Category Archives: Resurrection

Why the Resurrection Matters

He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, (Luke 24:6)

Christmas and Easter (I prefer “Resurrection Day”) are the two most important days on the Christian calendar with Resurrection Day being, arguably, the most important of the two. One might argue that we could not have the Resurrection without the Birth, but the Birth without the Resurrection would render both insignificant.

Jesus’ birth came like the birth of any other baby. The Gospel writer Luke records the event taking place in a humble animal shelter visited only by lowly shepherds. However, Luke points out an important fact that is summarily overlooked by most readers. Luke says that, “while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered” (Luke 2:6, emphasis mine). So, apparently, Joseph and Mary had been in Bethlehem a few days before the time of her delivery. Luke does not say, but it seems reasonable that in Bethlehem there were ladies who, seeing a young woman ready to give birth, would have offered their services as midwives. That is the way they did it in those days. Regardless, the birth was no different than any other. The conception nine months prior was the “miracle.” At that time, God planted His seed in Mary’s womb without human aid.

So Jesus came into the world and “dwelt among us”[1] and “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). He grew up like any other Jewish boy and probably learned carpentry from His earthly father, Joseph. At the age of 30,[2] the age at which priests enter service,[3] Jesus started His three-year earthly ministry. We know from the four Gospel accounts that His ministry ended with His death on the cross. He was buried in a borrowed tomb and rose on the third day.

But what if the resurrection never happened? Paul put it quite succinctly when he said, “if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). If Jesus did not rise from the grave, His death for our sins is of no avail. We have no hope of eternal life, and, worse, our destiny is in hell. That explains why unbelievers live for this life alone because, for them, this life is all there is. They reject the concept of hell and prefer the idea that death ends it all, or that it begins a new cycle through reincarnation.

Many arguments against the resurrection of Jesus exist that have a long history from the very beginning. Some say that Jesus did not die on the cross but only “swooned” and revived in the cool dampness of the tomb, rolled the two-ton stone away and walked out. That is a silly theory when one considers the beating, torture, and flogging Jesus received before being nailed to the cross. Also the Roman soldiers who crucified Him were expert executioners and were familiar with death. Had they suspected that He “swooned,” they would have broken His legs like they did with the other two victims.[4] These were professionals; they knew death. Then, to ensure His death, one of the soldiers ran his spear into his side and punctured the pericardium.[5]  

Let us say, for argument’s sake, that this one they failed to recognize and Jesus did indeed pass out. Even if He did revive in the cool tomb, the loss of blood from the beatings and flogging, not to mention the puncturing of his heart sac, would have left Him too weak roll away the heavy stone – one that took several men to move – by Himself.

Another argument suggests that Jesus’ disciples overpowered the Roman guard posted at the tomb.[6] This too is a silly argument. All four Gospels record how the disciples went into hiding at Jesus’ arrest. They feared for their lives. It seems unlikely that these frightened men, most of them fishermen and at least one un-calloused tax collector, would dare to take on battle-hardened professional Roman soldiers. However, this fabrication spread from the very beginning. Matthew records that an angel came to roll back the stone and the soldiers on watch were scared stiff.[7] The soldiers, knowing the consequence (death) for failing in their responsibility to keep the tomb secure, went to the chief priests, rather than their leaders, hoping to get a sympathetic hearing about the empty tomb. They made a good choice as the Jewish religious leaders paid them off and covered for them as long as they would spread the lie that the disciples had stolen the body.[8]

Still another argument insists that the women that went to the tomb on Sunday morning were so grief-stricken that they failed to recognize Jesus’ tomb and went to the wrong sepulcher which was empty. This argument simply rejects what Scripture clearly reports. Three of the four Gospels record that the women witnessed the tomb where Jesus was laid.[9] John, who was present at the crucifixion along with Jesus’ mother and the other women, does not say, but it stands to reason that he would have accompanied them to the tomb.

Jesus rose from the dead. If that were not true, the Jews, because of their hatred for Him, only needed to exhume the body and present it to the world, but they had no body. Men have tried and failed to show Jesus’ remains, but they cannot.

Jesus rose from the dead. He conquered death, and because He conquered death, we have the assurance that our sins are covered and we have eternal life with him. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept [died]. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:19-22, emphasis mine). “For if by one man’s [Adam] offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [Jesus] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s [Adam] disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Jesus] shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:17-19, emphasis mine).

Because Jesus conquered death, we can have the assurance of eternal life with Him. That is why the resurrection matters. If you are not sure where you stand before Jesus, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  John 1:14

[2]  Luke 3:23

[3]  Numbers 4:3

[4]  John 19:32-33

[5]  John 19:34

[6]  Matthew 27:65-66

[7]  Matthew 28:2-4

[8]  Matthew 28:11-15

[9]  Matthew 27:61; Mark 15:47; Luke 23:55

Comments Off on Why the Resurrection Matters

Filed under Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Christmas, Easter, Evangelism, Gospel, Heaven, Hell, Holidays, Religion, Resurrection, Salvation, Theology

Victorious Entrance

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:11-16)

This Sunday, March 28, celebrates Palm Sunday when we commemorate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem in the final week of His earthly ministry. We term this event as the “Triumphal Entry,” but in many respects, the term is a misnomer.

Daniel predicted the event to the very day of its occurrence. “Seventy weeks [70 x 7 years, or 490 years] are determined upon thy people [Israel or the Jews] and upon thy holy city [Jerusalem], to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness [beginning with the Millennial reign of Messiah], and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy [Messiah]. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem [decreed by Artaxerxes Longimanus, 444 BC] unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks [7 x 7 or 49 years], and [plus] threescore and two weeks [62 x 7 or 434 years; 49 + 434 = 483 years]: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined” (Daniel 9:24-26, emphasis mine). Daniel divides the 490 years (70 weeks) into three segments of 49, 434, and 7 years. The first segment began when Artaxerxes Longimanus issued the fourth decree to rebuild Jerusalem with its walls in 444 BC, and ended in 395 BC when the project was completed – 49 years.[1] The next segment encompassed the 400+ “silent years” until Jesus, Messiah, entered into Jerusalem. Four hundred eighty three (483) years were fulfilled at that time and the final segment of seven years remains to be fulfilled. At the end of the 483 years, to the very day, Jesus, Messiah, was “cut off” at the cross.

The prophet, Zechariah, predicted that the Messiah would present Himself riding on a donkey. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9, emphasis mine). All four Gospel writers record this event from their unique perspectives.[2] Most Bibles that use sub-title divisions of chapters title this event as the “Triumphal Entry.” However, Jesus did not enter Jerusalem as conquering king. He presented Himself as the Melek Shâlêm, the King of Peace. A conquering king would have presented himself with great pomp and ceremony,[3] riding on a white charger followed by his conquering armies, parading the spoils of his conquests.

Jesus entered humbly as the King of Peace. His week would end with a tortuous, humiliating death on a Roman cross. From a human perspective, that hardly qualifies as a triumph. However, the following Sunday, the earth shook[4] as Jesus ripped apart the chains of death and conquered man’s final enemy.[5] “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). Yet, we still die physically, but our spirit lives on. “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). One day, even physical death will be lost even to the memory. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Revelation 20:14). Our present bodies (whether alive or dead) will be transformed into eternal bodies like the body of the resurrected Christ. “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 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 [who are living at the time] shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:50-53, emphasis mine).

Jesus conquered death at His resurrection, but He has yet to enter Jerusalem in triumph. Our starting verse above, Revelation 19:11-16, describes His real Triumphal Entry. He will enter Jerusalem from His departure point on the Mount of Olives riding on a white horse – not a donkey this time. He will be followed by His heavenly hosts (angelic armies) and by the spoils of His victory, His saints, all riding white horses and dressed in white robes – no weapons in hand. When His foot touches Earth, the Mount of Olives will split in two,[6] half to the north and half to the south. From there He will travel north to the Jezreel Valley, for the Battle of Armageddon. That too is a misnomer, because it will be no battle at all. “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19:15, emphasis mine). That “sword” out of His mouth is His Word. He will speak and the “battle” will be over. “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one” (Zechariah 14:9).

Now, that is a Triumphal Entry!

The current events of our world signal that the time of Jesus’ Victorious Entrance is soon approaching. He will come for His Bride, the Church, at any moment; although we do not know when. However, if the signs indicate that His return is near, that means the catching up of His Bride is even closer. Soon after that, Daniel’s final week, the last seven years known as the Tribulation, will begin. Those who are not snatched away by Jesus will remain on earth to suffer through the judgments of God like at no other time in world history. If you are not sure where you stand with Jesus, you can escape that awful time by putting your trust in Him as your Savior. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  John F Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary- Old Testament, (SP Publications, 1985), p.1363.

[2]  Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19

[3]  “The Triumphal Entry,” — https://erniecarrasco.com/2019/04/14/the-triumphal-entry/

[4]  Matthew 28:2

[5]  1 Corinthians 15:26

[6]  Zechariah 14:4

Comments Off on Victorious Entrance

Filed under Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Current Events, Death, Easter, End Times, Evangelism, Gospel, Heaven, Hell, Holidays, Resurrection, Salvation, Second Coming of Christ, Theology

The Trumpet Shall Sound

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 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 15:51-52)

If you came to 2021 hoping for an improvement over 2020, you may be sorely disappointed. If you study Scripture, you know that the closer we get to Christ’s return, the worse things will become. However, for those who place their trust in Christ, this is cause for celebration rather than consternation. Before things get really bad, we have the expectation that Jesus will come and rescue His Church before the events described in the Book of the Apocalypse begin.

“When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder,” James M. Black, 1893 [1]

The Bible is clear that the Church, the body of true believers in Jesus Christ as Lord, and born again of the Spirit of God will be absent during the 7-year Tribulation period that the Bible calls the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble.”[2] Several of the Old Testament prophets spoke of the coming of the Messiah to set up an earthly kingdom. From their perspective, as if looking across time over a series of mountain peaks where the Messianic Kingdom is at the final peak, they did not see the “Church Age” in the valley between His first coming (the first peak) and His second coming (the last peak). They rightly prophesied about His first coming and even of His death and resurrection, but the next thing, from their perspective, was the setting up of the Messianic Kingdom.

The Apostle Paul explained that the Church, to the OT prophets, was a “mystery.”[3] All OT prophecy deals with Israel. God gave the Prophet Daniel a concise prophecy of the end times that precisely predicted the arrival of the Messiah at His first coming. The angel that delivered the message said, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24, emphasis mine). Notice that the time is determined for Daniel’s people. Who are Daniel’s people, if not Israel? The 70 weeks are 70 sevens of years (70 x 7) which come to 490 years. Four hundred eighty-three (483) years were accomplished with the crucifixion of the Messiah.[4] At that time, God stopped Israel’s time clock and seven years remain to complete the “seventy weeks determined for Daniel’s people.” In the meantime, the “mystery” of the Church is in effect.

In order for the final “week” of the seventy weeks to resume, the church must be taken out of the way. The reason for is that the Holy Spirit resides with every true believer. The Apostle Paul informs us that the Holy Spirit restrains Satan’s full control of the earth, so He must be removed before “prince,” aka, Antichrist, can be revealed. Paul said, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin [aka Antichrist] be revealed, the son of perdition … For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [restrains] will let [restrain], until he be taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 7, emphasis mine). He that restrains (letteth) is the Holy Spirit. He must be “taken out of the way” before the Antichrist can be revealed, and where the Holy Spirit goes, the Church goes. This event is known as the Rapture.

There are no signs given in Scripture to prepare us for the Rapture. We can know the time is near when we see signs for the last days and the end of times falling into place. Jesus gave His disciples a detailed explanation of the last days prior to His second coming.[5] Jesus told them about wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, pestilences, etc. in the latter days, but He cautioned that “All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8). This ramp-up of signs that point to the Second Coming, which is the seven years after the Rapture of the Church, are things we can see taking place now. That lets us know that the Rapture of the Church is very near.

Can we believe in the Rapture? Before going to the cross, Jesus assured His disciples (and us), “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). This is the promise that Jesus will come for us and take us to be with him. However, it does not tell us when this will take place.

Some of Paul’s first letters were written to the church in Thessaloniki. Much of what he wrote to this church dealt with the end of time. To them, he wrote, “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). Notice that we meet Him “in the air;” He does not return to the earth at that time.

To the church in Corinth, Paul wrote, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed, 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 [who are alive] shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, emphasis mine). However, this still does not explain when that will take place.

The Thessalonians had the same question. To them, he explained that the Holy Spirit that restrains the evil one must be removed before Antichrist can come on the scene. We looked at that verse earlier. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away [from the faith, i.e., “apostasy”] first, and [Antichrist] be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, edited and emphasized for clarity). “And now ye know [the Holy Spirit withholds] that [Antichrist] might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity [does] already work: only [the Holy Spirit] who now [restrains] will [restrain], until [the Holy Spirit] be taken out of the way. And then shall that [Antichrist] be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his [Second] coming: Even him [Antichrist], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:6-9, edited and emphasized for clarity).

When the trumpet sounds, Jesus will come for His church. Christians who have died will rise from their graves, then Christians who are living will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and will meet with the risen dead together to meet Jesus in the air. Then we will all go together to be with Jesus for seven years. In the meantime, here on Earth, Antichrist will exercise dominion, and God will unleash the worst judgments the world has ever known. At the end of the seven years, Jesus will return with His Church to reign on Earth. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war … And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (Revelation 19:11, 14). “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4, emphasis mine).

The trumpet shall sound. Are you ready? If you are not sure, please visit my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder,” James M. Black, 1893

[2]  Jeremiah 30:7

[3]  Romans 16:25

[4]  Daniel 9:26

[5]  Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21

Comments Off on The Trumpet Shall Sound

Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, End Times, Evangelism, Gospel, Heaven, Holy Spirit, Resurrection, Salvation, Second Coming of Christ, Theology

Tongues Of Fire

And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  (Acts 2:3)

My youngest brother, Eli (there are three of us of which I am the oldest), enjoys Bible study as much as, if not more than, I do. He has a gift of looking deeper into Scripture than your average Bible reader, and he is always eager to share his insights with me. It makes for wonderful and enlightening conversations.

Recently Eli shared his thoughts on Pentecost and the “coming” of the Holy Spirit. Conventional thought maintains that the Holy Spirit did not descend upon the disciples until the Day of Pentecost when 120 of them were gathered in the Upper Room as instructed by the Lord Jesus. “And, being assembled together with them, [Jesus] commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:4-5, emphasis mine).

This “promise of the Father,” most agree, is the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost in the KJV) which Jesus promised would come after He was gone.[1] “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7, emphasis mine). Luke, who also authored the Book of Acts, wrote more about the Holy Spirit in his Gospel (and Acts) than the other Gospel writers, including John. He records these words of Jesus before His ascension. “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49, emphasis mine). Both Luke and John indicate that the coming of the Holy Spirit would come at a later time, and Luke’s account of the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 seems to confirm Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit coming at a later time – ten days after His ascension.

However, John seems to throw a wrench into conventional thinking, as Eli points out. After His resurrection, Jesus met with His disciples, not just “the twelve,” on several occasions. In fact, Paul records that He was seen by as many as 500 at one time.[2] On the evening of His resurrection (it was Sunday evening), John records that, “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week [Sunday], when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (John 20:19, emphasis mine). They were startled as one might imagine, and Jesus proved His identity by showing His wounds.[3] Then at this point, His ascension is still 39 days away, Jesus gives His Great Commission for the first time.[4] “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:21-22, emphasis mine).

Well, that raises the question. When did the disciples receive the Holy Spirit, on the Resurrection Sunday, or at Pentecost? Something so dramatic definitely happened at Pentecost that Luke records that 3000 souls were saved![5] Contrary to Luke, John records the giving of the Holy Spirit prior to Pentecost in spite of his own record that the “Comforter” would not come until after Jesus was gone. It is very difficult to build a case on just one verse (John 20:22) when so many other verses seem to contradict, and Scripture never contradicts itself, even when we do not understand it clearly. “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33). So what is the answer?

Eli suggests that the miraculous event at Pentecost was a “manifestation” of the “power” of the Holy Spirit. Take our own experience for example. We come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit on our spirit to convince us of the truth of God’s Word, convict us of our sin, and convey our need for the Savior.[6] When that takes place and we trust in Jesus for our salvation, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our lives and instantly the “light comes on,” and we know that the transaction took place. For most of us, that moment comes quietly and without a lot of fanfare – certainly nothing like what happened at Pentecost. We do not immediately start speaking foreign languages previously unknown to us or performing miracles. We do not suddenly possess a deeper understanding of Scripture. That comes along through study and prayer, but it is the Holy Spirit within us that guides us into greater understanding. That comes with time and with the degree to which we submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

My point is that receiving the Holy Spirit is generally not some kind of dramatic experience. That often disappoints some who are expecting some sort of “rush” from the experience. That expectation often causes them to doubt that their salvation experience really “took.” Trust me. If you “believe,” it took.

So, when Jesus breathed on the disciples that evening in the Upper Room, nothing out of the ordinary took place, yet John records that they received the Holy Spirit. So what was it that took place at Pentecost?

Eli makes a distinction between receiving the Holy Spirit, which happens when we believe, and being “empowered” by the Holy Spirit to perform acts of which we were heretofore incapable, like speaking in languages we had not previously learned, or performing miracles of healing or raising of the dead – all of which the disciples did in the early church.

(At this point it is incumbent on me to stress that the “powers” granted by the Holy Spirit in the early church were for the purpose of giving evidence to the truth of the Gospel and for the purpose of edifying – building up – the church. It was not for the purpose of the personal aggrandizement of the individual.

All of these “gifts” still exist today, but they are always for the purpose of spreading the Gospel, and they are given only as the Holy Spirit determines, not the individual. There is not much need of that here in America because we all speak the same language, we have ready access to God’s Word – the Bible is freely available to everyone – and the Word of God is clearly preached on radio, TV, and the internet. If anything, we have such a glut of the Gospel that many just turn a deaf ear to it.

There is no excuse for anyone here in America not to respond to the Gospel. That was not the case at Pentecost. Jesus had just risen from the dead and ascended to heaven. Most people were unaware of that fact and the Gospel was brand new. In addition, at Pentecost, visitors came to Jerusalem from all over the Roman Empire. The Gospel message needed a special “kick-start” from the Holy Spirit!

By the way, all born-again believers are endowed with certain gifts of the Holy Spirit that are not as sensational as performing miracles or speaking in previously unknown languages.[7] The ability to understand Spiritual truths being, I think, the most useful. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14, emphasis)).

So, as Eli points out, the disciples were already indwelt by the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them (John 20:22), but what they received at Pentecost was “power from on high.”[8] This was a special “unction” – an “anointing” by the Holy Spirit. Luke records Jesus saying, “For John [the Baptist] truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:5, emphasis mine). That word “baptized” is the Greek word βαπτίζω (baptizō) which means “to make whelmed;” “to submerge; engulf; overcome utterly;” “to immerse, to overwhelm.”

Again, this event was yet future which goes back to Jesus saying that “the comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7).  Could it be that Jesus referred to His departure at the cross when He died? Jesus also said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17, emphasis mine). So, according to Jesus, the disciples (the twelve at this instance) were already indwelt with the Holy Spirit. This was before the crucifixion, before His resurrection, before His ascension, and before Pentecost. This further indicates that the event at Pentecost was a special manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s power for the purpose of “kick-starting” the Church, and not necessarily the first time the Holy Spirit came to reside in believers.

The Old Testament records many examples of the Holy Spirit empowering individuals to do God’s work. David experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and prays, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11, emphasis mine). David’s request further emphasizes the temporary nature of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling individuals in the Old Testament. That changed with Jesus’ advent.

Eli then draws a parallel to the creation account in Genesis when God created Adam – Man. In Genesis 2:7 we read that “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (emphasis mine). That “breath” was God’s Spirit distinct from the nephesh of the other creatures God created from the dust of the ground.[9] That “breath,” to a certain extent, was lost at the Fall[10] so that man died spiritually.[11] Jesus restores that life once more when He once again breathes out the breath of life into His disciples, “and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22, emphasis mine).

Another interesting insight Eli has concerns the appearance of the “cloven tongues like as of fire” that appeared over the heads of the disciples at Pentecost.[12] The description, first of all, is a simile – “like as of fire,” not actually fire. That they were “tongues” denotes the shape, and “cloven” indicates that they were divided either as a flame sometimes splits, or as candle-like flames distributed among the 120 present. Eli harkens back to the Tabernacle in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt. God manifested His presence with the Children of Israel by way of a column/pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night over the Tabernacle. Today, God dwells within His children, born-again believers, by way of the Holy Spirit. “Know ye not that ye are the temple [i.e. “tabernacle”] of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, emphasis mine). So, like the pillar of fire over the tabernacle in the wilderness, the “tongues of fire” over the heads of the disciples signified the new dwelling place of God within the lives of believers. I found that to be pretty insightful! I really enjoy plunging the wonderful depths of God’s Word with my little brother, Eli!

If you are reading this, and it makes little or no sense, it could be that the Spirit of God does not reside in you, so that it is all foolishness to you. That will change when you trust in Jesus and receive His Spirit who will help your understanding. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  John 14:16-26; 15:26; 16:1-16

[2]  1 Corinthians 15:6

[3]  John 20:20

[4]  I say the “first time” because Matthew 28:18-20, and Acts 1:8 record the Great Commission given immediately before Jesus’ ascension which was 40 days following His resurrection. John has Jesus giving His Great Commission on the same day (at evening) of His resurrection. Is this a contradiction? I do not think so. During His 40 days, I feel certain He reminded them often of what He expected of them and the final reminder was at His ascension.

[5]  Acts 2:41

[6]  John 14:17, 26; 15:26; 16:8, 13

[7]  1 Corinthians 12:7-11; Galatians 5:22-23 (“fruits” of the Spirit)

[8]  Luke 24:49

[9]  Genesis 1:24-25

[10]  Genesis 3

[11]  Romans 5:15,17

[12]  Acts 2:3

1 Comment

Filed under Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Religion, Resurrection, Salvation, Theology

So Ready!

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 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 15:51-52)

With everything taking place in our nation and across the world, I yearn with an aching heart for Jesus to call His children home. The event known as the Rapture captured my imagination almost 50 years when Hal Lindsey came out with his book, The Late, Great Planet Earth. Ever since, I have waited expectantly wondering if this could be the year.

Not long after reading Hal Lindsey’s book, I got married, started a family, and became very preoccupied with making a living and all that goes along with that. Thoughts of the Rapture came infrequently, but they never left my thoughts altogether.

Things back then did not seem as bad as they appear today. Roe v. Wade was a terrible decision by the Supreme Court, but as bad as that was then, it does not compare to the butchery taking place now and all that goes along with that. Homosexuals coming out of the closet disgusted us, but as long as they were not “hitting on” us, we could tolerate them. That sprouted into all kinds of perversion we see today that even involve young children. Today the “alphabet movement” demands that we accept their perversion as “normal.” They have even infiltrated elementary schools to indoctrinate our children into their deviance by teaching little ones that their gender is their choice, not a biological fact. What did Jesus say about those who harm little children? “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:2).

Add to all of that the violence in the streets of our cities – as in the days of Noah.[1] Then we have the Wuhan pandemic plaguing the world, and recently I heard from an unverified source that Russia plans to release COVID-20 which is supposedly worse. On top of that, we have a rapid degeneration of relations with China, and with Russia that some fear could lead to war. Meanwhile, in the Middle East where end-times prophecy focuses, the stage continues to be set for the end-times wars outlined in the book of Ezekiel.

It is not so much that all these things are taking place, but that they are accelerating at a rapid pace. What we see is what Jesus described in Mathew 24. However, what Jesus described was the Tribulation,[2] “the time of Jacob’s trouble,”[3] prophesied by Daniel.[4] Jesus referred to the time of His return to earth to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

The prophet Jeremiah called it “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” God changed Jacob’s name to Israel,[5] and he was the father of the twelve tribes that composed the nation of Israel. Furthermore, the angel instructed Daniel that “Seventy weeks [or 70 x 7 or 490 years] are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city…” (Daniel 9:24, emphasis mine). The first 483 years ended when Jesus was crucified. One final seven (years) remains to be fulfilled; that is the time of the Tribulation. The book of Revelation outlines in horrific detail the events that will transpire during those seven years. However, the point here is that the time of Tribulation is for the sake of Israel (Jacob). More could be said about this, but that is not my intent here.

The Church is not Israel. The Church has not replaced Israel as some wool-clad wolves are saying. The time of Tribulation is not for the Church. The purpose of the Tribulation is for the saving of Israel and for God to keep His promises to Israel. The Church will be removed before the Tribulation begins at the Rapture!

Many argue that “Rapture” is found nowhere in the Bible. That is true. The English word “rapture” is not in the Bible, but the source of the word is. The Greek word Paul uses to describe this event is harpazō.[6] It means “to seize, carry off by force,” or “to snatch out or away.” The KJV translates to “be caught up.” The Latin Vulgate Bible translates the word as “rapturo,” from which we get our English word Rapture.

There are several examples of people being “caught up” in the Bible: Enoch[7] and Elijah[8] in the Old Testament, and Philip[9] in the New Testament. In fact, harpazō is the word used for Philips catching away. Paul tells us that we will not all die, which seems to contradict what is said in the Letter to the Hebrews. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27, emphasis mine). That is generally true; however, there have been and will be some exceptions. Remember, Enoch and Elijah did not die, and we who are alive at the time of the rapture will not experience physical death.

We cannot enter the presence of God in our sinful bodies. Paul reminds us that we will not all sleep, i.e., die, “but we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51). “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53). We need uncorrupted, i.e., “sinless” bodies to stand in God’s presence. Paul says that the time is coming when the trumpet will sound and Christians who have died will come up out of their graves, then those of us who are alive at that time will be changed “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (that’s really fast).[10] Then he says, “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 4:17, emphasis mine). Note that we go “to meet the Lord in the air;” He does not come down to earth. The Rapture is NOT the Second Coming.” That event happens at the end of the Tribulation.[11] This is the Rapture of the Church.

I believe the Bible teaches that the Rapture of the Church takes place before the seven-year Tribulation. The Tribulation is for the salvation of Israel. The Church is saved through the blood Christ shed on the cross. There are no signs for the Rapture. All the signs we see are for the Second Coming of Christ, which is preceded by the seven-year Tribulation. That we are seeing the beginning signs for the Tribulation should alert us to the proximity of the Rapture. The signs we see now are just “the beginning of sorrows,”[12] i.e. birth pains. Just as birth pains begin infrequently and sporadically and gradually increase in frequency and intensity, in the same way, the signs of Jesus’ Second Coming will grow in frequency and intensity until He returns. However, the Rapture comes first, and it could happen at any time.

I am so ready! I often wonder what it will feel like for my body to change instantly into a sinless, flawless, immortal body with a full head of hair and the body of a 30-year-old! Then to zoom through the roof of my house or car leaving my old rags behind and clothed in a sparkling white suit of clothes to meet Jesus somewhere out in space. Can you imagine that! I am so ready!

How about you? Are you ready to meet Jesus in the air? You do not want to go through the Tribulation. If you think this world is bad now, you ain’t seen nothing yet! If you are not sure, you need to settle that right now. Please visit my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Matthew 24:37-39; Genesis 6:5, 11-12,

[2]  Matthew 24:21, 29

[3]  Jeremiah 30:7

[4]  Daniel 9:24-27

[5]  Genesis 32:28

[6]  1 Thessalonians 4:14

[7]  Genesis 5:24

[8]  2 Kings 2:11

[9]  Acts 8:39

[10]  1 Corinthians 15:50-53

[11]  Revelation 19

[12]  Matthew 24:8

3 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Current Events, End Times, Evangelism, Heaven, Resurrection, Salvation, Second Coming of Christ