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The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy

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People tend to "go along" with whatever form of religion is presented in the comfortable surroundings of "their" church and they are very easy to deceive because they do not genuinely study the Bible with an open mind and they do not bother to really "prove"—or to disprove—the religious ideas promulgated by their church or denomination.

The Bible describes a time of massive deception that will soon be upon us. World conditions and specific prophecies indicate that we truly are now in the biblically prophesied "last days"—the last several years of this world's civilization. The Apostle Paul was inspired to describe our time this way, "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" (2 Timothy 3:1–5).

But most people do not "turn away" from churches and religious leaders who deny the authority of God. Rather, most people are in their "comfort zone." They have their relatives, their family and friends—and their "neighborhood churches." Unless they are really shaken, they are not about to leave. These people tend to "go along" with whatever form of religion is presented in the comfortable surroundings of "their" church and they are very easy to deceive because they do not genuinely study the Bible with an open mind and they do not bother to really "prove"—or to disprove—the religious ideas promulgated by their church or denomination.

"What's wrong with this?" you may ask.

Everything!

Because your Bible clearly reveals that a very real Satan the Devil "walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

Also, the Apostle John describes Satan as "that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world" (Revelation 12:9). John also describes a coming political/military combine called the "Beast" which will dominate the entire world at the very time of the end—"All who dwell on the earth will worship him" (Revelation 13:8). A few verses earlier, John explains how the world "worshiped the dragon [Satan!] who gave authority to the beast" (v. 4). Then, John describes "another" beast who speaks like the "dragon" and who causes the world to worship the first beast. This second beast—a soon-coming powerful religious leader, "performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs" (Revelation 13:13–14).

Will you be among those who are deceived by this soon-coming false prophet?

Sadly, the answer may be a resounding "yes" for many of you! For it is so easy to "drift along" and allow yourself to be part of this world, regardless of where it is going. This is human nature. All of us have it! We all have to fight it and overcome it! Even when Jesus Christ was on earth, the very ones who supposedly studied the Bible the most were often deceived. The Apostle John tells us, "Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:42–43).

It is very easy for preachers to claim, "The Bible says" this or that—making statements that are often in total contradiction to what the Bible actually says! How can they get away with this? Respected religious author, Stephen Prothero, Chairman of the Religion Department of Boston University, reminds us: "Surveys that are more scientific have found that only one of three U.S. citizens is able to name the four Gospels, and one of 10 think that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife. No wonder pollster George Gallup has concluded that the United States is 'a nation of biblical illiterates'" (Charlotte Observer, March 18, 2007). That is why people can often become confused about biblical teaching on abortion, homosexuality and other supposedly controversial topics.

For many years, I offered on our telecast a $1,000 reward to anyone who could show me from a genuine translation of the Bible—not a paraphrase or interpretation, but a respected translation—any scripture that says the reward of the saved is "going to heaven." Obviously, no one took the offer. Because there is no such verse in the Bible! Rather, Jesus Christ said, "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man" (John 3:13). This statement would have to include Abraham—"the father of the faithful," and David, "a man after God's own heart"—and all the great saints and servants of God in the Old Testament.

On the other hand, Jesus did say that the meek "shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). And, speaking in the first person, Jesus said over and over in the book of Revelation in various ways, "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—He shall rule them with a rod of iron" (Revelation 2:26–27). Obviously, these nations are not up in heaven but here on earth. Again, we read the "song of the saints" in Revelation 5:10, proclaiming that Christ, who has redeemed us has "made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth." Again, John was inspired to tell us, "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (Revelation 20:6).

No, Jesus Christ is not coming to take us away to heaven! Rather, He will return to this earth to straighten out the problems here on earth—with the assistance of the Spirit-born saints who will be resurrected and be given a job to do in assisting Christ in bringing real peace and happiness to a very confused world.

All this takes place at the "seventh trump" when Christ returns: "Then the seventh angel sounded: and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'" (Revelation 11:15). So it is the kingdoms of this worldnot up in heaven—over which Christ and the resurrected saints will rule within a few years when He returns as King of kings.

Still, professing Christian ministers are misleading and confusing people when they give the impression that all they have to do is "just believe on Jesus"—whatever Jesus they have in mind—and then "float off to heaven" with nothing to do! This causes great harm to people by distracting their minds from the real purpose for our Christian calling and the goal we should all have of overcoming ourselves, the world and Satan—and genuinely preparing to assist Christ in ruling this world, which is so much in need of right government at this time, as I explain in my article on page 4 of this issue.

At this time of year, many are following a "Good Friday/Easter Sunday" tradition that is, in fact, a terrible heresy. For the basic identifying "sign" Jesus Himself gave of His very Messiahship is found in Matthew 12:39–40: "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." It should be obvious to any thinking person that you cannot fit in "three days and three nights" between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning! In this very issue, you can read more about this on page 22, in our article "The Sign of Jonah."

May God help all of you who read this to understand the enormity of Satan's sway over this confused world! May God help you to genuinely study the Bible—the inspired word from your very Creator who gives you life and breath! For the Bible clearly commands us, "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, KJV).

We encourage all of you to enroll and genuinely study the Tomorrow's World Bible Study Course. It will be sent absolutely free upon your request, or you can sign up online at www.twbiblecourse.org. Learn to read carefully the articles in our magazines and booklets—and check up in your own Bible the scriptures we cite. Learn to genuinely prove that what you believe is what the Bible actually says.

The Apostle Peter wrote: "Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:10–11). As you do this, with the true Christ beginning to live His life within you through the Holy Spirit, you may be granted a way of escape from the coming Tribulation and a position of honor and service in that soon-coming everlasting Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Dear subscriber, if there has ever been a time when we at Tomorrow's World should warn you, in the name of Jesus Christ, to get your financial house—and especially your spiritual house—in order, this is it! Jesus Christ warned all of us in this powerful end-time prophecy which you and I all need to heed: "So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. 'But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man'" (Luke 21:31–36).

May God give you understanding. May God give you the faith and the courage to act on His Truth at this momentous time in human history.

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