Saturday, 22 October 2011

The 23rd Psalm, Revisited

Last night I had a difficult and restless night, waking up often to a darkness that was darker than the darkness of the room. I felt like I was wrestling more than the blankets and sheets that wanted to tangle themselves around me. I felt small and inferior to the tasks that I have a difficult time keeping up with... I cried out "Oh....Jesus..." and a verse came to mind:

Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

See also my other Psalm 23 posting

Two things gave comfort –
The Shepherd’s rod: The rod which the Shepherd carried was for protecting the sheep from predators. It was never used on the sheep. (Whew!) Do we not gain comfort from the fact that it is Almighty God who is our Shepherd! No robber, predator or enemy ever takes Him by surprise!
The Shepherd’s staff: The staff was used by the Shepherd to direct the sheep in the way in which they should go, and, in the case of a wandering nosey sheep, to pull it back into line[8]. Again, there is comfort in the fact that God directs us and even discipline from the Lord (pulling us back into line!) can be seen as comforting for it is a sign that He loves us scripture says (Heb 12:6)
( Link to the above)

Here are some sheep and shepherding facts that are helpful in understanding our relationship to our Good Shepherd:

The Good Shepherd Cares for His Sheep (us)

Monday, 10 October 2011

What Spirit? Where is the Discernment?

 Yesterday I had a patient who said she hadn't eaten for "a number of days", and was only drinking water. She didn't want to tell how long she hadn't eaten. I asked her why and she told me the Holy Spirit told her to fast. She otherwise seemed ok, a woman in her 60's nice hair, good hygiene , etc. I asked her why she came to the hospital, and asked if she came because concerned family members brought her. She admitted this was the case. I then asked how long she was going to keep fasting. She said until "the spirit" told her to eat... so I asked what would be the sign that she was to eat,...she said she would know and then asked me if I was a born again Christian. I told her "Yes, I am" to which she then replied "Then why don't you know the answer, you should know the voice of the Holy Spirit", and asked me if I ever fasted. I said I used to fast, juice fasts as well as water only fasts, when I was in NAM (the new age movement) and that there are "other voices" that we need discernment. I said to her gently: "I understand why your family is concerned, don't you?" and she agreed that she knew why they would be concerned.

When I took her back to the nursing module I prayed that the true Holy Spirit would help her, and hoped that a few seeds were planted.

There are so many who are being misled by voices thinking they are being guided by the Spirit of God. This woman seemed rational but she couldn't tell me why the "Holy Spirit" would tell her to do this fast, or for how long she would have to do it. Where is the discernment today? We are not to listen to "every spirit", and the devil himself will disguise himself as an "angel of light" and try to convince us that he is god himself. He hates us and is a robber (of life) a murderer, and a deceiver. We must be very diligent to know WHAT is true, and WHO is true. I pray for more oil in our lamps.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Pre, Mid, or Post Trib Rapture?

Today's Church is very soft and weak, imho. We have become conditioned to "Have it our way" instead of trusting that even if we (like Daniels 3 friends were) get thrown into a fire, God will see us through...and that even if we (like the early church martyrs) get our heads chopped off for not denying Jesus, He will bless us and bring us into His presence when our mortal bodies expire. So why do so many want to escape all tribulation and think that there is an escape hatch that Jesus is going to keep His true ones from suffering any hardship or pain and persecution? That we will avoid tribulation is exactly contrary to what the Bible REALLY  says. Dr Robert Luginbill had this on his Q & A page, and thought it very good:

Question #2: 
Dear Dr. Luginbill, I believe that faith in our Lord saves and not one's theology i.e., belief in pre-trib rapture, but my question to my friends is if they are not raptured and find they are in the Great Tribulation would they also find that their misunderstanding of scripture had done them no harm and even so be spiritually able to get through it? All said yes, but they still believe they will be raptured. And if you and I are wrong, won't that be a nice surprise! Why do you think so many people are so insistent about being right on this point, and how much difference does it make? Again, thanks and God bless.
Response #2:
The list of good and true believers who wrongly believe in a pre-trib rapture is very long indeed. My main complaint is with pastor-teachers who should know better. Anyone who is reasonably prepared in biblical languages, theology, and some basic hermeneutics – and who reads his Bible diligently every day – could not help but to be at the very least beset with doubts and concerns about this issue. Some doctrines of scripture are plainly difficult to develop and honest disagreements on these are understandable. But in my view, the pre-trib rapture does not fall into this category. There simply is not a single passage in scripture which even seems to teach it prima facie (i.e., it is not something that a person would ever come up with on their own by reading the Bible if they had not been taught it first by someone else). And there are only a scant few passages which may superficially seem to agree with it if one doesn't probe too deeply. On the other hand, that our great hope is the resurrection of the Church at the return of Christ, His parousia, is taught throughout the New Testament and was clearly taken for granted in apostolic days.

So I have to ask myself, why it is that so many prepared men have chosen to stick with this what-I-believe-to-be so dangerous false teaching? The answer seems to be that they have embraced tradition over truth, and that is also dangerous in and of itself, because once one lets go of scripture as the guiding light in exchange for any other standard, no matter how well meant, there is no end to the amount of falsehood that can creep in on the one hand, and on the other hand this attitude becomes both a symptom and a cause of degeneration in the teaching of the truth of the Bible.

Inasmuch as we are on the threshold of the greatest deception and greatest apostasy of believers in world history, being wrong on this issue (and on other issues as a result of not caring enough about the Bible to change one's position even though it may be uncomfortable) has the potential of producing egregious harm to self and to all who listen and accept the wrong view. I know your friends mean well, but the problem is, to use a military example, the time to learn military discipline and procedure is not when you find yourself being shot at for the first time. Without these qualities already drilled in, you are likely to panic and run (as in fact very often happens to conscript armies who have never been properly trained).

The Tribulation is going to be very difficult (what an understatement!), and it will at the very least place those who have squandered opportunities to prepare at a tremendous disadvantage. Add to this the fact that true Bible teaching will likely be very difficult to come by in the Tribulation (see the link:The dearth of Bible teaching in the Tribulation" in CT 3A, and we have a recipe for apostasy among those who have been lackadaisical during the calm before the storm. Failing to understand that they need to prepare contributes to the problem. For if your friends (or any Christian who believes in a pre-Trib rapture) really believed and understood that they were possibly going to have to negotiate the Tribulation, it just stands to reason that on the one hand they would be preparing more aggressively now, and on the other hand that they would be less inclined to have their faith undermined or eroded altogether when it suddenly became clear at that future time that what they had believed was wrong (i.e., thus causing them in the crucible of unprecedented pressure to doubt everything else they have come to believe as well).

Yes it would be wonderful if you and I were wrong. It would be a great relief if, like Enoch, the Lord just took us out of all our trouble. My reading of scripture, however, tells me that we have a very important job to do: to demonstrate to men and angels alike that come what may we are going to remain faithful to Jesus – even in the midst of the Tribulation. For this I am preparing and to this end I am trying to help others get ready as well (see the link: “Coming Tribulation”). But it is hard to motivate people who remain convinced that nothing bad is ever going to happen to them.
In this world you do have tribulation. But be courageous. I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

[They were] strengthening the hearts of the disciples, and encouraging them to remain in the faith, and saying "We must pass through many tribulations to reach the Kingdom of God".
Acts 14:22

And we sent Timothy to you, our brother and co-worker in the gospel of God and of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that none of you might waver in the midst of these tribulations. For you yourselves know [very well] that we have been appointed for this (i.e., to endure pressure in this life). Indeed, when we were with you I was warning you that we [all Christians] were destined to be persecuted (lit., tribulated).
1st Thessalonians 3:2-4
If this is true of Christian life generally (for all those who are truly committed to spiritual growth at any rate), how much more will it not be so during that time of intense pressure to come? Here is the verse which rings in my ears about our likely future job (potentially - none of know exactly what the Lord has in store):
Strengthen the hands that are weak. Steady the knees that are giving way. Say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong! Don't be afraid! Look, your God is coming to avenge you. God [will] recompense [both them and us]! He will come! And He will rescue you!
Isaiah 35:4-5
Whether we are taken home before all this, martyred in the cause of Jesus Christ, or destined to endure until the blessed day of our Lord's return, our purpose needs to be to get ready for all of these eventualities and to help others to do so as well. In my experience and observation, the pre-Trib rapture is a tremendous detriment to all of these things (for reasons I have written about in the series linked above). I certainly don't blame your Christian friends. I love and pray for all my brothers and sisters in Christ. In fact, I commend you both for your willingness to share your point of view with others, and for the appropriately diplomatic and loving way in which you are clearly doing it. I too feel that is very important not to break fellowship over this issue. Observation that there are other genuine Christians who do not share the rose-colored pre-Trib view is the best way to get them thinking. And if they start thinking, they will start reading their Bibles. And if they read long and honestly enough, they will be led to the truth.

In our Lord whose return is our blessed hope,

Bob L.