Failure in the First Degree

John 1:6-18

There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. He came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him, and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.”‘ For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”

How do we know when it’s time for change? Hopefully it is before it is too late. Hopefully we hear, see and heed the warning signs. In our current cultural climate, rather than heed the warning signs, we have doubled down on our dubious dogmas. Seeing significance in our situations, coupled with the ripping of verses out of context, we have created a scandalous scenario in which Jesus is forced to come rescue us by a rapture. Things have changed so much in the past few months that we believe this to be proof positive that Jesus is right at the door, about to rescue his bride from the clutches of cultural Marxism. Problem; actual Marxism has existed for over a hundred years and Jesus didn’t rescue those under its heavy hand. What makes us so special? 1948 and or 1967, depending on which prophecy pundit one pays attention to. Second problem; what if you are reading this 40 years from now?

Let’s see if I can get myself shadow banned by Google, the machine behind WordPress. First, by complaining about the forced changes by an alleged “pro choice” entity. Second, by writing against classical and cultural Marxism. I believe that the best way to not get shadow banned is to write about being shadow banned. The reasoning is that if I am shadow banned I can then prove it to the unbelievers, as I have a record of my posts.

Moving on; I am afraid that the time for change has come and gone–at least for the time being–to my generation. My beliefs are Biblically based but we will get to this later. For now, let’s look at our current cultural climate in the United States of America, which seem more divided than ever (yes, my grammar is correct). And worse yet, there is a great division within the church. America can go down in flames and probably will but the church is supposed to be unified–we are not. Remember that Jesus prayed for his disciples to be one? Also, remember that the gates of hell won’t prevail over the gathering of God’s people? We will get back to this. How did we get to this point of extreme divisiveness and division? We hit that at which we aimed; just like apostate Israel.

Jesus warned Israel not to be like Israel in the Sermon on the Mount and Paul repeatedly warned the budding church not to be like Israel, especially in 1 Corinthians 10. Israel failed to heed the warning signs and the church in America has also failed to heed the warning signs. This is what John wrote about in the very beginning of his gospel account.

There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. He came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

The CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics: Context, Aspirations of Author, Genre, Examples and Divide rightly.

What do we know about John the Baptist? We have to explore other examples in the Bible of not only John the Baptist but the prophecies about John the Baptist. We can read on in John’s gospel account, how John the Baptist described himself.

“I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD,’ as Isaiah the prophet said. I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know. It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”

Matthew recorded; “Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, “MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!”‘ Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather belt about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, “We have Abraham for our father;” for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. And His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.'”

Jesus points his disciples to the book of Malachi concerning John the Baptist. “‘Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD, as in the days of old and as in former years. Then I will draw near to you for judgment…Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.'”

Noah building an ark was a really big warning sign which was not heeded. Sodom and Gomorrah were warning signs, the diaspora of Israel and siege of Jerusalem were really big warning signs to Judah and yet these massive events pale in comparison to John the Baptist. I know what you are thinking, “how could John be a bigger sign than an ark which only saved 8 people and took a hundred years to build?” Because Judah should have been looking for John–the prophets promised him.

What’s worse, after failing to recognize John the Baptist, they subsequently did not recognize Jesus. John the Apostle writes, “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.”

Matthew elaborated on this from the very beginning of his gospel account. “[Herod] gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, began to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born. And they said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet, “AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER, WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.”‘”

They knew the Scripture of the prophet but did they or Herod go to find the Messiah? No, they left that to foreigners from another nation. “His own did not receive him.” Another warning sign missed.

John the apostle agrees with John the Baptist, notice; “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father;’ for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

John the apostle wrote; “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

All the promises made to Israel came, with warnings, but they did not heed the warnings. Nevertheless God is not only patient but very patient. He continually sent warnings and after the warnings were not heeded, he sent more warnings. He also brought them back to the land, had them rebuild the temple and the walls of the city. The prophecy pundits proclaim that all of this will happen again but Jesus proclaimed that because they didn’t heed the multiple warnings, their house was being left to them “desolate.” Jesus also proclaimed that he was “coming” against them in judgment, in their generation. John the Baptist proclaimed this as well; “the axe is already laid at the root of the tree.” Zechariah prophesied about this as well when he saw the curse of the flying scroll. John the apostle proclaimed this as well, in the very introduction to Revelation.

“BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth [land; he is talking about Israel] will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen.”

How do we know that John wrote this about Israel? Context, aspirations of author, genre and especially exegesis of examples.

Zechariah 12 reads; “And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born. In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. ”

John the apostle also quotes this passage after the crucifixion in John 19. But in Revelation he couples it with Daniel 7. “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.”

Jesus quoted this to the high priest during his illegitimately illegal trial. “hereafter you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”

Ergo; John the apostle is confirming in Revelation what he wrote in his gospel account and what John the Baptist said; “the axe is already laid at the root of the tree.” God was extremely patient with them but his patience had worn out. They were stubborn and unrepentant. Judgment thusly came relatively swiftly from that point on. Nevertheless with the curse of the flying scroll, came the blessings to faithful Israel.

John baptized with water, but Jesus baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire. Sorry pentecostals, the fire is not speaking in tongues but rather, judgement. Consider all of this continuing context. With blessings to the faithful of the Holy Spirit, judgement of fire came against the unfaithful. Jesus came to save the nations but also came to separate the sheep from the goats–the wheat from the chaff. He came to “thoroughly clear his threshing floor.” The Bible truly is a tale of two cities–Israel failed to heed the warning signs.

So much so that John, very early in his gospel account, wrote the following: “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”

Notice that John brings the reader back to the Law and Moses and then states that “no man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”

Moses was a man and no man has seen the father. But even some evangelicals say that Moses saw YHWH, which he did but they believe YHWH to be the Father. John clearly and emphatically states that YHWH was the pre-incarnate Christ. Moses saw Jesus and his face had to be veiled because the reflection of Christ’s glory was too intense for the people. Therefore, those in the generation of Jesus should have recognized Jesus, because he was the one who gave them the Law and prophets, the plans for the tabernacle and temple and came against their fathers in judgment, several hundred years prior.

History repeats itself. Nevertheless their will not be another repeat of judgment against Jerusalem, despite the promises of the prophecy pundits. That is, Jesus did to that generation what he promised to do during their generation. He came, preformed signs and wonders, gave them the Law on the mountain, was crucified and rose again, gave his disciples the Great Commission and ascended to the righthand of the father and was given a kingdom and dominion which will not pass away. We’ll come back to this. First, let’s look at the retelling of the Law on the mountain, as it relates to what John wrote about his own not recognizing or recieving him.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Notice the all caps and the fact that the second part of the quote Jesus quoted, is not in all caps. It was never the word of God to hate one’s enemies. Jesus was pointing out the co-mingling of the word of God and the precepts of man. One small example of how the hierarchy of Judah was corrupt. Even so, Jesus expands and expounds on the Law of Moses. Love your neighbor, also includes, love your enemies. Ironically, the hierarchy didn’t heed the warning. They declared the Law giver an enemy and eventually put him to death. Jesus decimated the dogmatic Pharisees and scribes in his sermon on the mount. Nevertheless they doubled down on their dubious dogma. They neither recognized him nor heeded his words.

But what about us, do we listen to his voice or the voices of the prophecy pundits? Generally, we listen to anyone but the voice of the Lord. We approach his words via the words of another. I don’t want to be another in the long line of people placing their opinions on Scripture. I want everyone to read the Bible for themselves and learn for themselves. All I ask is for people to use a hermeneutical tool such as the CAGED method. Read the Bible as it was written and let the Scripture interpret Scripture. Seek your daily bread and not a daily crumb. This keeps us meditating on the Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus said, “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who are in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.”

The grammar is correct, God is plural. Notice also that the person praying is to pray for the kingdom to come on earth–do we truly believe that? We should, Psalm 2 and Daniel 7 promise this. Jesus is given a kingdom that will never pass away.

Jesus said, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Honestly, I never understood what Jesus was saying, until now. Gates are not an offensive weapon but defensive. The church, better stated, the gathering of God’s people, overwhelm the gates of hell. But nowadays we are on the defense, rocking back on our heels and building walls ourselves–why? Because we don’t consider the context and what Paul wrote.

“For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? And if the first piece of dough be holy, the lump is also; and if the root be holy, the branches are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you.”

Israel missed the myriad of warnings–are we finding the evangelical church in the west in a similar scenario? Are we looking for a rescue that is not coming rather than being about the business of God? Does the evangelical church look like an organism that will overpower the gates of hell?

When did the erosion begin? How did we end up more divided than in the past? Not ironically we started to spiral into apostasy when we were taught that the church goes into apostasy. The building of hospitals, universities, and schools has been all but abandoned, except for the dogmatic dispensationalist degree programs. I could go off on the tangent of tangents right now but it wouldn’t help heal, yet. Eventually we will have to route out the problem but I choose to let it fizzle out, for now. That is, things are likely to get worse if we expect them to get worse. But some astute students in the future will debunk dogmatic dispensationalism due to the date. If 1967 is the beginning of the last generation, by 2068, using the process of elimination, they will be forced to take a second look at Biblical prophecy and the apocalyptic address.

I’m dreaming; dogmatic dispensationalism will never die due to the doubling down of the prophecy pundits. The fig tree generation was to have begun in the early 1900’s with the Balfour declaration. But the the doubling down began as time ran out. 1948 and the declaration of independence of Israel became the new leaping off point. Then after time went by sans rapture, 1967 and the capture of Jerusalem became “this generation.” But that was over 40 years ago–a “Biblical generation–” at least 40 years was a Biblical generation to the dogmatic dispensationalists but as the time passed by, it didn’t fit the prophecy pundits’ narrative. Now we are hearing 70 years and even 100 years are a Biblical generation. Shouldn’t the fact that they are consistently wrong about dates and times be enough for us to question any of their “insights?” Like Israel, we miss the warning signs.

Let me rant about the blood moons, again, while I am on the subject. What happened during the “four blood moons?” Nothing, if anything, most people’s lives got better. It’s only well after the “four blood moons” that a shift has happened. Of course they’ll do some mathematical gyrations to prove that this was predicted by the blood moons.

Nevertheless we don’t need to discredit them to see what the Bible truly says. Ripping verses out of context is not translating. Keeping verses in the context and seeing how certain imagery is used throughout the Bible is translating. While the dogmatic dispensationalists claim that they “translate” the Bible literally, to them swords and shields become guns and bombs and locusts become attack helicopters, among many other departures from the literal translation.

The point of all of this is to see what John wrote. Jesus is God, one with the Father and eternal. He came to his own blood relatives but the majority didn’t recognize him. However, some did and to them God granted grace upon grace and these faithful Jews became like Abraham, fathers to us. Israel of the flesh missed the Messiah and we are taught that they should have because Jesus did not fulfill the Law and prophets. Problem; in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that he came to fulfill the Law and prophets. Jesus didn’t say that he would come back to fulfill the Law and prophets but that he came to do so. They missed it and we missed it.

Racial tensions, an overblown political virus, riots, looting, murder, mayhem and the like have nothing to do with the world going to hell in a handbasket. Rather they are warning signs to the church that we have a long way to go. We are reaping what we have sown. We wanted apostasy to hastened a rapture–we have reaped apostasy.

Do not take my word for it. Read the Bible for all its worth. Start fresh and put aside preconceived notions. Unless you are learning for yourself you only know what you have been taught. This is exactly what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount and what John wrote early on in his gospel account. Think about it, God sent the prophets who proclaimed the coming of a frontrunner to the Messiah and the Messiah but the people recognized neither. Recognize the signs of our times. Not that Jesus is coming soon but that we, like Israel, let the precepts of man trump the word of God.

Nevertheless I believe that it is too late for me and my generation. Again like Israel, God is very patient but his patience has a tipping point. However it is not God’s tipping point that caused the calamity to fall on Judea and Jerusalem but the stubbornness of the people. In the same way, I don’t see my generation changing their minds. I certainly don’t see the preceding generation changing their minds. Therefore to all the young people, those who have fled the church because we promised Jesus was coming very soon; forgive us. Change your worldview and align it with Scripture and not cultural Marxism. When you were a toddler watching Veggietales, we not only let you believe that David was a weakling and a tiny asparagus, we told you that Jesus was coming any day. It’s not of any wonder then, why you have left the church. We did evangelism without discipleship and eschatology without careful consideration of the context–we didn’t remember the poor but created gospel ghettos. Don’t be like us and certainly don’t cling to Marxism. Fight the good fight and finish the race. Jesus is the King of kings, keep it that way. Israel, baby boomers and generation X, failed to see the signs and the fulfillment. Even being forewarned, we missed the signs. Consider the context and see the sublime string woven throughout the Bible and then live your faith outloud.

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