Christ’s coming Kingdom is the major theme of Bible prophecy. This theme of Christ’s Kingdom is found throughout the Bible from Genesis through The Revelation. I deal with it at length under PROPHECY on this web site. In the previous message, we showed that the Bible teaches both Christ’s present Kingdom in the hearts of Christians today and His Millennial Kingdom yet to come. We will say more about that Millennial Kingdom in a future message; but in this message, I am dealing with the general idea of His Kingdom.
Don’t Be Deceived
If you will take time to read Luke 17:20-37, you will see that Jesus’ primary burden here is to warn of the deceptive teachings concerning His coming Kingdom. Not only Jesus, but the Apostle Paul warns of this deception in II Thessalonians 2 and II Timothy 3. Furthermore, the Apostle Peter also warns of this deception in II Peter 2 & 3.
People’s preoccupation with this topic is evidenced by the numerous books and conferences on prophecy; some edifying and others that add to the confusion,
Looking, Loving and Longing for Christ’s Return
The Bible teaches in Philippians 3:20-21, Titus 2:11-14 and Hebrews 9:28 that we should be looking for Christ’s return.
In I Timothy 4:7-8 we are encouraged to love His appearing.
The Bible ends in Revelation 22:20 with the longing prayer of every Christian for Jesus’ return for His own.
Don’t attempt to pry into that which is not your concern.
In Acts 1:7-9. as Jesus prepared to ascend to Heaven in His glorified body, He warned us to avoid prying into prophetic details that have not been given to us in Scripture. Instead, we are to concentrate our concern and efforts on reaching the lost for Christ.
The Thessalonian Christians had the proper balance in this matter. In the first chapter of I Thessalonians these godly saints were examples to Christians in their generation and to us as they spread the Gospel throughout their region; while at the same time, earnestly longing for Christ’s return.
Luke 17:20 shows that the main concern of the Pharisees and the Jewish people in general was the coming Messianic Kingdom. Keep in mind that the Pharisees were antagonistic towards Jesus and everything He said. By their question they were implying, “Jesus, if you are the Messiah, as you claim to be, when are you going to get around to changing this mess we are in as slaves to this oppressive Roman Empire? We don’t see any evidence of your Kingdom!”
Jesus answered them, “The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is! or There it is!’ for the kingdom of God is in your midst.” That is, Jesus, the King, was standing in their midst.
So the Kingdom of God is at work in the world today in a limited way, as Jesus’ Spirit lives and moves in the hearts of Christians, surrendered to Jesus, our Saviour and King. Jesus, in His glorified bodily form, is in Heaven today. Imminently, He will return to this earth to catch up or rapture His own to Heaven. At that time the Antichrist will be revealed and rule this earth for seven years known as The Tribulation. Then Christ will return with His saints to establish His thousand year reign, prophesied in Scripture.
The Old Testament Thread
Christ’s Millennial Kingdom is alluded to and also clearly mentioned throughout the Old Testament. Let me just mention some of the main prophecies. It first appears in Genesis 3:15, the Seed Plot of the Bible. Here we have the whole story of the Bible condensed in one verse. Basically the Bible is the story of the ongoing warfare between God and Satan. This verse tells us that Satan wounds Jesus in His heel, but eventually Jesus mortally wounds Satan’s head. So this verse informs us that though there will be ongoing warfare between Christ and Satan and between Christ’s people and Satan’s people, Christ is the final victor. His Kingdom is eternal.
Genesis 17:6 shows us that kings will come from Abraham’s seed, including Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Genesis 49:10 narrows the line down to the tribe of Judah, from whom the promised Messiah will come.
In Number 24:17 we find Prophet Balaam prophesy of Jesus, the Star who will arise out of Judah and the Scepter that shall arise out of Israel. This is a prophecy of Jesus future reign over the earth.
Though Balaam faithfully prophesied the truth, sadly he used his influence to weaken the testimony of Israel by encouraging them to intermarry with the heathen. Sadly, he is condemned in the New Testament for his evil ways, II Peter 2:15, which became known as error, Jude 11 and became the doctrine which Christ hated. Revelation 2:14.
In the same way, some preachers and evangelists in our day; though they preach the Truth, have gone the way of Balaam by using their influence to encourage God’s people to compromise with unbelievers. The compromise of some Christian evangelists and pastors to minister in cooperation with and under the sponsorship of religious liberals back in the 50’s has had a devastating affect on the state of the church today. See my series on SEPARATION for more on this.
The Kingdom of Christ is prophesied clearly in God’s Covenant with David, recorded in II Samuel 7:4-17. From this point onward, we know that the Messiah will arise from the line of David.
In Isaiah, written 700 years before Christ, we have many prophecies of Christ. A major kingdom passage is Isaiah 9:6-7. Here Christ is prophesied as the future King who will one day reign on David’s Throne from Jerusalem. This refers to the Millennial reign of Christ which we will deal with in a later message in this series. In Isaiah 40 we learn of a forerunner who would one day introduce the Messiah to the world. That was fulfilled in John the Baptist who introduced Jesus when He commenced his public ministry when He was about 30. You can read the details of this in Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3 and John 1. Note, that when he introduced Jesus, he announced “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
Jesus introduces His Kingdom
Early in Jesus public ministry He preached His famous Sermon on the Mount in which we find the Beatitudes. These describe the attitude of those who are in His spiritual Kingdom. Learn more on this under BEATITUDES on this web site. In this Sermon Jesus teaches that the righteousness God desires in us is the righteousness that springs from a regenerated heart; not the failed, legalistic, Pharisaical righteousness that concentrated on the letter of the Law, rather than the spirit of the Law.
Long before, the Prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:31-33 had written by inspiration of God of a New Covenant that God would make with His people; a covenant that promised us an internal power that would enable His people to live a genuine righteousness that springs from a regenerated heart.
Christians are given regenerated hearts that desire to love and obey God. Though we still have our sinful, flesh natures that constantly try to pull us down, a Romans 7 teaches; yet we have the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit who enables us to live the righteousness of the Law. That’s the message of Romans 8:1-4. Read it and rejoice in it. I consider it one of the most thrilling truths in all the Bible.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount also describes the negative, hateful reception that Christians and Christ’s message will receive in this Satan-dominated world.
A curious, concerned seeker of Truth
To the Pharisee, Nicodemus, who came in curiosity and concern to Jesus by night asking questions about the Kingdom, Jesus explained the spiritual nature of it. He taught Nicodemus the need to be born again by the Spirit of God in order to enter the Kingdom. This, of course, is the same message taught throughout the New Testament. We are born again, or regenerated by the Holy Spirit, when we believe the Gospel that God, in the person of His Son, Jesus, died and rose again the third day to pay the penalty for our sins. Those who recognize they are lost and hell bound sinners, but put their trust in Christ; are saved and are brought into the spiritual Kingdom of God.
In the parables of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 13 and other passages in the Gospels, Jesus taught many truths concerning the Kingdom. Some of them can be found in messages under the category, DISCIPLESHIP.
Christ’s Kingdom Rejected
Because Christ’s Kingdom did not come as the Jews expected and because Jesus dealt with heart issues, Israel as a nation rejected their Messiah. “We have no king but Caesar. We will not have this man rule over us! His blood be upon us and on our children!” they shouted as they rejected their King and turned Him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified. John 19:15, Matthew 27:23,25
Christ’s Millennial Kingdom Postponed
This rejection was not unexpected by Jesus, nor should it be to anyone who knows his Bible. It was clearly prophesied in Isaiah 8:14-15, and chapter 53. The New Testament writers wrote about it in Luke 20:17, Acts 4:10,11, Romans 11 and I Peter 2:6-8.
Someone has pictured it this way. In Old Testament times Israel was the train on the main track of God’s purpose.
At the cross, Israel rejected their Messiah and God then moved Israel to a siding track, where they have been sitting for 2000 years now.
At Pentecost the Church Age began and the Church began moving down the main track of God’s purpose, while Israel as a nation continues to sit on the siding.
But the good news for Israel is that God is not finished with them. Read Romans 11 to learn of the glorious future for that nation. When Christ returns in the Rapture for His Church, the Church will disappear to Heaven. Then Israel will be switched back on to the main track of God’s purpose. Through the Tribulation, they will be converted, and at the end of the seven year period of time, Christ will return and Israel will receive Him as their Messiah, Saviour and King. The story is prophesied in Zechariah chapters 12 through14.
In this present Church Age, Christ is silently reigning in the hearts of those who have received Him as Saviour and Lord. Jesus is still despised by the world who literally hates Him. The unconverted of this world are like Saul of Tarsus who almost frothed at the mouth like a rabid dog with hatred for Jesus and for those who belonged to Him, until he was confronted by the risen Christ and converted. Then Saul (now Paul) became a firebrand for Christ, preaching the Gospel and enduring tremendous persecution. Eventually he was beheaded by the enemies of Christ.
Are you in His Kingdom today?
Colossians 1:13 informs us that we Christians have been translated from the Kingdom of sin and darkness into the Kingdom of His Dear Son, Jesus.
I Peter 2:9 describes Christians as a royal priesthood. We need no human or angelic mediator to go to God for us. Christ Himself, fully God and fully man, is our one and only Mediator, I Timothy 2:5-6 declares. We need not go to Mary nor to those the Roman Catholic Church has declared saints, nor to a human priest to contact God. Through Christ alone, we can approach God and through Christ’s shed blood alone, we are made fit for Heaven.
Revelation 1:5-6 declares that everyone who has come to Christ through faith in His cleansing blood are made Kings and Priests unto God.
The Age of Humiliation, Hatred and Suffering.
Because Christ is hated in this present age, we who belong to Christ, gladly share with Him the sufferings they would heap on Him if He were present. Read the following Scriptures and rejoice if you are a Christian and that you are counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. Matthew 5:3-16, Philippians 1:27-29, 2:5-16, 3:10, Romans 8:16-18, I Corinthians 4:9-16, II Corinthians 1:5-10, I Peter 4:12-19, Hebrews 11 & 12.
Worship and Suffering
Today, exciting, emotional worship services are the rage, complete with feel-good, pious experiences. I do not deny for a minute that in these services are found genuine worshippers of Christ. But Christian friend, Psalm 138:2 teaches that we are to magnify His Word above His name. I encourage you to read Psalm 34 and note that true worship involves a humble, broken, contrite heart, a turning from sin and a desire to love and please God. It also involves sharing in the suffering that comes when we identify ourselves with Christ. It involves the same desire John the Baptist had for Christ to increase in his life and for self to decrease. John 3:30
Christian, don’t expect exaltation in this life. This is the age of humiliation and suffering for Christ. If you are in Christ’s Kingdom, your heart is surrendered to King Jesus. Presently Christ is establishing His reign in the hearts of all true believers. When that is accomplished, then He will return to establish His Millennial reign over all the world.
Will You Reign with Christ?
One day Christ will return and those who have suffered with Him in this age will be exalted with Him in His Millennial Kingdom. II Timothy 2:12 II Thessalonians 1:2-5, Revelation 20:4. Would you pray with me John’s prayer of Revelation 22:20? “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
The awakening of the church, the Body of Christ, from its slumber within the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century is known as the Protestant Reformation. Although many faithful preachers shared in the awakening; including Wycliffe, Hus, Zwingli, Tyndale, Calvin, Knox and others, it was the Augustinian monk, Martin Luther’s, nailing of his 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg Church on October 31, 1517 that marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.
Based on the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ’s shed blood alone and advanced by the timely invention of the printing press, thus making possible the mass distribution of Bibles; the Protestant Reformation fanned the flames of Truth that brought freedom to many enslaved in a dead works religion.
Generally all those who embraced the Protestant Reformation were Reformers, but in a stricter sense, only the doctrines of John Calvin are known today as Reformed Theology. His theology known as TULIP theology are summarized by the five points.
Total depravity of man
Irresistible grace and
Tulip Theology is a topic itself and perhaps we will deal with it later.
Though I hold to all the points of TULIP doctrine: I do not carry them to the extremes of Reformed Theology. One major difference I have with Reformed Theology is with their understanding of who Israel is and her future.
Reformed Theology believes that when the Jews rejected Christ 2000 years ago, that God was through with the Jews as a race. They believe that at that point, the Church replaced Israel. They believe that all prophecies of Israel‘s future apply only to the Church.
I agree with Reformed Theology that the blessings promised to Israel can rightfully be applied to the Church as Romans 11:17 teaches. In that chapter Israel is pictured as an olive tree into which we Gentile believers, pictured as a wild olive tree, have by God’s grace been grafted. We partake of the blessings of Israel. Note, that the olive tree, Israel, was not dug up and replaced with a new olive tree, the Church. Rather, branches of the olive tree were cut off and the wild olive tree, the Church, has been grafted into the olive tree of Israel. Together, we share in the blessings of Israel.
Note that the blindness of the Jews to Jesus their Messiah is temporary, according to Romans 11:25. Verse 26 teaches that Israel, the house of Jacob, who rejected Jesus is going to one day be saved. That’s made very clear in Scripture, as we will see as we continue with this study.
Another area of disagreement with Reformed Theology is in the matter of Christ’s Kingdom. They believe it began with Jesus’ Resurrection. I encourage you to go to my category, Reformed Theology for more on this topic.
Reformed Theology advocates believe that they have an optimistic view of the Church and her calling to extend Christ’s Kingdom which they believe is being extended throughout the earth, as Jesus explained in His parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13:33
They believe that we, who believe that the world system is growing worse and seeking to hinder and even attempt to annihilate the Church even as we seek to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission, have a pessimistic view of the Kingdom.
The question is not who is optimistic or who is pessimistic. The question is, what does the Bible say about our progress in carrying out The Great Commission?
For God’s answer, read II Timothy 3:1-5,12-15, 4:1-5, II Peter 3:3-18, Jude 3-4, 17-25, I John 2:15-19. Note, that this present world system is not in the process of becoming the Kingdom of God. It is in the process of decay and passing away. We are not moving towards the Kingdom of God; rather we are moving towards the Kingdom of Anti-christ, which kingdom will be destroyed when Christ returns to this earth to set up His Millennial Kingdom.
In earlier messages in this Kingdom series, we have dealt with the present aspect of the Kingdom as Christ rules in the lives of Christians; but we must not ignore the literal Millennial reign of Christ for one thousand years on this earth.
Not only do we presently live in Christ’s Kingdom as Christians, but the Bible clearly prophecies of a future Millennial Kingdom when The Lord Jesus Christ will personally reign over the entire earth from Jerusalem for one thousand years.
God does not delight in trying to confuse us. He does not say things He does not mean. The Bible is not a complicated book. Certainly there are depths of spiritual truth that we cannot fully grasp now. But basically, the Bible is a simple book for simple people. Whenever we can take the Bible literally, we ought to do so. When metaphors are intended, they are usually quite obvious. When Jesus declares that He is the Bread of Life, He is not implying He is a loaf of bread made from flour. When He says He is the Door, He does not mean that He is a wooden door. Those are obviously metaphors. But when the Bible speaks of God creating the world in six days, He does not mean six-hundred, billion years. When Jesus spoke of being in the grave for three days and three nights, He was not speaking of an undetermined period of time. When the Bible speaks of Jesus reigning over this earth for a period of 1000 years, it means just that; 1000 years. Six times in Revelation 20, the major chapter that deals with the reign of Christ on earth, God’s Spirit inspires John to specifically describe the reign of Christ on this earth as lasting one thousand years. If the Millennium began with the Resurrection of Christ, what’s this about one thousand years? It’s been over 2000 years now since Christ returned to Heaven.
How long is 1000 years?
Imagine going back in history five hundred years to the time of Christopher Columbus and his discovery of America. Now go back another five hundred years to 1000 AD. This was the time of the Anasazi Indians of America’s Southwest. who lived in cliff dwellings. This was the time of Leif Eriksson, the Norse Viking who discovered North America. This was the time of Otto I of the Ancient Roman Empire. Try to imagine from that period of time to the present. That’s one thousand years and that’s how long the Lord Jesus is going to reign on this earth.
A Description of the Millennium
Survivors of the Great Tribulation described in Revelation 6-19 will enter the Millennium. They will still have natural bodies and bear children through the entire one thousand years reign with Him. Isaiah 65:19-25 adds interesting details about this coming reign of Christ.
All Christians will have glorified, resurrection bodies which we received at the Rapture when Christ returned to earth for us. Psalm 2 tells us that Christ will rule the world with a rod of iron. No one will dare to defy Him. No one will get away with crime. Those who have served Christ and suffered for His sake in this present church age are going to reign with Him, II Timothy 2:12 tells us. Isaiah 11 tells us that righteousness and peace will be the outstanding characteristics of Christ’s reign.
Wild animals will live together peacefully. Nothing will hurt God’s people. Imagine living in a contaminate free world! The whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of God. Isaiah 35 describes the earth as beautiful during Jesus’ reign. The blind, deaf and lame of this age will enjoy perfect vision, hearing and ability to walk, leap and run. Zechariah 12-14 further describes the Millennium. In that day the Jews will recognize Jesus as their Messiah. Holiness will be evident everywhere.
Satan’s Last Rebellion
You would think that after one thousand years of perfect peace and prosperity, every unsaved person on the face of the earth would be a Christian; but such is not going to be the case. The natural man’s heart is so wicked that even in a perfect environment he will still rebel against Christ. At the end of the Millennium, Satan will be released from his prison where he had been bound for one thousand years. In his hatred for Christ he will stir up the multitudes of this earth in one final rebellion against Christ. This rebellion will be short-lived. Revelation 20:7-10 tells about it. Christ will instantly destroy Satan and throw him into the Lake of Fire that was prepared for the devil and his demons. Praise God! That will be the END of sin and Satan.
A Sober Warning
If you are not yet a Christian, you need to read the following verses in Revelation 20:11-15. They are the most sobering verses in all the Bible. There you will read of your fate and your eternal destination, unless you turn from your sins now in this Age of Grace and put your trust in Christ.
The major passages in the Gospels on the Second Coming of Christ include Matthew 23 and 25, and Luke 17 and 21. While most of these passages give us a chronological order of events, Luke 17 focuses more on the nature and purpose of His coming. In this chapter Jesus is emphasizing how the Kingdom comes.
The full scope of His coming includes:
1. The Rapture of the Saints I Corinthians 15:50-58 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18
2. The Bema Judgment of Christians for rewards Romans 14, I Corinthians 3:11-15,
II Corinthians 5:9-10
3. The judgment of those left behind during the Tribulation described in Revelation 6-19 ending with the Battle of Armageddon mentioned in Rev. 16:16
4. The Millennial Reign of Christ described in Micah 4:1-4, Isaiah 11, 35, and 65:17-25, besides many other Old Testament Scriptures,
The events described in Luke 17:20-37 refer to the judgment of those left behind to go through the Tribulation, including the Battle of Armageddon.
The Purpose of the Second Coming
When we study the Second Coming of Christ, the emphasis, though wonderful and exciting, should not be so much on us and our glorified bodies; but on the truth that Christ is being vindicated and glorified as He destroys Satan and puts down sin forever.
The major theme of of the Second Coming is Christ’s judgment on this sinful world which precedes and ushers in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ.
When Christians leave this world in the Rapture, those left behind are not going to miss us and our Christian influence on this world. They will look at our disappearance as “good riddance”. They will be enthralled with the Anti-christ who promises peace and unity in the world.
Towards the end of the seven years of Tribulation, Christ will visibly burst on the world scene as a bolt of lightening, as described in Luke 17:24. His coming will bring massive worldwide destruction. In Luke 17:26-28, He likens that destruction to that of the Flood in Noah’s day in which only eight were spared and the destruction of Sodom, in which only three were saved.
In summary, the Second Coming of Christ is not so much about me and my glory as it is about God’s glory and the end of sin.
In the midst of this Luke 17 passage, Jesus draws our attention to Lot‘s wife in verse 32.
Remember Lot‘s wife
This warning reminds us of some other reminders in recent history. Remember Pearl Harbor!, when the Japanese bombed our naval base December 7th, 1941. That was our battle cry and victory slogan during the Second World War that bonded Americans together to sacrifice for victory. There was no division between Democrats and Republicans. We were united in this together to make any sacrifice necessary to win.
And then there was Remember 9-11 and the Muslim Terrorist attacks on America‘s soil in 2001. For a few months there was love and unity among Americans and a crying to God to bless America. So soon we forgot, and for the past seven years the American political landscape has become hateful and ugly as we forgot who our enemy was and turned our attacks upon one another as Democrats and Republicans.
So turning our attention back to Lot‘s wife, what is it that we are to remember about her? Lot was a nephew of Abraham. The story of the relationship between Abraham and Lot begins in Genesis 11:27-32 and continues through chapter 12, 13, 14, 18 and 19. In those chapters we read of Abraham’s love and kindness towards Lot and Lot‘s selfishness towards his Uncle Abraham.
We see how Lot chose the well watered plain of Jordan and the city of Sodom. We see how he built his home there and finally found himself as a leader in the city government of Sodom. He found his wife there and their heart and life became deeply entwined in the life of Sodom, a city so well known for immorality.
On the other hand, we can take a peek into the heart of Lot by reading II Peter 2:4-9. There we find that while living in Sodom, his soul was vexed by the immorality of the city. In that verse we learn that Lot was a righteous man, though his family was in shambles and he had no spiritual influence on anyone.
In Genesis 19 we read the story of the angels who came and literally dragged Lot and his wife and his two daughters out of the city, warning them not to look back on the destruction that God was going to bring on that city. You remember the story. Lot‘s wife looked back on the city where her heart was. You remember the rest of the story. Lot‘s wife immediately turned into a pillar of salt, leaving Lot and his two daughters to flee for their lives.
Their in a mountain cave in Zoar, the two daughters made their father drunk and then each conceived a child by their father, Those two baby boys became the fathers of the Moabites and the Ammonites, two nations that were a constant curse to Israel.
The Taken and the Left
Now let’s leave the story of Lot and his wife as we turn to the final verses of Luke 17:33-37. There, we read about two groups of people, the taken and the left. The taken are those dragged to Megiddo to be destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon where the blood flows for two hundred miles up to the bridle of the horses. See Revelation 16:13-14. Those taken are those eaten by the eagles and vultures, as referred to in Luke 17:37 and Revelation 19:17-18. Those left behind are those who enter the Millennial Kingdom of Christ in their natural bodies. You can read about them in Isaiah 65:17-25.
Of course, we who are born again, were caught up in the Rapture in glorified bodies. We will enter the Kingdom with Christ in our glorified bodies and live and reign with Christ for one thousand years. Those in their natural bodies will live out their lives to old age, dying around the age of 100. During the Millennial Age, some of the curse of sin will be lifted from the earth and life on earth will be somewhat like it was in the Garden of Eden.
One thing will be missing. Satan will be bound and cast into a bottomless pit for the entire Millennium. Afterwards, Revelation 20 tells us, Satan will be released for a short season in which he stirs up one final rebellion against Christ. It is short-lived. He is bound and cast into the Lake of Fire where he will spend eternity with his demons and with all those people who through the centuries have rejected Christ as Saviour, as is explained in the final verse of Revelation 20.
If you are still without Christ, I urge you to Remember Noah and the Flood, Remember Lot’s wife. Remember the warnings you have received from Christians and from this web site. Do the sensible and only right thing. Admit you are a sinner, unable to lift a finger to save yourself and cast yourself on Christ who alone can save you this moment, if you’ll receive Him.
In Luke 17:5-6 Jesus teaches us that it’s not the size of our faith that saves us and secures answers to our prayers, but it’s even the smallest amount of faith in our big God. I urge you to get your eyes off the size of your faith and off your ability to think positive thoughts and set your spiritual eye sight and confidence in God Himself and in HIs provision of His Son, Jesus who died on the cross and rose again to save us from our sins.
Faith is more than hope or desire or a wish or positive thoughts. If you were a poor, starving beggar and a wealthy person handed you a check for a million dollars, faith would cause you to take your check to the bank to cash it and use it to meet your needs.
When someone you want to meet tells you he will meet you at a certain location at a certain time and you take him at his word and you are there at the appointed time, that is putting your faith in him.
Faith is sitting in a chair, confident that it will support you.
Faith is stepping into an airplane and sitting down in your seat, trusting the pilot, the condition of the plane, the ground crew and the control tower operators that they will get you to your destination safely. Whether you relax and enjoy yourself or whether you are a nervous wreck all the way, makes no difference. You will still arrive at your destination safely, whether you enjoyed the journey or not.
Faith is acting on God’s promise without seeing how it is going to be realized or fulfilled.
Here’s an acrostic that may help you remember the meaning of faith. FAITH is Forsaking All I Trust Him. Forsaking all confidence in my human strength and human resources, I trust Him alone.
Hebrews 11 is the great FAITH chapter of the Bible. It begins with God’s definition of faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
The Greek word hupostasis is translated substance here. In Hebrews 1:3 it is translated person. In II Corinthians 9:4 it is translated confident.
In other words, faith is not an airy feeling or a hope. It is grounded in that which is solid; substance, a person, confidence. Faith is as real as seeing the reality of God in the person of Jesus as He walked this earth 2000 years ago. It rests in the historical fact that the man Jesus is God, the Creator of the universe in human flesh, and that He proved His deity by rising bodily from the dead.
If Jesus did not rise bodily from the dead in a glorified body seen of many; then our faith is vain and is nothing more than a dream and my ministry of over fifty years has been a total waste.
So, you see, everyone who has ever kept an appointment with a friend or stranger, everyone who has ever sat in a chair, expecting it to support him, everyone who has ever entered a plane to fly to their destination, everyone who has ever eaten a restaurant meal prepared by a cook they have never seen, everyone who has entered an elevator has faith. Perhaps their faith is not in God; but they have faith. Every astronaut, every scientist has faith in God’s physical laws; though he may not have a saving faith in Christ.
So if everyone has faith and if many people believe that God created the universe. why is it that many of these people who believe in God have never been saved? It’s one thing to believe in God. It’s another thing to agree with what the Bible says about us and trust God to save us and take us to Heaven.
The Bible tells us the story of how sin came into the world. The fact is that all of us are born sinners and all of us are under the wrath of God. We all deserve to spend eternity banished from Him in hell. That’s the bad news that’s missing in many pulpits today. In fact, most religious people expect to go to Heaven because of their self-righteousness or because of what they believe their churches can do for them.
The Bible contradicts that false thinking. From Genesis through Revelation God impresses us with the fact that none of us are righteous and that we all deserve to face the wrath of God now and throughout eternity. See Genesis 2:16-17, Ezekiel 18:4, John 3:36, Romans 1:18-32; 3:10-23; 6:23, Revelation 6:12-17, 20:11-15. That’s the bad news. We need to understand it and accept it. Only then are we ready for the Good News, the Gospel.
The Good News is that Jesus came down to this earth for one major reason. He came to bear the wrath of God for our sins. He died as the propitiation for our sins. That is, He died to bear the wrath of God that we deserved for our sins. He suffered the penalty for our sins in His own body on the cross. Think of this amazing salvation!!! We as sinners are deserving of God’s wrath. God in His amazing love for us, poured out His wrath on Himself, thereby satisfying His righteous demands He Himself, in the person of Jesus, paid the full penalty for the sins of the world, thereby satisfying His righteous demands; but only those who take their place as sinners in God’s sight and receive Christ as their Substitute and Saviour, are saved. All others continue on their way to Hell where they will suffer the wrath of God for eternity. See PROPITIATION on this web site for more on this topic.
Saving faith is simply taking my place as a sinner before God and receiving by faith God’s wonderful salvation. Jesus took all my sins, dying in my stead, taking the death that I deserved, taking the punishment of my sins, as He suffered and died on the cross. In the place of my sins, He imputed to my account His righteousness. Folks, that is an amazingly GOOD TRADE!!! That is good news!!! That is the Gospel, pure and simple.
How on earth could anyone become angry with God and with the messenger who brought them this Good News? There is only one reason. They are blinded to the Gospel and hateful to God and to God’s faithful servant. They are blinded and enslaved by Satan. See II Corinthians 4:3-4.
Will you stop right now and bow your heart before God and admit your lost condition as a sinner? Will you right now reach out by faith to Jesus who died on the cross in your place and then rose again to be your Saviour? Pray this moment, “Lord God, I am a guilty sinner and hell bound. This moment I trust Jesus Christ as my Saviour from sin. Thank you for pouring out your wrath on Jesus in my place. I receive Him now as my Substitute and Saviour. Come into my life, Lord Jesus, and take full control. Use me for Your glory.”
If you have just asked Jesus to save you, God has cleansed your heart and given you His gift of eternal life. He has miraculously entered your life by His Holy Spirit and He will begin to make changes in your life. The sin you once loved, you will hate. The Bible you once despised you will love. You will find you have an insatiable hunger and thirst for it. Read II Corinthians 5:17-21 to learn more about this change.
WHAT DOES FAITH ENABLE US TO DO?
Faith enables us to believe in the existence of God and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him, Hebrews 11:6 tells us. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.”
Faith in Christ as our Saviour enables us to be counted perfectly righteous in the sight of God, just as Abraham was counted righteous by faith. Read the following passages on this topic: Psalm 32:1-2, Isaiah 53, Romans 3 through 5. If you just now accepted my invitation to trust Christ, you are already experiencing the joy and peace of knowing that your sins are forgiven and blotted out through the shed blood of Christ. God sees you perfectly righteous through faith in Christ.
Faith in Christ enables us to begin understanding spiritual truths that were hidden to us prior to our faith in Christ. It enable us to believe in the Creation of the universe by the Word of God, as Hebrews 11:6 teaches. Foundational to believing everything in the Bible is a belief and trust in the God of Creation, even the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
WHY DO WE NEED FAITH?
There is no other way to approach our invisible God and please Him. Hebrews 11:6 There is no other way of salvation. Acts 4:12, Romans 3:21-22, 28; 4:20-22. 10:8-14. We are kept by faith. I Peter 1:5
We walk by faith. I Corinthians 5:7, Hebrews 11:8-10.
We live by faith in His faithfulness. Galatians 2:20
We receive all God’s promises by faith. Matthew 7:7
We trust God for rewards for faithful service. Matthew 19:27-30 We trust Him even if it seems to us that we have accomplished little or nothing for Him in this life. Hebrews 11:32-40
We resist the devil by faith. I Peter 5:8-9, Ephesians 6:16
HOW DO WE GAIN FAITH?
Faith comes by hearing and receiving the Word of God. Romans 10:17
That is, be using your mind and logically examining the evidence to the veracity of the Bible as the infallible Word of God. it leads us to the conclusions that:
1. This creation requires a wise, loving Creator. It did not come together by random chance.
2. The Bible is filled with evidence of divine supernatural authorship.
3. The Creation and the Bible both come together to prove God. Read Psalm 19.
But saving faith goes beyond human logic and intellectual assent. That itself does not save. Many unsaved people believe in the reality that God exists. Satan and his demons believe that and they are not saved. James 2:19, Mark 1:24
Saving faith comes by personal choice. Hebrews 11:24-25. Let me be quick to add, you would not even choose Christ, unless God the Father by His Spirit was drawing you to Himself. John 6:44 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8
Saving faith comes by personal appropriation. John 1:12 tells us that we must receive Him by faith.
Saving faith enable us to rest in Him. In Psalm 34:8 we are invited to trust, rest, taste and prove to ourselves that faith in Christ supernaturally changes us forever. Prove God for Himself. His salvation is better than a money back guarantee. In fact, no money is involved in receiving Christ.
HOW DOES MY FAITH GROW?
Our faith grows in the same way we receive it; by reading and hearing the Word of God. Romans 10:17
Our faith also grows through trials and testings God allows. James 1:3-4 I Peter 1:5-8, Job 42:5-6.
Let us not focus on the size of our faith, but on the power of God and in the grace of God. Ephesians 6:10 II Timothy 2:1
Trust God with the faith you have.
Stay in the Word daily and your faith will grow.
Accept the trials of your life as opportunities to build your faith.
Your faith will grow and your life will bring ever-increasing glory to God. I Peter 1:3-9
In Luke 17:11-19 is found the well known story of Jesus healing ten lepers. This is a beautiful story in a setting of hopelessness and despair. Leprosy is contracted through close proximity to those who are infected. In Bible times, lepers were required to stay outside the camp of Israel. They lived lonely, poverty-stricken lives, waiting for death to deliver them.
The disease strikes the nervous system and appears on the skin as a white spot. As time goes on the leper loses all feeling in his body. As a result, when cut or burned he never feels any pain. Infections result and in time the leper loses parts of his body as it wastes away with infections.
Leprosy is a picture of sin. All of us are sinners and we are all under the curse of sin, which is death. As leprosy alienates the victim from others, so sin alienates us from God and from one another. That alienation is described in Ephesians 2:12-13 and 4:17-19
As lepers are made unclean by the disease, so sin makes us unclean and defiled. Read the description of this in Isaiah 1:4-6, 64:6 and Romans 1:21-32
Leviticus 13 instructed the priests in identifying the disease. Leviticus 14 gave the Levitical priests detailed instructions for the ceremonial cleansing of a leper who has been healed.
Three lepers are identified in the Old Testament, though there were many more.
Miriam, Moses’ older sister, was stricken with leprosy for her rebellion against Moses’ leadership. The story of her rebellion and resulting leprosy are recorded in Number 12:1-15. The story ends with Moses praying for her and God answering his prayers by healing her.
King Uzziah of Judah also contracted leprosy when he attempted to usurp the role of priest. The story is told in II Chronicles 26. He was never healed, but died a leper.
The third story is perhaps the most well known story of leprosy in the Bible. It is found in II Kings 5. Read this very interesting story of Naaman, the Syrian Captain who contracted the disease. Elisha the prophet instructed him to dip himself in the Jordan River seven times and be healed. Read of how he almost missed his healing because of pride. He finally obeyed the prophet and came up from the water the seventh time with not a trace of leprosy.
In the New Testament Gospels we read of lepers whom Jesus healed and cleansed. In Luke 5 we learn of a leper who came to Jesus for healing. Jesus touched him and he was immediately healed and went to the priest for ceremonial cleansing.
In Luke 17 we have the story of ten lepers coming to Jesus for healing. Nine were Jews and one was a Samaritan. Jews who were carried away by the Assyrians in 722 BC and intermarried with them were known as Samaritans. The Jews discriminated against them as an inferior race of people.
When Jesus on His final journey to Jerusalem to be crucified, passed through Samaria, He was confronted by these ten lepers who begged for Jesus to have pity on them. Jesus “was moved with compassion” as was the case throughout the Gospels whenever He met needy people, whether physically needy or spiritually needy. The Bible says “He came to seek and to save the lost.”
This time, instead of touching the lepers, as He did in the story in Luke 5, He simply spoke to the lepers. He said to them, “Go, show yourselves unto the priest.” The lepers understood that this was something that only healed lepers were to do. Go and let the priests examine you for any trace of leprosy and if healed, pronounce you ceremonially clean.
All ten lepers immediately turned around and in faith that they would be healed, started walking to the priests. Immediately, they were aware that all trace of leprosy was gone. They were totally healed of the disease.
Nine of those lepers, evidently all Jews, continued their journey to the priests, no doubt rejoicing that they were healed. The tenth, a despised Samaritan, immediately turned around in his tracks and returned to Jesus, falling down on his face at His feet. I’m sure you know what He did. He cried with a loud voice, giving thanks to Jesus, whom He was convinced was God in human flesh. The Bible says, “He gave thanks to God.”
Jesus answering said, “Were there not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? There are not found to give glory to God, but this stranger.” (this outcast Samaritan). Then Jesus declared, “Your faith has made you whole.” The Greek word translated whole is SOZO. That word is translated SALVATION throughout the New Testament. Yes, the Samaritan was not only healed of His leprosy, but because of His faith in Jesus as the Son of God, He was saved from his sins. What a day of celebration for this stranger to Israel! While the nine continued on their journey to the priests for ceremonial cleansing, this poor Samaritan received heart cleansing from all his sins, along with his healing from leprosy.
By the way, can you imagine the chagrin of the Jewish priests as they examined these lepers and found them to be totally healed of leprosy and as they learned that Jesus had done it? Most of the priests and the Pharisees were enemies of Jesus and would soon be conniving to have Jesus crucified; but these priests were reluctant witnesses of Jesus healing power and of His deity.
As it was in Jesus day, so it is today. The masses of people, immersed in their ceremonialism and religion, see no need for Jesus as their Saviour. They reject Jesus as God, believing that, at best, He was only a great teacher and prophet. They continue on in their sins facing a Christless eternity in Hell. A few fall on their faces before Jesus and thank Him for dying on the cross for them, rising again to save them from their sins. Where are you today? Are you wrapped up in your ceremony and religion, ignoring Christ who died to save you? Or are you on your face before Jesus with the despised Samaritan, hearing Jesus say to you, “Your faith has made you whole. Your faith has saved you!” Jesus’ death and resurrection saves you. Your faith simply takes hold of that salvation and makes it yours.
I’m so glad that at the age of nine I received by faith this wonderful good news that Jesus died for my sins. I received Him that night and He saved me instantly and now for over sixty-six years I have had the joy of walking and talking with Jesus as my Lord and best Friend. I urge you to receive Him by faith this moment.
Pray this from your heart, “Lord Jesus, I am a sinner, unworthy of your mercy. I believe that you died and rose again to save me from my sins. This moment, I receive you as my personal Saviour. Change me by your supernatural power. Cause me to hate my sins and turn from them and give me a heart to read and obey Your Word and do Your will. Lead me to a Church where the Bible is faithfully taught. I want to grow in the knowledge of God and be what you want me to be. Thank you, Dear God, for saving me.”