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Sunday, April 20, 2014

EU Proposal to Monitor "Intolerant" Citizens

by TBC Staff - Source Link
Dec 18 2013
EU Proposal to Monitor "Intolerant" Citizens [Excerpts]
"There is no need to be tolerant to the intolerant" — European Framework National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance, Article 4
"The supra-national surveillance that it would imply would certainly be a dark day for European democracy." — European Dignity Watch
While European leaders are busy expressing public indignation over reports of American espionage operations in the European Union, the European Parliament is quietly considering a proposal that calls for the direct surveillance of any EU citizen suspected of being "intolerant."
Critics say the measure -- which seeks to force the national governments of all 28 EU member states to establish "special administrative units" to monitor any individual or group expressing views that the self-appointed guardians of European multiculturalism deemed to be "intolerant" -- represents an unparalleled threat to free speech in a Europe where citizens are already regularly punished for expressing the "wrong" opinions, especially about Islam.
The policy proposal was drafted by the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR), a non-governmental organization established in Paris in 2008 by the former president of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski, and the president of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor.
The ECTR -- which describes itself as a "tolerance watchdog" that "prepares practical recommendations to governments and international organizations on improving interreligious and interethnic relations on the continent" -- includes on its board more than a dozen prominent European politicians, including former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar.
Also known as the "Model Statute for Tolerance," the ECTR's proposal was presented as part of the EU's ongoing work towards a new "Equal Treatment Directive" (ETD) that would vastly expand the scope of discrimination to all sectors of life in both the public and private spheres.
Critics of the ETD, currently being negotiated within the Council of the European Union, say the directive seeks to establish an ill-conceived concept of "equal treatment" as a horizontal principle governing the relationships between all and everyone, thus interfering with the right of self-determination of all citizens.
According to European Dignity Watch, a civil rights watchdog based in Brussels, “The principles of freedom of contract and the freedom to live according to one's personal moral views are in danger of being superseded by a newly developed concept of 'equality.' It would undermine freedom and self-determination for all Europeans and subject the private life of citizens to legal uncertainty and the control of bureaucrats. It is about governmental control of social behavior of citizens. These tendencies begin to give the impression of long-passed totalitarian ideas and constitute an unprecedented attack on citizens' rights.”
According to Section 1 (d), for example, the term "tolerance" is broadly defined as "respect for and acceptance of the expression, preservation and development of the distinct identity of a group." Section 2 (d) states that the purpose of the statute is to "condemn all manifestations of intolerance based on bias, bigotry and prejudice."
An explanatory note to Section 2 states: "Religious intolerance is understood to cover Islamophobia" but it provides no definition at all of "Islamophobia," a term invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1990s. If taken to its logical conclusion, Section 2 would presumably ban all critical scrutiny of Islam and Islamic Sharia law, a key objective of Muslim activist groups for more than two decades.

The Resurrection of Christ

The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead with a glorified body is a foundational
truth of the New Testament. In fact, “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Cor. 15:17-19). 
But how can we be absolutely sure that He rose from the dead three days after He died on the cross for our sins? Even one of the 12 apostles denied His resurrection: “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Eight days later, Thomas saw Him in the upper room, and exclaimed: “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28). 
But how can we say what doubting Thomas finally confessed if we have not seen Christ as Thomas did? Our Lord gave the answer to him and to all men everywhere: “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (v. 29). 
This is an amazing statement! How can we believe in something so stupendous about someone who we have not seen? The answer may come as a surprise even to many Christians. It is the same dynamic    by which we can know how the world was created by God a few thousand years ago – not billions of years ago by chance through evolution. “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen [i.e., sun, moon, stars, plants, animals and people] were not made of things which are visible” (Heb. 11:3). 
Many people who believe in supernatural creation by an Intelligent Designer would question this. They are convinced that the theory of evolution has been disproven by the Second Law of Thermodynamics – which teaches that everything in the universe is deteriorating in quality – and by the obvious irreducible complexity of all living things. Therefore, they say, we do not need to accept creation “by faith.” (See John C. Whitcomb, Jesus Christ: Our Intelligent Designer [Waxhaw, NC: Kainos Books, 2012].)
But this involves a profound misunderstanding of what the Bible teaches. We are not told to take by faith what anyone says – but only what God has said. That is why “faith [in what He has said] is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb.11:1).
How do we know for sure that God is speaking to us? The first chapter of the Bible provides the answer: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’” (Gen. 1:26). Human beings are infinitely different from animals. We have a mind, a soul/spirit and a conscience. We have a unique capacity among all living beings on this Earth to hear God speak to us. “Gentiles… show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them” (Rom. 2:14, 15). When God spoke to our first parents, they did not say, “Who are you?” (See Rom. 1:18-23.)
One of the special ministries of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the triune Godhead, is to illumine our minds concerning divine realities. The Lord Jesus said of Him, “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15:26). Furthermore, “He will convict the world… of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more” (16:8, 10). And, “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” (16:13).
That is how some Greek politicians in Athens, hearing the preaching of Paul, were able to believe in the resurrection of Christ, likely without ever having been to the land of Israel – more than 500 miles away. “When they heard of the resurrection of the dead… some men joined him and believed” (Acts 17:32, 34).
Friend, do you believe that “Christ died for our sins… and that He rose again” (1 Cor. 15:3, 4)? Through the inspired words of the Bible, we are told that He was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom.1:4).
Do not wait until you see Him – like doubting Thomas. Believe in Him now – because your God, who created you, has told you to!
May every Christian in the world today trust the Holy Spirit to make us effective light reflectors for the resurrected and glorified Christ until He comes again.
Copyright © 2014 by Whitcomb Ministries, Inc.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.

Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
Dr. John C. Whitcomb is heard weekly as the Bible teacher on Encounter God’s Truth, a radio and Internet broadcast outreach of Whitcomb Ministries, Inc. He has been a professor of Old Testament and theology for more than 60 years and is widely recognized as a leading Biblical scholar. The book he coauthored with the late Dr. Henry Morris in 1961, The Genesis Flood, has been credited as one of the major catalysts for the modern Biblical creationism movement. Dr. Whitcomb’s broadcasts, sermons, lectures and writings are available at SermonAudio.com/Whitcomb. To receive the very latest on his ministry, like Facebook.com/WhitcombMinistries or myWorldview.com/WhitcombMinistries.

IS THE RAPTURE IN 2 THESSALONIANS 2:3?

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
  —2 Thessalonians 2:3
 I believe that there is a strong possibility that 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is speaking of the rapture.  What do I mean?  Some pretribulationists, like myself, think that the Greek noun apostasia, usually translated “apostasy,” is a reference to the rapture and should be translated “departure.”  Thus, this passage would be saying that the day of the Lord will not come until the rapture comes before it.  If apostasia is a reference to a physical departure, then 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is strong evidence for pretribulationism.
THE MEANING OF APOSTASIA
 The Greek noun apostasia is only used twice in the New Testament.  In addition to 2 Thessalonians 2:3, it occurs in Acts 21:21 where, speaking of Paul, it is said, “that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake (apostasia)Moses.”  The word is a Greek compound of apo “ from” and istemi “stand.”  Thus, it has the core meaning of “away from” or “departure.”  The Liddell and Scott Greek Lexicon defines apostasia first as “defection, revolt;” then secondly as “departure, disappearance.”   Gordon Lewis explains how the verb from which the noun apostasia is derived supports the basic meaning of departure in the following:
The verb may mean to remove spatially.  There is little reason then to deny that the noun can mean such a spatial removal or departure.  Since the noun is used only one other time in the New Testament of apostasy from Moses (Acts 21:21), we can hardly conclude that its Biblical meaning is necessarily determined.  The verb is used fifteen times in the New Testament.  Of these fifteen, only three have anything to do with a departure from the faith (Luke 8;13; 1 Tim. 4:1; Heb 3:12).  The word is used for departing from iniquity (2 Tim. 2:19), from ungodly men(1 Tim. 6:5), from the temple (Luke 2:27), from the body (2 Cor. 12:8), and from persons (Acts 12:10; Luke 4:13).
“It is with full assurance of proper exegetical study and with complete confidence in the original languages,” concludes Daniel Davey, “that the word meaning of apostasia is defined as departure.”   Paul Lee Tan adds the following:
 What precisely does Paul mean when he says that “the falling away” (2:3) must come before the tribulation?  The definite article “the” denotes that this will be a definite event, an event distinct from the appearance of the Man of Sin.  The Greek word for “falling away”, taken by itself, does not mean religious apostasy or defection.  Neither does the word mean “to fall,” as the Greeks have another word for that.  [pipto, I fall; TDI]  The best translation of the word is “to depart.”  The apostle Paul refers here to a definite event which he calls “the departure,” and which will occur just before the start of the tribulation.  This is the rapture of the church.
So the word has the core meaning of departure and it depends upon the context to determine whether it is used to mean physical departure or an abstract departure such as departure from the faith.
TRANSLATION HISTORY
 The first seven English translations of apostasia all rendered the noun as either “departure” or “departing.”  They are as follows:  Wycliffe Bible (1384); Tyndale Bible (1526); Coverdale Bible (1535); Cranmer Bible (1539); Breeches Bible (1576); Beza Bible (1583); Geneva Bible (1608).   This supports the notion that the word truly means “departure.”  In fact, Jerome’s Latin translation known as the Vulgate from around the time of A.D. 400 renders apostasia with the “word discessio, meaning ‘departure.’”   Why was the King James Version the first to depart from the established translation of “departure”?
 Theodore Beza, the Swiss reformer was the first to transliterate apostasia and create a new word, rather than translate it as others had done.  The translators of the King James Version were the first to introduce the new rendering of apostasia as “falling away.”  Most English translators have followed the KJV and Beza in departing from translating apostasia as “departure.”  No good reason was ever given.
THE USE OF THE ARTICLE
 It is important to note that Paul uses a definite article with the noun apostasia.  What does this mean?  Davey notes the following:
 Since the Greek language does not need an article to make the noun definite, it becomes clear that with the usage of the article reference is being made to something in particular.  In II Thessalonians 2:3 the word apostasia is prefaced by the definite article which means that Paul is pointing to a particular type of departure clearly known to the Thessalonian church.
 Dr. Lewis provides a likely answer when he notes that the definite article serves to make a word distinct and draw attention to it.  In this instance he believes that its purpose is “to denote a previous reference.”  “The departure Paul previously referred to was ‘our being gathered to him’ (v. 1) and our being ‘caught up’ with the Lord and the raptured dead in the clouds (1 Thess. 4:17),” notes Dr. Lewis.   The “departure” was something that Paul and his readers clearly had a mutual understanding about.  Paul says in verse 5, “Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?”
 The use of the definite article would also support the notion that Paul spoke of a clear, discernable event.  A physical departure, like the rapture would fit just such a notion.  However, the New Testament teaches that apostasy had already arrived in the first century (cf. Acts 20:27–32; 1 Tim. 4:1–5; 2 Tim. 3:1–9; 2 Pet. 2:1–3; Jude 3–4, 17–21) and thus, such a process would not denote a clear event as demanded by the language of this passage.  Understanding departure as the rapture would satisfy the nuance of this text.  E. Schuyler English explains as follows:
Again, how would the Thessalonians, or Christians in any century since, be qualified to recognize the apostasy when it should come, assuming, simply for the sake of this inquiry, that the Church might be on earth when it does come?  There has been apostasy from God, rebellion against Him, since time began.
 Whatever Paul is referring to in his reference to “the departure,” was something that both the Thessalonian believers and he had discussed in-depth previously.  When we examine Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he never mentions the doctrine of apostasy, however, virtually every chapter in that epistle speaks of the rapture (cf. 1:9–10; 2:19; probably 3:13; 4:13–17; 5:1–11).  In these passages, Paul has used a variety of Greek terms to describe the rapture.  It should not be surprising that he uses another term to reference the rapture in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.  Dr. House tells us:
Remember, the Thessalonians had been led astray by the false teaching (2:2–3) that the Day of the Lord had already come.  This was confusing because Paul offered great hope, in the first letter, of a departure to be with Christ and a rescue from god’s wrath.  Now a letter purporting to be from Paul seems to say that they would first have to go through the Day of the Lord.  Paul then clarified his prior teaching by emphasizing that they had no need to worry.  They could again be comforted because the departure he had discussed in his first letter, and in his teaching while with them, was still the truth.  The departure of Christians to be with Christ, and the subsequent revelation of the lawless one, Paul argues, is proof that the Day of the Lord had not begun as they had thought.  This understanding of apostasia makes much more sense than the view that they are to be comforted (v. 2) because a defection from the faith must precede the Day of the Lord.  The entire second chapter (as well as 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11) serves to comfort (see vv. 2, 3, 17), supplied by a reassurance of Christ’s coming as taught in his first letter.
DEPARTURE AND THE RESTRAINER
 Since pretribulationists believe that the restrainer mentioned in verses 6 and 7 is the Holy Spirit and teaches a pre-trib rapture, then it should not be surprising to see that there is a similar progression of thought in the progression of verse 3.  Allan MacRae, president of Faith Theological Seminary in a letter to Schuyler English has said the following concerning this matter:
 I wonder if you have noticed the striking parallel between this verse and verses 7–8, a little further down.  According to your suggestion verse 3 mentions the departure of the church as coming first, and then tells of the revealing of the man of sin.  In verses 7 and 8 we find the identical sequence.  Verse 7 tells of the removal of the Church; verse 8 says: “And then shall that Wicked be revealed.”  Thus close examination of the passage shows an inner unity and coherence, if we take the word apostasia in its general sense of “departure,” while a superficial examination would easily lead to an erroneous interpretation as “falling away” because of the proximity of the mention of the man of sin.
 Kenneth Wuest, a Greek scholar from Moody Bible Institute added the following contextual support to taking apostasia as a physical departure:
 But then hee apostasia of which Paul is speaking, precedes the revelation of Antichrist in his true identity, and is to katechon that which holds back his revelation (2:6).  The hee apostasia, therefore, cannot be either a general apostasy in Christendom which does precede the coming of Antichrist, nor can it be the particular apostasy which is the result of his activities in making himself the alone object of worship.  Furthermore, that which holds back his revelation (vs. 3) is vitally connected with hoo katechoon (vs. 7), He who holds back the same event.  The latter is, in my opinion, the Holy Spirit and His activities in the Church.  All of which means that I am driven to the inescapable conclusion that the hee apostasia (vs. 3) refers to the Rapture of the Church which precedes the Day of the Lord, and holds back the revelation of the Man of Sin who ushers in the world-aspect of that period.
CONCLUSION
 The fact that apostasia most likely has the meaning of physical departure is a clear support for pretribulationism.  If this is true, (Dr. Tim LaHaye and I believe that it is), then it means that a clear prophetic sequence is laid out by Paul early in his Apostolic ministry.  Paul teaches in 2 Thessalonians 2 that the rapture will occur first, before the Day of the Lord commences.  It is not until after the beginning of the Day of the Lord that the Antichrist is released, resulting in the events described by him in chapter 2 of 2 Thessalonians.  This is the only interpretation that provides hope for a discomforted people.  Maranatha!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Bible According to Hollywood 2

by T.A. McMahon - The Berean Call
Apr 1 2014
Here we go again. For those who may agree but are a little tired of my crying out for discernment regarding “biblical” movies, you have my apology…in the midst of my growing concern. Nevertheless, I covet your prayers for our brothers and sisters in Christ and for the multiple millions of the lost who are being presented with a caricature of the biblical Son of God in yet another Hollywood translation of the Word of God.
april cover.preview.jpg“So what?” some have asked. “It gets people interested in Jesus and the Bible, and that’s a good thing.”
Is it? Who is the Jesus that is capturing their attention? How close is the movie presentation to the biblical account? Does it make any difference?
No matter how close a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill is to the real thing, it’s still a fake. Legal issues and deception aside, it has no value as a currency. Yet someone who isn’t aware that the bill is fake may be thrilled initially if he were to stumble upon a satchel of such twenties. The thrill would end quickly, however, when he tried to spend the bogus money. Although the analogy is a bit rough, it still brings to light some important issues.
Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, who is the image of the invisible God and the One in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead, is not someone who should be portrayed (counterfeited would be more accurate) by a fallen, finite being—Christian or otherwise. Any such attempt will result in another Jesus, a false Christ.
According to the Bible, all Christians who have been truly born again have a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, and that relationship has (or should have) developed and matured by one’s getting to know Him through His Word, through prayer, and through obedience to His teachings. I’ve known Jesus personally for nearly four decades, and by God’s grace, my relationship with Him continues to grow. How would that relationship be strengthened by my watching someone who is obviously not Jesus but who is attempting through his acting to reflect the divine attributes of the Son of God? It can’t happen.
Let’s consider some other examples that I hope will show just how wrong is any attempt to depict Jesus, who Scripture tells us is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person, and just how impossible it is to reveal His supernatural attributes and His divine personality on the screen. A recent movie gave historic as well as Hollywood insights into the life of Abraham Lincoln. The actor who played Lincoln was superbly convincing. He certainly looked like Lincoln, at least based on the photographs we have of our former president. He did some things that we know Lincoln did from historic accounts, to the degree that the accounts are true. Beyond that, we have a view of Lincoln that was conjured up by the creative artists of Hollywood and was convincingly realistic but not accurate to the man himself. Nor could it be. Why? None of the creative artists of Hollywood were around when our former president lived, so none of them knew him personally. They have created an image of Lincoln that may reflect some truths about him, but they have also added much of their own conjecture.
Let’s expand our reasoning a bit. Consider this made-up scenario: I take my wife to a screening of a Hollywood movie of her life that I produced and directed. I have had an intimate relationship with her through 45 years of marriage—in other words, I know her really well—and I want to share her qualities with the world through a motion picture. I hire an “Academy Award-winning” screenwriter to do the script, cast a beautiful and gifted actress to play the role, spare no expense creating an authentic production of where the scenes from her life took place, and feature the noble aspects of her life story. After viewing the movie she turns to me and says matter-of-factly, “It’s a flattering film…but that’s not me. I don’t look like that, I don’t talk like that, I don’t think like that. Some of the scenes never happened that way, and if I weren’t given the names of the people the other actors in the film were portraying, I could only guess who they were supposed to be in my life. Besides, Honey, that’s just not me.”
Obviously, in my enthusiasm to share the love of my life with others via the medium of film, I would have erroneously given them a view of her that was neither accurate nor true. But hey, no big deal! It’s only a movie—just a popular form of entertainment, even if the claim is that it’s based on a true story or character. “Based on a true story” is a Hollywood euphemism for “we made up most of the story.”
Now let’s get to the point of the two examples. Suppose that Jesus was sitting beside me in a theater as we watched a marathon of “biblical” movies that featured an actor who was attempting to portray Him. Would He consider these to be merely a form of entertainment—just a dramatization of His earthly life? Would He be thrilled by the ones that seemed to be the “most accurate”? No. I wonder if His response might include the word “blasphemy.” Noah Webster (who knew the Bible well), in his 1828 dictionary, wrote that blasphemy is “an injury offered to God by denying that which is due and belonging to Him, or attributing to Him that which is not agreeable to His nature.” That would cover every attempt by men to portray the God-Man Jesus. The result can only be a false Christ, and Jesus warned that a proliferation of such would characterize the days prior to His return (Matthew:24:5).
Since a host of very influential evangelical leaders (Rick Warren, Luis Palau, Max Lucado, Francis Chan, Pat Robertson, Andy Stanley, Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Sam Rodriguez, Geoff Tunnicliffe, Leith Anderson, Ro Chang Soo, Erwin McManus, Jim-Bob Park, Bill Hybels, James O. Davis, Craig Groeschel, Miles McPherson, Jimmy Mellado, along with a number of Catholic bishops and a Cardinal) have been singing the praises ofThe Son of God and the History Channel’s Bible series that spawned it, it raises a very serious question regarding their view of the Bible .
If they truly believe that the Bible is the Word of God, that it is His God-breathed, inerrant revelation to mankind, how could they glorify a production by men that claims to bring “the story of Jesus’ life to audiences through compelling cinematic storytelling…” and in the process utterly destroys the critical truth aspect of the Scriptures? Evidently these leaders had no problem with the distortion of the Word in scene after scene. Did the wise men show up at the stable right after the birth of Jesus? Did Jesus entice Peter to follow him by filling his nets with fish? Did Jesus draw the fish into Peter’s net by swishing the water with his fingers? Was Mary Magdalene the lone woman among the small band of disciples (if not one of the apostles)? Did Nicodemus play the good Pharisee/bad Pharisee, even challenging Jesus about paying taxes? Was Pilate a brutal military leader who threatened to shut down the temple? Did Jesus have confrontational exchanges with Barabbas? Did Jesus tickle a little girl and playfully tell her that the temple would be utterly destroyed? At the Last Supper, did Jesus drink the wine that he had just called his own blood? Did the mother of Jesus wash his bloody body in preparation for his burial? Did Jesus unsymbolically appear to John on Patmos? The list of unbiblical and extra-biblical scenes goes on and on.
One would think that a Christian leader who truly cares about the Scriptures would take seriously the admonitions not to add to it. Nevertheless, nearly every scene in the film features conversations that the screenwriters made up along with numerous contrived monologues by “Jesus.” How could any believer condone putting words into the mouth of biblical characters and especially into the mouth of one’s Lord and Savior? Yet that must take place in order to make a cinematic dramatization of the Bible. Neither the words of Scripture nor the descriptions found within its pages suffice—therefore every scene has to be fabricated from the creative albeit fallen minds of men.
Jesus declared in John:17:17: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” But in defense of the movie, one might argue that much of what was presented upheld the truth of the Scriptures. How much? We could say the same thing in defense of the erroneous New World Translation bible produced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the blasphemous Message bible. “Much,” or “quantity,” is not the criterion for qualifying something as true to God’s Word. The Bible, which is God’s inerrant communication to mankind, is a believer’s absolute authority in all matters of faith and practice. If only much of it were true, then it is neither inerrant nor can it be a believer’s authority.
A so-called biblical movie—any biblical movie—can never be truly biblical for what should be obvious reasons. This is an attempt to visuallyreproduce a Book that is itself objective and supernatural. First of all, the Bible cannot be translated visually without removing it from its objective nature. Moses did not receive a picture book on Mount Sinai. God communicated to him in words that were written down. Therefore, the communication can be objectively understood through hermeneutics, the science of interpretation. That has to be the basis for believers to come to a common understanding of what God has communicated.
The interpretation of pictures, on the other hand, lacks that objectivity and nearly always involves a subjective understanding. For example, ask a handful of people to give you their impressions of a certain painting and you will get quite varied responses. Then ask what they believe the artist is communicating. Again, their replies will nearly always be different because the communication is in a subjective medium rather than one that is objective. A biblical movie is a visual interpretation.
The making of theatrical movies is a very expensive collaborative process that involves creative input from numerous personnel and has as its primary goal the entertainment of audiences that will ultimately translate into a box office success. Decisions are often made on the basis of production costs, location problems, actors’ egos, the director’s and writers’ ideas, producers’ whims, studio pressure, weather, etc., etc. Rarely, if ever, would the truth of the content presented be a major issue, especially to the degree that it would trump other considerations. What does that tell you in regard to bringing the Bible, the Word of God, to the silver screen?
One of the amazing characteristics of visual media is the power of imagery. Scenes that appear on the screen can remain with a viewer, popping into the mind occasionally over his or her lifetime. That can be spiritually devastating. I’ve heard that some believers who watched Mel Gibson’s “biblical” movie, The Passion of the Christ , had great trouble dismissing the face of James Caviezel when their thoughts turned to Jesus, even while in prayer. Not everyone saw that as a problem. One woman complained about our criticism of The Passion , noting that she believed she was greatly blessed to have Caviezel as a tangible image of Jesus for her prayers. In contrast, as Dave Hunt and I left the theater after reviewing Mel’s movie, I remember Dave crying out to the Lord to remove the imagery of the counterfeit Christ that had just invaded his mind!
The Bible doesn’t describe Jesus for us in any detail. Why is this? Could it be that God knows that His image in our minds might become the basis for idolatry, which the Scriptures condemn (Exodus:20:4-5Acts:17:29)? Even with no biblical basis and in light of its condemnation, false images of Jesus abound, from Eastern and Russian Orthodox icons to classic Catholic works of art; and to those we must add the numerous portrayals of Christ in the movies. Scriptural censuring aside (because too few seem to care or heed what the Bible says), of what possible value would there be in a misrepresentation of Jesus—especially for those who claim to know Him personally? As Dave Hunt has noted, “Wouldn’t that be like a man carrying a picture of a beautiful actress in his wallet under the guise of ‘she reminds me of my wife’”? What might his wife think of that? What might it do to their relationship? We could ask the same question regarding our own intimate relationship with Jesus. Wouldn’t that grieve Him?
When Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him, Peter replied, “Thou knowest that I love thee.” Following Peter’s responses, Jesus commanded him to “feed My lambs, feed My sheep.” What, then, of today’s shepherds who are feeding their sheep a diet created by Hollywood, put together by hirelings? What of those highly influential Christian leaders who have endorsed the Son of God , who have given themselves to ad campaigns for the movie, whose churches have purchased nearly 500,000 theater seats (prior to the film’s opening) for their flocks? Is it truly the love of God’s sheep and His Word that is persuading them to lead His flock into grievous error?
The incredible power of the medium of film resides in its capacity to impact emotions through imagery, acting, dialogue, and music. Tears can flow even in animated movies. People can have artificial “life-changing” experiences based upon what they see on the screen, but the Word of God declares: “the flesh profiteth nothing” (John:6:63). A movie-generated catharsis may affect a person experientially , but it cannot enrich him spiritually , nor can it save anyone who is lost.
More and more “biblical” movies will continue to be produced for a time because Hollywood, which has historically been opposed to biblical truth, recognizes that right now Christians, and particularly their “leaders,” are a viable revenue source. The movie industry will continue to seduce the shepherds and fleece the sheep until the “evangelical” marketing scheme plays itself out. Tragically, we are seeing in all of this the words of Peter fulfilled: “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you” (2 Peter:2:3).  TBC

What In The World Is Happening To The Nasdaq?

~~All of a sudden, the Nasdaq is absolutely tanking.  On Monday, it fell more than 1 percent after dropping 3.6 percent on Thursday and Friday combined.  At this point, the Nasdaq is off to the worst start to a year that we have seen since 2008, and we all remember what happened back then.  So why is this happening?  In recent years, the Nasdaq has been ground zero for "dotcom bubble 2.0".  The hottest stocks in the entire world are on the Nasdaq - we are talking about stocks like Yahoo, Netflix, Apple, Tesla, Google and Facebook.  Those stocks have gone to absolutely incredible heights, but now they are starting to fall.  Some are blaming insider selling, and without a doubt the "smart money" is starting to flee the stock market.  Just check out this chart.  Others are blaming low expectations for first-quarter earnings or the tapering of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve.  But whatever is causing this decline, it is starting to get alarming.  The Nasdaq just experienced its largest three day fall since November 2011.
No stock can resist gravity forever.  What goes up must eventually come down.  This is especially true for stock prices that become grotesquely distorted.
On Wall Street, a price to earnings ratio of 20 to 25 is usually considered fairly normal.  In recent years, the price to earnings ratios for many of these "hot tech stocks" have gone way, way beyond that.  For example, posted below is a screen capture from Bloomberg TV that was featured in a recent Zero Hedge article...
Zero Hedge
There is no way in the world that such valuations are justified.
We have been living in another dotcom bubble, and it was inevitable that it was going to burst at some point.
The following is how one financial industry insider described the carnage that we have seen on the Nasdaq over the past few days...
Gary Kaltbaum, president of money-management firm Kaltbaum Capital Management, describes the carnage of once high-flying "growth" names in the Nasdaq composite, that have come crashing down to earth: "The best we can describe what we have been recently seeing in 'growth-land' is a 50-car pileup," Kaltbaum told clients in a morning research note. "Call them what you want … risk areas, growth stocks, froth areas … they are melting away."
And of course it isn't just the Nasdaq that has been seeing declines over the past few days.  On Monday, some of the biggest names on the Dow also fell precipitiously...
Visa, Goldman Sachs and Boeing are among the biggest drags on the Dow Monday, falling 2.1%, 2.9% and 1.4% respectively. Weakness in these stocks is especially problematic since the Dow gives greatest weight to the stocks with the highest per-share prices. And at $203.41, $158.56 and $125.59 respectively, Visa, Goldman and Boeing are the stocks that really matter to the measure.
And the trouble in these stocks isn’t just today. So far this year, Visa is down 8.7%, Goldman is off 10.5% and Boeing is down 8.0%.
This recent decline has many analysts groping for answers.
Some believe that it is simply a "rotation" as investors leave growth stocks that have become overvalued and move into safer, more traditional stocks.
Others are pointing their fingers at the Federal Reserve...
Peter Boockvar, chief market strategist at Lindsey Group, believes it's all about the Fed. "I'm still amazed at the complacency with the Fed taper, and a lot of people still don't think it's a big deal," he said. "I just don't think it's a coincidence that the high-fliers are getting popped when the Fed is half way done with QE. We've got tightening smack in front of your face with the taper."
In fact, some believe that the really big stock market decline will happen later this year when the Fed starts to wrap up quantitative easing completely...
Once the Fed begins to truly reduce its massive bond buying program later this year, markets could see a quarter of their value wiped off the books, a private equity pro told CNBC on Friday.
Jay Jordan, founder of the Jordan Company, issued the dire warning during an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box," saying a 25 percent drop could extend to all asset classes. He blames the monetary policies of former Fed chair Ben Bernanke for artificially inflating asset prices through super-low interest rates.
Yet others point to the fact that we are now moving into earnings season, and it is being projected that corporate earnings will come in at very poor levels.  In fact, it is being estimated that overall earnings for companies in the S&P 500 for the first quarter will be down 1.2 percent.
So what should we expect to see next?
Whether it happens this month or not, at some point a massive stock market correction is coming.  In recent years, the financial markets have become completely and totally divorced from economic reality, and that is a state of affairs that cannot last indefinitely.
Many have compared the current state of affairs to 2008, but to me what is happening right now is eerily reminiscent of 2007.  The Dow soared to record heights quite a few times that year, but there were constant rumblings of economic trouble in the background.  Stocks began to drop steadily late in the year, and 2008 ultimately turned out to be an utter bloodbath.
I believe that what is happening right now is setting the stage for another financial bloodbath.  I truly believe that we will look back on this two year time period and regard it as a major "turning point" for America.
And as I have written about previously, we are in far worse shape as a nation than we were back in 2008.  We have far more debt, the "too big to fail banks" have a much larger share of the banking industry, the derivatives bubble has gotten completely and totally out of control, and our overall economy is far weaker than it was back then.
In other words, we are now even more vulnerable.  When the next great financial crisis strikes us, it is going to be absolutely crippling.
Now is not the time to get complacent.
Now is the time to get prepared, because time is running out.

The New Jerusalem

~~In the apostle John’s account of the new earth in Revelation 21-22, prominent attention is given to the New Jerusalem, the capital of the eternal heaven. Nearly half of Revelation 21 is devoted to describing the physical properties of the magnificent metropolis. Its glorious splendor will be the heart of the new earth, for it is here that God Himself dwells.
New Jerusalem
Christians rarely think of heaven as a city, and yet that is precisely how God describes it (Heb. 11:16; cf. John 14:2). Cities have buildings, streets, houses, and citizens. They are places of political power, economic industry, higher learning, refined culture, and impressive architecture. These characteristics are true of the heavenly city as well, though the New Jerusalem will far outshine any of earthly city in both its magnificence and its might.
The fact that every major society on earth organizes itself into cities is indicative of the way God designed human beings. He created them to function in community with other people. It is not surprising, then, to learn that life on the new earth will center around a great municipality. As John MacArthur explains, “The concept of a city includes relationships, activity, responsibility, unity, socialization, communion, and cooperation. Unlike the evil cities of the present earth, the perfectly holy people in the new Jerusalem will live and work together in perfect harmony” (Revelation 12-22, 264).
In stark contrast to the harlot city of Babylon (destroyed in Rev. 18), the holy city of the New Jerusalem is free from God’s judgment (21:9). It is the home of the redeemed and the bride of the Lamb (21:2). It is also a realm characterized by the glory and presence of God (v. 11). Like a giant prism, illuminating God’s glory everywhere, the New Jerusalem will light up the entire new universe.
Unlike the dirty, smoggy cities of this world, the New Jerusalem glistens like a massive jewel as it descends from heaven onto the new earth. The Greek word translated “jasper” in Revelation 21:11 does not necessarily refer to the actual gem jasper, which possesses a reddish or brownish hue. Rather, it is a general term that can refer to any kind of precious gemstone. The further description, “clear as crystal,” suggests that John is describing a diamond. Thus, the New Jerusalem descends from heaven onto the New Earth like a jewel-studded crown from heaven. The image of a heavenly crown is appropriate because, as Revelation 22:2–5 describe, it is the very throne room of God Himself.
According to Revelation 21:15–17, the measurements of the New Jerusalem are immense, approximately 1,500 miles long on each side. By way of illustration, if one corner of the city were placed on Los Angeles, a second corner would sit on Mexico City, a third corner on St. Louis, Missouri, and the final corner on Edmonton, Alberta. If the center of the New Jerusalem rested where the current Jerusalem stands, it would stretch across three continents from Greece to Iran to Saudi Arabia to Libya. The current city of Los Angeles has an area of 468 square miles. The state of California comprises roughly 164,000 square miles. But the New Jerusalem will encompass over 2 million square miles. That is the equivalent of 14 states of California put together; or 4,807 cities of Los Angeles combined.
Callout
But the New Jerusalem is not just a big square. It is a cube. The highest mountains on earth are about 5 miles tall; but the New Jerusalem will rise into the air 1,500 miles—with walls over 200 feet thick. The massive city houses a total volume of more than 3 billion cubic miles. In light of the city’s immensity, some commentators have speculated that the resurrection bodies of the redeemed may not be subject to gravity. If so, the residents of the New Jerusalem would be able to traverse through space not only horizontally, but also vertically, making every part of this glorious cube inhabitable and accessible to the citizens of the New Jerusalem.
But there is more going on than just information about its enormous dimensions. The specific arrangement of the three gates on each side of the city, in verses 13–14, points back to the way the twelve tribes of Israel camped around the tabernacle (cf. Num. 2:1–31), and also the arrangement of the gates of the millennial Jerusalem (cf. Ezekiel 48:30– 35). Furthermore, the cube-shaped dimensions of the New Jerusalem hearken back to the Holy of Holies. As Mark Dever explains,
Any Christian who knows the Old Testament knows that John’s vision harks back to the Most Holy Place. This special place within Israel’s temple was itself a perfect cube and the most manifest location of God’s presence on earth. Now, in this cube-shaped heavenly city, God’s full, unmediated presence is given to all his people. The whole world becomes the temple. (The Message of the Old Testament, 39)
In Revelation 21:22, the apostle John transitions from an external description of the New Jerusalem to an internal one. Having established the physical dimensions of the capital city, with significant parallels to the Most Holy Place, he begins to describe the worship and activity that characterizes those who are inside. He primarily focuses his attention on the fact that the Triune God will be personally present there. As a result, there will be no need for a temple because God and the Lamb are the temple (v. 22).
The redeemed will live forever with the Lord in intimate worship and fellowship; they will not need a curtain to separate themselves from His holy presence, because they have been made perfect just as He is perfect (cf. 1 John 3:2). Above all else, it is God’s personal presence that defines the new earth as heaven (Rev. 21:3). It is not heaven because it is beautiful and glorious; or because the saints of all the ages are there; or because angels lift up their voices in magnificent hymns of praise. On the contrary, it is only heaven, because the Triune God will make it His dwelling place. In the words of D. L. Moody, “It is not the jaspar walls and the pearly gates that are going to make heaven attractive. It is the being with God.” In heaven, the redeemed shall be reunited with their Redeemer!
Spending eternity with Him in perfect fellowship, worship, and service is what makes eternity so glorious. His presence is heaven’s essence. Charles Spurgeon poignantly expressed this reality with these words:
Oh, to think of heaven without Christ! It is the same thing as thinking of hell. Heaven without Christ! It is day without the sun, existing without life, feasting without food, seeing without light. It involves a contradiction in terms. Heaven without Christ! Absurd. It is the sea without water, the earth without its fields, the heavens without their stars. There cannot be a heaven without Christ. He is the sum total of bliss, the fountain from which heaven flows, the element of which heaven is composed. Christ is heaven and heaven is Christ.