Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Persecution of Christians

Jesus in His Olivet Discourse is teaching His disciples future events leading up to His return to reign on this earth for a  Millennium.  Luke 21:27-28.   But before He returns to this earth certain things must take place in this Church Age: religious deception  21:8 and all sorts of natural disasters and wars 21:9-11

 

But before these things come to pass, in verses 12-19 Jesus warns His  disciples, as well as Christians in general, that we  will experience severe persecution, even to martyrdom.  Martyrdom of Christians has continued for 2000 years and there is more today worldwide  than at any time in history.

 

This was difficult for His disciples to grasp. In fact, it was shocking!  Their hearts were set on the Golden Age and they looked forward to being leaders in the Kingdom. See Luke 9:46  and Matthew 20:20-28.

 

Yet they should not have been surprised.  Jesus had warned of persecution early in His ministry in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:10-12.

 

The persecution of Christians would come from two sources, Jesus warned.  It would come from the Jewish unbelievers as Christians were brought before the Synagogues  and it would also come from Gentile rulers.

 

That’s exactly what happened to the Apostles, as recorded in Acts.  First it came from the Jews, as the new Christians were brought before the Synagogues and beaten. Actually, Stephen an early deacon was the first Christian martyr.  His Christ-glorifying death got through to the Christ-hating Saul of Tarsus. Saul soon was saved and became the flaming evangelist and missionary, whose name as an Apostle of Christ was changed to  Paul. 

 

Have you ever thought about this?  If Christianity is but a myth for ignorant, misguided people,  why all the hatred towards Christians?  If it is nothing but a myth, like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, why do people get so worked up about Christianity?   The reason they hate Christianity is because they know it is true and they hate the God who sees them as rebellious sinners  facing hell and they hate those of us who love Him and share the Gospel with them.

 

If God could reach into the heart of Christ-hating Saul of Tarsus who frothed at the mouth with hatred for Christ,  he is well able to reach those who hate Him in this age. Christians, let’s get the Gospel to those enemies of God.  They can become the greatest of missionaries and evangelists when God get through with them.

 

 

One more thing

 

 

In Luke 21:20-36 is Jesus only speaking of the Roman invasion of Jerusalem in 70 AD,  or is He also referring to the Tribulation yet to come?

 

Post-Millennialists answer that it speaks only of the Roman invasion of 70 AD.

 

Pre-Millennialists believe it speaks of the Roman invasion of 70 AD as a foretaste of the persecution that is yet to come during the Great Tribulation

 

Let me show you why the events of 70 AD did not usher in Christ’s Kingdom.

 

1. The Jews were not converted to Christ as a nation in 70 AD nor did it usher in Christ’s Kingdom.  Read Ezekiel 36-39 and Zechariah 12-14 and see if those events have been literally fulfilled.  Of course, they have not been fulfilled yet, but they will be when Christ returns to reign.

 

2. Two thousand years later, the Jews are still being trodden down by the gentiles as Jesus prophesied in Luke 21:27.  That mistreatment of Jews by non Jews will continue until Christ returns to set things right. It’s our responsibility as Christians to befriend the Jews and give them the Gospel.

 

3. The Jews as a nation do not yet recognize Jesus as their Messiah.  They will when Jesus returns to reign.  Read those Ezekiel and Zechariah passages again.

 

4. The great sign in the heavens spoken of in Luke 21:27 have not yet occurred.  They will during the Tribulation just before Christ returns in His glory to reign over the whole world.

 

5. Although the Gospel has been preached around the world these past 2000 years, it has not yet reached everyone on earth.  That will take place during the Tribulations when the 144,000 Jews (12,000 from each of the 12 tribes) peach the Gospel of the Kingdom and an angel joins in preaching the Gospel to the whole world. See Matthew 24:14.  Don’t let the cults confuse you on this as some of them claim to be the 144,000.

 

6. Before God’s wrath is poured out on this earth during the Tribulation, Christians must be removed from this world.  That will take place in the Rapture of the Church, taught in  I Corinthians 15:50-58  and I Thessalonians 4:13-18.  God promises that Christians will never experience the wrath of God which will be poured out on the world in those last years before Christ comes in His Kingdom. Read carefully I Thessalonians 5:1-11 for assurance that you as a Christian will never experience God’s wrath when it is poured out on this earth.

 

 

Did the persecution Christ prophesied in Luke 21 come?

 

The answer is yes. It began with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD.  Not only that, but through the past 2000 years we have seen the wars, earthquakes, pestilences and other natural disasters Jesus prophesied.   If Jesus has been right about these things, doesn’t it make sense that all the other details of the Olivet Discourse are going to come to pass on schedule just as Jesus prophesied?

 

 

How shall we as Christians respond to persecution?

 

1. Rejoice, we are blessed.  Matthew 5:1-16

2. If we live godly lives, expect persecution. Philippians 1:29, II Tim. 3:12

 

 

Are we living in the last days?

 

Every generation of Christians finds themselves living in the last days, but for each succeeding generation these warnings become more relevant, pertinent and urgent than for any generation of the past.  Reading I Timothy 4:1-5 I am convinced that we are closer to Christ’s return today than at any time in history.  Are you ready to meet Him?  You will meet Him one day either as His friend or foe.  Woe be to those who meet Him as His foes when He comes to pour out His wrath in that day.

 

 

 

 

 

June 25, 2009 Posted by | Olivet Discourse | Comments Off on Persecution of Christians

Working Out What God Works In

As we attempt to understand Philippians 2:12-13 we come face to face with a great paradox of Scripture.  There are several paradoxes in Scripture; statements that at first, appear to be contradictory;  but on closer study give us the full-orbed truth on a topic.

 

For example there is the paradox of the incarnation of  the Son of God who was born of a virgin  as the baby Jesus. Though He never ceased being God, He lived and ministered on this earth and died on a cross as a man, shedding His blood as a  sacrifice for the sins of the world. 

 

The Bible is another example of a paradox.  Though the work of many men who wrote over a period of centuries, using their own vocabularies; the Bible is as perfect as though God wrote it, for the human authors were inspired of God and protected so that they wrote without error the very words of God.

 

There is the paradox of salvation.  Do we receive it by God’s choice or by our own choice?  It is foolish to argue over this.  Both are correct.  God chose us to salvation from before the foundation of the world, according to Ephesians 1:4.  But it is just as true that we each must choose to receive Christ or reject Him as the sacrifice for our sins.  Repeatedly we are told to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.  Those who reject Him are eternally condemned to Hell.  See your choice in John 3:36,  but understand that without God’s Spirit drawing you to Christ, you can’t even choose to be saved, John 6:44 teaches.   The warning to you is that if the Holy Spirit is drawing you to Christ, don’t delay.  Receive Christ NOW!  II Corinthians 6:1-2

 

We are not saved by faith plus works. We are saved by faith alone; but that salvation results in a changed life of good works.

 

Why are we Bible believers so quick to choose sides and set our heels in the dirt and refuse to budge?  Why are we so closed-minded and bull-headed on one point of doctrine that has two sides?  Why are we so quick to try to put God in our own little theological box and brand anyone who doesn’t see it our way as a false teacher?  How this must grieve the heart of Christ who prayed in John 17 for the unity of  His own.

 

 No wonder we have far too many denominations and factions and unnecessary divisions in Christendom.  Paul shames the Corinthian Church for their sinful divisions over the “Preacheritis”, that is, choosing to follow certain preachers and their teachings and branding those in other camps as false teachers.  

 

Now I’ll be the first to admit that there are fundamental truths upon which all true believers  are called to stand and not compromise an inch.  These are the well known Fundamentals of the Faith.  The following are the two most foundational Fundamentals.

 

1. A true Christian believes the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God and the foundation for everything we believe about God and life.

 

2. A true Christian believes that Jesus is God come down in human flesh.  We believe He was born of a virgin as prophesied.  We believe He lived a sinless life and then willingly died on a cross to shed His blood as the only  atonement for our sins.  We believe He arose from the dead three days later and then ascended back to Heaven exalted and reigning in a glorified body.  We believe He is returning for His own one day.

 

Anyone who denies either or both of these truths cannot be a Christian, for it is the Christ of the Bible that saves.  Any other Christ is one of our own making and brands us as cultic and  under God’s curse, according to Galatians 1.

 

All of this we dealt with in the previous messages on Philippians 2:5-11 as we dealt with Christ’s humiliation and His exaltation.

 

The paradox before us in Philippians 2:12-13 summarizes what is perhaps the greatest paradox in the Bible, the truth that we are saved by God’s grace and not by our works;  and yet at the same time, the truth that genuine faith in Christ always results in a changed life of good works.

 

In other words, the Christian life is working out the faith that God has graciously worked into our hearts through faith in Christ.

 

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Philippians | Comments Off on Working Out What God Works In

Christ’s Exaltation

Earlier in Philippians 2:5-8 we were confronted with Jesus’ steps down from His eternal Godhead in Heaven to being born in a manger as a human baby boy who grew up as a servant. (The Greek word is SLAVE) and offered Himself to pay the penalty for our sins by dying as a common criminal on a cross, the Roman instrument of torture.   In all of this we are made aware of His amazing  humiliation.

 

Now in Philippians 2:9-11 we see just the reverse of His humiliation.  In these verses we see the steps of His exaltation.  First God raised Him from the dead on the third day. Later He ascended back to Heaven where He is now seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding for His own.

 

The way to exaltation

 

We would all rather be exalted than humbled.  Humiliation can be very painful.  Exaltation is much to be preferred.  Jesus not only embodies humility, but He teaches the path to exaltation.  It’s always through humility.

 

Matthew 23:12 “Whosoever shalt exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

 

James 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of  the Lord, and He shall lift you up”  That is, accept  the humbling experiences He brings into your life that He may exalt you in due season.

 

Pride has no place in the Christian’s life.

 

Proverbs 13:10 teaches, “Only by pride comes contention.”  Keep this in mind always.  Whenever there are two who are in contention, one or both of them are guilty of pride.  

 

Nothing is more obnoxious and ugly than a proud Christian.  It is so out of character for a true Christian who has been humbled by his sins and has cast himself on the mercy of God.

 

God provides salvation for us in such a way that we have to approach Him humbly as a sinner in order to be saved.  There is no salvation available to proud, self-righteous people.

 

What is the full message of the Gospel?

 

The full message of salvation begins with Christ’s crucifixion and death for our sins.  It continues with His burial, but it doesn’t stop there. 

 

It includes His resurrection from the dead in His glorified body. If further includes His ascension back to Heaven.  It goes even further. 

 

It includes His position at the right hand of the Father in Heaven  as our  intercessor and advocate. But His exaltation goes even further.

 

It includes His coronation as our Sovereign Lord and King;

 

That’s the full message Paul preached in Acts 13:28-37.

 

According to Acts 7:56, that’s the way Stephen saw Jesus as he was about to be  stoned to death for the Gospel.

 

That’s the way we must see Him.  Not just Jesus hanging on a cross, but ascended and glorified and crowned as our Lord and King.  I Peter  3:22

 

We will experience this resurrection and exaltation also.

 

As we are identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, as taught in Romans 6;  so we will also experience His resurrection and exaltation with Him.  Our ascension will occur at the rapture of the Church and our coronation will take place as we return with Him to reign on this earth with Him.   II Timothy 2:12 says it all.  “If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him.”

 

Philippians 2:9 teaches us that The Father has given Jesus a name that is above every name.

 

That new name is LORD, according to verse 11.   We don’t make Jesus Lord.  God did that.  We simply bow to Him and submit to Him  as Lord.  No Christian has any business confessing Jesus as Saviour and refusing to submit to Him as Lord.  As it is unthinkable and foolish for anyone to reject Him as Saviour; so it is unspeakably evil for any Christian to stiffen his neck before Christ and refuse Him as Lord.

 

Philippians 2:10-11 teaches us that every tongue must ultimately confess Christ as Lord.  No one will escape that.  Doesn’t it make sense to settle this Lordship issue right now and not wait until the Bema Judgment Seat of Christ and have to give a reason to Him as to why you refused Him as Lord?

 

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Philippians | Comments Off on Christ’s Exaltation

A Father’s Responsibility

We live in a world that is filled with increasing evil influences on our families. The world is not growing more righteous. It is becoming increasingly more evil from generation to generation.  Paul warned it would be that way in II Timothy 3:1-7 and 13-17. In the light of that fact he challenged young Pastor Timothy  in II Timothy 4:1-4 to counter Satan’s assault with the faithful preaching of God’s Word so that the Church can be light and salt in a dark corrupt world.

Our kids can become more Christ-like than we were

Regardless of how evil the world is, our young people can grow spiritually stronger and more faithful to God from generation to generation,  Romans 5:20 assures us that “where sin abounds, grace can much more abound”.

Though Satan tries to blur the distinction between Christians and non-Christians, the contrast between Christians and non Christians must  become more pronounced.

We as Christian parents have the responsibility of protecting our children from evil influences, including the influences of carnal Christianity and false doctrine.  We can best do that by spending time with them, listening to them, knowing them, loving them, teaching and guiding them in God’s Word. This includes avoiding all hypocrisy and praying for them and modeling before them  a pure and joyful, life fully surrendered to Christ.

When our responsibility ceases

Once they leave home, whether single or married, they cease to be our responsibility as parents. The direction they go and the decisions they make are beyond our responsibility and control, though not beyond our prayers.  We never cease loving them and praying for them;

“We will serve the Lord.”

 

Just before Joshua died at the age of 110, he made this declaration in Joshua 24:14-15 concerning his family.

“Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your father’s served on the other side of the flood and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your father’s served that were on the other side of the flood,  or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

The generation that outlived Joshua stayed true to God, we learn in Joshua 24:31.  The generations that followed are described in the book of Judges as spiritual failures, for the most part.  The reason for their failure is summed up in Judges 21:25.  “Everyone did that which was right in their own eyes.”

Ruth and Boaz were the exception. They were a godly couple who lived in the time of the Judges.  Their beautiful story has its setting in this period of moral declension, we learn in Ruth 1:1.  Read their love story in The Book of Ruth and  on this link

https://hiddentreasures.wordpress.com/category/love/

Generational Promises

 

Hidden within the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 is a promise in verses 5 & 6 to godly fathers and mothers that if we will love and serve the Lord, we can count on God’s blessing on our families to the third and fourth generations.

My grandfather Simon Bicker was a godly pastor who loved and served the Lord.  As part of his second generation, I can testify that God kept His promise to him.  His son, Clifford, my father, was a faithful missionary to Peru, South America where he gave his life. As Clifford’s son, I was blessed with living in a strong Christian atmosphere where I heard the Gospel and responded by being saved and surrendering my life to Christ. Each of my three children are faithfully living for the Lord.  God has kept His Word to my grandfather.

The line of blessing can be broken

 

In any generation  when an individual turns in rebellion  from God, the line of blessing is broken.  Learn this truth well, Christian reader.  The life you choose to live is not just your business.  The choices you make affects not only you; but your posterity for generations to come.   When one turns away from God, he not only loses the blessing on his own life, but He cuts off God’s blessing to his future children, grandchildren and generations to come.  The blessing of God on our posterity is dependent on our relationship with God, as far as we are concerned.

However, as far as God’s grace is concerned, He can reach down into the depths of an ungodly family and take a trophy of grace and use him or her mightily for His glory,  I’ve seen Him do that repeatedly throughout my ministry.

To broken-hearted parents

 

To parents whose young people have rejected Christ and turned to a life of rebellion towards God,  I’m not going to even consider pointing a finger of blame.  My heart aches for you. Nothing in life can be more agonizing; not even the death of a child.

I want you to understand that God fully understands the pain you are experiencing.   He experienced Himself as He saw His beloved chosen people, Israel, upon whom He had poured His blessings, turn in an adulteress affair to their false gods. Read of that pain in Ezekiel 16  and Malachi 1:6.

We also see the pain in God’s heart as revealed in the story Jesus told in Luke 15:11-32  of the loving father with his two prodigal sons:  the younger son, a profligate, who turned to harlots and the wild life  and the older son , a cold-hearted, self-righteous legalist.  Thank God, the younger son repented and returned to his father. Sadly, we learn of no change in the heart of the older son.

SIX CHALLENGES FOR EVERY FATHER

 

1. Accept your responsibility as head of your household.

 

Fathers; not government, are to provide for their families.  You are to provide for them materially, according to I Timothy 5:8. To fail is a shame and disgrace.  How you divide the work load is between you and your wife; but ultimately the responsibility rests on the husband and father.

You are to provide for their spiritual wellbeing. That’s God’s command in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.   Adam was responsible for his wife Eve, but he failed. He ended up blaming her when God confronted him with his disobedience. How spineless of our first father! 

Abraham’s sin of deception left scars not only on his own life, but also on his son Isaac and on his grandson’s Esau and Jacob.  They learned deception from their grandfather.

Eli, the priest of Israel, failed as a father to restrain his sons from vile sins which they practiced in the Sanctuary with the women.  As a result I Samuel 3:12-13 records how God removed Eli from his responsibilities as a priest.

David, a man after God’s own heart and a great king of Israel, became guilty of the sin of adultery and murder.  His heart was broken and he truly repented of his sins and God forgave him, as recorded in Psalm 51. Though God forgave him, he suffered terrible tragedy in his family as his sons Amnon, Absalom, and Solomon, and his  daughter Tamar ruined their lives with sin.  Their tragic stories are recorded in II Samuel and I Kings.

Because our examples are so vitally important in leadership positions, Paul wrote in I Timothy that those in church leadership positions, such as pastors, elders and deacons, are to live moral, godly lives above reproach, or they disqualify themselves from serving in those offices.

A Father with the help of his wife should set the spiritual tone of his home, making sure that his children are receiving the proper spiritual training in his home, in his church  and in the education of his children. 

Together they set the standards for dress, music, television entertainment, the use of the telephone, and internet from the earliest years of a child.  The parents; not the child, determines what he will eat and how he will dress, what he will watch on television and his use of the internet.   If a father is firm, but reasonable and loving and sets the right example and teaches God’s Word to his children, their values will be set by the time they are teenagers and there will be no  power struggles or arguments.

A husband and father is also ultimately  responsible for the financial condition of his family, including the management of his credit.  In my case, I have learned that my wife is skilled in this area, so she handles the check book and credit cards.  I can fully trust her to mange wisely and keep us out of debt.  I am, however, ultimately responsible.  The buck stops with me.  

Remember, a husband is a hus- band  or a house band.  He ultimately holds the home together with his unconditional, self-sacrificing love for his wife and children.

2. Refuse to allow the evil world system to influence your children.

 

If you start while your child is an infant you, with the help of your supportive, loving wife, can control the influences that bombard your children from the television and other media.

You can help your child develop a taste for healthful food and not junk food.

You can determine the hours of sleep and  can forbid his use of a cell phone through the night when he or she ought to be sleeping.

It’s up to you to see that home work is completed.

It’s up to you to see that he keeps his bedroom clean and cleans up after himself wherever he is and whatever he is doing.

If you insist on quiet, prompt obedience in the home, that will be his pattern in public.  The child who does not behave in the home is not going to behave in public.

You and your wife will determine where he goes to school and whether it is home school or Christian school or public school.  My wife and I removed our two boys from public school when they were in 3rd and 6th grades.  We removed them from public school primarily because of the poor academics as well as the ungodly influences.  From that time forward our two sons and daughter completed their education in Christian schools, including a Christian college.

Galatians 1:4 teaches us that salvation is not simply salvation from sin and hell.  It also saves us from the influences of this present evil world system.

3.  Its up to you, father, to command the obedience of your children.

 

You don’t have to do it cold-heartedly like a drill sergeant.  

Genesis 18:17-19 tells us that God rewarded Abraham because he commanded his children to follow his example.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, Joshua determined for himself and his family  that they would serve the Lord.

The question facing many parents is “How do we enforce obedience?”

Hebrews 12:5-11 teaches that God enforces obedience through chastening. “Whom He loves, He chastens!”  For more on this  go to my link FAMILY  and then go to DISCIPLINE.  There I go into detail on how to  discipline effectively.

Let me summarize.  Fathers must control their children with love, tenderness, firmness and consistency.  A child must never have to wonder if he can get away with disobedience.  You must convince him that he will be punished for disobedience or disrespect every time without exception. Fortunate is the husband who has the full support of his wife in these matters.  These are the things we dealt with in our conversations BEFORE we were married.  We were both in absolute agreement on these matters; otherwise, we would not have married each other.

4. A father and mother must set the example of a godly, disciplined life. 

 

Youth despise hypocrisy and double-standards in their parentsHow brazenly hypocritical it is to tell your children to do as you say, but not as you do.   The Philippians jailer was so changed when he was converted, as recorded in Acts 16, that his entire family followed him in his conversion and baptism.

5. A father must love his children unconditionally.

That love for our children, as well as for our wife  must be unconditional love.  They should not have to earn nor deserve it.  On the other hand trust must be earned and with that trust, greater responsibility.  That love is best expressed by the way we devote our time in the concerns and interests of our wife and children.   Our children would far rather have our time and attention than the toys we buy them.   The times our children most remember and appreciate in their childhood were the camping trips we took together in the summer when I could devote all my attention to them.

6. Claim the promises of God by faith.

 

When we started out as parents in 1956, my wife and I had only the promises of God. We had no books on child rearing  By simple faith we took God at His Word.  He promised us that if we would train and discipline our children according to His Word, they would not depart from it.  We took His Word by faith and did what we were told.  He kept His promise and our children grew up without ever going through the so-called “terrible twos”  or “teen age rebellion”  They were a constant joy to us then and even now as parents and grandparents.

Philip in John 14:8 asked Jesus to “Show us the Father and we will be satisfied.”   That’s what our children are looking for from us.  They are looking for us to show them what God is like.  If they can’t see Him in us, they probably won’t be interested in seeking Him in the Bible.   “We are Epistles to our children, known and read of them.  II Corinthians 3:2.

Are you sufficient for the task of raising your children as you ought?  Neither am I.  II Corinthians 3:5 comforts and encourages us that  “our sufficiency is of God.”

 

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Fathers | Comments Off on A Father’s Responsibility

Enoch

Genesis 5 records the scroll (the book) of the history of the chosen Seed, beginning with Adam,  through whom Christ would come.

Liberals teach that there were no books and no written records prior to the time of Moses.  They tell us that people passed on oral traditions as they sat around their camp fires.  They tell us that the book of Genesis is simply the product of those oral traditions passed on from generation to generation with all their  flaws, contradictions and inaccuracies.  What a terrible slander against the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God!

Genesis 5:1 states that this scroll is the written record of the genealogy of Adam and his posterity, through his third son, Seth.  You remember that Cain was Adam and Eve’s first son and that Cain murdered his brother, Abel, the second son.  Later Seth was born as the third son to replace Abel.

Genesis 5:4 informs us that Adam and Even had many other sons and daughters; but Genesis 5 focuses only on the line of Seth  and Enoch in that line.

Where did Cain get his wife?

So the answer to the age-old question of “Where did Cain get his wife?” is that these early sons and daughters married their brothers and sisters. Until the time of Moses such marriages were not sinful, forbidden, nor genetically harmful. During the time of Moses, God gave a prohibition in Leviticus 18 against such marriage which we now know as incest.  From that time on, such marriages and sexual relationships have always been sinful, as well as genetically harmful to the children of those unions.

Mankind created in the likeness of God

 

God is totally sinless and holy and totally other from us.  His attributes include His absolute holiness, His infinite wisdom, omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence.   Amazingly, as humans, we are made in His image. Of course, unlike God, we have fallen nature and are under the curse of sin. Our power, knowledge and wisdom are limited, as God’s creatures.

Jesus informed us in John 14:9 that “He that has seen Me has seen the Father.  As Jesus knew Him and referred to Him as Father,  so in John 20:17 He invites those of us who are trusting Christ to recognize Him as our Father also.

Man died because of God’s curse on sin, we learn in Genesis 3.   So we see death all through Genesis 5. until we come to an exception in Genesis 5:18-24.  Would you turn with me to that passage and learn the biography of Enoch?

Enoch’s Biography

 

Enoch was the son of Jared and lived 365 years. Enoch was the father of Methuselah, the oldest man recorded in the Bible.  Methuselah lived to be 969 years old.  Enoch was the great-grand father of Noah.  As I study Genesis 5, it appears to me that the line from Enoch to Noah were all godly men.  All but Noah died before the flood.

The New Testament teaches us more about Enoch.  Hebrews 11:5 teaches us that Enoch pleased God.   Jude 14-15 teaches us further that Enoch was a preacher of righteousness.

What kind of righteousness did Enoch preach?

 

It was the same kind of righteousness that we preach today. It was not a self righteousness, for such righteousness is repulsive to our holy God.  Rather, it was a righteousness that comes through faith in God. Looking again at those two New Testament passages regarding Enoch: Hebrews 11:5  and Jude 14-15 we learn that Enoch, a preacher of righteousness,  had a faith that pleased God.  

Though we are sinful, fallen creatures; we as human beings are made in God’s image.  God loves, He has a sense of humor,  He laughs, He smiles, He cries, He feels wrath and all other emotions we experience; but His are pure and holy and untainted by sin.  Unlike the animals, we humans inherited our emotions from our Father God.  Jesus said in John 14:9 “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” Jesus referred to God as Father  and in John 20:17 after the resurrection, He invited us to recognize Him as our Heavenly Father.

Note also from  Genesis 5:22 that this faith Enoch had resulted in his walk with God while still on this earth.  So we today who have a saving faith in Christ evidence that faith by walking in obedience to God.  James in James 2:14-26 teaches that a genuine faith in Christ results in a life of good works, a life of obedience to God. 

Let me summarize in a definition I have preached for years,  “Salvation is by faith alone; but by a faith that does not remain alone, but results in a changed life of good works.”  That’s the saving faith that both Paul and James are teaching, even though they appear to be preaching contradictory messages. 

Enoch is an illustration of that salvation by faith that works.  By faith He walked with God, backing up the message he preached with his own life.

One day, without dying, he walked right into the presence of God, just as some of us may have the privilege of experiencing if Christ should return for us in our lifetime.

Brief, but comprehensive!

 

That describes Enoch’s life of 365 years.  What more could be added that would be of any significance?  He walked with God.  He preached, warning the lost of the judgment that was soon to fall on the earth.  Many who drowned in the universal flood of Noah’s day, no doubt, had been warned by Enoch to flee from the wrath to come.

What encouragement Enoch should be to us as we like him walk in an evil world awaiting the judgment of God.  May we, as Enoch, walk and  talk with God each day,  May we be men and women of integrity, making sure that our walk matches our talk until the day He catches us up to be with Him.

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Enoch | Comments Off on Enoch

The Course of this Age

As we continue our study of prophecy in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse in Luke 21 we must approach it with one of two preconceived assumptions.  It is either obscure and hidden truth or else it is obviously clear and plain.  One thing for certain is that it is revelation from God.  What is revelation?  It is revealed; not hidden obscure  truth.  That’s the purpose of the book of The Revelation.  It is revealing to us truths about the future.

 

Since what God says about the past is clear and plain and accurate, it is reasonable to expect that what He says about the future is also clear and plain and can be expected to be fulfilled.

 

Jesus is returning to this earth in power and great glory.

 

That is stated in Luke 21:27-28. God-fearing Israelites were certainly aware of Christ’s coming Kingdom.   God made a covenant with David which is recorded n II Samuel 7  and repeated  again in Psalm 89,  This covenant is God’s promise that someone from David’s line would one day reign over the earth forever.  This Kingdom is repeatedly mentioned throughout the Old Testament.  You can read about His Kingdom in Isaiah 9:6-7,  11:1-10, Jeremiah 23:5-6,  Ezekiel  36-39,  Daniel 2:44, and Zechariah 12-14.  

 

Jesus’ Disciples were certainly aware of Christ as the Messiah.  They had walked with Him and sat under His ministry for three years and were convinced He was the Messiah.  Peter, speaking for the rest of them, confessed Jesus as the Son of God.   They had witnessed Jesus’ miracles and listened to Him as He taught the people and confronted the Scribes and Pharisees with their hypocrisy.  They were ready and anxious for Him to establish His Kingdom and they looked forward to helping Him administrate it.

 

They had witnessed His glorious Triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey.  They had to be impressed with the adulation of the huge crowds that greeted Him with palm branches and with their robes thrown down in honor to Him.  They had watched Him cleanse His temple and drive out the money changers and sellers of animals and birds for sacrifice.   They could not help but be aware of the enmity of the priests and Pharisees as Christ exposed their evil hearts.

 

The Disciples were ready and anxious for Christ to establish His Kingdom and give them honor and responsibility in that Kingdom.    That concern prompted their question in Luke 21:7 as to when that Kingdom would be established.

 

The second part of their question concerned the signs that would indicate it was at hand?  So Jesus devotes most of His Discourse to answering the question of signs of His coming Kingdom. 

 

I. DECEPTION  21:8

 

We dealt with the first sign in the previous article.  That sign is the deception of many false prophets and false Messiahs.  That deception began in the first century and has increased over the past two millennia.

 

II. DISASTERS  21:9-11

 

World-wide wars, commotions, pestilence and natural disasters are all evidences of God’s hand on history, as we move closer to the Kingdom when Christ reigns from Jerusalem.   Romans 8:18-23 speaks of the curse on the entire creation brought on as a result of man’s sin.  That curse will not be removed until Jesus comes back to reign.  

 

As long as we have rebellious hearts that reject Christ as Saviour and King,  we can count on a disastrous life. When we receive Christ as Saviour, we immediately have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1

 

When we surrender to Christ as Lord of our lives,  we have the peace of God controlling our hearts, even though we lives in a world that groans under the curse of sin. See Colossians 3:15  and Philippians 4:4-7.  Rebellious Christians can count on unrest and disaster following them throughout their lives.

 

In the midst of disaster throughout this church age, we Christians can take comfort  that all these things are simply evidences of the truth of Christ’s words and assurance  that His Kingdom on earth will one day be a reality.

 

Though we can have His peace ruling in our hearts, we live in a troubled world groaning under the curse of sin.  Disasters, disturbances, pestilences, political unrest, wars, earthquakes, famines, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis have continued to fall upon this sin-cursed, world for these past two millennia. 

 

In each generation Christians have taken comfort that the persecution, wars and disasters are all to be expected and that they are signs of the  return of Christ to reign on this earth.

 

These disasters will intensify during the Tribulation beyond anything we have ever seen or heard.  Thank God, Christians will miss that by being raptured out of this world before the Anti-christ is revealed.

 

In Acts 2:1-13  the miraculous events of Pentecost occurred, including the supernatural gift of Christians to speak and share the Gospel of Christ in foreign languages they had never learned. Many were saved.  Then Peter, quoting Joel 2:28-32 began to speak in Acts 2:14-21 and he described the entire church age, beginning with Pentecost and ending with the Great Tribulation.

 

You may wonder why there was no mention of the Rapture of the Church. The answer to that question is that the Rapture was a secret mystery given to the Apostle Paul to reveal to the Church.  His major teaching on this is found in I Corinthians 15:51-58 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18.

 

In our next message in this series, we will deal with the promised persecution of the Church as Jesus taught it in Luke 21:12-18 and I will show you why we hold to a Pre-Millennial view of prophecy.

June 12, 2009 Posted by | Olivet Discourse | Comments Off on The Course of this Age

The Incarnation

In Philippians 2:5-11 we read one of the most amazing and beautiful statements in the Bible on the incarnation of Christ and His humility shown in His incarnation.  Yes, God the Son, Creator of the Heavens and the earth, without ceasing to be God, left the glories of Heaven to stoop in humility to walk among men as a human being, as a poor slave, (for that’s the meaning of the Greek word translated servant) and be tortured and executed on a Roman cross in order to pay the penalty for the sins of the world.

 

The first man, Adam, whom He had created out of the dust of the earth, had chosen to disobey God and experience spiritual death and later physical death.  In order to redeem fallen humanity,  God had to come down to this earth as a man Jesus, the Second Adam,  and take the death that we deserved. Those who trust Jesus’ sacrifice for their sins are saved and are born into the family of God.  Read the fifth chapter of Romans to better understand this truth.

 

For more details on the crucifixion go to my link JESUS and read a medical doctor’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion.

 

Three days later God the Father raised Him from the dead and He ascended back to Heaven in a glorified body, the same body the witnesses of the Resurrection saw and touched.  As He went up to Heaven in that body, so He is returning in that same body to rule on this earth for a thousand years.  For more information on all of this go to the link Prophecy or Olivet Discourse.

 

The Incarnation, God becoming flesh, is the foundational bed rock truth of the Christian Faith. Believe that the Lord Jesus is God and that He died and rose again to save you from your sins and you will experience salvation and assurance that you are saved. See Romans 10:9-13.  Deny this or confuse it and your “Christianity” evaporates into thin air.

 

Philippians 2:1 begins with Paul’s plea for humility and unity in the church. He uses the Lord Jesus Christ as the perfect model of this humility. Read with me verse 5-8. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

 

Note that this passage begins by stating that Jesus was in the “form” of God.  The Greek word for “form” is “morphee” the word that refers to His essential being.  Jesus has always existed as God and will continue to exist as God for eternity.

 

Note the word “fashion” in verse 8.  The Greek word for “fashion” is “skeema”, It refers to His appearance as people recognized Him.  On earth, God was seen in the person of Jesus as a man.  At the same time, throughout His short life on this earth, He never ceased to be God, although He voluntarily limited the use of His attributes as God.  He claimed to be God repeatedly, as recorded in John 5:18, 10:33, and 14:9.  His enemies were very much aware of that claim and it made them so furious, that they repeatedly tried to kill Him.

 

Note the word “equal” in Philippians 2:6.  The Greek word is isos. It is the same prefix used in the English words isomorphic (having the same form), or isometric (having the same measurements) or isosceles triangle, (a triangle having two equal sides. 

 

Even Jesus’ enemies understood that He claimed to be equal with God and that is what infuriated them and caused them to eventually crucify Him. Of course, God used their fury to carry out His own will.  It was God’s plan for Jesus to be crucified, for only as He died and shed His blood as the full payment for our sins, could we have ever been saved.

 

After Jesus’ Resurrection, He appeared at least twice to His disciples.  Depressed Thomas  had missed His first appearance, telling the other disciples that unless he could put his hand in the wound in Jesus’ side and put his finger in the nail holes in Jesus’ hands He would not believe.

 

John 20 tells the moving story of Jesus’ appearance to Thomas when He returned to His disciples the following week.  As He appeared in the room, He spoke directly to Thomas, inviting him to put his hand in Jesus side and his fingers in Jesus’ hands.  Thomas did not have to do that.  Instead he fell on his face before God and cried out in saving faith and I believe with tears, “My Lord and my God!”  From that day forward, Thomas was a believer and a faithful witness of Christ.

 

If God had died when the Man Jesus died,  God the Father and God the Holy Spirit would have also died,  for the three persons are one God,  If God had died, the universe would have imploded into nothingness, for Colossians 1:15-17 declares that the universe consists or is held together by the power of Christ.   Because Jesus is God, the Man Jesus had to rise from the dead three days after His crucifixion, which He did.

 

This doctrine of the incarnation, God becoming man in the person of Jesus Christ, is the foundational bed rock truth of the Christian Faith, which Peter confessed in Matthew 16:15-19.  Jesus responded to Peter, “Peter, you are (and the Greek says) a small stone. And upon this (and the Greek says) the bed rock of your confession, I will build My Church and all Hell cannot stop its progress.

 

What will you do with Jesus?  Reject Him as God and as the One who died on a cross and rose again to pay for your sins, and you will continue in your lost condition and one day face Christ as your judge. See Revelation 20:11-15.   Or Bow before Him today and receive Him by faith as your Saviour from sin, and He will save you from your sins. Through faith, you will be born again into the Family of God.  Read John 1:12

 

Now, with your Bible, dig into this web site and learn some foundational truths to help you better understand what it means to be a Christian.

June 12, 2009 Posted by | Philippians | Comments Off on The Incarnation

Christ, Our Model of Humility

Although the Philippian Church was a model church in many respects; they, like most churches, had  their minor personality clashes.  Paul in chapter 4 verse 2 warns two factious women who were a threat to the unity and joy in the church,  to try to work out their differences.

 

In chapter 2:1-4 of Philippians,  Paul shows how unity is attained when each of us are humble and unselfish.  Humility is simply  putting the needs and concerns of others before our own. Only then can we experience true unity.

 

Motivation and power to be humble

 

Paul starts out in verses 3-4 of that 2nd chapter by giving us motivation and power to be united.

 

First, he shows us that when things aren’t going our way and we are tempted to feel slighted, we can find our consolation in our relationship with Christ.   We also find comfort in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit as He binds our hearts together in love, regardless of our differences.

 

Paul also challenged the congregation to stay united for his sake as a founding pastor.  That’s not the highest motivation for unity, but it is something to consider.  If you love your pastor and don’t want to break his heart;  do whatever you can to foster unity in your church.  There is nothing that tears the heart out of a pastor than to see his church family torn apart by disunity.  Of course, sometimes churches are torn asunder by self-centered, hireling pastors who have no heart for God nor for their flock.

 

Getting back to the need for humility to protect unity,  Paul uses Christ as the perfect example of humility in Philippians 2:5-8  Look at the humility of Jesus who left the glories of Heaven to come down to this sin-cursed earth to live among us and die on a cross to pay the penalty for our sins.  His humility was expressed in self-sacrifice, self-denial and in His self-giving love.

 

How can we learn the humility of Christ?

 

In Matthew 11:28-30  Christ, the Master Teacher, as well as our Saviour from sin, using the illustration of yoked oxen ploughing a field, invites us to be yoked with Him, as the strong ox. Yoked with Him, we learn His meekness and humility in service and are given the ability to accomplish work beyond our own strength and wisdom.  As long as we walk in harmony with Him, allowing Him to lead us, we find the strength we need to accomplish whatever He asks of us.   It’s only stubborn Christians who insist on going their own way, who find their stiff necks being rubbed raw by the yoke and being burned out in their Christian service.

 

Jesus also gives us another example of humility in service by washing the feet of His disciples at the Last Supper before His crucifixion. The story is told in John 13:13-15.  Some see this story as simply instruction for us to wash one another’s feet in a church service.  I see in the story something far more basic than ceremonial foot washing.   Here Jesus gives us His example of humility by doing whatever He can to meet the needs of others, even to stooping to menial tasks to help others.   If we stop and ask God to show us how to help the needy, He will bring them into our lives and we will have no lack of opportunity to show humility and love to others. 

 

No, we cannot have Jesus deity nor His sinless perfection.  We cannot have His miracle working power, nor can we redeem sinners by dying for them;  but we can seek to have His humility to serve and help others.

 

Christ’s Condescension, 

 

Isaiah 6:1-4  is but one of many Biblical passages that describe the Holiness and awesome loftiness of Christ in Heaven.  When Jesus came down to this earth as a baby to grow up and live among men, it was God in human flesh amazingly and graciously condescending  to live among us, though He was rejected by those He came to save.  What amazing humility!

 

We Christians have a high and holy calling through our relationship with Christ, to share a little of that glory of Christ, though we bear it in earthen vessels. From that high and holy calling mentioned in II Timothy 1:9,  we must condescend (without having an ugly condescending attitude)  to meet the needs of others around us as God opens doors of opportunity to us.

 

What did Jesus give up to come to this earth?

 

Though He did not give up His Deity, He gave up His Heavenly glory. He mentions that in His prayer in John 17:4-5.  Because we are not God, we cannot begin to grasp His Heavenly glory, no more than a worm can grasp the glory of being human.

 

He gave up His independent authority as God.  Coming down to this earth as a man, He lived in subjection to His Heavenly Father with whom He had been absolutely equal in power and authority in Heaven.  Hebrews 5:8 tells us that He actually learned  and experienced  obedience to His Heavenly Father through His sufferings as a man.

 

He limited the exercise of His divine attributes as a man on this earth.  Though He still had omnipotence and omniscience as God, He limited the exercise of those attributes as a man.  For example, in Matthew 24:36 He said that He did not know when He was returning to this earth to reign.  I believe He knows that information now, but He chose not to know it while He walked on this earth.

 

Though He owns the entire universe which He created, when He walked on this earth as a man, He lived in utter poverty without a home to call His own and without money.  All He had materially was that which was loaned or given to Him by others.   Read II Corinthians 8:9 to learn how though rich, He became poor that we through His poverty might become rich spiritually.

 

In His humility, through He recognized His rights and privileges as God Almighty, He did not clutch those rights. He willingly divested Himself of all His rights and came down as a slave.  He did not just do the work of a slave.  He became a slave in His heart, living out the life of a slave to serve others.  He had a servant’s heart, as can we if we follow Him in His humility.

 

He gave up His relationship with His Heavenly Father.  As He hung on the cross bearing the sins of the world, He cried out in despair, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”   Try to grasp this. Jesus became alienated on the cross from the very God with whom He was a part of the Trinity.  Yes, He who knew no sin, as the Holy Son of God, became sin for us.  That is, He became our sin-bearer, taking upon Himself the full wrath of God for our sins.   Read II Corinthians 5:21 and rejoice in the wonderful salvation He offers you.

 

Humility goes as far as it must to meet a need.

June 4, 2009 Posted by | Philippians | Comments Off on Christ, Our Model of Humility