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Are there many paths to God and Heaven?

This is a really disturbing trend in the world today; did I say Christian world today. The belief that there are many paths to God and to Heaven is really prevalent in the church. This is disturbing as churches continue to turn from the doctrinal truths in these Last Days and rally around worldly doctrines or doctrines that tickle their ears!

I read an article yesterday by Stephanie Samuel pointing out this trend in the current church. Enjoy and really search your heart on this disturbing trend.

Author: Most Evangelicals Believe Good People are Heaven-Bound

By Stephanie Samuel|Christian Post Reporter

 

The majority of Protestants and evangelicals believe that good people and people of other religions can go to heaven, according to author David Campbell.

Campbell, who co-wrote American Grace, How Religion Divides and Unites Us, contends that surveys of 3,000 Americans, used to write the book, show that American people of faith, though devout, are very tolerant. So much so that most believers also believe that good people, despite their religious affiliation, can go to heaven.

Among the faiths, 83 percent of evangelical Protestants agreed that good people of other religions can go to heaven. Ninety percent of black Protestants also believe good people can go to heaven.

When prodded further, more than half – 54 percent – of evangelical Protestants said yes, people of religions other than Christianity can go to heaven. Sixty-two percent of black Protestants agreed with the statement.

Notably, the author mentioned that there may be some in the evangelical category that don’t belong.

Campbell, an expert of religion, politicsand public policy, explained at a Thursday discussion of his book that the numbers can be explained with the “Aunt Susan” theory. Aunt Susan, he said, is the nice family member who is well-loved and is an all around do-gooder.

“You know that if anyone is destined to go to heaven, it’s Aunt Susan,” described Campbell.

However, Aunt Susan is of another religion. Rather than condemn that person to a lost eternity, Campbell said, most American believers choose instead to believe that that person is heaven-bound.

He also shared that knowing an Aunt Susan opens believers up to other faiths.

“You become warmer not only to people of that group, but to people of other groups,” Campbell contended.

Simply put, interlocking social networks allows believers to accept tenants of other faiths.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, works with leaders of many faiths on issues such as stopping pornography, abortion and religious persecution.

“That doesn’t mean that I’m going to abandon the New Testament teaching,” he stated.

Those who do so to accommodate other beliefs “aren’t very good evangelicals,” in his view.

Land lamented that more evangelicals are being taught the doctrine of universalism. “It’s emphasized from the pulpit; it’s emphasized in the seminaries,” he decried.

Universalism is the theological doctrine that all people will eventually be saved despite a relationship with Christ.

He said this is especially true of youths because the messages from the pulpit have changed.

“I think the doctrine ‘In Christ alone’ … was emphasized more 25 years ago than it is today so young [people] are hearing about it less,” he revealed.

While Land said it is possible for Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and even Catholics to follow the tenants of their faiths and have salvation in Jesus Christ, he stated that the same is not true for Buddhists, Muslims and Mormons.

“It is impossible to believe what Mormons believe and be a Christian. It is impossible to believe what Muslims believe and be a Christian,” he said.

Likewise, he acknowledged that there may be unsaved believers among Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and Catholics. Salvation, the biblical requirement for heaven, is an individual and personal choice, he told The Christian Post.

Land said he quotes the Bible’s New Testament which states that there is one mediator between God and men and that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life to all those who ask about heaven. If missionary work and evangelism is to continue on into the future, other Protestants must do the same, he asserted.

“If the price of respecting your faith is to deny mine, then that price is too high,” declared Land.

Campbell’s discussion was held at the Pew Forum in Washington, D.C.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1166

Homosexuality: The New Hot Button Topic in Church

Just in the last few days I have begun to see a more universal pattern in the church in America begin to hit home in the church in my local community. Homosexuality is a sin in Scripture plan and simple. We are not to encourage or condone the practice as followers of Jesus Christ.

We are to love all people, because we are all sinners. Some of us have chosen to recognize it and the need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. Those who do not chose a Savior, we need to encourage them towards Christ, we are to love them and we are to correct them.

So in the light here is the correction part. The church, especially here in America, is openly condoning homosexuality as an approved lifestyle. The main line denominations like, Methodist, Lutheran and Episcopalian are allowing gay marriage and even ordaining openly gay clergy or pastors.

These churches, their leadership and even the majority of their congregations are severely misled on this subject. The Lord Jesus does not want this in His true church. He is returning for a bride without spot and blemish and we are seeing this occur as the wheat is beginning to bow towards the ground as it’s Master approaches and the proud tares are standing high and proud and what truly awaits them is the Master’s sickle and the fire of the furnace.

This is truth and as followers of Jesus we need to stand proud of this! I have many people I know who live this sinful lifestyle, in work or in the community. They are nice and loving people not looking to hurt anyone. But they know where I stand on this issue that it is sin! I am bold in my love for them and bold in my telling them that their lifestyle is sinful.

What got me on this topic was my wife Tracey was reading through the local newspaper and came across an announcement of a Christmas event for here in Columbus, Ohio in the Entertainment and Arts section. It was an ad for the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus opening it’s 21st season with it’s annual performance of Joy! The scary thing is that the venues listed are not secular, THEY ARE CHURCHES! This is an open condoning of this lifestyle. And on top of it they are also allowing the mixing of this sinful lifestyle and to be mixed with the Holy and Sacred! Singing about the birth of our Lord and Savior! These venues are a major United Methodist church near downtown, a large Lutheran church in the northern suburbs and a second large, over 5,000 members, United Methodist church in a northwest suburb of Columbus!

People it is time to speak truth to this world and become the light of Christ. This is happening in our own backyards and it is now time to speak truth or we will be out of time and when we as followers of the Christ stand before Him we will need to answer for this!

Keep looking up!

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1128

Greg Laurie: We are seeing the Signs of the Times

Noted evangelist Greg Laurie from Harvest Church in California and former mentee of Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel in a recent opinion piece on WND.com is stating that we are in fact the Last Days church and are seeing the signs appearing all around us mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13.

Here is his op piece in its entirety:

A NEW BEGINNING
Are these signs of the times?
Exclusive: Greg Laurie considers recent events in view of God’s last-days proclamations


Posted: November 27, 2010
1:00 am Eastern
By Greg Laurie


Awhile back, I was in a restaurant in Arkansas. As my friends and I talked with the server and invited him to the event where I would be speaking that night, he asked me, “Do you think we are living in the last days? Do you think that Jesus Christ will come back in my lifetime?”

With all that is happening in our world today, a lot of people are asking that question. Looking at the recent earthquakes and tsunamis, the aggression of North Korea, the new nuclear capabilities that are being developed by Iran and the continuing threat of global terrorism can cause even the doubters to wonder whether these are the end times the Bible speaks of. Are we living in the last days? Is the end of the world near? Is Jesus Christ coming back again?

There is no bigger event that will ever take place in the world than the second coming of Jesus Christ. And it will happen. It is not a matter of if, but when. I am not the only one who believes it. A Gallup poll revealed that 66 percent of Americans believe that Jesus Christ is coming back to this earth in the future. That is at least 25 percent more Americans than those who claim to be born-again Christians. So it is not only Christians who necessarily believe it. A lot of people are beginning to sit up and take notice, and they believe Christ is coming back again.

When Jesus was asked what the sign of his return would be, he painted a picture of a world torn by strife and war, a world rocked by great earthquakes and ravaged by pestilence, and a world where there would be famine in the midst of plenty. He said, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken” (Luke 21:25 NIV).

The catastrophic tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004, was caused by the fourth most powerful undersea earthquake on record, an earthquake so forceful that it moved the entire island of Sumatra 100 feet to the southwest from its pre-quake position. Geologists said it literally sent the entire planet vibrating and actually interfered with the Earth’s rotation to the degree that time stopped for three milliseconds.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, earthquakes are increasing. Every decade for the past five decades has increased the number of earthquakes – not just minor ones, but what are now called “killer quakes.” It seems as though every catastrophic earthquake that occurs is said to be the strongest ever. Then another killer quake will come along that is even worse than the ones before.

Jesus likened these signs to a familiar human occurrence. He said they are the beginning of birth pains, or labor pains. They are the signs of the times the Bible tells us to be looking for that will alert us to the fact that Jesus Christ is coming back again. So as we see these things happen and increase in frequency, it means his coming is near.

Some people argue this has been going on for hundreds of years, that everyone thinks Jesus is coming back in their lifetime. I will grant that, but I would like to point out one thing to think about: Something really significant happened on May 14, 1948. The Jewish people who had been persecuted throughout history, who had been murdered in the millions by Hitler, began to return – as if on cue – to their homeland. And on that day in 1948, Israel was once again a nation. After the War of Independence, the modern state of Israel was declared, fulfilling a very significant Bible prophecy. It wasn’t just a sign; it was a super-sign. And it happened against all odds.

Still, it left the city of Jerusalem divided, with Jordan retaining control of the old city, including the Temple Mount and most of the historic area. But during the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli forces were able to capture the old city and reunify all of Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem was under Jewish control for the first time in many centuries, and another Bible prophecy had been fulfilled. The prophet Ezekiel said the Jewish people would be scattered and then regathered. After this takes place, he prophesied, Israel then would be isolated and ultimately attacked.

The Bible tells us that the end of the world as we know it, culminating in the final Battle of Armageddon, will happen in the Middle East. It also tells us that Jerusalem will be a key part of that as the nations of the world turn against her. In Zechariah 12:2–3, God said, “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.”

This is why we should not get our hopes too high when we see another Middle East peace treaty being signed. There might be a cessation of violence temporarily, but it will kick up again, according to what the Bible says. God says these things will happen, and he is telling us they are warnings we should be paying attention to.

Frankly, we don’t know what will happen next in our world. Any one of us could be a victim of terrorism or violent crime in these volatile times in which we live. I wish I could say there never will be another tsunami or another earthquake or another hurricane or another terrorist attack. But we live in a fallen world. And we know it will come to an end.

So is the end of the world near? I don’t know for certain, but clearly there are signs of the times.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1117

Heaven & Hell: Reality!

Heaven and Hell Talk

November 14, 2010

 

Heaven

Heaven will be better and grander than anything we can imagine and anything we have ever seen before.

It is important for us to talk about heaven for two reasons: first most people have questions about it like “hey I am a Christian, but I still fear death”. The second reason is since we will be spending a lot of time there if we are followers of Jesus; we need to know a little bit about it.

There are a lot of misconceptions about heaven and I hope to help clarify some of those today. Let’s read 1 Corinthians 2:9. The verse says you can’t even imagine. So you say, “Well, why even try?” We actually need to be thinking about it everyday because it will impact everything else we do in life.

The message of heaven will & should give us hope. Let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14. This passage tells us we are to have hope.

The next part of the talk is the theology of this place called Heaven. Scripture gives us a lot of insight to form our own biblically founded ideas or opinions about heaven. I encourage you when you leave here today to study this topic for yourselves.

A Theology of Heaven

 

The word heaven has interesting rootswhen you do a word study on it. In the Hebrew it is the word “shamayim” meaning “heights”. The Greek word for heaven is the word “ouranos” meaning “to raise up and lofty”. So we know that heaven is a place that is high and lifted up or lofty.

Let’s look at what Isaiah chapter 14 tells us about where heaven is located. This is the story of the fall of Lucifer or Satan. So we know from this passage that in order to get to heaven we need to ascend to it and that it is higher than the stars & clouds. We also know what direction we need to travel: north. An interesting side note about this northern location is that when astronomers look into space through their telescopes that when they point it in a northerly direction that there is a vast and enormous void with nothing there. They can not see where it ends. Could it be it is because that is the entry way into heaven? Just something to speculate on. We now know that heaven is beyond outer space since it is above the height of the stars & clouds.

The next question is how many heavens are there; is there only one? Well there are actually three heavens! First let’s look at 2 Corinthians 12:2-4.  The first heaven is the sky that we can see with our eyes. We find this told to us in passages like Psalm 147:8. The second heaven is space where the sun, moon, stars and galaxies are located. We find this told to us in Genesis 1:14-17. And then we have Paul’s description to us of the third heaven. This is where God’s throne is and where He dwells in the heavenly temple.

Next let’s talk about how we get there? The first way we can get there is if we die. Like I said in the opening one of the most frequent questions asked about heaven, even by believers, is “even though I am a believer in Christ, I still fear death”. Let me tell you there is nothing to fear! Let’s look first at 2 Corinthians 5:5-9.

We have a guarantee from God Himself. That if we are absent from the body then we are present with the Lord. Jesus has won the victory over death. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 tells us of this victory by Christ.

The second way we can go to heaven now is through an event called the Rapture. Let’s look at the event itself in Scripture quickly in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. This event is called the Rapture. When this event occurs believers in Christ alive here on earth will bodily meet the Lord in the air to go be with Him in heaven forever. Those who are already with the Lord will be reunited with their bodies.

We know we go to be with Jesus in this event since He tells us in John 14:1-2. He tells us He went back to the Father to prepare a place for us and that if He went to prepare a place for us that He will come back for us so we can be with Him forever.

What do we look like when we are in heaven for eternity? This is a harder question to answer but let me tell you what we know: 1 Corinthians 15: 51-53 tells us. So we will be changed in a twinkling of an eye. We will put in an imperishable, immortal body to live in for all eternity. Your next question will then be: okay so we have these immortal, indestructible or glorified bodies, but what do they look like and will we know each other. Let me tell you what we do know, we will be recognizable, these bodies will have flesh and bones still. How do I know that? Let’s look at the following passage in Luke 24 where Jesus provides us with a glimpse of what our future bodies will look like. Let’s look at Luke 24:36-43. So what do we see here: Jesus was recognizable by His disciples, He looked somewhat different because they thought He was ghost, He had hands and feet still, He had flesh and bones still and He also ate food with them. So this is what we know for sure about what our bodies will look like.

The last thing we need to cover from a theological perspective is that the present heaven & earth are not the final ones where we will spend eternity. Scripture tells us the following from 2 Peter 3 beginning in verse 10-13. So Peter is telling us that the old heavens will disappear with a roar and the earth will be destroyed by fire. But we should be looking forward to God keeping His promise to us of a new heaven and a new earth being created.

John is given the privilege of then describing to us what the new heaven and earth will look like. Let’s look at Revelation 21:1-4. John sees a new heaven and new earth replacing the old. He sees the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven and a voice tells him that now God is dwelling with man again and that He will live with us. We will be His people for eternity. There will be no more tears, no more death or mourning or crying for all the old has passed and we are with Him forever in perfect bliss.

Hell

 

The dictionary says that hell is “the place where wicked people are punished after death.” There are many people today who do not believe in a real hell. They might say something like this: “I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT A LOVING AND KIND GOD WOULD EVER PUNISH PEOPLE IN HELL!”

God is very loving and God is very kind, but God is also very HOLY and JUST and RIGHTEOUS. Let’s look at Psalm 5:4-5. Now let’s look at Psalm 7:11-12. We must never forget that God is holy and He hates sin.

God is the perfect judge. Let’s read Nahum 1:3. This means that the LORD will not let the guilty go unpunished. He must punish the guilty ones! How many people are guilty before God (Romans 3:19-20, 23) and (Romans 3:10-12)? So what do you think do you deserve to be punished? Everyone deserves to go to hell, but the amazing thing is that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) that everyone who believes on His Son will not perish in hell. God has provided a way for sinful men to be saved from hell’s punishment!  He sent His Son to be punished for us!

What Did Jesus Teach About Hell?

Did the Lord Jesus Christ believe in a real hell (read Mark 9:43-48). Did Jesus Christ believe that there will be a real place of fire and punishment (Matthew 25:41, 46)?

Yes, Jesus Christ believed in a real hell. In fact, Jesus said more about hell than any other person in the Bible. He warned men about the dangers of hell and about the dangers of future punishment.

The Lord Jesus really loves us and that is why He has warned us about hell. What are you going to do with the warning? Think again of the people in the burning house. Suppose that you shout to them: “FIRE! FIRE IN THE BASEMENT! WAKE UP! GET OUT OF THE HOUSE BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE! HURRY UP! FIRE!” What will, these people do? They can believe your warning and believe that there really is a fire and run out of the house or they can say, “WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU! YOU ARE JUST PLAYING A JOKE ON US! WE ARE GOING BACK TO SLEEP!”

They can believe and be saved or they can refuse to believe and perish. The same is true with Jesus warnings about hell.

The Place Called Hades

In Luke 16:19-31 we learn about a poor man who was saved (Lazarus) and a rich man who was not saved (his name is not given). When Lazarus died he was carried by the angels to a place of comfort and happiness where Abraham and the other saved people were (Luke 16:22, 23, 25). But when the unsaved rich man died, what place did he find himself in (Luke 16:22-23)? Was he happy or miserable in this place (Luke 16:24)? Was he comfortable there (Luke 16:25)? Did he want his 5 brothers to come to this same place of suffering (Luke 16:27-28)?

The word hell in Luke 16:23 is the Greek word Hades. Hades is the place where this unsaved rich man went when he died. Jesus called Hades a “place of torture” (Luke 16:28). We are also told that it is a place where people suffer in some kind of fire (see Luke 16:28–“flame”). Jesus described Hades as a terrible place of suffering and misery. It is also a place where people can get no relief from their suffering (Luke 16:24-26). The rich man wanted just one drop of water (the amount of water that a tip of a person’s finger would hold–Luke 16:24), but he did not get what he asked for.

Actually Hades was the place where the dead went and it included both the place of torment (Luke 16:23-24) and also the place of comfort where Lazarus and Abraham were (also called “Abraham’s bosom”).

Where Do People Go When They Die?

In the days before the cross, people would go to Hades when they died.  In Hades there would be a place for the saved and a place for the unsaved:

Hades
(the underworld)
PLACE FOR SAVED Abraham’s bosom
(Luke 16:22)
Paradise
(Luke 23:43)
LAZARUS and ABRAHAM
 GREAT
GULF
FIXED
(Lk.16:26)
PLACE FOR UNSAVEDPlace of  Fire
(Luke 16:24)
Place of  Torment
(Luke 16:28)
RICH MAN

Now that Christ has died and rose again and ascended into heaven, things are different. Today when people die, they go straight to heaven (Philippians 1:21, 23; 2 Corinthians 5:8; 12:2, 4). When Christ ascended up to heaven he took Lazarus and Abraham and all the saved people with Him (compare Ephesians 4:8-10). But when unsaved people die today, they still go to the same place. They still go to Hades, the same place the rich man went in Luke chapter 16.

The Place Called Gehenna

There is another word for hell which is found in the New Testament. This is the word that is found in Mark 9:43-48. It is the Greek word “GEHENNA.”

In Old Testament times Gehenna was a place located outside the city walls of Jerusalem.  It was also called the Valley of Hinnom. It was at this place that children were sometimes sacrificed and burned in flames. Children would be passed through the flames (see 2 Chronicles 28:3). This wicked practice took place at Gehenna. In Old Testament times when people thought of this place they thought of bodies being burned in fire!

Years later Gehenna became the city dump! The Jews living in Jerusalem would throw their garbage and worthless things into this valley. Even the bodies of dead animals would be thrown into this place to be devoured by the maggots and the flames. Sometimes the bodies of unburied criminals were thrown into Gehenna after they were executed or crucified. A fire was kept burning in this valley in order to consume the waste and rubbish and dead bodies that were thrown there. It seemed that the fires in this valley never went out. The place even came to be called THE GEHENNA OF FIRE.

Jesus used the word Gehenna to describe hell (THE PLACE OF EVERLASTING FIRE–see Matthew 25:41). In Matthew 5:29 this word is used (the word hell is the word Gehenna). Do the fires of Gehenna ever go out (Mark 9:43-44)?

Down through the centuries many Christians have been put to death by being burned at the stake. These Christians knew that the fire that they had to go through would only hurt them for a brief moment. But their enemies who put them to death would someday have to suffer in flames that would last forever! Polycarp was a Christian who lived a long time ago (in the second century A.D.). His enemies wanted to burn him at the stake unless he would deny Christ. One of these men said, “I will have you consumed with fire unless you change your mind.” Polycarp replied, “You threaten fire which burns for an hour and is soon quenched; for you are ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment and eternal punishment reserved for the wicked” (see Matthew 25:41,46). The fire that Polycarp suffered through was nothing compared to the fire that the unsaved must suffer through forever!

The Temporary Prison and the Final Prison

When an unsaved person dies, he goes to Hades (as we saw in Luke chapter 16). Hades is like a temporary prison. Unsaved people will not be in Hades forever. They will only be there until the Great White Throne Judgment. After the Great White Throne Judgment they will be cast into the final prison which is called the Lake of Fire. Revelation 20:14-15. This is the place that Jesus meant when he used the word hell or Gehenna.  It is the place where the fire never stops burning.

The lake of fire is the final place where the unsaved will be for all eternity. Those who go into the lake of fire never come out! They will suffer there forever! The fire will never go out. They must stay in this prison forever! The lake of fire is also called the second death. (Revelation 20:14 and see 21:8). Death means separation. The second death is when a person is separated from God forever. Someone has once said, “Those who are born twice (that is, born again) die once; those who are born once die twice” This means that those who are born again only have to die once (they die physically). Those who are not born again will not only die physically but they will also be cast into the lake of fire which is the second death. The second death is for all that have never been born again into God’s family.

Why Do People Deny the Reality of Hell?

Hell is a terrible reality and we don’t like to think about it.  But God’s Word, which is absolute truth (John 17:17) tells us about hell and God wants us to understand it and Christ died to save us from it.  People deny hell for two main reasons:   1) They don’t understand the terribleness of sin in God’s sight;   2) They don’t understand the awesome holiness of God.   If we really understood these twin truths, we would not have a problem understanding why the wicked must suffer in hell forever.

What Is Hell?

When you think of HELL you should always think of two things: 1) Separation from God; 2) Punishment by God.

SEPARATION: Hell is called “THE SECOND DEATH” and this reminds us of separation.
PUNISHMENT: Hell is called “THE LAKE OF FIRE” and this reminds us of punishment.

Jesus Suffered Hell For Us!

What happened to Jesus when He died on the cross? Read Matthew 27:46. Was He separated from God? Read Isaiah 53:4, 5,6,10 and 1 Peter 3:18. Was He punished by God? Indeed, this is the good news found in the Bible! Jesus Christ was separated from God so that we would never have to be separated from God! Jesus Christ was punished by God so that we would never have to be punished by God! Jesus Christ died so that we would never have to be hurt by the second death (Revelation 2:11)! Christ died to save us and deliver us from so great a death (2 Corinthians 1:10)!

You are VERY REAL. Are you REALLY saved or are you REALLY separated from God?

Heaven is REAL. Hell is REAL. Your choice is REAL.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1085

Apostasy in the Church even in America

Joel Osteen pastors the largest church in America located in Houston, Texas. He is a highly published author of three books and in the last year has been selling out appearances all over the US in places like Yankee Stadium in New York and in LA at Dodger Stadium.

But if you ever really listen to him preach or watch one of his sermons from Lakewood Church on TV you will hear a Gospel preached that you may never have heard before. It is a gospel of prosperity, a gospel of positivity, a gospel that never emanated from Jesus.

He may not even mention Jesus all that much. His teaching is flat out apostasy and is leading the church of Jesus down a path towards destruction. He is a New Ager. Read the attached commentary on Mr. Osteen and you draw your own conclusions.

Keep looking up from your redemtioon draws near!

Joel Osteen’s New Age Life Now?

By Brannon Howse
Worldview Weekend

“Whatever you conceive you can achieve.”

With this favorite karma-changing promise, New Agers believe you need only use the “unlimited” power and consciousness of your mind to bring about all your dreams, desires and wishes.

Cloaked in a “Christian” package, Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now, bears an uncomfortable and dangerous similarity to this most popular of New Age claims. Sample a few of the Osteen versions:

  • “You will produce what you’re continually seeing in your mind. If you foster an image of defeat and failure, then you’re going to live that kind of life. But if you develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace, and happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you.” (page 5)
  • “You must conceive it in your heart and mind before you can receive it.” (page 6)
  • “You must look through your ‘eyes of faith’ and start seeing yourself as happy, healthy and whole.” (page 15)
  • “What you will receive is directly connected to how you believe.” (page 22)
  • “We receive what we believe.” (page 72)
  • “Learn how to conceive. Keep the image of what you want to become in front of you. You’re going to become what you believe.” (page 81)

Osteen now travels the country, packing out stadiums with his happy-talk. But I’d like to see Osteen pay a visit to China, preach his “your best life now” drivel, and see how Christians there respond. Let Osteen look into the eyes of Pastor Lei who has been repeatedly arrested and beaten for preaching the Word of God in his church – a church not licensed by the Chinese government. How would the American’s best life work out for Pastor Lei and his congregation? Perhaps their jail time for the Gospel would give them time to assess Rev. Osteen’s claims.

Have these and countless other persecuted Christians been beaten, jailed and murdered because they “received what they believed,” or did these terrible things happen to them because they did not “develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace, and happiness”?

Were eleven of Jesus’ disciples martyred because, “they received what they believed”? Were the disciples living under a “curse of poverty and defeat” as Osteen says of so many? Here’s a role call of questions I’d like to ask Mr. Osteen. Why is it, Joel, that:

  • Paul and Matthew were beheaded?
  • Barnabas was burned to death?
  • Mark was dragged to death?
  • James, the less, was clubbed to death?
  • Peter, Philip, and Andrew were crucified?
  • Thomas was speared to death?
  • Luke was hung by the neck until dead?
  • Stephen was stoned?

How would these disciples take to the best-life message?

Yes, I know. Joel’s promises sound so much better to American ears than all those warnings of Jesus about being hated by most people for His sake. But it remains that in large measure, Joel’s offering can be described as nothing less than blasphemy. On page 36, he claims, “God has a big dream for your life.” On page 56:

“God sees you as a champion. He believes in you even more than you believe in yourself!”

And on page 110:

“God has confidence in you.”

Osteen does not provide a single Bible verse to back up these statements…because there are none. Nowhere in the Bible do we read that God believes or has confidence in us. He loves us, but does not believe in us. On the contrary, He knows all too well how unbelievably fickle and untrustworthy we humans actually are. It’s not like Joel describes on page 57:

“Believe it or not, that is how God sees you, too. He regards you as a strong, courageous, successful, overcoming person.”

Furthermore, God does not define our success in materialistic terms as Joel does. God is interested in our obedience above all. On page 63, Joel writes:

As long as you are pressing forward, you can hold your head up high, knowing that you are a “work in progress,” and God is in the process of changing you. He’s looking at your last two good moves.

Joel, where in the Bible do you read that God is not looking at our last two bad moves but our last two good moves? Isaiah 64:6 says that even our righteous deeds are like filthy rags or wickedness to God because He is so holy. Even if God did look at our last two good moves, He would still see filthy rags.

Or how about this Osteen gospel gem from page 95:

“Be the best you can be, then you can feel good about yourself.”

Where in the Bible do we find this teaching? What if your best is getting drunk just once a week instead of twice a week? Should you still feel good about yourself?

But wait. I’ve saved Joel’s most outrageous statement for last (drum roll please). On page 144, Joel elevates us to the heavenlies by pointing out that “You may even need to forgive God.”

Whoa! And exactly what would we be forgiving God for? As I recall, forgiveness is for sins – or at least mistakes. But which of those has God made? Not a one according to any Bible I’ve ever read.

Oswald Chambers offers a perspective on the kind of thing the Osteens of the world do to Christians:

“Satan’s great aim is to deflect us from the center. He will allow us to be devoted to the death to any cause, any enterprise, to anything but the Lord Jesus.”

Hebrews 13:9instructs us to not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings (deflected from the center) but sadly, that is exactly what is happening for many at the hand of Joel Osteen.

Instead of pursuing our best life now, we should pursue the things of the Lord so we can have our best life later. I fear that for many who follow Joel’s false teaching, this life is the best they will get. The false gospel proclaimed by Joel Osteen and accepted as truth by millions may allow many to achieve what they can conceive of the things in this world, but true to Jesus’ promise, they may lose their souls in the pursuit.

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Angels & Demons: They are Real!

Angels and Demons Talk November 7, 2010

 

Angels

Who are they?

Angels are created spiritual beings with moral judgment and high intelligence, but without physical bodies (Hebrews 1:14, Luke 24:39).

They are the messengers of God.

God created higher than humans, some of whom have remained faithful and obedient to God and carry out His will and others of whom disobeyed, lost their holy condition and now oppose and hinder His work.

The Old Testament speaks about the existence of angels over 100 times. Some of these references are:

  • Genesis 18 – Abraham and the angels speak under the tree
  • 2 Samuel 24:16 – Judgment on Israel
  • Isaiah 6:2 – Seraphim
  • Ezekiel 20:1-3 – Cherubim
  • Daniel 9:20-27, 10:13,12:1 – Michael, the Archangel
  • Zechariah 1-6 – Agents of God, Interpreters of visions
  • Psalm 34:7, 89:5,7, 91:11 – They worship God, holy ones

The New Testament mentions angels about 165 times. Some of these references are:

  •  Matthew 1:20, 2:19, Mark 1:13, Luke 1:26-28, 2:1 – Birth of Christ
  • Matthew 2:13-15, Luke 22:43 – Life of Christ
  • Matthew 28:1-6, Luke 24:5-7, John 20:12 – Resurrection of Christ
  • Acts 1:10-11 – Ascension of Christ
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Matthew 13:39-40, 25:31 – Rapture and Second Coming
  • Acts 5:19, 12:5-11 – Helping the Apostles
  • Hebrews 1:14, Jude 6 – Ministering spirits

They span all of human existence. They are mentioned from Genesis all the way to Revelation.

The most extensive passage on them is Hebrews 1:5-2:9.

They were created by Christ (Colossians 1:16) and they were present when the earth was created (Job 38:6-7).

They possess intelligence (Matthew 8:29, 28:5, 2 Corinthians 11:3, 1 Peter 1:12). They possess emotions (Luke 2:13, James 2:19, Revelation 12:17). They have wills (Luke 8:28-31, 2 Timothy 2:26, Jude 6). They are however limited in power, knowledge, and activity (1 Peter 1:11-12, Revelation 7:1) and will be subject to judgment by God (1 Corinthians 6:3, Matthew 25:41).

In most cases man can not see them. However God can open our eyes to them (Numbers 22:30). If we see them, they are usually seen in the form of humans (Genesis 18:2, 16, 22, Luke 24:4). God’s glory shines from them (Luke 2:9, 9:26). They appear to man in dreams and visions (Matthew 1:20, Isaiah 6:1-8, Genesis 19:1-8). They have wings (Isaiah 6:2-6, Ezekiel 1:5-8, Exodus 25:20).

How are they organized?

There are large numbers of angels (Deuteronomy 33:2, Psalm 68:17, Hebrews 12:22, Revelation 5:11). God has organized the elect angels (Ephesians 3:10) and Satan has organized the evil angels (Ephesians 6:12). The first group or organization of angels is cherubim and seraphim. They are mentioned in Isaiah 6:2-7 and Ezekiel 28:14-16. They are the guardians of God’s holiness and are positioned around the throne of God. The second group of angels mentioned are Archangels (Jude 9, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Michael is mentioned are the chief over Israel (Daniel 10:21, 12:1). He is mentioned as leading heaven’s angelic armies against Satan and his horde (Revelation 12:7-8). The third group mentioned are chief princes and powers (Daniel 10:13, Revelation 4:8, 2 Peter 2:11).

What is their ministry?

They are to praise and worship God (Psalm 103:20, Psalm 148:1-2, Isaiah 6:3, Hebrews 1:6, Revelation 5:8-13).

They serve God and are instruments of His judgment (Revelation 22:9, Revelation 7:1, 8:2).

Angels are to help and encourage believers (Hebrews 1:14). They are to communicate and reveal the truth of God to man when assigned the task (Daniel 7:15-27, 8:13-26, Revelation 22:6-8).

They are present at man’s death (Luke 16:22) and are to protect us (Psalm 91:11-12).

They also witness and observe our lives (1 Corinthians 4:9, 1 Timothy 5:21).

Demons

 

 Who are they?

Scripture affirms the reality of demons. Christ Himself cast out demons from people and believed in their existence (Matthew 12:22-29, 15:22-25, Mark 5:1-16). He also gave the disciples authority to cast them out (Matthew 18:1).

There are more than 100 references to demons in the New Testament. All of the New Testament writers mention them except the writer of the book of Hebrews (1 Corinthians 10:20-21, James 2:19, Revelation 9:20).

Scripture indicates that demons are fallen angels who rebelled with Satan against God the Father. Satan is the prince or chief of demons (Matthew 12:24). In the rebellion they lost their privilege of serving God.

They are spirits and are not human (Matthew 17:18, Mark 9:25). There are two groups of fallen angels (Genesis 6:2-4), those who are confined to the abyss from the fall (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6, Luke 8:31, Revelation 9:1-5) and those free to carry out Satan’s plans (Revelation 9:1-3, 11, 14, 16:14).

What do they do?

Demons possess intelligence (Mark 1:24, Matthew 8:29, James 2:19). They possess emotions (Luke 8:28, James 2:18). They possess wills (Luke 8:32).

Because demons are spirit beings, they are generally invisible but on occasion their appearance can be seen (Acts 19:15, Revelation 9:1-12). They knew who Christ was while He was on earth (Mark 1:24) and they know their future judgment (Matthew 8:29). They are able to deceive and promote systems of doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1-3).

Their powers are physical strength (Mark 5:3, Acts 19:16), superior intelligence (Acts 16:16), and presence (Luke 8:30). They are limited to time and space like humans.

Demons oppose God and His plan (Revelation 16:13-16, Daniel 10:10-14). Sometimes God will use them to accomplish His plan (Judges 9:23, 1 Samuel 16:14, 2 Corinthians 12:7). They promote idolatry (Leviticus 17:7, Psalm 106:36-38, 1 Corinthians 10:20). They promote false religion (1 John 4:1-4, 1 Timothy 3:16-4:3). They possess people or animals (Mark 5:15-18, John 10:21, Matthew 12:22). They oppose the spiritual progress of God’s people (Ephesians 6:12).

Their destiny has already been determined: the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:2-10).

Satan

Satan is mentioned from Genesis until the end of the book of Revelation. 7 Old Testament books teach his reality (Genesis, 1 Chronicles, Job, Psalms, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah). Every New Testament book affirms and confirms his existence. In 25 of 29 passages in the Gospels that speak of Satan it is Jesus speaking about him (Matthew 13:39, Luke 10:18).

Satan has intelligence (2 Corinthians 11:3), emotions (Revelation 12:17, Luke 22:31), and a will (Isaiah14:12-14, 2 Timothy 2:26). He is a created creature (Ezekiel 28:11-19). He was a cherub (Ezekiel 28:14) and was the highest created being and angel (Ezekiel 28:12). He still retains a great deal of power. He is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) and is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2).

Satan goes by many names:

  • Satan – used 52 times in Scripture, means adversary (Job 1:7-2:7, Zechariah 3:1, Matthew 4:10)
  • Devil – used 33 times in Scripture, means slanderer (Matthew 4:1, Ephesians 4:27, Revelation 12:9)
  • Serpent – (Genesis 3:1, 2 Corinthians 11:3)
  • Dragon – (Revelation 12:3, 7, 9)
  • Tempter – (Matthew 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 3:5)
  • Evil One – (John 17:15, 1 John 5:18-19)
  • Accuser – (Revelation 12:11, Job 2:1-3)
  • Deceiver (Revelation 12:9)

Satan was created before Eden was created (Genesis 2:8, Ezekiel 28:13). He possessed unparalleled wisdom and beauty (Ezekiel 28:12). He had unparalleled access to God (Ezekiel 28:13).

Satan sinned from the beginning (1 John 3:8). He was the originator of sin (Genesis 3:1-6, 2 Corinthians 11:3). His sin was pride and arrogance (1 Timothy 3:6). His sin was to also counterfeit the plan of God and His Christ (Isaiah 14:13-14). He has enmity with:

  •  With Christ – Genesis 3:15, Matthew 4:1-11
  • With God the Father – Genesis 3:5, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11, 1 Timothy 4:1-3
  • With the nations – Revelation 20:3, Revelation 13:2-4
  • With believers – 1 Peter 1:6-7, Acts 5:1-11, 1 Corinthians 7:5

Satan will meet his ultimate destruction in the Lake of Fire at the end of the millennial reign of Christ (Revelation 20:7-10).

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The Great Lie

An interesting article found on www.raptureready.comby Carl Worline around what the Great Lie mentioned in the New Testament by the apostle Paul concerning the deception that is coming on the whole world to usher in the Tribulation. Enjoy!The Great Lie by Carl WorlineOn November 12, 2010, Universal Pictures will release a new movie entitled Skyline, which deals with alien spacecraft that suck up the humans who look into the bright blue light these spacecraft project, and then vanish.  I believe this movie is more than just the product of the wild imaginations of some cleaver science fiction writers who seek nothing more than to entertain the public and win an academy award for themselves for best picture (but not in that order).  I believe this movie may very well play an important role in end time prophecy.Whether or not intelligent life exists on other worlds is irrelevant in this article and I will not debate the issue here.  What is significant is that reports of unidentified flying objects has been around since the beginning of history with literally millions of people reporting to have seen them, yet official contact with their occupants has (supposedly) never been established.  Our government, as well as governments around the world, have vehemently denied the existence of alien spacecraft.  In fact, the vehemence in which governments have denied their existence builds a strong case for an official worldwide cover-up conspiracy, which makes the possibility of the existence of extra terrestrial life even more believable.

The Rapture of the Church is certain to cause a worldwide panic as an unbelieving public scrambles to explain the disappearance of hundreds of millions of people in an instant.  We also know that the anti-Christ will be revealed and empowered immediately after the Rapture.  2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 tells us that the anti-Christ will tell a lie and that God will send a strong delusion so that all of the unbelievers who are left on the Earth after the Rapture will believe this lie:

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all the powers and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness in them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.  That they might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

What is this lie?  The Bible doesn’t tell us, but I can certainly make an educated guess.  On September 21, 1987, President Ronald Reagan made what I consider to be a very prophetic statement when he told the Forty Second Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations “How quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.”  I believe this great lie will be that alien beings from another world abducted the millions of people who just vanished.

Chapter 13 of Revelation also tells us that the anti-Christ will tell a lie that will cause the entire world to willingly follow him.  I am at a loss to think of any other lie which the anti-Christ could use that would cause the remaining population of the Earth to forget their differences so quickly and unite with him.

On March 16, 1979, a movie about a nuclear accident and related cover-up was released  by Columbia Pictures entitled The China Syndrome.  That was just 12 days before the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Pennsylvania.  Many dozens of nuclear scientists have since lined up to say that despite the accident at Three Mile Island nuclear power is still safe. Nevertheless, the public has chosen to believe Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, and Michael Douglas over the legion of scientists who all have the title “PhD after their name.  As a result, the development of nuclear power has all but ceased in the United States as well as many other countries around the world.  The power of Hollywood to influence the masses cannot be underestimated and can easily trump the logic and reason of science.

Before I start to sound too condescending I need to confess that many years ago I attended some Star Trek conventions. I know there is no such thing as the Star Ship Enterprise, the Federation of Planets does not exist, and most of the technology that I witnessed on the show was Hollywood illusion and trickery.  But still, I saw the characters in real life and even shook hands with some them.  For a brief moment the line between reality and fiction seemed to get a bit fuzzy.

The release of a new movie from Hollywood does not, in itself, mean the end of the world is upon us.  However, I cannot help but wonder if it is just me, or is there a lot going on in the UFO community all of a sudden that somehow suspiciously suggests that something big is about to happen.  For example:

  • Almost 400 years after it imprisoned Galileo under threat of torture for challenging the view that the Earth was the center of the universe, the Vatican announced that the existence of intelligent extra-terrestrial life may be possible.
  • The Popes’ astronomer said that he would baptize an alien from another world if it asked him to.
  • After many decades of silence a group of retired nuclear officers have recently come forward to announce that alien spacecraft visited military installations and disarmed nuclear warheads on intercontinental ballistic missiles.
  • On September 11, 2010 a UFO forced the closure of an airport in Baotau, Mongolia, for approximately 1 hour while other air traffic was diverted to prevent commercial airliners from crashing into it.  On July 7, 2010 the Xiaoshan airport in Hangzhou , China, was closed for approximately 1 hour due to a UFO hovering above it.  There have been a total of 8 reports of major UFO sightings in China during a 4 month period.
  • Astronomers recently announced that they are “100 percent certain” that alien life exists on Earth-like planets.
  • Theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking, presumably one of the smartest men on the planet, recently felt compelled to declare to the world that he is almost certain that alien life exists in other parts of the universe and that we should avoid contact with such species because it might be devastating to humanity.
  • The United Nations has an Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).  Recent articles in the media both confirm and deny the existence of an ambassador at this office to be the designated representative who makes first contact with intelligent alien life from another planet.

Maybe all of the events which are now occurring are merely a coincidence and my feeling of being bombarded by a preponderance of suggestions about the potential existence of evil alien life as the cause of the impending Rapture of the Church are unfounded.  In less than a month the movie Skyline will be released and millions of moviegoers will witness everyday people being snatched up into alien spacecraft in high definition living color on a wide screen with the most realistic surround sound that our technology can produce.  Will this sow the seeds of suggestion in the minds of millions of people around the world?  I think so.  Is the Rapture closer than most people think?  I am absolutely convinced of that.

 

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