Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Destiny of Believers and Unbelievers - From The No Spin Zone

It seems to me from reading the Bible that there are three groups of people talked about…

Group 1: Hebrew Believers - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants who believed what God told them down through the years, and

Group 2: Gentile Believers -All other people who heard from God and believed what He said to them down through the years

Group 3: Unbelievers - Everyone else.

The destiny of Groups 1 and 2 are to rule and reign with Christ Jesus during the two ages following this present age in which we live. The first age is referred to as the KINGDOM of Heaven and will last 1000 years.  This 
age is what Jesus was talking about when he told ISRAEL at his first coming…

"The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15)

From the Old Testament we know that he is referring to the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom promised to Israel. But only a few in Israel repented and the majority followed their religious leaders and rejected Jesus and had him crucified. So Jesus told them…

"Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see me until you say, BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD.” (Matthew 23:38-39)

So Israel was blinded and the age of the 1000 year Kingdom is postponed. We know this from the question to him from his Jewish followers just before he ascended into heaven…and from Paul’s letter to Rome.

“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? He said to them: It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority… a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Acts 1:6-7; Romans 11:25))

It is the book of Revelation that tells us that this Kingdom age will last 1000 years…

“Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6)

As to when it will begin no one knows the exact date at this time…only the Father…

"But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36)

So what about the Age following the 1000 year Kingdom - The Age of the New Heaven and New Earth.  This age comes after the resurrection of Group 3.

“The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended...” (Revelation 20:5; 21:1)

This age will be one of righteousness...

"But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells...I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had passed away" (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1)

Group 3 (all unbelievers down through the years) will be those being reigned over during the age of the New Heaven and New Earth.  They will NOT be in some fictitious Greek Underworld named Hell by some religious men and their various religions.  They will be reigned over in righteousness by Jesus and believers on the new earth. They will reign "until" every knee has bowed and every tongue confessed that Jesus Christ is Lord...

"But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign UNTIL he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For God has put all things in subjection under his feet. But when it says, all things are put in subjection, it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all...God exalted him to the highest place, and gave him the name above all names that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (1 Corinthians 15:20-28;Philippians 2:9-11)

The ages are then concuded and God will be "All in all".  The details of what follows those ages is hidden by God.  But Paul assures us that...

"Among the mature, however, we speak a message of wisdom—but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of the mysterious and hidden wisdom of God, which He destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it. For if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Rather, as it is written: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed it to us by the Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God." (1 Corinthians 2:6-10)

Just the simple truth from the no spin zone.  Pretty simple - until religions start spinning it.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Uninformed Brethren

Do we choose to do stuff by our own free will, or are our choices simply God working in us according to His will?

“I do not want you uninformed brethren…” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

The truth is that God is working all things out “according to his good pleasure”. We are just “uninformed” about why He allows us to make bad choices.  

“…work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)

Our "salvation" is secure despite our bad choices.  You can't "work out" of something you do not have.  Religion wants us to work FOR our salvation, but God wants us to WORK OUT our salvation by faith in it - not fear and trembling that we won't get saved, but in awe and reverence that we HAVE been saved as a gift from God by His grace and not by our works. 

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God - not of works...we are God's who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ..." (Ephesians 2:8-13)

God has informed us that we have been "predestined" to be saved.  This is "the gospel of your salvation" which was once a "mystery of His will"...

“He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him we have also obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:11-14)

Politicians and Religions tell us to work to save ourselves.  God says He has already predestined our savation and those informed of it are to to work out this salvation with fear and trembling - and hope.  A few in this life are chosen by God to be “the first to hope in Christ”. Rejoice if you happen to be one of them, but don’t condemn or get frustrated with those who are not – it is just God’s “good pleasure” to leave them “uninformed” until their resurrection – when all will be "made alive" and thus become aware of their "redemption".

“As in Adam all die, even so in Christ, all shall be made alive...that God may be all in it will be with the resurrection of the dead... (1 Corinthians 15:22-28,42)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Who Will Jesus Deny?

"Whoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 10:32-33)

The context is NOT salvation. Jesus was speaking to the house of Israel concerning the promise of God to Israel to reestablish the Kingdom of Israel ON THE EARTH at some time in the future. The JEWS who do not confess that Jesus is their Messiah will be denied entrance into that Kingdom when it is restored by Jesus at his 2nd coming. The timing of this restoration of the Kingdom was the last thing the JEWISH apostles asked Jesus about before he ascended into heaven after his resurrection.

"So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:1-10)

After the ascension of Jesus, Peter told the JEWS that if THEY would repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus he would immediately return and restore the Kingdom as promised by their "holy prophets from ancient time".

"...repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you (Israel), whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time...It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant of God made with your fathers" (Acts 3:20-25)

We Gentiles have no part in this covenant, and Israel did not repent and eventually blindness came upon Israel and remains today - nearly 2000 years later. Paul tells us that this blindness was a "mystery", but Jesus would someday return and "all Israel shall be saved".

"For I would not, brethren that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (Romans 11:25-26)

The Bible is full of the details of what happens just before the return of Jesus to restore the Kingdom to Israel. That is what the book of Revelation is all about. But even that age and Kingdom ends after 1000 years.

"Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection...but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." (Revelation 20:6)

Israel is the only nation whom God assigned "priests", despite the so called "priesthood of the believer" doctrine taught in some denominational churches.

As far as the "salvation" of ALL mankind from death (both Jew and Gentile), the knowledge of it was brought to ALL mankind when Jesus came the first time. 

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men..." (Titus 2:11)

This "salvation" will be manifested only when those who are still dead after the "first resurrection" are raised to immortal life, and so all death is "destroyed"

"And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken...This is the LORD for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation...The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (Isaiah 25:7-9; 1 Corinthians 15:26)

What is left after death is "destroyed"? Life. Abundant, immortal LIFE - for ALL! That is the good news we are supposed to be sharing.

So, to whom will Jesus deny this salvation? Not one soul.

"It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all mankind, especially of believers. Prescribe and teach these things." (1 Timothy 4:9-11)

Is that what is taught and believed where you assemble together? 

A place where they "prescribe and teach these things" is hard to find...I'm still looking. I agree with Jesus when he said...

"...when the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8)

Very little it seems to me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

God Is For Us - So We Win

Life and death.  These are choices that God has reserved for Himself. And we should remember that "God is for us"...

 "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered him over for US ALL, how will He not also with him freely give US all things?" 
(Romans 8:31-32)

People do not get to choose whether they will be born, nor do they choose whether they will die.  At best, people may choose the "timing" of death by their lifestyle - either sooner or later - but eventually we ALL die.

"And inasmuch as it is appointed for people to die once and after this - judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those awaiting him." (Hebrews 9:27-28) 

What happens after death has been the great question for most people. The word judgment is "krisis" in the Greek language of Scripture, and simply means in this context,  "a Devine decision".  So what is the "judgment" that awaits people after death? 

Jesus the Christ "will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin" to those "who sleep in death"..."awaiting" his return.

" my father's house are many dwelling places...I go to prepare a place for you...I will come and get you, so that you may be where I am...Brothers, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death...for the Lord himself will come down from heaven...and the dead in Christ will meet the Lord ...and so we will be with the Lord forever. Comfort one another with these words." (John 14:2-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Depending on where and in what religious environment people are born, they will grow up being taught something about life after death.  As for me, I have chosen to believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and that it is true. It may not be...and I do not condemn those who think it is not.  But if it is true, the Bible clearly teaches that "God is for us" - not against any of us.  All people are the beneficiaries of the "love of God", and will not be condemned by what they grow up believing. The Good News for all is that we are the "elect" of God, elected "for salvation without reference to sin" when Jesus appears the second time for salvation“.

"Father forgive them...Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is he who died, yes, rather who was raised, and who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Luke 23:34; Romans 8:33-36)

Jesus forgave from the cross all those who crucified him, and in that death, saved them. Yep, God is for us all -  so we will win the victory over sin and death!

Is There A Good Time To Offend Folks?

"There is a time for every purpose under heaven...a time to be silent, and a time to speak." (Ecclesiastes 3:7)

The problem is determining when to speak up! 😇

"Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, Listen and understand. A man is not defiled by what enters his mouth, but by what comes out of it. Then the disciples came to Him and said, Are You aware that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?...

Jesus was talking to the crowd about the Jewish religious leaders of his day.  They were defiling themselves and the crowd by what they taught, not by what they ate or drank. These "Pharisees" were "offended" by what Jesus said, and the "disciples" of Jesus asked him about it...

"But Jesus replied, Every plant that My Heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by its roots. Disregard them! They are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:10-14)

The "plant" that was being "planted" was the teaching of these religious leaders. The "plant" is not the person, but what comes out of our mouths.  

I am aware that my faith in the salvation and reconciliation of all mankind has "offended" some folks.  But there is a time when I had to "disregard" what had "defiled" me in favor of the truth that set me free. At 67, being closer to my death than my birth, it is no longer "a time to be silent", but "a time to speak". I am reminded of Jeremiah's lament...

"I thought, I'll forget him; I won't mention His name. But there's an intense fire in my heart, trapped in my bones.  I'm drained trying to contain it; I'm unable to do it."  (Jeremiah 20:9 CEB)

There is only a "narrow gate" "that leads to life", and only "a few find it" in this present evil age, even among Christians. Jesus is that "narrow gate", and the only road to salvation is on the "grace" of God highway.  All mankind will eventually enter that gate and arrive at their appointed destination - salvation, but many will first have to "fall into a pit"

"For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all...Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it...They worship me in vain; they teach as doctrine the precepts of men." (Titus 2:11; Matthew 7:11-14; 15:9)

The broad road to the "pit" of "destruction" is the "precepts of men" and there are many who are blindly being led down that super highway to heaven - only to "fall into a pit".  They will eventually realize that Jesus was the Savior of the whole world and confess...

"Now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world... he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.." (John 4:42; 1 John 2:2)

And yes, I am aware that "many" think I am the "blindone motoring down the broad way of destruction.  One thing is for sure, one of us is "blind", and "if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into pit"

Friday, March 30, 2018

When Do We Get To Heaven?

" must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die...the wages of sin is death..."  (Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23a)

Good old Grandpa Adam and Grandma Eve believed a lie....and it was Satan who told the lie.  
Once we start believing that a lie is the truth, it is almost impossible to convince us otherwise...Christians included. And of course the whole purpose of lies is to hide the truth, right. Sooo....What was that first lie?

" surely will not die...but when you will be like God." (Genesis 3:4)

I was taught in Church that Christians go immediately to Heaven when they die. But after I began to seriously study the Scripture, I found that I was believing and teaching something that was not true...a lie.

The truth about when we get to heaven comes from Scripture, such as the following.  Note the "will be", the "after that" and the "at his coming":

"For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all WILL BE made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, AFTER THAT those who are Christ's AT HIS COMING....The last enemy that will be abolished is death...the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ..." (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Romans 6:23b).

Jesus was the "first fruits" and the rest of us are made alive "at his coming". And listen to "these words" of "comfort" in Paul's answer when asked specifically what happens to loved ones "who are asleep"...

"Now we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, about those WHO ARE ASLEEP, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope...For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout... and the dead in Christ shall be rising first, thereafter, we, the living who are surviving, shall at the same time be snatched away together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air...COMFORT one another with THESE WORDS." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 CLNT)

Paul's "words" of "comfort" were that we will be "made alive" when Jesus returns. He did not comfort them by telling them that those who had died were already in heaven...because that would have been a lie. Don't you think he would have told them that if it were true?

Now let's look at the two passages of Scripture used consistently in churches to teach that Christians go immediately to heaven upon death. Paul says...

"...I say and prefer, rather, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8)

and Jesus says to the man being crucified next to him...

" you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43)

Paul was simply saying he preferred to be present with the Lord rather than continue suffering in this life.  The context shows that he wasn't teaching about what happens the moment a person dies.

And this is my paraphrase of what Jesus said "I assure you today, you will be with me in Paradise" (note the comma). He was assuring the man next to him that one day both of them would be in Paradise. Jesus himself did not rise from the dead for three days and three nights so he could not have been talking about that same day.

"...just as Jonah was in the stomach of the sea creature for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights." (Matthew 12:40)

Christians use these two verses to justify their believing a lie.  So what is the harm in comforting those grieving by telling them their loved is now in heaven? 

Well nothing unless you prefer the comfort of the truth to the comfort of a lie.

When I think of my Mom and Dad, I am comforted in knowing that they are at peace, resting in a long sleep, oblivious to the suffering of this present evil age. And when Jesus returns to wake them it will seem, to them, only as "the twinkling of an eye"

"...the living know that they will die, but the dead don't know anything... I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." (Ecclesiastes 9:5; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

In the "twinkling of an eye" Mom and Dad will rise with me and my family through the clouds to meet Jesus our Savior in the air, "at the same time"

That truth was given to Paul to comfort those grieving.  That truth is more comforting to me than the lie!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Resurrection of Jesus Was A Miracle – But the Resurrection of Mankind Is Even More Miraculous

The resurrection of Jesus some 1984 years ago is the most important event in the history of mankind – up until now. But it is not the greatest event that will ever happen for mankind. 

Really, what could trump that?

“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the chief messenger, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ wiil rise first, then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

The truth is that if Jesus doesn’t return and raise us from the dead, the resurrection of Jesus makes no difference does it. Yep, the greatest day for mankind is yet to come – it is the return of Jesus to complete the plan of God. A secret hidden by God until He revealed the mystery to the Apostle Paul who told us about it.

“…flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God…Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So, when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:50-54)

I hear a lot of talk about the Kingdom, as if it is already here. It is not. For mankind is still “flesh and blood” and in this body we cannot see or enter the Kingdom. We must be “born again”. And I’m not talking about some religious doctrine that equates born again with being saved. I’m talking about what Jesus meant when he used the term – being born of the spirit, which occurs only at the return of Jesus to resurrect the dead.

Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again…I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh is born of flesh, but spirit is born of the Spirit. Do not be amazed that I said, you must be born again…So will it be with the resurrection of the dead: What is sown is perishable; it is raised imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam a life-giving spirit. The spiritual, however, was not first, but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so also are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so also shall we bear the likeness of the heavenly man.” (John 3:3-7; 1 Corinthians 15:42-49)

The transformation of the corpse of a fleshly sinful person into an immortal, spiritual, heavenly person is when we are “born again”. And it is that event which will be celebrated throughout eternity as the greatest event that ever happened to mankind!👋