Sunday, October 15, 2017

Salvation in Christ Alone: Eternal Security or Conditional Security?

"Salvation is God's way of making us real people." - Augustine

The exegesis of scripture surrounding salvation is perhaps the most important to understand. Christology is just as vital. It's important we understand the complexities of what salvation is, how we can have it, and how we can keep it. The highest authority must be the scriptures. This means the entirety of scripture. Not only select scriptures from select books of the Bible. We must understand theology in the light of every book in the Bible, as a full, cohesive theology.

To this end, one must ask: Once we are saved in Christ Jesus, reborn and made new in his love, is there a possibility of losing that relationship, or is that connection unbreakable?

There are two primary views: The eternal security view is the idea that God will force a person to remain saved throughout their lives, no matter what they do.

The second view is that relationship found in Christ Jesus must be engaged in, and lived out; in other words, the believer must remain, or "abide" in the relationship with Jesus Christ.

Today we'll be looking at both views, and scriptures that are levied to defend each position.

First, eternal security.  The important scriptures levied in favor of eternal security include: Jude 24, John 10:28-29, Ephesians 4:30, and Romans 8:38-39.  

The most important is probably Romans 8:38-39 which states: "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Those are in fact important and valid scriptures that point to a vital aspect of our relationship with Jesus Christ: There is an active agent on the other end of that relationship guiding us, upholding us, and renewing us in His power.  

Though eternal security is a reasonable theological position with decent supporting evidence, I'd like to make the case today that "conditional security" holds more scriptural evidence.  

What's most important is the truth about scripture, that's something we can all agree on.  What matters most is what is actually true, not our entrenched positions. 

I would contend that there is a treasure trove of scripture to back up the idea of conditional security. Again and again in scripture we see phrases like "departing from the faith", "falling away", and "being lead astray.”

1 Timothy 1:4 (ESV) says "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons." One can only depart from a faith they already have.

Hebrews 6:4-6 (ESV) says "For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt."  

The scenario being described in Hebrews 6 is of one who has fallen away, after being a Christian. One cannot share in the Holy Spirit unless they are a saved Christian, who has then fallen away and effectively moved away from their salvation.

Consider Revelation 2:4-5 (ESV) which states "But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent." 

This is an example of Christians who did very well in serving Christ at first, but slowly moved in the wrong direction. Jesus warns them; do what you did at first or I will remove your lamp stand from it's place. That would be an example of believers who fell away from salvation.

In John 15:1-15 Jesus Christ describes Christians as branches, who are connected to the vine (Jesus) who are being pruned by the gardener (the Father). In this parable Jesus says that those branches who bear fruit will be pruned by the Father so they bear more fruit. He also says that those who do not bear fruit will shrivel up, and be tossed into the fire. Once we again we see a situation where the relationship between God and man is neglected, and eventually abandoned.  Jesus did not lose that person, that person left Jesus willingly.

Erwin Lutzer in his book "Doctrines that Divide" (1998) attempts to point out two defenses against this verse; that those people were never truly saved, or that the fire only represents the fire at the judgement seat of Christ, and does not affect salvation. Both of those defenses are in my view, stretches of scripture, and seem to neglect a plain straight forward reading of John 15. 

Lutzer writes that it's presumptuous to decide the case of eternal or conditional security on a metaphor (Lutzer, 1998, p. 230). Warren Wiersbe also commented on this scripture that it's not wise to make theology from parables.  I would contend that parables are exactly what theology is made from.  Jesus used parables to describe spiritual truths, so we could understand them in applicable ways.  To Lutzer I would say, the scriptures are full of metaphors, including this one, which holds a clear application regarding our salvation.  One which we must not neglect. 

Erwin Lutzer does an impressive job of trying to defend his views on election and security, I won't fault him in that(Lutzer, 1998, p. 233). But I would point to the fact that Lutzer himself suggests a book by Robert Shank called Life in the Son that lists scripture after scripture indicating how salvation is conditional on perseverance (Lutzer, 1998, p. 230). Perhaps Lutzer was conflicted on his interpretation, though there is nothing wrong with that.  The scriptures ought to bring about such rigorous thought and consideration.

Another example setting aside John 15 would be the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. Specifically we read of the sower's seed landing on ground which represents a believer who receives the word and embraces it thoroughly, but thorns grow up and choke out the word.  Once again, we see that salvation is neglected due to the desires of the world.

In my view eternal security is unable to survive the parables of Jesus including: the parable of the faithful servant, the parable of the two debtors, the parable of the unforgiving servant, and the parable of the talents.

Since scripture shows that salvation is conditional on the actions of the faithful, what are the possible ways of losing salvation? From scripture we can see that Christians who fail to bear fruit for God will be lost (John 15:1-15). Salvation can be lost through being unforgiving of your neighbor (Matthew 18:21-35). Salvation can also be lost through committing the unforgivable sin, which is of course to reject the deity of Christ (Mark 3:28-30). Salvation can also be lost by denying Christ (2 Timothy 2:12). Though there are some clear ways to lose salvation, sinning, or willful sinning are not included on the list. All believers sin. Though multiplied sinning can lead to habitual sinning, which can then give birth to disillusionment, and more sin, leading to death (James 1:15, Psalm 7:14).

One could say that sin is the road that leads to lost salvation. At the same time, God promises to protect believers and help them persevere to the very end (John 10:27-29, John 6:37, Romans 8:38-39).

Philippians 1:6 (ESV) says “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” 

By divorcing Philippians 1:6 from the context of a letter to believers in Philippi one could assume this scripture is pointing toward eternal security, however when carefully exegesis is done, one sees that Philippians 1:6 is bound to it's historical audience and when passing over the bridge to modern times, it is a message of encouragement to perseverance, not eternal security. 

Colossians 1:23 (ESV) says "If indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister." 

Paul uses a conditional clause "if."  And he exhorts the church in Colossae to not shift from the hope of the gospel.  If Paul must exhort us to continue in the faith, then this is a certainly an important and applicable teaching for today.  It seems to me to be dangerous to neglect this consistent teaching of scripture exhorting believers to continue in the faith.  

Again and again, we see conditional clauses in scripture "if indeed you continue" or "take care brothers lest you fall away" (Hebrews 3:12-14). The Bible speaks of believers who fall from grace (Galatians 5:4). God gives instructions in his word, to those who have free will choices to make, which must include the possibility of falling away.

Does this mean that the believer is taking credit for his own salvation? The answer to that question I believe is no. As Boyd (2009) says in his book Across the Spectrum “Salvation is a gracious gift by God, but a gift is not less of a gift because it is accepted.” Calvinists might suggest that Arminian believers are turning faith into a work.  Faith is not a work, but a gift that is freely received (Boyd, 2009, p. 159). 

One final scripture points it out elegantly and simply, Hebrews 3:14 (ESV) which states: “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”  

We've come to share in Christ, only if we hold our original confidence firm to the end.  We are exhorted by the writer of Hebrews to remain in Christ, to abide in Him, and to stay firm in our faith.  This is a central aspect of the salvation message, we must not neglect it.

But what about the key scriptures levied from the eternal security view?

Jude 24 says, "To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy."

This is near the conclusion of Jude, the doxology, which indicates a perseverance of relationship. Jesus is able to keep the believer steadfast along the journey of life.  Jesus both keeps us along the way, and presents us spotless before the Father.  This scripture is simply indicating as stated earlier that Christ is at the other end of the relationship helping the believer to remain steadfast.  This doxology is of course an encouragement to the church, not a statement regarding eternal security.

What about John 10:28-29b?  It states: "28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand." 

Christ gives the believer eternal life, and promises that no one, no demon, no enemy of God can force the believer from the Father's hand.  But we can always turn away and walk away from the Father, and reject Christ as savior, by neglecting that vital relationship.  So the believer cannot be snatched by evil or an enemy, but the believer can choose to set aside such a great salvation. And what hope is there for them then?  

Ephesians 4:30 instructs believers not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, which it says has sealed the believer for the day of redemption.  And it is suggested that if the believer is sealed, how can he be unsealed?  Well, why would Paul be writing to tell us not to grieve the Holy Spirit if it can't be done?  Can one who is sealed be unsealed?  Isn't it stated in Revelation that if one changes the words of Revelation that this person's name will be "blotted out" of the book of life? Yes indeed, Revelation 3:5 indicates a chilling possibility of having ones name blotted out, which when coupled with Revelation 22:19, indicating that if one takes away anything from the book, they will be removed from access to the tree of life, is a compelling case to say that one can certainly be unsealed, or, removed from access according to the will of God.

And finally Romans 8:38-39.  Romans 8 is once again encouraging believers to know that Satan, demons, or enemies can't just swoop in and remove a believer from Christ.  Christ upholds the relationship and guides us along the way, upholding us, reproving us, correcting us, and developing our vital relationship with Jesus.  We respond, and interact with Jesus along the way, and nothing can swipe us from His hand.  But we may shipwreck our faith through constant sin, departing from faith community, or various other ways to leave aside our trust in Christ.  

I would contend that the key scriptures for the eternal security view are dealt with in a fair manner, while many scriptures remain which point to a conditional relationship, a relationship that we participate in, a gift that we receive, but must continue in, and a faith that we must practice, not to be saved, but because we've already been saved entirely and completely by Jesus Christ.  We simply continue to engage in that reality until our final day, just as we are taught to do in scripture (Matthew 24:13, Galatians 6:9, Hebrews 3:14, Colossians 1:23). 

Here are some additional scriptures that I would commend to your careful inspection:

Matthew 24:10-13 ESV And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Revelation 3:11 ESV I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.

James 1:12 ESV Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

James 5:19-20 ESV My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

2 Peter 2:20-22 ESV For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

Now many would say that it doesn't really matter. As long as we both love Jesus, that's what matters. I agree that as long as we both love Jesus, we're on the same team. Calvinists and Arminians are family. So what we're discussing here is a family dispute. 

But I would be bold enough to say that it does matter. I've seen ministries like Liberty University, CARM Apologetics, Answers in Genesis, and Got Questions? all supporting an eternal security view of scripture. So I thought I would chime in with a view that seems much more grounded in the fullness of scripture. If you'd like to view articles on the eternal security view, click the two links above which will take you to articles by CARM and Got Questions? defending eternal security. 

 Many of the reformed preachers that have deeply influenced my ministry are also supporters of eternal security; including James MacDonald, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and many others. Of course many others hold Arminian/Molinist views on salvation, like Ravi Zacharias, Norm Geisler, William Lane Craig, and A.W. Tozer.

A new believer may say one prayer, and assume they are saved, but later fall away, thinking all the while that their salvation is eternally secure and there is nothing they can do, no matter how much they sin, to lose it. Conditional security leads to an understanding that we must continue in the faith, continuing to pursue and engage in our living relationship with Jesus Christ. Conditional security leads to good works. 

Churches can talk all they want about holiness and following Jesus Christ, but who is living it? Who is out there on the front lines, living it? I don't want a bogus Christianity. I refuse it! I want a real Christianity, that really practices what it preaches. So let's do that, together.

I'm not interested in traditional divides between Calvinists and Arminians. I'm not interested in unwaveringly defending the views of others. I'm interested in what the Bible really, actually teaches. That is the foundation. We must always approach our questions and theology from that vantage. I'm not on anyone's team aside from team Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. Amen.


Boyd, Gregory A., and Paul R. Eddy. Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2002.

ESV: Study Bible : English Standard Version. ESV Text ed. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Bibles, 2007.

Lutzer, Erwin W. The Doctrines That Divide: A Fresh Look at the Historic Doctrines That Separate Christians. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1998.

Friday, October 13, 2017

My Hearts Longs for Something Greater: Eternity in the Human Heart & the Emptiness of Gorged Sensuality

All of life is filled with parables and metaphors that point to the meta-narrative of existence.  The four seasons are laced with it.  Media, movies, books, and stories are filled with expressions of the longings of our hearts.  We long for a place we've never been.  We desire a home we've never visited.  We're filled with desires that nothing in this life can fulfill.  We have eternity written on our souls, and this finite existence and it's fleeting pleasures leave us empty, exhausted... irritated, angry, because once again we've found a dead end on the one-thousand roads that we thought would lead to ultimate fulfillment. Yet once again we've found ourselves, let down.  

Let down, again and again.  Like that beautiful Radiohead song, "Let Down:" 

Transports, motorways and tramlines, Starting and then stopping
Taking off and landing, The emptiest of feelings
Disappointed people, clinging on to bottles
When it comes it's so, so, disappointing
Let down and hanging around, Crushed like a bug in the ground
Let down and hanging around..."

And it ends with "One day I am going to grow wings, a chemical reaction, hysterical and useless."

We exist in a gray world.  There were bright and colorful days when we were young, but slowly over time it seems like people die inside.  The world slowly goes from bright beautiful colors to gray tones and darkness.  And you see people walking around, and it's like they've lost all life in them, and there is nothing that really keeps them going aside from the pattern of steps they take each day. I call them the walking dead.

Until one day they're old and alone, suicidal and empty, broken, gorged on the delicacies of the world, and found to be... nothing at all.  And only the most perverse pleasures will indulge the longing, and soon all is lost.  Within, infinitely let down by the excesses of this world and so broken and bitter from those angry failures that to even suggest something greater makes them recoil in rage.  Almost like a man who never lived out his dreams... and despises the young idealist who wants to do something special.  

We long for eternity.  We long for a garden of beauty.  We long for a paradise of blue grass and golden skies.  We long to not only feel joy but actually be joy.  

We despair a thousand times in life chasing our goals to find that we've found another dead end.  So we shut ourselves off to any possible good end, aside from indulgence and pleasure, even though those things are fleeting and empty.  But I'm here to tell you today that there is a true end.  

No it's not in fluffy mysticism, no it's not in the ultimate triumph of man, no it's not in money, sex, or power.  It's in surrender.  It's in the end of rebellion.  It's in discovering the architect of all existence.  It's in coming to who the creator really is. And it's about total surrender to this being, and the receiving of life from him.  Believe it.  There is nothing else in this life.  There is no other way.  The code is written on your very soul.  Though we all fight it, we want something else, another way, another route, but there is no other route.  There is only one road home.  

Because the truth is, we're the ones who are lost in the dark woods.  We're the ones who can't find our way. We're the ones who are confused, troubled, disturbed, like a confused, ignorant run away teenager who doesn't have the wherewithal to return home even if it means facing the music.  Maybe we're afraid.  Maybe we want so badly to fight. And to run further away from home.  But there is nothing out there, in this vast darkness... There is nothing out there.  Nothing but loneliness and emptiness.  There is nothing in this dark wood.  There is only the road home, or to go deeper into the nothingness. And the nothingness tears at us, and eats us alive, and crushes our will to live.  Must we go even further into that great night?  Or could we turn and head home?  Even if it means letting go of the ego, letting go of the pride, and humbling ourselves...

Part I: The Journey through a Dark Wood

As C.S. Lewis said: “There is someone I love, even though I don’t approve of what he does. There is someone I accept, though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive, though he hurts the people I love the most. That person is me.” 

This life we live could be described as a long journey through a mysterious woods.  There is beauty.  There is intrigue.  There is fear.  There is so much confusion and doubt, outmatching at times the moments of happiness and joy.  But there is great hope as well.

Sometimes along the journey of life, something very tragic and powerful happens.  Sometimes it hits us face on, and smashes us into pieces.  And sometimes we get stuck.  And instead of moving on, we stop at that place where the moment of pain occurred, and build a house, choosing to live there.  We stop maturing, stop growing.  We become cripples, as no one can stop on the journey and not crumble in the process.  Memories are things to be lived through at the time, and remembered as the moments proceed forward, but we can't pitch a tent in our pain.  We can't continue to punish ourselves for our past mistakes.  But who will forgive us if we can't forgive ourselves?

There is a savior for forgiveness.  There is a way out of the wilderness.  This is a journey that can be made, pain after pain, event after event, joy and sorrow, peace and unsettled, despair and ecstasy, knowledge after knowledge, humbled into pieces, reception of Christ Jesus, and reconnection born after, ever burdened by sin after sin, carrying the incredible weight of distance from his presence, but promised something we cannot see, taste, or touch, yet believing and hoping, against all odds, and on the way changing the world, sharing that fountain with others, day after endless day, eyes to the horizon, head in the clouds, feet on the ground, stunning and shaken, screaming in sadness, victorious shout, endless eternity awaiting those who can just hold out to the end.  Great happiness to those who finish this journey.  That's what it means to me.. being a Christian today.

I was once the grey man, in the grey tunnel, drinking grey ice water, and draining the bottle of the pleasures and indulgences of this life.  I guzzled harder and harder as the meaningfulness of those indulgences faded.  Yet they faded and faded until there was only nothingness.  So much nothingness!

Life is not a cake walk, but it's not a nightmare anymore.  I've lived the nightmare.  I've tasted years of emptiness in the desert, hot sun beating down.  I've frozen in the wastes of sensuality and addiction.  I've lived the nightmare, and I've survived to come through to the other side.  Not many can say the same! 

Life my friend, is madness. Yes, it certainly is.  Life is a winding mess full of incredible tribulation and nightmarish trials and testing fields. But there is reason for great joy and great peace in the storm of present Earth, in this opaque infinitely complex, though desperately simple sin infested dark planet. 

We see the hopelessness all around us.  We see the slowly collapsing state of civilization on this dust ball.  So at this moment of twilight for the human race, in this powerfully present Fall, a savior came called Immanuel. As the waters rocked the boat, and the storm clouds blasted the passengers, all hope had been lost aboard ship, but then on the horizon a figure appeared, walking out to us, the embattled, defeated mass of man kind, Christ Jesus, approaching us on the water.. the promised messiah... to save us from our sins, just before they threatened to toss the boat and leave us wiped from all memory of existence, battered and broken, defeated and lost, Christ Jesus walked out into our disaster and saved us from it. 

That's what he did for me.  He walked out onto the water, and cleared the sky around me, so I could see the truth.  And the clear sky showed me that I needed the son, and I received the son.

Isaiah 43:19 NIV "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."

I almost died on this path through the wilderness of Earth.  That is no stretch, and I have the memories of emergency rooms and the words of doctors to back up such statements.  I gloat in my weakness, because I was utterly unable to help myself. Only God could change me. Yes, God. I'm talking faith in Jesus. Aww you didn't want to hear about "religion" as the end all be all of life?  Maybe you want to go cry about it?  Listen, this isn't the end I hoped for, not at all.  But it is the truth.  That's really all I know.  There is nothing else in this world with any substance.  

We hate God in this world.  It's true.  We can't stand the mere mention.  Maybe it's because his perfection intrudes on our darkness?  Indeed, His power is perfection intruding into this world.

Don't get me wrong, there are so many wonderful experiences in life that remind us just how beautiful life is.  There are so many days that are filled with happiness and contentment.    

He is the reason that I still breathe oxygen.  He is the reason words are on this page.  Jesus Christ is the reason for this season, all together and completely.  All things are made by and for him.

If God is for us who can be against us? 

What is against us, is our sin nature and the forces of evil.  This is a spiritual conflict.  This is a war.  And we are soldiers for Christ. 

“It is said that in some countries trees will grow, but will bear no fruit because there is no winter there.” 
― John Bunyan

And as John Bunyan writes, perhaps we need times of great darkness and cold trial to become people capable of receiving Jesus Christ.  

Charles Spurgeon said, "Whenever God means to make a man great, he always breaks him in pieces first."  All of this could be true.  Perhaps the sin nature makes us so arrogant that we have to be crushed a bit before we can be humble enough to hear the word.  I mean truly hear it.  
I won't claim to know every experience.  I imagine there are literally millions of different ways to the cross of Christ, from all manner of backgrounds and all manner of trials and tribulations.  But it was my experience, that I needed a great deal of pain and suffering to be willing to call on Jesus Christ.  

Sin is a dangerous adversary as we go about this incredible beautiful adventure to the homeland, which is the winding rocky path of all Christians.  We are not heading to heaven, so much as we are heading home.  

No place has ever felt fully home to me in this life, not a single one.  Even memories of family, at the old white house in Rothschild, or the house on Ross ave... it's never quite felt like home.  Do you have the same experience? I think you do.  So where is home?  What is home?  What is the meaning here?

In our keen human intellectual capacity, the answer seemed too simple for it to be right.  We demanded something more complicated.  And I've seen people die demanding something more complicated.  It's simple: Jesus Christ.  People want it to be harder.  They want to achieve salvation through karma, reincarnation, secret illumination, and so on.  There is no achievement.  It's a free gift.  What we do is simply humble ourselves enough to receive it, and believe it.

Be under no illusions.  Sin can rip people from ever entering the narrow gate.  Ironically we've always looked outside ourselves for the enemy, but the enemy has always been right there.  The enemy is us.  The enemy is how we act if we don't keep ourselves in check.  And sadly many die not knowing this.  Many die not caring.  Many die consciously or subconsciously choosing to do exactly as they please.  And many today will utterly refuse to face themselves alone, without any technology blinking or text messaging or television or movie or internet or party, so that they don't have to face the realizations that flow from such a calmness of the mind.

Realizations like... What am I doing with myself?  Where is this leading me?  Wow this needs to stop! Look at me!  I'm not happy.  Hes abusing me.  Shes using me.  I feel guilty about that.  How can I change this? 

It's incredibly powerful and all consuming, the sin nature.  And what I'm about to tell you is completely true from my intensely personal view on my drug and alcohol disaster.  As I lay dying in my trashed house, having lost everything I had, month after month, year after year, the realization that I ought to call out to Jesus Christ to save me was not an option I had even considered. 

So then how did I know to?  I couldn't tell you really.  It just kind of popped into my head.  What I'm saying is that I would have overdosed, been dead with nothing without direct intercession by the Father himself.  

And it wasn't till later that I read John 6:44 and realized just how true it was.  Ever have a "wow" moment?

John 6:44 (ESV) "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day."

Be careful of sin.  It's deadly to non-believers whether they know it or are willing to accept it or not.  It's dangerous to seekers and Christians a like.  We go up against the sin nature within us everyday.  We as Christians have the Holy Spirit to help us in this.  Otherwise we tend to lose much more than win, and get strung out on all manner of addictions whether to food, money, sex, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, attention, shopping, television, pornography, and so on and so forth.  Being enslaved to addictions is ugly and strange.  

Yet it's kind of funny in retrospect I thought I was "so free" the liberated Hunter S. Thompson-esc Gonzo journalist living on the edge not tied down. But my own brain was lying to me.  The addictions progressed over time and the chains grew more and more obvious until even I could tell, in my alternative reality, my delusion, that it was killing me.  We're always the last to know these things about ourselves, aren't we? 

Be careful for the supposedly wise of the world, Mr. worldly-wise, you can always tell them by their fruit, their personality, how they act, and what kind of things they do in the world.  Arrogance is so very common in world-wise people.  Elitism.  I have found after going through all the philosophy, writing, journalism, studying politics, world religions, history, and all the various economic, social, and political mechanisms of the world, no matter how smart or seemingly wise I was, there were three factors that made such wisdom meaningless and fraudulent.  

For one, I was incapable of correctly interpreting the data because I was utterly biased, seeing all things from a bogus naturalistic worldview. (Not to mention the writers, researchers, and experts had their own agendas as well!)  Two, despite all my supposed wisdom I was greatly self-ambitious and selfish.  Thus my interpretations delved deeply into my own desire for the outcomes I preferred rather than the facts on the ground.  And three, because in the back of my mind a priori I had decided it can't be Christianity.  That was the worst possible outcome to me. 

Many never escape that.  I'm very glad that I did. 

This is a powerful journey we're on.  And I'm so very grateful to be a part of it.  I did not expect it.  I did not want it.  But now I can look at it and say I'm learning to love it.  I'm learning to start to see simile, metaphor, illusion, temptation, and inspiration in the world around me, in the snow banks, in the eyes of strangers and friends, in the words spoken, in the music playing, in the movies, in the pages of the Bible, and in my quiet prayers, my talks with my Maker.   

That completes part one, the primer to the forest, the road home, and Jesus Christ the hidden, shadowed tree in the forest of sin, that one tree that can return us to the tree of life.  Remember that Adam and Eve had a garden full of trees to eat from, and only one to avoid.  Today in this fall, we have a forest full of evil trees, and only one that can lead us back home.  Jesus is the way:  Jesus and the tree he was nailed to, is the only way home.  

Part II: The War

So we turn to phase two of this road home.  And once again, we'll begin with a quotation from C.S. Lewis: "Enemy-occupied territory---that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.”

Like C.S. Lewis' classic book "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" we find ourselves in a war zone.  Plain and simple, part two of our saga is called "the war."  

You see as Christians we are anomalies in the matrix. We're essentially alien outsiders in the kingdoms of men.  People don't understand us, they can't comprehend why we do what we do.  We're near invisible quite often in the quick paced worldly world.  They can't see us, and when they do they're angry and afraid.  We've been "unplugged" from the system.  We're on our hoverships, in the fall of man, in the broken disaster area of Earth.  We're in the sewers like the U.S.S. Nebuchadnezzar, Captained by Morpheus and Trinity, we're the resistance movement fighting a desperate war against the machine consciousness. 

We're the Maquis, the french resistance in World War II, fighting in a pitch resistance movement against the Nazi oppressors.  We're the resistance fighters in shadowed rooms listening to the radio for secret messages from God almighty.  We're the soldiers of Christ launching acts of sabotage against the kingdoms of darkness. 

You'll find yourself as a solo Christian only for so long until your recruited by some resistance cell.  I'm not certain where you might end up.  I know people who've ended up in schools teaching children, I've known people who joined missionary organizations, I've known people who go overseas, I know people who do street ministry, I know people who do charity work, disaster relief, grief counseling, and I know many people who are parts of small ecclesiastical communities here and there that do their part in this righteous resistance movement.  The acts are spiritual in nature, works given to us to do by the Holy Spirit, our General and field commander.  

Some are given to be foot soldiers of the war, some are given to be leaders of the spiritual war.  I was just one of those few chosen by God for a leadership position in his forces.  

We're like the spartan program in the Halo series.  You've got your foot soldiers that you fight along side of, then you have your master chief, a front lines sort of warrior, with enhanced skills, spiritual gifts if you will, that add to his ability to fight and defeat enemies and their leaders and foot soldiers.  

Essentially we're in a struggle between the forces of darkness, commanded by the rogue angel Satan, and all his followers, his demonic forces, and the humans who submit to his will through ignorance, or lust for power, and we fight against that kingdom.  And that kingdom has had total pre-eminence since the dawn of the fall, until the death and resurrection of Christ.  Ever since the day that Jesus died for us, the kingdom of God has been moving out in all directions, making war with the kingdoms of darkness.  And we're on the frontlines of that war today.

Unfortunately we're losing more and more battles as the years go on.  I believe that is part of the plan.  Just as in C.S. Lewis's Narnia, the forces of Aslan are fighting the wicked queen, but the wicked queen is defeating them because she can freeze their warriors in place.  So we're waiting for the return of our King, Jesus Christ, who will end the war, finally, and saved Zion, the city at the center of the Earth, where it's still warm.  Oh wait, that's the Matrix series.  Yes, Jesus will return, save Israel, defeat the evil kingdom, and usher in a time of 1,000 years of peace.  

So we're the warriors, both foot soldiers and leaders of the righteous resistance.  And we're losing.  But we keep on fighting, setting souls free, saving people from the matrix, freeing minds to know the truth about life, that service to sin is slavery and Christ can set us free.  

We move from just discovering that reality to helping others to see that reality themselves.  We become soldiers of the kingdom, and leaders of the armies of God.  That is our calling now, as we push forward for the glory of God.  Find your place, take up your weapons and fight for the lost souls of mankind who need Jesus Christ.  The war is real, and billions of lives hang in the balance.  Good luck, and God bless. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Should Christians be fighting a Culture War?

Have you ever heard the phrase "the culture war?"  It's a blanket phrase that describes the various cultural "conflicts" between perhaps more conservative and more liberal beliefs in real world society.  Images come to mind of the the battle over Christmas, yard signs that say "Keep Christ in Christmas" and of course who can forget topics like Columbus Day, Thanksgiving changing to Turkey Day, the debate over gay marriage, Religious liberty, NFL players taking a knee for the national anthem, Hollywood, "morality in the public square" and other sort of cultural topics with certain political undertones.  

So what is a culture war?  Does it really even exist?  If so, who are fighting it?  And should Christians be involved?  

Usually when someone brings up "the culture war" it's in the context of talking about the mean, bad, "Christian Right" these terrible Christian supremacists (as Tim Keller called them) who won't stop fighting and being mean and driving people away from Christ.  

But is this characterization accurate?  Christians, especially young Christians don't just dislike this "Christian right" they downright hate them.  Why?  Well, it's hard to say.  They're angry about what they focus on, I suppose.  They've intermingled the Christian message with politics, those evil bastards! Is this correct? Let's talk about this culture war and the people who fight back and forth.

So does this culture war actually exist? The phrase "culture war" wasn't actually coined until 1991.  But if one is referring to the struggle to define America waged by leaders on the left and on the right of the political spectrum, emerging in issues like "taking a knee" for the national anthem, the debates about calling it Christmas or winter season, and the discussions about gay marriage, religious liberty, and conscientious objection, then yes, a sort of struggle does certainly exist in American society and does emerge in political and social debate in media.  Anyone who fails to recognize this apparent conflict is simply not paying attention to modern American society.  It's one thing that nearly all of us can recognize and many of us often loath to recognize. 

Is there a cultural struggle occurring?  Yes.  But it's not a literal "war" with guns, bullets, and death.  The phrase "culture war" seems to describe a conflict of ideas, of ideologies and philosophies of life, not any sort of violence.

So if a cultural conflict exists, and we know it does, what caused it?  How did it come about?

One could say that the culture war has been going on to some extent since the 1920s.  Before then there had been a shared vision in the culture of the United States regarding how Americans saw the country.  American society generally saw itself as Christian, moral, ethical, patriotic, and embracing of certain values like liberty, freedom, justice, and equality.  But a new movement was beginning that would call into question all of these values and begin to question if America was really good, free or equal.

There were many leaders and sub-movements that one could talk about as to how the movement began: Fabian socialists, the results of World Wars I and II, massive immigration to the United States, cultural marxism, Saul Alinsky, Herbert Marcuse, the Frankfurt School's teachings on Critical Theory, the "new deal" under Franklin D. Roosevelt, the policies of President Woodrow Wilson,  and the great depression to name a few.  But that's not the main topic of our discussion today.  

The culture war broke into new bounds in the 1960s with the emergence of the new left, prayer and the Bible being driven from public schools, and evolutionary theory being enshrined in the public school systems.  The United States had been largely a Christian society, struggling with issues like segregation, eugenics, the debates over Watergate, the Vietnam war, and many other issues.  But ever since the 1960s America society has been undergoing a major change in ethics and values.  This change has been pushed by leaders in the business world, the public schools, Hollywood, the news media, the sciences, and most prominently the university systems of the United States.  That's just a bit of history of the culture war.

So who started the culture war?  This may come as a surprise to you, since I know the news media almost universally lays the blame for the culture war at the feet of traditionalists, conservatives, and Christians.  But the data is unequivocal, the culture war has been perpetrated by those on the other side of the spectrum, the progressive movement, materialists, naturalists, atheists, and the new left.  Now, it's quite true to say that both sides have made many mistakes.  Many traditionalists and conservatives and "evangelicals" have made poor decisions in the culture war.  I'm not trying to absolve anyone of shameful decisions.  I'm just looking at the history here.  But it's quite obvious from the history, that the opening shots were fired by the progressives, and indeed the progressive side is the one pushing for the radical changes to American society which has always been traditionally founded on a moral and ethical society based in Christianity, and centered on ethics like liberty, freedom, absolute truths, and equality under the law.   

Next question, who is fighting the culture war?  There are two main sides in the culture war.  But let me preface by saying that there is a huge spectrum of beliefs here.  And it's really quite foolish to begin characterizing everyone on the left side as socialist Marxist totalitarian Alinskyte critical theory radicals and everyone on the right side as judgmental bigoted gun toting gay-hating fascist westboro baptist Evangelicals. That just isn't accurate. There are radicals on both sides of the debate but on both sides they represent a minority.  Most of those on the right side of the debate are honest, decent, hard working conservatives who may or may not be Christian or Jewish or other faiths.  And most on the left side of the debate are honest, decent, hard working liberals who may be non-religious, naturalistic or atheistic, but then again many may identify themselves as Christian, Jewish, or other faiths. 

Next question, what does the Bible say about participating in a cultural conflict? Unfortunately the Bible does not directly deal with the issue of cultural struggles.  Though we do get some interesting pictures of cultural conflict from the struggles of the ancient nation of Israel in the Old Testament.  Israel often struggled, especially in the time of the ancient kings with the issue of foreign gods and non-Jewish practices coming into conflict with Israeli culture.  A bad king would take over, and would worship false gods, and asherah poles would be constructed.  Then a good king would come along, like King Josiah, who was proceeded by his father and grandfather who were both evil kings, and they would try to turn things around.  In fact in Josiah's reign the book of the law was discovered in the temple by the high priest Hilkiah and Josiah ordered the book to be read before the people, and repentance was proclaimed.  The Asherah poles were cut down and the sacred stones of the false gods were smashed.  As it says in 2nd Kings 23:14a "Josiah smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles..."  Ever since the exodus from Egypt, Israel had practiced the passover each year to remind them of how God delivered them from captivity.  But during the times of the evil kings this practice was lost over time.  King Josiah restored this sacred practice saying: “Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was kept to the Lord in Jerusalem (2nd Kings 23:21-23). King Josiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and honored his ways all of his days.  He renewed a broken culture. And all it took was one young man, who was only eight years old when we took the throne, to begin to try to turn the tide against a cultural decay (2nd Kings 22:1-23:37).  

Additionally, we see the example of Daniel during the Babylonian captivity.  Daniel and his friends refused to bow before the golden statue of Nebuchadnezzar. They lived differently.  Daniel did not eat the fine foods of the Babylonian society, but instead requested vegetables (Daniel 1:12).  He lived differently, but he didn't shelter himself from society either.  He worked for the king, interpreted his dreams, and worked for him in his courts.  And God honored this, and through his work in Babylon, eventually Israel was able to return home, and Darius honored God (Daniel 6:24-28). Daniel was a counter-cultural force in an ungodly culture.  

Secondly, in the New Testament, did Jesus involve himself in the politics and cultural issues of the time in which he lived?  The short answer to that question is yes.  The Pharisees and Sadducees were the political and religious leaders of Israel at this point in history.  Of course the Pharisees and Sadducees had to get everything cleared through Roman officials, because at this time in history Israel was occupied by the ancient Roman empire.  Jesus contended with many of the cultural practices of the Israelites at this time, by doing things like healing on the Sabbath day (which was forbidden), condemning the Pharisees as blind guides, white washed tombs, and hypocrites, declaring all meats as holy and able to eaten (despite Jewish custom to the contrary), and declared himself greater than Abraham (the key Jewish father of the nation) by saying "before Abraham was born, I am.  Jesus was a truly counter-cultural figure, and he participated in his culture, fighting against the old, corrupted laws of the Pharisees, and declaring a new culture of grace, mercy, and the coming kingdom of God.  Jesus won this culture war, and later his followers led by Paul won another cultural battle in Acts at the Jerusalem Council (Acts chapter 15) where it was determined that Gentiles (non-Jews) would not be required to follow Jewish cultural customs, but would be free under the grace of Christ.  

But it's important to note that Jesus did not advocate violent overthrow of corrupt cultures.  Instead he advocated obedience. In fact he told the Jews to pay their taxes to Caesar (Matthew 22:21).  And the apostle Paul echoed the obedience of Jesus in Romans chapter 13 when he talked about being subject to governing authorities.  

One additional thought: The first Jesus followers launched into the Roman empire and in three hundred years they had redeemed a fallen, decadent culture by carrying the gospel and interacting with leaders and spreading the faith.  They offered up their blood in brutal persecutions and eventually this led to Constantine declaring Christianity to be the official religion of Rome.  They carried a counter-cultural message and millions of Romans were converted and Roman culture was transformed as a result.  

Final question: Should Christians be involved in the culture war? Well, that's up to you.  If you have no interest in the "culture war" and your focus as a Christian is simply to make disciples of Jesus, and to carry His gospel to the hurting of this world: Then please, please, please do that!  If your a Christian and you feel called to serve others through charitable work, soup kitchens, and social services, then please, please do that!  If your a Christian and you feel called to serve as a missionary to foreign countries: Do it!  Please!  And I love each of you for it, so much.  Thank you so much for those callings.  

But I would just ask one thing of the pastor called to preach, the evangelist called to spread the gospel, the missionary called to go to other nations, and the servant leader led to meet the needs of the poor:  Please don't attack your brother and sister Christians who feel a strong, important, much needed call to stand up for Christ in American culture.  Because there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  

In fact for the past two thousand years the gospel has served to transform cultures and remake cultures.  Maybe you don't like the term "war" and don't like the idea of Christians "fighting."  Well, then don't use those words.  Think of it in terms of transforming and renewing broken culture.  

But it really, really bothers me when people attack Christians who take a stand on political issues, and who attack Christians who take a stand on social issues.  Those are areas where we as Christians serve: Not to enshrine Christianity, no, but to uphold society, which the gospel has been doing for the past two thousand years across the globe.  So please, please, think twice before you go out into the media to win brownie points by attacking your own brothers and sisters.  Sure, people will cheer you, because they hate the much vilified "Christian right."  

I don't consider myself as part of that.  I'm just a Christian.  But I'm thankful for those who are in court each day defending the rights of millions of Christians in our country who don't even realize their right to speak about Jesus is under attack everyday.  I'm thankful for Christians who stand against child genocide and human trafficking.  I'm thankful for Christians who stand against racism, sexual abuse, and child abuse in the cultural and political sphere.  And yes, I'm even thankful for Christians who stand up for Thanksgiving and Christmas, as unique parts of American society, that remind children and adults alike that all we have comes from God.  There isn't anything wrong with that either.  

Sometimes I wish they would fight differently, or more wisely, but I'm glad they are out there trying to make a difference.  So the next time you see a Christian standing up for marriage, or for the life of unborn children, or for religious freedom, or even for simply respecting the flag of this country, don't take pot shots at them.    Encourage them to continue, and remember that they are standing up for your rights, for the love of Christ, and for future generations that will live in the society we create today.  And if you feel yourself filled with rage and anger for the "Christian right" then maybe ask yourself: Where is this hate coming from?  And then ask God to set you free from that anger.  And if you feel called to help transform American society, then participate, and don't let anyone tell you your being "judgmental" for standing up for Christ.  

God bless. 

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Kingdom of God in Contemporary Society: The Earthly Conflict between Babylon and the Kingdom

The Fall of Babylon artist depiction cc 2.0

Calvary by John Martin, cc 2.0
It's all around us though we may not see it.  It's built into our lives though we don't see more than fading glances of it's reality.  It's torn at us for all our lives, our hearts ache against it, but it remains.  It climbs upon our backs, it whispers into our ears of things we ought not do.  It's a kingdom all encompassing, a constant danger to peace, hope, and liberty.  It's the kingdom that rises up in opposition to truth.

It's a self-centered system that exemplifies the ideals of humanism, the idea that humanity will triumph through strenuous effort.  It's cries out "peace, peace!" but it brings war, famine, and disaster.  It builds cities into the heavens, it climbs into the clouds, smoke billows from it's stacks, the gears of the machine turn, and it builds walls around itself.  It cobbles together statues and monuments to it's own greatness.  From it's gates pour forth armies of darkness by the tens of thousands, gathered to make camp about the city of God, and tear it's boundaries down, and lead it's people into captivity.  Yes, this is the kingdom of babylon. And what can we do against it? 

Babylon the great mystery it is, in fact the scriptures call it "mystery babylon" (Rev 17:5).  The mystery of babylon is this: Babylon is the kingdom of human self-exaltation that rises up in consistent battle against the kingdom of God on Earth. 

It was babel in Genesis, then Egypt and the Pharoahs.  It was midian, it was the philistines, and it was Jericho and Ai.  It opposed Israel, the nation of God, and fought Israel, and built up around it.  David and Solomon put babylon to rest, expanding the power and reach of the city of God.  But though Solomon conquered babylon outwardly, inwardly babylon broke into the heart of Solomon. 

Then once again babylon reared it's head as Babylon, led by Nebuchadnezzar, besieging and taking Israel into captivity. Eventually Israel returned, but by this time babylon's expression had grown across most of the civilized world in various expressions of kingdoms and powers. 

Again babylon came as the ancient Roman empire, but little did the kingdom of Satan know, but a secret resistance movement was about to take hold in the tiny nation of Israel.  

John the baptist began proclaiming this message of the coming resistance movement against babylon, and he called it "the kingdom of God."  Jesus Christ was born into the world, hallelujah, and the resistance began with twelve men and a handful of women who began following Jesus and listening to everything he said.  Jesus was God become a man, and soon many began to wonder: What can babylon do against this kingdom of God?  But many misinterpreted the coming of Jesus to be a physical violent overthrow of babylon, expressed in the ancient Roman empire.  This was not the case.  Instead Jesus our resistance leader came to give by dying, to achieve victory by shedding his blood, to conquer by loving, to defeat by being crushed, and to declare victory by offering his life as a gift of righteousness for the world.  So Jesus died and many though the revolution was over.  The great leader had passed away, the world had killed yet another wise teacher, just like it always did... And then the impossible happened.

Jesus appeared after his brutal death nailed to the cross and left to rot, and He came back and He showed himself to be alive.  It was inconcievable, how could Jesus be alive!? Yet there He was, walking and talking with his disciples.  Jesus had declared victory over the kingdom of darkness and death.  Jesus had cancelled out death itself, the worst foe humanity had ever faced.  Jesus paid it all that day, and reclaimed His life with Godly power. 

Christ stayed with His disciples teaching them, resurrected, and then He gave them the great commission: Go into all the world and preach the gospel, the good news, to everyone, everywhere.  Then Jesus returned to the reality in which God exists, in an eternal state, to return again at the end of all time. But Jesus sent a friend to remain with them as an organizer, as one who would lead the resistance against babylon, Jesus called Him the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit would be the General, the resistance leader who would somehow take a few thousand followers of Jesus and conquer all the nations on Earth with love and the transforming new birth in Jesus. 

His disciples, emboldened by their resurrected master boldly launched themselves into the Roman empire, converting it to Christianity. Despite babylon rearing it's head in Nero the insane emperor of Rome who fed hundreds of Christians to the lions, with every pool of blood that the martyred Christian's offered it seemed that from those pools of blood tens and hundreds more would appear, born again, washed in the blood of Christ, amazed by the willingness of these martyrs to pour out their blood for Jesus.  When Rome fell hundreds of years later the Christians seeded throughout the empire spread into the barbarian tribes, launching north, south, east, and west into the whole world.  The revolution had become global, and though it would face dire threats from Islam's brutal invasions of Europe, and Communism's genocidal nightmares in the east, never-the-less nothing could stop the kingdom of God.  It even spread from an increasingly corrupt Europe and blossomed in North America, Central America, and South America.  

From then on there has been a constant battle and struggle between the kingdom of God and it's leader the Holy Spirit and the kingdom of Satan, babylon and it's leader Satan. Today we see little babylons all over the world, probably exemplifying one large expression of babylon, and even America, a country founded in Christian ethics, has become a babylon itself, though there is a remnant of Christian faith in it remaining. 

Jesus said that the good news would have to be preached to every nation, and then the end would come.  The end seems to be a situation where the Holy Spirit departs, or whatever barrier is holding back the darkness departs, some say it's the church itself, and then babylon takes total control.  At that point the final events of Revelation begin to take place, culminating in the return of Christ, at which time everything changes.  

So what is the mystery of babylon?  The mystery of babylon is that it is the kingdom of Satan.  It is the ultimate manifestation of rebellion.  While the church, the Christianity of the world is the exemplification of humanity in righteous cooperation with God in holy acts of sabotage against the kingdom of Satan, babylon exemplifies the consummate rebel humanity, hand in hand with Satan, fruit in hand, building Satan's kingdom with the hope that it will obtain for them man's final realization of self-crowned godhood. 

You see, babylon has two attacks: It has the outward foreign power attack, which is strong and dangerous, and has reared it's head as Nazi Germany and the USSR in recent history, and in Napoleon's France and Marcus Aurelius's ancient Rome.  But babylon's insidious power to destroy comes equally from it's ability to inwardly rot and destroy through insurrection and immorality.  Babylon was the atheistic french revolution.  Babylon was the cultural decay of the Roman empire before it's fall.  Babylon was the pride and rebellion in Solomon's heart as he turned to foreign women, foreign gods, and it ruined Israel's future.  Babylon is the kingdom of man.  And I see it once again growing like a cancer within the United States; It couldn't destroy us as Nazi Germany or the militarized Japanese forces, so it came in another way, through cultural marxism, and secular humanism.  

While we struggle in the west against humanist/naturalist ideologies we'd be wise to remember that any and every earthly kingdom is always headed, like a piano down a steep mountain road, toward babylon.  The lesson seems to be that any Earthly kingdom, no matter how well intentioned, will eventually turn into a babylonian-self exalting kingdom of darkness. Don't we see that rebellion reaching consummation today in America after 60 or so years of cultural revolution?  The kingdom of babylon is once again fighting tooth and nail to overthrow the kingdom of God.  

We see that paradigm emerge one last time in Revelation at the culmination of disaster before the return of Christ. Thus the coming kingdom of God is the only government that will last eternally in righteousness.  Remarkably we see that even in the millennial reign of Christ, the one thousand year intermediary reign of Christ that even in these circumstances of Christ reigning on Earth, Satan is released one last time and once again successfully deceives millions of people to once again lay siege to the kingdom of God.  It is a motif the repeats in the old testament, repeats today, and will repeat one last time even after the return of Christ.  

Yet finally, babylon is defeated, not by man, but by God himself.  All things are made new, new universe, new Earth, and redeemed hearts and glorified bodies for each human being who has chosen to stand with God against the dark kingdom.  Babylon is finally defeated eternally by God, by God making all things new.  Christ reigns, we live eternally, and babylon will never return to attack us again.  Finally, at last, peace.  

So we are at war everyday.  It's true.  We are in spiritual warfare.  We should keep fighting of course.  We should keep praying zealously, praying for our country, praying for the lost, and praying against injustice.  We are the resistance against the kingdom of darkness, and though final victory can only by given by God, we are called each day to advance the kingdom of God, by doing the will of the Holy Spirit as He moves and leads our forces to carry the message of God's atoning grace: Jesus Christ has paid it all, and He is alive today.  He is living, so we can face down the kingdom of darkness, and expect victory.  Expect victory.  

Jerusalem present day CC 2.0

Babylonian captivity CC 2.0

"Live Fire Exercise" CC 2.0

Depiction of Calvary cc 2.0
Photo of the United Nations CC 2.0

Depiction of the babylonian "Hanging Gardens" CC 2.0

Depiction of Adam & Eve hiding from God

The massive city in the desert in Kazakhstan

"Hanging Gardens" CC 2.0
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