Category: Revelation Study

Revelation Chapter 5 Overview

Revelation Chapter 5 Overview

Text: Revelation 5

5:1 a book (scroll). There are several possibilities here: Dr. MacArthur has suggested, in several sermons, that this scroll is the title deed to Earth. Dr. Ryrie has suggested that it is the “Book of Redemption” telling the story of Redemptive History (See Ryrie Study Bible notes on Revelation). In the New Oxford Annotated Bible we are presented with the idea that this scroll contains the Divine Plan of Judgment and Redemption.

written inside and on the back. This is typical of various kinds of contracts in the ancient world, including deeds, marriage contracts, rental and lease agreements, and wills. The inside of the scroll contained all the details of the contract, and the outside—or back—contained a summary of the document. In this case it almost certainly is a deed—the title deed to the earth (Jeremiah 32:7)

sealed up with seven seals. Romans sealed their wills 7 times—on the edge at each roll—to prevent unauthorized entry. Hebrew title deeds required a minimum of 3 witnesses and 3 separate seals, with more important transactions requiring more witnesses and seals.

This is like the scroll given to Ezekiel (Ezek. 2:9–3:3) and given that it is sealed it is both unalterable and unknown until God chooses to reveal the contents.

5:2 strong angel. The identity of this angel is uncertain, but it may refer to the angel Gabriel, whose name means “strength of God” (Daniel 8:16). If you look at Luke’s Gospel, we see that the angel who visits Zacharias says “I am Gabriel who stands in the presence of God and am sent to bring you these tidings (Luke 1:19).” This lends itself to the idea that the angel who speaks is in fact Gabriel. The only other angel specifically named in the Bible is Michael. I find it doubtful, though, that this would be Michael since he is usually portrayed as a warrior.

5:3 in heaven or on the earth or under the earth. This common biblical expression denotes the entirety of the universe and it is not intended to teach 3 precise divisions.

5:2-4 The scroll awaited one worthy to open the scroll and break its seals, and no servant of God introduced so far—neither elders nor living creatures nor anyone else in heaven, on earth, or under the earth—had sufficient authority to unveil and implement God’s secret agenda. Sensing that the church’s hope stood in jeopardy, John began to weep loudly.

5:5 the Lion… from the tribe of Judah. One of the earliest titles for the Messiah, it speaks of His fierceness and strength, which although glimpsed in His first coming, do not appear in their fullness until the moment anticipated here.

the Root of David. Another clearly messianic title, it anticipates His being a descendant of David, who with devastating force will compel the wicked of the earth to succumb to His authority.

I have an amillennialist friend who believes that this moment pictures the moment of Christ’s ascension; I disagree. It seems as though the logical conclusion, here, is that we see a reverse hierarchy i.e. the potential openers of the scroll are listed in ascending order and no one in the created order is worthy. John mistakenly concludes that there is no one worthy to open the scroll because none in the created order are worthy. Where the angel says behold, I think “wait!” is a better translation. Wait! Look, the creation cannot open it but the Lion of Judah, who is the Creator is worthy.”

5:6 Lamb. Hearing of a lion, John turns to see a lamb (lit. “a little, pet lamb”). God required the Jews to bring the Passover lamb into their houses for 4 days, essentially making it a pet, before it was to be violently slain (Ezekiel 12:3, 6). This is the true Passover Lamb, God’s Son (Isaiah 53:7; Jeremiah 11:19; John 1:29).

as if slain. The scars from its slaughter are still clearly visible, but it is standing—it is alive.

seven horns. In Scripture, horns always symbolize power, because in the animal kingdom they are used to exert power and inflict wounds in combat. Seven horns signify complete or perfect power. Unlike other defenseless lambs, this One has complete, sovereign power.

5:8 harp. These ancient stringed instruments not only accompanied the songs of God’s people (1Chronicles 25:6; Psalms 33:2), but also accompanied prophecy (1Samuel 10:5). It should be noted that these would be smaller and much more portable than what we know as a harp today. The 24 elders, representative of the redeemed church, played their harps in praise and in a symbolic indication that all the prophets had said was about to be fulfilled. Spontaneous praise is almost always the response of the saints.

bowls full of incense. These are golden, wide-mouth saucers similar to those which were common in the tabernacle and temple (Remember that the tabernacle and the temple were pictures of heavenly realities. Incense was a normal part of the Old Testament ritual. Priests stood twice daily before the inner veil of the temple and burned incense so that the smoke would carry into the Holy of Holies and be swept into the nostrils of God. That symbolized the people’s prayers rising to Him.

prayers of the saints. Specifically, these prayers represent all that the redeemed have ever prayed concerning ultimate and final redemption.

5:9 new song. The Old Testament is filled with references to a new song that flows from a heart that has experienced God’s redemption or deliverance (Psalm 33:3; 96:1; 144:9). This new song anticipates the final, glorious redemption that God is about to begin.

purchased for God with Your blood. The sacrificial death of Christ on behalf of sinners made Him worthy to take the scroll (1Corinthians 6:20; 7:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:3; 1Peter 1:18, 19; 2 Peter 2:1).

A note on the translation of verse 9: The KJV and the NKJV translate this as “purchased us/redeemed us” Revelation 5:9 is entirely dispensational

5:10 a kingdom and priestsreign upon the earth. The earth will not always be tyrannized by Satan and destroyed by his followers (Rev. 11:18; 12:12; 13:8). The first heaven and earth, stained by the curse through human sin, will be replaced by a new (or fully renewed) heaven and earth (21:1, 4) in which Christ’s saints will reign in righteousness (2 Pet. 3:13).

5:11 myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands. The number is to express an amount beyond calculation. The Gr. expression can also be translated “innumerable” or “many thousands” (Luke 12:1; Hebrews 12:22). Essentially, this is a limitless host. On its surface, it would appear that the whole of Heaven responds to Christ in an atiphonal chorus of praise. This is the clearest picture that we are given, in the Bible, of Jesus as being the center of everything.

5:12 power… and blessing. This doxology ascribes, to the Lamb, the sevenfold tribute that He is worthy of… power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory, blessing

 

5:13–14

Finally, every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea (Psalm 146:6) offers a fourfold doxology (blessing, honor, glory, might) to God and to the Lamb. Eventually, every knee “in heaven, on earth, and under the earth” will bow and “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11).

Heaven’s Worship Part 2 (Sermon Notes)

Heaven’s Worship Part 2 (Sermon Notes)

4:6-7 Just as the Holy Spirit is seen symbolically in the seven lighted lamps, so the “four living beings” represent the attributes (the qualities and character) of God. Some, like A.B. Simpson, also see the 4 ministries of Jesus (Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, King) as being represented in these creatures.   These creatures were, of course,  not real animals. Like the cherubim (the highest order of the angels), they guard God’s throne, lead others in worship, and proclaim God’s holiness. Four of God’s attributes, symbolized in the animal-like appearance of these four creatures, are majesty and power (the lion), faithfulness (the ox), intelligence (the human), and sovereignty (the eagle). The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel saw four similar creatures in one of his visions (Ezekiel 1:5-10).

 

4:7 first . . . like a lion. In what is obviously intended as symbolic language, John compares these 4 beings with 4 of God’s earthly creations. Ezekiel indicates that every cherub has these 4 attributes and we can infer that each of these creatures stood with a particular face pointed toward John.

Of course these beings are symbolic of other realities. Each likeness, in this case, is symbolic of an attribute of the Lord Jesus in His heavenly majesty.  The likeness to a lion symbolizes strength and power. second . . . like a calf. The image of a calf demonstrates that these beings render humble service to God. third . . . face like a man. Their likeness to man shows they are rational beings. fourth . . . like a flying eagle. The cherubim fulfill their service to God with the swiftness of eagles’ wings.

 

Worship of God (4:8b–11). The throne room scene reaches a climax in a description of the worship of God. The worship by the living creatures takes the trishagion (threefold declaration of God as “holy”) from Isa 6:3 as its point of departure (4:8b). The next clause corresponds to the description of God in the prologue (1:4, 8—“who was and is and is coming”). In addition, God is praised as the creator of all things (4:11). However fixed the heavenly throne may be, the description of God as the coming one expresses the hope that the rule of God, creator of all, will manifest itself throughout the cosmos.

 

4:8 full of eyes- fully informed wisdom. Nothing escapes their notice.

Holy, holy, holy. Often God is extolled for His holiness in this 3-fold form, because it is the summation of all that He is—His most salient attribute (see note on Is. 6:3). Who was and is and is to come!

 

  1. Full of eyes in front and in back… full of eyes around and within: Their multitude of eyes indicates these living creatures(not “beasts” as in the KJV) are not blind instruments or robots. They know and understand, and have greater insight and perception than any man.

 

These beings of great intelligence and understanding live their existence to worship God. Thus it can be said that failure to truly worship is rooted in a lack of seeing and understanding.

 

These beings’ worship of God reminds us that our worship must be intelligent. “Our service must not be rash but reasonable, (Romans 12:1,) such as wherefore we can render a reason.

 

“The word beast is very improperly used here and elsewhere in this description. Wycliffe first used it, and translators in general have followed him in this uncouth rendering.” (Clarke)

 

Like a lion… like a calf… a face like a man… like a flying eagle: John described four cherubim, each with a different face. From comparison with Ezekiel 1:6-10, we can see that each of the cherubim have four faces, and at the moment, John saw each one of the four different faces pointed in his direction. The significance of these four faces has been interpreted in many ways.

The four faces have been said to represent the elements, the cardinal virtues, the faculties and powers of the human soul, the patriarchal churches, the great apostles, the orders of churchmen, the principle angels, and so forth.

Some commentators say these four creatures speak of the ensigns of the head tribes as Israel camped in four groups around the tabernacle in the wilderness. Numbers 2:32:102:18, and 2:25 mention this organization of the tribes under these four heads, but does not assign “mascots” to tribal banners. Seiss, Clarke, and Poole each mention this approach, and cite “Jewish writers” (Seiss), “ the Talmudists” (Clarke), and “the learned Mede… from the Rabbins” (Poole). Poole explains: “That these were the four creatures whose portraitures were in the four ensigns of the Israelites as they were marshalled into four companies, allotting the men of three tribes to each company. Judah’s standard had a lion in its colours, according to Jacob’s prophecy of that tribe, Genesis 49:9, Ephraim had an ox, Reuben had a man, Dan an eagle. This the learned Mede proves from the Rabbins, who, though fabulous enough, yet in such a thing may be credited.”

The four different faces of the cherubim are often taken as symbols of Jesus as represented in each gospel. In classical church architecture, these four “characters” are repeated often as a motif that signifies both heaven and the four gospels.

Most have seen Matthew as the “Lion” gospel, showing Jesus as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Mark is seen as the “Ox” gospel, showing Jesus as a humble servant, a worker. Luke is seen as the “Man” gospel, showing Jesus as the perfect man, the second Adam. John is seen as the “Eagle” gospel, showing Jesus as the man from heaven, the sky.

Perhaps it is safest to say that the four faces are important because they represent all of animate creation, in its utmost excellence. The lion is the mightiest of wild animals, the ox strongest of domesticated animals, the eagle king of all birds, and man is highest of all creation. “In Shemoth Rabba, sec. 23, fol. 122, 4, Rabbi Abin says: ‘There are four which have principality in this world: among intellectual creatures, man; among birds, the eagle; among cattle, the ox; and among wild beasts, the lion: each of these has a kingdom and a certain magnificence, and they are placed under the throne of gloryEzekiel 1:10, to show that no creature is to exalt itself in this world, and that the kingdom of God is over all.’ These creatures may be considered the representatives of the whole creation.” (Clarke)

 

As well, it is significant to see that the Bible associates a face with the idea of person (1 Chronicles 12:82 Chronicles 29:6Isaiah 3:1513:8). Here we have singular beings with four faces. Apparently, there are beings that can be more than one person – as our God is One God in three Persons.

Poole says that these four faces illustrate the different personalities God’s ministers have: “By them is signified the various gifts with which God blesseth his ministers, giving to some more courage and fortitude, that they are like lions; to others more mildness and meekness, that they are like oxen or calves; others have more wisdom and prudence, which most adorn a man; others a more piercing insight into the mysteries of God’s kingdom, rendering them like eagles.”

4:9 John describes these scenes in such detail because Christians in the first century came from many backgrounds. Not all of them understood Jewish history or knew the glory of the Temple. Revelation instructs us in worship. It shows us where, why, and how to praise God. Worship takes our minds off our problems and focuses them on God. Worship leads us from individual meditation to corporate worship. Worship causes us to consider and appreciate God’s character. Worship lifts our perspective from the earthly to the heavenly.

 

In considering the Lord Jesus in His glorified state, we may consider His 4 ministries which continue both in Heaven and Earth: Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, King

 

Christ as Savior

Jesus is an exclusive Savior. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name in heaven given to men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12. Contrary to what contemporary culture tells us, there are not multiple paths to God. There is only one—Jesus Christ

Jesus’ death and resurrection ensures His followers an endless list of promises from God’s Word. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, His promises are for us, including peace today and hope of eternity with Him.

Very Precious Promises

The Bible is our ultimate authority. And in God’s word are many great and precious promises. Because Jesus is our Savior, Scripture tells us that:

  • we are forgiven (Acts 2:38)
  • our guilt is gone (Romans 8:1)
  • we have peace with God (Romans 5:1)
  • God’s wrath is satisfied (1 John 2:2)
  • we have been justified (Romans 5:1)
  • Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us (Romans 4:24)
  • we are “new creations” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • we have eternal life (John 3:16)
  • we have been adopted by God (John 1:12)
  • the Holy Spirit lives in us (Romans 8:11)
  • Jesus is our advocate (1 John 2:1)
  • nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38–39)
  • death has no more sting (1 Corinthians 15:54)
  • we have an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade (1 Peter 1:4)

What an awesome list of promises from God’s Word—and this is only a partial list! Because Christ died for us, all of these are ours when we accept Him as Savior.

The Tenses of Salvation

As we consider Christ’s death on the cross, I think it’s important to look at the three “tenses” of salvation.

  • Past:First, we have been saved. We have been justified or made righteous in God’s eyes.
  • Present:Second, we are being saved. We are in the process of being sanctified or made more like Christ through the Holy Spirit.
  • Future:And we will be saved. When Christ returns, we will be glorified or made like Him. We have an eternal inheritance.

Anything else?

Four other things are important to consider about Jesus as our Savior:

  • He is a universal Savior.John 3:16 tells us that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” All who come to Him with repentant hearts, sorry for their sins, and believe that He is who He says He is, will receive His salvation.
  • Jesus Christ is an exclusive Savior.We read in Acts 4:12 that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name in heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Contrary to what contemporary culture tells us, there are not multiple paths to God. There is only one: Jesus Christ.
  • He is a comprehensive Savior.Romans 8:29-30 make it clear that our salvation, predestined from before the foundation of the world includes not only justification and forgiveness of sins but also God’s commitment to reform us into the very image of His Son and that one day, when that process is complete, we will be glorified.
  • And He is an all-powerful Savior.Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Christ’s work on the cross sealed our salvation forever. As Romans 8:38–39 tells us, For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Jesus is our Savior. Nothing can separate us from His great work on the cross, from His love. That truth, that promise is at the core of who we are as part of The Christian and Missionary Alliance.

 

Christ aUnsuccessful struggle against sin and a lack of power in life and ministry frustrate those who have asked Jesus to be their Savior but not their Sanctifier, resulting in a lack of joy in their walk with Christ. At the point when we are born again, we become members of God’s family. We believe He paid the price for our sin, and we are positionally sanctified, or set apart from those who are not born again, and are seen as holy because of what Christ has done.

Part One

“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:30) NKJV

The Bible teaches three tenses of salvation:

  • I have been saved: Justification
  • I am being saved: Sanctification
  • I will be saved: Glorification

Sanctification means separation

  • Separation from sin: “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”1 Peter 1:15-16.
  • Separation to God: “(He) has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father…”Revelation 1:6.

We read in John 1:29, 33 that Jesus is

  • “the one who is taking away the sin of the world…”
  • “the one who is baptizing with the Holy Spirit”

Two realities—two experiences. All Christians understand the first promise. But many Christians do not understand the experience of the second. It is the experience of Christ’s sanctifying work in a believer’s life. For those who neither understand nor allow for the Spirit’s control in their lives, the results will have profound effect. Ongoing and unsuccessful struggle against sin and a lack of power in life and ministry frustrates the believer. Doubts creep in about the assurance of salvation; there is a lack of joy in the walk with Christ.

Pneumatology “101”

In the context of the following Scriptures, the Greek word for Spirit is pneuma.

  • Every Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. “If anyone does not have theSpirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” (Romans 8:9).
  • Many Christians are not (and never have been) filled with the Holy Spirit. “…be filled with theSpirit.” (Ephesians 5:18).

Two realities—two experiences. With the decision to believe Christ is Savior, the One who was sacrificed for the sin of the world, the believer is immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The believer who forsakes the flesh, allowing the Spirit’s infilling, experiences victory and deliverance not only from the penalty of sin because Christ’s righteousness is imputed to him. The Christian who is filled with the Christ’s Spirit knows deliverance from the power of sin as Christ’s righteousness is imparted to him.

Not only does the follower of Christ experience freedom from eternal death because Jesus lives in him but also freedom to live an abundant life in the present because Jesus lives through him. With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit he is equipped to fight the temptations of the future.

A Sad Reality

  • Most American Christians show little evidence in their lives that they have been separated from sin.
  • Most American Christians behave in ways that make it difficult to believe that they have been “set apart” for the service of God.

Part Two

According to John 1:29-33, Jesus is:

  • the one who is taking away the sin of the world
  • the one who is baptizing with the Holy Spirit

These two realities offer the believer two experiences. All Christians understand the first but most Christians do not understand or experience the second.

Two Realities – Two Experiences

  • Deliverance from penalty of sin
  • Deliverance from the power of sin
  • Freedom from death
  • Freedom to live
  • Release from the guilt of the past
  • Equips for the temptations of the future
  • Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us
  • Christ’s righteousness is manifest in us
  • Jesus lives in us
  • Jesus lives through us

True Or False?

According to the New Testament, there are two kinds of Christians.

  • I Corinthians 3:1-4— spiritual and worldly (carnal)
  • Romans 7and Romans 8 — self-propelled and Spirit driven
  • Ephesians 5:18— filled and not filled

What does this look like?

  • “It’s all about purity.”
  • “It’s all about power.”
  • “It’s all about joy.”

Jesus tells us in John 15 that He is the Vine and we are the branches. Because of our relationship with Jesus:

  • “we will bear much fruit…” — PURITY
  • “we can ask whatever we want…” — POWER
  • “our joy will be complete” — JOY

The Steps to a Spirit Filled Life

  • You cannot make yourself holy any more than you can make yourself saved! (Rom. 6:11;Rom. 12:1-2)
  • Christ is your Sanctifier in the same way that He is your Savior! (Col. 2:6;Gal. 2:20)
  • Maintain a continuous relationship with Jesus through obedience to his Word. (John 15:1-11)

Abiding and the Word of God

  • John 17:17— “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
  • John 15:3— “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”
  • John 15:7— “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.”
  • Additional Scriptures to read:Ephesians 5:18, and Colossians 3:16.

Part Three

As we move forward in our understanding of Jesus as our Sanctifier, let’s review our position in Christ and find out how we can live a Spirit-filled life.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ (John 1:29–33)

Jesus is:

  1. “…the one who is taking away the sin of the world…”
  2. “…the one who is baptizing with the Holy Spirit…”

Two Realities – Two Experiences

All Christians understand the first reality, grateful and confident that Christ’s blood has atoned for their sins. They no longer need to fear eternal separation from God.

But most Christians do not understand or experience the second reality—the full reality of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Because many Christians have been badly taught, or because they have chosen to disregard the clear teaching of the New Testament regarding sanctification, they are missing much of what God has made available to every believer in Christ.

Two Kinds of Christians

The New Testament clearly teaches that there are two kinds of Christians. In I Corinthians 3:1–4, Paul talks about Christians who are “spiritual” and contrasts them with those who are “worldly” or “carnal.” In Romans chapters 7 and 8, the comparison is between those believers who are self propelled and those who are Spirit driven. In Ephesians 5:18 he implies that some are “filled” and some are “not filled.”

Steps To A Spirit-Filled Life

The opportunity to experience the two realities of sanctification is available to every believer. The path to the Spirit-filled life involves faith-filled risks that always involve change.

  • Surrender:You cannot make yourself holy any more than you can make yourself saved. Romans 6:11; Romans 12:1–2
  • Accept:Christ is your Sanctifier in the same way that He is your Savior! Colossians 2:6; Galatians 2:20
  • Abide:Maintain a continuous relationship with Jesus through obedience to His Word. John 15:1–11

By Rev. John F. Soper

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do so few Christians experience the second reality of sanctification?

  • Ignorance —Acts 19:3
  • Sin —Ephesians 4:30
  • Fear —I Thessalonians 5:19
  • Lack of Desire —Matthew 5:6

Is there a difference between the baptism and filling?

The major problem here is that the New Testament does not clearly distinguish between several different words used to describe the dealings of the Holy Spirit with God’s people. Some of these words are listed below.

  • “baptized”
  • “filled”
  • “anointed”
  • “sealed”
  • “earnest”

While the language the Bible uses to describe the experience may be ambiguous, the possibility of living a spirit-filled life is a Clear Reality

Is this a one time experience?

While the initial filling of the Holy Spirit usually comes as an experience subsequent to conversion, it is important to understand that:

  • Sanctification is also a “progressive” experience.Philippians 2:12–13; Philippians 3:12–14; Colossians 2:6
  • It is also important to recognize that we need to be filled again and again because we leak!

Two Great Errors

  1. Avoiding the Holy Spirit out of fear: Many Christians run from God because of sin or preconceived notions of inability or worthiness. When we remember to live Jesus’ words fromJohn 15, “Apart from Me you can do nothing,” we realize that our daily sanctification is dependent on our willingness to surrender to Him.
  2. Seeking an experience or feeling as the evidence that we have been filled: Experiences are temporary and feelings are fleeting. God’s Word is true and everlasting. We cannot put our faith in experience or feeling but only in His eternal Word.

A Final Thought

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to you children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13)

 

“Jesus Is Still the Healer”

We find no record in the gospels of Jesus turning away anyone who came to him for healing, nor do we find that any disease was too difficult for him to heal. He even raised the dead. Miraculous healings still occur today—evidence that Christ is still our Healer.

The Purpose of Divine Healing is to Glorify Jesus. In the Book of Acts, we find three important truths we need to grasp: Jesus is still the Healer, Healing comes from Jesus alone, and the purpose of divine healing is always to glorify Him.

 

Why did Jesus Heal so Many People?

  • To draw attention to His message:Jesus knew that by meeting a physical need, healing, the door would be open to speak about Jesus’ greater mission—to bring salvation to souls. We see the same pattern throughout Jesus’ ministry. Whenever Jesus made an intangible claim, He backed it up with a tangible act of compassion. Jesus said He was the bread of life and fed 5,000 people with a few loaves of bread.
  • To prove He could forgive sin:How do you prove such an intangible thing? First, Jesus lived in a culture where the assumption was that sickness was a result of sin. Second, based on the same assumption, healing comes with forgiveness of sin. To prove that He had the power to forgive sins, Jesus said to the man who was lowered down through roof on a mat, “Friend, your sins are forgiven…take your mat and go home” (Luke 5:20).
  • To prove He was God:Jesus healed to prove He was the Messiah. Only One has authority to forgive sin—God alone—a charge the Pharisees made when Jesus healed sickness and at the same time forgave sins. He was claiming authority to be God.
  • To show His compassion:Jesus healed because he cared. There is no record of Jesus turning anyone away who asked for his help.
  • To show that He is the Lord of all of life:Jesus is the Lord of compassion—not just Lord of our souls but of our bodies as well.
  • To show that salvation starts now:Jesus’ wonderful, compassionate willingness to reach out and touch our physical needs demonstrates that it’s not just future tense but present tense. Salvation starts now. He heals in this life, in this moment, in anticipation of something much more complete as eternity rolls on.

The Healings Did Not End With Jesus 

  • He Said They Would Continue:Healings did not end with Jesus. He told his disciples they would do greater things. Although there is some dispute as to the validity of the end of Mark’s gospel (Mark 16:18), it is clear in the Book of John that Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I am doing. He will do even greater things than these” (John 14:12).
  • The Apostles Continued His Work:Nothing in the New Testament says or even implies that the healing ministry would stop at end of the New Testament. In fact, it says the opposite. Healing ministry will continue in age of the Church through His Body, the Church. The apostles continued his work.
  • Jesus Is Still The Healer!Jesus is still the healer today. Why don’t we see it as the disciples in the Early Church did? They were full of the Holy Spirit. We leak. They were fully obedient. Too often, we are not. They fully expected to see Him work. We are often surprised that He does.

The Power Comes From Jesus

  • Not From Our Faith:The power comes from Jesus. The power doesn’t come from faith. There is interaction with faith. Jesus challenged people to have faith. He even said, “Your faith has made you whole.” But faith was a response to the person of Jesus. It was power of Jesus and not individual faith that brought healing. If you believe the power comes from faith, there’s a problem. Faith is a necessary component but not what heals.
  • Not From Within:Healing does not come from within us. It is not a matter of getting everything in balance. A great, satanic error of our day teaches that healing flows from inner peace or balance, some resource inside us, even if God put it in us. That simply is not true. Healing comes only from the hand of Jesus.
  • Not From Faith Healers:Healing does not come from faith healers. There are gifts of healing. God uses prayer to raise up people who need a touch by Him. But the power is in Jesus, which means, if you need a touch from the Lord, you don’t need to look to a faith healer.
  • Not From Crystal Skulls:Healing does not come from any occult objects, such as crystal skulls.

Why Isn’t Everyone Healed?

Why do people get sick in the first place? The Bible gives a theology of sickness as well as a theology of healing. There are a number of reasons for sickness. The first is sin. The Pharisees were right that some get sick because of sin but wrong that all get sick because of sin. In 1 Corinthians, we are warned about abusing the table of the Lord. “That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you sleep.”

Sometimes God allows the enemy to make us sick. Sickness definitely is related to the curse, the fall, and the work of Satan. There is no better example than Job. In the testing, our faithfulness can be perfect. God allows sickness or disabilities to teach us lessons that would not be learned any other.

Healing also can be God’s way of taking us home, the moment of eschatological healing that ultimately comes when we are made perfect. No more glasses, no more insulin pumps. I won’t walk with a limp.

How Do We Respond?

Our prayers for healing tend to be, “Jesus heal me because I want to serve you more, I don’t want pain, or I want to be a testimony of your faithfulness. See how much more faith I have now.”

The only possible right response is: “What ever brings You glory, Lord. I believe you can. With the absence of a firm word to the contrary, then I believe that you will. But the only reason I want to be healed is because I want to bring You glory. If something else brings You more glory, that’s ok with me. It’s not about me. It’s all about Jesus.”

“In The Name Of Jesus Christ Of Nazareth, Walk!”

The power comes from Jesus. The purpose is to bring glory to Jesus. It is not to meet my needs, to make me feel better, or relieve me of my pain, although that is a nice side benefit.

The disciples with Jesus encountered a blind man (John 9). One of the disciples asked, “Who sinned—the man or his parents.” Jesus explained that neither the man nor His parents had sinned but “this had happened so that the work of God would be displayed in his life.”

 

Healing is all about glorifying Jesus. It’s not about us. It’s all about Him!

Coming King

The physical return of Jesus has been the subject of speculation and controversy since His ascension into the clouds, which is recorded in the Book of Acts. Knowing that countless millions still have not heard the gospel, The Alliance is committed to doing its part to complete Christ’s Great Commission before His imminent return.

 

Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:11).

Sometime near the end of his life, Anthony Ashley Cooper, the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, is reputed to have said: “In the last 40 years, I do not believe that I have had one conscious thought that did not include the idea of the return of Jesus Christ.” An overstatement? Perhaps, but it goes a very long way toward explaining the amazing career of one of the Victorian era’s most successful social reformers.

That same preoccupation is evident throughout the New Testament. It is the stated or implied reason behind nearly every ethical injunction in the writings of the apostles, and without question, it framed the life of the Early Church. The first generation of Christians even began their ordinary interactions with the greeting “Maranatha,” an Aramaic expression meaning “The Lord is coming”!

“Jesus Christ, Our Coming King” is the expression that captures the same passion exemplified by the apostles, the Earl of Shaftesbury and a million other devoted followers of our Lord throughout the centuries. It is, to use the words of the apostle Paul, “our blessed hope.”

Belief in the Second Coming of Christ is rooted in the experience of the followers of Jesus who, a few days before Pentecost, gathered on a mountain to listen to the last teaching of the resurrected Christ. He commissioned them to be His “witnesses” to the entire world, and then, as they watched breathlessly, He ascended into heaven. While they stood gazing at the sky, two angels appeared and delivered this message: “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11b).

The clear implication (and the equally clear teaching of the entire New Testament on the subject) is that Christ’s Second Coming will be personal—He Himself, not some representative, will return to the earth. Further, His return will be both public and visible; that is, we will be able to see Him come. In fact, the writer of the Book of Revelation says that “every eye will see him . . .” (Rev. 1:7). We are also told that when Christ returns, He won’t be alone. He will be accompanied by “thousands of his holy ones”—angels (Jude 14)—and by “those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thess. 4:15).

Many volumes have been written exploring the events that will occur when Christ returns, but here are a few things the Bible says will happen: Jesus Christ will be vindicated in the eyes of those who crucified Him (Rev. 1:7); the whole of creation will be liberated from the curse imposed upon it after the sin of Adam in the garden (Romans 8:20–21); the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord (Isa. 11:9); God’s righteous reign will be established upon the earth for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1–6); and, ultimately, the final destruction of Satan will be accomplished (Rev. 20:7–10).

Since it is clear that the writers of the New Testament expected the Lord’s return very quickly, many skeptics have suggested that nearly 2,000 years ought to be enough time to convince us that they were mistaken. The Scripture, however, anticipates that attitude and warns us (2 Peter 3:8–10) that while God restrains His judgment (just as He did in the time of Noah) so that more time can be given for men and women to repent, this gesture of patience will be misinterpreted. Most of humanity will conclude that the promise of Christ’s return is nothing more than pious fiction. His return will catch them off guard like the coming of a thief!

Maranatha! The Lord is coming. Are you ready?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Views on the Rapture

Views on the Rapture

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (Page 1019)

 NO RAPTURE

There is the view among some Christians that there will be no Rapture at all. They claim it is an unscriptural idea invented by John Darby and Cyrus Scofield. This is either a statement of ignorance or complete disingenuousness. As we saw last week, there are clearly passages which teach a rapture of the church. To each otherwise is error at best and sin at worst.

I would be charitable and say that this idea is error. These believers are generally faithful brethren but they disagree with the dispensational understanding of Scripture and so they discard the idea of a rapture altogether.

POST TRIBULATION

The Post-Tribulation Rapture theory teaches that the Church will not be raptured before the Tribulation but that it will pass through the Tribulation, and only when Christ returns at the end of the Tribulation will the Church be caught up. This theory must pass two tests. First, Does the Bible plainly say that the Church will be raptured when Christ returns at the end of the Tribulation? and second, If we adopt that position, how will it affect other events clearly foretold in Scripture? for “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20).

We must understand that the Rapture relates exclusively to Church-age saints. It does not include Old Testament saints who were raised when Christ rose and took paradise to heaven (Matthew 27:50-53; Ephesians 4:8-10; 2 Corinthians 12:1-4).

 

Also, the Rapture described in 1Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 is for those who are “in Christ”, which uniquely describes all believers since Pentecost. These have been baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), and it is obvious that IF the Rapture of the Church were to occur at the end of the Tribulation there would be a serious conflict with other Scriptures.

 

TEST NO.1: Are there any Scriptures which speak of a resurrection of Church-age saints, both living and dead, when Christ returns at the end of the Tribulation?

The answer is, No. There is a resurrection of saints at the Second Coming (Revelation 20:4) but it is only for martyrs at the hands of Antichrist during the 7- years of Great Tribulation. It may be argued that Antichrist and his followers will receive their resurrection bodies at that time and will be “cast alive into a lake of fire” according to Revelation 19:20; Daniel 12:2; and Matthew 25:41, however, there is a total absence of any Scripture which states that there will be any resurrection of living saints when Christ returns. On the contrary, the living saints, both Jews and Gentiles, who survive the Tribulation, continue with natural bodies into the millennial kingdom.

Elsewhere we read that when Christ returns the saints come WITH Him, which requires that they be previously taken to heaven (Jude 14; Zechariah 14: 5; 1 Thessalonians 3:13). At the Rapture, however, Christ comes exclusively FOR His Church, which cannot include Old Testament saints or Tribulation saints. The saints who are alive on earth at the Second Coming are not resurrected but go alive into the kingdom (Zechariah 14:16-21).

 

TEST NO.2: The Post-Tribulation Rapture theory is in conflict with the main sequence of events in the last days.

We know that the “end of the age” will be a short period of 7 years called the Great Tribulation or “the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), after which Christ will come. Matthew wrote:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall…appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven (Matthew 24:29-30).

 

When the Lord appears in His glory He will set up a throne of judgment  at Jerusalem and judge the living nations who survive the Tribulation. Redeemed Israel (the Lord’s brethren) and the saved Gentiles (sheep) will go alive into Christ’s millennial kingdom, and the unsaved Gentiles (goats) who followed Antichrist in the Tribulation period will be cast into ”everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:31-46). This sequence of events would be impossible if there was a post-Tribulation Rapture. Why?

 

Because IF there was a post-Tribulation Rapture every saved person on earth would have a resurrection body when Christ returned, and there would not be anyone left on earth for the millennial kingdom. However, Zechariah says that “everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16).

 

IF all the saved are raptured when Christ returns to reign it would be impossible for babies to be born in the millennial kingdom because Jesus said that “in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage” (Matthew 22:30). Babies will be born, however, because at the end of the 1,000 years some unsaved will be deceived and rebel against Christ (Revelation 20:7-9). Resurrected saints could not have children, or be deceived.

 

IF there was a post-Tribulation Rapture there would be no need for sacrifices in the millennial kingdom. However there are sacrifices in the Millennium in memorial of Christ’s sacrifice (Ezekiel 43 & 44; Zechariah 14:20-21).

We ask, Why would it be necessary for the ships of Tarshish to bring the saved Jews back to the land at the beginning of the Millennium, IF they have ALL been raptured? They would hardly need the ships of Tarshish to bring them in resurrected bodies, “with their silver and gold” (Isaiah 60:9).

 

Many other prophecies conflict with a post-Tribulation Rapture, and it is worth noting that the Seventh Day Adventists and Amillennialists hold to this view. Both fail to understand that the Great Tribulation is for only 7 years, and both completely miss Israel’s role in the millennial kingdom. The Post-Tribulation Rapture theory results from a failure to appreciate the relationship between Israel and the Church.

 

 

PRE-WRATH

 

The pre-wrath rapture theory says that the rapture occurs before the “great day of . . . wrath” (Revelation 6:17). According to the pre-wrath view, believers go through most of the tribulation but not the time of God’s wrath just before the end of the tribulation (Matthew 24:21). The church will endure Satan’s fury and man’s persecution, but will be spared God’s wrath. Before God pours out His final judgment on the world, the church will be caught up to heaven. Here is a brief summary of the pre-wrath rapture position.

The pre-wrath rapture theory views the trumpet and the bowl judgments (Revelation 7–16) as the wrath of God, from which the church is exempted (1 Thessalonians 5:9). However, the first six seal judgments (Revelation 6) are not considered the wrath of God; rather, they are viewed as “the wrath of Satan” or “the wrath of the antichrist.” This is because there is no direct mention of God’s wrath until after the sixth seal is broken (Revelation 6:17). According to the pre-wrath rapture theory, the church will be present to experience the first six seals.

Comparing Revelation 6 with Matthew 24, the pre-wrath rapture theorists identify the first seal judgments with Jesus’ description of the end times in Matthew 24:4-7. Jesus then refers to these events as “the beginning of birth pains” (verse 8). In verses 29 and 30, “the sign of the Son of Man” appears in the sky, and it is at this time, according to the pre-wrath rapture theory, that the rapture of the church occurs.

One weakness of the pre-wrath rapture position is its presumption that the “elect” mentioned in Matthew 24:2231 are church-age saints. These saints could just as easily be individuals saved during the seven-year tribulation; in fact, Jesus tells those who flee the antichrist’s persecution to pray that their flight does not occur “on the Sabbath” (verse 20). Since the church is not under the Mosaic law and does not keep the Sabbath, Jesus’ words cannot be directed to the church.

Another flaw in the pre-wrath rapture theory is its teaching that the first seal judgments are not the wrath of God. Scripture shows that it is the Lamb who opens the seals (Revelation 5:56:1). No other man is found worthy to open them (5:3-4). It would seem, then, these are not man’s judgments, but God’s. The tribulation begins when Jesus opens the first seal, and from that point on, the wrath of God is meted out on a sinful world.

A final weakness of the pre-wrath rapture view is shared by the other theories: viz., the Bible does not give an explicit time line concerning future events. Scripture does not expressly teach one view over another, and that is why we have diversity of opinion concerning the end times and some variety on how the related prophecies should be harmonized.

 

PRE-TRIBULATION
Pretribulationism teaches that the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation starts. At that time, the church will meet Christ in the air, and then sometime after that the Antichrist is revealed and the Tribulation begins. In other words, the Rapture and Christ’s Second Coming (to set up His kingdom) are separated by at least seven years. According to this view, the church does not experience any of the Tribulation.

Scripturally, the pretribulational view has much to commend it. For example, the church is not appointed to wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:9-105:9), and believers will not be overtaken by the Day of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:1-9). The church of Philadelphia was promised to be kept from “the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world” (Revelation 3:10). Note that the promise is not preservation through the trial but deliverance from the hour, that is, from the time period of the trial.

Pretribulationism also finds support in what is not found in Scripture. The word “church” appears nineteen times in the first three chapters of Revelation, but, significantly, the word is not used again until chapter 22. In other words, in the entire lengthy description of the Tribulation in Revelation, the word church is noticeably absent. In fact, the Bible never uses the word “church” in a passage relating to the Tribulation.

Pretribulationism is the only theory which clearly maintains the distinction between Israel and the church and God’s separate plans for each. The seventy “sevens” of Daniel 9:24 are decreed upon Daniel’s people (the Jews) and Daniel’s holy city (Jerusalem). This prophecy makes it plain that the seventieth week (the Tribulation) is a time of purging and restoration for Israel and Jerusalem, not for the church.

Also, pretribulationism has historical support. From John 21:22-23, it would seem that the early church viewed Christ’s return as imminent, that He could return at any moment. Otherwise, the rumor would not have persisted that Jesus would return within John’s lifetime. Imminence, which is incompatible with the other two Rapture theories, is a key tenet of pretribulationism.

And the pretribulational view seems to be the most in keeping with God’s character and His desire to deliver the righteous from the judgment of the world. Biblical examples of God’s salvation include Noah, who was delivered from the worldwide flood; Lot, who was delivered from Sodom; and Rahab, who was delivered from Jericho (2 Peter 2:6-9).

One perceived weakness of pretribulationism is its relatively recent development as a church doctrine, not having been formulated in detail until the early 1800s. Another weakness is that pretribulationism splits the return of Jesus Christ into two “phases”—the Rapture and the Second Coming—whereas the Bible does not clearly delineate any such phases.

Another difficulty facing the pretribulational view is the fact that there will obviously be saints in the Tribulation (Revelation 13:720:9). Pretribulationists answer this by distinguishing the saints of the Old Testament and the saints of the Tribulation from the church of the New Testament. Believers alive at the Rapture will be removed before the Tribulation, but there will be those who will come to Christ during the Tribulation.

 

Called Away: The Rapture of the Church

Called Away: The Rapture of the Church

The Blessed Hope

The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the church.

The Blessed Hope is promised by Jesus (not invented by Darby or Scofield.)

John 14: 1-3

Luke 24:50-53 and Acts 1:9-11

THIS SAME JESUS SHALL  SO COME IN LIKE MANNER AS YE HAVE SEEN HIM GO.

Jesus went in a cloud and will gather us into the clouds to be with Him.
Revelation 1:7  is the Glorious Appearing  at the end of the Tribulation not the Rapture. The Rapture is 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

What is the Rapture?

The Rapture, also referred to as the Blessed Hope is an eschatological event and, in point of fact, is the event that begins the entirety of the End Times. Our official statement is thus: The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the church. (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 Romans 8:23Titus 2:13 1 Corinthians 15:51,52)

This is the event where believers who are “alive and remain shall be caught up together…in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). We would call this the First Resurrection, where each Christian receives his or her resurrected body, after which they will pass before the Bema Seat and then enter into the joy of their Lord. First to receive their new bodies are those who have died as Christians, and then, those who are “alive and remain.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (Being asleep, as the Apostle Paul uses here, is a euphemism. He simply means that they have died.) 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Take notice, I am telling you a secret. We shall not all die but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet call. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). 

Is it certain that there will be a Rapture? 

Absolutely. All the prophecies related to the First Advent came to pass and so the prophecies related to the Second will happen as well 

When Will It Happen?

We cannot know that and anyone who says that they do know is a liar. We do know that the rapture will be instantaneous, in “the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Scripture nowhere encourages us to try to determine the date of Jesus’ return. Rather, we are to “keep watch, because we do not know on which day our Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42). We are to “be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when we do not expect Him” (Matthew 24:44). In the eschatological Parable of the Talents, we are told by the Lord to “Occupy till I come” but what does that mean? It means that we must be about the work of spreading the message of the Gospel.

The timing of the Rapture has sparked a great debate within Christianity as a whole. Will it occur before, during, or after the tribulation period? Will it occur before the Millennial Kingdom begins, after the Millennial Kingdom ends, or, perhaps, will there be no Millennial Kingdom at all? Since we take the position of a Premillennial, Pretribulational Rapture of the Church, we need to define our terms. The tribulation is a seven-year period that immediately precedes the return of Christ and the establishment of His millennial kingdom, which lasts for 1,000 years. The first 3 ½ years of the tribulation will be a time of peace and cooperation, and the second 3 ½ years of the tribulation will be a time of war and catastrophe. At the midpoint of the tribulation, the Antichrist will proclaim himself god and require worship from all people of the world. Many will bow down and worship the Antichrist, including taking his mark of worldwide registration. Some will refuse to worship the Antichrist and receive his mark, and many will be killed for this act of disobedience. The second half of the tribulation is referred to as the “Great Tribulation.” There will be extraordinary catastrophes all over the world during this period. (For scriptural support, see Revelation 3:10, Matthew 24; Mark 13 and Luke 17).

Why do we take this position? In answering this question, it is important that we understand the culture of the day as well as the metaphor in play. In Revelation 19, we see the Marriage Supper of the Lamb referred to. This is noteworthy because it is the metaphor that we are to follow.

There are two Greek words that encompass what happens at the Rapture. We will look at both this morning. They are harpazo and paralambano

harpazō 

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon

1) to seize, carry off by force

2) to seize on, claim for one’ s self eagerly

3) to snatch out or away

Part of Speech: verb

Usage:

This word is used 13 times:

  • Matthew 11:12: “suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
    Matthew 13:19: “the wicked one,and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.”
    John 6:15: “they would come and take him by force, to make him”
    John 10:12: “and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the”
    John 10:28: “they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them”
    John 10:29: “and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”
    Acts 8:39: “water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch”
    Acts 23:10: “the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them,”
    2 Corinthians 12:2: “I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such a one caught up to the third”
    2 Corinthians 12:4: “How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words,”
    1 Thessalonians 4:17: “we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in”
    Jude 1:23: “save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating”
    Revelation 12:5: “and her child was caught up unto God, and to his”

 

paralambanō 

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon:

1) to take to, to take with one’ s self, to join to one’ s self

1a) an associate, a companion

1b) metaphorically

1b1) to accept or acknowledge one to be such as he professes to be

1b2) not to reject, not to withhold obedience

2) to receive something transmitted

2a) an office to be discharged

2b) to receive with the mind

2b1) by oral transmission: of the authors from whom the tradition proceeds

2b2) by the narrating to others, by instruction of teachers (used of disciples)

Part of Speech: verb

Relation: from G3844 and G2983

Citing in TDNT: 4:11, 495

Usage:

This word is used 51 times:

  • Matthew 1:20: “of David, fear not to takeunto thee Mary thy wife; for”
    Matthew 1:24: “had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:”
    Matthew 2:13: “a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his”
    Matthew 2:14: “When he arose, he took the young child and his”
    Matthew 2:20: “Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother,”
    Matthew 2:21: “And he arose, and took the young child and his”
    Matthew 4:5: “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy”
    Matthew 4:8: “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high”
    Matthew 12:45: “Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other”
    Matthew 17:1: “six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and”
    Matthew 18:16: “if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or”
    Matthew 20:17: “going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart”
    Matthew 24:40: “field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”
    Matthew 24:41: “the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”
    Matthew 26:37: “And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee,”
    Matthew 27:27: “soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall,”
    Mark 4:36: “when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in”
    Mark 5:40: “they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father”
    Mark 7:4: “other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and”
    Mark 9:2: “six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and”
    Mark 10:32: “and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve,”
    Mark 14:33: “And he taketh with him Peter and James and”
    Luke 9:10: “all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately”
    Luke 9:28: “these sayings, he took Peter and John and”
    Luke 11:26: “Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked”
    Luke 17:34: “bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.”
    Luke 17:35: “together; the one shall be taken, and the other”
    Luke 17:36: “field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”
    Luke 18:31: “Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold,”
    John 1:11: “his own, and his own received him not.”
    John 14:3: “I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that”
    John 19:16: “unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him 
    Acts 15:39: “departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas”
    Acts 15:39: “departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas”
    Acts 16:33: “And he took them the same hour of the night,”
    Acts 21:24: “Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with”
    Acts 21:26: “Then Paul took the men, and the next day”
    Acts 21:32: “Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto”
    Acts 23:18: “So he took him, and brought him to the”
    1 Corinthians 11:23: “For I have received of the Lord that which also”
    1 Corinthians 15:1: “unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;”
    1 Corinthians 15:3: “first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died”
    Galatians 1:9: “unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
    Galatians 1:12: “For I neither received it of man, neither”
    Philippians 4:9: “ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen”
    Colossians 2:6: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk”
    Colossians 4:17: “to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill”
    1 Thessalonians 2:13: “we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard”
    1 Thessalonians 4:1: “the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye”
    2 Thessalonians 3:6: “the tradition which he received of us.”
  • Hebrews 12:28: “Wherefore we receivinga kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby”

 

YOU CAN’T HAVE A POST TRIBULATION RAPTURE

In Christian eschatology, the post-tribulation rapture doctrine is the belief in a combined resurrection and rapture of all believers coming after the Great Tribulation. This position is fundamentally flawed and, in my estimation, does not fit with the Bible.

  1. The Great Tribulation is a time of judgment and the true Church was judged at Calvary

12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
Hebrews 10:12-13

One sacrifice for sin for all time…If your sin was paid for at the cross, it in manifestly unjust to pay for it again in the tribulation.

  1. The Tribulation is the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble” and Israel (Jacob) is not the Church

‘Alas! for that day is great, there is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it.

Jeremiah 30:7

Quoting Got Questions Ministries, “In the previous verses of Jeremiah 30, we find that the Lord is speaking to Jeremiah the prophet about Judah and Israel (30:3-4). In verse 3, the Lord promises that one day in the future, He will bring both Judah and Israel back to the land that He had promised their forefathers. Verse 5 describes a time of great fear and trembling. Verse 6 describes this time in a way that pictures men going through the pains of childbirth, again indicating a time of agony. But there is hope for Judah and Israel, for though this is called “the time of Jacob’s distress” (NASB), the Lord promises He will save Jacob (referring to Judah and Israel) out of this time of great trouble (verse 7).”

The Tribulation is a time of purification for Israel during which the obstinately unbelieving will be destroyed leaving the faithful remnant to enter the Kingdom.

Ezekiel 37:21,22 Zephaniah 3:19,20 Romans 11:26,27

  1. The Church is not mentioned from Revelation 4-19

            There is not really much extrapolation needed here. If the Tribulation were, in fact, something the Church were expected to endure, surely the Holy Spirit would have warned us. I would go so far as to say that it requires a dismissal of logical inference to presume the Church will go through the Tribulation.

  1. Revelation 3:10and tereso oras peirasmou

Tereso oras peirasmou (I will keep you from the hour of testing.) The hour of testing being referred to, here, is the Tribulation and it is Christ Himself who says that He will keep from the hour of testing.

  1. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

Where, exactly, is the comfort in facing the Tribulation?

  1. The Blessed Hope

The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the church.

1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 Romans 8:23 Titus 2:13 1 Corinthians 15:51,52

  1. There will be a final judgment but the Tribulation is not it

There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works but this is not the tribulation period. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Matthew 25:46 Mark 9:43-48 Revelation 19:20 Revelation 20:11-15  Revelation 21:8

  1. Lastly, the final judgment for believers is the Bema Seat not the Tribulation. 

Quoting Got Questions Ministries, “Romans 14:10–12 says, “For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. . . . So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God” (ESV). Second Corinthians 5:10 tells us, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” In context, it is clear that both passages refer to Christians, not unbelievers. The judgment seat of Christ, therefore, involves believers giving an account of their lives to Christ.

The judgment seat of Christ does not determine salvation; that was determined by Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf (1 John 2:2) and our faith in Him (John 3:16). All of our sins are forgiven, and we will never be condemned for them (Romans 8:1). We should not look at the judgment seat of Christ as God judging our sins, but rather as God rewarding us for our lives. Yes, as the Bible says, we will have to give an account of ourselves. Part of this is surely answering for the sins we committed. However, that is not going to be the primary focus of the judgment seat of Christ.

At the judgment seat of Christ, believers are rewarded based on how faithfully they served Christ (1 Corinthians 9:4-272 Timothy 2:5). Some of the things we might be judged on are how well we obeyed the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), how victorious we were over sin (Romans 6:1-4), and how well we controlled our tongues (James 3:1-9). The Bible speaks of believers receiving crowns for different things based on how faithfully they served Christ (1 Corinthians 9:4-272 Timothy 2:5). The various crowns are described in 2 Timothy 2:52 Timothy 4:8James 1:121 Peter 5:4, and Revelation 2:10James 1:12 is a good summary of how we should think about the judgment seat of Christ: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” 

Objections to the Rapture:

A very common objection is that the word Rapture is not in the NT. That isn’t accurate. Rapture is the anglicization of the Latin, rapturus which is the translation of harpazo from Greek to Latin. If you look to the notes above, there are at least 7 instances of harpazo in the NT.

Another objection is that Dispensationalist teach an “escapist rapture.” No kidding. Exactly where is the “blessed hope” for a believer who is going to go through the tribulation. Of course Christians will escape the time of wrath. (1Th. 1:10;  1Th. 5:9). Let us not forget that the tribulation is “even the time of Jacob’s trouble but he shall be saved out of it (Jeremiah 30:7)”

 

A Glimpse of Heaven’s Throne Room

A Glimpse of Heaven’s Throne Room

Several visions of the heavenly throne-room occur in Revelation, usually preceding punitive actions on earth implying divine sovereignty over all earthly events, for events in heaven determine events in the world (7.9–17; 8.1–5; 11.15–19; 14.2–3; 15.2–8; 19.1–10; 21.3–8; see also 1 Kings 22.19–23; Job 1.6–12; 2.1–6).

 

Overview

This chapter is all about praise to God, the Creator of all. In this first vision into the Throne Room, John sees the one God enthroned over the whole universe, praised as the Creator of all. This scene provides the setting for the remainder of the book. Faith in one God is at the core of both the Jewish and the Christian faiths (Deut 6:4-5; Mark 12:28-34; Rom 3:30; Gal 3:20; Jas 2:19).

As YHWH begins to move the Divine Judgment Machine, heaven is filled with praise. The One Who Is, Who Was, Who Is to Come will, at last, have His holiness vindicated.

 

Revelation 4

4:1 Come up here. This is not a veiled reference to the rapture of the church, but a command for John to be temporarily transported to heaven “in the Spirit” to receive revelation about future events. The Rapture has occurred somewhere between chapters 3 and 4. We note that the Church is not mentioned again until chapter 19 and God is specifically calling John into the Throne Room of Heaven to see:

what must take place after these things. According to the outline given in Chapter one and verse 19, this begins the third and final section of the book, describing the events that will follow the church age. We need to be absolutely clear here, the events which are described in chapter four and following do not concern the Church. This is the time of Jacobs Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7) and is for the purification of national Israel.

4:2 throne. This is not necessarily a piece of furniture; it is, however a symbol of sovereign rule and Divine authority (7:15; 11:19; 16:17, 18; Isa 6:1). It is not a literal throne, beloved. John is using anthropomorphic terms for us to understand. What shall we understand? The LORD reigns…Superlative Holiness, Perfect Justice, Unencumbered Righteousness, Love, and Joy crown Him as King. Blazing white purity is His garment and the majesty of the dawn the sash around Him. Precious jewels are as pavement and radiate the light of His glory. Indeed when compared with YHWH all that calls itself beautiful must bow its head before living beauty and incomprehensible perfection.

The Throne is the focus of chapter 4, occurring 13 times, 11 times referring to God’s throne. That God is seen as seated on the Throne points to Him exercising His privilege as King, to sit in judgment and governance of all His subjects.

4:3 It is unlikely that this is a description of God Himself. John is most likely using anthropomorphic terminology to aid the reader in understanding.  Further,  what John is describing are the colors he sees as the Lord’s Crown reflects His radiant majesty. jasper. John later describes this stone as “crystal-clear” (21:11). He is probably referring to a diamond, which refracts all the colors of the spectrum in wondrous brilliance. A jasper/diamond would amplify the brilliance of Divine Majesty. In the case of magnifying absolute holiness, a jasper would reflect an unimaginable blazing white light.

sardius. A fiery bright ruby stone named for the city near which it was found (The sardius stone was commonly found near the city of Sardis).

emerald. A cool, emerald-green hue dominates the multi-colored rainbow surrounding God’s throne (cf. Ezekiel 1:28). From the time of Noah, the rainbow became a sign of God’s faithfulness to His Word, His promises, and His Noahic covenant (Genesis 9:12-17).

4:4 twenty-four elders. Their joint rule with Christ, their white garments, and their golden crowns all seem to indicate that these 24 represent the redeemed (verses 9-11; 5:5-14; 7:11-17; 11:16-18; 14:3; 19:4). The question is which redeemed? These Elders cannot be Israel, since the nation is not yet saved, glorified, and coronated. That is still to come at this point in the events of the end. Their resurrection and glory will come at the end of the 7-year tribulation time (Daniel 12:1-3). Tribulation saints aren’t yet saved (7:9, 10). Only one group will be complete and glorified at that point—the church. Here elders represent the church, which sings the song of redemption (5:8-10). They are the overcomers who have their crowns and live in the place prepared for them, where they have gone with Jesus (John 14:1-4). We need, also, to remember that the term elder is used to describe the Sanhedrin, which these are not, and it is also the title of the leaders of the Church. Since the Elder (presbuteros) stands before God to represent the flock, it is logical that the elders mentioned here are analogous to the Church.

4:5 lightning… thunder. Not the fury of nature, but the firestorm of righteous fury about to come from an awesome, powerful God upon a sinful world (8:5; 11:19; 16:18). Much like a storm that blows up on a lake, this is sudden and severe. It will seem like a surprise to the unredeemed world but to God it will not be a surprise but will come at exactly the time He plans for it.

Sudden and severe, the tribulation seems, from Heaven’s perspective, a few brief moments. For those who dwell upon the earth it will be the longest 7 years they have ever experienced For many of them, death will be longed for but never come.

seven Spirits of God. The Holy Spirit in His full perfection.

4:6 sea of glass. There is no sea in heaven (21:1), but the crystal pavement that serves as the floor of God’s throne stretches out like a great, glistening sea (Exodus 24:10; Ezekiel 1:22).

four living creatures. Lit. “four living ones or beings.” These are the most likely cherubim (sing., cherub), those angels frequently referred to in the OT in connection with God’s presence, power, and holiness (Ezekiel 1). Although John’s description is not identical to Ezekiel’s, they are obviously both referring to the same supernatural and indescribable beings (Psalm 80:1; 99:1; Ezekiel 1:4-25

full of eyes. The description of them as being full of eyes is reminiscent of the seraphim in Isaiah chapter 6. However, while these 4 Living Creatures could be seraphim it is more likely they are cherubim. The eyes are metaphoric in nature; although they are not omniscient—an attribute reserved for God alone—these angels have a comprehensive knowledge and perception. Nothing escapes their scrutiny, hence a description of being full of eyes.

4:7 first… like a lion. In what is obviously intended as symbolic language, John compares these 4 beings with 4 of God’s earthly creations. Ezekiel indicates that every cherub has these 4 attributes. The likeness to a lion symbolizes strength and power, a fitting description to an attendant of the King of the Universe. God’s personal attendants are mighty, so mighty in fact that they could easily prevent access to God if ordered to do so.

second… like a calf. The image of a calf demonstrates that these beings render humble service to God. The calf is a humble beast of burden but still strong.

third… face like that of a man. Their likeness to man shows they are rational beings.

fourth… like a flying eagle. The cherubim fulfill their service to God with the swiftness of eagles’ wings.

 

Holy, holy, holy. (Tri-hagion) Often God is extolled for His holiness in this 3-fold form, because it is the summation of all that He is—His most salient attribute (Isa 6:3). Here, again, is why I bring up the possibility that the 4 Living Creatures are seraphim. As in Isaiah, these angels call out holy, holy, holy in what is most likely an antiphonal chorus.

We often miss a significant detail, here. This is not a single tri-hagion, it is four giving us a total of 12 affirmations of God’s holiness. Notice that in Revelation, the number 12 is symbolic of perfection in government or administration. 12 affirmations of God’s holiness tells us that God’s rule and, by consequence, His judgment is executed in absolute perfection, total holiness.  In response to this absolute holiness, all of Heaven praises.

who was and who is and who is to come  

This is the eternal nature of who God is. He always has been (Psalm 90:2), He is I AM (Exodus 3:14), and He always will be (eis tus aionos tau aiono) (Revelation 22)

4:10 cast their crowns. Aware that God alone is responsible for the rewards they have received, they divest themselves of all honor and cast it at the feet of their King.

4:11 You created all things. It is the Creator God who set out to redeem His creation.

Heaven’s response to the person of God and to everything He does is praise. The Church joins in that worship. We join in because He is not just our King, He is our Redeemer and for that, we praise Him

 

To the Church in Laodecia

To the Church in Laodecia

Background:

Laodicea was an important, wealthy city, with a significant Jewish population. Like other cities in the region, it was a center for Caesar worship and the worship of the healing god Asklepios. There was a famous temple of Asklepios in Laodicea, with a more famous medical school connected with the temple.

After an earthquake devastated the region in a.d. 60 Laodicea refused Imperial help to rebuild the city, successfully relying on their own resources. They didn’t need outside help, they didn’t ask for it, and they didn’t want it. “Laodicea was too rich to accept help from anyone. Tacitus, the Roman historian, tells us: ‘Laodicea arose from the ruins by the strength of her own resources, and with no help from us.’” (Barclay)

Laodicea was also a noted commercial center, and some of its goods were exported all over the world. “It is frequently noted that Laodicea prided itself on three things: financial wealth, an extensive textile industry, and a popular eye-salve which was exported around the world.” (Mounce)

 

One of their problems was a poor water supply that made Laodicea vulnerable to attack through siege. If an enemy army surrounded the city, they had insufficient water supplies in the city, and the supplies coming into the city could be easily cut off. Therefore, the leaders of Laodicea were always accommodating to any potential enemy, and always wanted to negotiate and compromise instead of fight.

 

Their main water supply came on a six-mile aqueduct from the hot springs of Hierapolis. Because the water came from hot springs, it arrived unappetizingly lukewarm.

The church of the Laodiceans: The church at Laodicea is mentioned by Paul, possibly in a somewhat unfavorable light in Colossians 2:1 and 4:16. What we do know is that the Laodecian Church was known to Paul. He may have planted the church directly or it could have grown out of the Church in Colosse

 

The Faithful and True Witness: This is Jesus, and this was a contrast to the Laodiceans, who will be shown to be neither faithful nor true.

 

Beginning of the creation of God: The idea behind the word for beginning [the ancient Greek word arche] is that of a “ruler, source, or origin,” not of first in a sequential order. This verse does not teach that Jesus was the first being created, but that He is the ruler, source, and origin of all creation. It has the idea of first in prominence more than first in sequence.

 

Jesus draws an analogy from the water situation in the nearby region.

 

He uses the tepid water as an illustration: Nearby Hierapolis was famous for its hot springs, and Colosse for its cold, refreshing mountain stream. But Laodicea had dirty, tepid water that flowed for miles through an underground aqueduct. Visitors, unaccustomed to it, immediately spat it out

 

In this spiritual sense, lukewarmness is a picture of indifference and compromise. It tries to play the middle, too hot to be cold and too cold to be hot. In trying to be both things, they end up being nothing – except to hear the words, “I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

 

This is sheer and utter revulsion. This particular church is not burning with zeal for their Lord (hot) nor do they hate Him (cold); Jesus is just an accoutrement to the Church in Laodecia. This so disgusts Jesus that His reaction is to vomit. Literally, to spew forth from His mouth, a violent projectile vomiting such as you might experience after taking ipecac syrup to expel an inadvertently ingested poison.

 

Has there been a greater curse upon the earth than empty religion? Is there any soul harder to reach than the one who has just enough of Jesus to think they have enough? The church of Laodicea exemplifies empty religion, and tax collectors and harlots were more open to Jesus than the scribes and Pharisees. These were those who thought they were going to heaven because, “I am basically a good person.”

Naturally, Satan will have us any way he can get us, but he prizes a lukewarm religionist far above a cold-hearted sinner. This one does not require much effort from the Kingdom of Darkness; they are essentially on autopilot straight to hell.

I could wish that you were cold or hot: What Jesus is warning, here is that you cannot play both sides against the middle.

 

Uselessness… “Hot water heals, cold water refreshes, but lukewarm water is useless for either purpose.” (L. Morris) It was as if Jesus said, “If you were hot or cold I could do something with you. But because you are neither, I will do nothing.” The lukewarm Christian has enough of Jesus to satisfy a craving for religion, but not enough for eternal life. Let me put it another way: the lukewarm religionist goes to church on Sunday but has no knowledge of the Scripture but because he just doesn’t care. There is no discipleship, no struggle with sin, no sanctification, no personal holiness. Worse, there is no life.

 

Let’s consider a real life example:

The thief on the cross was cold towards Jesus and clearly saw his need. John was hot towards Jesus and enjoyed a relationship of love; but Judas was lukewarm, following Jesus enough to be considered a disciple, yet not giving his heart over to Jesus in fullness.

 

Don’t you get it? Can’t you see? Most of the Church in Laodecia IS the exact type of alleged Christian who hear the most terrible words that will ever be spoken, “Depart from me. I never knew you, ye that work iniquity.) Jesus is reinforcing the warning He gave in Matthew’s Gospel. This is not to say that all of Laodecia was useless. Remember that these letters were written to believers and so the admonition to repent that comes will be for the true Christians in Laodecia.

 

Lukewarm Christians and their pseudo prayers mock God. “O my brethren and sisters, have you ever really thought what an insult it is to God when we come before him with lukewarm prayers? There stands the heavenly mercy-seat; the road to it is sprinkled with the precious blood of Jesus, yet we come to it with hearts that are cold, or we approach it leaving our hearts behind us. We kneel in the attitude of prayer, yet we do not pray. We prattle out certain words, we express thoughts, which are not our real desires, we feign wants that we do not feel. Do we not thus degrade the mercy-seat? We make it, as it were, a common lounging-place, rather than an awful wrestling-place, once besprinkled with blood, and often to be besprinkled with the sweat of our fervent supplication.” (Spurgeon)

 

Such lives turn people away from Jesus. “Now, lukewarm professor, what do worldlings see in you? They see a man, who says he is going to heaven, but who is only travelling at a snail’s pace. He professes to believe that there is a hell, yet he has tearless eyes, and never seeks to snatch souls from going down into the pit. They see before them one who has to deal with eternal realities, yet he is but half awake; one who professes to have passed through a transformation so mysterious and wonderful that there must be, if it is true, a vast change in the outward life as the result of it; yet they see him as much like themselves as can be. He may be morally consistent in his general behavior, but they see no energy in his religious character.” (Spurgeon)

“The careless worldling is lulled to sleep by the lukewarm professor, who, in this respect, acts the part of the siren to the sinner, playing sweet music in his ears, and even helping to lure him to the rocks where he will be destroyed. This is a solemn matter, beloved. In this way, great damage is done to the cause of truth; and God’s name and God’s honor are compromised by inconsistent professors. I pray you either to give up your profession, or to be true to it. If you really are God’s people, then serve him with all your might; but if Baal be your god, then serve him. If the flesh be worth pleasing, then serve the flesh; but if God be Lord paramount, then cleave to him.” (Spurgeon)

 

We could suggest that lukewarmness is the natural tendency of our fallen natures. “Alas, this state of lukewarmness is so congenial with human nature that it is hard to fetch men from it. Cold makes us shiver, and great heat causes us pain, but a tepid bath is comfort itself. Such a temperature suits human nature. The world is always at peace with a lukewarm church, and such a church is always pleased with itself.” (Spurgeon)

Spurgeon also gives us an excellent description of the lukewarm church.

  • They have prayer-meetings, but there are few present, for they like quiet evenings home.
  • When more attend the meetings they are still very dull, for they do their praying very deliberately and are afraid of being too excited.
  • They are content to have all things done decently and in order, but vigor and zeal are considered to be vulgar.
  • They may have schools, Bible-classes, preaching rooms, and all sorts of agencies; but they might as well be without them, for no energy is displayed and no good comes of them.
  • They have deacons and elders who are excellent pillars of the church, if the chief quality of pillars be to stand still, and exhibit no motion or emotion.
  • The pastor does not fly very far in preaching the everlasting Gospel, and he certainly has no flame of fire in his preaching.
  • The pastor may be a shining light of eloquence, but he certainly is not a burning light of grace, setting men’s hearts on fire.
  • Everything is done in a half-hearted, listless, dead-and-alive way, as if it did not matter much whether it was done or not.
  • Things are respectably done, the rich families are not offended, the skeptical party is conciliated, and the good people are not quite alienated: things are made pleasant all around.
  • The right things are done, but as to doing them with all your might, and soul, and strength, a Laodicean church has no notion of what that means.
  • They are not so cold as to abandon their work, or to give up their meetings for prayer, or to reject the gospel.

 

“They are neither hot for the truth, nor hot for conversions, nor hot for holiness, they are not fiery enough to burn the stubble of sin, nor zealous enough to make Satan angry, nor fervent enough to make a living sacrifice of themselves upon the altar of their God. They are ‘neither cold nor hot.’” (Spurgeon)

I will vomit you out of My mouth: In short, Jesus is so repulsed by the phony worship, He rejects it entirely.

 

In Amos 5:21, the Lord speaks of His opinion of the false worship. “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.”

 

You say, “I am rich and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” The church at Laodicea lacked a sense spiritual poverty. They looked at their spiritual condition and said “rich.” They looked again and said “wealthy.” They looked a third time and said, “We have need of nothing.” They were the opposite of blessed are the poor in spirit Jesus spoke of in Matthew 5:3.

The Laodiceans put their trust in material prosperity, in outward luxury, and in physical health. They felt like they didn’t need anything. “The loss of a sense of need, as the drowsiness that besets a freezing man, is fatal.” (Newell)

“The cause of Christ has been hurt more by Sunday-morning bench-warmers who pretend to love Christ, who call Him Lord but do not His commands, than by all the publicans and sinners.” (Havner)

And do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked: It wasn’t that the church at Laodicea wasn’t spiritually poor – they were, they were simply blind to it. Jesus looked at their spiritual condition and said, “wretched.” He looked again and said, “miserable.” A third time Jesus looked and said, “poor.” He looked again and said, “blind.” A final time Jesus looked and He saw that they were spiritually naked.

 

The city of Laodicea was famous for its wealth, but the Christians of the city were spiritually wretched, miserable, and poor. Laodicea was famous for its healing eye salve, but the Christians of the city were spiritually blind. Laodicea was famous for its fine clothing, but the Christians of the city were spiritually naked.

The contrasts are shocking:

  • The contrast between what they think they are and what they really are.
  • The contrast between what they see and what Jesus sees.
  • The contrast between the wealth and affluence of their city and their own spiritual bankruptcy.

 

You are: Remember this wasn’t just an opinion of Jesus. Spiritually speaking, they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. What Jesus saw in them was more important than how they saw themselves. The church in Smyrna thought they were poor when they were really rich (Revelation 2:9), but the church of the Laodiceans believe they are rich when they are really poor.

 

We might say that it all began with their spiritual blindness. If you are blind, you can’t look at yourself and see that you are wretched, miserable, poor… and naked. Mental darkness is worse than a loss of sight; but a loss of spiritual vision is even worse.

“The Laodiceans are typical of the modern world, which revels in that which the natural eye can see but is untouched by the gospel and does not see beyond the veil of the material to the unseen and real eternal spiritual riches.” (Walvoord)

Donald Barnhouse:

“Yet upon a church that has sunk so low as Laodicea, the risen Lord still showers His love.”  I would point out that this showing of love is the opportunity to repent.

Therefore be zealous and repent: He commanded them to make a decision to repent, and to continue in zeal. “Turn your way,” Jesus said. “Don’t look to your own riches and resources, because they are really bankrupt. Turn around and look to Me.”

 

The ancient Greek word zealous comes from the same word as hot in Revelation 3:16. Though Jesus detested their lukewarmness, He would really rather them be hot with zeal rather than cold.

 

Behold, I stand at the door and knock: Jesus gave this lukewarm church The Great Invitation. He knocked at their door, asking entry to come and dine with them, in the sense of sharing warm, intimate time. It only happens as we respond to His knock, but the promise is made to all: If anyone hears my voice.

 

This is a verse very often taken out of context. It is not an appeal to a sinner to “invite Jesus into your heart. ” It’s a nice sentiment, even tugs at the heartstrings but it’s out of context.”

 

“Christ stands – waits long. This is a picture of the longsuffering Jesus who waits patiently and gives the opportunity to re-enter into fellowship with Him he knocks – uses judgments, mercies, reproofs, exhortations, to induce sinners to repent and turn to him; he lifts up his voice – calls loudly by his word, ministers, and Spirit.”

Jesus’ sheep know His voice- they hear His voice

 

I will come into him: What a glorious promise! If we open the door, He will come in. He won’t ring the bell and run away. He promised to come in, and then to dine with the believer.

 

When Jesus said dine with him, He spoke of a specific meal known as the deipnon. “The deipnon was the main meal of the day and was a leisurely affair, not a hurried snack.” (L. Morris)

 

This speaks of fellowship. This speaks of a depth to the relationship. Let me add a cultural note: In the Mediterranean culture, this was, and still is, the main way of fellowshipping and even showing honor.  Those who come to your table for this meal are your trusted intimates literal family as well as those you treat like family.

 

This meal occurs at a fairly leisurely pace. There is no more work for the day so now we relax, we have good food, mirth, perhaps even entertainment. The evening meal is where we enjoy each other.

 

This is where Jesus wants us, in the place of fellowship with Him. Everything He said to the Laodicean church up to this point must be seen in light of this loving desire for fellowship. “Rebuke and chastisement are no signs of rejection from Christ, but of His abiding and pleading love, even to the lukewarm and careless.” (Alford)

 

If anyone: Notice that Jesus gave the call to individuals. He didn’t say, “If any church,” but if anyone. “We must not talk about setting the church right, we must pray for grace each one for himself, for the text does not say, ‘If the church will open the door,’ but ‘If any man hear my voice and open the door.’ It must be done by individuals: the church will only get right by each man getting right.” (Spurgeon)

 

The overcomer is promised to be in the Presence of Jesus forever. Consider the words of Adam Clarke

“This is the worst of the seven Churches, and yet the most eminent of all the promises are made to it, showing that the worst may repent, finally conquer, and attain even to the highest state of glory.”

 

Understanding the End Times (Guest Post)

Understanding the End Times (Guest Post)

One of the most misunderstood sub-doctrines in escahtology is the Tribulation. Today, we are turning to one of our favorite theologians, James Quiggle for some wisdom on the period known as the Tribulation…

 

At Matthew 24:3, Jewish men asked the man they believed to be the Jewish Messiah three questions about the Jewish Kingdom which the Jewish Messiah had for three years proclaimed to be “at hand.” These three questions were:

— When will these things be?
— What will be the sign of your coming?
— What will be the sign of the end of the age?

These Jewish men asked these three questions about the coming Jewish Kingdom because the Jewish Messiah had told them the then-standing Jewish temple would be destroyed, Matt 24:1–2.

That prophesy by the Jewish Messiah of the destruction of the Jewish temple meant something eschatological to those Jewish men. Ezekiel 40 ff. describes a new city and temple built for Messiah’s reign in his Davidic Kingdom. If the current temple was to be destroyed, did that mean their Messiah Jesus the Christ was about to bring about the end of the age and inaugurate his Davidic-Messianic reign?

In response, the Jewish Messiah gave them an explanation that sums into three answers to their three questions.

Question One: “When will these things be?”
Answer: “When you see these events happening, that is when these things will be.”

Question Two: “What will be the sign of your coming?”
Answer: “My coming will be as unmistakable as the lightening.”

Question Three: “What will be the sign of the end of the age?”
Answer: “When my sign appears in heaven it marks the end of the age.”

None of those answers fit into the New Testament church age. They were answers given to Jewish men who had asked the Jewish Messiah questions about the coming Jewish Kingdom.

The Olivet discourse wherein those answers were given may be outlined thusly:

— Matthew 24:4–14, the character of the Tribulation period.
— Matthew 24:15–28, the period of great tribulation during the Tribulation period.
— Matthew 24:29–31, the signs of Messiah’s second advent ending the Tribulation period.
— Matthew 24:32–51, the signs and character of the end of the age prior to the Davidic-Messianic reign.

Because the questions and the discourse and the answers were the response of the Jewish Messiah to Jewish men asking the Jewish Messiah about the coming Jewish kingdom, the Olivet discourse, Matthew 24–25, says absolutely nothing, nada, zilch, zero about the New Testament church.

The purpose of the Olivet discourse was to inform Jewish (and Gentile) sinners who would be saved during the Tribulation, so they would know they were in the Tribulation, and would know what to look for in relation to the, “abomination of desolation,” and the advent of the Messiah.

The New Testament describes the church age as the last time/last hour, 1 John 2:18; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 18. the “last hour” or “last time” is the period of time immediately preceding the latter days, last days. The New Testament church dispensation is the last time/last hour before the end times/Tribulation.

BTW the phrase “end times,” is not a biblical phrase. The “end times” is a phrase used by popular but biblically inaccurate eschatology. The New Testament phrase is the “Last days,” a period of time sometimes used as synonymous with “last time/last hour” and sometimes synonymous with “latter days.” Acts 2:17; 2 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 1:2; James 5:3; 2 Peter 3:3.

“Latter Days,” is an Old Testament term for the Tribulation that immediately precedes the second advent, Isaiah 2:2; Jeremiah 30:24; Ezekiel 38:16; Daniel 2:28; 10:14; Micah 4:1–5.

So, let me sum up. Matthew 24, 25 are about the last days/latter days, which are the biblical terms for the Tribulation. The New Testament church age is the last time/last hour before the last days/latter days. Matthew 24, 25 are not addressed to the New Testament church and have no application to the New Testament church age.

Bonus: if you are looking for what gospel eschatology says about the New Testament church age, see John 14:2–3. If you want to know what to do during this New Testament church age, see John 21:22 (“You follow me.”) and 1 John 3:2–3, the hope that prepares for the Rapture. Stop looking for signs and live for Christ.

So why do Matthew 24:4–8 seem to so perfectly describe the New Testament church age? Wars and famines and pestilences and earthquakes in various places—which actually correspond with Tribulation events, Matthew 24:4–13 with Revelation 6:1–8. One reason these seem to correspond to the New Testament church age is because Satan does not know the future. Satan reads the same Scriptures you read, and from those Scriptures he understands he cannot know when these things will be.

Satan does not know, but he wants to be prepared. So since the ascension of Christ, Satan has kept the world in turmoil so it will be ready for the time when his Antichrist arrives: wars and rumors of wars; nation against nation. He always has some man or men in readiness to step in, should it be his time, should the Last time/Last hour end and the last days/latter days begin.

As to the rest, as to famines and pestilences and earthquakes in various places during the New Testament church age, that is just the natural world and the natural man (unsaved man) doing what the natural world and the natural man do. They are not the famines and pestilences and earthquakes in various places of the Tribulation, just the famines and pestilences and earthquakes in various places that occur naturally in a sinful world.

When will these things be? During the Tribulation period. Stop looking for signs and live for Christ.

 

 

A brief sketch of the end times (Guest Post)

A brief sketch of the end times (Guest Post)

Our favorite guest, James Quiggle, Th.M. has provided us with an overvuew of the End Times….

 

1. We are not in the end times. The NT church age is the last time before the end times.

2. We cannot know how close we are to the end times. Christ’s return is imminent (at any moment) and the entire NT church age, from the Ascension to the Rapture, is the last time before the end times.

3. The NT church will be taken out of the world, the Rapture, prior to the beginning of the Tribulation. Immediately after the Rapture the works of the resurrected/transformed NT church members will be judged for rewards (not salvation) at the Judgment (Bema) seat of Christ.

4. The Tribulation begins with the events of Dan. 9:27a, is 2,520 sunset to sunset days long, and is divided into two periods of 1,260 sunset to sunset days.

5. Christ’s second advent ends the Tribulation. All the resurrected saved of all the dispensations, including the NT church, returns to the earth with Christ at his second advent.

6. Christ will inaugurate his Davidic-Messianic-Millennial reign after the second advent.

7. When the millennial reign ends, there will be a judgment (the Great White Throne, GWT) of the resurrected unsaved, not to determine their eternal destiny, but to determine the quality of their eternal punishment.

8. The eternal state, of a new heaven and earth (the old having been destroyed), and God visibly dwelling with humankind, begins immediately following the GWT.

Spiritual Renewal Themes in Revelation

Spiritual Renewal Themes in Revelation

Revelation is one of the more complex books in the Bible but at the same time, we see principles for Spiritual Renewal and we also see the restoration of the creation during the Millennial Kingdom

God Rules Over All
God is sovereign. He is greater than any other power in the universe. Nothing and no one can compare to him. When we look at the turmoil in the world today, the problems we face, the pain we have suffered or the pain we have caused others, we may wonder whether God will really be able to right all the wrongs. But John wrote this book to assure us that though evil may seem to win today’s battles, God is all-powerful and will assert himself for his people. In the end, all things will be made new in Christ.

God Is the Source of Hope
The book of Revelation reveals to us the ultimate source of hope—Jesus Christ. He is coming again and will deal with the problems of our sin-scarred world, restoring what is broken and dealing with the injustices around us. Life is never hopeless, regardless of what has happened to us or what we have done. We can focus on God’s love, grace and forgiveness. He has made our restoration possible in Christ, and Christ will return to complete his task of renewal throughout all creation. If we are looking to Christ, we can hang on to our hope despite the difficult circumstances that we may face.

The Pain of Consequences
Every one of us cries out for justice. When evil and injustice prosper, we begin to feel angry. It often appears that people get away with their selfish and wicked deeds. But in reality God will judge all wicked actions. Those who openly defy him will ultimately face the awful consequences of their sin. Those who turn to God in repentance for forgiveness need not fear the future day of judgment. Judgment is an awful thing, and the pain of sin’s consequences should motivate us to turn our lives over to God and obediently follow his plan.

Excerpted from the NIV Spiritual Renewal Study Bible c.2005 by Zondervan

First Church of the Tares (Sermon Notes on Sardis)

First Church of the Tares (Sermon Notes on Sardis)

Sardis is, for all intents and purposes, dead. They had the appearance of being a lively church and even had that

reputation but they were dead. Many so called Christians are the same way, today; they are basically dead but their bodies have not caught up yet.

The Church in Sardis calls to mind the parable of the wheat and the tares and it must for Sardis is, itself, a  church full of tares. Let’s look for a minute…

 

Matthew 13:24-29

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

For ease of understanding:

  • The field is the world, not the hearts of men.
  • The seeds are the Gospel.
  • The harvest is the Church.
  • The wheat and the tares are true and false believers.

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The interesting thing about this analogy is the distinction of the two at maturity. The wheat and tares are identical when young and is difficult to make the distinction. However, as the wheat matures, it begins to bear fruit (grain). The weight of the grain becomes heavy and bows the head of the wheat (as in humility). The tares bear no fruit (grain) and stands straight and tall (proud), almost as if calling attention to themselves.

 

Sardis, the dead church, is full of tares  and we see the result of that in today’s lesson.

You have a name, that you are alive

More accurately, a reputation. Like Thyatira, this was a church that looked good. The best way to describe Sardis…

  • The right music? We got it
  • Social programs? Go those too
  • Activism? We got it
  • Tithes and offerings? Cash is rolling in
  • Pedigree? The pastor went to the right seminaries and has all the right degrees.
  • Bible exposition and Jesus? Not so much

 

It is safe to say, just about nobody felt out of place in Sardis. They had the rituals and liturgy down pat. They were open and affirming.  Somebody gave a talk every Sunday but not necessarily from the Bible…

 

We say appearances can be deceiving, but nowhere is that more true than in the spiritual realm of churches, in dealing with the genuine spiritual state of both individuals and churches — appearances can be deceiving. It is possible for an individual person or a church to appear to be alive spiritually, but actually be dead. The Puritans called such an individual a “Gospel hypocrite.” The word “hypocrite” actually is related to the Greek word for “actor,” referring to someone who puts on a mask. When it comes to the Christian Gospel, it refers to a person who goes through the forms, the outward motions of Christianity, but inside is spiritually dead.

 

It is one thing for you or I to think a church is dead. When the Lord of the Church says it’s dead, we can go right to the funeral sermon since it is most assuredly dead.

 

Symptoms your  church is dying

  • A dying church rests on its past accomplishments and is satisfied with its presence state.
  • A dying church is more concerned about their rituals and their formalities than they are about spirituality.
  • A dying church is more concerned about social change than they are about seeing people changed by the power of God.
  • A dying church is more concerned with material growth than it is with spiritual growth.
  • A dying church is more concerned with pleasing men that it is with pleasing God.
  • A dying church clings more tightly to its creeds and confessions that it does to the Word of God.
  • A dying church is one that loses its conviction that the Bible is the Word of God.

When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees, He might as well have been talking to the Church in Sardis. Matthew 23:27-28  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside, are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous, but inside, you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

 

 

The question is, why? Why does this happen? Why was the church at Sardis dead? The cause of death is always the same — sin. Romans 6:23: “… the wages of sin is death.” James 1:14-15 said, “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” That is how death happens.

Let’s look a little deeper…

Dead: Despite their reputation of life, Jesus saw them for what they really were. But you are dead shows that a good reputation is no guarantee of true spiritual character. Despite their good appearance, Jesus saw them as dead. You have heard the term “dead orthodoxy” and Sardis is a prime example. Notice that Jesus does not say anything about the liturgy, the place of meeting, the giving, or anything that we might look at. There is no passion, no zeal. In Ephesus we said love for Christ had grown cold; here it is flat out gone. Spiritually, they were stone dead, their bodies just had not caught up.

 

Because they were dead, it is likely that there was no struggle, no fight, no persecution. It wasn’t that the church at Sardis was losing the battle. A dead body has lost the battle, and the fight seems over. There is no exhortation to keep up the fight because there probably wasn’t any to be had in the first place. Why was there no persecution, no struggle?  Being dead, the church in Sardis presented no significant threat to Satan’s domain, so it wasn’t worth attacking. My mentor, Mike, has told me several times, if you are in the midst of persecution or testing, you can be sure that you are doing what God wants you to do and the Kingdom of Darkness does not like it. Remember, Satan is described as a dragon, a roaring lion, and a serpent but never a vulture. He does not need to pick at the carcass of a dead church so why bother with it?

Sardis was “A perfect model of inoffensive Christianity.” (Caird) Their problem was not scandalous wickedness, but a decent death. Their image said “alive,” but in substance they were dead.

“The church of Sardis was at peace – but it was the peace of the dead.” (Barclay)

You see Rest in Peace on many a tombstone-well Sardis was doing just exactly that; they rested in a false peace and it killed them.

Resurrecting and Warning

Jesus commands the church to be watchful. There is no need for a dead body to watch anything so we can infer that Jesus is willing to raise up the dead which are in the church in Sardis. Also, this warning goes out to those who have not yet died spiritually but are sick, and it also warns those in the church who are lively, so that they do not fall into the trap of complacency. Remember, that in every church,  no matter how dead it seems, Jesus has reserved a remnant.

Be watchful: This first instruction from Jesus told them they need to examine and protect, strengthening what they have. The things which remain tells us that though the spiritual condition of the church of Sardis was bad, it wasn’t hopeless. Spiritually, there were things which remain that could be strengthened. Jesus had not given up on them and though they were dead, Jesus is Lord of the resurrection and could call them back to life in an instant.

 

I have not found your works perfect before God: This shows that their works, though present, had not measured up to God’s standard. The presence of works isn’t enough because God requires a particular intent and purpose in all of our works. They should be done with a heart and in a manner that show them to be perfect before God. James 1:27  “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

 

The attitude and motivation of the works is what God evaluates. Works not done for God’s glory and His pleasure are not only found to be imperfect, they are rejected.

 

Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent: What they must do was to remember how they first received and heard the Word of God. Then they must hold fast to those things, and repent by turning and restoring the gospel and apostolic doctrine to authority over their lives.

 

Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief: Jesus warned them of the great danger in failing to watch. If they ignored His command to be watchful, then Jesus would come upon them as a thief, at a time completely unexpected.

 

I will come upon you: How would Jesus come upon them? He could come in the sense bringing immediate judgment. Or, He could come in the sense of His coming at the rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Used in either sense, it showed He might come suddenly and unannounced, so they must be watchful.

 

 

You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments: Even among the dead Christians in Sardis, there was a faithful remnant, but only a few names. In Pergamos (Revelation 2:14) and in Thyatira (Revelation 2:20) there were a few bad among the good; in Sardis there were a few good among the bad.

 

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments: Jesus identified the overcomers with those few names who have not defiled their garments (Revelation 3:4). These overcomers would wear white garments, received from Jesus.

 

The Book of Life

We need to pause to consider the Book of Life…

]It appears that there is a book of life that contains all the names of those living, Ex. 32:32.  It also appears that there is a Lamb’s Book of Life that contains all the names of the redeemed, Rev. 21:27.  When a person is saved, their names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Jesus said that this was the real reason for rejoicing, Luke 10:20.  It may be that when a person dies lost, their name is blotted out of the book of the living.  So, when the end comes, the names written in both books will match.

 

There is a Book of Life that is the registry of the living. We see it referenced in the OT.

 

In the OT the “book of life” (or its equivalents) was a register of the citizens of the theocratic community of Israel. To have one’s name written in the book of life implied the privilege of participation in the temporal blessings of the theocracy, while to be erased or blotted out of this book meant exclusion from those blessings. In other words, this book had reference to the rights of citizenship for the Jewish people (cf. Ex. 32:32; Ps. 69:28; Isa. 4:3).

 

There is a Book of Life, and it will be opened and referenced on the Day of Judgement. This means that the Book of Life is real, and will be read.

 

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. (Revelation 20:12)

 

There is a Book of Life, and it determines if we go to heaven or hell. This means that the Book of Life is important.

 

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)

 

There is a Book of Life, and knowing our names are written there should bring us great joy.

Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20)