Common ground (Part 2)

In the first part, we talked a bit about the importance of going back to basics in our churches, in order to eliminate the current doctrinal disagreements and start fresh. We identified 3 main pillars of Protestant theology, and pointed out that this is the main message of the Bible. If the Protestant Christians all agree on these three main doctrines, then there is indeed hope for working together to spread the message to the whole world.

We must, absolutely must, take the message of salvation to every man and woman on this earth. Jesus’ second coming depends upon this action. The reason why this is so, is because people cannot make an informed choice unless they know all sides of the argument. Before His second coming, there will be a falling away (2 Thess 2:3), and the man of sin will be revealed, again. At this point, the people of the world will have to choose between God and the man of sin.

We cannot make that decision unless we know the character of God. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23), we cannot fix ourselves, but Jesus has already paid the price for our sins. All we have to do is accept His sacrifice. The character of God is such that He would die, so that we don’t have to. The best analogy I can conceive is that of a parent loving their child so much, that they sacrifice everything in order for that child to be safe, free, and happy.

Aside: I have recently had a conversation about hell with someone on an internet forum. From that conversation, I came under the impression that some Christians view God as a vengeful, vindictive being who can’t wait to punish us for our sins. I was treated with passage after passage from the Bible that hell will be like a 24/7, eternal, ongoing punishment for those who dared defy God. I’m a simpleton, and I like to take my teachings from Jesus directly. Whenever I come across a passage in the Bible that seemingly contradicts what Jesus said, I put Jesus’ teachings first.

Jesus says that at the end of this world, after the millennium, everyone who fought against God and His people is cast into the lake of fire and that this is the second death. This is my yardstick to determine what exactly will happen in those days.

Q: Is death eternal?
A: Yes, of course it is.

Q: When you die, do you rise up, and die all over again, for eternity?
A: No, you only die once. In the case of those who fight God, they die twice (first death and second death). In either case, the second death is eternal.

Q: Do you serve a vindictive God or a loving God?
A: I serve a loving God, not one who punishes the husband in front of the wife, the son in front of the father, or the mother in front of the daughter, for ever and ever and ever.

What kind of doctrine is that of a God who behaves like a petulant child burning ants with a magnifying glass? It lessens the character of God, therefore it is a doctrine of devils.

Even in judgment, God is loving. His punishments are just, but He will not torture sinners for all eternity, in full view of the saved. I believe that all Protestant Christians need to agree on this point. We need to view God from this lens of reluctant discipliner, like a parent. This would go a long way to make a distinctions between the people of God, and the people of the one who revels in punishing others (see the book of Job).

Let’s move back on track now, to the gospel going out to the world. Once this is done, the people of the world must make a choice. The Christian church will act as a catalyst in this situation, and there will be no more fence-sitters (thank you to Mike Manea for this wonderful analysis). Once we all know where we stand, the people of God will be persecuted, even unto death.

This particular doctrine varies between denominations. Some people believe that the church will be taken out of the world before the tribulations begin. I firmly believe that will not be the case. Christians must endure persecution. We must be tested to ensure that we truly believe what we preach (Isaiah 48:10). Hypocrisy must be weeded out of the church in the last days. This is harsh, but it is in line with the character of God. Another note here is that I believe that this is the cutoff for any further repentance. In other words, if people have not chosen God by this point, they will not choose God at any future time, so repentance is no longer available. This is actually good news for Christians, because it means Jesus is very close.

After persecution, we will have plagues, but they will not touch the church, nor the individuals in the church. Many of those who are against God will die, and just as many will curse God. This time will be quite short, for the benefit of the church. It won’t be easy to live through all this as a Christian. In fact, it will be quite traumatic. Jesus said that the days will be cut short, else no one would survive (Matthew 24:22). For the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened.

At last, after much suffering, persecution, and trauma, REJOICE, for Jesus comes in glory, and every eye shall see him. He comes with His angels, to gather up His people, and we will meet him in the sky. The dead in Christ (the deceased believers) will rise first, then those of us who are alive will be gathered up, just as a mother hen gathers up her chicks. Thank God that we know this will happen. Thank God that we are given this great instruction manual that tells us the conditions we need to watch.

In part 3, we will step back in time a bit and talk about the mark of the beast, and a bit more about the topics discussed in this post, such as the close of probation.

May God bless you and keep you in His fold, strong in faith, slow to anger, wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.



Common ground (Part 1)

The protestant denominations have been dividing Christianity for many centuries. Even before Protestantism and the reformation, the Catholic church and the Orthodox church were divided. It seems that Christians love division, and we just can’t get along.

The reason we are divided is because of Satan. He loves to see us fight and squabble over minor doctrinal points. When we fight over the small differences, we tend to lose sight of the big picture. A very good saying is that we “can’t see the forest for the trees”.

We are all Christians, we who call upon the name of Jesus Christ. Some of us may worship on Sundays, some on Saturdays, some not at all. When we get down on our knees, however, and call upon the Son of God, we are telling Him that we are His.

What is the big picture? What is Satan trying to distract us from? Maybe it’s something important. Maybe it’s something that Jesus told us to do. Maybe by fighting the small battles, we are losing the war. The Bible records our most important task in many places, and here’s one of them: Mark 16:15 “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation'”.

Do you think that maybe Satan doesn’t want us to do that? I think so. I think that he’s pulling the wool over our eyes.

Now, here’s another interesting question. Why do we talk about Satan so much? Why am I talking about him right now? The Bible is about Jesus, not Satan. We should focus our attention on Jesus, not his arch-enemy.

In order to do this, I believe we need to go back to basics. Forget our differences in doctrine, whatever they may be, both between denominations and within denominations. Forget all of it and start fresh with a clean slate. We can only do this if we start building our doctrines from scratch, based on the Bible and the Bible alone, keeping the three main pillars of Protestantism as the most important core beliefs.

The three pillars are:
1. We are all sinners
2. We cannot change our sinful state on our own
3. Salvation is a gift from God, which we accept by faith

That’s it! That is the main message of the Bible. Over and over again we see the same pattern repeating. It all culminated 2000 years ago when Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice, thereby atoning for all of our sins, forever.

From here, we can build our doctrine to include the next big event in world history, the second coming of Jesus. As Christians, this is our homecoming, prom, wedding, all rolled up into one. Our Saviour is coming to break the dominion of sin in this world, and He is bringing our reward with Him (Revelation 22:12).

The end cannot come unless the gospel is preached unto the world. This is why we are being distracted by Satan. He knows that his dominion is about to end. He is just trying to make it last just a bit longer, grab a few more souls for the lake of fire. His tactic has worked so far, and I hope that we can all see it for what it is, a deception. I hope and pray that Christians around the world will just stop fighting each other and focus on our mission, to preach the gospel to the world so that we can go home.

In the next part, we will talk about what will happen before the second coming of Jesus Christ, and how we can overcome deception.