Category Archives: SATAN AND HIS POLICY OF EVIL

Is there any chance more angels will leave God and follow Satan?

IS THERE ANY CHANCE MORE ANGELS WILL LEAVE GOD AND FOLLOW SATAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No. Nothing in Scripture indicates more angels will rebel against the Creator. It would seem that any angelic rebellion against God has already transpired and will not be repeated. Angels had a one-time chance to follow Lucifer or stay true to God, and that decision was made long ago. The angels that united with Lucifer (when he transformed into Satan) can never return to serve God, and the angels that remained with God will always be faithful to God. That is the simplest explanation.

What stopped that angelic insurrection? In other words, why did not all the angels fall with Satan? Why was there not 100 percent mutiny? Matthew 25:41 appears to answer that question. God created Hell, a place of “everlasting fire,” but never intended it for man. It was “prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Notice the absence of Hell in Genesis 1:1—it was simply Heaven and Earth. Hell was created later, once the angels sinned with Lucifer.) While the angelic ranks were in the process of allying with Satan, God created Hell, which stopped further fallout. Hell is such a dreadful place that, once the angels saw God constructing it, they did not side with Satan. It was too late for the ones that already moved to Satan’s side but the ones on God’s side stayed on God’s side. When man sinned against God in Genesis chapter 3, aligning himself with Satan, he too became an “heir” of Hell. Hell is the prison where all God’s enemies are kept until they are thrown into the Lake of Fire after being judged (Revelation 20:11-15).

Also see:
» Did God give angels free will as He gave mankind?
» Why are lost people not judged for their works immediately after physical death?
» Do people become angels when they die?

Why do the good die young while the wicked are granted longevity?

WHY DO THE GOOD DIE YOUNG WHILE THE WICKED ARE GRANTED LONGEVITY?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Such an inquiry sends chills up and down the author’s spine.

It is ironic, is it not? Productive citizens seem to have their lives tragically cut short. Contrariwise, evildoers appear to stay with us forever. The decent, “straight-A,” teenage student expires in a preventable automobile accident—the drunk driver walks off free to live and kill again. While the benevolent king survives but a few decades, the cruel dictator subsists sumptuously to become an octogenarian. The faithful preacher or Bible teacher dies suddenly; the false teacher or cult leader grows old. Hardworking, caring fathers perish at a young age; deadbeat fathers live on to mistreat their children for decades to come. Loving mothers soon become ill and die—terrible mothers never seem to leave. Responsible children die prematurely; on the other hand, juvenile delinquents live on and on. Dear friends, life is ever so complicated, ever so painful, and ever so unfair. The cause is SIN! SIN! SIN!

Sincere people try to offer comfort in the midst of all the above struggles: “We cannot understand the things of God. He works in mysterious ways.” Friends, stop and think. Does that really provide consolation? Really? Is there actually solace in not understanding such disturbing circumstances? With a Bible in hand, knowing the full counsel of God, could that be the best answer we have? Could we rather search the Scriptures, study verses, and attempt to piece together something more reassuring and more meaningful?

The curse is random. God is not selecting one person for cancer, another for heart disease, and yet another for stroke. He is not causing pain and suffering “to get unpaid tithes in medical bills!” We live in a fallen creation, the result of Adam’s willful decision to follow Satan in Genesis chapter 3. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:….” (Romans 5:12). Consequently, the curse of sin affects us equally but in a unique combination of ways. Whether marital problems, family problems, pregnancy and labor pains, exhausting and nearly futile work, thorns and thistles, disorders and disability, aging, illness, or ultimate physical and spiritual death, the effects of sin are all around us. This is the something that is “wrong” in creation (though most lack the spiritual eyes to identify it, as well as find a solution for it).

We should turn to Romans chapter 8: “[18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. [20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, [21] Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”

Friends, we must “reckon” (verse 18), or reason a certain way. If we are to have any amount of consolation, we will have to think about it the way God Almighty Himself does. There is a glorious eternity ahead for us who have relied exclusively on Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour. He who died for our sins, who was buried to put away our sins, and who was raised again to justify us, we have new life now that will carry on throughout the endless ages to come. Whatever troubles we face now have a limit; they will not last forever. The exact opposite is true of the glory to be revealed in us in eternity future!

No matter who it is—Christian or non-Christian—we all suffer bodily infirmity to some degree. Short of the Lord’s coming, the bodies of all Christians currently living will go to the grave. There will be a few doctor visits, and likely a hospital stay, along the way as well. In light of eternity though, it really does not make any difference for believers in Jesus Christ. These bodies will not last forever anyway. Bodily resurrection and glorified bodies are certain. Regardless of the current state of affairs, the appearance of evil always triumphing over good, it is but temporary. This is not the way things will be forever. Satan is “the god [ruler] of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4): we therefore read about “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). However, one day, the Bible speaks of “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). Until then, we know why we suffer, and we know that this suffering is only temporary for us Christians.

Long, long ago, it was said, “God buries His servants, but not His program.” Indeed! Let us read the two opening verses of the Book of Joshua:Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Moses was certainly dead: his soul has departed his body, and God Himself has buried the corpse (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). Yet, Israel will still enter the Promised Land—except under Joshua’s headship. Had it depended on Moses, it would have never happened. Moses is deceased… but God is living and in control!

While the God of the Bible uses men and women to accomplish mighty things, they are nevertheless bound to frail, temporary “houses of clay” (Job 4:19). He does not shield them from old age and ultimate physical death. Dying King David, another servant of Israel’s God, remarked, “I go the way of all the earth” (1 Kings 2:2). The curse of sin, until the end times, cannot be lifted. Read Genesis chapter 5—and all but one man died therein! “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Thankfully, we as believers in Christ can rest assured in the resurrection promise found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-58.

Moses and David were mighty testimonies of God’s power and grace, so why did He not spare them physical death? Remember, people ask today, “Why do the good die young and the evil live to old age?” Why does God let His servants die? He does not want them to be praised and worshipped. He is showing how it is His program, and He really does not need man’s cooperation. With or without man, God will achieve His goals in creation. He does not need us, but He does invite us to join Him! He wants to share His good pleasure with us, that it may become our good pleasure.

If we do join God’s side by faith, working with Him in His program, let us remember that it is still His program. We are not the issue. Hence, we will have a limited time on Earth to participate in His plan. Brethren, once we physically die and relocate to serve Him in the heavenly places, His purpose down here on Earth will continue (without us!!!!). It never depended on us anyway: it was here long before we were born and will remain long after we are gone. 🙂

Also see:
» What about those who have not heard?
» Where in the Bible did God give Satan domain over the Earth?
» Are we “doom and gloom” prophecy believers?

Should we Bible believers investigate and promulgate conspiracy theories?

SHOULD WE BIBLE BELIEVERS INVESTIGATE AND PROMULGATE CONSPIRACY THEORIES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “conspiracy theory” as “a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for an unexplained event.” By the way, this author is a trained scientist, so he despises the term “conspiracy theory.” It will greatly vex him to continue writing it. The word “theory” should not be abused in this or any other manner. Alas, “conspiracy theory” will be begrudgingly employed throughout the ensuing pages because of its widespread usage and for lack of a better expression. (He is being a tad melodramatic, and cannot help but smile here. Nevertheless, he reminds you, dear reader, to do everything possible to shun using words sloppily.) J

I. A (VERY) BRIEF INTRODUCTION

Are those stringy clouds “chem trails” in the sky a poisoning of the population below? Do certain groups manufacture and control the weather? Who really killed United States President John F. Kennedy in 1963? Did we actually land men on the Moon? Was September 11, 2001 an “inside job?” Does NASA generate its images in a studio? Is the Earth really a sphere or “flat” like a disk? Is it hollow as a shell, or solid/semi-solid throughout? Are the Bilderbergers plotting to bring about a one-world government, a “New World Order,” and/or a “planned economy?” Is the Rothschild family in on it? The Masons? The Illuminati? Is there secret alien technology known only to high-ranking government officials? Could governments be deliberately contaminating public food and water sources?

Conspiracy theories. If we are not careful, friends, we will base our Christian life on this extremely slippery slope. The above statements are just a sample of the weird inquiries besetting innumerable people. Here, we are not so much interested in these views themselves but rather why individuals would propose and maintain them in the first place. In this, our special-edition 565th Bible Q&A, and in celebration of five whole years of “For What Saith the Scriptures?,” we want to concentrate on what God’s Word says about what is really going on in our world. “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). For consistency’s sake, we ask (as we have innumerable times before), “For What Saith the Scriptures?” 🙂

II. CONSPIRACY THEORISTS ABOUND (ALTHOUGH THERE IS ONE LESS)

This author has had many years of experience in dealing with conspiracy theorists. Yea rather, it is highly significant to note that he used to be one himself some years ago. He has many family members, dear friends, and ministry associates entangled in these ideas. Some have abandoned that mindset, while others still remain therein. It is with the gentlest spirit possible that he thus lays out this material, knowing full well that it will likely jeopardize and abolish intimate relationships he has. Howbeit, he is more than willing to let them go for the sake of what he knows to be the unwavering truth of the Holy Bible. The Lord Jesus Christ alone deserves his allegiance, and that is that! Here is what insight he can offer regarding conspiracy theories, those who hold to them so passionately, and how we as Bible-believers can (possibly) reach them. It has been his honor to serve as your Bible teacher here these past five years, and may the Lord Jesus Christ grant him many more here!

III. MASS COMMUNICATION AND MASS CONFUSION

Conspiracy theories have probably been with us from our species’ earliest days. Yet, with additional events in human history, much fuel has been added to the fire. Above all, the increase of mass communication has led to the amplified propagation of that information. Whether print (books, magazines, et cetera), radio, television, or (the most effectual vehicle) the internet, these avenues afford easier access to conspiracy theories. People watch videos online—posted by whomever from wherever, with who knows what background—and believe the material “hook, line, and sinker.” They spread it on social media, where it reaches millions in just a few seconds. How careless and dangerous!

Beloved, just because it is in the news, that does not make it true! Anyone can create websites, post material, and record and upload videos. Such capability alone does not necessitate it be gospel truth. Videos can be edited or doctored, even by seemingly “reliable,” professional news organizations. Sources can be fabricated or non-existent. As far as we know, vulnerable teenagers and senile senior citizens could be moderating some of the websites promoting “the proof that the government is lying about this or that.” Drug abusers and the mentally ill may be writing or speaking that information. It will be a happy day in the lives of billions when they start thinking for themselves and stop relying on strangers to teach them who knows what. Yes, it will be a happy day in the lives of billions when they start reading the Bible for themselves and learning something worthy of their trust!

IV. SEVEN OPENING ADMONITIONS

1. WE ARE TO AVOID FOOLISH AND UNLEARNED QUESTIONS

“But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes” (2 Timothy 2:23). Scripture warns us not to engage in “foolish and unlearned questions.” We should not ask them and we should not answer them. Why? The verse tells us that such queries are not designed to help or build up anyone. They are offered only to generate fights. There is no usefulness or profit, as there is no thoughtfulness undergirding these questions. Furthermore, rather than studying for themselves, people resort to “ignorant questions.” They question everything—one question leads to another and another and another. Questions are designed to lead to answers, but some individuals truly delight in asking for the sake of asking. Hence, they ask the same question dozens of times, expecting a different answer.

Moreover, such souls will not attempt to investigate or think for themselves. They will rather ask others, relegating to them the responsibility of researching. It is this author’s experience that conspiracy theories and their resultant questions create nothing but arguments, do not lead to serious thought or meaningful dialogue, and have no benefit associated with them. They are nothing but fruitless discussions!

2. WE ARE TO AVOID GENERALITIES (AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE)

Conspiracy theorists often have little to nothing substantive themselves to offer in place of the notions they disbelieve and attempt to discredit. A common reckoning of a certain event is said to be “a lie,” and that may be a valid point. However, what do they suggest we use to substitute it? Well, they cannot give us a definite answer, only a variety of non-specific answers, nebulous thoughts and complexities. Dear friend, there is more to life—much, much more to life!—than opposing error. We must arrive at and grasp truth at some point, correct?

If you do not mind, friend, please consider this simple analogy. Suppose you are a student in a college mathematics classroom. The professor writes a problem on the blackboard. She proceeds to show lengthy steps as to how not to solve it. Crossing out all that work, she shows you another example of how not to do the problem. This continues for several minutes, you growing more frustrated. Friend, you never get anywhere. Who cares how not to do the problem? All that matters is how to do it. We want specifics as opposed to generalities. “What shape is the Earth? We do not know, but all we can say is that it is not a sphere! It is flat and circular, as in a disc, or loop, or a cone, or….” (This would be the “Flat-Earthers.”) “Who killed John F. Kennedy? We do not know for sure, but all we can say is that it was not Lee Harvey Oswald!” On and on this could be said about other conspiracies.

 3. WE ARE TO AVOID BEING WISE CONCERNING EVIL

Romans 16:19 says, “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.” The word “wise” is “experienced” whereas “simple” means “inexperienced.” Paul, by the moving of the Holy Spirit, preferred Christians to have more insight into what is right than what is wrong. Sadly, some believers in Jesus Christ study nothing but error, and they practice nothing but sin. They have not given the Bible reasonable time in their study, but they have investigated this group, that group, this sect, that sect. They have not allowed the Holy Spirit to control them, but they have let the world, the flesh, and the Devil dominate them! So much time and energy have been wasted. So much time and energy have been wasted. So much time and energy have been wasted! This especially applies to conspiracy theorists (as well as anyone and everyone not walking in sound Bible doctrine—every unsaved person, every carnal Christian, and every babe in Christ).

4. WE ARE TO AVOID GULLIBILITY

We want to especially shun the appearance of gullibility. Friend, if we gain a reputation of doubting and questioning everything (as conspiracy theorists do and embolden us to do), then who will believe us when we share the Bible? By that time, we will have lost our credibility—which is exactly what Satan purposed in the first place. Rather than him having to put forth effort to discredit us, we do his job for him by disgracing ourselves. More importantly, people attach foolishness to the name of Jesus Christ when they see us entertaining silliness. They remark, “That person will believe anything. No wonder they follow the Bible. I can do without all that nonsense! My life is just fine without some ‘Jesus-loving loony!’” (Friend, you had better think about this 50,000 times before you start sharing rubbish!!)

 5. WE ARE TO AVOID WALKING FOOLISHLY

Ephesians 5:14-18 admonishes us: “[14] Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. [15] See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, [16] Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. [17] Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. [18] And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;….” Rather than behaving riskily, carelessly, we look around, exercising caution in our conduct. We should be exact in our steps, wary of where we put our spiritual feet.

As opposed to puerile thinking, we are filled with wisdom—godly wisdom. The Spirit of God controls us; we are adult children of God, not babies. Colossians 3:16 explains, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” To be “filled with the Spirit” is synonymous with “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” Friend, instead of stuffing our minds and hearts with worldly thinking, speculations and traditions of men, we concentrate on the Holy Bible rightly divided!

Enough time has been squandered because of Satan and his evil plan. If we are members of God’s family, if we have trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, does it make sense for us to behave like we are Satan’s children? No, friend, no! Why should we be wasting time with things other than God’s Holy Word? Yet, that is exactly what we do when we make it our life’s goal, our “Christian” ministry’s goal, to go around exposing this conspiracy and that conspiracy. The Holy Spirit echoes, “Redeem the time, because the days are evil!”

6. WE ARE TO AVOID THE COMBATIVE, STRIVING HEART ATTITUDE

One work of the flesh is “strife” (Galatians 5:20). This contrasts the fruit of the Spirit—“love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (verses 22-23). When the Holy Spirit governs a person’s inner man, these nine fruit will be evident in his or her life. Sound Bible doctrine is at work. Strife—conflict, rivalry, fighting—results in the absence of sound doctrine. At that point, their flesh is running them rather than the Spirit of God. While appearing to be doing right, their heart attitude is wrong. They may be teaching and preaching the truth, but their flesh is motivating them. God would thus disapprove; it is not a good work!

Conspiracy theorists are often aggressive, ready to fight in a heartbeat, because they are outraged. As Christians, this should not be true of us. Second Timothy 2:24-26: “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

7. WE ARE TO AVOID DEIFYING THAT WHICH IS NOT GOD

In the conspiracy theorists’ realm, the government, or some other powerful entity, is portrayed as seemingly omnipotent. Mortal men are presented as gods working behind the scenes to achieve some nefarious end. It is as if the Creator God has no final say; it is ignored that He will allow sinful man to go only so far. The conspiracy theorist, lacking any real depth of Bible understanding, has no hope to offer the troubled souls whom he or she indoctrinates. If the Christian entertains such ideas as making governmental officials to be gods, then the unbeliever sees no purpose whatsoever in believing in the one true God. The Christian has no peace, so why should the unbeliever have anything to do with the God of the Bible? After all, it is more likely that the unbeliever has never even heard of such “wild” conspiracy theories until encountering a “Bible-believing Christian.” Such ill-mindedness will stay with the unbeliever, and may very well cause that soul to shun the Scriptures forever.

V. EIGHT OBJECTIVES OF CONSPIRACY THEORISTS

While all eight are not necessarily true of all conspiracy theorists, they are nevertheless true of at least some. Each conspiracy theorist falls under one of these categories at the bare minimum.

 1. TO HEAR HUMAN VIEWPOINT

The Bible says, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:5-7). Such individuals just want to hear the opinions of men, human viewpoint, religious tradition, false doctrine—anything and everything but the truth. They worship philosophy. Colossians 2:8 reminds us, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” They are like those in Acts 28:22, “But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.” They are interested only in what a man thinks about a certain persuasion rather than asking God’s Word about it.

2. TO INDULGE IN THE SIN OF PRIDE

“Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth” (1 Corinthians 8:1b). Knowing a wealth of information can actually be disadvantageous because knowledge without wisdom can (and often does) lead to pride. Pride, of course, was Satan’s original sin (1 Timothy 3:6; cf. Ezekiel 28:15-16). As opposed to arrogance—lifting ourselves above others—we should practice “charity.” Charity is love in action, seeking the other person’s highest good. The information we learn from the Bible is to then be used to build up our audience. If whatever we are studying does not help them in life, it is worth neither our time nor theirs.

When we promote conspiracy theories, are we truly attempting to enhance the lives of others? This author seriously doubts it. Unless we have something better to offer than what is already there, we need to hush. If the only thing we are sure about is that a certain view is wrong, and we have no clear insight with which to replace it, it is better to stay silent until we have an improved approach or idea. Furthermore, if the Bible is silent about the matter, it is most important to focus on what the Bible does say rather than what it does not say!

 3. TO DECEIVE THE NAÏVE

Dear friend, as stated earlier, we should be careful not to believe everything we hear and read. Just because it is on the internet, that does not mean it is true. Just because it is said at “church,” that does not mean it is true. False teachers often talk about “Jesus.” They read the Bible, and quote it only when it suits their agenda. We should not be “children,” “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.”

Notice Ephesians 4:11-15: “[11] And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; [12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: [13] Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: [14] That we henceforth be no more children, 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; [15] But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:….”

Those “carried about with every wind of doctrine” are trusting, willing to believe this person and then that person, that idea and then this idea, this group and then that group. Conspiracy theories leave people with so many questions that, when all is said and done, they really do not know what to believe. Vulnerable beyond description, they are open to literally any possibility about literally any event. It is possible that they will eventually start doubting Bible accounts. After all, if we cannot trust anything, then we would have no desire to believe the Bible either! (Herein is Satan’s conspiracy, friend!)

4. TO GAIN ATTENTION

Frankly, some conspiracy theorists just seek attention and acceptance. They want someone to listen to them so they have become unhealthily fixated on a very unique idea very few embrace. It gives them purpose or meaning in life. Instead, what they should be doing is focusing on the Holy Scriptures and learning all about the Lord Jesus Christ, what He did for them at Calvary, and whom He can make them. They do not have to be ignorant of His Word unless they choose. Ephesians 1:6 says, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Father God accepts us in His Son, Jesus Christ. We do not have to do anything to gain that acceptance. If no one else fellowships with us, He will and always will! We need not resort to repeating wild tales to get people to like us or attend to us.

 5. TO OBTAIN POWER

Let us read 1 Corinthians 8:1b again, “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” Knowledge without charity (love in action) is a means of gaining power, wielding it as though you were God. Pride will gain an entrance into your life (as we discussed just a little earlier). The attitude can be summarized as, “Look at all this ‘special insight’ I have. So many people believe in those lies but I know the truth about what really happened in that event! I can now go dominate (intimidate) people with that information.” It is a most dangerous position to take, friend, and conspiracy theorists teeter on that slippery slope. Brethren, we Bible believers are not immune from falling into this trap either, so let us guard ourselves! Seeking others’ highest good is the way whereby we avoid gaining the “heartless knowledge” characteristic of intellectual bullies.

6. TO ACQUIRE WEALTH

There is an old adage, “If it does not make sense, there is a buck in it somewhere.” People are out to make money, so they will recycle old ideas and publish them with a new “spin” by distributing new videos, books, and so on. They endeavor not to tell the truth but to exaggerate and embellish in order to gain attention and ultimately revenue. They seek to make a name for themselves with their podcasts, blogs, merchandise, news crews, and seminars. Conspiracy theories are often so convoluted that they often do not make sense, and the reader at this point can figure out why.

7. TO HAVE THE “FINAL SAY”

Conspiracy theorists seem to want to have the final answer for everything. It has not crossed their mind that their sources are wrong and that they indulge in fantasy. Is their information really as air-right as they claim, truthful as they allege, worthy of our time as they say? No, but it is all they have and so they will cling to it—whether it is true or not makes no difference to them (see the previous six objectives).

8. TO BELIEVE THE ULTIMATE LIE

Although claiming to deliver people from lies, and yet, conspiracy theorists have believed the ultimate lie—focusing on anything but the Creator God and His Word. They do not know it, but “deceiving, and being deceived” accurately describes them and all they do (2 Timothy 3:13). As long as they occupy their time with and expend their energy on warning people about this conspiracy and that conspiracy, they have neither time nor energy to study and share sound Bible doctrine with anyone. They engage in reading everything but the Holy Bible. This is exactly where Satan wants them in their understanding; they have played right into his hands. As long as God’s Word is not involved, God’s power is not involved, so Satan does not mind us spreading the speculations of men. It is no bother to Satan at all because we are no bother to Satan at all! Only God’s power can overcome Satan’s work.

VI. THIRTEEN OCCASIONS WE WOULD DO WELL TO ESCHEW

1. AN OCCASION FOR EVER LEARNING (NEVER ARRIVING AT TRUTH)

The Apostle Paul visited Athens, “the city wholly given to idolatry” (Acts 17:16). Idols are everywhere!! Various philosophers hear the Apostle preaching and are interested: “[19] And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? [20] For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. [21] (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)” As we survey the rest of the chapter, there is nothing but unbelief. They have no concern in believing on the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Instead, they “mock” the resurrection of the dead (verse 32). Yet, they asked questions. They wanted to hear some gossip, some “new thing” about which to entertain themselves. Such is the situation with conspiracy theorists—they always want to hear something and learn something but have no real desire to arrive at the truth.

2. AN OCCASION FOR PLAYING MENTAL GYMNASTICS

It is this author’s impression that conspiracy theorists frequently attempt to show how “clever” they are, how “special” they are, or how “enlightened” they are. “The majority of society may be fooled, but not me. I do not believe we ever landed on the Moon. I think Lee Harvey Oswald was a patsy, and not Kennedy’s assassin. I doubt the Earth is a sphere like most claim. I think the government is out to kill us all.” Dear friends, it is not wrong to be a dissenting voice, to hold beliefs contrary to the general consensus. After all, we Christians are in the minority anyway! We King James Bible users are in the minority anyway! We Pauline dispensationalists are in the minority anyway! However, when we start sharing these views in public just to flaunt ourselves, to draw attention to ourselves, to exhibit “mental prowess,” that is nothing but a flesh parade. Friend, we should stay away from that satanic trap! Lastly, outlining a painstaking dismantling of a commonly-held view, but having no solid conclusion yourself, is most silly.

3. AN OCCASION FOR ANTI-GOVERNMENT SENTIMENT

As implied in the definition, an anti-government attitude abounds in a good many number of conspiracy theorists. According to Romans 13:1-8, this attitude should not be true of Christians. If conspiracy theorists can prove somewhere that the government is dishonest, then they are well on their way to justifying anarchy, doing whatever they want, not submitting to any authority at all. Resisting authority—namely, God’s authority—is the heart of sin. Conspiracy theorists are always questioning the government and looking for ways to reduce its existence. While human government is certainly not perfect, God ordained it to maintain societal order and restrict Satan’s policy of evil. In times where human government would cause us to disobey God, then, of course, we are to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29; Acts 4:19). However, it is most unwise to incite rebellion against government by emphasizing conspiracies.

First Timothy chapter 2: “[1] I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; [2] For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” The Christian’s attitude toward government is a life marked by “quiet and peace” as opposed to anger and hostility. Do you know when this passage was written, friend? When the cruel, pagan, malicious Roman emperors were ruling!!

4. AN OCCASION FOR BRAINWASHING

Friend, brainwashing is the most effective tool in tempting people to embrace conspiracy theories. The Oxford English Dictionary says “brainwash” means “pressurize (someone) into adopting radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible means.” This explains the conspiracy theorist’s repetitiveness, or “hobbyhorse riding.” He or she cannot break away from that particular topic, so it becomes an unhealthy obsession. Some leader taught on nothing but that idea. The student now goes forth repeating the example. Such parroting is passed down once the student becomes a teacher. The conspiracy theory is like a rampant cancer, spreading far and wide, inflicting great damage on each new soul it reaches. Sin does not suddenly appear. False teaching does not suddenly surface, either. It is a long process, a slow poisoning, if you will.

5. AN OCCASION FOR FANATICISM

Extremism is dangerous. There is nothing more disagreeable than a religious fanatic, particularly one who is not skilled in the Holy Bible rightly divided. Spiritually speaking, they have lost control. It is spiritual insanity. As you judge the content of the words the conspiracy theorist writes or says, you will see he or she has no moderation. Restraints seem to be few and far between, if present at all. There is a difference between being “open-minded” and just plain irresponsible with thoughts and speech. We, especially as Bible believers, should be ever so careful “not to go off the deep end.” It will surely be self-destruction, both of us as individuals as well as the Lord Jesus Christ whom we claim to serve. Friend, mark these words, and mark them well!

6. AN OCCASION FOR IMMATURITY

Basically, conspiracy theorists need to grow up emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. It is easier to act and think like a child than an adult. They boast in knowledge that is inconsequential to say the least. They sound very childish in their thinking, in the manner in which they elucidate their beliefs, and how they respond to criticism. This is not designed to be an insult but simply a personal observation that must be stated. If it helps, you can think of it as an adult bragging about knowing how to proficiently perform addition and subtraction—when there are much more advanced operations in math such as algebra and calculus!!

Conspiracy theorists have no ability to discern good and evil doctrine, important and insignificant, worthwhile and worthless. Hebrews chapter 5 says of the nation Israel, most immature: “[11] Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. [12] For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. [13] For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. [14] But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Instead of being “skilful” in God’s Word, they are babes. This depicts those who focus on everything but sound Bible doctrine—and that would include conspiracy theorists (and just about all Christians, genuine and merely professing).

7. AN OCCASION FOR DISTORTING BIBLE VERSES

What should concern us is when people intentionally distort Bible verses to prove a point. Some of the most absurd ideas come from—not man’s imagination—but misquoted or perverted passages of Scripture. Friend, you would be totally amazed to see just how dishonest with the Bible some people are in trying to justify their particular belief about a certain “conspiracy.” The primary example is the Flat-Earth Movement (see the link at the end of this study). God’s Word is so twisted to promote a ridiculous idea. If people are mishandling the most important Book in the universe, we would do well not to listen to anything else they have to say! Since they are wrong on the majors, they will be just as dangerous on the minors. If we must change Scripture to support our belief, then the belief is to be discarded and Scripture is to be upheld.

8. AN OCCASION FOR ENTERTAINING MEN’S OPINIONS AND IGNORING GOD’S WISDOM

As note earlier, it is much easier to entertain men’s shallow opinions and speculations than to search the Bible to mine the profound depths of God’s wisdom. We read in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Bible “study” is for a “workman.” It is not for a lazy person or someone who seeks entertainment. “Study” is work; it is effort. Flipping through pages of Scripture, looking for and reading similar phrases and pairing them to form a larger body of information, that is exhausting (if you doubt it, then try it and see, friend!). For some, it is “too much work.” They throw their hands into the air and throw the Bible away! But, if you find an appealing video online about a certain conspiracy, they will sit for hours and hours soaking up that data. There is no thinking involved. They do not have to pick up a book, use higher order thinking skills, listen to the Holy Spirit teach, nothing! Just press “play,” sit back, and let the narrator do all the thinking!

9. AN OCCASION FOR MEDDLESOMENESS

Let us face it, friends. It is human nature to be nosy, to dabble in other people’s business. When we should be focused on straightening out our own lives, we want to boss others regarding the problems in their lives. We find fault with what someone else is doing. “They deceive the public with this lie or that lie.” Meanwhile, we make no effort to check with the Bible to see if what we believe is true. We may not know the truth, or even where to find it, but we critique and discredit others who do not have it or know where it is either. Does that make sense?! Instead of worrying about deception, why not go search for the truth? Because it is easier to complain about others than research it yourself!

The Holy Bible, especially Proverbs and James, says much about the destructive power of the tongue—gossiping, hearsay, meddling, being a busybody. Conspiracy theories are a gateway into these sins. People are slandered, and the charge may not even be true! “This politician is secretly involved in drug trafficking, child trafficking, pedophilia, sedition….” Why? “Well, I watched a video posted online, so it must be true!”

Now, let us correct any possible misunderstanding. Possessing a talent for investigation can be constructive. Such people make good law-enforcement officers, forensic scientists, medical professionals, and the like. Being inquisitive is not a sin in and of itself. However, there is the danger of inquiring at the expense of time… ever so much time, ever so much time, ever so much time, ever so much time! Wisdom is needed, that time be used for the maximum profit. Searching and getting somewhere is fine; however, engaging in ceaseless rumor is senseless.

10. AN OCCASION FOR IDLE SPECULATIONS

Friend, imagine pedaling a stationary bicycle. Your legs are moving, you are sweating and panting, but are you getting anywhere?! Is your body in a different location than it was before? Imagine waving your arms in a swimming pool. Are you really swimming, or just treading water in the same place? Utter futility!!!

As noted earlier, this author has noticed that most conspiracy theorists who use the Bible have no deep insight into Scripture. They have a shallow grasp, and have made no real progress in the Bible. Beyond the Gospel, they know practically nothing about Christian thought and behavior. Babes in Christ (new believers) and carnal are their two categories. Since they have no real comprehension of God’s Word, there are no boundaries in their thoughts. They love to speculate about this topic and that idea. Wondering, drifting about, their mind lacks solid footing. No framework is present to restrict them—they have no limits as to what they may embrace. This sets them up for our next point.

11. AN OCCASION FOR SEDUCING SPIRITS

If there is no firm grounding in the Scriptures (see above), that poor soul will be led astray. First Timothy chapter 4 says in verses 1-2: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;….” To “seduce” means “to draw away from the path of rectitude with the promise of delight.” Something pleasant or attractive is used to lure people from where they ought to be, over to a place where they should not be. These “spirits” or voices—as in teacher’s voices—have a way with words to draw souls over to their side. Religious tradition can be employed. Conspiracy theories can be used. Philosophy can be employed. Souls are enticed from the Bible, from the ultimate source of truth, to concentrate on wild suppositions. Those wild speculations are seen as “more fascinating” than Scripture. They tantalize the flesh, make people feel good and excited. It may be of no substance but it does awe and delight (spiritual “junk food”).

12. AN OCCASION FOR BEING JUDGMENTAL

Conspiracy theorists appear to always try hard to prove everybody else wrong. They have overly critical points-of-view. There is a difference between vigilance so as not to be deceived and vigilant so as to spot errors. There are “life proofreaders,” “life editors.” For example, the person who finds “mistakes” in the Bible is often not an honest person but someone who simply wanted to find errors. He or she had no intention of believing it to be the truth anyway. Her or she had no interest in trusting and obeying it to start off. If someone never arrives at the truth, then we can only conclude he or she never had any desire to find it. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).

13. AN OCCASION FOR SPIRITUAL INSTABILITY

A former conspiracy theorist whom this author dealt with recently told him that alternate ideas had riveted her. She was “hooked” into this conspiracy and that conspiracy, but never actually got anywhere with all that speculation. Nothing was certain, so it was an endless search for “the truth.” As a Christian, she has now given up on the search for answers to conspiracies (this author has done likewise—and does not regret it!!). She knows there is absolute truth in the King James Bible rightly divided, and she has taken herself away from all that perpetual inquiring with conspiracies. Praise the Lord! We rejoice with her!!

Second Peter 3:15-17, especially verse 16, describes the spiritual condition of those who do not follow the Word of God rightly divided: “[15] And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; [16] As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. [17] Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.” “Unlearned” means “having never been taught” and “unstable” is “prone to change or fail.” This mishandling of Scripture will lead to spiritual “destruction”—and you just look at the millions of confused and deceived church members to confirm it!!!

Notice the instability in verse 14 of Ephesians chapter 4: “[12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: [13] Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: [14] That we henceforth be no more children, 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; [15] But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:….” It is Satan’s goal to get all Christians to be “children, 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.” Conspiracy theories are a sure way to fall into Satan’s trap, as they distract from Scripture! In stark contrast, God wants us to “grow up into [Christ] in all things!” Let us toss away the spiritual baby bottle, beloved!

VII. FIND AND HOLD FIRM THE THINGS OF GREATER VALUE

 1. WE MUST SET OUR PRIORITIES IN ORDER, LEST WE BE NEGLIGENT

Conspiracy theorists do not have their priorities in order. If their goal in life, if their goal in church, is to tell the world not to be deceived by a Moon landing, not be misled by the official conclusion of the Kennedy assassination, not to fall for the idea that the Earth is flat instead of sphereical, not to believe NASA operates satellites in outer space, then what they endeavor to do will really have no consequence in eternity. The most important information—sound Bible doctrine—is ignored. They have no idea what they need to believe, what they need to do in life, and what they should tell others to do in life. Again, they are infantile, unable to discern what matters most. They are carnal Christians or baby Christians who feed on speculation and human wisdom, and then pass it along to others. “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5). God’s power is in God’s doctrine, sound Bible doctrine; it is not in man’s “wisdom.”

2. WE MUST IDENTIFY AND RETAIN VALUABLE INFORMATION, LEST WE BE CONNED

If they are honest, conspiracy theorists will admit that the information they offer us really has no profit to their own life. It really makes no difference one way or the other, as their daily life will go on as normal regardless of the truth of the event. Yet, they blow it out of proportion, and make a big deal about nothing. They go on endless crusades exposing this error and exposing that error. If the view they are proposing is true (as they claim), and yet has no benefit to them (as they claim), then why do they bother sharing it with us? See, this is nothing but drivel. Perhaps they are unwittingly indicating to us their view is not worth our reception or trust?

Friend, what will the conspiracy theory matter in 1,000 years? Does it really further Satan’s plan if people believe the Earth is spherical? Will they go to Hell if they believe that Muslims hijacked airplanes on September 11, 2001, and not the United States government? Who is to say that God will take away the Christian’s reward if he or she believes NASA’s images were not doctored? When we start spending all our time and energy on a certain concept, it had better be worth it. It would have to be something worth defending, and not just something we “talk about” simply because we want to hear ourselves talk!

3. WE MUST BE ZEALOUS AND INFORMED, LEST WE NOT BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY

Romans 10:3 says of apostate Israel, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” They are passionate, fervent, but lack knowledge. Verse 3 further explains, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” Without knowledge, enthusiasm is detrimental. It is most unwise to engage in activity while being ignorant of said matter. Zeal could be put to better use if it is paired with knowledge (and, of course, driven by charity). Rather than speculating about this conspiracy or that conspiracy (which can never be settled conclusively), we can settle on the Holy Bible (absolute truth). If we want to be zealous for the truth, may we go look in the Word of Truth, and then go proclaim that to this lost and dying world! The conspiracies of men will be destroyed, but the Word of God stands forever and ever!

4. WE MUST STUDY THE HOLY BIBLE, LEST WE BE SUPERSTITIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS

Turning to Acts 17:22-23, we read: “Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” The Greek word rendered “too superstitious” here is quite striking—“deisidaimonesterous” (“fearing more devils than others”). As Paul entered Athens, “his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry” (verse 16). He observed idols and shrines all over the place! The Athenians were afraid of this god, that goddess, this deity, that idol. In like manner, conspiracy theorists live in fear about anything and everything. This group is out to harm them, that group will try to poison them or shoot them or cheat them financially, spy on them, track their whereabouts, and so on. Such fears will dissipate when we rest in the next point.

5. WE MUST REST IN GOD’S PEACE, LEST DISTRUST AND HOPELESSNESS OVERWHELM US

As remarked time and time again, conspiracy theorists are skeptical of just about anything and everything. They suspect evil in a situation even if there is no trace of it. This horrible existence is a doorway to hopelessness, paranoia/obsession, and fanaticism. Fear and doubt are like oxygen to them; without them, survival is impossible. Their identity is so wrapped up in exposing this plot and exposing that scheme. It becomes an all-consuming passion, but is it really worth pursuing? No. It only harms them and those they influence.

Romans chapter 15 says, “[4] For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope…. [13] Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” The Scriptures are to give us hope, and “the God of hope” (Author of Scripture) is thereby able to “fill [us] with all joy and peace in believing, that [we] may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Faith, joy, and peace are all fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Beloved, hopelessness is not who we are. Dear friend, doubt is not who we are. Beloved, fear is not who we are.

Philippians chapter 4: “[6] Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. [7] And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Being “careful” in this setting is the idea of “full of care,” or worrisome. God’s peace will come upon us when we talk to Him in prayer, when we speak to Him in light of His Word to us regarding all the details of our life. Conspiracy theorists and their system can offer us none of this—yea, they only provide the exact opposite.

6. WE MUST BE COGNIZANT OF THE REVELATION OF THE MYSTERY, LEST WE OVERLOOK THE MOST IMPORTANT SECRET

Conspiracy theorists revel in dwelling on secrets—except the right one! They are addicted, utterly given over to exposing covert operations. Instead of paying attention to the plain truths of Scripture, learning what Almighty God is doing and wants them to do, they spend all their time and energy worrying about the secrets of mortal men. The fact is, the God of creation kept a secret, a marvelous secret, until He revealed it directly to and through the Apostle Paul (and to us through Paul’s writings quoted below). It was all done to done to outsmart Satan, all his evil angelic associates, as well as sinful man—all of whom had united in preventing God’s will in creation from coming to pass.

Romans 16:25-26: “[25] Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [26] But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:….”

1 Corinthians 2:6-8: “[6] Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: [7] But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: [8] Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”

1 Corinthians 15:51: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,….”

Ephesians 1:9-10: “[9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:….”

Ephesians chapter 3: “[3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [4] Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [5] Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; [6] That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: [7] Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. [8] Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; [9] And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:….”

Colossians 1:25-27: “[25] Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; [26] Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: [27] To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:….”

1 Timothy 3:16: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

If someone cannot adequately communicate to this author the nature of that overriding mystery, the secret that will affect all eternity, they need not bother to attempt to interest him in “man’s secrets” which really pale in comparison. The Creator God is far wiser than all the conspirators combined!

VIII. SIX ITEMS OF WHICH WE MUST BEWARE

1. BEWARE OF SATAN’S ATTACK ON CHRISTIANS!

Second Corinthians chapter 10: “[3] For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: [4] (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; ) [5] Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;….” The “obedience of Christ” is God the Son’s faithfulness to go to the cross of Calvary by faith in His Father’s Word to Him! Friend, whatever does not fit in accordance with that, whatever contradicts that, we toss it out of our minds. We are in war, dear brethren, and Satan endeavors to corrupt us using whatever means possible and whomever he can. Let us be vigilant, ever so vigilant, and not underestimate him!

Philippians chapter 1: “[9] And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; [10] That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; [11] Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul longed for Christians to have love that would “abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.” If they adopted that mental attitude of love, they would thus “approve the things that are excellent.” Of all the choices in life, they would choose good works over sin. And not only so, out of all the good options, they would evaluate to determine which was the best action to take, the choice of greatest value.

Conspiracy theorists, considering their often superficial understanding of the Bible, are not a good influence on us. They are not making the best use of their time and energy. See, and here is where Satan’s evil world system operates. If the Christians get caught up in that, they cannot fulfill God’s will in Philippians 1:9-11. They are rejecting Divine knowledge, Divine judgment (discernment). What better way to attack Christians than attack the Bible, the only Book that produces mature, strong saints who can fight Satan!

2. BEWARE OF SATAN’S ATTACK ON SCRIPTURE!

While those who promote conspiracy theories are not necessarily ill-minded toward the Bible, the people who devised those ideas may have been. For example, it has been this author’s experience that individuals often use conspiracy theories to mock and discredit Christians and (really) Scripture. When people are focused on the minor things, they lose sight of the major things. It is a mental battle with Satan’s policy of evil, and if we are not careful to maintain sound Bible doctrine, we will lose it. We must be engaged in war with proper equipment, or we will get severely hurt in battle! If we are not stressing the right information, we will discredit ourselves—and God’s Word will be mocked beyond imagination.

 3. BEWARE OF EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENTS

Conspiracy theorists may have an emotional attachment, a mindless infatuation. A loved one might have introduced them to that notion and they must hold to that view. In their mind, if they break from that idea, they disrespect the memory of that loved one. They may have an emotional attachment to a particular teacher of the conspiracy theory. “Learned men,” “kind guys,” “lovely women,” “helpful ladies,” will simply have to be set aside and God’s Word will have to exalted above them. “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We seek God’s approval not man’s approval! Never forget that, friend! We seek God’s approval not man’s approval!

4. BEWARE OF SPIRITUAL WOOD, HAY, AND STUBBLE

First Corinthians 3:12-15 is a special warning to Christians: “[12] Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; [13] Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. [14] If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. [15] If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” At what the Bible calls “the Judgment Seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10), Christians will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ to give an account to Him for their service to Him on Earth. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

There is something “bad” done in the body—“wood, hay, stubble.” This is anything and everything other than sound Bible doctrine. Much of what people push as conspiracies today, the Bible says nothing about them. Therefore, they are advancing the traditions and opinions of men. It does not lead to an appreciation of creation. As stated earlier, there is no spiritual stability, no spiritual health or nourishment. It will amount to nothing at the Judgment Seat of Christ. If you want to build your life and spend all your time worrying about nonsense, friend, you go right on ahead and do it. However, never, ever can you say that you were not warned!

5. BEWARE OF THE LACK OF CHARITY AND ABUNDANCE OF NEGATIVITY

“Charity… thinketh no evil,” 1 Corinthians 13:5 says. If charity, or love in action, is lacking, the worst will always be assumed of people. Pessimism, distrust, negativity, gloom clouds the hearts, minds, and lives of conspiracy theorists. They hear gossip about some person—especially celebrities—and run with that information about “secret lives.” Never is anyone above suspicion. It is a gateway to “hypervigilance,” extreme or excessive vigilance, the state of being highly or abnormally alert to potential danger or threat. This leads us to our next point.

6. BEWARE OF THE ABSENCE OF DIVINE THINKING

Notice the following admonitions. Romans 12:1-2: “[1] I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. [2] And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Colossians 3:10: “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:….”

Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Ephesians 4: “[17] This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, [18] Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: [19] Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. [20] But ye have not so learned Christ; [21] If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: [22] That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; [23] And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;….”

Friend, if the system you are embracing does not agree with these three primary passages of Scripture, it is time to bid the system an eternal goodbye!

IX. THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION?

Of the various conspiracy theorists this author has met, all were Christians (at least professing, if not genuine members of the Body of Christ). They quote verses and believe Scripture verses to some degree. So, how can Christians of all people be deceived? How is it that they have gained a reputation for being fixated on the pettiest of conspiracy theories, and yet claim to have “the truth” in a book called the Bible? Why are they not as consumed in sharing the authoritative Scriptures as they are in promoting sensationalism and naivety? How can even preachers deliver whole sermons about embracing specific conspiracy theories?! While they are aware of Satan’s evil world system, and purport to be warning others of evil, they themselves have inadvertently fallen prey to it. They are focusing on insignificant lies when there are more serious ones to recognize and avoid.

Back in Ephesians 4:14, we read about Satan’s tricks. Notice again: “That we henceforth be no more children, 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;….” That word “sleight” is to be taken as “sleight of hand,” trickery or skill in causing someone to focus on one thing (distraction) and thus overlook another but more important matter. “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Satan wants us to concentrate on the little lies so we neglect the one of most importance! Our Adversary is the master deceiver, friend, and never, ever, ever to be underestimated. Such ingenuity is far beyond our own capacity to overcome, but God Himself can and has equipped us in His Word to do just that.

Someone would say, “Oh, Brother Shawn, should we not identify lies when we see them? Does not God call us to expose Satan’s policy of evil?” Indeed, it is just that conspiracy theorists do not know how to identify Satan’s policy of evil anyway. They are not skilled in God’s Word rightly divided, but they are well aware of what people are speculating about governmental affairs. They spend time watching videos, reading websites, and perusing books about this conspiracy and that conspiracy, but little to no effort is made in studying the Holy Bible. Ignoring the standard of truth, they go around showing themselves to be champions of the truth. Absurd ad infinitum!

We should rather engage in godly edifying. Dabbling in conspiracy theories does not build up anyone spiritually. There is no solid footing, peace, or stability. Rather, there is uncertainty, dread, and paranoia.

First Timothy chapter 1: “[3] As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, [4] Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. [5] Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: [6] From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;….” Two snares in ministry are “fables” and “endless genealogies.” “Fables” are nothing but stories designed to convey moral lessons; they are wild and fantastical tales meant to distract us from the moral lessons written down and preserved in the Holy Bible. Such would be similar to conspiracy theories. “Endless genealogies” is the emphasis on people, personages/celebrities, instead of doctrine. We must break emotional attachments from people who teach false information!!

Now, chapter 4: “[1] Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;… [6] If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. [7] But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. [8] For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come…. [12] Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. [13] Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. [14] Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. [15] Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. [16] Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” What will get us through times of apostasy (verse 1), a mass departure from the truth, is sound Bible doctrine (verses 13 and 16). Conspiracy theories will not be able to help but will rather confuse us further!

Finally, chapter 6 of 1 Timothy: “[3] If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; [4] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, [5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” Conspiracy theorists are surely among these individuals who proudly entertain evil thoughts, flaunting themselves as “enlightened ones,” fighting with others in words, exercising corrupt minds, know-nothings. That is what the Bible says. They do not accept “wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness.” Rather than preaching Bible truth, they have made it their life’s mission (or ministry’s mission) to expose conspiracies.

Conspiracies were back in Bible days, Old and New Testament times, yet the Bible says very little about governments plotting to accomplish this secret plan and that secret plan. Sinful man and his covert agenda have been present ever since the Garden of Eden (Genesis chapter 3 and the Fall of man), yet God Himself did not think it important to mark down in His Book (the Holy Bible) all the schemes of the Jewish government, Assyrian government, Babylonian government, Median and Persian governments, Greek and Roman governments. God did speak, however, of Israel and Rome conspiring together to put His innocent Son to death on Calvary’s cross. He does speak of the conspiracy to rob Jesus Christ of His glory. He does divulge information about the Whore of Babylon, Satan’s political-religious system that will come about during the end-times (Revelation chapters 17 and 18). That evil world system has been operating since the Tower of Babel, but such idolatry and works-religion has its earliest roots in pharisaical Cain. Roman Catholicism is the modern manifestation of the evil religious system that ensnared Israel. Yet, conspiracy theorists are nearly totally ignorant of these schemes. Satan has fooled them and sidetracked them with the “little conspiracies.”

Now, we read 2 Timothy chapter 2: “[1] Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. [2] And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. [3] Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. [4] No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” Verse 2 is of particular importance. Above all else, the Christian minister is to learn Pauline revelation, the Books of Romans through Philemon, and then teach others who can thus pass that information on to even more people. That is our goal, friend. It is not to spread error, and it is not simply to expose error. Furthermore, verse 4 says we should not get so engrossed in the world that we start adopting its mindset, sharing its priorities. If we get too comfortable down here, beloved, we lose sight of our heavenly destiny. Be ever so careful here, be ever so careful. The route of conspiracy theories is not in our best interests!!

X. CONCLUSION

1. MOST CONSPIRACY THEORISTS SEEM TO BE “INNOCENT BYSTANDERS,” LED BY SELECT WILLFULLY IGNORANT

Some people are simply misled and do not know any better about conspiracy theories. They need to be taught (and it is your job now to use this information to do just that, friend!). However, others are intentionally misleading. They want to teach, and what they want to teach is utter nonsense. They have invested so much time and energy that they cannot possibly turn away from it now. It is their life, their reputation, their all-consuming passion, and we respect their free will. May they truly enjoy themselves in the error they have fought so tenaciously to keep!

Then, as noted earlier, we have those who are only “pass-alongs.” They have not really doggedly pursued investigating conspiracy theories as others (such as leaders), but something has grabbed their attention and they pass along that “interesting” information to others. This seems to be most people in practically any belief system. They are innocently caught up in the whole matter, and would have an eye to see and an ear to hear to leave such wild speculations. This is in contrast to those who have already been warned about the dangers but continue leading in them anyway.

It is this author’s experience with conspiracy theorists that they often have nothing important or substantive to say about anything. The content on much of their words is simply garbage. As the adage goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.” There is little to no sound Bible doctrine coming from their lips and pens, and that means they lack the discernment as to what are the most serious lies in the world. Some are cantankerous; others are polite and genteel. Regardless, their doctrine is spiritual in nature and quite dangerous, and should thus not be entertained or downplayed as “mere differences of opinion.”

2. WHAT SHOULD WE DO AS BIBLE-BELIEVING CHRISTIANS?

If we are Bible-believing Christians caught up in conspiracies, we would do well to heed these verses and recover ourselves out of the snare of the Devil! Let us believe God’s Word rightly divided, and then by faith go teach and preach that. If we know Bible-believing Christians caught up in conspiracies, we should share these truths with them, that they recover themselves out of the snare of the Devil!

Second Timothy chapter 2 says, “[22] Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. [23] But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. [24] And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

Dear friend, we should try to rescue conspiracy theorists from their error—especially if they have a testimony of salvation in Jesus Christ. Let us try to be as gentle as possible, as meek as possible, but as firm as possible. They are living contrary to whom Almighty God has made them in Christ. As noted earlier, this author has dear friends and associates caught up in these ideas. A few have come out, but most remain where they are. Our goal is not to seek these people so we can straighten them out, argue with them, and insult them. If we happen to encounter them, if we happen to realize who they are and what they believe, then we should certainly attempt to assist them. However, the fact remains that some people—even Christians—do not want help. They are comfortable exactly where they are. It is easier to keep on their current path than admit they are wrong. Give them over to what they want, then!

The Apostle Paul said, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37-38).

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

ATTENTION: Dear brethren, it is with great pleasure that we have uploaded our new 3-part Bible video series “The Sabbath Day.” Overall, there are approximately 3 1/2 hours of study. We hope and pray that these lessons will edify, encourage, and enlighten you! Praise our Lord Jesus Christ! (These are an offshoot of our 7-part “Feasts of Jehovah” series from last month.) Watch them here.

Also see:
» Does Scripture teach a flat Earth or a spherical Earth?
» Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?
» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?

How should we handle the objection, “If only I saw a miracle, then I would believe!”?

HOW SHOULD WE HANDLE THE OBJECTION, “IF ONLY I SAW A MIRACLE, THEN I WOULD BELIEVE!”?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Dear friends, how often the freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, and all other Bible skeptics smugly declare to us that they would “believe in God” and “follow the Bible” “if only” they “saw a miracle.” Many such individuals emphatically proclaim to be “looking for evidence,” allegedly “seeking to uncover the truth” because they are “open to the possibility of God.” To witness a miraculous demonstration is “the last piece of the puzzle” they wish to solve. (Agnostics assert that they do not look because such information—if it were available—is beyond our grasp anyway. However, being human, they cannot deny that curiosity dwells in them too!)

How should we as Bible believers answer these precious souls who seek supernatural events as “proof that God exists?” Is it appropriate for us to pray for Almighty God to empower us to perform a miracle to convince them? After all, does He not intend to do anything and everything to persuade them to believe in Him and His Word? Should we ask the Lord to eventually show them a miracle (if not by us, but by some other Christian) so they come to trust Him? These are critical questions, and it thus behooves us to consider them in this Bible study.

I. A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

A. CURSORY OPENING REMARKS

Dearly beloved, whoever you are (Christian, non-Christian, atheistic, agnostic, freethinker, skeptic, et cetera—whatever you claim as your persuasion), you should come to terms with some basic facts right from the start. While this author never intends to antagonize you, the realities he will share in this study will likely offend you at some point. You might react quite angrily to this Bible article. Or, perchance you will enjoy the marvelous light of the wonderful spiritual truths contained herein. The author’s intention is never to soften the truth or make it more pleasant. He would rather you dislike him for telling you the truth than gain your friendship because he told you a flattering lie! Woe is unto the author, if he knows this information and fails to share it with you in a plain manner! It is thus his great hope and prayer that this study will assist you in your spiritual journey, wherever you happen to be, to bring you to the place where the God of the Bible would have you to be.

If we look at the record of the Scriptures, we learn that miracles are not always successful in convincing unbelievers. No matter how amazing the miracle is—an event affecting one person to a miraculous demonstration impacting thousands—if the observer has a callous and unbelieving heart, the miracle will not change that person’s attitude. If plentiful miracles are witnessed, there is still no assurance that the spectator will be converted. Pride will get in the way. Our deceitful heart will fool people if they do choose to reject the truth that the miracle conveys. So, as you examine and contemplate the information in this study, consider this word to the wise: Friend, be sure you are willing to receive this information with an open mind, for if you approach it arrogantly and disrespectfully, it will (without any doubt!) harm you beyond your wildest dreams!

B. PSALM 14:1

Psalm 14:1 is an extremely austere verse, but it is definitely a truth for people of all ages living in all ages: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”

A “fool” is silly or ridiculous, someone not thinking properly. One can be a college graduate many times over, and still behave most thoughtlessly. This author has seen it firsthand, and you, dear reader, have probably observed it as well. Education does not equal infallibility, for someone can fail to apply that information and wind up confused, misled, and disappointed. A person might have training in specific fields and areas, but that information cannot serve him or her in unrelated situations and circumstances. Advanced degrees have their limitations, and never forget it! Never once has any university or school anywhere ever issued a diploma labeled, “All the requirements for OMNISCIENCE have been met!” Even this author is a frail, limited man—who has no confidence in the flesh, and encourages you not to have any either (Philippians 3:3).

When Psalm 14:1 opens with, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.,” the verse makes the fool’s absurdity most painfully obvious. What has he done? Has he examined evidence and deduced the view to which he holds and champions? No! Remember, by the very definition, a fool does not think properly. Logic cannot be used to describe his beliefs or behaviors. He has not analyzed anything and yet the verse says he, strangely enough, has already reached a conclusion. What has he concluded? “There is no God.” On what basis has he made this assertion? (You already know the answer, do you not?)

The fool has not investigated anything. In his sinful heart, he has arrived at a conclusion, a preconceived idea, and now his only goal is to look for evidence to validate it and it alone. (If you must know, the technical word for this phenomenon is “confirmation bias.”) The fool readily and summarily dismisses whatever contrary evidence there is or possibly is. Since he is resolute in maintaining his original position (“There is no God”), he will never even consider the possibility of any “god” (whatever that “higher power” is makes no difference at this point—we are being as basic as possible for simplicity’s sake). Hence, the scoffer could watch 100 (!) miracles and never be convinced. Why? He has already made the decision not to believe, and that which is designed to cause him to believe is ineffective with him.

Proverbs chapter 18 adds to this point: “[1] Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom. [2] A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.” Someone who is constantly dabbling in all kinds of belief systems has one goal: he has something he wants to prove, and is seeking his confirmation wherever he can obtain it. While praising himself for being “objective” and “rational,” he is subjective and irrational. He holds to his personal opinions most stubbornly. No matter how absurd they are, he will obsessively cling to them, for the other option is to understand that there is a Creator God to whom he is accountable. His opinions cannot cross-examine him or damn him to Hell, so they do not threaten him as the concept of God intimidates him. The only reason he holds to his “anti-God” and “anti-Bible” view is to intentionally eliminate from his mind the eternal damnation that most assuredly awaits him. (May we aptly say at this point, “Out of mind, out of existence?”)

In the world of science—what the Bible scoffer usually adores and to which he often appeals—a conclusion is not made until data has been collected and analyzed first. If it is “junk science” to posit conclusions without first gathering information, it is equally fallacious to go around making claims about God without first collecting knowledge about Him. With little (if any) understanding of God, and little (if any) understanding of the Bible, the scoffer just outright rejects the spiritual realm. He remains in utter darkness, all the while touting his “enlightenment” the so-called “ignorant, superstitious” Christians lack (that is his claim)!

At this point, you may say, “Oh, Brother Shawn, what a horrible existence you have described! How sad it is to wind up in such a mess! Those poor people, so baffled and deceived, how did they ever end up like that? Is there any hope for them?” While it breaks Almighty God’s heart to see His creation broken and disorderly, He values free will above all. If someone wants to live without Him, He grants that person that right. For brevity’s sake, we quote Romans chapter 1 without commentary:

“[18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; [19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. [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: [21] 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. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] 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. 

“[24] Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: [25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

“[26] For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: [27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

“[28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; [29] Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, [30] Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, [31] Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: [32] Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

Friend, if ever you wonder how today’s world system and society wound up so evil and perverted, you just read and re-read Romans chapter 1 until it sinks into your mind. The verses are self-explanatory. For the rest of this study, we will deal with various and sundry people from human history, people who constantly battled sin as pertaining to whether or not they believed God and His Word to them. Lest we think they are totally unlike us, that we are better than them, we would do quite well to remember we in the sophisticated 21st century are just as depraved. Technology has greatly advanced, but human nature has remained static all this time!

II. PHARAOH AND MOSES

Before any miracles were performed in front of Pharaoh, he refused to release the nation Israel from being Egypt’s slaves (Exodus 5:1-4). In fact, he further abused the Jews, making their lives increasingly miserable. Since he had hardened his heart against the LORD God’s will, the LORD God would further harden it by pressuring him with miracles (technically, judgments on Egypt’s gods).

JEHOVAH God ordered Moses in Exodus chapter 3: “[19] And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. [20] And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. [21] And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty.”

Moving on to Exodus chapter 7: “[1] And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. [2] Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. [3] And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. [4] But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments…..”

“[8] And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, [9] When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent. [10] And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. [11] Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. [12] For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. [13] And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said. [14] And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go.”

From here (chapter 7) all the way to chapter 12, the LORD God judges Egypt with 10 plagues. Pharaoh, king of Egypt, saw 10 miracles before he finally relented… and then, that was only in absolute desperation. His nation was completely ruined, and he sought relief from his own pain and suffering. Had he had a sincere heart, the first miracle would have convinced him. Alas, the first miracle did not persuade him. He was not converted under the second miracle either… or the third… or the fourth… or even the tenth! Pharaoh did not come to trust in Israel’s God. He released Israel simply because he had no more country. Among other tribulations, the livestock were dead, the crops were destroyed, the drinking water was polluted, his people were disease-stricken, and his firstborn son had been killed (along with all the other Egyptian firstborn).

Every time the LORD God showed Pharaoh a miraculous demonstration, prideful Pharaoh refused. His heart grew harder, and harder, and harder still! Proverbs 29:1 remarks, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” As noted earlier, miracles in the Bible are designed to teach doctrine. God was using His miracles in Egypt to achieve two ends. Two lessons were being taught.

Firstly, JEHOVAH God endeavored to show Israel that He would deliver them from their captivity—something they were powerless in doing by themselves. Exodus chapter 6: “[5] And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. [6] Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: [7] And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. [8] And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.”

Secondly, the LORD God demonstrated beyond any doubt that He was superior to all of Egypt’s idols/gods combined. Turn to Exodus 12:12 to read: “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.” Compare that with Numbers 33:4: “For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the LORD had smitten among them: upon their gods also the LORD executed judgments.”

According to Egyptian history, Pharaoh was considered to be a god himself. He did not want to admit that Israel’s God was greater than him and all of his gods collectively. It was a blow to his giant ego. Only after Egypt was devastated with 10 plagues did Pharaoh begrudgingly emancipate Israel. Not to be outdone, he tried again to get the upper hand over Israel’s God. He attacked freed Israel with his army—before Israel’s God had the last word by drowning Pharaoh and all his soldiers in the Red Sea!!

III. ISRAEL IN THE WILDERNESS

JEHOVAH God has just delivered Israel from Egyptian slavery. He has sent 10 afflictions to judge Egypt and her idols. He has caused Israel to pass through the Red Sea safely. He has drowned Pharaoh and his armies in the Sea. Israel is in the wilderness, and watches God’s miracles over and over and over again. Yet, they still doubt the God of Abraham is with them!

  • Exodus 15:24: “And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?” (Did they not think God could and would provide them with water? Why did they grumble? Unbelief!)
  • Exodus 16:2-3: “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Did they not think God could and would provide food for them? Why did they complain? Unbelief!)
  • Exodus chapter 17: “[2] Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? [3] And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? … [7] And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?” (Did they not think God could and would provide give them water to drink? Why did they moan? Unbelief!)
  • Exodus 32:7-10: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.” (Unbelief!)
  • Numbers 14:2: “And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!” (Unbelief!)
  • Numbers 14:29: “Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me.” (Unbelief!)
  • Numbers 16:41: “But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD.” (Unbelief!)
  • Deuteronomy 1:27: “And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.” (Unbelief!)
  • Psalm 106:25: “But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.” (Unbelief!)

IV. KING JEROBOAM

Many centuries after Moses and Israel’s Egyptian deliverance, Jeroboam reigned as the first monarch of the Northern Kingdom (10 northern tribes of Israel). He was quite an evil, idolatrous ruler, as 1 Kings chapter 13 bears out:

“[1] And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. [2] And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee. [3] And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out. 

“[4] And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him. [5] The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. [6] And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Intreat now the face of the LORD thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored him again, and became as it was before.

Remarkably, upon hearing God’s Word, Jeroboam is not repentant or interested in serving JEHOVAH God. We read of no apology, no confession of sin, and no begging for forgiveness. In fact, we read quite the opposite. Years later, he dies an unbeliever. When his illegitimate altar miraculously broke right before his very eyes, he was not converted. Once God smote his hand with paralysis, he was not transformed into a believer. In fact, when the LORD God healed his hand, he never apologized for mistreating God’s prophet. He is never recorded as praying here: he wanted the prophet to pray for him instead. All Jeroboam was interested in was recovering from his crippled physical condition (a striking resemblance to aforementioned selfish Pharaoh).

If you keep reading in the Bible, friend, you will discover that Jeroboam waxes worse and worse in pagan religion until the LORD destroys him and his household. Note the chapter’s close: “[33] After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. [34] And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth.” Did Jeroboam, after witnessing those miracles, turn to JEHOVAH God in faith? Certainly not! He had no interest in believing the truth or doing right in the eyes of the Creator God. What an episode!

V. GIDEON

Gideon was a believer in the LORD God, but he doubted Him at times. Watch how this interesting scenario plays out. We start in Judges chapter 6:

“[11] And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. [12] And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. [13] And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”

Friend, did you sense Gideon’s unbelief? Verse 13, “Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us?” “If the LORD be with us…..” Gideon’s unbelief re-re-surfaces in verses 14-15: “And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”

And Gideon is unbelieving once more in verses 16-17: “And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.” Gideon is seeing miracles indeed. The angel of the LORD has appeared to him. In fact, pay attention to verse 21: “Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.” What a sight that must have been!

Now, skip down to verse 36: “[36] And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, [37] Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. [38] And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. [39] And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. [40] And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.” (Unbelief!) (Unbelief!) (Unbelief!)

Notice how Gideon’s nonbelief surfaced in verse 36: If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said….” He knows God told him something, but he doubts it will come to pass. Gideon wants proof. “God, if what You said will come to pass, do this for me and then do that for me, that I may know what You said will happen.” God, in His mercy, obliges both times. In spite of seeing miracles, Gideon struggled with unbelief… and he was not a scoffer. He was a mighty servant of God, a hero of Jewish military history, and a saint of the Most High God. If this could be possible and be said of a believer, what of an unbeliever? Is it likely that the unbeliever will be converted because of the miracle?

VI. KING AHAB & QUEEN JEZEBEL

The LORD God had warned Israel that, if she broke the Old Covenant (the Mosaic Law) by worshipping and serving idols, He would chastise her using various afflictions and difficulties. One such punishment was that He would withhold rain, and this drought would result in crop failure and famine. The Bible says in Leviticus chapter 26: “[18] And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. [19] And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: [20] And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.”

Now we compare that to Deuteronomy 11:16-17, “Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; And then the LORD’S wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.”

When King Ahab and Queen Jezebel declared Baal worship the official state religion of Israel (see 1 Kings 16:29-33), the Prophet Elijah (a Bible student) knew what Moses had written many centuries earlier in Deuteronomy. Elijah thus prayed for it not to rain; therefore, it did not rain for 3½ years. To wit, God did what He had already said He would do in those circumstances of idolatry (cf. Luke 4:25; James 5:16-18).

First Kings 17:1 is the corresponding historical narrative: “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” Now, verse 1 of chapter 18: “And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.” Skip to verses 17-18: “And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.” When Elijah stood before Ahab, the king called him a “troublemaker” in Israel! Ahab blamed Elijah for the famine—when it was, in reality, Ahab’s idolatry that caused the dearth!! Ahab knew that God’s man was a threat to his and Jezebel’s religious system. Elijah was standing in the way of “progress”—or so Ahab believed. (Does this sound similar to today’s society?)

Regrettably, time and space do not permit us to quote and discuss all of 1 Kings chapter 18. Therefore, friend, read it in your own time in your own Bible. Despite the miracle of Elijah calling God’s fire down from Heaven, the Baal worshippers are not converted. Rather, they are put to death in their unbelief. Ahab and Jezebel are not converted to JEHOVAH God either. They had not believed God’s Word prior and they would not believe it now; they continued their pagan idol worship. Observe what happens in the subsequent chapter!

Chapter 19 of 1 Kings chapter 19: “[1] And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. [2] Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. [3] And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.”

After the miracle of Elijah calling fire out of Heaven to consume the sacrifice, Jezebel actually wanted to take his life! Eventually, both Jezebel and Ahab died as unbelievers. They did not convert after witnessing and/or hearing about Elijah’s miracles. There is no indication in Scripture that they ever turned to JEHOVAH God from their pagan idols. Like Pharaoh, they had already made their choice in rejecting the one true God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. No miracle would influence them to be people of faith… and that was to their eternal detriment!!

VII. JESUS CHRIST’S EARTHLY MINISTRY

The Lord Jesus performed miracle upon miracle upon miracle during His three years of earthly ministry. Yet, some onlookers wanted “just one more” to make sure. They had never been satisfied and would never be satisfied! Why? They had already made up their minds not to believe in Him. They became increasingly hardened like Pharaoh King of Egypt. In the ensuing paragraphs, we will look at five such examples—four cases involve unbelievers who never did believe Jesus Christ, and one incident concerns a believer (Apostle Thomas) who experienced a temporary lapse in faith.

A. JOHN 2:23-25

Early in Christ’s earthly ministry, He encountered unbelieving witnesses to His miracles. John 2:23-25 reports: “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” They just wanted to be impressed; they were not interested in knowing the significance of those miracles. While they believed in the head, they did not believe in the heart (cf. Romans 10:10; cf. Acts 8:13,20-23). They had no interest in faith, so Jesus did not depend on them to continue to follow Him. As the beginning of His earthly ministry, so would be its duration and conclusion. No matter what He would say or do to validate His message, precious few would be convinced. Friend, this is just as true today as it was 2,000 years ago!

B. JOHN 7:1-5

The Bible says in John chapter 7: “[1] After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. [2] Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand. [3] His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. [4] For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. [5] For neither did his brethren believe in him.”

What a sad commentary! Not even the Lord Jesus Christ’s own half-brothers and half-sisters believed in Him. They did not see Him as the Son of God, the King of Israel, the Messiah (Christ), the Redeemer. His family spent so much time with Him, and yet, His miracles did not convince them of His identity. They had already chosen not to believe Him. Notice how they did not deny His miracles (verse 4); they merely were not persuaded in seeing any value in them, to learn the lesson (doctrine) Israel’s God wanted to teach using those miraculous demonstrations. The next passage relates to this.

C. MARK 6:1-6

Mark chapter 6 opens with: “[1] And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. [2] And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? [3] Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. [4] But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. [5] And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. [6] And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.”

Hone in on verse 6. Jesus “marvelled because of their unbelief.” He was God and yet He was Man. He was surprised at what just occurred. To paraphrase what He must have thought: “Even after all this indisputable proof, you still doubt who I am? You refuse to have faith even after all that you have seen Me do?” What was the problem? Were the deeds not miraculous enough? Had they been disproven? No, the eyewitnesses of the miracles had already decided (before the miracles occurred) that they would not believe. Nothing would sway them because they had already chosen not to be persuaded!!! Are you beginning to see the pattern, friend? There is much more to follow!

D. JOHN 20:29

Let us glance at John chapter 20, the famous case of the doubting believer in Christ: “[19] Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. [20] And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. [21] Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. [22] And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: [23] Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

“[24] But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. [25] The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

“[26] And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. [27] Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. [28] And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. [29] Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

The Apostle Thomas shows us that even believers in Jesus Christ can (and do) fall into the trap of unbelief. He originally believed God’s Word, but then circumstances distracted him and Satan used those conditions to deceive him. Thomas said he would not believe that Jesus Christ had resurrected until he touched Jesus’ scars (verse 25). Days later, the Lord Jesus appeared and rebuked Him. Verse 29 again: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Scoffers and skeptics (and even Christians!) would do well to make note of this admonition!! We quote it again (this time in bold type): “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

E. UNBELIEVING ISRAEL NEVER SATISFIED WITH SIGNS

Read Matthew 12:38-39, “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:….” Now, Matthew 16:1, “The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.”

This is about halfway through Christ’s earthly ministry. He had been performing miracles throughout the land of Israel for some two years… and they wanted yet anothersign?!” In contemporary English, “Just give us one more sign, Jesus, so we can know You really are Messiah! One more sign, one more sign, just one last sign!” (After ignoring the miracles Christ performed in Matthew 12:9-13 and verses 22-24, they wanted to see Him perform others. This is so downright preposterous, and yet it agrees with all the other passages about unbelief following signs! The miracles are not the problem. The witnesses have the problem—sinful hearts!)

Jesus’ numerous miracles did not convince Israel that He was their long-promised Messiah, Redeemer, King. Notice John 10:24-25: “Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.” It did not matter how much He did, or how awesome the miracles He performed, they had no interest in believing in Him. While most pitiful, that is the way it was… and still is today!

The Apostle John, toward the end of his Gospel Record, penned in John 20:30-31: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” Throughout three years of earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus performed miracle after miracle after miracle. Notice chapter 21, the last verse (the conclusion of the Book of John): “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” Despite all those miraculous demonstrations, Israel was content in her unbelief and killed Him on Calvary!

F. MATTHEW 28:11-15

Matthew chapter 28 contains the Bible’s paramount example of willful dishonesty concerning miracles: “[11] Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. [12] And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, [13] Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. [14] And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. [15] So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”

After being “stone-cold” dead for three days and three nights in the grave, the Lord Jesus has just been bodily resurrected. There was a massive earthquake; an angel came down to roll back the stone from His tomb to reveal it as empty. Some of the Roman guards (soldiers) are terrified. They hurry off to inform the Jewish chief priests of the supernatural events they have just witnessed. All the soldiers and all the Jewish chief priests, upon hearing of Christ’s resurrection, believe on Him. Uh, no, that is not what the Bible says!!! Nothing of the sort!!! They do not turn to God in faith!!! Here, they have just come to realize Christ did resurrect, an angel did come down from Heaven, they did see that angel, they did see the rolled-away stone, and they did see the empty tomb—and, yet, they remain just as faithless as before. In fact, once the chief priests learn of Christ’s resurrection, they bribe the soldiers to lie about what really happened. The rumor is widely circulated that there was no resurrection of Jesus whatsoever. They spread the falsehood that His disciples stole His corpse!

Matthew 28:11-15 says they tried to explain away Christ Jesus’ resurrection. They knew what happened. He had unquestionably risen from the dead. They could not disprove or deny it. Yet, that resurrection would discredit them and validate Jesus’ message. They would have to do or say something, lest they look like fools and lose their religious clout over Israel. They decided the best course of action to take was to dismiss the resurrection as nothing more than a “body-snatching.” His disciples must have broken into the tomb and taken His remains during the night. Many years later, when the Holy Spirit moved Matthew to write his Gospel Record, that rumor was still passing amongst the Jewish people! In unbelief, the common Jewish people published this “body-snatching” lie.

VIII. ACTS 4:13-18

Christ has already resurrected, ascended into Heaven, and sent down the Holy Spirit on believing Israel (Acts chapters 1–2). In chapter 3, the Apostles Peter and John heal a lame man sitting at the gate of the Jerusalem Temple. For the rest of the chapter, Peter preaches to unsaved, wrath-deserving Israel to repent and turn to Jesus Christ in faith. Christ is returning to set up His earthly kingdom, so they had better prepare for Him: He will either be their Saviour or their Judge!

Reading from Acts chapter 4: “[13] Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. [14] And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. [15] But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, [16] Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. [17] But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. [18] And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

“[19] But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. [20] For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. [21] So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. [22] For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.”

Verse 14 said Israel could see the cripple man now restored, completely healed. The dishonest religious leaders could say nothing against it. All the people in the Temple had seen him sitting there helpless for decades. Now, he was walking, and leaping, and praising God (Acts 3:8-9). Verse 10 said they recognized him as the man who had sat lame for many years, and how he had been miraculously restored under the ministry of Peter and John. See verse 11.

Consider Acts 4:16 again, “Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.” These religious leaders knew that Jesus was alive and well, and this miracle proved it. They instantly converted to Jesus Christ. Uh, no!! That is not what the Bible said!! They had no intention of believing on Jesus Christ!! Here they had witnessed a miracle but unbelief arose. They were not about to lose their religion, their political clout, and their business. What they determined to do was intimidate Peter and John into silence. They threatened them (verse 21). In Acts 5:40, later, these deceitful religious leaders of Israel physically beat the Apostles after the Apostles returned to preach about Jesus Christ and His resurrection.

We need to stop and think about this, friend. Not only did these Israeli religious leaders witness the miraculous healing of the lame man in chapter 3, they knew of other miracles the Apostles performed in Acts 5:12-16. They did not believe them either, and they did not believe on Christ either. After this, they imprisoned and beat the Apostles (verses 18,40). Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief!

IX. ACTS 16:16-24

Turning to Acts 16:16-18: “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”

The miracle concerns the Apostle Paul and his companions. As they travel to Philippi (modern northern Greece), they encounter a slave girl possessed by an evil spirit, a devil, a spirit of divination that allowed her to tell fortunes. Her masters have used her “ability” to make a fortune. This girl, under Satan’s control, pesters Paul and his ministry associates. Paul commands this devil, in the name of Jesus Christ, to leave the girl. The evil spirit departs. How did the girl’s masters react?

Read on: “[19] And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, [20] And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, [21] And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. [22] And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. [23] And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: [24] Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.”

These masters did not convert to Jesus Christ, did they? Yet, they knew something was different about the young woman. She no longer had the supernatural ability she once did. The only explanation they had was that Paul had some skill to limit or destroy the power she had possessed. They saw a miracle, but they had no interest in knowing the truth anyway. Hence, they responded negatively by getting Paul and Silas in trouble with the local governmental officials. The government then beat the Apostles and imprisoned them without first trying and convicting them in a Roman court of law! Here is just another easy example in the Bible to show that miracles do not necessarily generate faith. If the observer has no interest in having faith, the miracle will make no difference to him.

X. OUR PRESENT-DAY DISPENSATION OF GRACE: 2 CORINTHIANS 5:7-8

Second Corinthians chapter 5 says: “[6] Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: [7] (For we walk by faith, not by sight: ) [8] We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

With the arrival of the Apostle Paul’s ministry and the Dispensation of Grace, God gradually withdrew the outward manifestations of His working. Once the Book of Acts concluded, God’s provoking ministry to Israel ended (Romans 11:11-14). JEHOVAH God had successfully shown Israel that He was now working amongst the Gentiles through Paul’s ministry without her national conversion (cf. Romans 15:18-19). The miracles, the signs, the wonders He used to teach the nation Israel doctrine, He made those phenomena pass off the scene (see 1 Corinthians 13:8-13, for example).

Second Corinthians 5:7 thus declares, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” That is the standard for the Dispensation of Grace, our present-day. When the atheist, agnostic, freethinker, or Bible skeptic demands to see outward, physical proof of God working, they are seeking something God said He is not doing anymore anyway. It is foolish to look for something when that something does not exist. If you go around looking for miraculous Divine intervention, and you do not see it, then you have the problem not God. Friend, you cannot make God do something He is not doing!!

XI. MIRACLES IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION

In the Book of the Revelation, God’s enemies observe various and sundry strange spectacles. They are being judged for rejecting and crucifying His Son, persecuting His people, and not believing His Word. Do they repent or change their mind, as they suffer His just wrath? No! Are they crying out to Him in faith to receive mercy or relief? No! They blaspheme Him. They curse His name. No miracles convince any of them.

Revelation chapter 16: “[8] And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. [9] And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. [10] And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, [11] And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

“[17] And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. [18] And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. [19] And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. [20] And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. [21] And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.”

Revelation chapter 9: “[20] And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: [21] Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”

So, dear friend, what makes you so sure that if you saw God perform miracles, you would believe in Him, trust Him, and follow His Word? This author says you would not. These people in the Book of the Revelation did not start off believing in God, which is why they wound up not believing in God after they saw His miracles! Right this very moment, if you are rejecting the doctrine contained in this study, you are already on the wrong path. You cannot arrive at the city of faith if you are bent on traveling down the road of unbelief. Remember our “word to the wise” issued at the beginning of our study!

XII. SATAN’S MIRACLES

When dealing with skeptics and Bible scoffers, this author always likes to point out that the occurrence of “supernatural” or “inexplicable” events does not necessarily prove God exists and/or that God is at work. In fact, Scripture presents another character who has a ministry designed to mimic the ministry of Almighty God. This creature is Satan, or the Devil. It would do us well here to briefly describe his work.

A. MATTHEW 7:21-23

The simplest way to prove Satan works is to appeal to Matthew chapter 7: “[21] Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. [22] Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? [23] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” There were certainly miracles performed here, not just “tricks” or “sleights-of-hand”—and Jesus Christ said He had nothing to do with them! Rather, He called them “iniquity” (evil). Who performed them? Satan through sinful men!!

B. DEUTERONOMY 13:1-5

Deuteronomy chapter 13 highlights Satan’s counterfeit miracle ministry yet again: “[1] If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, [2] And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; [3] Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. [4] Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. [5] And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.” These miracles came to pass, and yet God said He had nothing to do with them! Satan was active instead, which necessitated the death of the human participant.

 C. MATTHEW 24:24 & MARK 13:22

Turn to read these words of Christ in Matthew 24:24: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” And, Mark 13:22: “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” These are miraculous phenomena indeed… but Christ said they are nothing but deception! The next point relates to this idea.

D. 2 THESSALONIANS 2:8-12

Second Thessalonians chapter 2 is the cross-reference to the earlier passage: “[8] And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: [9] Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, [10] And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. [11] And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: [12] That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” These are future events from our day—and if Satan will perform miracles to deceive then that means he has the power to do them today! How do we know the “miracles” we seek to show God exists, may in fact be miracles to show Satan exists?! Friend, this is the danger of asking for miracles in unbelief, so we had better think twice before seeking them!

XIII. CONCLUSION

Dear Christian friend reading this, precious brother or sister in Christ, never be intimidated when someone objects and challenges you with, “If only I saw a miracle, then I would trust Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour. I will believe and follow the Bible if you can show me a miracle, a sign from God, evidence that He is really there.” Considering the wealth of information in the Scriptures that we just reviewed, miracles in and of themselves do not guarantee conversion. If the heart of the witness is not right before Almighty God, myriads of miracles have no lasting, positive impact. There is no appropriate view of miracles in the first place, so miracles are being requested for the wrong reasons.

Why do some people in the Bible witness miracles and respond in faith, while others who see those same miracles refuse to believe? The difference is the heart attitude. If there is a sincere heart, there will be faith. Unbelief is the result of being dishonest (assuming you know more than God, supposing you can live without God and get away with it, asserting God does not exist, claiming you can wish God away, and so on). No one will be persuaded because they outright refuse to be swayed. It is an act of defiance—plain and simple boldness. They have no intention of listening to God’s Word, despite the abounding evidence to support it. Psalm 14:1 speaks of such fools. Proverbs 18:1-2 speaks of such fools. Proverbs 29:1 speaks of such fools.

Before the atheist, agnostic, freethinker, and Bible skeptic arrives at the point of rejection, he first rebuffs the miracle of the Bible text itself. He does not believe that God the Holy Spirit miraculously furnished us with the Bible some 2,000 years ago. Since he starts off by denying Scripture, should we expect him to believe after seeing other miracles like Bible miracles? In other words, if the first and most important miracle did not convince him, is it logical to conclude that the other miracles will? What if he saw 100 miracles? Or 1,000? Or 10,000… 100,000… 1,000,000? The patterns are already established in the Bible. He asks for the miracle, not sincerely, but to challenge or defy God. All that will result is more unbelief, more disobedience, more arrogance toward Him.

Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The Bible is for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness. If we do not listen to what Almighty God has to say in His written Word, we are rejecting its reproof and correction. According to Proverbs 29:1, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” The more reproof from the Bible someone hears, if he is opposed to hearing it, the more he will be antagonistic toward it the next time around. This applies to miraculous demonstrations as well.

Miracles in Scripture are designed to communicate sound doctrine. The LORD God performed miraculous demonstrations, not merely to help people avoid pain and escape difficulties, but to teach them various principles. Those who had responded in faith to information God previously revealed, these people were those willing to believe even more from Him. This is not where today’s Bible challenger is. The atheist, agnostic, freethinker, or skeptic is substituting visible miracles for believing the Bible text. He does not believe the Bible, the basis for miracles, but he will look for a miracle before believing the Bible. Does that make no sense? No! No wonder this never gets the scoffers anywhere. Even if God were in the business today of intervening for physical eyes to see, the ridiculer would remain in spiritual darkness. He already avoided the Bible, the basis for all the miracles God Almighty does.

Lastly, above all, in this the Dispensation of Grace, we “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). We have a completed Bible, so we do not need partial knowledge in the form of a miracle healing, raising from the dead, et cetera. God has already spoken in the 66 Books of the Bible. Are we willing to read that miraculous Book—and believe it? “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Are we humble enough to believe in our heart that miraculous message unto forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a home in Heaven? This will be far more important than “seeking this sign” or “seeking that sign” to prove God’s existence!

Also see:
» What are some verses to help me stop focusing on myself?
» Why did God command Israel not to seethe a young goat in his mother’s milk?
» Are we “doom and gloom” prophecy believers?

Why did the God of the Bible authorize genocide?

WHY DID THE GOD OF THE BIBLE AUTHORIZE GENOCIDE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“The God of the Bible is a bloodthirsty monster. He advocated genocide—the merciless killing of innocent women and children. Why?”

Above is the highly sensitive inquiry that is the most favorite crutch of Bible ridiculers. Dear friends, we must remove it by demonstrating it to be the specious argument that it is. For far too long, Christians (also without knowledge) have permitted mockers to carelessly use the Bible against them. The ignorance concerning this issue is one primary reason why Holy Scripture is endlessly derided. They are all uninformed regarding the things of God! Our goal in the ensuing paragraphs is to fully explain from the Scriptures why the God of the Bible supported genocide (the violent annihilation of entire peoples).

Moreover, it is argued that Allah’s jihad—Islam’s holy war against non-Muslims—is justified because the God of Judaism and Christianity also called for the extermination of unbelievers. Therefore, Jews and Christians (supposedly) should not object to Muslims beheading non-Muslims. How could the God of the Bible encourage the Israelites to commit genocide? Is it not cruel for JEHOVAH God to command the Jews to kill even Gentile children living in the land of Canaan? As Bible-believing Christians, we should have an intelligent response prepared for any sincere seekers. We would be honored to show you how to reply most effectively.

REALITY CHECK!

Without doubt, there is nothing sillier or more pathetic than when a mortal man complains that Almighty God “should have done this” or “should not have done that.” In case you have not noticed, friend, none of us are God!! Consequently, we should stop dictating to Him what we foolishly think He should have or should not have done. Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Friends, the LORD God has His reasons for whatever He says or does, whether or not we understand them. We can be absolutely sure, beyond any (ANY!) shadow of a doubt, that whatever He does is completely justified. It does not matter if we agree with Him. He is still (and will always be) right! It does not matter if we approve of what He did. He did not have to consult us or ask our permission. It will be a happy day in the lives of billions when they stop pretending to be God and start remembering that we are weaklings and preschoolers compared to Him. Dearly beloved, it is high time for us to quit claiming to be the Creator and be content with being the creature!

THE LAND OF CANAAN: HEATHEN TRESPASSERS

It is highly important that we pause to understand the character and behavior of the Gentiles who lived in the land of Canaan before the Jewish nation entered under their leader Joshua. Those Gentiles were actually living in land that was not their own. Long before Israel was in Egyptian slavery, the LORD God had promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his seed forever. Genesis 15:13-16 records that oath: “[13] And he [the LORD God] said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; [14] And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. [15] And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. [16] But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”

Also, Genesis 17:3-8: “[3] And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, [4] As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. [5] Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. [6] And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. [7] And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. [8] And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

Abraham’s son, Isaac, and Isaac’s son, Jacob, were heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 26:1-5; Genesis 27:27-29; Genesis 28:12-15). Jacob fathered 12 sons who became the patriarchs of Israel’s 12 tribes, and these 12 tribes inherited the Abrahamic Covenant (Exodus 2:23-25; Deuteronomy 1:6-10). When famine struck Canaan, Jacob and the 12 tribes migrated south to Egypt (Genesis chapters 45–50). This is how the Book of Genesis concludes. The Book of Exodus opens with Israel not only dwelling in Egypt now, but also slaves to the Egyptians (Exodus chapters 1–2).

When God delivers the Jews from Egypt and brings them to the borders of the Promised Land under Moses, they refuse to enter because of unbelief (Numbers chapters 13–14; cf. Hebrews 3:7–4:10). Therefore, the LORD God let Israel wander for 40 years in the desert until that generation of unbelievers died off. Moses expires and God buries him at the end of Deuteronomy. Under Joshua, the nation Israel enters the Promised Land. We will stop, as this is enough background for our purposes here. We move on to the Bible’s “genocide” passages that greatly vex people.

Deuteronomy 20:16: “But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:….” Joshua 10:40: “So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.” Joshua chapter 11: “[11] And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire…. [14] And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe.”

Joshua chapter 10: “[28] And that day Joshua took Makkedah, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof he utterly destroyed, them, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain: and he did to the king of Makkedah as he did unto the king of Jericho…. [30] And the LORD delivered it also, and the king thereof, into the hand of Israel; and he smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain in it; but did unto the king thereof as he did unto the king of Jericho…. [32] And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, which took it on the second day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein, according to all that he had done to Libnah. [33] Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining.

“[35] And they took it on that day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish…. [37] And they took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof, and all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon; but destroyed it utterly, and all the souls that were therein. [39] And he took it, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining: as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the king thereof; as he had done also to Libnah, and to her king. [40] So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.”

The God of the Bible, the God of creation, had given the land of Canaan to Israel. During the 40 years of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness, the Gentiles in Canaan heard the news of the parting of the Red Sea and God’s destruction of Egypt. They knew that the land belonged to Israel, and yet they were still there when Israel arrived under Joshua. They were usurpers, people cooperating with Satan to corrupt the land that God had reserved for Himself. Almighty God, JEHOVAH God, the Creator of the Earth, could give the land to whomever He wanted. It was nobody’s land but His, and He had a right to give it to Israel’s 12 tribes. “For all the earth is mine(Exodus 19:5). “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).

Some three centuries after Joshua, JEHOVAH God instructed Israel’s first king, Saul, in 1 Samuel chapter 15: “[1] Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. [2] Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. [3] Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. Since Amalek fought and attempted to steal God’s provision from Israel centuries earlier (Exodus 17:8-16), God would see to it that Amalek’s descendants be thoroughly destroyed (cf. Deuteronomy 25:17-19). They cursed Israel, and now God would curse them (Genesis 12:3).

WHY KILL THE YOUNG CHILDREN, ESPECIALLY THE BABIES?

Surely, God did not view the young children and babies as evildoers when they were unable to know right from wrong. We do not know God’s mind here, as Scripture is silent in these passages. However, there is enough revelation given elsewhere in the Bible to allow us to make inferences.

Firstly, Almighty God gave the land of Canaan to the Israelites. If Gentile children were allowed to remain therein, then they would have grown up and outnumbered God’s people in their own land. Pharaoh King of Egypt had adopted a similar mentality when dealing with multiplying Israel in Exodus 1:7-14. With the Jews experiencing a population explosion, Pharaoh realized that they would eventually side with Egypt’s enemies in wartime. The Egyptians would lose their authority in their own territory. The same was true with Israel and the heathen inhabitants of Canaan. The Gentiles had to be removed so God could reclaim the land for Himself. God’s nation needed to flourish, and the only way was to remove the competition. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

Secondly, it was actually to the Gentiles’ benefit that their children be killed. When we read about the horrible acts that the nations committed in God’s land before He brought Israel into it (we will read those Bible passages shortly), we can see that these youngsters were spared adult lives of pagan darkness and utter wickedness. There is no doubt in this author’s mind that God had mercy on these little ones’ souls, and they did not meet the eternal doom their parents did. The same could be said of all the millions of young children who perished in the Great Flood of Noah’s day. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

Thirdly, at least some of these heathen children carried the genes that gave rise to the giants in the Promised Land. These giants were Satan’s primary method in discouraging Israel from fighting to possess the land in Moses’ day (see Numbers 13:26-33; Deuteronomy 3:11; Deuteronomy 9:1-2). The corrupt seed-line had to be exterminated—and it was by means of the efforts of David (killing Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:4-58) and others (2 Samuel 21:1-22)! “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

Lastly, had God not commanded Israel to fight and slay in battle all the Gentiles of Canaan, Satan’s policy of evil would have continued unabated in the Earth. The property—yea, all the planet—would be polluted again with idolatry. Through Noah, functioning as a prophet, God had cursed Canaan and his children (Genesis 9:25-27). God knew that Israel would have to come centuries later into the Promised Land and conquer the evil Canaanites. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

At this point, a simple question must be asked, friends. Do you let strangers come into your house and take over as if it were their own? Do you throw your children out and let foreigners enter and eat all your food, use your amenities, and sleep in your beds? No? Then do not get upset with JEHOVAH God when He refused to let His enemies take over and enjoy His land! You have your right to personal property, and so does the Creator God. He does not have to check with anyone before determining who is and who is not going to enter His property. He makes the rules. Again, we should stop being disrespectful, cease our prideful claims, and start showing reverence to our Maker. He does not owe us one thing. Without Him, we would not even exist. He is self-sufficient, and does not need us. Show Him some respect!!

THE LAND OF CANAAN: HEATHEN DEFILEMENT

Deuteronomy 18:9-14 delineates for us the Satanic influence in the land of Canaan as operating in and through the Gentiles:

“[9] When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. [10] There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. [11] Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. [12] For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. [13] Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God. [14] For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.” 

The LORD God told Israel, in Leviticus 18:24-30, not to repeat the errors of the Gentiles in the Promised Land: “[24] Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: [25] And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. [26] Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: [27] (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled; ) [28] That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. [29] For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. [30] Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.”

The warning is repeated again, in Leviticus 20:22-26: “[22] Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out. [23] And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. [24] But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people. [25] Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. [26] And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.”

What were the horrific and specific sins of the Gentiles living in Canaan when Israel entered? Read Leviticus chapters 18–20, a really eye-opening section of Scripture!!

WHAT SHOULD WE CHRISTIANS BELIEVE AND DO TODAY?

Do the aforementioned verses mean that Christianity today involves killing non-Christians? No!! Today, in the Age of Grace, the God of the Bible offers peace to us through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. All nations have access to Him by faith in Calvary’s sacrifice. The ground is level at the foot of Calvary’s cross. We do not have to become converts of any special religion (Judaism) to have a right standing before God. No water baptism is necessary. Speaking in tongues is unnecessary. Sabbath-day keeping is not required. No confession of sin is needed. No commandment-keeping is necessary.

It should also be noted that the God of the Bible is not interested in purging or reclaiming the Earth today. He is currently forming the Church the Body of Christ, a heavenly people, who will be His agents in establishing His headship in the government of the heavenly places (read Ephesians chapters 1–3 and Colossians chapter 1). In time past, He was interested in cleansing the Earth of Satan’s policy of evil. That purpose has been temporarily suspended because its prophetic program has been paused. God is operating our Dispensation of Grace today, the mystery program, which we read about in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

Also see:
» How can God be jealous and not sin?
» “Neither round the corners of your heads nor mar the corners of your beard?”
» “Neither make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead nor print any marks on you?”

Can you explain Acts 19:13-16?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN ACTS 19:13-16?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Let us begin by reading that passage in context: “[10] And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia [western Turkey] heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. [11] And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: [12] So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

“[13] Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. [14] And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. [15] And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? [16] And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. [17] And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.”

Miraculous demonstrations are not the norm in the Apostle Paul’s ministry. As we saw, they are therefore termed special miracles” (verse 11). Handkerchiefs or aprons were taken from Paul’s body, and distributed to heal the sick and cast out devils. This last miracle—exorcism—introduces verses 13-16.

Verse 13 reports, “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.” Pictured here is apostate Israel, wandering about with no certain dwelling. They have been rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ for some 20 years, and thus still have no idea where they are going spiritually. Operating independently of God, they are working under Satan’s power (see John 8:44). Through them, Satan will attempt to cast out his own associates. What is Satan’s purpose here? Doubtless, he is endeavoring to counterfeit the exorcisms Paul performs through the Lord’s power.

When performing the exorcisms, these vagabond Jews do not say “We adjure [command] you by Jesus,” but rather, “We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.” They freely acknowledge that they do not have Christ Jesus’ power, so they must rely on the authority of Jesus Christ imparted to Paul. Again, this is Israel nationally, under Satan’s control. Self-willed and fleshly-motivated, they will demonstrate themselves to be amateurs at dominating the spirit world.

Verse 14: “And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.” These priests should be in Jerusalem at the Temple but here they are drifting aimlessly. Sceva, chief of the priests, leads his seven sons who are false teachers and false prophets. Israel is typified again, wallowing in spiritual darkness and ignorance. They are “blind leaders of the blind” (Matthew 15:14). Second Corinthians chapter 11 reminds us: “[13] For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. [14] And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. [15] Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

Verse 15 of Acts chapter 19 again: “And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” These devils (unclean spirits, Satan’s cohorts) recognize the name and power of Jesus—even when unbelieving Israel does not! Mark 1:24 records an evil spirit as saying: “Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. Compare that to James 2:19: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”

You may also see Matthew 8:29: “And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” And, Luke 8:28: “When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not.” Finally, Mark 5:7: “And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.”

Continue in Acts 19:16: “And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” Judgment fell on lost Israel, and how brutal was that judgment! These seven sons of Sceva quickly exit the house as losers, literally naked and injured, likely scared beyond their wildest imaginations!!! No victory is available to them because they are divorced from the power of the God of creation—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What a sad commentary on Israel’s spiritual condition here in the Book of Acts… two decades after Calvary! Instead of coming to Father God by faith in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, they would rather still waste their time in unbelief and silliness.

The passage ends with verse 17: “And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.”

Also see:
» Could you explain Acts 19:1-7?
» Can you explain Paul’s “Acts” ministry?
» Why does the Book of Acts end so abruptly?

What does the Bible say about “ghosts?”

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT “GHOSTS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

With the Halloween season upon us, the topic of ghosts has re-entered the public arena as it does every year. Just so we are clear—to make sure we are following the same line of thought—we must open with the definition of “ghost” as found in The Oxford English Dictionary: “an apparition of a dead person which is believed to appear or become manifest to the living, typically as a nebulous image.” The word originated from the Old English gast (in the sense ‘spirit, soul’).

Bearing the above definition in mind, are “ghosts” real? Do dead people actually return in some bizarre form and show themselves to us the living? Or, is there some other explanation, such as a natural one? What Bible verses can help us? In this, our special-edition 550th Bible Q&A article, we ask, “For what saith the Scriptures?”

I. A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

Through the centuries, witnesses have reported the following phenomena associated with “ghosts:”

  • Mediums/psychics, Ouija Boards, and the like may be used to “contact” them.
  • Deceased individuals supposedly return to the land of the living to protect their family or friends in times of danger.
  • The “ghost” often haunts (frequents) a “special place”—house, field, bridge, hospital, school, roadway, cemetery, or another area or structure. Some such locales have violent histories (namely, battles and murders).
  • “Fogs,” “mists,” “hazes,” and cold air may accompany “ghostly” visits.
  • Some “ghosts” closely, or wholly, resemble their living counterparts. Other times, they are hideous presences.
  • “Spirits” appear to relay comforting messages such as, “I am now in a better place, so do not worry about me. My suffering is over and now I am happy. I forgive you and I love you. I am going to watch over you. Farewell.”
  • In certain instances, “ghosts” are malevolent (evil)—playfully mischievous or annoying to downright vengeful and terrifying.
  • Allegedly, objects float and/or fly around the room. They may disappear only to inexplicably reappear somewhere else altogether.
  • Luminous orbs or flashes of light may be observed.
  • Strange noises are heard, especially at night—chains rattling, footsteps, whisperings, laughter, dragging, creaking, screaming, banging, wailing, and disembodied voices. Crimes may be reenacted in a “spirit theatre.”
  • Certain people have claimed to levitate (float) during the ordeal.
  • These “ghosts” mysteriously come and go, without warning, some appearing for days, months, or years.

II. A LENGTHY CORRECTION

The Bible declares, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Lost people die and go to Hell. They do not return to visit us on Earth! When Christians leave this physical body, they “are present with the Lord” in Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:8). They do not leave Heaven to come visit us on Earth! This is the standard today in this “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2). More will be said about dispensational changes later. 

When dealing with “ghostly” tales, what we can never do is argue with what people heard or did not hear, see or did not see, tasted or did not taste, smell or did not smell, and felt or did not feel. It is impossible to access their senses and experience the world using their faculties. Unless we were present during the “ghostly” meeting, we can neither confirm nor deny it from a firsthand perspective. However, the one thing we can say—regardless of what was seen, felt, heard, smelled, or tasted—is that the Bible is right. The deceased do not visit the living, as those departed souls are either in Heaven (Christians) or Hell (everyone else). Then, what was the “ghost?” Obviously, not every “ghost story” can be dismissed as complete fabrication.

The following six issues should be considered when addressing the subject of “ghosts:” (A) Imaginations, (B) Superstitions/Religions, (C) Emotions, (D) Memory, (E) Dreams, and (F) Science and the Natural World. We will treat each issue, not exhaustively, but summarily.

A. IMAGINATIONS

“And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done” (Genesis 8:21).

“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 (Romans 1:21).

Ephesians chapter 2: “[1] And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; [2] Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: [3] Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

Man’s imagination—his creative genius—is naturally perverted because of sin. Satan operates an evil world system that feeds that imagination (see 1 John 2:15-16, Galatians 1:4, Luke 4:5-8, et cetera). Point B, superstitions and religions (which we will discuss later), is one segment of that system. Superstitions, and all religions save Judaism, are manmade. As will be noted in point B, ancient peoples used their artistic powers to describe the origin of the natural world and life itself, as well as the existence of assorted “deities” (gods, good and bad) in the spirit world interacting with us. Modern creative people recycle and re-recycle those ideas—adapting them into books, films, and so on. Finally, audiences absorb that information, eventually giving it a new “spin” by combining it with their own life experiences or worldviews.

Friends, while living in reality, fiction can still creep in via our imagination. For example, have you ever “seen” something move in the shadows—when nothing was really there? It is not uncommon to find someone exposed to horror shows as a child who, as an adult, is still fearful of the dark and waiting for “monster” to attack him or her. Do you ever find yourself nervous or easily startled after reading scary literature or viewing frightening images? You are all “hyped up!” See, our imaginations can run wild with us… and superstitions and religions further influence us. Remember, superstitions and religions originated in the minds of imaginative people centuries and millennia ago. This will lead us to point B.

B. SUPERSTITIONS/RELIGIONS

For thousands of years, religion and folklore have attempted to explain things unknown—including “ghostly” visitors. Since these accounts can be ridiculous, there is an appeal to “objective science” and rationale for a “final,” “logical” resolution. (We will get to that in point F. Thank you for your patience.)

According to Genesis chapter 3, religion is man’s oldest “crutch.” If he believed the greatest spiritual lie in the Garden of Eden (that he can sin against God and then “do good” to make up for it—be his own god and formulate his own set of rules), then he is liable to receive every other spiritual falsehood, too! These various and sundry spiritual beliefs permeate every culture. World religions are immensely diverse, having their assorted elucidations of why the world exists and how it works or should work. See Romans 1:18-32, Acts 14:15-17, and Acts 17:22-31. These truths are connected to the Tower of Babel—where the nations willfully abandoned the one true God, the Creator, and worshipped idols (evil spirits or devils) instead (Genesis chapter 11). We need not wonder why the world is so dark and wicked.

Today’s writers and filmmakers draw on the above ancient sources for inspiration, incorporating them into their works of art. Such ideas are then introduced into and perpetuated in the modern world through “science fiction,” “horror,” and/or “fantasy” media—television shows, internet websites, films, books, and so on. The audience’s emotions now have something to latch onto, which leads us to point C.

C. EMOTIONS

Let us be honest. No one likes an dull, miserable life. By God’s design, we all desire peace, joy, love, and excitement. This is where our imaginations (remember point A?) can get the best of us, though, so we must exercise great caution. To what lengths (however extreme) will we go to obtain peace, joy, love, and excitement? Jeremiah 17:9 was quite express in its declaration: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” There are two unflattering truths here. The human heart is (1) “deceitful above all things” and (2) “desperately wicked.” Not just “deceitful” but “deceitful above all things!” Not just “wicked” but desperately wicked!” Can you sense the gravity of such realities?

Emotions, already misleading (and having no mind of their own), make us vulnerable—especially in times of difficulty. Now we see why bereaved parents get “ghostly visitations” from their departed children, and grieving spouses experience “spirit appearances” after the death of their significant others. Seeking comfort and peace, their troubled minds resort to points A and B, information that is available to them and is useful in coping with the loss. “Perhaps they can come back to us like in the folktales, the movies, the novels,….” That personal touch makes them feel so good inside. Occasionally, we all want a good thrill, something to really shock us, to awe us. It can be a good or bad surprise. “Ghosts” can do just that—provide a good scare—but they do come at the price of falling for delusions!!

If emotionally-driven people surround us, they can, obviously, influence our emotions. Think of the “power of suggestion,” for instance. Emotional people alert us when entering the “haunted house.” Our experience in the “haunted house” is based on how receptive we are to that warning (believe or doubt). Or, those individuals mourning the deaths of loved ones have already seen and heard media (movies, stories, et cetera) in which deceased people return to visit and comfort the living. They are conditioned, more likely to “see” such an event themselves. Again, just how far will we “follow our hearts” to achieve our perverted goal? Keep reading!

D. MEMORY

Dear friends, the human brain—which we still do not fully understand and will never fully appreciate—has an impressive ability known as memory. We can recall information we acquired (read or heard) just seconds earlier… or even several decades ago. Our past experiences and the people we met in life, for example, can we not still see and hear them in our mind as if we were reliving those moments in real-time? It is as if they are sitting right beside us, speaking to us—although they expired several years ago!

As we would insert and play a CD or DVD in a machine, our brain can “play” audio and video clips from our library of life’s memories. Try this experiment. Close your eyes. Can you not vividly picture a loved one who died 10 years back? Try to remember that person’s voice now. Do you hear it playing in your mind? Perhaps it even sounds like something audible, as if others around you could almost hear it as well? Your brain, in some mysterious way, stored that data and has retrieved it for you! Some memories are more difficult to recover than others, but they are all still there—in the deepest parts of the brain tissue. Every last image and word you have ever seen and heard, they are indeed stored away in your brain! This brings us to point E.

E. DREAMS

Friends, have you ever had a dream that seemed so realistic, and yet it was also nonsensical? How confusing! Maybe you woke and sat up in a panic after a nightmare, drenched in sweat and wondering if what you just experienced was reality. (Also, some life experiences are so traumatic they almost seem like bad dreams.) It can be sometimes difficult to separate fact from fiction here, as the transition from wakefulness to sleep is gradual. Disorientation is common in such situations. It takes a while to “fully awaken” or “fully fall sleep.”

Sleep occurs in stages, deepening and then lessening. Non-rapid eye movement (nREM) sleep is followed by rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep. That second phase, REM, is where our “life-like” dreams occur. It becomes increasingly challenging to discern where reality stops and dreaming starts. On an average night, we dream for approximately two hours (a quarter of our sleeping time). Potentially, over our lifetime, we can dream for 50,000 hours (six years)! That is a lot of time for our brain to process and mull over assorted thoughts.

As best as we understand it, dreams are simply our brain organizing information that we have acquired in the past (especially the recent past). Think of sorting related documents, putting them into separate folders, and finally arranging them all in a filing cabinet. If we were exposed to superstitions recently (books, movies, stories, et cetera), those will be filed away as well. This loops back to points A, B, C, and D. Our mind takes concepts just learned, finds related notions already stored, and places them in conjunction. A “web” is built, with paths to each point/file, connecting them all together. This system is useful to us when we list associated ideas on a sheet of paper.

When we think of death, for example, we will then think of—loved ones who have died, news articles we have read about death, movies and books that we watched that focused on death, scenes in those movies and books that stressed “supernatural encounters and visitations,” religious ideas we have heard about death, and (of course) our imaginations and emotions assemble that into one “jumbled soup.” We can access this gigantic pool of information and extract what is needed to provide us with entertainment, joy, comfort, and acceptance. Depending on what we seek, the “ghosts” thrill us, relieve us, make us happy, make us feel safe, and so on. In short, our dreams draw on our situation at any moment, and while the dreams feel real, they are not.

F. SCIENCE AND THE NATURAL WORLD

(Before proceeding any further, it should be known that this author is a trained scientist with many, many years of formal scientific training at the university level. He is not to be dismissed as some “scientifically-illiterate, Bible buffoon!”)

Skeptics of “ghosts” and cynics of all spirit beings resort to science to disprove all “supernatural” experiences (their ultimate goal is to disprove God’s existence, freeing themselves from the responsibility of personal sins and their responsibility of believing the Bible!). They are correct in appealing to their five senses for something more reliable than, say, old fables passed on by rumor, in unclear texts, and so on. “Ghosts” may also, in fact, have a natural explanation (not just those discussed in Part II, but forces in the natural world apart from the human body). As Bible believers, we would tend to believe supernatural events as true and of God. However, not all supernatural phenomena are good (they can be lies of Satan, who also works in the invisible realm). Not all supernatural events are of God. Since the Bible—the complete Bible—leads us to a certain conclusion about “ghosts,” it is appropriate for us to dismiss them as something other than visitors from the grave. Where the Bible is silent, science can allow us windows into such phenomena—especially with regards to natural forces.

In addition to the components of imagination, superstition/religion, emotions, memory, and dreams, there may be a natural-world explanation for “ghosts”—the wind blowing, squeaky hinges on doors, a structure sagging under its own weight due to gravity, some natural light phenomenon, a building settling on its foundation, minor earthquakes, subsidence (sinking of land), and so on. These noises could produce auditory data that the brain then “reads something into” (go back to points A, B, C, D, and E). Think of supposed “familiar shapes” in cloud formations. Our brain tries to make sense of the random orientation of water vapor droplets, but, of course, we are “connecting the dots” (inserting visual data that is not explicitly there). We attempt to find comprehension in sounds as well—listening for phonemes (distinct speech sounds) when there are none to be heard (as in a whistling breeze, rumbling, sneezing, coughing, et cetera).

This last point was mentioned with one overall goal in mind. We need not fear scientists who boast that they have “disproven the Bible” or “all things supernatural and spiritual are figments of imagination” simply because they have found no credible evidence of true ghosts (namely, life after death, those who have experienced death and returned to provide details). They can brag that our existence ceases after physical death, since they have never meet genuine spirits of any deceased souls. It makes no difference whatsoever to us; no more difference that one who crows the color purple does not exist because he cannot hear it! God’s Word to us, the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon, make it clear that the dead (while physically separated from us) are very much alive in the spirit world (believers in Christ are in Heaven and all else are in Hell). We do not have to see them, just like we do not have to see God Himself to know He exists. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). We believe the Bible, and that is that!

This author can hear the objections, “Brother Shawn, but were not people raised from the dead in the Bible?” “Do you not believe in miracles?” “Were there not angelic appearances in Bible days?” “Did not the apostles assume they saw a ghost on the Sea of Galilee?” “Was it not King Saul who desired dead Samuel to commune with him at the witch’s séance?” He would be quite happy to reply!

III. BUT WHAT ABOUT THESE VERSES?!

What about when King Saul visited the witch of Endor and conjured up dead Samuel’s soul from the spirit world? First Samuel 28:7-15: “[7] Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor. [8] And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee. [9] And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die? [10] And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing. [11] Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel. [12] And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul. [13] And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth. [14] And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself. [15] And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.”

In time past, when the battle was focused on the Earth, and (visible) supernatural experiences were common, various spirits did materialize. These were either good angels (God’s servants) or devils (evil angels). Evil spirits could be summoned, especially with witchcraft (Saul consulting the witch of Endor). (Although it is highly important to note that God was very displeased with Saul, as evidenced by Deuteronomy 18:9-14. He seems to have lost his life because of it, shortly after, in battle.) There were various gods ascending, evil spirits, the witch said in 1 Samuel 28:13. The spirit world was set up differently back then than it is today. We do not read about anything like this occurring in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. There is no such visible spirit activity in this the Dispensation of Grace, although there is certainly an invisible spiritual battle today in the invisible heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 1:16). Since God changed His dealings with man, Satan changed his dealings as well. Satan works through evil doctrine, false teaching, an invisible realm today (1 Timothy 4:1-3).

When the disciples saw the Lord Jesus walking on water, they thought He was a spirit. After all, no ordinary man could do what He was doing! Matthew 14:26: “And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear” (Mark 6:49). Whatever the disciples were looking for (the Greek word is phantasma, or phantasm—a ghost), they were certainly not looking for Christ! It is not important that they supposed Him to be a ghost. The point is that He was not a ghost at all, but rather a flesh-and-blood person like us! If it really were a ghost here, that would be a whole different matter entirely. We are not interested in assumptions but rather facts. The fact is that He was not a ghost.

Could “ghosts” be angels?, someone may ask. Well, let us try Acts 12:15, “And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.” Peter was released after an angel visited him. When Peter now stands at the door of some believers, they assume him to really be “his angel.” Guardian angels would appear to people in Bible days (just as one had appeared to Peter in prison earlier in the chapter). Yet, again, like Matthew 14:26 above, Peter as an “angel” here is a wrong assumption. It was a flesh-and-blood man. (We will say a little more about angels shortly.)

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Dispensational Bible study is the key to answering “but what about” verses. The spirit world operated differently in Bible days than how it functions today. Almighty God was working in physical manifestations—angelic appearances, dreams, miracle healings, raisings from the dead, and so on. Since God did them in time past, He must be doing them today, right? No! They did not have a complete revelation from God. We, however, do (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Colossians 1:23-27). We have a complete Bible, whereas they did not. Whenever someone says “God never changes dealings with man,” that is a flat-out lie. There was a time when there was no Bible at all for man, and now we have a whole Bible. Such two facts cannot be confused unless we wanted to confuse them! Furthermore, hese miracles were in connection with Israel, as “the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22). Such signs are not for us because we are not Jews!

God deals with us differently in this the Dispensation of Grace, so we should not be looking for extra-biblical (outside of the Bible) communications from any spirit creatures. Hence, (and pay close attention here!!!) we read in Colossians 2:18: “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,….” Angels are not appearing to us today. (Modern versions and their underlying Greek text remove the word “not,” whereas our King James Bible has it. There is certainly a difference between “yes” and “no!!”) Whatever people are witnessing today as “supernatural visitations” (angels, ghosts, “Jesus,” “God,” whatever) the Bible says they are not realistic. It is something in the mind, a hallucination, an emotional upheaval, and the like. We are not really seeing them in the material world. It would certainly not be the God of the Bible either. Sinful man (operating under Satan’s evil world system) is the author of such activities.

IV. CAN CHRISTIANS EXPERIENCE “GHOSTLY” PHENOMENA?

Yes, they could, actually. A Christian woman (this author knows her testimony—she is saved) once told him personally how, while there was nothing visual, she heard behind her the voice of a relative who had died many months earlier. The voice called out her name. How vivid and crisp that voice was, but she turned around to see no one there. This author would not doubt that she “heard” something, but was it really that loved one speaking? Was it an audible voice? Based on what this author knows from the Bible about the condition of the dead (in Heaven or Hell), he would say no. The deceased person was not speaking. So then, what was it, you ask?

Remember, as we discussed in Part II, our memory is a powerful faculty. It is quite easy to hear in our minds the voices of people we knew throughout our life. We can picture them in our minds as though they were still living. Believe it or not, your brain has recorded your entire life. This author says this based on the statements of a neurosurgeon (brain surgeon). As mentioned earlier, we have embedded in our memory every image we have ever seen, every book we have ever read, and every conversation we have ever heard! These memories are difficult to access, but they can be recovered. The Christian lady, without being aware, summoned that thought of her deceased relative and she “heard” a “mental recording” of what the relative said while alive. That person’s death was still fresh on her mind, and her mind (sinful) tricked her. As per God’s design, the human brain is a very powerful organ, but sin has corrupted it. This author doubts we will ever be able to fully comprehend the mental capabilities God furnished us with!

Many, many years back, this author had a supernatural experience. A hideous face appeared on a mirror in his parents’ bedroom. Exactly how it formed there he could not determine. It was not drawn with a marker or etched with a blade, but was like a faint residue of some type. He and his mother both saw it, but his father said he did not. They wiped it away with a cloth and never saw it again. What could be a logical explanation for this? In reality, he and his parents had watched a horror movie earlier that week! He and his mother had been conditioned to such “supernatural” events with the film, whereas his father (although he watched the film) had not become engrossed in it as they had. They were all saved (members of the Body of Christ) at the time but they did not have any sound Bible doctrine. They were still stuck in denominationalism and superstition. It seems likely that this author and his mother were trying to “make sense” of something imprinted on the mirror. Perhaps they had a greater imagination than his father?

When this author was a small boy, he visited a local “haunted” antebellum (pre-Civil War—150-plus years old) plantation house. Despite its violent history, he did not recall seeing or hearing anything abnormal. Over a year ago, he toured another “haunted” Louisiana plantation mansion. While some visitors and staff have experienced strange sights and sounds over the years, nothing bizarre occurred while he was there. He simply was not open to that influence. His mind and heart did not entertain such notions. And, of course, he had matured in sound Bible doctrine to guard himself against Satan’s distractions anyway.

A Christian lady contacted this author long ago about constantly seeing an “evil spirit” at her bedside. There may have been mental illness on her part, although he cannot say for sure. However, it is interesting that she claimed the spirit was at her bedside of all places. In other words, she may have been dreaming, or in some dream-like state, and just did not realize it. As he listened to her, she showed herself to be so denominationally minded, tossed to and fro with all sorts of wild ideas. Her preacher had even given her a prescribed prayer to utter to make the spirit go away. This author gave her some Bible passages to read and believe, and never heard from her about it since! Whatever the outcome, he does not know.

V. CONCLUSION

We do not have all the answers, but we can say some things with absolute certainty or reasonable certainty. A “ghost” is generally defined as “an apparition of a dead person which is believed to appear or become manifest to the living, typically as a nebulous image.” Each “ghostly” experience is different, so to reduce all as the result of a single cause is short of the truth.

On the authority of the Holy Bible, though, we know that ghosts are not the dead returning to visit the living. When we “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), we do not read about angels appearing to us, or any deceased loved ones visiting us or speaking to us. Verses can be twisted and confused, but the rightly divided Bible simply cannot be used to support the idea of “walking by sight” today. Contrariwise, God says we walk by faith and not sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)! Whatever can be said about “ghosts,” the God of the Bible is not involved.

What happened in time past, when the battle was focused on the Earth, and supernatural experiences were common, various spirits did materialize. We are not under those conditions today. These were good angels and evil angels (devils). Evil spirits could be summoned, especially in the case of witchcraft. Think of King Saul visiting the witch at Endor to conduct a séance—various gods ascending, evil spirits coming out of the center of the Earth. The Apostles saw exorcisms during Christ’s earthly ministry. Evil spirits would literally flee from the bodies of the afflicted. Good angels appeared to people in Bible days. These angelic visitors certainly had the semblance of people—namely, men and not women (see Mark 16:5, Acts 1:10, Revelation 21:17, et cetera)!

“Ghosts” can result from a number of factors. Such a situation seems to originate from one factor, or any combination of the following factors with respect to the human body—(A) Imaginations, (B) Superstitions/Religions, (C) Emotions, (D) Memory, and (E) Dreams. Sin has corrupted our imagination—both individually (one human) and corporately (humanity). Satan operates an evil world system that feeds that imagination. These imaginations fabricate various superstitions and religions, as well as books and films on the “supernatural.” Since we are emotional creatures, and emotions are deceitful, they can cause our hearts to be “receptive” to practically any notion—no matter how far-fetched it is. People seeking comfort, thrills, joy, and love will imagine their departed family and friends returning to them for one last goodbye. They want to feel safe and at peace, so they will imagine deceased loved ones promising to protect them. Films, religion, superstition, books, all play into this experience of seeing “the supernatural.” Memories from real-life—people’s voices and faces—can be played in the mind, especially as a way to console and cope with their loss. Our mind will use all of this information to present a quite realistic “movie.”

What we consider “ghosts” today may be physical phenomena, explainable or unexplainable at present. The wind can whistle, old houses can creak and settle. Culture influences our imaginations to attribute these sounds and behaviors to “ghosts.” Horror movies and terrifying books have conditioned us to associate those noises with ghostly activities. Superstitions and religions are the foundation of a region’s folklore, remember. We must also face the reality that some people are outright faking “hauntings,” staging scenes and rigging props simply to gain attention, generate revenue with tours and interviews, write and sell books, et cetera. There is a possibility of mental illness. However, not everyone is faking or lying, and not everyone is mental ill!! It may be an overactive imagination, an emotional weakness, and so on. Even hallucinations—as with prescription or illegal drug use—seem quite real.

In one quick paragraph, we summarize: Without a doubt, there is an emotional aspect to “ghosts.” People want comfort, thrills, attention, joy, et cetera. There is the mental aspect. We have precious life memories that can be accessed at any time. Dreams access those memories, and make them more vivid. Popular culture—science fiction, along with fantasy and horror media—has conditioned us to look for spirits visiting us from beyond the grave (whether in dreams or real-life). The religious aspect—human nature is religious—and the imagination aspect—human nature is creative—all blend together to form our perception of experiences. If we are too engrossed in culture, and too shallow in Bible understanding, there is no limit to how far we will go to achieve our desires.

Also see:
» Does the Bible teach that mental illness is really devil possession?
» Do people become angels when they die?
» How can a loving God send people to hell forever?