eternity? Can You help us better comprehend what ‘eternity’ means?”

God replied, My children, I will try to explain in terms you can understand. First of all, recall this passage from My Word:

29) Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30) But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31) So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. (Matt. 10:29-31)

Now, My children, how many birds  – not just sparrows but all birds – do you think there are on Earth?

The saints conferred for awhile, then presented God with a number. God chuckled, for the saints had underestimated by several trillions.  Then He wrote the total number of birds down in His ledger.

Then God asked, Now, My children, how many hairs do you think are on all the heads of all mankind?

The saints conferred for awhile, then presented God with a number. God chuckled, for the saints had underestimated by several trillions. Then He wrote the total number of hairs down in His ledger.

Then God said to the saints, My children, consider these two passages:

He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. (Psa. 147:4)

That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; (Gen. 22:17)

Then God said, Now, My children, how many stars do you think there are? Here’s a hint – even ungodly, atheist scientists are awed by the number of stars in My universe; some scientists estimate there are between 100 and 200 billion currently observable galaxies, each with billions of stars. (1)

The saints conferred for awhile, then presented God with a number. God chuckled, for the saints had underestimated by trillions. Then He wrote the total number of stars down in His ledger.

Then God asked, My children, how many grains of sand do you think there are – not just on the seashore, but in the whole Earth?

The saints conferred for awhile, then presented God with a number. God chuckled, for the saints had underestimated by trillions. Then He wrote the total number of grains of sand in His ledger.

Then God asked the saints,

How many leaves do you think are on all the plants on Earth?
How many blades of grass do you think are on Earth?
How many granules of dirt do you think are in the Earth?
How many snowflakes do you think are on the Earth?
And … how many drops of water do you think are in all of Earth’s oceans and other bodies of water?

The saints conferred for awhile, then presented God with the numbers. God chuckled, for the saints had underestimated each of the numbers by trillions. Then He wrote the total numbers of leaves, blades of grass, granules of dirt, snowflakes and drops of water in His ledger.

God passed around His ledger for the saints to see. As they pondered the huge numbers in awe, God called forward one of the saints. Then God gently placed ten drops of water in the palm of the saint’s hand. And God said, My children, let Me ask you just one more question. How many total atoms do you think are in My entire universe? Here’s a hint. One of Earth’s scientists has made this estimate when discussing molecules:

… the number of [known] stars in the heavens is “an unbelievably large number,” but then… you will find the same number of molecules “in just ten drops of water.” (2)

The saints conferred for awhile, then replied: “We don’t know the total number of atoms, let alone molecules – we can’t even fathom such a number.”

God chuckled, then wrote the total number of atoms in His ledger, for He knew the exact number.  When He announced the number, the saints bowed down in awe at God’s Creation. Then God said, My children, here is My point. You began by asking Me, “Can You help us better comprehend what ‘eternity’ means?”  Think of it this way. Imagine that each atom in My universe represents one year of “Earth time”. When this number of years has passed, this will literally be just the BEGINNING of eternity with Me.
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Dear reader, eternity is a long, long time. Imagine time that is infinite, that never ends. Unfathomable, but true.

Now, where do you want to spend your future – eternally in God’s presence, or in eternal torment in the Lake of Fire? Only a fool, a lunatic or an unbeliever would choose eternal torment by remaining an unbeliever. Yet most people do choose to remain unbelievers. As creatures with free will, they stubbornly refuse to believe the Bible and the message of salvation, rejecting Christ.

Dear sinner, I would plead with you to:

Repent of your sins and your ungodly, self-centered life
Believe Christ died as the “sin debt offering” (paying the penalty of eternal punishment for your sins) and rose again
Accept Christ as your Saviour today
Turn your life over to Christ as Saviour and Lord (commit your life 100% to Him)
Live for Him the rest of your life, in total obedience to His Word

Your eternal destiny is at stake.

FOOTNOTES

(1) Elizabeth Howell, How Many Galaxies Are There?

(2) Comments by David Blatner, as discussed by Robert Krulwich in Which Is Greater, The Number Of Sand Grains On Earth Or Stars In The Sky?


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I am privileged to be Facebook Friends with John Henderson, a member and Administrator of the Facebook “Concerned Nazarenes” Group. In the face of the Supreme Court gay “marriage” hearings, John has written an excellent article regarding homosexuality. The need of this hour, in these End Times, is for born again Christians to confront this and many other sins. Through such articles, hopefully the Holy Spirit will convict sinners, leading them to repent of their sins and accept Christ as Saviour and Lord. Personally, I would feel amiss if I did not warn sinners of the path they’re on, leading to an eternity in Hell and the Lake of Fire.

Following is a repost of John’s article, also posted on the blog of my good Facebook Friend Manny Silva (click here for the original).

Why I am Compelled to Oppose Homosexuality
(By John Henderson)

I am under obligation to declare the whole council of God. I would not know that homosexuality (behavior and orientation) were an abomination before God outside of the Scriptures. I recall the time when homosexuals asked only to be left to themselves. We did that. Then they asked for more and more, each time getting what they asked for. Now they are in a militant demand-mode to the point that American ministers are being threatened imprisonment in some places if they refuse to perform “gay” marriages and American Christian businesses are being fined for refusing to serve “gay” customers.

There was a period when, as a practicing psychotherapist, I carried a client load of homosexuals seeking counseling about their difficulties surrounding the sin. Without exception, when I brought them face to face with the solution of deliverance in Jesus Christ, they walked away, some being haughtily offended that I should even suggest they were in need of forgiveness and redemption. Every one of my clients intentionally chose to follow the homosexual lifestyle instead of coming to Christ. Word got around and they stopped seeking me as a counselor.

I am not aware of anyone at this time in my family who is homosexual. There are those, however, who are very dear to me who are addicted to other kinds of sin, sins just as damning. I do not make excuses for them but let those I love know with biblical clarity where they stand and what needs to happen in their lives whenever the subject should come up. I am obligated before God to be true to their eternal souls.

There is not one person caught up in that lifestyle that I do not feel strong compassion for, often to the point of tears. But I cannot, through false sentimentality, make them feel comfortable, accepted, and secure in the sin they have chosen. There are leaders in my own denomination who coddle them, sooth them, and make them feel comfortable in this choice of theirs and it is damning their poor souls to hell. Those leaders shall answer to God for that failure to be a watchman on the tower.

If my own sons, daughters, or sister announced they were “gay”, I would still love them. They would be just as welcome in my home as ever before. I would not engage in shaming or humiliating them or doing anything to put them down or alienate them from my love. Any “gay” stranger or acquaintance in need of help will get that help without qualification or hesitation. At the same time—and they would already know this—I would not let them off the hook concerning the claims of Christ on their souls. I would not change God’s rules just because they were precious to me or because I needed to better “understand” them somehow.

I do not go about seeking battles with homosexuals. The homosexual agenda is another matter. It is currently a powerful tool of the Marxist socialist agenda with the self-proclaimed objective of undermining and eventually destroying the Christian biblical influence in our society. It is not a person-on-person struggle. It is a struggle of two worlds, each with diametrically opposite objectives. People are only the pawns in a demonic battle against the Church of our Lord—which is actually a rebellion against the Lordship of Christ.

If my dear ones should choose to follow that way (or any other way that leads to destruction), I will be forced, with broken heart, to watch them slipping into hell. Since I do not want to be caught in that position, I intend to cry out all the more in warning that they are going 190 miles an hour down a dead-end street. I had rather hurt their feelings and offend them greatly, and have them despise me than to be even partly responsible for what becomes of them if this is the direction they choose for themselves.

I am aware there are desperate attempts to justify homosexuality, especially in efforts to make it appear that it is somehow okay with God and even supported by the Bible. There are homosexual “churches”, homosexual “ministers” and even a “Queen James Bible” translation. That is only whistling in the dark.

2 Peter 2:7 tells us that God “rescued righteous Lot, who was deeply distressed by the lifestyle of the lawless in [their] debauchery.” One may assume he probably brought up the subject more than once while living there. We know he remained righteous in spite of it to the point that God had to remove him and his family before he could destroy the two cities because of Abraham’s prayer. God would have spared the cities had there been only ten righteous in both places, but there were only Lot, his wife (who perished afterwards), and two daughters. One might assume that only Lot was righteous and the other three benefited with their lives because of his righteousness.

When righteousness is removed, homosexuality takes over and the wrath of God is all that remains. Even those who could have escaped, such as Lot’s two sons-in-law, will perish along with the intentionally degenerate. The simple truth is that you cannot mock God and expect Him to look the other way.

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(revised 11/19/15)

The news headlines are foreboding for born again Christians in America. As we all know, in 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court declared gay “marriage” legal in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia.

I was surprised that gay marriage is not new – a number of other countries have had gay marriage for quite some time now. This Wikipedia article lists countries where gay marriage is already legalized, as well as countries which are close to legalizing gay marriage.

But readers might ask, “Why is this a big deal? Christians in America have been losing their rights for decades now. After all, prayer was removed from our public schools over fifty years ago.”

Here’s the big deal. With the national legalization of gay “marriage”, the United States is entering uncharted waters morally. Never in history has a nation as large as ours legalized homosexual sin/perversion in this way.

… The Court’s decision may impact the form of biblically based churches dramatically. Churches that hold to a strict and conservative interpretation of the Bible’s teaching about gender and marriage may find themselves “Romanized”.

The elites of first century Rome would not allow the church an institutional presence in society. “The Christian churches were associations which were not legally authorized, and the Roman authorities, always suspicious of organizations which might prove seditious, regarded them with jaundiced eye,” writes Kenneth Scott LaTourette.

In our time this means local churches that do not embrace same-sex marriage would find their legal status shaky or non-existent, as well as parachurch groups, conservative Christian colleges, church-based humanitarian agencies, and all other religious institutions – Christian and otherwise – supporting the traditional view of marriage.

Without state-recognized corporate status everything from mortgages and building permits to employment and hiring practices is threatened – all of them essential for institutional function.

Journalist Ben Shapiro notes that there is already a movement on the state level “to revoke non-profit status for religious organizations that do not abide by same-sex marriage.” The Supreme Court’s decision could make churches refusing to comply “private institutions engaging in commerce,” and therefore subject to laws already in place. Refusal to perform a same-sex wedding would put a church out of business…

Mr. Henley then provides some excellent info on corporations which are lining up in favor of “same sex marriage”(and by inference disciplining/harrassing/persecuting Christian employees who stand up for traditional marriage).

Mr. Henley then goes on to analyze the state of American Christianity. Namely, where we stand currently in the slide towards full-blown persecution. He writes:

Previously, I wrote in The Christian Post about the process by which the prophetic voice is silenced in a culture: Marginalization, caricaturization, vilification, criminalization, elimination.

We have reached the stage of vilification – conservative Christians are now regarded by the consensus establishments as the villains in “transformed” America. The Supreme Court may well take us to the criminalization stage.

The biblical church therefore must learn to live as the first century Christians did in Rome.

Their faith would not permit violent resistance to the state. Rather, as Dr. Martin Luther King would demonstrate, the resistance would take the positive form of standing for truth midst the antagonism of individuals and institutions opposing their freedom. [This is the one part of Mr. Henley’s article on which I have a serious difference of opinion. I have a problem with Mr. Henley referring to MLK here. MLK led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) – which today fights for gay marriage and other LGBTQ “rights” – and thus against Christians who favor traditional marriage. The SCLC  lists a number of born again Christian agencies, under the heading of LGBTQ hate groups, even providing info on these Christian groups to the FBI. I should give Mr. Henley the benefit of a doubt – perhaps he is not aware of this…]  The first century Roman Christians knew the greatest they could do in the exclusion of marginalization, ridicule of caricaturization, loathing of vilification, infamy of criminalization, and threat of elimination was to live out their faith in the midst of a society that hated them.

Since they did not have official sanction for an institutional presence in Rome, the Roman Christians operated through organic relational communities. In homes, catacombs, and other secret places, they functioned as the body of Christ. And when they emerged up into the public glare they manifested the face of Christ.

This is what the biblical church must prepare for now. Leaders should begin thinking about what will happen if non-profit status is lost. Christian institutions must embrace a Book of Acts strategy for corporate operation. Schools must train future church leaders in New Testament strategies…

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(Revised 11/19/15)

Today many LGBT proponents of gay marriage are accusing born again Christians of hate crimes. Seems to me they’re confusing the definitions of these supposed transgressions: “bias”, “discrimination”, “bullying”, “persecution”, “hate speech”, “hate literature, and “hate crimes”.

Regarding the traditional definition of “hate crimes”, I have never heard of truly born again, biblically sound, mature, godly Christians causing violent, physical, bodily harm to LGBT people or their property. Let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Can LGBT people say they have never caused violent, physical, bodily harm to truly born again, biblically sound, mature, godly Christians or their property?

But I digress. The question at hand: does the Bible have hate speech towards LGBT people, as they claim? I say no! And Pastor Jack Wellman concurs. I have taken the liberty of reposting Pastor Wellman’s article below. Click here for the original posting of his article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Jack WellmanArticle by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book  Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.

Does The Bible Have Hate Speech?

Some call what is preached in the Bible hate speech.  Does the Bible actually have hate speech?

What is Hate?

There are laws in Canada that make it a crime to preach against certain things that exist in their society and these laws may soon be coming to the U.S but is there really hate speech in the Bible?  Can we say that with authority?  We know that God hates sin and it is said that God hates divorce but it never says that God hates divorced people.  Psalm 7:11 says that “God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day” but the Hebrew doesn’t actually call it “hate” but the Hebrew word “za`am” means “to denounce, express indignation,” or “to be indignant” and it is the wicked because of their sin that God denounces and expresses His indignation against.  For those who have repented and put their trust in God, His anger against sin was satisfied by Jesus Christ at the cross.  Christ “was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities” and “upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace” (Isaiah 53:5) which is what Paul wrote “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1) so now there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1).  God hates sin because sin was very costly…costing Jesus His life and the price for our sins was placed upon Jesus at Calvary in unimaginable torment and suffering that went on for hours.  God loves the Son but He also loves those who have repented and trusted in Him too so Jesus took the wrath of God so that we wouldn’t have to bear it ourselves in hell and it was “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).

Does God Hates Sin but Love the Sinner?

If we look at the Bible verses that contain the word sin + hate we can see that it is not always directly pointed toward the person but what the person does.  I hated it when my son or daughter disobeyed me but I never hated them…so in my love I disciplined them.  If I didn’t love them, I would do nothing…that would be apathy.  Regarding the sin and not as much the sinner, God has much to say about it and it’s not good; “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him” (Prov 6:16).  The psalmist added “you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you” (Psalm 5:4).  For the most part, the world is separated from God by their sins (Isaiah 59:2) and if we love the world, then the love of the Father is not in us because whoever has “friendship with the world is at enmity (or hostility) with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).  That’s why those “who love the Lord, hate evil [and] He preserves the lives of his saints” (Psalm 97:10).

What is Love?

If you knew someone who was blind and they were walking toward the edge of a cliff, it would be hateful to not warn them. You could be held legally liable for not warning them.  Just as if you saw a child drowning in a swimming pool and did nothing to save them would be criminally negligent, so it is to not warn people that if they step out of this life without Christ, they face an eternal punishment from which there is no escape.  It is not hateful to warn them of an impending judgment that is coming, on the contrary, it is the most loving thing you can ever do…even if it comes at the expense of their hating you.  It is really the message that they hate and not the messenger.  The message from Jesus’ own lips says “whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18b).  Everyone loves John 3:16 but it means nothing without John 3:18.

Conclusion

The opposite of love is not hate…it is indifference or apathy.  Do we care that people are dying every day without Christ and will suffer in hell for their sins?  Do we not care enough to point them to the One and only way that they can be saved (Acts 4:12)?  I believe if we don’t share the bad news of people’s sins separating them from a Holy God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and that “whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36b) the “good news” of salvation in Jesus Christ alone will mean nothing.  It’s actually a cruel thing to not tell others that they will stand before God and be judged someday apart from Christ (Rev 20:12-15) and that no works will ever be good enough to save them (Eph 2:8-9).  They must repent of (turn away, forsake) their sins and then put their trust in Jesus Christ.  Show them love by telling them the truth; that God is angry at the sinner every day (Psalm 7:11).  Tell them how they can be saved from God’s wrath and after they die and at the judgment (Heb 9:27) they will be saved.  And tell them to their face that it is in their “hard and impenitent heart [that they] are storing up wrath for [themselves] on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Rom 2:5) so they need to repent, believe, and be saved (John 3:16).

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(revised 11/19/15)

In recent days I have been very concerned about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the “same-sex marriage” issue. As we all know, “same-sex marriage” was approved for all 50 states of the U.S. (plus the District of Columbia) in 2015.

A question for born again Christian readers: are you “vexed” (troubled) by the possibility of nationally recognized gay marriage? I’m not talking about just the possibility of various Christian rights being taking away. I’m also talking about concern over sin itself.

I must admit, I have a tendency to be angry towards sinners themselves. But we need to take a deep breath, step back, and realize why we preach against sin. Sinners are headed straight down the path to Hell and the eternal Lake of Fire, if they do not accept Christ as Saviour. This is what our preaching against sin (of various kinds) should be all about – pointing out sin, and allowing the Holy Spirit to convict so sinners will turn around, repent of sin and accept Christ as Saviour and Lord.

I realize there are various ways to approach sinners and sin. And I would say different people need to be approached in different ways. Plus preachers vary in their personalities and God-given missions. John the Baptist and other prophets seemed to “rail” against sin in righteous anger. On the other hand, Jeremiah was called “the weeping prophet” (see the book of Lamentations), and Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

Following is an excellent, pertinent sermon outline I came across, by Independent Fundamental Baptist Pastor James J. Barker. The original sermon outline can be found here. I hope to add links to the Scripture passages, as time permits.

BEING VEXED IS NOT ENOUGH

Text: II PETER 2:1-9

INTRODUCTION:

1.     I would like to draw your attention to a word found twice in our text this morning – “vexed” (2:7, 8).  Lot was vexed. He did not approve of the so-called “gay lifestyle” of Sodom and Gomorrah.

2.     To be “vexed” means to be troubled, to be afflicted, to be disturbed, to be annoyed, and to be distressed.

3.     From our text we see that Lot was vexed by the filthy behavior of the Sodomites (2:6-8).  In fact, some Greek scholars even translate this word as “tortured” – i.e., Lot was being tortured by “seeing and hearing” what the Sodomites were doing.

4.     If all we had to go by was the OT, most of us would assume that Lot was not a saved man.  However, in II Peter 2:7, Lot is referred to as a just man, and in verse 8 he is referred to as a righteous man.

5.     In other words, Lot was saved.  He was carnal; he was backslidden; he was a compromiser – but he was saved.  Lot knew the Lord.

6.     As we look at the life of Lot this morning, I would like to remind you that I Corinthians 10:11 says these OT historical accounts were “written for our admonition.”

7.     Then the very next verse says, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” This is an important lesson for us because in the Bible, Lot represents the carnal, worldly Christian, and the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah represent the world.

8.     Sodom and Gomorrah are referred to many times in both the OT and the NT.  We do not have time to look up all of the references, but we will look at a few in order to demonstrate that in the Bible, Sodom and Gomorrah is a picture and type of the world (cf. Isaiah 1:9, 10; 3:8, 9; 13:19; Jer. 23:14; 49:17, 18; Ezek. 16:49; Amos 4:11, 12; Zeph. 2:9; Luke 17:28-32; Rev. 11:8).

9.     Did you notice that God not only compares Israel, and Judah, and Jerusalem to Sodom and Gomorrah; He also compares Babylon, Edom, Moab, and Ammon to Sodom and Gomorrah.

10. In other words, just as Lot represents the worldly, carnal believer; and Sodom and Gomorrah represent the world.

11. My message this morning is entitled, “Being Vexed Is Not Enough.”  There are many Christians who complain about the homosexuals but they let their children dress just like the world.  They oppose abortion but they let their children go to proms and get involved in dating.

I. LOT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SEPARATED FROM THE SODOMITES

1.     Second Peter 2:7 says that Lot was “vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.”  In the King James Bible, “conversation” refers to conduct and behavior.

2.     Lot was not only vexed by the way they talked, he was vexed by the way they lived – “their unlawful deeds.”

3.     I think it is easy to understand what happened to Lot.  We see this all the time.  For example, a young person goes to public school and tries to live for God and soon he or she gets discouraged – the ridicule, the derision, the sarcasm, the scorn, the contempt – it becomes to much to bear so soon the public school student begins to “blend in” rather than be different from his ungodly classmates.

4.     This peer pressure is very strong with teenagers but it is also a problem with adults.  Christians often hear dirty words and gutter language at work.  Wicked sinners will take God’s name in vain, but many Christians will not object.

5.     This is what happened to Lot.  He should have separated from the Sodomites.  He should have taken a stand for God.  He should have protected his family, but he didn’t.

6.     The Bible says, “For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds” (2:8).

7.     Notice, Lot had to endure this ungodliness “day to day.”  He was horribly affected by what he was “seeing and hearing” (2:8).  Many Christians vex their righteous soul by what they are seeing and hearing – for example, by watching garbage on TV, and videos, and the Internet, and listening to rock music, and so on (cf. II Peter 2:8).

8.     Michael Green says, “It is customary for Christians today, living inn a secularized society, no longer to be shocked by sinful things which they see and hear.  They will, for example, without protest sit through a television program presenting material which a generation ago they would never have contemplated watching at a theatre or cinema. But when a man’s conscience becomes dulled to sin, and apathetic about moral standards, he is no longer wiling to look to the Lord for deliverance” (Tyndale Commentary).

9.     Remember, Lot had to be dragged out of Sodom (Gen. 19:16).

10. By the way, notice sodomy is called “unlawful” (II Peter 2:8).  Liberal politicians and wicked judges can pass all the laws that they want but they cannot make homosexuality lawful because God calls it “unlawful.” The Bible also calls it sinful, vile, wicked, abominable, unnatural, dishonorable, unseemly, and foolish.

11. James 1:27 tells us that we should keep ourselves “unspotted from the world,” but too many Christians are like Lot.

II.  LOT DID NOT HAVE A GOOD TESTIMONY IN SODOM

1.     You may remember the interesting conversation between the LORD and Abraham that is recorded in Genesis 18.

2.     In this portion of Scripture, Abraham is attempting to intercede for Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:16-33).

3.     Abraham is pleading for the wicked citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah.  He does not want to see them destroyed.

4.     Note that Abraham starts with 50 (Gen. 18:23, 24) and ends up with the LORD assuring him that He will not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if only ten righteous people can be found there (18:32).

5.     Perhaps Abraham thought that Lot and his extended family would be enough to spare the judgment of God. If Lot had just won his own family to the Lord, along with his daughters’ husbands and his sons’ wives, the Lord would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah, but Lot had absolutely no influence in Sodom (Gen. 19:12-14).

6.     The Scofield Study Bible says, “Lot had utterly lost his testimony” (cf. Gen. 19:9 and Scofield margin – “The world’s contempt for a worldly believer”).

7.     The reason Lot could not persuade his friends and family, and the reason he had absolutely no influence for God was he was not separated.

8.     And because Lot was not separated from all of the wickedness in Sodom and Gomorrah, he did not speak out against all of their filthy wickedness.

9.     Preachers today will not deal plainly with sin because (like Lot) they are compromised.   How can they boldly attack rock music when they themselves listen to rock music?  And when they even have it in their churches?

10. Or when they are afraid of losing members?

11. How can they preach against Hollywood if they are captivated by it themselves?

12. How can a preacher speak out against immodest dress when his wife or his daughter wears a mini-skirt?

13. How can a preacher preach about soulwinning if he never goes out soulwinning?  Some preachers say, “My area of expertise is discipleship.”  May I be frank and say that is baloney?  If preachers do not win souls soon there will be nobody left to disciple!

14. In his commentary on this text, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes, “We are to preach righteousness to such a world.  We are to warn it; to tell it of the judgment that is coming because of its sin; we are to plead with men to see their danger and escape from it.  And above all, we are to give them an example of the Christian life and the Christian character, and of loyalty to God and His truth.”

15. Here is where Lot failed. And when he finally did try to warn them about the judgment of God, they did not take him seriously (Gen. 19:14-16).

16. Thanks to the mercy of God (Gen. 19:16), Lot was able to get his daughters out of Sodom, but he was not able to get the Sodom out of them (cf. Gen. 19:30-38).

17. Isn’t it interesting that in Zech. 2:9, the LORD says, “Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah.”  And that is how these nations began – with an incestuous relationship between Lot and his two daughters right after they escaped from Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:37, 38).

III.  THE STORY OF LOT IS A LESSON FOR US TODAY

1.     We often think that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a warning against the sin of homosexuality, and it certainly is (cf. II Peter 2:6; Jude 7).

2.     This is one of the reasons why the ungodly hate the Bible.  This is why they make disparaging remarks about fundamental Christians.

3.     There are other reasons as well.  The Bible clearly teaches that if they do not repent and turn to Jesus then they will go to hell.  That is not a message they want to hear.

4.     But the Bible’s strong condemnation of homosexuality is a big bone of contention in these days of moral relativism and apostasy.

5.     However, there is another important lesson here – one that is often overlooked.  Lot represents the modern, worldly Christian.  He is saved but he has little interest in the things of God.

6.     He has godly relatives (e.g., Lot was Abraham’s nephew) but he is more comfortable associating with the wicked crowd (cf. Gen. 13:10-13; 19:1).

7.     Psalm 1 says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

8.     Lot was unwilling to take a stand in Sodom and it cost him his testimony; it cost him his conscience; and it cost him his family.

CONCLUSION:

1.     While the story of Lot is a lesson for the worldly Christian, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a warning to the unsaved (II Peter 2:6). God will judge the “ungodly” (2:6, 10).

2.     God is patient and long-suffering, but it is unwise to exhaust His patience (II Peter 3:9).

Pastor James J. Barker
email:   jbarker4@optonline.net

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https://i0.wp.com/www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/news_landscape/2014/02/noah_illustration_a_l.jpg

“I was upset — of course,” the director says of Paramount testing alternate versions of the $125 million epic as he and the studio break their silence on efforts to appease a small but vocal segment of the faith-based audience: “Those people can be noisy.”

(source of image and quote: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/rough-seas-noah-darren-aronofsky-679315)

Okay, by now many Christians are aware of the “Noah” movie starring Russell Crowe. And probably all of these are aware that the movie is very controversial.

Question is, which religious groups are praising the movie? And which religious groups, on the other hand, are condemning the movie?

Below I’ve provided excerpts from several relevant articles. Besides naming names of various groups, the articles give background concerning how the movie was tested and what reactions it got from various Christian test groups.

Note – I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets]. I’m also adding links to endorsements and criticisms by various groups.

ARTICLE #1

Darren Aronofsky floats a fuller version of the Bible’s Noah tale

“… But the real trouble was on the horizon, when Paramount grew anxious that “Noah” might offend some on the religious right and started testing its own cut of the movie while Aronofsky raced to finish his. Franklin said that even with unfinished visual effects and a rough score, Aronofsky’s version tested better than Paramount’s, even though the studio’s had fewer missing pieces and was more polished.

“I think a lot of films of this size go through this. I don’t think it’s singular to us,” Franklin said. “But we were steadfast in our vision for the film. The great thing about the process is that everybody came out agreeing that our version of the movie was the best version of the movie.”

Even so, Paramount again blindsided its filmmakers [including Aronofsky] by agreeing in late February to add a disclaimer to “Noah’s” marketing materials without giving Aronofsky a heads-up.

The move came after several Christian groups [what groups?], including the National Religious Broadcasters, objected to how Aronofsky was interpreting scripture.

On the set: movies and TV

Jerry Johnson, the president and chief executive officer of the NRB, wrote in two blog posts after seeing the film that he found “some” parts of the film to be “commendable,” but his praise was tepid. He was far more vigorous in attacking “Noah,” complaining that a scene about evolution “will be a concern for many” who are creationists, that “secondary biblical details are blurred” and that Aronofsky’s Noah is so dark in some places “that you do not want to like him.”

Several other religious leaders and interested parties have been far kinder to the film, including representatives from the American Bible Society, Catholic Voices USA, the Christian Film and Television Commission and the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

Designed to appease people like Johnson and prepare moviegoers for some of Aronofsky’s inventions, Paramount’s disclaimer notes that the film was “inspired by the story of Noah” and that “artistic license has been taken.”

Aronofsky, who is both an atheist and a biblical scholar, knows that no matter how thoroughly he researched his film and for all of his attention to biblical detail — if you look closely there are seven pairs of some “clean animals,” as Genesis has it, in addition to the single pairs of other creatures — some will nevertheless find fault… [ This would be funny if not so tragic – the movie is the very antithesis of biblical accuracy.]

ARTICLE #2

Kim Masters, Rough Seas on ‘Noah’: Darren Aronofsky Opens Up on the Biblical Battle to Woo Christians (and Everyone Else)(The Hollywood Reporter, 2/12/2014)

… The studio is aware that a vocal segment of Christian viewers might reject the film over accuracy. Still, Moore says, “Our anticipation is that the vast majority of the Christian community will embrace it.”

The studio and its faith-based consultant, Grace Hill Media, have reached out to a number of key figures, with some success. Special trailers were screened to positive reactions at U.S. Christian conferences, including Catalyst, the Global Leadership Conference and Women of Faith: Believe God Can Do Anything. In January, Pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston of Hillsong, a Pentecostal megachurch based in Australia and with outposts around the world, were invited to a screening on the studio lot. Ben Field, the church’s head of film and television, who was there, says the pastors will support the movie. “If you’re expecting it to be word for word from the Bible, you’re in for a shock,” he says. “There can be an opportunity for Christians to take offense. [But] we were pretty excited that a studio like Paramount would invest in a Bible-themed movie.” On Feb. 4, Pastor Brian, at the church’s Heart and Soul night in Sydney, spoke before a few thousand congregants and joked, “You’ll enjoy the film — if you’re not too religious.”

 Also, Focus on the Family gave a mixed review of  “Noah”, with more favorable comments than I am comfortable with.

 

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Plain and simple, I like lists. Lists of cults, lists of false teachings, even lists of lists. So I was intrigued to come across a “list” article reposted here by our friends Amy and Mike on the Stand Up for the Truth website. In this article, a diehard postmodern lists and discusses “6 things [that he thinks] Christians should just stop saying”. Be forewarned – his list is extremely liberal/ Emergent and anti-Christian. This, my friend, is a look inside the minds of today’s postmoderns – sick.

Amazingly, this is the garbage many evangelical churches and colleges today are entertaining, in clinging eagerly to the teachings of Emergents Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, and a myriad of other heretics. (Some of these postmodern/Emergent leaders hold to just a few of the six anti-Christian views below; most hold to all six anti-Christian views.)

Now on to the article. I am emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets].

Six ways Progressive theology is destroying Christianity

Jesus is So Cool

[Introductory comments by Stand Up for the Truth]:

First they asked you to think outside the box of Truth; now they’re asking you to stop speaking Truth altogether.  The Progressive wing of the Church has been able to grow and thrive, thanks in part to the re-surging Emergent movement that has long been taking the doctrines of Christianity apart. Here’s how contributor to the extreme leftist publication Huffington Post (a site from which I share frequently about the activities of the Christian Left), is trying to re-shape the Bride of Christ into the harlot of Babylon.  How influential is this guy? Steve is celebrated as the “Voice of the SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious),” as well as author, speaker, thought leader and spiritual teacher.  His latest article is getting thunderous applause. Gird your loins:

6 Things Christians Should Just Stop Saying

It is time. No, it is past time. Christians must stop saying the following things.

1. The Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God. It isn’t inerrant and not likely even in the “original manuscripts.” But then, I cannot say that with absolute certainty, anymore than anyone else can either. Why? Because no such “original” manuscripts even exists. That’s like saying, “We believe there are aliens on other planets!” Good for you. Now, prove it. As we have it, no matter what translation you favor, the Bible is replete with errors. To pretend otherwise is your right. To say otherwise is a lie. You are entitled to your opinions, your assumptions, even your beliefs. What you are not entitled to is a misrepresentation of the facts. A corollary to this that Christians should stop saying is this:

2. We just believe the Bible. That, too, is false. What you really believe is your interpretation of the Bible. And the last I checked, the history of the Christian church is the history of disagreement over “interpretation.” How else do you explain the scores of denominations within Christianity alone? It would be patently more honest of Christians to say, “The following represents our understanding and interpretation of the Scriptures, but we are also aware there are many equally sincere Christians who interpret the Scriptures differently from us.” A third thing Christians should stop saying:

3. Jesus is the only way to heaven. What you are really saying is, “The way we interpret John 14:6 is that Jesus was clearly drawing a line in the sand and telling his hearers and the world: ‘If you do not believe in Me, you won’t go to the Father when you die.’” For this, I refer back to No. 2 above: what you and your group of believers really mean to say is, “It is our interpretation of John 14:6 that Jesus is saying that He is the only way to heaven.” There are scores of Christians, however, and I am one of them, who do not interpret Jesus’ words in John 14 the same way. Just because I do not makes me no less Christian than you are. So stop drawing lines in the sand, please, between equally sincere followers of Jesus. When I read the 14th chapter of John, I see a context that yields an alternative reading of the text. Instead of Jesus starting some new religion here and saying, “OK, fellas, I’m going to go away soon” — referring to his death — “but, before I go, you should know that where I’m going you, and others who believe just like you, will one day be, too — that is, of course, if they believe like you believe that I am the only way to heaven. That is to say, if the people around you and who come after you don’t believe that I am the only way to heaven, then, of course, they’ll have to go to hell. Is all that clear?” I offer an alternative interpretation: When Jesus spoke to them about leaving them, they were understandably shaken. How could they not be? After all, they had left everything to follow him. Now, just a year, or two, or three years later, Jesus is saying he’s getting ready to leave them? But, of course, they’re upset. So Thomas, speaking on behalf of the others, asks, “But where are you going and why can’t we go with you? Furthermore, how will we know the way?” Jesus responds in tender, reassuring ways. Sensing the fragility of their faith, seeing the anxiety on their faces, he reassures them that, in God’s house are many rooms, “mansions” or places. Yes, He’s going away but where He’s going they, too, will go. Just as He has led them this far, He will lead them further still (and what follows in the latter part of John 14 is the beautiful reassurance of the on-going presence of God in the Holy Spirit). So, for me personally, and many other Christians, too, Jesus is no more pointing to himself as the “one-and-only-way” to God than Thomas is expressing in his question concern for Hindus, Muslims or Buddhists and whether they’ll go to heaven? I can assure you that Thomas, and the others, were only concerned about themselves. And yet, even at that point, Jesus is tender in His care of them and seeks to reassure them that, just as He and the Father were one, and just as they had trusted the things He had been saying to them during his time with them, so they could trust him and what he was saying at this time, too. Yes, he was leaving them. But no, they would not be left alone. Where he was, they would be. He had shown them the way to the Father. But, even after He’s gone from them, they will know the way then, too. The Comforter would guide them. And so, the Church is here today. But not because Christians declare, “There is no way to go to heaven if you don’t believe in Jesus.” The Church is here today because when people do trust the things Jesus said about Himself, about His relationship to the Father…when people believe and so live the teachings of Jesus they, too, are changed — they, too, become “new creations in Christ,” as Saint Paul put it (2 Corinthians 5:17). Now, I took longer with this one thing Christians need to stop saying because many Christians seem stuck here, thinking that there’s only one way to interpret Jesus’ words about being the way. It is my hope these Christians will know there are equally sincere Christians like myself and others who do not believe Jesus was drawing a line in the sand between him and some new religion he was creating and all the other religions of the world. Again, it’s your right to “believe” or, more accurately, interpret Scripture as you wish. You do not, however, have permission to arrogantly assume your way of interpreting the words of Jesus are the only way to understand His words. Last I checked, no one’s interpretation of anything is infallible. Not yours. Not mine. A fourth thing Christians need to stop saying:

4. The rapture of Jesus is imminent. Again, if you want to believe in some secret rapture of Christians from the earth just before the Tribulation, if you want to believe in and carry around in your hip pocket detailed charts and graphs of how its all going to happen, then so be it. But do the rest of us a favor and stop saying so in public. So far, your record of correctly predicting the future earns a flunking grade. And I and scores of other Christians are frankly tired of apologizing for your arrogant — and so far, absolutely wrong — predictions as to when it’ll happen. My recommendation? Burn up your charts and go live like Christ. Quit masking your real fears by calling them faith. It isn’t faith that leads you to sell all you have, give the proceeds to some wacko, and go camp out on Mount Horeb as you await the rapture. It’s stupidity instead. It’s embarrassing, too. It makes thoughtful Christians have to apologize to the world and explain that we’re not all off-our-rockers, at least, not yet, anyway. So, please, please. If you want to believe in the charts that Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye and other “get-rich-off-the-stupidity-of-Christians” have duped scores into believing, then have at it. Just stay out of the news please! Go quietly to your campsites and do your waiting.:

5. Homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle and it is a sin against God. This one issue, my friend, is on the outs. If you don’t know that, you are more blind than the Republicans were in the last election. They misinterpreted the political environment and so completely blew it when it came to getting their candidate elected. And you, my friend, are misinterpreting the moral, spiritual and religious environment — and the changes that are coming. My son said it well the other day. We were discussing homosexuality and same-sex marriage and he observed, “Dad, it’s your generation that’s hung up on these issues. Once you guys get out of the way and the younger generation moves into the decision-making arena, these issues will disappear. The day will come when, just as slavery is unthinkable in our consciousness today, it will be equally unthinkable to deny anyone the right to be who they are or the right to same-sex marriage.” You can still revere the Bible, my friend, but move beyond the prejudice of Paul or anyone else. You don’t need to make Saint Paul infallible to treat the Bible as important. Finally, please, please Christians stop insisting that…

6. The earth is less than 10,000 years old. If you want to believe that Genesis is a scientific description of the origins of the universe, then have at it. Just stop insisting that those myths be taught in our public schools. You do no service to the Bible nor to the morality of this country by demanding school administrators include textbooks that teach that nonsense or by demanding courts hang the Ten Commandments on chamber walls or classroom walls. If this democracy is going to survive, get over your silly, misinformed notions that our forefathers were all Bible-believing, Bible thumping, Genesis-affirming Christians who came to this country to establish your kind of Christian nation and then expect everyone else to conform to your misguided assumptions. Whew! I feel better. Thanks for letting me get a few things off my chest. Now, there is one thing I think all Christians, including me, should remember — no, should practice (and we should practice this between ourselves first, too) — and that is the one simple thing Jesus once said would be the one-and-only thing the world would know us by… Not our beliefs. Not our doctrines. Not our denomination’s distinctions. Not even our declarations. Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love” (John 13:35). When we love, what more needs to be said?

[Note – the reposting of the above article here on the Stand Up for the Truth website is followed by a number of insightful reader comments.]

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