What is normal? Many times over the course of this life I have heard this term. Most recently I've heard this term describing a type of "day", in other words, normal days. The dictionary definition of normal stands as this:
1. conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.
2. serving to establish a standard
Who decides what's normal? Who establishes the standard or the common type? "Normal" for a person can be defined by how they were raised. Habits, choices and lifestyles are dictated by what one views or believe as "normal". What is clear to me in this day, age and time of Christianity is a declaration of "normality" is given over to the experts of our time. Be it pastors, doctors, teachers etc. Generally, they tell us what is "normal" and by their measuring stick we judge where normalcy comes in.
The problem with what we may consider normal is that it may not actually be the norm, or standard set by the Creator of all things. For example, childbirth is considered, at least here in America, a potentially dangerous medical condition that is to be monitored by an "expert" and controlled medically. This "norm" is not even a century old. Prior to this established norm, it was very normal for a woman to birth her child wherever, with whomever she pleased without monitors or drugs. Why did this norm change? Who decided to change this norm? By what authority was it changed? These questions are significant if we proclaim ourselves Faithful of Christ. It is very clear to me that NO PERSON has the authority or power to change the common type that had been ordained by God. No one has the authority or power to declare "unusual", a woman with child, in travail. And henceforth, establish a new norm, or common type of a medically controlled birth and pregnancy.
What indeed is reflected, by this example, is how far away from the Creator the world, and yes...I am including those who proclaim themselves Christians, have come. What Christianity has come to view as "normal" no longer reflects what God has established as "normal". We now reside in the days of Noe.
"For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark," -- Matthew 24:38
Now understanding the story of Noah, it is imperative to grasp the fact that Jesus spoke about a spiritual "climate" and/or "atmosphere" in this verse. A climate of casual normalcy. A climate of where the general consensus becomes the normal, expected way of life. The climate today compares perfectly to the example that Christ used in this verse...the climate of unfaithfulness.
Because MANY, if not all Christian churches define sin (singular), the cause or "root" of unfaithfulness, as a behavior or action, the Good News of Christ has been undermined and un-relatable. As a result, Christianity is no longer defined or viewed as a liberation, but a religion of legalism and moralistic actions. This has become the "norm" of what is today called "Christianity".
The word and the meaning of sin is used and defined by Christ Himself differently. When speaking of the Holy Spirit's job of convicting the world, He explicitly says "Of sin, because they believe not on me" John 16:9 Sin, a singular sense, is applied by Christ as intangible. And defined as unbelief. Anyone with the understanding of sin, in it's pure, singular form, as a behavior or action, will have a hard time grasping this declaration by Christ. Not only that, they will have a difficult time applying the Gospel (John 3:16) with this mind-set. Ultimately, as a whole, sin, it's pure, singular form, is a departure from the living God in heart and mind that results in a departure in thoughts and action, thereby, becoming sins or sinful, full of the sin in it's singular sense.
"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." -- Hebrews 3:12
If sin, as applied by Christ Himself, is intangible, then sin is a spiritual condition, not a physical one. If sin is a spiritual condition, then the Salvation ordained and commanded by God towards His Son, our Lord, indeed can only be accomplished IN a spiritual capacity. How different is this established "standard" from what has been decided as "Christian" by the "experts" of our time? Yes, we reside in the day of Noe!
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
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. -- Matthew 7:16-21
Bad "fruits" are the sins (plural) that many modern day Christians erroneously view as the root of unfaithfulness. This has become the "normal" belief of modern Christianity. This belief fails to recognize the "soil" (heart) that produces the corrupt fruit, thereby stripping away or minimizing the concept of salvation...the fact that it is a spiritual salvation. The planted "seed" (Word of God) is only as good as the soil (heart) it grows in. Read the 13th chapter of Matthew or read my post about "The Parable of the Sower". This "normal" concept of sin has brought a variety of results from the basic fact that the eyes of modern day Christians have become eyes fixated on the physical. Here are just a few...
- Prosperity Gospel - in a mild or extreme form
- Speaking in tongues (as physical "proof" of spirituality)
- Various rituals in attempt to "overcome" sin. i.e. "signs of the cross", church attendance, baptism, any physical activity catered to the removal of sin outside of GRACE and FAITH in Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
When we become physically inclined towards Christ, our hope in Him for what He can do for us in this life only...it becomes a life of misery.
"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. -- 1 Corinthians 15:19
As the mainstream Christian defines sin (singular sense) as a physical trait, their salvation is defined in a physical sense, they worship God in a physical sense, they study the Word in a physical sense, they pray to the Lord in a physical sense. Purity and holiness is defined in a physical sense. The only problem with that is, it is done by the flesh therefore, there IS NO liberation.
"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." -- Romans 8:3-4
Read very carefully the 4th verse. It says the "righteousness of the law" might be fulfilled in us, not by works, or keeping of the law, but after the Spirit.
When the mainstream Christian recognizes the heart and, attitude coupled with a wayward mind is the one and only place LORD God defines and distinguishes GOOD and EVIL, they will have found sin's dwelling place. A place unreachable by hands, where no amount of church attendance, tithing, fasting, Bible-studying or Sabbath-keeping will eliminate. When this is accepted, for many do not accept the plain truth of scripture, then the clarity of this scripture comes to light.
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" -- Romans 8:1
This is the norm of genuine Christianity as defined by God. Behold the declaration of Christ Himself, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" -- John 4:24
They MUST worship Him in SPIRIT and in TRUTH. Not "can" or "should", but MUST! There is no suggestion of any kind in this declaration by Christ that God can be worshipped in a physical sense. Why?? Because, as Christ defined, God is a Spirit!It makes perfect sense to me that worshipping the Lord in spirit and in truth is the only acceptable worship. This is the norm, the standard, the measuring stick as defined by the Creator, who has authority, power and RIGHTHEOUSNESS over all things!
On Another Note...
I wanted to speak on a different subject that is related to Matthew 24:38 referencing the days of Noah. In the context of this scripture, Christ responds to the disciples' questions of " the sign of thy coming and the end of the world", using the day of Noah as an example of the suddenness of when He shall return. Personally, I believe, Christ's comparison to the suddenness of the flood refers to the rapture, however it is not my point in this side note. Today, many things are happening in the world, especially here in America, that points increasingly to the lateness of the hour. As a result, many "end-timers" have been preaching and teaching of various "signs" in these events. There is no doubt in my mind, or in the minds of anyone who interpret the scripture correctly or incorrectly that the time of Christ's return is indeed nearer than when we first believed. Christ exhorts the true Believer to "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come" - verse 42
The problem I have with the proclamations of end-timers is some of them have gone as far as date-setting. In justifying date-setting, they proclaim that we are to watch the signs of His coming as to be "ready". I have remained silent as the date of September 29, 2008 a "suggested" date, based on over-spiritualizing of scripture, came and went, for the reason of listening and being led of the Lord. I now speak out against any type of date setting for any reason for one sole purpose...the proclamation of the scripture.
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. -- Mark 13:32-33
Using the example of Christ, if a servant is not greater than his lord, (John 13:15-17) then who are we to search for clues to determine a date of his return...even a "suggested" date? Furthermore, my stance is emboldened by this proclamation of scripture.
"Then they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." -- Acts 1:6-8
Did you read that carefully?? It is NOT for us to know! I don't read any hint of another possibility in this clear statement. Too many treat the Bible as though it is segregated in it's message. If they don't like one scripture, they find one that fits their agenda. As a mother of six, I have scolded my children from time to time when they ask me a question that their father has already given them an answer to, in hopes that I may have a "different" or a "likeable" answer. Grown adults can be just as worse as children in this likeness!
It is VERY clear that true Believers are to "watch" the signs of the season and EXPECT His return, all the while, continuing on in FAITH witnessing and declaring His works. All date-setting does is distract the Believer from his/her commission and places his/her focus on the world.
Some of these end-timers/evangelists are taking a personal role in the political climate. Bashing Obama and labeling him a Muslim and the anti-Christ. The problem I have with these sentiments, and I have a LOT of problems with these sentiments, is that a true Believer CANNOT champion (campaign) a man, be it John McCain or anyone else, to be a "savior"or solution of the American economy, ideals etc. and claim Christ the Savior and King simultaneously. And if Obama is, as many evangelists claim, the anti-Christ, why do you resist the plain truth of scripture? We all know that the anti-Christ WILL have temporary rule over the world. In this light, shouldn't you vote for Obama?? If only to usher in the soon return of the LORD? These contradictions make clear sense to me, for Christ has declared in scripture, from the "abundance of their heart, the mouth speaks". Where does your faith lie??
The true feel of these sentiments, I receive is arrogance and contempt. Arrogance, because the collapse of the American economy, means the "end of the world", therefore Christ is just around the corner. Prophecy does not revolve around America. It revolves around Israel!!! Why is the collapse of the American economy not seen as a "leveling of the playing field" only to usher in the anti-Christ to employ the one world currency?
Contempt, because the PROVEN history of American Christianity has produced and fostered a hateful sentiment towards those of the opposite race...racism. Yes, I dare speak and boldly type the word in black and white. It is clear to me that because Obama bears a Muslim name and is African American, he has been labeled one despite the fact he was raised by an American, white woman. "What about Reverend Wright?", some have exclaimed. What about Rev. Wright? Wasn't George Bush, elected by Evangelists at large, a praying president? Where are the fruits of his prayers?? How has the moral state of this country changed for the better?? And if by the standards of many Christians, a prosperous country was indication of God's blessing, we can also by that same reason conclude God has punished America, by the state of this economy. IF this is true, all this has happened under the GWB administration! What does that speak about the judgement of the Republican Christian? Christianity at this point of time is SO splintered and fragmented, that anyone can claim to be a "Born again" and truly not be. My point is quite simple, you cannot claim clear, concise understanding of the prophecy of the returning Christ, if you, in the same breath, uphold, promote a man (or woman), in other words, believe quite emphatically that this person can solve what ails America. America, like every other country, has a disastrous spiritual condition and is being hurtled towards a time where the anti-Christ will rule. In concluding my point, these sentiments by end-timers and evangelists against Obama, smell, look and taste like racism. As an African-American Believer, it sends chills up my spine. I wonder if I now need to worry about this common sentiment so recently revived and inspired by this political campaign. Do I need to be concerned about overtly self-righteous Christians, that my ancestors gave their lives up to? Do I need to be concerned about a revival of the KKK??? You tell me... My very personal opinion...when you combine a belief in politics and a self-profession of Christ, you get, what I call a "Pharisee complex".
May God and His infinite wisdom be Glorified!!! What if we did know the exact date and time??? How effective would true Believers be if they knew of His return on a specific day and time? How tempting would it be for one to say "My lord delayeth his coming", becoming stagnant and lukewarm in our faith? Heed the Word of God and focus on FAITH, witnessing by example, with charity and expounding on hope. As soon as you think He will not come, it will be the moment He arrives! Our daily fight as true Believers is to be daily present in FAITH expecting Him at any moment!
Personally speaking, I have found the "numbers" and "signs" used by these end-timers, a confusing stretch of the imagination at best. Searching for clues for a date is a vanity that appeals to our our fleshly will to KNOW what is NOT for us to know and the temptation to become wayward in our OWN knowledge, goes against the very lifestyle of FAITH we are to live and breathe by. I leave you with this scripture, declared by our master, Christ Jesus of Nazareth who shall soon return. Come quickly! Come quickly!
"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:
For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth". -- Matthew 12:38-40
THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH!
The spiritual activity in this climate is at an all time high and very confusing. I speak to the individual who is navigating his/her way around these times. Do not be confused. Do not take to heart or heed any word that flows from a man's mouth. Wait upon the Lord, Faithfully for understanding and clarification. Jesus died so that YOU can have direct access to HIM. That means if you trust that He says who He is and will do what He says He will do, there is no need for any person to "mediate" to God on your behalf. That job has been taken care of by Christ Jesus who sits at the right hand of the father. 1 John 2:27 I have my own relationship with the Lord by which, I am a witness for Him, declaring His works. In no way, am I a mediator. My role is to share and declare the prophecy that has already been in place. There is no "new" or "different" doctrine, other than what has been decreed. Hebrews 13:8
"Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
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." Matthew 24
Be not troubled neither let your heart be afraid. May the LORD go before you. Amen....