Islam And the End Times

Well, after a year of not writing in this blog, I’ve decided it’s time to start it up again.

At the age of 11 I became obsessed with understanding the End Times after several incidences that happened to me. No one talked to me about it, no one handed me books, or etc…I just had the desire set inside of me to understand the day in which I KNEW I was living.

I had a dream at that young age that there would be world war again and my friends, family, and church where all underground in tunnels running from Muslims. At that age I was not exposed to any material or any person who ever told me about the Middle East of Muslim Terrorists etc…and yet I had significantly prophetic dreams, that to this day convince me that the church may have been wrong all along in their End Time predictions.

So, this week, I could not help but groan and want to fall to me knees praying as in the midst of the already escalating Israeli crisis, came yet another wake up call from Iraq. Oddly enough, as I’d scroll through social media outlets to see some of the chaos in the Middle East, I was also consistently finding trailers and discussions about the new Left Behind Movie.

I find it disturbing that so many of us will entertain the fantasy of the Left Behind movie, hoping that we might be one of the faithful to make the rapture, while simultaneously Christians are being beheaded by the thousands in the Middle East. How are we more faithful than them? Why do we get to escape all hell breaking loose, but they don’t?

What if the Lord’s return is actually sooner than we realize? If we’re looking for a rapture first, OR a One World Order, etc and all these others things first, we may actually miss what’s happening right now in the Middle East that is fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
(Please see my blogs, “One of Two Comings” and “To Whom Is He Coming As A Thief” and “Seven Letters to the Seven Churches Part Three”.)

I hate being controversial, but there comes a point where I have to stand up for what I believe in and in the end what I feel will save many of us from offense at God in the days to come. With that said, I want to share with you a video clip from a couple of years ago from Glen Beck. The man on the program, Joel Richardson, came into our lives a handful of years ago through some random events. He gave us some of his teachings early on and we knew immediately in our spirits that He had revelation and Biblical truth regarding the matter of Islam and the End-times.
I would HIGHLY recommend that everyone reading this get a copy of ‘The Mid East Beast” and “The Islamic Anti-Christ”. Joel is not just pushing one more crazy idea around the church world, he truly has thoroughly studied Biblical prophecy and Islamic Eschatology. This in my opinion of 10 plus years of study is the revelation the church needs to understand.

Please watch this clip and visit Joel’s site for MUCH more information that I could ever give at this point in time.

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Covenant and Controversy of Zion

A friend of mine recently started filming a documentary entitled “Covenant and Controversy”.  It is based upon the book by Dalton Lifsey , “The Controversy of Zion and the Time of Jacob’s Trouble”.

I’ve started to read the book myself and last week I went to a conference to hear Dalton and others speak on this issue.  I am pierced with the reality of this issue: God’s covenant with Israel and the controversy that surrounds it.  Rather than writing a blog about this topic, I encourage anyone wanting to understand more on this issue to go get this book! You can find it on amazon.com

Here is the link to the first official trailer for the movie…

Letters To the Seven Churches Part Three

 

The Seven Letters To the Churches

PART THREE:

 Philadelphia:  The Faithful ChurchRevelation 3:7-13

 He Reveals Himself As: The Faithful and True, the One Who Holds the key of David that Opens and Closes Doors

 This is very significant.  To this church the Lord reveals himself as a promise keeper, and one faithful to do all He’s promised to do (in the last days).  This is where I see the promises of Joel 2 being fulfilled etc  Here Jesus not only does Jesus say this church will walk in the promises of God but also walk in His governmental authority.   The Keys of David represent power, and authority of heaven and earth as is also stated in this passage.  To this church He reveals himself this way because it is the element of Himself they need to know, embrace and emulate. 

Praise:

    1. With little strength they have

                                                              i.      Kept His Word

                                                            ii.      Not Denied My Name

                                                          iii.      Persevered

 Exhortation:

            Hold fast what you have don’t let anyone take your crown (because they’ve already been given a crown of royalty/authority. 

 Promise:

            Those that overcome, will be a pillar in the temple of God (key foundational component)

            They will receive a new name

 Wow if there were a church to aspire to be, it’s Philadelphia!  Though, I also would add to that Smyrna…they are very different representations of an overcoming church.  One through bloodshed and trial, and this one through overcoming seemingly signs and wonders victors. Contrary to popular belief, they are not the church we want to be apart of because they “miss” the tribulation, but rather they are the church without reproof who get access to the kingdom of heaven, on earth.  Christ comes to with governmental authority these ones who are “small in number” but huge in the spirit!  This is another reason why I feel kingdom theology misses some major points to consider.  This church is the church that the Dominionists desire to be like, and that’s great! We should!  However, this church is 1/7th of the church world. I know that make not be the exact math, but out of 7 churches, and knowing that this one is small in number it may be more or less than 1/7th .  However, point being, it’s not the entire body of Christ .  In perspective we must realize Jesus is addressing all the types of the churches that will exist in the last days and this is only a small percentage of the Body of Christ.  However I agree that this is the one we should aspire to be apart of, though we must also realize in our wholehearted pursuit of God He may also make us the church that spills are blood like Smyrna.  Anyway,  Philadelphia:

  1. He crowns them.  He as the King of Kings places a royal crown of authority on their head and positions them in leadership over both heaven and earth.
  2. He equips them with the key of David.  The ability to open and shut doors on heaven and on earth
  3. He makes their enemies bow down and worship at their feet
  4. He makes His favor on them known to the world

 

 To argue the Pre-tribulational view of this church, I would like to state these primary points. 

  1. This church is praised for perseverance; why do they have/ need perseverance?   (They hour they live in is the most trial some hour in human history!) 

 

  1. They still have to hold unto what they have received and still overcome like all the rest.  The exhortation is exactly the same to them “To He Who Overcomes”…Overcomes what??

 

  1. If God favors them in making their enemies worship at there feet, does this not seem to indicate that there are then surrounded by or in the midst of their enemies?  God does not say He’d remove them from their enemies, but rather make them victorious (crown and keys reveal this) and conquers of their enemies.  (See Jesus’ Prayer John 17 below)

The “Hour” that they are kept from is not clearly the “tribulation”.  It has been interpreted that way due to the likewise misinterpretation of “The Thief in the Night” theory alongside of the whole, “we are not appointed to wrath theory”.   But if we understanding rightly that this church is the “victorious church”, and not the one to whom Jesus is coming to as a thief, we will also easily be able to comprehend the idea that God meant He would, “keep” as in “protect”, this church through the tribulation period.  The whole of scripture supports this idea, and this verse does not clearly make exception for that message.

In fact, the actual word for ‘Keep” in verse 3:10 is the Greek work “tereo” which implies “to keep from a present danger.”  The preposition “from” (Greek: ek) implies direction (“out from within”). It is not a synonym for “away from in some other place.” This implies that the church is within the hour of testing and is to be kept, guarded from danger

I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. (John 17:15)

[John 17:15 and Revelation 3:10 use the same Greek words for “keep” and “from.”]

“keep” = tereo {tay-reh’-o}(Strong’s number 5083)

from teros (a watch, perhaps akin to 2334); TDNT – 8:140,1174; v

AV – keep 57, reserve 8, observe 4, watch 2, preserve 2, keeper 1,   hold fast 1; 75

1)      to attend to carefully, take care of
1a) to guard
1b) metaph. to keep, one in the state in which he is
1c) to observe
1d) to reserve: to undergo something

 

I’d like to quote from Matthew Henry’s commentary regarding this hour they are kept from as well. 

“(2.) Another instance of favor that Christ promises to this church is persevering grace in the most trying times (Rev. 3:10), and this as the reward of their past fidelity. To him that hath shall be given. Here observe, [1.] The gospel of Christ is the word of his patience. It is the fruit of the patience of God to a sinful world; it sets before men the exemplary patience of Christ in all his sufferings for men; it calls those that receive it to the exercise of patience in conformity to Christ. [2.] This gospel should be carefully kept by all that enjoy it; they must keep up to the faith, and practice, and worship prescribed in the gospel. [3.] After a day of patience we must expect an hour of temptation; a day of gospel peace and liberty is a day of God’s patience, and it is seldom so well improved as it should be and therefore it is often followed by an hour of trial and temptation. [4.] Sometimes the trial is more general and universal; it comes upon all the world, and, when it is so general, it is usually the shorter. [5.] Those who keep the gospel in a time of peace shall be kept by Christ in an hour of temptation. By keeping the gospel they are prepared for the trial; and the same divine grace that has made them fruitful in times of peace will make them faithful in times of persecution.”

 

Laodicea: The Lukewarm Church Revelation 3:14-22

 He Reveals Himself As:  The Amen, Faithful and True Witness, The Beginning of the Creation of God

 This signifies Himself as the consistent, same today and forever God that has existed before time began.   He is the One and only true Witness of God, as both the creator of the heavens and the earth, and the creator of the Church.  He is the head, He is the overseer, He is the director of all things.  Therefore, He knows them better than they know themselves. 

No Praise

Rebuke:

  1. 1.      They are neither cold nor hot (indifferent)
  2. 2.      They are wealthy and think they are in need of nothing
  3. 3.      They are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked

 

Exhortation:

          They are counseled to buy gold refined in the fire, white garments, and eye salve.  If they do not, they will be spit our of the mouth of God

 Promise: If they’re zealous and repent He will come and dine with them, and if they overcome they will sit with Him on His throne.  Meaning, they will rule with Him in the age to come.

 Laodicea has no praise!  The Lord is extremely displeased with their indifference.  Just as He was upset about the dead church and had nothing to say praise worthy of them, so it is true with this lukewarm church.  God is a God of Jealous passion.  He desires that His church love wholeheartedly, and stay true to Him unto death. He desires labor, diligence, fruits the prove His people are being moved to work righteously due to this true revelation they have of Him on the inside.   All of the churches who received praise, were told that they had held true to His name, were diligent, were faithful, were producing some good fruits etc…but here there is no praise because they are indifferent.  They do not care one way or the other about what’s going on or what they’re doing as a church. 

 How would you feel if your spouse, of significant other, were to tell another member of the opposite sex that they loved you, but didn’t really care about who they slept with?  Since, in the end they love you, you love them, things will work out…so they just don’t think it’s a big deal to have a little affair here and there.  What if they also said they love you, but don’t really think it’s a big deal to celebrate your birthday?  What if they sometimes didn’t spend time with you when they promised they would, because something else with more appeal came up?  You wouldn’t feel very loved would you?  It’s not like they hate you and want to violently kill you, but they definitely are not fully in love with you either.  So they are not against Christ, they do “love” in their definition, Him…they are not sold out.  So essentially, what Jesus says here is this: “ARE YOU WITH ME, OR ARE TO AGAINST ME?  GET OFF THE FENCE NOW.”

To quote Matthew Henry one last time:

 “We have one cause of this indifference and inconsistency in religion assigned, and that is self-conceitedness or self-delusion. They thought they were very well already, and therefore they were very indifferent whether they grew better or no: Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, etc., Rev. 3:17.. Here observe, What a difference there was between the thoughts they had of themselves and the thoughts that Christ had of them. (1.) The high thoughts they had of themselves: Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, rich, and growing richer, and increased to such a degree as to be above all want or possibility of wanting. Perhaps they were well provided for as to their bodies, and this made them overlook the necessities of their souls. Or they thought themselves well furnished in their souls: they had learning, and they took it for religion; they had gifts, and they took them for grace; they had wit, and they took it for true wisdom; they had ordinances, and they took up with them instead of the God of ordinances. How careful should we be not to put the cheat upon our own souls! Doubtless there are many in hell that once thought themselves to be in the way to heaven. Let us daily beg of God that we may not be left to flatter and deceive ourselves in the concerns of our souls”

 The counsel to buy Gold in the fire:

 I personally believe this refers to going through some sort of personal or corporate tribulation in order to be refined and purged off all vain opinions of self.   It also requires that they “Buy” the gold.  They have to give something to get something.  They cannot continue to be indifferent any longer.

 White Garments:

 This are pure heavenly mantels that they need from God.  First however they must exchange the filthy garments they are wearing that were made of themselves.  They clothed themselves in their own wisdom, and etc but to the Lord it’s filthy rags.  We need to be clothed in His garments, not our own.

 Eye Salve:

 Their eyes must be healed, and open to see themselves for who they really are.  Again here they must also “Buy” the eye salve.  They need to give up their own reasoning and wisdom in order to see rightly. 

 Lastly the Lord ends the final letter with this admonition:

 “Whom I love, I rebuke and chaste”

 CONCLUSION:

 Is it any wonder that after the final judgments are spoken over the final church mentioned, that Jesus concludes with this statement?  He is reiterating after all of the judgments spoken to all the churches that He loves them all.  Yet, because He loves them/us He is in need of correcting the majority of us.  It is through that correction and repentance that we inherent the promises!  He also states this just as He is beginning to share His end time plan with us. To me this is showing us that He desire to get His church right with Him BEFORE the events detailed in the rest of the Book of Revelation take place.

 He is coming back, and for sure the events were read of in the Book of Revelation will indeed come to pass.  Yet now is the season of grace and repentance.  Now is the day and the hour where the Lord is walking among His church, seeking for the faithful Bride, asking for us to turn from our wicked ways.  The time to repent and grow in the Lord is now!  There will come a day when that time will be no more and He will send judgment on His church.  It starts with His church, and then the world. 

 May this inspire you to be all your called to be in Christ Jesus and to ready yourself for the return of our Lord. Maranatha!

Seven Letters To The Seven Churches Part Two

The Seven Letters To The Churches

PART TWO:

 Pergamos:The Corrupt Church Revelation 2:12-17

 Reveals Himself As: The One With A Two-Edged Sword

 This is because Pergamos was a church that struggled a lot with corruption historically.  There was a lot of warfare over the region and church, but He’s warning them of His judgment (as opposed to Satan’s judgment like that which we saw in Smyrna).  The Sword is a weapon of defense, and offenses.  It has a sharp edge on every side…it wounds for the sake of healing…

 

Praise:

  1. Held True to the Faith in Christ Jesus
  2. Stood up for the faith in the midst of martyrdom

Rebuke:

  1. Idolatry and immorality dwell inside the church
  2. They held to the doctrines of the Nicolaitans (Immoral “Christian” cult)

 Exhortation:

Repent, or Jesus will come to them “quickly” and will fight them with the sword of His mouth

 Promise:

        Those that overcome will receive hidden manna to eat, and a white stone, with a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it

 

 The Lord is pleased that they’ve held unto faith in Him, even unto death and that is worthy of praise.  However, this warning has to do with His judgment coming to them if things don’t change.  Jesus greets this church as  “He who has the sharp two-edged sword”, and then after rebuking them for their idolatry and immorality He tells them if they don’t not repent He will fight them with the sword of His mouth.   Reminds me of this passage: Hebrews 4:12-13.

12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

The Word of God divides soul from spirit.  The soul being our mind, will, and emotions, that often war against the spirit.  His word cuts at the heart of us, discerning all things and making known clearly what is of the soul and what is of the spirit.  To this church He is letting them know that this doctrine of the Nicolaitans that allows immorality, is not of His spirit and He will judge them for it if they do not repent. 

 Today I feel that this could be for us the Christians/churches that are proud to call themselves Christian, but don’t see the lines clearly yet.  These would represent those who love Jesus, but yet have embraced a form of Christianity that allows for immorality.  We already see so much of this confusion in several denominations today.  Many churches allow homosexuality and pre-marital sex etc because they have bought into the deception/disillusion that the above-mentioned activities are normal and allowed within Christianity. Honestly, I have known MANY Christians who worship the Lord fervently, read the Word etc but are under the lie that they cannot stop or conquer several forms of sin especially in the area of immorality.  I’ve heard many many Christian defend premarital sex and porn.  To the point where it’s not a “sin” their trying to overcome, but rather a normal part of our culture that’s now expected to take place in the church.  With this view they often say things like, “I know I shouldn’t, but God has grace for my short comings, I’m only human.”  Most youth pastors have to expect that the majority of their youth groups are not virgin teens either.  “Christianity Today” and “Relevant” both did an article back in 2011 showing new stats that revealed 80% of Evangelical young adults ages 18-29 have sexual relationships before marriage. That puts us only 8% behind the secular world stats.  These articles do not even cover other aspects of immorality…Grant it there is a big difference between someone falling due to immaturity and genuinely struggling verse one who thinks it’s ok to practice it in the first place.  Here in this church it was practiced as a part life and was deemed ok by this cult there.

 So, this warning to the church of Pergamos still exists for today…We cannot make exceptions for immorality in the church of God. For some of us we may need to re-evaluate our understanding concerning immorality and allow the Holy spirit to speak to us through the Word of God and His Holy Spirit. Lastly, maybe there is also a lack of teaching the true fear of the Lord and that He does indeed come in judgment to those who partake in sin.  Even here the word “quickly” is used to show that there will be a surprise factor if they are not aware that there could be judgment coming.  Once we become enlightened to the reality of the standard we are indeed called to live in, and desire earnestly to overcome sin, we will then have no sudden judgment to fear.   It is God’s goodness and mercy here warning and preparing us to recognize these issues before it’s too late.

 

Thyatira: The Compromising Church Revelation 2:18-29

 He Reveals Himself As: One With Eyes of Fire and Feet Like Brass

 The eyes of fire show us that Christ’s eyes pierce and infiltrate deeply into each person’s spirit.  He “sees” everything at the deepest level.  Feet like brass represent Him walking in strength, steadiness, and pure holiness everywhere He goes.  There’s also an element of wisdom and judgment portrayed by brass.  So to this church He is clearly indicating that  He “sees” the most hidden things and He walks among them in Holy purity, strong and steady, ready to bring correction and make this church “pure” through the fire. 

 Praise :

  1. Their works, love, faith, service, and patience please Him
  2. Their more recent works are better than their first  (meaning they’ve been growing in the things of the Lord, increasing in baring good fruit).

 Rebuke:

They’ve allowed false prophetess in the spirit of Jezebel to teach immorality and idolatry

 Exhortation:

Repent, or you will be cast into a sickbed, go through tribulation, and have her children killed.  He will give to each one of them according to their works (good and bad) Hold fast to what you do have

 Promise:

If they hold fast what they do have “Until I come”, and those that do keep His works “Until the End” will have power over the nations.  Those who do not hold to the doctrines of Jezebel will “not have any other burden put unto them”

 This church has allowed some people that are compared to Jezebel to manipulate and seduce the church into idolatry and immorality.  They however were doing it on claims that they had higher revelation.  They were gifted false prophets that seduced the church people to believe they heard from the Lord and understood mysteries etc…It wasn’t the church itself necessarily was embracing a doctrine like that of the Nicolaitans, but rather they’ve allowed a few into their church who were proclaiming themselves as these prophets and held some sort of influence there.  Church elders should’ve boldly rejected what these “prophets” were teaching.  The church became a partaker in the sins of these seducers because they did not put an end to their manipulation and expulsion of the pure word of God.  They could have kicked her out and said we will not tolerate this, but instead compromised and gave into her.  They still wanted these prophets in their church apparently, though they were influencing/corrupting the flock.

 Honestly, I have had a few young women cross my path who’ve shared with me stories of being molested by their pastor or another leader in the church who displayed what appeared to be a great relationship with God.  I was shocked to find out that these individuals would “under the anointing” lay hands on people and see healings, give prophetic words from the pulpit that would come to pass etc and then go and claim that the Holy spirit also told them to touch a girls breasts.  A dear friend of mine had grown up Baptist and when she saw the signs and wonders movement she jumped on board in genuine hunger for God.  Unfortunately, in the particular church that she went to the youth pastor convinced her that she was to allow him to sexually molest her. This was apart of his “holy experience” and something he would tell her God was telling him to do, and that she’d be greatly rewarded in heaven for participating in it.  Needless to say, that friend began to struggle with trauma and an eating disorder because of it all.  Now the Lord has healed her and set her free from that hurt etc but it still breaks my heart to hear how common these situations are becoming.  That is just one of several stories…and not all signs and wonder teaching church are like that- I want that to be clear.  Some are genuinely moving in the things of the Lord, but others are like this church-they have these prophets operating in the spirit of Jezebel in them.

 

The Lord in His goodness gave these seducers time to repent…to me that time is the day we’re living in now.  God is giving so much grace to the church even in our sin, but we must repent while there is time and He is calling us to turn.  There will come a day when He will come in judgment and the hour of grace will be over.  As seen in this church, when they did not repent, the Lord then took action and stated that He would try them by fire essentially.  Their offspring would be killed, (so that the corruption would not continue to be passed down generationally), and each person would be personally judged based on their own fruit.  All those who collaborated in anyway with the spirit of Jezebel would then in turn receive their share of judgment as well.  Jesus then states, that through the judgment that comes upon these seducers and this church, all of the churches will see and know that He is the one that searches the hearts and deals with us according to our works.  Meaning that, He will be known by the judgment they receive.  This totally goes against the theologies out there that proclaim God would never judge His church, but honestly that is not rooted in scripture and we cannot ignore the fact that God in His grace and mercy tells this church to repent or else He will come in judgment to them.  This is an aspect of God that we must never try to erase from the pages of the Bible; It is vital to understand in order for us to realize why repentance is so necessary.  Thankfully the promise is to those who overcome and hold unto the truths they have in the Lord, they will be given rule and power over the nations when Jesus returns!  In addition, those who are not participating in the doctrine taught by the seducers, though they are apart of this church, they are promised not to carry any extra burden.  Meaning that God will not do to them what He’s said He will bring in judgment upon the seducers and they ones that have allowed and participated with the spirit of Jezebel.  So be encourage that even if your church is one that compromises in this area, if you do not partake in their sin yourself, you will not be church for what others In your church, denomination etc are doing.  Hold fast to the good which you have!

 It is very important to note is that this is the only church letter out of the seven where Jesus uses the words, “until I come” and ‘until the end”.   This stands out to me, because so many are always preaching that “Philidelphia” is the faithful church that gets raptured and yet her this church specifically is told to hold on to the truth they have  until He comes.  This has to mean His second return! I don’t know how else to take that.  If they make it to the end (logical conclusion here would be the “end of the age” that Jesus often referred to), then they have power over nations.   Well, when Jesus comes back to set up His earthly rule at the end of the tribulation He will need people to place in positions of power over the earth.  Again as mentioned in previous posts, the entire world will NOT be Christian right away in the Millennium and hence another reason why Jesus sets up His kingdom with some of us to rule over it.  (Zechariah 14:16, Daniel 7:12)  So, this church is one that appears to go through some of the shaking that is coming in the days ahead…therefore His church in need of repentance none the less, but not a church that gets taken up in a pre-trib rapture. 

 

Sardis: The Dead Church Revelation 3:1-6

 He Reveals Himself As:  The Seven Spirits of God and One Who Has the Seven Stars.

 The symbolism of the seven spirits shows that though He is one spirit, He is revealing Himself in seven unique ways to each church.  Picture a Menorah; it is one lamp stand with seven flames of fire proceeding from it.  His spirit is in each of the seven churches etc This is important to this church because He’s letting them know that His fire is more than capable of being lit in each of the churches at the same time, He’s not just showing up at a one or a select few of the churches.  He wants this church to allow Him to light their candlestick!  The number seven in Hebrew Numerology has to do with spiritual completion.  Here if this church is dead, and the light of the Holy Spirit is not burning within them, there is not a perfect spiritual completion represented on the earth.  

 He also reveals to this church what he reveals about Himself to the “Loveless church Ephesus”.   Isn’t it interesting that to both the Loveless church, and the dead church he shows Himself as one who holds the seven stars?  This referring to Him intimately knowing the stars each by name, like, and His ability to keep things in motion, directing us as needed while shinning His light on us show that we may reflect His glory etc etc…

 Praise: Nothing worthy of praise in this church!

 Rebuke:  1. Hypocrisy- they had a great reputation (name) but are dead

                      2. Their works have not been found perfect in the sight of Him who “knows their works”.

 Exhortation:

            1.Be watchful and strengthen what’s left

            2. Remember what you’ve heard and received

            3. Hold Fast/Repent

 Promise:

            White robes, (heavenly apparel), and their name will be confessed before God instead of blotted out.

 Sardis is a church that doesn’t seem to show outward sin or division among them.  The church is known to have “A name” that live, meaning they are carrying a great reputation in man’s eyes.  However, the one who has the seven spirit and knows the seven stars intimately knows their works and knows the reality is they are dead.  The do not have it all together at all.  In fact it definitely sounds like they are walking the line. We know this because we are told that they are in danger of having their names blotted out of the book of life! Sure there isn’t corrupt doctrine of immorality here, but still they are living as hypocrites who do know have the life of true Christianity on the inside.  Essentially, they “have the form of Godliness” but deny the source their off.  Their very fruit denies the real Christ on the inside though their structure may be morally perfect etc…Thankfully the Lord mentions that even here there are “a few” who have not defiled their garments.

 Jesus tells the rest of them that if they just repent and remember the things they’ve learned in the beginning, that He will in deed confess them as His church/children before His father on the day of the Lord.  Note that this church is not even offered the rewards the other churches were offered.  Here He’s simply just asking them to make it into heaven by recommitting themselves to Christ again.

 It is also to this dying church that is barely born again that the Lord says He’s coming to as a thief!  That should tell us something.  This is the ONLY church that He will “surprise” with His coming, and it is one of two churches He has nothing positive to say about.  Surely that cannot be the church that is expected to be raptured.   It does not make sense to say that the next church, Philadelphia gets raptured “like a thief in the night”, when it is to this church He is displeased with that He uses that terminology.  The phrase is used in a negative light here, not positive. 

 “Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you

 

Seven Letters To The Seven Churches In Revelation

Do the Seven Letters in the Book of Revelation Apply to Us Today?

 

PART ONE:

I grew up in a tradition that taught the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 1-3 were representative of various “Church ages” throughout history.     After thoroughly reading many commentaries on the churches, I have concluded that it makes the most sense to recognize that these churches were indeed literal, historical churches at the time the Book was written, but that letters were intended to be for us today in the exact same way all the other letters in the Bible are.  Jesus specifically chose to write these letters to these churches at that time in history, knowing that they held prophetic significance to the types of churches that would exist before and around the time of His return. 

For example, we have in our Bible letters to the church at Corinth, Thessalonica, and Philippi, etc and even two letters to a man named Timothy!  Though these letters were written to an actual church or person within that time in history, it does not just pertain to them.  These letters have been inspired by the Holy Spirit and canonized in our Bible because they are meant to be read for the sake of our own application. 

Therefore, I feel it would be wrong to presume that the seven letters in the book of Revelation should be taken as historical churches only.   Second to that, I also feel it is illogical to conclude that these churches represent dispensations of “Church Age” history.  Meaning, each church represents a different time in History.   Rather I would like to expound upon the idea that these churches are significantly relevant to us today as they reveal the types of churches that will exist unto the coming of the Lord.   

Approvals, Accusations, and Advice to the Seven Churches

Take time to read over Revelation 2-3 for your self and look for a pattern in each letter.   Here’s the pattern I’ve found in the letters, (with the exception of two churches without rebuke, and two churches without approval.).  Essentially, to each church He is saying:

1. Here’s what I love (Praise)

2. Here’s what I hate (Rebuke)

3. This is how you can change (Exhortation)

5. If you overcome/obey I will give you (Promise)

How Do These Letter Apply to Me personally Today ?

Jesus is writing to His church, His Bride, His Body…whatever term you prefer.  Point being, these letters are to all those who are, “Saved” and have proclaimed Jesus as their Savoir.  One of the ways we know that they are just as important for us today as they were 2000 years ago, is because of the common exhortation Jesus uses in these letters.  He says the same phrase that He has throughout the Gospel;  “He who has an ear, let him hear”.  It is spoken 8 times in the Gospel’s and 8 times in the book of Revelation.  It spoken to demand our attention to what is about to be said.  Jesus never used this phrase to talk about a light matter, but rather one that deserved universal attention.  Though the letters are addressing a corporate issue, this phrase seems to be spoken to an individual in the midst of the corporate message.  I like what Matthew Henry Says about this phrase in his commentary of Revelation:

“1. A call to attention: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Observe, (1.) What is written in the scriptures is spoken by the Spirit of God. (2.) What is said to one church concerns all the churches, in every place and age. (3.) We can never employ our faculty of hearing better than in hearkening to the word of God: and we deserve to lose it if we do not employ it to this purpose. Those who will not hear the call of God now will wish at length they had never had a capacity of hearing any thing at all.”

  I believe that each one of us can look at these churches and find something in common that we, or our church, can relate too.  If we are really honest with ourselves I’m sure many of us will recognize that some of the things mentioned in these letters are issues we need to corporately and personally overcome as well.

 There are five churches given a rebuke and two that are not.  However, not just the apprehended churches are encouraged to overcome, but also the ones who found approval. This is significant because it shows that even if we’re doing what is right and pleasing to the Lord, we still need to hold on to it and keep doing it, not wavering until the end; whether that be His return or our death.

Jesus Reveals A Different Aspect Of Himself to Each Church

One of the elements I find fascinating in these letters is that Jesus describes Himself differently to each church.  Why is that?  He describes Himself in a way that relates to that churches issue(s).  He shares the part of Himself that they need to see highlighted.  The side of Him that He makes known to them is what will either empower them to overcome, or bring them to judgment.   This is a key to understand, because today so many of us see Jesus in just one or two ways.  In other words, some of us grasp a particular element of who He is and hold onto that alone and therefore think everyone should see that side of Jesus.  If we do that, then we are not able to see that maybe God is revealing Himself in a different manner to another church or person.  For instance, to one He comes as a intimate personal shepherd who’s assuring them of His care and love, while to the other He comes in judgment as a two edge sword.  One church needs to know His loving personal side, while the other church, the side of His judgment.   Notice the pattern displayed in the seven letters below.  The revelation of Himself directly correlates to their rebuke, exhortation, or promise.

Ephesus: Loveless Church Revelation 2:1-7

Reveals Himself AsThe One Who Holds The Seven Stars and Walks in the Midst of the 7 Candlesticks

 Meaning, the Lord holds, directs, and lights the ministers of the seven churches in His hand.  He knows each very personally! He also enjoys walking in the midst of His churches on earth, like a walk in a lit garden at night. He is well acquainted with them from walking among them.  He starts with this introduction by speaking of intimacy and care to the church of Ephesus, because this is the church that has lost their love. 

Praise:

  1. They are diligent and  patient laborers who have not grown weary
  2. They have zeal against all evil (Immoral doctrines of Nicholaitans etc…)

 Rebuke:

 They have left their first love. 

 Exhortation:

Remember from where they fell and repent, or else their lamp will be removed from the earth

 Promise:

Him who listens and overcome will eat of the tree of life.

 This sound so much to me like the churches we have today that truly stand on the Word of God, expose false teaching, and diligently labor for the Lord. Yet at the same time, in the midst of all their, “good work”, they lose sight of the love that drove them to work against evil in the first place.  Some of us may not to go a church like that, but spiritually may be apart of “Ephesus”, if we, just like them are faithful in many areas but have lost our love. We don’t ever want to leave the Holy love relationship for a duty driven one. As we grow cold in our love for the Lord, we also grow cold in our love for others.  We cannot be a faithful witness of the Lord’s love if we are not well acquainted with it ourselves. ( One of the signs of men in the last days is that the love of many will grow cold-this will be something even God’s church must fight.  Matthew 24:12)

 The Lord warns them that if they do not return to their first love that He will actually remove their light in the earth.  God does not want a loveless bride at His wedding day.  In the end if they preserver they will eat of eternal life in the midst of paradise with God.

 Smyrna: Persecuted Church Revelation 2:8-11

 He Reveals Himself As: The First and the Last and Who Was Dead But Now Alive. 

 Meaning, that He sees everything from beginning to end, is the judge of all, and has even conquered death itself.  This is a significant introduction to this church because of what they were/will be going through.  He is letting them know that He sees their pain, is well acquainted with grief as they are, but He Himself has overcome death so that they will not eternally die, though their bodies may be slain for His name.

Praise:

  1. Good works, tribulation, and poverty
  2. They are rich spiritually though physically they’re poor

 Exhortation:

    1. He will compensate them in eternity for their trials
    2. They are not to fear the coming suffering

                                                              i.      Only *some* of them will be thrown in prison

                                                            ii.      It will try them, not obliterate them

                                                          iii.      It will be a short, set time frame of persecution-not lasting forever

Promise:

  If they’re faithful unto death, they will receive a crown of life and the “2nd Death” will have no power over them.

 Smyrna is one of two churches that does not receive a rebuke.  They are praised for being spiritually rich though they are physically poor and persecuted.  The Lord compassionately says, “I know of your tribulation”…meaning He sees and He deeply knows the pain they are going through.  This is an encouragement to them in their suffering, assuring them they’ve not been forsaken.  Jesus is clearly showing us here that sometimes His church will go through trials, persecution, and poverty.  This is not a popular message among Faith preachers and like advocates of today.  Jesus as the suffering servant Himself has told some of us we will have trials in this earth…He does not rebuke them for being poor and seemingly powerless over their enemy etc…but rather comforts them in the midst of their trial, telling them more is yet coming.  If we were to really believe and embrace a lot of what the Charismatic church in the west here is teaching, we’d be telling Smyrna that all they need to do to get out of the situation is to  tare down some demonic powers in the heavens, speak life over themselves, and pray for that money to come in.  Since their, “the head and not the tail” right? LOL.  However, really, I feel like that it grieves the Lords heart we in the West especially do not recognized the purity in this letter to Smyrna.  They Lord is pleased with this church that is going through a significant trials and who will have many die for the sake of the Gospel.  This persecuted Church I believe is the world wide persecuted church of today. They are living out the Gospel to the fullest, shedding their blood for Jesus. There is no greater love than laying down your life for Christ.  There will be GREAT REWARD for this church in heaven/millennium. 

He also states “ I know the blasphemy of the Jews who say they are Jews but are not”.  This refers to many claiming to be the “elect ones”, or one who will also inherent the Promise of God.  At the time many claimed to be Jews or Christians but then were promoting doctrines contrary to the Word of God.  They just wanted the title and the blessing accompanying what the saw in the Messianic believers at the time, though they were Gentiles.   In Modern times, I think this could be linked with replacement theology.  You see, replacement theology tells us that we in the “new covenant” have all that Israel was promised, and that literal Israel’s covenant with God is essentially, exempt.  They want the promises that are not for them just like the ones who “say they are Jews but are not”.  We are but grafted in to their tree…( another topic for another post). 

 To be continued…

One or Two “Coming(s)”? Comparison of Matthew 24 With The “Rapture Passages”

1 Thessalonians 4:15 & 16 is often use synonymously with 1 Corinthians 15:52 as a parallel “Rapture” passage pointing to a secret catching away of the saints before the Great Tribulation period.  However, most scholars will not argue that Matthew 24 describes a post-tribulation return of Jesus to the earth.  This is because of the obvious climactic nature of events leading up to the cosmic disturbances described in verses 29-31

 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

  Because the coming presented here contradicts the very nature of a secrete rapture, many who adhere to the Pre-Tribulational rapture belief have decided that Jesus must just be warning the Jews, or those “left behind.”  Though His followers were indeed Jewish, they were essentially known not for being Jews, but rather for being followers of Jesus.  Are we not His disciples too?  If we are going to say that His audience was purely Jewish, then we may need to start ignoring many of the parables that Jesus explained to His disciples, because they were “Jewish”, right?  It does not make logical sense to me that He is addressing the Jews when they are indeed His disciples. Nor that He would be speaking to them about those left after a rapture, while not actually mentioning a previous rapture.   There is no clear-cut evidence pointing towards to either of these views. Jesus would have at the least eluded to two separate comings, or the apostle Paul later on for that matter.  Rather I think it is fair to assume He is addressing HIS PEOPLE: the all-inclusive Jew and Gentile, the One New Man in Christ. 

   Now I would like to have you consider a chart that reveals a distinct picture of what reveals, ONE COMING.   As shown in this chart, though 1 Thessalonians does have four common elements shared with 1 Corinthians 15:52, it actually shares SIX common elements with Matthew 24!    So who was Paul writing to?  Was his audience Christians or the Jews?  Was he possibly referencing what Jesus taught His disciples on the Mount of Olives?  He did not seem to be telling the early church about an entirely different event.

     
Matthew 24 1Thessalonians 4:15-17 1 Corinthians 15:52
1. Parousia for “Coming” used 4 out of 6 times (Vs. 3, 27, 37, &48)

 

1. Parousia: Jesus is “Coming” Vs. 15 1. Parousia: Jesus is “Coming” Vs. 23
2. Jesus appears in Heaven (30) 2. The Lord descends from heaven, (16) 2.
3. He’s coming in the clouds (30) 3. With them in the clouds (17)

 

3.
4. Angels are present (31) 4. There’s an archangel present, (16) 4.
5. There’s a great sound of a trumpet (31) 5. A shout and trumpet of God (16) 5. At the last trumpet
6…

 

6. The dead in Christ are raised (16) 6. The dead shall be raised
7. Gathering of the elect (31) 7. We are caught up meet him in the clouds, and will be with Him forever (17) 7. We are “changed” and will ever be with the Lord

 

 Paul Is Referencing the Olivet Discourse:

 Mark 13 and Luke 21 both coincide with Matthew 24, which as we’ve seen parallels 1Thessalonians, and 1Corinthians.   Though Matthew 24 does not mention a ressurection of the dead, we know that it must occur regardless of whether this is the first of second phase of Jesus coming.  We can make that conclusion because Paul said the dead MUST be raised first.  However if Matthew 24 were to represent a 2nd phase rapture after the Tribulation, we’d now have to say there are two times that the dead are raised. Once at the rapture, and yet again at the end of the Tribulation.  A whole nother topic for another day.  For now let’s understand that Paul learned about Jesus through the oral traditions and writings of the disciples.  Most of His understanding came through what was taught to them, though it seems He had some supernatural experiences himself that may have reveled more to him, I’m not sure.   None the less, He uses language that references previous scriptures when He’s writing about the end times.  Let’s look at just a few for now.

Mark13:36“lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping.”

1Thessalonians5:6 “…let us not sleep as do others

Luke 21:34 take heed … lest your hearts be overcharged with  carousing and drunkenness”

1Thessalonians5:6-8 “be sober…they that are drunken are drunken in the night. …be sober”

Mark 13:35-37Watch ye therefore … What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch.”

1 Thessalonians 5:6let us watch…”

The Last Trumpet:

Ok, look at the chart again.  Notice how there are two elements all three passages have in common?  These are this:  The trumpet, and the gathering

 1 Corinthians 15:52 is the only passage that uses the phrase, “last trumpet”.   However, why would Paul use that phrase, unless He had some understanding or insight that there would be a last trumpet, as opposed to just a trumpet?  What makes the most sense to me is to then believe that since the entire Bible is written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that there MUST be a reason for the word LAST to appear in this text. 

When this first stood out to me, I searched the Bible to find a place that prophesied a future event relating to the Lord’s return that had listed at least two trumpets.  Since obviously, if there is a last, there surely must at the least be a first.   This is not found anywhere else but in the Book of Revelation and it is there we find the seven trumpets.  

I realize that many who hold to the Pre-trib doctrine will say the trumpet is possibly the voice that speaks like a trumpet to John in chapter four.  Some say its apart of the “mystery” Paul addresses.  However, there are several problems with this. 

1. A “voice like a trumpet” is not an actual trumpet.  The voice was LIKE, meaning that it alerted Him and called Him to attention the way a trumpet would. 

 2. This “voice like a trumpet” was/is obviously sounded in chapter four BEFORE the other trumpets where blown by the angels. 

 3.  The “voice like a trumpet” was not in any way the last of a succession of trumpets, nor is it the last trumpet in the Bible, nor is it the last trumpet of prophetic significance mentioned in scripture.  

Therefore, it is quite a stretch to say that the” last trumpet” mentioned by Paul could in any means be referring to the voice like a trumpet in Revelation 4.

 Major Points To Consider Regarding the Last Trumpet:

 Please read Revelation 11:15-19 and then consider these following points.  When the 7th Trumpet is sounded, several key events take place in heaven and on the earth.”

      1. The “Kingdoms of this World become our Lord and Saviors”  Not only are we told that there is a Kingdom transfer, but that “He shall reign for ever and ever.”

  1. The Elders break out into song praising saying:
    1. Jesus has taken His rightful power and “reigned” (the nations are angry at Him for this!)
    2. The time of wrath has come
    3. The time of the judgment for the dead has come
    4. The time for rewarding the servants of God has come
    5. He will destroy those that are currently destroying the earth

What happens here seems to clearly give us a time frame of events that occur when this trumpet is blown.  JESUS COMES BACK, defends Israel, pours out His wrath on the nations, judges the dead , rewards His saints, destroy the Anti-ChristKingdom.  BAM!   I’m going to get to see that day in spirit of flesh I know not, but I can’t wait.  This is also why Matthew 24:31 tells us He’s coming back “in power and great glory”

The Mystery of God Is Completed:

 Lastly, consider this.  Before events of the last trumpet are mentioned in Revelation 11, we first read about the 7th trumpet In Revelation 10:7.  It states this:

 “[…] but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.”

 Some believe that the mystery mentioned here that will be revealed at the 7th trumpet is simply what the seven thunders spoke in the previous verses.  Though that may true, why then would it be written to say, “as He declared to His servants(s) and the prophet(s)”?  It is plural.   As in , not just to John.  Paul actually talks about the, or a, Mystery of God several times throughout his letters.  Though that is a whole topic in and of itself, consider what He says in 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 and how it may apply.

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed

Could it be plausible that the mystery mentioned as being completed at the 7th Trumpet in Revelation has to do with this? Christ redeemed us to God through His death and resurrection, so that we might live forever with Him.  Yet different than the Greek thought of the day, they/we would not just live in spirit with God, but rather in the flesh on a physical earth once again.  This is part of the overall big mystery of the ages.  That God became a man and is still a man, though a glorified one.  That and the fact that we are told we will be like Him is part of this mystery. (1 Jon 3:2)  When we are changed at the last trumpet we are now able to inherit the Earth in a physical, spiritual body!  One that probably like Jesus could eat fish, and then walk through a wall and the fish wouldn’t fall out.  That is a mystery for sure 😉 

In conclusion, it does appear as if the rapture passages are referring to the same “Coming” of Jesus described in Matthew 24.  Not only that, but the events that happen at the last trumpet further indicate that the mystery of the rapture itself will be completed at the seventh trumpet when Jesus comes in glory to defeat His enemies and reigns in great glory and power on the earth.

The Kingdom Now Theology

Kingdom Now and Dominion Theology

What does the Bible really say about Jesus’ return? How many of us can say we have searched it out for ourselves? The Lord gave us an insurmountable quantity of scripture concerning His re-appearing, yet so many of us have never searched the Bible through on this topic ourselves. For those of you that have, fyi, I deeply respect you.
Unfortunately, though, what I have found is that many of us are very quick to buy into eschatology that has a more optimistic view because subconsciously it is what we want to hear. For some of us, its simply all we’ve ever known or heard preached so we’ve never thought twice to question it. I have seen this happen in the lives of many who embrace one of the two most pre-dominate views in the church world today. They both embrace a different aspect of a happier end… or at least what appears to be on the surface. This would be: The idea that we will skip the Tribulation in the secret rapture, or that life will continuously get better as we demonstrate the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Both views are more likable in our postmodern eyes than anything the early church fathers taught. It seems to me however, that throughout the New Testament and in the writings of the early church we read that their, “Blessed Hope”, was in the literal return of the Lord and the conclusion of His earthly kingdom. That understanding is what sustained them through immense tribulations. They LONGED for the actual man Christ Jesus to return. They missed Him, they loved Him, and they knew there was no peace without Him literally ruling and reigning on the earth.

In times past, I have been ever so eager to combat the traditional Pre-Tribulational theology that has been hailed in many American churches throughout the past century as the only right interpretation in the “prophetic circle”. But, now my heart has become more burdened regarding the fast growing theology of Dominionism, or more commonly known as the “Kingdom Now” theology. In recent years, it has found a welcoming in much of the Charismatic Church world. (Note to all who read, I consider myself a Charismatic/Pentecostal believer who believes in the full gifts of the spirit etc that does not mean that I embrace all that I’ve seen come out of the Charismatic movement).

Why This Theology Pervades This Young Generation

I have found that my generation has longed for the demonstration of the Kingdom of God in this world. We are craving for the “more”. We are on fire for the tangible presence of God in our midst and are after the supernatural lifestyle, right? My generation is tired of hypocrisy and a dead church not living in the authority we’re called to as sons and daughters of the Most High God. I get that too! We, myself included, are hungry for a real transformation of society that ushers in the presence of God unto the earth.

So WHY does my generation crave this? Why is it now more than ever that young people are seeking out this type of Christianity? My thought is that we have this craving in our hearts, placed there by God specifically for us, because we are the ones that are living in the Day of the Lord’s return. We are the generation that’s going to be known by our love, our persistence, our power, and authority etc…BUT all in the face of the darkest hour of history. The whole point of walking in the supernatural lifestyle and being a “carrier of the glory” etc is unto the Harvest that is to come in before the return of the Lord.

I do not believe that it’s due to us arriving in our identity in Christ and “being seated with Him in heavenly places” etc… Rather it is there to prepare us for mass martyrdom that is coming and to keep us loving and humble in the face of persecution. Our primary call next to loving Jesus well in this hour, is to stand by the Jews and Israel’s side in the face of international hatred. YES I REALLY BELIEVE THAT and that is scriptural.

It’s not like I woke up one morning choosing to believe this after hearing a few good sermons on the topic either. Nor have I come to this conclusion recently. I have made this conclusion based on my study of the Bible and many books over the last 10-15 years AND on personal revelation. I was eleven when I started having these questions and started watching prophecy teachers on TV. I was seventeen when I was up all night re-reading Daniel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Micah, and every New Testament passage concerning the return of the Lord again and again; especially the book of Revelation! This obsession was birthed not by my parents, church, or school, but by the Holy Spirit. No one taught this to me, but at a young age searched out the scriptures in addition to what many men of God had to say on the topic. Interestingly enough I was most impacted by the story of Corrie Ten Boom. She suffered for the sake of the Jews and Christ and it was in her sufferings that she learned more about truly being “Christ-like”.
As a result of what I mentioned above, I have come to burn inside with a message. A message unpopular to many, but one I believe the Lord placed within me that I need to share. So, please note that in this blog I am not trying to tear down any people personally. I honor and respect many who hold to this view, but I simple cannot agree with the view itself. What I am hoping to accomplish is a dismantling of beliefs that I feel are contrary teachings to the Word of God.

Why This Idea Is Theologically Problematic:

Consider with me if you will the below points often preached on by Kingdom Now theologians.
They espouse the idea that we as “co-laborers” with Christ are called to do as He did by:
1. Destroying the works of darkness in this world
2. Bringing heaven to earth
3. Taking back the earth and giving it to Him (Post-Millennial)

They also tend to emphasize and connect the Great Commission, of Matthew 28: 18-20 with the words spoken in Matthew 24:15. I’ve heard both verses mentioned together as if they were one verse actually.

The great commission is a command to make disciples…not a prophecy proving that we must disciple all nations before He can return. In the Great Commission Jesus was telling His disciples that it was now there assignment to go make other disciples in all the nations until He comes back. He also states here that He is with them “even unto the end of the age”. This is significant because Jesus refers many times to “This age”, and, “The age to come”. The, “Age to come” being another timeframe in which we will dwell.

In Matthew 24:14 where Jesus says, “14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come”. He is simply saying that all of the word will have the chance to hear the Gospel of Jesus. He will not come back until everyone has had a chance to respond to the Gospel. It is illogically to conclude that this verse is a prophecy concerning the salvation of the entire world, especially in context of this entire passage. I actually found myself chuckle unintentionally once when I heard this verse preached in reference to why Jesus could NOT return yet under the premise that the world is not fully “His Kingdom” yet. The reason being, (for the chuckle), is that verse 14 is sandwiched in the middle of a whole lot of information that in no means supports the A- or Post-millennial stance. Read it in context and notice what I put in bold.

3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences,and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. […]29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

So, obviously none of that fits a Christianized Earth does it? The Gospel being preached to all nations actually is one of the “Signs” of His return, surround by chaos.
Then there’s that time that Jesus Himself said in Luke 18:7-9When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?” That phrase, in addition to the parable of the “Wheat and Tares”, (Matthew 13: 24-20 & 36- 43) ‘The Dragnet” (Matthew 13:47-50), or the entirety of the “Olivet Discourse”, (Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13), etc contradict the vary idea of a Christianized Earth prior to His Return.

Let’s look at the explanation of the wheat and the tares. Matthew 13:30 & 36-43
30 […] Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”[…] “36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

If the tares and wheat are grown together, that means that the wheat won’t “overtake” the tares. It seems as if the righteous shine forth in the midst of the darkness growing alongside and within this movement of God.

Warnings About the Last Days Prove The Substantial Existence of Evil:

(1 Timothy. 4:1-2) The Great Apostasy
4 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer

(II Timothy 3: 2-5) Perilous Times and Perilous Men
3 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. […]10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus

What gets me here is the “Worse and worse” phrase…to preach a “better and better” doctrine, do I just delete this portion of the Bible?? I understand the principles of the “Kingdom Now” theology, only when applied to the “Already, But Not Yet” understanding.  In that we have a certain amount of acess to that which is to come.  We through Christ can tast and see part of our inheritance in Him…but to beleive it can be fully manifested now on the earth contradicts too much of the Bible…

 
Promises To Israel or To The Church?
Here is a key verse often trumpeted. Though to an extent because we are grafted in to the covenant with the Jews I agree that this may apply to us, however it was not originally a promise for the church, but for Israel. So I’m not sure how I feel about apply a promise to God’s convent people to us. Understanding God’s covenant with Israel is essential to understanding God’s heart concerning the Church. What’s also so interesting is that this passage is quoted to show how we’re blessed and “The head and not the tail” to God…but how often to we use this passage to describe the curse that falls unto the unbeliever for not obeying??? This is quite a curse for disobedience! Read the whole chapter in your own time and chew through that lol.

Deut. 28:12-13 12 The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13 And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.

If I understand that the Bible has always been Israeli-centric, than I’d have a better understanding concerning most of the verses in the Old Testament eluding to Kingdom of God on the Earth in Jerusalem as well.

For example, the passages in Isaiah 61 & 62. (Please stop here and read those passages). Are they for Israel of the church? The Kingdom Now believers say that WE are called to raise of the highways, and WE will receive double honor etc. But essentially this passage is telling us this:
1. The spirit of the Lord is on Jesus. He is THE ANNOINTED ONE that will fulfill verses 1-3.
2. “They” in verses 4-7 is the nation of Israel. This is why they are repairing all that was destroyed and instead of “confusion”, (turmoil has ALWAYS surrounded their land), they will possess double “In their land”.
3. JUSTICE is coming! Verse 8 the Lord states that He is bringing about justice through the restoration of the land of Israel.
4. Chapter 62 continues on the topic of ZION. It is for her, and for Jerusalem that God will not hold His peace!
5. Verses 2-9 are promises of future restoration
6. Verse 11 gives hope to the nation fought over their entire existence, saying “You’re salvation is coming! The Lord’s reward is with Him AND His work before Him. Meaning that He is returning with a reward for the faithful, while also have His work now laid out for Him in the restorative process that is needed in the land.
7. Finally in verse 12 we are told that they, Jerusalem is a “City not forsaken”. WHY? Because when we see Jerusalem surrounded by armies…(Matthew 24) we are to know our redemption is near. God will not forsake Zion! They are His covenant people and He will come on their behalf.

Not that I want to open a whole can of worms, but go ahead and read on into the prophetic words of Isaiah 63 and then all the way through Isaiah 66. SAME THEME. Please consider this, we just read all these wonderful prophetic words of hope over the nation of Israel, and then BOOM next it goes right into the topic of judgment. The same “Anointed One” in 61 and 62 is now covered in blood in 63 and, and in vengeance pouring out His wrath, during the “year of His redeemed” ( same time-frame). When’s the last time you have heard this message preached?? Throughout the rest of the book we’re told of these things:
1. The Hope of Zion
2. The Restoration of Zion
3. The Judgment of the Wicked

By the time we get to Isaiah 65: 17-25 the New Earth is being prophesied. What is also hilarious about this, is that in this new kingdom there is a sinner! Verse 20! That’s because when the Lord does come to set up His earthly reign literally on the earth, the whole world is NOT Christian! He loves us so much that though He throws the Anti-Christ and his kingdom out, He prolongs the life of the rest of the living until AFTER His millennial reign. He wants to give a chance to the rest who made it through that did not have allegiance to the Beast. (Zechariah 14:16 & Daniel 7:12). Hence, why He also must rule with a “Rod of Iron”,(Psalm 2:9 & Revelation 2:27).

Though there’s more I want to say, I will wrap this up with one additional thought.

WE NEED JUSTICE THAT WE CANNOT BRING.
JESUS IS THE ONLY ONE ABLE TO BRING ABOUT HOLY JUSTICE.
Why you ask? HE IS BOTH GOD AND MAN. He knows our frame being a man tempted in everyway as us, but He also is fully GOD and knows the deep matters of every person’s heart. We simply cannot rule as He can and judge the hearts of man because we are not fully God and fully Man. We are not “like Him” just yet. (1Cor. 15-whole chapter explains why we must put on immortality to be like him…and this happens at the last trumpet). This is why we need Jesus to come back. He is the ONLY ONE WORTHY to judge, and rule the earth. Maranatha

Daniel 7:13-14

I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.”

Poll Regarding the Return of the Lord…Please Take It!

To Whom Is He Coming As A Thief?

To Whom Is He Coming As A Thief?

In Paul’s letter to Timothy, chapter 6:11-16, he admonishes him to fight the good fight of faith in the understanding and context of the Lord’s return.   What I’d like you to especially take note of in this passage is verse 14b-15a.  Paul is saying that the Lord’s return will be made manifest in HIS OWN TIME.

11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, 15 which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.”

Though I fully believe that the Lord’s appearing will happen on His time clock and in His perfect timing…I completely embrace the idea that we are meant to KNOW THE APPROXIMENT TIMEFRAME of His coming and that we are TOLD ALL THE SIGNS OF HIS RETURN SO THAT WE MAY WATCH FOR THEM.

With that said, I’d now like to look at the common teaching regarding the phrase spoken by Jesus and Paul, “Thief in the Night”.    This phrase only appears 5 times in the New Testament; once in a parable recorded in Matthew 24 and Luke 12,  twice in reference to The Day Of the Lord (another blog topic), and twice as warnings to the “Church” in the book of Revelation.  Let us look at these verses now.

1 Thessalonians 5: 1-23

5 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.12 And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

Firstly, it is my understanding that the reason Paul says he did not need to write the times and seasons (verse 1), was due to their understanding already of the timeframe.  I have concluded in my studies that Paul seemed to spend A LOT of time in each of his letters talking about the return of Jesus and asked the believers to remember what he told them in person concerning the return of the Lord.  ( 2 Thessalonians 2:5, Jude 1:17-18).  Because of this, and the other commands through scripture to know the nearness of the Lord’s return, I do not believe Paul is stating here that we do not need to know the hour or season at all.  Quite the opposite, they were already being made very aware of all the signs to look for.  We will reviews those signs in another blog.

Also, key point in this passage is this: Paul clearly states that WE ARE NOT IN DARKNESS THAT THIS DAY SHOULD OVERTAKE US AS A THEIF.   How often is that preached?  We are commonly told that Jesus is coming in the rapture to snatch us away at any point in time.  This imminent return is taught on the basis of two phrases, “Thief in the Night” and “That Day and Hour” which we will review in a separate blog.   Yet here Paul says that we are of the day, not of the night…and the thief comes to those in/of the night.  He even continues to exhort the believers by giving them guidelines to live by that will keep them sober and watchful.  The entirety of this passage completely contradicts an imminent return if we as the light of the world not in darkness are the ones NOT to be surprised by His visit as if He worth a thief!

Why Compaired to Labor?

Let’s also look at the analogy used here in this passage regarding birth pangs. Verses 3.   When I was in labor my contractions started slowly, and farther apart…the closer the contractions got and the more intense they grew, the closer I knew I was to giving birth.  HOWEVER- when I started going into labor I had no idea exactly when the baby was coming…but I knew it would be roughly speaking a couple of hours.  For some labor is 3 hours, for me 15 hours lol.   So it is concerning the Day of the Lord.  Paul is simple re-iterating what Jesus had said concerning His second return coming like a woman in labor.  We’ll discuss this more when we review Matthew 24 and Luke 21.   My point being, giving birth does not happen instantaneously at all…it’s a long painful process and there are signs of the nearness of the birth.  WHY would this analogy be used in the Bible if this were pointing to an immanent rapture of the church, with Jesus coming at any point.  It just does not fit the comparison to a women in labor.

The Wrath of  Hell or the Tribulation?

In regards to verse 9 concerning us as the body of Christ not “Being Appointed Unto Wrath?”, let’s consider what is really being said here.  Paul says we are not appointed unto wrath, but RATHER SALVATION.  It’s illogical to conclude that this means skipping any trial or tribulation.  This is also why much of the persecuted church is not pre-tribulational in their theology.  They have experienced enough pain to realize this is talking about ETERNAL WRATH- not temporal tribulation coming to the earth or even the bowls of wrath described in Revelation. 

This verse is clearly saying that we are heirs of salvation through Christ Jesus who has appointed us to LIFE in HIM FOR ETERNITY VERSES WRATH IN HELL FOR ETERNITY.   This point is made even more clear when Paul expounds to say, “whether we wake or sleep”.  Meaning whether we live or die in the midst of all these things that will come to pass, we will live with Him forever because we are not appointed unto the wrath that would bring separation from God, but rather life with and in Him eternally.   He is telling them to be comforted in that…why? Because they’re afraid of all that was spoken of concerning the end times…so He says essentially, “Don’t worry…if they kill your body your soul will still live eternally with the Lord Jesus because we have obtained this great salvation through Him!” (my paraphrase).

For me, as a Christian, what am I now commanded to do until He comes? He gives a list of excellent advice that will keep the Christians’ heart pure, steadfast, and unafraid in the face of any trial or upcoming persecution.  He says:

  1. Rejoice Always (including in persecution…he tells them this now in light of the trials coming he’s referenced regarding the Day of the Lord. 2 Cor. 12:10, 2 Timothy 3:12)
  2. Pray Without Ceasing  (It is through communion with God we have understanding, peace, and intimacy needed especially during the great trials coming to the earth.)
  3. Give Thanks For Everything ( Otherwise be thankful even for whatever trail may come your way.  You have everlasting salvation in Christ Jesus!)
  4. Do Not Quench The Spirit (Be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit…because He leads us into all Truth, John 16:13, Ephesians 1:13-14, Ephesians 4:30)
  5. Do Not Despise Prophecies…( this may even specifically pertain to prophetic words spoken by old testament prophets.  Because the Jewish understanding was that Jesus would return to set up an earthy kingdom, no doubt some of Jesus’ followers were confused and offended that some of the prophecies they grew up looking for to be fulfilled by the messiah, where yet to be fulfilled.  They knew Jesus was messiah, but Jesus had still not fulfilled of the prophecies given.  Therefore, Paul is edifying them and saying don’t despise these prophecies concerning our Lord for they will come to pass in His time. Etc )
  6. Test All Things ( because as Paul states over and over again-deception abounds and more is coming in the “Great Falling Away” Luke 21:8, Romans 12:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:3,Colossians 2:8,2 2 Timothy 3:13, 1 Peter 3:17, )
  7. Hold Fast To That Which Is Good ( Phillipians 2:15-17, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2Timothy 1:13, Titus 1:9, Hebrews 3:6, and Revelation 3:3)
  8. Abstain from every form of evil.  (Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 1:13-15. This is so that their garments may be white and blameless unto the coming of the day of the Lord. Revelation 16:15 )

Ok, how about 2 Peter 3: 10-15?  If you can, please read the entire chapter.  Verse ten starts referencing the preceding verses etc.

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,”

To topic of the “Day of the Lord” is vast.  There is much debate regarding the timeframe of the Day of the Lord.  We’ll be reviewing that later on.  But the majority of those that teach Jesus is coming as a thief,  also teach the Day of the Lord as being the time period He pours out His wrath on the earth during a literally Tribulation.  However I’d like to point this out…Here Paul links this Day of the Lord with His coming and uses the word thief.  If the rapture is supposed to come as a thief in the night, how come here we’re told the heavens and earth will be burned up and pass away at this time?  This is something that happens at the end of the age, tribulation, Jacobs Trouble…whatever you chose to call it.  Biblically the renovation of the Earth occurs after the Lord’s final decent.   We’ll examine that more later…but for now consider this.  If the heaven are to melt etc that totally erases the possibility for this rapture to be silent and secret at a point in time that no one knows.   We can argue that it’s the “first phase” of the Day of the Lord, but there’s some big issues with that position as well when looking at the whole of scriptures.

Later Paul also says that we are to be looking forward to these things.  Why?  Because our hope is in the new heavens and the new earth that the Lord will rule over in righteousness.

To the Sober or Drunk?

Ok, let’s review.  So far we’ve been told the thief comes to those in darkness(believers or unbelievers), not the sober believers who are walking in the light; then we’re told that this coming as a thief happens when the heavens and earth are burned up.

Now I’d like to draw your attention to Revelation 3:1-3 where Jesus Himself is addressing one of the seven churches, Sardis.  In fact, the one often called, “The Dead Church”.  It is to this church specifically that He states,

These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.  Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.”

Here Jesus is encouraging this church to hold on to what they have, to strengthen themselves, repent, and WATCH.  To THEM, THE DEAD CHURCH, HE WILL COME AS A THEIF.

This makes it even more confusing if we believe that the term thief implies the rapture of the faithful church.  Because it is only to the dead church that He uses this term.  That fits exactly with what Paul to.  To those believers walking in drunkedness and darkenss will find themselves shocked at the appearing of our Lord.  NOT those faithful and sober minded concerning the times and seasons the Lord purposely has tried to prepare us for.

Then I find it ever more interesting the last place we hear about Jesus coming back as a thief is in Revelation 16: 15.  This is right after the 6th bowl of wrath is poured out…just before the seventh and final bowl/judgment of the Great Tribulation. For a dispensationalist, this creates a great problem.

15 “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”

Again the admonition given is to WATCH and keep ourselves pure. This is spoken toward the end of the Tribulation.   Why would Jesus STILL be telling us to watch for His coming in the midst of the outpouring of the bowels of wrath?  Sure we could say that He’s now speaking to those “Left Behind”…but really? Then we’d have to say that He was coming “secretly” as a thief twice…and His second return has some major earth shaking, literally, signs that accompany His very obvious return in which the whole world will see and know that He is back.  It causes lots of tricky explanations to believe this saying is anything but a warning to those not watching and prepared.

Parable of the Thief

Lastly let’s review the parable he told his disciples concerning a thief.  It is one of three given parables concerning the kingdom of God and His return to earth.

Matthew 24:43-51

45 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, My master is delaying his coming, 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 the master of that servant (the evil one) will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.

Verse 43 tells us that if the master of a household had known when the thief was coming, he would have WATCHED and NOT ALLOWED HIS HOUSE TO BE BROKEN INTO.   This is so important to understand because Jesus is saying that we are called to know what timeframe the Lord is coming.  Verse 45-47 shows us that a faithful and wise servant, the one who watches, will be made ruler over all of His masters good when He comes.   However, the one who is living in worldliness and has no idea of what season he’s living in, to him the master will come at a time when he is unaware.  He is unaware and oblivious to the coming of the Lord’s return because he is drunk.  He has no idea what time it is.   Luke 12:35-40 tells us the same thing.

In conclusion, is it fair to say that it is not obviously stated by Jesus or Paul that His coming as a thief is in relation to a secret rapture of the saints, prior to His return to rule and reign on the earth?  Does it seems more clear now that Jesus and Paul were using the analogy to caution the believers to watch and be sober so that they don’t find themselves unaware of His coming? I certainly hope so.

Why Does It Matter If I Believe Jesus Is Returning, or Not

Why Does It Matter If I Believe Jesus Is Returning, or Not?

Over the course of my life thus far, I have come to realize there are MANY differences within Christianity regarding the return of Jesus. Today there are predominately two main theologies concerning the return of Jesus. A-millennialism and Pre-Tribulation Pre-millennialism. I will attempt to address each of these beliefs in other blogs and state why I think they differ rather significantly from the eschatological understanding that I believe the early church fathers embraced.

In this blog I really want to just address the simple question I’ve heard over and over in many churches. WHY DOES IT MATTER?

At the age of eleven I became struck with the reality of the Lord’s return. Fifteen years later I still am. It is a burden that I have carried my entire life and one that I feel the need to share with others now. I love the Lord, I love the word of God, and I want nothing more than to serve Him in humility and love. So as I write these things know that the controversial issues I bring up I’m simply bringing up because I feel the church has been so harmed by doctrinal error and a lack of fully knowing the word of God in this area of study. I desire to encourage everyone to search out both Old and New Testament when it comes to the issue of Our Lord’s Return and the Kingdom of God. As one begins to study this topic, I believe that the Lord will speak and lead them into an understanding closer to what the early church had. However, we must approached this topic with an open heart and mind to clearly hear from the Lord about this issue.

 

It is my understanding that our developed or un-developed eschatology we embrace will effect how we live in the here and now. If I believe that Jesus is literally coming to rapture me at any moment, I will live a lot different than a person who believes that the return of Jesus doesn’t happen until I as His church bring about the Kingdom of God through Christianizing the whole world. One who also believes they are going to live through an actual, not symbolic, Tribulation will live their lives significantly different than the people holding the two other views previously mentioned. Will I live my life trying to win the lost at all cost knowing the time is short and He’s coming back? Or do I live my life trying to demonstrate the kingdom to bring revival to the whole world so that Jesus can come back? Or do I live life thinking I’m out of here before it gets too bad and I want to win people to Jesus so they don’t have to go through the tribulation? Does this makes sense? I can think of sooo many more examples than that, but I hope you get my point.

 

ALL THESE BELEIFS AFFECT US MORE THAN WE MAY REALIZE. THEY GOVERN HOW WE LIVE. Lets say you just find out you have cancer or another life threatening disease. In that situation you most likely would want to know what stage you’re in, what your survival odds are, and how to treat it; Right? You would situate your life differently if you knew there was a slim chance of survival passed two years or etc. You may start praying more, arrange finances differently or even change how you eat etc…However, if the cancer goes undetected because an examination was never given, you may never find out that you even had cancer. Then eventually you will die. In most situations, you would be unaware and unprepared for what was taking your very life. In like manner some of yours, mine, and our beliefs left unexamined or untouched for a long period of time may eventually kill us. Of course that’s an extreme comparison…maybe. Yet my point is that we need to examine and re-evaluate a lot of what we’re being fed based upon the revelation of others and start getting our own beliefs about Jesus’s return examined and formed ourselves. This comes through talking with Dr. Jesus, and reading His instructions…some of it may be hard to interpret just like most doctor’s notes are lol, but that’s where we look at the nurses explanation of the writing. The ones who worked with the doctor and have been around him more than us (AKA the disciples and early church fathers). Makes sense?

So, what did Jesus tell us about His return? Jesus told us His disciples and us that we are actually commanded to know the signs and nearness of His coming. Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21.

Did you know that for every one verse there is about His first coming to earth there are TWO about His second return? Jesus gave us many signs and many parables so that we would know and be aware of the signs for a reason. Paul wrote many letters teaching about the return of the Lord specifically. So much of the New Testament was actually devoted to teaching the body of Christ to understand and be prepared for the return of the Lord. The book of Revelation even leaves a blessing to all who read it specifically.

Revelation 1:1-3 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near

 

This is an important topic on the Lord’s heart otherwise the Word of God would not talk so much about it. It is our responsibility to search out the scripture concerning the Lord’s return and say in agreement with the early apostles, MARANATHA- COME LORD JESUS (1 Corinthians 16: 22, Revelation 22:20)

So, let’s start looking through some scriptures. What happens at Christ Ascension? Acts 1:9-11

9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Jesus had already given his disciples many parables concerning, “the Kingdom of God”, ( an up and coming blog…the “already but not yet kingdom), and the signs of His return. This event was just yet another sign and confirmation given to the disciples to inform them that in the same manner as He left earth, LITERALY IN THE FLESH ON A CLOUD….So would He RETURN LITERALLY IN THE FLESH ON A CLOUD TO EARTH.

Here are a few more verses that speak of His return in the clouds. Daniel 7:13, Matthew 24:30, Matthew 26:64, mark 13:26, Mark 14:62, Luke 21:27, 1 Thess. 4:17, Revelation 1:7.

Ok, now let’s look at what’s told to the early church all throughout the Pauline Letters. The Apostle Paul specifically warns the believers to be “watchful”, and “sober”, so that they would not be deceived. He is also consistently pointing them to a special “HOPE” and “FUTERISTIC EVENT” in time. In everything that they do they are encouraged to stay true to the teachings of Jesus while looking for the appearing of the Lord.

Here are just a few of the verses for now that show us this truth…

When they took communion they were told…

1 Corinthians 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

What is our Blessed Hope? Titus 2: 11-14

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

Notice here the term, “Present Age”. Jesus also spoke of ‘This age”, and the, “Age to Come” in the Gospels Matthew 12:32, Matthew 13:49, Mark 10:30, Luke 18:30. Paul continued the dialogue in 1 Cor. 10:11, Ephesians 1:21, 2:27, Hebrews 6:5.

Paul is also writing this letter AFTER JESUS’S ACCENSION. This is Paul saying that the church age he was living in at the time was not the age of the Kingdom of God manifested on the earth. He is telling the Christians to look for the hope that comes in the return of Jesus. This age we live in on the earth is NOT all there is. So much of the Old Testament prophecies are yet to be fulfilled. When Jesus comes He will put ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET. DEATH, TEARS, PAIN etc …

You see our hope is that JUSTICE IS COMING. Christianity is not solely just to demonstrate our God’s grace, love, power etc through us weak humans on this earth. It’s not just to help us have a better life and go live with Him when we die. It’s actually being the hands and feet of Jesus UNTIL HE COMES…POINTING OTHERS TO THE DAY OF THE LORD’s RETURN WHEN HE WILL MAKE ALL THINGS RIGHT. (Another blog another day lol) .

 

In regards to our hope in the resurrection of the dead and the Lord’s return to Earth he writes…1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

We are actually exhorted here to comfort each other in the above words. Our promise and hope is actually in a new earth with king Jesus who will reign over all! This is something we are told to wait for and eagerly anticipate! Paul reiterates this in 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 50-58. That passage is lengthy and has a little bit more of a timetable attached to it so we will look through it in a separate blog. But essentially it ends stating:

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”55 “O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Our labor is not in vain because we are working for a kingdom that is unshakable, unstoppable and imperishable. However, this is a Kingdom that God and God alone brings on His timetable, not necessarily ours. There are signs and events that do need to take place before we will see this kingdom come.

Lastly, let’s look breifly at 1 Peter 3:3-18.

3 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us,[a] the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

Here we are warned that we need to look at how we are living in the knowledge of the Day of the Lord’s return. We also need to be careful as believers to not become one of the scoffers denying an actual return of Jesus in the flesh. Paul is asking us to LOOK FOR this day when Jesus will come and bring complete restoration to the Earth. The rest of this passage concerning the “Thief in the Night” will be looked at in the next blog…

 

SO, in wrapping up this blog for now, I hope that all the above passages have laid a basic foundation showing that the Bible teaches an actual, literal, return of Christ Jesus to the earth. It is then that He sets up an actual kingdom (later to be examined in more detail).

Though there is so much more to be said about that, let’s just use this as starting grounds for this vast topic…

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