Wednesday, March 4, 2015

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Why Netanyahu Matters to Christians

For once, we’re not going to turn to scripture for this story. In fact, we’re not even going to turn to other articles on world news despite the fact that it’s about Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel, the United States, and the world.

Instead, we’re going to talk about God’s Will. This is being written the day of the speech that Netanyahu is to give before the US Senate, two weeks before the big elections in Israel. I wanted to get this story out ahead of time because it’s important to understand what it all means while it’s happening rather than using retrospect to point fingers or say, “I told you so.”

Let’s take a closer look at what’s happening in the world, in the Middle East, in Israel, and how it all effects the way that Christians must view the world going forward.

Looking for Meaning in Events

Looking back through history, many will point out that every generation since before the time of Yeshua believed that they were in the end times. There have always been events that compel people to say, “this is it, this is the end.” We are no different and the rise in the number of people who think that we are living in the end times today is likely due to the establishment of the internet and the proliferation of blogs, YouTube, and digital ministries around the world.

No. That’s not the case. Whether we are in the end times or not is up for debate, but the events happening around us are different. Things are not the same as they were last generation or ten generations ago. Today, we’re seeing knowledge increase at rates that are astronomically faster than a decade ago. We’re seeing the ability for the Gospel to spread to the world in ways that are exponentially more efficient in reach than just a few years ago. We’re seeing a falling away as spoken of by Jesus Christ and whether or not this is the true prophetic falling away, we won’t know until the man of perdition is revealed.

When people ask me what’s different now, what makes our time more likely than in centuries past when people were seeing signs of the end times, I point to Israel. For nearly two millennia, it was very unlikely that the Jews would return to their homeland and have a nation. The concept was obtuse to most through World War II when Jews were being hunted and were continuing to be dispersed throughout the world in fear.

Then, a miracle happened. Anyone who does not see the establishment of Israel in 1948 as an absolute God-driven miracle isn’t reading their history books properly. The establishment of the nation of Israel and the taking of Jerusalem as provoked by attacks from all sides in 1967 pushed the start button on God’s prophetic calendar. As we approach the 70 year anniversary of the establishment of a Jewish state, we are seeing Bible prophecy unfold. However, we must see it with a proper understanding.

Prophecy is Not for Predicting. It’s for Recognition.

One of the biggest mistakes that surrounds the discipline of eschatology is that too many people look to Bible prophecy as a God’s way of alerting us of the future. Of the thousands of prophetic verses in the Bible, very few of them have been for this reason. We are incapable of determining when anything in God’s plan will take place. However, we are definitely able to use the prophecies as a way to recognize when events are unfolding.

Prophecy has always been about recognition. It allows us to recognize the times that we’re in, often followed with instructions about what to do when those events happen. They also allow us to recognize truth in retrospect. For example, much of the Old Testament talked of the coming Messiah. When Yeshua fulfilled these prophecies, it was validation that He was foretold so that we could recognize beyond a shadow of a doubt that His ministry, death, and resurrection were indeed exactly what He calimed them to be.

Since so much of Bible prophecy speaks of Israel and discusses what will surround the nation at the end times, we will be watching for those events. Nearly all of them we impossible until 1948. Now, they are very possible. It could happen tomorrow. It could happen in 1000 years. We don’t know for sure what God has planned for Israel and the world, but we can watch what happens and recognize when they clearly start coming to pass.

Israel’s Role is Central to the Bible and Prophecy

It’s often challenging for Christians to understand that Judah, Jerusalem, and the Jewish state of Israel are the centerpieces of the Bible. It’s not just the Old Testament. The New Testament is loaded with prophecy regarding Israel and the nations that will come against her.

It still surprises me that people seem to forget that Yeshua was Jewish. Between replacement theology, dispensationalism, and straight up antisemitism, so many believers want to take Israel out of focus and make it about Christians. It’s as if the cloud of deception has made many feel like the things that happen to Israel and the Jewish people are completely separate from what happens to the Church. This simply isn’t the case.

Christians, Jews, and everyone else will be dramatically affected by the events that are to take place in the Middle East and particularly in Israel. It may seem like it’s a world away and we may want to make secular claims that it’s all about oil, but the bottom line is this: the Holy Land has been and always will be the driving force for every world event and will have an affect on every human being on the face of the earth. This is why Netanyahu’s speech before the Senate and the elections in Israel are important to everyone.

Win or Lose, Netanyahu Matters

If I’m forced to make a prediction, I believe that Benjamin Netanyahu will remain the Prime Minister of Israel beyond 2015. If you’re reading this after the election, you can make whatever judgment you’d like about this statement.

It’s important to remember that the Will of God is what will determine the election. This is His world and we’re on His calendar. The events of the end times will unfold exactly as they’re foretold and we cannot influence them. However, it’s through our God-given free will that we can definitely influence what we do as individual believers.

I do not believe in cheering for one side or another. Ideologically, I support Netanyahu’s strong stance, but his ideology can only set the stage. If he wins, then we can assume the relationship with the United States will be strained as long as Barack Obama is President of the United States. If he loses, then we can assume that US-Israel relations will improve for a time.

We know that the world will go against Israel in the last days. The United States has always been the strongest supporter of the Jewish state, so we can speculate that a broken relationship could be the beginning of the end. On the other hand, if someone who views Israel with a more favorable heart comes into office next year, then we could see a resurgence in friendship and cooperation between the two nations.

What does all of this mean? What does Netanyahu’s speech and the coming election have to do with Christians? It all goes back to the prophetic calendar. Now more than ever, the unthinkable is happening. It wasn’t too long ago that the notion of the United States turning its back on Israel was obtuse. A decade ago, a rift between the two countries was nearly inconceivable.

Today, it’s not only possible but it seems to be quickly heading in that direction. Win or lose, Benjamin Netanyahu has influenced the direction of the world. As believers and diligent watchers of the events of the world, we must watch what plays out and see how it fits in with Bible prophecy. As I said before, the end could start tomorrow or it could be a very long time before we see it play out. Win or lose, we must watch Israel and the Middle East to know how we are to act here in western society.

Prophecy is dangerous because it can take people down conspiratorial rabbit holes and distract us from our mission as Christians. However, it was put in the Bible for a reason and we would be wise to watch it carefully as it all plays out.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Exposing Why the Pre-Trib Rapture Doctrine will Deceive Many

In debates over the end times, I’ve often been told that denouncing the pre-trib rapture doctrine takes away people’s hope. I always counter that it gives them the most dangerous, misleading false hope of all and prevents believers from fully embracing the Bible today.

We’ll discuss some of the arguments and counterarguments in a future post, but first it’s important to take a very close look at the reasoning behind the creation of a false doctrine like the pre-tribulation rapture. There is already a very blatant attack on the Biblical worldview taking place all around us. Most deceptions are designed to keep people from exploring faith in the first place, let alone embracing Yeshua as our Lord and Savior.

The adversary is not satisfied with deceiving most people. Those who fail to heed the call within their hearts to accept Christ are easy for the adversary to claim, but that’s not enough. He wants as many people as possible and the most satisfying souls for him to steal are those who were on the right path but who fell away at the last moment. He wants Christians. He wants Jews. He wants as many as he can take and the pre-trib rapture doctrine is designed specifically to go after those people.

What the Pre-Trib Rapture Doctrine Does to Christians

Very few people want to go through tribulation. It’s in our human nature to avoid pain, suffering, loss, and trial. This is the primary allure of the pre-trib rapture doctrine. It tells Christians that they will not be around when the real evil sweeps the planet. It makes them believe that they are not going to face the tribulations and trials set forth for the rest of the world. It makes them feel special, protected, and means that they have nothing to worry about.

First and foremost, the last portion is true: we have nothing to worry about. However, it’s for different reasons than what the pre-trib rapture doctrine teaches. With true faith, we have absolutely nothing to worry about in this life because we are not of this world. They can persecute us, torture us, and even kill us, but maintaining our faith to the end will assure us of salvation and eternal life. Technically speaking, we really have nothing to worry about at all as long as we’re prepared to face whatever evils are thrown at us, which is one of the reasons that the pre-trib rapture doctrine is so dangerous.

What happens to someone who is firm in their belief that they won’t face tribulation when the tribulation comes? When extreme hardship beyond anything they’ve experienced is put in front of them, they are much more likely to question their worldview. To make things worse, we can assume that alternate worldviews such as Panspermia, big bang evolution, unification of religion, and world governments will be promoted to Christians experiencing the tribulation when their pre-trib rapture beliefs are shattered.

If someone tells you to close your eyes and open your arms because they’re going to give you a wonderful hug, you’ll be shattered emotionally and physically if they punch you in the gut as hard as they can. If you know that the punch is coming and you’re prepared with your eyes open and your stomach muscles tensed, you’ll be able to recover from the punch more easily.

Regardless of what you’re expecting in the same situation, if it is an actual hug that comes, you’ll be fine. I’m not going to go down the road that many who oppose the pre-tribulation rapture go down by saying, “expect the worst and if the rapture really does come earlier, you’ll be good either way.” That’s leaving a sliver of a possibility of a pre-trib rapture open and that’s simply not the right way to see it.

What the Pre-Trib Rapture Doctrine Does to Jews

An argument can be made that the pre-trib rapture doctrine is designed specifically to keep as many Jews as possible away from the faith. Think about it from their worldview. They are the chosen people and many have been raised to believe that obeying the laws is their path to eternal life. Some have doubts; more Jews are coming over to belief in Yeshua as their Messiah every day.

Now, once the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine is introduced, they can see the situation as giving them the best of both worlds. If their Jewish faith is correct, they only need to keep doing what they’re doing. If the Christian faith is correct, the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine tells them that they will have time to convert once the tribulation starts.

In essence, it would make logical sense to a Jew who is living by Torah but who is considering the possibility of becoming a Messianic Jew to continue to deny that Yeshua is their Messiah. With the pre-trib rapture perspective, they’ll have time to correct their worldview and follow Yeshua once they see millions of Christians taken away.

The pre-trib rapture perspective allows them to hedge their bets. It tells them that if their Jewish teaching is correct, they win. If their Jewish teaching is incorrect, they’ll have the opportunity to switch sides and still win. The pre-tribulation rapture doctrine gives them a valid logical reason to deny the truth today and accept it tomorrow if things pan out. In their minds, the deception means that they can’t lose.

When tribulation comes and the Christians are not raptured, it will reaffirm their erroneous beliefs. Thankfully, they will be shown the truth and many will convert and accept Yeshua at the last hour, but the deception is made to keep them from seeing the truth now. We don’t know for certain what happens to Jews who die without the knowledge of the truth, but there’s a case that can be made that they will face the second death.

What’s Next?

Now that we have an idea of why the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine is so dangerous, it’s time for further exploration. As part of the Compassion and Fear Series, we have produced a few articles on the subject:

We have also started talking about it in our video series. Here’s the first:

If the doctrine itself is a deception, Christians must inform others so that more people are prepared.

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Yumz #forizzle

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Basics of Presuppositional Apologetics

At first glance, Dr Jason Lisle looks like a youth pastor. Hearing his voice for the first time, one might believe that this soft-spoken scientist would not have the persuasive powers to be a strong presuppositional apologist.

The reality is that there may be nobody you would want by your side if you were trying to bring someone into a Biblical worldview and help them to open up to receiving the Holy Spirit. His arguments are sound and very powerful.

As we’ve discussed in the past, we believe that presuppositional apologetics is the closing step that we can do as humans to help others open up to seeing the truth. Evidential apologetics might be the way to get your foot in the door, but strong presuppositional is the best method to get it fully opened.

There is nothing we can do to “save” people or to even fully open their eyes, but we can point them in the right direction and cast enough doubt on their current worldview to get them pointed in the right direction. In the video below, Lisle goes over the basics and makes a strong case for exploring the art and science behind presuppositional apologetics more fully.

(This article is part of the Compassion and Fear Series)

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Please Subscribe to our Christian YouTube Channel

The world of Christian social media is both refreshing and endangered. The internet is a wonderful tool for spreading the Word, but it’s also the easiest way for the forces of evil to spread their word as well. We want to fight back.

Our experience outside of Biblical study resides in the world of digital marketing. We use search and social to help businesses grow; it’s through the blessings of these skills that we’re able to fund the online presence of our ministry. As such, we have always wanted to apply these skills to spread the real Word and promote the Kingdom of God.

Our Facebook page and Twitter profile are robust and easy to utilize. Videos are more challenging and time consuming, but we are committing to do more on YouTube because it is such a powerful medium for spreading the Word. To this end, we ask that if you like what we post and believe that the messages we put out are proper for spreading the Word of God, that you subscribe to our YouTube Channel (and follow us on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter, of course).

We will be making more videos, focused on world news from a Biblical worldview as well as modern Bible teachings (with a link to the traditional). Our hope is to revive the Judeo-Christian Church podcast, which fell off of our routine because of the effort. Hopefully, we will be led to do more with it in the near future, but for now the shorter videos that we’re producing regularly will hopefully be pleasing to our Father and helpful to you.

It isn’t easy to create a voice that can be heard through the cacophony of social media, but we aren’t currently called to reach the masses. We feel that we must do what we do to reach the individuals. If that changes, we will follow where we’re led, but today it’s about reaching those who the Holy Spirit brings, one soul at a time.

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Christians Must Show Our Faith BY Our Works

Being a Christian is not about being sinless. It is at the core of our belief that Yeshua died on the cross for our sins and that as sinful creatures, we are incapable of being “good” of our own accord. However, we cannot use Grace as a license to seek sin.

Most modern churches teach that it is not of works but rather faith that determines salvation and I would never teach contrary to this. However, how we live and the choices we make have an impact on others. More importantly, it is how we establish our place in Heaven after the judgment. That’s something that modern churches often do not preach and it’s a primary cause to the degradation of morals within and outside of the church body.

Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.James 2:18 (KJV)

It is our works, the activities that we perform, the decisions we make, the way we touch others – this is the way that we are to express our faith and promote the Kingdom of God. All too often we see Christians who pray, go to church on Sundays, but who are otherwise indistinguishable from everyone else. You sin, I sin, we all sin… the only difference between us and them is that we believe in our Lord and Savior. Otherwise, there’s no real difference, right?

That is not the case. Let no man tell you that you can earn your salvation. The scripture makes this very clear.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)

With that established, we cannot earn our salvation but we will be judged based upon our works. The things that we do in this life, the people we touch, and the faithfulness we display all come into play on the day of judgment.

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.Revelation 20:12 (KJV)

We have a duty to our Father to obey His Word and be true to our Lord and Savior. This truth starts with faith. In fact, faith truly is enough for us to be saved from the “second death.” From there, we then express this faith by being the vessels of light, the beacons that others can see. By being a beacon, we have our greatest opportunity to move others to inquire, to seek, and to join us in faithful love of our Creator.

Most are taught that faith is the goal. While we don’t need more than faith, that doesn’t mean that we can’t do more with our faith. It’s what we do with our faith that can truly impact others.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why Christians must View the Islamic State as a Worldwide Threat

Word from Syria is that 150 Christians have been kidnapped by the Islamic State. This is not a war isolated to the Middle East. We must be viewing this as a war against Judeo-Christianity itself.

Unlike any other threat that has faced Christians in the recent past, the Islamic State possesses traits that make them impossible to leave up to the governments of the world alone. They are scattered, but not disorganized. They have ever-changing borders, but more importantly they have affiliates outside of their established borders that mean any organization can sympathize and participate.

“The threat posed by the IS exceeds in complexity anything we’ve dealt with since the Cold War.”John McLaughlin - USA Today

Their growth is happening in the shadows, meaning that it is extremely challenging to keep them from growing dramatically. Nobody knows how many people are coming over to help them fight, but we have the opportunity to help those who are fighting on the other side.

SOLI founder Matthew VanDyke is one of a growing number of outsiders who are going to join those in harm’s way in the Middle East. Based in New York City, his organization is currently operational in Iraq to assist Christians in the fight against ISIS.

It is common for Christians to wonder whether or not they are called to participate. To what level one participates is a personal question ranging from constant prayer for those who need help against the Islamic State all the way to the people who are called to join the fight directly and take up arms. Throughout the Bible, God’s people were called on to go to war. The Islamic State represents a danger to the Judeo-Christian world in ways that people often underestimate, which is why there are many who are feeling the urge to do something about it.

We pray for those who are fighting, those who cannot fight, and those who must face the threat of the Islamic State directly. Most importantly, we pray that all who are faced with persecution or death will remain true to their faith and keep Yeshua as their Lord and Savior, even unto death.

Here’s a video detailing our stance on the matter:

We have no way of knowing what groups of people are giving their allegiance to the Islamic State. They do not need to be directed by the group. In fact, they don’t even have to be in contact with them at all because the message is clear and does not require formal training or equipment. Anyone can do the bidding of ISIS by attacking synagogues, killing Christians, or simply sharing their message of hate to anyone who will listen.

The world is growing disenchanted with the secular solutions that the governments of the nation are offering. Our ignorance to the ways of the Islamic world had us cheering on an Arab Spring that yielded worse conditions for the people. These were not general uprisings against oppression that the media billed them as but rather the installation of religious governments that have sent their respective countries into chaos.

I’m not here to lay blame on the situation, nor am I here to ask Christians to have anything but love and compassion for our friends of the Muslim faith. This is not a call to fight Islam. That type of war is a different one for Christians, a battle for the souls of those we can help through the Word of God by telling of true salvation through our Lord and Savior, Yeshua.

What we’re talking about today is whether or not Christians should get involved with the physical battle that is taking place in the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia where the Islamic State and their affiliates are drawing swords against our brothers and sisters. We must assume the United States, the UN, or a coalition of forces will not get involved beyond aistrikes and arms. It will be a long time before we see boots on the ground, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Just as the Islamic State is getting new fighters every day from foreign land, I believe that some people are being called to become defenders in these lands. So, the question is this: should outside Christians join the fight? To me, it’s a personal question. It comes down to prayer and feeling the direction that the Holy Spirit gives us. If you have the means and the calling, I see no reason to not participate.

Even if you’re not able to fight, we must pray for them in their quest to protect our Brothers and Sisters caught in harm’s way. This is only going to escalate. It’s not getting better. Every report of a town taken back from the Islamic State is burying other stories that show gains they’re making, people they’re killing, and strength that they’re gaining. Pray for the people. Pray for the warriors fighting them.

Pray for the Christians who have heard the call and taken action. This is not a problem that governments will solve. We cannot sit back and do nothing. Spread the Word.

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