Pelagianism: Has KIM JONG UN of North Korea Had a Change of Heart?

COULD IT BE THAT KIM JONG UN of North Korea is playing the West? He has been all smiles and grins lately, promising the West that he will be a good boy and not test nukes. Meanwhile he meets with South Korean president, China’s leader, and other leaders. Could it be that he is building leverage with them against the West? Then when the moment is right, he’ll pull out of the talks, blame Trump, giving the Democrats leverage against the Republicans in the upcoming election, and then we’ll have a democratic Congress again? I for one do not believe that he has had a change of heart. How pelagian can we get to think that a leopard can change his spots (Jeremiah 13:23)?

The fact of the matter is that for 70+ years N. Korea has always played us for stupid. What has changed? Has Trump’s pressure and threats changed Un? Has he suddenly seen the light? We’re in a very dangerous position because the West WANTS to believe Kim Jong Un, which means we’re engaging in self-deception. We’re interpreting his actions the way we WANT to believe. Maybe the Lord of Glory is setting us up. I don’t know, and neither does anyone else. But one thing I’m certain of: Jesus said: “unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). At bottom, repentance is bowing before His sovereign majesty, the King of kings, confessing Him as Lord, not only with our lips but also with our lives, which in turn means confessing our sins (such as the Ten Commandments), and seeking renewed obedience.

Could I be wrong about Un? I’m not wrong about pelagianism, which was condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431 after St. Augustine had written many pages against those self-saviors (autosoterism) in the Church who would think that the will of man is sovereign over his nature. (Augustine died in A.D. 430.) Rather, our choices are a revelation of our natures, not that which determines them. Christianity in the 21st century is in love with pelagianism. I may be wrong about Un, for now, but unless he has been converted, all is NOT well with him—nor with us. All Christians in the West should look in the mirror of God’s word and say, “Stupid; you’re just plain stupid.” And then go to church every Sunday, learn His commandments, believe in the Triune God, bow to Him, and tell others of the good news of forgiveness of sins. AMEN.(Pass this on to others.)

 

The Truth of Self-Deception

13 April 2018
(© 2018 Curtis I. Crenshaw)

What is self-deception? For this article, let us say that it is allowing ourselves to be persuaded against the evidence for some point of view. In other words, we don’t want to believe the truth; thus, we manufacture “reasons” against it. We are all guilty of this to some extent.

When we say something negative about some of the pet sins of our culture, we often get screaming back, and screaming without an ounce of logic or evidence of their position on some moral point.

But how does their response demonstrate that they are suppressing the truth and self-deceived? One can recognize this kind of self-deception by its immediate response to the light, for without even considering what the truth is, he rejects it. When someone opposes him, there is immediate suppression of the truth.

When the emotion kicks in, the brain kicks out. The interesting thing is that they do precisely what God said they would do: Hate the light, hate the gospel, hate Christians, and because they cannot harm the Triune God, they seek to harm Christians who represent Him.

Consider several passages on self-deception:

From Romans chapter 1:

  • 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. (Romans 1:18 ESV)
  • 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. They are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:20-21 ESV)

From the Gospel of John chapter 3:

  • 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (John 3:19-20)

Again from 1 John chapter 1:

  • If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (1 John 1:6)
  • If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)
  • If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:10)

Notice the progression downward in these three verses from 1 John chapter 1: v. 6 is deceiving others; v. 8 is deceiving ourselves; and v. 10 is deceiving God, or attempting to do so. God, of course, cannot be deceived. Moreover, notice that they use unrighteousness to push the truth out of their minds. In other words, they immediately hold back righteous thoughts by identification with sin, and then they dare anyone to say anything under penalty of screaming and bearing false witness. It seems to me that what we have in Romans one, John three, and 1 John 1 is self-deception in this form:

  • What the heart desires, the will embraces, and the mind justifies

To put this another way, it is not lack of reason that keeps non-Christians from faith—though they claim that—but that their faith (or better, unbelief) leads them to adopt whatever reason works at the moment to promote their agenda. To restate it, their commitment to their sin in the heart means their will has a commitment to that sin, and then they use their minds to justify a position already embraced. It is never the reverse; that is, that the mind leads them to embrace something in the will, and then the will forces the heart to embrace the sin. No, what we see in Romans 1, John 3, and 1 John 1 is that self-deception begins with the sinful heart, with the person’s desires for some sin that God forbids. Then they embrace that sin with a vengeance, they commit to it with their sinful wills, and then, and only then, they seek to justify the sin with the mind, with evidences.

It is not an intellectual problem with unbelievers; it is a moral problem. They embrace some sin and then use the mind to justify the sin. Thus, the nature of their deception is embracing sin with their hearts or sinful natures. Then their will embraces what they desire, and the finally the mind seeks to justify it. We Christians have an enormous responsibility to help them see the wonderful light of Jesus Christ less they perish.

No one fails to become a Christian because he demands more intellectual proof but because he hates the Triune God, hates His righteousness as revealed in His commandments, and wants to practice some sin that the Triune God forbids. Unbelief is never an intellectual problem but a moral problem. The unbeliever uses his intellect as a cover for self-deception; he WANTS sin and HATES righteousness. That is the problem and nothing else. AMEN. Ω

 

Jesus Is Lord in Everything but Voting—Right?

© The Very Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.

9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11 NKJ)

The three expressions—in heaven, on earth, and under the earth—refer to angelic beings and perhaps those who have passed into the presence of the Lamb, to all those on earth at any point in time, and those demonic beings under the earth. It is comprehensive.

We see from these verses that not only is Jesus the medium of worship but also the object of worship. The world hates the name “Jesus” as seen in making fun of it, saying “O Jesus Christ” and not “O Buddha” or something like that. One can pray in public in any name but Jesus; one can pray to “God Almighty,” to Allah, but just don’t pray in Jesus’ name. The reason should be obvious—Jesus is the supreme enemy, which is why Christians, who wear His name, are hated so much.

It seems that at every turn we Christians are being marginalized in our USA culture. Liberals hate us, the sexually immoral despise us with every vile force they can muster and want to murder us, and the culture is being educated in public, godless, government schools not to listen to us, that Christianity is an outdated religion that has a very fallible book full of mistakes and errors. Organizations like the ACLU want us to keep Christ in our private churches, and they want “Caesar” to be lord in the culture. They say keep Jesus out of politics and the public arena, for that belongs to the “neutral” government. The upcoming vote for the president of the USA is to some extent a battle over who is Lord in our society, Satan, or the Messiah who is Jesus the Lord. But we cannot say that the RNC represents all  godly principles; rather, they are, at the moment, just less evil, but should we not want lesser evil than more evil?

But how should Christians engage in the spiritual warfare that is around us every day? Let us look at 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 in the Old Testament.

13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

This applied to the Old Testament people of God, but we are the new Israel of God (Gal. 6:16; Eph. 2:11-22) so it applies to us also. The passage says the covenant people of God who are called by His name (now “Christians”) are to do several things:

  • Humble themselves before God, which means to confess their sins
  • Pray and seek Him
  • And what is often overlooked: “turn from their wicked ways
  • “THEN” He will (notice the order) “forgive their sin, and heal their land”. Forgiveness is the basis for other blessings, and in turn forgiveness is conditioned on turning from our sins, or repentance (We Christians are eaten up with sins; click here to get my book on the Ten Commandments or go to Amazon and enter Curtis Crenshaw, NOT Ten Suggestions.)

Then in 2 Chronicles 20, the enemies of King Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, were coming against him, and they were too many and too powerful to fight. Here is what Jehoshaphat did:

  • He feared and set himself to seek the Lord (v. 3)
  • He invoked the covenant promises (“are not you our God”, v. 7)
  • “If disaster comes upon us . . . we will stand before this temple and in Your presence, and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save” (v. 9)
  • Here is what they prayed: “We have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (v. 12)

So, what did Judah do in the face of overwhelming odds? They prayed and worshiped, and they were granted victory. We are not Judah, but we are in covenant with God through the blood of Jesus, and we enter His presence to worship each Lord’s day. It is there, in His holy presence in worship, that we do battle with our enemies. Of course, we also use other human means, such as voting in this election. If the outcome is not what we think is best, we must submit to Him, for His plan will go forward. But WE MUST BE FAITHFUL where we are whatever the outcome. We cannot see the future, but Jesus has determined the future; thus, we must be faithful in whatever He has decided for us, whoever wins the election. There is only one Man who is the answer to all our sins and problems, and that is the One who became human in space and time, who became a slave, ill-treated, who was crucified, died a criminal’s death, resurrected, who in turn knows all the trials we go through because He went through them to conquer for us: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15 ESV).

But in the New Testament we see something similar as 2 Chronicles 20:

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Cor. 10:3-6 ESV)

This passage commands us to use our divine weapons, not physical ones, to destroy “strongholds” of Satan. We do so by proclaiming the gospel, by making known the Triune God and the Incarnation of the Son of God, and we can in turn do that by disseminating the word in books, tracts, sermons, voting, praying, helping girls to overcome abortion, etc.

Now the One who was completely obedient must be completely obeyed, for He is LORD! We can see how quickly things can change with the new evidence from the FBI regarding the new found emails. Who knows how that will turn out? If providence goes as usual (who knows!), it may turn out completely different from what anyone thinks! But we know who is in charge; thus, let us do our meager part in repenting,  praying, voting, and trusting in

“Him who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. AMEN.” Ω. (1 Tim. 6:15-16 NKJ)

Loving Darkness

((c) The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.)

Two main truths are presented in the following quote: I. There is condemnation; II. Some people practice evil

I. And this is the condemnation,  [two reasons for condemnation] that

(1)        the light has come into the world,

(2) and men loved darkness rather than light,

because their deeds were evil. [reason they love darkness]

II. For everyone practicing evil

                            hates the                             light

and does not come to the   light,

lest his deeds should be exposed. [Reason ungodly hate Christians]

(John 3:19-20 NKJ)

The “light” above is God’s holiness and righteousness. Read also in John 1 John 1:5-2:2) for the same idea.

I heard this on radio recently:

  • In China you can criticize evolution but not the government while here in the USA you can criticize the government but not evolution.

I don’t know which is worse; they are both ungodly tyrannies. Both countries engage in thought control, just as George Orwell predicted of the USA in his prescient novel, 1984. He was only off by a couple of decades.

My two smaller grandkids spent the night last night. My daughter and her husband have turned off their TV at home so the kids wanted to watch cartoons. I thought I would see what they are like. One was all violence, anger, revenge, yelling, screaming, blowing things up. We changed channels, and immediately two teen age cartoon characters were talking about a very racy lesbian scene in a movie they had seen, which was “cool.” I changed channels again. People tell me the comedy shows are just as bad, if not worse so I avoided them.

Next I scanned the menu on my satellite TV, and one program was called “Dating Naked.” My grandson had stepped out of the room, but I thought this surely can’t mean what it says—but it did! I quickly changed channels again before he returned. Finally, we found a nature show, but then there was the ever present evolution, though in this case only mentioned slightly. Whatever happened to the days of good clean cowboy violence, like the Lone Ranger, or Ramar of the Jungle, Tarzan, etc. Those may be on oldie channels if you can find them.

So now back to the “real” world. Could it be any worse? I guess you’ve seen lately that Obama by executive order has mandated that all public schools must honor LGBT people or lose their federal funding. (When will morality become more important than money? At least there are eleven states who are standing up to Obama: UT, AZ, OK, TX, OK, WI, LA, TN, AL, GA, ME. At least five states are in the South.) Obama is bypassing Congress in making laws. More particularly if one “feels” like a girl one day (regardless of the biological plumbing), he is permitted to enter the girl’s restrooms and showers. It is not objective biology that determines one’s gender but how one “feels,” and no one must challenge that or he will be guilty of discrimination. If one does not bow to the golden calf of newspeak, then follow misdemeanors, felonies, or civil fines in the tens of thousands or combinations thereof. Parents will wonder what has happened to their children as they self-destruct against God’s law, and children will murder their parents when they don’t get their way. PARENTS: You must take your kids out of public school and put them in a good Christian school, no matter what the cost is. Their precious souls are at stake. Your children are more important than new homes, new cars, nice clothes.

Christians are being setup as the great scapegoats, those who allegedly hate others (newspeak for holding people to a moral standard). No amount of logic makes any difference when you’re dealing with “feelings,” hate for righteousness, love for sin. If anyone challenges their love for their gods, it is all out media war, throwing bottles of urine and excrement at Christians, wanting to crucify (!) us. BUT in the long run, we Christians win; Satan has never learned that the Church is a gas fire: stomp it and it spreads; leave it alone, and it burns out. We have been somewhat successful in applying the Holy Scriptures to this land, so that we have been left alone, by which I mean, we’ve had few challenges. Now we have sown the wind, we are reaping the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7), and challenges are abounding.

Those who love darkness are becoming increasing irrational, such as the following.

Antony Flew was the leading atheist scholar in England for 50 years against theism. He embraced theism or intelligent design a few years before he died because nothing else explains the design of the universe, the laws of nature, the origin of life itself, our intelligibility,[1] or the delicate balance of nature for us to live on earth. How could something come from nothing; how could life come from lifeless matter, such as molecules in motion; how could consciousness come from raw matter (non-consciousness); how could reason come from non-reason; how could self-conscious thought come from physical objects; how could the consistent laws of science come from random particles; how could persons come from non-persons? The atheist tries to argue that random chance begets intelligence, persons, balance of nature, order, and meaning. In short, chance or chaos gave rise to order. At every point, the atheist is irrational, contradictory, and functions by faith that is irrational, and make no mistake that “irrationality is the prelude to destruction.”[2] John Dryden, the seventeenth century English poet, said:

  • “For those whom God to ruin has design’d,
  • He fits for fate, and first destroys their mind.”

Today we might say it this way: “Those whom God would destroy, He first makes mad.”

We are mad, not legally insane, but mad with rebellion against the Triune God and His character as revealed in His holy law, such as the Ten Commandments. The USA is mad against the Incarnation of the Son of God, against His perfect obedience to His Father, against His death on the cross for our sins, against His bodily resurrection. If it is true that to whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:28), then the USA is in for horrendous judgment. Those prosperity preachers who tell us we can have all the goodies we want if we just magically say the right incantation into the air audibly, will have nothing to say when judgment falls (and it has begun). Make no mistake: turning to darkness or sin darkens one’s reasoning abilities. Reasoning is then only used to support one’s desires, not to determine those desires.

There is only one solution, which the world hates with an unholy passion: repentance from our sins and faith in the Lord Jesus for forgiveness of sins. Anything else is damnation forever. AMEN.

 

[1] See the excellent work by Antony Flew, the former atheist, There Is A God, published in 2007. Flew announced his change from atheism to theism in 2004, though sadly as far as I know he did not become a Christian before his death on April 8, 2010.

[2] Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983), p. 165.

A Man Rules

(© Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.)

I keep hearing liberal politicians complain that Christians want the USA to be a theocracy. Christians oblige them by denying such; we want our little turf inside our churches and Christian schools. You liberals can have the rest. It is always easy to answer when the mic is not in front of you, but here is what I would like to say.

We already have a theocracy, and it is ruled by one dictator, a Man, the King of kings. He will judge every action that He disapproves, especially those actions that are egregious against the Ten Commandments.

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. (Matt. 12:36 NKJ)

From the Holy Scriptures we see that Jesus warned us of His coming judgment:

25 “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.” (Jn. 5:24 NKJ)

Rebelliously, too many Christians today think that the Lord Jesus’s Kingship will only come after His Second Coming; and though He will judge then, His sovereignty has always been in the sense of deity. But as a glorified Man, He is NOW ruling over the world. What do we make of Matthew 28:18-20:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying,

 

18 All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.      (statement)

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,                       (two commands: GO and MAKE DISCIPLES. Here is what they are to do: baptize and teach)

baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

      20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;

and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.   (statement)

 

This is Trinitarian theology in baptism and growing in grace by giving our the word.

This is another Joshua, for here as there, the LORD commissions His men to go in to conquer the land, except in Joshua the land was limited but here it includes “heaven and earth.” As in Genesis the Triune God created “the heavens and the earth” and gave man dominion over it. Now the new resurrected, ascended Lord, is over all things, and He has given charge to His people to take the “land.” This means not only is that Man over all things, but we, as His vice-regents, are also over all things. We conquer by the Gospel, by the two edge sword coming out of His mouth, and thus also coming out of ours.

Moreover, we see from this Matthew 28 passage that the Church is being built by making disciples, and baptizing and disciplining them. This Church is a kingdom now all over the world, literally in every country, and growing by the power of Jesus’ Gospel and the omnipotence of the Triune God.

What did Peter say in the first Christian sermon?

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36 NKJ)

Now we are to follow what the Lord God said to Abraham when He told him that everywhere he stepped, that property belonged to him and to his seed. As St. Paul said:

And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. AMEN.  (Rom. 16:20 NKJ)

 

If Satan is crushed under His feet, we, along with the Son of God, do the same:

And I will put enmity           between you and the woman,

And                                            between your seed and her Seed;

 

He shall                                   bruise your head,

And you shall                         bruise His heel.” (Gen. 3:15 NKJ)

 

If these things are true—and they are!—we have a theocracy under His Sovereign Majesty, the Man, King Jesus. Our weapons are the gospel and our lives spent in His service.

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb

and by the word of their testimony,

and they did not love their lives to the death. (Rev. 12:11 NKJ)

AMEN.

 

Porn, Politics, Taking God’s Name in Vain

© Curtis I. Crenshaw 16 July 2015

Taking God’s Name in vain is much more than using slang words with “God”, “Jesus”, or something like that. According to One News Now, Jimmy Carter said that last week that Jesus Christ would give his blessing to same-sex “marriage,” adding that Jesus would also support some abortions. How does Carter know those things? If he is wrong—and he most emphatically is!—he is attributing to God’s character what is wrong, which is taking God’s name—“Jesus”—in vain. Here is what God says about that precious name:

9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of JESUS every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11)

And here is what God in the flesh has said about abortion:

18 Jesus said, “’You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ 19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 19:18-19)

And here is what God said about abortion in the Old Testament:

11 Deliver those who are drawn toward death,

And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.

12 If you say, “Surely we did not know this,”

Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it?

He who keeps your soul, does He not know it?

And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?

(Proverbs 24:11-12)

Moreover, here is what the Lord of glory has personally said about marriage:

4 And He answered and said to them,

“Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’

5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother

and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

6 So then, they are no longer TWO but ONE flesh.

Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

(Matthew 19:4-6)

Seems like it was St. Augustine who said that God created us in His image and we return the favor. The problem is that each person wants a god like himself to worship, one who approves of his own immoral standards.

Thus, Jimmy Carter thinks that he can remake the Lord Jesus each time the political winds blow counter to Him. So do most people.

Now Hustler Magazine founder Larry Flynt’s recent endorsement of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is not only raising eyes across political lines, but hopes on the Left. When Bill Clinton entered the Whitehouse, the war on porn was scaled back to a mere trickle. Recall the scandal of the young intern with Bill. Hopes are the same for loose laws on porn if Hillary gets in the Whitehouse. Thus, from Reagan’s administration, we’ve moved from strong war on porn, on abortion, on LGBT, and so forth, to today where these sins are just winked at, and in many cases, upheld as minor and innocent. We are told, “Why can’t any two adults do what they please in private?” They can, but then they face the judgment, not only with problems in relationships and physical diseases now, but especially at the Last Day, which everyone laughs at.

The sins today are not only winked at, but gloried in. Recall what the great Apostles to the Gentiles said in Romans 1:18-28 in the context of lesbianism and homosexuality:

who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:32 NKJ).

We are now in hand-to-hand combat against the ungodly forces that Satan leads. He has his seed, and leads them to do as he pleases:

and “escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:26 NKJ).

Recall what the Apostle John said in 1 John 3:10:

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10 ESV)

Moreover, John continues:

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. 4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. 6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6 NKJ)

Let us fight the good fight of faith and conquer in the ultimate name, Jesus, the forces and personalities of evil by spreading the Gospel and living in His name. AMEN. Ὡ

 

If the Enthronement of Messiah at the Ascension Is True, Why Are Things So Bad?

(© May 2015, Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.)

The average Joe watching the national news will develop a headache from his blood pressure. If you drag your carcass to the TV to subject yourself to the national news day after day without discernment, you’ll be ready to hire ten psychiatrists! Sometimes the news reminds me of the Road Runner cartoon, where Wiley Fox is always trying to catch Road Runner, and when he almost has him, something happens. Wiley Fox is conservatives, and Road Runner is the liberals.

Moreover, recall Hee-Haw’s theme song:

Gloom, despair, and agony on me;

Deep dark depression, excessive misery.

If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all;

Gloom, despair, and agony on me.

Enter today’s Church Calendar celebration of ASCENSION. Growing up Baptist, then in the Bible Church movement until I graduated from seminary, then in Presbyterianism, I never heard a sermon on Ascension. At every church I attended or was pastor, we believed in the Ascension, but we just did not preach it. It was after I became Anglican and followed the church year calendar that I both heard and preached sermons on the Ascension. Our despair and pessimism kept us from the Ascension.

In my short life so far of 70 years, I’ve never seen such turmoil in the world in general and in the USA in particular. Is it any wonder that doom’s day dispensationalists are writing end time books and making millions, with such recent titles as Left Behind (LaHaye), The Harbinger (Cahn), Four Blood Moons (Hagee), and too many to list. And what plays into their hands is the news, from which they get much of their ammunition. In my circles, that is called newspaper interpretation. Find the worst news you can, and find a passage in the Bible that seems to fit. Woola! You can make a book if you do this enough. They all have one theme: the devil wins and Jesus and the Church loses—which means Jesus loses–so the Church has to raptured out of a defeated world. I cannot fathom how the Church with basically obedience to Christ will lose to Satan who promotes disobedience. Worship of the true God brings loss while worship of Satan brings victory. Go figure.

BUT it is my contention that we do not see with the Lord God’s eyes; we tend to filter the world through sinful eyes of unbelief. It is idolatry to enthrone Satan and dethrone the Lord Christ. What was His resurrection and Ascension all about if not His coronation? Does He not rule NOW? Here are a few texts that give us the opposite view of modern dooms day “prophets”:

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s

AT HIS COMING.

24 Then comes THE END,

whenHe delivers the kingdom to God the Father,

when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.

25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.

26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. (1 Cor. 15:22-26).

Notice that we have the Son’s “coming,” which word nearly always means the Second Coming in Paul’s writings. Paul defines the “coming” as “the end,” but the end of what? He gives two temporal clauses that define “the end,” each clause beginning with “when.” “When” He (Jesus) delivers a conquered kingdom to His Father, and “when” He (Jesus) has “put an end to all rule and authority and power,” meaning, of course, all wicked rule. Then he concludes with an explanation of how He wins: In the interim between His Ascension and current rule, He is “put[ing] all enemies under His feet.” Thus, when the Lord comes, it is not to establish a 1,000 year reign, but to deliver to His Father a conquered kingdom. How does He do that? By His Holy Spirit in the preaching of the Gospel through His chosen men:

18And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;

and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matt. 28:18-20)

Do you see it? In the beginning, the Triune God created the world, “heavens and earth.” Mankind lost the same in the fall in Genesis 3, through a man, Adam, but one Man, Jesus, will regain it. He is the Second or Last Adam. The first Adam lost it through the temptation of the devil, now the Last Adam regains “heaven and earth” through His righteous obedience, death on the cross, bodily resurrection, and Ascension. We win, the world loses; Jesus is Lord and has won, we are His servants and we win also:

And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (Rom. 16:20).

Just as in the Great Commission from Matthew just given, Paul says Jesus Christ will be with us to “crush Satan under [our] feet shortly,” which is from Genesis 3:15 regarding the First Adam:

And I will put enmity

Between you [the devil] and the woman,

And between your seed and her Seed;

He [Christ] shall crush [so the Hebrew] your head,

And you shall crush His heel (Gen. 3:15).

Obviously Christ crushes Satan in His Incarnation, death, resurrection, and Ascension. Moreover, because we are identified with Him, we also crush the devil’s head—how, by the Gospel. Consider these quotes from modern church historians who are top scholars in their fields:

. . . in modern Africa, where the number of Christians [has] increased, staggeringly, from 10 million in 1900 to 360 million by 2000. If that growth does not represent the largest quantitative change in the whole of religious history, I am at a loss to think of a rival. [emphasis added; Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom, p. 4.]

At the beginning of the 20th century, the only predominantly Christian nation in Asia was the Philippines, which was a strongly Catholic country with a small Protestant ministry. At the end of the 20th century, Korea has established itself as a largely Christian nation, with Protestantism—especially Presbyterianism—being by far the largest Christian group. [Alister McGrath, Christianity’s Dangerous Idea, p. 447ff.]

McGrath goes on to say that this Buddhist nation, speaking of South Korea, had increased from only a handful of Protestant and Catholic churches in 1901 to explosive growth today (McGrath, p. 447ff):

  • There were very few Christians in Korea in 1900, only about one percent. In the whole of Korea (before the split between North and South), there were 300,000 Christians in 1920, but has now risen to 12 million, over one quarter of the national population (Jenkins, p. 2), with Presbyterians dominating. The nation has been converted from Buddhism to Christ, and Korean Protestants outnumber Roman Catholics by three to one.
  • The 1907 Pyongyang revival came, which was mainly Pentecostal but the Presbyterians were coming on strong also.
  • In 1957 there were about 800,000 Protestants in S. Korea; by 1968 there were 1,873,000 Protestants; by 1978 5,294,000! South Korea today is about 70% Christian, with Presbyterians leading the way. Here is a predominantly Buddhist country that has been completely turned around in only 100 years.

Turning to N. Korea, we see every sign of its imminent collapse; as recently as this past week the chubby dictator had another fellow ruler shot. Complete information about the state of the Church there is difficult to obtain, but “anecdotal evidence suggests that Christianity has already made deep inroads among the population. . . .” (McGrath, p. 448). The same is happening in China where there are two churches, the underground one and the government controlled one, both full of believers. Estimates run as high as 100 million have been converted, but no one knows for sure.

I can’t begin to do justice to all the stats so get the two books (Jenkins and McGrath mentioned above). It is not without reason that the Church at large has been praying the Lord’s Prayer since the Church’s beginning in AD 30, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” That is not an empty prayer that applies to some far away millennium, and just about all Christendom prays it each Lord’s Day.

Don’t forget that the Lord taught us the Gospel is leaven: it works silently out of view, and then suddenly it blossoms. Moreover, the enemy has never learned that death does not stop the Church but grows it. Read Hebrews: 2:14-18, and here is v.14:

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.

Those in power think they can promote their kingdoms by murdering their enemies, but for the Christian, that is only a change of geography, and he/she continues to advance the kingdom with the Lord on His throne (Rev. 6:9-11)! It is not missionaries who are evangelizing the African countries, but the Africans themselves. Here are some more stats:

  • There were few if any Pentecostals in 1900; today of the 2.2 billion Christians in the world, about 500 million are Pentecostals, and by 2050 it is predicted they will a third. We must get over our divisions regarding the charismatic movement. I’m not one, but at least I can say with Paul I’m glad when Christians preach the gospel, if they are basically orthodox (Phil. 1:18). The United Pentecostals are different; denying the Holy Trinity, they put themselves outside any orthodoxy.
  • In 1900, there were virtually no Anglicans in Uganda, but now they compose about 35 percent of the total population (McGrath, p. 69), and Uganda is exploding in population growth, having about 30 million. In 1977 Anglican archbishop Janani Luwum was martyred by despot Idi Amin, which caused many more people to be converted to Christ! (Tertullian, died AD 225: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”) Uganda has gone from a few in 1900 to 10 million today, and still going strong. They recently tried to enact the death penalty for those homosexuals who are spreading AIDS. The West, especially the USA, put a stop to it. Our immorality knows no debths.
  • In 2003 when Episcopal Church USA consecrated an homosexual as a bishop, they threatened to cut off the large sums of annual money to the Anglicans in Nigeria who were opposing the liberal Anglicans in the USA. The USA church had consecrated an active homosexual bishop. To his eternal credit, the Presiding Anglican Bishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, essentially told them that their money could perish with them! Until his recent retirement, he was the head bishop of about 20 million Anglicans in Nigeria, which does not count other Christians there. I could continue for pages, but here is one summary (Jenkins, p. 70).
  • I have not even touched Pentecostalism in Brazil, south of our border, and the incredible millions of Pentecostals in Africa.

We give the number of worldwide Christians in millions:

Dates 2005 2025
Roman Catholics 1,119 1,336
Independents 427 613
Protestants 376 491
Orthodox 220 236
Anglicans 80 108

The centers of Christianity 100 years ago were the USA, Europe, and the UK; now they are Africa, Latin America, S. Korea, etc. More particularly, the West is in serious decline. I used to say we’re in a free fall, but it is worse than that; instead, we’re wearing jet packs on our backs pointed down. We’re under judgment, now.

There is a tsunami of Holy Spirit Gospel flooding taking place right before our eyes, but because we are willfully blinded. We do not see it. Materialistic Americans will compromise anything—anything—to keep our toys and our personal peace. While we are declining (read, the Lord is removing His Holy Spirit from us), He is pouring out another Pentecost in other parts of the world. In 1900 approximately 90% of Christians were in the West; today about 80% are outside the West, and counting.

When you see on the news that Christians are being persecuted all over the world, know that Jesus is behind that. It is judgment of those nations who are losing the gospel salt, and favor on those nations where the Christians are going. Moreover, it is an indirect blessing on the Church, for we see in God’s word that the Church is like a gas fire: stomp it, it spreads; leave it alone, it burns out.

The only things the media and politicians see in places like the Middle East is guns, bombs, mass murders, military might, who is rising to power and who is being dethroned. Denying the Ascension and thus denying Christ, we think that with our military might we are invincible, forgetting that Jesus is omnipotent. He could take us down with mosquitoes, if He so willed it. If our leaders really want to change the Muslims and Arabs, they should open those countries to Christians. Instead, former strongholds to Christians are being shut, such as Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, etc. In AD 30 to now, Christians have increased proportionally from about one in 200,000 to about 2 out of 6.5.

Don’t look at what the devil is doing, look at what Jesus is doing. Stop the doom and despair; stop buying books that speak low of Christ and high of the devil; look up; tell your neighbor about the Sovereign Lord. I’ve read the Book—we’ve won! We won at His resurrection; we’ve been winning since then by the power of His Ascension in the Holy Spirit, and we are winning NOW. AMEN.