Friday, December 08, 2006
"For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ." (I Corinthians 15:21-23)
The key phrase here is "those who belong to Christ." But before we look at that we need to notice what was written previous. "For as by a man came death," that is Adam. But his disobedience mankind was plunged into the dark pool of sin and death. But "by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead," that is Jesus. By his obedience we have a route out of death, a resurrection of the dead. "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." It is all a question of location. Where are you?
So how does one get into Christ or belong to Christ?
"For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body..." (1 Corinthians 12:13)
This "one body" is Jesus. It is also referred to in the Scriptures as "the church" and "the bride". The only way into the church is by baptism. But what baptism? "For by one Spirit we were all baptized..." Not by water, as some have been led to think...
Like wise, "In him you also... were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. Which is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:14)
When we are baptised in the Holy Spirit we are sealed. This belongs of Jesus Christ. Just like letters of old were sealed with wax to ensure their authenticity, so we are sealed by our owner.
Are you sealed? Will you be part of the gathering?
What is this gathering of his elect? Several times through scriptures the return of Christ is coupled with a gathering together of those who belong to Christ. For example in John 14 Jesus tells this disciples that he is leaving, but "... I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." (John 14:3)
This event is some times called "the rapture". The word "rapture" comes from the Latin verb "rapere" which means "to carry off, abduct, seize or take forcefully". It was used in the Latin Vulgate (about 405 A.D.) translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which is a key verse about the gathering of the saints to Jesus Christ.
"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; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord." (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17)
Again we see the familiar pattern, Jesus returning with Angels (even Archangels), with the sound of a trumpet and then a gathering of the saints (both dead and alive).
We are told that the dead in Christ will rise first and then those who remain, those alive will be taken up (raptured) to be with those we where just resurrected and to be with Jesus.
How does one qualify for this resurrection? Did you notice how 1 Thessalonians 4:16 puts it, "And the dead in Christ will rise first". This is the key, it is those in Christ.
Next time we shall look at what that means.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
"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 24:30,31)
The trumpet in Bible is often used as a way to herald an event, the start of a battle, the start of a great festival, the entrance of a king and so on. There are other verses which mention the trumpets at the return of Christ:
"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.'" (Revelation of John 11:15)
The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of God. This of course will only happen, in the fullest sense, at the return of Jesus Christ.
Also Paul by the Spirit writes, "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." (I Corinthians 15:52)
Here Paul describes and event, an unexpected event (for some), it happens in a flash, a trumpet sounds, the last trumpet. Christ has returned. On returning there is a gathering of the saints (which we will look at in the next post).
The same if written in I Thessalonians 4:16, "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;"
Again we see the same pattern, Jesus returning with Angels (even Archangels), with a trumpet call and then a gathering of the saints (both dead and alive).
Note: There are some who don't like to link all these trumpets together, they see them as seperate trumpets. We shall look at these things a little deeper soon when we discuss the different viewpoints about the return of Christ.
What we are seeing is a pattern for the return of Christ, if you like a sequence of events.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Throughout scripture there is a consistent pattern about how Jesus will return. The pattern can be summarized as:
In this first study we shall look at the clouds!!!
If you remember when Jesus ascended in to Heaven a cloud obscured him as he went: "After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight" (Acts 1:9). However the KJV version puts it like this: "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." Literally it means "took under him." He seemed to be supported by the cloud. Jesus ascended on the clouds and he will return the same way.
Mark 13:26 says "And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory."And in Revelation 1:7 we read, "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. Even so. Amen." (Also read Matthew 26:64 and Mark 14:62).
Here we see another facet of his return, "every eye will see him." His return will not be in secret, it won't be like his first coming, a small child born in simple surroundings. On His return He will come in power and glory, riding on the clouds and every eye will see. How is that possible, I don't know. But all things are possible with God.
Remember, watch and pray. In the next study we shall look at the role of the angels and the trumpets.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
The final things which will happen for Christ returns are that the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. The concept of the the sun and moon being darkenedd is quite popular in scripture and on many occasions it is related to the final coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (see Isaiah 13:10, Isaiah 24:23, Joel 2:10 and Revelation 6:12-15).
The question which comes to mind is this: Is this is literal event or is it a symbol for something else.
If it is symbolic then it can mean that certain fixed institutions will be shaken and ultimately no longer give their light. With the sun and moon used to represent the steadfastness of such institutions be they governments, empires or systems.
If it is literal then it means that the return of Christ will have a cosmological effect. Some say it means there will be an eclipse (scheduled or otherwise) at his return or that the sun, moon and stars won't be visible due to His glorious brightness.
I tend to edge towards an actual physical dimming or destruction of these heavenly bodies as it says in Revelation 6: 12-14 "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places." Which is a description of the end of the world.
Also the verses about the sun and moon being darkened are quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost. In those verses there was (and still is) a literal pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Man and women can be saved by calling on the name of the Lord, it is no symbolic. And so the darkening of the sun and moon isn't symbolic either.
Remember, watch and pray. Next time we shall look at how God will gather his elect from from the ends of the earth.
The literal meaning of the English word antichrist is "instead of Christ". The antichrist is not so much as a person opposed to Christ but rather someone who sets them self up as a replacement for Christ. Here in 2 Thessalonians we see that the return of Christ will not happen (that day will not come) until the man who proclaims himself to be God appears.
Throughout history there have been many who have demanded worship, who have claimed to be a deity or who have claimed to be God. Amongst them we find Roman emperors, fascists and communist dictators, but have any of them been the antichrist, the man of lawlessness or have they just been an antichrist, a man of lawlessness. In 1 John 2:18 we read "Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour."
A quick search on the Internet for the "who is the antichrist" will give you lots of interesting links and ideas including a comical site which claims that David Hasselhoff is the Antichrist! For a general discussion of the subject I recommend Antichrist - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
There is also the charge that the Pope or more specifically the office of the Pope is the antichrist and some expect the antichrist to be one of the future Popes.
John Wesely wrote "He [Papacy] is in an emphatical sense, the Man of Sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled the Son of Perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes, both of his opposers and followers... He it is... that exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped... claiming the highest power, and highest honor... claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone." Taken from “Antichrist and His Ten Kingdoms” by John Wesley, page 110.
Similarly Martin Luther (1483 - 1546) wrote "We here are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist. ...personally I declare that I owe the Pope no other obedience than that to Antichrist." August 18, 1520 Taken from "The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers" Vol. 2 Page 121.
The Antichrist is also known as the beast in the book of Revelations. In fact the imagery of a false Christ grows in the book of Revelation with the appearance of an unholy trinity (a false father, son and holy spirit) made up of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet. These 3 conspire to bring about a great rebellion against God.
Has the antichrist come? Maybe. Is the antichrist yet to appear? Similarly, maybe. If the antichrist is the beast in Revelation, then he is yet to appear, he has yet to start his final assulat against God and his saints. The great tribulation is yet to come.
Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first.
As always, we need to watch and pray. Luke 21:7-8 "And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Jesus here speaks of a time of great tribulation, one that is unparalleled in the history of the world. This great tribulation is one of the things which must happen before Jesus returns. The big question is this: Is this great tribulation past, present or future?
When Jesus spoke these words he spoke them to a certain generation, a generation (including his disciples) who would form the Church a short time later. It is possible that he spoke about this great tribulation for their benefit. If so, it would be equated with the several waves of severe persecution which hit the early church under the rule of the Roman empire. If that is so then the great tribulation has passed and there will never be a time like it again.
However... It could also speak of the whole church age. From the beginning the church has been persecuted including under the Roman empire. But it can be argued that there was worse to come. Since the fall of the Roman Empire until Napoleon the church has suffered a real and dangerous tribulation at the hands of the Roman Catholic church. Over the years many hundreds of thousands have been tortured and murdered for the sake of Christ.
Reading a book like "Foxe's book of Martyrs" or "The Pilgrim Church" by Mr EH Broadbent will give clear insight into the consistent persecution over the years. I am reminded of one story from Foxe's book about a blind boy named Thomas Drowry who was burnt to death on 15th May 1556:
"Dost thou not believe that after the words of consecration, spoken by the priest, there remaineth the very real body of Christ in the sacrament of that altar?"
"No," answered the blind boy, "that I do not."
"Then," said the Chancellor, "Thou art a heretic, and shalt be burned."
Dr Williams, then Chancellor of Gloucester, asked him who taught him such a thing, the boy answered that he the Chancellor had taught it:
"When you preached there" (naming a day) "a sermon to all men, as well as me, upon the sacrament. You said the sacrament was to be received spiritually, by faith, and not carnally and really, as the Papists have heretofore taught."
He was burned for his faith. Today, under communism or other strong regimes, people are still martyred for their faith.
Or the great tribulation could be in the future. All that has passed could be just a shadow of what is to come. John writes in his first letter, "Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming..." (I John 2:18) and later in chapter 4, "...This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already."
The antichrist is coming, he has not yet come, his spirit, his influence is already in the world, "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience." But he himself has not yet come. When he comes, could it be that there will be a greater and worse tribulation than such as has not been from the beginning of the world?
Paul, by the Spirit, put it like this:
Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come [i.e. the return of Christ - Gary], unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
In Mark 13 Jesus says "But in those days, after that tribulation..." This seems to link the tribulation, the other events mentioned there and ultimately the return of Christ to the same time period... "in those days..." Of course, it is not certain, time periods in prophet scripture can be very long.
But... we should watch and pray and be ready.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Continuing our look at the things which must happen before Jesus returns we come to the appearance of false christs and false prophets. The first thing to note here is the plurality. There will be false christs (plural) and false prophets (plural). This is different from THE false christ or anti-christ which we will study later.
The part of the word for christ used there in Mark 13 is exactly the same word as used elsewhere in the scriptures for the real Christ. In Greek it is "pseudochristos", a fake, pretend or false Messiah.
Have there been false christs and false prophets... Certainly... Too many to list here. Here is an extract from the UK's Guardian newspaper in 2002:
' Sergei Torop was a traffic cop in the small Russian town of Minusinsk until 1989, when he announced that he was the son of God. Now he commands a following of thousands and rules over a large swath of the Siberian mountains...
"It's all very complicated," he starts quietly. "But to keep things simple, yes, I am Jesus Christ. That which was promised must come to pass. And it was promised in Israel 2,000 years ago that I would return, that I would come back to finish what was started." '
Many have been led astray... Remember, watch, pray and be ready for his appearing.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
In our last study we mentioned several things which need to happen before Jesus returns. The first one we are going to look at is from Matthew 24:14 where Jesus says, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be
preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come."
The questions for this study are: Has that happened already? Is it happening now? Is it in the future?
Before asking ourselves if this has already happened we need to understand what was said. Jesus didn't say that every person in the world would hear the message of the gospel before the end comes. He also
didn't say that every nation,tribe or people group would hear the news of the kingdom, but rather than it would be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony.
Of course the whole world is a big place and just because the gospel might have been preached in the USA or Europe that doesn't mean it has been preached throughout the whole world. Conversely because it hasn't reached a certain tribe or people group in an isolated area that doesn't mean that it hasn't been declared throughout the whole world.
Robertson puts it like this "Heralded in all the inhabited world. It is not here said that all will be saved nor must this language be given too literal and detailed an application to every individual."
Adam Clarke also mentions that the phrase 'in all the world', perhaps only means no more than the Roman empire". He mentions Luke 2:1 which reads, "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed." Clearly, argues Clarke, "this means no more than the whole Roman empire: as a decree for taxation or enrollment from Augustus Caesar could have no influence but in the Roman dominions"
It is also interesting to note that when Paul writes to the Colossians he says of the gospel, "Which is come to you, as it is in all theworld..." (Colossians 1:6)
The purpose of this declaration of the gospel is as a testimony, a witness to what God has done through Christ. A testimony needs only be a light shone in a dark place, a standard held up for those, who are
looking, to see.
So, has this happened already? Maybe. A testimony of the kingdom has certainly been preached over the last two thousand years and it has beenpreached, at varying times, throughout the whole world.
Is it happening now? Certainly. This message is still being preached and this testimony is still being made.
Is it in the future? Maybe. God could, in his grace, provide one last missionary thrust into all the world before the end comes... But don'tcount on it!
Remember, watch, pray and be ready for his appearing.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
The second aspect is that certain things must happen before our Lord returns. For example in Matthew 24:14 Jesus says, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come."
Other things to expect are:
False Christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. (Mark 13:22)
For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will be. (Mark 13:19)
Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. (II Thessalonians 2:3-4)
But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. (Mark 13:24-27)
In summary form, indications of his coming are:
- Gospel preached in the whole world
- False Christs and false prophets
- A great tribulation
- The revealing of the man of lawlessness
- Sun and moon darkened.
But always remember we are told to watch and pray and be ready for his appearing.