Thursday, 31 March 2016

When Will Christ Return?

Following along with this month's topic, I want to explain about the great hope of Jesus returning, a precious hope held by many believers. Sadly, some false teachers mislead naive students into believing in their pseudo-prophetic dates which they set as the day of his return.

Jesus said that no man knows the day when he'll return but the Father only. Yet there are always those self-proclaimed prophets who claim to know the whereabouts of his coming and when it will be. As Jesus said in Matthew 24:23 (KJV), "Then if any man shall say unto you, 'Lo, here is Christ,' or 'there;' believe it not."

Neither will Christ's return be a secret snatching away of believers. As Luke recorded in Acts 1:11 (KJV) regarding what the two angels spoke,, "Which also said, 'Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.'"

The Apostle Paul made it quite clear that the Lord's return won't go unnoticed by the world. He penned in 1 Thesalonians 4:16-18, (KJV), "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: 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: 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."

Some folks think that meeting the Lord in the air means we'll stay there for seven years. That's stretching the verse far past its meaning. We know that returning kings were met in ancient times on their way home by crowds of adoring subjects. So it will be when Jesus returns.

My new book will deal in part with the subject of Christ's return. This is a serious matter and believers need to have their hearts ready for that glorious event. Watch this space for updates on the book which I'm calling You Think You're Going to Heaven?

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

What's the Holy Spirit's Job?

How sad that many Christians don't know who the Holy Spirit is or what he does. Some believe he's some sort of force which they can use to speak in tongues. Others think he doesn't matter much in the life of a Christian. On the contrary, he does matter and, as I've posted before, he's a person.

First of all, this third member of the Trinity is our teacher. As Jesus comforted his disciples before he ascended to heaven, he said in John 15:26( KJV), "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will  send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which  proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:"

Jesus also elaborated in John 16:13 (KJV), "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he  will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but  whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show  you things to come."

Furthermore, the Holy Spirit helps us discern true followers from false ones. Look at what scripture says in 1 John 4:6 (KJV), "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us;  he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of  truth, and the spirit of error."

The Holy Spirit likewise reminds us of what Christ said. John 14:26 (KJV) states, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost,  whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all  things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I  have said unto you."

The Holy Spirit also comforts us but not exclusively in the modern understanding of the word. He strengthens our faith and assures us of what is true. Acts 9:31 (KJV) states, "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied."

This post is getting lengthy so suffice it to say that the Holy Spirit has much to do with genuine Christians. May he open your spiritual eyes to all the Lord's truth.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

What's Good About Good Friday?

This month's posts have been leading up to this question. After all, since Christ came to save sinners through his atoning death on the cross, we must understand how vile sin is. We also need to understand why only a sinless, eternal being could fulfill the law which God gave to the Israelites.

The "good" in Good Friday is that Jesus went to the cross for whosoever would believe in him. He could have "chickened out" but he went through with his mission. In Matthew 26:53 (KJV) Jesus said to the disciples and those taking him prisoner, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?"

Since one angel killed one-hundred-and-eighty-five Assyrian warriors, imagine the carnage seventy-two-thousand angels could do to Jerusalem and the Romans.

Instead, Christ fulfilled the scriptures, not only with his death on the cross but by his birth, life, and resurrection on the third day. As Mark 16:19 (KJV) states, "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he  was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God."

And what's good about Christ being in heaven? Because he ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit was given by God to we who believe in Christ. As Peter said to the crowd on the day of Pentecost, (Acts 2:33 KJV), "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear."

Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was given a glimpse into heaven, as Luke recorded in Acts 7:55-56 (KJV), "But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up  stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus  standing on the right hand of God, And said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened, and  the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.'"

And having our sins forgiven, we are justified in Christ as righteous. As Paul noted in Romans 8:34 (KJV),  "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died,  yea rather, that is risen again," who is even at the right hand of  God, who also maketh intercession for us."

So what should be our response to such a great gift which salvation is? Paul wrote in Colossians 3:1 (KJV), "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things  which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God."

Because Jesus fulfilled all that the Father gave him to do, he reigns even over death. As he told his disciples in Matthew 28:18 KJV), "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, 'All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.'" That wouldn't have happened if he disobeyed.

I'll include more about the awesome benefits of a surrendered life in Christ in my next book, You Think You're Going to Heaven? Watch this space for updates.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Are You A Sheep or a Goat?

 Previously, I mentioned why it's important to have a personal relationship with Christ. This has relevance for our lives now but it also guarantees our place with Jesus when he makes a new heaven and earth.

Look at what the Lord said in Matthew 25:32 (KJV). "And before him shall be gathered all nations: and  he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth  his sheep from the goats:" On Judgement Day, everybody who has ever lived will stand before God, the judge of all peoples.

As John wrote in Revelation 11:18 (KJV), "And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is  come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and  that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets,  and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great;  and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth."

Only God has the right to destroy and create. In fact, The Apostle Peter wrote about how all matter will dissolve with a roar at the end of this age. It says in 2 Peter 3:11 (KJV), "Seeing then that all these things shall be  dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy  conversation and godliness... " This is why the material things of this world don't matter in light of eternity. It's our conduct and submission to Christ that counts.

My next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? will deal in depth with this subject, as will my future blog posts. Watch this space.

Friday, 18 March 2016

What's This Personal Relationship With Christ?

Bearing what I previously wrote in mind, I need to explain what the meaning is of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In brief, it means becoming his friend, disciple, servant,  and child.

When we give ourselves to Christ, we become far more than mere property. John 15:15 (KJV) quotes Jesus as saying to his disciples, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."

Furthermore, we know him intimately as a true friend. Look at what Christ said in Revelation 3:20 KJV). "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Unlike uninvited strangers, we invite Jesus into our lives and he fellowships with us like a dinner guest.

Here's another great promise, this time from Colossians 1:27 (KJV.) "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:" Ponder that mind-blowing truth for a while.

Not only that but we inherit the riches of Christ. Check out what Galatians 3:29 (KJV) says. "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed,  and heirs according to the promise."

And how do we become heirs? We become adoptees. Paul wrote in Galatians 4:5 (KJV), "To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."

He also wrote in Romans 8:15 (KJV), "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, 'Abba, Father.'"

Even better, this adoption is physical as well as spiritual. Consider what Paul wrote in Romans 8:23 (KJV), "And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." Now isn't all that worth giving up your selfish will to the Lord?

In my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven?, I hope to go into deeper detail about the rewards of a surrendered life to Christ. What a bargain it is that when we give up ourselves to him, we get all he is in return.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Why Was Jesus the Lamb of God?

 Previously, I explained the need for an animal sacrifice to show the Israelites the sinfulness of sin in a graphic way. During Passover, the commemoration of the Israelites' liberation from Egyptian bondage, a lamb without defect was kept in the house for a few days. He was then slaughtered, cooked, and eaten during the Passover supper.

Jesus was called the Lamb of God because he would be the ultimate Passover sacrifice. John 1:29 (KJV) explains, "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.'"

The next day, John the Baptist also exclaimed to two of his followers in verse thirty-six, "And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, 'Behold the Lamb of God!'" They both recognized what that meant and followed Christ afterward.

The other John used the image of the Lamb of God in Revelation 5:6 (KJV), "And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth." Read further in that chapter and you'll see it's Christ which John is alluding to.

The Bible is filled with phrases which mean far more than their literal interpretation would suggest. This is partly why I'm writing my next book called You Think Your Going to Heaven? People need to know how serious their decision is to follow or reject Christ. They also need to understand all these strange expressions we Christians use. My hope is to reach seekers through my writing and direct them to the correct path to heaven. Watch this space for updates on the book.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Why Were Animals Sacrificed?

 Remembering that sin brought death on all of humanity through Adam, why then were animals sacrificed. After all, they did nothing wrong. In fact, animals can't sin because they aren't moral beings like us. Only humans know better and yet we disobey God.

The heavenly Father often uses imagery to graphically teach us truths. One of those is the sinfulness of sin. The sacrifice of animals can't pay the penalty for our rebellion against god but they were a sort of spiritual IOU. The entire eleventh chapter of Hebrews describes how those Old Testament saints looked forward to the coming messiah who would save humanity. Animal sacrifices indicated to the Old Testament believers that an innocent person, namely Jesus, would take our punishment.

We also see in the Bible that the first animal to be killed for humanity provided covering for Adam and Eve's shame. Genesis 3:21 (KJV) says, "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them."

Furthermore, the requirements of perfect sacrificial animals was a picture of how the Lord wants his church to be. Hebrews 9:14 (KJV) states, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"

So the offering of animals wasn't some sort of cruel rule imposed upon the Israelites by a mean deity but the Father's graphic warning of sin's dire consequences. Christ became the spiritual perfect lamb of God and died in the place of whoever surrendered themselves to his rulership. What an awesome gift salvation is.

I'm currently writing a book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? It warns people to be absolutely sure of their hope in heaven. Watch this space for updates as well as posts on the topic of heaven.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Why Must We Pay For Adam's Sin?

 Doubtless some of you might wonder why the rest of us suffer because of Adam's sin. Certainly this puzzled me for many years. After all, it doesn't seem fair to us that we have to pay for something we never did.

I've come to the conclusion that since Adam and Eve were the first parents, their enormous sin debt was inherited by their children. It passed down the generations until a second Adam could make restitution for those who sought forgiveness.

The Apostle Paul's writings are most instructive on this matter. In God's wondrous plan to have created beings who loved him voluntarily, he had to allow us a choice. Otherwise love isn't love when it's forced.

The first Adam was given the role of prophet, priest, and king. He blew all three when he disobeyed God and went along with his wife. He should have refused to partake of the fruit of the tree of good and evil. He should have guarded the garden and told Satan to go back to hell where he came from. He should have rebuked Eve for what she did.

But all wasn't lost since God told them about the saviour to come. As Paul wrote in Romans 5:14 (KJV), "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses,  even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's  transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come." That person was Christ.

Paul elaborated in 1 Corinthians 15:22 (KJV),  "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all  be made alive." What a wonderful promise for all of us who place our trust completely in Christ's atoning work on the cross.

God, knowing all things, had provided the plan of salvation before time began. The vastness of his mind contains the entire history of the universe, rather like an author who knows his story and the characters in it. Knowing this, I feel comfortable about letting the Father guide my life. He's as far from stupid as the east is from the west.

I'm working on my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? I'll elaborate at length in it about the subjects I've discussed here. Watch this space for updates and more Bible-based teaching.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Why Did God Destroy Only Certain Sinners?

Last month, I wrote about the judgement which happens to every one at death. God's grace period for us ends when our earthly lives end. We then await Judgement Day either in heaven or hell.

But why do some sins get judged while people are still living? The heavenly Father uses the consequences of human sin as a warning to the rest of us.

The Apostle Peter made this abundantly clear in 2 Peter 2:6 (KJV) "And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorra into  ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an  ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;"

The Lord also uses the consequences of our sin to bring us back to him. Christ's parable of the prodigal son and his elder brother is a perfect example. The younger brother took his part of his father's estate and lived it up until the money was gone. When he worked in a far country on a hog farm and wished he could eat some of the pods which the animals ate, he realized how good even day laborours had it back at home. His father joyfully welcomed him when he returned.

Some might think that God is only wrathful but Christ's parable of the ninety-nine sheep says otherwise. After showing how the good shepherd searched high and low for the lost sheep and then carried the animal home on his shoulder, Jesus summed up the story in Luke 15:7 (KJV). "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."

As thousands of testimonies dramatized on UNSHACKLED! demonstrate, the heavenly Father often uses tragedies to bring folks to their senses. If you're going through hard times, step back and examine why. Christ could be calling you through those hard events to repent and follow him totally.

But how did we become sinners from the womb? That's for next time.