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Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11 NIV)

Prophecy students owe a great deal to Thessalonian believers. Without their habit of becoming confused, distressed and led astray, we would not have clear, supportive Scriptures on subjects such as the rapture and Christ’s return. Paul loved the Thessalonians, as his letters testify, despite the fact they were easily swayed by men.

In the church in Thessalonica, they nightly turned out to listen to Paul. Afterward, they probably shook his hand and told him how nice his message was. Unfortunately, they may have forgot what they heard by the time they reached home.

The dear folks were no doubt polite and thoughtful, making sure Paul, Luke and their companions always had enough to eat and comfortable lodging, yet something was amiss. Luke, the writer of Acts,  did not compare them favorably with the Bereans. As we read above, only the Bereans listened eagerly then examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 

Friendly people, but the Thessalonians failed to employ critical thinking. They did not test the spirits to determine if what they heard was of God. One can imagine the Bereans had questions, sought clarity, and were hungry to learn the Scriptural basis for what Paul taught. (The Reformation-era Pietists were much like the Bereans. Their famous reply to a never before vetted statement on doctrine was, “Brother, where stands that written?”)

The Bereans compared Paul’s Bible passages with other Scriptures. They reviewed the full context. Among their band, some took detailed notes. On the other hand, the Thessalonians contributed a part of the New Testament simply because they failed to retain Paul’s teaching on prophecy, or failed to familiarized themselves with his Scriptures. As a result, they easily fell into error.

We still have Thessalonian Christians around, wouldn’t you say? Dear folks, who would give the shirt off their back and sit through every service. They seem attentive to the teaching, but they leave everything behind at the double doors. (“That was a good word from Pastor today. What was it again he talked about?”)

Thanks to the Thessalonians we have a record of what Paul taught. In one he chastised them for being easily led astray by a false prophecy, false letter or false report supposedly coming from him. “Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?” (2 Thessalonians 2:5)

The Thessalonians were not equipped to catch an error in interpretation or in sound biblical teaching, but the Bereans were right on top of it. The lie never had a chance, because they interacted with what they heard and the inspired word of the Old Testament. False prophets may have avoided the Bereans altogether, which might explain why no letter was necessary to correct them. As a false teacher, why deal with being exposed when down the road, in Thessalonica, he could be treated like a star?

Revisiting what Paul taught about the events preceding Christ’s return and the rapture are to our benefit, but should it have been necessary? The Thessalonians probably treated every teacher with hospitality and an open door to their mind. If they did remember something, they lacked the discipline to put it to the accuracy test. Scriptural authority was not that big of a deal to the Thessalonians. The entertainment value of the experience had more importance.  Do you know of any Thessalonian churches with Thessalonian Christians near you? I hope you are acquainted with other Bereans.

 

“Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.”  (Jeremiah 23:16 NIV)

At lunch recently, our friends began to describe their friend who made his living discovering counterfeits. He was on the lookout for popular labels of clothing made to look like the genuine. He became totally familiar with the hot selling brand—the stitching, the cloth and materials, the cut, every pleat, the logo, as well as the printing on the tag. For the fake to come to light, he compared the imitation with all that made the original product unique.

The fake can have a lot of similarities to the real, but, with counterfeits, something is always amiss. Our lunchtime discussion raised the possibility of Christians, without knowing it, possessing a counterfeit faith. It looks real. It may feel like it is real. They may assume what they have is genuine, but they had been sold a clever counterfeit.

I’m ashamed to admit this, but some time ago I bought an expensive looking watch. Without asking too many questions, I bought it from a man with whom I worked. George had a persona and an office that had the feel of money and success.  As for the watch, it had an inscription on the face that read “Rolex,” yet I paid a penny on the dollar of what the genuine would cost.

Who was I hurting anyway? If someone asked about my nice watch, I did not lie. I may have sent them to George. The sad truth was that I was wearing deceit.

Before you judge, what about the brand of Christianity you wear? Is your faith genuine? Could it be that you are you okay with the small portion of false teaching you received from the most prestigious and prominent church around? Are you willing to sell others the fake item of faith you own? Are you comfortable displaying the fraudulent doctrine you were sold, and disinterested about knowing the truth? You did not realize it was fake, but why now the reluctance to compare it with God’s word?

“What harm can an imitation faith do?” you ask. “Fake is the new in-thing.” No one cares for authentic. No one holds it up to the Light to see if it meets God’s standard for truth.”

We may be particular about the food we eat, our clothing or our jewelry, yet all too willing to swallow the lie.  Even if no one cares to investigate matters of faith, we should. With counterfeit Christians, something is amiss. Critical thinking is absent. The Bible is not used as a source of authority. Jesus is exalted, but his truth is not (1 Timothy 2:4).

Let the buyer beware. We live an era filled with deceit and with men like George.  It would be wise to examine ourselves for the lies we believe, then warn others who might be ready to buy into a counterfeit faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).

 

At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense, “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”

“I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable.” (Acts 26:24-25 NIV)

Men, like the Apostle Paul, want those who oppose them to know that their position is true and reasonable. Near the end of The Book of Revelation we twice read the book’s prophecy is trustworthy and true (21:5, 22:6).

Deceivers claim they are telling the truth if they think they cannot be proven a liar. There are many false prophets for that reason. How can you disprove something that is future? (ex. “The sun will explode in the year 2030.”) The expert may stake his reputation on his prediction, but is his argument true, trustworthy and reasonable?

If I recall, it was the philosopher Blaise Pascal that said that it is more reasonable that something that happened before could happen again, then something that has never happened will happen for the first time. Also, the preacher in Ecclesiastes gave us this:

Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before… (3:15)

So, is it reasonable to think that the Church will be suddenly taken up in the rapture, if nothing like it has ever happened? Is it trustworthy to say the saints will escape the tribulation and be taken up to heaven if nothing of this nature has ever transpired? (Yes, I have heard of Enoch, but tell me, what tribulation was he escaping?) The pre-tribulation rapture is completely without precedent.

Is it reasonable to believe that Christ will come at any moment, without any signs, if no Scripture supports the claim? We are talking about “imminency,” the cornerstone of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture position. Are PTR teachers trustworthy if their “any moment rapture position” contradicts the One seated on the Throne (ex. Revelation 13:9-10), His Son (Matthew 24:29-31), as well as Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).

Come let us reason together. Something that happened before will happen again–this age will end and the wicked will perish as they did in Noah’s day. (Was the construction of the ark not a sign of God’s announced judgment?) Saints, forced to undergo great hardship, always precedes God’s deliverance, not the other way around (ex. the exodus).

So how has an illogical, unreasonable and untrustworthy teaching captured the minds of smart Christians. It is because a trusted person said it was true. We are also willing to overlook the illogical arguments that prop it up. But Salvation is never without her escorts, Truth and Reason.

For a reasoned Biblical criticism of Pre-Tribulation Rapturism, order Lifesaver: Saving God’s People from the PTR Ship. (Booklocker.com, ebook or paperback)

For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”  Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Corinthians 1:19-20 NIV)

What permanent advantage is there in supporting a lie? If conventional wisdom urges toleration on some matters, but rabid opposition in others, should we go along with it? To do so is to risk sharing in their destruction. We must consider all matters with a Christian mindset, that means rationally. Anyone who tells you otherwise, should be considered suspect.

Last time, I shared my frustration. I had an argument. After what seemed like an hour, it ended in a truce. No one gave an inch. I lay part of the blame upon my reliance on my ability to persuade, and part on this dear one’s “Christian” fellowship. This is no knock on the people for they are precious souls, but on their church’s way of teaching disciples. Some of their more controversial views are protected by a wall of bad reasoning and poor Scripture interpretation. Leaders are entrusted with the pulpit after demonstrating skill in defending long-held doctrines. Whenever challenged, their rote training kicks in. They have ears but cannot hear. Anyone who differs, is an enemy. They stand on their version of truth, no matter what. (For that reason, many regard them as a Christian cult.)

This group is not alone. Much of Christianity has become illogical. Our diversity of doctrines is the result of lawyer-like argumentation more than seeking truth. I could site many examples. Pre-Tribulation Rapture (PTR) is one. Again, it is not a knock on the people, but on the illogical nature of their arguments, a reliance on intelligence and the lack of a Christian mind.

Logic and reasoning will protect us from the deceitful but clever-sounding arguments of our day. Next time, we will briefly look at the skillful way unbiblical and illogical teachers have succeeded in persuading much of Western Christianity. Did I say “unbiblical” and “illogical”? So what!

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.  (2 Timothy 2:23 NIV)

So it goes in America:

“The Russians were involved in the 2016 Presidential election to help Trump get elected.”

“How? There is no evidence that anyone tampered with voting machines or the vote count. How did they effect the vote?”

“Well look at the conversations between Trump’s associates and Russian officials. It all points to collusion. There needs to be an investigation.”

“What would investigators be looking for? There’s no evidence of wrong-doing.”

“I don’t know but there has to be something there between Trump and Putin. We’ve got to get to the bottom of it. There’s plenty of smoke, and where there’s smoke there’s fire.”

Most in the U.S. are justifiably tired of hearing about the Russians and the election. The argument continues despite its baseless premise. If politicians had to stay within the bounds of logic, we would have civil discussions. But, no, we have legislators who engage in arguments that cause quarrels.

In my opinion, this is due to the legal system’s influence in government. Law students learn the art of argumentation. So, when they become lawyers they can win cases, not based on justice or truth, but on their skill as arguers. Clever sounding arguments often win the day. God help us!

Tragically, the art of argumentation has infected our Christian fellowships. One of the first things we should teach new converts is Logic. If the new Christian knows Logic, then they can detect when a fallacious but clever argument is headed in their direction. After the mental red flag goes up on a few fallacious arguments (“ad hoc ergo prompter hoc,” “the straw man,” “the red herring” and “circular reasoning”), the new convert could excuse themselves—that is unless they want to quarrel or test their ability to argue.

Recently, I became locked into a conversation that, unfortunately, became a quarrel. My head was spinning. My emotions got the best of me. I was frustrated and wanted to walk away. There was an answer for everything I said. It was more like a wall. After more than a half hour, I blurted out “Your argument is foolish,” and then it really turned into a mess. (Thank God I didn’t say “foolish and stupid” like 2 Timothy 2:23.)

I saw no good way out. I was entangled in a circular argument—the very thing the Apostle said to avoid. On the ground, I drew a circle with my finger. I said “This is how our discussion is going.” Of course, they did not see it that way. Had Paul’s warning been fresh in my mind, I would have bowed out as soon as the circular reasoning came into play. Believing I could reason successfully, I had to go around and around and around to find out my effort was useless.

Next time, Part 2, The illogical invades the Christian church.

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)

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! (Proverbs 6:6 NIV)

As a child, in the early evening, a favorite game at family gatherings with our cousins was “Hide n’ Seek”. Our home was ideal with trees, bushes and other wonderful places to hide. Our big maple tree served as home base. The person who was “It” covered their eyes, faced the tree and started counting. When they reached fifty they would shout “Ready or not, here I come!” When we heard “Ready or not” we would freeze in place. You did not want to be the first spied or caught. That meant you would be “It” the next round. What a thrill to race to the tree, touching it and yelling, “All-ee, all-ee in free.”

The game took some forethought. The time for hiding went fast, so you better have a plan before the counting started.  In life we do not have the benefit of a countdown. Things happen unexpectedly; things from which we cannot hide.

With the debate over when Jesus will re-appear, it may be overlooked that death could find us long before this age ends. Ready or not is the question. We all need to be ready, not for an “any moment” rapture, but for an “any moment” end of life.

This does not mean discussing the timing of Christ’s coming is irrelevant; it has total relevance. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but it will matter greatly to survivors we helped prepare. Our test will be whether we are ready for either eventuality, and whether or not we love truth.

(The peril facing those who absorb Pre-Tribulation Rapture (PTR) “imminent return of Christ for his Church” teaching is that they will not be ready for “the Great Tribulation” (Daniel 12:1, Matthew 24:21, Revelation 7:14). God’s Word clearly states it will indeed happen, and that it must precede Christ’s return for his saints. (In our book Lifesaver we offer 24 Biblical and rational torpedoes that sink the PTR ship.)

The centuries old saying of Benjamin Franklin is true: “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” There is no guarantee we will live to see the thing we prepare for, but we are guaranteeing a disaster if we see the thing for which we are unprepared. So will we be ready for what Christ promised (The Great Tribulation) or not be ready because we paid no heed? Ready or not, it is coming!

 “…to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17b)

Next time, we will look at some practical goals preparing us for the last days.

 

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5 NIV)

With most people, new creates a conflict. New technology is welcomed by a small number who like it for the reason it is new. Leaders in the tech industry love this open-minded group. As with the developers, they think outside the box. They receive invitations to the unveiling of revolutionary new products. How this group, the “first wave”, responds will determine if the innovation becomes a business success.

Typically, people remain loyal to the familiar. This “third wave” is invested in “Group Think”. They prefer to wait and see what the first or second wave consumer thinks. This principle applies to anything new, not just technology.  The first wave, the pioneers, who review the new, open the door for the second wave; the second opens it for the third, and so on. There are many more in the second wave than in the first, but the greatest number belong to the third wave. This is the mass number that want to know if it is safe or if it is popular. By the time the fourth wave decides, ideas are already passe.

The Lord is making everything new. No improvement will be possible. Yet, because it is new, it is strange. Few are testing what the Spirit is now unveiling. Take, for example, the series, Prophets, Priests and Kings. I would classify it as first wave material. Strange, perhaps, in comparison to others on the subject, the public at-large remains unaware or dubious as to its value.

The test market of a select first wave of readers has offered their feedback. It is very positive. Any “problems” are minor and easily fixable. The importance to the reader is beyond calculation. Next up, The Priests of God should be unveiled in 45 days. It details more of the new thing Jesus spoke of in Revelation 21. 

The third wave of Group Think traditionalists; well, they may never get it. By definition, true reform must come from the outside. The third wave is stuck on the inside while the fourth wave is prisoner to the status quo.

If the motivation was to sell books, I would never write The People of God, The Prophets of God, The Priests of God and Lifesaver. There is no best-seller waiting to happen. The reason we, at this site, faithfully proclaim His strange, new design is to please Him. If we can help usher in the age’s last great move of the Spirit or awaken His chosen people to prophetic truth, then we will have succeeded. If we can alert those untouched by Group Think to God’s new thing, we will have done our job.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise. (Isaiah 43:19-21)

In those days there was no king in Israel, everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25 NKJV)

Having worked a few years as a real estate agent taught me a lot. For sellers of property, setting a price based on the fair market value, rather than what we hope our home is worth, is key to finding a buyer in timely fashion. For home buyers, it is vital to match what we can afford with what we want. The real in real estate is matching a seller’s reasonable expectation with a buyer’s financial ability.

So it is with the struggle often faced with prophecy. The current list of popular doctrines makes it a seller’s market, which means there are plenty of buyers considering a move from one position to another. Are the buyer’s unsatisfied with the status quo? Or has something forced a change? What is it they want? It is all subjective.

Objectivity is required as well. Being objective means I want facts. Subjectivity alone makes things murky. Facts clarify our options. Regarding prophecy, how do we arrive at facts? We must consult Scripture the way a real estate appraiser examines recently sold properties. If what we desire–that is our dreams or goals–conflicts with objective truth, then we have a choice. If we choose what we subjectively want to occur in the last days as opposed to what God objectively says, we won’t like what happens.

The Bereans were accustomed to teachers who were dreamers. How would they know if the Apostle Paul was like the rest? They listened intently to what Paul said; perhaps making notes. When he finished, the Bereans went back to their (Old Testament) Scripture to see if what Paul taught lined up with truth.

The Thessalonians, however, were more subjective. Salesmen could persuade them about what was right. Consider the context of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2. Confusion caused panic in the Thessalonian church. It came about because their subjectivity made them vulnerable to false prophecies, reports or letters about the Day of the Lord. They had listened to Paul but forgot the Biblical evidence. Many thought he was right; that is until the next gifted public speaker came along.

God has put eternity on our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Eternity is our dream. The way we achieve the unimaginable is contained in the word of God. Applying the five major rules for Bible interpretation is how we arrive at the facts. Demand accuracy in prophecy, rather than argue about who is right. Information is true or it isn’t. God is objective, not subjective. God is Mathematics and true science. God does not tolerate “adding to” what he has spoken (Proverbs 30:5-6).

In the time of the judges, subjectivity led to confusion in Israel. Everyone did what seemed right because Israel had no sovereign to set the standard. Had God been their king, they would have all agreed.

That’s where many are at today; subjectively shopping for what’s “right”. In other words, most are searching for their wants and trying to fulfill their dream. Instead, wouldn’t it be better to study our Bible with other Bereans? What if we developed a consensus for an accurate (a.k.a. Biblical) interpretation of prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1-4)?  Isn’t it better to prize accuracy rather than the human standard of what seems right?

Lifesaver Book

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Prophets of God

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The People of God

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