Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many;
And unto them that look for him shall he appear the
Second time without sin unto salvation” – Hebrews 9:28

      In the good old days of comedy television (a few decades ago) the truly hilarious television series such as McHale’s Navy, “F” Troop, and The Andy Griffith Show entertained a much happier bunch of Americans.  Those of us old enough to remember those simpler times, and the silly antics of Tim Conway, Joe Flynn, Don Knotts, Ken Berry, Don Diamond and many others with like talents lived in a world that was far less threatening and complicated than the current one we find ourselves in. We laughed and giggled when our favorite comedians failed to look where they were going, walked into walls and closed doors, crashed their cars, tumbled down stairs, flipped over hitching rails, and fell flat on their faces.

      What isn’t so funny is the fact that those “good old” days of “America, Mom and apple pie,” and the American way of life as portrayed by illustrator Norman Rockwell are gone forever. The beautiful American dream of yesterday stands in sharp contrast to the “real world” of today. An increasing number of people are, at long last, beginning to wake up to the lateness of the hour as they look to the dark clouds of destruction looming on the horizon. Silliness is melting into sobriety, frivolity into fear, and in some cases playfulness into panic. People of understanding are beginning to recognize that the satanic “transformation of America” is leading to its demise, as well as negatively affecting the rest of the world. The hushed spirit of fear that descended over America after the 2008 election—a fear that even Bill O’Reilly mentioned on “The Factor”—has not dissipated, but has only grown heavier and darker. At the same time multitudes of people living in other parts of the world have little, if any, hope of deliverance from fear, terror, suffering, persecution and death. Just when we think it couldn’t get any worse, the headlines and updated news alerts bombard our spinning senses with a daily escalation of bizarre, evil, immoral, and devastating horror stories that challenge the mental and emotional stability of the most balanced among us. Concerning the days in which we live, Luke 21:26 says, “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Therefore, where can we look for help to make things “right” again?

      Looking to the world and its systems: It is interesting to note people’s responses to the onslaught of powerful and destructive forces that threaten to destroy the world, our nation, our beliefs and our way of life as we know it. Christians, who are aware of the signs of the times, but who are also quite human, are no exception and often look to the ways of the world to solve the problems of the world. But Jesus warned, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” Luke 9:62. Making a commitment to follow Christ means that we are forsaking all others and everything else to follow Him. It means that when the going gets tough, we will not so much as even turn around to look at the world we left behind as did Lot’s wife, who, instead of “being the salt of the world” turned into a hardened “pillar of salt.”

      As Christians, our purpose, calling, and reason for being in this world is to be the “salt” and the “light” and to obey Christ’s commandments to go and fulfill the great commission. (See Matthew 28:18-20). While it is true that God does call and prepare certain believers to serve in governmental positions for His purposes, such as Daniel, Esther, Mordecai, Nehemiah etc., it is idolatrous, displeasing to God and unwise for us to look to, and put our trust and faith in any government, political leader, king, guru, or pope to save us. The Word cautions us that the antichrist, who will pose as the greatest problem-solving peacemaker in the history of the world, steps onto the world scene, humanity’s weakness for a hero figure will be put to the ultimate test. As Christian soldiers, we must not “grow weary in well doing.” “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” Titus 2:11-13. [Emphasis added.]         Thus, looking to the systems of the world, and people of power for deliverance when everything is being shaken, is futile at best, and destructive at worst. Even so, multitudes of Americans continue to look to the government to solve all or our problems when the truth of the matter is, our government is a huge cause and big part of the problem! We would do well to heed the words of King David, who declared, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God” Psalm 20:7. Psalm 146:3 says, “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.”  

      Looking to money: Because of the imminent threat facing us all of a national and global financial crash, the wealthy are in a frantic scramble to secure their wealth, in an effort to try and preserve their lives and lifestyles. Even many people of humble means are investing in gold and silver as a way to survive the inevitable financial tsunami. However, the Word of the Lord warns, “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch” Proverbs 22:28. Psalm 52:7 says, “Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.” While it is not a sin to be wealthy, or even modestly well off, trusting in money to save and deliver you from problems in this world is the sin of idolatry and unbelief. The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” 1 Timothy 6:17. Proverbs 11:28 warns, “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish, as a branch.”

      Looking to self: While wise preparedness, learning basic survival skills, first aid, and so forth are good things to know, the idea that a person can look to one’s self alone for protection and preservation is folly. I am the first to admit that having a good supply of water, food, and toilet paper is probably a good idea, even in the best of times. But, here is what the Lord says: says, “Thus saith the LORD; cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD” Jeremiah 17:5. Whatsoever you put your trust and confidence in will become your “god.” If, in your pride, you trust and look to yourself more than to Jehovah God, then you are “trusting in the flesh of your own arm,” and you are your own god, and without a doubt when everything spins out of control, the “house that you built on the shifting sands of self” will surely fall. God’s solution is Himself. His Word is truth and will forever stand and remain truth. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” Proverbs 3:5, 6.

      Looking to family: Can we trust the members of our family to help us in trying times? That is a question that only each person can answer for him or herself. Not every Christian is blessed with a supportive family who understands and recognizes him or her for who he or she is in Christ. While most of us can only dream of belonging to a loving, “Waltons” type of family, the truth is family cannot be trusted above reliance upon God. Jeremiah wrote, “For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously with thee; yea, they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee.” Some people make the idea of “the family” into an idol that must be exalted above all else, and served at any cost. The Mormons are a good example of this extremely idolatrous devotion. Jesus cautioned, “And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death” Matthew 10:21. Now that the cancer of communism (which we were all supposed to believe was “dead”) has come back with a vengeance, this Scripture concerning betrayal among the closest of relationships is once again an unfortunate reality which will only escalate until Jesus returns. In the meantime, we must be “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” Hebrews 12:15. [Emphasis added.]

      Looking to false prophets and the occult: Discerning Christians who know and understand the Holy Bible are keenly aware that we are indeed living in the latter days foretold by Jesus and the prophets. When asked by His disciples what the sign of His coming would be, and the end of the world, Jesus answered their questions in a concise and direct manner. There was no attempt on His part to confuse, convolute, or craftily cause mystification on this subject (as many attempt to do today as a means to deceive others.) The first thing Jesus said to them was, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” Matthew 24:4, 5. Again, in verse 24 Jesus warned, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (The book, The Beautiful Side of Evil written by Johanna Michaelsen is a great book on this subject for believers and unbelievers alike, and is a real eye-opener for people dabbling in the occult, metaphysics, witchcraft, signs and wonders, supernatural phenomena, etc.)

       “Christ” means “Anointed One.” Therefore, deceivers, such as the antichrist, will claim to be Christ Himself, “returned” to establish the kingdom of God on earth. Such groups as the Manifest Sons of God, NAR, which is the New Apostolic Reformation and the Dominionists teach, in some form or the other, that Christ is “returning” in His Church to take over the kingdoms of this world. Many of today’s popular “Christian” politicians belong to this false movement. Instead of looking to Christ’s coming to rule and reign, they look to positions of power where they believe they can turn back the tide of unconstitutionality, lawlessness, immorality, debauchery, etc. by legislating righteousness and establishing God’s kingdom on earth. While this may sound wonderful to those whose spirits are sorely vexed by the insane and evil flood of deceitful political correctness, injustice, crime, terror, oppression, and so forth, the bottom line is you cannot have a “kingdom” without a king! And, there is only One King who can rightfully rule and reign over His kingdom, and that is Jesus Christ the LORD.

       False workers with a deceptive spirit of antichrist may claim to be the “Christ” and that they are “anointed ones” from God, and “prove it” by showing great signs and wonders to deceive, but their end is in the lake of fire.  The source of such power is totally demonic. Never forget that Satan counterfeits the true work of God, the gifts of the Spirit, and he comes as an “angel of light” who transforms his ministers as “ministers of righteousness.” (See 2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Deceivers always have their own self-serving agendas of power and control, and are able through Satan to perform signs and lying wonders in order to deceive even the most discerning. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:9.) Tragically, such deceivers are in plentiful supply today, have drawn multitudes of professing Christians after themselves, and are redefining Christianity through their adeptness at Scripture twisting, adding to or taking away from the Word, misquoting it, and cleverly employing deceptive “ear tickling” tactics. Such wolves, hirelings and false prophets are busy deceiving gullible sheep who have never been properly discipled, grounded, rooted and established in the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God” John 1:1, 2. Such sheep do not depend on the Holy Spirit to be their Teacher (imparting the revelation of the Living Word into their hearts when it is read, taught, or preached); nor do they know the voice of their Shepherd so that they will not follow another! You cannot follow Christ and Satan at the same time any more than you can serve two masters. Hebrews 10:27 declares that there is a judgment coming for God’s enemies, “…a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” [Emphasis added.]

      Instead of looking to ourselves, looking to money, looking to our family and friends, looking to the government and leaders in high places, looking to extra biblical and unscriptural sources, we need to seek God for His wisdom, power, strength, truth, guidance and perspective. It is amazing how gaining God’s perspective lifts us up out of our habitual mental cycles, limited vision, mental fog, spiritual slackness, emotional dullness, and lukewarm heart condition. God’s perspective gives us a whole new outlook on things. We gain heavenly vision that penetrates the limits of our cloudy earthly point of view, and renders our own take on things as unimportant, vain, empty, ineffective, lifeless, foolish, and spiritually blind. This may seem excessively harsh, but the truth is, we are all spiritually blind, and limited to only “seeing through a glass darkly” until the light of Christ, through the Holy Spirit, gives us light to truly seek the light. “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” Psalm 36:9. It is then that our spirit is set on fire by the Holy Spirit, our soul awakens to the reality of Christ, and our hearts become alive with love, peace, joy, praise and adoration to the One who knows all things and who will reveal the secret things to His servants— those who trust Him, obey Him, and are looking to Him and for Him. (See Deuteronomy 29:29.)  “He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him” Daniel 2:22.

      Which way are you looking? Is it backward, forward, and right or left, up or down? Hopefully your answer is that you are, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” Hebrews 12:2. [Emphasis added.] Hopefully you can say, “For [my] conversation is in heaven; from whence also [I] look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” Philippians 3:20. [Emphasis added.] And, finally, may all God’s people declare with Job, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” Job 19:25, 26.