Friday, October 17, 2014

Don't Get Left Behind               10-17-14

No,  I have not seen the Nicholas Cage movie, I will wait until it comes out on Redbox. However, I thought it would be interesting to see what the Bible had to say about it, since it may soon become a reality. Amen? Say about what Ronnie? Oh, I'm sorry. Why, the Rapture of course. No, that word is not in the Bible, but, the Greek and Latin rendition of the English word is. In order to get a good look at the "catching away," a few verses must be looked at. The first is in the Book of John.

  1 " Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going."
John 14:1-4 (NASB)

John 14-17 concerns itself with a transitional period in the ministry of the Lord Jesus. To begin, it describes a transition of His ministry as a prophet into the ministry of High Priest. Also, it speaks of a change from Law to Grace. All that Jesus had taught up until this point was seasoned with a perspective from the Mosaic Law. Until His death on the Cross, He was still subject to the demands of the Mosaic Covenant. Understand that while Jesus was in a mortal body,He could not operate in the function of a priest, because He was of the tribe of Judah and that would have violated the Law concerning the Levitical Priesthood. So, the first act that Jesus performed as a priest was to offer His Blood on the altar at Calvary. Speaking in the upper room of things to come, Jesus told the Disciples that He was going away, but at some time in the future, He would return for them. Not only them, but for all the saints. This is important for us in this study because He says that He is going to take the saints to that place that He is preparing for them. In His Father's House. This first promise is to prepare a place. The second is to return for the believers to take them where He is. This is not speaking of a return to Earth. He is coming to take the saints to Heaven in preparation for a literal, physical return to the earth.   Here is a passage that speaks to the method of that return.

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
1 Thess 4:14-17 (NASB)

This passage is apparently answering a question that the church in Thessalonica had concerning  believers who had died. The concern of the church was not one of whether there would be a catching away, but one of whether their dead relatives would benefit from the Rapture or would have to wait in the grave until some future time. Were those that had already died going to be taken to that place that Jesus had prepared for them?  Here's a couple more for thought.

34 " Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; 35 for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. 36 But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Luke 21:34-36 (NASB)

Two phrases in this passage are germaine. Starting with"....for it will come upon all those who dwell on the earth..." In this passage Jesus is speaking of "that day." The Day of the Lord that the Old Testament prophets spoke so often of is in view here. The Great Tribulation is another word for it. The structure and wording leave no doubt that ALL who dwell upon the earth will have to endure that day. There is no out for those who dwell upon the earth. But, then in verse 36 the Lord speaks of PREVAILING TO ESCAPE (caps mine) If you dwell upon the earth at "that day" then you will go through all that will come upon the earth. But, "keep escape all these things...about to take place...."  In order to escape, one must be a believer. The way of escape is to "stand before the Son of Man" in that place that He has prepared.

There are many more passages dealing with this subject, but, for the sake of time and space I will look at just six more.......just kidding. One more begs our attention for a decent grasp of the subject matter.

 9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.
1 Thess 1:8-10 (NASB)

It's all about that one word wrath.  That word is the same word used in Revelation about God's wrath in the Great Tribulation and in Romans 1 about His general wrath against sin. Same word. In this verse, it is speaking of a future wrath, the wrath "to come."
Because of this it cannot be speaking about God's wrath against sin as in Romans 1 for that is a present reality.Neither can it be pointing to the wrath of Hell or the Lake of Fire. The reason being that this was being written to a church of believers who were waiting for the Lord's return.(vs.10) These believers, like the believers of today have already been delivered from hell and eternal torment by our Lord's shed blood on the cross of Calvary. Now, with all that settled, look at the last few words. Who rescues us from the wrath to come. Only one period of God's wrath remains. The wrath that will be poured out on the earth during the Day of the Lord or the Great Tribuluation. Having been delivered from the wrath of Eternal Damnation we have yet to be caught away and rescued from the future wrath of that great and glorious Day of he Lord.

But, there is yet another matter to be taken up with this catching away we label the rapture.

Folks, it isn't a matter of whether or not we are going to be caught,no...the great unanswered question is whether we, you and I are ready for His appearing. Look around you, can it be far off? Surely it is nearer now than it was when we were growing up. Let us take a minute and make sure that we are ready.He's coming...ready or not.

 11  Worship the Lord with reverence And rejoice with trembling. 12  Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!
Psalms 2:11-12 (NASB)

God Bless


Saturday, October 11, 2014

How Should We Then Live         10-11-14 

 17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
Phil 3:17 (NASB)

Memaw (my mother) enjoys going to church when she feels up to it. The pastor at her church has been doing a study on the book of Revelation for the past few weeks. They have progressed to the ninth chapter and a couple of weeks ago his exegesis of the beginning of that chapter intrigued me.

2 He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit.
Rev 9:1-2 (NASB)

 He stated that while this smoke should be taken literally in its time frame, many scholars also speak of a symbolic meaning for this smoke; that being it represented a wave of deception and false doctrine  that would come upon the earth leading up to and during those perilous times.  Hmmm..You don't have to look far today to see the  various doctrines being set forth in the Christian church. We are even being beguiled into tolerance and acceptance of a false religion, all for the sake of peace. With all that to go on, I set about thinking on the above verse in Phillipians. Here it is again.

17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
Phil 3:17 (NASB)

Read the third chapter and you discover that Paul is warning the Philippians about deception and false doctrine in his day. He then exhorts them to follow him and his example and to observe those who walk according to his pattern. The NIV says to"keep your eyes on those who live as we do." In order to escape the lure of another gospel Paul instructs the church to join with those who LIVE as we do. I asked myself this question. What was Paul's example? What was the pattern or model of life that Paul was talking about? Was it preaching? No. Was it giving? I don't think so. Was it suffering? That's closer, but not really. I couldn't really put a finger on it until my eyes fell on something a few verses later.

    3 Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Phil 4:3 (NASB)

".....who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel...." You see Paul's example..his lifestyle, was one of struggle.

That word struggle means "to contend with an adversary or opposing force," "to advance with violent effort."

You see Paul was not always in the clutches of suffering. He had some good days too. As a matter of fact he said that he had learned contentment in good times as well as bad. But, it seems that the one attribute that marked his life was struggle. He was all the time contending with the adversary. His mindset was one of advancing the Gospel. This world was not his home. His citizenship was in heaven. He warned against joining ourselves with those whose direction and focus was set on things of this world. Even calling them "enemies of the cross." Rather he said to "observe" those who lived like he did; not only observe but join with. To yolk ourselves with those of like mind, who contend and struggle with the adversary for the cause of the Gospel.

You see folks your life may not look like much to the systems of this world. You may not be the "success" or "walking in the victorious  life." Heck you may not look like much at all when measured by the standards of this world. Maybe your finances are a little on the short side. Maybe your kids aren't exactly where you would like them to be. It's possible that your life isn't "Leave it to Beaver." You know "honey I'm home!" You feelin me here? Maybe you are in a pitched battle with the enemy and adversary of your soul. Is it possible that you and yours are in a STRUGGLE. Could it be that you are CONTENDING for every inch of ground."Yeah,Ronnie that's exactly how it is." Well DON'T FRET!! You are in good company. As a matter of fact you are the kind that God is looking for. You are a kindred spirit with the writer of much of the New Testament, and one to be observed and sought out by others of like mind. Take heart brother and sister. Keep the faith. Amen.

12 O God, do not be far from me; O my God, hasten to my help! 13 Let those who are adversaries of my soul be ashamed and consumed;
Psalms 71:12-13 (NASB)

God Bless


Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Game Of Inches                          10-4-14

 4 "Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.
Hab 2:4 (NASB)

This is a football Saturday up here in K-Town. Earlier, I watched our beloved Vols lose one they probably should have won. Now, in the other games that I am watching, that worn out cliche that is the title of this message is,once again, being proven true. Dropped passes off the fingertips, missed first downs by "just inches," a bobble here, a slip there. Played on 100 yard field, in gargantuan stadiums, running up and down the field of play, the victor and the vanquished being determined literally by a few inches here and there. It reminded me of a  Christian cliche from years ago. Remember this one? "The most difficult twelve inches to traverse in this life is the twelve inches between your head and your heart." We read God's truth in His Word about how we should live, but, many times it's a disconnect isn't it? Or how often is there a circumstance staring smack down the barrel at us, daring us to believe God at His Word. The Lord speaking to our hearts, "Do it this way," or even better, "Leave it alone and let Me take care of it." Our sense of reason and responsibility screaming at us that it can't be right. We hear in our spirits the all too familiar,"Did God REALLY say that Ronnie?"We tell ourselves that we haven't heard God right. We begin to replay and rethink His Words in our hearts. We put our hands to a situation in a feeble attempt to fix something that only God has the fix for. Consequently, many times we talk or reason or "fix" ourselves right out of the blessing that God had in store for us. Has that happened to you? It certainly has to me.

How should we then live? The nickel answer? By faith of course. (smile)

6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. 7
Heb 11:6-7 (NASB)

Only one problem. It's just not that simple is it?
As my good buddy is apt to say,"It's minor surgery when it's you, but, it's MAJOR surgery when it's me!" There's only one way that I know to make that twelve inch journey from your head to your heart. Keep at it.... Keep at it.

17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Romans 10:16-17 (NASB)

You have to hear the word. You must hear God's written Word. Over and over again. Then over and over again. Until that promise that you are reading about and hearing about in your head becomes a real thing in your heart. But then, you must hear from THE WORD. THE LIVING WORD. We must get alone with God. We must pour our heart out to Him and ask Him for grace to believe Him and His Word. Your head isn't going to like it. Your flesh is going to holler. But, if we will keep seeking. If we can keep trusting HIM instead of ourselves, we can make that twelve inch journey from the head to the heart. Then we will understand that faith, like football is a game of inches.

89  Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. 90 Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands.
Psalms 119:89-90 (NASB)

God Bless