Promise of Eternity PI

eternity b

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.” Revelation 21:1

John 14:1-4; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10; Revelation 21:1-4

What to expect? Total renovation!  God will be making all things new, and we have hope beyond wonder as a new heaven and a new earth will be formed.  We can take comfort that God will remove evil from humanity, separating out the good. The old earth and heaven will be restored prior to sin; even fear will be gone.  In Revelation, everyone is celebrating, shouting that the presence of God is now among us all, as God Himself now lives with us and within us for eternity.

Then, the greatest comfort is given; God wipes away all of our sorrows and fears so there is no more death, suffering, or pain as evil is wiped away for good.

God’s Word is true and trustworthy.  He reveals one of His names, the first and last, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.  He promises refreshment to quench the thirst of all who are victorious in Christ, who will inherit everlasting life.  Christ gives us springs of water without charging us what is owed, and thus, His grace continues.  But, God will also keep His promise of judgment; all those who are evil will be removed from those who are good, and all those evil people will be sent to hell for all eternity.

New, in context, means “rejuvenated.”  God is changing the “old order of things,” but that does not necessarily mean He is replacing it.  As Paul states, we are being reconditioned in Christ by our “new” covenant of grace, as the “old” is passed away (Gen 3:17; Is. 51:15-16; 65:17; 66:22; Rom. 8:18-23; 2 Cor. 5:17).

New heaven and a new earth. This theme comes from Isaiah 65, teaching that God will completely and thoroughly accomplish and achieve His purpose throughout the universe.  As Christians, we will be “transfigured” so we will have no ties to the old nature of sin and evil.  An “extreme makeover” where the entire creation is restored to its original parameters-before sin corrupted everything-and we receive our new bodies (Gen. 1:1; Is. 42:9; 48:6; 51:15-16; 65:17-25; 66:22; 1 Cor. 15:35-57).

This IS God the Creator, Redeemer, and Consummator communing with us and making a total transformation and renovation of His creation!

He will bring all things to fruition. He will bring peace and a future to those in Christ!  As magnificent as this is, it is only the backdrop of what will be going on; the far more spectacular “center stage” is that God IS among us.  He is our Lord, Protector, and Sustainer.  He will remove the evil; so those who are in Him will never hear, “depart from me.” Rather, we will hear “come to me and I will give you rest.” He has saved us, but here is how He continues to save us as His grace is continually at work, involved, and shepherding us now and for eternity. He promises us all things new, and for those who reject Him, all things of judgment.  In the meantime, we have Christ in us now, empowering us-a preview, and a real, effectual presence and hope for us now. This is to inspire us for faith, reliability, and steadfastness in our Christian life (Ex. 33:14; Matt. 7:23; 11:28-30; 25:41; John 5:22).

Our lives here on earth, whether joyful or in suffering, is not the end of the story!  God will achieve His purpose; we will inherit His wonders and blessings!

Christ will “wipe away every tear.” This must resound in us not just for our personal hope and comfort, but also to enable us to trust in Christ for all things and situations.  Those in Christ are His and His for all time; there is no fear or dread when we are with our Lord King.  He IS the Alpha and Omega.  He will bring all things new to those who know and love Him, and judgment to those who fight Him. We can be encouraged, as we have hope, reason, and purpose, to be faithful because of our confidence in Him, producing active faith that glorifies Christ and builds His kingdom (Eph 1:14; Heb. 12: 18-29)!

 

 

 

 

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The God Who Judges, the God Who Holds Us! P2

Read Jesus’s Words in Matthew 11: 20-30

What is the “Day of Judgment” about? Basically this means, no one has an excuse.

When we look to Scripture and the judgments God has done, we can see the pattern of what He will still do. Even in the wickedest of cities, the righteous people testified on behalf of God. God showed mercy upon mercy, until there was no hope for their repentance (Book of Jeremiah; Matt. 12:41; 23:13; Luke 12:47-48; Rom. 1:20-2:16).

What do we need to learn and take away from this?

Judgment as we looked at before means God will overthrow every resistance of evil (1 Cor. 6:2-3; Matt. 25:31-46). It will bring the deeds of darkness to the Light (Isa. 29:15; 45:16-17). It is a part of the liberation of Christians who trust and obey God (Luke 18:1-8; 2 Thess. 1:5-10; Rev. 6:10). This also means a new world administrated by Christ that will replace the present one (2 Peter 3:13; Rev 21:1).

We all are responsible to God, according to the election and Grace that we receive or reject (Matt 3:11-12; 24:29, 35; Luke 12:17 ff.; John 5:22; Rom. 2:12-16).

What are we to focus on in our teaching about Judgment?

We cannot justify ourselves or say we are right in wisdom and learning (1 Cor. 1:26).

Wisdom is never something a wise person would claim or boast. When they do, then you know they are not really wise (Job. 12:24; Prov. 3:5-6; 12:15; 16:2; 21:2; 26:12).

To fear God is to reverence Him and acknowledge that He is Lord over our lives. It is not fear as in being afraid; rather it is ultimate respect and awe (Job 28:28; Psalm 11:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10). We can be in His rest with awe!

God sees the humble as the real wise ones, whereas the world looks to pride and arrogance, which God hates (1 Sam. 2:39).

God does not owe anyone an explanation or a revelation!

God’s judgment is the Christians hope and comfort!

Yet, God is patient–as in long-suffering–in exercising judgment so that people may have the time and the chance to come to faith and repentance (Luke 13:6-9; Rom. 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).

Take a look at this key word, “Hidden these things from the wise.” This refers to God’s sovereignty and control. He alone chooses who will be clued into His truth, and who is not worthy to know or not ready. God is the One who chooses and dispenses wisdom and life. He is the only One who is capable and sufficient in knowledge, wisdom, justice, and mercy to do so. God reveals Himself in the heart and His Word. We cannot come to know Him or understand God from any other secular means; no learning, science, or power can grasp whom God is or what He is up to.

All things means that all things in the universe have been committed to Jesus. Being fully God, He is Sovereign (John 12:44-46). When you know Jesus, you know God; God’s Spirit allows us to know Jesus. Thus, Jesus has the power of predestination.

Yet, what is our Lord up to? He tells us to….Come unto me, which is is a promise of wisdom and the offering of God’s strength, and perhaps the most endearing words uttered by our Lord! It is so simple for the humble to see and accept, yet so hard for a mind preoccupied with the pride of self. Without humbling ourselves to acknowledge Him, we cannot receive the Savior. Rather, we get a need unmet and a soul empty.

This is a picture of Jesus, offering Himself to us. He has the authority to invite and He is the author of our salvation. Jesus’ load is heavy and requires our fullest for His Highest; yet, it is easy when our eyes and faith are on Him (1 John 1:7)!

God will Judge justly in His perfect timing, and He is patient–as in long-suffering–in exercising judgment, so that people may have the time and the chance to come to faith and repentance. How can this thought give you comfort if a loved one has passed away, and you are not sure if they knew the Lord?

How has Grace protected you?

The God Who Judges, the God Who Holds Us! P1

You may know that God is a God who gives us grace, comfort, and rest, but, did you know He is also a God of judgment?
Read Jesus’s Words in Matthew 11: 20-30

All too often we forget His holiness, righteousness, and right to judge. We forget we are responsible for our actions. We just go on with our meager lives without any forethought of the consequences or opportunities.

Yes, our God is a God of Grace. How wonderful and comforting to be able to allow Him to be our haven of rest, our comfort. Yet we cannot allow ourselves to neglect His full magnitude and character. All too often, we, as sinful humanity, place ourselves in the judgment seat, passing our Will and agenda to others. Perhaps we are correct in our assumptions, but, conceivably, we cannot see the hearts of others, or the facts.
We must be able to leave the judgment to Christ; He is perfect and all knowing, and we are not. We need to be willing and able to wait and rest in Him, His plan, and in His ways, not ours. Even in times when we suffer stress and confusion, even when we fail, He is there, holding us, loving us, and giving us His rest and grace beyond what we can fathom. When we surrender our yoke–that is, our Will and plans–over to His perfect rest, how splendid a Christian walk we will have; what an impact we can be!

• Look at this key word: “Rebuke the cities.” This is called a “judgment oracle.” It was common of OT prophets to condemn evil cities whose people had rejected God (Amos 3:2; Jonah. 4:11). Rebuke/ denounce are very strong words conveying justified indignation.
• In Jesus’ time, Tyre, and Sidon were considered the most wicked and pagan cities that had ever existed. Few to none of their inhabitants repented or acknowledged God (1 Kings 16:11; 17:9-24).
• The more knowledge you have, the more responsibility you have to use and practice it. That is why Moses was not let into the Promise Land; he disobeyed God. He knew better than anyone who ever lived not to do that! Fortunately, today we have Grace!

Even though Moses disobeyed God in a relatively minor matter in our perspective, God was still gracious, and showed him all that would come. What God sees as important, we sometimes skip. Remember, Moses knew better. And, when we sin, we know better too! Thus, the offence of striking the rock was bad enough for him to be excluded from entering the Promised Land. Moses had been face to face with God, and knew his duty and call. His anger broke the trust he had with God, resulting in grave consequences. Fortunately for us, we have Grace to further protect us (Ex.17: 6; Num. 20:8-11)!

How does knowing that God is a God of judgment, as well as a God of holiness and righteousness affect your faith and obedience?

What happens to a Christian’s growth and faith when all he acknowledges is God’s grace, and not the rest of His attributes?

Can you find where ‘apocalypse’ is in the Bible?

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I have seen it in movies, in TV preaching, from false teachers, from sensational books, on the cover of “Time” and so forth. But can you find it? I have tried, I tried hard to prove it and to disprove it and to just find it. I am sorry, I only been looking for it for 35 years, I read the Bible daily, and I can’t find it? And not to be facetious, I really tried. It is not in quality Bible Dictionaries like the ‘Oxford Dictionary,’or in ‘scholarly ones like ‘Colin Brown’ or ‘Kittel.’ Well maybe it is me, others claimed they have seen it, even wrote books on it.  I know I am limited in my education of the Bible with just 2 PHD’s and of course seminary; but, I can’t find it! Anyone, anyone?

 If you try to look up the word “apocalypse,’ in online sources this is what you will get, “Sorry, we didn’t find any results for your search. Please try the following:” and then no suggestions…

So, where does ‘apocalypse’ come from?

It is somewhat in the Greek word, well very somewhat. The word for, Revelation, is from the Greek title word “apokalypsis,” which the Anglicized version turns into “apocalypse.” However, in the Greek, this term means, “discourser of events,” as opposed to total destruction or end of days or something secret or hidden. Thus, even though Revelation is symbolic in places, it is not hidden to us when we take an honest look and compare it to other Scriptures rather than trends or newspapers.

It also means an uncovering, an unveiling or, as we have it in the English, a Revelation. The other title that has been used is “The Apocalypse.” Thus, Revelation is a book of disclosure of John’s seven visions and God’s exhortations to encourage early Christians enduring severe persecution to remain loyal to Christ and Christ will retaliate against those who dare hurt His anointed (Judges 6:11-23; Dan. 7:16; 10:5-21).

The word apocalypse has come to us in the last century to also refer to a trial, like the phrase, The hour of trial. This is a way to say the “Apocalypse,” or times of extreme hardship, trials, suffering, and/or being tested. This phrase denotes a widespread, universal (as throughout the Roman Empire) suffering as opposed to a local persecution. This can also refer to the “Great Tribulation” and/or the “Great Judgment” where we all go through tough times or our personal journey when times are harsh (Rev. 2:9-10; 3: 7-13).

It has been used to refer to “To test those,” to mean we are purified and refined when we go through the consequences and quintessence of life. These have a purpose; nothing happens to us without a reason that is meant to teach and grow us (Job 23:10; Psalm 12:6; Prov. 17:3; Isa. 43:2; Jer. 11:4; Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:4-28; Mark 13:19; 1 Cor. 4:3-5; 2 Thess. 2:1-12; 1 Pet. 1:5; 4:13; 5:1; Rev. 13:5-10).

So what does apocalypse mean?

From the original Greek rendering and from the contexts and actual intended meaning, it means ‘comfort,’ to be loyal to Christ, for His plan is unfolding. It does not mean what most people think it means, a total destruction or an end to the world, it actually means the opposite. Consider that, John is proclaiming an important fact we must all agree upon, that God is Sovereign and in control! He gave us grace that we did not deserve and a precious plan that will unfold.

We have hope both now and in the future.

 

Seeking End Times Trends is Fruitless PIII

A look at Mathew 28 as it relates to end Times 

Jesus is risen—He is risen indeed—Hallelujah!  

           Jesus has all authority! He proved this by not only being God, but by being willing to come as a man to this earth and live the life we could not, nor would not do. He overcame our sins and our enemies (John 12:31; 16:33; Rom. 6:1-7; Rev. 1:17-18)! He kept His promise that He made to Adam to redeem us, and then He sent the Comforter to lead us on (Acts. 1:3; 2:24-35; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30-32; 13:33-37)! Jesus is risen. This means He conquered death (Acts 2:24; Rom. 1:4; 1 Cor. 15:50-58). We too, in Him, will undergo a similar transformation, as we live for Him, forgive in His name, are justified (Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:17), and will arise in eternity (John 11:25-26; Rom. 6; Eph. 1:18-2:10; Col. 2:9-15; 3:1-4; 1 Thess. 4:14-18; 1 Pet. 1:3).  

          Without the resurrection, we do not have Christianity—as in saving faith.

We just have some great rules and precepts to live by. Well, so do the Buddhists (1 Cor. 15:1-19)! A dead man, no matter how good and great, cannot save anybody. Buddha has saved no one! The difference is we are transformed, and saved for eternity—not just for here and now (John 10:4; 16:10; 2 Cor. 5:20). We are not called to save souls. That is the role of the Holy Spirit. Rather, we are called to help the “soul bearers” to learn and grow! 

          The people then, as well as now, were confused about the end times and wondered if this was the end of an age or a new beginning.

Jesus did not fit the expectations of the religious leaders or of His disciples. The religious leaders rejected Him. The remaining disciples had to surrender their will to His in order to know who He was and what He was doing in them (John 3:30). We cannot make disciples of others until first we, ourselves, become disciples of Jesus (2 Pet. 1:13)! The disciples bore witness to His call to make disciples of all nations; they were His witnesses and His messengers. What will you do about this today (Acts. 1: 22; 4:2, 10, 33; 2 Cor. 5:20)? The key to implement this is to realize who Jesus is—and His authority! When we have acknowledged His authority, then we can allow His work in us. Then, He can use us in the lives of others. The opportunities and potentials are limitless (Luke 10:17-20; John 15:7; Acts 20:24)!  

Questions to ponder that are more important… 

What can you do to help your church see the veracity of The Great Commission and do a better job of knowing Christ so they can then make Him known? What would your church look like doing this? What would your neighborhood look like? Verses just talking about your favorite end time’s scenario?  

What does Jesus’ statement, all authority, mean to you? How can this get deeper in you so you understand further that He is God, He is all powerful, He is all knowing, and, He is present everywhere? What would that mean to your spiritual walk with Him?  

Jesus tells us He will always be with you. How can this help give you motivation and comfort?  

What does make disciples mean to your church? What has your church done with Christ’s most important call? Why do so few churches and Christians do this? Why is this more important than a ‘correct’ and of course most if not all are not) view of End Times?  

What makes this passage the marching orders for our faith and practice? What have you done? Where are you lacking? What do you need to do?  

Do you believe that if you are committed to your beliefs (those that are not focused on Christ), and refuse to allow the Holy Spirit to convict you, you will remain in your sins and be unsaved? Why, or why not? If so, why?  

What are the barriers that keep you from knowing Christ? If your beliefs were untrue, would you want to know?

 

Seeking End Times Trends is Fruitless PII

When or if someone asks you, “what is more important the Resurrection or the Second Coming,” what would you say? Would it be biblically correct? 

We tend to think that the prime Christian climax is yet to come, a rapture, which will not happen as many people think or the Second Coming which is yet to occur. Yes, the Second Coming will be marvelous beyond expectation or description. But, the prime climax for the Christian, and the Church has already occurred, it is all about Christ, Who He is and What He has done. Thus, the prime climax is that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is Risen!  

The climax has already come! All of our Lord’s life and mission has reached the culmination.

The history of man, our fallen state, the move of our Lord through history and our lives have interwoven to the finishing point. He lived on our behalf. He has died in our place to absorb God’s wrath and pay our debt of sin; now, He rises back to life, conquering death, and giving us victory and grace for a life of fulfillment and fullness (Psalm 16:11; 107:09; Isa. 26:3; John 14:21; Gal. 5:16; 22-23; 1 John 1:7-9; 3 John 4)!  

The passage of Matthew 28: 1- 20, contains the ultimate wonder of the universe—the incredible impossible, and the incredible triumph. Jesus was crucified; He died, and was buried. 

The magnitude of Jesus’ resurrection was beyond mere comprehension; without seeing it for themselves, as Thomas asked for and received, many refused to believe. Others truly believed by faith and worshipped Him. For us, although we do not have Jesus physically showing us His hands and feet (John 20:26-28), we do have the Spirit that reveals the truth to us. Jesus said, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20: 29). Jesus did not fit the expectations of the people, the religious leaders, or, the disciples. A total change in worldview had to occur before He could be accepted fully (Phil. 3:1-14). 

This passage has classically been called, “The Great Commission,” as these are the marching orders for our faith and practice! This is also the hallmark passage for evangelism and missions! Consider Jesus’ Statement here, All authority refers to Jesus being fully God, having all omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence; thus, He is the ruler over the entire earth. This is also a reference to Daniel 7:13-14. 

So what is our point, our climax? To ponder theories or move forward in our Christian life?

Our call here, our climax until He returns is simple, Make disciples, that is, take people under our wing and teach them the Scriptures and procedures of the Christian life (Matt. 4:17; Eph. 1:3‑14; 2:8-9; 1 Cor. 1:18‑2:16; 15:1‑8). (The difference is that rabbis made disciples like themselves, with their traditions and beliefs. We are called to make disciples like Christ, and teach His precepts and ways!) 

We are called to Baptize, this meant conversion and identification; the person was to become identified as a person of faith and as a follower of Christ. It does not presuppose a ritual, but rather a mindset. The physical act of baptism is essential (not for salvation), as it is a public showing of our faith and commitment. The specifics of how and when are not as important as the faith and obedience to follow Christ (Matt. 4:18-19). 

We are called to Teaching, this means to show what is in the Scriptures, how to understand God’s Word, what is God saying to us, and how to live by God’s Word. Personal instruction helps us understand and then apply His precepts into our lives. We are to live for Him and to serve Him. For the rabbi, this meant the Law, Commandments, and the Prophets. Now, it also means the teachings of our Lord. 

All nations refers to Gentiles, as in people who are pagan and not Jewish. Jesus’ dominion is all people in all places. He is not limited to time and space! This means Christianity is to all people, Jew as well as Gentile, beyond traditions and religions, and regardless of ethnicity or birthright. Isaiah also predicted this event (Isa. 42:6; 43:10; 44:8). Christ is cross-cultural; He is for all peoples in all times. Only pride can keep a person from Him! 

Observe. We are called to learn what to believe and to obey. We do this by observing; it is cemented in us by doing! This passage is called “practical holiness.” Jesus calls us to observe (to learn and grow) and then to do it! 

What is Jesus doing? Wilting to come a second time? NO! He tells us in this Matt 28 passage, He tells us that He is….Always be with you. This is the great comfort and hope we have, we have is that the God of the universe, our Creator and Lord, knows us, loves us, and will be with us! This also refers to Jesus being fully God. One of Jesus’ names is Immanuel, which means “God is with us (Matt. 1:23).”

What does Revelation 14:1-5 mean to us now?

 

Being blameless and of faith has a resound that benefits us and reaches to Heaven and God’s ears. There is a direct link to how we are accountable to one another and how we are enticed into sin. This also directly relates to our faith and spiritual growth in Christ. If we are tempted or get caught up in sin, we must realize our need and call to repent, and seek Christ’s forgiveness. Being faithful and pure sexually means you are a person of faith and conviction, while to be unfaithful and in contrast, being loose sexually means we are loose with our relationship to God. This will result in personal and relational devastation and chaos. Sex causes a bond and is meant for a sacred occasion. When it is misused, it is devastating to all involved and greatly affects our faith and how we run our churches. This is also the reason sexual abuse is so devastating for people! The victim is bonded to his or her attacker in a perverse way, so the act stays in the mind as he or she keeps living it out.  

In the case of abuse or mistakes, we have to be diligent to seek forgiveness and repentance. And, if needed, we should seek professional counseling to overcome the experience through God’s grace, love, and forgiveness (Gen. 2:24-25; 34:1-3, 8; Prov. 5:15 -22; Rom. 8:12-17; 1 Cor. 6: 12-20; 7:3-5; 2 Cor. 10:5-6; Eph. 1:3; 2:4-10; 5:21-32; Col. 3:1-4; Heb. 13:4; James 4:4). 

Real worship comes from our gratitude and faithfulness to the Lord; it must never be pretentious! In our planning of worship, we must allow the Spirit to direct us. It is OK to compose, plan, and rehearse our praise and music, but we should not allow our worship to be a performance or a show of personalities. Rather, we are called to be an offering of praise to the main and only audience, who is Christ our Lord 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. Christians, who focus on Christ, will be able to follow Him as He leads and loves. How has this been so for you? How can you be better at it?
  1. Why do some Christians allow themselves to be easily led by manipulations or showman personalities and not by the Truth of the Word? How is this like the way the beast will deceive people?
  1. If tough times really hit your church, will their allegiance be to the Lord and marked by Christ or to something else? Do you think that there is no excuse for being manipulated when the Truth is in us by both the Spirit and in writing contained in the Word?
  1. What can you do to make sure that your faith and deeds will not be deceived? How does Christ give you hope and victory? What can you do to see His hope more clearly in times of stress and discomfort?  What can you do to improve your loyalty, faith, and allegiance to the Lord and be marked by Christ? How will your faithfulness and Fruit be used?

 © 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org