Friday, February 3, 2017

Are We Modern Day Pharisees?

And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. – John 5:37-40

I mentioned in another post, that I occasionally go and look at the YouTube videos on End Times, Last Days, etc. predictions, mostly because they are beside other news, but also because I am amused at some of the time and effort that people are putting into creating these things. I had a sobering experience about the danger these videos pose last night. As I was engaged in bible study and prayer this morning, something struck me from John 5.

Before I expound upon John 5, let me explain what happened last night. I don’t want to get in too deep, because this isn’t a political discussion. My wife had gotten a video on, believe it or not, Facebook, which had her in a panic. What she was telling me and what was in the video was nothing like any of the news that I’ve been seeing and reading, so I looked at where the video came from. Let’s just say, it came from one of the sources from which I believe about 1% of what is said and 5% of what is shown.

Deception is Powerful

It was deception by the serpent that got us into this mess in the first place. Let’s look at the actual conversation from Genesis 3:1-5.

He said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Believe it or not, deception hasn’t changed. It still comes in the same form:

·         God lied to you.
·         God doesn’t want you to know and understand things. He makes things confusing and complicated.
·         You can be God over yourself.

You would think that Satan would have gotten tired of using the same tactic and would have switched to something else, but he hasn’t. Why? He hasn’t switched because this approach is extremely powerful. You doubt God’s veracity, you think those fundamentalists are just keeping you from knowing things and believing what you want to believe, and you can do what you want.

The Scribes and Pharisees Were Trapped in Deception

Earlier, in John 5, Jesus had healed a man beside the Pool of Bethesda. The man had had his condition for 38 years. You would think that healing a man of a 38 year infirmity would have been an occasion to see that God really was working through Jesus, but Jesus did something that the Pharisees simply couldn’t get their heads around. He healed the man on the Sabbath and, if that wasn’t enough, He had told the man to carry the bed he had been laying on back to his home.

It sounds ridiculous to us, but to the Pharisees, who did not have the New Testament testimonies in order to look back on the books of the law and the prophets, it was too much to take. After all, no one from God would break the laws of the Sabbath. When they started questioning Jesus about it, He only made it worse, in their eyes. He claimed that He was equal to God.

Jesus Addressed All Three of Satan’s Lies

Jesus addressed all three of Satan’s lies in John 5:37-40. Let’s look at how Jesus addressed each of the three lies, which were deceiving the Pharisees.

1.      God lied to you. “And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.” When you don’t believe God or Jesus, through your actions, you are questioning their veracity. Deeper still, is the fact that His Word does not abide in you.
2.      God doesn’t want you to know and understand things. “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” This one is a little more difficult to see at first. Consider that the Pharisees were similar to our modern academics and attorneys; experts. They were intent on interpreting the law according to their own wisdom. Jesus wasn’t fitting into those interpretations and He was threatening to undo their comfortable seats of understanding (Psalm 1).
3.      You can be God over yourself. “But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” They could have believed in Jesus in that very moment. They could have celebrated the man’s healing and rejoiced that the Messiah was walking among them. Doing that, however, meant that they would no longer have their positions of power and authority. In essence, being willing to come to Jesus to receive life meant that they would have to give up being God over themselves.

Because the Pharisees and those who believed the “experts” rejected Jesus as the Messiah, most of the Jewish nation rejected Him as well. After all, Jesus didn’t come in the way that He was supposed to come. The way that they were interpreting the scriptures had them looking for something entirely different. I wonder if we’re doing the same as we look toward Jesus’ second coming.

Jesus Second Coming Will Come the Same Way He Came the First Time

I’m finally getting back around to those End Times, Second Coming, Signs of the Times and the Rapture Has to Be on February 17th videos, which I mentioned in my introduction. To begin with, most of them are wildly speculative and try to fit puzzle pieces together that weren’t meant to fit together. The church is being deceived. How could I make such a statement? There are a number of reasons, which I cover in another blog post called Christianity Is Drifting, but I also believe that those who are making the videos are looking at the wrong signs and expecting things to happen in a specific series of events. Jesus is, once again, a stumbling block to those who try to wrap their own wisdom and understanding around Him.

The Wrong Signs

I’ll admit that I’ve been tempted to get wrapped up in watching the end times signs develop. I almost got to the point of believing them and looking for the series of events to continue in an orderly step by step all the way up until the rapture happens and all hell breaks loose on earth.

Some of these arguments seem very sound and reasonable when you search through the scriptures and interpret them in a way that supports the theory, which is exactly what the Pharisees were doing. They had theories of the Messiah based on what they’d read and studied in the books of the law and the prophets, but they were wrong, just like so many of the theories of the rapture and final judgment which have been tossed out there over the last four or five years.

The Right Signs

So, if the systematic progressions of Revelation being fulfilled are the wrong signs, what are the right ones? I think they are signs of the Spirit. Don’t get nuts and think I’m going Pentecostal. When I speak of signs of the Spirit, I am referring to actions and attitudes that are in hearts and minds rather than visual ones.

Sign #1. As it was in the days of Noah. (Matt 24:37)

That statement sits between two others that give a clue to its meaning. The one before it says that no one except the Father knows when these things will happen. The one after it says, essentially, they were going on about their regular, daily lives. Do you see the spiritual implication in there? Let me point it out to you. Noah and his family were saved from the flood because they were focused on their faith in God’s promise (they believed God was telling the truth) and God’s business (working out their salvation). They were not being sidetracked by worldly pursuits. Our worldwide culture is sidetracked. You only need to look at how much time people are spending time with their faces focused on their smart phones to recognize this truth.

Sign #2. Take heed that no one deceives you. (Matt24:5)

Jesus is speaking of false prophets who come in His name. The phrase, “the devil is in the detail,” come to mind. The great deception that is being passed off as being prophesy is in charts, and graphs, and digital star charting that predicts star positions, and cleverly constructed theories. Whatever figure is fashionable as being evil is the new anti-Christ. Every single one of these theories of when the end is coming has been false and every single one of them that comes in the future will be false as well. Why? Because NO ONE knows, except the Father. NO ONE, included Jesus. (Matt 24:36) These theories are not based in what Jesus has told us, but upon interpretations that we make for ourselves.

Besides the false prophets, we are being deceived constantly. The fake news is accusing fake news of being fake news while the real fake news is falsely claiming to be the real news and accusing the real news of being the real fake news. I don’t even have to explain that to you. Truth no longer matters. Verifying facts no longer matters. Recanting an error or correcting a falsehood is unheard of. The phrase, “that might be true for you, but it’s not true for me,” isn’t used out loud any more, but it is certainly in the heart and mind of the vast majority of people across the face of the planet. If you don’t believe me, declare a solid biblical truth in a discussion on a social media site and see what happens. There is NO regard for the truth any longer.

Sign #3. For men will be lovers of themselves. (2 Timothy 3:2)

The vast majority of people in our world are concerned with one person and one person only, that includes Christians, that probably includes you and it definitely includes me when I’m not focused in the right direction. That one person is themselves. In an individual sense, this has always been true as men battle to put off the old man and allow the new, born again man to take over. What I’m speaking about, is on a broader, worldview sense.

Those of you from my generation and older, will remember a time when people weren’t so completely self absorbed. Remember when men used to open doors for women? A man would open a door, let his wife, girlfriend, sister or whomever pass through and then pass through himself. If another man came along behind him, that man would take the door from the first man and hold it for those with him and so on and so on. I have stood for five minutes, on many occasions, while one after another, after another, after another men passed through the door without taking it from me. It seems unimportant, but it really isn’t, it is a reflection of the spirit of self-absorption that permeates our world.

Don’t believe me? Go back to the smart phones and social media. Ultimately, what is our worry over these things? Keeping ourselves connected with other people has become more important than staying connected to Jesus. Trust me, I struggle with it too.

What is the answer then?

Keep building our arks. Not the answer you were expecting? Think about it for a minute and it will make sense to you. Go read Genesis 6, 7 & 8 if you need a refresher. Noah didn’t spend all of his time talking about the coming flood. He responded a few times, but he built the ark. He believed what God had told him, he followed the directions that God laid out for him because he had absolutely no idea what an ark was, let alone how to build one, and he didn’t try to be his own God. Noah didn’t create elaborate charts of how and when the flood was going to come. He didn’t try to set a date. He stayed busy working on his salvation and the salvation of those around him.

To wrap it up, deception is the problem and Jesus is the ONLY answer. You defeat deception by:

·         Believing that Jesus is who He says He is, and is not lying to you.
·         Believing that knowledge and wisdom in Jesus is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God and not by our own wisdom, understanding and personal experience. Even with the best of intentions, we can and do err.
·         Allowing Jesus to be your God rather than trying to be your own God.

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