Fear Not!

For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (Isaiah 41:13)

In all my threescore and ten years I have not seen the kind of fear that grips our nation today. I grew up during the Cuban Missile Crisis and remember duck-and-cover drills in school, but I do not remember experiencing fear over it. To me, they were no different than fire drills and I thought it was fun to take a break from schoolwork.

Further along, I remember the Civil Rights marches and the Vietnam War protests, but they were far removed and affected me little. Soon the war called my number and I joined the Navy to do my part, but there was no fear in that either; I was just doing my duty as an American.

Our nation has gone through a lot in my lifetime, but never have I experienced the kind of fear that seems to permeate every pore of our society these days. First, the Wuhan Bug attacked, and we were frightened into sheltering in our homes and told not to come out unless absolutely necessary and then only when fully masked and with a good supply of hand sanitizer. So dreaded was the pandemic that churches shut their doors, as mandated by governing authorities, for fear of spreading the virus and of suffering repercussions at the hands of the authorities. Imagine Christians being jailed for practicing their faith! Unheard of! (Tongue firmly implanted in cheek!)

On top of all that, violent riots are breaking out in large cities all over the nation, and the authorities in those cities purposefully allow the riots to continue unabated while threatening churches and church leaders if they open the doors. The reprobate leaders in those cities want to comply with rioters’ demands to defund the police, but turn a deaf ear to Christians wanting to go back to church. Law-abiding citizens fear for their own safety because of the rampant violence taking place and the fear that they cannot count on police protection. Gun sales are up as citizens arm up to defend themselves from the lawless ones.

I completely understand why fear grips non-Christians. This life is all they have. Their only hope is what this life can give them, and they want to get as much out of this life as they can because there is nothing else. The Wuhan Bug and the lawlessness in the streets threaten the only life they know. Their world has been turned upside down, and it now comes down to survival of the fittest, the law of the jungle. That is a scary thing!

What I do not understand is Christians buying into the fear. Part of the reason, I believe, is that our churches have acquiesced to unlawful edicts[1] rather than obeying God’s directive to assemble.[2] I heard a sermon illustration once about the need for Christians to gather regularly. The preacher described a blazing bonfire with many logs piled high on it. But if you pull out one single log and set it off by itself, it quickly goes out and grows cold. That applies to a Christian that does not participate in regular church services with fellow believers. When Christians meet, we encourage one another. We share our needs and our praises with one another. We pray for one another and encourage one another. We lift our voices to God in praise together. That does not happen when the doors of the churches are closed. Yes, we can listen to our own pastors, pastors of other congregations, and any number of great Bible teachers on the internet, but that does not take the place of face-to-face fellowship. As a result, we lose courage and become fearful just like the rest of the world. Don’t you know? That is exactly how Satan likes it. As long as our churches remain closed, Satan is happy.

Why should a Christian succumb to fear? God has not given us a spirit of fear![3] Jesus said, “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luke 12:4-5, emphasis mine). So what if COVID-19 kills you! If you are a Christian, what does that mean for you? Or, are you so tied to the world and the things of this world that you would rather forgo heaven just to hang on to your stuff a little longer? Maybe heaven is not your home after all.

The first time God uttered the phrase “fear not” in the Bible, He said it to Abraham “saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1, emphasis mine).  As our “shield” God protects us from incoming missiles, even the Coronavirus. Do we believe that or not? A friend and fellow blogger commented on an article I shared recently.[4] She told me that her church opened its doors,[5] but soon thereafter, three of their congregation died from the virus and four were hospitalized and several in the church staff were infected. I do not know, but I suspect that her church has an aging congregation that is high-risk to begin with, and the fact that those in her congregation were infected does not necessarily mean that they caught it at church. Maybe they were, and maybe they weren’t. We all live in a fallen world, and therefore we are vulnerable to the maladies thereof. Another factor that must be considered is that this sampling is a minuscule part of the overall population of the United States and not representative of the entire populous. Numbers from the CDC indicate that deaths from the Wuhan Virus are extremely low, less than one percent.[6] Those that die from it have, in one way or another, already compromised immune systems. The median age of death from the virus for those over 59 years of age is 78 years old. Coincidently, the average lifespan in America is 78 years. This is not to minimize the value of every human life. Every life is precious to God, but the saints especially. Most of the saints I know would rather be “absent from the body and present with the Lord.”[7]

The second time God uses the phrase “fear not” is to Hagar after she and Ishmael were banished from Abraham’s camp.[8] God assures Hagar that He heard Ishmael’s prayer and He provided for her water in the desert. If God can hear the prayer of one without the camp, how much more will He not listen to the prayers of His own and provide for their needs? If we pray for God’s protection over our congregations, do we not believe that He will protect and provide for us?

On another occasion “Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not” (Exodus 20:20, emphasis mine). Could COVID-19 not be a test for the churches of God to “prove” them to see if they “fear” Him enough to obey Him rather than lawless men?

After Israel came into the Promised Land before they had kings, God said to them, “And I said unto you, I am the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice” (Judges 6:10, emphasis mine). The “gods” of the Amorites were not imaginary; they were real demonic spirits that were worshipped by the Amorites. The problem with Israel was not the Amorite gods; it was their disobedience to God whom they should have feared. The Coronavirus is real, but we should not be in fear of the virus; we should fear God and obey Him rather than men.

Later on, Israel – the Northern Kingdom – found itself threatened by Syria, but the Prophet Elisha warned the king of Israel about the threat. When the Syrian king learned of the source of the “leaks,” he surrounded Elisha’s house to kill him. Elisha’s servant feared for their lives when he saw they were surrounded, but Elisha was unafraid. “And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kings 6:16, emphasis mine). Elisha prayed that his servant’s eyes be opened and when God answered, the servant saw a greater army of angels surrounding the Syrian army. Is this just a fanciful story or does God still command an innumerable host of angels ready to protect His churches? Why are we fearful?

Must I go on? “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you” (Isaiah 35:4, emphasis mine). Jesus Himself said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28, emphasis mine). It is long past time for churches to stand up to unlawful decrees, reopen the doors, and obey God rather than men.

Reader, if you are fearful in these days, you can find your security in God. Trust Jesus to save your soul and keep you safe in His arms. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Higher Powers” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/07/19/higher-powers/

[2]  Hebrews 10:25

[3]  2 Timothy 1:7

[4]  “Churches Aren’t Avoiding Death By Keeping Doors Closed. They’re Ensuring It

[5]  Read her comment here: https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/08/13/churches-arent-avoiding-death-by-keeping-doors-closed-theyre-ensuring-it/

[6]  Watch this report by Steve Deace on the BlazeTV (may require subscription): https://www.blazetv.com/watch/channel/series/series/5qrRSBLHHW7g-steve-deace-show/episode/43-ruvwuy6vllw9-overtime-a-coronavirus-quiz-81220?t=0

[7]  2 Corinthians 5:8

[8]  Genesis 21:17

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Churches Aren’t Avoiding Death By Keeping Doors Closed. They’re Ensuring It

Source: Churches Aren’t Avoiding Death By Keeping Doors Closed. They’re Ensuring It

This is the drum I have been beating ever since this COVID nonsense shut the doors of my church. We preach “have no fear” yet we cower in fear as if we really do not believe what we preach. Over 365 times the Bible encourages us not to fear, once for every day of the year. Do we not trust God to protect us from unseen dangers? Do we fear man more than God? I am ashamed that my church has succumbed to fear of sickness, death, and fear of man. I fully agree with the message in this article. Enough is enough!

https://thefederalist.com/2020/08/13/churches-arent-avoiding-death-by-keeping-their-doors-closed-theyre-ensuring-it/

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Predestination of Purpose

[Christ] In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (Ephesians 1:11)

The debate of predestination or election vs. free will continues through the ages of Christendom without apparent resolution, except in the mind of the one who dogmatically holds one view or the other. I believe the answer is somewhere in the middle,[1] but for now I want to look at the idea of predestination.

I find that when the term predestined (or “predestinated” as rendered in the KJV) appears in the New Testament, it seems to be associated with the Christian’s “conversation” or manner of life. Our beginning verse is a good example: “[Christ] In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11, emphasis mine). Note that the Christian has already obtained an inheritance, i.e., eternal life in accordance with the purpose of the One who works everything according to His will. What is that purpose? “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ” (Ephesians 1:12, emphasis mine).

Again, God has “predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Ephesians 1:5, emphasis mine). The “predestination” is that those who are saved will be adopted as “children” of God. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4, emphasis mine). God planned from the “foundation of the world” that His adopted children would be blameless before Him through Jesus. The predestination is the plan that God had from beginning for those who would be saved. God does not predestine some to hell and some to heaven. That would contradict the “whosoever will” found in John 3:16 et. al.

Salvation is by grace through faith, as Paul explains. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, emphasis mine).  Even the faith that it takes to believe is a gift of God that He gives to everyone. We all have the ability to believe. Jesus said, “… If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you” (Luke 17:6, emphasis mine). A mustard seed is a small thing, yet with that small amount, a mountain can move. Believing in Jesus can be a huge mountain for some people, but by exercising the little faith God gives by His grace, it can be moved.

When we exercise that faith, we are transformed – remade. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, emphasis mine). The new creation crafted by Christ becomes a tool for His purpose. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10, emphasis mine). Those good works for which we are created were preordained or predestined from the beginning.

Our post-salvation life is predestined, not our salvation. Our salvation is “foreknown” not predestined. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29, emphasis mine). We are predestined to be conformed, i.e., “molded.” into the image of Christ, but God foreknows those who will be saved; He does not predestine them for salvation nor damnation.

If you are not sure about your status before God, please visit my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Somewhere in the Middle: – https://erniecarrasco.com/2013/10/20/somewhere-in-the-middle/

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Stop the Nonsense!

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.  (Hebrews 10:24-25)

When Jesus asked His disciples who people said He was, Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Of Peter’s confession, Jesus answered, “Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The purpose of gates is to keep out invaders. Therefore, by implication, Jesus portrayed the Church charging the Gates of Hell.

However, that is not the image of the Church we see today. Instead, the Church is fragmented into its individual pieces all cowering in their private shelters fearful of a virus that infects a very low percentage of the population and kills even fewer. The “bread of life” is broken up into crumbs and scattered in hidden places. For now, the Gates of Hell are safe!

I have written on this topic before,[1] [2] so rehashing past articles serves little purpose. However, the Word bears repeating. “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29, emphasis mine). “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Churches that have shut their doors, mine included, are operating in the “spirit of fear”[3] regardless of the “reasons” given for their capitulation to unlawful edicts and decrees. It is time for the pastors of these cowering churches to grow a backbone, stand up against these unlawful authorities, and reopen the doors of the churches, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, emphasis mine).

Watch and listen to this preacher, ex-Muslim, and fugitive from Iran. He says it better than I can. You may want to start viewing the YouTube video at minute 32:40.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDpVUCOmXjk

Notes:


[1]  “The Right to Assemble” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/06/14/the-right-to-assemble/

[2]  “Higher Powers” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/07/19/higher-powers/

[3]  “Living in Fear” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/06/28/living-in-fear/

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So Ready!

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

With everything taking place in our nation and across the world, I yearn with an aching heart for Jesus to call His children home. The event known as the Rapture captured my imagination almost 50 years when Hal Lindsey came out with his book, The Late, Great Planet Earth. Ever since, I have waited expectantly wondering if this could be the year.

Not long after reading Hal Lindsey’s book, I got married, started a family, and became very preoccupied with making a living and all that goes along with that. Thoughts of the Rapture came infrequently, but they never left my thoughts altogether.

Things back then did not seem as bad as they appear today. Roe v. Wade was a terrible decision by the Supreme Court, but as bad as that was then, it does not compare to the butchery taking place now and all that goes along with that. Homosexuals coming out of the closet disgusted us, but as long as they were not “hitting on” us, we could tolerate them. That sprouted into all kinds of perversion we see today that even involve young children. Today the “alphabet movement” demands that we accept their perversion as “normal.” They have even infiltrated elementary schools to indoctrinate our children into their deviance by teaching little ones that their gender is their choice, not a biological fact. What did Jesus say about those who harm little children? “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:2).

Add to all of that the violence in the streets of our cities – as in the days of Noah.[1] Then we have the Wuhan pandemic plaguing the world, and recently I heard from an unverified source that Russia plans to release COVID-20 which is supposedly worse. On top of that, we have a rapid degeneration of relations with China, and with Russia that some fear could lead to war. Meanwhile, in the Middle East where end-times prophecy focuses, the stage continues to be set for the end-times wars outlined in the book of Ezekiel.

It is not so much that all these things are taking place, but that they are accelerating at a rapid pace. What we see is what Jesus described in Mathew 24. However, what Jesus described was the Tribulation,[2] “the time of Jacob’s trouble,”[3] prophesied by Daniel.[4] Jesus referred to the time of His return to earth to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

The prophet Jeremiah called it “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” God changed Jacob’s name to Israel,[5] and he was the father of the twelve tribes that composed the nation of Israel. Furthermore, the angel instructed Daniel that “Seventy weeks [or 70 x 7 or 490 years] are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city…” (Daniel 9:24, emphasis mine). The first 483 years ended when Jesus was crucified. One final seven (years) remains to be fulfilled; that is the time of the Tribulation. The book of Revelation outlines in horrific detail the events that will transpire during those seven years. However, the point here is that the time of Tribulation is for the sake of Israel (Jacob). More could be said about this, but that is not my intent here.

The Church is not Israel. The Church has not replaced Israel as some wool-clad wolves are saying. The time of Tribulation is not for the Church. The purpose of the Tribulation is for the saving of Israel and for God to keep His promises to Israel. The Church will be removed before the Tribulation begins at the Rapture!

Many argue that “Rapture” is found nowhere in the Bible. That is true. The English word “rapture” is not in the Bible, but the source of the word is. The Greek word Paul uses to describe this event is harpazō.[6] It means “to seize, carry off by force,” or “to snatch out or away.” The KJV translates to “be caught up.” The Latin Vulgate Bible translates the word as “rapturo,” from which we get our English word Rapture.

There are several examples of people being “caught up” in the Bible: Enoch[7] and Elijah[8] in the Old Testament, and Philip[9] in the New Testament. In fact, harpazō is the word used for Philips catching away. Paul tells us that we will not all die, which seems to contradict what is said in the Letter to the Hebrews. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27, emphasis mine). That is generally true; however, there have been and will be some exceptions. Remember, Enoch and Elijah did not die, and we who are alive at the time of the rapture will not experience physical death.

We cannot enter the presence of God in our sinful bodies. Paul reminds us that we will not all sleep, i.e., die, “but we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51). “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53). We need uncorrupted, i.e., “sinless” bodies to stand in God’s presence. Paul says that the time is coming when the trumpet will sound and Christians who have died will come up out of their graves, then those of us who are alive at that time will be changed “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (that’s really fast).[10] Then he says, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17, emphasis mine). Note that we go “to meet the Lord in the air;” He does not come down to earth. The Rapture is NOT the Second Coming.” That event happens at the end of the Tribulation.[11] This is the Rapture of the Church.

I believe the Bible teaches that the Rapture of the Church takes place before the seven-year Tribulation. The Tribulation is for the salvation of Israel. The Church is saved through the blood Christ shed on the cross. There are no signs for the Rapture. All the signs we see are for the Second Coming of Christ, which is preceded by the seven-year Tribulation. That we are seeing the beginning signs for the Tribulation should alert us to the proximity of the Rapture. The signs we see now are just “the beginning of sorrows,”[12] i.e. birth pains. Just as birth pains begin infrequently and sporadically and gradually increase in frequency and intensity, in the same way, the signs of Jesus’ Second Coming will grow in frequency and intensity until He returns. However, the Rapture comes first, and it could happen at any time.

I am so ready! I often wonder what it will feel like for my body to change instantly into a sinless, flawless, immortal body with a full head of hair and the body of a 30-year-old! Then to zoom through the roof of my house or car leaving my old rags behind and clothed in a sparkling white suit of clothes to meet Jesus somewhere out in space. Can you imagine that! I am so ready!

How about you? Are you ready to meet Jesus in the air? You do not want to go through the Tribulation. If you think this world is bad now, you ain’t seen nothing yet! If you are not sure, you need to settle that right now. Please visit my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Matthew 24:37-39; Genesis 6:5, 11-12,

[2]  Matthew 24:21, 29

[3]  Jeremiah 30:7

[4]  Daniel 9:24-27

[5]  Genesis 32:28

[6]  1 Thessalonians 4:14

[7]  Genesis 5:24

[8]  2 Kings 2:11

[9]  Acts 8:39

[10]  1 Corinthians 15:50-53

[11]  Revelation 19

[12]  Matthew 24:8

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