Carried Away-Pt. 2

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached to the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14 NIV)

Making disciples of all nations seems like a daunting task—and it is! Yet is anything too hard for the Lord? Would Jesus tell his followers to do the impossible? The prophecy above indicates the job will be completed, but “How?”

If world evangelism is left up to people with the most spiritual and physical resources, will it be accomplished? America has proven its many churches and its prosperity do not mean the Gospel spreads at home or abroad. In the West, Christianity is in decline while Islam’s influence rapidly increases.

Jesus’ order to “Go into all the world” means boots on the ground.

Some believe the solution lies in satellites beaming Christian TV and internet. It may be ours, but it isn’t God’s answer. Jesus’ order to “Make disciples” means their must be boots on the ground. Like bombs dropped from airplanes, bombs cannot replace infantry. Neither do electronic signals substitute for beautiful feet on the mountains (Romans 10:14-15)! “Go” means “Get off your padded pews and go!”

The present trickle of Christian volunteers cannot meet the battle’s demands. As I see it, what must happen is conscription (sp. the means rulers use to enlist fresh recruits). When kings go to war, they don’t wait for enough volunteers; they go in search of conscripts (i.e. fighting-aged men who, not by choice, trade in work clothes for combat fatigues.)

All nations will hear, then they will worship the Lord. How will they believe, lest the Gospel is proclaimed to them? Believers will go out in shackles and in tears. They will return rejoicing, bringing along a great harvest of souls.

Next, I will describe a likely scenario in which the Great Commission will be fulfilled.

Walls that Divide Pt. 3

The most damaging of the walls Christians have built are the mental and physical ones that separate Christian from Christian. A group of believers sees another group as the enemy so they fight hard prevent an exchange of ideas or dialogues because they believe differently. We have prominent groups that produce all their own teaching materials, educate their own leadership in their own specific seminaries or Bible schools and restrict Christian books to the precious few that earn the imprimatur of the authorities.

Walls multiply once we start using them. A wall springs up for all facets of life. Instead of developing critical thinking skills and apologetic abilities, Christians become cult-like finding their security in a leader who thinks for them.

Venturing out becomes rare. Certain topics are not discussed, because–God forbid–an outside idea might be entertained. Our group status would be in peril, if we uttered a thought contrary to the collective dogma.

Walls make those behind them timid. Outside there are dangers, conflicts and arguments about views that are strange to those inside. Inside everyone nods in agreement.

Per chance on the outside of the walls there is a discussion on politics, for example. Suppose it turns into an argument that challenges our set of assumptions. Our conversation becomes emotional and we become defensive because our presuppositions are under attack. The vulnerable one is the person who has mental walls. They are not accustomed to battling in the realm of ideas. So the cultist makes a mental note not to engage again in meaningful conversation with that person and to rush back to our four-walled citadel as soon as we are able. And let the rest of the world goes to hell.

All dividing walls are soon going to be obliterated. All mind control will be internal, not external. No more asking if it is okay to listen to this talk show or if it is acceptable to watch this cable news outlet or should one read this author or that commentator. Christians will employ the mind of Christ. They will filter everything through Scripture and listen intently for truth as well as the lie. That includes those we acknowledge as spiritual leaders.

If it isn’t too late, it is time to take the church of Jesus Christ out from behind the walls. Release the caged lion and let the Gospel do what it does best, penetrate the defenses the devil has built. It past time for believers to spread their wings and discover they can fly.

You Won the Argument Pt. 2

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. (2 Timothy 3:6-7 NIV)

Decades ago, I began purchasing a synthetic oil for our only vehicle. When I moved to another location, I found another garage and maintained the practice with every oil change. For reasons that had to do with my financial situation, I changed back to a cheaper, regular “non-synthetic” oil; that’s when I ran into problems. When my engine developed a clang and bang, I went back to the oil dealer looking for his help. After some deliberation he said that I needed a new engine. When he told me how much a replacement would cost, I almost cried. It was an outrageous amount.

I was depressed. The Lord snapped me out of it by reminding me no one in my family was dead, or even sick. We were healthy. We had a roof over our head. We’d survive.

After mentioning my engine noise to a mechanically-inclined friend, he said he thought he could fix it. When I got it back, his bill was around $20. There was no clang or bang. Instead of pulling my engine for a new one, he changed the oil again. The expert at the garage, had tried to talk me into something I did not need. He had me believing a lie. He took advantage of my ignorance and trust.

In Part 1, I attempted to highlight a group of experts. They are well-educated, gifted talkers and skilled writers. They dominate political and, in some cases, spiritual discussions. I want to break down some of their strategy for winning arguments and persuading less-knowledgeable and trusting souls.

Several steps are involved: First, frame the argument. Whoever can frame the argument to suit them, has the best chance of winning.

Next, talk fast and make several assertions in rapid-fire fashion so that the opponent cannot address them separately.

Next, stress the first assertion is accepted by scholars and every Bible-believing Christian who ever lived. You would have to be a heretic to deny what they are going to say. It comes out like this: “Of course, we know that…” and it goes from there. Then the next point is built on the foundational statement, but is so quickly delivered you cannot interrupt and say, “Wait a minute! Who accepts that premise? I certainly don’t!”

Illogical- So What? Part 1

Don’thave anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.  (2 Timothy 2:23 NIV)

So it goes in America:

“The Russians were involved in the 2016 Presidential election to help Trump get elected.”

“How? There is no evidence that anyone tampered with voting machines or the vote count. How did they effect the vote?”

“Well look at the conversations between Trump’s associates and Russian officials. It all points to collusion. There needs to be an investigation.”

“What would investigators be looking for? There’s no evidence of wrong-doing.”

“I don’t know but there has to be something there between Trump and Putin. We’ve got to get to the bottom of it. There’s plenty of smoke, and where there’s smoke there’s fire.”

“How? There is no evidence that anyone tampered with voting machines or the vote count. How did they effect the vote?”

“Well look at the conversations between Trump’s associates and Russian officials. It all points to collusion. There needs to be an investigation.”

“What would investigators be looking for? There’s no evidence of wrong-doing.”

“I don’t know but there has to be something there between Trump and Putin. We’ve got to get to the bottom of it. There’s plenty of smoke, and where there’s smoke there’s fire.”

Most in the U.S. are justifiably tired of hearing about the Russians and the election. The argument continues despite its baseless premise. If politicians had to stay within the bounds of logic, we would have civil discussions. But, no, we have legislators who prefer to engage in quarrels.

In my opinion, this is due to the legal system’s influence in government. Law students learn the art of argumentation. When they become lawyers they can win cases because of their superior debating skill. Clever sounding arguments often win, even over truth and justice. God help us!

Tragically, the art of argumentation has infected our Christian fellowships. One of the first things we should teach new converts is Logic. If the new Christian knows Logic, then they can hear a fallacious but clever argument headed their way. After the red flag goes up on a few fallacious arguments (“ad hoc ergo prompter hoc,” “the straw man,” “the red herring,” etc.), the new convert could excuse themselves, that is unless they want to test their ability to argue.

Recently, I became locked into a conversation that, unfortunately, became a quarrel. My head was spinning. My emotions got the best of me. I was frustrated and wanted to walk away. The other person had an answer for everything. My points ran into a wall. After more than a half hour, I blurted out “Your argument is foolish,” then it really turned into a mess. (Thank God I didn’t say “foolish and stupid” like 2 Timothy 2:23.)

I was entangled in a logical fallacy called a “circular argument”—the very thing the Apostle said to avoid. On the ground, I drew a circle with my finger. I said “This is how our discussion is going.” Had Paul’s warning been fresh in my mind, I would have bowed out as soon as the circular reasoning came into play. (“A is true and so B is true because A is true.”) Believing I could ride it out and reason successfully, I had to go around and around and around ad nauseum.

Next time, Part 2, The illogical invades the Christian church.

Introducing “The Priests of God”

It is with great joy that we at The Prophets of God blog announce “The Priests of God: Unveiling the Order of Melchizedek,” the next installment in THE PROPHETS, PRIESTS AND KINGS SERIES. God willing, we expect a release on or before July 26th. Below is part one of a question and answer with writer, pastor and teacher, John Finkbeiner.

Q- First off, I congratulate you. I do not recall any books on this subject. Are you aware of any? How did you come up with the idea for The Priests of God?

A- I’m reluctant to accept congratulations after all the patience and grace God has shown me. This book was written because God wanted it to be, not because of anything I’ve done that deserves congratulations. For some reason, the Lord chose me and never gave up on me. Eventually, we produced a book I am proud to be a part of, but it took awhile.

No, I don’t know of anything like it. There may be, but I never research the topic. My approach is to dig into the Bible and pick up other material as I come across it. I heard recently the Mormons have had an interest in Melchizedek. Not sure what they came up with, but it does not really matter. My writing is on Biblical-rich topics. I don’t have any reason to consult commentaries or extra-Biblical materials.

As to the last part of your question, the idea for The Priests of God was born of necessity. The idea for the series Prophets, Priests and Kings, came to me first. I noticed that theme in Scripture as a whole and felt it was begging to be explored. It was too big a subject to treat as a whole so I had to examine each part. The subject of God’s priesthood is the one I knew least about, but it could prove to be the most revolutionary.

Q- How long did it take you to write?

A- I like the answer “All my life.” I heard that from a writer once and believe it’s true for me. It took me to a ripe old age before I published anything. The People of God came out in 2010, then it was two more in three years. Here we are, more than four years after Lifesaver. There were long months of inactivity, but my ideas were marinating and my Scripture reading was kindling a curiosity for more knowledge. Thinking seriously about the topic started ten years ago. There were times I wasn’t sure whether I was going to write this book, but that’s all history now. The Priests of God is in book form and I could not be happier.

An Open Letter to My Brother

Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his  people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews. (Esther 10:3 NIV)

Re: Your stated that your only previous experience with a Protestant Church were my services in the Chapel. If you don’t know, I must tell you: My approach to services and worship were far from the ordinary Protestant services. In fact, a contributing factor to my exit one year ago, was this: I came to the conclusion that even my extreme model for Sunday worship was of little value. Over the many years I had morphed from a seminary-trained, robe-wearing, baby-baptizing, smiling main-line denominational, Sunday bulletin-following, “call-me-reverend pastor, into someone who rejects that model. I couldn’t continue producing a weekly dog-and-pony show, that competed with such things as sleeping in or watching Joel Osteen. Believing the weekly church service, as we know it, to be pagan in its origins, I became cynical. I doubted that what I was doing was worth the energy I put into it. Moreover, I felt like I was helping perpetuate a myth, that church-going was fulfilling our once-a-week duty for God.

Somewhere along the line, I realized the real church met on Sat. a.m., sat in a circle, openly discussed matters of faith and life, and went out from the gathering place committed to applying what was shared. Genuine saints were the Sat. a.m. regulars who came to learn, share and grow. I became torn between the façade of calling Sun. a.m. services church or worship, or Sat. “the Sabbath” as the day the church met to be edified.

I accepted one invitation to preach since I left. It left me cold. God has closed the door for me to put on the jacket and tie, and follow the agenda in the bulletin, while preaching the nice message. Success is having the people shake hands at the door, and with a smile say “Nice message, pastor.” (I almost feel ill when I think about the shallowness and phoniness of it all. And I helped perpetuate this fakery for over 35 years.)

Never will I forget running into a man who served as a pastoral mentor. Following a brief conversation at the movie theater, in the presence of his wife said, “It is time for the church to go underground.” He said it, but he could not make the break. He was pastoring a very large church in the area, and, as a bishop, was sought after by pastors who wanted to be where he was some day. He tried to go underground as we met monthly for a year for fellowship and support the house church movement. Beside the revolution inside me, nothing revolutionary came out of it. Churches were started, but they cannot be characterized as underground.

The world will try to squeeze you into its mold. If you acquiesce, becoming like the frog that is boiled incrementally, you will find yourself in a compromising position. God will deal with you in the way he thinks best, but I want to encourage you to be an anticipator instead. The time will come, and now is, when those who worship God, will not confine their worship to a building or place. They will worship him in spirit and in truth. For those are the worshippers the Father seeks.

God is about to judge his church or his house, those called by his name (1 Peter 4:17-19, Revelation 2-3.) It is essential for good and faithful servants to be proactive and anticipators. How can we sound the alarm of judgment if we operate from the inside? We need to be on the wall.

As we know from prophecy, many who claim to be believing Christians will fall away. Why? Because the traditional church will fail them. They cannot bring themselves to sound the alarm. They are watchmen who will refuse to blow the trumpet, and so the blood of their people will be on their hands. The time will come when you must decide: Do I want the approbation of men or the approval of God? (Romans 12:1-2)

How can we pretend any longer our nation will not soon face disgrace, that calamity will not overtake us? (Micah 2:6-7) Are we so blind we do not see “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin” on the wall? To be given the mantle of a prophet, then failing to speak God’s Word just as he gave it means that we will fall by the same sword as those who are at ease in Zion, ignorant of the warning of God’s true prophets.

Pray for your strength on the day of reckoning. Pray for me also, that I might prove faithful to my calling. Who knows, but the Lord will see fit to spare us, and give us a name like Mordecai, among his people (Esther ).

Kept in the Dark

Not everything is for everybody. Somethings should be brought to light, yet they remain hidden. The Congress’ quest for information from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), a part of the executive branch of government, has been consistently thwarted (“stone-walled”). Documents sometimes take a year or more to be handed over, and then they may be heavily redacted (i.e. important facts blacked-out for so-called security reasons.) Why the “slow-walk” or non-cooperation? Why the necessity to level contempt threats against DOJ officials? With a special counsel investigation having free reign to look into charges against the President of the United States, what are top law officials trying to hide? In contrast, the Trump administration has turned over everything that has been requested, 1.3 million documents in all to the Special Counsel. Why is Congress, the branch of government charged with oversight over the DOJ, being kept in the dark? We know the reason. The office of the attorney general is protecting some bad actors, that much is certain.

All the above is being disputed by a large number of Americans for reasons of ideology rather than lack of evidence. The same can be said for the divide among Christians over Biblical “eschatology” (i.e. the study of last things). This blog promotes a view that opens the Bible, insists on the application of the rules of interpretation as well as using credible historical and linguistic resources to let the evidence speak for itself.  However, no such transparency has been forthcoming from the other sides of Pre-Tribulational Rapturism (PTR) or Amilllennialism (Preterism). These long names may not be recognized, but the two end-time positions they describe dominate Western Christian teaching of the church. Why the need to raise the volume and talk over the other? Why do stress levels rise and tempers flare? What the personal attacks? Why the attempts at intimidation and name-calling by otherwise soft-spoken Christians? Is there something to hide other than truth?

Make no mistake, PTR and Amillennial (“No literal Millennium”) doctrines are ideologies. An ideology will protect itself at all costs, while those seeking truth desire the facts at all times. Ideologies all have something that must not come to light. Truth invites the light and exposes the darkness. Those who love the darkness hate the light (John 3:).

Called or Chosen?

the concept of “church,” we must allow the context to determine the definition. We see our Lord is not talking about bricks and mortar, but people. The church is “built” with living stones (saints) united around Peter’s foundational confession “[Jesus is] the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16).

As confirmation, the Greek ekklesia, from which we translate “church,” was selected by the firsthand witness, Matthew. Ekklesia means “those called out.” (Serving God is implied. It begs the question called out of what?) The original language refers to people who belong to God.

Lastly, according to the second half of Matthew 16:18, this peculiar people are militant, aggressive and devoted to the cause. There is nothing passive in what Jesus describes. As a disciplined force, they exert their will to defeat God’s enemy, Satan. As an army commanded by Christ (“I will build my church…”), the church expands God’s kingdom by breaking down the gates of Satan’s fortress. We can assume that captives in cruel bondage to the Dark Lord are set free as a result. (Does any of this resemble what we call church?)

Rather than seeking some false security behind walls and gates of their own, the real church is mobile, on the offense, engaged in fulfilling Christ’s mission as described in 1 John 3:

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

To illustrate, in Luke 10:1-21 Jesus commands his disciples to go out two-by-two into the towns and villages ahead of him. (He already sent the twelve out in Matthew 10, so the core group of disciples knew what to expect.)

In Luke the Lord scattered a force of seventy-two or seventy of his finest recruits across the countryside after first giving detailed instructions. Sending them out like sheep among wolves was part of the strategy. Before they march off on perhaps their first taste of conflict, they are equipped with the authority given to Jesus by the Father. In other words they are acting on the Lord’s behalf, doing what they saw from him perhaps many times.

The church returned with joy (Luke 10:17). The results were transformational. Jesus was filled with joy in the Holy Spirit. When the disciples received the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, they knew the drill. Christ’s last words in Acts 1:8, promised the same power that made demons flee and raised the dead in Matthew 10 and Luke 10. Jesus was going away, however he will return. Until he comes back he lives in his church as they destroy the works of the devil. The history in The Book of the Acts of the Apostles bears this out.

Do we now understand why this false identity assumed by the church has been allowed to stand? Do we see why many Christians refuse to be anything more than intellectual disciples, that is, know in their mind what is required yet justify their inaction? Do we grasp why this message is not shared in most pulpits but is in our Bible?

We have redefined the church so it resembles an institution (i.e. The First Baptist Church or Living Word Assembly). It ought to be something living like an organism (something living). Institutions want butts occupying padded pews. Churches are not those who send, but, Biblically-speaking, the church is those sent, the called out ones. As the Steven Curtis Chapman song suggests, the church is those who’ve abandoned it all For the Sake of the Call.

Saying “Good by, we’re out of here for good!” is the mark of a true disciple, not a sign of a disenchanted church-goer looking for another seat to occupy.

Do you remain unconvinced or unmoved? Then maybe you’ve been institutionalized. Call your faith Church-ianity not Christianity. (Being around institutions most of my working life, I have met men preferring prison to life in the free world.)

The building model of Christianity came from pagan-style worship and will soon return to paganism. Jesus asked, “Why do you call me Lord but not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

What were disciples commanded to do by Jesus? Go out in the fullness of the Holy Spirit to declare the kingdom of heaven is near or is our mission to build a multi-million dollar monument we call a church and have an annual ninety million dollar budget?

I, for one, believe it is the former. I have been part of something akin to the latter. I’m out of there for good and I’m not going back. Care to be a disciple and follow Jesus too? (Luke 9:57

Deception Surrounding Matthew 24- Part Three

A shift occurred in the monopoly on America’s news reporting twenty-five or more years ago. About that time, conservative radio shows and cable TV’s Fox News Channel were born. In the early 1990’s, books stressing an accurate interpretation of prophecy by Marvin Rosenthal (The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church) and Robert Van Kampen (The Sign) were published.  It was God’s time to lift the veil covering the saints’ eyes.

As predictable from history, because the books above were impossible to ignore, the men were viciously attacked by defenders of the status quo.

It is a violation of the rules of interpretation to use as a proof-text (i.e. pulling Scripture out of its context to support an otherwise unsupported argument) Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24:36 (“No one knows the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”), yet dismiss everything before and after. I could go on, but I hope you get the idea.

In this series, I will offer examples.  Deception #1. “Matthew 24 like the entire Gospel of Matthew does not apply to Christ’s church, or Gentile believers. It was written for the Jews present on earth after the rapture and during the Tribulation.” 

The argument usually goes along these lines: Matthew 24 was not written for born-again believers since there is no mention of “the Church” in the chapter. (Note: There are two mentions of “Church” in the Four Gospels and both are in Matthew, the first in 16, the latter in 18.) So since when is “an argument from silence” proof?

Also, they mention, “most commentators agree that Matthew was written for Jewish believers; therefore, the Church (Gentile believers) must be gone in the rapture, before the Tribulation.” Do all commentators agree or is that commentators who share the same ideology agree that Matthew was written for Jews? If this was so, then logically-speaking, unless we are Jewish why read Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 at all?” (See vss.15 and 24-25)? If we are devout Jews, since when are we going to read the New Testament Gospels? I don’t think so. This attempt to throw a cloud of doubt over Christ’s clear last day’s teaching will not go unpunished.

At length I cover this subject in Lifesaver: Saving God’s People from the PTR Ship. (Available on this site). To suggest that Matthew 24, or “the Olivet Discourse” (cf. Matthew 24:3), is for the end times’ Jew, and no one else, is an effort in deception. Since the Olivet Discourse is basically repeated in Mark 13 and Luke 21, were these Gospels also for Jews, and only for a brief time? Proponents of this argument beware: In order to perpetuate your false belief, you are taking away from the universality, eternality and veracity of the Bible.

When Jesus presented the Great Commission, was that, too, only for Jews? See how precarious a position men can place themselves by spreading lies? Since the Commission comes later in Matthew’s Gospel (28:18-20), should this text be ignored by the Church also, like the Olivet Discourse? We have heard that taking the Gospel to the world will be accomplished by on-fire Jewish evangelists during the tribulation. That’s wonderful. That means the Church does not have fret about not getting the job done. I am only following the logic of the argument. There is nothing innocent about these deceivers. They pervert the gospel.

Another deception regarding Matthew 24 and circulating through much of Christendom is just as easily

is that this prophecy has already been fulfilled in history.