I would like to start by sharing a quote by John H. Leith, who compiled a book concerning Christian doctrine from the Bible days to the present entitled “Creeds of the Churches”

 “. . . the nature of man is an intelligent being. Just because of intelligence the Christian, of all men, has to learn to discern with agonizing clarity what is conceivable by him about God Himself. What cannot be thought through critically and expressed with reasonable clarity cannot demand the allegiance of man’s whole being. Understanding is necessary for man’s full commitment. Hence faith must be spoken and made intelligible. That is not to say faith must be enclosed within the limits of reason, but it does mean that faith must never require neither the closing of the mind nor the sacrifice of the integrity of the mind.”

This statement is one that has influenced me probably more than any other man’s words of wisdom to always try my best to understand every man’s profession of faith and to share mine as simply and clearly as possible. That is why before I share my thoughts on my next post regarding the Seven Year Tribulation, I would like to state a couple of things for some readers who do not know me.

The first would be to clarify that I am not a preterist. For those who do not know what a preterist is, it is one who adheres to the doctrines of Preterism.  Here’s but a brief explanation from the link provided –

What is Preterism?

Answer: Preterism places the Biblical prophecies of intense evil and foreboding gloom in the first century, focusing on the events surrounding the forty-two-month long persecution of Christians by Nero, the forty-two-month long Jewish zealot war with Rome, and the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The word “preterist” is based on the Latin “praeteritus,” meaning “gone by” or “past.” The Princeton University Wordnet dictionary defines a Preterist as:

A theologian who believes that the Scripture prophecies of the Apocalypse (as in the Book of Revelations) have already been fulfilled.

Preterism is also often referred to as Covenant Eschatology or Fulfilled Prophecy.

I wish to clarify this because of my last post regarding Matthew chapter 24. I know many believers immediately start to categorize things they read (me too) and upon determining what category they think it falls into they then tend to accept or reject the thought or message based upon the category it  they have quickly placed it into. However, I am inclined to think that this habit of quick “categorization” of various teachings can also be used as a subtle tool of the adversary if we aren’t truly studious workmen that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Just think how much mileage the word “cult” gets when it is used defining a particular group . . . and then remember how Christianity was first identified as a cult when it was called the “Sect of the Nazarene.”

It is my persuasion that there are precious truths that the adversary has willfully allowed to be forefront beliefs of various denominations and religions of the world, but only with the intent that they would be rejected as false doctrines by others seeking truth because their denomination or pastor cries out “cultish!” Certainly, the way these other religious institutions may hold and exercise these truths can render them null; for any truth tainted with falsehood becomes a lie just as Jesus and Paul warned, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”

Sooooo, for what it is worth, I am no more a preterist than I am a Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic, Calvinist, Arminian or part of any other such division or categorization of the Christian faith. Nonetheless, there are in fact certain aspects of each of these various religious divisions that I recognize as truth, because not only are they confirmable by the scriptures, but that sometimes more importantly, they cannot be disqualified by such. For as we all know, there are volumes of beliefs and doctrines that boast a solid foundation of scriptures; yet when thoroughly examined they are in conflict with other passages scriptures which refute the very truth they are claiming to have. After years of studying, I could convincingly preach to the simple and ignorant many of false doctrines out there since I had to untangle myself from their deception. Again, it is not what can we scripturally support, but rather recognizing what does not conflict with all scripture and history.

That all being said, I am simply a believer in Jesus Christ who is endeavoring to be a good disciple of Jesus by proving all things and holding fast to that which seems to be the soundest and therefore worthy of acknowledgement and observation as a witness to my love for my Redeemer. There are many enlightening precepts from the Word of God that guide the exercising of my faith, but for now I will only share two.  First, Jesus tells me through His word that if I love Him then I will keep His words –

John 14:21 He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him. 24 He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings: and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.

Therefore, I find it vital to the integrity of my faith that I give myself wholeheartedly to the things I am presently persuaded of, even if what I may currently believe is deficient or even wrong concerning the word of God. For this I believe is intent of the admonition of Apostle Paul –

Romans 14:5 One man esteems one day above another: another esteems every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6 He that regards the day, regards it unto the Lord; and he that regards not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he that eats not, to the Lord he eats not, and gives God thanks.

Therefore the things I share on the Gates of the City are not intended as a statement that I am right and others are wrong, or to bring condemnation on others for their beliefs. I share them because I believe them and submit them to the scrutiny of other believers that they may understand the basis for how and why I exercise my faith in taking the stands and positions I do while endeavoring to labor for the souls of the lost.

The Apostle Paul was very clear when he warned us not to quickly “judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way . . . for we all must stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Paul wasn’t saying don’t prove the object of your faith here, rather do so and exercise it in such a manner so as not to condemn or damage another in their growth of faith. Because that is the point, we must have faith for without it is impossible to please God.

This brings me to my second guiding precept which is coupled with a sure promise of God –

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

We need faith, but like all the things of God, faith too is counterfeited. True Christian faith is not something we create or muster up, it is a gift of God. It comes freely to those who have ears to hear, for faith comes by hearing and and hearing by the word of God. “Freely” I say, because it is the reward for their diligence of seeking God. We must be diligent for I have yet to find a scriptural promise by God to the half-hearted other than disappointment. Also, and paramount, we need to always keep in mind is that true faith works/performs by love, for such is the breastplate of righteousness in the armor of the saints.

Ga 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Eph 6:23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1Th 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

Faith is God’s gift to all those who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness, for such is the breastplate of faith and love, it is a breastplate of righteousness.

Ro 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Eph 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness

God has given to every man a measure of faith, the ability to receive and respond accordingly to the truth of the Gospel upon hearing it. However, it is their heart that prevents many from receiving a love for it because it often is too polluted with other affections or fears. Some self-professing “Christians” have been hindered in their entering in to the things of God because they have been sold a lie and have received another gospel. Others, I believe are simply “weak in faith” because they do not purpose within themselves to know the truth and the surety of God’s word. Instead, they study various doctrines and creeds they have been taught that have a long time been flourishing and coming to fruition in the Church. These are not of the pure seed of God’s word that they have heard and believed, but rather the theologies of men, fables lacking the solidity of God’s word, but not merely theologies, but actually doctrines of devils which I am convinced are designed to establish false hope by creating fake milestones of eschatology to leave believers discourage and distraught after selling all for a lie that did not come to pass.

This is the reason we are told to be vigilant and earnestly contend for the faith that was once many, many years ago delivered unto the saints. However, that was long ago and aggressively since then the truth has been polluted with a flood of false doctrine from the mouth of the dragon in an attempt to carry the woman (church) away from the true Christ by offering “another gospel” unto “another Jesus” through the workings of “another spirit.”

Rev 12:15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.

2Co 11:4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough. (NRSV)

Ga 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

This is nothing new, rather it’s a problem Paul faced in his day with the churches in Corinth and Galatia, the unlearned were giving way to false doctrines by many who “appeared to be somewhat.” Yet Paul was very strong in his prayers and judgments against such, showing no mercy to those false teachers who would not repent because  they were not only hindering believers in their faith, but actually shipwrecking some, causing them to be removed from the Spirit of Truth.

Ga 1:6  I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:  7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Ga 5:12 I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

Paul says let them be accursed and even cut off, or to be blunt, Paul wishes they were dead and in hell already. Some may say where’s the love in that? It is love for the truth, for the saints, for the Lord Jesus Himself, that is where. It is for this reason, love for the saints and Jesus that we’ll see later how Paul encourages those mature believers who have had their senses exercised to discern good and evil and have already removed some of the beams from their own eyes and can see clearly to help others remove the specks from their eyes that they too may grow in Christ.

However, sadly nowadays just as the Holy Spirit warned, it seems everyone has an inspiration, a doctrine and/or revelation to share; therefore we need to be cautious that we do not hastily run off saying “The Lord showed me, the Lord showed me!” There is no shortage of people overwhelmed with a new revelation or a new calculation of times and seasons, or declaring of dates which are only causing many, too many, to be carried away. Countless professors of truth and revelations have declared such things only to be later found worthy to be stoned as false prophets by the very scriptures from which they boasted such great things. Several of us could write volumes of names and such but to what end would it really serve?

Don’t you think the devil believes in end time prophets? Absolutely he does! That is precisely why he has cleverly promoted so many false dates and calculations. That is why there have been and will continue to be the likes of Jim Jones, David Koresh and other deceivers. We have all heard of false dates and of the people who were disappointed and their turning away, all the while God and His Lord and Christ becoming the target of mockery and scorn. This is in part due to silly Christians who are bringing shame to both themselves and their Redeemer by not truly studying all the tenants of their faith and therefore are willfully ignorant of the word of truth. Sadly there are likely more believers have thoroughly read and embraced for their doctrine foundation the fictional “Left Behind” series than they have God’s own word.

Sisters and brothers, true prophets and teachers, real men of God are both broken and humbled by the things God has shown them. Men who found themselves in fear and trembling before a holy God that has revealed His truths to them because of their continuing in His word and abiding in Christ. True godly men of the likes of Charles Spurgeon, Leonard Ravenhill and David Wilkerson and countless more worthy to be mentioned who were truly purchased and redeemed, lovers of their great Redeemer, men who openly walked worthy of the vocation wherewith they were called. Not like so many arrogant men who are nothing more than showmen thinking themselves to be something when they are not. Deceived and deceiving, waxing worse and worse, ever learning and never able to come to the truth while they build great religious empires and making fortunes instead of truly building up the body of Christ.

Ga 5:26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory [confident they are leaders and teachers], provoking one another, envying one another. 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

1Th 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.  5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:  6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.  7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:  8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.  9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.  10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:  11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,  12  That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

We need to examine those who teach us, as well as everything we are being fed and swallowing as God’s own truth, lest we too find ourselves victims of deception in these perilous days. The admonishment to “prove all things, hold fast to that which is good” or sound is not optional for the believer. Yet sadly too many are comfortably entrenched in their strongholds of church creeds and statements of faith, clinging to the lyric of a favorite song as if it were an oracle of God. When challenged by the truth they only dig deeper into their trenches by debating (a work of the flesh), looking feverishly through scriptures that they might refute others . . . rather than allowing the holy scriptures to be unto them as it is, the sword of the spirit to lay them completely open and exposed so that the water for the word from God’s brazen laver can thoroughly cleanse them as sacrifices, making them holy and acceptable unto God.

2Co 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

These “strongholds” we are called to pull down are not sins, for sin simply needs to be repented of. That is not to say some sins are not more entangling and addictive, but if Jesus forgives us and frees us, then are we free in deed. Rather these are doctrinal strongholds, imaginations and reasonings created by the adversary and foolish men to prevent seekers from coming to the knowledge of the truth; false doctrines or lofty thoughts (high thing) that that “exalts” itself against the true knowledge of God, nothing more than lies that men have been persuaded to believe as truth. Even Saul had his stronghold of faith from which he went out persecuting the church, absolutely convinced he was serving God while doing damage beyond number to the very sect of believers which as Paul he later became a master builder thereof.

Friends, today the weapons of our warfare are still mighty, they are still the greatest the world has or ever will see for our victory here and now in this world. They are the sure word of prophecy, our very sword of the spirit which is the word of God and prayer. We must be, we need to be diligent in seeking God via His holy word and giving ourselves completely to seeking God’s face in prayer, setting aside the weights and sins that would hinder and distract us as we endeavor to draw near to Lord and Savior. By studying God’s word and keeping ourselves humble, the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth . . . if we will follow. But we must be willing to keep all our present beliefs on the altar before Him, allowing them to be adjusted and fine tuned by Him as we continue to study, watch and pray. Where else are our beliefs to find greater security but on God’s own altar. Such is not an act of doubt; rather it is faith in trusting the Spirit of Truth to establish us in His was . . .  versus us defending our own way.

If God spared not His own Son, then certainly it is God’s desire is to give us abundant wisdom and knowledge, but what makes it all worth having and knowing is when He gives us an understanding to go with it. For knowledge, with all the “who, what and where” accompanied by the applicable wisdom of “when and how” will only puff us up if we are not humbled under the understanding of “why.” As we continue to grow in Christ we will always return to the conclusion that the “why” of all things is always attached His glory and namesake and because we love Him with all our hearts.

Pr 4:1  Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.  2 For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.  3 For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.  4 He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.  5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.  6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.  7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.  8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.  9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.  10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.  11 I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.  12 When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.  13 Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.

With all the disasters, wars, rumors of wars, pestilence and famines going on in the world today amidst all the prediction, calculations, doctrines and theologies flying all over the place, there is only one object for our faith, Jesus Christ. He has given His own His Spirit. We need to return to humble servitude and prayerfully seek His face and let Him illuminate His word to guide us through these times. Like Peter and John, some of us are destined to be sheep for the slaughter, martyrs whose death will truly be precious in the sight of the Lord, while some of us will have other fates and deliverances, but all for His glory. Let us therefore take the time today to center ourselves again on the Rock of our Salvation and trust Him to establish us afresh in His truth.

Remember, God still is the rewarder of all those who diligently seek Him.

Peace.

William

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