<![CDATA[Depths of Pentecost - Blog]]>Sat, 17 Feb 2018 13:54:10 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Why the Media, not Guns, are Responsible for Mass Shootings]]>Sat, 17 Feb 2018 21:46:44 GMThttp://depthsofpentecost.com/blog/why-the-media-not-guns-are-responsible-for-mass-shootingsBy Philip Cottraux

I had another blog planned for this week; but with the terrible tragedy that happened in Florida, I feel the need to try to inject common sense into the inevitable controversy surrounding gun ownership and its role in the recent rash of mass shootings.  I was a high school freshman when the Columbine massacre happened, and experienced firsthand the devastating effects it had on schools nationwide.  But the spiritual sickness infecting the US was never addressed, and what was rare then has now become a sad epidemic.  We are now living in a world where mass killings just as bad or worse than Columbine occur every few months. 

A man walks into a church and shoots babies at point-blank range.  A lunatic enters an elementary school and guns down as many children as he can.  A man perched in a high tower rains bullets down on concert-goers he’s never met.  Welcome to the new reality.

The outrage is understandable.  No tragedy seems to spur any action.  Once the smoke has settled and the bodies are rounded up, one expects lawmakers to do something. 

The back and forth of the gun argument also never changes.  Cries from celebrities and families of victims for “common sense gun laws” reach a hysterical point for about two weeks.  They’re met with gun ownership groups calling for mental health reform and trying to address a spiritual crisis without violating second amendment rights.  Or that armed guards or staff could prevent any more school shootings.  Some blame the NRA.  Some blame violence in movies and video games.  Some blame both.  But in the midst of this stormy debate, nothing is ever actually accomplished.

As a gun owner myself, I would point out the lack of common sense over emotion.  Calls for “common sense reform” never define what exactly that means (there are already over 10,000 gun laws on the books), and also seem to be making that call out of emotion rather than reason.  Jimmy Kimmel isn’t using “common sense” when he cries and points fingers to an applauding audience that lives in the bubble of his own worldview.

Gun advocates rightfully point out that gun control would be ineffective, and we should pursue an actual solution to stop mass shootings.  Gun control activists, on the other hand, want to hysterically ban guns or pass laws as coping mechanisms to create the illusion of safety while exacerbating the real problem.  No new law will stop a mass shooting in a nation where hundreds of millions of guns are already everywhere. 

Gun control groups, in their emotional activism, also never consider the long-term consequences of what they want.  Theoretically, let’s assume that the second amendment is repealed and gun ownership is banned in this country.  But as I just mentioned, there are already hundreds of millions of legally owned guns across the nation.  How exactly do we enforce this?  I can tell you that many proud gun owners boast and taunt “try to take them!”  Charlton Heston summed it up when he said “Out of my cold dead hands!” 

So let’s play this out logically.  Not every gun owner would fight back.  Most law-abiding citizens probably will surrender their firearms.  I’m not even saying that those who fight back would win.  But with numbers in the hundreds of millions, even a small percentage of them shooting at anyone trying to confiscate their firearms would be catastrophic.  If SWAT teams armed with M-16s and bullet proof vests break into their homes, gun owners will probably lose.  But they will be killed.  And inevitably, so will many of their families.  Wives and children will be shot dead in more than a few instances.  Some SWAT team members will die, too.  On a nationwide scale, this may not equate exactly to a civil war.  But it will be one of the most apocalyptic bloodbaths in American history.  All of the mass shootings combined will pale in comparison to the collateral damage from an attempt at real gun control in America.  It’s not worth it.

Politicians know this, and Washington DC can’t afford the public relations nightmare that would follow.  I’m confident that we will never see real gun control in America; and even if we did, it could never be successfully enforced.  And this is real common sense.

But if gun control will never happen, and wouldn’t work anyway, what can we do about mass shootings?  This brings me to my main point. 

It would be very easy to make the clichéd argument that ultra-violent movies, TV shows, and video games have desensitized children.  But there’s another, perhaps more sinister side to the equation that rarely gets mentioned.  And it points the finger of blame not just to mass media, but specifically the major news networks.  You see, the dirty little secret is that big corporate news organizations don’t want major tragedies like the Florida high school shooting to end.  Because they’re good for ratings.

In the 1800s, a German author named Johann von Geothe published a popular novel entitled The Sorrows of Young Werther.  The book was a soap opera-esque young adult fiction.  Its popularity was so immense that young people around Europe went to parties dressed up as the main characters (fandom was a thing back then, too).  But the book also has a dark legacy.  It ends with the lovelorn Young Werther committing suicide.  And wherever this fictional story was sold, suicide rates among the youth skyrocketed.

The legacy of von Geothe’s novel was so terrible that many European nations banned in from publication.  But this chillingly fascinating phenomenon, known as the Werther effect, has remained entrenched in large-scale psychological persuasion ever since.

According to scientists, the Werther effect is more powerful than any of us realize.  And it saturates mass media today.  It can be used to sell products in advertising.  But its dark legacy continues, usually unseen.  It’s so potent that even a character from a low-rated TV show dying will lead to a spike in suicides around the country. 

Media moguls have known this for years.  But this reveals the underbelly of 24-hour cable news industry.  We live in a day and age where big media have to create news to stay on the air constantly.  It makes advertisers happy and keeps them paying big bucks.  And the horrifying reality is that we’re paying the price with our blood.

Mass shootings are a classic example of the Werther effect.  When one occurs, news media jumps on it and blows it up into the story of the year.  This may sound cynical, but the drama makes for great television.  And they know it.  Aerial shots of teenagers lined up evacuating school.  Reporters breathlessly giving word-for-word coverage.  Interviews with victims.  Sheriffs giving press reports.  The screams of the dying.  All brought to you by Lipitor.

But the most sinister heart of this slimy beast is the portrayal of the suspect.  Mysterious past photographs.  Interviews with neighbors trying to make sense of what happened.  Mug shots.  Instant fame.  For the mentally ill, it depicts an irresistible notoriety.  These stories are scientifically formulated to appeal the depraved to follow suit.  Barely have the bodies hit the floor, and mass media is already subtly creating a news scape that will breed the next shooter.  It is inevitable.

And they know it.  Media moguls devote their entire lives to the psychological science of creating stories that sell ads and make obscene profits.  Don’t tell me they don’t know the lethal consequences the Werther effect is having on our children. 

While the NRA tries to come up with solutions that won’t punish law-abiding gun owners, news corporations profit obscenely from mass shootings, sponsored by big pharmaceutical ad revenue.

But don’t be deceived by the cries for “gun reform now” (I’ve noticed that just like “climate change,” “gun control” has a negative connotation, so the master manipulators are trying to rephrase the language to something more appealing).  Even if they are being made from exploited families of the deceased.  Big media are trying to reshape the landscape of our collective minds.  Famous actors and left-wing activists want to us be more open-minded to “common sense gun laws,” which actually has nothing to do with common sense and everything to do with power.  They are the totalitarians crying out for total control.  The other side of this rainbow isn’t a peaceful world where mass shootings never happen and everyone lives together in harmony.  It does, however, resemble Orwell’s nightmarish future from 1984

The people who want gun control couldn’t care less about saving children; if they did, they would take a stand against abortion and Islamic terrorism.  They want total control.  No matter how many people have to die to get there.  They live and die by one of Saul Alinsky’s foundational Rules for Radicals: the ends always justify the means.  The cynical tyrant wannabes cry crocodile tears when a mass shooting takes place, but deep down inside rejoice gleefully at the opportunity to enforce total control. 

So how can we stop more mass shootings?  Here’s where I hate to be the bearer of bad news.  But the only truly effective method will involve overturning the Werther effect.  The media must stop covering them.  End the fame and notoriety the mentally get when they mow down innocent people, and copycats will quit.  Sadly, windfall profits the news industry rakes in from tragedy give me very little hope this will happen.  Hunker down, America.  The killing is not likely to end soon. 

Stay aware, stay safe.  No matter what anyone says, pray.  It’s more effective than gun control could ever hope to be.

****

Source:

Cialdini, Robert.  Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.  William Morrow and Company, NY, NY, 1984, pages 45-47.
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<![CDATA[The Sin of Astrology]]>Sat, 10 Feb 2018 20:50:46 GMThttp://depthsofpentecost.com/blog/the-sin-of-astrologyBy Philip Cottraux

Growing up, there was a distant family member that lived in the old house next to my grandfather’s (he was his nephew).  When we would visit, I would see him working in his yard and sometimes enjoyed wandering over to talk to him.  He seemed to have a wealth of wisdom fascinating to a young boy like myself. 

Somewhere in my memories, a conversation on astrology came up.  I’m not sure how.  But I immediately braced at the subject.  My mother had raised me strictly believing that astrology was a wicked practice.  “That’s of the devil!” I exclaimed.  “No, no, Philip” he said calmly.  He told me that the wise men who came to see Jesus were astrologers.  I didn’t have a response.  Then he pointed up to the sky and said with a deep-South drawl, “The secrets to the universe are written up there in them stars.”

He’s been gone for some years now.  But the astrologist’s viewpoint is still here.  Some Christians are opposed to it.  Others think it’s perfectly compatible with Christianity.  Their claim is that since God created the stars, He structured them with a particular design in the sky as signs to help us understand our personalities and destinies.  But is this practice just a harmless newspaper clipping that may or may not accurately predict what sort of day we’ll have, or is it actually a demonic entity we should avoid?

The Bible seems pretty explicit about this.  The prophet Isaiah tells us outright that astrologers will be burned in hellfire.  Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.  Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it (Isaiah 47:13-14).  Isaiah was furious with the Jewish people for turning to stargazers and prognosticators to predict the future instead of seeking the One True God.  As a prophet, he viewed it as a slap in the face to those who were truly anointed by God to receive visions of the future.

But Isaiah isn’t the only Old Testament prophet to write on the futility of stargazing.

In Daniel 2, king Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream and summoned his most trusted advisers to interpret it.  Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king (verse 2)But the king couldn’t remember his dream, so he demanded they tell him what it was first, then interpret it.  Verse 10: The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king's matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.

The king was ready to kill them all, but Daniel stepped in at the last minute and, as a true prophet of God, was able to save everyone by successfully recounting and interpreting the dream.  Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed he exalted Daniel’s God over the power of the magicians, astrologers, and soothsayers.  The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon (verses 47-48).

With this embarrassing failure of astrology in the face of the divine power of God, why would people still defend it?  Perhaps, like the Mosaic Law, Isaiah and Daniel are just examples of Old Testament strictness that doesn’t apply in the New Testament age.  After all, as was pointed out to me once, the wise men who brought gifts to the Christ child were astrologers, and the star of Bethlehem was an astrological sign, right?

Matthew’s account of these mysterious travelers is a bit vague.  Matthew 2:1-2: Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.  The Greek “magus” means “wise men,” and since they came from the East we can deduce that they were probably travelers from Persia (the Bible never specifies that there were three of them).  “Magus” were synonymous with astrologers, oracles, psychics, and men who claimed to have supernatural wisdom, and serves as the root word for “magic” or “magician.” 

In all probability, being magi from Persia, the wise men were Zoroastrian priests.  They may have served as counselors to kings from the east, but this isn’t certain.  Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest religions.  The prophet Zoroaster was from the remote mountainous region of what is today Armenia, and his religion was predominant in the Persian Empire (modern Iran) until being overtaken by Shi’ite Islam.  The Zoroastrians worshiped the elements: fire, water, and air. 

It’s no wonder, then, that Zoroastrianism would embrace astrology, which looks to the stars (natural elements).  But what of the magi who visited Jesus?  The Bible never tells us anything about them other than that they were Persian wise men who saw a sign in the sky that the King of the Jews had been born.  Did astrology actually lead them to the Christ child?  Quite frankly, I find that a stretch.  There’s a more specific reason for them to pay tribute to Jesus.

Recall that Daniel was exalted in the court of Nebuchadnezzar.  Skip a few generations.  Babylon is overthrown by a new empire combining Media and Persia.  Daniel, by now an old man, is relegated to the palace of Susa where he works for king Darius.  Here is where jealous plotters will have him thrown into a den of lions, the most famous story of his life.  The superiority of this Hebrew’s God is once again demonstrated for all to see.  Daniel 6:25-26: Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.  I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.

Because of this, Daniel was highly exalted and favor amongst the Zoroastrian priests and magi working for the kings of Persia.  Daniel also wrote his Messianic and end times prophecies while in Susa.  It’s telling that when Jesus was born, many hundreds of years later, heathen leaders of Zoroastrianism had more familiarity with the prophecy of the birth of the Savior than the Jewish people who had been eagerly awaiting their Messiah. 

But to use this to excuse astrology is missing the point.  The wise men had to leave Persia and all it represented to find Christ.  Leaving their old lives behind meant coming to worship the One promised by the God of Israel, and this includes their reliance on the stars.

But I digress.  The best way for me to explain the dangers of astrology is to look at its roots.  Far from being an observance of God’s creation laid out for us to navigate, astrology’s origins are deeply rooted in rebellion and blasphemy.

After the flood, the Bible says the first city that arose from Noah’s descendants was Babel.  And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar (Genesis 10:10)It also tells us that Babel was ruled by a king named Nimrod. Verses 8-9: And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.  He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LordArchaeology calls the first Mesopotamian city Eridu, which in my own research I have identified as the real historical Babel.  Nimrod is a Hebraized translation of “Enmerkar,” the first great king of Eridu (his name means “Enmer the Hunter”).

While the Bible doesn’t specifically state that Nimrod ordered the building of the tower of Babel, Flavius Josephus wrote that he did, and even gave the reason:  “Now the multitude were very ready to follow the will of Nimrod…and they built a tower, neither sparing any pains nor being in any degree negligent about the work…It was built of burnt brick, cemented together with mortar made of bitumen that it might not be liable to admit water (Antiquities of the Jews: Book I:IV:III).

So according to Josephus, Nimrod built the tower of Babel to save humanity in case of another flood.  He was defiant towards God.  Rebellion was the main attitude of Eridu.  This wicked city was the origin of all idol worship.  And it was also the birthplace of astrology.

Nimrod, or Enmerkar, appears as an idol all throughout the ancient world.  This powerful ruler was worshiped as a god by the end of his reign.  He appears in Bablyon as Ninurta, Sumeria as Asar, Greece as Ninus, Phoenicia as Rashop, Canaan as Reshpu, and Egypt as Osiris. 

But as a sign of the influence the Sumerians still have on us today, he also appears in the sky.  Enmer the hunter, Nimrod the rebellious, the mighty king who was defiant to the Lord God, is the constellation of Orion.  This shows definitively the demonic origins of astrology.  Like so much else, the people of Eridu worshiped the creation and not the Creator.  They wanted to look to anything possible, even the stars, to avoid seeking God. 

Think about that next time you check the horoscope in the morning paper.  Astrology, as an entire practice, was established in defiance of God.  Just like in the ancient cities, people to this day still turn to any and everything they can find to chart out a destiny so they don’t have to seek God.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry (1 Samuel 15:23)The root of astrology is rebellion, and its ultimate destiny is defiance, worshiping the stars and shaking one’s fist as God.  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them (Matthew 7:20).

****

Sources:

-Ashby, Chad.  “Magi, Wise Men, or Kings?  It’s Complicated.”  Christianitytoday.com.  December 16, 2016.  Accessed February 10, 2018.  <http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/holidays/christmas/magi-wise-men-or-kings-its-complicated.html>

-Rohl, David.  From Eden to Exile: The 5,000-Year History of the People of the Bible.  Lebanon, TN: Greenleaf Press, 2002, pages 63, 64.

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<![CDATA[We're Desolate Without the Holy Ghost]]>Sat, 03 Feb 2018 23:27:10 GMThttp://depthsofpentecost.com/blog/were-desolate-without-the-holy-ghostBy Philip Cottraux

Jeremiah 3:16: They shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more.  This is the last time the famed Ark of the Covenant would ever be mentioned in scripture.  The reason its whereabouts has remained such an enduring legend is that the Bible never tells us of its fate.  This is puzzling considering the crucial role it played in the history of Israel.  Containing a pot of manna, Aaron’s rod, and the Ten Commandments, it was the most sacred object of God’s covenant.  It sat in the holiest of holies, a room where the glory of God was so powerful that only the priest could enter, once a year, to make atonement for the sins of the people.  But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: (Hebrews 9:7)The lid of the ark was referred to as the “mercy seat” because it was considered to be where God Himself sat in the holy place.

Jeremiah was warning the people the dangers of sin.  He is sometimes known as the “weeping prophet” because of his futile efforts to reform Jerusalem.  While Judah doubled down on idolatry and wickedness, he was the lone voice calling for repentance, reform, and worship of the One True God.  This, as Nebuchadnezzar’s armies had the city surrounded.  God was their only hope.  But the Jewish people still would not heed the prophet’s warnings, doubling down on wickedness even as the enemy was at the gates.  In chapter 3 verse 16, he promised them that they would lose the beloved ark forever.

But it was to no avail.  In 586 BC, Nebuchadnezzar’s forces breached the wall of Jerusalem, slaughtering the people and carrying the survivors off to captivity.  They burned the city to the ground and destroyed the temple.  II Chronicles 36:19: And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof.  The ark vanished from history forever.

The only clue we have to the ark’s whereabouts is given in the apocrypha, a series of non-cannon books between the Old and New Testaments (the apocrypha was never canonized by the Jews and is not in the Protestant Bible but is part of the Catholic Latin Vulgate). 

II Maccabees 2:4-8: “These same records also tell us that Jeremiah, acting under divine guidance, commanded the Tent of the Lord's Presence and the Covenant Box to follow him to the mountain where Moses had looked down on the land which God had promised our people.  When Jeremiah got to the mountain, he found a huge cave and there he hid the Tent of the Lord's Presence, the Covenant Box, and the altar of incense. Then he sealed up the entrance.  Some of Jeremiah's friends tried to follow him and mark the way, but they could not find the cave. When Jeremiah learned what they had done, he reprimanded them, saying, No one must know about this place until God gathers his people together again and shows them mercy.  At that time he will reveal where these things are hidden, and the dazzling light of his presence will be seen in the cloud, as it was in the time of Moses and on the occasion when Solomon prayed that the Temple might be dedicated in holy splendor.”

So according to our only historical clue on the fate of the ark, Jeremiah snuck it out of Jerusalem before the invasion and hid it in a cave somewhere on Mount Sinai, where it still has not been found, nor can be until the last days.

Whether or not that’s true, it hasn’t stopped people from trying; and this is what is so surprising.  People have been searching for the ark for centuries.  Jewish archaeologists have sworn that they’ve come extremely close.  It would mean so much for people of Jewish faith that the holy ark be returned, re-establishing the covenant of the children of Yahweh.  Yet every search turns up empty.  God was true to His Word.

There’s a lesson for us to learn here.

I’ve long thought that as the physical symbol of the presence of God dwelling with His people, the ark symbolizes the Holy Ghost.  We see it play the same role in Old Testament times that the Spirit plays in the lives of believers today.  They sent it into battle before them.  Likewise, if we follow the Holy Ghost, He’ll clear the way for us in our lives.  That’s what it means to be truly yielded.  In Josiah’s temple reforms, we can clearly see a comparison in the order of the cleansing and the plan of salvation.  First came rediscovering the Laws of Moses (the Word of God).  Then came re-establishing the Passover (the blood of Jesus).  Then when the blood was sprinkled on the altar, the ark was placed back in its rightful place (the Holy Ghost).  And said unto the Levites that taught all Israel, which were holy unto the Lord, Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel did build; it shall not be a burden upon your shoulders: serve now the Lord your God, and his people Israel, (II Chronicles 35:3).  The baptism in the Spirit immediately follows once we receive true salvation.

The Israelites wouldn’t truly appreciate the ark until it was gone.  But the church today is in danger of losing the Holy Ghost.  We hear chilling stories of how few people in the Pentecostal movement are really filled with the Spirit, with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues, anymore.  And it’s a number that keeps declining every year.

Psalm 51:11: Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.  Our mindset is that in this day and age of unlimited mercy and grace, God will graciously keep pouring out His Spirit upon us.  And just like Jerusalem before the invasion, we’ve become careless with His presence, letting sin and wickedness take over and taking advantage of His grace.  But be warned.  The Holy Ghost is slowly beginning to depart from the church.  We should reach out and cling to Him and never let Him go.  We should pull as hard as we can to bring Him back and fill us once again.  Because once He’s gone, He may never return.

How horrifying to think of a world without the Holy Ghost!  We must sing and pray in tongues every day, never wanting Him to stop filling us with the Spirit.  How sad to think that in thousands of years, our descendants will only have stories of how the Holy Ghost once moved in our lives.  Like the Jews looking for the ark today, they’ll look for the Spirit but won’t find Him.  He’ll be gone forever.  And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, (Genesis 6:3).

As Jeremiah looked around the ruins of Jerusalem, he wrote the book of Lamentations.  The prophet observed how desolate Jerusalem was, not because the city was smoldering and destroyed, but because the presence of God had left.  II Chronicles 36:21: To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.  It would be seventy years before the people would return to build their homeland.  But the ark would never return.  We may be able to build without the Holy Ghost, even if He never returns.  But we’ll always be desolate without Him.

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<![CDATA[Till Iniquity Was Found in Thee: Part 2]]>Sat, 27 Jan 2018 21:57:40 GMThttp://depthsofpentecost.com/blog/till-iniquity-was-found-in-thee-part-2By Philip Cottraux

First, a disclaimer.  While I hate to choose sides on a divisive issue within Christianity, I’m going to present this argument from an Old Earth Creationist model.  For those who are unfamiliar, this doctrine (otherwise known as the “Gap Theory”) rejects the idea of the Bible literally telling us that the universe was created in seven days 6,000 years ago and agrees with science on the age of the world.  It claims that between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 is a gap of untold billions of years, when most of Earth’s natural history took place.  It places the pre-Cambrian age all the way through the days of the dinosaurs (the Mesozoic era) before the Garden of Eden. 

The biggest problem Young Earth Creationists have with this is that it places death before Adam.  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Romans 5:12)The Bible does seem very clear on this: how could death of plants and animals precede the curse brought by Adam?

I’m not trying to knock down a strawman here.  I have watched Kent Hovind’s DVD series and read Ken Hamm’s essays on Answersingenesis.org.  I want to fairly represent the Young Earth Creationist argument while also defending the viewpoint I find more compelling.

But let me explain further.  After scanning the scriptures, we can attest to two things: on the third day, God created dry land out of the water.  From Genesis 1:2, we can see that the whole Earth, which was “void, and without form, and darkness was upon the face of the deep,” was covered in water.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

We can connect this with II Peter 3:5-7: For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.  Two different worlds are described: “the world that then was, being overflowed with water” versus “the heavens and the earth, which are now.” 

Now what does this have to do with the fall of Lucifer?  Some critics have been quick to point out that Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 refer to the kings of Babylon and Tyre, respectively.  This is true, but their prophetic statements transcend any earthly kings and use the comparison to Lucifer to explain his origins: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations (Isaiah 14:12)The name “Lucifer” means “light bearer:” the Bible describes him as the most beautiful angel created and worship leader of heaven.

But he served another purpose that is often overlooked according to Ezekiel 28:13: Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.  Lucifer’s covering with beautiful stones mirrors the Levitical priests of the Old Testament.  If you recall from Exodus, Aaron had to wear a breastplate with 12 stones into the tabernacle, each representing one of the twelve tribes of Israel.  This means that Lucifer also acted as a sort of high priest before God.  We know this scripture isn’t just referring to the king of Tyre because clearly that king was never in Eden. 

But verse 14 adds further: Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.  Lucifer was an “anointed cherub” that “covered” the earth.  At this time, this planet was clearly placed specially in the universe in the only environment that could support life.  The head angel was given the honor of being in charge over the world, a custodian of sorts. 

According to scientists, Earth is about 4.5 billion years old.  In its early stages, it was a hellish place, covered with extreme heat, lava, and boiling water.  This matches Ezekiel’s description of Lucifer walking in the midst of the “stones of fire.”  But scientists don’t agree on when the first life forms existed.  According to some findings near Canada, some microscopic single-celled bacteria could have been here as far as 3.9 billion years ago, though this isn’t conclusive. 

Either way, we can determine that fossilized microscopic life did exist more than a billion years ago.  But fossilization cannot happen without death, meaning that the earliest fossils indicate when death first occurred.

I propose that Lucifer’s rebellion was what caused death in the ancient world.  Just like Adam’s sin introduced mortality into this age, Lucifer’s sin introduced it into the previous.  Since he was the anointed cherub over planet earth, the consequences of the highest angel attempting to exalt himself above God’s throne were catastrophic.  Life continued in a constant battle for survival.  As organisms grew more advanced, predation became a reality.  It’s clear from the fossil record, especially during the age of the dinosaurs, that the prehistoric world was brutal.

To see how this doesn’t contradict scripture, one must examine original Biblical words.  Greek or Hebrew terms could have multiple meanings in modern English translations.  For example, “world” can translate to either the literal planet Earth, or Greek “eon,” which refers to a vast span of time.  Romans 5:12 and II Peter 3:5-7 both translated “world” from kosmos.  Adam may have brought sin into this era, but he clearly was not present in the prehistoric world Peter was describing, meaning someone else brought sin into the ancient cosmos.

This theory also allows for the existence of primates and hominids before the Garden of Eden, sometimes referred to as pre-Adamites.  These apelike creatures and Neanderthals wouldn’t have had souls; and contrary to popular belief, no genetic be linked has established them as our evolutionary ancestors.  Despite their best efforts, Darwinists still haven’t unraveled the mystery of where modern man came from, and any evidence tracing us further back than 13,000 years ago is sparse at best.

This is for a particular reason.  About 13,000 years ago, the Ice Age came to a sudden and dramatic end after a devastating event known as the Younger-Dryas extinction.  No one knows the cause for this transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene era, but an asteroid impact is the likely culprit.  Evidence for this mass extinction appears in ancient animal graveyards around the world; it also has been proven that the world was temporarily covered in water due to the impact.  Some have mistaken this for Noah’s deluge, but it’s far too early; more than likely, this is Earth in its state where Genesis 1:2 picks up.

It’s entirely possible that this mass extinction was caused by Lucifer finally being cast down to Earth, bringing a third of the angels with him.  God wiped out all life when he arrived, then rebuilt it from scratch in the Genesis narrative.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: something doesn’t add up.  If Lucifer’s rebellion started more than a billion years ago, and ended about 13,000 years ago, does that mean it lasted for a billion years or more?  As I said in last week’s blog, we don’t know how long Lucifer was the exalted angel in heaven, or how long it took for the seed of rebellion to grow in him.  Was it trillions of years?  His defeat only occupies a few scriptures.  Could it really have taken billions of years for God to defeat him?

This is where things get interesting.

In the movie Interstellar, Earth’s ecosystem is breaking down and won’t be able to support life much longer.  Matthew Mcconaughey’s character is sent on a mission to deep space to find another habitable planet for humans.  In one of the worlds his team explores, time and space move at a different rate than on Earth.  Due to technical difficulties, they’re unable to escape for three hours, and when they get back to the space station, over 20 years have passed!  He receives heart-breaking messages from Earth that his children have grown up and lost all hope of ever seeing him again.

This phenomenon, known as time dilation, is based on an actual scientific theory.  It is within the realm of plausible astrophysics that time moves at different rates in other galaxies (you can read more about this by following the link in the sources).  In other words, a few hours of time on Earth could equal millennia on another planet, and vice-versa.

But now remember something else I brought up last week: God and heaven are outside of the physical universe, meaning they are not bound by the laws of space and time within the universe.  This multiplies the time dilation factor by an infinite possible amount.  This is also Biblical:

Psalm 90:4: For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

II Peter 3:8: But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Revelation 19:9: And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.  And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

After the Rapture, the Bride of Christ (the church) is called into heaven and joined as one with the Lord Jesus.  What follows is the marriage supper, which lasts during the duration of the seven-year Tribulation on Earth.  But a supper actually last seven years?  Who knows?  It may seem to only last a few hours for those who are there, while seven years have passed on Earth.  Time is relative.

So who knows how long in heaven Lucifer’s rebellion lasted?  We can deduce that it began at least a billion years ago, when death first started on our planet.  However, the war could have only lasted what seemed to be a few hours, days, weeks, or months.  It doesn’t really matter. 

Much of this is hard to process; as I said last week, our minds are tuned into the time and space of our world.  But I am satisfied that we have found a workable model to synchronize the Biblical narrative of Lucifer’s rebellion with geologic and cosmological history.  I also feel that we have solved the intriguing puzzle of how sin could have first entered in the perfect and holy eternal environment of God’s presence in heaven.  As time goes on, scientific discoveries are helping with progressive revelation of scripture, not contradicting it! 

****


-Lewis, C.S.  Mere Christianity.  Macmillan Publishing Company, 1943.  Copyright renewed in 1980 by Arthur Owen Barfield.  First Touchstone Edition 1996, Simon & Shuster Inc.  Pages 49-50.

-Kaplan, Sarah.  “Oldest Signs of Life on Earth May Be in 3.95 Billion-year-old Rocks.”  WashingtonPost.com.  September 28, 2017.  Accessed January 27, 2018.  <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/09/28/oldest-signs-of-life-on-earth-may-be-in-3-95-billion-year-old-rocks/?utm_term=.201cdb2e11d4>

-Johnson, Gaines R.  “Understanding the Biblical Difference Between the Words World and Earth.”  Kjvbible.org.  Accessed January 27, 2018.  <http://kjvbible.org/theworlds.html>

-Johnson, Gaines R.  “Life Forms Just Before End of Ice Age and After Seven Days of Genesis.”  Kjvbible.org.  Accessed January 27, 2018.  <http://kjvbible.org/lifeform.html>

-“Time Dilation.”  Phy.olemiss.edu.  Accessed January 27, 2018.  <http://www.phy.olemiss.edu/HEP/QuarkNet/time.html>

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<![CDATA[Till Iniquity Was Found in Thee: Part 1]]>Sat, 20 Jan 2018 21:29:47 GMThttp://depthsofpentecost.com/blog/till-iniquity-was-found-in-thee-part-1By Philip Cottraux

Someone at my church had recently posed an interesting question.  God created heaven, a perfect place of goodness and holiness.  But pride was found in Lucifer’s heart, and he led a rebellion, thinking he could overthrow God.  The Lord cast him out of heaven, turning him into the devil as he took a third of the angels with him.  But how did sin actually first enter the picture?  How could sin come into existence in an environment of perfect holiness in the first place?  Since God will not allow unrighteousness in His presence, how could unrighteousness find its way into His presence to begin with?

It’s been on my mind in my own studies, so I couldn’t help but tackle the issue.  But in doing so, I wanted to turn it into an entire study of the fall of Lucifer, and how exactly it plays into cosmological history.  In examining how sin originated, we can also put the fascinating puzzle pieces together of when and how Lucifer was cast out of heaven and the effects it had on our planet.

The question is an interesting point that a skeptic would try to make.  But like most critical analyses of Christian theology, or theism of any kind, it contains a philosophical presumption that makes it flawed.  You can find these same kinds of philosophical presumptions in almost every atheist argument.  It falls into the classic trap I’ve noticed of how we picture God.  For example, we look into the sky at night and wonder where He is and why we can’t see Him (this goes along with the nonbeliever’s accusation that Christians worship “an invisible man in the sky”).  Or wondering where in outer space God is.  It assumes He’s above the earth but confined within the physical universe.  But this is not so.  The Bible is clear that God is above space and all physical matter (for more on this, see my past blog on “The Universe, part blank”).  So instead of asking where in the universe God is, we should be asking where in God’s presence the universe is.

This question about Lucifer’s rebellion contains a similar flaw.  It presumes God, and subsequently, heaven, is bound by the confines of time.  But if He created time, He is outside of it and time operates in His presence.  After all, He is an eternal being that was there before time began and will be there after it has ended.  Revelation 1:8: I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

The human mind, quite frankly, isn’t capable of processing things like this.  So we tend to create shortcuts around them to imagine the bigger picture.  This isn’t as uncommon as you think: in fact, it’s part of your own day-to-day routine.  As you learn how the world works, your mind has to create patterns as shortcuts so that your daily decision-making isn’t too much to comprehend.  For example, you don’t check every chair you’re about to sit in to make sure the legs aren’t broken.  This is why daily routines are very important to our sanity; they limit the amount of decisions we have to make day so that our mind’s energy can be saved for more important tasks.

Our little brains, wonderful as they are, just aren’t created to handle certain concepts.  We can’t really comprehend the size of the universe, so we have to condense it down to an imaginary concept (“infinity”) to understand its scope.

Likewise, we tend to make the same mistake when looking at Lucifer’s rebellion.  In the Bible, it only takes up a few scriptures in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28.  So our mental image of it is actually somewhat sparse.  We know that Lucifer was the top angel, and leader of the music that praised God.  He was also the most beautiful, adorned with every priceless jewel.  Every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created (Ezekiel 28:13).  But pride was found in his heart, which was his undoing.  Verse 15: Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. 

But the problem is that we don’t know how long Lucifer was in heaven before the rebellion started.  The Bible doesn’t tell us how many years before Earth God created the angels or heaven.  Based on what we’re going to explore later, I conclude it was an amount of time the human can’t process.  Trillions upon trillions of years, perhaps.

With this in mind, it’s easy to assume Lucifer was a created angel who, one day, just decided that he could run the show better than God.  So he led a third of the angels in a brief rebellion but was thrown out of heaven.  And that’s it.  But this is an illusion, and the implication, in a cosmic sense, is far more vast than we can imagine.  Lucifer was probably an angel for trillions of years before the thought of his own beauty began to enter his imagination.  Furthermore, we don’t know how long that seed of pride took to root into a spirit of rebellion.  It could have been trillions more years.  And I’m going to argue shortly that the uprising itself lasted billions of years, at least in sense of time and space as we understand it.

C.S. Lewis addresses this very issue in his apologetics classic, Mere Christianity.  According to Lewis, that good and evil exist is clear and undeniable in our universe.  The question is merely if one came first, or they have both eternally co-existed.  One of the reasons that Lewis accepted Christianity is that he points out it is the unique religion that acknowledges pre-existing good, yet claims that evil has an original point and emerged as a parasite and corruption of that goodness.  This is actually consistent with the laws of reality itself.  His argument stems from the universal moral law that is written on the heart of every man, that wouldn’t exist if God isn’t real and we are all just chemical accidents in an uncaring universe. 

The alternative, dualism, assumes that good and evil have both always existed, and always will, locked in a never-ending battle that neither will win.  But in his take-down of dualism, Lewis points out that if good and evil both always existed, neither is right or wrong unless there is a third force that created both whose standards one succeeds at meeting and the other fails to live up to.
According to Lewis, dualism does not work because wickedness can never pursue of evil for evil’s sake.  It is always the pursuit of something itself good in a wrong way.  This even goes for those who commit unspeakable heinous acts; in a twisted way, they are gaining sadistic pleasure or have some backwards reasoning to do the things they do.  “In order to be bad,” Lewis explains, “he (a wicked person) must have good things to want and then to pursue in the wrong way: he must have impulses which were originally good in order to be able to pervert them.  But if he is bad he cannot supply himself either with good things to desire or with good impulses to pervert.  He must be getting both from the Good Power.  And if so, then he is not independent.  He is part of the Good Power’s world: he was made either by the Good Power or by some power above them both.”

Even in Lucifer’s case, he was in the pursuit of something not inherently bad itself: power.  He thought he could run the show better than God.  It follows logically, then, that inherent good has to come first for inherent evil to succeed in perverting it.  Thus you have a power struggle as old as time itself.

But this leaves us with the next important question: when did the fall of Lucifer take place?  It obviously took place after creation, because Lucifer was cast down to Earth.  Yet it’s obviously before the fall of man.  So if we examine cosmology compared to Earth’s history, can we get to the bottom of this to finally solve the mystery?

We’ll find out in next week’s blog!

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<![CDATA[Believing in Christ over Other Gods]]>Sun, 14 Jan 2018 03:24:04 GMThttp://depthsofpentecost.com/blog/believing-in-christ-over-other-godsBy Philip Cottraux

Some atheists have challenged me with what is called the “one less god” argument.  Let me try to sum it up in a fair way: there are many contradictory religions in the world, therefore none of them can be true.  While some may be skeptics of the Bible, I am a skeptic of other gods.  Since theism in any form requires faith in the unseen, how can any of them be proven?  How can I be sure that Christ is God over Allah?  Or the Hindu gods? 

I’ve noticed that non-believers making this argument love to compare the Hebrew God to Zeus, a deity no one believes in anymore.  So in this blog I want to present a Christian response to this admittedly good point.  I’ll even try to take the Zeus comparison seriously, because there is a distinct rational reason to believe in Christ over any Greek god.

For further reading, the two best resources on this subject are Lee Strobel’s groundbreaking apologetics book, The Case for Christ.  Strobel has also written a sequel, The Case for the Real Jesus.  I also recommend J. Warner Wallace’s Cold Case Christianity.  These are compelling reads because they set aside cognitive bias sometimes common among Christian apologists: both men were atheists until they investigated the matter for themselves.

Let me begin by explaining what I call “The Core of Belief” principle.  Every belief system in the world has a foundation, usually the writings of its founders.  For example, the core of Islam is the Quran.  While atheists deny that their view is a belief system, but a lack thereof, it does in fact have a core in the writings of philosophers like Epicurus, Nietzsche and Russell.  I’m not sure why they don’t want to acknowledge this, as if it’s something to be ashamed of. 

But I digress.  The core of Christianity isn’t just the Bible.  It isn’t even precisely the New Testament.  You can look beyond the four gospels and what they point to: the resurrection of Christ. 

So just for fun, let’s compare Christ to Zeus.  According to Greek mythology, Zeus lived on Mount Olympus, a mythical place.  He sometimes came to Earth, mostly to impregnate beautiful human women, much to the ire of his sister/wife, Hera.  Carl Jung claimed that religious tales spring from the complicated psyche of the human mind; and in the case of Greek mythology I certainly agree.  But this mythology never defines an exact time or place when any of Zeus’s philandering occurred. 

The New Testament, meanwhile, actually tells us that Jesus lived in early first century Roman-occupied Palestine.  It invites historical scrutiny on itself, daring the reader to examine its claims.  In all three of the books I’ve mentioned (and countless others), Strobel and Wallace both did just that.  What they found is that, surprisingly, the bedrock of Christianity is rock-solid. 

First, let’s see if the four gospels have environmental tells to support their setting.  In Luke 2:1-3, Mary and Joseph return to Bethlehem for a census ordered by Syrian governor named Quirinius.  Matthew, however, record that Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great, who died nine years prior to Quirinius’ governorship according to Josephus.  This contradiction between historical record and the gospels is pointed out by skeptics, but archaeology has helped solved the riddle.  Quirinius’ name has been discovered on a coin from the time period, and the base of a statue in Pisidian Antioch, meaning that another Quirinius was proconsul of Syria and Cilica from 11 BC to the death of Herod.

Another discrepancy in Luke can be solved by a similar discovery.  Luke 3:1 describes a tetrarch named Lysanias over Abeline.  Josephus records a Lysanias reigning from 40-36 BC, far too soon to have occurred during the ministry of John the Baptist.  However, two inscriptions bearing the name of Lysanias have been found dating from AD 14-37, confirming a second tetrarch reigning during the time period described by Luke.

Until 1888, no evidence existed for the pool of Bethesda in John 5:1-9, another target of skeptics.  But excavators near St. Anne’s Church in Jerusalem discovered the ancient remains of the pool, complete with steps.  The Dead Sea Scroll discovery included a copper scroll (written between AD 25 and 68) mentioning a pool called “Beth Eshdathayin.”

The pool of Siloam from John 9:1-12 was discovered by archaeologists in 2004 and was dated to have been in use from 100 BC to 100 AD. 

There are more examples, but the point is that based on environmental clues, the gospels are in fact a product of early first-century Palestine.  If they were fiction invented by Nicene Council in the early 300s AD (a favorite claim of atheists), they wouldn’t corroborated by archaeology in such exact details (this is also a complete misrepresentation of what the Nicene Council was about).

When trying to reconstruct the past, historians have two criteria to determine the accuracy of ancient documents: how many of them they can find, and how close they date to the original event they describe.  For perspective’s sake, the Roman historian Tacitus wrote the Annals of Imperial Rome in AD 116.  We have very few copies, the earliest from 850 AD, a little over 700 years later, yet this is still considered historically reliable.

The most documented event in ancient history, bar none, is the life of Christ.  Some New Testament scholars have called what we have “an embarrassing treasure trove of manuscripts.”  More than five thousand copies of the four gospels have been catalogued from the centuries following Christ, some as early as thirty years after the original (the earliest papyri of John’s gospel dates to as early as 98 AD).  This is a mountain of evidence compared to the sparse documentation of most other ancient events.

Let’s make a comparison to two other historical figures, William Shakespeare and Alexander the Great.  Historians generally don’t deny that either existed, but their earliest biographies appear several centuries after their deaths.  And the copies of those accounts are few and far between.  Most skeptics never question the existence of Shakespeare or Alexander, but there is more evidence Jesus existed than the both of them combined.  Why deny the historical reality of Jesus, when it more than passes the litmus test of historical accuracy?  To do so, quite frankly, is to pick and choose who to believe in and who not to.

But if you think the four gospels are too biased to be trusted, there’s more.  Jesus’ ministry is also attested to by other historians from the time.  The outline of his entire life can be reconstructed (perfectly matching the gospels) by reading Josephus, Tacitus, and Africanus.  Not all of these are sources friendly to Christianity, meaning that they had every reason to discredit Christ or His resurrection.  The Jewish Talmud accuses Jesus of misleading the people with “sorcery and magic” (an acknowledgment that He at least seemed to possess supernatural powers).  Pliny the Younger, governor of Bythnia, despised Christians and persecuted many of them, yet still provides us with a Roman account (from about 111 AD) of their beliefs and an acknowledgment that their Savior was a real person.

This kind of corroborating evidence doesn’t exist for any other figure in ancient history.  There is no mention of Shakespeare or Alexander from their own time periods.  The darkness striking the world at Christ’s crucifixion is even verified by the historian Thallus, who described a “great eclipse of the sun” in “the fourth year of the 202nd Olympia (about 33 AD).”  He even mentions that it was accompanied by a great earthquake!

So what of the resurrection?  In Cold Case Christianity, Wallace applies everything he knows about the science of eyewitness accounts to the four gospels, and determines that they bare all the marks of accurate descriptions of what happened.  For example, the disciples were lacking the three basic motives to fabricate the story (money, power, or sex).  They willfully took on lives of suffering and hardship due to an apparent conviction that they had seen Christ alive after His crucifixion.  Their description of women discovering the body of Jesus missing makes no sense as a lie within the historical context.  In ancient Palestine, women were considered lower-class citizens and their testimony such an event would have been immediately dismissed as unreliable.  Had the disciples made up the story, they would have clearly made themselves the ones who discovered the empty tomb or seen Jesus in the garden immediately afterwards.

Furthermore, comparing the immediate aftermath of the resurrection of Christ draws a sharp contrast to other self-proclaimed Messiahs.  Unbeknownst to a lot of people, Jesus wasn’t the only Jewish teacher who claimed to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament Messianic prophesies.  Consider the following: Simon bar Kokhba (birth unknown – 135 AD), Moses of Crete (440-471 AD), Abu Isa, Yudghan, and Serene (all 8th century).  Every one of these men claimed to be the Messiah, and all of them had followings comparable to that of Jesus.  The difference is that after their deaths, their movements fizzled out.  Yet it’s clear that within weeks following the crucifixion of Jesus, tens of thousands of people were converting Christianity daily, absolutely convinced that they had seen Him alive after His death.

With all this in mind, let’s go back to my original point.  Compare the records for the real historical Christ to the mythological Zeus.  If the life of Christ is the most attested to event in ancient history, Homer’s Iliad is a distant second.  There are fewer than 650 manuscripts of it, the earliest of which date to the second century.  Considering that Homer first compiled this epic poem in 800 BC, we are left with a 1,000 year difference between the original compilation and the earliest copies.

The teachings of Buddha (real name Siddhartha Gautama), who is alleged to have lived in the sixth century BC, aren’t found in written form until the first century AD (a 700 year difference).  Muhammed is supposed to have lived from AD 570 to 632, but there is no corroborating evidence of his life from the time period and the earliest extra-Quranic biography of him wasn’t written until 767 AD. 

An atheist even once asked me the difference between Christianity and Scientology, just to point out how silly this whole “religion” thing is.  But the same principle applies.  Remember the corroborating evidence verifying the basic outline of Christ’s ministry?  In L. Ron Hubbard’s autobiographies, he claimed to be a World War II hero who sank enemy ships, was awarded medals for bravery, and used dianetics to cure himself of crippling bullet wounds and blindness.  But none of this matches his naval records, which are readily available to the public, and show that he never saw action and was only ever admitted to the hospital for pinkeye and arthritis.

So to put it plainly, I accept Christ as God over others not just out of blind faith, but because that’s where the facts lead.  Other religions’ cores fall apart like houses of cards when placed under historical scrutiny.  But through reason and logic, I’ve concluded that there is enough evidence that He genuinely lived, performed miracles, died and rose again.  Which proves He was exactly who He claimed to be.  And this also means that He was telling the truth when He talked about heaven and hell.  I hope you will make the same conclusion.

****

Sources:

-Wallace, J. Warner.  Cold Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates The Claims of the Gospels.  David C Cook, Colorado Springs, 2013.  Pages 202-205.

-Strobel, Lee.  The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus.  Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1998.  Pages 60-61, 85.

-“List of Jewish Messiah Claimants.”  Wikidedia.org.  Last updated January 8, 2018.  Accessed January 13, 2018.  <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jewish_messiah_claimants>

-“Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Fake Purple Hearts and Bronze Star!”  scientologymoneyproject.com.  Accessed January 13, 2018.

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<![CDATA[Happy New Year, and Some Exciting Announcements]]>Sat, 06 Jan 2018 22:14:16 GMThttp://depthsofpentecost.com/blog/happy-new-year-and-some-exciting-announcementsBy Philip Cottraux

2018 is here!  I hope all of you had a safe and happy Christmas and New Year!  The holidays are over, and now we’re stuck in the long winter slog with nothing to look forward to until April.  I apologize for being missing for the last few weeks, but I took the Christmas and New Year’s off from blogging.  But now I’m back and ready to continue writing for the Lord!  Believe it or not, this month actually marks the website’s third anniversary.  For those of you who have been following me from the beginning, can you believe that three years have already passed by?

I have several big announcements I want to share.  This is truly going to be an exciting year for Depths of Pentecost.  After three years of slow but steady growth, I believe 2018 will be the year God brings this site to an entirely new level.  So let me list all the announcements and explain a little further what I mean.

First, and perhaps most exciting of all, the book is done!  The Thursday before Christmas, at exactly 9:00 pm, after nearly two years of grueling work, I finally finished the first draft of my debut book, Bringing the Exodus to Life.  Most of you probably may not have known I was working on a book, even though I did briefly mention it when I first started working on it in January 2016.  I’ve kept quiet about it until recently, as I got closer to the end.  Finally getting it done is also why I had to take a few months off at the end of the year. 

So what is Bringing the Exodus to Life?  As the title may suggest, it’s a study guide/commentary of the book of Exodus.  But it’s also so much more.  I set out to write the greatest book on the subject ever written.  I noticed that plenty of commentaries give us great insight into the spiritual applications of the second book in the Bible, but shy away from the history of it.  Likewise, there are some great archaeological books on the real-life evidence for the Exodus that completely ignore the spiritual insight we can gain from it.  In all my research, I’ve never found a book that focuses on both.  Part-study guide, part-spiritual commentary, and part-history book, this will make the story of the Moses and the Israelites more real than ever before!  I’m excited to finally be on the verge of releasing this thing on the world!  Expect me to start talking about it more often.

Furthermore, the book can hopefully be the start of a new series.  There are countless subjects in the Bible to cover, and I hope a Bringing the Bible to Life series could provide a long and fruitful line of books to write!

So what’s the road from here?  Some of my readers are published authors and know the drill.  For those who don’t, it is a very long road from finished manuscript to publication.  Especially for a first-time author such as myself.  A first draft is different from a final draft.  I’ve been editing as I go, but the book will at least need one more round of revisions, which itself could take a few more months.  From there, I’ll be testing the book on beta readers (people who can look over it and give me feedback on its potential success, as well as offer constructive criticism).  After that, I still haven’t decided between seeking a traditional publisher or trying my hand at the wild world of self-publishing.  Different writers have recommended different choices, so I’m really not any closer to making a final decision.  There are infinite pros and cons of each, and I’ve also looked into hybrid publishing as an option.  If anyone has any feedback, I’m open to recommendations.
But that’s not the only announcement.

Another secret project I’ve been working on for almost three years, on top of writing my book, has been a deep study into the archaeological evidence for the stories of the Bible.  I’ve told almost no one about this but my wife and maybe a little extended family as I intensely researched, reading and taking notes on dozens of books by Biblical archaeologists.  While mainstream archaeology generally rejects the Bible as a series of Bronze Age fairy tales, men like David Rohl, Bryant G. Wood, and J. Randall Price have been turning the tide with their excavations and findings.

Starting this Sunday night, I will begin a 12-part class at my church on Bible archaeology.  This class will change the way people look at the Bible forever!  It will have pictures, timelines, slideshows, everything.  My fellow church members are in for a real treat, and I highly urge you to invite friends and family, especially if they’re skeptical about anything in the Word of God!

And if you don’t go to my church, not to worry.  All of this material is going to be put together in my second book, Did The Stories in the Bible Really Happen?  Unlike the last book, which has taken almost two years to write, I’ve got a leg up on this one, so it should be finished within a year.

Now, for the website itself.  There are two upgrades to Depths of Pentecost that, along with the books, I’m hoping will increase traffic dramatically and help continue to build this site as a grassroots movement to get the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world.

First, I’m planning on adding a “Recommended Sites” section in the sidebar.  This will be a collection of links to other websites that I think my readers would enjoy.  Depths of Pentecost is currently getting about 150-200 visits per day.  The publication of the book will probably increase that.  So if you are a Christian blogger, this will be a great way to funnel some of my traffic to your site!  This will be a great way bring together a connected community of Christian writers.  This will be done with permission, of course.  And I’m not asking for anything in exchange; just let me know if you’d like free advertising!

And finally, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time will finally get done.  In the coming months, I’ll be ready to launch a YouTube channel for Depths of Pentecost.  It will include a vlog series where I can cover a wide variety of topics I’m not able to in my writings, from Christian apologetics to blogging tips for up and coming writers.  I’ll also be able to chronicle my journey to publication of the book.  It will also include clips from my classes at church (which a lot of you have been asking for) or when I’m able to guest speak at other churches or events. 

Many of you have been with me since day one.  But for those who are still new to this site, welcome to the family!  This isn’t about me.  God started this ministry and this website.  I feel all this is just where He wants it to be and He’s getting ready to take it to new levels according to His perfect timing.  All of the knowledge of the Word as well as the gifts of writing and teaching He’s given me are for His glory.  I’m grateful for what He’s helped me put together in the past three years.  But all of that is nothing compared to what’s coming.  And I can’t wait to see how much we’re going to grow together in the coming year!
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<![CDATA[What Christians Can Learn from Hanukkah]]>Sun, 17 Dec 2017 02:13:48 GMThttp://depthsofpentecost.com/blog/what-christians-can-learn-from-hanukkahBy Philip Cottraux

Hanukkah is Jewish celebration lasting eight nights every December.  At the time this blog was written, we are right in the middle of the celebration (December 12-20).  Christians are in the middle of the Christmas season, with nine days before the biggest day of the year.

In the week leading up to the holidays, I would normally write a Christmas blog.  However, this Saturday falls at a unique time where I can talk about the Jewish festival.  I fear Christians, generally ignorant of Hanukkah, dismiss it as a “competing” holiday that somehow denies Christ.  But I think that while the Bible doesn’t require Gentiles to observe Hanukkah, we can still study it to learn something very profound.

I don’t have time or space to go into all the complicated details behind the story, and what I’m about to say is overly-simplified.  But I highly recommend following the link provided after the article if you want a more comprehensive account of the historical events behind Hanukkah.

God commands Moses to build a candlestick in Exodus 25:31: And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. The menorah (a word that never appears in the Bible) is one of the definitive symbols of Judaism.  How exactly it was positioned in the tabernacle isn’t clear, but the Bible indicates that it was to symbolize the nation of Israel as the light to the world (Zechariah 4:2,5-6).  The original seven-stick menorah no longer appears in Judaism due to a tradition that nothing should be copied from the temple after its destruction in 70 AD.  
 
When Alexander the Great died young, he left no heirs to take over his massive empire.  After some conflict, his generals divided it into four parts.  Judah was caught in the middle of this clash of empires for the next century and by the first century BC, had been heavily Hellenized.  Learning to just go along to get along, they were experiencing spiritual laziness, compromising their values with the world to keep from being attacked or invaded by whichever kingdom ruled over them.  Reliance on God had become a thing of the past, part of an “older generational” mindset.
 
But for a variety of complicated reasons, in the early second century BC, the wicked Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes ruthlessly attacked Jerusalem, which had no army at the time.  His cruel army sieged the city and slaughtered thousands of defenseless Jews.  Women and children’s bodies filled the streets.  He desecrated the temple, erecting a statue of himself and demanding worship as god.  He also banished Judaism and commanded every copy of the Torah burned. 
 
All of this was prophesied in the book of Daniel many years before it happened, and I touched on it briefly in my past blog, “The Daniel Lynchpin,” which you can click here to read and brush up on.  And out of one of them came forth a little horn (Antiochus), which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land (Daniel 8:9).  Verse 11: Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down.
 
Antiochus also killed the high priest, which proved the final straw for one of his sons, Judah Maccabeus.  Against all odds, Judah led an uprising against the king in what would be a bitter struggle for Judea’s independence.  Hopelessly outnumbered, his ragtag band of fighters slowly prevailed, and with God on their side, eventually beat back one of the world’s most powerful armies.
 
In 139 BC, Antiochus’s force of 60,000 was crushed by 7,000 Jewish fighters, and finally retreated.  Jerusalem erupted in cheers and began rebuilding their ruined city.  The most important part of this rebirth of Judaism was the rededication of the temple to Yahweh.  This would include relighting the sacred menorah, but they only had enough oil to last one day and one night (Jewish law required a continual burning for the temple to be cleansed of idolatry).  Through prayer, one cruise of oil managed to keep the candles burning continuously for eight days
 
What’s important about Hanukkah is not just the return to Jewish sovereignty and independence.  It was also a spiritual re-awakening.  The people of Judah came out of worldliness and moved away from Greek culture, rediscovering their relationship with their God and getting in touch with their historic roots.  Temple worship and study of the Torah laws were restored, bringing a great spiritual revival that snapped them out of lukewarmth.
 
Lighting the nine-stick menorah (one candle representing the original menorah, the other eight reflecting each night of the festival) has become a celebration not just of Jewish independence, but an act of defiance against every attempt to destroy them over the ages.  Isaiah 49:6: And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.  At times that light has been nearly snuffed out as the darkness around it grows greater; but so long as there are Jews to keep the menorah going, the seed of Abraham survives.  It is a reflection not just on Antiochus’ cruel attacks, but the Roman armies that destroyed the temples, the Holocaust, and the promise of Iran’s mullahs to turn wipe Israel off the map.  They endure.
 
These events are chronicled in both the Jewish Talmud and the book of Maccabees, which is part of the apocrypha, a collection of books written during the centuries between the Old and New Testaments.  The apocrypha is part of the Latin Vulgate but was never accepted in Protestant Bibles because the Jews never canonized it as official scripture.
 
There is nothing anti-Christian about Hanukkah.  In fact, John 10:22 indicates that Jesus Himself celebrated it: And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.  I think that by studying its message, we can clearly see how the oil that burned so bright in the menorah represents the Holy Spirit that will supply our need many times over, no matter how great it is.  And if the glow of the menorah symbolizes the nation of Israel being a light to the nations, the burning flame of the Holy Ghost within us all should be the light to this sinful world.  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid (Matthew 5:14).
 
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Read more about the Maccabean Revolt here: https://www.ancient.eu/article/827/the-maccabean-revolt/

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<![CDATA[The Order of Salvation]]>Sun, 10 Dec 2017 00:53:09 GMThttp://depthsofpentecost.com/blog/the-order-of-salvationBy Philip Cottraux

Pentecostal and charismatic Christians are unique in describing the “three acts of salvation:” being saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost.  We view Calvary the same way as most other Christian denominations.  However, we believe in pressing through a sanctification process (which is often overlooked) to being filled with the Holy Spirit, which is synonymous with the baptism in fire on the Day of Pentecost.  Acts 2:3-4: And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

God works in order.  He constructed all things within seven days.  Water had to be here before land could appear.  Plants had to cover the earth before animals survive off them. There had to be an Old Testament before there could be a new.  The New Covenant is built on the foundation of the Old.  Ignorant of what the scriptures say, Christians tend to scramble the order of or neglect one or more of the three works of grace.  It’s very dangerous when the Spirit leaves and flesh takes over.

On Mount Sinai, the Lord gave Moses the exact instructions on how the tabernacle should be built and how the ceremonies of sacrifice should take place.  The blood of lambs and bulls served as a temporary covering for sin until Jesus could come and be the one sacrifice for all.  Hebrews 9:12: Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.  On the Day of Atonement every year, the Israelites would gather all over the kingdom to partake in the ceremony. 

The sacrifice was the first gruesome step.  And thou shalt kill the bullock before the Lord, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.  And thou shalt take of the blood of the bullock, and put it upon the horns of the altar with thy finger, and pour all the blood beside the bottom of the altar (Exodus 29:11-12).  The sacrifice had to be made outside of the tabernacle where the Lord’s presence was; likewise, Jesus was forsaken by the Father as He hung on the cross.  Matthew 27:46: And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?  The earth had just gone dark because God turned His back on the sight of His Son dying; the plan of salvation had to be complete before He wiped out the human race for what it was doing.

Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not: (Exodus 30:18-20)A laver of water was outside the door for the priest to wash their hands before entering the tabernacle.  To go into God’s presence without being completely clean could mean death. 

Sanctification is the step between Calvary and Pentecost.  Some speak in tongues for the first time shortly after receiving salvation, and that’s wonderful.  But being sanctified has to happen at some point.  It’s more than just water baptism, which was clearly foreshadowed by the laver.  God will not allow any uncleanness in His presence, and that hasn’t changed. 
 
Sanctification is getting rid of everything ungodly from your life.  For example, if you’re delivered from alcoholism, pour out every bottle when you get home.  A girl testified at our church once told of being freed from drug addiction.  After she gave got saved at a revival, she came home and flushed every drug down the toilet.  All ties had to be cut off.  She never did another drug again because of this sanctification process. 
 
We all have to do this no matter how painful it is.  It may require removing things that will hurt so bad, they’ll seem like chopping one’s own limbs off.  It’s what Jesus meant when He said And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell (Matthew 5:29-30)This doesn’t mean God expects us to literally cut off our own hands or gouge out our own eyes, but that we must take whatever measures necessary to remove sin.

The burnt offering was next.  Inside the tabernacle was a brazen altar where clean meat was burned.  But outside the camp was a separate fire where the unclean parts of the animal, the bowels and dung, were taken.  Exodus 29:13-14: And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul that is above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar. But the flesh of the bullock, and his skin, and his dung, shalt thou burn with fire without the camp: it is a sin offering.

Fire has a purifying effect.  It burns out the impurities of precious metals.  The baptism of the Holy Ghost is a burnt offering separating the clean from the unclean.  The Holy Spirit’s job is to burn out any aspect of our personalities that are not like Christ.  But going into the fire can be frightening, which is why so many Christians are afraid of Pentecost.  They become content to be saved and coast their way into heaven.

But the burnt offering wasn’t the only fire.  The inner court of the tabernacle also included a candlestick with seven branches (in Judaism called the Menorah, though this exact word doesn’t appear in the Bible) Exodus 25:31: And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.  Aaron and the priests were commanded to keep the candles lit at all times.  The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out (Leviticus 6:13)They also had to burn incense before the Lord every morning.  Exodus 30:7-8: And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it.  And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.

If Pentecostals don’t believe in “once-saved, always-saved,” they shouldn’t believe in “once-filled, always-filled,” either.  The fire should flow from our lips daily, like a mighty river!
 
We place great importance on the initial evidence of speaking in tongues.  But we need to be very careful in not letting the plan of God get mixed up.  Far too many Christians achieve Calvary but never press on to Pentecost, which is spiritual laziness.  But trying to bypass Calvary and go straight to Pentecost is fanaticism and not of God.  People who attempt that are in danger of offering strange fire before the Lord, just like Adab and Nabihu.  Exodus 30:9: Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.

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<![CDATA[Where Jesus Goes, the Spirit Follows]]>Sun, 03 Dec 2017 00:10:43 GMThttp://depthsofpentecost.com/blog/where-jesus-goes-the-spirit-followsBy Philip Cottraux

Revelation 3:20: Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  In the Song of Solomon chapter 5, the Shulamite woman (Solomon’s beloved wife) is sleeping in a separate bedchamber.  The king’s heart longs for her.  Verse 2: I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.  He knocks on the door; but in a sign of how much friction had developed in their relationship, she makes excuses of why she can’t answer.  I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them (verse 3)?  She has removed her coat and if she gets out of bed and her feet touch the dirty floor, she’ll have to wash them again. 

Her beloved tries one more time.  My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him (verse 4).  Her heart is stirred as he tries to open the door.  She dashes out of bed to let him in, but it’s too late.  I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer (verse 6).  The dark hallway is empty.  The only sign he was ever there is the lingering smell of the oil on his hands, still dripping from the doorknob.  Verse 5: I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.

Last week, I wrote about the relationship between the Father and the Son.  A tender moment of conversation is revealed in John 12.  This week, it’s only natural that I follow that up with a study of the relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit, since the Three work together as One. 
Where the beloved once stood and knocked, the oil dripping from his hands was left behind.  Wherever Jesus goes, the Holy Spirit follows.  Everything He does, the Spirit does.  While He was here on Earth, He performed miracles and taught salvation.  When He ascended into heaven, the Holy Ghost took over and now performs the miracles and preaches the gospel to every creature through us.

In John 16, Jesus let the disciples know that He would leave them soon.  But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou (verse 5)?  He was going back to the One who sent Him.  I personally don’t think that Jesus, the manifestation of the Word of God, sat at the Right Hand of the Father before the ascension.  Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God (Luke 22:69).  But once He arose into heaven, He took His rightful seat.  Acts 1:9: And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

The disciples were saddened by this news.  But they didn’t realize that who Jesus was sending to replace Him was just as wonderful.  John 16:6-7: But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.  Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  The Holy Spirit is the Comforter.  But He would also be necessary to convict the world of its sin to draw them to Calvary.  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: (verse 8)The Spirit is the arresting officer who slaps handcuffs on the sinner to drag them to Calvary.  There, the sinner faces the judge but has a choice.  If he yields to the blood that flowed from the Cross, He will receive pardon.  Unfortunately, far too many reject that free gift and choose eternal damnation instead.

Those who deny the Trinity, or that Jesus is actually God, like to point out that He never demanded worship.  Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God (Luke 18:19).  Yet there are so many scriptures demonstrating that Jesus is God.  Isn’t this a contradiction?  No, because Jesus is our example.  He had to be humble as we must be humble.  He didn’t walk around boasting “I am God, worship Me,” but taught us to be meek and lowly, to pray for our enemies when they persecute us, and to wash the feet of our brethren.

There is a particular order to God’s plan.  The Father sent the Son, and the Son sent the Spirit.  Jesus didn’t come to glorify Himself, but the Father.  Likewise, the Spirit didn’t come to glorify Himself, but Jesus.  It’s why Jesus ended His explanation of sending the Spirit in John 16 by saying He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you (verse 14).  If you have the real Holy Ghost, Christ should be your obsession.  You should exonerate Him in all you do.  If the Spirit isn’t glorifying Jesus regularly through you, you don’t have the real Holy Ghost Baptism described in the Word.

We need to be careful when we scramble God’s order of salvation.  Where the Father went, the Son followed.  Where the Son went, the Holy Spirit followed.  It takes Calvary to receive salvation, and Pentecost is the next step.  If we reach Calvary but don’t press on to the Upper Room, we suffer from spiritual laziness.  But any attempt at bypassing Calvary to reach Pentecost is fanaticism, and not of God.  The olive must be crushed before it can produce oil.

But Jesus’ ministry eventually came to an end and He ascended to heaven.  So does that mean the Holy Spirit’s ministry will be finished on day?  In II Thessalonians 2, Paul describes the evil the antichrist will unleash upon the earth, but then lets us know that there is a “restrainer” holding it back, like a dam.  For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way (verse 7).  That “He” is the Holy Ghost.  Even back as far as Genesis 6:3, it was foretold My Spirit will not always strive with man.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  The Rapture of the church is the ascension of the Holy Spirit.  When the trumpet sounds, only one Being will hear it: the Holy Ghost.  And all those who have Him will be taken.

But this leaves us with the dilemma of the so-called Tribulation saints, who will be executed by the antichrist for refusing to take his mark.  Revelation 15:2: And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.  These saints are clearly people who were left behind during the Rapture but gave their hearts to the Lord afterwards.  So if the Holy Spirit is not on the earth, how can people be saved?

The answer, again, has to do with the complex plan of God.  Jesus ascended and is no longer on the earth.  However, from His throne, He is still able to somehow come into our hearts and save us, in a cosmic way that our minds can’t fully process.  Likewise, the Spirit will no longer dwell on the earth; yet during the Tribulation, He will be able to convict people from the throne of God.  He is simply repeating what Jesus did.

But the age of the great outpouring will be over.  During the Tribulation, there will be no more speaking in tongues or miracles and healings.  Now we still have the opportunity to yield to Him completely and receive all He has for us.  Yet we don’t appreciate Him like we should.  I’ve heard many people who’ve seen Jesus or had near death experiences describe Him as “When I saw Him, I wanted to cling to Him and never let go.”  Praise God!  But do we feel the same way about the Holy Ghost?  He is just as much God as Jesus is.  We should want to cling to Him and never let go.  Psalm 51:11: Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

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