Monday, May 30, 2011
Recently I read a devotional article in ODB based on (2 Tim 2:1-7), where Paul warns us about becoming attached to worldly things or activities. This is certainly more of a danger now in the 21st century than it was in the time Paul wrote this letter to his young associate Timothy. There are so many attractive things in our world now that we can become entangled with. Things that are not necessarily sinful, but simply take up a lot of our time and attention that might be better spent pursuing spiritual progress on the "Agape Road". This is the title of a book by Bob Mumford, and a DVD series of teaching by Bob based on this book. It is an excellent teaching that lays a sound Biblical foundation for a life that pleases Father, I highly recommend it. Every new believer in Jesus should be exposed to solid scriptural teaching like this, before they are indoctrinated with some church doctrines that are not based on God's Word, but instead on some man's theories. These can become a distraction from the truth that Jesus taught, and be very difficult to break free from, once they are firmly set in our mind.
Paul talks a lot about this danger in his second letter to Timothy mentioned above. In verse 4 he states "Soldiers don't get tied up in the affairs of civilized life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them". (NLT) Jesus enlists us as followers of Him, the moment we are "born again", and become "new creatures in Christ". (2 Cor 5:17) We are then part of His "army", and no longer part of this world system. John also has something to say about this same thing in his first letter (1 John 2:15-17). This is a very important thing for a believer to understand, that we can not serve 2 masters!
We cannot possibly still be in the world, and be involved in activities that non believers are involved in, if we expect to please our heavenly Father. The choice is always left up to us; we can make a right choice or a wrong one. In the OT in a chapter written by Moses (Deut 30:19), we read "Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings or curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants would live". (NLT). This is a very important choice that we all must make, that will affect where we spend eternity! So my advice to all who happen to read this article, if you are a follower of Jesus, be sure to become "unattached" to the world before it's too late!! And if are not yet a follower of Jesus, why not become one today?
Monday, May 23, 2011
THE KINGDOM NOW
This expression of "Kingdom now" was first heard by me more than 30 years ago, and was meant to describe a group of people who believed that the Kingdom of God is presently active on the earth today. It was considered by some denominational leaders that this was a "heretical" teaching. These leaders had been influenced by the teaching that came into the church in the early 1900's by Dr C, I. Scofield. He produced a Bible called The Scofield Reference Bible, which became quite popular. He introduced the theory that all of human history could be divided into seven periods of time that he called "dispensations". Hence this teaching became know as "dispensational" teaching. One part of this teaching declared that every dispensation had to end before the next one could start. This has caused a lot of confusion in the body of Christ, because it is clearly in error. God divided history into only two parts , called the Old Covenant, and the New Covenant, with the ministry of John the Baptist as the dividing point between the two. (Matt 11:11). And these words were spoken by Jesus, so we know they are true! The Kingdom came to earth with the King, Jesus at his incarnation. He often referred to the Kingdom as being "near", or "in your midst" when He was here in person. Because at the present it is invisible and exists only in the hearts of true believers, but when He comes back in the clouds of glory to receive His "Church/Bride" His Kingdom will then be fully manifested!
So those believers who are locked into this dispensational teaching, which places the Kingdom age as being yet future, naturally believe that it can't come as long as the church is still here on earth. Unfortunately this teaching has spawned many false teachings that have become popular in the church. One of these teachings, that has become a firmly established doctrine is the Pretribulation Rapture theory, that teaches that the church must be removed before the end time scenario can begin. This of course includes the church going through the period known as the "great tribulation", first prophesied by Daniel, and confirmed by Jesus in the 24th chapter of Matthew, Paul in his second letter to the Thessalonians, and by John in Revelation. How a false doctrine like this can exist in the face of so many scriptures that teach the exact opposite, is a mystery. But I believed it, and taught it for many years. This is an example of the power of deception, which I know first hand, having believed it for over 30 years!
Thank God I heard about a different teaching known as the Prewrath Rapture, which is clearly based on scripture. We followers of Jesus will certainly not be here when God pours out His "Wrath", that Jesus bore for us on the cross, but we will go through the "wrath of the antichrist", known as the "great tribulation". As I now understand it, God will use this period of persecution to purify His Church so she will be ready for the rapture, which will be followed by God's Wrath. (Rev 15:5-8, 16:1-21)!!
Monday, May 16, 2011
KINGDOM VIEW OF THE WORLD.
As followers of Jesus, God expects us to develop a "world view" regarding His Kingdom principles, and how we can help them to be established in the world. We understand from (Isa 9:6-7), where we read the promise of the future coming of the One who will one day rule the world forever. We know this to be Jesus Christ, and the NT gives us the history of His birth, ministry, death, and resurrection. So we know that Jesus was "born to reign"! And from (Rom 5:17) we learn that we have been "Born again" to "reign with Him".This is both a tremendous privilege, but also a tremendous responsibility! Many followers of Jesus do not realize that this applies to us now in this
present age, because they have been taught that the Kingdom age is yet future, and won't begin until after the church age ends. But the truth is that the Kingdom came from heaven to earth with the King at His first coming as the Babe in the manger. So we are now living in the time of "the Kingdom now", although it is invisible at the present time, and will be fully manifested when Jesus comes for His second appearance in the clouds of glory, as stated clearly in various scriptures.
So what this should mean to us is that all spheres of our society should be under the control and influence of the Kingdom! This would include individuals, families, churches, governments, judicial systems, education, business and commerce, media and arts, entertainment, etc. We know that at this present time in our 21st century. this is certainly not the case. Why is this so? And what can we do about it? The "Church" that Jesus has been in the process of building, from "born again" believers over the past 2000 years, is His chief instrument that He desires to use! We are meant to infiltrate all segments of society, and be the "salt and light" that will keep the society from becoming completely corrupt! We may think it couldn't become any worse than it already is, but I'm sure that from God's perspective He sees things differently!
As representatives of the Kingdom of God on earth, or "ambassadors" (2 Cor 5:20), we have our work cut out for us! We have the responsibility and calling to reproduce the Kingdom of God in every area of society. Jesus expects more from His followers than just being a faithful attender of some "church", He expects us to do our part to act as the conscience of society, to act as a restraint against the misuse of governing authority, we should hold the government morally accountable to live up to its delegated authority from God. Here is a quote from George Ladd "The Kingdom of God is a dynamic concept which refers to the kingly reign or rule of God which broke into history decisively in the incarnation and will come to its fulness at our Lord's return.". The Kingdom of God is transcendent and immanent-- past, present, and future! As followers of Jesus, it is essential that we understand this fact!!!
Friday, May 13, 2011
I would like to issue a challenge to those believers in Jesus who have been taught that the return of Jesus to earth to receive His Church/Bride could happen at "any moment". This is a very popular belief that is known as the Pretribulation Rapture, which had its roots back in 1832, when what has been often referred to as the "secret rapture" teaching, began in a break away group from the Presbyterian Church lad by a man named Edward Irving, who called his group the Apostolic Catholic Church. Around this time John Darby started the Plymouth Brethren movement who endorsed this teaching and made it part of his doctrine. Darby was a popular Bible teacher, and later when Dr C.I.Scofield brought out his popular reference Bible in the early 1900's which declared that all of history could be divided into seven dispensations, then when the secret rapture teaching was combined with Dr Scofield's dispensational teaching, apparently the Pretribulation Rapture doctrine was born. So with that brief background, which can be checked out in church history records, here is my challenge. I hereby challenge you to check out three scripture passages, and study them carefully without depending on your preconceived ideas about when the timing of the rapture might be.
1/ (Matt 24:1-36) These were words spoken by Jesus to His disciples, in which He answered two questions they had put to Him. Pay special attention to "time words" like "then", "Immediately after" etc. which helps to follow the sequence. Remember these are the reported words of Jesus, which are definitely true!
2/ (2 Thess 2:1-17) These are words written by the apostle Paul to this church he had planted several years earlier. And like all scripture it is inspired by the Holy Spirit
(2 Tim 3:16). Notice how clearly he declares that Jesus can't return until after the "man of lawlessness" (the antichrist) makes his appearance!
3/ (Rev 13:1-10) These words are part of the description of the "antichrist" who will arise at some future date, given by John when trying to explain what he saw in this vision, like all the other visions he recorded, were given to him by Jesus. Notice some of the expressions he uses about this man being given "authority" to do the things he will do to God's "holy people", often referred to as "saints". Who gives him this authority? We know from Jesus' statement recorded in (Matt 28:18) "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth". So I assume that He must have given this authority to this servant of Satan for a purpose. Could it be to purify His Church, to make her ready to be raptured? This is the conclusion I have come to after many years of studying these and many other scriptures. What conclusion have you come to?
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
CREATION (part 2)
In part 1 we suggested there could be two possible scenarios on creation 1/ It was created all at once in 6 days of 24 hours each, or 2/ It was created over a long period of time as a process of refining it from a formless mass of matter into a "universe" containing a globe called "earth" that was capable of sustaining human life. Of these two choices, I definitely hold to the second scenario, based on scientific facts. Like the fossil found nearly 100 years ago in Joggins NS, and has recently been in the news, estimated to be some 300 millions years old. Either way it may have happened, certainly there is no question about our Creator God being the One who made it happen! I believe there could be a "gap" of many years between verses 1 and 2 of Moses' account of creation as recorded , starting in chapter 1 of Genesis. I believe our God is perfect, and could not possibly create a universe in the condition described in verse 2, unless Moses was only referring to the first stage of many involved in preparing it for sustaining life! We may never know the answer to this question, in (Deut 29:29) we read that "The Lord our God has secrets known to no one." But because of man's interest in knowing all about our past, and especially about our future, we often fall prey to "false prophets" who pretend to know the future. Perhaps we should be content to allow God to keep some of His secrets to Himself!
From these examples we can see that God has always had a particular time and place for things to happen, as in the case of creation of our universe. And how He did it, and when it happened, or how long it took to complete is known only to Him! Likewise, when Jesus will return to earth to receive His Church/Bride is known only by the Father! No matter how many theories man has come up with as to the time and details of this great future event, no one but Father God knows for sure. But He does give us lots of warnings in scripture to be waiting expectantly for His Return!!