Tag Archives: Christ

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

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A Reprobate Mind

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; (Romans 1:28)

Romans 1 beginning with verse 18 delineates the progressive decline of mankind’s spiritual condition into total depravity. I know, the Calvinists will point out that we are all born in total depravity, and I get that. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). However, I am speaking from a human perspective in this case. Humans gauge good and evil very differently than God does. For example, humans view theft in degrees. Lifting a pack of Live Savers ™ and slipping them into your pocket or purse when the cashier is not looking, is not as bad as armed robbery of the same convenience store. Holding up a convenience store because you want to feed a starving baby, is not the same as robbing that store because you need to feed your drug habit. However, to God, it’s all theft. He does not view sin in degrees.

So, back to the decline of man: Romans 1:18-32 outlines the progressive decline into a condition of irreversible depravity. It begins with the failure to recognize God, the Creator, in the first place. One does not need the Bible to inform oneself about God. The very creation testifies to His existence. The vastness, enormity, and complexity of creation, from the unfathomable reaches of the universe beyond our solar system to the invisibleness of the subatomic world, scream that all of this is no accident. It is all too well-balanced. It is too precise. Everything in the Creation works together and is interrelated. None of this could possibly come into existence from a freak explosion of an indefinable particle of mass somewhere in the emptiness of nothing. The thought of such a thing is absurd! Yet, the majority of humankind, if they give it any thought at all, prefers the absurd instead of acknowledging the Creator.

Therefore, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20, emphasis mine). God gives no excuse for denying the Creator.

From there the downward spiral begins. Since they deny God, they need to replace Him with something out of their own imagination: a Big Bang, evolution from a primordial soup, seeding and evolving of the human race guided by the aid of “Ancient Aliens” from other worlds. Close examination of such far-fetched ideas leads to a never-ending list of more unanswerable questions with just as many unsatisfactory answers. The real answer to all of these questions is GOD, but that answer is just too simple for God deniers. So, they continue in their fruitless pursuits, and they “[become] vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart [is] darkened” (Romans 1:21). The dark obscures clear vision. “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). God calls them “fools.”[1]

After that, humanity falls into idolatry. Idolatry is not necessarily the worship of grotesque figures of strange demonic entities. Idolatry is more than that; it is the act of giving anything priority over God. That can be as innocuous as the forms of entertainment that occupy our time to involvement in such grandiose ideas as the activist groups who want to save the planet, combat climate change, save the dogs, engage in politics, etc. Anything that takes one’s focus away from God is idolatry. The passage explains the decline like this: “[They] changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Romans 1:23). America pulled up anchor from the Solid Rock of God more than five decades ago and has drifted into idolatry, as a nation, ever since. As a result, “God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves” (Romans 1:24). We see this too in the rise of pornography, homosexuality and all forms of sodomy, pedophilia, and more.

This gives evidence that we are in the place of God’s judgment on our nation. “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet” (Romans 1:26-27, emphasis mine). Unless you have been living in seclusion, or worse, you are caught up in the idolatry of this world, it should be obvious that our nation has fully sunk into the morass of all kinds of human depravity.

Except for the voices of maligned Christians, our nation as a whole gives no thought to God. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:28, emphasis mine). The Greek word translated “reprobate” is adokimos means “not standing the test, or not approved.” It is used in reference to metals or coins that do not meet accepted standards. They are unfit, unproved, or spurious. The English definition gives the meaning of “depraved, unprincipled, or wicked.” A “reprobate mind,” therefore, is one that is incapable of proper reasoning.

This explains much of the unrest in our country. ANTIFA claim that they are anti-fascist, but they practice fascistic behavior. The BLM movement claims they support black lives, but their actions end up being detrimental to black lives. Many politicians of both parties wrap themselves in the Constitution, yet they oppose the duly elected President of the United States and refuse to investigate the illegal voting in five states that robbed President Donald Trump of a second term. And now that the other candidate appears to have the office in hand, they turn in irrational spite, hatred, and vindictiveness against the sitting President who has only a matter of days to serve in an attempt to impeach him. It makes no sense, and no amount of logic or reason will deter them from such a stupid act. This is a clear example of a reprobate mind!

Sadly, it appears that come January 20, 2021, the party of the reprobate mind will rule our nation unless we have a miraculous intervention of God. Let us pray that happens.

Notes:


[1]  Psalm 14:1; 53:1

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When Foundations Move

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)

Several years ago (I do not recall the exact year because I do not keep a diary), my backdoor neighbor, Tim, had the slab foundation of his house leveled because he noticed cracks in the brick mortar and wall separation on one side of his house. He caught me outside one day and pointed out that my house had the same problem as his and suggested my house needed the foundation leveled as well. I could not see any problem because I had not noticed any mortar cracking or wall separation, but my friend swore that he could see it. He worked in housing construction most of his life and has an eye for that kind of thing. I do not, especially if the defect is minor (to my eye). So, I ignored his advice.

Not long after that, I noticed that the sliding glass door leading to our backyard was developing some fogging between the panes of glass. These were very expensive insulating doors installed by Champion Windows & Doors ™ that came with a lifetime warranty. I called Champion out to see about replacing the doors. When the technician arrived, he informed me that they would not be able to replace the door because it needed to be reframed and the foundation had shifted. He said I needed to get the foundation repaired first, and then they would return to replace the door.

Convinced now that my neighbor was right all along, I called some foundation repair service to come to inspect and repair the foundation of my house. They came out and confirmed that the foundation sunk about three-fourths of an inch on the east side of my house. It took eight piers on the east side of the house to bring the foundation back to level. With that done, Champion came back and replaced our sliding glass door without any problems.

Fast forward to the year of the COVID-19 and the first year of my retirement, June and I decided we needed to do some “minor” renovations to our house. I avoided it as long as possible because, while I can do the work, it takes me a lot longer than it does a “pro” and besides that, my knees are not up to a lot of the getting up and down required by this kind of work. I convinced June that it would be better to get a “professional” to come in and do the work. Because they know what they are doing, they should be done in three to four days – two weeks at the most, while it would take me a month or more. The job was relatively small: replace five interior doors, replace the carpet in our bedroom with laminate flooring, and extend that flooring into our master bath.

June, being the ultimate bargain shopper that she is, found a “highly recommended” contractor on our “Neighborhood” web page, and she gave me his contact information. I procrastinated for several months until I finally called the man over to give us an estimate shortly after Thanksgiving. I had just accepted a very time-consuming and challenging teaching opportunity at church, so hiring this guy to do the work seemed like a good option. The estimate, for his labor only, seemed reasonable enough, so we hired him to do the job. While looking the job over, he recommended replacing our existing tile shower with a poly “shower kit” that would look so much better than our moldy old tile. That sounded good to me, so I bought the kit and included that with the “upgrade.”

Well, to make a long story short and to get to the point of my title, the man knew nothing about hanging doors. The floor and the shower he subcontracted out, and the men that did that work did an excellent job, but anything my guy and his workers did was very poor quality. I do not want to be too critical of the man, but it seems that he did not know the purpose of a carpenter’s level. The reason he had trouble hanging the doors was due to my original foundation problem. When my foundation settled, all the framing of the house shifted to the east, not much, but enough to throw everything off “plumb.” Had my contractor put a level on the door frames, he would have seen the problem and corrected it (or not). As it was, he wasted my time and his (a little over a month), and the job was ended by me in an incomplete state. Tim, my backdoor neighbor, came and helped me get the doors hung properly. In the past when Tim was working, all he did was install windows and doors, so with his expertise, we were able to correct all the problems. All the doors open and close properly. One problem still remains. The shower doors do not hang correctly for the same reason, but I know now what to do to correct it.

Jesus once said, “And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved” (Luke 5:37-38). Of course, His application had a different purpose, but the adage still applies. You do not put new doors on old door frames.

The movement of our house’s foundation was very subtle, almost unnoticeable. The walls “looked” perfectly straight and “plumb.” However, when a “square” door, a plumb line, or level – a perfect standard – is placed against, it exposes the defect. Corrections can be made to make things “look” straight, but the fact remains that the foundation moved and the whole building is now “off plumb.” Nothing can correct that without tearing down the whole structure and rebuilding from the ground up on a level foundation.

Our nation was founded on a firm foundation. However, in the 233-year history of our nation’s founding, so many extraneous laws, regulations, and edicts, the majority of which are unconstitutional, have been attached to our Constitution that the foundation is leaning and cracking. We hear of the “swamp” that is deep, wide, and far-reaching, that operates unfettered by the Constitution, and which makes and enforces laws and edicts of which most citizens are unaware. Our beloved President, Donald Trump fights against the swamp, but the swamp creatures are numerous, stealthy, and vicious. Some even appear to be “straight” (as in “upright”), but they expose their “swampiness” when they vote to enact perverse legislation, like the latest COVID-Relief Bill, against the good intentions of our President.

The moisture and soft marsh of the swamp weakens an otherwise solid foundation. The black mold of the swamp putrefies and decays the framework of any structure causing it to lean and eventually fall. This is where we are. The year 2020 has been the worst year of my lifetime, but it exposes the weaknesses in our nation’s once strong foundation. When foundations move, the building will eventually fall. I do not look forward to the year 2021 except for the fact that our Lord, Jesus Christ, will come for His Bride very shortly. He will destroy the foundations of this world, lay down a new foundation, and build an everlasting structure thereon. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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Strange Christmas

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (Galatians 4:4)

The year 2020 has been a historic year to say the least. It started with my retirement at the end of December 2019 and quickly followed by minor knee surgery on my left knee just three days after. Being new to retirement, I found it challenging to find what to do with all my spare time. I filled some of my time with volunteering opportunities at church and at the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History. Of course, that occupied only part of my time. I also spent many hours, three to six hours a day, studying Scripture, something I enjoy the more I do it.

It was nice to have control of my own time and spend it at my own discretion. Then COVID-19 hit and everything changed, not just for me, but for everyone on Earth. I will spare all the details. I am certain that anyone reading this had similar experiences with masks, social distancing, restrictions on large gatherings, church shut-downs, etc. The year 2020 has been, in many respects, the worst year in the threescore and ten years of my life. Personally, I believe that what we experienced this year, especially with the draconian governmental intrusion into our lives, portends to the seven-year Tribulation prophesied in Scripture and the soon coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. That, in turn, gives me hope that the Rapture of the Church can happen at any moment now. That gives me joy and hope in spite of all this stink going on in our nation and the world.

The year 2020 quickly comes to a close, and we now come to Christmas. But like the rest of 2020, Christmas this year is very strange. My church just opened back up at the beginning of December, but with so many restrictions that it does not even “feel” like church. Attendees must wait to be ushered into a socially distanced place, wear masks during the worship portion of the service, and then wait to be ushered out at the end of the service. Any “fellowshipping” must be done outside of the building and hugs and handshakes are strongly discouraged. We normally put on a Christmas program at this season with choir and orchestra, which usually packs out the sanctuary. This year, we had a socially-distanced ensemble and a guest singer. The music was nice, but it lacked the pizzazz of past Christmas programs. Of course, the audience was at one-third of normal due to all the restrictions, and I missed the “feeling” of the event. I normally sing in the choir, but we could not do that because of COVID-19.

Christmas Eve service will be even stranger. This year it will be “virtual.” Our pastor will bring a Christmas message and we will observe the Lord’s Supper “online.” I do not mean to criticize. I am only stating reality. I know our church staff is trying to make the best of a stinky situation, but for all their effort, it is still a very strange Christmas.

For many years I have bemoaned the inflated sentimentality attached to the season. (You can read my past articles on the topic.) In the first place, it is highly unlikely that Jesus was born in December. In the second place, the overt commercialization of the season detracts from any significance of its true meaning. And in third place, the sentimentality attached to it makes it more about us, and it does about Him.

Our tree is up, the nativity is on the mantle, and Christmas lights illuminate our front yard, and it still feels like a very strange Christmas. What is not strange or unchanged is God’s love and gift to us in taking “upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7) “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). When you think about it, that in itself is strange. However, it is God’s plan, and it is in effect regardless of circumstances. Maybe it’s good that this is such a strange Christmas after all.

Merry Christmas!

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A Star

I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. (Numbers 24:17)

As 2020 winds down to a close, we can look back and say, “It was a terrible year!” For me, it started with a drastic change in life called retirement. And before I could really adjust to my new lifestyle, COVID-19 hit and changed life for all of us. Do I need to recount the chaotic events? In November, we voted in the 2020 Presidential Election, and the candidate who campaigned the least and attracted the smallest following miraculously won the election – supposedly. Now we face the real possibility of having a Socialist government for the first time in our nation’s history. President Trump alleges that the election was stolen, and much evidence exists indicating that he has reason to protest and contest the results. He has a great team of lawyers that are fighting to get the election overturned (I pray that they do), but time is running out. However, there is still hope.

I have said this before, and I am still convinced that whether Biden becomes our next President or President Trump wins his second term, we face troubled times ahead. But there is hope. At least, for the Christian there is hope. We only need to remember that our primary citizenship is in heaven with our Lord, and the intensity of the trouble we experience today should alert us that He will soon return to take us home to be with Him. The intensity of the trouble will increase, and the more it increases, the closer we are to His calling us home. There is always hope.

Long ago, as the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness hoping for their Promised Land, their enemies rose up to thwart their plans. One such enemy was Balak, the king of Moab, who hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel.[1] Balaam was not a “prophet of God,” but he knew God well enough to know that God would not allow him to speak against His people. No matter how Balaam tried, he could only speak the words God directed him to speak. In the end, Balaam pronounced a blessing on Israel, rather than a curse.

In that blessing, Balaam prophesied, “there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17, emphasis mine). On the face of it, the prophecy refers to a coming king of Israel that “shall smite the corners of Moab.” If we stop there, the prophecy leaves us in a lurch, but the Holy Spirit keeps no secrets from those who have “ears to hear.”

In his Gospel, Matthew tells us that “there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east and are come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2, emphasis mine). Yes, the baby born in Bethlehem was the Star, but a real star – a celestial object – appeared out of Jacob (Israel) to announce His birth. It is because of that Star that we have our Blessed Hope.

Notes:


[1]  Numbers 22-24

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