Tag Archives: Satan

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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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Current Events, Heaven, Satan, Theology

Racism

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; (Acts 17:24-26)

The word “racism” has become a truncheon with which to bludgeon any opponent for any perceived infraction of the new social norms, which change almost on a daily basis. Those on the left often employ ad hominem attacks to silence their opposition, but the one that strikes terror into the heart of every conservative/Christian is the epithet of “racist.” Therefore, any decision President Trump makes, whether or not it favors the leftists, is denounced as racist. Ironically, the true racists rail the loudest, but that is another matter.

Racism, as defined by Dictionary.com, is “a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others; hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.”[1]

Racism should not be named among anyone, but especially not among Bible-believing Christians. From the very beginning of creation, the Bible records that God made one pair of human beings, and these two were created in His image.[2] God created one male and one female to carry on the natural process of reproduction and to be caretakers of God’s creation. God purposed the sexual union between opposite sexes to be permanent and productive.[3] Immediately after the Fall,[4] Adam and Eve started to reproduce[5] and before long the earth teemed with people. Without getting into the technical details of the human genome, the perfect DNA of the first couple contained the information to produce a variety of skin colors, hair colors and textures, eye colors, different body frames and heights, facial characteristics, etc. Our lead verse above confirms that God “made of one blood” all nations. The “locked-in” ethnic distinctions resulted from human dispersion after the Flood[6] at the Tower of Babel rebellion.[7] Regardless of ethnic “distinctions,” all human beings are of “one blood.”

I dislike the question on medical forms that asks one to mark down what “race” one is. I always write in “human” and “Hispanic” on the follow-up question that inquires about ethnicity. There is only one “race” – the human race (and we are not a “species” because we are not animals). One would think the medical community would understand such an undeniable biological fact, but alas, after more than a century and a half of Darwinian indoctrination, the Imago Dei has devolved into just another species of animal with a variety of subspecies or “races.”

The variety of ethnic groups (“races” from here on) in centuries past was of little consequence.  Following the dispersion at the Tower of Babel rebellion, “like” races united by language (they had to understand each other) and migrated to different areas around the world. This accomplished God’s purpose for the human race to “fill the earth.” This also had the effect of stamping identifying characteristics in their DNA, which changed very little over thousands of years. Our passage above notes that God determined “the bounds of their habitation.” God invented borders! These boundaries kept ethnic groups from intermingling. Consequently, racism within borders was not a problem. Racism between different races found its expression in wars of conquest in which the victor either slaughtered their victims or assimilated them into their own societies.

Some accuse Israel of racism for carrying out God’s directive to eradicate the Canaanites from the Promised Land. God had a reason for that. The Canaanites were not only idol worshipers, but they sacrificed their babies to demon gods, they practiced sexual perversion in their worship of demon gods, and they conducted all kinds of occult practices. These were wicked people and God wanted to cleanse the land of them. However, Israel failed to complete the task and against God’s commandments, they intermarried with the people of the land and adopted their practices. Following the Diaspora, first in Babylonian captivity and then the dispersion following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., Jews adopted a form of racism that does not really fit the definition of racism. Jews have for millennia attempted to keep their race pure; they avoid intermarriage with the goyim (Gentiles). However, this is not new. It is very much in keeping with God’s desire for them to be a “peculiar people.” I do not believe that Jews “hate” other races; they just want to keep theirs distinct. And it’s a good thing too, because in doing so, they have fulfilled end-time prophecy.

As previously stated, while races remained within their borders, racism virtually did not exist. Racism occurs when borders are breached. That kind of racism finds its expression in wars between nations (ethnic groups). However, as cross-country and intercontinental travel increased, racism found a new form of expression. A stranger’s speech, form of dress, color or texture of hair, diet, smell, or any other characteristic distinguishing the stranger from the “nationals” engendered ridicule, abuse, exclusion, or isolation.

Darwin’s The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex further exacerbated the problem by attempting to make distinctions between the races of men making some further “evolved” than others.  In making these distinctions, he assigned the black race the position closest to our ape ancestors. At the time, in America, and other places in the world, black men and women were taken from their God-assigned borders in Africa and sold like animals into slavery. Since they were considered less human, slavery could be easily rationalized.

Slavery is nothing new. It has existed since the beginning of time. The second book of the Bible, Exodus, records how the children of Israel became slaves in Egypt for over 400 years. After they came up out of slavery, God gave laws on the proper, humane treatment of slaves (servants). They were often accepted as part of the family. Some slaves were given great responsibility as “stewards” of their masters’ possessions.  Paul, in his letters to the churches, gave instructions on how slaves should behave with their masters and how masters should treat their slaves.[8] Now just because the Bible provides instructions on the humane treatment of slaves, it does not imply that God condones the practice. God does hate divorce,[9] but he allows for it because of man’s fallen condition.[10] Likewise, the same concept applies to slavery.

A common misconception exists that the slave trade in the 16th to 19th centuries involved mainly white slave traders. The fact is that certain powerful African tribes preyed on weaker ones to sell them to white slave traders for profit. Blacks sold other blacks into slavery. “The major Atlantic slave trading nations, ordered by trade volume, were the Portuguese, the British, the Spanish, the French, the Dutch Empires, and the Danish. Several had established outposts on the African coast where they purchased slaves from local African leaders” (emphasis mine).[11] This, of course, does not absolve the white slave traders, but it demonstrates that they do not bear the burden alone. It appears that this is an early example of black-on-black crime.

Most in the United States frowned upon slavery. Even in the South, only a small percentage of white farmers owned slaves. “In 1860, according to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, 75 percent of white families in the United States owned not a single slave, while 1 percent of families owned 40 or more. Just a tenth of 1 percent of Americans owned 100 or more slaves. That same year, 1860, 31 percent of all slaves in the U.S. were held on plantations of 40 or more slaves, while a majority (53 percent) were held on farms of between 7 and 39 slaves, says the institute.”[12] Perhaps a better way to put it is that only about 25% (1/4) of the entire United States population owned slaves, and most of those were in the southern states. In addition, most of the slaves were owned by large plantation owners who made up a very small fraction of the population. Therefore, while the record of slavery in the United States is certainly a blight on our history, it seems grossly unfair that the majority of white people currently living should be held accountable for the sins of a small minority 160 years ago.

From the founding of our nation, the great majority of Americans held slavery in contempt based on the Word of God and our founding documents that affirm that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”[13] “All men” means all men, regardless of race, religion, or social standing. Slavery cannot stand under that declaration, and, when President Lincoln was elected in 1860 on a platform to end slavery, that initiated the Civil War. Whites and blacks died in that great war that pitted brother against brother. It was ugly, but so is slavery.

One would hope that the Civil War settled the issue of racism in the United States. I am not black, so I cannot empathize with their perception of “systemic racism” in the United States. Frankly, I do not see it. I am certain that racism exists, and it probably always will. However, I believe we have made great strides in the USA to eliminate overt racism, but there will always be some. A close neighbor of mine openly admits that he is racist. He does not like black people. Alright, as long as we live in a free nation, he has the right to hold his views as long as he does not act upon them in a way that will violate someone else’s rights.

Being of Hispanic origin – my roots go all the way back to Spain – and of Mexican heritage – my father immigrated from Mexico – I have experienced racism from stupid white men that saw me as inferior because of my race. (Mexican is a nationality, not a race, but stupid people do not know the difference.) However, I never allowed racist remarks to affect me in a negative way or make me feel inferior to my assailants. And I never allowed those few ignoramuses to cause me to paint all white people as racists because of a few dummies. (I feel strange distinguishing other whites as “white.” Having come from European descent, I am white also.)

My racist neighbor grew up in Ohio. He is of Italian descent. He tells me of all the racial battles he faced growing up, racism between Italians and Irish. Racism comes in all colors. It is not just black and white. Regardless of its form, racism is just wrong. Racism is sin because the God who made us all in His image, made us all of one blood, and we are His prized creation. As such, we have one who hates us for that very reason and will do all that is within his power to divide and conquer us. That is what racism is all about. Satan[14] hates human beings, and he aims to destroy us.[15]

Just from my observations, which only take note of the exterior but seldom see beneath the surface, it seems to me that blacks are more deeply offended when they perceive racism employed against them, whether real or imagined. I worked with a couple of black guys in two different jobs. We always got along fine and never had any relational problems. However, I noticed that when they would be reprimanded or if they received a less than stellar evaluation, they would always attribute the perceived negativity to racism. It was because they were black. I experienced being called a racist by a black worker I supervised. He quit the job because of that, but when I confronted him about it, he could not explain to me what it was I did to warrant that accusation. I did all I could to encourage him not to quit, but he quit anyway.

In the Navy, while I was stationed onboard the USS Sperry AS-12, between 1970-1974, I noticed how black sailors would all gather at one table on the mess decks to the exclusion of all others. Of course, the civil rights demonstrations of the ’60s were still pretty much current events, but these guys made no strides at racial reconciliation. In fact, they went out of their way to intimidate any white sailor that tried to sit at “their” table.

If we are honest, we have to admit that the racism of blacks against whites is more prevalent than the racism of whites against blacks. And I do not understand why, unless it is intentional or perhaps they see themselves as inferior and assume all white people view them in the same way. I do not know. I am not a psychologist. Regardless, racism, regardless of who practices it, is sin.

Because racism is sin, Christians should be the first ones to identify it and the first to reject it. It does not matter the color of skin God gave us, racism should not be named within the Christian community. Yet, we remain sinners even though we are saved by grace. But we can try, and the effort pleases God.

Very recently, two churches, one black and one white, met together to talk about the issue of racism. The pastors of both churches agreed on all points, particularly on the fact that racism is sin. However, rightly or wrongly, it seemed to me that the black pastor indirectly implied that the problem of racism lies with white people, and that white people are primarily responsible for rectifying it. The black pastor was the first to present. He began his presentation by posting the faces of ten black people (8 men, 2 women) who died at the hands of whites: Trayvon Martin,[16] Tamir Rice,[17] Emmit Teal,[18] Eric Garner,[19] Philando Castile,[20] Ahmaud Abrey,[21] George Floyd,[22] Rayshard Brooks,[23] Sandra Bland,[24] and Breonna Taylor.[25]

With a few exceptions, all of these people died in altercations with police officers for resisting arrest, and most had criminal records. In all cases, the deaths were due to poor choices by the victims. In the case of Tamir Rice, a 12-year old, he aimed a realistic-looking pistol at police, and the police reacted in an understandable manner. Tamir, sadly, ended up dead. Emmit Teal, a 14-year old, was lynched by a couple of rednecks (in the ’50s) for allegedly insulting a white woman, the wife of one of the murderers. That case definitely can be called a racist crime, no doubt. Sandra Bland was pulled over for a minor traffic infraction and rather than comply with the officer’s request for her driver’s license, she resisted the officer and became verbally abusive to him. This resulted in her arrest, not because of the traffic violation, but because of her refusal to comply with the officer’s requests, which is against the law. She allegedly hung herself in her jail cell. The matter remains under investigation, but she would still be alive if she had just said, “Yes, Sir” and handed the officer her driver’s license. Breonna Taylor died in a shoot out with police officers who came with a warrant to search for drugs. Breonna was in her apartment with her boyfriend and supposedly did not hear the officers knocking. When the officers broke down the door, Breonna’s boyfriend reacted by firing his gun at the police. Breonna was collateral damage.

All of these cases are tragic, but of the ten, only one can actually be said was the result of racism, and that one did not involve the police. There is a spirit of anarchy pervading our nation that wants to divide us racially, economically, and socially. This same spirit wants to destroy our foundations and topple our system of government by eliminating our system of law enforcement. Systemic racism does not exist in our nation, and it does not exist in law enforcement, but leftists and their media continue to propagate the lie. Consider the lie that blacks are disproportionately killed by white police officers: “Study Destroys Argument That White Cops are Shooting Black Men.”[26] Race is not the issue in police shootings of black men.[27] Another headline reads, “New Police Shooting Stats Show Law Enforcement Is Not the Enemy.”[28] In fact, it appears that more blacks kill cops than the other way around.[29]

To make racism a white issue based on unfounded, isolated cases propagated by the leftist media is not only illogical and irrational, it places the burden of racism unfairly on the majority of white people. Yet the black pastor, perhaps unwittingly and without malice, placed the responsibility of resolution, in context of the Church, on white Christians. He pointed out that the “fact of Racism exists in the World. More specifically for our discussion, in the Church. It is not a figment of the mind of black people.” I propose that it is mostly in the mind of black people who refuse to relinquish it because it offers a convenient excuse for not taking responsibility for their own actions and failings. The black pastor also suggested that “In order for racism to be mitigated, Black Christians need white Christians to recognize it, repent of it and work toward the meaningful reconciliation that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (2 Corinthians 5:19).” That is an excellent recommendation, but it fails to assign any responsibility to blacks who can be just as guilty of racism.

The black pastor quoted from The Woke Church by Eric Mason, p. 163: “What needs to happen in the body if we are going to work together cross-ethnically is that white Christians must reach across the color line and begin building respect and trust for minorities, minorities must respond with open arms and hearts to these efforts.” (Emphasis mine). The pastor added, “Not only do white Christians need to speak up, Black Christians, who have achieved a level of success need to speak up every time we witness the [perceived] injustice of racism. Silence from any Christian for any reason gives permission to evil!” I submit this is one thing they do consistently.

I did not quote anything that the white pastor said because he went along with everything the black pastor said and offered no objection but rather acquiesced to the unfair implication that all the fault lies with the white community, and it is the responsibility of the white community to resolve the issue of racism.

Racism exists. It is sin. It is sin that infects all skin tones. The white pastor pointed out how the Israelites were very racist against Gentiles. Well, Gentiles come in all colors, so the comparison is apples to oranges. Regardless of the form, racism is wrong. However, it cannot be legislated away. It is a problem of the heart and only Jesus can change the heart. As for Christians, both black and white, we need to make the concerted effort to look beyond the color of a person’s skin. We should all, black and white, heed the words of Martin Luther King who said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Those words have been mostly aimed at whites, but it applies equally to blacks also.

Racism is sin and should not be named among Christians. “There is neither Jew nor Greek [nor black nor white], there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

 Notes:


[1]  “Racism” – https://www.dictionary.com/browse/racism?s=t

[2]  Genesis 1:26-28

[3]  Genesis 2:23-24

[4]  Genesis 3

[5]  Genesis 4-5

[6]  Genesis 6-9

[7]  Genesis 11

[8]  Ephesians 6:5-9

[9]  Malachi 2:13-16

[10]  Matthew 19:3-9

[11]  “Atlantic Slave Trade” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_slave_trade

[12]  “Slavery, by the Numbers,” The Root website: https://www.theroot.com/slavery-by-the-numbers-1790874492

[13]  Quoted from the Declaration of Independence

[14]  “Why Satan” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/11/02/why-satan/

[15]  “The Devil” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/09/23/the-devil/

[16]  https://townhall.com/columnists/williammarshall/2019/09/13/exposing-the-trayvon-martin-hoax-n2553059

[17]  https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/mikehayes/heres-a-brief-history-of-the-tamir-rice-shooting

[18]  https://www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/emmett-till

[19]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_of_Eric_Garner

[20]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Philando_Castile

[21]  https://www.nytimes.com/article/ahmaud-arbery-shooting-georgia.html

[22]  https://nypost.com/2020/06/02/george-floyd-had-violent-criminal-history-minneapolis-union-chief/ and https://www.cbsnews.com/news/george-floyd-death-autopsies-homicide-axphyxiation-details/

[23]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_of_Rayshard_Brooks

[24]  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/may/07/sandra-bland-video-footage-arrest-death-police-custody-latest-news

[25]  https://www.wdrb.com/news/separating-facts-from-fiction-in-the-breonna-taylor-case/article_94fb82fc-b10c-11ea-9305-43c10123a542.html

[26]  https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/study-destroys-argument-that-white-cops-are-shooting-black-men/

[27]  “There Is No Epidemic of Racist Police Shootings” https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/07/white-cops-dont-commit-more-shootings/

[28] https://www.newsmax.com/bernardkerik/police-shootings-crime-statistics/2019/01/22/id/899297/

[29]  “5 Statistics You Need To Know About Cops Killing Blacks” – https://www.dailywire.com/news/5-statistics-you-need-know-about-cops-killing-aaron-bandler

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Filed under Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Creation, Current Events, End Times, Evolution, Origins, Random Musings, Satan, Theology

Looking for Antichrist

Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. (Revelation 13:18)

For longer than I have studied end-times prophecy (and I by no way count myself as an expert), prophecy watchers have sought to determine the identity of the end-times Antichrist. Our starting verse above suggests that someone with “wisdom” can know the name of the “the beast,” the Antichrist, by calculating the “number of his name” – 666. By assigning numerical values to the letters of the alphabet, some in the past (perhaps even now) have used this “clue” to determine the name of the Antichrist. However, these overlook the fact that the Revelation was written in Koine Greek, and they apply this method to the English alphabet. Hence, several candidates have come and gone: Napoleon, Hitler, and several U.S. Presidents among others.

Personally, I believe that the identity of the Antichrist should be of no concern for Christians for reasons I will discuss later. When the Antichrist arrives on the scene, how will the world recognize him?

The Antichrist appears first in the Book of Daniel where the prophet characterizes him as a “little horn”[1] that rises out of a ten-nation confederacy. Without going into a lengthy explanation, a “horn” symbolizes a “kingdom” or a “king.” That the horn is “little” suggests perhaps a political leader having little authority at first, but then rises to power. Adolf Hitler is a good example of how this can happen. In my opinion, the “little horn” is alive and politically active right not, but because of his “little” position, he does not occupy the limelight. However, according to Daniel, he will arise and assume great power.

The Antichrist next appears in the Book of Daniel where the prophet characterizes him as a “prince.”[2] The Hebrew word translated “prince” is nâgı̂yd, which means “commander” (civil, military, or religious). “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9:27, emphasis mine). The “one week” is a translation of the Hebrew “one seven;” in other words, a group of seven years. This is the final seven years of Daniel’s 70 “weeks” of years determined for Daniel’s people, the Jews[3] that we know as the Tribulation.

According to the prophet, the “prince” will “confirm the covenant” for seven years (one week). This suggests that a covenant (treaty or agreement) already exists that has not been ratified. He does not “make” the covenant, but he makes the covenant effective.

Unless you live under a rock, you should be aware of all the problems with Israel and its Arab neighbors. So persistent are the “wars and rumors of wars”[4] in Israel that the media does not even bother to report on it unless they can somehow vilify Israel. President Donald Trump with the help of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has devised the “deal of the century” to bring peace to the Middle East particularly as it involves Israel and the “Palestinians.” However, the plan finds strong resistance from the Palestinians and other Muslim nations.

Could this be the “covenant” that Antichrist will confirm? Who will rise to make the covenant effective? As noted above, the “little horn” will not be known until he comes to power and confirms the covenant with Israel for seven years. If you are around when that happens, you are in for a long, hard seven years, but even then there is hope.

Daniel foretells that Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel after 3½ years by desecrating the Temple. Right now, there is not a Temple in Jerusalem, but the Temple Faithful[5] have everything needed to rebuild the Temple. The original Ark of the Covenant is hidden for now, though they claim to know its location. In order for Antichrist to desecrate the Temple, a Temple must exist. Jesus said, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation [i.e. the Antichrist], spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains” (Matthew 24:15-16). Perhaps rebuilding the Temple is part of Trump’s Deal of the Century!

The Apostle Paul refers to Antichrist as “that man of sin” and “the son of perdition.”[6] This is the one “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4, emphasis mine). Antichrist is an atheist. He opposes everything pertaining to God and even exalts himself above God. Daniel also makes this point. “And the king [i.e. the “little horn”] shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done” (Daniel 11:36, emphasis mine). Worse than being an atheist, Antichrist will actually worship Satan. “But in his estate shall he honour the [g]od of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things” (Daniel 11:38). The “god of forces” is Satan, who controls the powers and principalities who are the demonic realm.

This “spirit of antichrist” prevails in our world today. Humans reject God, and in effect, make themselves gods. The Apostle John, author of the Book of Revelation makes this point: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22). That applies to many today. “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (1 John 4:3, emphasis mine). “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time” (1 John 2:18, emphasis mine). However, the Antichrist will top them all.

In the Book of Revelation, John describes the Antichrist as a “beast” rising “up out of the sea.”[7] Symbolically, the “sea” refers to the masses of humanity. He receives his power from “the dragon,”[8] i.e., Satan. Apparently, sometime in the first half of the Tribulation[9] he receives a deadly head wound from which he revives.[10] This “miracle” imitates Christ’s resurrection from the dead so that the people of the world “worshipped the dragon that gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast” (Revelation 13:4). After this, he gains power for the remaining 3½ years of the Tribulation. This seems to be the time when he desecrates the Temple. Perhaps after “rising from the dead,” he convinces himself that he is god. “And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven” (Revelation 13:6, emphasis mine). “Tabernacle” and “Temple” are synonymous. Further along in the chapter, a “second beast” is described. Prophecy students understand this beast to be the “false prophet” imitating the Holy Spirit. He erects an image of Antichrist and forces all people of the world to worship the image. Some think that the false prophet erects the image in the Temple, which is actually what desecrates the Temple. Note the counterfeit trinity: Satan in the place of God, the Beast in the place of Christ, and the False Prophet (the second beast) in the place of the Holy Spirit.

In brief, this is how Antichrist will be recognized. I do not believe that Christians will be around when Antichrist makes the scene. Paul assures us that the Rapture of the Church will take place before the Antichrist is revealed. He says, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (2 Thessalonians 2:3, emphasis mine). That “falling away” is apostasia in the Greek, which refers to a defection or turning away from “the faith.” We see that happing all around us, as churches and denominations reject the teachings of the Bible and substitute entertainment for true worship. I wonder if churches closing out of fear of the Wuhan bug demonstrates a lack of faith for God’s protection and His admonition to “Not forsak[e] 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 10:25, emphasis mine).

The “falling away” continues. Paul goes on to say that Antichrist will not show up until the “restrainer” is taken out of the way. “And now ye know what withholdeth that he [the Antichrist] might be revealed in his time” (2 Thessalonians 2:6, emphasis mine). “Withhold” is the Greek word katechō, which means to “hold down fast.” Paul admits that iniquity exists even now, but its full power is restrained until “he who now [katechō] will [restrain], until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8). That “Restrainer” is the Holy Spirit who resides within every true believer that makes up the Church, the Bride of Christ. When the Holy Spirit departs, the Church departs because Jesus promised, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). He said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter [i.e., the Holy Spirit], that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16).

So, don’t waste a lot of time and effort trying to figure out who the Antichrist is. Rather, study the signs of the last days given in the Bible. Pay attention to what is going on in the world around you. Especially, look at what is going on in Israel. The time is very near. And if you are unsure of your position with God, Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Daniel 7:8

[2]  Daniel 9:26

[3]  Daniel 9:24

[4]  Matthew 24:6

[5]  The Temple Faithful – http://templemountfaithful.org/

[6]  2 Thessalonians 2:3

[7]  Revelation 13:1

[8]  Revelation 13:2

[9]  The Tribulation is detailed in Revelation 6-19

[10]  Revelation 13:3

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Same Old Tricks

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

We think we are so smart! We carry around in our pockets devices with more computing power than the computers that sent the first American astronaut, Alan Shepard, into space. With it, we talk or send text messages to friends and loved ones instantly. We stay in touch with current events, check the weather, watch video programs (even live TV), find answers to all of our questions with a few clicks of the tiny keyboard, just entertain ourselves with mind-numbing games. We fly across the country in a matter of hours, send probes to distant planets, or view the ends of the universe with our powerful satellite telescopes. We have developed medical devices that look inside our bodies to produce images of injured or diseased tissues. According to a 2013 report, knowledge doubled every 12 months, and the report predicted that it would soon double every 12 hours.[1] God told the Prophet Daniel that this would happen. “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4, emphasis mine).

However, for all our smarts, we still fall for the same old tricks[2] Satan has used since the beginning of time. Look at what transpired in the Garden of Eden. God had given man absolute freedom and dominion over the entire planet[3] and placed them in a perfect environment[4] with only one stipulation. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17, emphasis mine).

Satan’s goal is to separate God’s supreme creation, humankind, from their Creator and he continues to employ the same strategy and tactics that he used in the Garden to cause man to fall.[5] His strategy is to cause man to doubt God and to turn to him to meet their perceived needs. His tactics are threefold. First, he instills doubt in God’s Word – “Is that really what the Bible says?”[6] Second, he declares God’s Word as untrue – “You can’t believe the Bible. It was written by man, and it is full of myths and factual errors. You can’t trust the Bible!”[7] Finally, he slanders God by accusing Him of withholding total autonomy from you – “God knows you will be like gods, and He doesn’t want competition!”[8]

Man does not need Satan to cause him to sin. Man succeeds at sinning very well on his own, and Satan uses man’s own natural bent to sin against him. The Apostle John warns us against loving the world system[9] which is really man’s system. John characterizes it in three ways: (1) the lust of the flesh, (2) the lust of the eyes, and (3) the pride of life. Look at how Satan used man’s own nature against Eve. He first executed his strategy to cause doubt in God, and then he stood back and allowed Eve’s own human nature go to work. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [lust of the flesh], and that it was pleasant to the eyes [lust of the eyes], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [pride of life], she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6).

It seems we are not so smart after all. In almost 6000 years, Satan has not changed his methods one bit, and man’s nature has not improved through countless unlearned lessons. As the Preacher said, “there is no new thing under the sun.”

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:4-5). The Son of God and Son of Man accomplished what no other man could; He did not succumb to the wiles of Satan. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, emphasis mine).

After He was baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus went into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days in preparation for His earthly ministry. Satan took advantage of His weakened condition to make his attack. Satan knew who he was facing. Jesus is the Word of God and very God indeed,[10] so there was no point in trying to cause Him to doubt God’s Word. Instead, Satan attacked His human nature. First, he went for the lust of the flesh. “And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread” (Luke 4:3). Then he attacked through the lust of the eyes. “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it” (Luke 4:5-6). Finally, he used the pride of life to make Jesus fall into sin. “And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Luke 4:9-11).

There is nothing that you or I face that Jesus did not experience fully. Satan uses the same old tricks and we have all the same weaknesses of all who have come before us. However, as the Apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Christians, if they will take advantage of it, have the power to defend against Satan’s assaults and to combat the weaknesses of the flesh because, as the Apostle John reminds us, “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Jesus defeated the devil, and now His power is available to us, if we will only take advantage of it. We do not have to fall for the same old tricks Satan uses. The way to defeat Satan is to pray daily and often, meditate on God’s Word daily,[11] and “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 10:25), i.e., get involved in a good church and fellowship with other believers.

Reader, if you lack the power to withstand the devil, read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  http://www.industrytap.com/knowledge-doubling-every-12-months-soon-to-be-every-12-hours/3950

[2]  “Nothing Changes” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/04/15/nothing-changes/

[3]  Genesis 1:26

[4]  Genesis 2:8

[5]  “Why Satan?” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/11/02/why-satan/

[6]  Genesis 3:1

[7]  Genesis 3:4

[8]  Genesis 3:5

[9]  1 John 2:15

[10]  John 1:1

[11]  Reading the Bible is good practice, however, meditating on God’s Word requires a little more effort than just reading. One has to read and think (meditate) on what God is saying. Paul said to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God” (2 Timothy 2:15). That requires diligent effort.

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The Church

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

Today is Sunday, and June and I just got out of “church.” We enjoyed a wonderful time of worshiping God our Savior, Jesus Christ, and listening to the Word of God exposited by our “under shepherd,” our pastor. Then we gathered in our Sunday school classroom to enjoy family time by fellowshipping with our brothers and sisters and enjoying a time of deeper study into the Word of God. Currently, we are studying the book of Isaiah. We have been in the book of Isaiah for nearly a year, and we are only halfway through the book. I really appreciate our Bible teacher and his dedication to the careful study of God’s Word.

I have said this before, and it is still true. I love church! But what is church? Some people think of a building where people meet on Sundays for some unknown reason. Others have a vague notion that people gather there to sing and listen to some preacher talk. Many Christians consider church attendance as some kind of obligation. It’s just something one does.

Before going into what “church” is, perhaps we should understand what it is not.

“Church” is not a building. The first definition of “church” found at Dictionary.Com says that it is “a building for public Christian worship.”[1] While that may be the modern, accepted understanding of the word, it is nonetheless in error. The second definition says that a church is a “public worship of God or a religious service in such a building.” That comes closer to a correct understanding; however, it is still false.

Some people who attend church services select their place of “worship” based on the style of music that is played. They want to hear stirring music that stimulates the emotions and elevates their spirits to euphoric heights. Many church leaders are keenly aware of this “need” and they go to great expense and effort to tailor music that attracts the most number of attendees. Many “worship” services employ loud, screaming guitars, jungle-beating percussion sets, laser-light shows, and even smoke machines to stimulate the emotions. After 45 minutes or so of ear-splitting, pulse-raising “music,” the speaker comes up to give a 15-minute motivational speech specifically intended to maintain the hearer in a happy state – no talk of sin and the need for the Savior, or the prospect of hell; only talk about God’s love and how He loves you just the way you are (a partial truth originating from the “father of lies”).[2]

No, the church is not a place to be entertained, emotionally elevated, or encouraged in your sin. Even churches that still sing the “tired old hymns” can degenerate into places where we can go to just feel good about ourselves. That is not what church is. Neither is the church intended to attract unbelievers, which the modern “church growth” movement emphasizes.

The word translated “church” in the Bible is the Greek word ekklēsia, and it could be translated the “called out ones.” Immediately we notice that the definition precludes a building of any kind. So, the “church” is not a building. The church is people, and not just people, they are people that have been “called out.” The question that immediately comes to mind is, “called out of what?” Simply put, the church is an assembly of people who have been “called out” of the world. To use a “churchy” term, the church is a body of those who have been “saved” out of the world, out of sin, and out of an eternity in hell.

Jesus said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain …” (John 15:16, emphasis mine). The Greek word translated “ordained” means “to place” or “to set.” In other words, Jesus has “chosen,” i.e. “called out,” His church and set it in a place to do His work on earth – to “bring forth fruit.” “Bringing forth fruit” does not necessarily mean increasing the number of attendees in a particular church body. Indeed, Jesus said, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). The “call” goes out to all, but only a few will respond. “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14, emphasis mine).

Jesus said these things before the church was established at Pentecost.[3] The church, therefore, consists of individuals who are “called out” by Christ through the Holy Spirit, regardless of man-made “branding” – Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, etc. The unifying theme of the Church is a belief in the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross in payment for our sin, His resurrection from the grave (after three days), His ascension into heaven and His soon return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, emphasis mine). If one trusts simply in that, that one is included in “the Church.” If, on the other hand, one is trusting in the practices observed by their church, they are probably not included in “the Church.”[4]

The Bible refers to the body of all true believers, the “called out ones,” i.e. “the Church,” as “the Bride of Christ.”[5] This is the Church – not a building or a particular “Christian” denomination. The Church is a body of “called out” individuals who join together to worship God, to “feed” on His Word, to grow and mature in the Spirit, to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep, to fellowship and encourage one another, and to work together to “bring forth fruit,” i.e., bring others to Christ.

The purpose of the local church is to build up the body – the Church – for the work of the kingdom. It is not to entertain, nor is it to gain numbers for the sake of numbers. The Church is not confined to a single building; however, the smaller gathering that meets in a “church” building plays a major role as part of the “greater” Church. Therefore, “… 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).

One day soon the Church will gather together from all parts of the earth in one great assembly forever to be united with our Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ. I so yearn for that day! In the meantime, I enjoy the little piece of Heaven God has provided here on earth in my local church with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Notes:


[1]  Church – https://www.dictionary.com/browse/church?s=t

[2]  John 8:44

[3]  Acts 2

[4]  See my articles on “False Religion”

[5]  Matthew 25:1-13; Revelation 19:7-9

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