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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sorcery: Ushering in a “Blissful” Christless Eternity

by T. A. McMahon - Article Link
Jul 1 2015
A few years ago I had the wonderful privilege of ministering to a very elderly lady who was about to be operated on for a cancer issue. It was not a life-or-death-related surgery, but at her advanced age there were some definite concerns. As we awaited the gurney to transport her to surgery, I asked her a question that had been pressing on my heart. I was aware that she may not have known the Lord beyond her social Christian upbringing. She knew a number of things about Jesus, but I wasn’t confident that she was born again. So I asked her simply, “What’s next?” I could tell that she was apprehensive about the pending surgery, and my question startled her. She asked what I meant. Trying to be as sensitive to the situation as I could, I nevertheless told her that I felt compelled to ask her if she thought about what was next for her should she not survive the surgery.
That may seem like the wrong thing to ask. There are those who would have me say things that would build up her confidence regarding the outcome of the operation. Many believe that a positive attitude increases one’s chances of survival when the body goes through a physically traumatic event. There is little doubt that one’s attitude can influence a person’s condition for wellness or harm, and a good attitude certainly wins out over a bad attitude ( see Proverbs:15:13, 15; 17:22), but it’s no guarantee regarding the hoped-for outcome.
I wanted her to be both encouraged and to have a guarantee as she faced surgery. I interrupted her perplexed look by straightforwardly asking if she wanted to spend eternity with Jesus.
I knew that she had enjoyed “listening in” on conversations when my wife and I and our children talked about Jesus and our love for Him. None of that involved “preaching at her.” It had primarily consisted of family members talking about the One we each loved above all and what He was doing in our lives, such as answering our prayers, helping us to grow in our biblical faith and enabling us to share the gospel and do the things that pleased Him.
She never hesitated in her “yes” response. Hers was not a fear-of-the-surgery reply. It was obvious at that moment that the Lord had given her peace and His perfect love had cast out her fear. I then repeated the simple gospel (which she had heard in our home numerous times) and asked her if she believed in her heart that Jesus had paid the full penalty for her sins and if she was willing to accept His offer of the gift of eternal life. Again, there was no hesitation in her affirmation. It seemed to me that the Holy Spirit was bringing to her mind the things we had previously talked about related to the gospel. She survived the surgery, but it was not too long afterward that she received that for which she had asked. She went to be with her Savior, who had promised that she would spend her eternity with Him.
There is no greater promise given in the Scriptures and, therefore, no greater encouragement: “[Christ] in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest [guarantee] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians:1:13-14).
As I mentioned, the lady was elderly. She lived until her mid-90s. The children she had birthed were a part of the “baby boomer” generation (those born right after World War II and into the early ’60s). It is the largest generation thus far in US history, peaking at nearly 79 million at the end of the 20th century. The first of the baby boomers (1944-’46) are now entering their 70s, and most are suffering the plight of old age with its accompanying illnesses.
The baby boomers introduced the subculture of the hippies, a youth movement that began in the US and rejected the establishment with its traditional social customs. They protested war and violence and instead promoted peace and love. Much of the movement was fueled by mind-altering drugs that were greatly encouraged by influential men such as Harvard professor Timothy Leary (“Turn on, tune in, drop out.”), a major advocate of LSD. The use of psychedelics grew exponentially during the 1960s. Drug companies and psychiatric researchers tested them “on alcoholics, people struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depressives, autistic children, schizophrenics, terminal cancer patients, and convicts, as well as on perfectly healthy artists and scientists (to study creativity), and divinity students (to study spirituality).”  The 1970 Controlled Substances Act, however, put the experimentation and use of LSD and other psychedelics practically out of business—but only for a time.
Today, those of the psychedelics-prone hippie generation are now part of the establishment. They may have “turned on” and “tuned in,” but many did not “drop out.” In fact, some are running our largest and most prestigious institutions, from medical institutions to research organizations to universities. In a rather stunning article published in the New Yorker magazine titled “The Trip Treatment,” subheading: “Research into psychedelics, shut down for decades, is now yielding exciting results,” author Michael Pollan documents the surprising return of medical experiments featuring hallucinogenics. Psilocybin, a.k.a. the sacred or magic mushroom, is the lead experimental drug. That’s primarily because it doesn’t carry some of the “political and cultural baggage” of LSD, which is “stronger and longer-lasting in its effects and is considered more likely to produce adverse reactions.” The research is taking place in respected institutions such as Johns Hopkins, UCLA Medical Center (Harbor), New York University, the University of New Mexico, London’s Imperial College, the University of Zurich, and many other universities. Pollan notes that “Researchers are using or planning to use psilocybin not only to treat anxiety, addiction (to smoking and alcohol), and depression but also to study the neurobiology of mystical experience, which the drug, at high doses, can reliably occasion.”
The New Yorker article cites the case of a man whose cancer had spread throughout his body and was given no hope of recovery by his doctors. Facing death drove him to seek options to relieve his extreme anxiety. Quoting researchers, Pollan writes, “Cancer patients receiving just a single dose of psilocybin experienced immediate and dramatic reductions in anxiety and depression, improvements that were sustained for at least six months…. People who had been palpably scared of death—they lost their fear.” Novelist and drug proponent Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) is often quoted for support regarding using psychedelics with terminal patients “in the hope that it would make dying a more spiritual, less strictly physiological process.” Huxley, a humanist and anti-Christian, was injected with LSD at his deathbed. His “spiritual” process (read hallucination ) may have given him temporal relief, but his ecstasy, according to the Scriptures, eased him into an eternal separation from his Creator in a place where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth in darkness forever (Matthew:22:13). The Word of God would have us think about death and what follows as life’s most critical consideration .
Huxley’s so-called spiritual process has been an important subject of many of the researchers. Pollan writes, “Perhaps the most influential and rigorous of these early studies was the Good Friday experiment, conducted in 1962 by Walter Pahnke, a psychiatrist and minister working on a Ph.D. dissertation under [Timothy] Leary at Harvard. In a double-blind experiment, twenty divinity students received a capsule of white powder right before a Good Friday service at Marsh Chapel, on the Boston University campus; ten contained psilocybin, ten an active placebo (nicotinic acid). Eight of the ten students receiving psilocybin reported a mystical experience, while only one in the control group experienced a feeling of ‘sacredness’ and a ‘sense of peace.’ (Telling the subjects apart was not difficult, rendering the double-blind a somewhat hollow conceit: those on the placebo sat sedately in their pews while the others lay down or wandered around the chapel, muttering things like ‘God is everywhere’ and ‘Oh, the glory!’).” Further evaluation of the experiment noted that some of the subjects had to be given antipsychotic drugs in order to counter the side effects of psilocybin. For some of the early researchers “it was difficult not to conclude that they were suddenly in possession of news with the power to change the world—a psychedelic gospel.”
What then of this “gospel” from a biblical perspective? It contributes to a fulfillment of what the Scriptures indicate will be an end-times deception. It is referred to as sorcery . The term in Revelation:9:21 and 18:23 in the Greek is pharmakeia , which Vine’s Expository Dictionarydefines as “the use or the administering of drugs.” Galatians:5:20 translates the term pharmakeia (from which we get our word pharmacy) aswitchcraft . It should be apparent from those scriptures that drugs will play a major part in the “strong delusion” of the Last Days (2 Thessalonians:2:11). Revelation:18:23 declares that “thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” Furthermore, the commitment to the use of drugs will be so strong that even after God pours out His wrath upon the earth during the Great Tribulation none will repent of their sorceries (Revelation:9:20-21).
Satan’s devices often come progressively like ocean waves that arrive in sets. When a wave crests and crashes on a beach, it deposits its debris and then retreats. That wave is followed by another wave, which deposits more debris. This analogy fits the use of hallucinogenic drugs by the baby-boomer generation followed by a new wave, which is taking place today. This is not intended to condemn the use of all drugs, some of which, notwithstanding their abuses, have been helpful to mankind. Hallucinogenic drugs, however, have a long history in many cultures as key ingredients in religious rituals. The drug-induced altered state of consciousness transcends euphoric experiences and becomes a means of contacting spirit entities. That has been the mainstay of shamanism throughout the world by people groups and cultures that have had no contact with one another. The shaman or witchdoctor, by ingesting or inhaling a hallucinogenic substance, is enabled to commune with the spirit world. He is thus “equipped” to mediate between the spirit beings and his tribe or village. The Bible censures the practice as a form of divination that results in communication with demons (which explains the uniformity of shamanism throughout the world).
Although there is a great deal of research to document the harmful effects of psychedelic drugs, even so, many participants in the psychedelic experiments are convinced of the value. Pollan reports that support for the use of hallucinogenics is gaining ground. The prestigious Psychopharmacology journal published a supportive landmark article titled “Psilocybin Can Occasion Mystical-Type Experiences Having Substantial and Sustained Personal Meaning and Spiritual Significance.” One might judiciously wonder exactly what pharmacologists were taught about the mystical and spiritual realm.
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned having asked my friend: “What’s next?” This is a question that must be answered by everyone who faces death, because our eternal destiny depends upon it. Scripture is unambiguous: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews:9:27). It is an extraordinarily deceptive scheme of the Adversary to deny a dying person what may be the final opportunity for salvation by wrapping one’s last days of physical life in a cloak of psychedelic bliss. Heartbreakingly, this drug wave will certainly increase in the days ahead, as Pollan points out: “Many of the researchers and therapists I interviewed are confident that psychedelic therapy will eventually become routine. Katherine MacLean hopes someday to establish a ‘psychedelic hospice,’ a retreat center where the dying and their loved ones can use psychedelics to help them all let go.” The former hippies will likely help with its formation: “Many of the people in charge of our institutions today have personal experience with psychedelics and so feel less threatened by them.”
Fifty years of the ever-increasing influence of Eastern mysticism, however, through its homogenized and westernized form known as the New Age Movement, has corroded away the last chains of opposition. The gurus rushed to the West, trumpeted in by the Beatles under the guidance of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Eastern meditation took its practitioners to a higher level of altered states of consciousness than the banned hallucinogenic drugs. (See America, the Sorcerer’s New Apprentice: the Rise of New Age Shamanism by Dave Hunt and T. A. McMahon for a detailed account of sorcery’s surprising impact on the West.)
Maharishi’s Spiritual Regeneration Movement, which was barred from US schools because of its blatant teaching of Hinduism and Eastern mysticism, has come back even stronger as the fraudulent science of Transcendental Meditation (TM).
Popular TV medical doctor and Sufi Muslim, Dr. Oz is the national spokesperson for Transcendental Meditation’s mystical mind-altering Hindu practice. Yoga, which is the heart of Hinduism, rivals Starbucks in popularity and can be found everywhere throughout the country, including in Christian churches. Its meditation is a more direct vehicle to a mystical altered state of consciousness. The legal use of marijuana (the psychedelic drug cannabis) began under the belief (some would say “ploy”) that it has significant value for medicinal purposes. It has recently been ushered into the realm of a recreational substance in a few states. It’s hardly a wild guess that the rest of the country will follow.
The astounding and pervasive use of drugs (which, again, the Bible terms sorcery ) in our day is one more proof of the prophetic accuracy of Scripture. Certainly the world is falling prey to the deceptive scheme instigated by the father of lies, Satan himself, and, tragically, so are many who profess to follow Christ. The Israelites heard from the Prophet Jeremiah God’s words of correction and His pleading with them to return to Him, yet they refused to repent of their spiritual adulteries. Christendom today is on that same path.
Pray that the Holy Spirit will convict the hearts of believers who, knowingly or unknowingly, have succumbed to sorcery, that they would repent and obey His Word.   TBC
Other than scripture citations, all quotations above were derived from one article: Michael Pollan, “The Trip Treatment” in The New Yorker , February 9, 2015, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/09/triptreatment

Question: I have a question that I hope you can help with. Is God’s “Permissive Will” a biblical concept or just a man-made theory?

by The Berean Call - Source Link
Jul 1 2015
Question: I have a question that I hope you can help with. Is God’s “Permissive Will” a biblical concept or just a man-made theory?
Response: We know from Scripture that God declares “the end from the beginning” (Isaiah:46:10) and that no subsequent event surprises Him. Since He is “omniscient” (all-knowing) he can use all circumstances to accomplish His will. When Joseph’s brothers sold him as a slave to the Ishmaelites (Genesis:37:27-28), God certainly didn’t force them to do it. Their envy and hatred of Joseph were contributing factors in what they themselves chose to do. Nor did God stop them from doing this. We can consider this an example of His “permissive will.” Heallowed Joseph to be sold by his brothers into Egypt.
After the death of their father, Jacob, the brothers feared that Joseph would seek revenge for what they had done. Joseph, however, had a different perspective. He told them, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Genesis:50:20). God knew of the great famine that lay ahead, and in protecting His people, His permissive will allowed the brothers to carry out what their evil hearts imagined, and in so doing set in motion a chain of events that culminated in Joseph’s appointment to second-in-command in the kingdom. This position enabled him to assist and protect his family, and, ultimately, the promised Seed (Genesis:3:15).
Proverbs:16:9 tells us, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” When we make decisions outside of God’s perfectwill for our lives, we are experiencing His permissive will. He allows us to choose, even to make wrong choices, but in so doing, we must suffer the consequences of our actions. Pharaoh was a very real threat to the people of God, but even Pharaoh was allowed by God’s permissive will to make choices and do things that brought harm to the children of Israel, as he laid on them terrible burdens. InExodus:9:16, the Lord instructed Moses to tell Pharaoh, “And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.” In Pharaoh’s defiance of God, he became an example to others who might learn from the consequences he had to suffer.
In his well-loved devotional My Utmost for His Highest , Oswald Chambers wrote, “Always make a distinction between God’s perfect will and His permissive will, which He uses to accomplish His divine purpose for our lives. God’s perfect will is unchangeable. It is with His permissive will, or the various things that He allows into our lives, that we must wrestle before Him. It is our reaction to these things allowed by His permissive will that enables us to come to the point of seeing His perfect will for us. ‘We know that all things work together for good to those who love God…’” (Romans:8:28).

Couldn’t Paul Count? - Question: There seems to be a major flaw in the testimony of Paul concerning the resurrection of Christ. He says that after Christ appeared to Peter, he then appeared to “the twelve” (1 Corinthians:15:5). Yet the gospels clearly state that Judas, one of the original twelve, had committed suicide before the resurrection and that there were only eleven disciples alive for Christ to appear to. Is there a way to escape this contradiction? Otherwise it puts all of the rest of the resurrection story in doubt.

by Dave Hunt - Source Link - thebereancall.org
Question: There seems to be a major flaw in the testimony of Paul concerning the resurrection of Christ. He says that after Christ appeared to Peter, he then appeared to “the twelve” (1 Corinthians:15:5). Yet the gospels clearly state that Judas, one of the original twelve, had committed suicide before the resurrection and that there were only eleven disciples alive for Christ to appear to. Is there a way to escape this contradiction? Otherwise it puts all of the rest of the resurrection story in doubt.
Response: Of course, Christ “appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief  (Mark:16:14); “The eleven gathered together... [and] Jesus himself stood in the midst of them” (Luke:24:33, 36). But He also “was seen of above five hundred brethren at once” (1 Corinthians:15:6). Among them was undoubtedly Matthias, who was chosen to take the place of Judas, rounding out the number of the disciples to twelve once again. No doubt, from what Peter said (quoted below) when Matthias was chosen, this man had also seen Christ on other occasions as well.
In Acts:1:15–26, we find “about an hundred and twenty” (verse 15) disciples gathered together. Peter reminds them that the prophets had foretold Judas’ betrayal of Jesus and his death and had also foretold that “another [would] take” his place (verse 20). To be an apostle, as Paul reminds us, one must have “seen Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians:9:1). Therefore, as the eleven disciples were about to choose Judas’ successor, Peter declared that the replacement could only be from among “these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John unto that same day that he was taken up from us” (Acts:1:21–22). It is quite clear, then, that although the focus of the four gospels is upon the special inner circle of twelve disciples, there were others who were also with Christ at all times, and among them was Matthias.
Meeting these qualifications, Matthias was chosen to take Judas’ place and became one of the twelve apostles, having been a witness of all that the other eleven had witnessed, including the resurrection. In fact, he was probably present when Christ first appeared to the eleven. We aren’t told how many other disciples were present at that time. Whether he was present that night or not, Christ had appeared to Matthias and he became one of the twelve.
Paul became a Christian some years after the replacement of Judas by Matthias. It would only be reasonable, then, that when Paul declared that Christ “was seen . . . of the twelve” (1 Corinthians:15:5), he would mean the twelve (including Matthias) in existence in his day, not the twelve when Judas was one of them.
—An excerpt from In Defense of the Faith (pp. 110-11) by Dave Hunt