The Little Flock #4

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32 KJV).

When Jesus Christ came to the nation Israel, He came to fulfill hundreds of Old Testament prophetic statements. He was the Messiah-King of whom God’s holy prophets had spoken for centuries. Israel’s long-prophesied kingdom was finally going to be established!

But, most Jews rejected Jesus as King-Messiah (John 1:11), eventually demanding the Romans crucify Him. In John 19:15 they cried, “We have no king but Caesar!” The few Jews who trusted in Jesus as their Messiah received John the Baptist’s water baptism (Matthew 3:1-6; Mark 1:1-5). They became Israel’s believing remnant (this was “the church” that followed the twelve apostles’ doctrine in early Acts [2:41-47]; cf. John 21:15-17).

John also warned that Jews who refused his message and water baptism would be “baptized with fire” (Matthew 3:7-12; Luke 3:7-9, 16-17). We know this as the period of God’s wrath, the seven-year Tribulation. The twelve apostles in Acts chapters 1-8 were unsuccessful in converting every Jew (a prerequisite for the kingdom). Now, God was about to pour out His wrath on rebellious Israel. But, God temporarily paused Israel’s prophetic program, and postponed that wrath and earthly kingdom.

Today, we live the Dispensation of Grace, separate from Israel’s kingdom program. But, when our dispensation ends (at the rapture), God will return to Israel and begin the seven-year Tribulation. God will continue the “little flock” by saving one-third of Israel, bringing them through that wrath (Zechariah 13:8,9; Matthew 24:15-21; Revelation 13:6,14-17). But, unbelieving Jews, as John predicted, will burn up in God’s wrath (cf. Matthew 24:36-44).

After Christ’s Second Coming to conclude the seven years, the “little flock” of the Tribulation will join the resurrected members of the “little flock” of Christ’s earthly ministry and early Acts, and the resurrected Old Testament believers. This entire group will inherit that earthly kingdom (today’s Scripture; Matthew 25:34).

The “little flock” should not be confused with us, the Church the Body of Christ. We believers in this dispensation will inherit God’s kingdom in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1; Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6,7; 2 Timothy 4:18).

Two Secret Comings of Christ

Saturday, November 5, 2011

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,” (1 Corinthians 15:51 KJV).

The Old Testament prophets foretold Israel’s coming Messiah. Psalm 22 and Isaiah chapter 53 described a suffering and dying Messiah. Isaiah 9:6,7 and Zechariah 14:1-4 prophesied a Messiah who would win battles for Israel and ultimately be her King. The prophets could not understand how one Messiah could fulfill both roles (1 Peter 1:10,11), so they wondered if there were two Messiahs.

In hindsight, on this side of Calvary, we understand that there is one Jesus Christ, but His coming described in the Old Testament is actually two comings. Christ came to Israel 2,000 years ago to die and resurrect (His First Coming), but He will one day return to Israel as King (His Second Coming).

But, we Berean Bible students understand that God kept our Dispensation of Grace a secret from those Old Testament prophets (Romans 16:25,26; Ephesians 3:5,9; Colossians 1:25-27). Until the ascended Lord Jesus Christ revealed it to Paul, God never told anyone of a secret time period between those two comings of Christ. So, in addition to two prophesied comings of Christ (His earthly ministry and His millennial reign as King), there are two secret comings of Christ in Scripture.

Our Dispensation of Grace opened in Acts chapter 9, when the ascended Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saul (later the Apostle Paul) on the road to Damascus (Acts 26:13-18). Instead of pouring out His wrath, which should have occurred after the Jews stoned their prophet Stephen in Acts chapter 7 (Acts 7:55,56 cf. Psalm 110:1), God poured out His grace on Saul and saved him! This coming of Christ to open our dispensation, save Saul, and make him Paul the Apostle, was unknown to the Old Testament prophets.

Likewise, there is a secret coming of Christ to conclude our dispensation and take us (the Body of Christ) to heaven. The rapture, a “mystery” (secret) unknown to the Old Testament, is only revealed in Paul’s epistles (today’s Scripture).

You only see these marvelous truths when you study the Bible dispensationally.

A King Shall Reign and Prosper

Thursday, November 3, 2011

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jeremiah 23:5,6 KJV).

Today’s Scripture, written over 2,600 years ago, still awaits fulfillment. The nation Israel, and the world, has yet to experience the reign of this King.

The Middle East has been plagued with turmoil and animosity for millennia. Israel in her 4,000-year existence has never dwelt peacefully in her land. She has never enjoyed her earthly kingdom. Israel’s sinful disobedience caused God to righteously punish her using exiles. Gentile armies repeatedly invaded and overran Israel, carrying the Jews off to foreign lands (Leviticus 26:27-35; Deuteronomy 28:25; et al.).

Consequently, the Jewish race is far from its homeland. It is scattered all over the world today. “The days come, saith the Lord,” when that will change. As soon as our Dispensation of Grace expires, and the Church the Body of Christ is raptured into heaven, Israel’s prophetic program will resume. The Jews will experience seven years of God’s wrath, the Tribulation.

One-third of Israel will become believers during the Tribulation, and this remnant of Israel will become the nation Israel in the subsequent kingdom (Zechariah 13:8,9). “And so all Israel [the believing remnant] shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel]: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (Romans 11:26,27).

After Christ’s Second Coming, He will make the New Covenant with Israel, cleansing her of her national sins (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Acts 3:19; Hebrews 8:8-13). Finally, Christ’s earthly kingdom will be established, and today’s Scripture will be fulfilled. Israel will safely dwell in her land (Jeremiah 23:7,8). “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).

A glorious future awaits the world and Israel!

As We Stand Before God Our Saviour

Friday, October 14, 2011

“To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:13 KJV).

Every chapter of 1 Thessalonians concludes with a reference to the rapture, Christ gathering the Church that is His Body (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:17; 5:23). Actually, today’s Scripture describes an event that will occur after the rapture.

Saints, one day (the rapture), the trump of God shall sound and we shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)! After the rapture, we will stand before “the Judgment Seat of Christ.”

The Judgment Seat of Christ is not where we answer for sin, but rather when Jesus Christ evaluates our Christian lives and spiritual maturity. Each of us will give an individual account to the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9,10). Jesus Christ will compare our spiritual maturity (the doctrine we believed) to Paul’s epistles. On this basis, the Lord will give us a role (a position in the government of the heavenly places) (Ephesians 2:6,7).

But, notice Christ’s coming in today’s Scripture is not His coming “for all His saints” (the rapture), but rather with all His saints.” After the spiritual capacities of the members of the Body of Christ have been judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ, Jesus Christ will take us with Him to meet God the Father. Today’s Scripture describes when Jesus Christ will present us to our Father God. Wow!

God the Father will then appoint us to those positions of the heavenly government that Jesus Christ determined at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Remember that our individual roles (offices) are determined by how much sound doctrine we built up in our inner man. This is why dispensational Bible study, “rightly dividing the word of truth,” is so important. We do not want to stand before God “ashamed,” which will SADLY be the case for many Christians because they never studied the Bible God’s way (2 Timothy 2:15).

Not Walking By Sight, Literally

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV).

Two weeks ago Brother “G,” my friend and co-laborer in the Christian writing ministry, suffered a stroke, losing most sight in one eye. Currently, he has greatly limited vision in both eyes (years ago, his other eye suffered a stroke). Last week, after “seeing” my optometrist, I visited Brother G. However, as of three days ago, I have been enduring an eye infection. I am currently typing with sight in just one eye! 🙂

Case in point: in this fallen creation we all have troubles and adversity (they are “common to man”). Sin and its subsequent curse result in our sickness and ultimate death (Romans 5:12; Romans 8:20-22). But, even during sickness, today’s Scripture says we “bear it.” How?

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:22-25).

We Christians are “saved” from despair. While we suffer sickness, we have faith in the hope that, one day, these weak physical bodies will be redeemed and transformed into new glorified bodies (the rapture; 1 Corinthians 15:49-57; Ephesians 4:30; Philippians 3:20,21). Our destination, as members of the Body of Christ, is the heavenly places, where there is neither sin nor suffering.

After “seeing” doctors, Brother G and me still groan in sickness, but we are walking by faith, NOT sight. Literally, we hope in what “we see not.” 🙂

We Shall Not All Sleep

Monday, September 19, 2011

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51,52 KJV).

Save Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), every believer has died physically. Today’s Scripture speaks of a secret (“mystery”) that the Lord did not reveal until He showed it to our Apostle Paul. There is a group of believers who will not experience physical death (“we shall not all sleep”). It will be some members of the Church the Body of Christ.

The Old Testament only spoke of the Lord Jesus Christ as coming to earth to meet believers and set up His kingdom (Job 19:25,26; Zechariah 14:1-4)—this is called the “prophetic program.” But, when we come to Paul’s epistles, God has interrupted that program, split it into two segments of time, and has inserted our “mystery (secret) program” into that gap. Before Jesus Christ can come earth (as prophesied in the prophetic program), He must first conclude our mystery program.

Our mystery program, the Dispensation of Grace, will terminate at an event we call the rapture (derived from the Medieval Latin “raptura,” meaning “caught up”). According to 1 Thessalonians 4:17, all believers of this dispensation will be “caught up…to meet the Lord in the air.” Contrariwise, believers in the prophetic program will meet the Lord on the earth (His Second Coming).

While we do not set dates, the Bible teaches a pre-Tribulation (pre-seven years) rapture. The rapture may or may not occur in our lifetimes. However, we have the prospect that if the Lord Jesus Christ would come now, we Christians would not experience physical death! Our bodies would just be instantly changed, without dying, into glorified bodies fashioned like unto Jesus Christ’s body (Philippians 3:20,21).

If you have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, keep looking up! We may be that group of believers who will not see physical death…. 🙂

This Present Evil World

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

“[Jesus Christ] Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Galatians 1:4,5 KJV).

The world is overwhelmed with violence, corruption, and injustice. How did earth become “this present evil world?”

When God created Adam, He gave him dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26-28). By eating the forbidden fruit, Adam disobeyed God and lost that dominion. Satan then assumed the dominion that Adam had. Now, Satan is “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).

In our Lord’s temptations, Satan shows Christ all the world’s kingdoms and their glory. Satan entices Jesus, “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8). Satan would give the world’s governments to Christ if Christ would worship him—Satan bragged that he had dominion over the earth instead of God!

God’s Word says, “…the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). Christ told Pilate, “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).

Today’s Scripture gives us good news. Christ Jesus “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world.” He died to “deliver us from the power of darkness,” Satan’s evil world system; as Christians, we are now spiritually in “the kingdom of [God’s] dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). At the rapture, Christ will physically deliver us Christians from this evil world.

Furthermore, at His Second Coming, Jesus Christ will return to earth to demolish Satan’s evil world system: its governments, religious organizations, and educational systems. In that day, “the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one” (Zechariah 14:9).

Our planet will not always be “this present evil world.” Stay tuned…. 🙂