Category Archives: Salvation

Clueless!

And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:26-27)

Things go on as always. Nothing seems to change. “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Kim Jong-un has placed a big chip on his shoulder and dares America to knock it off. Xi Jinping, who tacitly agreed with President Trump to put pressure on North Korea to back off its nuclear expansion, now warns the US not to take military action against North Korea. In the meantime, Iran continues its nuclear program undaunted by restrictions imposed by the Obama nuclear deal. Russia, Syria, and Iran continue to amass troops on Israel’s northern border, while the cry for Israel’s destruction by Islamic extremists grows in intensity and volume. All of Europe is overrun with Muslims where almost daily there are reports of riots in the streets. Acts of terrorism and the raping of European women by Muslims, who see it as their sacred duty to conduct themselves as barbarians, is as commonplace as the rising of the sun.

Meanwhile, back at home, Trump haters and “Never-Trumpers,” aided by the Trump-hating liberal media, can find nothing but fault with President Trump. Regardless of the chaos going on all around the world, their concerted effort to delegitimize his administration consumes the majority of airtime with complete disregard for national security. Thanks to the previous President, the division in our nation grows deeper and wider than ever, and there seems to be no salve that can heal our nation’s wounds. It seems that any perceived offense serves as a motive to riot in the streets. Left or right does not matter; both sides thirst for blood. Morality? What morality? It no longer exists in America. Some public schools teach our little ones that their gender is a matter of their choosing regardless of their biological equipment. Our nation slaughters the unborn by the thousands daily.

With all the goings on in our country and in the world, it seems (generally speaking) that our people stumble around in a fog oblivious to the social collapse around them. They bury their faces in electronic devices. They search for diversion on television screens – sports, “reality” shows, TV gossip shows, etc. – anything to escape the “real world.” Then, if that does not work, they numb themselves with drugs or alcohol. It is like a bad dream where you are falling through the air without a parachute, and the ground is racing up to meet you. There is nothing around to grab to stop you. You are going to die, so you may as well think about something else because considering the inevitable will not help this time. Clueless!

The feeling is understandable for those who have no hope in Christ, but increasingly, I see a similar kind of attitude among Christians, albeit perhaps not to the same degree. Sometimes I listen in on conversations of Christian brothers, and what I hear is not much different than the conversations of non-Christians. They deliberate about their favorite sports team evaluating the condition and performance of the star players. I hear them discuss with great animation about the latest movie thriller or their favorite TV series. They will talk about who is “Dancing With the Stars” or the next “American Idol” or who is in the lead of “America’s Got Talent.” Sometimes they confide about what is going on in their families. Sometimes the conversation shifts to current events, which usually ends with the sense that there is nothing we can do about it. Very rarely is the conversation about what is going on at their church or about the pastor’s sermon last Sunday. Never do I hear about what they learned from their personal Bible study or what the Lord is doing in their lives. Their exchange sounds no different from that of the lost world around them – except without the “colorful” language. Clueless!

Jesus will return very soon.[1] He stands at the gates of heaven awaiting His Father’s command to go get His Bride – the Church. Like never before, a convergence of end-time signs continue to increase. Prophecy teachers more knowledgeable than me proclaim the same message I have written about over the last couple of years.[2] The prophecy teachers of which I speak are not false prophets the likes of Harold Camping who erroneously predict specific dates for Christ’s return. While they speak of a strong “likelihood” of Christ’s return this very year, they are quick to follow up with the disclaimer that we cannot know with certainty. However, the “signs” seem to indicate that our Lord’s return is more imminent today than ever. This is no time for Christians to be “clueless.”  Christians should rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus is coming soon.  Rather than confabulating over meaningless scuttlebutt, we should warn others of what is coming and share with them the way of salvation. Our Lord does not want us to be clueless. “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42).

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1).

“But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by. Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Luke 21:9-10).

“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:2-5).

“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).

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

“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 4:16-17).

“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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

Do not be clueless! The things of this world do not matter. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him … And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15, 17). “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 3:10, emphasis mine). All things that consume your mind are temporal. In one blinding flash, they will all vanish. When that happens, what will you have left that is of any value?

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:11-13, emphasis mine).

Reader, if you are not looking forward to Christ’s return, do not continue being clueless. Find the way to heaven here: https://erniecarrasco.com/heaven/. Prepare yourself for what lies ahead.

Notes:


[1]  “Coming Soon!” https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/07/09/coming-soon/

[2] For a list of articles I have written on these final days, look over to the right-hand column of this blog and find the “Categories” list and select the categories “End Times,” and “Second Coming of Christ.”

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One-Verse Theology

The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. (Psalm 5:5)

Sometimes people will take one verse out of the Bible and try to build an entire belief system from one verse without regard to what the rest of Scripture has to say about it. For example, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). Non-Christians and even many Christians use this verse to humiliate Christians into not making any judgments whatsoever. However, when read in context (Matthew 7:1-6) it becomes clear that what appears in isolation is not what is meant as a whole. Other examples could be cited, but this should do for the purpose of this writing.

Recently someone complained that the overused cliché – “hate the sin, but love the sinner” – is not biblical, and they used Psalm 5:5 (above) as their proof text. While the phrase itself is not found in the Bible, the concept is nevertheless both biblical and practical. Note that the cliché is not attributed to God, but rather it is intended for Christians.

The plaintiff claimed that the adage, “hate the sin, but love the sinner,” is not biblical because Psalm 5:5 says that God hates both the sin and the sinner. However, the challenger took one verse, Psalm 5:5, in isolation, and overlooked what the rest of the Bible teaches about God’s love – indeed, His love toward the sinner. Who of us can honestly say that we harbor no sin? If we are all sinners, even if saved by Grace, then by this assessment, God hates us. If we say we are not sinners, we have a surprise in store. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us … If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8, 10, emphasis mine). John was writing to Christians! Personally, I am grateful that God loves this sinner even though He still hates my sin. (By the way, the closer I get to Him, the more I hate my own sin.)

 So, let us examine the challenger’s one-verse defense in its entire context. Psalm 5 is an imprecatory psalm, i.e. a psalm that calls upon God to judge His or our enemies. It is written from a human perspective. Because of David’s understanding of God’s holy nature and His hatred for sin, he concludes that God hates the sinner equally. “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee” (Psalm 5:4). God cannot and will not abide sin. David continues: “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psalm 5:5, emphasis mine). As Hebrew poetry, the psalms are written in a parallel style, so that the thought in the first part of the verse repeats in a different way in the second. Strictly translated, the first part reads, “Not do stand the foolish before Thy sight,” or, better, “The foolish do not stand before Thy sight.” Comparatively speaking then, someone who “works iniquity” cannot stand in the presence of God, so that it appears that God hates the sinner. The Hebrew word translated “hate” is śânê’, and it means “to be in opposition to” or “to be an enemy or foe;” however, to be in opposition to someone does not necessarily require feelings of hatred.  Is it the sinner that God hates, or is it the sinner’s works of iniquity that God opposes? The Bible teaches the latter. The KJV includes the future “shall” (not found in the original Hebrew) indicating that the sinner will never be able to stand before the Lord. The unrepentant sinner does not now, nor shall ever stand in the presence of God. Their sin has separated them from God eternally. Does that mean that God hates them?

 “Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing [falsehood]: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man” (Psalm 5:6, emphasis mine). The judgement is reserved for a future time. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14-15). Does that mean that God did not love these sinners?

 The Bible teaches that God loves mankind. It teaches that from the very beginning. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17, emphasis mine). “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis 3:6, emphasis mine). “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; [He] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:14-15)

 Did God demonstrate hate for the sinner here, or did He show His love? By all rights, He should have killed them for their disobedience; after all, that is what He said He would do. Instead, God spared them, and He promised a Savior. Is that hate or love? One might rightly say, “Well, God was showing mercy.” Yes, that is true, but does mercy spring from hate or from love?

 David, a sinner himself, pleads with God to “Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee” (Psalm 5:10). God will do that in due time, but because of His mercy and His love (yes, love for sinners), He gives them time to repent. “But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass [surround] him as with a shield” (Psalm 5:11-12, emphasis mine).

 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, emphasis mine), “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, emphasis mine). “For God so loved the world [i.e. sinners], that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, emphasis mine). If God hates sinners, then why did He go through all trouble of making a way of salvation? “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11, emphasis mine).

 “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” It might be trite and overused, but it is biblical! It is also practical as it instructs us to love those who have offended us.

Reader, if you have not trusted in Jesus as your Savior, God does not hate you; He loves you, but He does hate your sin. You will never be able to stand before Him until that matter is settled. God loves you, and He sent Jesus to stand in your place and pay the price for your sins on the cross. Now He invites you to accept His free gift of salvation and eternal life. Acknowledge and confess your sinful condition to Him. Believe/trust that Jesus died for your sins. Ask Him to forgive you of your sin, and invite Him to be the Master of your life. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). His gift of salvation is yours for the asking. Do it today!

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Not Expecting to Die

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27)

Everyone dies eventually, but that is not my expectation. No, I have not discovered the fountain of youth, nor do I possess some secret, life-extending formula. Neither am I in denial about the certainty of death as it applies to me, nor do I fear the inevitability of death – although the process of dying is not too appealing. I fully accept the possibility that God could take my life at any moment. My life (and yours) belongs to Him, and He can recall it at His will. As the psalmist prayed, “LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am” (Psalm 39:4).

That said, I expect not to die. Although our leading verse emphasizes that “it is appointed unto men once to die,” there is biblical precedence for it not being true for all men.

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him (Genesis 5:24).

And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both [Elijah and Elisha] asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11).

Two men recorded in the Bible escaped natural death, Enoch and Elijah. Some believe that the two unnamed witnesses described in Revelation 11:3 are Enoch and Elijah brought back to fulfill their unfinished prophetic mission. “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them” (Revelation 11:7, emphasis mine). Those who hold this view use this passage as confirmation of the truth of Hebrews 9:27 above, i.e., Enoch and Elijah did not die while they were on earth, so they must complete their earthly task and die as appointed to all men.

However, Hebrews 9:27 does not say παντες [all] οι ανθρωποι [men] – transliterated, pantes hoi anthropoi. While some may say that I am arguing from silence, I believe I have a valid point. The truth of this verse begins in Genesis when God commanded Adam, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17, emphasis mine). Adam and Eve disobeyed God and the curse of death fell upon mankind.  “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19, emphasis mine). “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12, emphasis mine). Adam’s sin brought the curse of death “upon” all men. The Greek word translated “upon” is the preposition eis, which can also be translated “toward” or “among,” meaning that all men are under the curse of death, but that does not necessarily mean that all men will die physically, although that is generally true for all men. All of us are susceptible to physical death – for the most part. However, the spirit lives on forever.

Death is more than physical death. Indeed, the worst death of all is that of the spirit separated from its Creator. Every person is born under this curse. Without Christ, everyone is dead in sin – eternally, but not irrevocably, separated from God. “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened [made alive] us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (Ephesians 2:5, emphasis mine). Those who continue in that condition will suffer the second death. “And death and hell [the grave] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Revelation 20:14, emphasis mine). The second death is eternal separation from God for eternity in hell. What a chilling thought!

Everyone is born under the curse of death and is spiritually separated (dead) from God; but God has provided the way to be made spiritually alive by placing one’s faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ. However, along with that remains the fact that physical death is part of the curse. It is appointed to humans to die once, i.e., physical death, but those without Christ can also expect the second death – eternal spiritual separation from God.

However, Hebrews 9:27 implies that not all die physically. Indeed, there is coming a time when many millions of Christians from all over the earth will escape the bonds of this world without experiencing physical death.[1] “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 shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, emphasis mine). “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 4:16-17, emphasis mine). The Greek word translated “caught up” is harpazō, and it means “to seize,” “to catch away,” or “to pluck or take by force.” In Latin, it is the word rapturo, from which we get our English word “rapture.” That time is very near.[2]

While the possibility remains that God may take me at any moment – all of us live with that possibility – I rather anticipate that I will not experience physical death. I expect to be caught up in the Rapture. That too can happen at any moment, but I fully expect that it will happen before I die, and I fully expect it to happen very soon[3] – perhaps this very year.

When the Rapture takes place, millions from all around the globe will vanish in an instant. I will be one of them. The Rapture will cause havoc around the world, but especially in the United States. Many in our government, including President Trump (from what I hear), are “born-again” believers in Christ – genuine Christians. At the Rapture, they will all vanish. Think of the chaos that will ensue when that happens! The US Government and economy is on the verge of collapse right now. Think of what will happen when many of our leaders disappear!

Reader, how about you? Will you go to meet Jesus in the air with me, or be left behind to face the seven terrible years that will follow. If you do not know, I would invite you to place your trust in Jesus for your salvation. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

If you want to know more about the “Rapture” and the “Second Coming” of Christ, just type the phrase into the search box on this page or under the “Categories” column, select “Second Coming of Christ.”

Notes:


[1]  “Coming Soon!” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/07/09/coming-soon/

[2]  “Pentecost” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/05/28/pentecost/

[3]  “Rosh HaShannah” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/10/03/rosh-hashanah/

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Father

Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee? (Deuteronomy 32:6)

On Father’s Day, we set aside a special time to honor the one who gave us life. For better or worse, without our fathers, we could not celebrate anything, especially our birthdays. Mothers get all the glory because they carried us in their bodies for nine months, but it did not stop there. Our arrival and entry into the world caused Mama unspeakable anguish and pain. After that came all the late night feedings, nursing us through illness, and nurturing us through all the bumps and bruises of life. Of course, Dad got in on some of that, but not like Mama, but let’s face it, without Dad, Mama would have missed out on all those cherished experiences.

The verse above reminds us not to minimize the importance of a father. It is obvious that the verse is speaking about the LORD as Father, but the connection is clear that God identifies Himself with human fathers. The verb “requite” is not heard in normal, everyday speech today, but it means to make a “repayment.” The Hebrew word translated “requite” is gâmal, and it means “to treat a person (well or ill).” So, the question can be stated: “Is this how you treat or repay the LORD?” In context, God gave life to the nation of Israel. Remember? He called Abraham out of the land of the Chaldeans and promised him the land of Canaan. God gave life to Isaac, and He chose Jacob (Israel). God brought the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and established them in the land. Likewise, our earthly fathers gave us the spark of life and brought us into this world. Even if they were not the fathers that stayed around and provided for us in our childhood, they gave us the life we now enjoy. We should “requite” them with our honor and respect.

God is the model Father from which we can all learn. Granted, in our fallen condition, we cannot meet His standard, but we have a pattern to follow. We can thank our earthly fathers for “the seed” from which we sprang, but ultimately, God is Father to us all. “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?” (Malachi 2:10, emphasis mine) “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (Isaiah 64:8, emphasis mine).

King David expressed his wonder for the Father this way: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:14-16, emphasis mine). Our Father concerns Himself with every detail of our being. Jesus said, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30, emphasis mine). Hairs! Someone “follically challenged” like myself might see this as insignificant, but in truth, God even counts those hairs I have lost. As earthly fathers, we may not know the hair count on our children’s heads, but we should be encouraged to pay close attention to every detail of their lives.

Knowing every detail of our children’s lives makes us aware of their needs. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him” (Psalm 103:13). The Hebrew verb translated “pity” here is râcham, and it means “to love” or “have compassion on.” Jesus said, “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:8, emphasis mine). Further on He says, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matthew 6:31-32).  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17, emphasis mine). Fathers provide for the needs of their children.

The Father disciplines His children. “Discipline” in essence means “to teach.” “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).  Sometimes, this might include corporal punishment. “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes [in good time]” (Proverbs 13:24). “Beatings” are never appropriate, but the “board of education” properly and lovingly applied with wisdom to the “seat of understanding” is sometimes necessary. God the Father and God the Son provided the example. “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel” (John 5:19-20, emphasis mine).

Jesus, the Son, was subjected to and endured capital punishment for our sins. “For he [the Father] hath made him [the Son] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). At first sight, it seems abhorrent for a father to put his own son to death for the offenses of another, but this is a unique case. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus, “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14, emphasis mine).  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3, emphasis mine). The Father, punished His own Flesh, i.e. Jesus, for His children’s sins. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not” (1 John 3:1).

Even so, we do not escape the Father’s discipline when we need it. “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction” (Proverbs 3:11). “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:6-7, emphasis mine) “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11). Our Father’s discipline serves to sanctify us, that is, to make us holy, i.e., set us apart from the world. If we live in sin like the world, and God does not punish us for it, that only means that we do not belong to Him, because “whom the Lord loves, He chastens.”

The Father gives good gifts to His children. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11). Fathers want to leave an inheritance for their children. Some leave great wealth; others can only leave a good name. However, the Lord gives His children the ultimate inheritance. Jesus said, “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). “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Revelation 21:7, emphasis mine). “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:17).

Reader, if you are a child of God, regardless of your earthly father, whether good or bad, your heavenly Father cares for you and deserves your gratitude, devotion and obedience. If you are not a child of God, put yourself up for adoption; the Father will not turn you away. “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). If you are a father, let God the Father be your example.

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The Eternality of God

Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen. (Psalm 41:13)

I received an email just this week from a man trying to understand how God stepped out of eternity in order to create the universe. He said in part:

What research do you recommend, which helps one understand how God came out of eternity and made Genesis 1:1 come to pass? In other words, how does an endless succession arrive in the present? I understand that God is timeless and that He came out of eternity to create the universe about 10,000 years ago. But what was the Trinity doing prior to 10,000 years ago?

Reader, if you have struggled with this question, you are not alone in your bewilderment in understanding eternality of God. All of us “finite” human beings have a hard time wrapping our minds around eternity. It is less difficult for us to understand time having a beginning and going on infinitely, but eternity past is something difficult for us to grasp. God declares Himself to “Be”—He just “Is”—He “Exists.” When Moses asked God to identify Himself so he could report back to the people, “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:14). By the way, Jesus made the same claim: “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). The Pharisees that heard Jesus’ proclamation clearly understood what Jesus was saying. “Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59, emphasis mine), because to them, His words were blasphemy.

Well, that does not really answer the question, but it does confirm that God has always existed, even before time. Perhaps what we need to understand is that God created time. Time is part of the created universe. Without time, there is no universe. We understand the universe to be triune in nature composed of time, space and matter/energy. The first verse of the Bible establishes this: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, emphasis mine). God made time (beginning), space (heaven), and the earth (matter/energy). Since He is the Creator, He has access to time at any point in time, and since He is eternal, He is also present in all points in time. He is present in the past, present, and future. God is “omnipresent.”  God says, “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10, emphasis mine), The psalmist declares, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Psalms 139:7). There is no escaping God, although many attempt to deny His existence. God calls such people “fools” (Psalm 14:1).

No research can demonstrate how God accomplishes this. There are some things we simply cannot know. There are some things that God intended for us not to know; our brains just cannot handle them. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29, emphasis mine).

“Those things which are revealed” are written down in God’s Word, the Bible. Reader, if you do not know God, you can know Him—He can be known. Knowing Him is as easy as ABC. Borrowing from Pastor J.D, Farag of Calvary Chapel, Kaneohe, Hawaii:

Here is an article from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) that talks a little more about the eternality of God: http://www.icr.org/article/time-eternity/.

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Who Is Jesus?

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; (Hebrews 1:3)

For the last 2000 years, people have asked that question, but for those who have “ears to hear,” the Bible provides the answer. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1).

From the very beginning, the Scriptures have pointed to Christ. “And the LORD God said unto the serpent … I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; [He] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15, emphasis mine). Abraham received the promise: “… in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Isaac received the same promise: “…in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 26:4), and the promise was passed on to Jacob: “…in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 28:14). Jacob (renamed Israel) prophesied “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Genesis 49:10, emphasis mine). The scepter signifies rule. A “lawgiver” signifies absolute authority. This One would come from the tribe of Judah, and “the people” (meaning all the people, not just Israel) would be gathered unto Him. This is just in the book of Genesis!

Moses spoke of this Promised One. “And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him” (Deuteronomy 18:17-18, emphasis mine). Job looked forward to the Promised One. He said, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27, emphasis mine). The psalmists sang about Him. The prophets predicted His arrival with pinpoint accuracy. The prophet Daniel predicted His presentation to the very day! “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem [March 5, 444 BC][1] unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks [i.e. 49 years],[2] and threescore and two weeks [i.e. 434 years, 483 years total]: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks [483 years] shall Messiah be cut off [April 3, AD 33],[3] 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 9:25-26, emphasis mine).

The prophets predicted His birth in precise detail. They predicted His teaching in parables and His healing miracles. They predicted every agonizing detail of His crucifixion and even His resurrection. “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [i.e. the grave]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:10-11, emphasis mine). Not only would He rise again, but as the martyr Stephan reported, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56, emphasis mine).

Yes, but who was Jesus?

“God, … Hath in these last days [i.e. the days in which we live] spoken unto us by his Son [Jesus Christ], whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3, emphasis mine).

He is “heir of ALL things.” The universe and all that it contains belong to Jesus Christ. “He made the worlds.” “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3, emphasis mine). “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Colossians 1:16, emphasis mine). He is the Creator and owner of all that exists.

He is “the express image” of God. “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15, emphasis mine). “And the Word [i.e. Jesus Christ] was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, emphasis mine). “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18, emphasis mine). In other words, Jesus is the full expression of God in human form. “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness [of the Godhead] dwell” (Colossians 1:19, emphasis mine). “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9, emphasis mine).

Jesus is the One “upholding all things by the word of his power.” He is “the Word.” “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2, emphasis mine). “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17, emphasis mine). The Greek world translated “consist” is sunistaō, which means “to set together” or “hold together.” In other words, Jesus keeps the universe from flying apart!

Jesus is the Savior.  He “by himself purged our sins.” “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, emphasis mine). “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, emphasis mine). Jesus, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8, emphasis mine). Is that not amazing! This He did so that, “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). The inverse is also true. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18, emphasis mine).

Finally, Jesus is LORD. He is, and always has been, seated “on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34, emphasis mine). {Who needs Mary!} “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1, emphasis mine). “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1, emphasis mine).  “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12, emphasis mine). Jesus, “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1 Peter 3:22, emphasis mine).

Who is Jesus? He is God. He is Creator. He is sustainer of creation. He is Savior. He is Lord, and He is coming again. Jesus said, “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).

Reader, this is Jesus. Do you know Him? You can know Him. If you will sincerely ask Him to reveal Himself to you, He will. “The Lord [Jesus] 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). Just ask Him. Jesus said, “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:8, emphasis mine).

Notes:


[1]  Ed Hinderson & Thomas Ice, Charting the Bible Chronologically: A Visual Guide to God’s Unfolding Plan, (Eugene, OR, Harvest House Publishers, 2016), 98.

[2]  Ibid.

[3]  Ibid.

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Tasty Book

And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. (Revelation 10:9-10)

Before ascending to His throne “on the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69); Jesus hinted at the possibility that John the Beloved, might live until His return. “Jesus saith unto him [Peter], If I will that he [John] tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me” (John 21:22). In a way, that did indeed come to pass. John is probably the only one of Jesus’ apostles that died a natural death and did not experience martyrdom. Jesus granted John the unique privilege of seeing end-time events from a heavenly perspective.

While exiled on the island of Patmos for the sake of the Gospel (Revelation 1:9), John had a vision of the risen Christ and was “raptured” up to heaven to witness events at the end of time (Revelation 4:1). So, in a manner of speaking, John did indeed tarry until the coming of the Lord.

Beginning with Chapter 6 of the Apocalypse, John witnesses the horrors of the first half of the Tribulation. Following the sounding of the Sixth Trumpet (Revelation 9:13-21), there is a pause in the activity on earth and the scene shifts to what is taking place in heaven.

John describes the scene this way. “And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth” (Revelation 10:1-2, emphasis mine). The “mighty angel” that John saw is the Lord Jesus Christ. We know this by the description given by John. The Mighty Angel is clothed with a cloud as He was when He ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9). He is crowned with a rainbow like the one John saw around the throne of God (Revelation 4:3), and “His feet as pillars of fire” take us back to John’s initial meeting with the risen Christ (Revelation 1:15). He stands with one foot on the sea and the other on the land indicating His dominion over all the earth. Furthermore, He declares, “that there should be time no longer” (Revelation 10:6), something only God can control.

In His hand, He carries “a little book open.” A voice from heaven instructs John to take the little book from the Mighty Angel. Fearlessly, John records, “And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book” (Revelation 10:9a). We are awestruck by John’s boldness in the presence of the risen Lord until we recall that this was “that disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:7). “And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter” (Revelation 10:9b-10, emphasis mine).

Eating a book seems rather strange to us, but this is not the first time such imagery is presented in the Bible. The book represents the Word of God. God instructed the Prophet Ezekiel, “But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee. And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe. (Ezekiel 2:8-10, emphasis mine). He continues, “So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness” (Ezekiel 3:2-3, emphasis mine).

The Prophet Jeremiah experienced something similar when he said, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16, emphasis mine). The psalmist says, “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:9-10, emphasis). “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

For the child of God, His Word is sweet. It gives comfort, hope and security. Some have called it God’s love letter to the world. It is sweet to feast upon the Word of God. However, its consumption also brings bitterness. Why? Perhaps it is precisely because we are His children that we share His remorse for the lost who reject His Word. “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23). “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11, emphasis mine). “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).

The Word of God is Good News to the one who accepts it and consumes it; but it is bad news for the one who rejects its warnings. To the one who “eats” of its sweetness, it becomes bitterness knowing that friends and loved ones who reject its message are doomed to an eternity in “the lake of fire: (Revelation 20:15). Still, the Word of God is a “tasty book.”

Reader, if you have not tasted of God’s Word, time is getting short. Do not waste another day!

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