Martin Collins, reviewing the episode of Habakkuk's frustration that God would use an evil people to punish Israel, points us to the prophet's resolve to cease being a fretful worrier and to become a responsible watcher, determined to understand the purpose of God's dealing with His people. Only a faithful believer will ever stand acquitted before God's fearful judgment. While the taunt-song, dealing with the five woes, certainly applies to Babylon, it applies doubly to God's people Israel, who should have known better, but chose to become ignorant. The first two woes in Habakkuk 2:6-8 concerns the woe against greed, avarice, covetousness (a virulent form of idolatry), and selfish ambition, leading to the crime of usury, charging excessive interest on loans, making the debtor a virtual slave, totally against God's instructions in Deuteronomy 24:10-13. The earth metaphorically cries out against the oppressor who garners wealth by stealing from others and amassing fortunes by exploiting the poor. The third woe focuses on a nation's tyrannical oppression of captive peoples, building a city with bloodshed and establishing a town by violence, denuding forests, wantonly slaughtering animals in order to subjugate other defenseless peoples. The fourth woe results from a people corrupting others with drunkenness and lust, having both literal and metaphorical implications; today the intoxicating Babylonian system embraced by Jacob's descendants has caused our nation to resemble, both figuratively and literally, a drunk vomiting over itself, exposing its sins and folly to the entire world, after adamantly refusing to be governed by God's laws. The fifth woe leveled against the Chaldeans, and by extension to the modern descendants of Jacob, results from idolatry, the sin of worshiping the creation rather than the Creator, applying to literal idols of stone and wood as well as to pagan new age religious practices and including anything we might exalt over God Almighty, including our physical possessions, talents, abilities,
Martin Collins, asking us about the longest period we have had to wait for something, reminds us that waiting for God is an acquired virtue requiring patience and longsuffering. Before the coming of the Holy Spirit in 31 AD, Christ's initial followers experienced a period of delay or a waiting period, a time to practice obedience and fellowship with those who were also waiting. People need other people of like mind; we do not become Christians in isolation. We are obligated to have a dialogue with Almighty God through the means of prayer and Bible study, a conversation in which we listen significantly more than we speak. As Christ's disciples did not know what was expected from them as they waited, we also to do not know what to expect as we wait for Christ to establish His Kingdom. Peter, during his waiting until Pentecost, thoroughly studied the Scriptures relating to the Holy Spirit, enabling him to give a powerful message, a combination of Old Testament Scripture and explanation, focusing on God the Father and Jesus, emphasizing the ministry of Christ, His crucifixion, His burial, His resurrection, His ascension, and His current ministry. Peter's first sermon powerfully influenced 3,000 people. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit emboldened the apostles , bringing effectiveness in ministry, making effective proclamation of the Gospel, giving power for victory over sin, Satan, and demonic forces, making possible a wide distribution of gifts for the ministry, and the power to work miracles.
John W. Ritenbaugh: This morning, upon opening the inbox of my email account, I discovered an item declaring that the United States Postal Service has issued a stamp commemorating the Islamic holiday of Ramadan. ...
It is a wonderful thing that God has called us out of this world and paid the penalty for our sins, but what happens next? After making the covenant with God, how does a person avoid backsliding as so many biblical examples show? John Ritenbaugh answers these questions by explaining what seeking God is really all about.
John Ritenbaugh warns that if we are not moving forward, we will be swept back into the world. The warnings given to the people addressed by Amos and Isaiah were people (like us) who had already made a covenant with Him. Despite their having made the covenant with God, they did not really know God. After we have been called out by God, we have to seek Him and His way realizing that our conduct is motivated by our concept of God. We must be continually seeking God and living the way God lives. Abraham, when he was asked to sacrifice Isaac, added up what He knew about God, calculating that Isaac was the promised seed and would have to be replaced or resurrected. Eternal life, according to Barclay, was more than endless life, but the quality of life God lives. Coming to know God is the church's biggest problem. Romans 1:20 teaches that God's nature can be seen in the creation itself, but failure to have awe before God and to love Him leads to a confused reprobate mind. Emerson suggested that whatever people worship, they will become.
John Ritenbaugh quotes several notable figures who spoke about a New World Order which would be ushered in to allegedly 'stabilize' a defunct order out of control. The New World Order will face oblivion as events of the Feast of Trumpets unfold. The blowing of trumpets symbolizes alarm, the morning and evening prayers of the saints, a memorial of some great event, and the calling of assembly. We are to be warned by the current events as though they were actual trumpet blasts. 6000 years have shown that mankind cannot govern itself. Satan is trying to destroy modern Israel. The greater Church of God (as well with Fundamental churches) is clearly not in sync with the agenda of the New World Order and will be a target of the Beast, standing out like the proverbial sore thumb. We need to have our commitment and conviction anchored in God's law. God has to know whether we will be loyal. The tests we are going through now are working to prepare us for God's kingdom.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on Matthew 24, warns us to remain vigilant in the midst of heresy, false prophets, earthquakes, and signs in the heavens. Jesus tells His followers not to sleep, reminding them that disastrous events occurring in the world are going to intensify and wear out the saints. The Purpose Driven Church will be a major player trying to take us in the wrong direction. Groups such as the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem have used God's Holy Days for their own purpose. Herbert W. Armstrong studied a great deal into conspiracy theories, including education, media, and U S Government conspiracies. It was the midst of the 1800s, that the one-world buds started to sprout across the world. God condemns Judah and Israel and promises to send inept leaders, making unwise executive orders, partitioning the America into ten regions subject only to the president. As we become absorbed into these regions, we will lose our sovereignty, our currency, and our very identity as a people.
The Bible warns us that a great False Prophet will soon arise to sway mankind into idolatry. In addition, numerous passages speak of other false prophets and false teachers in the church and in the world. David Grabbe, in exposing the differences between false prophets and true ones, explains what we need to look out for as the end nears.
John Ritenbaugh, continuing his series on Purpose driven churches, mentions that the truth of God is sacrificed as they claim to accept all 'truth' as equal. The Purpose driven church uses the same terminology with the true church, but totally skewed to fit their purposes. Members of these churches follow the lead of Satan, their spiritual father. Satan is so determined to destroy that he will enter into a conspiracy with anybody in order to destroy mankind. Satan could not destroy anybody unless God allowed it. We need to be aware of God's involvement in these episodes. Most of those involved in the One World Order belong to the same clubs, such as the Illuminati, the Scull and Bones Society, among many others. They believe they will be spared. The building of the tower of Babel was a conspiracy to create a one world order without God. The prophecies about the successive empires in Daniel and Revelation show the conspiracies in the end time. The Purpose driven churches at the end time will have joined in this world conspiracy joining with the world's churches, and making no attempt to come out of the world.
John Ritenbaugh notes that purpose-driven churches are experiencing exponential growth because of their seeming tolerance for any belief including satanic occult practices, promoting a dangerous polytheism. These churches would sacrifice any doctrine if it stands in the way of growth. Because of this tolerance, they assert that all 'truths' are equal, including occult practices and idolatry. The teachings of worldly philosophers and religions are placed on equal footing as the teachings of Jesus Christ. The purpose-driven churches use the same terminology as God's truth, but with totally different meanings. We need to be careful about their terminology, especially the terms unity, solidarity, and community. Both the Old and New Testaments are replete with examples of conspiracy. It would appear that the 'tolerant' purpose driven churches have as their goal a conspiracy against religious fundamentalism.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on Isaiah 53:2-3, reminds us that as Jesus had no form or comeliness that people would desire, likewise His spiritual called-out church would also be not attractive in the sight of men, but rich in faith. But outcome-based religion looks to their vast numbers for their outward sign of success, believing that the ends justify the means, and throws out or waters down any doctrine that interferes with their growth and unity. In making rapid growth the standard of success, they have elevated fellowship above the value of truth; they have forsaken the superiority of correct doctrine in favor of community. Outcome based churches measure their success by their spectacular growth and intense media coverage. Doctrinally and philosophically they are way off base, drifting toward secularization, discarding any tenet or doctrine that would cause offense to anyone, expressing tolerance to all manner of aberrations. Because they throw out the doctrine of Christ and refuse to sanctify Him as Lord, the outcome-based churches are drifting hopelessly into error, advocating a new form of polytheism, in which individual members try to fashion their own image of God. Outcome based religions, even though they use Christian terminology and quote scripture, are not basing their lives on the sayings or doctrines of Christ, but from Gnosticism, pop-psychology, pop-philosophy business gurus, and the occult, actually placing their members precariously close to demon influences.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on Psalm 50:21-22, states that the new paradigm or outcome-based religion has reconfigured God into something that He is not, something far inferior to God's nature, leading to degenerate behavior on the part of the worshiper, promoting the shameless "feel good" indulgence of the flesh, exalting carnality and human nature while shamelessly rejecting God's truth. Outcome based religion promotes death because it rejects God's correction. Its thinking is that God is altogether like us. Outcome based religion exalts numerical growth and feeling good over the truth of God, promoting the use of modern psychology and general systems theories over biblical doctrine. This religion, like historical Gnosticism, uses familiar religious terminology, but with totally different meanings or points of reference. The foundational sin of the purpose driven church is idolatry, rejecting any doctrine which threatens their growth or unity. This practice seems right to them, but we must remember that Satan's modus operandi is based on deception. Much of the thrust of their approach is to appeal to feelings. Satan‚s pattern of destruction consists of infiltration from within and distraction from without.
John Ritenbaugh warns about the dangers of the emerging, new paradigm, purpose driven, outcome-based churches. The fourth descriptor was borrowed from a movement in modern education, emphasizing that the ends justify the means, glorifying political correctness, tolerance for all manner of perversion, and relativistic human philosophy. People who have embraced these concepts are oblivious to their obligations to Almighty God, but instead have been enticed to return to the rudiments of this world, based upon Satanic demon worship, leading us away from a wholesome relationship with Christ and into a pragmatic compromising with sin. We have an obligation to strive for the faith once delivered, continually yielding to the sound scriptural doctrine and to the leadership of Christ. The purpose driven church derives its momentum from human psychology and modern marketing efforts rather than upon God's calling and His truth. The emerging church, not wanting to alienate anybody, has turned its back on sound biblical doctrine, becoming a social, religious, do-good institution, embracing flawed human reason as its only moral barometer.
John Ritenbaugh insists that God holds mankind responsible for knowing about Him and His divine attributes. Moral and spiritual deterioration begins when one does not live up to what he knows to be right. Deep within every human being is a consciousness of God based upon the public revelation of creation as well as the spirit of man—a basic conscience as a guide—not limited to converted people. Conscience, unfortunately, is always subject to education combined with what we choose to believe. The United States is plunging into a cesspool of immorality despite a so-called 'new-paradigm church,' 'emerging church' or 'outcome based religion' which is based on Satan's Gnostic education, stealing the name 'Christian,' while systematically rejecting God's truth. The truth is unacceptable to human nature. Unity cannot be achieved because of the problems of sin that drives all to seek their own way. The whole world, by rejecting the knowledge of God, is spurning God's gift of unity. It has been that way from the beginning when Adam and Eve didn't believe God enough to submit to Him. The human heart is incredibly sick; we desperately need a savior.
The apostle James informs us that "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). Continuing in his theme of the Christian and works, John Ritenbaugh exposes just how corrupt sin is, and by this we can begin to understand just how holy God is—and just how much we need to change to conform to His glorious image.
David C. Grabbe: In the world of money, growth is of supreme importance. Regrettably, this approach has taken root within Christianity, too—both true and false. "Success" for a church is all too often measured in income, membership, and new converts, all of which are typically very unreliable indicators. ...