No place for Christians?
There were a number of issues which came up in this election which show us which way the wind is blowing for the future of Britain. Unfortunately none of them are good news for those who would like to see the nation move forward as an independent country backed by Christian principles and faith. One of them is the question of whether Bible believing Christians are able to hold public office and express their views on moral and biblical issues in public any more.
Tim Stanley wrote an article in the Daily Telegraph (13/6/17) entitled ‘It has become politically toxic to be a Christian.’ He wrote: ‘Among the big losers of the General Election were religious conservatives. Their values were mocked and their candidates rejected. And even though a few of their number (the Democratic Unionist Party) might save the government, the price was ridicule.’
The liberal elite’s main problem with believing Christians is the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality. It now seems that all who seek public office must affirm the absolute equality of homosexuality with heterosexuality in every way. It is not enough just to keep your views on the subject to yourself. You must state that gay marriage is as good as marriage between a man and a woman, that homosexual sex acts are not sinful, but part of a lifestyle choice that is just as valid as sexual union of husband and wife, and that children in school must be taught this as part of diversity and equality teaching.
In fact diversity and equality has become a god which must be obeyed and worshipped in our society and any deviation from it punished as a thought crime which is unacceptable and unforgiveable. In this environment you are not allowed to say that homosexual practice is sinful, that sodomy is against the law of God or that the best environment to bring up a child is in a family of husband and wife committed to remain faithful to each other until ‘death us do part.’ In other words to stand for the teaching of the Bible.
The most notable casualty of this was Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats. He made known the fact that he is a ‘born again’ Christian. In other words he is not one who inherited a nominal Christian faith by having a vicar for her father like Theresa May. He is one who made a choice to accept Jesus as Saviour as an adult and was baptised on confession of his faith as a result. By and large the liberal elite hates born again Christians and will do everything they can to attack and undermine them. Anyone who challenges their almost total control of opinion making channels in the TV media (the BBC and Channel 4 in particular) and the education system is in for a kicking unless they recant and submit to the liberal left inquisition.
In fact Tim Farron did not really challenge their agenda. He said he supported equal marriage and LGBT rights, but on one occasion he failed to answer a direct question in an interview as to whether he thought that gay sex is a sin. In the run up to the election he was hounded by reporters questioning him on the subject. Channel 4’s Cathy Newman treated him as if he was a serial criminal when she interviewed him at the start of the election campaign and focused on his beliefs. The comedian David Baddiel called him a ‘fundamentalist Christian homophobe’, in other words beneath contempt. Tim finally gave in to the BBC’s Eleanor Garnier by saying he does not believe gay sex is a sin. If he had said that it is a sin, then he would never have heard the last of it and he and his party would have suffered endless negative propaganda from the media. By caving in and saying it is not a sin, he lost credibility in the eyes of other Christians who saw this as a compromise of the faith.
In this no win situation it is not surprising that after the election he resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats. In a speech to staff at the party’s London headquarters, Mr Farron said: ‘The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader. To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.’ It is impossible because being ‘progressive and liberal’ in today’s terms means that there is one group of people who are not to be tolerated, whose views you can censor, discriminate against and suppress – Bible believing Christians.
In another incident which tells you which way the wind is blowing, Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight, Andrew Turner, 63, was told to quit before the election as an MP just hours after a female16 year old A level student, who is a gay rights campaigner, reported him on social media for stating that, in his opinion, ‘homosexuality is wrong and is a danger to society’. His comments came at a ‘question and answer’ session at the ironically named Christ the King College in Newport. She asked him if he was going to attend a forthcoming ‘Gay Pride’ march. She added ‘It’s terrifying that in this age and point in our development as a society there are still people that can’t care enough about a person’s wellbeing to just accept who they are…. I thought his views had died out in the 20th Century.’
‘Conservative chief whip Gavin Williamson rang Mr Turner to establish the facts and he (Mr Turner) was told to resign. A Conservative spokesman later said: ‘We want to make clear there is no place in the party for these views.’ Probably the majority of Conservative Party members, especially in the older generation, share Mr Turner’s views on homosexuality, but apparently you can no longer hold these views if you want to represent the Conservative Party. The message is clear. You are not allowed to hold the view that ‘homosexuality is wrong’ in the 21st century, because these views apparently died out in the 20th century. If this is the case then those who believe the Bible is the inspired word of God which has a message for all time and for all people have a problem. Their views have now died out and so presumably it would be a good thing if they died out too. Significantly when Theresa May was asked if she though gay sex was sinful she replied ‘No.’ Was this the moment the election began to go badly for her?
The Labour Party had a section on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender) rights in its manifesto. It spoke of Labour’s ‘proud record of championing the fight for LGBT equality’, but said ‘there is still a long way to go on issues such as education, equal access to public services, levels of LGBT hate crime, and mental and physical wellbeing’. It promised to bring in new measures to protect transsexuals and stated that ‘Labour will bring the law on LGBT hate crimes into line with hate crimes based on race and faith, by making them aggravated offences. To tackle bullying of LGBT young people, Labour will ensure that all teachers receive initial and ongoing training on the issues students face and how to address them. And we will ensure that the new guidance for relationships and sex education is LGBT inclusive.’
Two points need to be made on this subject.
Firstly calling for LGBT hate crimes to be an aggravated offence. What is an LGBT hate crime? Publicly calling for homosexual people to be attacked and hated? From a Christian point of view that is wrong. Nor would we do it if we are truly following Jesus who taught us to love our neighbour as ourselves and even to love our enemies (those who oppose our faith). However experience has already shown that what is considered a ‘hate crime’ may in fact be stating Biblical teaching that homosexual practice is sinful, as happened in the case of the street preachers arrested in Bristol for quoting the Bible and stating that homosexual practice is sinful, which we featured in our April 2017 edition.
In this case Moses was guilty of a hate crime when he wrote in the Torah ‘You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.’ Leviticus 18.22. Paul’s words in Romans 1.24-27 even more so, especially his conclusion: ‘The men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.’
Today’s politically correct inquisitors cannot bring Moses or Paul to court, but they can do so to anyone who quotes them and says their words should be taken as holy scripture inspired by God and that our lives should conform to God’s word, not today’s non morality.
Secondly ensuring sex education is LGBT inclusive. Actually I thought it already is. However Labour clearly wants to enforce yet more homosexual and transgender indoctrination on our children and to ensure that teachers are trained to do this. Since this is essentially an antichristian agenda it is a way of forcing Bible believing Christians out of the teaching profession.
If you want to know how this is being worked out in practice I recommend a book produced by Wilberforce Publications Ltd, ‘What are they teaching our children?’ edited by Lynda Rose (available from us for £12 + £3 postage and packing). The book is a series of articles by various authors showing how sex education is being used to promote the view that there are no moral absolutes and constraints to sexual behaviour and that homosexuality and heterosexuality are two equal options for sexual behaviour. It also shows how secular humanism is being promoted at all levels of society, but particularly in education, with the aim of curbing Christian influence and removing principles which are upheld in the Bible as good for the individual and society.
One of the main ways this is being enforced is through the Equality Act which came into force in September 2010. On page 93 of this book we read: ‘Central to the Act is a public sector equality duty for nine protected characteristics which include amongst others, gender reassignment (i.e. transexuality), sex and sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, disability and race. Sexual orientation includes orientation towards persons of the same sex, persons of the opposite sex, or persons of either sex. Direct discrimination occurs when one person discriminates against another because of a protected characteristic, where the other person is treated less favourably than how others would be treated.’ On page 103-4 of the book we read, ‘A hate crime is any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation.’
Commenting on this the author, Anthony Busk, writes, ‘In the overall context this equates with ‘homophobia’. For the homosexual pressure group Stonewall any discrimination automatically contains a major hostile component, equating to hatred. The allegedly offended person, under these definitions, need only to have a perception that the crime or incident is motivated by hostility or prejudice. … Should adults express opinions felt by another party to be in any way critical (i.e. saying that homosexual acts are sinful), accusations of bullying may quickly follow. … If for example a pupil engages in conversation with a staff member who explains principles of traditional marriage, that child may decide that he or she is offended and even call in the police.’
In fact something like this happened to me back in 1988, when I was doing some supply teaching at a very progressive comprehensive school in north London. A girl asked me ‘What do you think of gays and lesbians?’ I gave a standard Christian answer that the people are loved of God, but that the practice is against God’s law and that sex should be confined to a committed relationship between a man and a woman who are married to each other. Her reply was, ‘How did they let you in here? They don’t have teachers like you in this school. I could report you for this.’ In fact nothing came of it but it was a pointer to me about which way society is going and my worst fears of the outcome are now being played out in front of us.
Another chapter in the book by Brian Hadley is entitled ‘Education or Indoctrination? An assessment of CHIPS (Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools). According to the author ‘CHIPS indoctrinates rather than educates the current generation of primary schoolchildren and so revolutionises British society, culture and values. … CHIPS aims to change the attitudes and resultant behaviours of children, both while at primary school and beyond. In particular CHIPS promotes the full acceptance of same-sex lifestyles, behaviours and family structures.’ (page 123).
‘The new religion of ‘Equality’ with its own fundamentalist belief system is the product of decades of secular humanism and cultural relativism. … It is necessary to consider how the sexual morality of ‘Equality’ sits with that on which British society has hitherto been structured, namely Christianity. The established Christian belief is founded on consistent evidence, woven into the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, that sexual intimacy outside one man / one woman lifelong faithful marriage, is wrong and not to be encouraged. … It is what Christians have always believed.’
‘It is why Christianity is the principle target of ‘sexual rights’ activists, because it tells people who engage in intimate behaviours (whether opposite sex or same sex) outside real marriage that such behaviours are wrong. CHIPS is an example of how ‘Equality’, seemingly motivated by anti-Christian hatred, is being used to deconstruct established Judeo-Christian values and especially Christian sexual morality. CHIPS fails to teach, let alone promote the established family structure of a married man and woman raising children of which they are each a biological parent (indeed ‘King and King’ is the only lesson in the whole of CHIPS where marriage is mentioned, and then in the context of same-sex ‘marriage’. CHIPS threatens society by weakening the traditional family, usurping parental authority, so increasing state control and increasing the exposure of children to risks of serious physical, mental and psychological harm, all to nudge society towards an atheist, cultural Marxist utopia.’ (page 126-7).
He goes on to show how similar programmes, allegedly to combat homophobic bullying, are being used in the USA, Canada and Australia to change the way young people think and behave. Robin Perelle, editor of ‘Xtra – Canada’s Gay and Lesbian News’ writes, ‘the gay rights movement is shifting norms in Canada. And that comes with a message to those who won’t evolve: your outdated morals are no longer acceptable and we will teach your kids the new norms.’ American Education analyst Candi Cushman has described how and why activists want to capture the hearts and minds of the next generation and so control the future of society: ‘After all gay activists realise that if they can capture the hearts and minds of the next generation, they will for all practical purposes have won the culture war. Problem is they still find their agenda being blocked by a formidable force – parents and people of faith who don’t want tax-payer funded schools transformed into indoctrination centres. So they have latched on to a more subtle tactic – infiltrating classrooms under the cover of ‘anti-bullying’ or ‘safe schools’ initiatives.’ Roz Ward of Australia’s ‘Safe Schools Coalition’ said, ‘Safe schools coalition is about supporting gender and sexual diversity. … Marxism offers the hope and the strategy needed to create a world where human sexuality, gender and how we relate to our bodies can blossom in extraordinarily new and amazing ways that we can only imagine today, because Marxism has a theory of social change.’ (page 130-132).
In the UK the success of the gay rights programme in education can be seen by the fact that most of our universities have become like one party states, where the only acceptable view you can express publicly is one which supports diversity, homosexual and transgender rights and is generally supportive of an extreme left wing Marxist programme. Any deviation from this and you will be ‘no platformed’, denied the right to speak at meetings held on university premises. ‘Safe spaces’ have been created so that no student will be exposed to any contrary opinion which might offend their delicate sensibilities. As a result they will almost all vote Labour as the agent of change to bring in a Marxist type of society which they think will bring them freedom and happiness. In fact it will bring poverty, dictatorship and the suppression of biblical Christian views and those who hold them.
Jeremy Corbyn emerged much stronger than anyone imagined he would from the election, not yet in a position to rule the country, but secure in his control of the Labour Party with the growing influence of the hard left Marxist Momentum group behind him. Labour activists skilfully used social media to get young people to vote, offering them an end to tuition fees and a way out of the present situation in which most of them have no hope of escaping a future of debt and no prospect of ever being able to buy a home of their own. Not that Labour will be able to deliver on their promises, because putting the Labour manifesto into practice would most likely mean economic collapse and social crisis for the many and the few.
Corbyn has boasted that he will be in Downing Street by Christmas, which is quite possible as Labour has the support of the BBC which uses every opportunity to damn the government and back Labour. John McDonnell has urged union militants to put a million protesters on the streets in an attempt to oust Theresa May. The Shadow Chancellor called on left wing activists to turn a union organised march on Parliament in July into a mass protest. The self confessed Marxist, who has previously backed ‘insurrection’ against the State, said direct action was needed to engineer the government’s downfall.
We could be on a very bumpy road in the days ahead. We have already seen increased Islamist terrorism, sudden disasters like the Grenfell Tower fire and increasing violence and disorder on the streets of our cities. Now there is confusion over Brexit and concern that it may not happen at all if the hidden controllers behind our society have their way. We also see the possibility of a Labour government backed by Marxist forces coming to power, which would bring the nation to economic ruin if its manifesto commitments are carried out.
All of this is the sign of a society under judgement. There are enough reasons given in this article about why God is angry with our society, especially in the corruption of the young. Jesus said, ‘Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.’ Matthew 18.6. Someone once said that if this were to be carried out literally, there would be a severe shortage of millstones!
Jesus also said that the days before His second coming would be as in the days of Noah and the days of Lot:
‘And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.’ Luke 17.26-30.
In the days of Noah we read that ‘the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually … The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.’ Genesis 6.5-11. In the days of Lot we read of the gross sexual immorality of Sodom, in particular aggressive homosexuality imposing itself upon society (Genesis 19). In both situations God brought judgement through the flood of Noah and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. He sent out a warning of the judgement to come and also provided a place of safety and a way of escape to those who found favour in His eyes.
Today we see the signs of God’s judgement about to fall on our society. It is time to put our trust in the Lord Jesus as the only hope for our land and our world and to warn people to flee the wrath to come by turning to God in repentance and faith in Jesus the Messiah who has come once to redeem us and who is coming again soon to save His people and to judge the world in righteousness.
The vulnerability of the Internet.
Since its beginning in the 1990s the World Wide Web has developed into the massive global institution of the Information Age, the Internet and all the electronic communications systems that go with it. This has become vital to the functioning of almost every aspect of human activity in the developed world. Finance, transportation, food supply, media and communications, health services, government, police services, almost anything you can think of depends on computers linked to one another via the Internet.
The massive increase in information accumulating all the time lines up with the prophecy of Daniel 12.4: ‘But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.’ We see the increase in travel (many shall run to and fro) and information (knowledge shall increase). 200 years ago, before the Industrial Revolution, the fastest anyone could travel anywhere in the world was the speed of a horse. If you wanted to send a message you to someone again the fastest you could get it to them was to write it down and send it by someone riding a horse. Today you can travel around the world in 24 hours and speak or write to someone instantaneously in any country you wish to. All of this has made the world a much more inter-connected place and all of it depends on the technology functioning 24/7.
However this wondrous system is vulnerable to attacks from malicious people, or malfunctioning. The attack on May 12th using the ‘ransomware’ virus spread chaos around the world locking out computers that run Britain’s hospital network, Germany’s national railway and scores of other companies, factories and government agencies worldwide. Computers crashed in Russia affecting the government, banks, cellphone operators and railways. Over 150 countries and over 100,000 organisations were affected by the attack. Experts described this as ‘only just beginning’ as hackers use a ‘malware atomic bomb’ to turn hijacked machines into infectious ‘zombies’. Russian official Frants Klintsevich described the attack as ‘cyberterrorism, a direct threat to the normal functioning of society, and important life-support systems.’
Without the Internet, vast numbers of businesses would not be able to function normally, and an extended outage would cause financial markets all over the planet to start crashing. Cyber attacks on one country can come from another country on the other side of the world, over whom the affected country have little or no control. As this is a world wide problem for the World Wide Web, it really needs a world wide solution.
Could this be a world wide authority with power to govern the Internet?
In September 2016 the United States government ended direct US government oversight over the Internet and committed this to ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). ICANN has described itself as ‘just a technical coordination organisation’ that runs the global infrastructure of the Internet. However at the time of the handover of control by the US, many expressed the fear that it would end up in the power of another agency, organisation or foreign power, who would then use their influence to control the Internet.
Given the threat to the Internet from cyber terrorism it may be considered that it would be a good thing if such a global power did take it over and impose some kind of government control over the Internet which can police and control its activity. One way to control it involves being able to monitor who is accessing it and what they are doing when they are using it. At present you can hide your identity behind numerous passwords and fake IDs. One way to prevent this would be to set up a system whereby you need some kind of biometric ID in order to access the Internet. This could be a biometric patch attached to a person’s hand or a microchip and eliminate the need for passwords. It would also make it impossible to hide your identity by using fake IDs and multiple passwords. By this means any communication can be traced back to the person responsible. Anyone who misbehaves, attempting to send malware or any form of virus would be easily traceable and could then be cut off from using the net. Access denied.
Since there are also ideas and practices which are universally considered harmful to society, like spreading of terrorist propaganda, child pornography or criminal fraud involving money, anyone found engaging in these activities could also have access denied. After the horrific Manchester terrorist bomb by ISIS, Theresa May urged world leaders at the G7 Summit to crack down on social media giants that refuse to cooperate on terror. She demanded action in four key areas – forcing firms to develop technology to automatically remove hate-filled material; requiring them to ban users who post or share extremist material and report it to the authorities.
That sounds a good idea in relation to terrorism, but what happens if they start banning users who express other ideas which may be considered harmful by some? For years, Islamic nations have been pressing the United Nations to pass non-binding resolutions condemning ‘defamation of religion’ (by which they mean any criticism of Islam, the Koran or Mohammed). Now a new effort is underway. ‘The aim is not simply to remove anything posted on the Internet deemed offensive to Islam, but to find out who posted it and prosecute them,’ says the non-profit charity Barnabas Aid, which assists persecuted Christians globally.
Pakistan’s interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, has already said he wants to extradite anyone overseas accused of Islamic blasphemy, and is asking Internet providers to tell them the names of people posting such material. Reuters reported that Khan has boasted that his nation is getting cooperation from Facebook to have such material on social media ‘removed or blocked – and that anyone posting such material be punished. The end result of this could be that anyone writing an article criticising Islam or sharing the Gospel message with Muslims may be accused of Islamophobia and: ‘Access denied.’ In fact I have just looked up a website called ‘religion of peace’ which exposes the violence in Islam and found a notice saying ‘Access blocked.’
Another big ‘No, no’ in politically correct thinking today is saying that homosexual practice is sinful. One Christian ministry that does that and offers to bring the message of salvation and new life to practicing homosexuals, is Pure Passion Ministries directed by Dr David Kyle Foster. This ministry produces videos that help sexual abuse victims, people who have been sex trafficked, those who are addicted or in any other condition that causes them distress. They also produced videos showing how homosexuals can be set free from their practices, offering a cure through the Holy Spirit working in their lives as they repent of sin and turn to Jesus as Saviour and Lord. They were told to remove these videos because they go against ‘Vimeo Guidelines’ by showing a ‘demeaning attitude toward specific groups’. An email from Sean M. who explained: Your statement equating homosexuality to ‘sexual brokenness’ betrays the underlying stance of your organisation. To put it plainly, we don’t believe that homosexuality requires a cure and we don’t allow videos on our platform that espouse this point of view.’ Vimeo’s message is clear: If you have same-sex attractions, whatever their cause, you must embrace them, if not celebrate them.
Kyle Foster responded by describing this as ‘pure religious bigotry and censorship.’ Vimeo is forbidding you from agreeing with the Bible when it comes to human sin and brokenness. Vimeo is forbidding you from preaching the gospel of transformation when it comes to homosexuality. Vimeo is engaging in blatant, unapologetic, aggressive anti-Christian censorship.’
Is this the shape of things to come? As we reported in our Autumn 2016 magazine in July 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a measure forbidding any kind of evangelisation outside of churches, which some observers have called one of the most restrictive moves in ‘post-Soviet history.’ The law blocks the sharing of faith in any place that is not a government-sanctioned house of worship. In the event of Russia and any country like it being involved in a global government of the Internet would they not want to see Christian evangelism blocked on the net?
If you believe that there is one God and one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ – Access denied.
Coming back to the thought I raised earlier about a global authority to monitor the Internet, I came across an article entitled ‘Can Facebook fix its own worst bug?’ in the New York Times (25 April 2017). Facebook founder and multi-billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg, proposed a ‘global superstructure’ to ‘get humanity to the next level’ in order to solve problems like ‘preventing pandemics from spreading or ending terrorism.’ In effect he is looking for some kind of global institution like the UN to control the Internet and use it for the kind of global institution building that the Western world engaged in after World War II. All of which sounds a bit like a global government. The New York Times article gives the impression that Mark Zuckerberg is offering to set up such a structure and run it!
One of the greatest needs for the proper functioning of this ‘global superstructure’ is a means of being able to verify a person’s identity. If people are required to have some kind of biometric ID in order to access the Internet and all activities related to it (including all financial transactions), could this be the way in which humanity arrives at the 666 system of Revelation 13?
‘He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.’ Revelation 13.16-18.
It appears that the global Internet and communications system must be functioning at the time when this prophecy is to be fulfilled, which is during the seven year the Great Tribulation period. By this time the world system will be under the power of the Antichrist who will rise to power in the first half of this period. He will reach the summit of his power at the midpoint of the tribulation when this system will be put in place causing people to receive the mark of the beast (666) which they will need to have in order to buy and sell. Receiving the mark will mean submission to and worship of the Antichrist as god and will result in eternal damnation according to Revelation 14.9-11.
Revelation 18 describes the fall of Babylon, representing the antichrist world system, when the trading system will completely collapse just before the physical return of the Lord Jesus Christ. By this time Access denied will be the message on all computer screens and the house built on the sand of modern world technology will fall down never to be rebuilt. Then the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever! (Revelation 11.15). Let us now be ready for His coming by repenting of our sins and believing in Jesus as our Saviour and Lord.
What did Paul tell the Thessalonians?
The Book of Acts chapter 17 tells us about Paul’s brief visit to Thessalonica in northern Greece when a number of Jews and Greeks were persuaded by him to accept Jesus as the Messiah who died for their sins and rose again from the dead to give them eternal life. Persecution was raised up against Paul and he had to flee for his life (Acts 17.5-9), but he left behind a church which stood the test of opposition and continued in the faith which Paul had taught them. Paul was delighted to hear from Timothy whom he sent to visit them that they were growing in the faith and that the message of the Gospel had gone out through them into the surrounding area. (1 Thessalonians 1.2-7, 3.6-10). He wrote them two epistles, recorded in the New Testament to encourage and instruct them in the faith.
It is clear that in the short time that he was with them he had taught them many things, including the Gospel message and the hope of the return of the same Messiah. On the subject of the return of the Lord Jesus, he has a great deal to say, with a reference to it in every chapter of 1 Thessalonians. He reminds them how they ‘turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God’ and now ‘wait for His Son from heaven whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come’ (chapter 1. 9-10). He describes them as ‘our hope … in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming’ (2.19). He encourages them to love and holiness ‘before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all the saints’ (3.13). These verses tell us that Paul wanted the Thessalonians to believe that there would be a literal return of the Lord and that the saints (which means all true believers in Jesus, who are born again of the Holy Spirit) should look forward to it and be ready for it.
The main passage which deals with this subject is chapter 4.13 to chapter 5.11. This is the famous ‘rapture’ passage in which Paul gives his clearest teaching anywhere in the Bible about what will happen to believing Christians at the time of the coming of the Lord. It appears that the Thessalonians had a concern about those of their number who had ‘fallen asleep’ (i.e. died) since Paul’s visit. They wanted to know what would happen to them in the event of the Lord returning. Would they see them again, would they be resurrected along with those who are alive at His coming? The fact that they were asking this question suggests that they had an idea of the imminent coming of the Lord, in other words that it could come at any time.
Paul’s answer shows that they do have a hope of seeing their loved ones who have died in faith in Jesus again:
‘For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.’ 1 Thessalonians 4.13-18.
What he writes here is not his own opinion, but ‘by the word of the Lord’ which means it has the highest authority possible in its communication. What he tells them is that first the dead in Christ will rise and then those who are still alive at the time of the Lord’s coming. It appears the two groups will come together in a moment as the Lord comes to take them.
1 Thessalonians 4 describes the Lord coming from heaven, which means the third heaven, the dwelling place of God. He enters the atmospheric heavens, not the earth at this point, where he meets the believing church in the air. He comes with a shout, the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God. The shout comes from the Lord and is a cry of command to raise the dead and gather the living saints together. His word has authority and power to raise the dead and to gather all the living saints together. They come together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. The clouds may mean the glory cloud that surrounds the Lord or it may mean going out of this present earthly environment into the heavenly realm. Clearly if this is going to happen there must be some change in this mortal body we are now living in otherwise we would not be able to live.
This is why Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15.50-54:
‘Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’
This is the same event as described in 1 Thessalonians 4. It tells us that those caught up in the rapture of the church, at the sound of the trumpet, will immediately experience a change in this mortal body. We will still be the person we are now, but in a new body, which is without corruptibility (sickness or the ageing process) and is immortal (able to live in a new and changed environment). This change will be permanent and eternal and cannot be reversed.
There is clearly a difference between this event and the coming of the Lord to the earth in Revelation 19. In 1 Thessalonians 4 the meeting takes place in the air when the Lord comes for the church. In Revelation 19 the Lord comes with the saints to the earth. If we combine 1 Thessalonians 4 with John 14.1-3, the Lord takes the saints to heaven where they go before the judgement seat of Christ: ‘For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.’ 2 Corinthians 5.10. This judgement is for believers only, not for unbelievers. It is not a judgement for heaven or hell, but for rewards for service in this life. The judgement for unbelievers is the Great White Throne judgement (Revelation 20.11-15), which follows the end of this world and is for unbelievers only who are then cast into the lake of fire.
Those taken in the rapture then go to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19.6-10) where they are united with the Lord and all those redeemed through faith in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. All of this is taking place outside of time on earth and in eternity. They then return with Christ to the earth at the last battle (Armageddon), being part of the ‘armies in heaven clothed in fine linen white and clean’ (Revelation 19.13).
1 Thessalonians 5 tells us the rapture will happen unexpectedly as a thief in the night:
‘But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labour pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.’
Just as the thief does not announce the exact time of his coming to rob the household, so the Lord does not announce the exact time of His coming to take His people to be with Himself. The advice for believers therefore is to watch and be sober, ready for the coming of the Lord Jesus at any time. Since this coming will be unannounced it follows that there are no previous signs which have to happen before the event takes place. Matthew 24.36-44 parallels this, speaking of an unknown date (verse 36) at which the Lord comes unexpectedly as a thief in the night, when life is going on as normal (people eating and drinking etc) and suddenly one is taken and one is left. The passage concludes, ‘Therefore you also be ready for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’ For more on this subject ask for our article ‘Matthew 24 and the Rapture of the Church’ in our Spring 2013 edition.
The event of 1 Thessalonians 4-5 comes at any time without any prior warning. That is why we need to be ready at all times for the coming rapture of the church or the Lord taking us in our death. By contrast the second coming of Christ to the earth cannot come until certain events have taken place.
Matthew 24.29-31 tells us: ‘Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.’
This event can only come after the great tribulation (‘after the tribulation of those days’). This means all the events that happen between chapter 6 and chapter 18 of the book of Revelation must take place before it can happen. These chapters describe the coming of the Antichrist to power, the judgements that fall on the earth in the seal, trumpet and bowl judgements, the Mark of the Beast system of chapter 13 and the gathering of the nations to the last battle at Armageddon. According to Matthew 24.29-31 there must be the supernatural darkness with the sun and the moon being darkened, accompanied by Sign of the Son of Man appearing in heaven. This event will be visible to all who remain alive at this time: ‘Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.’ Revelation 1.7.
If you survive to the end of the tribulation period, see the supernatural darkness and the sign of the Son of Man, how much of a surprise would it be if the next thing that happens is that Jesus appears? At this point in time life will not be going on as normal and no one will be saying ‘Peace and Safety’! Even the wicked will know that Jesus is coming and their time is up: ‘And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Revelation 6.16-17.
In the event of Matthew 24.31, there is a difference from what happens in 1 Thessalonians 4. One similarity is the sound of a trumpet, however in this event it is not the Lord’s shout which gathers the people, but the Lord sending the angels to ‘gather his elect from one end of heaven to the other.’ In the parallel passage in Mark 13 they are gathered ‘from the farthest part of the earth’. Concerning the gathering of the elect on earth, the question is, ‘Where are they gathered to?’ There are two possibilities for this.
In Ezekiel 20.33-44 we read of the Lord the gathering Israel, (by which we understand all Jews remaining on earth at this time) making them pass ‘under the rod’ by which they are judged about whether or not they will enter the Promised Land in the Messianic kingdom. The rebels are purged out and will not enter the land of Israel for the Millennial kingdom, while the elect or the redeemed will enter in and serve the Lord.
In Matthew 25.31-34 we read that ‘When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.’ The sheep, the elect from among the Gentiles, will enter into the Millennial kingdom, while the goats, the non elect will be cast off the earth and await the final judgement at the Great White Throne.
This gathering of the elect will be a supernatural event accompanied by the action of angels, causing people all over the earth to be removed from one place to another. This will not involve their death or their being given a new body at this time. Acts 8.39-40 shows that the Lord is able to supernaturally transport a person from one place to another in this body without it involving their death. The elect are those who are saved, Jews and Gentiles, during the tribulation and survive it.
If Matthew 24.31 is the same event as 1 Thessalonians 4, we now have a problem. Matthew 24.31 does not actually spell out where those gathered go to. 1 Thessalonians 4 does: ‘We … shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air’. This clearly means being taken out of this present environment so we will need the new eternal incorruptible body which is promised to believers in 1 Corinthians 15.50-56. By definition this body is no longer capable of sin or decay or death. The implication of Revelation 19.14, Jude 14-15 and Zechariah 14.5 is that the Lord returns with the saints in their glorified bodies to reign with Him in the Millennial kingdom.
If Matthew 24.31 is describing the same event as 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15.50-56, then all the believers are taken to be with the Lord to meet Him in the air and then come straight back with Him to the earth. This means that there are no saved people left on the earth when Jesus returns and no sheep (believers in Jesus) left to stand before the Lord as we find in Matthew 25. Therefore there is no one left to go into the Millennium in mortal bodies to repopulate the earth.
The solution to this problem is the pre tribulation, pre millennial view, that the rapture comes before the Great Tribulation taking those who are saved believers out of the world before the tribulation begins. This is the implication of what the Lord says to the faithful Philadelphian church: ‘Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.’ Revelation 3.10.
The saints taken in the rapture along with the ‘dead in Christ’ (i.e. those who died as saved Christians through the church age) return with Christ in glorified bodies at the second coming. They take part with him in the government of the Lord during the Millennial kingdom reign. At this time the saved of Israel will be resurrected to take their part in the reign of the Messiah over Israel as we read in Daniel 12. The saints who died during the tribulation will also be resurrected as we read in Revelation 20.5.
People will be saved during the Great Tribulation, after the rapture of the church. Revelation 7 describes 144,000 of the tribes of Israel who preach the Gospel during this time and the great multitude who come to faith ‘out of the Great Tribulation’ (Revelation 7.14). Many of these tribulation saints are martyred or die during the tribulation period, although some will survive. Those who survive the tribulation as believers will go into the millennial reign of Christ in their mortal bodies to repopulate the earth.
Children will be born during Messiah’s reign on earth (Isaiah 65.20-23), not all of whom will accept His rule: ‘No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.’ This passage along with Zechariah 14 indicates that sin / disobedience to the Lord will still be a possibility in the millennial kingdom, though greatly restrained by the government of King Jesus and the binding of Satan in the abyss during this period (Revelation 20.1-3).
Revelation 20 indicates that when Satan is loosed from the abyss he will find people not submitted in their hearts to King Jesus, who are willing to join him in the final revolt against the Lord at the end of the 1000 year reign. Satan and the rebels against the Lord will be totally defeated by fire falling from God which will bring about the end of the world and the creation of the new heavens and new earth for all the redeemed from all ages. Unsaved people will experience the ‘second resurrection’ which is the resurrection to judgement and the lake of fire. Revelation 20.7-15.
On the basis of what Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4 and in 1 Corinthians 15 we should look now to the soon coming of Jesus to take His people to be with Himself, ‘looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.’ Titus 2.11-14.
MARANATHA! COME LORD JESUS.
We will continue this subject by looking at what Paul taught in 2 Thessalonians in our next issue, God willing.
Signs of the Times.
The Empire strikes back.
At the beginning of the year there was talk about a ‘populist’ revolt against the EU and the possibility of anti-EU candidates doing well in elections in Holland and France. Some even speculated that these core EU countries could move towards the EU exit. In the event the Empire struck back as populist candidates were easily defeated and the EU establishment saw its men voted into power.
In France Emmanuel Macron was billed by some as the outsider, ‘breaking the mould’ of French politics, when his new party En Marche won the victory and the established parties of right and left were defeated. In fact Macron is the ultimate establishment insider, dedicated to forwarding the globalist agenda for France and Europe.
On the night of his election triumph, Macron walked up to give his victory address in Paris to the tune of the EU anthem, which is based on Schiller’s poem ‘Ode to Joy’ from Beethoven’s 9th symphony. Not the French Marseillaise but the EU’s German based anthem! Incidentally ‘Ode to Joy’ begins with the lines ‘Joy, sweet spark of the gods, daughter of Elysium. We tread, drunk with fire, heavenly one, your magic kingdom.’ If that sounds a bit pagan to you, it is! He stood in front of the Louvre with its ‘New Age’ pyramid behind him pledging his allegiance to France, the EU and a ‘new humanism’.
Macron is dedicated to the EU’s policy of ‘population change’. He wants to address Europe’s ‘demographic deficit’ caused by the aging of ethnic European populations by more immigration. He has proposed an exchange with Algeria to ‘encourage mobility between the two shores of the Mediterranean’. He also declared that, ‘France must take its fair share of refugees’.
Almost all refugees arriving in France are Muslims. France already has the greatest percentage of Muslims in Europe. Macron wants Islam to have more room in France saying, ‘Today, Muslims of France are poorly treated. Tomorrow, a new structure will make it possible to relaunch the work sites of the Muslim religion in France: the construction and the improvement of worthy places of worship will take place where their presence is necessary, and the training of imams of France will be organised.’
The French branch of the Muslim Brotherhood congratulated Macron on his victory. It published an official communiqué saying: ‘Muslims think that the new President of the Republic will allow the reconciliation of France with itself and will allow us to go farther, together.’ If the Muslim Brotherhood thinks Macron’s victory will allow it to further with its agenda for the country, that is not good news for the French. It appears that the EU elite have their reasons for wanting to bring about the Islamisation of Europe as a way of destroying national and Christian identity.
Macron has proposed a common euro zone budget and a finance minister to represent the 19-nation single currency area, in other words a deeper level of Euro integration. He has also taken part in discussions between France and Germany for a joint EU army. France, Germany, Italy and Spain pushed for the plans with French President Emmanuel Macron, who threw his weight behind a common European defence during his election campaign, branding the steps ‘historic’. All of this lines up with the proposal of the European Commission at the Rome Summit of March 25 for member states ‘to share more power, resources and decision-making across the board’ and to work for deeper levels of integration.
Despite all its problems, the EU remains a powerful presence on the world stage, in many ways a super power. It is not about to crumble away and may even find a way of keeping Britain within its domain, using the present political uncertainty in the UK to prevent any meaningful ‘Brexit.’ It has a role to play as the revived Roman Empire of Bible prophecy, which we will see played out in the unfolding of end time events.
Will the Donald bring peace to the Middle East?
President Trump arrived in Israel in May announcing, ‘I have come to this sacred and ancient land to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between the United States and the State of Israel.’ He expressed the hope of bringing about a peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as he arrived on the first direct flight ever to take place from Saudi Arabia to Israel. He announced a new opportunity ‘to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people, defeat terrorism and create a future of harmony, prosperity and peace.’ After meetings between senior Israeli and Palestinian officials, the groundwork has now been laid by US negotiators for a Middle East peace summit, expected to be held this September.
Will it work? So far every US President since Bill Clinton has made their effort to bring a peace settlement to Israel and failed. A recent survey showed that 50% of Israeli Jews say there is absolutely no chance of a peace deal between Israel and the PA in the foreseeable future, compared to just 3% who say the chances for such an agreement are good. On the big issues of the status of Jerusalem and the territories the two sides remain as far apart as ever. Israel insists that Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of Israel while the Palestinians say that Israel must withdraw from all territory occupied in 1967, including the eastern side of Jerusalem, in order for a Palestinian state to be set up with Jerusalem as its capital. East Jerusalem is the site of the biblical holy sites, including the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives. Israel is incensed that the Palestinian Authority does nothing to condemn terrorism against Israel, and continues to honour as ‘martyrs’ those who die in terror attacks against Israelis.
Jerusalem remains the burdensome stone of Zechariah 12.2-3, at the centre of international attention. Bible prophecy (Daniel 9.27, Isaiah 28.16-19) indicates that at some time in the future there will be a covenant with Israel, which looks like a peace treaty with its neighbours. This is the start point for the seven year countdown to Messiah touching down in Jerusalem as described in Zechariah 14. It is unlikely that Donald Trump and his US administration will be the one to bring in this covenant. Daniel’s prophecy indicates that the one brings this to pass will be ‘the prince to come’, the coming Antichrist who is in some way connected to Rome and the people responsible for the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, the Romans (see Daniel 9.26-7).
Dangers to the north remain.
The Syrian conflict took on a new dimension as the US shot down a Syrian regime bomber attacking Islamic State positions near Raqqa, after it ventured too close to positions held by US-allied forces. The US has also shot down at least two Iranian armed drones over Syria and armed skirmishes have been reported between US-allied forces and Iranian-backed Shi’a Islamist militias.
Russia, which is allied to the Syrian regime and the Iranian forces, has responded angrily, declaring that it will treat US-led coalition aircraft flying west of the Euphrates River in Syria as ‘potential targets.’ This raises the possibility of US and Russian forces fighting each other and the spectre of World War 3. Unrelated to Syria, but part of the growing tension between the two powers, on 21st June, a Russian jet flew within five feet of a US spy plane operating over the Baltic Sea.
As ISIS is pushed out of its strongholds in Iraq and Syria, the fear of Sunni Muslims and of Israel is that the space left behind could be taken over by Iran and its Shiite Muslim proxies. This would create the so-called ‘Shiite corridor’ from Iran through northern Iraq and Syria to Lebanon and the borders of Israel. This gives Iran uninterrupted access to all those parts of the region where it exercises political control through its ‘boots on the ground’ and its Revolutionary Guards. Because Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Israel have a common enemy in Iran, the Saudis are looking to Israel as allies in the fight against Iran. This is the main reason why they are open to a peace settlement with Israel.
The consequences for Israel of a Shi’a corridor are acute. Since the war in Lebanon in the mid-1980s, Israel has been aware of Iran’s ability to wage direct war on its territory, through the missile barrages of its Hezbollah proxy in Lebanon. The existence of a land corridor will transform Iran’s capacity in this regard, perhaps to the point where a land-based war launched against Israel from Syria and Lebanon could be as perilous as a nuclear attack. Is this a link to the War of Gog and Magog described in Ezekiel 38-9?
Amazon Go is ready to open its first cashless retail store in Seattle. Amazon has come up with a new idea that just might change the way businesses operate, a retail experience for customers with no checkout lines. This uses a complex combination of lasers, sensors, cameras, scanners, apps, and tags to ensure that the right person is charged for the items purchased, with the result that there will be no checkout lines or cash registers. A scanner automatically adds each item the customer puts in their trolley to their account, and bills them for their purchase. If other stores follow suit this would be another move in the direction of a cashless society. Amazon is planning to move into the UK supermarket business.
Meanwhile SJ Rail, a Swedish rail operator, claims that up to 100 of its customers are embedding microchip implants into their hands to pay for their journey. The small implants use Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, the same as in contactless credit cards or mobile payments. When activated by a reader a few centimetres away, a small amount of data flows between the two devices via electromagnetic waves. While the scheme is currently only available in Sweden, the country’s travel system uses the same Near Field Communication as contactless bank cards, and London’s oyster cards, suggesting it could be used further afield one day.
More signs of the 666 economic system on its way. Revelation 13.16-8.