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The Tribulation Gospel August 25, 2017

Posted by stevekerp in Christian living, End Times.
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Here’s an illustration of the “tribulation gospel” and a few other things:


You buy (or inherit) a large piece of land. You may have funds to build your dream house on it, or perhaps funds are also part of the inheritance. But you tell your lovely and gracious bride that the deal is done, the paperwork is signed and the land is yours.

You are both so excited!

There is a sort of shack standing on the land now, and you decide you will move into the shack until your dream house is completed. You can hardly wait.

But there’s a small problem. A band of vagrants has set up camp on your land. They are trespassing – it’s not their land and never was. But while the land was vacant, they moved in. They are armed and dangerous. You tell them you own the land and you are moving in and they must “vacate the premises forthwith!” or you will call the Sheriff. They snarl at you and refuse to budge.

So you call the Sheriff and explain the situation. You prove to him that you are the lawful owner and you want these trespassers removed. So the Sheriff tells them they must leave or they will be forcibly evicted. They still refuse.

So the Sheriff returns with a few dozen deputies. The miscreants start shooting! The Sheriff and his men return fire, kill some of the vagrants and subdue the rest. Once they are removed, you and your lovely and gracious bride move into the shack. It’s hardship, no doubt about it. There’s little room, the roof leaks when it rains, the floor is half dirt and half old boards, and the wind comes through the walls. It’s too hot in summer and cold in the winter.

A year passes, construction of your dream house is complete, and you move out of the shack and into your new home. The shack is dismantled and the pieces hauled off to be burned.

Regarding the trespassers on your land, no effort is legally required to be made to allow them to stay. They got wrath – as much as necessary and exactly what justice required. The Sheriff first gave them notice, which is what the “everlasting gospel” recorded in Revelation 14:7 is all about:

Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.

The idea that God is going to make another appeal for faith, repentance or obedience after the rapture is a false hope. It may be that people will cry out to God in remorse, but His response is in Proverbs 1:24-32. God will “laugh at [their] calamity” and will “mock when [their] terror comes.” NOW is the accepted time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2) If people want to ignore God today, when salvation is offered and is freely available, then God will ignore them in the day of disaster. By the way, remorse is not repentance.

Getting back to the story, you and your lovely bride endure hardship while the dream house is being built. Life in the shack is unpleasant, but it is not punitive. No one is mad at you and you haven’t done anything wrong. It’s just the nature of the situation and, truth be told, you brought it on yourself by your free and willing choices. Instead of paying rent for a year and taking longer to finish the house, you opted for a year in the shack.

Christianity – true Christianity – is like that. “In this world you will have tribulation” is one of those precious promises we ignore. Acts 14:22 is another. “Take up your cross daily and follow Me” is not an invitation to a life of ease.

It’s truly a shame that so many prophecy teachers see Daniel’s 70th week as “the tribulation period” and construct such an unbiblical model. Some also seem to think that Abraham, Noah and others were saved by works (or were saved by a different gospel), but in this “church dispensation” all that’s necessary is faith. NO! Abraham was saved by faith, and it issued in obedience; his willingness to sacrifice Isaac. Noah was saved by faith, and it issued in obedience in building the ark. Just read Hebrews 11; you will see that they were all saved by faith that produced obedience. Faith or trust is not stand-alone. The other side of the coin is always obedience to God. That is also the gospel of the “church dispensation” according to James chapter 2.

The “everlasting gospel” cited above is not a last-chance, “open the door of your heart” appeal for lost sinners to repent. Rather, lost, defiant and blaspheming sinners are simply being put on notice. The “tribulation period” for the church has lasted 2000 years and is almost over. Wrath for unbelieving Gentiles will soon follow. There are no “second chances” or “make-up classes” and, truth be told, the God-haters who remain after the rapture won’t want any.

For the Jews, there will be a “time of Jacob’s trouble” or, if you prefer, the “tribulation period” cited in Deuteronomy 4:30 that will be short and intense. Once again, it will separate the obedient from the rest (IMHO) and will refine the Jews. Regardless of race, “without faith it is impossible to please God,” and God-pleasing faith always issues in obedience.

It appears to me from scripture that God’s redemptive efforts return to the Jews after the rapture. It may be, of course, that a Gentile could become a Jewish proselyte. It is also entirely possible that a “Gentile” may be predominantly Gentile but have Jewish blood – and how much is necessary to “qualify” as a Jew is up to God – once again, even in wrath He may allow mercy.

I think the preaching of lavish grace and “second chances” during the “tribulation period” when suddenly people will “get it” and “accept Christ” is extremely irresponsible. That’s the main dragon I’m trying to slay. People who teach that one can survive God’s wrath with dried food and a water filter will be seriously disappointed.

The Sign of the Son alignment will be in place on September 23rd. Please – if you haven’t already: get your priorities in order. Now is the appointed time.

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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?

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.”

But … Do You Love Him? December 26, 2014

Posted by stevekerp in Christian living.
3 comments

My first church exposure after being saved was in my wife’s home church in Racine, and they beat me up continually with their 5-step “plan of salvation.”

Back then, and probably still, the “candidate” (I don’t think that was the word they used) would come forward at the end of the service as the congregation sang the “announced invitation song” and then the minister would explain the 5-step plan (I understand some churches have added a sixth) and ask the candidate if he believed that Jesus died for him, etc.  The candidate would say “yes” (then, as now, the minister did almost all of the speaking), and that one-word response was accepted as a confession of faith (Matthew 16:16), and then the minister would announce, “that confession brought death to Him but will bring life to you when you complete your obedience in baptism” (or something very similar).

I’m no mind reader, but I’m inclined to think many of these candidates were thinking quid pro quo – that “for this ONE act of public humiliation, I won’t have my parents on my case any more and God will BE REQUIRED to keep me out of hell.”

Such a deal.

As I said, I’m no mind reader … but I saw and heard lots of resistance to baptism (and still do!) and I saw little evidence of renewed minds or transformed lives.

My thought is that the “formula” is flawed.  Paul boiled it down to one simple statement, which he gave in 1 Corinthians 16:22

If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. (I would guess that “remain accursed” would be an equally valid translation. -scc)

How basic can you get?  It’s right there:  the delineation between blessing and curse.  And yet I never heard any minister (or anyone else, for that matter) ask a baptismal candidate or new believer if he (or she) loved Christ and, if so, why.

I’m in no hurry to “do the deal” and get people to make “decisions for Christ.”  As you know, there is no such thing in the scriptures.  Men say (and especially at this time of the year) that “wise men still seek Him” but I doubt it.  We don’t seek Him; He has come seeking us (Matthew 18:22).  And according to Paul, “…not many wise…” (1 Cor. 1:26) are called.

His disciples LOVE Him.  Because they love Him, they keep His commandments.  His “fans” only want what Jesus can do for them (stay out of hell, acceptance in the Christian sub-culture, etc.); they don’t want Him.  This is a distinction easily lost in evangelistic fervor, as you are no doubt aware.

So the questions we should be asking are:  “Do you LOVE Christ?  If so, why?  If not, why not??

Trivializing Christ December 9, 2014

Posted by stevekerp in Christian living, Church, Harbingers.
1 comment so far

I challenge our paganized “Christmas” season every year. As you probably know, most of the symbols and traditions come from ancient Babylon, and even the Christmas story (including the date) that many Christians embrace is full of errors.

But the real problem I have – traditions aside – is what Christmas, in fact, IS today. If Christmas really were a Christ-exalting season and people really came face-to-face with Jesus, should we not expect that every December would be a season of spiritual revival? Why is it, rather, a season of depression, hostility, financial irresponsibility, and over-indulgence?

And while it’s as easy for unbelievers to ignore Christ during this season as it is at any other time, why is it that among the professing Christian community, the claims of Christ and the knowledge that God has come to us does not produce deep repentance, or revival, or grief over our sin, or a renewed commitment to Christ and holy living?

Obviously it does not. The passion and focus of the Christian community toward godliness seems no more intense in December and January than it does at any other time of the year. Maybe with all the trees and tinsel and gift-giving and carol-singing, we are simply relegating what’s really important to the “back burner.” And perhaps because we do, Christmas has really become a time when we trivialize what’s important and insult Christ instead of honoring Him.

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