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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Biblical Q&A: "Questions and Answers" [WordDevo]12-2 thru 12-8 ANSWERS

"Seven Questions and Seven Answers; One for each day of the Week usually posted by Saturday"

 

ONE

 

Psalm 137

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept  when we remembered Zion.  There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”  How can we sing the songs of the LORD  while in a foreign land?

 
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill .  May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth  if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.

Remember, O LORD, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell.  “Tear it down,” they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!”

O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us-he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

Some call it the “act as if” principle.  Others advise us to “fake it til you make it”.  But what they’re all referring to is the fact that while you can’t control how you feel about your current circumstances, you can control how you respond to them.  And if you choose to act like your circumstances are irrelevant to your happiness, your feelings will eventually catch up.  That means  if you feel sad, you can choose to act like you’re happy, and soon you will have cheered yourself up.  If you’re a smoker and feel like you want a cigarette, you can choose to act like you don’t and before long you’ll be a non-smoker.

Some years ago I walked into the office of a prospective client during a time of economic down turn.  On the wall behind the receptionist’s  desk was a prominent sign that read, “We heard there was a recession, but we decided not to participate.”   I don’t think it was a coincidence that this company was doing better than its competitors even though they all had similar products and serviced the same market.

Lately these have come to be known as “contrary-to-feelings” choices. But there’s nothing new about them.  Paul knew all about doing this.  So when the Church at Philippi was suffering intense persecution and asked him for help he wrote back,

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:4-7)

In the midst of persecution they were to rejoice, not just when things were good, but always.  He said the way to find true peace, the peace that transcends all understanding is to be anxious about nothing,  to thank God for anything, and ask Him to take charge of everything.  And Paul wasn’t some theologian tucked away in a corner of the Temple, sequestered from the real world.  He knew something about enduring persecution.

He also knew that our attitude is a major factor in determining how things affect us. That’s why he told the Ephesians to  be made new in the attitudes of their minds (Ephes. 4:23) in order to live lives more pleasing to God.  He knew that attitudes are just habits of thought.  If we start thinking differently our attitude will change. When our attitude changes, our actions will soon follow.

We can tell he knew this because He also told the Philippians to focus on good thoughts during their bad times.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:8-9)

He promised that doing these things would bring them peace in spite of their circumstances.  It was good advice then and it’s good advice now.

 


TWO

 

Unquenching The Spirit

Q.  I have read in one of your previous posts that if we continually ignore or disobey the Holy Spirit’s guidance we will lose the ability to hear him. Aka Quenching the Spirit. This bothers me for obvious reasons.  If someone did indeed quench the spirit is that a permanent event or can it be restored by restoring our fellowship with God?

A.  People lose the ability to hear the Holy Spirit by persisting in ignoring His advice.  They do this because they’re afraid to yield their independence to Him.

They can regain the ability by reversing the process.  But just as ignoring Him was an action caused by a motive, the decision to begin listening again must be caused by the opposite motive.  They must be willing to yield their independence and follow His advice.

And just as it took time to convince the Holy Spirit to keep quiet, it will take time to convince Him they’re ready to listen again. His voice will be very quiet at first but will become easier to hear as they practice listening to Him and accepting His advice.

 

 

THREE

 

That’s Not Fair

Q.  I believe you just recently said that there will be three different groups of saints.  the old testament saints, the church age saints, and the tribulation saints.  You also said the church age saints will live in the New Jerusalem and that the other two groups won’t get to live there.  I know God has a perfect plan but in my human mind, I’m not sure that sounds fair.  Don’t Moses or Abraham or Noah get to live in the New Jerusalem with the rest of us?

A.  Noah, Abraham, Moses and others saw concrete, physical evidence of God’s existence on a regular basis. He sent angels to instruct them on coming events, and in other ways provided substantial support for their faith.  The Church believes by faith alone, and because of that God has chosen to bless us beyond all other human beings.  In John 20:29 Jesus told Thomas,“Because you have seen me you believe.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  He was speaking of the Church.

Of all the Old Testament dignitaries only David is called a king, but none are called Kings and Priests, as we are.  Jesus said he who is least in the Kingdom will be greater than any man who is not (Matt. 11:11), and Paul said in the ages yet to come God will demonstrate the incomparable riches of His grace through the kindness He has expressed to us, the Church (Ephesians 2:7).  It’s not supposed to be fair.  The Church is supposed to get a much better deal than anyone else.


 

FOUR

The Anti-Christ, One Person Or Many?

Q.   Why do so many people talk about the anti-Christ as if it he was one person in history.  John the apostle defined “anti-Christ” as anybody who denies that Jesus is God in the flesh. (I John 4:2-3)  That makes whole groups of people and even some religions “anti-Christ.” They were in the world then and they are in the world now!

A. You are correct in your interpretation of John’s “spirit of anti-Christ” and of the 40 or more titles given him in Scripture, “anti-Christ” is perhaps the least accurate.  Technically he’s a “pseudo-Christ” because he pretends to be the Christ.

But regardless of that, there is a person who comes on the scene at the end of the age who personifies John’s spirit of anti-Christ.  So many personal pronouns are used of him that it’s impossible to see him any other way. Daniel called him the little horn (Daniel 7:8) and the coming prince (Daniel 9:26), Paul called him the  man of lawlessness (2 Thes. 2:3), and to John he’s the beast (Rev. 13:1), but the world thinks of him as the anti-Christ.

 

FIVE

More On Hosea 6 And The 2nd Coming

Q.  Re: Hosea 6 And The Second Coming.   I too had thought that Hosea’s 2 days might mean the Lord’s second coming would be after 2000 years.  It obviously couldn’t be 2000 years after His birth, but it could be 2000 years after His Ascension, a time that has not yet come. What are your thoughts on this?

A.  The problem is the prophecy doesn’t identify the starting point.  Various suggestions I’ve received include His birth, the beginning of His ministry, His death, and the fall of Jerusalem.  Each has some merit, but who knows which, if any, is the correct one.  And then there’s the issue of the calendar changes I mentioned before.  I think it’s much better to keep thinking in the general sense rather than try to pin the prophecy to a specific day.  By doing that we can see we’re well within the time frame indicated by the various suggested starting points, and our time on Earth is surely coming to a close.

SIX

Storing Up Treasure In Heaven

Q. In several of your articles and answers to questions, you’ve suggested that by putting all our resources to work for God’s benefit in this life, we’ll be creating greater benefit for ourselves in the next life.  What exactly do you mean by that? 

A. When you net it all out, whatever wealth we’re given here is intended to be passed along to further the Lord’s work here on Earth.  The conditions are that we give without expectation of repayment, but out of gratitude for what we’ve already received.  When we do that, three thing happen;

1. The generosity of our giving will be matched by the generosity of God’s blessing to us in the here and now (Luke 6:38)
2. Giving generously in the present will bring us the resources to be even more generous in the future (2 Cor. 9:11)
3.  Our unselfish giving here will result in treasure of some nature being stored up for us in heaven for our use when we get there. (Matt. 6:19-21)

No one knows exactly what this treasure will be, since everything will be so much different there than it is here.  We just know that these are promises from God who cannot lie.  Like it is with everything else where the Lord’s concerned, we just have to exercise our faith and take the first step to get things started.

SEVEN

Storing Up Treasure In Heaven

Q. In several of your articles and answers to questions, you’ve suggested that by putting all our resources to work for God’s benefit in this life, we’ll be creating greater benefit for ourselves in the next life.  What exactly do you mean by that? 

A. When you net it all out, whatever wealth we’re given here is intended to be passed along to further the Lord’s work here on Earth.  The conditions are that we give without expectation of repayment, but out of gratitude for what we’ve already received.  When we do that, three thing happen;

1. The generosity of our giving will be matched by the generosity of God’s blessing to us in the here and now (Luke 6:38)
2. Giving generously in the present will bring us the resources to be even more generous in the future (2 Cor. 9:11)
3.  Our unselfish giving here will result in treasure of some nature being stored up for us in heaven for our use when we get there. (Matt. 6:19-21)

No one knows exactly what this treasure will be, since everything will be so much different there than it is here.  We just know that these are promises from God who cannot lie.  Like it is with everything else where the Lord’s concerned, we just have to exercise our faith and take the first step to get things started.

 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Biblical Q&A: "Saints Alive!..." [WordDevo]11-24 thru 11-30 ANSWERS

"Seven Questions and Seven Answers; One for each day of the Week usually posted by Saturday"

 

ONE

 

Saints Alive. Follow Up

Q.  I read Rev 7 after reading Saints Alive!  It speaks of a great innumerable multitude that serves in the temple.  This couldn’t be an earthly temple could it? No earthly temple could accommodate an innumerable multitude. Is this the New Jerusalem? I think I recall it being something like 1400 miles wide,deep and high. Is this correct?

A.  The New Jerusalem is 12,000 stadia (approximately 1400 miles) high, wide, and long (Rev. 21: 16).  But in Rev. 21:22John said there is no Temple in the New Jerusalem, and in Rev. 21:27 he said only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life can enter there.  This would exclude the martyrs of Rev. 7 on both counts. That leaves either the Temple in Heaven (Rev. 11:19) or the one on Earth for them to serve in, and I suspect the one in Heaven is more likely.


TWO

Demon Possession

Q.  In reading your answer to Understanding Luke 11:24-26 you point out that the demons begged Jesus to allow them to enter the pigs after they were driven out of the man.  Does this mean that demons need God’s permission to enter or re-enter a human?  I know, as a Born Again Believer that has accepted Jesus and invited Him to reside within me, I cannot be demon possessed.  But what about others?  Are demons free to inhabit people or do they need to seek God’s permission first?

A.  Because the whole world is under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19) demons don’t need God’s permission to inhabit non-believers.  The reason the demons asked to be allowed to inhabit a herd of pigs in Mark 5:1-17 was to avoid going to a place of torture which is where I believe Jesus would have sent them otherwise (Mark 5:7). When the pigs ran down the hill and drowned themselves in the Sea of Galilee the demons must have wound up in the place of torture after all.  Otherwise Jesus would have been setting them free to afflict others as if they’d never gone into the pigs.

 

THREE

The Gospel Of The Kingdom. Follow Up

Q.  As I began this week’s feature article, I couldn’t help but wonder this: If Israel had accepted Jesus as their Messiah, would Jesus have remained there as their King forever?  Also, would He have conquered Israel’s enemies at the time in order to keep peace in the known world?

A.  Make no mistake about it.  Jesus had to die to meet the objectives outlined in Daniel 9:24. No one else in Heaven or on Earth could accomplish this.  We can only imagine how different things would have been if they had accepted Him as their Messiah and let Him die for their sins so He could bring them into everlasting righteousness with His resurrection.

Far from just defeating Israel’s then current enemies, it would have ushered in the promised Kingdom that we know as the Millennium.  It would also have completed the fulfillment of Isaiah 9:6-7He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  Through Israel, Jesus would have brought God’s salvation to the ends of the Earth (Isaiah 49:1-6) and there would have been no need for the Church.

FOUR

Hosea 6 And The 2nd Coming

Q.  Re: The Gospel of The Kingdom.   Do you think Hosea might have been speaking about two days being 2000 years for the Lord to revive Israel, and the third day might represent the 1000 year millennium in this passage? “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence” (Hosea 6:1-2).

A. A number of scholars have come to that conclusion, and I also think there’s some merit to it.  Unfortunately the Hebrew calendar is thought to have lost a number of years, perhaps as many as 240, so this is only the year 5773.  Some say much of this “compression”of the calendar was done in the first century AD to make it look like Simon bar Kochba had fulfilled the Messianic prophecies rather than Jesus. Others say it’s because for the Jews time stood still while they were under judgment.

Regardless of the reason, if you assume the traditional date of 4004 BC for the creation and subtract that from the current Hebrew year 0f 5773, you get 1769 years since the First Coming.  Adding back the missing 240 years will bring you to 2009, which means we’re already past the 2000 year point and Daniel’s 70th Week hasn’t even begun yet.

I don’t think we know exactly how many years are missing from the Hebrew calendar so I would only use this interpretation ofHosea 6:1-2 as a rough approximation of when the 2nd Coming could occur.  But when you include this with other hints the Bible offers it adds weight to the belief that it’s not far off.

FIVE

Is Jesus The True Israel?

Q. I’ve been reading the various positions of the Reformed Amillennialists.  Most of them are easily de-bunked but that isn’t the case for Hosea 11:1 / Matthew 2:15.  It seems very one-sided.  In Hosea 11:1 God spoke of Israel as his son and called him out of Egypt.  Matthew 2:15 says Jesus fulfilled this when He came back from Egypt as a baby after being forced to flee there to avoid Herod’s infanticide.  Amillennialists use this to support their view that end times prophecy is figurative and not to be taken literally.  They say a comparison of these two verses proves that Jesus is the true Israel, implying there’s no place for the nation of Israel in the end times.

A.  Through out the Old Testament God used several different analogies to symbolize Israel depending on the feelings He wanted to express. For instance, in Exodus 4:22-23 He called Israel His first born son (even though he wasn’t) to draw a comparison of importance to Pharaoh and his first born son.  If Pharaoh refused to let God’s symbolic first born son go, God would kill Pharaoh’s actual first born son.

Hosea 11:1 is a statement meant to express the idea that God loved Israel like a father loves a son.  But earlier, in Hosea 1:2, God had referred to Israel as an adulterous wife to explain how He felt about Israel’s worship of pagan gods.  And in Ezekiel 16He spoke of Israel as an abandoned baby girl He found along the road.  He said although He treated her like a daughter and gave her every advantage,  she grew up to be an insatiable prostitute, another reference to Israel’s pagan worship practices.

Would we assume from these passages that an adulterous wife or a prostitute is the true Israel? He also compared Israel to an olive tree and to a vineyard.  Are either one of these the true Israel? Of course not.

Matthew 2:15 simply says that just as God called Israel out of Egypt, so did He also call His Son (who was also a son of Israel) out of Egypt.  Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience to show them that Jesus was the Messiah, the King of Israel.  In doing so, he used many more comparisons to Old Testament prophecy than any other Gospel writer.

Once people depart from a literal interpretation of the Bible it seems like there’s no end to the interpretations they can come up with.  To accept this one you have to ignore hundreds of prophecies relating to the second coming.  Many of them specifically call for Israel to be a nation on Earth under the Kingship of the Lord Jesus. Jesus is not the true Israel anymore than God is the true Israel.  Israel is the true Israel.

SIX

The Duration Of The Plagues of Egypt

Q.  I believe Moses was about 40 when he made the decision to be among his brethren, the Hebrews, instead of being called the son of Pharaoh.  He then fled to the land of Midian before God called him to lead the people.  We know the people wondered in the wilderness for 40 years,  Moses dying at the age of 120.  How long was Moses in Egypt after he returned to lead the people?  How long did it take God to perform the curses against Pharaoh and Egypt?

A.  Here’s what the Bible tells us.  As you’ve said, Moses was 40 years old when he was forced to leave Egypt and flee into Midian (Acts 7:23-29) where he remained for 40 more years until the Lord called him to go back to deliver the Israelites from Egypt (Acts 7:30-34). Exodus 7:6 tells us Moses was 80 years old when he first spoke to Pharaoh about releasing the Israelites.

From Deut. 34:7 we learn that Moses was 120 years old when he died, just before the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the promised Land.

Therefore his life can be divided into 3 segments.  40 Years as the son of Pharaoh, 40 years in Midian, and 40 years in the wilderness with the Israelites.

The specific length of time required for the Lord to complete the plagues of Egypt is not revealed, but scholars have estimated that they happened quickly. The Jewish Mishnah says they took one year, but other opinions range from 40 days for the actual plagues to a few months when you add the time between them. Perhaps the Mishnah meant to say they happened within a single year.

SEVEN

Our Spirit And God’s. Follow Up

Q.  Re: Our spirit and God’s.  You said we’re born with our spirit attuned to the Spirit of God.  I understand that Jesus commanded us to be born again (in the spirit).  Why we need to be re-born when God had already formed our spirit during conception? Is our original attuned spirit inferior to the required ‘born-again’ spirit?

A.  It’s like this.  When we’re born our human spirit is attuned to the Spirit of God.  That means God’s will and our will are the same.  As we mature, our sin nature, something we were born with, begins progressively asserting itself, causing us to go against God’s will.  Before long our sin nature becomes stronger than our spirit.

Until we reach the age of accountability our behavior is not counted against us.  But at the age of accountability we become responsible for our actions and since our sin nature is in control we’re soon destined for death, because death is the punishment for sin.  By confessing our sins and asking Jesus to forgive us, the death penalty is canceled and we become born again to eternal life.  Then God sends His Holy Spirit to help our spirit regain control of our behavior.

But the sin nature doesn’t just go away.  For as long as we live we have to consciously decide who’s going to guide our behavior, the Holy Spirit or our sin nature.  Sometimes we choose one and sometimes we choose the other.  God knew this would be a problem for us, so when we become born again He forgives all the sins of our life, even those we haven’t committed yet (Colossians 2:13-14). This way He can guarantee that the gift of eternal life will always be ours (2 Cor. 1:21-22). Therefore, when we sin after being born again He doesn’t count it against us, but against the sin nature that dwells within us (Romans 7:18-20).



Biblical Q&A: "Saints Alive!..." [WordDevo]11-17 thru 11-24 ANSWERS

"Seven Questions and Seven Answers; One for each day of the Week usually posted by Saturday"

 

ONE

Saints Alive!

Q. I understand from my studies that there are 3 groups of saints, Old testament saints who believed in a coming Messiah, Church saints, who come to the Lord between Pentecost and the Rapture, and Tribulation Saints who believe in Him after the Rapture but before the 2nd Coming.  When is each group given glorified bodies? I know that the Church/Bride is given glorified bodies at the Rapture – but what about the others? And where do we/they all reside in the years between the (pre-trib) Rapture and the New Heaven & Earth after the Millennium?

A. You’re correct in saying that all Church Age saints will receive glorified bodies at the rapture/resurrection. We will reside in the New Jerusalem.  Old Testament saints will receive their new bodies at the time of the 2nd Coming (Daniel 12:2) and will dwell in Israel. Tribulation saints who are martyred will receive new bodies along with Old Testament saints at the time of the 2nd Coming (Rev. 20:4-5), and will serve the Lord in His Temple (Rev. 7:14-15).  Tribulation Saints who survive in their natural state will re-populate the nations on Earth during the Millennium. (Matt. 25:34)

But you must look at Rev. 21-22 again.  The first verses of each chapter are virtual copies of the Old Testament, put there to show you that John was speaking of Earth at the beginning of the Millennium, not its end.  It’s confusing because Rev. 20:7-15is a parenthetical passage John used to follow two thoughts to their conclusion; the final disposition of Satan and the 2nd resurrection.

Then, beginning in Rev. 21 he went back to describe the Millennium including the New Jerusalem, home of the Church, and the restored Earth, home of redeemed Israel and Tribulation Saints.  We know this partly because Rev. 21:1 is a direct quote fromIsaiah 65:17 where the context is the Millennium, and Rev. 22:1-7 is taken from Ezekiel 47:1-12, another Millennial passage.  Time is also referenced in Rev. 22:2 with the tree bearing 12 crops of fruit one each month, and eternity by definition is the absence of time.

 

TWO

Is God In Total Control Of Everything?

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

There’s a theory, only hinted at in Scripture, that Planet Earth had been the domain of Satan prior to his rebellion. Although he was only a created being, Satan was an enormously powerful dignitary in God’s Universe (Jude 1:9). He was the overseer of the Cherubim (the guardians of God’s Throne) and a leader of the angelic host. He was God’s most impressive creation (Ezekiel 28:12-15). Because of his position, his power, and his beauty he became proud and rebelled (Ezekiel 28:17,Isaiah 14:13-14), bringing about a judgment that destroyed planet Earth.

All this seems to have happened between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. Hints of this in Scripture are

1) an alternate (and some say more literal) rendering of Genesis 1:2 reads, “But the Earth became formless and void”, rather than “and the Earth was formless and void.”

2) In Isaiah 45:18 the Lord said He didn’t create the Earth that way, using the same Hebrew word that’s translated formless in Genesis 1:2, but formed it to be inhabited. Putting these two points together hints at a judgment sometime after Earth’s original creation.

3) The angels already existed at the time of the Genesis creation account. They shouted and sang for joy when the Lord laid the foundations of Earth (Job 38:4-7) so they must have been created earlier. If so, then Satan must have been created earlier was as well.

4) The serpent seems to appear out of nowhere in Genesis 3:1 although there’s no mention of him in the creation account. Also the Hebrew word translated serpent comes from a root meaning enchanter, which could mean it was not an ordinary animal. And Eve didn’t seem to be reluctant to converse with him, indicating she might have recognized him for who he really was.

Let me hasten to add that I don’t believe in a pre-Adamite civilization. The Bible clearly calls Adam the first man (1 Cor. 15:45). It also says the animals were created on the same day as Adam (Genesis 1:24-26) so I don’t believe dinosaurs or any other animals preceded Adam’s creation.

After Earth sat submerged in ruin and darkness for who knows how long, God said “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3) and the six day Genesis creation process began. It helps to remember that the Bible is not a book about eternity, it’s about the age of man. As such it begins with the creation of the first man and ends when the Millennium ends seven thousand years later. It gives only vague hints about what happened before the Age of Man began and what will come after it ends. All we really know is that there was an eternity past and there will be an eternity future.

God’s first instruction to Adam and Eve was to give them dominion over Planet Earth, telling them to subdue it and populate it (Genesis 1:28).  Satan, whose domain Earth had formerly been, responded by causing them to sin (Genesis 3:1-13).  As a result of their sin, Adam and Eve fell from immortality to being mortal, carrying all their descendants with them (Romans 5:12). The creation was also placed in bondage to sin (Romans 8:18-21), and Satan snatched control of Earth back from Adam Eve and has held it from then until now (1 John 5:19). This is why Jesus referred to Satan as the prince of this world (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11) and Paul called him the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:3-4).

Jesus redeemed the creation (bought it back) with His own blood at the same time He redeemed us, but He won’t move to actually assert His claim to it until just before the beginning of the Great Tribulation at the sound of the seventh Trumpet.

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).

And in Rev. 12:10 we read,

“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”

In the mean time, the Bible tells us Satan is in charge here, and there are numerous references to demonic powers influencing life on Earth to confirm this.

In Governments

Satan had representation in all the Gentile Empires of Biblical times. He was called the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14:4 and the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:11. An angel spoke to Daniel about being detained by the “prince of Persia” and requiring help from the Archangel Michael to get free (Daniel 10:13). He also said he would soon be doing battle against the “prince of Greece” (Daniel 10:20) although at that time the Greek Empire was still 2 centuries into the future. And the Roman Empire became so evil that many see the Roman Emperor Nero as one of history’s clearest models of the anti-Christ.

Does anyone believe things are different today? After all, Gentile Dominion won’t end until the 2nd Coming. Adolph Hitler was another model of the anti-Christ, and Nazi Germany showed how pervasive evil can become when a nation is under the influence of the occult. Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an Evil Empire. George W. Bush referred to nations supporting international terrorism as an Axis of Evil. And since the United States entered its post Christian era, who can deny that evil has had a much stronger influence here as well.

In The Church

As for evil in the Church, Paul said those who introduce false doctrine into the body are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve (2 Cor. 11:13-15).

He said we would see this becoming more prevalent as the end times approach. In 1 Timothy 4:1 he wrote, The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

In Our Lives

On a personal level the Bible warns us about the influence of evil in our lives. In Ephes. 6:12 Paul wrote,  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

The fact is the world is an evil place where bad things happen without reason and it will be that way until the Lord comes to restore it (Matt. 19:28, Acts 3:21). It’s not because God created it that way or even because He wants it that way. It’s because when our first parents sinned they unleashed a force of evil on this world that has put all their descendants in bondage and contaminated even the creation itself.

History has shown that God only lets sin and rebellion go to a certain point before reigning it in. Even during the Great Tribulation, when He will remove His agency of restraint altogether (2 Thes. 2:7), He will put an end to evil’s reign before it can completely destroy mankind (Matt. 24:22).

Is God In Control?

This brings us back to the original question, and here’s my answer. I believe things will turn out exactly like God said they will because He’s already seen the end, and He saw it from the beginning. But does that mean I believe God is in total control of everything that happens in the mean time? No I don’t, and I think I’ve shown above that the Bible supports my opinion.

I believe when we become Christians we become aliens behind enemy lines. I believe we can expect God’s help in surviving if we turn over control of our lives to Him. But I think there’s a lot more to that than most people understand.

When Jesus said to take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23) He was calling us to do what He was doing.  And what was He doing?  Matt. 26:39 tells us He laid down His will in favor of His Father’s will.  Romans 12:1-2 explains that’s exactly what we’re called to do.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We’re to lay down our will for our life and embrace His will for our life instead.

In Ephesians 4:22-24 Paul put it this way.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

I’ve seen a lot of people who give lip service to this command, and a few who actually obey it. But even those who do obey realize the world remains an evil place, and bad things can still happen.

Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble (John 16:33),  but He also said He came so we can have an abundant life (John 10:10). We gain this blessing by laying down the life we have planned for ourselves and picking up the life He has planned for us.  In this way we can experience a personal world where He is in total control no matter what is happening in the world around us, and where He is working even the bad things that happen together for our good (Romans 8:28).

Paul said our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). For that reason, he said, “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). This life is temporary. It’s the next one that’s permanent.

This is also why Paul told us to live by faith not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7), because even when we’re experiencing the adverse effects of this evil place, we can know that God has promised to work everything together for our good. Therefore, no matter how bad things might be, we can take heart in the fact that He has overcome the world, and through faith in Him we will too. 

THREE

Tribulation Children

Q.  I know that all children under the age of accountability will be taken in the rapture, including children still in the womb. After the rapture, will anymore children be born? I am sure for at least a few years people will carry on as normal. Will everyone be barren during the tribulation?

A.  In Matt. 24:19 the Lord said the Great tribulation will be a dreadful time for pregnant women and nursing mothers.  That tells us there will be children during the Great Tribulation.  Remember, the church will be long gone.   Most of the people who are left on Earth won’t know the full extent of what’s coming and will be trying to live as normal a life as possible, believing that things will eventually get better.  They won’t know the end of the world is upon them.

Jesus said it will be like the days of Noah when people were eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage right up until the flood came and took them all away (Matt. 24:38-39).  This is how it will be during the time leading up to the 2nd Coming as well.

FOUR

The Last Person Saved

Q.  We know that God has not already raptured the Church because of His long suffering,  giving every human a chance to trust His plan of salvation.  Do you think He will come back at a time when every person that will make a decision for Him will have done so, or will there be those who might have trusted Him at a later date, but be lost because He came back?  Or do you think it is simply a number thing, when the full number of Gentiles has come in?

A.  I believe Romans 11:25 tells us the Church has a specific number and when that number is reached the rapture will come.  But that doesn’t mean there will be no more people saved.  Rev. 7:9 speaks of a number too large to count from all over the world who will become believers and be martyred for their faith during the seal judgments of Rev. 6.  And Rev. 20:4 tells us of another group of martyrs who will die for refusing to take the Mark of the beast during the Great Tribulation and will be resurrected at the time of the 2nd Coming.  Neither of these groups will be part of the Church, but they’ll be saved just the same.  Scholars call them Tribulation believers or Tribulation saints.

In Matt. 24:30 we learn that all the nations of Earth will mourn when they see the sign of the Son of Man in the sky following the end of the Great Tribulation.  I think they’ll mourn because they’ll finally realize that what they’ve been told about salvation is true and it’s too late for them.

So all through the last seven years people will be getting saved, right up to the time they see the Lord coming in the clouds. Following that time no one can be saved.

FIVE

When Do The Birth Pangs Begin?

Q. I was wondering when do the birth pangs begin?  Is it when the tribulation starts or before?  I heard a teacher say it’s when the tribulation starts and that confused me.  I always thought it was when Israel became a nation but now I am hearing that a lot of pastors do not teach this theory.

A. In effect, Jesus said that the things He called birth pangs would be characteristic of the entire Church age, not just one generation (Matt. 24:6-8).  In other words, they’d be present throughout, but as the end gets closer they would become more frequent and more intense, like the labor pains of a pregnant woman.  He said the only clear sign that people on Earth would get that the Great Tribulation is about to begin is the Abomination of Desolation (Matt. 24:15-21).  When that happens the people in Judea (Israel) are to immediately flee for their lives.

SIX

Drugs Or Sorcery?

Q. I was listening to a popular TV bible teacher recently, and his comments involved drug use in the Bible. He said that in the book of Revelation, ch.9, those who refused to renounce their sorceries would be cursed. He said that was a misinterpretation in the Bible, and that it meant “pharmachia” or pharmacy. So which is it?

A. In the King James, Rev. 9:21 says, “Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” The Greek word translated sorceries is pharmakeia, which literally means the use of drugs.  It only appears 3 times in the Bible and is either translated witchcraft or sorcery.  Perhaps that’s because the King James translators were not familiar with recreational drug use.  Most modern translations follow the King James lead, and I don’t know of any that use the literal meaning of the word.

 

SEVEN

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Q.  An article I read recently claims that many of the prophesies of Isaiah 10 and 11 (and Isaiah 30:30-31) that traditionally are understood to have been fulfilled by the Seleucid King Antiochus Epiphanes around the time of the Maccabees might instead be prophesies that lie ahead for the Anti-Christ himself.  Could it be that understanding the Seleucid King who defiled the second Temple in the second century BC could teach us more about the Anti-Christ?

A. I believe that much of Isaiah has a dual fulfillment, the first one now historical to us and the 2nd one coming soon in the End Times.  Antiochus Epiphanes was one of history’s clearest models of the anti-Christ.  Because of him end times believers will know how to recognize the Abomination of Desolation mentioned by Jesus in Matt. 24:15.  The Abomination of Desolation that Antiochus erected in the 2nd Temple helped trigger the Maccabean revolt, and is the only time such a thing has ever happened.  Studying the historical account of this period gives us a clear picture of how the anti-Christ will cause the Great Tribulation to begin (2 Thes. 2:4, Rev. 13:14-15).


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Biblical Q&A: "What does it mean to do justly..." [WordDevo]11-13 thru 11-20 ANSWERS

"Seven Questions and Seven Answers; One for each day of the Week usually posted by Saturday"

ONE

 

Question: "What does it mean to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly (Micah 6:8)?"

Answer: 
One of the most popular verses among both Jews and Christians promoting social justice is Micah 6:8. It reads, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Many desire to know more about what this inspiring verse teaches on the issues of justice, mercy, and humility.

Micah 6 involves an imaginary conversation between the Lord and Israel. In verses 1-5 the Lord introduces His case against the disobedient people of Israel. Verses 6-7 record Israel’s response as a series of questions beginning with, “With what shall I come to the Lord?” (Micah 6:6).

Israel’s focus is on their external religious rites, and their questions show a progression from lesser to greater. First, they ask if God would be satisfied with burnt offerings of year-old calves (Micah 6:6b), offerings required in the Law of Moses. Second, they ask if they should bring “thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil” (Micah 6:7a). This is the rhetoric of hyperbole; such an offering could only be made by someone extremely wealthy or by the larger community of God’s people. Third, they ask whether they should offer their firstborn sons as a sacrifice for God. Would that be enough to cover their sin? Would God be pleased with them then?

Verse 8 follows with God’s answer, rooted in the Law of Moses: “He has told you, O man, what is good.” In other words, Israel should already have known the answer to their questions. God then says that He did not need or desire their religious rites, sacrifices, or oblations. Instead, the Lord sought Israel’s justice, mercy, and humility.

The answer to Israel’s sin problem was not more numerous or more painful sacrifices. The answer was something much deeper than any religious observance: they needed a change of heart. Without the heart, Israel’s conformity to the Law was nothing more than hypocrisy. Other prophets tried to communicate a similar message (Isaiah 1:14; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21). Unfortunately, God’s people were slow to heed the message (Matthew 12:7).

“Act justly” would have been understood by Micah’s audience as living with a sense of right and wrong. In particular, the judicial courts had a responsibility to provide equity and protect the innocent. Injustice was a problem in Israel at that time (Micah 2:1-2; 3:1-3; 6:11).

“Love mercy” contains the Hebrew word hesed, which means “loyal love” or “loving-kindness.” Along with justice, Israel was to provide mercy. Both justice and mercy are foundational to God’s character (Psalm 89:14). God expected His people to show love to their fellow man and to be loyal in their love toward Him, just as He had been loyal to them (Micah 2:8-9; 3:10-11; 6:12).

“Walk humbly” is a description of the heart’s attitude toward God. God’s people depend on Him rather than their own abilities (Micah 2:3). Instead of taking pride in what we bring to God, we humbly recognize that no amount of personal sacrifice can replace a heart committed to justice and love. Israel’s rhetorical questions had a three-part progression, and verse 8 contains a similar progression. The response of a godly heart is outward (do justice), inward (love mercy), and upward (walk humbly).

The message of Micah is still pertinent today. Religious rites, no matter how extravagant, can never compensate for a lack of love (1 Corinthians 13:3). External compliance to rules is not as valuable in God’s eyes as a humble heart that simply does what is right. God’s people today will continue to desire justice, mercy, and humility before the Lord.

 

TWO

 

 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Is it Biblical: Once saved always saved? -Blogos

 

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?

The Christian Issues Network
"IS IT BIBLICAL"

Once saved always saved?

For some, once saved always saved is one of the most powerful and meaningful doctrines of the Christian faith. For others, once saved always saved seems to be a damnable heresy, straight from the lips of Satan. Why is this debate so heated?

For starters, there are biblical texts that seem to argue for once saved always saved (John 10:28-29Romans 8:38-39Ephesians 4:3), and there are biblical texts that same to argue against once saved always saved (Galatians 5:4Hebrews 6:4-610:26). So, biblical interpretation is definitely part of the debate. Secondly, there are the theological systems of Calvinism and Arminianism, with “perseverance of the saints” being a core truth within Calvinism and with “conditional security” being a core belief of most Arminians. Firmly held biblical and theological beliefs are a major part of the once saved always saved debate.

In my experience answering questions for GotQuestions.org, though, the biblical and theological arguments are not reason once saved always saved is opposed. It always seems to come back to the issue of: “If once saved always saved is true, then we can live our lives any way we want to.” So, in reality, most who reject once saved always saved do so for a practical reason: how can we teach people to stop sinning if they remain saved no matter what they do? According to this line of thought, hellfire and eternal damnation are the only threats powerful enough to get people to stop sinning.

As someone who firmly believes in once saved always saved, I am often asked, “If once saved always saved is true, does that mean we can live our lives any way we want to?” And, what is my answer to that question? Ultimately, I have to answer “yes.” The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is so absolutely perfect and sufficient than it did indeed pay the penalty for ALL of our sins. Christ’s death paid for the sins we committed before the moment we received Him as Savior, and Christ’s death paid for the sins we commit after we receive Him as Savior.

So, while I would say “yes” to the idea that we can live our lives any way we want to without losing salvation, I would also say that a person who has truly received Jesus Christ as Savior will not live his/her life any way he/she wants to. When you understand the depravity of your sin, the eternal penalty you have earned, and the tremendous price Jesus paid, it is a transformational experience. When you become saved, you are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), all things have become new. Once saved always saved is not a license to sin. Rather, it is an understanding that we could not earn salvation on our own merit, and therefore, nothing we can do will cause us to lose the salvation God has purchased with the blood of Christ.

Once saved always saved is the realization that God’s plan of salvation is absolutely perfect. A person whom God has chosen for salvation cannot be unsaved, unredeemed, unreconciled, unforgiven, lost, forsaken, abandoned, or thrown away. Good works and obedience cannot earn salvation, and neither can a lack thereof result in the loss of salvation. The biblical truth of once saved always saved puts the focus of salvation where it should be – on the holy and omnipotent God who finishes what He starts and never fails (Jude 24).

Related GotQuestions.org article: once saved always saved