Proclaiming a Message of Good News and Hope to our generation!

Tag: apocalypse

Light of the World!

Dedication

This book is dedicated to anyone who hungers for a greater sense of purpose in life. It seeks to inspire us all to cast off our human limitations and to believe that all things are possible with God. The “all things” we refer to are not foolish and vain possibilities but all things that pertain to the Kingdom of God as taught in the Holy Scriptures. If your desire to move forward and prosper in life by faith has hit a proverbial brick wall, I urge you to refrain from giving up. There is a drive, a fire within you that should not be quenched, but perhaps redirected.

This might sound like a cliche, but it is true: God has a purpose for you in this life. In this purpose you are invincible through Him. It is my hope that a fresh look at God’s glorious Kingdom purposes for this earth will widen your horizon and open your eyes to the significance of your role in them. At this point I must warn you. Some of the limitations we face are actually our own beliefs about God and His purposes. As many of our biblical heroes before us, we must be willing to allow God to change our points of view in certain areas. we are to be continually transformed by the renewing of our minds, “so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good, and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)

Even if a hunger for a greater sense of purpose is not very strong in you, perhaps we could at least encourage you in acquiring a greater desire for God in the Person of Jesus Christ. That is certainly a worthy goal and something in which we should all be fulfilled and blessed. That kind of encouragement would be counted as success from my point of view!

Introduction

Over two thousand years ago, the Son of God appeared to the residents of an insignificant country as the son of a carpenter from an insignificant city. He gathered men and women from various professions and recruited them in His mission of heralding the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. They understood that He was calling them to make great sacrifices, yet it is doubtful they realized how difficult their future would actually be.

In the end they received the courage to follow Him. That courage is greatly responsible for the fact that His Name is known yet today. With the help of God and the power of the Holy Spirit moving in them and in the people they met, they testified in an amazing way that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and Lord of all, as witnesses to His resurrection!

Now the centuries have passed, and the knowledge of Jesus and His story has gone around the world. That knowledge has impacted governments and cultures in ways that cannot fully be measured. Some have misused and abused this knowledge. Others have seen the benefits of His life and message.

In this 21st Century, many are concerned about their future and the future of society in general. Jealousy, envy, rage, war, racial tensions, sexual immorality, drug addiction, murder and crime seem to be on the increase. Faith in Christ, at least statically speaking seems to be decreasing. How should we respond to the many crisis we are facing today?

This book seeks to challenge believers in Christ to greater faith, vision and courage. As a natural born coward myself, I know our only hope is in seeking the source of greater faith, vision and courage — Jesus Christ Himself. I believe by seeking Him, we will also recover a greater, deeper understanding of His message, His mission, and and the hope that it will bring. That message is the Good News of the Kingdom of God! It is a message that is very relevant to the issues of every age!

Thankfully we live in a time when more people are seeking to understand what Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God. In this book I will earnestly try to incorporate what I have learned over many years from others and from my own study about the kingdom of God which I believe will embolden your testimony for Christ. Christians in many parts of this modern world are being ignored, ridiculed and often persecuted for their beliefs. Some of this might be their own fault, of course, but Christ Himself warned that we would face opposition for His sake. The many kinds of opposition are not all going to be detailed here, but the basic and fundamental elements of our struggle will be recognized.

The goal here is victorious faith in Christ, the very kind of faith that was seen in the first Christians! Have you ever wondered how they endured persecution and torture for their faith, when most of us recoil from the slightest insult? Have you considered how our petty squabbles among ourselves as believers can work against an effective witness for Christ to the world? Or how about this? Have you ever had the nagging feeling that you were created for more than mere existence? Most of us believe that there is a glorious future in eternity with Christ, but what about our lives today? Can they have more meaning and purpose and bring more glory to God right here on earth? Isn’t that how Jesus taught us to pray, for the will of God to be done on earth as it is done in heaven?

Writing this book is part of what I need to do in response to my concerns in these days for my family, my city, my country, our world, but mostly in response to my Lord Jesus Christ, who called me to Himself and revealed His glorious Kingdom to me. It is the result of my lifes work, my legacy, which I pray will come to the benefit of as many as possible!

Therefor I invite you the reader to listen for the voice of the Lord as you continue in these pages. He just might use them to give you a greater revelation of Him, His kingdom, His love, His power and His purpose for us all!

Chapter One: Are You Ready For An Adventure?

This universe in which we live is fundamentally one of order. What we call the laws of physics are basically that – laws that are constant and unchangeable. One plus one will always equal two. The moon revolves around our earth, and the earth revolves around our sun to produce days, months and years that help us to mark time and seasons. Those regular patterns are important to us and help to produce stability so that life can continue here.

On the other hand there is much room for diversity and even chaos! This universe is amazing and infinitely complex. We human beings are an integral part of that order, that complexity, that diversity and even the chaos! In all this we sense the need for security, and predictability. Sometimes in our search for security and comfort we neglect another of our basic needs. I believe we also need challenges, excitement and adventure! How else can we explain the thrill of an amusement park and a ride on a roller coaster? Why do we very often pay hard earned money on opportunities to needlessly risk our lives or at least the risk of injury? Of course there are a number of safer ways for getting the heart pumping and an adrenaline rush. Many of us like watching others appearing to be in danger on a big movie screen, or watching our favorite athletes in the sports arena. The popularity of these kinds of entertainment seem to prove my point that we do indeed crave excitement.

In my humble opinion these are all cheap substitutes for seeing life itself as an adventure, a quest with a purpose. As we gain a greater understanding of the kingdom of God and our place in it, even the ordinary, repetitive activities of every day can have richness of purpose and meaning. When Jesus, the son of a simple craftsman and laborer began His career as an itinerant preacher, many hours and even days were filled with the ordinary matters of moving from place to place. Other times were intense and dramatic. All of it was energized by His sense of purpose, that same sense of purpose that He passed down to His followers, which in turn has propelled His church forward unto this day.

If you are all like me, you might have found yourself at times wondering about your purpose. Maybe you have wondered about what we are doing in the church? Are we simply doing what we do because we have always done it that way? Have some of our churches and our leaders lost that sense of purpose that was given to us by Jesus? When we read and study the bible to learn about God’s will for us are we reading it through the lens of our current traditions and culture, or are we reading it to hear what the Holy Spirit would teach us? These are things that you and I must work out between ourselves and God, but at the same time we can help each other, learn together and challenge one another in it.

Not all of us feel the need for excitement or adventure. Sometimes life itself provides all the challenges we can handle. We look for times of peace and tranquility. we come to a typical Sunday church service looking for comfort and encouragement. we go to great lengths to find ways of getting our minds off of our troubles. At this point I would really like to share a personal experience of mine. Many years ago I had come to a place of great despair. The thought of ending it all actually crossed my mind. Thankfully that thought was wiped away by the realization of the many people who loved me and my child who depended upon me. The fact that I was taught from my early years by my mother and others in my life about God and the bible had to be the most important factor that kept me going. One night while I was all alone in my home after putting the baby to bed, I began to cry out to God with all my heart.

When I began to realize how He continued to love me and to send wonderful, godly people into my life after all the years of resisting Him, I finally broke down. He was there all the time, just waiting for me to return to Him. That was my moment of total surrender, even greater than when I first gave my life to Him. The result was the lifting of that heavy load of guilt, worry and fear that I had been carrying for so long. The following morning the world seemed so bright and new! Even though my problems had not left me, I was lifted above them somehow! To this day I cannot put it into words. Back then but I tried to tell others about it immediately. Eventually I was able to talk with others who knew exactly what I was experiencing. Perfect words with them were not necessary. Since then I have met with people in many other parts of the world who also immediately understand me when I try speak about it. They too have had encounters with the Living God!

What came next is so important. I mentioned I was already a Christian. In fact I was saved and baptized at the age of 12. At this time I was about 21. For this entire time my devotion to Christ was up and down, hot and cold. It was many times a struggle for me to maintain a consistent testimony. I would see other young men who were bold in their faith, and envied them. Being backward and shy by nature did not help. Now that I had this powerful experience I began to understand where this boldness came from for them. I knew they had an experience, but I also knew that their knowledge of the Bible had a part in it. So I took up my bible and started to read in the first book of the New testament, Matthew.

The first thing that jumped out to me in Matthew’s Gospel was the preaching of John the baptizer. He claimed that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand! In a later chapter I read that Jesus also began preaching the same. I immediately thought: if the Kingdom of heaven was near to them then, how close could it be to us today, two thousand years later? I began to wonder if what I was now experiencing could be a taste of that very Kingdom! When I began to ask other more mature believers about this, I was amazed to learn that I was correct! In fact, they were able to show me even more evidence in the scripture that the Kingdom of God was already here for us who had experienced this righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit of God! (Romans 14:17)

Of course that was only the beginning of this adventure for me. I would have many more questions, and gain answers in time, but I am still not finished with my story. As I said, my problems were still with me. I was overwhelmed at the time, and felt helpless to do anything about them. What I needed was direction from God. I found this as I continued to read in the Gospel According To Matthew. When I came to chapter 6 I knew verses 25 through 34 were speaking directly to me. I had been worrying not only about my physical needs of food, shelter and clothing, but about the future in general. To Jesus, this did not make sense since I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and cares for me. How could I get a handle on this? what could I do to get my mind focused in the right direction?

The most powerful instruction I had ever received, which has guided me for the rest of my life was found in these words: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) While I had spent so much of my energy worrying and stressing over my problems, now I would change my focus. I would put my pursuit of God’s will, His ways, His Kingdom first above all other things. It seemed a bit risky at first. But what did I have to lose? My methods have failed me, trying to work things out on my own for years. Could I really trust in God that he would provide what I needed if I pursued His Kingdom first?

What followed was just too amazing. In a matter of months, my health improved, my financial situation began to improve, I found myself among a wonderful group of worshippers and had a new job working for a minister who taught me the bible every day as we worked together. The first steps for me were to return to my former church, to pray everyday, to read the bible and Christian writings everyday and to fast regularly. As I began to grow spiritually, the Holy spirit would teach me and lead me in other areas of His will for me. I have continued on this path to this day.

Going on 50 years later, I continue to be challenged by God to keep moving forward in Him. When things begin to get easier, or the road gets smoother, we can rest a while. However if we get too comfortable, that sense of adventure can diminish. Along with that our joy and passion for Him can fade and the worries of this life begin to take over again. No, it’s life right now, in the Kingdom of God for me. How about you?

Through Much Tribulation!

First the Kingdom Part 37, Through Much Tribulation

Each one of us has areas of concern that are common as well as those that differ from the other. Sometimes they lead us to believe we are right and the other person is wrong when at times 2 views can be actually 2 sides of the same coin. My particular focus has for a long time been with history in mind. Because I have a general knowledge of the history before my time, I can see how things have improved in the world more than we realize.

At the same time my generation has clearly seen a steady loss of basic virtues in our culture and in the people who are shaped by it. The causes of this might appear to be many and complicated. Those who study the social sciences more than I have can look at how technology has affected us. Others, like myself tend to look at the failure of leadership in the church, and the lack of sincerity found in the the people themselves. We see at the heart of every problem a spiritual battle, and tend to focus on spiritual solutions.

At the time I am preparing this teaching, my home nation is in a great struggle. Two perspectives that existed in balance from the beginning of our political existence are now in an ideological war with one another. Some fear that it will evolve into more than that very soon. As I approach my 70th birthday I have to admit, that to me the thought of a full civil war sounds absolutely terrifying. It is a thought that I had never expected to come to mind in all my years.

Maybe I am being naive, but I still have hopes that things can be turned around, and that our country can be spared such a future. I also believe that the church of Jesus Christ could play a powerful role in a positive outcome. In my study of history I have found that war is not always avoidable, but I have also found that faith in our all-powerful God can motivate us to accomplish great things for His glory. Revivals have come to cities, counties, and countries in the past. By revivals I mean times when the Holy Spirit sweeps over hundreds and thousands to change hearts and minds for the better. Society itself can become inspired and transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit working with and through God’s people.

As the general culture in the media and in the educational world has increasingly turned against biblical Christianity, believers have risen up to defend the faith in many arenas. In the past few years and even more so in the past months the political arena has been the focus of many Christians. There is no doubt that attention needs to be given to what happens in our government and I have tried to follow events as best as I can. It would be shameful for any follower of Christ to ignore the opportunities He has afforded us here. I bless those who are called to focus on this arena and pray for them as well.

My only question is this: how is that been working out? Are more people coming to know Christ? Are more people learning the teachings of Christ and His Kingdom? Are believers themselves becoming better examples and “shining as lights in the world?” Has the environment around us become better than before as a result of these efforts?

The Chinese philosopher Confucius is said to have made this statement:

“If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nations.
When there is order in the nations, there will peace in the world.”

In the 1960’s rock song, “Easy To Be Hard,” these words were expressed:

“How can people be so heartless?
How can people be so cruel?
Easy to be hard,
Easy to be cold.

How can people have no feelings?
How can they ignore their friends?
Easy to be proud,
Easy to say no

And especially people,
Who care about strangers,
Who care about evil,
And social injustice.
Do you only
Care about the bleeding crowd?
How about a needing friend?
I need a friend.”

In history I have learned of great leaders who stood for Christ in the political arena. I have also learned of Christian preachers who spoke out against the injustices occurring in their day. I am in no way promoting a passive position when it comes to conditions in this world. I am not one of those people who see any effort to improve the lives of their fellow humans as a fools mission. I greatly resist the pessimistic message of some who believe these efforts are like “polishing the brass on a sinking ship,” or “making the world a better place to go to hell from.”

At the same time I want to address what I see as an “either/or” fallacy. Among Christians I am becoming weary of the faith vs works argument, when both are important. More recently we are debating between personal and corporate responsibility. Confucius started with the individual, and believed that the world could be ultimately changed. The song I referenced mourned the fact that during the sixties some were concerned for strangers, but neglected those who were near to them. Why can’t we have both compassion for those we know, and also reach out to those we don’t know? why can’t we have faith in God AND good works that will help others?

A war is already on and it has been going on from the beginning of the human race. In fact it is an internal struggle within every heart. Too many times this spiritual war has found expression also in families, neighborhoods, cities, and nations. Every area in which this struggle rages must be addressed. Jesus and all the prophets before Him were aware of the need to face this fact. They addressed individual sin, as well as national sin. So we are not insisting on choosing between either individual or collective issues. But we are insisting on dealing with the root problem that lies at the bottom of all.

That is why Jesus began with repentance and faith, a new birth in the Spirit. The foundation for the new world he was bringing to pass was a new humanity. This new humanity was to light the way to a better world. At the time, the early followers of Christ had almost no political power, and yet their message spread like wildfire! It was a matter of time until the Roman authorities began to crack down on Christianity. Many were tortured and forced to deny Christ. Others endured and survived, others were martyred.

The courage that unbelievers saw in the Christians and the evil actions of their persecutors had an impact on them over time. The stone that Daniel saw in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream had been rolling over and crushing the power of an oppressive regime! The tide of public opinion began to turn towards the believers and in fact large numbers joined them in the faith. The persecution ended in early in the Fourth Century and many improvements in the culture began to take place. This of course was not the final battle between the darkness and the light, but we can take great encouragement and learn from this example.

So how can modern Christians in free countries apply these lessons? I have thought about this question as have most of us. Paul defended his right to a trial as a Roman citizen and it makes sense that we should use legal means to protect our rights to worship as well. However, the same laws that protect our right to worship also must protect the beliefs of others. Those involved in the courts and in government have the opportunity to voice what they believe are God’s righteous and fair ways, while the rest us of have a voice in our families, neighborhoods, schools and churches. Paul urged meekness and humility in our attempts to encourage others to follow Christ.

Rude, obnoxious attitudes, and exaggerations of the truth might draw a large audience on social media, but I cannot see it changing any minds. In fact I only see increased hardness against the Christian perspective resulting from this approach. We are to give a reason for what we belief with meekness and respect.

1 Peter 3:13-18:

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
(NIV)

No one will want to know what we believe if we are too busy convincing them that we are their enemies. And even if they are our enemies, what did Christ say for us to do to them? Love them! Pray for them and bless them! Do good for them! Why? That you might prove to be sons of your Father in heaven, who causes His sun to shine and rain to fall on the just and the unjust! (Matthew 5:44-45).

It is often necessary to expose the evil plans, purposes and actions of others, for the sake of those who are being oppressed by them. However, God has shown us that first we must check our own hearts. Without His grace we are just as capable of evil and selfish actions.

The Kingdom of God is realm of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. We cannot have true peace and joy without His righteousness. That word implies fairness and equity based upon the truth. What I am calling for is a commitment to honesty and the truth. I love our country as much as anyone else, and want to see God bless us — not because we think we are better, but because we honor Him in our thoughts and actions. If God would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah for 10 righteous men, certainly He can spare America through the intercessory prayers of millions who believe in Him!

In Acts, after preaching in new areas, Barnabas and Paul returned to several cities, “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ” Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:21-23 NASU) It is difficult to read through a significant portion of the New Testament without learning of the many hardships the early believers endured in their pursuit of God’s Kingdom. This might sound like a “negative confession” to some, but don’t they know that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us?” (Romans 8:18)

So how well have our earthly, political weapons served us? May we be encouraged by these additional words of Paul:

2 Corinthians 10:3-4:

For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons.

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds,
(AMP)

The real power is in obeying Christ. The real power is in His love. The real power is in humbling ourselves as he did and serving others out of genuine compassion. The real power is in praying for all people, including our enemies. In this way we truly shine as lights in the darkness of this world!

 

 

 

Coming in Power!

First the Kingdom part 17, Coming in Power.

From the beginning of our discussions concerning the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven, We have tried to bring a back a balance which constitutes a major change in perspective for some. For many years I was taught that the Kingdom of God only belonged to the future. For the most part I heard about the experience believers would have in heaven with Christ after they die. In other times I was told about His eminent return to judge the world and to set up His Kingdom then. I was told nothing about the presence of the Kingdom of God in the earth now.

Please do not misunderstand me. While I have made a serious effort to show from the scriptures that Jesus Christ has already begun His reign in many, we do not discount the many passages in scripture which point to a grand and glorious future in the Kingdom. In both the old and new testaments we find many places that speak of indescribable power, glory, peace and joy to be experienced here on earth as well as in eternity. To claim all such events as in the past or present is to weaken the very force of the language and weaken the very hope that God has placed within our hearts! It is even difficult for me to understand how anyone who has truly spent any time in the presence of Christ could possibly be satisfied with the present state of humanity! We of all people must know that He would not be satisfied!

Let me tell you now that while all of the encouragement and joy I have in the present comes only from the presence of Christ in my life, much of that comes from what He has revealed to me by His Spirit about our future in the Kingdom of God! The difference in how I have come to understand it all today is that you and I have a part now in the Kingdom as that future unfolds!

Christ has come in power already many times. First He demonstrated His power over sickness, disease, and even nature. Finally He submitted to the judgment of evil men for the glory of God and to atone for our sins. In glorious power He returned from death in a resurrected body, and gathered his followers to confirm His Lordship in them.

After that He promised that they would receive power after the Holy Spirit had come upon them, and that by His power they would witness of Him throughout the world! In Luke’s record in Acts, we see that promised power in action, bringing thousands into the Kingdom of God.

The Holy Spirit has always been with us since that time, and has often expressed that same power through His church in marvelous ways throughout history. Those of us who truly know our own weaknesses also know how dependent we are upon His sweet presence and mighty power to live as effective witnesses for Him!

Like immortal words of the great entertainer, Al Jolson, who said “You ain’t heard nothing yet!” concerning the glory of Christ we can say, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

The Spirit of God in His prophets have given us a few small snapshots of what is in store for those who love Him. From these and the witness of the Holy Spirit in us we can actually be “caught up,” as the apostles Paul and John were to see the future even clearer!

1 Corinthians 2:9-10:

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
NKJV

Perhaps you have seen some strange things coming from people who believe the Holy Spirit is leading them. I hope that does not cause you to shrink back from considering what the Spirit of God might teach you as it lines up with the apostles and prophets of Christ when He was certainly leading them! Consider the more abundant life that Christ said He came to give you! That is one with victory in your life today and even hope for untold millions of others on this planet! God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance!

There is a great and wondrous mystery surrounding the future coming of Christ to the world. In all honesty I cannot comprehend it! There are aspects that in the Bible seem absolutely terrifying! And yet every true believer and lover of Christ has this tremendous longing for His full and final appearing. Even today we recognize that He has appeared to us in some form, and that very appearance has changed us. From the Word of God we know that our transformation is ongoing and that we can continue to experience Him progressively. However from the Word we also know that there is a change coming that will eclipse anything that anyone in the history of the world has ever seen.

It thrills me to think about it! It also thrills me to know that we are not simply waiting for some great event in the future. We are tasting the powers of the age to come now, and we get to participate it it today! Eventually I want to talk more in detail about that participation. For now I hope we can simply revel in the knowledge that the Creator and master of every single atom and molecule in this entire universe has a wonderful purpose and destiny in mind for us all. The vision of that purpose can become brighter and brighter each day as we move toward it with each step.

At the end of the journey our Lord Jesus Christ awaits for a meeting with each of us face to face. At the end of history every eye shall see Him! His reward to those who love Him and faithfully serve Him is that final transformation. When we see Him as He is, we become like Him! When He finally and fully appears, we get to appear with Him in glory! Then the groaning of the physical creation will end. When God’s sons and daughters come to the measure of the stature of His fullness, when they are fully conformed to His image and are finally revealed, then the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of death and corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God!

My hope is that our hearts and minds can be filled with the vision of His glory today, but also that such a vision will empower us to fulfill His will for us. Yes there is a future ahead that is beyond words to describe it. That future begins now, as we continue to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. We may not even understand all of what that means to us at the moment, but He will reveal all in His time.

For now we can cry out with our brother John in the Revelation, “Even so come Lord Jesus!”

The End of the World?


First the Kingdom, Part 14, The End of the World?

Have you ever heard people say that the Bible contradicts itself? This was a statement that I often heard growing up by those who disliked what the Bible had to say about them! I am forever grateful to God that my mother, her family and her friends had a different view. When I was young I worked with an uncle who knew and loved God and who also loved the Scriptures. He studied the Bible every day and took special interest in the passages that people thought were contradictory. From him I learned the true meaning of many passages and realized that the same Holy Spirit Who inspired every part could not contradict Himself!

Many wonderful and godly individuals over the centuries have also believed that the Bible has a unified message. They have taken the time and resources they had to see how each passage and teaching would fit together into the whole picture. It was Paul who said he had not shunned to declare unto the people the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:27). He had special insights that even his fellow apostle Peter found difficult to understand! (2 Peter 3:16)

Not everyone has the patience or the willingness to learn about the whole counsel of God. It is easy to find a passage that excites us and to ignore others that might bring better balance to our understanding.

For the past 150 years or so, Christians have become more concerned that we are living in the “Last Days” that were spoken of in the Bible. We are more aware of natural disasters, crime, injustice and wars than ever before, due to advances in communication. This can heighten our anxiety and concern for the future and seem to confirm that we are coming to the end of time. But allow me to let you in on a secret. This is nothing new. Many times over the last 2,000 years people have thought the end is near! There have been many great wars, earthquakes, famines, and plagues that have wiped out major populations in the distant past.

There is reason to believe that the Coming of Christ is near, but that can mean different things to different people. In keeping with the belief that the Bible does not contradict itself, I would like to present a different view than what you might have heard about the end. In my previous messages I have not taken a verse here and there, but have shown the consistent goal of God from the beginning. In the midst of judgments and corrections He has continued to demonstrate His love for His creation and his plan to rule it in righteousness, peace and joy through His Son Who gave His life as a sacrifice.

The work of our adversary the devil has tested those who believe in and follow God, but the testing only serves to strengthen us in the end. The forward movement of the Kingdom of God in the earth through men like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, the prophets of the Old and the apostles of the New Testament have resulted in the Gospel and its influence spreading throughout the world today. The bold confession of every born-again Christian is that Jesus Christ is Lord — right now and always!

Jesus and the prophets and apostles have shown us a glorious future in the Kingdom of God. Every Christian is told to pray the Kingdom to come and for God’s will to be done in earth as in heaven. But are these prayers destined to fail? According to some views of Bible prophecy it would seem so. Every view of the end of times is based upon certain passages of scripture. Each version tries to reconcile the passages that seem to disagree. I completely understand and respect the serious scholarship of other views. And yet, I find points of disagreement in most everyone so far that I have studied.

The foundation is that God is sovereign, and that He has a plan that cannot fail. He has painted a clear picture in the scripture of that plan to bless all the families of the earth through Christ, the seed of Abraham. His reign begins in each heart and spreads outward from there, impacting every area of society. In the mean time there is a great battle going on in the spiritual realm. That battle is reflected in the horrible and devastatingly evil actions of those who resist Christ. The enemy knows his time is short and he will intensify his efforts.

This battle is depicted in the figurative, symbolic language in the writings of prophets like Daniel, Ezekiel and John in the Revelation. Jesus Himself made use of dramatic symbolic language to depict the fall of Jerusalem after the people rejected Him. Most of the dire warnings in the New Testament were directed at that generation, but I believe all of us should take seriously every word.

At the same time each word has to fit into the big picture as well. A large area of misunderstanding has come from the older English translations. When Jesus spoke of the end of the world, the Greek word, “Aion,” an age, or period of time was used. The end of the age of the Temple and the sacrificial system was coming to a close. Jesus was the true Lamb that took away the sin of the world! The end of that age fully came after His crucifixion and the sacrificial system ended in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. In a sense, the older translation was correct for that world did come to an end!

Another passage that seems to contradict our optimistic understanding of the Kingdom of God is found in 2 Peter 3:3-13. He begins by warning that scoffers would deny the promise of Christ’s coming. Then he reminds his readers that the world in Noah’s day perished, being overflowed by water. The planet earth, however, was not destroyed! The word “world” in the Greek according to Strong’s dictionary has a broad application:

“kosmos-
orderly arrangement, that is, decoration; by implication, the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants, literally or figuratively [morally]):”

In fact the planet and the atmosphere were both preserved. Noah’s family was saved by the very water that brought an end to the orderly arrangement of mankind’s evil activities.

Please bear with me here. We are simply attempting to show how the Bible does not contradict itself. Often we encounter highly symbolic language in Biblical prophecy. This appears to be one of those instances. His point is that the Day of the Lord will come! The end of the day of evil is sure! He continues:

2 Peter 3:7:

But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

The judgment is not against the planet or the sky, but against ungodly men and their habitation! In fact, the delay of His coming is because of the Lord’s long-suffering and desire to see people repent so His creation can be blessed! His desire has always been to save the world! (John 3:16-17)

2 Peter 3:9:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

The elements will be burned up, along with the heavens and the earth. If the language here is figurative, then the fire, which is often used to symbolize the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and even God as the consuming fire, could be figurative as well. He could be saying that the elemental principles of this world will be consumed in God’s judgment. Just as in Noah’s day, heaven and earth become made new!

This is a place wherein righteousness fully dwells!

Paul even uses the metaphor of the new creation in relationship to those who are “in Christ.” But are believers physically crucified, killed or destroyed when they become a “New Creation” in Christ? (2 Corinthians 5:17) Of course not!

If the language is not figurative, then much of what we have read before would seem inconsistent.

In Genesis 1:26-28: God was pleased for humanity to bear His image, and blessed them to be fruitful, fill the earth and take dominion over it.

Genesis 3:15: After the fall, God promised that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent, indicating the restoration and triumph of Christ over sin.

Genesis 8:21-9:1: After the great flood, God promised to never again destroy every living thing, and renewed the original blessing to Noah.

Genesis 12:1-3: God called Abram out and promised to bless him, so that all families of the earth would be blessed through him.

Deuteronomy 18:15-18: Moses told of a prophet to come which would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

1 Chronicles 17:1-14: God promised King David that He would raise up his son to reign forever.

God had much to say through the prophets concerning His plan.

Isaiah 7:14: A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, who would be Emmanuel, God With us.

Isaiah 9:6-7: A Son would be born, who would be called, Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, the Everlasting Father, His kingdom would reign forever.

Isaiah 53: A man would offer his life for our sins, and yet live to prosper and bear children.

Isaiah 2:2-4: The nations will come to learn of God’s ways and He will put an end to war.

Daniel 2:44-45: In the days of the Roman Empire, the Kingdom of God will be set up and begin to fill the earth.

Mark 1:14-15: Jesus declared the Good News of God to repent for the time of the Kingdom had come.

Matthew 28:18-20: After His resurrection, Jesus claims all authority in heaven and earth, commanding his followers to disciple the nations.

Acts 1:8, 2:4, the disciples are given power by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom to the whole earth.

Acts 28:23-31: Paul takes the message of Jesus and the Kingdom of God to Rome, which later becomes the center of Christianity.

1 Corinthians 12:3, Philippians 2:9-11: The Church confesses Jesus is Lord now and that one day every knee would bow and every tongue would also confess He is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Paul the apostle states in Romans 8:16-22 that the whole creation is earnestly waiting for God’s sons to be revealed, and is groaning and travailing in pain in anticipation of its deliverance into the glorious liberty of the children of God. If the language in 2 Peter 3 is not symbolic or figurative, then this groaning to be delivered from the bondage of corruption would be only answered by total destruction!

That would also mean that Christ came in the time foretold to establish His Kingdom on earth only so His subjects would be forced to abandon that which was to be obliterated. In answer to what they have always prayed, this kingdom came to earth but not for long. The meek would inherit a doomed earth. The nations would come up to be taught the ways of the Lord, end all the fighting and then see all the good accomplishments destroyed by a literal fire.

Even the book of the Revelation does not describe the total destruction of the universe. It does describe the defeat of Satan, the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven to the earth, and the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Messiah!

With all of our individual biases, there are bound to be mistakes in our interpretation of prophesy. The basic direction that Christ has given His people is not so complicated. We are to do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. We are to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord, to shine as lights in the world. We are to live as the salt of the earth, and to pray for our leaders and our governments in order to live peaceably and freely share the Good News.

The knowledge that His success actually awaits us, empowers me personally to fulfill my part in His plan. How about you?

We hope this series on First the Kingdom has been helpful to you. To continue in this study with us, we invite you to “like” and “follow” https://www.facebook.com/livingtruthcom/ or subscribe to our blog on https:livingtruth.com

The Revelation of Jesus Christ!


For almost as long as I can remember, the “revelation of Jesus Christ,” has often been identified with the end of the world, or some other frightening event. We often hear that we are living in the last days which are foretold in the last book of the Bible, “The Revelation.”

Eventually I learned that the book of Revelation was in fact about the revelation which was first given to Jesus Christ, and in turn given to John who wrote it all down. The things that John recorded has fascinated many for two thousand years, but today I want to talk about the most fascinating subject of all, the revelation that Jesus Christ wants to reveal of Himself to us!

What we call the New Testament in the Bible witnesses to the fact that Jesus Christ came to a number of individuals and made Himself known unto them in a very special way. One of the first instances we read about was with the apostle Peter. One day Jesus was asking his disciples about who the people thought He was. They answered that some thought Jesus might be the reincarnation of John the Baptist, others Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. Then Jesus asked them, “who do YOU say that I am?”

The response is found in Matt 16:16-18:

“Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.'” (NASU)

Peter had received a revelation. Something was revealed to him or made plain that had previously been hidden. To the multitudes Jesus was someone special, like a prophet or teacher of spiritual and moral things. But God the Father in Heaven had given Peter a gift, that gift was the knowledge that Jesus was more than just a man! He was revealed to Peter to be the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!

In another instance, Peter, along with the brothers James and John, were given an additional glimpse into the glory of Christ.

The Transfiguration

Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9:27-36 describe this event. Some time after they went up into a high mountain it appeared to them as if His face and clothing became as brilliant as the sun. They were obviously confused and disoriented by this and were even frightened.

“a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” (Matt 17:5 KJV)

Peter, in his second letter to believers wrote about this experience.

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory,

‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’

And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.” (2 Peter 1:16-18 KJV)

It would be impossible for us to fully comprehend the impact that simply knowing Jesus had on His disciples, but experiences like witnessing the transfiguration must have been even more life transforming! We are careful to not pit the knowledge of divine truth against supernatural experience, but it would be wise for us to have at least an equal appreciation of both. While many even thousands of hearts have often remained hardened after seeing sensational miracles and the power of God, others have testified to the change that specifically seeing the Lord more clearly had upon them.

Consider the prophet Isaiah, who had already been worshipping and serving God for some time, when a vision of Christ was given to Him. In it he saw the Lord “sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.” He also saw great mysterious winged creators called Seraphim, flying overhead, crying:

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts,, The whole earth is full of His glory.”

After that the whole place began to quake and become filled with smoke. Then this holy man began to cry out, “Woe is me, for I am ruined!, Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

Amidst this frightful and dramatic scene, Isaiah saw the holiness of God in such a way that revealed his sinfulness, and yet grace was already in the room! One of the seraphim took a burning coal from the alter and placed it upon Isaiah’s lips signifying that God Himself had cleansed him of his sin and iniquity. (Isaiah 6:1-7)

A similar thing happened to another great man in the Bible. God before had testified that he was blameless and upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. (Job 1:8). And yet, near the end of the story in the book of Job, he began to see himself in the light of God’s glory and righteousness, saying:

“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6 NIV)

The outcome of all that had transpired in this story of Job’s suffering is that He too had a transforming vision of God!

Throughout the Bible we can find, if we look carefully, evidence of lives that were forever changed by an encounter with the Almighty! One most dramatic and that was told several times in the Acts of the apostles, is that of Saul of Tarsus. Here was an arch-enemy of Christianity, a man obsessed with stamping out what he viewed as a heretical movement among his fellow Jews.

While on his journey to persecute the followers of Christ in Damascus, he was stopped in his tracks by Christ Himself. A light from heaven shone all around him as he fell to the ground and heard the voice of Jesus.

Acts 9:4-6:

” ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’

Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.'” (NKJV)

Now, blinded by the light for three days he would fast and pray and wait for one of the Christians he was fighting against to come and pray for him. From the time his sight was restored he became one of the most, if not the most powerful witnesses for Christ in all of history!

This experience would be forever embedded in his mind. All his years of training in Judaism could not accomplish what this one meeting with Christ did to set him free. Not only that, but the memory of this encounter with the risen Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit within him would sustain him and empower him for a lifetime of suffering and service in spreading the Gospel over the Mediterranean region!

In the Bible we can read of many others whose lives were changed by divine encounters. Some were more dramatic, others more subtle. How about you? Do you have anything in common with Noah, who received directions from God like no one before him had, or Abraham, who was called to leave his comfort zone? How about Sarah, who after waiting with Abraham many years for their promised son, was later reassured by divine messengers that the time had come? Some were told things by God that they were prompted to tell, others things they had to keep to themselves. What about you?

You might say, we are not living in the Bible days. Times were different then. You might think that visions and visitations are only for special people, but not for ordinary ones like you and me. It is true that Moses and Paul had unusual experiences, but in fact both of them hoped that all would have intimate relationships with Christ. They knew that normal humanity began with God and man walking together as friends.

This was Paul’s prayer and also that of the apostle John.

Ephesians 1:15-18:

“Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,”

Here he expresses the fact that even believers need to see Christ unveiled!

Eph 1:19-21:

“and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”

We also need a deeper grasp of what He has done on our behalf!

Ephesians 1:22-23:

“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (NKJ)

Finally we need a revelation of the position and standing we have as His people, His true Church, individually members of His Body in the earth!

The apostles believed that through their sharing His message and their experiences, we too could have a revelation of Jesus Christ!

Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:7-9:

“Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.”(
NIV)

The beloved disciple John penned these words in a letter to believers.

1 John 1:1-4:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched — this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.”

While we do not have the privilege of their ministries in person, we do have their most important teachings in writing. Not only that, but we have the entire Old Testament and the help of the Holy Spirit, leading us into all truth, so that we too can see Christ in all His glory! All we need is a submissive and believing heart.

In 2 Corinthians chapter 3, Paul was writing about the New Covenant ministry of the Spirit. He explained that so many missed the message of the holy writings of Moses, David and the prophets. The truth of the person of Christ was hidden to them, as if under a veil. He put forth what had happened to him and everyone else who had this “Veil over their hearts.” When their hearts were turned to the Lord, the veil was removed, enabling them to see Christ in the Scriptures!

Therefore we, whose hearts are humbled and submissive to Him, are able to see Christ, not with our physical eyes, but more importantly through the eyes of our understanding!

Then we all, having the veils over our minds removed, seeing the reflection of His glory in The Word, are transformed into that same image by the supernatural power of His Spirit! (2 Corinthians 3:14-18)

Let’s be honest. To live the life that we desire, to truly follow the example of Jesus is very difficult. Actually in human terms it is impossible. Only by the help and grace of God is it possible at all. He has given us many things to strengthen us and encourage us. First of all the New Birth, by which we become innocent and new in Him. Then He has given us pastors, teachers and fellow believers to encourage us along the way. But if all we see in the church is methods, plans and programs, we can miss the important fact that all things have been provided so that we can increasingly see the glory of Christ and be changed from glory to glory into His image!

As awesome and fantastic as this sounds, the ultimate goal of God in Christ is that WE TOO will be unveiled, revealed to the world with Christ, as His glorious Bride without spot, wrinkle or defect. In another sense we will be known as joint heirs with Christ, sons and daughters of God to share His glory for the blessing of all creation! Not my words but His!
(Ephesians 5:25, Romans 8:-22, 28-30)

Paul writes in Colossians 3:4:

“When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” NKJV

And John in 1 John 3:2-3:

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (NKJV)

All we have said here is to both challenge and encourage you. If you are a believer and follower of Christ, you have a marvelous destiny in Him. If you are reading this and desire to be a part, call upon Him, seek out those who know Him and let them pray with you. Christ wants you also, to have a revelation of Him, and to become a revelation of Him as well!

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