Category: Theology

The Rapture Mystery Revealed

The Rapture Mystery Revealed

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

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

The Dead Will Rise

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

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

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

Resurrection of the Dead

The Two Resurrections

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

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

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

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

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

The Mystery Revealed

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

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

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

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

Victors in Christ

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

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

Hallelujah, even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

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

Christ Descends, Christians Ascend

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

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

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

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

Concluding Words

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

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

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

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

Revealing the Mystery of the Rapture

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

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

Are you rapture-ready?


References:

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

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

The Power of Great Faith

The Power of Great Faith

The great faith of the centurion in Matthew 8:5-13 is one of the well-known stories in the Bible on the power of faith to heal. This centurion was a man of power and influence. Everything about this officer should have prevented him from coming to Jesus.

The centurion was a professional soldier, and Jesus was a man of peace. He was a Gentile, and Jesus was a Jew. Yet, when this one centurion’s servant became ill, he sought help from the Great Physician. Why?

It’s because this soldier had one thing working for him. He was a man of great faith. He understood that Jesus, like himself, had authority and was under authority. All Christ had to do was speak the word, and the disease would obey Him the way a soldier obeyed his officer.

Faith to Heal

When the centurion came to Jesus asking for help, Jesus said that He would come to his house to heal his servant (Matthew 8:5-7). But the centurion said Jesus did not have to come to his house. “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8).

Jesus marveled and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” (Matthew 8:10)! And his servant was healed that same hour.

So, you see, faith is not only a saving faith but a healing faith. The Word of God promises divine healing and miracles (Psalm 107:20).

The Power of Great Faith

Jesus Promises Healing

In the first promise of healing, the Lord said this in Exodus 15:26:

“If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”

David said that God’s medicare program was so successful for the Israelites that …

“He also brought them out with silver and gold, and there was none feeble among His tribes” (Psalm 105:37).

The Agent of Healing

Healing is not a result of wishful thinking. The centurion didn’t wish healing upon his servant. Instead, he sought out the One who had the power to heal, Jesus the Son of God.

We read this in Isaiah 53:4-5.

“Surely, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes, we are healed.”

The words borne and carry denote more than sympathy. They represent actual substitution and the removal of the thing being borne. When Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), death and all its power were conquered, including the power of sickness. Disease is subservient to Jesus.

The healings of Jesus were continuous. Jesus never turned away anyone seeking healing.

“When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:16-17).

Healings in the Church Today

Does Jesus’ ministry of healing continue until today? This is the question that many Christians are asking. Let us look at what Scriptures say about this.

To the church, Jesus said this:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:12-13).

This promise has never been rescinded. At the beginning of the New Testament church, this power was committed not only to the apostles, who would soon pass away. It was also passed on to the elders (James 5:14).

People could be healed in every church where elders would pray the prayer of faith and anoint with oil in the name of Jesus. The power of Jesus to heal has never been diminished. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 12:8).

The centurion said, “Speak a word, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8). We, too, can call on Jesus to heal us. We call on Jesus and exercise great faith because the power of great faith to heal is still at work today.

Does God Always Heal?

If God still works miracles today and His healing ministry continues, why is it that some people don’t get healed? Perhaps you know somebody who was terminally ill and had been prayed over many times but did not receive their healing.

I used to have this question too. I wondered why God heals some and lets the others succumb to death. What could be God’s basis for deciding who gets healed and who doesn’t?

I wrote an article as to why doesn’t God heal everyone who asks in faith for healing. In it, I shared the story of a former Muslim who came to faith in Christ. After studying and comparing the Quran and the Bible, he concluded that the evidence for Christianity is more compelling.

You can read all about it here.

At the end of the day, we need to acknowledge that God is sovereign. We may not have the answers to all our questions but we need to trust God for He knows what He is doing.

Closing Thoughts

Twice the Gospels record that Jesus was amazed (or marveled) at the faith of the centurion: 1) Matthew 8:10-12 and in Luke 7:9 and 2) at the unbelief of the Jews (Mark 6:6).

This is an early indication that the Jews would not believe, but the Gentiles would. Also, in both of these miracles, our Lord healed from a distance. This was a reminder of the spiritual position of the Gentiles “being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise” (Ephesians 2:12).

Praise God for healing; praise God for miracles!

How is your faith? Can you say with confidence that you have great faith? The kind of faith that heals?


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: Faith Believing in the God Who Works on Your Behalf by Yonggi Cho and Wayde Goodall

Faith by Yonggi Cho and Wayde Goodall What can we learn from the Scriptures about how to trust God no matter what, and believe in something that is not yet seen?

As a young man with only weeks to live, Yonggi Cho was healed of terminal illness, saw the resurrected Jesus, and quickly began sharing God’s hope with others. Those listeners became the world’s largest church.

In Faith, Pastor Cho and Dr. Wayde Goodall share how to:

  • Understand and grow in your faith.
  • Walk with the Holy Spirit and produce the fruit of the Spirit.
  • Overcome mistakes and continue to depend on Christ in times of discouragement.
  • Believe for and trust God’s supernatural power.
  • Use every situation to accomplish tremendous things for God’s kingdom.

For our lives to work, we need faith—the kind of faith that gives birth to hope and chooses to believe in every circumstance. God will answer prayer, heal, and perform signs and wonders as we walk daily by faith. You can trust God as your source, security, and assurance.

What is the Millennial Reign?

What is the Millennial Reign?

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

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

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

Ten Key Texts on the Millennium

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

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

Ten Key OT Texts on the Millennium

7 Key Titles of the Millennium

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

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

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

The Purpose of the Millennium

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

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

1. To Reward the Faithful

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

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

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

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

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

2. To Redeem Creation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3. To Realize the Biblical Covenants

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

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

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

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

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

A Sneak Peek at the Millennium

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

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

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

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

Peace

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

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

Joy

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

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

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

Holiness

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

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

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

Glory

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

Justice or Righteousness

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

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

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

Full Knowledge

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

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

Absence of Sickness and Deformity

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

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

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

The Millennial Reign of Christ

Universal Worship of God

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

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

Economic Prosperity

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

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

The Presence of God

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

How well are we doing?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is the Restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2?

Who is the Restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2?

2 Thessalonians 2 describes the revelation of “the man of sin,” who is believed to be the Antichrist. Paul tells us some of the things he will do, but he says that for now, his identity remains secret until the restrainer is taken out of the way.

But who or what is the restrainer mentioned by the apostle in verses 6 and 7 that is holding back the man of sin from being revealed?

Bible Verse: 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7

“And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”

The Restrainer is the Spirit-Indwelt Church

The Identity of the Restrainer

We know that God is at work restraining evil in general. But the exact identity of the restrainer has baffled expositors with multiple solutions offered. Paul must have told the church at Thessalonica who the restrainer was. He says, “And now you know what is restraining…” (2 Thessalonians 2:6).

However, he does not tell us in this or any other of his letters. What he tells us is that the restrainer is at work until He is taken out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:7b).

So, who is this person, or what kind of entity is it that is restraining the appearance of the Antichrist?

Down through the centuries many candidates have been suggested:

  • The Roman Empire
  • The Jewish State
  • The Apostle Paul
  • The Preaching of the Gospel
  • Human Government
  • Satan
  • Elijah
  • An Unknown Heavenly Being
  • Michael the Archangel
  • The Holy Spirit
  • The Church

Clues to the Identity of the Restrainer

Saint Augustine was transparent when he confessed not knowing who the restrainer is. But several clues can help us identify the “one who is holding back.”

First, the restrainer holds back the man of sin. Second, the restrainer is referred to with both neuter and masculine verbs (participles). The phrase “what is restraining” uses a neuter verb, suggesting a principle. The phrase “He who now restrains” uses a masculine verb, suggesting a person.

Third, whatever the restrainer is, he or it must be removable. Last, the restrainer must be powerful to hold back the outbreak of evil under the Antichrist.

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These four clues permit only one satisfactory identification for the restrainer – God Himself. In this case, it is God the Holy Spirit who is the restrainer. But that still leaves some loose ends. Why is the Holy Spirit referred to as both a principle and as a person – like a what and a who?

And how can the Holy Spirit, who is omnipresent, be removed from the earth? These are legitimate questions. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent and cannot be removed from the earth.

Moreover, millions of people will be saved during the Tribulation (Revelation 7:9-14). The convicting, drawing, regenerating ministry of the Holy Spirit is essential for anyone to be saved both now and in the Tribulation. (See John 3:5; 16:7-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3.)

So, how can the Holy Spirit be the restrainer? The answer is that the Holy Spirit is at work during this age in and through the church.

The Spirit-Indwelt Church

There are four key reasons for identifying the restrainer to be the church indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

First, this restrainer requires omnipotent power. Second, this view adequately explains the change in gender – from neuter to masculine (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7). In Greek the word pneuma (Spirit) is neuter. But the Holy Spirit is also consistently referred to by the masculine pronoun He, especially in John 14–16.

Third, Scripture speaks of the Holy Spirit as restraining sin and evil in the world (Genesis 6:3) and the heart of the believer (Galatians 5:16-17). Finally, the Holy Spirit uses the church and its proclamation and portrayal of the gospel as the primary instrument in this age to restrain evil.

We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). We are the temple of the Holy Spirit both individually and corporately (1 Corinthians 3:17; 6:19; Ephesians 2:21-22).

The restrainer then is the work of the Holy Spirit through His people in this present age. Amazingly, our present age is described as the age of restraint. The presence of believers in the world exerts a powerful influence upon the wicked world.

Worship with the City Harvest Church with their song “Come Holy Spirit.”

The Removal of the Restrainer

The Rapture will change everything. When the rapture occurs, the Spirit-indwelt church and its restraining influence will be removed. That will release the world to sin as it never has before.

Christians who stand for civic righteousness and law and order will no longer be present exerting their influence. The church’s salt and light will be extracted from the earth. For a time at least, only unsaved people will hold government office. Satan will be able to put his plan into full swing by bringing his man onto center stage to take control of the world.

Evil will erupt and expand unchecked beyond anything known in the history of man. It will be like the removal of a huge dam. The world will be inundated with evil of unimaginable scope and severity.

However, the Holy Spirit’s return to heaven will not be a complete withdrawal from the earth, but a reverse Pentecost of sorts. His activity will be like it was in the Old Testament.

Donald Grey Barnhouse says this:

“During the Great Tribulation, the Holy Spirit will still be here on earth, of course! How can you get rid of God? But He will not be indwelling believers as He does now. Rather, He will revert to His Old Testament ministry of coming upon special people.”

Conclusion

The Holy Spirit (that indwells the believers) is hindering, standing in the way, and restraining the powers of evil. Until He is taken out of the way, and immediately the man of sin (the lawless one) then shall be revealed.

As soon as the church is removed from this world, there will be no more restraining forces against evil. As a result, the man of sin will take over using the powers that will be given to him by Satan. The world will be plunged into darkness such as the world has never seen before, or will ever see again.

The forces of darkness are at work now. But the presence of the Holy Spirit in the church is keeping Satan from taking absolute control over all the earth.


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

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

The end times have seen a great amount of interest within the last two decades, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive overview of biblical prophecy and eschatology for more than five decades.

Mark Hitchcock’s book is that comprehensive resource for the twenty-first century The End will do for eschatology what Randy Alcorn’s Heaven did for people’s understanding of heaven.

It will provide a solid biblical foundation for Christians to explore the essential truths around this topic―the end of the world.

The Glorification of the Believers

The Glorification of the Believers

Resurrection Sunday is a day that Christians all around the world celebrate. Why? That’s because Jesus’ resurrection guarantees believers that they too will be resurrected. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:12, 20, 52; Acts 24:16).

This doctrine is known as the glorification of the believers (Romans 8:30). When Christ redeemed us, He did not just redeem our spirits (or souls)—he redeemed us as whole persons, and this includes the redemption of our bodies.

Therefore, the application of Christ’s work of redemption to us will not be complete until our bodies are entirely set free from the effects of the fall and brought to that state of perfection for which God created them.

However, the redemption of our bodies will only occur when Christ returns and raises our bodies from the dead. Paul says we eagerly wait for the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23).

The Glorification of the Believers

Redemption of the Believer

The primary New Testament passage on glorification or the resurrection of the body is 1 Corinthians 15:22–23.

Paul discusses the nature of the resurrection body in some detail in 1 Corinthians 15:35-50. He then concludes by saying that not all Christians will die. Rather, some will remain alive when Christ returns and will have their bodies instantaneously changed into new, resurrection bodies. These bodies can never grow old or weak and can never die (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

Paul further explains in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 that the souls of those who have died and gone to be with Christ will come back and be joined with their bodies on that day, for Christ will bring them with him.

Several other New Testament passages that affirm the reality of the doctrine of glorification include John 5:28-29; John 6:39-40, 44, 54; Romans 8:11, and 2 Corinthians 5:1-10.

Resurrection in the Old Testament

Is there any evidence of hope in a future resurrection of the body in the Old Testament? Yes!

First, even before Jesus was raised from the dead, the New Testament indicates that many Jewish people living at the time of Christ had some hope of a future bodily resurrection (John 11:23-24; Acts 24:15).

Hebrews 11:10 tells us that “Abraham waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” We also read that many Old Testament saints “died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them …” (Hebrews 11:13–16).

The author even says that Abraham “concluded that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead” (Hebrews 11:19).

When we look at the actual teachings of the Old Testament itself, there are indications that Old Testament authors had a strong expectation of the resurrection to come in the future. See Job 19:25-26; Psalm 49:15; 73:24-25; Proverbs 23:13-14; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2.

The Believer’s Resurrection Body

If Christ will raise our bodies from the dead when He returns, and if our bodies will be like His resurrection body (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23, 49; Philippians 3:21), then what will our resurrection bodies be like?

Imperishable

The fact that our new bodies will be “imperishable” means that they will not wear out or grow old or ever be subject to any kind of sickness or disease. They will be completely healthy and strong forever.

Moreover, since the gradual process of aging is part of the process by which our bodies now are subject to “corruption,” it is appropriate to think that our resurrection bodies will have no sign of aging, but will have the characteristics of youthful but mature manhood or womanhood forever.


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.


There will be no evidence of disease or injury, for all will be made perfect. Our resurrection bodies will show the fulfillment of God’s perfect wisdom in creating us as human beings who are the pinnacle of His creation and the appropriate bearers of His likeness and image.

In these resurrection bodies, we will see humanity as God intended it to be.

Raised in Glory

Paul also says our bodies will be raised “in glory.”

When this term is contrasted with “dishonor,” as it is here, there is a suggestion of the beauty or the attractiveness of appearance that our bodies will have. They will no longer be “dishonorable” or unattractive but will look “glorious” in their beauty.

Moreover, because the word “glory” is so frequently used in Scripture of the bright shining radiance that surrounds the presence of God Himself, this term suggests that there will also be a kind of brightness or radiance surrounding our bodies.

That will be appropriate outward evidence of the position of exaltation and rule over all creation that God has given to us (Matthew 13:43; Daniel 12:3).

Some suggest that these statements might be understood metaphorically. But the hints of the age to come that were seen in the shining of the glory of God from the face of Moses (Exodus 34:35), and, in a much greater way, the bright light that shone from Jesus at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:2), together with the fact that we will bear the image of Christ and be like Him (1 Corinthians 15:49), combine to suggest that there will be a visible brightness or radiance that surrounds us when we are in our resurrection bodies.

Raised in Power

Our bodies will also be raised “in power” (1 Corinthians 15:43), which is in contrast to the “weakness” which we see in our bodies now.

Our resurrection bodies will not only be free from disease and aging, but they will also be given fullness of strength and power. Here on earth, we find that the spirit sometimes is willing but the body is weak. Some devout believers cannot as much attend worship services because of bodily affliction. But in heaven, we will all have strong bodies.

We will have complete human power and strength – the strength that God intended human beings to have in their bodies when He created them. It will therefore be a strength that is sufficient to do all that we desire to do in conformity with the will of God.

Spiritual Body

Finally, Paul says that the body is raised a “spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:44).

We must make clear that the phrase “a spiritual body” does not so much as infer that the resurrection body will be composed of intangible substance.

Rather, it means that while on earth, we are occupied to a greater degree with the natural body. Our bodies are engaged chiefly with the activities and the environment of earth.

In our resurrection bodies, we will be occupied with all that pertains to God and godliness. In other words, the spiritual life of man prevails.

Redemption of the Believer's Body

Paul said, “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me” (Romans 7:21, NIV). There was no question that he was truly God’s child by the transforming power of the Spirit. But the natural man was still very much alive in him.

Christians are hindered by the attitude of the natural toward the spiritual. In our resurrected bodies, the higher principles in us will predominate and the full tide of spiritual life will be in control.

The point is that we follow Jesus in His resurrection by sharing the same kind of body that he has, namely, a spiritual and heavenly one.

Conclusion

When Christ returns, He will give us new resurrection bodies to be like His resurrection body (1 John 3:2). 

Although the emphasis of Scripture is on the fact that believers will experience a bodily resurrection, some passages state that unbelievers will also be raised from the dead, but that they will face the final judgment at the time they are raised.

Jesus clearly teaches that “those who have done evil” will come forth “to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:29). Paul also said that he believed “that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15; Matt. 25:31–46; Daniel 12:2).


Reference: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Getting Ready for the Return of Christ

Getting Ready for the Return of Christ

Scriptures teach that one day Christ will return to earth. Yes, our Lord will come for the believers. But while we wait, what should we be doing?

We can never be sure when God’s purpose for His church will be completed. Nevertheless, we must remain obedient to our Lord’s commands regarding the church.

Jesus made this clear to His disciples before He ascended into heaven. When they asked Him if He was going to restore the kingdom of Israel at that time, Jesus answered said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7).

In Jesus’ statement, two facts are clear: (1) the date has been set; and (2) we aren’t supposed to know it because we have a responsibility to fulfill in the meantime.

The Certainty of Christ’s Return

After Jesus affirmed His disciples of the future restoration of the nation of Israel, He gave them the Great Commission. He told His disciples they would be “empowered by the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Then, to their amazement, He ascended into heaven, leaving them gazing intently into the sky. Two men in white linen (probably angels) appeared and asked, “Why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

John 14:3 (NKJV)

All too often, Christians today are like the early disciples. We spend more time gazing into the sky and speculating about the Lord’s return than we do serving Him. The angels reminded the disciples that the Lord is sure to return. Thus, we should not waste time and energy worrying about when or whether Christ will return.

Instead, we must be confident that He is coming again on schedule, and get down to doing the Father’s business while we wait.

What Should We Be Doing?

Jesus has left instructions about what we are to do while we await His coming.

1. Witness for Christ Everywhere We Go

In the same way that our Lord told His disciples to be His witnesses everywhere they go, even to the farthest ends of the earth (Acts 1:8), we are also commanded to witness to everyone we come into contact with.

Every opportunity that God gives us, let us share the good news about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross with our family, relatives, friends, colleagues, and to everyone that we encounter along the way.

A video of a cab driver witnessing to his passengers went viral. As the two students sat comfortably behind him, he started sharing with them the love of God. He told them that only Jesus has the solution to all the problems and chaos that are going on around us.

Praise God for the life of this cab driver. May we be encouraged by his boldness and also start sharing the love of God with others.

Witnessing for Christ

2. Go into All the World and Preach the Gospel

This command in Mark 16:15 emphasizes the missionary nature of the church’s ministry during the present era. We are to take the gospel to the whole world.

This does not necessarily mean that we all have to become missionaries, go to the farthest or remotest places on earth, and pioneer a church. We can start right where we are.

It may not always be easy to share our faith with others because some people tend to be non-receptive and sometimes hostile towards the gospel. I heard some Christians say the best tool for evangelism is developing a relationship with the person we want to evangelize.

When people see that we truly care about them and we’re not just trying to convert them, eventually they will

3. Make Disciples of All Nations and Baptize Them

In Matthew 28:19, Jesus said all believers are to “go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Making converts and discipling them in their walk with God is a major emphasis of the church’s mission. We don’t stop at getting people to repent of their sins and receive Jesus’ free gift of salvation.

New converts must be taught the whole counsel of God, how to live by God’s will, and to grow in their spiritual walk.

Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit

4. Build the Church

Jesus told His disciples that He would build His church with such power that the “gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

We usually act as though hell was attacking the church and we were trying to survive. But remember, you don’t attack with gates. Rather, you defend with them. Jesus portrayed the church as being on the offensive and hell on the defensive.

We build the church by using our God-given gifts and skills to serve God and our fellow believers in Jesus. The apostle Paul said this to the church in Ephesus:

“And He (Jesus) Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).

5. Occupy till Jesus Comes

In the parable of the talents (Luke 19:13), Jesus said the servants were to put their master’s money to work until the master returned. Likewise, we are to stay busy with the Master’s business until He returns.

This means Christians need to keep working for the expansion of the Kingdom of God on earth. Yes, we are to take care of our families, take our jobs and businesses seriously. But we must not let worldly cares and worries take our focus off what matters most – the Father’s business.

Christian Jewelry and Wall Decors - Lord's Guidance

6. Remain Faithful Until He Returns

Our Lord concluded His prophetic message in the Olivet Discourse by urging the disciples to continue in faithful and wise service even though He might be gone for a long time (Matthew 24:45-51; 25:14-21).

As I said earlier, we do not know the exact time of Christ’s return; we do not even know how long it will take before He comes. But we are to continue walking in obedience to God and be faithful stewards over what He has entrusted to us.

Let us not be like the servant who starts beating his fellow servants, ate and drank with the drunkards because he thought his master delayed his coming (Matthew 24:48-49).

Getting Ready for Christ’s Return

Our strongest encouragement to live right until Jesus comes is the hope of His second coming. The apostle John said, “Abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28).

He then goes on to say, “We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

The fact that we will face our Lord when He comes again is the ultimate incentive for us to live right.

How do we prepare to meet the Lord when He comes for His bride?

1. Know Jesus Personally

The whole purpose of our Lord’s coming was to die as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. He came to pay the price for our sins so that we might be forgiven and released from the penalty of eternal death.

Jesus is called the Redeemer because He has freed us from God’s judgment against our sin. Peter said we have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” – John 1:12

2. Receive Jesus as Your Savior

We cannot earn salvation by our good works, nor is it something we deserve. It must be received as a gift from God. The Bible says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).

The gospel – the good news – is the message that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The invitation of the gospel calls us to personal faith in those facts.

The Bible says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).

Final Words

Many things demand our attention in life. Many voices are calling to us and many images flash across the screens of our minds. But no matter what our focus in life, one thing is certain. All of us will face death at some point. We cannot avoid it.

There is no better time to settle the question of your eternal destiny than right now. The clock of human history is ticking away. It just keeps on ticking continually and relentlessly, moving us closer to the end of the age.

John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Would you let Him take away your sin? Bow your heart, soul, and mind before Him, and ask Him to save you right now.

Don’t gamble with your eternal destiny. Your time may well be running out. Make sure you are ready when Jesus comes, “for yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37).


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

Can We Still Believe in the RaptureChristian Fiction … or Biblical Fact?

Today, the hope that all believers on earth will be “caught up” to heaven is being challenged in new waves of criticism. Is the rapture really taught in the Bible? Can we really expect Jesus to gather up His followers before the Antichrist is revealed?

In this well-reasoned and thorough defense, prophecy authors Mark Hitchcock and Ed Hindson examine the concept, context, and consequences of the important and long-expected event known as the rapture. Discover the answers to such questions as…

  • What is the rapture—and is there any historical precedent for it?
  • Why do some believers object to the idea of a rapture?
  • Does the timing of the rapture really make a difference?

As you explore what Scripture says about the end times, you’ll get a grander glimpse of your glorious future and the deepest hope of every follower of Jesus.

The Exclusivity and Sufficiency of Jesus Christ

The Exclusivity and Sufficiency of Jesus Christ

One of the biggest objections against Christianity is its claim of exclusivity. Christianity asserts that it alone has the truth about God and salvation. In other words, it is the only true worldview. Christianity claims that Jesus Christ is the only way for salvation and His sacrifice on the cross is sufficient to redeem man from eternal destruction.

But how could there be only one true religion? What about the billions of people in the world who are sincerely worshiping God the best way they know how? How could a good God send them to hell for not believing in someone they have never heard of?

Aren’t all religions the same? Some people believe that all religions may be superficially different but fundamentally the same. However, one of the greatest Christian apologists in the twenty-first century said it’s the opposite. He said all religions are fundamentally different and at best superficially the same.

In today’s post, I would like us to take a closer look at one of the most common Bible verses Christians use to defend their claim that salvation can be attained through Jesus and Jesus alone.

Bible Verse: John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

What is Jesus saying here? Whom is He saying these words to? First, we need to read the entire passage beginning from verses 1 to 6 of John chapter 14. It reads:

John 14:1-6

Jesus Comforts His Disciples

Going back to chapter 13, we read the scene where Jesus washes His disciples’ feet. That was before the feast of the Passover when He already knew that His hour had come to go back to the Father (John 13:1).

Jesus then revealed this to His disciples (John 13:33) which made them very sad. So, when we go to chapter 14, we read Jesus comforting them. He tells them to not lose heart because He’s not abandoning them. He is going back to the Father but promises to come back for them once everything in heaven is ready.

Jesus had been preparing His disciples to deal with this event (His leaving them and going back to the Father). Yet, they failed to grasp the reality that it was going to happen sooner than they expected.

Thomas then asks where Jesus was going and how they can know the way (John 14:5). To which Jesus replied, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Christianity’s Exclusivistic Claim

While people who hold to a different worldview criticize Christians for their claim, the truth of the matter is every religion makes an exclusivistic claim. Exclusivism is not only true of Christianity; it’s also true of Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and every other religion. This is why there are no Buddhist Christians or Islamic Hindus.

What makes Christianity different from the rest of these religions? While all the other worldviews hold to a work-based salvation, in Christianity you are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). You are saved by placing your faith in something God has done, not something you can do.

No one can earn their way into heaven no matter how they try to live a good life. No one is good enough. Perhaps, using man’s standards, some would qualify. But based on the standards of God, no one will be able to meet the requirements. The bible says, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).

Jesus is the Way to the Father

Notice that Jesus said He is the way. He did not say, “a way,” which could mean “one in many.” Jesus specifically said He is the way, as in “the one and only.”

Here’s a video of Oprah Winfrey in one episode of her show wherein she denied that Jesus is the only way. Thankfully, someone in her audience boldly argued that what the Bible teaches is clear; that there is one way and only one way and that is through Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to come to the Father?

1. To Obtain His Favor

To come to the Father is to obtain His favor. 

God’s favor generally refers to His acceptance and approval. Well, who does not want God’s approval? Who does not want to make the Father proud? If children do all they can to have their earthly father’s “thumbs up,” how much more do God’s children want to please Him? In short, it’s about what we can do.

But almost everywhere in the New Testament., the word favor is translated as grace. God’s favor is not necessarily material or financial. It’s simply the undeserved kindness of God. We do not have to do anything for God to bestow upon us His blessings

Romans 8:31 says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

2. To have Access to His Throne by Prayer

To come to the Father is to have access to His throne by prayer.

Jesus’ teaching for us to pray in His name is explicit in Scriptures such as John 14:13-14 and John 15:16. By teaching us to pray in His name, Jesus is claiming to be the mediator and reconciler between man and God. It is only through praying in Jesus’ name that believers can approach God.

Paul acknowledged this in 1 Timothy 2:5 when he said, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”

Romans Catholics believe they can pray to Mary, making her a co-mediator and equal with Christ. But there is no biblical support for this. It is only through Jesus that we can approach God’s throne of grace.

3. To Enter His Kingdom

To come to the Father is to finally enter His Kingdom.

Where is the Father and where is His Kingdom? The Father is in heaven. We see this stated in Isaiah 66:1 and repeated in Acts 7:49. However, this does not mean that God’s access is limited.

God is transcendent; He is omnipresent and omnipotent.

Jesus’ understanding of Himself as to how we can approach God is exclusive. He said this in John 10:9 (NIV), “I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved.”

No other options are open. If you want to gain access to the Father in heaven you must go through Jesus, not Mary, or anyone else.

Jesus’ audience clearly understood this. Peter clearly understood this that’s why he said in Acts 4:12 (NIV), “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

No man can obtain any of these things except by the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. It meant coming in His name and depending on His merits.

All Roads Lead to Rome

There is an old saying that “All roads lead to Rome.”

This is often used as a way to understand different religions; that they each lead to God in their own way. Oprah Winfrey argued that people may not necessarily call it heaven. But at the end of the day, no matter which path we choose to take we will all end up in the same beautiful place.

That cannot be further from the truth. I would like to use a maze, as an illustration, to prove that there can only be one way to heaven. If you choose the wrong path, you will surely end up in a different place.

Do All Roads Lead to Heaven?

There are only two destinations for man after his life on earth: heaven or hell. There’s no such place as purgatory. When a person dies, his fate has been sealed and cannot be reversed. His final destination has been decided (Hebrew 9:27).

In the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, heaven is a real place and so is hell. But do you know that most people who believe in literal heaven refuse to believe in a literal hell?

They say that hell is just a “concept;” that hell is the darkness inside of you. Again, that is not what the Bible teaches. Jesus talked a great deal about heaven but he talked three times more about hell than He did heaven.

Does God Send People to Hell?

If Jesus is the only way, what about those who have never heard of Jesus? Will God condemn them to hell for not believing in someone they have never heard of?

In one of Dr. Frank Turek’s apologetics lectures, somebody in the audience asked the same question. Dr. Turek said there’s something wrong with the question. People are not condemned to hell only on the occasion of not believing in Jesus; they are already condemned because of sin. (See John 3:17-18.)

We have to understand that we’re not going to hell because we do not believe in Jesus. It’s like asking, “Am I going to die because I did not go to the doctor?” No! You will die because you have a disease! So no, you will not go to hell for not believing in Jesus, you’re going to hell because you sinned (Romans 3:23).

Let’s get this crystal clear. God doesn’t send people to hell. Hell is not God’s choice for men, heaven is. Hell is the choice of men who want to reject God. When God created man, He created him with “free will.” We were not created to be robots!

So ultimately the choice we make for eternity is made by the submission of our will to our heavenly Father. God will not violate our will because it is a sacred gift that He gave to us.

Going to Hell is a Choice Quote

Jesus is the Truth

When Jesus said He is the truth, you must understand that He is not just referring to an idea. The TRUTH here is a person – the Lord Jesus Christ! (See John 8:32, 36.)

Jesus said He is the truth. So if Jesus is the truth, it doesn’t matter what other people think and believe because truth is truth whether we believe it or not.

Earlier, we asked the questions: How can Christianity be the only true religion? What about the billions of religious people around the world who are sincerely worshiping God in the best way they know how?

What makes faith valuable is its object, not its sincerity. If the object is false then sincerity is irrelevant. Should believers be sincere in their beliefs? Absolutely! But sincerely believing something doesn’t make it true.

If I believe that two plus two equals five, I’m dead wrong, no matter how sincerely I believe it.

People who hold a different worldview, such as the Muslims, acknowledge Jesus to be a morally good person; they believe in His virgin birth and that He performed miracles but they do not believe He is the Son of God and that He is God.

What one believes about Jesus is crucial. In Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13-20), Jesus asked His disciples the most important question, “Who do you say that I am?”

Why Christianity is True

Jesus is the Life

Christ is the author and giver of life, natural, spiritual, and eternal. Eternal life in heaven is made possible only through Christ.

Let’s take a look at these Bible verses:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).

Conclusion

If Jesus is not the exclusive way to salvation, but just one way, then why did He have to suffer and die? In fact, why did He live at all?

For what possible reason would God become incarnate in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, live a life of perfect obedience, service, and self-denial, suffer torture, and then executed in one of the most horrible ways imaginable if there were other avenues to God?

The truth of the matter is, no one, regardless of reputation, achievement, special knowledge, or personal holiness can come to God the Father except through Jesus. We cannot save ourselves from eternal damnation in hell through our own efforts. We cannot attain eternal life no matter how much we try to live a moral life.

Salvation in Christianity

Is salvation exclusive to those who will put their faith in Jesus Christ? Absolutely! Is Jesus’ sacrificial death sufficient to redeem us? Absolutely! Jesus said, “It is finished!” He has conquered death and emerged victoriously and we too can have the victory in Christ. But have we surrendered our lives completely to Jesus?

Jesus doesn’t merely point the way, He is the Way. Jesus does not teach us truth, He is the Truth. Jesus does not represent one avenue to life, He is the Life. “Unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24, NASB).


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

Recommended Resource: The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Strobel

The Case for Christ by Lee StrobelIs there credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the Son of God? Former atheist and Chicago Tribune journalist Lee Strobel takes an investigative look at the evidence from the fields of science, philosophy, and history.

In this revised and updated bestseller, The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel cross-examines a dozen experts with doctorates from schools such as Cambridge, Princeton, and Brandeis, asking hard-hitting questions – and building a captivating case for Christ’s divinity.

Strobel asks challenging questions like:

  • How reliable is the New Testament?
  • Does evidence for Jesus exist outside the Bible?
  • Is Jesus who he said he was?
  • Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual event?
What is the Role of Women in the Church? (Part 2)

What is the Role of Women in the Church? (Part 2)

In part one of this article on the role of women in the church, it was made quite clear that God’s original design for mankind, both male and female, when he created them was to “co-rule” the earth and have dominion over everything in it.

We also examined the role of women in both the Old and New Testaments and how God equally used them in significant ways. I do believe that the most important means of God’s validation on the role of women was when He used them, instead of Jesus’ male disciples, to proclaim Christ’s resurrection.

As we conclude this topic, I would like us to look into the passages that most Christians today use to defend the view that women should never take leadership roles in the church; that women should not be allowed to teach and preach in churches.

Rather, women should “keep silent” in obedience to what the word of God clearly instructs.

Problematic Passages 

As mentioned earlier, Jesus gave His Spirit and gifts to men and women equally on the Day of Pentecost – in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. Yet there are some scriptures in the New Testament about women in the Church that can seem confusing.

Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.”

Should Women Teach in the Church

How could Paul write such a thing? Does he seem to contradict himself at other places in Scripture, when he instructs women how to speak, pray, and prophecy in the church?

In one verse Paul seems to be saying women are to be silent in the churches. Then in another verse (1 Corinthians 11:5), he instructs how they are to pray and prophesy in the churches. In one verse, he commands women to keep silent. In the other, he tells them how to pray and prophesy.

Are women never to speak in church, or are they to pray and prophesy? Which did Paul mean? Let us examine this more closely.

Paul’s Intent in Writing

First, we must consider why Paul was writing to the Corinthian church.

On his second missionary journey in about A.D. 50-51, Paul had established a church there and he kept in touch with them after he left (Acts 18:1-8; 1 Corinthians 5:9; 2 Corinthians 12:14).

After some time, he received some disturbing reports about moral and spiritual problems among the believers in Corinth. They were struggling with such things as divisions, spiritual immaturity, the role of men and women, immorality, and the improper use of spiritual gifts.

1 Corinthians 14:40 tells us why Paul wrote this letter: “Let all things be done decently and in order.”

There were confusion and disorder in the church in Corinth. So, Paul wrote to encourage the believers as to what was appropriate behavior for Christians. He wrote to teach them about order in the church. Again, Paul’s number-one concern in writing to the Corinthians was order in the church.

Order in the Church

In chapter 11, Paul is addressing the problem of Corinthian social customs. A woman who appeared in public with her head uncovered was considered to be immoral, even a temple prostitute (1 Corinthians 11:5).

In that culture, a woman with her head properly covered meant she was either married and in proper submission to her “head” (her husband), or single, and in proper submission to her family. A man’s head uncovered showed that his covering was the Lord.

Both represented a proper spirit of submission in places of public worship. So, Paul has no problem with women praying or prophesying, as he is telling them how it is to be done appropriately in 1 Corinthians 11. The issue is that it be done in order, with a heartfelt submission to those in authority.

The Role of Women in the Church

It is important to realize that in Jewish tradition women had not been allowed to take part in a religious ceremony. They were forbidden to speak in the synagogues. Women were not even allowed in the court of worship in the Jewish temple.

When these women come to Christ, they are thrilled and excited about their forgiveness and about being restored as “co-heirs.” It may take time for them to adjust to their new freedom. It also may take time for them to learn appropriate behavior in public worship services.

Women’s New Found Liberty

In contrast to the old Jewish system where women had always been kept in the outer court, Christian women during Paul’s day were allowed to come inside the churches. For the first time, women could see and hear everything that went on.

The women might not have understood everything that was happening, yet they were overjoyed to be part of the ceremony and worship. They might have been tempted to ask questions or even discussed what was taking place among themselves right during the meeting.

The women may not have yet learned the proper order for church involvement. As a result, they may have been blurting out whatever they thought or felt. Perhaps they were arguing with the men over what they were hearing from the pulpit, and in so doing they were challenging their husband’s authority and shaming them in public.

Perhaps the women wanted to teach the men ideas which they felt had been revealed to them, without an appropriate time of learning and testing.

Are Women to be Silent?

Before we examine 1 Corinthians 14:35-36, we must look at the entire passages surrounding them.

In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul writes to the church in Corinth to address the order of ministry in the meetings. Notice that all were speaking in tongue in the church (1 Corinthians 14:23) and Paul says that all may prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:24). Again, “every one of you” means “all.”

Then Paul says for the fourth time, “For you can all prophesy…” (1 Corinthians 14:31).

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Nothing could be clearer than Paul saying all (men and women) are to participate in the ministry gifts during church service. Paul discourages the confusion of everyone trying to speak or prophesy at once. But he still encourages every person to participate.

But while writing that all should participate in the ministry, Paul suddenly says, “Let your women keep silent in churches … for it is shameful for women to speak in church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

Word Study on the Passage

Three words in the passage need to be studied to understand what Paul was teaching the Corinthians. These three words are: women, speak and says.

The word women in 1 Corinthians 4:34-35 is the Greek word gune, which can mean a wife (not just any female). Given the context, Paul’s instruction is probably directed to wives.

The Greek word used for speak is laleo, which means to talk. This word can imply an extended conversation. Says comes from the Greek word lego, which means to lay forth (an idea or doctrine) in words usually of systematic or set discourse (“ … as the law also says”).

“Lego” (says) involved the teaching or preaching of something the speaker had prepared and carefully thought about. This type of “speaking” was encouraged.

On the other hand, “laleo” (speak) was a talking that interrupted the speaker or was not spoken at the right time; this was discouraged. It could be calling out questions or discussing the weather. The point was that it was not an appropriate type of speaking out in a church meeting.

So, if the passage was expanded to include the true meanings of the words in the original Greek language in which the Scriptures were first written, it might read something like this:

“Let the wives not interrupt (laleo) the meetings of the church with extended talking: for it is not permitted for them to interrupt or to call out to others with their questions; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also it is taught in the doctrine.

And if they desire to learn about anything, let them wait and ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for them to have conversations during the church service.”

Should Women be Pastors

Interpreting the Passage

Paul was not telling women they could never pray, prophesy, or otherwise minister in the church. He had just been teaching them all (men and women) how to minister in orderliness just a few verses before. Paul was teaching the women, and the men, that there needed to be order in the church.

You will notice he also told the men to be silent at times as well (1 Corinthians 14:28, 30). He instructed them all when it was appropriate to speak in tongues, prophesy, and otherwise minister in the church.

He also told them to listen with silence when the Word of God was being taught. Paul was concerned for the witness and testimony of the Corinthian church in their community. He desired that they learn to walk in the Spirit and properly exercise the gifts God had given them.

The Corinthians could be loud and unruly. They even got drunk in their observance of the Lord’s supper (1 Corinthians 11:20-26). This behavior certainly did not bring glory to God, or speak well of their newfound Christian faith.

These problems of lack of manners, civility, common courtesy, and appropriate behavior were the issues in Paul’s writings. He was not trying to keep women from participating in an orderly fashion in the church. Paul’s concern was for ORDER in the church, that all things be done decently and non-offensively (1 Corinthians 14:33).

Should Women Teach in the Church?

Another portion of Scripture that is often used by some to not allow women to teach in the church is 1 Timothy 2:11-12.

It is important to note that Paul wrote this section of Scripture as a letter to young Timothy, who was in charge of the church in Ephesus. He was helping Timothy deal with problems of doctrinal error, qualifications for leadership, and improper behavior by those in the church.

Timothy faced challenges in Ephesus much like those Paul addressed in Corinth. There were thousands of religious prostitutes at the shrine of Diana in Ephesus. They were taught that fornication linked people with the gods, and immorality was encouraged.

Most women were not educated or trained in those days and knew nothing about God. It was considered virtuous for a woman to be ignorant (which is exactly the opposite of what the Bible teaches in Proverbs 31).

So Paul is writing to Timothy to help him correctly lead and provide order for the new Christians, both men, and women, at the church in Ephesus.


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Recommended Resource: Women in the Church, A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry by Stanley Grenz and Denise Muir Kjesbo.

Women in the Church by Stanley Grenz and Denise Muir KjesboStudies of key biblical passages on women’s roles in the church fill entire bookshelves, if not libraries. But in Women in the Church, Stanley Grenz and Denise Muir Kjesbo offer the first in-depth theological study of this issue–one of the most bitterly contested issues of our day.

Carefully considering the biblical, historical and practical concerns surrounding women and the ordained ministry, this book will enlighten people on all sides of the issue. But Grenz and Kjesbo make no secret of their bold conclusion: “Historical, biblical and theological considerations converge not only in allowing but also in insisting, that women serve as full partners with men.”

Thorough and irenic, Women in the Church bids to take an intense discussion to a new plane.

Giving Instruction to Women

Notice the kind of issues Paul addresses first in 1 Timothy 2:9-10.

Paul finds it necessary to give instructions about very simple matters, such as how a godly woman should dress, act and wear her hair. He emphasizes modesty, no worldly display, and that her true attractiveness is her character. He reminds her to not be loud and out of order. (See 1 Peter 3:1-6.)

The women of Ephesus had very little understanding of even the most basic godly priorities and values. They needed much instruction on proper behavior in the church and their personal lives. The clothes, jewelry, and behavior of a temple prostitute were not acceptable in the church.

Paul then goes on to tell Timothy, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission” (1 Timothy 2:11).

Let Women Learn in Silence

It is important to look carefully at the first part of the verse again. “Let a woman learn…” Paul is telling Timothy that it is important to let, or allow, a woman to learn! Remember, in this culture, it was not normally acceptable for women to learn or be taught anything. They were incorrectly told that ignorance was virtuous for a woman.

But Paul writes to say that the women “need to learn,” especially about the things of the Lord. But how is it best to learn? In silence (quietly) and with all submission.

When you want to learn something, you must be willing to sit quietly. You must accept and learn from the person teaching; you must not argue, but submit and listen. So, it is important to “let the women learn.” But we must encourage the women, just like the men, to sit quietly and listen to the teacher while they are learning.

The women of Ephesus had much to learn about God, about living a godly life, and about functioning as part of the church body. How better to learn than quietly receiving what the teacher or pastor is saying.

God’s Order in Leadership

We have seen in his letter to Timothy that Paul was reminding women they may be tempted to step out of their place in God’s order. They may even desire to take over the man’s place of God-ordained rulership.

But what did Paul mean when he said, “I do not permit a woman to teach…” (1 Timothy 2:12)? Didn’t Paul, in Titus 2:3-4 (KJV)), tell older women to “teach” the younger women? Yes, he did.

And didn’t Priscilla – with Aquila – teach Apollos, the “eloquent man” who was “mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24, 26)? Yes, she did. But in 2 Timothy 2:2 we read: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

Does Paul mean only men should learn and teach others?

Should Women Allowed to be Church Leaders

Word Study on 2 Timothy 2:2

The Greek word for men in 2 Timothy 2:2 is anthropos, which means mankind – both men and women. So Paul is instructing Timothy to teach the men and women, and then encourage them to teach others also.

So when Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach…” what is it he was telling Timothy? The word teach is the key to understanding this problem verse. The original Greek word used for “teach” is didaskaleo, which means “to instruct or teach doctrine.”

Women were not authorized to establish the doctrinal standards, as apostolic teachers. That was a function handled by the apostolic councils (see Acts 15). “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).

The apostolic councils set the doctrinal standards, and the women who ministered were to respect those standards and not teach to the contrary. This rule was not just for women, but for men as well. We read this in 2 Timothy 2:17-18, “… Hymenaeus and Philetus … who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.”

These two men departed from the apostles’ doctrine and were condemned.

Interpreting the Passage

Given all of the above understanding, an expanded translation of 1Timothy 2:11-12 using the original Greek meanings would read something like this:

“But I suffer not a woman to teach doctrine contrary to that established by the apostles, or to try and take the authoritative office of apostolic teacher, or to try and rule over a man; but to remain undisturbed, and learn in stillness.”

Paul’s exhortation, then, is consistent with his other words regarding ministry and order in the church. It is also consistent with the rest of Scripture, which does remind women (and men) that they are to be yielded and submitted to God’s order for relationships and the Church.

The ideas and opinions formed in human reason, and the deceptions of false religions, are not what ministry in the Church is based upon. Ministry in the Church is based solely upon the whole counsel of God through His Word.

Pure ministry flows out of a willingness of both men and women to submit and yield themselves and their ideas to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, His Word, and His ways.

Should Women be Church Leaders?

Whatever conclusions one reaches about the role of women in the church, consider these final points of review:

First, the Old Testament contains many accounts of anointed women leading, ministering, prophesying, and praying in the Name of the Lord. Second, the New Testament also gives us many examples of women taking the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ to those around them. It tells us of women who ministered through teaching, prophecy, prayer, and evangelism.

Women of the New Testament were considered Christians of equal standing to men: believers, followers of Christ, witnesses for Him, messengers of the resurrection, and soul-winners for Jesus’ sake.

Third, Jesus our Lord fully accepted and showed loving kindness to both men and women. They were both associated with His life and ministry. He spoke to them, forgave them, healed them, and encouraged them in doing works even greater than His own (John 14:12-14).

Concluding Words

Women were certainly allowed and encouraged) to educate, proclaim truth, and exhort (prophesy). (For biblical review, see Acts 2:17; 18:26; 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:5; Philippians 4:3; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14,15; and Titus 2:3-5.)

It is clear that the idea of women just sitting in church services and not participating or serving the Lord is NOT found anywhere in Scripture. Women should share in the ministry of soul-winning, prayer, prophecy, worship, and miracles. They should fully function in all the gifts and callings the Lord freely gives to those who are His.

Christ lives in any person who receives His gift of salvation through His cross and resurrection. He fills them with His Holy Spirit; He serves through them; He speaks through them; He loves and ministers through them.


Read part 1 of this article here >>> The Role of Women in the Church 

Note: This is an excerpt taken from the book “Women in Ministry” by Shepherd Staff.

What is the Role of Women in the Church? (Part 1)

What is the Role of Women in the Church? (Part 1)

There are various opinions about women in ministry. Some say women should never take leadership roles while others say they are allowed to do so. But it is vitally important to examine what the Bible actually says.

What is the role of women in the church? Should women be church leaders? Are women allowed to pastor a church? How do we interpret passages that say women should be silent in the church?

God’s Original Design

There are passages in the New Testament that might create questions and confusion regarding the place of women in the body of Christ. But before addressing those crucial issues, we must first understand God’s original design for man and woman.

In the creation story, it was clear that God created both man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:27). God created them to “co-rule” over creation (Genesis 1:28), meaning, they had equal authority and position. Man and woman were charged to carry out God’s ultimate rule and authority.

But when mankind (male and female) fell as a result of their sin and rebellion, they lost the privilege of rulership and lost their intimate fellowship with God (Genesis 3:14-24). Although Eve was not directly cursed, she was part of God’s general curse. She was told that “her desire should be for her husband and he shall rule over her” (Genesis 3:16).

Garden of Eden
Photo Credits: TrumpetCall.Org

Some believe that because the man was to “rule over” woman, God would only speak to or through a man from that time on. But Psalm 68:11 says, “The Lord gave the word; great was the company of those who proclaimed it.” The word company is the Hebrew word tsaba which can be either masculine or feminine gender, thus, representing men, women, or both.

The verse is then rightly translated, “The Lord gave the word; great was the mass of men and/or women organized for warfare that proclaimed it.”

Another important verse is Joel 2:28-29, which Peter repeated in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:17-18. “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy… and also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

Women in the Old Testament

God desires to use both men and women to declare His wondrous works. Now, let us look at some examples of God speaking to and through women in the Old Testament.

Miriam

We first read of Miriam in Exodus 2:1-10 when Pharaoh commanded that all newborn Israelite males are to be killed. In Micah 6:4, she is mentioned along with her brothers Moses and Aaron as one of the three that led the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery and into deliverance.

This shows us the very important role of authority and influence given to the woman Miriam, by God. After the army of Pharaoh drowned in the waters of the Red Sea and the Israelites were safely in the desert, a great worship celebration took place.

“Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them: ‘Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea’” (Exodus 15:20-21)!

Miriam’s prophetic anointing and musical gift made her an effective praise leader and prophetess. Like David some 500 years later, she sang the song of the Spirit with boldness.

Deborah

“Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment” (Judges 4:4-5).

Deborah held three important positions: wife, prophetess, and judge or ruler.

Through prophetic insight, the prophetess Deborah called for the Israelite General, Barak, to go out with only ten thousand men against the Canaanites. It is believed the Canaanites, led by General Sisera, had almost 100,000 men and 900 chariots of iron!

Deborah courageously accompanied General Barak into battle. With God’s power, the much-outnumbered Israelites defeated the Canaanites (Judges 4:6-24). Under Deborah’s leadership, the children of Israel were delivered from 20 years of oppression from this alien army. And she knew the source of victory was the Lord God!

Deborah was wise and courageous. She was mightily used by God in the dramatic deliverance of Israel from oppressors. And the people of Israel enjoyed 40 years of peace following her rule.

Why, then, does much of the Church today prevent this biblical kind of leadership from being released through women?

Esther

Though Queen Esther did not have a specific title of “ministry,” she was instrumental in saving the entire Jewish nation.

She was steadfastly committed to living out godly principles. She was wise in her influence on her husband. This allowed God to use her for His purpose and glory (read more about it in Esther 2-10).

Women in the New Testament

In ancient Israel, women were considered to be members of the “family of faith.” Men, as head of the family, presented the sacrifices and offerings on behalf of the entire family (Leviticus 1:2), but the wife could also be present.

Women attended the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:14), the yearly Feast of the Lord (Judges 21:19-21), and the Festival of the New Moon (2 Kings 4:23). Women could enter into most of the areas of worship.

But by the time of Christ, the view of women had changed. Jewish women were no longer active in Temple or synagogue worship. They were often put into inferior and subservient roles. But this was not something God said to do; rather this was human works.

Mary

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a good and godly woman. She was a person of incredible faith in God. How else could she have responded in such a beautiful song of praise and trust after such a bewildering announcement (Luke 1:26-55)?

Mary truly did fulfill a ministry calling of the highest order, that of motherhood. What an incredible privilege God has given women in allowing them to bring forth life!

Moreover, the prophecy of Jesus’ coming (Genesis 3:15) and victory over Satan was enhanced by the fact that God would allow a woman, Mary, to be the vessel through which He gave to us a Savior!


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Anna

After seven years of marriage, Anna’s husband died and she dedicated the remainder of her life serving in the Temple (Luke 2:36-37).

Anna had an important part in Jesus’ birth and dedication. God used her to confirm that Jesus truly was the expected Messiah-Deliverer for which Israel had waited.

Anna’s anointed ministry during her later years of life gives hope and promise to older women. God will always minister through sensitive, obedient and available vessels, regardless of age. The potential is great for those who are more mature to influence and shape future generations.

The Women at the Tomb

On that morning of Jesus’ resurrection, Mary Magdalene was at the tomb with Simon Peter and John. There were at least the three of them at the tomb. The two men went into the tomb to see if Jesus was truly gone, as Mary Magdalene had said. When they saw He was gone, the discouraged men went home (John 20:5-10).

We don’t know why, but for some reason, the resurrected Christ didn’t appear to the two men while they were at the tomb. Jesus waited, and appeared to Mary Magdalene later as she wept outside the tomb (John 20:11-14).

Jesus spoke to Mary Magdalene. He gave her the very important job of proclaiming His resurrection (John 20:15-18). A woman was the first one told to preach the Good News that Jesus had risen from the dead. This charge proclaimed her equally worthy to give out the New Testament message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

If Jesus gave the awesome job of preaching the first message of the Gospel to a woman, what then should our response be to women whom God has called to preach that same Gospel today?

Women at the Upper Room

Women were among those who had assembled for prayer to receive the promised power spoken of in Scripture (Acts 1:8). As that group of men and women prayed, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).

There was to be no question that all (both men and women) were empowered to do the work of ministry and evangelism. The power was NOT just for those in special positions of spiritual authority, but for ALL flesh!

Phoebe

In the church at Cenchrea, there was a woman Paul calls “a servant of the church” and “a helper of many” (Romans 16:1-2).

Some Bible versions translate the word “servant” (diakoneo) used in this verse as deaconess. Others use the word minister since this same Greek word is used in different places in Scripture as minister.

The historian Eusebius says that Phoebe oversaw two churches and traveled extensively in ministry. Many scholars believe it was Phoebe who carried the written book of Romans to the congregation in Rome.

Note: Though most of the spiritual leaders mentioned in the Bible are men, there are also many examples of anointed, consecrated, chosen women of God in both the Old and New Testaments. These women were never denied leadership roles or the right to function in a God-given gift or calling.

It is indeed a mystery why the place of women in ministry is a problem in so much of the Body of Christ.

What did Jesus Think of Women?

At a time when ministry teams that combined men and women were not allowed by the religious leaders, Jesus welcomed several women into His team of traveling ministries (Luke 8:1-3).

Also in Luke 8:43-48, we read of an outcast, unclean woman. She is poor, weak, and afraid. Yet Jesus responded to her faith, spoke to her as His daughter, and healed her!

Jesus encouraged Martha and Mary to sit at His feet and be discipled (Luke 10:38- 42). He considered them among His close friends (John 11:5).

What did Jesus Think of Women

Jesus’ respect and concern for women was something strikingly new. His attitude was very different from the other men’s attitudes of His time. His view of women was especially different from the Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees, and Sadducees.

Through Christ’s redemptive work, all of the partitions have been broken down. Every believer, regardless of race, sex, or other distinction, now has equal access to God (Ephesians 2:14). In Jesus, all divisions have been smashed between Jew and Gentile, between men and women, and between priests and laymen (Revelation 1:6).

We are all one in Christ (Galatians 3:27-28), hallelujah!


Continue to part 2 here >>> The Role of women in the Church

Daniel’s Vision of 4 Beasts

Daniel’s Vision of 4 Beasts

Daniel’s disturbing dream in chapter seven of his book has sparked so much interest among Bible readers. Who are these four beasts that Daniel saw in his dream and visions?

In Daniel 7:1-7, God communicated with Daniel while he was asleep by giving him a disturbing vision in a dream. What’s interesting is that, during this vision, Daniel was also part of the event. We know this because he was able to approach an angel and ask for an interpretation.

Daniel did not explain how he could be asleep in his bed and yet be able to speak to an angel standing before the throne of God. Perhaps like Paul, he didn’t know if he was in the body or out of the body (2 Corinthians 12:1-3).

Daniel 7:1-2 NKJV

What Daniel Saw

In his vision, Daniel observed the sea being stirred up into a raging storm by the four winds of heaven (Daniel 7:2). The churning (stirring) sea is a frequent biblical image for the nations of the world (Isaiah 17:12-13; 57:20; 60:5, 9; Ezekiel 26:3; Revelation 13:1; 17:15).

Just as the ocean is sometimes, so the nations of the world are sometimes in confusion or even at war. Just as the waves and currents of the ocean are unpredictable, so the course of world history is human ability to chart or predict.

God stirred up the sea, and from its foaming, raging waters came forth four horrifying beasts. These beasts, each different from the other, are described in Daniel 7:4-7.

“The first was like a lion and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.

And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’

 After this, I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this, I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong.

It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.”

Interpretation of Daniel’s Vision

Daniel’s vision troubled and terrified him. So, he approached one of those who stood by (possibly an angelic being) to ask for the interpretation of the things he saw and was given to him (Daniel 7:15-16).

The four beasts were four kings and their kingdoms, who will arise from the earth (Daniel 7:17).

The First Beast: The Babylonian Empire

Daniel describes the first beast as one like a lion with eagle’s wings.

It is generally agreed that this beast represents the Babylonian Empire and king Nebuchadnezzar in particular. While God does not specifically tell Daniel that this represents Nebuchadnezzar He does reveal that the “head of gold” in the vision of the great statue was Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:36-38).

Since the head of gold seems to describe the same king and kingdom as the first beast, it may not be too far afield to conclude that Nebuchadnezzar is the king represented by the first beast.

The Second Beast: The Medes and Persian Empire

The second beast looked like a bear that was rearing up on one side and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. This beast symbolized the empire of Medes and Persians who defeated Babylon (Daniel 5) and parallels the arms of chest and silver in the great image (Daniel 2:32, 39).

The bear was raised up on one side because the Persians were stronger than the Medes. In Daniel’s later vision of the ram with two horns (Daniel chapter 8), the higher horn represented the Persians (Daniel 8:3, 20).

Interpreters do not agree on the meaning of the three ribs that the bear carried in its mouth. But the best explanation is that they stand for Libya, Egypt, and Babylon – nations that the Medes and Persians had conquered.

The armies of the Medo-Persian Empire did indeed “devour much flesh” as they marched across the battlefields.

Understanding Daniel's Vision of 4 Beasts
Photo Credits: Neverthirsty.org

The Third Beast: The Kingdom of Greece

The third beast looked like a leopard with four wings and four heads; it represented Alexander the Great and the swift conquest of his army, resulting in the incredible expansion of the kingdom of Greece.

This beast was identified with the number four: four heads and four horns (Daniel 8:8, 21-22). Alexander’s untimely death in 323 BC left him without a successor and his kingdom was divided into four parts and assigned to his leaders.

Israel and Egypt went to Ptolemy I; Syria was ruled by Seleucus I; Thrace and Asia Minor were assigned to Lysimachus, and Macedon and Greece were governed by Antipater and Cassander.

The Fourth Beast: A Fourth Kingdom

This fourth beast is a fourth king different from the first three. It receives greater attention and is of the most interest to Daniel. It seems more terrifying, dreadful, more powerful, and much more hostile toward God and His saints (Daniel 7:23).

Daniel describes this beast to have huge iron teeth, crushing and devouring its victims, and trampling their remains beneath its feet. It has the distinction of ten horns. And as Daniel was looking at these horns, suddenly a small horn appeared among them before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words (Daniel 7:8).

Some believe this creature represents the Roman Empire, a mighty kingdom that indeed crushed all its foes.

The Small Horn

The ten horns represent ten kings who will emerge out of the fourth kingdom. But then, an eleventh king (small horn) rises to power, different from the others, replacing three of the previous kings (kingdom (Daniel 7:24).

The “small horn” (Daniel 7:8, 11, 24-26) represents the last world ruler, the man called Antichrist. The Greek prefix anti can mean “against” and “instead of.” The final world ruler will be both a counterfeit Christ and an enemy who is against Christ.

The mention of his eyes suggests that he would have remarkable knowledge and skill in planning his exploits. He would also be a man skilled in using words and able to promote himself so that people follow him (Daniel 7:11, 25; Revelation 13:5-6).

He would also blaspheme God and ultimately convince the unbelieving world that he is a god (2 Thessalonians 1:1-12). He would become the ruler of the world and would not only control the economy and religion but would also seek to change the times and the laws.

But while this king appears to be successful in his plans against God and his saints, we read that the Lord would grant him success only for an appointed time of three and a half years (Daniel 7:25-26). God would permit the Antichrist to rise to power, rule the world, and even allow him to make war on the saints and temporarily win the victory (Daniel 7:21)

But when the court shall be seated, his dominion is taken from him and he is destroyed forever. The greatness of the kingdoms under heaven and its dominion shall be given to the saints of the Most High (Daniel 7:27).

Final Words

This prophetic vision of Daniel was fulfilled and these four kingdoms represented by the four beasts have already come and gone. However, Daniel 7:12 indicates that each kingdom continues to exist in some way within the succeeding kingdom that “devoured” it.

Daniel saw in his vision something that hadn’t been revealed to Nebuchadnezzar: the last human kingdom on earth would be a frightful kingdom, unlike any of the previous kingdoms, and it would even declare war on God (Daniel 7:8-12).

This is the kingdom of the Antichrist, described in Revelation 13 through 19, an evil kingdom that will be destroyed when Jesus Christ returns to earth (Daniel 7:11-12, 21-26).

What a comfort to know God wins in the end. And we, His saints, will be there with Christ our King to celebrate the greatest victory.


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Recommended Resource:Daniel: The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries bJohn Walvoord and Charles H. Dyer.

A Commentary on the Book of Daniel The book of Daniel is key to the entire Old Testament prophetic revelation.

Who better to help you understand Daniel’s stories, prophecies, and dreams—and give you a brighter hope for things to come—than John F. Walvoord, one of evangelicalism’s most prominent leaders, and Charles Dyer, a Bible professor and expert on Israel?

In this second work of a renewed series of commentaries, Dr. Walvoord addresses alleged historical inaccuracies and considers past and future fulfillment of specific prophecies. At key points, different views and approaches to interpretation are explored.  Walvoord devotes special attention to textual and doctrinal issues while avoiding technical language.

Refined, updated with the English Standard Version (ESV), and streamlined, this classic text is set to help you understand and interpret the book of Daniel and gain a better grasp of what the future may bring.