Thursday, February 24, 2011

DIFFERENT SOIL - SAME SEED

Different Soil – Same Seed



“And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” Matthew 13:3-8.



There are four specific soils mentioned in our Lord’s parable of the sower, but only one actually leads to salvation. Take heed here folks, there is no in between ground. There are multitudes of professing Christians who comfortably call the wrong ground home. The problem is many, though claiming a relationship with Christ, may not have a relationship with Him at all. Ignoring Jesus’ parable of the sower can be detrimental to your eternal life.



“And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:” Matthew 13:4. The wayside ground proves to be horrible ground for planting or for expecting any growth. This first ground points to those who hear the Gospel yet understand it not. They are blinded to the truth, thus they can’t understand it. “…then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.” Matthew 13:19b. Void of understanding they are easy prey for the enemy (fowls). Satan steals what these folks heard (blinds them to the truth). So these folks, although having heard the truth, remain ignorantly lost. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4.



“But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” Matthew 13:20-21. These folks heard the word of God and received it with much joy. They started off enthusiastic about the Gospel of truth, yet after some persecution raises its ugly head in their lives they fall away from the truth, meaning they never really had it. The Apostle John tells us who they were. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” 1 John 2:19. What we see here is that among those who claim to be Christian, it’s obvious that there are many who have never gone through a conversion from death to life. Thus the words “falling away” come into play. They knew the truth and accepted what they heard as the truth, yet they allowed life’s troubles to move them away from that truth. They never became justified (saved).



“And He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22. These folks heard the word but the world got in their way. They were deceitfully seduced by wealth, so much so that they bore no fruit for the Kingdom of God. “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:19-20. It’s a sad commentary on our times; many believe they are doing just fine as Christians, but the truth never embedded itself in their hearts, there’s no commitment to Christ, and no salvation, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21. These kinds of verses are warnings from the Creator Himself. Heed them or not – your choice.



“But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13:23. This is the only soil classified as good ground in Jesus’ parable. The first soil speaks of those who are thoroughly blinded to the truth by Satan and his hoard; they now refuse to believe anything that has to do with the truth of the Gospel. The next two soils are packed with professing Christians who, when the time comes, are going to be screaming the words “Lord, Lord”. Remember it’s the soil that is bad not the seed.



Jesus explains in various parables that not everyone who thinks they’re Christians actually are. Just claiming to be a Christian doesn’t necessarily make it so. I spent most of my younger years believing I was a Christian, but one day a born again believer in Christ explained what it took to be a Christian and I realized I had been wrong for years; I had swallowed the lie. There must be a conversion from a life of sin to a new creature who repents and turns from sin. Then they begin to walk in newness of life. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.



In many cases, just watching the lifestyle of someone who professes a faith in Jesus Christ can be quite telling. Jesus gave us the parable of the soil to teach us the difference between “born again” and “in name only” Christians.



The last ground Jesus mentioned is the good ground which produces much fruit through the understanding and acceptance of His Word as the truth. Every true believer produces some fruit but we all don’t produce at the same level. Some are more active in the spreading of the Gospel than others. Some make it their life’s work, spreading the Gospel to all parts of the globe. Still others find plenty of work right in their own communities. Nonetheless, all born again followers of Jesus Christ will eventually, at some point in their Christian walk, bear fruit, you can count on it.



The question is if you are a professing Christian today, of which soil are you? In writing this commentary I’m not attempting to judge whether a person is saved (justified) or not. The purpose is to help those who will read this commentary to do some soul searching before it’s too late. The fourth soil is the only good ground so the idea here is to do some self-evaluation to be absolutely certain where you will spend eternity. Jesus said “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:” Matthew 7:26. Only the foolish ignore His warnings.



This world places incredible pressures on all humans so they will weaken and give into temptation. The only way to avoid sinking into the abyss is to be sure who we’ve placed our faith and trust in. Jesus Christ is the One and only Savior and Lord and our only hope for everlasting life. Satan is the god of this world and if you aren’t born again you’re Satan’s property. It is his intent to persuade you through evil means to reject and even ignore Jesus Christ and His Word. We are taught in the scriptures that most will comply with their father the devil’s demands. But it doesn’t have to be you. Three of the soils in Jesus’ parable above are owned by Satan, and he convinces many that they are on good solid ground – that everything will be fine. Yet they remain lost – just where Satan wants them.



Don’t fall for his traps. Don’t allow anyone to convince you that there are many ways to the Father, many good grounds. Or that good people will not go to Hell. Another trap is that you don’t have to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. These are all lies that trap and bind, don’t believe them. There are many more being promoted as truth today, even in many Christian churches. Born again believers in Christ are firmly planted on soil four, the only ground where salvation is found.



God bless you all,



Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

96 County Road 5480-Salem, MO 65560

All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed

Monday, February 21, 2011

CAN IT BE

Can It Be



Prophecy “experts” have always had their divided end time’s opinions. Many have placed precise dates on when the Rapture of the Church will occur - and all have been disappointed. All those dates have come and gone, yet the Church is still here. The latest prophetic scenario is not so much focusing on an exact date, but on a period of time prior to a specific year, 2012.



Can it be that God has given us a more precise insight into when the Rapture will occur? Will it occur prior to the year 2012? We may all find that scenario both interesting as well as provocative. I’ve done a little research, well both my wife and I, and have found that just about every prediction of future cataclysmic occurrences culminate in 2012. Even little things that don’t mean much to the casual observer will, according to the reports we read, come to fulfillment by 2012. I’m not talking about the Mayan calendar coming to an end, but actual real time events that are to come to an end in that year. They are too numerous to mention, and to be honest we haven’t actually recorded them in a journal or anything like that. But we get a real kick every time something pops up claiming fulfillment in 2012, enough so that we both believe something of significance could be on the horizon for the year 2011.



Just about every end time’s biblical prophecy centers on the nation of Israel, once again becoming a fully established nation, and living in the land God gave them. Way back in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses gives us a prophecy about the nation of Israel being scattered (Deuteronomy 4:25-27) and of their rebirth as a nation in the last days (Deuteronomy 4:30). The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Amos give us similar scenarios. Regarding the return of the Jews to their own land, this latest prophetic scenario is no different as it too centers on Israel.



The re-gathering of the Jewish people into the land God gave them is still going on today. In 1948 the Jewish people became, once again and for the final time, a sovereign nation, being fully recognized as such even by the United Nations. Today it’s hard to find a nation, other than Israel itself, who would admit publically that the Jewish people belong in the land which they now occupy. The latest prophetic rapture related scenario adds one generation to the year of Israel’s rebirth in 1948 (according to Psalm 90:10 and Isaiah 23:15 a generation is 70 years). Using this approach we’re catapulted into the future to the year 2018. Of course we must then subtract Daniel’s prophesied 70th week (7 years) and we can see that the year 2011 is definitely a focal year. Can it be?



To establish a foundation for this newest prophetic scenario for the timing of the rapture of the Church, we need to go back two thousand years to the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. In the Gospel of Matthew in chapter 24, we find Jesus in the midst of explaining the end time’s events to His Jewish disciples. Something many Bible commentators miss is the fact that our Lord never mentions His Church during this meeting. Might we conclude then that the Church will not see the unfolding of the events Jesus describes?



“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” Matthew 24:36. This verse is constantly being misinterpreted as referring to the Rapture of Christ’s Church. The admonition that no man can know the day or the hour is actually referring to the day and the hour of His Second Advent. When Jesus physically returns and sets His feet on planet earth a second time it will be sometime after the tribulation, but no one knows just exactly when that will be (day or hour). The above verse has nothing whatsoever to do with the Rapture. Jesus is referring to those people who’ve rejected His free gift of salvation and who have entered into, and will be going through, the Tribulation. His Church is excluded from that event. How do I know? “And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 1:10.



“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,” Mark 13:3. Jesus begins His discourse in this private meeting by answering a couple of questions put to Him by His disciples. He then begins to focus in on the difficulties the last days Jewish population will be faced with just prior to His return. Jesus’ focus is on the re-birth of Israel, as well as some interesting signs that will be prevalent in the last days. “This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” Matthew 24:34. “This generation” being the generation of Jews who would witness the rebirth of their own nation, Israel. This would mark the beginning of the last days.



In verse 15 of Matthew 24, Jesus refers to the prophet Daniel and more specifically to an event (the Abomination of Desolation) which will be the catalyst that shifts somewhat normal times into what Jesus refers to as the Great Tribulation which will be filled with God’s wrath. But the 70th week that Daniel speaks about will actually begin 3 ½ years prior to the tribulation (Daniel 12:7). By the time the Abomination of Desolation occurs in the rebuilt Temple in the Holy of Holies, the Church will have been gone for some time.



Those who don’t believe in the Rapture are not anticipating Christ’s Second Advent. It’s a given that most Christian denominations, as well as many non-denominations, ignore or misinterpret the verses that clearly state a future Rapture of Christ’s Church. Therefore there is no urgency in their pulpit messages. Jesus’ Second Advent has always been looked at as something that will occur, but at some time far removed from the here and now.



So let’s all just calm down, relax, let life be what it is, right? “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4. Most Christians don’t see the end times events unfolding because they just don’t believe God and His end times explanations. Erroneous teachings have had a severe affect on the Church.



“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:37-39. These verses are very important to all who would read them and understand them. They paint a vivid picture of apathy and ignorance. Many in the Church today are just as clueless as those who perished during the flood of Noah. They will not heed this clear warning from the Creator of the universe. Although the focus is on the last days Jews, they must give the rest of us pause when we realize that Jesus knew that in the last days not many would be taking His word seriously, analogous to the antediluvian period.



Right now anyone who picks up a newspaper, or listens to the nightly news reports, or reads online news sources can be fully assured that the birth pangs which Jesus spoke about in the discourse to His disciples are upon us. This tells us the Church’s earthly duration is coming to an end, and soon. Have you considered how birth pangs actually work?



Many Bible commentators of years past didn’t believe in the prophecy of the restoration of the nation of Israel, they just couldn’t see it happening. Thus they couldn’t see the birth pangs that would follow shortly after Israel’s rebirth. They simply wrote off all prophecy as having already been fulfilled. Sadly, many still don’t see it and continue to dismiss it as lunacy as they teach others to do the same.



There is very little thought given today for tomorrow. “The future is what it is” is a quote from an old movie I watched recently. That’s a somewhat true statement, but the future is fully known by God, and God alone. Believers “in Christ” must rely on His word as a focus for their lives both now and for the future. In the minds of many Christians today the rapture of Christ’s Church is an erroneous interpretation of scripture. Since they’re not looking for signs indicating the lateness of the hour, witnessing becomes a casual, almost wasteful expenditure of energy.



“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” Matthew 24:42. Even though I’m placing scripture verses in this commentary that clearly refer to the Jews of the last days and not Christ’s Church, today’s Christian are not excluded from heeding Christ’s warnings. Since the signs are obvious – easily recognizable and very near on the horizon – the shortness of the hour becomes paramount. As Christ’s followers we should all be encouraged, excited, and working.



God is at the controls and He is fully aware of the events which are occurring here on His earth. Satan too, being aware of end times signs, is in full military mode pushing to corrupt the masses and to defile the works of God. God’s word is true and we must study it more than just read it. Be assured He will give you understanding. Those of us who are in full anticipation of the coming events should also be fully entrenched in our determination to comply with Jesus’ command of spreading the Gospel.



Most Bible commentators who interpret the scriptures correctly understand that the Rapture of Christ’s Church is imminent. Whether the Rapture occurs today or in the future it is near, even at the door. We’re given God’s word on that and we are expected to believe it no matter what the naysayers believe and promote to the contrary. When God tells us that certain things are going to come to pass and then they do that’s enough proof that He means what He says. Hundreds of biblical prophecies have been fulfilled and so will the Rapture of His Church.



Proclaiming the message of the cross, at minimum as far as our little part of this world extends, means not one of our friends or family members should be ignorant of the Gospel of Christ. Even though time is running out for the Church here on earth we’re obviously still here and fully capable of spreading His Gospel and possibly making a difference in someone else’s life.



Consensus is that the year 2011 is shaping up to be quite significant for “in Christ” believers. Can it be that what we are seeing is a window opening up for the Rapture to occur? We shall all see. But one thing is sure, those who are lost cannot see.



My brothers and sisters, until the end comes we have our marching orders. Will we cower in a corner while we wait for the rapture, or boldly step up and proclaim the truth of the Gospel to a perishing world? You all know what you’re supposed to be doing – go do it.



God bless you all,



Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

Thursday, February 17, 2011

THY KINGDOM COME--THY WILL BE DONE

Thy Kingdom Come – Thy Will Be Done

February 17, 2011



“For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” Psalm 107:9. Most of us studying prophecy know that the Rapture of the Church is on the near horizon. By studying the scriptures we can clearly find documentation focusing on that awesome event. The only part of the information concerning the rapture of Christ’s Church that will remain elusive is when the Rapture will occur. But as the psalmist says, God will fill a longing and hungry soul.



Sometimes I wonder, out of all those who believe Jesus will come and remove His Church from this planet, how many actually long for it and pray that it will happen, and that it will be soon. “When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” Luke 11:2.



There’s a reason Jesus gave His disciples this prayer. It’s referred to by most as the Lord’s Prayer, but it should be called the Disciple’s Prayer. Jesus gave us that prayer to invoke God’s will. Each time we pray we should seek His will. What so many refuse to believe is that it’s His will that His Kingdom be set up here on earth. When Jesus finally sets up His earthly Kingdom after the battle of Armageddon His will will be done on earth, just as it is in Heaven.



In Heaven, God’s will is followed by all His angels; obviously, on earth His will is despised by most of her inhabitants. Some Christian Churches believe we are currently living through our Lord Jesus’ earthly millennial Kingdom because Jesus our Messiah reigns in our hearts. To them His earthly reign is only symbolic. Well that just doesn’t jive with His word. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him (Jesus our Messiah) a thousand years.” Revelation 20:6. This is an actual event which will not only establish our Messiah as our ultimate perfect King, but we, His saints (the Raptured Church), will be reigning with Him. Those who long for His appearing will receive a special reward.



We have set up prayer lists which we pray over, and there are prayer warriors who are dedicated to praying continually (something we all should be doing), and of course there are many praying for Jesus’ soon return. All sincere prayer is important and God hears the voices of His children as we lift up our prayers and supplications to Him. But one specific prayer Jesus gave us to pray is more often than not simply ignored.



I’m not sure just how many prayer warriors pray the Lord’s Prayer daily, but I know we should all be doing so. If we truly want our Messiah to return soon then let’s begin praying like we believe it, “Thy Kingdom Come Thy Will Be Done”.



When God’s Children speak with Him and even cry out to Him letting Him know how troubled our hearts are as we anticipate the coming deluge of persecution, He hears our pleas and knows our troubles and He will intercede on our behalf. One of these days as we are praying “Thy Kingdom Come”, sure as God made little green apples we will hear the trump call of God and the voice of the archangel and then we shall see Jesus as He takes us up to meet Him in the air. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16.



On the other hand, if we aren’t interested in Jesus Christ coming back quickly perhaps He won’t. I’m sure there are many professing Christians who are so enthralled with the world that they live by worldly pursuits without even a thought to Christ’s return.



“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:” Revelation 1:1. We are currently witnessing the beginning of this rapid succession (must shortly come to pass) of signs. Even more exciting is the anticipation of what we know is approaching. We should be praying “Thy Kingdom come – Thy will be done” that all these signs to brought to their crescendo.



Nothing is in the Bible by chance, and certainly the Lord’s Prayer is no exception. There is a reason Jesus told His disciples to pray that particular prayer. Did Jesus give us that prayer to mouth over and over to the point that we know it by heart and we speak it without thinking? Have we allowed the Lord’s Prayer to become nothing more than a child’s redundant bedtime prayer? If so, we need to resurrect that awesome prayer from the depths of mediocrity.



Asking God to come back to set up His earthly Kingdom is not only prudent, but it is His will. After all, we’re assured that Jesus will remove His Church prior to what the Bible describes as the “Day of the Lord”, the Great Tribulation. Jesus tells us that that 3½ year period will be the most horrible time in the history of mankind. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Matthew 24:21. This is not an allegory nor has this horrific period already passed. This, one of the final events in the history of mankind, is still a future event which, thankfully, His Church will be excluded from. Hopefully many more will join us before it’s too late.



In many a Christian’s mind, as well as in the majority of Christian churches today, apathy reigns supreme. Arrogance comes in at a close second. Both of these defeatist mind-sets play a pivotal role in the lives of those who reject the inerrancy, as well as the literal translation, of the Bible. “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:18. It’s a shame but many Christians will receive no comfort from the words of Paul concerning the Rapture of the Church, especially since they love not His appearing. “Thy Kingdom come – Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” is foreign to them. They are actually earth dwellers and perfectly happy to remain here.



I don’t know about the rest of you, but if my Lord Jesus were to return to remove His Church before you were finished reading this commentary, that would certainly suit me. Is that a defeated attitude? Not at all. Do I sometimes feel remorse for even having those thoughts? Yes. But then I must ask myself why? He gave us that prayer so we could be an active participant of His Kingdom by requesting He establish it post-haste. The attitude of asking for His soon return means we seek His soon appearing “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8. If you love (long for) His appearing your crown of righteousness awaits you.



The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer that puts God’s interests first; it is His name, His Kingdom, and His will that are primary here. It should be our pleasure, as well as responsibility, to let God know just how much we’d like to see His will done. We must pray with a longing and we must believe what we are praying for, that God’s Kingdom is soon to be established here on earth; we want to see our King Jesus sitting on His earthly throne ruling and reigning on this planet, and we want it to begin right now.



“Our Father”. When we pray thusly we are praying in unison as His children. Calling God our Father shows we have a privileged relationship with the Creator of the universe. “Our” shows prayer belongs among His children. We find the Lord’s Prayer recorded in Matthew 6 then repeated in Luke 11, which should tell us Jesus considered it important.



Jesus’ disciples watched Jesus pray and they wanted to pray like Him. They wanted to speak with God the Father just as God’s only begotten Son spoke with Him. The way we speak to God shows a lot about how we feel about God. Jesus’ attitude as well as His demeanor as He prayed showed His full reverence for His Father.



We who actually place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ and Him alone for salvation are only sojourners on earth, and as such it should be our full and complete desire to be united with Him where He is, our future real home.“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:” 2 Corinthians 5:1-2. Even the Apostle Paul desired to go home, to put on his new heavenly body. Nevertheless, Paul went about doing his Lord’s will until the end. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better…” Philippines 1:21-24a.



It makes good sense to pray as a body devoted to the Lord that the last day would arrive and His Kingdom would be established. When the Lord Jesus returns and places His feet on solid ground we will be with Him in our new Heavenly tabernacles. Let’s all pray that that day is nigh upon us. Oh come quickly Lord Jesus.



God bless you all,



Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

96 County Road 5480-Salem, MO 65560

All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed

Friday, February 11, 2011

CHILDREN OF THE LIGHT- DAY OF THE LORD

“Children of the Light” – “Day of the Lord”



“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5.



If you are a born again child of God, you are one of the children of light spoken of by the Apostle Paul in the last verse above, therefore you cannot, and will not, be overtaken as a thief would overtake the unsuspecting. Why won’t you be among the crowd that will be overcome with sudden destruction? The “Day of the Lord” mentioned in verse 2 above is referring to the day of God’s wrath. The title given us (Christ’s Church) is “children of light” if you are in the “Light” category you are “In Christ” therefore you will not be on earth when God pours out His wrath on this Christ rejecting world.



In the book of Isaiah, the prophet speaks numerous times of the “Day of the Lord”. One such verse that really catches the eye is “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.” Isaiah 13:9. When the Lord comes back to earth this time He won’t come as a suffering servant, but as a conquering King. He will come with cruel wrath and fierce anger to destroy all who’ve rejected Him. Isaiah doesn’t mince words; the reader knows exactly what God’s actions will be when He once again sets physical foot on planet earth.



It is Paul’s intention to explain further to the Thessalonian Church that they are not part of those who dwell in darkness; therefore they will not experience the “Day of the Lord”. Paul starts off using words like “you” and “yourself” in verse 2 of 1 Thessalonians 5, speaking of the church. Then he changes to “they” and “them” referring to those who’ve spent their lives dwelling in darkness – those who’ve had no use for Jesus Christ their entire lives. For when “they” shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon “them”, as travail upon a woman with child; and “they” shall not escape.



Those who choose to remain in darkness will be left here on earth to contend with God’s fierce anger. We who are born again – although just as deserving of God’s punishment as those who dwell in darkness – will never face a moment of God’s wrath. How thankful are we that Jesus was willing to sacrifice Himself on that cross. He took all of our sins and nailed them to that cross. The sin of the world nailed and forgotten, but only those who are born again are forgiven.



“Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” Isaiah 26:20-21. When the children of light are safely hidden and the door is shut, then the indignation will come. For the children of light, paradise will be our staging area whilst “the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth”.



“For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” Isaiah 13:10-11. Those folks who will be left to deal with God’s wrath will first be plunged into darkness – darkness will be the norm around the world. Then God will punish them for their evil, wicked ways. Those arrogant enough to reject His free gift of salvation even going as far as to say there is no God – that we all evolved from pond scum – will immediately be reminded of their foolishness.



“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.” Joel 3:14. This verse has been used by pastors as a draw to those who still need to make a decision for Christ. But, in all actuality, time has run out for the multitudes left standing in this valley. Since the valley of decision is the location of the battle of Armageddon it’s not some sort of safe haven or a place to finally make up your mind one way or the other concerning Jesus Christ. Joel is referring to this valley as a valley of judgment – by this time, if you haven’t made a decision to believe and accept God’s free gift of salvation, it’s too late. God’s judgment has come.



“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:” Acts 2:20. Notice the word “before” in this verse, darkness will reign supreme even before “that great and notable Day of the Lord” comes barreling down on this wicked, perverse generation. Yes, this generation.



“The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness… And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.” Zephaniah 1:14-15, 17-18. Many times in the Old Testament we see prophecy with dual fulfillment. King Josiah inherited a corrupt nation from his father Amon and grandfather Manasseh, a nation almost wholly given over to idolatry (2 Kings 21:3-7). Here God announces judgment against the idol worshippers in Israel. Although Zephaniah speaks of how God will judge a rebellious Judah, a future fulfillment is also in view here. God will once again judge the wicked earth dwellers – neither their gold nor silver will do them any good in the “Day of the Lord”. This prophecy is about to be fulfilled, God’s wrath is about to be poured out on a Christ rejecting world. No one, in their right mind, should desire to see and be a part of the final fulfillment of Zephaniah’s prophecy.



“For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” Malachi 4:1. All of these prophets are speaking of the same future event. It’s the “Day of the Lord”; it’s the wrath of God being poured out on a generation that has thoroughly rejected God and His Christ and turned to wickedness (as in the days of Noah), and to postpone His wrath God would only be allowing all humanity to destroy themselves. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.” Matthew 24:21-22. The elect are those who have become followers of Jesus Christ during the Great Tribulation. We, the Church, will be watching from the mezzanine.



“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9. Here we’re told of God’s patience – that He is longsuffering to us-ward. This means that God is slow to anger – slow to punish. But don’t forget that He is not slack concerning His promise. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” 2 Peter 3:9-10.



Throughout His Word, God places so much emphasis on the approaching “Day of the Lord” that for us to merely relegate it to allegory, or shrug it off as a future event unimportant to us today is foolishness and completely misses His point. He’s made a promise that His wrath will be unleashed. Yes, God is longsuffering to us-ward but He’s trying to get the point across to everyone who has an ear to hear with that although He is slow to anger and slow to punish, His anger will eventually be poured out and soon, but only on those who’ve rejected His free gift of salvation.



At this point you might want to do some real soul searching to be absolutely sure just where you stand in relation to the Creator of the universe. Have you heard the Gospel of Christ? Have you believed? Have you placed Jesus Christ first in your life? Or is there an idol in that most important place in your heart?



The Children of the Light/Day, are all those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus the Christ alone for salvation. We are those who will be caught up to be with the Lord prior to “Day of the Lord” (the wrath of God).



Many folks disagree when it comes to this mystery we refer to as the Rapture of the Church, but as seemingly old and tired as the cliché becomes it’s still just as appropriate today as we’re continually confronted by the naysayers. We simply tell them not to worry; we’ll explain it to them on the way up.



God bless you all,



Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

96 County Road 5480-Salem, MO 65560

All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed

Thursday, February 03, 2011

PREACH THE GOSPEL

Preach the Gospel



“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. The Apostle Paul lays out for all to understand just what constitutes “The Gospel”, which is the message we believers in Christ should have firmly and faithfully imbedded on our brains – completely memorized and sharing it with the lost world.



“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13. It’s the truth, when we heard it we were drawn to it – many of us believed it and we were saved. Where is “The Gospel” today?



“We are not makers and inventors; we are repeaters, we tell the message we have received” – Charles Spurgeon.



What message are we promoting? Is it the same message Paul promoted on his many journeys? What are people led to believe when they sit and listen to their pastor on Sunday mornings preach about prosperity or some other nonsense instead of preaching the truth of the Gospel? Spurgeon tells us we don’t create new messages we “Preach the Gospel”. And no, the Gospel is never to be considered old fashion, obsolete, or obscure.



The Gospel tells us of Jesus’ sacrifice – which was an accomplishment not a tragedy – made for the sin of the world. He died – He was buried – three days later He arose from the grave. Why did He die? Because His creation had turned into a bunch of lost sinners who had condemned themselves to Hell. Yet He still loved us so much He made the ultimate sacrifice by dying – paying the full price for our sins. Why Jesus? Because that was the plan the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit had preordained before the foundation of the world. The Gospel message is not a fable or a church tradition which lost its power over the past 19 centuries.



The fulfillment of the Gospel was an achievement and a passion that took nothing less than the Creator of the universe to accomplish. The reason for teaching the Gospel is to show a sinful lost world there’s hope, there’s a life after this life, a better life for us all – and that the One true God, who loved us so much He was willing to die a horrific death for us, is alive and well and stands with us today. But it must be preached, taught, fully explained – and it must be believed if salvation is the goal. If salvation isn’t the goal of the church then what is?



Paul explains the Gospel message always referring to the fact that all these things happened “according to the scriptures”. The Old Testament scriptures reference Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. The plan for His death is described in places like Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. The plan for His resurrection is described in Hosea 6:2, Jonah 1:17, Psalm 16:10.



The truth of the Gospel message is the most important message you will ever hear. But the problem is that as important as this message is, it is sorely lacking in its presentation from our Christian pulpits today.



“Good luck” is the god that receives the accolades today while the One true God’s blessings are dismissed as mere coincidence. Sooner or later the Gospel must also be dismissed as nothing more than an old fable – and to many, a very ill favored and sick fable at that. What kind of God would send His only Son to die such a horrible death? One who loves you and me more than we can know.



“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15. How has Jesus’ instructions changed? I found, with little effort, the term “Preach the Gospel” presented fourteen times in the King James Version of the Bible, “Preaching the Gospel six times, “The Gospel of God” twenty-three times, “The Gospel of Christ” 24 times, and the term “the Gospel” was repeated 94 times. Yet to “Preach the Gospel” message today is akin to preaching heresy.



“And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.” Acts 16:10. Paul and Silas, two itinerate preachers, preached the Gospel of Christ as they traveled on their journeys throughout Asia Minor and including Macedonia. It was the Gospel message that those people heard and responded to, which was portrayed as nothing less than the death of God Himself. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the theme of the Bible.



Sadly, today the Gospel message is given little significance in Christ’s Church. The messages are about being more spiritual and feeling good about who you are and what you’ve obtained. Pleasure, performance, prosperity are all wonderful themes to be preached in the minds of many Christian pastors; health and weight loss are flourishing messages in the Churches of Jesus Christ. But Christ dying on an old wooden cross for the sin of the world is apparently not a very pleasing or uplifting message to those who warm pews today.



Ask most people in the church today what the Gospel message is and the reply will be “It’s the good news”, or they may not even have an answer. Although most may know the Gospel represents good news they don’t know what good news it represents. There is way too much emphasis on man’s invented doctrines and other nonsense which has become traditional church doctrine. There is so very little representative truth about Jesus Christ these days that one might miss the fact that He is our Lord and Savior.



Most in the church today have no clue as to what Jesus meant when He told His disciples to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:19-20. Teach them what? The Gospel of course. His Gospel. Who He is and what He did. That His death, burial, and resurrection is the truth and must be believed if there be any hope for our salvation. Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father, period.



The exclusivity of the cross is not to be denied, yet the worldly religions, as well as what is becoming a majority of the professing church, are against us for what we believe, and for what we claim as exclusivity (John 14:6). We, the true church, are seen as intolerant, racist, bigoted, self-righteous, lacking compassion, and arrogant. Since they don’t believe the Word of God they see us as a bunch of haters. Therefore those of us who do believe Jesus’ statement “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” John 14:6, are nothing more than a shrinking minority.



The message today must be a more “seeker friendly – purpose driven”, conversational subject matter geared at not upsetting those who might object to putting restrictions on lifestyles. Of course the harshness and brutality of the cross and what the Bible says happened to Jesus while on that cross should not be spoken of as it may drive many away from the church. Let’s keep it simple and fun. Why drag Jesus Christ into it? With Him there is much suffering and heartache represented by that cross which is not a subject that goes over well with the politically correct crowd as they sip their lattés while allowing their ears to be tickled.



Preaching the Gospel to folks is old hat. It worked fine for those war mongering generations of the past, but today in this postmodern world of the new morality, and new age concepts there is no need for such an ancient, arcane teaching to be presented to folks. After all, isn’t it true that everyone who is good, no matter what they believe, goes to Heaven?



In a recent survey 83 percent of evangelical Protestants believe that there is no further need to preach the Gospel of Christ from the pulpit or spread the good news around the world. The survey concluded that anyone who is a good person, no matter what religion they are affiliated with or whether they are religious or not, will go to heaven when they die.



That, my friends, is certainly a sad commentary on our times. I for one am aghast at the level of unbelief in the evangelical community. It’s no wonder the Gospel isn’t being preached from very many Christian pulpits. To this crowd God’s word was not meant to be everlasting, but transient. As people and societies change with the times, so then must the message change. And it has.



People have become so nonchalant about what they believe that if anyone opposes those beliefs they simply become apathetic or ambiguous. The desire to stand firm for Jesus Christ and His word, and what once was thought of as a privilege to give one’s life in defense of, has now almost completely deteriorated.



The Bible is our link to God, but many churches today ignore, or worse ridicule and scoff at his Word, relegating it to a myth. When this occurs, Jesus Christ’s status as Creator of the universe is diminished or even lost all together. Then, as we’ve seen over the past few years, Jesus is remembered only as a prophet, teacher, or just a nice man.



Paul, speaking of Jesus Christ, says “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:18. Does Jesus the Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, still reign supreme in your church or has He lost His preeminence?



From the pulpit to revivals the Gospel message must become the dominating theme preached or without fail the true Church is going to do nothing more than shrink. What will become of all those big beautiful buildings rising up on the landscapes housing hundreds, even thousands, of pew warmers? Nothing. They’ll still be around and may even flourish, but without the Gospel message they are no different than a café, a social gathering of lost folks pacifying one another with drivel, yet without a clue of how lost they are.



Before the scriptures were written down for us, God placed the Gospel message among the stars, it’s known as the Mazzaroth or Zodiac. It’s been corrupted over the years by you know who (Satan) and now many astrologers stake their claim to what was originally God’s Gospel message and subvert it. The Gospel is so important to God that He arranged the stars in such a fashion at creation that they would explain His message of redemption. Why then does the church today dismiss it? Why has the Gospel message lost its appeal?



Look up church. It’s just above your heads – day and night. You’re standing in perfect view of the most important text message you’ll ever receive. God, help us all to get back to the truth and “Preach the Gospel”, proclaimed even in the stars.



God bless you all,



Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

96 County Road 5480-Salem, MO 65560

All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed