Thursday, January 9, 2014

Trapped Spirits and the Loss of Hope

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

“Sir, your blood oxygen level is 74 %, which is very dangerously low…we have to get you to the hospital ASAP!” This was said to me two weeks ago when I visited my doctors office. I was struggling to breathe, and for good reason—I had pneumonia. It was the sickest I have ever been in my entire life, and I could easily have died, especially with my heart problems. I spent several miserable days in the hospital as they fought to control the infection and get oxygen in my system. I was scared, because it was so difficult to breathe and I felt like any second my heart would go into cardiac arrest (I have a pace/defib in my chest).

It was impossible to get comfortable, and as I said, I wrestled with fear—not of death, but the dying well as I did not want to leave my children yet. The potential of death was thrust in my face, like never before. I have a strong assurance of my salvation—not based on my faith, but on the OBJECT of my faith—the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Hence, I do have hope, and it was deeper than any fear that I experienced.

It is impossible to exaggerate how crucial hope is to the biblical message of salvation. Faith, hope, and love…Hope is not to be understood as the word is commonly used today, as wishful thinking. No, biblical hope is certain faith applied to the future. Remember the spiritual “Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home...”? Certainty!   That is hope. We die in Christ, and then we immediately join Him in heaven. We are to be certain of that, because hope is soaked in the blood of the finished work of Christ.

The question I have is this: how is it possible to live with a solid, soul-comforting hope, if the prospect (no matter how remote) of being trapped here after death is hanging over your head? The notion of trapped spirits vitiates or destroys hope. You can’t have your hope-cake and eat it too. You cannot believe in trapped spirits and (if you are consistent), experience deep hope.

I have stated elsewhere that the notion of trapped spirits is hostile to every major biblical doctrine. If you are a Christian, how can you live with such a monstrosity?  This notion is a hope-robber, and that should raise a red flag. It kills, steals, and destroys hope.

Due to this close run in with death, I have lost patience with those who espouse trapped spirits but do not have the courage to acknowledge what is manifestly clear—we all should live in fear… if we are consistent with basic ghost formation theory. Unless you are excited or turned on about the prospect of being trapped in a paranormal gutter world, then the only logical position is fear, or hope-lessness. Hope—biblical hope—is impossible to enjoy if ghosts are real. It is as simple and profound as that.

One thing I admire about the atheistic, existentialists Camus and Sartre is that they had guts to be consistent. If God is not there, then life is utterly meaningless. Where is the same guts in the paranormal community? When is someone going to say,”Ya know, what we believe undercuts all hope.”? The notion of trapped spirits gets folks all jazzed because it allegedly proves an afterlife. Well, what about that after-life? If there is any element of violence (or whatever) in one’s death, then their entry into heaven will potentially be derailed into an indeterminate amount of time trapped here. That is a high price to pay for allegedly proving the after-life (which it doesn’t).

There is not one scrap of evidence that ghosts exist. NONE. There is a ton of real paranormal activity happening which is being mis-identified as ghostly, but it is demonic. If you will simply take the time to test the spirits you will see that this is factual. Which of you is messing with the spirit world and NOT having problems (like paranormal activity of your own)?

It has been said that one cannot live well until they are certain that they will die well.  That is, hope is needed in order to live with fullness of joy in the present. You may live in happy inconsistency with your beliefs. But if you become consistent, then you should become miserably insecure. Your hope is empty and groundless. If the only way you can live with your beliefs is by “side-stepping” it, then perhaps you should re-consider that belief…seems logical to me. But logic is a rare commodity in the paranormal community, when it comes to examining its core beliefs.

What of the eight year old child who was murdered in Boston? I have nothing but contempt for the notion of trapped spirits, because HE IS A PRIME PROSPECT (according to ghost theory). You say you believe in trapped spirits…you assert with confidence that a violent death is the cause of entrapment…congratulations, you just stripped the child’s parents of hope. Have the damn guts to apply your beliefs consistently. If this were done, then think of the millions of Americans who have died violent deaths through the centuries. The consequences would be unspeakably horrific.

Having almost died myself, I know how crucial hope is. My stay in the hospital would have been unbearably dark if I had harbored the smallest doubt about my soul getting stuck here. I have no patience for the miserable waffling in the paranormal community. Do you believe in ghosts? Then have the courage of your convictions and lament the death of hope. Better yet, repent of your rationalistic/autonomous thinking, and bow before the God of the bible—who will give you true hope.

How the Devil uses Legalism at Christmas

By Lisa Grace

I attend services with a congregation that observes the seven festivals mandated by God. Even the prophet Isaiah mentions these will be observed in heaven.

Unfortunately, there are several festivals (and many more if you include such commonly observed days as the Lent season or Epiphany) or holidays we celebrate: Purim, Hanukkah, Resurrection day (commonly called easter the English translation of the pagan goddess ishtar.), Christmas, weddings, dedication days, baptisms, etc., that some say we shouldn't celebrate.

Many legalistic Christians like to fall back on the prophet Jeremiah 10:1 - 6 where Jeremiah is talking about following the custom of worship of false gods. ( Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: 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. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.)
So the tree is neither good nor evil, and cutting it down is a waste of time. I think this is why many have migrated to plastic ones.

Since the Jewish religion sacrificed animals, he couldn't use that as an example of how not to worship heathen gods, so he picked one the Jewish people did not do at the time, which was the cutting down and decorating of trees to the false gods. He goes on in further verses making it clear these trees can do neither good nor evil, and that these false gods will be forgotten, Jer 10:10 Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. which they have been forgotten.

For the last four hundred years or so though, Christmas trees have not been associated with false gods, but have almost exclusively come to signify the promise in Christ of life everlasting. Instead of taking these verses out of context, read the whole of Jeremiah starting at the first chapter, and it becomes clear it was about the Jews turning away from God, and you can see time and time again how Jeremiah laments the Jewish people chasing after pagan gods.

Taking Jeremiah out of context is a perfect example of how legalism can be used by Satan.
Let's look at what Jesus did. Did Yeshua (Jesus) celebrate other traditions not ordained (like the seven) by God in the Torah? Yes.

We know He celebrated at weddings, the festival of lights: Hannakuh, and Purim. We know He attended dedications, and was all for baptism (He even had one Himself when He was thirty, and was dedicated Himself at the temple eight days after His birth as was the custom.) Therefore we can conclude Yeshua (Jesus) was all for observing traditions that included and honored God.

What about His birthday and resurrection?
I run across legalistic Christians who seem to think celebrating these momentous occasions is wrong, or even a sin. They go as far as to say the celebrations of these events are pagan, but are they?
Let's look at Biblical proof. First from the word of Yeshua Himself. The Lord's Prayer offers the first proof. "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:9-13 KJV).

So was Yeshua's birth celebrated in Heaven? Yes.
Luke 2:9-17: And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
Then in Luke 2:20: And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

We are to celebrate, share and make known to all people OUR SAVIOUR is Born! The angels even describe how He will be dressed, in swaddling clothes lying in a feed trough! Certainly the angels were commended by God to release that tidbit of information because He wanted the Saviour found, worshiped, and praised. What kind of witness are we if we ignore His birth, the one the angels were commanded to come down and reveal to us through lowly shepherds? Is this news we keep to ourselves?
1) The angels rejoiced at his birth.
2) The angels were commanded to give the message and then told the shepherds to make the birth of the Savoir known to all people.
3) Christmas is the celebration and time to make known to all people the birth of our Saviour.

How does Satan (the adversary) use legalistic Christians to pervert the news of the Saviour's birth and the celebration of the news we are to spread?

The timing we celebrate
Many legalistic Christians say we shouldn't celebrate on December 25th because it falls so close to the winter solstice (December 21st in 2013, 2014, and 2015), which was commonly used to worship pagan Gods.

The truth is—any day is just as good as any other because we do not know what date it was. And if we followed God's calendar, the lunar cycle, the date would change from year to year anyway. It's legalistic to get caught up on a date since it wasn't revealed by God, it is not the "date" that is important to Him. There are plenty of times dates are revealed in the Bible.
The fact is, we do not know exactly what day Yeshua was born on. We can trace back what day he died on. However, the Jewish calendar, (God's calendar) is a lunar one, which means it does not follow closely the Roman one which is in common use today.

Yes, Yeshua was not born in the winter. The fact is we do not know what day or month He was born in. We can narrow it to a season. Roman tax season, which would be April, May or June.
So yes, the middle church picked a date close to the winter solstice to celebrate the Lord's birth. The winter solstice is not on a set date, it changes according to the movement of the sun. It fell on December 21st, 2013 and will fall on December 21st again in 2014. Sooo if you're going to be *legalistic* be aware that Christians are not celebrating it on the pagan celebration day, but four days later.

If Satan can get legalistic Christian to forsake celebrating our Lord's birth, and spreading the joy and peace they were commanded to, then Satan wins. Silencing the church is a work of Satan.

Pagan Elements are Integrated into Christmas
This is the most common argument used against celebrating our Lord's birth.
Who made creation? God.
Who said it was good? God.
What perverted it? Satan, sin.

Romans Chapter 1 is a powerful treaty against those who know God and see the works of His hand, then pervert it, and become "the inventors of evil things" Romans 1:30. Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things

That is what pagans do.
They take the creation and make it into the creator, or assign God's creations unholy meanings and attributes they have never had or were not intended to have.

By saying, "Well, trees were used for pagan purposes so we can't use them now to honor God" is ludicrous. The earthly Ark of the Covenant was made from a tree, so was the cross! A Christmas tree should do the same thing, be a reminder of our Awesome God. Satan stole it for a time with the use of pagan gods who are now forgotten BUT God takes back His creation to be a reminder of His ultimate sacrifice. If God did it by using trees for the ARK and the cross, we should take back His creation and use it for the purposes it was intended for: to scream there is one true God, He is magnificent, and worthy to be praised, and remembered for His humbling Himself to be born of an unwed mother, born in a lowly borrowed barn, and lain in a feeding trough among cow and sheep food.

As Christians we can stand firm and boldly profess that the creation is God's handiwork. If we don't he will replace us with stones! (Keep reading to see what I'm referring to.)

Pharisees were the equivalent of the legalistic Christians we find today.
In the book of Luke we come across an impromptu gathering of Yeshua's followers. They were so happy their Saviour and King was here they threw an impromptu parade and celebration for Him. Waving fronds, lining the road with their cloaks. They were showing their love, joy, praise, and respect for their King. (Just like we do at Christmas!)

And what did the Pharisees say to Jesus about this impromptu celebration?
Luke 19: 39: And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

Interesting point here, the Pharisees admitted (by calling them disciples) that they were doing His will.

What was Jesus' answer to the legalistic Pharisees?
Luke 19:40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

Praising the one true God is never wrong. This can not be stated enough. If you are rebuking someone from worshiping the one true God, you just might be legalistic.

What should Christians do?
1) Use every opportunity to turn people back to God.
2) Remove pagan elements from your celebrations. There's no need for a Santa Claus or an Ishtar bunny. Bring the celebrations back to what God intended. Celebrating Jesus' birth, resurrection, baptism, sacrifice.
3) If you are legalistic, think about Jesus' admonishments. If someone is using an opportunity to praise God, do not be a stumbling block. Praise God even louder, instead.
Satan will use legalism as a tool to turn baby Christians away, and fool weak believers into thinking their righteousness is anything more than filthy rags. Remember, Eph 2:8-9 It is by grace and faith alone, salvation is a gift of God. Law is a mirror to condemn, and you can bet that's what legalistic Christians are using the law for, to condemn others. But when they do, the mirror of the law is condemning them.