Graduated!

Monday, August 21, 2017

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13 KJV).

Death is never easy, but the death of a Christian is easier. It is somewhat easier when an aged person dies, but a young person’s decease is quite difficult. Yet, if that young person was “in Christ,” that death is easier to bear.

Recently, an online friend passed on to Heaven after a long battle with cancer. She was only 18 years old. Even though she suffered much, she was a strong testimony for God’s grace. As her friends struggled with trying to reconcile how God could let His saint grow so horrifically ill, she reminded them that, while Father God has redeemed our souls, He has yet to redeem our bodies from sin’s curse. A firm foundation in the Bible rightly divided caused her to rejoice even in the midst of great trouble. While we are secure in Christ, there is no guarantee we will meet our Lord without first experiencing unspeakable bodily infirmities. An aged ministry coworker just told me his aching body was “falling apart.”

I just read the obituary of a dear saint whose Bible studies benefited me. The article was certainly written from the grace perspective. It began by saying that the brother “‘graduated’ on… to be with his Lord whom he loved and served so faithfully.” He was an evangelist for 40 years: “He loved preaching in Rescue Missions, proclaiming the Gospel of the Grace of God to the lost. His passion in life was leading people to Christ and encouraging the body of Christ.” After preaching the Gospel for so long, he at last experienced its hope. Doubtless, he is still enjoying the Lord’s presence all these years later!

Yes, we sorrow, but we sorrow not as those which have no hope. We have a sure expectation that our loved ones in Christ are not lost forever. Father God has them in His loving care, and we will see them (and Him) in His own time. There will be an endless eternity to fellowship with them around the Word of God. For now, dear brethren, we must remember that they want us to continue being ambassadors for Christ down here! 🙂

Not Worthy

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 KJV).

What hope in such a hopeless world!

Our world abounds with sickness, suffering, and death. My family recently learned a relative has been diagnosed with malignant (and terminal) brain cancer. Another relative’s great-granddaughter, age 2, just died of a defective lung. I have an online teenage friend whose cancer has returned. One elderly sister in Christ, after suffering bronchitis for days, has now developed pneumonia. Her husband suffered internal bleeding—losing half of his body’s volume!—and nearly died weeks ago. An elderly neighbor has bronchitis (which may turn to pneumonia). Another elderly neighbor died of pneumonia weeks back. Horrible!

Physical sickness and resulting death undoubtedly make this fallen creation most painful. While we should take care of our bodies, they are only temporary. No matter how much we diet or exercise, or take medications, we all have to die of something eventually (mostly true). That parenthetical statement is very important, for surely there will be a group of Christians living when Jesus Christ comes at the Rapture to take His Body to Heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:15,17). They will never, ever see death: their bodies will simply be transformed. We may be that generation of Christians—or, maybe not. I know of many Christians who have been waiting for 40 or 50 years, and they, because of advanced age, may very well go the way of death if the Lord tarries much longer. (We may find ourselves there in the coming decades.)

Remember, brethren, every day of the Dispensation of Grace holds back the wrath of God from being poured out on our world. There has been nearly 2000 years of God offering His grace, and yes, that grace will have to be withdrawn someday. Let us not be selfish. Lost souls still need to be saved in Christ before that righteous judgment comes. The only way this is possible is if God extends the curse another day, postpones the Second Coming of Christ for another day, delays that earthly kingdom of healing and restoration another day. Deliverance will come, but there are more important things on God’s schedule at the moment.:)

Crown of Thorns

Thursday, May 11, 2017

And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,…. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! (John 19:2,5 KJV).

Why was the crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus Christ?

Throughout the Bible, man functions as a free agent. He is not a puppet, God controlling His every thought and movement. Rather, man does just about anything he wants—God permitting, of course. At times, God has selected an event in someone’s life, and made a note of it in His Book. While the performer is often unaware of the spiritual truth expressed by the deed, God will record it in order to convey that information to the reader. For example, take today’s Scripture. What can we glean from it?

God’s Word refers to the “crown of thorns” on four occasions. Two instances are found in today’s Scripture. The other two are in Matthew and Mark; notice these parallel verses. Matthew 27:29: “And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!” Mark 15:17: “And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head,….” The soldiers braided thorny branches to form a crown, and then jammed it on and into Christ’s scalp. They intended it as degradation and torture. However, God the Holy Spirit documented it to provide us a glimpse of why Jesus Christ came to Earth at all

It always does us well to remember “the law of first mention” when studying Scripture—the first occurrence sets the Bible’s tone about a particular subject. Thorns first appear in Scripture immediately after Adam’s fall into sin. Genesis 3:18 says: Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;….” Why did the Lord Jesus wear the crown of thorns? For all the crowds to see that He bore the curse of sin for you and me!

Sin = Death = Not Long Enough

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12 KJV).

A woman, commenting on her husband’s recent death, said they had been married 40 years, adding, “But it was not long enough. We could have gone another 20.” This dear lady, widowed and heartbroken, is just another victim of this sin-cursed world!

People who do not understand Bible truths try in vain to reconcile how a “loving” God can let life end in death. I remember one non-Christian lady asking after her father’s death, “What is the purpose of living if you die?” Friends, death is a thief. One spends his or her whole life amassing relationships, wealth, prestige, education, beauty, fame, and so on. Nevertheless, death will snatch it all away one day. Whether it takes a few decades or over a century, sin eventually produces death, and death instantaneously causes poverty. Professor and plowboy alike cannot escape death! Pope/preacher/priest and parishioner will all be placed in a casket! Prince and pauper alike go the grave! President and populace all wind up in the cemetery!

Today’s Scripture says this is the result of Adam’s sin, and certainly not in God’s design. Sin entered the world by one man—Adam. God did not initiate sin; Adam did. The Bible says death entered the world by sin. Wherever we find sin, we find death. Wherever we find death, we find sin. Until the Lord returns, that will always be a fact of life. In the meantime, we have the hope that physical death is not the end. For us in Christ, we have the assurance of eternal life now. Though our Christian loved ones have gone to heaven, they are still very much alive, to be seen again. The countless ages we will spend with them with our Saviour are infinitesimally longer than the few moments of our current separation.

Though “the wages of sin is death,” “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “Not long enough” because of sin does not compare to eternal life because of Jesus Christ our Lord! 🙂

To See the Invisible Hope #5

Monday, November 7, 2016

“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 which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:22-25 KJV).

How do we see the hope that cannot be seen?

When today’s Scripture says, “We are saved by hope,” this certainly does not mean, “We hope we are good enough to go to heaven when we die.” No, that is not Christianity—that is vain religion masquerading as Christianity! When we come by simple faith in Jesus Christ dying to pay for our sins, His burial to put away our sins, and His resurrection to give us a right standing before God, then we are just as sure of going to heaven as if we were already there with the door locked behind us!

To be “saved by hope” is not referring to being saved into heaven, or being declared righteous before God. It means, “delivered from misery and depression.” If all “life” was was this brief time before death, existence in a sin-cursed world filled with evil and suffering, we would have every reason in the world to feel depressed beyond words. As Paul said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). We would be most miserableindeed! In fact, the Corinthians, who were denying bodily resurrection, had robbed themselves of such Christian joy.

Thankfully, brethren, we are not trapped in these limited, weakening bodies forever. As we would change clothes, God will take these earthly bodies and exchange them for heavenly bodies (see 1 Corinthians 15:36-58; 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8). We will then share in Jesus Christ’s glorification in the heavenly places forever (Romans 8:18-25). Let us take our stand by faith in these simple truths, thereby letting us “see the invisible hope,” until we see the hope we cannot see! 🙂

To See the Invisible Hope #4

Sunday, November 6, 2016

“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 which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:22-25 KJV).

How do we see the hope that cannot be seen?

“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 4:18). This is certainly an unusual exhortation—“look not at the things which are seen, but [look] at the things which are not seen.” What is one of the things we should look at today, which cannot be seen? It would be the first eight verses of chapter 5, which are an explanation of the context of today’s Scripture (Romans 8:18-25).

At the head of its great “Hall of Faith” chapter, the Bible says in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (And then, the writer lists dozens of names of believers from ancient Bible days.) When we hope for something, we cannot see it with the physical eyes. But, we assume it is coming. It may or may not come. However, when the Bible speaks of hope, it does not mean, “I sure hope it comes.” “Hope” in today’s Scripture, as well as in Hebrews 11:1, is a “confident waiting.” As today’s Scripture says, “we with patience wait for it.” The day of the resurrection of us Christians is coming, the Rapture is imminent, but we must not rush it.

While we cannot physically see our glorified bodies today, while they do not exist today, God’s Word plainly declares they will exist and we will indwell them. We just believe those verses, counting them as true (for they are true), and that hope delivers us from misery and depression….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “‘Epistle’ and ‘letter’—same or different?

To See the Invisible Hope #3

Saturday, November 5, 2016

“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 which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:22-25 KJV).

How do we see the hope that cannot be seen?

What Paul only mentions briefly in today’s Scripture, he provides great detail in Second Corinthians.

Chapter 4: “[16] …[B]ut though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. [17] For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; [18] 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.

Now, chapter 5: “[1] 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] For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: [3] If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. [4] For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. [5] Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. [6] Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: [7] (For we walk by faith, not by sight: ) [8] We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

Rather than using physical eyes, we employ the eyes of faith….