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To God be the glory, great things He has done

It is more than two months after our announced date, but here it is!

“The Priests of God: Unveiling the Order of Melchizedek”

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Watch out no one deceives you for many will come in my name claiming I am the Christ and will deceive many. (Matthew 24:4 NIV)

The Part-to-Whole fallacy may be explained this way: “Because part of a thing is true, it does not mean all of it is.”

The Galilean fisherman Simon was often right. In Caesarea Philippi, he hit the jackpot when Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:15-16)

Like a seed, the disciple’s confession had been planted by the heavenly Father. It earned Simon a new name. From that time on, he was “the Rock.” (Matthew 16:17-18)

Peter enjoyed a new status. God spoke to him. With that heady experience behind him, he then felt qualified to contradict the word of Christ:

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.  Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:21-22)

Peter, the Rock, rebuked Jesus; though it is doubtful Simon would have been that brash. He must have been upset by what he deemed as “the Lord’s negative confession.” Peter wanted to hear only positive. He may have assumed that since he was granted special revelation about Christ’s divine person, he received divine revelation on prophecy as well. As far as who God is, even demons believe and tremble. (James 2:19)

Sharply, the Lord Jesus rebuked the Rock. “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23)

This is how it will be in the last days: Men and women will be esteemed and placed in positions of honor. They will receive wonderful revelations, even prophesying in Jesus’ name and performing miracles. They will draw large crowds and wow their audiences, thus becoming susceptible to Peter’s error (Matthew 7:22). Not every spirit is from God, so no one should assume they always speak or act for Him. Especially when it comes to prophecy, first test the spirits, or we may find ourselves opposing Christ (1 John 4:1).

Caveat emptor (“Let the buyer beware.”) Simply because our fine preacher or pastor has wonderful abilities, and rightly identifies Jesus as Lord, it does not mean he or she may not call God a liar. To assume our respected teachers or mentors know everything, without testing the spirits, places the responsibility for being deceived on our shoulders.

In Part 2, we will examine more evidence that, in the last days, the Part-to-Whole fallacy will cause many to fall into Satan’s deadly trap.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. (Romans 1:18-19 NIV)

The road to perdition begins with a first step. The path leading to LIFE begins the same way though they are diametrically opposed. Each takes us to a destination.

Joshua was told to proclaim blessings for Israel on Mount Gerizim and to pronounce curses on Mount Ebal. Two mountains that represent two outcomes. One could stand on one mountain or the other, but not simultaneously on both.

Blessings or curses are a choice with each step. At one time, we all stood in the middle. Would we love the truth or suppress it? Would we hate the lie or delight in wickedness? Then we decided.

In Romans 1:18, initially on the road to perdition our attention is turned to those who suppress the truth by their wickedness.  Paul does not focus on the liars–not at first. It is the “truth-suppressors” who incur the wrath of God. We could write volumes about how truth is being suppressed in our universities, in the news media, in government, in business or in the halls of justice, yet we ignore suppression in the church. It is not what is said in pulpits, but what is omitted that stirs heaven’s indignation.

Placebos are not a lie, they just substitute for what is meaningful. It is common for spiritual leaders to feed entire congregations placebos. In doing so, they suppress the truth, though God has made it plain to everyone that His judgment is close at hand.

While in Florida this Spring, my wife and I visited a large retirement village. As I scanned the community’s newspaper, I asked our host if the paper had any political leanings, left or right. He said, “It is a feel-good paper.” For their readers, everything was always rosy. There was no evil to report. No lies needing exposed. No hard truth to declare. This is what we mean by truth-suppression. It’s where the road to perdition starts for the good folks.

Truth-suppressors have exchanged the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:25). Truth-suppressors set their Bible aside and reject God’s counsel. So, without a truth orientation, they are unwittingly led up Mount Ebal. The lie is a default position. If we do not stand firmly on Scripture, we will fall for the lie.

They have lied about the LORD; they said, “He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine.” (Jeremiah 5:12a)

No one who loves the truth sets foot on the road to perdition. “Christians” whose prophets prophesy lies, and priests who rule by their own authority, are living in La-La Land. But what will these people do in the end? (Jeremiah 5:31)

The substitute for the truth is where the road to perdition starts. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Beware, my friends, of the suppressors.

While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.   (1 Thessalonians 5:3 NIV)

Last January, a report surfaced from the U.S. West Coast that billionaire businessmen were building a secure underground community. Though they don’t fear God, these Silicon Valley titans of technology want to be saved from that which they do fear.

Mentally, American Christians are being encouraged to take a similar approach. They live under an illusion of peace and safety. “If there is a disaster, Jesus will keep me safe” –or so they believe. The Lord will shelter them “from” rather than his actual promise to take them “through” (ex. Isaiah 43:2-3a).

God’s desire for his servants is to obey and believe, not doubt or fear. Escaping trials is the exception for the saints, while enduring them is the rule.

In the last days, teachers of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture (PTR) position will be responsible for a great multitude of those who fall away. They paint a picture of safety that does not square with Bible prophecy. Amillennial teachers will be accountable also. Denying the literal warnings of the Bible’s prophets, with intellectual-sounding arguments, is the devil’s work. The signs of a looming day of disaster are unmistakable or why would rich people be digging big holes for condos in Kansas?

Doing nothing is not an option. Noah’s ark of refuge had to be under construction long before the deluge began. What the saints need to build are self-supporting communities around prophets in the mold of Elijah, watchmen who are sounding the alarm of impending disaster. (God has raised up contributors to this blog for this purpose.)

One of Satan’s schemes for destroying God’s people is to cause them to sin, so the Lord himself slays them as punishment for disobedience (Exodus 32, Numbers 25, Joshua 7, 1 Kings 13, et. al.). The peace and safety crowd are rebelling against God’s Word by ignoring the commands to be ready, to watch and to pray (Luke 21:34-36). They add more guilt to their sin by ignoring judgment and proclaiming disaster will not befall them. They are being deceived. They live under an illusion of safety.

 All the sinners among my people will die by the sword, all those who say, ‘Disaster will not overtake or meet us.’ ” (Amos 9:10 NIV)

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” (Galatians 5:7-9 NIV)

The Allied World War II commander in the Pacific, Douglas MacArthur, once stated he only believed 5% of what he read in his intelligence reports. If General MacArthur were still in command, he might be even more skeptical. The difficulty with copying his approach is what 5% are we supposed to believe?

Intelligence briefings for the average Joe is packaged in news reports. What we hear, read or see is communicated by people who supposedly are in the know. From whom do these journalists receive their briefings? From intelligence or official sources in high places? If the 5% rule applies to the news’ sources’ sources, then how much remains to believe? Of the little that is fact, how do we tell the difference between it and fiction? Could 5% be true or is it a lot less?

The Apostle Paul understood the negative potential of the lie. He could not stand guard, monitoring who said what to whom. Believers, then as now, had to fine-tune their personal truth detection system. Like MacArthur, each had to detect the false in every report. “A little yeast works its way through the entire batch,” he warned.

This is where we need critical thinking or skill in making distinctions. I’m not merely referring to news sources, but to what Paul was addressing. He was upset by the lack of discernment among God’s people and by the little white lies (leaven) hindering the saints in Galatia. Paul had invested a great deal of time and effort. Would it be for nothing?

Lies take good people off track, preventing them from running their race. Opportunists cut in and divert attention and energy from the pursuit of God’s call.

Many of our distractions are “contrived arguments”. They are fake news or false stories. They are made up, a ruse, a trick, a strategy to lead one astray. Like pie and ice cream to the dieter, clever-sounding arguments entice the curious to indulge themselves. The little white lie we swallow today props the door open for the family of deceit tomorrow.

In Part 2, let’s expose some contrived arguments that threaten to undo us.

God said, “You fool. This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:20-21 NIV)

A major front in the battle to “Make America Great Again” is President Trump’s plan to restore America’s industry. His campaign emphasized keeping businesses in the U.S. and bringing back good-paying jobs. If his policies succeed–and that is a big “if”–then what? If millionaires become as common as apples in an orchard, will people know what to do? Will the prosperous be wise or will they be foolish?

Jesus’ sobering words (above) followed his warning in Luke 12:15: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  Then Our Lord told a story of a farmer who struck it rich. To store his crop he built bigger barns. He had plenty, enough to live large for several years. He told himself, “Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” (12:19)

Our nation’s new leader has made his billions of dollars. It seems he would like to share the wealth. Have you considered, “What if his economic goals for the country are achieved?” Will we become a nation of fools?

One of my favorite stories about David involves his encounter with Abigail, the beautiful and intelligent wife of Nabal. In 1 Samuel 25:2, we read that Nabal was very wealthy. It was sheep-shearing time so David sent some men to nicely ask Nabal to share. Nabal was reminded how David’s army had been protecting his shepherds and sheep. Nothing was missing. The flock fed in green pastures and, in peace, laid beside still waters. Surrounding Nabal were large mounds of wool. David’s role in adding to Nabal’s wealth should have been appreciated. Instead, this foolish man insulted him.

Hearing this, Israel’s still future king angrily gathered four hundred warriors. With swords sharpened, they headed for Nabal. Their intention was to eliminate every male belonging to Nabal. Vengeance was in David’s heart (cf. Isaiah 63:4).

Without Abigail’s swift action and her abundance of food for David’s men, there would have been terrible retribution. When she met David and bowed, face to the ground, he stopped to listen. Abigail persuaded David to alter his course. What did she say? (Herein is a key to knowing Christ, bearer of the title “Son of David”.)

“May my lord pay no attention to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name is Fool, and folly goes with him.” (1 Sam. 25:25a)

Abigail knew exactly to whom she was talking and rightly anticipated what David was about to do. The man before her was righteous and also Abigail’s king. She honored David and addressed him as “lord” and “master”. As the king, David owned everything belonging to Nabal, including the man himself. Abigail had the wisdom to soothe David’s indignation and the foresight to recognize his destiny. Her blessing and humility not only saved many lives, but it also won David’s heart.

“When the LORD has done for my master every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him leader over Israel, my master will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the LORD has brought my master success, remember your servant.” (25:30-31)

Upon hearing what his wife had done, Nabal, the fool, became like stone. The night before he had eaten plenty and became drunk. Soon after he awoke the next day he was as good as dead. His demise freed Abigail from her bonds. She then became David’s bride. (Are we making the connection?)

Like his name suggests, Nabal foolishly offended his king. He was short-sighted, ungrateful and greedy. He refused to share.  Instead, he left it all behind. What a fool!

Therefore, you kings be wise; be warned you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son lest he be angry and you be destroyed you in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 2:10-12)

 

“These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14 NIV)

I love prophecy. It reveals the multitude that no one can count standing around the throne. Dressed in white and waving palms, they cried out, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:10)

A few verses later we hear who they are and from where they came (above).

The saints who received salvation “came out of the midst of” the great tribulation. Their robes had been dirty with mud, blood, sweat, tears and who knows what else. Nevertheless, they appear before the throne white and clean. It is obvious from Revelation 7, the multitude earned something no one can ever take away.

What don’t we see? We don’t see anyone with a clean robe that had never been dirtied? Everyone, regardless of nation, tribe, language or people, came out of the great tribulation. No one before the Lamb escaped the test of patient endurance.

We live in a culture that rewards participation. We receive prizes for showing up, trophies for stepping on the field and ribbons for walking in the door. Some are paid for breathing.

The attitude that in order to be fair everyone should receive the same reward has made its way into Christianity through the error of universalism: Everybody receives a crown and everybody sits at the wedding supper of the Lamb. The only requirement is believe in Jesus—and even that may not be necessary. As far as outcomes, everyone should be equal.

Prizes for participating is not how life works. The real prize for participation is simply the opportunity to achieve, to succeed or to fail—and nothing else. God rewards, but his reward is for those who exhibit faith and who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

Heaven is not an entitlement. Paradise is not a default position. If it were, it would not be worth dying for or worthy of carrying our cross. Sacrifice would be unnecessary.

We should all aspire to give our Savior our maximum. (Isn’t that what He gave us?) Yet, many leaders advocate “minimalism”. Going to church, reading our Bible, praying, maybe not all the time, but… you know. They say, “Believing in God and being a good person is all it takes.” But is that true? Intellectual assent to some facts, if that were enough, would make heaven as meaningful as a certificate of participation.

Paul encouraged believers not to merely enter the race, but run to win (1 Corinthians 9:24).

We ought to be ambitious for eternal rewards. Find out what pleases God, then do it! (Ephesians 5:10)

In 1 Samuel 16 we see David taken from watching the sheep then anointed king of Israel. Afterward, he went back to shepherding. David allowed God to orchestrate events and provide his tests (like facing a giant, fighting the Philistines, etc.). David did not just walk in the next day and demand his crown. He embraced every chance to earn his destiny, and to listen for God to teach him what he needed to know. His self-respect and confidence needed time to develop. He knew the One who called him would place him in a position to act on a kingly level. To  not endeavor to live up to his calling, would–like his predecessor–condemn him to utter failure.

Superficial, untested belief is as good as a certificate of participation. That and some folding money will buy a cup of coffee.

    Most worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him? The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise authority for forty-two months… He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. (Revelation 13:4-5, 7 NIV)

Americans are rich in Bibles, but poor in understanding them. Last summer “the antichrist” came up in our study. One new student blurted out “Trump,” implying the then future U.S. president was the devil with a red tie. I’m sure others in the class noted my grimace. I would have been just as displeased had he named Mr. Trump’s opponent.

I don’t believe it is wise to say someone is the antichrist.  “Be careful,” I said for the benefit of the class. “You’ll know it is the antichrist when those with the world’s power lay their crowns before him.” (cf. Revelation 13:1-8)

A scheme of the enemy is to misuse a Bible term like “the antichrist” until it is obscured. When the true definition has been confused, the devil turns it into a weapon for evil. An accusation of “the antichrist” omits many others equally deserving of the title.

Our problem is in the definite article “the”. In our minds, “the” implies “one and only”. I’ll try to explain with Scripture: The one and only Apostle John wrote near the end of the first century A.D. At that time there were many “antichrists” (1 John 2:18). That was then, so how many are there over 1900 years later? If Jesus has followers who are “like Christ”, then why can’t the devil have antichrists? If there are many “the” cannot be “one and only.”

So who is “the antichrist”? Again, our Bible tells us: It is the one who promotes the big lie. It is “the” one–not “a” one– who denies Jesus is the Christ, “such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.” (1 John 2:22)

In past years, I have heard former U.S. presidents George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama referred to as “the antichrist”. Pointing a finger is a sign of Biblical illiteracy, a Pharisaical attitude and a foolish slandering of authority (Jude 7-11).

Deceit is a characteristic of the antichrist. Biblically, the gender is neutral, so, the antichrist also applies to females. Were Jezebel or Herodias (Herod’s wife), the antichrist? Is the woman in Revelation 17 not a consummate example? John asks “Who is the liar?” (1 John 2:22). Deceiver and lover of wickedness does not just describe males.

“I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone into the world. Any such person is the antichrist.” (2 John 7)

The devil is a liar. Do we all agree? Where do all liars eventually go? Revelation 21:8 tells us theirs is the second death. Those lying and deceiving are “the antichrist.” Repeaters of falsehoods–however far removed from the original untruth–are on dangerous ground.

Boasters, the conceited and the blasphemer are “the antichrist”. Beware of calling someone an awful name. By doing so, we break “the Golden Rule”. Since slander is so hateful and destructive, the Lord warns the consequences are equal to what awaits the evil one. “But anyone who says ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:22b)

The one who will deceive the nations and wars against God’s saints is THE ANTICHRIST or “the beast of Daniel and Revelation”.  Stick with prophecy. No adding or subtracting or we join in the deception and disinformation, and we know what that means (cf. Rev. 22:18-19). It means don’t worry about Trump or Putin being “the antichrist”, we are–with the definite article.

To the Jews who had believed in him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 NIV)

We live in unprecedented times. Never has truth been more reviled and tarnished. Could it be the vilification of truth (the Bible) and of truth-tellers (God’s prophets) is setting the stage for the Antichrist and his beast kingdom?

Jesus told his disciples that if they failed to hold to his teaching, they could not be his disciples. (Read into this the prophecies that many will abandon the faith in the last days.) After holding on and remaining obedient to Jesus, the faithful will know the truth and the truth will set them free. We learn freedom must be fought for; lies must be stubbornly resisted; obedience is non-negotiable and that slavery as well as death are products of rejecting truth.

As promised in the previous post, I want to put forward a proposition; namely, “Truth is essential to salvation.” I say again, “Salvation and truth are inseparable, one cannot exist without the other.” Examine the text below.

This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

From 1 Timothy 2:3-4, we ask, “Is there salvation without truth or vice versa?” No, the two merge for a divine purpose. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in prophecy. God our Savior wants everyone to be saved, but that is just our first baby step. If we are to walk, the first foot (salvation) must be followed by the other moving forward (truth) and so on. In this way, with salvation and truth, and by ruggedly opposing every sort of lie, we gain ground toward total freedom.

How many say that they are saved, yet are “indifferent” to prophecy? Perhaps it is because they swallowed the lie that the subject is confusing or a mystery Christians are not supposed to fathom. Do not be misled: To demonstrate God’s total sovereignty, tomorrow has been revealed in the Word (Isaiah 42:9, Amos 3:7, John 15:15). To be saved, the Lord wants everyone to grasp His truth–and that includes prophecy! Salvation (the future, the glory and heaven itself) belongs to those holding on to Jesus’ promises and warnings (truth).

Today, as we put “I’m saved” on as a helmet, do we dare leave truth behind? If we put on salvation, then around our waist also have on the belt of truth. In this age of deceit, do not risk being talked out of what you’ve gained. In this age of delusion, be careful if you think you stand, lest you fall. Don’t leave home without “truth”.

“Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel–all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18 NIV)

In the time of the prophet Elijah, not all of Israel were Israelites by faith. Among those living under the reigning Ahab and Jezebel, there remained a corps of Yahovah believers. They had not bowed to Baal idols neither had their lips kissed him. One might say they were the true Israel within Israel. In those times, if one was searching for what an Israelite was supposed to be, the greatest opportunity for finding one would be within Israel.

The same goes for a Christian. Though not guaranteed, the best place to look for a genuine Christ follower is within a church.

The Son of God’s blazing eyes of fire fell upon the church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29). (They also gaze upon Christ’s church today.) Thyatira’s works were commendable. The Lord recognized their good deeds, but all was not well. Jesus had something against them; the church gave Jezebel (a woman who called herself a prophet) a place of prominence.

Just as Queen Jezebel led Israel into idolatry, her evil likeness was at it again in Thyatira. Her history of persuading God’s servants to engage in sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols had resurfaced. Jezebel’s ways were beyond repentance.

When the Lord’s grace period expired, Jezebel’s followers would join her on her bed of intense suffering. Her children would be stricken dead (2:21-23).

It is not ours but the Lord’s to avenge. He separates the wheat from the chaff. Not all in the church (the wheat) are the church (the kernel).

“Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you); Only hold on to what you have until I come.” (2:24-25)

Elijah thought he alone remained faithful (1 Kings 19:14). When believers swim against the tide of a godless culture, it is difficult to spot others who are also struggling.It may seem as if there is no one righteous, not even one; or there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. It may seem that all have turned away, they have together become worthless or that there is no one who does good, not even one (cf. Romans 3:10-12). Yet God has preserved a remnant in Israel who have not kissed the Baals.

Is the Lord finished with a church that tolerates Jezebel or holds to Balaam’s teaching (Rev. 2:14)? Is the Lord finished with America or North Korea or the Muslim world? While grace is extended, within these spheres a righteous remnant exists. Despite their difficulties, like Antipas (Greek = against all), they will remain true to Jesus’ name (2:13).

We do not have to renounce our faith even if we reside where Satan has his throne.  We do not have to yield to wickedness or fear persecution–as many in the church will do (Matthew 24:9-13). Eventually the cream rises to the top. So there is a Church within a church. With time and hardship, it will all be revealed.

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