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Can Miracles Still Happen Today?

Can Miracles Still Happen Today?

Miracles are common in both the Old and New Testaments. But many skeptics, as well as some Christians, are asking, “Can miracles still happen today?”

No one is immune to crisis. Sooner or later, tragedy will strike and in a moment, our calm and peaceful life will become a raging storm. We will then face a crisis only the miracle power of God can see us through.

What are Miracles?

A miracle may have several, different definitions.

1. First, we may define a miracle as “a less common kind of God’s activity in which He arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to Himself.”

This definition takes into account an understanding of God’s providence whereby God preserves, controls, and governs all things. If we understand providence in this way, we will naturally avoid some other common explanations or definitions of miracles.

The Biblical Definition of Miracles

2. We can also define a miracle as “an exception to a natural law” or “God acting contrary to the laws of nature.”

However, this definition does not adequately account for the biblical teaching on providence.

It’s because the phrase “laws of nature” in popular understanding implies that there are certain qualities inherent in the things that exist, “laws of nature” that operate independently of God. Thus, God must intervene or “break” these laws for a miracle to occur.

3. Another definition of a miracle is “an exception to a natural law” or “God acting contrary to the laws of nature.”

Again, this definition is inadequate. This is because the phrase “laws of nature” in popular understanding implies that there are certain qualities inherent in the things that exist. For instance, the “laws of nature” operate independently of God and God must intervene or “break” these laws for a miracle to occur.

Therefore, the first definition given above, where a miracle is simply “a less common way of God’s working in the world,” seems to be preferable. It is more consistent with the biblical doctrine of God’s providence.

This definition does not say that a miracle is a different kind of working by God, but only that it is a less common way of God’s working. And that it is done to arouse people’s surprise, awe, or amazement in such a way that God bears witness to Himself.

Miracles in the Bible

In the beginning, God separated day from night, flung the glittering stars into space, and set the sun ablaze. He formed the earth and all that was in it. And then He breathed into a handful of dirt and made a living soul. These are miracles!

It was not until Abraham was one hundred and Sarah was ninety did God miraculously bless them with a son. God performed miracles for Moses as he led the children of Israel out of Egypt.

God let Joshua held the son and stopped the moon (Joshua 10:12-14). Daniel muzzled the mouths of the lions (Daniel 6:21-22). And the three Hebrews children came out unscathed from the burning furnace (Daniel 3:23-27).

For us, God sent a Redeemer, His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, born of a virgin. That was a miracle!

Jesus’ Ministry of Miracles

Jesus had a ministry of miracles. He turned water into wine (John 2:1-11). He healed the sick and afflicted (Matthew 9:35; 12:15; 14:14, 36; 15:30; Mark 6:56; 7:37). He fed multitudes of people (Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-39 and raised the dead (Luke 7:11-15; 8:49-55; John 11:38-44).

Jesus' Ministry of Miracles
Jesus Heals the Man with Leprosy
Photo Credits: The Chosen TV Series

Those were wondrous miracles. But the most important miracle of all was when Jesus died to pay our sin debt, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day.

That was a glorious, victorious miracle. And because of that miracle, our sins are forgiven and forgotten.

The Purposes of Miracles

We read the Bible and we can’t help but ask what the purposes of miracles are.

In the days of Moses, the plagues on Egypt demonstrated that the God of Israel was superior to the gods of Egypt. The miracles that accompanied the Exodus confirmed that God was behind that event and that Moses was the designated leader of His people.

In the days of Elijah, God provided a series of spectacular signs at the hands of His prophets to prove that Baal was a false god. In the days of Jesus, God worked many miracles to confirm the identity of His son and to validate the fledgling church.

In the New Testament, one purpose of miracles is certainly to authenticate the message of the gospel. When miracles occur, they give evidence that God is truly at work and so serve to advance the gospel. The apostle John reported certain miracles of Jesus “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God …” (John 20:31).

The miracles in the Old Testament were intended to stamp with approval God’s unique movements. But the miracles of Jesus went a step further. The final miracle attached to the life of Jesus was His resurrection, which stamped His life and death as extraordinary.

Objections to Miracles

The most common objection to miracles is that they are logically impossible. Even if there is a God, critics will say, “He has set up the world to operate in a certain way. For God to interrupt the order of His creation is to violate what He made and called very good” (Genesis 1:31).

This view assumes whenever supposed miracles are subjected to rigorous examination, the examiners will find insufficient evidence or possible alternative explanations.

These critics accuse people who believe in miracles of circular reasoning. “I want to witness a miracle, so I insist that this unusual event is an act of God.”

This sort of approach in denying miracles is itself circular. The naturalist ends up saying, “Miracles can’t happen in our closed natural universe. Therefore, every unusual event has a natural explanation, even if I can’t figure it out.”

But God exists, and the universe is more than a closed system of physical laws and is subject to the wise power of its Creator. Thus, belief in miracles of time, matter, and space seems reasonable indeed.


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Are Miracles Still Happening Today?

Some have argued that miracles were restricted to the apostles or the apostles and those closely connected with them. But the unusual concentration of miracles in the ministries of the apostles does not prove that no miracles were performed by others!

In the larger context of the New Testament it is clear that miracles were worked by others who were not apostles, such as Stephen (Acts 6:8) and Philip (Acts 8:6–7). Christians in the several churches in Galatia (Galatians 3:5), and those with gifts of “miracles” in the body of Christ generally (1 Corinthians 12:10, 28) also worked miracles.

What about today?

Many other Christians throughout the first-century church were working miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit is still working miracles today in the lives of Christians.

Although those whom God gifts with the ability to perform miracles may not be able to perform them whenever they wish, the Holy Spirit is continually distributing them to each person “as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11).

Miracle: An Answer to Prayers

There have been many instances when God answered a persistent prayer. For instance, physical healing for which there is no known medical explanation. Although God may do so only after several months or years of prayer, it seems quite clearly to be in response to prayer so that people are amazed and glorify God.

When this happens, there seems no reason to deny that a miracle has occurred simply because the earlier prayers were not answered immediately.

The ministry in the power and glory of the Holy Spirit is characteristic of the new covenant age (2 Corinthians 3:1–4:18). Therefore, we would expect that Christians today would also have the ability to minister the gospel with accompanying miraculous demonstrations of God’s power.

Should Christians Seek Miracles?

It is one thing to say that miracles might occur today. It is quite another thing to ask God for miracles. Is it right then for Christians to ask God to perform miracles?

The answer depends on the purpose for which miracles are sought. Certainly, it is wrong to seek miraculous power to advance one’s own power or fame, as Simon the magician did (Acts 8:21-22).

It is also wrong to seek miracles simply to be entertained, as Herod did (Luke 23:8). It is also wrong for skeptical unbelievers to seek miracles simply to find ground to criticize those who preach the gospel (Matthew 16:1-4).

There is nothing inappropriate in seeking miracles for the proper purposes for which they are given by God.

In the Gospels, many people came to Jesus seeking miracles, and he healed them for these purposes. Moreover, when the Lord sent His disciples out to preach, He required them to seek for miracles to happen.

Do Miracles Exist Today?

Experiencing Miracles

We do not have to understand miracles to experience one. Man has a two-fold nature: physical and spiritual. If we are willing to experience only what our minds can understand, we will never experience a miracle.

The God of the natural is the God of the spiritual. The God who enforces the law of gravity enforces the law of miracles. Nothing is impossible with God.

Jesus said, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). He also said, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14).

When you need a miracle in your life, remember that miracles happen when you obey the Word.


References:

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible Edited by John Hagee & Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

 

Are the Soul and Spirit Eternal?

Are the Soul and Spirit Eternal?

There’s an ongoing debate among Christians as to the immortality of the soul and spirit. Are the soul and spirit eternal? Do they become extinct upon death?

The Bible teaches that man is made up of material (body) and immaterial (soul and spirit) components. Life begins when they are united and life ends when they are separated.

Is the Soul Immortal?

Both the Old and New Testaments teach that humans have an immaterial part that will last forever. Thus, we should not see life and death as existence and non-existence. As Dr. Frank Turek often says, “When we die, we don’t cease to exist; we simply change location.”

Death is a transition to a different mode of existence. Therefore, life and death should be viewed as two different states or existence.

Death means Separation of the Body from the Soul and Spirit

What the Old Testament Teaches

The foundational biblical teaching on the subject of the immortality of the soul is the Old Testament.

When Adam sinned against the Lord, it was his body that was judged to go back to its original elements (Genesis 3:19). Adam’s spirit, however, was not judged to return to dust because it was breathed by God into him. Adam’s body became dust but his spirit went elsewhere.

The Bible never teaches that the spirit can be annihilated or become extinct at death.

We read in Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV) that humans have been made for all eternity. Our soul and spirit will live forever; death is not the end.

Scriptures make a distinction between the body and the spirit and it implies a continual life of the spirit after the body dies (Ecclesiastes 12:7, ESV). In effect, the spirit will continue to exist but the body does not.

In addition, Isaiah 14:9 (NIV) speaks of Sheol – a place where the dead exists; not utterly annihilated. So, there is an actual place where the dead will reside and do not go out of existence.

Not Everyone Died

Two Old Testament characters did not die but rather went to heaven without dying; Enoch and Elijah.

Genesis 5:24 says this about Enoch, “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” Of Elijah, 2 Kings 2:11 tells us, “… suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”

Since Enoch and Elijah did not die, what happened to their bodies? Where did they go? We can’t tell for sure but one thing is certain, there is existence beyond the grave. The immaterial part of humans is not destroyed; it survives beyond this life.

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What the New Testament Teaches

Like the Old Testament, the New Testament also has much to say about those who have died. For one, Jesus promises eternal life to those who put their faith in Him.

In a conversation between Jesus and Martha recorded in John 11:25-26, we read the following:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

We see that Jesus is speaking of life after life. He couldn’t be talking about physical death when He said those who believe in him shall never die. Everyone dies, for sure! Yet, there is a part of each of us that will never die.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

Likewise, in His dialogue with the Sadducees, Jesus spoke of the existence of those who had previously died. Matthew 22:31-32 records Jesus saying these:

“But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have long been dead when God spoke to Moses. But God said to him, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” God did not say, “I was their God.”

Jesus was saying that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were still living though they had died physically. Their physical death did not end their existence. This is an early biblical reference to the fact that the dead do not go out of existence. The body dies but the soul and spirit live on.

I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

Moses and Elijah

When Jesus appeared at the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with Him. Matthew 17:13 records the following.

“And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.”

This gives further testimony to life after death. Moses had been dead for over a thousand years. Elijah had been taken up in a whirlwind to the presence of the Lord hundreds of years earlier. Yet here they were with Jesus.

Obviously, they survived beyond the grave.

Everyone Will be Judged

In John 5:28-29, Jesus spoke of a judgment of the human race.

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”

If the dead are going to be judged when the graves are opened, then obviously life does not end with physical death. There must be some type of existence beyond the grave if the human race is going to be judged.

Annihilation of the Soul and Spirit

There is a popular teaching among some Christian denominations that the wicked will not suffer eternal torment. Instead, they will be annihilated and will cease to exist.

However, the Scriptures teach that the soul and spirit cannot be annihilated. While the body will die, the soul and spirit will live on. Thus, death is not the end of conscious life. Death is the separation of the body and spirit.

The body returns to dust where it came from and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The body is just the temporary residence of humans (2 Corinthians 5:1).

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Jesus also made a very powerful statement in Matthew 10:28.

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

The word “destroy” has the idea of punishment, not annihilation. The destruction of the soul means separation from the life of God. Although living, the soul of the unbeliever has no connection to God whatsoever.

The Souls Under the Altar

The book of Revelation speaks of the souls of the dead under the altar.

“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held” (Revelation 6:9).

These people still existed after their physical death. This is a further indication that physical death does not end our existence. We will live on after death, all of us.

The Second Death

There is a second death mentioned in the book of Revelation. If death were the end of existence, then why does the Bible speak of the second death of unbelievers?

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Revelation 2:11).

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

The idea of a second death for unbelievers is another indication that physical death is not the end of existence. A second death assumes there will be a “first death.” Therefore, there can be another death after physical death.

The Immortality of the Soul and Spirit

Nothing Can Separate Us from God

Finally, the Word of God says that nothing will separate the believer from the love of God, not even death.

In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul wrote (Romans 8:38-39, NLT):

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Nothing means nothing! Not even death! The believer cannot be separated from God. Not now, not ever. Nothing can keep us apart. Therefore, from the totality of Scripture, it is clear that the immaterial part of us, the spirit or soul, survives death.

Conclusion

While death may end our relationships and plans here upon the earth, it is not the end of us. Death is never seen as extinction, nonexistence, or annihilation. Indeed, it is always separation.

Therefore, physical death is the separation of the spirit or soul from the human body. The spirit or soul can never be destroyed. It will live on for all eternity. The body lies in the grave but the spirit lives on.

This is the message of Scripture from the first page to the last!


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Note: This article is an excerpt from the book “Living in the Light of Eternity” by Don Stewart.

In this first of a five-volume series, best-selling and award-winning author, Don Stewart, explains the all-important subjects of death, dying, and the afterlife in easy to understand language.

Don will answer such questions:

  • Why is there death and suffering?
  • What sin will keep people out of heaven?
  • What about claims of people who say they have died and gone to heaven or hell?
  • What hope does God’s Word give for the dead?
  • Burial or cremation?
  • What does the Bible say about suicide?
The 3 Offices of Christ

The 3 Offices of Christ

Most Christians are familiar with the 3 offices of Christ: prophet, priest, and king. But what’s the scriptural basis for this?

There are three major offices among the people of Israel in the Old Testament: the prophet, the priest, and the king. These three offices were distinct. The prophet spoke God’s words to the people; the priest offered sacrifices, prayers, and praises to God on behalf of the people; and the king ruled over the people as God’s representative.

The three offices foreshadowed Christ’s own work in different ways. As a prophet, He reveals God to us and speaks God’s word to us. As a priest, He both offers a sacrifice to God on our behalf and is Himself the sacrifice that is offered. And as a king, He rules over the church and over the universe as well.

Christ as Prophet

Moses, the author of the first five books of the Bible (Pentateuch), was the first major Old Testament prophet. After him was a succession of other prophets and wrote God’s words. But Moses predicted that sometime another prophet like himself would come (Deuteronomy 18:15-18).

But looking at the gospels we see that Jesus is not primarily viewed as a prophet or as the prophet like Moses. Often those who call Jesus a “prophet” know very little about Him. For instance, when Jesus asked His disciples what the people said He was (Matthew 16:14; Luke 9:8). Various opinions of Jesus were circulating: “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Moses the First OT Prophet
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When Jesus raised the son of the widow of Nain from the dead, the people were struck with fear. They said “A great prophet has risen up among us” (Luke 7:16). The Samaritan woman at the well said Jesus was a prophet when He told her something of her past life (John 4:19).

The man born blind who was healed at the temple said the same thing about Jesus (John 9:17). However, his belief in Jesus’ messiahship and deity did not come until John 9:37, after a subsequent conversation with Jesus. Therefore, “prophet” is no a primary designation of Jesus or one used by Him or about Him.

It is important to note that Jesus is never called a prophet or the prophet in the Epistles. Why did the New Testament epistles avoid calling Jesus a prophet? It’s because while Jesus is the prophet whom Moses predicted, He is far greater than any of the Old Testament prophets.

Jesus is Greater than Any Prophet

Jesus is the one about whom the Old Testament prophecies were made.

When Jesus spoke with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, He took them through the Old Testament, showing how the prophecies pointed to Him (Luke 24:25-27). 1 Peter 1:10-11 says the Old Testament prophets were “predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory.”

Thus, the Old Testament prophets looked forward to Christ in what they wrote. Meanwhile, the New Testament apostles looked back to Christ and interpreted His life for the benefit of the church.

Jesus was not merely a messenger of revelation from God like all other prophets but was Himself the source of revelation from God.

Notice that rather than saying, “Thus says the Lord,” as all the Old Testament prophets did, Jesus spoke with divine authority. He would say, “But I say to you…” (Matthew 5:22). The word of the Lord came to the Old Testament prophets, but Jesus spoke on His own authority as the eternal Word of God (John 1:1). Jesus perfectly revealed the Father to us (John 14:9; Hebrews 1:1-2).

In the broader sense of prophet, simply meaning one who reveals God to us and speaks to us the words of God, Christ is of course truly and fully a prophet.

Jesus Teaches with Authority

Christ as Priest

The Old Testament priests were appointed by God to offer sacrifices. They also offered prayers and praise to God on behalf of the people of God. In so doing they “sanctified the people or made them acceptable to come into God’s presence, but in a limited way.

In the New Testament Jesus becomes our great high priest. This theme is developed extensively in the letter to the Hebrews, where we find that Jesus functions as a priest in two ways.

1. Jesus Offered a Perfect Sacrifice for Sin.

The sacrifice which Jesus offered for sins was not the blood of animals such as bulls or goats (Hebrews 10:4). Instead, Jesus offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 9:26). This was a completed and final sacrifice, never to be repeated (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12, 24-28; 10:1-2, 10, 12, 14; 13:12).

Therefore, Jesus fulfilled all the expectations that were prefigured. Jesus was both the sacrifice and the priest who offered the sacrifice. Jesus is now the “great High Priest who has passed through the heavens” (Hebrews 4:14). He has appeared “appeared in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24) since He has offered a sacrifice that ended for all time the need for any further sacrifice.

2. Jesus Continually Brings Us Near to God.

The Old Testament priests offered sacrifices and came into the presence of God from time to time on behalf of the people.

But Jesus as our perfect high priest continually leads us into God’s presence. We no longer need a Jerusalem temple or a special priesthood to stand between us and God. Jesus has become our high priest forever (Hebrews 6:20). This means that we have a far greater privilege than those people who lived at the time of the Old Testament temple.

Jesus has opened for us the way of access to God. So, now we can continually “draw near” to God “with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:21-22).

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Jesus as Priest Continually Prays for Us

One other priestly function in the Old Testament was to pray on behalf of the people. The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus also fulfills this function (Hebrews 7:25). Paul affirms the same point when he says Christ is the one “who makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:34).

Both Paul and the author of Hebrews are saying that Jesus continually lives in the presence of God to intercede for us. The thought that Jesus is continually praying for us should give us great encouragement. He always prays for us according to the Father’s will so we can know that His requests will be granted.

Christ as King

In the Old Testament, the king has the authority to rule over the nation of Israel. In the New Testament, Jesus was born to be King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2). However, Jesus refused any attempt by people to make Him an earthly king with earthly military and political power (John 6:15).

Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Nonetheless, Jesus did have a kingdom whose arrival He announced in His preaching (Matthew 4:17, 23; 12:28). He is, in fact, the true king of the new people of God.

Thus, Jesus did not rebuke His disciples who cried out, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord” Luke 19:38). See also Matthew 21:5; John 1:49; Acts 17:7.

After Jesus’ resurrection, the Father gave Him far greater authority over the church and over the universe. God “raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places. He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church” (Ephesians 1:20-22). See also Matthew 28:18; 1 Corinthians 15:25.

Jesus’ authority over the church and over the universe will be more fully recognized by people when He returns to earth (Matthew 26:64; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Revelation 19:11-16). On that day people will acknowledge Him as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16) and every knee shall bow to Him (Philippians 2:10).

The Three-Fold Offices of Christ - King

Christians as Prophets, Priests, and Kings

As Christians, we are to imitate Christ in each of these three roles, though in a subordinate way.

We have a prophetic role as we proclaim the gospel to the world. Whenever we speak truthfully about God to others, we are fulfilling a “prophetic” function.

We are priests because Peter calls us “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). As such we are to “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). The author of Hebrews also views us priests who can enter into the holy of holies (Hebrews 10:19, 22).

We also share in part now in the kingly reign of Christ. God “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). God has even now committed to us authority over various areas in this world or the church.

When Christ returns to rule and reign as King, we will once again be true prophets because our knowledge will then be perfect. Then we will speak only the truth about God and His world. We will be priests forever for we will eternally worship and offer prayer to God as we dwell in His presence. We will also in subjection share in ruling the universe (Revelation 22:5).

Conclusion

When Christ came, we saw for the first time the fulfillment of these three roles. As the perfect prophet, He fully declared God’s words to us. Jesus as the perfect high priest offered the supreme sacrifice for sins and brought us near to God. As the true and rightful king of the universe, Jesus will reign forever with a scepter of righteousness over the new heavens and new earth.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Reference: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Recommended Resource: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus: How the Sacrifice of Jesus Saves the World from Sin by J. D. Meyers

Do you have difficulties reconciling God’s behavior in the Old Testament with that of Jesus in the New?

Do you find yourself trying to rationalize God’s violent demeanor in the Bible to unbelievers or even to yourself?

Does it seem disconcerting that God tells us not to kill others but He then takes part in some of the bloodiest wars and vindictive genocides in history?

In Nothing but the Blood of Jesus, J. D. Myers shows how the death of Jesus on the cross reveals the truth about the five concepts of sin, law, sacrifice, scapegoating, and bloodshed. After carefully defining each, this book shows how these definitions provide clarity on numerous biblical texts.

Is Suffering God’s Judgment?

Is Suffering God’s Judgment?

We often hear people say that suffering is a result of God’s judgment. Who is not familiar with the Great Flood in Genesis 7? We read how God was grieved when He saw the extent of human wickedness on the earth. So, God decided to destroy every living thing that He has created (Genesis 6:5-7).

Can we then conclude that the sufferings people are going through are God’s punishment upon them? Doesn’t the Bible tell us that God is love (1 John 4:8)? That God’s love caused Him to sacrifice His only Son on the cross to save us (John 3:16)?

Yes; God is love but He is also just and righteous (Psalm 89:14).

God Heals a Man Born Blind

In John chapter 9, we read the story of a man who has been blind since birth. As they passed by where the man was, Jesus’ disciples asked Him “whose fault is it that he was born blind” (John 1:2).

Instead of seeing the man as an object of mercy, the disciples saw him as a subject for a theological discussion. The disciples had been trained as young men in the Mosaic law. They learned that “God does not leave the guilty unpunished” (Exodus 34:7, NIV). That “God punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

The Healing of the Man Born Blind

Note: Some ancient rabbinic writings also speculated on the possibility of sinning in the womb or a preexistent state.

The disciples were sure that the man’s congenital blindness was caused by sin, either his own or his parents. But Jesus disagreed with them (John 9:3).

The Consequences of Sin

Adam’s disobedience brought sin and death into the world (Romans 5:12).

Adam and Eve sinned, and their offspring grew increasingly wicked and rebellious (Genesis 4:1-24). David committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged the death of her husband (2 Samuel 11). David’s children grew up to cause him continual distress through their violence and selfishness.

Only in rare cases, after God’s longsuffering and mercy have been exhausted did He punish His sinful people. We read in 1 Samuel 2:12-36 how God dealt with the family of Eli. Also, God sent Judah and Israel into captivity (Hosea 11:1-8; Jeremiah 25:1-11) because of their idolatry and disobedience.

In the final analysis, all physical problems and human sufferings are the results of our fall in Adam. The consequences of sin that come upon sinners and their descendants are usually natural consequences rather than God’s divine judgment.

So, to blame a specific disability on a specific sin committed by a specific person is beyond any man’s authority. Only God knows why babies are born handicapped. And only God can turn them into something that will bring good to people and glory to His name.

God brought about suffering in the life of the blind man to reveal God’s work in him (John 9:3). This also happened so that he might become a blessing to the disciples and a blessing to those who would read John’s gospel.

The Consequence of Sin

Does God Carry Grudges?

The concern of the disciples about the man born blind sounds more like the superstitious fear of many in the world.

They think that God holds a grudge against them because they have offended Him in some way. They feel guilty for not acknowledging or confessing their sins. This often distorts their perception of God’s attitude toward them. And they expect Him to bring judgment into their lives at any moment.

Repentance, confession, and acceptance of God’s forgiveness are important ingredients for spiritual peace and good mental health. Inner turmoil caused by a guilty conscience can cause all sorts of fears about divine punishment.

God carries no grudges. If there should be a situation in which God needs to correct our life through suffering, He will let us know. God disciplines us as a godly father disciplines a child. Never will our heavenly Father corrects us vindictively. Rather, He does it in a kindly fashion (Hebrews 12:5-11).

God’s Intent for Suffering

Trials and sufferings are part of life and Christians are not exempt. Some might have expected life to be easy and smooth sailing after becoming followers of Christ. But such is not the case; it’s going to be a battle all the way!

Dealing with the trials of life is never easy. But knowing the promises of God’s love in His Word enables us to experience inner peace and joy.

Suffering is painful and perplexing but we know that God has a purpose for allowing us to experience them. God uses suffering for our spiritual development.

Final Thoughts

When we see other Christians suffering, it is never our place to presume God’s intent for them. There might be instances when people suffer as a consequence of their actions. But oftentimes in the Bible God uses sufferings to enact tremendous good rather than to punish.

God has an infinite capacity to effect goodness amid our pain and difficulty. We see this principle in the life of Joseph, Job, and of course, the Lord Jesus Himself.

Let us love and comfort our fellowmen in their suffering and trust that God will work all things out for their good (Romans 8:28).


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Recommended Resource: If God Is Good: Why Do We Hurt? by Randy Alcorn

Out of the deepest hurts of the human condition, Randy Alcorn brings into clear focus our most pressing questions about evil and suffering—including those that wrench our souls when we or someone we love is victimized by evil or assaulted by disease.

He faces these questions with seasoned sensitivity, skillful insight, and a heart of compassion. He dodges none of the difficulties, and never lapses into platitudes, hand-wringing, or oversimplification.

On this troubling but inescapable topic, you’ll find frank acknowledgment of the inherent limitations that set humanity apart from the God who has none. There’s also generous, real encouragement that brings God nearer in our understanding when we need His comfort the most.

And amid our heavy doubts and swirling confusion on this topic, Randy Alcorn points us ultimately toward Jesus as “the only answer bigger than the questions.”

Recognizing a True Church

Recognizing a True Church

There are true and false churches. How do we recognize a true church? But what makes a church true or false? Is it possible that a group of people who claim to be Christians does not exhibit the qualities of a true church?

In the early centuries of the Christian church, the idea of a false church is unpopular. There was only one worldwide church, the “visible” church throughout the world, and that was, of course, the true church. This church had bishops and local clergymen and church buildings that everyone could see. Any heretics who were found to be in serious doctrinal error were simply excluded from the church.

What is the church?

The church is the community of all true believers for all time. It is made up of all those who are truly saved. Paul says this in Ephesians 5:25, “… Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

The term “the church” here is applied to all those whom Christ died to redeem, all those who are saved by the death of Christ. They include all true believers for all time, both believers in the New Testament age and believers in the Old Testament age as well.

How to Recognize a True Church
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Metaphors for the Church

Scripture uses a wide range of metaphors and images to describe to us what the church is like. In several passages, Paul views the church as a family (1 Timothy 5:1-2; Ephesians 3:14; 2 Corinthians 6:18). We are therefore brothers and sisters with each other in God’s family (Matthew 12:49-50; 1 John 3:14-18).

A somewhat different family metaphor is seen when Paul refers to the church as the bride of Christ. He says that the relationship between a husband and wife “refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). He goes further to say that it resembles an engagement between a bride and her husband-to-be (2 Corinthians 11:2).

The Bible uses other metaphors for the church such as:

  • Branches on a vine (John 15:5)
  • A building (1 Corinthians 3:9)
  • A field of crops (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)
  • An olive tree (Romans 11:17-24
  • A harvest (Matthew 13:1-30; John 4:35)

The church is also viewed as a new temple not built with literal stones but built with Christian people who are “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5) built upon the “cornerstone” who is Christ Jesus (1 Peter 2:4–8).

We are also viewed as God’s house (Hebrews 3:6), with Jesus Christ Himself viewed as the “builder” of the house (Hebrews 3:3). The church is also viewed as “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Finally, the church is viewed as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

Each of the metaphors used for the church can help us to appreciate more of the richness of privilege that God has given us by incorporating us into the church.

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The Marks of a True Church

At the Reformation, a crucial question came up: How can we recognize a true church? Is the Roman Catholic Church a true church or not? To answer that question, people had to decide what were the “marks” of a true church. What are the distinguishing characteristics that lead us to recognize it as a true church?

The Bible does speak of false churches. Paul says of the pagan temples in Corinth, “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God” (1 Corinthians 10:20). He tells the Corinthians, “You were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols” (1 Corinthians 12:2).

These pagan temples were certainly false churches or false religious assemblies.

What constitutes a true church?

1. The Word of God is Rightly Taught

In large measure, there was an agreement between Luther and Calvin on the question of what constituted a true church.

In the Lutheran statement of faith, they defined the church as “the congregation of saints in which the gospel is rightly taught.” Similarly, John Calvin said, “Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, it is not to be doubted, a church of God exists.”

It seems appropriate that we take Luther and Calvin’s view on the marks of a true church as correct still today. Certainly, if the Word of God is not being preached, but simply false doctrines or doctrines of men, then there is no true church.

Preach the Word

2. The Right Administration of the Sacraments

This was probably stated in opposition to the Roman Catholic view that saving grace came through the sacraments. Thus, the sacraments were made “works” by which we earned merit for salvation. In this way, the Roman Catholic Church was insisting on payment rather than teaching faith as the means of obtaining salvation.

There are two ordinances of the church: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. An organization that practices baptism and the Lord’s Supper is a continuing organization and is attempting to function as a church. But it is not merely about instituting these sacraments; it’s more about administering them the “right way.”

Groups who do not administer baptism and the Lord’s Supper signify that they are not intending to function as a church.

True and False Churches Today

People often ask, “Is the Roman Catholic today a true church?”

We cannot simply decide for the Roman Catholic Church as a whole because it is far too diverse. Some Roman Catholic parishes certainly lack both marks. And some view participation in the sacraments as a “work” that can earn merit with God. Such groups of people are not the true Christian church.

On the other hand, there are many Roman Catholic parishes in various parts of the world today where the local priest has a genuine saving knowledge of Christ. They also have a vital personal relationship with Christ in prayer and Bible study.

JW's and Mormons: Are they False Churches?

What about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

We might have difficulty determining just how much wrong doctrines can be tolerated before a church can no longer be considered a true church. But there are many clear cases where we can say that a true church does not exist.

The Mormon church does not hold to any major Christian doctrines concerning salvation or the person of God or the person and work of Christ. Clearly, it is a false church.

Similarly, the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach salvation by works, not by trusting in Jesus Christ alone. This is a fundamental doctrinal deviation because if people believe the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they simply will not be saved. So the Jehovah’s Witnesses also must be considered a false church.

Bottom Line

When the preaching of a church conceals the gospel message of salvation by faith alone from its members so that the gospel message is not proclaimed, the group meeting there is not a church. When a group does not administer baptism and the Lord’s supper the right way, they are not a true church.

We can distinguish between a true and false church by using the Word of God. A true church has Christ not only as its foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11) but also the cornerstone of that foundation (1 Peter 2:7). One last thing, the true church governs itself by the authority of the Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Are you in a true church?


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Reference Material: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Recommended Resource: Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith by Wayne Grudem and Jeff Purswell.

Bible Doctrine takes a highly commended upper-level textbook on systematic theology and makes it accessible to the average reader. Abridged from Wayne Grudem’s award-winning Systematic Theology, Bible Doctrine covers the same essentials of the faith, giving you a firm grasp on seven key topics:

  • The Doctrine of the Word of God
  • The Doctrine of God
  • The Doctrine of Man
  • The Doctrine of Christ
  • The Doctrine of the Application of Redemption
  • The Doctrine of the Church
  • The Doctrine of the Future

Like Systematic Theology, this book is marked by its clarity, its strong scriptural emphasis, its thoroughness in scope and detail, and its treatment of such timely topics as spiritual warfare and the gifts of the Spirit.

But you don’t need to have had several years of Bible school to reap the full benefits of Bible Doctrine. It’s easy to understand–and it’s packed with solid, biblical answers to your most important questions.

What Nature Says About God

What Nature Says About God

One of the best arguments for the existence of God is the existence of creation. When people say, “Give me concrete evidence that God exists.” Just politely respond, “You simply have to look at nature and you’ll know that God exists.”

Paul told the Athenians on the Aeropagus that God had arranged the world so that people “should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).

Bible Verse: Psalm 19:1

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.”

The Creation Bears Evidence

“The heavens declare the glory of God” to every person every day and even to those who have never heard a preacher or read a Bible. Have you ever gazed into the heavens and felt the presence of God? Have you ever scanned the skies? Or watched the stars glitter like an ocean of diamonds sprinkled against the velvet blackness of God’s infinite canopy?

Long before the gospel was written in sacred Scriptures, it was written in the sky dotted by dazzling stars. It was highlighted by the blazing sun and the gentle glow of the moon. The power, presence, and personality of God are evident in all His creation.

What Nature Says About God

Although “the fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ (Psalm 14:1), yet all creation says that anyone who can see the sky can know of God.

Paul wrote in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”

God in the Highest Heavens

The “heavens” is plural because we know there are three. One is the heaven we see with our eyes. The second is the heaven where Satan has his throne. He was there talking to God about Job (Job 1:6-12). Also, Paul says that we wrestle “against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

The third heaven is where God has His throne. From there, He looks down on Satan, reminding him that time is limited and he will soon be thrown into the lake of fire forever (Revelation 20:10-15).

In the Bible, God uses His creation (nature) to teach and explain. He told Abraham to look toward heaven and count the stars if he was able. The stars represented the promised descendants (Genesis 22:17. The moon and the sun witness His faithfulness to the covenant He has made with Israel (Psalm 89:34-37).

He led the wise men from the East by a star (Matthew 2:2). God uses the stars to declare the glory He gives to soul-winners (Daniel 12:3). The Lord will also use the sun, moon, and stars to announce the Second Coming of Christ, and because of His promises, I follow the “Bright and Morning star” (Revelation 22:16).

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Living in a Glorious World

The world around us is like a mystery novel. God made it and scattered clues about Himself around it. Unlike the villains of murder mysteries, God is a good character who wants to be found.

The beauty of the heavens and the stars speaks eloquently every night of God’s infinitely varied and intelligent design (Psalm 19:1-4). The grandeur of the mountains tells of His power (Psalm 121:1); the endless sweep and motion of the oceans hint of the infinite, timeless character of God (Job 38:16; Psalm 33:7; 89:9).

The wide variety of plant and animal life God created suggests that He cares about living things (Job 39:1-30) and shows His power to meet their needs (Luke 12:6-7, 24).

The more people study the marvelous order and complexity of God’s creation, the more they glimpse about Him (Romans 1:20).

How Great Thou Art

One evening during a thunderstorm, as Stuart Hine walked through a forest observing God’s power and majesty all around him he was inspired to write the song “How Great Thou Art.”

When we look to the heavens let us sing, “O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee: How great Thou art, how great Thou art.”

Seeking God Beyond Measure

When we read the “book of nature” we can grasp certain things about the power, majesty, and glory of God. But we are left guessing about His personality and His attitudes toward us.

“The book of nature” should leave us wanting a second “book” that speaks more directly about God.

Psalm 19, which begins extolling the general revelation of the heavens, ends up praising the perfection of the special revelation found in the Bible. The heavens may let us “touch the face of God,” but it takes God’s written Word to tell us what kind of Person wears that face and how we can have a love relationship with Him.

Final Words

The existence of creation implied the existence of a Creator. The nature of the creation implied that He was wise enough to plan it and powerful enough to execute His plan and maintain what He had made.

So complex a universe demands a Creator who can do anything, who knows everything, and who is present everywhere.


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Recommended Resource: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman L Geisler and Frank Turek

To some, the concept of having faith in a higher power or a set of religious beliefs is nonsensical. Indeed, many view religion in general, and Christianity in particular, as unfounded and unreasonable. 

Norman Geisler and Frank Turek argue, however, that Christianity is not only more reasonable than all other belief systems, but is indeed more rational than unbelief itself.

With conviction and clear thinking, Geisler and Turek guide readers through some of the traditional, tested arguments for the existence of a creator God. They move into an examination of the source of morality and the reliability of the New Testament accounts concerning Jesus.

The final section of the book deals with a detailed investigation of the claims of Christ. This volume will be an interesting read for those skeptical about Christianity, as well as a helpful resource for Christians seeking to articulate a more sophisticated defense of their faith. 

How to Dwell in the House of the Lord

How to Dwell in the House of the Lord

No person can claim to be a Christian and say attending church is not necessary. Every follower of Christ goes to the house of the Lord at least once a week for fellowship. We go to church not only to meet with fellow believers but more importantly, with God.

Bible Verse: Psalm 27:4 (NKJV)

“One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.”

Learning from David

King David had been on the run, not just once but several times. It was during those times that he wrote most of the hymns and poems we read in the book of Psalm.

But what made David feel safe and secure despite the circumstances he was facing? The secret of David’s public confidence was his private obedience to God. He took time to fellowship with the Lord and get directions from Him.

David knew that the most important part of his life was the part that only God could see, and this was one priority he would not negotiate.

Longing to be with God

Being in God’s house on Sunday is refreshing. Entering the place where other believers have come to worship and sing praises renews our spiritual walk. It also refocuses our thoughts on God.

But we do not have to be in a {church} building to dwell in worship with the Lord. Psalm 84:2 addresses dwelling with God anytime, anywhere. In this verse, the psalmist says that his “soul longs for the courts of the Lord.”

Longing to be with God

David longed to build a temple for the Lord to dwell in, but for some reason, God allowed Solomon to build it. God promised to dwell with the people of Israel if they would keep His laws.

After Solomon prepared the temple with a special place of the ark of the covenant, the ark was placed inside. And the Shekinah glory of God filled the temple and the priests could not continue with the service (1 Kings 6–8).

“I have surely built You an exalted house; and a place for You to dwell in forever” (1 Kings 8:13).

How to Seek God’s Presence

To experience God’s presence, we need to seek Him and His will all the time.

“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 13).

We can talk to God anytime – in church, in prayer, and in the Word. If we seek Him, we will find Him. God also promised to give us the strength necessary to get through troubled times (Psalm 84:5). When our life hits a dry spot, God will “make it a spring” (Psalm 84:6).

There is a special blessing and protection for anyone who earnestly seeks God. It may not be a promise to prevent all trouble, but to give security and blessing even in the midst of it.

Beholding God’s Beauty

There is beauty in the nature and presence of God; David knows this very well. He says we can perceive God’s beauty by faithfully seeking Him. King David could not think of a greater occupation than to fill his mind and heart with the goodness and greatness of God.

As Charles Spurgeon said, “The character of God is attractive, and fitted to inspire us with love for Him, and to make us, as it were, run after Him.”

Don Stewart also says this of the beauty of God:

“The beauty of the Lord can be defined as God possessing everything in His character that is desirable. Everything good and righteous has its ultimate fulfillment in God.”

A Doorkeeper in God’s House

In Psalm 84:10, the psalmist made no apologies. He wrote, “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”

In effect, he told Satan that he was not interested in serving him. The doorkeeper was a lowly servant, but even this position in God’s house would be a place of honor.

The writer of Psalms 84 calls God a “sun and shield” (Psalm 84:11). The sun warms and causes fields to grow, and the shield protects. God is the great Provider and Protector. He promises to bless those who trust in Him, withholding “no good thing” (Psalm 84:11-12).

We are God’s Dwelling Place

With the birth of Jesus, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory” (John 1:14). Jesus promised to prepare a dwelling place for us with the Lord.

“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” (John 14:2).

For us to go there, we must have Jesus dwelling in our hearts. We read in 1 John 14:15, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

Don’t just dwell with God on a Sunday morning or Wednesday night pilgrimage. Seek His presence every day through prayer and Bible study. Find the time to celebrate the joy of being a Christian. Let the Savior know how thankful you are for what He has done for you.

Closing Words

Does Jesus dwell in your heart? When was the last time you longed to dwell with the Lord? Are you willing to be a doorkeeper?

May we have a heart like David’s; a heart that always seeks after God above anyone or anything else. When we delight ourselves in God, He promises to give us the desire of our hearts (Psalm 37:7).

This desire will be the Lord Himself.


Recommended Resource:

Adoring Christ: Beholding God’s Beauty and Becoming Like Him by Kori de Leon

Adoring Christ and becoming like Him is the most fundamental and crucial aspect of human life. We long for love, beauty, power, security, and fame because these things describe God, who is majestic and beautiful. And He has designed humanity in His image to participate in His glorious likeness.

In Adoring Christ: Beholding God’s Beauty and Becoming Like Him, author Kori de Leon discusses how adoring Christ sets our hearts free from self-focus and pursuing glory in the wrong way so we can see the grandeur of God and participate in His glory the right way.

Covering a wide range of topics like loveliness, dignity, and spiritual vitality this book specifically geared for women concludes each of its twelve chapters with a section designed to help readers actively engage with the truths presented in the book.

Glory is God’s design for mankind. Together with the Bible, this book will encourage you to get lost in the wonder of God and His character as you enter into an adoration that will lead you to glorious transformation.

God’s Promise of Comfort

God’s Promise of Comfort

The theme of Isaiah chapter 40 is God’s promise of comfort for His people. As the Jewish remnants were about to leave Babylon, Isaiah announces God’s future blessings for them.

The Jews were few in number and were facing a long and difficult journey. What kind of future awaits them? Will they be able to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple?

As the remnant in Babylon looked back, they saw failure and sin, and they needed encouragement. And so, God gave them His message in four voices with a special message.

The Voice of Pardon

“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” says your God. “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned. For she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins” (Isaiah 40:1-2).

The nation of Israel had sinned greatly with their idolatry, injustice, immorality, and insensitivity to His messengers. And at the moment Isaiah spoke this, Jerusalem was well aware of her sin. Isaiah made her aware of it.

God's Promise of Comfort
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Yet, the prophet declared that “her iniquity is pardoned.” This is real comfort! Their sinfulness did not stop them from being God’s people. God still loved them. Though He would chasten them, He would not forsake them.

Some Christians today believe that God has already forsaken the Jews because they have rejected Christ as Messiah. But anyone who knows the Bible pretty well should know that God keeps His promises. God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham and will never break it.

The Voice of Providence

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low. The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth. The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 40:3-5).

As the Jews head back to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, they can only imagine the challenges that await them. But the Lord promised He would go before them to open the way.

The picture here is of an ambassador repairing the roads and removing obstacles, preparing the way for the coming of a king. God would remove every obstacle before them so they can travel with ease.


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Recommended Resource:

The God of Comfort: 100 Bible Verses to Soothe Your Spirit

Are you filled with worry? Does anxiety interfere with your joy? God knew His people would suffer from anxiety even though He warned us not to worry. The God of Comfort is another soothing reminder for your spirit. Inside you’ll find Scripture and reflections that will guide, support, and assure you that God is with you through every trial.

Each of the 100 Bible verses includes a:

  • supportive reflection
  • simple prayer inspired by the Bible verse
  • minimalistic designed interior which is great for men and women

This beautiful book is chock-full of rich insight on everything from trusting the Lord, to bringing your troubles to Him in prayer, to finding refreshment for your soul.

The God of Comfort is:

  • a great self-purchase to help you work through your own anxiety and worries
  • a thoughtful gift for a friend who is going through a challenging time
  • a meaningful gift for an essential worker, teacher, or co-worker

How does this apply to Christians today? Building a road is much like the kind of preparation that God must do in our hearts. It’s expensive in the sense that accomplishing it would require an expert engineer (God) to deal with the problems that need to be fixed.

We need to understand that the glory of God is not only revealed to Jerusalem or Judah. God reveals His glory to every heart that is prepared as described in Isaiah 40:5. We can be assured of this because it’s the mouth of the LORD that said it.

The Voice of Promise

The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, because the breath of the LORD blows upon it. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:6-8).

Isaiah must be thinking of the beautiful green grass covering the hills of Judah after the winter rains. And then how quickly the grass dies and the hills end up brown and barren.

“People are like grass.” They are frail and weak. Even man’s beauty is fleeting and passes as quickly as wildflowers. In the same way, the nations of Assyria and Babylon have come and gone. Like the grass, nations and their leaders fulfill their purpose and then fade away. But the Word of God abides forever (Psalm 37:1-2; 90:1-6; 103:15-18).

Men are like grass

As the Jewish remnants begin their journey home, they could depend on God’s promises. Perhaps they were especially claiming 2 Chronicles 6:36-39).

Peter makes a beautiful application of this passage in 1 Peter 1:22-25 as he gives a stirring call for love among Christians. Since the Word of God is eternal, we are both obliged and able to sincerely love one another. In need of more love for others? It begins with having more of the incorruptible seed set in our hearts and allow it to grow.

The Voice of Peace

O Zion, You who bring good tidings, get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings. Lift up your voice with strength, lift it up, be not afraid. Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord GOD shall come with a strong hand. And His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm. And carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young (Isaiah 40:9-11).

Isaiah speaks of a message so great (good tidings) that must spread as quickly and widely as possible. The message had to be shouted out, so the messenger is told to lift up his voice with strength. The messenger had good news to shout. The good news on that day was the defeat of Babylon and the release of the Jewish captives (Isaiah 52:7-9).

Today, the good news that needs to be shouted out is the defeat of sin and Satan by Jesus Christ. We invite people to accept the gift of salvation that God freely gives to all who will trust in Christ (Isaiah 61:1-13; Luke 4:18-19).

Some scholars say this invitation to “behold your God” speaks of a study and a long-term mission to know the greatness and the character of God. Nothing is far greater than for a follower of Jesus to study and know their God.

Another aspect of our God to behold is the fact of His return. The Lord will return to earth to rule and reign. Maranatha, come, Lord Jesus!

Closing Thoughts

What a comfort to know that we are never alone, both in our joys and struggles. God spoke to the Jewish remnants in four voices with a special message for them through the prophet Isaiah.

In the same way, God speaks to us through His Word (the Bible) to give us His message of forgiveness, providence, promise, and peace. We can rest in God’s promise of comfort because He is faithful.

The Rapture Mystery Revealed

The Rapture Mystery Revealed

The Rapture of the church was a mystery in the Old Testament but was revealed to the apostle Paul. It is the next event in God’s prophetic program. Israel is reborn and Jerusalem is no longer controlled by the Gentiles. The federated states of Europe are coming together and will soon present the Antichrist to the world.

If you listen closely, you can hear the thundering hoofbeats of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse racing toward the Battle of Armageddon.

The Dead Will Rise

The resurrection of the dead is an Old Testament concept. Job writes, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26).

Isaiah also writes, “Your dead shall live, together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead” (Isaiah 26:19).

Furthermore, we read this in Daniel 12:2, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

Resurrection of the Dead

The Two Resurrections

Daniel is saying in the above-mentioned verse that there are two resurrections: the resurrection of the just, and that of the unjust.

Jesus taught the same truth saying, “Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).

The resurrection of the just is in three waves. The first was at Calvary when the dead rose from their graves when Jesus was crucified (Matthew 27:50-53). The second wave will be the Rapture of the church before the Tribulation (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52). The third wave will be at the end of the Tribulation and will consist of Old Testament saints and Tribulation saints.

Note: Tribulation saints are those who were saved during the Tribulation and were beheaded by the Antichrist.

The resurrection of the unjust occurs at the Great White Throne Judgment at the end of the Millennial Reign of Christ.

The Mystery Revealed

Jesus promised “I go to prepare a place for you and come again to receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). Jesus gives His followers His guarantee that they will be together again after His death.

Some scholars believe that the mystery of the rapture was revealed to Paul while he was in Arabia (Galatians 1:15-17). He writes in 1 Corinthians 15:51, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall n0t all sleep, but we shall all be changed.”

When the word mystery is used in the Bible, it does not refer to something mysterious or difficult to understand. Rather, it refers to something that God has never revealed to man before. The “mystery” revealed is that of the Rapture.

Paul says that when this happens, “the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

Victors in Christ

“At the last trumpet” is a phrase that has reference to that moment in time when God will close the dispensation of grace. It will be that moment in time when the last soul has been saved and has been baptized in water. It will be when the gospel has been preached to the ends of the earth (Matthew 24:14).

The apostle Paul then continues by saying, “We shall be changed.” This means that our physical body shall be changed into an incorruptible, supernatural body of absolute perfection. In God’s tomorrow, no tone physical body will have the slightest, physical defect.

Hallelujah, even so, come, Lord Jesus!

In the Thessalonian church, some believers became concerned that their loved ones who had died would miss the rapture. Others were worried that they would miss some benefits of the Rapture or would have an inferior place in glory.

Thus, Paul writes, “if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” (See 1 Thessalonians 4:14.) These words of comfort assure us that not a single believer will be left in the grave when Jesus comes. Since He is Victor over death, hell, and grave, believers are victors with Him.

Christ Descends, Christians Ascend

Paul concludes the teaching on the Rapture by saying, “For the Lord, Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up with then in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

The “shout” here is the word used by a military commander giving a direct order. It is the command of the Lord Jesus Christ for the grave to surrender the bodies of the redeemed. The phrase “the voice of an archangel” is used because angels are God’s messengers and those who execute His will.

The phrase “the trumpet of God” is to announce the appearance of royalty. Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Paul confirms that both the dead in Christ and the living will be instantaneously raptured together in the clouds to meet the Lord. It is not a temporary relationship – it is forever.

Our relationship is eternal in mansions of splendor created by the Architect of the ages for those who love Him.

Concluding Words

The Word of God is clear that every man is appointed to die once and faces judgment afterward (Hebrews 9:27). However, Paul taught, by the revelation of the Rapture mystery, that not all believers will die (fall asleep).

At the coming of the Lord for the church, there will be Christians who are alive at that time. When the last trumpet sounds, they will be “caught up” alive along with the “dead in Christ.”

The bodies of believers who had died (physically) will be rejoined with their spirit. But those who are alive will not die; their bodies will be changed into incorruptible bodies.

On a gravestone in London for a man named Solomon Peas reads:

Revealing the Mystery of the Rapture

This epitaph captures the truth of physical for a believer. The “peas” shell out and go to God, while the “pod” stays behind and is buried.

Do you long for the Lord’s appearing (2 Timothy 4:8)? Are you living soberly, righteously, and godly while waiting for the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior (Titus 2:12-13)?

Are you rapture-ready?


References:

  1. NKJV Prophecy Study Bible (General Editor: John Hagee)
  2. The End, A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Mark Hitchcock

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

What is the Millennial Reign?

What is the Millennial Reign?

Do you often wonder what it would be like to have a great society? A paradise on earth? A return to the Garden of Eden? The Bible tells us that this will happen during the millennial reign of Christ.

When the Lord Jesus returns to this earth, Scriptures tell us that the next great event, the culmination of history, is the one-thousand-year reign of Jesus on earth. The Lord will rule as King of kings and Lord of lords. During this time, the world will flourish under the rule of the Prince of Peace.

Immediately after Christ returns to destroy the Antichrist and his armies (Revelation 19:11-21), Satan is bound and Christ reigns for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-6). The words a thousand years appear six times in Revelation 20:1-7).

Ten Key Texts on the Millennium

While Revelation 20:1-6 is the only Bible passage that records the length of Christ’s reign on the earth, it is certainly not the only passage that refers to the Messianic kingdom. The Old Testament has large passages on the millennium. More prophetic material is devoted to the subject of the millennial kingdom than any other topic.

Therefore, we must gain at least a basic understanding of this subject. Here is a list of ten of the most important Old Testament passages on the coming kingdom.

Ten Key OT Texts on the Millennium

7 Key Titles of the Millennium

The title for an event helps shed light on its nature.

A title summarizes in a word or brief phrase the essence of the event. God has given us several key biblical titles that capture the essence of the coming messianic kingdom.

Titles Reference Scriptures
1. The Kingdom of Heaven Matthew 3:2; 8:11
2. The Kingdom of God Mark 1:15
3. The Kingdom Matthew 16:28
4. The World to Come Hebrews 2:5
5. Times of Refreshing Acts 3:19 (NASB)
6. The Period of Restoration of All things Acts 3:21
7. A Kingdom that Cannot be Shaken Hebrews 12:28

The Purpose of the Millennium

Why will there be a literal, earthly millennium? What purposes will it fulfill? Why is it necessary?

The Millennium will serve at least three important functions in the plan of God.

1. To Reward the Faithful

The first reason we need the Millennium is so God can reward the faithful. He will do this by giving them authority to reign over the earth.

When Jesus returns to this earth, He will bring His saints with Him (Jude 1:14; Revelation 19:14). After He defeats the armies of the Antichrist at Armageddon and judges the nations, He will establish His Kingdom on the earth.

Although worship and service are the main activities, the Word of God emphasizes our ruling and reigning with Christ. Scripture tells us that believers from every age will reign with Christ for a thousand years.

See Daniel 7:18, 22, 27; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3; Revelation 2:26-28; Revelation 20:4, 6.

What an exciting prospect! We will rule the nations with Christ for a thousand years on earth. We will even judge the angels.

2. To Redeem Creation

The second reason we need the Millennium is so God can finally reverse His curse on creation and fulfill His original purpose for the earth.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God pronounced a series of curses. These curses were given against the serpent (Satan), the woman, man, and nature (Genesis 3:14-19). From that time until today, the earth has been cursed, as evidenced by “thorns and thistles.”

Man must work hard and endure to harvest food from the ground.

During the millennial kingdom, all animals will revert to being plant-eaters as they were originally in Creation (Genesis 1:30). A child will be able to play next to a poisonous snake (Isaiah 11:6-9).

Also, the entire earth will become amazingly productive and beautiful as even the desserts will bloom like a rose. The whole earth will be like a huge Garden of Eden. God’s original purpose was to bring all things under the dominion of humankind and to submit all things to Himself through human beings. (See Genesis 1:26-27.)

In the Millennium, God will fulfill His original purpose for humanity and His glorious creation.

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3. To Realize the Biblical Covenants

The third reason we need the Millennium is to fulfill the biblical covenants.

In these covenants, God made very specific promises to Israel. These covenants include the Abrahamic Covenant, the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant. So far, only the first covenant has been literally fulfilled.

But Jesus, the Son of David, will fulfill them when He comes to sit on the throne of David. The King of kings will rule over the house of David from the city of David, which is Jerusalem.

God will fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant and its promise of the land. If God literally fulfilled His promise to bless Abraham with many descendants, it is logical to conclude that the land promise will also be literally fulfilled.

During the millennium, God will fulfill the remaining three covenants. In short, without a literal millennial reign of Christ, these covenants remain incomplete and unfulfilled.

A Sneak Peek at the Millennium

We live in a fallen world. It is often ugly and depressing. Everywhere we turn we find tragedy and heartache. Our world seems to be sitting on the verge of disaster. Thus, we might be tempted to wonder if God really cares about this world.

But the promise of the Millennium is God’s sign that this is not an abandoned world. Jesus is coming someday to restore paradise on earth.

What will the millennium be like? During the one-thousand-year reign of Christ, the earth will experience a return to the conditions like the Garden of Eden.

Here are ten prominent conditions that will prevail on the earth during the messianic kingdom

Peace

All wars will cease as the world unites under the reign of the true King (Isaiah 2:4; 9:4-7; 11:6-9; Zechariah 9:10)

We might call this one thousand years the Pax Messiah – the messianic peace.

Joy

The song “Joy to the World” by Isaac Watts was written to anticipate the glorious second coming of Christ to rule and reign on this earth.

Think of some of the words of this song: “Joy to the world! The Lord is come; Let earth receive her king … No more let sins and sorrows grow … He rules the world with truth and grace …”

This is a song of the Millennium – when full joy will come to the world. See Isaiah 9:3-4; 12:3-6; 14:7-8; 25:8-9; 30:29; 42:1. Also in Jeremiah 30:18-19; Zephaniah 3:14-17; Zechariah 8:19; 10:6-7.

Holiness

The word holy means to be “set apart” to God for sacred purposes. The Kingdom of Christ will be a holy kingdom. Everything in it will be set apart to God for His use.

The holiness of the Lord will be manifest in His own person as well as in the citizens of His kingdom. The land, the city, the Temple, and the subjects will all be holy unto the Lord.

See Isaiah 4:3-4; 29:19; 35:8; 52:1; Ezekiel 43:7-12; 45:1; Zechariah 8:3; 14:20-21.

Glory

The radiant glory of God will be fully manifest in Messiah’s kingdom. See Isaiah 35:2; 40:5; 60:1-9; Ezekiel 43:1-5. His glory will fill the earth.

Justice or Righteousness

When the millennial kingdom begins, it will be inhabited only by believers.

However, these believers will still have human bodies with fallen natures capable of sinning. They will have children who are also still in their mortal flesh. The reigning Messiah will judge man’s sin with perfect justice. See Isaiah 9:7; 11:5; 32:16; 42:1-4; 65:21-23.

The King of kings will rule with a “rod of iron” restraining and judging sin so that the prevailing atmosphere in the kingdom will be righteousness. See Isaiah 11:1-5; 60:21; Jeremiah 31:23; Ezekiel 37:23-24; Zephaniah 3:1, 13.

Full Knowledge

The teaching ministry of the Lord and the indwelling Spirit will bring the inhabitants of the kingdom into full knowledge of the Lord’s ways.

See Isaiah 11:1-2, 9; 41:19-20; 54:13; Jeremiah 31:33-34; Habakkuk 2:14.

Absence of Sickness and Deformity

Politicians are constantly working on plans to provide better healthcare for their citizens. In the Lord’s government, the health plan will be out of this world.

The King will heal all the diseases and deformities of His people (Isaiah 29:18; 33:24; 35:5-6; 61:1-2; Ezekiel 34:16).

As a result of this universal healthcare, people will live extended life spans like before the Flood. A person who dies at the age of one hundred will have died very prematurely (Isaiah 65:20).

The Millennial Reign of Christ

Universal Worship of God

During the Millennium, all the inhabitants of the earth will join their hearts and voices in praise and worship to God. See Isaiah 45:23; 52:1, 7-10; 66:17-23; Zephaniah 3:9; Zechariah 13:2; 14:16; Malachi 1:11; Revelation 5:9-14.

This worship during the millennial reign will be centered in the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. See Isaiah 2:3; 60:13; Ezekiel 40–48; Joel 3:18; Haggai 2:7, 9.

Economic Prosperity

The Millennium will not need rescue missions, welfare programs, food stamps, or relief agencies. The world will flourish under the hand of the King of heaven.

See Isaiah 35:1-2, 7; 30:23-25; 62:8-9; 65:21-23; Jeremiah 31:5, 12; Ezekiel 34:26; 26:29-30. Also in Joel 2:21-27; Amos 9:13-14; Micah 4:1, 4; Zechariah 8:11-12; 9:16-17.

The Presence of God

The greatest thing about the kingdom is that Christ Himself will be there. God’s presence will be fully recognized, and the Lord’s people will experience fellowship with the Lord. This will be unlike anything they have ever known (Ezekiel 37:27-28; Zechariah 2:10-13).

The city of Jerusalem will be called Yahweh Shammah, which means “the Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35).

Conclusion

The Bible is clear that sinful men and women can never produce a perfect world in their own strength and ingenuity. However, when the Lord Jesus returns to rule over everything, the earth will enjoy unrestricted peace and prosperity.

When we look at our present world with all its difficulty, depression, and despair and then imagine the millennial kingdom, it is a refreshing thought. Every believer in Christ should look forward to that day when the earth will glorify the Lord and paradise will be regained.

Meanwhile, God is testing us to determine our future position of authority and responsibility in the millennial kingdom. Believers will be given rulership in the kingdom over men and angels based on what we did with what God has entrusted to us (Luke 19:11-26). Some will be governors over ten cities; some will rule over five cities.

All believers will reign, but the extent and responsibility of that reign are being determined right now in your life and mine. As it has been said, “this is training time for reigning time.”

How well are we doing?


Reference: The End, A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Mark Hitchcock.

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource: The End Times in Chronological Order: A Complete Overview to Understanding Bible Prophecy by Ron Rhodes

The End Times in Chronological OrderBible prophecy expert Ron Rhodes offers an easy-to-understand yet detailed chronology and explanation of end-times events.

The chapters are arranged around the major end-times themes: the rapture, the tribulation, the millennial kingdom, and the eternal state. Each chapter begins with a list of the specific events it covers, making this an extremely user-friendly chronological guide to end-times biblical prophecy.

Rhodes allows for various interpretations among Christians. Yet the sequence he describes is faithful to the biblical text, based on a literal approach to prophecy, and held by many Bible scholars.

As readers discover that they really can understand Bible prophecy, they will come to love and trust the Scriptures like never before.