Created Fri, July 25, 2008, updated Aug. 4, 2008
|Truths Are Hidden in Code
Surrounded by Lies
Persecution Hinders Us
|Will Many Be Saved?
Fighting the Good Fight
Our Flesh Hinders Us
Maybe you have heard something like this before:
"Understanding the Bible is easy, uncomplicated, obvious! Its people who make it unnecessarily complicated!"
Well, I am going to rip this to shreds right now.
I have heard the "easy" line a number of times in my life and have at one time believed it myself. And indeed, some things are not difficult to understand and people do often complicate things. But as a whole, I do not believe this is true in an absolute sense. I say as regards God's greater purpose, it is very challenging and difficult and it will be with great struggle that one tries to grasp the message of God. And why?
Because God hid and disguised His message; for God, like any army on earth, has enemies who God does not want in on His battle plan as it could affect His people adversely. So God sent us coded message for us to decipher. I have made that clear enough elsewhere on this site. As such, one does not decipher a hidden code quickly or easily. Given the God's enemies can be rather clever, the hidden code would also have to be clever and not easily broken, by friend or foe. This is the 1st part of the problem.
Daniel 8:15 And it happened when I, Daniel, had seen the vision, then I sought the meaning.
Daniel 8:17 . . . but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. 19 And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be.
Daniel 8:26 wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.
Daniel 10:14 Now I have come to make you understand what shall happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is yet for many days.
In fact, as Daniel makes clear in chapter 12:4:
(RSV) Daniel 12:4 But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase."
The visions given to Daniel were not meant for him to understand. It was said to him:
(GLT) Daniel 12:9 And He said, Go, Daniel! For the words are closed up and sealed until the end time. 10 Many shall be purified and made white and tested. But the wicked shall do wickedly. And not one of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.
12:13 But you go on to the end, for you shall rest and stand for your lot at the end of the days.
Daniel wanted to understand but the angel made it clear that it was not intended for him to understand. It was meant for another time and people in the last days. Till then, it would be sealed and hidden so that not one of the wicked would understand and only the righteous of that time would get it, and only by carefully searching and studying the word of God. It would not come easy for if it was easy, why even the wicked might understand it and that will not be the case.
Surrounded by Lies
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The devil is the king of lies. His name, devil, is a Hebrew name which means, in English, liar. The devil has saturated the world with lies. He killed off Adam and Eve with lies. He has so saturated the world with so many different lies that it is quite difficult to separate the truth from the lies. There are numerous branches of Christianity to confuse us doctrinally. There are other religions to choose from as well. There are political ideas to corrupt us. We have schools promoting "alternate" directions. We have TV, newspapers, magazines, books, radio, the internet and other media to deceive and mislead us. The governments, big business, phony religious leaders who want to make money. There are all sorts of people and organizations who want to fool, mislead, and use us and keep us from the pure decency of God and His ways. There are philosophies to carry us away with. Science is full of lies. Law and Justice are nothing but lies but sound nice unless you know the truth. Really, there is hardly anything honest or decent in our world.
Is it any wonder then, that we have so much trouble trying to learn the truth, since most sources do not want us to know the truth. They want to use us and exploit us to their benefit. Men lie to women and women to men, for everyone wants something from everyone else. Pure sincere kindness and caring are pretty much non-existent. It is a jungle and we are all the prey as well as predators. We who are Christians or try to be, try to be helpers and shepherds rather than predators but many are mislead and so unwittingly mislead others as a result.
Yes, "The Truth Is Out There," we are told but finding it is certainly a big challenge. We have just one saving grace in all this and that is God, who searches out the minds and hearts of people and reaches out to those who are looking. Were it not for the mercy, kindness, and grace of God, there would be no truth at all. But God established His word through His choice of channel, the nation of Israel at one point, and so today we have the Bible, 100% pure unadulterated undiluted truth. But people can and do twist and distort God's words so that even this is a challenge. But with a pure heart and great diligence and effort, we can obtain the truth if we really want it. And God knows if we really want it or not.
But surely you can see what a challenge is before us all in going after the truth. All people have things to gain from other people and would be tempted to use us, often to our own disadvantage, while serving their own advantage. To find someone who would try to preserve our advantage in seeking to gain anything from us, now that would be quite a thing! Only God does a thing like that and those who follow Him should also try to do the same. Love does not look out for its own interest says Paul in 1 Corinthians 13.. Love always seeks to preserve the interest of those it reaches out to.
Love is challenging in our day. Truth is rare and getting it full of obstacles in our day and throughout man's history. Little wonder that so few are finding the truth and keeping it. It is not easy! It is quite difficult and challenging to discern. We have so many other factors in this article that make it hard to get truth. But lies have been very effective making truth elusive to us all. Of course, it does not mean that truth can not be distinguished from lies. I believe that is truly easy if . . . and only if . . . we truly search out our hearts and be honest with ourselves, which also is very difficult. For we are always trying to fool ourselves deep inside. We can be our own worst enemies and usually are. We hate when others lie to us but we so often lie to ourselves and kid ourselves and comfort ourselves when we should be disciplining ourselves.
Persecution Hinders Us
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Note the next verses on how Christians will struggle to understand and obey God's law and obtain the kingdom.
Matthew 11:11 Truly I say to you, Not has arisen among those born of a woman any greater than John the Baptist. But the least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is. 12 But from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of Heaven "suffers violence" (Greek - Biazo), and the "violent" (Greek - Biastes) "seize" (Greek - Harpazo) it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to receive, he is Elijah, the one about to come. 15 The one having ears to hear, let him hear.
Luke 16:16 The Law and the Prophets were until John; from then the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is "pressing" (Greek - Biazo) into it.
I am going to try to make sense of these two scriptures by translating them together. First, both references state that the Law and the Prophets exist in Israel only up to John. That is the end of them. From that time onward, a new gospel (gospel meaning good news but having a bit larger meaning to Christians in the context of the Bible) and a new covenant is being announced, only to Israel in Jesus' day. Jesus refers to it frequently as the kingdom of God. This new covenant or deal had been foretold even by Moses as well as the prophets, yet no one was really understanding it, save the followers of Jesus, who he made it clear to. But even they did not get the full meaning till after Jesus died and rose again to explain more.
The next part could be more puzzling until you know the history of the early years. The translators say that the kingdom of the heavens suffers violence and that the violent seize it or they press into it. Knowing how the kingdom of God was persecuted as were its subjects, the disciples of Christ, it is easy to understand how the kingdom of God suffered violence, although the meaning is more like press or squeezed rather roughly or forcefully.
As for the violent seizing it or pressing into it, we need to do some more checking up on the translators.
Biazo: (reflexively) to crowd oneself (into), or (passively) to be seized:-- press, suffer violence.
Biastes: to force, i.e. (reflexively) to crowd oneself (into), or (passively) to be seized:-- press, suffer violence.
Harpazo: to seize (in various applications):-- catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force).
Basically, the kingdom of God is persecuted and so can said to suffer violence. And those who seek the kingdom also suffer violence trying to get in. They struggle, they are pressed, it is a challenging task to get in, for sure. They are not violent. Biastes does not indicate someone who is violent, it indicates someone who is passively seized and suffers a struggle or violence. We might call them the tormented or persecuted. As far as seizing it, harpazo, it is derived from a word that indicates a choice. So harpazo indicates a sort of choice, with some struggle involved, taking by struggle or force.
What Jesus was trying to indicate was that it would not be east to
get into the kingdom of God. It would come as a challenge, a
difficult challenge at that. And there would be those who would seize
the opportunity, but with difficulty and challenge. Everyone who
wants to get in will be challenged and struggle with difficulty to
get in. Certainly, not only with the world of tormenters but also
with our own flesh fighting with our spirit, sin always trying to
lead us astray. It is a worthy prize worth fighting for so we must be
willing to suffer to get it. Jesus often preached this idea as did
But given Jesus' many warnings about being asleep and the state of his followers, we have to wonder, will many be saved? Jesus had an interesting rhetorical question to pose.
(RSV) Luke 18:7 And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
Jesus assured us that God's vindication and salvation will be speedy. Still, he wonders if he will find the faith on the earth. Why does he ask? Is he in doubt? It would seem to me that he does not expect to find that much faith on earth when he returns. I hope I am wrong. But an examination of the facts available may indicate otherwise. Here are several more examples of how his words are translated.
(GLT) But the Son of man coming then, will He find faith on the earth?
(BBE) But when the Son of man comes, will there be any faith on earth?
(KJV) Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Consider Jesus' words here from the sermon on the mount.
Matthew 7:13 Go in through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are the ones who go through it. 14 For narrow is the gate, and constricted is the way that leads away into life, and few are the ones who find it.
According to Jesus, only a few are finding the narrow gate of life. How few is not certain. But evidently, in this next account in Luke, someone hears of what Jesus had earlier said and asks him about it.
Luke 13:22 And He went through by cities and villages, teaching and making progress toward Jerusalem. 23 And one said to Him, Lord, are the ones being saved few? But He said to them, 24 Labor to enter in through the narrow gate, for I say to you that many will seek to enter in and will not have strength.
Jesus here kind of narrows it even more. Originally he said that
few were finding it. Here he goes further and says that many will
seek to enter and not have the strength, determination, or will to
enter. So now it is only a few of the few who ar actually able to
find it and enter and walk the narrow road. That doesn't sound
promising, if you ask me.
Why, its so easy to get into the Kingdom of God, right? Well, apparently . . .WRONG!!! If it was easy, everyone would do it. But the devil will make sure that few will be able to do it by making it tough and discouraging people from trying and doing and succeeding.
In addition to persecution, the devil has sown many lies and deceptions in the world. In fact, it is said in the Bible that the whole world lies in the power of the wicked one. I didn't see any exceptions noted in that scripture. The whole world would necessarily include the USA. It can't be God's country and the devil's, too!
Now given that the world is being deceived and misled, what are the odds of us finding our way through that all and easily coming to the truth when all we have around us are lies and deceptions? Honestly, can it really be that easy? Sounds pretty hard to me. Sounds like the odds are against us.
We know the Devil has sown weeds among the good wheat so that it will be very confusing for any Christian to get to the truth. Otherwise, why do we have so many Christian religions to choose from? If it was easy, we would only have a few or just one or two. But that is not the case, is it!
So we know there is a secret message to be hidden until the last days, so it can't be that easy or it would have been solved by God's people a long time ago.
We know we are going to be bitterly persecuted, so that is not going to make it easy.
And we know that few will find the narrow cramped "difficult to travel" road and even fewer who will find and be able to travel it all the way to end to receive their reward. They will give up and give out. Damn few will be saved.
We know that lies and deceit are everywhere so that we will not know what is the right course unless we give it very careful study and attention.
Look at it this way. If God is going to start the world over again and avoid the past mistakes and disobedience, He will surely have to be careful and selective about who He saves and lets in His kingdom. He looks for those who are willing to exert effort, diligence and the like so that he or she may be assured of obtaining the truth of various matters of God.
1Tim 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and confessed the good confession before many witnesses.
2Tim 4:7 I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith.
(RSV) 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
2Tim 4:7 I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith.
Hebrews 4:11 Therefore, let us exert ourselves to enter into that rest, that not anyone fall in the same example of disobedience.
The devil is not going to lay down and die or give up and just let us walk into God's kingdom unopposed.
Luke 22:31 (KJV) behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
Luke 22:31 (RSV) behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,
Luke 22:31 (GLT) behold! Satan asked for you, to sift you as wheat;
Luke 22:31 (Phillips) do you know that Satan has asked to have you all to sift like wheat?
Luke 22:31 (BBE) Satan has made a request to have you, so that he may put you to the test as grain is tested:
Our Flesh Hinders Us
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Since we are all to be tried, tested, inspected, and have our hearts searched through to see who and what we really are, we should be aware that it is going to be a war with the flesh, not an easy battle by any means.
Romans 7:16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.
22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Paul described the struggle with the flesh as a battle and a war. Easy? I think not. Many lose the battle and are not able to travel the tough narrow road due to the enticements of the flesh. Easy? What have you been smoking lately?
No, really, with so much to confuse and distract us all, we should never imagine that it will be easy to know the truth except by lots of work and careful study. God wants to know what is in your heart, as does the devil, too. God wants to know if you really want it and if you are willing to exert yourself.
It is always easy to do the right thing when it is easy. But he who does the right thing when it is hard, now that means something. As JFK said about going to the moon, "we" do it, "not because it is easy but because it is hard."
Anything worth having is worth fighting for. But if the world is not to end up in a mess again after God straightens it all out, He will need people who will keep His law, not only when it is easy to do so, but when it gets hard or challenging. He can not afford to have people who are going to bail on Him and His laws the first time a little difficulty comes along or a temptation presents itself.
So if we are born into a world misled, distorted and designed to make it hard to keep God's law and remain faithful to that law, as well as our own struggles with the flesh, which struggles influence what we believe about the world and life . . . and the Bible, how can you say or can anyone say, that it is easy to make sense of it all and get to the truth. I think you are just kidding yourself.
With all the lies and confusion, you will be quite lucky to figure anything at all out. Easy is absurd. That are a thousand traps set in your path to snare you. Are you going to avoid them all? Not without help and humility! It will take everything you got and even then, you will barely make it. No one gets in for free.
Now many people love the idea of a pre-tribulation rapture. Know why? Cause then they will not have to suffer or exert themselves to be saved. They will be whisked right off the earth before any testing is to occur. Only one problem! Its not what the Bible says will happen. It is a case of wishful, but unrealistic, thinking. A sucker's bet, fool's gold, to tickle your ears into avoiding anything tough or scary.
The Apostles did that once, too. They were afraid when Jesus said he was going to be tortured and die. The didn't want to hear it and ignored it. But it happened anyway and they were not prepared. But we will have to be prepared this time. We are not allowed to fail this time. We have to get it right or lose out on everything. So don't take this lightly. It is not going to be easy. It will take everything you got and God's help, too.
And anyone who says it is easy, does not know God, and is a baby needing milk again, as if newly born.
We have a lot going against us but we got enough going for us to give us a fair chance. But be assured, the devil is intent on making it difficult for you. I have listed quite a few factors that work against us. Ours is a struggle from the cradle to the grave. Life is nothing but struggle till Christ returns to straighten everything out and you can bet he will. So we should never think that obtaining the truth is easy . . . for us . . . or for anyone else. Therefore, we need to put in lots of time studying and talking about the truth and what it might be with others. There are many thoughtless ideas out there that we need to be careful of. They might sound reasonable if we don't give them much thought. But closer, more careful examination will reveal weaknesses or flaws. It is a challenge to develop powers of discernment and distinction, but each person is capable of it if they first begin to try. Keep on seeking, keep on asking, keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you. That is the promise of Jesus to us all.
It is very easy to get lazy and not put a lot of effort into it. But God will only bless effort and lots of it, at that. It will be a struggle and we should expect it. But the result is worth the struggle. So give it everything you have. I hope this answers those who want to convince you that it will be easy or that you can concentrate on more important practical things like a good job, retirement, and other such stupid mundane profane vain pursuits, to the neglect of God's Kingdom. I say this, folks:
Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
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