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Friday, August 22, 2008

"I Don't Discuss Religion."

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)

I unhooked the wide farm gate and drove down a long dirt driveway to a house where Sally, a terminally-ill 80-year-old woman was expecting me. At the request of her daughter, I had visited her several times in the hospital. Now she was resting at home and facing her life’s inevitable end.

Sally’s daughter and two big, friendly dogs escorted me into the house.

When I entered Sally’s room, she smiled at me from a heavily pillowed recliner. She had consented to my visit, telling her daughter that when I visited her in the hospital I was friendly and nice, prayed, and didn’t stay long.

We shook hands.

“How are you getting along, Sally?” I asked.

“Fine. Just awfully tired.”

“I have been praying that the Lord will give you strength and patience for each day.”

“Uh, huh.”

“But something is more important than physical health, Sally. Jesus died to give us spiritual health—everlasting life. We are all going to leave this world sometime, but if we ask Jesus to be our Savior, we will go to heaven, where there is no more sickness or dying.”


“Sally, would you like to have everlasting life? Would you like to believe on Jesus as your Savior?”

Turning her face away from me, Sally intoned, “I don’t discuss religion.”

“That’s good,” I replied, “neither do I. All the religion in the world can’t forgive sins or get anyone into heaven. Jesus didn’t come to earth to bring religion. He came to bring eternal life, and He died and rose again to make it happen.”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Okay, Sally, but I hope you will think about it. You can believe on Jesus as your Savior whether I am here or not.”

Like Sally, many men and women hold the I-don’t-discuss-religion attitude. It’s the-head-in-the-sand approach to life’s greatest issue. This attitude makes as much sense as driving blindfolded down a freeway to avoid having to acknowledge traffic exists and you have to deal with it. Why would anyone want to ignore Jesus, the One who loved us and laid down his life for us?

© 2008, Jim Dyet

Monday, August 18, 2008

What's Your Language of Choice?

Years ago I studied French for five years and German for four years, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. However, I have rarely had an opportunity to use either language, so my French and German vocabularies dwindled significantly. I think I should wade into a new language while my brain waves are still somewhat active. Spanish seems to be the right choice.

Have you noticed that every Christian is fluent in either the language of praise or the language of lament? One looks beyond his or her trials and says, “Praise the Lord.” Another fails to look beyond his or her trials, and exclaims, “Woe is me!”

I know Christians who see only thorns in their circumstances, but thankfully I know others who see the roses. Frankly, the thorn-seers aren’t any fun to be around. Their personalities jab like thorns. The rose-seers, on the other hand, display a pleasant personality. Their beautiful spirit attracts me, and shows me they have been lingering in the presence of Jesus, the Rose of Sharon.

David, the psalmist, employed the language of praise. He had experienced numerous trials, including those he endured in caves and ravines as a fugitive from King Saul. Through it all David focused on God’s sovereignty instead of Saul’s spite. Because he trusted in God, he expected to emerge from trials as a victor and not a victim. He wrote in Psalm 33:20, 21: “We wait in hope for the LORD; he is help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.”

If you know someone who ought to learn the language of praise, why not share Psalm 33:20, 21 with him or her? You might just help that person stop saying, “Woe is me!” and start saying, “Wonderful is He!”

© 2008, Jim Dyet

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Who Is the Antichrist?

I need to get something off my chest. It’s this issue of the Antichrist that has been troubling me. So much talk and so little Biblical documentation! A vast majority of authors, preachers, bloggers, and teachers would have us believe the Antichrist is the head of the Revived Roman Empire, a European dictator, who fits the role of the beast out of the sea (Revelation 13:1-10). Some pundits have even suggested Barack Obama may be the Antichrist.

Frankly, I believe this speculation is ill founded. First, the Bible does not assign the title “Antichrist” to anyone mentioned in the book of Revelation. Designating the beast out of the sea (the Mediterranean region), “the Antichrist,” is sheer speculation, like perpetuated by what has been taught in colleges and seminaries. The reasoning is, “Professor ———— called the beast out of the sea the Antichrist, so that beast is the Antichrist.” Too bad students didn't raise their hands in class and ask, “Why do you call him the Antichrist, when the Bible doesn’t give him the name?”

Sure, I know “Antichrist” means “Against Christ,” and I know the beast out of the sea opposes Christ. But “Antichrist” can also mean “In the stead of Christ.” Doesn’t the beast out the land (Rev. 13:11-17) present himself to Israel as her messiah in the stead of Jesus, the true Messiah? When Israel rejected Jesus, didn’t He predict Israel would accept another who would come in his own name? (John 5:43)

The second beast, who comes from the earth (the land of Israel) places himself in the stead of Christ. He imitates the true Messiah, but he is the ultimate false prophet. Jesus ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit; the false prophet performs his work in the power of Satan. Jesus performed miracles to attest to His messiahship; the false prophet performs “great and miraculous signs” in order to convince the Jews that he is their messiah. Jesus directed His contemporaries to believe on and worship the Father; the false prophet directs his contemporaries to believe on and worship the beast out of the sea.

One more point. Every mention of “antichrist” or “antichrists” in Scripture (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7) presents the term in the context of religious apostasy and/or deception. The false prophet of Rev. 13:11-17 is the ultimate religious apostate, who deceives the nation of Israel (v. 14). Second Thessalonians 2:9, 10 predicts “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”

Maybe the next time you hear a speaker refer to the Antichrist as a powerful Gentile world dictator, take a deep breath and then tell yourself it isn’t necessarily so.

There, I took a load of my chest.

If you want to read more about this issue, you may visit my website and order my booklet, Rethinking Popular Beliefs about the End Times.