Sunday, March 5, 2017

Acknowledging Authority



Luke 20:1–8 (NKJV)
 Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?” But He answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me: The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men?” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know where it was from. And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Sometimes preaching makes people mad. 
"Your stepping on my toes, Preacher!" 
"Now your meddling!"
When I was a young man, my pastor said something that I never forgot. He said, that yes, sometimes people get mad about what the preacher preaches. But, if he's preaching the Word of God, then they don't really have a problem with the preacher. They have a problem with God.
Right? If the preacher is accurately and faithfully explaining the text. And its that accurate a faithful explanation that causes us to get upset, then the preacher is properly fulfilling his role as a mere "messenger." We are upset because of what the Bible said.

The Bible says many comforting and encouraging things. But it also says a lot that is convicting. It highlights the failings of the carnal mind. And shows us shortcomings in ourselves. In Christian circles, it might be faux pas to disagree with the Bible, but unless we've achieved perfection (and we haven't), the human, fleshly, unredeemed part of us is going to find plenty to disagree with.

The question is, are we going to acknowledge God's Authority?

If we disagree with the Bible in our personal beliefs, will we yield?
If we disagree with the Bible on our societal principles, will we humble ourselves to God's Word?
if we disagree politically with the Scripture, will we accept that we are wrong, and God is right?

 In the passage we find that the ultimate error among the chief priests, scribes, and elders was failure to acknowledge God's authority. They did not believe John a prophet, but were more concerned with people's opinions, and the threat of losing their own lives to say so. To acknowledge him as a prophet meant admitting to being wrong, something their pride would never allow. They were stuck, mired down in their arrogance. But the solution was actually simple. They needed to acknowledge the authority of God. He was literally standing before them. There was no answer Jesus could have given that would not have been subject to their own authority. The authority of their egos, ideas, and personal beliefs. So Jesus answered them not at all.

And neither will we find the answers we're looking for. Not from a preacher. Not from the Scripture. Not even from prayer. Until we are willing to set aside pride, prejudice, and the desire to be accepted by others and acknowledge the authority of God.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

These are not the answers you have been looking for...

I received a link to this article today by a Oneness Pentecostal named Lee Stoneking that claims to be "Answers you have been looking for" regarding why the church will not go through the Tribulation period. I wanted to point out a few issues with the arguments presented by the author. I should also point out the writer claims to have died and miraculously brought back to life.
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people – what people?  Who was the Lord addressing?  He was addressing Daniel who was a Jew.  Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people – the Jewish people.  This has nothing to do with the Gentile Church or the Bride of Christ.  The Church Will Not Go Through The Tribulation Period!
This sort of seems like a straw man. Does anyone argue this wasn’t referring to the Jewish people? How does this determine the presence of another group of people (the Gentile Church or Bride of Christ) being present on the earth? Does anyone think that only the Jewish people will be on earth during the Tribulation period?
Definition:
Herein when the word Tribulation is used it distinctly refers to the Great Tribulation, Day of the Lord, or the Great Day of the Lord as stated in the Scriptures.  It does not refer to daily trials and tribulations.
The writer equivocates the Great Tribulation, Day of the Lord, and Great Day of the Lord. Does the Bible say they are the same thing? Where?
The Bible teaches that the Anti-Christ will be the most powerful figure in the world; so powerful in fact that if you do not take his mark in your hand or forehead, you can neither buy nor sell.  He will literally control the whole world and that system and spirit is alive in the earth NOW!!!
However, the same Bible that teaches the Anti-Christ will be the most powerful figure in the earth, also teaches that “….greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.”  (1 John 4:4)  Herein is wisdom,  YOU CAN’T HAVE TWO ‘GREATERS’ HERE AT THE SAME TIME.  Of necessity one of them has to be gone;
Puzzling logic here. Isn’t God always greater than the Anti-Christ? Will God be “gone” after the rapture? "He that is in you, is God, right?" The church isn’t God, right?
The Anti-Christ cannot step on the world scene as long as the Church is here because the Church is GREATER in every way than the powers of the Anti-Christ.  We would totally destroy him by fasting and prayer… It is unbiblical to believe anything else.
How is it unbiblical? Isn’t it God who is greater? If the church can destroy the Anti-Christ with fasting and prayer, why not just do it? Is that biblical? Or why not go ahead and destroy Satan himself? Or is the not church greater than Satan? To assert that not believing something the Bible never says as "unbiblical" is absurd and ridiculous.
In view of the detailed insight within the book of Revelation and elsewhere concerning the Anti-Christ and his reign, there cannot be any ‘alive and remaining’ Acts 2:38 New Testament saints at the end of the Tribulation Period.  They would all be killed if they refused to take his mark in their hand or in their forehead.  And if they take his mark, they will be totally disqualified for the Rapture as the book of Revelation emphatically declares.  There is no exception to this!!!   The Rapture could not possibly come at the end of the Tribulation Period for:  where are the alive and remaining?
There will certainly be someone who is alive and remaining at the end of the Tribulation period. Jesus Himself said, “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” Will the Jews who are redeemed at the end of the Tribulation have the mark of the beast????
The Seven Annual Feasts of the Lord were celebrated in type and shadow forecasting the entire Church Age.
Is this so? Why should I accept this bold assertion? Is there Scripture that tells me the seven annual feasts are a "type and shadow" of the Church Age?
The Testimony of God and His Word for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture:
“….I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which will come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”  Rev 3:10
“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass,”  Lk 21:36  (Jesus would not give us a false hope of praying for something that was not going to come to pass for us!)
“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered (past tense) us from the wrath to come.”  1 Th 1:10
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1 Th 5:9
“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Ro 5:9  The Church Will Not Go Through The Tribulation Period.

Is Rev 3:10 speaking of the Tribulation period? Perhaps, if we suppose there was no actual application to the church he was writing to. Then does “keep thee from” require removal from the earth? The church in question had “kept” His Word… (same word for keep/kept) without removing it from the earth. Hasn't God "kept" His people before without removing them from the earth?

Presuming they are different events, is Luke 21 talking about the Rapture or the Second Coming? How can “you see Jerusalem surrounded by Armies” (v20) and how can “you see these things happening” (v31) if those whom He is talking to are Raptured seven years prior?

The writer’s application of 1 Th 1:10, 5:9, Rom  5:9 presumes that the Tribulation period is the Wrath of God. What is the basis for this equivocation?  In the Revelation, its is only after the 6th seal that the men of the earth begin to claim, "the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" (Rev 6:17). And by the 24 elders after the 7th trumpet, "The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, ​​And the time of the dead, that they should be judged" (Rev 11:18)

Basically Stoneking offers more of the same. He equivocates the Tribulation period to the Day of the Lord, and to the Wrath of God. He asserts what seems to be a completely invented typical link between the Hebrew feasts as representative of the Church age (though, I'm rather sure its not original with him). It seems modern prophesy gurus' infatuation with Jewish feast days know no bounds. He seems to misinterpret the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and His Greatness as meaning the church's greatness. He basically calls out anyone who disagrees with him as "unbiblical" and "unrighteous".



Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Must Anything Happen Before The Return of Christ?


Is the Return of Christ imminent? The imminent Return of Christ would mean that there is nothing that must happen before Christ's return. No events. No signs. No fulfillment of prophesy. Jesus' return could happen at any moment.

The immediate application of this uncertainty is in a desire to be ready. Since they can't know when the Lord is returning, His people must always be ready for His return. That certainly doesn't seem like a bad idea.

The question, like all questions concerning Jesus' return should be addressed Biblically. Does the Bible say that anything must happen before Jesus returns?

He Is Coming Quickly!


Revelation 3:11 (NKJV)
11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.

Revelation 22:6–7 (NKJV)
6 Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true.” And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place. 7 “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
Twice in the book of Revelation, Jesus Himself says the he is coming "quickly." The Greek Word used in both cases is ταχύ. Strongs defines the word this way:
5035.  ταχύ tachu, takh-oo´; neut. sing. of 5036 (as adv.); shortly, i.e. without delay, soon, or (by surprise) suddenly, or (by impl. of ease) readily:—lightly, quickly. 
 One of the meanings is "without delay" which would basically mean "imminently".  Another meaning is "soon". Which one better fits with the text? In chapter 3, Jesus is speaking to the church at Philadelphia regarding their perseverance. Whether Jesus' is coming "soon" or "without delay" would offer similar comfort. In chapter 22, the previous sentence speaks of things "which must shortly take place." The context here seems to be more about the nearness of the event.

Because soon and without delay are so similar in meaning it is difficult to arrive at a conclusion. Not only that, but it could also refer to the "suddenness" of His coming. Jesus described His coming like lightening.

Matthew 24:27 (NKJV)
27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

If His Coming IS Imminent, When Did Imminence Begin?

At Jesus' ascension, the disciples are clearly told that the times and season's of Jesus' return was none of their concern.
Acts 1:7 (NKJV)
7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.
But, were they expecting Jesus to return at any moment? Probably not. Remember what Jesus told Peter after the resurrection.

John 21:18–19 (NKJV)
18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”
Jesus prophesied Peter's death. If Jesus were to return before Peter died, these words could not have come to pass. Clearly Peter knew that the Lord wasn't going to return in his lifetime. He would die. John offers the explanatory comment and records it in the gospel that bears his name, meaning that he and everyone who read it knew that Jesus' return would be delayed at least until Peter's death.

What Are They Watching For?


1 Thessalonians 5:1–10 (NKJV)
1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
Paul writes to the Thessalonians saying they have a complete understanding regarding the "times and seasons" of the Day of the Lord. In particular, they know that it comes as a thief in the night. That is it can't be predicted or scheduled. No one knows the day. That day will come and bring destruction on "them". He differentiates "you" and "them". Its "them", someone other than the church at Thessalonica who will be destroyed. In fact, though the day comes as a thief it in the night, Paul didn't expect the church to be surprised by it. Because they were sons of light. They were awake and not sleeping. They were sober and not drunk.

What happens in the night? Often times people don't know, because its just too dark out. What happens when someone is sleeping? They don't know. They were asleep! What happens when someone is drunk? Oftentimes they can't tell you. Night, sleep, and drunkenness all hide what is happening to the the observer. So things can sneak up on them and catch them off guard. But not the saints at Thessalonica. They were children of the day! They were children of light. They were awake and sober! These things that would catch others unawares, they would see coming.

How Can You Know It Hasn’t Already Happened?


2 Thessalonians 2:1–12 (NKJV)
1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Times get bad. Things were really bad for the church at Thessalonica. So bad, that when someone apparently wrote them and told them that the Day of the Lord had already come, some of them apparently believed it!

Of course this troubled them. But they could be sure that Day had not come, because certain things must happen first. Paul names two things: The falling away. And the revelation of the Man of Sin.

Interestingly, Jesus described both of these things as well.


Matthew 24:10–12 (NKJV)
10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.

Matthew 24:15 (NKJV)
15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),
Is Christ's return imminent or must certain things happen before Jesus will return? Peter should not have expected His return in his lifetime. Paul seems to tell the Thessalonians they wouldn't be caught off guard because of what they would see coming, then specifically says they could know the Day hasn't come because the apostasy had not yet happened and they Man of Sin had not been revealed. So, what about believers today? Should they be watching for these things to happen before Jesus' return?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What Is The Day of the Lord?




The Day of the Lord is a phrase used throughout the Bible to describe the moment when God exercises His Divine justice to a people. One of the great interpretive challenges is understanding whether the Old Testament references to the Day of the Lord were fulfilled in the same time period, or if they reference a still future event, or if some elements of the prophesy were fulfilled in close proximity to the writers' times, but other elements still remain future.

This problem arises often when dealing with prophesy and will not be solved in this blog post. And while some "Day of the Lord" passages may have been fulfilled temporally, others remain without any indication that the things prophesied have ever taken place. Consider the passages below:

Isaiah 2:10-20, 13:1-22
Jeremiah 46:1-12
Joel 2:1-27
Zephaniah 1

Several key ideas can be arrived at. The Day of the Lord is about God's:

  • anger
  • vengeance
  • wrath
  • glory
  • exaltation


There are elements in these passages that don't seem to have happened yet. Such as:

Isaiah 13:11 (NKJV)
11 “I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
Has the world been punished yet?


Isaiah 13:10 (NKJV)
10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine.
Did these cosmic signs occur, or is this a reference to still future cosmic signs talked about elsewhere in Scripture?

But Joel makes a reference to "the great and awesome Day of the Lord". Probably the best understanding is to consider that while the Day of the Lord passages may have had an immediate and local fulfillment in some sense, they all foreshadowed a coming final Great and Awesome Day of the Lord.


Joel 2:28–32 (NKJV)
28 “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. 29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. 30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 32 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.
What is significant about this passage is that Peter quoted it in his Sermon on Pentecost.

Acts 2:14–21 (NKJV)
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’
Clearly Peter describes fulfillment of the Spirit being poured out and sons and daughter's prophesying, but what about the rest. It was still future. And it is still future.

This passage also references signs in the heavens. The sun is dark. The moon is blood. These things precede the "Great and Awesome Day of the Lord." Jesus names very similar signs that precede the great and awesome day of His return.


Matthew 24:29–30 (NKJV)
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
If these are the same signs, then we can consider the Day of the Lord and the Return of Christ as coinciding events. What happens on the Day of the Lord? Christ returns!

Peter describes the Day of the Lord as coming like a "thief" in the night, and goes on to describe the destruction of the heavens, the earth, and all the works in it.

2 Peter 3:10–13 (NKJV)
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Paul describes the Day of the Lord the same way.


1 Thessalonians 5:1–10 (NKJV)
1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
Jesus was the first to use the thief coming in the night to illustrate His coming.


Matthew 24:42–44 (NKJV)
42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
And most likely the "Son of Man...coming" in this verse is the same as the "Son of Man coming" that Jesus was talking about twelve verses earlier:


Matthew 24:30b (NKJV)
30 ...and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
The Day of the Lord is terror for God's enemies. But for those who belong to Him, it is deliverance. It is glory. It is rest.


2 Thessalonians 1:4–10 (NKJV)
4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.
The Thessalonians were to be looking forward to that Day. The day their troubles would come to an end, and God would take vengeance for them. In this passage, both events seem to occur at the same time. "...when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His might angels." Jesus is accompanied by an army, taking vengeance, punishing with eternal destruction. In That Day. Is this day, the Great and Awesome Day of the Lord?




What is the Sign of His Coming and of the End of the Age?



There are many things about the end times that the Bible does not speak of, or maybe only alludes to. But how to know when the Return of Christ is near is not one of them. Jesus describes the events leading up to His return in some detail. It would seem reasonable to use Jesus' description as the basis for everything we believe about the Second Coming. Further detail should fit within the structure He lays out. Consider these passages from chapter 24 of Matthew.


The Question

Matthew 24:3 (NKJV)3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
The disciples where marveling the magnificence of the Temple when Jesus declared that every stone of it would be thrown down. They take his statement both literally and seriously and ask very naturally, when? But they don't ask for dates or times. They ask for the signs, that will reveal that Jesus is coming back, and the end of the age is here.


Labor Pains

Matthew 24:4–8 (NKJV)4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

He begins by warning the disciples against deception. Of course, every few years someone comes along and convinces a bunch of people he is a messiah, and convinces them to drink poison or some other awful thing. Knowing the Word of God is a fool proof protection from these things.

Then he talks about war, famine, disease, natural disasters, which are again, all too common. But these things do not indicate the end is here. In fact, such things are indicators that it is not yet the end. 

Jesus describes them as "the beginning of sorrows", the start of labor pains. The beginning of labor pains does not mean that the baby will be born immediately, but its a sure sign that the baby is coming! Even so, when people today see wars and disease and disaster, it doesn't mean that its the end of the world, but it should serve as a reminder that the end of the world is coming.


Tribulation

Matthew 24:9–14 (NKJV)
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Then Jesus describes a time of tribulation. There are some things to take note of here. The first, lends itself to a discussion of who Jesus is addressing in this passage, the disciples as the church, or the disciples as Jews? That question will become weightier later on. But here He is telling them they will be troubled and killed and hated by all people for His name's sake. Because of Jesus' name they will be hated. The book of Mark even says they will be beaten in the synagogue indicating that the Jews are responsible for at least some of the persecution.

This will give way to a lot of people stumbling in their faith, betraying each other, hating each other, falling under the teachings of false prophets, and stopping loving others. It is here that Jesus promises deliverance to those who endure "to the end". Of course, "the end" is exactly what the disciples were asking about, so Jesus' reference to "the end" is directed exactly to the point. He then says that this gospel will be preached to all peoples, and then "the end" will come.

The Sign

Matthew 24:15 (NKJV)
15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),
All of the signs Jesus has named so far are only signs in their degree. Persecution, false prophets, lawlessness, and lack of love have existed in all ages, but it is the increase of these things that make them signs.

The first concrete "sign" is the revelation of the man called the Antichrist. Jesus refers to Daniel's prophesy of one who would "confirm a covenant with many for one week" and in the middle of the week "bring an end to sacrifice and offering". This can be identified with the "man of sin" from 2 Thessalonians 2:4 - "who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."

Jesus is saying to them, keep your eyes open for this! This is what Jesus told his disciples when they asked when they asked when and what the signs are of the destruction of Jerusalem, His coming, and the end of the world. 

Great Tribulation


Matthew 24:16–26 (NKJV)
16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.
26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.
And it is the revelation of the abomination of desolation that brings on the Great Tribulation. This period is worse time that has ever existed on earth. It is so bad that if it were to continue, it would kill everyone. But it won't go on. The days are cut short for the elect. There are a few Old Testament passages in which Israel is described as "the elect." In the New Testament, the title is used almost exclusively of believers.

What group is in reference here? Perhaps a clue can be found in the later statement that the works of false christs and false prophets will be so great that they might "deceive, if possible, even the elect." To be deceived, means to be made to believe a lie. Israel, as a nation, has been deceived since Jesus spoke these words. Its not only possible, its an observable reality. But Jesus is referring to a group that are not deceived, and ought not be deceived. Given the New Testament's consistent use of the elect, and Jesus' statement indication an undeceived status, the elect here fits as being believers.

His Coming


Matthew 24:27–31 (NKJV)
27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
It is after this Great Tribulation that signs occur with regard to the Sun, Moon, and stars, and Jesus appears, returning in the clouds. He gathers his elect, which given the close context should mean the same thing it meant when he spoke of the days being shortened and the persuasiveness of the false prophets.


Understanding The Signs

Matthew 24:32–35 (NKJV)
32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
Jesus has answered their question in rather plain terms. "when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

There will be deceptive teachings, false messiahs, war, disease, famine, natural disaster. These do not indicate the end is present, but that it is coming.

Then the days of trouble will come in which believers are persecuted. Many will stumble in the faith. Believers will betray each other. They will hate each other. They will abandon lawful behavior and love will become a rare thing. Of course, the very mark of Jesus' disciples is that they love each other.

Then the Anti-Christ is revealed, giving a hard and fast fixed event that is not a matter of degree, but a single happening. This marks the beginning of the worse period of time ever on earth.

Then the Lord comes. He comes in power and glory, and rescues those who are His.

How were the disciples supposed to interpret these signs. That is what Jesus tells them next. They were to use them as indicators, but not as calendars. Just as a budding fig tree indicates that summer is near, without specifying exactly when it will arrive, so these signs tell when these things are near, without telling exactly when.



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Who Is Building Your House?

Some thoughts on Father's Day...

Psalm 127:1–5 (NKJV)
1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.  
  • Your house/dynasty will not be defined by your labor, but by God's.
  • Any perceived gains are only gains so long as the Lord protects them.
  • Hard work and diligence are not the most important thing. Trusting in God, allows us opportunity to relax.
  • God's greatest earthly gift to us is our children.
  • Children are weapons. Be careful where you aim them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

How Many Resurrections Are There?

What Does The Bible Say?


The promise of Jesus' coming is a great blessing to believers who are living on that day. But what about the dead? One might live one hundred years, and die the day before the Lord comes, and miss that blessing. But those believers who have died aren't left out in the cold. The Lord promises them a blessing all their own. Resurrection!

The resurrection is plainly is described as necessarily preceding the catching up (rapture) of the saints in Paul's first letter to the church at Thessalonica.


1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (NKJV)
13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.  

In this passage we're told of a single resurrection. Paul's purpose here was to remind this church that those who they had lost in death were in a way would not be short changed in the least at Jesus' coming. In fact, they take precedence over living saints in order of rapture. While the passage defines order, it doesn't speak directly to when on the larger scale.

However among the Jews, those who had not been led astray by the Sadducees, there was indeed believe in a coming resurrection. And they did have an idea when it would occur. They expected it on the last day. Consider Jesus' conversation with Martha concerning the resurrection.


John 11:20–24 (NKJV)

20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  

Martha only seems concerned with a single resurrection. And she is confident that Lazarus will rise on the last day. Why did she thing that? Likely because the books of Isaiah and Daniel both prophesied of a time of great stress on God's people to be consummated with the resurrection of the dead.


Isaiah 26:16–19 (NKJV)
16 Lordin trouble they have visited You,
They poured out a prayer when Your chastening was upon them.
17 As a woman with child
Is in pain and cries out in her pangs,
When she draws near the time of her delivery,
So have we been in Your sight, O Lord.
18 We have been with child, we have been in pain;
We have, as it were, brought forth wind;
We have not accomplished any deliverance in the earth,
Nor have the inhabitants of the world fallen.
19 Your dead shall live;
Together with my dead body they shall arise.
Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust;
For your dew is like the dew of herbs,

And the earth shall cast out the dead.  


Daniel 12:1–3 (NKJV)
1 “At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book.
2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
3 Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness

Like the stars forever and ever.  


So, Isaiah and Daniel both describe a time of trouble, both using language of Jesus' discourse in Matthew 24 in referencing birth pangs and a time of trouble like has never been before. What follows in Isaiah is the Lord coming "...out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity" followed by the restoration of Israel. Daniel is actually given some time frames.


Daniel 12:12–13 (NKJV)

12 Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.

13 “But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.  

Both Isaiah and Daniel were expecting to be resurrected at the end of this period right before the Lord came to fight for them. For them, it was the last day. So its quite understandable why when the Jews spoke of the resurrection, they looked to the last day. Jesus didn't correct Martha's understanding of the resurrection coming on the last day. In fact, he reaffirmed it.

John 6:38–40 (NKJV)


38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”  


Jesus teaches that those who believe in Him will be raised the last day. Same author. Same book. Five chapters apart. We can't get into Martha's head, but she likely expected her brother's resurrection to be at the same time as Isaiah's and Daniel's. And by the consistent use of the phrase, we can probably conclude that whatever Martha meant by the last day is what Jesus meant by the last day.

Jesus' teaching on resurrection also expands on what Daniel had said about two resurrections, one to everlasting life, and the other to shame and everlasting contempt.


John 5:28–29 (NKJV)


28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.  


Luke 14:14 (NKJV)


14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”  

At this point, there really hasn't been put any sort of time gap between these two resurrections. If these were the only passages to study, one might easily conclude a single "general resurrection",  whose outcome was different for different people. But it has been divided into two ideas. A resurrection to life and a resurrection to condemnation.

Paul speaks of the resurrection this way and gives this sequence: Christ's resurrection, those who belong to Jesus' resurrection, the Kingdom which he identifies with the end. What do you call the day of the end? The last day?


1 Corinthians 15:22–24 (NKJV)

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.  

We find the greatest clarity of these two resurrections being separated in time in the book of Revelation.


Revelation 20:4–6 (NKJV)

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 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.  

If one accepts these words literally, then the gap of time between resurrections becomes clear. These souls, who at least some of which had gone through the tribulation, live! And everyone else, the rest of the dead, won't be resurrected for a thousand years.  Then John says, this is the first resurrection. Are there any resurrections before the first resurrection?

Which brings the beginning passage back into view. The rapture is no doubt described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, since the catching up there is the very source of its usage in English. But the catching up can not happen, except something else happen first. Resurrection. Does the resurrection described here happen before the first resurrection of Revelation 20? How many resurrections does the Bible speak of? A resurrection unto life and one unto condemnation would be two resurrections. Is the resurrection in Revelation 20 a latter phase of a previous, truly first resurrection? How many phases are there?

Its something to think about. What does the Bible say? How many resurrections are there?