EBible Fellowship Sunday Bible Study – 15-Jun-2008


by Chris McCann


Last week we were talking about persecution and we were discussing what persecution is in the Bible or what the Bible’s definition of persecution is.  It really has to do with “following after.”  This is basically the Biblical definition of persecution. 

Historically, Pharaoh followed after Israel after Pharaoh had let Israel go.  This was after God had destroyed Egypt through the plagues.  Pharaoh and his army then chased Israel to the Red Sea where they wound up perishing.  The word “persecution” is also translated in the Old Testament as “pursue,” as Saul “pursued” after David. 

So historically, literally, these men chased God’s people.  King David was a child of God.  Saul was also an Israelite, but he was not a saved person and he chased or “pursued” after David constantly.  Even David said, “I know that Saul is never going to give this up.”  Pharaoh and the Egyptians “pursued” when it was beyond reason, when it was beyond understanding why they would continue to chase after the Israelites.  They “pursued” them until their end, until Pharaoh and the Egyptians were drowned in the Red Sea. 

In our day, this pursuit continues after God’s people by those who just cannot seem to give up the chase.  They just cannot seem to let the Gospel, the true Gospel, and those who follow the true Gospel, alone.  They are constantly with their “ear to the wall,” so to speak.  They are constantly trying to hear what the latest teaching is in order to criticize, in order to mock, in order to revile. 

As we think about this, we know that this is not what God’s people do because true believers really have very little, if any, interest in false gospels and false teachings.  We know what is going on out in the world because the Bible tells us this, and we know what is going on in the churches, with tongues and falling over backwards and all kinds of other types of gospels that have added to the Word or subtracted from the Word.  We are aware of these things, but we do not tune it in on a TV station nor do we write to these pastors.  We are not trying to correct them, because believers are concerned with truth.  True believers are concerned with the true Gospel and publishing that Gospel in the world, not with finding fault with wrong gospels. 

Sometimes we find people who basically have made it their life’s goal to correct those who have gone astray.  At this point, you have people who really are involved in “persecution.”  But this in no way is doing God’s will or God’s work, because this is not God’s will for His people.  God’s will for His people is to bring the true Gospel to the world. 

Sometimes when you hear about these groups and these people, you come to realize that many of them have been affiliated with Family Radio in the past.  Now, however, it seems that they have no interest in discussing the truth.  They only seem to come to life when they can defame and when they can revile and when they can find fault, they think.  This is basically most of their interest. 

So God tells us that His people will have “persecution” in the world.  This is the nature of the child of God’s life, the true Christian’s life in this world.  This really is evidence and confirmation that we are going the right way when people are so troubled and concerned with the doctrine that we are teaching that they are constantly trying to assail it and attack it. 

Well, we were also talking about the nature of the Great Tribulation, which is a time of great testing.  But I fell into a trap.  I fell into the same trap, I think, that a lot of people did in making too much out of coming out of the church, which happened in 2001, but the latter rain began in 1994.  Since there was a discrepancy in this, I began thinking the same thing, that maybe there should be timelines pointing to 2001 and whether or not this was a very significant point of the Great Tribulation. Some people have even begun to use these two dates as the dividing point, since we know that the Great Tribulation has two parts. 

But this is wrong.  Coming out of the church is a major doctrine and teaching, but it is no more major, really, than annihilation.  Annihilation is a big, big thing that is more of a shocker than the end of the church.  We can see how many churches have fallen away in our day.  There is a lot of evidence and a lot of support for the idea that God is finished with the church age.  God’s people, pretty much, almost right away saw this and began to obey by coming out, even though some are still struggling with it.  But eventually, every one of God’s people will come out of the church. 

We also do not have any timeline that falls in 2007, because that was the point, after many years, when God opened up the understanding of His people.  We now understand that there is no eternal conscious suffering of people in “hell.”  They are judged and destroyed, and that is the end of the unsaved.  They are not going to be suffering forever and ever in “hell.”  This is a major, major doctrine, and it has been ongoing since 1994 that God is just opening up truth from the Bible, whether it be “the faith of Christ” or whether it be the end of the church or whether it be our understanding of the “Resurrection” and the Rapture and of the nature of “eternal judgment.” 

So all of these things are part of God’s testing program at this time.  And do you realize what the testing program of God is really aiming for again, and again, and again?  It is targeting “pride.”  The “pride” that is in those who profess to be Christians. 

When we are learning about these doctrines, this is targeting right at the “proud heart” of man, especially what we have just been learning, especially what we are learning now.  It is something that God has designed to root out and bring to the surface the pride that is inherently in unsaved man’s heart. 

This pride is not in a person’s heart who is saved because God has saved them; therefore, He has given them “a new heart and a new spirit.”  This is why you will find true believers who will, maybe at first, be troubled or they will be shaken.  Yet, because they have a heart that is humble, a heart that God has made to be in submission to His will, they will obey. 

But as we are going on, if anyone is not saved and if anyone has a proud heart, it is going to come to light.  God is really designing these doctrines or this new information that is coming out of the Bible to hit the heart of the “proud.” 

For instance, let us go to Proverbs 18.  It says in Proverbs 18:12: 

Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.

This is true throughout history.  When unsaved man has died, he is “like the beasts that perish” and he is no more.  But still, the final destruction that God has in view is not until the end of the five-month period in October 2011.  At that time, mankind will be completely destroyed.  However, before that destruction, “the heart of man is haughty.” 

There are several words that God uses in the Bible to relate to man’s “pride.”  He will speak of Him as being “lifted up” or “highminded” or “proud” or “haughty.”  All of these words basically mean the same thing. 

Before destruction the heart of man is haughty …

He is “lifted up.”  Yet God is saying that this happens before the destruction. 

Turn over to Proverbs 16:18:

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. 

Again God is saying, “Before destruction,” there is “pride.”  There is “pride,” and we are seeing this. 

Before this five-month period, people are going to be ensnared and trapped by their own hearts, by their own “pride,” because they are not going to be humbled.  They are not going to lower themselves to obey God as He is opening up new information from the Bible. 

Pride” is seen spiritually in many different ways.  For instance, let us turn over to Obadiah.  Obadiah is only a one-chapter book that comes after Amos.  It says in Obadiah 1:3-4:

The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith JEHOVAH.

In these couple of verses, God is speaking of Edom.  Edom especially pictures those who are amongst the churches and congregations, or those who are professing to be Christians.  You see, it is the “pride” of heart that lifts someone up.  So how does this happen? 

Well, when someone develops a gospel or a salvation plan wherein they can get themselves saved, then they have exalted themselves like “the eagleamong the stars,” as God refers to believers, spiritually speaking, as stars in the heaven.  And yet those who develop a manmade salvation plan have lifted themselves way up to be seated “in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” 

Really, you cannot get any higher than this, and yet they believe that they have done this because they are in good standing with their church or because they have accepted Christ or because they were baptized, or for whatever reason.  Whatever doctrine they think has saved them, then that is where God is viewing them from and He is looking at them as those who “exalt themselves” and lift themselves up to “heavenly places.” 

Again, God says in Obadiah 1:4:

Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, …

The person or individuals who have developed a manmade salvation plan can say all they want, “I am saved; I am a child of God; I have security; God loves me; I know I am in a right standing with God,” but God is not fooled.  He knows the heart and He will bring them down on May 21, 2011, especially as many of these people are then exposed.  At that time, their true standing before God becomes exposed, because the Rapture has come and gone and they will be seen to be false professors, those who said that they were Christians and yet were not.  They will be brought low, especially in that day. 

If we turn over to Luke 14, we will see a Biblical principle that we find many places in the Bible.  We read in Luke 14:7-11: 

And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

We can see how God again is indicating that those who lift themselves up are going to be brought down, but those who do not exalt themselves are those who take the lower place.

God speaks of the Gospel like a wedding in many places.  When you are bidden to the wedding, when you hear the Gospel call, when the Word of God has gone out and you hear it and now you are going to respond to the Gospel call, what do you do? 

The Bible tells us that we are sinners who are under the wrath of God and subject to “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” forevermore.  We will be destroyed and never come into being again.  This is the low place. 

When you hear the Gospel, stay right there.  Stay right there and do not try to obtain salvation by doing something or by any effort of your own.  What you can do is you can read the Bible and you pray to God, “Have mercy on me; here I am in this very low place and this is a very humbling place to be.” 

This is why when the Gospel came to Nineveh, they humbled themselves.  I do not know if it actually says that they humbled themselves, but they did put on sackcloth and ashes and cry unto God “if” perhaps they might be spared as they declared, “Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger.”  Therefore, there is this possibility and this is where people who hear the Gospel should be.  

So God has established this principle that those who are humble, those who are abased, those who are low, they are the ones who will be exalted, because the only ones who are going to stay there, waiting on God, waiting on the Lord, are those whom God is dealing with.  This is because this is a very miserable position to be in and a very mournful position to be in.  At some point, everyone else will, therefore, try to exalt themselves to try to get right with God by some means, by doing some kind of work. 

Let us go over to Luke 18.  Beginning in Luke 18:9, we find this parable that we are pretty familiar with of the publican and the Pharisee and how they each came to God, how they approached God.  We read in Luke 18:9-14: 

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

So here is the same idea, the same Bible principle that we come humbly before God.  We do not try to get salvation on our own terms or by anything that we do.  We go humbly to God. 

This is also like the three captains and their fifty who were sent to Elijah.  The first captain and his fifty said to Elijah in 2 Kings, “Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down.”  Then “there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.”  The second captain and his fifty said the same thing, “Man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly.”  Again, “the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.”  The third captain and his fifty came trembling and “fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight.”  He came very humbly, which is the way God would have us go to Him, very humbly, very lowly—not like we deserve anything, because we do not; not like we have earned anything, because we have not. 

We go to God as a miserable wretch, like a rebel that is in the dungeon or in the prison house who is subject to condemnation, to the death penalty that we deserve.  We go beseeching Him if He might pardon us for Jesus’ sake, for Christ’s sake, not for anything that we have done. 

So we can see how God’s Gospel is designed to go right to “the heart of man.”  We can know, just based on all the gospels that are out there in the churches in the world, that man does not like God’s Gospel.  Man does not like the Gospel that brings him low, the one that declares that this is where he has to start, the one that says that he has to wait on God to lift him up.  Therefore, man has developed religions and gospels where they are, spiritually speaking, exalted to salvation, the gospels that say that they are made right with God by doing certain things. 

Well, let us go to Proverbs 29.  This Biblical principle is stated again in Proverbs 29:23:

A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit. 

It really comes down to this.  It comes down to our “pride,” to our proud nature, to the fact that we really do not want God to rule over us.  We do not want to behave ourselves as the creature that we are who must recognize and give honor to the Creator who made us.  We do not want to behave ourselves as a servant.  We do not want to behave ourselves as someone who is bought like a slave and now must do service to His master.  All of this language of the Bible is designed to show us our place, our proper place, in that we are to be humble and not proud, and yet this goes completely against the nature of man. 

Well, let us go to Isaiah 2:10-17.  It says there:

Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of JEHOVAH, and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and JEHOVAH alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of JEHOVAH of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, …

That day, “the day of the LORD,” is May 21, 2011.  It is that five-month period of judgment.  God is saying that “in that day,” He is going to focus on the “proud and lofty.”

… and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall, And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and JEHOVAH alone shall be exalted in that day.

I think that it is very clear what God is planning on doing.  Can you imagine the “proud” man when we get to this five-month period and they were left behind, they were not raptured, they were not taken up? 

Immediately, those who had lifted themselves up “as the eagle” are brought down.  They are brought low and it is obvious.  It will be plain for even the world to see, whether it be the Pope or a bishop or a minister or a pastor or an elder or a deacon or the Christian next door, or whoever.  These people are now brought very low.  It will be seen that God did not save them, that He had not elected them to salvation.  They are unsaved and they are just like anyone else who is unsaved in the world.  They do not have God’s grace or mercy upon them, which is a very horrible and terrible thing. 

Or go to Isaiah 13.  In Isaiah 13:9-10, we read:

Behold, the day of JEHOVAH cometh, …

And again, when we read about “the day of the LORD,” it is this five-month period.

… cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

We know from Matthew 24:29 that this happens “immediately after the tribulation,” and the tribulation is over May 21, 2011.

Now look at verse 11, Isaiah 13:11:

And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. 

This is the time when the Lord will get all the glory and all the honor; whereas man and his wisdom and his doctrines and his gospel will be brought low.  Again and again and again, they will be brought low and humbled at this point because this is what humility is; it is to be low, to be low, not to be highminded, not to think too much of ourselves, but to be low. 

What do we know?  I do not know anything.  I know that much.  I thought that I knew some things about hell, about judgment day, about the Resurrection, about the Rapture.  I thought that I knew those things; but God said, “No, you do not even know that; you do not know any of that.”  I read the Bible sometimes now and I say, “Lord, I am afraid to teach something.  I do not know anything.  I have been proven that I do not know anything.” 

And yet, you see, this is why God is doing it.  This is the purpose behind these revelations at this late hour.  Of course, God has many other purposes.  He has many reasons for sealing up these things that I do not know about, but I do know that one of the reasons is to hit at the heart of man’s “pride.”  Really, this latest test that is coming forth does exactly this because you have to take a step back and you have to say, “All that I thought I knew, I pretty much do not,” and that goes right to man’s pride. 

Turn over to 1 Timothy 6.  It says in 1 Timothy 6:2-4:

And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, …

This word “wholesome” is translated as “sound” in 1 Timothy 1:10 where we read of “sound doctrine,” as well as the word “sound” that we find in Titus where it also speaks of “sound doctrine.”

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, …

This is referring to the Bible.

… and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, …

We have individuals today who are fighting against these doctrines.  Biblically speaking, they “kick against the pricks.”  They are screaming, “Not so, Lord,” when God has said, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.”  If God has made a change in doctrine, then it is “nothing to be refused.”  This is what the Bible says. 

But man has other ideas, “Well I never heard this; it was never taught during the 1,900 and some years of the church age.”  Well, neither was “the faith of Christ.”  Go back and look at the writings of the Reformers, look at all the faithful men in history.  Do you know how much information you are going to find concerning salvation by “the faith of Christ”?  You might find one or two references somewhere—and they probably did not really know exactly what they were saying in those couple of references—yet faith is supremely important, just like hell.  These doctrines are extremely important, yet God kept people, many of them who were believers, in the dark because this was sealed up along with the timing of the end and the end of the church age and eternal judgment. 

So here, God is connecting doctrine to “pride.”  If any man “consent not to wholesome words,” he is “proud”; he is “proud.”  This, I think, is what we are seeing today as many people will not go any further.  They say, “No way; no way.  I have had it.  This is the last straw.”  Of course, they were following all along up until this point; therefore, it makes you wonder whether or not they truly believed the previous teachings.  Were those previous teachings not confirmed to be truth to them?  Now, suddenly, this is it.  This is it for them, and yet God has this principle that I think is really coming into play, as we read in James 4:6:

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

Also, it would not be unlike man to start feeling “proud” because he is exhibiting signs of “humility.”  This would be in keeping with the nature of man to become “proud” over doing something that looks like it is “humble,” and yet that is not the nature of God’s people.  They are “humble” because God has made them so, because the Lord Jesus is “humble” and He gives that heart, the one that is patterned after His own heart, to His people.  God’s people will submit.  They will submit and they will obey, because this is the character of the “new heart” that God has given them. 

Then in James 4:7, we read: 

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

Do not resist God, “resist the devil,” resist Satan. 

We also find a similar statement to this in 1 Peter 5:5-6: 

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: …

This has to do with the Lord Jesus.  Whenever we read about covering, it is His covering.  It is His garment of “righteousness,” it is His garment of “humility,” it is His clothing, because He has saved us.

… be clothed with humility: …

Remember that Jesus humbled Himself “even unto death” when He went to the Cross.

… for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, …

Why does God say, “the mighty hand”?  The “hand” represents the will, and God reveals His will in the Bible, the whole Bible.  “Humble yourselves” under the Word of God.  “Humble yourselves” to the will of God, to the perfect will of God. 

You know, this is a great blessing.  If anyone has been going ahead, beyond what God has told them in His Word, now is a good time to come right back to the starting point, to the dust, to the ashes, to be “under the mighty hand of God,” to be in submission to His will, and to say, “Whatever You say.  Whatever You say, Lord, because it does not matter what I say or what I think.  Your will is perfect.” 

1 Peter 5:6:

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 

And again, when you go low, God says that He will raise you up.  When anyone lifts themselves up, they are going to come down.  This is the Bible’s principle.  Of course, no unsaved person is going to go low in a satisfactory or proper way and in accordance to God’s command. 

Q&A (paraphrased)

Q. Matthew 24:2:

And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

I know that it has been taught that these stones represent the churches, but would it not be more precise to say that they represent those in the churches, kind of like what you were just saying about they are going to be humbled at the beginning of the five months?  In one of the books of Peter, it says that believers are “lively stones.” 

So even as I think I have heard you teach that “the stars” in this chapter also represent those who are identified with the true believers, could it be that these stones represent those who are unsaved but who are identified with the true believers?  I ask this because the word “thrown down” also means destroyed or dissolved; therefore, we know that the unsaved are going to be destroyed.

A. I know what you are saying.  We know that, literally or physically, this is not happening now.  With the church buildings, this is not happening.  So it has to be the corporate body.  As it is standing before God, they no longer have a relationship to God, so they are destroyed and they are cast down.  And I think that it is kind of one and the same for these professing Christians.  They are cast down and so is the church itself. 

I do not know how fine a line we can draw here.  We do know that this verse is saying that there will not be any faithful churches.  There will not be any faithful churches.  A congregation or an individual church somewhere cannot say, “We are faithful.  We obey God’s Word, and so we are still in good standing with God.”  We know that this verse is related to this.  No one can make this kind of a statement before God. 

So what you are saying, I think, relates to this, but I would not say that one is exclusive of the other.  I think both could be in view.

Q. What does the Bible say about a person who is depressed, stressed, full of anxiety, or suffering from a mental illness?  Do you have any verses that cover this?   

A. 1 Peter 5:7, the very next verse that we did not read, says:

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

If we have a problem or if we have stress, it is normally job related or in our family or because people are putting some type of pressure on us.  These are concerns and troubles that most of us have.  So we can go to God and we can pray.  We cannot literally take whatever our problem is and hand it to Him; but in prayer, we can identify the troubles to God and we can say, “Lord, please, this is too much for me.  These people are too much for me.  They are too strong for me.  Help me.  Be my strength”; whatever it is, “Help me just to have peace in this situation.  Help me to not be anxious,” as we read in Philippians 4:6:

Be careful [anxious] for nothing; …

Whenever we find ourselves getting anxious, we can pray this to God and we can say, “Lord, I know that You would not want me to feel this way and to worry and to be afraid, so please give me Your peace so that I will not be anxious.” 

… but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving …

So we can just pray and pray about it.  It may not be taken away instantaneously; therefore, it could be something God has allowed to happen in order to bring us to Him in prayer on a regular basis. 

So if we are having trouble at work or in the subway, yet we have to go to that subway everyday, this means that now we are to continually go to God and pray, “Help me in this situation.”  God could be allowing this so that the person will go to Him more often. 

Q. As Christ ascended into Heaven to return to the Father in Acts 1:11, is this how the Bible explains how the appearance of Christ will take place on May 21, 2011, in that others will see the believers being raptured but they will not see Christ? 

A. I will read the verse in Acts 1:11:

Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

I have not studied this.  I have not spent much time in this verse or looking at the idea of Christ’s return and how it is going to work out, so I cannot answer anything right now at this point.  Lord willing, maybe sometime in the future.