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Category: Theology

A Bible Study on the Rapture

A Bible Study on the Rapture

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

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

The Meaning of Rapture in the Bible

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

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

The term rapture comes from the words “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17: “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

Is the Word Rapture in the Bible

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

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

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

Where is Rapture in the Bible?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raptures in the Old Testament

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

Enoch

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

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

Where is the Word Rapture Mentioned in the Bible

Elijah

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

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

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

2 Kings 2:11-12 report, “Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!’ So he saw him no more.”

Raptures in the New Testament

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

Jesus

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

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

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

Philip

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

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

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

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

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

Where is Rapture in the Bible

Paul

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

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

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

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

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

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

John

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

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

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

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

Future Raptures

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

The Rapture of Living Believers

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

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

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

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

A Bible Study on the Rapture

The Rapture of the Two Witnesses

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

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

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

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

The Rapture is the Blessed Hope

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

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

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

Closing Words

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

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

Are you ready to meet Him?


References:

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

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


Give to God All Glory

Give to God All Glory

That God alone deserves all glory is something God’s children know and believe by heart. That is because the Scriptures clearly say so. Thus, each one of us must give to God all glory.

Bible Verse: Psalm 115:1 (NKJV)

“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us. But to Your name give glory. Because of Your mercy and because of Your truth.”

All Glory Belongs to God

In Psalm 115:1, the psalmist reminds us that we are to give God the glory. What does he mean? The word glory takes on a variety of meanings, such as honor, praise, admiration, or credit.

So, to give God the glory is to praise, honor, admire or give Him the credit. We do this because God is God. The God of the Bible – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the Lord Almighty.

We are to give God glory not only for the blessings He has given us and continues to give us but more so because He is the One true living God who created the heavens and the earth, not just some lifeless idol (Psalm 115:2-8). God created the earth for us to enjoy (Psalm 115:16).

The Glory of God’s Presence

At other times, the word glory also refers to the presence of the Lord, as when Moses and Aaron said to the Israelites that “in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord” (Exodus 16:7).

Of course, the Israelites would not see God’s glory as in His enthroned radiance, for no man can see God and live (Exodus 33:20). What they would see is God in His great loving provision for His people. God showed them His glory through His great mercy and goodness.

In Psalm 19:1, David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God,” and begged to see God’s glory. As David looked to the heavens, he saw the vivid display of God’s glory through the firmament – the blue sky and the night sky.

Give to God All Glory

When King Solomon dedicated the temple, God’s glory came in the form of a cloud and filled the house (2 Chronicles 5:13-14). This was the cloud of glory often seen in the Old and the New Testaments, which is sometimes called the cloud of Shekinah glory – the radiant outshining of God’s character and presence.

When the angel announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, the glory of the Lord shone around them (Luke 2:9). When God sent the angel of the Lord to preach the Gospel to the shepherds, He showed them His glory in the form of a radiant light that interrupted the quiet dark night.

The Lord’s Prayer ends with “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” (Matthew 6:13). This tells us that the right kind of prayer praises God and credits to Him all the power and glory.

The Glory of God in Christians

Ever since the Holy Spirit fell upon those first believers in the Upper Room, God’s glory has been manifested through Christians. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

However, our capacity to reflect God’s glory is based upon the degree of our submission to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. We are to serve the Lord with gladness and let people see His mercy and His love by the way we live, work, and worship – not for our glory but for His.

As Jesus said in John 15:8, “By this, My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” Furthermore, Peter said believers who never saw Jesus rejoice with “joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)

The Glory of God to Come

We know that Jesus sits at the right hand of God and will soon come back “in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). What a joy to know that one day we will walk in the Lord’s presence and see the glory for ourselves.

“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works” (Matthew 16:27).

Once the New Jerusalem is built there will be no need for the sun to illuminate those who live there, because the Son Himself, in His great glory, will be the light.

What glory that will be!


Important Note: The main bulk of this devotional article was taken from the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible, (General Editor: John Hagee) under the section “Diamonds for Daily Living.”

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What is the Day of Deception?

What is the Day of Deception?

The Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 begins with Jesus’ disciples asking Him three questions. The first was, “When will these things be?” The second, “What will be the sign of Your coming?” The third, “What will be the sign of the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3)?

In response, Jesus said, “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many’” (Matthew 24:4-5). Jesus then goes on to confirm that deception would be the foremost problem in the terminal generation saying, “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).

The apostle Paul also wrote, “Let no one deceive you by any means, for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition [the Antichrist]” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

But what is the day of deception that Jesus and Paul were talking about? How does it impact the church?

What is the Day of Deception

Three Parts of Deception

The above-mentioned verses confirm that deception will be the major problem of the last days. And one of the major sources of deception is self-deception. The Bible says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

There are three elements of deception. The first is the fundamental distrust of God and His leadership, authority, and Word. But God’s Word is truth (John 17:17) and He Himself is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

The second element of deception is rebellion. Just like Jonah, you know what to do; you simply won’t do it. The Bible says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

The third element of deception is the rejection of God’s love. All cults are loveless. They are harsh, dominating, mean-spirited, and critical of everyone except their own. But the Bible says, “Love does no harm to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10), and “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another” (John 13:34). A church without the love of God is nothing more than a loveless cult.

Deception Appeals to the Flesh

Deception offers that which is desirable in the beginning but destroys in the end. Satan came to Adam and Eve in the Garden and asked, “Do you want to be like God?” It was desirable in the beginning. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit they were driven from the Garden into a world God had just cursed.

When David saw Bathsheba bathing naked on her rooftop, he desired her. A sexual relationship with her was appealing in the beginning, but when he impregnated Bathsheba and conspired to have her husband Uriah killed, God’s judgment came upon him (2 Samuel 12:10).

Why Does God Permit Deception?

Every New Testament church has deception working in it. And Jesus prayed, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).

God allows deception to drive us to the Word that we may be “approved for God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). When heresies, false doctrine, or cults preach another gospel, those who are approved stand boldly and expose the deception.

 

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Nine Types of Deception

There are nine types of deception in the world.

1. Religious Deception.

Paul teaches, “Therefore let no one judge you in food or drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths” (Colossians 2:16).

Fasting without godliness is an illustration of religious deception. Forbidding people to marry is religious deception. Declaring people holy for keeping man made rules of righteousness is deception (1 Timothy 4:1-5).

2. Doctrinal Deception.

Doctrinal deception occurs when people leave the simple meaning of the Word of God. An illustration of this is those who say, “We do not need water baptism because the thief on the cross wasn’t baptized.”

We say to them, “Get yourself crucified and we’ll excuse you from water baptism. In the meantime, get in the tank!”

3. Ethical Deception.

This is when Christians profess the lordship of Jesus Christ but cheat and lie in their business dealings.

4. Moral Deception.

Secular humanism is the cornerstone of moral deception. It says, “If it feels good, do it!” But Scripture says, “It is written, ‘Man shall not leave by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

You don’t break God’s law; God’s law breaks you!

5. Intellectual Deception.

Intellectual deception is when an individual believes that his opinions, formed by his intellect, are equal or superior to the teachings of the Word of God.

6. Fanatical Deception.

Jesus taught, “The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” (John 16:2). The crusades and leaders of the Spanish Inquisition are historical illustrations of fanatical deception.

7. Mystical Deception.

Experiencing dreams, visions, voices, angels, or “a bright light” does not mean you have had a visitation from an angel or Jesus Christ.

Paul says that “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Anything that inspires you to do anything contrary to the Word of God is demonic.

8. Sexual Deception.

Sexual deception is the belief or philosophy that rejects the God-ordained monogamous sexual relationship between a man and his wife as the only acceptable sexual relationship.

9. Spiritual Deception.

When Christians become bored with the discipline of the Word of God and begin practices that are contrary to New Testament orthodoxy, this represents the genesis of spiritual deception.

Closing Words

We get traumatized when thieves steal our money or identity but far more traumatic is when con artists who pose as Christians deceive the unsuspecting because the stakes are so much higher than someone’s life savings. What’s at risk is the eternal destiny of the soul.

To avoid deception of any kind, we need to develop biblical discernment and be vigilant at all times.


Note: This excerpt is taken from the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible’s “Top 20 Questions” edited by John Hagee.

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

Edited by Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson

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

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Behold, Here Comes the Bridegroom

Behold, Here Comes the Bridegroom

John 14:1-3 is one of the three passages often quoted whenever the topic of the rapture comes into play. Jesus promises that He would go to His Father’s house to prepare a place for us, and then come back to receive us to Himself.

But no matter how wonderful this may sound, those who live in the modern western world do not completely grasp the full significance of this promise. This is because in His promise Jesus was drawing an analogy from Jewish marriage customs in biblical times.

Marriage Covenant in Ancient Israel

Following ancient Jewish wedding traditions, a marriage covenant is established as a result of the father of the bridegroom selecting a bride for his son. He would send his most trusted servant to search for a prospective bride and negotiate with the father of the young woman the purchase price (dowry or mohar in Hebrew).

Note: You may want to read Isaac and Rebekah’s love story in Genesis 24 – 27.

Once the woman accepts the proposal and both families agree to the price, the groom would travel from his father’s house to the home of his prospective bride to establish a betrothal covenant. This betrothal agreement is solemnized by three acts: a solemn oral commitment in the presence of witnesses, a pledge of money, and a written pledge or contract called a ketubah.

The Church is Betrothed to Christ

The betrothal covenant was thereby established and the young man and woman are regarded to be husband and wife, although she remained in her father’s house. From that moment on, the bride was declared to be consecrated or sanctified, set apart exclusively for her bridegroom.

As a symbol of the covenant relationship that had been established, the bridegroom and bride would drink from a cup of wine over which a betrothal benediction has been pronounced.

The Departure of the Groom

After the marriage covenant was sealed, the bridegroom would leave his bride and return to his father’s house to build an addition to the existing dwelling, where he would receive his wife in about twelve months.

He would say to his bride, “I have to go; I’m going to prepare the chuppah (marriage chamber), a place for you at my father’s house.” The bride would then say, “Do not go,” and the groom would respond, “It is better for you that I’ll go but I will come back.”

This period of separation afforded the bride time to focus on her personal preparations: beautification, wedding garments, but most especially her oil lamp, and to prepare for married life.

The Return of the Groom

At the end of the period of the separation, the groom would come to take his bride to live with him. The taking of the bride usually took place at night. The groom, best man, and other male escorts would leave the groom’s father’s house and conduct a torchlight procession to the home of the bride.

Although the bride knew to expect her groom after about a year, she did not know the exact day or hour. For that reason, the bride kept her oil lamps ready at all times, just in case the groom comes in the middle of the night, sounding the shofar (ram’s horn) to lead the bridal procession to the home he had prepared for her.

 

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The Home Taking & Marriage Ceremony

In an ancient Jewish wedding, when the father of the groom saw that the time had come for his son to go and get his bride, he would tell his son, “Go, son, and get your bride and bring her home.” The anxious son would then leave his father’s house to take his bride and present her to his father.

Note: The marriage ceremony consisted mainly of the “taking” of the bride.

Shortly after arrival, the bride and groom would be escorted by other members of the wedding party to the bridal chamber. Before entering the chamber, the bride remained veiled so that no one could see her face. There in the privacy of the chuppah, the bride and groom would enter into physical union for the first time, thereby consummating the marriage that had been covenanted earlier.

After the marriage was consummated, the groom would announce the consummation to the other members of the marriage ceremony outside the chamber (John 3:29). Upon receiving this good news, the wedding guests would feast and make merry for the next seven days.

During the seven days of the wedding festivities, which were sometimes called the “seven days of the chuppah,” the bride remained hidden in the bridal chamber. After these seven days, the groom would bring his bride out of the bridal chamber, now with her veil removed, so that all could see who his bride was.

The Bride of Christ: The Church

How a wedding in ancient Israel is celebrated is a picture with spiritual parallels to the church of Jesus Christ and even to each individual believer’s relationship to Christ.

The Bridegroom is no other than Jesus Christ.

On one occasion, Jesus was questioned by the Scribes and Pharisees about fasting. They asked Him, “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?” And He said to them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them” (Luke 5:33-34)?

John the Baptist answered the question of the Scribes and Pharisees in John 3:27-29.

In the examination of the analogy of Jesus’ promise to His disciples (and to all believers) in John 14:1-3, the first thing that should be noted is the fact that the New Testament clearly pictures the Church as the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-23).

Behold, Here Comes the Bridegroom

The Betrothal of Christ with the Church

Also, just as the Jewish bridegroom took the initiative in marriage by leaving his father’s house and traveling to the home of the prospective bride, so Jesus left His Father’s house in heaven and traveled to earth, the home of His prospective bride (the Church), over 2,000 years ago.

In the same manner, as the Jewish bridegroom came to the bride’s home to obtain her through the establishment of a marriage covenant, so Jesus came to earth to obtain the Church through the establishment of a covenant.

On the same night in which Jesus made His promise in John 14:1-3, He instituted communion. As He passed the cup of wine to His disciples, He said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood (1 Corinthians 11:25).” This was His way of saying that He would establish a new covenant through the shedding of His blood on the cross.

Parallel to the custom of the Jewish groom paying a price to purchase His bride, Jesus paid a price to purchase His bride, the Church. The price that He paid was His own lifeblood (1 Peter 1:18-19 NLT; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV).

Analogous with the Jewish bride being declared to be sanctified or set apart exclusively for her groom once the marriage covenant was established, the Church has been declared to be sanctified or set apart exclusively for Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27); 1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:11; Hebrews 10:10; 13:12).

The Coming of the Lord for His Church

In the same manner, as the Jewish groom came to take his bride to live with him at the end of the separation period, so Christ will come to take His bride to live with Him at the end of His period of separation from her (John 14:3).

Analogous with the Jewish bride not knowing the exact time of the groom’s coming for her, the Church does not know the exact time of Christ’s coming for her. This is why the believers need to keep watch because no one knows the day or the hour when the Son of Man comes (Matthew 24:36).


In the same way that the Jewish groom’s arrival was preceded by a shout, so Christ’s arrival to take the Church will be preceded by a shout (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

Similar to the Jewish bride’s return with the groom to his father’s house after she departs from her home, the Church will return with Christ to His Father’s house in heaven after she is “caught up” from the earth to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

The Church & the Tribulation

Corresponding with the Jewish bride remaining hidden in the bridal chamber for a period of seven days after arrival at the groom’s father, the Church will remain hidden for a period of seven years after arrival at Christ’s Father’s house in heaven.

While the seven-year Tribulation period is taking place on the earth, the Church will be in heaven totally hidden from the sight of those living on the earth.

Just as the Jewish groom brought his bride out of the bridal chamber at the conclusion of the seven days with her veil removed, so that all could see who his bride was, so Christ will bring His Church out of heaven in His Second Coming at the conclusion of the seven-year Tribulation period in full view of all who are alive, so that all can see who the true Church is (Colossians 3:4).

Conclusion

Someday at the appointed time, the Father in heaven will tell His Son, “Go, Son, and get Your bride and bring her home!” Christ will come to take His bride, and she will be presented to His Father as a glorious, unblemished bride. At this point, the Father will have fulfilled His legal contract when He betrothed us to Christ.

We are still waiting for this presentation phase of the marriage. We are waiting for our Bridegroom to come to take us to Himself. We are waiting to hear the midnight cry, “Behold, here comes the Bridegroom! Come out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6).

Are you ready for the coming of our Bridegroom, to receive us to Himself?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Is The Fear Of The Lord?

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

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

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

Knowing God by Fearing Him

It All Starts With Fear

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

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

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

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

God’s Might Is Fearful

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bringing Our Offerings To God

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

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

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

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

Fear God, Not Circumstances

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

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

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

Fear God & Keep His Commandments

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

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

Why is the Fear of the Lord the Beginning of Knowledge

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

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

Closing Words

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the Doctrine of Purgatory?

What is the Doctrine of Purgatory?

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

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

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

Origin of the Doctrine of Purgatory

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

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

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

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

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

Further Teachings About Purgatory

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

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

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

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

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

Is Purgatory in the Bible?

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

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

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

1. Isaiah 4:4

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

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

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

2. Matthew 5:25-26

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

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

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

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

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

3. Matthew 12:32

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

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

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

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

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

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


4. Matthew 18:34

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

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

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

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

5. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Doctrine of Purgatory is Unbiblical

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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


References:

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

2) Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

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

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

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

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

Contributors and views include:

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

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

Do Christians & Muslims Have the Same God?

Do Christians & Muslims Have the Same God?

Some assume that Allah, the God of Islam, is just another name for Yahweh or Jehovah, the God of the Bible. Is Allah and Yahweh the same God? Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

No! The God of Islam is not the same God revealed in Scripture. This can be seen in two distinct areas. First, the God of the Bible and the God of Islam have different attributes or characteristics. Second, the God of Scripture is a Trinity while the God of Islam is not.

Difference in Attributes

The Christian God and the Muslim God have different attributes. While the Bible and the Quran attribute similar powers to Yahweh and Allah, they are certainly not the same God. This can be seen in several ways.

Yahweh is a God of Love, Allah is Not

Muslims recite ninety-nine names of God, going three times through a prayer strand with thirty-three beads on it. Christians can agree with Muslims on almost every one of these attributes of God. The fourth attribute is that He is the Holy One, and the forty-seventh is that “He is the Loving One.”

However, holiness and love are not driving passions in many Muslim’s understanding of God. This is seen in a contrast between the God of the Bible and the God of Islam. Islam emphasizes Allah’s absolute power and control and Muslims submit to its many rules.

Yet they cannot have any assurance whatsoever about their standing before God, that is until Judgment Day. Islam teaches that God is aloof in His majestic glory; that He is a God who is detached from all else.

In contrast to this, the Bible depicts God as a personal being whose love and compassion toward humanity was shown by the coming of Jesus Christ. The loving God showed His love for this world by sending His Son.

The most famous Bible verse also referred to as the “Heart of the Bible,” speaks of God’s love for the entire world. We read the following.

Is Yahweh and Allah the Same God

God’s love was demonstrated in sending the Messiah, the Christ.

God is also specifically called love in 1 John 4:8. God is not only “full of love;” the God of the Bible is a God of love.

Yahweh Never Lies, Allah Deceives

It has been observed that in three different places, the Quran seems to teach that Allah actually intentionally deceives people. They are as follows:

“And the disbelievers planned, but Allah planned. And Allah is the best of planners” (Surah 3:54).

Elsewhere it says:

“And when those who disbelieved devised plans against you that they might confine you or slay you or drive you away; and they devised plans and Allah too had arranged a plan; and Allah is the best of planners” (Surah 8:30).

“And when we make people taste of mercy after an affliction touches them, lo! They devise plans against Our communication. Say, Allah is quicker to plan; surely Our messengers write down what you plan” (Surah 10:21).

Note that the English translations of these verses use words like “plan” or “best planner” when speaking of Allah. However, it has been argued that the Arabic word actually means “deceives.” If this is the case, then the Quran teaches that Allah is a God of deception.

This is in contrast to the God of the Bible who does not and cannot lie. Paul wrote this to Titus:

“This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God – who does not lie – promised them before the world began.” (Titus 1:2 NLT).

God cannot and does not lie because this is not part of His nature. We are told the same thing in Hebrews 6:18 (NLT). Indeed, Scripture says that there are two unchangeable things about God: His promise and His oath. Consequently, it is not possible for Him to lie.

Again, the Christian God, the God of the Bible, is the God of truth.

Trinitarian vs. Unitarian

The Quran portrays a different God than that of Christianity. The first duty of a Muslim is to publicly recite the Shahada which says, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.”

This statement of faith is primary for the Muslim. Allah alone is God and within his nature, there is only one divine person. Islam rejects the Trinity and the New Testament teaching that Jesus Christ is the eternal God. They consider Him only a prophet, for God does not and could not have a son.

The Quran says, “But it is not suitable for (the Majesty of) the Most Beneficent (Allah) that he should beget a son” (Surah 19:92).

In another place, it says, “And behold God will say, “O Jesus the Son of Mary! Did you say unto men, ‘Worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of God” (Surah 5:116)?

The Quran assumed that the Trinity consisted of God the Father, God the Son Jesus, and Jesus’ mother Mariam (Mary).

In no uncertain terms, Islam rejects the Trinity. The Quran further says, “They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them” (Surah 5:73).

The Quran, therefore, contains direct attacks against the doctrine of the Trinity. The following statement could not be clearer; Allah does not have a son.

“People of the Book, do not exceed the limits of devotion in your religion or say anything about God which is not the Truth. Jesus, son of Mary, is only a Messenger of God, His Word, and a spirit from Him whom He conveyed to Mary. So have faith in God and His Messengers. Do not say that there are three gods. It is better for you to stop believing in the Trinity. There is only One God. He is too glorious to give birth to a son. To God belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. God alone is a Sufficient Guardian for all” (Surah 4:171).

The Quran assumes that Christians believe in three gods, Of course, this is blasphemy against Allah, the only God who exists.

The Bible Teaches that God is a Trinity

What should the Christian response be to the accusation of Muslims? The Bible teaches that there is one eternal God who has revealed Himself in three eternal persons, or three centers of consciousness. They are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

These three persons are the one God. This is the doctrine of the Trinity.

Unfortunately, there were some Christians who were teaching false ideas of the Trinity in Mecca. One such distortion of the Trinity claimed that God actually has a wife named Mary. God and Mary produced a child whom they named Jesus.

This is the sort of distortion of the doctrine of the Trinity that Muhammad was acquainted with. He, along with many others, concluded that Christians believed in three gods; “tri-theists.”

Here’s a video of a former Muslim, turned Christian, explaining the Trinity.

The Importance of the Trinity

The importance of the Trinity doctrine cannot be overestimated. There are many reasons why this is so.

This is how God has revealed Himself. God has revealed Himself in Scripture as a Triune God. Scripture teaches that the one God exists in three eternal persons. They are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is what the one true God has said about Himself. He is the only God who exists (Isaiah 45:5; Isaiah 46:9) and He exists as a Trinity.

This is His revelation to us, and we are obligated to believe it, not doubt it, nor question it.

The Trinity is an example of the statement, “God is love.” For all eternity, there has been love between the three members of the Godhead. Consequently, God has never needed anything or anybody because there was love and communication among the different members of the Trinity.

Islam Claims Allah and Yahweh are the Same God

While it is obvious that Allah, the God of Islam, is not the same as Yahweh, the God of the Bible, Muslims insist that it is so. In fact, Islam not only demands that faithful Muslims believe this, it also demands that Jews and Christians believe it as well. This is consistent with their belief that the Quran is the divine revelation from Allah which supersedes the Bible.

Since Muslims acknowledge the Scriptures to be the Word of Allah, they must, therefore, insist that the same God who has been revealed in the Old and New Testament is the same God as revealed in the Quran.

When the Bible and the Quran differ in their characterizations of God, it is the Quran that always provides the final word since it is Allah’s later revelation to humanity.

Of course, Christians and Jews do not accept this line of argumentation since they do not believe the Quran to be the Word of God or Muhammad to be a prophet of God.

Consequently, the differences between the biblical view of God and what the Quran teaches, are further evidence that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam cannot be harmonized.

Conclusion

Although Christianity and Islam each claim that there is only one God that exists, they do not actually believe in the same God. Indeed, the Christian God as the Bible reveals, and the Muslim God, which the Quran speaks of, are entirely different.

As mentioned earlier, Islam believes and teaches about an impersonal God who does not love sinful humanity. He is not someone who can be known on a personal level. This is in contrast to Yahweh, the God of the Bible, who is a personal God and desires to have a personal relationship with each human being.

It is clear: the God of Islam is not the same God as in Christianity. Therefore, the explanation of God, in at least one of these two faiths, must be wrong. Either God is a Trinity or He is not. Islam and Christianity cannot both be true at the same time.

Indeed, Christians and Muslims do not believe in the same God.


Reference: Understanding Islam by Don Stewart

Recommended Resource: No God but One: Allah or Jesus? A former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi

Do Christians & Muslims Have the Same God?Having shared his journey of faith in the New York Times bestselling Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi now examines Islam and Christianity in detail, exploring areas of crucial conflict and unpacking the relevant evidence.

In this anticipated follow-up book, Nabeel reveals what he discovered in the decade following his conversion, providing a thorough and careful comparison of the evidence for Islam and Christianity – evidence that wrenched his heart and transformed his life.

In Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi recounted his dramatic journey, describing his departure from Islam and his decision to follow Christ. In the years that followed, he realized that the world’s two largest religions are far more different than they initially appeared.

No God but One: Allah or Jesus? addresses the most important questions at the interface of Islam and Christianity: How do the two religions differ? Are the differences significant? Can we be confident that either Christianity or Islam is true? And most important, is it worth sacrificing everything for the truth?

Nabeel shares stories from his life and ministry, casts new light on current events, and explores pivotal incidents in the histories of both religions, providing a resource that is gripping and thought-provoking, respectful and challenging.

Both Islam and Christianity teach that there is No God but One, but who deserves to be worshiped, Allah or Jesus?

The 3 Levels of Heaven

The 3 Levels of Heaven

In the previous article, “Is Heaven a Real Place,” someone posted a comment asking how many heavens are there and who lives in each of them. I say his question is valid because Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Heavens must mean more than one, right?

But instead of writing a long response to the commenter’s question, I decided to write an article about the 3 levels of heaven and look at the various Scripture references supporting the idea of more than one heaven.

Jesus Passed through the Heavens

Hebrews 4:14 says, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.”

The fact that Jesus “passed through the heavens” seems to give evidence that there is more than one heaven.

Another translation puts it this way: “We need to hold on to our declaration of faith: We have a superior chief priest who has gone through the heavens. That person is Jesus, the Son of God” (God’s Word).

Consequently, the reference to plural “heavens,” seems to refer to more than one “heaven.”

The Third Heaven

The Bible specifically refers to the third heaven. In 2 Corinthians 12:2, Paul refers to himself in the third person when he said, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows – such a one was caught up to the third heaven.”

So, if there is a third heaven it seems there must also be a first and second heaven.

What are the 3 Heavens

The 3 Levels of Heaven Explained

It is important to note that the term “heaven” is not used symbolically in Scripture; instead, it usually refers to one of three realms.

The three heavens are divided as follows:

1. Our immediate atmosphere

2. Outer space (the sun, moon, and stars)

3. The home of God

The Atmospheric Heaven – The First Heaven

The first heaven is linked to what we call the “atmospheric heaven.” This includes the air that we breathe as well as the space that immediately surrounds the earth. The technical term for this is the “troposphere.” It extends about twenty miles above the earth. The space above this is called the “stratosphere.”

The Bible uses the term heaven to describe this area in Genesis 6:7.

So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

In this passage, the “birds of the air” are the “birds of heaven.” The Hebrew word used here is the same word, in other contexts used of the presence of God, heaven.

Jesus also spoke of the “birds of the air” or the “birds of the sky” in the Sermon on the Mount. “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they” (Matthew 6:26)?

The word translated “air” is ouranos, the same Greek word that is elsewhere translated “heaven.” Thus, the word can mean heaven, sky, or air. It all depends upon the context.

Another example of this use of the term can be found in James 5:18. In this verse, we are told that the “heaven gave rain.” It is the sky, the first heaven, which gave rain. Therefore, Scripture often uses the term heaven in the same way as we would use the word “sky.”

The Celestial Heaven – The Second Heaven

The term heaven is also used of what we call the celestial heaven, known as the “second heaven.” This use of the term heaven refers to outer space or the stellar heaven. It includes the sun, moon, and stars.

We find this use of the term in the words of our Lord Jesus when He describes coming events. He said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29).

The stars are said to be “in heaven” or “in the sky.”

Deuteronomy 10:14 also speaks of heavenly spheres which beyond that is visible from the earth. “Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it.”

The psalmist also wrote about this heaven of heavens when he said, “Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens” (Psalm 148:4)!

Therefore, there seems to be a second heaven, a celestial heaven.

Heaven, God’s Dwelling Place – The Third Heaven

The Bible is clear that God cannot be limited to any one geographical place. At the dedication of the first temple in the city of Jerusalem, King Solomon asked the following question when praying to the Lord:

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built” (1 Kings 8:27)!

King Solomon realized that the Lord was not limited to that one particular place. Indeed, the entire universe cannot contain Him.

Yet, Scripture also teaches us that there is a certain geographical place where God’s presence resides in some unique sense. It is also designated heaven. The writer to the Hebrews said, “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1).

God’s throne is spoken of as residing somewhere – heaven.

Quote about Heaven

Heaven is God’s Presence

When Stephen was being stoned to death, he knew that he was going to a specific place and that would be in the presence of the Lord (Acts 7:55). While God does not reside in one particular area, there is a place where His presence dwells in a unique way. And Stephen was allowed to see that place as he was nearing death.

We also read this in Hebrews 9:24, “For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”

Although the exact location of the abode of God is not revealed in Scripture, it is spoken of as being above the first and second heavens.

Heaven is an Actual Place

We can conclude that that there is such a specific place as third heaven. And since the first two heavens are actual places we should also conclude that a third heaven is also a real place. There is no reason to assume it is symbolic especially since the first two heavens are speaking of known realities.

But then again, while the Lord is not limited to this third heaven, in some special way He has a place there. This is the clear teaching of the Bible on the subject.

Conclusion

Heaven may be beyond the limits of our vision and many people do regard it as merely a sphere of life, or a state of independent locality. But heaven is a real place – the three levels of heaven are actual places.

The first heaven is the immediate atmosphere above us, the second heaven is the place where the sun, moon, and stars exist, and the third heaven is God’s dwelling place. And someday we will be in the third heaven too. The Bible says we are citizens of heaven living as strangers and pilgrims on this foreign land (Philippians 3:20; 1 Peter 2:11).

But while we wait for our Lord to come back for us and take us to our native home, we are to live heavenly lives here on earth.


Reference: Heaven, the final Destination of Believers by Don Stewart

Recommended Resource: Place Called Heaven: 10 Surprising Truths about Your Eternal Home

If any of us learned we were going to move to a foreign country, we’d do everything we could to learn about that place so that we’d be prepared when moving day arrived. As Christians, we know some day we will leave our familiar country and be united with God in heaven. And yet many of us know very little about this place called heaven.

In this enlightening book, bestselling author Dr. Robert Jeffress opens the Scriptures to unpack ten surprising truths about heaven and explain who we will see there and how we can prepare to go there someday.

Perfect for believers or skeptics who are curious about heaven.

How Does One Today Commit the Unforgivable Sin?

How Does One Today Commit the Unforgivable Sin?

In the previous article, we said that the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the one sin that cannot and will not be forgiven in this life or in eternity. In Jesus’ day, this sin was committed by the religious leaders when they attributed the miraculous works of Jesus Christ, performed through the power of the Holy Spirit to the devil (Matthew 12:22-24).

Since the ministry of the Holy Spirit gave clear testimony to Jesus being the Messiah, those who rejected this truth could not be forgiven. Indeed, apart from Jesus Christ, there is no forgiveness of sin.

This brings up and all-important question. Since Jesus is no longer on the earth, how does one blaspheme the Holy Spirit today? How does a person commit the “unforgivable sin?”

In other words, what sin does a person commit that will keep them out of heaven for all eternity?

Explaining the Unforgivable Sin Today

We certainly do not want to be guilty of committing the unforgivable sin. So, how can it be avoided? We need to understand that this particular situation, where Jesus spoke of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, was unique. 

Jesus Christ was physically present on the earth, performing miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit to testify that He was the promised Messiah. The religious leaders rejected His miraculous deeds as coming from the Lord. Instead, they attributed them to a demonic source.

Thus, how they insulted or blasphemed the Holy Spirit was clear.

How Does One Commit the Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

But Jesus Christ is not with us today in a physical presence like He was in the first century. Indeed, Christ is not on the earth to personally work His miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit.

How then does the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit occur in our day and age without Jesus’ presence? Can a person still commit the unforgivable sin?

The World Still Needs Forgiveness

To begin with, we find that the work of the Holy Spirit is still the same; nothing has changed. His mission is to testify about Jesus Christ and to show the world it needs His forgiveness (John 15:26).

On the night of His betrayal, Jesus said to His disciples that it is to their advantage that He goes away, for if He does not go away, the Helper will not come to them. But when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11).

Among other things, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict the unbelieving world of sin. His mission is to show them their need of Jesus Christ as Savior.

The Unforgivable Sin Today: Unbelief in Jesus

Today, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unbelief in Jesus.

It is insulting or rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit which testifies that Christ is Savior and Lord. This is confirmed by what Jesus said in Luke 12:8-12 (NIV), where He equated the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit with the preaching of the message by His disciples.

The message of Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, is still to be proclaimed today. Those who reject it are actually insulting the God of the Bible. It follows that those who continually reject the Holy Spirit’s ministry of portraying Jesus Christ as the only Savior of humanity are blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

If this state of sin continues they will not receive forgiveness for their sins but rather the wrath, or judgment, of God, will remain on them. The Word of God makes their fate clear in John 3:36.

Those who reject the Son can only expect to experience God’s wrath. They cannot ever receive forgiveness for their sin, neither in this world nor in the next.

A State of Continuous Unbelief

Today, as in Christ’s time, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is a continuous state of unbelief rather than the commission of one particular sin. Unless that state of unbelief changes, the person will suffer eternal separation from the Lord.

The Bible speaks of the state of condemnation unbelievers now find themselves in John 3:18. Those who have rejected Jesus Christ are in this state of unbelief. This unbelief will result in eternal condemnation unless a person turns to Christ for forgiveness.

John 3:36

Conclusion

How does one commit the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in our day and age? Today, one blasphemes the Holy Spirit by rejecting the ministry of the Holy Spirit that speaks of the necessity of accepting Jesus Christ as Savior.

Jesus specifically said the Holy Spirit was to come into the world and convict the unbelievers of their sin. If they did not respond to His work, then there is no hope for them. There would be no forgiveness in this life or the next.

Jesus also made this clear when He spoke of the future ministry of His disciples. Those who rejected their testimony about Jesus would also be blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, in our day and age, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the state of unbelief in Jesus Christ as Savior. It is more of a continuing and persistent rejection of the Holy Spirit than one particular sin.

To sum it up, the only unforgivable sin which will keep people out of heaven is the rejection of Jesus Christ as their Savior. Every other sin we do commit can and will be forgiven.

On the other hand, once a person trusts Christ as their Savior, then there is no possibility of them committing the unforgivable sin.


*Excerpt is taken from“Living in the Light of Eternity” (The After Life Series Volume 1) by Don Stewart.

Why is Jesus called the Son of Man?

Why is Jesus called the Son of Man?

During His earthly ministry, Jesus’ favorite designation in referring to Himself was “the Son of Man.” As a matter of fact, seventy-eight times the Gospels record Jesus using this title for Himself.

One of the most notable instances was when Jesus asked His disciples the question about His identity and put it to them this way:

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am” (Matthew 16:13)?

Why did Jesus refer to Himself as the “Son of Man?” Why not call Himself “the Messiah,” “the Son of God” or “the Son of David.” After all, each of these titles was rightfully His.

The Phrase “Son of Man” in the Old Testament

In the Hebrew Bible, the Hebrew expression “son of man” appears 107 times, the majority (93 times) of which appears in the book of Ezekiel. And there are three ways that this expression is used:

  • to contrast the lowly status of humanity against the exalted dignity of God and the angels (Psalm 8:4; Numbers 23:19).
  • as a form of human address to Ezekiel.
  • as a future eschatological figure whose coming will signal the end of history and the time of God’s judgment (Daniel 7:13-14).

The phrase Son of Man in the Old and New Testament

The Phrase “Son of Man” in the New Testament

In the New Testament, Jesus is called “the Son of Man” eighty-eight times. What is the significance of using this designation for Himself? Below are several ways by which the phrase is used.

It is Connected with the Sufferings of Jesus.

The title “Son of Man” is connected with the sufferings that Jesus would experience on behalf of His humanity. Notice that Jesus used this title when He began to predict what would happen to Him in the future (Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 8:31).

We do not find the Lord referring to Himself with titles such as Messiah or Son of God, when predicting His suffering on the cross, as well as His resurrection. Rather, He used the title “Son of Man.”

It is Connected with Jesus’ Earthly Life and Ministry.

When Jesus took on humanity to save mankind, Jesus was recorded saying He had no place to call home. Matthew records the following:

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20).

It Refers to Jesus’ Perfect Humanity.

Some believe the title “Son of Man” refers to the fact of Jesus’ perfect humanity. Although He was God, Jesus came down and lived among us as the perfect human being. In so doing, He fulfilled the Law of Moses and did what no other human being was able to do.

By using the title “Son of Man,” Jesus was identifying with the people He had come to save. Jesus wanted to convey the truth that He was entirely human; that although He was God, He became a human being and lived among us for a short period of time.

It is Used in Contexts where Jesus Claims Deity.

Many people who believe that Jesus was just a man use the argument that Jesus never claimed to be God to support their position. In fact, they say, Jesus referred to Himself as the son of man. Yet, we find this designation used in contexts where Jesus claimed deity.

Here are just a few examples:

1. In Mark 2:10, Jesus uses the title Son of Man for Himself when claiming authority to forgive sins. The Jews recognize that only God can forgive sins and yet Jesus used this authority while using the title “Son of Man” rather than “Son of God.”

2. In Mark 2:28, Jesus claimed that He, the Son of Man was “Lord of the Sabbath.” Again, we find this designation of Himself used in a context of rights and privileges which belong to God alone. Indeed, only God Himself could claim that He is Lord of the Sabbath.

3. In Luke 19:10, Jesus used the title “Son of Man” for Himself when He stated that He came to earth to save the lost.

4. In the book of Daniel, we read of the prediction that the Son of Man would inherit God’s everlasting kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14).

In this context, the Son of Man is a divine Person who is in the presence of the Ancient of Days (God the Father). Obviously, this cannot refer to an ordinary human being for no human being could be in such a position.

Therefore, by using the title the Son of Man, Jesus was actually claiming deity. Furthermore, when Jesus was on trial for His life and was asked if He were the Messiah, He referred to this prediction in Daniel.

Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62).

Jesus’ statement infuriated the religious leaders and charged Him of blasphemy for claiming equal authority with God. They clearly understood that Jesus referred to Daniel’s prophecy and was claiming the position of authority with God.

Why is Jesus called the Son of Man

It Speaks of Jesus’ Exaltation and Rule.

Jesus also used the title “Son of Man” when He spoke of His return to the earth and His rule (Matthew 25:31). Jesus will come to rule and reign the title Son of Man will be His favorite once again.

Conclusion

Why did Jesus prefer to be called the Son of Man?

Some might think that the title Son of God refers to Jesus’ deity and Son of Man implies His humanity. However, the term Son of Man goes back to Daniel’s vision of a divine being who was given dominion and glory and a kingdom that shall not be destroyed and will be worshiped by all peoples, nations, and languages.

Son of Man is not merely a title for a human being. It is a title that belongs to God Himself and the religious leaders who were schooled in the Old Testament Scriptures knew exactly what Jesus was claiming for Himself.


Recommended Resource: Son of Man: The Gospel of Daniel 7 and Son of Man: The Apostles’ Gospel by Samuel Whitefield

Jesus never used the title Messiah publicly and, instead, referred to Himself as the Son of Man 78 times. Why?

Son of Man by Samuel Whitefield

The New Testament Gospels, as they are written, depend on Daniel 7. Jesus referenced this chapter far more than any other to reveal Himself as the divine Human and to declare His gospel.

Jesus’ first-century audience understood His message, but we have lost sight of the way Jesus presented His gospel. Our understanding of Jesus, our grasp of the biblical story, and our ability to clearly communicate the gospel have been seriously hindered by our not fully understanding one particular chapter in the Bible.

Daniel 7 is not just an end-time chapter. Based on Jesus’ words, Daniel 7 is a gospel-centered chapter and perhaps the premier summary of Jesus’ majesty.

If we do not know this chapter, we cannot fully grasp the gospel. Jesus commissioned us to carry the message found in this chapter to every people, but we cannot carry what we do not understand. Let Daniel open your eyes to the gospel as Jesus proclaimed it.

Did the apostles continue to use Daniel 7 as a foundation for their gospel? When we examine the New Testament carefully, we find something surprising: Daniel 7 was a framework the apostles repeatedly used to present the gospel of the kingdom.

View the apostles’ gospel through the lens of Daniel 7 in Son of Man: The Apostles’ Gospel, and rediscover the message that turned the world upside down.