Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

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In this blog post I attempt to discuss the different views people have regarding the Rapture.  What is the Rapture?  The word “Rapture” is a Latin word for the words “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.  The concept is that the Lord will return for believers (John 14:3 and Acts 1:9-11).  1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 says that those who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…”  The context of this concept from chapter 4 is found in 1:10 which says, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”  Some things stand out, like the promise of the Lord’s return.  Also there is a wrath that is coming.  This word “wrath” is not defined for us until 5:9, which says “For did not appoint us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The context of the word “wrath” here is found in the preceding verses.  5:4 says, “But you brethern are not in darkness so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.”  The word “Day” is referring to the concept of the Day of the Lord (5:2).  The Day of the Lord is an OT concept, that has two phases 1. God’s judgment against sinful people 2. God’s eternal reign over His people (Joel 2:28-32; Isaiah 13:9-11; Zephaniah 1:14-18; 3:14-15).  The book of Joel as a whole is an exposition of the Day of the Lord.  On a side note, it is important to understand that the word “Day” is not meaning an actual 24 hour period, but rather a span of time.  In this 1 Thessalonians book, Paul uses the phrase Day of the Lord to refer to Christ’s return and coming Judgment.

The college and seminary I went to did me a favor in the way I was to approach the bible.  They taught me not a systematic theology (although I took all the courses on that), but to be a bible expositor.  What does that mean?  It means to read the bible and look at key factors before I interpret like 1. the Grammar 2. Language (Greek or Hebrew) 3. the audience 4. the style 5. Historical.  Why is this important?  Many today feel the need to read the bible through their systematic theology rather than allowing the bible to speak for itself.  This is extremely easy to do.  For example, many of a Reformed Church background like to substitute the church for Israel in scripture.  Therefore, the promises of God to Israel are now meant for believers.  Israel rejected Christ therefore, the promises transfer to the church.  The problem with this way of looking at scripture is that the context twisted.  It can lead a person down a slippery slope.  In my opinion, legalism usually follows close behind.

What does this have to do with the Rapture?  The audience and context is highly important when one reads the bible, especially concerning prophecy.  The Rapture is a biblical concept that means to be caught up to meet Jesus in the air.  My next blog will be about the different views on when the Rapture will take place.

 

 

The Real Gospel

Posted: May 23, 2014 in bible, christianity, faith, truth
Tags: ,

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The word Gospel means Good News.  It is the good news about Jesus.  I recently went to a conference and an old truth hit home to me.  The question was what sends people to Hell?  If you walk into any Christian bookstore you will notice a wall of the latest and greatest books.  Books that deal with many different topics about the bible and the Christian life.  A few of these books I have read over the years and found myself in serious disagreement with the author, like Francis Chan, John McArthur, and RC Sproul.

Theology is a system, which helps us look at God through the Bible.  The word “theology,” is the study of God.  Many different denominations and churches have different theologies.  Therefore, if your Theology is off then it will affect the way you read the bible.  The beautiful of the bible is that anyone can read it and understand it.  However, there are passages in the bible that can be difficult to understand, especially if we do not know the background, literary devices the writer is using, and culture significance.  This is the main problem with Evangelical Christianity today.  There has been a major influx of Reformed Theology that is influencing Christians today through the local Christian bookstore.  People see a popular author and pull out the book and lead to a works based system.  I read the book “Crazy Love,” and my thought was that Francis Chan was the one who was crazy.  As a pastor I can say that it is always a temptation to make the bible say what I want it to say.  However, I have a responsibility from God to rightly divide the word of truth.  As much as I do not want to spend time in my Greek, I make the sacrifice in order to lead the sheep correctly.  The God that Francis Chan serves is not the God that I know or serve.  The God I serve has a plan of salvation that is through faith ALONE in Jesus Christ (John 3:16 and 6:47).

What sends people to Hell?  It has nothing to do with sin.  Jesus already died for the sins of the world ) 1 John 2:1-2; John 3:16).  He died for ALL who have ever lived, currently living, and will live.  People die and go to Hell because they do not have life.  Life is only found in the Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:6).  It is after all the book of Life that will be opened and Revelation tells us that if people’s name are not found in it then they will go into the Lake of Fire (20:15).  God has removed the Sin problem of the world through His Son’s death and resurrection.  People only need to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life and they will be saved.  It is really that simple.

This blog post is not about bashing certain Christian authors, whom I disagree with.  However, it is about rightly dividing the truth and being discerning of the truth.  You might read this and disagree with everything I have written, which is totally fine.  Jesus paid it all so I do not have too.

It

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When I saw on the news Monday (February 10th) that Iran warships were coming close to the US coast I thought, “Is April Fool’s Day happening sooner this year?”  Fox News reported on their website that Iran is doing this because the US has deployed ships close to their borders.  This is a puzzling development.  Iran is obviously attempting to take a stand against the US.  The US appears reluctant to start a war.  Could this be the beginnings of a new cold war?  That is one possibility.

While the world pursues peace, there will always be a stumbling block for it until the Antichrist strikes a deal with Israel and the Muslim community in the Middle East.  What does this mean for people living today?  The time is now to put your faith in the one true God.  Things are only going to escalate more and more and more in the coming years.  The peace the world desperately wants will never be until the Lord returns (John 14:3).  The bible tells us that God sent His Son to the world to die for our sins and the sins of this whole world and all that is asked is not for us to join a church or give money or be a good person.  All that is asked for you to believe in Jesus for eternal (John 3:16 and 1 John 2:1,2).  You do not need to pray a prayer or become a Christian in order to believe in Jesus.  All you need to do is believe in Him (John 6:57).

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A article in the Austin Statesman by New York Times writer Jim Yardley entitled “Pope urges World Peace reaches out to other faiths,” ran this past Thursday.  The pope in his first Christmas address urged the world to come together for peace.  He went on to say, “True peace is not a balance of opposing forces.  It is not a lovely facade which conceals conflicts and divisions.  Peace calls for daily commitment.”

Peace is a good thing.  I think any one reading this blog post including this writer would agree with that.  However, the bible claims that there will be no such thing as peace especially in these last days.  The Pope is welcomed to urge the world all he wants however, God has already spoken (Matthew 24:6,7).  The conflict in the Middle East is only the tip of the ice berg of what is to come in the Tribulation.

Matthew says there will wars and rumors of rumors of wars and that nation will rise up against nation.  These says are Jewish idioms for world wars.   There have already been two and there is still a yet third world war that is lurking on the horizon.  The third world war or possibly fourth by the end of the Tribulation will be when the Beast brings the armies of the world against Israel.  The Lord Jesus ends the war with His return (Revelation 19:11-21).

The perspective in which I write is a Pre-Tribulational view of Bible Prophecy.  This means I believe the Lord will return for believers before the Tribulation begins (Daniel 9:27, John 14:3, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 5:2-3).  Therefore, when I read that the Pope is urging the world for peace I think “That’s great, but it will not be a lasting peace.”  1 Thessalonians 5:3 says, “Peace and safety then sudden destruction comes upon them as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.  And they shall not escape.”  The is saying that the world will achieve some sort of peace (which I believe will happen when the Antichrist or Beast finally gets a covenant signed with Israel and their foes) this peace will not last because the signing of the covenant will signal the start of Tribulation.

All this talk of peace should be taken as a sign that the Lord’s return is coming soon.  Believers should be looking up (1 John 2:28).

I have not written this blog post in an attempt to scare any one.  The purpose of Prophecy for Today is to prepare saints for the Lord’s return and His future Kingdom.  I take a conservative approach to bible prophecy interpretation in order to ensure and allow the word to speak.  Thank you for stopping by.  God Bless.

 

Recently someone that has been following this blog proposed this question to me.  What happens when a child or teenager dies?  The reason for the question is because the youth may not know Jesus as their savior.   Therefore, what happens to them?  Do they go to a Christless eternity?  The Bible is silent for the most part on this subject, however, there are a couple of passages and examples that might shed some light where a youth would go.

It was almost two years go when a student in my youth group came into my office before youth group to talk, because his friend who was 17 at the time (roughly) had committed suicide.   I remember talking to this young man and counseling him.  After a few minutes he asked the obvious question, Is my friend in heaven or Hell?  I understood the background of the boy, who committed suicide, and knew that he did not know Jesus as his savior.  It was a difficult question to answer.

Before I go on and answer the question let me write that, how you view or answer this question is largely dependent upon your theological view.  I understand from Catholic friends that someone who commits suicide does not go to heaven.  I know some people, who believe in Lordship salvation that they have a hard time explaining a child getting saved or where a child goes when they die.  (By the way: Lordship salvation is the belief that you must make Jesus your Lord before you can get saved.  Meaning you must be willing to get rid of things in your life before you can accept Christ’s gift of Salvation.  The author of this blog does not believe this to be true.)  The person, who asked me about child salvation, hinted that this could be the reason for infant baptism.  I will confess I do not know much about infant baptism.  However, I do offer an alternate view about child or youth salvation for your consideration.

Many years ago I worked at Coast Bible Church in California.  I worked under a pastor, who knew his bible extremely well and was a pastor’s pastor.  I can remember speaking with him about this subject and question.  He offered me a solution or a theory, which I believe to be true.  Again it all depends on how you view God.

2 Samuel 12:22-23 is the only passage that directly deals with the issue of children going to heaven when they die.  David’s son dies as a result of his sin.  David had mourned his son’s sickness and was broken up about it.  After his son dies, David gets up and cleans himself and goes and eats.  His servants are shocked by his behavior.  They ask him about it and why he is now all of a sudden calm and seemingly done mourning.  Here is David’s response in verse 23, “But now he is dead; why should I fast?  Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”  The last phrase is the key.  This is the passage that many pastors and lay leaders call the “age of accountability” passage.  David knew that one day he would see his son again.  His confidence was in God.  He could not mourn his son’s death knowing he would be with him again.  The passage does not directly answer the question, however, I do believe it is implied, that the child is in heaven.

The other passage is a story about the Israelites entering the Promised Land.  They had left Egypt and were journeying to the land that God had promised them.  The Israelites sent about 40 spies out to see the land God had given them.  They returned with reports, which had caused the people to disbelieve that God had given them the land.  Only two spies returned with good reports, they were Joshua and Caleb.  The other spies caused the camp to distrust God.  God punished them.  Their punishment was that they would not be able to enter the Promised Land.  They had to wander the desert for 40 years.  The generation that disbelieved in God died off.  However, God would made it so that Joshua and Caleb were healthy enough to enter in.  Here is the interesting part, did the Israelites during that 40 years continue to have children? Or did they have children when they sinned?  The answer to both is yes.  While the Promised Land was not heaven, it was their inheritance.  However, they had to work and claim their inheritance.  For the NT believer, our inheritance is the Kingdom of God.  While salvation is a free gift the more I work and serve the Lord the better my inheritance will be.  I write all that to say the younger generation the children and teenagers entered the Promised Land.  Why or How?  By God’s grace.

What is the “age of accountability”?  I have heard pastors say it was 12 years old.  Or it is when a child can determine right from wrong.  Both these seem like good answers, however, neither is the based upon what the bible says.  I recognize that my theory equally does not have a direct scripture quote.  However, it stands to reason based upon how God dealt with the generation that entered the Promised Land (the children) that if a child dies or teen then they would go to heaven. I believe in a just God and in my opinion (which this is) this view makes sense.  I do not believe in infant baptism or in a hard line “age of accountability.”

A teenager’s brain is not fully developed until they are in their early twenties (roughly).  Therefore, I would ask the question why would a teenager go to Hell?  Their brain is not fully developed.  They are considered a child by our culture and in Jesus’ time would be considered that.  If God permitted the children to enter in the Promised Land then why would He not do the same here.

There is no passage that directly deals with this question, but I believe we can make some conclusions based upon these two examples.  Lastly the question about suicide, I would simply write that there is nothing in my bible that tells me a person who commits suicide goes to Hell.  I would argue that if it is a youth then they are in Heaven.  If it is an adult then I would need to know if they knew Jesus.  If they were saved then without a doubt they are in Heaven despite their sin.  The only sin, which keeps people out of heaven is the sin of unbelief.  Now the person who commits suicide and goes to heaven will have to give an account for why they did what they did, but God is gracious and just.

I hope this helps and maybe answers some questions.

He had to speak to him.  He had questions, questions that he or any other person he knew could answer.  Therefore, he waited.  He waited until it was dark enough so no one would notice him.  He was afraid that if caught it could mean he would lose his powerful position in Jerusalem.  He ducked in alleys and peaked around corners as he made his way closer and closer to where Jesus was that night.  It was upon arriving and seeing Jesus that deep down he knew he had made the right decision to visit him.

Jesus told Nicodemus not to marvel that you must be born again in order to see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus was perplexed by Jesus’ statement.  The reason he did not totally understand it was because in Pharisaic Judaism there were six different ways of being born again.  In Nicodemus’ eyes he had qualified for four of them.  The other two ways were: 1. Gentiles converting to Judaism (said they were born again), 2. To be crowned a king (would be said you were born again).   Nicodemus did not qualify for either way.

However, the first four he did.  Those ways are: 1. When a Jewish boy becomes bar mitzvahed (this had of course already happened for Nicodemus), 2. When a Jew gets married (He was already married as well, you had to be in order to be apart of the Sanhedrin), 3.  Ordained as a rabbi (He already was a rabbi, because he was a Pharisee), 4.  To become head of a rabbinical school (Jesus said that Nicodemus was a teacher of Israel, the head of a rabbinical school was referred to in this way).  In his eyes he had done everything he could have done to be born again.  Jesus responds to his disbelief with you must be born of water and spirit.  To be born of water was a Jewish expression of physically being born.  This is why he asks Jesus about going into his mother’s womb again.  Being born physically into Judaism was sufficient at that time for entrance into the Kingdom.  Much like Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount,”  he was trying to correct Nicodemus’ theology here.  It wasn’t good enough to be born a Jew.  One has to believe in Jesus for eternal life (John 3:13-15).

More than any other book in the bible, the Gospel of John deals directly with the issue of what it takes to go to heaven.   John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”  Receiving Jesus is the same as believing in Him.  To go to heaven one must only believe in Jesus (John 6:47, Acts 16:30-31).  It is really that simple.

Today is the first game of the year for my freshman football team.  They are all excited and pumped I’m sure.  This will be my fifth year coaching football, and I have enjoyed it thoroughly.  However, I have seen a pattern in players over my five years that I believe is very important as it relates to the Judgment Seat of Christ.  What is that pattern?  Well first let’s look at what the Judgment Seat of Christ is.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 give us good information on what it is.  The main point in both passages is that believers will have to give an account for the way they have lived their lives.  Essentially our works will be judged not our salvation.  This is important to remember especially when it comes to salvation.  It can be easy to front-load a Gospel presentation to a person, but that it is not our works or our willingness to give up that saves us.  It is believing in the Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again that saves us.  If I personally relied on my good works then I would be not be going to heaven.   I could never really be good enough.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is a judgment for believers that is separate from The Great White Throne Judgment.  While the scripture is silent on exactly when the Judgement Seat will take place, it is assumed that it could take place sometime before the Millennial Kingdom that Christ will set up.  I write that because believers have the opportunity to rule and reign with Christ during this 1,000 year reign on earth.  That opportunity is based on the way we lived for Him (Matthew 25:14-30; Revelation 2:26,27; 3:21).

Judgment Seat of Christ or The Bema Seat as it is often referred to, is actually not a time to be afraid, but a time to rejoice.  All the times people stood up for the Lord or made a sacrifice for Him, He will reward that (Hebrews 11:6).  However, those who didn’t use their time, talents, or money for the Lord will have much regret.  The Judgment Seat is about God holding us accountable for the way we lived our lives.

Football is just a game.  However, you receive what you put into it.  If you try and make the effort then you will receive playing time.  If you do not care and miss practices then the coach keeps you on the sidelines.  Every year I have students who give little to no effort and they stay on the sidelines.  Through hard work and determination others see the field and rewarded for it at the end of the year with an award.  The same can be said of the Christian life.  The question now is what will you do with the time, talent, and money that God has given you?  Hopefully you will use it to glorify the Lord.  In turn you will be rewarded for it.  It is not about today but the eternal.

1 Thessalonians 5:3 says, “While people are saying. “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman and they will not escape.”   This verse follows the famous the Lord shall come as a thief in the night verse.  What this means is that sometime before or even after the Rapture there will be a time of Peace and Security that the world will proclaim.  Keep in mind that the Tribulation will not begin until the covenant with Israel and the Antichrist or The Beast (whichever name you prefer) is signed (Daniel 9:27).  

Therefore, here are a couple of scenarios of what could happen.  1.  The Rapture before Peace and Security Theory:  What would happen is that the Lord would take up His church and then the rest of the world would be in utter chaos.  The world would look to the religions of the world for comfort in this time frame and the world would rally around these false religions that would become one.  This one religious mega church would be the Harlot of Revelation 17.  The world after surviving the chaos and disorder after the Rapture would enter into a time (who knows how long, could be years, months, even decades) of Peace and Security.  Then once the covenant was signed the Tribulation would begin.  

Theory 2 would be that the world is entering or heading to a time of Peace and Security right now or at least the world is working towards that end.  Then the church will lulled to sleep and then the Rapture happens and then the covenant is signed and then the Tribulation begins.  I think both theories on when this could take place are viable.  The church at this time of the Rapture would be like the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3.  

This false sense of Peace and Security is to counterfeit the Peace and Security that God’s Kingdom will bring.  However, there will truly be no Peace and no Security because as the verse says then sudden destruction comes.  

“For this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie…” (1 Thessalonians 2:11).

A question I always had was can people who have heard the Gospel before the Tribulation be able to get saved in the Tribulation.  In a sense will there be a second chance?

Many bible teachers feel that you will not be able to receive the gift of Salvation in the Tribulation.  While this view makes sense because if people reject the free gift then why should they have another chance to receive Christ?

God in His infinite Grace and Mercy will give the whole world one more chance during the Tribulation.  Once believers are Raptured up there will be no one left here on earth to tell them about the Lord, however, God will provide two witnesses to introduce the Gospel one more time (Revelation 11).  The identity of these two witnesses is unknown.  Through their ministry in Jerusalem, there will be 144,000 Jewish males, who hear the Gospel message from the Two Witnesses.  They will go and tell the whole world.  At this point in the Tribulation, Antichrist is still a little horn as Daniel calls him.  He has not yet reached world-leader status yet.  Half way through the Tribulation he will require people to worship him by accepting the mark on their forehead or wrist.  People will not be able to buy or sell unless they have the mark.  It is important to remember that the mark has nothing to do with a cashless society or credit cards.  The mark is the name of the beast or Antichrist.

I believe the “strong delusion” of 1 Thessalonians 2:11 will not happen until after the abomination of desolation, which is halfway through the Tribulation.  Therefore, people will still have the opportunity to accept Christ.  I make this assumption because there is nothing in the bible that says that they can’t.

What does this mean for us living today?  Tell others about the Lord.  Allow the Holy Spirit to work through you in your life to share the Gospel. The Gospel is free to us, but it cost Jesus His life.  It is our responsibility to go and tell.  It is up to us.  If someone in your family, or relative, or friend rejects Christ then there will still be one more opportunity for them to believe.

666 not just a number.

The number 666 has been popularized by our culture today.  It has been featured in many movies from horror  to Christian films.  A great many books have been written about it as well.  Many pastors warn of a coming cashless society or credit system by which this number will be used.  While the number is sensational, we do get a different idea of what it means when we read about in Revelation 13:17 it says “no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name.”  This verse tells us that the number doesn’t mean a credit or cashless system, but rather the name of the AntiChrist himself.  Based on this verse many would then start looking to names of presidents and rulers to see if the letters in their name equaled 666.  However, unlike the English language Hebrew, can used to express numbers (also Greek can as well).  There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet and in the order of numerical value they are 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,20,30,40,50,60,70,80,90,100,200,300,and 400.  The numerical value of Jesus’ name is 749.   This is something that cannot be duplicated with English.  A great website to check this out would be hebrew4christians.com.  Believers living during the Tribulation should be able to identify the AntiChrist if they are watching.

The purpose of the mark is not just for buying and selling but rather worship of The Beast.  By placing the mark on either the right hand or forehead people are submitting to his authority.  People will want to do this because the will perceive him to be a god.  He will be mortally wounded and thought to be dead but will rise again (13:3).  Satan who gives The Beast his power, is worshiped when people worship AntiChrist.  Also important to note that worship is coming from the whole earth not just the European union.  Some have indentified the European Union as the 10 kings in Revelation.  However, upon further review, Daniel 7:23 tells us that this fourth empire will be over all the earth.  Therefore, the whole earth will make up the ten kingdoms.  The European Union gives us a preview of what that would look like on a much smaller scale, but it is not the actual 10 kingdoms from Revelation.

All this means is that one day the Lord will return and we need to be ready.