Independent Contractor Christians

“…but they will give an account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (1 Peter 4:5 ESV)

With an attitude of entitlement sweeping the nation, it seems like encounters of the unpleasant kind are more frequent. No sooner had our son John related his experience with a stranger’s ugly display of anger than I had something similar happen.

Long story short, the other morning the crew arrived early to do a full day’s work on our property. My smile quickly faded as the boss uttered his first words, “I don’t want any aggravation.” (Huh? Did I hear right?) Sounding confrontational, he continued, “I was up ’til 11:30 and I’m not in the mood for aggravation.” (I was stunned.)

Then more verbal blasts of ice water before he got what he wanted; a response. The entire conversation took thirty seconds before the boss signaled for his crew to move on to the next job.

The man referred to himself as a professional. He showed who was in control. He left because he could. It is wonderful when things like that occur after spending time with the Lord. Have you ever had something similar happen?

I met the next day for breakfast with my mentor, the coach. When I described the weird scene of the customer (me) being upbraided before a big job, coach said, “He is an independent contractor. That’s what they do.” What a profound insight! If an employee would have pulled that stunt, he might have been fired–or maybe not. It’s rare for company representatives to purposely antagonize customers.

Later, I gained some added perspective from a friend in the same business. “This is probably what was going on,” my friend said. “He had second thoughts. He realized he bid too low, then when he looked at all the work, knowing he might lose big on this job, he needed a way out. You had to release him from the agreement. Then he could be free to make easier money elsewhere.”

It was a theatric performance. Was he really angry? Was he aggravated or just acting like it?

Anger as a manipulation: How many times have we seen that? The husband wants his independence, so who hears the tirades and receives the brunt of his insults? The mother of his children, the wife he vowed to love, honor and cherish; she is the target. It is because she stands between him and his idea of greener pastures. The break-up must be all her fault. Women may do the same thing.

At church, a member grows increasingly dissatisfied. He is itching to check out the new fellowship in town. He cannot just go quietly. There has to be someone to blame. He wants his independence so he initiates an incident with a key figure. An argument ensues that causes heads to turn.

“What made him go off? Why the grandstand performance over something that seemed petty?” The staged conflict was to justify doing what he had already made up his mind to do.

Before breaking through the German lines at Bastogne, World War II general George S. Patton launched into a loud rant against his headquarters staff. Afterwards, his aide-de-camp approached him. “Sir, the men don’t know if you’re serious or acting.” Patton replied, “Good. They don’t need to know.”

Was it an act? He was in command, answerable to no one but himself, so it didn’t matter. The ends justify the means.

Next post, we will look again at the Independent Contractor Christian. We will see another way the “I’m the boss,” attitude reveals itself and why it provokes God’s genuine anger.

Pop Quiz

Students, are you ready for today’s Pop Quiz in our School for Prophets? Let’s see how well prepared you are and how well you know your Bible.

Okay, here’s the question: “According to God’s Word, who will appear first to receive the adoration, praise and worship of untold millions? Will it be (A) the Antichrist or is it (B) The Christ, the Son of God?” Present two relevant Scripture passages that support your answer.

(This is not a trick question. God’s Word plainly states that in the last days the Antichrist will be revealed and Jesus will return, so who makes their presence known first? Considering the question’s significance, shouldn’t this be covered in “Basic Bible 101”? Still thinking?)

Write down your answer. The odds are 50-50. Is it (A), the Antichrist or (B) Jesus Christ? After we find out who arrives first, we’ll discuss the implications of a wrong answer.

Time’s up.

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Look at 2 Thessalonians 2:1

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come, until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (2:1-3 NIV) 

Upon close examination, it is clear the first verse offers indisputable proof the Lord’s coming and the rapture occur at the same time.

Next we read that there were deceivers and false prophets in Paul’s day just as there are in our day and the end times (cf. 2 Peter 2:1).

Finally, we see from the context, the man of lawlessness, the man doomed to destruction is referring to the Antichrist.

So, the short answer to our pop quiz is? Any reasonable person would agree it’s (A), the Antichrist. His evilness comes before Jesus’ appearance (Matthew 24:30-31).

From the passage we conclude that two events must precede Jesus’ return. According to Scripture, the rebellion occurs (also known as the apostasy or falling away) and, also happening simultaneously, we have the appearance of the Antichrist. They are pictured in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 and with the opening of the first seal in Revelation 6:1. Years prior to the Second Coming, the man of lawlessness, an impersonator of Jesus, will be greeted by worshipers from all nations (Revelation 13:7).

Want more evidence? Read Daniel 7:24-27, Matthew 24:15-31 also Revelation 13:5-10 and 13:16- 14:1. Perhaps you cited these Scriptures as proof. If so, you did well.

If you answered Jesus before the Antichrist, you have been set up. Which brings us to the implications of believing the lie that the Antichrist follows Christ: Those expecting another order of events will be deceived by false prophets, so there will be a great falling away. As prophesied, brother will betray brother to death and a son his father (cf. Matthew 24:9-11). False christs performing miraculous signs and wonders will easily fool those expecting Jesus, not the Antichrist. Faced with persecution for refusing to worship the deceiver who claims to be God, many will deny Jesus choosing instead to save their lives. All of the Antichrist’s worshipers will earn the Lord’s eternal condemnation (Revelation 13:8). Those are a few of the consequences for being wrong or even unsure about the most basic salvation question in the last days.

Study Bible prophecy. We’ll have another pop quiz later. 

Timing is Everything

We’ve heard the expressions, “They were in the wrong place at the wrong time,” or “right place at the right time.” Also, often used is “Now is not the right time.” The fact is “Timing is everything.”

God provided a New Testament Greek word, “kairos,” to express the Lord’s perfect time. It is for us to recognize the kairos moment and then participate.

I will address a point of controversy in an upcoming post, but for now, be aware there has been sharp disagreement among Christians on the timing of “the rapture” (the sudden “taking up” of the saints). Such disharmony ought not to be. Those who take the Bible literally–as I and many do–understand what is described in what’s called “the classical rapture passage,” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, as a still future or prophetic event. But when will it occur? When will be it be on the time spectrum. God’s sovereignty requires the necessity for kairos time. In other words, what we call the day of the rapture will be highly anticipated by God’s saints who understand the Scriptures. There will be no mystery for God’s redeemed people.

Our Creator operates on a “fullness of time” basis (Galatians 4:4). He placed lights in the heavens so we “know” His signs (Genesis 1:14). He also reveals His plans through his servants, the prophets (Amos 3:7, Isaiah 42:9, etc.)

God is a God of order, of perfect timing, and not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). He wants His people to comprehend that beyond a doubt He is their Savior. It is then up to us to prepare to face terrible times (2 Timothy 3:1, Luke 21:23) ahead of Jesus’ Glorious Return to rescue the saints.

Perhaps you are hearing this for the first time. It may be difficult to accept that times and seasons for major redemptive events are for his people to know. Don’t misunderstand, for many the suddenness of events will be a surprise, like a thief in the night. Those who heed God’s prophets, however, will not be in the dark. They are children of the light (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

Simeon and Anna were anticipators. They waited with eager expectation for the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:38). We meet them in the temple. Where else would they look? (Malachi 3:1)

Why was Simeon, a righteous and devout man, moved to enter the temple and cast his eyes upon the Christ-child, the one he called the consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25)? He was controlled by the Spirit. Simeon saw Jesus with his parents. He took the baby in his arms then praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised…” (2:29)

Simeon and Anna understood that “timing is everything.” For knowing the promised time they were rewarded, as all saints will be. It is never a guess. Christ’s return will be met with confident anticipation by a great multitude of chosen people, all of whom followed God’s prophets.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the suffering of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. 

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled, set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:10-13 NIV)

Simply Stated or K.I.S.S.

I see that Friday, July 6th, was “National Kissing Day.” Isn’t that sweet? So, in honor of the day, I share what “kiss” means to me.

In my ministry’s early years, wife Leslie would remind me of K.I.S.S., an acronym for “Keep It Simple Stupid” or “Keep it Simply Stated.” If she puckered her lips in church, it meant one thing: I needed to make it simpler or lose my audience.

In An Essay on Criticism, the English writer Alexander Pope (1688-1744) penned these words “A little learning is a dang’rous thing.” I have taken this as a reminder how a teacher can do harm if they play fast and loose with the facts. “Fools” is the word the Bible uses to describe the arrogant who lack knowledge.

Claiming to be wise they became fools. (Romans 1:22 ESV)

Regarding our blog’s focus on prophecy, Scripture warns not to speak on holy things unless we have our facts straight.

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness… So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! (James 3:1, 5)

Consider the consequences if we know little about operating a chain saw, combining chemicals or handling explosives yet instruct others. Perhaps teaching prophecy without knowledge should be at the top of the “bad consequences” list. Wouldn’t it be better to lose an eye or an arm, than to speak in error on God’s behalf? (Confession time: On occasions that is what I did. Now I make every effort to speak the truth in love.)

On the other hand, woe is me if I’ve received insights into things to come but did not share it. Near the end of Revelation, the Glorified Christ gave this solemn warning:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Rev. 22:18-19 NIV)

Knowing the above: I’d rather take a short course on milking venom from vipers and go snake hunting than speak presumptuously about Bible prophecy. Alexander Pope was correct; a little learning is “dang’rous.” Given a delicious spoonful of knowledge, we may convince ourselves we are wise or believe our instructor is wise, yet be wrong on both counts. With little understanding we have insufficient grounds for confidence or recognize how much remains unknown.

Men complicate things by jabbering on about subjects of which their knowledge is limited. God, however, specializes in making wise the simple. (See Proverbs 1:1-7, 2 Timothy 3:15)

Instead of continually using teachers or their books as our source, open the Bible. Ask the Spirit for instruction. It is in understanding God’s Word through the Spirit that we become wise. No substitute will do. The Scriptures alone are able to make us wise unto salvation.

I recommend God’s Word using the K.I.S.S. method. Follow all five of these rules:

  1. Accept Scripture in its most normal, natural and customary sense. (If the plain sense makes sense, then you have the right sense.)
  2. Compare Scripture with Scripture
  3. Always study Scripture in context
  4. Before truth can be realized, all seeming Scriptural contradictions must be harmonized.
  5. Look for near/far prophetic applications in Scripture.(Borrowed from Robert Van Kampen’s, The Sign, page 5.)

When God’s prophetic Word becomes like water gushing forth from within, then we are ready to K.I.S.S. For in teaching by the Book, we fulfill our disciple’s role of teacher (cf. Matthew 28:20):

…entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2b)

This is our challenge. Pursue understanding from God. State it simply. Then forever we will be among the wise.

Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. (Daniel 12:10 NIV)

Another date. Oh, no!

As regular readers may know, I have been a decades-long supporter of a “Pre-Wrath Rapture” view of the end times and, therefore, a critic of the “Jesus can come at any moment” doctrine known as Pre-Tribulation Rapturism (PTR). Readers may detect that I no longer consider the imminent return of Christ position as benign, but as a departure from prophetic truth with the potential of disastrous consequences.

For students of Scripture eager for understanding and a fair presentation of what the Bible says, I heartily recommend “Lifesaver: Rescuing God’s People from the PTR Ship.”  With twenty-five torpedoes aimed at the PTR’s bow, the book sinks any notion that this teaching is accurate or Biblical.

Regarding Christ’s return and the rapture, the plague of false alarms over the last 175 years is not connected to a denomination or group, but to a misguided proposition that Jesus can return at any moment promoted as orthodoxy. PTR teachers bear some responsibility for the crop of scoffers who scoff at the Lord’s return (cf. 2nd Peter 3:3).

“Any moment” prophets were trumpeting fake news long ago and are still doing so today. Check out these examples: This past month it was reported in a British paper that experts predicted the rapture and the end-of-the-world. Well, their Jesus’ return prediction came and went. Didn’t we already survive a rapture prophecy last April?

These false prophecies produce notoriety for the so-called prophets and confusion for those who believed them. All subscribe to an Imminent or Any-Moment Coming of Christ. The keystone of their PTR belief-system means a wait-and-see approach is necessary to see if the sensational prediction is true. It’s not until the morning after that the disappointed shake their heads.

In Matthew 24:25, Jesus warned readers ahead of time, yet PTR followers reject a serious study of his words. If they applied the rules for interpretation to this portion of Scripture, the PTR foundation would be left in ruins. Unless their teachers can convince the naïve that Jesus’ teaching on his coming and the sign of the end of the age was not for his disciples, their house of cards will collapse.

Take for example how PTR alters Jesus’ meaning for many in Matthew 24:

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name claiming ‘I am the Christ’ and deceive many.” (Matthew 24:4-5 NIV) 

Classically, PTR teachers refer to the first many as the mentally ill who claim they are Jesus–and they cite some statistics that may or may not be manufactured. Are the deranged who manifest delusions of grandeur a threat to deceive Jesus’ disciples? I think not. Rather, was the Lord alerting us to the many wolves in sheep’s clothing who declare Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God; yet, in essence, call the Lord a liar when it comes to prophecy they do not like (Matthew 16:21-23). The unsuspecting followers who fall for the wolves’ lies will be many.

Remember PTR teachers claim no more signs are necessary before the rapture takes believers away, yet Jesus promised that many false prophets, false Christs and accompanying miracles are a sign (24:4-5, 11 and 23-24). False prophets will announce the imminent return of Jesus, then worship the beast when he arrives on cue. Friends, the PTR position is setting up millions for a bitter disappointment. They will learn too late it wasn’t Jesus they worshiped.

Read 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12 and see if we are not warned of the deception. Study Jeremiah 5:12. Know what will become of the deceivers and the deceived.

“They have lied about the LORD; they said, ‘He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine.’ The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.” (5:12-13)