Tuesday, June 28, 2016

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet!

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice He judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following Him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of His mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On His robe and on His thigh He has this name written: King of kings and Lord of Lords." Revelation 19:11-16

"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years."  Revelation 20:4-6 NIV

I believe that the Lord is coming back, and it is sooner than any of us think.

I do not have proof of course; it's just my personal belief. It is also the belief of millions of Christians throughout the world. I don't have a timetable, nor would I venture a guess, but I believe it is sooner than we think…

Frankly, though, I don't believe most of the eschatological experts have figured it out either. But we should not let that divide us, or cause us to give up in our belief of Christ's return.

In my study bible before the book of, (as the apostle John called it), The Revelation of Jesus Christ, there is an introduction which includes a section that breaks down eight different historical eschatological beliefs:
·         Premillennial Pre Tribulation view, 
·         Premillennial Post Tribulation view, 
·         Premillennial Mid Tribulation view, 
·         Premillennial Pre Tribulation Partial Rapture view, 
·         Premillennial Pre Wrath Rapture view,
·         Evangelical Post Millennial view,
·         St. Augustine's Amillennial view,
·         A Second Amillennial view.

Every one of these scholarly believers who proposed these theories believed they were correct, but obviously, they cannot all be right.  They could all be wrong, but they couldn't all be right. I find it fascinating that believers who study the same scriptures can conclude such opposing views. Regardless, God's timetable and His plan are for an appointed time that will not disappoint.

I tell people that I'm a "pan eschatologist."   That is, I believe all of the end time things are going to "pan out" just like God has planned!  

I have always believed that Jesus will come back in my lifetime, and that this will be the last generation. However, all through church history, Christians have believed the same way.  

Throughout church history many believed that Jesus' return would happen in their lifetime because rampant sin had never been worse. Unfortunately, with each succeeding generation, evil does seem to wax worse than ever before.

The good news is that even though evil does seem to wax worse and worse, where sin abounds, grace much more abounds! 

In church history there have been extreme cases of believers who were so convinced of God's timetable that they did things like dressing up in white robes and waiting on a mountain top for the rapture.  Can you imagine the disappointment when it did not happen?

Personally, I remember in 1988 there was a book that sold millions of copies that predicted that Jesus would return and rapture the church sometime near September 13th, 14th, or 15th in 1988.  When that didn't happen, the author revised the book for 1989.  I'm guessing the author was sincere, but sincerely wrong, and of course twenty-eight years later we can say his "guesstimations" were way off.

During that time, I heard stories of people that sold everything they had or gave it away; and I heard other stories of people running up their credit cards to the maximum because "they would be raptured and not have to pay it back." (I think that is called stealing).

People can become foolish when they believe they are leaving the earth. I think that is why Jesus gave the parable of the master leaving and telling his servants to occupy until he came back. In other words, keep doing what is needed until the Master returns. 

Whether He comes back in a rapture, or for a millennial reign, or to fight at Armageddon, Jesus will return to the earth. Whether He returns to earth in my generation, or He waits for another, He is coming back.   We should occupy until He does come back.

All of us only get one generation to live, so this is our last generation, our one and only. So what should we be doing with the time we have left on the earth?

Well, one thought is to ask what was important to Jesus when He was preparing to leave the earth.  It was important to Him to tell His apostles and disciples that they should share the message of the gospel with this world.

I believe we should use every opportunity we have to share the love of Jesus Christ with this generation.  Every believer has a God-given love inside them to share with the people of their generation (1 Thessalonians 4:9). It is the love of God that compels us to share the gospel.

Another personal belief of mine (and many, many other Christians) is that there will be an incredible wave of harvest before Christ returns.  Multitudes of people will come to faith in Christ because of the work of the Holy Spirit in the earth. 

In our American history alone, we have seen many revivals…  We had the Great Awakening under the powerful preaching of George Whitfield, Jonathan Edwards and others.  We had other Great Awakenings and moves of the Holy Spirit that drew multitudes into the kingdom of God.

In the past 125 years we have seen the Azusa Street Revival, the Voice of Healing Revival, the Charismatic Renewal, the Toronto Blessing, Brownsville revival, and many others that have touched millions and brought them to faith.

Crossing over generations and borders, God used people like Charles Finney, the Wesley brothers, Dwight L. Moody, Evan Roberts, Smith Wigglesworth, Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, Reinhard Bonnke, and many others to bring in millions all over the world.

But as the Bachman Turner Overdrive song goes, "You ain't seen nothing yet!"  This next move of God will be the so-called "regular people," not just famous people.  There is a new wave coming very soon that will be like a tsunami of God's love and grace to sweep a billion souls into the kingdom.

"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.   Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming..." 2 Peter 3:8-12 NIV (emphasis mine).

Come Lord Jesus! Maranatha 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Is Sin Just "Covered by the Blood?"

Which is more powerful; the blood of bulls and goats, or the blood of Jesus?

What seems like an obvious answer, for many Christians is not. Many believers still live under the power of sin as if the blood of Jesus had no more power than the blood of an animal.

"The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins."  Hebrews 10:1‭-‬4 NIV.

So the writer of Hebrews tells us that the sacrifices of the law could never make the worshipers perfect.  Why?  Because every time there was a sacrifice, there was a reminder of their sins. Those sacrifices could only cover sin for a time but could never completely take sin away.  Those sacrifices could never cleanse, "...once for all..."  However, the blood of Jesus did not cover sins, it took them away.  
Jesus did not hide your sin - He removed your sin!

"But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." Hebrews 10:1‭-‬4‭, ‬12‭-‬14 NIV.  By one sacrifice for all time, Jesus made the way for the complete (not just partial or temporary - but complete) forgiveness and removal of sin.  
The blood of Jesus is so powerful it makes worshipers perfectly cleansed, forgiven, righteous, and holy.

Why would anyone want to be reminded of their sins?
Under the New Covenant, there is no longer a reminder of sins from year to year. Jesus' blood paid for it all.  If a believer sins, he doesn't need to sacrifice an animal, and Jesus certainly does not need to go back on the cross.  The bible says in Hebrews 8:12, that God has chosen to remember our sins no more.

As believers, we sometimes need to be reminded that we are no longer slaves of sin. Before you were in Christ, you were in bondage to sin, but as a believer, you are no longer bound to sin.  "...Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin."  Romans 6:6  Why are you no longer bound to sin? "...Because anyone who has died has been freed from sin." Romans 6:7

"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace."  Romans 6:11‭-‬14 [Emphasis mine].

Because of the blood of Jesus, sin is no longer your master!

Ephesians 1:7 says, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace..."  In Christ, we have been redeemed and forgiven because of God's grace.

Past tense.  Done deal.  Microphone dropped.  Elvis has left the building.

This was accomplished at the cross long before you or I were born and certainly long before any of us had sinned. Jesus did all the work that was necessary through His shed blood.

"For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:13‭-‬14.
Again, past tense. No more need for a new sacrifice or for fresh redemption. 
You were rescued. You were redeemed. You were forgiven. 
"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:1‭-‬2.

Many people today live under the shadow of performance-based religion that keeps them in bondage to sin. 

Why does it keep them bound?  Because they are not told about the sin-destroying, bondage-breaking and delivering power of the precious blood of Jesus.  They are not told who they really areInstead, they are often told that they are just "old sinners saved by grace," and not the truth of what the bible says.  
I doubt there could be a bigger lie in the church today than that phrase!  I know it sounds spiritual and humble, but it is not true.  Before you were in Christ, you were a sinner.  In Christ, however, you are not!  You are a saint.  You are righteous, you are holy!  People may repeat that phrase because they have been taught it, or because they think it sounds humble.  But to say that you are still a sinner once you are in Christ is antithetical to the gospel.

It may sound prideful to say you are righteous or holy and a saint, especially when religion says you are a sinner.  But the bible tells us our true identity.  If you are a believer in Jesus, saved by His grace, you are no longer an "old sinner."  

If you are a believer in Jesus, then you are:
  • A saint of God, not a sinner.  
  • A blood-bought overcoming son or daughter of the Most High God!
  • Alive together with Christ
  • Seated with Christ in heavenly places
  • Accepted in the beloved
  • Justified freely by His grace
  • Righteous 
  • Completely and uncompromisingly forgiven...    
It is the blood of Jesus plus nothing that delivered us from sin.  It's not Jesus' blood plus your performance, your confession of sin, or any other thing that redeemed you or keeps you.  
The blood is that powerful!

Sin loses its appeal
When a person begins to realize who they are in Christ and what the blood of Jesus did for them, then sin begins to lose its appeal. 
Sin revives again as people are given a command not to do something.  
Don't believe me?  Try this on for size...

"I command you not to think about a purple elephant with pink hair!"

So what is the first thing that came into your mind?  Be honest.  Dare I say, that you immediately began to imagine what a purple elephant with pink hair would look like?  The very thing that you are told not to do is the very thing the flesh wants to do!  

That is the exact problem with trying to keep people from sinning by putting them under the law.  The purpose of the law was to point out that everyone was a sinner and could not help themselves from sinning. The law did not have the power to prevent sin.  In fact, the strength of sin is the law! (1 Corinthians 15:56)  Every year the law brought an ongoing reminder of sin.  
The law was good, but it was weak because it could never take away sin.  The sacrifices demanded by the law could only cover sin.  But again, the blood of Jesus did not cover your sin, it removed your sin.

As you believe the good news that the blood of Jesus has set you free from sin, you will begin to experience the joy that is found in knowing Him, and knowing that you are in Him, and accepted by Him just the way you are.  There is no longer trepidation of entering into His presence, but a new confidence and boldness of knowing that nothing stands between you and the Lord.
The blood of Jesus is powerful enough to take care of your past, present and future sin. 

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light." Ephesians 5:8.  You were darkness, but not in Christ!

"Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."  Hebrews 10:19‭-‬23 [Emphasis mine]
"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.."  Hebrews 4:14-16

God, who has already forgiven you in Christ, is faithful.