Saturday, February 28, 2015

SALVATION: BELIEVING THE GOSPEL

Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Gospel, that is, the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it.  It is this Good News alone that has the power to save you (Rom. 1:16)!  Yes, it is our faith in the truth of the Gospel message that saves us.  And having believed the Good News, our lives have been changed from within; we are new beings; we see things from a whole new perspective (2 Cor. 3:18; 5:17; etc.)!  God has become our Father and He has taken it upon Himself to transform us into the very beings He created us to be (Rom. 8:15; Phil. 1:6; 1 Jn. 3:2; etc.)!  If you truly believe this message of the grace of God, you can know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are saved; John wrote:  "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life..." (1 Jn. 5:13)!  I have called salvation "the grace of God," because it is a gift, not something to be earned by your efforts to live a holy life (Rom. 5:15-18; 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9; etc.)! 

I want to pass on to you, that which is the most important, the most powerful, life-changing event in recorded history:  Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said He would (Ps. 22; Isa. 53; Lk. 24:25-27; etc.). He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said He would!  He was seen by Peter, and then by "the Twelve."  After that, He appeared to more than five hundred people who believe in Him, most of whom were still alive when the Apostle Paul wrote these facts (1 Cor. 15:6).  After that, He was seen by James and later by all the apostles.  Last of all, as though he had been born at the wrong time, Paul also saw Him.  Paul, humbled by his encounter with Jesus as he traveled to Damascus to catch believers in Christ (Acts 9:1-8), described himself as "the least of all the apostles" (1 Cor. 15:9).  He continued by saying, "In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church" (v. 9 - NLT).

The two paragraphs above are my interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:1-9.  A little over forty-four years ago, I, as a foolish atheist, also came to faith in Jesus Christ.  God had moved a young man in California to mail me a pocket New Testament; He had moved a middle-aged man to witness to me in Florida; and He made sure my children left the TV on a station with a church service on from Mobile (Alabama).  He moved the preacher to state that his sermon was from Matthew twenty-five, the one and only chapter of the Bible I had ever read, and "coincidentally," I had read it the night before! 

That definitely got my attention!  After listening to two more sermons by preachers, the last being Rex Humbard from the Cathedral of Tomorrow in Akron, Ohio, I knelt in my living room and placed my faith in Jesus Christ.  I immediately was aware of three things:  my sins were forgiven, the Bible was the Word of God, and that I would spent the rest of my life sharing Him with others.  I actually was able to attend Bible College and Seminary, and was called to be a pastor for a while.  Praise God for both the calling, and the release from it!

I am now retired due to health issues, but Lord willing, I will continue to share my faith through this miracle of the internet!  Please feel free to copy, to share, and to pray for my faithfulness in service to the King of kings and the Lord of lords!  God bless you and use you for His glory!  Amen!

Friday, February 27, 2015

THE END OF THE UNHOLY TRINITY (REV. 19:11-20:10)

THEN I saw heaven opened, and beheld a white horse. Its rider was named FAITHFUL AND TRUE, for He judges fairly and wages a righteous war.  His eyes were like flames of fire, and on His head were many crowns.  A name was written on Him that no one understood except Himself.  He wore a robe dipped in blood, and His title was THE WORD OF GOD.  The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed Him on white horses.  From His mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations.  He will rule them with an iron rod.  He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress.  On His robe at His thigh was written this title:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS!
THEN I saw an angel standing in the sun, shouting to the vultures flying high in the sky:  Come! Gather together for the great banquet God has prepared.  Come and eat the flesh of kings, generals, and strong warriors; of horses and their riders; and of all humanity, both free and slave, small and great.
THEN I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the One sitting on the horse and His army.  And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast; miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast, and who worshiped his statue.  Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfurTheir entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the One riding the white horse.  And the vultures all gorged themselves on the dead bodies.
THEN I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan, and bound him in chains for a thousand years.  The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished.
THEN I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge.  And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming THE WORD OF GOD.  They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.  This is the first resurrection.  The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.  Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection.  For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him a thousand years.  
THEN, when the MELLENNIUM comes to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison.  He will go out to deceive the nations, called Gog and Magog, in every corner of the earth.  He will gather them together for battle, a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city.  But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them.
THEN the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

JESUS, OUR CREATOR, SAVIOR, LORD, AND THE SON OF GOD, WINS!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

DURING THE FIRST THREE AND A HALF YEARS

Many have been saying that the beheadings, crucifixions, and burning to death of Middle Eastern Christians, is proof that we are already living in the time of the Tribulation.  They support their claim by referencing Matthew 24:9 which says, "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name's sake." 

But like most errors in Bible interpretation, they have failed to compare Scripture with Scripture.  Parallel versions of the Lord's Olivet Discourse clarify who the "they" are.  Mark 13:9 says, "But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them."  "They" refers to Jews who will be persecuting Christians, not in the Tribulation Temple, because, based upon the timing of these persecutions, it is not yet completed; hence, the attack on believers will take place in the synagogues! 

And Luke's Gospel reads, "But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake" (21:12).  Here, Luke tells us that these persecutions happen BEFORE the rest of the signs of the end of the age and Christ's Second Coming.  That means they will occur following the Rapture; these believers, quite possibly, could be the members of the Laodicean Church mentioned in Revelation 3:14-22.  They, like many who sit in church pews every Lord's Day, are religious, members of the religion known as Christianity, but they are not born again.  When the Rapture occurs, the majority of professing Christians will suddenly realize that their religiousness was worthless.  They needed to trust in the finished work of Jesus, and not in their own religious "do's and don't's! 

The peace treaty between the Antichrist and Israel, will allow them to have complete rule over their land (Dan. 9:27; Mt. 24:3-14; Rev. 6:1-12:1; etc.).  During that time, there will be two witnesses who proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the first half of the Tribulation (Rev. 11:3).  We are told that the entire world is troubled by these two powerful servants of God, and they rejoice when they are killed (Rev. 11:9-10 - especially the Jews)!  However, after God raises them to life, and after they are "raptured," Then the Abomination of Desolation occurs and Israel's eyes are opened (Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; Mt. 24:15; Rev. 13:1-18; etc.)!


What we see now, is persecution by Muslims, not Jews! 
The Rapture has not yet happened.  But it may soon, even today!


 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"DO" ALWAYS FALLS SHORT OF SALVATION

"There is a wide difference between your religion and mine," said a Christian lady to one in whose spiritual condition she had long been interested. "Indeed," said he, "how is that?" "Your religion," she replied, "has only two letters in it, and mine has four." It seems that this gentleman was one of that numerous class seeking to get to heaven by their doings, by attention to ordinances and ceremonies, by what the apostle, in the ninth of Hebrews, terms "dead works." But he did not understand about the "two letters" or the "four." His friend had often spoken to him, and on the occasion to which our anecdote refers she had called to take her leave of him for some time, as she was about to go from home. "What do you mean," said he, "by two letters and four?"
 
"Why, your religion," said the lady, "is d-o DO; whereas mine is D-O-N-E." This was all that passed. The lady took her leave; but her words remained and did their work in the soul of her friend--a revolutionary work, verily. The entire current of his thoughts was changed. Do is one thing; done is quite another. The former is legalism; the latter is Christianity. It was a novel and very original mode of putting the gospel; but it was just the mode for a legalist, and the Spirit of God used it in the conversion of this gentleman. When he next met his friend, he said to her, "Well, I can now say with you that my religion is d-o-n-e, DONE.." He had learned to fling aside the deadly doings, and rest in the finished work of Christ. He was led to see that it was no longer what he could do for God, but what God had done for him.
 
This settled everything. The four golden letters shone under the gaze of his emancipated soul, "d-o-n-e." Precious letters! Precious word! Who can tell the relief to a burdened heart when it discovers that all is done? What joy to know that what I have been toiling for, it may be many a long year, was all done nearly 2000 years ago, on the cross! Christ has done all. He has put away sin; magnified the claims of divine justice; vanquished Satan; taken the sting from death and the victory from the grave; glorified God in the very scene in which He had been dishonored; brought in everlasting righteousness. All this is wrapped up in these four golden letters, "d-o-n-e." Oh, who would not give up the two for the four? Who would not exchange "do" for "done"?
 
Reader, what say you to this? What of your religion? Does it consist of two letters or four? Is it still "do" with you? or have you found your happy portion and rest in "done"? Do you think of it, dear friend--think deeply--think seriously--and may God's Spirit lead you, this moment, to cease from your own "do," and to rest in Christ's eternal "done."                    
(by C.H.Mackintosh, 1820-1896)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

THE GODHEAD: THE THREE IN ONE

Matthew 3:16-17 - "And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him:  and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Matthew 28:19 - "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

John 14:16 - "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever."

Acts 2:32-33 - "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.  Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear."

Romans 5:5-6 - "...the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.  For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly."

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 - "Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts."

2 Corinthians 13:14 - "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."

Ephesians 4:4-6 - "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."

Philippians 3:3 - "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."

1 Thessalonians 5:18-19 - "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  Quench not the Spirit."

Hebrews 9:14 - "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"

1 John 4:2 - "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God."

1 John 5:7 - "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and THESE THREE ARE ONE!"

Monday, February 23, 2015

THERE IS BUT ONE GOSPEL

The ONE Gospel!
"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein you stand; By which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." (The Gospel - 1 Cor. 15:1-4)!
 
The ONE Gospel which has the power to save the lost!
"So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." (Rom. 1:15-17)!

The ONE Gospel message of both Peter and Paul!
"The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God has raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And His name through faith in His name has made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I know that through ignorance you did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said to the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you." (Peter -Acts 3:13-22).

"Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you fears God, to you is the Word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause of death in Him, yet desired they Pilate that He should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a sepulchre. But God raised Him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses unto the people." (Paul - Acts 13:26-31).

 
There is only ONE Gospel and only ONE Way to be saved:  Faith in Jesus!

 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

JESUS IS GOD

From http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/sonship/sonsh02.htm

If Jesus Christ is God, then He must be eternal. God has no beginning. There was never a time when He did not exist in all the fullness of who He is. "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God" (Psalm 90:2).

Some heretical cults deny Christ's eternal existence, claiming that He was a created Being. In contrast to this false doctrine, the Bible presents Him as the uncreated Creator: "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3). In the beginning He was not created or made. In the beginning He already was (John 1:1-2)! The Apostle Paul declares that "He is before all things" (Col. 1:17).

The prophet Micah foretold that the Messiah would be born in the little town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Who is this One that should be born? He is the One "whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2).

John the Baptist clearly pointed to the fact of the pre-existence of Christ: "John bare witness of Him, and cried, saying, This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for He was before me." This paradoxical statement can be understood only as we distinguish between the two natures of Christ. When viewed from the standpoint of His humanity He came after John the Baptist. Mary gave birth to Him six months after Elizabeth had given birth to John (Lk. 1:26). As the eternal Son of God He was before John the Baptist, eternally existing in the bosom of the Father (Jn. 1:18).

Perhaps the Savior Himself made the clearest statement of His pre-existence. Speaking with a group of unbelieving Jewish religious leaders, He said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad" (Jn. 8:56). These Jews were startled by these words, understanding Him to be saying that He and Abraham existed on this earth at the same time: "Then said the Jews unto  Him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?" (Jn. 8:57). They knew that Jesus was not even half a century old and that Abraham had lived and died on this earth approximately 2000 years earlier! How could this Man claim to be 2000 years old? They were shocked and angered by the Lord's final words: "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am" (Jn. 8:58). They considered this to be ultimate blasphemy and they "took up stones to cast at Him" (Jn. 8:59).

Only the eternal God could make such a claim. Indeed, Jesus could have said, "Before Adam was, I am!" He even could have said, "Before the universe was, I am!" In fact, He did make such a statement: "And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was...for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world" (Jn. 17:5, 24). God the Son basked in the sunlight of the Father's love before the world ever was! From everlasting to everlasting, He is the Son of the Father's love.

The eternal Son is worthy of all glory and praise and adoration!