Christianity crumbles if Jesus did not rise bodily from the dead.
In Luke 21 we continue our study of Jesus’ Olivet Discourse with His disciples on the Mount of Olives, just outside the city of Jerusalem, as He explains truths concerning His approaching death, resurrection, ascension to Heaven and then His future return to reign over this earth.
Next day He will gather in an upper room with His disciples for their last supper together. There He will comfort them concerning these matters. That conversation is found in John 13-17.
In His Olivet Discourse, He answers their questions concerning His return to reign, as the Old Testament prophets had prophesied. Even Job, who probably lived about 2000 BC during the time of Abraham, shared some amazing, inspired, prophetic insights concerning the resurrection in Job 19:23-27.
There are three phases of the resurrection
First, Christ’s bodily resurrection
This is part of the Doctrine of Christ upon which our faith stands or falls. I Corinthians 15:23 lists this resurrection as being the firstfruits of all future resurrections. As the firstfruits of a crop assure us more is coming, so Christ’s resurrection assures us that more resurrections are coming. According to II John 7-11, this doctrine is so important that to deny it classifies one as an apostate.
Along with the details of Christ’s resurrection as found in the final chapters of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; I Corinthians 15 is the major chapter in the Bible that explains the doctrine of the Resurrection of Christ and what it means for us.
If there is no resurrection, Christianity crumbles. We have no hope and we are living in a dream world. We, of all people, are to be pitied as the biggest fools on earth.
While the unconverted live to draw all the pleasures they can out of life; we Christians live solely for the glory of God. Our entire existence and purpose is to live in the light of eternity and lead others to prepare to meet God. That’s the burden of Paul which he shares with us in II Corinthians 5:7-21.
Going back to I Corinthians 15, we are made aware that upon the bodily resurrection of Christ, hangs the veracity and our assurance of His Second Coming to this earth.
The second phase of the resurrection is Christ’s coming for Christians. This coming is better known as The Rapture of Saints.
This resurrection is referred to in I Corinthians 15:23 “Afterwards, they that are Christ’s at His coming.” Because Christ rose bodily from the dead in a glorified body, we are guaranteed that we Christians will also rise in glorified bodies when Christ returns for us.
I Corinthians 15:50-58 describes this second coming for His own. It will take place in an instant, “in the twinkling of an eye” The dead in Christ shall be changed into our glorified bodies. I Thessalonians 4:13-18 gives further details of this wonderful event. Note, that it will take place in the air. Jesus will not come down to earth at this coming. We will be caught up or snatched up in an instant, whether we died and were in grave, or whether we are alive on that glad day.
The best part of all of this is that we are promised that from that moment on, we will forever be with the Lord. Never again throughout eternity will we ever be separated from Christ our Saviour and Lord. What a comfort that ought to be for each of us as Christians! This coming according to Hebrews 9:27-28 is for those who await His coming with anticipation. I John 3:2-3 teaches us that the very thought and anticipation of this coming is a purifying hope to us. I surely don’t want to be found involved in sin when He returns for me.
Titus 2:13 speaks of His two comings: first, the Blessed Hope of the rapture of the saints and then seven years later, His glorious appearing when He returns and King of kings and Lord or lords to reign for a Millennium.
There are no signs of the rapture. It is imminent. In fact, it has been imminent for these past 2000 years. According to I Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul expected Jesus to return in his life time, and Christians have expected His imminent return ever since.
The third phase of Christ’s Resurrection is His coming in glory to this earth.
At that coming, Jesus feet will touch earth on the Mount of Olives, according to Zechariah 14:4. He will be returning in power and great glory to begin His Millennial reign on earth, described in Revelation 19-20.
The Order of the Olivet Discourse, as found in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21
Now go to the three Gospel accounts of the Olivet Discourse. Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. Note the ways these chapters are organized.
In Mathew 24, Jesus describes this present age in verses 4-14. He describes His coming in glory in 24:15-35. Then He concludes with the warning of His imminent Rapture for His own in 24:36-51.
The same order is found in Mark 13. The present Church age in 13:5-13, His coming in glory in 13:14-31 and the imminent rapture of saints in 13:32-37
Finally, the same order is found in Luke 21. This present age starts with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army in 70AD. Luke 21:6-24. This present age is summarized in Luke 21:24 as involving Israel being trodden down of the gentiles until the time of the gentiles be fulfilled.
Then in 21:25-33 we read of Christ’s coming in glory to reign. Note in verse 31 that it is announced that Christ’s Kingdom is about to begin. Verse 32 says that those living at that time will not pass away until all these things be fulfilled. Finally in 21:34-36 we are warned again of the rapture, which is the next event on Christ prophetic agenda.
Let it be clear. When Jesus returns to reign, no one will miss it. You won’t have to wonder, is this the return of Christ prophesied in the Bible? It will be unmistakable. The doctrine of Christ’s second coming is a terrifying event for the lost; but it is the blessed hope of the Christian. Read of its terror in Revelation 6:1`2-17.
The Church, A Called Out People for His Name
In Acts 15 the early church was having a special called council meeting to take care of some problems. James, the leader of the Jerusalem church is speaking by inspiration of God and in 15:13-18 lays out God’s plan for the church age. But before we look at that plan, understand that God originally called the Jews out from the rest of the world to be His special people and to bless the world. They failed. So God established the Church, composed of Jewish and Gentile saints in Christ to bless the world.
He begins by referring to Simeon, the elderly man spoken of in Luke 2:25-35, who first referred to how God was going to bless the Gentiles. In Acts 15:14 James makes a crucial statement regarding God’s purpose. In this age God is calling out a new, distinct people from the Gentiles and from the Jews to glorify His name. This new people is no less than the Church.
When the Church is completed, James says in Acts 15:16-17, then He will return His attention to the Jews and bless them. In other words, after the last sinner, Jew or gentile in this Church Age has come to Christ and His Church is complete, then Christ is going to turn His attention to the Jews during the Tribulation and they will be saved, as Romans 11:25-33 states.
Jesus plain promise of His return
Finally, turn to Jesus plain promise in John 14:1-3 that He has gone to prepare a place for us, and He has promised to return for us that where He is, there we may be also. That is prophesy stripped down to the bare bones. Though He has given us much more information, and I am glad to share what I understand; yet in the final analysis, John 14:1-3 is good enough for me. If I knew nothing else about prophesy, I would be satisfied just to know that I will be with Jesus throughout eternity.
Where do you stand with Christ? That’s the only question you need to deal with. Will you be caught up with the saints to meet the Lord in the air or will you be left behind to face the wrath of Christ as described in Revelation 6:12-17 and in Revelation 20:12-15? I urge you not to postpone this matter another hour. Settle it now and forever by trusting Christ as your Saviour and submitting to Him as your Lord.
In this natural world, intelligence and a relatively high IQ are essential when it comes to learning, especially difficult facts and concepts. When Jesus taught, He spoke simply and plainly to the poor and mostly uneducated crowds, including His own disciples.
Luke10:21 tells us Jesus rejoiced that Scriptural truth is hidden to proud, unrepentant people; but grasped by simple, humble, unsophisticated people who hunger to know and please God. His truth goes right over the heads and hearts of those who reject Christ, no matter how intelligent they are.
I’m so glad that when God chose the writers of the Bible, that He did not choose many of the so-called intelligent people to write it. They would, no doubt, have utterly confused me with their intellectualism.
Thank God, that we can understand the Bible literally. Certainly, there are figures of speech which are to be understood figuratively. For example, no one has a problem with Jesus being described figuratively as the door to salvation or a grape vine, to which we are joined as branches. We do not believe that Jesus is a wooden door or a literal grape vine. Those are obvious figures of speech.
But when it comes to prophecy, some intellectuals are convinced that Jesus used figurative speech to explain what lies ahead. If that’s the case, it’s beyond me how the common, uneducated people understood what He was saying. It’s true that the Apostle John, by inspiration of God, described coming events in The Revelation as seals on the title deed to the earth being broken and opened. He describes judgment being poured out of bowls on to the earth and he also describes coming events as trumpets sounding. Though seals, bowls and trumpets are figurative symbols, the contents of those judgments are certainly literal.
In spite of some figurative language, most prophetic writings can be interpreted as literal events yet to occur. Jesus said, in Matthew 13:11 that it is God’s desire that we understand prophesied events. Verse 15 of that chapter explains that the lack of understanding on the part of many is not a mental problem, but a heart problem; a heart that has been hardened by sin.
In John 7:17 we learn that those with a desire to love God and do His will have no problem understanding Biblical truth; whereas, those who are rebellious towards God, are blinded to truth by their rebellion.
The question we must face is, are we to interpret prophetic truth concerning the second coming of Christ, as figurative, or literal? That’s not a difficult question to answer. Just look at all the Old Testament prophecies concerning the first coming of Christ to this earth to die for our sins. All of them were fulfilled literally.
EXAMPLES OF O.T. PROPHECIES OF CHRIST’S FIRST COMING and their literal fulfillment in the N.T.
Jesus is referred to as the Promised Seed of the woman Genesis 3:15 He is ultimately victorious over Satan. Revelation 20:1-3, 10.
Jesus is the promised Seed of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Genesis 12, See Galatians 3:16
Jesus is from the line of Judah Genesis 49:10 See Revelation 4:5
Balaam’s prophecy in Numbers 24:17 refers to Jesus as a star out of Jacob and reigning with His scepter. Revelation 22:16
From David’s family II Samuel 7:12-13 Psalm 89:34-37 Luke 2:4
Born of virgin. Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:18-23 Luke 1:26-37
Born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 Luke 2:1-7
Came out of Egypt. Hosea 11:11 Matthew 2:16-21
Announced by an Elijah-type herald. John the Baptist Malachi.3:1 Matthew 3:1-5
Bethlehem‘s babies massacred Jeremiah 31:15 Matthew 2:16
His ministry would include Gentiles. Isaiah 42:1-4 Matthew 15:21-28
His ministry included healing Isaiah 53:4 Luke 9:6
Teaching with parables. Isaiah 6:9-10 Psalm78:2 Matthew 13
Rejected of men Isaiah 53 Psalm 118:22 John 1:11
Triumphal entry Zechariah 9:9 Psalm 118:26 Luke 19
Betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver. Psalm 41:9 Matthew 27:9
Opened not His mouth when accused. Isaiah 53:7 John 19:9
Given vinegar and gall to drink Psalm 69:21 Matthew 27:48
Parted garments, cast lots for His robe. Psalm 22:18 Matthew 27:35
Description of His crucifixion and dying words. Psalm 22
Not a bone broken. Psalm 34:20 Numbers 9:1 John 19:33
His side pierced. Zechariah 12:10 Psalm 22:16 John 19:34
Buried in a rich man’s tomb Isaiah 53:9 John 19:38-41
Raised in 3 days. Psalm 16:10-11 Jonah 1:17 Matthew 12:39-40
He would ascend into Heaven. Psalm 68:18 Acts 1
He would sit at the right hand of God. Psalm 110:1 Hebrews 1:3
All of these Old Testament prophesies were fulfilled to the letter when Jesus came the first time to die for our sins. Why should we not expect the prophesies of His second coming to be fulfilled as literally as they were at His first coming?
O.T. PROPHECIES OF CHRIST’S SECOND COMING
Jesus, from Tribe of Judah, to reign. Genesis 49:10 Isaiah 9:6-9
The Millennium will be a reign of peace. Psalm 2:6,10 Psalm 46, 72:1-8
A description of the Millennium Isaiah 11, 35, Micah 4:1-8 Revelation 20 is all that this sin-sick world longs for.
The salvation of the Jews Zechariah 12,13
Geological changes when Jesus arrives on the Mount of Olives
Holiness the hallmark of His reign. Zechariah 14
BE CAUTIOUS HOW YOU HANDLE PROPHETIC TRUTH
To deny these facts of His second coming is as sinful as to deny the facts of His first coming.
Note what Jesus said about His return. Luke 12:35-40, 17:20-37, 19:11-19
John 14:1-3 To reject what Jesus said concerning His return is to deny His virtue and credibility.
Let us join John in praying for His coming. Revelation 22:20
Join the Apostle Paul in waiting for His coming. I Corinthians 1:4-8
Look for His coming. Titus 2:11-14, Hebrews 9:27-28
Hope for His coming in our lifetime. I Corinthians 15:19-26, 50-58,
I Thessalonians 4:13-18, Titus 2:13
Let that blessed hope motivate us to live a pure life. I John 3:1-3
Love His coming. II Timothy 4:8
Be warned of the curse in I Corinthians 16:22 “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha (Cursed when I come.)
At the Last Supper, Judas left the company of Jesus and His disciples to betray Christ for thirty pieces of silver; “It was night”, John 13:30 records. As with Judas, so is the darkness of night and despair for everyone who rejects Christ. In fact, Judas was in such despair that he went out and hung himself, as Acts 1:16-19 so graphically portrays.
It would still be night for us sinners, if Jesus had not risen from the dead on the third day, Thank God for the prophetic truth of Psalm 30:5. “Weeping may endure for a night; but joy cometh in the morning.” If Jesus had not risen from the dead, as prophesied, His death would simply be a painful, depressing memory and we would still be benighted, lost in our sins, doomed to eternal separation from God in hell.
But thank God that very early in the morning as it began to dawn the first day of the week, Jesus arose from the dead in His glorified body, conquering death and the grave.
Jesus and Women
He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, we read in the John 20 account. Did you get that? Jesus appeared first to a woman. She had the privilege of sharing the good news with Peter and John. That should settle the issue of Jesus and women forever. Wherever Christianity goes, women are lifted to equality with men. Though men are to lead their families and lead churches, women can enjoy fellowship with Christ and be used to serve Christ as equals with men. When faithful in their proper roles as wives, mothers and teachers of women and children, they have tremendous influence in lives. I can honestly say that single women had perhaps more influence on me while growing up than any man.
What did Peter and John see in the empty tomb?
When Mary shared with Peter and John the good news of Jesus’ resurrection, they immediately took off running to the tomb to see for themselves. John, the younger disciples, got to the tomb first and looked in; but did not go in. Note what he saw. He observed the grave clothes lying undisturbed.
Peter, huffing and puffing, soon reached the tomb and without hesitation went into the tomb and he too took note of the grave clothes lying undisturbed and the linen cloth that had been laid across Jesus face, folded and lying neatly near the place where His head had lain. Jesus glorified body had passed through the spice soaked linen wrappings leaving them undisturbed as a butterfly leaves its cocoon. When they saw the linen wrappings and the empty tomb, they were convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead as He had repeatedly told them while He was with them. The disciples then left the tomb.
Mary meets her beloved Saviour and Friend
Mary Magdalene stayed there weeping. As she wept, she also stooped and looked into the tomb. There she saw two angels clothed in white sitting; one at the head of the slab where Jesus had lain and the other at the foot. Then they asked Mary why she was weeping. She answered, “Because they have taken away my Lord and I know not where they have laid Him.”
As she spoke, she sensed someone behind her. She turned and saw a man through her tears. Thinking he was the gardener, she asked if if she knew where the body had been taken. She continued, “Tell me and I will take him away.” I’m not sure how she planned to do that and I don’t think she knew either.
The stranger then spoke her name, “Mary!” as only Jesus could have spoken it. Immediately she recognized His voice and His glorified face, She answered Him, “Rabboni, which interpreted was “Master!” She now recognized her Lord and Saviour, Jesus.
As she reached out to Him, Jesus spoke to her, “Touch Me not. For I am not ascended yet to my Father. But go to My brethren and say unto them, I ascend to My Father and your Father and to My God and your God.” Jesus, God in glorified human flesh, was now teaching us of our new relationship with God. Through Christ; God, Creator of Heaven and earth, is now our personal God and our personal Heavenly Father. Through our relationship with Christ, we can approach Him intimately as our own personal Heavenly Father.
Mary Magdalene shares the Good News!
The conversation was now over and so Mary immediately went to the disciples and shared her meeting with Jesus. Isn’t that interesting that Mary Magdalene was given the privilege of being the first to see and speak to the risen Lord. She was given the privilege of sharing the good news with the disciples.
Don’t think for one moment, what sinful, perverted minds have conceived; that Mary Magdalene and Jesus had an intimate sexual relationship. Rather, this relationship is one that every believer, male and female, can enjoy with Jesus, a personal vital living relationship with Jesus, our God, our Saviour, Lord and Friend; the personal relationship that we will enjoy with Jesus and with one another throughout eternity.
The Disciples meet the risen Jesus
The first Sunday evening, the disciples gathered in a room, perhaps the Upper Room where they had spent their last evening with Jesus before His Kangaroo trial and execution. Thomas, one of the Disciples, was not there. Evidently he was too depressed to be with them. The doors were shut, probably locked in fear of the Jews who had just crucified their Master. Possibly they feared that they might be next.
As they sat together, suddenly the glorified Jesus stood in the room with them, the doors being shut. In His glorified body, He had passed through the walls right into the room and stood before them. He spoke peace to them to quiet their fears. He commissioned them to go forth with the Good News. Then He breathed on them and announced, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” I believe that right there each of the disciples received the Holy Ghost.
Fifty days later at Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down on them and with all those who had gathered with them and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and were united into the Body of Christ and empowered to serve Him. Thus began Christ’s Church.
Doubting Thomas meets Jesus
The following Sunday, after Jesus had met with the ten Disciples. (Judas had hung himself and Thomas had not been there at the first meeting.) He had announced to them that “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into the wound in His side, I will not believe.!”
This time, the Disciples had convinced Thomas to join them. Once again Jesus appeared in the room. He looked at Thomas, knowing his heart just as He knows each of us, and He said to Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger and behold my hands, and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.
Thomas did not have to accept Jesus’ invitation to touch Him physically. Immediately He recognized Jesus and confessed. I think he fell on his knees before Jesus as He confessed, “My Lord and my God!” It was a powerful, hushed moment in the life of Thomas and, no doubt, in the lives of all in the room. From that moment on, Thomas was a changed man and after Pentecost he was a Spirit filled Apostle, along with the rest of them.
How about you?
Where do you stand before the resurrected Christ? Are you still in spiritual darkness? Will you this moment confess Christ as your Saviour, as your Lord and as your God? When you do your night will be over instantly. Your eternal day will have begun.
I Thessalonians 5:5 speaks to us as Christians, as children of the day. “You are all the children of light and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” And then Paul goes on in the rest of the chapter and in all of his Epistles to teach us how to live as Christians.
Come to Christ as a sinner. Trust in Him who died on the cross for your sins and rose again to give you eternal life. Trust Him now and the light will go on in your life. Then spend the rest of your life sharing that Light with all those around you who walk in darkness.
As I approach my 78th birthday April 26, 2011, I rejoice in the supernatural strength God gives me to keep on ministering full time. I don’t know how much longer it will continue; but I thank God for the supernatural strength He gives me in my weakness. It’s a Scriptural truth I learned back in 1950 as a sophomore in the Christian high school, associated with Prairie Bible Institute situated in the frigid prairies of Alberta, Canada.
As I listened to the preaching of Founder and President of P.B.I., L.E. Maxwell, I began to understand the truth of the crucified life as taught in Galatians 2:20, Colossians 3:1-15, Romans 6 and 8, I Corinthians 2:1-5, II Corinthians 12:7-10, Isaiah 30:15 and 40:28-31 and illustrated in the story of King Jehoshaphats’s victory in battle in II Chronicles 20, These, as well as other Scriptures, tie together and illustrate the truth of the crucified or exchanged life of God’s power in our human weakness.
The Christian life is all about our identification with Christ as our Saviour, as our strength and as our life.
CONSIDER OUR JUSTIFICATION
The foundation of the Christian life lies in the doctrine of the vicarious blood atonement of Christ. That is, Jesus shed His blood and died in our place to pay the full penalty for all our sins, past, present and future. Because He died and rose again the third day, we are saved from our sins and justified and declared perfect in God’s sight through faith in that amazing sacrifice. That basic truth is taught in Romans 3 and 4., II Corinthians 5:21 and in Galatians, as well as many other passages of the Bible.
Salvation involves an understanding and acceptance of several related truths.
HOW PERFECT MUST WE BE?
First, we must understand that God requires us to be as perfect as He is to enter Heaven. Jesus taught this in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:48. One sin, one moral imperfection is enough to curse us and send us to hell for eternity. An understanding of that truth ought to be enough to make us throw up our hands in despair and show us our hopeless, helpless condition before God. But it doesn’t. The average sinner goes through life smugly thinking he has a pretty good chance of going to Heaven because he is not as evil as some people he knows. He fails to understand that God demands sinless perfection; a demand that none of us can achieve.
Secondly, we must agree with God’s Word that we are all totally hopeless and helpless to lift a finger to save ourselves. In Ephesians 2:11-12 Paul reminds the Ephesian Christians that before they received Christ as Saviour, they were hopelessly lost and helpless to do anything about it.
THE BEST NEWS YOU HAVE EVER HEARD!
Thirdly, and this is where the Good News comes in. Once we understand our hopeless condition before God, then we are ready for the Good News, the Gospel of Christ. In the amazing grace of God, He has provided 100 percent of what we need to be saved. He sent His Son Jesus into the world to live a perfectly righteous life before men and then die on the cross as the complete sacrifice for our sins. As He hung on the cross and died, He paid the full penalty for the sins of the whole world. Those who trust Him are eternally saved. Those who reject His gracious Gift are forever lost in their sins. That’s the message of the Gospel throughout the Bible, starting with these well known verses in the Gospel of John 1:11-12, 3:16, 3:36, 5:24, 10:9, 27-30, 14:6-9, 20:30-31
If you do not yet have assurance of your salvation, it would be well for you to read those verses in John and ask God to apply them to your own life. There is more than enough Gospel truth in those verses to save you, if you will take God at His Word.
Note the trade that God makes with us as it is emphasized in II Corinthians 5:14-21. Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us and paid the full penalty for our sins, so that those of us who trust Him are not only forgiven of all our sins, but we have Jesus’ righteousness imputed, or put to our account. No wonder we sing “Amazing Grace.” There is not a more awesome, beautiful and wonderful fact in all the universe! Jesus was far more than a perfect example of how we should live. He died and His blood was shed as the vicarious atonement for our sins. That’s the foundational truth of the Christian life. Have you grasped it and appropriated it by faith? That’s only the beginning.
Jesus died, not only to bear the penalty for our sins, but He rose again the third day to enable us to live His life of holiness. He died and rose again to enable us to have His supernatural strength to do whatever He asks us to do. No, we do not live it perfectly. If we think we have attained perfection, we are deceiving ourselves, I John 1:8-10 warns us; but the rest of that first chapter tells us how we can enjoy constant fellowship with God and victory in our daily living.
Isaiah 40 is one of my favorite chapters in all the Bible. It describes our awesome Almighty God and concludes with a wonderful promise of His strength to those of us who are aware of our own weakness.
God described here, is no less than God the Son who came into this world 2000 years ago as Jesus Himself Read the entire chapter and note His gentleness as a Shepherd caring for His lambs, and His awesome wisdom and power. Read how this wonderful 40th chapter of Isaiah concludes.
“Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, faints not; neither is weary? There is no searching of His understanding.
He gives power to the faint and to them that have no might, He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall.
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
The Bible throughout teaches how God renews our strength by exchanging our weakness for His almighty strength. The key word here is exchange. That word describes how God deals with us in His total relationship with us.
The Christian life is all about an exchange with Christ Jesus; not only as our Saviour,but as our life.
CONSIDER OUR SANCTIFICATION
Christ died, not only to justify us and declare us as righteous as Christ and fit to enter Heaven; He died and rose again to make possible His very life being lived out in us through His indwelling Holy Spirit. This is the doctrine known as Sanctification. It is God’s way of not only declaring us righteous; but also making us righteous. Now, I remind you again, you and I will never be perfect until we arrive in Heaven, in our glorified, sinless body. To think such a thought is to deceive ourselves and call God a liar according to I John 1:8-10.
Man’s vain attempt to arrive at godliness is to work hard and practice until we have perfected our skills at living a righteous life. God’s plan of sanctification is not to try to improve us, but to crucify our old sinful nature and bring about the resurrection of our new nature through the power of the accomplished resurrection of Jesus. This truth is taught primarily in Romans 6. For more on this go to VICTORY on this web site. In Romans 6 and Galatians 2:20 we have the doctrinal foundation for this doctrine of Victory. They are summarized in three verbs.
1. KNOW the truth of what Jesus did for you on the cross. Roman 6:3
2. RECKON on that truth in times of temptation. Romans 6:11-12
3. YIELD yourself to God and allow Him to give you His victory. Romans 6:13-14
The crucifixion of our old sinful nature is not a one time experience. It turns out to be a daily crucifixion of our sinful nature as it pops its ugly head up to tempt us to sin. That’s why in I Corinthians 15:31 Paul declared that “he died daily”.
Understand, we are not talking about our physical bodies. There is nothing sinful about our human body. It is fearfully and wonderfully made. Read Psalm 139 on this. In fact, for the Christian, our bodies are “the temple of the Holy Spirit” according to I Corinthians 6:19-20. Rather, we are referring to our sinful nature that we will have until we arrive glorified in Heaven. Paul, a godly man, describes the struggle of every genuine Christian in Romans 7:12-25.
Actually, the purest saint of God at the moment of his greatest spiritual strength, is in his flesh nature as weak as he was before his conversion to Christ. That’s the meaning of that passage you just read in Romans 7. The failure to understand this truth has caused many pastors and other Christian leaders to crash morally.
So, in summary, we gain victory over sin by switching from reliance in our puny, faltering strength to do right to relying on the omnipotent power of God working in us through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit.
This is the doctrine of sanctification. There are daily disciplines that help us grow in our walk with God, such as reading and meditating on God’s Word daily, spending time in prayer and regularly attending a church where the Bible is faithfully preached and lived.
Reading through HIDDEN TREASURES with your open Bible, and reading the references as they appear in the articles, will help you on this journey towards godliness.
What an awesome God we have! He is worthy of our praise and of our surrender to His Lordship. Remember, being saved and living a holy life is not a matter of our struggles to attain; rather, it is a matter of us exchanging our sin and failure for His righteousness and His supernatural power in our weakness.
Though I may not know you, my prayer for you, my unknown reader, is found in Ephesians 3:14-21. I look forward to meeting you in Heaven and learning what God has accomplished in and through your life.
America was founded as a Christian nation. Although that truth has been removed from the modern history books used in public schools today, the fact remains that the colonists who came over from England and settled along our eastern shores, came not primarily to seek gold and wealth; nor did they come to these shores to gain freedom from religion, but freedom from the control and the oppression of a State Church and for freedom to worship and serve God according to the dictates of their conscience.
These colonists were not merely religious; they were Christians. Listen to testimonies of this down through the last four centuries.
John Winthrop, aboard the Arabela in 1630 reminded the colonists, “We are a company professing ourselves fellow members of Christ.”
Alexis de Tocqueville, a French philosopher who visited America in 1831 wrote, “There is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America.”
President Woodrow Wilson in 1911 wrote, “America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture.”
President Truman to Pope Pius XII in 1947 wrote, “This is a Christian nation.”
Former Governor of Mississippi, Kirk Fordice stated on CNN, “Christianity is the predominate religion in America. We all know that is an incontrovertible fact. The media always refers to the Jewish State of Israel, they talk about the Muslim countries of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq. We all talk about the Hindu nation of India. America is not a nothing country. It’s a Christian country.”
Though the Seeds of Righteousness had been planted in the heart of the Colonists, it wasn’t long before Satan sowed his tares in hearts. The colonists needed to be revived. In answer to prayer, God sent godly preachers to them, men such as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. They preached the Gospel to tens of thousands during the decades of 1730-1740. People got right with God and their hearts were prepared for their struggle against England and for the founding of America, a new nation free from the control of a state church and free to worship and serve God.
Our founders cried to God in prayer for wisdom and unity as they began the process of establishing this Republic. Our founding documents, including our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution are filled with reference to our dependence upon God. Our nation’s hallowed buildings and monuments are filled with Biblical references carved in stone to God’s glory and to our sacred purpose as a nation
Wherever God is at work, you can be sure the devil is also at work attempting to undo what God has done. By the end of the 18th century, Liberalism had begun to take control of seminaries and pulpits across America and was turning America away from the God of their fathers.
WHAT IS LIBERALISM?
Liberalism is basically the denial of the Bible as the inspired, inerrant Word of God. It is the denial of the deity of Jesus. The Liberal may use the adjective divine to describe Jesus as being God-like, but they reject the deity of Christ, the truth that the man Jesus who walked in Palestine 2000 years ago and then died on a cross, is God in a human body. Of course, along with that rejection of the deity of Christ, was the denial of His virgin birth, His miracles and His bodily resurrection.
A liberal is at heart a Unitarian, that is, one who denies the Trinity, He is at heart a Universalists, that is, one who believes “all roads lead to Heaven and eventually all will be in Heaven”. They repudiate the truth that Christ rejecters suffer for eternity in Hell.
A liberal rejects the Biblical truth that God created the universe in six days simply by the power of His Word. He would rather choose to believe his god of chance, evolution, as the answer to the source of life on earth. He would reject the universal, world wide flood in which all but Noah and his family and the animals in the ark were annihilated.
The liberal judges the Bible by his own mind and refuses to submit to the Bible which judges all men as sinners under God’s judgment.
The liberal’s idea of Christianity is subjective, based on his reason and experience. He refuses to base it on the Bible. He interprets it in the light of limited knowledge and teaches it with his unregenerate mind simply as an ethical way of life that we must all strive to live.
I argue that if Jesus is not God, as He claimed to be, then He was a liar and a fraud and therefore not a good teacher. Therefore a liberal is inconsistent in claiming to follow Christ.
HOW DO LIBERALS WORK?
Liberals believe they are building the Kingdom of God by capturing the hearts and minds of the masses through gaining control of our educational system, our legislative system and the media over the past century. They have been very successful at that. The public school system and most colleges and universities teach the religion of liberalism and humanism. The way they have accomplished that has been to legislate the Bible from the classroom or in some cases teach it only from a Liberal perspective. Thus Satan has accomplished his purpose in turning America, a nation founded on Christianity, into a secular nation. With their liberal values, they have turned well over half of America into a liberal, secular, godless nation.
The National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches, founded about sixty years ago, unite liberal minded churches who advance the liberal social gospel throughout our nation and the world.
American Liberalism began in New England in the latter part of the eighteenth century when a handful of Boston area ministers called for a modern rational Christianity. Hence Liberals were often referred to as Modernists up through the first half of the twentieth century.
Their so-called enlightenment ideas gave rise to American Unitarianism and Universalism at the dawn of the 19th century. Perhaps the major fountainhead of Liberalism in America has been Union Theological Seminary in New York City. From there it has spread to most of the major denominational seminaries and State Universities.
Again, I remind you that Liberals basically feel they are building the Kingdom of God on earth. Their goal is to promote their idea of the universal fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. For more on this subject go to my link LIBERALISM.
WHAT IS FUNDAMENTALISM?
At the beginning of the 20th century, in response to the rising tide of liberalism in America, a group of Bible believing ministers and seminary professors from the major Protestant denominations rose up to form the Fundamentalist Movement, a movement who, as the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:17, was set for the defense of The Gospel.
These Fundamentalists, though having their denominational differences, agreed on what became known as the Fundamentals of the Christian Faith. They were godly Christian scholars who agreed that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God, that Jesus is God in human flesh, born of the virgin Mary, and that He suffered and shed His blood on the cross to make a perfect atonement for the sins of all mankind. Fundamentalist believe that Jesus arose in His glorified body back to Heaven and that He is returning one day to judge the world and set up His Kingdom on this earth.
An important doctrine that marked the Fundamentalist Movement was an insistence on Biblical separation from apostasy. This is clearly taught in the Bible in both the Old and New Testament. Some of the major New Testament passages on this subject are found in Romans 16:17-18, II Corinthians 6:14-18, Ephesians 5:11 II John 7-11 Jude 3-4 and Revelation 18:4.
WHAT IS NEO-ORTHODOXY?
The Liberal’s dream of bringing in the Golden age of the Kingdom was dashed with World War I and further crushed with World War II. About that time a new theological movement was exported from Germany, Neo-Orthodoxy.
An Orthodox Christian is one who holds faithfully to the Christian Faith.
The term Neo-Orthodox was actually a contradictory term. How can one come up with a new position concerning the Christian Faith which was once for all given to the Church, as Jude 3 teaches?
No, the term Neo Orthodox was a misnomer for this new theological movement from Europe. A better name would have been Neo-Liberalism. This new theological movement that swept America’s seminaries almost a century ago was another “wolf in sheep’s clothing” about which Jesus had warned. This new movement was rooted in the works of Kant, Schleimacher, and Hegel. The works of Karl Barth, Emil Brunner and Soren Kierkegaard popularized it in America. Reinhold Niebuhr, a promoter of the Socialist Party in America, was also a leader in this new movement.
The Neo Orthodox are masters of double-talk. They say, “Though the Bible is not inerrant, it becomes the Word of God to us whenever it speaks to us.” Though they deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus, they wax eloquent when they preach on the Resurrection at Easter. Though they deny that Jesus shed His blood on the cross to appease the wrath of God for our sins, they preach eloquently on the cross of Christ and His love for us.
If our sins do not incur for us the wrath of God and eternal damnation in hell fire, then why on earth did Jesus go to the cross and endure the worst torture and means of death that anyone could ever devise? Why did He have to show His love to us that way? That doesn’t make sense. In fact, it would be sheer stupidity.
If you were in your front yard watching your home burn to the ground and a fireman should rush into your house, knowing there was no one to save, yet should stay there and burn to death to show his love for you, that would be ridiculous.
If on the other hand you were in the burning house trying to escape and a fireman should come rushing in to help you escape and in the process he should die in the flames, that would be an act of pure love.
Neo Orthodoxy, which denies the truth that all men are sinners and are sentenced to eternal damnation in Hell fire, teaches the irrational doctrine that Jesus endured the torments of death on a cross just to show how much He loves us. Of course, He loved us. He died on the cross and shed His blood because He loved sinners and He paid the penalty of death that we deserved to pay in Hell for eternity. He paid that penalty for a world of sinners by enduring the death that we all deserved to pay. Those who reject Christ as their Saviour will suffer in Hell for their own sins.
Christ’s death on the cross makes no sense unless He died to be the propitiation or to appease God’s wrath that we deserved to suffer for our sins. See my link on PROPITIATION for more on this.
Neo-Orthodoxy denies the orthodox position of inerrancy and verbal, plenary inspiration. By that term we mean that every word in the Bible is completely inspired by God and is accurate, whether it refers to science or history or anything else. Neo-Orthodoxy teaches that as the authors of the Bible wrote, they interpreted the events or the words of Jesus, writing their own flawed interpretations. But in this gobbledygook of error, “the Bible becomes the Word of God whenever it speaks to us”.
Whereas Orthodoxy accepts the Bible as the complete and sufficient revelation of God to us, Neo-Orthodoxy believes that the Bible is merely a medium of revelation. Orthodoxy claims it is God’s Revelation to us.
To the Neo-Orthodox, truth is defined as that which is relevant to his experience or to his personal interpretation, making the discovery of truth a mystical experience, rather than a concrete fact. See my article on EXISTENTIALISM on this web site for more on this confusion that is associated with Neo-Orthodoxy.
Neo-Orthodoxy further teaches that Scripture is not the only form of revelation, but that further revelation can be directly obtained from God as He speaks directly to us apart from the Scriptures. This explains the modern “prophetic ministry” which has become a norm in liberal and Charismatic Churches.
Speaking of the gift of prophecy, let me clarify. In the early church, before the Bible was completed, there were those who had the gift of prophecy. In the early church service one with this gift would stand up and prophecy, declaring truth given to him by God. When the Bible was completed, that gift, along with the gift of tongues, vanished away, according to I Corinthians 13:8-10
If a church has come to the place where she believes that Truth is revealed directly and that it is subject to the interpretation of each individual and that God is still declaring new truth and new revelation, then they have departed from the Truth of God’s Word and according to Revelation 22:18-19 they bring judgment on themselves.
We hold and preach the Bible, the complete Word of God. Let’s not lose it by departing from it to seek new revelations and mysticism, the very foundation of Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy.
WHAT IS NEW EVANGELICALISM?
By the 1940’s a number of Fundamentalists were fighting one another over issues that had nothing to do with the defense of The Faith. There was a spirit of negativism and legalism in some quarters of this movement.
With Neo Orthodoxy sweeping the country, a new generation of Fundamentalists were enthralled by what they were hearing from the Neo Orthodox. They thought, “They sound so much like Christians. Surely they must be our brothers in Christ.”
In 1950 a group of these former Fundamentalist leaders decided in a meeting in Pasadena, California to disassociate themselves from the Fundamentalist movement and become known as the New Evangelicals. Christianity Today, a brand new periodical, began to be published to promote this new movement. I remember as a young pastor receiving some of the first issues. The New Evangelicals reached out to the Neo Orthodox. They invited them to teach in their Colleges and Seminaries. They invited them into their pulpits. They worked with them in ecumenical evangelistic crusades. They channeled the converts into their churches. For all intents and purposes, they eradicated the theological differences between them.
These New Evangelicals were “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.” That is, they were giving up their Biblical stand against false doctrine and ignoring the Biblical doctrine of separation because some Fundamentalists were bringing a bad name on the Fundamentalist movement and because they felt that they were basically one with the Neo Orthodox.
Chances are you have never heard the terms Neo Orthodox or New Evangelical. They are both passé and irrelevant today.
In the meantime, over the past sixty years or so, this compromise has had a tsunami-sized negative influence in Christian churches. The Christian’s compromise with unbelief has resulted in a massive almost sudden change in the church. I’ve watched it happen before my eyes as it grew with blinding speed in the early 60’s and it has broken my heart.
There is theological confusion in churches and Christian colleges and seminaries across our land and they are beginning to accept the old fashioned unbelief of the liberals. If I were a parent of college students today, I would be very cautious of some “Christian” colleges. I’ve observed graduates of these schools come out with a disdain for the Biblical doctrines and values and with an acceptance of liberal values.
Modern churches are more concerned about giving people what they want to hear, inoffensive preaching that does not cramp their sinful lifestyle; rather than preaching the truth that often offends. We Fundamentalists are often branded legalists for our stands against sin. For a correct understanding of legalism I challenge you to go to my study of Galatians under the category FREEDOM. There you will learn what true legalism is and how the Apostle Paul dealt with it.
As one who loves and appreciates beautiful, inspiring Christian music, I grieve over its loss to the past two generations. Though some modern Christian composers have given us some quality Contemporary Christian music, volumes of beautiful Christian music written and sung prior to the ’60’s has been lost to this current generation. Why discard generations of Scriptural, beautiful hymns of the church to limit yourselves to one style of music?
I’ll agree that some of the Christian songs we teens sang in the ’40’s and ’50’s were silly and insipid; but most of what we sang in church and in our youth meetings had spiritual substance and was sung to music that lifted us to Heaven. I grieve when I think of what modern Christians have never known and its replacement with irritating noise lacking melody, harmony and a solid Biblical message, with it’s relentless, same, boring rock beat. Congregations no longer sing four part harmony in the typical church. I listen to them attempt to sing, groaning in a monotone, looking up at the screen, not knowing where the melody is going.
Churches today are majoring on fleshly worship experiences and minoring on preaching. The average Christian today has little or no appetite for Biblical preaching. But we should not be surprised. Paul warned it would happen. Read II Timothy 4:1-4
All of this has resulted in the weakening of Christians and making them more susceptible to the lure of the world, the flesh and the devil.
I think we have almost come full circle. Christians from evangelical churches are accepting the liberal’s view of missions as simply meeting the social needs of people, with little or no thought to the preaching of the Gospel that saves a sinner from hell.
I am not advocating that Christians should not help meet the material and health and educational needs of the lost in third world countries. I’m simply warning that if that is all we are doing we are helping well fed, well clothed, educated, healthy sinners continue on their way to hell.
My prayer is that God would bring the Church back to the solid preaching of the Word of God and make us aware of the subtlety of Satan. At the same time, may we be loving and kind in our dealing with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
I challenge you to read through Paul’s thirteen Epistles and note how much concern and attention he gives by inspiration of God to warning of the dangers of compromise with unbelief. Read the warnings Jesus gave in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7.
“When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8 I wonder!
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20
Most dilemmas are stressful and difficult. Paul’s, description of his dilemma in Philippians 1:22-26, was not difficult; but joyful. There were two equally intense tugs at his heart. One was to stay alive and finish his ministry to the churches he had founded. The other tug was to be with Christ in Heaven. Paul was caught in this tension between these two equally attractive desires.
Early in our ministries, the tug is stronger to live and fulfill our ministries than it is to die and go to Heaven.
Paul’s desire to depart
As we come to old age, the tug to depart and be with Jesus begins to grow stronger. That was Paul’s desire in Philippians 1:23. The Greek word translated depart could be used to take down a tent and break camp. It could be used of a ship in dry dock sailing out to sea. Ships were not meant to stay in dry dock. They were made to sail in the ocean.
We are born eternal souls, made to live forever with God in Heaven. Our short life on this earth is the dry dock where we prepare to live in the ocean of eternity.
Paul’s desire to be with Jesus
The major consideration that prompted Paul’s desire was to be with Jesus. It wasn’t simply a desire to escape his problems and burdens of this life. Imagine being with Jesus forever! From the moment of death or the rapture, we are forever with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. What a blessed hope!
No waiting place of the dead, no soul sleep, no unscriptural purgatory. Rather, it is to depart and to be with Jesus. That was Stephen’s great desire as he was being stoned to death. He cried out in Acts 7:60, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” Then it says his body fell asleep. That’s the beauty of death for the Christian. It is as simple and as peaceful as falling asleep at night. Paul in I Thessalonians 5:10 wrote about it. Speaking of Jesus who died for us, “that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.”
Job, speaking about death thousands of years earlier, spoke by inspiration of God in Job 19:25, “For I know that my Redeemer liveth and that He shall stand in the latter day upon the earth, and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, though my internal organs be consumed within me.” What a wonderful hope and assurance we Christians have, based on God infallible Word; that we will live again and for eternity in these bodies which will be glorified and perfect throughout eternity.
No wonder Paul desired to die and see Jesus. It’s not that he was suicidal, nor should we be. Rather we should live our lives totally devoted to His glory and then rest in the truth that when we die we are forever with Him.
Paul’s equal desire to remain alive on this earth
That was his concern in Philippians 1:24-25. This is the thinking of every godly person. As Paul, our equal desire is to remain alive on earth for as long as Christ needs us to serve Him and His Church. Both desires were utterly selfless. It was impossible for him to make the choice, as it is with each of us.
On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the desire to serve Christ and His Church and 1 being the desire for material things and a desire to fulfill a career, to earn money, to gain prestige, power and fame; it was an easy no-brainer #10 choice for Paul. He would choose the desire to serve Christ and His Church any day over the paltry rewards of this world.
It wasn’t that Paul favored serving Christ and at the same time living for material success. His desire was Christ alone. Nothing else mattered. However, he left the choice of going to Heaven or remaining on earth to further the cause of Christ with God. It’s a choice that servants of Christ must leave with Him.
His impression from God
Though he left the choice with God, He was impressed in his spirit that God was going to leave him on this earth for a little while longer. That impression turned out to be accurate. He was left on this earth for about two more years to further the cause of Christ and to further their spiritual progress and increase their joy, it tells us in Philippians 1:26.
It’s impossible for us to make such a weighty decision. Thank God, He does not leave it for us to make. He decides when our work is finished and when it’s time to call us Home to Heaven. Christian friend, we have the best of both worlds. Living for Christ is the best thing in life. Nothing compares to it for joy and satisfaction. I can testify to that whole-heartedly. However, spending eternity with Christ is beyond our wildest dreams, as Paul said in I Corinthians 2:9.
May God help you to make the right decision in life by trusting Christ as your Saviour and surrendering to Him as Lord of your life. It’s the only right decision. It’s the best decision. Anything less than that is sheer stupidity and yes, wicked for a Christian. Read Romans 12:1-2 and keep reading it and meditating on it until you’ve made the right decision about your life.