Thursday, May 23, 2013

Prophecy Mongering

Profiting from the Promulgation 
of End-Time CRI$I$ Scenarios 

Thus saith the LORD, 
Learn not the way of the heathen, 
and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven;
for the heathen are dismayed at them. 
(Jeremiah 10:2) 

The evangelical world has been feasting on a constant diet of crisis for several decades now. Despite the relative peace and prosperity that Americans currently enjoy, fear is being marketed in every outlet. Fear of the future. It is big money for evangelical professional marketeers, many of whom act like false prophets continually prophesying doom and destruction. In fact, so much so, that many Christians now seem addicted to the adrenalin rush that comes via these dire predictions of disaster. It is a Pavlovian thing – spout the CRISIS, and fear-laden followers will respond by pushing the button to buy pre-packaged SOLUTIONS! This phenomena can best be described as prophecy-mongering, a term that has connotations of profiteering from promoting endtime crises.

Crisis-mongering is not a new thing. Chicken Little in the children’s folk tale went around crying, “The sky is falling!” This message has now become “a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent.”[1] Despite the moral of the Chicken Little story, dire predictions are becoming a way of life for many evangelicals. The more exotic, the more titillating, the more dramatic – the more people will get all worked up. It isn’t just fear. Many of these catastrophic endtime scenarios are also extremely evocative, even licentious. It is tough to remain sober-minded when constantly assaulted by horrifying and/or Hollywoodized images[2] of the future. But being sober is exactly what a believer is supposed to do in these last days – “the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (1 Peter 4:7).[3]

Christian Right groups eagerly engage in their cries of “Woe is America!” on a daily basis and, quite frankly, each new dreadful episode of our country in crisis creates an opportunity to raise more support for their particular issue.[4] Evangelicals love solutions that impose some new housecleaning campaign for America. It is easier to point out the sins of America than deal with the sins within the Church (Matthew 7:3). The solution to America’s crises is inevitably some type of Dominionism – trying to “save” our nation, transform the culture, and gain power and ascendancy over others in the process. But notice it is not by the transformation of the inner man as a result of receiving the Gospel of Salvation. In fact, many evangelical leaders believe that they can invent the future, envision the future, and actually change the future! Some even wanted to develop “alternative future scenarios” because they didn’t like what Bible prophecy really has to say.[5]

Create the Crisis, Propose the Pre-determined Solution 
Professionally trained change agents have learned how to create crises and then propose a pre-planned solution. Ironically, some evangelical leaders have warned believers about these very tactics, particularly because it has been a common modus operandi of the political Left for a long time. Creating the crisis is done by things such as fomenting discord, agitating about issues, harping continually on what’s wrong, and even going so far as to create the actual problem. Often this is done via the media, which is a “partner” or “stakeholder” in the issue that is being drummed up. Once people accept that there is a problem/crisis, then the change agents come in with their pre-fabricated solution. This solution is usually onerous and intrusive, and in the political realm it usually means more government oversight and control with less personal freedom.

So, given the fact that many evangelicals already know about this clever and deceptive strategy – create the crisis, propose the solution – why are so many so gullible to crisis-mongering when it comes to believing horrific prophecy scenarios? The answer is two-fold. First, evangelicals all want to trust their “experts” – those leaders who appear in the public eye and state things authoritatively. But many trusted leaders are engaging in this very crisis-solution strategy! They claim to have elite information, intelligence secrets, hidden knowledge, scientific-sounding secrets, or even the ability to be able to decode supernatural things. Some are deemed to have such superior spiritual insights that they are called modern-day prophets![6] If these leaders were outsiders, or strangers to the evangelical world, wouldn’t skeptical questions be raised about their extravagant claims? People might request tangible proof, biblical documentation, and solid evidence before they believed their purported crisis. But because these prophecy-mongers are “in house,” hyped and marketed by other trusted leaders, they are assumed to hold superior information about whatever crisis they are promulgating. Even known cynics, critics who understand the whole crisis-solution manipulation strategy, don’t seem to raise an eyebrow when someone uses the same strategy wrapped up in endtime crisis guise.

Second, evangelicals are susceptible to prophecy-mongering because disaster is indeed imminent! We don’t know the day nor the hour (Matt. 24:36), but Jesus is going to return and before that happens Scripture states that things will wax worse and worse (2 Tim. 3:13). Believers are told to “discern the signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3). There are plenty of “wars and rumours of wars” (Mark 13:7) and many other things to indicate that the time is getting close. In fact, potential disasters are a dime a dozen. Every day brings hundreds of new catastrophic scenarios that loom on the horizon. The Christian Right gets all worked up about the environmental crisis advocates' claims of global warming, but they have their own calamitous commotions. Should Christians get all revved up about these things – even before they happen, IF they are going to happen? Jesus’s answer to this was very short and sweet: “see that ye be not troubled.” Why? Because “for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” (Matt. 24:6).

One of the more troubling aspects of prophecy-mongering is that those who are creating the crises are proposing solutions for the future. First of all, without engaging in a lot of semantic twisting and decoding of penumbras,[7] these inventive crises can’t be found anywhere in Scripture. But, worse, their solutions can't be found in Scripture either. Their solutions often have to do with conducting spiritual warfare. Even real warfare.[8] Some have twisted and distorted biblical eschatology into an endtime crisis that requires that the church defeat its enemies, subdue the earth, and restore paradise conditions.[9] They teach that Jesus can’t come back until all of these other dreadful and scary extrabiblical things happen first – based on their own stories they made up, or extrapolated from occult sources. Question: since when is Satan a reliable expert about the endtimes? John 8:44 says that the devil is a liar and “there is no truth in him.” Yet these prophecy mongers rely heavily upon Satan's literature, and his dark imagery and falsehoods heavily pervade their crisis scenarios.[10]

What are the signs that believers should be watching for? They are listed specifically in the Bible. In fact, before one jumps on signs, there are explicit warnings to not get carried away. Jesus warned that there would be false men claiming to be “Christ” and “false prophets” who would have the ability to “shew great signs and wonders” to such a great extent, that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). In other words, signs can be treacherous and deceptive. So much so that Jesus warned that desiring signs showed a sign of lack of faith (John 4:48) and the Apostle Paul warned believers to beware because Satan can cause signs in order to deceive: “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9, 6-12).

At the very end there will be never-before-seen signs in the physical heavens, and a pronounced rise in terrifying things that happen on earth (earthquakes, famines, pestilences), both which Jesus treats in a matter-of-fact manner in Luke 21. They’re going to happen. Scary? Yes! Should we react in fear? No! Our reaction should be joy! “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

What should be the response of believers to all of this crisis-mongering? Christians don’t need to be scouring ancient pagan myths, borrowing from the occult or studying the Kabbalah. They don’t need to be overcome by fearful conspiracy theories, stories of government cover-ups, or exotic tales of science fiction-like monsters invading the planet. Jesus specifically states that He has told His children all they need to know about the endtimes in one very profound and brief statement: “Behold, I have told you before” (Matthew 24:25).

That’s it! I have told you before! Jesus has told us everything we need to know about the last days ahead of time in His Word. Period. End of crisis! We need no longer be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Eph. 4:14). If everyone stood on this verse the prophecy-mongers would go out of business! 

Perhaps if Christians weren’t so gullible about prophecy-mongering, those racketeering and profiteering from crisis prophecy schemes would suffer an economic shortfall and have to close up shop. But endtime crisis prophecy is very alluring. It puts vivid images in the head, and tells wild tales with elaborate and complicated storylines.[11] Like a good fiction series, always developing new twists in the plot to make readers want to read the next chapter, endtime crisis hooks the avid reader/listener. What’s next? What can happen worse?[12] Notice how many times it requires paying money to find out what’s next. Prophecy mongering isn’t for free. The whole point of keeping captive audiences is so that they’ll buy the next new installment in the thrilling chilling story![13]

The Real Crisis and the Real Solution 
  • QUESTION: what is the WORST CRISIS facing humanity? 
  • ANSWER: The lost, the unsaved who will go to Hell if they don’t hear the SOLUTION of the Gospel message of Salvation and accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour. 

Christian – If this CRISIS with its truthful SOLUTION is not your primary FOCUS in life, then you need to search plain Scripture and re-discover the simplicity of the Gospel.

A good believer is one who seeks to obey Jesus Christ and His Word. A sincere Christian must stop and ask if all this prophecy-mongering is edifying – or terrifying. Is the storyline about Jesus Christ? Is HE the main character? Or is it full of dark tales about demonic things? Is the Bible becoming all mixed up in your mind and blurred with wild tales of creepy creatures and nightmarish monsters? What is all of this imagination and future-forecasting doing to your thought life? Are you focused on praying for the lost and leading the unsaved to the Lord? Or are you hungering for the latest tidbit of pending calamity? Is all of this endtime hype leading you away from your first love (Rev. 2:4) and simple devotion to Jesus Christ Who died on the cross for your salvation? Are you living your life in holiness and purity? Or are you wandering after sensations and stimulations?

The Apostle Paul concludes his lengthy discussion about the endtimes in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 by exhorting believers to stand fast, to have hope, to be comforted, and to be established in the Word and holy living. This does not sound like people overcome by catastrophic crises and waves of fear. It sounds like the sober-minded believer who is looking forward to that “blessed hope” of Jesus’s soon return (Titus 2:13).

Therefore, brethren, stand fast,
and hold the traditions which ye have been taught,
whether by word, or our epistle.
Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself,
and God, even our Father, Which hath loved us,
and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope
through grace, Comfort your hearts,
and stablish you in every good word and work.
(2 Thess 2:15-17) 

1. Wikipedia asserts, “Versions of the story go back more than 25 centuries,” giving an indication of the timelessness of the gullibility of human nature. 
2. If anyone reading the lengthy series of articles on Herescope about the endtime Nephilim heresies noticed similarities to the Hollywood The Avengers series, and its many offshoots, it should come as no surprise that Robert Downey, Jr., star of Iron Man movies, made reference to Chuck Missler in a recent interview, Missler, as we have documented previously, is one of the chief leaders of this prophecy crisis movement. And last summer, at the Discernment Ministries “Quantum Mysticism” conference in Niles, Michigan, Sarah Leslie made a presentation exhibiting the similarities between The Avengers movie series and the new eschatologies of Tom Horn, Chuck Missler and their many endtime crisis associates. DVD available at's.htm 
3. Scripture warns that there will come a time when the false prophets cry "peace and safety!" (See 1 Thessalonians 5:3 and its last days context.) Possibly those who are preaching crises now will some day claim solutions – that they have attained “peace and safety” here on earth. Keep in mind the real biblical prophets lost everything, sometimes even their lives, calling the masses to repentance. They didn't get lucrative book deals, paid speaking engagements, keynotes on the conference circuit, and get on the fast track to “trusted experthood” – all of which seems to be the normal experience for modern prophecy mongers. 
4. By way of confession, one of the authors of this article, Sarah Leslie, received professional training in the early 1980s by fundraisers in the political Right. She was instructed in how to use each new crisis as a media opportunity, and also for writing powerful fund-raising letters that predicted dire things would happen if people didn’t send in their money right away. It worked! (Note: Discernment Ministries does not use these manipulative techniques.) 
5. Herescope has published a number of articles on this topic. See for example: and and 
6. For example, Lamb and Lion Ministries founder, David Reagan, referring to Jonathan Cahn as “An End Time Prophet to America” on the cover of the May / June edition of his “Lamplighter” magazine: 
8. See Gaylene Goodroad’s Herescope article, “Militant Prayer: Taking Spiritual Dominion Over Dark Angels,” 9/23/11, See also her article, “Nephilim Eschatology: A Crash Course in the Emerging Endtime Prophecy Heresy,” 6/10/12, 
9. See the Herescope articles “Who Invented Dominionism? That is the Question,” 9/9/11, and “Dominionism ‘Entering into a New Season’: Set to Rule Over the Environment & Weather,” 11/4/11, Also see “What Is Dominionism?” by Sarah Leslie, 
10. See “The Rise of Apocalyptic Paganism in the Church: Bible Prophecy in Crisis,” Herescope, 3/7/13,
11. The Old Testament prophets warned about those who prophesied “false dreams” (Jer. 14:14; 23:32; Zech 10:2) and those who practiced “false divination” (Ex. 21:23). This establishes the fact that false prophets will employ false imagery, also called “idolatry.” Therefore, Jesus warned that “many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many” (vs. 11) in the context of Matthew 24 where He spoke about the last days (see also vs. 24). And 2 Peter 2:1 warns “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”
12. One is reminded of the addiction of the Athenians to the latest new things, of whom it is said they “spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). 
13. The prophet Jeremiah warned that the people were “given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest” (8:10). Likewise 2 Peter 2:1-3 warns about false prophets that “through covetousness shall they will feigned words make merchandise of you.”

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Shhh... It's a Secret God Told Me to Tell You!

By Pastor Danny Isom

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, 
but the things revealed belong to us
and to our sons forever, 

that we may observe all the words of this law.
(Deut. 29:29)

As the Preacher has already told us, “There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecc. 1:9) So why should we be surprised that yet another person has been the exclusive recipient of yet another “secret” from God and, for the first time in the history of the world, is making it known to us? For some reason, instead of writing it down in one of the original languages of the Bible and making it freely available to all like the original Prophets of old, this time around God chose to have it printed in English and sold for $16.99 ($9.00 on the Kindle). For a fee, the “prophet” will come and speak about it. False teaching disguised as “revelation” like Jonathan Cahn’s The Harbinger have been around since  handwriting was invented and such will, no doubt, persist until the Lord returns. Please do not buy it or even bother reading a friend’s copy; why should you take away time from your personal meditation in Scripture, the only true source of revelation? But such things keep coming up, so I keep going back to the above verse.
  • Fact 1: God has not revealed everything to us, nor will He.
  • Fact 2: He has already revealed everything we need to know in His Word. There is no room for new books in The Book.
  • Fact 3: If we cannot be obedient to what has already been revealed, there is no “new” or further revelation coming.
In addition to outright false teachers and false prophets who teach error, there are also those who, “…speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord.” (Jer. 23:16b) In either case, it is to be rejected just the same.

The sad thing is that I cannot even report this to be the most egregious attempt to deceive the Elect in this age-old genre of claiming something never-before-revealed. There seems to be a whole “Bible codes” industry built on individuals and movements who purport to be the first ones in history whom God allowed to figure out these “secrets.” On the most shallow, surface level of this nonsense, why does it not bother anyone with a grade school education that the Lord has allowed all of the apostles, pastors and scholars throughout the whole of history up this point to have miscalculated, mistranslated, or just plain mishandled the Word except these chosen few whom God waited until now to reveal it to? Why is it that we so rarely see these “gifted” individuals living like a true apostle or prophet, much less a faithful rank-and-file believer? Why does God choose for them to personally profit so greatly from this particular revelation when this was anything but the case for those through whom the true, written Word of God was previously given? (Prophets from biblical times must be jealous of profits in modern times—pun intended.) Why should I even attempt a scriptural response when the argument is won and lost without ever leaving the arena of common sense?

For the uninitiated, the name of the last book of the Bible, in Greek, is “Apokalypsis.” It describes an unveiling, something that becomes clearer and clearer as you get nearer to it, and the veil which you can already partially see through is finally lifted out of the way. The truth is that if we would just trust the timing and direction of the Holy Spirit through Whom we obtain the only guidance that can explain God’s Word, there are no remaining “secrets.” At present we can already see the outline of them all, so it is really a case of God’s timing as to when we will be brought close enough and the veil fully removed so that what has been there all along comes into our clear, earthly view. Such are not “secret” things, but a test of faith to see if we will obey all that we have already been given while we wait for His timing when it comes to the rest. Beware of those who claim they are the only ones who can explain what is behind the curtain, especially if it costs $16.99.

But I have to say that it amazes me how poor the so-called “Christian” con-artists and counterfeiters are at their work! We could never find an unbelieving con-man or counterfeiter producing obvious imitations and cheap knock-offs that would not fool anyone. They have much more pride in their work than the Christian con-artists! The professional thief at least does their homework, pays attention to all the tiniest details and makes it the most difficult possible to see any difference between the fake and authentic. At least their fake diamond is so good, only the most well-equipped and knowledgeable expert can tell the difference so that they really do fool the mark. All Christian con-artists seem to need to do is produce something sparkly and pretty which only they would have the audacity to call a “diamond,” and there is no end of takers who are fooled! They do not have to make any effort whatsoever beyond simply calling it a “diamond” and, unlike a wiser person of the world, their marks simply take their word for it. Unlike the world’s counterfeits, it is so obviously something of little resemblance to the real thing that it should never have fooled anyone to begin with.

One would think that these charlatans would spend at least a little time studying how an authentic, biblical prophet lives, speaks and acts. Or that they would carefully craft their wares to be as indistinguishable as possible from the authentic. Or that they would try to imitate the original right down to the worn out sandals. Why is it that Christians will accept an obvious imitation which any non-believer with bad eyesight and a poor sense of smell would recognize in ten seconds? Why is it that every modern-day false prophet fills the exact mold Jesus identified as producing something obviously false?

But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! (Matthew 11:8)

How did John’s appearance and stature reveal he was anything but someone who called a king’s palace a home? He first and foremost looked and lived the part.

Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. (Matthew 3:4)

And what was John’s accompanying message? What did he say to do about the impending arrival of the Messiah, the greatest literal “revelation” of all time?

Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; (Matthew 3:8)

Everyone then, just as today, knew that the Messiah was coming soon. The real prophet did not reveal a new “secret,” did not dazzle them with something only he had, but called them back to the most basic thing they knew all along because it had been drilled over and over again through all the previous prophets and God’s Word predicting His arrival: repent of sin and put the Word of God as already given into practice so you will be able to handle the coming revelation.

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29)

And what is even more incredible is that the Messiah DOES come, the Messiah fulfills more than three hundred twenty prophecies in the Old Testament, and the vast majority completely miss the “revelation” of the Messiah’s first coming! Why? Instead of doing what John said, they kept following and seeking after those who dangled something else in front of them. How much more authentic can it get than to have the Messiah, in person, right there in front of you and instead giddily run after the cheap, sparkly imitation that “looks pretty” over there? No, the problem then is the same as it is now: a lack of obedience to what God has already revealed, a population that can be deceived because they are not prepared for something “new” because they never truly believed the “old.”

Do I believe that there are “deeper” truths to be gleaned from the Word than are obvious at first glance? Of course, but there is a basic rule of interpretation which tells us when the line has been crossed from “exegesis”—drawing out of Scripture what is there, and “eisegesis”—reading something into Scripture that was never there to begin with: Scripture never contradicts Scripture.

I have seen people use Gematria, where the letters of the Greek or Hebrew alphabet are assigned a number, to show that the Messiah to come was going to literally be named “Jesus.” If that is true, it is not actually something “new” or in conflict with the rest of Scripture, is it? Scripture confirms that the Messiah is indeed named “Jesus.” Within Scripture is a rich texture of patterns, allegories, parables and typology, all of which never form the basis for doctrine, but in every instance is confirmed elsewhere in Scripture by what is plainly stated. The “deeper” things reflect and provide a better understanding of the basic things. If someone offers something that cannot be confirmed and supported by Scripture, run far, my friend… run fast.

How does a real prophet handle God’s prophetic Word? Look at the guy through whom more “secrets” were revealed in the Old Testament than any other. No one has left us more Old Testament prophetic puzzles than Daniel. How did he handle the recognition of God’s revelation in his time?

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. (Daniel 9:1-5)

Daniel is searching the Word which God has already given! Daniel, someone renowned for personal faithfulness to God’s Word, discovers something no one else seems to be aware of which is inside the Word which God has already given! What does he do with this “secret”? Daniel begins by addressing the core issue of repentance of sin and obedience to the Word—that which has already been made known. He knows they are not going to get the greater fulfillment to come if they do not get what has already been revealed.

When faced with the imminent and inevitable fulfillment of God’s prophetic Word, a true prophet first and foremost addresses the shortfall in living according to what God’s people should already know. Daniel did not know how God would specifically fulfill the prophecies in Jeremiah, but he knew that it would be missed in whatever form it took by God’s people if they did not repent and start living according to the Word already given to them. In other words, because people were not living according to the Word of God as already given, they were incapable of seeing what was about to be revealed in the prophetic Word of God! God is not going to reveal a “secret” to someone who is unwilling to obey the plain truth already provided. In fact, when Daniel was given an actual secret, he was told to keep it secret until God Himself would reveal it at God’s appointed time. (Dan. 8:26-27)

Now here is an interesting supporting “revelation” from Scripture when it comes the unveiling of God’s secrets. What would happen if God DID make one of His secrets known? How would we know for sure that this was authentically taking place?

The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him,
And He will make them know His covenant. (Psalm 25:14)

It will only come to those who are obediently putting His Word into practice for the purpose of their further putting His Word into practice! Biblically speaking, “those who fear Him” is defined as someone who is intimately acquainted and so reveres the Lord that it is visibly proven by their obedience to His Word. This verse does not contradict the one previously quoted from Deuteronomy, but establishes what we know not only about every biblical prophet’s ministry, but every sign and wonder recorded and still to come: it is always about obedience to the greater message of the Word. The Psalmist tells us that the end result is the deepest and most complete working of God’s Word, to “know His covenant.” This is the term which expresses having entered into a personal relationship with God based on the mutual terms of His Word. Authentic secrets from the Lord confirm His Word for those already in a right and obedient relationship in the most profound ways so that it has the greatest effect to reinforce obedience to His Word!
  • We know some “secrets” to be bogus because God does not reveal secrets to someone living a life apart from His Word.
  • We know some “secrets” to be bogus because they are not supported by nor conform to God’s already provided Word.
  • We know some “secrets” to be bogus because they try to introduce something “new” that cannot be found in God’s written Word.
  • We know some “secrets” to be bogus because they are so general, we do not know what to actually do with the information.
But we ultimately know to automatically reject anyone using the term “secret” without delving very deeply. Why?

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29)

I have not spoken in secret, In some dark land;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob
 ‘Seek Me in a waste place’;
I, the Lord, speak righteousness,
Declaring things that are upright. (Isaiah 45:19)

What is here articulated through Isaiah in the Old Testament is expanded upon by Christ Himself:

Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. (John 18:20)

Paul tells us that even when God reveals a mystery, it is verified by God’s Word and those through whom His written Word was given, and that such is always freely and publicly revealed to the entire world and has as its ultimate purpose faithfulness to God’s Word:

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 16:25-27)

What is, has, and most certainly will come many more times in the form of those claiming to reveal something “secret” is probably best explained by Peter for what it really is:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:1-3)

Too many are so easily deceived because they spend absolutely no time in the Word, usually because to do so would mean having to address the persistent issues of personal sin in their life. They do not know what God’s Word says, so they allow someone else to define it for them. It is like buying a diamond without ever actually knowing what a real diamond looks or feels like, so why not just take the salesman’s word for it? But for those of us who strive to attain to being a Wise Virgin (Mt. 25:1-13) who remain committed to His Word in spite of the lateness of the hour, we have already been provided everything we authentically and literally need from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. Everything else is an obvious and pale imitation.

Republished with permission of the author. Original published HERE.

Monday, May 13, 2013

In Him All Things Hold Together

A Look at Colossians 1:16-17

Dr. Bruce K. Alcorn

God began His written message, the Bible, by stating an extremely profound and essential truth.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(Genesis 1:1)

That fact and its importance are eloquently stated by Larry DeBruyn.

At a point before time, nothing existed. By creating something out of nothing, the transcendent God Elohim began time, matter and space. Out of nothing He brought the material universe into existence (i.e., creatio ex nihilo). This simple yet profound statement regarding the subject of origins is foundational to everything else in the Bible.[1]

Not only is it important for us to understand the truth about Creation, that is, the origin of time, matter and space, it is just as important to understand the truth about what has happened since that beginning. What has been God’s role once He, Out of nothing… brought the material universe into existence? How has His creation continued to exist or, why has it not reverted back to the state of nothing?

To answer those questions we only need to search the rest of Scripture, such as Colossians. That New Testament book is Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae, written while he was in a Roman prison. In the initial part of the first chapter he commends them for their faith in Christ and love for fellow believers and that he prayed for them ceaselessly so that they would, “…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord….” He then proceeded to write about the Christ who, “…delivered us from the domain of darkness…,” provided redemption and forgave sins, that He is God and was the, “…first-born of all creation.” That was followed by a rich statement about Christ’s power.

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him.
And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17, NASB)

The KJV uses “by Him all things consist;” here and, both the ESV & NIV read the same as the NASB.

The Greek word that is translated all things hold together or consist is sunistemi which means:

to join together parts in a whole, to constitute, create, bring into existence, to exist.[2]

Another similar use of that word is found in 2 Peter.

… it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water. (2 Peter 3:5)

The KJV uses were of old and, both the ESV & NIV use existed here.

Matthew Henry restates Colossians 1:17 this way:

The whole creation is kept together by the power of the son of God, and made to consist in its proper form.[3]

The IVP Commentary states it this way:

The next set of christological formulations (v. 17) repeats in chronological fashion the critical relationship between Lord Christ and all things. The previous confession stated that the destiny of all things is predicated by being in Christ. Similarly, if Christ was before all things, and if all things have their beginning by him and their purpose for him, and if in him all things hold together in a coherent and logical way, then the wise thing to do is to line up under the lordship of Christ in order to enter into God's salvation.[4]

After writing, “For by Him all things were created,” in vs. 16, Paul goes on to explain what “all things” includes with four phrases covering four different aspects: (1) “both in the heavens and on earth,” (2) “visible and invisible,” (3) “whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities,” and in vs. 17, (4) “He is before all things.” That includes everything in our space-time continuum and, before time even began. Christ created it all!

Not only did He create it, He has kept it and continues to keep it in place and working… in Him all things hold together, or as Mathew Henry said, as noted above, “The whole creation is kept together,” or as noted above in the IVP Commentary, “in him all things hold together in a coherent and logical way.”

The main focus of this essay is to bring some attention to the importance of what it means to us today that He is (still) holding all things together, by focusing on just one aspect of all things, that is, the physical parts of what He has created. While it could perhaps be argued that the spiritual parts of creation are more important than the physical, both are products of His work.

God did not do His work of creation and then just let it go off on its own. He is still keeping it together and running as He designed it. Not only did He create the heavens and the earth, He has kept it in operation. Not only did He create man in His own image, He interacted with him after that and kept him alive. (Genesis 1:26-30; 3:9-13).

Peter stated that continuing attention to His creation by writing,

For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:4b)

When Paul was reasoning with philosophers in Athens he touched on this point when he said,

…for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His offspring.’ (Acts 17:28)

How that is accomplished is explained by the writer of Hebrews,

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. (Hebrews 1:3a)

Long before Paul addressed those Greek philosophers, the issues of life and its existence were of concern to man as illustrated by Job whose writings are considered the oldest in the Bible. Job both asked and answered the question about the control of all life.

In whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?
Does not the ear test words, as the palate tastes its food?
Wisdom is with aged men, with long life is understanding.
With Him are wisdom and might; to Him belong counsel and understanding.
Behold, He tears down, and it cannot be rebuilt; He imprisons a man, and there can be no release.
Behold, He restrains the waters, and they dry up; and He sends them out, and they inundate the earth.
With Him are strength and sound wisdom. (Job 12:10-16)

When seeking answers to such questions we should first remind ourselves of what Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth about the wisdom of men, something that is just as appropriate for today.

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside." Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, so that, just as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:5)

One way to stress the importance of God’s continuing work with His creation is to try to answer the following question:

What would happen to His creation if God withdrew His power from it?

To answer that question an attempt will now be made to identify some of the consequences to life on earth as we know it if the Creator were to withdraw His power, that is, if He did not continue to hold all things together.

Special Note: This study will be restricted to physical consequences. No attempt will be made to deal with non-physical issues, such as, psychological or behavioral, political, social, emotional, or spiritual. Daniel implied that such issues do in fact exist when he wrote,

And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and established kings. (Daniel 2:21)

 The physical examples that follow are not intended to be exhaustive, but only to provide a sample out of all possibilities.

Planet Earth

In the very first verse of the Bible God tells us that He, “…created the heavens and the earth.” The remaining verses of that first chapter of Genesis present some of the details of Creation, that is, what He made. In terms of astronomical dimensions earth is a very small part of all He made. However, it is where He placed man, it is where He caused His written word to be produced, and where he sent his Son to die for the salvation of sinners. Therefore, an obvious place to start looking for of evidence of what would happen if God did not hold all things together is the place where we humans live. We will first give our attention to some physical aspects of earth and their impact upon the inhabitants of earth, that is, plants and animals. While the impact upon human life will also be touched upon in this section, the following section, Human Life, will address that in greater detail.

Earth’s Tilt

Earth is tilted on its axis from perpendicular by about 23.5° and this tilting is the primary reason we have the four seasons each the year—spring, summer, fall and winter. The fact that the earth revolves around the sun also plays a role in giving us our seasons. Since the axis is tilted, different parts of the globe are oriented towards the sun at different times of the year. Summer is warmer than winter in each hemisphere because the rays of the sun hit the earth more directly and there are more daylight hours during summer than during winter. If the earth was not tilted at all, seasons would not change and each area of the earth would have the same season all year.

The lack of seasonal change would have a severe and adverse impact upon plants, animals and man. For most plants, sunlight in the correct amount is necessary for growth; too much or too little and they will die. Without seasonal change some areas that now grow plants would no longer be able to do so and some types of plants would not grow due to too much light and heat. Such a situation would also negatively affect the animals and man who depend upon plants to sustain life.

Sunlight and/or the absence of it also impacts weather (rain, snow, wind, temperature, air pressure) which in turn has an effect upon plants, animals and man. One very simple illustration of the impact of sunlight intensity is the need for yearly freezing temperatures in some areas to control insect infestations.

If God’s power did not hold the earth’s tilt exactly as it is, life on earth would be quite different or even non-existent.

Earth’s Rotation

The earth rotates on its axis approximately once every twenty-four hours and that gives us our days and nights. At the equator that is a speed of close to 1,040 miles per hour in a counterclockwise direction (when looking down from over the North Pole). This rotation also has an effect upon our weather systems as shown by the fact that in the Northern Hemisphere low pressure systems rotate counterclockwise while high pressure systems rotate clockwise. In the Southern Hemisphere the opposite is true. In addition, while the origin of earth’s magnetic field is not well understood, it is accepted that the earth’s rotation does contribute to its magnetic field along with the rotation of its internal core which does not quite match the overall earth rotation and, that in turn helps protect us from harmful radiation from the sun.

If the earth did not rotate we would not have day and night as we now know it. With no rotation and continued revolution around the sun daylight and darkness would last six months esch. If the rotation speed was greater or less than it actually is the length of our days and nights would be very different. In either case the dire results should be quite obvious.

If God’s power did not keep the earth’s rotation on its axis exactly as it is, life on earth would be quite different or even non-existent.

Earth’s Revolving

The earth revolves around the sun once every 365.24 days in an elliptical orbit and this movement adds to the effect of the Earth’s tilt to give us our seasons.

If the earth did not orbit around the sun where would it go, into outer space? How then would we get the sun’s energy that is so essential to life on earth?

If God’s power did not keep the earth revolving around the sun in the exact path as it is now, life on earth would be quite different or even non-existent.

Earth’s Gravitation

Gravitation, or gravity, is a force that attracts physical bodies with a strength that is in proportion to their mass. Gravitation is the reason we have weight. It causes things to fall to the ground when dropped and without gravity we would float off into the atmosphere along with other things like, animals, rivers and lakes. It is also the reason liquids, including rivers, run down instead of up. Gravitation is the force that keeps the earth in its orbit around the sun and, for keeping the moon in its orbit around the earth. Gravity also is the force that keeps earth’s atmosphere in place and that in turn has an effect on how human bodies function as will be mentioned later in the section titled, Human Life. Specific examples will be given of what can happen to the human body when it is free from gravitational forces.

If God’s power no longer maintained the forces of gravitation as they currently exist, life would be quite different or would cease to exist.

Earth’s Atmosphere

Our planet is surrounded by a layer of gases, held in place by the force of gravity, called earth’s atmosphere, and it has everything needed to support life on earth. It is composed of: nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%), argon (1%), and smaller amounts of carbon dioxide, neon, helium, methane, krypton, hydrogen, nitrous oxide, xenon, ozone, iodine, carbon monoxide, and ammonia. The lower altitudes also include various quantities of water vapor.

The weight of the air surrounding earth exerts a pressure upon the earth’s surface and is called atmospheric or barometric pressure. At sea level that force or pressure averages around 14.4 lbs. per square inch. While temperature and moisture do affect the pressure, as the distance above sea level increases the pressure decreases. In fact, for every 1,000 feet of altitude the pressure decreases approximately 4%. The following table illustrates several examples of how atmospheric pressure decreases with an increase in altitude.

Feet Above Sea Level
Pounds Per Sq. Foot
Note: The summit of Mt. Everest is 29,035 feet above sea level.

It is easy to see from that table that as altitude increases the pressure decreases but, at the same time the dangers to man increase. Those dangers are not only due less oxygen but, the lack of atmospheric pressure itself causes other problems. For example, there is a medical condition sometimes called acute mountain sickness that can affect high altitude travelers (typically above 8,000 ft.), and, it is due to a combination of both lower air pressure and lower oxygen levels. The symptoms can range from mild to life threatening, and can affect the nervous system, lungs, muscles, and heart. (A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia) While people can become acclimated to living at high altitudes, such as those on the Andean and Tibetan plateaus which rise above 13,000 ft., there are limits. Because of this, the typical cabin pressure in an airliner flying at 39,000 ft. is made equal to that at 6,900 ft. The amount of moisture in the air is also partially affected by atmospheric pressure, that is, as the pressure declines so does the moisture content. A simple earthly example of that is the process known as vacuuming drying. Materials, such as lumber, can have its moisture content reduced by placing it in a sealed container and reducing the air pressure (increasing the internal vacuum). Such a process a shorter drying time and protects the material from the dangers of high heat. Additional details of how extremely low atmospheric pressure can affect humans will be given in a later section titled,” Human Life.”

Atmospheric pressure also affects animals. For example, fish have a gas filled organ called a swim bladder which helps them with buoyancy compensation. Even the normal changes in atmospheric pressure at the earth’s surface can affect the catch rate of fish, let alone what would happen at extremely low pressure levels.

Plants also depend upon having an appropriate atmospheric pressure for normal growth because the speed at which plants grow is affected by atmospheric pressure conditions. If the pressure goes too low, a plant cannot survive due to the lack of gas exchange that can take place.

Weather is also affected by altitude (lower air pressure) because air temperature decreases as altitude increases.

Ultimately it is God’s power that maintains our atmosphere at the level that sustains life on earth as we know it.

Earth’s Electrical System

All matter consists of particles called atoms and, the atom is a basic chemical building block of matter. Atoms are comprised of three main parts; protons, electrons and, neutrons. Protons and neutrons are found together in what is called the nucleus of the atom and the electrons circle or orbit around the nucleus somewhat like planets orbiting around their sun. Protons have a positive electrical charge, electrons have a negative electrical charge, while neutrons have no electrical charge. The particles within each atom are held together by powerful forces.

Remember—God holds all things together!

When atoms bond together, they can make larger building blocks of matter called molecules. When electrons are made to move from one atom to another an electrical current is created. Electricity is the flow of electrons.

Since the earth is made of matter and matter consists of atoms and atoms have electrons, the earth has an electrical system. While the average person tends to think of electricity simply as something that goes through wires and makes our lights and television come work, or it is why lightening kills, electricity plays a much bigger role in earth. In addition to the fact that the atom, which contains electrons, is a basic chemical building block of matter, electricity is involved when plants move, such as, in the Venus flytrap and other carnivorous plants, electricity is involved when animals see and hear, electricity is involved in weather systems, watches are kept on time by the electrical properties of minerals such as quartz, etc.

If God removed His power that holds atoms together, if He removed electricity energy, all life and matter would cease to exist.

Earth’s Moon

The main effect of the moon upon the earth is ocean tides, although if we had no moon nights would be darker and that would have an effect upon animals, especially nocturnal ones. There also are many life forms that depend upon the changing of tides.

The fact that He holds together the position of the moon and that He maintains its gravity, is essential to life on earth!

In addition to all of those matters is the issue of the necessity of God’s control of the rest of our universe and beyond, such as, the path of asteroids and other heavenly bodies!

Earth’s Electromagnetic Radiation

Electromagnetic radiation is a term used to describe the different kinds of energies radiated into space by stars such as the Sun. The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of all frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. At the lower end of the spectrum are radio waves and at the highest end are gamma rays. The kind of electromagnetic energy we use most often to live is visible light. Yes, light is a form of such energy. Examples of other kinds of this energy we use include radio waves, radar waves (microwaves) and X-rays, to name a few. At the same time such radiation can be dangerous to life, even deadly if not properly controlled. In fact, earth’s atmosphere that was discussed earlier, plays an important role in protecting us from the dangers of electromagnetic radiation.

If God’s power, that both created and sustains electromagnetic radiation, was withdrawn life would cease.

Human Life

David stated an awesome truth when he penned the following words that are very appropriate to mention at this point.

I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works.(Psalm 139:14)

Truly our bodies are wonderful works! Take a look at some very interesting facts and be thankful that, like the earth, God also holds together our bodies.

The wonderfully made human body, made by God, has a physical composition of many, many parts. At one level we could say it is a collection of cells, which are sometimes referred to as the body’s basic unit of life. How many cells does the human body have? There is no consensus about the number of cells in the human body other than that most scientific sources claim they number in the trillions.

Cells consist of particles called atoms and as was mentioned earlier, atoms are a basic chemical building block of all matter, including human cells.

When something happens within an automobile engine that is counter to its design, such as if a piston ring breaks, problems arise. Those problems could be minor or they could even be fatal. When something goes wrong within a human cell that is counter to its design, problems also arise. As with the engine those problems could be minor or they could be fatal. One example of something going wrong at the cellular level is cancer. Here is an explanation of cancer from the National Cancer Institute:

The body is made up of many types of cells. These cells grow and divide in a controlled way to produce more cells as they are needed to keep the body healthy. When cells become old or damaged, they die and are replaced with new cells. However, sometimes this orderly process goes wrong. The genetic material (DNA) of a cell can become damaged or changed, producing mutations that affect normal cell growth and division. When this happens, cells do not die when they should and new cells form when the body does not need them. The extra cells may form a mass of tissue called a tumor.

It does not take much of an imagination to understand that major problems would arise if God no longer held together those forces He used when He made our atoms, our molecules and our cells. If the electrons stopped orbiting around their nuclei we would be in deep trouble just like we would be if the earth stopped orbiting around the Sun. In fact…

 If God suspended the forces he used in Creation, the entire universe would disintegrate.

Earlier, the importance to earth of gravitation was discussed. Now, take a look at some facts about its importance to our bodies. Man’s travels in space, including to the moon, took the astronauts away from the full force of earth’s gravitation into what is sometimes called microgravity. Those activities have already revealed that less gravity does impact our human bodies. Following is a specific example.

In December 2011, U.S. astronaut Don Pettit launched from Kazakhstan in a Russian Soyuz space capsule and arrived at the International Space Station, where he spent the next 191 days. While there, Pettit orbite4d the Earth 3,088 times and witnessed the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon, the first commercial craft to dock at the ISS. He also experienced significant physiological changes. Extended periods of low gravity lead to bone density loss and heart shrinkage. When Pettit returned to Earth in July, his body could not endure even minor physical exertion in normal gravity, so the ground crew carried him to a nearby medical tent for routine post-spaceflight examinations. Research has shown that astronauts’ muscle tone improves after a few weeks, but their bone density may never return to pre-spaceflight levels.[5]

While some of the effects of weightlessness have already been identified, enough is known to suggest that we do not yet know enough. NASA and its fourteen international partners will be doing more research on the effects of long-term spaceflight on the human body in the International Space Station.

  • Our bodies are designed to take care of the earth’s gravitational effects upon the fluids within us. When that force is present to a much lesser degree it can result in stuffy noses, headaches and, puffy faces.
  • Bone calcium and phosphorous are excessively excreted in body waste during weightlessness which can result in bone loss, urinary stones and bone fracture.
  • When a spacecraft is in orbit the muscles of astronauts weaken.
  • At least sixty percent of astronauts experienced symptoms of motion sickness after being weightless. 
  • Red blood cells transform into a different shape during long-term space missions.
  • While in space bodies are subject to more space radiation because they are less protected from such by earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field.   
The importance to earth of its atmospheric pressure was also discussed earlier. Now let’s look at the importance to human bodies.

Astronauts work in dangerous environments and face many possible dangers, one of which is a punctured space suit. Not only would the loss of oxygen be deadly but the loss of atmospheric pressure would cause the body’s water to vaporize and to try to escape, the lugs would collapse and circulation would shut down.[6]

The Lockheed U-2 spyplanes, first flown in 1955, continues to be flown today by the U.S. Air Force. It is a reconnaissance aircraft that can operate at 70,000 feet and became publicly famous in connection with the Gary Powers incident in 1960 when a U-2 was shot down while over Soviet territory. While it continues to prove extremely useful in gathering information around the world, flying so high has a cost—altitude-induced decompression sickness. Decompression sickness is a problem long ago connected to divers who arise from depths too rapidly and is a, “condition arising from dissolved gases coming out of solution into bubbles inside the body” due to depressurization. “Since bubbles can form in or migrate to any part of the body, DCS can produce many symptoms, and its effects may vary from joint pain and rashes to paralysis and death.”[7]

Pilots can experience the same physical reactions by flying up into the thin air at high altitudes. U-2 pilots are especially at risk, not just because of their extreme altitude but also because their cockpits are only partially pressurized. The pressure in a U-2 cockpit at typical mission altitude is equivalent to the atmosphere at 29,000 feet—as high as the summit of Mt. Everest.” Before 2002 no cases of altitude-induced decompression sickness severe enough to hinder U-2 operations were reported. However, that has changed due to the pilots flying more often, longer flights, and a change in work activities while flying. The loss of sufficient atmospheric pressure by U-2 pilots has resulted in symptoms such as: itchy skin dots caused by capillaries breaking under the strain of nitrogen bubbles, severe knee pain, headaches, nausea, extreme fatigue, hallucination, long lasting or permanent brain damage, and blacking out while flying.[8]

The situations cited in this essay are just a small sample of how important is the truth described in by Paul in Colossians 1:16-17.

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him.
            And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

That is something special and we need to thank Him for not only making it that way but, also for ‘holding it all together.’ 

[1], February, 2013.
[2] The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates, AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, 1994.
[3] Matthew Henry’s Commentary, In One Volume, Leslie Church, Ed., Zondervan, 1961.
[4] IVP New Testament Commentary Series, Grant R. Osborne, Ed., Inter Varsity Press, Downloaded from
[5] Popular Science, November 2012, p. 10.
[6] Popular Science, November 2012, p. 55.
[7] Wikipedia
[8] Air & Space, April/May 2012, “Killer at 70,000 Feet,” p. 42-47.