Category: Theology

Are All People God’s Children?

Are All People God’s Children?

I often hear people say, “We are all children of God and so we must treat each other like family.” In a general sense, this is true. All men and women are God’s offspring in that He is the Creator (Acts 17:2-29).

However, this relationship is not sufficient to offset the penalty of sin. It’s because we are all sinners separated from God (Romans 3:23). Therefore, for a sinful person to become a child of God, a miraculous transformation must take place.

The Doctrine of Adoption

In regeneration, God gives us new spiritual life within and in justification; God gives us a right legal standing before Him. But in adoption, God makes us members of His family.

Thus, we can define adoption as an act of God whereby He makes us members of His family. The doctrine of adoption focuses more on the personal relationships that salvation gives us with God and with His people.

That leaves us with the question, “If we only become children of God through adoption, whose children are we before that?”

The Doctrine of Adoption

In John 1:12, we read that only those who receive Christ and believe in His name are given the right to become God’s children. By contrast, those who do not believe in Christ are sons of disobedience and children of wrath (Ephesians 2:2-3; 5:6).

When the Jews who rejected Christ claimed that God was their Father, Jesus said, “…you are of your father, the devil…” (John 8:41-44).

From Slave to Son

When Christians are adopted into God’s family, a dramatic transformation of status takes place from slave to son. As God’s sons, we can call God, “Abba Father,” and become heirs of God through Christ (Galatians 4:6-7, Romans 8:15-17).

But if we are God’s children, are we then related to one another as family members? Certainly! This adoption into God’s family makes us partakers even with the Old Testament-believing Jews. Paul says that we are all Abraham’s children as well and children of the promise (Romans 9:7-8).

Paul explains that this status of adoption into God’s family was not fully realized in the Old Covenant. He says, “Before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law… the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:23-26).

While the people of Israel knew God as their Father, the full benefits and privileges of membership in God’s family did not come until Christ.

Evidence of Adoption

If we are, indeed, God’s children, what evidence do we see in our lives? The clear evidence is the fact that the Holy Spirit bears witness in our hearts that we are God’s children.

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6)!

We also see in John’s first epistle how he places much emphasis on our status as God’s children. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God. Beloved, now we are children of God … (1 John 3:1-2).

Notice that John frequently refers to his readers as “children of God.”

Although the New Testament says we are “now children of God,” there is another sense in which our adoption is still future. We will not receive the full benefits and privileges of adoption until Christ returns to give us glorified bodies (Romans 8:23).

How Do We Become Children of God

Adoption vs. Regeneration

There’s a common notion that we become God’s children by regeneration. This is because the imagery of being “born again” in regeneration makes us think of children being born into a human family.

However, the New Testament never connects adoption with regeneration. Rather, the idea of adoption is opposite to the idea of being born into a family. Adoption is connected with saving faith. This is to say that God has adopted us into His family in response to our trusting in Christ.

John 1:12 and Galatians 3:23-26 make it clear that adoption follows conversion as God’s response to our faith. Furthermore, Paul’s statement in Galatians 4:6 does not refer to the giving of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Rather, it is an act of the Holy Spirit in which He begins to bear witness with our spirit that we are members of God’s family.

This work of the Holy Spirit assures us of our adoption. In this sense, Paul says, God causes His Holy Spirit within our hearts to cry, “Abba Father,” after we have become sons.

Adoption vs. Justification

Just like regeneration, justification is distinct from adoption. God could have given us a right legal standing before Him without making us His children. This is why it is important to recognize how great our privileges are in adoption.

As mentioned in the first part of this post, adoption has to do with our relationship with God as our Father. When we were adopted into God’s family, God has given us many of the greatest blessings that we will know for all eternity. When we realize how great these blessings are, knowing that God is not obligated to give any of them to us, we will also exclaim:

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1)!

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The Benefits of Adoption

I mentioned several times that there are blessings that come with becoming members of God’s family.

1. God Becomes Our Father

The first and greatest benefit or privilege of our adoption is being able to speak to God and have a relationship with Him as a Father. As we pray, “Our Father in heaven …” (Matthew 6:9), we realize that we are His sons, not slaves. Thus, we relate to God as a child relates to his or her father.

This relationship to God as our Father is the foundation of many other blessings of the Christian life. It’s true; God is our Creator, Lord, Master, Judge, Teacher, Provider, Protector, and Sustainer of our existence. But the most intimate role that conveys the highest privilege of our fellowship with God for eternity is Him being our heavenly Father.

2. God Loves Us and Cares for Us

Another benefit of adoption is that God’s love for us and cares deeply for us. As His children, God our Father has compassion on us (Psalm 103:13, NIV). Moreover, our heavenly Father gives us many good gifts (Matthew 7:11) and a great inheritance in heaven (1 Peter 1:4).

The privilege of being led by the Holy Spirit is also a benefit of adoption (Romans 8:14). This is a moral benefit whereby the Holy Spirit puts in us desires to obey God and live according to His will. As God’s children, we must submit in obedience to the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit.

3. God Disciplines Us

Still, another benefit of adoption that we may not always recognize is God disciplining us (Hebrews 12:5-6; Proverbs 3:11-12). The author of Hebrews explains that God is disciplining us because we are His legitimate children (Hebrews 12:7-8).

As our heavenly Father disciplines us, we grow in righteousness and share in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10, NIV).

God Disciplines Those Whom He Love

4. Fellowship with Other Believers

Finally, we also have privileges of adoption that affect the way that we relate to each other and affect our own personal conduct.

Because we are God’s children, our relationship with each other is far deeper and more intimate than the relationship among angels. Many passages throughout the New Testament refer to Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ.

See Romans 1:13; 8:12; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 6:8; James 1:2; Matthew 12:50; Romans 16:1; 1 Corinthians 7:15; Philemon 1:2; and James 2:15.

This indicates the strong consciousness they had of the nature of the church as the family of God. As members of God’s family, we are to work together for the good of the family and the honor of God our Father.

Conclusion

All people on the earth are God’s creation but not all of them are God’s children. Scriptures are clear! Only those who place their faith in Christ become members of God’s family.

Have you received Jesus as your Lord and believed in His name? Did you receive the “Spirit of adoption” by whom you cry out, “Abba Father?”

If you are not yet a member of God’s family, why don’t you confess your sins right now? Acknowledge you’re a sinner, believe in the Lord Jesus, and receive God’s forgiveness for your sins. In response to your faith, God will give you the right to become His child and adopt you into His family.

As a result of your adoption, you will be able to enjoy the many blessings and privileges of being a child and son of God.


Reference: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

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:

Adopted by God: From Wayward Sinners to Cherished Children by Robert A. Peterson

In an age of family breakdown, loneliness, and insecurity, we need more than ever to grasp the meaning of being sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. Surprisingly, theologians have devoted little attention to the biblical teaching on adoption.

This book views the many facets of God’s saving grace through the lens of the Bible’s family imagery. Combining careful exegesis with gripping personal stories of father-child relationships, Robert A. Peterson brings home the warmth and wonder of biblical adoption.

Can Miracles Still Happen Today?

Can Miracles Still Happen Today?

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

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

What are Miracles?

A miracle may have several, different definitions.

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

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

The Biblical Definition of Miracles

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

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

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

3. Another definition of a miracle is “God working in the world without using means to bring about the results He wishes.”

Again, this definition is inadequate. To speak of God working “without means” leaves us with very few if any miracles in the Bible. It is hard to think of a miracle that came about with no means at all.

When Jesus healed people, for example, some of the physical properties of the sick person’s body were doubtless involved as part of the healing.

When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, He at least used the original five loaves and two fishes that were there. When He changed water to wine, He used water and made it become wine.

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

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

Miracles in the Bible

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

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

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

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

Jesus’ Ministry of Miracles

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

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

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

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

The Purposes of Miracles

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

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

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

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

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

Objections to Miracles

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

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

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

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

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


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.

Are Miracles Still Happening Today?

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

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

What about today?

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

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

Miracle: An Answer to Prayers

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

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

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

Should Christians Seek Miracles?

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

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

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

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

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

Do Miracles Exist Today?

Experiencing Miracles

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

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

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

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


References:

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

 

Are the Soul and Spirit Eternal?

Are the Soul and Spirit Eternal?

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

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

Is the Soul Immortal?

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

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

Death means Separation of the Body from the Soul and Spirit

What the Old Testament Teaches

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Everyone Died

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

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

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

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What the New Testament Teaches

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

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

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

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

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

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

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

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

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

I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

Moses and Elijah

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

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

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

Obviously, they survived beyond the grave.

Everyone Will be Judged

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

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

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

Annihilation of the Soul and Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Souls Under the Altar

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

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

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

The Second Death

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

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

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

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

The Immortality of the Soul and Spirit

Nothing Can Separate Us from God

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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


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

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

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

Don will answer such questions:

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

Repentance Toward God, Faith Toward Jesus

Scripture puts repentance and faith together as different aspects of the one act of coming to Christ for salvation. It is not that we first repent and then trust in Christ, or trust in Christ first and then repent. Rather, repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus occur at the same time.

When we turn to Christ for salvation from our sins, we are simultaneously turning away from the sins that we are asking Christ to save us from. If that were not true our turning to Christ for salvation from sin could hardly be a genuine turning to Him or trusting in Him.

Repentance and Faith Must Come Together

Repentance may be defined as “a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.”

This definition indicates that repentance is something that can occur at a specific point in time. It is not equivalent to a demonstration of change in a person’s pattern of life.

Like faith, repentance is:

  • an intellectual understanding (that sin is wrong).
  • an emotional approval of the teachings of Scripture regarding sin (sorrow for sin and a hatred of it).
  • a personal decision to turn from it (a renouncing of sin and a decision of the will to forsake it and lead a life of obedience to Christ instead).

Repentance Toward God, Faith Toward Jesus

Repentance and faith are simply two different sides of the same coin or two different aspects of the one event of conversion.

One who genuinely turns to Christ for salvation must at the same time releases the sin to which he or she has been clinging and turns away from that sin to turn to Christ. Thus, neither repentance nor faith comes first; they must come together.

Paul summarizes his gospel ministry as one of “testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).

Genuine Repentance Involves Faith in Christ

Yes, sometimes faith alone is named as the thing necessary for coming to Christ for salvation. We see this in scriptures such as John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:8-9.

These are familiar passages and we often emphasize them when explaining the gospel to others. But what we do not often realize is the fact that there are many other passages where only repentance is named. Simply because it is assumed that true repentance will also involve faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins.

The authors of the New Testament understood so well that genuine repentance and genuine faith had to go together. Thus, they often simply mentioned repentance alone with the understanding that faith would also be included. It’s because genuinely turning from sins is impossible apart from a genuine turning to God.

When we realize that genuine saving faith must be accompanied by genuine repentance for sin, it helps us to understand why some preaching of the gospel has such inadequate results today. With no mention of the need for repentance, sometimes the gospel message becomes only, “Believe in Jesus Christ and be saved.”

Preaching the need for faith without repentance is preaching only half of the gospel. It will result in many people being deceived, thinking that they have heard the Christian gospel and tried it, but nothing has happened.

Genuine Saving Faith equals Genuine Repentance

Faith and Repentance Must Continue

It is important to realize that faith and repentance are not confined to the beginning of the Christian life. They are rather attitudes of the heart that continue throughout our lives as Christians.

Concerning faith, Paul tells us, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13). He certainly means that these three abide throughout this life, but he probably also means that they abide for all eternity.

If faith is trusting God to provide for all our needs, then this attitude will never cease, not even in the age to come. But in any case, the point is made that faith continues throughout this life.

Although initial saving faith and initial repentance indeed occur only once in our lives, when they occur they must constitute true conversion. The heart attitudes of repentance and faith begin at conversion should continue throughout our Christian lives.

Each day, there should be heartfelt repentance for sins that we have committed. Also, faith in Christ to provide for our needs and to empower us to live the Christian life.

Reflection and Challenge

Many people say they believe in God, like Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. Although the attributes of these gods are all different. Who is right? They all cannot be right.

I know based on the authority that the Bible is God’s word to humanity. Acts 20:21 proves that Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism are all false religions.

Acts 20:21 also proves that God is knowable and personal, which is the opposite of all far east religions because they have impersonal gods. Why repent to something you cannot know personally? God has revealed Himself to humanity by becoming a man: the God-Man; the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 1:1, 14 says that “the Word was God, was with God, and became a Man.” That is the Trinity in a nutshell. Muslims hate even the mention that God became a man and is Triune. Not to mention, Islam teaches a works-based salvation. But repentance implies surrendering and admitting our inability to save ourselves.

Closing Thoughts

I have heard Calvinists accuse Baptists that repentance is a work. That is just not true. Repentance is just humbly surrendering and admitting our inability to change ourselves and believing Jesus can change us.

This verse even refutes the worldview of dualism. If God is good and evil, why repent to someone no more righteous than we? Obviously, Acts 20:21 is teaching God is holy and righteous. We cannot earn salvation; it can only be given to us through the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Many times, I wonder how many Christians are even truly born again. If we all truly humbled ourselves and surrendered our will, our desires, and choices to God, why don’t we listen and apply God’s word to our everyday lives?

Too often biblically solid sermons are heard but are never applied to our lives because we are too proud to think we need to live like God’s Word is true. Nobody is as humble as Jesus, because nobody else is God.

Are we all willing to repent of our pride and request for more humility?


Reference:

Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem 

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.

Get a copy of my bookLife According to the Truth.”

Publisher’s Description

Do you know what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Did you know that God wants to prepare you during this life to live in heaven with Him? Does your purpose for life evade you?

In Life According to The Truth. Disciple of Jesus Christ, Michael Heilman honestly writes about the issues facing the church and how to live the victorious Christian life.

Michael expounds on biblical principles God has applied to Michael’s life and led to God’s blessing in many areas of his life. With illustrations, humor, and most importantly scripture, he explains to any born-again believer who is spiritually wandering through life, how to be spiritually blessed by God as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

In this devotional Bible study, you will be enlightened in regards to:

  • Why God must be the key focus of your life
  • How to love God
  • How to love others
  • How to discern God’s will for your life
  • How to be confident with your identity in Jesus Christ

Life is difficult, but God can enable you to have abundant joy. If you are a born-again believer that needs encouragement, this book is for you.

How Do You Pray in the Spirit?

How Do You Pray in the Spirit?

Praying in the Spirit is mentioned in the Scriptures three times. But what does this mean and how do you pray in the Spirit?

Prayer is one of the vital aspects of a healthy Christian life and the Bible has a lot to say about it. One of which is found in Ephesians 6:18 (NIV).

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

God is Spirit

God is Spirit (John 4:24) and because of that, we do not see Him physically. This is not to say that God is a ghost as most people might think a spirit being is. God as Spirit is also a person with the basic characteristics of a personality. God has intellect, emotions, and will. Thus, He thinks, feels, and acts.

It’s because God is a living person that we can get to know Him personally and communicate with Him freely. Isn’t this what prayer is all about? An open and free two-way communication with God? The best part is that God hears us regardless of where we are and when we want to commune with Him.

Relationship with GOD Quotes

Having a personal relationship with God gives us the confidence that He hears us and can grant our requests and petitions.

You might ask, “What does this have to do with my prayer life?” When the Word encourages us to pray in the Spirit, it’s telling us not to pray based on the things we see around us. We do not pray because of the circumstances surrounding us.

Instead, as Christians and followers of Christ, we pray on things that we do not yet see. We pray because we know that God can do something for us; that He can turn things meant by the devil against us for our good.

How to Pray in the Spirit

Aside from Ephesians 6:18, praying in the Spirit is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14:15 and Jude 1:20. Some equate praying in the Spirit with praying in tongues. Below are four ways by which believers may apply Paul’s encouragement to pray in the Spirit.

1. Pray Under the Guidance of the Holy Spirit

Praying in the Spirit is praying under the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 (NIV) says, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

The phrase, “Do not get drunk on wine” does not necessarily mean being drunk with any alcoholic beverage. Rather, this is can be anything else in the world that has the potential to shape our moral points of view. In the context of the passage, “to get drunk” is basically to be under the influence of something.

So, to pray in the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit. By allowing the Holy Spirit to “control” or influence what we pray for, we can be certain that our requests are in line with God’s will. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can pray according to what God desires for us.

At times when we do not know what we should pray for, the Holy Spirit also helps in our weakness. God Himself, through the Holy Spirit, helps by making intercession for us (Romans 8:26).

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2. Pray in Faith

We pray in the Spirit by praying in faith.

In the passage on the lesson from the withered fig tree, Jesus told His disciples a very important aspect of prayer. First, He told them to “have faith in God” (Mark 11:22). Then He said, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24).

Jesus explained that the miracle with the fig tree was a result of a prayer done in faith. He then encouraged His disciples to have this kind of faith and trust that God would hear them also.

Jesus is telling the same thing to His followers today. When we pray, we must have faith and believe that God will enable us to overcome any obstacle. To pray in faith is to trust God completely and rely solely on Him. And as we present our requests to God, we must believe that God has already answered them.

By the way, Mark 11:24 is not saying, “If we pray hard enough and believe, God is obligated to give whatever we ask for.” The kind of faith spoken here is faith in God; not faith in faith or anything else.

3. Pray with a Renewed Mind

To pray in the Spirit is to pray with a renewed mind. Romans 12:2 says, “… be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”

To “renew” means to “change” or “to replace.” Thus, renewing your mind means changing or replacing your old way of thinking with a new way. You do this by allowing the Word of God to transform your mind.

If you used to think and believe that God does not answer prayers and that’s why you won’t bother praying, you need a new mindset. A renewed mind allows you to pray for “the good, acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

When you pray with a renewed mind, you will pray according to God’s perfect will. So, you can be sure that you will receive what you asked for.

How Do You Pray in the Spirit?

4. Pray with Confidence

Praying in the Spirit is praying with confidence.

Knowing who we are in God is such a huge boost of confidence whenever we come to Him in prayer. We are God’s precious children and through faith, we can approach Him freely with confidence (Ephesians 3:12).

God has given us His seal of ownership, the Holy Spirit, and when we pray in the Spirit we are confident that God hears us.

In 1 John 5:14, we see the secret of power in prayer. When we ask anything according to God’s will we have the assurance that He hears us. God is a loving and generous God, and He wants us to ask of Him.

But this does not mean we can just ask God anything we want and He would grant it. To ask God anything means we should pray about everything because God cares about every aspect of our life.

Final Thoughts

Praying in Spirit is trusting that God hears and answers our prayers. It’s because we pray only for things according to His will brought about by a renewed mind and spirit.

The Spirit teaches us what to pray for and how to pray with confidence through the righteousness that Christ has given us when He died for our sins.

If you have any thoughts on what it means to pray in the Spirit and how, please share them in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you.


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: Praying in the Holy Spirit: Secrets to Igniting and Sustaining a Lifestyle of Effective Prayer by David Diga Hernandez

Do you ever feel like your prayers are not effective? Does your prayer life lack vitality and consistency?

The secret to a thriving prayer life is not a formula—it is the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. As you learn to engage with the Spirit of God, your prayer life will soar to levels you never dreamed were possible!

If you’ve ever been frustrated in your prayer life, this book is for you.

The 3 Offices of Christ

The 3 Offices of Christ

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

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

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

Christ as Prophet

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

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

Moses the First OT Prophet
Photo Credits: TV Insider

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

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

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

Jesus is Greater than Any Prophet

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Teaches with Authority

Christ as Priest

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

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

1. Jesus Offered a Perfect Sacrifice for Sin.

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

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

2. Jesus Continually Brings Us Near to God.

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

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

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

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Jesus as Priest Continually Prays for Us

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

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

Christ as King

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

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

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

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

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

The Three-Fold Offices of Christ - King

Christians as Prophets, Priests, and Kings

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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


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

Reference: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

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

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

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

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

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

Life Lessons from Jonah

Life Lessons from Jonah

Each of the chapters in the book of Jonah records a significant lesson the prophet had to learn. These parallel in many ways the life lessons God consistently and patiently tries to teach each of us along the way.

Overview of the Book of Jonah

Most people are familiar with the story of Jonah that nothing in it surprises them anymore. But what’s the book of Jonah all about?

It’s not simply about a great fish (mentioned only 4 times), or a great city (mentioned 9 times), or even a disobedient prophet (named 23 times).

It’s about God! Do you know that God is mentioned 37 times in these 4 short chapters? And if you eliminate God from the book, the story wouldn’t make sense.

Jonah’s Wrong Attitudes

I’m pretty sure most of us can relate to Jonah. He is one of the characters in the Bible who cause us to sigh and think, “Well, if there’s hope for Jonah, there’s hope for me.”

But then we must understand that the Bible was written for us so that we will not make the same mistakes they made.

You see, in his story, Jonah got into trouble because his attitudes were wrong.

What about our attitudes? Can we honestly say that we have become better people since God recreated us? 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”

Becoming a New Creation

You see, to be a new creation is to be changed. There has to be a change in character, change in viewpoints, change in our motivations, goals, and priorities. This is what we call sanctification, or becoming more and more like Christ.

In this article, I would like us to look at the life of Jonah and use his responses to God and the world around him for self-evaluation. If we find ourselves living out the same worldview as God’s resistant and reluctant prophet, then we are definitely in need of an attitude upgrade.

1. Wrong Attitude toward the Word of God

First of all, Jonah got into trouble because he had the wrong attitude toward the word of God, which is also the Will of God.

When the Word of the Lord came to Jonah, what did he do? He consciously and deliberately disobeyed God.

The Lord asked Jonah to “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me” (Jonah 1:2). But instead of going 550 miles northeast to Nineveh, Jonah attempted to go 2,500 miles west to Tarshish (modern-day Spain).

Jonah Deliberately Disobeys God

As we can see, God’s instruction to Jonah was crystal clear. It’s not as if God was speaking in ambiguity or uncertainty. He wasn’t speaking in parables or some figurative speech either. We must understand that God does not tell us one thing and expects us to do another thing.

Yet Jonah decided to disobey God. Now, why is that?

Jonah’s wrong attitude toward God’s word stemmed from a feeling that the Lord was asking him to do something impossible. Alright, what was God asking Jonah to do exactly?

Well, God told Jonah to go to Israel’s enemy, Assyria, and allow them to repent.

The Great City of Nineveh
Photo Credits: Jesus Way 4 You

Note 1: The city of Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire and was also a large and prominent city in its day.

Just a quick refresher, when Israel was divided into two kingdoms, the Babylonians conquered Judah and the Assyrians conquered Israel. And the Assyrians were very abusive toward the Jewish people. Just read Nahum chapter 3 to see how wicked they are.

Jonah’s Patriotism Gets in the Way

For Jonah to preach God’s message of repentance to the Assyrians would be like helping Israel’s enemy. It’s like working with the enemy of your country that wants to destroy your people. Anyone who does that today would be considered a traitor and will be tried for treason.

In his patriotic zeal, Jonah put his country before his God. Jonah didn’t want the notoriously cruel Assyrians in Nineveh to escape God’s judgment. He would much rather have seen the city destroyed.

Note 2: We need to understand that there is a divine order that God has put in place with regard to submission to authorities. God is the one who sets up kings and rulers and we are commanded to submit to them.

But when the governing authorities hold to a position that is in clear and direct violation of the Word of God, we must choose to obey God rather than men (the same way Peter and the other disciples and Daniel’s friends did).

God’s Challenging Commands

What are some of the things God commanded us that we find very difficult to do?

1. Love your enemies.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:43-44, NKJV).

To love your enemies, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who hate or abuse us is easier said than done.

2. Forgive those who have hurt or offended you.

This command is incorporated in the Lord’s prayer.

“Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12, NLT).

Take note that this is in the past tense. It means before we even come to God in prayer, we should have already forgiven our offenders.

Forgive your offenders

The Sovereignty of God

When the word of the Lord came to him, Jonah thought he could take it or leave it. That whether he does what God asked him to do or not won’t matter to God. And that God would leave him alone.

As it turned out, that’s not exactly what happened. God used a creative series of counter-measures to accomplish His desired result.

Lesson 1

Jonah learned the lesson of God’s patience. We can run far, but we can’t run away from God.

Jonah attempted to run as far away as possible from God. But before reaching his desired destination, God took a hold of him. We can see in the next events that took place that God was very patient with Jonah (Jonah 1:4-17).

Although God was no longer speaking to Jonah through His Word; He continued speaking to him through His works. God used the sea, wind, storm, and even the huge fish to carry out His plans. Notice that everything in nature obeyed God, except His servant Jonah.

In the beginning, I said that Jonah got into trouble because his attitudes were wrong. But his disobedience to God also brought trouble to a boatload of pagan sailors.

God had called the Jews to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12:1-3) but whenever they were out of the will of God, they brought trouble instead of blessings.

Self-Reflection

Are you a blessing to others, especially to those who do not yet have a relationship with God? Do unbelievers see God’s glory in you? As the saying goes, “You may be the only Bible some people read.” The idea behind this phrase is that Christians should live the “Christian life” for everyone to see.

2 Corinthians 5:20 says we are Christ’s ambassadors. Matthew 5:13-16 says we are the salt and light of the world. Are we living our calling and commission?

Going back to Jonah’s story, Jonah found himself inside the belly of a fish and stayed there for 3 days and 3 nights. He then cried out to God for deliverance and the fish vomited him onto dry land.

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Lesson 2

Jonah learned the lesson of God’s pardon. God forgives those who call upon Him. See Romans 10:11, 13.

While inside the belly of a huge fish, Jonah cried out to God for deliverance. And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land (Jonah 2:1-9).

But it didn’t end there. God gave Jonah a second chance. He gave him the same commission – go to Nineveh and preach the message of God’s upcoming judgment. And Jonah eventually obeyed God.

Think about Jonah’s experience. He had to experience getting stuck inside the belly of a huge fish for 3 days and 3 nights before obeying God.

Do we realize that oftentimes we find ourselves in deep trouble because of our wrong attitudes? We always like to blame Satan for our misfortunes and failures because it’s convenient. It takes away the accountability from us.

But if we would just look deep down, we would discover that we are as much to blame. Our blessings are often delayed because of our disobedience. We often get into trouble because of our rebellion.

When God commands us, we must listen and obey. In the ministry that God has entrusted to us, our part is to obey. In our partnership with God in accomplishing His purpose through us, our part is to obey. Disobedience is NOT an option!

God Gives Jonah Second Chance

What was the message that Jonah preached to the great city of Nineveh?

On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed” (Jonah 3:4, NLT)!

After hearing Jonah’s message, the people believed God, a fast was proclaimed for everyone from the greatest to the least of them and they put on sackcloth, including their animals. The king of Nineveh also got off his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

“For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Everything they did was a sign of repentance, humility, and surrender. But they did not stop there. They also cried out to God, prayed earnestly, turned from their evil ways, and violence (Jonah 3:5-8).

This is perhaps the greatest revival of all time as the entire city of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and cried out to God.

Lesson 3

Once again, Jonah learned the lesson of God’s pardon and forgiveness to those who call upon Him. But then, he also learned the lesson of God’s power as he saw a whole city humble itself before the Lord.

In the end, the Lord’s will has prevailed and Jonah’s efforts to thwart God’s plans were pointless.

This is a powerful reminder not only to Jonah but to us all of the sovereignty of God in every circumstance.

Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isaiah 46:9-10, ESV).

2. Wrong Attitude toward Circumstances

Jonah also had a wrong attitude toward circumstances; he thought they were working for him when they were really working against him.

Let’s break down what happened here in Jonah 1:1-5.

So, Jonah decided to disobey God and run away from Him. He fled to Joppa and found just the right ship waiting for him (ship heading to Tarshish).

He had enough money to pay the fare for his long trip, and he was even able to go down into the lowest part of the ship and fall into a deep sleep that the storm didn’t awaken him.

Hey, look at that! Everything seems to be working out perfectly for Jonah.

Stephen Prado, Jesus is Alive CMNV Monumento

Clearly, we can be out of the will of God and still have circumstances working on our behalf. We can be rebelling against God and still have a false sense of security that includes a good night’s sleep.

Could it be that it’s the devil who is going out of his way to help us disobey and escape from God? Of course! But most of the time we don’t see it this way. It’s because even when we are out of the will of God, things seem to be going smoothly.

3. Wrong Attitude toward the Gentiles

Instead of wanting to help the Assyrians find the true and living God, Jonah wanted to abandon them in their darkness and spiritual death and he wanted them to perish under God’s mighty hand.

Why do you think Jonah disobeyed God when he was first told to go to Nineveh and announce God’s judgments against it? It’s because he already anticipated what would happen.

Jonah knew that the Assyrians would repent and call out to the Lord for His mercy and forgiveness. And God, being merciful and compassionate, would relent or change His mind about destroying Nineveh. And that was the last thing that Jonah wanted to happen.

He was reluctant to preach God’s message because he didn’t want to give the Assyrians a chance to repent!

Now, think about that for just a moment. Jonah was God’s messenger, a representative of the God of Israel to the Gentiles. But he certainly didn’t act like one. When his one-sentence sermon brought in incredible results, which can be said to be the most responsive evangelistic effort in history, Jonah was displeased.

And when God did not destroy Nineveh, Jonah became angry. Read Jonah 4:1-11.

God’s Love vs. Jonah’s Anger

In the 4th chapter of Jonah, we see God’s love and grace contrasted with Jonah’s anger and lack of compassion. So, God used a plant, a worm, and a wind to teach Jonah a lesson in compassion.

In a humorous but meaningful account, Jonah was forced to see that he had more concern for a plant than for hundreds of thousands of people (120,000). He just didn’t care if the Assyrians perished.

Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city (Jonah 4:10-11, NLT)?

That’s a huge contrast with Abraham who pleaded with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-33).

God is compassionate and gracious

Lesson 4

Jonah learned, perhaps the most important lesson of all. Here, he had to learn the lesson of God’s pity, that God has compassion for lost sinners like the Ninevites and His servants must also have compassion.

We may have always thought that God’s desire for the salvation of the Gentiles only came up in the Gospels when the Jews rejected His message.

But the book of Jonah, unlike other Old Testament books, revolves exclusively around a Gentile nation. We see here that God is concerned not only for His covenant people Israel but for the Gentiles as well.

The story of Jonah is one of the clearest demonstrations of God’s love and mercy for all mankind in the entire Scriptures.

How is our attitude towards those who are still in the dark? How do we treat people who do not know the Lord, are hostile to us and are in danger of facing God’s judgment during the Tribulation?

Conclusion

As I said from the start, the book of Jonah is all about God. First, it is about the will of God and how we respond to it. Do you see yourself in Jonah’s shoes? How do you respond to God’s commands? Jesus said this in Luke 6:46.

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?”

To know God’s Word and His will is a privilege. But doing the will of God makes us grow in grace and become more like Christ. We may think it’s hard but God will enable us. We just have to allow God to work in us and He will transform us into His image from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18, NASB).

The book of Jonah is also about the love of God and how we share it with others. Incredibly, Jonah brought a whole city to faith in the Lord, yet he didn’t love the people to whom he was preaching. Jonah took God’s repeated pity on his own life for granted while he expected extinction for the sinners in Nineveh.

How often do we expect God to treat us one way while we pray He will treat others according to an entirely different standard? Let us apply Jesus’ words to Jonah’s situation and ours.

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12, NASB).

In other words, the grace we expect from God, we ought to ask Him to give to others.


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 Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy by Timothy Keller.

An angry prophet. A feared and loathsome enemy. A devastating storm. And the surprising message of a merciful God to His people.

In The Prodigal Prophet, pastor and New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller reveals the hidden depths within the book of Jonah.

Keller makes the case that Jonah was one of the worst prophets in the entire Bible. And yet there are unmistakably clear connections between Jonah, the prodigal son, and Jesus. Jesus in fact saw himself in Jonah.

How could one of the most defiant and disobedient prophets in the Bible be compared to Jesus?

Jonah’s journey also doesn’t end when he is freed from the belly of the fish. There is an entire second half to his story – but it is left unresolved within the text of the Bible. Why does the book of Jonah end on what is essentially a cliffhanger?

In these pages, Timothy Keller provides an answer to the extraordinary conclusion of this biblical parable – and shares the powerful Christian message at the heart of Jonah’s story.

What Nature Says About God

What Nature Says About God

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

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

Bible Verse: Psalm 19:1

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

The Creation Bears Evidence

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

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

What Nature Says About God

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

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

God in the Highest Heavens

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

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

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

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

Christian Jewelry and Wall Decors - Lord's Guidance

Living in a Glorious World

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

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

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

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

How Great Thou Art

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

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

Seeking God Beyond Measure

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

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

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

Final Words

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Rapture Versus Second Coming

Rapture Versus Second Coming

Many Christians reject the pre-tribulation rapture due to a lack of understanding that the return of Christ occurs in two stages. Although the Bible seems to present only one event, an in-depth study of these passages shows that they describe two separate events.

On my YouTube channel, I posted a short video of Pastor John MacArthur differentiating between the Rapture and the Second Coming. Almost immediately, people started attacking the pre-tribulation rapture view. They strongly argued that nowhere in the Bible does it teach a pre-tribulation rapture.

In this post, I would like to present the differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ.

The Terminology Used

To bolster their view that the coming of Christ is one event, post-tribulationists point to the word used about the said event. They reject any attempt to separate this event into two stages because the same terms appear to be used interchangeably for Christ’s coming.

The three main Greek words used in the New Testament about Christ’s coming are parousia, epiphaneia, and apokalupsis

Parousia means “coming,” “arrival,” or “presence.” This word is found fifteen times in the New Testament, including Matthew 24:27, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 4:15, and 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

Epiphaneia is used about the second coming five times. It means “manifestation.” Among other passages, we find this word in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, 1 Timothy 6:14, 2 Timothy 4:8, and Titus 2:13.

Apokalupsis occurs five times and means “revelation” or “unveiling” (1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7; 1 Peter 1:7; 4:13; Revelation 1:1).

Arguments and Responses

A proponent of the post-trib view, George Eldon says, “The Parousia, the apocalypse, and the epiphany of our Lord are the same event. Christ’s Parousia is His return; His return is His coming; His coming is His second advent. The word used for our Lord’s return lends no support for the idea of two comings of Christ. On the contrary, it substantiates the view that the return of Christ will be a single, indivisible glorious event.”

This might well be a fair argument but it’s not a convincing one. There is biblical precedent for one event to unfold in several stages. For one, there were multiple aspects or phases of Christ’s first coming: His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension. These were all part of the first coming and were separated by periods of time.

What is the difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming

In the same way, there are two aspects of the Lord’s second advent: the rapture which takes place in the air, and the return which begins in the air but ends with a return to earth.

Likewise, the Day of the Lord came upon Judah and various Gentile nations in the Old Testament, and the final Day of the Lord won’t come until the end times. Even in the end times, the Day of the Lord will be divided into a judgment phase (the Great Tribulation) and a blessing phase (the Millennium).

Differences Between the Rapture and the Return

There are three main rapture passages in the New Testament: John 14:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Among the principal second coming passages are Zechariah 14:1-21, Matthew 24:29-31, Mark 13:24-27, Luke 21:25-27, and Revelation 19:11-21.

The differences between these two groups of passages are striking. They are so striking that they clearly point to two separate contexts.

Certainly, there are some similarities between the rapture and the return. Both events mention a coming, and both mention clouds, symbolizing a heavenly role in both. Yet, the differences demonstrate that these are two distinct stages of the second coming.

John Walvoord notes, “While it is evident that there are some similarities in the two events, these do not prove that they are the same. There are similarities also between the first and the second coming of Christ, but these have been separated by almost two thousand years.”

Below are some of the more significant differences between the rapture and the second coming of Christ as they are described in Scripture.

1) The Signs Given for Each Stage

Before the rapture, there are no signs that must take place. The rapture can happen at any moment. It’s a signless event. None of the rapture passages contain any mention of preceding signs. Believers are enjoined to be constantly looking for the rapture and “to wait” for it (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Before the second coming, specific signs come to pass before Christ will return to earth (Matthew 24:4-28). The same event cannot logically be both signless and yet portended by numerous signs. That is clearly contradictory.

The simplest harmonization of these two different events supports a pretribulation rapture (which is signless and could happen at any moment). The many events taking place during the tribulation are best understood as signs leading up to the second coming.

2) The Place Christ Will Meet Believers

At the rapture, Christians will meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Jesus never sets foot on the earth in any of the rapture texts.

At the second coming, Christ will come to earth with His saints, descending upon the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2-4; Revelation 19:14).

3) Who Removes People from the Earth

At the rapture, Christ Himself comes and takes believers out of the world. He comes for His saints (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

At the second coming, Christ sends His angels to gather His elect on earth (Matthew 24:31).

4) Who Gets Taken and Who is Left

At the rapture, believers are taken from the earth while unbelievers are left behind (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

At the second coming, living believers on earth are left to enter the messianic kingdom while unbelievers are taken away to judgment (Matthew 13:41-42, 49-50).

5) When the Judgment Takes Place

At the rapture, no mention is made of God’s judgment or any distress taking place. Only promises of blessings and salvation are referenced.

At the second coming, tribulation, distress, apocalypse, and judgment are everywhere (Zechariah 14:2-4; Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 19:11-21).

6) Timing of the Resurrection of the Dead

At the rapture, the resurrection of the dead occurs during Christ’s descent from heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

At the second coming, a resurrection of believers who died during the tribulation takes place after Christ has descended on earth.

Note these order of events in Revelation 19:11-21; 20:1-5.

  • The descent of Christ
  • Christ slays His enemies
  • The Antichrist (the beast) and the false prophet are cast alive into the lake of fire
  • Satan is bound and thrown into the pit
  • The resurrection of the saints

7) The People Involved

At the rapture, only believers see Christ and are involved (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

At the second coming, all people will see Jesus coming and are involved (Revelation 1:7; 19:11-21).

8) The Rapture of Living Believers

In the rapture passages, the focus is on the snatching away of living believers on earth to meet Jesus in the air.

In the second coming passages, none of them contains a clear indisputable reference to the rapture. Also, no second advent passages, even the most detailed ones in Matthew 24 and Revelation 19, clearly mention a catching up of living believers to meet Jesus in the air. This omission is inexplicable if the rapture and second coming are supposed to happen simultaneously.

9) The Changes on Earth

At the rapture, all the relevant passages are silent about any topographical changes taking place on the earth.

At the second coming, massive changes in and on the earth result from Christ’s return (Zechariah 14:1-11).

Conclusion

While both the rapture and the second coming describe a return of the Lord and the same terms are used to refer to both, the dramatic differences in the various passages indicate they are describing two unique events that occur at separate times. The dissimilarities are too substantial to merge these two into a single event.

Jesus is coming again. On this point, all Christians agree. But that He is coming before the Tribulation without any warning, to take His bride to heaven is such great comfort.

Let us live looking for His return!


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

Is the rapture Christian 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 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.