The Belt Of Truth

As Christians, we've all heard about having to put on the Armor of God as listed in Ephesians 6:10-18. Each piece listed is an individual layer of Spiritual protection which creates a foundation for the next piece listed. When we are protected under all 7 layers of the Armor of God, then nothing can stop us.

The 1st layer is the Belt of Truth which Paul tells you to gird around your loins because it is your loins that Satan will attack with lies and deceit. On a physical level, if the loins are exposed, then one kick to the groin will take you down regardless of your physical skills. On a spiritual level, if Satan can keep you from the truth and convince you to believe his lies, then he doesn't need to do anything else. He's already won.

The Power of Prayer is always the outer layer whether you're fully suited or missing a few pieces because Paul said in verse 18 that we should be praying always. So when you're completely naked and need to put on the Belt of Truth, you start with prayer first to bind the forces of darkness as you begin putting it on. 2nd Corinthians 4:4 says that Satan is the one who keeps the eyes and the mind blinded from seeing the truth. So you need Spiritual forces to get that deception out of the way.

Then, begin force-feeding yourself the Word of God on a daily basis because it's vital to putting on the Belt of Truth. Jesus said in John 8:31-32 that if you abide in God's Word, then you will know the truth and the truth will make you free. I say "force-feed" because reading the Bible is an acquired taste that consumes you once you get into the habit. But if you've fallen out of the habit, it requires a commitment to get it going again. But you've got to do it. You can't put on the Belt of Truth or the rest of the armor without it.

As you read the Bible, your understanding of it and how it applies to your daily life will be given to you as you daily talk to God while reading the Bible. God promises us in James 1:5 that if any of us is lacking in wisdom, just ask for it and we'll get it. God wants us praying and asking questions while we read His Word. That's how it gets absorbed.

Then, the way we actually strap on the Belt of Truth is found in 2nd Corinthians 10:5 where Paul tells you not to believe everything you think but instead, "lead every thought captive into the obedience of Christ." Christians these days spend way too much time trying to force the Word of God to conform to the wisdom of the world when we should be doing just the opposite. God would have us force the wisdom of the world to conform to the Word of God.

When 2nd Corinthians 10:5 says to "take every thought captive" it really means it. Our brain is like a computer that's been infected with malicious software. It's still a good brain, but you can't trust and rely upon everything that's going on up in there. It's been infected with software from the world culture, which is opposed to God. It's been infected with the software of our sin nature and harmful appetites. It's been infected with malware straight from Satan himself known as "arrows from the wicked one" according to Ephesians 6:10-18. So with all that going on up in there, no wonder Paul warns us to take every thought captive.

Proverbs 16:25 "There is a way which seems right, but at the end of it are the ways of death."

Proverbs 3:5-7 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths. Don't be wise in your own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil."

Psalm 32:8 "I the Lord will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and guide you with My eye upon you." That's great news because God's eye is connected to God's brain. My eye is connected to my brain which has proven insufficient over and over again. God's brain is bigger than our brain, so God's eyes can see more than our eyes. Therefore, trust in the Lord with all your heart, not your brain. He will direct your path and teach you personally.

Our search and discovery of the truth, guided by God's personal direction via daily prayer and Bible study is the foundation for which the rest of the Armor of God is built. Without the Belt of Truth, we're in bondage to all of Satan's deception. Too many professed Christians today are victims of Satan's lies because they've built most of their education and personal viewpoints from the wisdom of this world without filtering it first through God's Belt of Truth.

Whenever Christians research anything, it doesn't matter whether we're talking about political issues, religious issues, cultural issues, marital issues, sexual issues, financial issues, supernatural issues, historical issues, whether we're reading books, magazines, watching television, absorbing documentaries, researching the occult, researching anything...

There are 4 pivotal truths that YOU MUST HAVE ESTABLISHED IN YOUR HEART if you're to wear the Belt of Truth:

1. The wisdom of the world is foolishness to God. I Corinthians 3:19

2. Respectful fear of the Lord is the beginning of true wisdom and understanding. Proverbs 9:10

3. A true follower of Jesus Christ abides in God's Word... John 8:31-32

4. ...and brings all theories and arguments in opposition to God's Word into alignment with God's Word. II Corinthians 10:4-5

That is the Belt of Truth. If those 4 truths are permanently engraved on your heart, then you can watch any documentary, read any book or magazine, research any topic without fear of deception because God is with you in your research, instructing you and teaching you in the way you should go; counseling you and guiding you with His eye upon you. This is how I managed to survive watching countless hours of paranormal documentaries during the 1990s without being deceived.

Here are 4 signs you can watch for if you're not wearing the Belt of Truth:

1. You respect the wisdom of the world more than the wisdom of God.

2. You fear the world and what it thinks more than you fear the Lord and what HE thinks.

3. You abide in the words of the world's wisest rather than abiding in God's Word...

4. ...and you are probably in the habit of forcing Biblical doctrine into a box that is more palatable and acceptable with the world's wisdom. Instead of leading every thought captive into the obedience of Christ, you lead every truth captive into the obedience of the world.

If you find yourself leaning towards any of these 4 points, then Satan has managed to chip away at your Belt of Truth. That also means that the other 6 pieces of defense in the Armor of God are most likely absent as well since the Belt of Truth is the bottom layer.

- Without our reliance upon Biblical authority (The Sword of the Spirit)...
- We begin to lose our identity in Christ (The Helmet of Salvation)...
- Without which our focus shifts toward self-reliance which destroys our faith (The Shield of Faith)...
- Which takes away our peace (The Shoes of Peace)...
- Which leads us into feeling guilty (The Breastplate of Righteousness)...
- So that truth is the final casualty (The Belt of Truth).

Truth is the number one enemy of unrighteousness; therefore it is easy for Satan to chip away at the 1st and final layer of armor once the Breastplate of Righteousness has been removed. Hardly any Biblical doctrine can make it's way into the heart anymore because every part of the Bible is either deemed offensive, inapplicable or too archaic. Since there is no healthy prayer-life, no Biblical authority, no authority in Christ, no faith in God's faithfulness, no peace standing upon the whole counsel of God, no God-given righteousness, then the usurpation of societal authority, secular church authority, faith in yourself, faith in other people, faith in money, faith in your own definition of what's right has overthrown and overruled God's Word, which is the 1st and final layer: The Belt of Truth. You are now completely naked, defenseless, a serious danger to yourself and other Christians.

To naked Christians everywhere who are running around all over the place, usurping your worldly wisdom upon the rest of us without realizing what you're doing... PLEASE!!! Please get somewhere alone with God, and pray for discernment. Pray for the truth. Don't be wise in your own eyes as Proverbs 3:5-7 warns. Get back into prayer. Get back into God's Word. Respect the truth of God's Word over the wisdom of this world. Respectfully fear the Lord and what HE thinks over what the world thinks. Move out of the trailer park of worldly wisdom and move into the mansion of Godly wisdom. Abide in God's Word. Stop trying to force Biblical truth into a box that's acceptable to the world. Let it be the light it was intended to be. Lead every thought captive into the obedience of Christ.

Do all these things and you've put on the Belt of Truth and you're on your way to putting on the Armor of God.


Why Israel Matters

Many Christians like myself are constantly monitoring all things relevant to the Nation of Israel while many other Christians wonder what all the fuss is about. This is in part due to our main stream media's decades-old-habit of keeping Israel out of the news until she's forced into a position of having to defend herself, as the satirical cartoon on the right so adequately conveys. But I'm afraid that a lot of today's Christian apathy for the Nation of Israel is the result of a massive deficiency in Biblical literacy.

Most of today's Christians get all of their spiritual input from pastors and daily devotionals. While God has certainly gifted teachers to bring us this valuable input, God meant for it to be a supplement to our daily diet, not a replacement for the daily digestion of God's Word. In terms of food, that would be like trying to stay alive with a daily vitamin pill and a small glass of milk and water. That might keep you from dieing, but I would hardly call that LIVING.

By limiting our spiritual input to what we gain from today's pastors and devotionals, many Christians have come to believe that the God of The New Testament is a God who has matured from the primitive and immature God he used to be during the days of the Old Testament; as if to suggest that God somehow in the span of 4000 years finally realized that all of his wrath and judgment with commandments and rules weren't getting us anywhere. So in continuing with this line of thinking, it must have been during that 400 year gap between Malachi and Matthew that God finally developed a soft spot in his heart and decided to pay for our sins Himself so that now, we can live in an age of tolerance and understanding as God loves us unconditionally. In other words, because God's old ways in the Old Testament didn't work out for him, he changed and developed new ways codified in the New Testament so that now, we should consider the New Testament our Bible and completely ignore the Old Testament, except for historical purposes.

Now folks, I have never personally heard this type of thinking taught as I've written it out in the above paragraph, but it is an accurate paraphrase of the type of thinking I've seen and heard from many Christians today when discussing the nation of Israel or discussing the Bible. While the New Testament may be a great place to start for new readers, I would never teach anyone to limit our studies to the New Testament. The Bible is ONE BOOK from Genesis to Revelation. This is an amazing and obvious discovery once the entire package has been read. As Chuck Missler has often said, "The great discovery is that the Bible is an integrated message system! It's not just 66 books penned by 40 authors over thousands of years, it's an integrated whole which bears evidence of supernatural engineering in every detail!"

As I've often stated before, the English language is a vague and inconsistent language. The original Biblical language of Greek, Hebrew & Aramaic is as far above our English as English is above cave-man grunting. Today, people think of "testament" in terms of someone's testimony, someone's witness, or at best, something someone has left behind after their death in a "last will and testament". Originally, the word "testament" meant so much more. The original Greek word for Testament is "diathéké" which is also translated into the English word "covenant". The word "covenant" is probably more definitive for us today since we use the word "covenant" to define the sacred commitment between two people in marriage when we speak of the marriage covenant. A covenant is a sacred relationship, founded upon a sacred promise and bound by supernatural means.

The New Covenant is founded upon John 3:16.
"For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whosoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life." John 3:16 Amplified.

God Himself is the one who is making the covenant. The covenant relationship is between God and whosoever believes in His Son Jesus to take upon their sin, trusts Him to pay for it, clings to Him because of this act and following his teachings, and relies upon Him to guarantee their passage into Heaven when they die. The promise of the covenant is salvation from death and the promise of eternal life. There are many other promises included with this covenant that are not mentioned in John 3:16 which is why there are 23 other books after "John" to explain them in detail. Some of those promises are conditional, some of them are unconditional. But the foundational promise is John 3:16 which begins a sacred relationship between God and every Christian, which is known and experienced by a Spiritual rebirth. Since the rebirth is spiritual and not physical, then races do not matter and neither do national boundaries. This is the New Covenant; i.e. The New Testament.

If Spiritual rebirth in Jesus Christ is the New Covenant, then what is the old covenant? Since a covenant is a sacred relationship between two parties, founded upon a sacred promise and bound by supernatural means, then who are the two parties and what are the promises? The answer to that question goes all the way back to Genesis 12:1-3 where it all got started. God began his covenant with one man, a particular piece of real-estate and the people that would eventually be called, the children of Israel. The Old Covenant and all it's promises are about God's personal intervention throughout human history, on Israel's behalf: generation after generation, century after century, throughout all time because of that first promise made to Abraham.

With those eternal promises came the prophecies of Israel's Messiah. It was foretold that He would tread down the wicked, establish an earthly Kingdom bringing in universal peace, not only between peoples and nations but even among all the animals. This coming kingdom was promised by God to King David to be a Jewish Kingdom. In striking contrast to those exciting prophecies, the Messiah was also prophesied to be rejected by Israel and executed for the sins of the world. One prophecy does not replace the other. If God is a God who keeps His promises, then BOTH prophecies must come to pass.

Roughly 2000 years after God's promise to Abraham, the Messiah came to Israel and was rejected just as it was foretold. Before he was executed, Jesus prophesied that Israel would fall and the Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed. He also said that Jerusalem would be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. 40 years after Jesus made these statements, Jerusalem fell under Rome, the Temple was burned and dismantled literally brick by brick to retrieve all the gold.

Israel fell in 70 A.D. and the children of Israel had no homeland for the next 1878 years. So many God-given promises about Israel's Messiah were still unfulfilled. What about treading down the wicked? What about the earthly Jewish Kingdom that would endure forever? What about the universal peace that would extend even to the animals? When will Israel's Messiah return to fulfill all these unfulfilled promises? It's prophesied that a future generation in Israel will one day acknowledge their offense against their Messiah and request His return. When they do, God said "I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son."

Israel's Messiah is prophesied to return to the planet earth and fulfill all those promises at the request of a future Israel, to imprison Satan in chains and establish His Kingdom. That is why Satan has done everything he possibly can to wipe out the Jews to stop that prophetic generation from being born. If there are no Jews on earth to request Jesus' return, then Jesus can't fulfill all His promises. God also promised, that he would pour the spirit of grace upon, not just the house of David but upon THE INHABITANTS OF JERUSALEM! That is why Satan has done everything he possibly can to keep Jews out of Jerusalem so that God can't fulfill that promise. But in spite of almost 2000 years of wandering without a homeland, in spite of every Satanic attempt to wipe out the Jews (including the slaughter of almost 6 million Jews under the Nazi regime), Israel was reborn on May 14, 1948.

Three years after Hitler's defeat, the United Nations was formed in the hopes to prevent another dictator like Adolf Hitler from ever again rising to power. One of the first things the U.N. agreed to do was divide the middle-east into new borders giving every Arab and every Jew a place to call home and this began what has become known to this day as "The Middle East Conflict" which is summed up nicely in this short video by Dennis Prager.

Nazi Germany may have been defeated, but they were merely Satan's pawns. When those pawns were defeated, Satan found new pawns. But in spite of all Satan's efforts to wipe Israel off the map, they endure to this day and will continue to endure until the return of Jesus the Messiah. The more hatred Satan conjures up to fuel attacks against the land of Israel, the more God will use their own wickedness against them to fulfill His ultimate purpose.

But here's why this is important to you and me, as Bible believing Christians. The return of Israel in the 20th Century after 19 centuries of wandering, is an indication of what time it is on God's clock. The times of the Gentiles are just about up. The remnant of Jews who will acknowledge Jesus as Israel's Messiah and officially request his return, could very well be alive today. Satan hasn't had to live with the fear of that possibility for 19 centuries, but now as I write this post, he's had to live with that fear for the past 66 years. Since 1948, he's influenced attack after attack after attack against the little state of Israel and they're still there! The desperation of Satan's attempts to wipe Israel off the map is an indication to all of us, just how much little time Satan himself fears that he has left.

Israel's continual existence is a testament to God's faithfulness toward keeping His promises and fulfilling His covenant with Israel. The New Covenant never replaced the Old Covenant, it came along side the Old Covenant. Our God is not a God who breaks old promises only to make new ones. Our God keeps ALL OF HIS PROMISES, old and new.

The hatred that surrounds Israel is a testament to Satan's fear and desperation. As long as Israel exists, his days are numbered.

Israel should matter to the Christian not only because we believe in God's promises, but because Israel is also the focus of most Biblical prophecy. Biblically illiterate Christians tend to think of prophecy as something that's confined to the book of Revelation. But the Old Covenant is saturated with prophecy concerning Israel's near future.

Isaiah 46:9-10 "Remember the former things of old, for I am God and there is none else. I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times declaring the things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose and will do all my pleasure.'"

II Timothy 3:16 "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."

Therefore Bible Prophecy is for everyone, not just a scholar. It's for every man, woman and child to know what's about to happen. And many prophecies about the Middle East are 'stage-setting' to happen and find fulfillment in the very near future.

As we observe the current landscape in the Middle East and compare it with Bible Prophecy, it would seem that a prayer of Asaph recorded in Psalm 83 could turn out to be a prophetic Psalm. Many of the Psalms are prophetic in nature and some of them aren't recognized as prophetic until the time of their fulfillment. For example, when David felt forsaken by God and prayed his famous prayer recorded in Psalm 22, he unknowingly prayed a prophetic prayer. Almost a thousand years later, Jesus quoted the very first verse of that prayer as He was being crucified. "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?" After we read about Jesus's crucifixion and then go back to read Psalm 22, we discover that every verse of Psalm 22 could have been Jesus' silent prayer as he hung on the cross. "...they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all of my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture." The prophetic precision is incredible!

As we continue to observe the Middle East while reading our Bibles, it appears that the prayer of Asaph recorded in Psalm 83 will be another prayer with prophetic implications...

Psalm 83 "Don't keep your silence, O God. Hold not your peace, do not be still, O God. For behold your enemies make a tumult. They that hate you have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against your people and have consulted against your hidden ones. They have said, 'Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.' They have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against you: The Tents of Edom (Palestinians / Southern Jordanians), and the Ishmaelites (Saudis / Ishmael is the Arab Patriarch); of Moab (Palestinians / Central Jordanians), and the Hagarenes (Egyptians / Hagar is the Egyptian Matriarch); Gebal (Hezbollah / Northern Lebanese), and Ammon (Palestinians / Northern Jordanians), and Amalek (Arabs of the Sinai Area); the Philistines (Hamas of the Gaza Strip) with the inhabitants of Tyre (Hezbollah / Southern Lebanese); Assur (Syrians / Northern Iraqis) also is joined with them: they have helped the children of Lot (Ammon & Moab were the children of Lot, so this is referring to the Palestinians / Northern & Central Jordanians). Selah. Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth. Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yes, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna: who said, 'Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession.' O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind, as fire burns wood, and as the flame sets the mountains on fire; so persecute them with your tempest, and make them afraid with your storm. Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek your name, O Lord. Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yes, let them be put to shame, and perish: that men may know that you, whose name alone is Jehovah, are the most high over all the earth."

So according to the prophetic implications of Psalm 83, the Arab nations surrounding Israel's immediate borders will be consulted together with one consent: to be confederate against Israel saying, 'Let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel will be remembered no more.' According to Ezekiel 25:14 and Obadiah 1:18, God will answer the prayer of Psalm 83 by empowering the Israel Defense Forces to stop the Arab confederacy. The result of this Israeli victory will extend Israel's borders far beyond what they are today. Israel will become a greater and wealthier Israel. It's that greater and wealthier Israel that will be the target of another invasion prophesied in Ezekiel 38.

In Ezekiel 38, Israel is dwelling peacefully, securely and in safety. Can that be said of Israel today? No. They live in constant fear of rocket attacks from all sides. Every conference, every meeting, every summit is wrought with desperate and futile maneuvers in the hopes that something might be done to achieve peace.

The wealth of Israel in Ezekiel 38 tempts Russia and Iran into devising an evil plan, to come together with Turkey, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and Libya to plunder Israel and take her spoils. It's not so much the anger and hatred of an Arab confederacy that motivates the invasion of Ezekiel 38, but rather the desire for power and wealth. While Israel today certainly isn't poor, they are no where near the level of wealth, power and influence that would warrant the level of invasion that's described in Ezekiel 38. That would be like the United States, Canada, and Mexico coming together to take a little island the size of the state of New Jersey for spoil. That doesn't make any sense, unless the Israel in Ezekiel 38 is much larger and much wealthier than it is today.

The Ezekiel 38 prophecy also seems to leave out Israel's present day enemies on her immediate borders. Why? Could it be, that those particular enemies are first dealt with via Psalm 83?

So in combination with Psalm 83, we have many other Middle East prophecies to be fulfilled on our near horizon. According to Jeremiah 49:23-27 and Isaiah 17:1-9, God will ordain something massive to happen in Damascus, which will cause the city to become a ruinous heap and then Syria will be taken by Israel. According to Jeremiah 49:35-36, we could see a nuclear disaster of some kind take place in Iran, possibly their nuclear sites. These prophecies have been in our Bibles, in black and white for thousands of years. It has only been in recent events in the Middle East that the stage has been set for these prophecies to be fulfilled.


7 Letters To 7 Churches

After John penned and published the book of Revelation toward the end of the first century, the biggest mystery to early readers wasn't the 7 scenes in Heaven, the 7 seals, the 7 trumpets, the 7 signs, the 7 plagues or the 7 final visions. The biggest mystery to early readers was probably the easiest portion of the book to understand, which were 7 short little messages that Jesus sent to 7 churches: the church of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

In those 7 short little messages, Jesus gave those contemporary assemblies a Spiritual progress report and pep-talk. It was the easiest and least cryptic portion of the entire book of Revelation. But why those 7 churches? There were so many other churches around besides those 7, why didn't Jesus say anything to them? Why didn't Jesus send a message to the church in Jerusalem or the church in Rome? What's the real point behind Jesus sending those 7 little text-messages to those 7 churches?

Upon further investigation, the early readers of Revelation discovered that with those 7 short messages, Jesus had managed to address every individual Christian of every individual church of every church age from the 1st century to the time of the Great Tribulation. If any individual Christian will read those 7 messages, they will discover that one of those messages is specifically for them no matter what time of history they're reading. A Christian living in the 21st century, for example, can read those 7 messages and find that one of them is Jesus specifically speaking to them, addressing their problems, offering constructive criticism and encouragement. The same applies corporately for Christian assemblies. If any Church or Christian assembly will read those 7 messages, they will also discover that one of those messages is specifically written for their group.

The final application for these 7 messages is probably the most astounding. As the centuries progressed after John published the book of Revelation, it became apparent that the history of the church with all of it's highs and lows had been prophetically anticipated and revealed by the order in which Jesus gave those 7 messages.

The letter to Ephesus anticipated the age of apostolic planting (1st Century) which started off with a serious devotion to doctrinal purity due to the overwhelming presence of demonic doctrines that were constantly in competition with the 1st Century Church. Unfortunately, the demand for doctrinal purity became a legalistic obsession that overtook the Christian's original walk of love for the One Who bought them. This can happen to any Christian if they aren't careful. But it happened to the whole assembly in Ephesus and many other 1st century churches during this time in history.

The letter to Smyrna anticipated the age of persecution (1st - 3rd Century) in which Christians were hunted down and killed by the leading governments and religious factions of the world. Being persecuted is part of the job description of being a Christian. Christians have been persecuted in all manner of ways throughout the past 2000 years. No Christian at any point in history is immune to persecution. But it was during the first three centuries that it would seem that Satan went out of his way to wipe Christians off the face of the earth.

The letter to Pergamum anticipated the age of the Imperial church (4th - 6th Century) when world governments and religious factions stopped persecuting Christians and decided to work with them instead. Church and State became one and the same. The result was a massive growth of Christianity that became so large that individual assemblies had to resort to imposing hierarchies and dignitaries within each group, which had to report back to local government officials. Because world governments did not always agree with Biblical doctrine, Christianity began to compromise with governments by allowing the doctrine of other religions into their practices and teachings to keep the peace.

The letter to Thyatira anticipated the age of the Papacy (6th Century - Present Day) which began when the massive, powerful, world empire of Rome became one with the Imperial Church. Christian devotion, Christian teaching, Christian education, Christian charities and Christian outreach programs exploded all over the world. To this day, no church group can outmatch the level of giving, love, charity and outreach efforts of the Roman Catholic Church. Unfortunately, since the Roman Empire was the pagan capital of the world, almost all of it's idolatry and paganism had been re-packaged as Christian practices under the Catholic Church to keep the followers of all religions satisfied. Rituals and formalities that once honored Zeus, Apollo, Athena & Venus became rituals and formalities to honor Jesus Christ. Demonic rituals became Christian rituals. The Holy Scriptures, which had been the ultimate authority of Christian doctrine, was usurped and replaced by the authority of the Pope and the Priestly order of the Roman Catholic Church.

In recent centuries, all manner of outrageous occultic spiritualism and idolatry has been embraced by the Roman Catholic Church under various Christian aliases. In the 21st Century, many Christian groups (both Catholic & Protestant) began to embrace "a larger view of Christianity" which marries itself into Islam, Hinduism, the New Age and every religion on the planet. This hybrid spirituality is accepted, promoted and will be lead by the Roman Catholic Church. Islam's Queen of Heaven and the Catholic's interpretation of the Virgin Mary are one and the same. This is also where the "co-exist" movement is going, for those of you who may have seen these bumper stickers on people's cars.

Not all Catholics hold to these occultic and idolatrous strongholds of Roman Catholicism, which is why Jesus made a point to clarify in his letter who and what the targets are of his commendations and his threats. To those who do not hold to these demonic doctrines, Jesus has nothing but good things to say. To those who DO hold these demonic doctrines, Jesus made the most violent threat found in any of the 7 letters. He promised that He would personally kill the idolatrous promoters and their followers during the time of the Great Tribulation.

In other words, faithful Christians within the Roman Catholic Church will be raptured outta here before the Great Tribulation. Those left behind in the Roman Catholic Church after the rapture (who aren't true Christians) will be joined by the false Christians who were left behind within protestant and non-denominational groups. Together, they will broaden their idolatry by aligning themselves with the Antichrist and endorse the Beast of Revelation. This super-satanic religion under the banner of Christianity is prophetically called, "The Woman Who Rides The Beast" in Revelation 17.

The letter to Sardis anticipated the age of the Protestant Reformation (16th Century - Present Day) in which individual Christians rediscovered their roots in Biblical authority. The Bible was translated into English and many other languages for the first time under great protest and persecution from the Roman Catholic Church. The re-awakening of Biblical Christianity started a movement within Europe that migrated over into the United States, a land free from Catholic persecution. In the United States, a Christian could rely on the Bible to define their faith instead of the Roman Catholic Church.

As Christian groups studied the Scripture, they each segregated into different denominational groupings that complimented their interpretations. All denominations agreed to the vitals of the Christian faith while agreeing to disagree over everything else. While this age of church history was rich and vibrant in it's founding, reestablishing the Word of God as it's ultimate authority, it wasn't long before most of it's churches became dead in their formalities. Today, most denominational churches are merely churning through the motions, Sunday after Sunday after Sunday after Sunday after Sunday.

Before Jesus had anything nice to say to Sardis, he accused them of being spiritually dead and admonishes them to wake up before what little there is left among them dies also. He also warns them that if they don't wake up from their spiritual coma, they will be caught off guard by HIS RETURN when He comes! I've noticed this among most of today's denominational churches. They have no idea where we are in prophetic history because they choose not to teach Bible prophecy. Much like the Pharisees of Jesus' day, they can't interpret the signs of the times; neither are they interested.

Then after painting a broad brush, Jesus clarifies that there are a few exceptions among the members of denominational churches that are still awake and haven't soiled themselves in their coma. It is from out of the snoring of the sleeping church that two Christian groups escape and make up the following two church ages: Philadelphia and Laodicea.

The letter to Philadelphia anticipated the age of individual missionaries and Bible-based assemblies of small numbers (18th Century - Present Day) outside the traditional confines of either Catholic or Protestant Denominationalism. Personally, I would call this the "Reformation 2.0" with the same motives and objectives of the first reformation, only this time getting it right and going all the way; getting the focus away from church buildings and religious ritualism and returning the Christian assembly back to it's roots: Home-Prayer, Home-Bible-Study, living out the Christian life daily and faithfully in the power of the Holy Spirit, gaining support and giving support to other Christians along the way who are engaging in the same walk, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

No focus is made on church buildings or on which days to worship because the small Philadelphian assembly can meet in people's living rooms as often as they wish. Since the Christian walk is a constant way of life for Philadelphians and not just a religious ritual that's performed once a week, they may desire to meet as often as 7 nights a week. No one has to force a Philadelphian Christian to assemble with other Philadelphian Christians. There are no rules or regulations about where to meet or how often. They aren't necessary.

Philadelphian Christians might visit or attend a local church, but their attendance is merely an additive or a supplement to their walk, not the walk itself. Their loyalties are to Christ and His Word and to their fellow brothers and sisters in the Family of God, not to any local church group or pastor.

Jesus had nothing but good things to say to the Philadelphian assembly and encouraged them with a promise that they would be raptured outta here before the Great Tribulation. I've noticed this among most of today's Philadelphian Christians. They have a healthy anticipation for the imminent rapture. They have a healthy and progressive grasp on where we are in prophetic history because they choose to learn all of the Bible, including Bible prophecy which makes up more than a third of the entire Bible.

The letter to Laodicea anticipated the age of lukewarm Christianity (20th Century - Present Day) which Jesus found disgusting enough to induce vomiting. Much like the Philadelphian Christians, the Laodicean Christians felt an urgent and desperate need to wake up and escape the sleeping church of Sardis. But unlike Philadelphia who accomplished this by returning to the Bible, Laodicea simply took Sardis and made it contemporary.

Choirs were abolished. The same old hymns of the past 400 years were replaced with contemporary pop/Christian music. Organs and pianos were replaced with guitars and drums. Church hymnals were replaced with overhead projectors. Suits and ties were replaced with blue-jeans and t-shirts. And last but not least, the slow-moving, white-headed preacher was replaced with a young, outgoing and charismatic fellow who could double for a stand-up comedian.

While there isn't anything wrong with newer music, guitars and drums, overhead projectors, casual attire and upbeat speakers, the Laodicean reasoning behind it is what's sickening. It's as if the dead church of Sardis were a man going through his mid-life crisis grasping for relevancy in a modern culture. Instead of turning to the timeless wisdom of Scripture for relevancy, they turn to the culture.

Ladies, you know how you feel when you see a man over 50 wearing the latest teen fashions, driving a brand-new red convertible with a young 20-something leaning on his shoulder as they zoom down the main drag listening to Meghan Trainor and Selena Gomez? That's how Jesus feels when he looks at a Laodicean church.

What's worse, is that in order to remain relevant with the latest cultural trends, the Laodicean church is willing to water down, skip-over, delete and/or compromise immovable doctrines of Scripture, without even admitting it. At least Thyatira has the guts enough to be blasphemous and openly stand behind demonic doctrine while denying Biblical authority. Laodicea deceptively stands behind demonic doctrine while claiming they believe the Bible from cover to cover!

"There is only one God and I believe all the world prays to the same God."

"Abortion is a sin because it's murder, but I believe in a woman's right to choose."

"Gay marriage is a sin because marriage is between a man and a woman, but I'm glad the Supreme Court overturned state bans on gay marriage."

"Christians should never judge anyone for anything, unless we're judging other Christians who have a problem with abortion or gay marriage."

"Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me' and that's why I'm saved because I believe in Jesus. But I believe everyone is God's child, I don't believe in a literal Hell and I believe everyone has their own Jesus so who are we to judge?"

Sardis VS. Philadelphia VS. Laodicea
I think it's interesting how easily one can define to whom which of the last three church letters applies just by observing open reactions to various topics:

At first, willing to die for the preservation of this doctrine. Today, desensitized to this awesome gift and presumptuous about their own sin.

Ephesians 2:8-9 balanced with James 2:17 in which faith alone permanently saves, but faith that permanently saves is never alone without works.

Because the cross forgives everyone of everything... "No one can judge us, the Grace of God is a license to sin, leave me alone, I can do whatever I want."

At first, willing to die for the preservation of this doctrine. Today, desensitized to this awesome gift and no one will read the Bible. The only passion you'll get from Sardis about the Word of God is when someone dares to challenge the divine authority of the "King James Only" crowd.

Loves the Word of God and will read any part of it at any time at any place in any English translation they can get their hands on. They're devoted only to a few modern English translations for study and clarification. The original Hebrew, Greek & Aramaic is constantly in view. To them, the Bible is like water. You can't ever get enough of it. Talking about it and sharing things with others about it is a passion that never burns out.

Officially, they claim to believe 100% of the Bible. But when any Biblical doctrine is brought up, or a position of sin is addressed, they will say that only parts of the Bible are true because the Bible was written by man, our copy is a copy of a copy of a copy full of mistakes, you can't interpret everything because of it's cultural and mistaken context. It's no better or worse than the writings of any other religion. Unlike the mentality of the "KJV Only Crowd", they go too far in the opposite direction, blindly accepting any and all modern English translations. In recent years, there have cropped up many new English translations and paraphrases that are so butchered and watered down from what was originally written, that it's no wonder the Laodiceans believe as they do about the Word of God.

"Come to church and be quite!!"

"Let's get together someplace where we can pray together, talk about the Word and what the Lord's been up to in our lives."

"Come to church and make noise!!"

They have no idea where we are in prophetic history because they choose not to teach Bible prophecy. They can't interpret the signs of the times; neither are they interested because it would require being awake and alert.

Almost all of these Christians can quote 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 by heart. The emotional characteristics of the Philadelphia Christian concerning Bible Prophecy & The Rapture is in verse 18: "we comfort and encourage each other with these words" of Bible prophecy and our coming King. While it's interpreted as doom and gloom for the Laodicean, it's the blessed hope and exciting adventure for the Philadelphian.

These open-minded, non-judgmental Christians are the most hostile and closed-minded when it comes to discussing Bible prophecy or the Rapture of the Church. They react with fear, anger and arrogant ignorance. It's the most uncomfortable topic you can bring up to a Laodicean Christian, the fact that Jesus promised to return and even gave us signs and evidences to be watchful for to determine how close we are. What's more uncomfortable is when those signs and evidences are all over the front page news and they still don't want to talk about it.

Sardis & Laodicean Offshoots:
There are exiles from Sardis and Laodicea who have been aroused by the signs of the times and are now embracing their fears by preparing for the arrival of the Antichrist. Because Sardis & Laodicea had previously placed little importance on knowing the whole counsel of Scripture, their fear has led them to believe we're destined to go through the Great Tribulation. Instead of watching for the return of Christ to pick up His Bride, they're preparing for Christ to beat-up and abuse His Bride during the wrath to come. Their fear keeps them blinded to the Biblical truth that will relieve their fears and they will slander any Christian who believes in a Pre-Tribulational Rapture.

"God is in control so let me sleep."

"God is in control so let me live for Christ. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain."

"God is not in control, I'm in control. Sometimes, God helps. God is good!."

When the Supreme Court overturned state's bans on gay marriage, legalizing it all 50 states, I noticed three main reactions from the Christian community that are parallel to the last three church ages prophetically described in Jesus' messages to 7 churches.

The official reaction from Sardis:
"zzzz... zzzz... zzzz... zzzz... zzzz... zzzz..."

The official reaction from Philadelphia:
"This is a sad day for America. Unless the church unites against this, then we are salt that has lost it's flavor and our light has truly gone out. Remember II Chronicles 7:14. Otherwise, this nation should prepare for God's judgment. Hosea 4:6 & Jeremiah 7:16."

The official reaction from Laodicea was everything from
"Love Wins!!! Yay!!!" to "I apologize to the gay community for Christian hate and bigotry because our judgment of you is destroying any potential relationship. Who are we to judge? We're all sinners! God even told us not to eat shrimp in Leviticus!"

What are Jesus' own words to the 21st Century Christians of the United States of America?

To The Sleeping Christian of Sardis: Wake Up!!!
"I know your works, that you have a name and reputation for being alive, but in reality you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain that are about to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard from the beginning; hold fast and repent. If you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." (JPA Paraphrase)

To The Weak and Insignificant Christian of Philadelphia: Hang In There!!!
"I know your works and what you are doing. I have set before you an open door which no one is able to shut. I know that you are weak and have very little power, and yet you have kept My Word, guarded My message and have not denied My name. Take note! I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they follow Me but lie, I will make them come and bow down to Me before your feet and so learn and acknowledge that I have loved you. Because you have guarded and kept My word of patient endurance and have held fast the lesson of My patience with the expectant endurance that I give you, I also will keep you from the hour of trial and testing which is coming upon the whole world to try those who dwell upon the earth. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one may rob you and deprive you of your crown." (JPA Paraphrase)

To The Lukewarm Christian of Laodicea: Repent!!!
"I know your works, that you are neither cold or hot. I wish you were one or the other. But because you are lukewarm and neither cold or hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, I've become wealthy and have need of nothing’ while not knowing that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed. Anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." (JPA Paraphrase)

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