Jun 21, 2014

Babylon of Revelation 18 May Be America

This is David Bay, Director of Old Paths Ministries.

And this is the Cutting Edge, a radio program dedicated to warning and informing God's people. We are committed to the study and exposition of the inerrant, inspired and authoritative Word of God. The views expressed belong to us, and are not necessarily shared by this station.

Our society is deteriorating, and Bible-believing Christians are ill-prepared to face that deterioration. This radio program is dedicated to preparing God's people to meet the challenges of the Day, and to encourage obedience to the Word of God in being separated from worldliness and false doctrine.
The moral bankruptcy of our society is well-documented.

Few people understand why we have become morally bankrupt. However, when we look at society through the eyes of God, through the Bible, we can easily see why we are facing the unprecedented troubles today. This study of America through the eyes of God is what we will always do try to here; stay with us for some eye-opening truths.

Since the beginning of our radio program, we have been showing you an America of which most of you were unaware. We have shown how this nation has rejected our original foundation of Judeo-Christian values and had replaced them with actual Satanic values. This single act has resulted in many other problems with which we are now struggling: Divorce and the breakup of the traditional family, drugs, alcohol, crime of every type, the acceptance of homosexuality, and many others. For this dramatic denial of our original Christian values, America richly deserves God's physical judgment.

Also from the beginning, we have shown how America is leading the world into the New World Order, which is the Biblical Great Tribulation. As we know, the Bible calls the Great Tribulation the greatest time of God's judgment upon the entire world that mankind has ever seen, coupled with the most murderous campaign of extinction ever carried out by any leader anytime or anywhere. Of course, this leader is the Anti-Christ, the one whom the New Agers call Maitreya.

If we are truly at the end of the Age as we believe we are, we know we are headed for massive judgment from God. And finally, we know that the New World Order plans to reorganize the world into 10 Super-Nation states immediately after officially establishing the United Nations as the One-World Government. This act will be the literal fulfillment of the prophecy of 10-toes (Daniel 2:28-48) and the 10-kings prophecy (Daniel 7:1-28). God foretells in these prophecies that three of these 10 nations will immediately be destroyed after the world is reorganized. This destruction is so complete, it sounds like war, which is consistent with God's revelations concerning the events of the Great Tribulation.

According to the New World Order reorganization plan, America will be part of the North American Super-Nation, along with Canada and Mexico. Will America be one of these three super-nations which are destroyed? Today, we will show you, in detail, that America may be the Economic Babylon of Revelation 18. We believe this prophecy fits this country exactly, so precisely that it could refer to no other nation on the earth today.

Revelation 18 describes destruction by fire--God's fire--of "Babylon the Great", an evil system that has greatly stirred God's wrath.

We need to compare the "Babylon" of Chapter 17 and the Babylon of Chapter 18. These two Babylons are not the same for following reasons:
  1. `And after these things...' (18:1). The events described here will not take place until after the events of Chapter 17 have been fulfilled.
  2. Names in the two chapters are different. The `Babylon' in Chapter 17:5, is named `Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots.' We know this Babylon is religious by the words `Mystery' and `Mother of Harlots'. But, the term in Chapter 18:2 is merely `Babylon the Great'. The Babylon in Chapter 18 is a commercial Babylon.
  3. Babylon, the harlot of Chapter 17, will be destroyed by the kings (rulers) of the earth. The Babylon of Chapter 18 will be destroyed by God's cataclysmic judgments.
  4. The Babylon of Chapter 17 will be destroyed by the kings of the earth, who rejoice in her destruction. But, in Chapter 18, the kings and the merchants of the earth lament and weep for the destroyed Babylon. (18:15-19) 2
  5. Finally, common sense tells us that, once something is destroyed, it is gone. For the Babylons of Chapter 17 and 18 to be the same, the system would have to be destroyed twice. This makes no sense whatever.
Now let us begin our study, verse by verse.


(18:1) "And AFTER these things, I saw another angel come down from heaven, having GREAT power; and the earth was filled with his glory." God has evidently given a special power, to this angel--hence, the words "having great power".


(18:2) "And he cried mightily with a strong voice, `Babylon the great is fallen, and is become the (resort) of (demons), and the (dwelling place) of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird.'"

This Babylon has become thoroughly inhabited by Satan and his demons. Remember our earlier discussions of such disgusting, vile American sins, the very nature of which are filled with demons and their activity? These sins have become so pervasive that God is finally moved to physical judgment.

This Nation Is THE CENTRAL NATION In The World.

(18:3) "For all nations have drunk of the wine and the wrath of her (passionate unchastity), and the (leaders) of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the (businessmen) of the earth (have become) rich through the abundance (excessive luxury) of her delicacies."

This is another powerful, overflowing statement. This city/country is THE CENTRAL nation in the world at this time.
  • Businessmen of other nations have become excessively, wantonly, filthy rich in their trade with Babylon.
  • Babylon must be THE richest nation on earth.
  • Babylon must possess an abundance of cash and must be so willing to spend it, that this process enriches the leaders and the businessmen of the world.
  • Babylon must be a consumer country without equal, repeatedly buying, using, discarding, and buying again.
  • Many Babylonian citizens must also buy merchandise which they do not need. automobiles, T.V. sets, VCR's, homes, furs, expensive clothing, toys, and yachts.
Consider LEADERSHIP. Babylon is clearly the world leader in two areas symbolically mentioned. (1) Wine--values, ideas, culture. (2) `Delicacies' are commercial. The world has reached this point--with America.

The New Age editor of "USA Today" describes this trend:

Global communications, universal trends, and common aspirations are making us more alike than we are different. We gradually are becoming one world.

More and more people are:
  • Eating the same foods.
  • Reading the same books.
  • Watching the same movies.
  • Listening to the same music.
  • Enjoying the same sports.
  • Sharing the same dreams and drives.
  • We share technology...
  • We share high-speed transportation..."
"Much of the common ground comes from the GLOBAL SPREAD of U.S. pop culture--which has become EVERYBODY'S culture. ...It's a WORLDWIDE network of shared experience." 3
"USA culture has become a WORLDWIDE culture..." 4

The Biblical definition of `idolatry': I John 5:21, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols--false gods," Literally means, from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of SUBSTITUTE for Him that would take FIRST place in your life.

What is it that the USA has exported to all the nations of the world? We have exported our popular culture, with its values of supremacy of self, and of satisfying oneself completely, instantly. We have exported to the entire world our god of self.

Read the full article at - http://www.cuttingedge.org/ce1038.html

Understanding the Nephilim and their Role in Bible Prophecy

Pretty good background piece provided below by Tim McHyde.  I would say that the term "demon" as used in scripture infers a much larger background origin than he lists here, but it's a good article all the same.  Few realize how prevalent the "gigantes" have in last days prophecy.
The "mighty" nephilim giants of Genesis 6 are gone, but Revelation describes their reappearance to play a major role in the end times. Despite this, few Christians know anything about the Nephilim—nor would they want to given the scary details of these actual monsters. Without facing this shocking level of evil and abomination that God has chosen to allow, you can’t fully understand end time prophecy or even God’s ways. If you are brave, it’s time to understand the Nephilim in the Bible and conquer your fear of monsters.
By Tim McHyde

Real Monsters: Giants, Demons, and Fallen Angels

Most of us stopped being scared of monsters once we left childhood and learned that, like Santa Claus, these scary creatures are fantasy. They exist only in children's imagination, legends, Greek mythology and movies like Poltergeist—not reality.  However, if you (as a believer) stop to read the entire Bible, you may be forced to reconsider that reassuring thought. The OT and NT have accounts of several varieties of these real life monsters:
  • Giants: Even casual Christians are aware that David fought a nine foot giant named Goliath. Probably only a minority realize that the Promised Land was filled with giants, the bad news of which made up the the "evil report" thta the ten unfaithful spies of the land scared the children of Israel with.
  • Demons: Most Christians also know that the New Testament tells of how Jesus and the apostles had to contend with demons, also known as ghosts or poltergeists. The NT gives no explanation as to their origin and purpose. They are just treated as an everyday part of life, responsible for as much as one quarter of the sicknesses that Jesus healed.
  • Fallen Angels: Let's not forget Satan. He's an evil or fallen angel who cast one one third of the angels to earth in revolt against God (Rev 12:3).
There is one other biblical monster which the typical Christian has probably missed: the "nephilim." Despite its obscurity, we shall see that the nephilim are a key to understanding how all of the above are connected and also aspects of end time Bible prophecy such as the locusts, Antichrist/Beast and False Prophet, and "the abyss." It also may explain why there are persistent reports of UFOs and alien life in the world today.

Who Are the Nephilim?

The nephilim are one of the more mysterious and disturbing topics of the Bible. The word nephilim only appears twice in the Bible. Here are the two passages:
Genesis 6:1-4 (HCSB) — 1 When mankind began to multiply on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of mankind were beautiful, and they took any they chose as wives for themselves. 3 And the LORD said, “My Spirit will not remain with mankind forever, because they are corrupt. Their days will be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth both in those days and afterward, when the sons of God came to the daughters of mankind, who bore children to them. They were the powerful men of old, the famous men.
Nephilim literally means "fallen ones." But what are they and what made them powerful and famous? Early interpreters believed them to be giants. Nephlim was translated as "giants" (gigantes) by most ancient Bible verions such as the Greek Septuagint ("gigantes") and Latin Vulgate ("gigentes"). The other occurrence of nephilim bears that conclusion out. It is found in the "evil report" that the ten unfaithful spies gave of the Promised Land. Note that unlike the first account:
Numbers 13:32-33 (HCSB) — 32 So they gave a negative report to the Israelites about the land they had scouted: “The land we passed through to explore is one that devours its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of great size. 33 We even saw the Nephilim, there—the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim! To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and we must have seemed the same to them.”
The Nephilim are said to be the source of the Anak. As the context indicates, the Anak were one of the races of giants in the Bible who could view the Israelites as ants in comparison. Quite fittingly, "anak" (ענק) is the word for giant in modern Hebrew.  Just as with the rapture timing question, not everyone agrees on what the Nephlim were. Just as the majority of Christians believe in a pretrib rapture, I'd bet the majority of Christians doubt the nephlim reallly are giants or that the "sons of God" who parented them are angels. Just like the idea of a post-trib rapture, it's too scary for the average Christian to believe that God would allow such ghastly horrors as evil angels to roam freely and create freakish monsters. But as we shall see, just as God is allowing us to be on the earth for the Great Tribulation, he is allowing us to be on the earth with living, breathing monsters.

Who Are "The Sons of God?"

The identity and nature of the nephilim is indeed greatly complicated by the ambiguous term used for their procreators, the "sons of God." Just who are they?  It's helpful to recognize that in the biblical usage, the term "sons of God" (benei HaElohim) refers to only direct creations of God such as Adam (Lk 3:38) and the angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). You and I have not yet "become the sons of God" (John 1:12). When we are rebirthed by God into glorified spirit bodies at the rapture or resurrection, then we shall be at last (Rom 8:19). The following passage makes it crystal clear that we become sons of God "like the angels" in the resurrection:
Luke 20:36 (HCSB) — For they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are sons of God, since they are sons of the resurrection.
Since glorified humans did not exist in the time of Genesis 6, that means the sons of God referred to there must be the angels. This, by the way, is just how the Greek Septuagint translators rendered the term before Christ. Angels there makes perfect sense in context because of how the "sons of God" is a term of contrast to the "daughters of men. It's describing something different from and much more noteworthy than "the sons of men" and the "daughters of men" mixing as they do every day since Adam and Eve. That is not noteworthy. Finally, angels mating with humans is the best explaination for why the offspring were so "powerful" and "renown."

How Can Angels Have Sex if They "Don't Marry" (Mt 22:30)?

Now that you can see from the Bible that the sons of God are in fact the fallen angels, there are many questions and objections that may come to mind. Is such a thing even possible? Would God allow it? If so, why?  A frequently raised objection to this idea of how the nephilim came from sex between angels and women comes in these word of Jesus:
Matthew 22:30 (HCSB) — For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven.
If you analyze it carefully, you can see that Jesus' statement has nothing to do with evilangels on earth having sex. It's talking about holy angels in heaven marrying. It is proven every day on earth that sex without marriage is possible.  The Bible has plenty to say on angels. One theme is that angels can appear in various forms. Satan appeared as a serpent. Paul said Satan also appears as an angel of light. Angels also appear as humans, completely convincing ones, at that. For example, Paul said we may entertain angels unbeknownst to us (Heb 13:2). The wicked men of Sodom were so convinced they wanted to have sex with Lot's angelic guests after seeing them. They obvious took them for human, maybe even attractive at that. Abraham apparently took the three angels who visited him as "men" (at first) and offered them to a meal. And most interestingly, the angels ate the food (Gen 18:8)!  If angels look like humans, pass completely for human and are even able to eat food like humans, what else can they do? More importantly, how can we doubt that they can have sex like humans, too? I personally have no doubt that an angel could pass a complete physical if they ever submitted to it.

What Exactly Are the Nephilim? (Wasn't Jesus Technically Nephilim?)

An important point to draw from this understanding of how angels can manifest physically as they wish is that their offspring with women are not "half-angel and half-human". Nor are they part-spirit and part-human. If that were true, then one could argue that Jesus was a nephilim, too, since the Holy Spirit was said to have come upon Mary his human mother to conceive him. However, Jesus had only a human parent and only human DNA from her (Mary). (Ron Wyatt claimed that Jesus had only 23 chromosomes instead of the full set of 46 chromosomes that one would have from having two human parents.) He was completely human, "the second Adam" (1Co 15:45).  Unlike Jesus, nephilim are not produced by a spirit (in this case, of an angel) causing a woman to conceive miraculously. Nephlim are produced through two physical bodies mating just like normal humans are. It's just that for nephilim offspring, one of the parents is, let's say, an "angelic human" instead of a normal human. The key difference is that the sperm produced by the angelic human is not normal human DNA but must have the genetic modifications for creating giants. The angels can apparently manifest in their sperm whatever genetic code is needed for the creature they desire to create (not just giants as we'll see later). This produces a humanoid, not a human, nor an angelic/human hybrid.  In other words, the fallen angels were able to do genetic engineering through their God-given ability to manifest flesh as they wished.  By the way, since this offspring is not human, but humanoid, it can no more receive salvation than a gold fish can. This is important to consider for the answer below on what happens when a nephilim dies.

Read the rest of this article at - http://www.escapeallthesethings.com/nephlim-bible-prophecy.htm

Feast of Purim: Festival With A Prophecy

This year, the Jewish festival of Purim Katan (Little Purim) will be observed on the 18th of February (the 14th day of Adar I) and the full holiday of Purim is scheduled for March 20 (the 14th day of Adar II). Purim commemorates the victory of Esther and Mordecai over Haman, in the days of the Jewish exile in the Persian Empire.

In a 1991 article on Purim, Gary Stearman reminded us, “If we count the festivals, beginning with Rosh Hashanah, Purim is the tenth festival out of 22 in the Jewish calendar. Alphabetically, Rosh Hashanah is the first feast, represented by the first letter, aleph (t), the letter of “creation.” This feast signifies “the birthday of the world.” Purim corresponds with the Hebrew letter yod (h), which refers the “unseen hand of God.” Perhaps, for this reason, the name of God does not appear in the book of Esther and, therefore, can only be seen hidden in the context of the story.”
Queen Esther exposing Haman’s plot to destroy her people all across the Empire.
The Story Is Set in Persia

For some strange reason, the original story of Haman’s plot to kill the Jews takes place in the court of Ahasuerus, king of the Persian Empire. And, today, a new plot to destroy the Jews is emerging from that same country — Persia/Iran. As we shall see, there are at least three historical references implying that Persia/Iran will be the country that leads the world into the final conflicts of the Tribulation Period.

The Abrahamic Covenant

When God first established a covenant with Abraham, He said that He would “bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curseth thee” (Gen. 12:3). That curse targets those nations who become the enemies of God’s Chosen People. Whatever a nation does to hurt Israel, God will do the same to that nation. God seems to promise “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” to any nation that attempts to curse the Jews. It is God’s ultimate plan for “turning the tables on one’s enemies.”
The original biblical story takes place in the palace of King Ahasuerus at Susa in the Persian Empire. At a banquet, the king calls upon Queen Vashti to display her beauty before his guests. She refuses and through a strange turn of events the Jewish maiden, Esther, finds favor in his eyes. Eventually, she becomes his queen.

Her cousin, Mordecai, is also favored at court when he uncovers a plot to kill the king.  As a reward, those at court were told to honor him. But “Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite,” found it difficult to pay homage to a Jew. Haman was an Edomite, through Esau’s son, Amalek. Agag was the king of the Amalekites. Contrary to the direct order of God, King Saul allowed him to live after the Israelites had defeated the Amalekites.

As the story goes, Haman, a descendant of the Amalekites, developed a burning hatred for the Jews. He was made grand vizier above all other princes, and plotted to kill all the Jews, starting with Mordecai.

Haman was so anxious to annihilate the Jews that he cast lots for a whole year to determine the best time to execute his plan. The Assyrian word for lots is “puru,” which enters the Hebrew language as Purim. He built a gallows and planned to use it to make an example of Mordecai. But in the end, through a final, subtle twist of events, Haman and his sons were hanged upon that same gallows.
Haman stands as an example of the fate given to those who attempt to destroy the Jews. Down through the years, many have shared Haman’s fate. In our generation, one of the most interesting examples is that of Julius Streicher, one of the chief propagandists of the Nazi regime in World War II.

Streicher was the editor of a Nazi newspaper. As Hitler rose to power, his newspaper consistently spread a hatred for the Jews all over Europe. He was out to destroy the Jews. Like Hitler, he felt that the “final solution” to the world’s problems would be the complete annihilation of the Jewish people.
World War II ended with the defeat of Germany. Julius Streicher was captured, tried at Nuremberg and sentenced to be hung. As he walked to the gallows in preparation for execution, he uttered these final words: “Purim, 1946! Purim, 1946!” Streicher realized that he was repeating the plot of Haman. In his own way, he was belatedly acknowledging the truth of the Bible. God will always bless those who bless Israel, and curse those who curse the Jews.

The hanging of Haman was not the end of the story. Mordecai the Jew was given a place of honor by the king. His fame spread throughout all the provinces of the kingdom to such a degree that the provincial rulers feared him. And to their dismay, Ahasuerus issued a nationwide decree, stating that on the 13th day of the month Adar, the Jews could legally avenge themselves upon their enemies. Esther 9:5 tells what happened:

“Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them.”

Thereafter, the Jews began to commemorate Purim on the two days following their victory — Adar 14 and 15. The entire nation of Persia was not against the Jews, only a certain faction of their society. Thus it is today in Modern Persia. Most of the Iranians do not agree with the ruling faction of hardened enemies against Israel.

Read the rest of this article at - http://www.prophecyinthenews.com/feast-of-purim-festival-with-a-prophecy/

Iran Supreme Leader: The Shiite Islamic Messiah Is Coming To Free The World

The twelfth Imam or the Muslim version of the Antichrist (for Christians that is) is the one being discussed here.  It's amazing that all major world religions are currently watching for the coming of a savior, whether he be Jesus the Messiah (who will come after the arrival of Antichrist) for Christians, the twelfth Imam for Islam, Lord Krishna for Hindus, an avatar of Buddha for the Buddhists (often called Maitreya), etc.  The false religions are going to get what they wished for...but they will regret it...

Iran's supreme leader is promising a world free of infidels and nonbelievers with the coming of the Islamic messiah, Mahdi, a 9th-century descendant of the prophet Mohammad whom the Shiites refer to as the 12th Imam.

"The coming of Imam Zaman [Mahdi] is the definite promise by Allah," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech Wednesday on the anniversary of Mahdi's birthday at an exhibition of research and historical documents on the 12th Imam.

Khamenei said one of Allah's promises was that an Islamic revolution would come to Iran. "Who would have thought that in this sensitive region and in this important country, with a regime [run by Shah Pahlavi] and supported by the international powers, a revolution based on religion and Sharia [law] would take place?" Khamenei asked.

The Shiite clerical establishment ruling Iran believes that Iran's 1979 revolution was a precursor to the coming of Mahdi, during which all infidels will be killed and the flag of Islam will be raised in all four corners of the world.

"The caravan of humanity from the day of creation has been moving through the windings of the hard maze [of life] ... to reach an open path, [and] this open path is that of the time of the coming of Imam Mahdi," he said. "The awaiting for the coming is a hopeful and powerful wait, providing the biggest opening for the Islamic society."

The supreme leader's representative in the Revolutionary Guards, Ali Saeedi, in a meeting with Guard commanders on Friday, said the coming of Imam Mahdi cannot take place under the current circumstances, and in order for that to happen the Middle East needs to witness major changes. To create those changes, there is a need for "regional preparedness" and that the Islamic revolution in Iran "without a doubt will be connected to the worldwide revolution of Imam Mahdi."

The secret documentary "The Coming Is Upon Us," produced by the regime for the preparedness of its forces, Hezbollah and other Shiite jihadists and revealed in 2011, covers the centuries-old hadiths by Mohammad and his descendants in providing a timeline of events and what needs to happen for the coming of Mahdi.

Read more: Family Security Matters http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/detail/iran-supreme-leader-the-shiite-islamic-messiah-is-coming-to-free-the-world?f=must_reads#ixzz35FOD0GWJ

The Coming Transhumanist Degrees

by Joseph P. Farrell

In our book Transhumanism: A Grimoire of Alchemical Agendas, my co-author Dr. Scott D. de Hart and I argued that Percy Shelley’s Frankenstein could be seen as the first real modern expose of transhumanist themes, as the novel explored the relationship of technology and humanity itself. As Dr. De Hart has also pointed out in his own work Shelley Unbound, the choice of the setting of Ingolstadt as the place for the notorious Dr. Frankenstein’s experiment in creating life was no accident, as Ingolstadt was home to the historical Bavarian Illuminati, who also intended a kind of alchemical transmutation of man by sociological means.

For us, this was the key component to the modern transhumanist phenomenon: alchemy, since alchemy intended not only the transformation of base metals into gold, but also the transformation of mankind, and especially its consciousness, itself. As we also outlined in that book, the four crucial technologies of transhumanism, the so-called GRIN technologies (genetics, robotics, information-processing, and nano-technology) are instrumental in the transhumanist agenda to alter and “perfect” human nature itself.

Now, with this background in mind, consider the following story:

Australia Is Getting The World’s First Masters Degree In Biofabrication, The 3D Printing Of Body Parts

As with the emergence of any new technology, the application of 3D printing to medical prosthetics, and even eventually organ transplantation or even cloning, will require the creation of the appropriate academic programs to train people in its applications and design.

But looking beyond this, however, we can see something else looming on the horizon, and that is the creation of actual “transhumanist” studies degrees within the faculties of social sciences in universities (if indeed it is not already underway). After all, universities are primarily alchemical institutions in a sense; they seek to mold and transform human consciousness on an individual, case-by-case basis, and what better way for the transhumanist movement to advance the cultural effects of its alchemical agenda than by its wealthy individuals and corporations to endow chairs of study (which, after paying lip service to “academic freedom” will, like all such academic creations, carefully guide people into a certain general direction). Watch for this one folks, because it’s coming.

Read this article at - http://gizadeathstar.com/2014/06/transhumanist-scrapbook-coming-transhumanist-studies-degrees/

Revelation: The Fuel Project Guide (Part 36 - The Great Prostitute)

Much discussion has been made over what city, what place is Babylon.  Here's one more view.

The Evidence for Jesus

This is excellent info to arm Christians for witnessing to a people who increasingly deny the very existence of the Son of God.

By William Lane Craig
Five reasons are presented for thinking that critics who accept the historical credibility of the gospel accounts of Jesus do not bear a special burden of proof relative to more skeptical critics. Then the historicity of a few specific aspects of Jesus' life are addressed, including his radical self-concept as the divine Son of God, his role as a miracle-worker, his trial and crucifixion, and his resurrection from the dead.
"Rediscovering the Historical Jesus: The Evidence for Jesus." Faith and Mission 15 (1998): 16-26.
Last time we saw that the New Testament documents are the most important historical sources for Jesus of Nazareth. The so-called apocryphal gospels are forgeries which came much later and are for the most part elaborations of the four New Testament gospels.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t sources outside the Bible which refer to Jesus. There are. He’s referred to in pagan, Jewish, and Christian writings outside the New Testament. The Jewish historian Josephus is especially interesting. In the pages of his works you can read about New Testament people like the high priests Annas and Caiaphas, the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, King Herod, John the Baptist, even Jesus himself and his brother James. There have also been interesting archaeological discoveries as well bearing on the gospels. For example, in 1961 the first archaeological evidence concerning Pilate was unearthed in the town of Caesarea; it was an inscription of a dedication bearing Pilate’s name and title. Even more recently, in 1990 the actual tomb of Caiaphas, the high priest who presided over Jesus’s trial, was discovered south of Jerusalem. Indeed, the tomb beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is in all probability the tomb in which Jesus himself was laid by Joseph of Arimathea following the crucifixion. According to Luke Johnson, a New Testament scholar at Emory University,

Even the most critical historian can confidently assert that a Jew named Jesus worked as a teacher and wonder-worker in Palestine during the reign of Tiberius, was executed by crucifixion under the prefect Pontius Pilate and continued to have followers after his death.1
Still, if we want any details about Jesus’s life and teachings, we must turn to the New Testament. Extra-biblical sources confirm what we read in the gospels, but they don’t really tell us anything new. The question then must be: how historically reliable are the New Testament documents?

Burden of Proof
Here we confront the very crucial question of the burden of proof. Should we assume that the gospels are reliable unless they are proven to be unreliable? Or should we assume the gospels are unreliable unless they are proven to be reliable? Are they innocent until proven guilty or guilty until proven innocent? Sceptical scholars almost always assume that the gospels are guilty until proven innocent, that is, they assume that the gospels are unreliable unless and until they are proven to be correct concerning some particular fact. I’m not exaggerating here: this really is the procedure of sceptical critics.

But I want to list five reasons why I think we ought to assume that the gospels are reliable until proven wrong:

1. There was insufficient time for legendary influences to expunge the historical facts. The interval of time between the events themselves and recording of them in the gospels is too short to have allowed the memory of what had or had not actually happened to be erased.

2. The gospels are not analogous to folk tales or contemporary "urban legends." Tales like those of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill or contemporary urban legends like the "vanishing hitchhiker" rarely concern actual historical individuals and are thus not analogous to the gospel narratives.

3. The Jewish transmission of sacred traditions was highly developed and reliable. In an oral culture like that of first century Palestine the ability to memorize and retain large tracts of oral tradition was a highly prized and highly developed skill. From the earliest age children in the home, elementary school, and the synagogue were taught to memorize faithfully sacred tradition. The disciples would have exercised similar care with the teachings of Jesus.

4. There were significant restraints on the embellishment of traditions about Jesus, such as the presence of eyewitnesses and the apostles’ supervision. Since those who had seen and heard Jesus continued to live and the tradition about Jesus remained under the supervision of the apostles, these factors would act as a natural check on tendencies to elaborate the facts in a direction contrary to that preserved by those who had known Jesus.

5. The Gospel writers have a proven track record of historical reliability.

Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-evidence-for-jesus#ixzz35FLG5700

Jun 20, 2014

Blood on the Altar - The Coming War of Christian vs. Christian - Part 10

by Larry Spargimino


In Scripture, the war on true Christianity is fueled by a revived and ancient whore drunk on the blood of Martyrs. Is her spirit percolating within an "Emergent Church"?
“Babylon” is a word, place, and name that occurs very frequently in Scripture. In the book of Revelation, one out of every ten verses concerns an entity identified as “Babylon.” Two entire chapters—Revelation chapters 17 and 18—are devoted to Babylon. However, while the word is a high-frequency one, the exact identification is somewhat challenging. Mark Hitchcock gives seven clues that can help identify Babylon: 
Babylon is a literal city (Rev. 17:18).
Babylon is a city of worldwide importance and influence, probably the capital city of the Antichrist (Rev. 17:15, 18).
Babylon and the Beast (the Antichrist) are very closely connected with one another. The woman (Babylon) is pictured riding on the Beast (Rev. 17:3–5, 7).
Babylon is the center of false religion (Rev. 17:4–5; 18:1–2).
Babylon is the center of world commerce (Rev. 18:9–19).
Babylon persecutes the Lord’s people (Rev. 17:6; 18:20, 24).
Babylon will be destroyed suddenly and completely at the end of the Tribulation, never to rise again (Rev. 18:8–10, 21–24).[i]
Even among premillennialists, there is disagreement as to the precise meaning of “Babylon” in Revelation 17: 
Some see it simply as an illustration of something that is evil and diabolical, while others understand “Babylon” to be a literal restoration of an ancient city. Some Dispensationalists believe that “Mystery Babylon” is a reference to a false religious system that has been around for centuries but has become particularly evident through certain religions and religious practices.[ii] 
The religious system established at the original site of Babylon by its founder and first king, Nimrod, is the source of Babylonian religion and philosophy. With the scattering resulting from the Babel event, this religion was carried into every corner of the earth. This is why every nonbiblical religious system—and we see it today in the hodgepodge of designer religions that are proliferating the American religious scene—is pantheistic, polytheistic, astrological, and universal. Nimrod himself was a violent man. Some of the major religious movements are violent and are take-over religions desirous of taking over the planet. 
This woman of Revelation 17 “was arrayed in purple and scarlet color , and bedecked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication” (v. 4). Spiritual whoredom is associated with a defection from the truth, a willful act of embracing “other lovers.”
We notice that the woman is drunk—not with alcohol, but with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus (Rev. 17:6). These are the followers of Jesus who have died for their faith and commitment to Christ as Lord. Here we have a religious prostitute making martyrs. Sexual immorality and apostasy are linked in the Bible—the former often symbolizes the latter (Rev. 2:20–23; Ezek.16:15–43). Babylon’s suggestive beauty is irresistible. 
Her fornication has been universal and pervasive, not local or regional: “The inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Rev. 17:2). She is “the great harlot that sitteth upon many waters” (Rev. 17:1), the “waters which thou sawest, where the harlot sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (v. 15). This “harlot,” or whore, is an entity that transcends geopolitical as well as cultural, ethnic, and linguistic divisions. This suggests that the whore is more than a single person or even a single expression of religion that is against God. Only a universal false religion seems to fit the description. This is the woman who rides the Beast (Rev. 17:3). 
This great whore sits on seven hills or mountains (Rev. 17:9). Mountains are often emblematic of whole kingdoms (cf. Ps. 68:15; Dan. 2:35; Amos 4:1, 6: 1; Obad. 8–21). This all seems to describe more than one local area and is better seen as representing the universal spread of false religion. Historically, many expositors have argued that Vatican City is “that great city, which reigneth over the king s of the earth” (Rev. 17:18). Vatican City is certainly not reigning over the kings of the earth at present, nor does there seem to be much to indicate that it, in its particular denominational identification, will do so at a future time.
The language is highly fluid. In Revelation 17:3, the word “city” doesn’t necessarily mean one municipality in a limited area. Walid Shoebat cogently argues that most prophecy writers think out of a Western/European mindset, and writes: 
Bear in mind that the above verse is in Greek, and a “city” in the Bible doesn’t always denote a single place. For instance, today the nation of Israel is called Medinat Yesrael in Hebrew. In Aramaic or Arabic, the word Medinat is “a city.” In the ancient context, for example in Jeremiah, Gilead actually speaks of all of Judah as one city. The same is true for “house,” which is not a single house but all the people of Judah. “For thus says the Lord unto the king’s house of Judah; thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon; yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited.” Judah itself will be a wilderness like cities devoid of their people (Jer. 22:6).[iii] 
This seductive temptress is given an enigmatic name: “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS” (Rev. 17:5). “Babylon is probably the place from which all false religious beliefs had their beginning. From Babylon stemmed a religious rebellion that has blinded people everywhere, so that they are in opposition to the true God. Thus Babylon is a place, but it is much more.”[iv] 
“The mother of harlots” is not simply the source, but the size, of the influence of this enigmatic entity. Shoebat writes that “mother” means “the biggest” or “the greatest.” “Remember Saddam Hussein’s comments in the days leading up to [the] first Gulf War? He declared that the U.S. and Iraq were about to engage in ‘the mother of all battles.’ Of course, in typical megalomaniacal game-talk, he also declared that America was about to experience ‘the mother of all defeats.’”[v] 
This monstrous and filthy entity is “the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.” “Abominations” (bdelugma) refers to something, or someone, that is vile and detestable, that defiles and corrupts, such as “the abomination [bdelugma] of desolation” (Matt. 24:15). It is so vile that it contaminates the Temple and renders it unfit for worship. It is something nauseating to God because of its moral and spiritual filthiness. It is this “mother” from whose womb comes spiritual filthiness that has led to the death of God’s faithful servants. 
The picture being drawn in Revelation 17 is not a picture of an entity with no faith or religious belief that persecutes God’s true children; rather, it is a picture of an entity with the wrong faith that causes grief. It’s the faith of apostates. 
Some have identified the whore of Babylon as the Roman Catholic Church, because the woman sits on seven hills, identified in ancient times as the city of Rome. It is this writer’s view that much more is involved in this picture. Verse 10 proceeds to explain that the seven hills represent seven kingdoms, five of which have fallen, one that is, and one that is to come. This whore is a world system dominated by the Antichrist. At one time in the future, this whore will have control over these kings, but at some point prior to Armageddon they will turn on her and destroy her (Rev. 17:16). 
While it is always precarious to make specific designations and give specific explanations, there are various movements today within the pale of “Christendom” that are having a greater and greater resemblance to the harlot church of Revelation chapter 17.
The Whore & The Emergent Church
Worldview impacts and intersects with one’s understanding regarding the nature and definition of truth. Much of the error and confusion being taught by those in the emergent movement is due to their embracing—wittingly or unwittingly—the Hegelian dialectic. Under this thinking, truth is never final or complete, nor can it be articulated rationally. Truth is evolving. There is the thesis—an idea that is less than perfect. This leads to opposition, refinement, and restatement, known as the antithesis. As a result of this conflict in point of view and the resultant tension, the tension screams for resolution. This resolution is achieved by reaching a higher level of truth, a synthesis of the thesis and antithesis.[vi] 
In this scheme of things, truth can never reach finality. There is always some new antithesis leading to a greater refinement of truth. For emergents, they are not quite sure what to make of homosexuality, or how to think about it. Brian McLaren, in an article published on the web for Christianity Today titled “Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question: Finding a Pastoral Response,” writes: 
Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say “it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.” That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives who seem to know exactly what we should think. Even if we are convinced that all homosexual behavior is always sinful, we still want to treat gay and lesbian people with more dignity, gentleness, and respect than our colleagues do. If we think that there may actually be a legitimate context for some homosexual relationships, we know that the biblical arguments are nuanced and multilayered, and the pastoral ramifications are staggeringly complex. We aren’t sure if or where lines are to be drawn, nor do we know how to enforce with fairness whatever lines are drawn.[vii] 
John MacArthur perceptively analyzes thoughts such as these, especially as it intersects with the modern gay rights movement. The following is from a transcript of an interview between John MacArthur and Phil Johnson. 
One of the big issues is homosexuality in the Emerging Church. They don’t want to take a position on homosexuality. The Bible is not vague or obscure or oblique about homosexuality. It couldn’t be more clear. A homosexual will not inherit the Kingdom of God…that’s pretty clear. Homosexuality in Romans chapter 1 is a perversion that is manifested when it happens in a culture, begins to dominate a culture, an evidence of divine wrath and divine judgment. So the Bible is clear. They don’t want that clarity. They want to run from the light. Scripture is light, it is not darkness, but they like the darkness because their deeds are evil…this is just another way to set the Bible aside.[viii]
This tentativeness on McLaren’s part can be traced to his view of Scripture and uncertainty as to its inspiration in the classical sense of being the inspired Word of God. He is even uncomfortable with the Bible’s masculine pronouns for God: 
This is as good a place as any to apologize for my use of masculine pronouns for God in the previous sentence. You’ll notice that wherever I can, I avoid the use of masculine pronouns for God because they can give the false impression to many people today that the Christian God is a male deity.[ix] 
The Bible does not, and cannot, give us an exhaustive knowledge of God. However, while the Bible does not tell us everything that God knows, what the Bible does tell us is accurate, even in its limitations. McLaren could very well criticize the Greek New Testament on the grounds that it makes God sound like a Greek-speaking deity. 
Because the emergent view of truth is dialectical, we can agree with MacArthur that emergent theology teaches a “doctrine of Christian postmodernism.” The movement is: 
…an amorphous sort of loose-knit association of churches that have decided that there is value, there is even virtue, in uncertainty about Scripture. The bottom line in the movement is they believe that we aren’t even suppose [sic] to understand precisely what the Bible means.… It’s an attack on the clarity of Scripture and they elevate themselves as if this is some noble reality…it’s amorphous because there’s a mish-mash of approaches to this and a mish-mash of styles and things like that. But they have embraced this mystery as if it’s true spirituality. And so, it becomes celebration of mystery, a celebration of ignorance, a celebration that we can’t really know.[x] 
This “celebration of mystery” leads the emerging church into medieval, contemplative spirituality. 
They want more mystery. So they go back to medieval Catholicism and they light a bunch of candles. You know, really it smells like orthodox, Greek orthodoxy, Russian orthodoxy kind of approach, milling people. I’ve been in a Russian Orthodox Church that there’s no center, there’s no focal point, there’s no pulpit, there’s no platform. There are these guys, they swing these censors and smoke and stuff rises and these really weird smells and they just…they walk in a little parade.… And then people mill over here and they will and then these guys walk around. This goes on for like a half an hour and they’re making these weird chants.[xi] 
What The Whore Is Telling The Emergent Church About "The Atonement"
Emergent theology takes exception to the “violent view” of the atonement. The idea that God must satisfy divine justice in order to forgive sin is barbaric. It makes God look like a monster, because, they say, God cannot forgive without inflicting pain on someone, either on His Son, Jesus Christ, or the impenitent sinner. Emergents critique the traditional view of the atonement because it presents God as the “greatest existential threat to humanity.” 
Penal substitution, the traditional view, presents Christ as the substitutionary sin bearer. It makes God look like a petty, spoiled tyrant and turns many off to Christianity. Emergents don’t like the idea that Jesus had to be “beat up” so that people could go to heaven. 
Yet, Isaiah 53:5 is violent: “But he was WOUNDED for OUR transgressions, he was BRUISED for OUR iniquities” (emphasis added). Because of the Christian’s mystical union with Christ, Jesus Christ fulfills the demands of justice not for an unrelated third party, but for those identified with Him. He is our vicarious substitute. Revelation 5 reveals that a new song will be sung lauding the worthiness and glory of Christ, “for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God BY THY BLOOD out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (v. 9, emphasis added). 
The traditionalist will point out that the argument that it is unjust to punish an innocent bystander involuntarily for someone else’s sin is refuted by Scripture. Jesus Himself said that He was offering Himself to voluntarily die on the cross for the sins of the world: “Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life FOR his friends” (John 15:13, emphasis added). 
The traditional, substitutionary view is illustrated by the ritual that took place on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16). Two goats were used on that day. One was slaughtered—that signifies and illustrates propitiation. The other was released to wander in the wilderness—that is expiation. Propitiation indicates that God is justly angry over our sins. How could He not be? Propitiation requires death—but it is the death of a substitute. “For he hath made him, who knew no sin, to be sin FOR US, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21, emphasis added). 
But, as readers of the new book Blood On The Altar will learn, not only is the traditional view of the atonement rejected, but so is the return of Christ. 

[i] Mark Hitchcock, The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2012) 361–362.
[ii] Mal Couch, Gen. Ed., Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, “Babylon” (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996) 61.
[iii] Walid Shoebat, God’s War on Terror. Islam, Prophecy and the Bible (US: Top Executive Media, 2010) 292.
[iv] Mal Couch, Gen. Ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2001) 279.
[v] Shoebat, 409.
[vi] Www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?tag=let-us-reason-ministries.
[vii] January 23, 2006, www.christianitytoday.com/parse/2006/january/brian-
[viii] John MacArthur, as interviewed by Phil Johnson, “What’s So Dangerous about the Emerging Church?” Grace to You, 2006, www.gty.org/resources/sermons/GTY107.
[ix] Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004) 74.
[x] MacArthur.