Give it a rest

I have been moving towards Christianity again recently. I was very familar with faith in my childhood, but came to resent it gradually. My parents went to a Baptist church and I was literally forced out of bed on Sunday mornings so I could go to service. It’s safe to say that I never enjoyed it. I think part of the problem was the autism-like challenges I’ve always had. Being around people has never made me tick.

I have two elder sisters, and they seem to have been stuck with Jesus the whole time. That’s how it felt like to me. My sisters have always given the impression that everything is hunky-dory as long as you are a Christian, and as there are no challenges, we don’t talk about them either. I tried again as a young man. I took a one year course at the Baptist Seminary outside Oslo and followed up with 3 semesters of theology at a small Christian unviersity in Bergen. I found that fascinating, especially Christology. In fact, that was so interesting that it didn’t feel like work. I’m a very slow learner, and I relied on endurance, but all the all-nighters I did, didnt feel so bad because I was having a lot of fun studying alone. The 1,5 years I spent in Bergen was a good time.

Faith is another matter, though. I don’t know if I’ve ever had that. It’s more that I’ve chose to defend the Christian faith, but I have no idea what people are talking about when they express love for other people or say that they hear God. Never been there myself. I’m just doing what I think is right, but I’m not hearing any voices. I’m usually not in the mood for that, but that is probably a result of my experiences in a world that isn’t very autism-friendly.

Sometimes people get especially excited. As a child I didn’t understand what was going on. I was dragged around from house to house when my parents took part in house meetings. It was common to have a mid-week gathering of cells in people’s houses, and this looked like a bunch of weirdos to me. It was a lot of loud hallejulah, praying for miracles, talk about Anti-Christ, percecutions and the end of the world. That was popular in the 1970’s.

They never stopped talking about the end times, and I read a little about it myself as I got older. They tried very hard to combine EU, the Roman Empire and the USA. Anti-Christ had to be Italian, but he also had to be president of the USA. I believe many saw the USA as the new Sodom and Gomorrah with their liberal ideas, and California was absolutely scandalous. I could never understand this because the same people admired the USA too. There was also a lot of talk already in the 70’s about how EU would plant a chip in all of us, and this would be used to percecute Christians. It was quite an accomplishment getting everyone worked up when there were no signs of imminent doom. It’s a different story today, however. There are some signs, but I don’t think we are close. I believe the development will be slow.

judgment day sign
An add for Family Radio. Media and atheist organizations like to ridicule people like Harold Camping. He predicted that Jesus would return on May 21 2011. The saved would be taken to heaven in the rapture, and there would be a 5 month period of fire, brimstone and plagues awaiting the rest of us. He did the same in 1994. I wonder how many disillusioned people he left behind.
O’Dea at WikiCommons

Later I heard about people stirring up excitement and bringing out the creepy in us. There was a guy travelling around in Norway at the time of the first Golf War. I listened to him in one of the local churches, and he talked a lot about Biblical prophecies. I believe he mentioned a mountain in Iraq that the Bible says is going to be levelled. There was so much focus on this that even the biggest newspaper in Norway mentioned this in a very dramatic headline. I must admit I found it exciting, but I feel guilty about it now. I don’t want to feel excited about people being in pain. Christians seemed to like this, especially when they talked about the rapture. The idea that there would be suffering seemed to excite us, because it only applied to everyone else. That sounds very Old Covenant to me, or like Jonathan Edwards’ very vivid descriptions of hell.

I spent some time listenning to American talk radio programs recently. I started listening because I thought it was fascinating to hear them talk about nephilim, aliens, the catholic church, Book of Enoch etc. I continued listening for a while after they started talking about end times. I do like to speculate a little about this, but there is a limit. We don’t know when Jesus is coming back, and there have been many times during the last 2000 years when people thought it was over. There have even been people that quit their jobs because they were convinced that Jesus would provide for them.

These radio hosts are sort of like that guy in the early 90’s that excited Norwegians with promises of unimaginable suffereing and tribulations among the less fortunate ones. I think they saw it as God’s greatness that they didn’t have to suffer themselves, like this was some creepy reality show they could watch from heaven. I guess this is very human, like when car drivers just have to slow down and even stop as they pass the scene of an accident or crime, or when we watch every second of a live coverage on CNN. We were all fascinated by the show CNN staged during the first Golf War, and I even had a relative that listened to Israeli radio where they reported about Scud-missiles being fired from Iraq, but I discovered after a while that watching a 30 minute summary of the news of the day, at night, gave me the same info.

I don’t actually watch news anymore. I mostly read alternative news outlets on internet. That gives me accurate information. I like to speculate, however, but the important thing is to be ready. I’m not dreading Jesus coming back, but non of this is going to be pleasent. The best I can do is to prepare myself, try harder to be included in the new covenant, and if something happens during my lifetime, try my best to survive long enough to help my family.

No one knows the time. It must have looked like the end to many people during World War 1 and 2, but it wasn’t. Contrary to what some seem to think, Hitler had the means to kill the whole world. The Nazis had an overwhelming advantage. They had superior technology and weapons. Germany developed mustard gas in WW 1 and by WW 2 they also had nerve gas. They lost because they didn’t think anyone stood a chance; they were arrogant and lost many of their battle ships through sheer stupidity (two of them went down in Norway: Tirpitz was launched in 1939 and Blücher launched in 1937). It wasn’t time for the end yet and it could have been avoided.

I’ve heard people say that Jesus has to come back now. I don’t think he has to do anything. The question is what we should do. Athletes in my country often talk about focusing on the task, and only one at the time. That will eventually bring them to the finish line. That sounds like a good advice. There will be tasks to perform; there will be hardship, but if we focus on the most immediate one, we’ll be fine.

John 14:27 doesn’t sound like a bad quote to end with:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

NIV at Biblegateway

I might do some speculating next time. I’ve been thinking of the Revelation lately, but I don’t interpret every headline as a prophecy.

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25 thoughts on “Give it a rest

  1. “Golf ⛳ Wars…” 😃
    – GW1 ~http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prescott_Bush
    – GW2 ~http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vannevar_Bush
    – GW3 ~http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_H._W._Bush
    – GW4 ~http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Bush
    – GW5 ~http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama (sliced left)
    – GW6 ~http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeb_Bush

    Faith becomes much more obvious from the viewpoint of eternity as revealed in the Bible. As aspie, my forte seems to be seeing in categories instead of social variations.

    Take for instance “love” as more about caring (charity) than emotions. Drawing on 1st Corinthians 13. Classic greek-roman spins focus on “false love” — from the perspective of eternity, (eros, agape, philia, storge). They confuse lust and love.

    Better appreciation of “love:”
    – between parents and children
    – between husband and wife
    – between siblings
    – among friends
    – including pets
    – extended to others
    – reserved for God

    Let’s reorder…
    1 reserved for God
    2 extended to others
    3 among friends
    4 including pets
    5 between husband and wife
    6 between siblings
    7 between parents and children

    Compare with The Armor of God(*)…
    1 salvation
    2 devotion (following God’s will)
    3 peace
    4 truth
    5 faith
    6 service
    7 zeal

    (* – Eph. 6, Isa. 59 esp. 17)

    My proposition to you then is that Christ extends Himself to those He saves (in His ministries, Luke 4 & Isa. 61) by working through them (spiritually and hyper-dimensionally). We see Him revealed as The Lamb Slain in The Revelation, with 7 Horns and 7 Eyes, which are the 7 Spirits of God.

    I believe that points to a spectrum — considering horns as rays and eyes as detectors. Much as He has reserved the rainbow for His own sign — that points to ordering and organization, which is as much innately perceived as externally detected. His gift to us is that we can be His extensions through His Holy Spirit. The Book of Acts and Luke point to asking for it by measure — since He will not overwhelm us

    As for church, Paul explains that we have a multi-dimensional body (natural body and spiritual body … cp. body, soul, and spirit). My point is that the True Church (from the stance of eternity) is already with Christ, harvested from each succeeding generation, as the “Greater Cloud of Witnesses.” We are told that to be absent from the body is to be present with The Lord. And that Jerusalem Above is free, who is the mother of us all. That speaks clearly to Christ’s Bride and ultimately (from the view of eternity) His Wife (helper).

    So the churches in the world are problems (having evil mixed in) as seen in the letters to the churches in Rev. 2-3. Those that repent and overcome remain with Christ as The True Church, (we can’t overcome without Him). Those that include the balaams, jezebels, them that say they’re apostles or jews but are not, etc. … they are the false church, actually tares (vs. wheat) … and their angel/s is/are removed. They’re cast out, winnowed….

    Ultimately it’s not church nor faith that matters. Christ matters. Who is He to you?

    1. Thank you for your reply, nomemoleste.

      This is heavy matter, but I reckon your last paragraph sums it up. That makes it simple, disturbingly so. I can read the Bible and go to church if they allow me to blend into the crowd, which is usually problematic (people tend to want other people to talk), but I still have the uncomfortable question of who Jesus is to me.

      That’s something I should be able to answer.

      This is why I’m not sure I have ever believed. I have always tried, but I don’t know if I can say that I love Jesus or that I know him. After reading my blog yesterday my wife reminded me that I do have compassion for others. I do care about family, and she has a point about that, although these people may not be aware of that as I don’t want to spend much time around them. That’s just too much work.

      I guess it also matters to me, on a certain level, what happens to other people, like the Christians in Muslim countries. Maybe I am reading too much into this. Maybe it’s more normal than I think that Christians wish other people well, but otherwise don’t want anything to do with them. This might me having issues. As a young man I wanted friends. I just didn’t have the skills. Today I am much less interested. I have a feeling this is getting in the way of everything, but after spending a lifetime trying to change, I don’t see what I can do about it now. It’s disturbing to think that my father was the same. I guess some things have changed because I am not a complete recluse, like he was. But people seem to find my way of communicating difficult to accept.

      Maybe I’ll become a quaker and have silent meetings? No, I guess I should challenge myself more. I have just started on what might be the road back to the faith I had in early childhood. We’ll see what happens in my life. Hopefully some pieces will fall into place this year.

    2. John, The traits of autism spectrum (ASD) and especially high functioning autism (HFA) are being widely recognized now. The neuroscience backs up our processing differences. Temple Grandin is classic.

      We don’t recognize all the social cues that “neuro-typicals” see. I’m ok with that since they don’t recognize the categorical and organization spectrums that I do, such as how to lay out a work space or work flow; or even just to keep things orderly and clean for co-workers.

      What I’m saying is that brain plasticity allows that processing power to be turned to other modalities. Something very similar happens to those who are blind, and notably to those who have sight restored later in life. Hearing, auditory processing, takes over the visual processing area. And even if sight returns, it’s never fully given back. I believe that in ASD, our abilities take over some of the social processing areas that we don’t fully see.

      It’s not an absolute, either/or, distinction. For me, it’s more like I see social cues in 2 variations, less richly than neuro-typicals. Something like color blindness or those that are tone deaf. I get social cues but only at the extremes — at which point things have generally gone “ballistic.” This tends to reinforce my need for seclusion. And explains clearly one grandfather’s need to be a recluse, and a great uncle’s distance from my grandmother’s offspring (and large complex step-family).

      The neuroscience points to several issues, overconnection between synapses that don’t go through normally “pruning” during early development (and hence are easily overloaded later in life), and particularly in HFA a reduction in the “connectome” pathways that wire left and right brain together.

      I can follow up… since I’ll shortly run out of time this early morning. I believe we are perfect in our disabilities, even those that are commonly seen as unloving. It greatly helps for me to use earplugs when shopping — to keep my stress levels lower. Similar filters, such as with using non-scratchy (often old) clothing, keeps my “un-pruned” senses from being overloaded.

      There are groups like “Christian’s With Aspergers” on facebook and @Autisable on twitter — that are still trying to figure out how we fit in. But much as with the “masters of assembly” who were given talents to build the Tabernacle and fixtures around the time of Moses — I’ve no doubt we are simply differently abled.

      You may consider the writings of Vernard Eller, a brethren, some of which he put on the web at hccentral (house church). There are other ways to approach community in our assemblies.

      That said, Christ is Savior. I’ve given my inabilities over to Him and take great comfort in not having to be something beyond what I was given to be. In my weakness, He is strong. I am content to forever be as He allows — or indeed may have taken hand in creating, as Son of God — even when we were in the womb. “For without Him, nothing was made, that was made.”

      More at John 1, Isaiah 42, and Acts(re: The Holy Ghost)

      Kind regards!

  2. God’s family was meant to live in community. Every believer has a role to play and not only does the body suffer when that one is withdrawn, but also the individual can be robbed of helpful interaction for growth, support and accountability.

    But I don’t push people to “go to church”, because the Church is the people themselves. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus said that when even “two or three” are gathered in His name, He is in their midst.

    There have always been false prophets among God’s people. The worst effect is that their teachings contradict the truth of Christ’s identity. But there are other extremely destructive elements as well.

    As anyone with an opinion and internet access can present himself as an “expert” these days. I’ve been inclined to avoid the slew of self-proclaimed internet prophets who have flooded the cyber-realm. It’s just too stressful to always be on high-alert for sneaky, misleading garbage. When contact is incidental, I’ve learned to ask for discernment, because I’m not smart enough to sot error for myself.

    I did do an interesting survey of the churches of Revelation years ago, but privatized the study notes I had shared on my previous blog, as I was concerned that someone might misunderstand my intention. It’s nothing mystical or “prophetic” in the sense of determining the date of Christ’s return. Just some interesting correlations that can be readily verified with a bit of study. If you are interested in what I found, I can come back and summarize for you sometime.

    Your closing passage is beautiful. I don’t hear voices. But I know God does speak through the Spirit that dwells within because I will feel intense agitation when I’m not being obedient…or when I’m reading stuff that attempts to speak for Him yet does not.

    About 10 years ago, I was “arguing” with the Lord about some things. I stopped reading my Bible and steadily became more anxious, depressed and emotionally isolated. It got to the point our doctor even suggested I should consider an antidepressant prescription.
    After counselling with our pastor’s wife, she suggested that I try to spend just a few minutes reading. Even a verse or two is better than nothing. So I opened to the place I had stopped reading, and John 14:27 was waiting for me. Right where I had left it.

    It was the beginning of a very difficult, but unquestionably worthwhile journey

    1. I think I am guilty of doing a lot of arguing with God myself, or maybe it’s people?

      There are many things I find hard, no impossible, to accept. It seems to be imperative that I proclaim Israel as infallible for example. That’s the biggest one, and I haven’t been able to overcome it yet. I’m not sure why this is necessary if there is a new covenant. I guess it’s one of those things I just have to accept if I want to get anywhere, but it seems too Old Testament to me. I was in some pretty heated debates about this many years ago before I stopped going to church. I am quite stubborn when I can’t do things my way.

      I started reading the Bible in January like your pastor’s wife adviced you to do. I’m only reading a few verses a day. It’s a start.

    2. We all have certain rebellious areas of our hearts that need to be surrendered to God. And people sometimes misinterpret God’s Word. Your arguments may go both directions.

      Although I grew up in the church culture, God brought me to a place where many things I thought I knew had to be reconsidered or left behind. It was very painful and I was pretty sure I was losing my mind.

      Perhaps the greatest study help to me was realizing the Old Covenant was not primarily about national Israel. It is meant to prophetically tell readers about Christ. He said so Himself (John 5:39). Look for references to Jesus in the text. Searching for the truth does not mean you must be rabidly pro- or anti-national Israel.

      And try to listen to your wife’s opinion of you. She is a gift from God and has insight into your personality that others do not.

      In God’s economy, there are no accidents, John. You have been drawn back to the Bible for a reason. Your finding my blog was not coincidental. Although I have never been diagnosed with a medical difficulty, I know loneliness, despair and the frustration of thinking I ought to understand the Christian faith, yet do not.

      If we never exchange another word, I know how to ask God to help you.

    3. Thank you. I have a lot to think about and study now after some rather interesting comments from you and nomemoleste. I noticed you had written a quite long post today. I’ll read it later tonght. You may be right. Maybe this wasn’t an accident, and as people are suddenly reading my blog, I’ll probbaly continue writing about faith.

      I’m hopeless with smileys, sms-language and that sort of thing, so if this works, you and nomemoleste will get a rare one out of me. I’m not exactly a smiley-kind of guy: 😉

  3. Please forgive my repeat commentary. I got a bit distracted, but wanted to respond to

    Faith is another matter, though. I don’t know if I’ve ever had that. It’s more that I’ve chose to defend the Christian faith, but I have no idea what people are talking about when they express love for other people or say that they hear God.

    Hebrews 11 provides a good introductory discussion of faith. In essence, all of the Old Testament personalities could be considered “Christian” in the sense that they all believed God’s promises. The foundational word was spoken in Genesis 3, when the Lord cursed the serpent and assured Adam that He had a plan to redeem the fallen creation.
    All of the Old Testament saints who are listed in Hebrews would have been placing their trust in God’s promise of a coming Redeemer, who we now know as Jesus of Nazareth. And, even though many of them displayed very human failings, their faith was proven to be alive by their obedience to God’s calling in their lives.

    Faith is not a complicated matter, (Jesus said we must be converted and become like children) but we need to be certain that it is genuine.

  4. @ faith… (vs. legalism)

    Galatians 5:6

    For in Jesus Christ
    – neither (circumcision) availeth any thing
    – nor (uncircumcision)
    – but faith which worketh by love.

    “availeth” = “makes a difference”

    Heather, I’d welcome your study / insights into Christ’s message to the churches (~Rev. 1-3).

    1. Hi nomemoleste,

      I appreciate the interest. If you don’t mind, I’ll wait for John’s response, as I learned a hard lesson a couple years back with regard to sharing such thoughts on other people’s blogs without an invitation from the author. If he would rather I not, and you are still interested, I can drop it at your site.
      If you are a serious student of the word, it may not be a particularly ground-breaking revelation, though.

  5. Thank you nomemoleste and Heather for your comments. It will take some time for me to process this.

    I’ve always had a difficult relationship with God and the church, not to mention people. The simple answer is that I’m not a people person. After those long comments I want to give a better reply, but I’m sorry to say I don’t feel like it tonight.

    If you two want to add more comments/continue this conversation I don’t mind if you use my blog to comunicate, as I’m sure this would benefit other readers.

    1. Thank you for your willingness to host, John.

      Spiritual struggle is mentally and emotionally exhausting. In the spirit of your post theme, I’d like to suggest you not worry about a lack of connection with other people right now. Seek rest for your soul in knowing Christ. It may take some time, but it is a necessary pursuit.
      From that place of peace, He will lead you to where you need to be.

      May God bless you and your family with His presence. You are in my prayers.

    1. nomemoleste,

      I suspect you are already aware that the 7 assemblies of Revelation actually existed, and that many teachers interpret them to represent the various types of church groups which exist today.

      I will attempt to abbreviate my survey with enough detail for you to be able to check the thoughts for yourself.

      While reading through the letters, I noted the pattern with which they are arranged mirrors the course of Church history.

      1. Ephesus: foundation laid by Christ through His 12 apostles
      2.Smyrna: persecution under the pagan Roman empire, but a time of purification and testimony.
      3.Pergamum: the uniting of “church and state” under Constantine/split of Christian empire into Orthodox/Catholic factions
      4. Thyatira: Wholesale corruption (particularly of Roman Catholic)/plague-Black Death/attempt at religious reformation
      5.Sardis: Early reformed, state-supervised churches which were separated yet still not fully reformed, in a spiritual sense.
      6. Philadelphia: Mission-minded individuals and spiritual awakening inhabit this era in an obvious way.
      7. Laodicea: The rich, fat and lazy primarily westernized)group which has been fed the “prosperity gospel” of ease and comfort. There is talk of Jesus yet little interest in actually knowing Him. People remain blind to our great need for spiritual rebirth.

      It was interesting to discover later that others have already seen these parallels, but I am still waiting to know of anyone else who sees that there is also a parallel to the recorded history of national Israel,
      1.Beginning with Abraham and his 12 sons (from whence the tribes of Israel issue)
      2. persecution under Egyptian rule/release into wilderness of Sinai
      3. Balaam and Balak conspire against the nation/ The people begin to settle the land of Canaan and demand a human King (who also oversteps his assigned position to act as priest)/ Kingdom is split because of idolatrous disobedience.
      4. wicked Jezebel rules Israel/idolatry increased/ various forms of punishment are sent.
      5. Attempted reform under Hezekiah. Half-hearted obedience by other kings
      6. Spiritual reform under Josiah/Ezra/Restoration of the temple/Rebuilding of the walls of the city by Nehemiah
      7. State of the nation at the arrival of Christ/ Religious hypocrisy and unawareness of spiritual poverty/ Many religious factions (like we see today).

      While I do not believe this to be a matter of prophetic (futuristic) interpretation, I was amazed to be able to see the order with which God has chosen to unfold the events of world history.

      It is a truth I very much needed to see during a time of emotional chaos and concern that I would never truly be able to have peace about my own relationship with God.

  6. Heather,

    Allow me to organize your presentation a bit, distinguishing the remnant (“the true”) from the unrepentant (“the false”)

    7f Joseph’s evil older brothers attempt to kill him, but sell him into slavery instead
    7t Sons of Israel establish families and tribes as elders

    6f Egyptian persecution
    6t Moses’ leadership and service

    5f Balaam’s schemes
    5t Faithful remnant left with Joshua & Caleb

    4f Jezebel’s manipulations
    4t Elijah is shown that The Almighty reserves a remnant unto Himself

    3f Hezekiah’s fear of death
    3t Isaiah’s visions of Messiah, even of His sacrifice and resurrection (53:10) overcoming death

    2f The prophets proclaim, esp. Haggai and Zechariah
    2t Josiah/Ezra/Restoration

    1t Ephesus (remnant of Israel embrace Messiah, then become the New Testament Church … Peter, John, Paul, etc.)

    1f majority of Israel rejects Salvation — leaving “their first love” (God Himself), the nation is destroyed and those left dispersed.

    2t Smyrna (pagan Rome persecutes then martyrs those that join Christ’s remnant which continues to grow)
    2f Pagans claim to be Christ’s remnant — saying they are jews yet actually the synagogue of satan

    3t Pergamos (the true remnant follow the way of the cross shedding their blood and lives as martyrs, for the promise of Christ)
    3f the imperial “church” and satan’s thrown is established through nationalized christianity at Rome using the doctrine of balaam (pantheistic idolatry & fornication)

    4t Thyratira (the overcomers nonetheless establish colonies in the new world fleeing imperial persecutions)
    4f while the harlot church continues in the ways of jezebel reaping black death and catastrophic destruction, spread even to the pagan populations of the new world

    5t Sardis (the repentant maintain their separation from worldly and national compromises — holding fast to Christ alone)
    5f while the state sponsored reformation churches combine the precepts of christianity and the enlightenment of greek and roman ideologies — yet denying spiritual reality.

    6t Philadelphia (lead of the Holy Ghost … travel to the ends of the earth … after the pattern of Acts, spreading the Gospel while caring for others)
    6f [we’re not told directly of those that try to merchandise the Holy Ghost]

    7t Laodicea the zealous embrace Christ even through the martyrdoms of the end times, and return with Him into this passing world.
    7f while the worldly silent church is spewed out, and eventually cast out as Christ extends His Kingdom back into this world and into national Israel — ruling even over the fallen angels and remaining nations for 1000 years — till the final judgment, and the coming of the new heavens and new earth.

    Heather, Have I added or taken away anything in error in my organizing and rephrasing?

    There’s a chiasm (crossing).

    Old Testament:
    The remnant of God are in Israel on earth.
    The unrepentant of Israel are dispersed.

    New Testament:
    The remaining remnant of God from each generation join true Israel in Heaven (*).
    The unrepentant that reject Christ are cast out of Heaven with the rebel angels (after resurrection).

    (* New Jerusalem includes Israel{Jacob}, Joseph, David, Esther, Daniel, etc.)

  7. nomemoleste,

    No worries on the typo issue, and I appreciate your effort at sorting through my comment.

    You use an unfamiliar method of organization, but for the most part, I believe you have adequately summarized my thoughts from a historic perspective. I did not sufficiently examine the deeper spiritual implications to be able to fully verify or deny what you have written on that level.

    To be honest, I’ve been exposed to so many different end times interpretations, I have had to back away from that particular line of thinking in order to allow God to navigate me through the mess. I trust He will give me necessary answers, as I am ready to accept them.

    As I mentioned before, I really hesitate to share this particular view as I do not wish to further confuse people who are wrestling with a different primary question. For many, the need to establish a firm connection with the Lord is far more pressing than understanding the finer details of prophetic instruction.

    My reason for addressing the letters here is that being able to see the deliberate nature of the arrangement was very helpful during my own time of doubt.

    Thank you for the interaction.

  8. John, I am responding to some of your comments on the blog. Like you, I used to think I had to believe the “whole package” or otherwise have it all figured out. There is nothing in Scripture that states you must embrace the “infallibility of Israel” as a believer. The matter of “what” is Israel is one that is debatable on both theological and historical levels. But needless to say, it is not required for Salvation or eternal life, no matter what some Christians say. I have been told I am going to hell because I do not believe in pre-tribulation rapture. But there is nothing in Scripture that says I must believe so in order to be Saved. If there really is a pre-trib rapture and I am in Christ, then I go anyway. We must believe in the Lord Jesus, that He is the Son of God, that he died for our sins, and was resurrected. We may never figure out all the rest in our time on earth, but as long as we have that, then we have the foundation. A person can get lost in all the details,and I think that Satan loves to make us doubt our salvation and our faith and convince us that because we have questions or are not sure about some details that we don’t really believe in God. He is a deceiver. I fell for those lies for many years and thought I couldn’t be a Christian because there were things I wasn’t sure about. But I eventually learned to let that go and just trust Him, and trust the Holy Spirit to guide me and teach me. Sometimes, John, when you feel repelled or repulsed in some church setting, it does not mean something is wrong with you, but rather the Holy Spirit speaking to you that something being taught in that church is “wrong.” Seek Him about those things, and don’t assume there is just something wrong with you.

    1. Thank you for a very interesting comment. Israel and the rapture are two major reasons why it’s so hard to feel at home in any church. I wouldn’t be a people person anyway, but I hate confrontations. It’s nice to know there are alternatives, and that this may not be the word of God.

    2. There is no Biblical ground for a pre-trib rapture. It’s based on a speculative interpretation of a handful of verses and distorts the reality that Christians have been experiencing tribulation for centuries. It also encourages an escapist mentality or constant fear over every unpleasant political development. Pre-trib rapture doctrine is a result of bad theological interpretation. Don’t feel bad about rejecting it.

      National Israel was created by God for a purpose, and many students of prophecy seem to believe that this purpose has been realized in the advent of Christ. Jesus is the fulfillment of the OT shadow picture and loyalty to Him does not mean you need to be “pro-Israel” or hate it. The fact is, they are people who need to hear the Gospel as much as the rest of the world

  9. John,
    I can relate to your comment about how Israel and the pre-trib rapture make it difficult to feel comfortable in some churches. I have had that experience before, and I have a dear friend who hold those beliefs. I have given up trying to debate those two topics. Maybe I am just not good at doing so ( I never seem to be able to remember the relevant verses). Usually, I just shut up when the topic comes up. I’m not sure that is the right thing to do, I just don’t know what else to say.

    Heather,

    I agree with your position on pre-trib rapture. I am by no means any kind of Bible scholar, and I find much of the prophecies to be very confusing. But if I am reading my Bible correctly, in order for there to be a pre-trib rapture, then it appears Jesus would have to come back TWICE? Because every scripture I’ve ever read that describes Believers being “raptured,” they “rise to meet Him in the air.” Jesus is present at every description of the “rapture,” which leads me to believe that pre-trib must be wrong, as there is never any mention in Scripture of Jesus coming back twice. My parents never believed the pre-trib rapture doctrine, but it was as an adult that I came to understand whyI don’t believe it. I agree that it is an escapist mentality, and I believe that Paul warned the early church about such things.
    I read recently how that prior to the Communist Revolution in China, Western missionaries had brought the pre-trib doctrine to China, and the Chinese church had accepted that doctrine. Then, when the Communist Revolution began and believers there began to experience severe persecution, very large numbers of them lost their faith. They expected to be raptured, and were not expecting to ever experience any kind of “tribulation.” I think pre-trib is a very dangerous doctrine that leaves Believers unprepared to face any kind of persecution.I am thankful that my parents began teaching me even as a child to expect persecution. Of course, my father may have taken it a little too far when he was reading Foxes Book of Martyrs to an eight year old! But I would rather have had that experience then have been indoctrinated in pre-trib deception.

    Thanks Heather for the comment about Israel. I rarely find such a perspective on the topic. The topic of Israel, more so than even pre-trib seems to generate a level of hysteria and blind, unquestioning devotion to a political state that is anything but godly. I find it even more difficult to discuss this topic with those who are rabidly pro-state of Israel. I’ve noticed people become quickly hostile on the topic, and in many cases, they sound almost, well….brainwashed…and react quite extremely to even the mildest skepticism on the topic.

    1. Jay,
      Much of what you expressed is exactly why I find the rapture doctrine to be built on a sandy foundation. We know people who hold to it, but choose to not fight them. Every believer comes to faith with different experiences and different challenges to overcome. God is faithful to teach us what we need to know, when we need to know it.

      Re. Israel. Jesus proved it is possible to love people without getting caught up in a web political intrigue. I expect we can trust His example 🙂

  10. Heather,
    Thanks for your response. Maybe it is not such a bad thing for me to avoid debating Pre-trib with other Christians. I guess I should rather pray that God will open their eyes to the truth. I especially liked your last remark about Jesus’ example! Simply put, but so true. I am going to try to remember that when I hear other believers discussing such topics.

    1. Absolutely pray, Jay! I think we sometimes underestimate the importance of asking God to intercede in the affairs of our world. The real power is not in our ability to skillfully craft our words, but in exposure to His living Word 🙂 We get to participate in this action of redemption through our witness, but ultimately, all glory goes to Him for renewing souls to be able to see the truth.

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