Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Race to Armageddon

During the last month, two things have caught my attention and reminded me that the end is coming at an ever increasing rate. These two things are not new; they have been going on for years. Nor are they directly related. Yet they provide a telling picture of the coming conflict.

The first was an article about the North American Union.1 According to this article, the leaders of the United States, Canada, and Mexico have met and are working on a plan to unite the three countries into one geopolitical unit, similar to the European Union, called the North American Union. Portions of the plan would result in the virtual elimination of the international borders between these countries, a tremendous increase in economic activity among the countries, and the merging of the laws and currency of the three nations. In other words, the United States of America would have ceased to exist as a separate, sovereign nation. And all without the consent or support of the American people.

And this is just one small [relatively] part of a larger plan that has been going on for decades to unite the world in one global community. Many Christians feel this will usher in the rule of the antichrist and the persecution of Christians worldwide.

The second was a reminder at a Wycliffe banquet about the work of Bible translation that is going on around the world. During the past several years, the pace of Bible translation has been accelerated dramatically, to the point where Bible translators are hoping to have started translation in every language that needs one by 2025.2 That is a tremendous task indeed, and the obstacles seem daunting, but over a century has already been cut from the job since the adoption of Vision 2025, as the goal is termed. And the acceleration is increasing continually, as more and more Christians catch the vision and support the work of Bible translation through giving, volunteering, and praying.

The Bible repeatedly ties the reaching of all language groups with the gospel with the end of the age.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Matthew 24:14

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
Revelation 5:9

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
Revelation 14:6

As I thought about these two continuing developments in the last great saga of the universe, I couldn't help but think of the difference in response to each of them. The first reaction, at least of conservative Christians, would be to fight to the death to avoid the creation of the North American Union, while also supporting the work of Bible translation as they think necessary. But is that the proper response?

We already know from prophecy that a one-world government ruled by evil incarnated will arise in the last days. The details of how that will come about are sketchy, but I don't think it would be a stretch to say that the NAU would be part of that plan. If it is, nothing we can do will stop it from happening.

On the other hand, we also know from Jesus' words that the gospel will be preached to all nations, and that people of all languages will be present around the throne of God. Again, the details of how that will happen are also not clear, but it would not at all be a stretch to assume that Bible translation will be a vital part of that. If it is, nothing Satan can do could stop it from happening. But anything Christians can do to make it happen sooner will shorten the reign of evil. The Bible says that "The longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) That means it's up to us to reach all nations as quickly as possible.

So which is the better strategy? To use our resources and time to fight the inevitable evil, or to use them to further and accelerate the inevitable good? The end is coming. How soon it comes depends on us. We decide, at least to a certain degree, how evil the world will be when Jesus returns. If we persist in wasting time fighting the inevitable evil, the inevitable good will take longer to be accomplished. And the longer that takes, the more evil the world will get.

Another thing to think about is that as the world slides more and more into violence, confusion, natural disasters, etc. as the end approaches, fewer and fewer people will have the economic means to support the work of Bible translation. Right now we are still extremely rich, with abundant resources available and the technology and equipment to carry out the numerous Bible translation projects going on. But that will change in the not too distant future, if not because of persecution, at least because of a poor economy.

So again, it is up to us, right here, right now to decide how we will fight in this battle, whether we will defensively oppose the evil or offensively support the good. True, to go on the offense will lose us many things we hold dear. But is America really more important than the souls of men and women or the will of God?

Armageddon is coming. What are you doing about it?

1. Kerby Anderson, "North American Union", on the Christian Worldview Network. See also "The Federal Reserve: The Engine of Power" and "The Twilight's Last Gleaming?", both by Chuck Missler.

2. Vision 2025 on the Wycliffe International website.

Monday, October 09, 2006

"If I Should Die Today"

If I should die-today-
Would I have lived in vain?
If I should lose my all-right now-
What would I gain?

What treasures do I have in store,
What mansions in the sky?
What memories and friends below?
What lasting legacy?

What service rendered to my King,
What love to others shown?
What joyful song I "used to sing",
What seeds of kindness sown?

What kind of witness would I leave,
If I should die today?
Would anyone in Christ believe,
And choose the Narrow Way?

"Dear Lord, I know how weak I am,
And-oh!-so prone to stray!
But yet I hope that by Your grace
E'en just one soul would see Your face
And be caught up in Your embrace
Because they watched me run the race
And through it faithful stay-

If I should die, today."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Identity Crises

Have you heard the news? Pluto is no longer a planet!1,2,3 Science books have to be re-written--we now have only eight planets in our solar system.

It seems that the discovery of several heavenly bodies as big as or bigger than Pluto has forced the scientific community to come to a definite decision in their long debate about what a planet is, exactly. Either they had to accept three new planets into our solar "family" or kick tiny Pluto out. Turns out Pluto had to go. It did not fulfill all the requirements of being a planet by the new definition.

Not everyone is happy with this turn of events, and some astronomers are even circulating a petition to overrule that decision. I had no idea "logical, unbiased, unemotional" scientists could get so upset over an issue of semantics. Ironically, Pluto is now defined as a "dwarf planet", which makes the whole deal seem somewhat frivolous.

Pluto isn't the only one dealing with an identity crisis, however. It seems the Anglican Church [and more specifically the Episcopal Church, which is the U.S.'s branch of the Anglican Church] is almost at the point of division, with some conservative Episcopalians no longer wanting to be associated with the Anglican Church.4,5,6 Unlike the debate over Pluto, this disagreement is far from frivolous or unimportant. The Anglican Church has, among other things, ordained at least one openly gay bishop, and supports gay relationships between professing Christians. Some contend, and rightly so, that these things should not be in the Church of Jesus Christ, and do not feel like they can conscientiously be a part of or support a denomination that does so.

Just the fact that such a debate exists in the church in the first place is a sad testimony to the confusion and deception that has taken hold of the church in recent years. But identity crisis at the denominational level is only a symptom of a much deeper problem--identity crisis in Christians as individuals.

The term "Christian" has become so diluted it has all but lost its meaning. Anyone and everyone is a "Christian" these days, regardless of how they live their lives or what they believe. Or at least they are Christians by today's definition of the word. But, unfortunately for those who are Christians in name only, God does not play word games. His definition of "Christian" is the same as it always was, and it will never change. The Father of Lies can re-define "Christian" to include anyone he wants, but his vote does not count in the Throne Room of the King of the Universe. And there is coming a day when many who considered themselves Christians by Satan's definition will be rudely awakened to find that by the proper definition they are not Christians at all, and, like Pluto, will be excluded into outer darkness, separated from the family of God, because they do not meet the qualifications of a real Christian. However, unlike the situation with Pluto, there will be no opportunity for a re-vote.

Are you a real Christian, or only a "dwarf planet", as it were? Have you "made your calling and election sure"? (2 Peter 1:10) If not, I encourage you to "examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith;" (2 Corinthians 13:5) How can we know?
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.
Romans 8:16

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Matthew 7:20

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.
John 14:21

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
1 John 2:3-6

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
1 John 3:14

Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
1 John 4:15-16

A Christian never has to have an identity crisis--I can know that I know who I am in Christ. I'm a child of the KING, and will outshine the stars! And, thankfully, no amount of redefinitions or hand-raising votes can change that!

  1. Dinky Pluto loses its status as planet by William J. Kole, from the Associated Press.

  2. Pluto Demoted: No Longer a Planet in Highly Controversial Definition by Robert Roy Britt, from

  3. Astronomers: Pluto just a dwarf by Dan Vergano, from USA Today.

  4. Dallas Episcopalians contemplate break with national church
    by (Corpus Christi, TX), from the Associated Press.

  5. A new school of thought for conservative Episcopalians: Seminaries partner to unify conservative voice by Jay Lindsay, from the Associated Press.

  6. Episcopal split mulled in Dallas by Matt Curry, from the Associated Press.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

SETI--The Search for a New "God"

I came across an article1 recently about the connection between SETI and the evolutionary search to find meaning in life apart from God. Normally, one would associate NASA and scientists such as those involved in SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) with those who would distance themselves from anything resembling UFOs, aliens, and that sort of thing. After all, these are supposed to be the logical, intelligent, scientific scholars, not wacky fanatics that claim UFO sightings and believe in Atlantis.

And indeed, these researchers do claim to have strong basis in science for their work. After all, "if life evolved here on earth, why could it not also evolve on another planet somewhere in the universe?" Their goal is to make contact with any such intelligent civilization that might be out there, and they attempt to do this by scanning the skies (using radio telescopes) for anything that would be considered an intelligent message from outer space.2

Yet behind the cool, collected, "scientific" facade there lies the hope that maybe somewhere out there someone or something exists that could give hope and provide answers for the human race, answers that people all over the world have been looking for since time began.

Sadly, this quest has little to do with real science, and a lot to do with the emptiness modern society brought upon itself by denying the existence of God and refusing to acknowledge Him as Creator and Master of their lives and destinies. Refusing to acknowledge the real God and accept and believe what He tells us in His Word, they are forced to look elsewhere for meaning and purpose in life, and for someone or something to worship and obey. Whereas others look within themselves (humanists) or at the world around them (naturalists), these people look into outer space.

Ironically, despite their effort to distance themselves from UFOs and all the associated mythology and just plain weirdness, SETI-ites end up in the almost identical position of relying on supposedly more intelligent and advanced (in the evolutionary sense) civilizations to provide the answers to humanity's problems.3

Unfortunately, in doing so they open themselves wide to Satan's deception. Just as Satan and his demons have used the popularity and allure of UFOlogy to gain a foothold in many people's lives (and through those people spread his deception even further), he is using the lie of evolution and the false hope of extra-terrestrial "saviors" to turn people away from God and lure them within his grasp.

As C.S. Lewis' demon Screwtape tells his nephew Wormwood in The Screwtape Letters4, "I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us [demons] (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy [God]." I am afraid that they have succeeded, since there remains little doubt in my mind that "aliens" are nothing more than demons "though not under that name". Furthermore, "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness;"5 The stretch between believing in advanced civilizations in outer space to advanced beings in another dimension is not insurmountable, and would allow the "logical, scientific" mind to believe in demons while denying the existence of God. But, of course, demons would not represent themselves as what they truly are, but rather as "angels of light", or to use more modern terms, "spirit guides". They would, and do, claim to be here to help man achieve a higher evolutionary stage. But of course, there would be some requirements that need to be met. With the state of the post-modern mind, befuddled by "tolerance" and multiculturalism and relativism and New Age ideas, any objection to those requirements would not stand for long.

This is not something theoretical that I am making up, by the way, but is actually happening.6 SETI is looking for intelligent extra-terrestrials. Many ufologists claim they have found them. And that they have messages for us. And those messages are not at all friendly to Christians or Jews [wonder why, of all religions, these two would be singled out?].

Make no mistake about it--Satan is at work in the modern UFO/alien obsession, and more subtly so in the SETI. While they may deny it, SETI is in reality a search for a new god, one to replace the God they "killed". Satan is only too happy to oblige.

Let's not fall for his deception by going along with it, or denying that it exists, or ignoring it. It is a real threat to us as Christians and, in fact, as humans. There is intelligent life out there, and it comes in two "flavors". If you choose to ignore or deny the existence of Him who communicated with us thousands of years ago His express will, the only intelligent life left for you to find, to your detriment, is the same serpent that Eve found when she decided she knew better than God and denied His word. The results were not pretty then, and they won't be now either.

It's up to us to "choose you this day whom ye will serve."7 Will you look to SETI for the answers to life questions, or will to look to God, who has revealed to us all we need to know in His Word? The choice is yours.

  1. Patrick J. Burwell, "Of Faith and Fantasies: S.E.T.I is of the Religion of Evolution" on the Christian Worldview Network 8/12/06

  2. Gary Bates, "SETI--Coming In From the Cold of Space" from Answers in Genesis 11/3/03

  3. For more articles discussing these issues, check out the following:

  4. C.S.Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1961), 33.

  5. 2 Corinthians 11:14, KJV

  6. For a detailed discussion of the many aspects of this issue, read Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection, by Gary Bates (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004).

  7. Joshua 24:15, KJV

Monday, July 10, 2006

Change of Pace

I've decided to adopt a change of pace. I'm afraid I've rather strayed during the last few months from my stated purpose for this blog. A blog should be updated more than once a month, in any case, and I simply don't have time to go into as much detail as I would like to when discussing such issues as Creation/Evolution and the role of Christians in politics. I won't drop those discussions, but will transfer them elsewhere, where I will have more time and space to ramble as I please. I'll provide a link once it's ready. The only drawback will be the lack of a place to respond to the articles, other than an email address. I'll see if I can arrange something. Not that any significant number of comments have been coming in anyway, but... :)

From now on, I'll try to post more often, hopefully at least once a week, and will limit each post to one specific topic or item I've read or heard about recently. With all that's been going on in the world lately, there are plenty of opportunities to apply the Truth to our lives.


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Two Covenants - Two Kingdoms

"Is the New Covenant essentially different from the Old? Are we not still to carry a sword AND a trowel?"

The New Covenant

The New Covenant and its relationship to the Old is far too broad and detailed a topic to study in depth here, but we will attempt to take a brief look at what the New Covenant is, what the natures of both Covenants are, and how they relate to each other, before applying that to the two kingdoms involved, and finally to the issue of Christians in politics. A rather round-about route, I must admit, but we must of necessity lay the foundation before putting on the roof. First, though, a look at the New Covenant.

Perhaps the most concise summary of the New Covenant is stated in the well-known verse, John 3:16--
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Another concise description, albeit with slightly more detail, is given in the form of a prophecy in Jeremiah 31:31 - 34--
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:... this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

A third summary that describes God's part in more detail is found in Hebrews 9:14 - 15--
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

Finally, man's part in response to God is summarized in 2 Corinthians 5:14 - 15--
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

Notice in the second passage quoted above that the very core of the New Covenant is essentially the same as that of the Old: "I will be their God, and they shall be my people." The working out of that relationship, however, is radically different. To establish the New Covenant, God Himself became a man in the person of Jesus Christ, and gave His life for sinful man, becoming the spotless Lamb who was slain so mankind could be restored to a right relationship with a Holy God. Man's part is to acknowledge his need of redemption and accept Christ's sacrifice as the free gift that it is; and, as the last passage describes, to live thereafter for the One who died for him.

The Natures of the Covenants

Although we have already briefly touched on the nature of the Old Covenant[s], let's take a little deeper look at the natures of both Covenants, and see how they compare to each other. [In this section, Old Covenant refers primarily to the covenants with Abraham, Moses, and David.]

First off, we see that the Old Covenants were very specific and limited in scope. The promise was to Abraham and his descendents only, the nation of Israel and proselytes only, and David and his descendents only. The New Covenant, on the other hand, is universal in nature. "God so loved the world."
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

The Lord is...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9
John 6:37

While being specific in nature, the Old Covenant was also corporate--an entire group of people was included, usually by no choice of theirs. The covenant was to all of Abraham's descendents [through Jacob], the entire nation of Israel, and David's descendents as a group. The New Covenant, on the other hand, is made on an individual basis. You have to personally choose to become a part of the New Covenant, you cannot be born into it or inherit it.

Part of the reason for this difference is that the Old Covenant was primarily physical, while the New is primarily spiritual in nature. Abraham was promised a physical son, a geographical parcel of land, and physical blessings. The children of Israel were promised a physical nation in a physical territory and physical blessings conditioned on obedience to physical rituals, rules, and guidelines. David was promised a physical son to sit on a physical throne over a physical nation. Included in each of these was a promise with a future spiritual fulfillment, as we shall discuss later, but the primary concern was physical. Under the New Covenant, however, Christians make up a spiritual nation, one without geographical boundaries or civil governments. The commands of Jesus in the New Testament deal primarily with our souls and spirits, and issues of a spiritual nature. The blessings we are promised are also primarily spiritual in nature. Again, the physical is also involved, since Jesus died a physical death and physically rose from the dead, but the victory accomplished was spiritual in nature. His commands often deal with the physical, but only as the outworkings of the spiritual. His blessings are sometimes physical, but depend on our spiritual condition.

Because the Old Covenant dealt primarily with the physical, it was also temporary in nature. Isaac is no longer living, the entire land of Canaan no longer belongs to the nation of Israel, the temple no longer exists in Israel, the rituals and ceremonies are no longer all observed, the Jews are no longer God's chosen people [more on that later], the laws are no longer in effect, Solomon is long dead, the ruler of Israel is no longer a direct descendent of David, nor even a king. In short, many, if not most, of the promises involved in those covenants no longer hold true in the physical sense. We will look at what happened to them later, but for now let's just say the immediate concern of the Old Covenant has already been fulfilled or dealt with, and it is no longer in effect. The New Covenant, however, is eternal in nature. It will never pass away or become obsolete. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." Matthew 24:35 The spiritual promises of the New Covenant hold true for all eternity. Jesus said, "It is finished" on the cross--God has made His final covenant with man. We either take it or leave it--it will not be changed. (Galatians 1:8)

One aspect that both covenants share is the double-fulfillment principle. Each promise contained both an immediate and a future fulfillment. God's promise of a seed to Abraham pointed both to Isaac, and to Christ. His promise of land pointed both to Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem. The rituals and laws of Moses served both to draw men to God in that time and to point forward to Christ. The promises of blessing conditioned on obedience were both to the nation of Israel for their time and to the church for our time. God's promise to David of a son on the throne was referring to both Solomon and Christ. In the same way, Jesus promises us under the New Covenant both present freedom and ultimate deliverance from sin, both present redemption and ultimate redemption, both present blessings and ultimate rewards, both present freedom and ultimate deliverance from corruption, to sup with Him both now and in eternity.

So we see that for the most part the Old and New Covenants deal in entirely different realms and have [at least on the surface] decidedly different goals and methods. What relationship then do these Covenants have with each other? How do they interact and mesh? Or are they mutually incompatible? We will look at this in some detail in the next post.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Two Covenants - Two Kingdoms

"Is the New Covenant essentially different from the Old? Are we not still to carry a sword AND a trowel?"
--Handiwork (see discussion under previous post)

The Old Covenant

As a continuation of the discussion under the previous post, and also to address the principles involved in the issue of Christians in politics, let's take a relatively brief look at the two Covenants in the Bible--namely, the Old Covenant (or Testament) and the New Covenant (or Testament)--and the Kingdoms they represent.

There are actually several different covenants in the Old Testament, each of which builds on the other, adding more details and information as time goes on. The first such covenant, though it is more of a promise than an agreement, is recorded in Genesis 3:14-15:
And the LORD God said unto the serpent,...I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
In context, this statement is actually a curse pronounced on Satan by God at the Fall of Man, but included is a promise to the first two humans that one of their descendents would at some point in the future defeat the serpent. This "covenant" was universal in nature, since it included all of mankind, and had both literal and spiritual fulfillments in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, when he defeated death and the devil (crushing the serpent's head) at the expense of His own life (bruising the Seed's heel).

The second covenant, as recorded in Genesis 9: 8-11, was made to Noah and his sons after they left the ark:
And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

The reason for this covenant is given in Genesis 8:21-22.

And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

This might seem a little odd, since this is the very reason God had sent the Flood in the first place :

And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
Genesis 6:5 - 7

While it is not stated outright, I believe that included in this covenant is the promise of a Redeemer. Man's sinfulness before the Flood had reached a point beyond which the holiness and justice of God could allow, and He therefore destroyed them. But even after the Flood, man's heart had not changed. It wouldn't be very long before God again brought judgement (at the Tower of Babel) on a people who were already well on their way to the level of wickedness of their ancestors who were destroyed in the Flood. But rather than there being an endless cycle of increasing wickedness followed by universal judgement, God promised that this would be the only universal judgement, at least by water. Did that mean that God would overlook sin from now on? Absolutely not. It is not in the nature of God to overlook sin. So if it is a given that man will increase in sinfulness, that God cannot overlook sin, but that He will also not carry out periodic universal judgement, then it must mean that God will deal with man's sin in a different way.

The initiation of that new and better way occurred not too long afterward with the institution of the third major covenant between God and man in the Bible--God's covenant with Abraham. Whereas the previous two covenants were universal in nature, this covenant was to one individual and his descendents. Included in this covenant were promises of a son, numerous descendents, a certain section of land, present blessing, and future blessing through him to all the world.

Genesis 12:1-3

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Genesis 13:14 - 17  

And the LORD said unto Abram,...Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.

Genesis 15:5 - 7  

And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.

Genesis 17:1 - 8  

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations....And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (If you have time and access to a Bible, read also verses 9 - 14)

Genesis 22:16 - 18  

By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

If you skipped or skimmed over those verses, please go back and read them carefully--they are important for our discussion, and we will talk more about them later. For now, let's notice a few things about these promises. First, they are made to a physical individual, a real, historical person. Second, most of what was promised was also physical--physical descendents through a physical son, a specific geographical territory to be physically occupied, and other physical blessings. Third, the descendents would be innumerable, and the land would be their's forever. Notice also the differences between this covenant and the previous ones. As we mentioned before, this one is to an individual, versus to all people. Also, this covenant had certain requirements that the individual needed to fulfill, and was based in part on the obedience and cooperation of Abraham with God's commands and desires; whereas the previous two were made by God freely, with no requirements of the recipients or conditions on them.

This covenant was renewed with each of Abraham's descendents in the "line of promise" as time went on and each became the head of the family. This produced a narrowing effect, as far as which descendents God was talking about, since some of Abraham's descendents branched off in succeeding generations, and were not included in the promise. The result was that only the descendents of Jacob were counted as the "children of the promise", though Abraham had many other descendents still living. [As an interesting side note, Jacob was the first Jew rather than Abraham, since all of Jacob's descendents were Jews, while Abraham was also the (ancestral) father of the Ishmaelites, Edomites, and various other people groups.]

It was with Jacob's descendents that the next covenant was made, the major covenant of the Old Testament in many respects--the covenant made with the nation of Israel through the spokesperson Moses. To give all the details of this covenant, I would have to paste in the books of Exodus through Deuteronomy. Instead, I'll just list a few places that give a general overview of the covenant, and encourage you to read through those books on your own.

Exodus 19:3 - 8  

And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him.And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.

Deuteronomy 26:16 - 19  

This day the LORD thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. Thou hast avouched the LORD this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice: And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the LORD thy God, as he hath spoken.

Deuteronomy 30:15 - 20  

See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

Read also Deuteronomy 28.

While the details of this covenant were many and varied, the substance of it is given in the words of Jeremiah 7:23, " I will be your God, and ye shall be my people." Here God was expanding His covenant with Abraham, and filling in the details of the people's part. Notice the marked difference between this and all the previous covenants, in regards to the requirements and conditions involved. Not only were there numerous responsibilities given to the people as part of this covenant, there were also severe punishments for failing to fulfill those requirements. At the same time, the blessings for obedience were also numerous. In addition, the way was made open for man to come to God in a much closer way than ever before.

As we look back on the Mosaic covenant, we tend to get depressed at all the details of sacrifice and ceremony, while forgetting that it was through those physical means that man was able to approach Almighty God and obtain redemption and pardon for his sin. Note that those who were not born Jews could also become a part of this covenant, with equal standing before God. Here was a way for all men to be re-united with the Creator they were separated from at the Fall and the Flood. It was a way very much tied to physical rituals and a specific geographical location, but it was a way nevertheless.

Yet even this system, with all its detail and rigidity, was only temporary, a pre-cursor to a new and better covenant, one that would truly be universal and eventually restore mankind fully in their relationship with their Creator.

Before we look at that New Covenant, there is one final covenant in the Old Testament that we must take note of--God's covenant with the house of David. In David's time, the Mosaic covenant had long been established, and the nation of Israel had gone through numerous cycles of obedience/blessing and rebellion/punishment. God's promise to Abraham concerning the land of Canaan had been fulfilled, and Israel was now a prosperous nation. Now, God was promising the throne of Israel to David, and to his house forever.

2 Samuel 7:8, 11 - 16 

Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David,...the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.

That promise was renewed to David's son Solomon:

1 Kings 9:3 - 9 

And the LORD said unto [Solomon], I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house? And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil.

As with the other covenants, the immediate application dealt with the physical: a physical son to sit on a physical throne over a physical kingdom. Included in the covenant, however, was a far greater future fulfillment: a Son on the throne forever. The immediate application was conditional on obedience. The final promise was based on God's grace.

In fact, the same could be said for at least the last three covenants discussed. Each dealt first with the physical, but inherent in each was a promise of something better in the future. Man's obedience appropriated the physical blessing. God's grace ensured the spiritual promise.

So rather than a single Old Covenant, we find an unbroken chain of covenants, stretching from Adam to David, and ultimately pointing to Jesus. Each successive covenant narrowed the field--the Seed must be the son of Adam, Abraham, Jacob, David--and raised the bar--complete perfection was absolutely necessary--until the field was so narrow that only Jesus could fill it and the bar so high that only Jesus could reach it. If we could describe all of these covenants in one way, it would be as an arrow pointing forward to Jesus and the new and better way, the living way.

We'll talk about the New Covenant in the next post.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Neither Right Nor Left--Nor on the Fence

Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
Proverbs 4:25-27

This is sound advice in our day, when Right and Left, Conservative and Liberal, moderate and fundamentalist are constantly jostling for position as the correct view of reality. Especially since such competition, if you will, is not limited to politics, but is rampant in the "loving, unified" Body of Christ.

Let me make it clear right from the start that I'm not proposing some kind of "middle ground" "on the fence" position that tries to accomplish the impossible by combining and reconciling these diametrically opposed viewpoints. Far from it. Nevertheless, it has often been said that there are two ditches, one on either side of the road, and Satan doesn't care which one you fall into, just as long as you are off the road. I am afraid that many Christians, for fear of sitting on the fence, have forgotten that they are on a road, and have ended up lying in a ditch, which is far worse. In this case, the two ditches are called "Liberalism" and "Conservatism", or "Left" and "Right," respectively.

This was brought out to me in a strong way as I was reading some articles on the Christian Worldview Network recently. [Now don't get me wrong. I highly respect this excellent apologistic and evangelistic resource, and use it often. To tell the truth, I lean more strongly to the Right on most issues than to the Left. Still, both sides have some serious errors that cannot be overlooked, which is why I do not consider myself either Right or Left. I'll explain more later.]

I noticed a link to an audio interview with a well-known leader of the liberal Emerging Church movement, Brian McLaren, and decided to listen. I was saddened and somewhat frightened at what I heard, though not entirely surprised. Saddened that something like this could actually be considered a part of the Church of Christ, and frightened at the positive reception it is having even among evangelicals [just read some of the responses at the link above]. Among other things, Hell is said not to exist [or at least not as we traditionally believe], Jesus is just one of a large number of good examples of a life of love and self-sacrifice, sin is primarily a failure of humans to get along with each other, our primary goal is to fulfill God's will for us here on earth [eg, feed the poor, protect the environment, ensure good health care for everyone] while eternal things aren't as important [eg, salvation, witnessing to the lost], and we should not be as exclusive in our Christianity and think that this is the only way. Listen to it for yourself. Or, if you don't have time, read this shorter critique by Jason Carlson on the CWN.

The Christian Worldview Network, and similar conservative organisations, do a good job of pointing out the kinds of errors that liberals get into. They can show why such teachings are unbiblical, or even heretical. But at the same time, they have their own blind spots.

Take, for instance, the article by Jan Markell entitled, "Should America Kick Out Muslims That Want to Live Under Islamic Law?". The author favorably describes the banishment of Muslims who want to practice Islamic Law from Australia by the government, and encourages America to do the same. She also implies that such Muslims should not be allowed to hold "high political offices". The general attitude that comes through is one of hostility, almost hatefulness. How different from Jesus' command to "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" (Matthew 5:44) Or to "Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:17-21) We are to love those Muslims and share the good news with them, not thrust them out in hostility. That is precisely what we criticize them for doing in their own countries. Even apart from Jesus' teachings, whatever happened to freedom of religion that Conservatives care so much about? Or does that only apply to Christians? Of course, if someone has known connections to terrorists, or is actively planning violent acts against the government, they should be watched and dealt with accordingly. But to banish an entire group of people simply because of their religious beliefs is not very "Conservative", not to mention Christian.

Another example is the article, "Was Jesus Political?", by Mark Creech. While acknowledging that Jesus' ministry was primarily spiritual, the author tries to find secondary political "corollaries" or ramifications for many of Jesus' teachings. It is true that many of the principles Jesus taught could be and have been applied in the area of politics, but to assert that Jesus was including secondary political meanings in His spiritual teachings seems to me to be stretching it a bit. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus and the Apostles stressed that the Kingdom of God was not of this world, and neither should its citizens be.

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15 "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord," 2 Corinthians 6:17 "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:2 "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:33 "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26 And on it goes.

We are to forsake everything--our possessions, our family, our rights, our very lives--and yield complete and total allegiance to our new King. How then can we cling to the kingdoms of this world?

Furthermore, the laws of the Kingdom of God and the laws of the kingdoms of this world are almost always in direct contradiction. We have to obey the one or the other. We cannot obey both. Herein lies one of the chief errors of the "religious right". If the Constitution and the laws of earthly kingdoms were the final authority, they would be right on in most cases, and I would be one of them. But the laws of the Kingdom of God are the ultimate universal authority, and I must abide by them, as must all Christians.

These laws are often quite different from the principles Conservatives hold dear. In fact, Liberals are sometimes much closer to them than Conservatives are. For instance, as mentioned above, we are to love our enemies, yet "When the United States ponders going to war, nowadays 'Bible-believing' Christians are invariably the ones who are the most adamantly in favor of military action," as David Bercot points out in his book The Kingdom That Turned the World Upside Down. [(Texas, USA: Scroll Publishing, 2003.) 68.] How can we love our enemies and be in favor of killing them at the same time? Conservatives often try to "legislate morality", but the Bible clearly teaches that a person, and also a society, must be changed from the inside out. The Church is to use the Spirit to impact society, not the State. The Apostles and early Christians did not petition Rome to allow Israel to be a free country once more, nor did they try to influence the Empire through politics to follow their beliefs. Rather, they put their zeal into spreading the gospel of the higher Kingdom, one that is without geographical boundaries or political parties. They obeyed and submitted to some of the worse dictators in history, without complaining that they were losing their tax exempt status. [Bad illustration, but you get the idea.] Patriotism is another area in which these Christians were noticably lacking. Paul said that "my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." (Romans 10:1) Not, "that they might be free from the Roman Empire" or "that they might regain their original territory", but that they would be saved. And in the end, that is the best kind of patriotism a Christian can have.

So what am I saying? I guess what I'm trying to point out is that God's Kingdom is not made up of Conservatives or Liberals. It is made up of Christians. Not those who stick to a particular ideology, or even theology, but those who know Jesus Christ personally, and live it out in their everyday lives. Rather than crusading for a particular viewpoint, we should be witnessing for Jesus and living out the Kingdom life according to Kingdom laws.

The liberals miss this by denying the King. Jesus is the only Way, Truth, and Life. The Conservatives miss it by denying the laws. Jesus' Kingdom is not of this world. Rather than falling into either of these ditches, we should take heed to Proverbs and stay in the middle of the road. After all, the road is very narrow, and the way dangerous. But if we are truly seeking, God will lead us in the right way.

Whatever ditch you are in, get out. Start walking the narrow path, with Jesus and His Word as your guide, not some man-made ideology or creed. Forget about being a Liberal or a Conservative. Be a Christian.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

What is Science?

This is one of the most important questions we must answer in our discussion, since the question of what is scientific and what isn't directly hinges on the definition of science.

Yet, despite the importance of the definition, and the reputation science has of being exact, an unambiguous definition of science that everyone would agree with is hard to come by. The general principle behind it can be stated as "the study and theoretical explanation of natural phenomena"1 or "knowledge based on observed facts and tested truths arranged in an orderly system"2. But a working definition that would enable us to distinguish between studies and knowledge that are science and those that aren't is much harder to come by, at least one that everyone would agree on.3 What, exactly, are the criteria for determining what is science and what is not? What is the scope and purpose of science? What rules are it governed by? These are harder to get a consensus on, or at least a consistent consensus, especially when it comes to the creation/evolution debate. We will discuss these questions in more detail later, but for this post, let's focus on the basic question of what science is.

Perhaps the best way to do that is to discuss what science is not. For quite a while now, science has been viewed in an almost "holy" light, almost as if it were the Ultimate Source of knowledge and the Absolute and Final Authority in almost all matters. Not in so many words, of course, but the idea is suggested by such common phrases as "science says" or "scientists believe", the implication being that if "scientists say" so, it must be so. Perhaps a more easily recognized concept of science is the reputation it has for being an objective, unbiased, emotionless, systematic machine that is only interested in the cold, hard facts, regardless of the implications or consequences. Neither of these concepts are accurate or even justified.

Note in the above definitions that science is described as a "study", "explanation", and "orderly system" of "knowledge". At its heart, science is merely a system that man has devised to study what he can see, hear, feel, and measure in an organized and efficient way. It is a tool that mankind can use to increase his knowledge about his surroundings, hopefully so he can put that new-found knowledge to good use to better his condition. As a tool--and a man-made one at that--it has many weaknesses, shortcomings, and limitations. It is far from universal in scope, nor is it by any means always accurate in its pronouncements nor appropriate in its application. Science is carried out by scientists, who are far from objective, unbiased, or emotionless. Indeed, scientists can fight and argue just as much and as vehemently as politicians or religious leaders, with each passionately defensive of his own idea or theory.4 New ideas or breakthroughs in science sometimes take longer to make it through the "bureaucracy" of science than some laws do to make it through the legislature.

Furthermore, science is not even synonymous with truth. Science can be, has been, and undoubtedly is wrong in many of its pronouncements. Scientific theories are revised, updated, or discarded quite regularly. Science textbooks quickly go out of date. Even established laws and "proven facts" are sometimes significantly revised or completely discarded. Old models are quickly moved out of the way to make place for new. In short, science is a constantly changing, constantly revising study.

This is not at all to minimize the importance or power of science. Indeed, most of that change is progress, as newer and better explanations, theories, and models replace the older, inadequate ones. What I am trying to do is emphasize the fact that science is not absolute, it is not final, it is not set in stone. It is merely an extremely powerful and ever improving tool that man has developed to better investigate his surroundings. Because it was developed by man, and is used by man, it has all the faults and limitations of man. It is not some all-powerful, all-knowing, always-right, final authority.

So what is science? It is a tool, a powerful tool, but still a man-made tool. In short, science is a powerful tool that mankind uses to gain knowledge about his surroundings. Such is the nature of science. Nothing more, nothing less.

In the next post, we'll discuss in more detail the limitations of science.


1. The American Heritage School Dictionary; Davies, Peter, Barry Richman, and Fernando de Mello Vianna, editors; (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1977).

2. The World Book Dictionary, 2 vols.; Barnhart, Clarence L. and Robert K. Barnhart, editors; (Chicago, Illinois: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1987).

3. For a brief discussion on this from an evolutionary perspective, see "Is Evolution Science, and What Does 'Science' Mean?", by John S. Wilkins in Evolution and Philosophy on Talk.Origins.

4. See also, "A Look at Some Myths About Scientists" by Carl Wieland of Answers in Genesis in Creation [11(3):29 June 1989].


By the way, perhaps I should explain a little about the post subjects. Since the creation/evolution posts take a lot of time and research, and I don't have enough free time to do that research very often, I've decided to use posts that don't take as much time or research in between the c/e ones. This keeps the blog from sitting for months without being updated. Hopefully sometime in the future I can figure out how to keep all the c/e posts together so it has more unity. In the meantime, I'll just have to jump back and forth. I would really like to be able to update it at least twice a month, but I'd need to learn to write concisely then. :)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Let's Pray

Pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17

men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
Luke 18:1b

Stand therefore,...Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Ephesians 6:14, 18

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
1 Thessalonians 1:2

Brethren, pray for us.
1 Thessalonians 5:25

The command, exhortation, and request to pray is repeated often in the Bible. Often, we hear sermons about the importance and necessity of prayer. Frequently, we read of the far-reaching effects of prayer. Almost daily, we are flooded with requests to pray for missionaries, pastors, ministries, outreaches, activities, families, needs, governments, difficult situations, revival, blessing, help, and the list goes on. Always and on every side we are bombarded by the need for prayer.

But why? What is it about prayer that is so important? Why do people want it so much? Why is prayer in such high demand? What, exactly, does it accomplish? We've all heard the phrase, "Prayer changes things." But how?

I don't know if I can answer those questions fully. In fact, I don't think I know very much about prayer at all, really. Oh, I know that prayer is talking with God. I know what words to say and phrases to use when I pray. But to really, truly give myself to prayer is something that I confess is foreign to me.

We sing about the "sweet hour of prayer", yet when was the last time you spent a full hour in prayer? I'm not so sure that I've ever prayed that long. My longest "prayers" are when I start daydreaming or fall asleep on my knees. I would doubt whether I am physically capable of praying for one full hour.

Neither do I know what it means to "agonize in prayer" over something or someone. I must say, to my shame, that I have never actually experienced that. True, I have prayed somewhat more earnestly than usual for some things or some people, but nothing that you could justifyably call "agonizing".

Another song we sing says that "I love to steal a while away" to pray. This too, is something that I have not experienced very often. Yes, I have my normal "scheduled" prayer and devotional time. But I have never actually taken time out of my duties especially to pray.

Still less often have I fasted and prayed. Praying is hard enough on its own, without depriving myself of the physical necessity of food.

How then, can I really know what prayer is all about, if I have never really prayed? And I mean prayed.

I've been challenged lately about my lack of experience in the area of prayer. I need not only more quantity time praying, but more quality time. It is extremely easy to get sidetracked and distracted while praying. And I think there's a reason for that. Satan knows that "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16) He will do everything and anything he can to keep God's people from praying.

This fact was brought home to me more fully while reading Frank Perreti's book, This Present Darkness. The book is written like a novel, with angels and demons as primary characters, and the intense spiritual battle between them being acted out in part by their human counterparts in the physical realm. The demons far outrank the angels in strength as well as in numbers, and the angels are forced to assume a "watching and waiting" policy until they can gather enough "prayer cover" to give them sufficient strength to go on the offensive. The idea behind it is that the strength and effectiveness of the angels in spiritual warfare rests upon the strength and sincerity of the prayers of the saints. Only when the "Remnant" is aroused and start praying in earnest can the angels effectively ward off the attacks of the demons and foil their plan.

While this book is only fiction and is highly imaginative, it does bring out a very strong point--if we are to stand our ground, much less go on the offensive, we need to be praying. Not five- or ten-minute "Lord bless so-and-so" prayers, but real earnest, agonizing, "wrestling with God" type of prayers. "Sweet hour of prayer" needs to take on a literal meaning for us. It has been noted that no great revival has ever occurred in the absence of prayer. We cannot expect one to occur now.

If we are really serious about wanting a revival, we need to get really serious about praying. And so, I challenge you, as well as myself--Let's pray!