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Politics and Political Action on the Eve of the Tribulation

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Question #1:

Hey Bob, maybe you can help me out. I've been reading scripture and I've come across a difficult passage in Matthew 5:13 where Jesus talks about us being salt, but if salt loses its taste how can it be salted again. Which seems like a rhetorical question because right after he says the salt is worthless and thrown on the ground. So my question is does this verse imply an impossibility to regain saltiness? I'm concerned with this verse because my testimony has been shot through a sinful lifestyle. And I can't see any other reading this verse than an impossibility to regain saltiness. Maybe I'm reading it wrong. I'd love any help you can provide.

Response #1:

It's important to remember that our dear Lord loves us so much that He died for all of our sins, and that all of our sins are therefore forgiven whenever we confess them (1Jn.1:9). Believers have eternal life, and every day is "the day of salvation" (2Cor.6:2), a day of opportunity to grow closer to Him through learning the truth, to walk more closely with Him through applying that truth to the troubles we face, and to help others do likewise through ministering that truth.

If Jesus only used perfect people then there would be no ministers of the Word at all. Our Lord's remarks about salt are indeed important and of course absolutely true. As believers, we want to be "salt" and we want to have as much "savor" as we possibly can. But this is an analogy. We are not salt but human beings. Salt is either good or bad. If it becomes bad, it has no further worth. That is, it is true, a powerful incentive to never totally lose our savor. But what would that mean? It would mean to fall away from faith entirely and to become apostate. At that point, we would be cast out – because we would, by our own choice (not His), no longer belong to Him.

Unlike salt, our level of "savoriness" as believers is never static. We are either becoming more potent in our spiritual growth, progress and production or less so. When it comes to the truth, more is exponentially more and less is exponentially less; but something is better than nothing (unless that "something" is not really the truth, in which case nothing is better than that "something"). As we grow and progress, we become more useful to our Lord in all manner of ways, and, as in the case of salt, being a preservative for our neighborhoods, communities, and nation is one of those ways. But the savor is never static. Perhaps the least productive thing we can do is focus with guilt on opportunities lost or mistakes made in the past. If we do that, we are definitely handicapping our growth, progress and production today, whereas we are to use "today" for the opportunity it is (Eph.5:16; Col.4:5; cf. Matt.6:34; Phil.3:13), not looking back (except to the day Jesus died for us and we were saved), and not looking to tomorrow (except for the day of our Lord's return and our regathering to Him).

"Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another."
Mark 9:50 NKJV

As you can see from the second sentence, in the analogy, not only are believers "salt" themselves (as in Matt.5:13), but "salt" is something we are to have within us, corresponding to the truth believed and thus available to the Spirit for guiding and empowering us. It is that truth and our attention to it through faith that determines our personal level of "savoriness" at any given time. So this salt analogy is not at all meant to make us feel despondent about our past failures (and everyone has past failures) but to encourage us to take the challenge of growth, progress and production seriously so as to become useful to our Lord – and to be a benefit to all around us because of the spiritual status we achieve through this holy process which acts as a preservative for ourselves and those around us (see the link: "Blessing by Association").

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Thank you for your response Bob I see its more of an apology to teach a spiritual truth, we are like salt but we are not salt. We all have degrees of savor and we should work on increasing our degrees of savor. That makes sense. It's more of an encouragement to grow and don't be stagnant. Ok thank you Bob I really appreciate it.

Have a great rest of the week.

May God bless you and your family,

Response #2:

You're very welcome.

Please remember that we all sin (Rom.3:23); that we all stumble (Jas.3:2); and that we all need to confess our sins (1Jn.1:5-10). Looking backwards is never a good idea in the Christian life (Phil.3:13), except rarely just so we make sure "not to make that mistake again". But once the Lord has forgiven us, it is a little bit ungrateful and lacking in faith to want to tell Him, in effect, "I really doubt you told me the truth when you said you forgave me", or similar. We are called to joy in the Lord; if we are being disciplined, we do hurt, but even that can be for joy when we realize that we are being corrected as sons and daughters by a Father who loves us more than any human parent ever could – He gave up Jesus unto death for our sins.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Philippians 4:4 NIV

Yours in the dear Lord Jesus who loves us more than we will ever know this side of heaven.

Bob L.

Question #3:

I was wondering does God always appoint leaders good or evil? I just read this; could you help? I found this you can type in this and you can find more what I read if you like. thank you God Bless.

Does God appoint evil leaders? If it’s true that all world leaders are appointed and controlled by God, then we might expect to see better collaboration among them, as if they were all led by some united force, a force that surrounds them and penetrates them, and binds the galaxy together. There should be no world wars, because all leaders should agree on what needs to be done. They should say things like, "We all feel that Sweden deserves punishment, because they’re all a bunch of godless peaceful heathens. We should bomb them and instate a Christian theocracy!" Instead, our leaders squabble over everything. But if there is no single source motivating them all, then we would expect them to disagree. Why does God appoint evil leaders? Why not just appoint righteous ones? Being the benevolent bloke He is, you would think that God would only appoint benevolent leaders. After all, it’s supposed to be man and Satan who desire evil, not God. So why the evil leaders? While Christians sometimes admit to struggling with this question, the suggestions they offer usually fall into two main categories: 1) God does it to judge a people or nation, and/or 2) God does it to bring about an even greater good. The first possibility is that God wishes to serve up a heaping spoonful of wrath upon some well-deserving people or nation. Of course, God could always just send another plague or rain down some fire and brimstone, but sometimes He prefers to give power to some shithead who will do His dirty work for Him. Christians sometimes cite the kings of Babylon and Assyria as examples. God used them to punish the Jews, but for a good reason. And just to show that God is fair, He later punished Babylon and Assyria for punishing the Jews… even though God appointed these kings and made them do it, it was still wrong of them to do what God made them do. But getting back to the point, the Jews were punished for a reason. So should we assume that God always gives power to evil leaders so they can dole out His punishments? I think this is an easy argument to make, because there is no country that is free from sin, and so a case can be made for why God would want to punish any nation. But if there’s one group that God historically deems more worthy of punishment than any other, it’s the weak and defenseless. God seems hellbent on making sure these kinds of people are punished. Point being, evil leaders don’t seem to discriminate according to God’s will, attacking only those who most deserve it. They attack where they can win, in order to expand their borders and garner more prosperity and security for themselves, their families, and their people. The next suggestion is that God is attempting to bring about some greater good, such as saving souls or bringing about the end of the world. GotQuestions.org cites the persecution of the early church as an example. Clearly God didn’t think the Christians deserved to be punished, but He punished them so they would scatter, which would help spread the gospel. But by the same logic, we could argue that God persecuted the early Mormon church, forcing them from town to town so their gospel could spread and grow as well. Is God persecuting all these religions to help them grow? Or is it just typical for new religions to be persecuted by competing faiths? Ultimately, it’s impossible to prove that any evil leader isn’t somehow bringing about some event that helps God in His mysterious plan, or that God isn’t punishing a nation that may have deserved it. Must we follow the orders of evil leaders? Imagine being a Christian under the Third Reich, when a young Jewish boy comes knocking at your door, begging you to hide him. What is the Christian thing to do? Do you risk your life to hide him? Or do you sell him out to the Nazis? Being a good Christian, you consult your manual, which says… Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority…~ 1 Peter 2:13 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves… For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. ~ Romans 13:2-5 If you’ve already resigned yourself to accepting that evil and suffering must exist for a reason, then it could logically follow that God appoints evil leaders to make sure such evil continues. If God appointed only peaceful leaders, there would be a lot less evil, negating its purpose. Recognizing that 1) evil is integral to God’s plan, and 2) God elects and controls our leaders, and 3) to "rebel against the authority" would mean "rebelling against what God has instituted," you logically conclude that God wants Christians to support the plans of evil leaders. Ergo, the Christian must surrender this boy to the Nazis, who "do not bear the sword for no reason." Hiding the child would only hinder God’s plan. Christianity sometimes leads us to some scary conclusions. Scary Conclusions So does God appoint evil leaders? It would appear so, yes. While this question alone certainly doesn’t disprove God’s existence, it does point out many unsettling contradictions in His behavior: He’s benevolent, yet gives rise to evil leaders; He controls all their minds, but they still disagree; He orders us to do good, but then orders us to do evil through them; He punishes nations and people who don’t seem to deserve it, while granting victory to evil tyrants; He leads His followers to vote for one leader, while He appoints the other; and He manipulates elections and leaders, but not in such a way that it’s obvious. If there is no God, then we are democratically electing our leaders without spiritual interference. Some leaders do attempt to prey on the weakest and most defenseless, because doing so helps them to meet their own needs. And this is how nature often works, the strong prey upon the weak to make themselves stronger and ensure their own survival.

Response #3:

God is perfect. His plan is perfect. Everything that has ever happened in the history of the world and everything that ever will could only happen because He has ordained it so. Why has God ordained things to proceed in the way they do? For the salvation of all who would be saved; for the spiritual growth of all who would respond to Him; and for the provision of the best possible chance to be saved for everyone else – and to show by everything that happens that if they are not saved is only because they wanted no part of Him. Everything else that happens in this life is merely background, necessary background, but background nonetheless.

(24) The God who made the world and everything in it, He is Lord of heaven and earth. He does not dwell in man-made temples, (25) nor is he waited on by human hands, as if He needed anything from us. He is the One who gives us all life and breath and everything else. (26) From one man he created all the nations of mankind – that they should come to inhabit the whole face of the earth. He fixed and determined the specific times and extent of their habitations, (27) to the end that they should seek out this God, that they might go in search of Him and so might find Him – for His is not far off from any one of us.
Acts 17:24-27

The devil tried to do away with all divisions between people in order to squelch faith and truth in a one world state. That was the tower of Babel. God's solution (ordained before the world began) was the division of humanity by language and also by nation so that there could be no complete control of the world by one evil person or one evil movement. God did this to preserve genuine free will in the choice to accept the offer of salvation in Jesus Christ. For the same reason, God provides law and order – for freedom's sake. During the Tribulation, these provisions will be abrogated as antichrist controls the world. At that time, there will be only one state, and worshiping the one true God will be illegal. At that time, many of us are destined to be martyred in the Great Persecution. The world of the Tribulation will be the most wicked and evil it has ever been – with the exception of the two thirds of the Church who stay true to Jesus Christ.

Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a reproach to any people.
Proverbs 14:34 NKJV

And so it is no wonder that the world will receive the worst government it has ever received – that of the beast, antichrist, the devil's son. This principle is often seen to operate in history (albeit to a lesser degree): people receive the government / leaders they deserve. We may not be able to look into the heart of a single person (and much less a whole nation of people), but if the government is good, if the leaders are good, then this is may be an indication that they are decent and humble and law-abiding (even if not Christian); if they are instead arrogant and immoral and unruly (and especially also if they are hostile to the one true God), then He is likely to give them what they deserve: bad leaders and a bad government.

The solution to all these problems therefore is not political; the only solution is spiritual. If the people is rotten, working one's heart out for "good candidates" will not change anything. Change comes from the inside out, both in individuals and in nations. The only thing a believer can do is to commit to being part of the solution and not part of the problem – and the only way to have a positive effect is to be a part of the remnant according to grace, to be "salt" for the nation: to be a person committed to God, to serving Jesus Christ, to learning and believing and applying the truth of the Word and to helping other do the same. The more Christians like this in a nation, the better off it will be. God can bless a nation even with a leader who is incompetent; God can easily curse a nation whose leader is a genius. He gives each nation "what they deserve" according the character and caliber of its citizens, and especially of its believers. That is why it is so sad when believers get into politics, of whatever stripe or flavor. If they spent that time instead on growing closer to the Lord, they would actually be contributing to their country's blessing; whereas, even getting the best leader elected (whatever that might mean) will not be able to prevent God's cursing if that is what He has in mind.

What is really happening in this world, therefore, is not what appears to the eye. The spiritual dimension is really what is important, and God demonstrates this and teaches this lesson through various types of leadership as with all things. During the Millennium, the world will receive the best government it has ever had – Jesus Christ Himself ruling from Jerusalem. And yet, people will not appreciate it. At the end of a thousand years, when the devil is released, he will have no problem organizing the vast majority of the world's population to rebel against this perfect government and then to attempt to storm Jerusalem. The end of these rebels will be swift; they will receive the destruction they deserve. This is something to think about. Christians, therefore, should not even be terribly concerned about their leaders/leadership – beyond praying for them regardless of who they are or how good or bad they are perceived to be (1Tim.2:1-2). Christians should look instead to their true Leader, the "prince leader of our salvation", our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the One we should be following, leaving the earthly politics to those who are of the earth.

Yours in the dear Lord Jesus whose return we breathlessly await.

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hello brother, I was wondering about your thought on this matter. Thank you, God Bless

Franklin Graham (Courtesy/BGEA): Billy Graham was a pastor to presidents and certainly addressed the moral slide in America as far back as the 1950s, but Franklin Graham seems to be wearing his dad's mantle on steroids. The once prodigal son is not shrinking back from hot button cultural and political issues—he actually pointed to Jezebel Scriptures in the book of Revelation to describe the condition of America and is speaking bluntly about transgender bathrooms—nor does he mince words about Islam. Franklin Graham even dared to rebuke President Obama at a time when other Christian leaders are embracing Chrislam. Why is Graham so bold? Because he sees an Islamic storm coming against America. Although he's not a Pentecostal spiritual warrior who prays in tongues and binds devils, he has strong discernment and enough boldness to go toe-to-toe with the principalities and powers that have targeted Christians for destruction. Franklin Graham is saying what most politicians, pastors, news pundits and others refuse to say: Islam is not a religion of peace. Do Peaceful Religions Do This? "For Muslims, peace comes only through submission to Islam. When they speak of peace, they mean submission to their religion," Graham says. "Worldwide, tens of thousands of men, women and children have been slaughtered in the name of Allah, under the bloody flag of Islam." Graham made it clear to Obama, who appears at best a Muslim sympathizer, that followers of a peaceful religion do not cut off the heads of innocent people in the barbaric fashion the world has watched recently. He told Obama that believers in a peaceful religion do not kidnap 300 young schoolgirls as Boko Haram did in northeastern Nigeria in April and reportedly sell them to men to be sex slaves. Hoping Obama would get the point, Graham told him men who practice a peaceful religion do not detonate bombs on an American street during a marathon race to kill and maim innocent people. He said no one who belongs to a peaceful religion would even consider hijacking jet airliners and flying them into buildings occupied by thousands of innocent people beginning their workday, as happened in this country and in this city on 9/11. "Mr. President—no peaceful religion would tolerate, let alone practice, female circumcision, require a woman to have her husband's permission to leave her home and take up employment and restrict her ability to receive justice in the case of sex crimes," Graham says. ""Mr. President—a peaceful religion would not condone and allow a father to drown a daughter in a swimming pool in front of the family in the name of family honor because she might have stayed out late in the evening with her boyfriend, Mr. President—why haven't the 3.5 million Muslims in North America rejected this gross, barbaric and despicable behavior by their fellow Muslims on American soil?" Obama Gives Islam a Pass. The righteous are as bold as a lion (see Prov. 28:1). Franklin Graham fits that description in his unrelenting campaign to expose Islam for what it really is—and for confronting an American president who some are starting to wonder is sleeping with the enemy. In fact, Graham told Fox News that Obama "only knows Islam" and therefore fails to use the term "radical Islam" when discussing Islamic terrorists. "His mother was married to a Muslim. His father was a Muslim," Graham said during an "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" interview. "Then she married a man from Indonesia. He was raised in Indonesia. Went to Islamic schools. I assume she was a Muslim. So his whole life, his experiences have been surrounded by Islam. He only knows Islam. And he has given a pass to Islam." Graham is not afraid to speak directly to Islamic terrorists, either. Graham is pointing to Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:10 and Isaiah 45:23 in his latest response to Muslim terrorism. "The evil of ISIS really shouldn't shock us—it is fully in keeping with their ultimate agenda of hastening a final apocalypse," Graham wrote on his Facebook page. "God's Word tells us that there will be a final battle one day, but it will result in the defeat of Satan and all those allied with him. One thing is for sure—one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Amen. IHOPKC's Mike Bickle last month called for believers to support and pray for Graham as he has "boldly yet tenderly taken a biblical stance in warning America in relation to Islam, gay marriage and several other important subjects." I'm making an even more fervent call for intercessors to rise up and pray for Graham day and night. The enemy would like nothing more than to silence this mouthpiece for God who is confronting and pushing back darkness in our generation. Likewise, those who subscribe to anti-Christ agendas are raging against his voice. Saints, let's make it a priority to lift up Graham in prayer, wage spiritual warfare against the attacks on his life and bless his ministry. And while you're at it, pray for President Obama too. Amen?

Response #4:

As a reader of Ichthys, I'm sure you know that my own preference is to have nothing to do with politics. In my opinion, if a Christian (leader or otherwise) thinks things are in a bad way in his/her country, he/she should realize that only God can help. Whom does God help? He certainly helps nations/countries/peoples where there is a true "remnant according to the election of grace" (Rom.11:5). So what's the best way to change things? The best way, the only real way is for every believer to start putting the Lord first through spiritual growth, spiritual forward progress, and spiritual production for Jesus Christ. That is what makes a difference. Political action accomplishes nothing. Generally speaking, countries/nations/peoples "get what they deserve", both in terms of leadership and also in terms of conditions generally. God blesses the righteous, but those who have no use for Him should not expect blessing. My main problem with Christians using politics and political/social action to try to "change things" is that this approach resembles what the Pharisees were doing, namely, trying to whitewash the outside as if that made a difference to the inside. But just like a believer can only really change from the inside out, the same is true of countries/nations/peoples. Just as in the 1920's prohibition in this country could not impose any true moral change, so also it is the case today, whatever the particulars of the political/social crusade. We can perhaps change the way things look and the way things are done on the margins, but that won't change the hearts of those who are compelled to obey. Only God changes people . . . when and if they are willing to be changed. I think if all the Christians in this country who were committed to the "social gospel" on the left or to "family values politics" on the right spent their time and energy instead seeking the Lord and His truth, the results would be true blessing and revival in a marvelous way. In my reading of these things, devotion to political and social action usually comes about when Christians are bored and looking for "something to do" . . . which means that they are not doing what they should be doing in the first place: growing spiritually and helping others do the same.

I'm not going to criticize individual brothers and sisters. There may be a place for individual ministries which get the unbeliever's attention in one way or another by saying and doing controversial things, and there may be scope for a believer who is called to it to defend the faith in the public square as part of the ministry the Lord has called him/her to. For Christians generally, however, becoming involved in this sort of thing is not helpful; rather it is entirely distracting from the main business at hand. We are supposed to trust the Lord for His solutions, not go out and make up our own in areas where we obviously have no control.

Here are some links on this which may be helpful:

Political Action versus Biblical Christianity

Christians should stay our of politics

What does the Bible say about War, History, and Politics?

Politics and Christian involvement

Stay out of Politics

Obeying constituted authority

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Folks, This is where we are heading. Where will we stand?

http://www.newswithviews.com/Daubenmire/dave392.htm

Robert,

Below is a statement that I would like to know your opinion on. We are both Viet Nam veterans and we were sent to supposedly defend our country. Do we as Christians have the same obligation to defend our country and ourselves against all the gay, racist and other so called hate crimes that our leaders are labeling us with if we don't agree with them, when we defend ourselves as a Christian nation? I am very conflicted about this. I would like to hear your thoughts.

History will record that at no time in world history were a group of pastors more complicit in the advancement of evil than the current crop of man-pleasers currently filling America's pulpits.

Thanks,

Response #5:

I'm not a Vietnam veteran – I'm not even a "Vietnam era veteran" (went on active duty one week after the choppers lifted off the embassy roof in Saigon, so I don't even rate a "mustard and ketchup" ribbon). However, I am proud of my service, and I also honor that of anyone who signs up and puts themselves in the potential of going into harm's way (I do have a surgically reconstructed ankle to show for it all – friendly fire, so to speak).

Handing over sermons is scary. Then again, substituting sermons for Bible teaching is even scarier (in my view), while scariest of all is attending some place where they give sermons and considering that "nod to God" as a somehow sufficient response to what our Lord did in dying for our sins. I have my issues with the contemporary church visible. Faulting them for insufficient political involvement, however, is certainly not one of them – would that they were out of that pointless business entirely (rather than being goaded into getting more deeply involved in that spiritual quicksand as the blog and quote suggest should be done).

As to the degenerate and degenerating state of our country and world, well, what were we expecting? The end times are coming in fast, and we can be sure that things will get a whole lot worse until they get even much worse. If there is a benefit in charting the development of all of these negative trends it is in coming to understand just that, and in helping us to prepare for the real testing to come:

If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?
Jeremiah 12:5a NKJV

We are being prepared for a real spiritual marathon.

What bothers me about the quote you include here and also the link you added is that they are both substituting emotion for scripture. Of course we are upset; of course we want to be able to look ourselves in the mirror. This sort of thing, however, is just what we find in contemporary American action movies where the purpose of the first two thirds of the film is to justify the extravaganza of gore the hero unleashes on the "bad people" in the last third. Trouble is, that is not reality. Nor is it biblical. Peter, Paul and John, the very apostles who counsel accepting the dictates of secular authority, were all persecuted by that authority (and executed by it, so it seems). Yet they gave the Word of the Lord that we are to respect constituted authority even so. As someone who has studied these things in some detail, I think I can say with some confidence that as bad as things may be perceived to be today in our country (and may well be), they don't yet hold a candle to what was going on in Rome when Paul said "be subject to the governing authorities" (Rom.13:1) and Peter said "honor the king" (1Pet.2:17). And if that is a concern, as I say, not to worry: things are going to get much, much worse.

The question is, of course, what do we believers do about it? Or, better put, what does our Lord want us to do about it? Does He want us to fix the world? Do we read in the Bible that we can cancel out the Tribulation through our efforts? Will we do battle with antichrist and expect to prevail in such a struggle waged with earthly means, whether political or military? What I read in scripture is this:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 NASB (cf. 2Cor.10:4)

We have been placed in this world to fight a spiritual struggle, and that struggle involves for each and every one of us spiritual growth, spiritual progress, and ministry to our fellow believers. That is how we fight the fight and serve the Lord. To the extent that we engage in physical warfare of any sort, political or military or anything in between, at the very least we run the risk of being completely distracted from what is really important:

No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
2nd Timothy 2:4 NKJV

I firmly believe that this question is more important now than ever before. We can see throughout evangelical-dom the substitution of "fun" for substance. Getting involved in causes is "fun" (for most people) and it gives them a sense of self-righteous justification too. It also always involves them in sinful behavior – but that is deemed "OK" because "the end justifies the means". People like the guy in the blog link portray such involvement as being "red hot" for the Lord whereas in fact it is the epitome of lukewarmness. Why? Because it is doing a questionable thing (to put the best face on it) in a wrong way to the detriment of doing right things in the right way as Jesus would have us to do them (i.e., grow, progress, help others do so too). Only spiritual growth and progress is really going to prepare any believer for the horrors of the Tribulation; and of those who are not prepared something like half of them are going to fall into apostasy. From my reading of these things, I would not be surprised to find that antichrist will co-opt many of these types into his own movement (proclaiming someone else to be the beast – maybe even the despised opponents on the other side of the "culture war"), and those who are spiritually unprepared on the one hand and addicted to political action on the other will be prime targets for being seduced.

God is all powerful. He could fix all this in the blink of an eye. And indeed He shall – at the battle of Armageddon. Question is, how does He want us to be spending our time, passion and resources in the meantime? Trying to fix something that cannot be fixed in the devil's world by utilizing the devil's means is only playing the devil's game. That is bad enough. The real tragedy is that by making bad bargains of this sort the believers in question are not only forgoing eternal reward; they are warring against their own souls. Do we really want to throw a monkey-wrench into Satan's political gears? Getting cracking with our own spiritual growth, walking closer day by day with Jesus Christ, and helping others do the same through the ministries He leads us to is the way to do it – and in truth it is the only way to do it.

Here are a few pertinent links:

The Role of Politics in Satan's World System

Political Action versus Biblical Christianity

What does the Bible say about War, History, and Politics?

Politics and Christianity

Should Christians ever oppose state authority?

Christians should steer clear of politics

A Tribulational Code of Conduct (in CT 7)

Code of Conduct for the Tribulation

Christian Conduct during the Tribulation

A Brief "Code of Conduct" (in CT 4)

The Tribulation: Timing of, Preparation for, and Conditions in

Preparing for Tribulation

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

I hope your summer has been going well. I need to ask your advice on my general situation. I'm still kind of conflicted over Christianity. I know I can't just stop being Christian. I couldn't, even if I tried. I know what I know, and I don't think there's much that can undo that. My lifestyle, or the lifestyle that I would like to have, is at odds with my beliefs as a Christian. As you can probably guess, I lean hard left on most issues. I am an orthodox Christian though. I believe everything that the Bible teaches. I'm just kind of at a stalemate. I feel like I can't, in good conscience, go forward in my spiritual walk when my affections are divided. At the same time, I can't get too involved in the circles that I want to be in. So I'm stuck in this type of purgatory. I'm not sure how to explain to you where I stand. I'll just tell you where I would stand if I were not a Christian. First of all, I would probably a Communist/Marxist or something like that. I would fully support gay rights. I would be entirely behind abortion. I'd be feminist. Basically, the whole nine yards. Christianity is restraining me from these things. I'm on the outside looking in. I know this is a bad place to be in spiritually. I don't think I'm past the point of caring, otherwise I wouldn't be emailing you. I just don't want to change. I've been thinking that maybe I could live out my beliefs and still be a Christian. It wouldn't be ideal, but it's not like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing now either. The only thing that worries me is the sin unto death. Do you think that some of my beliefs are bad enough that I could possibly be in danger of that?

Thanks,

Response #6:

I don't think you need to beat yourself up about having opinions. We all have opinions. It is important for Christians to disassociate their opinions from what the Bible has to say. For example, biblical truth A or B does not necessarily mean that political opinion X or Y is correct . . . or incorrect. In fact, when it gets to the point of actually engaging in politics, chances are that whatever a believer gets behind is going to end up being wrong, if only slightly, and therefore eventually going wrong, usually dramatically. The devil doesn't need much of a crack to wedge in all manner of vileness. So I always counsel Christians to stay out of politics – even when and if they are getting involved on account of "opinions" with which I personally might otherwise mostly agree. The best thing – although very difficult – is to keep one's opinions to oneself. After all, isn't it the Lord's opinions which really matter? I know that you are interested in issues of justice, and that is laudatory. However, in the history of the world a great deal of horrible injustice has been ladled out (through politics) in the name of "justice" (however construed; cf. Prov.14:34). But if we are living for Jesus Christ, we should realize that what He wants is for person A and person Z to be saved, even if person is A is all the way over on the right-wing and we don't like that, or even if person Z is all the way over on the left-wing and we don't like that. After salvation, the Lord wants A and Z to get along as Christians, but mostly also to grow up spiritually and then advance on the high road to Zion, eventually getting to the place of helping others – and each other – through ministry.

We many never abandon our opinions, but over time we will come to see more and more that it is really the Lord who is control of what is happening in the world, and that our best chance to have any impact in "changing things" is through being "salt" – since every nation gets what they deserve from the Lord based upon how many believers there are, how good a job they are doing for Christ, and how they are being treated. In short, our opinions (mine included) are of no great account – but they can get us into trouble if we fail to consider that Jesus is Lord regardless of our opinions or if we let our opinions lead us down false and dangerous paths. The more we grow in Christ, the more the nagging of those opinions on our hearts will decrease, and the better we will be able to keep them in check for the common good of the Church of Jesus Christ – which consists of all races, nations, languages, genders . . . and (sigh) political and other opinions.

LORD, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I don’t concern myself with matters too great
or too awesome for me to grasp.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.
Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Psalm 131:1-2 NLT

Yours in Him who is our Master in all things – whose opinion in all things we respect – Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bob L.

Question #7:

Dear Professor,

A friend asked me a question today and I thought I would forward it to you. I understand that you are very busy and for this reason please answer them at your convenience. For my friend's sake you can put it ahead of the other set I sent you.

With constant prayer for you and in our Lord,

The question is about the consequences of sin often going past just one generation and we discussed two passages and I wanted to ask you about these.

Jeremiah 31:29 (NASB)
29 "In those days they will not say again, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
And the children’s teeth are set on edge.’

NIV SB: 31:29 The parents … set on edge. Repeated in Eze 18:2. This was apparently a popular proverb that originated in a misunderstanding of such passages as Ex 20:5 and Nu 14:18, which teach that sins can have a negative effect on descendants. In the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, many people felt that God's hand of judgment against them was due not to their own sins but to the sins of their ancestors.

Why would Jeremiah's prophecy be based in a misunderstanding of the passage? Since everyone receives his due, why is this point made in verse 30? On the other hand, I'm not sure how to understand Numbers 14:18 – in the Exodus passage it is specified that the words refer to "those who hate me", but no such specification is made in the book of Numbers.

Ezekiel 18 NIV SB: 18:1–32 A word to silence those who complained that they were being made to suffer for the sins of their ancestors rather than for their own sins. That sin and guilt are not always purely individual but often have a communal and thus also a cumulative dimension is the pervasive testimony of the OT (see, e. g., Ex 20:5; Jdg 7:24; 1Ki 14:14–16 and notes; see also Ex 34:7; 1Ki 22:16–20; 23:26–27; 24:1–4; 2Ki 21:10–15; Isa 5:1–7; Jer 1:15–16; 5:1–17; 17:1–4; Am 2:4–16; 5:12). But when the Jerusalemites charged God with injustice, as if they themselves were not guilty, that called for a sharp corrective word—they had not turned away from the sinful ways of their ancestors after the manner specified in vv. 14–17, 27–28. This justification of God’s way with Israel stands at the center of the series of messages found in 13:1–24:14 (see note on 13:1–23).

I find it difficult to reconcile the two views – that on the one hand everyone receives their due for the sins committed and yet that sometimes children suffer for the sins of their fathers. The whole chapter emphasises the individual responsibility, but I cannot understand why does God in the first place say that the consequences of sin can span over a few generations.

So this issue still bothers me. I would appreciate any brief comment on the above two verses and the points made in the notes. I don't know how to reconcile the two views. On the one hand we all receive our due, on the other God does say that He visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generations (Exodus 34:7). If it is specified "of those who hate me" (Deuteronomy 5:9), then it all seems to be even more difficult to understand – since those who hate God will receive their penalty anyway, so I'm not sure why this should be mentioned in the context of punishing fathers' sins.

My friend suggested that any sin has temporal consequences – parents' sinful ways always in one way or another affect their children, but I'm not sure this is what is meant here. As always, your input will be most appreciated.

Response #7:

Always good to hear from you, my friend! I am happy to answer, though I hope you find the answer sufficient since it is far more succinct than the question:

My understanding is simply that sin and rebellion do compound with time collectively but are always trumped by a humble response to the truth individually: God deals with us as individuals but He also deals with groups/associations/nations collectively, especially Israel, His chosen people. Negatives are only passed on from generation to generation in cases where each succeeding generation wants nothing to do with the truth. It is only in that sense that the proverb is true, and that is the effect of the prophecy too (specifically expressed or not). If anyone turns to the Lord and comes to trust and follow the Lord, love and blessing are the order of the day. Manasseh was a terrible king whose negative influence continued long after his death to the detriment of the entire nation, but even he found individual mercy in God's eyes when he repented and returned to the Lord with all his heart.

I think that we may find all manner of examples of progressive evil in the history of the world; the phenomenon is perhaps more clear in the case of Israel because of her special relationship with the Lord requiring her to be held to a higher standard. And we can also see throughout history the principle of the collective consequences for such "evil over time" falling upon everyone concerned, even those who may seem to us to be relatively innocent (the 20th century in particular seems replete with such examples); here too this is more so the case with Israel and for the same reason: Her special collective relationship with the Lord.

Herein we see the principle of the remnant where the believers are the "salt" which preserves the group/association/nation. Israel had become so bad in God's perfect eyes that even three of the most outstanding believers Ezekiel can imagine would not be sufficient to ward of destruction (Moses is not mentioned no doubt because he did stand in the gap all on his own and prevent the people being destroyed on a number of occasions – a mark of his truly exceptional status).

Keep up the good work!

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Dear Professor,

Thank you for a prompt and helpful reply. There is one more question I wanted to ask about Exodus 20:5. Some take this verse as referring not to God's punishment and discipline, but rather to the consequences of sin.

Inevitably, sin has spatial and temporal consequences which go beyond the sinner and often affect others. It is in this way that God's words about "to the third or fourth generation" are often taken. Parents sin and children, even if innocent (or as innocent as they can be, for example before they reach the age of moral accountability), find themselves at the receiving end of some sort of calamity.

From what you wrote I gather that you don't take these verses as referring to such undeserved suffering which befalls someone by association, but rather to generations who continue in their ancestors' unfaithfulness.

These two circumstances are often not distinguished and I think it's important to make this distinction to fully understand these verses. I still struggle with it, since mentioning "the third and fourth generation" may seem redundant when one considers what Exodus 24:16 or Ezekiel 18:20 say - that everyone will receive their due. If God said it, He had a reason for it, I'm not yet entirely sure what it is.

In our Lord,

Response #8:

Hello my friend,

Yes, as I say, I find the two principles not incompatible. I think the language in Exodus 20:5 (I . . . am a jealous God, visiting . . . on those who hate Me) is difficult to explain away as anything other than direct intervention by the Lord. Why the third and fourth generation? Perhaps because that is where the line of arrogant resistance will end. There are certainly consequences of association, good and bad, but a line of descent which is deliberately "hating the Lord" throughout will certainly come in for greater negative scrutiny from Him than those who are merely disinterested. Each of these will be a set of individuals making individual decisions and being dealt with as individuals, but a strain of arrogant defiance passed from father to son would tend to distill evil to a dangerous degree if not kept in check this way (in my appreciation of it).

I don't know if this finally gets to your question or not; do feel free to write me back about it.

You are in my prayers day by day in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Dear Professor,

I think I get it. It's not an easy matter, as evident in the plethora of conflicting interpretations out there. If God visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Him, then it means that the iniquity of the fathers has become the iniquity of the children also and scripture provides numerous examples of gross sinfulness spanning for long periods and often only deepening with time (cf. Judges 2:19, 2 Kings 17:14). It seems children might have often imitated their fathers' ways and so the iniquity carried on, which is why the verse says "of those who hate Him". I suppose to a degree the issue of God's plan and free will is present in this verse - God knew who would believe in Him and who wouldn't and every person was positioned accordingly in time and space.

This of course doesn't remove individual accountability, as you wrote. I found an interesting article on this issue and although with your schedule I know you've got more than enough to read, I have to say that it's one of very few texts outside of your website that I came across in the last couple of years which I consider worth reading (http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue68.htm). This is an excerpt from it:

'Ah Lord God! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee, who showest lovingkindness to thousands, but repayest the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God. The Lord of hosts is His name; great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds; (Jeremiah 32:17-19)

Here is a Jewish interpretation of this passage: "Perhaps the strongest Scriptural support for the interpretation that ‘poqed 'avon abot 'al banim’ [visits the iniquities of fathers on sons] applies only to children who continue the sinful ways of their father has been brought from Jeremiah 32:18-19. There, in two consecutive verses, the prophet cites God's attribute of cross-generational reward and punishment immediately followed by the principle of individual accountability."

I did find it quite striking that "the prophet cites God's attribute of cross-generational reward and punishment immediately followed by the principle of individual accountability". We know the scripture doesn't contradict itself, but it's still a useful observation how the harmony of these two seemingly opposite views is emphasised one verse after another, also showing prophet's understanding of the matter, which some interpreters would have done well to take into account.

These verses have been on my mind for quite a long time now, but then they are quite complex and to be fully comprehended one has to understand the issue of God's plan versus free will, collective responsibility and individual accountability, distinction between consequences of sin and the discipline (even if, as you wrote, the two are not incompatible and often do seem to be closely linked), you also emphasised Israel's special status. So no wonder it took time. As always, I appreciate your patience.

Just one thing came to my mind - is it possible that at least in some cases the generation from which the evil originated would be given a life long enough to witness their grandchildren calamity as a result of this pattern of sinfulness? It does seem that often death was a result of turning against God, but I thought that maybe there could have been occasions when this applied.

In our Lord,

Response #9: 

Thanks for this. As to your last point, it seems reasonable to me. Scripture "means what it means", and in this sort of case that means that prophecies of all sort apply where they apply. People who are all het up against "double fulfillment" should consider that God knows everything and has planned everything.

Compare:

But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
John 19:36-37 NIV

With:

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.
Revelation 1:7 NIV

If a prophecy or principle applies, then it applies, even if in our diminutive human logic the applications don't seem to be of a piece. So, yes, I would imagine that, indeed, this situation has occurred, probably many times. Good point!

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

Why is it necessary to refer in your website to interpretations as "conservative" or "liberal" which would imply some sort of filter being used prior to one’s approach to the study of the Bible making such filters super-ordinate to the Bible itself?

To me there is simply "understanding," "misunderstandings" and greater and deeper understanding which only comes from one’s life experience, reflections and meditations, and intellectually honest discourse with others.

Response #10:

Dear Friend,

I think if you are a regular reader of Ichthys you will be able to affirm that these two terms are very infrequently used on the site, and when they are they invariably refer to trends in Christian theology, not contemporary American politics. The use of these terms to describe theological bias as tending more towards the traditional and literal interpretation of scripture on the one hand, and more towards a humanistic and subjective interpretation on the other is not something I personally invented (indeed, there are entire denominations, such as the Conservative Baptists, that employ this terminology). My use of these terms is guarded, inasmuch as am cognizant of the fact that some might (wrongly) want to infer a political application from these terms (and this website is apolitical). However, there are times when these are the precise words to communicate the difference described above. That does not mean, however, that I am endorsing one or censuring the other. I would not, for example, really wish to bless all groups, individuals and approaches which might rightly be deemed "conservative" in theological terms with a pronouncement of correct understanding of the truth – far from it. Conservative hyper-Calvinists, just for the sake of an example, are wrong about many points of doctrine (almost everything involving eschatology), and yet the adjective is certainly applicable.

I think you will find if you examine the instances at Ichthys where these terms have actually been used that they have indeed been employed in a measured way without stigmatizing anyone's political preferences or unfairly characterizing any school of interpretation. I would certainly be happy to discuss any particular use in the actually postings which you feel is in anyway inappropriate.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #11:

Dear Robert,

In event Christian empowered to draft state legislature is it biblical to allow for death penalty for crimes like murder?

Blessings,

Response #11:

It's an interesting question. My reading of scripture encourages me – and encourages me to encourage others – to stay out of politics entirely. This is not ancient Israel (whatever country in the world we are talking about, yours or mine). Believers will always be in a minority, and God will deal with the country in question largely on the basis of the number and, even more importantly, the quality of the believers who reside there in (and how they are treated). That is the "salt" principle of blessing by association. Nations get the government they deserve (which explains why there has been so much bad governance in the history of the world). There are plenty of examples of good government where there was a death penalty, and of course the Mosaic Law has the death penalty. Further, Paul and Peter both commend obedience to the authorities (the Roman empire in their day), and there was indeed at that time a death penalty for the most serious crimes (even though it was a pagan state). I point these things out merely to demonstrate that believers should not be upset if their nation has (or does not have) the death penalty. Law is only as good the as the people entrusted with carrying it out at all levels in any case, and the quality of life in any country from the standpoint of justice will most certainly depend on the quality of the remnant of believers dwelling therein (and how they are treated). One final thought: we live on the cusp of the Tribulation, and when antichrist comes to rule the world (which will happen in fairly short order), the death penalty will be assessed on Christians who refuse to acknowledge him as God and who refuse to worship him. So, again, it's not the law so much as it is the regime that is carrying it out.

Please see the links:

Political Action versus Biblical Christianity

History, War and Politics

Christianity and Politics

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Bob,

Thanks for the reply, But what I needed to know was as Christians can we endorse capital punishment for horrendous crime?

Response #12:

The Bible has capital punishment for serious crime under the Law, and the apostles enjoin us to be responsive to higher authority which, in their day, most certainly had capital punishment:

For the one in authority is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
Romans 13:4 NIV

"The sword" is metaphorical for capital punishment.

As to endorsement, as I say, I would never wish to suggest that any Christian should ever put him or herself into a position of endorsing anything since that necessitates involvement in the political process. I don't see any crisis of conscience (based on what I have already shared) for a Christian who does become a politician (e.g.); it's just that I don't personally see that as a path I would wish to encourage any Christian to take – because we are really here to serve the Lord in this world, not to try to change this world. Trying to change the world is the devil's game, and it always slows down a Christian's spiritual progress (at the very least).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hi Bob,

Surprisingly, I'm seeing a movement among liberals to abolish incarceration for life. I am completely against this, because someone who has killed someone else cannot be trusted to be in free society anymore. To gamble with the lives of innocent people is, in essence, to abdicate your authority over the lives of those innocent people, and such a government must be abolished.

On the other hand, I am conflicted about the death penalty. Genesis 9:6 gives a commandment of the death penalty for all the descendants of humanity, but strictly speaking, it is not necessary today to kill a murderer in order to preserve human freedom, now that prisons (which were popularized in the 19th century and thus were unavailable to most human societies) provide a means of preventing murderers from murdering others. More importantly, life imprisonment gives a means for expiating the innocent, which the death penalty does not. While it is true that God will surely sort the righteous from the wicked, we should not treat death, which is an irreversible condition, so lightly so as to justify the possibility of killing the innocent.

Yet, at the same time, even if we were to abolish the death penalty, I do not think that the Genesis 9:6 commandment should be considered negated, given that self-defense does necessitate the use of deadly force sometimes.

Sincerely,

Response #13:

Blessedly, following Jesus as we should means less rather than more involvement in these worldly issues. If we lived in or were trying to establish a theocratic state, we would give these issues great attention. Certainly, it's not wrong for Christians to have opinions. However, when these lead to action and political involvement, it always distracts (even if the cause is "good" and the rationale "correct").

The other way to regard these trends is as "signs of the time". Be prepared for much worse as the end draws closer. For, "For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" (Lk.23:31 KJV).

In our dear Lord who died for all of our sins, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Bob L.

Question #14:

I have been up all night studying the seven churches of revelation. I know we are currently in the Laodicea: "The Era of Degeneration" (1882-2026). It's funny that the date is 2026 due to the fact that the U.N. is geared towards starting Agenda 21 in 2027 which is completely about population control.

Response #14:

That's very interesting. I would guess that the UN will be involved in the beast's machinations from very early on, but I can't do more than opine on that because there isn't anything specific about it in the Bible (obviously).

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

I read your webpage about YHWH's relationship to other Hebrew words and appreciated how informative it is.

On the outside chance that you might be interested in a specific free e-book of mine, I am providing a link to it:

www.dr-joseph-adam-pearson.com/book.pdf

When you have a chance, give it a glance to see if it is something you might want to read carefully. I hope you find it interesting.

Response #15:

Dear Rev.

Good to make your acquaintance.

It seems to be an interesting thesis. However, as you will see if you look at the nine part Coming Tribulation series (at the link), I don't accept many of the standard (and in my view ill-conceived) traditional approaches to the book of Revelation (the Roman Catholic church, for example, is not Babylon; see the link).

Beyond all question, radical Islam is a great problem, and in my reading of contemporary events, radicalization is a trend bound to continue. More to the point, in the interpretation of the end times advanced in the series mentioned above (which uses Revelation as the organizing book but draws all biblical eschatological material into the interpretation), the rise of the Islamic world is a major driver in end times events – albeit not as is often supposed. In my reading of the scriptures, antichrist will come to power as the western world's white knight. The beast will oppose in crusade-like fashion this terrific threat you document to the rest of the world, which will seem at the time existential. As such, he will be taken to be Christ by many (and of course will proclaim himself to be such).

Therefore the problem I have with the thesis advanced by your book (admittedly I have not read the entire thing, so please forgive me and correct me if I am wrong), is that it has the potential of sending lukewarm Christians, who do not know the scriptures well, down the entirely wrong path, encouraging them to join forces with antichrist's movement to "oppose the beast", the Mahdi (or whatever he will call himself), whom the real antichrist will style as God's opponent (just as he will style himself "the Christ").

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #16:

Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

Ideally, I would like you to put all of your preconceptions to the side and do a tabula rasa reading of my work from beginning to end and make a final conclusion based on the evidence I present and carefully articulate. I think that your preconceptions are coloring your interpretations of my work as well as your willingness to read the whole thing. (Just pretend that you don't believe what you do and try it.)

Much thanks,

Response #16:

Dear Rev.,

I'm afraid it is impossible for me to pretend any such thing. I spent over thirty years working on "Coming Tribulation" and am absolutely convinced of the truth of it.

Antichrist arises from Babylon; Babylon will be at that fast approaching time (most likely) the U.S.; the Mahdi will lead the entire Islamic world against the west; antichrist will be the "savior" who "fends off the beast" and eventually conquers him and sets up H.Q. in Jerusalem, at which point the second half of the Tribulation, the Great Tribulation, will commence, and the beast will be revealed (for those who have not paid enough attention to scripture so as to already know full well that this "savior" is really antichrist).

It's no small thing for our fellow believers to be confused on this important point – and many will be deceived, and that will lead to their damnation.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Brother Robert, it has taken me a while to get here but I have finally settled everything in my heart and in my spirit regarding the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation. I am trying to increase my prayer time and my study time. I am also trying to memorize every Psalm that I can for worship purposes. I am spending the next year (if it's the Lord's will) studying and praying at least three hours a day. I am also going to start fasting again on a regular basis. I am currently studying your complete Tribulation series and then I am going to study the Fall of Satan again. Can you please tell me what you pray in order to drive out all fear regarding the future events?

Love you in the Lord! I look foreword to your wise counsel.

Response #17:

Good to hear from you. I sympathize with you in the point that when someone like yourself really does do due diligence in studying about the end times, and realizes (as Christians today should realize) that the advent of those difficult times is coming quickly, and that we may very well be called upon to endure them, then the reality of the level of trouble to come may well seem daunting. Fear, of course, is never appropriate because we know that our Lord is all-sufficient for everything we shall ever have to face:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4 NKJV

No doubt for that very reason so many of us seem to be walking through a continual "valley of death-darkness" now, precisely so as to acclimatize us to dealing with suffering, trouble, and threats, all of which things will only intensify during the Tribulation.

The people of Israel during the Exodus were, with a few well-known exceptions, certainly not spiritual giants, as later events proved. But during the ten plagues and during the threat posed by Pharaoh and his army at the Red Sea, whatever was going on in their hearts, we do see clearly how that the Lord delivered them without any harm to them whatsoever. The Exodus is a type of the Tribulation (and Pharaoh a type of antichrist), and so we are well within our rights to conclude that just as the Lord protected the children of Israel so He will protect us. For that reason alone, namely, our faith in our Lord and His superintendence of us, we have absolutely no reason to fear. This, of course, is not the stuff of "little faith", but the stuff of strong, mature faith. The solution to all doubt, fear, worry and anxiety is always just this: the developing of an ever stronger faith, learning to deploy it correctly and effectively, and then doing so regularly and consistently. The tests and troubles that are coming upon us now will, if properly coupled with both spiritual growth in taking in and believing the Word and aggressively applying it to every test and trial we face, prepare us adequately for whatever will come.

In anticipation of this ultimate deliverance, your joy overflows, though at present it may be your lot to suffer for a time through various trials to the end that your faith may be shown to be genuine. This validation of your faith is far more valuable than gold, for gold, though it too is assayed by fire, ultimately perishes. But your faith, when proven genuine in the crucible of life, will result in praise, glory and honor for you at the glorious return of Jesus Christ.
1st Peter 1:6-7

After all, God is not the problem. We see how He protected the children of Israel – how He has always protected those who belong to Him and especially those who are walking closely with Jesus Christ. We are the problem – a potential problem, that is, if we are not able to appropriate and appreciate that same protection by accepting the reality of it and trusting Him in all the dark corners of the valley of death we may find ourselves traversing then and now. We are almost certainly not going to "enjoy" the Tribulation; on the other hand, there is nothing wrong with anticipating our successful negotiation of those days of trial in the power of God and in the truth of the living Word our Savior Jesus Christ. For those who do prepare and commit to coming through with colors flying, the opportunities to glorify our Lord and to earn top rewards which will be blessing to us for all eternity are immense. That is true whether we see Him return with our own eyes or have been chosen to glorify Him with a martyr's death at the hands of the beast.

By faith [Moses] abandoned Egypt, not have feared the anger of the king (i.e., Pharaoh, a type of antichrist). For he grew strong by seeing the One who cannot be seen (i.e., by keeping his mind's eye on the invisible Jesus Christ).
Hebrews 11:27

So my advice is ever the same. Keep growing. Keep progressing. Keep seeking to serve wherever He calls you to serve. The implementation of the tactics, small and large, will be somewhat different for each believer and each situation, but this strategy of growth, progress and production is the same for all. Just as we are all somewhat different inside, so our prayer life will differ individual to individual, but the fact that you understand the issues and are committed to resolving them in a biblical and godly way says to me that you are certainly going to be praying in an acceptable fashion (please see the link: "Prayer").

So keep fighting the fight. Jesus Christ has already won the victory of victories. We are merely holding on in the trenches, waiting for Him to return and claim His crown.

[W]e who are awaiting the blessed hope, namely the epiphany of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (i.e., when we too will be resurrected in glory when He appears).
Titus 2:13

In the One whom we love more than life itself, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #18:

Just a couple of lines to say hello, hoping that all is well up there! Things here, like elsewhere in the world, are not getting any better. We have had a drought that has taken its toll on agricultural produce. Politics, as corrupt as corrupt can get. I don't know how much longer this country can take the abuses of its rulers. But then, it is a very idolatrous country, lots of Catholic influence and voodoo. I know that these remarks must sound off the chart to you, being in the US, and different from my previous communications. But I am seeing now the existence of the concerted effort of dark political forces worldwide, and it doesn't cease to amaze me how things are falling into place. The situation in the Middle East is getting more complicated now with Russia in the fray, and who knows, could this be that the destruction of Damascus is at hand? Whatever, I've give-up on reading signs in every thing I read, I am more concentrated now on spiritual growth and prayer. I need good deliverance prayer!

May God Jesus bless continue blessing you. Enjoying your writings!

Response #18:

It's good to hear from you. I applaud your spiritually prudent approach of seeing world events as trending in the direction of the end but without drawing any unwarranted conclusions from the ebb and flow. As I often note, the pace of events during the Tribulation will be dramatically rapid, even by today's accelerated standard. So anything that happens now which seems to make prophesied biblical events impossible, or anything that hasn't happened which would seem to be necessary for them to proceed, can in each case be reversed instantly once the removal of the Holy Spirit's restraint allows tribulational events to unfold (2Thes.2:6-8). I do think it is clear, however, that the trends in politics, society, technology and economies do point ever more clearly to the end drawing ever nearer with ever greater rapidity.

I'm sorry to hear that conditions in your present home are making things difficult. We have our problems here too as you well know. But the Lord allows believers who are walking close to Him to have peace, even in the eye of the storm.

Keep growing spiritually day by day – that is the only way forward. Thanks for your encouraging words, and please know that I am praying for you daily.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Since faith without works is dead shouldn't we prepare for the rough times ahead? Not as going as far as the "preppers" and stockpilers do, but wouldn't it be wise to prepare physically as well as spiritually? This will be my last email on this particular subject. Lol

Response #19: 

The people of Sodom and Gomorrah could have done plenty to prepare for all manner of catastrophes – and it wouldn't have mattered because only those led out by the Lord were saved. The people of earth before the flood might have done absolutely everything to prepare for coming disaster, but only those brought through in an ark of God's design and provision were saved. Babylon will be destroyed during the latter days of the Great Tribulation. No amount of preparation will save it or those who are "preparing" within it. Only believers who follow God's command to flee at the proper time (and not before) will be saved. During the Tribulation, many will be martyred – no physical preparation will make a person ready for that, only a close walk with the Lord will help; many will be imprisoned – if our freedom and property are taken away, what good will any effort we have made prior to this to set aside food and supplies have been? Everyone has their own gifts and everyone has to make their own decisions. I know that the Lord is with us and that while He does expect us to do certain things (as in work for a living), He has made all necessary preparations for things that are beyond our ken and our capacity. So it's a question, to some degree, of individual faith. A believer should do all he/she feels called to do in faith; we should do nothing out of fear.

"Give us today today's bread"
Matthew 6:11

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Matthew 6:34 NIV

In Jesus Christ who died for all of our sins and who has thus provided absolute eternal security for those who keep faith in/with Him.

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hello Professor, I am simply vexed right now. I guess the only thing that worries me is how should I prepare my family for the Tribulation? Do we stock up on food and ammunition? Do we do nothing? In doing nothing, do we set our wives and daughters up to be raped and murdered by marauders and soldiers? Does the bible give us clear instructions in what we are supposed to do? V/r Be blessed, your faithful brother in the Lord.

Response #20:

It's a difficult set of questions that all come down to the same question: how are believers to behave in the Tribulation? In the end, the only preparation we can count on being valuable during those dark days ahead is spiritual preparation. Also, I would avoid assuming a priori that all such bad things are going to happen to us and our loved ones (look how the Lord protected the children of Israel during the exodus, for example). Rather, we should be considering how God wants us to act. If He wants us to put up a physical fight, we should do so. If wants us to fight the fight in purely spiritual ways, that is what we should do. He can certainly take care of us no matter what may happen. On the other hand, no amount of courage, preparation, or ammunition can possibly prevent the Will of God from having its way:

There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.
Proverbs 21:30 NIV

This applies to unbelievers attacking us; it also applies to us if we are trying to do things the wrong way out of fear (or any other false motive). Elijah ran away from Jezebel – and that was the single biggest mistake of his life. He will have an opportunity to redeem himself (as one of the two tribulational witnesses), but we probably will not. So it behooves us to realize that different circumstances call for different divine applications (Eccl.3:1-8; Lk.22:35-36), and chart our course according to the Word of God. Here are the links at Ichthys where this issue is discussed as to the specifics:

A Tribulational Code of Conduct (in CT 7)

Code of Conduct for the Tribulation

Christian Conduct during the Tribulation

A Brief "Code of Conduct" (in CT 4)

The Tribulation: Timing of, Preparation for, and Conditions in

Preparing for Tribulation

As to "flee Babylon", yes, I firmly believe that those of us living in what is most likely eschatological Babylon will receive a measure of protection not present in many places around the world, and also that, if we heed the command to flee at the proper time, that it may very well be God's will for us to be among the number who survive and see the Lord return. Please see the link above. Nevertheless, with one third of the true Church destined to be martyred, we have to be ready for whatever our Lord has for us, knowing that there is no greater compliment to our faith than being allowed to glorify Him in this way . . . if that is what He chooses for us.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus whose return we breathlessly await.

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hi Bob,

Children of the 90s are in deep trouble, and I say this as a child of the 90s. There is something deeply sinister that was employed during the upbringing of children from the 90s.

According to a secondary citation from a Christian website, and I have reason to believe that it is accurate, the National Training Institute for Applied Behavioral Science states that, and I quote,

Although [schoolchildren] appear to behave appropriately and seem normal by most cultural standards, they may actually be in need of mental health care in order to help them change, adapt, and conform to the planned society in which there will be no conflict of attitudes or beliefs.

People who were trying to establish the millennium have sought to mold children to accept values on the basis of peer pressure, on the basis that peace needs to be built on a foundation of unity and not divisiveness. From a very young age in school, I have been a victim of this educational program, as my lack of desire to conform to peer pressure resulted in me being diagnosed with the very vague 'mental health problems' (although some went further and suggested that I was simply retarded). However, this new educational program extends beyond the bounds of the classroom. Children have been educated by entertainment to trust in 'collective consciousness' and a vague pantheistic basis for ethics instead of God. This lays a perfect foundation from which Antichrist can propose his solution. Please read the link for one example of this 'edutainment' inflicted upon children of the 90s:

http://www.crossroad.to/text/articles/PokemonMovie11-99.html

Addendum: C. S. Lewis, however, has a very important comment to make regarding these attempts to usher in the Millennium at the expense of the individual:

If individuals live only seventy years, then a state, or a nation, or a civilisation, which may last for a thousand years, is more important than an individual. But if Christianity is true, then the individual is not only more important but incomparably more important, for he is everlasting and the life of a state or a civilisation, compared with his, is only a moment.

Response #21:

I think your experience (and mine too) shows that the human spirit is very resilient. Communist societies have failed to produce the vaunted "new man" in spite of near total control, horrific compulsion, and extermination of malcontents. Still, your point is well-taken. By and large, young people today seem to have little or no sense of history and believe that they and their experiences are unique in all of history (which point of view is only possible if one knows nothing of history). Certainly, we can see the ground-work being laid for the sort of total control the beast will exercise. But it always comes down to individual choice, not environment. Those who follow the beast will do so out of their own free will (even if there is a measure of coercion); everyone self-selects for heaven or hell, depending on their deepest inclinations of the heart. There will be many who fall away during the Tribulation (one third of the true Church), but others will be saved and many will give up their lives rather than to submit – and I expect that a good number of this last camp will be of your generation, those who have not submitted to following pattern but have instead considered Jesus Christ their greatest joy.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Thank you for the encouragement and kind words! As it is written, 'Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.' (Proverbs 16:24). I also think that, in addition to your role as pastor-teacher, your work in Classics helps rectify the problem of knowing nothing with respect to history. I personally believe we had done future generations a great disservice by having dismissed the study of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew as 'unimportant' sometime during the early modern era.

Response #22:

You're most welcome!

Question #23:

Dr., Good afternoon. I have a couple of questions for you. Before I do, I hope that this email finds you in good spirits. I have just finished your CT series and it was excellent and has really strengthened me in the Word.

1. As it relates to current events, is ISIS a prelude to the rise of southern kingdom prior to the start of Tribulation or does Egypt have to be the main player? Right now as it stands, while ISIS is a satanic force, we are still years away from the Mahdi because his origin is from Egypt. This is what I gather from your reading. I will have to re-read that portion again and see how the current events add up to the imminency of tribulation

2. On the Mt. of Transfiguration, how did Peter know the persons with Christ was Moses and Elijah? Christ never mentioned their names and Peter was asleep when they were communing until the very end. Was it the act of the Holy Spirit who let Peter know?

3. My pastor talked about cloud (singular) vs. clouds (plural) in the bible. Can you point or explain to me why the singular vs plural. My pastor informed me the difference is singular has to do with the Shekinah glory of God or God's presence while plural means heavenly hosts.

Thank you for your time and looking forward to reading the SR series.

God bless you Dr.

Response #23:

Good to hear from you, and thanks much for your encouraging words. As to your questions:

1) Certainly, all the upheaval in the Middle East is a harbinger of things to come. However, I would not want to speculate on just how the various pieces of this kaleidoscopic puzzle will come together once the Tribulation begins. It could be that we (that is, those who have studied scripture on this matter) will have a pretty clear picture of the likely course of events in matching the Bible to what we see on the ground just before the Tribulation begins. But it is also equally possible that since events will transpire with such rapidity after its commencement that it will still not be possible to opine on these matters precisely until it does. About all I can say is that it certainly makes sense that the established power-structures, regimes, and alliances in that region (and in the entire Muslim world) would seem of necessity to first have to undergo some serious upheavals of this sort before any such dramatic realignment could be possible. The same thing goes for the West.

2) We are not given all the details by the gospel writers, so while Peter did not see and hear the entire conversation, it is certainly not impossible that he overheard enough to know for certain who they were. In Matthew and Mark's versions, our Lord is talking with the two men and that is when Peter spoke (Matt.17:3-4; Mk.9:4-5); Luke's version does not preclude him having heard much of the conversation; it merely shows that he did not see the moment of transfiguration nor the arrival of the other two.

3) I wouldn't disagree with your pastor in principle. In the singular, a cloud is often just a cloud, and that is true in the plural as well in scripture. The cloud representing the glory of God in the temple is singular – which makes good sense since it is one cloud. In the plural, sometimes (but not nearly all the time) clouds may refer to the assemblage of believers in resurrection as in the Son of Man "coming with clouds" (Dan.7:13; quoted in the gospels and at Rev.1:7). There is one exception, however, in Luke, who uses the singular:

"Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory."
Luke 21:27

These are metaphorical uses, and we see similar usage in Hebrews 12:1, "a great cloud of witnesses", for example, where the singular is also used (albeit not for the second advent). See the link: "He is Coming with Clouds" (in CT 1).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Hello Professor, what's your take on the Syrian refugees coming to the U.S. V/r

Response #24:

As you know, I make it my business to steer clear of politics.

From the standpoint of biblical application, however, the position advanced in the Coming Tribulation series to the effect that antichrist will arise as a champion crusader "of Christianity" taking on Muslim forces is seeming more and on the money as we draw closer to the end.

Hope you're well, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25:

It's getting better, not easier, just more livable for the interim. So, I need advice from you that isn't directly biblical. We are expecting our first daughter probably sometime this week, the weekend at the latest. We believers have literally just 11 years before the antichrist is given the world. That means my oldest will be 21, his younger brother 16, the new baby only 12.

As to more children, I can't see how it's good or even close to reasonable to bring them into this hell (I feel faithless in this, but how could having a mess of little children when the Tribulation starts be good?). I only ask because reproduction is a huge part of our Lord's plan, but I don't want to be irresponsible or sinning willfully anymore. What do you think?

Thank you for everything, brother, I would be dead without you and my family from my God.

Response #25:

I've been praying daily for it all to go well for you and your family. As to your question, as you rightly discern, this is a personal matter. A couple of things I can say:

1) I don't find any biblical guidance anywhere that would encourage believers (or anyone else) who are married not to have children.

2) One of the things scripture does have to say about a related matter seems to point in the opposite direction:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
1st Timothy 4:1-3 NKJV

Since children and marriage naturally go together (in God's economy, at any rate), and since it is those who are evangelizing for evil during the Tribulation who will be "forbidding to marry", it would seem to me to be very imprudent (at the very least) for anyone to suggest that married believers should be reluctant to have children, even during the Tribulation (let alone before it actually begins).

3) Conscience is important. If even after reading all about the Tribulation you feel "wrong" about the whole idea of refraining from having children, well, that says something, I would say. Making judgment calls about how to apply the truth in areas where scripture does not give direct guidance is in large part what the Spirit's ministry of guidance is all about. If you feel led not to take such drastic action, then trusting the Lord that He will work it out would be a decision I would find hard to criticize (either in principle or as a matter of practicality). Children are always described in scripture as a blessing, and I can foresee many possibilities where a large family might be a benefit in the dark times to come rather than a hindrance (Ps.127:3-5). And, after all, a point I make repeatedly when writing about the Tribulation is that the only true preparation possible is spiritual preparation. Trying to set things up materially in any way (including family planning) strikes me as an impossibility since we have no real idea of the circumstances we personally will be facing during those difficult seven years.

I'll continue to be keeping you and your family in my prayers this week, my friend.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #26:

My conscious says interference is faithlessness, I just gotta go with it. Gonna be weird having a mess of kids with all hell on earth breaking out.

I'm finding raising kids resembles more of a military operation than not. My boy is asking so many questions about Jesus Christ it's silly, and HE'S the one asking me! Today was something like: "I don't wanna eat the evil fruit, I wanna see Jesus". He understands the basics about how the behavior we choose represents who we choose to be with (i.e. What we believe) in eternity and he's putting it together that letting The Lord (through his parents) teach him Wisdom is the best way to know the Truth. It's like watching myself as a little boy only he's getting answers.

Thank you once again for all you do.

Ps. Pastor Omo's series (Bible Academy) is awesome!

Response #26:

You're most welcome, my friend.

Good observations. Children teach us a lot! They also train us by forcing us to be disciplined in everything we do. Such "military ops" prep is probably going to be very helpful once the balloon goes up – another benefit to add to the list.

Thanks for the comment about Pastor Omo's wonderful website (Bible Academy)!

Yours in Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Thank you Sir for the response and enlightenment as you have helped my reasoning concerning these things. I had a baby boy three days ago added to my girl of 3 years old. I've been thinking of having just one kid but God knows why He gave me a son too. Thinking about how imminent the tribulation, seventh seal, Great Trib. are etc. – I know it is unwise to have many children. My question is, in the US almost everything is permitted unlike here. Is it biblical to do abortion or do any family planning section because some denominations here don't encourage it or even blood transfusions. Thanks in advance.

Response #27:

Congratulations on the birth of your son! A good wife and a healthy family are most definitely gifts from the Lord, and we should most certainly be glad of them and grateful for them.

We don't know everything we should like to know about the future. People get married and have families – Christians included, and that will be happening until our Lord's return (and afterwards too). The only preparation for the Tribulation which is going to be meaningful is the spiritual preparation we do to draw closer to Jesus Christ day by day.

Medical help, such as transfusions, are means that God may provide to help us in cases of illness. Should we try to chop down a tree with our fingernails rather than an axe which God has provided? The only problem would be if we worshiped the axe instead of the God who gave it, or became too dependent on the axe when in fact God is our Provider for all out needs, even if we were to lose the axe.

As to birth control and abortion, the former is the province of individual couples – or should be. It seems inappropriate to me for the state to regulate that (though some states do), and certainly it is not the business of a church or erstwhile Christian group to pronounce on that subject (though some, of course, do). Abortion is legal some places (less available in the US than in many other countries). However, in my reading of scripture there is no doubt but that it is a sin in almost all cases, and thus to be avoided whether or not it is legal (please see the link). I don't find either subject directly addressed in scripture so these are my opinions and applications from my reading of the Bible.

And again, congratulations!

In our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

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