The Rapture Won’t Happen Today – False End Time Predictions

Today is my 30th birthday. As I sit starring out at the clouds that seem to float faster than usual, I can’t help but remember that while I sit here relaxing, Christians around the world are worried that Jesus is coming back in two short days, on September 23.

For at least the past 5 years, pastors and people in the prophecy community have been counting down to this date. First it was the tetrad blood moons in 2015 which would definitely be the hallmark of Jesus’ return, despite the fact that these tetrads aren’t rare.

As those dates came and went, other heavenly “signs” were supposed proof that Jesus’ return is imminent. Now with the August eclipse, the multitude of hurricanes (during hurricane season) and North Korea, an enemy the US has been engaged with for more than 50 years, these are supposed to be the obvious hallmarks of Jesus’ return.

It frustrates me because the Bible is clear:

You’ll begin to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See to it that you don’t panic. These things must take place, but the end won’t have come yet, because nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. But all these things are only a beginning of agonies.” – Matthew 24:6-8 ISV

While of course some claim that this was only speaking of the destruction of the 2nd Jewish Temple in 70AD, we see that the Roman campaign wasn’t known for “famines and earthquakes in various places.” Likewise, the 2nd coming of Jesus won’t simply come because of war and natural disasters.

It seems as if the pre-tribulation crowd, the most common theology in Western Christianity, has simply forgotten the other things that must happen before Jesus’ return.

“Then they’ll hand you over to suffer and will kill you, and you’ll be hated by all the nations on account of my name. 10 Then many people will fall away, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people, 12 and because lawlessness will increase, the love of many people will grow cold. 13 But the person who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the inhabited world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.– Matthew 24:9-14 ISV

While outside of the Western world, Christians face severe persecution, in Israel, Europe, most of North and South America, Australia, Russia, South Korea, the Philippines and South Africa, Christians are able to practice their religion as one of the majority faiths in their countries. We haven’t reached the point where Christians are hated by ALL nations. Christian families aren’t betraying each other as members of their family fall away from the faith. Likewise, there are major areas of the world where the Gospel hasn’t been proclaimed, such as the countries strangled by Islam and/or communism.

15 So when you see the destructive desecration, mentioned by the prophet Daniel, standing in the Holy Place (let the reader take note), 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 17 Anyone who’s on the housetop must not come down to get what is in his house,18 and anyone who’s in the field must not turn back to get his coat.

19 How terrible it will be for women who are pregnant or who are nursing babies in those days! 20 Pray that it may not be in winter or on a Sabbath when you flee, 21 because at that time there will be great suffering, the kind that hasn’t happened from the beginning of the world until now and certainly won’t ever happen again. 22 If those days hadn’t been shortened, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened.

Has the 3rd Jewish Temple been rebuilt where there’s a possibility that a desecration in the Holy Place could even take place? Have those in Judea fled? Have Sabbath laws become the law of the land, so the city gates will trap believers inside the city of Jerusalem, when it’s time to flee? NO!

Too many churches erroneously teach that Christians won’t face hard times and Jesus will rapture us before things on earth get tough. The Bible teaches us otherwise. Throughout the Bible, both men and women of God faced trials, tribulation, uncertainty, yet God still had His hand over them. So while they had to go through hard times, they were never alone. Likewise, when we face trials and tribulations as Jesus’ return comes nearer, we can be confident that while God won’t remove these trials, He will be with us always. We will never face these persecutions alone. God will remember us as He cuts those trying days short.

Churches are doing a great disservice by teaching the erroneous doctrine of pre-tribulation rapture and devoting countless hours to working out the days or the times of Christ’s return. When people aren’t raptured and rather face persecution, the Church will experience the “great falling away” and the Church will have no one to blame but themselves.

It’s easy to hold people’s attention when you play into their fears – and their hopes – that Jesus will return on X date. It’s difficult to hold people’s attention when you tell them about the trials they’ll face and how they will need to hold fast to their faith. It’s hard to teach others about who Jesus is and how to defend their faith when most people want simple, inoffensive, non-committal answers. People want to feel safe without having to do anything, which… well, that’s not how God works. We’ll have to give up everything to follow Jesus – and that’s not always simple, inoffensive and it definitely requires commitment.

While the world may seem like a scary place, and the teachings of those who try to predict, to the day, of Jesus’ return may feel comforting, it’s important to remember that we can be strong in our weaknesses because Jesus is with us. We don’t need to be afraid. We don’t need to put our trust in bad theology. God has given us the tools to bravely stand up for our faith, even unto death. We can face this coming storm boldly, because we know that Jesus is with us until the end.

Until the Temple is rebuilt, ignore these fruitless arguments concerning Jesus’ return. Instead, rest in Jesus’ finished work on the Cross and the knowledge that He is with you until the end.

 

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Born this way: sexual sin + serving God

One of the most controversial issues that has faced Christianity over the course of the past 20 something years is – what to do about homosexuality? While some denominations are allowing homosexuals to pastor their congregations, and others are allowing them to marry in their churches, it’s important to note that we were all born in sin. (Ephesians 2:1-3) (Titus 3:3)

God has given us the ability to become “overcomers” regarding all types of sin – not just homosexuality. (1 Corinthians 10:13) While yes, we’re human and we can and easily do fail, we don’t have to be slaves to what we know is not God’s design for us. We can leave behind our old ways and support each other to make sure we don’t stumble again.

While some denominations have boldly spoken about their support of homosexual behavior, we must not lie to those who are struggling with sexual sin – they must change their behavior. (2 Peter 2:9-10 )It’s important that Christians stress that we can’t serve both God and our old sin nature. We have to make a choice and we must speak the truth at all costs.

“You adulterers! Don’t you know that friendship with the world means hostility with God? So whoever wants to be a friend of this world is an enemy of God.” – James 4:4

(I posted the following to Quora on July 16, 2017 in response to the following:

“I’m queer, short and small (some of my body parts are girly in size) (5′7″), fatherless, unemployed, neglected, lonely and lost… But I still believe God exists& that he has the right to do whatever he wants to cause he made, despite it, in my own way try to love& serve him even if he hates me.” [SIC])

God doesn’t hate you. God hates sin, because He is Holy and because He loves you. I want to let you know that when it comes to sin, we were all born this way. Sexual immorality, lust, hatred, greed, hatred of God’s laws – these were our default behaviors. (Psalm 51:5-6)

The difference is that when we decide that we are going to reject Satan’s authority and transfer that authority over to Jesus, we become “new creations.” (2 Corinthians 5) This is much like renouncing your citizenship of your birth country when you swear allegiance to a new country in which you’re becoming a citizen.

When we’re Christians and we sin, it grieves us because this attitude, this behavior, is incompatible with our new life as a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) We want to be back into our new default behavior, which is “Holiness.” (Romans 6) God is Holy, so we must be Holy. (Leviticus 20:7)

Because we live in a fallen world and do not yet have a glorified body with Jesus, (1 Corinthians 15) we have to make the decision every day to die to ourselves and the desires of the flesh. It’s hard! It’s uncomfortable! It’s a struggle! (Romans 7) But… we are victorious in Christ and through Him, all things are possible. (Philippians 4:13)

You have to make a decision, do you serve one master – sin nature, desires of the flesh, Satan – or will you choose to die to yourself every day, to serve God? You can not serve 2 opposing masters, so you must decide for yourself. (Revelation 3:15-16)

Christians, even back in Peter’s day, came out of a sinful lifestyle. The people you used to run with will question why you are no longer choosing to do the things that you once did. If it happened to those in Jesus’ day, it will happen to you too.

“Therefore, since the Messiah suffered in a mortal body, you, too, must arm yourselves with the same determination, because the person who has suffered in a mortal body has stopped sinning,

2 so that he can live the rest of his mortal life guided, not by human desires, but by the will of God.

For you spent enough time in the past doing what the gentiles like to do, living in sensuality, sinful desires, drunkenness, wild celebrations, drinking parties, and detestable idolatry.

4 They insult you now because they are surprised that you are no longer joining them in the same excesses of wild living.” – 1 Peter 4:3-4

Now onto the second matter. It does not matter if you’re small, thin, have feminine features – (Exodus 4:10-14)there is not a default look that men must have, so put that out of your mind. Likewise God is not a respector of persons (Romans 2:9-13) – He is not impressed, nor disappointed by your material goods or social status. He is a champion of the widows and the fatherless. (Psalm 68:5-6) He will be your refuge (Psalm 9:9) – if you’ll make the decision to make Him, rather than the desires of your flesh, the Lord of your life.

Photo: Levi Saunders

Christians get this commandment wrong all of the time. Do you?

Christians the world over have been threatening their children and grandchildren with punishment if they so much as think about saying “Oh my God!” These Christians couldn’t be more misguided.

“You are not to use my name to deceive, thereby defiling the name of your God. I am the Lord.”  -Leviticus 19:12 ISV

Taking the Lord’s name in vain isn’t about using God’s name as a swear word or saying “OMG.” You take the Lord’s name, using His name, in vain, (Leviticus 19:12) when you claim to be His child, grafted into the vine, (Romans 11:11-22) a believer of Christ, but your fruit, (Matthew 7:15-20) your works show that you don’t belong to him.

I take my husband’s name because we are one family. I take God’s name because I am His adopted child. (Ephesians 1:5) If I am not married to my husband, I don’t get to take his name. Likewise, if I’m not God’s child, I don’t get to take His name by calling myself a Christian.

Legally, I could change my last name to pretend that I had a relationship with anyone (for example, if I changed my last name to “Kardashian,”) but I’d be taking that name in vain. I have no relationship with the Kardashians, so I’d be taking the name in vain – clearly using it on false pretenses to increase my standing among other people.

The Pharisees constantly bragged about being Abraham’s seed and the “chosen people” and children of God. (Galatians 3:29) Jesus Himself accused them of taking God’s name in vain as He said they were of their father, the Devil. (John 8)

“You are doing your father’s actions.” They told him, “We’re not illegitimate children. We have one Father, God himself.”

“Jesus told them, ‘If God were your Father, you would’ve loved me, because I came from God and am here. I haven’t come on my own accord, but he sent me. Why don’t you understand what I’ve said? It’s because you can’t listen to my words. You belong to your father the Devil, and you want to carry out the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and has never stood for truth, since there is no truth in him. Whenever he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies…'”  -John 8:41-44 ISV

It is important to note that taking God’s name in vain is a sin, like all sins, that begins in the heart. When a person takes God’s name in vain, he first rejects God in his heart, but verbalizes his approval of and connection with God to bring himself glory.

“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and it is those things that make a person unclean. It is out of the heart that evil thoughts come, as well as murder, adultery, sexual immorality, stealing, false testimony, and slander.” -Matthew 15:18-19 ISV

If you want to honor God and make sure that you’re not taking His name in vain, make sure that your actions, your fruit, your works, testify to the fact that you are God’s child. Don’t honor God with your lips only – make sure your actions show who you really are.

“Then the Lord said: “Because these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, worship of me has become merely like rules taught by human beings.”  – Isaiah 29:13 ISV (referenced in Matthew 15:8)

TL;DR – “Faking my name for personal gain, is taking a name in vain. ”

Leviticus 19-12

 

Photo: Kristina Flour

If you’re obsessed with modesty, you’re the type of person Paul warned about.

Have you noticed that the Church seems preoccupied with policing the clothing of women – from the smallest of baby girls to the oldest of women – the Church is obsessed with something they call “modesty.” Maybe you’ve seen it at your church – women in denim skirts that touch the floor, or women in spaghetti-strap maxi dresses with a white t-shirt underneath at a funeral – I know I have.

If it’s what’s on the inside that counts, why is it that the Church puts so much emphasis on how people look outside of church services?

The only thing that matters is, “what does the Bible ACTUALLY say?” Let’s use the actual Bible, in the original Greek, rather than an English translation. 1 Corinthians 12:23. The word used is the Greek word “εὐσχημοσύνην” (euschémosuné – Strong’s Concordance #2157) which means, “decorum, becomingness.” Therefore, are you dressed correctly for the occasion? It has nothing to do with being “too tight” or “too revealing.”

Is it proper decorum to wear a bathing suit to a church service? No. Is it proper decorum to wear a bathing suit to swim at a church pool party? Yes. Is it proper to wear a dress suit to church? Yes. Is it proper decorum to wear a dress suit while swimming at a church pool party? No. The Bible is saying that Christian women should know the difference!

Decorum is all about acting appropriately for the position that you hold and the event that you are at. Christians aren’t supposed to stand out for all the wrong reasons – like being inappropriately dressed for the occasion. Christians draw negative attention to themselves by not having proper decorum. We see this at the Wedding Banquet parable in Matthew 22:1-14. A guest is kicked out for not wearing the proper wedding clothes. It’s not that they were immodest or revealing, NO! It’s that they were  dressed inappropriately for the wedding (like wearing a sports jersey or jeans to a wedding would be, while modest, inappropriate.)

In 1 Timothy 2:9, the word “αἰδοῦς” (Aidos – Strong’s Concordance #127) is translated as “modesty” but in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, it can also mean “reverence.” This is the only verse in the Bible that this word even appears. It’s important to note that there is a play on words here, if you’re not familiar with Koine Greek. The word derived from “κοσμέω” (Cosmos – Strong’s Concordance #2889) means both “adorn” and “world” and is translated as such throughout the Bible. So women aren’t to adorn / make their world be about hairstyles and jewelry. When you understand the actual passage, you see it’s about not being materialistic, and being concerned with being a good person on the inside.

Women today, especially Christian women, make clothing and hairstyles their world. How many “modest” bloggers spend all of their time making outfits of the day, blogging about modest fashion, policing others’ clothing and acting “holier-than-thou” because they’re soooo “modest?” Even if you dress like a frump, if you’re like many “modest” bloggers, you’re being the kind of woman 1 Timothy talks about NOT being.

Nakedness was our original condition before sin. We only covered up because of sin. We only feel shame because of sin. The high priests and Aaron only covered their thighs and up to their neck, because they were in sin – they had no covering before God, because Jesus hadn’t come yet. We have Jesus. Our sin is atoned for. We have no shame because we are right with God. When we are under the covering of Jesus, it’s as if we’re back in the garden, before sin. Nakedness is not a sin. Being naked or showing skin isn’t automatically improper – it depends on the occasion. Likewise, showing skin doesn’t mean you’re trying to lure others into sexual sin. Christians need common sense!

Photo: Viliman Viliman