Decision Time for the Church about the LGBT Controversy

It is time for the Church to either stand with the Word of God or be swept along by the flow of apostate culture. Pastors and theologians are finding it necessary to make a choice on the issue of gay marriage.

On one side of the debate, Rob Bell, a supposedly evangelical pastor who decided a few years ago that hell is not real, appeared recently on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday show to proclaim that the American Church is just “moments away” from supporting “gay marriage.” He said that the transformation is “inevitable.”

Bell made it clear that he thinks the Bible is no longer relevant. He said, “I think culture is already there and the Church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense.” (Rob Bell stands with Oprah: Rewrites Bible on marriage – OneNewsNow)

On the other side of the issue, Kevin Mannoia, Chairman of the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium, recently presented a position paper at a major gathering of pastors, titled “Gracefully Engaging the LGBT Conversation.” It is a scholarly, loving approach to the subject. It affirms the priority of the Bible and its clear teaching about homosexuality. The document affirms that homosexual behavior is a sin, and like all other sins, it leads to brokenness. Salvation and restoration is available to all through Jesus Christ. Mannoia wrote:

“We celebrate the humble appropriation of God’s grace to a broken condition such that God’s image is being restored – albeit with the sure moments of failure and stumbling, but with evidence that it is truly by God’s grace that we are made whole, not by redefining wholeness.”

Unfortunately there are many Christian pastors and leaders who do not have the courage to take a stand. As with other controversial issues of the day, they are strangely silent. It is time for all of us who are Christian teachers to share what God’s Word has to say about this matter in a loving, Christ-like way.

See also: Homosexuality and the Bible

Posted in Apologetics, Apostasy, Church, Hell | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Islamic Terrorism Should Not Be Compared To The Crusades

churchinprophecyAt the National Prayer Breakfast President Obama acknowledged that the current tide of extremism was being done in the name of religion. Then he said,

“And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

He also said that in our own country, slavery and Jim Crow was often justified in the name of Christ. (The Blaze)

However, the Crusades were an attempt to regain possession of the Holy Land which had been brutally conquered by Muslim invaders, along with most of the rest of the Middle East. And the Inquisitions, which were admittedly totally wrong, were conducted by the Catholic Church when they were at their lowest ebb spiritually. Their practices during this phase of history were not compatible with the biblical view of Christianity, and they led to the Reformation–a return to true Christian faith.

To help us understand this issue, here is an excerpt from our book The Church in Prophecy and History: Revelation Commentary – Chapters 1 – 3 , pp.. 149-153.

The Crusades

The history of the church during the next several centuries revolved around a series of holy wars, known as the Crusades. The major crusades, from AD 1096 to 1291 were a response to the Muslim conquests, and especially to their occupation of Jerusalem, persecution of Christian pilgrims, and destruction of Christian holy sites. The papacy was strong at that time, after a period of reforms, and it convinced European governments to send their knights and all who would volunteer to fight to regain Jerusalem. The name “crusade” was derived from the red cloth crux (Latin for “cross”) given to the volunteers by the Pope or one of his representatives.

Of the first eight or nine major crusades, only the first was successful in capturing Jerusalem, and that victory was short-lived. There is no general agreement by historians and theologians that the Crusades were either morally good or bad, or more importantly, whether or not they were the will of God. In fairness, the editor of Christianity Today wrote:

But the crusaders were real Christians. They deplored their sins. They longed for forgiveness. They loved fellow Christians in the East. They yearned to do something noble and lasting for their Lord. They prayed and fasted before battles and praised God after victories. Their devotion and courage make ours look juvenile.[i]

On the “good” side of the question, it did seem right to most Christians to deliver Jerusalem from the Muslims, and to stop their rapid conquest of Christian territories. There was also extensive Old Testament precedent for defending oneself and for fighting against evil powers if directed by God. On the last evening with His disciples, Jesus did tell them to purchase a sword (Luke 22:36), however, it wasn’t His will for Peter to use the sword when Jesus was surrendering Himself for His sacrificial death (Luke 22:49-51; John 18:10-11).

On the “bad” side of the crusade issue, nothing Jesus taught could validate the use of force to establish the Kingdom of Heaven. He said, if His kingdom was of this world, then His servants would fight (John 18:36). But His kingdom will not be established on earth until He returns as King of Kings, and when that happens He will do all the necessary fighting (Rev. 19:11-16; 20:1-6).

Some might doubt that God was directing the crusades since only the first one was successful, and the victory only lasted for a short time. On the other hand, it can be argued that they stemmed the tide of Islamic conquests, which otherwise might have overrun all of Europe.

There were great mistakes made during the crusades, and unholy actions that have been used to discredit Christianity. Some examples of this were the unnecessary killing of Muslim civilians, the slaughter of Jews in many places, and the growth of a culture of literally hundreds of “holy wars” for some 700 years.

The Knights Templar grew out of the Crusades. They were originally a brave and skillful asset to the wars, but with the passing of time, they developed the prototype of the modern banking system and became what some have called the “first multinational corporation.” Their secret initiations made them suspect to church and government powers. In 1312 they were disbanded after many of their members were accused, perhaps falsely, of secrecy, apostasy, heresy, and many other charges, but since torture was used to extract their confessions, it has always been unknown whether or not the charges were true. Freemasonry adopted the titles, symbols and rituals of the Knights Templar in the 18th Century.

On the other hand, the Crusades helped St. Thomas Aquinas develop the “Just War” theory in his Summa Theologica to answer the question of when it is right to respond defensively.

The Inquisition

Now we must consider the Inquisition–a series of religious trials that were conducted over the course of hundreds of years to determine the guilt or innocence of people suspected to be heretics. Heretics are people whose beliefs differ from approved teaching of the church. The word “heretic” comes from the Greek hairesis (“faction” “sect,” “division”). It is found in various forms in the New Testament 139 times. Here are two examples:

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. – 2 Peter 2:1

Reject a divisive man [heretic] after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.– Titus 3:10-11

In fact, even from the time of the Apostolic Church, heresies had been identified and dealt with, but the punishment was simply excommunication from the church, certainly not imprisonment or death (Matthew 13:24-30; Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 51-8; Galatians 1:6-9; 1 Timothy 1:20; Titus 3:10; ). When the Samaritans rebuffed the disciples, they asked Jesus,

“Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village. – Luke 9:54-56

As the church/state system progressed, there was no acceptable way for people to disagree with the teaching of the church. Some of the suspected heretics held strange, unbiblical ideas, but others, like the Reformers, were trying to be more biblical in their teaching. In either case the dissidents were questioned, tried, and, if found guilty according to the interpretations of the church at that time, punished. The church would pass judgment, but if the accused did not repent, the state would administer the temporal punishment. This was usually burning at the stake.

The Council of Toulouse in 1229 established a special ecclesiastical court called the Inquisition (from the Latin inquisitio, meaning “inquiry”). There had been such trials, going back to 1163 or earlier, against the Albigenses (also-called Cathari, from the Greek katharos, “pure”). The Albigenses believed in dualism, the concept that the good power created the invisible and spiritual universe, while the evil power created the material world. Those found guilty were burned at the stake.

The extent of torture and executions increased greatly during the Spanish Inquisition beginning in 1481 and lasting until 1834. Confessions were extracted by the use of torture. There were many methods for this, but three of the most frequently used were (1) suspending the suspect with a series of lifts and drops that would often dislocate their arms and legs; (2) pouring water into their mouths to give the impression of drowning, and (3) stretching them on mechanical racks.[ii]

In our commentary on the next church (Sardis), we will see that the Catholic Church also persecuted the Reformers with this system. However, the Reformers made the same terrible mistake by persecuting Catholics and members of later church factions, like the Anabaptists. We will comment on this when we consider Revelation 3:1-2.

How many were killed? Estimates vary widely depending on the perspective of the “historians” who tell the story.  Some Catholic writers say the death toll was only in the hundreds, while avowed anti-Catholics claim that millions were put to death.

In balance, we recommend the thoughts of Chris Armstrong, managing editor of Christian History Magazine in his 2008 article about “Christian Terrorism:”

Christians have far more often suffered than perpetrated terror. This does not excuse those who in the past have named Christ’s name but broken God’s Fifth Commandment. But it does put the lie to the skeptic’s image of a church characterized throughout its history by brutal oppression and violence.[iii]

[i] Mark Galli, “The Crusades: From the Editor – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, Christianity Today, 10/1/93.

[ii] Accessed April 10, 2014, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition#Torture.

[iii] Accessed February 11, 2014, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2003/jun13.html.

Posted in Church, Church History, Islam, Middle East War, Revelation, Syria, The Church in Prophecy and History: Revelation Commentary Chapters 1-3, Wars | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Obama’s Morality

I hate to say anything negative about the President of the United States. I respect the office, and have always tried to give any president the benefit of the doubt when I disagreed with him. After all, he must know much more about world affairs and politics than I do. He has the world’s hardest job. And, of course, the Bible tells me to pray for those who are in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

In President Obama’s case, I couldn’t vote for someone with socialist ideals, but I was proud of the fact that we, at last, had elected our first African-American president. At the beginning of his presidency I set up a series of webpages on Prophecy Central called “Obama Watch.” For some time we followed his progress, looking for answers for such questions as, “Is it God’s will for Barack Obama to be President?,” “What kind of appointments will he make?,” “How will he deal with terrorism?” “How will he treat Israel?” and “What effect will he have on moral issues like abortion and marriage?”

We were hopeful then, but as time went on it became clear to many of us that He is opposed to too many of our biblical values, and is not able or willing to stand strong enough against terrorism and persecution of Christians. Nor is he willing to really support the well-being of Israel.

Our nation has responded by electing a conservative Congress. Some people hope the president will be a “lame duck” for his last two years, but there is valid concern that he will just become more dictatorial than ever, and weaken the nation and the world in the process.

I just have one small voice, but I don’t want my grandchildren to look back at the ruinous events of this time in history and have to ask, “Why didn’t our grandparents speak up when it might have made a difference?”

We still maintain a topic page on President Obama and moral issues. We still pray for him, and promise to do so more diligently. Most of all, we are praying for a spiritual revival in America for the sake of our young people. Wouldn’t it be great if the President would have a change of heart, and be part of such an awakening? With God all things are possible!

Obama Watch: What effect does Barack Obama have on moral issues?

 

Posted in Elections, Islam, Israel, Middle East War, Persecution, Prayer, United States of America, Youth | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Your Word-by-Word Commentary of Revelation

Rejoicing in RevelationWe have reached a milestone in our labor of love to bring you a detailed commentary of the matchless Book of Revelation! A year ago we finished the first three chapters, covering the fascinating prophecy about the history of the Church Age. Now we have completed Chapters Four and Five: an amazing vision of the End Times drama from the perspective of God’s throne room. It prepares us to trust our infinitely-wonderful triune God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—as the dreaded Tribulation period begins—right after the Rapture of the Church.

Each portion of the work is posted—once every few days—on the Prophecy Central site, where you can read the current segment in a devotional way, or use the online Table of Contents to find the exact verses you are studying at any time.

We have also published the first three chapters as a book, available in printed or digital format from Amazon.com. This first volume is titled The Church in Prophecy and History: Revelation Commentary Chapters 1-3 (328 pages).

Chapters Four and Five will be part of the next volume, which we will hopefully publish next year. In the meanwhile, all of the segments are available to you now when you visit the “Rejoicing in Revelation” section on Prophecy Central.

Now we are eager to begin a word-by-word treatment of what is coming in the Tribulation Period, starting in Revelation Six. It starts with the opening of the first four seals—known as the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

Rejoicing in Revelation

Contents of the Commentary

Book: The Church in Prophecy and History:

Revelation Commentary Chapters 1-3

Prophecy Central

Posted in Antichrist, Apostasy, Beast, Bible, Church, Church History, Commentary, Eschatology, Evangelism, Fearful Events, Rapture, Revelation, Revival | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review of Joel Rosenberg’s “The Third Target”

thirdtargetJoel Rosenberg doesn’t disappoint his eager fans with his latest intense and ever-so-current story of shocking events that could happen any day now. At the heart of the story the Islamic State, or ISIS, is shown to be a monstrosity that we could scarcely have imagined a few months ago.

This skillful story provides amazing insight into the world of intelligence and political intrigue. Best of all, it draws on Rosenberg’s keen understanding of End Times Bible prophecy. He introduces a new heroic figure—J. B. Collins, an award-winning foreign correspondent, who finds himself neck-deep in dreadful physical and spiritual conflict.

You will want to read it soon because most of Rosenberg’s plots morph quickly from fiction to reality. Much of the action takes place in Jordan, the Arab Hashemite Kingdom just east of Israel. The story’s insights into the historical and prophetic importance of Jordan made me decide to add a new section to Prophecy Central about this unique constitutional monarchy.

Read this review, “Wake Up, It’s War” by Quin Hillyer in the National Review.

 

Posted in Eschatology, Islam, Israel, Middle East War, Peace, United States of America, Wars | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Understanding the Future

An excerpt from our book, The Church in Prophecy and History, pp.183-186 

CaptureOne of the worst mistakes of the Reformers was the failure of most of them to correct the erroneous interpretation of Bible prophecies that had developed during the Middle Ages about Israel, the Second Coming of Christ and the other aspects of the future that were given by the Old Testament prophets, the Lord Jesus Himself, the apostles, and the Book of Revelation.

As we mentioned above, the best guiding principle of the Reformation was expressed by the concept called Sola Scriptura, meaning “only Scripture,” or “by Scripture alone.” This was understood to mean that the Bible is the only inspired—and therefore the most authoritative–source of truth. There is value in exposition (explanation) of the Word, as is done in preaching, and in the writing of theological books, commentaries, and devotional literature, but all of these are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written Word of God.

Jesus, the “living Word” (John 1:1, 14), declared Himself to be “the way, the truth, and the life,” (John 14:5), but even this great fact is revealed by the “written Word,” The Bible:

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. – John 17:17

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. – Matthew 24:35

The Reformers meant well, but there were just so many misunderstandings about the plain teaching of the Bible that it was virtually impossible to correct everything at once. Therefore eschatology (the study of “last things”–from the Greek word eschatos) was not revised, and was made even more confusing during the Reformation period.

Near the beginning of this commentary (Chapter 1, verse 10) we discussed various ways that people have interpreted Bible prophecy through the years.

The main question about the prophecies of the Bible is whether or not they will be fulfilled literally. This is especially true about the many places in the New Testament where we are told that Jesus is returning and that His coming could take place at any time.

The Early Church interpreted these passages literally, and lived in the anticipation of Christ’s any-moment return. Knowing this had a purifying and motivating effect on believers. They wanted to be living holy lives when Jesus would return. And, if He might return at any time, there was always an urgency to share the Gospel with those who had not yet received Him as Savior and Lord:

Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God. . . – 2 Peter 3:11-12a.

The other kind of interpretation is the allegorical method. An allegory is a story that is meant to teach a moral lesson. Of course the Bible does contain allegories and many other kinds of symbolic language, but the literal approach to interpretation accepts the idea that once the figure of speech is understood; there is a literal fulfillment for any prophetic utterance.  This allegorical approach does not look for a future historical event, but is satisfied with the idea that the story teaches a general moral principle. From this point of view, the promises to Israel might be mistakenly transferred to the church, and the numerous Bible promises of a glorious messianic kingdom and a literal thousand-year reign of Christ can be wrongly interpreted as a gradual transformation of the culture from a pagan civilization to a Christian kingdom.

Now we need to look at the predominant beliefs about the future over the course of history.

  • Early Church Eschatology

The first three of the churches in this prophecy would all be part of the Early Church. They were: Ephesus (Apostolic), Smyrna (Persecution), and Pergamum (Compromise). These churches took the simple, biblical “futurist” method of interpretation, which resulted in a “premillennial” view of eschatology.  These are pretty technical expressions, so let us break these terms down a little bit.

The “futurist” interpretation accepts what the Bible says about future events literally.

The “premillennial” eschatology was built on this literal futurist approach. It was the belief that Jesus will return to Earth to reign for a thousand years. The Early Christians expected that, at any time, Christ might “catch up” His church at the Rapture (John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 4:1).  Then, after the Tribulation period (Jeremiah 30:1-7; Daniel 11:20-45; Ezekiel Chapters 38 and 39; Matthew 24:9-28; Revelation Chapters 6 through 19), they believed that Jesus will return to establish the Messianic Kingdom that Isaiah and most of the Old Testament prophets promised extensively in the Old Testament. According to this Book of Revelation, the Kingdom will be a thousand-year reign of righteousness over a peaceful and prosperous world (Matthew 24:29-32; Revelation 20:1-8). After the millennium there will be a judgment of non-believers (Revelation 20:11-15). This will be followed by the creation of a New Heaven and New Earth (Revelation Chapters 21 and 22).

  • Catholic Eschatology

The Catholic Church is defined by the fourth church of this prophecy: Thyatira (Middle Ages). The leaders of the church felt that they were establishing the Kingdom of Heaven. They employed the historicist (allegorical) method of interpretation, believing that the events in their generations were gradually fulfilling the prophecies.

Since the theologians of the Middle Ages thought that they were building the kingdom they didn’t feel a need for a literal thousand-year reign of Christ in the future. Using the allegorical method of interpretation, they taught that the Old Testament prophecies of a messianic millennium referred to the kingdom they were creating themselves, that would last forever. They believed that Jesus would come back to reign once they had finished preparing for His return. And from their point of view, Israel had been replaced by the church, so they did not look for literal fulfillments of the Old Testament promises. Therefore their eschatology (teaching about “last things” or the end time) was “amillennial.”

For a Catholic explanation of their view of the End Times, see: Are We Living in the Last Days?

  • Reformation Eschatology 

The Reformation is represented by Sardis, the fifth church of this prophecy. As we noted above, it failed to live up to its own standard of “Scripture only,” and continued to hold the amillennial view of the future which they thought would result in a godly church/state union to which Christ could eventually return as King.

John Calvin did introduce a variation to the eschatology the Reformers had inherited from the Catholic Church. He called it “Covenant Theology.” This viewpoint considers all of history as the development of three overarching theological covenants–the covenants of redemption, of works, and of grace. In their system, the covenants include the return of Christ, resurrection of the dead, and the Great White Throne Judgment, but no literal 1000 year Millennium.

It was common for the Reformers to consider the Catholic Church, with its church/state alliances,  the evil last world empire of the Book of Revelation, and to claim that the Pope was the Antichrist.

A completely new view of the future was invented during the Reformation period by the Jesuits, a new Catholic order that we will explore next. It was called Preterism (from the Latin praeter–meaning “past.”) Versions of this theory relate most, or even all, of the Book of Revelation to the events of the 1st Century, revolving around the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and/or the persecutions of the Roman Empire. It was presented as an alternative to the growing belief that the Pope was Antichrist. Preterism was later adopted by some Protestants.

  • Later Developments in Eschatology

When we study the next church [Philadelphia] in Revelation 3 we will see that there was a strong return to the literal interpretation of prophecy, resulting in a renewed interest in the Rapture of the church and the development of end time events. It was also a boon to evangelism and the missionary movement.

Posted in Antichrist, Church, Church History, Eschatology, Rapture, The Church in Prophecy and History: Revelation Commentary Chapters 1-3 | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Look for the Good in Every Situation!

cornucopiaFinally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. – Philippians 4:8

Unfortunately, most of the headlines here at Prophecy Central are negative. That is inevitable since our purpose is to track the progress toward God’s ultimate plans for the earth. Those plans are clearly revealed in Bible prophecies that certainly appear to be coming to pass right before our eyes.

The wonderful reality about God’s revealed plans is that Jesus Christ is coming back to earth to establish His Kingdom. He will rule in righteousness over an indescribably fabulous age. The problem is that before He returns as King of Kings, the Earth must go through a dreadful period of disasters known as “The Tribulation” (Matthew 24:9-28).  And Jesus, who taught us about these coming trials, said there would even be big problems in the generation leading up to the Tribulation. He called this period of time, “The beginning of sorrows [birth pains]” (Matthew 24:4-8). This could very well be a reference to our own troubled times.

Looking for the good in every situation is not a denial of reality. It is the proper way for a Child of God to respond to the serious problems we face. (Be sure you are a born-again member of God’s family.)

Every shock, and every new installment of bad news, should cause us to consciously focus our attention on what God is allowing or doing in human history. Things that look bad have a divine purpose (Romans 8:28). And God has given us supernatural resources to employ at times like these. He has promised that believers will have supernatural wisdom (James 1:4), the peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:6-7), His own love flowing through them (Romans 5:5-8; 1 John 4:19), joy and the other qualities listed as the “Fruit of the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Finding the good in whatever is happening is not just positive thinking or self-help religion. We can recognize what is bad in this sinful world, but by faith, we should remember that God is good, and He is in control.

 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

This is the Thanksgiving season. It would be a great time for each of us to see every personal or world-wide problem in the light of this command to look for the truth and goodness that can result from everything that happens.

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Toward a One-World Religion

Prophecy scholars expect two major movements during the future Tribulation Period: the formation of a Global Government and the emergence of a One-World Religion. Revelation 17 illustrates how the two powers – one political and one religious – will unite in the end times.

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”

So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written:

MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.

But the angel said to me, “Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

“Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. 10 There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. 11 The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.

12 “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. 13 These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

15 Then he said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. 16 And the ten horns which you saw of the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. 18 And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.” – Revelation 17:1-18

The next two chapters (Revelation 18 and 19) give additional insight to how these universal powers will unite to form one final evil world empire before the return of Christ as King of Kings.

This scenario raises several questions. The most obvious one is, “Could our fractured world ever have a global government, much less a universal religion?”

The madness that is tearing our world apart right now is driven by conflicting political world-views resulting from opposing religious beliefs. Historians and politicians have always pointed to religious differences as one of the major causes of war. But how can this problem be corrected?

The present horrific world conditions would be a perfect setting for the rise of a seemingly benevolent dictator. Such an influential, charismatic person, with the right ideas for peace and prosperity and the right opportunity to rise to political power, would gradually assume more and more acceptance as he helped the world economy and negotiated peace.

A vital aspect of peace-making would be the difficult process of producing some level of religious unity.

Strong, brilliant leadership would be required by a person or group that could bring religious beliefs together. Many religions might be willing to compromise their beliefs a little in order to establish a universal belief system, possibly under the banner of new age inclusivism.

The two religious groups that would be most resistive to the idea of a united religion would be evangelical Christians and Muslims.

In the Christian world, those who have adopted liberal theological views, and do not take the Bible literally, would have no problem compromising their beliefs. Pope Francis is already leading the Roman Catholic Church further into liberalism. Most old mainline Protestant denominations have decided to teach their people what their itching ears want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3). However, Evangelical Christians would not be willing to give up their Bible-based views. According to the God’s Word, this impediment to a world religion will be removed just before the final evil world-ruler arises as the rider on a white horse (Revelation 6:1-2).  How will it be removed? Bible-believing Christians, who have placed their faith in Christ, will be taken from the Earth at the Rapture of the Church (Revelation 4:1; John 14:1-6; I Thessalonians 4:13-5:6; 1 Corinthians 15:50-55; Revelation 3:10; 4:1 etc. – See our Rapture section).

But what about the Muslims? If Radical Islamists begin to loose the fight to establish a caliphate, and are opposed by enough fire-power from the many nations they threaten, they may be forced to invoke the provisions of their religion that allow them to make temporary peace treaties with their enemies when they must do so to survive, or to conceal their true beliefs when in danger. This concept is called taqiyya, meaning “caution” or “concealment.” This is what the majority of Muslims do when they live in a society that does not condone the harsh provisions of sharia law.

Everything considered, our current world condition may be ripe for the emergence of a global government, assisted by a universal religion.

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Muslims Have Dreams and Visions of Jesus

dreamsIt comes as a shock to many Christians to hear that Muslims, in places where they cannot be reached by missionaries, are sometimes experiencing dreams or visions of Jesus. I was surprised myself when I first heard it several years ago at a “Defending the Faith” conference we hosted at our church.  Dr. J.P. Moreland, the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, and  Biola University in La Mirada, California mentioned this phenomenon in his message. I questioned him afterward, and he said he had actually received several credible reports that Jesus was appearing to some Muslims.

I was a little skeptical at first, but I respect Dr. Moreland, so I started checking it out. Some theologians claim that the Gospel must come from a human messenger. They cite Paul’s writings in Romans:

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” – Romans 10:14-15

However, Paul himself was converted by a vision of Jesus (Acts 9), and Cornelius was convinced in a vision to invite Peter (who had a corresponding vision) to give him the Gospel (Acts 10).

We have included a section in our extensive “Islam Links” on Prophecy Central about this growing phenomenon. You will find that this is a serious topic on Google and YouTube.

Posted in Apologetics, Evangelism, Islam, Missions, Revival | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apple Pay and the Mark of the Beast

iphone6Maybe it is just a coincidence that Apple’s first computer, the Apple I was priced at $666. And maybe it was just a coincidence that their logo was an apple with a bite taken out of it. Knowing what we do about the company’s founders, it was probably just a little touch of mischief, based on the ideas already circulating in the ‘60’s that computers would someday make it possible for the Antichrist to become an economic dictator of the world.

Now, nearly 40 years later, Apple has done it again with the introduction of Apple Pay on its new iPhone 6. Offering a leap forward in convenience and security, an iPhone user can pay for purchases with the touch of a button, and be protected against identity theft by placing his or her fingerprint on the screen of the phone. Applications on other smart phones can make similar transactions, but without quite the simplicity, and security.

I have never thought that Apple Computer was evil. It changed the world with revolutionary new technologies, and technology is never intrinsically good or bad. It always has the potential to be either a blessing or a curse, depending on its use. In fact I admired Apple, and was even involved in creating some of its early software.

In recent years I have spoken often on the subject, “Technology and the Mark of the Beast.” It has been fascinating to watch our wildest projections become reality so that computers are unbelievably powerful, and, thanks to the Internet, amazingly connected to each other. Our smartphones are proof of this.

Forty years ago we could barely dream how this prophecy would be fulfilled:

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads,  and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. – Revelation 13:16-18

These days it doesn’t require much imagination to believe that a future world dictator could control the ability of any individual to buy or sell.

Posted in Antichrist, Economy, Eschatology, Mark of the Beast, Personal Computers, Technology | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment