A Papal Prophecy? #13

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

“And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time” (2 Thessalonians 2:6 KJV).

The recent resignation of Benedict XVI as pope is being greatly discussed within “Christian” circles in light of eschatology. Are we seeing Bible prophecy fulfilled today, or is this simply the (usual) failure to “rightly divide the word of truth?”

This is (deliberately) the thirteenth and final study of this devotional arc: the number 13 in Scripture symbolizes rebellion (Genesis 14:4), and the antichrist is the epitome of Satan’s evil policy aimed at rebelling against God.

In these past one-dozen studies, we have studied the Holy Scriptures to briefly introduce the antichrist. You should have a better understanding of who he is and what role he plays in God’s dealings with mankind, particularly with Israel.

We leave you with some final thoughts.

  • Scripture never provides any dates or time frames for God’s dealings with us in the Dispensation of Grace. Contrariwise, the Bible does provide time frames for Israel’s program: regarding prophecy, the seven-year Tribulation is the concluding “week” (seven-year period) of a larger 490-year (70-week) period of time God deals with the nation Israel (Daniel 9:24-27). This further proves we, the Church the Body of Christ, cannot and will not experience the seven-year Tribulation.
  • This world is certainly preparing for the antichrist via false teaching, ecumenism (once-antagonistic denominations uniting), religious pluralism (uniting world religions), and increased technology and mass communication. However, the scriptural record is silent about papal resignations: Benedict XVI’s resignation is not Bible prophecy. Nevertheless, it does expose the dire condition—the scandals, perplexity, and desperation—of professing Christianity.
  • The rapture will occur at any time, so we cannot and should not set dates. However, you need to be ready for it! Jesus Christ died for your sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day to give you His life when you trust Him alone as your personal Saviour. Trust Him alone today, and in due time, you will be raptured out with the rest of the Church the Body of Christ, before the awful seven-year Tribulation begins, and before the antichrist is revealed.

Something Not Worth Losing

Sunday, February 3, 2013

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26 KJV).

Super Bowl Sunday comes annually in the United States. Teams fuel the intense passions in the athletic world by vying for a corruptible trophy. Howbeit, the competition in today’s Scripture is spiritual, is worldwide, never has a halftime, and involves the eternal souls of men!

The human soul is most zealous about religion, politics, and sports. These areas are most personal, so they generate many heated debates and conflicts. However, believe it or not, there are worse outcomes than losing a church member, losing an election, and losing a game. Losing your eternal soul is the greatest of all losses!

In the context of today’s Scripture, Jesus Christ told His Jewish disciples to “take up [their] cross, and follow [him]” (verse 24). “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (verse 25). They should not fear losing their earthly lives for His sake. What is most important is that they not lose their souls!

Jesus Christ declared there is more to life than this physical world and its temporal possessions. There is a spiritual world—an afterlife—to consider. In today’s Scripture, He asks them, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Does it make sense to emphasize this temporary world and its corruptible goods, to the point of ignoring your eternal soul, and wind up losing it in hellfire forever and ever?

Dear reader, there is more to you than just your physical body. Your inner man—your soul, your spiritual body—is everlasting. To ignore Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for your sins, is to remain dead in those sins, resulting in you spending eternity suffering God’s wrath in the lake of fire literally as a nameless, hopeless, disfigured creature.

Your soul is not worth losing! Trust Christ as your personal Saviour today!

Tabernacle

Friday, November 9, 2012

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

This body of flesh and blood will be “dissolved” one day, but the Bible teaches a new, glorified body will replace it.

Genesis 2:7 describes the three-fold division of a human: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground [physical body], and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [spirit]; and man became a living soul [soul].” Our visible, physical body houses our invisible soul and spirit. Originally, that physical body was to last forever. But, when sin entered the world, it became subject to death (when the soul and spirit leave the physical body). Hence, our physical body is a “tabernacle” (tent), a temporary abode that must be resurrected one day.

The oldest Bible book asserts, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms [maggots] destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God;” (Job 19:25,26). Yes, short of the Lord’s coming, this physical body will die and “sleep in the dust of the earth” (Daniel 12:2). Nevertheless, the Lord will awaken its remains, and return the spiritual body to it (the bodily resurrection of John 5:28,29).

When we stand before the caskets of Christian loved ones, and observe their lifeless bodies, we take comfort that they are not really there, for their soul and spirit are with God in the third heaven. Their “tabernacle” is empty, and for the Christian, “to be absent from the body, [is] to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). At the rapture, they will receive a new glorified body like unto Jesus Christ’s resurrected body, and then we Christians who are alive and remain will receive our glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:49-56; Philippians 3:20,21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Finally, all Christians will be caught up in the clouds to meet Christ in the air, to forever be with Him.

This body is not here to stay…. it is a “tabernacle.”

Blink

Thursday, November 8, 2012

“Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good. They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey” (Job 9:25,26 KJV).

Our earthly sojourn is extremely brief, so let us plan ahead for our eternal destination.

Considering the recent and extremely sudden passing of a third Christian family friend within less than one month’s time, we remember this earthly life is very brief. Dear readers, none of us is promised a single day—let alone decades—of earthly life. Life is so fragile. At any moment, even the slightest threat (sickness, stress, et cetera) can instantly extinguish it.

Compared to the eons of eternity, this earthly life is like a blink of the eye, one small grain among innumerable sand particles. In today’s Scripture, Job declares his earthly life is “swifter than a post [footman soldier/guard],” “passed away as the swift ships,” expiring as quickly as the eagle swoops to grasp its prey. “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14bc).

But, there is more than this earthly life. As one Christian brother once expressed it, “Eternity keeps you where death finds you.” There is an eternity after physical death to consider—forever and ever and ever and ever, life either in heaven or hell. Are you, dear reader, ready for the life hereafter? We who have trusted in Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins, have a hope that once this life ends, our life will continue in heaven’s bliss (this, thankfully, is the testimony of that now-departed friend).

However, the Bible says that those who physically die in their sins will live in torment forever, experiencing the second (or, spiritual) death, “the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone [sulfur]” (Revelation 21:8). Have you ever trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, that He died for your sins, was buried, and raised again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3,4)? If not, hell is your destiny after death. Trust Jesus Christ alone today, before it is too late—hell is only one blink away!

-IN MEMORIAM-
Mr. R. J. L.
September 29, 1948 – November 7, 2012

A Burdened Musician

Thursday, October 25, 2012

“That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart” (Romans 9:2 KJV).

With the passing of another saint I knew personally, we remind ourselves that our family and friends need to hear from our lips the salvation found only in Jesus Christ.

Mr. Hadley Castille, a world-renowned Cajun fiddler, passed away earlier today at age 79, not too far from my home. A few years back, when we had our newspaper ministry, he read and enjoyed our Bible study columns. The last couple of months of his life, he battled brain cancer, and I was privileged to recently visit him in a rest home and minister to him and his wife.

During his last few days alive, Mr. Castille had such a burden for his lost friends, two of whom were visiting him the same day I was there. He expressed his grief to me that he wanted to tell them how to go to heaven, but he was unsure of where to begin and what to say exactly. I gave him gospel tracts, and suggested that he simply give those to them when they approached his bedside.

Those two friends and I shook hands, and then they went to Mr. Castille’s bedside. I heard the urgency in the dear man’s voice as he softly stated, “I want you to go to heaven with me.” Nevertheless, these two friends—both in bondage to world religions—refused the gospel tracts he offered them. One reassured us that his pagan religion would certainly get him to heaven, and the other friend preferred not to have a “theological discussion.”

In today’s Scripture, even the Apostle Paul sorrowed that his fellow Jews were lost and going to hell (cf. Romans 10:1-3). He preached that he “might save some of them” (Romans 11:14). Saints, we should be burdened to share the Gospel of God’s Grace with everyone we know and meet. After all, even those currently suffering in hellfire, have an intense desire that their living loved ones do not come and meet them in that awful place of torment (Luke 16:27,28).

Let us be burdened, just as that musician….

-IN MEMORIAM-
Mr. Hadley J. Castille
(March 3, 1933 – October 25, 2012)

Prelude

Thursday, July 19, 2012

“My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass” (Psalm 102:11 KJV).

This earthly life is brief, but it is a prelude of the life to come, so be sure to use your time wisely for God’s glory.

Even from conception, death works in us to end our physical life. As the psalmist wrote in today’s Scripture, “My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.” Because of the motion of the light source and/or the illuminated object, a shadow eventually grows smaller and smaller: it “declineth.” Our earthly life ends like grass “withereth” (fades away). James wrote, “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (4:14bc). A “vapour” is a gas that can either become a solid or liquid: it ultimately “vanisheth away” (disappears).

Indeed, this earthly life will fade, but our souls will continue to exist. Prepare! What we do in this earthly life with God’s Word will impact our eternity. Lost people can place their faith in Paul’s Gospel—Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary—as sufficient payment for their sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), and go to heaven, or they can reject it and go to hell. We Christians can study and believe sound (dispensational) Bible doctrine, so we can be equipped to function in the heavenly places for God’s glory, or we can ignore it and be unfit for God’s use.

Paul wrote, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man [physical body] perish [die], yet the inward man [spiritual body] is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

This earthly life is but a prelude of “the ages to come:” by faith, look at the unseen future, and prepare for eternity!

Our Kinsmen According to the Flesh

Sunday, June 3, 2012

“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:” (Romans 9:1-3 KJV).

Sharing Jesus Christ with lost (unsaved) strangers is difficult. We need to tell them of their impending eternal doom and of the salvation in Christ, but we sometimes keep quiet, fearing ridicule and rejection. However, telling our own family about Christ is tougher….

In today’s Scripture, our Apostle Paul begins three chapters—Romans chapters 9-11—that discuss Israel’s past, present, and future statuses. Israel once had a special position before God (Romans 9:4,5). When Paul wrote today’s Scripture, God had already begun to set Israel and her program aside: Israel’s “diminishing” occurred between Acts chapters 7 and 28. Today, in this the Dispensation of Grace, Israel is temporarily spiritually “blinded” and “fallen” (Romans 11:11,12,25).

Compare today’s Scripture with Romans 10:1-3: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

Oh, how Jewish Paul grieved for lost (hell-bound) Israel, who ignored Christ’s finished crosswork (“the righteousness of God;” Romans 10:3 cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21)! They disregarded Paul’s Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). They rejected Christ’s bloodshed, death, burial, and resurrection, and emphasized “their own righteousness” (doing religious works, hoping to obtain salvation, but actually heading for eternal damnation). How we grieve for our family members who are equally religious (and equally lost)!!!

Paul preached Jesus Christ “that he might save some of them [Jews, his kinsmen according to the flesh]” (Romans 11:14). Be not discouraged! We will not save all of our family members. Nevertheless, we BOLDLY preach, for “some” “of [our] kinsmen according to the flesh” will trust Christ alone and be saved.