Category Archives: Evangelism

When the Lord Returns

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; (Luke 12:35)

I am currently reading the Gospel of Luke in my personal Bible study, and, as often happens when I read my Bible, something caught my attention that I had not seen before. In Luke Chapter 12, Jesus had finished telling the parable of the rich fool[1] who had a bumper crop and started planning about what he would do with his newly acquired wealth. That night, God called him to account. “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20). Jesus’ point was that earthly riches do not amount to much in light of eternity. He said, “So is he [a fool] that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21). He went on to teach regarding the futility of worrying about the things of this world because God knows our needs, and He will provide for all our needs (not necessarily our “wants”). The ravens do not sow, reap, or store up food, yet God feeds them.[2] The lilies of the fields neither toil nor spin, yet God clothes the earth more beautifully than Solomon’s apparel.[3] So, Jesus taught, we should not overly concern ourselves with food or clothing because God will provide for our needs. Instead, He said, “But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you … For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:31, 34)

With that in mind, since this life and this world does not last, He went on to encourage His listeners to be ready for His Second Coming. (I am not sure if His audience caught the significance of His message, but looking back, it should be clear to us.) “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning” (Luke 12:35). Having your “loins girded” is an expression that meant to prepare oneself for work, and one only lights a lamp when it gets dark. So the idea is that we should be on the alert and watching. We are to watch and work as we “seek the kingdom of God.”

He went on to amplify His meaning. “And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately” (Luke 12:36, emphasis mine). I highlighted in bold italics what I missed before. Jesus spoke in the form of a parable which His audience, His disciples, and His apostles would not have clearly understood at that time. He often used the example of a landowner – a lord or master – leaving on a long journey and leaving the care of his properties in the hands of stewards, i.e., “servants.”[4] All of these parables convey the idea that the Lord will leave – which Jesus did in His ascension – and will return at some undetermined time. In the meantime, His servants continue to conduct His business – in our case that of proclaiming the Gospel – until He returns.

What popped out at me in this passage is the phrase “when he will return from the wedding.” What relevance does a wedding have with the main point of the story? Note also the definite article. It is not just “a” wedding; it is the wedding. The significance is subtle and easy to miss, but indeed it carries great relevance to Christians living in this day.

Before Jesus went to the cross, He told His apostles, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine). When His apostles heard this, they caught the imagery of a Galilean wedding. When a man proposed marriage to a young woman, if she accepted the proposal, he would leave to build a house for her. Once the father of the groom inspected and approved the house, he would give his son permission to go get his bride. The wedding would take place and the wedding feast that followed would last for seven days.

Likewise, Jesus, the Bridegroom, is betrothed to His Bride, the Church. His Bride is made up of those who have accepted His proposal.[5] Now He is gone preparing a place for His Bride, and when the Father approves of the house,[6] He will come to get His Bride and take her to the home He has prepared for her. The wedding feast[7] will last one week (seven years).[8] At the end of the seven years, Jesus will return with His Bride to reclaim His kingdom on earth.

The audience that heard the parable was Jewish, and they probably missed the significance of the lord returning from the wedding. Weddings were frequent and common events in those days as they are today. Jews then and now, for the most part, missed the Messiah. Yet Jesus admonishes these who fail to recognize Him to have their “loins girded” and their “lamps burning” in preparation for their Lord’s return from the “wedding.”

After Jesus snatches away His Bride and the seven-year wedding feast begins, those who remain on the earth will experience the seven-year Tribulation. During that time, many Jews will recognize the Messiah they missed and 144,000 of them will preach the Gospel message around the world.[9] Many Jews as well as Gentiles will be saved by their message. It is these whom Jesus admonishes to work, watch, and be ready for His coming. “Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants” (Luke 12:37-38).

“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, emphasis mine). Even after the Rapture of the Church, even in the midst of the Great Tribulation, God is “not willing that any should perish.” Sadly, for many, that time will be the final opportunity for salvation but at such a high cost. Reader, if you do not know the Savior, please do not wait until the last moment. Accept the Bridegroom’s proposal today. Find my page on “Securing Eternal Life” and prepare to enjoy the wedding feast rather than work in the time of Great Tribulation.

Notes:


[1]  Luke 12:16-20

[2]  Luke 12:22-24

[3]  Luke 12:27-28

[4]  Matthew 21:33-41; 25:14-30; Mark 13:32-37Luke 19:11-27

[5]  John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9-10; et al.

[6]  Matthew 24:36

[7]  Revelation 19:6-9

[8]  Daniel 9:27

[9]  Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-5

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Jesus And The Fig Tree

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: (Matthew 24:32)

During Jesus’ last week of His earthly ministry before His crucifixion and shortly after His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, Matthew and Mark record a strange incident when Jesus cursed a fig tree because it had no fruit and immediately, the tree withered.

Jesus entered Jerusalem on what we know as Palm Sunday. He went directly to the Temple cast out the money changers and those who sold animals for the upcoming Passover sacrifice.[1] To us Gentiles, it seems strange that it offended Jesus that these men were turning the Holy Temple into a marketplace. However, as Jesus drove out the merchants, He exclaimed, “Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Mark 11:17).

A long-held Jewish tradition during Passover is to get all the leaven out of the house before the Passover celebration. Leaven represents sin, and it must be removed from the house. The Temple was Jesus’ house, and He was cleansing it from the sin within in preparation for the coming Passover.

At this point, I need to mention an apparent contradiction between Mark’s account of the Temple cleansing and that of both Matthew and Luke. Both Matthew and Luke record that the cleansing took place on the same day as the Triumphal Entry – Palm Sunday.[2] However, Mark indicates that the cleansing took place on the following day (Monday). Mark records that on Palm Sunday, “Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve. And on the morrow [Monday], when they were come from BethanyAnd they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple” (Mark 11:11-12, 15, emphasis mine). So, did Jesus cleanse the Temple on Palm Sunday or on the following day? Great biblical minds have no clue! I am not one who finds contradictions in the Bible because “God is not the author of confusion.”[3] Two Gospel writers say the cleansing took place on Sunday, and one (Mark, who was not an eyewitness) says it was on Monday. I believe all three accounts are correct. It is possible that there were two cleansings, one on Sunday and one on Monday. I will leave it at that for now.

Only Matthew and Mark record the incident with Jesus cursing the fig tree, and both agree that it happened on Monday morning as Jesus returned to Jerusalem from Bethany where He was probably staying in the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary.[4] What happened next seems rather strange. Jesus spotted a fig tree along the way and being hungry, He went to see if it had any figs.[5] Mark remarks that “the time of figs was not yet” (Mark 11:13). Finding no figs on the tree, Jesus cursed the tree, and it soon “dried up from the roots” (Mark 11:20).

It seems strange that Jesus, the Creator,[6] would not know that it was not the time for figs, So, why would He expect to find figs on the tree? Some commentators suggest that the tree should have had some unripe fruit on it that could be eaten.

“Toward the end of March the leaves begin to appear, and in about a week the foliage coating is complete. Coincident with [this], and sometimes even before, there appears quite a crop of small knobs, not the real figs, but a kind of early forerunner. They grow to the size of green almonds, in which condition they are eaten by peasants and others when hungry.”[7]

That makes some sense. Both Matthew and Mark remark that Jesus found nothing but leaves on the tree. There were not even “knobs” to eat on the tree. But was that sufficient cause for Jesus to curse the tree? The same commentators quoted above, suggested that Jesus used this incident as an object lesson to emphasize Luke’s parable about the fig tree that bore no fruit.[8] However, neither Matthew nor Mark includes that parable in their Gospels, and Luke omits the cursing of the fig tree, so their argument does not seem to be very strong.

Jesus, the Creator, knew it was too early for figs, and He knew He would not find figs on the tree. So the cursing of the tree had another purpose. Jesus never did anything without a purpose.

Later in the week as Jesus sat with His disciples on the Mount of Olives, they asked Him for signs of the last days and the end of the world. The detailed description of the last days, known as the “Olivet Discourse,” is found in all three Synoptic Gospels.[9] “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). However, Jesus said the times would be discernible, and He used the fig tree to illustrate. “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:32-34, emphasis mine).

The fig tree represents the nation of Israel. Several passages in the Old Testament make this association. God says, “I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time …” (Hosea 9:10, emphasis mine). “He [the king of Babylon] hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white” (Joel 1:7, emphasis mine). God also refers to Israel as His (grape) “vine.” Concerning Israel’s restoration, Scripture says, “Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people … Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength” (Joel 2:18, 22, emphasis mine).

Jesus’ parable of the fig tree gives the signal for the beginning of the end-time events. Israel, the fig tree, budded on May 14, 1948, signaling that “summer” is near. Jesus said that “this generation,” the one that sees the fig tree bud, will not pass until all these signs are accomplished. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

So, why did Jesus curse the fig tree? God chose Israel to be a “priest nation” to all the nations of the world, beginning with Abraham; “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3, emphasis mine). To Israel, God says, “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation …” (Exodus 19:6). It was Israel’s task to reveal God to the nations of the world. Instead, Israel followed in the idolatrous steps of the surrounding nations. Israel, the fig tree, did not produce the fruit God expected. Jesus’ object lesson in cursing the fig tree demonstrated that God would no longer use Israel to bless the nations and to be the priest nation to the world. Instead, He assigned that task to other “husbandmen.”[10] To these new husbandmen, i.e., the Church, Jesus said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8, emphasis mine).

So, the fig tree withered and can no longer produce fruit. Instead, Jesus assigned the task of bringing God to the world to the Church. As for the fig tree, “they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24, emphasis mine).

That time is near. It started when the fig tree budded in 1948. The fig tree has yet to produce any fruit, but that is because the Church is still yielding fruit, albeit at a waning rate. Soon, the Church will be plucked up, and God’s fig tree will have another opportunity to yield its fruit. “And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel” (Revelation 7:4, emphasis mine). During the Tribulation, the 144,000 Israeli evangelists will carry the Gospel to all the world and produce much “fruit” for the Lord. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands” (Revelation 7:9, emphasis mine).

In the end, the fig tree will produce the fruit for which it was created. However, it must be understood that not every individual Israeli will be saved. Their salvation does not come from their nationality (Israel) or their religion (Judaism). Just as with every other person, salvation comes only through faith in Jesus the Messiah. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). The 144,000 remnant of Israel that carry the Gospel to all the world will be saved by the same message that “whosoever believeth in him [Jesus] should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Those that hear and believe the message of the 144,000 will be saved the same way.

Reader, if you do not know Jesus, now is a great time to get acquainted. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life” and get that settled today.

Notes:


[1]  Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46

[2]  Matthew 21:8-13; Luke 19:35-46

[3]  1 Corinthians 14:33

[4]  John 11:2

[5]  Matthew 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-13

[6]  John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11

[7] Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Peter H. Davids, F.F. Bruce, Manfred T. Brauch, Hard Saying of the Bible, (InterVarity Press Academic, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1996), p. 442, quoting W.M. Christie, “The Barren Fig Tree.”

[8]  Luke 13:6-9

[9]  Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21

[10]  Matthew 21:33-41

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Trumpets

… for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  (1 Corinthians 15:52)

This weekend, Saturday and Sunday, September 19-20, 2020, celebrates Rosh Hashanah, the first of the Jewish civil year 5781. Rosh Hashanah is the fifth of the seven Feasts of the Lord prescribed in Leviticus 23, and is also known as the Feast of Trumpets for the sounding of trumpets proclaiming the new year. Feast of Trumpets is also known as the “feast where no man knows the day or the hour.”

The Feasts of the Lord are based on a lunar calendar, and the official declaration of the new year depends on the first sighting of the new moon. Since that cannot be determined precisely, Rosh Hashanah is observed over two days to ensure the sighting of the new moon for the sounding of the trumpets. Hence, no one knows the day or the hour.

Trumpets appear throughout Scripture. The first occurrence of a trumpet in the Bible comes after the exodus from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea. God brought the Children of Israel to Mount Sinai where He introduced Himself to them in person.[1] God instructed Moses that He would appear in the form of a cloud around the mountain and that no one could come near the mountain under penalty of death. “There shall not an hand touch it [the mountain], but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount” (Exodus 19:13, emphasis mine). The sounding of the trumpet summoned the people to come up to the mountain unto the presence of the Lord. “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled” (Exodus 19:16, emphasis mine). So Moses brought the people to the smoke-covered mountain before the Lord “And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice” (Exodus 19:19, emphasis mine). Following this, God gave the Ten Commandments to the people, and they all heard the commandments of God directly from God.[2] “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (Exodus 20:18-19, emphasis mine). From then on, God spoke to the people through His prophets, beginning with Moses.

Trumpets call the people to solemn assemblies. “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation” (Leviticus 23:23-24, emphasis mine) . “Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps” (Numbers 10:2, emphasis mine). I could give more examples, but basically, the function of a trumpet serves to alert people to an event and to call for a gathering or assembly.

In the New Testament, Jesus refers to a trumpet in the negative sense of calling attention to yourself when performing acts of benevolence. “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Matthew 6:2, emphasis mine).

The second occurrence appears in the Olivet Discourse when Jesus teaches His disciples about end-time events. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days … shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven … 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” (Matthew 24:29-31, emphasis mine).  The “tribulation of those days” to which Jesus referred is the 70th “week” of the Prophet Daniel’s prophecy.[3] Jesus called it a time of “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21, emphasis mine)” At that time God will send His angels to gather His elect, i.e., Israel, from all over the world. These are NOT Christians, and I will explain that later on.

In the next reference to a trumpet, Paul points out the importance of a trumpet giving a distinct sound. “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8, emphasis mine). He stresses the importance of giving a clear gospel message so that the hearer is not confused. Later he talks about the last days when “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52, emphasis mine). Here he refers to the “dead in Christ” and “we” are the Christians who are alive when the trumpet sounds.

Most biblical scholars believe that Paul’s letters to the Church in Thessaloniki were his first “epistles.” To the Thessalonians he writes, “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [“precede”] them which are asleep [dead]. 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 4:15-17, emphasis mine).  For those who claim that “rapture” in not taught in the Bible, the word translated “caught up” is the Greek ἁρπάζω (harpazō) which means to seize; catch away, catch up, pluck, pull, or take by force. The Latin Vulgate translates harpazō as “raptus” from which we get the word “rapture.”

The Beloved Apostle John saw the risen Lord while “in the Spirit” on the Lord’s Day (Sunday).[4] After Jesus finished dictating seven letters to seven churches,[5] John records, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter” (Revelation 4:1, emphasis mine). After this point, the Church is no longer mentioned in Revelation until Chapter 19 when she is described as “The Bride” at the marriage supper of the Lamb, and she returns with Jesus to end the Great Tribulation and initiate the 1000-year reign of Christ. This is the trumpet Jesus described in Matthew 24:29-31 above. For this reason, and I am convinced, many end-times teachers believe the church will be taken up before the seven-year Tribulation begins and will not experience the horrors of those times.

Because of the significance of trumpets throughout Scripture and especially in end-time prophecy, many have looked at the Feast of Trumpets as reasonable time for that to take place. Of course, many rear up and point out that Jesus said that “of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matthew 24:36). That is true. Jesus’ coming is imminent;[6] it could happen at any minute. By studying the events recorded in Revelation and reckoning the division of the seven years, anyone living at that time, if they are paying attention, can determine when Jesus will return to earth. It is a set time – seven years. Once Antichrist affirms a treaty with Israel,[7] it is just a matter of counting the days – 2520. It is not rocket science.

However, the Rapture of the Church has no signs. We cannot guess what year it will take place, but we see the stage being set for the seven-year Tribulation, and Antichrist has not made his appearance, so we know the time is close.

So why single out Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets, for the Rapture taking place? We can take a hint from Jesus who said that no man knows the day or the hour. The Feast of Trumpets is the feast that no man knows the day or the hour, so that has some association. Then, there is the idea that Jesus fulfilled the first four of the Feasts of the Lord: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost. Pentecost was fulfilled when He sent the Holy Spirit to empower the Church.[8] He has yet to fulfill the last three feasts: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and Sukkoth (Feast of Tabernacles). The next feast on the Calendar is Rosh Hashanah. So, it makes sense that the Rapture may take place on Rosh Hashanah because the sounding of the trumpet is the calling of the congregation together.

If not this year then perhaps it could happen next year, or the next. However, His coming is imminent – any minute! It doesn’t have to happen at Rosh Hashanah. So, we must always be ready. Jesus said, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42).

If you read this and hear of millions of disappearances all over the world, you should know what happened. If not, thank God that He has given you more time, but don’t delay. He could come at any minute – imminent! If you do not know Jesus, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Exodus 19

[2]  Exodus 20

[3]  Daniel 9:24-27

[4]  Revelation 1:10

[5]  Revelation 2-3

[6]  “Imminent” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/01/12/imminent/

[7]  Daniel 9:27

[8]  “Tongues of Fire” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/09/13/tongues-of-fire/

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National Revival

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

This oft-repeated verse offers a tenuous hope for American Evangelicals that, if we only put its tenets into practice, God will keep His end of the deal and heal the trouble in our land. However, as I have asserted in the past[1], this verse is taken out of context and misapplied. If Israel’s history can teach us anything, it is that God has His limits when He will no longer hear the pleas for a nation.[2]

Recent history teaches us that, in regard to God, Americans are a fickle people. Following one disaster after another, America has turned to God in repentance only to return to its vomit[3] as soon as things get better. We find ourselves in a mess again. The Wuhan Bug paralyzed our nation with fear. Everywhere you look you find masked people avoiding contact with one another. You can even see masked people driving cars or walking outdoors. Fear over COVID-19 has shut church doors for fear of retribution by authorities and also for fear of spreading the virus.[4]

Unrestrained rioting in the streets of many of our major cities adds to the fear of many Americans, and everyone can see that our country is in serious trouble. Consequently, many evangelical leaders call on American Christians to pray for revival in our nation (again). They sincerely believe the promise that “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16), and we can reverse the course our nation. Without getting into differences of eschatological views, many of these believe that through the hard work of prayer, Christians will turn the world around and usher in the millennial reign of Christ.

The prophet Jeremiah encountered a similar optimist in Hananiah.[5] God had already told Jeremiah that Judah would go into Babylonian captivity, and to demonstrate by way of an object lesson, God instructed Jeremiah to carry around a heavy ox yoke to illustrate the bondage into which Judah was going. However, Hananiah painted a different picture, “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon” (Jeremiah 28:2), and he took the yoke off of Jeremiah and broke it to demonstrate what God would do. But that was not God’s plan, and Judah soon came under the yoke of Babylon for 70 years. Hananiah, the false optimistic prophet, did not live out the year for speaking falsely in the name of the Lord.

I am not a prophet, at least not like those through whom God spoke in the Bible. But I do study the Word, and I try to see the world through the lens of Scripture. In Scripture, God’s “chosen” people were punished for their disobedience and their idolatry – which involved sexual perversion and infanticide in their worship. If God so dealt with “His” chosen nation what makes us think that we will fare better just because we pray? Not every person in Judah was corrupt. Take for example Daniel, Hananiah (not the false prophet), Mishael, and Azariah;[6] they went into Babylonian captivity and they maintained their devotion to God. Surely there were others, but that did not stop God from punishing the “nation” of Judah for their sin. Nor will He save our nation at this point for our national sins even though “His people” pray.

Consider the downward spiral of sin described in Romans 1:18-32 and compare that to our nation. Our nation holds truth in unrighteousness. Our nation denies God and promotes the idea that all things came into existence by natural causes, and though they cannot prove their ideas, they invent “just so” stories and present them as facts. We profess ourselves to be wise, but indeed we are fools and only deceive ourselves. Rather than worship the Creator, we worship the creation and in our own feebleness attempt desperate measures to protect the planet (The Green New Deal).  As a consequence of our denial of God, He has turned over our nation to perverse lusts “to dishonour their own bodies between themselves” (v. 24). Think about the various ways we disfigure our bodies through tattoos, body piercings, the unnatural coloring of hair, other types of mutilations, homosexual perversions of all kinds, etc. God has turned over our nation to the “vile affections” of homosexuality – women with women, men with men, and even the sexual perversion of children. God has given over our people to “reprobate minds” so that they are incapable of reasonable thought. Simply consider the irrational reasoning they offer in support of some of their crazy ideas about climate change, about abortion, about the benefits of socialism, etc. Does it seem that the world has lost its collective mind? It has because God has allowed it as punishment for our sin.

Look at how Paul’s description perfectly fits America today. “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication [any sex outside the bonds of marriage], wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:29-32, emphasis mine). Does that not fit America today?

Do you know what God told Jeremiah about praying for the people of his day? God said, “Don’t pray for these people.”[7] Their grace period had expired. I fear America’s grace period has also expired, and God is saying, “Don’t pray for these people.” The train is hurtling downhill fast and the brakes are out. Our Lord’s return gets closer by the day. Every new fire ignited by lawless rioters brings us closer. Every murder that takes place closes the gap. Every baby that is aborted draws the noose tighter. Jesus is the only fix to this broken world.

Still, we pray. We are instructed to pray for our leaders[8] that we might live “peaceable” lives, but that does not necessarily equate to praying for the salvation of a too-far-gone nation. I could be wrong, but as I have searched the New Testament, I do not find any admonition to pray for the nation, the leaders yes, but not the nation. I would like to see a national revival, but I sincerely doubt that it will happen. Our national track record in that regard testifies to the improbability of that happening. Still, my baby brother and I will join thousands of others on the Mall in Washington DC on September 26 for a Franklin Graham sponsored prayer march on the nation’s capital.[9] We will march from the Lincoln Memorial, past the Washington Monument and on to the steps of the Capitol. We will march, and we will pray as we go. If the direction of the nation is to change, our leaders need to change either physically or spiritually.

National revival is improbable, but not impossible. Who knows! Our Lord may delay His coming, but His judgment is not only for our nation but for the whole world. The entire world needs repentance. If only our nation repents, it may not stop the judgment that is coming upon the whole world. In any rate, it would be great if our nation experienced a national revival. We can pray.

Notes:


[1]  “If My People” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/08/21/if-my-people/

[2]  “When God Won’t Hear” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/07/17/when-god-wont-hear/

[3]  2 Peter 2:22

[4]  “Fear Not” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/08/16/fear-not/

[5]  Jeremiah 28

[6]  Daniel 1:6

[7]  Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14; 14:11

[8]  1 Timothy 2:1-2

[9]  Washington Prayer March 2020 – https://prayermarch2020.com/

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Predestination of Purpose

[Christ] In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (Ephesians 1:11)

The debate of predestination or election vs. free will continues through the ages of Christendom without apparent resolution, except in the mind of the one who dogmatically holds one view or the other. I believe the answer is somewhere in the middle,[1] but for now I want to look at the idea of predestination.

I find that when the term predestined (or “predestinated” as rendered in the KJV) appears in the New Testament, it seems to be associated with the Christian’s “conversation” or manner of life. Our beginning verse is a good example: “[Christ] In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11, emphasis mine). Note that the Christian has already obtained an inheritance, i.e., eternal life in accordance with the purpose of the One who works everything according to His will. What is that purpose? “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ” (Ephesians 1:12, emphasis mine).

Again, God has “predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Ephesians 1:5, emphasis mine). The “predestination” is that those who are saved will be adopted as “children” of God. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4, emphasis mine). God planned from the “foundation of the world” that His adopted children would be blameless before Him through Jesus. The predestination is the plan that God had from beginning for those who would be saved. God does not predestine some to hell and some to heaven. That would contradict the “whosoever will” found in John 3:16 et. al.

Salvation is by grace through faith, as Paul explains. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, emphasis mine).  Even the faith that it takes to believe is a gift of God that He gives to everyone. We all have the ability to believe. Jesus said, “… If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you” (Luke 17:6, emphasis mine). A mustard seed is a small thing, yet with that small amount, a mountain can move. Believing in Jesus can be a huge mountain for some people, but by exercising the little faith God gives by His grace, it can be moved.

When we exercise that faith, we are transformed – remade. “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, emphasis mine). The new creation crafted by Christ becomes a tool for His purpose. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10, emphasis mine). Those good works for which we are created were preordained or predestined from the beginning.

Our post-salvation life is predestined, not our salvation. Our salvation is “foreknown” not predestined. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29, emphasis mine). We are predestined to be conformed, i.e., “molded.” into the image of Christ, but God foreknows those who will be saved; He does not predestine them for salvation nor damnation.

If you are not sure about your status before God, please visit my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Somewhere in the Middle: – https://erniecarrasco.com/2013/10/20/somewhere-in-the-middle/

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