The Father of Lies (Jn. 8:44)

The rebellion of Satan is like the modern-day politician whose strategy is to bring down his election opponent through negative attack-ads, rather than through the presentation of a straightforward policy agenda that can be honestly and openly debated on its merits. 

Satan actually has nothing constructive to offer.  Satan has no positive agenda of his own.  Satan cannot compete against God head-to-head in the arena of righteousness, holiness, and competence. 

If Satan is to get the power and position that he covets, to be ruler of the universe in place of God, he will have to resort to devious and underhanded methods.  Taking-on God straight-up is a losing proposition for Satan. 

The temptation in the Garden of Eden is therefore a cleverly crafted deception and a lie about the character of God, not a commendable, honorable approach having substance that can be debated on common ground with the program of God. 

What is so brilliantly deceptive, but so damnably evil, about the temptation in the Garden of Eden, is that the slander of God’s character by Satan carries with it the false presumption that Satan is thereby on an equal footing with God, without first having to establish Satan’s bona fide credentials for criticizing God. 

Like the political candidate who skillfully uses negative attack-ads against his opponent, the mere presentation of a criticism, according to the higher moral fabric of the universe, automatically implies that the person making the criticism somehow has the qualifications and right standing to do so. 

An elevated, good-natured, respectful to one’s opponent, fair-minded debate between opposing viewpoints belongs within the high moral plane of God’s world.  Political candidates who critically scrutinize their opponent’s viewpoints at this elevated level are rightly considered to be engaging in commendable, constructive, and honorable pursuits of truth that will achieve good government and thereby benefit society. 

The negative, spurious, and unfounded attack-ad character assassination of one’s political opponent as a successful campaign strategy, is a product of the sinful fallen nature of man, and is not a part of God’s world at all. 

But an unscrupulous person can move up or down at will between these two levels of conduct, claiming the legitimacy of the higher-minded zone while actually engaging in the worst form of untruthful character assassination. 

This is the subtlety of deception that Satan introduced into the world through his rebellion against God.    

By questioning God’s underlying motives regarding Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit, Satan is presuming to place himself in the undeserved and unjustified high position of criticizing God.  By questioning God’s character through this deceptive temptation, Satan is unilaterally elevating himself (through incredible pride, arrogance, and what the British would call “cheek”) up to an equal footing with God without even having to present his qualifications beforehand. 

By deceptively playing the part of being a constructive critic within the higher zone of good-natured and fair-minded debate, Satan is granting himself the freedom to pass judgment upon the actions of God, which he is in no way qualified to do. 

The willingness to ruthlessly attack a political opponent’s personal character with untrue and slanderous lies, while running for office, does not in any way establish a candidate’s own qualifications for becoming a good and effective public servant. 

This is what is so damnably dishonest, dishonorable, and deceptive about Satan’s attitude and tactics.   

We know from reading the New Testament that Satan hid behind the outwardly acceptable religious appearance of the first-century Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers, who eventually managed to instigate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ the Son of God. 

We know from history that Satan hid behind the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century, threatening dissenters and potential reformers with excommunication and the terrors of the Inquisition, until Martin Luther successfully began the Protestant Reformation. 

We know that Satan is currently hiding behind all forms of liberalism, religious relativism, and worldly compromise within Christendom today.  These modern forms of spiritual deception are just as difficult to uproot and overturn as these earlier challenges. 

Sales Models Hours & Exterior Lighting

            When the sales office is separate from the sales models, and the sales office hours extend past darkness, the homebuilder should consider exterior lighting leading from the sales office to the models.

            In one particular case, the sales office stayed open until 6 PM.  With daylight savings in October, darkness began at 5 PM. 

            Enough exterior lighting had not been provided for homebuyers to walk safely from the office to the models.  A few lights were finally added between the sales office and the sales models, using extension cords.

One Purpose for the Great Tribulation

“When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it.”                                                                                  (Jn. 8:44)

Church fathers, biblical scholars, and Christian philosophers have been debating and arguing about end-times prophecies for nearly two thousand years, and still have not managed to reach a consensus. 

People with high academic credentials have spent lifetimes studying the end-times prophecies in the original languages, and cannot agree with other scholars and theologians on the interpretation of end-times prophetic passages found in the five historical books, the psalms, the prophets, the gospels, the letters to the churches, and in the book of Revelation. 

I have good Christian friends who are all over the map on the subject of the timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation. 

Many Christians have the plausible belief that the church will come under the supernatural protection of God all the way to the end of the tribulation, through a physical or spiritual hiding place, without a rapture even occurring. 

One longtime Christian friend humorously adopts the viewpoint of a pan-tribulation, meaning that it will all “pan-out” in good time through unfolding events, like panning for fine gold in a river bed.

I believe the rapture is separate from the second coming. 

Paul speaks of what we call the rapture as a mystery, yet everyone in the early church clearly knew about the ascension of Jesus and the promise that He would return in like manner someday in the future. 

The second coming was not a mystery to first-century Christians.  A rapture occurring sometime prior to the second coming, as revealed to Paul, would be a mystery.                   

In sharing his teachings openly with the other apostles (Gal. 2:2), Paul would have certainly included this revelation regarding the mystery of a lifting-up of the Christian church, those believers currently living and those already dead and buried, off the earth and into heaven. 

Yet we do not see the slightest hint of any opposition to this teaching that Paul seems to have included within his outreach to the Gentile churches in Asia Minor (Acts 20:20), and that he would have communicated during any one of several occasions to Peter, James, John, and other leaders in the early church in Jerusalem.

It is also important to note here that the pretribulation rapture interpretation is not a paradigm in the sense of a universally accepted working hypothesis utilized in science, that must be replaced by a better hypothesis in order to be overturned. 

No matter how popular the pretribulation rapture teaching may currently be, it is only one of four or five competing end-times prophetic interpretations to choose from. 

People inclined to place the rapture part-way into the Great Tribulation, with the Christian church having a major role in the final decisive debate, do not have to construct an alternate, complete scenario to support a rapture occurring sometime in the middle of the tribulation period. 

The pretribulation rapture scenario is not the orthodox position that must be replaced by a fully formed and explicitly detailed alternative. 

In my opinion, the best alternative is to admit we do not have the complete end-times picture as yet. 

My working hypothesis is the recognition of the great difficulty everyone had figuring out the nature and mission of the Messiah prior to the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth. 

Yet in hindsight everything worked out perfectly according to the designs of God without any dependence upon prior human understanding. 

Scripture says that end-times Christians will not walk in the night of ignorance (1 Thes. 5:1-11), but this does not require that we have a complete scenario worked-out from beginning to end to successfully replace the fully constructed pretribulation rapture framework. 

The pretribulation rapture teaching is not a paradigm, but simply one interpretation among several others.

This book is not an attempt to rigorously examine the end-times biblical prophecies scripture by scripture, in an exhaustive, comprehensive manner. 

There are numerous well-written books and commentaries that cover the standard viewpoints in the field of biblical eschatology, spanning across recent centuries back to the early church fathers. 

But I believe that God does have something unique, timely, and applicable to say to us regarding our discipleship as we approach the beginning of the end-times. 

The goal of this book is to examine some important issues in the current end-times debate from a different perspective, from the viewpoint of our journey of faith with God.  This hopefully will enable Christians to stretch their thinking about the challenges ahead and lead to a greater personal commitment in following Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:3 tells us that before the “day of the Lord” comes, the “man of sin”, the “son of perdition” will be revealed. 

Because the precise circumstances that would expose the heretofore unrevealed nature of the son of perdition are not given in this scriptural passage, we cannot say exactly how this will occur in the future.  But we can make an educated guess that can be insightful to Christians today. 

One of the many places where Satan, a spiritual being, deceptively hides his true character is within religion (2 Cor. 11:14).  Satan infiltrates Judaism in the Old Testament, and Christianity in the church age, in skillfully camouflaged attire, because by nature he is a destroyer rather than a builder (Jn. 10:10). 

Because outward appearances can be so deceiving (Mt. 23:27-28; Lk. 11:44), Satan can outwardly project the impression that he is a builder with a positive agenda, which provides a suitable cover for his real intentions of knocking down and destroying the plans of God. 

Satan hides within religion, in addition to our secular world, because it is one of the best places to conceal his true identity, while at the same time subtly attacking and undermining the work of God. 

After all, who would expect a religious leader in Jerusalem in the first-century, or a high official inside “the church” in any century of the church age to be anything other than a godly person?  The cover of religion removes any suspicion. 

Reverse the Locks on the Garage Man-Doors

            For sales models, the doorknob hardware on the fire-door that separates the interior of the garage from the interior of the house (the man-door), should be installed in reverse.

            Prospective homebuyers walking through the models cannot then accidently close a locked door behind themselves while entering into a garage, that also has its garage door padlocked on the exterior (not uncommon for sales models).

            On one particular project, a husband and wife locked themselves inside the garage of one of the sales models when sales traffic was light.  After unsuccessfully yelling for help for about 30 minutes, the husband then put his shoulder to the locked garage man-door and busted his way out, knocking the door through the door jamb.

            If the hardware for this door is reversed with the finger-turned latch on the garage side of the door, and the keyed half of the doorknob on the house interior side, people are then prevented from entering the garage from the house and accidently locking themselves inside the garage.  

When is the Best Time to Shake-Up the World?

            This observation, if accurate, sheds light on one of the key biblical end-of-time events. 

            A rapture of the Christian church that occurs at the beginning of Daniel’s seven-year tribulation period, upsets the delicate balance of belief and unbelief, right at the critical time-period when we enter upon the last seven years of human redemptive history. 

            If the rapture is such an obvious disappearance of hundreds of millions of Christians as an isolated event in the twinkling of an eye, then does this highly public sign of the truth-claims of Christianity influence the delicate balance of people’s freedom to remain in skeptical unbelief, regarding the existence of the God of the Bible at the most inopportune time? 

            This clear-cut demonstration of the truth of the Christian message through a pretribulation rapture would be occurring at the very outset of the time-period when the great arguments against God are being made by the little horn of Daniel, and during the last great harvest of lost souls as prophesied in Matthew 24:14. 

            In this era of accurate investigative journalism and worldwide media coverage, have we missed the obvious and unavoidable conclusion that the rapture will be clearly identified as the rapture, thus greatly affecting from that point forward, in the short time remaining, people’s calculations regarding their final decision to accept or reject Jesus Christ as their Savior and Messiah? 

            Has the term rapture and its meaning, made familiar through books and movies, already entered the popular vocabulary and psyche to the point that the “horse has already left the barn” in terms of people’s future recognition and identification of a pretribulation rapture taking hundreds of millions of Christians off the earth?       

            Pretribulation rapture proponents would capably argue that the rapture is precisely the explosive event needed to set in motion the final push for the worldwide evangelism of Matthew 24:14. 

            But let us stand back and take a detached, mezzanine view of this idea. 

            Is removing all of the Christians off the earth the best way to commence evangelizing the earth?  Is a planet empty of all Christians the ideal environment for starting from scratch the worldwide effort to evangelize the last remaining group of lost sheep predestined for salvation? 

            Does a simple reading of Joel 2:28-29 contemplate a world full of mature Christians willing and able to serve, or a world that is altogether empty and devoid of the main Christian church? 

            In order to support a biblical last-days prophecy interpretation having a rapture that occurs prior to the tribulation, and to harmonize this with other end-times prophetic scripture, we have to invent the theological framework of dispensationalism, which did not previously exist in mainstream theology before the beginning of the 19th century. 

            Is the time placement of the rapture pretribulation, too radical a choice if this requires an artificially constructed, major transitional breakpoint at the disappearance of the Gentile church age raptured into heaven, dovetailed with a newly created body of Jewish Messianic Christians converted to evangelize the remainder of the world until the end of the tribulation period? 

            This major bump, this discontinuity breakpoint, this passing of the relay-race baton to a new evangelical workforce as a result of the removal of the Christian church pretribulation, forms the basis of dispensationalism. 

            Or by contrast, is the best way to evangelize the planet to pour-out God’s Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28-29), including the New Testament blend of Gentile and Jewish Messianic Christians that make up the current body-of-Christ on earth today? 

            The exchange that the Antichrist, alluded to in Daniel 7:20-27, 8:17, and 8:23-25, has with the saints of the “Most High” (Dan. 7:22-25), implies that for a period of time at the beginning of his reign, when the Antichrist “destroys wonderfully” to the point of the wearing down of the saints of the “Most High,” that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are still functioning. 

            The usurping, false, second-advent counterfeit messiah the Antichrist temporarily wins the verbal battle through a deceptive message of falsely secured worldly peace and prosperity. 

            If this is a period of intense battle between freely articulated conflicting worldviews, in which the Antichrist prevails through the deceptive appeal of worldly salvation from our current political, social, and economic problems, then the enormously important finely-tuned balance between the freedom to believe or not to believe in God must still be fully in play. 

            The overly simplistic teaching that Jesus will rapture His beloved Bride the Church into heaven before a period of tribulation and judgment begins upon the earth, as if that is the rationally normal default expectation, entirely misses some critically important realities. 

            The last days tribulation period is more complicated than Jesus simply sparing the church from the narrow-gate (Mt. 7:13-14) unpleasantness of tribulation. 

            If God raptures hundreds of millions of Christians, and all of the children under the age of accountability off of the earth pretribulation, then the balance of evangelical outreach based upon truth-preaching is essentially over. 

            If the rapture occurs pretribulation then nearly everyone on the planet will be aware at the beginning of the tribulation period that there is a strong probability that the biblical prophecies surrounding the rapture are accurate and true. 

            Belief in Jesus Christ as Savior will then automatically shift over for many people into the category of being an inarguable fact, like the existence of the noonday sun, or like two plus two equals four. 

            A pretribulation rapture would have the same effect upon the delicate balance between belief and unbelief that a resurrected Jesus walking through the streets of Jerusalem in broad daylight would have had from the first-century onward. 

            The virtue of discovering God through faith and trust, because we have examined the issues involved, and examined the value of abandoning self-sovereignty in pursuit of a journey of faith following God, is partially or entirely lost once the existence of God is reduced to the world of involuntary, observable fact accessible to everyone. 

            The rapture recognized as The Rapture, and nothing else, is a major milestone event having enormous implications in both the spiritual and natural realms, and has the potential to throw belief and unbelief out-of-balance depending upon when it occurs. 

            When we look back through the Bible, we can see the enormous care that God took in keeping the ability of people to freely believe or not to believe, in balance. 

            The fact that God the Father orchestrated the ministry, the crucifixion, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God in the midst of a busy and populated first-century Roman occupied Israel, in such a way as to leave in place the free-will ability of the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, rulers, and a large segment of the populace to remain after-the-fact in unbelief…has to be one of the great spiritual engineering marvels of history. 

            The timing of the rapture is therefore critical. 

            The nature and intent of its impact changes dramatically, depending on when it occurs in relation to the end-times tribulation events. 

            Place it too early, and it upsets the balance between belief and unbelief.  Place it too late, after multitudes have already received the mark of the beast and are beyond pardon, and the evangelical value it affords as a powerful sign to the world of the truth of the Christian gospel message is lost forever. 

            If the rapture is placed well beyond the midpoint of the tribulation, after tens of millions of Christians have been martyred for refusing the mark of the beast, as alluded to in Revelation 7:14, 12:11, and 15:2, then the rapture is not intended as a sign at all, but rather as a well-timed escape mechanism to remove the church from the earth sometime around Revelation 16:15. 

            The rapture is like the main ingredient in the cooking of some precisely prepared gourmet meal.  The timing of its addition to the process must be perfectly coordinated to achieve the desired outcome.

            The long-awaited rapture cannot be about something as relatively trivial as the removal of the Christian church simply to be out of harm’s way before the massively unsettling but defining tribulation period. 

            Since when is the God of the Bible overly challenged by the threat of invading Midianites, or invading Philistines, or Pharaohs, or Egyptian chariot armies, or the parting of the Red Sea, or kings like Nebuchadnezzar, or a fiery furnace, or a den full of lions, or 450 prophets of Baal, or any of the other tribulations facing the people of God in the Bible? 

The timing of the rapture, placed just prior to the start of the tribulation, has no clear basis in scripture one way or the other. 

The pretribulation rapture teaching is one plausible construction of events according to a particular school of thought. 

The doctrine of imminence absolutely requires that the rapture occur before the tribulation, only if we define Christian hope as something outside of Hebrews chapter eleven, outside of John 21:18-19, outside of Acts 9:16, and apart from the Holy Spirit inspired character-stretch toward the excellence of a “better resurrection” of Hebrews 11:35. 

            If it is true that the unique nature of the rapture will clearly reveal itself as the rapture, and nothing else, then this important observation needs to be factored into our end-times calculus. 

            If it does not make sound biblical logic, or even worldly-astute common sense (based on the accuracy of modern investigative journalism) that the rapture can occur at the beginning of the tribulation, because it would prematurely give away too much world-shattering information at the wrong time, then it becomes the nearly unavoidable conclusion that the un-raptured main Christian church will enter into at least some portion of the seven-year tribulation period.

Keys for the Sales Office & Models

            As the sales models grand opening day approaches, the builder should determine how many sets of keys are needed for access to the sales model complex.

            People needing keys include the sales staff, main office management, field construction staff, interior plants maintenance, and the cleaning crew.

            The keys to the sales complex should be different from the master key to the empty inventory units and the units under construction. 

            Plan-ahead this activity of providing keys for those people who will need continuing access to the sales office and the sales models.  This then does not become a crisis along with other last-minute issues. 

Raptured People Will All Be Christians

This brief introduction about the delicate balance between belief and unbelief serves as a tie-in to one of the key issues in our understanding of biblical last-days prophecies, which is the timing of the rapture (1 Cor. 15:51-53).  

Identifying the real underlying cause behind a pretribulation rapture after it occurred, would be one of the easiest and most clear-cut pieces of investigative journalism ever. 

It would not take long for investigators and journalists to discover that those people missing through the rapture involving hundreds of millions around the world, were all practicing Christians. 

Investigators would quickly put two-and-two together regarding what these missing people all had in common, and thus eliminate any competing bizarre and speculative explanations, concluding instead that this event must have been the heretofore popularized biblical rapture. 

  God does not make mistakes.  He is not inaccurate. 

 Every person raptured will be a Spirit-born Christian, without exception. 

This will be the largest, homogenous group of people to ever participate in any single event of history. 

If every person amongst hundreds of millions of people disappearing in the twinkling of an eye around the world, were all exclusively Christians, everyone on the planet would quickly know this. 

 If within a moment of time there were absolutely zero believing Christians to be found anywhere on the entire planet, this would become immediately apparent in many parts of the world. 

 It would be common knowledge within days, possibly hours, and in some locations even minutes, that this event was the New Testament rapture and nothing else. 

No amount of secular media spin, no matter how liberal the initial bias, would be able to explain away or refute the common knowledge among the populace that those family members and friends they lost in the great disappearance were all uniformly and exclusively practicing Christians. 

If three, four, or five hundred million Christians were instantly raptured from the earth, it would be extremely difficult to spin this event as anything other than the biblical rapture.  What other possible explanation would come close on the plausibility or believability meter? 

 It is the universal nature of the people missing that is controlling. 

UFO abduction would not make sense.  Why would unidentified flying objects abduct hundreds of millions of Christians, as opposed to the God of the Bible abducting Christians in a rapture event?

It would make no difference if journalists began their investigation from a completely secular, non-biblical perspective.  

The initial focus of the investigations would be about the people missing, not about Bible prophecy.  The investigations would all lead to the same consistent conclusion.  Any subsequent questions regarding the meaning of Bible prophecy relating to the disappearances would only become a secondary factor after it was clearly established that the people missing were all Christians. 

People around the world would quickly know this was the rapture, as an indisputable conclusion of fact, because they would have personally known the people who disappeared. 

A pretribulation rapture by definition also occurs pre-Antichrist, so there cannot be a concerted worldwide governmental organization in place to spin the rapture into something other than the rapture.  This attempted false spinning of the narrative away from being the rapture cannot be the deception referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.

 On a full transatlantic 747 airliner crossing, moments after a hundred passengers had vanished off the plane instantly, a shocked man in row 25, standing-up and looking around the lighted cabin interior at the remaining passengers, would remark out loud to himself more than to anyone in particular, that his missing wife was a Christian and that this was the biblical rapture. 

This left-behind husband would know without a doubt the reason why his Christian wife had suddenly disappeared. 

A woman in row 28, also standing-up to visually search amongst the nearby passengers, would overhear this comment, and confirm with resigned sadness that her missing husband was also a Christian, and that this was the rapture her husband had told her about while reading the Left Behind books a few years ago. 

 A young couple in the middle seats between rows 25 and 28, overhearing this exchange, would frantically say that their small children were also missing. 

Within ten to fifteen minutes everyone on this jetliner, because of the confined space, would have heard and processed the idea that Christians and small children had all disappeared in the biblical rapture. 

Similarly, because of the large proportional number of hundreds of millions of Christians that would be raptured pretribulation, within the confined and finite space of our planet, the initial speculation that the cause of this vanishing was the biblical rapture would be instantly set-in-motion as a natural result of the close personal relationships between the people raptured and the very people left behind. 

Again, the uniformly Christian composition of the people taken would preclude any bizarre, paranormal explanations. 

 This is one reasonable and straightforward construction of people’s reactions that would shortly follow the rapture during a mid-flight 747 jetliner crossing over the Atlantic Ocean. 

 This same scenario would repeat itself quickly across the globe as people compared notes and realized who had disappeared.  The idea of the rapture as the plausible explanation for the disappearances would become concrete fact worldwide, hours or days before any alternately fantastic explanation could be fabricated by anyone. 

 With this many people left behind and personally affected, the world would not be looking to a detached, impersonal, and spiritually ill-equipped secular media to provide a believably authoritative explanation for the clearly supernatural disappearances. 

 They would already know the cause behind the disappearances, based upon their personal relationships with the Christians who had been instantly raptured.

 If a pure, easily identifiable, homogenous group of 500 million Spirit-born Christians all disappeared in the twinkling of an eye, it would make no difference in this explanatory interpretation if an equally large-sized group of unsaved nominal churchgoers were unexplainably left behind. 

The question would not degenerate into whether only “good” Christians were taken and mediocre or less dedicated “Christians” were left behind. 

The clarity of the identification and nature of the large mass of those people taken in the disappearance would not be clouded or diluted in any way by the nature of those nominal churchgoers left behind. 

Their condition would be a separate and unrelated issue way down the list of immediate considerations.

In today’s pretribulation rapture discussion, we are missing the obvious. 

Any numerical quantity of people noticeably disappearing with or without their clothes in a worldwide manner, above the unrealistically understated number of 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000, for example, would garner immediate attention and be attributed by the general populace as a divine act of God, with no other plausible causation. 

No imaginable space-alien invasion or natural force could discriminately take 100% intact, whole people totally into thin air, vanishing completely. 

Few people would think this surgically accurate and precise removal of whole people without leaving behind body parts or any other visible trace, could possibly be anything other than some inexplicably divine act of God. 

Couple this with the singular nature of those taken with the number of this group to be in the hundreds of millions, and the only plausible explanation of this totally implausible event would be the rapture and nothing else.  

This does not mean that the world would believe the rapture explanation as incontrovertible proof, to motivate them to surrender and yield their lives in faith to Jesus Christ. 

It simply means that everyone would have heard this rapture explanation as the leading, most plausibly acceptable explanation for the disappearance of hundreds of millions of Christians. 

Left-behind people after a pretribulation rapture are by definition skeptics and unbelievers.  Just because they hear and process the information that the rapture is the cause of the disappearances, does not mean necessarily that many of them would reconsider and embrace change in their lives on account of this information.

What makes this a critical issue in our centuries-long, ongoing recovery of truth regarding biblical end-times prophecies, is that God the Father did not previously choose to have the resurrected Jesus walk through the main streets of Jerusalem in route to entering into the temple. 

God did not choose a wide-scale public demonstration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, as the means to generate commendable, virtuous, and salvation quality faith.  The contemporary skeptics observing a resurrected Jesus walking into the first-century temple in Jerusalem, would indeed acknowledge the supernatural nature of this occurrence. 

But this would probably not generate repentance and separation from self-sovereignty leading to salvation faith for them, any more than seeing Jesus miraculously cleanse lepers, restore sight to the blind, or raise Lazarus from the dead did during the time leading up to the cross and the resurrection. 

The all-important point here is that God Himself did not choose to upset the delicate balance for belief and unbelief, although He easily could have done so at this most opportune time by introducing the element of incontrovertible proof into the equation of His new covenant outreach of love to mankind in the first-century. 

Romans 10:17 sums this up beautifully and simply: “So, then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”   

Don’t Plug-in Appliances in the Sales Models

            There is something inviting about the digital clock numbers lit-up on the kitchen range, and people are tempted as they walk through the sales models to push buttons and “kick the tires.” 

            The same thing occurs with the microwave oven and the dishwasher, for example.  If people push a button and hear a beep, or turn a knob an get the water to run…their interest is aroused and they may continue to play with the appliance. 

            If the sales models for a large project get several thousand visitors over the span of a year or more, a lot of people are touching and experimenting with the kitchen appliances. 

            If people push a button or turn a knob on one of the appliances and nothing happens, however, they leave the appliance alone and move on to something else.

            One problem to avoid here is the builder needing the appliance technician to replace electrical circuitry inside the sales model appliances that has become worn-out, after the builder has converted the sales models into occupied units and the new homebuyer discovers that their appliances do not work.

            The builder can avoid this problem by simply not plugging in the appliances in the sales models. 

            Appliances are there for everyone to see, but offer no response when people push the buttons.

A Delicate Balance for Unbelief

“And through his policy also he shall cause deceit to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many; and he also shall stand up against the Prince of princes, but he shall be broken without hand.”                                                            (Dan. 8:25)      

 If God wanted to provide incontrovertible proof to the world that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God and the promised Messiah to Israel, all Jesus had to do after He was raised from the dead was to walk down the middle of Main Street and right into the temple in Jerusalem, on Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week following His resurrection. 

This is so obvious that we miss it. 

This is like the theological controversy between the Pharisees and the Sadducees in the first-century regarding the resurrection of the dead. 

Jesus answers this question posed to Him as a theological challenge by the Sadducees (Mk. 12:18-27), by pointing out in the scriptures that at the burning bush God identified Himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Jesus then says that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, thus resolving this first-century controversy as to whether there is life after death. 

Even though the Old Testament is not overly definitive on the subject of the afterlife, the answer to this specific question was right there all the time in plain sight in one of the most well-known encounters in the Old Testament, in this exchange between God and Moses at the burning bush.

If the risen Jesus can suddenly appear in a room where the disciples are gathered (Lk. 24:36), and earlier the same day walk alongside two disciples heading for the nearby village of Emmaus (Lk. 24:13-32), it would not have been any more difficult for Jesus to openly walk into the temple in Jerusalem. 

 Then everyone, including the Pharisees and scribes, would believe in Him.

 Why did Jesus only appear to Mary Magdalene at the tomb (Jn. 20:11-18), to Peter (Lk. 24:34), to James (1 Cor. 15:7), to the eleven apostles (Jn. 20:19-23), to five hundred people (1 Cor. 15:6), and to Paul (1 Cor. 15:8)? 

Why did God set-up the gospel-message preaching of the early church based upon the eyewitness testimony of the disciples, instead of the more obvious and beyond-a-doubt visual proof of Jesus walking openly through the streets of Jerusalem after His resurrection? 

 Why did God moderate and fine-tune the impact of the Son of God’s ministry on earth in such a way as to leave intact the ability of large numbers of people to remain in skeptical unbelief for centuries to come? 

 Why is this fine-tuning of the balance between belief and unbelief in the spiritual realm, at a level comparable to the precision of the fine-tuning of the strength of gravity or the cosmological constant in our natural world? 

Why does the Christian witness today begin with our testimony that Jesus Christ lives, that He redeemed us into a new and living way, that the transformation in our lives demonstrates that God is real, and that our knowledge that we now possess eternal life sets us free from a past life in bondage to sin? 

Why do we come home from a prayer meeting at the age of 18 like I did, after becoming a new Christian, into a house and a family that is antagonistic toward the Christian faith (Mt. 10:34-36)? 

Why do we start-out having to earnestly resolve to live the Christian life in all of its purity so that those around us will see His Light within us and also believe? 

Why is it so important for God to maintain this delicate balance between the ability to freely believe in Him, and conversely the freedom to remain in skeptical unbelief, which makes evangelism and the conversion of others so difficult?

The answers to these questions are profoundly deep, yet rather simple to understand. 

The only thing that really matters in our verbally spoken and life-in-action witness about Jesus Christ, is the quality of our transformation into becoming new improved people in Christ. 

All of the persuasive speech in existence will sound empty and flat if our faith in Jesus Christ produces no tangibly noticeable improvement in our outlook, our attitudes, our countenance, and in our actions. 

The acid-test in the witness of any Christian’s testimony to the world is the positive change that has occurred in our lives (Jas. 2:18). 

Once people see this positive change, it is then up to them to evaluate whether or not they will consider and be open to the possibility in their own lives of repenting of their sins before God, abandoning self-in-control through the cross, and following Jesus into a journey of faith creating genuine meaning and purpose for their existence. 

Jesus Christ as seen in the lives and in the verbal testimony of Christians, is what attracts most people to the Christian faith (Mt. 5:16). 

This is why a universally accepted, factual acknowledgement of the existence of God through something like the fictionalized, hypothetical example of the resurrected Jesus walking openly down the main streets of Jerusalem, is unacceptable. 

There must be a broad separation between the two extremes of belief and unbelief, having a wide gray-area center of indecisive fence-sitting, for the intentional and committed discipleship of picking-up our cross to follow Jesus, in order to have real value.

God could easily confirm His existence supernaturally anytime to the satisfaction of the most skeptical people on earth today.  God could remove unbelief in an instant. 

But then our decision to follow Jesus Christ in response to His love would not be based upon a voluntary free-will choice. 

We do not voluntarily choose to believe in the existence of the noonday sun.  We do not choose to believe in two plus two equals four.  These are obvious, involuntarily acknowledged facts that require no faith or choice whatsoever. 

A resurrected Jesus walking into the temple in Jerusalem, or walking openly down its main city streets, would not result in a free-will choice to believe, trust, and follow Him in response to His loving invitation for an intimate friendship. 

It would simply change the nature of faith in Jesus Christ into an incontrovertible fact, conferring no more virtue upon its adherents than upon the observation that the noonday sun exists.

One reason that God has maintained the delicate balance between belief and unbelief throughout the long course of human redemptive history, is that it adds meaning to the free-will choice of human beings to believe in God to the point of yielding their lives to His will and leading. 

The virtue of following God through thick-and-thin, like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, and Paul, only has genuine meaning in a world where people can freely push God away and live their lives in total self-sovereignty apart from God. 

This delicate balance between belief and unbelief in the spiritual realm is just as vitally important, indeed maybe more so in the eternal scheme of things, than the delicate balance of the fine-tuning of the current laws of physics in the natural universe. 

Alter even slightly the force of gravity in the cosmos, and the delicate balance of factors needed to support complex life collapses. 

 Alter even slightly this delicate spiritual balance of belief and unbelief, and the working out of the eternal issues of right and wrong in our relationship to God lose all sense of free-will choice, directional purpose, and ultimate meaning.

Bath Fans in the Sales Models

            Bath ceiling fans in the sales models should not be hooked-up to the bathroom light switches, while the units are sales models.

            The builder does not want the bathroom fan motors running all day and night simply because people turned the switch on while walking through the sales models.

            By having the switch to the bath fans dead, but the electrical wiring hot, the builder exclusively controls the interior lighting and fans, not prospective homebuyers.

            When the sales models are converted to livable units, the builder can plug the bathroom ceiling fans back in when the electrical wiring is changed over into normal wiring.

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