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OSAS, The Whole Story – By Jack Kelley – Grace Thru Faith

I received a few comments after posting my last article “The Departure,” attempting to take me to task over my position of “once saved, always saved.” I am sharing this excellent and thorough exploration of the Doctrine of Eternal Security, written by my friend Jack Kelley, who is now with the Lord and with whom I wholeheartedly agree, rather than engage in individual debates from several who follow my blog in my comments section. – Terry

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

If you follow our “Ask a Bible Teacher” feature, you know how many comments I’ve received lately that question the Doctrine of Eternal Security (aka Once Saved Always Saved or OSAS). Based on their content I’ve concluded that many people neither understand OSAS nor have they considered the alternative.

Let’s Begin At The Beginning

It’s time to set the record straight once and for all. What does it take to be saved? I think the best answer to that question is the one the Lord gave in John 6:28-29.

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Here was a perfect opportunity to list all the things we have to do to meet God’s requirements. Jesus could have rattled off the 10 commandments. He could have repeated the Sermon on the Mount. He could have listed any number of admonitions and restrictions necessary to achieve and maintain God’s expectations of us. But what did He say? “Believe in the one He has sent.” Period. It was a repeat of John 3:16, confirming that belief in the Son is the one and only requirement for salvation.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

A few verses later in John 6:38-40 He said that this wasn’t just His idea, as if that wouldn’t be enough, but that His Father was in complete agreement. And not only would our belief suffice to provide us with eternal life, but that it was God’s will that Jesus lose none of those who believe. You and I have been known to disobey God’s will, but has Jesus ever done so? And isn’t He the one who’s been charged with the responsibility for keeping us? Let’s read it.

“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:38-40)

Just in case we missed this promise, Jesus made it again even more clearly in John 10:28-30. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” The Father and the Son have both accepted responsibility for our security. Once we’re in Their hands, no one can get us away.

I have purposely only used words straight from the Lord’s own mouth to make this case because I can already hear the choruses of “Yes Buts” mounting as those who refuse to take them at face value get ready to trot out their favorite verses denying Eternal Security, misinterpreted though they are.

The one characteristic of God’s that gives us the most comfort is knowing that He can’t lie or change His mind or contradict Himself. He can’t say something in one place and then say something entirely different in another. He’s consistent. If He says that we’re saved solely because of our belief in Him, and that He’s accepted responsibility for keeping us so, then we can count on that. As we’ll see, anything in the Bible that seems to contradict these simple, straightforward statements has to be talking about something else.

But first, since He puts so much emphasis on belief, let’s take a closer look at that word. What does He mean when He says “believe”? It must be more than just a casual thing because reliable statistics show, for example, that 85% of those who come forward to “receive the Lord” at a crusade or other evangelistic outreach never form any connection with a church or Bible Study or in any other way demonstrate a relationship with the Lord afterward.

And Jesus spoke of the seed that fell on rocky places. He said, “This is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.” (Matt. 13:20-21) If these people were saved and then fell away, all His promises above have been broken. There must be more. So what does it mean to believe?

The Greek word for believe is “pistis.” According the Strong’s Concordance, it’s a “conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it.” In connection with the Lord Jesus, it means “a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God.”

The Apostle Paul gave us valuable insight into the nature of this belief. He wrote, If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)

This isn’t just some intellectual thing that carries us away on the words of a captivating speaker, only to leave us flat a short time later. It’s a conviction that’s formed deep in our heart, the realization that Jesus is not just a man. He’s the Lord Himself, and He took upon Himself the penalty due us for our sins, which is death. And to prove that God counted His death as sufficient, He raised Jesus from the dead to be seated beside Him in the Heavenly realms. (Ephes. 1:20) Since God can’t dwell in the presence of sin, and since the wages of sin is death, every one of our sins has to have been paid for. If even one remained unpaid, Jesus would still be in the grave. We have to believe that Jesus rose from the grave in order to believe that we will.

It’s that kind of belief that gets you saved and keeps you that way, because it sets in motion a chain of events that’s irreversible. There are four links in this chain. You supply two and the Lord supplies two. You hear and believe, and the Lord marks and guarantees.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

The word translated “deposit” is a legal term. Today we would say Earnest Money. It’s a down payment that constitutes a legal obligation to follow through with the purchase. If you’ve ever bought any Real Estate, you’re familiar with the term. If not, here’s another example. It’s like we’ve been put on “lay away.” The price has been paid and we’ve been taken off the display shelf until the one who has purchased us returns to claim us. In the mean time we cannot be bought by anyone else, because we legally belong to the one who has paid the deposit. “You are not your own,” we’re told. “You were bought with a price.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

All of this happened at our first moment of belief, before we could do anything to either earn or lose our position. The man on the cross beside Jesus is the prototype for this transaction. Having done something bad enough to get himself executed, he was promised a place in Paradise solely because he believed in his heart that Jesus was the Lord of a coming Kingdom.

Paul made it even clearer when he repeated this incredible promise in 2 Cor. 1:21-22. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

This time He removed all doubt as to just Who it is that keeps us saved. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. What could be clearer?

Union And Fellowship

If the Doctrine of Eternal Security is so clear then why all the disagreement about it? I’ve found two reasons. The first is the two-sided nature of our relationship with the Lord. I call one side Union. It’s eternal and unconditional, based only on our belief. Ephesians 1:13-14 describes our Union with God, sealed and guaranteed. Once we’re born again, we can’t become unborn. It’s good forever. The Holy Spirit is sealed within us from our first moment of belief until the day of redemption.

I call the other side Fellowship and it’s a bit more complicated. Fellowship is that state of continual closeness to God that enables Him to bless us in our daily lives, by making things happen for us and protecting us from attack. It’s like He’s teamed up with us to give us a supernatural advantage. Fellowship is defined by 1 John 1:5-9 as being both Earthly and conditional upon our behavior. Even as believers, as long as we’re here on Earth we’ll continue to sin. Since God can’t abide in the presence of sin, our unconfessed sins interrupt our Earthly relationship with Him and may deprive us of blessings we might have otherwise received. We’re still saved in the eternal sense, but out of Fellowship here on Earth.

When we’re out of Fellowship, we’re legitimate targets for our enemy’s mischief, just like Job was. His sin was self-righteousness and because he wouldn’t confess it, God had to let Satan afflict him in order to bring him to his senses. For a New Testament illustration, look at the parable of the Prodigal Son. (Luke 15:11-32) Like the younger son, we’ll still belong to our Father’s family, but won’t receive any of its blessings while we’re out of Fellowship. And like both Job and the Prodigal, when we return to our Father and confess our sins, we’re immediately purified from all unrighteousness and restored to Fellowship.

One reason that many Christians live such defeated lives is that having only learned about the Union part of being a believer, they only know that God has forgiven their sins and that they’ll go to be with Him when they die or are Raptured. They don’t realize that they still need to confess every time they sin to stay in Fellowship. And so, being deprived of God’s providence, they may become discouraged and even stop praying and attending church. Other believers, who don’t understand the dual relationship either, look at the mess they’re in and think they must have lost their salvation. Like Job’s friends, they look in God’s Word for confirmation, and by taking verses out of context, believe they have found the proof.

Union and Fellowship are not just New Testament ideas. In the Old Testament, even when Israel was being obedient in thought and action, doing their best to please God, the priests still had to sacrifice a lamb on the altar every morning and every evening for the sins of the people. 1 John 1:9 is the New Testament equivalent of those daily sacrifices for sin. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. It was written for believers who are already saved, but are in danger of being out of Fellowship because of their sins.

The Gift And the Prize

The other reason people get confused is that there are two types of benefits in Eternity. The first is the free Gift called Salvation that’s given to all who ask in faith irrespective of merit and guarantees our admission into the Kingdom. Ephesians 2:8-9 is the model, saying that salvation is a Gift from God.

The second consists of Heavenly rewards we can earn for the things we do as believers here on Earth. Philippians 3:13-14 are good verses for explaining this. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. In addition to the Gift, there’s a Prize.

A gift is something given out of love, irrespective of merit, and is never taken back. A prize, on the other hand, is something we qualify for and earn. And if we’re not careful we can lose it. (Rev. 3:11) Paul had already received the Gift of salvation, it was behind him. Now he was focused on winning the Prize as well.

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 he explained the difference in greater detail. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

No Olympic athlete was satisfied just to have qualified to participate in the games. Everyone wanted to win the victor’s crown. Likewise, we shouldn’t be satisfied just to have received the Gift of salvation. We must now live our lives as believers in such a way as to win the Prize as well.

The Bible calls some of these prizes crowns, and while the athlete’s crown soon wilted away (it was a wreath of ivy) the crowns believers can win last forever. They’re worth making some sacrifices for. That’s why Paul said, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Cor. 9:27) The crowns are identified as the Everlasting Crown (Victory) in 1 Cor 9:25, Crown of the Soul Winner in Phil 4:1 and 1 Thes 2:19, Crown of Righteousness in 2 Tim 4:8, Crown of Life in Jas 1:12 and Rev 2:10, and the Crown of Glory in 1 Peter 5:4.

The difference between the Gift and the Prize is also seen in 1 Cor. 3:12-15. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

At the judgment of believers, the quality of our work on earth will be tested by fire. Only work that survives the test will bring us a reward. But notice that even if all our work is destroyed in the fire, we’ll still have our salvation. Why? Because it’s a free Gift, given out of love, irrespective of merit.

The Lord mentioned other rewards as well. In Matt. 6:19-21 He advised us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

There are things we can do as believers while here on Earth that will cause deposits to be made to our heavenly account. Some believe that this passage refers to the way we use the money we’re given. Do we use it to enrich ourselves, stacking up possessions that far exceed our needs? Or do we use it to further the work of the Kingdom? Here’s a hint. Our tithe is what we owe to God. It’s what we do with the money we have left that really counts. And with the measure we use, it will be measured to us. (Luke 6:38)

To summarize, in the New Testament there are verses like Ephesians 1:13-14 that talk about Union. There are verses like 1 John 1: 8-9 that talk about Fellowship. There are verses like Ephesians 2:8-9 that talk about the Gift and there are verses like 1 Cor 9:24-27 that talk about the Prize.

Union verses:
The verses that stress belief, explain the permanent nature of our bond with God, and are directed toward eternity are Union verses.

Gift verses:
Those that involve grace and faith are Gift verses.

Fellowship verses:
Those that require work and are directed at the quality of our lives on Earth are Fellowship verses.

Prize verses:
And those that require work and involve eternal rewards are Prize verses.

When you view Scripture from this perspective, all of the apparent contradictions disappear and you no longer have to wonder why God seems to be saying one thing here and something different there. The issue becomes one of correctly identifying the focal point of the particular passage you’re looking at. Determine the context by reading verses around it, and assign it to one of the four categories.

Give Us An Example

Hebrews 6:4-6 is a passage often cited in opposition to Eternal Security. The entire letter is to Jewish believers who are being enticed back into keeping the Law, so the context is New Covenant vs. Old. And in verse 9 the writer hints that he’s been talking about things that accompany salvation. That tells us that verses 4-6 are not related to salvation but things that accompany it. More importantly the idea that a believer could do something to irretrievably lose his salvation is in direct contradiction to the very clear promise that the Holy Spirit is sealed within us from the very first moment of belief until the day of redemption.

So what could these believers be in danger of falling away from due to their sins? Fellowship. And what could prevent them from being restored? The practice of Old Covenant remedies for sin rather than invoking 1 John 1:9. They’d be relegating the death of the Lord to the same status as that of the twice-daily lamb. The Law was only a shadow of the good things to come, not the realities themselves. Once the Reality appeared, the shadow was no longer effective. And what would be their penalty? Living a defeated life, bearing no fruit, all their works burned in the judgment of 1 Cor. 3. But still saved? Yes. Hebrews 6:4-6 is a Fellowship passage.

Suppose There Is No Security?

In closing, let’s look at the alternative. What are we faced with? If Hebrews 6:4-6 for example applies to our salvation then if we ever sin after being saved we’ll be lost forever with no way back, because the Lord would have to be crucified all over again to retrieve us. The New Covenant would be worse than the Old, not better. They were condemned for their actions. According to Matt. 5 we’d be condemned for our thoughts. They couldn’t murder. We couldn’t even be angry. They couldn’t commit adultery. We couldn’t even have a lustful thought. Think of it. No anger, ever. No lust, ever. No envy, ever. No idolatry, ever. No favoritism or discrimination, ever. No impure thoughts or deeds of any kind, ever. Is this the Good News, the incomparable riches of His Grace? Did God become man and die the most painful death ever devised only to put His children into an even more untenable position than before? Are we saved by grace only to be placed under the constraints of an even more severely administered law? I can’t believe so.

Some take a more moderate view of this saying that God would never take back the gift of salvation, but that we can return it. To justify this position they have to put words in the Lord’s mouth. When He says in John 10:28, “No one can snatch them out of my hand,” they have to insert the phrase “but us” after “no one”. Same with Romans 8:38-39.

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. They have to insert the phrase “but us” after “in all creation”.

None of this defense of Eternal Security is intended to condone sin. As an indication of our gratitude for the gift of salvation, believers are continually admonished in Scripture to live our lives in a manner pleasing to God. Not to earn or keep it, but to thank the Lord for giving it to us. And to help us do that, the Holy Spirit has come to dwell in us to guide and direct us, and to pray for us. Since the Spirit of God lives in us we are no longer controlled by the sin nature and can choose to please God by the way we live. And even though we do this out of gratitude for the Gift He’s already given, which is Union with Him, He blesses us both here on Earth (Fellowship) and in Eternity (the Prize). Selah 10-07-06

The Departure

Author’s note: This week, I’m doing something I’ve done only once before during the course of writing for this Nearing Midnight column. I’m repeating a commentary I wrote previously –this one on January 16, 2006.

I am doing so because I believe the Lord impressed upon my spirit that the Departure is so very near, and our minds and spiritual hearts are too often far from that stunning event that can take place at any given second. It’s time to “look up” is the exhortation of the hour.

The Scripture is haunting. It echoes and reverberates throughout the spiritual hallways of the Church with each passing hour.

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”(1 Tim. 4:1).

This forewarning fits into the last-days pattern, also given by the Apostle Paul, in the familiar prophetic passage: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of Perdition…” (2 Thes. 2:3).

The “falling away,” apostasia in Greek, means a “departure from.” Paul prophesied in the 2 Timothy 4:1 passage that there will come a time at the end of the Church Age when people will depart from the “faith.” He foretells in 2 Thessalonians that this will be a general “falling away,” the apostasy of the endtime. What is this “faith” from which people will fall away, and who are the “people” who will fall away? Another crucial question is: Can the departure that God, through Paul, forewarned about be recognized when it occurs?

“Faith,” as here defined, must, by context, be the faith in the One who is at the heart of the Gospel–faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God, chosen from the foundation of the world to be the propitiation for the sin that separates fallen man from God. It is the faith you and I must have in order to confess with our mouths that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, and to believe in the deepest part of our spirits that God raised Him from the dead.

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9).

A person can’t fall from a position (doctrinally speaking in this case) he never has attained. The “people,” then, whom Paul the apostle is writing about in his prophecies of 1 Timothy 4:1 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3 are those who have believed in Jesus Christ for salvation of their souls.

This brings us to the question: Can the departure God, through Paul, forewarned about be recognized when it occurs? To recognize that “falling away”–that apostasia, or apostasy— when it begins to happen, will almost certainly give the Christian attuned to God’s will a heads-up on the nearness of the Tribulation era, thus to the nearness of the rapture of the Church.

We have looked at the “faith” as faith in Jesus for salvation, and at the “people”who will “depart” from the faith as being the Church–that is, the true Christians who are alive at the time of the end, when the apostasy takes place.

Although there are those who think this departure includes the possibility of one losing one’s salvation, the “falling away” of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 cannot include that meaning. A quick look at Romans 8:38 and 39, to name just one security-of-the-believer passage, shows that God’s Word teaches that the believer can’t depart from the Heavenly Father to the point of losing his or her family status. Jesus, in John chapter 17, makes that absolutely clear. I suggest that if you have questions about this, read the Scriptures I just mentioned.

What, then, is meant by “departing from the “faith”? Glad you asked. The “faith” mentioned in 2 Thessalonians and 1 Timothy 2:3 is a collection of faith principles wrapped up in the Lord Jesus Christ. These principles are doctrines put forth by the Word of God. The Word of God is none other than the Lord Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

“People” at the time of the “falling away” will “depart” from the “faith” –the doctrines put forth by the Word of God, who is Jesus Christ. This departure will mark the generation of Christians at the very end of the Church Age.

The question that applies most relevantly to us today is: Are we seeing signals of the departure about which Paul forewarned?

We have analyzed, dissected, examined, and inspected every endtime signal found in God’s Word many times in these raptureready.com webpages: Israel again in the land of promise; the EU looking to be the reviving Roman Empire; Russia, Persia (modern Iran) and other nations looking to be a nucleus that will one day form the Gog-Magog force of Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. These, plus, all of the other endtime characteristics of this generation.

However, I believe the most insidious of all the things taking place under the clever, devious hand of the devil –Satan—is the falling away, the departure from the faith being currently orchestrated by Lucifer, the fallen one.

This departure is evident to the spiritually discerning when looking at the church growth movement. This “seeker friendly” approach to both the saved and the lost (all who don’t know Christ) through New Age, corporation-type seminar seductiveness and brainwashing techniques that water down or completely eliminate true Bible doctrine is leading in a profound departure from the “faith once delivered” (see Jude 1: 3).

The new paradigm instituted by the champions of the church growth movement is the shift from New Testament Christianity to “New Spirituality-Driven Christianity.”

Like in the modern corporate organization, invented in large part by German economic guru Peter Drucker, who mentored some of the leading designers of the church growth movement, the system is more an organism than an organization –adopting Drucker’s model based upon Freudian psychology and Darwinian evolutionary principles. The individual is assigned a value, and he must fit in, or be removed from the system. To put it as I heard one person of the movement say: “Pillars just hold things up. So, they need to be moved out of the way.” So, those who hold to doctrine must get out of the way so no one will have their feelings hurt by talk of sin, and blood atonement, and eternal punishment in the place called Hell, if repentance is not forthcoming. Again, the Apostle Paul wrote God’s view of this watering down of doctrine:

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8).

Are we at the point of departure from the faith that is prophesied for the very end of the Church Age? Maybe we can get a better sense by looking at one more area of Scripture pertaining to the matter: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:1-4).

There is another prophetically scheduled departure to consider. It’s the one we should be looking forward to. It is a God-ordained departure that will remove every child of God of the Church Age –living and dead—from Planet Earth in one millisecond of time:

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:13).

Demonic Divide

Dark, spiritual forces in high places are at work. There is no groundbreaking revelation in that statement regarding life in this nation and the world today. However, the true nature of the demonic delusion being foisted upon us is something even the most biblically mature among us will continue to miss─I’m convinced─if spiritual antennae aren’t properly attuned.

Additionally, it is time, like no other time before, to put on the whole armor as outlined by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:12-18. Even more profound than the political insanity of the lunatic left that splits America, I perceive a most troubling schism developing amongst the brethren. I refer to those who watch –like the Lord commanded (Mark 13: 37) — end-times developments in what many believe are the closing hours of the Church Age.

Reports, leading up to this presidential election, came at us on an increasingly regular basis of behind-the-scenes activities that appeared to be─to say the least─bizarre. I’m talking about things the equivalent of claims/reports of the U.S. Government actually planning and carrying out the assassination of John F. Kennedy,─of George W. Bush’s administration being behind the planning and attack on the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2011.

I’m certain that, over recent years, the reader of this essay has read the many articles of such mind-boggling reports─all written/presented as if they were unassailable truth. These accounts sprang from unseen fly-on-the-wall sources that gave the impression they personally witness the making of plans to imprison believers or to implant us all with computer chips while we sleep, or…whatever the conspiratorial imagination might conjure.

I will already have angered those who send such email with that word-portrait, no doubt. But before my thoughts on your side of the issue raise the blood pressure with words of anger, “I’ll never send him another article,” please hear me out. There is the other side of the developing schism. It, too, is deleterious to the task of being a watchman on the wall in these critical days leading up to our Lord’s catastrophic intervention into the affairs of mankind.

I’m talking about the mindset that writes off as complete lunacy every report issued by the likes of Alex Jones crossing their computer screens. To fold up the antennae of discernment and simply lump all things that don’t slip smoothly through one’s anti-conspiratorial filter, just might, in my view, constitute a deadly delusion in the making.

The rift, I sense developing between the watchmen during these fleeting days of the age is, inflicted by the father of lies, himself. It is all part of the great, spiritual, wrestling match Paul warns about in Ephesians 6:12. The devil likes to pit one side against the other, and it is easy for him to do, if the spiritual armor isn’t the battle gear of choice.

One side of the divide most often sees only collusion of governmental diabolists at every level, thus is, understandably, accused by the secular world and fellow Christian watchmen alike of being: conspiracy kooks.

The devil, it cannot be denied by those with discernment, has made great strides in dividing this nation along many lines. Abraham Lincoln, we remember, once used Jesus’ words to warn that our nation “…divided against itself cannot stand.”

The danger we face in this hour of apparent triumph, with the new presidential administration now in place, is that Christians on each side of the divide, out of apathy, sometimes fail to recognize the ways Satan directs his human minions to plot his end-times mischief.

Paul, mentioned at the beginning of this piece, must have, with his words of Ephesians 6: 12-18, been given his inspired thought particularly to give to this generation so near the return of Jesus Christ. Each Christian should daily put on the whole armor of God. This, obviously, hasn’t happened, and likely won’t happen.

The vast numbers within the body of Christ are turned inward, or in directions other than watching and yearning for the Lord’s coming back to put an end to this evil world-system. If we are honest, we must say that the body of Christ, as a whole today, isn’t even pursuing the Great Commission left to us by Jesus─to carry the gospel to the whole world and to do whatsoever He taught and instructed.

Let’s not wrestle violently, angrily against each other, but combine, with reasoned purpose, against our true foe. Here is how to dress for the battle that will surely grow more intensive by the hour as the Rapture of the church approaches.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:10-18).

 

 

Peace and Security Anxiety

Paul the apostle clearly laid out prophecy concerning the Rapture of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, it is clear to me and a multitude of believers. Paul’s words could not be more precise in letting us know that all who have believed in Christ for salvation will be lifted in one majestic moment of time to be with Christ in the air. This will happen before the Day of the Lord (Tribulation) begins.

However–as human minds often think in contrarian ways–this great truth of the pre-Tribulation Rapture has thereby been muddled. Therefore, in addition to the Pre-Trib Rapture, we have the mid-Trib, post-Trib, partial, and other derivatives of this matter of Rapture–including no Rapture at all.

In consideration of the Rapture, which I and other pre-Trib proponents believe is truth as expressed by Paul, timing is key to understanding how near we might be to that great event. We are, for the most part, convinced the apostle gave a most significant prophetic clue as to world conditions that will be prevalent.

Paul, in his first epistle to the Thessalonians, gave the Rapture prophecy. He, with the next line, wrote the following:

“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3)

We are told through this epistle, then, that there will be a specific lament by the world in general at the time of the event–the Rapture–Paul had just prophesied. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” Thethey” here refers to the lost or unsaved of the generation who are crying “peace and safety.”

We have examined many times in these commentaries the long-running attempts at peace making in the Middle East. The “Roadmap to Peace” is the diplomatic document that has been at the center of this attempt to bring about peace–for the region and for the world.

Throughout the entire process over the years, Israel’s prime ministers, whether Begin, Rabin, Netanyahu, or whomever,  have included in their speeches the desire to assure peace and security for their people. Paul’s prophecy in this 2 Thessalonians account includes Israel and the whole world. All will be calling for peace and safety.

In the case of Israel, anxiety over peace and security has come to a head with the insertion of President Donald Trump into the Jewish state’s dilemma. The dilemma, of course, involves the pressure being exerted on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to a two-state solution. That is, the world diplomatic community demands that the Palestinians be given part of Israel’s land to form a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu is feeling equal and opposite pressure from within his own government. The opposition members of the Knesset insist that such a two-state situation will compromise Israel’s peace and security to  an unacceptable degree.

The Israeli prime minister and the new American president met in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to talk over, among other things, the possible pathway to peace for Israel. Netanyahu endorsed a Palestinian state in a speech in 2009 at Bar-State University.

Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett and Likud activists urged Netanyahu to give up his support for a Palestinian state, in advance of the meeting with Trump. Bennett declared, “The earth will shake”  if Netanyahu and Trump discuss a Palestinian state.

With Trump now the United States president, leaders on the right within the Israeli government are hopeful the prime minister will give up talk of a Palestinian state as part of securing the peace and safety of Israel. Bennett promised in a Facebook post titled “The Test of Netanyahu’s Life” that the Right will support the prime minister if he tells Trump he no longer is in favor of a two-state solution. However, Bennett said it would bring “national nightmare” if Netanyahu continues to support a Palestinian state.

He wrote: “The earth will shake. International pressure, boycotts, reports against Israel, missiles, freezes, tying the hands of our soldiers in the fight against terrorism – all this will continue and intensify.”

He went on to say that he and others of the right in the Israeli political milieu consider the election of Donald Trump an historical opportunity that cannot be missed.

Netanyahu, in the press conference held last Wednesday, in fact, indicated strongly that Israel will accept no Palestinian state. This, he indicated, is because the Palestinian Authority refuses to even officially acknowledge Israel’s existence. Plus, he said with strong emphasis, he will never accept the Palestinian declaration that Israel must be forever removed from the land.

The Israeli prime minister also brought up the terms peace and security a number of times during the press conference held upon his arrival at the White House.

Israel’s call for peace and security and the international community’s cry for peace will be front and center as never before the deeper we move into the Middle Eastern tempest. This is perhaps the most dramatic signal of just how close is the Rapture of the Church.

Israel 2017 and Beyond

Terry James commentary on two important books concerning Israel in these critical days.

“No matter which way news cameras and microphones turn to capture the troubling issues and events of the hour, they will always turn back to Israel and to Jerusalem in particular.”

This is a statement I have made in one form or another in most every book I’ve written. It is as if that most volatile point on the globe is like the magnetic north is to a compass. The needle’s tip can’t resist the tug God’s chosen land presents.

One senses, if attuned spiritually while watching the times around us unfold, that the world is on the precipice of truly prophetic movement. Observers of the American presidential election process of 2016 were for the most part stunned by the election of Donald J. Trump. Shock waves so shattered the polling-predictions and punditry-prognostication that political and social equilibrium continues unrecovered. Our national environment quivers and reels under the anger and anxieties of those who expected a different outcome of the election in which they believe their worldview was unfairly defeated.

There is no doubt—in this writer’s view, at least—that this election turned out as it did, with Trump becoming president because God intervened. I do believe wholeheartedly that 2 Chronicles 7:14 helped bring about the intervention. However, this is not because America is a godly nation or that Mr. Trump is a godly individual. But the dramatic shift in direction the United States is in process of taking, I’m convinced, portends prophetic developments beyond what most believers might consider.

Prophetic movement, I believe, will, from this point forward in 2017, shape America and the world in ways no other generation has experienced. Attention at the moment is concentrated—the cameras are turned—on hatred of the man God has raised up for this hour. There can be scant denial that the forces of globalism, liberalism, and news and entertainment media, D.C. establishment-types and even some corporate entities in America are bent on destroying this presidency.

However, those cameras and microphones are about to turn dramatically back to capture issues and events of far greater import. I believe we are on the cusp of seeing the world truly being shaped for the wind up of the Dispensation of Grace—the Church Age.

Israel is about to again step front and center upon the world stage. This year and beyond will perhaps bring the prophet Zechariah’s foretellings about God’s chosen nation in to focus as never before.

The new president has said he is seriously considering moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This action, alone, will, if it eventuates, likely cause Middle Eastern ramifications we can’t totally foresee.

Mr. Trump’s expected embrace of Israel and its prime minister is exciting to think upon, but troubling in its prospective results.

Next year marks the 70th anniversary of Israel’s rebirth into modernity. Might that year bring the ratcheting up of prophetic stage-setting? —For the Jewish state’s starring role as the Lord brings mankind’s rebellion to a head?

Dr. Thomas Ice, the foremost scholar on matters involving the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view, is a long-time friend and colleague. There is no one, in my opinion, who possesses a more in-depth knowledge of Bible prophecy, particularly as it relates to Israel. If we are to grasp the true meaning of prophetic developments exploding upon the scene day by day, it’s essential that we look intensively at Bible prophecy as given in God’s Word, the Bible.

Again, there is no person of whom I’m aware more qualified to break God’s prophetic Word so that it can be understood in terms of where we stand on His Prophetic Timeline than Dr. Ice.

I’m excited and pleased to be among the first to be given opportunity by his publisher to offer you—in a very special package—a book that is one I’m convinced the Lord is providing at this crucial moment. It is a volume that every believer should read in advance of what is going to be, in all likelihood, tumultuous years ahead for Israel, the Middle East, and for the whole world.

The Case for Zionism: Why Christians Should Support Israel  case-for-zionism-cover

Dr. Ice, like many of us who observe things involving Israel today, is troubled by the way that nation is viewed by a growing number of clergy and others within Christianity. A synopsis of this outstanding work reads as follows in that regard:

“The modern state of Israel has been a nation for almost 70 years. When she was formed, and fought her early wars of existence, most Bible-believing Christians believed there was a real connection with what was going on in the Middle East and Bible prophecy that predicts an end-time return of the Jews to their land. While support for Israel remains high in most evangelical communities, we are seeing the beginning of a decline, especially among younger evangelicals, who question whether modern Israel really relates to end-time Bible prophecy.

The Case for Zionism attempts to bring together biblical, historical, and legal arguments for the legitimacy of the startup nation known as Israel as it:

-Explains controversies such as anti-Semitism and Replacement Theology
-Details the biblical and legal rights of Modern Israel
-Explores the prophetic nature and future of Israel.

“In this presentation, Thomas Ice answers many of the contemporary arguments being used by both secular and religious communities to undermine what he believes is the hand of God at work in our own day.”

Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, in my opinion the foremost scholar on Israel today from the standpoint of Bible prophecy, gives Ice’s book high marks indeed.

Fruchtenbaum, in his foreword, writes of the various forms of anti-Semitism that is more and more becoming manifest at this time. He implies that it is essential for believers to appropriate an understanding of the opposition against Israel.  He writes in conclusion, the following:

“This is exactly where Dr. Ice’s book makes a valuable contribution and shows biblically why all Christians should support Israel.”

New Leaf Press Publishing Group is presenting Dr. Thomas Ice’s book in a very special package—and at a low price—for our Rapture Ready family.

This outstanding book can be purchased by itself, of course. However, the publisher is including in this package the following book about God’s Chosen nation:

Miracle of Israel: The Shocking, Untold Story of God’s Love for His People by Gary Frazier and Jim Fletcher is a book I’ve written about before.miracle-of-israel_1

Both Gary and Jim are great writers who I’m thankful to call friends. Jim, a superb investigative journalist, and editor, of course, writes our weekly column on Israel, about which I receive compliments over and over.

Gary is one of the most knowledgeable Bible teachers, lecturers, and frequently interviewed experts on Bible prophecy. Together, he and Jim have produced a book that should be in every home library. Israel, as Dr. Fruchtenbaum wrote above, should be thoroughly understood by Christians today. This book, in tandem with Dr. Thomas Ice’s book, will go a long way toward providing the depth of understanding needed as we face these next years that are bound to be fraught with prophetic stage-setting realities.

Authors Frazier and Fletcher invite the reader to join in watching God’s hand as He directs these closing years of the age.

“This is a book about miracles of history that affect each and every one of us, whether we recognize them or not. We will ponder how the Creator God has and is working in the history of His world. In the end, we will see that God has done and will do exactly as He promised as recorded in Isaiah 46:9–10, where He states:

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done. saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.

“The Creator God had a plan from the very beginning, and if we look for His hand in world history, both past and present, we can be certain of His hand in the future.”

These are two truly outstanding books that can help immensely in your study of Bible prophecy. I highly recommend this special offering of two great volumes in one package at a great price.

Another thing to consider is that Rapture Ready will receive a part of the price of the book offer, meaning you will help contribute to funding the site by buying the package.

As you know, we have had the site completely reworked to bring it into the age of the highly-advanced devices now available. This will give Rapture Ready an even greater reach for our Lord’s great cause. The work on the site wasn’t without considerable cost. We will appreciate any funding help, as always.

From now until March 31, you can take advantage of a very special offer. You can purchase this two-book pack: The Case for Zionism by Thomas Ice and Miracle of Israel by Jim Fletcher & Gary Frazier for only $20 (this includes free shipping). Follow this link to order—> http://www.nlpg.com/the-case-for-zionism-info.

Tribulation Temple Talk

Just beneath the boiling surface of seething hostility there can be sensed a moving and shaking. Talk of the building of a Jewish temple atop the Temple Mount is beginning to escape into the back-channel atmospherics of the Mid-East misery. How can such not be the case? Every direction the student of Bible prophecy looks, stage setting for the final act of this quickly decaying age is already on the scene.

God’s land is being further divided (Joel 3:2), which portends God’s bringing all nations into the Valley of Jehoshaphat─to Armageddon. The Roadmap to Peace is being dusted-off and reintroduced as the blueprint for peace and safety for not only Israel and its blood-vowed enemies, but for the whole world, as insulation against the initiation of World War III.

The European Union (EU) is in turmoil. It is turmoil, however, that seems to have a smelting effect, preparing the iron of the legs, feet and toes of Daniel’s interpretation for Nebuchadnezzar — into their end of the age configuration. Technological wizardry of every description has made possible the bringing together of all peoples of planet Earth into one world─the New World Order, so desired by the globalist powers that be.

The economic upheaval experienced by most every nation cries out for a master manipulator that will institute an electronic funds transfer system in order to bring stability and order to the financial distress and perplexity that bedevils presidents, potentates and dictators. Such a man can’t be too far into the shadows of emerging world togetherness.

On the forefront of religious change is the call for a melding of every form of pathways to Heaven. The pope and Islamist Imams seem to be forging a synthesis of sorts in discovering many ways to God, a thing unheard of until very recently. Protestant America in large part seems not oppose the feelers crawling toward their forms of Christianity. So-called Chrislam is appealing to them, and ecumenism beckons with allurement at many levels.

So, with all of this and much more going on, the talk of the building of a Jewish temple should surprise none of us. It is a key ingredient in the coming Tribulation mixture within God’s cup of wrath. The talk of late on the possibility of a Jewish temple in the making revolves these days around the words of a Jewish Rabbi.

The Nascent Sanhedrin is calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin and US president-elect Donald Trump to join forces and fulfill their Biblically-mandated roles by rebuilding the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Hillel Weiss, spokesman for the Sanhedrin, contacted Breaking Israel News to announce that the election of Trump, who has promised to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, coupled with Putin’s expressed desire for the Temple to be rebuilt, prompted the Jewish court to send a letter offering the two the opportunity to act as modern-day Cyrus figures: non-Jewish kings who recognize the importance of Israel and the Temple… (BIN EXCLUSIVE: Sanhedrin Asks Putin and Trump to Build Third Temple in Jerusalem, Breaking Israel News, https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/78372/bin-exclusive-sanhedrin-asks-putin-trump-build-third-temple-jerusalem/#dGX8XEZip3ChWz9l.97

This train of thought, of course, conforms to the long-held opinions of some within the universe of those who observe matters involving plans to build a Temple on Mount Moriah. Bible prophecy foretells, through the vision given John, God’s Hand on the Tribulation temple. “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (Revelation 11:1-2).

The prophecy indicates, according to those with this view that:

  1. During the Tribulation era there will definitely be a temple sitting where Solomon’s Temple sat.
  1. There is more than enough room surrounding where the temple must reside for the Muslim shrines to sit.

There is a ton of chatter going on about all of this within the Bible prophecy community. Many voices within this blogosphere hold that those Muslims who seem to be letting it slip (that Israel’s Arab-Islamist enemies might be willing to talk about accommodation of a Jewish Temple) must never be trusted. It is all being done for some surreptitious evil known only to the Imams and to the master architect of their evil blueprint─Satan.

The very fact that there is talk coming from Israel’s enemies about the heretofore, unthinkable possibility of allowing a temple on Mount Moriah is significant, I think. A phony─and deadly─peace is at the center of Satan’s blueprint for usurping the throne of God on earth. We can know this from Daniel’s account of the covenant Antichrist will confirm, assuring peace for seven years (Daniel 9:26-27). Also, Isaiah the prophet says so, (Isaiah 28:15, 18).

Satan intends to place his “messiah” right on the spot where the Holy of Holies sat, where the Ark of the Covenant resided within the Temple of Solomon’s day. So, I believe it is reasonable to look for the possibility of a rebuilt temple to become increasingly, front and center in news and blog-chatter as the age draws to a close.

Trump and God’s Purpose

Mention has been made many times through opinion that goes something like this: Trump isn’t a godly person, yet neither was Nebuchadnezzar and other kings and leaders the Lord chose down through the centuries to do great things–to serve great purposes. So, God can use Donald Trump to accomplish what the Lord wants accomplished.

Considering the 180-degree course change this nation has embarked upon in this presidential election, it is, I believe, an understatement to say that God must be up to something big with the election of Donald J. Trump–that is, to something profound.

The abrupt turning away from advocating for the homosexual agenda and other forms of aberrant behavior, and toward championing protection of moral values and Judeo-Christian principles upon which the nation was founded, is amazing to say the least. No one would have imagined strongly, during the early days of the just past election season, that the Christian faith would so soon come under the protective hand of a presidential administration. Especially this was unthinkable because the previous administration adamantly embraced the Muslim faith in ways that baffled those not a part of the extreme political left.

That political left just mentioned has been completely driven to acting in maniacal ways by the Donald Trump victory. It is astounding that the fever-pitch of the enragement continues to build with each succeeding day Trump is in office.

Psychiatrists and psychologists who study mass hysteria conclude for the most part that such a level of rage is impossible to maintain over an extensive period of time. Yet we daily observe the opposite. The absolute furious, even lunatic, behavior continues and even grows over anything and everything that involves President Donald Trump.

Anyone who demonstrates the slightest support for this president has the political hounds of the netherworld descend upon their lives. It is astounding to witness. And, as often as not, it is somewhat amusing, so long as the insane rants are kept to the verbal and not the physical level such as the violence that took place in Berkley and surrounding other universities. The corporate world is infected and affected by the lunacy. CEOs, such as that of Starbucks, for example, climb eagerly onto the anti-Trump hate-wagon at the risk of alienating half their customer base or clientele. Amidst all the silliness, clothing designers refuse to design the new first lady’s clothing. The fashions produced by the president’s daughter are ripped from the fashion lines of clothiers.

In the halls of government, we have the likes of Democrat Senator Charles Schumer weeping on the Senate floor. He tells sobbingly how it breaks his heart that the few people are detained at the airports because of President Trump’s temporary ban of people coming in from the seven nations Schumer’s own Democrat President Obama put on the banned list several years ago. The senator, himself, wholeheartedly backed the banning of such entrants into America under Obama’s executive order.

We watch the Democrat committee members throw temper tantrums, refusing to attend the cabinet committee hearings and undertake other childish actions to hold up proceedings.

We listened to the attempted grilling of New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady about why he was friend to President Trump. They ignored relevant football questions in anticipation of the upcoming Super Bowl and went for the jugular in order to, hopefully, score hate-filled political points, in my view.

But, all this theater, both entertaining and troubling to the process of our representative democracy–our republic– pales in comparison to the intrigues to be analyzed on the international level.

The new president’s breathtaking movement toward fulfilling campaign promises makes clear in my own thinking that the Lord of Heaven put Trump in place for developments that are going to stagger the world. Prophetic fulfillment –rather, preparation for the fulfillment of Bible prophecy– is, of course, much more significant than the just mentioned fulfillment of campaign promises.

We can, if attuned to God’s Word on the wind-up of the age, see things developing that, as I said, will stagger the world.

One example is the fact that the enemies of Israel who had curried favor with the Obama administration are dumbfounded that their position relative to having the favorable attention of the U.S. president has drastically and abruptly changed.

Speaking to Newsweek last week, Saeb Erekat, go-between for PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas in dealing with both Israel and the U.S. found a totally different relationship is now in effect.

Indicating the PLO is almost in panic, he said, “I don’t know any of them [Trump’s advisers]. We have sent them letters, written messages. They don’t even bother to respond to us.”

Trump is at the same time apparently considering movement of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem –a thing that many say will cause an immediate Islamist uprising. The president, additionally, has installed a thoroughly pro-Israel ambassador within the U.N. and has reached out warmly to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Third only to the change in attitude toward Christianity and return to constitutional sanity and the 180 degree turn around on treatment of Israel, are the actions President Trump is undertaking toward restoring America as leader of the free world.

Trump’s geopolitical and fiscal aggressiveness thus far shown is affecting global alliances militarily. The new president’s actions are having profound effects on the world economy.

My own thinking on all of this causes wonder over whether we might be seeing a specific stage-setting given by Jesus, Himself.  Again, that prophecy is found in Matthew 24: 36-42 and Luke 17: 26-30. The question: Are we on the verge of witnessing an economic boom, in the midst of which the Rapture of the Church will occur?

Something big is up. One can sense it in one’s spiritual bones. God has Trump here and at this time for some great purpose.

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