PUT DOWN THE PROTEST SIGN AND FOLLOW JESUS!
As born-again believers, we are to follow Jesus in everything we do.
This is non-negotiable.
It also means we don’t fight against worldly authorities. Paul says that these authorities are ordained by God, so if we fight against them, we are ultimately fighting against God.
That is not a wise thing to do, especially as born-again believers.
Jesus never fought against worldly authorities. His conflicts were only and exclusively with those who claimed to know God and to be doing God’s will, but were falsely representing both God and his will. These were the religious authorities of the time and also occasionally his own followers. Most of the former rejected his corrections and plotted to kill him, while most of the latter accepted his instruction and learned from it.
Clearly, we are to accept Jesus’ corrective instruction and learn from it.
I mention this issue because many Christian organizations today are taking up worldly arms to fight worldly authorities. If nothing else, this shows them to be the worldly organizations that they are, more concerned with their perceived rights in the world than in their responsibilities to God’s Kingdom. Protests are not gospel teaching and should never be part of a born-again believer’s life. Neither should we sign petitions or in any way try to interfere with the administration of worldly justice. Let the world be. Jesus did. He said that his kingdom is not of this world, and his sole focus and concern was his kingdom.
We are to be in the world, not of the world.
However, if God sends the hungry to you and tells you to feed them, feed them.
If God sends the naked to you and tells you to clothe them, clothe them.
If God sends the homeless to you and tells you to house them, house them.
If God sends the sick to you and tells you to heal them, heal them.
But don’t go looking for people to feed and clothe and house and heal. That is not your job. Deal with the needs of the kingdom, providing help only to those God specifically puts in your path and asks you to help. He won’t bless your shoot-wide, one-size-fits-all “charitable” efforts.
One of the worst features of worldly Christianity is do-gooders forcing their help on people who don’t want their help, including spiritual help. More damage has been done to the gospel message by Christian do-gooders than by the whole host of Hell’s demons combined. Worldly Christians truly are their own worst enemies.
They’re also ours.
Even so, if a worldly authority commands you to do something against the gospel teachings, you don’t have to comply. But you also shouldn’t organize a protest or splash your grievance across social media with a gofundme page. You just don’t comply. You find a work-around. Your non-compliance should be a secret between you and God, not a grandstanding position between you and the world.
God will always find a way out for you. Exemptions will be made. A door may close, but a window will open.
What the devil intends for your harm, God will turn around for your benefit, if you go to God for justice, not to the world.
When the decree went out from Herod to kill all children aged 2 and under in Bethlehem and surrounding regions, God had Joseph take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt.
God will always find a way out for you.
When Jesus was under threat of death in certain areas where he was preaching, God had him move to other areas where he could safely continue his ministry work.
God will always find a way out for you.
When the early church was under severe persecution, God had his believers flee to safe havens or go underground.
God will always find a way out for you.
But don’t protest. Don’t sign petitions. Don’t march in the streets. Don’t go onto social media to air your grievance. And don’t hire a lawyer. Take whatever is oppressing you to God, and GOD WILL FIND A WAY OUT FOR YOU.
It’s his promise to his people, and especially to his born-again children.
Let the world be, and follow Jesus in everything you do.
FINDING YOUR SPIRITUAL BALLS
Volcanoes don’t start out as mountains. They begin as holes punched through the earth’s surface by steam and lava rising from deep within. Over time, the space around the hole grows higher and higher until a majestic mountain forms, like Mount Sinai.
Volcanoes are built by this process. It’s how they exist.
I mention this because volcanoes and humans have more in common than you may think. Like volcanoes, we’re built emotionally to let off steam, boil over, and occasionally erupt. Even born-again followers of Jesus have this inbuilt nature, with Jesus himself demonstrating it on occasion. Sometimes he steamed, sometimes he boiled over, and sometimes he ferociously erupted.
He expects us to do the same.
The traditional notion of “being Christian”, however, does not condone intense emotional displays. We’re taught to take it all with a smile, turn the other cheek, never get offended, and love our enemies. All of this can and should be done by the power of God’s Holy Spirit and needs to be our everyday playbook, almost without exception. But every now and then even God’s Spirit reaches his limit, and a simmering boil turns into a full-blown holy rage.
These blow-outs are not failures on our part. On the contrary, they’re what build, strengthen, and define us as Christians. God’s righteous anger forms the backbone of the Old Testament, and Jesus himself famously demonstrated righteous anger when he overturned the money-changers’ tables and whipped the offenders out of the temple. That spectacular emotional eruption still rumbles through the ages.
Humans have been made to let off steam and sometimes rise to a boil. As born-again Christians, we can call on God’s guidance to show us the appropriate level of response at any given time. But every once in a while the whole process gets thrown overboard, and before we know it, we’re in the midst of a major and unstoppable eruption.
God tells me he calls this “finding your spiritual balls”.
I’m thinking that most of you reading this know what I’m talking about. It’s like you’ve jumped onto train going full speed down the track, with no brakes in sight. Something takes over you, and you let ‘er rip.
It’s a wonder to behold!
I don’t believe you can be truly Christian until you’ve found your spiritual balls. The more “meek and mild” you are in dealing with the world and its atrocities, the more you need to occasionally erupt in a spectacular display. God didn’t make his children to be bent over in submission. He made us to stand tall. In fact, one of the first directives God gave me the day I was born-again was to stand up and look up.
I’ve been standing up and looking up ever since.
When we find our spiritual balls – that is, when we let God work through us in righteous anger – we become a formidable spiritual force of nature. Like a grizzly bear rearing up on its hind legs and roaring a warning to its adversary, we are our enemies’ worst nightmare. Volcanic eruptions are meant to invoke fear so that anyone in the area will flee; emotional eruptions by the power of God’s Holy Spirit are meant to invoke holy fear and bring spiritual correction.
Like Jesus, we need to allow God to work through us in righteous anger. It’s part of what it means to be Christian. In so doing, we become participants in God’s corrective justice, partnering with God through his Holy Spirit to bring restoration and healing.
We also get the chance to find our spiritual balls.
And when you’ve found them, you’d better hang onto them, because you’re going to need them for what’s coming.
Oh, that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence,
As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!
FALSE PROPHETS: A TIMELY REMINDER
You’ll know who the false prophets are because they’ll try to entice you to do things that Jesus warned you not to do.
Like, for instance, protest.
Jesus never protested. He never raised his voice in the streets.
He never pushed back against Roman (worldly) law enforcement.
And he never hired a lawyer. In fact, he told us not to organize our legal defence in advance, but to let the Holy Spirit give us the words when our time in court comes.
You can always tell false prophets by how they do things opposite to what Jesus told us to do. And then they try to get us to do the same wrong things by claiming it’s somehow right or virtuous.
The pastors getting fined and incarcerated for protesting and then hiring lawyers for their legal counsel need to brush up on scripture.
Paul warned us that the false prophets would come dressed in sheep’s clothing.
Just a reminder.
WHAT IS THE PATIENCE OF THE SAINTS, AND DO YOU HAVE IT?
Most of us remember, as children, being told to be patient. That was the signal that we had to reign in our excitement and “settle down”. We had to sit still and wait, and then wait some more. We had to put our excitement on hold.
Told this enough times, we came to see patience as something that got between us and what we wanted. We started to see patience as our enemy. We didn’t want to be patient; we wanted what we wanted, and we wanted it right now.
Fast forward to today, to our born-again adult selves. Yet again we are being told to be patient, but this time by scripture. As followers of Jesus, we are to be patient in suffering and to have the patience of the saints, because in our patience (we’re told) we possess our souls.
Patience is the unsexy eldest daughter of the virtue family. She’s the plain one who sits in the corner by herself at parties, hair tied back, no make-up, and no skin showing below the chin. Patience is not the one you automatically gravitate toward. She’s easy to overlook and in fact prefers it that way. She just sits there quietly and waits.
When Jesus first appeared on the scene 2000 years ago, he was likewise unassuming. Instead of a wealthy charismatic military leader of noble birth, Jesus was a humble and (mostly) quietly-spoken carpenter, the son of a carpenter. In fact, he was so unlike what people expected the Messiah to be that nearly everyone rejected him for that very reason. But Jesus, as we now know, was very much the Messiah and had the power, under his unassuming exterior, to change all things for all time.
Patience is similarly underestimated.
There’s a part of us (our inner five-year-old) that squirms when we’re told to have patience, even when it’s God and Jesus telling us. But what exactly do they mean when they talk about patience? Is it the same dreaded patience our parents told us to have when we were children, or do God and Jesus mean something else?
I believe the patience spoken about in scripture is something quite different. Yes, it does include the element of waiting, but more importantly it signifies our unwavering and unconditional commitment to God. The patience that God and Jesus want us to practice as their saints is this: standing firm in God’s Commandments as a follower of Jesus, and refusing to budge, no matter what.
If we practice this kind of patience, we will endure to the end, and Jesus said we need to endure to the end to be saved. We’re not saved just by being born-again; we’re saved by being born-again AND enduring to the end. But we’re not going to be able to endure unless we practice the patience of the saints by refusing to compromise our loyalty to God. If we practice this kind of patience, we’ll keep our soul.
So Patience, far from being the wallflower of the party, is actually the guest of honor. Patience is the one holding it all together, even if her understated appearance and murky reputation are misleading. Jesus was the same during his time on Earth – understated and misinterpreted, but still the very Lion of the tribe of Judah and God’s one and only Messiah.
My grandmother used to say: “Appearances are deceiving”. The patience we need to practice as born-again believers is not the same patience we hated as children. If we are to be saved, we must stand firm and we must stand strong, knowing that Jesus is standing with us.
And we must never exchange our souls for anything.
That, my friends, is the patience of the saints.
Do you have it?
THE SCAM OF FAUX PERSECUTION
Another day in Lockdownland (formerly known as Canada), and yet another slew of pastors arrested for defying attendance restrictions at their churches.
Note that these pastors aren’t being arrested for preaching the Word. If they were being arrested for preaching the Word, I’d be supporting them. But they’re allowed to preach the Word. No-one’s stopping them. Christianity is not outlawed in Canada. The Bible isn’t banned.
No, these pastors are being arrested for the very unsexy and worldly crime of violating attendance restrictions. There is absolutely no persecution involved whatsoever. They’re being arrested as anyone else would be arrested for doing the same thing at any other kind of building within the restriction zone.
There is no persecution involved. Zero persecution. If a daycare were to open under the same attendance restrictions and the daycare workers arrested, could they claim persecution? Of course not. And neither should any of these arrested pastors.
Frankly, these guys (and they’re all guys, from what I’ve seen) are just being drama queens. They’re not fighting for freedom of assembly or freedom of religion, and they’re not achieving anything other than this: bringing donations to their organizations.
Scratch an arrested pastor and I guarantee you’ll find, just under the surface, a fund soliciting donations.
Faux persecution is big bucks these days. It’s bringing lots of money into the coffers of the affected churches.
I’m past disgusted with this and all the gullible so-called Christians who are supporting it.
This is not about freedom of religion. This is not about persecution. It’s about purposely and flagrantly violating an attendance restriction that everyone in the community has to abide by and could be worked around if the pastors were operating in good faith.
But clearly they’re not.
Jesus NEVER did what these pastors are doing. When Jesus was threatened with arrest for preaching the Word (that is, when he was actually being persecuted), he went somewhere else. He also advised his followers to go somewhere else, if the Word was not welcome. There is nothing in the gospel showing followers of Jesus defying worldly powers and allowing themselves to be arrested for violating a restriction that has nothing to do with preaching the Word.
Christians are supposed to follow Jesus in everything they do. He never protested and he never purposely opposed worldly powers. The pastors getting themselves arrested are not following Jesus and are leading their flocks astray. They’re also sowing enmity between Christians and the greater community, as the greater community sees the violation of restrictions as endangering their health and safety. This is not something Jesus did or would condone. This is anti-Christ behavior.
The pastors need to stop their shenanigans and get back to the job of following Jesus and preaching the Word, in whatever way they can, working either within or around the restrictions (not opposing them). And every penny that they’ve collected during their faux persecution campaigns they need to return with an apology.
I am past disgusted with the worldly church. There is precious little of Jesus in anything they do. They are giving God and Jesus a bad name, and in the process paving the way for real persecution of real Christians in the near future.
These are the modern-day Scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees.
These are the modern-day Judases.
Their organizations are rotten to the core.
If you’re attending one of these worldly churches, get out while you still can. There is nothing to be gained and everything to be lost by staying in them.
“Come out of her, my people!”
LOCKING HORNS WITH THE WORLDLY CHURCH
I’ve discussed here before Jesus’ arms-length relationship with the world. His concern was doing his father’s business and tending the lost sheep of the house of Israel, not making the world a better place. In fact, he spent no time at all confronting worldly powers about the evil they liberally dispensed. It was not his business.
What he did confront, however, was the worldly church. He set a clear distinction between those who did not know (the heathen) and those who said they knew but lived as if they didn’t (the hypocrites). The religious powers-that-be were constantly in his crosshairs, just as he was in theirs.
I have also had occasion to lock horns with religious powers-that-be and their supporters in the worldly church, and it is always an aggravating experience. Jesus was not a social justice warrior; he fought for Truth as it manifested in God’s Kingdom, not in the world. Jesus well knew that the world, being under the control of Satan, was not the realm of Truth. As he constantly reminded us: “My Kingdom is not of this world”.
Which is why I feel like I’m banging my head against a wall of unbelief when worldly Christians tell me that the evil of the world needs to be confronted by the church. Jesus never confronted the world. He never upbraided the world. He let the world be. It was not his Father’s business and therefore not his concern. God put the world under the control of Satan, so why would Jesus confront Satan? It would be like fighting against God.
Jesus didn’t advocate fighting against the powers-that-be in the world. When they came for him, he avoided them until it was his time, and then he submitted to them. In the worldly court, during his trial, he refused to defend himself. He submitted to the charges and then submitted to the punishment. Pontius Pilate was perplexed that Jesus would not speak in his own defense. In fact, he was so perplexed that he recommended that Jesus get the lightest possible sentence and be released. It was only at the insistence of the religious powers-that-be that Pilate decreed the death sentence.
The worst enemies of believers are not the worldly powers-that-be but the religious ones. It wasn’t the Romans who were hunting down Jesus’ followers in the early church, it was the religious powers-that-be, like Saul (later known as Paul). Our worst enemies, as believers, will always be those who call themselves Christians but show by their actions (if not their words) that they are anti-Christ.
Jesus warned us that our worst enemies would not be strangers but those under our own roof. And so they are.
I mention confrontation with the worldly church because of the issues currently being faced by many congregations in the form of attendance restrictions or outright banning of services. I am not in favour of openly defying worldly powers regarding attendance restrictions or closures, which puts me in direct opposition with most of Christendom. When Jesus was told not to go somewhere on pain of arrest, he didn’t go there. He worked around the restriction. When the early church was outlawed and told not to gather on pain of arrest, they fled and went underground. THEY DID NOT CONFRONT THE WORLDLY POWERS-THAT-BE or in any way protest the worldly decrees.
But there is a spirit of confrontation with the world that is growing stronger in so-called Christian congregations, and it is not a Godly spirit. I heartily oppose the face-covering mandate on any number of grounds, but I don’t protest it. I just don’t go where face coverings are required, or if I have to go, I state my exemption (which is part of the mandate). So far, I haven’t had any major problems. I don’t openly protest worldly decrees because Jesus didn’t, and I follow Jesus, not the worldly church.
I also don’t protest closures or meeting restrictions being imposed on congregations because these are the same restrictions being imposed on every other form of gathering, and the worldly church doesn’t deserve any special treatment in that regard. There are any number of work-arounds they could resort to, such as having three or four smaller services instead of one large one, or meeting virtually. These are work-arounds that are reasonable. I don’t attend weekly services (I’m in God’s church every day, all day), so I don’t have any particular sympathy for pastors who are openly defying attendance restrictions and getting themselves and their parishioners arrested and their buildings locked down.
Jesus would never have done this. There is no guidance in scripture supporting openly opposing or protesting worldly decrees. When believers in the early church didn’t agree with decrees not to gather, they quietly did work-arounds (like leaving town or going underground); they didn’t openly protest. The defiant pastors today aren’t getting arrested for preaching the Word; they’re getting arrested for not adhering to attendance restrictions. This is completely avoidable and has nothing to do with God’s Kingdom or preaching the Word. In confronting worldly powers and getting arrested, they are not setting a good example for their flock. Jesus never confronted worldly powers, only religious ones.
For us born-again believers, our worst enemies are not in the world but in the worldly church, just as they were for Jesus and just as Jesus warned us they would be for us. Our response to the world should always be the same: to keep it at arm’s length, but to be cordial and kind. Our response to the worldly church, however, should of necessity be confrontational, as Jesus showed us in his dealings with the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and so on. Our concern is not evil in the world (God put the world under Satan and didn’t tell us to fight it), but evil in the worldly church. It is to be confronted and corrected. But in so doing, expect to be aggravated and occasionally have to overturn a few tables.
LET THEM GO
When I was still an atheist, I had occasion to be at a location in Toronto that was the site of constant protests. It was an alleyway sandwiched between two rows of low buildings. On the day that I attended the location, I was confronted by a Christian minister while trying to push past chanting protesters to get to a back gate.
“You’ll burn in Hell!” was the ministers greeting to me as he blocked my path and waved a pamphlet in my face. I responded with words that I won’t print here; his reply to my curses was to curse me back and lunge closer. “THERE’S NO HOPE FOR YOU IF YOU GO THROUGH THAT GATE!” he roared. I got a good look at his face while he was shouting at me. It was red with fury, but his eyes were dead cold. This to me at the time was the face of Christianity.
Ten years later I was born-again. The Jesus I came to know as a born-again believer was nothing like the minister who screamed and lunged at me in the back alley. I vowed never to be like that hate-filled man in my dealings with unbelievers.
Scripture is clear that most people are on the broad path and very, very few are on the narrow one. Scripture is also clear that people are on the broad path because they want to be. No-one forced them onto it. They are there because they want to be. I was an atheist because I wanted to be. The last thing I wanted as an atheist was to be a Christian.
Another way to look at it is that even knowing about the narrow path, most people don’t want to be on it. It is their free will choice to be on the broad path. God permits them their choice because he respects their right to choose. He doesn’t agree with their choice, but he respects their right to choose.
We need to do the same.
Jesus didn’t bang his head against the wall of unbelief.
He didn’t preach to unbelievers.
He didn’t scream and lunge at unbelievers, even those he thought might be condemned.
He let them go, just as he let those who no longer wanted to follow him go.
Even knowing years in advance that Judas Iscariot would betray him, Jesus didn’t try to talk him out of it. He was kind to Judas and treated him no differently than the other disciples. Even knowing that Judas had chosen against him, Jesus let him go.
We need to follow Jesus in everything we do, including letting those who want nothing to do with Jesus go. Just let them go. The same for people who once said they believed but have fallen away. Just let them go. The falling away was foretold in scripture, as was Judas’s betrayal, and Jesus says scripture cannot be undone.
We born-agains need to turn our attention instead to our own people, to born-agains who love God and follow Jesus. Time is short: We need to strengthen and encourage each other and let the rest go. Jesus said he didn’t come into the world to save the world but to minister to those who are his in the world. Most people in the world want nothing to do with Jesus; most of the people are of their own free will on the broad path, so let them go. Most Christians want nothing to do with God’s Commandments, so let them go, too. They are no longer our responsibility. They have made their choice. Respect their right to choose (like God does) and let them go.
But we are still to treat others as we want to be treated, whether they are believers or not. This command does not change.
So be kind to unbelievers and those who have fallen away. The time they have now is the best they will ever have. There is no promise of Paradise for them when they die. Be kind to them, knowing what awaits them. They are beyond your prayers, but you can still be kind to them.
“Love your enemies” is not just a catchy campaign slogan for God’s Kingdom.
It’s a Commandment.
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE GOOD NEWS?
QUICK – without thinking about it, tell me what the Good News is.
Jesus launched his ministry with the words “Repent, and believe the Good News!”
So what is the Good News he was talking about?
And what exactly does he want us to believe?
If you’re like most Christians, you won’t have a clue.
Most Christians will say something like: “Jesus died for our sins.”
But the truth is that Jesus preached the arrival of God’s Kingdom on Earth. His entire ministry was preaching and teaching about the Kingdom and how to live in it. Remember that Jesus’ people were at that time waiting for a deliverer to save them from the occupying Roman forces, just as his people previously had been waiting for someone to save them from their enemies (the heathens) who were constantly a threat to them. God had promised them such a deliverer, and Jesus preached the Good News that God had kept his promise: The Kingdom that would keep God’s people safe from their enemies had finally been established.
This is incredibly important to understand. You cannot preach or teach the Good News without understanding exactly what the Good News is. Jesus preached the coming of the Kingdom not as an event that would happen thousands of years in the future, but as something that was happening then and there and would continue forever. The founding of the Kingdom that would have no end was the Good News, and it had to be believed (that is, taken on faith) because, as Jesus explained, you can’t see the Kingdom with your eyes: It’s within you.
Jesus was very clear that the Kingdom had come, and that his ability to cast out spirits “by the finger of God” was evidence of it. The Kingdom, as Jesus explained, is a spiritual realm, not a geopolitical one. What the coming of the Kingdom accomplished was to give believers a safe spiritual space where they would be protected from their spiritual enemies, not a safe geopolitical space where they would be protected from their worldly enemies.
This is the Good News that Jesus preached. This is the gospel.
Unfortunately, most Christians today are preaching another gospel – that the Kingdom of God will only come at Jesus’ second coming, and that Jesus will at that time set up a geopolitical realm. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The truth is that the kingdom came with Jesus and has continued for the past 2000 years. The truth also is that a false messiah who calls himself Jesus will emerge at some point out of the worsening chaos to “save the world”, and this false messiah will set up a global government that he will call the kingdom of God, dubbing himself “God” in the process. This is the reason for the lies being pushed lately that Jesus is God and that he is “coming back soon” to set up his kingdom.
Don’t be deceived. When Jesus proclaimed the Good News 2000 years ago, he was declaring the coming of God’s Kingdom at that time, and he never called himself God. He always referred to “The Father” as a separate person. The gospels make no sense if you read them as Jesus being God. Old Testament prophecy is very clear that “God’s suffering servant” and “prophet” (a term used interchangeably with “son of man”) will set up the kingdom that will have no end, and that this will be done in the midst of other kingdoms, not as a final kingdom.
The problem, as I see it, is that most Christians today don’t bother to read the Bible and are profoundly ignorant of scripture. They’ve been relying instead on priests and pastors and ministers and YouTube false prophets to spoon-feed them what they’re told is scripture, and in so doing are learning, believing, and spreading lies.
This problem can easily be resolved by people simply opening up the Bible and reading it for themselves, but most Christians don’t want to do that. And so, we have the major falling away that we are now experiencing, along with a whole generation of Christians who are gearing up to welcome the false messiah as Jesus/God.
Please read the Bible. If you have been given the very great privilege of teaching and preaching God’s Word, please read the Bible, and learn and know scripture before you try to teach others. Don’t rely on other people to teach you; learn from the Master himself (Jesus) and from his Father (God) through God’s Spirit. Don’t rely on people.
The Good News that Jesus preached all those years ago is that the Kingdom had come and that God’s people were now safe from their spiritual enemies if they followed Jesus’ teachings. That is the Good News that Jesus preached, and that is also the Good News we need to preach. Anything else is another gospel.
THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL AND OTHER LIES FROM THE PIT OF HELL
I know a preacher who claims to be clinically depressed for over 15 years. The same preacher (who’s been in and out of counselling and on and off antidepressants for years) claims his depression is evidence of the dark night of the soul that certain believers have to go through to achieve union with God.
I call hogwash.
There is no evidence in scripture that believers have to endure a dark night of the soul. In fact, Jesus tells us that God’s Holy Spirit will be like a wellspring continuously refreshing and renewing us from within. He tells us his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Jesus himself gave no evidence of any form of depression, and neither did any of his genuine followers. Even Paul, who probably suffered physically more than any believer at any time, never mentioned any bouts of depression, let alone one that lasted over 15 years.
If you by chance have a few minutes to waste, do a web search on “dark night of the soul”. The concept is steeped in Catholic mysticism (that is, white-washed demonology) and describes a state of spiritual crisis in which the sufferer feels completely and utterly separated from God while journeying toward full union with God. I don’t know where you are in your journey home as a born-again believer, but I’ve been journeying now for nearly 22 years, and I have never experienced anything remotely resembling a “dark night”. God says he’ll never leave us or forsake us, and if God is always with us through his Spirit, how can we be depressed? How can we experience a dark night of the soul?
The Truth is, we can’t. Born-again believers don’t go through a dark night of the soul. Unbelievers do (I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE), as do those who worship something other than God, or those who might have some level of belief in Jesus but also have a heavy burden of sin on their soul. Genuine reborn followers of Jesus live in the light. There is no darkness in the light that surrounds and permeates born-again believers, because that light is the light of God, and scripture tells us there is no darkness in God. He is perfect light.
If someone you know claims to be Christian while also claiming to be experiencing a dark night of the soul, tell them they’re full of hogwash. And then tell them if they really want to know God and really want to follow Jesus, they need to repent and believe the Gospel. The Gospel gives zero evidence of a dark night. What they’re experiencing in their depression is the manifestation of sin on their soul. Unrepentant sin will give you more than one dark night, and it will keep you in the dark until you repent. If you die unrepentant, the dark night will never end.
As a born-again believer, you need to steer clear of any form of mysticism, even if it presents itself as Christian. Mysticism is nothing but whitewashed hogwash straight from the pit of Hell.
EZEKIEL 9: GOD’S VENGEANCE AND THE MARK
One of the most chilling passages in all of scripture is found in the book of Ezekiel, where God shows his prophet what he has planned for those who’ve turned from him. The chapter is as close to horror as the Bible gets. Gone is the God of love and mercy, and in his place is the God of vengeance who operates coldly and mechanically, and without pity.
We know that God is perfect in everything he is and everything he does, so his vengeance must likewise be perfect. In Ezekiel 9, we see vengeance without mercy, but we also see God with no other choice, having given the condemned warning after warning, to no avail. At some point, time is up. Infinite patience doesn’t mean the patience goes on infinitely; it means the patience is infinitely comprehensive while it lasts.
Here are some lines from the chapter:
“Go… through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children….
Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain.”
What we see is God planning to do to his own people – including little children – what he usually does only to the heathen. He is treating the children of Abraham as strangers and enemies, and disposing of them as such.
God doesn’t make idle threats. He lays out very plainly what he expects of us and the rewards we will get for fulfilling those expectations. And just as plainly he lays out what he doesn’t want from us, and the rewards we will get for defying him. God is not coy when it comes to eternal damnation. The devil is coy; God is not. God states his expectations plainly and openly, ensures we’ve understood, and then steps back to let us make up our own mind about what we want to do.
In the same chapter in Ezekiel, we read about the angelic scribe who uses a writer’s inkhorn to mark the people who are safe from God’s vengeance. The mark is made on the forehead of the righteous, presumably with an ink that’s visible only to those in the spiritual realm. Ezekiel’s mark is later mimicked in the infamous “mark of the beast” in the book of Revelation. That mark – the one you cannot buy or sell without – is clearly visible both to those in the spiritual realm and to those on Earth.
There is nothing worse than being beyond God’s mercy, as were those in Ezekiel’s vision. It does not get any worse than that. As long as you exist within the realm of God’s mercy, no matter how bad things get, there is still hope. You can still cling to hope. You can close your eyes and pray and hope. But when God’s mercy ends for you, there is no more hope. That place of no hope is either hell on Earth or Hell itself. The book of Revelation describes the emptying out of Hell onto Earth. It comes after the last of God’s people have been sealed (the final mark of God). Those without that final seal will not be protected from the fallen beings that will rule over the Earth in the planet’s dying days.
The final sealing also marks the end of the Age of Mercy and the beginning of the Age of Vengeance. At that time, there will be no more conversions, only the punishment of the condemned and the final testing of those who have been sealed. It will be Ezekiel 9 come to life.
However, those who are sealed by God can still fall. Note that Jesus said this time of tribulation is so horrendous, if God hadn’t “shortened” it, every human would be wiped out. But God shortens this time for the sake of his elect, that is, for the sake of those he has sealed and marked as his own. He doesn’t whisk them away to avoid the tribulation; he keeps them safe while they’re undergoing their final tests and purification.
If you’re genuinely born-again, you bear God’s mark of protection. You are marked as God’s, just as surely as the Hebrews were marked as God’s by the blood of the lamb smeared on the door frames of their homes on the first Passover. The mark of the blood was a sign to the avenging angels to pass over that household while killing all the first-born without the mark. God’s sealing of you as a born-again believer has the same effect. But just like many of the Hebrews who had been protected by the blood of the Passover lamb were later condemned in the wilderness, so, too, will many of those who have received God’s seal later fall away. This is stated both in the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation. Whoever has been sealed and bears God’s mark during the time of tribulation will still be tried (that is, tested and purified), and some will fall.
Being sealed by God and receiving his mark is the greatest of honors. It also provides the greatest of protection. Nothing on Earth surpasses it. But this honor and protection can still be lost through unrepentant sin. We live in a time of great trials and temptations. We are in a spiritual wilderness on our way to the eternal Promised Land, like the Hebrews were in an earthly wilderness on their way to the earthly Promised Land. Jesus paid the price to redeem us from our fallen state and bring us back into relationship with God, if through repentance we choose to have that relationship. But the relationship still needs to be maintained through our choosing the good (rather than choosing sin), or we will lose the relationship a second time, and there is no coming back from that.
We lost our relationship with God once, through Adam’s doing, and Jesus paid the price to reinstate us. If we lose our relationship again through our own doing, there is nothing and no-one who can redeem us at that point. We will be in the same position as the fallen angels and with the same fiery lake as our unavoidable reward. Let no-one deceive you into thinking “once saved, always saved” or “all you have to do is believe and you’re going to Heaven”. These are lies from the devil to keep you spiritually lazy and ripe for a second and irredeemable fall.
God marks his own who are loyal to him. The devil will do the same to those who are loyal to him. Everyone has a mark. You cannot avoid having one. Those who are not born-again have already chosen who they are loyal to. Even if they claim to be atheists or a member of some other belief system, they have chosen against God and for the devil. It is that simple. If you don’t bear God’s mark, you bear the devil’s.
If you think God will be lenient with those who’ve chosen against him, reread Ezekiel 9.
If you think God will allow last-minute conversions after the final sealing of his people, reread Revelation.
We are very close to the final sealing.
One might even say we have arrived.