The Timeless and Venerable Sermon On the Mount, and Why It’s Still Pertinent In the Modern World

by Minister Paul J. Bern

This week’s ongoing Biblical study series on the Social Gospel Blog with Author & Minister Paul J. Bern will be a 21st century version of the venerable Sermon On the Mount: https://greatestservant62.medium.com/the-sermon-on-the-mount-and-why-its-still-applicable-and-ever-so-pertinent-even-after-2-000-years 0f change #SocialGospel #faithbased #therealBible #ChristianBlogs #truth

A Progress Report For All My Readers

Progress Report to All My Readers on My Blog and Social Media: the New Social Gospel Blog and Website Have Gotten Off to a Very Strong Start, Thanks to You All

by Minister Paul J. Bern

 

golgotha_christ_crossHello, everyone, it’s your on-line pastor and virtual evangelist Rev. Paul Bern, and I’m happy to send this overwhelmingly positive report here in the fall of 2020. I am writing this on a newly rebuilt computer that I acquired on Ebay. I bought it without a hard drive; just the box and that’s all. Then, I performed a hard drive transplant from my old computer to my new(er) one, installed a badly needed Windows 10 upgrade, and now, here we are, back and better than ever.





This could not have been accomplished without some dedicated followers who contributed a few small donations to get the 2 websites (I have a second one for my books at authorrevpauljbern.com) up and running, plus the money for the computer. You all have probably noticed that I only rarely ask for money, if ever. Moreover, I draw no salary from this ministry. I have some books on the market, but my monthly income is often very small. So for contingencies, there’s a little ‘donate’ button on the header of the home page for this ministry, at the top center of the page, for anyone who feels led to give.





As far as the future goes, you all have undoubtedly seen my new email campaign’s new look and feel. I have switched from a social-media driven to an email driven marketing platform, and so far it seems to be working fairly well. There’s been no dramatic increase in book sales, but the books are secondary and the ministry is of primary importance as far as my priorities are concerned. And the online ministry is what is growing the fastest. Thank you all so very much for your participation.





Other things coming up in the near future are the release of my 3-book trilogy on the writings of the apostles Luke and Paul (consisting of the books of Luke, Acts of the Apostles, and all of Paul’s letters to the churches, from Romans to Philemon, and everything in between). They will be sold either individually, or as a 3-volume set, and they will be available either from my website, or exclusively from Amazon in either print, digital (Amazon Kindle and Kindle-compatible), or audio (Amazon Audible) formats. There will also be the release of yet another nonfiction book this winter having to do with American politics and the Bible. I’m still in prayer about the right title, but the interior of the book is essentially ready for market. I had wanted to release it this month, before the elections, but there just wasn’t enough time. But, after much prayer, I am at peace with the delayed release of this latest book.





Plus, now that I am finally ready to record video’s and music, thanks to this newly acquired equipment, you will also begin to see a steady flow of video’s from yours truly, so be sure and watch for that. There are already about 15-16 videos already up on You Tube, and there will soon be plenty more where that came from. My weekly commentaries and Bible lessons will continue as always, and I have plans for a monthly newsletter on my book website too. So stick around and watch all this unfold before you all, and I intend to enjoy myself while doing all this as I possibly can. Shalom….

Final Installment of My 12 Part Series On the Future of the US and Its Capitalist Economic System In Bible Prophecy

The USA Is Becoming A Failed State: Seven Simple Steps to Turn It Around

Part 12 of 12 by Minister Paul J. Bern

(Luke chapter 11, verse 46; 1st John 4, verses 10-11)

gods-wisdom Today as I sit in my little apartment and wait for the Corona-19 pandemic to run its course, I see the United States of America starting to gradually become a failing country. There are just too many things going wrong with America today all at once. We have failed to adequately tackle the inherent inequality issues in our economic system: We have failed to update our system of government to the point that a constitutional convention has been needed for decades. We have failed to repair our image abroad; failed in education, in health care, in human rights, and in religious tolerance. In fact, we look a lot like the USSR in 1990 – except with a lot more big-screen TV’s. So, I have composed this week’s commentary listing what I view as America’s worst problems, followed by some helpful suggestions for solutions to the mess that we Americans find ourselves in today.

 

First, a quick word about president Trump. I have already written at length about my feelings regarding Donald Trump’s handling of – or mishandling, depending on your point of view – his presidency as he nears the end of his first term in office. But there is another side to all the hub-bub about president Trump, and that is the fact that he is a Washington outsider. Trump came into Washington, DC to shake things up, and he has run into a mountain of resistance from the existing political establishment. Instead of “draining the swamp”, the swamp has nearly swallowed up president Trump. But at the end of the day, much of the storm of controversy about the Trump presidency has been generated by the press, and at least as much by the Democrat opposition.

 

Some people may well take issue with my contention that the political and governmental systems are broken, including the courts and penal systems, or even that we have a great health care system. I respect anyone’s right to those opinions – freedom of expression is one of the few things our country hasn’t managed to screw up in the last couple of hundred years. But in every case, the data backs me up. Allow me to try and substantiate my claims first, before suggesting a few possible solutions.

The 2008 bailout granted billions of dollars – with certain strings attached – to the banking system who then used the money to short-sell the markets while making countless billions more, hand the government back its money (removing the strings) and pay out lavish bonuses while Americans lost their jobs. Meanwhile, the median family income is less today than it was in 1970.

 

Our government, meanwhile, is no longer run by competing ideologies but by corporate interests (I include both parties in this category since both are moneymaking enterprises disguised as political parties). There are good Republicans who would prefer that your cancer-stricken child had health insurance. There are responsible Democrats who are horrified by our country’s ‘spend now and pay later’ approach to finance. But since they are beholden to their version of a higher power – corporate America, Wall St. and the almighty dollar – they have convinced themselves to vote with their wallets, not with their conscience. At the Federal level, AT&T and Goldman Sachs combined have contributed over $75M over the last 20 years to both political parties, and the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, combined with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, aren’t far behind.

 

Across the world America’s reputation is tarnished, perhaps irrevocably, and yet we find our President – in the words of former vice-president Dick Cheney – following the ‘Bush Doctrine’ of a surge in forces occupying a foreign country with seemingly little chance of categorical success. We are seen as an economic and religious bully, and we don’t seem to care. We vilify our political enemies for their human rights records, and import cheap goods from countries we know to exploit child labor. We are, to much of the world, intolerable hypocrites. About this Jesus said, “.…woe to you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11: 46) Isn’t this exactly where we find ourselves in 21st century America?

 

Apologists for the American health care system, not to mention “Obama-care” or so-called “Trump-care”, will continue to defend those systems at all costs, claiming that so-called ‘socialist’ states such as England, France and Sweden (which, incidentally, are actually constitutional monarchies governed by a center-right coalition) kill their citizens at will in order to save money, or make you wait thirty years for a kidney transplant. Deflecting (especially with such utter garbage) doesn’t make our system any better, and it’s always bad business practice to spend too much time putting down the competition. When our own kids can’t get health care because mom and dad have no money to pay, something is terribly wrong.

Any anthropologist will tell you that we took better care of our young when we were Neanderthals – so what’s changed? For one in six of our citizens to remain uninsured with no social safety net is a national disgrace. We deny basic human rights to our own people! Whom you choose to marry is not a matter for the government to decide, it is a matter for the individual (“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord”). So it is for what religion to follow, if any (although I will continue to vigorously preach pure Christianity as the only true way to eternal salvation). Some may not like our choices, but they are inalienable rights and you should be free to exercise them as you will. Our US Constitution says you can (search: First Amendment).

 

As far back as 2005, statistics showed that hate crimes against Muslims were increasing 50% year-on-year. Even so, the FBI reported that in 2018 hate crimes against homosexuals had increased 10% from 2015, and those motivated by religion had risen by 12%. The track America has taken over the last fifty years has been the wrong one, and America is seriously past due for a major course correction. We have let corruption, greed, the pursuit of fame, intolerance and a stubborn refusal to acknowledge our problems almost ruin our nation. We are failing to live the American Dream, and if we don’t start now our children and grandchildren will never even know what it was.

I have seven fairly radical ideas listed below. I’m sure you have some of your own, and I welcome them in the comments section below, if you’re viewing this on my blog. I have chosen not to expound on what I personally think the consequences of these actions would be, as I would be diving headlong into speculation.

 

1. Immediately and totally stop all corporations from giving money to political parties. Reverse Citizens United and make our elections publicly funded!

 

2. Make a promise to our children: You will be well-educated, and you will be treated with dignity and respect when you are sick. Then, legislate them into existence with mandated free medicare and higher education. Then, add them to the Constitution.

 

3. Change the game. Capitalism is broken and must be replaced. I see 2 choices for the smoothest possible transition. One would be that of a resource-based instead of a debt-based economic system. Another would be to make private enterprises worker-owned instead of shareholder-owned. Still another would be to make a lot of privately owned small companies into nonprofits, provided certain guidelines were met. Since we currently have less than 1% of America’s population controlling the upper 99% of the cash flow, some legislated redistribution is clearly called for (or maybe an executive order to that effect). We can start with worker owned businesses instead of shareholder ownership. Public business ownership will still exist, but smaller – such as cooperatives – will be much better in many cases.

 

4. Take a page out of the Bible and just treat everyone else with some genuine respect and unconditional love. If it was good enough for Jesus Christ, it should be good enough for you. About this the apostle John wrote, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us, so we ought to love one another” (1st John 4, verses 10-11). True love for each other means unconditional love with no strings attached. Respect others and yourself as well. Leave the gays alone. Leave the blacks alone. Leave the immigrants alone whether you think they’re here legally or not. Leave the Muslims or the Christians alone, too. Even the atheists, pray for them too. When respect departs, enmity is the next train along.

 

5. Pay for it. Child labor is inexcusable! If it costs an extra ten bucks, or extra hundred bucks to buy something that was made by willing workers, pay for the darned thing! And the same goes for government. You want health care? Pay for it. More troops? Pay for them. Tax breaks for corporations? Not a chance, they have way too many of those already.

 

6. Form coalitions based on issues, not parties. Not every NRA member is anti-abortion. Not every tree-hugging hippie thinks that owning a gun is wrong. When a party tells you how you should think, and what issues should be thrown together into what bucket, you’re a lot closer to communism than you think you are.

 

7. Buy American whenever possible. From what I can tell, the great empires of yore – from Egypt to Rome to Great Britain – were ‘first-to-market’ with some manufacturing innovation or other that led to more innovations, and greater strides, that in turn led to them becoming the largest producers of goods in their region. This happened to the USA from the dawn of the twentieth century until the ‘fifties. Then we began to transform into a service economy, just as those others did. Producing goods is what is making China become a world powerhouse, and if we are to compete, we must produce our own stuff. American goods are always equal to the best – or better – even though they are almost never the cheapest. But if we are to reinstate our status as the world’s greatest country, we need to start by supporting our own businesses and workers. We’re in a really big mess, but if enough people commit to working together to solve our problems, we can do anything we set our minds to.

 

 

The Corona-virus Pandemic and Its Connection to Biblical Prophecy and the Book of Revelation

The Corona-virus in Biblical Prophecy, and Its Connection To the Demise of Capitalism As We Have Known It

(Revelation chapter 8, verses 11-13; chapter 8, verses 17-24)

Part 10 of 12 by Minister Paul J. Bern

leap of faith The words ‘corona-virus are on everyone’s lips, and with good reason as it continues to leave a trail of human bodies wherever it goes. Let me cut to the chase right here: This pandemic was prophesied in the Scriptures roughly 1,920 years ago in the Book of Revelation, and I quote: “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore – cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon, spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep, horses and carriages; and the bodies and souls of men…” (Revelation 8, verses 11-13)

 

What was the prophet (in this case it was the apostle John) writing about here? How about an economic catastrophe that is preceded by a disastrous military defeat? Or could that possibly be the other way around? Or maybe it’s neither one of those. Maybe the casualties of this pandemic will be like none before. Just like in verses 11-13, there will be no one to buy the precious cargo’s of the entire merchant marine, and they will all be sitting at their stations on board their ships, but with a complete absence of trade. I have heard it preached or read on Christian blogs and websites that these verses from the 8th chapter of the Book of Revelation will not be because any country’s or any person’s income gets cut off at the knees. No, I believe the original reason is that this signifies a sudden collapse of our vaunted capitalist economic system. What could do that all by itself? Only a flu bug of such virulence as the Corona-virus could do that, a flu bug that destroys all trade by decimating its workers.

 

One possible scenario is that the Corona-virus could kill so many people that it could create a labor shortage of such magnitude that volunteers may have be asked to step in and help. Another good thing I see that could emerge from all this toil and trouble is the end of capitalism as we have known it, and with it the debt-based economy combined with the criminalizing of usury (see Nehemiah chapter 5, verses 1-11): All those ‘global’ merchants, together with their diverse wares, goods, and precious stones, and don’t forget the gold and silver, will be collectively put out of business, just as it has been written:

 

Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all those who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: ‘Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin! Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you’”

 

“Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: ‘With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world’s great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who had been killed on the earth.’” (Revelation 8, verses 17-24).

 

“The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore… “. I could end this commentary right about here and simply say that this is a prediction and a prophecy regarding America for the near future, but that’s only part of the explanation. As I write this, the US still has the world’s largest economy, but it will remain so only up to about 2030, which will be the year that Red China’s economy will overtake and surpass that of the US. At that point, the US dollar will no longer be able to maintain its position as the world’s reserve currency of choice, and the dollar will either have to be devalued or it will suffer a total crash – the likes of which no one has ever seen before (it will make the Great Depression of the 1930’s look like child’s play). This is the first two and the most palatable options for what will happen to the US economy in the next 2 to 3 years.

 

But what if it’s not just the US that goes belly up? That leads me to the second possible conclusion, which would be a total collapse of Capitalism as an economic system. This would make the above passage of Scripture from Revelation something to be taken symbolically rather than literally. “Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all those who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: ‘Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin! Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you’.”

 

“The great city” could very well be New York City or Washington, DC. Then again, this could be symbolism for an economic system and not just one city or country – a truly scary possibility. Either scenario would create unimaginable chaos across the US as well as the other Capitalist countries in western Europe and Asia, and let’s not forget Australia while we’re at it. But check out what the apostle John wrote further down: “Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!”

 

There it is again; the prediction that the US will not only fall, but that she will never rise again, and it will all be over with in just one hour. Of course, there will be some who dismiss this commentary straight out of hand, and they will say, “Who does Pastor Bern think he is? Why, he never even graduated from a seminary!” I will only respond that I have taken this straight out of the Scriptures. My word may be refutable to some, but the Word of God is irrefutable. Be careful that these dire predictions don’t fall from out of the blue and hit you right in the head. There is no substitute for God’s Word, so there can be no argument about that.

 

Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you’.” This implies that there will be religious persecution of Christians in America, something that has previously never happened. This is not a drill, this is the real deal. There is one last prophecy that needs to be mentioned here, and it reads as follows: “Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: ‘With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.” This can only be explained as a meteor or comet strike upon the earth. There is nothing else that fits this description. So, insofar as this is possible, it must be taken very seriously. Otherwise, like Babylon the Great, America will find herself obliterated.

 

So there you have it: the United States is in Bible prophecy all right, but not in the way the majority of churches and denominations are anticipating – nowhere near, in point of fact. The time for all of us to get ready for these events – and they will occur, it’s only a question of when – is today, while we still have time and while we still have a choice. So until next week at this same time, keep a close eye on current events globally, particularly in the US and Israel, keep on studying your Bible, and continue to look upward for any sign of our Lord’s return. Shalom!

Paul the Apostle’s Farewell to the Church At Rome, With Stark Warnings About False Teachers

Paul the Apostle, His Love for His Believers, and His Plans to Visit Rome

(Romans 15, verses 14-33; Romans 16)

no-challenge-no-change

Today I will complete the study of the book of Romans that I started some weeks ago. I will conclude this series starting with the end of chapter 15 through all of chapter 16. The following quotes from Scripture are a summary of the apostle Paul’s closing thoughts as he finished up his letter to the early Roman church. I will begin by taking up where I left off last week in chapter 15, beginning at verse 14.

“I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15: verses 14-16)

“I myself am convinced … that you yourselves are full of goodness...”. As it was with the apostle Paul when he wrote this letter to the early Christian church at Rome, so it is with this Bible study that I send over the Internet today. All of you who are reading this must be doing so because you are seeking Spiritual knowledge and growth, realizing that the empty pursuit of material possessions and meaningless wealth has no bearing on where you stand with God. So let me take this opportunity to encourage you to continue in your faithful studies of God’s Word, and to never let up in your quest for still more higher learning of the deeper mysteries of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. By getting to know Jesus Christ personally as Savior, teacher, mentor and best friend, he then causes us to literally gravitate toward him as we are drawn ever closer to our dear Lord Jesus.

“…the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God…” Paul was a Jewish man and a Roman citizen. The audience Paul spoke to and the class of people Paul wrote to were neither Jews nor were they Roman citizens. Although this may seem insignificant to the modern Bible student, it was a really big deal in Paul’s day because, being raised and educated as a traditional Jew, he would normally have had nothing to do with non-Jews.

The religious Jews of Paul’s day regarded themselves as being superior to non-Jews because of their allegedly superior faith, traditions and especially their formal training. If this sounds familiar to you, it is because this same attitude of spiritual snobbery and religious “superiority” has infected parts of the modern church just as it did back in the day when the book of Romans was written by Paul. That is what Paul meant when he mentioned his “priestly duty” in his letter to the early church at Rome. He was referring to the Levite priesthood described in detail in the first five books of the Old Testament, known to the Jews at that time as the Book of Leviticus. Paul then continues with this train of thought starting in verse 17.

“Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Holy Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written, ‘Those who were not told about Him will see, and those who have not heard will understand’. This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.” (Romans 15: verses 17-22)

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me…”. I strive to do what Paul the apostle did when he wrote these words nearly two thousand years ago. You have noticed as you have read these weekly Bible studies that I rarely mention anything from my own past, nor do I cite any of my own experiences in life. Instead, I have always stuck with God’s Word and I have taught solely from that frame of reference. I do this so that what I am teaching and writing about conforms to the Word of God and to the teachings of Christ Jesus.

In point of fact, as a teacher and minister I am held to a higher standard in God’s eyes, and He expects me to live up to it. Since this is my Christian responsibility, I “study the word to show myself approved” and I make myself “transformed by the renewing of my mind”. There are those who teach the Word of God but who do so from their own frame of reference, based on their experiences in the secular world outside the Church. Paul warned the early Christians about this in chapter 16 as he was finishing his letter to the early Roman church.

“I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” (Romans 16: verses 17-19)

When Paul implored the early church at Rome to “watch out for those who cause divisions”, he was actually prophesying about the advent of church denominations that were beginning at the time these words were being written. In the first century AD, various churches were already proclaiming themselves to be followers of Paul, Peter, James and other apostles who were the Twelve during Christ’s ministry on earth.

As you read the New Testament you will notice numerous occasions where Paul and the other apostles preached against this very thing. The above example is only one of many throughout the Bible. In the early 21st century here in America, there are over 4,000 Protestant denominations not counting the rest of the world. That’s just here in the US. You have no doubt heard or read about examples of this sort of thing happening either in churches or in print. One denomination preaches against another as they try to convince other people that their pastor’s point of view is the only correct one. In the worst cases, different churches from the same denomination preach and teach against each other, no doubt to the complete chagrin of Almighty God.

What will God do with these churches? Let me alert you ahead of time: When the real rapture of the Church occurs in the next few years or so (and we’re not there yet), these churches will find themselves left behind to endure the latter half of the Great Tribulation prophesied in the Book of Revelation, Matthew’s gospel chapters 24 and 25, and in a fair number of other places in the Bible. Let’s not go there, people! Instead of following one denomination or another, let us instead be followers of Jesus Christ and him alone.

Watch out for and steer clear of churches such as these. It is for this very reason that this web site is not connected with or affiliated with any one particular denomination. If you find yourself in a brick-and-mortar church and you hear hate or intolerance being preached against any other church or group of people, get out of there immediately. You can be sure God has led you to this virtual church in its place, a good on-line church where the preaching and teaching comes straight out of the Bible, and one where the baptism by water and by the Holy Spirit is being taught. I am or have already done these things This is how you know you are on the right track.

Always stay in the Word, reading and studying your Bible diligently, because you reinforce your own faith whenever you do so. And next week we will begin our study of the first of Paul’s 2 letters to the church at Corinth, known as the Corinthian epistles. Until then, keep Jesus in your hearts and minds, and live your faith like He was there inside you, inhabiting your hearts and mind..

What the Corona Virus Has In Common With a Little-Known Old Testament Prophet

A Description of Our Modern World

From 2,700 Years Ago

(Biblical prophecy series part 9 of 12) by Minister Paul J. Bern

walk-on-water For my next posting of this 12 part series on Biblical prophecy as it applies to modern life, I’m feeling God encouraging me to compose still another warning concerning the tumultuous times in which we are living. I sometimes get attacked on the Web for these kinds of postings. Some compare it to yelling “fire!” in a movie theater, and I’ve been called worse than that, but I don’t care. This is the mission God has given me, this is what I am doing with my life, and I will let nothing stand in my way. I can’t – it’s critically important that I bring you all up to speed, spiritually speaking, about the events that are currently unfolding, and what the Bible has to say about it all.

What I’m going to write about for this week’s commentary will be the first 9 verses out of the 4th chapter of the Book of Hosea in the Old Testament (that’s right between Daniel and Joel in the latter part of the O.T.). So let me quote the first 5 of those verses for everyone, and they read as follows: “Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelite’s, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of this the land mourns, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying. But let no man bring a charge, let no man accuse another, for your people are like those who bring a charge against a priest. You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you.”

The Book of Hosea was written in the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the eighth century BC, during the reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 BC). Hosea (הושֵעַ) prophesied during a dark and melancholic era of Israel‘s history, the period of the Northern Kingdom’s decline and fall in the 8th century BCE. The apostasy of the people was rampant, having turned away from God in order to serve both the calves of Jeroboam and Baal, a Canaanite god. During Hosea’s lifetime, the kings of the Northern Kingdom, their aristocratic supporters, and the priests had led the people away from the Law of God, as given in the Pentateuch.

Forsaking the worship of God, they worshiped other gods, especially Baal, the Canaanite storm god, and Asherah, a Canaanite fertility god. Other sins followed, including homicide, perjury, theft, and sexual sin. Hosea declares that unless they repent of these sins, God will allow their nation to be destroyed, and the people will be taken into captivity by Assyria, the greatest nation of the time. The prophecy of Hosea centers around God’s unending love towards a sinful Israel. In this text, God’s agony is expressed over the betrayal of Israel.

Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelite’s, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.” There are two schools of thought regarding this first verse. The first are the traditionalists, who believe that the warnings are only for the Jewish nation (“you Israelite’s”). The second school of thought, of which I am a part, extrapolates this first verse as being applicable to Jew and Gentile alike as it unites those 2 faiths, since the apostle Paul wrote that “salvation is first for the Jew, and then for the Gentile”. So even though this is from a relatively obscure book of the Old Testament, it is still just as applicable today as it was in the 8th century BCE when this was written.

There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God…”. Isn’t that our very situation today? We lack faithfulness towards God and other people to whom we owe faithfulness, such as our families, our bosses and co-workers. So many of us are living only for ourselves, oblivious to their surroundings and those they are supposed to interact with, and so ultimately they are oblivious to God. And, to put it bluntly, there are too many who refuse to acknowledge God. Many of these people (but not all) are set in their ways to the point that I have stopped talking to them. All I can do is warn them and pray for them. But those who go on being atheists or agnostics, I will not stand in your way any longer, so please continue as you are. Or those individuals who worship Satan – well, you’re on the wrong track in life, but God can and will bring you back if you are willing. That’s all I care to say about that for now.

There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.” Watch a Hollywood action movie and this is exactly what you see. There’s lots of cursing and killing, adultery and bloodshed, lying and stealing. Sadly, this is a reflection of American society in the early 21st century. The lyrics in much of popular music breaks all bounds. “Because of this the land mourns, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying.

What does this look like to you? I’ll tell you all what this is, it’s the mysterious animal, fish and bird deaths that are occurring globally for seemingly no reason. Dead fish washing up on beaches by the tens of thousands, birds dropping out of the air literally out of the blue, and vanishing species like the polar bear, the honey bee, the elephant and many more – all these are the hallmarks of our generation, a generation where humankind’s rampant pollution of our environment is literally poisoning the earth to death. It’s all our fault!

The Bible says clearly in Genesis chapter 1, verse 28, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground’.” So it clearly states right here that God put us in charge of the earth, to properly conserve its resources and preserve all the life contained in the earth, and to manage it in a clean and orderly fashion. Well, we’ve trashed the place instead!

Even now as I write this, there is a sea of plastic bobbing up and down in the middle of the Pacific ocean that is literally twice the size of Texas. Our ground water has been polluted, the oceans have been poisoned, and the air contaminated. We have done this to ourselves in the name of profit. Even where we haven’t, this systematic poisoning has been done with our consent through our silence about the matter. It seems there have been too many people who are unwilling to stand up and fight the powers controlling our world. This too has to come to an end. Stand up and fight for your right to quality of life, because if you don’t we will lose it forever.

But let no man bring a charge, let no man accuse another…. You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you.” This is why nothing is being done about the pollution of the earth and the trashing of our own environment. Those in charge in government aren’t governing, and the leaders in the churches aren’t leading. Everyone is wallowing in their own complacency – and sometimes outright laziness – as they cash their paychecks every week or month or whatever while doing only the bare minimum of work required. The leaders we have selected are no better than ourselves, and are often worse! It’s all our own fault, we did this to ourselves, so let’s not accuse one another. Since we are all just as guilty, we have all got some repenting to do, and this must start immediately. And now let me conclude this week’s message, starting at verse 6:

So I will destroy your mother – my people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I have rejected you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I will also ignore your children. The more the priests increased, the more they sinned against me; they exchanged their Glory for something disgraceful. They feed on the sins of my people and relish their wickedness. And it will be: Like people, like priests. I will punish both of them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.” (Hosea 4, verses 6-9)

I will destroy your mother, it reads? Is God going to kill all our moms because we’ve all been bad little boys and girls? No, “your mother” refers to ‘mother earth’, our planet. The prophet Hosea was warning us that if we persist in destroying the earth, God may decide to lend us a helping hand, so to speak. That ‘helping hand’s’ name will be World War Three, and that is what God is going to send us if we don’t straighten up and mend our ways. “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge”. Ignorance and complacency are not blissful, they are what happens when we choose to disconnect ourselves from the world around us and the people in it. Ignorance and complacency are the negative results of not wanting to know, or of not caring enough to want to help initiate change for the better. Ignorance and complacency are the status quo.

Because you have rejected knowledge, I have rejected you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I will also ignore your children.” Rejected knowledge? Just look at all the ‘mumbo-jumbo’ that passes for school textbook curriculum these days. Look at all the runaway kids and the ones who get kidnapped and sold to sex traffickers. What about the ones addicted to video games, online porn, drugs and alcohol? The list goes on and on, and it’s up to us to straighten this mess out.

It’s about a reboot of our leadership from the bottom up, starting with the parents in the home. “They feed on the sins of my people and relish their wickedness. And it will be: Like people, like priests. I will punish both of them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.” If America does not repent of her sins against God, of her adulteries, thefts, murders and other crimes against one another, God is going to destroy this land the same way he destroyed ancient Israel during the time of Hosea the prophet – by military conquest! So repent, all you people who are living sinfully as I have just described, or America will soon be no more. The land will still be here, I think, but the country will be gone forever. What a sad day that will be! We’re running out of time, people. Let’s all band together and begin doing wonderful and laudable things with our lives on behalf of ourselves and our societies, and all in the name of the Lord.. Who knows? Maybe we can change God’s mind if we try hard enough. Until next time….

The End of the World As We Know It Isn’t Proceeding As We Thought, But That Is About to Change

Setting the Record Straight on End Times Prophecy

and the Great Tribulation Period

by Minister Paul J. Bern

(Matthew chapter 24, verses 4-13, 32-35; Daniel chapter 12, verses 5-9)

coming back soon
I was recently made aware – thanks to the alternative media on You-Tube and other social media sites – that president Trump’s former chief of staff from 2017, Steve Bannon, has formed an alliance with a Chinese Christian organization. All of them, excluding myself, are convinced that Donald Trump will bring on the End Times Biblical prophecies of Matthew chapter 24 (or Luke chapter 21, or Mark chapter 13, take your pick). It is vitally important that we all understand the true meaning of the Bible verses that these beliefs are based on. It is equally important that we understand the timing of these events, while at the same time destroying some old myths about Christianity in general. So to get things started today, let’s go to the Gospel of Matthew chapter 24, verses 4-13.

4) Jesus answered: ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. 5) For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6) You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7) Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8) All these are the beginning of birth pains. 9) Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10) At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11) and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12) Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13) but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

To put this in its proper context, this conversation took place just a few days before Jesus Christ was crucified, literally just before the start of the Feast of Passover. The Twelve, together with Jesus, had just left the heart of Jerusalem after attending an invitation-only banquet which had a noticeable number of Pharisees in attendance. This group of people, at the height of festivities, found themselves berated by our Lord and Savior in the previous chapter of Matthew’s gospel. This event in Matthew chapter 23 (verses 1-39) is known in theological circles as the ‘seven woes’. Afterwards, the apostles came to Jesus and asked him about the coming of the Jewish messiah, or the return of Jesus to claim the souls of all his followers – which would mean the end of the world as we have known it.

Notice the very first thing Jesus said in verses 4-5: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.” I can name at least a handful of these ‘cult churches’, most of which are comprised of entire denominations, but I do not want to digress at this time. In fact, I would regard that as a separate topic to be addressed in the future, and done in such a manner as to be as non-offensive as possible. But for now, verses 6 and 7 concern the times we have been living in, with 2 world wars having already occurred, and a third one sure to follow.

9) Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10) At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other….” How many of my readers have heard or read about, or have watched videos about the return of Jesus that is supposed to take place just before the start of the “seven year tribulation”? Yet that is quite the opposite of what Jesus said as he explained himself just above in verse 9. There is no ambiguity whatsoever in Jesus’ response to the questions posed to him by the Twelve. A time is coming when our Christian faith will be severely tested, even to the point of death. So do not be afraid when you see Christians persecuted or even killed, even if this extends into your own church. No matter where you had been accustomed to attending Sunday services, and even if it happens in your own family, anyone who thinks this can’t happen right here in North America had better think again.

OK, now let’s fast forward in Matthew 24 to verses 32-35, and I quote: “32) Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33) Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34) Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Just as surely as the seasons come and go, so it will be at the time of our Lord’s return. “ ….this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened…” With respect to this verse, there are some Bibles being used by certain reprobate Christians that translate the word ‘generation’ as having to do with race. So-called “white nationalist” and other similar groups of bigots who regard themselves as being superior to people of color twist this verse around as they bend it over backwards to make it fit their needs and conform to their closed-minded view of things and particularly other people. Have nothing to do with them. No one can love God while despising his creations all at once.

But, to finish the thought, if the word ‘generation’ was meant literally, that would count as about 40 years – the average human lifespan when Christ walked the earth. Notice verses 32-33, “32) Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33) Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door….” This first part of Christ’s instructions that day had to do with the birth of the nation of Israel on May 12, 1948, but it is told in parable format. However, the religious establishment at that time tried to make this teaching of our Lord to conform to their ideas. So it was taught that since a generation spanned about 40 years at the time our Savior and Redeemer was here with us, when we add 40 years to the date of the founding of Israel, we get My 12, 1988, except that date came and went without incident.

So these cult churches and slick TV preachers said at that point, ‘Well then, if our date for the Lord’s return is one generation, then Jesus must have been talking about 70 years, not 40, closer to a modern lifespan. Unfortunately for all those phony prophets and bogus fortune-tellers out there, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding as a sovereign nation, which was May 12th, 2018, also came and went without incident. So there is either something wrong with God’s Word – and there’s simply no way that can be the case – or there is something amiss with the translation. As you all know from your history classes from back when, the original Hebrew Bible was translated to Greek at right around the year 100AD, and these translations still exist today. But it was not until some 200 years later at the Council of Nicea that the Bible was extensively changed, and substantial damage was done to God’s Word. The Holy Spirit of the risen Lord fought back against those forces of darkness, and it has prevailed ever since.

12) Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13) but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” In these last days, people will often grow weary of serving God, since these ministries operate without pay. In modern terms, those who preach and teach the Word, as well as those who support them, are going to experience burn-out. Another aspect of this is those who have supported ministries in the past may withdraw their sponsorship and leave, often for financial reasons. But those who tough it out will make it to a state of everlasting life.

So what are we to do in the meantime? For this we must go to the last chapter of the Book of Daniel, and I quote: “5) Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. 6) One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, ‘How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?’ 7) The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, ‘It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.’ 8) I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, ‘My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?’ 9) He replied, ‘Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end.‘” (Daniel 12, verses 5-9)

For the context of this exchange between the prophet Daniel and what were evidently 2 angels, Daniel was been shown through the Spirit what will happen at the Battle of Armageddon, and how at least some of the events of that era will play out. Judging from the conversation that took place in the Spirit, the exchange between the two angels was for Daniel’s benefit. After all, there will be no ignorant persons in heaven, I’m very sure about that. But Daniel saw or perceived what may have been bits and pieces of information about whatever it was that he was viewing.

But at the end comes the truth, as it is written: “8) I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, ‘My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?’ 9) He replied, ‘Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end.” “The End” in this verse of scripture, is probably still some years in the future, even for us. If the largely Protestant teaching as I have learned it about a “rapture” of the holy and separate Church has still not come to pass over 17 months after it was “forecast” to occur by certain ‘men of god’, then there is nothing left for the remainder of us to do except going back to daily prayers, and some of them are sure to become more fervent and intense as time as we know it marches on. Shalom…

How to Embrace Each Others Diversity As An Alternative Lifestyle

Embracing Each Other’s Faith Despite Our Differences

(Romans chapter 14, verses 13-23)

For this week’s Bible study we will finish Romans chapter 14, as we continue to learn the meaning of tolerance among ourselves as it applies to our faith. In today’s lesson we’ll be concluding the apostle Paul’s train of thought from the first 12 verses that we studied last week concerning judging one another. Paul was talking about passing judgment on “disputable matters” of faith, using eating certain types of foods as an example. Some folks eat only certain types of foods, such as different kinds of meat, whereas others do not. Still others are vegetarians. Paul is not preaching on what or what not to eat, he is only using this as an example of what he is trying to teach us. Paul states unequivocally that “each one should be convinced in his (or her) own mind”. He then continues in this train of thought as he finishes making his point, beginning in verse 13.

“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” (Romans 14: verses 13-18)

“Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way”. Here Paul is exhorting us not to do anything that could compromise or call into question the faith of someone else, whether they are a believer or not. If you are a Protestant then don’t be putting down Catholics. If you’re a Catholic, then don’t express hate for a Muslim or a Jew just because they believe differently than you do (except, of course, for those who blow themselves up while in large crowds of other people). We can and do disagree, that is true. But that does not give us an excuse to look down on someone who we erroneously regard as being not as good as we are. If you are so far up in the clouds spiritually that your feet are no longer touching the ground, then you have lost touch with the very people to whom you are supposed to be witnessing to and setting a good example for. Muslims and Jews do not eat pork. I happen to like pork, I eat it about once a week. Under no circumstances does that allow me to look down upon someone who abstains from pork. And that works both ways.

This also brings up the issue of antisemitism, which is a sugar-coated term for hatred of the Jews. If you are a Christian and worship Jesus Christ in Spirit and in truth, then it is impossible to hate Jewish people because Jesus walked the earth as a Jewish man. You cannot simultaneously hate the Jews and claim to love Christ, who died for all our sins. You either love Christ or you don’t. And if you don’t believe in Christ, then the Bible says you will be condemned to hell when your life on earth is over. On the other hand, you can change your mind right now and ask Jesus, “If you’re really real, then come and become the Lord of my life”. If you love Christ, a Jewish man, then you presumably love all Jews as well. Anything less is completely contradictory and doesn’t hold up under serious examination. Furthermore, while I certainly don’t wish to scold or otherwise cause offense with my readers, I think it’s better to tell the truth and be unpopular than to be well liked for merely telling people the things they like to hear. As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is part of my job to point out these things.

Do not by your eating (or drinking) destroy your brother for whom Christ died”. Many Christians, especially Evangelicals, abstain from alcoholic beverages for reasons of faith. Although I was raised as a Catholic, I have been a Progressive Christian since 1992 when I first gave my life to the Lord. As such, I occasionally enjoy alcoholic beverages, but I always do so in moderation. By the same token, if I went out to dinner with Evangelicals I would order a soft drink instead of beer or a mixed drink. By the same token, if I went out to dinner with a Muslim or a Jew, I would not order pork and risk offending that person. That would be no better than showing up at an AA meeting with a six pack of beer. I have been fortunate to never have had a problem with alcohol or drugs, but by opening up a six pack of beer at that AA meeting I would be offending all others there who must by necessity abstain from all forms of alcohol. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil”. Instead, we are to strive to set a good Christian example for all to see, and our every word and action will be watched closely by others, especially non-believers. Since Christ died and was risen from the dead on the third day for us all, we are to treat everyone equally in these matters and not cause someone’s conscience to be bothered or compromised by our own actions. Anyone who does would be sinning against that person and against God. Paul then goes on starting at verse 19.

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.” (Romans 14: verses 19-21)

The main point of Christianity is belief in Christ Jesus as the risen Son of God. All other issues of faith, such as what to eat or drink, or for that matter how we worship as an individual, becomes a side issue and as such are besides the point. Abortion is another example. Although I personally think abortion is wrong, I refuse to pass judgment on those who do not, or who may have actually had an abortion sometime in the past. That is between them and God. Judging other people is God’s job, not mine, and therefore I never presume to do God’s job for Him – as if I were somehow capable of doing that in a righteous manner in the first place!

For the Bible says that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. And again it is written by the apostle James, “Be careful how you judge one another, for with the same measure that you judge others, it will be measured back to you”. It is far better to follow what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”. So if I bring a six pack of beer to an AA meeting, and my actions cause one of the people at that meeting to relapse and wind up back in rehab, that sin is not on that person’s soul; it would in that case actually be on mine. Let it be far from me to cause my brother or sister to stumble and fall because of my actions, because God is watching everything I do and He is listening to every word that I say. So it is for all of us. Paul then concludes in verse 22 as follows.

“So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14: verses 22-23)

We are to keep everything we believe, every bit of our faith, between ourselves and God. Paul wrote elsewhere in the Book of Philippians that we are to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling between ourselves and the Lord”. That is exactly what Paul was talking about here. I may not believe what others do, and I may have a different nature of faith than my brother or my sister. But under no circumstances does that give me any right to condemn what anyone else believes, or to look down on them, believing that my faith is somehow better than theirs. God made us all in His image and likeness, so says the Bible. Therefore if we have questions or doubts about what someone else believes, we are actually passing judgment on that which God has made, and no one has any right to question the judgment and intentions of God. That is the ultimate form of blasphemy, a damnable sin if ever there was one.

Let us all start doing this today, and going forward. By doing so we can all become better Christians and have a better walk with Christ. Remember that the closer we walk with Christ the closer we are to God. As we become closer to God, we grow stronger and better through Him by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. And this is a noble and worthy goal for all of us to achieve and to live by. By doing so we become a better Christian and a better person, and that should be the goal of everyone who truly believes. Besides, by doing so, you never know when our actions can influence a non-believer and win them over to Christ. And that is something that is always worthwhile.

The Future of Humanity, Biblical Prophecy, and How They Will Soon Coincide

An Additional Message to Clarify My Previous Warnings About the Future of America and the Western World

by Minister Paul J. Bern

For the last 6 straight weeks, as my regular readers know – and a hearty ‘welcome’ to all you newcomers – I published a post about how there could be a massive economic reset in the world’s future, starting with the United States. I also used a lot of Bible scripture to back up my words. I have received a lot of strong positive feedback about my series of postings on my blogs, but there was a fair amount of the negative kind too, primarily from atheists and religious ‘conservatives’. I have found myself on the receiving end of open derision from a small but highly vocal minority because of my “radical” views, as one man called it. ‘How could there ever be an economic reset when capitalism works so well’, was just one of the replies I received (heavily edited, of course). Apparently many of those individuals did not bother to read the entire article or, worse yet, just glanced at the title and the picture, and jumped to whatever conclusion suited them for that moment.

The Bible has a lot to say about nonbelievers, but I’m going to quote this week from the Book of 2nd Peter, something I don’t often get a chance to do. Peter may have been an illiterate fisherman who dictated the two small books named after him, but he was filled with the Holy Spirit (see Acts chapter 2), and as such he “wrote” some beautiful stuff, and I quote: “3) Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4) They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ 5) But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6) By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7) By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” (2 Peter 3, verses 3-7)

Where is Jesus? I thought he would have come back by now. What’s the holdup? These three questions are on the lips and minds of agnostics and scoffers alike. After all, Jesus said about the End Times of today, “32) Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33) Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34) Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24, verses 32-35) For those of you who may not know, ‘the fig tree’ is a Biblical symbol for the nation of Israel. So these words of Jesus, spoken when he was speaking to the Twelve about the End Times, refer to the rebirth of the nation of Israel, which happened in May of 1948.

“….when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” So from these words of our Lord and Savior we can safely conclude that the End Times that Christ spoke about in Matthew chapter 24 have arrived, most likely beginning with the first two world wars. Since the nation of Israel was ‘born’ on May 14, 1948, one could normally conclude that one generation – roughly 70 years – away from the nation of Israel’s birth could be assumed to be 2018. But it’s 2020, people, and nothing having to do with a Second Coming of Christ is on the horizon. It’s been over 70 years, a generation plus 2 more years, and still – nothing yet.

People are beginning to have doubts because Christ’s return is taking longer than anticipated by many true believers, not to mention the skeptics. But the apostle Peter knew through the indwelling of the Spirit within him that this would occur. That’s why he dictated the following words as he continued in 2nd Peter chapter 3: “8) But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9) The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 11) Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12) as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13) But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (2nd Peter 3, verses 8-13)

It is perfectly normal to have generally doubtful or even pessimistic thoughts enter our minds. It’s even perfectly normal to have doubts about the Bible, about God, and even about the purpose and meaning of life itself. But I think Peter was saying right here to stop wasting time worrying about these matters, because they are often beyond our control – but not necessarily all the time. In verse 8, Peter was saying as best as he could that God is timeless, and that He operates in a higher dimension of existence than ourselves. Since God does not experience the passage of time like we do, his schedule, his timing, and that of humanity often don’t coincide. Often this can appear to us as if a certain prayer to the Lord has not been answered. But oftentimes, it’s not that God isn’t going to answer our prayers. He’s just waiting for an opportunity to give you even more than you asked for.

In the very next verse, the Bible tells us plainly why Jesus will be late in returning. “Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Jesus is waiting to return so that as many who want to enter into his Kingdom, and who want to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, can be brought into it. The apostle Paul wrote, “God is not willing that anyone should perish, but that all people come to repentance.” So there you have it from the apostles Peter and Paul. God is going to wait for as long as he can before shutting the door. But once that door is shut, it will be shut forever, and then massive destruction will come.

“….the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?” Whatever nature this colossal event is going to be will be unknown right up until the moment it happens, there can be no doubt about that based on what I’m reading in verse 10. All indications are that – based on how this passage of Scripture is worded – Peter was speaking about some kind of massive cosmic event, either a large asteroid or comet striking the earth. I’m sorry to disappoint some of you, it isn’t going to be Nibiru which, if it does indeed exist, is somewhere beyond Neptune right now. That’s past Uranus, past Saturn and Jupiter too. It takes Neptune, the outermost planet of the four, 80 years to go around the sun. If Nibiru is beyond that, even if it were headed straight for us it would take 40 or 50 years to get here. Think about it, and do the darned math while you’re at it so all you people can stop worrying about ‘Nibiru’.

11) Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12) as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming….” God is watching each and every one of us. Not to whack us on the tops of our heads every time we’re ‘bad’, but because he cares for us like a parent would their little children. If you were raising kids, would you give them candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Out of the question! Would you take them to Six Flags or Disney World every weekend, whether they deserved to go or not? As before, completely out of the question. We are raising responsible adults, not spoiled brats and car thieves. Notice the part where Peter states that we “look forward” to Christ’s return and that we are to “speed its coming”? The reason Christ has yet to return is because we are not ready for him to do so. And that’s just for the believers. The nonbelievers would simply be swept away if Christ returned overnight. They would all be gone, and all their belongings with them, before morning light.

So Peter is clearly telling us that we need to clean up our act, and that we are rapidly running out of time to do so. Otherwise, “That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat…..” “The heavens” presumably means the skies above us, implying a natural disaster of such Biblical proportions that the earth’s atmosphere may be completely burned away, similar to what apparently happened on Mars sometime in the distant past. In that event, the earth’s surface would be unlivable, but it would be possible to have large pockets of breathable air underground in caves. Maybe the cave men of 100,000 years ago lived there for the same reasons, having themselves escaped a similar calamity. Could this have been what Peter was trying to warn us about? Nobody knows for sure, but we all had better live each day as if that one is our last.

Real Love vs. Superficial Affection

Loving One Another Without Being Judgmental

Romans chapter 14, verses 1-12

salt of the earth

Today in our ongoing study of the book of Romans, I will move on to chapter 14. Since there is a lot of subject matter to discuss, I am going to divide this portion of the study into 2 halves for all the new believers who are reading this posting. After all, I would not want to give you too much information all at once and risk losing anyone from ‘information overload’. Instead, I will lead this study with the first half of chapter 14, beginning at verse 1.

“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14, verses 1-4)

We are not supposed to be passing judgment on those whose beliefs and values are different from our own. Those who behave this way do so because they are motivated by pride or jealousy, and sometimes due to their own deep-seated contempt. Some folks such as myself can eat and thoroughly enjoy all kinds of food without feeling any particular sense of guilt or conviction. Others, on the other hand, are vegetarians, and they behave this way because of their convictions, which may well be entirely different than ours. Jews and Muslims do not eat pork. Neither do some Christians, although I personally am not one of those, but neither do I judge those who abstain. But what the apostle Paul was saying when he wrote these words is that we have no right to pass judgment on one another because of our differences, be they real or perceived, and particularly when they are baseless and without foundation (such as racial hatred). Judgment is God’s job – it’s not ours and it never was.

When God made each of us, when He formed us in our mother’s womb, He made every one of us to be a completely unique individual. God did this because He knew that there is much richness in diversity. But God also did this to teach us tolerance and mutual respect for each other. There are no two people exactly alike, and this was God’s good and perfect intention for us all. So we can conclude from this simple truth that God intends for each of us to be tolerant of people from different religions, cultures, races, national origins, genders, sexual orientations and generations. He also commands us to show more understanding and empathy towards others who may be different from ourselves in a variety of ways. And we are to be continually doing this no matter where we are from, or what we have said or done in the past. God isn’t interested in where we have been in the past, He is far more interested of where we may be going in the future. That’s because where we are headed is far more important than where we have been, and what we are presently doing is also far more important than what we have done in the past. The past needs to be left where it is. Paul continues this train of thought in the next verses of this chapter of Scripture.

“One man considers one day to be more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14, verses 5-8)

Jews celebrate Hanukkah and the Day of Atonement (among other holy days) while others do not. Muslims celebrate the month of Ramadan while others rarely do. Gentiles, which are basically everybody else, do not celebrate any of those. Christians have days of fasting (hopefully, and if not, why not?). Non-Christians do not fast as a general rule, but some fast for personal reasons. No matter what each of us is doing with the intention of pleasing God and glorifying His holy name, we do so with our minds and hearts directed towards God because we worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Each person does so in their own special way, and none of us may pass judgment or be critical towards one another because of it. As Paul the apostle said in verse 5, “each one should be convinced in their own mind”. Paul then continues in verse 9.

“For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: ‘As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before me, every tongue will confess to God’. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14, verses 9-12)

Here Paul is reiterating the single most central point of the Christian faith, which is that Jesus died by crucifixion and was then raised from the dead on the morning of the third day. Jesus rose to everlasting life so that we too, who worship Him in Spirit and in truth, might have everlasting life with Him. Therefore we are not to be wasting time and energy judging our brother and our sister because all who believe have already been judged, and they who do not believe have similarly been judged, except with a different outcome. Those who believe in Christ have the Father’s promise of everlasting life, and we pray for those who do not, so that they too may come to a realization of the Truth. After all, the Bible is very clear about this particular point, and the teachings of Jesus also state this with absolute clarity. And that teaching, which is found in all four Gospels and in numerous other places in the Bible as well, is that those who believe sincerely in the shed blood of Christ will be saved, but those who refuse to believe will face eternal condemnation in the fires of hell, and there for all eternity without end in just the same way as those who go to heaven when they die will also be there without end.

In conclusion, we are not to be judging and second-guessing other people no matter who they are. Judging others is God’s job, it is not ours. We are to leave God’s work to him alone. We are not to go dabbling in it because it is none of our business. But instead, as the Bible says in the book of Philippians, we are to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord” (Philippians chapter 2, verses 12-13). Yes, we are to do so armed with the knowledge that it is God Almighty and God alone who judges, and in so doing, “each of us will give an account of himself (or herself) to God”. Therefore we are to fear God’s holy judgment because it is He alone who gives us everlasting life according to the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for each and every one of us. As such we are to conduct ourselves accordingly, knowing full well that we will adhere to this teaching according to the measure of faith that the risen Lord Jesus has implanted in every one of us. And we are to do so because as Christians we are to obey the commandments of God. In this case the commandment is that we are to be loving, charitable, tolerant and empathetic towards one another, knowing that we are going to be judged accordingly. Let us all resolve to do this to the best of our ability each day, and in so doing to make a better world in which to live. After all, a better world is what we all want, for that is what God intended. Ans next week we’ll go over part 2 of Romans 14.