Unification Sermons and Talks
by Reverends Stephens
Are We All Going to Get Burned?
by Rev. James Stephens
Jim Stephens is the former Director of ICC Conferences in Korea. He is now living with his wife, Hiromi, and 5 children in his hometown of Bloomington, Illinois. This article appeared in the local newspaper, The Pantagraph, in a weekly column titled "From The Pulpit" on May 11, 1996.
Most new denominations or new religions that have any staying power teach "new truth" when compared to the traditional religious doctrines of the day. For the adherents of this new "truth", the new doctrine makes more sense to them, answers their long-standing questions, or seems to be a better guide for their daily lives. Conversion to something new and different is not an easy process so it must be significantly attractive. Typically there is a charismatic leader and the eventual followers are made up of either "searchers" or people who have given up on the traditional doctrines.
This is for the most part true of my church. My background was very much oriented to the practical world. I got my degree in engineering from Northwestern University. Like many in college during the Vietnam war, I was a "searcher", wanting peace in the world, and disillusioned with traditional churches.
Traveling to California after graduation, I encountered the Unification teachings, founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, whose own background was engineering. What I heard over the next ten days made a lot of sense to me.
As a matter of fact, it still does. One of the things that pleases me the most about my faith is that it is very practical and highly applicable to daily life. It is also deeply profound and personal in the relationship that I have developed with Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father.
I cannot expect any of you readers to accept the Unification teachings because they definitely fall into this controversial "new truth" area. However, I would like to offer some of our insights on the Last Days for your consideration.
At the outset, let me assure you that the two necessary ingredients for interpreting the Bible are present. First is the Holy Spirit. Rev. Sun Myung Moon is a person who has had the Holy Spirit from a very young age. Second is a Biblical foundation. His teachings are based on countless hours of study of the Bible. Eyewitnesses testify to at least three of his Bibles that fell apart from use. These teachings have changed the lives of millions all over the world, in every race, every culture, every religion, every language and every country. I believe this is because the Unification Teachings are understandable through basic universal common sense. This is not a shallow doctrine.
What's going to happen to us in the Last Days?
The Bible predicts disastrous events in the Last Days. Unificationism, however, teaches there will not be a supernatural end of the world. The cataclysmic events of the Bible are not to be taken literally. The kingdom of heaven and peace on earth will be established in this world in the Last Days by people of living faith.
So how do Unification teachings interpret the scriptures predicting doom? Matt. 24:29 says, "the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky and the heavenly bodies will be shaken..." Rev. Moon found the Bible verse for interpreting this scripture in Gen. 37:9-10, the interpretation of
Joseph's dream. "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me...his father rebuked him and said, 'What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?'" In this story the sun, moon and stars symbolized the father, mother and the children.
So what does this mean for the Last Days? The "sun" of the Bible is of course Jesus. The "moon" which reflects the light of the sun is either the Holy Spirit or else the Bible itself. And the "stars" are the children of the "sun" and the "moon". This is the Christians.
If we look at the history of America, there is no time in the past when there was so little of Jesus and the Bible in public institutions as there is today. Look at our government, our educational system, our judicial system, the media. Do you see the "sun" (Jesus) and the "moon" (Bible) in our public institutions? Have any "stars" (Christians) fallen from heaven? You bet they have. James Baker and Jimmy Swaggert to name a couple. Christians as a whole have about the same rate of divorce, adultery, abortions and others sins as the general population. Have we, the "stars", fallen from heaven? You decide.
Many are expecting Christ to return in the literal sky on literal clouds. Rev. Moon was guided by the Holy Spirit to Hebrews 12:1. It says, "...we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles..." A cloud of witnesses in this verse is a great number of people. Unificationism says that in the Last Days, there will be a great cloud of witnesses (i.e. believers in Christ) that effectively change the world through active faith.
What "earth" will be destroyed? In the Bible, "heaven" and "earth" can be either literal or symbolic. Jesus said in John 6:38, "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me." Jesus was not denying his birth on earth and claiming he came down from the sky. He was saying his origins were in God in heaven and in spirit. The "earth" that Jesus came down to was the world of evil. This "earth" (the evil world) is what he intends to destroy, not the literal earth (i.e. the soil).
The weapon of choice for Jesus is truth. Truth is the power he uses to change the world. It is referred to in the Bible by many symbols such as fire, sword, breath, tongue, hammer and lightning. In the Last Days it is the Spirit of Truth that comes bringing new truth that will change the world (John 16:12-13, I Cor. 13: 9-12, I John 3:2) Ephes. 6:16-17 speaks of "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Jesus said, "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled." (Luke 12:49) In Jer. 23:29 it says, "Is not my word like fire," declares the Lord, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces." Hosea 6:5 says "my judgments flashed like lightning upon you." II Thess. 2:8 says "the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth..." In the Last Days people and things will be burned up; the earth will be shaken; people will be thrown into the fire. Unificationism teaches these are not literal but testifying to the power of truth.
All the supernatural events have explanations in terms of spiritual warfare and things that will be taking place in the minds and hearts of people in the Last Days. Take heart, peace on earth for all is coming.
Rev. Moon has revealed hundreds and hundreds of such discoveries as these in the Bible. Copies of the basic study guide are available at no charge by writing to me at P.O. Box 1802, Bloomington, IL 61702.
Rev. James Stephens is pastor of the Unification Church in Bloomington.
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