A True Story

This is a story about someone I met in cyberspace, a friend I will call "Isabel". It is a retelling of the mysteries and dark shadows that have challenged me with glimmers of what appear to be shimmering lights that dispel gloom and despair. It brought some changes into my life. As a result I sought out some places we are taught that we Christians should not go to (the places where the demons dwell) to understand something that defied my understanding. I sought out these places not to learn "the truth about Jesus", but to learn about the falling away, from the people who claim they were once saved and now are claiming to be atheists (or agnostics---the same thing really).

There are false ones who are equipping themselves for their brand of "evangelism". They draw  in those persons seeking the "truth" in the wrong places. There are many who desire to learn from those who have "grown past the indoctrinations" of those less intelligent persons who go by the classification "Christians".  These are fallen ones who claim they have learned the "higher truth" that Christians force others to conform to false traditions. They seek to avoid the underpinnings, the hard things about sin and hell and death, and the things Christians understand about the battle in this world and what that is really about. According to these people, foolish Christians would like to have everyone to believe that a good God enjoys sending people to hell. These self-promoting knowledgeable ones (I say this tongue firmly planted in cheek) also work at causing others to learn to hate and reject the true God of the Bible. If you happen to corner them, they may admit that they do not have the answers to what the Bible does give the answers to, but still they firmly believe that their non-answers are better than the Biblical answers which they have rejected... and they are actively involved in "preaching" their message that it is ok to give in to your doubts and to just accept the "fact" that Jesus and the Bible are simply just "lies and fairytales". This story documents such a one who decided that the truth really isn't the truth, and that the Bible is not to be believed. It is a story that is playing out for many who once considered themselves to be Christians. And this trend is growing.

Will this story have a happy ending?
I suppose it depends on the way you look at it, and that goes for everything in this world of ups and downs and happy and sad.

 

Meeting:

A Forever Friend



I was in transition, everything in my life was up in the air so it was nice having something constant, a place I could go to where I could meet people that I liked, people that had something valuable in common with me...that common denominator that links you with thousands...millions...of people, who share a common belief in a Savior.

Moving is never easy, and my move took me from balmy beaches and sunshine, to a place of long winters and many cloudy days. It also took me away from the relationships I had formed, finally, after having remained in one place for more than just a couple of years...and this move was also taking me from the somewhat close proximity of my nearest family members.

I was putting all my faith and trust in what lay ahead instead of hanging on to what I was leaving behind so having someplace that I could go to where I could find people who tried to make sense of this crazy world felt right. I found a place of like-minded friends in a virtual world. Here was a meeting place of the minds where we tried to make sense of the real one. It was like being in a fraternity of  adventurers on this journey called LIFE
...and it was there in cyberland that I met Isabel.


Friends and Compatriots:

Sticking together through virtual battles and storms



Wherever two or more are gathered there are bound to be disagreements, and that was ok as long as we agreed on the fundamentals; that there is no salvation in anything or anyone other than Jesus... so when the disagreements happened at the Watcher Forum it was all good. We remained focused on the only essential that really mattered: Jesus is Lord over all... and there were a few of us that seemed to hold together all the more tightly around that essential.

I truly believed that Isabel was such a person, a true virtual friend who seemed to love the Lord and one who had a solidness and goodness about her. She never pressed to have her point of view heard over the din of the arguing and dissension and strife. She always seemed to be so calm and serene, knowing that nothing could be gained by adding to the fray. She was like a rock who continued in love whether she agreed or disagreed, and could maintain her sense of self when there was such chaos all around. I would find myself wishing I was more like Isabel. 

Why couldn't I be like that? Why do I always have to argue for what I believe? 

Isn't it better to allow the Holy Spirit to do His work by my knowing when to speak, and when to remain silent (with greater emphasis on the latter being a true gift of a virtuous woman).

One of my friends who went by “Tex”, was booted off the board. He managed to contact me, as well as Isabel and a couple of others before getting kicked off the forum. He became a “virtual exile” and the reasons he gave weren't sufficient (I thought) for his excommunication. At the time I thought such an injustice should be aired out openly, and eventually was resolved with my own excommunication as well.

Tex and Isabel also visited another online forum that held spiritual discussions. This one mostly talked about the pre-trib rapture. They did not tolerate anyone who held to a post-trib doctrine so I never bothered to join that group. I just silently watched the discussions while I shook my head in sad disagreement realizing the shortcomings and misplaced emphasis of that line of thinking.

There was also another Watcher forum member that had discussions with Isabel and I. Rick pushed for the idea that the new testament Judaizers had it right, and went so far as to say that the Apostle Paul was a heretic therefore all of the Pauline epistles needed to be removed from our Bibles. I found his comments to be ridiculous and offensive to the extreme. I went round and round with him until I was blue in the face, yet Isabel said she didn't mind Rick at all and enjoyed conversations with him. Again I thought “Why can't I be more like Isabel and not let someone like Rick upset me so? I should love Rick and be more patient with him, and draw him in gently over time....a long, long time.”

When things fell apart for me at the Watcher forum I was glad that Isabel wanted to and was able to maintain our friendship. It was a source of great sorrow and pain that I was cast out from the forum. Like all things in this life it proved to be temporary after all.

Isabel sympathized with my pain. 

When she started a blog she invited me over for a visit and things continued on happily for several years. Isabel seemed so stable and down to earth. She exuded all the traits that I had always wished I had and these traits just came naturally to her. I thought that having a blog was a great idea, so my husband helped me to establish this one.

Now I have my own virtual spot where I could put my thoughts "out there" and no one but me (well, and Jesus of course) could banish me forever.



Blogging:

Trying to Figure out This Strange World We Live In




Through blogging I found out that Isabel home schooled her six children, and that she baked her own bread. In my mind she was much like the Proverbs 31 woman. Isabel could find things that substituted well for other things. She had a way of finding uses for things most of us would simply throw out. This appealed to the clutter bug in me because I always knew that every broken thing or fragment of something I refused to throw out would eventually have some use in the future. She shared her recipe successes as well as the failures. And she also told of the blessings in the little things that happened in day to day life. These humble blessings amounted to so much. They were little things that told of God's love for her and her family, and of His attention to their needs. She also posted pictures that she had taken herself, sometimes displaying the fact that even the “throw away” or motiony and out of focus photos had an uncommon beauty about them. The theme of reclamation seemed to be a recurring one in many of her blog articles. This served to remind me that I was once destined for the ultimate great garbage dump called hell, and was reclaimed by my loving Savior who was able to redeem me and save me from that fate worse than death.

For me blogging is a nice place to journal ideas or life's occurrences and serves as an outlet for talking about the things which peak my interest. Sometimes these thoughts are generated by a sermon or book or something which was said by another blogger. Isabel was my biggest fan...well, she was my only fan for quite some time, or so it seemed. When something really terrible happened to me at work, Isabel was there to say “Carry on and keep your chin up”. She spoke the words which helped me feel better about myself. It was nice to know that Isabel was there, a comrade at arms. She was a friend who stuck closer than the sister I never had.

Of course there were the “lurkers” too (people that come and go but never leave a comment) and that was ok and hopefully there were things of value for them here in the midst of my ramblings. My main intent however, was not to grow a reader following. It was to sift through random fragments and place them into some kind of order. I wanted to make better sense out of it. If and when someone does share a comment because they want to shed added light on the matter at hand, I am truly thankful, and whether I agree or disagree with their comment it is all good in God's eternal perspective.

Isabel and I shared the fact that we were both interested in trying to understand the weird stuff going on in this world. We both wanted to know more about the symbolism in advertising and subliminal suggestions all around us, and had listened to Alex Jones about the 9/11 inconsistencies and many other “conspiracy theories”. I personally wasn't overly alarmed by any of these things no matter how horrible some of these things appeared to be. I just wanted to be aware of what is truly going on, and why things were being misreported. Naturally I believe that the “prince of the air” must be mixing things up by causing all of this confusion. I believed that we both wanted to keep our eyes wide open to see it as it truly is, not as they want us to believe it to be.

As a “pre-tribber” Isabel kept an open mind to the fact that this might not be the correct order of eschatological events. For my part, I never felt that being pre-trib was something over which to divide with another believer about, it was just something I debated. I felt and still feel very passionately that the pre-tribbers have it wrong, however I realize that the timing of the rapture is one of those minor issues which the Lord will eventually reveal in His time and that as long as we are good on “the majors”, it's all good.

Yes, everything was very, very good in my virtual bloggy world.


Religiousness:

Heterodox Associations


Time continued on as it always does, and so I went on in real life and in my virtual world as well. They both have their ups and downs, their true and their false, their good and their bad, just as everything in this world tends to be.

I continued in my quest for understanding (different from the quest for Truth, I have that...or rather HE has me) , and I decided to divide the difference between these two aspects by keeping two blogs; one for musings about the perplexities of this world, and one for thinking on uplifting Biblical things. I needed a refuge where I could meditate on the good things God promised us since the things of this world always tended to bring me down. That was the original intent for Bible Treasures and Pearls. Just as my Flutterbys blog was mainly there for me to try to sort out random thoughts. Bible Treasures was meant to help me find the balance to my trying to find out all that was wrong with this world.

I also continued to learn more about dear Isabel as well. She told of how she had found out about Jesus through the Roman Catholic Church, but that she came to realize the errors of the church. She became an Evangelical pre-tribulationist...but I was relieved to know that she didn't cling too tightly to that position, because truly we may have to go through much tribulation prior to Jesus' returning. She was even considering the validity of Calvinism (halleluja! She's on the right track!!), and said she considered herself a 4 point Calvinist. She could not quite accept the idea of “limited atonement”. That wasn't such a big deal, it was just a matter of how you looked at it after all; she still believed the Bible to be true and that Jesus is the only way for salvation. The rest, in my opinion, is academics and are topics which can be open to discussion. No problem.

I myself came from a Seventh day Adventist background, and then Mormonism and the new age movement just to mix me up even further. The SDA church is also considered a heterodox (at the outer fringes of Christian orthodoxy) organization. I am still struggling through deeply ingrained misinformation myself, and I thank the Lord for His mercy and guidance through these. The world is full of problems and misguided misinformation, and we have the Holy Spirit and the Bible to keep us and bring us into all truth.

Isabel and I were both simple people satisfied with simple things, and I thought to myself: “what a great joy to have a friend like Isabel.”


Talking about Faith:

It's all about Jesus



So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 
 Romans 10:17 (KJV)

It's one thing to talk about faith in Jesus online, or with friends at church, but how about with those who are not saved? Our coworkers? Our unsaved family?

When I was first saved, I wanted to evangelize the world around me. Everyone needs to hear the good news about Jesus, don't they? Certainly everyone wants to avoid hell...so I pray for my friends and family. I yearn for everyone to be saved. If one is in Christ, isn't that a natural desire? Perhaps reaching out requires (I wondered) that I get the wording just right for them to understand it properly...and because I take the warnings against false teachers very seriously I understand that we've "got to get it right". No one in their right mind would reject God's offer if it was presented correctly, would they? It is an offer they can't refuse, isn't it?

I prayed and prayed for understanding about what I should say, and when and where...and eventually that desire cooled and went semi-dormant, after all if the Lord desires to save someone He has His pastors and teachers and ministers of His word whom He will send to those who have a sincere desire for the truth (like He did for the Ethiopian Eunuch ). However that sense that I should be speaking to others about Jesus and His gift of salvation never fully left me. Talking about these things online gave me a way to do it without necessarily having to get in someone's face. Doing this in person was something I couldn't quite seem to get the proper handle on doing correctly.....not yet...although I continued to get the sense that speaking up is something that is necessary and vital to my Christian walk.


That desire to grow in the grace that was necessary so I could speak openly and honestly in the Spirit of the Lord full of grace and truth and love and humility, continued to be on my mind and heart. I don't believe in formulas or doing things by rote, so The Way of the Master didn't seem like the right fit for me. Don't get me wrong, I admire the fact that they take the great commission seriously and have a passion to share the truth of the gospel. I just want it to be natural, to flow out of me like breathing, and out of my sincere love for Jesus.

I sought out other online sources that showcased street evangelists to see how they did it and to see if it jelled with what I am to do. If I love Jesus, wouldn't I want to talk about Him all the time? Wouldn't He always be on my heart and on my mind and on my lips?

As I struggled with these thoughts I couldn't help but notice that Isabel NEVER posted on her blog about Jesus; never ever. I asked her what she thought about reaching out to others to save them from hell. She answered somewhat obliquely hinting that her views about these things were taking on a different shape. I knew from previous chats with her that she was seriously doubting the pre-trib rapture position, and thought that perhaps this was what she was sorting out in her thinking on these things, however the way she answered me seemed a little cryptic and ominous. She hesitated to say what she was really thinking regarding “final things” such as hell and warning others. She said it was because she was still trying to come to a conclusion about it and wasn't quite there yet. 

Fair enough. I tried to remain patient as I awaited her conclusions on these things.


What is Happening to the Church?:

Faith, Jesus, and the DaVinci Code



Wherefore, beloved, 
seeing that ye look for such things,
be diligent
that ye may be found of him
in peace,
without spot,
and blameless.
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation;
even as our beloved brother Paul also
according to the wisdom given unto him
hath written unto you;
As also in all his epistles, 
speaking in them of these things;
in which are some things hard to be understood,
which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest,
as they do also the other scriptures,
unto their own destruction.
Ye therefore, beloved,
seeing ye know these things before,
beware
lest ye also,
being led away with
the error of the wicked,
fall
from
your
own
stedfastness.
2Peter 3:14-17 (KJV)

While searching out the things that go unreported in the general media, I  spent a lot of time looking at several Youtube videos. I wanted to understand the discussion (disagreements/arguments) of which I had heard only snippets. Almost every spare moment was devoted to finding out what both sides had to say, even giving the “lunatic fringe” a hearing. One thing we do know from scripture; nothing in this world is as it appears to be.

Whether we realize it or not we are in a battle which involves spiritual forces in high places. Often these high places involve offices within the governments of this world. I knew that I would be entering into the unholy places where men much stronger and wiser than I had lost their hope and their faith in a loving God powerful enough to save us from all that is ugly and hateful. I prayed that Jesus would see me through all this, that His Holy Spirit would guide and protect me as I walked through these dark places. I continually sought what Jesus wanted me to understand concerning all of this and to continually be able to clearly see the difference between what was true and what was there to confuse me or throw me off the track.

It was during the time I was doing this research that Isabel had confided to me of the changes in her beliefs of certain things that I was starting to discover the acceleration of the undermining of all things Biblical. The DaVinci Code movie (and several other popular films that have been coming out recently) is just one area that this process is revealing itself. It is subtly undermining what we Christians know about Jesus. Many films which promote themselves to be scripturally accurate or even seemingly “Christian” have a subtle undercurrent of something else going on. They are slowly changing the truth of God's word into a semi-truth, truth mixed with just enough error to get people off the scent. At the bottom of this new “understanding” is the theory that many Bible facts have evolved over time and that the Bible actually incorporates many religious ideas which are common to all religions. The claim is made that the many ancient religions and cultures of the Old Testament times were the soil from which “the myths of the Bible”  (their opinion which they claim to be the real truth) had sprung. 

I could see the insidiousness of this, and shuddered at this carefully crafted lie. It was and it is the spirit of antichrist which we are warned about in the Bible, because it was already in the world even at the time of Christ and the apostles. It is doubly dangerous because it has “an appearance of godliness but it rejects His power”. It comes straight out of the pit of hell. 

And many in the church are believing this lie.

The “liberal” churches of today marry such things as evolution with the Biblical account of creation, and say that the miraculous occurrences that are documented for us in scripture need not be taken literally. Even the atheist Richard Dawkins understands the inconsistency in doing this by stating: ‘It seems to me an odd proposition that we should adhere to some parts of the Bible story but not to others. After all, when it comes to important moral questions, by what standards do we cherry-pick the Bible? Why bother with the Bible at all if we have the ability to pick and choose from it, what is right and what is wrong?’*...of course Dawkins is an atheist and does reject the Bible completely. In this he purports to be more consistent in his beliefs than many Christians are, whom he insists contradict themselves. The Bible would call this self-contradictory condition double-mindedness, and on this one point I do agree with Mr. Dawkins.

I realize of course that many who consider themselves to be Christians today are not very Bible literate. Many attend church because it is a place to meet other people in their community and they see it as a way to secure “good social standing”. I read an article recently which was written by a church goer in Australia who confessed that he did not believe in God or the Bible, however he said he continues to attend because he enjoys being with his church friends. He said he was a member of the choir. He also said that he knows for a fact that at least 50% of the choir do not believe in God. Unfortunately these people are going to be easy prey for the horrible things that stand ready to be unleashed on this world. God in His infinite mercy is still allowing for more time, but that window of time is closing.

One day I read a particularly offensive piece in which the author of it stated that the Father God of the Bible is the ultimate picture of a great cosmic child abuser to allow such things as what happened to the Son Jesus. They rejected Jesus and the cross as a matter of “A good God would NEVER do such a thing”. This writer did not understand that a HOLY God did do such a thing because it was and is the only way to bring unholy people to Himself. I mentioned this “God as ultimate child abuser” theory to Isabel who admitted that she had never heard of this theory before.

It eventually comes down to this: “Do you really believe Jesus, God, and the Bible, or don't you?”? God knows where we each stand on this, and only God can make us right on the inside, so there is no reason to attempt to keep up the charade because if you aren't fooling Him, ultimately you aren't fooling anyone.

Thankfully, I found comfort in the belief that the Lord had prepared people like Isabel and I to not fall for all of this. I know with absolute assurance that without His protection I too would fall into all of this deception.

At times seeing all this horrible stuff makes my head spin, and I pray during such times for the Lord to guide me through it. If I had to rely on my own wisdom and strength I would most certainly fail. 

My strength is only possible because of God's strength and love.

The root of all evil? (broadcast on Channel 4, 16 January 2006)

Appearances Can be Deceiving:

The Faces Behind the Masks



Mirror

I look at myself
And all that I see
Is the front I put up
For others, not me.

I act very happy
As though I haven't a care
I look deep inside me
And nothing is there.

Now and then everyone is lonely
Except for those above
For they're never alone
And they're surrounded by love.

I have many troubles
Both many and great
I guess I should stop acting
But it's much too late.

I will stop acting
When that last curtain falls
That's when I'll be happy
That's when my God calls.

I will hasten to leave
This old world behind
I'll remember the rude
But I'll cherish the kind.

Julie O'Neill

I found this poem in my husband's high school yearbook. I remember the feelings of lostness and hopelessness of my youthful years in high school, and the feeling that I had to cover up my true dark feelings with a mask; that I won't ever be happy in this world; not until I die and go to heaven. That was before I was truly saved, before the Lord filled me with His Spirit. His Spirit goes deep behind the mask, exposing the truth and cleansing “the inside of the cup”. He doesn't just dress up the outer appearance for other people to enjoy and praise each other for.

We all get those feelings from time to time, don't we? We can feel so very despairing and hopeless, like it all is for nothing. It is as if dread and despair are right there ready to consume us completely. I have seen many television programs, news articles, psychology book chapters, etc, detailing situations, causes, and the effects on the persons suffering depression as well as how it effects family members. I've also seen the popular wisdom's way of dealing with these things; with pills, with counseling, with self hypnosis, with the power of positive thinking, and the list goes on and on, and some of these things can alleviate some of the symptoms, but they will never provide the cure.

Feelings are not what we ought to base our lives and all our decisions on. Feelings come and go and are capricious. If you base everything on your feelings, you will be tossed as if on waves; up and down, and to and fro. It is taught in modern psychology courses that we need to firm up our feelings, strengthen ourselves and pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps because we all perceive that we need that something solid. However our mood will always be as the waves that are tossed by the winds of our circumstances if we only focus on getting our feelings right. Instead, we must build on the Rock, not on the shifting sands of what we think or what we feel about our circumstances while hiding behind the “happy face” mask. Sure, those feelings are there and they certainly seem to demand our attention, and they also should be dealt with. The Bible tells us what to do with our unruly feelings:

Submit yourselves therefore to God.
Resist the devil,
and he will flee from you...
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord,
and he shall lift you up.
---James 4:7 &10 (KJV)

King David endured many times of deep sorrow and despair, so his words in the Psalms are comforting and helpful in knowing where to look when we feel troubled or anxious. Also it is good to remember what Joseph must have gone through those 17 years in prison for something he did not do. My little sufferings are extremely small in comparison. Thinking on these heroes always has the effect of bringing my understanding back into correct focus. They also serve to remind me that there are going to be greater tests ahead, and these small waves of despair will prepare me to hang on through the larger storms which most assuredly loom ahead.

The mega-churches of today focus mostly on feelings. They try to boost people by only reading the joyous verses of the Bible which glow with visions of heaven and glory, and by singing only the happy praise songs that say the same thing over and over and over, like chanting mantras to get us into that mindlessly delirious mindset of happy, happy, happy!!! I often hear: “God is good all the time...all the time God is good”. Saying such things isn't really wrong... however, it takes one attribute of God out of the context of the whole and subtly over time these manipulations change Him into a god of man's making instead of the true Holy God who demands truth in the inward parts; a God that is a consuming fire who will recompense evil and cautions us against wishy-washiness. Many churches appear to be very whishy-washy.

The church is not preparing it's people for the possibility of having to endure trials and tribulation. Instead the church (for the most part) is lulling people to sleep with happy lullabies of comfort and joy. “Do not preach about suffering or hell or repentance....these warnings are for “the lost” and we are happy and secure so we do not want to hear about all that negativity” is what I see being preached today. The fact that there are many people lost and headed for hell is a good reason to be reminded of the severity of it, and is evidence that we need to be in prayer for the lost.

It began to dawn on me that the great falling away IS INDEED coming, and has already begun...many who are putting on a show of “churchiness” are beginning to show their true colors, showing that they never truly believed in the God of the Bible. Many of them were never truly converted and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Instead of submitting everything to the cleansing and healing of God's power, they trust in their own thoughts and beliefs, and in their own positive thinking “power”. Many do not worship the God of the Bible at all, but rather they idolize an image of a composite god that they think they can allow themselves to believe in.

Many will come to that point in their lives when the mask must be thrown off and their true identity is revealed they will discover that they actually are unbelievers because in order to enter into a covenant with the Lord that is the first thing that must be confronted, confessed, and dealt with when we humble ourselves truly before God. Instead of humbling to the truth of this condition and coming clean before Him confessing these sins, many instead blame God for having saved them (not true, that conversion never happened) and then allowing them to slip out of His feeble and incapable hands. The Bible however tells us that God does not lose His grip of His own (John 10:28,29), and that those who reject Him were never His.

Little children, it is the last time:
and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come,

even now are there many antichrists;
whereby we know that it is the last time.

They went out from us,
but they were not of us;
for if they had been of us,
they would no doubt have continued with us:
but they went out,
that they might be made manifest
that they were not all of us.
But ye have an unction from the Holy One,
and ye know all things.

---1John 2:18-20 (KJV)

Although I was beginning to see these things more clearly, I was still detached from it, it didn't touch me. It happened to others and they probably deserved it...but didn't I also deserve hell? And just because I am protected and these things no longer touch me, I thought I should be more concerned about those who are still imperiled. I sought the Lord about this because I sensed that my desire for the lost was not where it needed to be. There is a line from a movie (I cannot recall which one, True Colors maybe?) that sometimes enters into my thinking: “You don't own it until it costs you something”...I would come to find out the meaning of that saying.



The Falling Away:

Does God Allow Some of His People to Fall?

 

The security of the believer is a subject of conversation which often gets debated on message forums, and both sides of the discussion/argument have their reasons for believing as they do. If one believes the Bible to be true, one has to believe all of it, not just the parts that support certain arguments. With that said, it is difficult by man's wisdom to make everything in the Bible fit together in a nice compact box and then say “here is your answer”. The logic of the Bible is complex, profound, mysterious, and it is holy and divine. How can we, so lowly, unworthy, and corrupt, understand something so holy without divine help? And yet we each think that our own stated opinions amount to so much truth and wisdom. We often (myself included)  attempt to make these divine "paradoxes" (I should say "seeming paradoxes" because to us it seems contradictory, but is it really? There is so much we do not know) much easier for our own understanding to assimilate.

Many Christians believe it is possible to lose one's salvation and have told me of those who were truly saved, who loved Jesus with all of his or her heart and subsequently fell away from a saved position in Christ. I have read all of the emotional reasons as well as the verses in the Bible they had provided in support of their assertions. That said I still hold to it being impossible to be truly saved and then lose a saved position in Christ. Do they know with 100% certainty that their friend/relative/co-worker/church associate was truly converted by the saving power of God? How could they possibly know that to be true of anyone?

The Bible provides a clue about the deceitful and yet convincing ability of appearances when it says that even devils believe.... and yet they are devils and not saved by God, and that even the angels of darkness can disguise themselves to appear as angels of light. Is it not possible that people can appear to be saved and yet still remain unconverted, and then eventually be exposed as the frauds that they are?

In our attempts at trying to second guess what God is actually saying we sometimes (often?) give the enemies of the cross ammunition with which to shoot down our theories with theories of their own. 

Why would God allow such a thing as unbelief or falling away from belief?

Why didn't He make all things He desires us to know easier to understand? 

Why does He require us to just believe Him on the matters that are so important yet so difficult to comprehend? 

The atheists will say that these questions in themselves prove that He doesn't exist. Ah, another opinion which makes the unattainable easier to understand and this opinion has an added "benefit" of being much easier on the flesh (self-will) as well. This way we don't have to bother about such things as “sin” and “hell” and “humility”. We can be as haughty and sinful as we like and yet think we are “good” and put on a good performance of goodness and perhaps even do charity work while getting along with all both sinners and saints alike thereby proving our own goodness. We only have to answer to ourselves as to what goodness really entails. We decide what is good for ourselves and what we expect from others around us. It puts ourselves on the throne of our own little kingdom, and everything serves the self in ways of our own design...and yet, there is something lacking in that way of thinking.

I pondered all these aforementioned things, observing it with my love of the Bible intact. I clearly recognize that anyone who doesn't fully submit to the Bible being true will not understand it this way. I understand the position of not being fully submitted because I can recall how I thought on these things prior to my salvation. I considered myself a Christian at that time, and yet try as I might I could not make sense out of the Bible. I tried to follow this preacher and that in order to find the answers and yet it was impossible for me to come to any conclusions about it. “All you have to do is believe” was what I kept hearing from the faithful yet try as I might my believing was something that waxed and waned because I didn't know what I believed and what belief I did have changed constantly with the currents of what others were telling me I should believe. 

It wasn't until I was at the end of myself that I surrendered to Jesus and begged Him to help me in the way that only He could. I knew that if I were to be saved it could only be through His saving me and not from my doing or my believing anything. I needed His Spirit, His power, His Truth. It had to be all Him, or it was nothing but a big fraud of my own contrivance.

    Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
    Matthew 10:26 (KJV)

When I came to that juncture in my life timeline it was very frightening to me. I had to face anything and everything with a face fully open to understanding the truth as God knows it come what may and I sensed that I would have to face some very unpleasant aspects of who or what I am; those very parts of me that were in conflict with holiness and truth. When the prophets of the Old Testaments had to stand before God they fell to their knees in fear because being in the presence of supreme holiness revealed to themselves their own unholiness. The first words out of the attending angel's mouth was always “Fear not” because of the tremendous fear such a presence brings on us.

When I feared having to submit fully to these understandings which revealed my sin, my filth, my horror, to the loving eyes of a holy God, I continually prayed for that strength to overcome my fear of being fully truthful before Him in full humility because of the fact that He could see all these terrible things that added up to me being who I am. I have to be completely honest to myself as well as God who already sees all these things anyway. In my honesty before Him He then cleanses me from all sin and replaces what filth I held/hold  and exchanges it with His Spirit. 

It is not something I do. 
It is the opposite of doing. 
It is the complete undoing of myself and that is the scary part.
It is letting go of the only things that I know to Someone that I do not know...but only heard about from the Bible. Once He has you and fills you then you begin to know Him from Himself. The difference is like knowing someone from other people telling you about someone that you've never met vs knowing someone directly like you know your dearest loved one.

Recently when watching a hockey game this difference came to me in another form. I perceived the various degrees of  relationships of the hockey fans of different regions for their own teams. From the commentary during a game they told of some hockey fans in British Columbia did not recognize a very famous Vancouver player. Some Vancouver residents later discovered (after he moved)  they had one as their next-door neighbor...however in Montreal players get mobbed everywhere they go because Montreal has a very strong love affair with their team and it's players. One group “knows of” their hockey players indirectly and dispassionately, and the other group knows their hockey players directly and passionately. This is an imperfect example because there probably are Montrealers who do not care about hockey and there probably are those in B.C. who love and could name and recognize every Vancouver hockey player. It is a generalization of something that I found interesting about most B.C.ers and most Quebecers, and it somewhat analogizes the difference between knowing Jesus and "knowing of" Jesus.

But anyway, back to the main topic at hand (how do I get so side-tracked?):
How do I communicate to others who still rely on their own faith and belief systems thinking that their faith in Jesus is enough to save them while I still don't fully understand how this works myself? It isn't a matter of believing the right thing and it IS a matter of believing the right One; the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE; to be completely submitted and immersed in the Truth of that not just through performance of the rituals of baptism and sacraments but through the actual spiritual conversion which these rituals only faintly represent.

I prayed and continue to pray for the ability to understand this better  so that I can be faithful to God in helping others to come to Him in truth  and not just join others of “like mind” in their mindless spiritual exercises. I know that if I am to help others to see and to come to Jesus truly it would take the Lord's help. If He desired me to bring others to Him and to serve Him in some small way it would have to be Him doing it through me. It has to be true in order for it to be real.

So I waited for His answer and I trusted that He would help me in His time.

What Happened?

She Could Not Have Said What I Thought She Said


A few scattered hints here and there and a few comments from Isabel said more through what she didn't say, than what she was communicating with her words. Now and then she still stopped by my blog and gave a short comment that focused on the obscure things said in the blog posts rather than the obvious or main focal points of each article. At the time I didn't see the significance of that. Hindsight always gives one a different perspective of the meanings of what is said and not said.

Then one day Isabel shocked me with the words that cut through me like a knife.

 “I don't believe in hell”. 

Five little words that were dropped just that simply. How can she say that? Jesus warns us about hell more than He talks about heaven. No matter... 
because ….

....she wasn't sure she believed Jesus either, or perhaps the way the Bible portrays Jesus...

I was dumbfounded, gobsmacked you might say. How can this be???

Over time she would reveal that there were things that had happened that she decided were a betrayal of God towards herself and her family. There were unanswered prayers(at least not answered the way she decided they should be answered) and pains that went without healings. There were those pesky miracles in the Bible that common logic would tell anyone paying attention CANNOT HAPPEN, I mean really, come on now; no rational thinking person REALLY believes that stuff, do they? And how does a “loving God” condone murder when He says “Thou shalt not kill”, or condemn homosexuality when He says “Thou shalt not judge”, and a whole laundry list of all kinds of grievances against God came out, one after another. 

I was shocked, sickened, and heartbroken all at the same time. 

Was this really happening? Or was I not reading what she was saying correctly because this was so completely bizarre. She doesn't believe Jesus? Or the Bible? What? Ummmmm..... how, who, what, when....? 

I couldn't ever have imagined a more strange happening than this. Not Isabel. No, there had to be some mistake, this just could not be happening.

At first I thought it was just because of her misunderstanding of the need for a hell, so I approached her from that angle. There are Christians that don't believe in a hell, and yet are saved, aren't there?, I wondered. Maybe....but then they would have to twist Jesus' words, and much of the New Testament wouldn't hold together. The more I tried, the more she revealed what she didn't believe and that it was all a big tragedy in her life that she could not continue in a lie of pretending to believe something that she does not believe in.

The mask had come off....but instead of turning to Jesus with it  she became emboldened to be open about her rebelliousness against God.

But why didn't she believe Jesus? 
Why couldn't she believe what she had previously said she believed? 
What words must I say to help her come back to understanding this correctly? 
What must I do to help her?
Why was this happening at all? 

These and many other questions flooded my thinking and my prayers to God were constantly for Isabel. 

How can I help Isabel, Lord. How? Please tell me Lord, please...how?

Desperate attempts at reconciliation:

Where did I go wrong?




I continued to read Isabel's blog accounts of how she came to reject the Bible as the living word of God. She confessed that she always had doubts (don't we all?), but that she suppressed those doubts (instead of continuing to rely on the fact that Jesus would make it good in His time). She stumbled upon (I think she sought them out, but anyway) people that expressed similar doubts, doubts about the Bible, and God, and hell. She then came face to face with accepting that it was ok to not believe any of it because it didn't have to be true, because there were others like her who thought they believed, wanted to believe, but didn't. Instead of continually seeking the Lord for help with her unbelief as the Bible cautions us to do, she had decided to seek other unbelievers out for self-justification and moral support (she called it “ the answers”). 

I discovered that she had decided it was more important to feel good about herself than having to suffer through learning how to conquer doubts and fears through God's mercy and grace. 

She had decided it was much easier and more worthwhile for her to search for “gems” or pearls of wisdom amongst the dung heaps (compost heaps; iow: piles of doo-doo)of man's reasonings, than trying to fight the good fight against the devil and the flesh.

I thought it best to respect Isabel's privacy in this matter by dialoguing mainly through emails. We did a few back and forths of this. It seemed like it was going in a circle. I decided to let the whole thing rest a bit and come back to it after giving it some time. Perhaps her confusion would end on it's own and she'd be back to “normal” and everything would be as it was...or perhaps that was my wishful thinking. I just didn't know what to think anymore so it was time to wait on God, to see if there was something, anything, I could do or say that could bring this to a good outcome.


My debate then moved out into the open, to the comments section of her blog.  I tried to give sound arguments (I thought they were good anyway) for the things she was saying; the hateful things against God and the Bible, but to no avail. Mostly she let her minions set me straight, that I was being hateful. Words like: “Can't you see that she is hurting?” “Why do you have to rub salt into her wounds?” “It's Christians like you that give Christianity a bad name!” etc. came from someone who claimed to still be a Christian...and perhaps she is, only Jesus knows that for sure. Then there were outright atheists who said that what I said was just utter nonsense, and unsubstantiated hogwash. And every once in a while Isabel would chime in: "It's ok, I understand where she is coming from because I used to believe the same thing", but then add to the “how can you be so unkind?” talk directed at me while all of the others were saying how loving and patient and humble she truly is, and therefore let's all just sing praises to Isabel our Queen of goodness and light! Well, ok, they didn't say that last part, I just threw that one in, but they might as well have, they came awfully close! And then I remembered that I once practically revered her in that way myself.

I found myself getting frustrated in trying to reach out to her; it wasn't being done in love. It had become an obsession. I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. That was my rallying cry. It was my duty come hell or high water. I was going to do it...I....I....I......
can't. 


Trying to answer all of the arguments:

Does it really help anyone?




A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject
Titus 3:10(KJV)

First off, I need to say that I know I cannot answer all of the arguments, and understand that it is complete foolishness to even try. I do not have all the answers. I answer as much as I find the Lord gives me to say. Often people (even Christians) accuse me of saying too much. Probably true, but I'd rather err on the side of saying too much than saying too little...not trying hard enough.

There are good reasons for hanging in there and refuting silly things that are said albeit over and over again. The main reason that jells with me is that there might be those on the fence who might come to a better understanding of what is going on with the battle that is still raging on in the spirit world for their souls. Added to the aforementioned paradoxes, another paradox is that the battle has been won by Jesus AND the battle still is ongoing even now. So what do I do with that? Rest in Jesus....AND the Bible says to contend for the faith. That word contend means to fight.

How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time,
who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
These be they who separate themselves,
sensual,
having not the Spirit.
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith,
praying in the Holy Ghost,
Keep yourselves in the love of God,
looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ
unto eternal life.
And of some have compassion, making a difference:
And others save with fear,
pulling them out of the fire;
hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Jude 1:18-23 (KJV)

       Is there even a remote possibility that I can pull someone away from that coming fire, the fire which rages on eternally and from which no one will ever escape? If there is a chance, shouldn't I attempt it even at my own peril? If there is that slight chance it would only be through the power that is given by the Holy Spirit of God Himself. I would be remiss to ignore such a responsibility. That was and is my dilemma.

       When do I know it is the Lord telling me to: “Let it go”? I asked and continue to ask for wisdom regarding this because it is beyond me to know what I am to say in answer to the raging of lunatics and heretics; when is it indeed profitable to answer that which has an appearance of being a waste of my time? I think the answer lies in what it is I think I can accomplish with my dialogues. Is it to bring myself satisfaction and glory in winning an argument? Or is it for God to do as He wills with the situation even when the conversation goes bad and I am made the fool; to respect and accept come what may?

       From scripture we know that Jesus told the disciples to leave when they “do not receive you”. They were told to shake the dust off their feet as a testimony against them. At that time I did not yet sense that she “did not receive” me, so I pushed the envelope and asked her outright “do you want that I not comment here anymore...? Do I need to shake the dust off my feet and move on”? She had answered that it was okay for me to visit her blog and to comment, but to be more respectful towards her in my comments. Her exact words to me:

     “I'm not looking to be reconverted...nothing you can say is going to put a spin on this that I haven't already thoroughly examined....I do not believe it is true. I have my reasons, my wrestlings, my emotional gut wrenching struggles and praying and pleading with God. You've insulted me time and again by saying all that wasn't good enough...I followed the evidence (what evidence? I wondered) and found out that I had spent 20 years chasing a fairytale...”

and another:

     “Your tone comes across as condescending and unloving whether you mean it to be or not.” There is no “tone” to writing comments on a blog so I have no idea (maybe she wants only full agreement with everything she says and wants me to say how awesome she is?) what she is talking about. My desire is to see her truly saved. I cannot conceive of anything more loving than that. Having a bunch of parrots agreeing with you and sending you happily and congenially straight to hell is not my idea of “loving”.

       I think those comments would have been enough to send most people packing and shaking the dust off... and yet I still wasn't sure, until she made a post about how ridiculous the Bible, Christianity, and the church/Christians are and finalized it with these words separated by themselves with their own paragraph so they would stand out on her blog post:

     “I'm done with it”

      Now it felt final.
      The end.

      Does shaking the dust off my feet mean kicking dust in her face? No. It just means to not carry the dirt of that mess, what collected on my feet while dealing with those hateful to God and the Bible comments. It means to let it go, be at peace...I did my best and the Lord may still use it to save her, or not, His decision in His time by His power, not mine.

      She is still alive on this planet, she still has that chance. I do not know what the Lord has in store for her. 
      
      I do know what He has planned for those who love Him and obey Him, and I do hope she will one day see the truth and reality of that before her time here is up.

       Why am I writing about this? Why continue to dwell on it when Jesus said “shake the dust off”? Because....well I'll try to answer that in the next chapter.


If it is going to happen it will be because God will make it so. If it was something I did or said, focusing on me here, it isn't the Holy Spirit doing it.


But wasn't there something I could do? Besides just pray that is?
I was wrestling with that very question when Isabel said to me:
 “If you are praying for me doesn't that mean God isn't answering your prayer?”

I felt as though I were trying to reason with the devil himself; such brazen hateful venomous “logic” came at me which seethed and seared and touched the very points at the very heart of my relationship I have with Christ through prayer.

How do I answer that? I don't.


Handling a loss:

Making peace with what is instead of what I want it to be...


I wrestle with the fact that I have a difficult time letting go of things that need letting go of. I don't mean to be disobedient. So you might wonder if I'm making excuses for this my disobedience in not strictly following Jesus' wise counsel when He said to shake the dust off and move on. I know that I fall short of perfection not just in this matter but in many other matters as well, and even when I do fall short I rest on the promise that God can take my imperfections and still make something perfect out of it. Romans 8:28 is my anchor; 

ALL THINGS work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

That is so wonderful to me. His wise words given to us is to help us to walk unhindered, to live the blessed and full life enriched with all of God's goodness, and also to keep from hurting each other as well. If I hang on to what hinders me in my walk with Jesus so that I rob myself of some of the blessed joy in life, then I hurt myself. Even that can work towards good in my life when it all is in God's hands. The difficulties I face cause me to seek His face all-the-more earnestly, so whether in bounty or in poverty these all bring me closer to the Lord; in bounty by rejoicing in Him and in poverty by beseeching His mercy and grace.

This thing that happened between myself and Isabel was shocking and life-changing for me. 
Am I overstating this? 
Am I being overly dramatic? 
There is no greater loss than the forever kind when satan steals someone away from you to be forever in darkness, forever in hell. However nothing is lost that God doesn't know or care about. But I see our lost friendship like one sees a death, this death is worse than a mere ending of a mortal life; it is an eternal separation. It is the worst thing in the whole world that can ever happen to anyone's friend. It caused such a profound change in how I think and feel because I was brought to my most extreme end of what I wanted to endure. The pain went deeper so also did my relationship with Christ deepen... and yet the birds still chirp just the same and the sun rises and sets the same as always. 
Nothing changes... 
nothing has changed...
or has it?

The realm of the spirit is just as real as the world that we can see with our eyes. We who are born of the Spirit see that spiritual realm with the eyes of faith. When Jesus enters in, our eyes open to understanding something behind or within or between the lines of what our physical eyes can see. In this world people die a temporary death of a temporary life. In that physically unseen world people are dying eternal deaths for their eternal lives. In that world of the spirit there are evil spirits that are consuming those who are not covered by the blood of the Lamb. They seem happy and look just the same on the outside as you and me. On the inside they are as ravenous wolves looking to destroy others just as they themselves are destroyed on the inside. 

They are evangelizing people to come to the darkness. 
They say 
“Come on in, the water is a little polluted, but it's comfortable here, join us...we don't bite, listen to what we say and why we believe the way that we do. God is a liar, but we will tell you the real truth.” 

Their sting is in their “sweet words of denial”, a sting which deadens on the inside while the outer man seems just fine. Being an enemy of Christ she not only is dead to me, sadly she is my enemy as well...

Luke_6:35 (KJV)But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again...

counterbalanced with:





Enter ye in
at the strait gate:
for wide is the gate,
and
broad is the way,
that leadeth to destruction,
and many
there be
which go in thereat:
because strait is the gate,
and
narrow is the way,
which leadeth unto life,
and few
there be
that find it.
Beware
of false prophets,
which come to you
in sheep's clothing,
but inwardly
they are
ravening wolves.
Ye shall know them
by their fruits.
Do men gather grapes of thorns,
or
figs of thistles?
Even so
every good tree
bringeth forth good fruit;
but a corrupt tree
bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit,
neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down,
and
cast
into
the fire.
Wherefore
by their fruits
ye shall know
them.

Matthew 7:13-20



Treading carefully and prayerfully is therefore a requirement especially when we encounter our enemies.

All who truly come to Him and are converted by the power of His might (not the power of positive thinking, or the power of ourselves doing anything) and are cleansed through the power of His blood and established by His might through His Spirit and the work of His Son. They will never be drawn away by the deceptions of the devil and this world. When the chaff falls away and exposes the true wheat it will be a day of mourning when we see friends and family being drawn away by THE ENEMY of our souls, but God promised our mourning will be turned into rejoicing. His power and goodness is everlasting. Our own power and goodness separate from Him is shallow and passing away and temporary.

I pray that we will stand strong through the turbulent times that are still ahead. May our candles never burn out. I pray that the light our Lord gives to us will lend light in the coming storm, to guide souls that are searching their way through the present darkness which still envelops this world, even pulling some from the very flames (Jude 1:23) as the Lord gives strength. And let us not give up too soon in our desire to shake the dust off.

Prayer:

Is it necessary?


It disturbed me greatly when Isabel asked me whether God intended to answer my prayer regarding her unfaithfulness which implied if He did not answer it to my way of asking for her salvation God would be unfaithful to me. That insinuation by her also touched an area of conflict within myself which I had to bring before the Lord for Him to lend His greater light upon it. 

This matter caused me trouble and had also previously presented itself  to me from another angle with these words:  

“God already has the outcome as it stands, there is no need to discuss it further with Him, He knows what He is doing better than we do so why show lack of faith in Him by praying when nothing needs to be said?”

So then why pray?

I confess that often I pray as a last resort. 
When all else fails: Pray. 

It seems that this is a natural tendency, and perhaps it is backwards from how it should be. Shouldn't we pray BEFORE we take on any undertaking, large or small? Praying words by rote, mindlessly saying the same things over and over just to do it and get it out of the way and consider ourselves obedient, is the wrong approach. But isn't THAT better than not praying at all? Sigh. Is it? God has some things to say about the Israelites mouths going up to Him in prayer and yet their hearts were far from Him(Isaiah 29:13 Matthew 15:8). 

Yes, so then why pray?

We see examples for the need for prayer in the gospels. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray He gave them (and us as well) the Lord's prayer. In Luke's account of that it is recorded that Jesus then gives the example of someone going to his friend's home at midnight to implore him for some bread to share with someone who visits unexpectedly, and that even a mortal human friend will give him what he wants even if it is just to get rid of him (see Luke chapter 11). Jesus tells his disciples: “If you then who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” Luke 11:13. There's the answer. The receiving of the Holy Spirit is the most important of what God gives to us. Everything in this earthly life is temporary, but the things of the Spirit are forever.

What then about asking for others to be saved and for others to receive the Holy Spirit just as the neighbor asked for bread for an unexpected guest in Luke chapter 11? Does God always answer “yes” to that request? I don't know the answer to that question. 

You might now think: 
“Aha! That's why it is all a big waste of everyone's time!”

 Not so fast. I do know that He WILL ANSWER, and His answer will be the correct answer whatever the question is. When Jesus' disciples were unable to cast out an evil spirit He told them it was because of the disciples unbelief. He then added that “this kind” doesn't go out except by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:15-21).

I would say that our prayers on behalf of the lost is very important. But are these people lost or are they the chaff that will burn forever? There are some that the Lord tells us to not pray for. (1 John 5:14-18; Jeremiah 7:16; Jeremiah 11:14; Jeremiah 14:11) and this aspect of it requires further prayer and study, there is much more wrestling ahead.

When in doubt we ought to pray about it and the Lord will certainly answer, and even when the answer is not how we want it answered, it always will be answered in the appropriate way that it should be answered. We can trust that to be trustworthy.


 Seek and ye shall find:

Does the evidence point to atheism?




Just one of the many irritating things that were said by Isabel as she continued to try to justify her rejection of God was that her searching pointed to the evidence that the Bible is wrong and unsubstantiated and that science is more reliable. She maintained that anyone who believes in the God of the Bible has to deliberately make themselves blind and/or stupid because a thinking person who looks for truth cannot honestly believe the Bible. Talk about the arrogance that mocks God. And while she mocks God she simultaneously slanders and spits on those of us who know the Truth which has set us free. 

I trust that the Lord will one day expose the truth about these slanderers and will right the wrongs, and yet I do not believe we are to just allow people to attack the truth in this way. In order to be Christlike must we roll over and play dead in answer to such evil words? Many Christians actually do think we are to let it go, to let these people say whatever they want without answering back and without giving a reason of why we believe what we believe. Maybe this comes from a misunderstanding of what many Christians believe about being meek, something I'll talk more about later.



Jesus said “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7 KJV) . How can someone like Isabel claim to have truly believed in Jesus and then later announce that their seeking led them away from Jesus and the Bible? Can that possibly be true just because they state it to be so? I'm not asking whether they believe it to be so because they really seem to believe what they saying to be the truth...but is it really the truth?



What is the evidence they talk about? There is plenty of evidence to corroborate that the Bible is accurate aside from the slight spelling variations and seeming discrepancies with what was not included in one manuscript over another, etc., and there is much that can be found in research done on these textual problems and there are sound answers that prove the integrity of the Bible. Archeological evidence has also done nothing but support the truth and trustworthiness of the Biblical accounts of the history before Christ (Old Testament), and also during and just after the time of Christ (New Testament). We have books from authors such as Josh McDowell in “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” and C.S. Lewis' “Mere Christianity” to provide sound reasonings that remove doubts we might have in a Creator and Redeemer. We have websites like Answers in Genesis that explore the atheistic scientists reasons for their belief in evolution over creation, revealing the many holes in their theories and assertions. And we have God Himself who promises to show us the things that He gives us in His word are true if we wait for Him to do so in His time. Honestly, a person that is truly seeking Him won't be led away from Him. The truth leads straight to Him, not away. So where is this evidence which they speak of? Where are they finding their “truth” if not from the source of Truth?



Another proof which reveals the truth of the Bible is the fact that those who say they do not believe in the Bible or the God of the Bible still hold to some level of the morality which originated from the God of the Bible. They will of course deny it, until you try to steal from them or deny them their “eye for an eye” justice as given in the Old Testament. This Old Testament type of morality has no basis for holding to it at all if there is no Originator for such morality and justice. When you remove the Law Giver, you remove the need for observing any law. Yet atheists will brush away the evidence for their hypocrisy and their lack of logic. 

Their supposed search for evidence fails their own tests of logic, so where is their evidence?
 Is it in the reasonings of atheistic scientists, God haters, mockers, blasphemers, and those enamoured with their own superior wisdom and logic as the final basis for final authority? 
Where do they seek for wisdom? 
Can it be that it is from the pit of hell itself? 
Is that where real wisdom is found?




Salvation:

How Can We Be Sure?




So far I've brought up why I believe Isabel and others like her never really were saved. That brings up the question “What then does it mean to be saved, and how can I be sure that I am truly saved?”



The Bible warns us that even the devils believe and tremble with fear, so if devils believe and are not saved what is missing? Doesn't the Bible say to believe on the name of Jesus to be saved (Romans 10:9)? Then how can it be possible to have a belief in Jesus which doesn't result in salvation?



But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Hebrews 3:6 (ESV)



Ultimately the proof is in the pudding, as they say. How can we hold fast if not through the power of the Holy Spirit? 

There is an active relational as well as positional union with God for those who are truly born again. That union sees us through the good times and especially the bad times. Our confidence in Jesus gets tested and is put through the fires of adversity and only those that can maintain that relationship through thick and thin are those who are truly saved, and that is only through the power of God, not by our mortal power to hold on. It is our lack of power that rests on what He has done and which gives glory to God for pulling us through the worst of trials. In that sense the trials are actually blessings in disguise because through them the Lord brings us unto Himself as we stop our own efforts regarding our faith and works by the laying down of the flesh, and in the process also learning to rest in His power. It's the opposite of our works, it is His work at work in us.



Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.

2 Corinthians 13:3-6 (ESV)



That is a difficult passage to understand, however the exhortation to examine ourselves does give us indication that we are somehow to be aware of the situation we are in regarding our relationship to Christ. It is a relationship that submits our weakness to His power. That portion of being reprobates is what makes this so tricky because it is saying that either Christ truly is in us or we are reprobates and that it is something we can know by searching it out.



Regarding this passage this is what Matthew Henry stated:



We should examine whether we be in the faith, because it is a matter in which we may be easily deceived, and wherein a deceit is highly dangerous: we are therefore concerned to prove our own selves, to put the question to our own souls, whether Christ be in us, or not; and Christ is in us, except we be reprobates: so that either we are true Christians or we are great cheats; and what a reproachful thing is it for a man not to know himself, not to know his own mind!



And from John Gill:



ye are reprobates; meaning not that they were so, as such may stand opposed to the elect of God; for persons may as yet neither be in the faith, nor Christ in them, and yet both be hereafter, and so not be left of God, or consigned to destruction; but that if they were not in the doctrine of, faith, then they were reprobate concerning it, or void of judgment in it; and if they had not the grace of faith, and Christ was not in them, then they were not genuine, but nominal professors, like "reprobate silver", counterfeit coin; which when detected, would be "disapproved", not only by God, but man, as this word also signifies, and so stands opposed to them that are "approved", 2Co_13:7 or if they did not make such an examination, probation, and recognition of themselves, they would be without probation: or as the Arabic version, without experiment. The apostle hereby brings them into this dilemma, either that if upon examination they were found to be in the faith, and Christ in them, which blessings they enjoyed through his ministry, then they did not want a proof of Christ speaking in him; but if these things did not appear in them, then they were persons of no judgment in spiritual things, were not real Christians, but insignificant and useless persons.





Therefore it boils down to where and who we are placing our trust on/in and where our strength is coming from. We can believe that Jesus really is the Messiah and still be unsaved if we are still trusting only in our own ability to be good enough to be savable and to make it through the rough patches and severe periods of doubt which will surely be encountered. 

Are we truly plugged in to the Power Source or are we puffing ourselves up to give the appearance of being plugged into the true Source of that power? 

If it is our own power it is nothing, it is reprobate and worthless and temporary ... a fake and empty religiousness that might help us keep afloat for a while but will fail us in the rougher seas we will eventually experience. If it isn't His power IT WILL RUN OUT no doubt about that. Salvation is something that happens on a very personal level between only yourself and Jesus, no one else. When we submit truly it is through His power at work in us or else it hasn't happened. It is something to be sought and prayed for in earnest, and then waited for until He does enter in to that union with us in His time. When He does enter into a union with us and regenerates us and infuses us with the Holy Spirit, it is His power that increases in us as our own power decreases as was so with John the Baptist. When John the Baptist was near death and came to doubt whether Jesus really was THE CHRIST John sought out Jesus to reaffirm that He truly is that CHRIST. He didn't seek out others who have doubts to find out if his doubts were justified. He sought out Jesus Himself and Jesus confirmed that He truly is THE ONE whom the prophets had foretold of in their scriptures.



Jesus knows who are His and who are just following along while it seems to be a popular thing to do, and to be part of a moral majority:



But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time


many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.



Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him,



Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.



John 6:64-68 (ESV)



Jesus had previously told Peter that such knowledge can only come from God Himself. We have to submit and trust that knowledge to be true and from Him. That trust again comes from Him as we put down our flesh and look to Him. Preaching and the Bible are avenues the Lord has given as ways to come to that point where we either receive Him or reject Him, and the choice is ours AND His. If it were only our decision it is not enough to save us. It is His choosing us that matters in this relationship, and He has chosen His own from the beginning of time not by our decision and works. He chooses whomever He chooses, and it is truly undeserved to be found in Him and a matter of rejoicing and something for which to be extremely grateful. It is a mystery (and I would be remiss not to include that it is the grandest of miracles).



When doubts and fears come which challenge our faith the Holy Spirit of God has us acknowledge with Peter:



Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou has the words of eternal life.”


 The Second Coming of Jesus:

Did that prophecy fail for the New Testament Church?


“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Peter 4:7)

Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24–25)

“Yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37)

“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18)

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” (Revelation 1:1)

From the above verses (and others) we can see that the New Testament believers in Jesus trusted that the Day of Jesus return was in their lifetime, during their generation. Today, several generations later, we still await the return of the Lord. 

Were those first century believers in Jesus deceived? 
Were the apostles wrong? 
Did Jesus lie to them? 

That is what Isabel and many others like her (the “experts” that she sought for wisdom amongst them) believe. There was a time in my life when I would have agreed that this “new wisdom” is compelling evidence of fraud. Thankfully the Lord has seen me through many trials and spiritual struggles which brought me to faith in Him. He saved me when I was unable to save myself. He saved me from myself. So let's explore this “wisdom” which is earthly with the wisdom that comes from the mind of Christ.

First we need to confess that we only know in part and see things as though we were seeing through a dark glass the shadows of things to come. The Lord only gives us little bits at a time, enough for the day, and only He knows exactly what tomorrow holds for each one of us. That is something to be thankful for because we in our weak mortal state wouldn't be able to stand more than that. Sometimes I get confused trying to think more than three steps ahead of me. I make plans, write them down, try to follow them in order, and still life has it's own way. Often my to do lists have to follow the order in which my life directs me to go, the way Jesus orders it for me. That is something to keep in mind when we approach the scriptures as well.

Jesus is God in past, present and future. He is the One who was, and is, and is to come. Something that we see in the Bible over and over again is that prophecy doesn't work statically for one particular time. We in our own lifetimes see the circular patterns of things that occur. We ourselves know of the saying that “what we don't learn from history we are doomed to repeat”. The book of Ecclesiastes says that nothing is new under the sun so then everything that happens has already happened before. We also see this with the prophecies of the Bible. The prophecies of the Bible have layers of fulfillment. I see this as also being true of the second coming.

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1Thessalonians 4:15-17)

That word “prevent” when looked up in Strong's Concordance is said to also mean “precede”. The dead shall rise first. The early church New Testament believers who passed away before the return of the Lord Jesus will be raised and see the coming of the Lord at the same time as any who are still alive at that time. The moment we pass on from this mortal life we pass out of time. Time only has meaning to us while we are confined to time and while we are mortal. Once we are immortal time has no meaning. At the moment of death, the very next instant will be the moment in our physical and immortal body we see Jesus return in all power and glory to restore heaven and earth to it's correct and formerly good status. All the former things, the ugliness, the violence, the rage against God and His ministers will be wiped away completely and forever. The saints that went before will not be disappointed from having missed the second coming at all. They will see it just as if it occurred at the moment of the ending of their mortal life. Their spirits are kept by Jesus *during this time * to be reunited with their bodies at the time of His returning, and He is not slack, just as Lazarus' sisters found out (John chapter 11), Jesus is always on time even when it has the appearance to us that He is late.

(* This of course is how I read this to be, you might have other ideas regarding these things, the Lord will reveal the truth in His time. I believe that “sleep” of death is the best way to describe the holding pattern that those who have died are in, and it is only that it appears that way to us who still experience time the way that we do. Once we die we too will be changed in the twinkling of an eye; the next moment we will have passed from life of mortality to life everlasting and in immortal bodies)


But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers (Luke 12:45-46)

The coming of the Lord will come at a time as we think not. We who have the mind of Christ place our trust in Christ. Having the mind of Christ doesn't mean we know everything He knows, but it does mean that we know the things that He desires us to know, and we trust Him for everything. It means that we desire the things that pleases Jesus and look forward to the promises knowing they will be fulfilled just as He promised, in His perfect time because He is perfect. If we doubt Him it is because we unlike Him are not perfect. If we look to Him for the answers, we can read His word and understand His will toward us, trusting that all will be done according to His will and His word. This requires patience and trust.


For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition;
but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:37-39)

At one time (especially when I first believed in Jesus in the late 80's and through the 90's) I truly believed Jesus would return in my lifetime. I still think that is possible, however whether He does or not come before my mortal life ends I know that at the moment of the end of my mortality I will see Jesus come in full power and glory with millions of His holy angels to return for His saints, and the dead will rise together with those who will still be alive to meet Him and be like He is, immortal and holy forever.




...for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first


Mourning a death:

 Time to move on.




I hoped through writing about these things to share something that touched me and hurt me. I hoped that thereby perhaps I might help others. This story will happen again and again to many and I hope I might help with the facts of coming to grips as this phenomenon unfolds. I believe this is only the start of what the Bible calls “the falling away” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) or “apostazia”. Many will fall away. I believe it will be like an avalanche of falling away before it is done. The remnant which will be left will feel the pain of seeing their friends and loved ones giving themselves over to the enemy of their souls. Worse than that, they will see them turn against their loved ones and say hateful things to these relations who are in Christ and say terrible and hateful things about God. When it comes time to turn in Christians to the authorities, these will turn in their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends, etc.



My hope is that my musings on this situation might help some to prepare and be in prayer for their friends and loved ones and also that they themselves will not be swept up together with this tidal wave of horrible deception and spiritual defection that is coming, and is already here.. 


Meekness is a stance in Christ which has been misunderstood and I believe is the main reason many Christians do not passionately strive to seek those who are lost. I too once thought that the work meek was equivalent to doormat. That is not what the original Greek word that it was translated from means. That word actually was translated from a word that meant "strength under control" and was used to describe the war horses of New Testament times. Think of the words "strong as a lion yet gentle as a lamb" and you get an inkling of what this word means.If the Lord puts it on our hearts to reach out to others with the truth even though it brings hardship, ridicule, and even death, let us do so with grace, humility, and meekness.




The reason I chose the name Isabel for this story is because it is a name that sounds somewhat exotic and seductive. Bel is the last syllable, bel is a derivative of the name Baal which is the demonic god of Biblical times, a powerful deception and a terrible counterfeit of the real God of Israel. It is a bit of a play on words: “Is a Baal” as a warning of what the spiritual condition is, self worship is Baal worship. There really are only two camps in this world even though it appears that there are many. There are the true followers of Christ to the putting down of the self and the flesh, and there is everyone else. Jesus said you are either for me or against me. There isn't any in between, there is no half-way or on the fence. You can call yourself a Buddhist, a Mormon, an atheist, a wizard, a witch, or a pagan. You can call yourself anything you want but if you are against the God of the Bible you are in that other camp all lumped together with those who will go through that wide gate.



I am reminded of a few people recorded in scripture: Abraham (who was Abram) and Paul (who was Saul)  who had their names changed because their walk with God brought them to a different place reflected in the changing of their names. I hope and pray this for Isabel as well, if it is the Lord's will, His will be done, and then perhaps we will meet in heaven, all will be forgiven and then forgotten... however the probability is that she along with many others will go to the place of eternal torment and punishment, the place that we all deserve to go to but by the grace of God are kept from if we truly surrender to His grace and are fully submitted to His will.



Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish;



because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.



And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:



That they all might be damned who believed not the truth,



but had pleasure in unrighteousness.



But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.



Therefore, brethren,

stand fast,



and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.



Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself,

and God, even our Father,

which hath loved us,

and hath given us

everlasting consolation

and

good hope through grace,

Comfort your hearts,

and stablish you

in every good word 
and work.



(2 Thessalonians 2:3-17 KJV)



The image below is similar to the one I had seen on tracks before I was saved. I knew this was true of our spiritual conditions (however "carnal man" and "natural man" I see as the same thing, although on this site they give it to be possible to be saved and still not have Christ on your throne of your life--I disagree).

 The Lord in His graciousness brought me to a place where He is on the throne in my life.


Thank you Jesus :)
We would all be lost if not for You




1 comment:


Please be as gracious as you would like others to be to you. Thank you :)


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