Greater than the Temple

Greatest of all times!

How many times have we heard someone claim to be the “Greatest of all Time”: from Mohammad Ali to Will Smith and to countless others; both famous and infamous. It’s such a common occurrence that we even have an abbreviation for it: G.OA.T.! People have shirts printed, specialty stationery and various other things here and there to point to their greatness. As Christians, we shy away from such claims, or at least from actually believing them. We know that if any one individual could claim to be a G.O.A.T. it would be Jesus. In fact, Jesus made several such claims. He claimed that He was “greater than the Temple”, “greater than Jonah” and “greater than Solomon”. In this upcoming 3-part series, we will look into what those claims mean and how Jesus is, in fact, greater than all three.

Greater than the Temple

It is difficult to overstate the significance, gravitas and importance of the Temple of Solomon in the lives of Jesus’ contemporaries. To the Jews of those days, the Temple was the center of the Universe, not just metaphorically but literally: it was the place where God’s presence met and communed with men on Earth. The Temple was God’s House on Earth, making Jerusalem the most important city in the world past, present and future.

The Temple was truly a sight to behold: it literally shined in the desert sun! When the Romans destroyed it in A.D. 70 they left “not stone on top of another” (Mark 13:2); this was because there was a king’s ransom and more in molten gold that had seeped in between the cracks from the arson fire set by the Roman Legions: imagine how much gold there was?! There was so much gold the Romans minted commemorative coins from the booty they removed from the Temple of Solomon to immortalize their abject repression of the Jewish Revolt. All in, the temple has been calculated to have been worth well over a half billion dollars!

Roman Coin Minted With Gold Seized From Temple of Solomon during the Judean Revolt of A.D. 70.

Blasphemy!

So how could Jesus, knowingly, make such a claim: to be “greater than the Temple”? Let’s take a closer look at the context in which the statement is made:

1 At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, ‚ÄúLook, Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.‚ÄĚ

3 Jesus replied, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for them to eat, but only for the priests.

5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.

7 If only you had known the meaning of ‚ÄėI desire mercy, not sacrifice,‚Äôa you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.‚ÄĚ

Send in the clowns

The Pharisees come and attack Jesus on what would amount to be a technicality: picking heads of wheat to eat; since it happened to be the Sabbath, the Pharisees were hoping to ensnare Him somehow. Jesus’ reply, as it always did, came straight from the Law and the Prophets. Not only did He compared His disciples to David’s Men of Valor and likened His disciples to the priests on Sabbath duty in Solomon’s Temple: they work on the Sabbath but are regarded as innocent in regards to the third commandment.

Jesus says to them that the Law requires “mercy, not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6). This is a recurring theme that he brings to the calloused Pharisees that think highly of themselves because they keep even more than the Law requires. Jesus reminds them that they lack mercy. They would rather someone starve and keep the Law rather than break it and live. In this, He accused them of constantly condemning the innocent.

True Temple priests

Jesus is making the positive claim about His disciples. They are innocent on two counts: the lesser point is that the hungry must eat, regardless of whether it is the Sabbath or not, similar to the Parable of the 100 sheep (Matthew 12:11). The second and more important point is that the disciples are serving “something greater than the Temple”.

What could be greater the the House of God? Where is there a better place to meet and worship God if not the Temple He Himself commissioned? Where could one go, on Earth, that would bring you closer to God than the Temple of Solomon? All of these questions can only be answered in the person of Jesus Christ: What’s greater than the House? The Owner! What’s the best way to communicate with God? In the flesh! Where could one go to be closer to God than the Temple? Wherever Jesus is!

Lord of the Sabbath

But what would give Jesus the authority to claim that His disciples were innocent? Surely, the Law itself exonerated them¬† because it was not considered unlawful to do good on the Sabbath, something the Pharisees knew all too well. However, Jesus goes one step further and says¬†“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.‚Ä̬†What does that even mean?¬† Essentially Jesus was claiming and proclaiming that He was¬†greater than the Laws¬†of the Mosaic Covenant. As God in the flesh, He is the Author of the Laws. The Pharisees had made¬†themselves¬†“lords of the Sabbath”: they had instituted a intricate system rules and regulations and bylaws that made keeping the Sabbath practically impossible.

In all, there were 39 categories of forbidden and unlawful activities. Many of them can still be found in existence today. For example, the “Sabbath Elevator”. If you live in New York, you either have one, know someone who does or have experienced it as some point. Among some Jewish communities, pressing the button on the elevator on the Sabbath is considered work! Once Jesus proclaims that He is Lord of the Sabbath, He strips the Pharisees of the authority they had usurped away from God.

Third eye blind

Jesus is¬†greater than the Temple and therefore Lord of the Sabbath. The same God who commissioned the Temple instituted the Sabbath. God instituted the Sabbath¬†for man, not man for the Sabbath. This is a lesson Jesus repeats often. However, the legalistic Pharisees refuse for fear of their power diminishing over and among the people. But the message of Jesus is that He is the Temple! He challenges the Pharisees and the Scribes to “tear this Temple down”, speaking of His own body. He would raise it up again. However, their spiritually blinded minds could not understand of what He was speaking.

Jesus is¬†truly greater than the Temple. His body became the new Covenant between man and God and we commune with God¬†in the body of Christ: His blood shed for us and His body broken for us give us access to God the Father through Jesus the Son. When Jesus died on the Cross and the Veil in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the Holy of Holies was open to the priests in the inner court and, to their surprise….no one died! How can that be? Only the High Priest ever accessed the Holy of Holies, and only once a year! To anyone alive at the time, to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hears, to anyone educated and instructed in the Law would have seen, that very day, that Jesus is Greater than the Temple.

Third Day

There’s two kinds of people in this world. There are those who believe the story of Jonah and those who know someone that does. As Christians we form a special category. We believe the story of Jonah. We also know Jesus. He also believes the story of Jonah. Jesus saw it take place. In our second part to these series, we will explore Jesus’ statement comparing Himself to Jonah. I encourage you to follow along with us as we consider Jesus, greater than Jonah.

Catch 22? Meet God’s Catch 33!

A mission for the mindless

“We’ve all heard of a “Catch 22”. It’s a situation where no matter which option you choose, you’re always wrong, always in trouble, you’re still stuck. It was made famous by a novel with the same name. As the saying goes, “you’re d—-d if you do and you’re d—-d if you don’t”!

But have you ever considered the implications of the following: “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Romans 14:8

The Apostle Paul, here, introduces us to what I like to call a “Catch 33“! Similarly to catch 22, in a catch 33, the system is also rigged. However, it favors Christians. It favors those who have put their Faith, Hope, and Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, life for the Christian is a win-win proposition. In living, we honor God, and in death we honor God. Now, we are in no means a death cult; Christians want to live abundant lives (John 10:10) but we do not fear death.

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? Click To Tweet

Catch 22: The fear of the hopeless

The number one fear that all unbelievers have, and have in common, is the fear of death, as you can see from the rampant panic on tv. Newscasters continuously introduce all of us to all sorts of new boogiemen: a new disease that is going to decimate the world’s population or the next threat from Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, a food shortage, climate change, hurricanes, earthquakes, asteroids, the “wrong” politician for the job; in a sense, they’re disseminating fear over the one thing no-one has any control: the future.

Catch 33: The hope of the fearless

Christians, on the other hand, have “cheated” the catch 22 system: Jesus defeated sin on the Cross and Death by his resurrection and we are heirs of those victories. Life doesn’t startle us nor does the fear of death paralyze us. There’s a very beautiful secular Italian song where the lyrics speak directly to this phobia; the lyrics, translates literally, read: whoever is not afraid of death only dies once!

Chi non ha paura di morire, muore una volta sola. Click To Tweet

What a beautiful doctrinal Christian Truth! Jesus himself taught us not to fear the first death. The second death is the truly dreadful one: the death that leads to eternal separation from God! If you fear the first death, chances are you are not a Believer. Otherwise, there is something “off” about your walk with God.

Catch 22? Meet God’s Catch 33! Click To Tweet

What’s the catch?

Fear and anxiety will come calling your name. When they do, strengthen yourself in the Lord. In chapter 1 of his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

As Spirit-filled, Bible-believing,¬† born-again Christians, it is our responsibility to live in the light of this truth: whenever those around us, whether at work, at home, at school, or (more often than not) at church, lose heart over the challenges of everyday life, we¬†must¬†be the people in their lives that they can look to and see someone who hasn’t, who isn’t and who¬†doesn’t lose not only their composure but more importantly their compass, their anchor, their focus, their Hope: Jesus Christ!

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Doctrines of demons

There are lies, dammed lies and doctrines of demons

Pearl of great Price – Part 2

Mark Twain once said, “there are lies, dammed lies, and then there are statistics”. Unfortunately for all us, Mr. Clemens was wrong. When it comes to manipulating truth there is something that is more dangerous than statistics. Doctrines of demons.

Last time, we talked about the pearl of great price. That is what Jesus compared finding the Kingdom of Heaven (Mat 13:46) to. The parable tells us that for the person that finds this pearl would willingly make any trade necessary to own the pearl. The pearl not only represent the Kingdom but also represents Truth. Like the pearl of great price the Truth today is nearly impossible to find. On the other hand, doctrines of demons are readily available anywhere you look.

Versions of the “truth”

One of the difficulties that we encounter today is that there seems to be multiple versions of the facts. Even as I write this there are people out there disagreeing on simple facts. This can range from the current debate on the origins of the Covid-19 virus to whether Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon to the more tragic holocaust deniers. If you ask around you’ll find people that don’t tie the Chinese government to the covid outbreak in any way, don’t believe we landed on the Moon and have never heard of or don’t believe the “official” holocaust story.

Start with distortions

Now, you might think, “people are people and they come in all shades and shapes and sizes and opinions”. If that were the only thing at stake it wouldn’t matter to anyone. However, the truth is much more sinister. The different versions of the “truth” are necessary to the distortion of¬†the¬†Truth; having a binary conversation between up or down, left or right, right or wrong is much more effective for the purposes of distortion when there are many “shades of truth”.

Distortions the easiest ways to get rid of the truth. Simply take the actual truth and run countless different strains of it. With each version having a very miniscule variation in it, everyone will believe that their version is true to the original. However, once these ideas meet in the open “market place”, confusion is the only logical result. With so many versions available, not only will people question the truthfulness of other people’s versions but eventually question their own.

Add gradualism

Nowhere is this more apparent in society than the subject of sexuality. Just 50 years ago, terms like “deviant” were commonplace in sociology literature when discussing homosexual tendencies. It was an insult on the part of the sociologists as much as it was a way to describe the behavior: a deviation from the norm. It’s hard to imagine that it only took less than a generation to get to where we are right now.

Terms like “non-binary”, “fluidity”, and “seeking” are commonplace and it has reached epidemic levels in our schools. Unlike “deviant”, the new terms are neither meant to explain, describe nor inform. Quite the opposite. They are chosen by the demons in charge to create the greatest of gray areas, where the largest possible number of souls can commit themselves to a lost eternity. Such terminology makes it possible for 8 billion people on the planet to have different points of view on something that has been established by our nature for millennia.

Exhibit A

There is no better example of this than television. When HBO first came on the scene, it was mostly a place where you could find movies that had recently been in the theaters that had not yet made their way to “rabbit ear antenna” tv. The same television service is now filled with movies that could quite easily pass off as pornography. The fact that modern homes have multiple televisions where adults and children are not usually watching in the same room makes for the distribution of this material even more prolific among children than ever.

Not subtle enough

As we mentioned before, society didn’t arrive here over night. It was a slow, constant, intentional march in this direction. If you’ve ever read the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, you’ll know what I mean. You may hear people talk about a “swinging pendulum” and how it was worse when they were young. I don’t argue that the wild public orgies of the sexual revolution seem like a thing of the past. However, the spirit of that “godless freedom” remained in society even after the public orgies went back into the closet (for the most part).

When truth can be made distorted so easily and gradually enough to avoid detection, the points of view and perspectives multiply. Soon, the sheer plurality makes the search for truth no longer a sensible goal. In such a situation it is easier to seek consensus and compromise, preferably with a total absence of truth of any kind. As far as doctrines go, relativism is among the preferred by demons.

Relativism

With objective Truth defanged by 8 billion distortions of lesser value and the meaning of Truth buried by the gradual crossbreeding of the Truth, dilution of the Truth the result. But the goal can only be relativism. Since the Truth is so strongly diluted, it must mean that there is no truth. Better yet. It is all true.

Suddenly, everyone with an opinion is a Master of the Universe in the making. Over-confident and under-educated he is civil society’s worst nightmare. You cannot argue with this modern man. He knows it all: “God is dead… and we have killed him”, he’ll chant, thinking it came from some modern rock song.

This homo-modernus has finally met a god he can live with: himself. He is all-knowing. He is also petty, cruel, proud, and a scoffer of things about his paygrade. He’s given to fits of murderous rage, drug-induced psychotic episodes, and a freedom of libido without precedent. This modern man looks more like the ancient Greek gods every day.

Why are you telling me this?

Great question. Because that description can fit just as easily in the church as it does outside. We have let distortions, ever-so-minute, crawl into the Church. We have let these distortions fester and multiply and become a confusing Gordian knot. Since such things are better left untangled, we have decided to look the other way. After all, confronting some of these issues may affect church attendance and the all-important one as well: giving.

Gradually, left unchecked, these ideas and doctrines of demons, take on a life of their own. Well-intentioned churches and pastors and congregations conclude its better to compromise than to deal with the consequences. Don’t believe me? Have a conversation about politics with your pastor. See how long that friendship survives that encounter.

I need more

Still not convinced? Here’s proof. The State of California is home to the most and largest and biggest and wealthiest congregations in the country. Yet, their elected officials seem to take their policy directives¬†directly¬†from doctrines of demons. With abortions and late-term abortions and late-late-term abortions you would have to think that these super-mega-churches have no political clout whatsoever nor do any congregants vote. They had Reagan as governor with no mega churches but Newsom as governor¬†with the mega churches. You see the irony there?

Doctrines of demons?

Ok. So now you’re on board but still think that calling them doctrines of demons is a stretch. After all, we’re all still Christians. Good point. So let’s see what the Word has to say on the subject.

1Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, 2through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. 3They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer.

Yup. Doctrines of demons!

At this point it might be worthwhile to make a list of the doctrines of demons that Paul identifies for Timothy. Some are more plain to see than others. The low-lying fruit is probably “legalism”. Don’t touch that, can’t drink this, don’t sit there, say it like that. It reminds me of the scene in Devil’s Advocate: “touch but don’t taste; taste but don’t chew; chew but don’t swallow”. Legalism is at opioid-epidemic crisis levels in our churches. The same people saved by Grace live under the Law. They tithe as foreigners rather than enter the throne-room as sons. With so little understanding of what¬†actually took place on their behalf, they believe the New Testament but practice the Old. Perhaps it’s some kind of insurance policy that I don’t know about.

Forbidding Marriage

Where have I seen this before? Who forbids marriage? It’ll come to me. Not only do these peddlers of demonic doctrines adhere to legalistic practices that no longer apply to Christians, they even invent new ones. Furthermore, marriage is the first institution that God created. Its so important to Him, He set it up in the Garden. In the beginning. So what’s a demonic doctrine to do? Deny, deny, deny! Deny God and His institutions; deny God and the goodness of His Creation.

Fishy Fridays

Forbidding marriage and requiring abstinence from certain foods is only the most apparent of their fruits. If eunuch priests and not eating meat on Fridays were the Church’s greatest physical concerns, we would be in a much better place. No. Their deception goes much deeper than that. In his letter to Timothy, Paul described them as liars, hypocrites and having a seared conscience.

Jesus in fact has some very choice words for those who preach and practice such lies. Jesus calls the Devil the “father of lies”. He also calls those that practice deceit the children of the Devil (John 8:44). Lies are their native language, their nature. The Devil, his demons and those that practice his lifestyle can only teach deceptive doctrines. The Devil was a denier from the Beginning. These preachers of demonic doctrines have all the outside showings of godliness but deny its power.

And so many more

But beyond sex and food, what other doctrines are demonic? It comes down to this: anything that man does to add to the sufficiency of the work that Jesus Christ fully accomplished on the cross is a doctrine of demons. Whether it’s the need to speak in tongues to be saved, to only being allowed to worship on Saturdays, to praying for the salvation of the dead and so much more, demons are and have always been active in adding human work to the finished work of the Cross.

God: fickle,  petty, and weak

The “little foxes” are usually the ones that destroy the grape harvest (Songs of Sol. 2:15-17). When we think of doctrines of demons, we picture some openly unbiblical statement that “anyone” could plainly recognize. Unfortunately, demons have been working on this for a long time and their technique has been refined.¬† Things like “God will heal you in His own good time”. This distortion of the character of God points people back¬†to legalism where they are looking to check off items from a list of “to-do’s”. Healing that is dependent on you might as well be dependent on your pet. This doctrine teaches that Jesus’ death covered sins¬†only.¬†Your bodily healing is contingent on how well you jump through some hoops.

How many times were you told that if you don’t tithe “you are robbing God” (Malachi 3:8)? Imagine a human that is able to rob God. And yet, we are constantly told that we don’t receive because we don’t give. Somehow, God is keeping track of our finances and He will only give to us when we’ve reached our minimum required. Just like an earthly father, I guess.

God deniers

Further still, there are doctrines that deny the deity of Jesus altogether. There are sects that describe Him as “a son of God”; you know which ones those are. Then there are entire religions based on the belief that Jesus was only a prophet. Islam, by definition, is a doctrine of demons. It denies the virgin birth, the death on the Cross and the resurrection. And this doesn’t just apply to Islam. In fact, any person, group or religion ¬†who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh (2 John 1:7) is a liar. And since, as we said before, the Devil is the father of lies anyone who denies Jesus in the flesh is a child of the Devil.

Let my people think

I know it sounds harsh. We all have those friends out there. So, I would encourage you to take this as your notice. You have been served. Make sure you preach to your friends and family members that do not recognize or deny Jesus “come in the flesh”. No three-point sermon needed. A few words here and there and a life well-lived will do. But should the opportunity present itself, be ready to give the reason for your hope.

Shepherd and Friend – Jehovah Rohi

Before he became king, David was a shepherd. Before David wrote the Psalms, he pondered them in his heart. For many years he observed the sheep and studied their behaviors.

Imagine David, out with his flock one day and, as a stroke of lightning, as he tended his own sheep, he pondered the following: (please read with emphasis)

Psa 23:1-6 BSB
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for the sake of His name.
4 Even 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.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

The realization that God is¬†his¬†Shepherd must have totally changed his perspective on… just about everything. I pray that, like David, you¬†too have come to a deeper understanding of¬†who¬†God is: Jehovah Rohi, God my Shepherd.

Why Sheep

If you were looking for a simple example as to why evolution can not hold up, consider sheep. Sheep are weak, easily confounded and without any natural defense mechanisms. Lambs are even worse. Without the protection of the shepherd, a small pack of wolves would put to death hundreds of sheep in just a few hours. Thankfully, God made Shepherds.

Why Shepherds

The Shepherd lives for the sheep. He defends the lambs, leads them to safety, collects the strays and puts their feeble minds at ease and if necessary dies for the sheep (John 10:11).

Pearl of great price – Part 1

Opinions are like belly buttons: everyone’s got one. Interestingly enough, many of them are hard to stomach. Luckily, doctrines are less common. Unfortunately, even demons have those. The proof of that multiplies around us daily. On the other hand, like a pearl of great price (Mat 13:36), Truth is hard to find and worth any trade you would have to make to obtain it.

Identifying hidden value

Think about your most prized possession. Consider how much it cost you to get it. Now add to it everything it has cost to keep it, maintain it, safeguard it, update it and whatever else you’ve had to do to ensure it is preserved. For some it might be a family heirloom, a Babe Ruth rookie baseball card, Rembrandt original or luxury car. As with any luxury item, the sticker price is never the end.

Recognizing Pearl divers

For example, Ferrari has rules that not only employees but also owners must abide by. These rules range from “no pink Ferraris” to “no owners under 40” as well as “cannot own any Lamborghinis” and many others. Apparently Mr. Ferrari considers his family legacy a pearl of great price! To him, owning a piece of that legacy requires maturity in the form of minimum age, sensibility in terms of color scheme as well as loyalty to the the Ferrari brand.

Pearls of great farce

Not everything that is held in high esteem is by definition of great value. Opinions are among such things. In the era of fake news opinions are just as good as facts. If repeated enough, it doesn’t take long for someone to come along and peddle them as Gospel Truth. Even beyond current events, recent history is full of them. Not loo long ago, the European Union destroyed the beef industry for its domestic farmers. The claim was that BSE (Mad Cow Disease) was rampant in the bovine population and would eventually decimate Europe. As recent as 2017, I tried giving blood in a local blood drive. My years of living in Europe made me ineligible to give blood. The concern, again, was the spread of the disease in America.

Pearly Pyrite

To be clear, the loss of life is never trivial. Nonetheless, when the opinions of “experts” overrule common sense, you can always expect the worse. Whether it’s Mad Cow Disease, the Swine Flu pandemic or any other reiteration, you can always count on an overrated opinion masquerading as a pearl of great price. Under such guise, the “pearl seller” will be able to get almost any amount out of the buyer (meaning the general public).

You may ask, “what did they get from us in exchange”? Great question! For starters, they get your consent to continue peddling. As this implicit consent builds on itself, it becomes assent. “Assent” is above consent. While consent is your permission for something, assent on the other hand is your agreeing to something. Once “people agree”, dissent can be rooted out. Dissent is a fancy term for disagreeing. Since “everyone agrees”, those who don’t find themselves on the outside. They are now either pressured or coerced to agree or they are further marginalized. The end result is still the same: a lofty opinion sits in the place of Truth (2 Cor 10:5).

So what?

Although many of us might not necessarily care what others “believe”, these things still have a profound effect on our lives. The reason is this. What is one thing that is coveted more than money? You guessed it. Power! In the same way that companies want to shape public opinion to guide customers’ dollars to their products, there are those who want to mold public opinion for other purposes. Although they may not be selling a “product”, they are selling you something nonetheless. I believe the original quote goes back to Zig Ziglar. Your consent is not coveted to make your life better. It is being sought out to better sell you.

If you can't tell what the product is, stand closer to the mirror Click To Tweet

I need proof

At this point, proof is a very reasonable request. If I were buying a pearl of great price, I would want an assayer to evaluate it for me. Since proof is so readily available, we will give it in a timeline format. However, since it is impossible to Google Anthony Fauci’s lies I had to use a different search engine. Apparently that information is not available on Google.

January 21st.:”Coronavirus is not a threat to people in the United States”.

January 26th: “Risk of Coronavirus in the USA is a ‘miniscule‘; skip mask and wash hands”.

We could go on for days but why bother. These two are so different from the ” experts’ ” current advice to beg incredulity. In fact, right now you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t remember getting that advice”! Don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s just because this story have more versions than an iPhone. How else can they have gone from “skip the mask” to needing a “3rd booster shot”. And who did this most recent advice come from? That’s right! Fauci. It is astounding the ease with which this man’s plainly stated and self-identified opinions are welcomed as pearls or great price. While lies being peddled so easily it is difficult to tell what is doing more damage to the Church: baseless opinions or doctrine of demons.

Pearl of great device

Notwithstanding the recent brain-dead fog that has overtaken large sections of the Church, doctrines have by far done the most damage to the Body over the centuries. In Part 2, we will discuss how some of the strongest poisons ever given to the Church were fed directly from our pulpits. Paul calls them “doctrines of demons“. The name alone makes you think that no one would listen to such sermons. Unfortunately, the truth is far more painful. Finally, Part 3 will show us how the Truth is the real McCoy; this pearl of great price. The real Truth need neither pushing or peddling in any way. John Steinbeck’s Kino knew what he had found the moment he laid eye on it. As a true Believer in Jesus Christ, so should you.

Debilitating Doubt

Where Doubt Hides

There’s a scene in the¬†Left Behind movie series where the pastor is standing on the pulpit looking out into an empty congregation; the Rapture occurred and, believe it or not,¬†he was…left behind! He goes through a monologue where He’s talking to God about “how could it be” that he would stand up there week after week and, of the whole congregation, the shepherd was the one who’s faith wasn’t genuine. As he’s reasoning with God, he comes to the understanding that, after all, “knowing and believing are two different things!”

Faith & Doubt

How many times have you found yourself in that very same situation: you read all the books, you can quote all the right verses and can argue with the greatest of Pharisees as well as the biblically uneducated; you’ve brought dozens to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, you’re the head of a ministry, give regularly and with conviction and, when it’s all said and done, it all amounts to nothing more than¬†mere religion. Somehow, everything you know to be true about God feels like “head knowledge” and that’s all! Of all the people around you, you’re¬†the one with doubts and skepticism! How could it be? How did you get here?

[Tweet “you’ve led dozens to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, you’re the head of a ministry, give regularly and with conviction and, when it’s all said and done, it all amounts to nothing more than mere religion.”]

Where Doubt Lives

Well, the simple answer is that we all get there from different directions: Peter and Thomas were there¬†with Jesus during His earthly ministry, and even they¬†doubted; what chances do we have of going through life free from the debilitating effects of doubt! It has been said that “If you’ve never doubted, then you never really believed in the first place”. If that isn’t just merely editorial, we must be in good company. Many of the great fathers of Apologetics began life as atheists, agnostics, deists, or came to Jesus from other belief systems. Men like C.S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel, and Thomas Aquinas, to mention a few.

If you've never doubted, then you never really believed in the first place Click To Tweet

Forgiveness & Doubt

Unfortunately, being in good company doesn’t always make for a good party; surely Hell will be full of A-Listers but I doubt that any of them would choose to stay if given the choice to leave, no matter how many blue bloods are roasting with them. Knowing that Peter denied Jesus three times or that Thomas needed to put his finger in Jesus’ side before proclaiming “my Lord and my God”, does very little to shore up my standing during these moments of crisis.

Two thousand years later I have just as many questions as hairs on my head. If I can just go back in time a week or so before this thought pattern began; before I entertained any of these questions for longer than the 2 milliseconds that they are usually allowed to stick around for, I wouldn’t be in this predicament. Luckily¬† Thankfully,¬† 2,000 years ago, Jesus was thinking of messy, fickle humans like you and I and through us a lifeline. His reply to Thomas tells us what Jesus thinks of our faith; my faith and yours!

If I can just go back in time a week or so before this thought pattern began before I entertained any of these questions for longer than the 2 milliseconds that they are usually allowed to stick around for, I wouldn't be in this… Click To Tweet

Doubt’s Hindsight

How many of us say to ourselves: “if I had been in Peter’s or Thomas’ shoes, I wouldn’t have doubted as they did.” We think of ourselves as having more faith; or at least the sort of faith that would have believed under those¬†circumstances! We’ll never know if that is true or; if permitted, we’ll have that¬†answer as well on the other side of Eternity. Perhaps, it’s for the best that we were born when we were. After all, Jesus’ response to Thomas gives us lots of credit for fighting the good fight in our modern concrete jungles. in the very next verse, Jesus said,

Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed. - John 20:29 Click To Tweet

In God’s eyes, our faith is stronger! We were given a different set of facts, a different set of signs and wonders than what the apostles were given. Granted, some of us may have very well seen the dead rise, or cancers cured or limbs grow back but, for the most part, our faith is based on personal experiences with the Word and its Truth working in our lives. The Apostles and the Pharisees of Jesus’ time were there: the Apostles marveled in awe; the Pharisees pouted because He was healing on the Sabbath so it¬†must have been from Beelzebub.

In the end, no amount of evidence convinced the large majority of Jesus’ countrymen that He was the Christ. Jesus himself said in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.‚ÄĚ Stuart Chase, I believe, said it best when he commented that for those who believe, no proof is necessary, for those who¬†don’t¬†believe, no proof is possible”.

If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead. Click To Tweet

Today’s Doubters

As Christians, as humans, as thinkers, a bit of doubt and skepticism is par for the course. God invites us constantly and consistently to “reason together“; He is not afraid of your difficult questions and He’s certainly won’t be insulted that you have doubts. There’s no reason to keep your doubts to yourself and let them fester. Consider this: you’re keeping your doubts to yourself (not addressing them with God) because you don’t want to offend the same God that you doubt exists, or loves, or cares, or sees? If He’s real: He cares, He sees, He loves and is longing to address your needs; if He’s not real: the answers to your questions (along with the questions themselves) don’t matter.

[Tweet “Consider this: you’re keeping your doubts to yourself (not addressing them with God) because you don’t want to offend the same God that you doubt exists, or loves, or cares, or sees?”]

The future of Doubt: Faith

Dear friend, doubt is debilitating only if you let it. You’re not an atheist, believe me. You’re a thinker; you are who He created you to be.¬†The God we serve is not a figment of our imagination: He doesn’t stop existing when we stop thinking about Him or have doubts; we serve Him still, in the doubt, through the doubt, in spite of the doubt and, just as important, because of our doubts. The biggest victories in my Christian walk always came after such moments; when God stepped into history, again, for me, and showed me just how real He really is. The only figments of imagination are, truly, us! We exist only because of Him. He constantly thinking of us, sustaining us, supplying life, and holding Nature together so that we may exist in it.

The biggest victories in my Christian walk always came after such moments; when God stepped into history, again, for me, and showed me just how real He really is. Click To Tweet

Neither Taxes nor Tithes – Part 1

I paid taxes for the first time when I was sixteen. I paid my “tithes” at the age of twenty-six. I’ve been looking forward to a time be without them ever since. Neither taxes nor tithes.

No one likes taxes. After death, taxes are the most hated part of life. Among Believers, tithes are a hot topic. No two Christians think alike. Between taxes and tithes, we have perhaps summed up the bane of most people’s existence.

Although taxes happen to everyone, tithes are not as universal. These topics are heavily debated in the Bible. In the Old Testament, Malachi 1 asks the question: “Are we robbing God”? In the New Testament, the Pharisees ask the question, “do we have to pay both”(Mat 22:15-22)? Ask most pastors and you’ll get a double affirmative; ask a layperson and you’ll find lots of space for debate.

As for Tithes

Full disclosure: I don’t tithe. As for taxes, I try limiting those as well. Let me give some context. Tithing is of the Old Testament. Anyone still bound by the Law tithes. Thankfully, I am not bound. My Bible teaches me that I am part of a Royal Priesthood. Some would argue that Jesus favored tithing. The Text and His teachings point elsewhere (Mat 17:25-27).

Exemption as Sons

Neither Taxes Nor Tithes

We have become children of God through adoption (Gal 4). We are no longer strangers but heirs. Earthly kings don’t tax their own children. They tax strangers. How much more does God not tax His own! At best, I am to receive¬†tithes on behalf of the Father. Levites didn’t own land to tithe from: their tithe came from the tithes that the people gave them (Numbers 18:21-32). As far as taxes, Levites only paid Temple tax. The Davidic kings never taxed the priesthood; they were set apart¬†unto the Lord. The poll taxes applied to the general population only.

Lady Tremaine’s Tutelage

Unfortunately, tithing has been used for centuries to shame Believers into submission. In a myriad of ways, intentionally misleading or genuinely uninformed church leaders have made Christians of every denomination feel as if they had robbed God! Imagine having something of worth that God could possibly want from you! Many critics of the Church point to the atrocities committed towards unbelievers. Upon closer look, greater violence transpired towards Believers. Where the Bible calls us sons and heirs and exempt, the Church took on the role of Cinderella’s stepmom. Whatever our Father left us as inheritance was quickly confiscated and reallocated.

The poster child for such violence was the Catholic church. In the form of the Papal States, Popes, bishops, and other church dignitaries lorded it over Believers to conform to their every whim. This is not an attack on the Catholic church. Rather the men that comprised its hierarchy. They taxed the poor to death with no sign of Christian mercy. All too often the richest and most powerful landowners in medieval Europe were members of the clergy. Very Jesus-like!

As for Taxes

While many think that the Pharisees only exist in Judaism. I disagree. The Pharisaical spirit is alive and well in the Church today. Similarly, the same machinations that brought the learned of Jesus’ day to hide behind empty adherence only to the Word still drives many in the modern Church.

As we have said before, everyone hates taxes. In a¬†perfect world, we would have neither taxes nor tithes. By the wonder-working power of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have been freed from the yoke of the tithe. But what will free us from the yoke of taxes? Not your accountant.

Give unto Caesar

In all fairness, Pharisees and penny-pinching Believers aren’t the only ones trying to skirt the system. Our modern capitalist western world is based on everyone being free to produce and keep what they profit. Nevertheless, their is a cost to capitalism. How much should a good¬†government cost an average citizen? I would like to propose that it was in this spirit that the Pharisees asked Jesus the infamous question, “it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar”?

The Pharisees’ motives were not well-intentioned. However, there is more room for growth here, I believe. No one wants to pay taxes! Some claim that it’s “patriotic” and the “right thing to do”. That may very well be. However, in my own selfish calculations, as a Citizen of Heaven exempt by God Almighty Himself from tithing, what power does a secular authority hold over me to separate me from my hard-earned money? Let’s examine.

Raw Deal

It is plain for all to see that the cost of government keeps going up. As of 2018, the average American needs to work until April 19th just to pay off his tax burden. Taxes go beyond tithes and cost us between a quarter and a third of our income. This is called Tax Freedom Day. This obviously varies by state and has changed over time. The most recent numbers are no better. Americans are having to work well into the second week of May to pay for the burden of government. Compared to other countries, Americans are golden. In fact, it would appear that Europeans are all de facto government employees since many of them keep less than 50% of what they make.

When Christians consider how often tax money gets spent on morally objectionable endeavors it is no surprise that we try to find loops and cracks and crannies to avoid the “Man”. Perhaps the most objectionable earmark is abortion. While Christians are busy preaching “life more abundant” to the world, the government is shoulder deep in blood guilt of 56 million children.

And a child shall lead them

Nonetheless, there is hope. In part 2 we will discuss the unimaginable future that awaits Believers. Regardless of the ideology brought forth to justify this Judaism-lite form of Christianity to what “legitimate” governments did with our tax money, change is coming. Redemption is coming. The “promise land” is near. The Millennium Reign of Jesus Christ will usher in an eternity free from the bondage of slavery to sin, an end to the impossibility of justification by the Law, and an existence where God-given potential is stifled by the fickleness of men. It will finally be an existence free from limits. Neither taxes nor tithes!

Why have you come? Are you not entertained?

Entertained by chance

I grew up in a small denominational church. On any given Sunday, we had about 110 people in the building. The church was full. The choir loft was full.  The pews were all taken. The hymns were old and the message was good. The pastor would hit you over the head with brimstone, slap a cross on your back, wash your tears away with the Blood, and have you rejoicing as Resurrection came at the end of every sermon. Entertained Believers was not the point. It was a happy coincidence. That was reality 25 years ago. As I fast-forward to this post-COVID reality, much has changed.

The church is still there; the hymns are still old, the message is still good but the passing of time exposes more and more of the blood-red cushions on the pews. Some have moved to different states where life is cheaper. However, too many, I feel, have moved on to other “bigger”, more hip, churches. No pews, just folding chairs. “Standing-room-only” is for the late comers. Choir lofts give way to concert stages. The hymns are replaced with modern music and the message has more in common with Dr. Phil’s self-help than Jesus’ self-sacrifice.

Entertained on purpose

In the churches where many have gone off to, pastors New York Times best-selling authors. The sanctuary is musically fine-tuned for maximum sound efficiency. The lighting is complex and computerized. the songs are popular and copyrighted by the church. The associate pastor is the pastor’s son and the message feels like a great big hug and a pat on the back for time well-served. You can’t help being entertained. In fact, the only real question everyone is asking themselves and each other is:

After all, who doesn’t like good music, young friendly faces, feel-good message, a light-hearted atmosphere, and a guilt-free conscience? My answer is “I don’t know, but I sure know who does“! I know what you’re saying, “there’s nothing wrong with…..”. And, begrudgingly, I would have to agree with you. God made it all: good music, good feelings, good atmosphere, etc. Consider this. Would anyone remember what the preacher said if the title wasn’t on the screen? Better yet: does anyone care what the preacher said? Another great question to get to the heart of the matter is: what are you here for?

The reason for the show

Don’t get me wrong, churches should stay relevant and people should feel “entertained”: as far as music and social media and architecture and all the rest: but not at the cost of the Gospel. You want no dress code: great; loud music: fine; you want a “come one, come all”: amazing; Jesus did too! But once you have them, hit them with the mind-numbing, Life-altering Truth of Jesus Christ. Give them the “streams of living water”; give them, the “Truth that sets you free”: give them the whole Gospel, not this new-Age “God loves you just as you are, and He made you just as you are”!

Yes, tell them God loves them, but tell them why God loves them. Tell them God loves them in spite of what they did and tell them what to do about it. Give them their current state of affairs and tell them of the amazing Love of God: But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Thirteen guys walking around together for three years, I am sure they were entertained! Click To Tweet

If anything in churches needs to modernize let it be everything possible but not everything imaginable. The Truth, as always, needs no compressor to smooth out the edges, no equalizers to make it universal, no filters to give it the right appeal, and no sub-woofers to give it the proper emphasis. If the message needs all of this then it’s not the Message that anyone needs. If they are to be entertained let it be on their way to heaven, not on their way to perdition.

Christians’ Hate Crimes

There has been a lot of dialogue these days about hate crimes. And you can’t talk about hate crimes without throwing the word “Christian” into the mix. It seems that the World can’t help but tie Christianity in general and Christians, in particular, to hate crimes with every opportunity they get. The time has come to set the record straight.

Christians’ hate and their crimes

I’ve often heard the quote, “if you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you”? Over the years I have given my indictability considerable thought. The following is a non-exclusive list of indictments to measure your culpability as a Christian hate crimes culprit. But beware, only the most committed Christians commit all the hate crimes necessary to make it on the World’s most wanted list.

If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Click To Tweet

Christians’ Hate Crime #1: Naturalistic Worldview?

Perhaps the easiest one to figure out, even for the most novice Christian is the belief in a binary gender and heterosexual worldview. That is if you believe that genetically, physically, biologically and most importantly, naturally, there can be only men and women you are by definition a bigot. Scientists have spent the last three centuries preaching to us that “nature is all there is“. They insist anything that cannot be observed, weighed, measured, or otherwise experienced through the five senses is pure superstition. Now that we are stating their axiom back to them to show how misguided their 27 genders are, they decide to move the goalpost.¬†

That new goalpost is now Relativism.¬† Secularists quickly realized that their “scientific method” approach to categorizing and cataloging everything was limited. Nature, after all, screams out rules and order while since the ’60s they’ve been screaming “I did it my way”. Nature doesn’t allow for same-sex members of a population to add value to the gene pool.¬†

We could go on and on about how even their theory of evolution, despite their best efforts, doesn’t explain why “nature” would allocate resources to individuals with “homosexual” tendencies. They insist that some species engage in homosexual relationships. They cannot fathom these behaviors being part of anything else. Things like establishing hierarchy. No. They like how their flawed ideology gives them the bandwidth to feel great about themselves while still accusing Christians and others of hate crimes.¬†

Christians’ Hate Crime #2: Binary Mindset

Along similar lines of Christian Hate Crimes #1, if your worldview brings you to the conclusion that sexual relations can only happen between a man and a woman then you have automatically denied the existence of the other 20+ genders. Such bigotry! The fact that there is not one shred of objective¬†scientific evidence to support it doesn’t stop the humanists. There “evidence” is based on “sociological experiments” and surveys. Again, nothing to do with objective, measurable data points.¬†

“Lucy, you’ve got some splaining to do!”

The poster child by far for this insanity should be this story out of the California prison system. A transgender inmate at Chino Prison Facility is now… you guessed it. Pregnant. Feel free to read the story. When you return from being totally disgusted, please leave a comment below for a possible explanation on what brought this biological man-turned-woman to feel the “urge” to allegedly raping several women.¬†

Christian hate crimes
Transgender biological male in all-women prison fathering children.

The world doesn’t require that you hate those who differ and practice differently for it to be considered a hate crime. Not at all. If you’re a Christian, all it takes to commit this hate crime is to simply speak that worldview aloud. In most cases being known for espousing these views is proof enough. In fact, the crime is aggravated if you are speaking such Truth to someone that practices a homosexual lifestyle. It adds insult to injury. Often, they are so enraged by your Christianity that no sensible argument you can possibly muster ever makes it through their preconceived notions.¬†

Christians’ Hate Crime #3: Exclusive ideology

Another humanistic hate crime that Christians always trigger has to do with other religions. Christians (and every other world belief system) claim exclusivity to Truth. Like any sane believer of any religion, Christians believe that their worldview is the correct one. Claiming Jesus is the only way to God is the easiest way to get labeled a bigot. Anyone that claims this to others is automatically associated with the worst crimes in history and affiliated with the most unredeemable among us. 

The benefit of a poor education

Secularists have a funny way of recalling history. In their mind, Hitler was a Christian.¬† Mao, Pol Pol, and Stalin on the other hand were Athiest visionaries. From where they’re standing “religion killed more people” than any other difference among humans combined. These so-called humanists forget who were the targets of their cleansing. Stalin persecuted the Christians and homosexuals alike. The Gulags were full of them. The open graves were full of gypsies and Jews and other undesirables. Luckily for them, those truths never make it into the halls of liberal academia. In the end, they will be able to claim ignorance as their defense.¬†

Secularists have a funny way of recalling history. In their mind, Hitler was a Christian. On the other hand, Mao, Pol Pol, and Stalin were misunderstood Athiest visionaries. Click To Tweet

Net Neutrality for Religions

Again, as you can imagine Islam or Judaism have exclusive claims of their own. Yet, Christians are special in the sense that the hate crime label applies only to them. When Muslims say “there is only one god, Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet”, the humanists don’t seem as easily triggered to label that as a hate crime. Even as I write this post, spell-check wants me to capitalize the word “god” in the Muslim credo above, but often doesn’t require the same when writing of the Judeo-Christian God (Exhibit A).¬†

They actually go a step further and at times encourage the message of Islam over the “hegemonic” Christian worldview in the name of plurality. The reason? Christianity has had such a long solid run unopposed in the western world for so long.¬† In their logic, regardless of its merits, Islamdeserves a hand up.

Basically, it comes down to this. The Christian’s hate crime is actually that of being¬†a Christian. No one holds the atheist to such standards! Accusing an atheist of hate crimes is unheard of! The same holds true for Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, and all the rest. These individuals are, rightly, entitled to their exclusive, black and white, in or out worldview. However, when Christians opine their deeply held beliefs, the “hate crime” label is never too far away.¬†

The exception to every rule

Unfortunately for Jews, antisemitism is never out of style amongst secularists. For that matter, almost every ideology in the history of mankind has always left a spae to hate on Jews in a special way. However, the hate expressed towards Jews is not specifically of a religious nature. As Christians, we know that the demonic powers behind humanism and secularism have always hated the seed of Abraham and the sons of Jacob.

Unfortunately for Jews, antisemitism is never out of style amongst secularists. For that matter, almost every ideology in the history of mankind has always left a spae to hate on Jews in a special way. Click To Tweet

Let us reason together

I know. Many of you have tried to explain yourselves too many times before. You’ve exhausted your energy and resources trying to explain that Christianity and Christians don’t¬†hate¬†people that are different; We are to love them. You’ve ceded more ground than you will ever admit to just so that you can have some commonality, a least common denominator, to start a dialogue from. All of that only taught you one thing: if you want them to agree with you, you have to cede it all! They don’t particularly care if you’re best friend is (fill in the blank). That just makes you a closet hater. That is actually worse. In that case, your Christian hatred is subconscious and deeply rooted in who you have always been. It’s the basics of the CRT movement. But that’s a story for another day.

What Would Jesus Do?

It seems that, as Christians, there’s only one way to get out of this hate crimes mess. For many of us, the answer occurred to us by the second or third paragraph. Some of us are a bit more thick-skulled. Too many of us are enjoying the debate too much. I put myself at the head of the pack. When someone accuses me or Christians of hate crimes, I don’t refer them back to the Bible; I don’t turn the other cheek (Mat 5:39). I get into it with them to show them how smart I am and how¬†wrong¬†they are. Rather than pointing them to the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I point them to my “intellect”: the very thing that I’m arguing against.

Christian hate crimes
He would love first

A few decades ago, the acronym “WWJD” went mainstream. It began with Christian youth groups and slowly spread to all Believers.¬† ¬†These days, non-believers use it in jest or sarcasm when looking to shut down an argument with a loud-mouth Christian. What Jesus would do is still confusing for many of us. We talk about the Jesus of the New Testament as a loving “softy” while trying to reconcile Him with the hardline Yahweh of the Old Testament. We dish out fire and brimstone and expect them to come to Salvation through Faith by Grace. The saying “you’re the only Bible people will ever read” finds, all too often, little application in our everyday lives (2 Cor 3:2-3).¬†

Where to go from here

In the end, this debate is not about winning the argument. The Triune God and His inspired Word don’t depend on our lackluster defense to transform lives. It’s actually the other way around. Our evangelism efforts depend wholly¬†on Him. We have to understand that the debate is only an opportunity to engage in dialogue. Yes, stand up for what is True, Just, and Right and Wrong and Sin and its wages. But by all means, don’t make people trip over you on their way to Him. Next time, don’t point them to your eloquence or your grasp of Christian theology. Point them to Jesus and His word. The same Power that rose Lazarus and Jesus from the grave, split the Red Sea, and converted Saul of Tarsus is still able to change hearts and minds.¬†

 

 

Mark of the Yeast and Post Covid Vaccine Christianity

End Time Frenzy

No, no need to check the spelling, the play on words is intentional. We’ve all heard of the “mark of the beast” and seen movies depicting different interpretations of what it could be. Rest assured that this post will not try to assume some groundbreaking theology on the subject. However, we will discuss how while we were all looking for the mark of the beast, the “yeast” and the “leaven” have made their way into the Body of Christ, and nowhere is it more apparent than the current debate over covid and the vaccine.

Look over there! Where?

We’ve all either heard or had the debate: “is the covid vaccine the mark of the beast”? Now, if you ask me I would say an emphatic “no”. I don’t believe that the covid vaccine is¬†the mark of the beast. However, just like we read in the Bible that “many antichrists are already among us” (1 John 2:18-29), the covid vaccine is not necessarily¬†the¬†mark but¬†a mark. If you want evidence just look at what this debate has done to the Church.

On any given Sunday during the covid lockdown, youtube put on full display the separation that covid has created in the body of Christ. Live streams from churches across the country and around the world varied from “Zoom Church” where everyone was in their own house to churches that never went into lockdown. At first, the cautionary tale seemed to have worked: people stayed home so that they “could keep the elderly congregants safe”. So safety replaced attendance. Please note, both the healthy¬†and¬†the sickly self-quarantined.

Leave the gun, take the cannolis

Fast forward a few months and very little has changed. Otherwise healthy and/or vaccinated Believers are staying away from congregating with other Believers. Every other day these parishioners can be found meeting friends, shopping for food, clothes, and going to work. Apparently, church attendance takes a back seat to other priorities.

Now, the problem would be bad enough if we were just talking about wishy-washy Christians that wanted an excuse to stay home on Sunday. Unfortunately, there are many pastors out there that are comfortable with their parishioners staying home from church “as long as their faithful”. That’s pastor-speak for sending in your tithes and offerings. So as long as your money makes it to church, your presence is secondary.

Submit to the authorities

Adding insult to injury, those that decide to stay home are seen as the more mature ones, that understand the needs of others, and that doesn’t put their own “selfish ideologies” ahead of the health of the congregation. So, as you can see, it has become “reasonable” to not attend church, even high-minded! All of it under the consenting and compromising disguise of being “submitted to the authorities”. If I have to hear one more sermon about being submitted to the authorities I’ll start reading the Declaration of Independence out loud from the pew! At this point, you may be asking, “what does the mark of the beast have to do with yeast and the covid vaccine”? Great question! I’m glad we’re on the same page.

To start answering this question, consider this: when was the last time the World emulated the Church? Short answer: probably never. On the other hand, when was the last time the Church emulates the World? Always! I don’t know of many Fortune 500 board meetings and have an opening prayer. However, I can assure you that every church board in the country takes its example from the corporate world. From Roberts Rules to quorums to minutes, just to name a few.

“[Covid vaccine] It’s for the children”

Now, don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything explicitly evil about quorums or minutes. There is something very wrong, however, when the pulpit starts sounding like a public service announcement encouraging Believers to “get vaccinated”. And that is where we are right now as Believers.

In the same manner, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with vaccines. Except that this particular vaccine is the only one that has received so much political attention in modern history. Those that were for vaccinations before the elections are now pushing for it at lightning speed. Not only that but if you refuse to be vaccinated, you are putting your livelihood at risk. If the covid vaccine isn’t a warm-up for the mark of the “yeast”, I can’t imagine what more explicit sign Believers are looking for.

The World and its demonic marionette handlers have been working for decades, centuries for ways to undo the Church from the inside. So far, those attempts have met with varying levels of success. But when it comes to covid and the vaccine, the Enemy has found some fresh new ground to work on. It has used the love that many in the Church still hold towards legalism and used it in a way that doesn’t trigger the legalism alarm. It’s brilliant really. Just have the congregation split over something that is trivial (it is my belief that Covid is trivial) and elevate it to a matter of “reasonableness” and public health.

Covid and the Leaven of the Pharisees

In the Gospel accounts, Jesus tells His disciples to “be wary of the leaven (yeast) of the Pharisees” (Mat 16:1-12). His disciples, not understanding, thought He was upset because they didn’t have any bread. Jesus had just had a discussion with some teachers of the Law. They had come to test Jesus and ask Him from a sign from Heaven. Jesus had no need to show them a sign, His ministry had been well underway by this point and His miracles were readily known to all.

While they were all looking for signs, Jesus reminded them that they already knew how to recognize signs. Their misfortune is that, with all their learning, they could only forecast the weather and not the times. Similarly, our modern-day would-be spiritual leaders are overwhelmed with fielding questions of end-time prophecy while not understanding the times we are actually in.

The Children of Issachar

The Bible speaks of the descendants of Issachar as being gifted with the ability to “understand the times” (1 chr 12:32). It seems that such a gift is not all too prevalent among our leaders. I wonder what those men of old would say in our current situation. Today the divide along covid and vaccine lines is even more apparent than any other distinguishing characteristic: above party, race, color, ethnicity, and income. Nothing divides the Church today more than the debate over covid, its origin, and the vaccine.

I believe these men of old would say that the vaccine is not necessarily the problem but a symptom. Our division over covid brings to light a whole other myriad of real doctrinal problems. And although everyone is free to disagree as to the magnitude of this issue, the list of grievances is too long to overlook.

Mountains or Molehills

For starters, it shows our division as to the role of government in the Church. Politicians ask “under what conditions can a Church be told to shut its doors?” On the receiving end, too many pastors don’t take the time to field a reply because they are too busy complying with their every demand.

Don’t be deceived, friends. The antichrist and the mark of the beast will arrive on the scene. When they do it will be with the explicit and public complicity of the Church. In the name of “peaceful coexistence” and other such unobjectionable phrases, many would-be Believers will be coerced into doing something their own conscience is screaming at the top of its lungs, “no”!

Truth be told

You see, it doesn’t really matter if the covid vaccine is the mark of the beast. What is most troubling is the peaceful coexistence the Church has found with the World System. Very few churches were forced to shut down. All the rest just went dark without even a second thought. This speaks volumes of the amount of influence even blatantly unconstitutional mandates have among Believers. And all of this just because we took this one verse (1 Pet 2:13) and made it the Verse of the Covid Era. We made submitting to authorities our testimony. Submitting to God instead would have served our testimony better.

Our spiritual forefathers were burned at the stake. Some wouldn’t even catch fire. The wind always blew the flames away from the pyre. Others were fed to hungry lions in the arenas. Others beheaded. Still, others were killed together with their families. All of these things and so many other countless atrocities were suffered by Christians throughout the centuries in the name of their Faith. They were executed because of their refusal to renounce Jesus Christ. They wanted nothing to do with anything that did not exalt the name of Jesus. In total contrast, modern Christian leaders are falling over each other to cozy up to big powerful interests.

Now what?

Again, you may not agree that covid or the vaccine is a sign of the end times of a mark of the beast or that our leadership has been influenced by the “yeast of the Pharisees”. However, I think we can agree, as one famous preacher said, “it’s a dress rehearsal”.¬†Let’s not kid ourselves, they¬†will try to shut us down again. They will tell us that it’s “for the children” or for “the elderly” or for “safety”. The harrowing cry of every autocratic takeover of the rights of Man has always been “safety and bread”.

They will tell us to stay home and send us stimulus checks. Like good lemmings, we will take the money and spend it on the websites of their lobbyists for food, clothing, and entertainment. As Spirit-filled, Bible-believing Christians it is our duty to speak up and speak out against Believers falling asleep at the wheel. Whether the Believers in questions are pew warmers or pulpit thumpers.