4/18/18

“Please Judge Me” by Bryan Gibson

http://insearchoftruth.org/articles/please_judge_me.html

“Please Judge Me”

That’s right, it’s time we flipped the script on the overused and misused slogan of so many — “don’t judge me.” Me personally, I want to know when I’m wrong — in any area of my spiritual life. I do “examine (my) own work” (Galatians 6:2); I do “judge” myself (1 Corinthians 11:31), but I may be blind to what others can clearly see.
Just to be clear, I’m not talking about the “command fire to come down from heaven” spirit of judgment displayed by James and John (Luke 9:51-56). Final judgment belongs to the Lord, but you can help me get ready for that judgment by judging me now — by pointing out my sins.
I would urge you to not judge me too hastily, to “not judge according to appearance, but…with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). But if you know the facts, and the facts point to my guilt, please love me enough to rebuke me (Revelation 3:19), because “open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed” (Proverbs 27:5). “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6), so don’t be afraid to wound me.
I would also prefer that you not judge me hypocritically, that you not be guilty of the same things of which you accuse me (Matthew 7:1-5; Romans 2:1-3). Not for my sake, because your hypocrisy doesn’t change my innocence or guilt, but for your sake. Make sure you humbly apply the same standard (the gospel) to yourself that you apply to me, and let’s both be willing to repent.
And yes, it would be easier on me (and you) if you come to me, at least initially, “in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1). Circumstances may call for a sharper rebuke (Titus 1:13), and if that’s the case, it’s on me to respond with a “broken and a contrite heart” (Psalms 51:17). Bottom line — be careful in your approach, but from my standpoint, how you speak to me doesn’t change the facts. If I’m guilty of sin, that’s my biggest concern, not the manner in which you spoke.
It could be that my actions call for a public rebuke, much like Peter received at the hands of Paul (Galatians 2:13-14). And though I have no intention to do so, if I publicly teach false doctrine, I shouldn’t be surprised when you feel the need to warn others about me. Public teaching invites public scrutiny, and if necessary, public rebuke — I understand that, and I also understand that if I listen to correction along the way, it should never come to that.
“Don’t judge me” — here’s what God says about that approach: “He who refuses correction goes astray” (Proverbs 10:17). “He who hates corrections is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1). “He who hates correction will die” (Proverbs 15:10). “He who disdains instruction despises his own soul…” (Proverbs 15:32).
“Please judge me” — here’s what God says about that approach: “He who regards a rebuke will be honored” (Proverbs 13:18). “He who receives correction is prudent” (Proverbs 15:5). “The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise…he who heeds rebuke gets understanding” (Proverbs 15:31-32).
So, which is the better approach? You be the judge.
Source: Prattmont Church of Christ
Bryan Gibson

"THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS" Guidelines For The Family And Business (3:18-4:1) by Mark Copeland

                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS"

            Guidelines For The Family And Business (3:18-4:1)

INTRODUCTION

1. The theme throughout the Book of Colossians is that Jesus Christ is 
   our "All-Sufficient And Pre-Eminent Savior" - cf. Col 1:16-18; 2:3,
   9-10

2. As a demonstration of Jesus as our "all-sufficient" Savior, we now 
   find His apostle Paul giving guidelines by which we can successfully
   conduct our family and business matters! - Col 3:18-4:1

3. This passage illustrates that the "pre-eminence" of Christ reaches 
   even to the secular concerns of our lives

[Beginning with verse 18, let's examine some of these guidelines Christ
has given us...]

I. WIVES, SUBMIT TO YOUR HUSBANDS (18)

   A. DEFINING THE WORD "SUBMIT"...
      1. The Greek word is hupotasso {hoop-ot-as'-so}
      2. It means to...
         a. arrange under, to subordinate
         b. subject, put in subjection
         c. subject one's self, obey
         d. submit to one's control
         e. yield to one's admonition or advice
         f. obey, be subject
      3. Thus, wives are to be in submission to their husbands, "as to 
         the Lord" (Ep 5:22)

   B. THIS IS SAID TO BE "FITTING IN THE LORD"...
      1. The word "fitting"...
         a. Grk., aneko {an-ay'-ko}
         b. To pertain to what is due, duty, as was fitting
      2. To be willing to submit to another is certainly in keeping with
         Jesus' own teaching and example - Mt 20:25-28
      3. It is also in keeping with what is expected of ALL Christians...
         a. We are to submit to one another - Ep 5:21
         b. We are to submit those who rule over us in the faith 
            - He 13:17
         c. We are to submit to the ordinances of government 
            - 1Pe 2:13-15
         d. Christian servants were to submit to their masters 
            - 1Pe 2:18
         e. Younger Christians are to submit to the elders, and to one
            another as well, even as we submit to God - 1Pe 5:5-7

   C. IF WIVES DO NOT SUBMIT TO THEIR HUSBANDS...
      1. They may never win their unbelieving husbands to Christ - cf. 
         1Pe 3:1-2
      2. God will not be gracious to them - cf. 1Pe 5:5
      3. There is even a possibility that it may have a strong bearing 
         on the sexual orientation of the children!
         a. A study by Dr. Irving Bieber was made of the family 
            background of 106 male homosexuals (cf. "What Everyone
            Should Know About Homosexuality", LaHaye, p. 71-72)
         b. Dr. Bieber found that:
            1) 81 mothers were dominating
            2) 62 of the mothers were overprotective
            3) 66 mothers made the homosexual their favorite child
            4) 82 of the fathers spent very little time with their sons
            5) 79 fathers maintained a detached attitude toward them
         c. The more "modern" man learns through tested research, the 
            more we begin to realize that Jesus and His Word were right
            all along!
            1) Whatever the subject, Christ certainly knows best
            2) And He should...remember, He's the Creator of all things!

[And now, for an often much needed word to the husbands...]

II. HUSBANDS, LOVE YOUR WIVES (19)

   A. PAUL EXPANDS UPON THIS THEME IN HIS LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS...
      1. Our role model is Christ, and His love for the Church 
         - Ep 5:25-27
         a. Husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the 
            Church
         b. I.e., with a sacrificial love
      2. Another example is the kind of love we have for our own bodies 
         - Ep 5:28-29
         a. Just as one "nourishes" and "cherishes" his own body, so he 
            should his wife
            1) The word "nourish" comes from ektrepho {ek-tref'-o}, and 
               means...
               a) to nourish up to maturity, to nourish
               b) to nurture, bring up
            2) The word "cherish" is from thalpo {thal'-po}, meaning...
               a) to warm, keep warm
               b) to cherish with tender love, to foster with tender 
                  care
         b. Again, this is how Christ loves the Church!

   B. THIS LOVE INCLUDES BEING FREE FROM "BITTERNESS"...
      1. "and do not be bitter toward them" - Col 3:19
         a. The Greek word for "bitter" is pikraino {pik-rah'-ee-no}
         b. It means...
            1) to produce a bitter taste in the stomach
            2) to embitter; exasperate
            3) render angry, indignant
            4) to be embittered, irritated
            5) to visit with bitterness, to grieve (deal bitterly with)
      2. Peter gives us some insight as to why it is important not to be
         "bitter toward them" - cf. 1Pe 3:7
         a. They are the more delicate partner in the relationship ("a 
            weaker vessel")
            1) Capable of providing the motherly tenderness and 
               sensitivity crucial in the early development of children
            2) Bitterness will make the wife (mother) coarse and 
               resentful, contributing to the environment of a 
               "dysfunctional" family
         b. They are "heirs together of the grace of life"
            1) In Christ, they are not just wives, they are "sisters in 
               Christ"
            2) Therefore, worthy of love and honor, not bitterness!
         c. How we treat them determines the efficacy of our prayers 
            ("that your prayers may not be hindered")!

[When husbands love their wives as Christ loves the Church, and are not 
bitter toward them, it is much easier for wives to be submissive to 
their husbands.  Since husbands are to be the "leader" in the family, 
then let them show leadership by fulfilling their responsibility!  I 
dare say that the wives will then gladly follow, and the family (with 
our society) will benefit.

Speaking of the family, what about the children?]

III. CHILDREN, OBEY YOUR PARENTS (20)

   A.  THE VALUE OF SUCH OBEDIENCE...
      1. It is well-pleasing to the Lord (it is certainly what He did 
         - Lk 2:51-52)
      2. It contains an important promise - cf. Ep 6:1-3

   B. THE SERIOUSNESS OF REBELLIOUSNESS...
      1. Consider how God viewed lack of obedience in the Old 
         Testament...
         a. On par with witchcraft and idolatry! - 1Sa 15:22-23
         b. The punishment in some cases for rebellious children was 
            death! - Deut 21:18-21
      2. Therefore, rebelliousness is not to be taken lightly by 
         parents...
         a. It is not "just a stage they go through" (for some never 
            leave it)
         b. It is a serious problem that should concern us
         c. It is a problem that requires much prayer for the wisdom to 
            bring the child out of it!

[What can help the children to escape the sin of rebellion is if their 
fathers take to heart what is said to them...]

IV. FATHERS, DON'T PROVOKE YOUR CHILDREN (21)

   A. FATHERS HAVE AN AWESOME RESPONSIBILITY...
      1. They are to be understanding and compassionate, yet firm
         a. Joshua was strong in his resolve for his family to serve the
            Lord - Josh 24:14-15
         b. Eli, however, was condemned because of his failure to 
            restrain his sons - 1Sa 3:11-14
      2. They thus have the responsibility to provide spiritual training
         for their children - Ep 6:4
         a. They do it by THEIR EXAMPLE - the following quotes are taken
            from "The Father - God's Representative In The Family", 
            printed in Pulpit Helps
            1) "A child tends to look upon the Heavenly Father as he 
               does his earthly father.  If his earthly father is kind,
               loving, just, forgiving and good, a child will perceive
               of God as the same.  If, on the other hand, his earthly
               father is cruel, unloving, unkind, the child will 
               perceive the heavenly Father in the same manner."
            2) "Generally speaking, the concept which all people have of
               God is the concept each has of his father.  Such is
               extremely difficult to erase.  It is vitally important 
               for a man to live the kind of life, and be the kind of 
               person who is demonstrating to his sons and daughters 
               what God is really like - for the father is God's 
               representative here on earth.  This provides an 
               inestimable privilege, and also a solemn responsibility."
         b. They do it by THEIR INSTRUCTION (whether it be formal or 
            informal, cf. Deut 6:6-7)

   B. HOW CAN FATHERS BE GUILTY OF PROVOKING THEIR CHILDREN?
      1. By being unfair in their discipline
         a. Punishing without fair warning
         b. Showing favoritism in the exercise of discipline
      2. By being hypocritical in our teaching and example
         a. "Do as I say, not as I do" has no place in the vocabulary of
            Christian fathers
         b. Not only does hypocrisy provoke children to wrath, it often
            is the underlying reason why children leave the faith!

[As a father who is still involved in raising children, I know all this 
does not come easy.  But with the help of God we can apply these 
admonitions of the apostle of our Lord.

The remaining admonitions would have fallen under guidelines for the 
FAMILY in the First Century (A.D.), since most Christians would have 
either been slaves in another family or had some slaves in their own 
family.

Today, however, I believe that we can still apply these verses to our 
BUSINESS relationships...]

V. SERVANTS (EMPLOYEES), OBEY YOUR MASTERS (EMPLOYERS) (22-25)

   A. THE MANNER OF OBEDIENCE IS CLEARLY DEFINED (22-23)
      1. "in ALL things" (except that which would violate God's Will, of
         course - Ac 5:29)
      2. Not with "eye-service"
         a. Grk., ophthalmodouleia {of-thal-mod-oo-li'-ah}
         b. Service performed [only] under the master's eyes
            1) For the master's eye usually stimulates to greater 
               diligence
            2) His absence, on the other hand, renders a sluggish 
               response
      3. Not as "men-pleasers"
         a. Grk., anthropareskos {anth-ro-par'-es-kos}
         b. Studying to please man, courting the favor of men
      4. But in "sincerity of heart"
         a. "sincerity" (singleness, KJV) comes from haplotes 
            {hap-lot'-ace}
         b. As used here, it means:
            1) Singleness, simplicity, sincerity, mental honesty
            2) The virtue of one who is free from pretense and hypocrisy
            3) Not self seeking, openness of heart manifesting itself by
               generosity
      5. And "fearing God"
         a. The word "fear" is from phobeo {fob-eh'-o}
         b. In reference to God, it means "to reverence, venerate, to 
            treat with deference or reverential obedience"
         c. It is God whom we should be concerned is watching, not man!
      6. We are to do our work "heartily, as to the Lord and not to men"
         a. "heartily" is from psuche {psoo-khay'}
         b. Which here likely refers to "the seat of the feelings, 
            desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.)"
         c. I.e., We are to "put our heart into our work"
         d. Just as we would if was the Lord we were working for, for in
            reality, that is actually who we are serving!

   B. THE LORD WILL JUDGE OUR SERVICE (24-25)
      1. It is the Lord Jesus Christ we serve, who has the ability to 
         provide our inheritance
      2. But the one who does wrong in his service to his master 
         (employer) will be repaid wrong!
      3. No partiality will be shown in rendering judgment for 
         wrong-doing!
         a. Being a slave is no excuse for slack service
         b. Nor is being a Christian!        
      4. Even if our masters (employers) are abusive, we are to do what 
         is right! - 1Pe 2:18-25

[And now, to those on the other end...]

VI. MASTERS (EMPLOYERS, SUPERVISORS), BE JUST AND FAIR (4:1)

   A. YOU DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO ABUSE THOSE UNDER YOU...
      1. You are to be "just"
         a. Grk., dikaios {dik'-ah-yos}
         b. As used here, it involves "rendering to each his due and 
            that in a judicial sense, passing just judgment on others,
            whether expressed in words or shown by the manner of dealing
            with them"
      2. You are to be "fair" (equal, KJV)
         a. Grk., isotes {ee-sot'-ace}
         b. It means to show "equity, fairness, what is equitable"
      3. In Ep 6:9, we see that masters are to...
         a. "do the same thing to them (slaves)" (i.e., with good will 
            doing service, as to the Lord)
         b. "giving up threatening"
      4. In other words, apply the "Golden Rule" - Mt 7:12

   B. YOU ALSO HAVE A MASTER!
      1. As a motive to be just and fair, a reminder that even masters
         have a Master in heaven
      2. Again in Ep 6:9, the point is made that there is no 
         partiality with your Master
         a. Being a master (employer) does not give you any special 
            privileges in His sight
         b. Nor being a Christian, if you are unfair and unjust to those
            under you!
      3. So if you want your Master to be just and fair with you, then 
         let Him be your ROLE MODEL for how you deal with those under 
         your responsibility!

CONCLUSION

1. In Col 2:3 it is said of Christ: "in whom are hidden all the 
   treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
   a. The wisdom and knowledge that comes from Christ reaches to the 
      relevant needs that we face today, no matter how secular or 
      mundane
   b. Clearly the passage we have examined illustrates this fact!

2. And so with Christ as our Lord, we are truly COMPLETE:  "and you are 
   complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." 
   - Col 2:10

3. Imagine how "complete" our families, our workplaces, would be if all 
   followed the "Guidelines For The Family And Business" as revealed by
   the apostle Paul
   a. Families living together in love and harmony!
   b. Workplaces filled with considerate, productive people!

4. We may not be able to change society totally
   a. But at least we can start with ourselves
   b. And provide a demonstration of the wisdom of Christ in our own 
     lives

Are you doing what you can to "prove (demonstrate) what is that good and
acceptable and perfect will of God"? - cf. Ro 12:2

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

Will There be an "Antichrist"? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1209

Will There be an "Antichrist"?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The long history of failed attempts to identify the so-called “Antichrist” would be humorous if it were not so tragic. Candidates for this personage have included Nero, Napoleon, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Kruschev, and Saddam Hussein. The “mark of the beast” that the Antichrist allegedly causes people to receive has been associated with social security numbers, UPC barcodes, WWW—the World Wide Web, and even the IRS (a much more tempting postulation, to be sure). These endless shenanigans could be avoided if the Bible were taken seriously and impure motives were replaced by an honest pursuit of truth.
As a matter of fact, the term “antichrist” occurs only five times in Scripture, only in the writing of John, and only in two of his five books: 1 John 2:18,22; 4:3; 2 John 7. The implications are significant. Dispensationalists do not go to 1 and 2 John when they discuss the Antichrist. They go to Revelation, or 2 Thessalonians, or Daniel. They go to passages that do not even use the word Antichrist!
Contrary to current claims, John applied the term “antichrist” to more than one individual, and to individuals who were living then—in the first century! For example, 1 John 2:18 states that numerous antichrists had arisen in John’s day, and he therefore contended that “it is the last hour” (i.e., the final period of religious history commonly referred to as “the last days,” as in Acts 2:16-17). He then described their behavior as “not of God” (1 John 4:3). “Antichrists” were simply anyone who denied Christ (1 John 2:22). John, therefore, labeled any such deluded soul as “the deceiver” and “the antichrist” (2 John 7). Notice the use of the article. John was saying that people living in his own day who denied the incarnation of Jesus were to be regarded as the antichrist! Not just an antichrist—but the antichrist! The idea that the term “antichrist” is to be applied to some “future fuehrer” (Lindsey, 1970, pp. 87ff.) who will draw the world into a global holocaust is totally out of harmony with John’s inspired use of the term.
The primary passage that is used to support the notion of an antichrist is Revelation 13:1-10. Several points regarding the context of the book of Revelation and its proper interpretation lead to the understanding that the seven-headed sea beast was a symbol for the then monstrous emperor of Rome who was responsible for unleashing horrible atrocities upon Christians of Asia Minor in the latter years of the first century A.D. (Summers, 1951, pp. 174-175; Swete, 1911, pp. 161ff.). The two-horned land beast (Revelation 13:11-18), who enforced worship of the sea beast, referred to the official governmental organization known as the Roman Concilia that was responsible for supporting and regulating all details relative to emperor worship (Summers, pp. 178-179; Swete, pp. 168ff.). This evil legal entity was authorized to instigate economic sanctions against those who refused to appropriate the “mark” of the beast, “mark” being a symbol for the proof of their submission to Caesar worship (vs. 17). With this understanding of Revelation 13, it is unscriptural and unbiblical to identify the sea beast in Revelation 13 with some future revived Roman dictator known as the “Antichrist.”
A second passage that some say predicts an Antichrist is Daniel 9:24-27. Notice carefully the content of this marvelous prophecy. During the prophetic period that Daniel identified in terms of seventy symbolic weeks (vs. 24), transgression, sin, and iniquity would be “finished,” “ended,” and “reconciliation provided for.” This terminology clearly refers to Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross (Hebrews 9:26). The effect of Christ’s atoning work was that “everlasting righteousness” was ushered in. As Paul stated: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21; cf. Jeremiah 23:5-6). Because of what Jesus did, individuals may now stand before God completely righteous through obedient faith. Likewise, “vision” and “prophecy” would be “sealed up.” This refers to the inevitable termination of Old Testament prophecy and its fulfillment in Christ’s appearance in human history: “Yes, and all the prophets from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days” (Acts 3:24; Hebrews 1:1-2). Finally, the phrase in Daniel 9:24 that speaks of the “anointing” of the “most holy” refers to the public ministry and official crowning of Jesus as He took His place upon His throne to rule in His kingdom. Isaiah said: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor” (61:1). On the day of Pentecost, Peter said: “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God” (Acts 2:33). Notice that Daniel summarized the entire seventy-week period by including all of these six factors in the seventy weeks.
Next, Daniel broke the seventy-week period into three segments: seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, and one week. Verse 25 pertains to the first two sections of the seventy-week period. During these two periods, that is during sixty-nine of the seventy prophetic weeks, a decree would go forth calling for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the reconstruction of the temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians (cf. Nehemiah 2:7-8; Ezra 1:1-3). Daniel made clear that these sixty-nine weeks of the prophetic period, during which the temple would be rebuilt and national Israel reestablished, would take one up to the appearance of the Messiah.
Verse 26 speaks of the final week of the seventy week prophetic period, for he said “after the sixty-two weeks.” “After” puts one into the final or seventieth week of Daniel’s remarks. Two significant events were to occur during this final week. First, the Messiah would be “cut off.” This definitely refers to Jesus’ death upon the cross: “He was cut off from the land of the living” (Isaiah 53:8). Second, a “prince” and his people would come and destroy the city and the sanctuary—an obvious allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple edifice in A.D. 70 by Titus and his Roman army.
Verse 27 alludes to the activation of the new covenant between the Messiah and “many,” that is, between Christ and those who are responsive to the demands of the new covenant. As the Hebrews writer said: “Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (8:8; cf. Acts 3:25). The New Testament teaches that the cutting off of the Messiah, the crucifixion, was the act that confirmed the covenant (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:15-29), and brought an immediate end to the validity of the Old Testament practices of sacrifice and oblation (Colossians 2:14; Luke 23:45; Hebrews 10:18-20). Then Daniel alluded to the ruthless invasion of Jerusalem in the phrase “abomination of desolation.” Jesus quoted this phrase in Matthew 24:15 and Luke 21:20, and applied it to the Roman desecration and destruction of the Jerusalem temple in A.D. 70.
Thus, the fundamental purpose of Daniel’s seventy-weeks prophecy was to show God’s final and complete decree concerning the Israelite commonwealth. All of the events described in the prophecy were literally fulfilled over 1,900 years ago. As far as God is concerned, the logical end of the Old Testament and Judaism has occurred. Now He deals only with the spiritual children of Abraham, whether Jew or Gentile (Romans 4:11-12,16; 9:8). Daniel 9 gives no credence to the notion of a future Antichrist.
A third passage used to foster belief in an Antichrist is 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Whatever interpretation is placed upon this passage, its use to refer to a future personage is doomed to failure since Paul explicitly stated that he was referring to a person who would be the product of the circumstances of his own day, i.e., “already at work” (vs. 7). How could Paul have had in mind a future dictator that still has not arisen, though 2,000 years have transpired? One need go no further to know that 2 Thessalonians 2 does not refer to a future Antichrist.
History is replete with a variety of interpretations of this passage, the most prominent one likely being the view that the papacy is under consideration (see Workman, 1988, pp. 428-434; Eadie, 1877, pp. 340ff.). Another possibility is that the “falling away” (vs. 3), or apostasy, referred to the Jewish rejection of the “new and living way” of approach to God (Hebrews 10:20). The Jews were the single most adamant opponents to Christ and the infant church (John 8:37-44; Acts 7:51-53; 13:45-50; Romans 10:20-21; 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). This rebellion, or falling away, would not reach its “full” (Matthew 23:32) climax until the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and the resulting dispersal of the Jewish people. Paul had already alluded to this Jewish apostasy in 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16. The pouring out of God’s wrath was the logical consequence of the first century Israelite failure to make the change to Christianity.
The “man of sin” or “son of perdition” (vs. 3) would have referred to the personification of Roman imperialism, and would have been equated with “the abomination of desolation” that Jesus, quoting Daniel 9, alluded to in Matthew 24:15 and Luke 21:20. Verse 4 would refer to the Roman general who introduced his idolatrous insignia into the Holy of Holies in A.D. 70.
That which was “withholding” (vs. 6), or restraining, this man of sin, at the time Paul was writing 2 Thessalonians in approximately A.D. 53, would have been the presence of the Jewish state. The ingenious design of God was that Christianity would appear to the hostile Roman government to be nothing more than another sect of the Jews. Thus Christianity was shielded for the moment (i.e., A.D. 30-70) from the fury of the persecuting forces of Rome, while it developed, spread, and gave the Jews ample opportunity to be incorporated into the elect remnant—the church of Christ (cf. Romans 11:26). Thus the nation of Israel was rendered totally without excuse in its rejection of Christianity, while at the same time serving as a restraining force by preventing Christianity from being perceived by the Romans as a separate, and therefore illegal, religion (religio illicita). Once the Jewish apostasy was complete, and God’s wrath was poured out upon Jerusalem, Christianity came to be seen as a distinct religion from Judaism. Increasingly, Christians found themselves brought into conflict with the persecution from “the wicked” or “lawless one” (vs. 8). In fact, after A.D. 70 (when the withholding effect of Judaism was removed), Roman opposition to Christianity gradually grew greater, culminating in the fierce and formidable persecution imposed by Caesar Domitian in the final decade of the first century.
Once the shield of Judaism was “taken out of the way” (vs. 7), and Christianity increasingly found itself subject to the indignities of governmental disfavor, the Lord was to come and “consume with the breath of His mouth” (vs. 8) the one who was responsible. This terminology is not an allusion to Christ’s Second Coming. Rather this verse refers to Christ’s coming in judgment on the Roman power. Such a use of the word “coming” to describe the display of God’s wrath upon people in history is not unusual (cf. Isaiah 19:1; Micah 1:3). Paul alluded to the government’s use of counterfeit miracles (vs. 9), and thus deceit (vs. 10)—reminiscent of the Roman Concilia’s employment of trickery and illusion to deceive people into worshipping the emperor in Revelation 13:13-15 during the last decade of the first century A.D. (see Barclay, 1960, 2:127-128; Hailey, 1979, pp. 294-295; Summers, 1951, pp. 178-179). Sufficient textual indicators exist in this passage to exclude the premillennial interpretation of a future “Antichrist.”
When studied in context, the passages that are used to bolster the dispensational scheme provide no such support. Those over the centuries who have applied these passages to papal authority, Napoleon, Mussolini, Hitler, Saddam Hussein, et al., have been shown to be wrong. Amazingly, the pattern continues among those who have not learned from the sad mistakes of the past.

REFERENCES

Barclay, William (1960), The Revelation of John (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Eadie, John (1877), Commentary on the Epistles to the Thessalonians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979 reprint).
Hailey, Homer (1979), Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Summers, Ray (1951), Worthy Is the Lamb (Nashville, TN: Broadman).
Swete, Henry (1911), Commentary on Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1977 reprint).
Workman, Gary (1988), Studies in 1 and 2 Thessalonians and Philemon (Denton, TX: Valid Publications).

Will There be an Armageddon? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=952

Will There be an Armageddon?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Many religionists insist that world history will culminate in a cataclysmic global holocaust known as “Armageddon,” followed by the “Millennium”—a 1000-year reign of Christ on Earth. They say that current events in the Middle East are arranging themselves in such a fashion that the Second Coming of Christ is imminent. Of course, this claim has been made repeatedly for many, many years—with no fulfillment forthcoming.
What does the Bible actually say about “Armageddon”? The term “armageddon” occurs only once in the New Testament: Revelation 16:16. In keeping with the literary genre of the book (i.e., apocalyptic), the term is used with figurative connotations. Revelation is literally packed with allusions to the Old Testament. In fact, “no book in the New Testament is so thoroughly steeped in the thought and imagery of the Hebrew Scriptures” (Swete, 1911, p. liii). But the writer does not use direct quotes from the Old Testament. Rather, he adapted, modified, and combined ideas from the Old Testament in order to apply them to the setting to which he addressed himself. He drew freely from Old Testament imagery, but placed a New Testament spin on them with a first century application.
For those who would be familiar with the Old Testament (as Asia Minor Christians would have been), the Holy Spirit capitalized on the meaning that this location possessed. In Hebrew, the term “Harmageddon” means “mountain (or hill) of Megiddo.” Was there a hill of Megiddo? Yes. In fact, Jews and students of Hebrew history were only too familiar with this prominent battlefield and vicinity. Many bloody encounters stained the soil of this region—scenes of military disaster. It was here that Deborah and Barak defeated the Canaanites (Judges 5:19). Gideon was victorious over the Midianites in this region (Judges 7). These positive accomplishments were etched into the Israelite consciousness. But there were other images evoked by Megiddo, for it also served as a place where national tragedy had occurred. Ahaziah died there after being pierced by Jehu’s arrow (2 Kings 9:27). And good King Josiah perished tragically at the hands of Pharaoh Necho (2 Kings 23:29). This last incident was especially poignant to the minds of the Jewish people, who mourned the loss of this great king, enshrining the event in the collective consciousness as an instance of national grief (Zechariah 12:11).
With this long historical background, Megiddo came to occupy a place in the minds of believers similar to places which immediately bring to the American mind definite and strong impressions: the Alamo, Pearl Harbor, etc. This significance was then utilized by the Holy Spirit to convey to struggling, persecuted Christians of Asia Minor near the end of the first century the sure outcome of the conflict then being waged between the forces of evil (Satan and imperial Rome) and the forces of righteousness (God, Christ, and faithful saints who were enduring persecution). These Christians were certainly in no need of assurance that some future global holocaust would occur which Christ would bring to an end 2,000 years removed from their suffering! These Christians were in dire need of assurance that Christ would come to their aid soon (see “shortly”—Revelation 1:1; 22:6). They needed encouragement to hang on, and to remain steadfast in the face of inhuman mistreatment. The symbol of Megiddo fitly symbolized the impending overthrow of an enemy empire, and engendered much needed assurance. Christians were given the solace that soon the outcome of the battle would be realized. The enemies of God and His People would be punished, while suffering saints would be comforted. Thus “armageddon” is purely symbolic, and in no way relates to dispensational dreams of a future world war. There will be no “Armageddon.”

REFERENCES

Swete, Henry (1911), Commentary on Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1977 reprint).

Will There be a Millennium? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1253

Will There be a Millennium?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Many within Christendom are preoccupied with dispensational theology, having embraced the premillennial framework that teaches a coming “rapture,” “tribulation,” “antichrist,” “Armageddon,” and “millennium.” The millennium refers to an alleged thousand-year reign of Christ on Earth in which He will establish a literal, physical kingdom, and rule from Jerusalem. Is a thousand-year reign of Christ on Earth taught in the Word of God? The reader is urged to consider the following observations.
In the first place, several contextual indicators within the book of Revelation militate against the application of the book’s contents to a yet-future time. For example, the events of the book of Revelation were to “shortly take place”—an expression that occurs near the beginning as well as near the end of the book (1:1; 22:6). “Shortly” (en tachei) meant quickly, at once, without delay, soon, in a short time (Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 814). Moffatt gave the meaning as “soon” and noted: “The keynote of the Apocalypse is the cheering assurance that upon God’s part there is no reluctance or delay; His people have not long to wait now” (n.d., 5:335).
Other passages where the term is used, confirm that a brief length of time is intended—not merely the rapidity with which the designated events occur. Regarding those disciples who cry out to God night and day for His intervention, Jesus assured: “He will avenge them speedily (en tachei)” (Luke 18:8). What comfort would be afforded if Jesus intended to convey the idea that relief may be long delayed, but when it finally did come, it would come in a quick fashion? When Peter was asleep in prison, bound with two chains between two soldiers, and an angel awoke him by striking him on the side and instructed him to “arise quickly (en tachei)!” (Acts 12:7), would Peter have understood the angel to mean that he could continue resting or sleeping for as long as he chose, just as long as when he did get ready to get up, he came up off the prison floor with a rapid motion? When Festus insisted that Paul be detained in Caesarea rather than transferred to Jerusalem, since “he himself was going there shortly (en tachei)” (Acts 25:4), would anyone have understood him to mean that he may delay his visit to Caesarea by years? Paul even used the term in contradistinction with being “delayed” (1 Timothy 3:14-15; cf. White, n.d., 4:117). Additional occurrences of the expression further underscore the meaning of “soon” (Acts 10:33; 17:15; 22:18; Romans 16:20).
Another contextual indicator within Revelation itself is the occurrence of the phrase: “for the time is near” (1:3; 22:10). Thayer said “near” (eggus) refers to “things imminent and soon to come to pass” (1901, p. 164; cf. Arndt and Gingrich, p. 213). Such a reference would necessarily pertain to the first century—not the twenty-first. Two or three thousand years would be too late for the desperate Christians of Asia Minor (see Summers, 1951, p. 99). Those who get caught up in “millennium mania” seem oblivious to the fact that the book was written to an original, immediate audience. Revelation was, in fact, written to the seven churches of Christ situated in Asia Minor (1:4). All seven are even named (1:11)! If the book was written to them, and if it was their spiritual condition that was the concern of the book, millenarians are incorrect in their contention that the book is devoted primarily, if not exclusively, to predictions of the end times. Though the Old Testament prophets predicted future events on occasion, their primary message was relevant to their immediate audience. Dispensationalists have trouble finding in Revelation a relevant message for a first-century audience. The apostle John recognized their need, and identified himself as their “companion” in the terrible tribulation they were then enduring (1:9). Not only was this tribulation going on at that time, but John further referred to himself and his readers as being in the kingdom at that time (1:9). Thus, Christ’s kingdom was already set up, in existence on Earth, and in full operating mode.
In addition to these contextual indicators, there is the statement of the angel to John: “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:10). What did the angel mean? What he meant becomes apparent when one reflects upon the fact that Daniel was told to do the exact opposite of what John was told to do. After receiving a remarkable series of detailed prophecies, Daniel was told to “shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end” (Daniel 12:4, emp. added). Furthermore, he was instructed: “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (vs. 9, emp. added). The reason Daniel was told to seal the book was because the fulfillment of the prophecies that had been revealed to him were hundreds of years off in the future—far from his own day. The predictions, therefore, would be of no immediate value to the initial recipients of the book. The book could be closed and placed on the shelf until those who would be living at the time of their fulfillment could appreciate the relevance of its predictions. In stark contrast, John was ordered: “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book” (22:10, emp. added). Why? The text answers—“for the time is at hand”! These words can hold no other meaning than that the bulk of Revelation was fulfilled in close proximity to the time they were written.
Still another significant contextual detail pertains to the use of the impersonal verb “must”: “things which must shortly take place” (1:1). Greek grammarian Ray Summers explained:
The verb translated “it is necessary’ or “must”…indicates that a moral necessity is involved; the nature of the case is such that the things revealed here must come to pass shortly…. The things revealed here must happen shortly, or the cause will be lost…. They were in need of assurance of help in the immediate present—not in some millennium of the distant and uncertain future (p. 99, emp. in orig.).
Indeed, the downtrodden, persecuted Christians of Asia Minor needed assistance right away. The dispensational framework would rob those first-century saints of the very comfort and reassurance they so desperately needed, deserved—and received!
One additional contextual feature is the use of the term “signified”: “And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John” (1:1). This term, as is evident from the English translation, means “to show by signs” (Vincent, 1890, 2:564; Summers, p. 99). The term, along with the Greek word translated “revelation” (apocalupsis), introduces the nature of this book. The book of Revelation reveals or unveils God’s message through signs or symbols. Placing a literal interpretation on the numbers, animals, objects, colors, and locations of Revelation—as dispensationalists routinely try to do—does violence to the true intent of the book. John’s Revelation declares itself to be a book of symbols, filled with figurative language, and not intended to be taken literally. In fact, as Swete observed, “much of the imagery of the Apocalypse is doubtless not symbolism, but merely designed to heighten the colouring of the great picture, and to add vividness and movement to its scenes” (1911, p. cxxxiii). A genuine recognition of this realization of this self-declared feature of the book excludes a literal interpretation of the number one thousand.
In addition to these preliminary contextual details (which are sufficient of themselves to dismiss the dispensationalism scheme from the book), chapter twenty contains specific features that assist the interpreter in pinpointing the meaning of the symbol of a “thousand-year reign.” It is surely noteworthy that in the entire Bible, the only allusion to a so-called thousand-year reign is Revelation 20:4,6—a fact that is conceded even by dispensationalists (e.g., Ladd, 1972, p. 267; Mounce, 1977, pp. 356-357). Yet an entire belief system has been built upon such scanty evidence. An examination of the setting and context yields surprising results. For example, a simple reading of the immediate context reveals that the theme of Revelation 20 is not “the thousand-year reign of Christ.” Rather, it is “victory over Satan.” Each of the symbols presents concepts that, when put together, relieve the fears of oppressed first-century Christians regarding their outcome. The key, abyss, and chain (vs. 1) are apocalyptic symbols for the effective limitation or containment of Satan in his ability to deceive the nations in the specific matter of emperor worship enforced by the government (see Swete, 1911, pp. xxxi, civ-cv). The symbol of one thousand years (vss. 2-7) is a high multiple of ten, representing ultimate completeness (see Summers, p. 23). John’s readers thus could know that the devil was to be completely restrained from deceiving the nations into worshipping the emperor. The thousand years symbolized the extended triumph of God’s kingdom on Earth over the devil, who was then operating through the persecuting powers of Rome. A thousand symbolic years of victory would lesson suffering in the minds of persecuted Christians.
“Loosing for a little season” (vs. 3) would have represented the revival of persecution under later emperors. “Thrones” (vs. 4) represented the victorious power of the oppressed. The persecuted saints were pictured on thrones, judging because of the victory of their cause. “Souls” (vs. 4)—not resurrected bodies, but disembodied spirits—represent those who were martyrs of the persecution. Their refusal to “receive the mark” meant they refused to worship Caesar, or to manifest those marks that would identify them as adherents of the false state religion of emperor worship. The “first resurrection” (vs. 5) referred to the triumphant resurrection of the cause for which the Christians of Revelation 20:4 had lived and died. Gog and Magog were symbolic of the enemies of God and Christ, the imagery drawn from Ezekiel 38 and 39. The “beloved city” (vs. 9) is an unmistakable reference to spiritual Israel, the church (John 4:20-21; Galatians 6:16).
Some allowance may be granted in the interpretation of these highly figurative symbols, without doing damage to other Bible doctrines, or reflecting adversely upon the Gospel system and the broader will of Deity. However, the thousand years must not be perceived as a yet-future period. There is simply no biblical support for doing so. The figure represents an important concept for those to whom it was first directed. It has meaning for people living today only in that context. There will be no one thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ on Earth.

REFERENCES

Arndt, William and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Ladd, George E. (1972), A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Moffatt, James (no date), “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” ed. Nicoll, W. Robertson, The Expositor’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Mounce, Robert (1977), The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Summers, Ray (1951), Worthy is the Lamb (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press).
Swete, Henry B. (1911), Commentary on Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1977 reprint).
Thayer, Joseph H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).
Vincent, M.R. (1890), Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1946 reprint).
White, Newport (no date), “The First and Second Epistles to Timothy,” The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Will There be a "Rapture"? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1206

Will There be a "Rapture"?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The average American is aware of the periodic claim that “the end is near.” When Y2K was approaching, outcries of doom, global disruption, and Armageddon were widespread. Hal Lindsey achieved nationwide attention over thirty years ago with his national bestseller The Late Great Planet Earth (1970). A more recent repackaging of the dispensational brand of premillennialism is the popular Left Behind book series (see “The Official…”). Every so often, a religious figure captures national attention, announcing the impending return of Jesus—even to the point of setting a date—only to fade into the anonymity from which he arose when his claim falls flat, but having achieved his “fifteen minutes of fame” (see Whisenant and Brewer, 1989). The sensationalism sells well and tweaks the curiosity of large numbers of people. Incredibly, this pattern has been repeating itself literally for centuries!
Such is the case with the alleged “Rapture.” It comes from the Latin word “rapere,” which means “to seize, snatch out, take away.” Dispensationalists apply this word to the idea that Christ will come suddenly and secretly in the air to snatch away from the Earth the living saints and the resurrected bodies of those saints already deceased. This rapture is supposed to occur just prior to the seven-year Tribulation period, which, in turn, will be followed by the Millennium.
Proponents claim that the Rapture will be secretive. We are told that families will be shocked by the strange disappearance of a mother, father, or child. Driverless cars will collide in the streets (thus the bumper sticker: “In case of rapture, this vehicle will be unmanned”). A man and wife will be in bed; she hears a noise, turns her head, and finds him gone. Planes will crash with no pilots found. These sensational and dramatic examples illustrate the view that the Rapture will be an invisible coming of the Lord for His saints, leaving visible results of chaos and confusion among the remaining unbelievers.
In reality, the word “rapture” is not found in the Bible, though it is claimed to be the Latin equivalent of harpadzo translated “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (NKJV). Lindsey admitted, “[i]t is not found in the Bible” (1970, p. 126), and noted that the word “translation” is just as suitable. Yet the word “translation” does occur in the New Testament. Paul referred to the fact that God “has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13, emp. added). So when an unbeliever obeys the Gospel, receives forgiveness of sins, and is added to the church of Christ, he is taken out of the world and transferred to Christ’s kingdom. This use of the term is certainly a far cry from the idea that it refers to Christians being raptured from the physical Earth to meet Jesus in the air.
The New Testament uses three terms to refer to Christ’s return. First, parousia is translated “coming, presence, or advent.” Second, epiphaneia is translated “appearing, manifestation, or brightness.” Third, apokalupsis is translated “revelation.” Dispensationalism holds that parousia (“coming”) refers to the “Rapture” that occurs seven years before the epiphaneia (“appearing”) or apokalupsis (“revelation).” Accordingly, at the “Rapture,” it is claimed that Jesus will come for the church only, while at the “Revelation,” Jesus will return with the church, and put an end to the “Tribulation” and “Armageddon.”
The primary passage used to support the idea of a “rapture” is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. But this passage was not actually given to deal with the return of Christ. Its purpose was twofold. First, it was designed to reassure Christians that their deceased loved ones would be able to share in the Lord’s return. Second, it informed Christians that those who are still living when Christ returns will have no precedence or advantage over those who have already died. This dual function of the text constitutes a very different emphasis from the one imposed upon it by dispensationalists.
The dispensational distinctions made between the three New Testament terms that refer to Christ’s return are simply untenable (see Boettner, 1957, pp. 163-164). For example, dispensationalists assert that the “coming” (parousia) in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1 refers to the “Rapture.” Yet the same word is used in 1 Thessalonians 3:13 to speak of Jesus coming “with” His saints, thereby coinciding with the dispensational concept of the “Appearing” or “Revelation” seven years after the “Rapture.” Dispensationalists apply 2 Thessalonians 2:8 to the “Antichrist,” and therefore must understand this as a reference to the “Appearing” seven years after the “Rapture.” Yet the verse uses the expression “the manifestation (i.e., “brightness”—epiphaneia) of His coming (parousia).” Thus the term “coming” is used in the New Testament to refer to both dispensational concepts of the “Rapture” and the “Appearing,” and the two expressions are, in fact, combined in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 to refer to one and the same event.
The term “Revelation” (apokalupsis) in 1 Corinthians 1:7 is descriptive of what the dispensationalists call the “Rapture,” since Christians await it. But in 2 Thessalonians 1:7, it clearly refers to the “Appearing.” The term “Appearing” (epiphaneia) is used in 1 Timothy 6:14 as the event that terminates Christian activity on Earth, and thus fits the “Rapture” concept. But in 2 Timothy 4:1,8, the references to judgment fit the “Appearing.”
In view of these considerations, the sincere Bible student is forced to conclude that the three words relating to Christ’s return in the New Testament are used synonymously and interchangeably. The New Testament simply makes no distinction between the coming of the Lord for His saints (“Rapture”) and the coming of the Lord with His saints (“Appearing” or “Revelation”). The dispensational dichotomy is in direct conflict with New Testament terminology.
Additionally, if Christians are to be removed seven years before the “Revelation” or “Coming” of Christ, then no passage should speak of Christians remaining on Earth until the “Revelation.” However, many passages do just that (see Boettner, pp. 165-166). For example, in Titus 2:13, Paul referred to the “blessed hope” and the “appearing” as one and the same event, i.e., Christ’s coming. In the original language, the two substantives, “hope” and “appearing” (epiphaneia) are closely linked by the common article. They are not two separate events, as if to be read: “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing.” Rather, the text is saying, “looking for the blessed hope and appearing.” The one explains the other. The “blessed hope” of Christians is “the glorious appearing” of Christ. Other examples would be 1 Peter 1:13 and 4:13, where the grace on which the Christian is to set his hope is to be received at the “revelation” (apokalupsei) of Christ, at which time the Christian may rejoice. But, according to dispensationalism, the Christian should rejoice seven years earlier at the rapture.
Further, the use of the word “end” comes from a word that refers to “full end” and, in the New Testament, always refers to the end of the world, i.e., the Judgment day (see Boettner, p. 168-169). In Matthew 28:20, Jesus promised to be with the disseminators of the Gospel message to the very “end.” This means the church will remain on the Earth, preaching the Gospel, until the Judgment Day. But if the church is “raptured away” seven years before the end, she cannot fulfill what Christ commanded her to do! In Matthew 13:39-40, there is no removal of the saints before the “full end.” The righteous and the wicked grow together until the very end. The separation of the two comes at the end (not seven years before the end). The dispensationalist claims that the righteous will be taken out from among the wicked. But the Bible says just the opposite: the wicked will be taken out from among the righteous (Matthew 13:39-40).
The doctrine of the “Rapture” asserts that believers will be raised seven years before the “Revelation,” and 1,007 years before the end of the “Millennium.” But in four separate verses, Jesus Himself said believers will be raised “at the last day” (John 6:39,40,44,54). There can be no other days after the last day. So the believers cannot be raised at an alleged “Rapture” before the last day.
Finally, the Second Coming of Christ is nowhere depicted as secret, as the “Rapture” advocates affirm. In fact, just the opposite is true. Christ’s coming will be accompanied by “blazing fire” (2 Thessalonians 1:7), the sound of a trumpet (1 Corinthians 15:52), a “shout,” the “voice of the archangel,” and the “trump of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). In fact, “every eye will see Him” (Revelation 1:7). These passages show that all persons everywhere will see and hear this event. In fact, the very passage upon which the doctrine of the “Rapture” is founded (i.e., 1 Thessalonians 4:16), far from describing a quiet and secretive event, is about the noisiest verse in the Bible!
When one is willing to remove from the mind all preconceived, complex, and sensational theological concoctions, and simply let the Bible present its own portrait of the end of time and the Second Coming of Christ, the dispensational viewpoint of a postulated “Rapture” is seen to be totally unfounded.

REFERENCES

Boettner, Loraine (1957), The Millennium (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed).
Lindsey, Hal (1970), The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
“The Official Left Behind Series Site,” (2003), http://www.leftbehind.com/.
Whisenant, Edgar and Greg Brewer (1989), The Final Shout Rapture 1989 Report (Nashville, TN: World Bible Society).

Acts 26:1-8 Our Hope in God by Ben Fronczek

http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?p=191

Acts 26:1-8   Our Hope in God
Opening:  One of the greatest chapter in the NT is recorded in 1 Corinthians 13.  Many refer it at to as Paul’s discourse on love.
Now if one takes the time to look a little further into the text, Paul’s discussion there goes deeper than just love. Actually he is writing to those in the Corinthian church who seem to think that people who were blessed with certain miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were more important than others in the church. Paul goes on to teach them that we are all important, and that love for one another is the most perfect way. As a matter of fact he goes on to tell them that some of those gifts will disappear while others  will always remain true and will never fail.
Read 1 Cor. 13:8-10 & 13  Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.” And then Vs. 13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
So Paul tells the Corinthians that those miraculous gifts of that time were only temporary, but the 3 gifts that would remain, is faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of course would be love… why?  Because it is the one virtue that would endure forever, even beyond this life.
Where would we be without our Christian faith, hope, and Love?  I cannot imagine. Those things that  we have faith in, and things that we hope for, and loving others, gives our Christian life meaning and purpose.
These virtues define who we are as Christians. In today text we will read where the Apostle Paul talks about one of these virtues – his hope, as a matter of fact the hope that all believers have.
Background to our text:  Before Paul is shipped off to Rome where he would stand trial before Caesar, the new governor of Caesarea, Festus, the man who replaced the evil Felix asks King Agrippa, who was visiting Festus to sit and listen to Paul. Before sending Paul to Caesar, Festus wanted King Agrippa to help him come up with something he can put in a letter regarding why Paul was being sent to him in the first place.
So in chapter 26 we have a copy of what Paul had to say as he addressed this king and his wife.  Read Acts Chapter 26 (click on link)  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%2026&version=NIV1984
There is a lot in this chapter we could talk about this morning, but today I would like to focus on something Paul says as he begins his defense; the very reason why he felt he was on trial. Paul said, “it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today…  (He said) King Agrippa, it is because of this hope that these Jews are accusing me.”
And what hope is he referring to? In the very next verse (26:8) he lets us know; “That God will raise the dead.”   And then in verses 22-23 he says, “God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen—  that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”
The very hope of every Christian is, that one day… just as Jesus rose from the grave, we shall also rise to be with Him.
Some had doubts during that time, even in the church, so Paul addressed this issue to encourage us and give us hope.
Jesus came to give us life eternal, abundant life. And part of that comes from knowing and believing and having hope, in what is to come.
Because Christ died and was then resurrected, together we share in that hope of resurrection as well !
The Apostle Peter also wrote of this hope    Read:  1 Peter  1:3-9  
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Peter said that we have been given a new birth into a living hope. It is a living hope because Jesus was resurrected and is NOW (present tense) now alive in heaven. And that hope should be alive in you!
Today we see too many people in despair because they count on, or build their lives on the wrong things.  They put their faith in and hope in things that won’t last: wood hay and stubble; the things of this world.
Jesus once said, “What good will it be if you gain the whole world yet loose your soul.”
A philosopher in the early 1900’s, Bertrand Russell was an outspoken atheist. He even wrote a book called Why I Am Not A Christian.
When Russell was 81 years old, he was interviewed on a BBC radio talk show. The interviewer asked him what he had to hang onto when death was obviously so close. Russell responded, “I have nothing to hang onto but grim, unyielding despair.”
What an honest yet hopeless response. You see, when you live only for this life, and only for what it has to offer, and when you think that this is all there is, you can’t help but eventually fall into despair.
But for those of us who are in Christ Jesus, there is hope. A living hope, because we anticipate a time when death and decay will no longer exist.
Paul wrote in Romans 8:18-19 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.”
In verse 19, that phrase “eager expectation” is a picturesque word that means “to stretch the neck in anticipation.” Have you ever waited for someone to come home on a plane? As the people come off the ramp you stretch and strain to see them as soon as possible. Paul says creation is in that type of existence, longing to see what God is going to do.
And the next thing that Paul goes on to say in that text is. (vv. 22-24) “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all.”
Have you been there? When you ache or groan in this world of materialism, and pain, and frustration knowing what God has waiting for us in Glory?   If you are in Christ, you have this promise that there is something better. So as we groan, we remember our hope. Some day things will be better. That is our hope! And that hope can and should affect our present disposition.
You see, this Biblical view points us to a hope that is greater than the world we live in. And, if we are in Christ, we have been infused with an eternal sense of hopefulness. So for the Christian, there is no such thing as a hopeless life. We may not like a particular situation we are in, or what’s going on in our life right now, but you should never be hopeless or without hope.
Paul expands on this idea a little more in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. He writes,
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
So why does Paul and others talk about our hope in Christ?
1. Because we need to be encourages and reminded that this world is not our home..
2. Because I believe he knows that this hope will keep us from settling for the things of this world.
Scott Dudley put it this way: “Never in history have so many had so much for so long and been so depressed about it.”  Fulfillment doesn’t come from that stuff.  Bu when we adopt an eternal mindset, stuff looses its significance.
When we recognize that the things of this world aren’t going to last forever, we realize that there is no complete sense of fulfillment in collecting stuff. When we place our hope in God and what He has to offer, we don’t try to satisfy our groanings with the things of this world. In hope, we anticipate that God will satisfy us in ways that cannot be understood in this lifetime.
3. I believe Paul knew that our hope can turn our eyes away from our present pain, or hardships to God’s glory.
The good news is that, in Christ, we live knowing that the pain of this world will give way to the painless reality of heaven. The promise from the Bible is that in that time Christ will take away our pain and will dry all our tears.  That hope can and should infuses us now with the ability to turn our eyes away from our pain to God’s glory.
The hope that we have in Christ is a great power. It will sustain us. It will comfort us and give us peace. It give the Christian a sense of purpose  and a reason to live for and serve God. As Paul found out some may even laugh at us and even try to persecute us for our belief. But be assured of this, those who know that they are in Christ Jesus will always have hope.
So hang in there everyone, and never forget the hope you have in Jesus!!!

In The Desert of Sorrow and Sin, Be Prepared by Alfred Shannon Jr.

https://biblicalproof.wordpress.com/2011/03/page/3/


No one understands the value of water, until the well runs dry. Just as in the days of Noah, no one saw the necessity of the ark, until the flood came. Don’t wait until you’re thrown into the lake of fire, before you see the necessity of water. In the desert of sorrow and sin, be prepared with your obedience to the gospel of Christ.
1 Cor 15:1-4; Rom 10:17; Rom 10:10; Acts 2:38; Rev 2:10; Rev 21:6; Isa 48:18

I’M SURE I READ IT SOMEWHERE by Jim McGuiggan

https://jimmcguiggan.wordpress.com/2017/04/

I’M SURE I READ IT SOMEWHERE

Why did God come?
The answer’s simple, isn’t it? He is infinitely holy and we’re abysmally sinful so He came to punish and damn us. Well, that’s what holy people do, isn’t it? They cut the unholy off and speak the truth when they say that that’s all the unholy deserve. How can you argue with that? Can you imagine the unholy claiming that their unholiness merits reward? That would be dumb. That would be sinfully dumb! So now we know, the infinitely holy God came to punish and damn us. He came to pay us back for what we did to Him and to His Son.
Oh well, what can we expect?
But…um…He went about it a funny way didn’t He? You would think He could have damned us without ever leaving His house; without ever coming to deliver the verdict personally. Are you sure He came to condemn us? Here He came to tell us personally that He wants to damn us and what does He do? He heals our sick, feeds our hungry, weeps over us, raises our dead and…forgives our sins. Forgives our sins?
Wait. Wait. Wait!! Wait just a minute! That’s not the behavior of someone who came to damn us!
And on what grounds did He forgive our sins? He said He had come to give His life a ransom for us (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6)? And on what grounds did He heal our sicknesses? We’re told He healed them by bearing them (Matthew 8:16-17)?
This is so confusing. The Holy God came in and as Jesus Christ to damn us and yet He carries our diseases and gives His life a ransom for us? And didn’t I hear that as He passed a cup of wine at the Passover He said, “This is my blood, which is shed for the forgiveness of sins”?
Maybe He didn’t come to condemn us!
Sigh.
If only when He came He had said something like: “God did not send Me, His Son, into the (sinful) world to condemn the world but that the world through Me might have life.”
Yesssss…yesssss…now that I think about it…now that I think about it…I do believe I read that somewhere.
Think I’ll go and look that up.

Let us be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God by Roy Davison

http://www.oldpaths.com/Archive/Davison/Roy/Allen/1940/stewards.html

Let us be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God
Paul wrote: “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1, 2).
What is a steward?

A steward is someone who has been entrusted with the possessions or affairs of someone else with the understanding that he is to care for them and manage them responsibly.
A steward must be trustworthy.

Every position of responsibility involves stewardship.

How would you feel if someone gave you a briefcase containing diamonds worth thousands of dollars, and asked you to walk through the streets of a large city and deliver them to another address?

Brother Gus Amssoms went to be with the Lord many years ago. When he retired, after working for 45 years as a laborer in Antwerp, he had not missed a single day of work because of illness. He was a trustworthy man.

Antwerp, Belgium is the diamond-cutting capital of the world. About 2000 gem-related offices are located in a one-square-mile area near the central train station.

After Gus retired, he was given a part-time job as a diamond courier. If you had been a tourist in Antwerp, you might have seen an elderly workman with a gentle smile walking through the narrow streets of Antwerp carrying an old, worn-out briefcase. You would have never dreamed that his briefcase contained diamonds worth thousands of dollars. He did not have a gun or a bulletproof vest or an armored vehicle. He had something that the diamond merchants considered much safer and more secure. He had a gentle, innocent appearance and he was a completely dependable man.

As Christians, we must be faithful stewards of something much more valuable than a briefcase full of diamonds: the mysteries of God.
What are the mysteries of God?

The mysteries of God are truths known only by revelation: “According to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith” (Romans 16:25, 26).
The wonders and intricacies of life, prove the existence of a Creator. But only through the Bible can we know who this Creator is and what our relationship with Him can be through His Son Jesus Christ.
A steward is answerable to his master.

Preachers and elders must remember that they, as stewards, are answerable to God not to man. Paul wrote: “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness - God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others” (1 Thessalonians 2:4-6).
Unfaithful stewards will be punished by God.

The Lord was angry with the unfaithful prophets under the old covenant: “‘I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, “I have dreamed, I have dreamed!” How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal. The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?’ says the Lord. ‘Is not My word like a fire?’ says the Lord, ‘And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,’ says the Lord, ‘who steal My words every one from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophets,’ says the Lord, ‘who use their tongues and say, “He says.” Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,’ says the Lord, ‘and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all,’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:25-32).

In our time as well, many falsely claim to be prophets, leading people astray by the lies they speak in the name of the Lord.
As stewards, we must speak God’s word faithfully.

All Christians must be good stewards of the grace of God. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do so as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:10, 11).

This great responsibility rests doubly on elders, teachers and preachers because of their leadership position.

A bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God” (Titus 1:7). An elder must hold “fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

Peter wrote: “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:1-3). Elders are stewards of God, His flock has been entrusted to their care.

Paul was entrusted with the gospel because God considered him faithful: “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry” (1 Timothy 1:12).

Paul mentions the faithfulness of several men with whom he worked. He calls Epaphras “our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf” (Colossians 1:7). He refers to Tychicus as “a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord” and to Onesimus as “a faithful and beloved brother” (Colossians 4:7-9). Peter refers to Silvanus as “our faithful brother” (1 Peter 5:12). Let us follow their example, and be faithful servants of Christ.

This solemn command, given by Paul to Timothy, echoes through the ages: “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:1-5).
The message must be faithfully passed on to following generations of teachers.

As faithful stewards of the mysteries of God we must pass the message on. Paul told Timothy: “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1, 2).
What have we learned?
1. As stewards, we have been entrusted with the mysteries of God, the good news of salvation by grace through the sacrifice of Christ.
2. We are answerable to God and must speak His word faithfully, striving to please God rather than men.
3. God will punish unfaithful stewards.
4. We must faithfully pass on the mysteries of God to the next generation of faithful stewards.


Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes” (Luke 12:42, 43). Amen.
Roy Davison The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive
http://www.oldpaths.com