Monday, September 19, 2011

Life is a Relay not a Sprint

Last night I was in church and our pastor was reading a passage of scripture before his message and one of the verses seemed to jump off the page at me. The verse was 2 Timothy 2:2.

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”

Here Paul was instructing the young preacher Timothy that he was to remember the things that he heard Paul teach and preach. Then Timothy was to teach others the things that Paul had taught him.

I’m afraid too many of us are living the Christian life like it is a sprint instead of relay. A sprinter is concerned only about himself. The only concern that a sprinter has is to make sure he gets to the finish line in first place. This is the way that many Christians are living their lives. They are only concerned about their own life, or only the life of their family. As long as they make it to heaven, or as long as they understand the scriptures then that is good enough for them.

From Paul’s description in this verse the Christian life should be a relay. A relay is run by a team of people who run as hard as they can, and then they pass on the baton to someone else who can run after they are finished. This is the way the Christian life is to be lived.

One of the darkest times in history, in fact we refer to it as the “dark ages”, was when the church decided that the average man should not be able to read or understand the Bible. The church felt that it was better that the average man just took the priest’s word concerning the scriptures instead of reading and learning for himself. The church was so strong in this belief that they even persecuted and even killed those who would try to translate the Bible into a language the average man could understand. This brought on a great deal of false religion, traditionalism, and false doctrine. The main reason that the church wanted these people in the dark was because that means they could not be held accountable for the things that they taught.

Sadly this is the way that some so called “men of God” want their people to be. They do not want their people to know as much as them, definitely not more. For if their people knew the truths of the Bible this would mean they would be more accountable for the things that they preached and taught. God help us when we delight in the ignorance of the scriptures!

Paul wanted to be held accountable for what he said. He said that the church who studied the scriptures for themselves were “noble.” And in the verse I mentioned earlier he wanted Timothy to teach others, so they in turn could teach others.

It should be our desire to learn all we can about the scriptures, and then pass that knowledge along to someone else. I want my children to be better Christians than I am. I want my Sunday school class to study along, and be wise in the scriptures so that they can teach someone else the things that I have taught to them. In fact, when I am the most discouraged, regarding my class, is when I feel like that those I teach do not fully understand what I have taught them.

God help us to live our Christian life like it is a relay. Help us to pass along the baton of the scriptures to someone else, so they can do the same. How can the word of God live on if we are not teaching and training someone who can do the same? The answer is that it cannot.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Will people be saved during the tribulation?

Revelation Chapter 7

When we get to the seventh chapter of Revelation we encounter our first parenthetical chapter. What I mean by this is that the things described in this chapter could be placed in parentheses. The events of chapter seven actually occur in the midst of the events surrounding the chapter.

Many have questioned whether people will have the ability to be saved during the tribulation period. I think this chapter does a pretty good job of answering that question. I have heard many say that it will be impossible for someone to be saved once the tribulation begins. I cannot agree with that position based on the contents of this chapter. With an open heart and mind we will see what God says about this subject in chapter seven.

Chapter seven deals with two groups of people, in two different places. In the first portion of the chapter we are told of the 144,000 sealed Jews who go out to preach the gospel of the kingdom. In the latter portion of scriptures we are told of a multitude of Gentiles who will be saved during the tribulation.

In this chapter we see the love, compassion, and tenderness of the Lord. It is refreshing to see the compassion of God displayed in the midst of this terrible tribulation. God does not find pleasure in judgment, but rather is forced to display judgment because of the wickedness on the part of man. But these judgments are not just intended to punish, but to get people’s attention as well.

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

When chapter seven begins we see that God instructs the four angels, on the four corners of the earth, to hold back while God causes a great revival upon the earth. Just as God has 7,000 reserved who would bow their knee to Baal in the days of Elijah, God will have 144,000 who will not bow their knee to Antichrist.

God saves, calls and seals 144,000 Jewish boys. This seal will be the Father’s name written on their forehead and I believe will be visible, just like the mark of Antichrist will be a visible seal.

There is a good deal of confusion surrounding the 144,000. Let me say that they are NOT the church. The church is not upon the earth, but rather was raptured in chapter four. This group is NOT the “faithful observers of the Sabbath” as the Seventh-day Adventist claim. This group is NOT the “over-comers of the flock” as the Jehovah Witness claim. This IS literally 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel.

These men will be anointed by the Spirit of God to preach the gospel of the kingdom.

Joel 2:28-29

At this time the Holy Spirit working through these sealed Jews will go about saving those that will call on the name of the Lord. Many do not believe this to be true for they do not believe that the Holy Spirit will be working in the earth during the time of the tribulation hour. This is not true, for we are witnessing the working of the Spirit in this chapter.

II Thessalonians 2:6-12

The word letteth is the Old English word for hinders. The point Paul is trying to make is that of the Antichrist and his rise. The Holy Spirit hinders the rise of the Antichrist until he is taken out of the way. These scriptures simply tell us that the hindering presence of the Holy Spirit is removed, not His total presence.

If one truly believes that the Holy Spirit is equal with God then they must believe that the Spirit has the same attributes as God. God is all knowing, all-powerful and all present. God is everywhere at all times, thus the Holy Spirit is everywhere at all times. The Holy Spirit therefore cannot be taken out of this world for He is everywhere.

Psalms 139:7-10

The presence of the Holy Spirit upon earth will produce one of the greatest revivals the world has ever known. These 144,000 will preach the gospel of the kingdom. They will preach the shed blood of Christ on Calvary, for this has always been and will always be the shed blood of Christ. They will also preach the advent of the king.

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”   Matthew 24:14

This is not the message of His first coming but his second. This message will be like that of John the Baptist. Therefore if we want to know more about this gospel we will need to look to John.

John first of all preached repentance.

“Repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” Matthew 3:2

Second he preached the blood.

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world”   John 1:29

The last part of his message was that of the coming of the King. This part of the message was not accepted. But one day soon the 144,000 will again preach this message and this time multitudes will accept the message and be saved.

After these Jews go forth preaching the gospel of the kingdom John now sees an innumerable group of people from all over the world standing before the throne of God in heaven. This group is not the church and they differ if studied. This group stands and has palms in their hands, while the church sits on thrones, wears crowns and holds harps and golden vials.

John tells us that this group is wearing white robes, which signifies that they have had their sins washed away by the blood of the Lamb. John also sees them waving palm leaves which speaks of victory won through the power of Christ. They are joyous for they have overcome the world and the devil.

Some will claim that this innumerable group is the church, but this is not the case. Notice that John is asked by one of the elders who this group is. John answers that he does not know, but that the elder knew. The elder tells John that this group is “those who have been saved out of great tribulation.” Friend you can say what you will but this an innumerable group who have been saved during the tribulation period. What a blessing it is that in any dispensation God is faithful to save those who will call on His name.

When we pick back up in chapter eight we will see the opening of the seventh seal, and the beginning of the seven trumpet judgments. Progressively the judgments will get worse and worse as we will soon see.