Don Richardson’s Paradigm – God Embedded in the World’s Cultures

by Mike Oppenheimer
Let Us Reason Ministries
July 24, 2014

Is the ancient world filled with worship of the true god?

Did God plant the seeds of Himself in all the cultures for them to know Him? Is His knowledge found in culture after culture throughout the various tribes in Africa, Asia and China as Don Richardson claims? Continue reading

They Will Believe the Lie

by Sandy Simpson
Jan 16, 2014

I am doing a Bible study right now on what I would call “renewing our minds”.  It is based on this verse:

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The only way to renew our minds is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, confess our sins, and be saved … then to study the written Word and allow the indwelling Holy Spirit to teach us.  Our minds are corrupted by virtue of the sin nature and what we have learned in life because our filters are off. I gave an illustration of straining coconut to make coconut milk.  If you use a 1 inch screen everything will pass through.  Even if you use a quarter inch screen you will get mostly coconut meat in your milk.  You have to use a fine screen in order to separate the milk from the leftover.  Our filters are off and the first thing God begins to do is correct our worldview, because if your worldview is off you will not understand God’s reality.  We need to learn to see things from His perspective.  This is why I started this study by going back to an original problem.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that servethe lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

This has always been an interesting passage to me for a few different reasons.  What is “the lie” that is talked about here in verse 9?  What are the ways that “wickedness deceives those who are perishing” and how long has this been going on or does this only begin to happen at the coming of the lawless one?  In what way does “the lie” cause those who do not believe the truth to “delight in wickedness”?

To briefly answer those questions, the lie is the lie of Genesis 3:5 which we will look at in a moment.  If this verse were only specifically about the lie the antichrist tells about claiming to be “God” then it would have likely read “they will believe his lie”.  Notice that the passage says “wickedness deceives those who are perishing” and not “those who will perish” under the rule of the antichrist.  So apparently this “lie” has been affecting mankind for a long time because the phrase “are perishing” is present tense when this was written by Paul being guided by the Holy Spirit.  The fact that the “lie” causes men to “delight in wickedness” also seems to indicate that this is not simply talking about the time of the antichrist but all those who believe the lie and do not believe the truth.

There have been many varying explanations for this passage in 2 Thes. by some of the best commentators of the past, though no real specific agreement is reached by them.  John Gill focuses on this being brought to fruition in the Pope, the so-called “Vicar of Christ” who has historically summed up what the Antichrist will be revealed in claiming that he is Christ.  Some state more generally that those who reject the truth are rejecting who Christ is.  JB Philips says that the lie is that Antichrist claims to be God.  Matthew Henry says it is a rejection of the Gospel of grace with parallels to the passage on blasphemy (Matthew 12:31) where Henry claims that rejection of Grace is what constitutes blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  Matthew Poole names a number of lies such as lying wonders, false doctrines, false prophecies, idols etc. as constituting “the lie”.

These are all good explanations and certainly play a part in our search for “the lie”.  But I have come to the conclusion that “the lie” is a root cause, not a symptom as I see in most explanations.  So where can we find out what this “lie” is?  I believe we have to go back to the beginning to find it.

Genesis 3:5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

In the Genesis account we know that the serpent lied to Eve and then she and Adam decided to disobey God.  But the enticement was not so much the sight of the fruit (lust of the eyes), or the taste of the fruit (lust of the flesh), but was the false notion that they could be “like God” (pride of life) and that the knowledge of good (they already knew that) and evil was a thing to make them be like God.  The pride of life temptation of Satan has always been the strongest appeal to the free will of man.  The devil tempted Jesus with these three sins that, since Adam and Eve, plague the sinful human condition.  I will list them out of order to make my point (Matt. 4:1-11).

The Lust of the Flesh

Matt. 4:1-4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ (Deut 8:3)

The Lust of the Eyes

Matt 4:8-11 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ (Deut 6:13)

The Pride of Life

Matt. 4:5-7 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:11,12) Jesus answered him“It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ (Deut 6:16)

Now even though Jesus could have done any of these things and ordered Satan directly to hell or out of existence, He answered the enemy as an example to us from the written Word each time.  Notice after the first temptation where the devil appealed to the lust of the flesh, since Jesus was very hungry, and having been answered with Scripture, Satan changes his tactic and misuses Scripture as his second temptation addressing the pride of life.  After he is again rebuffed by the written, eternal, Word of God, he goes back to attempting to tempt Jesus on the basis of what he has been allowed to have, that is, temporary dominion over the kingdoms of the world.

But this set of temptations was used to seduce Adam and Eve first and, in that case, in disobeying God, it resulted in sin being brought into the world.  Though these three temptations were all part of why Adam and Eve fell, the “pride of life” temptation was the one, I believe, which sent them over the top.  They could be “like God”!

When you look at what I like to call “the BIG lie”, that man can be like God, you can quickly see this is a driving force behind virtually all the deception and lies today.  Societies and churches are full of the BIG lie.  Many people today have fully bought into the BIG lie and I believe that God is allowing this to happen to those who will not believe in the Gospel and remain faithful to Jesus Christ.  Furthermore, the longer they disobey God in this, the closer they get to God “giving them over” to this lie which always means that there is no salvation left for that person. I have never seen the BIG lie invade so much of the consciousness of people as I have today, and I am old enough to remember a time when this was not so.

You can basically start with postmodernism as a basis for everything that this lie touches.  The “new idea” of postmodernism, which is really a very old one, is what drives most of society today.  This lie goes back to the times of the judges and before where the Bible says that “every man did what which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).  But today it has morphed into a straight ahead belief that man is evolving toward godhood and, in fact, people have now become gods unto themselves.  This is evidenced in society’s lack of the fear of God in placing its own judgments above that of God in his written Word.

When you look at the homosexual debate you can see quite clearly that people think that they know better than God.  When it comes to a difference between the written word of God and the opinions and consensus of these new liberal egotists in our culture, we can see clearly who wins and who loses in the hearts of men.  This goes over into other issues such as sexual immorality, environmentalism, planetary sustainability, global warming, and the demented idea by most liberals that humans can create a Utopia on earth.  Judges rule not on the basis of the written Word, as they used to, but on the basis of their own ideas.  Legislators pass laws from their own sensibilities and ideologies instead of hearkening to the will of the people.  Leaders of many nations enact laws for their own benefit and to enrich themselves instead of being humble servants in the positions that God has put them.  Schools teach children to have high self esteem and change the history books to glorify people from the past who are not true heroes but who fit into their warped sense of political correctness.

They teach sex education to very young children to the consternation and alarm of some parents.  One example of that here in Hawaii is that the “Pono Choices” sex education curriculum is said to give three legitimate human relationship alternatives: homosexual, lesbian, and heterosexual.  As one recent report stated, teachers in the Hawaii public schools are to give these three alternatives but to state that the least desirable alternative is heterosexual marriage.  The reason normal marriage is to be stated as the least desirable is that they are to tell the children that when a man and woman are in a marriage relationship there is a higher likelihood of physical abuse.  When a parent asked a public school teacher why they couldn’t give positive examples of heterosexual marriages, he replied that he was not allowed to do that but had to follow the curriculum, and if he did not he might lose his job.

Rights and freedoms are being systematically taken away by governments and by leaders who believe that they are the anointed ones; the ones who are somehow (in their own minds) further along on the evolutionary scale toward godhead, and thereby can and should make decisions for those who are not as evolved.  Television shows glorify all kinds of immoral behavior based on an erroneous understanding of freedom, claiming that personal decisions are neutral and don’t really hurt anyone else.  Postmodernism, subjectivism and relativism have the motto that truth can be different from person to person and each person needs to be careful not to judge others based on his or her truth.  The notion that we can create our own reality has been picked up by the media and popularized by celebrity talk show hosts such as Oprah Winfrey.  This all comes from the New Thought/New Age school of Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuler as well as from the parallel Word of Faith root of Essex Kenyan and Kenneth Hagen.  In our time those who have brought the Word of Faith message of positive thinking and positive confession forward to our time are people such as Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, and any of hundreds and hundreds of TV televangelists.  This deluded idea was first invented by the devil himself while he was still in heaven; that is, denying true reality in favor of one’s own manufactured reality. This has become the norm, not only in society, but also in many, many churches.  While in the past the idea that a person could create their own reality by speaking positive thoughts was laughable; today it has become part and parcel of the society we live in. Now when televangelists promise their followers that all they need to do is send some money to them and their positive action will result in great piles of cash coming back to the giver, the dopes actually believe it.  This is because postmodernism, mixed with eastern mysticism, has brainwashed most people.  But it all actually goes back to the BIG lie.

More and more people, though they may not recognize it in themselves, are buying into the perception that they truly are “little gods”.  Benny Hinn claimed numerous times on TBN and that he was “a little god, a little messiah walking around”.  He urged his followers at his crusades to chant “I Am, I Am”.  Joel Osteen regularly and insistently preaches that positive thoughts and confessions bring positive results in people’s lives, whereas negative thoughts and confessions will bring about negative consequences.  Many people who have bought into the Word of Faith, New Apostolic, Emergent Church and other movements that teach this stuff have had their lives ruined by these ideas.  I have many emails to prove that.

I am a firm believer in what the Bible says about the fact that there is a time and place for everything.

Ecc. 3:1-8 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to builda time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Notice that there is a time and place for everything … a time to laugh, a time to mourn, a time to embrace, a time to refrain from embracing, etc.  We are not created in order to only have positive thoughts.  We’re certainly not created with the ability to create something out of nothing (ex nihilo) as only God is (Col. 1:16, Heb. 11:3)  Anyone who knows the truth about who God is understands that it is God who creates reality from nothing, not man, therefore man cannot possibly be God.  Though God has given mankind a spirit as a reflection of Himself Who is Spirit and free will, we do not have His powers, such as the power of omnipotence and omniscience.  Those who no longer have the fear of God, or perhaps never did, will find themselves facing God someday and having to answer for the assumption that they know better than God.  The egotism of many people is astounding to me these days!  How can they possibly think that their little minds and values match those of God?

What amazes me even more is that Christians, who ought to know better, actually think that they can create things they want in their lives through their thoughts and actions.  This is a direct denial of the Gospel message where we learn the reality that we are all sinners and we cannot match up to the Glory of God.  But apparently many people have forgotten this and they actually do think that they’re already physically glorified now.  Of course those who are truly born again are guaranteed glorification as the hope of the coming glory we will have with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:30).  But just because Jesus ransomed us from the clutches of sin, the devil, and death and justified us, is sanctifying us, and will glorify us does not make us little gods now.  On the contrary, it illustrates to us that the BIG lie of the devil has never been the truth nor will it ever be.

For reference on the BIG lie of Satan you might want to read my article or watch the DVD called “Satan was the first postmodernist“.  Satan actually thought that he needed to be worshipped as God was worshiped; willingly forgetting that he was a created being and not the Creator.  The Bible says that men have also deliberately forgotten God.

2 Peter 3:5 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.

Amazingly, Lucifer did this while he was still in the third heaven in the presence of God!  So I guess it’s not beyond the bounds of imagination to understand that men and women can, in the presence of God’s intricate created world which is ample evidence of Him, believe the BIG lie that they are gods.

Moriel Israel Special Report July 13, 2014

by Elon and Hadas Moreh
July 13, 2014

Last night we had our first Air-raid warning siren here in Nahariya as two rockets fell outside of town. This afternoon as I was finishing this bulletin there was another one. At the moment these alerts are of short duration, perhaps a minute or two. By the time we have entered into the security room, closed the armoured window plates and shut the steel door all is over. On the whole the North is relatively safe from Gaza rocket attacks at present. This is not because of any convivial sentiments by Hamas towards Israel’s northern residents. Rather it arises from relatively lower numbers of longer-range rockets in the Hamas arsenal, and their preference for using Tel-Aviv for target practice. The missile technology that Hamas fires at Israeli cities is mostly of the “fire and hope for the worst” unguided type, designed for aiming at large area targets, not for individual buildings or satisfying personal grudges, which require something more sophisticated. This is not to say these things are not deadly,-they are. Fire enough of them at a populated area and eventually you will kill someone;–particularly if the area is close by and there is insufficient time for the target population to take shelter. People have been killed in Nahariya in the past and just last night a teenager in Ashkelon was seriously injured by a rocket blast. Hamas’ spectacular lack of success is (humanly speaking) at least partly due to the excellent Iron Dome anti-missile system as much as to the unguided nature of their rockets;–it is certainly not due to any lack of effort on their part. Many of these (particularly the smaller) weapons are home-made (produced in workshops which Israel supplies with electricity free of charge, see below) and launched from Heath-Robinson firing platforms, hidden in schools, nurseries, hospitals and mosques or private houses, protected by human-shields and transported to site even in ambulances and even launched from bread-carts. This makes them quite difficult to eradicate. Even after this operation our national leadership know that we are only buying some months or a year or two at best of peace before we have to “take out the trash” all over again. Continue reading

Logic: A Gift From God Not To Be Thrown Out The Window

by Scott Noble 
Moriel Thailand 
July 7, 2014

Famous hymn writer Isaac Watts also wrote a book about Logic.  In this book he said, “The power of reasoning was given us by our Maker, for this very end, to pursue truth; and we abuse one of his richest gifts, if we basely yield up to be led astray by any of the meaner powers of nature, or the perishing interests of this life.  Reason itself, if honestly obeyed, will lead us to receive the divine revelation of the gospel, where it is duly proposed, and this will show us the path to life everlasting.”  (Watts, 325) Continue reading

A Biblical Examination of “Heaven is for Real”

by Jamie Smith
May 2014

Introduction

Heaven Is For Real – A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back is a sales phenomena; a 2010 New York Times bestselling Christian book, which according to the publisher’s own website (Thomas Nelson Publishing) has sold over 6 million copies worldwide; a recent article in the Daily Mail (8/5/2014) put sales of the book at 10 million. In fact, sales of the book have been so successful that it has recently been given the full “Hollywood treatment” by TriStar Pictures (owned by Sony) and made into a big-budget motion picture starring Greg Kinnear (star of movies such as You’ve Got Mail with Meg Ryan, As Good as it Gets with Jack Nicholson and Green Zone with Matt Damon).  Continue reading

N T Wright and Israel

June 15, 2014
by James Jacob Prasch

I recently listened to Nigel Wrights Address on Israel in Pauline Theology delivered to Houston Baptist University. Unfortunately but predictably, Some of his assertions were eisegetical and presuppositionally predicated on the standard Reformed replacementist narrative even though his eloquence allowed him to construct his case as if it weren’t. Continue reading

Prayer Request for Viet Nam Church

Moriel requests prayer for believers attacked in Vietnam. Our friends in Vietnam have informed us of a brutal attack on a Vietnamese Mennonite church last Monday June 9th. The police were involved in the attack against believers, including children, who were gathered for a summer bible camp. See the following report.

Please pray that the believers who were attacked may recover physically, emotionally and grow stronger spiritually through this persecution.

Continue reading

Revelation TV & Same Sex Marriage

by James Jacob Prasch
June 9, 2014

It has been brought to our attention at Moriel by various persons that it was announced on Revelation TV by Howard Condor that I, Jacob Prasch, am alleged to have stated Revelation TV is supportive of ‘same sex marriage’. Continue reading

Question on Drinking and Consuming Alcohol

Question:

I would be interested to hear your views on Christians drinking and consuming alcohol.

There are various views saying that when the bible talks about wine, it is referring to grape juice and not alcoholic wine. There are also commentators who reference the wedding at Cana, saying Jesus wouldn’t turn water into alcoholic wine so that people could become drunk, ie causing them to sin.

Would love to hear your views, or happy for you to point me to a previous article you may have written on the subject.

God Bless.
Emilio

Answer:

Drunkenness is a sin. The use of alcohol as a non-medicinal intoxicating drug instead of as a beverage with meals is wrong and saved Christians should not engage in it.

We do note however that in The New Testament Paul taught the medicinal value of wine for infirmities, the notion that Jesus in scripture is speaking of grape juice however is ignorant nonsense. While it is the same word in Greek (oinos), in the Hebrew text wine (yiyn) and juice (mitz) are two different terms.

The parable of new wine in old wine skins bursting proves there was a fermentation reaction yielding a CO2 bi-product otherwise the skins would not have over expanded burst. To say it was grape juice is a ridiculous assertion that is a chemical impossibility.

There is a mishnaic source however that informs us that the wine popularly drunk was diluted in Jesus’ day (probably 2/3 water) and was essentially wine used to purify and flavor water.

Hyper fermented wine (akin to what we call brandy or cognac) was likely the “strong drink” referred to in Proverbs. We should not be ‘given’ to it. But what ‘given to it’ exactly means is open to some interpretation.

Whiskey did not exist in biblical times as distillation was not invented until the 8th century, ironically by the Arabs.

Obviously drunkards were disqualified from church leadership by the apostolic criteria in Paul’s Epistle to Timothy.

Moriel’s policy is to leave it to the discretion of the individual believer on the basis of Christian conscience with two provisos:

  1. If a Christian had an addictive drinking problem before getting saved they should refrain from its consumption. 
  2. Never consume alcohol in the presence of a brother or a sister in faith who had an alcoholism problem before becoming a believer so as not to place a stumbling block and guard one’s testimony where alcohol could affect one’s testimony adversely.

How this plays out practically can vary culturally and sociologically. In England a pub lunch is no problem because a pub is as much an eating establishment with one kind of atmosphere as it is a drinking establishment. In Celtic cultures however, one must be very careful. A pub usually carries a very different connotation.

It is not a mere restaurant that serves alcohol with food but can be seen as a social club based on over imbibing. As with Celts and Russians, alcohol can also be problematic among Romani Gypsies. Among French, Spaniards, and Italians and Portuguese – alcohol is not that kind of a spiritual and cultural cancer.

The environment we are in becomes a determining factor as to acceptability.

Personally, if I am in a church that takes The Lord’s Supper with juice I am happy to take the juice, and if I am in a church taking it with wine, I am happy to take the sip of wine.

Alcohol abuse is statistically rare among Jews and my own family being Jewish believers, we do the Passover with the four small cups/ sips of wine as Jesus did. I do not particularly care about the extra biblical religious objections of certain sectors of Gentile Christianity who confuse culture and church tradition with scriptural theology. We follow the original version. We also take a sip of wine when we do Kiddush Shabbat. Again however, it is a ritual use and we are only talking about small sips.

Not all of the Gentile church however agrees to dogmatic absolute alcohol abstinence. I have had fellowship with wonderful Italian and French and other continental European believers, including many pastors, who drink wine with their meals and none of them are drunkards.

Culture and tradition are one thing, biblical doctrine is another. I even know Italian holiness Pentecostal pastors who make wine and these are otherwise very strict conservatives almost to the point of nomianism in everything from women not wearing make–up to or jewelry to not engaging in commerce or watching sports on Sunday. Yet they make wine and drink it with nearly every meal and find the notion that it is a sin to be ridiculous.

Those who propose the bogus argument that Jesus drank grape juice and alcohol is always a sin are either doctrinally ignorant or what Paul calls “weak in faith”, but I avoid offending them as Paul says it is not worth the argument.

As a matter of taste, I anyway prefer to drink alcohol free beer. However, If I catch flu and risk laryngitis when I have to preach, I gargle with a combination hot lemon juice, whiskey, and crushed aspirin. This medicinal alcohol use helps alleviate the symptoms.

A small glass of red wine is often recommended by cardiologists to reduce cholesterol to lessen reliance on Statin drugs which can have side affects. I know committed Christians who are medically instructed to do this. There can be certain valid medical uses to alcohol in small amounts.

Finally, where does one draw the line in this regard? I know a believer in Australia who signed a pledge in a holiness Pentecostal church as a child never to touch alcohol and she never has, not even medicinally – or so she thought. She was dumb-founded when I showed her that the antitussive cough formula she and her family were taking was 70 percent alcohol and had a higher alcohol content than straight whiskey ! I also once had this Christian friend in New York named Gary; a really nice guy, who was from The Church of The Nazarene who avoid alcohol and he was a semi-professional chef and in fact a very good one who probably could have earned a living at it if he tired of being an actuarial accountant.. Whenever a recipe called for cooking sherry or wine as an ingredient he would just leave it out, oblivious to the fact that alcohol vaporizes and dissipates at 76 degrees Celsius anyway, so you don’t consume it even if you flavor with it. None the less, without thinking about it he had no problem adding vanilla or almond extract to a dish he was preparing not even noticing the natural aromas were in a high concentration alcohol base that could be 60 – 80 percent alcohol. Obsessive Tea Totaling can easily gravitate into a religious irrational legalism.

The Moriel policy are the two principles listed above. The rest is a private matter between the believer and The Lord.

This is about all we can say on this issue and we cannot comment further,

In Jesus,

JJP/ Moriel