Sunday, March 31, 2013


Jesus is the Firstborn of all the saints.  As Psalm 68 says, He leads a host of captives in His train.  He is the Pattern; the Example for all His followers.  All of the blessed saints take part in His suffering and His glory.  This is why Simon of Cyrene was charged to carry the cross of Jesus.  And its why Jesus told Mary that John is her son, and John that Mary is his mother.  Its because the saints were crucified with Christ.  And if we are crucified with Christ, so too will we be resurrected with Christ.  The Church of Christ is the Bride of Christ; and if the Church is married to Christ, then Christ and the Church become one flesh, as the Scripture says of marriage, the two shall become one flesh.  Its why Christians are said to be "in Christ".  And why the Spirit of Christ is said to be in the Church.

Jesus is the pattern.  What He has done, Christians continue to do.  What He has done, the Church repeatedly does.  On Resurrection Sunday it seems proper to reflect on resurrection.  Not only did Jesus Himself resurrect, but some of His saints have already resurrected, and there is a day of resurrection in which all the remaining will resurrect in the literal sense.  But in the figurative sense the Church of Christ has resurrected many times.  Repeatedly the world has crucified the Church.  The world has called Christianity dead many times.  And after each of these times there was a resurrection of the Church.  The Roman Empire crucified the Church figuratively, and literally as well.  They did their best to snuff out Christianity.  A number of times they almost succeeded.  There were ten major persecutions brought on by the Romans.  But these did not remove the Church entirely.  They did, however, affect the Church in a way they did not expect.

You see, resurrection is more than just a coming back from the dead.  When Jesus came back from the dead He did not come back in the same flesh as before.  He did have a physical body, yes.  But His resurrected body was different than the one before.  It was glorified.  Again, it is the pattern that we must follow; for we too shall receive a glorified body after resurrection, if we remain faithful to Christ.  In other words, Jesus came back -better- than before (if you can imagine that!).  And that's exactly what has happened to the Church.  Each time the Romans persecuted the Christian Church, and they almost succeeded in wiping it out, the Church resurrected bigger and stronger than before.  It was a supernatural thing, which I'm sure confounded the Romans.  It was the Spirit of Christ in the Church; a Spirit, evidenced by the physical resurrection of Christ, that cannot remain dead.

There are other times in history that Christianity seemed dead.  In the middle ages it seemed as though Islam would never stop spreading across the whole world.  The older people of Europe were resigned to the idea that Islam would take over Europe, and many were ready to capitulate to Islam.  They didn't expect what happened next; there was a great revival of Christian fervor in Europe.  You may disagree with the crusades, and I may as well, but the young Christian men who hated the idea of an Islamic Europe did what they knew to do.  They picked up swords and fought.  It was not the best thing, but it did achieve something.  It did put an abrupt stop to the spread of Islam, and convinced all those old people, who were ready to surrender to Islam, that Christianity was going no where anytime soon.

You might have said that Christianity was dead in the Catholic Church.  False doctrine, Mary worship, and to top it off, indulgences.  But there came out of nowhere a rebellion.  Somewhat of an uprising, which gave an alternative to the Catholic doctrine and practice.  The Protestant Reformation.

And today, the atheists and secularists are all too eager to eulogize Christianity.  Outdated, obsolete, they'll say.  Good for people who didn't know science, but we're smarter today, they say.  As if the world has outgrown Christianity.  I find it a little funny.  Well, the Christian Church is far too big for me to say that it is actually crucified.  I may have to stretch a parallel.  But we can certainly say that the Church is weak, that it has not the power that it used to, that the secularists have succeeded in much of their aim.  But that's no reason to despair.  Its quite normal, really.  The Christian Church is crucified, or in this case goes through a drought, and comes back bigger and stronger than it was before.  And in each case there is a testimony.  A story is made.  Heros are made.  And there is a purging power in the drought.  Like Jesus said, He is the vine, and every branch that produces good fruit is pruned so that it may be more fruitful.  The trying times in church history have been periods of pruning.  And when a vine is pruned, it becomes more fruitful than before.  So too, there will be a harvest of souls in the future greater than any harvest that has ever been.  I say to my brothers and sisters: prepare for it.  The harvest will overtake the workers.  There won't be enough churches, or enough seats, Bibles or hymnals to accommodate the vast number of people rushing to be part of Christ's Church.  They'll knock down doors to enter.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Storm is Coming

Tonight is the official beginning of Passover.  I feel like the story of Passover has much relevance for today.  I'll summarize the events of the Passover, then explain how we are in a similar situation.

The descendents of Israel were living in Egypt, and after a long time there, they became enslaved by the Egyptians.  The story of the exodus is found in the book Exodus, the second book of the Bible.  After Moses was sent to Pharaoh by God; sent to set the Israelites free; after many wondrous plagues brought on Egypt by God, there was one final plague.  It was a time of judgement.  It was a time of wrath.  God was punishing the Egyptians for enslaving His people Israel.  But God was also displaying His own power in the plagues.  God was making Himself known to Egypt, and known to the nations in the middle east at that time.  They might not have known much about God, but they knew that Israel's God was the real God.  So they feared the Israelites.  As I was saying, there was one final plague.  The angel of death was sent, and the firstborn of every household was killed.  Only Israel was spared.  The angel visited every Egyptian household, but passed over the Israelite households.  So it is called the -Passover-.  More importantly is what the Israelites had to do.  They killed a male lamb, a one-year old without defect, and spread the blood across their doorways.  This lamb prefigured Christ.  If the blood of the lamb did not cover their house, the angel of death would enter and kill.  Similarly, if the blood of Christ does not cover us, the angel of death will enter in and kill.  But because we are called Christians, that is, by the name of Christ, and truly put our faith in Him, God's judgement passes us over.

So often all we think about is the final judgement.  Yes, the final judgement is of immeasurable importance.  Yet the final judgement is not the only time of God's judging.  Many times throughout history there have been times of divine judgement.  The great flood was a time of judgement.  The Passover, the Exodus, and Israel entering the promised land was all a time a judgement.  When Israel was exiled, that was a time of judgement.  Not only was Israel judged, but the nations around Israel as well.  Judgements are pronounced against all the middle east nations from Isaiah 13 through 24.  The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was a time of judgement.  And even since then, though its not recorded in our Scriptures, there have been times of judgement.  There have been major wars, major plagues, major famines, etc.

The reason Passover relates to our own time is the fact that Passover represents God's judgement, and we are about to enter a time of judgement.  The storm is coming, my friends.  I don't want anyone to be unaware of this.  When you hear of a financial collapse in Europe, bank runs, defaults and other such things, that is just the beginning.  I don't know exactly what the details will be.  But I do know that the European Union, minus the UK and maybe a few others, will be handed over to the rule of Germany.  There will be a Fourth Reich.  Its rule of Europe will be no less than the Nazi Third Reich.  The financial collapse that is beginning to happen is the catalyst that leads to it.  What the details will be, I don't know.  But I would imagine that there will be war and protests and chaos and other such things.

Europe will be the first to feel the wrath of God.  But that is just the beginning.  God's judgement will be all over the world.  It will happen this decade.  It will culminate in the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38 and 39.

But the thing about Passover is the fact that not all were judged.  The angel of death did not enter every house, but passed over some houses.  It passed over the people of God.  And that's what my message is.  If you trust in God, you will be taken care of in these perilous times.  I don't know exactly how bad it will be.  I do not know how many millions will be killed this decade.  I don't know how many families will be visited by the angel of death.  But if you are covered by the blood of the Lamb, there is no reason for you to worry.  Simply go on being a Christian.  Be prepared mentally, for what is about to come.  But other than that, keep advancing the kingdom of God, like you always would.

Its Time for a Solution

For decades now, the typical dinner table discussion of Christians has been the downward spiral of American society.  Television is becoming less moral.  Youth are less moral.  Government is less moral.  Sex outside of marriage.  Etc, etc...  You know exactly what I mean, there's no need for me to go into detail.  As Christians we have abundantly acknowledged the problem.  We have talked about the problem and complained about the problem long enough.  Its time for us to move on.

If all we ever do is talk about the problem, nothing good will come of it.  We know there's a problem; its not like its some new revelation.  I have heard it many many times from numerous Christians, how much America is becoming more and more immoral.  But if that's all a Christian has to talk about, that person is much of the problem itself.  The problem is focusing on the problem.  The problem is talking about the problem without suggesting ideas to fix it, or moving along with strategies to confront it.  The problem is talking about how dark its becoming in America without reaching for a light switch.  I'm here to say this: its time to reach for a light switch.  Its time to confront the problems with solutions.  Its time to focus on the solutions.  Its time to get real about changing our world for the better.  Be salt and light.

Only losers talk about losing.  You ever think about that?  Only a Christian who has no faith in Christ would talk about all the world's problems as if there is no solution.  Did Christ say anything about dwelling on the sinfulness of the world?  Did He ever suggest we could not overcome the world and its sin, as if we must accept the moral decay of society?  He did not.  And I'm telling you, we do not have to accept it, nor should we.  Everywhere Christ talks about the kingdom of God, the kingdom is growing or advancing.  Did you notice that?  The yeast is worked throughout all the dough.  The net catches many fish.  The mustard seed becomes a large tree.   Try to find one place in the Bible that the kingdom of God is trying to maintain its borders.  In every place the kingdom advances its borders growing larger and stronger.  The message of the fact is this: Don't be conservative.  We are not trying to conserve what is; we are trying to gain what is not yet.  We are not maintenance men; we are soldiers for Christ.  Soldiers fight and conquer new lands.

So what can we do?  I pray to offer a number of ideas and areas in which Christians can affect their world, bring more to Christ, and conquer the powers of this world (ie. Satan/demons).

Be vocal
One way we are salt and light is to simply talk about the truth.  Its amazing how powerful the truth is when someone speaks the truth.  Often people know something is true just when its said and need no proof.  But if they want an argument, we should be ready to give an argument where appropriate.  We may waste our energy and time sometimes.  But other times an argument may prove effective, if not for the person we're arguing with, maybe for someone listening in.  For that reason, we should be ready.  We should sharpen our knowledge of relevant facts.  Have arguments prepared ahead of time.  As Peter said, always be prepared to give an answer (1Peter 3:15).

Be on the offensive
Do not just respond to the attacks of secularists, atheists or heretics.  Put them on the defensive.  Look for opportunities to add to the kingdom of God.  Look for any way we can advance Christianity.  There are many forceful arguments for including the Bible in public education.  It is, afterall, fundamental in the formation of this nation, relevant to the learning of history, greatly beneficial for discipline and wisdom.  This is just one example; I'm sure you can think of more.  And if you want more information, or to get involved, there is actually an organization called "Bible in the Schools".

Look to adopt
Suppose you're married.  Suppose you're looking to have children.  Roughly half of the children born in this nation are born out of wedlock.  I would imagine that a number of them may be put up for adoption, if the mother would find a couple she likes.  Why not be that couple?  Y'know, if you're in that position.  Each person in the Church of Christ has a unique position.  We cannot each do all of these things of course.  But there may be some married couples out there that would make great adoptive parents.  And for the kingdom of God, why not?  Why not add another one into the kingdom by way of adoption?  We are, afterall, all of us adopted by the Father in heaven.  If not for adoption, none of us would be saved.

Give your elected representatives an earful
Politicians do what they think the public wants them to do.  Sometimes they pay attention to polling.  Oftentimes they simply go by what they hear the most.  So it pays to be vocal regarding the politicians.  Tell them you expect a religious dialogue in public affairs.  Of all the things we could talk about regarding the management of a nation, what is more important than God?  Benjamin Franklin exhorted the Constitutional Convention to pray every morning before their proceedings.  Should we not do the same?

Call sin sin
I think one of the biggest problems -inside- the church is the weakness of its members in dealing with sinfulness.  Its a biblical fact, God hates evil -and- evildoers.  There's good reason the Bible repeatedly says "fear God".  Its not merely about reverence for the Creator.  Its because sinners are the enemies of God.  Unless we make peace with God, we're doomed.  And we need to make that message clear.  Enough of this wishy-washy nonsense.  Speak what is true; speak what is biblical.  Yes, God welcomes all people and offers forgiveness for sins by the blood of His Son.  Yes, there is grace.  But only at the cross.  Any rejection of Christ is met with wrath.  Are we going to do nothing while people go down the road to hell in masses?  Are the softly worded platitudes enough?

Surprise people with goodness
In an immoral world, nobody is going to expect the Good Samaritan.  What exactly is the Good Samaritan?  Its someone who helps, even when its sacrificial.  When we proclaim the name of Christ, so much more force is added to our words if we do the things Christ commanded.  If we give to eachother generously.  If we care for eachother.  Cry when another Christian cries.  Rejoice when another Christian rejoices.  This sort of thing is unheard of in a world where everyone is "looking out for number one".  It gets people's attention.

Get involved in the media
This is a good one for our artistic brothers and sisters.  If any Christian has a knack for art, consider getting into television, movies, music, etc.  By "getting into" I do not mean conforming to the culture of Hollywood.  I mean transforming the culture of Hollywood.  We complain about how immoral Hollywood is.  If we want Hollywood, or any of the other media, to be moral, we're going to have to send some of our moral people to it.  Not to be affected by Hollywood, but to affect Hollywood.  To make good movies that are also clean fun.  To make television that brings glory to God.  To make music with the sweet sound of holiness.  You get what I mean.  

Take legal action
Of course this isn't for all Christians.  But whatever Christians are already lawyers, or may plan to study law, I think we should form Christian legal organizations that fight for Christian causes in the courts.  For so long secularists and atheists have used the courts to remove Christianity from the public life of our nation.  In some cases they infringe upon freedom of religion and human rights.  In every case they de-stablize our nation.  Can you imagine a society in which marriage is not clearly defined, where a man can marry a man, marry ten men, or marry a dog?  That shows you how the religious belief of a nation cannot be separated from the social orders of a nation.  The whole concept of "separation of church and state" actually has no place in the Constitution.  And beyond that, secularists see no limit to it; and they try to apply it to anything public.  The Church of Christ needs to go out into the public, make the public aware of Scripture, make every advance possible, for the one reason that no immoral society can function, and for the other reason of advancing God's kingdom.  Wherever there are Christian lawyers, I pray they use their position to bring Christianity into public places.  

These are just some ideas.  There's way more than this.  Point is, just look for ways to affect the world around you for the sake of Christ.  Not just private affairs, but public affairs too.  How can God be present in the private homes of Christians and absent from the public arena of a nation built on Christian principles?  It makes no sense; and the idea that homosexuals should bring their "gay pride" out of the closet while Christians should keep their Christianity in a closet...  well, that's beyond absurd.  If any Christian would keep quiet about Christ, or think that Christ doesn't belong in a certain part of our lives, shame on that person.  For every Christian big and small, look for the opportunities to do something to be salt and light of the world.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

In the Fire

I'm sure you know the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  They would not bow down to the golden statue, and Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into a blazing furnace.  But God was with them.  Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace and he saw them walking around, unbound and unharmed.  And there was another in there with them.  Nebuchadnezzar said, "and he looks like a son of the gods".  He only said as much as he knew; he didn't know that it actually was the Son of God.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were walking in the blazing furnace with Christ Jesus, the Son of God.

Did they leave the furnace?  Eventually, yes.  But not right away.  They could have left; they were unbound.  They could have walked right out.  Instead they just walked around in it.  They stayed in the fire, because God was there.  The Son of God was there, so there was no reason to leave.  Its so much better to be in the fire with God than to be outside the fire without God.

I mention this well-known story for this reason: Many of us will be thrown into the fire, figuratively speaking.  Much is going to happen this decade.  Many distressing things will happen.  Many of us, especially here in the US, have grown up with the idea that war, genocide, persecution, economic depression and other similar things couldn't happen; at least not here.  We have grown up with a sense of security.  That sense of security is about to be shattered.  Many things that we thought could never happen will happen.  A collapse of the EU financial markets and economy is just beginning.  Rioting and chaos will follow it.  And at some point the EU will be handed over to a new German regime, the Fourth Reich.  Russia is arming itself again.  The so-called "Arab spring" has radicalized a number of nations in the middle-east, and it will continue.  Regardless your worldview, its not hard to see that the world is increasingly more dangerous, even from just ten years ago.  I look at it from a prophecy angle.  There are many prophecies that are soon to be fulfilled.  The German Fourth Reich, which is the fourth wing of the leopard beast in Daniel 7, is just one prophecy.  Jezebel in Revelation 2, the white horseman in Revelation 6, the war of Gog in Ezekiel 38 are among other prophecies that are being fulfilled, or will shortly be fulfilled.

If you're one of those skeptics that tunes out as soon as you hear someone talk about prophecy, then I might have lost you.  You might have already heard much nonsense in the way of interpreted prophecies.  There are many lousy interpretations of prophecy out there, and the most common interpretations of many prophecies happen to be wrong.  So it is, most of what you hear relating to prophecy simply is wrong.  But that's no reason to disregard prophecy.  If prophecy were not important, and you could ignore it and be just as well off, then why did God give us written prophecies?  What is the point of prophecies, if not to speak to us and warn of us coming events?  Bear with me, maybe I can give some insight, although that's not my primary purpose in writing this note.

What I mean to say in writing this note is that the next 5 years are going to be rough.  I want to prepare as many people as possible for a time of judgement that is coming.  I don't want my friends to be surprised or afraid when they hear of many scary things going on in the world.  Already you can hear of some scary things, but believe me, its just the tip of the iceberg.  When the world seems to be falling apart, trust in God, He will bring you through.

Now when I start talking about prophecy people often assume I'm talking about the second coming of Christ.  I'm not.  I don't know why exactly the only subject that gets discussed, regarding prophecy, is the tribulation and second coming of Christ.  Would you be surprised that there are many prophecies that have nothing to do with the second coming of Christ, which will be fulfilled before He returns?  Well, if you did not know, now you do.  The end of Ezekiel is one such prophecy.  Chapters 36 and 37 describe the return of the Jews to the land of Israel.  That prophecy is precisely what was fulfilled in 1948 and continues to be fulfilled in the nation of Israel.  And from there on Ezekiel is in chronological order.  So if Ezekiel is in chronological order, what comes next?  Ezekiel 38.  Read it.  The war of Gog, described in Ezekiel 38 and 39, is -not- Armageddon.  It happens pre-Armageddon.  It happens before the return of Christ.  As you can tell by reading it, its a pretty big deal.  God will reveal Himself to many nations.  He will judge the nations that come against Israel in spectacular fashion.  With supernatural signs He will judge them.  He will utterly destroy them.  As it says, all people on the face of the earth will tremble at His presence.  This is a big deal.  This is the kind of thing that will turn the world upside-down.  Atheism will vanish in a single day.  Everyone will see proof of God's existence, and His power, with their very own eyes.  And all the nations, especially the Muslim nations, will know that God is the God of Israel, because He will defend Israel.  The Muslims will suddenly realize that they have been fighting against God.

When will it happen?  Soon.  When exactly?  I believe I can tell you the year.  You see, there are two numbers that happen to collide with eachother on the same year.  Those two numbers are 70 and 49.  70 is the number of years Israel spent in exile, and its also the number of Sabbath Years that Israel disobeyed (that's why they spent 70 years in exile).  70 is one of those numbers that God likes to use.  There could be some pattern that I'm unaware of.  In any case, 70 is a number you might expect in relation to years and Israel.  The other number, 49, is the number of years between each Jubilee.  It is 7 sevens, or shall we say, 7 Sabbath Years.  There is one place in prophecy that speaks of 7 sevens, and that is Daniel 9:25.  There are 7 sevens and 62 sevens from the issuing of the decree to rebuild and restore Jerusalem until the time of the tribulation.  Many people have tried to apply this prophecy to Jesus' first coming.  Even though the number of years is close, from the return of the Jews to Israel to the first coming of Christ, the exact years do not line up with any decree.  Plus there is no decree that actually says to rebuild Jerusalem.  There's a decree to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and a decree to rebuild the temple.  There is no decree to rebuild Jerusalem itself.  This means the prophecy must be referring to the second coming of the Anointed One.  And for what reason does Daniel divide it into 7 sevens and 62 sevens.  He could have very well said 69 sevens (with the final seven being the tribulation period).  Evidently the 7 sevens signifies something.

Well, you may be surprised to find out that there was a decree to rebuild Jerusalem in the twentieth century.  1969 to be precise.  Rather than give you all the details here, I'll just tell you to search 'Jewish Quarter Development Company'.  It was formed two years after the Six Days War in which Israel captured the city of Jerusalem for the first time.  It makes sense that Israel would begin to rebuild Jerusalem shortly after capturing it.  Jerusalem is, afterall, the famous ancient capital of Israel, and the location of the Temple Mount.  Jerusalem is a really big deal for Israel.  And there was in fact a decree to rebuild it - at least the Jewish quarter of the old city.

Getting back to our collision of numbers, 49 years (7 sevens) from the decree to rebuild (1969) puts us in the year 2018.  2018 also happens to be the 70th anniversary of Israel.  Israel, as an sovereign nation, began to exist in the year 1948.  70 years after its founding, and 49 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, is 2018 for both.  And since its becoming abundantly clear that the war of Gog is nearing, I believe 2018 signifies the event itself.

The war of Gog (Gog, by the way, is Turkey, not Russia) is such a big event.  It begins a whole new era in the history of the world.  God reveals Himself to all the nations in a great big judgement (flesh-eating disease, giant hail, fire from heaven, the works...).  So you can imagine, things may happen leading up to that.  If you know the way God tends to work these things, you'll understand.  When God judged the nation of Israel, He did not leave the surrounding nations unjudged.  It was a time of judgement for the entire region (read Isaiah chapters 13 through 24).  So if God is going to judge the nations of the middle-east (and I believe Israel will feel some of God's wrath as well in the great earthquake Ezekiel speaks of), do you think He will leave all the other nations unjudged?  Or do you think maybe this decade will be a time of judgement for all nations?  I go with the latter.  As the United States is concerned, if you're American, I encourage you to read Jonathan Cahn's 'Harbinger'.  He details the parallels between Isaiah 9:10 and 9/11; it is quite ominous, I promise you.  If you read that book and carefully consider the details he presents (do the research, its all for real), then you'll be convinced that the US is in for some divine judgement.  Exactly what form that divine judgement will take, I'm not sure.  I do have my ideas, and one that rises to the top.  I'll speak about that somewhere else.

I speculate with some things; I will admit that.  But whatever your opinion of the prophecies is, or your opinion of my ideas about the prophecies, one thing is clear: rough waters ahead.  Be prepared, brothers and sisters.  And remember, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stayed in the fire, because God was with them.  It may be, after this trying time is over and better days have come, that you long to be back in the fire, because God was there with you.  A trying time is not always a bad thing.  Sometimes its in the midst of your personal fire that you find yourself walking with the Son of God.  So do not be afraid, friends.  I am saying many bad things will happen this decade.  But those bad things will be followed by good things, and even in the bad things God will be there.  Trust in God; He will protect you.  When you hear of wars, riots, bank runs, dictators, etc, do not be afraid.  Its just birthing pains; a whole new world is coming - one in which God is known by everyone.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Trust in God

Enoch trusted God.  He was taken into heaven and never died.

Noah trusted God.  He and his family were the only survivors when God destroyed the world in a great flood.

Abraham trusted God.  He was given a child though his wife was barren, and he became the father of many nations.

Jacob trusted God.  He saw angels ascending and descending a ladder between heaven and earth.

Joseph trusted God.  He went from being in prison to ruling over Egypt in one day.

Moses trusted God.  He parted the Red Sea with his staff, and left Egypt utterly defeated.

Joshua trusted God.  The walls of Jericho came crumbling down.

Gideon trusted God.  He defeated armies of tens of thousands with only 300 men.

Hannah trusted God.  Though barren, God gave her a son, and he became the prophet and leader of all Israel.

David trusted God.  As a boy he slew a giant, and he became the greatest king in Israel's history.

Elijah trusted God.  He called fire down from heaven and slew the prophets of Baal.

Elisha trusted God.  An entire army of Syria was struck with blindness, and he led the blind army into Israel's capital.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego trusted God.  They walked with the Son of God in a blazing furnace.

Daniel trusted God.  He interpreted the king's dreams and was raised to ruler over Babylon and chief of wise men.

Esther trusted God.  She became queen of Persia and saved her people from annihilation.

Jesus trusted God.  He turned water into wine, drove out evil spirits, brought in huge catches of fish, fasted for 40 days, resisted Satan's temptation, opposed the religious rulers of that time, fed 5,000 with only five loaves of bread and two fish, walked on water, healed a woman of her bleeding condition, raised three people from the dead, calmed storms, brought money out of a fish's mouth, withered a fig tree, restored a withered hand, gave sight to the blind, gave hearing to the deaf, healed a servant from miles away, healed lepers, caused a paralytic to carry his mat, saved an adulterous woman from death, predicted the destruction of Jerusalem, taught with the greatest wisdom the world has ever seen, let Himself suffer and be hung on a cross to atone for the sin of all mankind, rose from the dead, appeared to many people after having resurrected, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven.

And Jesus said, "whoever believes in Me will do the works I have done, and he will do greater works than these."

The story has just begun.  My message to you is simple: Trust in God.  There are many things yet to happen.  God is still writing an epic novel, and you, Christian, are in it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What is Communion?

Communion is something I greatly emphasize.  If you don't know already, I believe every church should observe Communion every Sunday.  To explain my reasons for thinking that, I should explain what Communion is; and a few things Communion is not.

A tangible act
Communion gives action to our faith.  The Christian faith is not some empty profession of faith.  We don't just say we believe in Christ and sing a few songs.  There are many acts the Christian should be involved in.  Some are acts that help people.  And a few are even ritual acts.  There's nothing wrong with that.  In our culture we tend to steer away from ritual.  At least we won't call it ritual, but if we're honest, everyone has rituals.  Its just that most of our rituals are subconscious things we do every day; we don't call it ritual, but it is.  Communion is a religious ritual with much meaning for our lives.  Its way more beneficial than all the subconscious secular rituals people perform every day.

An act of remembrance
"Do this in remembrance of Me".  Jesus tells us exactly what Communion is for.  Its to remind us of the sacrifice Jesus gave on the cross.  Its to remind us of our need of that sacrifice.  Unless we are in the "flesh" and "blood" of Christ, there's no life in us.  That flesh and blood symbolize the spiritual life of God.  Lest we forget the flesh and blood of Christ, we eat and drink symbols of that flesh and blood.  What an intimate commemoration of the greatest sacrifice ever given!  Not just a thought in our mind or a song on our lips, but bread and wine (grapejuice) that touch the lips and stir up the mind.

An act of worship
Every Sunday Christians sing songs to praise Jesus.  But Jesus did not say "sing songs in remembrance of Me".  Its good that we sing songs, since its written that everyone have a hymn ready for the gathering of saints, and we know the very first Christians sang in hymns every Sunday morning to worship Christ, who rose from the grave Sunday morning.  But if its good to sing songs, how much better is it to commemorate the sacrifice of Christ, which He actually did say "Do this in remembrance of Me"?

An act of obedience
Communion is not merely a tradition.  It is a tradition, going all the way back to the apostles.  But its not merely a tradition.  The Roman Catholic Church did not give us Communion.  In fact, Catholics do not observe Communion (I'll say more about that elsewhere).  Don't let anyone confuse Communion with Catholicism, or say that its merely tradition.  Christ Himself commanded it.  He was eager to eat the Last Supper with his disciples.  He was eager to break bread and say "take it, eat".  He was eager to say "This is my blood, poured out for many".  He proclaimed what was already determined, and how He would save all mankind from sin.  This was no small thing.   

An act of unity
When we observe Communion, its something we all do together.  I know there's many Christians in different time zones; the point is not that we all do it at the same time necessarily.  But we all do gather on Sunday morning, and we all do commemorate our Lord in Communion.  It is something we do together.  It is something that brings us together.  Even with so many denominations, observing the Lord's Supper is something we do agree on.  Sadly, some have neglected the Lord's Supper.  But for those that do commemorate it, it is done as one body.  The entire church as a whole observes it.  Its not an individual thing, its a churchwide thing.

An act of evangelism
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. 1Corinthians 11:26 ..  Communion is a way of speaking the gospel.  Its a way to bring attention to the cross.  Its a point of teaching as well.  Consider the children.. they ask: why do we do this?  That's the perfect opportunity for teaching the children what Communion is all about.

A spiritual act
Communion is spiritual.  The bread is not literally the body of Christ, and the grapejuice is not literally the blood of Christ.  But the bread and the grapejuice are not merely symbols either.  To think that they are merely symbols, that's almost as wrong as the Catholic belief in Transubstantiation.  Communion does have spiritual value.  A person is infused with the Spirit of God by partaking of the Lord's Table.  How so?  By calling to mind the sacrifice of Christ.  By worship.  By obedience to His command.  By everything that I have mentioned thusfar, and possibly things I haven't mentioned.  The observance of Communion goes well beyond the symbolic.  It is nourishment for the soul.  If you don't understand what I mean, spend three months at a church that faithfully observes Communion every Sunday.  Maybe you grew up in a church that neglected Communion.  Maybe it never caught on with you.  That's because you never really observed Communion.  Faithfully observe Communion for at least three months, then you'll understand what I mean when I say it is a spiritual act.

Now let me just say one thing that Communion is not.  As I already alluded to, Communion is not the Catholic Eucharist.  The Catholic Eucharist can best be described as food sacrificed to idols.  The Catholic Augustine, who modern-day Catholics like to quote, even made this point.  When Jesus said "unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53), He did not literally mean His flesh and blood.  That would be cannibalism.  Jesus is not talking about literal flesh and blood; Jesus is spiritual.  How do I know this?  While He was speaking to the same crowd of people, just moments later, He said "The Spirit is the One who gives life.  The flesh doesn't help at all.  The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life."  Now if the Catholics believe that they are literally eating the flesh and blood of Jesus, by Jesus' own words, that does them no good (even if Transubstantiation were true).  The "flesh counts for nothing", so we cannot have life in us by eating His flesh.  Then How?  The "Spirit gives life".  It is not the actual bread and wine (grapejuice) that give life; it is the act that gives life, because the act is spiritual.  Just as Jesus said "My words are spirit and life", so too the act, which Christ gave to us, is spiritual and life-giving.  Not the bread, not the wine, and certainly not Transubstantiation.  This false doctrine from the Roman Catholic Church is a hideous misunderstanding of Christ's words.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Three Jerusalems

Pre-Millennial Jerusalem
Millennial Jerusalem
The New Jerusalem

To describe these, my reasoning requires that I go in reverse order.  I have listed these in chronological order, in which the present Jerusalem is pre-millennial, and the furthest into the future is New Jerusalem.  However, I will start with the furthest into the future, the New Jerusalem, because it will explain the existence of both prior Jerusalems, and that will help us to understand what God is doing today.

The New Jerusalem: In a word, this is heaven.  In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, in which future events are predicted, God tells us that there will be a new Heaven, a new Earth and a new Jerusalem.  To reinforce this, in the prophet Isaiah, God already spoke of new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 66:22).  So what is the new Heaven, new Earth, new Jerusalem?  I don't know.  But what is clear, it will be new.  It will be totally different than the earth today.  The heavens will be totally different.  And the city itself will be unlike anything we have ever seen.  It is for that reason that I have no idea what it will be like.  I do know that the dimensions of the city have it being huge.  As wide as it is long, and as high as it is wide, it is either a cube or a pyramid, and its base is over half the size of the lower 48 States.  Consider, that is a city, not a country, the size of a large country, which would reach into space if it were located on this earth.  So I think its very fitting, if there's going to be a new heavenly city of that size, there must be a new earth.  If that city were on this earth, it would be very disproportional (the mass of it would distort the earth's rotation).  I am speaking speculatively, and I have no idea what I'm talking about, but it seems to me that the new earth would have to be at least 100 times larger than the present earth just to accommodate such a city.  The thing is, I have no idea if the language in Revelation is even talking about physical size.  It may be talking about something entirely different.  This should be enough to have you awe-struck like I am.  I would assume, as much as I have already assumed, that the size of the city would only be eclipsed by the glory of the city.  God Himself, in His heavenly glory, will reign inside the city.  I would guess the reason we do not have more detail than this in the book of Revelation is given to the fact that human words cannot do it justice.

Millennial Jerusalem: We should ask ourselves, why is there a New Jerusalem?  Why Jerusalem?  It is because of precedent.  It is because God, from that point in the future (or eternity), has already established Jerusalem.  The New Jerusalem is not the Millennial Jerusalem, but it is called "New Jerusalem", and not another name, because of the Millennial Jerusalem, the Pre-Millennial Jerusalem, and the Jerusalem where both of the ancient temples were built.  It is called "New Jerusalem" because the saints have already been familiar with Jerusalem.  Maybe you are not familiar with Jerusalem, because it has only just recently been repopulated by God's people.  But some day in the future Jerusalem will play an important role in the life and faith of all Christians.  It is for that reason that God names His heavenly city "New Jerusalem", even though the New Jerusalem will be totally different than the city of today; even though its address will be different, its size different, and itself quite different.  The New Jerusalem is a different city entirely, but it is given the same name.  I mention that to explain what God is about to do.  I start with the distant future and work my way back.  The Millennial Jerusalem is not the present Jerusalem, but it is the same address, on the same earth.  The present Jerusalem (Pre-Millennial Jerusalem) is the seed of the Millennial Jerusalem.  So what is the Millennial Jerusalem exactly?  It is the capital of the world during the Millennial Reign of Christ.  Jesus will rule the world, literally, as the Bible says "with an iron scepter".  This means that His rule will be absolute and firm.  Christ will be supreme King of the world, and Revelation says that saints will rule with Him.  As I have studied Revelation, I have come to the conclusion that it is not -all- the saints, but a certain group of saints.  These are the saints that are martyred in the great tribulation period, which precedes the second coming of Christ.  They die because they refuse to receive the mark of the beast, or to obey the antichrist.  They remain faithful to Christ, and they are martyred in the tribulation.  It is specifically these people who rule with Christ.  Who do they rule over?  The nations.  You see, no where in Revelation does it say that -all- people will be killed in the tribulation and second coming.  Certainly the vast majority will.  Probably 99.999% of the world's population will be killed.  But I believe there will be a few survivors, even of the multitude that receive the mark of the beast.  And it is out these survivors that the nations are repopulated (with high birth rates and a thousand years, it won't be hard).  It is these nations, which come out of the few survivors, who are ruled over by Christ and the saints (martyrs of the tribulation).  Now the saints have already died, and since it is appointed for everyone to die once, and since they have already been resurrected and received their immortal bodies, they are immortal.  They live and rule for the entire 1,000 years.  But as for the nations, they are not immortal.  They are mortal humans, just like us today.  They are born, they live for a span of time, they die.  They are given opportunity to be saved, like you and me, but their salvation is not guaranteed, like the saints.  Consider Revelation 20:7-9: Who are these nations that Satan deceived?  Certainly not saints who have already died in Christ.  These verses require two classes of people on the earth at the time of the Millennial Reign: the saints, and the nations.  As for the Millennial Jerusalem, the way I imagine it, even though its not specifically written in Scripture, is that its made up entirely of saints.  Those who are not immortal saints (the nations) are not allowed in it.  Christ Himself is there.  The city is made glorious beyond compare.  It is heaven on earth.  It is truly a city of angels.  And to be the precursor of the New Jerusalem, it has to be extremely glorious (yet still not reaching the level of New Jerusalem).

Pre-Millennial Jerusalem: Working our way from the future to the present, we have come almost to the present.  The Pre-Millennial Jerusalem is the Jerusalem of today, but it is also a future Jerusalem.  The Jerusalem of today has a future - a bright future - even before the Millennial Reign.  God has only -just begun- to rebuild Jerusalem.  Believe me, the work that God is doing in Israel, God has only just begun to do it.  There's more to come, folks.  There's a lot more to come, even before Christ returns.  How could the Jerusalem of today be the precursor of the Millennial Jerusalem?  The Millennial Jerusalem is so much greater and more glorious than any city on the earth today.  The Pre-Millennial Jerusalem is the seed of it; it is -there- that Christ sets up His throne.  So you better believe that the restoration of Jerusalem has only just begun.  There will be a third temple built in the not so distant future.  Christians and Jews will be united in faith; Jews will come to know their Messiah Jesus.  Jerusalem will be established as the capital of all Christendom.  It will not be controversial, or a question as to whether Jerusalem is the capital of all Christendom, but all Christians will agree with it and know it as an unquestionable fact.  Is it like that today?  Of course not.  Believe me, things will change.  What you see today is only a pre-shadow of the future glory of Jerusalem.  The city will be made great.  God will make the city great.  It is because of that - because the saints already know of Jerusalem as the capital of all Christendom - that Christ makes Jerusalem His capital during the Millennial Reign.  Or maybe its the other way around: the Pre-Millennial Jerusalem will become the capital of all Christendom, because Christ has already decided to make Jerusalem His capital during the Millennial Reign.  And why was the temple built in Jerusalem?  Why was it rebuilt in Jerusalem?  Why can the third temple only be built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem?  Is it not because of Providence?  Because God has pre-ordained it...  He has a plan, and its a big plan.

Do you see how it works?  Jerusalem began as just an ancient city.  It was chosen by God, in His eternal plan, before Jerusalem ever existed, and by Providence it has become a major city.  In the future it will be the greatest city on earth.  Do you see the progress?  It starts small and works it way to be larger and greater.  It starts humble, but some day there will be a New Jerusalem, which will be anything but humble.  Its just the way God likes to do things I guess... consider the beginning of the Church - started small, but is now global.

Consider these things for yourself.  Read and study Scripture.  May God bless you, friends, and May He give us wisdom, because He is the only source of good wisdom and virtue.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The City of God

God is the creator of heaven and earth, and everything in them.  When He made man, He made him in his own image.  There is no other reason needed to love man.  It is the greatest virtue to love God.  And since man is made in the image of God, it is a virtue to love man.  That is the founding principle of the city of God: love.

The city of God is the Church of Christ Jesus.  It consists of all those who have the Spirit of God in them.  And all of them are spread throughout the world.  It does not have physical boundaries.  All those who accept Christ are welcome in it, and it matters not their nationality or background.  It is a city on a hill.  It is a hill which is called heaven.  By this you should understand that its a heavenly city, which is invisible.  It is unlike any other city, because you cannot point to it on the map.  Other cities are physical; this city is spiritual and heavenly.

There is only one way to enter the city of God.  It is a narrow gate; Christ is the gate.  If you accept the words of Jesus, which are written in the Bible, then you are welcomed in the city.  But if you choose to be ignorant of those words, or you choose not to accept them, or you pretend to accept them but ignore them, or in any way reject the words of Jesus, then you have no part in the city of God.  It is essential to be a disciple of Jesus to be a citizen of God's city.  And it is essential to read, to keep and follow the words of Jesus to be a disciple of His.  And this is not hard: contained in those words are the greatest wisdom to ever be present on earth.  Contained in those words are life, and love, and peace, and joy, and many good things.  It is no burden to keep the words of Jesus, but rather an invigorating enlightenment.

Don't collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don't break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  -Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21 (HCSB)

Citizens of the city of God do not have to worry, among other things, of their wealth.  Here on earth the rich make investments, put their wealth in banks, or vaults, or hard assets.  Whatever they may do, they have to worry about protecting their wealth.  It can be stolen, or the value of investments can diminish.  A Christian does not have to worry about it.  While a Christian may be poor here on earth, it doesn't make much difference.  The follower of Christ focuses on doing the will of God, which will earn him rewards in heaven.  For one thing, those rewards cannot be stolen or lost.  And their value can never diminish.  For another, the return on investment is so much greater.  People put in so much effort to make money here on earth.  With less difficulty, and a focus on doing what pleases God, rewards of much greater value can be obtained in heaven.  This is one of many principles which lead to the prosperous soul of the saint.  Specifically what I mean in peace in the soul; a knowledge that something far greater awaits us.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.  -Jesus in Matthew 6:33 (HCSB)

It doesn't matter if a Christian loses his job.  An injury.  An ailment.  A breakup.  Hardship.  Even death.  None of that matters.  A Christian is not called to seek the things of this world: fame, fortune, happiness.  Even sorrow, to the Christian, is a blessing.  And everything, even hardships, are worked out for the good.  So we don't worry about what might happen tomorrow.  For even the worst thing that could happen is no problem for the Christian.  Whether or not it can be overcome (with the power of God anything can be overcome), it doesn't matter, because the worst that can happen to any person is death, and death is the best passing for a Christian.  So the worst that happens for a Christian is passing from this earth to heaven.  If the worst case scenario is heaven, what is there to worry about?  Citizens of the city of God leap, and fly, and giggle, for the simple fact that they have nothing to worry about.  It is a city of children.  It is as a sandbox, filled with lighthearted laughter and fun.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.  Galatians 5:22 (HCSB)

What makes the city of God heaven?  It is the fruit of the Spirit.  In every citizen there is the Spirit of God.  And that Spirit manifests Himself in good works, good character, excellent virtue.  Its a pleasant thing rubbing shoulders with people of lovely character.  Yet, where we are now, its not always the case.  There are people filled with the Spirit, and there are people lacking the Spirit.  But God gives us the strength to love even our enemies, and to overlook an offense.  It is for the Christian to take the high road.  When someone wrongs us, we turn the other cheek.  It is no weakness, but rather a strength.  To be at peace, and to shrug our shoulders, when others would be enraged and act out of anger, it is a strength.  It is the anger and rage which is weakness.

At the center of the city is Truth.  The streets are illuminated with God's word.  The foundations are laid by knowledge.  The binding of the Bible holds together Christians, as it holds together pages.  The name of the city is written: the New Jerusalem.  It is for those who love truth to enter: "I am the way and the truth and the life," said Jesus.  "No one comes to the Father except through Me."


About Me

Unimpressive in person. But always praying that these letters I write will be weighty and forceful. I serve the Almighty as a servant of Christ. I strive to conquer hearts and minds with the word of God. I am nothing, but the Holy Spirit living inside me is omnipotent. By Him I can run and not grow weary, or walk and not be faint. All glory and honor be to God and to Jesus the Christ.