Richard T. Ritenbaugh: The news this morning is that today is Graduation Day at Virginia Tech, and the reporters covering the story are probing just how different this day will be from other commencement exercises in years past. ...
Pope Benedict XVI's statement regarding the historic Islamic practice of conversion at the edge of a sword ironically drew swift and violent reaction from the Muslim world. Knowing that the Vatican has a practiced hand in international relations, Richard Ritenbaugh wonders what the Pope's motives were in making such an obviously inflammatory comment.
John Ritenbaugh, citing Samuel Blumenfeld's and Alex Newman's book Crimes of the Educators, a book which takes educator-philosopher to task for systematically dumbing down American education, transforming this nation's values and its system of government, criticizes these educator-philosophers for replacing God-centered ideals with 'progressive,' anti-God, secular humanist, socialistic values. The centers of American Higher education, Harvard and Yale, originally established as Puritan and Congregationalist theological seminaries, have become incubators of virulent atheism. Likewise the venerable European universities, originally established as extensions of the Roman Catholic Church, became more focused on controlling, promoting and extending government through the establishment of the 'holy' Roman Empire rather than promoting faith. Indeed, apostate educator philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas sought to bifurcate human reason from the protection of God's superior knowledge, compartmentalizing and isolating secular from sacred knowledge.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: As spring turns toward summer and the fall elections march ever nearer, winds of change are blowing across this nation, auguring a critical moment in American history. ...
The Europe of the past few decades has honestly earned the label of "that vast plain of irreligion." What caused its secularization? David Grabbe shows that religion is to blame.
'Tis the season of much debate and social strife between the Right and the Left over a perennial topic, the separation of church and state. ...
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: Church of the Great God is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and as such, it is considered to be located in America's Bible Belt. ...
John Ritenbaugh, acknowledging that America is a politically and culturally divided nation, expresses concern that those who really care about what is happening to this country are too few to make any difference, and the gullible youth from college down to Kindergarten have been schooled for decades on the poisonous 'progressive,' humanist secular education which has expunged any knowledge of God from their consciousness. Satan has planned this subversion for centuries, influencing the thoughts of philosophers who have left their imprint in education. Even the Ivy League schools (Harvard, Princeton, and Yale) ostensibly started as Puritan theological schools, abandoned their religious moorings soon after their founding. For those of us alive in these years, we must have God in our focus before we can perceive what is going on. The rest of the populace is floundering because clearly neither God nor His laws are in their minds. God's called-out ones have a mandate to know what is going on in society and how it relates to the future.
Our age is more technologically advanced than any that man has previously known. ...
David C. Grabbe: It is almost tangible—the feeling that a hammer-blow is about to fall. It is reinforced constantly—by news reports, images from the media, and direct personal experience—that the nation is coming apart at the seams and lurching wildly out of control. ...
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: As I drove home from work the other evening, I listened to the local talk-radio station, WBT. ...
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the cumulative effects of Satan's long-term miseducation project, affirms that humanism is a powerful, fully functioning religion, responsible for the 'normalization' of abortion and other perversions, and a white-hot hostility to God and His sovereignty. Advances in technology, such as the Gutenberg press in 1439 to the internet in 1969, have been mixed blessings and curses, used for both good and evil. Gutenberg's press, instrumental in augmenting the impact of the Protestant Reformation, made the mass, ubiquitous distribution of the Bible possible throughout the entire world. The 17th century could be said to be the fountainhead of exponential communication progress, turning the oppressive ecclesiastical and the stultifying feudal world upside down, leading to the immigration of the Israelitish peoples to the western hemisphere, often in an effort to safeguard a base for religious liberty. At the same time, Satan, aware of his limited time to destroy, has been using the same advances in technology, advancing his agenda to neutralize religious liberty, replacing it with a so-called progressive, humanistic agenda attempting to destroy God's sovereignty and marginalize or destroy God's called-out ones.
John Ritenbaugh, observing that secularism (a belief that morality should be based solely on the collective mores of mankind, and that religion should never enter into state or public education) has effectively eclipsed the influence of nominal Christianity in the western world, asserts that this unsettling state of affairs has been the result of deliberate planning by Satan's human henchmen over the last 600 years, bringing the world full circle to the condition of the world when Nephilim negatively influenced the world's culture. Just as Noah's cultural milieu was saturated by Nephilim, our culture has been saturated with the torrent of words emanating from the pens of Nietzsche in Germany, John Stewart Mill in England, and John Dewey in the United States, all rabid anti-God secularists, believing that mankind's entire life is bound within the present time, with no time devoted to anything beyond death. These influential Nephilim, consisting of presidents, prime ministers, authors, and teachers have purposefully sabotaged and destroyed all vestiges of religious power and influence, replacing it with secular, 'progressive' humanism, setting themselves up as sole arbiters of the proper conduct for mankind, defying the Sovereign God of the Universe.
John W. Ritenbaugh: The pages of history are amply sprinkled with records of clashes between church and state over who should bear the greater authority in the land. ...
Many of the problems of present-day Europe have their source in the governments' tolerant, multicultural policies regarding immigration. David Grabbe, seeing parallels between immigration and a Christian's entry into God's Kingdom, shows that, unlike Europe, God ensures that all His potential citizens will conform to His culture.
John Ritenbaugh, comparing human behavior in the wake of natural disasters, such as tornadoes and hurricanes, to unnatural disasters, such as bombs and military attacks, suggests that in the latter devastations people become dispirited, listless, as though they had lost their reason for living. Sadly, what has happened to our socio-cultural milieu in the past 70 years has been a systematic undermining of morality, and a bizarre redefinition by leftist, progressive social engineers as to what constitutes normal and as to what constitutes abnormal. In this nation five unelected judges, three of them bitter feminist women, have, at least in their woefully deficient, reprobate minds, nullified or abrogated God's Edenic Covenant with mankind, which established marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Earlier these reprobate justices rejected God's prohibition on murder, allowing abortion of millions of unborn children These amoral, secular, 'progressive' humanists have made themselves total arbiters of morality, pushing a hopelessly twisted form of pragmatism, thinking they have no accountability beyond this current life. We cannot expect the current compromised, corrupted aggregate of pandering elected politicians to be in sync with God. What the secular, 'progressive' humanists have not factored into their equation is that God is still alive, and that there are consequences for what they and we have done. God Almighty, not the United States Supreme Court, will have the final say in this matter.
David C. Grabbe: Hardly a day goes by without a major newspaper or newswire keeping us up-to-date on the latest dirt in the "Catholic clergy abuse scandal." With such media saturation it is easy to see why the general populace has such a negative opinion of Catholic priests. Through thick and thin, the media hangs on, determined to bring every gory detail to the fore. It is time we stopped to consider why, and take a look at some of the statistics surrounding this issue. ...
Charles Whitaker: Three isms lie behind current American domestic and foreign policy: globalism, secularism, and cosmopolitanism. ...
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on a number of articles describing the state of religion or spirituality in America, suggests that while more people consider themselves religious, they are increasingly less sure about what they really believe and more tolerant of other beliefs. Political correctness has diluted the power of the dominant culture in terms of resisting abortion, homosexuality, and same sex marriage. We cannot expect any moral leadership from Washington D.C. We are going to find it increasingly difficult to resist the malignancy of immorality in our culture.
David C. Grabbe: For decades now, the debate over the place of Christianity—and specifically the Bible—in public life has raged without any sign of abating. ...
John Ritenbaugh, ruminating on George Friedman's speculations on President Erdogan's campaign and Turkey's future role in world affairs, suggests that we may have to make a major change in perception on how we have heretofore sized up prophetic events. The real struggle on the world stage for millennia has been the competition for dominance between the secular and the religious forces, with the secular forces generally winning control, bifurcating private and public sections of society, at least in European and Israelitish cultures. Modern Turkey, committed to secularism since the days of Mustafa Atatürk, has been battling the rabid fundamentalist Islam forces along with Iran and Syria. Erdogan, realizing that Turkey has been moving toward an internal explosion between secularism and religion, has campaigned for increasing powers of the president to put down religious Islamic fundamentalism by military force. Wherever secularism has gained ascendancy in the world, it has not maintained neutrality between the private and the public, but has attempted to bully and harass the religious elements of society by the tyranny of political correctness—something both America and Europe have experienced over the past few decades. Instead of championing tolerance, secularism, with its militant and pathogenic political correctness, has promoted a more dangerous intolerance than the very worst aspects of the Inquisition. The whole world is writhing as the evil thought-police enforce their brutality with political and military might.
Recently, analysts have been ready to file the European Union's obituary, as Europe's demographics, Constitution, and economy have languished. What does this mean in terms of Bible prophecy, particularly the rise of the Beast power?
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: As a child in the early 1970s, I remember sitting in the middle of the backseat of the family car, unbuckled and leaning forward over the front seat so I could see out the windshield. ...
John Ritenbaugh, focusing upon the scattering of the greater church of God, examines this event within the context of a larger global disintegration of religious influence. The moral agenda of this country and others is set by non-religious organizations and groups. The disintegration of the Catholic Church (described by Malachi Martin) and the disintegration of the greater church of God (the systematic destruction of its uniqueness and vision) have eerie parallels. The declining vigor and looseness of religious conviction will eventually be pulled together and galvanized by the power of the Beast—the mystery Babylon of the Bible, the Mystery of Iniquity—the real objective of those who would create a new world order. The antidote is to desire the wisdom of God rather than the wisdom of men (I Corinthians 1:26).
John Ritenbaugh, expanding on the consequences of the secular humanists becoming the dominant religion of the land, suggests that the mantra of tolerance expressed by leftist progressives does not reflect real tolerance at all (which is connoted by the terms forbearance and long-suffering), but instead an adamant hatred of anything associated with God and His words. Recent federal judge persecution of small business individuals (bakers, photographers, and farmers) refusing to offer their services to homosexuals, or federal judges forbidding the words "God" or "bless you" in the public school system, while tolerating radical Islam, evolution, and militant environmentalism (pagan earth worship), indicate that the secular humanist leaders, while pretending to teach tolerance, are actually unabashedly promoting hatred for Almighty God and anyone who has the audacity to follow Him. God's way of life clashes with the world because Satan is influencing the minds of the current leaders and the gullible people who follow their lies. As God's called-out ones, we cannot allow our minds to be brainwashed with Satan's religion, progressive secular humanism.
John Ritenbaugh focuses on a deadly enemy within our borders, every bit as dangerous as the radical Islamic fundamentalists from without- an enemy composed of amoral radical agnostic multi-cultural, anti-Christ, anti-God secular humanistic educators in our universities and schools. Political correctness, sponsored largely by the Democrat party and the far left has ushered in deviancy, perversion and shameless self-indulgence in the name of diversity and multi-culturalism. Secularism, founded on the philosophical underpinnings of Rousseau, is, in effect, the official state religion for the majority of our nation. In the multi-cultural agenda, extermination of the white race and culture has top priority. Anyone who objects to this agenda becomes branded a racist, a member of the religious right. The love for truth gives us the only protection from this insidious threat.
Charles Whitaker, focusing on Paul's comments in II Thessalonians 2:6-7, where he speaks of a force capable of restraining the emergence of the man of lawlessness, posits that the Apostle is referring to God's Word. In Proverbs 29:18, we learn that people run wildly out of control in the absence of God's revelation. God's Word is that revelation, and, failing to respect it, law and order fails. Historically, when God's Scriptures are denigrated, people become ungovernable, but when God's Word is esteemed, people are blessed. The original Thirteen Colonies largely crafted their civil laws using God's Law as their template, thereby protecting people from the excesses of unbridled carnality. Sadly, by the 1700s, Americans were drawn into the currents of the Enlightenment, ushering in an "anything goes" mentality which incrementally began to displace the citizen's fear of God. The formerly Puritan theological schools soon because refashioned into secular schools which readily accepted German Higher Criticism and secular European philosophy, denigrating God's Word and eventually effecting its total detachment from public governance. God's Word is the only protection we have against lawlessness. As people lose their respect for His Word, they more and more become easy prey for the flattering lies of the man of lawlessness.
John Ritenbaugh, continuing his exposition of the French philosopher Rousseau, pointed out that he fathered five children, but because of his narcissistic devotion to himself and his precious creature comforts, he abandoned every one of them to orphanages, believing that it was the State's obligation to care for children, not the family's. In his pompous self-centeredness, Rousseau charged that Christians make poor citizens. Those who knew Rousseau intimately claimed that he was a pathetic figure, an arrogant mad man, claiming to be a lover of mankind, but through his practices proving he was a failure as a responsible human being. Even though American educator John Dewey may have referred to Rousseau as the 'greatest genius,'his narcissistic, self-absorbed endorsement of collective welfare practices from cradle to grave, ultimately forcing citizens to be serfs of a welfare state administered by overweening bureaucrats, have hopelessly damaged modern society. Many current politicians and educators, following in Rousseau's drive toward mindless communitarianism, are on a mission to destroy the family, replacing it with a government ("It takes a village") welfare state. The family structure of one ethnic group is largely destroyed, with 70% of the 'families' having no father. Rousseau's disciples, gaining ascendancy in today's political climate, have plans to dismantle the family, replacing it with the State.
The Immigration Reform Act of 1965 opened the floodgates to immigrants from Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Charles Whitaker asserts that, contrary to the liberal secularists intention to marginalize Christianity through it, the Act instead facilitated the rise of a new strain of conservative Christianity in America.
The Republic of Turkey finds itself in the midst of an identity crisis. Its citizens are overwhelmingly of the Islamic faith, but its government since the mid-1920s has been secular. David Grabbe exposes the Gulen Movement, a shadowy Islamic sect and political organization whose aim is to return Turkey to its Islamic roots.
There is no doubt that America's culture is plunging to depths many of us never imagined. To Christians, having to deal with the world is a frightening prospect. Here are five steps we can take to mitigate its influence on our lives.
Though the world's political bodies have agreed that proselytism is a human right, in practice it is a right denigrated and even suppressed in certain regions. Charles Whitaker holds that, though proselytism has a poor reputation now, a time is coming when it will be used properly to bring this world peace and prosperity.
Ron Sellers, a religious trend watcher, sees great instability in world religion, and it is mirrored in God's church. Richard Ritenbaugh shows how this dovetails with Bible prophecy of the end time.
John Ritenbaugh, focusing on Genesis 6:5, prior to the Flood, in which mankind's thoughts and intents were evil continually, warns us that a parallel time is on the horizon for those living today. Like our ancient ancestors, we share a habitation with Satan and his demons, evil beings who have been preparing for our demise for thousands of years. The hideous perversions (such as homosexuality and infanticide) did not arrive on the scene instantaneously, but the demonic world has been working to make them the cultural norm for thousands of years. Demons have fostered to the point of fury the ancient conflict between Ishmael and Isaac, and Jacob and Esau. These spirit beings chose to become demons into order to stop God's purpose. They have succeeded to erase all discussion of God out of the public schools by spreading the humanist agenda previously introduced into the universities by anti-God philosophers such as Marx, Darwin, and Nietzsche. John Dewey promulgated this 'progressive' doctrine into the public schools, where it has spread like leavening, fostering a whole generation of individuals lacking any knowledge of God at all. As God's called-out ones, we have entered (through baptism) the same Covenant God made with our forebears before they entered the Promised Land God has not removed the demonic influence which plagued our forebears, deeming it necessary for our spiritual growth. However, God has given us gifts our forebears never received, such as His Holy Spirit, thereby enabling us to advance in the face of massive enemy fire. We are marching to the beat of a different drummer from the rest of the world.
There can be no doubt that the past five centuries or so have been markedly different from the Medieval and Classical periods of Western history. In fact, so much change has occurred in our modern era that some are positing that, since the Renaissance, a Second Axial Period has been in process. Charles Whitaker highlights many of the profound transformations of thought—and their subsequent repercussions on society.
Though secularists tried to use immigration policy to force Christianity out of the American mainstream, it backfired. Charles Whitaker explains how God has used their scheme to accomplish His own end-time purposes.
Our culture appears to be in steep decline, a fact we can see in the undermining of marriage throughout society. Despite having served mankind well down through the millennia, the institution of marriage is crumbling under a three-pronged attack engineered by Satan the Devil. John Ritenbaugh teaches that marriage is vital to understanding God's purpose and learning to live in harmony with one another.
John W. Ritenbaugh: For the past twenty-five years or so, tolerance has been a powerful theme of secular preachers of political correctness. ...
John Ritenbaugh, focusing on Jesus Christ's prayer that God's called-out ones would be in perfect unity, and that eventually the entire population of the world will be united, posits that the secularist demand for diversity is intrinsically opposed to unity. Acceptance of the cult of diversity has created more conflicts, hatred, and crimes than any other idea promoted by secularists. These anti-God elites, who perceive the heartland conservatives as deplorable, are the children of Satan, who also considers God-fearing people to be deplorable. As one-third of the angels chose the wrong leadership, members of the deep-state has also chosen the wrong leadership, a choice leading to the destruction of America as a sovereign nation. God is orchestrating the influx of migrants because of modern Israel's idolatry and lawlessness. Secularists, denying the exceptionalism of America, seek to destroy her superior culture in every way possible, opting instead to lead the nation into a decadent, mediocre, and insipid "world culture" with values far inferior to the historically God-inspired standards of America.
Martin Collins, observing that President Obama's speech immediately following a prior address by Pope Francis to the United Nations, occurring simultaneously on the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles, was perhaps the keynote speech of a sinister new world order (a Satanic counterfeit of God's coming Kingdom) in which the sovereignty and liberties of individual nations would be extirpated, replaced by a greatly strengthened United Nations committed to climate change legislation and a Marxist-style redistribution of wealth. In this emerging toxic socio-cultural milieu, God's called-out ones have been warned not to be conformed to the world, but to become transformed into the glorious likeness of Christ. The world view of God's church and the world's view are antagonistic toward each other. The secularist progressive humanist proponents are highly narcissistic, placing human pride and achievement over God's sovereignty, introducing relativism, a philosophical belief that all truth and standards of morality are relative. The consequences of the humanistic mindset (the mindset of the prince of the power of the air) has enervated and sickened the helpless inhabitants of the earth, subjecting them to war, degenerative diseases, and an insane reprobate mind. The entire creation groans for the Millennial Harvest, when God's resurrected saints will assist in administering God's standards of mercy, justice, and peace. When God's Holy Spirit will be poured out on mankind, mankind will rejoice.
Richard Ritenbaugh, comparing the New Testament city of Corinth, the Old Testament city of Sodom, and the Church, finds some disturbing parallels and similarities. The focus of I Corinthians is practical advice on how to live a Christian life in an ungodly venue. Secular progressivism has successfully pushed God out of the picture in every sector of the culture. Corinth went through many of the same challenges that America is going through today. America, like ancient Corinth (also having a multicultural focus) espouses perverted sexual practices on a daily basis. Today there are serious factions in the greater church of God as well as almost all of the other problems occurring in Corinth. By using I Corinthians as a practical manual of surviving in a "Sodom-like" culture, we can strengthen our guard against the deadly, corrosive aspects of our current corrupt and perverted culture, having both excesses of wealth and time. Paul writes to the Corinthian congregation, stating that they have been sanctified by Christ, called to holiness, just as other congregations have also been set apart. Paul realized that he needed to encourage them before correcting them about disunity and cliquishness. Paul reminds them and us that if Christ were central in our focus, and we were all tapped into God's Holy Spirit, we would be unified. Party spirit, whether religious or political, denotes carnality. Paul cautions that it is unwise to pick favorite ministers (all of whom are servants and stewards of God, all accountable to God) clustering into divisive cliques. Paul warned the Corinthians not to go hastily to court, but instead to develop Godly judgment. The Corinthian congregation was warned not to use their religious liberty to put new members with weak consciences in jeopardy. Corinth was warned about excessive complaining, lust, and idolatry. Corinth showed lack of judgment regarding decorum, exercising spiritual gifts, and demonstrating concrete acts of love. The Corinthians allowed Platonic thought to undermine t
Charles Whitaker, reflecting upon Thomas Jefferson's claim that mankind has inalienable rights and inherent value, proceeds to examine this assertion. Who exactly assigned worth to us as a people? Thomas Jefferson was a product of the Age of Reason, exalting human reason over religion and revelation. Enlightenment thinkers regarded the Creator as the author of nature's laws, including external nature (deriving from Pantheistic notions) and human nature. Abstract nature, nature reified, or nature personified, cannot impart value. Only the Speaker in Genesis 1:26, the Source of all power, can assign value to a human being. God interfaces with mankind, adding value to him. Both Job and David pondered the unique value of man, realizing that mankind has been deputized and equipped to rule God's creation, even though mankind's current mortal state is short-lived. Paul realized that, for a time, mankind was created lower than the angels, but in the future, would be sanctified into the position of a family member, a brother of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mankind has value because Christ died for mankind. Any assignation of value from an Atheist, Secularist, or Pagan, resembles whitewash or untempered mortar. God has enhanced our value by placing His spiritual gifts within us.
Idolatry is probably the sin that the Bible most often warns us against. John Ritenbaugh explains the first commandment, showing that we worship the source of our values and standards. God, of course, wants our values and standards to come from Him and Him only, for there is no higher Source in all the universe!
John Ritenbaugh, reiterating that there is a malaise of hopelessness, anxiety, and dread permeating this nation like never before, systematically explains: (1) how we arrived at this crisis, (2) why God has ordained that we live in these conditions, (3) how bad choices by the trillions eroded the moral foundation of our culture, and (4) why we need these horrific times to learn the consequences of these foolish decisions in order to ensure that nothing like this happens ever happens again. Modern Israel resembles the Prodigal Son who squandered the inheritance bequeathed to Father Abraham's descendants. The founders of this nation, though they were not true Christians, nevertheless placed many biblical principles in the Constitution, and were for the most part far more moral and God-fearing than the despicable crop of public servants holding office today. Approximately 80 years ago, our leaders began turning their backs on Constitutional principles as well as any respect or reverence for God and His laws. Proverbs 29:18 teaches us that when there is no revelation (from God's communication and guidance) people will run wild, casting off moral restraint, rejecting all of God's counsel, preferring to elevate so-called science, fashioned on the deleterious foolish theory of evolution. Humanism attempts to elevate science over God's Law. Where there is ignorance of God's word, crime and sin run wild. Harvard, an institution founded as a Puritan Theological seminary, is now a hotbed of godless humanism, elevating carnal, perverted human reasoning over God's law. Moral foundations are on the verge of destruction; internal stability is already moribund. We need to place our entire faith in God, not allowing the pervasive negativism of this world's culture to poison us as Job became dispirited by the counsel of his friends. Realizing that none of us are guaranteed passage to a place of safety, we should be willing, if required, to glorify God by martyrdom.
A major theme of the book of Ecclesiastes is satisfaction. In his wisdom, Solomon assiduously sought out the answer to the question, "What brings a person true satisfaction?" John Ritenbaugh proposes that God desires far more for us than mere satisfaction: He wants to give us real contentment, a state that comes only through a relationship with Him.
John Ritenbaugh, observing that Psalm 78 reveals Israel's intermittent fractured-and-restored-relationship with God, emphasizes that those who fail to learn the lessons of history are destined to repeat them. Israel has forgotten her unique position as the only people to whom God has revealed Himself. Sadly, Israel is squandering this treasured opportunity. As God's called-out ones, we must recognize our distinctiveness, thereby ensuring that we do not emulate Israel's unfaithfulness. Just as Jesus Christ personally selected every one of His original apostles, so has He hand-picked us by the will of the Father (John 6:44). There will be no "self-made men" in God's Kingdom, He having empowered us to fulfill a particular role in His masterplan. We assist God by yielding to Him, obediently submitting to His Laws and bearing righteous fruit. The Book of Hebrews emphasizes that Jesus qualified as High Priest, giving vital instruction about living by faith in the New Covenant, which mandates that we keep all His commandments. We must not fall for the dangerous heresy that "since Jesus kept the Commandments, we do not need to keep them." If we refuse to submit to God's Laws, we will not be in His Kingdom. Through obedience, we provide evidence that our love for God is genuine. The offspring of Jacob today are reaping the consequences of disobedience to God's Covenant; These consequences include (1.) hordes of aliens seeking to dominate and destroy the host culture, (2.) secularists persecuting those who believe in God, (3.) a welfare state stealing from the productive and gratify the indolent, and (4.) a Government using 'education' as a control mechanism.
John Ritenbaugh, continuing his exposition on Ecclesiastes 6, appraises the book of Ecclesiastes as the most bluntly profound book in the entire Bible, pointing to our urgent need to develop a relationship with God. We did not create ourselves or give ourselves life. The Psalmist David realized we were made by somebody other than ourselves; we were made according to an intricate pattern. As God's called-out ones, we are a new creation. Are we making ourselves spiritually? We can mess this process up if we do not cooperate with the Potter. This relationship with the Potter is everything; without this relationship, there is no salvation. This relationship is often strengthened through hardship. We have to choose to yield ourselves to God, living for a much higher goal than raw materialism. If we have a relationship with God, we are promised gifts of pleasures forevermore. God can accomplish His purpose without our cooperation, but our choices matter; everything matters. We are not free to change what the consequences of our actions will be; consequently, it is foolish to disagree with God. Following God's lead will energize and nourish us. Only God's Word contains the truth to direct and point us in the right direction. Only He knows what is good for us and knows what is coming next. Godly wisdom consists of skill in living.
Martin Collins warns that if we look upon the Book of Daniel as a puzzle of confusing prophecies, we miss the more important point that the book provides practical strategies to remain Godly in a godless venue. In Daniel's time, there were intense pressures to conform to the world's idolatrous systems, with the world having the upper hand. In spite of appearances, God is in control of history. If we trust God, we will eventually triumph over the present evil. Following the successful invasion by Nebuchadnezzar, it appeared that God's cause was lost, but this catastrophe had been planned by Almighty God, who is sovereign over time all the time. The Lord God of Israel is always in charge of the events of history, no matter what state His people might be in. Nebuchadnezzar was a prime example of radical secular humanism, exalting his pride, boasting of his accomplishments, rejecting the influence of God, and suffering a humiliating bout of insanity for his pride. God is sovereign and He is able to bring the secular city down. Like Abraham, as well as Daniel and his friends, we must, by exercising faith, forsake the temptations and pulls of the world, concentrating on the future promises or spiritual rewards God has prepared for us. While we endure temptations and fiery trials, we learn that God is proving our faith and trust in Him. We must be wary of how the mainstream religions and pop culture has redefined religious terms, perverting the original intent. We must acquire faithfulness and holiness (involving separation from the world's culture) because (1.)Scripture demands it, (2.) it is the ultimate purpose for which Christ came into the world, (3.) it is the only evidence we have a saving faith in Christ, (4.) it is the only proof we sincerely love the Father and Son , (5.) it is the only evidence we are the children of God, (6.) it is the most effective way to do good to others, and (7.) our present and future peace and joy depend upon it. If we set our minds upon it wholeheartedly, we can live a Godly and
Focusing upon II Corinthians 13:5, John Ritenbaugh cautions us of the futility of assenting to a code of standards we do not intend to apply. Belief without conduct equals a dead faith leading to death. Works give evidence that we really do believe and have the Holy Spirit in us. What we believe (correctly or incorrectly) will inevitably produce works. According to a survey conducted by Barna, a large segment of professing Christians have rejected major tenets of the Bible (in effect, calling Jesus Christ a liar) fashioning their own subjective, private religions, giving themselves license to sin in selected areas and fostering a tolerance for hideous societal perversions. Rejecting a biblical world-view, unfaithful modern Israel has degenerated into a habitation of demons. As God's called out ones, we are admonished not to conform or follow suit, but to yield to God's purification.
The serious Christian looks on this ever-declining world—a world that reflects the rebellious, anti-God attitudes of Satan the Devil—and wonders how anyone can truly live by faith. Some may even begin to doubt that God is in control of events here on earth. John Ritenbaugh, however, contends that God's sovereignty over His creation is complete, and the course of world events are moving according to His will.
John Ritenbaugh, re-iterating that internal evidence substantiates the high probability that the Apostle Paul authored the Book of Hebrews, stresses that Christ's ultimate goal is to bring the entire creation under the Father's subjection when God will be all in all. The recipients of the book of Hebrews consisted of converts from Judaism suffering estrangement from family and community, excommunicated from the temple. The etymology of Hebrew denotes someone who has "crossed over" a boundary (such as a river) and by extension connotes moving from one idea cluster to another (such as carnal to spiritual- requiring living tenaciously by faith), as demonstrated by our Patriarch Abraham. The intended audience of Hebrews was not exclusively descendants of Judah, but those who were called by God the Father into the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16) which would include a large influx of gentiles. Because the Israel of God has departed from cultural expectations from both Jewish and Gentile communities, they suffer intense persecution. The Jerusalem Church, the headquarters congregation, had to meld the gentile and Hebrew elements together, deciding whether things like circumcision were still mandatory. The solution was to concentrate on the things Christ taught by example to the Apostles, granting the ability to apply God's law in gray areas as well as clear black and white distinctions. The New Covenant requirements outlined by Christ demanded that God's Called-out -ones must learn to worship in "spirit and truth" without the 'security' of a brick and mortar temple. The sacrificial system of the Old Covenant has not been done away but will re-instated during the Millennium for those who failed to learn its purpose the first time around. For God's called-out ones, the sacrificial system has certainly not been done away, but requires a living sacrifice of lifetime service, yielding to Christ's words and example.
Ecclesiastes is perhaps the most practical, as well as profitable, book in the Old Testament, providing overviews of life-guiding advice, essentially a roadmap through the labyrinth, which constitutes the Christian's life journey. Ecclesiastes could be considered the core of biblical wisdom literature. The teacher's conclusions in Ecclesiastes are deliberately blunt. In the labyrinth journey, we are compelled to live by faith, not having all the facts at our disposal. Ecclesiastes is a practical guide in "right now" applications rather than anticipating the future. God knows where He is taking our lives; we do not have a clear picture where God is taking us. We need to develop a trust to submit to Him in order that He can prepare us for our destiny. Ecclesiastes was given to us to expose the world's false values and philosophies which have the tendency to throw God's people off balance. Thankfully, God does not leave our creation up to us or to chance. Godly wisdom accrues from practical experience (dodging obstacles and cul-de-sacs of the world) stemming from a relationship with God. Ecclesiastes gives practical advice for people living in a corrupt world trying to live a godly life, providing us helpful or useful cautions and warning as to what to avoid. Anything that is vanity is nothing compared to the permanence of God's Kingdom. God intends for His people that life should be profitable. In order to achieve that profitable life, we should be looking over the sun for a converted perspective. God is forcing us to make a choice between His profitable way (fearing Him and keeping His commandments) or the common way of mankind.
Over the past year and a half, the "Arab Spring" that swept through the Middle East and North Africa has been an enduring source of worry for the state of Israel. David Grabbe argues that, despite the instability of its neighbors, Egypt and Syria in particular, Israel's greatest threat is an internal problem: its relationship with God.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: The trend has been noticeable over the past few years, particularly in popular books, television shows, and movies, but also in the culture at large. It runs something like this: ...
Richard Ritenbaugh, reporting on an activity that has been going on for the past seven years, namely Evolution Sunday or Evolution Weekend, a convocation of Robert Stevens to honor the birthday of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, wherein he calls on religious authorities to recant their belief of the scriptural account of creation and accept Darwin's theory and the 'scientific explanation for creation. A number of clergy from 'enlightened' churches have initiated a Clergy Letter Project, affirming their faith in scientific explanation as opposed to the 'unenlightened biblical explanation.' The main problem for faith in evolution is that man's span of life is a little over 70 years, while the origin of life goes back thousands of years, a time span which is well beyond the purview of science in the best of conditions. Jesus Christ affirmed the scriptural account of the creation as well as the flood. To believe evolution is to deny Christ. Though the perpetrators of Evolution Sunday and Evolution Weekend and the Clergy Letter Project attempt to characterize their efforts as representing a vast number of clergy, in truth the 13,000 participants, largely leftist, secular progressive, homosexual, feminist, Episcopal, Unitarian-Universalist, Moslem, and secular Jewish groups, do not even constitute 2% of the 500,000 total estimated clergy currently in the United States. Evolution Sunday or Evolution Weekend hardly qualifies as a "flash in the pan."
Most people consider the second commandment to deal with making or falling down before a pagan idol, but it has far greater scope. John Ritenbaugh shows that it covers all aspects of the way we worship, including setting ourselves up in God's place by becoming enslaved to our own desires.
At some point in the near future, the modern descendants of Israel will learn of their true identity—and have to face the consequences of that knowledge. Using the prophecies of the Second Exodus, David Grabbe reveals that God will do what is necessary to bring Israel to the spiritual condition and the physical location that He has purposed for her.
In Ephesians 6:2, the apostle Paul designates the fifth commandment as "the first commandment with promise." What is the connection between honoring our parents and long life? David Maas, observing the declining family in America, reveals a vital link between honoring parents and wisdom that can lead to "length of days."
John Ritenbaugh asks the question, "How much leavening would God allow to infiltrate into the church, society, or the individual before He steps in to correct it?" Leaven can symbolically represent false teaching, as in the stifling traditions of the Pharisees, the skepticism of the Sadducees, and the secularism of Herod, all producing deadly cynicism and pessimism. With immense forbearance and patience, God carefully timed the cumulative wickedness of a people (when every thought would become saturated with evil) before He intervened. Likewise, we have no insight as to how much sin God will tolerate in the church or our own lives before He will sternly intervene. The tares and wheat (sin and righteousness, heresies and truth, or unconverted and converted) must coexist until the harvest when the fruit will become clearly seen, at which time a separation and judgment will take place, when the good will be contrasted from the evil. In the meantime, the persecution we receive now will show God definitively where our loyalties lie.
Though the search criteria for the whereabouts of Israel point to only one conclusion, most Israelites are blind to their origins. In this final installment of the series, Charles Whitaker deals with the question of why Israel has forgotten its identity.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: Secular Americans snicker at insurance policies that refer to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and other natural disasters as "acts of God," when they, in their scientific arrogance, prefer to call them "acts of nature" or "weather events." ...
Charles Whitaker: Liberals, says James Hitchcock in "The Enemies of Religious Liberty" (First Things, February 2004, pp. ...
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: Our national anthem ends with the line, "Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave/O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave??" It is a good question—not whether the flag still waves but whether it waves over a land of free citizens. ...
John Ritenbaugh warns that we must not become contaminated or spiritually defiled by absorbing the ways and customs of this world. The Sabbath is not a mere ceremonial observance, but identifies God's people as different, and consequently a perpetual irritant to the world. We cannot cozy up to the world's customs, becoming spiritually defiled. We have to constantly battle human nature which metaphorically acts as a magnet attracting defilement. God's purpose can only be worked out if there is a great deal of separation between us and the world (II Corinthians 6:4-17).
A main sign of the end may be the behaviors and attitudes of Generation X. Richard Ritenbaugh analyses his own generation in relation to Paul's description of the last days in II Timothy 3.
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