Racism, Diversity, Or Identity?
Reprinted from a previous copy of The Evangelist by John Rosenstern
Mark 3:24 – “And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”
GOD DID NOT FORESTALL the political birth of the United States of America due to slavery. The scourge of slavery was predominantly opposed by American Christian missionaries acting as poseurs for abolition against slavery. Warnings pertaining to slavery resounded from our missionaries in the Middle East. In the case of Harriet Livermore, spoken from Mount Zion, she prophesied, “Great national calamities are awaiting the United States as punishment for its permissiveness toward slavery.” Nearly 20 years later, the dawn of the Civil War bore witness to the outcome of God’s warning. Abraham Lincoln accredited three books that shaped his life and thinking: the Bible, Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, and Sufferings in Africa by James Riley. Riley had been captured by Arabs after being shipwrecked off the coast of the Spanish Sahara and was driven across the desert. He was flogged, beaten, and reduced to just 90 pounds until he was ransomed by the British Consul at the port city of Mogadore. His book became a national sensation, selling 1 million copies over the next 40 years. He urged Americans to cut down “the cursed tree of slavery and to shiver in pieces the rod of oppression.” Many other well-knowns, such as the father of our educational system, Horace Mann, were outspoken opponents to slavery.
TO FORGET IS FOOLISHNESS
To forget slavery would be as foolish as trying to forget the Holocaust. It must serve as a reminder of the cruelty of man to force man to serve man. African Americans of the Civil War era did not liken slavery to the plight of American slaves in Algiers, but to ancient Jews in Egypt. One such preeminent leader, Frederick Douglas, recalled, “We meant to reach the North, and the North was Canaan.”
Many in my family, on my father’s side, were exterminated in the Holocaust. I often remind myself of the horror they must have felt when the sound of the boots from German Gestapo soldiers marched down the streets of Germany in rhythmic patterns, and then, the blunt knocking on doors. Their hearts pounded within their chests with anxiety in anticipation of being taken away from home and family. Stricken people were torn from each other and sentenced to death for simply being Jewish. We must never forget slavery and the plight of those before us who suffered its torment. It is an ever constant reminder of how each of us should look upon one another with love and respect.
A NEW IDENTITY
The result of the Gospel message is so strong that it changes the heart and life — as a result, being born again – for all who embrace Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It gives the believer a new identity. This is essential for us to understand. The fact that old things are passed away and all things become new (II Cor. 5:17) removes the believer’s past and changes his identity. Christian believers “have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:10-11). The Christian believer now can live identified to a new race. Paul would say to the church of Galatia, “For you are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus … There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26, 28).
The sullen stains of racism still brood in the hearts of many today. The idea of one race being better than another has hurt America, notwithstanding Jews and others around the world. This kind of thinking ultimately created an Adolph Hitler. The belief is that a master race exists and by the extermination of an inferior race, this will enable the new superior race to manifest(?), or, as with slavery, the inferior race is to serve the superior race. For example, Islam makes this very clear by claiming all who are not believers of Allah and his prophet are classified as dihimmi, a second class or sub-class of people. They must pay jitzia, a poll tax, and are subject to minimal rights, unlike other Muslims.
A principle has emerged that our commitment to diversity has redefined the opposition to discrimination as the appreciation, rather than the elimination, of difference when it comes to equality and recognition. We have also come to think of disagreement as a form of prejudice. If we fail as believers to approach the heartbeat of our social issues with a truly biblical approach, then we will fall prey to believing that skin color is a culture, sexual preference is a culture, religion is a culture, etc. Therefore, if we do not accept someone’s culture, we are being intolerant and even racist or bigoted. May we see each other as our Lord and Saviour sees us — saved or unsaved. Those of us who are saved must work together as one to bring the message that will bring true unity to man – at the meeting place of God and man – in Christ Jesus.
THE NEW CULTURAL WARS
Our society’s new modus vivendi (way of life) toward universal tolerance is to champion diversity. Earlier I mentioned that our commitment to diversity has redefined the opposition to discrimination as the appreciation, rather than the elimination, of difference when it comes to equality and recognition.
God visited His people with a marvelous outpouring of His Holy Spirit at the turn of the 20th century. In 1905, a young black Louisiana man, who attended a Bible school founded by Charles Parham in Houston, Texas, was used by God to usher in modern Pentecostalism. William J. Seymour, at this Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, California, rejected racial barriers in favor of unity in Christ. “The color line as was washed away by the blood,” said writer Frank Bartleman, testifying of his experience at Azusa Street. Sadly, within only a decade, the great Pentecostal Movement slowly began to splinter, and a racial divide was formed. Instead of the pulpit addressing the racial issue biblically by preaching messages of true Christian unity through faith, the division identified with culture. Instead of interracial comity (civility, courtesy), segregation took its ugly shape, and doubly worse, doctrinal separation gave validity to division and solidified the racial divide as well. Because the pulpit did not spiritually address racism, it became a social issue.
The Bible gives us a clear understanding of the function of the five-fold ministry gifts and the result that follows in Ephesians 4:11-13: “And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
TRUE BIBLE UNITY
True biblical unity has to do with our proper object of faith. God made the Cross His object of acceptance. He looks at our faith by the finished work of the Cross, His perfect expression of grace, and accepts us in the beloved (Eph. 1:6). It is there at the Cross that we’re all reconciled unto God, and the enmity is abolished – man toward God and man toward man. Christ is all and in all who are His! Glory to God! The bloodline settles it all! He is our peace.
Now that we are in Christ, we are a new creature with old things passed away (II Cor. 5:17). We are then given a ministry of reconciliation. In II Corinthians 5:18, the Bible says, “And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”
If the true church of Christ doesn’t operate and function as a New Testament church with proper unity, can we expect the world to accomplish eliminating racism? Here’s our problem: We have allowed other voices to rise up and address the outward issues; issues that are really the symptoms of the inner problem. Fortunately, Jesus Christ heals the heart and, “He delivers the poor in his affliction, and opens their ears in oppression” (Job 36:15).
Racism has greatly oppressed our country for years. It is still a festering sore. We must listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church in this hour. I believe a time of healing has begun. I believe it can also be a time of greater divide if we do not approach racism biblically and with love and patience. Jesus Christ has “ … redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Rev. 5:9). The word nation in the Greek is ethnos and means “race.” Therefore, God is color-blind to race when it comes to salvation and equality. Should we be any different?
“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” –II Corinthians 7:10
SOMETIMES, WHEN A famous person dies, we learn from the family bits of their final conversations. A son says of his father, “He had no regrets,” and the world is a little less sad and somewhat relieved to know that nothing would have been changed in the course of that life.
But to say that you lived with no regret also means that you were never sorry about anything—never mourned a loss, suffered a disappointment, or missed an opportunity. How many in the human race can honestly say that? The answer is none. Experts say all of us have things we regret from our decisions around education and career choices to romance, parenting, and finances—usually in that order.
If we allow it, regret can touch every area of our lives. And, if we allow Satan, he will point his accusatory finger toward something behind us until we find ourselves saying, “I should have.” I should have been there when my parent died. I should have had the courage to speak up when I was being abused. I should have stayed in school and applied myself more. I should have risked rejection and told that person how much I loved him. I should have been braver and unafraid of failure.
Notice all of the I’s in that list? That’s because regret is about blaming self, which affects our emotions. We feel sorry for the ways we hurt people. When it’s clear we’ve made a bad decision, we get sad. When it’s realized that the opportunity we just missed will not come our way again, there is disappointment. The Bible calls these sorrows of the world, and they work death.
The bad thing about regret is that it takes us a while to realize it’s been sown. Years pass between the time the seed of regret—the doing or not doing—and its bitter fruit blooms in the heart of the saved and the unsaved.
Every day that we live in this world, we buy and sell with decisions we make, and, in the process, our hearts are revealed.
Esau made a bad decision when he sold his birthright to Jacob for a meal. The Bible says Esau “did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright” (Gen. 25:34).
Bible commentator Matthew Henry said, “Esau ate and drank, pleased his palate, satisfied his appetite, and then carelessly rose up and went his way, without any serious thought, or any regret, about the bad bargain he had made.”
But years later, when Isaac was old and ready to bless, Esau realized the high cost of his mistake: “And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father” (Gen. 27:34).
Esau did receive a blessing, but it was common. Henry notes, “There is nothing in Esau’s blessing which points at Christ, and without that, the fatness of the earth and the plunder of the field will stand in little stead.”
Out of regret, Esau lifted up his voice and wept, but he did not repent. Let’s look at Judas. In the end, he betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ with 30 pieces of silver and a kiss. But in the beginning of the Lord’s ministry, Judas was there, one of the Twelve. He saw the miracles—all manner of sickness and disease healed, demoniacs delivered, the dead raised, and multitudes miraculously fed. Judas, however, valued none of it, demonstrated so clearly in John 12, when Mary anoints the feet of Jesus. As soon as Judas saw the expensive ointment spent on Jesus, he demanded to know why it hadn’t been sold to benefit the poor. “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein” (Jn. 12:6).
Likewise, Judas went about caring nothing for the Lord—from the anointing of His feet to the kiss of betrayal on His face.
And then, realization. When Judas saw what the religious leaders had done to Jesus, he confessed—to them—that he had sinned, and he threw down their silver on the temple floor. The Bible says Judas “repented himself,” but the Greek word for this phrase, according to Ellicott’s commentary, is “not that commonly used for ‘repentance,’ as involving a change of mind and heart, but is rather ‘regret,’ a simple change of feeling.”
After leaving the Sanhedrin, theologian John Gill points out that Judas went out of the temple, “not to God, nor to the throne of His grace, nor to his Master to ask pardon of Him, but to some secret solitary place, to cherish his grief and black despair.”
Judas sided with the sorrows of the world, and they worked death in him until he hanged himself—some say he strangled himself—but either way, Judas died violently. Luke tells us,“falling headlong, he burst asunder the midst, and all his bowels gushed out” (Acts 1:18). Out of regret, Judas confessed his sin to sinful men, but he did not repent. So what is the difference between regret and repentance?
If we gave them voice, regret would repeat itself again and again: “If only I had it to do over, I would have done it differently. I would have done it right.”
Regret, energized by guilt, is a replay of what was done, or not done, and the pain associated with that decision. As with Esau and Judas, regret may cause us to shed some bitter tears, and maybe even confess to others what we did, but that’s as far as it goes. Regret stops short of repentance.
Repentance, on the other hand, acknowledges from the heart, “I see what I have done and I am so sorry. I realize that I have no way to help myself. I need God and His forgiveness. Only God can help me.”
Repentance is to understand the root cause of our sadness, fear, or disappointment—sin. It’s a spiritual reaction to Holy Spirit conviction and revelation—a reaction that helps turn the human heart toward God and ask Him for His mercy and forgiveness.
It’s been said that few have sinned as David sinned, but fewer still have repented as he repented. David, the boy shepherd and psalmist. Slayer of the lion, the bear, and Goliath. David, the man after God’s own heart. Yet at the time when kings went to battle, David stayed behind. He sinned with Bathsheba, and when he learned that she was carrying his child, David ordered her husband Uriah to be “in the forefront of the hottest battle” ensuring his death and hiding David’s sin. But God saw, and “the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (II Sam. 11:27).
The prophet Nathan was sent by God to let David know that what he had attempted to hide, the Lord would openly and fully reveal.
Unlike regret, where only the mind and emotions are affected, repentance involves the heart—the spirit of man—which is susceptible to the conviction and revelation of the Holy Spirit.
“And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD.” My husband notes, “David had a true knowledge of God and, therefore, when charged with his sin, his first thought was not the punishment that would surely follow, but the injury done to God.”
All sins boil down to one. The displeasing thing that King David did was to despise the commandment of the Lord to do evil in His sight. David knew this, which is why he would later write Psalm 51, the truest prayer of repentance ever prayed. It begins:
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.”
Regret is behind us, but repentance is before us. “Mock penitents confess their sins and straightway forget them,” Pulpit says. “Real genuine ones find it impossible to forget.”
Out of repentance, David confessed his sin and need for God’s mercy, and he received forgiveness. And then there’s Peter, who denied even knowing the Lord. Before any of us get too judgmental of the great fisherman, we should examine our own hearts and remember that Peter loved the Lord. Peter believed Him. It was Peter who walked on the water to Jesus:
“And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus” (Matthew 14:28-29).
At the close of the Lord’s earthly ministry, in the hours between the Last Supper and the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told His disciples what was about to happen to Him and how His disciples would be scattered.
“But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all” (Mk. 14:29-31).
The Lord listened, but He knew how Peter would react that night, the same way He knew how Peter, while walking on the water, would suddenly see the wind boisterous, become afraid, and begin to sink.
Just as the Lord had said, when confronted that night, Peter denied Him three times, with oaths and cursings: “I know not the man!” Then, the painful realization: “And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly” (Mat. 26:75).
Like Judas and Esau, Peter also went out and wept bitterly. The difference with Peter was the trigger of emotion. Like David, Peter remembered the word of the Lord. He remembered some of the first words he heard Him say, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” There was the revelation he received from God about who Jesus was. Surely Peter heard the echo of his own words, “Thou art the Christ.” He remembered that day on the water, when he cried out, “Lord, save me,” and Jesus immediately stretched forth His hand, caught him, and asked, “Why did you doubt?” And the most painful memory of all, after that third denial, “the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter.”
Pulpit says Peter “rushed from that evil company into the night, a brokenhearted man, that no human eye might witness his anguish, that alone with his conscience and God he might wrestle out repentance. Tradition asserts that all his life long Peter hereafter never could hear a cock crow without falling on his knees and weeping.”
Out of repentance, Peter realized that he was helpless without Christ, and he allowed godly sorrow to work repentance to salvation. And this work takes time.
When Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James, went to the sepulcher to anoint the body of Jesus, they found the stone rolled away, and an angel who said, “Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you” (Mark 16:6-7).
Henry points out, “Peter is particularly named. Tell Peter—it will be most welcome to him, for he is in sorrow for sin. A sight of Christ will be very welcome to a true penitent, and a true penitent is very welcome to a sight of Christ.”
In the book of John, we read of the reunion:
“Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea”(Jn. 21:5-7).
Upon hearing that it was Jesus, Peter jumped without pride or hesitation. He wanted to be the first one to reach the Lord, who was waiting to restore him. Later, Jesus would ask Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” and, in new humility, he answered, “You know that I love you.” Then, in a show of complete confidence in Peter, the Lord tells him, “Feed my sheep.”
Whether you’ve filled your life with regrets or separated yourself from God through sin, the Lord of Glory has one word for you today: Come. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18).
Come if you’re thirsty or weary. Come if you’re heavy-laden. Look ahead to the shore, like Peter did, and see the risen Lord. He’s waiting for you—the fish are laid on the fire of coals with bread, and He’s saying to you, “Come and dine.”
By John Rosenstern
When establishing the Illuminati, Adam Weshaupt revealed the long-term goals of his secret society. He wrote: “The true purpose of the Order was to rule the world. To achieve this it was necessary for the Order to destroy all religions, overthrow all governments and abolish private property.”
History supplies us the necessary evidence that Weishaupt’s goals were in operation after his death by his faithful followers. In the late 19th century, Henry Edward Manning, archbishop of Westminster, England, wrote that the Communist International was, “The work of secret, political societies, which from 1789 to this day (1886) have been perfecting their formation … is now a power in the midst of the Christian and civilized world, pledged to the destruction of Christianity and the old civilization of Europe.”
In order to rule the world, one of the long-term goals of the Illuminati was to eliminate Christianity. Weshaupt knew he could not discredit Christianity, so he set out to dismantle the effects of the Christian lifestyle in society by gradually removing its moral constraints. The attack on the economy, family, personal property, nationalism, and education became possible through the strategies of gradualism and revolution. As a philosophy, gradualism is defined as a theory maintaining that two seemingly conflicting notions are not radically opposed, but are related by others partaking in varying degrees of the character of both. Gradualism is the doctrine that social change should be brought about within the framework of existing law. In other words, long-term goals can best be achieved by pursuing incremental steps rather than triggering instability that accompanies abrupt change. Karl Marx argued against gradualism, but called for the working class to violently overthrow the existing social structure. Marx did not believe that the road to socialism would be accessible by following existing laws. Lenin embraced Marx’s ideas and became the winner in the Russian Revolution as the head of the new Russian Communist government.
Weishaupt knew that in order to rule the world: “It is necessary to establish a universal regime and empire over the whole world.”
How could a New World Order arise? What would be necessary for mankind to adopt and then adapt to the necessary changes Weshaupt and his secret society desired? Judeo Christianity and Islam have shaped a large population of the world he intended to dominate. To reach the mass population of people and address their struggles Weishaupt would initially imbed his mysteries into Freemasonry. The objective was to portray the “old theology” as insufficient and hopeless. Manly P. Hall, a well-known 33rd Degree Mason, wrote in his book, “Lectures on Ancient Philosophy”: “A new day is dawning for Freemasonry, from the insufficiency of theology and the hopelessness of materialism, men are turning to seek the god of philosophy.”
Hall would encourage the faithful followers where and when a new day was coming: “A new light is breaking in the east; a more glorious day is at hand. The rule of the philosophic elect-the dream of the ages-will yet be realized and is not too far distant.”
Has the time that Hall spoke of begun? Modern New Age teacher and author Benjamin Creme wrote this in his book, “The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom”: “The new religion will manifest, for instance, through organizations like Masonry. In Freemasonry is imbedded the core of the secret of the occult mysteries.”
NEW AGE RE-VEILED
The means of communication by Illuminati devotees is through secret codes and symbolism. They are hidden throughout society in plain sight. In the book, “The Spirit of Freemasonry,” it says, “A symbol veils or hides a secret, and is that which veils certain mysterious forces. These energies when released can have a potent effect.”
Satanist Alice Bailey said: “The hour of mysteries has arrived … These ancient mysteries were hidden in numbers, in ritual, in words, and in symbology; these veil the secret.”
In Freemasonry, the extensive symbolism, rituals and secrets are not fully comprehended by initiates and outsiders. The explanations given to appease any curiosity are feigned by the architects to conceal their hidden meanings. The concealed language of Freemasons was once given by a former Sovereign Commander: “The word reveal means to ‘re-veil,’ that is, to give one explanation and yet continue to maintain the mystery of the symbol by not explaining it in full and complete manner.” There are many interconnected organizations that cooperate together to address the ills of mankind. At their meetings they discuss various good works and ways to improve human life on earth. Although they appear as champions of social justice and human rights, they are the ones who control and cause much of the suffering in the world. We are distracted by their talk and isolated outward good works, but blinded to their long-term objective. Their objective is to foster the dawn of a New Age with a New World Order.
From its beginning, a variety of people and organizations saw the value of having a One World Order. The Illuminati story begins with an agreement between Amschel Mayor James Rothschild and Adam Weishaupt. Rothschild was said to have gathered 12 influential friends to pool their resources together so they could rule the world. Weishaupt was selected by Rothschild to lead the project. Soon after the plan was set in place, John Robison, a professor at Edinburgh University in Scotland, published a book entitled “Proofs of a Conspiracy” in which he reveals that Weishaupt had attempted to recruit him. Approximately 20 years later, George W. F. Hegel formulates his Hegelian Dialectic. Advocates to the Illuminati storyline believe the Hegelian Dialectic is the process by which Illuminati objectives are met. The process of thesis plus antithesis equals synthesis. In other words, first you incite a crisis. The public outcry to resolve the problem is followed by a predetermined solution that the public would not have initially accepted without the crisis. For example, for Americans to give up their Second Amendment rights, a tragic shooting occurs and the public outcry is the need for more gun control. The goal from the beginning was to have gun control. Justifying the goal first requires public acceptance to occur. Another recent example may be 9/11 and Islam? The list is long and wide of examples that could be used.
Although the various players, and their organizations, cooperated on policy and process, they still lacked the mechanism that could affect people in every area of life on a practical basis. What was the missing ingredient that had to be included to guarantee their success? Money! Rothschild, who sought to control the International banking system, said: “Allow me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who writes the laws.” The central banking system would present the most ambitious means to control the money of the world. Europe, especially England, was already using a centralized banking system. In the U.S., the young nation debated this idea. The debate ended with a split decision. The split decision created the two-party system we now have today. In the United States under President Washington, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton wanted to establish a national bank fashioned after the Bank of England. Acting secretary of state under Washington was Thomas Jefferson. He opposed Hamilton’s idea of a centralized bank for a strong federal government. Jefferson’s group called themselves Democratic Republicans. Hamilton and his group called themselves the Federalists. The Federalists sought to protect the country’s infant industries. The Democratic Republican party drew its followers from planters and small farmers. The Federalists of old are known to us today as Republicans, and the Democratic Republicans as Democrats.
Satan is known as the god of the world system. His workers of iniquity are not easily identified because they appear as angels of light. Only the light of the Gospel can correctly examine their works to see if they are of God. The Illuminati and Secret Societies use a name that speaks of light but is nothing less than darkness. We can expose their evil works with the light of the Gospel:
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21) Paul gives us instruction to avoid and not partake of those who operate in darkness and secrecy:
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for what doth make manifest is light.” (Ephesians 5:11-13)
By: Frances Swaggart
Psalm 139: 13-15 — “For Thou hast possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from Thee, when I was made in secret.”
WHEN DOES A HUMAN LIFE BEGIN?
God answered this question long before it was ever asked by a politician, a Supreme Court Justice, or a pregnant woman. As Creator, Almighty God is not silent on the subject of life—before, during, or after:
• “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee” (Jer. 1:5).
• “Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things” (Isa. 44:24).
• “Know ye that the LORD He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves” (Ps. 100:3).
We believe that human life begins at conception—that miracle moment when body, soul, and spirit unite to form a person, none of which happens apart from the Lord.
In Psalm 139, David offers us a rare glimpse of the Creator at work—covering, planning, protecting, seeing, and thinking about humanity—body, soul, and spirit—throughout one’s entire life.
Seventeenth century Bible scholar Thomas Manton left us this beautiful exposition of David’s psalm:
“David saith, ‘I am wonderfully made’ acu pictus sum …‘painted as with a needle,’ like a garment of needlework, of divers colours, richly embroidered with nerves and veins. What shall I speak of the eye, wherein there is such curious workmanship, that many upon the first sight of it have been driven to acknowledge God? Of the hand made to open and shut, and to serve the labours and ministries of nature without wasting and decay for many years? If they should be of marble or iron, with such constant use they would soon wear out; and yet now they are of flesh they last so long as life lasteth. Of the head? fitly placed to be the seat of the senses, to command and direct the rest of the members. Of the lungs? a frail piece of flesh, yet, though in continual action, of a long use. In short, therefore, every part is so placed and framed, as if God had employed His whole wisdom about it. But as yet we have spoken but of the casket wherein the jewel lieth. The soul, that divine spark of blast, how quick, nimble, various, and indefatigable in its motions! How comprehensive in its capacities! How it animateth the body, and is like God Himself, all in every part! Who can trace the flights of reason? What a value hath God set upon the soul! He made it after His image, He redeemed it with Christ’s blood.” 1
WE ARE MADE IN HIS IMAGE
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them” (Gen. 1:27).
In this poetic passage of Scripture, we see the word created carefully used three times, each one echoing the fact that man was an entirely new creation. Regarding the word image in this verse, the following Bible commentary is excellent:
“The image of God consists, therefore, in the spiritual personality of man, though not merely in unity of self-consciousness and self-determination, or in the fact that man was created a consciously free Ego; for personality is merely the basis and form of the divine likeness, not its real essence. This consists rather in the fact, that the man endowed with free self-conscious personality possesses, in his spiritual as well as corporeal nature, a creaturely copy of the holiness and blessedness of the divine life. This concrete essence of the divine likeness was shattered by sin; and it is only through Christ, the brightness of the glory of God and the expression of His essence (Hebrews 1:3), that our nature is transformed into the image of God again (Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24).” 2
While many medical professionals and scientists agree that physical life does begin at conception, there is so much more that the unredeemed do not know regarding God’s craftsmanship of the human race. For example, there is a clear connection between the “way of the spirit” and growth in the womb, as pointed out in the book of Ecclesiastes:
“As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all” (Eccl. 11:5).
God’s ways and His works are so much higher than man’s; they hardly fit into small scientific terms such as zygote, embryo, or fetus. From the beginning, God the Father calls new a life a child—a heritage, the fruit of the womb, and a reward (Ps. 127:3).
Consider Matthew Poole’s commentary on this third verse from Psalm 127:
“His reward [is] not a reward of debt merited by good men, but a reward of grace …. And although God give children and other outward comforts to ungodly men in the way of common providence, yet He gives them only to His people as favours, and in the way of promise and covenant.” 3
COVENANT AND PROMISE
Throughout the Bible, we find God keeping His Word through covenant, which oftentimes includes the promise of children.
In the book of Genesis, the Lord appears to Abraham and says, “I will establish my covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee” (Gen. 17:7).
Later, according to God’s promise, Isaac was born: “And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. (Gen. 21:1-3).
When the promise child Isaac is grown and married, we find him entreating the Lord on behalf of his barren wife, Rebekah. The Bible says, “And the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived” (Gen. 25:21).
The question has been asked, What was the reasoning behind the barrenness of both Sarah and Rebekah? Among other things, it was to show that the children of promise were to be not simply the fruit of nature, but the gift of grace. 4
THE DIVINE PLAN
“And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger” (Gen. 25:22-23)
In his book, Great Women Of The Bible, Old Testament, my husband explains the “struggle” described in these verses and the spiritual meaning behind it:
“Two energies—the one believing and the other unbelieving—struggled within her and were present even before they were born. It is like the two natures—the sin nature and the divine nature—within the believer. So, as we had in the union of Abraham and Sarah the beginning of the divine plan, we have with Isaac and Rebekah the opposition to that divine plan.” 5
While still in the womb, we find Jacob and Esau carrying out part of God’s redemption plan—a plan that would reach through time all the way to Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
When God creates a life—and only He can—it is so very precious to Him, and not only because we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” in His image. Each and every life is precious to God because He has an eternal plan for that life. And that plan is salvation, purchased for each and every soul with the blood of His only Son.
Ladies and gentlemen, if God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to save us, shouldn’t we also love and value each and every life that comes into the world?
1. Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Treasury Of David.” http://www.spurgeon.org/treasury/ps139.php
2. Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament.
3. Matthew Poole. http://biblehub.com/commentaries/psalms/127-3.htm
4. Great Women Of The Bible, Old Testament, pg. 138.
What is Truth?
37 Pilate therefore said unto Him, Are You a King then? (This question is not exactly asked in sarcasm or sincerity; quite probably, there is a little of both!) Jesus answered, You say that I am a King (is the same as saying “yes, it is so!”). To this end was I born (addresses the Incarnation, God becoming Man [Isa. 7:14]), and for this cause came I into the world (He is to be King in the hearts of all who believe Him), that I should bear witness unto the Truth (carries in its statement the entirety of the embodiment of the Ways of God). Every one who is of the Truth hears My Voice (only those who sincerely desire Truth will know Christ, i.e., “hear His Voice”).
38 Pilate said unto Him, What is Truth? (Pilate shows himself by his question to be a cynic.) And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and said unto them (is done so in the midst of tumult), I find in Him no fault at all (Pilate knew that Jesus was not guilty of treason against Rome, or any other type of infraction).
In this world of information overload and misinformation, it is very hard to find out the Truth! We often associate “Truth” with what we believe to be true as according to our personal views, perceptions and biases. In reality there is but One Truth in which all other truths are based. That “Truth” is a Person, the Man Jesus Christ and His atonement made at Calvary. How you perceive and view Christ will determine have you evaluate and handle facts, evidence, and information presented to you on a daily basis. As a Christian there is only one way to deal with and perceive information and that is through the Power of the Holy Spirit who indwells the saint upon Salvation. Without the Holy Spirit in you and you daily placing your faith in “Truth” as found in Christ and His atonement, you can only evaluate things based upon your mere human perspective/opinions/biases and lust/desires. You see, in every human being is a sin nature, which is a bent towards wrong doing, and unless this nature is crucified and made dormant by evidencing faith in Calvary (Truth), you can only make assumptions and evaluations based upon the sin nature’s bent towards wrong doing or fleshly desires. Only those living for Christ by evidencing the fruit of Christ are able to properly evaluate/discern what is of “Truth” as centered around the Bible which is the story of Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.
The reason why many of us as professed saints or Christians aren’t saying the same things and can’t see things from a biblical perspective as centered around the doctrine of Calvary is because we lost focus of Christ and His atonement. We went from trusting in the Cross of Christ exclusively to being divided in our beliefs by adding to the Message of the Cross. We have not allowed the work of Calvary to nail our desires, our opinions, our biases to His Cross and we have set out to establish our own righteousness.
In the above Scripture, Pilate who was a Roman governor during the trial of Jesus, had Truth right before his eyes but was unable to recognize Him for who He was and what He would accomplish due to his selfish desires ruling his heart. You see Pilate had the power to condemn Christ or set him free but due to the pressure from the Jews and his desire not to offend his superiors, he condemned an innocent Man. How many of us are walking around condemning and speaking against that which God has ordained simply because we can’t recognize Truth?? Once you and I come to know Truth as in the Person of Jesus Christ and His atonement, we will be able to discern the mind of God and that which is according to the Will of God otherwise you will make wrong evaluations of things due to looking from a corrupt point of view.
.Signs of the Times
Jesus said that just as the sky gives signs of inclement or fair weather (Mat. 16:2-4), just as nature gives evidence of something to come (Lk. 21:30), so the Endtime will be marked by signs of the coming storm. Although some of these events ultimately will take place before the Second Coming of Christ, that many are already occurring reveals the nearness of the Rapture. Some of the signs we are told to look for are as follows:
1. WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS (Dan. 9:26; Mat. 24:6).
2. RESTORATION OF ISRAEL AS A NATION (Ezek., Chapt. 37). Since 1948 the world has been closely observing the miraculous preservation of the tiny Nation of Israel from their sworn enemies who had vowed to exterminate them. God had already given them tremendous victories against astounding odds in the 1948 and 1956 wars. But in 1967 with Russian-trained and Russian-supplied armies, the Arabs once again were sent to annihilate Israel. In June, 1967, outnumbered forty to one, the small ill-equipped Israeli army totally defeated the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. In less than three hours of the first day of the war, Israeli fighter planes destroyed 300 of Egypt’s 340 planes—a Miracle of Miracles! Can it not be obvious to anyone that God has miraculously preserved the Nation of Israel since her restoration in 1948?
3. MATERIAL AFFLUENCE (Lk. 17:27-30; II Pet. 2:6-7).
4. SPIRITUAL APOSTASY (II Jn. Vss. 7-11).
5. OVERPOPULATION (Gen. 6:11-13; Mat. 24:36-44). Already the world is bulging with over 6.4 billion people, and there is speculation about how many people the Earth can support. Within a decade that figure could be near 7.0 billion. Such numbers pose real problems for the Earth’s natural resources.
6. INCREASED KNOWLEDGE AND TRAVEL (Dan.12:4). No age has seen the speed with which man currently travels and communicates. One of two families changes residence every five years. Telephones and telexes and satellites carry instant communication. Rockets travel to outer space. The speed of this age is unparalleled.
7. NATURAL DISASTERS (Mat. 24:7). Every week, it seems, we hear of earthquakes, storms, tidal waves, or some other calamity occurring somewhere on the globe. Who has ever known of so many volcanic eruptions or so many ecological problems? Truly ours is a unique age.
8. PERILOUS TIMES (II Tim. 3:1-5). Our nation was stunned when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated November 22, 1963, followed by the assassination of Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., April 4, 1968, and then the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy by Sirhan Sirhan on June 5 of the same year. Fear, a sense of peril, it seems, came upon the American people. Things were not safe anymore. Even though we were not at war, we were scared. And now we have experienced September 11, 2001, and the ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
9. LAWLESSNESS (Jude, Vss. 17-19). And added to that has been the more recent scourge of terrorism worldwide. We cannot walk our streets at night; we cannot leave our doors unlocked; we cannot board an airplane without wondering if some mad gunman might be aboard. We fear for the safety of our home and family. Is it any wonder if we are more uptight than our forefathers, more restless, less at peace? No age has experienced the insecurity and turmoil we are facing today.
10. FALSE PROPHETS (Mat. 24:11-12, 24). Recent best sellers on this subject have made us aware of the subtle deception of so-called Christian prophets. Many have been deceived and will continue to be led astray.
11. ANTICHRISTS (Mat. 24:5). Many false messiahs have appeared, claiming to be Christ; but we know there is only One, and this same Jesus is coming again (Acts 1:11).
12. WICKEDNESS (Mat. 24:12). During the 1960’s people began to turn their attention to the fact that we may be living in the Last Days—and indeed we are! Civil disobedience and riots were the order of the day. It seemed that a moral dam had broken loose. Overnight, it seemed, there was a total collapse of morals. There was a flood of legalized pornography, nude obscene performances on stage and movies, wife-swapping, topless entertainers, coed dormitories, skyrocketing divorce rates, sexual promiscuity and introduction of the pill, rock festivals accompanied by all kinds of open sexual immorality and drugs, communal living, rampant venereal disease, the burning of draft cards and the American flag, the popularity of anti-war songs, wholesale deserters from the armed forces … and all this with the endorsement of the liberal clergy. The liberal clergy believed that God was acting in all this. Radicals who should have been tried for treason became our national heroes.
13. DEMONIC ACTIVITY (I Tim. 4:1-3). When the Bible speaks of the fierceness of the Wrath of God or His fierce Anger, it uses a word meaning “burning.” But when it speaks of the fierceness of the demonic activity or wickedness, it uses words characterizing “vehemence, harshness, danger, and savagery.” This will be the spirit of this age.
14. PERSECUTION OF THE SAINTS (Mat. 24:9). Believers dying as a testimony for their Faith is nothing new in this world. Every age has had its martyrs. It is estimated that millions of martyrs are buried in the Catacombs … that in 1900, approximately 36,000 people laid down their life for Christ … that in 1970, approximately 230,000 people died for their Faith in Christ … that in 1986, approximately 330,000 followed Christ in martyrdom. How many since then?
15. DRUGS (Rev. 9:21; 18:23). Many people are surprised to learn that drug abuse is mentioned in the Bible. No, the word “drug” is not used, but another word meaning “drug” is used; that is, the Greek pharmakeia, translated “sorcery.” When the word is used, it means “magic.” But when it applies to drugs, drug use, and the druggist, a form of pharmakeia is used. The Bible says that in the Endtime men will give themselves to drug abuse. Has any age ever witnessed such a fulfillment of this as we are seeing today?
16. SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL (Mat. 24:14). Through literature and telecommunications the Name of Jesus Christ is going forth into all the world.
“But I say, HAVE THEY NOT HEARD? YES VERILY, THEIR SOUND WENT INTO ALL THE EARTH, and their words unto the ends of the world” (Rom. 10:18).
What nation in the world, at some point, in its history, has not heard the Gospel? Jesus said:
“So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Mat. 24:33).
That word “near” does not mean “soon” or even “immediately.” It is the Greek word eggus, meaning “at hand, nigh unto, ready.” The verb form means “to draw nigh or to come nigh.” It means “imminent” or the next thing on the agenda. All these things either are being fulfilled or have been fulfilled. All things are “ready.” We believe, then, that Christ could return for His People at any moment.
“Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come.
“Therefore BE YOU ALSO READY: FOR IN SUCH AN HOUR AS YOU THINK NOT THE SON OF MAN COMES” (Mat. 24:42, 44).
“Be you therefore ready also: for the Son of Man comes at an hour when you think not” (Lk. 12:40
Swaggart, J. (1986). A Study in Bible Prophecy (pp. 17–20). Baton Rouge, LA: World Evangelism Press.
By Loren Larson
J. Swaggart Ministry
Galatians 5:1 – “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
THERE ARE MANY LIBERTIES we are called to hold to as believers. None are liberties we have paid for, earned, or even deserve. Each and every one of them was paid for by Jesus Christ as He offered up Himself as a sacrifice for lost humanity at Calvary. It is our responsibility to stand fast in the freedoms afforded us by Christ. Let me highlight a few powerful benefits afforded to all who will dare to believe that these are theirs for the claiming!
FREEDOM FROM SIN
Jesus paid the price to free us from the penalty, the power, and (one day) the presence of sin. Most Christians are aware of the truth that Jesus died to pay the penalty for the sin that they have committed, but what most do not realize is the truth that in the Cross, the power of sin over the individual believer was broken. The sin nature that resides in every human from the moment of birth will continue to corrupt the heart of that human unless somehow stopped. Romans, Chapter 6, teaches us that our union with Christ caused the power of the sin nature to be rendered idle and useless. It still resides within the framework of the human heart, but it need not cause us trouble as long as we continually keep our faith in Christ and Him crucified. One glad day when the trump of God shall sound, we shall be glorified, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and the presence of sin will no longer be a reality for all eternity.
FREEDOM FROM LAW
Jesus gave us His righteousness so that we should no longer be accountable to the law. This does not mean that the believer is free from the moral code. The truth is, God expects far more from us — relative to holy living — when we come out from under the law. The law was never meant to be a saving agent. It convicts the human race of wrongdoing but does not supply the power to live holy. Only grace can supply the power to overcome sin. So, we are freed from the law and the ordinances that were against us because Christ nailed them to His Cross and forever took them out of the way. The Christian will never be judged by the law. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness — not the destruction of the law, but rather the end of trusting law, rules, routines, or anything else as the means to righteousness. Once again, our union with Christ has caused us to become dead to the law, and we are free from its requirements and are declared righteous as a result of our faith.
FREEDOM FROM THE WORLD
The believer has access to grace that frees us from the desire for worldly pursuits! We have all felt the pull that the world and its ungodly system can place upon the heart of the believer. It is very easy in this life to concentrate upon the temporal rather than the eternal. There’s nothing wrong with desiring God’s best for us as it pertains to what we own, what we drive, or where we live. However, when the pursuit of these temporary items chokes the desire in us for the things of God, then we have our priorities out of line, and our faith is in danger of being destroyed. The Bible tells us that we have been crucified to the world and the world to us through our union with Christ. Our faith in the Cross will cause God’s grace to remove the worldly desires from us. It will break the pull of those desires, and they will not be dominant over the priority of our walk with God.
FREEDOM FROM THE DEVIL
He has destroyed the devil’s power over us. While the Devil still remains as our adversary, constantly seeking out whom he may devour, Christ Jesus destroyed his power and his dominion by His one sacrifice on Calvary. He defeated all powers of darkness on Golgotha’s hill and destroyed the power of the Devil and all the principalities under him. He made a show of them openly and declared His victory over their power of oppression and destruction. Our simple faith in Jesus’ work sets us free from the adversary, who would destroy our faith, our family, and our world. Jesus was manifested to destroy all the works of the Devil, and this He has done. It is for us to claim our liberty from Satan’s power by ever placing our faith in Christ and Him crucified.
FREEDOM FROM SELF
He has freed us from the dominating desires to please “self.” When man fell, he became self-conscious. Prior to this, man was God-conscious and thoughts of self, if they existed at all, were secondary. After the fall in the garden of Eden, man became dominated by both sin and his selfishness. Our whole lives are about us. We put ourselves first and everyone else last. However, our union with Christ has the power to defeat selfishness and overcome selfish desires. It even has the power to place a care for others in front of our natural care for self. Now, as a servant of the Lord, I am equipped to serve others and not just myself.
All of these benefits are for those who access them daily by faith in the finished work of Christ. I have been united with Christ, crucified with Christ, buried with Christ, and raised with him to live in Him through a brand-new power source. I am determined, by the grace of God, to stand fast in the liberty that Christ died to provide!
By Loren Larson
J. Swaggart Ministry
Psalm 106:13 – They soon forgot His Works; they waited not for His Counsel:
For the past few weeks, this simple Passage has played a key role in directing my life. The Verse describes the attitudes and the actions of the very first group of people that God called His Own, the Hebrews. Having faced the horrible bondages of slavery in Egypt, the Israelites had cried to God, and He had delivered them from Pharaoh’s grasp. How long the events of the plagues lasted, no one can be sure. Some have speculated that the plagues, culminating in the Passover, may have lasted as long as nine months. In all this time, God proved Himself faithful. He guarded the Hebrews from the plagues that struck Egypt, and He brought them out with a high hand, with the strength of youth in their just-healed bodies and the wealth of Egypt in their pockets. When Pharaoh relented and repented of letting God’s People go, and with determination mounted a chase to destroy them or bring them back, God opened up the Red Sea for His People and executed the monarch and his armies as they attempted to cross through the same. However, human nature being what it is, it wasn’t long before this blessed people began to complain. How quickly we forget all that God has done for us!
Forgetting What God Did Before
Faith is a funny thing. At times, moved by Faith in expected provision from God, we face mountains of difficult situations. However, just a few days after our latest Miracle, the one that God Himself supplied, we face a new enemy, an uncomfortable situation, or a difficult circumstance, and we seem to forget all that God has done for us. My friend, the greatest thing that God has ever done for you or me was the saving of our souls. What new life! What new joy! What eager expectation of good rose up in our hearts! With the sin stain drowned in the efficacious Blood of the Lamb of God, we felt the freedom from death’s grip and the release from the dominion of sin. Then, in our youthfulness, we entered into the time where He carried us and proved Himself to us over and over again. Faith in His Person and His Word escalated us to new heights and pacified the heart with peace that passed all understanding. How many Miracles since then has He performed for you? How many times has He come through for you? Has He ever failed to keep a Promise or perform a Word that He gave specifically to you? I must testify by saying, “Never.” In one particularly trying time, God spoke to my heart and said, “This test will be over by the end of May.” That trial concluded on May 31 of that year. When I realized that the God of Heaven had spoken and then faithfully executed His Promise, all I could do was weep and praise Him for His Faithfulness. So, why would we doubt Him in our current distress? When we fail to remember what God has done for us in the past, we pave the way for doubt and unbelief to reign supreme in our hearts. Put yourself in remembrance of what God has done in your past, and it will secure the steps for your future!
Proceeding Without God
Whenever doubt and unbelief dominate the mind and heart, the human being almost always makes the mistake of proceeding into the situation without God. Now is the time to wait for His Counsel. Now is the time to seek His Direction. If we will approach the situation with prayer, yielding to God’s Wisdom will guarantee a successful journey through the minefield just ahead. One day at a time, seeking His Will for every step, will lead you successfully across the terrain and into the safety of His Provision. Wait on Him to lead! Tell Him you are sure that He will lead you just as He has done so many times before. Recall to mind what He has done for you in the past. Cry out to Him and let Him show you what to do. Wait on His Counsel! Wait on His Guidance! Don’t move until you know you have heard His Instruction. He’s done it before; He’ll do it again. Wait, I say, on the Lord!
By: Dave Smith
J. Swaggart Ministry
Esther 4:14 —“Who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Esther had just found out that Haman had convinced the king to make a decree that all Jews should be killed because they were enemies of his kingdom. That meant that all Jews and Esther and her family would be killed. Similarly, many people are convinced that Christians are a bigger threat than terrorists, so their freedoms and influence should be taken away. That would mean souls that would have heard the gospel and gotten saved will be eternally lost.
Esther’s first reaction was to say nothing. She could lay low, be politically correct, and not rock the boat hoping this attack would just blow over and go away. She could keep quiet, not expose herself as a Jew, and let someone else try to save God’s people. But Mordecai warned her that doing so would result in her and her family being killed.
The enemy has not and will not stop trying to destroy God’s people. Satan knows that they are the hindering force against his attacks on the work of God and must be destroyed (II Thess. 2:7). Even though there are setbacks for Satan, he will not stop, and, eventually, the rapture will take place and the Antichrist will come on the scene.
In the meantime, the body of Christ must take advantage of every opportunity to win souls. Jesus told His disciples in a parable to occupy—engage in the business of the church, which is preaching the gospel—until I come (Luke 19:13). The only reason God has given His church more time is because He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (II Pet. 3:9).
There is, however, an extreme urgency to get done what needs to be done because the opportunities are available only for a short time, and if they are not taken advantage of, they will be lost. Jesus said not to put off the harvest for four months because the fields are ripe now (Jn. 4:35).
He also said that He had to work while it was day and there was light that was needed to do the work. If He waited, darkness would come and He would not be able to accomplish what was needed (Jn. 9:4).
Jesus also told His disciples to pray for more workers so the great number of souls could be harvested before it was too late (Matt. 9:36-38).
The psalmist prayed that God would teach us to number, or take full advantage, of our days (Ps. 90:12). Paul told the Ephesians and Colossians to redeem the time, or take full advantage of the opportunities to win souls instead of being indifferent or neglectful (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5).
The only hope Esther had of saving her family and her people was to appeal to the king. Since she had not been summoned by the king, she would normally be killed for just going into his court. That meant she had to risk everything to try to save her people. Similarly, a person has to give up everything (Matthew 4:20,22; 16:25; Mark 10:28; Luke 5:11; 14:26) not just to be saved, but also to be used of God to win the lost.
But if a person is willing to give his life, God has promised to give them people (Isa. 3:4), the heathen (Ps. 2:8), and much fruit (Jn. 12:24) for their life.
God says He has given the church an open door to preach the gospel (Rev. 3:8), but time is limited because He also said He is coming quickly (Rev. 3:11).
“Who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
(This article was originally printed in June, 2009.)
By Frances Swaggart –
J. Swaggart Ministry
Just recently, I received a letter from a pastor who was upset because of what I had written in my article in the May Issue of our Evangelist Magazine. I was pointing out how the ministers of today have no problem misusing Passages of Scripture to support their own agendas. I am alarmed at how loosely preachers treat Scripture today. There seems to be no fear or concern as to whether or not the Scripture verses used remain true to the original context of the Bible. Many times preachers try to use Passages that do not relate at all to the point of their writings and messages, so they will exegete the passage in such a way to make it appear to say one thing when it really says something else. Modern ministers have actually become quite adept at this, twisting and perverting Scripture to the point that the original meaning is totally lost! Instead of making their message line up with the Word, they attempt to make the Word line up with their message. Yet, if anyone speaks out about such abuse of the Scripture he is harshly judged and attacked on a personal level. Nobody wants to evaluate content anymore to find out if Scripture is being misused, perverted, or twisted by the preacher quoting it. Instead, they would rather attack, and often viciously, the person that speaks up and says that a particular Scripture is not being used accurately! Too many would rather defend a preacher than God’s Holy Word.
Romans 2:1 is always used in an attempt to silence those who speak out: “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whosoever you are who judges (presents this segment as directed to the Jews): for wherein you judge another, you condemn yourself (in effect, says that God judges one who judges another in the same manner in which he himself has judged, hence, ‘condemning himself’ [Mat. 7:1-2]); for you who judge do the same things (in effect, says that the Jews were no better than the Gentiles, whom they constantly berated).” But, does Romans 2:1 mean that we are never to judge? Does Romans 2:1 mean that we are to ignore blatant mistreatment of God’s Word? Of course not, because John 7:24 states, or I should say commands, that we are to judge righteous judgment, which is judgment based upon the Word of God: “Judge not according to the appearance, (in effect, says, ‘if you think you have not violated the Sabbath in Circumcision, then how can you think I broke the Sabbath when I healed one of you who had been helpless for thirty-eight years?’), but judge righteous judgment (says that judgment must be rendered according to the whole Word of God, and not merely by taking a part and perverting it to one’s own satisfaction).”
Only when judgment is made in another way, a way other than by the standard of God’s Word, is it a violation of Matthew 7:1, which states: “Judge not, that you be not judged (this statement made by Christ harks back to Verses 25 through 34 of the previous Chapter; the idea is, God may permit poverty to test His Child, but fellow Believers are not to err, as Job’s friends did, and believe the trial to be a judgment for secret sin; as well, the word, ‘judging,’ as used here, covers every aspect of dealing with our fellowman).”
A faithful Christian must always discern (a word not often used in the modern church). It is one of the Gifts of the Spirit. “Discernment” means to discern whether or not what you are hearing is the Spirit of God, human spirits, or evil spirits. Example after example of discernment is given in the Bible. In this very same Chapter, which says, “Judge not, that you be not judged,” Verse 15 goes on to say: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves (‘beware of false prophets’ is said in the sternest of measures! there will be and are false prophets, and are some of Satan’s greatest weapons).” So, you see, we are actually instructed to discern and judge. How else would we know a false prophet from a true man of God? We must judge every minister by the Word of God, and if he is misquoting, misusing, perverting, or setting his doctrine apart from what the Scripture says for his own advantage, then he is a false prophet. How do we know we have judged them according to Scripture? The answer is right there in the same Passage. Remember, every Scripture Verse must be read in its context if we are to properly understand the true meaning.
Verses 2 and 3 of Matthew 7 say: “For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged (whatever motive we ascribe to others, such motive will ultimately be ascribed to us): and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again (a double emphasis is given here in order to proclaim the seriousness of the Words of our Lord; when we judge others, we are judging ourselves). And why do you behold the mote that is in your brother’s eye (the Believer is not to be looking for fault or wrongdoing in the lives of fellow Believers), but consider not the beam that is in your own eye? (We have plenty in our own lives that needs eliminating, without looking for faults in others. The ‘mote’ and ‘beam’ are contrasted! The constant judging of others portrays the fact that we are much worse off than the one we are judging.)”
Going on to Verse 4: “Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye (the seriousness of setting ourselves up as Judge, Jury, and Executioner); and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? (Once again draws attention to the fact that the person doing the judging is in far worse spiritual condition than the one being judged.)” Now, it is becoming more evident that Verse 1 refers to hypocritical judgment. A person who has a beam in his own eye is certainly not capable of judging another who may have a mote in his eye. The total lesson of these verses is plain; you cannot accurately judge one for his sin while you have sin dominating your own life. Verse 5 of Matthew 7 goes on to tell you what the Lord says about the person that judges in this way: “You hypocrite (aptly describes such a person), first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then you shall see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother’s eye (the very fact that we do not address ourselves, but rather others, portrays the truth that our personal situation is worse; when we properly analyze ourselves, then, and only then, can we ‘see clearly’; this is speaking of character assassination and not the correction of doctrine).”
The letter I received from this minister said, and I quote, “I was greatly disappointed when I read how Mrs. Swaggart referred to Joel Osteen as false teaching. Saying he misquoted scriptures, etc. I have known Joel Osteen since he was 10 years old . . . took him fishing; know him very well. I know of no more humble and loving man. He and I both are amazed at the favor God has given him. She may say she was only attacking his teaching, but I saw it as an attack on him personally.” This minister quotes Romans 2:1 (as mentioned earlier), and then he quotes Ephesians 4:29 which says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may Minister Grace unto the hearers.” Now, the truth is that this man is judging me personally, while at the same time quoting Romans 2:1 to me. See the double standard? He first says we are not to judge, but then he turns right around and judges me, saying I am attacking someone on a personal level when I am not. I am only pointing out the error in his teaching. In this minister’s letter, not once does he mention the verse of Scripture that was being perverted and whether I was right or wrong in what I had said in my article about it. So, the minister does not even himself discern the true meaning of the verse. Instead, he quoted another verse of Scripture to me (Eph. 4:29), which, again, had nothing to do with the statement I made in my article. Ephesians 4:29 refers to slander. I, in no way, slandered anyone in my article.
PLEASING MEN OR PLEASING GOD
Besides, how can Grace be ministered if Scripture is misquoted? It is only when the Word of God is properly used that Grace and Healing can be ministered. If God’s Word is distorted, it will do nothing for any individual. He then closes out his letter with this statement: “This article did not edify me nor did it minister grace to me.” If he felt that way about my article, he should have pointed out to me where I had misused or twisted Scripture, but he didn’t because I didn’t misuse any Scriptures. It was Joel Osteen who failed to minister Grace to his people with his improper use of Scripture, not me when I used Biblical discernment. I would say this to this pastor: “For do I now persuade men, or God? (In essence, Paul is saying, ‘do I preach man’s doctrine, or God’s?’) or do I seek to please men? (This is what false apostles do.) for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the Servant of Christ (one cannot please both men and God at the same time)” (Gal. 1:10). In fact, the whole First Chapter of Galatians would be beneficial to read.
Another point I want to make pertains to his feelings for Joel Osteen. Certainly, it is only right and normal to love our friends, and it is only right to not want to see them misrepresented in any way. But, whether someone is humble and loving or whether he is the opposite is not the issue here. The issue is: was Scripture misused or misrepresented? If it was, then we cannot protect our friends no matter how nice his personality. We have to love God and His Word more than we love our friends.
If our friends err in their use of Scripture, then we must obey II Thessalonians 3:6 which states: “Now we command you, Brethren, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Apostle is saying that what he is telling the people is ‘the Word of God,’ and must be heeded!), that you withdraw yourselves from every brother who walks disorderly (literally means, ‘to walk out of the ranks of the Word of God’; in abbreviated form, it means we should withdraw fellowship from those who teach something other than the Cross; it does not speak of excommunication), and not after the tradition which he received of us (after the teaching which Paul had given, which was definitely from the Lord; ‘tradition,’ as it is used here, does not mean ‘unwritten doctrines,’ as this word normally means; the Apostle is referring to what the Lord had given him, which he had faithfully taught to the people).”
If we really and truly love our brothers, then we must stand true and faithful to the Word of God, because ultimately it is the pure Word of God that will bring them blessing as well! II Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the Word (refers to the whole body of revealed Truth, which means the entirety of the Word of God); be instant in season, out of season (presents the idea of the Preacher holding himself in constant readiness to proclaim the Word); reprove (the Preacher is to deal with sin, both in the lives of his unsaved hearers and in those of the Saints to whom he Ministers, and he is to do so in no uncertain tones and terms), rebuke (a suggestion in some cases of impending penalty); exhort with all longsuffering and Doctrine. (This tells us that the ‘reproving’ and the ‘rebuking’ must be done with gentleness. As well, the ‘longsuffering’ refers to a gentleness that continues even when the Message is met with rejection. However, the ‘Doctrine’ is not to change, even though it is rejected.)”
PERVERTING THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST
Paul warned the Galatians about those who “pervert the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:6 through 9 says, “I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him (the Holy Spirit) Who called you into the Grace of Christ (made possible by the Cross) unto another gospel (anything which doesn’t have the Cross as its Object of Faith): Which is not another (presents the fact that Satan’s aim is not so much to deny the Gospel, which he can little do, as to corrupt it); but there be some who trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ (once again, to make the object of Faith something other than the Cross). But though we (Paul and his associates), or an Angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you (Jesus Christ and Him Crucified), let him be accursed (eternally condemned; the Holy Spirit speaks this through Paul, making this very serious). As we said before, so say I now again (at sometime past, he had said the same thing to them, making their defection even more serious), If any man preach any other gospel unto you (anything other than the Cross) than that you have received (which Saved your souls), let him be accursed (‘eternally condemned,’ which means the loss of the soul).”
EXPOSING FALSE DOCTRINE
It is sad to say that today’s modern church is preaching a perverted gospel. We are told that we must cooperate with such modern teachers in Evangelism and other Christian works, but the Bible teaches, instead, that we must expose the false prophets. If we do not, we have betrayed Christ and His Gospel! The entirety of the Bible abounds with examples of false prophets who are named and exposed. All of this modern talk about “love” is used as an excuse for not exposing error, but such is not really Biblical Love at all. Biblical Love tells the Truth. Hebrews 5:14 says, “But strong meat belongs to them who are of full age (refers to those who are mature in the Lord), even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Such a person is walking after the Spirit. This refers to placing one’s Faith in the Cross and not after the flesh, the flesh refers to depending on other things [Rom. 8:1-2, 11]).” A person who is able to discern between good and evil has at least one of the major marks of Spiritual Maturity. Vine’s Expository Dictionary says that the meaning of “discern” is to examine, scrutinize, question, determine, decide, test, or prove. Judging is translated “discerning” of spirits, judging by evidence whether evil or good. Those who are unwilling or incapable of discerning and/or judging between good and evil are revealing either their disobedience or their immaturity in the things of God.