Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Revelation 19:5

Verse 5 “And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.”

A voice comes from the throne giving the command for all of God’s servants that fear Him to praise Him. Note that the voice comes from the throne, but it is not God’s, as God is spoken of in the third person. The only individuals at the throne are Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the cherubim. The cherubim are bowing down at the moment, although that does not necessarily mean that one of them cannot speak from that position, so it could be one of them that speaks. So far the Holy Spirit has not been known to speak in these proceedings, so the only other person it could possibly be that speaks would be Christ. It does not specify. All those, both small and great that fear God are to praise Him. This is not being addressed to those on the earth who should fear Him, because He is going to judge them with His wrath. This is being addressed to the occupants of heaven. We are told to fear God, not just love him. Ps. 111.10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Pr.1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” 1 Pet. 2:17 b “Fear God….”

There are hundreds of verses that speak of fearing the Lord. We are to walk in fear of God, because of who He is and what He can do to us. 1 Pet. 1:17 “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear;” Wait, this is talking to Christians (those who call on the Father) about passing our sojourn here on earth in fear, because God will judge us by our works? What about all those who teach that all we have to do is accept Christ as our Savior and we are all set? Ah, but you say, this is talking about rewards, not salvation. Really? Is this just talking about rewards or is it also talking about salvation? True, we should worry about having done something to gain rewards upon arrival in heaven, but should we live in fear because of it? Is not God love? Does not the Christian have eternal security and therefore not have to live in fear of God? There is no question about one fact. Our justification is dependent upon Christ‘s sacrifice. Without that, there is no justification. However, Scripture teaches that our ultimate salvation requires that we abide in Christ in faith and endure to the end, as well as giving evidence of that faith by our works, through which our faith is perfected and upon which our rewards are dependent. James 2:19-22,24,26 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?…Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only…..For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Note that the person who believes that works are not necessary is called vain. That is completely opposite to what most people would say. Most who believe in salvation by faith alone say that only human vanity would say that we have any part in our salvation, that Christ alone is responsible for it. That is not what the Scriptures say. They equate that attitude with vanity. Vanity that you think you are so special that you do not have to do anything to give back to God for what He has done for you. There are two opposing camps in the question of salvation. Some say it is by faith alone, no works necessary, and some say that it is purely by works. According to Scripture neither is correct. It says that we are justified by Christ’s blood and by works (which are the evidence of the fact of our faith in Christ‘s blood). The problem in understanding these issues of salvation by faith alone vs. works; and eternal security comes in, I believe, by the erroneous use of the terminology involved.

Hebrews 10:26-29 says, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, supposed ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of god, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” While many would like to think that you cannot lose your salvation, we need to realize that salvation is the very thing you can lose. Again, it comes down to understanding the terms. Salvation is the actual end goal of a life lived for Christ. It does not happen when one accepts Christ. It is the inheritance we receive, not when the person we inherit it from dies (that gave us the ability to be included in the will and inherit as children), but when we, the heirs, die. Accepting Christ is the act of justification or sanctification (being set apart as holy for God), not salvation. This verse clearly says that when one has been “sanctified” or has actually accepted Christ as his Savior, and then down the road counts as unholy the blood of Christ and is unrepentant, he will only have a fiery judgment to which he can look forward. He will lose his salvation or inheritance. He will be disinherited. His name will be blotted out of the Book of Life. Salvation is not a sure thing until we die in Christ. Justification or sanctification, on the other hand, is with us as long as we abide in Christ. If we at some point decide that we no longer need Christ’s blood applied to our sins, there is no other sacrifice upon which we can call. Buddha didn’t do it, Muhammed didn’t do it, nor did any other person throughout the entire course of the history of the world. Nobody else could do it, as nobody else was God incarnate. We are then responsible to pay the price for our own sins and will end up in eternal damnation, if we choose to turn our back on Christ.

Justification is not the same thing as salvation, although many seem to use the words interchangeably. Salvation indicates one has escaped (past tense) eternal damnation. It is an accomplished fact. This is only a definite fact when one has entered heaven. Justification says that the price has been paid and the charge against the person has been lifted. I am sure many who read this have heard that justification can be explained by the phrase “just as if I did not do it.” That is a correct analogy. It is as if we did not do it, as someone else has taken our place, had the charge laid to his account, and has paid the penalty we owed. Another word that should accompany justification is sanctification. When we accept Christ as our Savior, not only are we justified, but we are sanctified (this means set apart as a holy thing for God). We are then set apart as one of his children who will, one day in the future, inherit salvation. Salvation (the actual act of getting into heaven and escaping eternal damnation) is the future objective that the price paid by Christ can bring (but only for those who accept it). We are justified and sanctified when we accept Christ, but this is not the same as salvation. The price for our sins has been paid and we are set apart to do God‘s works and will, but to obtain the objective - salvation - we must not only accept the substitute payment, we must do the works and faithfully endure to the end of our lives, demonstrating right to the end of our lives that we still want that blood applied to our lives. Think of it as a prisoner in jail. Someone does his time for him, so he is free to leave and can stay free as long as he lives within the law. However, if he chooses to go back to his old life committing more crimes with no feelings of guilt or repentance, and no thought to the promise he made to stay clean and out of trouble, and has no regard for the price that was paid for his freedom, he will end up back in jail. The price paid will only cover all of his transgressions as long as he wants them to, by repenting and allowing that payment to be applied to his debt, and continuing to strive to stay clean and do good. There is no other sacrifice that can be applied to his debt except the one offered, so if he at any time refuses the payment, he is responsible for the payment himself.

Getting back to the importance of abiding in Christ and doing the good works, (I know I digress from Revelation, but this is important), in John 15 Christ Himself tells us “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit….Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me…..If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” There are numerous verses that go along with this, so it is clear that abiding in Christ and bearing fruit is required of us, as well as accepting Christ’s sacrifice to justify us. To not abide in Christ and bear fruit means being becoming withered, and being gathered to be cast into the fire to be burned. There is no other way to explain this passage. To have been grafted into the vine to start with, one has to have accepted Christ as their Lord. There is no other way to become a part of the vine. We are to fear God in that we can be lopped off, if we are not abiding and producing fruit. Too many people think of God as love and just stop there. They do not fear God. We should not fall into that trap. It allows people to think that as long as they love God, anything goes. That is not correct. We must live as God wants and endure to the end if we want to inherit salvation.

As already mentioned before, apathy and not producing fruit is not the only problem that can lead to being lopped off and sent into the fire to burn, but flagrant sinning and disregard, or even disdain for the gift once accepted. Heb. 6:4 “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame….But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, (producing thorns and briers is almost worse than producing no fruit, but still has the same result of being lopped off the vine) and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.” Again we see that the person who has accepted Christ (been enlightened and tasted of the gift) who falls away unrepentantly from God has no other path to God. Christ cannot be crucified twice for him. If the first sacrifice is ultimately rejected, there is no other way to salvation, in spite of what Oprah Winfrey thinks. Again, to repeat Heb. 10:26-27,29 “For if we sin wilfully (unrepentantly) after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries…... Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace?” Again this speaks of a person who has accepted Christ, as that is the only way one is justified and sanctified. Note though that this sinning is of such a degree that Christ’s sacrifice has been thrown away and thought an unholy thing. This is not about our daily sins that we commit and for which we ask forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 covers that. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is a deliberate, willful, permanent turning from God after having once accepted Christ which is clearly, according to Scripture, possible. It is not that they “never accepted Christ to begin with” as I have heard so many say. It goes back to the parable of the four seeds. Note that three of them did take root (truly accept Christ), although two of those three could not endure to the end. If that ratio is an accurate portrayal of humankind, that tells us that only 1 out of 3 that initially accept Christ will endure to the end. That should frighten all who call themselves Christians. Remember when Christ says to the person who says, "Lord, Lord" ; "Depart from me I never knew you"? Not everyone who believes that they have Christ as their Savior will actually inherit salvation.

One last consideration is the verse that says that nothing can take us from the love of Christ. Rom. 8:38-39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It would seem from this verse that we cannot lose our salvation as nothing can separate us from Christ. Note though that while this covers every possible thing outside of us (any other creature), it does not include ourselves. Nothing outside of ourselves has the right to separate us from Christ. We cannot be forcibly taken from His hand by anything outside of ourselves. However nowhere is it indicated that we cannot remove ourselves. That is because we can, if we so choose. We always have a choice. That is called free will, and God imbued it in all of his intelligent creation. The angels chose to either stay with God or go with Satan. Adam and Eve chose and brought sin into this world. We can choose to accept the gift God offers, or we can refuse. God knows which we shall do, as He is omniscient and knew from the beginning where we would be spiritually in our lives. That is why He could choose or elect us from the beginning of time and predestine us to be conformed to His will. It was because He foreknew that when offered the free gift and the choice, and have the faith extended to us to believe, we would choose Him. We may be born spiritually dead and be incapable of saving ourselves apart from Christ's blood, but we are not intellectually dead, nor do we lack a will. Some say that being spiritually dead, we cannot choose and therefore God chooses us (and this would have to be arbitrarily), but they forget that we are a trinity. Our spirit is not the only part of us. We also have a will and intellect that determines our course. People who are not believers are still capable of committing good or evil acts. Our will determines our choice to accept or reject God's offer, and our choice was foreknown by God. So by His foreknowledge, He can predestine. Rom. 8:29 “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” 1 Pet. 1:2 “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ…” That is why He could hate Esau and love Jacob and elect them for His purposes from the womb. That was why He could harden Pharaoh’s heart. He foreknows and uses our own choices in His plans. Notice that predestination always has foreknowledge as its prerequisite. He predestines because He foreknows, not because He arbitrarily chooses this person or that person. If election were an arbitrary thing, there would be no need of foreknowledge. In fact, there would be nothing of which to have foreknowledge as God would be calling all the shots.

The point of all of this is to get back to the idea of fearing God. This is why we are told in Phil. 2:12 to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” If something were not required of us to obtain our salvation, we would not be told to work it out in fear. Christ paid the price for our sins, something we could not do, so we cannot be the authors of our own justification. However, to hang onto that justification so as to inherit salvation, we must work it out through patiently enduring to the end and producing fruit, and being at all times cognizant and fearful of the fact that any of us might be able to fall from grace.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Revelation 19:1-4

Revelation 19

Verse 1-3 “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.”

Now that the whore has been destroyed, all of heaven praises God and rejoices. One of the greatest sources of great evil and corruption has been annihilated. God has passed judgment, a true and righteous judgment upon the whore. So many people think of God as love and cannot conceive that He could be so violent, but they forget he is also a righteous God. How unjust would it be to leave Babylon unpunished or with just a slap on the wrist for the horrors that she has perpetrated upon the world? She has gotten exactly what she deserves for what she has done. No more will she plague, torment, and torture God’s people. Nor will she lead people away from God. She is no more, nor will she ever rise again. Her destruction is permanent. The smoke of her destruction will go up for ever. Whether this is literary license in indicating the finality of her destruction, or whether God has the smoke rise from her forever to remind people of her evil and the consequences of evil, is not clear. Either way, she is gone.

Verse 4 “And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.”

Now the twenty-four elders who sit before the throne, and the cherubim who surround the throne fall down and worship God saying "amen". "Amen" is a word used to indicate an affirmation of what has come before and emphasizes the conclusion of whatever it is to which is being said “amen.” It has no real definition in terms of meanings. It would be the same as our saying “so be it” after something. The elders and angels are putting the period on the sentence that has passed upon Babylon and praising God for doing it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Revelation 18:22-24

Verse 22-24 “And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.”

There will no longer in Babylon be heard the voices of musicians (think rock music, television, movies, etc.), nor will there be any craft practiced. When it comes to craft, think not only occupational crafts, but also practicing craft as in the idea of witchcraft. Nor will there be anyone producing food. The millstone would refer to the processing of food, so not even farming or processing of food will be going on. A nation cannot live without food. There will be no people marrying and having families, nor will even a light burn in any household. Nobody will be left alive to do these things. Or if there are a few survivors, they will have to leave Babylon for the millennium, as the land will be uninhabitable. Notice that the people making the money off of Babylon’s trade are the great men (the rich, powerful, and/or famous) of the whole world. These are the people who own the banks and big companies. They are the members of the Illuminati and their minions. The black arts that these people practice to keep this power and wealth (given them by Satan) is what has deceived all the rest of the nations on earth. Through their evil worship of the whore, they have killed God’s prophets, saints, and everyone else who has opposed them. The whore is behind all of this, on behalf of Satan.

The fact that the land is uninhabitable for any human is confirmed by prophecies in the Old Testament.

Is. 13:17-22 “Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children. And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.”

Here we find some possible confirmation that Babylon’s enemy is a Mid-Eastern league. The Medes are the present day Iranians, who do hate America. Babylon here is also referred to as the glory of kingdoms. That description would certainly apply to America. It states that Babylon will never, ever be inhabited again. This shows that this is not a fulfilled prophecy, but one yet to come, as this cannot be said of the Babylon in Iraq, even though the ancient city itself is in ruins. There are people there right now, specifically our troops. This prophecy is yet to be fulfilled, so we know it speaks of the destruction in God’s wrath to come.

That the people of Babylon will not survive this, even perhaps the remnant who have not taken the mark is found in the next chapter of Isaiah. Is. 14:22-23 “For I will rise up against them, saith the Lord of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the Lord. I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of hosts.”

No one will ever say that they are a descendant of the "Babylonians" of this nation as there will be no remnant, no son, and no nephew. The name of this Babylon will be forever cut off.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Revelation 18:11-21

Verse 11-19 “And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing. And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. and every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea stood afar off, And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.”

The merchants of the earth weep and wail over Babylon’s destruction as nobody bought material goods from them like she did. Her merchandise runs the gamut of every luxurious item that exists. Even slaves are mentioned, and we know America's history of slave trading. She not only trades in men's lives, she trades in men's souls. America proselytizes her pagan religions with rampant abandon. Notice that it is the sailors and companies of ships that see her burning. That goes along with the idea that she is literally surrounded by waters, as it is those on the sea who actually see her burning. This again makes a case for America being Babylon. The act of casting dust on the head while weeping and wailing in mourning is an ancient custom that shows the deepest distress and sorrow.

Here Babylon is referred to as a city. The city in America that is associated with financial wealth is of course New York City. It is the location of Wall Street, it is the location of the U.N., it is a port city wherein the ships come to buy and sell merchandise. In the space of one hour, this city will be destroyed. As the original Babylon was a city/state, not just a city, so too N.Y.C. represents our entire country in this respect. It is our largest and most important city as far as commerce goes. It is also, as already mentioned, the headquarters of the present world government.

Verse 20 “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.”

Now the company in heaven are told that they can rejoice, for the vengeance for which they had been long awaiting has finally come to pass. One does not rejoice in the destruction of human lives, but in the destruction of the evil that was being perpetuated through this whore Babylon.

Verse 21 “And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.”

It would appear that this angel is giving a metaphorical object lesson to the heavenly watchers of these events. He picks up a stone similar to a huge millstone and throws it into the sea comparing it to the way Babylon will be destroyed - with suddenness and violence. It is interesting that this particular act is used, as this is the same type of destruction that God would have a person who hurts a child to suffer. He would have a millstone hung about their neck and have them drowned. We are God’s children and Babylon is charged with making God’s children suffer. That this is metaphorical is clear as she does not drown, she is burned, but the violence with which He has her suffer is the same type of violence.