Author: Alice A. Anacioco

What is the Day of the Lord?

What is the Day of the Lord?

When talking about the last days and end times, one eschatological term that cannot be ignored is the “Day of the Lord,” which is mentioned at least 19 times in the Old Testament and 4 times in the New Testament. What is the “Day of the Lord?”

In order to have a clear and concise understanding of the expression the “Day of the Lord,” we must first define what is meant by “day.”

The Word “Day” in the Bible

The word day is used in the Bible in three main ways and all three uses are illustrated in the first two chapters of Genesis.

First, sometimes it is used to refer to daylight; for instance, the hours between dawn and sunset (Genesis 1:5). Second, it is also used to refer to a twenty-four-hour day (Genesis 1:5). The Jewish day began at sunset and continued to the next day at sunset. Third, the word day is used in the Bible as a period of time (Genesis 2:4) just as we use it in English.

Understanding the Day of the Lord

We speak of the day of our youth. Are we saying that we were young only one day? No. Rather, we are referring to the extended period of time in which we were young. The Day of the Lord falls into this final category. It is an extended period of time, not just a twelve-hour or twenty-four-hour period.

The Day of the Lord in the New Testament

In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4, the Day of the Lord refers to an extended period of time but is given characteristics like a twenty-four-hour day. It is a day that begins at midnight or in the darkness, advancing to dawn and then to daylight.

It will close again with another period of darkness after daylight has passed. Apparently, that is the symbolism involved in the Day of the Lord.

Besides, 1 Peter 3:10-13 indicates that the Day of the Lord will include the destruction of the present heavens and earth and the creation of the new heavens and new earth.

The Day of the Lord in the Old Testament

A few sample passages in the Old Testament give a general overview of the Day of the Lord.

Isaiah 13:9-11 describes a dramatic judgment manifest in the physical world, which will interfere with the light of the sun, moon, and stars. God will put down the proud and deal with sinners in judgment.

Zephaniah 1:14-16 continues in the same strain. According to the Old Testament, the “Day of the Lord” is a time of God’s judgment and a time of God’s dealing with the world in its sin.

However, the Bible also portrays the Day of the Lord as a time of deliverance and blessing for Israel. The Day of the Lord includes the Millennium – the whole kingdom reign of Christ on earth – in which Christ personally directs the government of the world.

Zephaniah 3:14-17 pictures Israel’s blessings on that day, obviously following the time of judgment. This passage prophesies the praising and rejoicing of Israel during the Millennium on earth. Joel 3:14-18 shed additional light on the blessing phase of the Day of the Lord.

A Time of Judgment and Blessing

Putting all the above-mentioned passages, the Day of the Lord is any time God intervenes directly and dramatically in history to either judge or to bless. God has intervened in this way in the past, and He will do so again in the future.

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There have been specific, past “days of the Lord” when God intervened dramatically to judge. For instance, the destruction of Egypt was called the “Day of the Lord” (Ezekiel 30:1-4). The locust plague in Joel 1 was a day of the Lord when God intervened directly to judge Israel (Joel 1:15).

Yet it is important to remember that all these past, historical days of the Lord prefigure the final, future day of the Lord.

The Future Day of the Lord

As revealed in Scripture, the future day of the Lord is a period of time that will begin with the 7-year Tribulation (the judgment phase) and will continue throughout the entire one-thousand-year reign of Christ, and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth (the blessing phase).

The future Day of the Lord will stretch from the Rapture to the creation of the new heavens and new earth. It will commence with a time of wrath and judgment upon a wicked and Christ-rejecting world and will culminate in a time of peace and prosperity; Christ will be in the midst of the earth, will rule over the earth, and will bless the nation of Israel

Much like a 24-hour day, the Day of the Lord will begin with the dark night of the Tribulation, continuing with the dawn bursting forth when Christ returns, and then the world will bask in the full sun of daylight during the Kingdom of Christ.

Living in the Day of Grace

Our present time, this current church age is often referred to as the day of grace. This is not to say that God never displayed grace in the previous dispensations. Many of God’s dealings with mankind from the Garden of Eden to the present day have manifested His grace.

People have always been saved by God’s grace through faith. The salvation of every person, no matter when he or she lived, is a work of God’s sovereign grace. But God, during this present age, has uniquely displayed His grace, highlighting it as the basis for salvation and our Christian life.

Another feature of this day of grace is that for the most part, God is not dealing openly and directly with human sin. He may impose a swift judgment in some cases, but evil people often flourish, enjoy health and wealth, and succeed in their endeavors, even though they are not Christians and do not honor the Lord.

God has given us grace in Christ Jesus

A person today may even arrogantly blaspheme God, angrily declare to be an atheist, or openly denounce God and teach destructive ideas. Yet, God seems to do nothing about it. The Lord is not attempting to straighten that out in this day of grace.

The overriding purpose of God in this age is to proclaim His grace so that people may be saved by trusting in Christ and receiving God’s gift of grace. However, after this day of grace has run its course and the church has been “caught up” to be with Christ (an event known as the rapture), the Day of the Lord will begin when God will punish human sin directly in wrath and judgment.

Conclusion

Scripture clearly portrays the Day of the Lord as a day of divine judgment upon the world followed by a time of unparalleled blessing.

In the Day of the Lord, Christ will rule with a rod of iron over the entire earth (Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:27). He will administer absolute justice (Isaiah 11:1-9). On that day Israel will also be regathered (Isaiah 11:10-12) and brought into the perfect peace of the millennial kingdom (Zephaniah 3:14-20) and on to the creation of the new heaven and new earth.


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Recommended Resource: The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy: Over 150 Topics from the World’s Foremost Prophecy Experts 

Edited by Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson

Popular Encyclopedia of Bible ProphecyMore than one-fourth of the Bible was prophetic in nature at the time it was written, and Christ’s second coming is mentioned more than 300 times in Scripture. Clearly, God wants you to anticipate the last days—but Bible prophecy can seem vague and mysterious.

Find the clarity and answers you need in this comprehensive resource filled with thousands of facts about Christ’s return and the end times. Prophecy teachers Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson combine knowledge from an outstanding team of more than 40 experts to bring you…

  • detailed definitions of prophecy-related terms
  • helpful timetables of last-days’ events, including the rapture and the glorious appearing
  • thorough summaries of all the major prophetic viewpoints
  • vital understanding of the key players, such as the Antichrist and the False Prophet

Gain wisdom and insight as you repeatedly reach for this A-to-Z encyclopedia to find biblical answers to your toughest prophecy questions.

How Christians Can Defeat Satan

How Christians Can Defeat Satan

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ has already defeated Satan through His suffering, death, and resurrection. Clearly, the victory is His. Those of us who have believed in Christ are also victorious. We win because He has won.

While the ultimate victory has been won, we still have to fight spiritual battles as long as we are still upon the earth. Thus, we must desire to achieve victories over the devil. But how can we have victory over the enemy? How can Christians Defeat Satan?

How to Have Victory Over the Devil

The Bible gives us several ways in which we can defeat our enemy, Satan.

1. Know and Understand the Enemy.

To defeat Satan, first, we need to know who he is. This means having a biblical understanding of who he is, what he can do, his limitations, and the various ways in which he works while he is still active. This only comes from a study of Scripture.

If we are going to win our spiritual battles against the devil, we cannot afford to be ignorant of his schemes and tactics, otherwise, Satan will take advantage of us (2 Corinthians 2:11).

How Christians Defeat the Enemy

The Word of God tells us several ways by which the enemy works. Believers must, therefore, be able to spiritually discern what comes from the Lord and what comes from the devil. We do this by testing every spirit (1 John 4:1-3). This means that we do not blindly believe everyone who claims to speak in the name of the Lord.

Unfortunately, there will always be false prophets and counterfeit believers in the world (Matthew 7:15, 24:11; 2 Peter 2:1-2).

2. Always be on Guard.

Christians must actively be on guard against Satan and his attacks. The Word warns us to be watchful and ready at all times because our enemy is actively seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). And when Satan does attack us, we must resist (1 Peter 5:9).

To “resist” means to “withstand” or “stand our ground.” By doing so, we can overcome Satan. Indeed, we should never give in to Satan’s temptations.

3. Know Your Weaknesses.

It is also extremely important that we know our weaknesses. Each of us has an area in our life in which we are vulnerable and we should not pretend we do not. Satan knows these areas and so, we should be especially alert from attacks in the areas where we are the weakest.

The Bible commands us not to give any opportunity for the devil to work. Paul wrote: “And do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:27 NIV).

It is important to know the areas in which we are personally weak, admit these weaknesses, and protect ourselves in these particular areas the best way in which we can.

4. Avoid the Situation.

Knowing our weaknesses, we do not want to put ourselves in a position where we can easily fail. As much as possible, we should avoid any situation that can cause us to sin. For one thing, we must always remember that we do not have to sin. Sin is a choice that we make. However, we can flee from sin by staying away from the source of the temptation.

Paul exhorts all believers to stay away from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). By separating ourselves from a particular sin or any situation that may lead us to sin, a temporary victory can be won.

Yes, all victories are only temporary because temptation will always come as long as we are in these sinful bodies.

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5. Realize that You cannot Do it on Your Own.

Ultimately, we do not and we cannot fight the battle in our own strength. We learn a valuable lesson from Michael the archangel in his dealing with Satan. Jude 9 says, “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’”

From Michael’s example, we learn that we should not personally defy Satan. Knowing his power, we should neither underestimate nor overestimate him. We must realize that we can only resist and ultimately defeat the devil not on our own strength but by the Spirit of the Lord (Zechariah 4:6).

6. Put On the Full Armor of God.

The Bible speaks of the spiritual weapons of warfare that we possess and we need to use them (Ephesians 6:13-17): the belt of truth, which is the truth of the Word of God, the breastplate of righteousness which enables us to always do the right thing, shoes to spread the good news, the shield of faith to thwart the devil’s attacks, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

These weapons are there for us to win the battle. Victories are achievable when these weapons are employed.

7. Maintain Communication with God.

We are also told to constantly connect with God. Paul said this in his letter to the Ephesians about the necessity of prayer:

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

Talking to God regularly and constantly is something believers need to do to advance spiritually.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are commanded to pray unceasingly. It is a must for believers to maintain communication with God as this will help stop the progress of the devil.

8. Realize that You are Part of God’s Family.

The Bible speaks of two families of humanity. There are those who are the children of God (John 1:12), and those who are the children of the devil (John 8:44). Each human being belongs to one of these two families. There is no third group.

Those who are in the family of God have their lives molded after Him. Those who belong to the devil act like their spiritual father. Believers ought to realize which family they are a part of and they should act accordingly.

How Believers can have Victory over the Devil

Believers belong to God’s family. This means that we are to act differently than unbelievers in many situations. We should never compromise our beliefs or behavior.

As God’s children, we are under His care. Satan cannot defeat us because God is always watching out for us. What a comforting truth.

9. Rest in God’s Promises

Finally, we need to rest in the promises of God. Satan has been overcome and the victory is ours (1 Corinthians 15:57). There are no insurmountable problems for believers that the Lord cannot solve.

Conclusion

While we are living in this world-system and battling the attacks of the devil, it is possible to achieve temporary victory over him. But these victories can come only through faith in Jesus Christ.

While victory is always possible, occasional defeat will occur if we fail to do our part. These defeats can hinder our testimony as well as our spiritual growth. Therefore, we need to take these nine necessary steps to defeat Satan and be victorious.


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.


Can One Be Saved After Death?

Can One Be Saved After Death?

The belief that God will give the lost a second chance to believe after death has been held by many. They argue that those who have died without believing in Christ will have an opportunity to do so in the afterlife. Is there any scriptural support for this claim? Can one be saved after death?

Two days ago, my colleague asked me this question, which did not come as a surprise at all. Her mother passed away almost a year ago, barely three months after being diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer. It all happened so quickly that she was not prepared to lose her in such a short time.

She misses her every day but she is holding on to the thought that someday they would see each other again in heaven.

Let me just say this, I do not know her standing in the Lord, nor was her mom’s. As Roman Catholics they believe that Jesus is God; I’m just not sure if they have confessed Him as their Lord and Savior. But every opportunity I get to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with her and God’s gift of salvation through faith in Christ, I make sure to get the message across to her loud and clear.

Can One Be Saved After They Die

Judgment Comes After Death

When my colleague asked me if a person can be saved after they die, I said, “No. There isn’t any scriptural evidence to support the claim that God will give anyone a second chance to believe in Christ once this life is over.”

First of all, the Bible says that after death comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). There is not some type of probation for those who did not believe in this life. The New Living Translation translates the verse this way:

“And just as it is destined that each person dies only once and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27 NLT).

It is consistently taught throughout the Scripture that judgment comes after death and there’s not a chance to believe in Jesus Christ.

Eternal Life is Determined in this Life Alone

The Bible is clear that our ultimate destiny is dependent upon what we do in this life and this life alone.

Jesus said this when He spoke to the religious leaders of His day, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).

These religious leaders were no different from any other human being. Jesus never gave any indication that they or anyone else can have some type of chance to believe in the afterlife. That being said, each and every person who dies without placing their faith in Christ is forever lost.

Not only is eternal life determined in this life, but also that the state of the dead is forever fixed. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus that Jesus gave, the great gulf between the believing and the unbelieving dead is permanently put in place so that no one from either side could cross over.

“And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us” (Luke 16:26).

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The Day of Salvation is Now

The Bible urges people to believe in God’s promises because the day of God’s salvation is now; not tomorrow or sometime after this life is over. Paul wrote:

For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV).

Salvation is today; right now. It should never be put off until later and certainly not until someone gets to the next life.

If you haven’t made a decision yet to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I encourage you to do it right now. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow and there is no guarantee that you will still be alive by then. Most people are afraid to die but if we are in a right relationship with God, we do not have to fear death.

God Determines What is Fair

It needs to be emphasized that it is not a sinful human being who decides what is fair and what is not but the God of the Bible. God shows no partiality (Romans 2:11), thus it is wrong to accuse Him of unfairness because of what we think He should do.

The following says this about God’s character in Isaiah 40:13-14 (NIV):

“Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as His counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? Who was it that taught Him knowledge, or showed Him the path of understanding?”

The answer to the question, of course, is nobody. Nobody tells God what to do; nobody directs Him. God alone makes all the decisions and He does exactly what He wants to do.

Paul made this clear when he wrote to the Romans, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this’” (Romans 9:20 ESV)?

Who are we to question God? He formed us and He knows what’s best for us. Therefore, we need to trust Him in all decisions.

When we die we don't cease to exist; we just change location

God is a Righteous Judge

Another point that needed to be made is that the Lord eventually judges the world and He will do it righteously or fairly. God is the righteous Judge of all the earth and we can be confident that everyone will be treated and judged righteously.

“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

We may not know exactly how God will judge but we can conclude from the totality of the evidence in the Bible that God does not give people a chance to be saved after they have died. As far as determining our ultimate destiny, this life is all that there is.

Bottom Line

While many hold to the view that the Lord will be gracious enough to allow people to trust Christ sometime after their death, this is certainly not supported by the Bible. On the contrary, the Scripture emphasizes that now is the day of salvation because there is no chance after death.

What about the millions of people how have died without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ? Again, we need to remember that God determines what is fair and there is no injustice in Him. We need to trust the Lord that whatever way He will judge each and every human being, it will be done fairly and righteously.


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.


Running the Race to the Finish

Running the Race to the Finish

The Christian life is not only a journey towards heaven which is our final destination; it is also a race wherein Christians are like competitors in an athletic event. Indeed, Christians are running the race of faith and they are exhorted by the author of the book of Hebrews to run the race to the finish.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

The Cloud of Witnesses

Whenever we see the word “therefore” in a sentence, we know that it functions to introduce a logical result or conclusion. That being said, we can confidently say that Hebrews 12:1 is a concluding statement of the previous chapter about the heroes of faith.

Furthermore, it says that “we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” Cloud in both the Greek and Latin refers to a great number of people or things. So, the great cloud of witnesses” is composed of the saints mentioned in chapter 11 of Hebrews: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, David, Samuel, and the prophets.

Run the Race of Faith to the Finish

Some have come to think of these champions of faith as spectators from the heavens, cheering us on as we run the race, like people seated in a stadium. This has led to the belief that people in heaven know and see everything that is happening on earth. But that is inconclusive.

One more thing, if people in heaven can see the difficulties, pain, and suffering that their loved ones are going through on earth, as well as the terror and wickedness of evil people, how can they have complete joy? Isn’t heaven a place of joy where there are no more tears and no more sorrows?

When the writer said we are surrounded by these witnesses, the stress is not on the idea that they are observing us or witnessing what we are doing. Rather, that we look to them and studiously observe them as exemplary individuals given by the author of Hebrews from history to encourage us to persevere.

How to Run the Race to Win

For us to run the race of faith to the finish, there are certain things we need to do.

1. Throw Off Everything that Hinders

The verse says we must “lay aside every weight or burden.” This signifies anything which will be an impediment or hindrance in running the race. When running a race, almost anything that adds weight to the runner is a hindrance.

Have you ever seen any athletes competing in their jeans? Or carrying a backpack? No! Not even a bottle of water. They have to be comfortable in what they’re wearing so that they will be in their best, optimal performance.

In the same way, we must get rid of various burdens which delay and impede our spiritual course, which includes:

  • The love of this present life
  • The pleasure of this world and worldly cares
  • The lust of the flesh
  • Riches and honor

These are the same things that John warned us about in 1 John 2:16. This is not to say that we should not enjoy our borrowed time on earth. God wants us to enjoy His blessings but we must resist the notion that happiness is found on the things of this world. We always need to keep in mind that everything in this world is temporary and will soon pass away.

Our priority is to further the works of the Lord and use all the resources He has given us, including our life, for His purpose, and greater glory. Christians are to occupy while waiting for the Lord, our Savior to come back for the church (Titus 2:13).

2. Avoid the Sin that Easily Ensnares Us

Sin is the heaviest burden that impedes us and that is why we are warned to guard against any form of sin. Sin distracts us, sin can hold us back, and most importantly, sin will separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2).

While not naming any specific sin, the writer was probably referring to the sin of unbelief. It is the sin of unbelief that had kept Israel out of the Promised Land, and unbelief hinders us from entering our spiritual inheritance in Christ.

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3. Live a Life of Discipline

The writer of Hebrews is appealing to us to take all the necessary steps of self-discipline and deal with any areas of our lives that could hinder our spiritual progress. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 that an athlete must be disciplined if he is to win the prize.

Discipline means giving up the good and the better for the best. The athlete must watch his diet. There is nothing wrong with food or fun, but if they interfere with your highest goals then they are hindrances and not “helps.”

Also, when running the race of faith, we must disentangle ourselves from all impediments. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he charged him to pass on to other faithful believers everything he taught him. At the same time, he encouraged his “son in the faith” to endure hardship as a soldier of Jesus Christ and to not get tied up with the affairs of this life to please his commanding officer (2 Timothy 2:1-4).

4. Run the Race with Endurance

What does it mean to run the race of faith with endurance or perseverance? How do we do it? To run the race with endurance is to run the race to the end. It involves determination, commitment, and refuses to be deflected.

We often hear the phrase, “no guts, no glory,” or “no pain, no gain,” which simply means you cannot achieve success without hard work and struggle. In running the race of faith, we need to push through and push hard if we want to win. Despite all the obstacles and distractions we may have to face along the way, we need to keep going and rely on the Lord to give us the strength (Philippians 4:13).

5. Run the Race Marked Out for Us

When Paul addressed the church elders at Ephesus, he told them how he has been faithfully serving the Lord by proclaiming to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ despite his persecution in the hands of the Jews. He pictured himself as a runner who had a race to finish, and nothing would keep him from finishing the race with joy.

“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

Let Us Run the Race Marked Out For Us

In this passage, Paul speaks of “my race” – he had his race to run and we have our own. Hebrews 12:1c says we are to run the race that is “set before us.” In other translations, it says, “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

There is a race marked out for every believer. We are in a race, and this race has been “set before us.” The point here is that God has mapped out a specific, prescribed course for each of us that we must follow. We are not competing with others but we strive to excel up to our potential in this lifestyle of Christian conquest.

6. Look Unto Jesus, the Author, and Finisher of Our Faith

Looking unto Jesus involves looking away from someone or something else and directing our focus unto Jesus. The NIV translates this beautifully as “fixing our eyes on Jesus.”

We cannot be looking at two things at the same time. If we want to finish the race, we need to look away from anything that could distract us and have our eyes locked on Jesus. We are not to look at the mistakes or sins committed by other Christians, especially our church leaders, and use them as an excuse to quit.

As we run the race, Jesus has to be our focus, our inspiration, and our example; He remains to be the ultimate example of Christian obedience and endurance. Jesus is not only the author but also the finisher of our faith. He started His work in us and He promised to complete it until the day of His return (Philippians 1:6).

Jesus Endured the Cross for Our Sake

Hebrews 12:2b says, “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross …” Jesus did not regard the cross itself as a joy, but He was able to look past the horror of the cross for the joy that is beyond it. Jesus knew that His suffering and death would result in the reconciliation of God with man.

One of the prominent elements of the torture of the cross was its extreme shame. Death by crucifixion was the most despised form of death in the Roman Empire, reserved for the worst offenders. Jesus did not welcome this shame – He despised it. Yet He endured through it to victory.

Anytime you are tempted to give up because of the trials and difficulties that you are going through, think about what the Lord Jesus had to endure for your sake. “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3 NIV).

How to Run the Race of Faith

From Crucifixion to Glorification

What was the result of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross? Salvation became available to everyone who believes (John 3:16) and Jesus was exalted and seated at the right hand of the throne of God. This highlights the triumph of the victory of Christ over death.

People often ask, “If Jesus had already won the victory, why do Christians need to suffer?” As children of God, we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. And if we suffer with Him, we will also be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17).

Peter said, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world” (1 Peter 4:12-13 NLT).

Closing Words

In running the race of faith, we should look back upon the past champions of faith from the Old Testament as they can be a source of encouragement. Then, we must look forward as we run the race and do certain things to pursue the course.

Negatively, we are to strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up; and positively, we are to keep our eyes on Jesus.

The exhortation to “look” unto Jesus is the ground for this anticipatory victory view of the triumphant Lord of glory who finished His course. We look unto Jesus in contemplation, in considering Him as the conqueror of adversity and suffering, and as the exemplar par excellence for spiritual vision.

Since Christ is the “champion who initiates and perfects our faith,” trusting Him releases His power in our lives. As we see Him in the Word and yield to His Spirit, He increases our faith and enables us to run the race to the finish.

It doesn’t matter how many times we stumble, trip, or fall. Walking or running, limping or stumbling, it does not matter. Fix your eyes on Jesus and finish the race.

At the end of the day, it’s not how you start the race that matters but that you finish and be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).


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: Let’s Run!: Running the Race with Faith and Perseverance by Jennifer Hayes Yates

Let’s Run!: Running the Race with Faith and Perseverance by Jennifer Hayes Yates Every race is a challenge.

Hills, valleys, dips, and curves; pain, thirst, weariness, and overwhelm—sometimes it’s just easier to take a seat on the sideline and slip off our running shoes.

But God has inspired us in His Word to run the race with faith and perseverance and to finish well. He gives us examples of others who faced some of the same challenges, yet remained faithful.

Let’s Run! explores the faith chapter of Hebrews by taking us back to the Old Testament and the stories of some ordinary people who faced enormous challenges but managed to stay in the race.

This Bible study will give you not only a look at their lives, but also an opportunity to apply the same principles of faith to your own life, to keep you in the race and running toward the prize.

  • Discover how worship and the Word can help your faith grow.
  • Learn how to apply these principles in your own life, family, and church.
  • Develop a strategy for handling challenges to your faith.
  • Gain a new perspective on church and ministry.

Let’s Run! is a 6-week Bible study which includes weekend devotions to recap the principles learned each week, as well as ideas for group study.

Join Jennifer and be inspired to lace up and get back in the race!

A Bible Study on the Rapture

A Bible Study on the Rapture

The Rapture which is the next great event on God’s prophetic calendar is undeniably one of the most debated issues in Christian theology. Although every Christian denomination affirms its belief in the eventual return of Christ, there exists a wide variety of opinions concerning when and how Christ will return.

In this article, we will examine the biblical doctrine of the rapture.

The Meaning of Rapture in the Bible

Those who object to the rapture are quick to point out that the word rapture is not in the Bible. I must say that’s a fair concern. However, the word Trinity is not in the Bible either, or even the word Bible for that matter. Yet we believe that these things are very real.

So, where does the concept of the rapture come from?

The term rapture comes from the words “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17: “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.”

Is the Word Rapture in the Bible

Our English word rapture is from the Latin word rapio or raptus, meaning “to snatch up, to seize, or to carry off by force.” When the great scholar Jerome translated the Greek NT into Latin in the 4th century, he translated the Greek word harpazo in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 into the Latin word raeptius. This word was eventually brought into the English as Rapture.

So, while it’s true that the word rapture does not occur in most English translations, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17 clearly contain the concept of a catching away of living believers to meet the Lord.

The rapture could just be well called the “catching away of the church,” “the snatching away of the church,” “the translation of the church,” or “the harpazo of the church.” But “Rapture of the church” is an excellent description and has become the most common title for this event.

Where is Rapture in the Bible?

The rapture of believers is an important biblical concept that appears in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The idea of believers being “caught up” by God is not limited to Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. There are several places throughout the Bible where people were “snatched up” from earth to heaven – providing insight regarding aspects of our future rapture.

There are seven raptures of specific people clearly described in Scripture. These involve Enoch, Elijah, Jesus, Philip, Paul, and the two witnesses. It’s possible that John was raptured as well, which would give us eight.

In light of these raptures, any serious theological understanding of biblical eschatology must include the idea of believers being “caught up” into heaven. Christians may differ on their understanding of the timing of the rapture to come, but not the reality that it will take place.

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Interestingly, some critics argue there is no rapture at all for the church. Yet we see the word we refer to as the rapture used 14 times in the New Testament: Matthew 11:12; 12:29; 13:19; John 6:15; 10:12, 28, 29; Acts 8:39; 23:10; 2 Corinthians 12:2; 4; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Jude 23; Revelation 12:5.

Of these 14 uses of harpazo, four refer to an actual rapture by God. In addition to believers, both dead and living (1 Thessalonians 4:17), these include Philip (Acts 8:39), Paul (2 Corinthians 2:2-3), and the male child (Revelation 12:5).

In addition, several raptures have already taken place in Scripture or are specifically mentioned in the future.

Raptures in the Old Testament

In addition to references to the word translated “rapture” in the New Testament, the Old Testament reveals two occasions on which the Lord “snatched up” a person into heaven. On both occasions, the person was taken alive directly to heaven with the Lord. Thus, the idea of a miraculous rapture of God’s people has precedence in the Old Testament.

Enoch

The first record of such an event has to do with Enoch. He is an intriguing character in Scripture mentioned six times in Genesis, once in a genealogy in 1 Chronicles 1:3, and three times in the New Testament (Luke 3:37; Hebrews 11:5; Jude 14).

Enoch was the son of Jared (Genesis 5:18) and became the father of Methuselah at the age of 65, and later he had other sons and daughters (Genesis 5:21-22). Living in the time of the early patriarchs, he lived to the age of 365. Scripture then notes, “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).

Where is the Word Rapture Mentioned in the Bible

Elijah

The second Old Testament person taken alive directly into heaven was the prophet Elijah. Elijah, meaning, “my God is Yahweh,” was a 9th century BC prophet from Tishbe, in Gilead, on the east bank of the northern kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 17:7). Elijah’s early ministry involved several confrontations with the idolatrous Ahab and Jezebel, the king and queen of Israel. This reached a climax at Mt. Carmel, where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to call down fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:19-39).

Despite God’s miraculous intervention, Jezebel was determined to have Elijah killed, so he fled to the desert and hid in a cave (1 Kings 19:1-9). There, God called Elijah to anoint Elisha as his successor (1 Kings 19:15). Leaving the cave, he found Elisha and “threw his mantle on him” (1 Kings 19:19). For about the next ten years they ministered together, training “sons of the prophets” (disciples) in the various cities of Israel and Judah (2 Kings 2:3).

Second Kings 2 begins, “And it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal” (2 Kings 2:1). His servant Elisha refused to leave his side, staying with Elijah as they walked to Bethel, Jericho, and across the Jordan River after Elijah parted the water by striking it with his cloak (1 Kings 2:8).

2 Kings 2:11-12 report, “Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that 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. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!’ So he saw him no more.”

Raptures in the New Testament

Seven raptures are recorded in the New Testament. These include the ascension of Jesus (Greek, harpasthê) in Revelation 12:50, the temporary raptures of Philip and Paul, the calling up (Greek, anaba) of John, the resurrection and rapture of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:12, and the rapture of all believers in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Jesus

First, Jesus ascended to heaven following His resurrection. This event known as the ascension is described in Acts 1:9-11. It is also mentioned in Luke 24:51.

What is intriguing about this rapture of Jesus is that the angels reported Jesus will return “in just the same way” as the disciples had watched Him go into heaven. What way was this? Jesus left by being “lifted up” (Greek, epêrthê) and received (Greek, hupelaben) by a cloud.

Jesus’ ascension was physical, personal, visible, and glorious. Jesus promised to one day return in the same way at the second coming (Matthew 24:30; Daniel 7:13) as well as to the same place, the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).

Philip

The second rapture noted in the New Testament is also recorded in the book of Acts (Acts 8:25-40). In this passage, Philip is led by an angel to meet with an Ethiopian Eunuch. A Hellenistic Jew, Philip was one of the seven original deacons appointed by the church in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-7).

After Philip successfully evangelized Samaria (Acts 8:1-8), he was led by an angel to head south toward Gaza, on the edge of the Sinai desert. There, Philip encountered an Ethiopian of African descent who was reading from a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Philip shared the good news of Jesus with the eunuch, speaking from Isaiah 53 in response to the eunuch’s question; “Of whom does the prophet say this” (Acts 8:34)?

“Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized’” (Acts 8:36)? This powerful account chronicles Philip baptizing the first known convert from Ethiopia. But the eunuch’s baptism was not the end of God’s power in this account.

After the baptism, Philip’s rapture occurs (Acts 8:39-40). John R. W. Stott observes, in this case, Philip was “removed with miraculous velocity … as at the rapture.” He was “snatched away” and reappeared at Azotus (Ashdod) some twenty miles away.

Though Philip was only temporarily raptured to another location, this event highlights an important aspect of the future rapture of the church: Those who remain on the earth will no longer see those who were raptured.

Where is Rapture in the Bible

Paul

The third rapture recorded in the New Testament involves the apostle Paul. In 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, Paul refers to “a man” who was caught up to heaven. Though he does not directly identify himself in this passage, from the context it is clear that he is speaking of himself.

Though reluctant to speak about his experience, Paul notes several details referring to his being “caught up” to the “third heaven.” The third heaven refers to the place where God lives – beyond the first heaven, or the sky, and the second heaven, or outer space.

First, Paul was raptured “into Paradise.” It was common to speak of heaven as “Paradise” (Luke 23:43; Revelation 2:7). Following his rapture, Paul was in the presence of the Lord immediately. Similarly, 1 Corinthians 15:52 reveals the rapture of believers will take place “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”

Second, this rapture occurred to “a man in Christ.” John Drane sees this concept as the heart of Paul’s theology. He writes, “The supreme fact for Paul was that he was ‘a man in Christ.’ It was by being ‘in Christ’ that a person could be justified before God, and share in the new life Jesus had come to bring.”

Third, Paul “heard inexpressible words.” One of the beautiful aspects believers can anticipate about being in the presence of Christ is the supernatural fellowship that will occur from being with the Lord.

Paul could not even speak of what took place during his experience. Imagine how much greater of an experience it will be when we live in Christ’s presence forever.

John

The fourth possible rapture recorded in the New Testament is found in Revelation. Due to the anti-Christian persecution that took place under the Roman emperor Domitian, the apostle John was banished to the island of Patmos. While there, he continued to worship the Lord and wrote the book of Revelation (Revelation 1:9-11).

In Revelation 4:1-2, John refers back to this vision and says, “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this. Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.”

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John Walvoord observes that while the invitation to John to “come up here” (Greek anaba hòde) is similar to that which the church anticipates at the rapture, “it is clear from the context that this is not an explicit reference to the rapture of the church, as John was not actually translated; in fact, he was still in his natural body on the island of Patmos.”

Nevertheless, the idea of his being transported, even in a vision, shows a pattern of a believer being taken to heaven to gain a new perspective on events that would transpire on earth.

Future Raptures

In addition to the raptures that have already taken place throughout Scripture, two future raptures are noted.

The Rapture of Living Believers

While several passages describe the rapture, the three most direct passages that describe this event include John 14:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Note: The focus of this write-up is on the pre-tribulation view of the rapture of all believers in Christ.

In John 14:1-3, Jesus personally describes some aspects of the rapture. First, He explains that one reason for leaving earth is so He can personally prepare a place for us in heaven. This amazing detail reveals Jesus is actively involved in preparing our future heavenly home.

Second, Jesus teaches in John 14:3 that He will come again and receive us to Himself. The order of events is clear. Jesus will leave (the ascension), He will prepare a place for us in heaven, He will come again, He will take us to be with Him (the rapture), and we will be in heaven with Him.

A Bible Study on the Rapture

The Rapture of the Two Witnesses

We read about the rapture of the two witnesses sent by God to testify to the world on His behalf in Revelation 11:3-12. God will grant these two Jewish men authority to witness and prophesy for 42 months, or 1,260 days – this comprises the first 3 ½ years of the seven-year tribulation that will follow the rapture (Revelation 11:2-3).

These two men will minister outside of the rebuilt Jerusalem temple and have the ability to destroy their enemies (Revelation 11:5). At the midpoint of the tribulation, the beast (Antichrist) will kill these two witnesses and leave their bodies in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 ½ days (Revelation 11:7-8).

The people of the world will celebrate their death (Revelation 11:10). Yet these two witnesses will return to life after 3 ½ days, causing great fear among the people (Revelation 11:11). They will then follow the Lord’s command to “come up here,” and they will be raptured to heaven (Revelation 11:12).

While the term harpazo is not used to describe the rapture of the two witnesses, the fact of their physical resurrection and rapture is clearly indicated. A voice from heaven called them to “come up here” and they “went up.”

The Rapture is the Blessed Hope

A careful study of the Greek term harpazo and these examples of biblical raptures make it clear that the idea of a future rapture of all believers is certainly biblical. The only real debate is over the matter of the timing of the rapture, not the fact that there will be such an event.

Therefore, any serious discussion about the nature, timing, and significance of the rapture ought to be carried out with the utmost respect for this biblical concept.

If the first Christians viewed the rapture as the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), then so should we, regardless of our opinions concerning its timing.

Closing Words

The rapture or the catching away of living believers to heaven is a biblical doctrine. Scripture clearly teaches that at some point in the future, Jesus will come, and every believer in Christ who is alive on earth will be caught up to heaven to meet Him in the air.

One important thing to note: Jesus is not coming for moral people, for people who faithfully attend church, or for people who observe religious rituals, as good as those things maybe. He’s coming for those who are “in Christ” through faith in His atoning death and resurrection.

Are you ready to meet Him?


References:

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

Can We Still Believe in the Rapture? by Ed Hindson and Mark Hitchcock

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Did God Create Evil (Isaiah 45:7)?

Did God Create Evil (Isaiah 45:7)?

The problem of evil is one of the arguments commonly brought up when talking about the existence of God. Atheists often ask, “If a morally upright God exists, why doesn’t he stop all bad things from happening?” Often people claim that God Himself created evil.

And you know what? They even use the Scriptures, particularly Isaiah 45:7 (KJV) to support this claim. What? No way! Does this verse really teach that God created evil?

In this post, we will look at this verse more closely and figure out how to properly respond to this question.

Is God the Creator of Evil?

One passage of Scripture that seems to teach that God did indeed create evil is Isaiah 45:7. The King James Version of the Bible says this, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.”

But does this mean that God is the creator of evil? If so, then He isn’t a good God after all. So, how do we explain the following verse in Genesis?

Does the Bible Teach that God Created Evil

If everything God created was “very good” then how can He be the creator of evil? Is evil something very good? How are we supposed to explain these seemingly contradicting statements?

Making Sense of Difficult Passages

Christian apologist, speaker, author, and pastor of Calvary Chapel Signal Hill Don Stewart, gives us three possible ways in which Bible-believing Christians should address this passage.

Incorrect Translation of the Hebrew Word

It is important to note that only the King James Bible uses the word evil and in this case, some people feel that the Hebrew word was incorrectly translated based on the context of the passage. The word translated “evil” is the Hebrew word ra, which also means calamity, disaster, sorrow, afflictions, and adversity.

Modern Bible translations have translated the passage with a different English word. For example, the New International Version reads:

“I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7 NIV).

Here we have the word translated “disaster.”

Interestingly, the New King James Version uses the word “calamity. It says, “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

Therefore, the Scriptures do not teach that God was the originator of evil. Rather, what this passage is saying is that on occasion God brings calamity or disaster to the world but that He did not create evil itself.

 

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God Created the Conditions for Evil

Although others believe that the Hebrew word does not actually mean that God creates evil, they usually understand it in the sense that God creates the conditions for people to commit acts of evil. In other words, God creates circumstances where people have the choice to either do good or evil and that people sometimes make the choice to do the latter.

So, in a sense, God creates conditions that people can do evil but these conditions also allow people to do what is good. In other words, it is not that God created something evil but rather that He created the conditions for evil to become a possibility.

By giving human beings a choice, God opened up the possibility that humans would choose evil. Adam and Eve did exactly that. They chose to rebel against God and brought sin into our world. Therefore, in one sense, God did create evil by allowing the conditions for evil to originate.

But at the same time, God did not force Adam and Eve to choose evil. To do evil was something they chose to do.

God Allows Evil to Exist for His Own Purposes

Scriptures tell us that God is good, all-powerful, and sovereign. This is why we must recognize that no circumstance escapes His watchful eyes. In other words, God allows things to happen; He permitted evil to infest His creation.

Now, why is that? How could God just sit there and watch evil destroy His creation? When it comes to the problem of evil, the Bible leaves some things unanswered. But one thing it does tell us: God uses evil for His own purposes.

God uses everything for His purpose

We see this in the story of Joseph and his brothers. What Joseph’s brothers did to him was evil. Yet, God used their evil for good – to preserve the lives not only of their family but of the nation of Israel. You can read more about it in this article.

Another example is the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, in several instances such as that in Exodus 7:3 by God, and other instances (Exodus 8:32) by Pharaoh himself. God said this happened not only so that He might show His power in Pharaoh but also for His name to be declared in all the earth (Romans 9:17).

And let us not forget the evilest event that God allowed to happen – the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son (Acts 2:23). All the evil things that the participants in the crucifixion did have been ordained beforehand by God. And yet, the moral blame rested on the people who crucified Christ.

Indeed, God did not create evil. But He uses evil to accomplish His purposes for His own glory and for our good.

Bottom Line

Sure, the Bible recognizes that evil exists. But God did not create evil. We must reiterate that Isaiah 45:7 does not teach God created evil. God is not the originator of evil. The origin of evil lies with humanity. When God created man, i.e., human beings, He gave them free will – the choice to obey or disobey.

Evil came as a result of humanity’s choice. We must recognize that much of the evil in the universe is due to the direct or indirect choice of individuals. Lying, stealing, murder, and the likes cannot be blamed upon God. Each person is given a choice to do good or evil. And when they choose evil, they must be held accountable.


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Recommended Resource: Why Does God Allow Evil?: Compelling Answers for Life’s Toughest Questions by Clay Jones

“If you are looking for one book to make sense of the problem of evil, this book is for you.” – Sean McDowell

Grasping This Truth Will Change Your View of God Forever

Why Does God Allow Evil?: Compelling Answers for Life’s Toughest Questions by Clay JonesIf God is good and all-powerful, why doesn’t He put a stop to the evil in this world? Christians and non-Christians alike struggle with the concept of a loving God who allows widespread suffering in this life and never-ending punishment in hell. We wrestle with questions such as…

  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Why should we have to pay for Adam’s sin?
  • How can an eternal judgment be fair?

But what if the real problem doesn’t start with God…but with us?

Clay Jones, an associate professor of Christian apologetics at Biola University, examines what Scripture truly says about the nature of evil and why God allows it. Along the way, he’ll help you discover the contrasting abundance of God’s grace, the overwhelming joy of heaven, and the extraordinary destiny of believers.

A Letter from Jeremiah to the Exiles

A Letter from Jeremiah to the Exiles

Jeremiah 29 records several letters: one from Jeremiah to the exiles, including reference to a letter concerning Jewish false prophets in Babylon to which Jeremiah replied; one from Shemaiah to the Temple priests, concerning Jeremiah; and one from Jeremiah to the exiles concerning Shemaiah.

Let us examine Jeremiah’s letters and see how the principles he laid out might and should be applied in our lives today as Christians.

A Letter of Instruction and Encouragement

Sometime after the deportation in 597, Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles in Babylon to tell them how to behave in their new land. Governed by special laws concerning clean and unclean things, the Jewish people would have a difficult time adjusting to a pagan society.

Jeremiah wanted the Jewish people to be good witnesses to the idolatrous Babylonians, and he also wanted them to be good even though they were separated from their Temple and its services. He addressed himself to the needs of three kinds of people: those with no hope, those with false hopes, and those who have true hope.

Hope in the Lord

Those With No Hope

The exiles had lost everything but their lives and what few possessions they could carry with them to Babylon. They had lost their freedom and were now captives. They had been taken from their homes and had lost their means of making a living. They were separated from relatives and friends, some of whom may have perished in the long march from Jerusalem to Babylon.

No matter how they looked at it, the situation seemed hopeless. So, Jeremiah gives them a Word from the Lord (Jeremiah 29:5-7). Clearly, the Jewish people were in Babylon by the will of God.

Yet, they were instructed to build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for their sons and give their daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters – that they may be increased there, and not diminished.

Also, they must seek the peace of the city where God has caused them to be carried away captive, and to lift it up to the Lord in prayer it; for when the city is peaceful, they will have peace.

Application to the Christian

When something as depressing as this happens to us, how should we handle it? It’s pretty difficult to remain hopeful while we watch everything we hold dear crumble before our very eyes. But no matter how tragic it might be, we must not allow any difficult circumstance to hold us back. Hanging our harps on the willow and sitting around weeping may be a normal reaction to tragedy but it sure won’t do us any good (Psalm 137:1-4).

One of the first steps in turning tragedy into triumph is to acknowledge that God has allowed it (Jeremiah 29:4). We must accept the situation courageously and entrust our lives completely into the hands of a loving God, who makes no mistakes.

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Those With False Hopes

The false prophets in Babylon were giving false hopes to the people concerning Jerusalem and Judah. Apparently, these false prophets had convinced the people that their stay in Babylon would be brief; thus they did not need to settle down and try to resume a normal life.

This word got back to Jeremiah so he wrote to the exiles again not only to warn them about these false prophets but also to tell them just the opposite of what they have been told (Jeremiah 29:8-9).

Since Jewish exiles would be in Babylon for as long as seventy years (Jeremiah 29:10), they would have plenty of time to build houses and set up homes. The exiles needed to have families so that people would be available to return to Judea when the captivity ended. This small Jewish remnant was holding in its hands the future of God’s great plan of salvation, and they must obey Him, be fruitful, and multiply.

The Jews could have easily waged constant warfare against their idolatrous Gentile captors, but Jeremiah instructed them to strive to get along with the Babylonians. The exiles were to be peacemakers, not troublemakers, and they were to pray sincerely for their enemies. (See Matthew 4:43-48; 1 Timothy 2:1-3; Titus 3:1-2.)

Application to the Christian

It was possible to be good Jews even in pagan land; it’s also possible to be good Christians in a secular and wicked world. Remember, if we reject the wooden yoke of submission, we only end up wearing an iron yoke of subjugation (Jeremiah 28:12-14).

Thus, the best course is to yield ourselves to the Lord and to those who are over us, no matter how badly they may treat us. (See Peter’s counsel to Christian slaves in 1 Peter 2:18-25). To indulge in false hope is to miss what God has planned for us.

Those Who Have True Hope

True hope is based on the revealed Word of God, not on the dream messages of self-appointed prophets (Jeremiah 29:8). God had given His people a gracious promise to deliver them from captivity, to gather them from all the nations and from all the places where He has driven them and bring them back to their land (Jeremiah 29:10-14).

And God is faithful, He would keep His promise. All the people have to do is to seek the Lord with all their hearts. According to Jeremiah 29:14, these promises reach beyond the Jews captive in Babylon and include all of Israel throughout the world. Jeremiah was looking ahead to the end of the age when Israel will be gathered to meet their Messiah and enter their kingdom (Isaiah 10:20 – 12:6).

For I know the plans I have for you

Application to the Christian

In every situation, God’s people have the responsibility to seek the Lord, pray, and ask Him to fulfill His promises, for the Word and prayer go together (Acts 6:4). They say that what life does to us depends largely on what life finds in us. If we seek the Lord and want His best, then circumstances will build us and prepare us for what He has planned

If we rebel or if we look for quick and easy shortcuts then circumstances will destroy us and rob us of the future God wants us to enjoy.

Closing Thoughts

God caused the Jews to be carried away captive in Babylon; it was part of His plan in bringing judgment on Judah for their generations of rebellion against Him. And in God’s plan, they would be in Babylon for a long time. But God has not forgotten about them and He never wanted to destroy them.

A man with a heart of a true shepherd, Jeremiah wanted to enlighten and encourage the Jewish exiles in their new life in Babylon.

God wanted the exiles to multiply in Babylon just as they multiplied in Egypt. He also wanted them to be good in their communities and to be a blessing to their Babylonian neighbors.

How was it possible for Jeremiah to get in touch with the Jewish exiles in Babylon? Correspondence like this wasn’t difficult to maintain in those days, for diplomatic missions between Jerusalem and Babylon were regular.

In the same way, God wants His children to be a good neighbor, employee, co-worker, and a blessing even to the meanest people. The Word of God exhorts every believer in Jesus to do everything with all their heart as though they are working for the Lord (Colossians 3:23-24).


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Recommended Resource: Hope in the Hard Places: How to Survive When Your World Feels Out of Control by Sarah Beckman

Hope in the Hard Places: How to Survive When Your World Feels Out of Control by Sarah BeckmanHope in the Hard Places is a practical, encouraging guidebook for the weary soul looking for hope in dark circumstances.

In this life, everyone must face trials. Cancer, chronic illness, loss of a loved one, divorce, depression, prodigal children, caring for aging parents, and other unknown terrains can cause people to feel hopeless and helpless.

For those who feel like they don’t know where to turn, Hope in the Hard Places equips readers to walk through their trial with hope rather than desperation.

Sarah Beckman, a speaker, and author, teaches effective and powerful ways to get through the pain with biblical truths and principles. She also includes insight from others who have experienced all manner of trials.

Packed with practical strategies, checklists, encouragement, wisdom from seasoned travelers, and rock-solid biblical truth, Hope in the Hard Places provides a beacon of hope in the darkness so that readers can walk through the depths of hardship with insight, dignity, and certainty.

Why is the Fear of the Lord the Beginning of Knowledge?

Why is the Fear of the Lord the Beginning of Knowledge?

The fear of the Lord is a topic mentioned frequently in Scripture, especially in the book of Proverbs where it appears eighteen times. King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

But what is the fear of the Lord and why is it the beginning of knowledge? Fearing God seems to be a strange way of knowing God, don’t you think? How exactly can we know God by fearing Him?

When talking about the “fear of the Lord,” it does not necessarily mean we are to be afraid of Him and so we should stay out of His way. Some people seem to suggest that God is an angry monster who would strike anyone who does anything offensive to Him.

But that is not who God is. Didn’t God sacrifice His only begotten Son for the salvation of the world and He did it out of His great love (John 3:16)?

What Is The Fear Of The Lord?

The fear of the Lord is not the slavish fear of a criminal before a judge but the loving and reverential fear of a child for his or her parents. It is that affectionate reverence by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father’s law (Bridges).

It is also the ultimate expression of reverential submission to the Lord’s will and thus characterizes a true worshiper (Ross).

More importantly, it is our fear of the Lord that will enable us to know God. If we want to understand God’s works and God’s Word, we must maintain this reverential fear of the Lord, for this attitude is the basis for receiving spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Knowing God by Fearing Him

It All Starts With Fear

The starting point of our relationship with God is fear because when we fear Him, we accept His majesty, which eventually becomes the basis from which we can build and grow spiritually.

In Psalm 76:1-12, Asaph uses the word fear three times as he gives a brief history of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt. The Israelites had seen God’s power and might when He covered the pharaoh’s chariots with the Red Sea and they feared Him (Psalm 76:6-7).

When God sent His judgment to Moses (Psalm 76:8a), the Israelites had been sanctified and prepared to meet God at the foot of Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:9). Although the people were not allowed to climb the mountain, they were allowed to listen and watch when Moses received the Ten Commandments.

But when they saw the “thundering, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking” (Exodus 20:18), they told Moses they were afraid. In response, Moses said to the people, “Do not fear for God has come to test you and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin (Exodus 20:20).

God’s Might Is Fearful

Next, the psalmist refers to Jehoshaphat’s reign when “The earth feared and was still” (Psalm 76:8). Israel’s enemies feared the power of God, and because of this, there was peace in the land for twenty-five years (2 Chronicles 20:29).

When people lose their fear of God, bad things happen. God’s judgment is swift and certain. When Assyria lost its fear of God, God killed 185,000 of them (2 Kings 19:35). When the church lost its fear of God in the New Testament, He killed Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5:1-11).

Again, this is not to say that God is always looking for people who exhibit no fear of Him just so He gets a chance to bring His judgment upon them. The emphasis here is that when God’s people fear Him, they would not sin and will desire to live under God’s will.

Looking at what is going on today in America, a nation whose constitution was founded on the Word of God is heart-breaking. You see people spreading terror and fear in major cities, crime rates increasing, and all kinds of lawlessness. What happened to this great nation that God has blessed tremendously for many years?

The people have not only lost the fear of God but they also have removed God from their schools, government institutions, and pretty much every section of society. They no longer acknowledge God as the law-giver, the giver of life, and the source of every blessing, victory, and peace.

But it’s not yet too late. Didn’t God say that if His people whom He has called will humble themselves, and pray and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways, then He will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14)?

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Strengthen your faith with Christian Apparels.

Bringing Our Offerings To God

The third reference to fear says that we should “bring presents to Him who ought to be feared” (Psalm 76:11). We make vows to God and fulfill them not because we fear that He might take all of His provisions back. (Note: We need to always remember that everything we have and possess belongs to God as Psalm 24:1 and 1 Corinthians 10:26 say.)

Rather, we present to God our gifts to show our love and respect to Him. But God wants us to bring Him more than offerings. He wants our time and talent in Bible study, prayer, and service. God is not that interested in our money than He is in what we can do to further His Kingdom on earth.

God cares a lot more about souls that will be ushered into His Kingdom through our small acts of kindness towards our fellowmen than any amount we put into the offering basket. And everything we do must be aimed at pleasing our Lord who has called us into His family, rather than the honor and recognition we could get from anyone.

For instance, when we cook a pot of chicken soup for a neighbor or fix a flat tire for a stranger, we should do it as if the Lord Himself were receiving the gift (Colossians 3:23-24).

Fear God, Not Circumstances

They say that the phrase, “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid” appears 365 times in the Bible. That’s one for each day of the year!

Are you afraid of lack? Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). He also said, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

If we are serving God with our whole heart, we have nothing to fear. If we honor God with our gifts, talents, and time, we have nothing to fear. If we love Him enough to put Him first in our lives, we have nothing to fear. If we have given Him our heart, we have nothing to fear.

Fear God & Keep His Commandments

The book of Ecclesiastes ends where the book of Proverbs begins, with an admonition for us to fear God (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

The fear of the Lord is that attitude of reverence and awe that His people show to Him because they love Him and respect His power and His greatness. The person who fears God will pay attention to His Word and obey it.

Why is the Fear of the Lord the Beginning of Knowledge

He or she will not tempt the Lord by deliberately disobeying or by playing with sin. An unholy fear makes people run away from God, but a holy fear brings them to their knees in loving submission to God.

The fear of the Lord must result in obedient living, otherwise, that “fear” is only a sham. The dedicated believer will want to spend time daily in Scripture, getting to know the Father better, and discovering His will.

Closing Words

If we truly “fear” the Lord, we acknowledge from our hearts that He’s the Creator, we’re the creatures; He’s the Father, we’re His children; He’s the Master, we’re the servants.

It means respecting God for who He is, listening carefully to what He says, and obeying His Word, knowing that our disobedience displeases Him, breaks our fellowship with Him, and invites His chastening.

Once again, the fear of the Lord is not the servile fear of the slave before the master but the reverential and respectful fear of the child before his parents.

Do you fear the Lord? Does it impel you to regard Him with respect, reverence, and awe?


Recommended Resource: Where Wisdom Begins: Understanding the Fear of the Lord by Derek Prince

Where Wisdom Begins - Derek PrinceThe Bible says fear of the Lord is the “beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10) and the “beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). Proverbs 14:27 even calls it a “fountain of life!”

But do people really understand what is meant by the “fear of the Lord?”

Drastically different from the frightful trembling we feel in response to a threatening person or dangerous situation, the “fear of the Lord” is a deep sense of reverence and awe of the One who created us, loves us, and saved us.

With comforting words of instruction, renowned Bible scholar Derek Prince explains:

  • How the fear of the Lord differs from other types of fear
  • How to gain wisdom and understanding, which are rooted in the fear of the Lord
  • How to overcome pride in order to submit to Christ and to others
  • How to stand in awe of God’s holiness

Experience peace and confidence by cultivating the fear of the Lord, the place Where Wisdom Begins!

What is the Doctrine of Purgatory?

What is the Doctrine of Purgatory?

The Bible teaches that death closes the period of probation that all of us have here on earth and after death comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). All those who die will spend eternity in heaven or hell.

But before we reach our final destination, everyone is in a state of conscious existence after death. Believers are in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23; Luke 23:43) while unbelievers are not.

However, certain unbiblical views of the intermediate state have arisen. One of them is the doctrine of purgatory held by the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

Origin of the Doctrine of Purgatory

In Roman Catholic teaching, purgatory is the place where the souls of believers go to be further purified from sin until they are ready to be admitted into heaven. Thus, they have to go to halfway place between earth and heaven, that is, purgatory.

The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church believe that not every Christian who dies goes immediately to heaven. The only people who enter heaven immediately are some martyrs and other highly favored individuals. Even if the person dies at peace with the church, if they are not perfect, they have to go through a time of purging.

Most Christians who are not good enough to go straight to heaven have to go through a time of purging. Although these people have been forgiven of their sins, they are still liable to experience some temporary punishment before their admittance to heaven.

They must be properly freed from the blemish of some defects they had received after baptism and they must work out their salvation in purgatory through suffering and a process of purification in this place. According to this view, the sufferings of purgatory are given to God in substitute for the punishment for sins that believers should have received in time but did not.

Once their sins have been sufficiently purged, they can then enter the perfection of heaven.

Further Teachings About Purgatory

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the suffering in purgatory is proportionate to the sins committed in this life. The time spent can vary from a relatively short period, such as a few hours, to thousands of years. However, there is no consensus as to the duration of stay in purgatory or the type of punishment one receives.

While Christians must spend time in purgatory, it supposedly can be lessened by a number of things. The living can do services and give gifts to the church to shorten the time of their loved one. This included purchasing indulgences or certificates signed by the pope which can forgive sin. This indicates that the pope on earth has some jurisdiction in the next world.

Prayer by priests shortens the time spent in Purgatory
Photo Credits: Crux Now

Prayers by priests as well as having masses in the name of the dead can also shorten the time a person spends in purgatory. The dead can do nothing in purgatory to help themselves. It is only their living friends and loved ones who can help them. They are completely dependent upon them to shorten their stay in this place of purging.

Purgatory is a temporary place that will end when the last judgment occurs. Like death and Hades, it will be thrown into the lake of fire. From that time forward, no more suffering will be necessary because everyone will be perfected, ready to enter heaven.

Is Purgatory in the Bible?

Will Christians have to suffer for their sins once this life is over? What does the Scripture say?

Although the Bible speaks of fire as purification, it does not mention a purifying process between death and resurrection that the believer must encounter. It’s not only that purgatory has no biblical basis but it also contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ.

This, however, has not stopped people from attempting to find biblical support for this non-biblical doctrine. Let us look at some of the passages they use and then respond to them.

1. Isaiah 4:4

“When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning.”

Argument: Burning, in this context, refers to the fires of judgment; a hint of the doctrine of purgatory.

Response: Isaiah’s reference has nothing to do with purgatory. It speaks of God refining people in this life, not the next. Therefore, this is not a reference to purging the believer after this life is over so they can eventually enter into the presence of the Lord.

2. Matthew 5:25-26

“Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary delivers you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.”

Argument: Jesus’ statement in the Sermon on the Mount teaches that prison is purgatory, and the last penny refers to the complete payment of the purgation of saints.

Response: Paying the last penny has nothing to do with paying for sin in the next life.

In Roman law, the plaintiff could bring the accused along with him to the judge. The defendant could, however, settle the matter on any terms with the plaintiff as they proceeded to the tribunal.

However, once they reached the tribunal the issue would be settled according to the law. Jesus is encouraging people to settle their differences before it reaches the judge. There is nothing here that remotely suggests a purgatory.

3. Matthew 12:32

“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

Argument: This verse has an indirect reference to purgatory seeing that Jesus left open the possibility of forgiveness in the next world.

Response: This passage compares this world and the next and supposedly hints at forgiveness in the next world. However, the phrase “this age or in the age to come” was a Hebrew phrase meaning “never.”

If we look at the other gospels which give this same account, the phrase is omitted. This is because Mark and Luke are writing for Gentiles. Besides, they each state that the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven (Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10).

Nowhere does it state, or imply that forgiveness can be achieved in the next life. Jesus said that those who commit the unpardonable sin can never receive forgiveness in this age or in the age to come. Never means never!

The subject in Matthew 12:32 is the “unpardonable sin.” Consequently, it has nothing to do with purgatory.


4. Matthew 18:34

“And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.”

Argument: This is a reference to the suffering in purgatory. People will remain there and suffer torture until they pay their entire debt for the sins they have committed. They will not be able to leave until their debt is paid.

Response: This is a parable about forgiving others. The torture which the man received was in this life, not the next. The debt he owed was to be paid in this world.

Also, those believers who do not forgive others will suffer in this present life, not in the afterlife. They may lose some of their reward in heaven but they will not be tortured for their lack of forgiveness because Jesus Christ has already paid for those sins.

5. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

“According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

“Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.”

“If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

Argument: This passage speaks of the believer being refined by fire which is a clear indication of a refining place called purgatory. Once refined, the believer can enter the presence of the Lord.

Response: “He will be saved through fire” does not mean he shall be kept alive amid hell-fire. The fire deals with the works of a person, not their character. Some of their works will receive a reward while other of their works will not.

In addition, this testing by fire occurs on judgment day, not in the intermediate state. Judgment day occurs after the person is raised from the dead. Again, we find no purgatory here.

6. 2 Maccabees 12:41-42, 45 (NRSV)

“So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; and they turned to supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen.”

“But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead so that they might be delivered from their sin.”

Argument: This passage clearly states that some type of sacrifice can be offered for the dead. The sacrifices and prayers of the living can help those who have died and are suffering in purgatory.

Response: The teaching of a purgatory found in 2 Maccabees has no relevance at all for believers. The reason is that 2 Maccabees as well as all the apocryphal books are not accepted as “inspired” and therefore should not be taken as an authoritative source of doctrine.

Note: It is in this book that the practice of praying for the dead started.

Believers are in God's presence at the moment of death a

The Doctrine of Purgatory is Unbiblical

Purgatory, a supposed place which exists somewhere between earth and heaven where the righteous are purged of any sins which have not been paid for so they can enter heaven, has absolutely no biblical basis. No such belief is taught or even hinted at.

If the Bible is our final authority on all matters of belief and practice then the fact that the doctrine of purgatory is absent reveals that no such place exists.

Furthermore, the idea of purgatory negates the promises of God that the believer can look forward to being in His joyous presence immediately upon death. Rather they have to look forward to a judgment by fire of undetermined length and character. This contradicts direct statements of Scripture that the believers are immediately with Him.

Also, purgatory robs the believer of any assurance of salvation. Since salvation is looked at as a process, rather than a past completed act, believers can never be assured that they have been completely saved from their sins. Neither can they know how much time they have to be purged before entering heaven.

It would seem to give a very uneasy feeling for those who believe purgatory lies ahead. There is really no assurance about anything.

Conclusion

The doctrine of purgatory, the teaching that people must be purged of their sins after they die before they can enter heaven, is indeed popular in many circles but is unbiblical.

Yes, there is a need for the purging of our sins before we can enter heaven, for without holiness none of us can see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). However, the Bible plainly states that this has already happened in the past. We have been purged. Jesus Christ has taken upon Himself the penalty for all of our sins. It is a past completed act. We cannot add to it. All that we can do is accept it by faith. This is what allows us to enter into heaven.

Scripture stresses that we can do absolutely nothing to gain entrance to heaven. Our suffering is meaningless as far as taking away sins is concerned. We have zero ability to get to heaven. Jesus Christ has done it all. He is the only One who can do anything about it. We cannot earn eternal life by anything that we do or say. We are granted eternal life by belief in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 10:9).

There is a hell where people pay for their own sins and this is the only place in the next world where sins can be paid for. Unless our sins are taken care of in this life by Christ, we will have to pay for them in the next life. However, the payment will not be in a temporary place called purgatory but rather in a permanent place called the lake of fire, hell (Revelation 20:14-15, 21:8).


References:

1) What Happens One Second After We Die? by Don Stewart

2) Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Recommended Resource: Four Views on Hell: Second Edition (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Four Views on Hell: Second Edition (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) Recent years have seen much controversy regarding hell: Do we go to heaven or hell when we die? Or do we cease to exist? Are believers and unbelievers ultimately saved in the end?

This second edition of Four Views on Hell, featuring all new contributors, highlights why the church still needs to wrestle with the doctrine of hell.

In the familiar counterpoints format, four leading scholars introduce us to the current views on eternal judgment, with particular attention being given to the new voices that have entered the debate.

Contributors and views include:

  • Denny Burk: Eternal Conscious Torment
  • John Stackhouse: Annihilationism (Conditional Immortality)
  • Robin Parry: Universalism (Ultimate Reconciliation)
  • Jerry Walls: Purgatory

General Editor Preston Sprinkle concludes the discussion by evaluating each view, noting significant points of exchange between the essayists. The interactive nature of the volume allows the reader to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of each view and come to an informed conclusion.

In the World but Not of this World

In the World but Not of this World

While teaching believers about the essential doctrines of the faith, the apostle Paul never failed to admonish them how to live their lives as followers of Christ. Clearly, Paul had a constant concern for Christians living in the world while remaining free from the world.

Bible Verse: Ephesians 4:17-18

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”

In Ephesians 4:17-23, Paul used action words, such as walk, put off, and put on to describe the intentional way in which believers in Jesus Christ should live. Paul never described a passive faith but a faith that proved itself in action.

Putting Off the Old Man

When I was first ushered into my church family, I often hear our senior minister say, “We are still in the world but we should not be of this world.” And he always emphasizes how we as believers should no longer be conformed to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2), simply because we are not citizens of planet earth but heaven (Philippians 3:20).

I never realized it in the beginning but as I listened to God’s Word through my church leaders and began reading the Bible, all these biblical truths started to sink in. Christians should start living out their faith.

Paul wrote, “You should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk” (Ephesians 4:17). Looks like he just re-worded what he told the Roman church (Romans 12:2). Paul is saying that Christians are not to imitate the life of the unsaved people around them or pattern their lifestyles on them.

These people are dead because of their disobedience and their many sins (Ephesians 2:1), while the believers have been raised from the dead and been given eternal life in Christ.

Paul went on to describe this “walk” as a way of thinking – the futility of their mind” – and behaving – given themselves over to licentiousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:17, 19). Their thinking and ways were futile and depraved because they were so darkened in their understanding and had hard hearts.

In general, unrepentant sinners are unable to recognize their sinful ways, their rebellion against God, and the ultimate consequences of their sins: eternal condemnation.

In the World Out of this World

Loving the World and Everything in It

We cannot deny the influence of the world especially with social media and the entertainment industry. As it has always been, the world dictates what is acceptable and what is not. The world almost always controls the way people think, how they should dress up and carry themselves in public.

But the Bible gives a strong warning for Christians not to love the world or anything that is in it because everything that this world has to offer is not from God (1 John 2:15-17). Loving the world and living as the world does may gain us some rewards such as honor, prestige, and comfort. But even the best earthly rewards last only as long as we live.

Another downside to loving the world and everything in it is that love for the world is incompatible with love for the Father. So, if one claims to love both God and the world, there must be something wrong with his love for the Father.

The New Life in Christ

The Christian life must go beyond head knowledge. Of course, learning Christ must include head knowledge. But it must also include the ability to set our mind on the right things that will eventually lead us to live for and with Christ.

Christians should no longer lead a destructive, sinful lifestyle. They have been redeemed from the power of sin and even death, the penalty of sin. Through Jesus’ work on the cross, they have been reconciled to God and the Father and can obtain power from Him to resist temptation.

Subsequently, those who have truly accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord should put off their sinful habits (Ephesians 4:22), renew their minds (Ephesians 4:23; Romans 12:2), and put on the new nature created by God for true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).

Conclusion

Paul’s description of the life of a believer in Ephesians reveals a marvelous process, in which God works within a believer to change him or her. Relying on Jesus Christ’s saving works for us does not mean that we are inactive.

From a life filled with sin and futile efforts to gain merit before God, our lives can be transformed by our relationship with God (which has been made possible through Jesus). As Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9, it is only “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

With Christ’s help, we can learn how to put on the “new man” who He freely provides to all who trust in Him, and will enable us to live in this world without forgetting that we are not of this world anymore.