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The End of Common Grace June 13, 2017

Posted by stevekerp in Christian living, End Times.
2 comments

The basic ambiance of the universe is one of reconciliation, and it has been for 6000 years. That is about to change. When the Lord gathers His people, then His attitude toward those who remain (except for a small preserved remnant) will not be reconciliation, but wrath.

Today, things generally go well. Murphy’s law “what can go wrong will go wrong” is humorous because it really doesn’t square with reality. Even among unbelievers and God-haters and Christ-rejecters, common grace remains both operative and lavish. A lot of things that could go wrong don’t: Near-misses that could have been serious accidents; unexpected grace from an employer (“you screwed up but I’ll give you one more chance”); a sick loved one who suddenly recovers after the doctors have told you “it’s incurable and irreversible.” This is God being gracious, and this is “common”; that is, available to all. As the scripture says, it rains on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45).

The new normal will be a world without common grace, and it will be truly frightening. After the rapture, Murphy’s law will be business as usual. Those who aren’t interested in God when He is proactively gracious will get a taste of life without His grace. Some think this may lead to remorse or even repentance. If so, there’s no hint of it in Revelation. Rather, because sinful men have enjoyed God’s goodness so consistently and for so long, they have come to think that they DESERVE His compassion.

The absence of common grace is just one part of the horror that awaits. The trumpet and bowl judgments are God’s positive response to the wickedness in men who refuse to repent. I would expect that if the wrath of God were redemptive, we would see evidence of a huge revival during these judgments. However, John tells us that “…the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands… and they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.” (Rev. 9:20-21 – more of the same at Rev. 15:9) The work of God is that we believe in Jesus (John 6:29) and Jesus told us that “the night is coming when no man can work.” (John 9:4)

God’s wrath is not intended to lead to the redemption of the wicked. Rather, we see in Romans 2:4 that “… the goodness of God leads you to repentance” – that His divine forbearance and longsuffering are for our ultimate salvation; that “whosoever will” has ample time to turn from his wicked ways, and that all can “taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)

What is about to come upon the earth is not the sort of thing that a prudent man can either endure or avoid by stocking up dried food and having a secret bunker in the country. There is only one safe place, and that is IN CHRIST. If your trust is in anything or anyone besides Jesus Christ when the trumpet sounds, you will face a future that is a whole lot worse than you could imagine, and contrary to what some believe and teach, there will be no “second chance.”

My concern is for two types of people (and I hope you will forward the link to this post to anyone you know who may qualify). First: those who are lost. Some may not have heard; many have heard and have not believed. Second: those I call the “Matthew 7:21 crowd” – those who are practicing a religion but lack the relationship with Christ. Paul says we should examine ourselves (2 Cor. 3:5). Do you love Jesus? Do you hate sin? Do you regularly hunger for the scriptures? Do you love other believers? Is your faith transforming your life?

If you truly believe that all God expects from you is an hour on Sunday morning, a life sanitized from gross sin, and regular financial contributions, then you are distant from the Savior. If you pay lip-service to the commands of Christ and spend more time in front of the TV than in the scriptures, you need to seriously consider whether you are truly saved, because you probably are not. Perhaps you just had an emotional experience once in a church, said a prayer, maybe got baptized, and now you think you’re safe.

You will see Jesus Christ face-to-face. You will be required to give an account to Him if you are His. If you are self-deceived, He will look at you and say, “Depart from Me. I NEVER knew you.” If that frightens you, it should.

This is not intended to be gloom-and-doom. But it is intended to be a sober warning. Please don’t be deceived by any of the following beliefs: 1) that the end times are probably a long way off (even if true, your death and judgment could happen at any time), 2) that if one is prepared, he can survive God’s wrath, or 3) if one is left behind when the rapture happens, he can then “get saved” during the period of wrath that follows, or 4) if someone is involved in some form of “Christian religion” then he will be saved.

Remember Lot’s wife?

The Revelation 12 Sign March 30, 2017

Posted by stevekerp in Uncategorized.
3 comments

(In response to the suggestion by “Informed Christian” Daniel Valles, and a few others, that the Revelation 12 sign is NOT connected to the rapture of the church, I have a guest blogger, Professor Al-Henk Rekers, Ph.D., Dr.Theol.)

Dr. Rekers:  Biblical scholars who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture who have studied Revelation 12 in the original Greek language, using scholarly methods of exegesis and comparing Revelation 12 to other Bible passages have drawn a distinction between two different Greek words for “child” in Revelation 12.

Theology Professor Dr. Michael Svigel from Dallas Theological Seminary demonstrates with Biblical exegesis that the sentence, “And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne” in Revelation 12:1-5 refers to the Rapture of the church. 
In his article The Apocalypse Of John And The Rapture Of The Church: A Reevaluation Professor Svigel explores various interpretations of the timing of the Rapture in the book of Revelation, and he concludes:

If the male child represents not simply the individual, Jesus Christ, but the unio mystica, the believers of every generation of the Church who are ἐν Χριστῷ, then Revelation 12:5 is the only explicit mention of the rapture of the Church in the Book of Revelation.  While other passages may, in fact, imply a rapture (i.e. Rev 3:10) the event itself is not described.  Revelation 12:5, which stands at the heart of the Apocalypse and which brings together the two allusions to Psalm 2:9 found at the extremes of the Book, seems an appropriate place for the rapture of the Church in a book that was written to “show his servants what must happen very soon.”

A summary of why Revelation 12:5 teaches a pre-tribulation Rapture is this PDF of Professor Michael Svigel’s PowerPoint presentation:
Rapture-Revisited-FINAL-PART-2.pdf

The following interview of Professor Svigel is a summary of Scriptures on the pre-tribulation Rapture, including Revelation 12:1-5: 
PRE-TRIBULATIONAL RAPTURE: AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL SVIGEL

Revelation 12 – Birth Before Labor?
This short article by Daniel W. Matson (who has a masters degree from Multnomah Seminary) concludes: “Clearly then, Revelation 12:5 is the description of the Rapture of the Body of Christ to the throne of God.  With the Sign of the Woman this September 23, 2017, it is time to be Rapture ready. ”

This same author wrote a brief update entitled, “Revelation 12 – The Sign for Israel” at http://watchfortheday.org/signofisrael.html. In this article, he concludes,

The Sign of the Woman on September 23, 2017 is therefore a sign to Israel. This means the birth of the Male-Child (Body of Christ) and its harpazo to heaven must come before this time as the Church and Israel are separate dispensations. With the Feast of Trumpets two days before the Sign of the Woman, it would seem appropriate timing for the Rapture of the Church at this time of the Last Trump. Therefore, Israel gave birth to the Body of Christ and then the Body of Christ departs to heaven with the resumption of Israel and her tribulation yielding more offspring (Gentiles)–they both will be saved except for those who have sided with the Dragon.

http://philologos.org/bpr/files/word_studies/rev-1-f.htm
Here is a short article entitled, Man-Child vs Child: A Word Study of Rev. 12:5 that begins and concludes as follows, that concludes that “he child was caught unto God” in Revelation 12:5 uses a Greek word for child that is not applied to the adult Jesus Christ, and is a term for a group of people—namely the true church:

Rev 12:5 (KJV) “And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.”

The translation “man-child” in Rev 12:5 is from the Greek “arsen huios” while the word “child” in the same verse has been translated from “teknon.” Thus we have two different Greek words that have both been translated as “child.”

man-child = arsen huois

child = teknon
…..
No Bible writer, including John, ever refers to Jesus as ‘teknon.’ If Rev 12:5 is referring to the ascension of Jesus Christ to God’s throne, then it is the only time in the scriptures that ‘teknon’ was used in reference to Jesus.

‘Teknon,’ when not speaking in general terms, is most commonly used to refer to the church or believers of God.

The word ‘harpazo’ refers to a snatching away, and is especially used when referring to the rapture.

Looking up,

Al


In refuting Mr. Valles’ conjecture, I also offer the following comments.

First, Jesus was not raptured. He simply wasn’t. This isn’t conjecture; it’s a simple reading of the text and believing what’s there. Rapture or harpazo means snatching away, carrying away by force, kidnapping, sudden removal. The term harpazo is not used. Jesus was not in danger or being threatened, and He was not being “acted upon” and hurried to safety, or snatched out of harm’s way.

“Bride of Christ” is one designation of many for the ekklesia. Ephesians 4 goes into detail in explaining how we are also members of the body of Christ. This does not make him some sort of trans-gendered physical-spiritual creature – half man/half woman, or half spirit/half flesh. The fact that we “corporately” are in a role as the Bride of Christ (feminine) does not in any way negate the reality that we are also the BODY of Christ (masculine).

Yes, as King of Kings, Jesus will rule the nations with a rod of iron. But according to Rev. 2:26, so will overcomers. The distinction attempted between Jesus’ ruling ALL the nations, and us as His underlings ruling just some, is rebutted by the text. He will rule over the nations with a rod of iron, and He gives that exact same promise to overcomers. Again, just read the text. Jesus was given power and He gives what He received – “…as I also have received from My Father.” He gives us exactly what the Father gave Him.

Daniel asserts that the Rapture of the Church will occur “way before” (his phrase) the Revelation 12 sign. I don’t know what is meant by “way before” but there’s less than six months left. There’s lots of confusion regarding the correct understanding of “tribulation” in Matthew 24 because the term is used in at least two contexts. Matthew 24:9 speaks of tribulation for believers, and Matthew 24:21 speaks of “great tribulation” that is apparently local to Judea. Regardless of when they begin or where they are located, it’s fairly obvious that they both have ended before the events of verses 29-31. If the Revelation 12 sign in Virgo is the sign of the Son of Man, and Jesus is sending His angels to gather some other “elect” group, you might want to explain who that group might be.

Daniel also says the sign won’t be visible. A sign that can’t be seen isn’t a sign. Again: common sense. John said the sign would “appear”. That means it’s visible.

http://www.rogershermansociety.org.sign.htm may have some conclusions Daniel does not like, but the scripture says on many occasions that the sun will be darkened. Again, nothing fancy here – just read the text.

There are several other points I could challenge, but the bottom line is this: we should be expecting deception, war, famine, persecution, and a face-to-face meeting with Jesus Christ in the VERY near future. Those who presume to teach will be judged strictly, especially on those matters that impact the faith, growth and obedience of other believers. Offering to the Body of Christ unsupported and unbiblical conjectures concerning matters of spiritual importance is extremely dangerous.

The Sign of the Son December 11, 2016

Posted by stevekerp in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

Virgo over Jerusalem
Sept. 23, 2017

(Stellarium)

The “sign of the Son of Man” is a particular alignment of the sun, the moon, stars and planets that is described in Revelation 12:1-2.  It will appear in the sky above Jerusalem on Saturday, September 23, 2017.  Jesus told us that there would be signs in the sun, moon and stars (Luke 21:25) and He told us to watch.  Some may think I am now a “date-setter.”  I beg to differ.  The Father set this date by His own authority (Acts 1:7), and while this was concealed from the early disciples, the increase of knowledge prophesied by Daniel (Daniel 12:4) and some diligent study (Proverbs 25:2) has enabled us to discern when this sign will occur.  Many people will be surprised on that day.  You may choose to do nothing with this information, but at least now you know.

Now you know.

The rest of this article explains the sign and the scriptural basis for my conclusion.  My earnest hope is that you, dear reader, will realize the lateness of the hour and will commit yourself totally to the Lord Jesus Christ.  If your Christianity has been more of a hobby than a life-transforming experience, you need to return to Christ.  “Be zealous and repent!” (Rev. 3:19)  None of your “stuff” will matter when you see Jesus Christ face to face in September.  Or sooner, if persecution of Christians becomes more fierce and your faith costs your life.

The Sign

There are three celestial signs described in the book of Revelation:  the sign of the woman, the sign of the dragon, and the sign of seven angels.  We are concerned with the first, which is described in Revelationi12:1-2

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.  2 Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.

The woman is Virgo, one of the signs of the Mazzaroth.  She is “clothed with the sun” which is not unusual.  The sun is in Virgo every year at about the time of the autumnal equinox.  We also read that the moon is under her feet.  Again, not at all strange; the moon usually appears under or near the feet of Virgo about ten days before the moon is full.

Next, we see a garland of twelve stars on her head.  This is where it gets interesting.  To explain, I refer you to research by my friend Daniel Matson, whose work I quote:

On September 23, 2017 there are four planets in the vicinity that complete the sign and its ultimate uniqueness.  Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter play their parts.  Above the head of Virgo is the constellation Leo.  In Leo at this time there will be Mars, Venus, and Mercury.  With Leo being a constellation of nine principle stars, the three wandering stars make it twelve at this time.  Thus the garland of twelve stars is upon the woman.

For three planets to be in Leo at this time with all of the other preconditions makes this rare.  Combined with the final piece of the picture below is what makes this sign difficult if not nearly impossible to replicate anywhere close to the time in which we live.  How rare?  A search 150 years before and 150 years after September 23, 2017 produced no results.

1:30 PM EDT or equivalent time of 8:30 PM Jerusalem time September 23, 2017
(Stellarium)

The final piece of the sign is Jupiter.  Jupiter was known by the Jews as the planet of the Messiah.  Jupiter enters the sign of Virgo on August 27, 2016, which coincides with a close conjunction of Venus.  The next such close conjunction with these two brightest planets is 49 years later.  Jupiter itself enters Virgo about every 12 years.  The August 27, 2016 conjunction comes exactly 400 days before Yom Kippur 2017.  Yom Kippur always ends Teshuvah, which is a 40 day season of repentance.  Does Jupiter and Venus mark a ten-fold application needed at that time?

Jupiter then spends those 400 days in Virgo.  As the sign of Revelation 12 forms on September 23, 2017, Jupiter is in the womb of Virgo and is about to be born.  Remember, the meaning of Tribulation refers to the period of labor pains before birth.  The world is going to go through a period of delivery to result in the Messianic Kingdom.

from The Great Sign of Revelation 12 occurs in 2017 by Daniel Matson. Used with permission.
It is the presence and location of Jupiter that converts the “sign of the woman” to the “sign of the Son,” and it is the presence of three “wandering stars” in Leo that completes the sign that John saw and described.

What Does It Mean?

The meaning of this sign emerges quickly when other scriptures that discuss these phenomena are reviewed.  That review follows, but the conclusion is this:  the day of the Lord’s judgment is about to begin.  Not “maybe” or “someday” or “nobody knows.”  Not “it probably won’t be so bad” or “I have a safe haven and lots of food and water stored up.”  God hates sin with a holy hatred, and He is about to display His wrath.  Planet Earth is about to experience sudden destruction. (1 Thess. 5:3)

 

Please stop reading and let that sink in!

 

Lot got a “heads up” warning that Sodom was about to be destroyed.  His family thought he was joking (Gen. 19:14).  But he wasn’t joking … and neither am I.  There are compelling reasons for believing the day of judgment is about to begin.

 


 

First, consider Matthewi24:29-31

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (emphasis added)

In this passage, we see there is a period of tribulation.  This is mentioned in Matthew 24:9 and it maps to the 5th Seal (Rev. 6:9-11).  After the tribulation, there are four specific things that happen just before this sign appears:  1) sun will be darkened, 2) moon will not give its light, 3) stars will fall from heaven, and 4) powers of the heavens will be shaken.  During normal daylight, the stars and constellations are not visible because the light from the sun overwhelms them.  However, if the sun is darkened, we can expect to see the constellations clearly.  When the sun is darkened, the moon will also be darkened because the moon creates no light of its own; it only reflects sunlight.  The “stars” and the “powers of heaven” are related, and we will explore that relationship shortly.

A second scripture to consider is Isaiahi13:9-11

Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it.  10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light.  The sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine11 “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. (emphasis added)

Again, the sun and moon are darkened.  Stars and constellations will not give their light (Note: we will see that it’s not ALL the stars.)  And now we see why:  this is the beginning of the Day of the Lord, when God will begin His judgment on the earth.  God is going to destroy its sinners from it.  He will display His righteous wrath.  ALL sinners on earth will be “in the crosshairs.”  For all those who suggest that if God were good, He would not allow evil, they are about to see the answer.  Life on this planet is about to become truly frightening, and there will be no place to hide.  Do you have a plan?

Also in chapter 24 of Isaiah, beginning at verse 19:

The earth is violently broken, the earth is split open, the earth is shaken exceedingly.  20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut.  Its transgression shall be heavy upon it, and it will fall, and not rise again.  21 It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord will punish on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth.  22 They will be gathered together as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and will be shut up in the prison.  After many days they will be punished.  23 Then the moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed (emphasis added)

This is a truly frightening passage.  This does not present a local earthquake along some fault line.  This is an off-the-charts shaking of the entire planet.  Mankind is about to find out how much God hates sin.  This passage also introduces the Divine Council into the discussion, here referred to as the “host of exalted ones” and combined with, but differing from, the “kings of the earth.”

In Joel, chapter 2 we read of an invading army that breaches the walls of Jerusalem:

10 The earth quakes before them.  The heavens tremble, the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. 11 The Lord gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word.  For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it? (emphasis added)

Here we have an earthquake, an invasion of Israel, the heavens trembling, and the sun, moon and stars becoming dark.  Peter cited this passage at the beginning of the “church age” and he spoke prophetically of its end:

19
I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath:  blood and fire and vapor of smoke.  20 The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.  21 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
(emphasis added)

A complete picture of what to expect is beginning to emerge.  Some final details are provided in Revelationi6:12-17

I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.  13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.
14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.  15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!  17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

Taken together, the following picture emerges:

  1. Very soon, a worldwide campaign against Christians will begin.  There will be no place to hide.
  2. A massive army is going to invade the land of Israel.
  3. A war will begin in heaven.
  4. The sun and moon will be darkened.
  5. There will be massive, global, unprecedented earthquakes and volcanic activity.
  6. The church will be raptured.
  7. The army attacking Israel will be destroyed
  8. The Day of the Lord will begin, to include the seven trumpet judgments and seven bowl judgments described in Revelation.

War in Heaven

As frightening and cataclysmic as this appears, it is actually a small part of a much larger conflict.  We need to remember that the rebellion against God and His created order predates Adam.  Popular theology sees Heaven as a serene place where our loved ones who have died are enjoying peace and rest as they look down on us.  But the truth is that there is conflict in Heaven, and when the rapture happens, Satan and his followers will be at war:

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.  9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.   Revelationi12:7-9

Satan and his angels are the “falling stars.”  As noted previously, the “host of exalted ones” (Isaiah 24:21) will be punished; the “powers of the heavens shall be shaken.” (Matthew 24:29)

The study of the Divine Council and their role in the end times is beyond my scope, but I will include this final verse, in case this is new to you.

All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; all their host shall fall down as the leaf falls from the vine, and as fruit falling from a fig tree.  5 For My sword shall be bathed in heaven; indeed it shall come down on Edom, and on the people of My curse, for judgment.  Isaiahi34:4-5

This is the same language we saw in Revelation 6:13-14.  The spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places are malevolent spiritual beings.  They will be cast out of the hyper-dimensional heavenly realm.  The Divine Council, as a ruling body, will be dissolved.  Jesus Christ Himself will begin exercising all authority, and we will reign with Him (2 Tim. 2:12).  This is probably at least part of the reason why Satan and his demon followers hate men as much as they obviously do.  They are being fired and we are getting their jobs.  This should also energize and encourage us as we face these final months of escalating tribulation.

 

 

Conclusion

There is much more that could be said on these topics, but I tried to front-load this article with the most critical information, which I will repeat here:

  1. The Sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky over Jerusalem on Saturday, September 23, 2017.  That is our exit ramp from this vale of tears.
  2. We are on the threshold of global persecution of Christians.  It will separate the wheat from the tares, and it is for our ultimate good.
  3. God’s impending judgment of sin will be both universal and extremely unpleasant.

An Exhortation October 5, 2016

Posted by stevekerp in Uncategorized.
7 comments

The end of the present evil age, the restoration of the created order from the ravages of sin, the establishment of the kingdom of Christ on earth, and the time of judgment were all major topics in the early years of the church.  Accordingly, significant portions of scripture are devoted to explaining the end times.  One of the truly precious promises that Jesus made to His disciples (which includes us) is that He will return (John 14:3).  In Matthew 24:30, He said that something He called “the sign of the Son of Man” will immediately precede that event.

Have you ever wondered what that sign might be?  Have you ever anticipated what it will be like for those believers on the earth when this promise is fulfilled?  And perhaps as important:  what it will be like for unbelievers on the earth when Jesus returns?

It may surprise you to know that many people who consider themselves Christians really don’t seem to care.  “He might return tomorrow, or He may not return for another hundred years,” seems to express their view.  A statement such as, “He said we could not know the day or the hour,” is, for them, the end of the discussion.  Perhaps your pastor or your friends don’t like to talk about this stuff, so you assume it’s not important.

If that describes you, Jesus has a question for you:  “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46), because intentional ignorance of the end times is actually disobedience.  He gave us specific signs to watch for, and He COMMANDED us to watch! (Mark 13:37)  If He said, “I will be back next week” you would not know the day or the hour… but you would still be expected to watch.  Just as you don’t want to be found loafing when your earthly boss shows up unexpectedly in your work space, you don’t want to be found disobedient when Jesus returns.  Please take this warning seriously.

The sign of the Son of Man will appear over Jerusalem on Saturday, September 23, 2017. Stay tuned and get ready.

Draw a Little Circle August 19, 2016

Posted by stevekerp in Christian living, Discipleship, spiritual wealth, Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

One of the wiles I believe the devil and his buddies in the religion business have used very effectively is to induce Christians to get so focused on the “big picture” and the huge and desperate needs of the world that they miss the small needs that may be right in front of them. “I can’t help you now; I’m on a mission to save the world.” “I’d really like to help you pay your electric bill, but I gave all my money to the foreign missions ministry at church.”

Stuff like that.

We see, sometimes in retrospect, the silliness of, “if I’d stayed to help my neighbor, I would have been late for the prayer meeting.” “And what was the prayer meeting about?” “Oh, we’re praying for boldness in reaching our neighborhoods for Christ.”

There’s a simple solution, but it requires a little discipline. Are you really a “disciple” of Christ? If so, read on.

Jesus has placed us where we are for a reason. His command to go into “all the world” is not a missionary call, or a command to get a passport, pack a suitcase, and travel to a foreign country. You are obviously “in the world” when you are at home, in your neighborhood, at your job, or on your campus. You have been SENT as an ambassador of Christ to where-ever you are.

This is liberating. You are not required to reach people with whom you have no contact. Rather, you are commanded and empowered to represent Christ to people with whom you DO have contact. How neat is that??

But that’s still a pretty big playing field, and unmanageable unless all your relationships are extremely superficial. How do you clearly delineate YOUR assignment?

First, you should bear in mind that the population you are part of is probably about 3% Christian. Were I to come to your little corner of the world and round up 100 people at random – with you among them – there would probably be two other Christians in the posse. That means 32 unbelievers for each Christian. Viewed this way, you see that Jesus has not given us a huge or overwhelming task at all. In fact, in order to meet the objective, we need only be faithful on a daily basis for about a month. ANYBODY could share the gospel with one person a day for a month. It’s not an 8-hour a day deal, either. No expenses, no extra equipment, no special training, no passport.

Of course, true ministry is larger than that. Some folks really need more exposure, more encouragement … and maybe a LOT more prayer. So I’m not going to suggest that you do this “witnessing thing” for a few weeks and then retire. What I am suggesting, rather, is that you map out your ministry so you can be focused and effective in the part of the global village where you have been sent. Your part is your “circle.”

Anyone can draw one. It need not be large, and it need not be all that round. Within it go the names of 30 people who are close to you, most of whom are probably not saved. They may be geographically close, such as your next-door neighbor or friends at work, or they can be close in the sense of family or friends. But it should be real people who you really know. “Facebook friends” don’t count.

These are people that you vow to God you will be “there” for. These are people you will “pastor” to the extent they desire it. You will pray specifically for these folks regularly. You will contact them, love them, serve them, be available for them. You will be open to them. These specific people are your ministry. This is your circle – a little “spiritual garden.” For everyone else, you should be “open for business.” If anyone in the neighborhood, in the family or on the job comes to you, you should serve if possible, just because that’s what Christians do. But for others you can be more reactive. For those in the circle, you must be pro-active. You reach out to them; don’t wait for them to call you. You ask them how they are doing; don’t wait for them to volunteer their problems. And you pray for them aggressively.

Now, suddenly, your ministry is right-sized, right-side-up, and SPECIFIC. The nameless, faceless, lost masses in some country you might not even be able to find on a map – and emotional appeals to support a missionary who can “reach them for Christ” and “obey the Great Commission” – can be seen in a more realistic context. At least, you understand that helping someone else obey Christ is not an acceptable substitute for YOU obeying Him, in the location where He has placed you.

This does NOT mean you project some “spiritual aura” or assume some “pastoral mantle” or anything like that. Nor does it mean you should invite these 30 people over to your house, set up a pulpit, and start preaching. All this means is targeted, pro-active and authentic Christianity. You should be ready with an answer if anyone asks you the reason for the hope that is in you. But they have to ask. For many, “going spiritual” is a greased slide to the exit.

HOMEWORK:

1. Start a list of your 30 (or so) people. You really should not have a problem listing people who are close to you, either consanguinally or geographically.

2. Write down the specific ways that you will serve these people, as appropriate and when possible. For instance, if you have someone who needs money, that does not necessarily mean you pony up. It may mean he/she needs budget guidance, spending control, or help with a yard sale. Being a servant does not mean being stupid, being a doormat, or being an always-on-call problem solver. You serve in wisdom and on your terms. Expect to be led by the Holy Spirit.

3. Write down some specific, pro-active ways that you can cultivate and deepen your relationships with these people. Invite to dinner, get birthdays and anniversary dates and send cards, help in a job hunt, etc.

4. Don’t meddle. Your commitment is to God. You will be available, prayerful, and proactive. If you become intrusive, they will probably resent it, and you will hopefully sense it. Tell them “I’m available but I won’t meddle.” Respect their boundaries and continue to pray.

5. Remember: No one can come to the Son unless the Father draws him (John 6:44). No doubt, lots of folks who consider themselves Christians spend time in prayer, but their prayers go nowhere because they are not in Christ. As a Christian, you have a rare opportunity to speak to God, knowing that He actually hears you! Re-read that last sentence: this is huge. You can actually go before the Creator of the Universe, the Father of Jesus Christ, and pray that He will draw your lost family, friends and neighbors to Christ. And you can bet that when He does – when He gives your circle-members faith to believe – that YOUR phone will ring and you will have the opportunity to provide content for their gift of faith.

ALTERNATIVE:

1. Having read the above, you are thinking, “that sounds manageable, and it certainly appears to be Biblical. I’ll think about it.” Or maybe, “I’ll ask my pastor about it.”

2. Then, having felt really good about what you just read, fully intending to take this for action when you get around to it, close your browser and do nothing.

I guess it’s a Luke 6:46 moment. Or maybe you have a BETTER plan (and you may) which you are already implementing. If so, good for you. Send me the details; I’m interested.

In the meantime, hope to see you “on the mezzanine.”

Be Still August 15, 2016

Posted by stevekerp in Uncategorized.
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For those of you who may have followed either this blog or the podcast, you know that I make no claim to special revelation, hearing audible “voices”, angelic visitations or visions. However, as every true believer knows, there is the “still, small voice” of the Spirit of God within each of us, Who will prompt us and guide us if we will simply be quiet before Him …. and listen.

That, I’m convinced, is what He is telling me to do. “Stop talking.”

I’ve said many times, and sense deeply, that American-style Christianity has put knowledge above action. While I believe that most of my podcast audience is the exception to that general condition, the fact is that I’ve said all I really have to say. No one reading these words will be able to say they didn’t know what the Lord told them to do. If they did not do it, it was not a knowledge problem; it was something else.

Paul said, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Philippians 4:9) Paul was a living example of the things he taught. We must each be likewise.

Clearly, you can’t “see” my manner of life through the two-dimensional lens of cyberspace. I could be someone who talks a great game but never performs. And truth be told, podcasting takes up a LOT of time that could be spent in performance. It also puts a filter in place. Virtually everything I would see, hear, read or experience would be considered for its value as content for the next program. Instead of thinking, “what might God be showing me?” I would instead usually think, “How can I use this on the program?

Seven years was, I believe, what God wanted me to accomplish. All the old programs are still in iTunes – at least, they were still there last time I looked. Adam does the daily news and Karen does the news menu, so there’s enough “current events” to keep us informed … or distracted as the case may be.

My final appeal is to make the main thing – Glorifying Jesus Christ and seeing His hand in all His works – the main thing. As we press on to the finish line (which I believe may be very close to the “sign in the heavens” we expect in September of 2017), Satan and the sinister spiritual forces arrayed against us would like nothing better than to keep us distracted, inactive, and ineffective.

NOW IS OUR TIME! I think we should be anticipating one more time “around the block” and we should thank God for it! Please! PLEASE!! – Purpose in your heart to have an impact for Christ every day, and then take action.

It’s been suggested that I be available for one-on-one mentoring or life-coaching, and I’m amenable to that. If you need to talk and you need someone to listen, I’ll make the time – email, phone call, or stop by for coffee. But I will lovingly warn you on the front end that if there is something God has told you to do and you haven’t done it or aren’t doing it, my “coaching” won’t be much help … or much fun.

On the other hand, if you are invested in Christ and everyone around you is lukewarm at best, or hostile at worst, I will be honored to encourage you and remind you that who you are and what you are doing matters to God, and that you will not lose your reward.

I will probably put links to stories or devotionals on the web page regularly. But unless the Lord clearly says otherwise, I will not be continuing the podcast. As the Lord leads, I hope to continue Anakypto Afterthoughts.

Greatness? Again?? July 29, 2016

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I’m thinking of this “make America great again” theme that Trump et al are using to slogan their way through the campaign… etc. etc.

A few off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts:  first, that this presumes 1) that America was great at one time, and 2) that America is not great now, and 3) that there is some sort of metric for measuring “greatness.”

We have a lot of ideas about what America should be like — not all the same.  The political Left seems to have a vision for American “greatness” that incorporates a vision of “great” that probably hasn’t been seen since the collapse of the Roman Empire, or perhaps Sodom and Gomorrah.  But some on the other side of the table may have equally unrealistic or undesirable views.

I would submit that America cannot be “great” in any sense, unless Americans are “great” in the same sense.  The streets used to be safe, not because “America” was great in some abstract sense, but because American people were safe people, good people, decent people.  Industry works well in an honest culture.  It begins to collapse when people can’t trust each other any more.  Corporations are not moral or immoral.  “It’s the people, stupid,” to almost-quote the Clintonistas of the 1990s.  RICO was passed to fight “organized crime” but was used (until 2006) to harass pro-lifers and protect abortionists. Immoral people use laws – even “good” laws — to promote immorality.  In a moral culture, pro-life protesters would be unnecessary because abortion “clinics” would not exist. Great people don’t murder babies, or anyone else, for that matter.  Roe v Wade is not the problem, because in a “great” country, abortion is unthinkable.  That’s just one of many, many examples.

A well-known quote, attributed to Alexis de Toqueville but probably written in 1941, connects America’s greatness to her fundamental goodness:

Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.

Flaming pulpits aside, can a country be “great” with it’s pants on the ground?  When sodomy and promiscuity are viewed as rights, and speaking against those “rights” is a crime?  How much TV fare portrays immoral behavior?  Would moral people — “great” people — watch immorality for entertainment???

Can we build “great” Americans with an anti-Biblical culture, an anti-Biblical legal system, and an anti-Biblical school system?  Can we have a “great” country or a healthy economy with a squalid culture?

I don’t think so.  Not too long ago, this would have been a no-brainer.  Today, some folks need to think about it.

If Trump is elected, will he work to make it legal to be a “great” American?  How much is Trump willing to frustrate the “People for the American Way” and the ACLU?  Will he tell his DOJ to quit harassing Christians in the culture?  Does Mr. Trump understand that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people“?

I hope so, but I’m inclined to think that the Republicans are, once again, using comfortable-sounding rhetoric to appeal for political support, and the “vision” of making America great again is not a goal or even a pipe-dream.  It’s the cheese in the trap that will cause the American “mouse” to realize he’s been snookered… again.  Then we will begin pining for 2020 when a fresh batch of candidates will take us through this waltz one more time.

Hope in ANY “political savior” to fix the country and make us “great” is a misplaced hope.  We should certainly hope that Mr. Trump, if elected, will simply be a strict-constructionist Constitutionalist.  But let’s be clear:  the task of returning to greatness lies with us.  WE need to become “great people” — and only when we become so will America return to greatness.  The key to greatness is not in civil government.  It is in Christian discipline.  We must dare to be bold — to be “great” — for the kingdom of Christ.  There is simply no other way.

I’m Guilty! June 16, 2016

Posted by stevekerp in Uncategorized.
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I want to be clear about this from the beginning. I am not, nor do I claim to be, “holier-than-thou.” There’s a moral code we all seem to share, and I’ve violated it at every point. Knowledge of this code transcends culture, age, location and upbringing. Where this code came from is a separate issue. Suffice to say, we all seem to know from the beginning that lying, stealing, murder, fornication and the rest are all “wrong” in some objective and absolute sense, and that we should not engage in them.

But I have. Many times. And I daresay, so have you. So the question is not “am I guilty” because we ALL are. The real question is, “Where can I find forgiveness?”

Not only am I not “holier-than-thou,” but I’ll also concede that I am probably not “smarter-than-thou” either. You may have figured out faster than I did that lying, stealing, fornicating, dishonoring parents and all the rest are self-destructive behaviors. No one is better off, nor is the culture they live in, when these moral violations are indulged. Perhaps you have heard the saying, “we don’t break the commandments as much as we break ourselves upon them.” By ignoring or violating the moral code that seems to be hard-wired into our humanity, we harm ourselves and everyone around us.

And we feel guilty. This is not a bad thing. There’s nothing strange about feeling guilty if you are, in fact, guilty. The question then becomes, “what do I do with my guilt?”

To this question there is only once answer: Jesus Christ. He, and only He, is the provision for reconciliation with the One Whose moral law we have all violated. In Christ, God has offered us complete forgiveness. We can be saved.

How to transition from condemned sinner to forgiven child of God is neither difficult nor complicated. It’s really simple: repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. All that’s required is an honest and willing heart.

You are a sinner, just like me.

You need a Savior, just like me.

God has provided a way. There is only one way, but we only need one.

1) REPENT. Change the way you live. Demonstrate to God and all you have wronged that you are truly sorry for your wickedness. Make restitution as appropriate, offer apologies, and abandon your sinful ways.

2) PUT YOUR FAITH IN CHRIST – totally trust Him to make you righteous before God. Repentance does not save; it simply demonstrates that you are serious about wanting to be saved. Salvation is in Christ alone – it is His perfect righteousness imputed to you, and NOT your imperfect “righteousness” of a sanitized life, that will effect your reconciliation with your Creator.

You can know that you have passed from death to life. Primarily, you will love Jesus Christ enough to obey Him. Second, you will desire to read the Bible. Also, you will love other Christians. Finally, you will start to hate sin and desire to put it completely out of your life. You will discover that God will have given you His Holy Spirit to enable you to do so, and to live a life that is pleasing to Him.

By the way, I’m no longer guilty. In Christ, the Judge had declared me “not guilty.” My sins – ALL of them – have been purged. Jesus has provided a perfect atonement. His death, burial, and resurrection paid for my sins and demonstrated that His payment on my behalf was sufficient. In Christ I’m free.

This is bare-bones basic Christianity. For more information, take the Trip To Truth. If this post makes sense to you, please share the link with others. Time is truly short.

The 30-Day Challenge May 30, 2016

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The 30-day challenge is based on a mathematical model that demonstrates it is possible for a culture that is only 3% Christian to be substantially evangelized in about 30 days.  All that is necessary is for each of those Christians to present the gospel to one unsaved person every day.  This can be done without major expense, without special training, and without significant alteration to the daily routine.

The math is simple.  For each three Christians there are 97 non-Christians.  This is 32 unbelievers for each Christian.  With no redundancy, and sharing the gospel with just one person a day, it would take 32 days. Significantly, you see at least one unsaved person every day as you go about your normal routine.  The grocery check-out girl – the man near you who is refueling his car while you refuel yours – the man on the street with a cardboard sign – or maybe even the person standing next to you in church!

The point of the Challenge is not evangelistic results, however.  Rather, it is OBEDIENCE.  Do you love Jesus Christ enough to obey Him just a teeny-tiny bit, every day, for just a month?  Is the God you claim to serve worthy of your loving obedience?

Obviously, in any culture – and especially one such as the United States – the majority of the population has already heard at least something about Jesus Christ.  Many have heard the gospel and have rejected it.  But the influence of the proclamation of the gospel tends toward the preservation of the culture.  We are called to be salt, and salt that becomes savorless is unfit for anything.

Obedience to the commands of Christ is not for the “professional” Christian.  It is for each of us.  The message from Jesus Himself is “if you love Me, keep My commandments.”  (John 14:15)  Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 15:22 that if anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed.  The link between love and obedience is unavoidable.

None of this is new, of course.  Probably, sermons have been preached, books have been written, DVD’s have been produced and sold, seminars and conferences have been well attended.  We all KNOW this stuff.  The question remains:  if we know the commands of Christ, will we obey them?  Or are we so delusional that we think Jesus will reward us for our disobedience?

That’s the challenge.  Don’t just think, “yes, I should do it.”  DO IT!  Write a brief gospel message on a sheet of paper, make 30 copies, and give one a day to someone.

My friend Dr. Dave wrote:

If only we could get the actual Christians in America to share the Gospel consistently, it would shake the country up.  Even the media would be dominated by the issue of all these Christians ‘getting in your face’ . . . even if most of that witnessing is gracious.

I don’t think guilt is an effective motivator.  Nor do I think we should be persuading people to “do Christianity” as an extra assignment or activity.  Rather, I would hope that true believers would simply love Jesus Christ, and would demonstrate with their lives that He is worthy of love, obedience, sacrifice, and anything else.  The 30-day challenge points out that there really are no obstacles to actually living out Christianity.  It’s not an additional burden on time or resources or anything else.  It’s really answering the question, “Do you love Him?”

Unfinished Business March 7, 2016

Posted by stevekerp in End Times.
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At about this time every year, the eschatosphere lights up with discussion of the possibility of the rapture happening during the Passover season. Usually, the events of Jesus’ last week are reviewed and the conclusion is that the spring feasts were fulfilled in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and the fall feasts will be fulfilled when He returns.

In other words, Jesus was our Passover Lamb, His 3-day entombment fulfilled Unleavened Bread, and His subsequent resurrection certified Him as the Firstfruits of those who will enjoy eternal life.

If we see the first Passover in Egypt as a type, we would expect to see all the major details fulfilled in the anti-type. However, one of the major elements of the first Passover is missing. So I thought a review of Exodus chapter 12 might be in order.

In 12:3 we see the command for every man to take a lamb for himself and his household on the tenth day of the first month. At twilight (which is the period of decreasing light that follows the setting of the sun) on the 14th day, the lamb was to be killed and its blood applied to the lintel and the two doorposts (v. 7). This had to be accomplished on the eve of Passover, because the Lord (accompanied by “the destroyer” in verse 23) would come through the land at midnight (v. 29) and either “pass over” or strike the firstborn, depending on whether or not the blood was applied.

To understand the horror of this judgment, you might pause at this point and imagine what your life would be like tomorrow if all the firstborns in your family died tonight. I would lose my eldest brother, a nephew, four nieces, my daughter, my wife, two grand-daughters, and in-laws too numerous to mention.

To summarize, we see in the Passover a series of three critical elements: 1) the selection and death of the lamb, 2) the application of the blood for protection, and 3) the Lord passing over the protected homes and killing the firstborn in the rest. If we fast-forward about 1,400 years to the time of Christ, we see the death of the Lamb of God, but nothing at that time that really maps to the application of the Blood. More significantly, we see nothing that in any way fulfills the “passing over” of the Lord in mercy for some, or the death of any others.

I would submit that the entire “church age” from then until now has included an appeal to apply the Blood as the only protection from the wrath that is certain. Prophetically, and in fulfillment of the Passover type, the visit of the destroyer is yet future.

Obviously, we don’t expect that when Jesus returns that He will be killed again. But while the Head was killed 2,000 years ago, Romans 8:36 indicates that the death of His Body is an ongoing process, and we might anticipate that the process will end on a future Passover. It would certainly be consistent with the prophetic pattern to have a fierce, world-wide judgment occur on Passover with the true Believers protected, a few days for the world to try to recover, and then a rapture and resurrection event on First Fruits. It would also be plausible for such a world-wide catastrophe to take place any time, in view of current events and political and economic realities.

In the meantime, our efforts as ambassadors for the Kingdom of Christ should continue, as we urge our fellow-pilgrims to be reconciled to God through the only reconciliation that is available: the blood of Jesus Christ. I’m not setting a date, but like many of you, I believe the time of His coming is drawing very near. Please! Don’t be deceived and don’t be distracted.

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