Friday, July 30, 2010

Crisis Mode

Maybe we are just so used to earth shaking crises that we are quick to accept the media hype on the next big disaster. Or maybe we are all more susceptible to liberal agendas than we realize. Case in point: the BP Deep Water Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf. I certainly thought it was a major catastrophe. Indications are now that the Gulf oil spill was not as big an issue as we all thought.

It looks like the warmer temperatures and natural presence of oil-eating microbes in the warm gulf waters has made this spill less of a disaster than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. It is certainly good to know that this is not the beginning of an ecological Armageddon. It does foreshadow a disaster to come but it is hopefully many years away.

The bigger issue is why we were all so ready to see this spill as a major disaster. The trends in this world tell us we are headed for disaster so we are becoming conditioned to expect it. And this is not helped by the liberal government and media being quick to hype a crisis to in order to convince the public to accept the changes they want to foist on us. The liberal ruling class will get the public to accept fewer freedoms until they have total control because there are plenty of crises and rumors of crises for them to make use of in this time leading up to the Tribulation… As Jesus said in Matthew 24:8, “All these are the beginning of sorrows” (NKJ).

Liberals fear having Christians in power because they think we will make decisions that fulfill the end time prophecies. In reality, it is their decisions that are fulfilling prophecy. It is an amazing thing but I have observed the pattern that when people try to solve problems apart from God, they bring on the very consequences they are seeking to avoid.

The Gulf spill incident is a reminder to me that while the world is in crisis mode, there is no reason for followers of Christ to be caught up in it. It is comforting to remember Jesus’ promise, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Luke 21:33) which serves to reinforce this blessed promise: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). And there is also this…
“He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’ Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.” (Hebrews 12:26-27)

It helps to remember that my born again spirit is my assurance that I’m among those who will not be shaken.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Itching Ears

Columnist James Lambert had a hard time finding a pastor willing to speak out on California Proposition 19 which puts the legalization of marijuana to a vote. This reveals the apostasy of the church when church leaders are afraid to take a stand on a moral issue. And using marijuana is a moral issue because its use is generally an intoxicating escape from reality.

Pastors avoiding moral issues is not just an issue in California. For example, it is rare to hear a sermon on hell. There seems to be a concern among church leaders that it is not polite to make people uncomfortable. But that was not the attitude of Jesus when He was here. Jesus when out of His way to make people uncomfortable with their sinful condition...
"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." (Matthew 10:34-37, NKJ)

The Bible tells us there will be a falling away from faith in Christ among those professing to believe in Him. This will get so bad that Jesus asked, "when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8 NKJ). The church reveals a lack of faith in Christ when it compromises with the world. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

While Christendom is in a sorry state from a biblical perspective, God is still working through the church since followers of Jesus have the only solution for a doomed world. What the preponderance of pastors scratching the ears of their constituents reveals is that we are getting ever closer to the return of Christ.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

WikiLeaks Treason

Among the signs that we are in the perilous times leading up to the return of Christ is that traitors will be more common. This comes to mind from the news that the recent release of sensitive information on the Afghanistan war by online "whistleblower" WikiLeaks could undermine the U.S. mission there and bring harm to U.S. troops.

One of the factors causing there to be more traitors is the growth of the worldview that we need to be citizens of the world and thus distinctions between nations is holding us back. This motivates world citizens to undermine the United States so that this nation would have less power in the world and need to be more of a team player in the world's community of nations. Indeed this is the same mindset of the ten kings who will yield their sovereignty to the Antichrist... "These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast" (Revelation 17:13, NKJ).

Every day there are little reminders like this for the discerning that all things will not "continue as they were from the beginning of creation" (2 Peter 3:4).

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Nuclear Season

Given that we are in the time-frame leading up to the Tribulation, the next world-shaking event is due to happen some time soon. A good candidate for this is some nation using a nuclear weapon. This may be Israel against Iran and/or Syria but it is beginning to look like North Korea may be the first to release the nuclear genie. The North Koreans have threatened using a nuclear weapon as part of a “retaliatory sacred war” in response to the joint U.S. – South Korean war games.

There is a real sense that it is just a matter of time before nuclear weapons are used. Certainly there seems to be a rush amongst Islamic nations to have nuclear weapons. Besides Pakistan and Iran, we now know Turkey has been secretly pursuing nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia and Egypt have also expressed interest in acquiring nuclear weapons. Where there is smoke, there is fire and just a matter of time before some country uses a nuke preemptively before their enemies can get their own WMDs.

The use of a nuclear weapon by any nation will make it more likely that other nuclear weapons will be used. The results of such an action would be economic turmoil which would enable governments to enact the population control measures that are necessary for the coming world-wide totalitarian regime. We know that our government certainly will not let a good crisis go to waste.

Whether a North Korean nuclear attack on a U.S. Naval fleet or some other world shaking event happens, there is a real sense that we are on the cusp of some dramatic changes in the world. It is easy to dismiss projections of what could happen as being too fantastic to comprehend but the trends we are seeing coupled with what the Bible says is going to happen tells us that pretty incredible events have to happen eventually, if not this year than probably in 2012. Indeed, God said in Habakkuk 1:5, “Look among the nations and watch-- be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you” (NKJ).

I really believe that a great time for the Rapture of the Church to be during a time of world turmoil. The removal of the Church is necessary for the Antichrist to come on the scene at the beginning of the Tribulation (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8). It is wise to be ready, especially in this nuclear season.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pot versus Alcohol

It occurred to me that I should have elaborated more on the distinctions between alcohol and marijuana in yesterday’s blog post titled “Escaping Reality.” Another notable difference between alcohol and pot is that it is possible for the vast majority of people to drink in moderation. That is not the case with marijuana where a person may become functionally impaired from just one lungful of pot smoke.

It is possible to have one or two drinks without any degradation of performance as recognized by legal limits for blood alcohol content when driving. Certainly, alcohol is abused all the time and it can be every much an escape from reality as pot. People with a propensity for alcoholism shouldn’t even allow themselves one drink because this can tempt them to drink enough where they become impaired.

Many Christians are convicted that they should not drink any alcohol. I agree that should certainly be the case for alcoholics and when Christians are with an alcoholic. Romans 14:21 says, “It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak” (NKJ). That is why it is correct for churches not to advocate alcohol drinking in their social gatherings; we might have an alcoholic brother or sister in our midst and not be aware of it.

However, outside of church, I think that a drink or two socially can serve to break down barriers between people to advance the cause of Christ. The risk Christians have in abstinence is that this can be perceived as being a demonstration of “holier than thou” which does not help build relationships with others. Christian Legalism harms the Body of Christ because it leads people to think salvation requires one to earn favor with God. That is not the gospel of Christ; our good works do not save us, see Ephesians 2:8-9. And as Paul said…
“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-22)

Jesus certainly did not condemn drinking in moderation. Indeed He facilitated its use in social gatherings by turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-10). And He chose wine to represent His blood as one of the two key elements of the Lord’s Supper. The key here is moderation; Christians have freedom to use alcohol but when use becomes abuse, it is a sin. In contrast, no where in the Bible is the use of mind altering drugs advocated; indeed intoxication is condemned as sin.

It bears repeating that using anything to escape the reality of this mortal world is dangerous. And this danger increases as we get closer to the return of Jesus because the day will come when it will be too late to get on-board with God (see Proverbs 29:1). It is much better to look forward to the ultimate escape from this world… the Rapture will be a glorious beginning to our eternity with the Lord!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Escaping Reality

California keeps pushing the limits of the law to legalize marijuana. The latest development is the Oakland city council licensing pot factories. Before we dismiss this as “left coast lunacy,” it is hard to ignore that much of our popular culture originates in California because of the influence of Hollywood. And the economy in California is huge; it has been said that as California goes, so goes the nation.

Proponents of marijuana legalization point to the failures of alcohol Prohibition as justification. But there are differences because legalization of marijuana will vastly expand the base of new users. Prohibition attempted to alter the behavior of an already large base of alcohol users; a significantly different situation than with marijuana today.

If you step back from this and ask yourself why there is demand for legalizing marijuana, it comes down to seeking another means of escape from the realities of this world. This is dangerous to the soul when you understand that the realities of this world are intended to drive us to Jesus Christ as deliverer. Those who pin their hopes on a worldly deliverance from the distresses of their mortal lives are less inclined to seek Jesus. Thus using reality-escaping medication keeps us from fulfilling our purpose and potentially has serious eternal consequences. Indeed, the Bible warns us about the dangers of using mind altering substances… 1 Peter 5:8 says, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (NKJ).

As we get closer to the Tribulation there will be more and more reasons people will seek to escape reality. And the Bible tells us that the “war on drugs” will be lost. “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober (1 Thessalonians 5:6).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nation against Nation

I’m getting real tired of hearing liberals label conservatives as racists trying to squelch opposition like the tea party movement. Liberals are classic hypocrites often being guilty of the very thing they accuse others of. Their kind of vicious rhetoric actually stirs up racism when it would otherwise remain dormant. As my Daddy once told me, shit doesn’t stink unless you stir it.

It does however look like I need to buck up and accept that racial wars and rumors of racial wars are coming… they are a characteristic of the pre-tribulation age we are in. Jesus told us that preceding His return, “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7, NKJ). The original Greek word translated into English as “nation” is pronounced “ethnos.” It is pretty obvious that nations rising up against each other refer to races opposing each other. And we can expect to see these instances increasing in frequency and intensity like birth pangs as the Tribulation approaches.

The liberals in this country seem to be intent on stirring up racial animosities. I have been amazed at the pattern of secular humanists “inadvertently” bringing about the very consequences they are trying to avoid simply by trying to solve spiritual problems through human means. This is particularly concerning when you consider that these liberal race-baiters are in power in our government…

Case in point; there is a report that the President has approved a list of suspected terrorists for assassination abroad. This hit list includes "dozens of Americans" who "pose a threat" to the United States. American citizens are targeted for killings based exclusively on unchecked accusations and without due process of law. Now I think we should be tough on terrorism but not making a special distinction for American citizens is dangerous and will be abused. If tea partiers are effective in opposing Obama’s policies, it is just a matter of time before they too are considered by the government to be a threat to the United States.

One of the fruits of postmodernism is totalitarianism. We are already seeing the beginning of this. When words are subject to interpretation, the Constitution isn’t worth the paper it is written on. When we have massive bills passed into law that no one in Congress has read, the executive branch is free to interpret and enforce whatever they chose to. Congress is pretty much irrelevant. We are just one major crisis away from being governed by a dictatorship.

Please pray for our governmental leaders that God would help them with their spiritual needs. The only salvation for this country is in people turning to Jesus Christ. The best thing each of us can do as individuals is to be faithful in representing our Lord as the spiritual darkness grows in this world. Indications are that we will not have long to persevere; the Rapture will precede the dark days of the Tribulation… “for God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Thessalonians 5:9).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pre Trib Rapture Apologetics

Following my 7/9/10 post on the Pre Trib Rapture, I was asked to comment on various articles arguing that the pre-trib rapture view is a relatively recent populist idea. These arguments are disputed by others who do more than just a superficial investigation; see this article by Thomas Ice.

The Apostle Paul certainly believed that the Rapture was imminent (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). But even if it wasn’t clear that the early church expected the rapture to be pre-trib, that would not be reason to dismiss it… Daniel 12:4 says, “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (NKJ). So I expect our understanding about end-times events will increase as we get closer to their fulfillment.

My reaction to the articles arguing against the Pre-Trib Rapture I looked at is that we are better served to consider what Scripture actually says rather than just accepting what eloquent commentators have to say on a subject. That is the problem people get into when they think Scripture is not to be taken literally… they are dependent on commentators who take things out of context and spin interpretations to support their case. I include myself in this as a commentator… if something I write does not ring true; check it out in Scripture and point it out to me. I like finding apparent contradictions in Scripture; there are always things to learn from such discrepancies.

Since God used Bible prophecy to lead me to Christ, I have always had a special interest in the doctrine of the Rapture. So I checked out for myself the Scripture commentators used to support the various views on the timing of the Rapture. I became convinced that the pre-trib rapture doctrine is correct because I have found it to be derived from the most literal interpretation of Scripture. Jesus fulfilled prophecies about His first coming literally so we should expect His return to be fulfilled literally as well.

One verse that some Pre-Trib Rapture advocates often use to support their positions is Revelation 3:10: “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” A good example of an article that disputes that interpretation is here. I agree that Revelation 3:10 does not make the case for the Pre-Trib Rapture. No doctrine should be formed or rejected on the basis of one Scripture passage; instead doctrines should be established on the broader context of Scripture as a whole which means there should be multiple supporting passages. There is ample support for the Pre-Trib Rapture outside of Revelation 3:10.

I have found the pre-trib rapture doctrine to be a great blessing… “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13). If the Rapture does not precede the Tribulation, we are not looking for the Lord to return until the Antichrist emerges first. Being ready for the Lord to return at any moment gives us a sense of urgency to get on with what He has called us to do. And life in this world is much better looking for Jesus Christ rather than the Antichrist.

Monday, July 19, 2010


As I consider what is keeping people from responding to Christ these days, it seems to me that materialism is the biggest issue. Most materialists will deny that they even have this problem because they often associate this term with a love of money which they may not have... and it is easy to think you do not love something if you don't have much of it. But materialism is the belief that this material universe has always existed; as Carl Sagan articulated, "The cosmos is all there is, or was, or ever will be."

Even when materialists acknowledge the possibility that God directed evolution to bring about living things, they have a deistic view of God; that He just set things in motion and doesn't much care about what people think of Him. They deny that God created us for a reason and that failure to recognize our purpose to prepare for eternity comes with severe consequences. They justify their rationale with the retort, "why would a loving God send anyone to hell." But God does not send people to hell, people chose eternal separation from Him when they refuse to accept Jesus Christ as His provision for salvation; see John 3:18. The root problem of course is sin... loving yourself so much that you refuse to acknowledge any authority in your life other than yourself.

Materialists reject the simple logic of "Pascal's Wager" which challenges us to weigh the potential upside against the downside of believing the Bible assuming it really does turn out to be from God. Betting against the Bible being true has the severest of consequences while wagering that the Bible is true leads to eternal blessings. It is simply illogical not to take a chance on believing the Bible. Materialists insist on entertaining a myriad of potential explanations for the universe instead of recognizing the truth of God's Word for what it is: the Creator reaching out to His creation so that we may know Him.

Materialists see the negative trends of this world and are hopeful that things will work out OK anyway... they always have in the past; indeed, "all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation" (2 Peter 3:4, NKJ). But God poured out His wrath on the earth in the worldwide flood of Noah's day and has warned us about the time He will judge the nations during the Tribulation. Materialists do not recognize the evidence for the worldwide flood and instead hold to their belief that "the fossil record" was built up over great periods of time instead of the result of a single cataclysmic event. So materialists are headed for a rude awakening some day and indications are that this day is rapidly approaching.

The good news for materialists is that if they are still alive, it is not too late to "come out from among them and be separate" (2 Corinthians 6:17). We don't have to suffer the fate of the broad majority of this world (Matthew 7:13-14). Our mortal lives is a test to see who will turn away from our predisposition of putting ourselves ahead of God. The decision of where we spend eternity is ours to make... "unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3).

As a former materialist for most of my life myself, I can testify that knowing Jesus Christ does indeed lead to an abundant life (John 10:10); even in the here and now. Those who don't know Him don't know what they are missing. It behooves everyone to, “taste and see that the Lord is good” as Psalm 34:8 invites us to do.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The “Resurrected” Antichrist

A popular expectation for the Antichrist is that he will be resurrected from the dead. People get that from Revelation 13:12 which says the Antichrist’s “deadly wound was healed.” It is likely that rather than referring to the person of the Antichrist, this healed wound pertains to the kingdom of the Antichrist since it is in context with Revelation 13:1-3 which clearly refers to an empire that has been revived.

However, it would not surprise me if there were not some sort of deception associated with the Antichrist that he would be some person from long-past history. Jesus proved that He was the Son of God by His resurrection. Satan will be compelled to pull off some stunt for his man that could be seen as equally remarkable. Satan is not God so he does not have power to give life but he likes to masquerade as being from God; “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14, NKJ).

Another reason I would not be surprised if some sort of resurrection or reincarnation might be among the Antichrist’s credentials is that this is consistent with what Muslims expect for their messiah. The more I consider the idea that the Antichrist will be a Muslim, the more I find this helps explain the geopolitical trends of our times. Muslims disagree on many details of their religion but they are all looking for a deliverer to come who will unite the world under Islam.

Most Muslims expect their messiah to be someone born of the Prophet Muhammad’s family. But “Twelfther” Shiites like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have a more specific expectation that their messiah to be the Twelfth Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi who was born in 869 A.D. Tradition has it that the Twelfth Imam did not die but was hidden by God so Twelfthers expect he will reemerge in the midst of a great Jihad. That is why Ahmadinejad wants to incite an existential war with Israel.

Jesus warned that there would be great deception during the Tribulation… “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:5). If there will be false christs during that time, another potential scenario is that there could be a false Muhammad. What better candidate for the Muslim messiah than a “resurrected” Muhammad. I think it is highly likely that during the Tribulation someone claiming to be Jesus Christ will come on the scene saying he is only a prophet and not the Son of God but people should worship the “resurrected” Muhammad who is. Muslims certainly expect Jesus to put in an appearance in conjunction with the last Jihad.

Certainly some of this is speculation but it is consistent with what the Bible tells us about the Antichrist and False Prophet as well as what Muslims have been taught to believe. And this scenario is reinforced by the geopolitical trends we are seeing today. There is no question that the world is in for some serious changes in the not-too-distant future.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Will the Antichrist be a Jew?

It is easy to dismiss as irrelevant questions about the Antichrist’s various characteristics because the Church will not be around when the Antichrist comes to power anyway. However, these are useful questions to consider because we will be around for the birth pangs of the Tribulation…

It helps us to better understand our times when we see the world’s geopolitical environment becoming aligned with what the Bible tells us about the Tribulation. And this helps the representatives of God to know what we should be doing as, “the children of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32, NKJ).

Many have thought that the Antichrist would be a Jew because Jesus said, “I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another shall come in his own name, you will receive him” (John 5:43). It is hard to imagine the Jews accepting anyone but Jews as their Messiah. But Scripture does not say the Jews will think the Antichrist to be the Messiah. They will put their trust in him as a great political leader until he reveals who he is to them by desecrating the yet-to-be-built Jewish Temple (Daniel 9:27).

The Bible in fact represents the Antichrist as a Gentile. Revelation 13:1 illustrates him as a “beast coming up out of the sea.” The sea is a consistent symbol of the Gentile nations in the prophetic Scriptures; some good examples are Daniel 7:3, Luke 21:25, and Revelation 17:1.

However, Scripture does describe the Antichrist's chief promoter, the False Prophet, as a Jew. Revelation 13:11 says the Apostle John saw, “another beast coming up out of the earth.” The earth is the land which is associated with Israel. I actually expect the False Prophet to claim to be a specific Jew: Jesus Christ. Jesus warned that, “many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:5).

The idea that the Antichrist would be a Jew also conflicts with other indications in Scripture that he would be a Muslim. It is interesting to note that this line of thinking is consistent with the Muslim belief that Jesus would return to convince “Christians” to worship the Islamic messiah, al-Mahdi. The False Prophet will claim to be Jesus Christ and thus will have to be a Jew to support that claim.

Among the major Tribulation stage setting developments we see taking shape today are the world community of nations ostracizing Israel and moving closer to a global government. These trends are consistent with what the Bible says we can expect in the lineage of the Antichrist. Details matter and the more we see the peaces fit together, the closer we know we are to Jesus returning for us because “knowledge shall increase” at “the time of the end” (Daniel 12:4).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Multiple Judgments

People don’t like to give much thought to the return of Christ because they know it is associated with God’s judgment. A lot of the fear and loathing for God’s judgment comes from the misconception that this is a single event. But Scripture tells us there are different judgments associated with multiple resurrections.

Those who look forward to Jesus returning know that they will not be judged for their sins. That judgment already happened when Jesus died on the cross on behalf of all who trust in Him. Hebrews 9:28 says, “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (NKJ).

While believers will not be judged for our sins, we will be judged, “for God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). All of us will have an ultimate performance review; Romans 14:12 says, “each of us shall give account of himself to God.” God will judge believers for what we have done to advance His kingdom. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 describes this judgment:

“No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

The purpose for God judging His followers will be to determine our reward. That is why sin-forgiven believers don’t do just any wild thing that enters their mind because we know we will be judged for what we do and we don’t want to lose any of the reward God has in mind for us. Not only will God judge the quantity and quality of our works; He will also consider our motivations. 1 Corinthians 4:5 says, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts.” Many good works will merit no eternal reward because their motivation was to be “seen by men” and thus their reward was already received (Matthew 6:5).

The Bible says our rewards will include crowns (2 Timothy 4:8) and apparel (Revelation 19:8) which reveal how much we have contributed to God’s Kingdom. But as the parables of the talents and minas reveal, we will also be rewarded with a greater capacity to participate in what the Lord will be doing in eternity (Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:12-27). Just being in heaven will be great but our experience will be enhanced by having more authority there which only comes as a reward for our good works in the here and now.

Our rewards in heaven will become apparent at “the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Our rewards ceremony takes place at the marriage supper of the Lamb… “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:7-8).

The judgment you don’t want to be a defendant in is the Great White Throne judgment…
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15)

As there will be degrees of rewards for the good works of Jesus-followers, there will also be degrees of punishment for unbelievers. Luke 12:47-48 says, “that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few.” Jesus also said in Luke 20:46-47 that those who make a great show of their piety, “will receive greater condemnation.”

So everyone will be judged for their good works and will receive rewards (or lesser punishment) as a result. The most important question is whether you will experience these results in the Lord’s presence or separated from Him for eternity. As Jesus said, “behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Revelation 22:12). We are here to prepare for eternity, making sure we spend eternity with the Savior by believing that He paid the penalty for our sins when He died on the cross is the most important thing we can do.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Multiple Resurrections

One reason why so many Christians have a wrong view of the timing of the Rapture is that they assume there will only be one resurrection event “at the end of time.” This comes from either a superficial regard for Scripture or a failure to take literally what Scripture says. Either way, such error is a symptom of unbelief.

The passage that most clear reveals there will be multiple resurrections is 1 Corinthians 15:20-24:
“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.” (NKJ)
The harvest imagery is used here to help us better understand the sequence. Jesus was the firstfruits of the resurrection. In the Law God gave Israel, the firstfruits of the harvest were always offered as a sacrifice to God and this was certainly the case with Jesus going to the cross. The main harvest resurrection is the Rapture we look forward to in the Church Age. And in the Hebrew Law there were to be gleanings that followed the main harvest; see Leviticus 19:9.

Among the resurrection gleanings to be harvested will be those who come to Christ during the Tribulation and are killed for their faith. Revelation 20:4 says, “Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” Thus this group is resurrected either during the course of the Tribulation or at the end of the Tribulation prior to the Millennial reign of Christ on earth.

Another resurrection gleaning will be the Old Testament saints. Daniel 12:1-2 says:
“At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
The “time of trouble” is the Tribulation. While two-thirds of the world’s Jews are killed during the Tribulation (Zechariah 13:8-9), God preserves a third of Israel to enter His Millennial Kingdom. The Old Testament saints will be resurrected to join in the Millennial Kingdom. This passage seems to indicate that those who lived in Old Testament times that did not have faith in the Lord are resurrected at that time as well but Revelation 20:13 indicates that the unredeemed are all resurrected together at the end of the Millennial Kingdom.

Many are surprised that the Church Age saints are resurrected ahead of the Old Testament saints but this is clearly taught in Scripture. Jesus did say, “the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16).

There will not be a resurrection of believers who survive the Tribulation or are born during the Millennial Kingdom because they will not die. In context Isaiah 65:22 has to be referring to the Millennial Kingdom and it says, “for as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people.” There are many trees that live over a thousand years old. I take it that these believers will be translated into their eternal bodies when God ushers in the eternal state: “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up… according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:10-13).

Scripture teaches us that there are two types of resurrections, the just and the unjust: “there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15). Jesus put it this way in John 5:28-29, “the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth-- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” While the resurrection of life occurs in multiple phases, the resurrection of condemnation occurs at one time…

The resurrection of condemnation is further described in Revelation 20:12-13:
“And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.”
The resurrection of condemnation is the last resurrection and based on the context in the book of Revelation, it occurs at the end of the Millennial reign of Christ and the beginning of the eternal state.

You don’t want to be in the last resurrection because all who are judged for salvation on the basis of their works will spend eternity separated from God in the lake of fire. If you have not previously trusted that the work of Jesus on the cross has paid the penalty for your sins, now would be a good time to do that… “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pre-Trib Rapture Benefits

Having a correct understanding of the order of key End Times events is essential to be able to “discern the signs of the times” as Jesus expects us to be able to do per Matthew 16:3. The Rapture of the Church that concludes the current Age of Grace is the next major event in Bible prophecy. The term “Rapture” is derived from the Latin word for “caught up” used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. At the Rapture, true Christians will be instantly changed into resurrected bodies when Jesus comes for us (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

Alternative views about the timing of the Rapture have it occurring during the Great Tribulation, after it, or at the end of the millennial reign of Christ. But all these views put the Church in the dubious position of looking for the Antichrist rather than our Lord (see Matthew 25:1-13). Both the Great Tribulation and the millennial reign of Christ have very clear periods of time tied to certain key events. If the return of the Lord for His Church was directly associated with the Tribulation, it would not be imminent and it would be possible to have a pretty good idea when it will happen.

Living with an expectation that Jesus could return for us at any moment is strong medicine against procrastination about what God is calling us to do (or rationalizing about what we should not do). One of the paradoxes of the Christian faith is that we must live as if the Lord is returning today and also be executing a plan that recognizes He may not come back during our life time.

Thinking that the Church will have to go through some or all of the Great Tribulation has turned some people into survivalists stock-piling weapons and food in anticipation. Now having a ready reserve is wise because there will be birth pangs foreshadowing the Tribulation but hoarding enough to make it through that time-period rises to the level of sin. This is a dangerous doctrine because it teaches people to depend on their own resources for deliverance rather than the power of God.

Another dangerous doctrine is thinking that the Church has replaced Israel in the promises of God. This is one of the roots of anti-Semitism which is devil-inspired and it keeps people from discerning prophetic truth. Anti-Semitism is a key sign of the End Times… “it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:3).

It isn't necessary to agree with a particular timing of the Rapture to be saved. What is important is putting your trust in Jesus Christ, "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). If you haven't already yielded to this call, don't put it off. The Bible is clear that there will come a time when it will be too late (Matthew 24:36-44).

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pre-Tribulation Rapture

It occurred to me that no where has the News Wisdom blog made the case for the Rapture of the Church occurring prior to the Tribulation. This post should remedy that…

There are no prophetic events which must occur before the Rapture. This is the doctrine of imminence which says the Lord could return for His Bride, the Church, at any moment. As Jesus said, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42, NKJ).

The Apostle Paul certainly believed the Rapture to be imminent. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 says, “the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” Paul expected to be included among those who would not face death and be taken in the Rapture when he said, “we who are still alive and left…”

Among the reasons the Rapture must happen before the 70th week of Daniel is that it is a comfort to the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:18) as our blessed hope (Titus 2:13). It wouldn't be much of a comfort knowing that we might have to suffer through the Great Tribulation first. We are comforted knowing that "God did not appoint us to wrath" (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

The first century Christians expected Jesus to return at any moment even then. The Apostle Paul wrote the second epistle to the Thessalonians to put their minds at ease that their persecution was not the Great Tribulation which would have meant they missed the Rapture as described in his first epistle. A key verse reinforcing the pre-Trib Rapture is 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 which tells us the Holy Spirit Who indwells the Church restrains the lawlessness in the world. Once the Lord removes the Church from the planet, the restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit will be removed with us and the Lawless One who is the Antichrist will be permitted to come to power.

Jesus is coming back in two phases, first for His Church and next to establish His Kingdom on earth. The significant differences between these two phases can only be explained as two separate events; it is impossible to reconcile them as the same event. At the Rapture, only believers will see Jesus (Hebrews 9:28); at His Second Coming all people will see Him (Revelation 1:7). At the Rapture, we’ll meet Jesus in the air (1Thessalonians 4:17); at His 2nd coming, Jesus will set foot on earth (Zechariah 14:4). At the Rapture, all believers are resurrected (Colossians 3:4); at the 2nd coming, no one is resurrected (1Thessalonians 3:13). At the Rapture, the works of believers are judged 1 Peter 1:7); at the 2nd coming, the nations are judged (Matthew 25:31-32). As I already mentioned in the doctrine of imminence, the Rapture is not predictable (1 Thessalonians 5:2); the 2nd coming is associated with key events that have time-frames given for them (Daniel 12:11-13). There are many passages referring to timing of the Rapture as being before the Tribulation such as Revelation 3:10 while the 2nd coming of Jesus is shown to be afterwards like Revelation 19:11.

In addition to these distinctions, there are prophetic types in Scripture that reinforce the idea of a pre-Tribulation Rapture. For example, embedded within the genealogies of Genesis, we see that, “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). Enoch did not die; God took him to heaven prior to pouring out His wrath on earth in the world-wide flood. God protected Noah’s family as he will protect Israel during the Tribulation but Enoch represented the Church who will not see God’s wrath on the earth.

Another type was seen in the vision God gave the Apostle John… “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this’” (Revelation 4:1). This occurs after the letters to the seven churches which were chosen by God to describe the history of the church. We know that the book of Revelation is in chronological order because God told John to “write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this” (Revelation 1:19). The idea that John being called up to heaven is a type of the Rapture is reinforced in the fact that the Church is not referred to except as being in heaven between the Revelation 4:1 Rapture passage and Christ’s return to earth in Revelation 19.

Knowing that there are no prophetic events that must precede the Rapture makes it a great blessing. As bad as things get in this world, we are just a heartbeat away from a wonderful future with Jesus… “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Deception Channels

While the viewer ratings of mainstream media outlets have been dropping for years, a huge portion of the population continue to trust these traditional news sources. Most people do not appreciate how much the liberal bias of the mainstream media taints their reporting. Case in point: people who get their news from the mainstream media will have no idea that President Obama wants NASA to spend its efforts reaching out to Muslims to make them feel good about their lack of technological achievements. This revelation should have ignited a firestorm of reporting but has been met with silence from the mainstream media... because it just doesn't fit the politically correct image that the media has made for our president.

This is why most people will be surprised by the developments related to the return of Christ. Any time you don't have an accurate view of the world, events that don't fit your world view will not be expected. In order to avoid being deceived, it is necessary to have a good working knowledge of the prophetic Shriptures... "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief" (1Thessalonians 5:4, NKJ).

Today's deceptions of the mainstream media foreshadow the even greater deceptions of the Antichrist during the Tribulation. "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24). The Tribulation news media will certainly represent the Antichrist for something other than what he really is. The practice they are getting with our president is setting the stage for that dark service during the Tribulation.

"Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36)>

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Coming Tyranny

One characteristic of totalitarian control by tyrannical dictators is that they can not tolerate dissent. So it is a bit disconcerting to hear that one U.S. government agency, the TSA, is taking steps to prevent their computers from accessing web sites that express a “controversial opinion.” It is not clear how they will determine what constitutes a “controversial opinion” but this is clearly a step that nibbles away at the free speech we have enjoyed in this country.

Many will dismiss the TSA blocking controversial opinions from their employees as only a small loss of free speech that doesn’t affect them. But it reveals an attitude by our government that they will not tolerate dissenting opinions. All it will take is an appropriate crisis and such control will be fanned out to the public at large. Indeed, a new U.S. Senate bill would grant the president far-reaching emergency powers to seize control of or even shut down portions of the Internet. All they need is a good crisis that they can’t let go to waste. And with the increasing birth pangs of the Tribulation, it will not be long before they will have to wait for an appropriate crisis.

The government of the Antichrist will certainly be tyrannical… Daniel 7:7 describes it as, “a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet” (NKJ). The erosion of the freedoms we have enjoyed in this country foreshadows the Tribulation to come which will be significantly worse. It is a good thing for today's followers of Jesus that Scripture tells us the Rapture will occur ahead of the Tribulation.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

NASA’s New Mission

The United States going to the moon was a great achievement that rallied us around a national goal and enabled technologies that have benefited mankind. But since then, I’ve had a sense that NASA has been “workfare” for rocket scientists. NASA no longer has a critical mission that serves mankind and thus is struggling to find a reason to exist. The demise of NASA is symptomatic of the problems with big government that can not reduce is bloated budget.

Proof that NASA no longer has a critical mission that serves mankind is seen in recent comments by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden that his "foremost" mission as the head of America's space exploration agency is to improve relations with the Muslim world. Bolden went on to explain that President Obama assigned this mission to him when he took the job in overseeing NASA.

We live in amazing times. This incident is just one more thing that shows the extent to which Islam has increased in significance in this country since September 11, 2001. Such developments reinforce my understanding from Scripture that Islam has a critical role to play in the coming Tribulation. The growth of Islam and its progress toward getting others to reach out to them is nothing short of amazing. This success is supernatural and the sort of thing that will so astonish people during the Tribulation that they will say, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” (Revelation 13:4, NKJ).

It is hard to imagine seeing all that is going on in this world today and not being a follower of Jesus. In order to keep from being depressed, one would have to pretty much live in denial that our governmental officials really are as inept as they appear to be. I guess this is how a postmodern perspective helps; you don’t have to believe that what a person says really reflects the actions they will take.

For me, the down side to all the silliness going on in the world today is that it is getting increasingly hard for me to plan for the future since there is so much change on the horizon. The upside is that any planning very far out is very likely to be mute anyway; the day followers of Jesus will be with Him is fast approaching… Come soon Lord Jesus; this world sorely needs You!

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Coming Persecution

It is well known that converts to Christianity are not tolerated in Islamic nations. These are among the darkest places on earth with the Bible being banned and missionaries being barred from preaching God’s Word under threat of death. Yet despite this, people even in these countries are turning to Jesus for salvation even by direct revelation because God is sovereign and, as Jesus said, “all that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37, NKJ).

Jesus warned us to expect persecution as a result of following Him; He said, “a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). This persecution will reach a climax during the last half of the Tribulation. Speaking of the Antichrist, Daniel 7:25 says, “he shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.” Persecuting Christians is a symptom of the spirit of Antichrist.

The United States has been a beacon of religious freedom in the world. That is the reason we were founded and why people want to come here more than anywhere else in the world. But as we get closer to the end of the Age of Grace, there is growing discrimination against Christians in this country. This is how persecution begins, by excluding a group of people on the basis of some characteristic, in this case a belief. The conviction that a personal relationship with Jesus is the only way to heaven can not be tolerated in this postmodern era where all opinions must have equal value.

Every day there is more evidence that Christians are being excluded from the religious freedom upon which this nation was founded. A Florida school has banned the free distribution of donated Bibles during off-hours on Religious Freedom Day claiming they have no educational value. I can’t imagine them doing the same thing regarding the Koran. In an even more consequential case, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a ruling by a lower court that the Hastings College of the Law (part of the University of California) may deny recognition of the Christian Legal Society student group because it required accepting a statement of faith to be a member. CLS has been the only group ever denied recognition by the school.

A lot of people will dismiss these developments as minor but they are significant for the discerning with a biblical worldview. Christians are under increasing assault in the country that has been the primary impetus for religious freedom on earth. I thank God for the freedoms we still have in this country and incidents such as these only encourage me to step up my efforts to help people to know Jesus while I can. As Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Discerning the Times

When religious authorities asked Jesus for proof that He was the Messiah, He rebuked them for not being able to discern the signs of the times…
“Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red'; and in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." And He left them and departed.” (Matthew 16:1-4, NKJ)
Jesus effectively told the sign seekers that if the miracle of His resurrection did not convince them, nothing would. Unfortunately miracles do not convert people as Abraham told the certain rich man who wanted Lazarus to warn his brothers about eternal consequences: “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31).

In order to discern the signs if the times, it is necessary to know God’s Word and believe it. The only way to believe God’s Word is to know Him. Only those who know God through Jesus Christ have a correct understanding of who He is (John 14:6). And this is necessary to appreciate that God is Almighty enough to declare “the end from the beginning” in His Word (Isaiah 46:10).

As even religious people missed recognizing Jesus as the Messiah because of their inability to discern the times when He was here the first time; so too will there be people who think they are Christians left behind at the Rapture. I’d expect the Rapture to shake many of them up enough that they would become believers but there will be a convincing enough explanation that most will embrace (2 Thessalonians 2:11).

We live in "perilous times" (2 Timothy 3:1). Don’t think you can skate by having only a superficial relationship with Jesus. There are great deceptions coming… “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). The only way to prepare for such times is to have a good working understanding of God’s Word. It is an exciting time to be alive for those truly alive through Jesus Christ.