Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Some preachers describe the change that takes place when one is "saved," or "born again," as a metamorphosis, but unfortunately, born-again Christians too often resemble the person they were prior to accepting Christ. While it is true that saved individuals go from the "egg stage to the adult stage," the process for the transformation requires the two transitional stages as well.
If we look at the Monarch's life as a metaphor for a Christian's life, we see the "egg stage" as representing the unsaved person. The "larva stage" pictures the period between the moment of salvation, until we die. Could that have been what Isaac Watts meant by the line "for such a worm as I," in his hymn entitled At the Cross (see also Job 25:6; Ps. 22:6; Isa. 41:14)? Our true metamorphosis occurs "within the cocoon" we call death. Our change takes place in a moment so short, that Paul calls it "the twinkling of an eye" (1 Cor. 15:52). John said that our change happens the instant we see Jesus (1 Jn. 3:2). It is when we are finally like our Savior, that we can truly say we are "beautiful adults." And since we shall rule and reign with Christ in His kingdom, one could even say that we are, at long last, "Monarchs" (Rev. 20:6)!
However, in the mean time, born again believers are still earth-bound, "crawling around eating what this world has to offer." We are no longer lost "eggs," but we certainly have not yet been transformed into spiritual adults, that's for sure. Paul spoke of the battle within him between his two natures. On the one hand, he was a physical being that longed for meeting the needs of his human nature, while on the other, he was a new creation, a spiritual being, that wanted to be freed from the desires of his flesh to serve God (2 Cor. 5:17; Rom. 7:14-25).
The change which occurs between our being "a lost egg," and becoming "a born again caterpillar," is called SALVATION. We become a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Jn. 1:12; Eph. 1:13).
The transformation from "a caterpillar" to a "chrysalis," is called SANCTIFICATION. While we are not yet Christ-like, we are "set apart" from the rest of humanity, for His work and glory (Jn. 17:17; 1 Thes. 4:3).
The remarkable result that occurs "in the cocoon" (when we are taken up in the Rapture, or when we die), is called GLORIFICATION. We become like Him, and share in His glory (Jn. 17:22; Rom. 8:17, 30).
NOTE: For a comparison/contrast between Butterflies and Moths, see "BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS" (4-19-11).
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Today, I would like to share a study of King Saul, the first king of Israel, who started out as a fine God-fearing man. He was the humble son of Kish, from the Tribe of Benjamin (1 Sam. 9:1-3, 21). Saul was a goodly (handsome) man, and at least a foot taller than the tallest man in all of Israel (1 Sam. 9:2). In other words, he was the kind of man people "looked up to" (pardon the pun).
The people of Israel had complained to the prophet Samuel that all the other nations had kings, and even though God had chosen Israel to be a different, unique people, who were to follow Him, they preferred to be like everyone else and to follow a man (1 Sam. 8:5, 19). By choosing to be like everyone else, they were choosing to reject God (1 Sam. 8:7-8). God told Samuel to warn them about following a man (1 Sam. 8:9-18), and described their choice as being "wicked" (1 Sam. 12:17).
Many have been critical of Saul because of his cowardice at the challenge of Goliath (1 Sam. 17:11), and for his paranoia concerning David. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the following are symptoms of paranoia:
- unfounded suspicions; believes others are plotting against him
- perceives attacks on his reputation, and is quick to counterattack
- has dramatic mood swings, anger, fear, and believes others are plotting against him.
If Americans were aware that their leaders are only as good as the citizens are faithful to God, perhaps they would quit blaming politicians and "get their act together!" Unfortunately, it is easier to blame than obey.
Monday, November 28, 2011
In Genesis 2:7, we are told that God formed man from the dust of the ground, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and as a result, man became a living soul. Although we are not told how man's spirit came into being, we know that Adam was "in (God's) image and likeness," and therefore, a triune being and spiritually alive (Gen. 1:26). We also know that when Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, he died; since his body and soul obviously remained alive, he had to have died spiritually (Gen. 2:17; 3:5). This is confirmed by the discussion Jesus had with Nicodemus (Jn. 3:1-8), where Nicodemus is told he needed to be born again of the Spirit.
When a person is truly saved (born again), he is QUICKENED or MADE ALIVE SPIRITUALLY by God (Eph. 2:1, 5). He receives the Holy Spirit, Who influences his spirit, so that he is able to perceive and understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:12). The born again man no longer "hides from God," but he longs to be in His presence (Gen. 3:8; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21-23). Paul, in speaking of the Lord's return to remove believers before the Tribulation, says, "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort ye one another with these words" (1 Thes. 4:17-18).
But unfortunately, while born again believers wait for the Lord to fulfill the promise to return for God's children in John 14:1-3, we are in a war, a tug-of-war, between God and Satan. There is a battle going on, heavenly warfare, for the influence of our souls (Eph. 6:12). God wants us to stand strong as a light to the lost world, and Satan desires to deceive and discourage us (Eph. 6:10-18).
In addition to that battle, believers have a battle going on within themselves. Paul wrote that he struggled with the conflict going on between his mind and his body; his mind wanted to please God, but his body wanted to please itself (Rom. 7:15-25). And so, the tug-of-war goes on between two sides: the world, the flesh, and the devil on one team, and the Word, the Spirit, and the Father on the other. If you cannot feel yourself being "tugged upon by each team," then I guarantee you that you are not born again.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
If Christ is your Savior, then He is also your Lord, because that is who He is! The identity of Jesus was announced by the angel of the Lord to lowly shepherds attending their flocks. He said, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord" (Lk. 2:11). Who is this Savior? He is Christ the Lord!
Jesus is called "Lord" over seven hundred times in the New Testament, and of those, over two hundred appear in the four Gospels. In contrast, Jesus is only called "Savior" twenty-four times in the entire New Testament. And yet, there are many who say something like, "I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was (age), but I accepted Him as my Lord when I was much older." In my opinion, for what it is worth, those individuals became born again Christians when they accepted Him for who He is: Jesus is Lord!
When a person is saved, who is the Person that he trusts? Luke wrote, "And they said, Believe on the LORD Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31). When you put your trust in Jesus, who is Lord, you are saved. You become a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). The thief on the cross next to Jesus said to Him, "LORD, remember me when Thou comest into thy kingdom" (Lk. 23:42). Following the Resurrection of Jesus, the Apostle Thomas, upon seeing Jesus, said, "My LORD and my God" (Jn. 20:28). The Apostle Paul's response to Jesus was, "LORD, what wilt Thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6).
In addition to the use of the term in the Gospels, Jesus is called "Lord" over one hundred times in the Book of Acts. In the Apostle Paul's epistles, Jesus is identified as "Lord" more than one hundred fifty times. The writer of the Book of Hebrews describes Jesus as "Lord" sixteen times, and in the small epistle written by James, he calls Jesus "Lord" thirteen times. In his two epistles, Peter calls Jesus "Lord" twenty-three times, while tiny Book of Jude identifies Jesus as "Lord" six times. In his three epistles, and the Book of Revelation, John calls Jesus "Lord" twenty-four times.
The title "Savior," on the other hand, appears three times in the Gospels, twice in Acts, twelve times in the epistles of Paul (six of those are in the Book of Titus), five times in Peter's epistles, once in the epistles of John, and once in the Book of Jude. Based upon how the writers of the New Testament present Jesus, I have to come to the conclusion that He is LORD, and being the Savior is the role He played in God's plan to redeem mankind.
So, the bottom line is: Jesus is either your Lord, or He is not your Savior!
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Salvation involves repentance, the turning from sin, and results in a response, motivated by gratitude, and based upon the awesomeness of a God who would take on a human form, just to die for our sin (Phil 2:5-8; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:21). We often forget that God's plan, from the time He chose to create man, was that man would be like Him (Gen. 1:26-27). That has not changed. The Apostle Paul wrote that it was predestined by God that we should be "conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:49; 2 Cor. 3:18). Paul pleaded with believers to "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1). The Apostle John wrote that we who believe in Jesus will be like Him when, at last, we see Him in all His glory (1 Jn. 3:2).
Salvation is the result of one placing his faith in Jesus Christ. But it is of extreme importance that those trusting in Jesus recognize who He is.
He is the Creator (Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:1-2).
He is God (Jn. 1:1, 14; 1 Tim. 3:16; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8).
And, He is to be our Lord. Paul wrote: "if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Rom. 10:9).
Those who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, understand that they are surrendering to His Lordship. They understand that they need to learn about His will for their lives. They hunger for His Word, to know what pleases Him, and what offends Him. After all, He is Lord!
Friday, November 25, 2011
1) "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations" (share the Gospel of Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation - Rom. 1:16).
2) "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
THE FORGOTTEN PART OF THE GREAT COMMISSION:
3) "Teaching them to observe ALL things whatsoever I have commanded you" (disciple them).
Cults are very much like packs of animals that hunt their prey by separating out the young and the weak. They are wise in that they know young, doctrinally weak Christians are interested in spiritual things, and that they are easily persuaded. Christians can learn a lot from the practices of the cults:
1. Active cult members are often more familiar with the Bible than many Christians. They know where to find verses, and they seem to have an answer to every argument that you give them. They are very well trained in their false teachings. Because of this many, Christians are afraid of talking with those who belong to a cult. If anyone should know their Bibles well, should not it be those who are born again Christians? And yet, sad to say, the average Bible believer is horribly ignorant of God's truth.
2. Usually a cult member is not ashamed of his false gospel. He is always ready to give a reason for his false beliefs. If anyone should be excited about sharing God's Word, it should be the born again believer. If we are really concerned for the lost, we should be living it so others will be drawn to hear God's message of salvation by faith in Christ.
3. Cult members are totally indoctrinated by their cult's false teachings. And, even though they are wrongly taught, they are well taught. They know how to defend their faith against biblical arguments which they view as being falsely interpreted. If Christians knew the Word as well as cult members know their false doctrines, it would not take long before the cult would be limited to approaching only those ignorant of the truths of the Bible.
"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ; until all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect (mature) man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive" (Eph. 4:11-15)!
Thursday, November 24, 2011
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the world Thy hand hath made;
I see the stars; I hear the rolling thunder;
Thy power throughout the Universe displayed.
When through the woods and forest glades I wander,
I hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze;
And when I think that God His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in.
That on the cross, my burden gladly sharing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy will fill my heart.
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, "My God, how great Thou art!"
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
God's Riches At Christ's Expense
"Grace" has been described as "God's Riches At Christ's Expense." The Greek word for "grace" is χάρις (charis) meaning "unmerited favor" or "gift." Grace is getting something you do not deserve. Believers are adopted by God to be His children because of His character, and not due to our worthiness (Rom. 8:15; Eph. 1:5).
Mankind Escaping the Righteous Condemnation of Yehovah
But God is just, and because He is, He could allow sinful man to go unpunished. He has declared "the wages of (payment for) sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). Unfortunately, the Bible declares that there are none who are righteous, all have sinned, and as a result, every one of us has a death sentence hanging over his head (Rom. 3:10, 23). So before God could give us something we do not deserve (grace), He had to find a way to show us mercy. The Greek word for "mercy" is ἔλεος (eleos) meaning "clemency" or "not getting what one deserves." Mercy is Mankind Escaping the Righteous Condemnation of Yehovah!
Being just, God had to carry out the death sentence for our sin. That is why, before He created our planet, God's plan involved a way man could be justly forgiven his sins without having to die. Jesus, His only begotten Son, is the Lamb slain for us from before the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:34; Jn. 1:29, 36; Eph. 1:4; Rev. 13:8). Christ was our "Passover Lamb" (1 Cor. 5:7). God showed us mercy by providing a Substitute to take our place; Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8; 8:34; 2 Cor. 5:14; 1 Thes. 5:10).
Because Jesus gave Himself to suffer and die in our place, we have received God's mercy. And because we no longer are under a sentence of death, God's grace is poured out on us. We have been saved from our sin, we are His adopted children, we are sealed to Him by the Holy Spirit, and we will spend eternity with Him. I am so thankful to God for His mercy and His grace!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
A gestalt switch takes place when one reads the Bible, the Word of God, and his perspective of self changes from being "a good person," to being a "hopeless sinner" in need of a Savior. James wrote that a man who hears the Word and goes on as if it did not matter, "is like unto a man beholding his natural image in a glass (mirror). For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was" (Jam. 23-24). In other words, he understands he needs a Savior, but he just doesn't care.
For those who do care, and who respond by accepting Jesus as their Savior, the ultimate gestalt switch occurs; for them, Jesus goes from being A son of Mary, to being THE Son of God. He goes from believing Jesus was just a wise man, similar to Confucius, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc., to being God, Creator of the Universe (Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:1-2).
When a man is exposed to the Gospel message, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, he can deny it, or he can accept it as truth. As in the illustration of the young lady and the old lady above, he can choose to accept either one as real. If he chooses that Jesus was just a man, he will go on living as he had. However, if he chooses to believe he is a sinner, and he accepts Jesus as his Savior, he will begin a new life (Jn. 3:3-8). He has become a new creature; he sees everything from a new perspective (2 Cor. 5:17).
In a sense, repentance is really nothing more than a gestalt switch. The Greek word for "repentance" is μετανοέω (metanoeō) meaning "change the mind." When a person repents, he realizes that he was thinking wrongly, and he begins thinking rightly (thinking as God thinks and seeing things just as God sees things).
Luke wrote that "repentance AND remission of sins should be preached in His name (Jesus) among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Lk. 24:47). "Remission" is translated from the Greek ἄφεσις (aphesis), which means "forgiveness or pardon of sins." Therefore, the message the disciples were to preach was that lost man should have a changed mind based upon Christ's offer of forgiveness of sins.
Have you experienced the ultimate gestalt switch?
Monday, November 21, 2011
Matthew wrote: "And, behold, one came and said unto Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And He said unto him, Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God..." (Matt. 19:16-17).
I believe Jesus was saying to him, "Are you talkin' to Me? You do not recognize me as God, and yet you call Me good." He obviously did not know his Bible (the Old Testament). In the Scriptures, only God is recognized as good (Ps. 34:8; 100:5; 135:3; Nah. 1:7). The Word clearly tells us that mere human beings are incapable of being good (Ps. 14:1, 3; 53:1, 3; Eccl. 7:20).
The man also erred in thinking he could somehow "save himself" by good deeds, for if that were true, then man would have no need of a Savior. Had he known his Bible, he would have known that works are insufficient to save; only God can save a man (Ps. 106:21; Isa. 43:3, 11; 45:15, 21; 49:26; 60:16; Hos. 13:4).
The young man's response to the Lord's encouragement to sell all he had and follow Him, shows that he did not understand what it means to have eternal life. He needed to recognize Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and had he done that, he would have been willing to forsake all and follow Him. Jesus taught that eternal life was God's promise to those who believed in Him. In another incident where men wanted to know what works they could do to for God, John wrote, "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him (Jesus) whom He (the Father) hath sent. (Jn. 6:29).
The truths of the Old Testament concerning God alone being good, man's need of a Savior, and man's inability to earn, merit, or work for his salvation, are repeated again and again in the New Testament.
God is good: Romans 11:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Hebrews 6:5; 1 Peter 2:3.
Man is not: Matthew 15:19; Romans 3:10, 12; 7:18; James 3:2; 1 John 1:8, 10.
Works cannot save: Acts 13:39; Galatians 2:16; 3:11; Ephesians 2:9; Titus 3:5.
It is not by works we do that saves us, but by believing in the finished work He has done that provides us with eternal life (Jn. 19:30; Titus 3:5; Heb. 4:3)!
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Revised from a Middletown Bible Church paper on "Barabbas' Theory of the Atonement" by C. I. Scofield.
Barabbas was condemned to die. No one has ever questioned the justice of his sentence. He was a rebel against the law, a robber, and a murderer. He was under the sentence of death. He was not awaiting trial, but execution by crucifixion. He knew that meant long hours of unspeakable agony, with his hands and feet torn by great spikes, his wrist and shoulder joints dislocated by the dragging down of his body, and experiencing an unquenchable thirst. He would not have to wait long, for he knew that his jailers had prepared three crosses; it was just a matter of time.
But as night fell, the prison was buzzing with talk of something unusual going on. The night dragged on, and at last, it is daylight—the light of his last day! He heard footsteps, the key in the lock, his prison door opened, and just as he had summoned all of his fortitude for the ordeal which awaited him, he heard the joyful words: "You have been set free, Barabbas; another is to die in your place."
As Barabbas emerged into the free, glorious sunshine, the crowd was already surging out toward the Place of the Skull. One can, easily imagine that Barabbas followed the throng, striving eagerly to see the Man who was to die for him. Perhaps it was not until the sound of the hammer driving the nails had ceased, and the cross—Barabbas’ cross—had been raised, that Barabbas saw the Sufferer.
Barabbas knew Him. His substitute was the new Teacher out of Galilee, the Man who spoke as no man had ever spoken. He was the Man whose life had been watched so closely, and yet, no one could rightfully say they had seen Him sin. He had heard that Jesus healed leprosy, had raised Lazarus, and that He fed five thousand men, not to mention the number of women and children, from just five loaves and a few small fishes. Because of these, and like things, Barabbas must have considered this Jesus might really be the Messiah His disciples had proclaimed Him to be.
Barabbas did not need to be a theologian to understand the meaning of the atonement for his sin:
*He knew that he was a sinner, under the righteous condemnation of the law (Luke 23:25). And as a sinner, Barabbas represented all men (Rom. 3:10-20, 23; Gal. 3:10).
*He knew that the Sufferer before him had done no sin (Jn. 8:46; 19:4; 1 Pet. 2:22).
*He knew that Jesus was, for him, a true substitute (Isa. 53:5-6; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; 1 Pet. 2:22-24; 3:18).
*He knew that he had done nothing whatsoever to merit Jesus taking his place; it was pure grace (Ps. 69:19-20; Rom. 4:4-5; Eph. 2:4-9; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 2:11).
*He knew that Christ’s death for him was complete the instant that his Substitute said, "It is finished" (Jn. 19:30; Rom. 5:19; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14, 20; Heb. 10:10, 14; 1 Jn. 1:7).
I tell you, my brethren, that Barabbas, of all men, understood the atonement!
Saturday, November 19, 2011
In 1:1, he described Jesus as "the Word" which was God.
In 1:3, he says that Jesus was the Creator.
In 1:14, he tells us that God (the Word) became a human being.
In 10:30, he quotes Jesus as saying, "I and My Father are one."
In 20:28, he quotes Thomas as calling Jesus "My Lord and my God."
The Son of God:
John identifies Jesus as the Son of God, a title recognized as being equal to God. It is found in the Old Testament in Psalm 2:7 and Daniel 3:25. John calls Jesus the Son of God ten times (1:34, 49; 3:18; 5:25; 9:35; 10:36; 11:4, 27; 19:7; 20:31).
Jesus is called "the Christ" by John six times (1:41; 4:29, 42; 7:41; 11:27; 20:31). "Christ" is the New Testament word for "Messiah" in the Old Testament. To the Jew, their Messiah was to rule "the kingdom of God" (3:3, 5; 18:36). That is why those who wanted Jesus crucified protested when Pilate had the sign, identifying Him as the "King of the Jews," placed over His head on the cross (19:19).
The I AM:
In the Book of Exodus, "Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is His name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: And He said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you" (Ex. 3:13-14). Jesus refers to Himself using the name of God seven times in John's Gospel. Jesus said:
"I AM the Bread of Life" (6:35).
"I AM the Light of the World" (8:12).
"I AM" (before Abraham existed) (8:58).
"I AM the Door" (10:9).
"I AM the Good Shepherd" (10:11).
"I AM the Resurrection and the Life" (11:25).
"I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (14:6).
If Jesus is God, the Son of God, the Christ, and the I AM, what do you suppose your response to Him ought to be? He died, was buried, and rose again to be our Lord and Savior. If you accept Him, it will have to be the Jesus as presented in the Bible. And the biblical Jesus is God Almighty!
Friday, November 18, 2011
Discipleship is costly for the few who accept (Lk. 14:25-33; Jn. 16:33; 2 Thes. 1:4).
Salvation takes place in an instant of time (Jn. 3:3-8; Acts 2:47; 5:14; 11:24).
Discipleship is a life-long process (Rom. 12:1-2; Phil. 1:6; 1 Jn. 3:2).
Salvation is believing on Christ (Acts 16:30-31).
Discipleship is following Christ (Matt. 4:18-22; 11:29).
Salvation is finding rest in Christ (Matt. 11:28).
Discipleship is being yoked with Christ (Matt. 11:29).
Salvation involves Christ loving me (Rom. 5:8; Gal. 2:20; John 3:16).
Discipleship involves me loving Christ (Matt. 10:37; 1 Jn. 4:19).
Salvation is "falling at the feet of Christ" (Lk. 18:13).
Discipleship is "sitting at the feet of Christ" (Lk. 10:39).
Salvation is believing the Gospel (Rom. 1:22; 1 Cor. 15:1-4).
Discipleship is spreading the Gospel (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).
Salvation involves trusting in Christ (Eph. 1:13).
Discipleship involves training by Christ (Matt. 28:19-20).
Salvation emphasizes what God has done (1 Cor. 15:3-4).
Discipleship emphasizes what man should do (Lk. 14:25-33).
Salvation involves receiving God's gift (John 1:12; Eph. 2:8-9).
Discipleship involves receiving God's instruction (Acts 2:42).
Salvation is based upon the finished work of Christ (Jn. 19:30; 1 Cor. 1:18).
Discipleship is based upon the finished Word of Christ (Jn. 8:31; Rev. 22:18-19).
Salvation says, "Come unto Me" (Matt. 11:28; Jn. 6:37).
Discipleship says, "Come after Me" (Lk. 9:23).
Salvation is God's commitment to us (Rom. 3:24).
Discipleship is the believer's commitment to Him (Jn. 6:68).
Salvation relates primarily to JUSTIFICATION (Rom. 4:25; 5:15-18).
Discipleship relates primarily to SANCTIFICATION (Rom. 15:16).
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Revised from a paper on the topic from www.middletownbiblechurch.org
When Christ came the first time Israel, as a nation, did not repent and the kingdom was postponed. When Christ comes the second time, Israel will repent and will receive their Messiah (Zech. 12:10-14; Matt. 23:39; Rom. 11:1-36). There is a false teaching which says that the Church has replaced Israel in God's program, and the Church has claimed Israel's kingdom. The technical name for this erroneous view is Replacement Theology. However, it is helpful to remember:
(1) When the kingdom is finally restored to Israel, it is a continuation of the same historical, theocratic, earthly kingdom. The very same tabernacle of David that fell will be restored, not some new, revised, or spiritual version of the kingdom (Amos 9:11; Acts 1:6; 15:16-18).
(2) When the kingdom is offered again, God guarantees that Israel will repent and receive her Messiah. In other words, there is no possibility of Israel rejecting Christ the second time, and thus postponing the kingdom yet again. We know this is so because: a) It is based upon the sure word of prophecy (Zech.12:10-13:1). b) It is based upon the provisions of the New Covenant which assure Israel of a new heart, the Holy Spirit, and thus obedience (Ezek.36:24-28). c) It is based upon the nature of the New Covenant which is unconditional. God had declared, "I will..." (Jer. 31:31-34).
Anyone who takes the kingdom passages seriously in their normal and natural sense knows that what the prophets described is certainly not being fulfilled in our day. Notice just a few of the amazing descriptions of the future kingdom: 1) A king will rule the world from Jerusalem (Isa. 2:1-4; Jer. 23:5-6); 2) Wars will cease, and there will be peace throughout the earth (Mic. 4:3); 3) People will be healed of diseases, and there will be no sickness (Isa. 33:24; 35:5-6); 4) People will enjoy amazing longevity (Isa. 65:20-22); and 5) There will be a drastic change in the nature of animals (Isa. 11:6-9).
The concept of postponement of the kingdom is not unique in the Bible. God postponed His judgment on Nineveh because they repented at the preaching of Jonah (Matt. 12:41). He did so in Ahab's case (1Kgs. 21:29). He did so in Hezekiah's case (2 Kgs. 20:5-6). He postponed night for Joshua (Josh. 10:13. He has postponed "Elijah's" coming, for had the Jews accepted Christ, John the Baptizer would have been the fulfillment of that prophecy (Mal. 4:5; Matt. 11:14; 17:10-12; Rev. 11:3-12). And, He will postpone Satan's sentence to eternity in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:1-10). Our God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8)!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
A Public Execution Assured His Death
During the Jewish Feast of Passover, Jesus was crucified. An angry crowd, religious leaders, Roman soldiers, and brokenhearted friends witnessed His death.
A High Official Secured The Grave Site
To assure that the disciples could not conspire in a resurrection hoax, Pilate ordered the official seal of Rome to be attached to the tomb. To enforce the order, soldiers stood guard.
In Spite Of Guards, The Grave Was Found Empty
On the morning after the Sabbath, some of Jesus’ followers discovered Jesus’ body was gone, and only His burial wrappings remained.
Many People Claimed To Have Seen Him Alive
Paul wrote that the resurrected Christ was seen by Peter, the twelve, more than 500 people (many of whom were still alive at the time of his writing), James, and himself (1 Cor. 15:5-8).
His Apostles Were Dramatically Changed
The Lord's disciples ran for their lives. But they went through a dramatic change, and within a few weeks, they were standing face to face with the ones who had crucified their leader.
Witnesses Were Willing To Die For Their Claims
History is full of martyrs who have died for their beliefs, but while many would die for what they believe to be the truth, few, if any, would die for what they know to be a lie.
Jewish Believers Changed Their Day Of Worship
The Sabbath day of rest and worship was basic to the Jewish way of life, yet Jewish followers of Christ began worshiping with Gentile believers on the first day of the week.
Although His Death Was Unexpected, It Was Clearly Predicted
The disciples expected their Messiah to restore the kingdom to Israel. They obviously overlooked the Old Testament prophecies which predicted His suffering (Ps. 22; Dan. 9; Isa. 53; Lk. 24:25-27).
It Was A Fitting Climax To A Miraculous Life
During His ministry, Jesus turned water into wine; walked on water; healed the sick; opened blind eyes, deaf ears, and tongue-tied mouths; restored crippled limbs; cast out demons; stilled a violent storm; and raised the dead. It is only fitting that Jesus should be raised from the dead!
It Fits The Experience Of Those Who Trust Him
Those who place their faith in Jesus Christ are commanded to be baptized. Baptism identifies the believer with His death, burial, and resurrection.
Because He Was A Gift From The Father, Salvation Is A Gift Offered To All
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (Jn. 3:16). "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9).
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
The Tribulation is the seven year "wrath of God" determined for Israel (Dan. 9:24-27; Jer. 30:7; Matt. 24:3-29).
Christ's Second Coming ends God's effort to bring His people and the Gentile world to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9; Rev. 9:20-21; 16:9-11; Matt. 24:22, 30).
Key points in the Olivet Discourse:
* 24:4 - Only Jews are still expecting their Messiah (Christ).
* 24:6 - Israel hears of wars but does not experience them.
* 24:7 - There are famines, pestilences, and earthquakes elsewhere.
* 24:9 - Messianic Jews will be persecuted in synagogues.
* 24:14 - The Gospel message is about an earthly kingdom.
* 24:15 - Only Jews would be outraged at the abomination of desolation in their temple.
* 24:16 - Those in Judea are warned to flee.
* 24:20 - Only the Jews care about the Sabbath.
* 24:23 - The Jews who flee will still be looking for the Messiah.
* 24:24 - The Jews require a sign (1 Cor. 1:22).
* 24:29 - The Tribulation, Daniel's 70th Week, is for Israel (Dan. 9:24; Jer. 30:7).
* 24:30 - The "Son of Man" always refers to the Messiah of Israel.
* 24:32-36 - The Fig Tree is a symbol for Israel (Jer. 24:1-10; Hos. 9:10; Nah. 3:12).
* 24:37-39 - An illustration of God gathering His own, and "taking away" the rest.
* 24:40-51 - Two more illustrations of Christ collecting those who are His.
* 25:1-46 - Those who are His will have "their light shining," will have "used their talents," and will have treated His people well during the Tribulation. They will enter into His Millennial Kingdom.
Some might ask why Jesus would teach His disciples, soon to be the founders of His Church, about things they will not live to see. In fact, since His disciples, both living and dead, will be in heaven due to the Rapture, the obvious question is, "Who will be reading the Olivet Discourse?" I believe the answer is simple; those in the Tribulation who were "Christian" in name only, Jews whose "eyes are opened" when the Antichrist declares himself to be god, and those who believed what the two witnesses preached. Amen.
Monday, November 14, 2011
This passage is not written in parable form; it is a prophetic declaration concerning a specific future event. We are, once again, reminded that the Olivet Discourse is written chronologically. Matthew wrote:
"When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left" (Matt. 25:31-33).Jesus, the Son of God, identifying Himself as "the Son of man," as He often did, presents a picture of His Second Coming. Matthew referred to Jesus as the "Son of man" twenty-nine times in his Gospel, seven of which appear in the Olivet Discourse. His return will be accompanied by His angels. Even though this passage does not mention the Church coming with Him, we know, from elsewhere in the Word, that we will (Jn. 12:26; 14:3; 2 Cor. 5:8; 1 Thes. 3:13).
Many have confused this judgment of the nations as being the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15, but the judgment of the nations occurs prior to the Millennial Kingdom (Matt. 25:34). This judgment is of the living, those who survived the Tribulation, but the Great White Throne Judgment follows the one thousand year reign of Christ, and is a judgment of the resurrected dead.
The judgment, spoken of in the Olivet Discourse, is based upon how those "nations" treated "His brethren" during the Tribulation (Matt. 25:40, 45). Picture the scene. Jesus is seated on "the throne of His glory" (v. 31). All of Israel, and all born again believers, the true Church, are seated at His feet facing those being judged. I believe Revelation 4:4 and 21:12-14 support this view.
All the "nations" have been "gathered-up" by the angels, and are standing before Him (v. 32). The text uses the word "nations" to refer to the Gentiles. In other words, all people other than God's chosen nation, Israel. "Nations" is used throughout the Bible to refer to the Gentiles. Here, the Greek translated "nations" is ἔθνος (ethnos) and it is a neuter noun. Those being judged, translated "them" is αὐτός (autos), a masculine pronoun. This judgment is foretold in Joel 3:1-2).
Those who treated His “brethren” well are called “sheep,” and are permitted to enter His Millennial Kingdom (Matt. 25:34). Those who mistreated His “brethren,” are called “goats,” and are sentenced to “everlasting punishment” (Matt. 25:46).
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Just as He taught that believing Jews and Gentiles in the Tribulation were to be ready for His Second Coming in the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt. 25:1-13), Jesus continued teaching about being ready in the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30). Based upon three verses in the parable, we know that Jesus was using money to illustrate the measure of His servant's accountability as stewards while He was gone (v. 14, 18, 27). According to a note in the Scofield Bible, a talent was equal to 6000 denarii. A Roman denarius was a silver coin about two-thirds the size of an American quarter, and it was worth about a day's wages of an ordinary laborer. If that is true, the "traveling man" in the parable gave one of His servants over eighty-three years worth of wages; one was given over thirty-three years worth, and the last was given nearly seventeen years worth. The question is, what does the money represent?
I believe it represents "light," or the truth of the Gospel. The virgins who were faithful, in the previous parable, kept their "light" burning for all to see. Early in His ministry, Jesus had taught His disciples that they were to be "light," and that believers in Him should "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). If the "talents" in this parable represent "light" or understanding of the truth, then letting men "see" would result in God being glorified. The result would be the salvation of lost souls. There is a precedent for this interpretation, in that, men will be sentenced to differing degrees of punishment based upon their response to the amount of light they rejected (Matt. 11:20-24). The “works” of a believer do not save him, but a genuine believer will be a workman for God (Eph. 2:10; Titus 2:14; 3:1; Heb. 13:21; Jam. 2:17-26).
In this parable, a wealthy man takes a journey, and before he leaves, he distributes his goods to his servants. Notice the reward for faithfulness is not money, and is identical, regardless of the amount involved: “I will make thee ruler over many things” (Mt. 25:21, 23). This is consistent with several passages (II Tim. 2:12; Rev. 5:10; Rev. 20:4, 6; 22:5, etc.). So, even during the Tribulation, believers are to faithfully witness for Christ. Those who are truly His servants will share the Gospel with the lost, but those who only pretend to be His servants will hide because they care more about their own lives than they do for the souls of the lost. Just as we sing, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,” pictures the Christian's responsibility for soul-winning before the Rapture, believers during the Tribulation, the Jews (and Gentiles) whose eyes been opened, having "seen the light," are to “let it shine!” Remember, this story tells us that the traveler has returned, and He is evaluating those who claim to have been His servants during the Tribulation.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
What I don't know is the identity of the virgins; the meaning of the oil and the lamps; why five who apparently could have shared their oil, did not; how five could "buy" oil; and why those who believed He was coming and called Him "Lord," were rejected. I have read interpretations by many noted Bible teachers, but I have found that they not only disagree as to the meaning of some of the details in the parable, they often do not have scriptural support for their "guesses."
Some have speculated that the ten virgins must be Jews who have survived the Tribulation, but if Christ going in and closing the door illustrates half were saved, and half were lost, it seems unlikely that they are Jews because the Word says "...all Israel shall be saved...." (Rom. 11:26).
Some believe the "oil" represents the Holy Spirit, but is it really possible to "buy" the Holy Spirit? And even if it were possible, the doctrinal implications of five who had once had "oil," "using it up and having none," is inconsistent with the words "everlasting life," and "eternal life" used to describe the result of faith in Jesus. Even the meaning of the lamps is debatable. If they are picturing the Word of God (Ps. 119:105), how does one "trim" God's Word?
The phrase, "Lord, Lord" appears elsewhere in Matthew's Gospel. Jesus said, "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. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity." (7:21-23). In this passage, those calling Jesus Lord were attempting to "qualify for heaven" by doing good works. However, the only "work" man can do to "qualify" is to "...believe on Him whom He hath sent" (Jn. 6:29). It is possible that the five virgins who were allowed to enter had simply trusted in Him, while those remaining outside were trusting in their good works. Again, that is simply my guess. I really don't know for sure.
Friday, November 11, 2011
The Bridegroom is Jesus (Matt. 9:15; Jn. 3:29; Rev. 21:9).
The bride consists of the redeemed of Israel and born again believers (Isa. 54:5; Jer. 3:14; 31:31-33; Rev. 21:12-14).
According to the parable in Matthew 22:1-14, the Father sent His servants (the prophets) to gather the invited guests, Israel, but they rejected the invitation, even harming those who were sent to them (v. 3-8). As a result, the Father "was wroth: and He sent forth His armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city (v. 7). Jerusalem, with the Temple, was destroyed in A.D. 70!
The Father then sent out His servants (the apostles) to gather whosoever they could find to come to the wedding, "both good and bad" (v. 8-10). Although I can find no evidence for this, I believe the wedding garments were provided freely to those attending. When one did not feel the need to accept a garment, he was forcibly removed (v. 11-13). Jesus summed up the parable by saying, "For many are called, but few are chosen" (v. 14). God's chosen was Israel, a small nation of people compared to the many who were called as a result to Israel's rejection of their Messiah (the entire population of humanity - Jn. 1:11-12; Rom. 10:13). In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile; all are considered to be the bride of Christ (Gal. 3:28; Rev. 22:9).
The marriage of a Jewish man involved his choosing a wife, his payment of the price for her hand in marriage, his return home to prepare a place for them to live, his return to take his wife home to marry her, and he, with his bride would return for the wedding celebration.
That is exactly what our Lord did and will do for us. He has chosen us (Eph. 1:4; 2 Thes. 2:13; 1 Pet. 2:9). He has paid the price (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23; 2 Pet. 2:1). He has returned to heaven to prepare a place for us (Jn. 14:1-2; Acts 1:9). He will return to take His bride home (Jn. 14:3; 1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thes. 4:16-17). He will marry us in heaven (Rev. 19:7-8). Together with Him, we will return to the wedding celebration (Matt. 25:10 - the word "marriage" in the Greek is γάμος (gamos) , which is best translated "a wedding or marriage festival, a wedding banquet, a wedding feast>"). That celebration is what the virgins were to prepare.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Two Warnings About His Second Coming (24:40-51)
In this passage, Jesus again tells us that life will be going on as usual; workers will be working in the fields and grinding the harvest when He returns. One will be taken and the other will be left. Some have interpreted this as a picture of the Rapture, but Jesus is teaching chronologically. This passage begins, “then shall” which shows the event follows the Tribulation (see v. 29). Those taken will no longer be here, while the others will remain. Since the next event is the Millennium, the ones left will live on Earth under the authority of the King of kings (Rev. 19:16 - 20:6).
Jesus, in what must seem to most as a strange illustration, describes Himself as a “Thief,” and Satan as “the Goodman.” The Word says that Satan is the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). In the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, Satan offered the world to Christ if He would simply fall down and worship him (Mt. 4:8-9). Notice that Jesus didn’t tell Satan that it wasn’t his to give. And, Jesus said He would come as a "thief in the night" (2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:15). What does the “Thief” take? He takes the “Goodman’s” prize possessions: the souls that still belong to him. Those left enter the Millennium.
In verses 45-51, Jesus tells us of how the division of the people will be determined. Those who are faithful in their stewardship over His sheep through the Tribulation, protecting and shepherding them until He comes, will remain for the Millennium; those who are unloving toward His sheep will be cast out where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Revelation 19:11-21 indicates that those taken were killed by the Word which is described as a sword from the mouth of Jesus (vv. 15, 21). Revelation 19:20 tells us that those removed had either received the mark of the beast, or they had worshiped his image. The antichrist and the false prophet, are then cast alive into the lake of fire. Those remaining enter the Millennium with Christ. During this time, the rest of the prophecies concerning Israel's Messiah will be fulfilled.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Mt. 25:1-13)
Just as in the above examples, in the Parable of the Ten Virgins, some will be found faithful, and some will not. Jesus again begins with the word “then” indicating He is going to tell them about the next event to occur. The previous chapter ended with the Lord warning those awaiting His return, to be found faithful. This chapter begins with the same idea; the faithfulness of the virgins had to do with their preparation for a wedding. This coincides with the same sequence of events in Revelation 19:7-10.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Because so many interpret Matthew 24:37-41 to be a description of the Rapture, I believe now would be a good time to discuss that event. The Rapture of the Church takes place prior to the seven year Tribulation, while the event in this passage occurs at the Second Coming of Christ, at the end of the Tribulation.
The Rapture, or catching up of the Church, is a mystery, and it is described in I Corinthians 15:51-52 and in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Also, it is clear that Jesus was speaking of the Rapture in John 14:3. We are told that Christians will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air. There are examples of this happening in scripture, with Enoch (before there was an Israel - Gen. 5:22-24), Elijah (before there was a Church - 2 Kgs. 2:11), and the two witnesses (after the Church had been removed - Rev. 11:12). And, there are a few clues in other cases: Phillip (Acts 8:39), Paul (2 Cor. 12:2), and the apostle John (Rev. 4:1). The Lord will be consistent in removing the Church prior to His judgment that takes place below. He did so in the case of Noah, when He had Noah build the Ark which would take him and his family above the destruction below. Also, in the case of Lot, the angels took Lot and his family up into a mountain before God poured out His judgment below (Gen. 19:17). Here are five reasons the Rapture will happen prior to the Tribulation:
1) The Seventy Weeks of Daniel refers to Israel (Dan. 9:24).
2) The Church did not exist during the first sixty-nine weeks, and it is logical to believe that the seventieth week is also “appointed unto (Daniel’s) people.”
3) The Book of Revelation omits mention of the Church during the Tribulation (Rev. Ch. 6-19).
4) The Tribulation is described as God’s wrath, and the Church will be kept from it (1 Thes. 1:9-10; 5:2-11).
5) The messages to the churches of Philadelphia and Laodicea: one (possessors of Christ) will be spared, while the other (professors only) will not (Rev. 3:10, 16).
There is much clear teaching in the scripture that differentiates between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ. First, the Rapture is a mystery, but the coming of Christ is longed for by both Jews and Christians. Here are just some of the many differences:
1) While the Rapture is before the Tribulation (1 Thes. 1:9-10), the Second Coming occurs after it (Mt. 24:29-30).
2) Only believers will see Christ at the Rapture (1 Jn. 3:2), but Israel and unbelievers will not see Him until His Second Coming (Rev. 1:7).
3) The Rapture is a meeting with Jesus in the air (1 Thes. 4:17), while His Second Coming will be to the Mount of Olives (Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 14:1-4; Mt. 24:30; Acts 1:12).
4) In the Rapture, believers will be taken up to heaven (1 Thes. 4:13-18), while it is unbelievers that are gathered for judgment at His Second Coming (Mt. 24:37-51).
5) In the Rapture, Christ comes to get His Church (Jn.14:3), and His Second Coming is with His Church (Rev. Ch. 19-20).
6) Those left behind at the Rapture will mourn (Rev. 6:16); those left behind at the Second Coming will rejoice (Matt. 25:14-40).
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Jesus then reveals that His return will be like Noah’s flood. No one knew the day or the hour the flood would come, but those who would perish in it were warned. Even though Noah, a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet. 2:5), drew a great deal of attention by building the Ark over several years, none of the population seemed to respond to his warnings. We are told that life went on as normal, with people living as they had always lived. Noah built and preached, and they ate, drank, and started families. When the time came for judgment to come upon the world, God saved eight souls by lifting them above the destruction below (Gen. 7:16-17; 1 Pet.3:20). The flood came and took away those who did not place their trust in God. Only those who believed in, and who trusted in God's provision (the Ark), were left on the earth. Noah received grace (unmerited favor) from God to believe, to build, to preach, and to walk with God. The Word tells us that all flesh was corrupted (Gen. 6:12). Noah didn’t deserve to be saved, and neither has any other, before or since. Salvation has always been by faith in God (Eph. 2:8-9).
Two Warnings About His Second Coming (24:40-51)
In the next passage, Jesus again explains that life will be going on as usual; workers will be working in the fields and grinding the harvest when He returns. One will be taken and the other will be left. Some have interpreted this as a picture of the Rapture, but Jesus is teaching chronologically. This passage begins, “then shall” which shows the event follows the Tribulation (see v. 29). Those taken will no longer be here, while the rest will remain. Since the next event is the Millennium, the ones left will be allowed to live under the authority of the King of kings in His kingdom (Rev. 19:16-20:6).
In the ultimate irony, Jesus then describes Himself as a “Thief,” and Satan as “the Goodman.” We know that Satan is "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4). In his temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, Satan offered the world to Christ, if He would simply fall down and worship him (Mt. 4:8-9). Notice that Jesus didn’t tell Satan that it wasn’t his to give. We also know that Jesus will come as a thief in the night (2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:15. What does the “Thief” take? He removes the “Goodman’s” prize possessions: the souls that still belong to Satan. Those left will be allowed to enter His Millennial Kingdom. Revelation 19:11-21 indicates that those taken were killed by the Word which is described as a sword from the mouth of Jesus (vv. 15, 21).
In all of these examples, those taken were removed so that those remaining could live on with God. The Word tells us that those removed had either received the mark of the beast or they had worshiped his image (Rev. 19:20). The Antichrist and the false prophet are then cast alive into the lake of fire. In each case, Noah's Ark and the Thief, the unfaithful are removed, and those remaining live on. The Second Coming of Christ signals the beginning of the fulfillment of the remaining messianic prophecies.
Monday, November 7, 2011
In Part Four, I mentioned the "blindness" that would prevent Israel from recognizing the Antichrist, the Man of Sin. When he commits the "abomination of desolation," their blindness will be removed (Mt. 24:15; Mk. 13:14; and Lk. 21:20). Jesus tells them what will take place, and when those living in that day see and understand it, then those who are in Judea must flee! It is my understanding that all of the world's Jews will have returned when the Antichrist made the seven year peace covenant with Israel.
Christ’s return will be immediately after the three and a half years Israel is "on the run." This period is called the Great Tribulation (Mt. 24:29). His coming will be so bright that it is compared to the entire sky being filled with lightning (Mt. 24: 27). Ironically, the sun is darkened and His brightness is all the more spectacular (Mt. 24:29)! During the first half of the seven year Tribulation, God had sent two witnesses to declare the Gospel of Christ (Rev. 11:3-12). As a result, all peoples will see His coming and mourn because they all will know He is Israel’s Messiah (Mt. 24:14, 30).
The Parable of the Fig Tree (Mt. 24:32-36)
Nearly all those who interpret the Parable of the Fig Tree, identify the tree as Israel. There are a few passages that refer to Israel being symbolized by the fig tree (Jer. 24:1-10; Hos. 9:10; Nah. 3:12, etc.), but Jesus did not say to watch Israel. He said that when “ye shall see all these things” occur, His coming is near. What things are they to see? The things that He previously described in chapter twenty-four! A fig tree putting forth new leaves is a sign that summer is coming; the events of the seven year period known as The Tribulation are signs that Jesus is coming. The fact that Jesus said, “all these things” which is plural, and not “this thing” (the Fig Tree’s growth is a singular sign), tells us He was using the parable in the context of the chapter. What we have here is a simile, or symbolic language showing a comparative relationship between two things: new growth is to summer, as seven years of events is to His coming.
Therefore, the generation that sees the events of the Tribulation occur will be living when Christ returns. Well, that is logical if one thinks of a generation as a length of time, or of a people living at a specific time, because the Tribulation is only seven years long. However, the Greek word genea, here translated "generation," is the root for the word genealogy, and is more likely being used to describe the nation. It is translated "nation" in Mark 7:26, Galatians 1:14, and Philippians 2:15. The Tribulation is the work of God to bring a people, a nation, to repentance and to faith in Jesus Christ, their Messiah. Jesus told Israel to flee (Mt. 24:16). He was saying that those Jews (the family, the race, the nation) who are living during the Tribulation, that they should not lose hope, because He is coming to their rescue.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
The first half of the Tribulation is described in Matthew 24:4-14. False Christs will come and deceive many. Israel will hear of wars and rumors of wars but will not experience them. Nations and kingdoms will be at war, and the world will experience famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. Millions who know the Bible, but who had never given their lives to Jesus, will recognize the prophecy and be saved (Rev. 7:9-14). Believers, converted during this time, will be taken to synagogues for prosecution for Christ’s name sake. The Church, itself, will not be here during the Tribulation. We will discuss the Rapture of the Church later. God will send two witnesses so that the Gospel will be preached to all nations; the Holy Spirit will speak through them, and the whole world will be without excuse (Rev. 11:3-13). Israel, still living in spiritual blindness (Rom. 11:25), will hear the Gospel, and just in time. Their blindness is about to end and they are about to become the ones being hunted.
The Second Half of the Tribulation (Matt. 24:15-28; Rev. Ch. 12-18)
The Antichrist and his armies surround the city of Jerusalem (Lk. 21:20), and as he enters triumphantly, the first place he goes is to the Temple. He causes the sacrifices to cease, and the Jews recognize him as The Man of Sin when he enters the Holy of Holies and declares himself to be God (the abomination of desolation of Dan. 9:27; Mt. 24:15; Mk. 13:14; Lk. 21:20, and II Thes. 2:4). Notice what Jesus tells us next. When this is seen and understood, let them that are in Judea flee.” These are Jews whose eyes will have been opened by seeing the works of the Antichrist. The Spirit of God opens their understanding of the prophecies concerning Messiah dying, the Temple being destroyed, and a seven year peace treaty that is broken “in its midst” (Dan. 9:24-27). Thus begins three and a half years of running, hiding, and dying for those who now recognize that Jesus was their Messiah.
The persecution of the Jews is pictured, beginning in Revelation Chapter 12 by the pregnant woman (Israel - Isa. 54:1-10), who delivers a Son who will rule all nations with a rod of iron (Jesus Christ - Ps. 2:8-9; Rev. 19:15). Her Child is caught up into heaven unto God's throne. The woman flees into the wilderness and is sustained for one thousand two hundred and threescore days. Israel now has faith in Christ, and they can only overcome Satan by the Blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and by being willing to die for Him (Rev. 12:11). We also see they have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev. 12:17). Praise God!
For three and a half years, God pours out His wrath on mankind (wrath is also found in Rev. 6:16; 12:12; and 14:8 from Jesus, Satan, and Babylon). While the purpose of these events seems vengeful and inconsistent with our view of God, they are intended to produce repentance (Rev. 16:9-10).
Saturday, November 5, 2011
In Luke 21:24, we are told that the Jews will be taken captive and the city of Jerusalem would be “trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” However, in context, Luke 21:24 describes a period in which Israel has control of Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be surrounded by Gentile armies and those living there, Jews, should flee (Lk. 21:20-21). This occurs half way through the Tribulation, a seven year period in which Israel has the peace treaty with the leader of the armies (Dan. 9:27). For three and a half years, no one has attacked Israel. The Antichrist, with his Gentile armies, will occupy Jerusalem and hold it until the end of the seven years. Therefore, it is my belief that the end of the age is, in fact, the end of Daniel’s seventieth week, known as the Tribulation. When Christ returns, He will destroy the Antichrist's armies and cast him into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:11-21). Jerusalem will never again be “trodden down” by anyone!
The First Half of the Tribulation (Matt. 24:4-15; Rev. Ch. 6-11)
The Tribulation is described by the prophet Daniel as a time of trouble (Dan. 12:1), and Jeremiah indicated that the time was specifically for the Jews by calling it the "Time of Jacob’s Trouble" (Jer. 30:7). Jesus described the second half as the "Great Tribulation," saying it would be like no other time before or after (Mt. 24:21). So terrible will this period be, that if God did not limit its duration, no one would survive (Mt. 24:22).
Daniel’s prophecy said that seventy weeks (sevens) were determined upon Daniel’s people, and upon the holy city (Dan. 9:24). From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, until the Messiah was to be killed, would be sixty-nine weeks (sevens). The command was issued 483 years before Jesus Christ was crucified in Jerusalem. Since the first sixty-nine "sevens" were actually sixty-nine weeks of years, it is logical to interpret the last, or the seventieth week, as seven years.
Fortunately, knowing how His Word would be spiritualized and twisted, God made it quite clear in several places that He meant years. Daniel describes this period as being divided into to halves by stating that “in the midst of the week he (the prince that is to come) shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease…” (Dan. 9:27) So that there is no doubt concerning the length of time depicted in each half of the Tribulation, we have the following: 1,260 days (Rev. 12:6, 14); forty-two months (Rev. 11:2, 13:5); and “a time, times, and half a time” (Rev. 12:14). The latter is to be interpreted as “time” equaling one year, “times” equaling two years, and “a half time” equaling a half year. To interpret it otherwise would be to contradict what scripture says using days and months. Hence, God calls the Antichrist’s reign a short one (Rev. 12:12). Again, remember that it begins with a seven year peace treaty between the Antichrist and Israel (Dan. 9:27).
Friday, November 4, 2011
Before we address the signs of the end of the age, perhaps this would be a good time to discuss the age itself. Most dispensationalists describe the period in which we are living as the Church Age. And, in fact, that is an excellent name for it. But, the Church Age is a parenthetical period, in that, it does not appear in the prophecies of Israel. It is one of the many biblical mysteries, especially to the Jew.
A mystery in the Scriptures is a previously hidden truth which has been revealed to some, but not to everyone. Jesus tells His disciples that He speaks in parables so that some can know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but so others can not (Mk. 4:11). Speaking of Christ’s Atonement, Paul calls it a mystery hidden even before creation occurred (I Cor. 2:7-8). There is also the mystery of the end of the Church Age known as the Rapture (I Cor. 15:51; I Thes. 4:13-18). And, there is the mystery of the blindness of Israel, which hinders Jews from recognizing their Messiah (Rom. 11:25). So, when the disciples ask about the end of the age, they are speaking of the Dispensation of the Law, in which they were living.
Question 3: The Sign of the End of the Age
Another way of describing the period, or age prior to Christ’s second coming, is “the times of the Gentiles" (Lk. 21:24). Perhaps this is a better way of looking at the signs because the Church will not be here when the age ends. All, or at least partial control of Jerusalem by the Gentiles, will continue until the signing of the seven year peace treaty, giving Israel total control of their land for three and a half years. Then, the treaty will be broken by the abomination of desolation previously mentioned (Dan. 9:27). So, although the Church is predominately made up of Gentiles, it has nothing to do with control of Jerusalem.
The Church began on the day of Pentecost and will be here until the Rapture removes it. Israel, on the other hand, has been under the domination of Gentiles since the Babylonian captivity. The list of those controlling Jerusalem is long and varied, but every nation listed is a Gentile nation. Following Babylon were the Medes, the Persians, Greece, Rome, the Arabs and Christians during the crusades, the Mamluks and Ottoman Sultans, the British, and the Palestinians (who hold control of a small portion of Jerusalem even today). True, Israel took control of Jerusalem in the 1967 War, but the infamous Dome of the Rock, a Gentile religious landmark, still dominates the city skyline from every approach.
To be continued, Lord willing.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
WHO: Jesus is teaching Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mk. 13:3)
WHERE: On the Mount of Olives (Mt. 24:3; Mk. 13:3)
WHEN: Just prior to Jesus’ last Passover (Mt. 26:2; Mk. 14:1; Lk. 22:1)
WHAT: Jesus is responding to three questions from His four disciples (Mt. 24:3)
1. When will the temple be destroyed?
2. What will be the sign of Christ’s return?
3. What will be the sign of the end of the world?
The third question would be better translated “the end of the age.” The Greek word here is aion, which speaks of a time period, or a dispensation. Because the order of the second and third questions is not chronological, Jesus answers them in reverse order. The end of the age or dispensation takes place, and then Christ returns. Jesus does not answer the first question; Daniel already answered it (Dan. 9:24-27), and He had answered it in Matthew 23:36.
Question 1: When will the temple be destroyed?
According to Daniel 9:26, the temple would be destroyed after the Messiah was to be killed. It was destroyed in A.D. 70. However, another temple will be built because the abomination of desolation (Dan. 11:31,12:11; Matt. 24:15; Mk. 13:14) requires the Jews to be offering sacrifices when the Antichrist is revealed. This can also be clearly seen in II Thessalonians 2:4. The prophecy could not have been fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes two centuries before the appearing of Jesus Christ. The abomination committed by him was an example of some prophecies having more than one fulfillment. Christ coming two times is another: one to die for all mankind, and one to rule and reign over all mankind forever. Christ came as the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world, and He will return as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Jn. 1:26, 36; Rev. 5:5-6). Therefore, the temple the disciples were admiring is not the same temple in which the Antichrist commits the abomination of desolation.
Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will elaborate on the mystery of the Church Age.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
1. Let’s reform our theology. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is God and He is holy. He is not an “it.” He is not a blob, a force, or an innate power.
2. Let’s return to the Bible. The Word of God is the foundation for the Christian experience. Any dramatic experience, no matter how spiritual it seems, must be tested by the Word and the Holy Spirit’s discernment.
3. It’s time for personal responsibility. We must stop blaming everything on demons. People are usually the problem.
4. Stop playing games. Spiritual warfare is a reality, but we are not going to win the world to Jesus just by shouting at demonic principalities. We must pray, preach and persevere to see ultimate victory.
5. Stop the foolishness. People who are unruly during worship should be reminded that meekness and self-control are the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
6. End all spiritual extortion now. Christian ministries must cease and desist from all manipulative fundraising tactics.
7. No more Lone Rangers. Those who claim to be ministers of God—whether they are traveling evangelists, local pastors or heads of ministries—must be accountable to other leaders. Any who refuse to submit their lives to godly discipline should be corrected.
8. Expose the creeps. Churches should start doing background checks on traveling ministers. Preachers who have been hiding criminal records, lying about their past marriages, preying on women, or refusing to pay child support, should be exposed as charlatans and shunned if they do not repent.
9. Stop faking the anointing. God is God, and He does not need our “help” to manifest Himself.
10. Let’s return to purity. We’ve had enough scandals. The Church must develop a system for the restoration of fallen ministers. Those who fall morally can be restored, but they must be willing to submit to a process of healing rather than rushing immediately back into the pulpit.
11. We need humility. Ministers who demand celebrity treatment, require lavish salaries, insist on titles or exhibit aloofness from others are guilty of spiritual pride.
12. No more big shots. Apostles were the bond slaves of Christ, and were the most impeccable models of humility. They did not wield top-down, hierarchical authority over the church. They served the church from the bottom up as true servants.
13. Never promote gifts at the expense of character. The world needs to see His love, not us.
14. Hold the prophets accountable. Those who make inaccurate statements should not be given platforms.
15. Let’s make the main thing the main thing. The purpose of the Holy Spirit’s anointing is to empower us to reach others through evangelism, church planting, missions, discipleship, and compassionate ministry that helps the poor and fights injustice.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
The Last Adam, the Creator (1 Cor. 15:45; Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:1-2).
The First Adam "was made a living soul" (1 Cor.15:45).
The Last Adam "was made a quickening spirit" (1 Cor.15:45).
The First Adam "was a natural man of the earth" (1 Cor.15:46-47).
The Last Adam "was a Spiritual Man from heaven" (1 Cor.15:46-47).
The First Adam "was made in the image and likeness of God" (Gen. 1:26).
The Last Adam "was made in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:7).
The First Adam "is a picture of lost man" (Gen. 5:3; 1 Cor. 15:49).
The Last Adam "is a picture of what saved man will be (1 Cor. 15:49; 1 Jn. 3:2).
The First Adam "is a source of death" (1 Cor. 15:22).
The Last Adam "is THE source of life" (Jn. 14:6; 1 Cor.15:22).
The First Adam "represented the whole human race" (Rom. 5).
The Last Adam "represented the whole human race" (Rom. 5).
The First Adam "caused death by one act" (Gen. 3:6; Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21).
The Last Adam "made available live by one act" (1 Cor. 15:3; Jn. 1:11-12; 5:4; 20:31).
The First Adam "committed a sinful act" (Rom.5:12, 15, 16, 17, 18).
The Last Adam "committed a righteous act" (Rom. 5:18; 1 Jn. 2:1).
The First Adam "acted in disobedience" (Rom. 5:19).
The Last Adam "acted in obedience" (Rom. 5:19).
The First Adam produced:
DEATH ( Rom.5:12,14,15)
The Last Adam produced: