25 December, 2012

What really happened at Christmas?

(Written by Jack Kelley)
In the past I’ve made the case that Jesus probably was born sometime in September. If that’s the case then what really happened in December? Is Christmas just the result of overlaying Christian beliefs on a formerly pagan holiday as some believe, or is there more to it?

Happy Hanukkah

To find the answer we begin with a look at the Jewish Feast of Hanukkah. Maybe you’ve heard the story of Hanukkah, but if not here’s a brief summary. In 165 BC, during the time of the Maccabean Revolt, the Jews recaptured their desecrated Temple from Syrian dictator Antiochus Epiphanes and undertook a rebuilding and cleansing process to make it fit for worship again. (Angry with the Jews and defiant toward God, Antiochus had captured the Temple, sacrificed a pig on the altar, and erected a statue of the Greek god Zeus in the Holy Place requiring everyone to worship it on pain of death. This outrageous act rendered the Temple unclean and became known as the Abomination of Desolation.)

07 November, 2012

The Gospel of the Kingdom vs the Gospel of Grace

Part 2. The Gospel Of Grace

(Written by Jack Kelley)
The word “grace” appears 170 times in the English translation of the Bible, 37 of them in the Old Testament.  Of the 133 remaining, only four are contained in the gospels and they all refer to the Lord Jesus (Luke 2:40, John 1:14, 16, 17).  The Book of Acts contains 10 appearances, and  2 others can be found in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 1:4, Rev. 22:21) where they essentially open and close the book. That leaves 117 references to grace in the various Epistles.
As it's used in the New Testament, grace is clearly a word that is meant for the Church. It comes from the Greek word charis, which is defined as “the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.”

30 October, 2012

The Gospel of the Kingdom vs the Gospel of Grace

Part 1.  The Gospel Of The Kingdom

Written by Jack Kelley)
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matt. 3:1-2)

Prophecies of a Messianic King appear throughout the Old Testament and many in the Jewish leadership saw John's arrival on the scene as their fulfillment.  They sent representatives to the place where John was baptizing to see if he was the promised Messiah. He said he wasn't, but that the one they had been expecting was even then in their midst (John 1:19-28).
750 years earlier Isaiah had said when the Messiah came He would reign on David's throne forever (Isaiah 9:6-7) but the throne of David had been vacant for 600 years.  John had come to tell them the time was finally at hand and they had better get ready for Him.
When Jesus began His ministry, John introduced Him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:8) and publicly testified that Jesus was the Son of God (John 1:34).  Right from the beginning Jesus began teaching that the Kingdom of Heaven was near (Matt. 4:17), and sent His disciples through out the land to alert the people to this fact as well (Matt. 10:7-8). 

09 September, 2012

Why Ezekiel 38 Will Precede Daniel 9

(Written by Jack Kelley)
“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.

“Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble” (Daniel 9:24-25).

Dispensationalists believe, with good reason, that there’s one “seven” left to fulfill from the promise the angel Gabriel delivered to Daniel near the end of the Babylonian captivity. From the King James translation we know the prophecy as Daniel’s 70 weeks, where each week represents 7 years. 69 of these weeks (7 plus 62) had passed when the Messiah presented Himself to Israel as their King on the only day in His life that He did so. On our calendar it became known as the first Palm Sunday.

27 August, 2012

Life Is About Decisions

(Written by Grant Phillips) 
Have you ever thought back over your life and considered the decisions you have made; especially those that have taken you in a new direction? We have all made good decisions and bad ones. Hopefully, there have been more good ones than bad, and there would be, if we would just stop and think before we act.
Far too many of our decisions have been made because of emotional circumstances, and these can often get us into trouble. For example:
·        A young boy and girl are together, and their hormones are raging. If they don’t cool down, their emotions will take over, and their lives take a course they hadn’t planned on.

20 August, 2012

The End Times Empire Part 2

(Written by Jack Kelley)
Periodically over the past six years I've written about the similarities between Islamic prophecies of an end times leader they call al Mahdi and Biblical prophecies about the one we call the anti-Christ. In their respective prophecies they're both said to come on the scene during a time of great turmoil on Earth, both will claim a desire to restore peace, both have a seven year reign, both head a one world religion and one world government, both claim supernatural origins, and both reigns end in a battle between good and evil that brings Earth's final judgment.

16 August, 2012

The End Times Empire Part 1

(Written by Jack Kelley)
In the updated commentary on Rev. 17-18 I recently posted, I briefly summarized two major opinions concerning the end times world government. The view that it will be a revival of the Biblical Roman Empire has been universally accepted among believers for generations, but recent world events have caused some to propose an alternative in the form of an Islamic Empire.
The purpose of this study is to is to look at these alternatives in greater detail than I was able to do in the Rev. 17-18 commentary and see if we can come to a conclusion about which is more likely, because as I think you'll see they both have some pretty compelling support.

20 July, 2012

Standing In The Way

(Written by Jack Kelley)
There are lots of news reports, articles, and even books devoted to the deteriorating state of America and speculating on the likely outcome. Reading them has brought several things to my mind.
As an example, I remembered something Hal Lindsey said 20 years ago about the then current world situation. He said he had been wondering how God was going to fulfill end times prophecy while the Soviet Union was standing in the way of the revived Roman Empire taking its prophesied place in the end times.
The term “revived Roman Empire” comes from Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as a prophecy of “Gentile Dominion”, the time during which Gentile Empires would rule the world. (Daniel 2:31-43).

01 June, 2012

The Nature Of Post-Church Salvation

(A Bible Study by Jack Kelley)
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matt 24:12-13)
In the debate over the timing of the Rapture, one point is often overlooked. And that is that the terms and conditions of salvation during the Great Tribulation are vastly different from those during the Church Age, and therefore couldn’t be meant for the same group. In both cases salvation is by faith alone, but that’s where the similarity ends. This presents another argument for Church Age believers being taken before the Great Tribulation begins.

23 May, 2012

The Truth about Roman Catholicism

There are approximately 1 Billion Catholics worldwide. Catholicism claims to be Christian, and Catholics will always say they are "Christians".
It is strange however, that most professing Catholics, while being devout and sincere in their faith, are completely in the dark as to what the official standpoints of the Catholic Church are; and more alarmingly, what the Bible says. The Laws of Catholicism include the Catechisms and Canons of the Church; laws fabricated and written by men that deny the pure and simple Gospel of Jesus Christ. These catechisms and canons are the laws governing the Catholic church, under which ALL Catholics fall and are subject to. What many don't realize is that by following this Church and it's traditions, they are committing a very serious offence in the light of what Scripture says. The purpose of this article is to turn the spotlight of truth upon Roman Catholicism and show conclusively that Roman Catholicism is NOT Christianity.

18 May, 2012

Seven Dispensations

(Written by Jack Kelley)
The first attempt has been called the Age of Innocence. Between the Creation and the Fall of Man God interacted freely and personally with man. Man was created immortal and while he had agency (the power of choice) he didn't have a sin nature. God placed Adam and Eve in His garden and gave them only one restriction. But they violated this restriction and were expelled from the Garden. Adam, Eve, and the Serpent who beguiled them were all judged, the Creation was cursed, and sin entered the world.

Then came the Age of Conscience. From the Fall of Man to the Great Flood, God allowed man's conscience to rule without Divine interference. Because of man's newly acquired sin nature, the result of this was "the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Genesis 6:5) After repeated warnings, God destroyed all but 8 members of the Human race in the Great Flood.

10 May, 2012

The Spirit of Anti-Christ

(Written by Jack Kelley)
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. (1 John 2:18-19)
These days, any kind of teaching about the coming anti-Christ is very popular. But less than 60 years after the cross John was already writing about the spirit of anti-Christ being evidenced in the false teaching that would later come to be known as “gnosticism”. The fact that those false teachers had come from among believers gave them a certain credibility in the growing church, but in John’s view the error of their doctrine proved that they had never been true believers. “For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (1 John 2:19)

26 April, 2012

His Mercies are new every Morning

(Written by Jack Kelley)
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

There’s always been a pattern in the way God deals with man’s disobedience. This pattern was first seen in the Garden and appears repeatedly in the lives of the Patriarchs, in the history of Israel, and all through the Old Testament. Disobedience brought consequences, but confession brought forgiveness and a new beginning.

Take the case of Abraham. The Lord had said to him, “Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go into a land I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). But Abraham took his father, his nephew Lot, and all their families with him, and went only as far as Haran, about half way, where they remained for several years. After his father died, Abraham completed the journey, again with Lot and all the possessions and people they had acquired in Haran, finally arriving in Canaan many years after they first started out (Gen. 11:31 and 12:4-5).

10 April, 2012

Why should I believe in Christ's resurrection?

(from QotQuestions.org)
It is a fairly well-established fact that Jesus Christ was publicly executed in Judea in the 1st Century A.D., under Pontius Pilate, by means of crucifixion, at the behest of the Jewish Sanhedrin. The non-Christian historical accounts of Flavius Josephus, Cornelius Tacitus, Lucian of Samosata, Maimonides and even the Jewish Sanhedrin corroborate the early Christian eyewitness accounts of these important historical aspects of the death of Jesus Christ.

As for His resurrection, there are several lines of evidence which make for a compelling case. The late jurisprudential prodigy and international statesman Sir Lionel Luckhoo (of The Guinness Book of World Records fame for his unprecedented 245 consecutive defense murder trial acquittals) epitomized Christian enthusiasm and confidence in the strength of the case for the resurrection when he wrote, “I have spent more than 42 years as a defense trial lawyer appearing in many parts of the world and am still in active practice. I have been fortunate to secure a number of successes in jury trials and I say unequivocally the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.”

25 March, 2012

Global March to Jerusalem

(Written by Donna Wasson)
Come on everybody, pack a picnic lunch, grab your honey and don’t forget the sunscreen ‘cause ya’ll are invited to participate in the Global March to Jerusalem, to be held on March 30th! This event hopes to draw at least 1 million Arabs and their supporters to march on and attempt to infiltrate Israel’s borders, as well as demand freedom for Palestine and its capital, Jerusalem. What a party it promises to be!
Organized on the sly by Iran and approved by its supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, this fun filled event is being presented as part of a new strategy designed to increase regional unity against the ‘Zionist occupation of Jerusalem’, and is based on the ‘Resistance Axis’, made up of Syria and various terrorists organizations, used as proxies by Iran. Apparently Iran is too shy to support this publically.

25 February, 2012

You Don’t Mess With Israel!

(Written by Donna Wasson)
Geesh! Some so-called Christians these days get on my last nerve. I made the mistake of reading the excellent article, So Jesus Lived in Occupied Territory, by Jan Markell, on the Rapture Ready website and got so disgusted I wanted to stick a pencil in somebody! Up until that point, I was blissfully unaware that an international conference called, Christ at the Checkpoint even existed. Blech!

Apparently this symposium, held in Bethlehem of all places, features some of the ‘intellectually elite Christian thinkers of our time.’ This yearly conference started in 2010 and its overall theme is, (hold your nose!) “Hope in the Midst of Conflict.”

Their aim is to, “provide an opportunity for Evangelical Christians to prayerfully seek proper awareness of issues of peace, justice and reconciliation in the context of the realities on the ground in the Palestinian territories.” What a load…

10 February, 2012

Peace And Safety

(Written by Jack Kelley)
Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (1 Thes. 5:1-3)

The one time when people are sure to talk about peace and safety, is just after they've experienced the horrible effects of war. For example, I remember as a kid seeing movies of people dancing in the streets of New York when they learned that World War 2 had finally ended. Soon the military was all but dismantled and people everywhere expressed a joyous expectation of peace.

Of course this turned out to be only an illusion. A scant five years after the end of WW2 the US was at war again in Korea. But people have an amazing sense of optimism, even if it's only based on illusion, something I think we're about to have confirmed again in 2012. I think circumstances are ripe for a brief but intense war in the Middle East.

19 January, 2012

The Powerful Delusion

(Written by Jack Kelley)
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (2 Thes. 2:9-12)

It’s no secret that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is preoccupied with the coming of a Shiite Islamic messiah figure, al Mahdi. This continues to raise concern that a nuclear-armed Iran would create the kind of global chaos he believes will be necessary to set the stage for the Mahdi’s return. Recent events seem to confirm this. For example, after years of promising that their nuclear ambitions are purely peaceful, Iran just announced their intention to test a 1 kiloton nuclear warhead this year. Iran’s Supreme Leader is thought to favor announcing Iran’s nuclear capability as an accomplished fact as soon as possible.

11 January, 2012

Life's Most Important Choices

(Written by Jack Kelley)
Recently I've been asked about witnessing to “unsaved believers” as one writer called them. I usually refer to them as Christians-in-name-only. They call themselves Christians and do some things that make them appear to be Christians. They go to Church, make regular contributions, sign up for volunteer service projects, even teach Sunday School, but they're not born again. Being born again means you know you're a sinner in need of a savior. You believe Jesus died for all your sins and have asked Him to be your Savior. According to Jesus, people who are not born again will be denied entrance into the Kingdom (John 3:3) no matter how “good” they've been on Earth.

Very few Christians-in-name-only have actually refused to be born again, they just don't think it's necessary. They were taught that they're saved because they were baptized as infants, or because they belong to a certain church or denomination, or because they try to live a good life. They're relying on what someone has told them instead of learning what the Bible says. With all the necessary resources at their disposal, they've staked their eternal destiny on the opinion of someone who might not be saved himself rather than do their own homework.

07 January, 2012

If I Could Just Go Back

(Written by Grant Phillips)
How many of us have sat alone, pondering over our past life, and thought “If I could just go back and do it over?” If everyone were honest with themselves, there would be none to say they haven’t, simply because none of us is perfect. Even the best of us would wish we could do something over. Some even have nothing more than a total mess to look back on.

The Apostle Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on (emphasis mine) toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14 NIV)