Rahman mentioned how this subject, like so many, creates a sense of division among us. I would say that it creates a sense of division within us as individuals...I understand the inner conflict of joy at the return of the Lord and the dread of a terrible holocaust that it may be linked to.
Please dont cause division when it is not necessary. You guys knew what I was referring to.
It was not my intention to cause division per se
however I suppose I did want to divide our certainty in Christ from our certainty of end times interpretations. Christians have always looked forward to the end, but our current Gospel has become so apocalyptic. Many times in the forum here I have mentioned my childhood growing under the prophetic mushroom clouds of Hal Lindsey and other prophetic gurus who converted Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation into daily headlines, and envisioned locusts as helicopters and fiery judgment as nuclear weapons. I must admit, there appears much validity in these interpretations, but there is a dark side that I dont think we Christians pays enough attention to. Some look at American military power and accuse America of rising arrogance but I believe it is rising fear that is awakening the sleeping giant.
1000 years ago Christians also feared the end of the world with the new millennium. Yet the difference from them and us is that we have the power to bring an apocalypse on our own.
Consider a few examples. We Christians in this country by in large support the nation of Israel, which is a fine thing. Our public support is leveraged into American military support, which is no secret thing. Yet many of us who see Israels' right to defend herself militarily as almost a biblical mandate, would not condone US participation in that same conflict, nor do we cotton to Russia selling arms to Iran. Now I understand why it is so important to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. The whole world is linked to her.
Do we all remember that many Christians were saying that the invasion of Iraq was the fulfillment of a Bible prophecy that Babylon would be destroyed? What is our Christian message to the Islamic jihadist? What attitudes are being nurtured in our children that will result in actions tens years from now?
My point here is that if we believe that war is inevitable for us all in the next few years...how can we think to avoid it? Indeed even as I ask the question many readers will scoff and say. "You can't...it's in the bible." Yes, we know that the end will come, but we cannot know that the next war will signify the return of Jesus. After all he could come like a thief this very day.
Meanwhile millions of American Christians, as well as millions of religiously fascinated bystanders, don't believe the world can survive another ten years. Like a school of fish moving together, we become a type of consciousness that affects the world through our message, our politics, and ultimately our actions. Even our evangelism has moved, by in large, away from starting long term multi-generational works like the Salvation Army to getting people saved in a single meeting so they can be ready when the end comes. I would go so far to suggest that humanism has grown partly because of the vacuum the Church created when she withdrew from investing into humanity to invest in her own spirituality. Never have we had more prophets among us then now
and never have we been more insignificant in relation to the full ministry of Jesus.
Does it require prophetic talent to perceive we stand at the brink of a terrible war? Not at all. Rational fear can paint the picture just fine. Indeed, contrary to those who see American military power as a sign of rising arrogance, I see it as a sign of rising fears. We fearful Americans can see the biblical picture coming together. We are already assembled in the Middle East ready to start World War III because we know that peace is impossible. Next we can see China and Russia coming down there to protect the diminishing oil reserves. The end of this age is soon coming. Yet
what if all that happens is not the fulfillment of our hopes and dreams, but simply the worst war in human history? What if Jesus time is not yet? Are there prophets among us who will guarantee that when the smoke clears Jesus will be on His throne is Jerusalem? Of course not. BTW I am not among those who do not believe he will never return
I believe he most certainly will.
No doubt, because I dare to question these things, some will in turn question the Spirit within me. Like I said, this is a controversial subject even within the individual. Now I really do understand and relate to the hope that we often express in these situations. Maybe we feel helpless and somehow prophetic interpretation of these horrible events is our anchor in the storm.
Libera me, Domine, in die illa tremenda. Dies illa, dies irae, calamitatis et miseriae.
Diane was correct. I grabbed this dramitic latin text on calamity and wrath (removing the word eternity) to identify with those early Christians at the turn of the millinium who understandably did not want bad things to happen to them. ;-)
Wrath, calamity, and misery are apt descriptions of war, which is what I believe this thread is about. I realize that some perceive this thread about the return of Christ, but it was my exact point to show how meshed our message of hope has become meshed with an apocalypse in our lifetime. Certainly our hope in Christ will not end in eternal calamity
but it could bring calamity on others if we do not understand the forces we might unwittingly unleash when we assume war is Gods plan. This is especially true for Christians living in a superpower nation.
If Im wrong to question all this apocalyptic fever then I am happy as a lark. In all honest its hard to imagine this planet surviving another generation
but I brought 3 children into this world and Im obligated to prepare them for the future anyways. For their sakes, I do not think my questioning of all this prophetic certainty is unhealthy. Like Diane said we must be balanced...my repsonse to these things is in the spirit of that balance. Maybe the Lord has told some when and how the end with happen, but he hasnt told me. Now my imagination does runaway at times, like it did when I was a child imagining the Soviet Union destroying America like many predicted. (I think an interesting book would be to study the impact that the Cold War had upon American Christianity. I thnk it would be very revealing.)
My apologies if I seem divisive. I know it may seem humanistic, but I hope and pray there is not a war at all and that Lord does come like a thief in the night without a single mushroom cloud to mark the occasion. I don't think the Lord forbids such prayers.
Blessings brothers and sisters,
| 2006/5/12 17:32||Profile|
| Re: Not again|
Quote:Here is a little balance:
without a single mushroom cloud to mark the occasion
For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one [part] under heaven, shineth unto the other [part] under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.
and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.
6 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: 7 but it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.
8 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.
9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
I think, sometimes, we forget it is possible 'immediately' to be in the Spirit. It is instant transport. It does not take 'time' to travel and certainly not, for the Son of Man to come back as He ascended ... yes in a cloud, but, not in a mushroom cloud...
and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11 which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
| 2006/5/12 19:26|
| Re: Looking through the eyes of faith|
World news such as this article reminds me of the infamous ancient newscast episode when ten reporters returned to the Israelites with news about the giants in the Promised Land. The reporters did their job, yet their reports were filtered through their own perception of God. It is no different today. Reporters typically filter their observations through their eyes of unbelief. And by far, most of their audience accepts their perception because they also see world events through the eyes of unbelief.
I am convinced that God, in his sovereignty, allows these threats to arise in order to test the faith of his children. That would be nothing new for him; we see that all through scripture.
I dont want to diminish the actuality of the modern-day giants in Iran. Yet, I wonder: Does the household of God look at these reports through the eyes of fear or faith ?
Of course, we Christians all respond unhesitatingly: Why, faith, of course! Yet I wonder, why do our thoughts instinctively go to the Lords return every time we see dark clouds? Could our response possibly reveal that fear lurks in our minds, and our faith is weak? So, thinking about the Lords return becomes like an escape valve for our anxiety.
A faith response is vastly different than a fear response.
In the letters to the Thessalonians Paul addressed believers who, even then, were expecting an imminent return of Christ. I believe that his exhortations still apply to us today. A faith response is required of us too. Whether or not we know the latest news should make little difference to us. We persevere in faith regardless:
Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.1 Thes 3:10
for this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. 1 Thes 3:5
Those who lack faith are not busy; they are busybodies
. 2 Thes. 3: 11 May God reveal to me where I am a busybody - merely running after bits of juicy information just for curiosity.
I believe that Christs return is an unexpected surprise only for those who do NOT have faith just as in the days of Noah. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light.. I suspect that those who live by faith and Spirit will be able to discern when his time is at hand - they will be in tune to his Spirit.
I do not believe that Christ is coming today, or tomorrow. Before our Lord returns the household of God will go through intense refining of faith. That, I believe is what God has revealed to me. We will have many Peter-sifting type of experiences - when our self-assurance in is demolished. We will have our times of bitter weeping when we hear the "cock crow" and the Spirit bears down on us, and we realize that our faith and love is not nearly what we thought it was.
May we all invite God do that work in us - as painful as it may be - so that when the fires are hotter, we will be able to stand our ground - in faith and persevere in love.
Gods calling all of us is the same as it was in Pauls day.
Let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up
1 Thes. 5:11
Be joyful always;
give thanks in all circumstances,
do not put out the Spirits fire,
do not treat prophesies with contempt.
Hold on to the good.
Avoid every kind of evil. 1 Thes. 5:16-22
Never tire of doing what is right. 2 Thes. 3: 13
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life,
to mind your own business
and to work with your hands
so that your DAILY life may win the RESPECT of outsiders
. 1Thes. 4:12
| 2006/5/13 9:19||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
I do not believe his return is imminent. I do not believe that he is coming today, or tomorrow. Why? Because he has not revealed it to me.
Hate to even pull this out of context and am guessing that this may not have came out as you intended ... But, that last part there is troubling, where do we ascribe to an idea that these things will be told us in advance and solitary? Isn't this the same trouble we have with the modern day prophetic forecasters or fortune tellers? It's not a pointed or accusatory question, just a concern.
| 2006/5/13 12:38||Profile|
| Re: that great day|
am guessing that this may not have came out as you intended
While you were posting this, I changed some words. Clearly, the parable of the ten virgins reveals that five were ready and waiting for the moment to arrive.
But Noah knew when the time had come for judgment, Abraham knew when God's judgment would fall on Sodom and Gomorah... When the day came God revealed it. In the same way I feel that when the time comes those who are walking with God will know. I could be wrong though.
Those who in the past picked out some year or day down the road obviously didn't get it from God. No one knows the day or hour.
EDIT: If we knew a return date down the road, I suspect that our faith would never become strong.
| 2006/5/13 12:46||Profile|
| Re: Not again - to Diane|
Thank you for this exposition.
Quote:I too noticed that verse in Thessalonians, which you quoted. Here is the whole section in the KJV.
But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light.. I suspect that those who live by faith and Spirit will be able to discern when his time is at hand - they will be in tune to his Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 5
1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2 For [b]yourselves[/b] [u]know perfectly[/u] that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3 For when [b]they[/b] shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4 [b]But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief[/b].
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: [b]we are not of the night, nor of darkness[/b].
6 [b]Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober[/b].
It is not a stretch to see what Paul is saying - that if we are [u]watching[/u] as we should (in prayer, and with the eyes of our discerning the signs the Lord foretold), we will not be surprised by His return.
Quote:Then you say this
I believe that Christs return is an unexpected surprise only for those who do not have faith just as in the days of Noah.
Quote:I really want to challenge, ever so gently, the thought that 'our faith' can ever be sufficient for what we must believe into.
Before our Lord returns the household of God will go through intense refining of faith. That, I believe is what God has revealed to me. We will have many Peter-sifting type of experiences - when our self-assurance in is demolished. We will have our times of bitter weeping when we hear the "cock crow" and the Spirit bears down on us, and [b]we realize that our faith and love is not nearly what we thought it was[/b].
It may be my own past sin and weakness which forced me to call out to the Lord for [b]His faith[/b], but, I could not be where I am now - in peace with Him and at rest in my spirit - if I had depended on 'my' faith.
I notice you say 'faith and love'. I know these are closely linked, but, they are very different from each other, and a struggle with one, need not indicate a struggle with the other. We are uniquely called to our ministries.
Also, we are called to [b]the obedience of faith[/b].
By whom we have received grace and apostleship, [b]for obedience to [u]the[/u] faith[/b] among all nations, for his name:
But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations [b]for the obedience of faith[/b]:
Perhaps I had to face this shakiness very early on in my searching for contact with God, but I do never [i]let myself[/i] consider for a second, now, that [b]His faith[/b] will not accomplish all that He intends it to. (This is a discipline of thought.)
His faith is more than sufficient. I can believe that. I hold His faithfulness. I trust His faith. Maybe, if I have faith now, it is because He has given me His faith.... faith, of God.
As I've been reading the New Testament this year, one of the questions to which I sought an answer, was 'What sort of things pushed Jesus to the edge of His good naturedness?' That's when I began to notice His repeated exasperation with the [b]lack of faith[/b] in Israel.
Young Mark 11:22
And Jesus answering saith to them, `Have faith [b]of[/b] God;
It is not a surprise, therefore, that He exhorts His disciples to 'Hold (the) faith of God'. I found it immensely helpful to hear this point drawn out, once, in a sermon. You will find other allusions to 'the faith of Christ', in the New Testament. I hope this opens a door of hope in your thinking.
| 2006/5/13 13:22|
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11
If Muslims and Christians are jumping for joy at the prospect of armmegeddon...can we blame the world for fearing and hating religion?
Mike quoting Amos 5:18 is right on. If these things are going to be taking place we ought to be living holy and sharing Christ with this dying world. Are we prepared to meet God ourselves with the work of our lifes? The more these things begin to happen the more I am desiring to be a actual representation of Christ's body on this earth, to be able to speak to people saying as Christ: "don't be afraid, just believe."
The church of Jesus Christ needs to take seriously the commitment to enter into warfare on our knees in prayer. I recommend people to watch this video for this concept of the only redemption america and christianity has to see the gospel spread and these things turn around:
The Power of Prayer (video) by Keith Daniel
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
| 2006/5/13 13:31||Profile|
| Re: Not again|
Quote:This is not the picture which I get, Greg, but, I know others believe they see it.
for this concept of the only redemption america and christianity has to see the gospel spread [b]and these things turn around[/b]:
I would like to understand more. Can put some scripture to this hope?
| 2006/5/13 15:27|