Friday, November 28, 2008

Commentary on Matthew 24 Part one of five

Commentary on Matthew 24, part 1

Matthew 24 is among the most heavily debated passages in Bible Prophecy discussions, especially for those who debate the timing of the rapture. It is troublesome for those who preach the pretribulation rapture, because verse 29 contains the phrase "...after the tribulation..." and then goes on to describe events which appear strikingly like the rapture. I teach the pretribulation rapture, but I disagree with the popular pretribulation arguments that attempt to explain the passage: For example, one argument is that the entire passage is for the Jews only, written to the Jews and not Christians. The conclusion that follows from that is that the passage does not contain any information about the rapture at all. Such popular teachings are unconvincing, and I think wrong, which is my reason for writing this commentary. Many people have said that it is irresponsible to say that large parts of the New Testament are not for us. I believe Matthew 24 is written to Christians, and teaches about the rapture, and this commentary will explain how and why this passage need not be troublesome, but supports the pretribulation rapture position.

One method of understanding Matt 24:29 is through the realization that the great tribulation takes place during the Day of the Lord. I will provide several scriptural arguments to back this assertion. Thus, the stellar signs which signal the beginning of the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:31) also come before the seven year great tribulation. This shows that the stellar signs would not be after the "great tribulation" (verse 29 does not say "great") but would be "after the tribulation" of today, and I will examine the stellar signs in depth, which will indicate that the stellar signs suggest the pretribulation event of Satan being cast out of heaven.

So, one of the other ways through which I have come to understand the passage is by recognizing many of the double references in the passage. Specifically, the word "tribulation" in Matt 24:29 has been interpreted by many people to refer to the past history of the Church, while others say it refers to the future tribulation. If we simply let the passage retain both of these Biblical meanings so that word "tribulation" refers to two times, both today and the future, then the problem for the pretrib position is solved: Thus, I believe the general tribulations that the Church has always experienced will end with the rapture, the stellar signs, the casting out of Satan, and the start of the Day of the Lord at the beginning of the future great tribulation. The second meaning and fulfillment of Matt 24:29-31 would then be that the future "great tribulation" will end with the gathering together of the Jews.

Thirdly, my understanding has come from letting scriptural comparisons give the interpretation. 1 Corinthians 2:13 "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."

The fourth method that has helped me to understand Matthew 24 is through the study of the Feast of Trumpets and the Jewish Wedding, both of which teach about the pretribulation rapture. This commentary will not focus on the Wedding, nor the Feast of Trumpets, since those are each topics large enough for their own study, but I will bring the conclusions that those studies make to this discussion, as supporting evidence.

Although people who argue for the post tribulation rapture quote Matt 24:29-31 frequently, they usually have relatively little to say about the passage, giving little analysis, although they do typically attempt to make scriptural comparisons to 1 Thess 4-5, Rev 6 and Joel 2:31. They often claim scripture is easy to understand, (in contrast to the Bible's statements about itself such as contained in Prov 25:2, Isaiah 44:18, Ezek. 14:9, 2 Cor 4:3, Matthew 11:25, Mat 13:10-11, 2 Peter 3:16, John 12:16, 16:12, 1Cor 2:7-8, 3:2, 13:12, 14:22). Thus, they claim that Matthew 24:29 is the final answer for their side of the debate, "it's after the tribulation", and think nothing else need be said. While a few obvious scriptural comparisons of the stellar signs to the day of the Lord are often made, they are apt to draw the wrong conclusions because they refuse to acknowledge the stellar signs are related to Satan being cast out of heaven, they typically ignore comparisons to Deut 30:1-4, Isaiah 11 & 27 & Zech 2:6, and they erroneously place the Day of the Lord after the great tribulation. They also assume the stellar signs of the sixth seal Revelation 6 must come late in the tribulation or after the tribulation, although there is no basis in Revelation 6 for making such a claim.

Matthew 24-25 is also known as "the Olivet Discourse". Luke contains very similar wording to Matthew 24, but in Luke, parallel passages are spread out and contained in Luke chapters 12, 17, & 21. Guessing when Jesus actually spoke each passage is part of the "Synoptic problem". I will quote Luke and Mark to help explain Matthew, in line with the Bible's command that we should be "comparing spiritual things with spiritual", (1 Corinthians 2:13) and to let the Bible interpret itself. I do not believe I need to prove when various things were said. In all the gospel accounts, these are the words that Jesus spoke, and he probably repeated himself and certain themes all the time. I would not claim that parallel passages are unimportant or irrelevant simply because another gospel records that Jesus spoke a parallel passage at a different time and place. I cannot dismiss any scripture. (2 Timothy 3:16) "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." Nor can I dismiss any slight nuance of scripture. Paul and Jesus both made arguments that hung on a single letter or jot and tittle. This examination is long because it examines many details.

Regarding double meanings:

There is a popular rule of Hermeneutics, or Bible interpretation, which says, "Although there can be more than one application in a passage, there can be only one meaning." Unfortunately, I have never seen the Bible say this or teach this concept. Nor have I ever seen anyone ever provide a scriptural basis for this method of understanding scripture. We should let scripture teach us how to interpret scripture, and not use arbitrary man-made rules that go against common sense. This hermeneutic rule of "only one meaning" is a concept and tradition of men.

Such a rule is designed to prevent wild speculations of meanings. However, as a man-made invented rule, designed to prevent man-made invented interpretations, it seems rather ironic and thus, self defeating.

Although this rule is popular among academic circles, I reject it. There are other academic circles which laugh at such silly things, and I speak of five year olds who tell jokes which are funny because a word ends up meaning something other, or in addition to, that which was originally thought when setting up the joke. Thus, since it is such common sense, I do not feel I have to prove the general principle that words in real life can have more than one meaning at once.

Nor do I feel a need to prove this from examples elsewhere in scripture, that words can have more than one meaning, or that passages can refer to two different prophetic events at once. I suppose I could list 10-20 or so other examples in scripture where I see this happening, but then this would be a commentary on those cases, and not on Matt 24. All I need to prove is that there is evidence in Matt 24 for double meanings, and my case is made.

In contrast, those who wish to prove their hermeneutic rule of "only one meaning" have an overwhelmingly large burden of proof upon them since they must prove that this is a rule which must apply everywhere in scripture. Furthermore, they need to prove that God tells us somewhere in his book that this is the approach we must have. They fail on both counts, and so I reject their rule as wrong. The problem with umbrella rules like this is that one exception is enough to prove the rule invalid.

Thus, those who would discard my explanation of the pretribulation rapture in Matthew 24 on the basis of the rule of "only one meaning" really need to ask themselves which they value more, a rule of men, or the Word of God?

Furthermore, there are two ways this rule might not necessarily be invalidated by my exposition. First, the word "tribulation", although referring to two times, still means "distress & trouble" in both cases. Second, the "one meaning" may well be a choice of determining which ONE of three options is correct. A. Tribulation refers to the future "great tribulation". B. Tribulation refers to the tribulation of Church history. or C. Tribulation refers to both time periods.

I will conclude this section by saying that the "Word of God" itself has a duel meaning, since we use it not only as a term for the Bible, but it is also one of the names of our Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 19:13 "...his name is called The Word of God." John 1:14 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us..."

Duel meanings in the Olivet Discourse

In the Olivet Discourse itself, this technique of two prophecies being mixed together was being used regarding the subject of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Luke records the historical fulfillment more strongly than the other gospel accounts in Mark and Matthew. When Jerusalem was surrounded by armies, the Christians fled when the army left. (Luke 21:20 "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.") This prophecy seems to be mixed together with the description of the abomination of desolation, which is yet future. That this passage contained relevant prophecy for early Christians should be enough evidence that the Olivet Discourse was not written to the Jews exclusively, but to us also, given that the people who took the warning to heart and fled were Christians. After they fled, the Roman army came back and destroyed the city. Then, Luke 21:6 was fulfilled by the armies who destroyed the Temple to retrieve the gold of the Temple which melted into the cracks between the stones. (Luke 21:6 "As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.")

This historic fulfillment proves several things. First, the Olivet discourse is prophecy, the Word of God, and that it is accurate and reliable beyond any of man's writings. A near term partial fulfillment in prophetic writings often established their authority, even in Old Testament times. Second, it shows that the passage clearly has a duel fulfillment in view, the historic abomination of desolation fulfillment of 70 AD with the destruction of the temple, and at least one more future fulfillment of the abomination of desolation. Third, we are given proof that elements in the passage are not given in chronological order, since Luke 21:20 was fulfilled first, when the armies surrounded, and then Luke 21:6 when the stones of the temple were later upturned.

It can be confusing to try and see two separate events that are both prophesied at once in the same passage of scripture. Such requires much study, and perhaps this is what is meant in 2 Timothy 2:15 "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

This concept, that duel meanings exist in words and in prophecies, aids in understanding that the word "tribulation" in Matt 24:29, can easily refer to both the present day tribulation of Christians, and also the unique future time of great tribulation which is unlike any other. And since this is the heart of the explanation of Matt 24:29, it should be no surprise that this hermeneutic of recognizing duel references is viciously attacked.

Truly, the passage is not as simple as post trib authors frequently claim. I'm not saying that God is the author of confusion, but people, who do not know how to rightly divide the scriptures, and who may not have studied well, can be confused, and fail to recognize the principle from Proverbs 25:2 "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." Misunderstanding can come from failing to search the scriptures fully, or by not having been taught correctly. Truly my exposition is not necessary for understanding, since the Holy Spirit is the guide to all truth. 1 John 2:27 "...ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." Nevertheless, God has provided teachers for the body of Christ (Hebrews 5:12, 2 Timothy 2:2,24, 1 Corinthians 12:28 ), and one cannot use 1 John 2:27 to reject knowledge of the scriptures. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God should guide you, the reader, as to whether or not my scripture presentations are truth.

Is the Olivet Discourse addressed to the Jews "only", or Christians too?

It is a popular view that this passage is not written to Christians at all. The view that this "entire" passage is to the "Jews only" is a rather broad umbrella type argument that would collapse if only one exception is found. A context based argument such as "The passage is to the Jews only" cannot be rightfully used to refute that the rapture is being spoken of in the passage because such an over reaching context based argument collapses in the face of evidence to the contrary. Here are eight obvious evidences that the Olivet Discourse, and thus Matt 24-25, is to Christians also, and not to the "Jews only". I am not refuting that this passage is to the Jews, but rather, my point is that the actual context of the Olivet Discourse is spoken to both Jews and Christians: Even if it be granted that Matt 24 is to the "Jews only", that would include true Christians who are Jews inwardly, since Christians are heirs of Abraham. Romans 2:29 "But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." Galatians 3:29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

1. Mark records at the end of the Olivet Discourse that Jesus said his words were for all, not just the disciples, in Mark 13:37 "And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch."

2. Luke 12:35-44 mirrors this concept that a specific parable from the Olivet Discourse is spoken "unto all", but gives a slightly different answer. Luke records the question from Peter to the Lord, "speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?" This question is regarding the parables of watching for the thief, the goodman of the house, the faithful steward, and not knowing the day or hour. These parables from Luke 12 are recorded as part of the Olivet Discourse in Mark 13:32-37 and Matt 24:42-47. Mark's account of these same parables gives the more specific answer, Mark 13:37 "And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch." It is as if Luke and Mark record different bits of the same conversation, Luke leaving out the answer "unto all", and Mark leaving out the question that repeats the same concept that the Lord is speaking "to all". The answer in Luke 12:41-44 is not the phrase "unto all", the answer is the faithful steward who rules. The faithful steward parable, in connection with the same context of the Lord coming at the unknown time, is repeated in Matthew 24:42-47. Ruling is the promise to faithful Christians. (Rev 2:26-27, Rev 3:21, Rev 5:10). Thus, if the Lord is speaking to the faithful steward who rules, he is speaking to Christians who will be raptured.

3. The Olivet Discourse was spoken to the 12 disciples, who were Jews yes, but believing Jews. And there is no difference between believers, Jew or Gentile, all in Christ are Christians.

Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Colossians 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

These speak of believing Jews. There is no difference among those who are in Christ, among those who are believers. The Jewish disciples, therefore, represent their fellow Christians. The disciples might represent the unbelieving Jewish nation, but because the disciples are not unbelievers, they represent Christians first, and only maybe unbelieving Jews also, but only on a symbolic level.

4. The martyrs for the faith in the Olivet Discourse were both the Apostles and Christians. Luke 21:12 says they will be brought before kings, and Paul was arrested to be brought before Ceasar, Acts 25:10, Acts 27:24, Acts 28:19

Luke 21:12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. 13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony. 14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: 15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. 16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. 17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.

Matthew 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

Mark 13:11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. 12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. 13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

5. Matt 24:4-13 read like a history of the Church.

6. Luke's words from the Olivet Discourse saved the lives of Christians in 70 AD, when they had opportunity to flee before the destruction of the city. Unbelieving Jews did not heed these words, and they perished in the city. Christians heard these words, and Christian lives were saved.

Luke 21:20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.

7. There are words to servants who are believers, Luke 12:42-48, Matt 24:45-51 Jews are not believers, but unbelievers. Romans 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

8. Many people simply admit and feel that there is no basis for tearing out parts of the Bible as irrelevant to them. Although there may be a phrase or verse that speaks to the Jews only, that is no basis for saying the entire prophetic passage is written only to them. Likewise, the evidence above should not be construed to mean that the entire passage is to Christians only. I believe the passage contains prophecies for both the now-unbelieving Jewish nation at large, and believing Christians all throughout history.

In addition to these several obvious quotes, each verse in Matt 24 that teaches about the rapture is an indirect piece of evidence that this passage is written to Christians who will be raptured.

What follows next are parallel bible verses that show Matt 24 contains prophecy which is specific for the Jews that have been scattered among the nations.

Matt 24:30-31 compared with Deut 30:1-4.

It is likely that Jesus had in mind several Old Testament passages regarding the return of the Jews when he spoke his words as recorded in Matt 24:30-31, (& Mark 13 & Luke 21): In the Greek Septuagint, many of the words are the same between Deut 30 and Matt 24. Specifially, I will note that the word "heaven" can be used of the earth. Jews who were "driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven" is a phrase meaning that people are driven to remote parts of the earth.

Matthew 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds,from one end of heaven to the other.

Deuteronomy 30: 1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, 2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; 3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. 4 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: Comparing Matt 24:30-31 to Isaiah 11:11-12, Isaiah 27:12-13

I see that there are at least four concepts in common:

1. The elect, Israel, are gathered together. 2. There is a sign for the nations. 3. The great trumpet shall be blown. 4. They are gathered from the four corners of the earth.

Separately, these 4 concepts contain 8 elements: 1. The elect, Israel 2. are gathered together 3. there is a Sign 4. For the nations 5. Great Trumpet 6. Blown & sounds 7. From four corners 8. Of the Earth

The final comparison is that this is a supernatural gathering done by angels or by the Lord's power: "be gathered one by one" with "he shall send his angels". "The Lord shall set his hand... to recover... his people".

Isaiah 11:11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. 12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Isaiah 27:12 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel. 13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.

Matthew 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Isaiah 11:11 "the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people" Isaiah 27:12 "ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel." Isaiah 27:13 "they shall come which were ready to perish... and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem" Matthew 24:31 "And he shall send his angels... they shall gather together his elect"

Isaiah 11:12 "he shall set up an ensign for the nations" Matthew 24:30 "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn"

Isaiah 27:13 "the great trumpet shall be blown" Matthew 24:31 "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet"

Isaiah 11:12 "from the four corners of the earth." Matthew 24:31 "from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Mark 13:27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

These similarities are all contained in Matt 24:30-31, not verse 29 which I will examine in detail a bit later. I will paraphrase the description of this event as: The supernatural gathering together of the Israelites from the four corners of the earth when the great trumpet sounds after God has set up the sign of the Lord Jesus Christ for the nations.

The point of this scriptural comparison is to show that there is an event in Matt 24:30-31 which is NOT the rapture or translation of the Church to immortality. This is the gathering together of the Jews or Israelites. This should be enough to prove to those who already insist that the passage is about the rapture, which I agree with, that two events (the rapture, and the gathering of the Jews) are being mixed together in this one prophetic passage of Matt 24:30-31.

Other Passages to Compare

The following is a short list of other passages about the gathering together of the Jews, in addition to Deut 30:1-4 and Isaiah 11:11-12, 27:12-13. Take special note of Zechariah 2:6, it contains the same phrasing as Matthew 24:31 about the "four winds" and "of the heaven"

Zechariah 2:6 Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 30:3 For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.

Jer 23:3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.

Jer 23:7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 8 But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.

Isa 43:5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; Isa 43:6 I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;

See all of Ezekiel 36 & 37: Ezekiel 36:24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Ezekiel 37:21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:

Ezekiel 39:27 When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; 28 Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.

Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
Maranatha
Zelma

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

THE GRACE OF GOD PART TWO

Bob D (31 March 2007)
"The Grace of God and Five Part 2"


The Grace of God and Five Part 2

This world knows almost nothing about the grace of God. That is why it is an honor to write about this because I know in this hopeless planet people will come at the foot of the cross and accept Jesus Christ as their very own personal Savior in their heart if Christians present this subject correctly. There is a problem with the way the message of salvation is given today.Works are empathized over grace and without a doubt this theme appeals to the adamic nature of the spirit rather than a persons' real need for Jesus Christ. What is missing is (5) grace.

In Part One I just went over how examples of (5) were used as Jesus Christ walked thought planet earth in His earthly ministry. What a blessing to read the words of our Savior. I would like to give you a few more Bible truths and how it relates to this amazing principle of (5) grace. Here is the link for Part One. If you desire to backtrack, feel free. The Lord did indeed give me some very uplifting insights.



The life of Abram just speaks of the grace of God from his conversion to the end of his life. There was no real merit in him yet as Abram thought about God and His responsibility before Him, he came to know the Lord. God gave him an unconditional covenant, but for no real apparent reason and sealed it with (5) sacrifices in Genesis chapter 15. God gave Abram a promise through His grace. Hey is the "fifth" letter of the Hebrew alphabet. When the name of Abram was changed to Abraham there was a (Hey) added to his name.This is the fifth letter in the Hebrew alphabet. What people in general don't seem to understand is the grace of God makes all the difference in the world.If you are in a very strict environment and people are hammering the law everywhere, if just one person shows grace doesn't that stand out as love. It does to me. That is what God desires to give you through His Son except it is so much higher than any human could imagine. There is a world of difference between God and man.

God changed the name of Abram to Abraham when (Abram) was really starting to rely on the grace of God. To understand this you would have to read Genesis 16,17,and 18. God does this with most of His children. There comes a point when God with purpose pulls the rug out from under our lives so we will have no other choice but to rely on the grace of God. Look at the Apostle Paul. He prayed three times to get a healing from God and our Lord focused upon His grace being enough for Paul. Think about this for a second. Knowing what I know about Paul he would have doubled his efforts to get the gospel around the world. Instead from the wisdom of God,Paul learned and rested in the grace of our Lord. Abram had a deepening experience of grace and so did Paul. God desires to bring us to this point.

God bestows His grace when we walk by faith because these two go hand in hand. In Genesis chapter 28, God promised Jacob (the grandson of Abraham) five reassurances and they all involved a specific type of grace. It starts out as God giving him land and ends with God never forsaking him. This is all couched in "five" because God is describing His grace. This is not surrounded by four or six because these numbers symbolize something else.

I feel so inadequate to write about this subject yet so compelled. In that sense I feel divided. One of my favorite examples of the grace of God is in the way the Psalms are segmented into five books.The "fifth" book of the Psalms, which is the Deuteronomy section has a entire theme of grace from Psalm 107 to 150. Psalm 107,108, and 109 speak of the judgment of God in contrast to the "proceeding" chapters up to Psalm 150. These chapters (110 to 150) are pointing to the 1000 years of peace in the millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ.The fifth book of the Psalms is the only section that talks about the grace of God all over the place.The first four books (the Genesis through Numbers section) focuses on worldly themes. Four is the number of the world system and in these books we see so much conflict. In the fifth book of the Psalms praise and worship accelerate because of the "grace" of God. Since four is the number of the world, weakness,conflict,or a sense of hopelessness is present.In the first 4 books of the Psalms If an individual were to add 1 to 4 (4 +1) the strength of God is added to the despair of man.This is exactly what we see in the fifth book of the Psalms. This is the grace of God. In this context of "five" we see how close we really are to the return of Jesus Christ.

I believe the most important passage in the Bible relative to grace and 5 is Romans 11:5-6. "Even so at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of (1) grace. And if by (2) grace, then it is no more of (1) works: otherwise (3) grace is no more (4) grace. But if it be of (2) works,then is it no more (5) grace: otherwise (3) work is no more (4) work." You may ask yourself what are all these numbers? A total of (5) for grace and (4) for works." Grace is mentioned (5) times for obvious reasons that I already went over. Works are mentioned (4) times because it is not of God. It is of man. It is very interesting to me that 4 is divisible by 2.Two is the number of division. The people that try to work their way to God are divided against themselves. True grace with God does not divide, it unites us with the person of Jesus Christ.

I will explain the exercise of futility that being a decent person will get you to heaven. Much of what I would like to say is in James 2:10. "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." So all it takes is one time. This is the standard of God. Imagine you are hanging from a cliff and there are 10 links on one chain that you are holding on to for your life. These 10 links represent the ten commandments. If just one link breaks you fall.Be honest with yourself. Did you ever sin even one time? According to the Bible that is all it takes to be guilty before God. If you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior you are falling into the pits of hell and you desperately need the grace of God.

It is amazing to me that survey after survey has been taken and the average person in this world will judge themselves based on their own curve (I'm not so good but I am not all that bad either) rather than the standard of God. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jer.17:9. I am talking hard core prisoners when interviewed will usually say something to the order of "I really believe I am not that bad of a person." Do you see the problem? God says we are bad. We desperately need a Savior for our sins. His name is Jesus Christ. It would be wise to make that eternal decision today if you have not already done so. Of course the choice is up to you. I can assure you Jesus Christ did not suffer on the cross so a person would say, "I am not really all that bad." When individuals make these kinds of statements they see no need for a Savior to deliver them from their sins.

I don't believe it is by coincidence that in Ephesians chapter 4 "five" forms of giving the gospel of Jesus Christ are mentioned. (1)Apostles,(2) Prophets,(3) Evangelists,(4) Pastors and (5) Teachers. There are five because their emphasis must be on the grace of God through His Son Jesus Christ. Without grace how could anybody be saved? It would be ridiculous for me as a child of God,saved by His grace at the judgment seat of Jesus Christ to say "Judge me by the law. Punish me for everything I did." Because I accepted the Lord I am not under condemnation. I am under grace. Romans 8:1.Is it not just as absurd to say, "I am basically a good person?" Be fair with yourself. Do not judge yourself based on your opinions. Judge yourself based on the standard of God. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23. Accept this provision of God for your salvation. His name is Jesus Christ! He loves you and desires to come into your heart today. All you have to do is ask. Jesus Christ is patiently waiting, but time is running short.

Hoping to see you in that place of love called heaven on the other side,

Bob D.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

MORNING IS BREAKING

Morning is Breaking...

Thank You God, for Your Love;
Thank You God, for Your Son;
Thank You God, for His Precious Blood,
Shed for us, Whom you have called.
Thank You God, that we have heard You,
and have chosen to trust, believe, and obey,
Your Word, Your Love,
Thank you for the opportunities to Love others
and show them Your Love.
Thank you God, for giving us the choice,
to walk in Your Light and have Life Everlasting.
Thank You God, for the Peace that passes all understanding.
Thank you God for the Morning, For each new day.....
I Love you Lord Jesus, Sheridan

Song: Morning has Broken
["Child in the manger, Infant of Mary"]

lyrics by Eleanor Farjeon

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day


The lyrics[2] were written by Eleanor Farjeon in 1922 and are found in the hymnals of many denominations.[3] The original poem can be found in the anthology "Children's Bells" under Farjeon's original title A Morning Song (For the First Day of Spring), published by Oxford University Press in 1957. The tune to which it is normally sung is called "Bunessan", based upon a Scottish Gaelic traditional melody. Before Farjeon's words, it was used as a Christmas carol which began "Child in the manger, Infant of Mary", translated from the Gaelic lyrics written by Mary MacDonald.[4]



God gives to each, equally, a morning, bright and shiny;

a new day, to fill as we will;

Full of Hope and the opportunity that it will be lived according to His Will.

We each decide, from our waking how our new day will be lived out.

How we will allow Him to Bless us - or need to chasten us.

Whether we will greet those in our lives with a smile and gladness,

as a witness of Him and the Joy in our lives,

or by our actions and deeds that we are not yet conformed to His Way.

It's our choice, Divinely Inspired, Freely Given.

Yet, even when we falter, He Forgives if we only ask, for He has already

Paid the Price in our place. But we cannot forget to tell Him;

to give Him the opportunity to show us His Mercy - once again.



Sometimes our day goes awry, but I remember a little saying:

A day hemmed in Prayer, rarely comes unraveled"

....but if it does, God is always there, waiting to listen,

always wanting to help us along our way.

Desiring only to return us to His Way....through His Amazing Love.

Love,
Sheridan

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Grace of God

Bob D (30 March 2007) "The Grace of God and Five Part One"

The Grace of God and Five Part One

I have to be honest with you. I have gone over four numbers so far and I am most excited about explaining this subject. I have heard people say "too much grace is not good," yet as I read the Bible I find this statement to be incorrect from God to His Children.It is true in one respect that we have to live our lives but to put limits on the grace of God sounds impossible to me. We cannot understand how much God really does love us. I recently went over this number and explained from a worldly point of view that in essence we are surrounded by four walls. That is a prison. I also went over the transcendent meaning of the number 4 which speaks of the love of God. So here we see an option, a choice as it were-the confines of the world system or the love of God flowing through our spirit. Then we arrive at the number 5 which has grace written all over the number. Get excited about this because in a world of law we need all the grace we can receive from God through His Son Jesus Christ.

Did you notice how this world is getting more "law originated?" Some people would respond "well it has always been like that." I would say "there is no question about that." What I am talking about is a trend that I am noticing on planet earth in comparison to the 1990's up to this point. Back in the 1990's the concentration in many countries was, you are an individual with rights. Now there are so many laws yet so little grace. That is what happens when a group of people reject the love of God. They go to the only other alternative which is law.

Over here in America I find this to be a society that is good in many ways; however, our country seems to have everything yet nothing. So many options yet so little opportunity. The economy is not bad yet we are knee deep in debt. I remember back in the 1980's the national debt was starting to go up. Many people were disturbed that one trillion dollars was way too high. This was a real issue back in that era.Do you know how high the national debt is now? It is coming close to 9 trillion dollars! In Time Square which is in New York they have a billboard that second by second shows the debt going up and trust me the numbers are moving so fast that if you were to look at the motion you would not even be able to follow it. The presence (grace) of God is slowly being removed from this country because when individuals,societies and a nation as a whole reject the love of God , law and lawlessness go hand in hand.In Deuteronomy chapter 28, God was instructing ancient Israel that if they obeyed Him they would be blessed. If they did not they would be cursed. In verse 44 "He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail." Deuteronomy 28:44. This verse is saying that one of the signs that a country is under or coming close to the judgment of God is excessive debt.The tail is a biblical way of describing our modern word for debt. So many laws but it is interesting that just like the electronic billboard in Time Square suggests, we live in a runaway society. Don't get me wrong. I am not against laws; however, grace should be the emphasis and maybe a little common sense if you know what I mean.

I remember a couple of years ago the Lord gave me a dream at night time when I was sleeping. I know all about the controversy over dreams. We can't necessarily trust them and it is way too subjective. Perhaps, but the Lord still called me to share this with you. There were only two characters in my dream. Both men were dressed well with signs on them going over their chests and stomachs. One said law and the other said mercy. The man who represented law was relentless in attacking the man who represented mercy. He kept quoting the law very loud at mercy. Each time this would happen the man who represented mercy threw his hands up in the air trying to explain that he had nothing to do with the law.Each time this would happen law would be even more determined to make his point. Mercy kept throwing his hands up in the air saying "I have nothing to do with you because I am on the other side."

It is very interesting to me that Luke 16:26 says "And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence." This is a verse that describes the souls that died before Jesus Christ died on the cross. They went to either the Paradise section of Sheol (Hades) or the suffering section. The Righteous went to the good side because they accepted the grace and mercy of God. The wicked went to the bad side because they chose law rather than grace. That "great gulf" described in this verse kind of reminds me of my dream. The man of law could not pass over to mercy and the man of mercy could not pass over to law.One man made his position very clear (law), the other (mercy) refused to join him in any way.

As this was taking place I could hear words coming from the throne of God that I never knew. If "I were able" to translate this into the English language I suppose the words would be 75 letters long. I don't even know. The Lord gave me understanding that each and every word meant a specific form of mercy. I did not see any of this, I only heard. The motion picture I saw were the two men at an impasse; however, a portion of heaven was open to my ears. When a heavenly word of mercy was spoken it seemed to me that an applause in paradise expanded into togetherness at what this truly meant. The words were spoken very fast with no hesitation. I have not ruled out that it was Jesus Christ Himself speaking these words.That was the sense I had in my spirit. The very moment the words were spoken there seemed to be many joyous responses. They were actually living out the reality of the grace of God and understood exactly what was being said and why.They were in full agreement. Such hugh words. Rest assured God never wanted me to forget this dream.My Lord Jesus knew exactly where I was, preciously what I was going through and how to portray His message to me.

Trying to explain the heavenly portion of this dream is near close to impossible but the main idea was so clear. Heaven was not on the side of the man of law. The man with the sign of mercy over his chest and stomach clearly had the blessings of heaven.When I logically thought about this dream, I found myself asking "Am I a law man or a person of grace." I sensed God gave me this dream because He knew I was struggling with this issue. This is an example of the mercy of God.

As Christians we are looking for the rapture of the church which ends this age of grace.The world moves into the dispensation of law and the kingdom. As you can see the grace of God through His Son Jesus Christ is the most important subject in the universe. Our salvation, whether we will be a part of the rapture, and our eternity hinge upon this one biblical truth!

I would like to start with the person of Jesus Christ because if there is any hope for grace it is through Him. Isaiah introduces our Savior. "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6. As you can see 5 titles were ascribed to Jesus Christ. John 1:17 introduces Jesus Christ as grace and truth. The Apostle Paul often said "Grace and peace be unto you. Peace comes after grace. The fifth title Isaiah through the Holy Spirit gave Jesus Christ Himself was "Prince of Peace."

Several months ago I prayed to the Lord that He would give me His supernatural peace by experience working through my spirit because I was going through so many trials. For the most part I never lost it.If I were to try and logically explain that I could not, but if I could this would not be grace.The Holy Spirit gives this to Believers. In that small section from John chapters 14-16, 4 times the Holy Spirit is referred to as the comforter. The fifth time He is written about is in Acts 9:31. "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied." This is mentioned 5 times because the peace of the Holy Spirit and His mercy are always present because of the Grace of God.

I always try and center every subject I write about around the person of Jesus Christ. Grace means favor. It could be in the form of mercy,compassion,or patience but the most popular way of looking at this is an unworthy sinner being saved by the grace of God.In Part One I just want of focus on some examples in the gospels because grace is found in the person of Jesus Christ.

In Matthew chapter 1 there are five women in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. If you were to read the Bible or their biographies they all had an incredible experience of the grace of God working through them. At the very beginning of the first chapter in the New Testament these five women, Rahab,Ruth,Tamar,Bethsheba,and Mary are pointing to the very essence of Jesus Christ (Grace) through the symbolic meaning of this biblical number because there are five.

Jesus Christ came to redeemed humanity from their sins. He being the very embodiment of grace really does fit the succession of order. (1) God the Father (2) Jesus Christ (3) Holy Spirit (4) Creation (5) Redemption. All you have to do is read one of the gospels and it will become evident how the average person was drawn to Jesus Christ because of His grace. Redemption and grace go hand in hand. Unfortunately most people reject this. "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Matthew 7:14. A wise person will accept Jesus Christ into his or her heart.

I would like to show you through numeric examples in the Bible why Jesus Christ is the very embodiment of grace. It is our responsibly to accept Him by faith as our personal Savior. That famous verse in Ephesians says "For by grace are ye saved through faith"... Ephesians 2:8. I would like to go in order and show you these examples from the backdrop of the number 5.Once again I am just going over examples at this point in the book of John and looking at Jesus Christ Himself.

The first two involve a man by the name of Nicodemus.This man was a Pharisee. He probably came to Jesus by night because he did not want to get caught. More then likely he was steeped in religion and took a couple of looks at Jesus and noticed there was something different in a good way. Nicodemus acknowledged Jesus as being of God because of his teachings and miracles. The response that Jesus gave him did not really have anything to do with what Nicodemus said. "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily,verily, I say unto thee,Except a man be born again,he cannot see the Kingdom of God." John chapter 3:3. Some things were said and then by the time the reader arrives at verse 13, 2 sets of 5 are written in Scripture to show us the sacrifice of Jesus Christ Himself on the cross and the hope of everlasting life people have through His eternal grace.

(1)" And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, (2) even so must the Son of man be lifted up.(3) That whosoever believeth in Him (4) should not perish,but have (5) eternal life." John 3:14-15. That (1),(2),(3),(4),and (5) are not verse segmentations. There numbers represent "5" distinct biblical truths that Jesus taught yet they are all tied into one principle (5) grace.

If that were not enough the verse right after those 2 follows the same pattern and it is the most popular in the entire bible. (1)"For God so loved the world, (2) that He gave His only begotten Son, (3) that whosoever believeth in Him, (4)should not perish, (5) but have everlasting life." John 3:16. Once again Jesus said five different truths in one subtext; (5) grace.

Moving through the gospels in John chapter "5", five porches comprised a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda. This whole chapter (5) carries a strong theme of grace. People were looking for grace around these five porches."And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years." Thirty eight in the Bible is the number that represents slavery. Jesus asked this man..."Wilt thou be made whole." John 5:6. This question was in the form of "5" words. Here we see a man in slavery helpless to save himself. The Bible says "Jesus saith unto him,rise,take up thy bed,and walk." John 5:8. Main theme; chapter 5, (grace) sub theme a new beginning; verse 8 (new beginnings). When Jesus spoke to heal him,He said "7" words, the number for spiritual perfection. Jesus Christ gave this man a new beginning (8) through His grace (5) by making him perfect (7) through Him. The "7" words (1) Rise (2)take (3)up (4) thy (5) bed (6) and (7) walk. Does that sound like salvation? We were helpless sinners unable to save ourselves until we accepted Jesus Christ into our hearts by faith. Then He gave us His grace. There is no way anybody could do that for themselves. Grace is a gift from God available to all through His Son Jesus Christ.

In closing there were 5 offerings in the tabernacle which was a place that described the grace of God. On the Alter of Sacrifice there were 5 offerings. (1) The Burnt Offering (2) The Peace Offering (3)The Sin Offering (4) The Trespass Offering and (5) The Meat Offering.All these offerings were precursors of the atoning death of Jesus Christ and they were comprised of "5". The death of our Savior on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice for us. As a result humanity has something called "grace" offered to them. It would be my pleasure to share some insights with you in Part 2 tomorrow. I have arrived at the number 5 only through the strength of God. I get to write about my favorite subject which would most definitely be the grace of God.

Until then have a nice day or night wherever you are,

Bob D.

WHERE IS JESUS

WHERE IS JESUS

So many people are in great despair at this time. So many are questioning God at what is going on. So very many are feeling their faith being tested beyond belief. They feel they are standing on sinking grounds as we see the things that are happening all over the globe. Do you feel in your spirit the impending gloom that seems to have settled all over. Almost like a fog that is looming just above you and it seems very dark and evil?
Fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, snow storms natural disasters all over the world. The stock market like a yo-yo going up and down and all around. The many stores that are closing around us and the many more we see that have no business because our economy is gone. Jobs gone all over the USA and many more yet to come.
Are you crying out WOE, WOE, WOE is me. Where will I be tomorrow or the next day, or the next week, or the next month. Jesus never promised us tomorrow. I would like to take you to the Sermon on The Mount. Please read these verses carefully and then Rely on Jesus.

Mat 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

Mat 6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

Mat 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Mat 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

Mat 6:23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

Mat 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Mat 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Mat 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Mat 6:27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

Mat 6:28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

Mat 6:29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Mat 6:30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Mat 6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

Mat 6:32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Mat 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Jesus is there for us all the time. He was in Genesis chapter 1. Jesus is still there in Revelation Chapter 22: 21. You are not alone my dear beloved ones, Jesus is here with each of us. He has told us I will never leave you nor forsake you. I will take care of all your needs. He asks us to Lean on Him, Rely on Him, Trust Him in all things. He is our God, Our Prophet, Priest and King. Jesus is in control of all that is going on around us. He hath you wrapped securely in His Arms. Reach out to Him, He is reaching out to you.
Praise Him for as these things take place know this That your Redemption draweth nigh. Maranatha Dear Jesus and He softly whisper back to us, Surely I Am coming Soon.
Agape
Zelma

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Rich Man, Lazarus and a Gentleman

Greetings To All in the Name of Jesus;
Below you will find a writing about my life and the wonderful Dad that I had and the vision that I had while praying for him. I told my vision to this friend and then with my permission he wrote about it. I would like to share it with you all, and pray for God's mercy on those of us who still have parents and their destiny is not sealed.

THE RICH MAN,LAZARUS AND A GENTLEMAN


Anybody that reads the Bible will not be able to avoid the subjects of Heaven or Hell. There is a lot of natural avoidance and tangents regarding these subjects. The average person usually ends up being deceived because the Bible says " because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Matthew 7:14. They probably are not even aware that it is happening. Our eternity is so much more important than our life. Our life is like a vapor in comparison to eternity. We are here and then we are gone. Since we are so close to the return of Jesus Christ this is an invaluable subject to talk about. The rich man, the poor man ( Lazarus) and the gentleman all died and went into eternity. The question is where did they go and why? The gentleman is not a character that came out of the Bible. He was a real human being. He told his children he would never leave them nor forsake them. He was very sincere in what he said and he truly gave his children a real sense of security. Jesus said this to His children in the very last verse in Matthew. He told His children that your problems are My problems and He meant it. Peter said in 1 Peter 5:7 " casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you." I personally believe on a scale of one to one hundred the gentleman was probably a ninety nine when it came to possessing Christ-like character qualities about himself; however, I don't believe he is in Heaven right now. As this article enfolds you will see why this man never accepted Jesus into his heart as his personal Savior. Of course I'm going to explain myself. I can't just make a huge statement like this without going over the subtle details on how this happened.
If you will notice I am choosing a person on one extreme ( the rich man) and another person on the other side of the fence in life ( the gentleman) but there are also many people in the middle area that reject Jesus Christ. Many don't even realize they are rejecting Him but they have ( in a subtle way) and I fear they will find out too late. They unfortunately will die and be eternally separated from God forever. It might be a good idea if you let me walk through these stories with you and explain to you some things that most people really don't understand.
If a person only tells the good side of a story they probably left out the other part of the picture. It is a travesty not to accept the love of God into your heart. It is almost as if many people are saying " I will do anything but that." Let me give you some examples. I was just talking to a guy the other day and he just started to do some evangelism. He told me when a question like " if you were to die and God were to ask you why I should allow you into My Kingdom, what would you say?" He said that over ninety five percent of the people responded something like " I believe in God", " because I am a good person", " I follow the Golden Rule", " I never hurt anybody", "I am a good family man", or " I go to church." These responses are conditional statements that are merit ( works) oriented such as " I go to church." The Bible says " for by Grace are you saved by faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) not of works, lest any man should boast." Eph. 2: 8,9. I don't want to be taken wrong and I'm sure there is a better way to say this but let's just say somebody asked you why you love you wife or husband. What if you said " well I take out the trash", " I sometimes take out the garbage", " " most of the time I do my fair share in walking the dog", " I do a lot of the cooking", " I clean the cabinets once a month." None of these responses are getting to the heart of the matter. The Bible says it is about entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. John 3:16, Titus 3:5, Acts 16:31, Roman 10:9,10, Eph. 2: 8,9, Acts 2:21, John 6:37. Of course there are more verses. We cannot contribute to our own salvation, but people want to believe in their hearts that they can. This is pride and any time the ego is involved man gets the glory. God deserves the glory through His Son, Jesus Christ. Salvation is by faith thought the finished work of Jesus Christ plus nothing. When people start throwing in all these additives they are missing the point. God loves you, He sent His Son to die for you and a person's responsibility is to accept Jesus into their very own heart. All these actions will be done in vain apart from Jesus Christ.
Let me just talk about the rich man and Lazarus briefly because I know you will get the main idea shortly. It is found in Luke 16: 19-31. Jesus mentions five things in about five seconds regarding the rich man in verse 19. He was (1) rich, (2) clothed in purple, (3) fine linen, (4) fared sumptuously, (5) not just one day but every day. By the way the color purple seems to represent the wicked on Earth trying to build their own kingdom down here on this planet. It's interesting that Jesus mentioned what color he was wearing. This color ( purple) seemed to be an everyday thing for the rich man. In verse 20 Lazarus was (1) a beggar, (2) he was laid at the rich man's gate, (3) he was full of sores. Lazarus was not just a poor man, he did not even have one cent to his name. We might not have too many problems in comparison to what Lazarus went through. In verse 21 I would first like to highlight what the number 21 in Scripture means-exceeding sinfulness of sin. From Egypt to Jordan, Israel had 21 bad sins. In 2 Timothy 3: 2-5 Paul lists 21 things that people would be doing right before Jesus Christ comes and they are all bad. If you decide to read those verses you will see that we are certainly close to the return of Jesus Christ. Lazarus had to wait for the crumbs to fall from the rich man's table to eat and on top of that the dogs licked his sores. You would think that at the very least the rich man would cut ten percent of his sandwich and give it to Lazarus. The truth of the matter is the rich man had the resources to feed Lazarus three square meals a day. In essence Jesus was calling this exceedingly wicked. I almost get the impression the rich man relished in Lazarus's suffering. In verse 22 both died but I find it interesting that the Bible gives Lazarus the grandstand ovation..." and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom." Then notice it says..." the rich man also died, and was buried." I believe in verse 23 he immediately saw Abraham ( the Patriarch of the Old Testament believers) and Lazarus. In verse 24 the Bible says he cried for mercy but he was not willing to give it on Earth. At this point he became responsible and accountable for his words and actions. The rich man must have seen Lazarus to be a strong man of character because he requested him to do two errands for him. The first was about water because his tongue was hot. The second request-Lazarus was to go to his father's house and tell his brothers about this horrible place. This was because he felt guilty. It was not because he truly loved God. On the first point Abraham said Lazarus was tormented and now he is comforted. On Earth you were comforted and now you are tormented. It is amazing how the tables turned. The second request was Lazarus was to go to his father's house and be a witness. You know I'm just thinking about this request, don't you think that would have really spooked his five brothers out to see some spirit walk through a wall to be a testimony to this place called Sheol ( Old Testament term) and Hades ( New Testament term). Abraham had to correct him on his false theology by saying..." if they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rise from the dead." Luke 16:31. The rich man at the Great White Throne Judgment ( which takes place after the one thousand year millennial reign of Jesus Christ) will be judged for all of his sins and be transferred to the Lake of Fire ( Gehenna the New Testament Greek word) to the final penitentiary and he will spend eternity in this place according the Bible. Are you starting to get an idea how important this is to accept God's Grace and mercy in His Son, Jesus Christ while you are still living in this life?
Let's talk about the gentleman because this man is on the other extreme. He had natural children and he adopted a step daughter. Like I said he made statements like " I will never leave you nor forsake you", or " your problems are my problems." He worked extremely hard in a blue collar job and if he knew his children needed something he would work overtime even if he was exhausted. In the morning when they ( daughters) were waitresses he would go to the restaurant and order extra eggs, bacon, and toast and insist that his daughters take a break and eat together so they could talk and catch up. This man set such a good tone that there was never any fights in the home and everybody loved each other. He truly had unconditional love for his family. The man could have wrote a Christian book about loving your family but it is still not clear to this day if he knew these were Biblical principles that he was teaching. The story takes a little bit of a turn. The step daughter was hospitalized and on her death bed. She was an adult at this time. A short time prior to this she accepted Jesus Christ into her heart as her personal Savior. She was faithfully serving Jesus Christ and even converted her sisters. As his daughter was lying on her death bed ( by the way the Lord preserved her life ) he said " how could God do this when my daughter is serving You so faithfully" ( anger). He had such love for his daughter that he would have gladly taken her place. That is something Jesus did for us at the Cross. This all sounds great but a long time prior to this some bad seeds of religion were sown in his heart and he was very taken back by what he saw. I wonder what he observed. This is still unknown to this day. Whatever you do don't let bad religious seeds keep you out of Heaven. God is so much higher than man. It makes you think, we as representatives for Jesus Christ should be radiating the presence of our Savior and living it. At this point he made a decision to have nothing to do with Jesus Christ. He put a reserve sign up in that area for his own salvation and I believe Jesus Christ being the perfect Gentleman that He is respected that reserve sign. I don't believe God will force a person's will. On the other hand he made a decision to live a moral and ethical life. In fact he was mugged in an alley and these robbers not only stole all of his money but they beat him senseless. The irony is the man would have given them every last cent he had with integrity and joy. Let me just go back to the hospital room where his daughter was suffering. She must have witnessed to her step father several times but he just was not interested. She prayed for the man fervently and a couple of hours after she was released from the hospital ( a miracle from God) her Lord, Jesus Christ decided to give her a vision. I have never known this particular woman to lie to me but you make up your mind as to whether you want to believe this. Her description was very vivid. In this vision she was taken to the Great White Throne Judgment and she saw in her opinion all the saved Saints behind Jesus Christ. She made it very clear that this was a legal proceeding, a courtroom as it were. The Great White Throne is a judgment for sinners who rejected Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. In one way or another they said stay out of my life, stay out of my way to Jesus Christ. She was summoned by Jesus Christ Himself along with her sister to stand beside him ( Jesus Christ). Her step father was summoned to come forward. Remember he chose law over the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ so now the legal proceedings for Gehenna ( the Lake of Fire) are beginning. Jesus put her arms around her two sisters and turned to the step father and asked " why did you not listen to your daughters" with tears in His eyes. In this vision he (the step father) gave the most amazing response and I will never forget this as long as I live. He said " I followed the Golden Rule." After one thousand plus years he still did not get it and there was no sign that he wanted Jesus Christ in his life. In the middle of April when I wrote a Left Behind article I had to point out that when anyone dies and goes to Hell they enter into a Christ-less eternity with a fixed character away from God. The step daughter saw the Lake of Fire behind her step father. Jesus said..." I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Matthew 7:23. He pointed to the Lake of Fire and then turned the daughters away from this ( they were not allowed to watch) and at that moment they did not feel their own pain, they felt Christ's pain and she said it was sheer agony. Jesus desires all men to be Saved. He weeps over one sinner going to Hell. Can you imagine the love that Jesus Christ has as He goes through this process with every sinner that gets consigned to the Lake of Fire? We will never be able to comprehend His love, but don't put a reserve sign up for Him to come into your heart and life because He will honor your request.
Hell is a very real place. Among other things it is a sad place and there is no joy. I remember a story when a rebellious teenager kept saying no to Christ when her parents kept trying to share the love of Jesus Christ with their own daughter. When she was about seventeen to twenty years of age ( right around that area) she was on her death bed and her parents tried one more time and she responded " don't even bother Mom-Dad I'm gong to Hell", and I believe she did go. I want to note two things I must say (1) I don't know if I wrote down every jot and title of the vision the step daughter had and (2) of course her identity is going to be kept secret.
God has infinite love for you. Jesus Christ took the judgment of sin at the Cross so you would not have to go to this horrible place. Think about listening to what I wrote and give yourself an honest investigation and see for sure if you truly made that all important decision in accepting Jesus Christ into your heart today. Don't tarry another minute without making sure your sins are forgiven through the Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
A simple prayer such as " Dear Jesus I know I have sinned and I know that you died on the Cross for me and rose from the dead on the third day to conquer sin and death. Please come into my heart as my very own personal Savior and guide my life so I can spend eternity with You."
With All Kindness and Love
Bob D.