Category: Theology

How is the Father Greater than Jesus?

How is the Father Greater than Jesus?

One of the most commonly quoted Bible verses to dispute the deity of Jesus Christ is John 14:28 wherein Jesus told His disciples that “The Father is greater than I.” Jesus repeatedly said that He is doing the Father’s will, thereby implying that He is somehow subservient to the Father.

Doesn’t the Bible teach that the Son has been God for all eternity? And that God the Son became a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ? If the Father and the Son are both God and equally divine, how is the Father greater than Jesus? What exactly did Jesus mean with this statement?

Making Sense of Jesus’ Statement

The fact that Jesus said, “The Father is greater than I,” has led some to conclude that He was somehow lesser in nature than God. Thus, Jesus is not the true God. However, the New Testament teaches that Jesus Christ lived in submission to the Father while He was here on the earth.

“The Father is Greater than I” Meaning

Christ humbled Himself by taking on the form of a human being. But doing so did not diminish His divine nature. In other words, Jesus did not stop being God at His reincarnation. He just added humanity to His deity. Jesus took an inferior position as a human being but He was not inferior in nature.

The Father Sent the Son

1 John 4:9 tells us that “God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” And in 1 John 4:14 it says, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.”

The Bible consistently teaches that the Father sent the Son; it never teaches that the Son sent Himself.

The Son Submits to the Father

Even before He took on human form, the Son was in submission to the Father. Yet He was not the Father’s servant. God the Son, Jesus Christ only became a servant to the Father when He came to earth. This important truth is emphasized by Paul in his letter to the Philippians.

“But made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).

God the Son, Jesus, humbled Himself and came to this earth in the role of a servant Though He was God Almighty, He willingly took the form of a servant.

God the Father Remains to be Jesus’ Father

After His resurrection and ascension into heaven, Jesus still referred to God the Father as His God. We read this in John 20:17.

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”

In the book of Revelation we also read Jesus saying this about the Father:

“He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name” (Revelation 3:12).

Jesus’ submission to the Father does not mean He is inferior. He may be inferior in position but certainly not inferior in nature.

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The Father is the Head of Christ

Christ is the head of the church but the Father is the head of Christ. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth and explained it this way.

“But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3).

Yet this headship has to do only with their relative position; it has nothing to do with their nature. In nature, the Father and the Son are equal. In the same way, no one would argue that men are superior to women in nature. This was made clear by Paul in Galatians 3:27-28.

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Therefore, the passages referring to the Son submitting to the Father do not reflect His inferior character, only the inferior position. Although the Father and the Son have distinct roles within the Godhead, they are the same essence, the same nature.

The Exaltation of the Son

Continuing his thought to the Philippians, Paul wrote:

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

God the Son humbled Himself when He came to this earth. But upon His return to His former position, He has been exalted by God the Father. In this passage, it says that one day every knee will bow to Jesus and every tongue will confess that He is indeed Lord, all to the glory of the Father.

Conclusion

Jesus is God; He is co-equal, co-powerful, and co-eternal with the Father. Therefore, Jesus’ statement in John 14:28 that the Father is greater than Him has nothing to do with his nature compared with God the Father. It does not contradict the idea that He is God.

One of the best illustrations I’ve heard is that of Nabeel Qureshi’s explanation of the Trinity. The president of the United States is greater than every ordinary American citizen but that does not make him more “human” than the rest of them. The president is greater in role but not in nature (or essence).


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What is the Day of the Lord?

What is the Day of the Lord?

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

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

The Word “Day” in the Bible

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

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

Understanding the Day of the Lord

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

The Day of the Lord in the New Testament

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

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

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

The Day of the Lord in the Old Testament

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

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

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

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

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

A Time of Judgment and Blessing

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

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

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

The Future Day of the Lord

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

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

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

Living in the Day of Grace

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

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

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

God has given us grace in Christ Jesus

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

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

Conclusion

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

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


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

Edited by Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson

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

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

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

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

5 Hindrances to Answered Prayers

5 Hindrances to Answered Prayers

People often ask, “Does God answer all of our prayers?” Many times Christians complain that God did not answer their prayer. They prayed for a particular thing but did not receive what they had asked for. Does this mean that God does not always answer our prayers? What should we conclude when our prayers go unanswered?

God Always Answers Our Prayers

While there are complaints about certain prayers that are left unanswered, such is not the case. The Bible promises that God hears the prayers of those who believe in Him and answers all of them. His answer consists of one of three things; yes, no, or wait.

When God Says YES

Many times God will say “yes” and gives us what we asked for. Let’s take King Hezekiah’s example in 2 Kings 20:1-6. Hezekiah was very ill and at the point of death when God sent Isaiah to inform him of his impending death. He was told to put his house in order because he was going to die and not recover.

Immediately, Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord while weeping bitterly. But before Isaiah could leave the King’s palace, God answered Hezekiah’s prayer and sent the prophet to tell him that He has added 15 years to his life.

Hindrances to an Answered Prayer

When God Says NO

However, there are times when God will say “no” and will not grant our prayer request. In other words, not everything we ask for in prayer will be given. Nevertheless, we need to remember that when God says no to our prayers, He does it for our good. After all, God always has our best interest at heart.

The apostle Paul asked the Lord three times to remove a particular problem that he had – a thorn in the flesh. And each time God answered, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). In this case, Paul’s prayer was indeed answered but the answer was “No.”

With the answer of no, God promised Paul that His grace would be sufficient to help him cope with his problem.

When God Says WAIT

There is also the possibility that God will not give us an immediate yes or no answer and tells us to “wait.” However, a delayed answer is not necessarily a “No” answer. We find this in the example of Hannah, Samuel’s mother.

For many years, Hannah prayed to the Lord for a child but did not receive what she asked for (1 Samuel 1:1-8). Finally, in the bitterness of her soul, she wept and prayed in anguish for the Lord to give her a son (1 Samuel 1:9-11). Her prayer was immediately answered and she conceived a son (1 Samuel 1:19-20).

God did not grant Hannah’s request the first time she asked. She waited for years before her son was born. What can we learn from Hannah? God will answer our prayers in His timing, not ours.

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Hindrances to Answered Prayers

Why do so many prayers seem to go unanswered? In other words, why does God say no to our requests? The Bible gives us several reasons as to why this is so.

1. Sin

Psalm 66:18 indicates that sin can hinder our prayers from being answered in the affirmative. We read something similar in Isaiah 59:1-2. This truth is illustrated in John 9:31-32. The blind man healed by Jesus said instructively said that God hears those who worship Him and do His will. However, He will not listen to those who are in sin.

Does this mean we have to be completely free from sin before approaching God in prayer? Of course not! Otherwise, none of us would have our prayers answered. Each of us has certain sinful areas that we must deal with. But we can have the confidence to approach God through Christ, not our own merit.

2. Lack of Faith or Unbelief

A lack of faith can keep our prayers from being answered.

James, the Lord’s brother, wrote about the importance of exercising faith. He said, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8).

When we pray, we need to do it in faith. We need to believe and do not doubt that the Lord will answer our requests. God has promised to do so and He always keeps His promises.

"Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”

3. Unforgiveness

Unable to forgive those who might have wronged us can hinder our prayers. Jesus stressed the importance of forgiving others in Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

Harboring unforgiveness in our heart can affect our daily relationship with God, which in turn will affect our prayer life. The verse above clearly states that we need to forgive others for what they have done to us so that our heavenly Father may also forgive our sins.

Furthermore, Paul wrote that we need to forgive others just as God in Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). As much as we are able, we need to forgive those who have wronged us.

4. Disobedience

God will answer our prayers if we remain in an obedient relationship with Him. Jesus said to His disciples, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).

To remain in Christ and stay joined to Him is to keep His commandments. John wrote of this in 1 John 3:21-22.

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”

This just goes to say that disobeying God’s commands can keep our prayers from being answered. We must keep in mind that obedience to the Lord is the key.

5. Not in Accordance with God’s Will

Often times, we get a “no” in answer to our prayers because they are not in accordance with the will of God. John emphasized the necessity of praying according to God’s will rather than our own in 1 John 5:14.

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

We should not insist that our desires must always be met because most of the time our desires are wrongly motivated. Our desires must match up with God’s desires.

Closing Words

God does hear and answer all our prayers. But that does not necessarily mean He always says “yes.” There will be times when God answers us with a “no” and when that happens, we consider it an unanswered prayer.

The Bible mentions at least 5 hindrances to answered prayers; sin, unforgiveness, lack of faith, disobedience, and asking something that does not line up with God’s will or desire.

Several other reasons why God does not answer our prayers include marital problems (1 Peter 3:7), asking with the wrong motives (James 4:3), and spiritual warfare (Daniel 10:12-14; Ephesians 6:12).

Had there been times when you asked God for something and He said no? What do you think was the reason behind it?

Please feel free to share your testimony in the comment section below.


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How Christians Can Defeat Satan

How Christians Can Defeat Satan

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

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

How to Have Victory Over the Devil

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

1. Know and Understand the Enemy.

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

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

How Christians Defeat the Enemy

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

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

2. Always be on Guard.

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

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

3. Know Your Weaknesses.

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

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

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

4. Avoid the Situation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Put On the Full Armor of God.

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

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

7. Maintain Communication with God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Believers can have Victory over the Devil

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

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

9. Rest in God’s Promises

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

Conclusion

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

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


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Can One Be Saved After Death?

Can One Be Saved After Death?

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

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

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

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

Can One Be Saved After They Die

Judgment Comes After Death

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

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

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

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

Eternal Life is Determined in this Life Alone

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

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

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

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

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

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The Day of Salvation is Now

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

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

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

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

God Determines What is Fair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is a Righteous Judge

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

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


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Finding Strength by Waiting on the Lord

Finding Strength by Waiting on the Lord

Do you often feel like you’re losing the game of life? That no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to keep up? No matter how strong and healthy we think we are, physically and spiritually, that is, there comes a time when we start to grow weary and lose all the energy needed to keep us going.

The great news is, God promised to renew our strength; we will find new strength by trusting in God and waiting patiently on Him.

Bible Verse: Isaiah 40:29-31

“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

God Does Not Grow Weary

Going back to Isaiah 40:28, it says, “The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.”

In the ancient world, the gods were viewed as having human weaknesses and often were inattentive or simply unaware of events that were taking place. One result of this was that the pantheon of gods were constantly outwitting or tricking each other. The gods were not indefatigable. They were in constant need of food, drink, and shelter.

In contrast, Yahweh God never grows weak or weary. And Isaiah thought the Jewish people needed to hear what they already know. They needed to hear about the everlasting Creator of all the earth who never grows weak or weary.

If we believe these truths about God, we should live as if God has already taken care of all our needs, present and future.

Finding Strength by Waiting on the Lord

The Greatness of God

As the Jewish remnants returned to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, they knew they had a rough road ahead of them. They were few in number and the victories of Assyria, Babylon, and Persia made it look as though the false gods of the Gentiles were stronger that the God of Israel. Thus, they became faint-hearted

But Isaiah reminded the people of the greatness of Yahweh (Isaiah 40:12-20). God is greater than anything on earth. Creation shows His wisdom, power, and immensity. He is greater than the nations and their gods.

God founded the earth and sits on the throne of heaven, and nothing is equal to Him, let alone greater than Him. So, the next time you are tempted to think that the world is bigger than God, remember that the nations are “as a drop in a bucket” (Isaiah 40:15) and “the inhabitants are like grasshoppers” (Isaiah 40:22).

God is greater than anything in heaven. And if you ever feel so small that you wonder if God really cares about you personally, remember that He knows the name of every star (Isaiah 40:26) and your name as well (John 10:3, 27). The same God who numbers and names the stars can heal your broken heart (Psalm 147:3-4).

God Sees Your Every Situation

God is all-powerful and is greater than the circumstances within us. The nation of Israel knew this very well because they have seen and heard what God has done for their ancestors. But instead of trusting God to work on their behalf, they complained and acted as though God did not know their situation or have any concern for their problems (Isaiah 40:27).

Instead of seeing the open door, the Jews saw only the long road before them, and they complained that they did not have strength for the journey and that God was asking them to do the impossible.

Admittedly, there are times when we are like the nation of Israel. Although we know of God’s promise to strengthen us when we are weak and that He will help us get us through every rough situation, we complain and accuse Him of not caring about us.

Finding Strength by Waiting on the Lord

God Promises to Renew Our Strength

God knows how we feel and He sees our fears. And rest assured that He is adequate to meet our every need. We are not able to do things on our own but we can always trust God to provide the strength we need (Philippians 4:13).

If we rely on ourselves, we will faint and fail, but if we wait on the Lord by faith, we will receive strength for the journey. Waiting on the Lord means to look to God for all that we need (Isaiah 26:3; 20:15). This involves meditating on His character and His promises, praying, and seeking to glorify Him.

To “renew our strength” means to “exchange,” as taking off old clothing and putting on something new. We exchange our weakness for God’s power (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). As we trust God, He enables us to soar during a crisis, to run when the challenges are many, and to walk faithfully, in the routine day-to-day demands of life.

Walking in the ordinary pressures of life can be much more difficult than flying like an eagle in a time of crisis.

Bottom Line

God renews our strength. As people, we get tired; we become weary. But God enables us to do what we need to do. That does not mean we will never need rest or sleep. It means when we rely on God’s strength, He will enable us.

The word “wait” means to have faith. There will be times when it seems like we’re waiting for nothing. But we must understand that God does everything according to His will. When we trust God to direct our steps, He will see us through to victory.

Sometimes we think that God should do things for us the way we want Him to, but that is not how God works. We need to trust in God’s timing and wait patiently on Him. As one quote says, “Prayer is powerful. But always remember that God works according to His timetable, not yours. Be patient.”

Faith and patience always go hand-in-hand. We don’t always know when God will answer our utmost prayers and give us the desires of our hearts. But when we trust in Him, He will bring it to pass in His own perfect time.


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 Michael Heilman’s devotional book “Life According to the Truth.”

Publisher’s Description

Life According to the Truth by Michael HeilmanDo 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, 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 his 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. 

 

A Bible Study on the Rapture

A Bible Study on the Rapture

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

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

The Meaning of Rapture in the Bible

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

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

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

Is the Word Rapture in the Bible

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

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

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

Where is Rapture in the Bible?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raptures in the Old Testament

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

Enoch

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

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

Where is the Word Rapture Mentioned in the Bible

Elijah

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

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

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

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

Raptures in the New Testament

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

Jesus

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

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

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

Philip

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

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

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

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

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

Where is Rapture in the Bible

Paul

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

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

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

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

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

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

John

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

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

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

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

Future Raptures

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

The Rapture of Living Believers

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

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

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

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

A Bible Study on the Rapture

The Rapture of the Two Witnesses

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

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

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

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

The Rapture is the Blessed Hope

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

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

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

Closing Words

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

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

Are you ready to meet Him?


References:

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

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

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.


 

Give to God All Glory

Give to God All Glory

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

Bible Verse: Psalm 115:1 (NKJV)

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

All Glory Belongs to God

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

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

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

The Glory of God’s Presence

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

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

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

Give to God All Glory

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

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

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

The Glory of God in Christians

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

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

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

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)

The Glory of God to Come

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

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

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

What glory that will be!


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

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 Michael Heilman’s devotional book “Life According to the Truth.”

Publisher’s Description

Life According to the Truth by Michael HeilmanDo 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 to the issues facing the church and how to live the victorious Christian life.

Michael expounds on biblical principles God has applied to his 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.

 

What is the Day of Deception?

What is the Day of Deception?

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

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

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

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

What is the Day of Deception

Three Parts of Deception

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

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

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

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

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

Deception Appeals to the Flesh

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

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

Why Does God Permit Deception?

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

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

 

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Nine Types of Deception

There are nine types of deception in the world.

1. Religious Deception.

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

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

2. Doctrinal Deception.

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

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

3. Ethical Deception.

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

4. Moral Deception.

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

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

5. Intellectual Deception.

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

6. Fanatical Deception.

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

7. Mystical Deception.

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

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

8. Sexual Deception.

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

9. Spiritual Deception.

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

Closing Words

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

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


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

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

Edited by Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson

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

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

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

Behold, Here Comes the Bridegroom

Behold, Here Comes the Bridegroom

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

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

Marriage Covenant in Ancient Israel

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

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

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

The Church is Betrothed to Christ

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

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

The Departure of the Groom

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

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

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

The Return of the Groom

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

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

 

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The Home Taking & Marriage Ceremony

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

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

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

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

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

The Bride of Christ: The Church

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

The Bridegroom is no other than Jesus Christ.

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

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

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

Behold, Here Comes the Bridegroom

The Betrothal of Christ with the Church

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

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

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

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

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

The Coming of the Lord for His Church

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

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


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

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

The Church & the Tribulation

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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