Category: Theology

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’s 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.


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).

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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.


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!


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.

The Power of Great Faith

The Power of Great Faith

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

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

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

Faith to Heal

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

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

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

The Power of Great Faith

Jesus Promises Healing

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

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

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

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

The Agent of Healing

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

We read this in Isaiah 53:4-5.

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

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

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

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

Healings in the Church Today

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

To the church, Jesus said this:

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

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

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

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

Does God Always Heal?

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

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

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

You can read all about it here.

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

Closing Thoughts

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

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

Praise God for healing; praise God for miracles!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the Millennial Reign?

What is the Millennial Reign?

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

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

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

Ten Key Texts on the Millennium

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

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

Ten Key OT Texts on the Millennium

7 Key Titles of the Millennium

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

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

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

The Purpose of the Millennium

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

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

1. To Reward the Faithful

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

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

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

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

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

2. To Redeem Creation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3. To Realize the Biblical Covenants

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

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

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

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

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

A Sneak Peek at the Millennium

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

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

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

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

Peace

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

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

Joy

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

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

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

Holiness

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

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

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

Glory

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

Justice or Righteousness

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

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

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

Full Knowledge

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

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

Absence of Sickness and Deformity

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

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

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

The Millennial Reign of Christ

Universal Worship of God

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

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

Economic Prosperity

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

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

The Presence of God

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

How well are we doing?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is the Restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2?

Who is the Restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2?

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

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

Bible Verse: 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7

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

The Restrainer is the Spirit-Indwelt Church

The Identity of the Restrainer

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

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

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

Down through the centuries many candidates have been suggested:

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

Clues to the Identity of the Restrainer

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

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

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

Lord's Guidance Christian Jewelry and Apparel

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

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

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

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

The Spirit-Indwelt Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Removal of the Restrainer

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

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

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

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

Donald Grey Barnhouse says this:

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

Conclusion

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

The Glorification of the Believers

The Glorification of the Believers

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

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

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

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

The Glorification of the Believers

Redemption of the Believer

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

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

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

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

Resurrection in the Old Testament

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

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

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

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

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

The Believer’s Resurrection Body

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

Imperishable

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

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


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

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

Raised in Glory

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

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

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

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

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

Raised in Power

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

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

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

Spiritual Body

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

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

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

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

Redemption of the Believer's Body

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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


Reference: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Getting Ready for the Return of Christ

Getting Ready for the Return of Christ

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

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

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

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

The Certainty of Christ’s Return

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

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

John 14:3 (NKJV)

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

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

What Should We Be Doing?

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

1. Witness for Christ Everywhere We Go

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

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

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

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

Witnessing for Christ

2. Go into All the World and Preach the Gospel

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

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

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

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

3. Make Disciples of All Nations and Baptize Them

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

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

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

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

4. Build the Church

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

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

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

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

5. Occupy till Jesus Comes

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

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

Christian Jewelry and Wall Decors - Lord's Guidance

6. Remain Faithful Until He Returns

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

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

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

Getting Ready for Christ’s Return

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

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

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

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

1. Know Jesus Personally

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

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

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

2. Receive Jesus as Your Savior

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

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

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

Final Words

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The Exclusivity and Sufficiency of Jesus Christ

The Exclusivity and Sufficiency of Jesus Christ

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

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

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

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

Bible Verse: John 14:6

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

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

John 14:1-6

Jesus Comforts His Disciples

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

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

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

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

Christianity’s Exclusivistic Claim

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

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

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

Jesus is the Way to the Father

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

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

What does it mean to come to the Father?

1. To Obtain His Favor

To come to the Father is to obtain His favor. 

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

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

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

2. To have Access to His Throne by Prayer

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

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

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

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

3. To Enter His Kingdom

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

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

God is transcendent; He is omnipresent and omnipotent.

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

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

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

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

All Roads Lead to Rome

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

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

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

Do All Roads Lead to Heaven?

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

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

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

Does God Send People to Hell?

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

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

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

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

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

Going to Hell is a Choice Quote

Jesus is the Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Christianity is True

Jesus is the Life

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

Let’s take a look at these Bible verses:

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Salvation in Christianity

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

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


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

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

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

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

Strobel asks challenging questions like:

  • How reliable is the New Testament?
  • Does evidence for Jesus exist outside the Bible?
  • Is Jesus who he said he was?
  • Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual event?