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Welcome to our blog! We are living in a day and age where most churches are dimming their lights, to accommodate the darkness of this world.

Skewed, half and false Gospels are being preached from the pulpits and carnal Christianity has created their own god – A god who does not have any commandments, holiness, justice or wrath, but only love. Biblical teachings on truth and the reality of judgement and hell have also become “hate speech.”

As the elect of God, let’s separate ourselves from all the half-baked teachings and learn from each other, about the things the remnant in these latter days needs to know.

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CHRONOLOGICAL REFERENCE OF THE KINGS, PROPHETS AND THE CHRONICLES

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INTRODUCTION

The period of the kings and writing prophets spanned from 1050-432 BC. The kings only ruled from 1050-586 BC whereas the prophets continued to preach and write to the needs of the nation of Israel.

Beginning with the settlement of Canaan, and through the period of the judges, Israel was merely a group of scattered, unorganized tribes. They had little connection with each other, almost living as separate peoples.

Samuel was the bridge between this original, isolated condition of the people, and the period when the kingdom was united under its first king. This prophet—priest ushered in a period of transition and radical changes in Hebrew life, which molded Israel into a united nation.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KINGS AND CHRONICLES?

It is clear to even the casual reader that the books of 1 and 2 Kings share a great deal of similarities with the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles. So much so, in fact, that some wonder why it is that we have both of these accounts of Israel’s history in our Bibles.

At first glance it can seem as though the same information is being repeated but from a slightly different angle. And this is, to some extent, true. Roughly 50% of the material in Chronicles is covered elsewhere in the Old Testament.

So why do we have both Kings and Chronicles in our Bibles? The answer lies in understanding the differences between these two histories of Israel.

In order to account for these differences, we must first understand the date and setting of each of these books.

Together with the books of Samuel, Kings was written around 550-560 BC during the Babylonian exile, while Chronicles was written after the exile was over, around 450-440 BC. Whereas Samuel/Kings addressed the hardhearted Jews experiencing exile and captivity, Chronicles seeks to inspire hope and faith in God among those who are hurting after this spiritually devastating ordeal.

The fact that these two accounts of Israel’s history are given to different audiences accounts for the contrasts between the two. While Samuel/Kings needed to show the people that the nation’s troubles were the result of their sinful disobedience rather than God’s abandonment of His people, Chronicles wanted to encourage the Israelites and help them turn back to worshiping Yahweh as the one true God.

Three distinctives in Chronicles help show how it is different than Samuel/Kings.

A Focus on David and Solomon

The Chronicler focuses heavily on David and Solomon, to the tune of 29 chapters. When discussing these rulers, the spotlight is on their triumphs rather than their respective failures of adultery and idolatry.

Though Chronicles does not whitewash history, it does deal more favorably with many of the kings of Israel. For instance, the wicked King Manasseh is described as an evil king in both 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 33, but only Chronicles mentions his repentance and return to God.

A Focus on Judah

A second distinctive is that the Chronicler focuses primarily on the kings of Judah, the house of David, rather than the kings of Israel (remember, the kingdoms were divided after the death of Solomon). When the kings of Israel (the northern kingdom) are mentioned, it is because it has a direct connection to the narrative related to the exploits of Judah in the south.

While it does not ignore the northern kingdom and the complex issues associated with it, the book of Chronicles sees Judah as the center of God’s work among His people.

A Focus on Restoration

Lastly, whereas Samuel/Kings acknowledges that God dealt with the wickedness of Israel’s kings by punishing even their descendents, Chronicles focuses on God’s dealing with obedient and disobedient kings within their own lifetime.

The overall purpose of Chronicles was not to browbeat an already dejected Israel, but to lift them up and point them back to God. This is why it is fitting that the book of Chronicles is the final book in the Hebrew Bible (or Tanakh). By demonstrating for them how God is in control, the author of Chronicles seeks to inspire a return to proper worship and reverence for Yahweh, the God of Israel.

While there is more that can be said about the difference between the books of Kings and Chronicles, the above distinctives reveal that the latter book is not redundant. When we read Scripture – particularly the Old Testament – we must remember that while these books were written for us they were not originally written to us.

The original readers of these books would have been much better attuned to the differences in their content and in their purpose. As we read through the Bible we will always benefit by trying to first understand what the text meant to the original audience before we try to understand how it applies to us today.

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

Reading the Bible chronologically can be a refreshing way to see it through new eyes. We might think that because the Bible starts with creation and ends with Revelation it’s already laid out sequentially, but it’s not. Reading it in the order that events occurred can equip us to understand its narrative more clearly and see it from a fresh perspective.

Studying the time of the Israeli kings and the prophets in the Old Testament can often be a little confusing, especially when taking into consideration that we not only dealing with a single book or two, but with the second book of Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, the 4 major and 12 minor prophetic books.

The main purpose of this article is to provide you with a chronological list of references to Scripture to assist you in your studies. Although such a chronological list may never be 100% accurate, we trust that it would at least provide some guidance.

Please click on the link below to open the downloadable pdf list:

CHRONOLOGY OF ISRAEL’S KINGS, PROPHETS AND THE CHRONICLES

AMILLENNIALISM VERSUS DISPENSATIONAL PRE-MILLENNIALISM

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As things are getting worse and world is becoming more wicked, the wider the gap is becoming between the believers in Amillennialism and those who believe in Dispensational Pre-millennialism. Let’s have a look on some of the core issues causing these eschatological differences:

ORIGINS OF AMILLENNIALISM AND DISPENSATIONAL PRE-MILLENNIALISM

Amillennialists often claim that Dispensational Pre-millennialism was a “new invention” by John Nelson Darby in 1830. This is a lie. It seems that the historical argument is on the side of premillennialism since people close to the Apostle John held premillennial views, and because premillennialism was the overwhelming view of those in Asia Minor and the church of the second century. As an example, Papias (A.D. 60–130) was Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, Asia Minor. He was a contemporary of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John. He held on to a chiliastic [premillennial] view.

Amillennialism on the other hand, has its origin with Augustine who, to a large extent, laid the foundations for Roman Catholic eschatology in the fourth century and was later adopted by most of the Protestant Reformers along with many other teachings of Augustine. Prior to Augustine, Amillennialism was associated with the heresies produced by the allegorizing and spiritualizing school of theology at Alexandria which not only opposed Pre-millennialism but subverted any literal exegesis of Scripture whatever. Protestant leaders such as Calvin, Luther, and Melanchthon are properly classed as Amillennial. Although these men made great contributions with regards to the doctrines of salvation, the completely failed on eschatological issues. Sadly, to many they have become idols  and whatever they believed and preached are blindly followed without a willingness to search the Scriptures for themselves.

INTERPRETATION OF PROPHECIES

In Dispensational Pre-millennialism, a literal interpretation of the Bible is applied. The literal interpretation gives each word the meaning it would commonly have in everyday usage. Allowances are however being made for symbols, figures of speech, and types, of course. It is understood that even symbols and figurative sayings have literal meanings behind them. So, for example, when the Bible speaks of “a thousand years” in Revelation 20, dispensationalists interpret it as a literal period of 1,000 years (the dispensation of the Kingdom), since there is no compelling reason to interpret it otherwise. They believe that the Word of God says what it means and means what it says.

In Amillennialism, an “allegorical” method of interpretation of prophecy is being used. Allegorical interpretation looks for a so-called deeper, spiritual meaning within the text. It becomes easy to read one’s own beliefs into the allegory and then think that they have scriptural support. They are also very inconsistent in their approach. For instance, they believe in the literal creation in Genesis but deny the literal thousand-year reign of Christ on earth in the book of Revelation. Also, in general, they agree that all prophecies regarding the first coming of Christ were literally fulfilled, but to those that relate to His second coming, they apply allegory.

VIEWS ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION AND OTHER PROPHECIES

Dispensational Pre-millennialists believe that Revelation is a futuristic prophetic book. They also interpret the prophecies in Matthew 24 and in many other pieces of Scripture as related to the Second coming of Christ. There is no historical evidence that these prophecies have already been all been fully fulfilled – not in 70AD or any other time in history. The Bible tells us to watch for the signs of His coming and we are currently seeing many of these prophecies playing off before our very eyes.

The majority of the Amillennialists, including the Roman Catholic Church, hold to the believe that Revelation is a historic book, merely depicting the church and the world from the time of Christ’s first coming to the time of his second. Although most of the prophecies in other books of the Bible are spiritualizes by Amillennialists, they often also defend their eschatological view by saying that all prophecies were fulfilled during the first coming of Jesus Christ.

VIEWS OF THE THOUSAND YEAR REIGN

Dispensational Pre-millennialists hold to the believe that Christ will literally reign on earth for a thousand years, as clearly stated six times in Revelation 20. The millennial reign is also being described at great length in various passages in the prophetic books in the Old Testament.  It will be a time unlike any in history and it will also be unlike the conditions in the eternal state described in Revelation 21 and 22.

Amillennialists however do not hold to the believe that Jesus Christ will physically reign on the earth for exactly a 1,000 years. The’”y believe that the Kingdom of God was inaugurated at Christ’s resurrection and that He is now reigning at the right hand of the Father over His church. After this present age has ended, Christ will return and immediately usher the church into their eternal state after judging the wicked.

VIEWS ON THE BINDING OF SATAN

Dispensational Premillennialists believe that Satan will be bound at the second coming, after the seven year tribulation and before the thousand year reign of Christ, as clearly mentioned in Revelation 20:1-3. They believe that he currently “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Although Satan is revealed in Scripture as a created being of great power, wickedness, and cleverness, Amillennialists ignore or minimize his power and activity. Because they believe that we are already in the Millennium, they also believe that He is already bound. They identify the binding of Satan as an act subsequent to the victory of Christ in His life, death, and resurrection.  This interpretation has no basis in the text of Revelation 20:1-3 itself, but that it is superimposed upon the text. No one reading Revelation would possibly arrive at such a conclusion unless determined to make it harmonize with a preconceived idea, namely their view on the 1,000 year reign.

VIEWS ON THE GREAT TRIBULATION

Dispensational Premillennialists believe that there will be a tribulation for a period of seven years, divided in to 3 ½ years each, as mainly described in the books of Daniel and Revelation as well as in Matthew 24 and 25.

Most Amillennialists believe that the Tribulation is not a future event, but it intensifies right at the end. Martin Luther, John Calvin and the other Protestant Reformers saw the Antichrist as fulfilled in the papacy. Some also confuse the fact that Christians have to go through tests, trials and tribulations as part of the process of sanctification, with the seven year tribulation. They tend to forget, or rather ignore what Jesus said in Matthew 24:21, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

VIEWS ON ISRAEL

Dispensational Pre-millennialists believe that there is a distinction between the nation of Israel and the Church. They believe that the church age will draw to an end and that God’s focus will return to the Jews during the seven- year tribulation. This is clear throughout prophecy, but especially in Zechariah 12-14. Romans 11 can also not be read in any other way.

Amillennialists believe that God is done with the Jews and that all blessings to Israel have now been given to the church in a spiritual sense. This view is generally being referred to as Replacement theology. As they do not understand that God still needs to honour his promises to Israel, they also do not understand the actual reason why there need to be a rapture, a seven-year tribulation (the “Time of Jacob’s trouble”) and a thousand-year reign of Christ on earth (to honour the land covenant).

VIEWS ON THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH

The majority of Dispensational Pre-millennialists believe in the doctrine of the rapture. This believe is mainly based on 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, John 14:2-4 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. Luke 21:36 tells us, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” In Revelation 3:10 we read, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” In a mocking way, we are often being called “escapists.” Maybe we are, but one thing is for sure – we understand the coming time of tribulation and the wrath of God that will be poured our on this evil world.

Amillennialists do not believe in the rapture. In fact, there is no place to fit in a rapture in their broader Amillennial eschatological view.

Sadly, most Amillennialists hardly ever reflect any excitement about the Second coming of the Lord. To them it is an event somewhere in the far future. Even worse, many of them are fulfilling the prophecy in 2 Peter 3:3-4  without even realizing, “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”

THE SEVEN FEASTS OF THE LORD & PROPHECY

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These are the set times of the LORD, the sacred occasions, which you shall celebrate each at its appointed time. – Leviticus 23:4

LEVITICUS 23 is the single chapter of the entire Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) that sums God’s eternal plan through the nature and timing of the Seven annual Feasts of the LORD. The entire human race now exists between two of these feasts.

In Jewish eschatology, the term mashiach, or “Messiah”, refers specifically to a future Jewish king from the Davidic line, who is expected to save the Jewish nation, and will be anointed with holy anointing oil and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age.

Sacrifice is the major feature of the feasts. Believers in Mashiach are not responsible to keep these feasts, but knowledge of them enhances our faith. Our Lord kept every one of them without fail, even celebrating Pesach on His last earthly night.

It was on Mount Sinai that God gave Moses the dates and observances of the eight major feasts for the Jewish people to observe. Here are their names:
1. Passover (Pesach) – Nisan 14
2. Unleavened Bread (Chag Hamotzi) – Nisan 15-22
3. First Fruits (Yom habikkurim) – Nisan 16
4. Pentecost (Shavu’ot) – Sivan 6
5. Trumpets (Yom Teru’ah) – Tishri 1
6. Atonement (Yom Kippur) – Tishri 10
7. Tabernacles (Sukkot) – Tishri 15
8. The Sabbath Day (i.e., Shabbat, a weekly feast)

For the purpose of this article, we only focus on the first seven.

God’s calendar is based on the phases of the moon. Each month in a lunar calendar begins with a new moon. Pesach falls on the first full moon of Spring. The first three feasts fall in March and April. The fourth one marked the summer harvest and occurs in late May or early June. The last three feasts happen in September and October.

The Spring Feasts

1. Passover (Pesach). Leviticus 23:5 specifies that the festival year begins with Passover on “the fourteenth day of the first month” (Nisan 15). Passover is the Feast of Salvation. In both testaments, the blood of the Lamb delivers from slavery – the Jew from Egypt, the Christian from sin. Think about the tenth plague in Exodus 12:5 when Egypt’s first born sons died while the angel of death “passed over” the Jewish homes with the blood of the lamb on their door posts. In the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah), Jesus serves as the sacrificial Lamb. It is no coincidence that our Lord Himself was sacrificed on Passover. In Egypt the Jew marked his house with the blood of the lamb. Today the Christian marks his house – his body, “the house of the spirit” with the blood of Christ. Passover, then, represents our salvation.

2. Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMotzi). Leviticus 23:6 puts the second feast on the next night: “On the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread unto the Lord; seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.” Leaven or yeast in the Bible symbolized sin and evil. Unleavened bread, eaten over a period of time, symbolized a holy walk, as with the Lord. Unleavened bread, in the New Testament is, of course, the body of our Lord. He is described as “the Bread of Life” (Lechem haChayim). He was born in Bethlehem, which, in Hebrew, means, “House of Bread” (Bet Lechem).

Look at the matzah and see that it is striped: “By His stripes we are healed”; pierced: “They shall look upon me whom they’ve pierced,” and pure, without any leaven, as His body was without any sin.

3. First Fruits (Yom Habikkurim). “On the morrow after the Sabbath” following Unleavened Bread, Leviticus 23:11 schedules First Fruits, the feast for acknowledging the fertility of the land He gave the Israelites. They were to bring the early crops of their spring planting and “wave the sheaf before the Lord.” The modern church has come to call this feast “Easter,” named after Ishtar, the pagan goddess of fertility. We continue to revere objects of fertility such as the rabbit and the egg, but the First Fruits celebration was to be over God’s replanting of the earth in the spring. Today this feasts celebrates the resurrection of the Lord on First Fruits, which indeed occurred (plus, eventually, the resurrection of the entire Church!)

4. Pentecost (Shavu’ot). Leviticus 23:16 says, “Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shell ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord.” In late May or early June, Shavu’ot marked the summer harvest. Leviticus 23:17 requires an offering of two loaves of bread, baked with leaven. These loaves symbolize the church being comprised of both Jew and Gentile.

A review of the first four feasts reveals that Jesus (Yeshua) was crucified on Pesach, buried on Unleavened Bread, raised on First Fruits and sent the Holy Spirit (Ruach Hakkodesh) on Shavu’ot. Because we have not yet seen the fulfillment of feast number five – Trumpets – we remain under the orders of Shavu’ot.

The Fall Feasts

5. Trumpets (Yom Teru’ah). Ever since Isaac was spared by virtue of the ram being caught in the thicket by its horn, God seems to have enjoyed the trumpet. He used it when Joshua conquered Jericho. In Leviticus 25:8-10, he specified its use in having trumpets “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (that quotation appears today on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, assuring us that America was founded by Bible readers). Leviticus 23:24 requires that, “in the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets.”
The Feast of Trumpets occurs in September. This jump in time from the Feast of Pentecost in May or June seems to represent the Church Age in God’s planning, since the trumpet unquestionably represents the Rapture of the Church. The trumpet was the signal for the field workers to come into the Temple. The high priest actually blew the trumpet so that the faithful would stop harvesting to worship. Now, when the trumpet sounds in accordance with 1 Corinthians 15:51- 3, living believers will cease their harvest and rise from the earth. The Church will be taken out of the world.

6. Atonement (Yom Kippur). Leviticus 23:27 provides a day of confession, the highest of holy days. “Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a Day of Atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.” This is the one feast that is not fulfilled by the church, because the Church owes no atonement. The Church is not innocent, of course, but it is exonerated. The Day of Atonement will be fulfilled in a wonderful way when the Lord returns at His Second Coming.

7. Tabernacles (Sukkot). Leviticus 23:34 says, “The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord.” God wanted to celebrate the fact that He provided shelter for the Israelites in the wilderness. Each year on Tabernacles, devout Jews build little shelters or “booths” (sukkot) outside their houses and worshipped in them. Tabernacles represents the Lord’s shelter in the world to come (olam habah), His great Tabernacle to exist in Jerusalem during the Kingdom Age. The Lord will establish His Tabernacle in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 37:26), and the world will come every year to appear before the King and worship Him (Zechariah 14:16-17).

Chanukah, by the way, was not given by God on Mount Sinai, but was prophesied in Daniel 8:9-14 and took place in 165 BCE when the Temple was rededicated.

Now you probably agree that Christianity’s Jewish roots offer an eye to the future as well as the past. The next time someone mentions “The Seven Feasts of Israel,” you’ll realize they’re really talking about the Seven Feasts of all time!
(Source https://hebrew4christians.com/ )

THE RAPTURE SERIES 9: THE COMING OF THE LORD (PART A)

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The “coming of the Lord,” occurs in a threefold manner:

The outline below shows the distinction between each coming:

First Coming

His birth in Bethlehem.

First phase of the Second Coming

His arrival in the clouds of Heaven for the Rapture.

Second phase of the Second Coming

His coming to Israel to rescue His people and to end the rule of Antichrist.

The return of Christ, generally known as His Second Coming, will occur in a two-fold phase. This is not very obvious in the Old Testament because the prophets saw the coming of Jesus as one event. Only when we combine their visions do we get a detailed picture.

We will use Isaiah 61:1 -2 as our example, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.”

This statement was made approximately 700 years before Jesus was born. During those seven centuries, nobody claimed to be the anointed one of the Lord because no one could fulfill the requirements of being able to “… bind up the broken hearted” or “proclaim liberty to the captives.” This prophecy could only be fulfilled by Jesus.

In the fourth chapter of Luke we read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord”(verses 18-19).

Notice that Jesus closes this passage with, “… the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then the next verse says, “And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister and sat down….” Yet Isaiah continues in the same breath, “…To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God….” Thus, we see that the Old Testament prophets viewed the coming of the Messiah as one event. However, Jesus clearly revealed that this one event would be interrupted by grace, “… the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Day Of Vengeance

The prophets proclaimed the coming of the Messiah and gave many details as to how He was to be recognized. Isaiah spoke of the Great Tribulation as “the day of vengeance, ” without mentioning the time of the Church.

The Spirit of God revealed to the writer that Jesus would come and fulfill those prophecies in detail. He would indeed preach salvation to Israel and the nations, but then Isaiah concludes with the words, “… the day of vengeance of our God…” That did not occur at the time of Jesus. Therefore, it stands to reason that a distinct time period would occur between the time of the “acceptable year of the Lord” and “the day of vengeance of our God.”

Today, we are still living in “…the acceptable year of the Lord….” Jesus deliberately stopped at that point. He closed the book and then said something remarkable, “… This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). This information should be sufficient in showing that Jesus’ coming almost 2,000 years ago is not His only one. He will come again!

We have previously read the words of the prophet Isaiah, but there is no harm done in reading them again, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Isaiah 60:1-3).

These three verses make a powerful but simple statement: Israel saw the light. However, the ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy did not take place, “… the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” This most certainly is in the future.

We know from history that the Jews were the most persecuted, despised, and rejected people and no evidence is found that His glory was visible upon them nationally. Israel rejected the Messiah. They cried, “…Away with him. ..crucify him!” They said, “We have no king but Caesar.” This short statement has profound significance. They are not empty words, but they are the result of the continuous rebellion against the Living God which can be seen in Israel’s determined desire to be integrated into the nations of the world even today. Let’s look at history.

Israel Requests Equality

In Samuel’s time, Israel had collectively requested that a king rule over them instead of God. They desired to be equal with the surrounding nations. We read in 1st Samuel 8:4-5, “Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” This intense decision did not reflect on Samuel and his disobedient sons, but on Israel’s democratic rejection of the leadership of God, who told Samuel, “. ..they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (verse 7).

After Samuel had listed the disadvantages of having a king rule over them we read, “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles” (verses 19-20).

Before Samuel died, again he testified to the people and reminded them of their mistake, “…ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king” (1st Samuel 12:12). We must emphasize this event because it marks the first time Israel expressed her desire to be equal with the nations of the world.

This has so much to do with the Rapture because the Rapture finalizes the election of God’s spiritual people on earth and therefore relates to the election of God’s heavenly people, the Church.

We have already dealt with the subject of separation and integration and learned that the Church, consisting of born-again believers, must be separated from the world.

Through the separation of the children of Israel, God brought forth His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Ironically, this separation was recognized by the heathen prophet Balaam. He answered Balak, “. ..lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9). Today, this remains a sore point for Israel and the world. Our modern society does not tolerate segregation, and insists that no one is special. Equality is the gospel of the end times and it is “politically correct” to treat all nations, races, and religions equally.

However, one nation is different: Israel. She, in fact, will not be counted equally with all nations of the world. At this point, that is exactly what modern Israel wants; she seeks equality and will obtain it. This will lead to the most successful integration the world has ever seen. But it’s only temporary.

Jesus Condemned By The World

When the first church was persecuted, a significant statement exposing Israel’s union with the nations was uttered in prayer , “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together’ ‘(Acts 4:27). The enemies of Christ are listed as: Herod, a half-Jew; Pontius Pilate, a Roman; the Gentiles; and Israel. In a united front they opposed the Lord Jesus Christ at His first coming!

We can easily imagine that at the Second Coming of Christ, the nations will reject Him as prophesied. The Gentile nations, “… and the people of Israel were gathered together.” It is impossible for Israel to accept the Antichrist unless someone comes forward looking like the real Messiah of Israel.

Unbelief In Prophecy

So much was prophesied in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah. Yet when the time came for Jesus’ birth in the prophesied town of Bethlehem in Judea, no preparations were being made in Jerusalem for the birth of the King. It is only mentioned that some Gentiles from the east came to Jerusalem to announce His birth. “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem” (Matthew 2:1). They asked the right question to the right people in the right place, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (verse 2). The fact that Jerusalem was unprepared and Jesus came to the world unexpectedly is evident from the next verse, “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Verse 3).

What was King Herod to do? From historic writings, we know that he was paranoid, extremely fearful and took excessive precaution for his security. Then he heard of these foreigners who were coming from far away to announce the birth of a new King of the Jews. Naturally, Herod found this intimidating because He was the King of the Jews. If another was born, Herod would no longer be king.

Prophecy Fulfilled, But Not Believed

The king called his advisers, “And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born” (Verse 4). Herod asked the right people, for they knew the Scripture, read the prophets, and studied the Word of God.

He received an immediate answer, “… they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of ]uda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel” (Verses 5-6). This is as plain as day, the King born in Bethlehem was to rule Israel.

When we continue to read about this event, we notice something very strange. There is no report of the chief priests or scribes going to Bethelehem to witness the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. This proves that these “Bible believers” grasped the prophetic Scripture intellectually but had no living faith to produce action.

Again, we highlight the fact that the tangible fulfillment of Bible prophecy, the miraculous announcement of the birth of Jesus Christ, and the signs in the heavenly constellation did not produce living faith, but rather, unbelief.

Believing Prophecy Is Required

I take this opportunity once again to emphasize that no matter how great your experience is with the Lord, how many of your prayers have been answered, how often you have been healed, how many prophetic utterances you proclaim in the church, or how frequently you have the gift of healing the sick, it is all insignificant compared with the simple faith that Jesus is who He says He is.

He poured out His blood on Calvary’s cross for our sins, was buried, arose the third day, and ascended to Heaven with the clear message that He will come again. This knowledge does not come from any experience we may have had or from seminary training, nor can we obtain it through any other educational process. This knowledge comes from the living Word of God, the Bible!

The Suffering Servant

The New Testament describes the fulfillment of Isaiah 53 in detail. To reinforce this fact, let’s read just a few verses of this beautiful Messianic chapter, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5).

He did not protest, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth”‘(verse 7).

He was crucified between two criminals and buried in the tomb of a rich man, “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth” (verse 9).

Faith In The Word

It insults our Lord when we desire special confirmation or supernatural manifestation in order to validate the truths of the written Word. As believers, we can completely trust every detail in the Bible.

When we come across places in Scripture which we do not understand, or which may seem contradictory, we can be assured that God does not lie. Scripture supports Scripture and it is only because of our limited intellect that we fail to grasp the deeper truths presented in the Bible.

Jesus was despised and rejected at His first coming. Pouring out His blood, He died on Calvary’s cross and became “…the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

While Jesus was on earth, He promised that He would come again, “…I will come again, and receive you unto myself…” (John 14:3), “…I go away, and come again unto you… ” (John 14:28). Jesus desires to be with us; He purchased us with His own blood! Just think, if you make a purchase, don’t you want the product? How much more does our Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us so much that He gave His life so He might receive us unto Himself? Read His prayer in John 17:24, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” The announcement of His return is indisputably clear in the Scriptures.

Rapture Is Not The Last Resurrection

The Church of Jesus Christ, consisting of those who have died in Him and those who are still alive at the moment of the Rapture, “…shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…” (1st Thessalonians 4:17). This can’t be made any clearer, and should not be misunderstood.

Yet some say that this verse speaks about the last resurrection when all people will stand before the white throne of judgment. The Bible does not teach that we will see Jesus at the Great White Throne. Revelation 20:11 says, “… I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.” This is the ultimate judgment of all those who have rejected salvation in Jesus Christ.

Even the dead will be resurrected, as the next verse indicates, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God….” Again, there is no Lamb of God, no grace, no more salvation, only judgment. That will be the most horrible time for those who must stand before the throne of God. Undoubtedly, they will know they could have been saved, but will now realize that it is too late; there is no escape. Verse 13 categorically states, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” This judgment leads to condemnation. The result is described with the words, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (verses 14-15).

The resurrection that we read of in 1st Thessalonians 4 has no relation to the one mentioned in Revelation 20. The Church “…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” (verse 17).

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (17)

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CHAPTER V (CONTINUE)

The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)

J. Warnings: Matt. 7:15-27. The Sermon ends with a two-fold warning. The first is against false prophets, and the second against a poor foundation. No doubt in the coming Tribulation period there will be a rash of false prophets as indicated in Matt. 24:21-24, but even now they are increasing in number. Just because a man preaches about Jesus and claims to work miracles in the name of Jesus does not mean he is a true prophet.

Jesus said: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out demons? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” In the light of these words, one should employ great discernment when viewing the growing charismatic movement. It is altogether possible that this movement is preparing the religious world for the host of false prophets who will arise after the Rapture of the Church to work their deceiving miracles as predicted by Jesus.

The other warning is the parable of the two houses, or more accurately, the two foundations. Regardless of the workmanship in the houses, their ability to stand the test depends not upon the beauty of their furnishings, but upon their foundations. The lives of some unconverted men may appear to be more noble, philanthropic, gentle, industrious than that of some Christians, but the one will be swept away in the flood of God’s judgment and the other will stand. Luke’s account adds that the wise man dug deep and laid his foundation upon the rock, and Paul tells us that other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 3:11). Jesus was speaking about the importance and the character of the foundation. Paul starts with the only true foundation and speaks of the importance and character of the building. The Christian’s life and ministry is the building. Paul laid the foundation for this dispensation as a wise master- builder, and we are to take heed how we build. We may build with wood, hay, and stubble, or with gold, silver, and precious stones. God’s fire will test the building and all that is worthless will be burned away. The building is not the person. The building may be destroyed, but the person will be saved, because man is not saved by his building but by faith.

4. Healing of the Centurion’s Servant References: Matt. 8:5-13; Lk. 7:1-10

A comparison of Matthew’s and Luke’s account of this incident is most enlightening. If we had only Matthew’s account, we would suppose that the Centurion came personally to Jesus, but when we read. Luke, we understand that certain of the Jews acted as intermediaries. The centurion did not consider himself worthy to have Jesus come under his roof, and apparently, he didn’t feel worthy to even speak to Him personally. Or perhaps he had enough discernment to know that Jesus ministered only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This incident is one of the two recorded cases where Jesus ministered to a Gentile while He was on earth.

We think of Roman soldiers as hard, cruel, unconscionable men. But this man was different. To begin with, Luke tells us that this critically ill servant was “dear unto him.” He loved this servant enough to go to the trouble of getting a delegation of Jews to go to Jesus to intercede for him. The second and almost unbelievable thing about this centurion was that he also loved the nation of Israel and had demonstrated his love by building a synagogue for the Jews. This Roman is a foreshadowing of Gentile salvation to the children of the tribulation saints in the Millennial Kingdom. God had promised Abraham long ago that He would bless those who blessed Abraham’s seed and curse those who cursed his seed. One cannot help but wonder whether there was any connection between this centurion and centurion Cornelius in Acts 10.

Jesus went with this delegation of Jews and when they were not far from the house, the centurion probably saw them coming and sent some friends to tell Jesus not to go to the trouble of coming to his house. All He needed to do was to speak the word and his servant would be healed. When Jesus heard this, He said to all those about Him, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” The friends upon returning to the house found the servant healed. One cannot help but wonder whether the centurion ever met Jesus face to face.

5. Raising of the Widow’s Son at Nain Reference: Lk. 7:11-17

This miracle is recorded only by Luke. Nain is located about 16 miles S.W. of Capernaum and about five miles S.E. of Nazareth where Jesus grew up. As He and His disciples and the crowd that was following Him approached the gate of the city, a funeral procession was passing through the gate. It was that of a widow’s only son, and when Jesus saw the situation, He had compassion on the woman. He stopped the procession and commanded the dead man to arise. And the dead man sat up and began speaking and Jesus restored him to his mother. One commentator feels that the compassion of Jesus is proof of His true humanity, and surely His command “to arise” manifested His Deity. The people all feared and said, “A great prophet has arisen among us.” He was a great Prophet, as Moses had predicted, but apparently that was all the people saw in Him. They did not recognize Him as the Son of God and the Savior from sin.

6. John in Prison Sends Disciples to Question Jesus References: Matt. 11:2-30; Lk. 7:18-35; 10:21, 22; cf. Lk. 16:16

We learned earlier that Jesus left Judea when He heard that John the Baptist had been thrown into prison. The reason for his imprisonment is given in Matt. 14:3-5; Mk. 6:17,18; Lk. 3:19,20. We do not know whether it was John personally or his disciples who had doubts about Jesus. Something seemed to be going amiss if Jesus was the promised deliverer and His forerunner was languishing in prison. When they asked Jesus if He was the One who was to come or should they look for another, He did not answer them directly but told them to go back and tell John what they had seen, that is, the various kinds of miracles being done. Miracles are not necessarily a divine accreditation, for Satan can work miracles also. But John would know the Scriptures and he would know that Isaiah had stated specific works which would identify the Messiah. These were the very works they beheld Jesus doing. See. Isa. 29:18; 35:4-6; 60:1-3.

After John’s disciples had departed Jesus began to question the people about John. What kind of a man was he? He was not a men-pleaser, a reed shaken with the wind. Neither was he a self-indulgent person living in worldly pleasure. He was a prophet the other prophets had predicted should come, (Mal. 3:1) to prepare the way for the Messiah. There was no one greater than John, according to Jesus, but interestingly enough, he that is least (or lesser) in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than John. Jesus did not mean that the lesser one in the Kingdom was personally or morally better than John, but that John belonged to a dispensation that was inferior to the new Kingdom dispensation which was now at hand. The Old Covenant dispensation contained promises of the new, but John died before experiencing the new. Note the contrasts between the old and the new in Jer. 31:31-35 and 2 Cor. 3:6-16. The spiritual benefits of the New Covenant sealed with the blood of Christ are shared both by the Church in this present dispensation and Israel in the coming Kingdom dispensation (Rom. 15:27).

Jesus continued speaking about John: “From the days of John till Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” There is a similar statement made on a different occasion in Lk. 16:16: “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” The word “presseth into” is the same Greek word translated “suffereth violence” in Matthew. Translators and commentators differ widely in their interpretation of these passages; mainly over the word violent, whether it refers to violent opposition to John and Jesus, or to the eager, enthusiastic thronging of the multitudes to get in on the blessings of this new dispensation. Interpreting the statement in the light of the immediate context it appears that Jesus is contrasting the period before John with the then present period. The law and the prophets were until John. The Kingdom of heaven was as yet only a promise. Now it is here, close at hand. It is being preached and multitudes are flocking to hear about it. The great multitudes who thronged Jesus are mentioned over 80 times in the Gospels. They would even have taken Him by force to make Him king (John 6:15, where “force” is the same Greek word translated “force” in Matt. 11:12). This does not mean that all of these multitudes became saved individuals, for many were like the “stony soil in the parable of the Sower” (Matt. 13:20,21): “the same is he that heareth the word, and immediately with joy receiveth it, yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while, for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, immediately he is offended.” The multitudes were outwardly pressing into the Kingdom for the physical blessings which were being offered in the form of miraculous healings and supply of food, even though later on some of them would cry out: “Away with Him, crucify Him.”

There is yet another point that needs clarification about the words: “The law and the prophets were until John.” There are certain of the Baptist persuasion who teach that the new dispensation in which we now live began with John the Baptist; that he was the first Christian and the founder of the Baptist Church. If John was the first Christian and the founder of the Church, it is strange that the lesser one in the new arrangement is greater than John. But more importantly, Christ was not contrasting the law and the prophets with the Body of Christ Church of this dispensation, but with the Messianic Kingdom which will be set up on this earth at Christ’s second coming. Everything about John the Baptist and the Kingdom was predicted by the prophets of old, but none of the prophets predicted anything about the Body of Christ, for it was at that time a secret hidden in God Himself.

There was a big “IF” in the ministry of Jesus, and it is here expressed in Matt. 11: 14: “And if ye are willing to receive it, this is Elijah which is to come.” The establishment of the Kingdom was contingent upon lsrael’s receiving of it. Had they received it, John the Baptist would have been the Elijah who was to come, but Israel did not accept John or Jesus and the Kingdom economy was set aside.

Jesus seemed to be at a loss for words to describe the generation in which He lived, and we might say that the character of succeeding generations has not changed. He asked, “Whereunto shall I liken this generation?” He then gives the similitude or parable of the children in the marketplace playing games of weddings and funerals. Children were accustomed to putting on skits in the marketplace and were disappointed when people did not dance or lament in response to their plays. So John came preaching repentance and the people did not lament, and Jesus came preaching the abundant life and the people did not dance. They accused John of being demon possessed and Christ of being a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But Jesus said, “Wisdom is justified of or by her children,” which is usually understood to mean that God’s wisdom is justified or proved right by its results. Christ is the wisdom of God personified (1 Cor. 1:24) and those who believed in Him were the children of wisdom. They repented at John’s preaching and understood the mercy and grace of Jesus in eating and drinking with publicans and sinners.

The cities around the Sea of Galilee were the most privileged cities of the world, Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum where Jesus made His headquarters and where so many of His mighty works were done. And yet they rejected the Light and nothing but judgment awaits them. Here we see the foreknowledge of the Lord Jesus, one of His divine attributes. He knew that the cities of Tyre and Sidon and Sodom would have repented if the same mighty words had been done in them. Therefore, it will be more tolerable for them in the day of judgment than for the cities in which Jesus ministered.
Jesus then turned away from this scene of rejection and judgment and turned to His Father in heaven thanking Him that He had hidden these truths from the wise and the prudent and had revealed them unto babes, for so it seemed good or was well pleasing in His sight. The wiseacres of this world are foolishness with God. Paul states: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of the thing preached to save them that believe,” (1 Cor. 1:21). Jesus did not thank the Father in the usual sense of that word. He confessed or acknowledged the fact, for that is what the Greek word means. The word “babes” in this context does not mean actual infants but those who are humble and lowly in their attitude to God. When the Son came into the world the Father delivered all things to the Son and no one fully knows the Son but the Father, and no one fully knows the Father but the Son and the one to whomsoever the Son wills to reveal Him. There are a number of different words for knowing in the N.T. Here it means full or complete knowledge. It also bears the sense of relationship, as when it is stated that Joseph did not know Mary until she had brought forth her firstborn child (Matt. 1:25), or when Jesus professes, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23). The unsaved man knows about God, but he doesn’t know God; he has never come into a saving relationship with Him. He can know about God as revealed in nature, but he can never come into a living relationship with God by any natural means. This knowledge of God does not come by education but by revelation. The Spirit of God must reveal God to us for us to know Him in this relationship.

Jesus concludes this section with the invitation for all who labor and are heavy laden to come to Him for rest. The invitation to come is made to both sinner and saint. After coming to Him we are told to take His yoke upon us. A yoke is not made for one animal or person, but for two. It is that which couples two together to pull a load. We thus become yokefellows with Christ Himself. Yokefellows must have the same objectives and must pull in the same direction. When yoked with Christ the burdens and work of the ministry” become easy and light.

7. Jesus Anointed in the House of Simon the Pharisee Reference: Lk. 7:36-50

This story involves a parable of grace. We have pointed out before that Luke in his association with Paul must have imbibed the spirit of grace from this apostle of grace, for whereas the word grace does not even appear once in Matthew or Mark, it appears eight times in Luke, and the verb for showing grace appears three times more in this present incident.

Simon apparently wanted to learn more about this Rabbi who was creating such a stir, so he invited him to dinner. There was a woman also, who is simply described as a sinner, who had heard that Jesus was dining with Simon and she took advantage of the situation to meet Jesus. She came with a gift, an alabaster box of ointment. Apparently, she had listened to the teaching of Jesus, had been convicted of her sin and had repented of it, and brought this gift to show her gratitude. It is difficult for us to visualize this scene since we eat sitting up with our feet under the table. The orientals reclined on couches around the table and theft feet were thus extended to one side. It was the servant’s duty to wash and anoint the feet of guests, as seen from the story of Abigail (1 Sam 25:41). Thus, this woman took her place as a servant of the Lord. Instead of water, she washed His feet with her tears, tears which manifested a true sorrow for her past sinfulness, and then anointed His feet with the perfume.

While all of this was going on Simon sat back trying to figure out what kind of a Rabbi this was. Surely if Jesus was a prophet, He would have known that this woman was a common sinner and would never had let her touch Him. Jesus, being a prophet, not only knew what kind of woman this was, He also knew what was going through Simon’s mind. So, He related a little parable to Simon which was designed to make Simon himself pass judgment upon himself. It is one thing for a teacher to tell others of their sins; it is another thing to have the person tell himself he is a sinner, and this is what Jesus forced Simon to do, although he did it unwittingly.

A certain creditor had two debtors. One owed 500 pence and the other 50. Neither of them had a penny to his name, so the creditor frankly forgave them both. “Frankly forgave” is literally: “engraced them,” did something for them they did not deserve. “Now Simon, which one will love him most?” Simon answered, “I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most?” And Jesus agreed: “Thou hast rightly judged.” Then Jesus turned to the woman and began telling Simon that she had performed all of the social amenities toward Him that Simon had failed to do. Then He said concerning the woman, “Her sins which were many are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” And He said to her, “Thy sins are forgiven.”

Probably if Simon ever came to the place of admitting he was a sinner at all, and was the one who owed but fifty pence and unable to pay one penny, he would have been further convicted of his sin of self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and lovelessness and would have seen himself as sinful as the woman. This parable is, to our way of thinking, one of the clearest presentations of salvation by grace. If there is such a thing as big and little sinners, this story puts them all in the same fix; they are all morally and spiritually bankrupt. They can’t do one little thing to pay their debt of sin. And while they are in this hopeless condition, the Lord freely engraces them and cancels their debt, taking the loss upon Himself. Simon answered correctly. If he stuck by his answer he had to admit that he had very little love either for God or his fellow man. John says: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20).

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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THE RAPTURE SERIES 8: WHICH IS THE REAL CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST?

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We have noted that 1st Thessalonians 4 was specifically addressed to the Church. One requirement for the Rapture is evident in verse 14, “…if we believe that Jesus died and rose again….” Those who do not believe that Jesus died and rose again obviously are not waiting for His coming in the clouds of Heaven because they are not born again.

Which Denomination Represents The Real Church?

Today many denominations are found under the umbrella of Protestantism, including: Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Baptist, Lutheran, and many others, all of whom consider themselves to be the Church of Jesus Christ. This presents a problem as there are some glaring differences among the doctrine and theology of these Christian denominations.

One denomination states that everyone who is baptized as a baby is automatically born again and therefore, is a member of the Church. Others say there is a special second baptism of the Holy Spirit which must be experienced in order to finalize our salvation. Which, then, is the “real” Church?

The word “church” no longer means the same thing it did almost 2,000 years ago. When we hear the word “church,” we think of a building where people gather once, twice, three times or more a week for fellowship, worship, singing, and praying. However, that does not qualify any group of people or denomination to be considered the Church of Jesus Christ. Who then comprises the true Church? The answer is rather simple: Jesus stated, “… where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” That is the Church of Jesus Christ! Therefore, any local church, denomination, or group of people who claim to be the exclusive representatives of the true Church of Jesus Christ on earth is fundamentally wrong.

The Catholic Church is the most powerful denomination in the world. We need to understand that the organizational structure of the Catholic Church claims absolute jurisdiction over Christianity.

This self-claimed monopoly on salvation can be found as the basic belief of all false religions, whether they are Mormons, Moonies, Jehovah Witnesses, Adventists, or others; all have a similar message. “We are the absolute authority in the Christian religion and we are the way.”

The Church Is An Organism

If two or three believers born again of the Spirit of God exist in any local church, then the true Church of Jesus Christ may be found within that particular church building. The moment that there are not any true believers found in a church, the Church of Jesus Christ is not present. They should be considered a supper club, entertainment spot, or cultural center, but not the true Church.

In order to be organized and to obey the laws of our government, we must be registered as a church. We need an infrastructure, programs, staff, equipment, and proper facilities to function. However, we may have all of the above listed essentials, and yet not necessarily represent “the” Church of Jesus Christ.

The Church Is His Body

Ephesians 1:23 refers to the Church of Jesus Christ as, “His body.” Jesus is the head and we are the members. Chapter 5:30 further explains, “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” Notice that it says, “his flesh, and of his bones.” This cannot be applied to the living members of His Church because our earthly composition is not described as “flesh and bones” but “flesh and blood.”

Jesus poured out His blood as full payment for all of our sins. His flesh and bones were transformed at the moment of His resurrection. He testified to His unbelieving disciples, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39). Remember that when He was crucified, His bones were not broken. Through His broken flesh, He opened the way to the Holy of Holies, “By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (Hebrews 10:20). At the moment of the Rapture, and not before, we will be instantaneously translated into His likeness!

First Corinthians 12:12-13 reads, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” Based on these scriptural facts, we can easily recognize that there is no direct relationship to any organization or denomination.

The true Church of Jesus Christ is a living movement, a channel of blessing from which the Word of God issues forth into the outermost parts of the world. Evidence of a prospering church is where faith is growing, and its primary concern is preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Task Of The Church

Believers from around the world, no matter what their nationality, race, or color, have become citizens of Heaven: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). No one can obtain this privileged citizenship by any other means than by trusting Jesus alone as his or her personal Saviour.

In addition, the exclusive responsibility of building the Church is not in the hands of a denomination or a community, but exactly as Jesus prophesied, “…I will build my church…” (Matthew 16:18). Not only is Jesus the Creator but He is the very foundation of our faith, “[We] are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone ” (Ephesians 2:20). The Church, consisting of all of its members worldwide, will complete the spiritual temple of God, “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Verses 21-22).

Invisible Church

This great mystery of the Church of Jesus Christ is often misunderstood because there is no visible proof of the existence of the true Church. We cannot present a membership list of all who are truly born again. Nor can we show the progress of this spiritual temple to anyone. No wonder so many liberal theologians who have abandoned the faith of the Lord talk about a world-wide church that needs to be organized and visibly manifested through various movements such as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR),  the World Council of Churches, the Ecumenical Movement, or the Vatican. These and many other unity-seeking movements and organizations do not represent the Church of Jesus Christ.

The danger of deception does not lie in the obvious but is camouflaged so that it often becomes difficult to analyze who the true Church is. Not only is the Ecumenical Movement hard at work in uniting various church denominations, but the visible unity-seeking spirit of the end times goes much further. Such ‘unity’ will prevail among all religions under the Antichrist.

The Spirit of God does not tolerate a mixture of truth and lies. The Spirit corresponds precisely with the written Word. Whenever someone claims to have a special message from God, we must carefully check that message against the Bible. Even well-intended, pro-Gospel statements are not necessarily the works of the Holy Spirit. In our day, many will fall for virtually anything that seems spiritual and is loosely connected to some verse in Scripture. When questioned, supporters of these false teachers say, “It can’t be of the devil, they are preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

We should learn that not all things that seem good are Christian, but they may be the works of the great deceiver. It is however, not our task to eagerly search for mistakes that fellow Christians may make and identify them as “works of deception” or even as the “devil’s work.” Jumping the gun is not necessarily the work of the Spirit of God either.

Dispensation Of The Church

The Church, contrary to Israel, has a limited amount of time. To be more precise, our time lies between the rejection and the re-acceptance of Israel. Today, we are witnessing Israel coming back to her land where they have established a powerful, prosperous nation.

But until this day, Israel is still blind to her Messiah for our sake, “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes” (Romans 11:28).

For the first time in 2,000 years Israel has become a sovereign nation. As believers, we should recognize this as a great end time sign, if not the greatest, for the Church to be ready for the Rapture.

It is impossible for anyone to deny the reality of the Israeli nation any longer, not even her Arab enemies or those who follow the evil of Replacement theology. This is an unprecedented sign in history, and a special sign of the times for the Church. Jesus told us, “… when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28). He is not necessarily encouraging us to be alert and to watch for signs of the Great Tribulation or the coming of the Antichrist, but rather to “Look up” for our redemption and our Redeemer!

The Church continued to grow, and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is being proclaimed in the outermost parts of the world. Those who believe in Him are born again, and they become lively stones in this spiritual temple. The moment the last gentile is added, the spiritual house is complete and will be raptured into the presence of the Lord!

Light Of The World

Another vital task for the Church is to be a light in a dark world. Philippians 2:15 reads, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”

Jesus says, “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). We must not misunderstand this important statement because Jesus said of Himself, “I am the light of the world.” He is the ultimate Light. Notice that He did not say “ye have the light of the world” but “ye are the light of the world.” This “light” is not physically visible in any way. In other words, we cannot see this light with our physical eyes. The news media cannot come to our churches and report about the light they have seen. The light to which the Lord is referring is a spiritual matter and can only be understood spiritually. Only when a person is born again can he see the light, and subsequently the future kingdom of God.

John 3:3 makes this very clear, “… Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

When Jesus walked on the earth, both friends and enemies recognized who He was without any publicity campaign. He did not have promoters, booking agents, press secretaries, or a media staff. His being radiated the glory of God and touched those who were in darkness because they saw the light. His light exposed the sins of those with whom He came in contact. Even the devils cried out, “… What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God?” (Matthew 8:29).

Fruit Of The Spirit

My dear friend, if you are born again, you are light. Don’t hide the light behind your own flesh and blood. In other words, don’t place yourself in front of the light in that you show off what a great person you are. The works of the flesh, which we have already identified, are the hindering element in letting your light shine. Examine yourself before the countenance of God as to whether or not your light is shining!

How can you know that your light is shining? Through the exhibition of the fruit of the Spirit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law ” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Our Works

Often, our problem is that we reverse Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” We are not to promote our works for the Lord for our glory. Naturally we like to do that. Jesus plainly tells us in the correct order that first we should “let your light so shine.” We have mentioned that the light is the “fruit of the spirit.” When people recognize this light, they “see your good works.” Therefore, don’t show off your good works because you will hinder the light: rather, let the “fruit of the spirit” be on permanent display in your life so a direct vision of the Word will fall by those who are in darkness and, as a result, they “will glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Light Shines Best When Dark

Believers frequently complain about the terrible times in which we live and the darkness coming upon this world. That may be true, but remember, light shines brightest in the darkest places. To illustrate this point, look up. You will not see a star in the sky during the day, but in the darkness of the night, stars shine brightly!

The prophet Isaiah spoke of the contrast between darkness and light, ’Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee” (Isaiah 60:1-2). While this is specifically addressed to the children of Israel, we know that spiritually it addresses the Church as well. These verses have not been fulfilled for Israel nationally because the Lord’s glory is not seen upon Israel in this day.

A “gross darkness” is indeed covering the entire earth, a darkness to the truth of the precious liberating Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thankfully, this darkness has been removed from the eyes of millions who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Each of us who believes has experienced the fulfillment of Isaiah 60:3, “… the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”

Isaiah’s prophecy continues in the next verse and has yet to be fulfilled to its fullest extent. “Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side” (Isaiah 60:4- 5).

Summarizing, the Church of Jesus Christ cannot be identified with a denomination, a local church, or a group of people, but it consists exclusively of individual born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church does not have an address, a nationality or a political identity. No one can determine the number of Her members. Yet the Church is a powerful, living reality surpassing everything that is of this world.

In recent years, we have experienced the revelation of the Church behind the former Iron Curtain. While virtually nothing of the Church has been visible in communist countries, we have suddenly seen great activity in the most unexpected places. Believers are gathering in fellowship, praising God, teaching the Word, and waiting for the coming of Jesus. China, where extreme strict measures have been taken against any religion, has particularly surprised us. No one can confirm that number, but we do know the Church is alive and well, even during the greatest oppression man has ever seen. As the true Church continues to prosper and grow daily, the Lord is adding those who believe to His body and when the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, the moment of the Rapture will arrive.

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (16)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER V (CONTINUE)

The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)

D. Riches: Matt. 6:19-24. There are two great principles enunciated in this section: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” and “No man can serve two masters.” The Bible contains many warnings about worldly riches. Here the warning is about the uncertainty of such riches. And even if a man succeeds in amassing a fortune, he may be like the rich fool of Lk. 12:20, whose soul was required of him and he could not take any of his riches with him. The believer can transmute base earthly labor and money into heavenly treasure and have it kept safe on deposit awaiting his arrival in glory.

Paul’s main comments on riches, and they that would be rich are to be found in 1 Tim. 6:6-10. James has some scathing remarks about the rich in Ch. 5:1-6 of his epistle. God has entrusted some of His faithful people with worldly riches, and Paul has a word for them in 1 Tim. 6:17-19.

The parable of the Eye as the Light of the Body in vs. 22 and 23 seems to be related to the location of one’s treasure as well as the serving of two masters. The eye that is single is an eye that is focused upon just one object, not on a complex mixture of objects. We should have an eye single to the glory of God (Eph. 6:5). Likewise, our eye should be focused upon the Lord who is Light, otherwise the light that is in us becomes darkness.
“No man can serve two masters.” “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon is an Aramaic word meaning property or wealth, and is here personified, as it is in Lk. 16:13. People try to serve both masters, but their loyalties are divided.

E. Anxiety: Matt. 6:25-34. Anxiety is a sin; it not only demonstrates a lack of faith (and whatsoever is not of faith is sin, Rom. 14:23), but is also injurious to health. The A.V., “Take no thought,” is a very poor translation for today, although it was a good translation in 1611 when the word thought meant anxiety, as can be seen from Shakespeare’s usage in Hamlet: “The native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.”
All six of the “take no thoughts” of this passage should be translated, “Don’t be over anxious.” Jesus did not mean a reckless neglect of the future, but uneasiness and worry and anxiety about the future. While many of the principles in this section can be applied equally to the Kingdom and to the Church, we believe there is a distinct difference in some of the Kingdom promises and those for us today. Kingdom promises include material blessings. The Kingdom disciples formed a kind of commune in which they shared all their possessions in common, and we read: “Neither was there any among them that lacked” (Acts 4:34), but a few years later, after the Kingdom program had been set aside in favor of the new Pauline dispensation, we read of these same people that they had become destitute, insomuch that Paul had to take up a collection from his Gentile churches for the poor saints at Jerusalem (Rom. 15:26). Since apostolic days numerous attempts have been made to establish Christian communism, but they have all failed.

Paul condemns anxiety, just as Jesus did (Phil. 4:6), but he encourages industry and the laying aside of funds and the right use of money. He doesn’t condemn the rich but tells them to be rich in good works. He warned those who willed to be rich, for this was an indication of the love of money, which is the root of all kinds of evil.

Matt. 6:33 is often misapplied. Two questions need to be asked: What does it mean to seek the Kingdom of God, and, Are all these other things automatically added? The Kingdom of which Jesus spoke was still future, for He had just instructed His disciples to pray for its coming into being. They were to seek it as a future expectation. This expectation is ours today only in a secondary sense.

Our expectation is the Rapture and to be manifested in glory with Christ. We are already in the spiritual Kingdom of His dear Son (Col. 1:13). We are not seeking the Millennial Kingdom as the disciples of Jesus were. Even if we interpret seeking the Kingdom to mean, putting God first in our lives, does this automatically guarantee that all of these material things will be supplied? We have known people who have gone out as foreign missionaries who believed on the basis of this verse that God would add to them all of these earthly needs. They surely put God first in their lives. Some took no health precautions, thinking this promise took care of all such things, but they came down with malaria, dysentery, and parasites and had to be brought home.

We today must remember that the disciples were living in a dispensation under which they had power over all manner of diseases and even over poisonous serpents. We are not living in that dispensation. Putting God first involves putting His Word first, and that means following His instruction to rightly divide His Word, so that we know which part is for our obedience. In so doing we may learn that putting God first means industriousness, “for if any will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thes. 3:10); and the use of remedies for sickness (1 Tim. 5:23); and bodily exercise (1 Tim. 4:8 – it is profitable for a little, not profiteth little). God works according to a plan and He expects us to have a plan for our lives. We can make such plans without becoming anxious or worried. He gives us common sense and He expects us to use it. In every dispensation God and His glory should be put first, but the promises of physical blessings flowing from such actions may vary from dispensation to dispensation. Paul surely put God first in his life, but read of some of his privations in 2 Cor. 11:24-33.

F. Discernment: Matt. 7:1-6; Lk. 6:37-42. The commands in the Bible about judging can be very confusing unless we use discernment. The command here, “Judge not,” seems to say that we should never judge. But that could not be so, for Jesus also said: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). And Paul instructs believers to pass judgment upon those in the Church who are misbehaving, and he asks: “Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” (1 Cor. 6:5). And in another place Paul says: “Yea, I judge not mine own self” (1 Cor. 4:3) and in the same epistle, “if we would judge ourselves we should not be judged” (11:31). These are not contradictory statements.

The context must determine the meaning. In Matt. 7:1 Jesus is saying, “If you don’t want to be criticized, don’t criticize others, for others will criticize you by the same standards you use in judging others. The measure you give will be the measure you get.” And He says, before finding fault with others be sure you don’t have the same or even greater fault. He illustrates this with exaggeration. How can you see to remove a speck from your brother’s eye when you have a big log in your own eye? Getting the log out of our own eye is self-judgment. The meaning of these verses seems clear, but what did Jesus mean in Matt. 7: 67?

“Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you?” This surely, does not mean to refrain from preaching the gospel to the unsaved, for this is the only message the Christian has for those outside of Christ.

In the figure which the Lord uses, the word “holy” refers to the meat of the animal sacrifice of which no unclean person could eat (Lev. 22:6,7,10,14,15,16). Dogs were unclean animals, a term which the Jews applied to Gentiles (Matt. 15:26). Early Christians applied this similitude of the holy things to the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, which should not be administered to the unsaved.

The other similitude has a different character. Pearls have a resemblance to peas and acorns which are given to swine, but if thrown to swine, upon discovery that they are inedible they will trample them underfoot and turn upon the donor in anger. There is truth in the Bible intended for the unsaved, and there is truth intended for only the saved. To minister a heavenly diet to the unsaved is like trying to feed swine on pearls. The unregenerated mind cannot tolerate spiritual food. It is, as Paul says, foolishness unto him. When God gave the heavenly manna to the Israelites they treated it with contempt and lusted for the leeks and garlic and the fleshpots of Egypt (Num. 11:4-6).
In the corresponding portion in Luke “the measure” is enlarged upon. If you, as a merchant, fill the measure, press it down, and shake it down further and then fill it to overflowing, your customers will deal in like fashion with you. If you give a skimpy measure, you will get the same in return. This principle applies also to our relation to God, (cf. 2 Cor. 9:6).

Luke also adds the parable of the blind leading the blind. If you have a log in your eye you are blinded and cannot see to lead another who is blind. Also, the disciple or learner is not equal to his master. One must study long to become perfected as a teacher, and then he becomes equal with his master. As the poet has said, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” Some people learn the meaning of a few Greek words in the N.T. and go about posing as authorities. They can easily lead others astray by conclusions based upon their ignorance of the language as a whole.

G. Encouragements: Matt. 7:7-21; Lk. 11:9-13. The encouragement is based upon prayer and the fact that if parents who are themselves evil know how to give good things to their children who ask, will not the heavenly Father rather give good things to those who ask Him? Asking, seeking, and knocking indicate varying degrees of earnestness in prayer. There is no promise of getting any or every request of a selfish nature (cf. Jas. 4:3). Parents have to be very unwise to give their children everything for which they ask. God gives good things, not requested things which would be for the hurt of the child. The comparison of bread and stones and fish and serpents might seem odd, but there can be a resemblance between these objects.

Lk. 11:13 has a variation on the Matthew rendering: “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” In the O.T. the Holy Spirit came upon kings and prophets for special types of empowerments and might later leave them. The Holy Spirit was taken away from Saul because of his sins of disobedience. David prayed that God would not take His Holy Spirit from him (Ps. 51:11). The New Covenant promised that God would put His Spirit in the hearts of the children of Israel (Ezek. 36:27; 37:14).

Christ told His disciples that the Holy Spirit was dwelling with them, and that later on He would be in them (John 14:17). John explains that when Jesus spoke of rivers of living water flowing out of one’s innermost being, “He spake this of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). Whereas in that dispensation people had to pray for the Holy Spirit to come and dwell with them, and at Pentecost the Holy Spirit was given after repentance and water baptism, in the present dispensation the Holy Spirit is given upon believing (Eph. 1:13, where “after believing” as in the A.V., should be translated, “upon believing,” for it is a present participle).

H. The Golden Rule: Matt. 7:12. Many people have the impression that to become a Christian one must try to keep the Golden Rule. But the Golden Rule is not a means of salvation. When Christ gave it He said: “For this is the Law and the Prophets.” Scripture is clear that no flesh will ever be justified by keeping the Law. The law demanded that you do unto others what you would have them do unto you. There is nothing especially Christian about this rule. Confucius taught it 500 years before Christ and probably all religions contain the general idea. It is actually a part of natural law. But no man, aside from Jesus Christ, ever consistently lived up to this rule. But through the operation of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, God is able to fulfill all of the righteous requirements of the moral Law in the believer (Rom. 8:24). There is nothing wrong with the Golden Rule or with the Law. Man’s sinful nature is at fault (cf. Rom. 7:12-18).

I. Alternatives: Matt. 7:13,14. Religionists often say that there are many roads that lead to heaven, but Jesus spoke of only two roads, and one of them led to destruction, leaving only one road that leads to life. In John 14:6 Christ speaks of Himself as the only Way by which men can come to God. In John 10:9 He spoke of Himself as the Door, through which if any man enter he shall be saved. In the passage before us the two gates and the two ways seem to refer more to the choices men make in life as they travel through this world.

A better translation of these two verses would be: “Enter in through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are the ones going through it: Because narrow is the gate and constricted is the way that leads to life, and few are the ones finding it.” Notice the comparisons. One gate is very wide, the other very narrow; one way is broad and spacious, the other uneven and difficult to travel; one leads to disaster and destruction, the other leads to life everlasting.

If we isolate these verses from the remainder of Scripture we might get the impression that Jesus is teaching that in order to be saved one must by his own efforts overcome all of the obstacles and difficulties of the narrow way, that he must climb up to heaven by his own strength. But, of course, that is not at all what He is saying. When one enters through the narrow gate he is saved, but from there on the way will not be easy. Over and over Jesus told those who would be His disciples that they would suffer persecution and tribulation (John 16:33; Matt. 10:22; John 15:18), and the same is true in our present dispensation (2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Thes. 3:4). In Jesus’ day, as the opposition from the rulers mounted, it became more and more difficult to make the choice of going through the narrow gate, and the way became more and more straitened and difficult. On the other hand, it seems that the gate is so wide and the road is so broad which leads to destruction, that the unsaved are unaware of having gone through a gate. But they are aware of the bright lights and high life of Broadway, not realizing what is at the end of that road.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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