Monday, December 10, 2012

The Book No One Talks About

The Song of Solomon

I would like for you to notice that this book is in reality a song. This however is not just any song; this is the “Song of Songs.” According to 1 Kings 4:32, Solomon wrote 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. We are not given a record of most of Solomon’s songs, but we are given this one.

If I was to ask you what the greatest song ever written was, what would you answer? Maybe “Amazing Grace?” According to this verse the greatest song is Solomon’s song.

Let me illustrate the greatness of this song. In the book of Ecclesiastes several times the phrase “vanity of vanities” is mentioned. This is reference to the vanity of the world. There is no vanity like the vanity of this world.

In Israel there was a place behind the veil in the temple referred to as the “holy of holies.” There was no place quite as holy as that place.

In the book of Revelation, Jesus is called the “King of kings” and the “Lord of lords.” There is no king; no lord like Jesus is king and lord. Even so there is no song quite as great as Solomon’s song.

This small book, or song, is one of the most neglected books in the entire bible. Some claim that this book is too hard to understand, and some go as far as to say it does not belong in the canyon of the scriptures.

I will say this. This book is not for the carnally minded. This book can certainly be misunderstood, and mistreated if not properly understood.

There are many different reasons that this book is so neglected. Let me mention the three main reasons given for avoiding the Song of Solomon:

It is difficult to know who is talking.” In one verse the bridegroom will speak and in the next the bride will speak using almost the same words. Because this book is a little difficult to follow most simply avoid it altogether. 

This book isn’t like one of the epistles of Paul. Paul wrote in letter form. He began with a greeting, moved from point to point and closed. Because of this difficulty most will not even attempt to study this short book. 

I would like to point out that it is not as important whether Solomon or the Shulamite is talking. The important thing is that God is speaking to us through His word. God has given us a wonderful treasure, and those that avoid it are missing out on the blessings of God.

This book is too intimate.” The fact is that this is a record of two people who are madly in love with each other. They do the things an in love married couple does. Some of the things mentioned here could be embarrassing for some to read in a mixed congregation. In fact years ago the Jews would not allow their young men to read this book before the age of 13. 

I would like to say that ALL scriptures are given by inspiration of God. Surely you do not think that God would allow something inappropriate in His word. The truth is that we watch things on television that are far more graphic than the words recorded in this book. God speaks in terms that we can understand. This book upholds the beauty of a loving marriage. It is also a wonderful picture of Christ and his church. God would not allow anything in the scriptures that would be inappropriate for us to read.

I don’t understand the illustrations.” Some of the illustrations used in this book are a little different that the ones we use today. For example in chapter two the bride says to Solomon, “Stay with me flagons.” What in the world are “flagons?” A flagon is sweet cake. She is basically saying that Solomon was something sweet and she didn’t want to run out. In chapter four Solomon tells her that her hair is like a flock of goats and her neck is like a tower. A little study will reveal the meaning of these verses, and we will soon understand the beauty of these words.

Instead of avoiding this book God intends for us to embrace, and learn from this story. This book sets for 4 wonderful principals.

The love between a husband and a wife. Today society knows a lot about sex, but very little about love. Our school teaches our children how to have safe sex, but not how to wait until they have married the one they love. The Song of Solomon will teach us about true love.

I believe that each of us can learn from the examples in this book. Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking we have a perfect marriage or relationship. I will be honest in saying that I struggled in studying this book. God impressed some things upon my heart. With an open mind and heart maybe we can learn from this couple.

The love between Jehovah and Israel. This is a principal found many times in the Old Testament. And it is pictured for us here in this book.

The love between Christ and His church. This book reminds me of Ephesians 5 which teaches us the same principal in a compact form. While I do not believe a person should attempt to find hidden meaning in these verses (which many do). I do believe however that we see a type in these scriptures of the love between Christ and his bride the church. This is something we will be paying a lot of attention to over the next several weeks.

The love between Christ and individuals. Christ not only wants to have a relationship with the church, He wants a relationship with you. Let us never lose sight of the fact that the church is made up of individual believers. It was not a collective group that Christ died for, but a bunch of individuals. God wants you. He loves you. He wants a relationship with you.

Over the next several weeks we will go through this short book. With the help of God, and an open heart we will learn how to better love our Savior. We will also learn how to better love our spouse.

To watch this lesson taught live follow the link: 

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

What will heaven be like?

Have you ever wondered what heaven will look like. Maybe you have wondered what we will do once we get to heaven. Some have even wondered if heaven is a real place.

Last Sunday I began a series of lessons about heaven. A member of the church I attend recently had a mother pass away. While thinking about his mom he also began to wonder about heaven. This member called me and asked if I would teach sometime about heaven. Little did I know this would be one of the more difficult lessons I have ever prepared for (it has also been one of the funnest).

In this series I will try to answer questions like, "Will I still be married in heaven?" "Will I still be a parent in heaven?" "Is heaven just going to be worshiping all the time, or is there more to it than that?"

These topics are hard to tackle, so I desire your prayers. I have posted a link below if you would like to listen in to the first lesson.

I'm on twitter @drjoshuasharp

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Can you love God but not love others?

Is it possible to hate another Christian and at the same time love God? Well, the short answer to this question is no. That’s right. I am saying that it is not possible to hate a fellow Christian and love God at the same time. Consider this verse:

“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”  1 John 4:20

This verse seems very simple. What many people do not realize is that love, in the life a Christian, is an awesome responsibility. In this same chapter John gives a wonderful history of love from God to man, man to God, and finally man to man. Lets’ take a second and look at the order of love.

The Origin of Love

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”   1 John 4:9-10

John says that in the death of Christ, God’s love was “manifested.” The word manifested means “to come out in the open, to be made public.” Under the old covenant God was hidden behind the veil of the temple. Under the new covenant God has revealed His love openly.

The sending of Christ into the world was not prompted by man’s love and desire for God. Instead the coming of Christ was prompted by God’s love for mankind. Two reasons are given for the coming of Christ. In verse nine Christ came so that we could live through him. Second Christ came to be our propitiation.

The word “propitiation” has been used before.

1 John 2:2

The word “propitiation” means a “mercy seat.” In the Old Testament this word meant to cover or atone for. Christ is like the mercy seat in the tabernacle. It was to the mercy seat that the high priest came yearly to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people.

Jesus is our mercy seat. He has paid the price for redemption in His own body. Christ’s death was not an accident, his death was an appointment.

“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”  Romans 4:25

The truth is, that many people assume God saves people based on love. While it is true that God does love, He does not saved based on love. God can’t just let someone into heaven because He loves them. God is too holy to allow that. Therefore Christ had to come. Because God does love, Jesus was born to pay the penalty for our sins, and make a way for us to come to him.

Notice that all this was not done because we loved God. God loved us long before we ever loved Him. God does not even love us because we are lovable. God loves us while we are sinners. The person that states “God would not send anyone to hell because God is love” will find themselves mistaken. Because God loves He made a way for us to be saved, but be assured that a person who does not accept the work of Christ will spend eternity in hell.

The Order of Love

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”  1 John 4:11

Now that God demonstrated His love to us, it is our turn to display love. This is the natural order of things. God loved us, we have fellowship with God, and therefore we love others. Notice that displaying love is not a duty, but a privilege. We have been given God’s love, therefore we love. When we realize what Christ did for us, we should be willing to love others.

How did I say that Christ loved? Did Christ love us because we loved Him first? No, God’s love is not selfish.

“For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?”   Matthew 5:46

Notice what Christ said about love.

“I ye love me, keep my commandments.”   John 14:15

“This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.”   John 15:12

This is serious business. John is mentioning this over and over. It is terribly important that we are demonstrating God’s love in our lives.

The truth of the matter is that others cannot see the love of God in our heart. Maybe God has saved you, changed your life and you are in love with Him. Your neighbor isn’t able to see your heart. You must display that love for it to do your neighbor any good.

I wonder how many people have determined not to go to a church because some member is not displaying the love of God. I would hate to think that someone would refuse to come to my church because they saw me as hateful, angry or miserable. What good am I doing this world if I go around bitter and angry all the time? The answer is none.

Unfortunately we live in a day when many church members feel that it is there job to correct everyone around them, pick fights on some social network, and talk bad about others on Facebook for everyone to see. I understand that I’m not going to make many friends by pointing this out, but the truth is that all these things are hurtful to the cause of Christ. You will not win anyone to Christ in these ways. God help us to display Christ’s love in every area of our lives.

John finishes the chapter by stating:

“And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”  1 John 4:21

Are you in the habit of loving others? Why not, God commanded you to?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What Motivates You?

I have been teaching through the book of 1 John recently. This is an epistle that I have taught from before, but this time though something has really jumped out. In my recent lessons the theme of “love” has jumped off the pages of the scriptures. I want to take just a moment and point out a portion of these teachings.

In chapter three John begins by talking about the love that God the Father has toward His children. The love that the Father has for His children is a strange kind of love. The love of God is different than the love we are used to. You and I are capable of loving those that love us, but have a hard time loving our enemy. Our love is a selfish love. We many times love so that we can be loved back. John will explain that the love of the Father is different. God loves us, even thought we don’t love Him. God’s love is not a selfish love as demonstrated by Christ giving His life.

The love of God is where everything begins. Without the love of God there would be no sun the sky, no beautiful flowers that bloom. Most importantly without the love of God there would have never been a plan of salvation. Salvation began in the heart of God. God’s love does not however stop with salvation. The love of God is manifest in the life of the child of God. The love of God is manifest even in His coming as we will see in verse two.

Love is one of the greatest motivating factors in the world. When a man and a woman love each other they are willing to do almost anything for the other person. Do you remember all those things that others thought was silly, but you did them anyway because you were “in love”? Your love for your children will cause you to do things you normally would not. I have two girls at home and have certainly played games that a man normally would not play because I love them. But the love of God is greater than both of these loves.

This amazing love should be a motivating factor in the life of a child of God. When we consider the love that God has demonstrated in the past, and consider the love He is currently showing to us, it should motivate us to live for Him.

God does not bully anyone into living for Him. Those that teach and preach an angry religion are not teaching and preaching the truth of the scriptures. Jesus said “If you love me keep my commandments.” While it is true we should be willing to keep the commandments of Christ, it is not true that God is beating you over the head to do so. Let me share an illustration with you:

A bridegroom was very nervous about his upcoming wedding. One day he and his fiancée were discussing the wedding plans with the pastor. The man asked “May I see the vows for the service?” The pastor handed him the paper and he read them carefully.

“This will never do” the young man told the pastor. “There’s nothing written in there about her obeying me!”

His fiancée smiled, took his hand, and said, “Honey, the word obey doesn’t have to be written in a book. It’s already written in love in my heart.”

God has bestowed His amazing love into our lives and as a result we should desire to live for Him. Do you realize that when a lost person sins they are sinning against the law, but when a child of God sins they are sinning against love? The love of God in our hearts should cause us to live godly lives.

A group of teenagers were having a party. Someone suggested that they go to a certain restaurant for a good time.

“I’d rather you took me home.” Jan said to her date, “My parents don’t approve of that place.”

“Are you afraid your father will hurt you?” one of the girls asked sarcastically.

“No” Jan replied, “I’m not afraid my father will hurt me, but I am afraid I might hurt him.”

This is the way sinning works in our lives. We don’t live a godly life because we are afraid God will hurt us, but because we may hurt Him.

What motivates you? Do you find the Christian life burdensome and grievous? If so then maybe you need to fall in love with Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Promise and a Problem

A Promise and a Problem

The apostle John wrote several books in the New Testament. The last books he wrote were the epistles of 1, 2, and 3 John. When John wrote these epistles he was dealing with a church not so different than our churches today. The epistle of 1 John was written to the people of Ephesus. In its glory, under the early ministry of Paul, this church was on fire for God. They were seeing multitudes saved, false religions thrown down, and cities turned upside down. At this point in history the fire is dying out.

John is writing to the children and grandchildren of these early church members. These descendants were not as “on fire” as their ancestors were. In fact when Christ spoke of this church in the book of Revelation He complains that they have left their first love (Christ).

A Promise

In an effort to help this church John writes the epistle of 1 John. In the first chapter John states two reasons for writing this book. John states in verse three that he is writing so that they might have fellowship with God, and in verse four he says that he is writing that their joy would be full.

The promise in verse three is one of the most wonderful in the entire Bible. It is the promise that you and I can have fellowship with God. What a wonderful thought that mankind can fellowship with the God of the universe.

In verse three the word fellowship means to share something in common. For example my wife and I have fellowship with one another because we share some things in common. We both love each other. We love our children. We love our home. We have common goals for our marriage, and our future. The same should be said for the church. We should have fellowship with one another. A church should share a common love for Christ, and each other. A church should share common goals and visions for their future. A marriage or a church that does not have fellowship will soon fall apart.

A Problem

When I think about this wonderful promise of fellowship with God a problem immediately comes to mind. Here is the problem. Amos asked this question in his book.

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”   Amos 3:3

This is what is known as a rhetorical question. The answer is obvious. No, two cannot walk together if they are not in agreement. Therefore we have to determine how a sinful man can have fellowship with a holy God. Man has been asking himself this question for many years. In answer to this question mankind has devised three methods to attain fellowship with God. John discussed these three methods in 1 John chapter one. I would like for you to consider them quickly with me.

Method #1 “I will bring God down to my level”

“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.”  1 John 1:5, 6

Light produces life, beauty, wonder and radiance. Darkness produces everything that is opposed to light. If God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all, then how are we to have fellowship with Him? In the mind of man one of two things has to happen. One, we must bring God down to our level. Second, we must arise to God’s level. Both of these methods end in failure.

It is impossible for you to be walking in the darkness of sin and at the same time have fellowship with God. If this is your story then John says that you are a liar. Many times when people are guilty of sin they are also guilty of trying to hid their sin from other people. Think about David after he sinned with Bathsheba. He tried over and over to cover his sin and act like nothing was wrong in his life.

None of us are perfect, but God does not want us walking in open sin. To claim fellowship with God while walking in sin is to attempt to bring God down to your level. God cannot be brought down to your level.

Method #2 “I will arise to God’s level.”

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  1 John 1:8

This may even be worse than the first method. To be a liar is one thing, but John says that if you believe you have no sin you don’t even know what truth is. This is even worse than being a liar. A liar knows the truth, but chooses to ignore the truth. The person who does not believe they sin doesn’t even know the truth.

I feel sorry for people who teach and believe that they must live in sinless perfection in order to obtain, or maintain salvation. This is an impossible task. Notice that John says that if you believe you have no sin you are deceiving yourself. The person who feels that they do not sin is not fooling anyone other than themselves. Trust me, your spouse, your family, your coworkers and your neighbors know that you sin. The only one you are fooling is yourself. Method 2 also ends in failure.

Method #3 “I will confess my sins.”

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   1 John 1:9

The Greek word translated “confess” in this verse means “to say the same thing.” It simply means that when God reveals sin in your life, you look at that sin from God’s perspective and proclaim “Lord, you are right that is sin and it is wrong.” That is confession.

When you are willing to take sides with God against yourself, then God is willing to forgive you of those sins and clean you up. Sin is terrible and God hates it. God cannot fellowship with someone who is walking in open sin. When we confess our sins however God will clean us up and accept us into fellowship with Him. Method 3 is a success.

What is your opinion of sin? None of us are perfect. All of us sin. The question is what you do about that sin. Do you ignore it? Do you act like you don’t sin? Or, do you confess sin? Only when you are willing to confess the sin in your life will you be able to experience fellowship with God.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A new earth and a new city!

Revelation 21

You will remember in John chapter 14 the Lord began to prepare His disciples for the time when He would leave them and return to heaven. The Lord told them that He had to go away, but that one day He would return to get them so they could be with Him again. You will also remember the famous words of the Lord where He said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for your, and if I go to prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there ye may be also.”

Many assume that Christ went to prepare a mansion or home. As we learn in this chapter, Christ did not go to prepare a mansion but a city. This chapter reveals the work of Christ, the place He promised to prepare for His bride. Imagine how wonderful this city will be. If it took the Lord six days to create the earth in which we live today, how wonderful will that city be which took 2,000 years to prepare?

A Renovation by fire

Immediately after the destruction of Satan and his armies, John writes: "I saw a Great White Throne and Him that sat on it, from whose face the Earth and Heaven fled away; and there was found no more place for them." Then John goes on to describe for us the judgment of the wicked dead. After this judgment John declares, "I saw a new Heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea."

This transformation was predicted by our Lord in Matthew 24:35 when he said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away.”

As this change comes John tells us that it is happening, but he does not tell us how it is coming to pass. But Peter does.

2 Peter 3:7-13

The fact that these two are talking about the same event is clear for Peter tells us that it occurs during the judgment and perdition of ungodly men. This no doubt is the Great White Throne judgment.

At first glance when reading these verses one would think that we are being told that the entire earth and heaven is being done away with by the fire. This is not so if you study further. The present earth and the present heaven are simply to be renovated by the fire.

The exterior surface of the earth will be completely changed and all that sin brought into the world will be done away with. When man sinned, the earth brought forth thrones, disease, gems and so on. All of this will be destroyed.

Just as the flood of water did not change the framework of the earth, the earth’s framework will not change when it is baptized with fire.

No doubt as the earth’s surface begins to burn and melt away the intense heat will cause the gases in the earth’s atmosphere to explode. This is what Peter describes when he says the earth will pass away with a “great noise.” The end result will be that all animal life will be destroyed, all vegetable life will be destroyed and the earth’s surface will be totally altered.

The Lord promised the meek would inherit the earth and that the children of Israel will dwell in the earth forever. If God's people are to dwell on the earth forever, then the earth must abide forever. God will never totally do away with the earth. He will simply purify it and make it a suitable place for His people to dwell.

“For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.”  Isaiah 66:22

On this new earth there will be no more sickness. Health will be preserved by the tree of life. The new earth will never see the heavens angry with blackness, no flashing with thunderbolts of Divine wrath. No more hail or devouring floods and tornados. Many believe that the earth will again bring forth mist to water the face of the ground as it did in Eden.

On this new earth there will be no more death. For the apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians that death, the final enemy, will be destroyed. This will truly be a day when we can cry out “O death where is thy victory, O grave where is thy sting?”

The new earth will not have a sea. Now that does not mean there will not be any bodies of water, for we know that there will be rivers that flow from the temple, simply that there will be no great bodies of water.

Think about it, this new earth where there will be no more sin, sorrow, sickness or dying is only available to those who have trusted in the shed blood of Christ. John declared that this is only possible to those who are “over-comers”. How do we overcome?

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”   I John 5:4

The Revelation of a City
As John begins to view this city he is amazed. In these verses we see that John is amazed at the sight of the city. John describes it as being like a precious stone clear as crystal.
Then John tells us that the city had a wall all the way around the city, and on each of the four sides of the walls three gates. In Bible times walls around the city were used for protections, but there will be no protection needed in this city. This wall will no doubt be for an eternal reminder that God protected us while we were upon earth.

The cities gates were named for the twelve tribes of Israel. Angels stood at the gates to welcome all who possessed the right to enter in. Just as the walls are inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel the foundations are inscribed with the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Next John is amazed by the size of the city. As the angels measure the city John records the sizes. We learn that the city is a perfect cube for its length, width and height are equal. The city is 12,000 furlongs, which is 1,500 miles. If you were to place this city on the current United States of America it would reach from the northern most part of Maine to southern most part of Florida, and from the eastern seaboard to Colorado. The wall is 216 feet high for the measure of a cubit is the distance from a man’s elbow to the point of his finger or approximately 18 inches.

Lastly, John is amazed by the beauty of the city. First, the wall of jasper pictures Christ in His glory surrounding His saints. Next, the city of pure gold pictures the righteousness of God’s holy nature. And then the colorful precious stone pictures the attributes of Christ as well as aspects of His redemptive work.

On earth God always had a dwelling place, a temple or tabernacle where men could come and visit with Him. Such a place is no longer needed, for God is now dwelling with man.

Revelation 22

This final chapter of the book of Revelation concludes our sightseeing tour of the New Jerusalem. It also gives us one final warning that only those who are prepared may enter into this wonderful place.

We Will Have Real Bodies

These first two verses in chapter 22 establish the fact that in our new glorified bodies we will still enjoy eating. This only makes since, for the Bible teaches us that when we shall see Him, (Jesus), we will be like Him. And since Jesus ate in his glorified body so shall we.

“And he took it, and did eat before them.”   Luke 24:43

We will also drink in our new body. We will drink from the water that flows from the river that comes from the throne of God. The waters of the rivers today are certainly not crystal clear, most of the time they are muddy or contaminated. But this wonderful river we shall drink from is crystal clear.

Notice that the source of this water is not another body of water. We are told in chapter 21 that the new earth will not have any seas. This water flows from the throne of God.

The Bible teaches us that we will eat of the fruit of the tree of life. These trees will bear forth twelve different kinds of fruit, a different fruit each month. The Bible then goes on to tell us that the leaves of the trees will be for the healing of the nations.

You will remember when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, that God drove them from the garden and placed an angel guardian at the gate. The reason for the angel to guard the gate was so that Adam could not enter into the garden and eat of the tree of life, for if he did he would live in his sinful state forever. Now we are given access to the tree that Adam could not eat from.

Many misunderstand this verse where it says that the leaves are for the healing of the nation. You must remember that there will be no sickness in this new city, so these leaves are not to heal sickness. They are rather to be used to preserve the health of the nations.

We Will Realize God Like Never Before

Can you imagine a time when we will forever look upon the face of the Lord, and then to see him looking at us? Many times we feel like the apostle Paul when he said that “now we look through a glass darkly, but then face to face.” Many times we pray and read our Bible and we see the Lord, or He makes himself real to us, but there is coming a day when He will be more real to us than ever, the day when we shall see Him.

The Bible then says that we will have His name written upon our foreheads. During the tribulation hour the followers of Antichrist had the number of his name upon them, the 144,000 had the seal of God upon their heads, and now in the New Jerusalem we will have the name of our Lord forever inscribed upon our forehead.

Are You Ready?

In verse six the angel tells John that the things he has seen will come to pass “speedily.” And now in this verse Jesus proclaims that He will come “speedily.” The word used “speedily” in these verses does not speak of time, hours or minutes. It speaks of events taking place in a rapid succession once they begin.

In other words once these things come to pass, the things will fall into place so suddenly that one should make preparation before they begin. Things will come to pass so quickly that one will not have time to prepare, once the events begin to unfold. Therefore we are told, “Blessed are they which keep the commandments of this book.” Or blessed are you if you are prepared.

You will remember that when God had finished giving a revelation to Daniel He told him to seal up the book for the time was not at hand.

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”   Daniel 12:4

John however is forbidden to seal up the book for the time is at hand. The word used in this verse “time” means an opportunity, moment or season. Therefore the time for the revealing of prophetic scripture is come. It is time for people to learn what will shortly come to pass. It is time for us to get our head out of the sand.

We should learn the prophetic truths about the times of the church dispensations and know that the coming of Christ is at hand. We should also know that once the events begin they will quickly come to pass. If we know we will prepare.

Some will hear the message that the rapture of the church, the judgment of God and the Great White Throne Judgment, will soon come to pass and therefore they will prepare by asking Christ into their heart to save them. Others however will continue to harden their heart and reject Christ. What you do with Christ is totally up to you, but make no mistake about it you must decide. Many do not realize that doing nothing with Christ is the same as rejecting Christ.

God’s time clock is ticking. Things are quickly coming to pass. No doubt the next great event on God’s time clock or time line is the rapture of the church. It could be today. Are you ready?

I have said before and I will say it again, the rapture of the church is a signless, timeless event. There is nothing that needs to be fulfilled before Christ can come. It could be today. Once it happens things will begin to spin so quickly you will not know what hit you, if you are not prepared.

We read of the 10 virgins in the book of Matthew. In this story we are told how that 5 of them are prepared and had oil, but 5 were not ready. The five that were not ready frantically begged for oil, and sought to buy oil at the midnight hour when the cry came, but then it was too late. Don’t wait until it is too late. Make preparation today.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Great White Throne Judgment

Revelation 20

Over the past several months we have been going through the book of Revelation. In past blogs we have witnessed many terrible things. We have seen demonic locust that torment men for three months. We have see blood, fire and hail come down from heaven. We have seen men and women beheaded for the cause of Christ. The verses we will discuss in this blog are more terrible than all of those.

In the latter part of Revelation 20 we read of the judgment of the wicked dead. This is commonly referred to as “The Great White Throne Judgment.” Again this portion of scriptures begins with the phrase “and I saw.” This statement was made by John 37 times in the book of Revelation. What a privilege John had to view these things. This time John will witness as the dead stand before God. This no doubt is the gloomiest hour the world has ever known.

Let me first say that this not a "general judgment." In fact there is no such thing as a "general judgment" in the scriptures. As we study these verses we will see that the church will not be found at this judgment, nor will we find Israel. This is the judgment of the wicked dead alone.

The church will be judged at the Judgment seat of Christ and Israel will be judged during the seven years of tribulation. This judgment is reserved only for the wicked dead. The judgment of the wicked dead will take place at least 1,007 years after the judgment of the church.

This also is not the judgment of the nations recorded in Matthew 25. Let us look at the differences between these two judgments.

Matthew 25                                                                Revelation 20

Judgment of nations                                                   Judgment of individuals
Takes place on this earth                                           Takes place in heaven
Judged for their treatment of Jew                               Judged for their works
No books are opened                                               Books are opened
Takes place before kingdom                                     Takes place after the kingdom

Having established that this is the judgment of the wicked dead alone, I want to talk about this judgment in two ways. I want us to see a picture of this judgment. I also want to discuss the purpose of this judgment.

A Picture of Judgment

Notice the description John gives us of this scene. In these verses we see the description of Christ and His throne as being white. White speaks of holiness, justice, purity and righteousness. White stands for all that is honorable and right. The white is even more remarkable when compared to the darkness of the sin found in those being judged.

In these verses we learn that death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire. Death is a representation of the grave, and hell of course is the underworld where the souls of the wicked remain until this time of judgment. By these two being cast into the lake of fire we realize that there will be no more death or sin for God will do away with both.

We know that this judgment will not take place on this earth for it will take place at the same time the earth is being renovated by fire. Peter tells us the earth will be burned with fire on the "day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."

“But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same world are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”   2 Peter 3:7

When the kingdom age if fulfilled, and while this judgment is taking place, God will renovate the earth with fire. While mankind stands in judgment, the earth is also being judged and restored.

Therefore we can see the scene. After the kingdom age is finished the heavens and earth will roll away. Somewhere in the middle of nothing we see a white throne. Upon this throne sits Jesus Christ. The host of heaven surrounds Him, and the wicked dead stand before Him. Angels stand guard waiting to cast all who stand before Christ into the Lake of Fire. What a terrible scene.

The Purpose of Judgment

I do not believe that the wicked will be judged in these verses to determine whether they are guilty or not, whether they are saved or not. That has already been determined. The reason that these people are standing before God is because they have not accepted Him. These will be judged to determine the degree of punishment they will endure.

This is sad for there will be some good people that stand before God on this day. People that were kind and lovable, but they never accepted Christ as their Savior. Murders, rapist, child molesters all will stand before God. There will also be children, mothers, grandmothers, community leaders who will all stand before God.

As the books are open the person’s life is brought into judgment. Every work must be accounted for. Nothing will be hid on this day. The wickedness that men have indulged in will be brought into the open for all to see. You may ask “how this is possible?” You must remember that God is an omniscient or all knowing God. He is also omnipotent, or all-powerful, and knows and sees the heart.

“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”   Matthew 15:19

“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things area naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”   Hebrews 4:13

As these books are open we are told that whoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. This is very interesting to me. It almost reads that there is searching being done for the names of those that stand before God. God knows all that are His, for He said in John 10 “I know my sheep.” If then God knows those that are His, why would He search the books for them? Could it be possible for God to have made a mistake and not remembered one of His?

No! I believe that many will stand before God and cry out that they were in fact saved and that they accepted Christ as their Savior. As they cry forth God will show them the book of life as proof that they never were really saved. How sad it is to picture the unsaved standing before God searching frantically for their names in the book of life. Then even more terrible the moment that they realize their name is not in the book of life.

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”   Matthew 7:21-23

No doubt some will be subject to more punishment than other. I personally believe it will be those who sat on a church pew every Sunday that will suffer the most.

“But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.  For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom me have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”  Luke 12:48

All however will be punished. How sad it will be to be one of those people who are not so bad and have to spend eternity with the wicked.

What a time of judgment. All will be judged. No doubt we will see Cain, the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, Pharaoh, Jezebel & Ahab, Judas and those responsible for the crucifixion of the Lord. We will even see King Agrippa who said to Paul "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."

This will be the saddest day history will ever know. I believe it will be a terrible sight as we watch friends, coworkers, and family cast, kicking and screaming in the lake of fire. Remember friend that it is not until after the Great White Throne is completed that God wipes away all tears from our eyes.

I also believe that it will be at this time that the blood of those we came in contact with will be required at our hands.

Ezekiel 33:1-7

The fallen angels will also be judged at this judgment. Not the angels of Satan but those who today are chained in darkness according to Jude 6.

“And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”    Jude 6

Once all of this is done and the earth is purged of all evil we will see a new earth in the next chapter.