O Lord, How Long?

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It’s almost too much to bear. I want to do more; I want to do so much more but I do not even know where to start.

I hear about the evils of the horrific sex trafficking and wonder now how people can be so wicked. And yet, this practice (undoubtedly inspired by demons) rakes in untold billions of dollars every year as pedophilia becomes more and more accepted in our society, much in the same way homosexuality became increasingly accepted decades earlier.

A year or two ago I watched videos of Planned Parenthood executives boasting about the dismembering and selling of baby parts and thought, “Surely Congress will take action against this atrocity.” Instead, I watched as leaders of the Republican Party supported the continued funding of this vile organization with our tax money. A couple weeks ago, I saw Democratic Senators celebrate the defeat of a bill that would have at least stopped the wicked practice of abortion after twenty weeks. How can these things be?

I delayed posting this article because of the Florida school shooting.  My heart grieves for the families who lost loved ones and for the students who are scarred with memories of that day. Senseless and brutal killing fill our world in the horrors of abortion clinics, in the churches of Nigeria, Egypt, and Sutherland Texas, and with the nonstop killing propagated by terrorists throughout our world. And now, even in our schools.

So I write for the few that will read my ramblings, I pray for the Lord to intervene, I look to what Scripture says about the last days, and I wonder, “How long?” Is this not what the Lord said would happen before His return?

Perilous Times

I like the New King James Version reading of 2 Timothy 3:1, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.” Then the Apostle Paul goes on to describe the people of the last days as “heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:3-4, ESV).

For all the evils I listed above to become so prevalent in our world, these things must characterize many people, do they not? For those involved in the sex trade, do they not need to be “brutal” and “treacherous” to say nothing of the strong demonic influence over them? Absolutely! Do these traits not also describe the doctors at Planned Parenthood who spend their days torturing and murdering precious little bundles of life?

The problem of violence in our world is a heart and spiritual one. The rejection of Jesus and His words has opened the door for increased violence and demonic activity. It will only get worse as our society turns more and more away from the promises of our Savior and continues to see life as a product of godless evolution rather than as a gift from God to be valued and cherished.

What Is the End of All This?

When I look at the evils and violence in our world I feel much like Habakkuk when he voiced this complaint to the Lord regarding ancient Judah, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence’ and you will not save?”

The Lord’s response to the prophet was basically this; He saw what was happening in Judah during the time of the prophet and would respond appropriately to the all the wickedness and violence.

God later gave Habakkuk a vision that I believe also applies to the Lord’s still future outpouring of His wrath upon sinful humanity. The Lord said this about what He would show to the prophet, “For still the vision awaits it appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay” (Hab. 2:3). In other words, God would have the last word on things then, He will have the last word on all the evils that is happening in our world today.

To me, at times the Lord seems rather slow to respond to the wickedness and violence in our world, but I know His day is surely coming.  In the meantime, the Lord is graciously giving time for believers to wake up and watch for His coming and for those outside the faith to repent and become heirs of eternal life.

Back in the 1970’s as I read God’s judgments in the book of Revelation, I wondered what would cause the Lord to be so angry with humanity as to pour out His wrath in such a great and terrible way. As I look at the world around me today, that question no longer enters my mind.

Instead, I ask the same question that the Psalmist asked, “O Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exalt?” (Psalm 94:3).

It’s not that I desire for God’s judgments to fall or for people to suffer; I do not wish these things on anyone. What I desire is justice for those who cruelly and viciously murder the unborn and for those who engage in all aspects of the vile behavior associated with sex trafficking.

The Lord will have the last word on all these things; count on it!

Scripture tells me two things in this regard. First, God will respond to the wickedness and violence in this world. Someday, perhaps soon, the Lord will have the last word on all these things. Count on it! And when He does they will wish they had never been born.

Second, many prophetic signs indicate that the day when the Lord pours out His wrath on sinful humanity is rapidly approaching. However, this day is being held back only by the Lord’s patience to give as many people as possible more time to repent. Jesus said earth at the time of His return would be like the days of Noah (Matt. 24:37-39). That was another time when God saw that “the earth was filled with violence” (Gen. 6:11). Does this not also sound like today?

Just as He intervened in the days of Noah, He will do so again. Please do not be like the scoffers of 2 Peter 3:3-9. Recognize the reason for His delay and watch!

I am thankful for the Lord’s patience with me and with humanity, but still I ask, “O Lord, how long?’

 

Shipwrecked!

Shipwrecked Cover

The above picture is what my first book will look like when Bold Vision Books publishes it sometime this spring, possibly as early as March.

Shipwrecked! is about learning from the mistakes of several Bible bad guys.

Life rarely goes as we expect. That’s why it’s so important that we learn to walk with the Lord and trust our loving heavenly Father before things go awry. Life caught several of our Bible bad guys “off guard” and instead of looking to God in faith, they turned away from Him and made terrible decisions. As we examine their lives, we learn how we can avoid their errant choices.

The last character in the book is John Mark. From him we learn that failure does not have to be the last chapter in our lives. John Mark overcame an early failure in ministry to be greatly used of God.

So that the readers of Shipwrecked! can easily find me, I am going to start using my name rather than “Eternity Versus the Moment” for my blog. The e-mails you receive from this blog will appear to come from me once this change is in place.

But don’t worry, while you may see a few posts about these Bible bad guys in the coming weeks, the emphasis of my blog will remain focused on eternity and our amazing and joyous hope of spending eternity with our Savior! We will be forever young!

I am excited about Shipwrecked! It’s my prayer that many will grow in their walk with the Lord as a result of reading this book and that several others will come to saving faith in Jesus.

Thank you all for your support and for following my blog!

Maranatha!!!

 

Forever Young, Forever Whole

Clock with no hands (2)

“Who is this guy with the wrinkles and droopy skin?” I asked myself as I stretched in front of a mirror at the gym (in a room with lights that revealed everything!). I looked every bit my age and for a moment I felt depressed.

Then I remembered Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” I think this is becoming one of my favorite verses! Even as believers, we have so much more to hope for than what this world can offer us even in the best of circumstances.

A little later in the chapter the apostle expanded upon our spectacular hope in verses 51-53, “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”

Forever Young

In 1 Corinthians 15:42-55, the apostle describes our new future bodies that we will receive when Jesus comes for us, His true church. Whether we have died in Christ or remain alive in Him at the time, our hope is the same. Jesus will change our bodies into wondrously imperishable and immortal ones. They will last forever no longer subject to the rigors of the clock.

Gone will be all the signs of aging I saw staring back at me in the mirror that day. I believe Christ will restore our bodies to what we looked like in early adulthood. He will not only erase all the signs of aging, but also all the scars and physical infirmities we have incurred during the course of our lives. We will have bodies like Jesus’ glorious resurrected body.

This means no more flu! This has been a particularly awful season for flu and a host of other sicknesses. Most people have either gotten sick with the flu or know someone they love who has succumbed to it. The good news about our new bodies is they will never again suffer with any sickness or infirmity.

Forever Whole

In a post last week, I quoted John Eldredge as saying this, “We are all traumatized and fragmented; no one passes through this vale of tears without it. And our Healer will make us whole again. . . . Think of it—to be whole hearted. To be filled with goodness from head to toe. To have an inner glory that matches the glory of your new body . . . .”[i]

Along with our glorious bodies, Jesus will also give us an inner wholeness or soundness such as we have never experienced.  Think of it, absolute and total emotional, spiritual, and mental wholeness! Total wellness from head to toe, inside and outside!

In Revelation 21:4-5 we read, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” Death, tears, and sorrow will all be things of the past.

In eternity we will be free from the presence of sin and all its ravages that have wreaked havoc in our lives on earth in one way or another. We will be complete experiencing sinless perfection throughout our being.

As a young pastor many years ago, I suffered greatly as the result of the actions of others along with my own foolish mistakes. It took a long time for the Lord to perform His healing work on the all the wounds stemming from those years of brokenness.

Although the Lord has restored my life and healed past wounds in truly miraculous ways, I still identify with Eldredge’s words regarding the trauma and fragmentation we all feel to some extent even as beloved children of God. I long for the complete wholeness that Jesus will give me someday in the resurrection!

Like a clock with no hands, time will no longer matter to us. We will be free from all its limitations!

Forever young, forever whole! Can you understand why Paul said that if our hope resides solely in this life “we are of all people most to be pitied?” If this life is all we have, we would have no hope at all.

However, when we look at what the Lord promises us, is not our expectation of eternal joy more than we can fully grasp in this life?

Like a clock with no hands, time will no longer matter to us. We will be free from all its limitations!

Spend some time today trying to imagine what your future life will be like without any of the ravages of sickness, aging, and emotional brokenness. What will your life be like with an imperishable body free from all the constraints of time?

 

[i] John Eldredge, All Things New (Nashville: Nelson books, 2017), p. 86.

 

We Are Summoning Up Demons

Sophia

(Below is an article written by Jan Markell about artificial intelligence [AI]. As Jan explains, AI is not something that is coming in the future; it is here now and developing far more quickly than even its founders imagined. Many of them are sounding the alarm about it. Is this setting the stage for the tribulation? How far will God let this go?

The Billy Crone videos mentioned later in the article are long, but quite fascinating, informative, and well worth the time.)

I started watching videos online of robots who look human and who “think.” They answer questions and seem to process real thoughts. Developers of these robots say someday they will solve society’s problems. Such men also believe that it is possible for artificial intelligence to be a billion times smarter than humans. Try to process that!

Various leaders in the field of “AI” have made some of the following statements:

  • “The human era could be ending and machines will take over.”
  • “He who develops AI rules the world. We aren’t going to be able to control it.”
  • “We are summoning up demons.”
  • “We are playing with fire.”
  • “This is one of the dumbest things we can do.”
  • “Soon robots will walk among us. They will play with us, teach us, and they will truly be our friends.”
  • “AI will be smarter than humans and will become a god.”
  • “AI could become the worst event in the history of civilization.”
  • “In the end, the machines will win.”

Maybe this new religion isn’t the promise of paradise after all. Some promoting AI are evangelists and some of them offer a new Promised Land. But some of the very movers and shakers of the artificial intelligence industry are sounding serious warnings.

This is really not the wave of the future as it is all being employed now! Outfits like Google have every bit of information on us they need: Address, e-mail, occupation, history, photos, our family, our interests, our searches. Simply stated, they have all our vitals.

So how will this play into Antichrist’s agenda? Will this manage all buying and selling? We want tech companies to work for us but we end up fitting into their plans and purposes! Dare I say, we are almost their useful idiots.

We’re all aware of the biblical prophecy found in Daniel 12:4 that knowledge will increase in the last days. But machines smarter than people? Surely God would never allow that to happen. He created mankind in His image and He didn’t create them to be superseded by computer chips. That is not stopping man from trying!

In 1948 there was a milestone event as it concerns “signs of the times.” That was the re-birth of Israel 70 years ago. Are we in the generation of a more current sign that could involve end-time technology, the “image of the beast,” “mark of the beast”, etc? Could this wave of technology be as relevant as the stirring of the dry bones? We look at that 1948 happening in a rear-view mirror. Technology is a 21st century fulfillment.

Viewing one now-famous robot, Sophia, is a bit unnerving. YouTube loves to feature her and has introduced her to millions. She is attractive, clothed, looks you in the eye, and answers your questions. She can be your friend, companion, problem solver, and perhaps someday, your spouse. At the very least, she will run your errands and put away your groceries. In the wrong hands, she will be dangerous.

Young people are particularly drawn to artificial intelligence. Some will tell you that they can get an answer more quickly from Google or Alexa than they can from God. Who needs God in an age of artificial intelligence? Who needs an invisible God? And Google or Alexa may tell you what you want to hear in Technicolor, 3-D, and instantaneously! Don’t brush this off as silliness. It’s our world today. Welcome to the brave new world.

Google admits that they want to be like the mind of God and suggests we will be “godlike.” They are grabbing bundles of data from us. There is a “home invasion” going on by the world of technology. If you think you have privacy, think again! We are being monitored and this is not crazy talk. It is not sensationalism. It is not kooky conspiracy language.

The world of “Big Brother” exists and will be in full bloom during the Tribulation from which the Church is absent. And as I quoted above, an inventor admits, “This is one of the dumbest things we can do.” It has a very dark side.

In late January I featured artificial intelligence expert Pastor Billy Crone on air for a two-week series on AI. You can access the programs from January 20-21 and January 27-28 here or here.

You may not be skilled in technology and you may think this doesn’t affect your life but it does. And it’s a guarantee that younger people in your world are captivated by all of this.

Things are falling into place.

AI cannot speak anything into existence or give anyone eternal life. It cannot give anyone comfort, guidance, or offer anyone peace or hope. It cannot still the wind or calm the sea. It is more like Frankenstein than like God. It is trying to be like God but will fall far short! We are fearfully and wonderfully made. AI is fearfully fraudulent.

Stay ahead of the game and become informed. Events of the Tribulation are casting a shadow today. The shout and the trumpet are close. He is coming soon! God sits in the Heavens and laughs at these people (Psalm 2).He will allow them a short season of notoriety and then will crush the evil doers at His Second Coming.

The Renewal of All Things

Animals

What will our lives look like when Jesus establishes His kingdom over all the earth? What will the coming renewed creation look like? Can we even imagine what it will be like for the Lord to make us completely whole in our bodies, spirits, and souls?

John Eldredge, in his latest book All Things New, seeks to answer questions such as these. He focuses on passages such as Matthew 19:28-29 and Revelation 21:1-5 that point to the wondrous and joyous renewal Jesus promises for all who know Him.

You might think it strange I would recommend a book that ignores the rapture and the tribulation (as he does) and settles for a singular purpose of encouraging believers regarding their eternal hope in Christ’s coming kingdom. I admit, at first I was a bit leery about the book since I am passionate about all of these things.

Yet, his wondrously comforting and hopeful message continually warms and excites my heart. At a time when many popular Christian authors deny the reality of Jesus’ kingdom and pastors preach about the Gospel without even mentioning eternity, John Eldredge’s book seems like a breath of fresh air to me. He unashamedly tells of the grandeurs and wonders that await us when Jesus’ kingdom arrives.

The author takes us beyond the woes and disappointments of this world by first concentrating on the renewal of all creation.

Renewal of Creation

John Eldredge writes about the renewal of creation as only a avid lover of nature could do. Throughout this section of the book, Eldredge lets his imagination run wild as he contemplates the wonders of the new earth. Here is a sample:

        What will waterfalls be like in the new earth? What of the giant sequoias or tender wildflowers? What will rain be like? And think of your special places; imagine what it will be like to see them in their glory. How sweet it will be to revisit treasured nooks and vistas, gardens and swimming holes again, see them as they truly “are” unveiled, everything God meant them to be. Part of what makes the wonder so precious is that while it is a “new” world, it is our world, the world dearest to our hearts, romance at its best.[i]

Imagine our increased enjoyment of the Rocky Mountains, for example, in bodies that will never wear out or grow weary!

Let your imaginations run free as well about the wonders ahead for us! Maybe we will walk among giraffes and other large animals. I would love that!

Forever Young and Whole

When Eldredge writes of our restoration, he goes beyond the immortal and imperishable bodies we will receive when Jesus comes for us (see 1 Cor. 15:50-55). He puts it this way in describing how we will be forever young, “Death is utterly swept away at the Great Restoration. And not only death, but every other form of sorrow, assault, illness, and harm we’ve ever known. You will be completely renewed—body, soul, and spirit.”[ii]

Did you catch that? It will not just be our bodies that will be completely restored and better than ever, but absolutely everything about us!

Eldredge goes far beyond our future immortal bodies to show how the renewal will encompass all the broken places and lingering wounds in our hearts.  There is so much more to our restoration than just the physical aspect.

Eldredge writes, “We are all traumatized and fragmented; no one passes through this vale of tears without it. And our Healer will make us whole again. . . . Think of—to be whole hearted. To be filled with goodness from head to toe. To have an inner glory that matches the glory of your new body . . . .”[iii]

Can you imagine what that will be like? I am not sure I can.

In Jesus’ kingdom, we will be made completely whole. All the things we struggle with on earth, all our fears, the anger, and resentment, Jesus will wondrously and forever remove. Think of it! Again John writes, “What tender intimacy is foretold when we are promised that our loving Father will wipe every tear from our eyes personally—not only tears of sorrow, but all the tears of shame, guilt, and remorse. That moment alone will make the whole journey worth it.”[iv]

As followers of Jesus, we possess an amazing future, a wondrous and joyous eternity. The heartbreaks, disappointments, and sorrows of this present world are temporal and fleeting. In eternity, Jesus will make all things new in our world including our souls, minds, and hearts.

It’s no wonder Satan does all he can to keep our focus on this life. Our enemy knows how a proper two-world perspective motivates us to live for our Savior. If he can keep us looking for joy solely in this life, he steals the joy and overwhelming comfort that comes from focusing our hearts on what Jesus promises us after this life.

C.S. Lewis aptly summed up our disconnect between this life and our coming eternal holiday in Jesus’ kingdom this way,

“Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”[v]

I feel the same pull C.S. alludes to, that of elevating the things we see above unseen and eternal realities. However, as followers of Christ we look forward to a wondrous and joyous kingdom in which the Lord will restore creation to its original glory and make us completely whole in our body, spirit, and soul. What a day that will be!! It will be like a “holiday at the sea,” although I would prefer a lengthy stay at a remote mountain cabin alongside a cool flowing stream.

 

[i] John Eldredge, All Things New (Nashville: Nelson books, 2017), p. 69.

[ii] Ibid. p. 86

[iii]Ibid., pp. 93-94

[iv] Ibid., p. 95

[v] C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York: Touchstone, 1975). p. 26.

Author, Speaker, and Teacher

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I have been posting articles on this blog for over a year and a half and have not really introduced myself (unless one has in the past gone to the “Who and Why” page and scrolled way to the bottom). Of the 232 followers on this blog, probably about 30 are friends and family so most of you do not know much about me.

So, allow me to finally introduce myself. My name is Jonathan Brentner and I am a writer, Bible teacher at my church, a hopeful speaker, and a blogger (as you well know).

My interest in writing started during my six years as a senior pastor when I had the opportunity to write adult Sunday school curriculum for David C. Cook. That was the summer of 1984 and I still produce Bible lessons for them.

When painful circumstances led to a change of careers after six years as a pastor, I returned to school to pursue an MBA degree with an emphasis in accounting and Finance. I graduated with the degree in 1990 and worked my way up to a position as a Senior Financial Analyst at the company where I worked.

After over twenty years in that career, I retired in June of 2016 to pursue my passion for writing on a full-time basis.

My first book, Shipwrecked! Learning from the Bible Bad Guys, is due for publication by Bold Vision Books sometime in the early spring of 2018.

Like the characters in Shipwrecked!, life often does not turn out as we hope or plan. The guys in this book all knew about God, but chose to give in to their feelings of anger, bitterness, and resentment rather than look to the Lord in their distress. As a result, life did not end well for most of them.

I learned many of these lessons the hard way. When painful circumstances overwhelmed me as a pastor, I became angry with God and desired to run far away from Him and other believers.

During this time, however, God intervened and I began to see that the Lord was not a vending machine who gives us expected results in return for our good behavior. He is rather a personable God who desires we walk with Him in faith even when our lives, at least for the moment, seem to be a disaster. I found along with John Mark, the final character in Shipwrecked!, that failure does not need to be the final chapter in our lives.

 

In addition to my writing and teaching, I lead a small group from our church made up of wonderful people that meet each Thursday night in our home.

I live in North Liberty, Iowa with my charming wife Ruth. Together we have five children and ten grandchildren scattered about Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Texas.

Jesus, Hatred, and the Last Days

Ten Commandments Arkansas
The new Ten Commandments monument outside the state Capitol in Little Rock, Arkansas after someone crashed into it with a vehicle.

Did you know that hatred is a sign of the last days?

In Matthew 24:9-10 Jesus said this, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.” Amidst all the other signs of which we are so familiar, Jesus lists hatred, particularly against His followers, as an indication of the end times.

Today, see hatred everywhere in our world. Opponents of Christianity killed an estimated 90,000 believers in 2016 and opposition to our faith has not diminished since then. Anti-Semitism is epidemic across Europe that has led to many Jews fearing for their lives, especially in France.

The apostle Paul, in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, describes the godlessness of the last days. Although he does not use the word hatred, he aptly describes the divisive, angry, and intolerable culture of our day.

It Begins with Arrogance

The hatred we see permeating our society starts in the heart. William Barclay, famous New Testament commentator, put it this way, “But the sin of the man who is arrogant is in his heart. He might even seem to be humble; but in his secret heart there is contempt for everyone else. He nourishes an all-consuming, all-pervading pride; and in his heart there is a little altar where he bows down before himself.”

Does not Barclay’s definition of one who is arrogant (2 Tim. 3:2) capture what we are seeing today? It’s not enough to have an opinion, but today it so often comes with spiteful “contempt” for all those who disagree. It’s this pride that leads so many to ridicule opinions of which they disagree.

The craft of making a well-reasoned case to support one’s point of view has degenerated into the art of personally destroying one’s political opponent. Arrogance breeds a sense that “of course those who think differently than me cannot be right; therefore I am justified in using whatever means necessary to destroy my opponent.” It’s all about the politics of personal destruction at the expense of truth.

Abusive and Slanderous

The next word in Paul’s list after “arrogant” is “abusive.” This word denotes someone who insults God as well as other men and women. It’s the verbal expression of contempt that begins in the heart of one who is arrogant that finds its expression in slandering the good name of others.

The most common derogatory label today is “racism.” If someone does not agree with this person’s point of view, he or she must be a “racist” or a “bigot’ or possess some dark and evil phobia. Political victories today are often measured in one’s ability to convince the majority that one’s opponent is a racist, even if you must lie about what was said behind closed doors or twist words to make ones opponent appear to hate others.

Did I mention that Paul also used the word “brutal” to describe people living in the last days?

In verse 3, the apostle depicts people during the last days as “slanderous.” We live in a day where false accusations are the norm rather than the exception. A recent news article told of one attorney who sought to give large sums of money to women who would accuse President Trump of sexual harassment or worse.

Daymond Duck, one of my favorite writers on the Rapture Ready website, said this, “Sexual harassment and racism are definitely wrong, but character assassination to silence a person that someone disagrees with is also wrong. Slandering people, ruining their reputation, calling them names, and getting them fired is not of God.”

How Should we Respond?

First, I believe our response must be one of respect for the opinions of others. Just because we vehemently disagree with someone does not mean we cannot value their opinions or ideas. It’s sometimes difficult for me to argue my case without getting carried away, but I must remember that I can be confident of what I believe without impugning the intelligence of others.

Secondly, we must understand the times in which we live. We are living in the last days of human history as we know them; the dark days of the tribulation are rapidly approaching. What we see in our world is precisely what the Lord Jesus said would happen during this time; it should not surprise us.

Our focus must be on bringing others to the Savior rather than convincing them of our political agenda. I have reached the conclusion that I really do not care what others think of President Trump. What matters is drawing people to the Savior, not to my assessment of the President.

And lastly, there is the aspect of humility. This does not mean compromising beliefs or telling someone they may be right when what they believe contradicts Scripture. For me, it starts with recognizing that the source of truth is not in me or even in my ability to recognize it. It starts with Jesus, my risen Savior. He said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” and rose from the dead to prove that His words, His claims are true.

The beliefs that I cherish start with Scripture and my confidence does not come from my abilities to reason or debate but from Jesus and what the Lord reveals through His word.

Yes, the world will hate followers of Christ for our beliefs on abortion, same sex marriage, gender identification, Islam, and the like, but such hatred is exactly what Jesus said would happen, especially in the last days before His return to earth.

What I see in the world around me saddens my heart. People are becoming increasingly vicious and cruel in their blasphemy of both Christ and His followers. But I also know a much better day is coming with Jesus’ peace and righteousness will reign supreme over the entire world.

Maranatha!!

Prophetic Rumblings 2018

The post below is by Terry James who is an author, speaker, and co-administrator of the Rapture Ready website. I thought you might enjoy his thoughts on the year ahead.

Terry James Prophecy Line

The Devil at 4 O’Clock is a 1961 movie starring Frank Sinatra and Spencer Tracy. It involves three prisoners who are brought to an island in the South Pacific. The prisoners are to help evacuate a colony of children with leprosy from the island, which is on the verge of exploding because it is one enormous volcano.

The ground quakes constantly. Ominous rumbling in the background makes clear the urgency to evacuate. All on the island are doomed who are not removed in time.

This is one of my favorite movies. I have thought about it over the years, have even included it in writing these commentaries and in books. The analogy can’t be missed. Planet earth is a volcanic island in the vast sea of the cosmos. Rumblings that are increasing and the quaking that is being felt makes the diligent student of Bible prophecy from the Pre-Trib perspective…

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Outliers, the Church, and the Rapture

Seagulls

As 2018 begins, I feel like an outlier. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines an outlier as “any person or thing that lies, dwells, exists, etc. away from the main body or expected place.”  In statistics, it represents an observation that significantly differs from all others.

This feeling of being an outlier comes from so many in the church today who regard anyone who is watching for Jesus’ return as being out of the mainstream. Even pastors who say they believe in the rapture rarely, if ever, mention it in their sermons. Several popular Christian authors and teachers today do not even believe that Jesus is coming anytime soon for His church or that there will even be a time of great tribulation on the earth as described in the book of Revelation.

What we hear instead of watchfulness for Jesus’ appearing is that the church must be about fulfilling the Great Commission as though that excludes all teaching about the rapture, the coming tribulation, the Second Coming, or the millennial kingdom.

I believe Jesus regarded His command to preach the Gospel as inseparably intertwined with watchfulness for His return. Let me explain why.

What Does the Great Commission Tell Us to Do?

Let me be clear, I absolutely agree that the church should be about fulfilling the Great Commission. It’s of utmost importance that we use our gifts and resources to take the Gospel to those who have not heard the good news of salvation. Teaching and building up other believers is an essential element of this as is going to other cultures or nations.

As Jesus stated in Matthew 28:20, “teaching” is also a key aspect of the Great Commission. Specifically, He said that we should instruct new disciples “to observe all that I have commanded you.” We fulfill the Great Commission when we help build others up in the faith through teaching them to obey Jesus and His words.

This is where I begin to sense that I am an outlier.  I often get the sense that while it’s okay for me to teach and write about future things, this has nothing to do with fulfilling Jesus’ commission to His church. Eschatology is something reserved for the seasoned believers, aka old ones, and pertains little to what is truly important in following Jesus. I could not disagree more!

What Did Jesus Command Us to Do?

Does Jesus’ instruction for us to teach all that He “commanded” exclude watchfulness for His return or should it be an essential part of what we teach in this regard? I believe it is the latter.

In Matthew 24:44 Jesus said, “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” A little later He added this, “Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matt. 25:13). In Matthew 24 and 25, Jesus not only commanded His disciples to be watchful and ready for His return but told two parables to emphasize His point. This was not something extraneous or unimportant to Him. Jesus spent considerable time telling His disciples to watch for His return.

Many assume that Jesus is talking about the Second Coming here, but that event does not fit with His commands for readiness and watchfulness. The Second Coming occurs after the tribulation and more specifically, three and half years after the antichrist defiles the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Why would Jesus encourage watchfulness for an event that could not happen until several other things took place?

Jesus’ emphasis suggests that His return could happen at any moment, which coincides with the rapture, but not with the Second Coming.

The Lord modeled an emphasis on eternity in His teaching.  He repeatedly stressed our hope of eternal life and promised to “raise up” those who believed in “the last day” (John 6:40). Martha, in her conversation with Jesus regarding the death of her brother Lazarus, displayed a certainly in a future resurrection that came from listening to Jesus teach (John 11:24).

The “kingdom” of which Jesus proclaimed consisted of both spiritual and future physical components. In Matthew 19:28-29 the Lord said this about His kingdom, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”

Central to Jesus’ teaching was a physical kingdom where His followers would receive physical rewards for their faithfulness. His kingdom signified a time of renewal “of all things,” which certainly includes the physical world around us and the time when we as His followers will “inherit eternal life.” The kingdom that Jesus proclaimed throughout His time on earth included a physical “renewal of all things” such is what the apostle Paul talked about in Romans 8:18-25.

This hope carried over into the rest of the New Testament as the apostles repeatedly described believers as eagerly awaiting the appearing of the Lord (see Phil. 3:20-21; Titus 2:11-13; 1 Cor. 1:7; 1 John 3:2-3; and James 5:8-9). The New Testament church took seriously Jesus’ command to watch for His return as did the early church.

Jesus’ last recorded words to His church are “Surely I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:20). The word translated “soon” depicts quickness of motion in the original Greek. In other words, Jesus is saying that when He returns He will come quickly. In other words, we need to be watching for His appearing just as He told us to do in Matthew 24.

Several Christian writers and leaders today do regard me as far out of step with the Great Commission. However, as I look at what Jesus proclaimed and commanded as well as at what the apostles wrote, I do not feel like an outlier any more.

I rather see myself as someone who is fulfilling the Great Commission in the way God has gifted and called me to do.

 

Merry Christmas!

Christmas

I want to wish all the followers of my blog a very Merry Christmas. Thanks so much for your willingness to receive my posts and read them. I so appreciate your support!

I like the way John 1:10-13 describes Jesus’ entrance into the world, “ He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.  He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

We celebrate Christmas because of what Jesus did after He came into the world. He died on the cross and rose again so that we might have eternal life. The promise is that all who receive Him become dear children of the Father. He came so that all who receive Him as their Savior will live forever and ever. 

Religion teaches we gain acceptance before God through our good behavior. The Bible teaches precisely the opposite. It’s whether we receive or reject Jesus that determines our eternal destiny. Jesus came to die in our place on the cross.

Next February or March, Bold Vision Books is going to publish my first book. It is my prayer that the Lord will use Shipwrecked! Learning from the Bible Bad Guys to encourage believers in their faith and bring many to know Jesus as their Savior. If the Lord tarries and I find a publisher, my next book will be about our blessed hope in Jesus’ appearing and why it matters so much for our daily lives. Both books call readers to look beyond their circumstances to the Gospel and its promise of eternal life.

Thanks again and have a blessed holiday season!!