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; 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!!

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.

 

Why Must There be a Third Temple?

 

templejan202016
Model of the Proposed Third Temple in Jerusalem

 

President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has sparked much talk of the third temple. The people of Israel have already shown great support for a new temple; now the excitement for this is even stronger than before in light of President Trump’s announcements.

Is this renewed anticipation in itself prophetic? Yes it is. Scripture tells us there will be such a temple at least by the midpoint of the coming tribulation. As such, the indicators pointing to its construction tell us that this time is getting closer.

We will start with the prophecy and then explain what it means.

The Prophecy

In Matthew 24 Jesus said this about an event that will take place during the tribulation, “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place . . .” (v. 15). Here Jesus refers to another prophecy where Daniel tells us that the antichrist will put an end to sacrifices at the temple for the second half of the seventieth week, or the time of tribulation (Dan. 9:27).

Revelation 11:2 records the instructions the apostle John received to measure the temple during the time of the tribulation. It’s curious that the voice tells him not to measure to outer courts of the temple because “it has been given to the Gentiles.” This fits perfectly with the proposed placement of the temple on the temple mount with the Al-Aqsa Mosque currently occupying the place where the outer courts would be.

Based on these prophecies, the Jews will build their third temple before the half-way point of the seven year tribulation. This will happen to fulfill the prophecy of Jesus regarding the antichrist’s desolation of the temple.

Has Jesus’ Prophecy Already Happened?

Some believe the prophecies of Matthew 24 happened in 70 AD when Titus and the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. They claim this event fulfilled Jesus’ prediction regarding the “abomination of desolation” (v. 15) regarding the temple as well as His second coming, which they believe also happened at that time.

However, this does not take into account the writing of five books of the Bible after 70 AD that do not mention anything about the Lord’s return. The book of Revelation, written in about 95 AD, describes in detail the Lord’s return and the tribulation as future events. This date comes primarily from Irenaeus, who grew up in the church at Smyrna and was mentored in the faith by a disciple of the Apostle John. This timeframe is also confirmed by many internal evidences in Jesus’ messages to the churches in chapters 2-3.

In addition, both the apostle Paul and John refer to Jesus killing the antichrist when He returns (2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:20). Titus, the Roman general, not only survived destroying the temple, he eventually became emperor over Rome.

There is no mention in history or in church history for that matter of Jesus’ return happening in the first century AD.  How could this happen without reference to in the first few centuries of the church? It’s impossible. When Jesus returns to earth, it is something the entire world will witness (Rev. 1:7).

The Preparation for the Third Temple

If the tribulation were to start today, could Israel finish the huge task of constructing the temple in three and a half years? Yes. This is truer today than a decade ago because of all the work that a group in Israel has already done in preparation for its construction.

The Temple Institute spent the last thirty years researching all the many facets of the temple. Consider a few of their preparations:

  • They spent $100K on the architectural drawings for the temple; one can even take a virtual tour of the temple design at the Temple Institute website.
  • They started a school to train Levites to serve as priests in the new temple.
  • They located the perfect red heifer for the purification sacrifice.
  • They have constructed several of the furnishings for the temple including the altar.
  • After years of research and finding the proper dyes, they have prepared the required garments for the priests and high priest.

A newly constituted Sanhedrin has also appointed a high priest to serve in the new temple. The picture at the top of the post shows him offering a sacrifice on the streets of Jerusalem.

In addition, the transportation department within the government of Israel recently announced it is planning the infrastructure to deal with the large crowds they expect will be coming to the newly constructed temple.

The Significance

What does this mean in terms of the nearness of the tribulation? It signifies that everything is ready for the building of the third temple as never before in history.

Many believe that the building of the temple will come about as the result of a peace treaty with Israel, perhaps the one initiated by the antichrist. If the covenant were to grant Israel permission to build its temple, t’s a reasonable assumption it could be ready within three and a half years. The Temple Institute recently boasted that once they have the necessary access to the temple mount, they could begin offering sacrifices on the Temple Mount within a matter of weeks.

The early church father Irenaeus wrote about the antichrist defiling a future temple in Jerusalem.  In his book Against Heresies, written about 180 AD, he wrote, “But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem.” Isaac Newton, after studying the books of Daniel and Revelation, came to the belief that God would restore Israel as a nation someday and that the antichrist would defile their temple after that.

We now see prophecy coming to life before our eyes. If after all these years we see so much progress toward the building of the temple, can the tribulation be very far away?

And if that is getting ever closer, how much more so Jesus’s return for us!

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem

 

jerusalem-from-mt-olives-world-city-266020
Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

 

On December 6, 2017 President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on behalf of the United States. In addition, he announced his intention to move our nation’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This all has huge prophetic significance.

We ARE living in the days leading up to the tribulation and thus to Jesus’ return for His church before the start of that time. So many things point to this. If there ever was a time to watch for our redemption (see Luke 21:28), it is now.

Since Jerusalem is so much in the news now, let me begin to explain why this is so based on a prophecy regarding this city.

The Prophecy

In Zechariah 12:2-3 the Lord said this, “Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it.”

Through the prophet Zechariah, God prophesied some rather specific events that would occur in the last days. Here is a breakdown of what he predicted:

1. The nations of the world would become obsessed with Jerusalem. Do we see this today? Absolutely! Almost every world leader had something to say about the President’s recognition of Jerusalem; most condemned it. Turkey stated its intention to sever relations with Israel because of this (another prophetic sign of the end times to be discussed later.) Russia, Iran, and Turkey gathered their forces in Syria in order to support that nation and fight terrorism. Now, however, their focus is Jerusalem.

In anticipation of President Trump’s announcement, the UN general assembly voted overwhelmingly to dissociate Jerusalem from Israel. Jerusalem is the object of the world’s attention as no other city. Only a handful of nations recognize Jerusalem as belonging to Israel. The nations are indeed “staggering” as drunk people over Jerusalem just as Zechariah said they would do.

2. The nations will desire to move Jerusalem’s boundaries. When the Lord says he will made the city “a heavy stone for all the peoples,” He is referring to the intentions of the nations to move the boundaries of Jerusalem. In ancient times, people marked boundaries with large stones. Every peace plan put forward in the past several decades divides Jerusalem; they all move the boundaries of the city exactly as Zechariah said would happen in the last days.

Every peace plan put forward in the past several decades divides Jerusalem; they all move the boundaries of the city exactly as Zechariah said would happen in the last days.

3.  God will judge the nations who seek to divide Jerusalem. This Scripture further prophesies that the nations who seek to move the city’s boundary stones will be “severely hurt.” The King James Version says they will “be cut in pieces,” which gets to the heart of what God says He will do.

The United States has put forward several peace initiatives in the past several decades that all divide Jerusalem. Today, as a nation we are more divided both racially and politically than at any time in recent history. I have never seen such hostility between various groups in our nation; most everyone has felt this in some way or another.

Could the sharp divisions all around us be the fulfillment of what the prophet meant by “cut in pieces?” I believe it could very well be a part of it. It will be worse, however, should such a plan actually divide Jerusalem.

4. The Nations of the world will gather against Jerusalem. I believe this part of the prophecy refers to the battle of Armageddon at the end of the tribulation. With the intense focus of the world upon Jerusalem, it’s quite easy to envision this happening in the future. The nations of the world will eagerly join with the antichrist in seeking to destroy Israel and its capital, Jerusalem.

Why Jerusalem?

On the surface, all the fuss about Jerusalem being the capital of Israel seems absurd at best. David captured the city three thousand years ago and the Hebrews built the first two Jewish temples in Jerusalem. Archeology has confirmed Israel’s historic ties to Jerusalem again and again. The Old Testament Scriptures refer to the city over eight hundred times (including the mentions of Zion, a hill in the city). The Koran contains zero references to Jerusalem.

Why are Muslims rioting in response to President Trump’s announcement regarding Jerusalem? Why are so many nations in an uproar over it? What is the big deal about a country choosing its own capital? Every other nation on the earth has such a right.

Is it not because Jerusalem belongs to Israel? The rampant anti-Semitism that increases worldwide each week feeds into this frenzy. It’s also the place God chose for His dwelling place. Psalm 87:1-2 boldly proclaims, “On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.” No other city on earth is as dear to the heart of the Lord as Jerusalem. All of Psalms 87 proclaims the Lord’s great love for Jerusalem.

Second Chronicles 6:6 says, “But I have chosen Jerusalem that my name may be there . . . .” This is not only the city that the Lord loves, but the one He had chosen. Is it any wonder that the devil wants to take it away from His people?

The Jewish people, however, believe President Trump’s declaration is a sign that the building of the third temple is near. That is the opinion of Yehuda Glick, a prominent politian in Israel and member of the Temple Mount movement. He said, “The prophets’ words of prophecy are coming forth from the Bible and becoming facts right before our eyes.” He further compared President Trump to King Cyrus stating that his recognition of Jerusalem prepared the way for the third temple.

In my next article, we will examine why we believe there must be a third temple by the midpoint of the tribulation and how this also points to the nearing tribulation.

We cannot know the day or the hour of Jesus’ return for us. We can, however, recognize the signs of the time and realize this is the season; we are living in the last days of human history.

 

 

End Times . . . or Just The Way It Has Always Been?

Signs

Do you remember the song “Signs” by the Five Man Electrical Band? This popular tune made it all the way to number 3 on the Billboard charts during the summer and fall of 1971. The refrain concludes with the words, “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, sign, sign, sign.”

Now that I have that song firmly ensconced in your mind, I will move on to a different type of sign that I see everywhere I look. These multiple signs point to the coming tribulation and the end of the age.

I believe there is something radically different about what we are now witnessing today in our world.

Many today ignore these signs believing that our day is no different than any other previous time in history.  I beg to differ with this sentiment. I believe there is something radically different about what we are now witnessing today in our world.

The signs we see today differ in many ways from any previous time in history. We see it in the exactness with which Old Testament prophecies are coming alive before our eyes. We see it in the increased intensity and frequency of the signs Jesus gave to us. We see it in the great number of signs that all point to the rapidly approaching tribulation.

Consider the following examples.

The Alliance of Russia, Iran, and Turkey

Ezekiel 38 predicts a latter day invasion of Israel led by a coalition of Russia, Iran, and Turkey. It’s almost as if the prophet was reading news stories from just last week. On November 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Turkish President Erdogan met together at the Russian Black Sea resort town of Sochi to discuss the future of Syria, where all three have a significant military presence. They have no intent of leaving, only that of increasing their power in the nation.

This public display of harmony between all three nations is exactly what we would expect ahead of the battle of Gog and Magog in light of Ezekiel 38-39. Such unity signifies, for example, that if Israel attacks Iran the other countries would respond as well. Russia made that clear a couple weeks ago and now Turkey is also a part of this alliance.

It’s possible that this accord could dissolve and their armies could leave Syria. However, it’s much, much more likely this indicates that the assault against Israel predicted by Ezekiel could become a reality in the coming months or years.

Why Would They Attack Israel?

The next question is this: why would they attack Israel? Are we seeing events that could spark the war of Ezekiel 38? Yes!

The Times of Israel this week reported the warning Benjamin Netanyahu gave to Syrian President Bashar Assad. He said that if he allows Iran to set up a permanent military presence near Damascus, Israel will intervene militarily in the Syrian civil war. Is this a serious threat? Absolutely! Netanyahu will attack if Iran continues to build up its forces so close to his nation’s border.

Satellite images confirm that Iran is setting up a large military camp near Damascus, just thirty miles from the Israeli border. The warning by Netanyahu this week is just one of many he has made regarding the expanding Iranian presence so close to Israel.

Do you see how this could lead to a much greater conflict? With Russia and Turkey now so closely aligned with Iran, they would certainly join in responding to the attack along with the other Muslim nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38 who seize the opportunity to take part in destroying Israel.

The prophet says that God will allure Gog, the head of Russia, into the battle because of the spoil he could gain from the invasion (Ezek. 38:12). Until recent years, Israel has never possessed the type of wealth that would interest her enemies. Now they do. Israel possesses a large deposit of natural gas just off her shore and a massive reservoir of oil under the Golan Heights.

These are exactly the two things Putin desires and needs to help his flailing economy. Furthermore, possession of Israel’s oil would greatly enhance his standing as the world’s new “energy czar,” a title Putin recently appropriated for himself. Do you see the preciseness of Ezekiel’s prophecy in these events? I could write for several more pages about how the nations are lining up exactly as Ezekiel predicted.

Wars, Wars, and Wars

On Tuesday of this past week, North Korea launched a missile many believe is capable of reaching any city in the United States. They also have a hydrogen bomb that is capable of totally destroying cities anywhere on the globe.

Yes, we have always heard threats of war throughout history, but the current ones differ in intensity such as not seen since the cold war. With North Korea possessing such deadly weapons, tens of millions could die instantly in a war with them. With so many nations possessing nuclear warheads, the threat of potential devastation is something the world has never seen before now. Not only does this fulfill Jesus’ words regarding wars (Matt. 24:6-8), but also the potential for all humanity to die (24:22).

Besides the daily threats of wars and even rumors of WW III starting soon, numerous wars are already in progress. At this moment, there are 17 wars taking place with at least one thousand deaths in the past 12 months. That number jumps to 45 if we make the minimum deaths one hundred in number.

The Shaking

Jesus said that earthquakes of increasing frequency and intensity would mark the last days before His return (Matt. 24:7). Not only would they resemble birth pains in this regard, they would occur in a wide variety of places.

Is this not what we are seeing today? Earthquakes are becoming much more numerous than ever before in history and occurring with greater intensity as well. In the past seven days, there have been 130 earthquakes in the world with an intensity of 4.0 or greater. An earthquake occurred in Dover, DE of all places just this past week.

California has seen a dramatic increase in minor earthquakes during the past month and as many as one hundred in just the past week. This has intensified fears that the long anticipated major earthquake could occur quite soon, perhaps within weeks.

Scientists expect we will see a significant increase in catastrophic earthquakes during 2018 due to an ever so slight slowing of the earth’s rotation, this added on to their already historic frequency and intensity.

This trend of more frequent and severe earthquakes will continue on into the tribulation.

One World

During the tribulation, the antichrist will setup a one world government supported by a one world religion. Do we see evidence of this happening today as never before? Absolutely!

The UN 2030 agenda calls for precisely such a world order by the year 2030. Almost every world leader supports this goal as do the major banking powers in Europe. The leaders of both major political parties in America agree with this strategy, which is why they bitterly oppose the “Make America Great” strategy of President Donald Trump, which has temporarily interfered with their plans.

Pope Francis has been quite vocal in the past several years calling for both a new world order as well as a one world religion. Never before in history have we seen a high ranking religious leader calling for such a government or for all faiths to unite as one such as prophesied for the coming tribulation.

Yes, this has been building for a long time. But now, as never before, everything is ready for the implementation of this new world order.

Technology

The advances in technology make it entirely possible now for the coming antichrist to control buying and selling throughout the world. Some companies are already implanting chips in their employees such as what will happen worldwide during the tribulation.

One commercial shows a man walking through a grocery store, filling his pockets with various items, and walking right out the door. At first you think he is a shoplifter, but then the security officer tells him he forgot his receipt. Chips on him and his purchases instantly recorded the payment from his account for everything he purchased.

With the advances in artificial intelligence, it’s becoming increasing possible for someone to control all buying and selling worldwide from one central location. We have never before seen such capability to fulfill the words of Revelation 13:15-18.

The advances in artificial intelligence are mind boggling. One person recently started a new religion to worship it. This has the word tribulation written all over it!

There is a great difference in the signs we see today of the approaching tribulation.

There is a great difference in the signs we see today of the approaching tribulation. I have just scratched the surface of all the prophetic indicators that this time of great turmoil upon the earth could start at any moment. The preciseness of prophetic fulfillment abounds as well as the increase in frequency and intensity of the signs just as Jesus said would happen at the end of the age. This all points to the soon return of Jesus for His church, which I believe will occur before the tribulation, which seems to be much closer than many realize.

I admit that I also struggle with what is happening in our world. On the one hand, the signs seem so strong that I wonder if we will even see Christmas this year before Jesus comes for us. On the other hand, I know He could hit the pause button, give people more time to repent, and as a result we may see more holidays before Christ appears.

Are you ready if Jesus should come today? Is your trust for eternal life solely in Jesus and His saving work on your behalf? With all the indicators pointing to His soon return, you may not have tomorrow. Can you really take the chance that Jesus will delay His arrival any longer?

 

 

 

An Unshakable Kingdom

parliment-government

Is there anything around us today that we could describe as “unshakable?” Politicians, movies stars, and leaders continually prove that they are frail human beings just like everyone else.

Instability defines our world. Wars and continual threats of war add to the instability of our world. I cannot remember a time when there has been so much talk about the devastation that natural disasters could cause. For years, economists have warned that our national debt in America could lead to dire consequences.

However, because of the promises of Scripture we can rejoice and give thanks even though everything around us is falling apart. Here is what the author of Hebrews said, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus offer up to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe” (Heb. 12:28). Our hope is not in our broken down culture, but in an unshakeable kingdom that is not of this world but is coming to this world with the Second Coming of Christ.

So what is this kingdom and why does it make us so secure?

It’s the Kingdom of Jesus

Colossians 1:13-14 tells us that as saints, God “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” This is the first aspect of the good news: as believers we already belong to Jesus’ kingdom with all our sins, past, present, and future, completely forgiven.

This gives us security regardless of what we encounter in this violent world. The worst persecution cannot change our standing in Jesus domain.  And, as Paul proclaims in Romans 8:31-39, absolutely nothing can separate us from Christ’s love. We are forever secure in Him.  Even death cannot alter our standing in Jesus’ marvelous kingdom where we share in all His blessings (Eph. 1:3) and inheritance (Rom. 8:17).

It’s Physical, Too

If we look at the context in Hebrews 12 of our “kingdom that cannot be shaken,” we see that the author is describing a future shaking that will result in just God’s kingdom remaining intact (vv. 26-27). The Old Testament reference to this coming tribulation upon the world is Haggai 2:6-9 where the prophet tells of a future time of great shaking upon the earth after which the treasures of the earth will flow into Israel resulting in a temple even more glorious than the one Solomon built. Haggai further prophesies that this will also be a time when the Lord brings peace to Israel.

So not only are we as believers forever secure in Jesus’ domain, but we rejoice in the hope that someday His kingdom will be real and tangible. And not only that, Jesus’ kingdom will be secure with no sign of scandal or intrigue. The coming King will establish it in righteousness. Isaiah 32:1 says, “Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in peace.” Does this not sound so much different than what we see in our world today? Jesus will rule over the earth and as God, it will be impossible for Him to lie!

Revelation 19:11-20:6 describes Jesus’ glorious return in great power to set up a kingdom on the earth that will last for one thousand years. This is more than an abstract doctrine or a hope that only applies to the people of Israel. This represents our future as well as coheirs with Jesus (Rom. 8:17).

There with our immortal and imperishable bodies, we will reign with Jesus enjoying more blessings than we can even imagine.

It’s in this secure kingdom that we will see the purposes for all we endured in this life, both good and bad. We will understand why we suffered and why the Lord led us down paths that brought joy and affliction. There with our immortal and imperishable bodies, we will reign with Jesus enjoying more blessings than we can even imagine.

This Thanksgiving season, we can give thanks that in a world becoming more unstable by the day our hope rests in an unshakable kingdom. We are secure now, regardless of anything that can happen to us before Jesus comes for us. Later, we will be secure forever in a kingdom where we will someday live free from all death, sorrow, suffering, pain, and tears.

Such a two-world perspective does not mean that we live solely for the world to come, but that we recognize that our ultimate hope does not rest in the things of this world or even our dreams of a better life.

It’s when our hope becomes earthbound that troubles magnify our fears and suffering becomes all-consuming. When we live with an eternal focus, however, we live in the reality that a glorious day is coming when Jesus will take us home to be with Him and later establish his righteous and holy rule upon the earth.

 

What About Jesus?

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Many people today do not believe in a millennial kingdom. They believe Jesus will return at a distant future time, judge humanity, and bring in the eternal state.

We refer to those to teach such a view as amillennialists because they do not believe in a future kingdom in which Jesus will rule over the world seated upon the throne of David. They believe God rejected Israel after His people spurned and crucified His Son. As a result, the church now fulfills the kingdom promises made to Israel, but in a spiritual and allegorical sense rather than in a literal way.

While I strongly disagree with these teachers regarding God’s rejection of Israel, there is something I believe they overlook. They fail to consider the Old Testament promises made to the Messiah that are separate from the ones God made to Israel.

In order to be an amillennialist, you must negate Old Testament prophecies concerning Jesus as well as God’s promises of a future kingdom for Israel.

The Promise of The Father

In Psalm 2, The Father promises the Son all the nations of the world as His “heritage.” Beginning in verse 7 we read, “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.’” The Father makes this pledge to the Son independent of His everlasting covenant with Israel.

The rest of Psalm 2 makes it clear that this is not a spiritual reign, but a physical reign over actual nations with kings. Verse 9 states, “You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” This does not sound like His headship of the church to me. The Psalmist is warning the kings of the earth to “serve the Lord with fear” (vv. 10-11). The Father promised His Son an actual government with authority over all the rulers of the earth.

If you deny the reality of the millennium, how do you deal with God the Father breaking His promise to His Son that He would receive such a kingdom?

If you deny the reality of the millennium, how do you deal with God the Father breaking His promise to His Son that He would receive such a kingdom? I do not think you can do that.

Does this not also explain Satan tempting Jesus with the “kingdoms of the world” in Matthew 4:8-11? He offered Jesus a shortcut to what the Father had already promised Him. Why tempt Jesus in this way if He had no aspirations for or promises about ruling over the nations of the world at a future time?

A Child Who Would Rule

Almost every believer is familiar with Isaiah 9:6-7. We hear these verses read every year around the time of Christmas and if we listen to Handel’s “Messiah,” we hear the words put to glorious music.

We celebrate the fulfillment of the first two lines of the prophecy, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” We regard Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem as the exact fulfillment of these words.

Without the millennium, several of the promises regarding the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6-7 are now null and void.

Most people, however, give little thought to how Jesus might fulfill the promise that someday this “child” would be the head of an actual “government” sitting upon ‘the throne of David.” The rest of the passage speaks to Jesus being King over a real, physical kingdom. If Jesus literally fulfilled the first two lines of this prophecy, why do some believe He will not literally fulfill the rest of the passage? Where do we draw the line between taking the words of the prophet literally and figuratively in in this passage?

Without the millennium, several of the promises regarding the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6-7 are now null and void. Remember, this is a prophecy regarding the Messiah, not Israel. If we deny a future kingdom to Israel, what do we do Isaiah’s prophecy that the Christ would someday sit on the throne of David as the head of an actual government?

Jesus as Judge

In ancient Israel, the king acted as both ruler and the ultimate judge of the land presiding over the most difficult cases. Do you remember King Solomon deciding the case between the two women who both claimed the living baby? This is an example of how the ancient kings took on the role of a magistrate.

Keeping this in mind, here is what Isaiah also prophesied regarding Jesus, “And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth, and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked” (Isa. 11:3-4). The prophet gives us a clear picture of Jesus acting as a judge over all the earth.

This is not a picture of a future judgment; this is the Christ fulfilling His role as ruler over all the earth doing what such a king would do. Like the kings of old, He is administering justice on behalf of his subjects.

This passage does not fit with Jesus’ headship over the church. It also does not match with anything He has done since His resurrection. These verses from Isaiah 11 look forward to a time when Jesus will be the Supreme Ruler over all the earth administering justice and righteousness for all people.

King Over All the Earth

Zechariah 14:9 says this, “And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.” If we look at the context of Zechariah 14, it’s clear that this reference is to a physical kingdom with Jesus reigning over the nations of the world from Jerusalem.

While the context assumes a restored and repentant Israel, Zechariah directs these words to the Messiah; He alone is the subject of the prophecy. He will someday be king over all the earth and hold all the nations accountable to Him, just as we see later in the chapter (vv. 16-19).

Why do I believe in a literal millennium? Why am I a premillennialist who believes that Jesus will return after the tribulation to set up His rule for a thousand years?

To deny a literal millennium, one has to say that the Father will break His promise to the Son and that the prophecies of Jesus ruling over the nations of the earth are no longer valid.

First of all, I believe that all the Old Testament promises made to Israel remain intact. God has not rejected His people (Rom. 11:1) with whom He made an everlasting covenant (Psalm 105:8-11). But, that is the subject for another article.

Secondly, God the Father, through the prophets, promised that His Son would reign over the kingdoms of this world. Psalm 2 goes even further by stating that the Father would someday give the nations of the world to His Son as His “heritage.”

To deny a literal millennium, one has to say that the Father will break His promise to the Son and that the prophecies of Jesus ruling over the nations of the earth are no longer valid.

God has to break both His promises to Israel and to Jesus if there is no future kingdom over which Jesus will rule.

God will keep His promises to His Son as well as to Israel; there will be a millennium!

 

An Ordinary Life

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Thomas Chisholm was born in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky in 1866. He became a believer at the age of 27 and a Methodist preacher at the age of 36 despite a lack of formal training for the ministry. Unfortunately, after only a year poor health made it impossible for him to continue as a pastor.

He later opened up an insurance office in New Jersey where continued ill health limited his income for the remainder of his life. He once said this regarding his humble circumstances, “God has given me many wonderful displays of his providing care, which have filled me with astonishing gratefulness.”

As he looked back, he saw God’s faithfulness though all the disappointments and frustrations as well as in His unfailing provision for him.

Inspired by Lamentations 3:22-23, he wrote the words to the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” in 1923. He sent his poem to his friend William Runyan who added music to the words. The hymn became popular in churches throughout America after Billy Graham started using it in his crusades.

Unlike the story behind the song “It Is Well with My Soul,” Thomas Chisholm wrote this song toward the end of what he regarded as an “ordinary” life. As he looked back, he saw God’s faithfulness though all the disappointments and frustrations as well as in His unfailing provision for him.

After receiving direction to do so, I have spent the last few weeks adding more of my story to a book I am writing. This has stirred up many memories of the dark times in my life. I remembered walks late at night crying out to God in the midst of great personal pain. My time of affliction was long and filled with much despair.

I remember reading Lamentations 3:22-39 during this time and wondering if I would ever see the Lord’s compassion again or the end to my grief.

Now, however, as I look back at how the Lord rescued me from my trying circumstances and healed the deep wounds of my heart, I celebrate His faithfulness.

After I finished the task of adding my story to the opening chapters of my book, I listened to “Great is Thy Faithfulness” on YouTube. As I reflected on the words, I felt like every phrase of this hymn applied specifically to me. I especially liked the words, “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” The Lord gave me strength even at times when I did not even realize it and faithfully renewed my hope of eternity when my outlook for this life seemed so dim.

God has been exceedingly faithful to me in bringing me through all my ups and downs. He has brought me to a place of rest that I could not have imagined twenty years ago. Where would I be without His unfailing goodness to me?

Although Chisholm may have regarded his life as ordinary, God has used the words he wrote to bless millions. His testimony of God’s faithfulness through the everyday messes of life has resounded through the church for many decades.

We never know how the Lord can use our lives. Even through what might seem mundane to us, He can use our experiences and testimony in ways we cannot imagine. When he wrote “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” Chisholm may have thought his words would drift into obscurity as have the many other poems he wrote. He likely could never have imagined the lasting impact of what he penned so long ago.

God’s plan for our lives even extends beyond the here and now.  In eternity, we will see the full end of God’s faithfulness as we see His purposes for all we endure on earth. In His hands, each unique (and even ordinary) story will fit perfectly into a beautiful and amazing kaleidoscope that will bring Him glory forever.

There we will continue to celebrate and sing of God’s great faithfulness for thousands of years to come.

We will fully understand just how much the Lord can use ordinary lives. It’s what lies at the end of our paths that matters the most.

 

How Long?

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As I reflect on the Sutherland Springs shooting this past Sunday, the word “brutal” comes to my mind. In 2 Timothy 3:2 the Apostle Paul says that people will become “heartless, unappeasable . . . brutal . . . treacherous, reckless” during the last days. Is this not what we are seeing throughout our world to an ever increasing degree?

Do not all these traits sum up someone who would walk into a church and slaughter 26 innocent people including small children? Does this terrible act of violence not confirm Paul’s words of the “perilous times” we would see before Jesus’ return?

Although we do not understand the shooter’s ultimate motive, we know he had threatened his mother-in-law who attended the church. We also know that he was an atheist who mocked Christians stating that all “people who believed in God were stupid.” Did his antagonistic mindset toward believers contribute to the killing of so many of them? It seems likely to me. Why kill so many innocent people out of anger for just one person?

In his prophecy update on Sunday, Pastor J. D. Farag spoke of how Satan knows that his time is short and is stepping up his evil and murderous activity. I believe the shooter in Sutherland Springs was demon possessed and the killing stemmed from Satan’s rage against God people. The devil used his hatred to inflame not only the rage of this shooter but also to instill in him a total lack of pity for those he killed.

We see these types of attacks on Christians all throughout the world. A couple weeks ago, ISIS viciously attacked and killed 128 Christians in the Syrian town of Qaryatayn as they fled the city. Boko Haram and his men continue to brutally kill Christians by the hundreds in Nigeria. Do you remember the bombs that killed many Coptic Christians in Egypt during their Palm Sunday services earlier this year?

Brutal and Reckless

According to William Barclay, the word Paul used for brutal in 2 Timothy 3 “denotes a savagery which has neither sensitiveness nor sympathy.” It refers to a fierceness of character that displays a lack of human sympathy or feeling in its treatment of others. Does this not describe the shooter in Las Vegas as well? In both cases, these killers acted without the least bit of compassion toward their victims.

The word reckless in this passage describes someone falling headlong into something; it later came to define someone pursuing evil with great passion.  Barclay says this about it, “It describes the man who is swept on by passion and impulse to such an extent that he is totally unable to think sensibly.” This certainly fits with the demonic rage the Sutherland Springs shooter exhibited.

Jesus said that what we are seeing throughout our world today would happen in the last days just before His return.

In describing the end times Jesus said this, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another” (Matt. 24:9-for 10). Jesus said that what we are seeing throughout our world today would happen in the last days just before His return.

The Lord Sees

Long ago, the prophet Habakkuk complained about the “destruction and violence” he saw in Israel. Like today, he saw that the wicked often triumphed over the righteous so that “justice” was “perverted” (Hab. 1:3-4). The Lord’s response, in summary, was that He saw all the violence and perversion of justice. Because of evil rampant in Judah at the time, he would send the Babylonians to judge His people. They later came and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple taking many of the people captive back to Babylon.

Jesus is near to us in our pain; He never leaves or forsakes those of us who know Him.

The Lord sees the atrocities of our time. He also looks with compassion upon all our suffering; He deeply feels the sorrow of the survivors in Sutherland Springs. In Psalm 34:18 David said this, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Jesus is near to us in our pain; He never leaves or forsakes those of us who know Him.

Just as in the days of Habakkuk, the Lord will someday respond to the violence and great wickedness we see around us in the world. He sees the countless babies murdered in our abortion clinics. He sees the deadly rampages of sick evil men. He sees a culture that has lost its way and fallen into all sorts of deviant behavior. At just the right time, Jesus will totally destroy the kingdom of darkness responsible for all this rebellion against Him.

Is this not why the coming time of tribulation described in Scripture will result in so much devastation? Jesus will have His day. After exacting judgments on sinful humanity and the domain of Satan, He will return with unimaginable power and glory. His kingdom will someday fill the earth with righteousness and justice. He will reign for a thousand years and then forevermore.

We Have Hope of a Better Day

We have hope; this life is not all we have. Romans 8:18 says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Paul had already suffered greatly when he wrote this. Later, Nero beheaded him. Even so, he regarded all this affliction (and martyrdom) as “not worth comparing with” all the wonders and joys that awaited him in eternity.

A much better day is coming. In eternity, God “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” (Rev. 21:4).

Jesus sees all our tears and someday will replace them with exceeding joy.

This picture is a far cry from our current experience, from the headlines of our day. Yet, this is our hope because we belong to Christ. The suffering and death of this current world is just a temporal fleeting reality. In God’s eternal day, we will see His purposes behind all that we suffered on earth. Jesus sees all our tears and someday will replace them with exceeding joy.

Yes, the brutality we witnessed in Sutherland Springs was horrific; I cannot even begin to imagine the horror of being in that church when the shooter arrived. Jesus, however, saw all that happened and not only is He comforting the victims in heaven, He will wipe out all such evil in His kingdom and then forevermore.

Revelation 6:10 gives voice to the martyred tribulation saints in heaven, “They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” I wonder if the recently martyred saints in our world are saying something similar before God’s throne in heaven.

Those of us still in shock due to the violence we see in places such as Sutherland Springs ask, “How long before you come and take us home, O Lord? How long before you bring your justice to this wicked, violent, and rebellious world? How long before you establish your righteous rule over the nations of the earth?”

Jesus last words to His church were “Surely I am coming soon.” To which John added, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).

Is this not our hope? Someday Jesus will correct all the wrongs of our current world; those who know Jesus will rest with Him forever experiencing sweet relief from the suffering and pain of this life.

How long until then?

Maranatha!!

 

Prison to Paradise

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During our visit to Savannah, Georgia last year, my wife and I came across a painting, La Parabola, at the Telfair Academy for art. The painting, shown above, depicts the entire life of a woman in two separate panels. I felt a sense of sadness as I initially studied the painting.

Cesare Laurenti (1854-1936), who painted La Parabola in about 1895, intended his work to depict the progression of “human life . . . The race toward pleasure, until clouds of weighty thoughts and sorrow come to disturb the serenity of the young soul.” On the left panel, we see a young girl racing toward adulthood and the joys of romance. On the right, we see images of the same woman ever advancing in age toward death.

Is this not why our hope matters so much? If this painting represents the totality of our existence, we have no hope.

But because of Jesus, such is not the case. He is alive and we will be with Him, perhaps soon. This is the resurrection hope of 1 Corinthians 15; all believers will someday have an immortal body just like His.

So, you might ask. What is the big deal? Don’t all believers see this? Yes . . . and No.

So many believers today live as though this world is all they have. They live their lives inside the one-world perspective of Laurenti’s painting seeing only their slow and painful progress through this life. They voice a belief about heaven, but it fails to impact their lives. Without a focus on Jesus’ return and life with Him in eternity, the hopes of so many believers becomes earthbound, wrapped up solely in worldly outcomes that often lead to despair.

A One-World Outlook

The problem with living with such a one-world outlook is that it offers no vision of the joys of eternity. It’s like a prison from which one cannot escape. Sure there are many good experiences along with the bad as we progress through life, but without a heartfelt anticipation of the excitement of eternity, we remain trapped in life’s slow progression not unlike what is depicted in the painting by Cesare Laurenti.

It’s when we lose sight of the non-ending joy ahead for us that our losses become unbearable, our fears overwhelming, and our frustrations with life greater than we think we can bear.

Years ago, experienced the futility of living life in just such a way. As a young pastor, I welted under the weight of tragic circumstances that entered my life. Even though I loved to teach about future things, I still lived with a one-world perspective. When my life turned upside down, to put it mildly, I lost sight of forever. I lived as though only this life mattered.

I longed for earthly success at the expense walking faithfully with the Lord with a focus upon what He had for me both here and forever.

My response to the turmoil in my life demonstrated that my hope had not reached my heart. I was not yet living with a two-world outlook on life. I longed for earthly success at the expense walking faithfully with the Lord with a focus upon what He had for me both here and forever.

A Two-World Perspective

It was when I took the two-world perspective of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 to heart that the Lord began His work of healing in my heart. I finally understood the truth of Paul’s words in Romans 8:18 that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.”

As I grasped the importance of the unseen eternal realities versus my temporal pursuits, my fears became far less daunting and my frustrations with life eventually faded away. My losses were very significant, but when I weighted them against the glory of eternity and God’s eternal purposes they diminished both in scope and importance.

Beginning with Jesus’ return for us, we have a hope more wondrous than we can imagine.

I finally saw the futility of living as though everything depended on what happened to me in this life or on what I could accomplish. So what if I got all that I wanted? Did it really make a difference from the standpoint of eternity or two thousand years from now? How could that compare to living a life of trust dependent on Jesus? What will matter the most in eternity when I stand before the Lord?

Beginning with Jesus’ return for us, we have a hope more wondrous than we can imagine. This is why New Testament believers looked forward to Jesus’ appearing to take them home with such great anticipation. This lifted their gaze upward in the midst of great persecution found comfort and encouragement to continue taking courageous stands for the Lord.

We find this eager anticipation all through the New Testament.  In Philippians 3:20 Jesus said, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The sense here is of eagerly anticipating Jesus’ return as in 1 Corinthians 1:7 as well.

In Titus 2:13 Paul describes believers as “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Jesus’ return is our blessed hope. We will someday share in His resurrection life. Jesus is our blessed hope; He is coming to take us to be Him (John 14:1-3).

Our hope matters. This is why Satan does everything he can to take our eyes off of it. First, he introduces false teachings into the church that focus believers solely on earthly dreams. If Jesus has already returned, as some false teachers proclaim, then what do we have to look forward to? Are we not back to living bound to the ups and downs of whatever comes our way locked into a one-world perspective?

Second, if the devil cannot dissuade us through such false ideas, he does all he can to take our eyes off the great joy ahead for us. He will keep our focus on the prison of this life rather than the joyous paradise that awaits us.

The Path to Paradise

Years ago, John J. Davis wrote a commentary on Genesis called Paradise to Prison. The title, of course, depicts the effect of sin on the human race. God created Adam and Eve and placed them in paradise, the Garden of Eden. Sin entered the world and along with it death. Adam and Eve did not die right away, but became trapped in the path toward death with no escape. They found themselves imprisoned by their rebellion against God.

It’s Jesus, however, who turns our prison into a sure hope of dwelling in paradise forever.

We are not any better off for knowing Christ if an eternal and resurrected life is not in our future.

Paul said this, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19). Why? If we have no hope beyond our current lives, we remain trapped in the prison of sin and death that entered the world with Adam and Eve. We are not any better off for knowing Christ if an eternal and resurrected life is not in our future.

But such is not the case; in Jesus this is precisely the sure outcome of His salvation.

Jesus is the only way to this eternal life, to the paradise that awaits us beyond the here and now. He is the reason we can endure all our afflictions and setbacks. We know a better day is coming. We will spend eternity with Him experiences joy beyond what we can imagine.

Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Are you looking forward to paradise after death? Jesus died a cruel death on the cross so we could receive eternal life. He rose again confirming the validity of all His promises.

If you have not yet done so, please turn to Him before it is too late. He is waiting for you!