In the video above we discuss the biggest mistake made by modern Christian parents. It is so prevalent, we do not even recognize it, yet it has devastating consequences. The bottom line is that in our modern cultural Christianity, we teach our children how to avoid the consequences of sin, as opposed to teaching them to avoid sin itself. Romans 6:23 teaches that the wages of sin is death. Sin will be paid, and as parents we must carefully consider how we teach our children related to issues of carnality which we are surrounded with. Hope you enjoy the video and I look forward to your comments.
In the video above, I reflect on the Biblical precepts we used to raise our daughter. God richly blessed our desire to use Godly principles to raise our daughter, and she grew up without ever rebelling against us, her faith, or her church. My earnest prayer is that you will find these techniques useful in raising your daughters.
I can not tell you how many times I have heard someone say, “I just can’t believe in a God that would throw people into hell.” The problem is, that it does not really matter what you believe, it matters what the truth is. In college I had a friend who was always joking that he did not believe in gravity. One evening he was somewhat inebriated and came to my room and started espousing his theory of not believing in gravity. To prove his point, he jumped out of the second floor window of my dorm room. My friend learned that even though he did not believe in gravity, gravity believed in him, and had if it not been for a few tree limbs that broke his fall on the way down, he could have been seriously injured.
Gravity is there, and it will impact us, whether we believe in it or not. The same with God’s spiritual precepts. They are there, they are true, and they will affect us, whether we believe them or not. On that day we stand before the One True Holy God, we are not judged based on the god of our imagination, but the God of scripture, His Nature, and His Precepts. As such, it is extremely important to ensure that we are not simply picking a few verses here and there, taking them out of context and then creating a God in our own image, to suit our own purposes, and then expecting him to save us.
In Part 1 of this series of articles, we saw that we can create a scriptural picture of the attributes of God by studying Jeremiah 9:23 and Isaiah 33:22. In Part 2 we looked at scripture describing the Holiness and Righteousness of God, and in Part 3 we looked at God as King and Lord. In this article we will look at God as Lawgiver and Judge.
Simply stated, God makes the rules as far as what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to Him. He creates the rules, and then He is the judge. His judgements are based on His standards, and not ours. What we believe about God is not the measure against which we will be judged. We will be judged based on the righteous decrees of God as revealed in His Word, the Holy Bible.
Revelation 20:11-15 presents an awesome and terrible picture of the Great White Throne Judgement of God. Please prayerfully read and reflect on this text.
11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
This text creates a rather disturbing image of the judgment seat of God, and God’s attribute of “Judge”. I often hear people focus on the Love of God, and say that God does not throw anyone into hell . . . that people choose hell. Clearly the people in this verse are not running and jumping into the lake of fire. God has judged them, and He is casting them into hell. Perhaps even more shocking, we gain insight in Matthew 7:21 that many people who believe they are Christians will be cast into the lake of fire. In Matthew 7:21 we read:
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
In studying these two texts, it is clear that we must make sure to get this thing right. The most important thing for us to do in this life is make sure we are in the “Book of Life”.
Notice in both the Revelation and Matthew accounts of judgment, the accused stands alone before God.
The person being judged is alone. The priest that told them to say three “Hail Marys” and their sin would be forgiven is not there. The preacher who told them that if they were sprinkled as an infant that they are a member of the family of God is not there. The vacation bible school teacher that said that if you walk the aisle and say the sinner’s prayer you are promised a spot in heaven is not there. The preacher who said if you are thinking the right thing when you are baptised, and if the preacher says the right thing, then you are saved is not there. The evangelist who says that if you come up from your baptism speaking in tongues you will be saved is not there. The condemned stands before God alone. They are judged by Him based on His standards, not based on what we believed to be true, or even what we are taught to be true. We have to get this thing right.
With these terrible pictures of the judgment seat of God, we need to carefully heed the Bible verses encouraging us to “get” our salvation right. In second Peter 1:10-11 we are encouraged to make your election sure:
10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We do not want to slide into heaven as through the fire, by the skin of our teeth. We want to hit the bullseye in the center, and to find “an entrance supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”.
Friend, have you ever made your election sure? Have you ever questioned yourself on what you believe, and why you believe it? Most likely you follow the faith of your parents, and believe what they believed because that is how you were brought up, and that is how they were brought up before you. Have you ever wondered, what if they were wrong? Have you ever poured over scripture to really study what the word of God says about salvation? How are we saved? What are the signs that we are saved? How can we be sure we are saved.
In this article I am not going to offer you a simple answer. I am going to encourage you to begin to pour over scripture and develop a full and thorough understanding of God’s incredible gift of salvation. The Bible encourages us to ponder these things. In Philippians 2:12-13 we read:
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
We are told to “work out our own salvation”. This does not mean to work “for” our salvation, it means to figure it out, and we are to figure it out with “fear and trembling”. It is a weighty matter and many will be surprised on the day of Judgment to find that they did not get it right. We are told to figure it out for ourselves. It is great to have godly leaders and friends encourage us and guide us, but in the end you are accountable for getting it right.
In the next article we will begin to look at God as Savior and Love, and we will help guide you through scripture that presents a biblical account of salvation and Christ’s atoning sacrifice for us. At this point though, I hope we all clearly see God’s attributes of being KING, LORD, Lawgiver and Judge, and our incredible need to be in the Lamb’s book of life. I hope and pray that you will continue in this study and invest time in prayer and study to work out your own salvation, and make your election and calling sure.
In this series of articles we are examining the Biblical attributes of God. We are trying to set aside the popular cultural image of God and to develop a true and complete understanding of God as described in the Bible. We want to know Him, understand Him and make Him known.
Popular christianity paints a picture of a character that is at our beckon call, to address any concerns we have related to our circumstances, comfort and desires. We “receive” Christ, and then most put him in the trunk of the car, some put him in the passenger seat, but few put him in the driver’s seat. The issue is, we must understand that God is KING and LORD, and true saving faith is making Him KING and LORD of our lives. This means that we hand the car over to Him and let Him drive. We go where he drives. We follow Him, we do not take Him along with us. This concept is lost in most of the modern church. God is a tool we use to have a comfortable life and to reach our career, family, and personal goals. We can all have our Best Life Now, as one preacher teaches. The problem is that this is not the God of the Bible.
To understand God as KING and LORD, we need to study the picture of Him at His second coming. Please carefully and prayerfully read and study Revelation 19:11-21:
11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God,18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.”
19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
These verses present a picture of the Son of God that is rarely preached in churches any more. Yes, at His first coming He was a humble teacher, riding on a donkey, and yes He did come to save us from our sins, but the image at His second coming is a very different picture. Now would be a great time to make sure that you fully know Him, understand Him, and place your life under His LORDship and KINGship.
Notice that at His return, He is not on a donkey but on a horse, and it is a horse of war. Verse 11 tells us that the purpose of His second coming is that He comes to Judge and Make War. He returns as a Warrior and a Conquering King. The sky will split open, He will bolt through the tear on a mighty white horse, and the time of judgment, wrath, and slaughter will begin. You might be thinking now, “that is NOT the God I believe in”, but unfortunately it is the God of the Bible. He has been compassionate and merciful to hold back His wrath in the hopes that men will come to repentance and be saved, but there is a limit to that patience, and the day will come and is soon coming that He will no longer hold back His righteous judgments. Now is the time to come to terms with this returning King, but the terms are His terms. He expects total surrender of our lives to Him. We are to believe in the name of His son, Jesus Christ, and we are to obey and follow Him. Our life is no longer our life, it is His life. We are forgiven by repenting of our sins, believing on the name of Jesus Christ the Son of God, and if our belief is real, our lives will be changed. We will begin to love the things He loves, and hate the things He hates, and through His Holy Spirit our lives will begin to be conformed to His will and His image. But we must decide now to Believe in Him and to Follow Him.
Notice that in verse 13 we learn that He returns in a robe dipped in blood. I have heard countless times preachers teach that the blood is the blood of His sacrifice and is a reminder of His love, forgiveness and sacrifice on the cross. However, if we study our Bibles, we are actually told where the blood on His garments comes from. It is not His blood, it is the blood of His enemies, who He is slaughtering. The mystery of the blood stained garments is explained in Isaiah 63:1-6:
Who is this who comes from Edom, With dyed garments from Bozrah, This One who is glorious in His apparel, Traveling in the greatness of His strength?—
“I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
2 Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?
3 “I have trodden the winepress alone, And from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, And trampled them in My fury; Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, And I have stained all My robes. 4 For the day of vengeance is in My heart, And the year of My redeemed has come. 5 I looked, but there was no one to help, And I wondered That there was no one to uphold; Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; And My own fury, it sustained Me. 6 I have trodden down the peoples in My anger, Made them drunk in My fury, And brought down their strength to the earth.”
Verse 1 clearly identifies the subject of the text is Christ, who is the only one who speaks in righteousness and is mighty to save. So we know that the character referred to in these verses in Christ. Since the events in the verses did not happen at His first coming, we know that it must refer to His second coming. In verse three we see that He has trodden the winepress of His anger, that He has trampled His enemies, and the red on His garments is the blood of His enemies, whom He is destroying. This is not the popular image of Christ, it is not the Christ of facebook theology or popular Christian music and t-shirts, but it IS the Christ that is returning to Judge and Make war.
Now back to Revelation 9, we see in verse 15 that He is successful in militarily conquering the earth, and establishing Himself as King. When He returns, He does not wave a magic wand and make Himself King . . . He conquers the earth by waging war on His enemies on the earth. Then note in verse 15 after conquering the earth, He rules and reigns as King. Even after conquering the earth, it appears that there are still those who resist His Kingship, so He must at least initially “rule with an iron rod”.
We see that He establishes Himself as KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, and at that point He executes a great slaughter on the earth of His enemies.
Friends, we need to make sure we are on the right side of this thing. Christ is returning, and many who believe they are right with Him are not. On that day, many will say Lord, Lord, and he will tell them “away from me, you practicers of lawlessness, I never knew you”.
We are taught throughout scripture that getting right with God is a matter of believing the Gospel. Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He came to the earth to live the perfect life we could not live, and then offered His life as a sacrifice to purchase our forgiveness. The punishment that we deserved was put on Him, and by His wounds we were healed. Believe that after being crucified, He arose on the third day, demonstrating His power over satan, death, and the grave. Eternal life is a free gift, and is all about who He is and what He did. The gift we are offered is not deserved and is not earned.
If we believe, He will be faithful to complete the good work He has started in us. Over time, we will more and more reflect His attributes. Our fleshly self will begin to melt away, and more and more of His light will shine through us. Obedience is not the cause of our salvation, it will be the fruit of our salvation.
It was probably about the 1980’s that secular “marketing” experts began to move into the Christian church. These experts showed how through proper marketing, you can sell anything. If these secular techniques worked for selling cars and soap, they certainly should work to sell the “gospel”. Out of such thinking was born the “Seeker Sensitive” church and the “Purpose Driven” life.
At the start, these movements were not patently evil, just terribly misguided. The idea was, in effect, we want more people to “accept” Christ, and more people to “believe” the Bible. The church can get more people to “accept” Christ if we make Him more acceptable, and more people will “believe” the Bible if we make it more believable. We can help the process of accept and believe along if we basically tell people what they want to hear. We can “sell” the Gospel better if we describe a god of Love who expects nothing of us.
As a result of this we have ended up with a church that preaches an “acceptable” gospel that depends on the techniques and tricks of secular man instead of the Power of God and His Holy Spirit.
One of the outcomes of this secular gospel is that God is presented more as a cool dude, just like us, than the Righteous, Holy, Lawgiving, Judging, Returning KING of Kings and LORD of Lords. In effect we have lost any sense of fear and trembling as we consider Him. We have created a god in our own image, and our god expects little to nothing from us, and is always pleased with us.
To begin to develop a more Biblical view of God, there is no better place to start than Isaiah 6. Isaiah was a prophet, and one of the most Holy men who ever lived. Isaiah was unique in that he actually got to get a glimpse of God sitting on His thrown. It is one of only three places in the Bible where we get any type of description of the throne room of God. Please prayerfully read and consider Isaiah 6:
6 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”
4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 So I said:
“Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it,and said:
“Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.”
8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
“Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?”
Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
This chapter demonstrates the Holiness and Righteousness of God. Notice that God is surrounded by Seraphim, a special type of angel, that constantly encircle the throne and declare the Glory and Holiness of Him who sits upon the throne. The magnificence of the seraphim themselves is almost beyond comprehension, but notice that the glory of God is so great that even they can not look upon Him, but are given two special wings to cover their faces, so as to not look upon the King. The seraphim have voices that thunder, and shake the room, and the room is filled with smoke.
Next we should notice the response of Isaiah to the Holiness and Righteousness of God. He does not wander up to the throne and give God a high five. He does not go give the King of Glory a knuckle bump or a slap on the back. No, Isaiah falls to his knees in fear, trembling and repentance.
Over 300 times the Bible warns us to “fear” God. The modern church often teaches that this word, “fear” really means “respect”. My friend, we need to remember that God had full command of the language, and had he intended to convey the concept of “respect” He would have chosen that word. But He did not. He chose the word “fear”. While there are many facets of our relationship with God, it is important to remember that one aspect of our relationship wit Him is that we should fear Him. Certainly the response of Isaiah to the Holiness and Righteousness of God was one of fear and repentance.
Isaiah falls to his knees before the Lord, and in fear and trembling he is totally aware of his sin, and in complete brokenness he confesses his sins. He also confesses that God is both Lord and King.
Then we notice God’s response to Isaiah’s fear, trembling, repentance and confession. God does not tell Isaiah that he is wrong in his assessment of himself and the situation. He does not try and build Isaiah’s self esteem. He basically acknowledges Isaiah’s unworthiness, and in His mercy and sovereignty uniquely provides atonement for Isaiah via a coal from the alter, so that Isaiah is not consumed by being in the presence of a Holy God.
We know that our atonement comes through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Isaiah 6 occurred before the atoning sacrifice of Christ, but yet this verse gives us a glimpse of the redemptive model of God. Ask yourself what was the role of Isaiah and what was the role of God in this redemptive picture? Isaiah’s atonement did not stem from his worthiness, obedience, or righteousness. It was solely and completely a gift from God, based on God’s mercy and His sovereignty. It had nothing to do with Isaiah. For his part, Isaiah recognized, confessed and repented of his sinfulness and wickedness, and when the atonement was offered, he simply accepted it.
The next part of the picture is the response of Isaiah to his receiving the atonement. The Lord was looking for someone to deliver His message to His people, and Isaiah said “Here am I! Send me.”
The thing to notice is that Isaiah’s obedience did not lead to his forgiveness, it followed after. God provided atonement for Isaiah through the hot coal, and Isaiah’s response was then to follow and obey God.
The primary teaching of Isaiah 6 is to demonstrate the Holiness and Righteousness of God. However, in studying the text, God can also be seen as King, Judge, and Savior.
My prayer is that as you study and ponder Isaiah 6 you will come away with a renewed sense of the holiness and righteousness of God. That you will be careful to maintain an element of fear as you approach your Christian walk. That you will render to God the reverence demanded by His nature and His glory. My prayer is that you will never take lightly His magnificent nature, and that you would hold as precious His mighty name.
In this articles, I would like for us to begin a study on the Attributes of God. We all have beliefs on the nature of God, but we need to ensure that we are genuinely contemplating the God of the Bible, and not a god of our popular culture, the god of popular t-shirt slogans, or the god of our own creation.
Certainly, fully understanding the attributes of God is a large undertaking. One could spend a lifetime of study, and yet still not fully grasp His awesome power and majesty. However, even though we might not fully comprehend His splendor, it seems a good pursuit to endeavor to each day understand Him better.
We are given two magnificent tools to understand the attributes of God, and they work together, hand in hand. We are given His Word, the Holy Bible, and we are given His Holy Spirit. We need both to understand Him. If we contemplate and study His Word, we can draw on His Holy Spirit to guide us in a more perfect understanding of who He is. The Word and the Spirit work together.
One could start in Genesis, and then read the Bible cover-to-cover and make a list of all the attributes of God. I could give you that long list, but I think it is more beneficial to begin to uncover that list by looking at two verses that reveal to us key aspects of God’s character. We will begin by looking at Jeremiah 9:23-24 and Isaiah 33:22. We will then make a starting list of attributes from these two verses, and then in following articles, we will examine more in depth each of the attributes by cross referencing many other Biblical texts.
We will begin our study in Jeremiah 9:23-24:
23 Thus says the Lord:
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.
Note that in the opening lines of this passage, we are told that we are not to glory in our wisdom, might (power) or riches. I think it is wise for each of us to ponder this instruction. If I were honest, I would have to say that I spent my youth in pursuit of wisdom, fame, fortune and power. I always sought the spotlight, more money, more fame and more powerful positions. Eventually I realized the emptiness and shallowness of these pursuits. The more I achieved these goals, the more empty I was left.
Then one day my heart was changed. My passion became to begin to pursue the things of God instead of the things of the world. It was at this point that I truly found peace in my life.
The beauty of this verse is that it instructs us not just in the things NOT to pursue, but tells us what our passion should be . . . “But let him who glories, glory in this, That he understands and know Me”.
The passion of our lives should be to Know God and Understand God.
This passage then goes on to give us a starting point in knowing and understanding God by listing some of His attributes. We can see that God is LORD, God is Love, God is Righteous, and God is Judge.
We can further learn of the attributes of God from Isaiah 33:22, which says:
22 For the Lord is our judge,
the Lord is our lawgiver,
the Lord is our king;
he will save us.
In this passage we see that God is Lord, Judge, Lawgiver, King and our Savior.
So, with these two verses we have a pretty good start on studying some key attributes of God.
God is Lord
God is King
God is Lawgiver
God is Judge
God is Righteous and Holy
God is Love
God is our Savior
In our popular culture, we have unfortunately chosen to contemplate only two of the attributes of God, God as love and savior. Unfortunately, a focus on only two of His characteristics can lead to serious error, and in fact can create an image of God that might lose the power to save. When we only believe in a god of love and that saves, we are left free to live our lives on our own terms. A god of love is a god that accepts our choices. We make the rules, we live life on our own terms, and god will love, bless and save us. All we have to do is believe in this god we have created, and then he loves and saves us. This indeed is a very attractive thing to believe, but unfortunately, it is not the God of the Bible.
As we begin to get into this study, what I hope you will come to realize is that we can not genuinely understand God as love and God as savior until we first learn just how much trouble we are in. We must first learn of God as Righteous, Holy, King, Lawgiver, and Judge, and only then can we genuinely understand and know the full measure of His love and the magnificent and awesome nature of his Saving Atonement.
This is an analogy I will give. Consider a stoplight. It has three attributes. It can be red, it can be yellow or it can be green. Imagine as you go about your day, you see people always talking about the stop light . . . “The Stoplight is Green”, “Green means Go”, “Go, Go, Go, the stoplight is always green!”. This description of a stoplight is not wrong, it is just incomplete, and this incomplete understanding of a stoplight can lead to deadly consequences. The light is not always green and not understanding that could lead you into a deadly collision.
Similarly with God. Yes God is love. But He is also King, Lawgiver and Judge. Failure to understand these could leave you missing out on the attribute you desire . . . His love.
Since most people grasp the “love” attribute of God already, in this series, I will begin by examining the attributes we tend to ignore. Then as we develop an understanding of God as King, Lawgiver and Judge, then we can more fully appreciate His attributes of Love and Savior.
If you have read the first 5 parts of this series, hopefully you are beginning to see how difficult it is to try and create a scriptural basis for the pretribulation rapture theory. Simply stated, the Bible over and over gives specific timing on the return of Christ and His gathering together of the saints. Every time, the Bible is clear that it is AFTER the tribulation.
We can gain even more confirmation on the timing of the “rapture” by study of 2 Thes 1:3-10.
3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe,because our testimony among you was believed.
To understand this verse we need to consider some important Biblical context. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and rested on the seventh. Then when Moses was given the law, the faithful were to work for six days, and then rest on the seventh. This seventh day of rest was a picture of the thousand year millennial kingdom on earth, when Christ visibly reigns as KING of kings and LORD of lords, and the earth is restored to the state God had originally intended. As believers, our blessed hope is to one day enter that rest, that thousand year millennial kingdom.
So, with that context, notice the timing of events in 2 Thes 1:3-10. Notice in the bolded text . . . When do believers escape their troubles and enter the rest of the Lord? Clearly they enter the rest when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His Mighty Angels to bring vengeance on the wicked. Clearly, it is Christ’s second coming when He reveals himself and takes vengeance on the wicked. We see that it is at this point that believers enter His rest. If this is the case, how could they have been raptured seven years earlier. If they had been raptured seven years earlier, would they have not entered his rest and escaped trouble then? The verse is crystal clear, we are delivered from our troubles and enter His rest at the end of the tribulation when Christ returns to bring vengeance on the world.
I had the chance today to watch the new Christian movie, Return to the Hiding Place today, and wanted to write a quick review of it. The movie is about the work of Corrie Ten Boom and the underground resistance in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation in World War II. Corrie was a watch maker, and used her shop and home to hide jews and help them escape the Nazis. She was helped by an underground railroad organized by college students who were an important part of the resistance. I believe Corrie Ten Boom to be one of the great pillars of Christianity, so was eager to watch this movie.
What I liked about the movie is that it presents a more accurate picture of the Christian experience than most of the recent popular Christian movies. The theme of so many of these movies is a rather simple presentation of a very complex truth. In most movies, God ends up intervening to provide the desired circumstances for the obedient Christian. In reality, sometimes the obedient Christian is Martyred. In the end we win, but God does allow us to face trials. He is sovereign and He does not always heal us, and He does not always spare our lives. He does, however, always give us the strength we need to face the trial. I would put it this way. He does not always remove us from the fire, but He is always with us in the fire. What I liked about this movie, Return to the Hiding Place, is that it shows this truth. Some of the characters in the movie who risk their lives to stand firm in their obedience to God and in serving Him by saving the Jews do pay the ultimate price and are killed for their work. The movie does brilliantly capture their bravery, peace, and steadfastness as they faced the punishment for their “crimes” against the Nazis. The message of the movie is that as Christians we may lose the battles, but we will always win the war in that we receive eternal rewards.
What I did not like so much about this movie is that I got the impression that they were trying to make the movie acceptable to a broader secular audience by not more clearly showing that the people in the movie were overtly Christian, and the foundation of the work they were doing was based on their faith in Jesus Christ. I might be mistaken, but I never remember the words “Jesus” or “Christ” being used in the movie. In several places maybe there was a veiled reference to “Him”, but not so much as to offend a non believing audience. So, I give them pretty low marks for not more clearly presenting the importance of the characters Christian Faith in the brave stands they were taking in fighting the Nazis.
Bottom line is I do recommend you see the movie. I enjoyed watching it and I do plan on buying the DVD.
I almost titled this post, “There is a Verse for That!”, because almost any point we want to make we can find a verse that will support that point, if . . . and this is a big if, the passage is taken out of context. Want to show that God always wants to heal you . . . there is a verse for that. Want to show that God wants you to be rich . . . there is a verse for that. Want to show that God wants you to never face trials . . . there is a verse for that. You get the idea. By taking small passages, and presenting them out of context, you can prove almost anything. It is a favorite technique of Christian T-shirt vendors, and a mainstay of facebook theology.
In order to illustrate this point, lets look at perhaps the most misused scripture in all the Bible. This would be Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (New King James Version, NKJV)
Wow, what an encouraging verse. God wants all believers always to have nothing but peace and hope and a bright future.
Now the next trick that is used is to look at all the different Bible translations, and pick the most optimistic of all the different translations. In the case of Jeremiah 29:11 we can even wring out a better promise if we use the NIV, which reads:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
BAM! We now have a Biblical basis for the prosperity Gospel. Don’t you see . . . God wants to prosper us and make us rich!
Now lets pause and break it down and study it more carefully in context. You can start the process by reading the entire chapter of Jeremiah 29. What we find is that God’s chosen people, the Jews had for a very long time been living in rebellion to God. God had sent many prophets to warn and correct them, but they had all been ignored. As their disobedience grew worse and worse, God finally decided to pour out his judgment on the nation of Israel. He did this by sending the Babylonian army to destroy Jerusalem. Many died horrible deaths during the siege, and then afterwards, most of them were slaughtered by the Babylonian army. A small remnant was sent into slavery to Babylon. He promised through the prophets that they would be in captivity 70 years. Now, after all this judgment on His people, He gave them a word of encouragement. If they would seek Him with all their hearts, He would return to them.
So, the conclusion from the chapter is NOT that God will always give all His people peace and hope and a bright future under all circumstances. The message is that He holds His people accountable, and does reach the point that He disciplines them, and that discipline can be quiet painful.
So a really important point is that we should never conclude anything from a verse without first reading the whole chapter. A second point is that the next step is to consider the topic of the chapter, and then read the entire Bible to see how God deals in the broader sense with the topic at hand. In this case, on the topic of God correcting His chosen children, we can see throughout the Old Testament and New Testament that He calls His children to Obedience, Righteousness, and Holiness. That He will Rebuke, Chastise and Punish those He loves for their refinement and purification. Even more broadly we learn that God, in His Sovereignty will allow trials and persecution to come to those He loves simply so His strength and His Glory can be shown through the Believers trial.
I am not trying to paint a mean picture of God. I am just trying to show that the attributes of God, and how He deals with His children is much more complex than He is always concerned that our circumstances are pleasant. If we believe that, then we are not equipped to properly interpret hard times that will come into all of our lives.
The first four parts of this series of articles point out significant scriptural problems with creating a Pretribulation “Rapture”. We can see when verses are read in context there is no way to create a coherent, consistent interpretation that will allow for two second comings of Christ. As pointed out in PART 4, this theory requires us to do much damage to scripture, and in effect, read into scripture things that are not there. For those who choose to believe the pretribulation rapture theory, they can find it in the most amazing places in scripture, yet they can not provide a single clear verse that indicates that Christ will return for believers before the tribulation. In effect, if you want to believe it, you can find it everywhere, even when it is not really taught anywhere. Quiet to the contrary, throughout the Gospels and the New Testament, we are taught that believers should expect Tribulation, Persecution, Hatred, and Martyrdom for their faith. We are told that any who would seek to live a Godly life will face persecution. The era of relative peace and tranquility believers in the west have experienced in the last two hundred years is a result of God’s Sovereign Mercy, not God’s promises. It is the exception, not the rule. Our brothers and sisters in Christ this very day are being martyred across the Middle East and Africa. Again, I must ask, where is their “rapture”. Is it only those of us in the West that God will rescue from persecution?
In this series, I have tried hard to focus on scripture, clearly presented and without interpretation. I have tried to simply let the scriptures clearly speak for themselves. I believe that we can continue to gain insight from scripture if we read two of the prayers of Jesus. The first is the Lord’s prayer, as found in Matthew 6:9-13
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Notice that Christ instruction to believers is that we should pray for His Kingdom to Come. His Kingdom comes to us at his Second Coming. He does not tell us to pray that God takes us out of the world but that He would return and bring the Kingdom to us. If we believe in a pretribulation rapture we must ponder why Jesus continues to NOT mention it. For further support of the assertion that Christ did not teach that we would be removed from the world, we should look at John 17:14-15. Notice than in the context of hatred and persecution of Christians, Christ’s prayer to the father is that He WOULD NOT take them out of the world but protect them in the world.
14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.15I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
So if the specific prayer of Jesus Christ to the Father is that the Father would leave believers in the world when they are hated by the world, how could we possibly believe that there is this secret deal that Christ never mentions that Christians will be taken out of the world to protect them from persecution? I feel like I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but friend, the pre tribulation rapture is simply not in scripture and can not be defended scripturally. It is a huge money maker for those who write books and make movies, but it is not scriptural.
Certainly there are many mistakes in doctrine and many false teachings out there, so why have I spent so much time on this one? The answer is because it is one of the most dangerous. To believe we will never face persecution, tribulation, and martyrdom is to be spiritually unprepared when they happen. Many Christians throughout history and throughout the world today are being forced to choose between their faith and their life. Would you be ready if you had to face that choice? Friends, you can not deny Christ to save your life. This is not one of those things you do, and then repent of later. We must realize that as Christians we are called on to stand firm in the faith, even to the point of death.
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