Promise of Eternity IV

Resurrection-of-the-Dead

“‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Revelation 21:4

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

The resurrection of the dead leads to a new life, our life after death that Jesus is able to provide by His death and resurrection.  This is also about what is to come, the Second Coming and the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God.  Jesus, our Rescuer, and Redeemer; He took on our human nature, but without our sinfulness, and remained pure to pay the debt for our sins (Rom. 1:4; Heb. 1:1-4; 2: 7, 14-15).

Let’s look at some keywords:

Wipe every tear….” This means we have victory in Christ and that God is true to his promises!  This is also a contrast of those who made oaths to the beast and/or are disloyal to God (Psalm 23:6; 49:14; Is. 25:8; 35:10; 51:11; 1 Cor. 15:54; 2 Cor. 1:20; Rev. 3:14; 7:17).

“No more death/swallow up death,meaning we receive the promised, eternal inheritance (John 11:25; 1 Thess. 4:13; 2 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 9:13-17).

Everything new, means God is the Creator; He will complete His purpose-He will work it out.  God intervenes in history and in our lives.  He will judge, as He demonstrated with the Flood (Gen 6-8; Isa. 4:5; 43:18-19; 57:19; Rom. 8:18-23; Heb. 8:13; 2 Pet 3:7-13).

“Alpha and the Omega, means God is eternal and rules over all places and time. This refers to the majestic, Messianic journey and work of Christ. He is omnipotent, or “all-powerful.” “Alpha and Omega,” also refers to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and embodies His Sovereignty.  Christ is all in all; He is LORD of all that is past, present, and that which is to come!  His will and purpose will come true, and ours will not; so, to grow, we must surrender to Him (Isa. 41:4; 44:6; John 19:20; Rom. 8:18-25; Gal. 2:20-21; Col. 1:17; Rev. 1:8; 22:12-16).

“Give to drink… water of life,” gives us an image and a promise of comfort, and provides the remedy to the greatest fear of loss to a desert dweller (Psalm 36:9; Is. 35:1-2; 55:1; Ezek. 47:1-12; John 4:10-14; 7:37).

He who overcomes means our perseverance of faith in Christ and the promises of our Lord.

“Be my son,” refers to our inheritance, the blessings we have in Christ, and His love and pursuit of us, for He does seek us (Rom. 8:15-17)!

We are a part of His Covenant and thus, He will give us not only a hope, but also a future. Our Christian lives, even in persecution and trials, are of great worth and meaning. Those who are His are called to be faithful and loyal to Him, and Him alone.  We overcome the ways of the world when we look to Christ and not to our desires or situations (Zech. 8:12; Mark 13:13; Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; Jubilees).

Jesus lived, died, and rose again for you and me!  All we are to do is trust and obey Him, and as we continue in this endeavor, He gives us even more empowerment for enduring life and performing ministry along with His special favor and peace!  Even if we do not see Jesus, He sees us, loves us, and helps us persevere.  This may seem unattainable or even unfathomable when we are under stress or the hostile occupation of life.  However, we can do this because we have access to His empowerment; we are literally kept by God through faith.  As we grow in our faith, we become even more precious to God and He will preserve us through trials and life.

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The Attitude of Christ!

Attitude of ChristThe end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4: 7-8

The end of the world is coming! Life and our opportunities are limited; so what are we to do?

This and many other passages tell us that we are to have the attitude of Christ. Not that of pious fraud or prideful leaders who make it up as they go. Rather, we are to make every effort to represent Christ and make the most of what we are given for His glory (1 Peter 4: 1-11).

Look at it this way. We are stewards of all that we have, whether small or great. The better we use our gifts, the more generous He is with us with more gifts, abilities, and opportunities, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. We are called not to waste our opportunities, or sit and argue or just be apathetic thinking why bother, since the end is near.

We are called to be diligent and faithful to our call, talents, and prayer with love and hospitality. Biblical eschatology tells us to do what God has called you to do and do it with passion, truth, and in love!

Is near” refers to the period from the Resurrection of our Lord to His Second Coming; this is called the Last Days. This is not a time reference, meaning either limited or unlimited time, although it does mean that the longer we go, the less time we have. We can have a week left or another two thousand years.

The point here is the End of Days is a period of time and covenant with Christ, and it will be marked by great sufferings. No one will be immune; we will all have to give account for our life. Looking forward to the End of Days and Christ’s return is also meant to encourage and influence the attitudes and actions of suffering Christians (John 5:27; Acts 17:31; Rom. 2:5, 16), therefore, be in serious prayer (Dan. 12:1-2; Acts 2:17; 1 Tim. 4:1; 1 Pet. 1:20).

What we are to do is: Pray is meant to line us up in His will and with His empowerment (Luke 18:1; 1 Cor. 7:5; Eph. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:17; 1 Pet. 3:7; 1 John 5:14-15).

What we are to do is: Love, which covers means that real love continually forgives (Matt. 18:21-22; 1 Cor. 13:5; Eph. 4:32; 1Thess. 4:9-10; 2 Pet. 1:7; 1 John 4:7-11). This means we are to overlook the faults and transgressions of others against us within reason and with love. We are also not to gossip or slander one another (Prov. 10:12; James 5:20)!

What we are to do is: “Hospitality,” specifically refers here to taking in travelers with generosity-not grudgingly or with complaining. In general, since we have Christ’s love flowing in us, it should flow to others around us.

So in the last days, and that time is now, we are to be willing to give preference to others, to look out for and look after one another, and to share, with discernment, what God has given us, including our family, home, finances, and food. We are to have an attitude of stewardship where we do not own anything because we are merely the caretakers for the real owner, God. He desires us to share His stuff, and we comply out of reverence and gratitude to Him.

Thus, as we come along side others, we are to welcome them and act out our faith in real, helpful kindness, generosity, and deeds. This includes providing help and lodging to fellow Christians, helping those who are being persecuted, and helping out in our community (Matt. 25:34-43; Luke 10:30-37; Rom. 12: 3-8, 13: 16:33; 1 Cor. 12:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:2; 5:10; Titus 1:8; Hebrews 13:2; 3 John 1:5-8).

Does Love cover you? Do you use it to cover others?

God’s love is the ultimate power for the Christian. Love is more than a feeling; it has segments and characters in it. Love is also a choice, a decision that must be perused and worked on (John 13:1; 15:13; 1 Corinthians 13:3; 1 John)!

We are to be fueled and empowered by love in all situations. Christian love is the turning of our backs on our self-concerns and facing our neighbors. It is the surrender of our will to His. If love does not take us beyond our self-interests, then we have only lust and pride, not real love! God’s love must be our model for life. It must flow into us from Christ, and in return, flow out from us to those around us.

Seeking a Sign? PII

 

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away. Matthew 16:1-4

The over-concern with appearances or trivial matters can get in the way of seeking Truth! 

Jesus made use of the Pharisees as examples of what not to do, as they were preachers of false doctrines. Just as there are so many today, chasing feelings and desires and not real true Truth. That they were wrongly teaching what the Bible plainly contains may seem small and insignificant to some, but we have to realize when we teach something as His Word that is not in His Word, or skewed, we are being Pharisees. We would be the ones clouding people from God’s revealed truth.

This is no small matter. It is like yeast; only a small amount makes its way through all of the dough, affecting the entire outcome. Essential Truth is essential. False doctrines are destructive and will ruin people, churches, and skew His plan from unfolding in us.

The Pharisees and Sadducees were “Testing Him” these two groups who were diametrically opposed to one another. The Pharisees were traditionalists and popular, while the Sadducees were liberal, denied an afterlife, and held the political power. They disagreed on many doctrinal points and customs so that each one hated the other. Yet, they were united in their joint hatred of real Truth. They both liked to interpret and apply their own rules as Law, and the One who is Truth was their chief opposition. Does this sound familiar? (Matt. 15:2-3; 22:23; Acts 23:6-10)

Let look at a couple of these key words:

So, what does the “Sign of Jonah” mean? It referrers to our Lord’s resurrection to come, not to some deluded prediction of a false teacher that will not come true. How do we know? Look at the context! Also, Christ alludes to His coming suffering for their redemption. A people who refused to acknowledge or accept Him and will put Him to the death, are given ultimate forgiveness and salvation if only they will believe. Jesus offers His life to redeem them from their sin. (Acts 2:22-36). Jonah was at the door of death, and God kept him alive with a miracle (Matt. 12:39).

So, what does Yeast mean, besides being a bakery product? This was, and still is, an essential component to make bread rise and taste better. Yeast also was a colloquialism referring to evil. It only takes a small amount of evil to corrupt the entire batch. Jesus is using yeast to mean false doctrine which is extremely destructive because it hides real truth. It is a counterfeit that quickly penetrates and corrupts and has no value for redemption. So, when you cash it in, you receive nothing but the rotten works of its aftermath (Matt. 13).

The only way to remove false doctrine is to remove the people proclaiming it. First, show them the real truth; if they still reuse to recant, remove their platform and poison from harming others As in do not give them money, do not listen to them and show others what is real true Truth from God’s Word in context and real word meanings (Gal. 5:9; 1 Cor. 5:6-7).

Do you understand who you are in Christ? Do you look for signs, or do you take His precepts as your sign and roadmap for life? The Pharisees were experts in interpreting what was going on in the world with people, motivations, knowing their rules, and even the weather, but they did not know their Scriptures. They only knew what their interpretations were, what others had said, and the passion to follow the concepts they cherished. But, they did not know the facts of what God had plainly told them in His Word.

What do you need to do to keep your eyes on important matters, such as His Word

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).”

The Three Prevailing Millennium Views in Revelation

 

Revelation chapter twenty is about the three main views of the Millennium: Post-millennium/Postmillennial, Pre-millennium/Premillennial, and Am-millennium/Amillennial (see background article) that intersect into the four views. Chapters twenty-one and twenty-two deal with the literal versus the non-literal interpretation of Scripture. Each of the four views takes various positions within each of these millennia views.  

This passage starts the millennial viewpoints. Most theologians in Church history from the early church fathers such as Augustine, and including the Reformers Calvin and Luther, saw this passage as metaphoric; “Amillennial” as in not a literal but symbolic interpretation. This is mainly because it is what the texts stated by the usage of the Jewish metaphoric words and genre. There have been some that have seen a future “premillennial” viewpoint such as Irenaeus, Justin Martyer, and most famous, Isaac Newton (there debate is whether this happens before or after Christ’s return; most see after). But, these people were not well schooled in biblical languages or well read in this subject. There is another group who are versed in biblical languages and well educated that takes a “postmillennial” view and include Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and Charles Finney (he was not well educated, not that education is that important, but gives one more tools to examine and more information to see what God has to say) that a millennial Kingdom would precede Jesus’ second coming. Hence, there was a lot of controversy in the mid-twentieth century when most people who wrote on this subject no longer looked to genres, historical background, original languages, or were just biblically illiterate, so all kinds of theories exist through to today. One example is not realizing that so much of this is dependent on the Old Testament metaphors used in places such as in Jeremiah. The main problem is that Christians divide over this, regarding their position as the solely correct and imminent one when Christ Himself told us in Matthew 24 what will happen and not to theorize or fret over it, just be prepared. That means to grow in faith in Him, not spend our energies in argumentation. Ironically, people who engage in vicious debate and fight over this only serve Satan and not Christ!  

The word millennium is a combination of two Latin words, mille, meaning a “thousand,” and annus, meaning a “year”. The debate is over if this is to be taken literally as 1,000 definite years, or interpreted metaphorically (as the language suggests), meaning a long, indeterminate period of time. There are three main popular views to this subject:   

Amillennialism: This millennium portrays the present reign of Christ, God’s kingdom, which will be followed by Christ’s second coming. The souls of the departed are with Christ in heaven. Most in this camp believe that after Christ’s final judgment, the new earth will be formed—His eternal, perfect kingdom. This is the most popular view from the Early Church Fathers, the Reformers, and most denominations today. They believe that Christ through His work, death, and resurrection defeated Satan and he is restricted, and bound in power and scope to allow the spread of the Gospel and the building of the Church. This view sees us now in the millennium. Many sensationalists today say this view is heresy, but it is not; it is within the scope of biblical theology as clearly defined by Scripture. Such sensationalists rarely read the Bible for what it says or in its context! This is also not an essential matter (Matt. 12:9; John 12:31; Col. 2:15; Rev. 17:8; 19:9)!

Premillennialism: We are living in a partial aspect of God’s kingdom which in time will become the great climax of Christ’s return when He will start His Kingdom full on, which says that the Second Coming of our Lord will take place before the millennium. Then, Jesus will literally reign on earth for a thousand years that will merge into the eternal kingdom, in an age of peace and righteousness on a new earth. 

Postmillennialism: This world will eventually all or mostly be converted to Christianity; then and only then will the millennium of a new earth filled with peace and prosperity begin. This view has Christ returning after the millennium, and we Christians in charge; it is up to us to engage this before His second coming. Then, Christ presides over the final judgment and eternity.

Just like the four views, Preterist, Futurist, Idealist and Historicist, all these views are also mostly read into the text. There is truth and error in each one, since Scripture does not teach any of them fully (see background article for more information). 

 

Exegetical look into Revelation 20:4-6

 

  • ·Souls. Refers to those who have been martyred because they remained faithful to Christ or that these people are the most noble and worthy to receive reward. This does not mean other faithful Christians and saints are excluded or there is a second class or a second resurrection for the others. It also signifies suffering, being wronged, and persecution, but the application is that they remained true to the faith, regardless of circumstances. In context, this image indicates that the martyrs are like sacrifices, just as Christ was when he represented the Passover Lamb, innocent and undeserving, whose blood was shed. In Christ’s case, it was for our redemption; in the martyr’s case, it was seemingly in vain, but in reality, it glorified God (Phil. 2:6-11; Rev. 6: 9-10).
  • Beheaded. Rome would behead with a big ax its citizens who were deemed as criminals, as it was considered quick and painless as compared to being crucified. Of course, they were usually beaten first as Paul was on many occasions.
  • Rest of the dead. May refer to those who are “spiritually dead,” or the wicked, and not necessarily dead bodies.
  • The first resurrection. This perhaps refers to our “rapture” to meet Christ, meaning we are taken bodily to meet Him when He returns. The various theories of the rapture and end-times usually are not based on Scripture. “Rapture,” which is not even a biblical word, comes from the Latin to “meet in the air,” and simply means (from Biblical exegesis) to meet with Christ. It is not necessarily even up in the air, as that is a metaphor to meet as two warring parties would in the middle of a battlefield to discuss terms. The context and language suggests two resurrections, but this may refer more to a contrast between our bodily death and the second death, which is spiritual and eternal. Our physical is temporary; our soul is primarily more important. The theme of resurrection is our hope for today, because we are with and in Christ, our “being” is made for eternity. What matters most to God is our trust and faithfulness in Him, for which we are rewarded. This is more fully explored by Paul in Philippians, chapter 3 (Is. 65:20; Dan. 7:14-18; Amos 5:18; Matt. 19:28-30; 25:14-30; John 5:24-29; 1 Cor. 15:51-57; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23; 3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 5:1-3; Rev. 6:9-10).
  • Second death. Refers to Hell and eternal damnation that as Christians we do not need to fear.

 ·Priests. In the Old Testament, this meant that all God’s people were holy to Him. Under law, there were specific roles in the priesthood that people were called and ordained to fill. Priests were to be bridges from God to man. Now, through Christ, we have direct, intimate access to Him, and in the future, each of us will reign with Him. Each of us is a royal priest as a representative of Christ (doctrine of the priesthood of all believers) on earth, and as ministers, we model His character and thus have no need for a Temple. God’s Kingdom is now; those who say the Temple must be reconstructed before Christ returns do not get this vital point (Ex. 19:1-6; 20:6; Lev. 10:10-11; Isa. 66:20; Matt. 21:43; 28:19-20; Rom. 15:16; 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 2:1-10; Heb. 7; 10:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:1-10; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21; 5:9-10; 20:4-6).

  • Reign with him. This means the reign of the faithful—God’s people—and our responsibility as we serve for and with Him