Expect the Adversaries

Sunday, September 30, 2012

“For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9 KJV).

Hypothetically, if we are the Lord’s children, then we will have an easy life? Right? Wrong!

As one Christian brother expressed it, “God has not promised us Christians a rose petal pathway.” Contrary to the feel-good cliché “God wants you healthy and wealthy,” our membership in the Church the Body of Christ does not ensure our lives will be trouble-free.

While we Christians serve the Lord Jesus Christ, this world has never been and will never be His friend: “They hated [Jesus Christ] without a cause” (John 15:25; cf. Psalm 35:19). During His 33 years on earth, the world was very unkind to our Lord and Saviour. He was hated, belittled, and executed by His own people. The world will “love” Christ living His life in us to the same extent they “loved” Him living His life during His earthly ministry—not at all!

In the verse previous to today’s Scripture, Paul is staying at Ephesus until Pentecost. Today’s Scripture says that while Paul had opportunity to preach and teach in Ephesus, the satanic policy of evil had its men in place. Evil men, Satan’s cohorts, were eager to divide Paul’s audience and persecute Christians, including harming the Apostle himself. Today’s Scripture refers to Acts 19:21–20:1, when Paul preached against the pagan goddess Diana in Ephesus. Fearing financial ruin, the local idol makers anger the Ephesians and cause them to turn against Paul. This riot in Ephesus (present-day western Turkey) forces Paul to depart to Macedonia (present-day northern Greece).

The Philippian believers endured intense persecution, yet Paul encouraged them: “And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God” (1:28). Do not fear or be intimidated by Satan’s evil world system. (“Satan” is a Hebrew word meaning “adversary.”) The devil is our adversary because he is God’s adversary. Thankfully, Satan’s tactics do not have to destroy us: God’s grace is sufficient for us to bear them (2 Corinthians 12:9,10).

Expect the adversaries, and expect God’s grace to endure them! 🙂

The Remaining Two-Thirds

Saturday, September 29, 2012

“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34 KJV).

On average, you will spend one-third of your life sleeping. Of what will the remaining two-thirds of your earthly life consist?

In the context of today’s Scripture, it is noontime, and Jesus is tired from traveling, so He rests in Samaria by sitting on Jacob’s well (verses 5,6). His disciples have gone into nearby Sychar to buy food, and while He waits for their return, He speaks with a Samaritan woman who comes to draw water from the well (verses 7-26). (The Samaritans are not full-blooded Jews, so they and Israel usually do not associate with each other; see verse 9.)

As their conversation proceeds, the Samaritan woman learns that Jesus is Israel’s Messiah (verses 25,26). She quickly goes to the city to tell them of Jesus, and she comes back to Jesus with additional Samaritans (verses 28-30). Before they come to Jesus, His disciples finally return, and urge Him to eat (verse 31). The Lord replies, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of” (verse 32). His disciples then ask in verse 33: “Hath any man brought him aught to eat?”

Today’s Scripture is our Lord’s answer. The very thing for which He lives is not physical food: “My meat is to do the will of him [God the Father] that sent me, and to finish His work.” Our Lord has in mind the salvation of these Samaritans: “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (verse 35). Essentially, He is saying, “Look at the harvest of those souls!” (cf. Matthew 9:36,37). Later, many Samaritans believe on Christ, and He dwells with them two days (verses 39-43).

Saints, our Lord was consumed with fulfilling the work to which His heavenly Father had appointed Him. Can we say that about the remaining two-thirds of our lives? Are we walking by faith in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, allowing God to fulfill His will in us? Or, are we spiritually sleeping, doing nothing (Ephesians 5:14)?

Who is the Deceiver?

Friday, September 28, 2012

“So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day” (Matthew 28:15 KJV).

Today’s Scripture has a very incredible context….

In Matthew 27:63-66, after Jesus’ burial, the chief priests and Pharisees come to Pilate, “Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.”

Lest the disciples come and steal Christ’s corpse, and stage a “resurrection,” Pilate allows Israel’s religious leaders to place Roman guards before Christ’s tomb.

Three days later, when Christ’s female disciples come to His tomb, there is a great earthquake, for the angel of the Lord finally rolls away the stone to reveal the empty tomb (Matthew 28:1-8). The Roman soldiers are aghast! Despite their precautions, the tomb was not “sure [secure]” enough (Jesus has resurrected and escaped). The soldiers flee to the chief priests and report the miraculous events they beheld (verse 11).

“And when they [the chief priests] were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s [Pilate’s] ears, we will persuade him, and secure you” (verses 12-14). According to today’s Scripture, “they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”

Interestingly, guards were to keep Christ’s body from being stolen. Yet when He did resurrect and escape, they lied and said His body was stolen. Actually, they were the “deceivers,” not Christ, for He did physically resurrect as He had claimed.

My Kingdom is Not of This World? #5

Thursday, September 27, 2012

“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36 KJV).

What did Jesus mean when He spoke today’s Scripture?

Iniquity—a selfish, rebellious, anti-God attitude—existed first in Lucifer/Satan (Ezekiel 28:15), who is now “the god [ruler] of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Hence, the world’s governments abound with injustice and iniquity (“not equal;” that is, “not fair”). “[T]he mystery of iniquity doth already work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7), whose context describes the seven-year Tribulation, when the antichrist will epitomize this world’s blasphemous political system by claiming to be and exalting himself as God (Daniel 8:25; 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4), just as Lucifer did in Isaiah 14:14.

Daniel 2:31-45 is King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and God’s interpretation as spoken through the prophet Daniel. Essentially, Nebuchadnezzar saw a giant image, symbolizing major Gentile world empires (most of which were future from his time). Nebuchadnezzar then saw a “stone cut out without hands” demolish this image, which stone “became a mountain [kingdom], and filled the whole earth” (verses 34,35).

This stone is “cut out without hands, meaning it is not of human origin: it is “not of this world” (this is what Jesus meant in today’s Scripture). This stone is Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:6-8) at His Second Coming to set up His glorious kingdom on earth, a kingdom established by “the God of heaven” (Daniel 2:44), one not founded by “the god of this world,” Satan, nor influenced by his autonomous spirit.

Try as we might, political reform is impossible in this world. Though politicians can and are replaced, the underlying corrupt political system (described earlier) remains the same. Political reformation is only possible if the existing satanically inspired world system is replaced with God’s, and none of us mortal humans can achieve this. In God’s own time (Christ’s Second Coming), He will abolish Satan’s evil world system that has dominated earth for 6,000 years, and replace it with His righteous world system.

Indeed, Christ’s kingdom is “not of this world!”

My Kingdom is Not of This World? #4

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36 KJV).

What did Jesus mean when He spoke today’s Scripture?

In the context of today’s Scripture, Jesus Christ, just hours before His crucifixion, is standing before Judaean governor Pontius Pilate. Pilate asks Jesus, “Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?” Today’s Scripture is Jesus’ response.

Pilate asked Jesus how His own nation, Israel, and its chief priests could deliver Him to the Roman government to be sentenced to death. Our Lord’s reply was simple: (sinful, unbelieving) Israel rejected Him as their Messiah-King because He was righteous. They did not want God ruling over them, as the psalmist prophesied: “The kings of the earth [Roman rulers] set themselves, and the rulers [of Israel] take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed [Messiah/Christ], saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (Psalm 2:2,3; cf. Acts 4:25-28).

Interestingly, our Lord said, “but now is my kingdom not from hence.” His kingdom would be established on earth, just not “now,” not during His First Coming. As He knew, He could not reign as King until after He had gone to Calvary’s cross and died for man’s sins (Luke 17:24,25). In addition, the institution of our 2,000-year-long Dispensation of Grace has further delayed Christ’s reign on earth.

Upon Christ’s Second Coming, to conclude the seven-year Tribulation, Satan will be bound in the bottomless pit during the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 20:1-3). Satan’s evil world system, and all its governments, will be demolished when Christ establishes His earthly kingdom (see Daniel 2:31-45). “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (verse 44).

My Kingdom is Not of This World? #3

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36 KJV).

What did Jesus mean when He spoke today’s Scripture?

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Within these two realms, God also created governments: “For by him [the Lord Jesus Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Colossians 1:16).

God also made creatures to occupy those offices of government: He formed the angels to rule in heaven for His glory, and mankind to rule on the earth for His glory. One of God’s chief angelic-like creatures, a cherub named Lucifer, rebelled against God by wanting to rule for his glory: Lucifer proclaimed, “I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14b). This title “most High” means “possessor of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14:19,22). Essentially, Lucifer (Satan) purposed to usurp all of God’s authority, in heaven and in earth.

Satan was able to recruit a portion of God’s angels to follow him in his rebellion in heaven (Ezekiel 28:18; Matthew 25:41). When God placed man on the earth, man was to rule earth for God’s glory (Genesis 1:26,28). Unfortunately, man (Adam) willingly chose to relinquish his God-given authority to Satan, by sinfully following Satan in his rebellion against God (Romans 5:12).

Today, the governments of heaven (Ephesians 6:12) and earth (2 Corinthians 4:4) are in rebellion. Earth’s governments are corrupt because Satan is “the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). In fact, Satan tempted Christ with a proposal: if Christ would worship him, Satan would give Him the world’s governments (Matthew 4:8,9; Luke 4:5-7).

In today’s Scripture, when Christ claimed His kingdom was “not of this world,” He meant that His kingdom would not originate from the evil world system underlying today’s governments. His reign would restore earth’s governments to God (Colossians 1:20).

My Kingdom is Not of This World? #2

Monday, September 24, 2012

“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36 KJV).

What did Jesus mean when He spoke today’s Scripture?

Today’s Scripture is often misconstrued to deny a literal, physical, visible reign of Christ on earth. Because Jesus Christ is not literally, physically, and visibly ruling on earth today, it is assumed the kingdom spoken of in the Old Testament and Four Gospels was an invisible, spiritual kingdom. This belief is without merit.

The apostles inquired in Acts 1:6: “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” What type of kingdom did Israel have? A literal, physical, visible kingdom! The apostles are asking if Christ at that time would restore again Israel to her glorious kingdom days, especially those of Kings David and Solomon. They were obviously speaking of a literal, physical, visible kingdom.

In the book of the Revelation, which is still unfulfilled, we read of voices in heaven saying: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (11:15). (Here is when Luke 1:33 will be fulfilled.) What kingdoms exist in the world? Invisible, spiritual kingdoms? No, they are literal, physical, visible kingdoms, and, at His Second Coming, Jesus Christ will reign over them all. “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one” (Zechariah 14:9).

When Jesus Christ, in today’s Scripture, admitted His kingdom was “not of this world,” He was not implying that it was spiritual and/or invisible. Actually, He meant that His kingdom is separate and distinct from the system upon which the world’s governments of Pilate’s time (and even those of today) are built. It will be a kingdom that God Himself, not some mortal man, will establish and administrate, a glorious monarchy in which God’s will shall always be accomplished on earth.