Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Immigration and True Freedom



Illegal immigration has always been a difficult issue. President Trump’s decision to fully enforce a policy of separating children from parents who cross the U.S.border illegally while their cases are being heard has become the focus of intense criticism and debate. Each side offers facts to support their view, and emotions are running high – so much so that members of the Trump administration are being singled out by protesters and even refused service at a restaurant.

There is endless debate about this as a legal issue, moral issue, or both. The issue doesn't look like it will be resolved any time soon. Whatever the outcome, the problem highlights some biblical themes.

Every one of us is on earth temporarily. This world is not our final home, and we are all travelers seeking a permanent and eternal residence with the hope of something better. For those who have accepted Christ as Savior, that home is Heaven, which is reached when a believer dies or when Christ returns to take His church to be with Himself. For those who don’t know Christ, the border is closed and there is no entrance.

Proper documents allow immigrants to enter a country legally and afford them the opportunity to make a new life there. Illegal aliens (undocumented immigrants) live with the constant fear of deportation and rarely have the opportunity to make a better life. Likewise, having the proper “paperwork” is the only way to obtain eternal life. Only those whose names are found in the Lamb’s Book of Life gain entrance to Heaven and enjoy its benefits forever.

John described the scene that will take place when the official spiritual documents are examined. “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life … there shall be no means enter [heaven] anything that defiles…but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Revelation 20:12; 21:27)

When immigrants become U.S. citizens after coming to America, they enjoy the advantages that offers. In Christ, believers are citizens of the heavenly kingdom even before we arrive there. The Apostle Paul wrote of believers, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19) Because of this citizenship, believers enjoy benefits in addition to eternal life that are not available to non-citizens including God’s presence (Hebrews 13:5), God’s care (Luke 12:22-31), answered prayer (John 16:23), and, most importantly, permanent citizen status (John 10:28, 29).

For most illegal immigrants, nothing short of amnesty will allow them to stay in the U.S. legally. In His death on the cross, Jesus Christ provided the “amnesty” that allows our permanent residence in Heaven. Forgiveness of the sin that separates us from God is available to any who accept it (Romans 10:13).

While the President, Congress and political pundits debate the pros and cons of immigration legislation, deportation, amnesty, and family reunions, there is no debate on residency status in Heaven. Scripture is quite clear. “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire (hell, eternal punishment)” (Rev. 20:15).

A person who is truly born again can never be “deported” from God’s kingdom. Christ said, “…the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). Accept Christ now so that your eternal home is secure.

Sadly, many who are legal or natural-born citizens of the U.S. think they are free, but they are still trapped in spiritual chains. Without knowing it, their hearts yearn for a freedom that is even more precious – freedom from sin through the blood of Jesus Christ.

“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. …if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:31, 32, 36)

Gayle Virkler

If you are not sure if Heaven will be your eternal home, click here for more information.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Is Peace in Israel Possible?



Monday marked 70 years of Israel’s existence as a modern nation. It was also a historic day as the United States officially moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem thus acknowledging the city as Israel’s true capitol. This comes at a time when violence in Israel and on it borders continues to make headlines and war with Iran looms on the horizon. Why is Jerusalem so significant? Why does a tiny country—only the size of New Jersey—command such global attention?

Our founder, Rev. David M. Virkler, wrote about Israel’s history, its place in prophecy and the peace it longs for in an article titled "Israel: What You Need to Know". Following are some excerpts:


There is constant strife over who will have ultimate control over the land we know as Israel. The heart of the issue basically boils down to two opposing ideas. For the Israelis, the issue is their right to exist as a nation. For Palestinians and other Muslim countries, it is the desire to see Israel cease to exist as a nation.

The trouble goes back much farther than the current conflict or previous uprisings and even farther than 1948.

About 4,000 years ago, God called Abraham from his home far away to the east, probably somewhere in present day Iraq, and directed him to resettle in the land of Canaan, approximately the area of present day Israel and northeast to the Euphrates River. God promised Abraham that he would have descendants as numerous as the sand on the seashore. His purpose was to establish a new ethnic group—the Jewish people—that would provide a distinct lineage for the Messiah. They would be a blessing for all nations, and kind treatment of Abraham and his descendants would bring blessing, while unkind treatment would mean a curse (Genesis 12:1-9).

Many Arabs also revere Abraham as their father through Ishmael. The present situation is fulfillment of an astounding prophecy tucked away in Genesis 16. Abraham’s wife, Sarah, panicked and thought God’s promise of a child needed her human help. She gave Hagar, her Egyptian maid, to Abraham as a wife, and Ishmael was born. Hagar’s pride over her child-bearing resulted in friction between the two women, and Hagar and Ishmael were sent away into the wilderness. There, God sustained them and gave a promise of relative greatness for Ishmael and his progeny. There would be a problem, however. “He will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” (Gen. 16:12)

The descendants of Isaac and Ishmael—today’s Jews and Arabs—would live together, but they would not get along. This conflict may be mitigated from time to time, but it will not be eliminated until the millennial reign of Christ when Israel, Egypt and Assyria will join in worship of God “in the midst of the land” (Isaiah 19:24), or “center of the earth” as it is more properly translated.

There is special significance to the city of Jerusalem. It is the ancient capitol of Israel. It is the site of Mount Moriah, where Abraham was instructed to offer Isaac, his old-age son of promise, as a sacrifice (Genesis 22), and a substitute ram was ultimately provided. Years later, David purchased the spot from Ornan the Jebusite and selected it as the site of the Temple (1 Chronicles 21:18-30), which his son, Solomon, later built. Solomon’s temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC, but it was later rebuilt when some Jews returned home from the Babylonian captivity (Ezra 5 & 6). Herod rebuilt this Second Temple and enlarged the Temple Mount. His penchant for gorgeous structures made the Temple a wonder of the world. This temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.

The Western Wall, formerly known as the Wailing Wall, is actually a retaining wall of the Temple platform and is also a landmark for Jews. When Jerusalem was in foreign hands, Jews were allowed in only periodically to pray at the wall, which represented the hopes of the Jewish people. Since 1967, when Israel took Jerusalem, Jews have been able to pray freely at the wall.

Jews believe the Temple will be rebuilt, which will be a cause of great conflict since two Muslim structures currently occupy much of the Temple Mount. There are several theories as to where the Temple actually stood. Some believe it stood where the Dome of the Rock is located. Others believe it was located to the north where there is a huge open space.

Many have attempted to work out peace agreements. Some have been successful and others have not. … Peace agreements may be signed, but they will not be kept. Satan hates the Jews for their spiritual heritage. They were the people that God used to give us Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Satan hates the land. It was there that God became flesh and dwelt among us and where Christ died and rose again to provide our salvation.

Eventually, there will be peace in Israel, but it will be false peace. Antichrist will convince the Jews to accept his leadership. He will confirm a previously-made covenant likely among Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and the Palestinians (Daniel 9:24-27). Antichrist will break this pact after three and a half years, and then, literally, all hell will break loose (Revelation 6:8). Following the seven-year Great Tribulation, Christ will return to earth. His feet will touch the Mount of Olives just across the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount (Zechariah 14:2-4). He will rule in Jerusalem after the world’s armies are destroyed there, and Satan will be bound for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3). Only then will there be a true peace in Israel.

God told Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee.” (Gen. 12:3) Israel has a unique place in the plan of God, and we in America have likely been blessed because of our country’s position as Israel’s ally. Pray for wisdom for our government’s leaders that they not abandon that view and our blessing be lost.

Real peace in Israel will come only through her Messiah—our Savior, Jesus Christ. Rejecting the Messiah meant a missed peace for the people of Israel. Until our prayer for the peace of Jerusalem is fully answered in the Millennial rule of Christ, personal peace is available to any individual by receiving Him as Savior. Trusting Christ gives us the “peace of God, which passes all understanding” (Phil 4:7). When people respond to Christ inwardly, they can promote peace outwardly. “For He Himself is our peace, who…has broken down the middle wall of separation…that He might reconcile…both to God in one body through the cross….” (Ephesian 2:14, 16)

If you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, do so today! In a world where peace is often temporary, elusive or even impossible, you can have lasting personal peace with God and the peace of God.

The full article “Israel: What You Need to Know” can be found at our website, or it is available for a gift of any size to the ministry. Visit our website for details and a list of other articles and resources available.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Presidential Proclamation: National Day of Prayer



THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 3, 2018
NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER, 2018

- - - - - - -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

On this National Day of Prayer, we join together to offer gratitude for our many blessings and to acknowledge our need for divine wisdom, guidance, and protection. Prayer, by which we affirm our dependence on God, has long been fundamental to our pursuit of freedom, peace, unity, and prosperity.  Prayer sustains us and brings us comfort, hope, peace, and strength. Therefore, we must cherish our spiritual foundation and uphold our legacy of faith.

Prayer has been a source of guidance, strength, and wisdom since the founding of our Republic. When the Continental Congress gathered in Philadelphia to contemplate freedom from Great Britain, the delegates prayed daily for guidance. Their efforts produced the Declaration of Independence and its enumeration of the self-evident truths that we all cherish today. We believe that all men and women are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Prayer sustained us and gave us the strength to endure the sacrifices and suffering of the American Revolution and to temper the triumph of victory with humility and gratitude. Notably, as one of its first acts, our newly formed Congress appointed chaplains of the House of Representatives and Senate so that all proceedings would begin with prayer.

As a Nation, we have continued to seek God in prayer, including in times of conflict and darkness. At the height of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for prayer "for the vision to see our way clearly to see the way that leads to a better life for ourselves and for all our fellow men and to the achievement of His will to peace on earth." Decades later, following one of the darkest days in our Nation's history, President George W. Bush offered this prayer for our heartbroken country, mourning the precious souls who perished in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001: "We ask Almighty God to watch over our Nation, and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come. We pray that He will comfort and console those who now walk in sorrow. We thank Him for each life we now must mourn, and the promise of a life to come."

America has known peace, prosperity, war, and depression, and prayer has sustained us through it all. May our Nation and our people never forget the love, grace, and goodness of our Maker, and may our praise and gratitude never cease. On this National Day of Prayer, let us come together, all according to their faiths, to thank God for His many blessings and ask for His continued guidance and strength.

In 1988, the Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer, "on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 3 as a National Day of Prayer.  I encourage all Americans to observe this day, reflecting on the blessings our Nation has received and the importance of prayer, with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities in their houses of worship, communities, and places of work, schools, and homes.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

DONALD J. TRUMP

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

An Agonizing Eternal Hell? Really?

It was just a few days before Easter, of all times during the calendar year, when a story broke about one of the primary doctrines of the Bible. The subject was the very existence of  Hell itself. And the source of the controversy was, from of all people, the Pope himself! 

A reporter wrote in an interview with the Pontiff that it was stated that people who are not saved, and therefore don’t go to heaven, are not punished in a literal Hell. Instead, according to the story, they are just annihilated or simply snuffed out forever.  And of course, without being there, it is not possible to know exactly what was said or what was not.  But the Vatican quickly claimed that the reporter was wrong and gave an incorrect account of what the Pope actually said. And yet it is somewhat curious as to why the Pontiff did not just come out right away and publicly correct the problem once and for all.

The subject of the reality and horrors of a literal eternal hell have been under a growing spiritual microscope for some time now. More and more are stating that this place of everlasting suffering does not really exist.  Just a few years back it was Rob Bell, a well-known pastor, who rocked the evangelical world with his book, ‘Love Wins’ - A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived’

Bell was raised in a traditional Christian home and attended Wheaton College in Illinois and Fuller Seminary. He and his wife Kristen started and ran the prominent Mars Hill Church. Their theological beliefs on the Mars Hill web site were written in narrative or story form. They affirmed a belief in the inspiration of God’s Word and the sacrifice of Christ. But they promoted the idea that the primary reason for the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was to restore ‘relationship’ both to Him and among ourselves. But there was virtually no mention of a ‘hell’ or punishment for unrepentant and lost sinners.  Although Bell left the church several years ago, the doctrinal statement still does not really speak today of Hell as a literal place of suffering for those who reject Christ. 

So Bell, and a growing number like him, are teaching what  is called Universalism. This states that all eventually get to heaven one way or another in the final analysis no matter what. And  the logical outcome of that view is that, if God eventually saves all men, there is no real  need for a Hell – or at least one that lasts forever. So when all is said and done all are saved and thus God’s Love wins.

In another article I saw these kinds of views and from an interesting source: The story said was titled this. “Hell’s glory days could be over.” National Geographic science correspondent Mark Strauss said, ”The idea of eternal punishment is not as chic as it was in olden days. He explained that a “campaign to eliminate Hell” headed by a “new generation of evangelical scholars” are taking issue with the idea that sinners are doomed forever. Many find it hard to reconcile a just, loving God with eternal punishment.”

And even as there seems to be a growing acceptance of a hell-less eternity even in church circles, it is even easier to see what many in the world reject a literal hell. And why would they want to believe otherwise?  If they scorn it, then they don’t have to fear or someday face it - or so they hope.. But here is the way one agnostic atheist blogger put it and perhaps what many choose to think.  “The whole concept of an infinite punishment for a finite crime is immoral. I doubt a "loving" god would be that cruel. So yes. It is utterly ridiculous and clearly the product of barbaric, vengeful, ignorant, unenlightened, human minds.”  This man may believe this fully. But he best be very right or he is in very big trouble!

The too, even those who do believe there is a Hell don’t seem too worried about ending up there.  A recent Lifeway Research survey found these results and said this.  “Hell is a real place, but you have to be really bad to go. Overall, Americans don’t seem too concerned about sin or being sent to Hell. Two-thirds say most people are basically good, even though everyone sins a little bit. Fewer than 1 in 5 Americans say even small sins should lead to damnation, while only about half say God has a wrathful side.”

But even among those who do believe in a Hell, there are differences in how they interpret the biblical descriptions. Some believe that in Hell people will literally burn forever. Others believe people will literally burn for a certain period of time and then cease to exist or be released. Still others believe that, although it is a place of punishment, the descriptions of fire are simply imagery meant to convey judgment. So the beliefs in the existence of a literal Hell as a place of eternal suffering, along with who ends up there, are all over the lot today. But with that all said, the idea of any literal place of eternal suffering is certainly losing ground as is the related view about the seriousness of sin. So logically, if sin were not that big a deal, then why would God design a real place of everlasting torment to deal with it?

So what is the truth about Hell and how show we view it?  The truth about Hell is whatever the Bible clearly  teaches about it. When taken together, the evidence overwhelmingly supports the existence of a literal and eternal place in no uncertain terms.  I saw an article at a site called carm.org that offered some good thoughts and facts of this all-important subject. The author wrote, “Hell is one of those subjects that makes people uncomfortable.  We hear stories of hell being a place of fire, demons, and endless torment. Throughout history, many authors have written about it. Western culture is very familiar with the concept.  Even Hollywood has made it the subject of many movies.  Whatever the context, whatever the belief, Hell is definitely taught in the Bible.”

The bottom line is that God consists of many attributes. He is loving and merciful. But He is also fully just. To believe He is incapable of eternal judgement is to be na├»ve and it denies part of who He is. Yes, his nature is love – a level of love most of humanity cannot grasp even though they saw it evidenced on the cross.  But God’s ultimate love is not about allowing every sinner who rejects or scorns His Son’s sacrifice to slide by or be eliminated. His love is rather seen in Romans chapter 5, which reads,  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him’.”

The verse mentions being saved from wrath. But from what wrath? It is the wrath and judgement revealed in numerous verses like found in the book of Matthew.  "But the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  "The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."  "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.”  "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."  “Jesus said, And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell." 

 In Daniel 12:2 we read. "And many of them that slept in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."  And in Revelation 14 we see that those who reject the Lord "will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and forever. There is no rest day or night" for them.” And the list of similar passages goes on and on like with the story of Lazarus in Like 12.

Tragically, Hell is a real place.  It is not mere unconsciousness or temporary.  It is forever torment.  Perhaps that is why Jesus spoke more of Hell than heaven and spent so much time strongly warning people to avoid going there at all cost.  If people just stopped existing after death, or got released after a lengthy and painful slap on the wrist, then why warn them so very much or at all?

I don’t know what your view on this subject is today. That is between you, God and what you feel is taught in His word. But I would think that any so-called Hell that is seen as imaginary, just temporary or non-existent would cause lost sinners to relax and not face their desperate fate and their need of a Savior. I would think that the adversary would be thrilled to sidetrack people into having no fear of any serious and lasting judgement in such a place. I would wonder why Scripture speaks so clearly, forcefully and so repeatedly about a place that has almost no lasting consequence - if it even exists at all? And I would wonder why Christ had to die as he did if sin’s consequences are not serious for lasting dire consequences in the end?

Finally, I would think that we should carefully analyze the words of the Apostle Paul. He wrote extensively about Christ’s redeeming love, sacrifice and forgiveness for him in light of his own great sin. And what was his view of this same loving God as far as those who reject or ignore the actions of His Son on cross for them? He said in 2 Corinthians 5,  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”  And then these telling  words in verse 11. “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men”.

God loves us all and His Son died in our place to forgive our sin and grant us a heavenly home someday. But when that offer of salvation is ignored, then there comes the painful reality of verses like just mentioned along with many others like Hebrews 10:31. “It is a  fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  Why chance such an unimaginable fate as Hell for all eternity when it can be forever avoided in mere seconds by acting upon Acts 2:21. “That whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’

The bad news is that Hell is all too real. But the good news is found in the Good News.  “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9)

Bill Breckenridge
















Thursday, April 12, 2018

54 Years Sharing Biblical Truth



Dedication Evangelism is the ministry organization that sponsors this blog. A major part of our outreach is The Word and The World broadcast. It offers a timely Biblical perspective on current issues and events, and we have always sought to share the unchanging Good News of salvation. April 12 marks 54 years on the air – over 2,800 weekly broadcasts and countless hours of recording, production and ministry. We praise God for His faithfulness in bringing us to this significant milestone! It is a testimony to what can happen when one person follows God's call.

Beginning – When Rev. David Virkler founded Dedication Evangelism in 1961, his ministry vision included Gospel broadcasting. While holding a week of meetings in the fall of 1963, Dave was asked to speak on a daily radio program shared by the local ministerium on a commercial AM station. The opportunity piqued Dave’s interest in the possibility of seeing the vision for radio outreach become a reality. Several months later, on Sunday morning, April 12, 1964, the first broadcast of The Word And The World aired over WFRM in Coudersport, PA.

Expansion – Our station log has grown from one station in Pennsylvania to 77 outlets reaching 18 states and Ontario, Canada. What began as a radio ministry has also expanded to online outreach including our website archives and live streaming of stations’ programming.  Podcasts also significantly expanded our outreach. These outlets make The Word And The World available anytime and anywhere. Take advantage of these listening options!

Multiplication – God has used The Word And The World to reach people through means other than radio. Many of our audio and print resource materials have come from the broadcast. Popular items include our annual Year in Review and Sing Them Over Again (three CDs of music from the half-hour broadcast.)

Before the Internet made broadcasts available to anyone on-line, each month’s programs were compiled on one cassette. Examples of the far reach these had include a missionary who used the tapes to help teach English in South America, a Kenyan university student in Michigan who later used them in his teaching when he returned home, and prisoners who used the tapes in personal and group Bible studies.
PartnershipWe would not be celebrating this milestone without the prayer and financial support of God’s people and ministry partnership of many radio stations and networks. We are so grateful for the part each one has played in helping us to reach people through The Word And The World. (Click here to find out how you can help.)

In 54 years, there have been many changes in the world and in the Church. Our broadcast ministry has also seen changes in our studio, technology, and delivery methods. One of the greatest changes was Dave’s Homegoing, but God has graciously enabled us to continue even after that with Bill Breckenridge, our Director of Outreach, as speaker/producer. Through it all, we have seen God’s hand of blessing on our outreach.

The first listener to send a letter declared that The Word And The World was a good program and he thought God would bless it. And He has!