The Great Division Coming
I believe I am among a sizeable subset of Christians in this country who believes that the United States is now on the fast track to judgment. Down through history the Bible shows that God periodically judges individual nations for their bad conduct. He chastens by lowering a nation's position, status, wealth and power among the other nations. He destroys by war, by famine, plague, or natural disasters.
God judges individuals, both those who believe and those who do not. "For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world." (1 Corinthians 11:31, 32).
Many once-great nations are now completely extinct (see the series by Ray Stedman, "Behind History," http://www.raystedman.org/new-testament/matthew). There has never yet been a "Christian nation" on earth. It is the spiritual vitality of Christian churches within a nation that makes the difference. Human beings are fallen and nations are fallen. "Fallen" speaks of a departure from righteousness, justice, and truth. Nations are often led by corrupt dictators--and the entire world system is ruled over by Satan. Nations with large numbers of professing Christians may not be more righteous than nations with a relatively few Christians who are mostly Philadelphian in their church leadership style (see http://ldolphin.org/cleanpages/rev02.html). This is the reality of the world we were born into.
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him." the Prophet Daniel, (Daniel 2:20-22)
Nations are made up of individuals and every individual born on earth accumulates a personal debt of accountability to God over a lifetime. God's final score with us is settled when we die. It is not enough for us Christians to watch the world around us headed for judgment, our escape and deliverance from that judgment means we must lay hold of the saving life of Jesus the Lord and cooperate with God instead of resisting Him.
There are actually only two churches on earth. One is being built by God and the other is not. (Ray Stedman, "Two Churches, God's and Man's," http://raystedman.org/thematic-studies/prophecy/two-churches-gods-and-mans). As one might suspect, the true church now being built by God, is quite small.
In his latest book, "Maximum Faith: Live Like Jesus," Researcher George Barna reports that his recently completed six-year survey and study shows that only about 1% of Americans are actually living genuine lives of belief and life-style that can pass New Testament muster. Please read this book and pass it along.
"The numbers obtained in these three tables are not exactly the profile you'd expect for people whose life assignment is to imitate God, be holy, and serve as a light to the world.
Not surprisingly, this state of affairs has crippled the Christian Church in this country. The behavior of alleged Christians has darkened the image of the Christian faith and diminished the influence of Christianity's role in our culture. It has left tens of millions of spiritually-inclined people dissatisfied with their personal faith experience, the depth of their moral influence, and the value of their connection to the broader community of Christians and faith-based institutions. Things haven't worked out as expected.
An optimistic spin on these figures, though, is that the journey to wholeness remains available to everyone -- even those who have been utterly complacent to this point -- if they are simply willing to walk alongside Jesus. Imagine the difference it would make in individual lives, as well as in American society if all who considered themselves to be Christ followers accepted God's invitation to pursue a fuller and more fulfilling life with Him. The world would be turned upside down." (Maximum Faith... page 42).
God brought the people of Israel together at Mt. Sinai, there forming them into a nation (about 1500 BC). This was just after He delivered them from 430 years of enslavement in Egypt. The Lord God promised Israel that they would have a permanent place in history, eventually assuming leadership over all of the ~70 nations in the world. This covenant God made with Israel extends earlier unconditional promises with Israel given to Moses. These promises have never been rescinded or altered. Some students of the Bible have failed to notice that the right of the Jews to live in the land given to Abraham and to them by God is conditional. Twice the Jews have been temporarily excluded from living in their own land because of very serious disobedience. A very key sign that the "Second Exile" is ending in our time is the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. There remains a series of events, soon to unfold, called by the Jews "The Final Redemption," during which time Israel will undergo spiritual rebirth and her appointed Messiah will appear in person. Militarily, Israel will win a final great world war and be elevated to Chief among the nations. The terrible violence, suffering and death at the end of the age will greatly reduce he world population.
During his three-year teaching time on earth, ~2000 years ago, Jesus Christ announced that He would build "His church," thus completing the second half of covenantal promises to Abraham. God promised that Abraham would be the father of all true believers, divided them into an earthly people, the nation of Israel, and a people having a heavenly called, the church, or "Bride of Christ." (The New Testament provides us with a rich history of the "church age.") Following the death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus, while Israel has scattered in exile around the world-- (their land desolate and unused), the God of Israel has seen to it that the message of God's love and redemption to the entire world was never silenced for long. The "gospel" began with Israel, but excludes no one. All signs point to the completion of the church any day now. Romans 9, 10, and 11 go over in detail the difference between Israel and the Church. Both entities have a permanent role in God's plans for mankind.
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?” “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:25-36)
The Bible teaches that true Christians will all be removed at the end of the age (an event called the rapture), leaving behind for a few years a counterfeit church which excludes Christ. Yet it was Jesus Christ who "invented" the church in the first place making His message easily available to more people than ever. The church has been the focus of God's dealings with mankind for 2000 years, but this time period is really just a "parenthesis" in the history of Israel. Both Israel and the church are branches of God's promises to Abraham. (This man Abraham, called the "father of all who believe," was born in what is Iraq, about 4200 years ago.
God has surely already begun to judge the U.S. It probably will get much worse. This will be primarily a national judgment -- is not the Lord's judgment of every individual, one by one, and not the "Last Judgment" ("The Judgment of the Great White Throne" -- when all the individuals who remain in the world will be judged at the very end of the age).
Repentance within a nation often causes the Lord to delay that nation's judgment. "Repentance" means that an individual or a group of individuals takes action to align themselves with God's stated purposes and methods. It is not a comfortable or popular word for us modern people, but the process of repenting towards God and with one another needs to begin now in earnest. (Notes on Repentance: http://ldolphin.org/repent.html)
I became a Christian back in 1962 and soon had learned that there are three stages to the "normal" Christian life, namely: justification, sanctification and glorification. I have been aware over 40+ years that the process of sanctification can be a bit rough at times, since our Lord is transforming us from very sinful selfish persons into Christ-like men and women, who are basically self-giving. I have also followed Bible prophecy as an area of special interest. I have had the wonderful opportunity of travelling to the Middle East more than two-dozen times.
When major changes in world economics, global politics and "the setting of the stage" for the end of the age began in 2008 I was alerted before many of my fellow Christian friends around town. One advantage of old age is seeing the acceleration of events as God maneuvers the whole world around into the "time of the end."
I have known what the Bible signs were that pointed to the time Jesus Christ was due back, but I expected these signs would be more subtle and less obvious to a person who is familiar with the Bible. I believe God is shouting at us now.
Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Jesus asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed." (Matthew 16:1-4)
From time to time friends and I have had discussions about the horrific violence associated with Christ's return as depicted in both the Old and New Testaments. Since our Lord had delayed His coming 2000 years what was the likelihood He'd be back during my lifetime? But, on the other hand, there were many signs that famine, plagues, famines and natural disasters were increasing much faster than linear rates, so should I not be ready?
I have been through a series of health issues during the past several years, at times out of close touch with the news, so when I looked through my past news letters (http://ldolphin.news/) I noted that my interest in the events of the end of this age jumped up and stayed there back in August 2007. As I asked myself about moving forward faster with my own Christian life and growth last Fall, it was immediately clear that I had been living in a personal comfort zone of safety and false security in Christ. I soon saw how little I actually cared about the ~99% of people who lived around me and yet were probably lost. It was obvious that the Jesus one reads about in the gospels, were He here now, would most likely be spending His time on the streets actively engaging these people I was largely ignoring. In view of the increasing apathy towards the calling He had entrusted to His church was something now out of order in our nation that I for one had been ignoring to a large degree?
When Jesus said, "I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against My church," He was speaking offensively, not defensively. "Who is this who looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as any army with banners."
"One of the most telling indicators that the rapture is near is the number of people who write fearing that because of their behavior they're going to be left behind. People didn't worry so much about that when they thought the rapture was off in the distant future.
I'm sure some of this is due to the normal conviction of the Holy Spirit and in that case it's not a rapture issue because as we'll see born again believers can't be excluded from the Rapture for any reason.
No, I think most of the fear of missing the rapture comes from the false “partial-rapture” teaching. There are several variations on this theme but they all claim that just being saved is either not enough to put you in the rapture, or it's not enough to get you into the Kingdom after you are raptured. They say you also have to be worthy in some additional way. In my opinion none of this can be reconciled with Scripture.
I want to approach the subject the way the US Treasury department trains bank employees to recognize counterfeit money. Instead of showing them all the fakes and pointing out what makes them fake, they focus on what legitimate bills look like. That way when bank tellers spot a bill that doesn't look like what they have learned to recognize, they know it has to be a fake.
Let's use that same principle to focus on what the Bible says about who qualifies for the rapture. Then we'll know whether what we hear matches that. If it doesn't it's a false teaching." (Jack Kelley, http://gracethrufaith.com)
As I started to pray more and to engage my neighbors, I immediately remembered that God had given the prophet Ezekiel a personal visionary visit to Jerusalem just prior to the city was invaded and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Most of the people living in Jerusalem at the time died, a small remnant had found refuge ahead of time in Babylon. God was essentially wiping out his own chosen nation because they had failed so badly at the calling He had given them. But those who survived the Fall of Jerusalem had been tagged for special protection by recording angels. They did not lose their lives because they sighed and mourned the coming judgment from Yahweh. Please read http://ldolphin.org/ezekiel/ezekiel4.html.
Putting these pieces together last Fall could see that I was hardly fit for the rapture. I had no real, driving love for the lost. Was I qualified for heaven by my nominal life style, merely because I thought my doctrinal position was sound? A friend of mine happened to be discovering 2 Corinthians at the same time and he immediately saw that the normative life-styles of the Apostles were far, far different than the "church members" in the church at Corinth. Was the typical New Testament local church of our day any better than the church in Corinth built by Apostles?
"For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us--and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are> fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now. I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me." (1 Corinthians 4:7-16, see also 2 Corinthians 11)
My friend Ben, a local college student, brings me regular reports of many conversions lately on his campus near where I live. This tells me many in the younger generation have not yet had time to learn (and to receive or reject) of the calling of the gospel. Most of their older generation has heard and has rejected the rule of Jesus in their lives. I have met some of Ben's friends who are new Christians and they are vital, enthusiastic young men and women. Many are of Asian descent. I think the older generation of a majority of parents has largely dropped out and lost the love they had at first. The message of Jesus has been heard, it's well known and has been rejected by the masses over ~30.
My prayers of late are, then, that God might grant widespread repentance in pagan America instead of the sudden judgment of God that could come upon us with no warning.
I have been thinking a lot about the rapture and the role of the Christian during the tribulation and the fantastic changes that will take place in the heavens and on earth when Messiah is ruling openly and actively here on earth. I apologize for too few newsletters lately. I have started and discarded this rant half a dozen times.
A friend and I recently decided to spend several hours a week going through the "clean pages" of our Bibles together with an emphasis on the prophetic passages. We are aware that the predictive passages of the Old and New Testament (eschatology) are not all found in one place but scattered through the entire Bible. Some prophetic passages in the Bible have already been completely fulfilled in history; some have not. Often a prophetic passage will have a near-term set of predictions and a second long-term fulfillment as well. The student of prophecy will look at both and consider the setting and context of a passage. Twenty percent of the Bible deals with eschatology, and so on. As Chris and I began to think and to pray we quickly agreed about the possibility that our nation may well be wiped off of the face of the earth by a long-suffering God who is Holy and Just. Personal repentance is the door to repentance in small groups, in families and among close friends. (See "Let Us Pray," http://ldolphin.org/news/newsletter-91.html).
The church of Jesus Christ is not mentioned in the Old Testament. The Church has been led continuously from start to finish by Founder, Jesus. Great promises and wonderful spiritual endowments were given to the church so that one would suppose she would now be strong and mighty, transforming a pagan world wherever she planted roots. Not so. It appears that the church age is now ending pretty much in miserable failure as Israel failed. Is there a common denominator between the Church and Israel causing both to fail so badly?
Israel is supposed to demonstrate what a righteous monarchy is like. She is a nation demonstrating family integrity and community with all tribes in cooperation with another in peacetime or in war. A functioning priesthood makes forgiveness and cleansing of sin readily available. The priests could devote their lives to teaching the entire Bible and praying in the style of circuit preachers.
The church was given an entirely different set of promises.
Apparently we do not need to go to school of learn pagan idolatry. It is latent everywhere. We "learn" selfish, ungodly ways by watching our parents and our peers. Sin is doing what comes naturally. Living a live acceptable to God is a matter of simple, daily choices. This is true no matter were we live.
But the one life acceptable to God is the life of His Son lived through us. This is the key point we refuse to hear and will not agree to follow, by and large!
Man's natural life, the life we were born into is the life of our forefather Adam. That old life of Adam has been declared null and void by the one true God.
The fall of Adam some few thousand years ago cut the entire human race off from God. As a race, we no longer have any connection with God for our healing, repair, or restoration. Our inner spirits have been invaded by all the ancient pagan gods. Living a pagan life is what comes "natural" for us.
The solution to this terrible state of affairs is found in a man known as the Second Adam--Jesus Christ. Having fully reconciled us to God and solved the problem of human evil and selfishness, Jesus offers Himself as the answer to all of our problems and needs. While God expresses His good will upon the whole world every day, He can only take change in our hearts if we allow it. When we give Jesus our permission come in and take over, we each experience "the new birth" and that broken connection to God the Father is restored.
Lots of people go this far--or they say that they do. The evidence is otherwise. Just as you and I might not judge Israel so harshly in Egypt, the wilderness, in their own land, or in Babylon, God's standards are much stricter. The good works done in the world by Jesus though His people will last and endure. Everything we do in our own way will soon be burned up. That is, we can not give ourselves once to Jesus and then turn back to living what we imagine is a good life by drawing on the old natural life of Adam in us.
"Nothing Coming from Me, Everything Coming from Jesus" is the only was that real life can be successfully lived by us. It has often been said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Ask God to bring you up to speed and on course. The majority space-time discontinuity of the rapture could happen very soon.
Book to Read: "Counterfeit Gods" The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters" by Timothy Keller, Dutton Press, 2011. Once any of us gets serious about knowing knows God we need to quickly become acquainted with the nature of the Christian life as lived by Jesus, not by us acting in self-interest.
Other: I am currently teaching a series in Genesis from Noah to Moses, Genesis 12-50, at my home church, Peninsula Bible Church, Palo Alto, California. I'll put the mp3 audio files on my web site Library page, http://ldolphin.org/genesis2 (coming soon).
Finances: Last month I mentioned that I owed over $3,800 in assorted medical bills not covered by medical insurance. The usually generous contributions to my account dropped in half in February. But one special friend sent in a one-time gift of $5,000 through PayPal. My next big hurdle this week has been income taxes. I have a very big tax bill this year, because I do pay taxes on the gifts that come in via tax-deductible contributions (i.e., those sent in through a third party ministry). Coming up in May is a premium for medical insurance that is now $3,600 per year. God has been totally faithful in meeting my needs but He does this mostly through loyal friends. If you are able to invest in my ministry, I'd be most grateful. You may send contributions directly to my PayPal account. These PayPal contributions are tax free to me, though not to you. The Blue Letter Bible ministry has graciously provided a channel for tax-deductible donations. If you would like a tax receipt, send your check to Blue Letter Bible ATTN: Lambert Dolphin Ministries (LDM), 29 Rancho Circle, Lake Forest, CA 92630 (Please make your check out to "Blue Letter Bible" and mark "LDM" in the memo field of your check). Thank you very much!
Health: I have been feeling much better so far this year. Spiritual warfare, a part of the "normal Christian life" has been very intense this year. My top priority is being available to friends when they need me. I am behind in writing up current events and all the rich truth God has been showing me from the Bible about the end of the age and our future in Christ's Kingdom.
Also, would you be so kind as to pray boldly for me? I'd like to finish this life boldly and not merely crawling across the finish line. I'd like to help you to be ready and to finish this life well.
"Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. ...you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
Now the just shall live by faith;
if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.
But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul." (Hebrews 10:35-39)
Contacting me: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: http://ldolphin.org, Apologetics and Q&A:, http://paracleteforum.org; Previous newsletters, http://ldolphin.org/news.
April 19, 2011