The Churches’ Hellish Teaching On Hell

Some years ago, during my morning walk, my thoughts were about the various religions of the world. Each religion has its own theme. There is a religion of fear, a religion of sex (phallic worship), a religion of legalism, a religion of hedonism, and even a religion of ultimate personal extinction, or nirvana. But what about the Christian religion? It is supposed to be a religion of love. But underlying that love is a terrifying fear in most Christians, and by ‘most’ I mean the members of the churches that believe in an eternal hell fire for the incorrigible wicked. And such churches are the vast majority in Christianity. These churches with their blazing beliefs in the afterlife have fear as one of their main components for drawing and keeping their followers – the fear of being eternally scorched alive in unquenchable flames if they don’t accept salvation on the terms of the church.

As I pondered these thoughts during my walk, I saw a booklet lying in the dust of the road. The title, coincidentally, was: ‘What Does the Bible Say About Hell?’ The booklet was published by Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Here are two passages from that book on the subject of hell:

While the Bible says that most people are headed for the lake of fire, many of them don’t look as though they deserve a fire reserved for the devil and his angels. Evil men like Stalin or Hitler or serial killers might seem to qualify, but not the rank-and-file of people who seem to live basically decent lives. Yet from the Bible’s point of view, such evaluations are extremely misleading and even deceptive. The Bible shows us that the fires and blackness of hell will make eternal statements about (1) the true wickedness of public enemies and (2) the true wickedness of good people.

Bertrand Russell said he decided to become an atheist when he read the words of Jesus about hell…He knew that it doesn’t make sense to say you believe in Christ while rejecting what He and His book say about an eternal “lake of fire”.

So is poor Bertrand, for whom I have a lot of respect for the profundity of his thoughts and the blunt honesty of his writings, going to be cast headlong into the lake of fire because he rejected belief in a God that would do such thing as roast alive people who did not believe in his Son?

The subject of hell is among the most vital for the understanding, peace, and joy of God’s people in every church. And because it is so vital, Satan has taken extra efforts to ensure that this subject is among the most misunderstood ones among God’s servants in all the ages, including in our generation.

Hell, as taught by most Christian churches (except for some ‘heretical cults’ – about which I will write later in this message), is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, reasons people become atheists or skeptics. For no sensible person can reconcile a loving merciful God, as seen in the person of Christ, with a God who burns his incorrigible children over and over again in hellfire, not for a few years, but forever and ever and ever without end. That is the official teaching of the traditional Christian churches, foremost of which is the Catholic church. That is, of course, the official teaching of some other religions, too.

Listen to what one prominent member of a Christian denomination says about the subject of hell:

It was my first visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. I was standing before The Last Judgment, a painting by the 15th-century Dutch artist Jan van Eyck.

The words, large and in quotes, were intended as an alternate title for the painting. They were chilling in their impact: “The Case Against Christianity”.

They stopped me cold.

What had prompted the visitor to level such a charge?

I took a closer look at the painting. At the top of the canvas, in heaven, sits an impassive Jesus, surrounded by a host of angels and an adoring multitude of the saved. At the bottom, in hell, is a writhing mass of the damned, suffering brutal torture at the hands of hideous demons.

The contrast between the rather prim majesty of heaven and the harrowing nightmare of hell is striking. And – as the note-writing visitor had intended – it poignantly frames an age-old question:

How can the concept of eternal suffering in hell be reconciled with a God of mercy and love?

For many, this is indeed a case against Christianity. They want nothing to do with a Christian God who could sit back and watch his children roast for eternity in a subterranean chamber of horrors. A deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness, they feel, could not be the true God.*
‘The Battle Over Hell’ By Keith Stump. Copyright Plain Truth Ministries, 2001. Keith Stump is an author, scriptwriter, historian, and archaeologist.

This writer’s church takes a neutral doctrinal position on hell, which means that they are not overly resistant to the idea of sinners being condemned to burn eternally in hell.

However, most mainstream churches have a clearer position. The book ‘Christian Beliefs – Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know’, published by Zondervan, states the following about one of the core beliefs of Christianity:

At the final judgment, those who have rejected the claims of Jesus will go to a place of eternal punishment. That place of eternal punishment, the Bible tells us, is hell.

The Bible’s descriptions of hell are difficult to read, and they should be deeply disturbing to us. Jesus speaks of hell as “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels,” and he says that those who have rejected him will also go there (Matt. 25:41). It is a place where the “worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). It is a “place of torment” (Luke 16:28). John tells us it is a place where those who rejected Jesus will, along with the devil and his angels, “drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger” and “be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the presence of the Lamb” (Rev. 14:10). The “smoke of their torment” will go on “forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night” (Rev. 14:11).

At the end of the chapter on this subject of hell, there are ‘Questions for Review and Application’. Among the questions are, ‘What does the Bible tell us about hell? How does your understanding of hell make you feel? Why does it make you feel that way?’

Let me give you my own answers to those three questions, assuming I believed the churches’ teaching about hell, as outlined in this book.

Answer to the first part of the question: If that’s what the Bible tells me about hell, I don’t want to ever keep the Bible a single day longer in my house, but cast it into the furnace. Instead, I would go and purchase a copy of Richard Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’ and read a passage from it as my daily devotional.

Next answer: It makes me feel horrified, terrified, and repulsed by such ‘God’ as much as I am by the Devil.

For the last answer, I repeat a part of the quote by the guy who visited the Metropolitan Museum:

How can the concept of eternal suffering in hell be reconciled with a God of mercy and love? For many, this is indeed a case against Christianity. They want nothing to do with a Christian God who could sit back and watch his children roast for eternity in a subterranean chamber of horrors. A deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness, they feel, could not be the true God.

But praise be to my Great God, that my beliefs about him are as different from some of the teachings of mainstream Christianity as God is different from Satan!

Incidentally, it is the subject of hell and the eternal burning of sinners in it that God used as the channel to bring me back to his Son, after I had decided to disbelieve in Christ and had thrown all my decades-old collection of Bibles and Christian literature into the garbage bin. I have told the story of my re-conversion to Christianity elsewhere in some other message, but it is very relevant in this message too.

In 1999, after I cast away all that I had been taught from childhood about God and Christ, I began my search from scratch to find the true God and his revelation to man. Finally, I was able to shortlist my findings to two sources that claimed to be the Word of God. They both had many similar teachings, and I couldn’t discern which was the true one and which was the counterfeit, or if both were counterfeits. I knew both could not be equally true, for in many of their core teachings they contradicted each other.

In my utter confusion, I knelt down at my living room couch with the two books before me. I placed my right hand on one and my left on the other, and lifting my face up to heaven, I cried out, ‘O God, whoever you are, if one of these is your Word, show me which one, that I may seek you and know you through your revelation in it.’

Never in my life was I so confused, never before did I need an answer like I needed then. For if there was no God to answer me and show me what he wanted of me, I knew my life, already having reached rock bottom, could go no further down. I needed a way out, and if that meant embracing a new religion and denouncing my old one, I would surely do it, I determined. This appeal to whoever called himself God was my last attempt to keep my spiritual sanity.

Immediately after the prayer, I opened one book. I read the first passage I saw. I gained nothing new, but only what I had been reading all my life till a few months earlier when I threw away my religion. Then I opened the second book, and the passage was about hell and hellfire and what ‘God’ does to sinners even while he is burning them alive in the flames (he gives them ‘new skin’, so they could feel the pain all over again, and this cycle continues forever), and immediately an absolute conviction filled my heart about which book was not the Word of God.

I began a slow restudy of the first book, the Bible, and over the years I learned that the God of this book too put sinners in hellfire and burnt them alive in it. But I also came to understand that the hell believed in by Catholics, by Protestants, and by Christians in most mainstream denominations, except for perhaps a dozen or so relatively smaller sects – usually considered as cults by mainstream Christianity – is very, very similar to what the counterfeit book terrorizes sinners with.

Mainstream Christianity’s beliefs about hell is very similar to that of another religion, which teaches that God gives the people in hell ‘new skin’ after the first skin is burnt in hell, so they could feel the pain all over again, and this cycle continues forever.

Here is a section from a book about hell published by the Catholic church. Please read all the quoted passages, for you, if you are new to this subject, will get a clear understanding of what all Catholics, and most Protestants, believe about hell.

‘The Hell There Is!’

The doctrine of hell is so frightening that numerous heretical sects end up denying the reality of an eternal hell. The Unitarian-Universalists, the Seventh-day Adventists, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Christadelphians, the Christian Scientists, the Religious Scientists, the New Agers, and the Mormons – all have rejected or modified the doctrine of hell so radically that it is no longer a serious threat. In recent decades, this decay has even invaded mainstream Evangelicalism, and a number of major Evangelical figures have advocated the view that there is no eternal hell – the wicked will simply be annihilated.

But the eternal nature of hell is stressed in the New Testament. For example, in Mark 9:47-48 Jesus warns us, “It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” And in Revelation 14:11, we read: “And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever; and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.’ (CCC 1035).

In his 1994 book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Pope John Paul II wrote that too often “preachers, catechists, teachers . . . no longer have the courage to preach the threat of hell” (p. 183)…

The early Church Fathers were also absolutely firm on the reality of an eternal hell, as the following quotes show…

Second Clement
‘But when they see how those who have sinned and who have denied Jesus by their words or by their deeds are punished with terrible torture in unquenchable fire…’ (Second Clement 17:7 [A.D. 150])

Justin Martyr
‘but the wicked, clothed in eternal sensibility, he will commit to the eternal fire, along with the evil demons’. (First Apology 52 [A.D. 151])

Athenagoras
‘or if we fall with the rest [of mankind], a worse one and in fire; for God has not made us as sheep or beasts of burden, a mere incidental work, that we should perish and be annihilated.’ (Plea for the Christians 31 [A.D. 177])

Hippolytus
‘while to the lovers of evil shall be given eternal punishment. The unquenchable and unending fire awaits these latter, and a certain fiery worm which does not die and which does not waste the body but continually bursts forth from the body with unceasing pain. No sleep will give them rest; no night will soothe them; no death will deliver them from punishment; no appeal of interceding friends will profit them.’ (Against the Greeks 3 [A.D. 212])

Minucius Felix
‘Nor is there either measure nor end to these torments. That clever fire burns the limbs and restores them, wears them away and yet sustains them, just as fiery thunderbolts strike bodies but do not consume them.’ (Octavius 34:12–5:3 [A.D. 226])

Cyprian of Carthage
‘An ever-burning Gehenna and the punishment of being devoured by living flames will consume the condemned; nor will there be any way in which the tormented can ever have respite or be at an end. Souls along with their bodies will be preserved for suffering in unlimited agonies.’ (To Demetrian 24 [A.D. 252])

Lactantius
‘The sacred writings inform us in what manner the wicked are to undergo punishment. For because they have committed sins in their bodies, they will again be clothed with flesh, that they may make atonement in their bodies; and yet it will not be that flesh with which God clothed man, like this our earthly body, but indestructible, and abiding forever, that it may be able to hold out against tortures and everlasting fire…The same divine fire, therefore, with one and the same force and power, will both burn the wicked and will form them again, and will replace as much as it shall consume of their bodies, and will supply itself with eternal nourishment…Thus, without any wasting of bodies, which regain their substance, it will only burn and affect them with a sense of pain.’ (Divine Institutes 7:21 [A.D. 307])

NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors. Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004. IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827 permission to publish this work is hereby granted.  Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004”   Source:catholic.com

What if you were given the responsibility in the Kingdom of God to deal with sinners in the city over which you have been crowned the king?(See Luke 19:17 which shows that you, if you remain faithful to God, will become the ruler of several cities when Christ comes) What, if some sinners, despite all the corrective punishments given to them, still reject God’s way and, would, if allowed to live, continue in that wicked way forever, causing great misery to themselves and to others? They have to be destroyed, for their own sakes and for the sake of the peace and safety of the righteous in your realm. And so, you ask the angels to bind them hand and foot and cast them into hades. As they are bound and about to be thrown into the furnace of fire, you can hear their wailing and gnashing of teeth – the remorse of the unrepentant wicked. You know they are not screaming in repentance, in which case, you would have shown them mercy. They have repeatedly proven they are incapable of repentance, and the moment they are released they would revert to their terrible ways. So the angels cast them into the pit. There are flames all around in the pit, and some of the bodies are not fully consumed yet, and maggots are feeding on the unburned portions of the flesh. Nothing can quench the flames; they are kept perpetually burning. The worms in there too never die but have a continual feasting on putrid flesh.

Now, any wicked body cast directly into the midst of the unquenchable flames would immediately be totally consumed. But apparently, in hell the flames do not shot up from the crevices everywhere at the same time, and if a portion of the unrepentant sinner’s body remains unconsumed by the flames, the maggots would make quick meal of it. But remember, all this while the wicked person is still conscious of everything going on around him, and suffers every bit of the pain as maggots gnaw into him.

So far, all this scene fits perfectly into what Catholicism and mainstream Christianity teaches. And now for the climax of the hell act.

When the screaming of the wicked in hell finally dies out, because all his body has been consumed in the flames or eaten by worms…presto, God gives him a new body (as the Catholic apologist Minucius Felix wrote, “That clever fire burns the limbs and restores them, wears them away and yet sustains them”), so he can start feeling the excruciating pain of being burnt alive or eaten alive all over again.

Most Christians do not delve too deep into what their church teaches about hell. But what I am describing here about hell is likely the official view of your denomination, unless you are a member of a cult or one of those odd churches looked down by the heavyweights in Christendom. This is the published official statement of beliefs of most traditional churches.

Now, continue to visualize yourself as the king over a certain future city in the realm of Christ. Imagine to your horror, that you find that one of your own children turns out to be an absolutely incorrigible sinner. Now, if such visualizing is impossible, as it is for me, imagine that somebody else is the king and he realizes it is his own wicked son that is being cast over the cliff into the fiery pit. The son falls with a thud on sheol’s floor and is soon fully gone up in smoke or eaten alive. Just as his screams fade out, you hear him screaming again, this time with a fresh body. And this goes on, states the venerated Christian writers, forever and ever as long as God and Satan live.

Last Judgement by Jan van Eyck

In human affairs, there is a foundational justice called the Law of Reciprocity. This Law stipulates that the punishment should fit the crime. It is not legal, or moral, even in the conscience of secular humanity to punish a man who has knocked out one front tooth of his neighbor in a fisticuffs by extracting two of his front teeth. The principle of just reciprocity is the framework within which all nations make their laws of justice. This is the principle decreed even by God in the Old Testament.

‘If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him – fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him.’   Lev 24:19-20

‘Discussions of merit, desert, blame, and punishment inevitably involve questions about the fittingness and proportionality of our responses to others, and retributive theories of punishment put the norm of reciprocity at their center. The idea is to make the punishment fit the crime.’   Wikipedia.

The eternal – trillions and trillions of years without end – punishing of the wicked for about 70 or 80 years of sin on earth makes ‘God’ the greatest criminal in the universe in the sight of secular human beings – infinitely worse than the most wicked man who lived on this planet. By comparison, Stalin and Hitler, who killed millions only once – should be canonized and venerated.

Do you now understand why so many sensible people cannot believe in God? If my only option was to believe in such a vindictive being as my savior, I would any day prefer to be eternally dead than forever alive in his kingdom. But the God who revealed himself to me has absolutely no semblance to the ‘God’ believed in by hellroast believers.

The Bible mentions another spirit who is acknowledged as ‘the god of this world’. Now this god would simply love to be given authority over the kind of hell believed in by Catholics, and most Protestant and Evangelical churches. He would even thrill to increase the pain sensitivity level in hellfire by a factor of seven.

If you, as a ruler under Christ, with the authority to cast unrepentant people into hell, would never bear to see an incorrigible member of your family suffering in full consciousness in hellfire, how much more would God not be able to bear seeing people created in his own image and likeness suffering perpetual agony. How much more sensitive is God to his people’s feelings than even a mother is sensitive to her child’s feelings!

‘Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you.’   Is 49:15

May the merciful God grant you – if you are one of those who till now have been terrified by the wrong teachings of your church – peace and joy through understanding how merciful our Father in heaven is…even to the incorrigible wicked.

Now what about all those verses in the Bible on which are based the hellish doctrines of the churches? Let’s take them one by one.

‘If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched – where “Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”‘   Mk 9:43-44

Jesus’ quote about the worm and fire is from Isaiah 66:24.

‘And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.’

The Greek word for ‘hell’ in the earlier quote is ‘Gehenna’.

The Hebrew word for ‘die’ is ‘mooth’. It means ‘to die’, but it equally means ‘put to death’, ‘cause to kill’. Nothing can cause the worm to be killed and to stop their work of consuming the flesh. (And worms normally feed on corpses, not live people, dont they?)

‘Quenched’ in Hebrew is ‘kaw-baw’, and it means ‘to extinguish’, ‘to put out’. Nothing can kaw-baw the flames while it is consuming the flesh.

The subject of hell, as taught by most Christian churches is one great, if not the greatest, reason people become atheists or skeptics.

Close Up of The Last Judgment. Wikipedia caption: “A personification of death spreads its skeletal wings over the fallen and damned, a number of whom can be identified by their headdress as members of the clergy.”

There is a deep and narrow ravine with steep, rocky sides located southwest of Jerusalem, called Hinnom. Gehenna is the Greek contraction of Hinnom (Ge Hinnom – land of Hinnom). It had been the place where the idolatrous Jews burned their children alive to Moloch and Baal. A particular part of the valley was called Tophet, or the ‘fire-stove’, where the children where burned. After the Exile, in order to show their abhorrence of the locality, the Jews made this valley the receptacle of the offal of the city, for the destruction of which a fire was kept constantly burning there. The Jews associated with this valley two ideas: that of the sufferings of the victims that had been sacrificed and that of filth and corruption. The word Gehenna – hell – thus came to signify to the Jews as the place the wicked is destined for.

After Christ begins his rule on earth, he will send his angels to gather the incorrigible wicked. The angels will bind them and throw them over the cliff into Gehenna, where they will instantly ‘perish’ – be annihilated (Mat 13:40-42; John 15:6). Part of their bodies not consumed by the flames will be eaten by worms. The decomposing bodies can be seen by the citizens of Jerusalem from the sides of the ravine.

“Month after month and week by week, everyone will come to worship me,” God says. “And then they’ll go out and look at what happened to those who rebelled against me. Corpses! Maggots endlessly eating away on them, an endless supply of fuel for fires. Everyone who sees what’s happened and smells the stench retches.”  Is 66:23-24 The Message

Nothing can put the fire and worms out of action, as long as incorrigibly wicked people continue to exist in Christ’s realm. But as his Kingdom expands over earth, there finally will be no more rebellious persons remaining and nothing more for the flames and the worms to feed on, and so these creatures of hell will cease to exist by themselves, not extinguished or destroyed by anyone. Eventually the ravine of Hinnom will be used by people to traverse from one part of Jerusalem to another. And as they walk they will be unknowingly trampling on the ashes of the wicked which remain in the area.

The whole valley [Hinnom] where dead bodies and ashes are thrown, and all the terraces out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the corner of the Horse Gate, will be holy to the Lord. The city will never again be uprooted or demolished.   Jer 31:40 NIV

“But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,” Says the Lord of hosts.   Mal 4:2-3

When the Bible speaks of ‘eternal fire’, as in Jude 7, and referred to in The Catechism of the Catholic Church, mentioned earlier, it is actually taking of the eternal effect of the fire. How do we know this. Let’s read Jude 7:

as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Sodom and Gomorrah are still not agonizing under the eternal fire. They are eternally destroyed from the face of the earth and serve as a perpetual example of the fate of the wicked.

Before I close there are three more aspects of the truth about hell that I want to show you from God’s Word, so your understanding of this subject can be more thorough.

First, in the quote from the Catholic passage above, the verse in Revelation 14:11 is used to support the doctrine of eternal burning in hell.

Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”   Rev 14:9-11

The torment with fire and brimstone refers to what the unrepentant wicked will suffer at the end of this age, when angels will pour out on them the final seven bowls of God’s wrath. One of the bowls contain torment with great heat.

Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give Him glory.   Rev 16:8-9

Even throughout the terrible seven bowls of corrective punishment, there will be people who continue willfully in their wickedness. Their flesh at one point of the pouring of the plagues will become so scorched that smoke from it will ascend into the skies and out into space and remain there forever. It is not their torment that ascends forever – as respected theologians in Catholicism and Protestantism believe – but the effect of the torment on their bodies.

The smoke ascending from the wicked will be just like the smoke that will ascend forever when the Lord destroys Edom, the enemy of Zion.

For My sword shall be bathed in heaven; indeed it shall come down on Edom, and on the people of My curse, for judgment…For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion. Its streams shall be turned into pitch, and its dust into brimstone; its land shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night or day; its smoke shall ascend forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; no one shall pass through it forever and ever.   Is 34:5,8-10 [Emphasis mine]

The second aspect of the truth I want to show you is with reference to the following verses:

Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet…These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.   Rev 19:20

The devil…was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.   Rev 20:10

Ah, what clearer passage do the hellists want than this verse to vindicate all that they taught their congregations about being burnt over and over again throughout eternity.

If you are using a King James or New King James version of the Bible, you will note that the word ‘are’ is in italics, meaning that word is not in the original Greek, but was inserted by translators of His Majesty King James to make the passage clearer (according to their understanding, received from the Church of England, which too believes in eternal roasting of sinners, especially non-Anglicans). Here are some other translations of the same verse by men with much more translating skill:

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown.   NIV

And the devil who had deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had already been thrown   The Voice

It was the same place where beast and the false prophet ‘had already been thrown’ about a thousand years earlier!

But the verse says, ‘they will be tormented day and night forever and ever’, doesn’t it? Yes, in the English translation again. Not in the Greek. Here the King James Version, but not the New King James Version, translates this portion of the original Greek correctly, as do some other versions, such as the Geneva Bible:

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.’

The phrase ‘they will be tormented’ is translated from the Greek word ‘basanisthēsontai’. This same phrase is used in Revelation 9:5, where the King James Version has got it wrong, and the New American Standard Bible got it right this time.

And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that ‘they should be tormented’ [basanisthēsontai] five months’   KJV

And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but ‘to torment’ [basanisthēsontai] for five months’   NASV

It is the devil who will be tormented day and night forever, not the two wicked men, who by then would be just ashes somewhere outside Jerusalem, and whose smoke would be floating somewhere in the cosmos.

And finally, the most popular of all the Bible verses quoted by the eternal flames proponents to validate their hellish teachings – the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus:

The rich man also died and was buried.  And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.’   Lk 16:22-25

Abraham is referring to the law of reciprocity, which is the basis of the law in the Old Testament. He was saying in effect, ‘In the earlier life, Lazarus suffered and you luxuriated. Now the roles are reversed. Fair and equitable justice.’

The former rich man doesn’t refute this justice, but if you will read the passage further, he just pleads for his brothers. He is not that wicked after all, for in the torment in hellfire his concern is more about his brothers than trying to change Abraham’s mind and save himself in the little time left before the flames consume him entirely.

The rich man is in Hades, which is a Greek word meaning ‘grave’, but translated ‘hell’ in some versions.

In the Septuagint (the ancient translation of the Old Testament into Greek), the Greek term ‘Hades’ is used to translate the Hebrew term ‘Sheol’ in, for example, Isaiah 38:18. This use refers the term hades to the abode of the dead in general, rather than the abode of the wicked…Thus too, in New Testament Greek, the Hebrew phrase ‘you will not abandon my soul to Sheol’ in Psalm 16:10 is quoted in Acts 2:27 as ‘you will not abandon my soul to Hades’…In all appearances but one, ‘Hades’ has little if any relation to afterlife rewards or punishments. The one exception is Luke’s parable of Lazarus and the rich man, in which the rich man finds himself, after death, in Hades…’   Wikipedia

In all other instances where the word Hades is used in the New Testament, it refers to the ‘grave’, except apparently in the case of the rich man and Lazarus. But, actually, in this case also, there is no need for Bible interpreters to give Hades an unauthorized new meaning. Here too it means what it means elsewhere: the grave.

The rich man awakes in the resurrection to judgment. The flames that he finds himself in could possibly be figurative – burning agony caused by mental torment, for he asks for a drop of water to parch his terrified throat, not for buckets to douse the flames around him. Even if it is a literal flame, it is not likely the flames of Gehenna, in the valley of Hinnom. When he wakes up in the resurrection, he finds a ‘world aflame’ (borrowing the title of a book about the end times by Billy Graham). The whole world is engulfed in war and destruction just preceding the Lord’s return. The resurrection happens just before Jesus descends from heaven, into the midst of history’s greatest conflagration on earth. While the righteous who will awake in this resurrection will be immediately whisked away by angels to a place of safety and be comforted for all that they suffered in the previous life, the wicked will be left in the same place. The ones who repent will be rescued and given their first chance to hear the Gospel of Christ. Those who reject it will be cast into Gehenna and destroyed with eternal destruction.

While we can never be sure what finally will befall the rich man, the very tone of the passage gives me hope that he may turn to the God of mercies and be redeemed from annihilation.

It is God’s greatest desire that not one of his children should perish, that is, be annihilated forever. That is why he sent his Son so that by believing in him, we can have eternal life. But the wicked who deliberately refuse to accept salvation will not be allowed to exist anymore – neither on earth nor in hell. They will eternally miss out on the wonderful life of the saved people in the Kingdom of God. While the righteous will be plucking fruits from the twelve trees lining the stream to Christ’s throne, the wicked will lie oblivious to all that’s going on in the universe. While the righteous will be ascending and descending on earth and other planets, the smoke of the wicked will be ascending further and further away from all habitation of the saints.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Gehenna].   Mt 10:28

Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.   Mt 13:40-43

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.’   Jn 15:6

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.   Jn 3:16. The Message

Pappa Joseph

*This and other passages are reprinted here under the ‘Fair Use’ provision of the copyright law, section 107 of which permits such usage for nonprofit educational purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

How Should Christians Respond to the Prophets Whose Prophecies Failed?

This message was written soon after the American 2020 elections. Though this message is based on the prophecies about Trump, Bible believers can use the counsels given here to respond in the right way to any prophet at any time:

The past few months have been extremely significant for earnest Christians who had been praying for Trump’s reelection. Then came the shocker. Trump was not reelected on November 3 as we had believed, a belief that was reinforced by the daily prophetic pronouncements of many preachers, both wellknown and little known.

Then we presumed that God would reelect Trump through the intervention of the Supreme Court and the Electoral college. When that too didn’t happen and Biden became president on January 20, many, perhaps most praying Christians, including me, became utterly disappointed with the prophets whose predictions failed.

Some of the preachers started apologizing for their failed prophecies, including the famous Sid Roth of It’s Supernatural program. Most others continue prophesying, with new dates for the fulfillment of their prophecies,

It’s now about ten days since a president, who supported the killing of infants in the womb, came to the presidency. Over these past 10 days, as I groaned in agony over God’s refusal to intervene and save the babies, and save America from descending back to its old ways, God began to open my eyes, and I began to see why everything happened as they happened.

Here are the two understandings God gave me:

The first understanding.

The prophets who prophesied wrongly are not wrong about their prophecies, but only about the timing of their prophecies.

Many prophets I  listened to did not mention definitely that Trump would become  President on such and such a date.

But several famous prophets I listened to did mention specific dates such as Trump becoming president before Christmas, or within a certain number of days from November 3.

Most of the other prophets who had just said that Trump would become president, without specifying a date, now encourage us to believe that Trump will become president sooner or later. Many of them, including the prophetess of God with pink hair, Kat Kerr, tell us with absolute conviction that Trump will be president in or before 2022. Kat Kerr even encouraged her listeners to celebrate Trump’s presidency in advance by eating a piece of cake, which she did in front of the camera. So I too, despite my high diabetes, bought a  juicy cake and ate it in pre-celebration of God’s intervention to reinstate the legitimate president. We have about two years to wait until we know if Trump will be president by 2022 as prophesied by Kat Kerr and others.

So the first understanding I received is: The prophets who prophesied wrongly are not necessarily wrong about their prophecies, but only about the timing of their prophecies.

The second understanding I received since the January 20 presidential inauguration is this:

God does not want our relationship with him to be based even an iota on the prophecies of human prophets and preachers.

The prophets and preachers who had so ardently predicted Trump’s victory may be great servants of God, but they are human, and as humans they can make sincere mistakes. Mistakes such as confusing their dreams and imaginations as direct messages from God.

You know how it is, a dream or a strong thought comes to a preacher’s mind, and he or she presumes it has prophetic significance and they go around announcing it to the whole world.

Sometimes what they predict happens, but usually it doesn’t, and the prophet gives some explanation for why it did not happen, and goes on with new prophecies.

Sometimes a prophet’s prediction may happen three times in a row, and then fail miserably the fourth time, and the people who put their trust in the prophet’s words become disappointed with both the prophet and God.

Sometimes the disappointment is so great that the Christian ends, or diminishes, his relationship with God. Because God failed him.

The truth is, God did not tell him anything, it was the prophets who did, and he is angry with God because the prophets were wrong.

So the second understanding I received is: God does not want  your relationship to him to be based on anything that a preacher, a prophet, a pastor, a priest, a church, or your parents, tell you.

He wants your relationship with him to be based solely on what he teaches you directly from his Word through the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is your only true teacher.

Preachers and pastors are like assistant teachers, they can encourage you to go to God’s Word and know about God from his Word directly. But they should never become your main teachers. If you do that, sooner or later, you are going to be bitterly disappointed not only with your spiritual teachers, but with God himself.

God wants your relationship with him to be based solely on what he teaches you directly from his Word through the Holy Spirit.

So, listen to this brother in Christ. I am no preacher, prophet, pastor, or  priest. I am just an assistant Bible teacher, encouraging you to go to God’s Word directly and get your teaching directly from the only spiritual Teacher, the Holy Spirit.

Continue to listen to the preachers you still trust are true prophets of God.

But do not set your heart, that is, put your confidence, on what they say, but keep in your heart what they say. Then, when the time of the prediction comes to pass, judge for yourselves if their prophecies were true or false.

I am keeping in my heart what Kat Kerr and some other prophets are prophesying now. I still do not regret eating that cake. I will either regret or be glad I ate it by the end of 2022. I am still praying earnestly for Trump to be back and save the babies and save America.

God bless Trump, God bless America, and  God bless and your family with greater blessings than ever before!

 

Pappa Joseph

What’s Really Happening When Your Little Son or Daughter Shows Gay Tendencies

Courtesy: Tim Evanson – flickr

 

There are Christians who believe that no person is born gay, and that the environment, the influences in childhood, and other factors cause a child to identify his or her body with the gender of the opposite sex.

That’s what I too believed once. Until, after more than forty years of prayerful study of the Scriptures, I know now that this belief is only partially true. Circumstances, influences, and the environment do affect a child’s sexual identity, but only to a certain extent. The far greater cause of a child showing tendencies of the opposite sex is a living force in him or her.

Before I explain what that living force is, let us see what God says about a person who identifies himself or herself as the opposite gender.

A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God.   Deut 22:5 

The Creator of the sexes gives no room for a man or a woman to claim they were born that way, with the inclination to act and dress like the opposite sex. They may be born with those tendencies, but that does not permit them to change their sexual identity.

Now let me tell you about that living force that is in a child who has gay tendencies.

If you believe the Bible, then you believe there is a spirit being called Satan. Under him are millions of fallen angels, called demons. Each demon has a rank and a certain level of authority. The various kinds of evil spirit forces mentioned in the Bible are called in the Greek language: arche (principalities), exousia (powers), kosmokratōr (rulers), kokhot ruchaniyim ra’im (spiritual hosts of wickedness). Eph 6:12

Just as Christ gave gifts of positions and responsibilities to man – some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers – Satan gave various positions of authority to his demons. He gave some power over various sicknesses, some over depression, some over sexual temptations, some over addictions, some over phobias, and so on. The great servant of God, Derek Prince, says in one of his books, there is even a demon of toothache!

Every principality has numerous demons serving under him, and they enter and affect the bodies and minds of vulnerable human beings around the world.

One of the most powerful principalities that Satan placed over mankind for their destruction is the demon of homosexuality. Under this principal demon of homosexuality are many lesser demons, each over a particular perverted aspect of homosexuality. So you have the sodomites, and the catamites, and the effeminate, and the butch, and the queer, the transexuals, and so on. The Bible mentions a couple of these particular kinds of homosexuals.

Have ye not known that the unrighteous the reign of God shall not inherit? be not led astray; neither whoremongers, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [also means catamites], nor sodomites…  I Cor 6:9  YLT

…nor passive homosexual partners, nor dominant homosexual partners…  Lexham Version

Families who have not had the Godly legacy of grandparents and parents praying for the spiritual protection of their children are easy targets for various kinds of demons of homosexuality. When one of these demons enters a child and infuses gay feelings into him or her, the child begins to think and act accordingly. There is no outward cause, in the sight of the parent. The child ‘naturally’ feels such inclinations.

Such possession of an individual’s syche by a homosexual demon is not limited to children. In these end times, the gay demons are entering many people, who had not exhibited such tendencies in their earlier years. Year after year, you hear of more people, especially celebrities, ‘coming out’. This phenomenon is but the manifestation of the work of demons of homosexuality taking over their thoughts and feelings.

This possession by the demons happens to people who disdain God’s commandments, and therefore they are left with no divine protection against the evil forces entering them and transforming their attitudes.

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.   Rm 1:26-27

If God opens your eyes to the truth about homosexuality, as revealed in the Bible, then there are ways you can protect your child from such tendencies. And if your child already exhibits such feelings, there are definite steps you can take to save your little son or daughter from this deadly spiritual pandemic.

Here then are the steps you should take to keep your child safe from the demons of homosexuality:

Pray for your child’s sexual safety and purity every day. Also, regularly pray with your wife, or with your husband, for your son or daughter’s protection from this specific danger of the evil spirits.

Pray over your son or daughter, by placing your hand over es head, and declare God’s protection over em from demonic attacks.

Talk to your child, whenever he or she exhibits or talks in a way that reveals es gay tendencies, and tell em what’s really happening, but in a way e can understand at es age. Don’t talk about demons and sins, or you will frighten em and affect es syche badly. Just tell him or her there are thoughts and feelings which are not good if they are allowed to continue.

Don’t make em feel guilty. They are not responsible for causing such tendencies in themselves. This quality must be corrected in the same manner as you correct your child when e tells a lie or steals something.

Watch his or her influences in school and in the playground. Schools are increasingly encouraging a transgender policy. If your child has any friend with gay inclinations, it is a friendship and association that must end immediately.

Watch the media that e is exposed to. More and more films for kids are made with a transgender theme. Keep your child away from them like you keep em from the coronavirus.  

There are other areas where you can act to keep your child safe from these demons of sexual perversion. Let your own wisdom and constant seeking of guidance from God lead you to the best course of action in keeping your precious son or daughter from becoming yet another victim of the gay invasion of homes, schools, media, and other aspects of modern society.

I pray that you, if you are a parent of a young child, will be blessed with the understanding and the wisdom to bring up your child in a wholesome and Godly way.

 

Pappa Joseph

 

 

Prepare for Your Body Shock That’s Coming Sooner Than You Think

 

Many years ago, when I desired to start a ministry and preach Christ, I asked God, Lord, what should I emphasize in my messages? And the Lord led me to Isaiah chapter 40. In it were described three types of messages that God wanted me to preach.

I will cover the first two types in my other messages. In this message I want to tell you about the third aspect of preaching God wants all his servants to focus on.

Here is the passage about the third type of messages.

A voice says, “Cry out.”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass.   Is 40:6-7

I do not know about how other people who are in their senior years feel about their present age –  people in their late sixties or seventies, or older, but let me tell you how I feel about my age today.

I feel I was cheated of my years. That’s how I feel today.

I was a bouncing and bubbly young man, and suddenly I woke up one morning to find I was a middle-aged man. And then, almost soon after, I suddenly woke up one morning to find I am an old man. It doesn’t seem fair at all.

Where did the intervening years, from the time I was a young man to the time I am a senior man, go? It went like lightning, so fleetingly fast I have little memory of these years.

Today, when I look at my face, my wrinkled skin, and my white hair, I know my body is old. But when I consider the state of my mind, when I think of my desires and aspirations, when I think of the enjoyment of pleasures, I still feel just as I felt when I was a young man in my twenties and thirties.

But it’s no use. Society is not going to treat me on the basis of how I think of my present age. I am always treated as an old man in the sight of society.

My body does not agree with my mind. I want to run and roll down a grassy hill, I want to go on a roller coaster, I want to do all that I did as a young man, but my body will not allow me. I cannot walk up a hill, let alone roll down its slope, I have to take care how I walk, otherwise I will stumble and fall.

Young people respect me, but they do not want my friendship or my company. I have to be content chatting with people of my own age. And, frankly, they are boring old men who talk endlessly about boring subjects. I want the company of energetic people, but then I am an old man myself, and I am only going to get older each day, and lose more of my once energetic bodily functions. My system is shutting down one by one.

You sweep people away like dreams that disappear. They are like grass that springs up in the morning. In the morning it blooms and flourishes, but by evening it is dry and withered.   Ps 90:5-6

Look at the lives of the great celebrities who were once young and beautiful like you are today. Before they knew it, all their glory passed away.

 

So this is what I want to tell you, you who are in your twenties, thirties, forties, and even fifties.

Before you know it, your old age will come like a speeding express train. It will come far, far more swiftly than you can ever imagine now, and then it will be your turn to become an old man or an old lady.

Life today looks like it will go on indefinitely like it is now…on and on and on. But realize this, young man or woman, don’t be deceived by what you see around you. And what do you see before you today? Do you see your office desk, your colleagues going about busily their work? Do you see your pretty wife, or youthful husband, or your lovely children going about their various activities in your home? Do you see your body, with all its functions still working without stuttering and puffing and coughing?

If these are the sights you are blessed to see around you today, then, dear young man or young woman – do this from today if you don’t want to suffer the terrible remorse of having forever lost the awesome opportunities of your vigorous years: Ponder each of the blessings you have today, and let its awesomeness sink into your mind.

Think of the awesomeness of the job you have, of all the friends you have, of the young wife or husband you have, of the children who come running to you because you are still the greatest person in their lives. And appreciate, and thank God for, every single one of these blessings you have today. Appreciate every single second you have been given with your loved ones today.

For soon, far sooner than you can realize, every one of these awesome blessings will be gone from you, and you will be left with only memories and nostalgia.

My days fly faster than a weaver’s shuttle. They end without hope.
O God, remember that my life is but a breath, and I will never again feel happiness [of youth].   Job 7:6-7 NLT

Do you know how a weaver’s shuttle flies? It moves from one end to the other of the weaving machine, and as soon the shuttle reaches the other end it flies back to the opposite end.

From the age of 10 your age flies swiftly to the age of 20, and then it flies to 30, and then to 40 and then to 50, and then to 60, then to the age of 70.

Your age moves so swiftly from one decade to another it actually seems like it is flying. And then the shuttle stops moving at 80 or a few years after that.

Every day of your life as a young person, when you wake up energetically to a new morning, try to keep these words, which I give below, of the wisest man who ever lived, and I believe he himself did not realize how fleeting his youth was until he lost it himself. Hear these words of King Solomon, as given in the New Living Translation:

Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless.

Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator.

Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky.

Remember him before your legs—the guards of your house—start to tremble; and before your shoulders—the strong men—stoop. Remember him before your teeth—your few remaining servants—stop grinding; and before your eyes—the women looking through the windows—see dimly.

Remember him before the door to life’s opportunities is closed and the sound of work fades. Now you rise at the first chirping of the birds, but then all their sounds will grow faint.

Remember him before you become fearful of falling and worry about danger in the streets; before your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom, and you drag along without energy like a dying grasshopper, and the caperberry no longer inspires sexual desire.

Remember him before you near the grave, your everlasting home, when the mourners will weep at your funeral.

Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well.

For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.  
Eccl 11:6-12:7  NLT

Your body will shock you by the great changes it undergoes with age, and it’s coming sooner than you can imagine. But if you make the most of your time now living as God wants you to live, you will be prepared, and you will suffer no remorse and unhappiness of old age, like the retired celebrities do.

There will be a grace and attractiveness about your body and your face, which only people blessed by God will have in their old age.

Have a great life, child of God!

 

Pappa Joseph

The More Christianity Grows Globally, the More Wicked the World Grows

 

If just one-tenth of the churches in our generation had been true to their ordained commission, the world today would have been ten times less wicked. This estimate is analogous, but it has a Biblical principle. The Bible says that five of God’s people will pursue a hundred of their enemies, and a hundred will chase ten thousand. That is, if the chosen people obeyed God. But if not, one enemy will chase a thousand of God’s people, and two will put ten thousand of the chosen ones to flight. Lev 26:8, Deut 32:30.

According to a 2011 Pew Research Center survey, there were more than 3.2 billion Christians around the world in 2010, more than three times as many as the 600 million recorded in 1910. Over the 2010-2050 period, Christians will remain the largest religious group with around 31% of the world’s population. By 2050, Christianity will be the first to reach 3 billion. More than 3.4 billion people will be Christians then, according to the Gordon Conwell projections. Taking those figures, there are about three people for every ten non-Christians. And if these Christians had really been doing their job, then how dramatic would have been the change in the world’s state today!

But what do we see in reality? Just look at your city, your country. Are the people more friendly, do you find them more helpful, more loving than they were ten or twenty years ago? Look at the major nations of Christianity, the US and the UK. These nations have become so Godless, violent, and sinful, that what Billy Graham said is becoming more prophetically true each day. Billy Graham said, ‘If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.’

The pandemic forced the churches to close down their services. The mammoth halls where praise and worship sessions were conducted with such fervor have fallen silent. Christmas shopping is become subdued, the boisterous merriness is gone. And, despite the prayers of Christians everywhere,  God does not seem the least inclined to intervene and let the churches resume their services and the Christian singers start crooning on the stages. Sooner or later, they will, and the churches and the pastors and the preachers and the prophets will be back to business as usual. The halleluiahs and hosannas will resound from the worship halls again. Christianity will resume its global evangelization, and continue to grow in every nation. And as they grow, the world continues to accelerate toward doomsday, because more people everywhere are forsaking God and turning to wickedness. 

But you, if you are a follower of Christ, can be different from the mainstream Christians. You, as an individual or a family, can draw closer to God as the world draws further away from God, and as Christianity becomes increasingly less effective in saving the world from the prophesied endtime destructions. As the churches become louder in their worship sessions and broader in their evangelizations, without causing any real change in the hearts of the people, you can become more Christlike in the sight of God.

In a sermon in 1905, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, said, “Our Christianity – yours and mine – has become a falsehood and a disgrace.”  He said that more than a hundred years ago. How much more has Christianity become a disgrace to the name of Christ today!

You don’t have to be part of the Christianity that has become a falsehood and a disgrace. You can turn your heart to God today, and ask him to show you how you can grow as an individual Christian who is a joy and delight to the heart of your Savior.

Coming Soon: The Next Global Pandemic – Animal and Insect Attacks!

I am writing this after reading three disturbing news in the media in the past two days.

The first news related to an attack by a species of beetles in my hometown, including the building where I am staying in now. The insect, called the blister beetle, or acid beetle, when it falls on a person’s skin, emits a toxin which causes severe burn injuries on it. The faces and other parts of the bodies of many people in my town were burned as a result of this insect. In my own building, this creature crept in through the windows and bit two children. My wife and I are on guard day and night against the presence of this evil insect in our apartment. 

Here are the media reports:

Blister beetles are causing distress in Kakkanad area with close to 100 people developing blisters on face and other parts of the body. The number of panic-stricken patients seeking medical help after spotting the blisters has increased over the past few weeks.  The Hindu

The second news is about a rat plague in Australia.

Millions of rodents are running amok in parts of Australia’s eastern states, with residents sharing horror encounters on a daily basis…They’re all around the house. Every time you open a drawer, you’re potentially going to find one.  NBC News

Mouse plague grows to biblical proportions across eastern Australia.  The Guardian

The plague of mice attacking parts of Australia is turning into a horror story, with the rodents threatening to invade Sydney, reports of the vermin eating their own, and the farming industry being thrown into turmoil…People are actually just abandoning crops because they think ‘why am I going to plant this if it’s going to get eaten?’  Bloomberg

The third news, that I saw yesterday, came as a reply to a comment I made on a YouTube channel. This is a portion of what the responder wrote to me:

There are now flies swarming in the DC area. This morning when I awoke, I had maybe 300 flies in my kitchen and there is no explanation for that.

Fly invasion has happened in other places too. This news is from San Francisco.

It is a constant fight against the flies. We are now unable to eat lunch in our showroom, since the flies find a way to crawl on our food or into the refrigerator even when covered or closed.  Bloomberg

And attacks by foxes and coyotes.

After tucking their nine-month-old twin girls into bed, two parents and their four-year-old son watch television downstairs in their suburban row house in Britain. As they unwind, a fox fearlessly sneaks through an open door and into the twins’ bedroom…As the parents flip on the bedroom light, they are shocked to find a fox viciously attacking one of the babies.  BBC

In the last two decades, thousands of the carnivores have migrated to metropolitan areas in search of food. Experts maintain there could be several thousand coyotes living in New York, with a similar number in cities such as Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago…In the past nine days, two young girls playing outside their homes were attacked [by coyotoes] in separate episodes, officials said. Both girls survived with minor injuries…The police have advised parents not to let small children roam farther than an arm’s length away, and to keep them indoors at night. People walking their dogs at night carry large sticks alongside their leashes.  The New York Times

I have also read reports of mass invasion by scorpions, phytons, and vampire bats.

Yellow scorpions are invading Brazilian cities…Just about every shop and home in the nearby vicinity has seen one recently. At night, the predatory arthropods lurk at the entrance of supermarkets, crawl up kitchen sinks, and skitter into second-story bedrooms…The stings can cause seizures, vomiting, and excruciating pain.  Bloomberg

Bounty hunters and biologists wade deep into the Everglades to wrestle with the invasion of giant pythons threatening the state’s wetlands…Scientists say that the snakes are responsible for a recent 90 to 99 percent drop in the small mammal population in the national park.  Smithsonian Magazine

Peru’s health ministry has sent emergency teams to a remote Amazon region to battle an outbreak of rabies spread by vampire bats…3,500 people had been bitten by the bloodsucking bats.  BBC

BBC has reported about ten animal invasions of our present times “that look like biblical plagues…From locust swarms 110 miles long to armies of giant snails, these plagues are what happens when a species runs rampant”. The ten invasions are by algal blooms in the sea, mosquitoes, mayflies, locusts, armyworms, queleas (small, finch-like birds), giant African land snails, jellyfish, ants, and mice.

I expect almost all kinds of wild animals to be part of this endtime plague that is coming upon every nation, including the ones you commonly see around your house – raccoons, skunks, squirrels, moles, crows, and more.

One of the most horrifying aspects of The Great Tribulation that is coming upon the whole world, is attacks on humans by ‘wild beasts’. This prophecy is given in two books in the Bible:

I will let loose the [wild] animals of the field among you, which will bereave you of your children and destroy your livestock and make you so few in number that your roads will lie deserted and desolate.  Lev 26:22 AMP

So I looked, and behold, an ashen (pale greenish gray) horse [like a corpse, representing death and pestilence]; and its rider’s name was Death; and Hades (the realm of the dead) was following with him. They were given authority and power over a fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword and with famine and with plague (pestilence, disease) and by the wild beasts of the earth.  Rev 6:8

The Greek word for ‘wild beasts’ means not only mammals and reptiles, but also birds, insects, fish, and even microscopic creatures.

I am writing this message to urge you to keep watch on this aspect of the endtime events. There are many other events you should watch, and I will be writing about them all in this site. Protection from attack by crazed animals should be part of your fervent prayers for your present family and the future families of your children and grandchildren who may go witness the endtime events.

You can escape this aspect of The Great Tribulation, as well as all other coming evils of the endtimes by heeding the words of your Protector.

But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.  Lk 21:34-36

 

Pappa Joseph

 

 

What you need today above everything else is peace

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Is there something troubling you today? Is it something to do with your health, or with the health of someone in your family? Perhaps it’s a problem in your job or business? Is it the relationship with your spouse? Or some problem your child is having? Or is it a general anxiety about the world situation today? Or is it that you need money for something urgent, and you just don’t have it and don’t know where you will get it from? Or could it be it is a secret sin you are struggling to overcome?

Listen, dear child of God. If you are going through one or more of the problems I mentioned earlier, I have an encouragement for you today that can bring you what you need above everything else right now. Many preachers give encouragement from their knowledge of God’s Word, but in many cases they do not speak from their personal experience. Which is quite ok. You can’t expect every preacher to experience directly what they preach about. The testimony of God’s Word is more than enough for them. But when a preacher occasionally gives you an encouragement from his direct experience of it, then I think there is an extra dimension of comfort and assurance in it.

I have gone through all the problems I mentioned in the beginning, plus some. And I have gone through them all in severe intensity, sometimes to such an extent that but for God’s timely intervention, death and destruction would have devastated my family. So please listen carefully, for I have an encouragement for you, if there’s something in your life today that is taking your peace away.

Perhaps you had been praying fervently for some time and nothing happened, and you feel it is useless continuing to pray as earnestly as you had been doing. Nothing may have happened in response to your prayer yet, but here’s how you will surely receive your answer — DON’T GIVE UP! Don’t give up praying for a miraculous deliverance. Never, never, never give up praying fervently for a miraculous deliverance! Because that’s exactly what the Enemy wants you to do. If you don’t give up praying for deliverance, then your answer is surely on the way. The delay in God’s answering you is purposeful. It is creating in you a steadfastness that only serious problems can produce in you. Continue asking fervently, perseveringly, and surely one of two kinds of deliverances will come to you.

This is the first kind of deliverance:  God will remove the problem that is troubling you by a miraculous intervention. Your healing will come, or your money will appear from an unexpected source, or something else will happen that will end the problem.

The second kind of deliverance is, the problem will not go away soon, and you will have to just endure it until it goes away by itself. Sometimes the problem may continue your whole life. If you had prayed fervently and the problem continues on and on, then that is EXACTLY what God wants you to go through. Just as he wanted Paul to experience the pain of a thorn in his flesh for his entire life, though Paul prayed for his deliverance from it repeatedly.  2 Cor 12:8-9  When permanent UNdeliverance is God’s answer to your prayer, then keep this truth in the forefront of your mind: He may allow your trouble to go on for a long time, or even for a lifetime, BUT ONLY AFTER HE HAS PROVIDED YOU THE MIRACULOUS STRENGTH FOR IT.

Remember this promise of your Savior whenever you begin to worry that you don’t have the strength to endure your trouble :

No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].   1 Cor 10:13 AMP

When I look back at nearly 50 years of various troubles I and my wife went through, I see that both kinds of deliverances have happened to us. I can’t say the exact proportion, but probably in the case of about half of our troubles, we were delivered out of them miraculously, and in the other half, we were delivered THROUGH them miraculously. Some of the troubles have continued to afflict us to this day even after nearly half a century since they began. But we have perfect peace in these troubles. We can easily endure them.

It is this peace that my wife and I are enjoying today that I want you too to be blessed with.  The way to that peace is simple, but it requires a firm decision on your part.  This is the way: First, don’t give up praying for a miraculous deliverance, and, second, don’t give up expecting God to deliver you miraculously in one of the two ways he always delivers his people from troubles.

Pour out your heart to him. Take ALL your troubles, bundle them into a sack and then, on your knees, throw them upon your Deliverer. That’s exactly the way the Bible tells you to do it. Listen to this verse.

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.   1 Pe 5:7 AMP

The word ‘casting’ in Greek literally means ‘throw upon, place upon’. The trouble that you throw upon him then becomes his personal trouble.

That’s what George Muller, one of the greatest servants of God, did, when he was pressed down with the burden of caring for ten thousand orphans. When asked how he could be so calm in the middle of a hectic day with so many uncertainties at the orphanage, George Muller answered, ‘I rolled sixty things onto the Lord this morning’. Now that great burden was off his shoulders, and was on God’s shoulders.

Precious child of God, who is going through some trouble right now, don’t give up praying for a miraculous deliverance.  Every morning when you get up, and every night before you go to bed, roll all your anxieties one by one into a sack, and then, while on your knees, throw them all upon the Lord. Trust this encouragement from your Lord:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Phil 4:6 NLT

And this is what is going to happen to you if you do that:

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:7 NLT

 

Pappa Joseph

 

Image by Pexels from Pixabay         

Harmless Objects Or Accursed Articles Which You Keep in Your House?

Let me say at the outset that this message is not about icons and symbols used in worship by certain churches in Christianity, which other denominations consider as idolatrous. The objects used in such worship include statuettes and images of the Virgin Mary, of the saints, lighting of candles, and even the cross. I have my personal views about the use of such representations of God and saints, but presently my message is about objects that every Christian should avoid because keeping them in the home, even as merely decorative items, is a clear violation of God’s commandments.

At my elder son’s wedding, he received a fancy gift from one of his previous employers. A long, elaborately carved wooden mask. My son, in turn, gifted it to us, and we hung it up on the wall of our living room. It was merely a decorative item in our view. As the days passed, whenever I looked at it, I got a slightly uneasy feeling. And then, one day, it suddenly dawned on me. It was an African voodoo mask! I don’t know why this realization escaped me earlier (perhaps God allowed it so the incident could inspire me one day to write this message).

As soon as my eyes were opened to see the decorative piece for what it was, I took it off the wall, and gave it to a neighbor who didn’t have any problem with it . That was about seven years ago, and I hadn’t received as much discernment about such objects as I have today. Had I today’s understanding then, I would not have merely yanked it off the wall and given it away; I would have taken it outside my apartment and flung it down the garbage chute. I would not have considered gifting the accursed object even to a pagan neighbor.

You see, voodoo and all such black magic arts have their origin in one common source – Satan. The ministers of Satan use black magic to deceive the ignorant masses of pagans into committing terrible sins that they would otherwise not do. An example is child sacrifice. Voodoo has caused the death of innumerable infants throughout history. Even as recently as 2001, voodoo claimed the life of a 6-year African boy, whose torso was found in the Thames river in England. The body was without its legs, arms, and head and had been entirely drained of its blood – evidence of a voodoo ritual.

According to Dr Richard Hoskins, a leading expert on African religion, then based at Bath University, and who worked on the case, ‘the sacrifice of animals happens throughout sub-Saharan Africa and is used to empower people, often as a form of protection from the wrath of gods. Human sacrifice is believed to be the most ‘empowering’ form of sacrifice – and offering up a child is the most extreme form of all’.   Daily Mail

That is why God hates everything that has some association with evil practices. And that is why I personally hate to keep a Christmas tree in my house. Now I am not at all saying that those Christians who keep such trees in their homes are committing sin. For them it is an innocent way to celebrate the birth of their Savior (although after decades of research I still can’t figure out the association between a conifer tree and baby Jesus). But the day will come sooner or later when the merciful Lord will open their eyes to how exactly he wants his people to honor the birth of his Son, and then nobody would be singing hymns to trees such as this famous carol:

‘O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
Not only green when summer’s here,
But also when ’tis cold and drear.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging!’

But for me and for many other Christians around the world, a Christmas tree reminds us, not of the unchanging leaves, but of the horrible human sacrifices that were committed under the original tree from which the Christmas tree had its origin. More about this origin in a separate message on Christmas and other Christian holidays of pagan origin. But to summarize here, from various sources:

The earliest reference to Christmas being marked on December 25 comes from the second century after Jesus’ birth. It is considered likely the first Christmas celebrations were in reaction to the Roman Saturnalia, a harvest festival that marked the winter solstice – the return of the sun – and honored Saturn, the god of sowing. Saturnalia was a rowdy time, much opposed by the more austere leaders among the still-minority Christian sect…By 529 AD, after Christianity had become the official state religion of the Roman Empire, Emperor Justinian made Christmas a civic holiday.   The Buffalo News, Nov. 22, 1984

The Roman Saturnalia was a festival that celebrated Saturn – the fire god. And fire gods have an insatiable appetite for child sacrifices. Here is a quote about the terrible practice associated with the worship of the fire god (known by various names such as Nimrod, Saturn, Kronos, Molech, and Baal), from ‘The Two Babylons’ by the late Rev Alexander Hislop, a Free Church of Scotland minister:

Now, this is in exact accordance with the character of the Great Head of the system of fire-worship. Nimrod, as the representative of the devouring fire to which human victims, and especially children, were offered in sacrifice, was regarded as the great child-devourer…he was, of course, the actual father of all the Babylonian gods; and, therefore, in that character he was afterwards universally regarded. As the Father of the gods, he was, as we have seen, called Kronos; and every one knows that the classical story of Kronos was just this, that, ‘he devoured his sons as soon as they were born.’ (Lempriere Classical Dictionary, ‘Saturn’)…This legend has a further and deeper meaning; but, as applied to Nimrod, or ‘The Horned One,’ it just refers to the fact, that, as the representative of Moloch or Baal, infants were the most acceptable offerings at his altar. We have ample and melancholy evidence on this subject from the records of antiquity. “The Phoenicians”, says Eusebius, “every year sacrificed their beloved and only-begotten children to Kronos or Saturn”.

For me, a Christmas tree is an accursed object to keep in my house. But for millions of other Christians, it is not, because they do not know yet. And God is not going to punish them for keeping something detestable in the house without knowing its sinister origins.

Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the Lord: “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple. They are upright, like a palm tree, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor can they do any good.”   Jer 10:1-5

No Christian should keep an object that has any zodiac signs on it. Neither should they ever keep in their homes any book that espouses divination in the form of horoscope, astrology, numerology, and similar subjects. A Christian who, just for the sake of fun, only occasionally reads his horoscope in a magazine or newspaper just doesn’t understand how strongly God forbids such practice.

Where are all your astrologers, those stargazers who make predictions each month? Let them stand up and save you from what the future holds. But they are like straw burning in a fire; they cannot save themselves from the flame. You will get no help from them at all   Is 47:13-14 NLT

Reiki Healing Rainbow Pendant

No child of God should be deceived into using any article that comes wrapped as a medical device, such as gems for crystal healing, magnetic wristbands for pain relief, negative ion bracelets and necklaces for wellness, and other such objects. There is indeed power emanating out of these objects and users have felt their soothing effect. But it is a power that comes from a deceiving spirit. In the end, the person will be worse off than ever before.

No Bible believer should ever make any tattoo on his or her body. If you had tattooed before you came to Christ, God understands and you don’t have to worry about something you did in your pre-Christ days. But if there is some way you can get them removed, do all that is in your power to erase them from your body which Christ has redeemed with his own blood.

do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.   Lev 19:28 NLT

No true Christian should keep a dvd or novel, or music that is X-rated in even a portion of its contents.

I love hip hop. And Eminem was my favorite, and I think he is the most gifted of singers in this cadre of music. Now, in listening to hip hop, I focus on the melody, not the words. I had been enjoying Eminem’s music on radio and tv and I hadn’t yet bought any of his cassettes (yes, there were still cassette players around in Eminem’s heydays). So one day, I walked into a music store and got my first audio cassette of his hit songs. I switched my cassette player and started swaying my body to his rhythmic words. Suddenly I stopped. I heard something I hadn’t heard before, because I hadn’t been listening attentively until now. Eminem was rapping unmentionable obscenities in his platinum-winning song. I sadly went to the blasting player, ejected the cassette, walked to the trash bin, and dumped it there, determined never to buy another Eminem music in my life.

Don’t allow even a friend or neighbor to keep an accursed object in your house for even an hour. We had a loyal maid, whose husband annually went on pilgrimage to his god on a high mountain in south India. Every time he returned he would bring home to his family sweetmeats and drinks that had been offered to appease his deity. After the propitiation, the offerings could be taken back home. Once, the maid brought home to us a can of delicious syrup that her husband had brought with precious care from the mountaintop abode of his god. It was her way of showing her appreciation of us. We knew it was accursed stuff, but we didn’t have the heart to decline it outright in her face. So we took it and kept it on top or our fridge, intending to garbage it at the first opportunity.

Some hours later, a heard a scream from my sister who was visiting us from Canada. I rushed to her in the hallway. ‘A huge snake, a huge snake!’ she screamed. I saw the snake sliding down the hallway and heading towards the fridge on top of which I could see the can with an image of a squatting god on it. The snake slithered under the fridge and disappeared. I looked all around the fridge with a long rod in my hand. But the snake was nowhere. It just disappeared. I thought it might have somehow managed to slip inside the fridge through some crevice. So I asked the maid to call her husband, and together we took the fridge outside and dismantled it. But no son of a Serpente anywhere.

Now, this could be a mere coincidence, but a snake entering our house and heading straight for the image of its father on the fridge top was an unforgettably scary experience for me and my sister. As for the serpent’s mysterious disappearance, probably it might have managed to slip out of the house during the few seconds I went to get a rod to break its spine. But we determined, coincidence or not, that we were never going to let into our lives even for a moment any object that is a delight to the devil’s heart.

Don’t take a casual attitude about accursed objects, as some Israelites did, and suffered for it.

And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things   Josh 6:18

There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you…And Achan answered Joshua and said, “Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them.   Josh 17:13-21

After reading his message, look around in your house and in your personal life. Is every object, small and big, around you a blessing from our Father in heaven, and a delight to him?

Perhaps the object might not be a tangible article in your home. Perhaps it’s something solid in your mind. Is there a little object somewhere in the recesses of your mind you are not sure how our God looks upon it? There is no room for the least doubt in such matters in a true Christian’s life. If you have any doubt, go on your knees and ascertain from God what he thinks about it. If you are fervent about pleasing him in every small and great area of your life, he will surely reveal his thoughts about it to you.

Even years after I had given my heart and mind to Christ, I would discover now and then some small area in my consciousness that I had been harboring within me ignorantly but which was, if not an accursed thing, an object that did not add to my glorifying God in my life. I would then, with Christ’s help, remove it absolutely from my life.

May God keep your life pure from everything that defiles, from everything that does not delight him to the utmost!

 

Pappa Joseph

 

Don’t Settle for Silver, But Be An Utmost Servant of God

 

The extent of the glory of your crown in the Kingdom of God will depend on whether your work for the Lord now is being built with gold, silver, or precious stones.

 

One language usage in the Bible that keeps recurring in reference to the character and actions of people are the three states of an adjective – positive, comparative, superlative. The words most used to denote one of these states are: more, most; good, better, best; mighty, mightier; great, greater, greatest; holy, holier, holiest; less, lesser, least; pure, purer, purest.

A few other forms are also used to show the relative degree of an attribute or state, such as ‘well’ (‘well-pleased’), ‘very’ (‘very good’); ‘much’ (‘much afraid’), ‘greatly’ (‘greatly beloved’), etc.

When these words are used in reference to a man or woman, they show to what extent this person is esteemed, either in the eyes of the people, or of God. Here are a few passages that show that:

for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons   Ruth 4:15

Ruth is not just as good as seven sons in the estimate of Naomi’s friends; she is better than all of them put together.

And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!”   Dan 10:19

Daniel is not merely a man beloved of God, he is someone greatly beloved in his Lord’s eyes.

Now, if you are a Christian who desires to serve God to the best of your capability – to your utmost for his highest glory – there are two teachings of Jesus Christ that should constantly inspire and guide all your thoughts and efforts.

In the first teaching, Jesus describes two categories of people who will be in his Kingdom. One category are those who taught others that they are not under the law but under grace and therefore there is no more requirement for them to keep the minor statutes and precepts given to Israel through Moses. Jesus said that this category of servants will be called ‘the least’ in the Kingdom of God.

Do not think that I came to do away with or undo the Law [of Moses] or the [writings of the] Prophets; I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you and most solemnly say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke [of the pen] will pass from the Law until all things [which it foreshadows] are accomplished. So whoever breaks one of the least [important] of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least [important] in the kingdom of heaven   Mt 5:18-19 AMP

But there is another category of people who will be called ‘great’ in the Kingdom.

but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.   Mt 5:19

In the second teaching, Jesus says the Kingdom of God is like a nobleman traveling to a far country Lk 19, My 25. Before he goes, he delivers a mina each (worth about three months’ salary) to his ten servants. On his return, he rewards each servant according to how well he used the money. The one who made the most profitable use of the mina is made ruler over ten cities, and the one who earned half as much is made ruler over five cities.

We are now not concerned about the one who did not earn anything. This message is for servants of God doing their Lord’s work faithfully on earth – some doing their ten minas’ worth of work, and the others half as much.

Here’s another analogy of how a Christian servant’s work will be evaluated by God:

The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor…I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care…If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 1 Cor 3:8-14  NIV

Again, let us not concern ourselves in this message about the builders who used combustible material such as wood or straw to build their ministry. Let us focus on those three categories of servants whose work survived the fire.

There are Christians today who, in the sight of God are doing their work with gold, some have work that is ‘silver’ in God’s sight, and the work of some others he looks upon as precious stones.

Now the most crucial question every servant of Christ should often ponder in his service to God is, ‘Am I going to be called ‘the least’, or ‘great’ by Jesus? Am I building the work of God with the best material or the second-best material?

Can we really know in which category of faithful servants we are likely to be classified according to our present works? I think we can. At the end of his life, Paul was confident he had done his very best, and that henceforth he could look forward to receiving the crown from his Lord.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.   2 Tm 4:6-8

Based on Christ’s own words, we can be confident we will be called ‘great’ when he comes if we love and keep and teach God’s every little and great commandment in the entirety of his Word.

We know we can not only be in the category of servants who will be called great in the Kingdom, but we can also be counted among Gods’ people who will be called ‘the greatest’ if we will humble ourselves as a little child before God.

Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.   Mt 18:3-4

We can be confident we are building the Lord’s work with the best material, with gold, if we stop trying to build it ourselves and wait on the Lord in faith to provide us the gold in his own time. Any ministry that did not wait fully for the Lord’s direction and timing can be built only with lesser materials. How many great ministries have I seen which, when the fire of testing came, burnt to cinders! One of them badly burnt me personally as well.

Coronation of H.M. George VI and Queen Elizabeth. 1936.

There is one other way, which indeed is the surest way to know if we will receive a good resurrection or a better resurrection Heb 11:35, or if God will call us good, great or greatest, or if at the end of our ministry on earth, our work for God will continue to go on unaffected come inferno or inundation, or if it will be totally or partially consumed when the fiery testing comes.

And that way is to simply go to God on your knees as often as you remember and pray fervently as the psalmist did:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.   Ps 139:23-24  NLT

God’s utmost desire, like that of any good human father, is for you and me to seek from him what’s the very best, and not what’s just good or better; to ask him to mold you so he can call you not just great, but the greatest; that you rely on him like a weaned child relies on his mother for everything you desire to do for him; and that what you do for him will last forever like the mansions in his kingdom.

You would often meditate at night and search your own heart, and implore God to show you if there is any area in your life where you may be presently doing only half as much as you could – or even only 90 percent of what you really could do if you put your whole heart into it. You would cry out to God to reveal to you any shortcoming in your life that may be causing you to build your work with silver and precious stones, instead of gold. You would diligently ask him to equip you with qualities that will qualify you to eventually rule over the maximum number of cities…to your Father’s utmost delight.

May our Lord give you the assurance every day of your life that you are loving God to your utmost, and that you are showing your love for him by doing the utmost you can to share God’s love and blessings with your neighbor.

Then one of the scribes came, and…asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, with ALL your mind, and with ALL your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”   Mk 12:28-31. Emphasis mine.

Don’t settle for kingship of just five cities in the Kingdom of God. Go for the utmost God is willing to grant you. And he is willing to grant you more than you can ever ask or think   Eph 3:20.

 

 Pappa Joseph

 

 

The Lover Who Longs to Hear Your Voice First Thing in the Morning

 

Courtesy: Skeeze from Pixabay

 

Have you ever fallen in love? If you have, was it not the most thrilling experience you have ever had until then? Every word your lover speaks to you, every syllable and sigh e utters, every call you get from em, every text you receive from em, they all have your utmost attention and interest, above everything else that happens that day. More than every other desire of the day, you yearn to hear the voice of your lover and feel the passion of es love for you.

With a far greater intensity of desire and thrill of a man or a woman yearning for the sound of es lover’s voice, there is someone waiting to hear your voice and feel your passion first thing in the morning. Our Savior is – more than he is your Lord, more than he is your brother, more than he is your best friend – your yearning lover.

He fell in passionate love with you secretly long before you even knew such a lover existed. And then he began to reveal himself to you slowly, patiently, and you came to see his awesomeness, his power, his glory, his enrapturing beauty. But he was still only your Lord in your heart. Then, over a period of acquaintance, growing companionship, heightening intimacy of friendship, it began to dawn on you he is actually your personal lover, who has been loving you since long before you began to love him. So great is his love for you that he joyfully chose to give up his life to save you from the sentence of eternal death that was pending upon you from the moment of your conception, so that he can enjoy your love for him, your passion for him, and your beauty in his sight, forever and ever.

Look at you, my dearest darling, you are so lovely!
You are beauty itself to me.   Song 1:15 TPT

The one thing I ask of the Lord – the thing I seek most – is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord, filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace.   Ps 27:4 NLT, NIV, TPT

 

Pappa Joseph

 

 

Our Feelings Are Often Our Deadliest Enemy

 

Courtesy: Jill Wellington from Pixabay

 

Feelings were created by our Maker for our utmost pleasure. But when man fell into sin, feelings became man’s second greatest enemy, after the Devil himself. It is only when a person has received the Holy Spirit, does the original purpose of feelings work in es life.

Even in fallen man, feelings have a great role in making es life happier and safer. Such feelings are those relating to falling in love, paternal affection, friendship, thrill in wholesome encounters, and many other positive emotions. But overall, the heart, the generator and harborer of all feelings, in such a person is full of deceit, and desperately wicked. Jer 17:9 It is feelings that incite a man or a woman to anger, hate, lust, pride, jealousy, resentment, murder, rebellion, and all other negative emotions.

In a person begotten of the Holy Spirit, feelings are the greatest tool of both the Devil and our natural man to lead us to temptation. Temptation without feeling is no temptation but only a proposition to the soul. When Jesus was tempted with food after his forty days of fasting, his feeling of hunger was beyond human comprehension. But some temptations are not real temptations, but only propositions because there is no feeling involved. Satan’s temptation of Jesus with all the glory of the world’s kingdoms was no temptation at all, but only a silly proposition given in a desperate bid. Because there was no feeling in Jesus to have what was offered. Usually, Satan does not bother to lure a person with a temptation for which e has no feelings. For example, if the Devil were to tempt me with a cool offer of a million dollars by some easy fraud, that’s no temptation at all, but a silly thought to me. Similarly, for any temptation that you do not have a feeling for.

But the Devil knows exactly what are the specific feelings you have submerged in your heart. As a Christian, you don’t allow anymore the evil feelings to override your will and cause you to sin. But often, the negative feelings in a Godly person are strong, and there is a struggle to suppress the feelings and act contrary to the natural feelings. Sometimes, the struggle ends in the failure of the will and in the victory of the feelings. An example is when David was overwhelmed by his feelings for Bathsheba while he was pacing about on the terrace of his palace. Think of a case in your own life, where, after you became a Christian, you yielded to your feelings contrary to the injunctions of your will.

I cannot put even a rough estimate of the percentage of good feelings and evil feelings in a Christian. Perhaps, 50 percent of the feelings in em are good and 50 percent evil. Perhaps only 10 percent of feelings in such a Godly person is positive, and 90 percent evil. The latter is probably the proportion in my case, and probably also in the case of Paul, who cried out against his feelings, ‘O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?’ Rm 7:24 ‘Body of death’ is just another term for the powerful feelings of the natural man buried inside our body.

Often, when a strong feeling fills you, and the Holy Spirit gives you discernment that it is not from your ‘I’ but from the sinful man lurking inside you Rm 7:20, the best response is to act exactly the opposite of what your feelings want you to do.

The Lord give you the discernment and the power to always react toward your feelings in perfect accord with your will, which is always directed by the Holy Spirit.

 

Pappa Joseph

 

 

Are Prosperity Preachers Proclaiming the True Gospel?

 

 

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!   Mt 7:11

If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?   Lk 12:28

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.   3 Jn 1:2

The above three verses from God’s Word should be enough to convince even a diehard of a traditional Christian that the prosperity preachers are preaching the right good tidings.

But these verses aren’t convincing enough for the traditionalists.

Prosperity-promoting evangelists are derisively referred to as ‘health-wealth-stealth’ preachers by the poverty preachers (I don’t have an official term for the non-prosperity preachers). The ‘stealth’ is not verbally articulated by the traditionalists, but it is loudly declared in their attitude toward their fellow evangelists in the prosperity party of the gospel, because they think this is how health-wealth preachers inveigle themselves into the hearts of gullible people looking for some God-divulged way to escape their penury.

I have three children. I want them to be in the pink of health, have elegant homes with ornate stairways in the midst of beautiful surroundings, with lots of money so they need never be in want and get into debt. I want them to wear clothes that are chic, made of the best fabric and styled by the best designers. I want the best of everything in life for my kids. Why? Because I love them more than my life.

But God says he too loves to give my children good gifts, except that in his case he wants to give them ‘much more’ – beyond what I humanly could ever do. And my Father has already proven to me ‘how much more’ he is willing to give good gifts to my kids, and of course, to me as well.

This is exactly the message that prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, T. D. Jakes, Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts, and thousands of others of their preaching ilk, are telling their congregations week after week, telecast after telecast. So why are they attacked en masse by other equally earnest Christians?

So, am I too a prosperity preacher? Not quite.

Is Joel Osteen influencing his congregation to commit sin or is he encouraging them to keep God’s commandments?

What exactly is the ‘prosperity gospel’?

Wikipedia gives a blunt but reasonably factual description of this relatively new theology, which I believe is true in the majority of the cases of prosperity preaching I have observed:

Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel or the health and wealth gospel) is a Christian religious doctrine that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will always increase one’s material wealth. Based on non-traditional interpretations of the Bible, often with emphasis on the Book of Malachi, the doctrine views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver his promises of security and prosperity. Confessing these promises to be true is perceived as an act of faith, which God will honor.

Wealth is interpreted in prosperity theology as a blessing from God, obtained through a spiritual law of positive confession, visualization, and donations. This process is often taught in almost mechanical terms; Kenneth Copeland, an American author and televangelist, argues that prosperity is governed by laws, while other teachers portray the process formulaically. Journalists David van Biema and Jeff Chu of Time have described Word of Faith pastor Creflo Dollar’s teachings about prosperity as an inviolable contract between God and humanity.

The doctrine emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment, proposing that it is God’s will for his people to be happy. The atonement is interpreted to include the alleviation of sickness and poverty, which are viewed as curses to be broken by faith. This is believed to be achieved through visualization and positive confession, and is often taught in mechanical and contractual terms. Positive confession is the doctrine that believers may claim whatever they desire from God, simply by speaking it. Prosperity theology teaches that the Bible has promised prosperity for believers, so positive confession means that believers are speaking in faith what God has already spoken about them. Positive confession is practiced to bring about what is already believed in; faith itself is a confession, and speaking it brings it into reality.

Prosperity churches place a strong emphasis on the importance of giving. Services commonly include two sermons, one of which focuses on giving and prosperity, including Biblical references to tithing; a second sermon on another topic follows the offering. Prosperity church leaders often bestow a specific blessing on the money being donated, some have even been reported to instruct worshipers to hold their donations above their heads during the prayer.

Churches in which the prosperity gospel is taught are often non-denominational and usually directed by a sole pastor or leader, although some have developed multi-church networks that bear similarities to denominations. Such churches typically set aside extended time to teach about giving and request donations from the congregation, encouraging positive speech and faith.

Prosperity theology has been criticized by leaders in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, as well as other Christian denominations. These leaders maintain that it is irresponsible, promotes idolatry, and is contrary to Scripture. Some critics have proposed that prosperity theology cultivates authoritarian organizations, with the leaders controlling the lives of the adherents.

That, in essence, sums up the doctrine and ministry of prosperity preachers.

I have listened to many preachings by such preachers and have studied literature sent out by their churches. In fact, I think God used one of them, Kenneth Copeland, many years ago to warn me of an urgent course of action I needed to take to avoid danger to my health. I enjoyed listening to Jesse Duplantis’ hilarious anecdotes and could never have enough of his messages. Even today, if I had the time, I would enjoy listening to him; I think he is the most entertaining preacher in this generation – one of the extremely few who do not cause me to involuntarily doze off in the middle of their sermons.

From all that I have heard and read from them, I can vouch that to this day I have not found any prosperity preacher teaching a single doctrine that would keep them out of the Kingdom of God.  I have not heard a single one of them condoning the breaking of any of God’s commandments. I have yet to hear any of them condoning, say, abortion, or homosexuality, which some great traditional churches, including the Anglican church and many Baptist churches, condone or even warmly embrace.

In 2002, the Diocese of New Westminster, in the Anglican Church of Canada, permitted the blessing of same-sex unions. In 2003 the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire elected an openly gay priest, Gene Robinson, as a bishop. This came shortly after a similar controversy in England when a gay priest, Canon Jeffrey John, was appointed to become the Suffragan Bishop of Reading. Eventually, however, John agreed to withdraw in order to avoid division. In 2004, in the aftermath of Robinson’s election as bishop, John was installed as Dean of St Albans, the cathedral there being the site of England’s first Christian martyr.

In a 2007 speech to theology students in Toronto, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, argued that conservatives have failed to consider the wider context of Romans 1:27, which states, “and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for error”. Williams pointed out that although St. Paul and his contemporaries viewed homosexual behavior “as obviously immoral as idol worship or disobedience to parents”, the main thrust of this passage is that humans must not judge one another for being sinful.   Wikipedia

When an Archbishop declares from his ecclesiastical high seat that what the Scriptures wrote was St. Paul’s and his contemporaries’ view, and by implication not necessarily the view of all Christianity, and that the main thrust of Paul’s message is not to condemn homosexuality but rather not to judge, we have a terrible Christian situation which the wealthiest of prosperity preachers will never put themselves in.

Now, here is my counsel to all people of God, who ‘desire the pure milk of the word’ 1 Pe 2:2 and who are eager ‘to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints’ Jude 1:3.

Understand that it is not the prosperity doctrine or their preachers themselves that is the problem. We don’t know their motives and only God knows how many of them are preaching out of their lust for wealth and fame, and how many out of their sincere conviction of God’s Word. But we can look at the fruits, and judge the fruits, for only by the fruits we can know if such teachings are good for us or not.

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.   Mt 7:15-17

The fact is, the followers of prosperity preachers are producing both good fruit and bad fruit in their lives.

They produce good fruit when they understand that certain decisions and positive courses of action in their lives can lift them from a chronic sense of failure and hopelessness. Many are the testimonies of God’s people, including me, who have benefited from the teachings of these preachers. There is encouragement, there is upliftment, there are positive steps to counter negative influences in a person’s life. If that person sincerely strives to apply the teachings of their prosperous pastors, they too are likely to receive a measure of physical and financial blessings. And some of the more talented ones among their followers can themselves eventually become prosperous purveyors of the heath-wealth gospel.

God has nowhere forbidden his servants from owning one or more of the top of the class executive jets. But, then, Jesus did not prefer a sleek silver chariot to make his celebrated entrance to Jerusalem but chose a young donkey. Shown here a Cessna Citation X, preferred by some of the wealthier prosperity preachers.

Most prosperity preachers today are prosperous servants of God because they learned the art from the pioneers of this modern theology. Perhaps there are some who, after a deep study of the Scriptures and after much fasting and prayer, were given the revelation of the wealth-health gospel by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps.

In my case, after a several-year period of fascination working out the steps and laws and keys to the abundant life as taught by the merry preachers, I was eventually forced to my knees in fasting and prayer to seek on my own the real gospel from God’s Word. And what I write here is the result of what God has given me after I had fully surrendered my life to him.

So, beloved child of God, listen carefully to what I say here, and may God open your eyes as he did mine.

I mentioned that followers of the prosperity preachers can reap good fruits in their lives if they sincerely and consistently apply the teachings. If you are a founder of a company or a ceo, you will definitely benefit much from heeding the management advice of successful entrepreneurs such as Herbert Kelleher, or Peter Drucker, or Jack Welch, Lee Iacocca (to mention a few of the esteemed management teachers). The principles they espouse do bear fruits in the physical and financial spheres.

Kenneth Copeland pointed his finger at me from the TV screen, many years ago, and told me to “stop taking sugar in your life”. Even as I listened to him, I knew in my conscience I should begin to heed his advice immediately, but I postponed. Chocolates and ice-creams and cakes were the favorite foods in my life. Within a couple of years I became a diabetic, and today I have to consume tablets in the morning and pills in the evening to keep my blood glucose level normal. How I wished I had acted immediately on hearing God’s admonition through Copeland.

But many other teachings of the prosperity preachers I listened to in those days proved unfruitful, and had I continued to practice them, they would have had a spiritually disastrous effect on me and my family.

Now let me mention some of the bad fruits of prosperity preaching.

As I mentioned, I could not find one doctrine among the many prosperity teachings I heard that did not have the Bible as its source. That is, they are all factually and technically true.

Yes, the Bible says it is God’s will to bless you with abundant life. Yes, many of God’s greatest servants, like Abraham and Job were highly prosperous people. Yes, the book of Malachi encourages you to prove God’s faithfulness by offering your tithes to him, and you are promised that if you do, you will receive such a measure of blessings you won’t have room enough in your barns to receive them all.

And there lies the crux of the danger of prosperity preaching. It is not the truth or untruth of what is preached, but the focus and defocus of what is given to the congregation.

Have you considered the content of a prosperity sermon? It is 99 percent, probably more so, focused on how to be wealthy, healthy, happy, and successful as a Christian. It is not dissimilar to a self-improvement seminar presenter elaborating to his audience about the seven laws of financial success.

But didn’t Christ come for this very purpose?

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.   Jn 10:10

But there is a path every single born-again Christian has to walk before he or she can enter that abundant life. And no matter how many laws of abundance and success you earnestly apply in your life, that initial path is promised to be full of troubles and difficulties. It is a narrow path on a dangerous ledge, and if you are a normal human being, you are going to slip on that path many times, be badly bruised often, even seriously injured a few times, and perhaps once or twice even totter dangerously on the brink of a precipice. A few, like me, might actually even fall over the ledge into a deep abyss and think they are as good as dead.

If you want the abundant life, you are have to first walk the path that Christ walked.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”   Mt 16:24

If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.   Lk 14:26-27

Maybe some prosperity preachers do quote these verses now and then, but if they want to reap all the benefits of preaching the prosperity gospel, they cannot dwell long on this troubling aspect of the gospel. Who wants to donate a thousand dollars to their favorite evangelist so he could buy a $20 million Cessna Citation X executive jet and go to other nations with the good news, or build a mansion with bathrooms equipped with gold-rimmed washbasins, if he going to keep telling his congregation that to receive this promised life of abundance they have to first give up even the few remaining abundance in their lives before they can follow Christ? If they preach that, they would see their offertories bringing hardly enough tithes even to hire a single-seater Piper aircraft.

What will the prosperity preacher preach to the children or the father of the woman who recently had to give up her life to follow Christ? Just three days before I began to write this message, I got the following news:

A Christian widow has been shot dead in her home in northeast Colombia by guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN).
On 7 January, as the family’s pastor finished an evening devotional in the home of widow, Alicia Castilla, assassins entered the home and opened fire on her with pistols, killing her instantly in front of her three children and her father. The attack occurred four months after the militant group sent Alicia their first demand to abandon her home in Colombia’s volatile Arauca department.
Before leaving the home, the guerrillas told Alicia’s son, 18-year-old Hernán, that the rest of the family had three days to leave the region. After that, the killers warned, they would return and kill other family members one by one.
Alicia’s death follows the murder of her husband, lay evangelist Nelson Ramos, two years before, in January 2011, also at the hands of the ELN. Ramos, who had come to faith in Christ two years before his death, often shared the gospel in Saravena, a town near Colombia’s border with Venezuela. A few months after his conversion, the ELN issued its first expulsion order against him and his family.   World Watch Monitor

What will the prosperity preacher preach to the young woman, Esther, whose father Graham Staines and two little brothers, Philip and Timothy, aged 11 and 9, were burnt alive in their vehicle by a mob of Hindu fanatics because they were preaching Christ to the villagers? Would the abundant life promoters tell her that had her father been applying the laws of visualization and positive confession in his life they could have averted the tragedy?

That greatest of all preachers after Christ…what was Paul’s focus in all his preachings? ‘but we preach Christ crucified’, he declared bluntly. 1 Cor 1:23.

The Christian life begins with not physical and financial euphoria. It begins by taking up the very cross that Christ himself carried and then following the path to Calvary, where you end up being crucified and liberated from your old life.

Sometimes the crucifixion ends with the literal death of the person, as in the case of Ramos and Alicia, and Staines. But far more often, the crucifixion ends with the death of the old self of a person, and this could, in the lives of some people, be as painful as a physical death on the cross.

He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.   Jn 12:25

To give up all your desires in life, and, if need be, even your wife and children if they stand as obstacles in your walk on the Christ path, requires a transformation of your attitude which is possible only by the working of the Holy Spirit in you. No man or woman can naturally die such a death so e can enter the eternally abundant life.

Prosperity preachers are not preaching the wrong gospel. But they are not preaching the full gospel. And they have got the order of God’s blessings in a Christian’s life all mixed up.

Preach the cross of Christ first. Let that be the first and great focus of all your sermons. Preach repentance from the self-life. Without surrendering the self-life, the prosperity gospel serves only to satisfy the cravings of the heart for worldly success and profane pleasures. When you give up all your personal desires to live for Christ and Christ alone, you enter a new dimension of prosperous living – spiritually, physically, and mentally, and, eventually, materially and financially as well.

There is another wonderful truth about the full gospel. Prosperity preachers can preach success and happiness to a person as long as he or she is not under severe affliction. But their teachings become pathetically ineffective in the time of their followers’ adversity. But the abundant life promised by Christ to those who follow him faithfully all the way to his crucifixion is lifelasting and remains steadfast in every circumstance.

Sometimes it takes many years before a true follower of Christ reaps financial and physical abundance. A very few receive it earlier. Many, like my friend, Britto Antony, a Godly quadriplegic and a cretin of about two feet – who had to be carried around like a baby from place to place by a caretaker – never received it in this life and will receive it only when his Lord returns.

But the vast majority will receive many, many blessings in this life itself, some 10 times, some 100 times, more than they had given up to follow Christ.

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold…NOW IN THIS TIME – houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life.   Mt 19:29 merged with Mk 10:30. Emphasis mine

And the very few who do not receive back in full or greater measure what they had given up? The loss doesn’t trouble them anymore, for they rejoice over the far greater spiritual blessings they now have, such as joyous family relationships, peace of mind, sense of absolute security that all their needs will be taken care of, good health, work satisfaction, and much more!

In my own life and my wife’s life, which till very recently were filled to the brim and overflowing with troubles of a magnitude that most Christians do not experience, hundredfold is too small a multiple. I think God has given me about 100,000 times what I had to give up for him. And I did give up almost everything that I had been holding on preciously in my life so I could be a faithful follower of Christ. I had to give up my traditional church, my lifestyle, my wife and children (not physically, by God’s mercies, but emotionally and geographically for many years), my reputation, my freedom, my job, my financial security, a glamorous career as a model, an incredible offer to be a movie actor, and more. And I consider them all but rubbish in comparison to what God has given me in their place today.

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ   Phil 3:7-8

Today, this verse that I quoted at the beginning of this message has special relevance to me:

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

But I still have a lot of troubles and persecutions and expect to have them till my last day on earth. But they do not overwhelm me anymore, for I know I can overcome every one of them as they come up by standing aside and letting the Captain of my life battle them all for me. I just stand on the sidelines holding and waving triumphantly the red banner of victory dyed in my Lord’s blood. I have absolutely no part in this battle against my physical and spiritual adversaries, there is absolutely nothing I can do to contribute to the outcome of the battle, except to keep waving the banner and trusting my Helper’s ability to crush my deadly enemies to dust. After the battle is over, I help my Lord clear the debris strewn on my path as a result of the great conflict that had been waged.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do NOTHING.   Jn 15:5. Emphasis mine.

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies…He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place…You have subdued under me those who rose up against me. You have also given me the necks of my enemies, so that I destroyed those who hated me…Then I beat them as fine as the dust before the wind; I cast them out like dirt in the streets…It is God who avenges me, and subdues the peoples under me; He delivers me from my enemies.   Ps 18

Today, I don’t have yet the material abundance that prosperity preachers exult about – I don’t even own a home of my own, nor have even a car – but I am busy living the abundant life so much that all my days are filled with wondrous excitement and anticipation. I feel I am prosperous beyond measure. And that’s something everyone who has given up given everything for Christ will always feel – that they are prosperous beyond measure – irrespective of the amount they have in their bank account.

Even materially, I am being provided all my needs, and many of my desires – miraculously – even though I personally could not afford any of them by my own income. Someone has taken an elegant apartment for us and paid the rent in advance, without we even mentioning to anyone, except to our Father, our need for a place to stay. And whenever we want to go to a place beyond what our own legs could take us, someone always comes forward and offers to convey us there in his car. Someone even gave me, without my asking for it, this latest expensive Apple computer on which I am now writing this message. Prior to this heavy-duty marvel, I had only a lowcost teeny laptop to do all my vast ministry work.

But the best part is only coming. And I will keep declaring to my brothers and sisters and children in the Lord worldwide all that that our Father is doing for me and through me. I feel in my very cells that the Lord will grant me even the whole world as my field of ministry if I ask him for it.

Most assuredly, I say to you, WHATEVER you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be FULL.   Jn 16:23-24. Emphasis mine.

That’s something everyone who has given up given everything for Christ will always feel – that their joy is full, and that they are prosperous beyond measure.


Prosperity preachers are not preaching the wrong gospel. But they are not preaching the FULL gospel. And they have got the order of God’s blessings in a Christian’s life all mixed up.


Now, lest any child of God fear that he or she does not have what it takes to surrender their self totally to Christ and go through all the initial tribulations of carrying Christ’s cross, here is my testimony for your encouragement and enlightenment.

In over 40 years of my following Christ, I have suffered innumerable trials, about some of which you may read in my other messages in this website. But even as I went through each flood and fire, God was there holding my hand firmly and never letting me go, no, not once. I thought on many occasions he had slackened his firm grip on me, or even abandoned me, only to find later he was there all along holding me as firmly as ever, and sometimes, when I felt too weak to walk, carrying me in his bosom.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.   Is 43:2

He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.   Is 40:11

He will never abandon you even for a second, no matter what great trouble befalls you either because of your follies and sins, or because of persecutions.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?   Rm 8:35

But the most comforting assurance for me is that he never once let me suffer any trouble that was beyond my ability to endure, but he always provided a way for me to somehow bear it until it was past.

For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.   1 Cor 10:13  AMP

As that great woman of God, Mother Teresa, stated it,

I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.

That is the real gospel, the true Christian walk, that is the true abundant life – far more overflowing, far more joyful and peaceful than that any prosperity gospel can offer.

So am I saying never listen to prosperity preachers? Not at all. Listen if you have the time for it, and see if there are any nuggets of practical wisdom you can use to your benefit as you carry the cross of Christ.

But take every care not to be lured by the prosperity promise of immediate wealth and success. God is more interested in your faithfulness to him than your earthly success. For him, faithfulness in the midst of a life of troubles is the greatest success in the universe. Focus your life solely on being daily faithful to him, even in the least areas, and he will take it upon himself to give you success in his own way and in his own time.

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.   Mt 6:33  AMP

I always keep foremost in my mind what Mother Teresa said and exemplified by her life:

God didn’t call me to be successful; God called me to be faithful.

We cannot know the inner motives of any preacher. He may preach a hundred percent doctrinally sound gospel, and yet be a ravening wolf inside. He may preach many errors, but be highly esteemed in God’s sight. I believe that many, perhaps, most, are earnest and faithful servants of Christ who, for reasons only God knows, have not received the understanding of the full gospel of Christ. Remember what Christ told his disciples about a preacher who was not one of Christ’s known followers:

Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side.”   Mk 9:38-40

If the preacher is on the Lord’s side, if he is not propagating that Jesus is a mere prophet and not the Son of God, if he does not condone homosexuality or any other sinful acts of his people, if he is proclaiming there is only one Way and one Name by which man can be saved – then he is accepted of Christ – whether he is a screaming Pentecostal, or a strange Mormon, or a mitered Orthodox, or even a prosperous plump preacher flying in his own Gulfstream IV jet.

When you give up everything to follow Christ, you will find abundant life and excitement even in the simplest living circumstances.   Courtesy: Namlhots

One of the tragic outcomes of focusing on the prosperity gospel without a far greater focus on the cross of Christ is that followers will embrace with gladness the teachings of the preacher, but when the testings of the true Christian life begin, they draw away, disillusioned not only with the preacher but with Christ and Christianity itself.

These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.   Mk 4:16-18

Prosperity preachers had told me, ‘When God is pleased with you, he prospers you’. After decades of trying to please him in all sincerity and earnestness, and yet sinking further and further into financial debt and personal weaknesses, I gave up altogether not only the prosperity gospel but the entire package, including Christianity and Christ. I tried to find refuge in another religion, and today would have been preaching an anti-Christ gospel instead of this message. But, Christ, who promised that he will never abandon us or forsake us, even when we forsake him, pulled me out of my deadly spiritual situation and embraced me with such intense affection and assurance that I decided I want to do nothing else in life but just tell people around the world what awesome love and mercy, and incidentally, what great prosperity, God is waiting to fill our lives with.

Today I can preach both the cross and the prosperity message because I have received in full measure both the tribulations and jubilations of Christ in me.

Today I can comfort the afflicted and I can also encourage the prosperous, because I have been comforted and encouraged by our Father.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.   2 Cor 1:3-5

As for the prosperity preachers, if you aren’t happy with their gospel, don’t judge them, don’t condemn them. Leave them alone. God will reveal their motives on that day when every preacher will be tested for their faithfulness to Christ.

Thus says the Lord concerning the [false] prophets who lead my people astray;
When they have something good to bite with their teeth,
They call out, “Peace,”
But against the one who gives them nothing to eat,
They declare a holy war.
Therefore it will be night (tragedy) for you – without vision,
And darkness (cataclysm) for you—without foresight.
The sun shall go down on the [false] prophets,
And the day shall become dark and black over them.
The seers shall be ashamed
And the diviners discredited and embarrassed;
Indeed, they shall all cover their mouths [in shame]
Because there is no answer from God.
But in fact, I am filled with power,
With the Spirit of the Lord,
And with justice and might,
To declare to Jacob his transgression
And to Israel his sin.   Mi 3:5-8 AMP

Pappa Joseph

 

 

A Great Leader in the Church, but a Failure at Home

 

Image by Monika Robak from Pixabay

 

Among the greatest Godly leaders mentioned in the Bible are also the greatest failures as fathers. That seems like an impossible paradox. How can a man be great in his relationship with God while he is an utter failure in his home? But the mystery of truth is that such paradoxes do happen.

I haven’t taken a count yet, but it seems to me that there are more failed fathers and husbands among the Bible heroes than there are those who have successfully parented their children and happily spoused their wives.

The greatest failure as a father and a husband is one of the greatest men of God, David. Is there any other Godly man whose many sons, every one of them, turned out to be unGodly? The one seeming exception, Solomon, was an exception only in his younger days, for in his old age he too turned to idolatry. Worse, he fathered children who were even more profane than his brothers.

The second greatest failure as a father, among other Bible greats, is Samuel. This man is so great in God’s sight that he is one of the two persons (the other is Moses) given special mention by the Lord.

Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people”   Jer 15:1

Now let’s hear what God’s Word says about the outcome of Samuel’s parenting ways.

Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”  1 Sam 8:1-5

The wickedness of Samuel’s sons was the direct cause for Israel’s desiring a human king and rejecting God as their king. Israel’s great King had been directly reigning over his people and administering his justice through human ‘judges’ he appointed in each generation. Samuel was the last judge of Israel, the last representative of Israel’s theocracy – the last one only because this great man of God did not have one righteous son to succeed him.

But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them”   1 Sam 8:6-7

Samuel’s childhood guardian, Eli, although not mentioned as a great servant of God, was nevertheless a priest and the judge of Israel prior to Samuel. His failure as a father caused the death of his two sons, which brought a tragic end to his own life.

Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord…Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord…Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the Lord’s people transgress. If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him?” Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the Lord desired to kill them…Then the Lord said to Samuel…In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he DID NOT restrain them…So the messenger answered and said, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter among the people. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead; and the ark of God has been captured.” Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.’    1 Sam chapters 1-4. Emphasis mine.

Eli did admonish his sons now and then, but he did not do enough to restrain them. He totally failed in God’s sight as a parent.

As in ancient Israel, many leaders in God’s church in the present generation are so busily and faithfully engaged in doing the Lord’s work they don’t realize their home life is being seriously neglected.

Their children are being slowly lured away by the devil, their wives are secretly sorrowing. And someone or something will have to give way in the family lives of such leaders sooner or later.

In my native country, teeming with itinerant evangelists and local pastors, there is an impression in the general Christian community that many of them have children who are generally more wayward than children of parents not in the Lord’s work. Now this may not be a fair evaluation; perhaps only an infinitesimal fraction of church leaders may have begotten unruly offspring. But it certainly is a significant infinitesimal fraction. Just one pastor or priest failing as a father or a husband is sufficient for the devil to wreck much harm on the reputation of both his particular church and Christians in general in the eyes of the unbelieving public.

About three years ago I read of Benny Hinn’s divorce. A few months after his divorce, Benny Hinn said on his show ‘This is your Day’, that he was oftentimes ‘caught up with the ministry’ so much that he neglected his family. ‘I’ve made mistakes because I wasn’t the perfect husband and the perfect dad because I was always gone traveling the world,’ he remorsed. ‘That’s probably what broke the whole thing up.’

Hinn then told his viewers ‘not to neglect your family’, saying that the call of God should first touch the family.

Then recently I heard that the couple have been reconciled, and I heard Hinn declaring on his show: ‘I always thought that it was God first, then his ministry, and then my family. Now I realize that it is God first, my family second, and then God’s work’.

Benny Hinn is fortunate to have a reconciliation with his wife and the realization of the priorities in a minister’s life. But the tragedy is, too many other church leaders have not realized what Hinn had to discover painfully. Too many of them are unintentionally causing their children to turn to unrighteous ways. Too many of them are divorcing or having an unhappy marriage. I could give many examples, but don’t think that is necessary. You could easily have an idea of the scope of these sad realities in God’s church by an online search. But I wish to give one tragic example, just one that saddens me whenever I think of it.

It is the story of Jim Bakker and his wife, and their son.

Jim Bakker, as many of you may remember, was a famous televangelist in the 1970s and 80s. As has happened to many other faithful people of God, he once succumbed to the devil’s temptation, and his ministry and his reputation were totally destroyed. But worse, his family life was also splintered when his wife divorced him. God forgave his sins the moment he realized it and repented, which might have been immediately after his sinful act, or during his imprisonment. But he did repent.

‘My heart was crushed to think that I led so many people astray. I was appalled that I could have been so wrong, and I was deeply grateful that God had not struck me dead as a false prophet!’ said Jim in his 1996 book ‘I Was Wrong’.

But the public was not as quick to forgive him. And Jim faded from the annals of Christian evangelism. I did not hear of him again for a couple of decades, and then, a few years ago I read that he is back in the Lord’s service, full of the old gusto but with a new heart and a new zeal, and a new Jim Bakker Show – an hour-long daily broadcast that is aired throughout the United States, Canada, and other countries. I was happy for him.

Then, some months ago, I accidentally came across a video of a handsome young preacher and church leader. It was Jim Bakker’s son, Jay, co-founder of Revolution Church in New York City. Out of curiosity, I listened to his message…and I heard tragedy again. I heard him with my own ears declaring in his sermon: ‘I am pro-gay marriage. I don’t think it is a sin’.

Jim Bakker slipped once, repented, and now serves as a faithful minister of Christ. But the most tragic aspect of the story of his life is not related to his fall as a minister, but his failure as a father. His greatest sin may have been that he didn’t restrain his son from attitudes and ways that turned him into rejecting God’s Law relating to sexuality. Perhaps Jim may have restrained his son, I don’t know, but that didn’t prevent his offspring from not just condoning but actually promoting sin (by heading a ‘pro-gay’ ministry) in his congregation through his messages.

If a man desires to be a leader in Christ’s household, he should first prove his capability and earnestness to God by the way he rules his own household.

If anyone wants to provide leadership in the church, good! But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he’s talking about, not be overfond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry. He must rule his own household well, keeping his children under control, with true dignity, commanding their respect in every way and keeping them respectful. For if a man does not know how to rule his own household, how is he to take care of the church of God?’   1 Tm 3:1-3 The Message; 4-5 AMP

So, Christian worker – pastor, priest, preacher, evangelist, elder, deacon, Bible teacher, or a servant of Christ in some other field – how faithful have you been in the greatest aspect of the Lord’s ministry through you – bringing up your children in all Godliness and being a wonderful husband to the woman you married?

May the Lord direct your path into serving him both as a great servant of God and equally as a great father and husband.

 

Pappa Joseph

 

 

The Mark of the Beast Has Already Begun Appearing!

 

 

Bible believers know this verse:

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.   Rev 13:16-17

But perhaps what most regular Bible readers do not know is that this mark has already begun appearing in some places. Perhaps most of them thought, like I did until I read a certain news a short while ago, that this mark would be imposed suddenly, someday in the future, after the appearance of the Beast. The appearance of this mark is one of the surest signs that we are already living in the endtimes, and that the global reign of the Beast, and also the return of Christ, are very imminent. Nobody can set dates, but Jesus said that when we see the leaves begin to appear on the fig tree we know that summer is near – even at the doors!. So, we can expect the Beast to make his appearance soon, very soon. How soon? No one can say with absolute certainty, but I am much inclined to think it will occur in my lifetime, and I am 68 as I write this.

Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near – at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.   Mt 24:32-35

Which ‘generation’ is Jesus talking of? Surely it can’t be the generation of his physical lifetime, simply because ‘all these things’ did not take place then. So, obviously, he is talking about the generation that sees the leaves beginning to appear – and that is, by all evidence, this present generation, our generation!

Here’s the news headline I saw a while ago:

“China to launch digital yuan next year to replace cash”

The news reported that the “People’s Bank of China has revealed plans to have its sovereign digital currency ready in time for the 2022 Winter Olympics…Limited trials are already underway in Shenzhen, Suzhou, Chengdu and the Xiongan New Area in the northern province of Hebei…If the government is satisfied with the results of this year’s tests, the currency will be issued next year. Otherwise, more tests will be conducted next year.” rt.com

This decision by the Chinese government came as the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated a shift away from paper money. The Corona virus has set the stage for several major paradigm shifts from the traditional functioning of global society. The shift to digital currency is among the greatest global transformations being brought about by the virus. Other major shifts occurring include working from home, online schooling, dramatic increase in online shopping, greater screening of people coming into a country, and, of course, far greater focus by governments on the health sector. One of the minor changes is the end of traditional and official greeting with a handshake or hug, and perhaps more widespread use of masks in places such as theatres, sports venues, malls, etc. One thing that will not continue after the end of the pandemic is social distancing, because physical closeness is an innate need of human society.

What are the implications of this shift to digital currency for China? It is that digital money gives the Chinese government total control and awareness of how every single citizen uses es money!

Listen to what two readers commented after reading that article:

“When all cash is purged from the system, we will be at the mercy of the banks and politicians. Negative interest rates and capital confiscation will be just a mere mouseclick away.”

“They are leading the world only to a deeper tyranny. Removing the ability to buy food, etc with cash, no matter whether rich or poor, is the biggest tyranny. Only the duped would agree to hand over total control of their buying power to banks/govs, and agree to being surveilled on every single purchase you make. But the important point is, if the only way to purchase is 100% digital, you would only need to go against official government regulation in any field to expect to have your ‘only’ means to purchase food, pay rent, etc, stopped.”

In November 2016, when I was in my native country for a few months, I woke up one morning to the startling news that two widely used banknotes – 500 and 1000 rupees – were not valid for transactions anymore. The government of Modi was using a new strategy called demonetization to ferret out the money hoarders and their black wealth. The only way people could use the invalidated banknotes was to go to a bank, fill in a declaration form, and get an equivalent amount in newly issued 2000 rupee banknotes. Such high-denomination banknotes were very difficult to use in ordinary transactions because banknotes in the lower denominations were in acute shortage. People seeking to exchange their banknotes had to stand in lengthy queues, and several deaths were linked to the rush to exchange cash. Over a billion people suffered for several weeks while they waited for small-denomination banknotes to be available again for their daily use. I too had to wait in long queues in front of the ATMs to get some cash during the one or two hours the banknotes were available each day before they ran out.

The demonetization strategy was a total failure. The intent of the government was to “curtail the shadow economy and reduce the use of illicit and counterfeit cash to fund illegal activity and terrorism”. According to a 2018 report from the Reserve Bank of India, approximately 99.3% of the banknotes that had been demonetized were deposited with the banking system, leading analysts to state that the effort had failed to remove black money from the economy. According to data from income tax probes, black money holders kept only 6% or less of their wealth as cash, with most of their wealth held in the form of properties, bullion, and jewelry.

The reason I mentioned the above incident is that black money and counterfeit cash cannot be eliminated as long as the government has no absolute monitoring system for each individual’s transactions. Only digital money can do that.

Dictatorial-minded governments, or governments aiming for total surveillance of their citizens, will heartily welcome China’s decision. I expect my own country to follow its neighbor’s example in less than five years, and the global currency system to turn entirely digital, and all paper money to be totally abolished, within five to ten years.

The next phase, after total conversion of the world’s monetary system into digital form, will be the total control of how people use their money. For example, if anyone uses es money for an illegal purchase or a criminal activity, that transaction will not pass through, and the would-be criminal prosecuted.

The third phase, after the total monitoring of how money is used, will be the total control of who uses the money. For example, citizens who attend religious services that are not officially approved by the government will be penalized. Churches will have to abide by government regulations that contravene several of their traditional policies, including conducting LGBT weddings, not prohibiting gays from joining the clergy, teaching theistic evolution, submitting to the edicts of a world church council headed by the pope, or even illegalizing the Bible as the sole scripture for use in church services. All such control will be possible through the technology on which digital money is used. And that technology is called ‘blockchain’. Currently available digital money such as bitcoin and Ethereum use the blockchain system.

When blockchain-based currencies are firmly in place globally, it will usher in the reign of the Beast, who will control the whole world using this technology.

Now let me introduce you to George Gilder, a man whose technological predictions every Bible believer should take seriously. George Gilder is one of the world’s most prominent technology futurists. And with good reason. He accurately tipped President Ronald Reagan off that the microchip would change the world. Gilder then went on to become Reagan’s most quoted living author, and he received the White House Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence in 1986 from Reagan himself. He predicted the iPhone 13 years before its release. He forecast the death of cable TV – and the rise of Netflix – more than a decade before it existed. According to Forbes, “Few men or women in modern times have been so consistently farsighted in fathoming the future of high technology as George Gilder has been”.

Listen to what George Gilder says about the blockchain technology in his book ‘Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy’:

Disaggregated [become separated into smaller parts] will be Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft conglomerates…Even money itself is being disaggregated and reinvented. The clouds are dispersing into the skies – sky computing rendered on your laptop and smartphone, spread across blockchains.

Where will the use of blockchain technology ultimately lead to? Gilder concludes,

The final test is whether the new regime [blockchain system] serves the human mind and consciousness.

A world government is coming which will use the blockchain system, not to benefit the human mind, but to control and manipulate the people. Faithful Christians who will not submit to the evil regime of the Beast will not be able to buy or sell anything because their digital money is controlled by the mark – a microchip – implanted in the people’s forehead or right hand, which enables the authorities to monitor their every activity. God’s intervention to provide for his people miraculously during such a perilous time will be the only way Christians can survive until the return of their Savior.

 

Pappa Joseph

 

 

God’s Plan for Your Life Today

 

If you love God, and have an innate longing to please him and walk in his ways – no matter how sinful your life presently is – then you belong to the first of the two categories of human beings born since the creation of Adam and Eve.

The first category are people who were predestined – that is, preplanned – long before they were conceived in the womb, to be saved through Jesus Christ, and live forever with him in the Kingdom of God. These people are the ‘children of promise’.  They are born of God’s will. The uniqueness of this category of people is that from birth they have a love of God, or at least they do not have innate hate for God and his ways.

The second category of people are those who are the ‘children of flesh’, born by chance by the will of their human father, or to put it bluntly, they are conceived as a result of the sheer pull of a man’s groins. These children are accursed from the womb, and they are born with a heart that is naturally rebellious against God. Two examples are Cain and Esau. Ponder the following verses carefully:

For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.   1 Jn 3:11-12

“I have loved you,” says the Lord. “Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’ Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” Says the Lord. “Yet Jacob I have loved; but Esau I have hated   Mal 1:2-3

The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.   Ps 58:3

Please try to grasp the awesomeness of this truth: God knew you personally even before the creation of the world. The fact that you are inclined to love God is not accidental but providential; that inclination was put in you even when you were in your mother’s womb.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you   Jer 1:5

But You are He who took me out of the womb; You caused me to trust while I was on my mother’s breasts. I was cast on You from birth; You are my God from my mother’s womb  Ps 22:9-10 MEV

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.   Ps 139:16

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself   Eph 1:4-5

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.   Ps 139:16

If you love God, it is the absolute evidence that God was speaking about you to the heavenly host and mentioning your name to them even when you were being formed in your mother’s womb.

The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.   Is 49:1 KJV

You were put on earth for a specific and eternal purpose. Your Creator has laid out a definite and detailed plan for your life, both here in this life on physical earth and in the coming life in the Kingdom of God.

Whatever has happened to you in this life so far – all the troubles, all the sufferings, all the sins you committed, all the failures – happened within God’s specific plan for your life. Not a hair of your head fell to the earth without its fulfilling in some infinitesimal way God’s plan he set for you eons before you were born. Your Father in heaven allowed you to make mistakes, allowed you to fall into sin, allowed sufferings, but only because those failures, sins, sufferings, were molding you and preparing you for the plan he has in mind for you.

The future is already laid out for you. God will ensure that no matter what you do, you will eventually become the workmanship he had planned for you. He will complete the work that he began in your life when you were conceived.

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ   Phil 1:6

Something awesome is destined for you in this life. And what is that? That before you die, your life will be made complete, perfected, so you are ready to enter God’s Kingdom and begin fulfilling your eternal purpose God destined for you when he formed you in the womb. Nobody, not even Jesus knows what exactly is the position or responsibility your Father has planned for you in his Kingdom. In fact, so specific is God’s plan for his Kingdom that he is preparing, or already has prepared, two people to sit on Jesus’ right hand and his left hand when the Lord returns to earth.

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”

And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.”

But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

They said to Him, “We are able.”

So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.”   Mk 10:35-40

Whatever you will go through during the rest of your life on earth, literally everything that will happen to you, will be part of the plan God has for you for this life. That includes all the sins you will commit in the future. God is not responsible for the particular sins you will commit, but he is fully responsible for allowing that particular sin to be committed by you, so you can experience the terrible penalty and suffering caused by that sin, and having experienced it, you can repent and grow even stronger than you were before that sin. But if there is an evil event, or a sin, or any other circumstance that will take away in the least from, or do not contribute in some way to, God’s plan for your life, then he will not allow it to happen. What greater assurance can we have of our salvation, of our ultimate success and victory in this life!

Today you are in the right place, at the right time, doing the very thing God has allowed you to do. What’s happening today is happening according to God’s plan. If it is something sinful, then be assured you are going to come out of it spiritually clean sooner or later, and stronger for your experience of that sin.

However, understand this vital truth. God is not creating zombies or robots. Today you can decide whether to facilitate God’s plan for you by yielding sooner to his will in your life, or continue to live as you are in your present state of sin, and after suffering the consequences for a while, yield to him then. If you are wise, you will take the first course. But either way, you are going to end up exactly where God has planned for you in this life. How soon, how smoothly, is all upto you.

Today you can make the decision to make God’s plan for you easier and smoother each day by walking in the path he counsels you to take. This path is shown in the Bible. It’s a narrow path, but it’s the path that will take you soonest and smoothest, and with the least suffering, to the place God has planned for you even before you existed.

Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.   Heb 3:15

Your future is laid out for you. Therefore go forth, child of God, and do all you can to do your little part in God’s plan for you. Keep God’s commandments with all your heart, might, soul and mind. Draw close to God, and your battles against various sin will be won earlier.

Remember, no sin, no evil,  no force on earth or in the heavens will be able to thwart God’s plan for you and his faithfulness toward you. he has for you. Absolutely nothing.

So, go forward, O called of God from the foundation of the world, and live your life to the fullest. All the forces in the universe are with you to help fulfil the plan God has for you.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.   Rm 8:31-39

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jer 29:11  (For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  NIV)

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.   1 Cor 2:9

 

Pappa Joseph

 

Image Courtesy: Jan Tik-flickr.com/photos/jantik

 

 

There is a Faith that Delivers and a Faith that Eventually Destroys the Believer

Many sincere Christians are clinging to a deadly kind of faith.

 

I wonder if there is a more disputed, a more misunderstood subject in Christianity than Faith. Perhaps Grace and Law may be a more discussed and more disagreed on subject, but Faith is certainly the most important and the most consequential of ununderstood and misunderstood subjects among Christians. Because a wrong understanding of grace and law will not keep a person from the Kingdom of God, but without faith no one will enter the presence of God.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him   Heb 11:6

Faith is one of the three greatest and absolutely required qualities in a Christian. Cor 13:13  Which is why Satan has taken extra efforts to sow confusion among God’s people over this subject.

Let’s consider faith from the viewpoint of various people who think they have faith.

I will start with the teachings of an internationally known preacher and founder of a worldwide church, from whom I received my initial understanding of the Bible. He stands first and greatest among all my spiritual teachers. But, sadly, he is also the man who stands first among the teachers of serious doctrinal errors. He wrote a book on this subject titled ‘What is Faith’.  This preacher died 30 years ago, but the heavy legacy of his teaching on faith – and its closely related subject, healing – continues to affect tens of thousands of Christians to this day. His doctrine of faith is very similar to what millions of believers in Pentecostal, Evangelical, and many other denominations believe in.

Faith, according to this church founder, is the absolute belief that something you asked for from God is on its way, or has been answered, even if you cannot see any evidence of it – if God has promised it in his Word.

To give a practical example, if a man has cancer of his lungs, and he is ready to believe what the Bible says – and the Bible certainly says that God heals the sick – he should ask God for healing. And then, he should ensure he does not allow doubt to creep into his mind. Even if he feels and sees the cancer galloping through his body, he should rest assured he is already healed and act and think as if the cancerous tissues have disappeared from his lungs. To quote from his publication:

Once you have received the possession, you no longer hope for it. But even before you receive it, you have it in substance; and that substance – that assurance that you shall possess it – is faith.

Then again, faith is an evidence – the “evidence of things not seen.” Faith precedes the actual receiving of what you ask for. And faith is the evidence you shall have it, before you even see it. It is the evidence of things not yet seen. You do not have it. You do not see it, or feel it – yet faith is your evidence that you have, or shall have it. Faith is the substance – the assurance – of receiving that which you still hope for…

Now suppose you ask God to heal you. Naturally, you want some evidence that you are going to be healed. So what is that evidence, that proof? Is it the evidence of the pain ceasing – or the swelling going down – something you can feel, and see? I know a man who said, “When I can see anyone healed by direct prayer, then I’ll believe in it.” This man said he wanted to believe in it – he wanted to have faith in it! He was looking for an evidence that he could see – and he died without ever seeing it!

‘What Is Faith’ by Herbert W. Armstrong; originally published by the Worldwide Church of God, and now published by Philadelphia Church of God; also available free on several websites.

That teaching sounds very authoritative and Biblical. But I know of people, including those in the very church of this preacher, who applied this kind of faith and died miserable deaths. I know of others who, when the evidence they believed turned out to be the very opposite in reality, became so disgruntled with God that they quit their ministry and turned against God.

Before I pass on to you what the Holy Spirit has taught me about faith, let me give you one more example of the erroneous – and dangerous – teaching on this subject, from the same book I mentioned above:

Set over the affairs of the province of Babylon were Daniel’s three young Jewish friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. One of the commandments of God’s eternal spiritual law forbids such worship of images…But these three young Jews knew the truth – that we should obey God rather than men, that through faith God makes it possible. When they firmly refused to bow down to worship the king’s image, Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded they be brought before him (Dan 3:13).

Listen to the quiet, trusting, unafraid answer of these lads. “O Nebuchadnezzar … our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace”! (verses 16-18).

Sometimes God tries our faith. He tried theirs. You might think He failed them, but He only permitted their faith to be tested.

“Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him”!

There was an example of living faith – a faith that trusted God to make it possible to live the way of His law! Yes, with God, it is possible to keep all His Commandments – don’t let any man deceive you to the contrary!

So, according to this preacher, because these three young men applied faith – faith that was the evidence that they were already protected, even though their physical eyes were showing they were being flung into the furnace – they were delivered from being burnt alive in the flames.

I wonder what kind of faith another servant of God, whose whole life had been totally devoted to preaching Christ and caring for lepers, was applying when he and his two sons were burned to death when their vehicle was set alight by Hindu mobsters in a village in India. Maybe he didn’t have enough of the faith that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had to be rescued from the flames. If you haven’t yet, read the story of Graham Staines online, and what his widow teaches about faith.

The awesome immortal story of the three young men who were cast into a furnace made seven times hotter, is a favorite with preachers trying to explain what true faith is. In a book published by a different church, another preacher, also a famed one, narrated the same story when he wrote about faith, and quoted the same passage from Daniel chapter 3. The coincidence is that, in both the publications the authors end the quote with the following verse:

If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.

But interestingly, the next verse was not quoted in either of the books. Here are the two verses together:

If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.  But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.   Dan 3:17-18 (Emphasis mine]

Those three words, ‘But if not’ are the most important words in the whole story about the faith of those three youths of God. Those three words are the absolute quintessence of what true faith is. Those three words are what every servant of God should preach to God’s people about faith.

But before I tell you about the faith encapsulated in those three words, let me mention two cases where faith, as taught in the above-referred booklets, was applied for deliverance. In the first case, it relates to a senior evangelist in the church founded by the first preacher I mentioned, the author of ‘What Is Faith’. The second relates to a prominent pastor who served in another church and who also lived by this kind of faith.

The senior evangelist was one of the prominent ministers in the church, which had congregations in many countries, and his name was wellknown to the members around the world. This church did not approve of its members going to doctors. (But they could go to the dentist. They could have dental work done, but for some unexplained reason the other parts of the body were considered more sacred and off limits to doctors.)

Well, this evangelist and his wife were faithful, unquestioning members of the church. Then his wife became ill, and of course, she refused medical treatment because she was a ‘true believer’. By the time her husband realized things were not working as she and he had believed and tried to get medical help, it was too late. She died at the age of 54. And she was not the first one in the church. Several others like her had died earlier because they refused medical attention.

This evangelist then began to question the teachings of the church, and did his own exploration of the faith doctrine from the Bible. He came to the shocking realization that he had been tragically wrong. Of course, he couldn’t go far in disputing this doctrine with the church’s top leadership, for he was soon disfellowshipped for questioning the teachings of the founder. He lost his wife, he lost his church, he lost all he had believed in his life till then.

His story is just one of the many, many tragedies happening in God’s churches around the world today in every nation, all because of a wrong understanding of faith.

Those three words, ‘But if not’ are the most important words in the whole story about the faith of those three youths of God. Those three words are the absolute quintessence of what true faith is.

The second true story is just as tragic.

In his article, When Cliches Don’t Work, Christian writer Steven Brown recounts his visit to a man who had been one of his ‘heroes’ and a friend. This friend had been the pastor of large churches, an author of some note and a famous evangelical leader. Steven Brown went to visit him because he had just been told that he was dying of cancer.

When he saw his friend, he saw no ‘hero’, but the tragic figure of a man who was “broken, bitter and without any hope”. The pastor who had been encouraging his large congregations Sunday after Sunday with messages of faith, hope and love, now lay dying and embittered, without hope and without faith, and without much of his old fervent love for God either.

What does your faith do to you when all the props that had been steadily holding up your security structure fall together; when you have had every dream you had been excitedly clinging to shattered and every desire you had been cherishing taken away; when you are left with absolutely no more hope, no more years left for this life?

This, child of God, is when you know with absolute certainty if you have true faith or not, and whether the teachings you have received from your church or spiritual leader are wholly based on a correct understanding of God’s Word, or not.

The faith in the two cases I mentioned above ended with the tragic death of the believers. I don’t mean just physical death. I mean also the destruction of the believers’ convictions, their assurance, their sense of security, their happiness, and worst of all, their relationship with God. Everything goes down in the abyss of despair and hopelessness when believed-in faith is revealed to be baseless.

So what is the true faith that always delivers, that never fails?

Please keep it foremost in your mind, Bible believer, that faith is NOT primarily the granting of petitions and desires you made to God. That is the most elementary understanding of faith, but which many, many renowned ministers of Christ think is the complete understanding of it. This elementary understanding is based on various promises in the Bible. Here are the most wellknown verses relating to God answering our prayers and granting us our desires:

Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.   Ps 37:4

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.   Mt 7:7

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!   Mt 7:11

Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.   Mk 11:24

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.   Lk 11:9

If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.   Jn 14:14

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.   Jn 15:7

And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.   Jn 16:23

Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.   Jn 16:24

And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.   1 Jn 3:22

It is absolutely clear to even a little child that these promises mean that God will grant us what we desire and ask him for in faith. Now the little child of God also thinks that while God will grant us whatever we desire of him, the child, for his part, should ask in faith. If he loses faith, he is not going to receive anything from God. If he has faith, he can receive absolutely anything from God – wealth, health, protection, healing, deliverances – if God has promised it in his Word. And God has promised wealth, health, protection, healing, deliverances, and more in the Bible, hasn’t he?

So what’s the catch, what’s the problem, and why am I writing this message?

Because of the naive assumption of the believer when asking God for something.

According to the teaching of many, perhaps most, preachers, the believer has a vital role in determining if he receives the answer to his prayer.  He should not waver in his faith when he waits for the answer he asked for. If he wavers, then he is rebuked with the verse in James 1:6:

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.

So the believer asks and waits in prayer, and he struggles to maintain ‘faith’, that is, not doubt God’s unfailing promise. Doubts would come, naturally, but he wrestles against them, and somehow continues to keep ‘faith’ faithfully.

Isn’t that how many Christians, perhaps even you, exercise faith when they ask God for something? That was how I exercised faith for several decades after I decided to follow Christ, because I was told by my church that was the only way to receive healing and other promises of God.

Oh, how I struggled with all my mental capacity to maintain faith for the petitions I made to God. I would ask for money for some important desire. I would ask for healing of a painful ailment. I would plead with God to protect me from prison and humiliation. No man could have prayed more and exercised more faith in my kind of situation. But all I got in answer to my tearful supplications in those decades were more financial problems, more painful ailments, more imprisonments, and increased humiliation.

Then, after 30 years of praying and exercising sincere faith in that manner, I gave up on faith altogether. I gave up on the God who made all those failed promises in the Bible, I gave up my church, my religion, and went searching for a new faith that really worked. I had become like the pastor of the large churches, referred to earlier, who, when God did not deliver him from his cancer as he pleaded for, became embittered, broken and hopeless. But the faithful Christ, who remains ever faithful to us and promised never to forsake or abandon us, even when we give up on him and abandon him for other faiths, rescued me from disaster and self-destruction. And he, through the Holy Spirit, began to personally teach me the true delivering faith. I have been living by that faith, as directly taught to me by my Savior, for many years now.

When God made those promises in the Bible, he made them to people who understood his will for their lives. The promises were made to people who always, consciously or subconsciously, begin their prayers with the words taught by their Lord, ‘Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’. That is their greatest desire above every other desire. That is their one absolutely overriding request to God that supersedes, modifies, magnifies, or even obliterates every other desire in their life so that this one desire – which is, God’s will be done in their lives – can be granted in answer to their prayers.

Those who ask God for something – for health, for deliverance from sickness, for a happy marriage, for children, for a job – and then turn bitter against him for not granting what they desperately and sincerely asked for in faith, forget their master’s first requirement for following him. We cannot hope to receive anything from him unless we are following him. And what did our Master tell us when we made a decision to follow him?

Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters – yes, even one’s own self! – can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.   Lk 14:26. The Message

If you haven’t yet let go of your own self-desires, if you aren’t yet ready to even forsake your own family, if they stand in your way, to follow the One who died for you, then you haven’t qualified to ask him anything.

But the astonishing truth of God’s amazing grace is that even when a nominal Christian, who thinks he is following Christ but is only following his own self-desires, when he sincerely and perseveringly prays, God does grant him many of his requests – even as a physical father would grant some requests of his disobedient son. God may grant him his requests only to a limited extent, but the testimonies of many people I personally know – even those who do not believe in Christ and do not know of a single promise in the Bible – have convinced me that our God is so good that he often answers the prayers of people who have the wrong kind of faith but whose hearts are sincere before God.

I personally know several people of Hindu and Muslim faiths receiving astonishing answers to their prayers, because they prayed with a right attitude and for the right reasons in the sight of their Creator.

But as for you, man or woman of Christ, if you believe God’s promises in the Bible, then it is not enough that just ‘many’ of your prayers are granted, while some, and especially in critical situations, as in the case of the pastor dying of cancer, are not granted. If you are a faithful follower of Christ, then every single one of the promises in the 10 verses I quoted above, and in the numerous other verses in the Bible that I didn’t quote, should be granted to you without fail.

Every prayer of mine is saturated with monotonous requests for granting me this, or that, or other desire. I have hundreds granted already in the past, and thousands of other requests which I have rolled off from my prayer mat onto the foot of God’s throne, and which have not been granted yet, but I know with absolute certainty they too will be granted in God’s own good time.

As I said, God has given these promises for his people who have, or is ever ready, to forsake everything to follow him. These promises are meant for people who want God’s will to be done in their lives above every personal desire.

Now, if that senior cancer-stricken pastor had really given his life over to Christ, would he be unwilling when Christ asks him to lay it down for him? Instead of giving it up without a moment’s hesitation, he got bitter and lost his sense of security and his confidence in God. He loved his own life more than his Savior, not realizing that his Savior had first given up his life to save him from his wretched sinful state and from eternal death. That servant of God must have prayed the Lord’s Prayer with his congregations many times during his active pastoral days. But every time he uttered those words ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ he didn’t mean it at all. When that part of the prayer came, he was subconsciously praying, ‘my will be done on earth, as yours is in heaven’.

Every time that a prayer in your life goes unanswered, every time that your prayer brings a silence from heaven, every time it seems God stands aloof from your pleas, remember this: your God who loves you more than your own physical father or mother ever could love you, more than you ever can love your precious little son or daughter, that awesome God of awesome love is ever ready to answer you and grant you your every desire.

Your request has already been registered in heaven, and waiting to be dispatched by angels; it will arrive right at the door of your life when you are ready to receive it. Some arrive within an hour or so, some within a decade or more, and many in between. And some are answered even while you are attempting to articulate precisely what you want of the Lord!

For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.   Is 65:23-25

But as for me, and most other people who have learned what true faith is, what has been granted in answer to our prayers is a fraction of what has not been granted. In my case, I think more than 90 percent of my desires that I have been seeking from God since I was a teen have not been granted. But we know that these desires have not been refused by God, for he cannot refuse them because he has promised them clearly in his Word. We wait in faith for God to grant them to us in his own time, which we are convinced is the best time for us to receive those desires. And we also know that this best time may not be in this age, but in the regeneration (the resurrection to the second phase of the human physical life) when we will live again in flesh and bones for a hundred years. Those who have not been granted a family, or children, or a beautiful house, or property, or anything else, will be granted a hundredfold in the regenerated life. (Regeneration is too vast a subject to cover in this message. But for now, you may want to ponder the following passages on the resurrection to the physical life of all mankind who died:  Matthew 19:29, Mark 10:29-30, Job 19:26, Ezek 37:11-14, Isaiah 65:20, Matthew 19:28. (The Greek word for ‘regeneration’ – paliggenesia – is not the same word used for the resurrection to the spirit life. My book, Regeneration In Flesh and Bones, covers this subject in detail.)

None of God’s greatest servants was granted what God had promised him. But they all died in the full assurance they will receive what they were promised when their eyes open in the regeneration.

All these whom we have mentioned maintained their faith but died without actually receiving God’s promises, though they had seen them in the distance, had hailed them as true and were quite convinced of their reality.   Heb 11:13

That’s faith! Faith that will grant you everything you ask for. Because whenever you ask God for something, you have this attitude in your heart:  Lord, I have this desire and I have your promise in your Word that you will grant it to me. But I also know that you know when best to grant it to me. I also know that sometimes it may be best in your sight that I am granted what you promised only when my Lord comes. Whatever, Lord, let your will, not mine, be done. And now, this is my request…

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him   1 Jn 5:14-15

I continue to pray daily, and have been praying so since my youth, for several major deliverances, which have not been granted yet. God has not given me any sign that he is going to grant at least some of them before I die. But as long as he has not answered me with a firm ‘No’ – which if he did, I will be able to sense through his Holy Spirit – I am going to keep asking him perseveringly like the widow did to the judge.

There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man.  Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, “Get justice for me from my adversary”. And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, “Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”    Lk 18:1-5

Or, like that man in the Bible who woke up his friend in the middle of the night and asked for three loaves.

“Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him”; and he will answer from within and say, “Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you”? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.’   Lk 11:5-8

I have absolute faith God will grant me what I have asked, because he has said so in the Bible. He has not specifically mentioned among his promises many of the things I have asked for, but he said ‘he will grant me the desires of my heart’. And what I have asked are certainly the desires of my heart, and I am not asking him for things to indulge my lusts.

I never pressurize my Lord with my requests. I never ask him with desperation. I never ask him and then set a mental deadline as to when I should receive what I ask for. I just ask him calmly and perseveringly, without giving up, and always desiring his will to be done in my life – and if that means he cannot grant me what I ask for, praise him for that! I don’t get disappointed or discouraged. I don’t want any teeny weeny bit of what I ask for if it is going to be against my Father’s will, for I know it will not be good for me.

I have had dozens of major petitions and desires – including deliverance from imprisonment – which were totally ungranted by God. Before I understood what real faith is, when my pleas for certain deliverances brought the opposite of what I asked for, I used to get very disappointed, sometimes very bitter, but years later when I looked back, I stood in stunned amazement at how gracious my Lord was to me by refusing to grant what I had earnestly asked of him. Perhaps one example might encourage you.

At one time, I knew I was sooner or later going to be incarcerated in a land of anti-Christians. I pleaded with God with fastings and intense prayers for months. I asked pastors and evangelists to pray for my deliverance from the dungeons. Some assured me I would be delivered.

Instead, one day I was taken handcuffed, with my ankles shackled with iron chains, to a depressing cell deep in a desert. But, strangely, it was in prison that I felt God’s presence closest to me. I never felt depressed, no, not once (although outside of prison, depression was a serious problem in my life). I could see other prisoners lying down or walking about totally depressed and miserable. I was daily praising God, and writing in a notebook all the new understandings he was giving me inside my prison cell.

The days and weeks passed, and one day, I found myself outside of the iron bars instead of inside. I was a free man again. But my old problems hadn’t gone away, and two years later, I was again praying desperately to be spared from the dungeons. Instead, I found myself again in the very same prison, but in a different cell with worse cell-mates – murderers and sychopaths. But the sychopaths and killers were unusually kind to me, and I even shared my excess meals with the most dangerous of them.

Then one day, the worst possible nightmare in prison life happened to me. I became seriously sick. I got diarrhea, and along with it the most agonizing pain in my abdomen. A dagger thrust into my side and twisted left and right would have been more preferable than the pain I endured. Getting a doctor was out of question. It was the weekend and doctors don’t visit dungeons on weekends. Once, a fellow prisoner had a heart attack and the prison guard allowed his cellmates to carry him to the doctor’s room. I saw them returning after a few minutes…there was no doctor available on that day. (The heart-attackee survived though.)

I knew I would die if God did not intervene urgently, but there was no sign of him even reducing my pain a bit. Instead, the pain intensified. I could try to end my suffering by doing what Job’s wife urged her husband to do – curse God for failing to keep his promise and just lie back and pass away to oblivion.

In the most agonizing moment of my life, as I lay on the prison floor squirming in pain, I decided to do one last thing before I died. I slowly raised my weakened right hand and holding it high, I gave to heaven, in the sight of the devil and all his hosts that were causing me this torment, a victorious ‘V’ gesture with my forefinger and middle finger. I declared to God in my spirit, ‘Lord, even if you kill me, I will trust you and be faithful to you’. And then I put my hand down and continued to lie on the floor.

That was what God had been waiting to know, I realized later. Waiting to know if I would continue to trust him even when he was sternly refusing to deliver me. He saw that I was. Almost immediately, my pain started to subside.

The next day, I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance when a kindhearted prison guard on duty that day heard of my situation. But I had no more pain, no diarrhea anymore. The rest of my sentenced term of two months went like a piece of prison cake. I was out…with a far greater conviction of what delivering faith is.

About eight years after I got out of my last prison, God put it into my heart to start a mission with a special focus on reducing the suffering of prisoners. For I have seen with my own eyes the heartwrenching groanings of my fellow prisoners. The mission, World Daily Bread, has relief of prisoners among its greatest purposes (please visit worlddailybread.org). I have no doubt that this mission will be used by God sooner or later to bring his deliverance and comfort to prisoners worldwide. I have put in awesome, literally global-encompassing, requests to God regarding this mission, and I know that every one of them will be granted, in God’s perfect time, because I am not seeking my own will.

I have received the faith that always delivers, that always brings an answer from God. Praise my Lord!

Even in the lighter aspects of life, God rewards me for my faith in him. He grants requests that might sound even ludicrous to nonbelievers.

I wanted to be a lead guitarist when I was about twelve. After persistent requests, my dad bought me a guitar, and I plucked the strings without once learning how to play it. Nobody was available to teach me how. The guitar fragmented after many years of disuse, and I grew up, married, and became middle-aged, and was quickly turning senior…and still there was nobody to teach me to play the guitar.

But my desire to learn to play the guitar never once faded a bit. I never ceased to ask God to somehow make me into a good guitar player. But the decades passed and I was just a few short years away from becoming a senior old man. When I was 56, I bought another guitar, just out of my fascination for this musical instrument. Once, while I was plucking away randomly at my new possession, without the slightest clue how to play it, a concerned observer told me, ‘You need to learn the scales’.

Scales? What are they? I knew of the song in The Sound of Music, which was about the scale – doe, ray, me, far, so, la, tea. That was the closest I knew of scales. But how do I learn the guitar by singing doe, ray, me? But the observer’s remark lingered in my memory.

Then, another two wrinkled years trudged by, and, in the 58th year of my life, I thought I would browse the web and find out what a scale is. And there on the net, I came across a website that showed me with simplicity all I needed to know about guitar scales. Now, about 4 years after I first heard the word ‘scale’, I can play the guitar with some speed and skill, and I have composed what I think are some beautiful instrumental melodies that I think may inspire listeners to sway their bodies, swing their arms, and praise God. (I am thinking of putting up a few videos of my compositions, just to inspire potential guitarists.)

Beloved son or daughter of God, our Father wants to bestow all the blessings that he as an Omnipotent God can bestow on you. Hand over your life to him wholly, for him to do with it as he wills, to keep it or take it away.

That was what God had been waiting to know, I realized later. Waiting to know if I would continue to trust him even when he was sternly refusing to deliver me.

My name is Joseph. Joseph means ‘ God adds, or increases’. There is no limit to the increase God gives to the one who asks and perseveres in faith. I am not putting a limit to what I ask God. I ask him for nothing more than his omnipotence can provide, but I ask him nothing less than his omnipotence can give. But I know that no matter how great and how large my request bag is, it still does not come up to the measure our Father wants to give me, both in this life and in the regeneration:

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us   Eph 3:20

Perhaps the most practical way to understand what true faith is, is to replace the word ‘faith’ with ‘faithfulness’. If you are ready to be faithful to God even to the point of death, faith will automatically be there. Being faithful to God in life and death is the true faith, this is the very foundation of every blessing in your life.

Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.   Heb 11:1-2 PHILLIPS

If Jesus is your Lord, then don’t limit your asking him in faith. Don’t give up, never give up, if what you are asking for is promised in his Word, even if that promise is generic, and not specific to your case. Absolutely ALL your desires, all that you can ever ask of him fit into his promises in the 10 verses I quoted earlier in this message.

Search the Scriptures, and you will find many other promises, including some specific ones. Claim them all. But always in faith, always in full submission to his will, not in the obstinacy of your will. Always willing to wait for God’s own time to grant it to you – perhaps immediately, perhaps after a few years, perhaps during your 100-year life in the regeneration. Whatever you ask should glorify God in some way or other.

May God, the Giver of every good gift, grant your every desire beyond measure, beyond your present ability to conceive the magnitude of what you are going to receive.

 

Pappa Joseph

 

 

How Many of Your Beliefs Are By Your Own Choice?

 

The average South Indian eats so much rice daily that it’s enough to keep a baby elephant alive. For the average North Indian, chapattis is the best staple for him.

Why do they prefer these? Is it because sometime in their young days each of them tasted all the different staples available in India, and one decided that rice and curry was the most delectable of them all, and the other found them not as palatable as meals made from wheat?

To take that thought a few leaps further: why does a typical Christian go to church Sunday morning, a Muslim to a Mosque on Friday, and a Hindu to a temple?

Have you ever paused for a couple of crucial minutes in your life to ponder the vital question of why you do what you do and believe what you believe today? Why really do you eat the kind of food you eat today? Why truly do you worship God the way you do today?

That one section of a population should continue to have faith in and practice what seems so obviously wrong and even ridiculous to another section is because of a strong dark force that began exerting its mindwashing power on a person’s syche from the day of es birth. It is called tradition.

Tradition is literally the most powerful manmade force on earth. Only God’s power and the devil’s temptations have greater impact on a man’s life. And tradition, in the overwhelming number of cases, is allied with the devil in binding man to the most abject forms of slavery. A slavery so insidious and prevalent you would see, if you open your inner eyes to observe it – people everywhere in all walks of life going about their daily activities in abject surrender to this force in their minds.

In my own country, the tragic custom of dowry, which to the eternal shame of the heads of most episcopalian churches and some other denominations, was by tradition enforced upon impoverished fathers of brides when these churches sanctioned the custom in their congregations. And the reason they didnt – still dont – stamp their ecclesiastical foot down vehemently on this shameful practice in Christianity: the generous slice of the dowry they received as mandatory offering. The leadership of these churches, as a whole, did nothing to put an end to the evil custom of the groom’s family demanding a price from the bride’s family, and it was finally left to a secular government to clamp down on this blotch in mainstream Christianity. I still do not hear of any of the heads of the dowry-guilty churches denouncing it in their official edicts, nor proclaiming repentance of their tacit approval of this congregational malpractice which caused, generation after generation, extreme suffering to countless families with marriageable daughters. It is still widespread, except that it is done covertly now. But more and more young people, whose minds have been opened to see the heinousness of this tradition, are resisting it in the present times. [This was written in 2005. More than a decade later, I still dont see any significant changes in the episcopalian church leaders’ attitude about dowry.]

Did you get your religious beliefs by your own study of God’s Word, or blindly from the tradition of your parents?

Take another tradition, this time in the arena of education. Little children from the age of six are daily burdened with homework imposed by their teachers and enforced by their parents, in addition to being daily weighed down with excessive facts and figures in the classroom – knowledge which mostly is forgotten or discarded for its irrelevance in the student’s life a few months after e leaves high school. Academic homework takes away much of the precious time and energy a child needs to engage in activities that will enable em to cherish the fleeting years of childhood. How many are the enlightened teachers and indignant parents who are doing all they can to root out this malignant root out of their children’s lives? Very few indeed, but thank God for there are very few exceptional people who can think for themselves and perceive traditional practices for what they really are.

Consider the tradition of millions of Indian and Sudanese women swirling themselves onto billions of meters of sari, while in the West the men near-strangle themselves every morning with a noose called the tie, and the women perch themselves precariously on stilts called high heels which constrain their movements and constantly expose them to the danger of cerebral damage from a fall.

The tradition of adhering to dispensable routines, silly procedures, and sillier policies in corporate offices, government departments, and institutions, simply because these are what have been traditionally practiced in such places boss after boss.

The tradition of living in the fearful grip of thousands of superstitions that shackle the courage of even highly educated Christians. To mention the churches in my land again, believe it or not, in some orthodox denominations there, the wedding folks would not leave their house porch for the church altar if their departure would be at an ‘inauspicious time’, known in the local language as ‘rahu kalam’. They would linger about the house till the evil hour is past and then step out – a matrimonial practice not originating from the apostles of Christ but from the disciples of fallen angels masquerading as ministers of light who managed to inveigle themselves into the churches.

Today, if you have time to pause for a minute or two in your busy life, let me encourage you to ponder your habits and beliefs to a depth of sincerity your mind didnt dare to consider earlier. Ask yourself, how many of them are a result of your deliberate choice? How many of them are actually the result of traditions and customs imbibed from your parents, peers, church, and society?

It’s those Christians who dare to make bold choices of conscience who really are trustworthy in God’s eyes and who will be used by their Lord to blaze through earth to grant freedom to people languishing under the curse of practices imposed by the devil. The rest of humanity, bound in the chains of traditions and customs, continue to serve the dark spirits in their religious, cultural, social and political beliefs.

Interestingly, the number of the evil Beast mentioned in Biblical prophecy, the world ruler who will arise in the end times, is 666. This was written in the Greek language, which has alphabets that have a numerical value for each. Only two words in this language have letters that add up to 666. One is ‘prosperity’, which according to that earnest servant of God, Derek Prince, is the severest trial a person can go through – a trial not many Christians can handle without personal devastation and which destroyed many great men of God, including Solomon. The other word, interestingly, is ‘tradition’.

Christian, if you desire to be a courageous man or woman of genuine faith in the sight of your God, then dare to base your every belief and practice solely on the Word of God. Never allow the least influence of any profane tradition to affect your thoughts, words and actions.

Tradition binds. Truth sets you free. Freedom is among God’s greatest gift to his people. And the only way to be truly free is to keep the commandments of God.

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.   John 8:32

You are near, O Lord, and all Your commandments are truth.’   Ps 119:151

 

Pappa Joseph

 

Why Temptations Don’t Seem To Go Away

By understanding exactly how temptations work in your conscious and subconscious mind, you can deal with it more effectively and more quickly.

Some years ago, I sat down to counsel a middle-aged man whom I have known since his boyhood.  I have personally witnessed his transformation over the past couple of decades, from a young profligate person whose vile life defied description to someone so miraculously transformed by God’s grace that I have seldom seen anyone else with such great zeal and good works for his Savior.

He confessed to me that no matter how instantaneously he put certain vile temptations out his mind during his waking hours, when he was asleep filthy scenes ran riot in his dreams, and, overwhelming his desire to flee from the filthy scenes, he almost always found himself indulging in the sinful acts his subconscious mind conjured up. The lustful acts he was carrying out in his dreams were just as bad, and often worse than what he had indulged in during his licentious days before his conversion to the Christ life. All his supplications to God to enable him to be rid of these filthy dreams had been futile so far.

As a result, he was in constant deep anguish at his impossibility to lead an equally clean life in his subconscious mind as in his conscious.

I asked him, ‘You put away vile thoughts instantly when they come to your thoughts when you are awake. What about the not-so-vile thoughts? Is there a wee little allowance in your mind for a few things in your daily life that you know in your heart are better to give up than to continue in them? Say, eating some food, or drinking some beverage?’

He pondered for a few seconds, and then replied, ‘As far as my conscience knows, the only things I give in to now and then is my yearning for chocolate and ice-cream.’

‘But you are diabetic, aren’t you?’

‘Yes, but I do not take them daily, just when the yearning comes now and then’.

‘But your doctor has advised you even against the occasional indulgence in sweet foods?’

‘Yea, but..’

‘Think, is there another one small yearning you give in to occasionally. Beer?’

I knew he loved beer, and was drinking it regularly though moderately. I have even sat down for beer sessions with him in those days when I too used to take this beverage regularly.

‘Oh, yea. You know I don’t take it excessively.’

‘But after drinking beer, how did you find your sleep that night?’

‘Actually, almost every time I have a beer during the daytime, I tend to find the vile dreams are more profuse and more intense. I don’t understand why. When taking beer, I allow nothing vile I into my mind.’

‘I believe that. But alcohol had caused you some big troubles in the days before Christ found you, right?’

‘Yea, it was one of my greatest weaknesses, and that which caused me to commit several other sins.’

‘And probably many times after your conversion, you had wanted to stop taking it completely and have nothing to do with something that wrecked so much havoc in your earlier life?’

He was quiet for a while, and then spoke up.

‘Frankly, I made many attempts to stop drinking beer even in moderate quantity, because I saw its association with my filthy dreams. But I never thought it was a serious problem.’

‘No, the drinking in itself is not the problem. But your allowing it, even when you know you shouldn’t is the problem. That spirit of moderate allowance in your conscious mind is the intimate little brother of the spirit of free indulgence of filth in your subconscious mind. When you are asleep it is this little brother that always opens the backdoor to your mind to his more wicked sibling, without your knowing it.’

‘But the filthy spirit apparently has another little brother too’, I continued. ‘So even if the beer spirit doesn’t open, the chocolate brother would.’

The man was smiling, but I saw his eyes were widening.

‘You think my drinking and eating chocolate is what is causing my helplessness at my filthy dreams?’

‘It is not your drinking beer and eating chocolates that are causing it. It is your lack of selfcontrol in these two areas. On the day your conscience allows you to take them without feeling the least guilty, you may. But until you exercise absolute selfcontrol in these two areas as well  and if there be anything else in your life you haven’t told me – the door to your subconscious mind will continue to be under the control of these little housekeeping elves of the devil.’

The man returned home with a new perspective of his ‘harmless’ little indulgences.

A lack of selfcontrol in one area of a person’s life is invariably connected to another larger lack of selfcontrol in another area in him. Sexual temptations are the half-brother of belly temptations, or beer, or gambling.

He who is selfcontrolled in the least is also selfcontrolled in the greatest. And he who is not selfcontrolled in the least cannot be selfcontrolled in the greatest. This is a corollary truth of Christ’s statement,

‘He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.’   Lk 16:10

If temptations continue stalking you relentlessly, it is a sure sign that a red light is flashing from heaven in your life. If you cannot find the answer in the direct temptation, look for it in another area of your life.

Perhaps there is someone you are unable to forgive totally, though you still love him or her, perhaps there is some longstanding offense against a person who had done you a wrong, even if you don’t hate him or her, perhaps you occasionally let your eyes linger over a pornographic image for a few seconds instead of turning your eyes off it instantaneously, perhaps there is thought that you allow lodgment in your mind for a short while, which should not be entertained for even a fraction of a second in a Christian’s life – then that is where the cause lies of your inability to have permanent victory over a far greater area of weakness or temptation.

The way to remove the mountain of temptation in your life is to shovel away with God’s help the little mounds of tempting delights.

 

Pappa Joseph

 

 

The Final State of Maturity in A Christian’s Life

A Christian has reached the final state of his spiritual growth when he is able to keep Christ’s ‘command to persevere’.

Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.’   Rev 3:10

Persevere’ in Greek is the same word translated elsewhere as in the Bible as ‘endurance, constancy, enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting)’.

The final state in perseverance or endurance is reached after a person goes through many years of troubles, as in the case of most Christians, or zenithed through a single instance of ultimate testing, as in the case of people such as Abraham and Job, and other ancient servants of God who were tested at some point in their lives by an extreme trouble, and in the case of Christians today who, in unswerving faith, go through severe persecution or personal tragedy – people who are especially selected by God and equipped to fulfill a great and special purpose in Christ’s ministry after they have been tested and proven in the fiery furnaces of affliction.

If this seems a frightening aspect of the true Christian life, then always keep it uppermost in your mind that no believer will ever go through an extreme suffering unless God equips him or her for it, according to his precious promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13.

No temptation has come your way that is too hard for flesh and blood to bear. But God can be trusted not to allow you to suffer any temptation beyond your powers of endurance. He will see to it that every temptation has a way out, so that it will never be impossible for you to bear it.   JBP

Remember this sentence in the promise, especially the word ‘every’, whenever you think of any Christian’s adversity:

He will see to it that every temptation has a way out, so that it will never be impossible for you to bear it.

What greater assurance and comfort do we need to face any trial!

The Greek word for ‘temptation’ is ‘peirasmos’, which means ‘a putting to proof, discipline, by implication adversity’. So when God allows you to be tested, he is putting you to proof, to refine you, so you could come out of the furnace of adversity refined, mature, and steadfast.

This refining process is lifelong. Our entire life is comprised of small, medium and big trails, which are the crucibles of our growth in Christian maturity. The final point of absolute full maturity is reached only when a person finishes his life course and breathes his last.

But there is one particular point in the life of every child of God when he or she crosses the spiritual Jordan, whereby e proves to God that e is now a solid Christian, capable of patiently enduring any trial he or she is put through, capable of serving God in any capacity, a ‘strong-meat’ believer, no more needing the soft milk of a tender and immature child of God, as were some of Paul’s brethren.

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto you were not able to bear it, neither yet now are you able.  1 Cor 3:1-2;

But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age.   Heb 5:14 KJV

Strong meat’ is the state when a Christian is able to accept and digest every spiritual solid food and every cup of strong drink God gives him for his growth.

Jesus asked James and John, ‘Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to him, ‘We are able” ’.

And Jesus did not doubt their conviction. ‘You will indeed drink my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with’, he responded.  Mat 20:22-23

When you are also able to drink the same cup of affliction that the disciples did, and be baptized with the same baptism that they went through – which means burying your selfcentered will in a watery grave and raising up to a new life to do only the will of God, whatever that involves – you reach the same state of spiritual maturity as ‘he who endures to the end’ Mt 24:13. This is the point of growth that Christ desires for every follower of his to reach as soon as possible.

For some, this point is reached imperceptibly, and the person one day wakes up to realize that he or she has already reached this mature state of perseverance after many years of seemingly endless troubles. For many others, this final proving point to God is reached during the severest trial of their lives. This is the point that Abraham reached when he lifted his knife to sacrifice Isaac. This is the point that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego reached when they were cast into the furnace by Nebuchadnezzar. This is the point that many faithful Christians reach when they are faced with the prospect of choosing life and betraying God, or choosing to risk death or great trouble so they can be faithful to God, and they unhesitatingly choose to be faithful to God.

And to those who are ready to choose to be faithful to God at any cost, let me give you this assurance based on my personal experience:

When I came to the excruciatingly painful point that I knew I would be physically devastated or even die if I did not get immediate medical help (in a place, deep in the dungeons of Arabia, where, no matter how critical a person’s physical state, if it was the weekend, no doctor would be available), and the devil wanted me to give up trusting God anymore to deliver me, I forced my right hand, weakened by my affliction, to slowly raise itself up, and pointed my forefinger and middle finger in a victory sign to the devil in the sight of all the heavenly hosts. It was the climax of several weeks of extreme affliction. But that was the turning point. From that moment onward, the devil left me and my pain decreased almost immediately and I was soon able to smile and move around normally, and within a few days I was walking out of my prison cell, to lead a far more active Christian life than ever.

Once you have convinced the devil you would rather die than betray your Savior, he will flee from you terrified, and thereafter, any attacks on you would be from a safe distance and could never be as intense as the one which enabled you to cross the Jordan of your life.

Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.   Jm 4:7 AMP

And do not [for a moment] be frightened or intimidated in anything by your opponents and adversaries, for such [constancy and fearlessness] will be a clear sign (proof and seal) to them of [their impending] destruction, but [a sure token and evidence] of your deliverance and salvation, and that from God.   Phi 1:28 AMP

The final state_2

Israel’s troubles and challenges did not end soon after they crossed the Jordan, but they were nothing compared to what they had endured during the forty year trek through the Sinai desert. Even so, once you reach the maturity point where you have proved to God you will be faithful to him at any cost in your life, all troubles that come to you after that are just finishing touches to your refinement process and seem, by comparison, mild.

There will come times, sometimes lasting a long time, when all the promises of God would seem unavailable, when God himself seems far away from your trouble, and all your cries for help seem to go no higher than the ceiling of your bedroom. You would cry, like David did,

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are You so far from helping me, And from the words of my groaning?   Ps 22:1

And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, except to ‘be still’ decide to endure and trust God to deliver you in his own time. Ps 46:10

These are times in a growing Christian’s life that he will have to endure from hour to hour and from day to day. He becomes an hourly and daily survivor with whatever strength and little reliefs he receives in his misery.

God will not allow a Christian to go through such an intense phase until he or she is ready for it, irrespective of whether the Christian emself feels ready for it. Almost always, the Christian would feel he or she is simply not able to cope with it, but find, on looking back after some months and years of endurance that e has somehow managed to survive through the fire e had initially thought e could never go through.

This, faithful follower of Christ, is the most difficult and painful, and ultimately the most rewarding of all Christian experiences. Even the great God in all his omnipotence could not find another way of refining us more perfectly than through severe troubles that require our patient endurance.

It is only when you reach this God-given ability to endure patiently to the end every trouble that you will also have reached the final state of spiritual maturity where there is no more need for your severe testing. You will also have reached the state where you are eligible to be spared from the terrible tribulation coming upon the whole world in the endtimes. I repeat Christ’s personal assurance:

Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.   Rev 3:10

You need not be tested with extreme troubles with the rest of unrepentant humanity. A time of unthinkable tribulation is coming soon upon the whole world ‘such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.’ Mat 24:21

To escape the coming tribulation, you have to keep Christ’s command to persevere through your troubles. You have to endure without complaining whatever God allows you to go through today.

But remember always: however severe your present trouble seems to be, however unsolvable your present situation seems to be, God promises you this:

I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears…This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.   Ps 34:4,6

Thank God we have his promise we will come out of every trouble smiling and praising him ever more!


It is only when you reach this God-given ability to endure patiently to the end every trouble that you will also have reached the final state of spiritual maturity where there is no more need for your severe testing.


One vital final point of this message.

The state of patient endurance is reached not by your determination to grit your teeth and patiently endure every trouble that comes your way. When you do that, the pain of your troubles only increases. Just as a patient’s pain is increased when he braces himself and tenses his biceps as the doctor inserts an injection needle into his arm. The least painful state is to lie relaxed and untensed and let the physician perform his job without any effort on your own part to help him reduce your pain. This least painful state is attained not by your struggles and efforts, but only by your belief that whatever is happening now is God’s specific will for you and therefore you willingly and unresistingly accept the work of your heavenly Surgeon in every area of your daily life so he can quickly excise every offending and toxic quality in your spiritual body.

The longer you resist, the longer you will have to go through the cleansing process. It is your belief in God’s personal care of you, your confidence that he will not allow you to suffer beyond the capability he has already given you, and your willingness to submit to whatever he does in you that are the calming factors in all your afflictions.

When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God – who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty – and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him.   Jm 1:2-5 JBP

Just run to Christ in sincere desire and persevering prayer for him to help you carry the heavy crosses of your life. When you do that daily, you will soon reach the point where you will have crossed the Jordan and find an amazing change in the way the troubles affect you now: they are so endurable now, so light to bear!

Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.   Mt 11:28-30

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]   Jn 16:33 AMP

 

Pappa Joseph

 

 

What Your Church Is NOT Telling You About UFOs

Huge UFO filmed Live over Portugal – June 2017

 

Observant Bible believers have noticed the dramatic increase in supernatural events reported around the world. Sightings of UFOs by men in positions of government authority and abduction claims by many other people of credible reputation have been around for some decades. But in recent years the phenomenon of alien sightings has intensified to the extent that both the Catholic church and the US government have begun to admit not just the possibility but the probability of contact with aliens.

The greatest impact of the acknowledgment of UFO existence is on religion. And the major religions are coming to grips with the reality of alien life. The Vatican has officially stated its position on extraterrestrial life. According to one media report,

The Vatican has taken a leadership role in preparing mankind for the discovery of intelligent extraterrestrial life…In essence the Pope is saying to the world, prepare yourself for the discovery of intelligent life in the universe’.   educatinghumanity.com

This official statement from the Vatican is the beginning of many other preparatory works by churches and governments to ready themselves for the intervention of alien beings in earth’s affairs.

It is obvious that the church, in accepting the existence of aliens, has also to endorse evolution. And that is precisely what the present pope has done.

In his address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on October 27, 2014, Pope Francis said,

Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve…He created beings and allowed them to develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one, so that they were able to develop and to arrive and their fullness of being…And so creation continued for centuries and centuries, millennia and millennia, until it became which we know today, precisely because God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the creator who gives being to all things.

This open declaration was welcome news for diehard evolutionists.

Giovanni Bignami, a professor and president of Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics, welcomed Francis’ statement, saying he had buried the ‘pseudo theories’ of creationists.

The pope’s statement is significant. We are the direct descendants from the Big Bang that created the universe. Evolution came from creation.   Religion News Service October 27, 2014

The magnitude of the Pope’s statement and its impact on the syche of the masses is so profound it radically changes the way billions of Catholics and other Christians think of God, creation and the Bible. And it all adds up to one purpose: to prepare mankind, especially Christians, for the intervention of, and subsequent submission to, extraterrestrial beings.

It is important not to underestimate the magnitude of the Pope’s statement since it supports radical ideas of intelligent design such as extraterrestrial intervention in human history may be part of ‘the plan of the creator’…The Vatican’s astrobiology conference is yet one more sign that major global institutions are preparing for some kind of formal disclosure concerning UFOs and, or, extraterrestrial life…Numerous independent sources have predicted such disclosure is imminent, and that the Obama administration is expected to play a prominent role.   examiner.com

In preparing the world for the disclosure, the Vatican has joined hands with secular forces such as the United Nations. In February 2008, the Vatican’s permanent representative to the UN, Archbishop Celestino Migliore met with a number of prominent government officials at secret meetings held at the United Nations to discuss increased UFO sightings and the implications of extraterrestrial visitation. These closed-door discussions reportedly led to a new policy of openness being adopted by approximately 30 nations.

And when do these organizations expect their first contact with the aliens?

‘It is not hyperbolic to suggest that scientists could very well discover extraterrestrial intelligence within two decades’ time or less, given resources to conduct the search,” Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute, said in testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Two decades from now, as I write this, is 2034. This should be exciting news for Star Trek fans (I used to be one), for even in that farfetched sci-flick, the first contact with extraterrestrial beings was in 2063. So scientists are actually expecting the contact several decades head of the fictional date!

Why is the Vatican so earnest about contact with beings from other planets?

It is not surprising that the Vatican views preparation for discovery of intelligent alien life as an opportunity for gaining new recruits to the Christian faith.   examiner.com

It is not just the Catholic church that is espousing alien life. Even Islam is not antipathetic to this idea. In an interview, Dr. Shabir Ally, President of the Islamic Information & Dawah Centre, Toronto, Canada, said.

We must allow for the possibility that they [intelligent extraterrestrials] do exist. The Quran actually is quite open to the possibility that many Earths do exist, because the first chapter of the Quran says: “Praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds”. In fact, it says here Al-Alamin which is “The Universes” in the plural…So there could be many other sorts of creatures out there…So the Quran does say that God has created human beings in the best of molds, but it doesn’t mean that only humans have been created in this best form. At one time people may have thought only human beings were as such, because everything else they knew were inferior to human beings. But now, we can see that there is a possibility that other such beings like ourselves exist in other parts of the universe.   onislam.net

The only faction of Christianity – probably, mankind –  still resistant to the concept of intelligent beings other than man are those in evangelical Protestantism. But this can change soon. When the actual UFOs make their dramatic appearance over the skies in every nation and over every church steeple, rare indeed would be the individual – fervent evangelical or fiery pentecostal – who would continue to disbelieve in them.

US Coast Guard photograph of “flying saucers” over Salem in 1952. Source: Daily Telegraph

Films such as ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and ‘Independence Day’ have already done their part in syching millions into a subconscious acceptance of such events in real life. Imagine this scenario:

One fine morning, you wake up to a lot of commotion outside your house. You look through your window and you see a huge crowd of people staring at the sky. You rush out and see what you never believed you would ever see in real life. Hovering high above the tallest buildings you see the base of a spacecraft a hundred meters in diameter. As the days pass, more and more alien sightings occur, and soon the first sightings of the alien beings appear on tv and then several of them come to your own neighborhood. The government issues directions for the public on how to respond to these visitors. Gradually, the whole world accepts the most astonishing event to happen on planet earth since creation – the appearance of beings from other planets.

A new world order would then begin to be put in place with the help of these alien beings. New government authorities would be supernaturally empowered by the aliens to rule with authority. A final world authority will arise with powers to institute global changes. Where the UN failed, the world ruler will succeed. Regional conflicts, wars, terrorism will come to a grinding halt. Mankind will be in awe and submit in totality to the world ruler. Helping to submit to the new power would be the churches and other religious institutions with their new breed of preachers and prophets. There will even arise a person in every religion who will claim to be the endtime ‘messiah’.

Only a very small fraction of people around the world will not submit to the world ruler because they have been alert to the Bible warnings of such events preceding the return of Christ. They are referred to as ‘the elect’. Even this small group of undeceived people are able to escape the delusions coming upon the whole world only because of God’s special protection over them; otherwise even the most ardent Bible believer would also be carried away by the extraterrestrial events.

For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.   Mt 24:24

The very first global indication of extraterrestrial interest in human affairs was when the crop circles began to appear mysteriously in many countries. For an interesting insight into the phenomenon of crop circles, please see my message Crop Circles – The Biggest Supernatural Sign of Our Times‘.

Who really are these aliens who are making contact with us in increasing frequency? The Bible speaks of demonic forces that can appear as angels of light, or even as aliens from other planets.

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.   2 Cor 11: 13-14

Delusions by both ‘angels’ and ‘aliens’ will occur contemporaneously. The one will appeal to the traditional religionists, the other to the secular world. The outcome in each case is the same – submission to the coming world ruler whom the Bible calls the Beast.

Extraterrestrial and supernatural phenomena is occurring all over the world in such frequency and intensity that we can safely say that the present generation will witness awesome public interactions between man and alien beings.

And unless you are rooted in the Bible truths and daily praying for God’s protection over yourself and your loved ones, the day is coming soon that you will be swept away by the sooncoming tidal wave of supernatural and extraterrestrial events.

 

Pappa Joseph