Friday, December 23, 2005

Eschatology 101 (Part 4)

Having looked briefly at how Jesus will come again it is time to look at when.

There are two distinct themes about the return of Christ. One is that it is imminent, no one knows when he will come and it will be sudden. The other is that some things must happen first before Christ returns. In this post we will look at the immediacy of his return.

"Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of man comes." (Matthew 25:13)

Talking of when he will return Jesus says, "But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Mark 13:32). It is important for us to remember this. The history of Christianity is full of people who can tell you exactly when Jesus will return. Of course all have proved false. What is important is that we are ready for his return. Jesus put it like this, "You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour." (Luke 12:40). Speaking of the unexpectedness of His return, this time in parable form, Jesus said, "the master will come on a day when he is not expected and at an hour that is not know." (Matthew 24:50). His advise is "watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming." (Matthew 24:42.)

Writing of the closeness of His return, James write "You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand." (James 5:8). Also Peter writes "The end of all things is at hand; therefore be sober, and watch to prayer." (I Peter 4:7).

We are called to watch, to pray, to be ready, to prepare our hearts for his coming. We may think that many centuries have passed and his hasn't returned, but we must remember that no single man has every waited longer than maybe 100 years for his return. Our lives are short. Personally I have been waiting for his return for only 10 years. From where I stand he isn't late or delayed and if he came tomorrow I was only just ready.

Next we shall look at the things which must pass before he returns.



Friday, December 16, 2005

Eschatology 101 (Part 3)

Last time we saw that when Jesus comes again, every eye will see him and just as the clouds covered him when he ascended, those same clouds will reveal him when he returns.

Another feature of his return will be the trumpet call. The trumpet is an instrument to announce something. Jesus said in Matthew 6:2: "Therefore when you do your alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward." We have a saying in England "to blow you own trumpet" which means you are promoting yourself.

When Jesus returns it will be announced with trumpets (blown by Angels):  "then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. " (Matthew 24:31, RSV)

This trumpet is a sign, an announcement of his coming and a rally cry for the church of Christ to gather to Him. It will also be a time of mourning for those who don't want to see Jesus coming, for "all the tribes of the earth will mourn."

Revelation 11:15 put it like this, "Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.' "

Paul by the Spirit writes it like this, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed." (1 Corinthians 15:52, RSV).

Again in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Paul puts it like this, "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first;"

At the trumpet sound we will be called to our Jesus, we will be changed and the dead will be raised. Which is the topic of the next entry... the resurrection of the dead.

More soon, bless you,

PS. There are some theologians who don't agree with the linking of the trumpets in Matthew 24, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4 and Revelation 15. They have a reason for this and we shall look at that in a later study.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Eschatology 101 (Part 2)

Is Jesus really coming again? In the gospel of John and chapter 14 Jesus says: "... I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." All Christians are waiting for his return, some with more expectation than others depending on their circumstances, however he is coming again. Hebrews 9:28 puts it like this: "so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him."

This second coming is not to deal with sin, that was dealt with on the cross, but rather this time to fulfill (complete) the promises of salvation. Of course, the next questions which spring to mind are how will he come and when will he come? The how and the when are the core of the study of eschatology. Of course there are variations of ideas about these, however there are certain truths which are fundamental and on which all agree.

Let's start to look at the how . The first thing to note is that he will come with the clouds and great majesty and power: "And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory." (Mark 13:26) and "Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him." (Revelation of John 1:7, RSV). Also see  Matthew 26:64 and Mark 14:62.

When he comes again, every eye will see him and just as the clouds covered him when he ascended those same clouds will reveal him when he returns.

More soon, bless you,


Monday, December 12, 2005

Eschatology 101 (Part 1)

Early on in my walk of faith I heard a sermon on the end times. Being
young in the Lord and hungry for His word, I drank in every part of it.
The next day I discussed some of the issues raised with some other
Christian friends and I was shocked to find that none of them agreed
with the sermon I had heard. This unsettled me and I soon learned that
the study of the return of Christ was a complex subject with many, many
points of view. As such I stayed away from the subject for about 10 years.

However in recent years I started to look at the subject again. One
thing which really prompted me to study this subject was a comment by
David Pawson in one of his books. What he basically wrote was that by
not studying this subject we leave our churches, neighbors and friends
open to different cults who come with clever, persuasive pre-packaged
speeches and answers about the return of Christ. When our friends then
turn to us for help or guidance we fail them and the cult gains another

These next series of posts will be the ABCs of eschatology (the study of
the end times).

To end this post we will look at our first scripture from Acts 1:11:
"Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who
was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw
him go into heaven."

This Jesus, our Jesus will come again in a bodily, visible way. It
hasn't happened yet, but it will. Jesus is coming again.



Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Corporate nature of the new and old man (part 2)

Last time we left off with the question. Why just one new man. The start
to our answer is found when we look at the opposite of the new man, the
old man.

"We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the sinful body
might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin." (Romans 6:6)

Isn't the phrase our old man strange, surely that should be my old man
or our old men. Our is plural and yet man is singular. Why? Well the old
man is corporate. It isn't that we each have an old man, one that pushes
us to do bad things. Like a bad angel on our shoulder who tempts us to
stray. Rather there is but one old man and we each are partakers of him.
We have fellowship with him (note: I have used the word fellowship
intentionally, did it shock you?)

When Christ died on the cross, he died to buy forgiveness for our sins.
But much more, he also died to deal with the old man. The thing that was
common to all men. Where did this old man come from?

Romans 5 tells us "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man
and death through sin..." Robertson put it like this, "Personification
of sin and represented as coming from the outside into the world of
humanity." Through one man, Adam, sin came into the world. More than
that it came into the human race. This illness, this condition of human
kind is terminal, there is no cure. For thousands of years this
condition persisted in man. History shows that time and again the worst
parts of man can rear it ugly head in massacre, torture, rape and even
genocide. Whole nations and people groups bent on destruction. No one
country has remained unaffected, not one man has remained pure.

The term "old man" doesn't have any meaning unless there is a new man to
compare it with. What Jesus Christ revealed to the world is the
possibility of a human race without the scars of sin. Like there is only
one old man, a corporate representative, a common nature in all men.
There is only one new man. Talking of the work of the cross, Paul
writes, "...that he might create in himself one new man..." (Ephesians
2:15, RSV)

There is a promise of God for everyman that believes in Jesus Christ, it
is the promise of escape from the clutches of what we call human nature
and the rest in a new nature, in a new man, Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:4 says, "by which he has granted to us his precious and very
great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption
that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the
divine nature."

The question for each one of us is this... I am part of the old man or
part of the new?

Bless you,


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Corporate nature of the new and old man (part 1)

It was almost 10 years ago that I first understood the verse from Ephesians 2, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus...." There were two things that struck me. First we are his workmanship, we are his work. Like a craftsman with his tools we are formed according to his will. And just like any piece created by a master craftsman, his style, his characteristics, his touch is found in the created piece. This workmanship is not the workmanship of God when he created man at the beginning (although also in that creation we carry his style) but rather his workmanship when he created us in Christ Jesus. And that was the second thing which I noted, our place of creation. We are created in Christ Jesus. In fact it is a necessity for all to be created in Christ Jesus. Later in 2 Corinthians 5 Paul (by the Spirit) writes it like this, "therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come." We are created in Christ, we are a new creation, we are born again. A weakness in modern teaching is that poor needy souls are told to hold on the promises of Scripture, they must be new because the Scripture says so. But in reality they remain just as they were, old not new, struggling just as before. Those around them convince them that they are new and they struggle on, often to despair. It is God's will that you become new. He wants to create you new, in Christ Jesus. We wants to work and labour to produce a new thing. He wants to. He loves to. He sent His son so he could.

Having seen the power of a second creation, I read on... In verse 15 of Ephesians 2 it is written, "... that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace." A new man, a new type of man, one that has peace with God. What great promises. But I had a question, why just one new man? Why didn't the Spirit say something like, "... create in himself one new man, the first of many new men, who have peace..." Why only one new man?

That is what we will look at in our next study.



Friday, November 25, 2005

Introduction to Romans (Part 2)

What else can we learn about Paul's letter to the Romans? It seems that Paul was in Greece when he wrote the letter, most likely in Corinth. This can be seen from two comments: (1) Phoebe of neighboring Cenchrea was apparently the letter-bearer (16:1-2) and (2) Gaius, who is Paul’s host (16:23), was a prominent Christian leader at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:14).

"Ga'ius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Eras'tus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you. " (Romans 16:23, RSV)

"I am thankful that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Ga'ius; (1 Corinthians 1:14, RSV)"

Robertson puts it like this: "Crispus was the ruler of the synagogue in Corinth before his conversion (Acts 18:8), a Roman cognomen, and Gaius a Roman praenomen, probably the host of Paul and of the whole church in Corinth (Ro 16:23), possibly though not clearly the hospitable Gaius of 3Jo 1:5,6. The prominence and importance of these two may explain why Paul baptized them."

From Romans 15:26, it appears Paul had already received contributions from the churches of Macedonia and Achaia (where Corinth was located). Which ties in with Acts 19:21 "Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedo'nia and Acha'ia and go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome."

In summary, Paul wrote the letter to the Romans to 1) To announce Paul’s plans to visit Rome after his trip to Jerusalem. 2) To present a complete and detailed statement of the gospel message. Paul wanted "to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome" (1:15). 3) To answer the questions that naturally arose among the Jewish and the Gentile Christians at Rome like what does the gospel do to the Law and such Old Testament rites like circumcision? And what about the Jew? Has God set the Jew aside? And so on.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Introduction to Romans (part 1)

The letter to the Romans is one of the most profound but yet systematic books of the New Testament. Written around 57AD it is unique amongst the other letters which Paul wrote. First, at the time of writing, Paul had never been to Rome ("asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you." [Romans 1:10]). But yet he knew so many of the people in the church in Rome. Looking at chapter 16 we see a long list of friends who Paul greets by name.

How did Paul know so many people there. One reason is to do with the history of Rome. The church in Rome was founded by Jews who heard the gospel and received the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. They returned to Roman and started meeting together. Then Gentiles where added to their number. Later however emperor Claudius ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. We find this in Acts 18:2: "And he (Paul) found a Jew named Aq'uila, a native of Pontus, lately come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them." There were probably others from Rome also there. In the list of greetings in Romans 16 we find Prisca and Aq'uila again (verse 3) this time having returned from Rome after the death of Claudius around 54AD.

The church in Rome started with Jewish converts and Jewish eldership. Gentiles were added and then the Jews left. For that period the church was exclusively Gentile. Then later the Jews came back. With this in mind it is interesting to read Romans and look what Paul has to say about Jews and Gentiles. For example:

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16, RSV)

"Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews are entrusted with the oracles of God." (Romans 3:2, RSV)

But yet... "He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal. His praise is not from men but from God." (Romans 2:29, RSV)

In many ways the letter to the Romans is a systematic look at the gospel from the point of view of the Jew and the Gentile. Ultimately it breaks downs the barriers between the two, showing that there is but one type of man in Christ, neither Jew nor Gentile but rather the new man.

Part 2 soon...



Tuesday, November 22, 2005

He is faithful

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9, RSV)

If we confess our sins... The word confess here is good but it it has another dimension to it. Depending on your background confession can mean different things. Confession to a priest or a pastor. Public confession to the whole congregation. But really the word here means acknowledge. If we recognize our sin, if we agree with God's declaration about our sin the he will do something.

...he is faithful... somethings we read this sub consciously as he is obliged or he is required. Salvation is by the grace of God. We can't earn it, we can't pay for it and God isn't obligated to give it to us. However he has promised that if we align ourselves with Him, if we recognize what he has done. If we trust only in Him for salvation not in ourselves. If we place our eternal future only in his hand. Then he is faithful to forgive. He is faithful to save. By grace, not by works so that God is no ones debtor.

...he is just... this forgiveness isn't a slight of hand, it is a trick where God says "he is forgive because I say so." But rather God is justbecause Jesus Christ took the punishment for me.

Matthew Henry writes like this: Sin exists in the soul in forms: (1.) In guilt, which requires forgiveness or pardon. (2.) In pollution, whichrequires cleansing.

God is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us. Fully? Yes. From ALL unrighteousness. Not just some. That full work includes cleansing. You can be clean, fully. Clean from all unrighteousness and God by his Spirit can keep you that way.



Monday, November 21, 2005


I was laying in bed and last night and I realised that I do a lot of preaching and teaching and that I don't record or note much of it. So I said to myself, "Gary it is time to start a blog like millions of others before you." So here it is!

The idea is that I will note briefly the last sermon or study I did. Maybe I will be only one that every reads this... Who knows... If someoneelse does, I hope they will be blessed by them.