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End Times Journey And The Roaring Lion

November 30, 2012
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The context of 1 Peter 5:1-11 has to do with the humility of the believer in light of suffering. Under the banner of humility, believers are encouraged to trust in God. Certain truth statements are made that believers should take as a promise. Taking those truth statements as God’s promise to his children are vitally important to the believer being humble in light of their suffering. So, if a believer doesn’t believe that God cares for them in every way, they’re less likely to bring their big and small troubles to Him in total reliance in Him as a sovereign loving Father. Take it a step further, if we don’t trust that God is for us, then we won’t trust Him to fight our battles. When the Bible says “the battle is the Lord’s” only those who trust God believe and fall back on that truth statement, and therefore they humbly submit to this truth. Those who don’t trust in that truth statement, won’t fall back on God, won’t call upon God, won’t walk with God when suffering comes, and won’t faithfully depend upon God – because they see themselves as the sole provider and protector of their own lives.

But that sole provider and protector mentality falls on its face when verses 8 and 9 come into play in the believer’s life. No matter the martial arts belt, the amount of guns and ammunition, the number of locks on one’s door, the safety precautions taken, or the sheer desire and commitment to walk on egg shells, none of that matters when Satan is seeking someone to devour! We are not powerful enough in and of ourselves to defend against the lion-like prowl of Satan. These two verses don’t depict Satan as some subtle creepy crawling snake, but more so as a ‘here I am’ type of adversary not afraid to inform you of his presence. In these verses you see the bravado of Satan; arrogance. He’s making it known that he’s here to do damage by devouring believers whole. Yet, verse 9 gives us another comforting truth: resist this lion-like beast prowling around! That’s a command, not a suggestion. Not only are we to resist him, we are stand firm in our faith. The faith we ought to have in God comes in handy when we are suffering. This suffering isn’t something unique to us, others before us have suffered. This doesn’t minimize the fact that we’re under attack by Satan under the divine allowance of God, but it does mean that we’re not some special case that is exempt from suffering. Suffering is part and parcel for all believers.

What usually happens with 1 Peter 5:8-9 is that it is hijacked from its context and used to scare believers, which cause us to fear Satan and not resist him. It causes us to be more concerned with the presence of Satan, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, than the present help of God the Spirit. It also causes folks to default into the thinking of premillennialism. Why? Because surely if Satan is prowling around here on earth to where he was thrown down, then that must mean that he’s not physically bound by physical chains in a physical pit. So in a non-sequitor way, folks jump to the premillennial conclusion. But you can’t go from point a to point g all willy nilly! Things must make biblical sense which will make logical sense in the end, whether we agree with the logic or not. Never mind that we can resist him, that’s somehow overlooked. Never mind that we can strap up our full armor and defeat him. All that really matters is that he’s loose…like a boogeyman.

So how does the Amillennial camp deal with this ‘trouble’ passage? Well, I can’t speak for anybody but myself. And to be frankly honest, this passage doesn’t have a thing to do with my end times view. The suffering and alertness spoken of has to do with the life of the believer while here on earth. We face suffering and revel in salvation from it. Verses 10-11 help to explain my position. So after we have suffered for a while, God’s going to do a great work for his people, namely “the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” What an amazing truth bed to lay upon and consider. God will do these great majestic works for believers in light of their suffering.

This isn’t C.S. Lewis’ well loved book about Narnia. This is the enemy seeking to mimic his rival – Jesus. Believers in the end will win thanks to the victory secured by Christ and the work of God done on behalf of believers as He completes what he began. 1 Peter 5 is no threat or support to any end times position as far as I know. Don’t let folks take out their biblical wrench and loosen the nuts and bolts of 1 Peter 5 from verses 8 and 9. Read the epistle faithfully and allow the Holy Spirit to teach you truth that you believe in and hold onto.


My End Times Journey

November 25, 2012
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The doctrine of the last things, of the end times, or of what happens before eternity kicks in is also known as eschatology. It’s often considered a 5 dollar word that really isn’t important enough to study. Ironically many folks will speak of eternity with others in terms of eternal life/eternal death and immortal bodies, but that’s where they stop. I used to be one of those culprits myself =). Once I understood how interlinked the doctrines of the church and salvation are tied to the doctrine of the last things, I realized how vital it is to get a handle on this topic.

Upon learning of this doctrine, I settled into a default mode inherited by the preacher teaching it to me, which is another way to say I took his position because that’s all he taught me. Not to mention that I knew next to nothing about the doctrine in particular, and the Bible as a whole. So I very proudly yet very ignorantly held the dispensational pre-millennial position for about 5 years. Then as I matriculated away from dispensational theology, I was left without direction so I settled with the historical pre-millennial position. Having studied it under a well-known seminary professor in Louisville, I began to see it as a viable position. I also began to see holes in it. As my thirst to know the doctrine of the church intensified, my understanding of the last things became clearer. It’s these holes that left me unsatisfied with my tenable position. And now after some long studying of the Old Testament, Gospels, Daniel, and Revelation, I have arrived upon a position that fills in those holes and makes sense of several doctrines. That position is the a-millennial position and I want to share why I find this position to be the most faithful position in the midst of the views regarding that doctrine.

Kingdom of God

In order to wrap my head around this doctrine, I had to consider the kingdom of God. More importantly, I needed to let Scripture tell me when the kingdom was at hand and when and how it would come to a close. In Matthew we see Jesus telling people that the kingdom was at hand, therefore repent. So in his first coming, Jesus is using kingdom language and specifically saying the kingdom is at hand and is near. If you understand that the kingdom of God began when Jesus first descended upon the earth, then you have to understand that the kingdom will grow and that it will come to a point where the kingdom stops growing and is gathered up.

Most end times positions assert that with Jesus’ second coming, the kingdom of God will come to a close. Granted some differ in the details, but overall the kingdom, a.k.a. church age, ends when Jesus comes back to gather his people and judge the wicked. Gospel accounts like Matthew 13, Mark 13, and Luke 21 are really helpful here to point out how the kingdom ends as angels gather the people of God. So we now know that the kingdom begins in his first coming and ends with his second coming. So what’s going on in between the times? Kingdom growth.

So how does the kingdom grow in light of an adversary prowling around seeking whom he may devour? Here is where the Gospel accounts come into play.

Matthew 12

This chapter starts with Jesus claiming to be Lord of the Sabbath, then he goes to a synagogue and heals a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees conspire against him, Jesus leaves that area and continues to heal people. The final healing was when Jesus healed the blind, mute, demon-oppressed man before he was accused of witchcraft. The legalistic leaders accuse Jesus of casting out demons by the power of demons. Then in verse 29, we read Jesus saying that these healings couldn’t take place unless the demon is bound. [What’s interesting is that the word “bind” in verse 29 is the same as “bind” in Revelation 20]. Once the demon is bound, then Jesus can enter his house and plunder all his goods! In other words, Jesus is saying in response to charges of casting out demons by Beelzebul, he has bound the demon as he is healing these people and declaring himself to the Lord of the Sabbath.

Luke 10

This chapter tells of Jesus sending out 72 folks to go make disciples for the sole purpose of kingdom growth. As they’re coming back to give their accounts to Jesus, in verse 17, they joyously celebrate about seeing the demons submit to them in Jesus’ name. “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” [Imagine being able in the 1st century to actually visibly see demons submit]. Then Jesus replies by saying that while they were out making disciples, he “saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Jesus admits to seeing Satan fall from somewhere, possibly from heaven where he would go to accuse the people of God before God the Father and Jesus. Then he tells them that he’s given them authority over serpents and scorpions, the power of the enemy (Satan), and nothing can hurt them. Now I’m not sure how someone from other end times positions would faithfully preach this section of Luke, but they would have to do some major hermeneutical gymnastics to get around verse 19! As Jesus is sending out disciples to go make disciples, he grants them authority over the enemy and his cohorts. How? He binds the enemy and plunders his goods with the gospel for kingdom growth.

John 12

Upon the triumphal entry, Jesus has healed Lazarus and is teaching, doing his usual. Then in like fashion, Jesus begins to teach about his death. As he’s talking to his Father, his Father responds, and Jesus makes a powerful statement in verses 31-32: “now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” The ruler of this world, the enemy, will be cast out. When? It’ll happen once Jesus is lifted up on that cross. His death casts Satan out. His death on the cross brings judgment on the world and cast Satan out all while drawing all kinds of people to himself.

Revelation 12

Coming from that hardcore literal reading camp, this chapter always presented problems. From verse 7 on, we read about the dragon, the ancient serpent, or Satan, being defeated by Michael and his angels. After the battle, there wasn’t any room for them in heaven. So Satan was thrown down to the earth (v9). And John pens these words: “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”

This is important because most pre-millennial camps find ways to not teach this chapter with the same literal principle they claim to hold to. Satan is defeated and thrown down to earth. We saw similar language in the gospels. It helps us to better understand the hard passages in this chapter.

Revelation 20

This is the main chapter that harbors more disagreement and intrigue than any other in the book. Verse 2 tells of an angel seizing the dragon and binding him for a thousand years. Here is where the question of the millennium comes into play. Satan is captured and bounded, but for how long? Well considering what chapter 12 tells us, I find it hard to believe the 1,000 years to be literal, and you should too. If we consider the kingdom of God within the first and second coming of Jesus, along with Satan being bound as Jesus, and those to whom he gives, has authority over the power of the enemy, then it’s easier to understand that the 1,000 years cannot be literal but do point to the time between Jesus’ first and second coming. As Satan is bound, the kingdom grows.

Satan was bound so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended and then he was released for a bit. In other words, Satan is no longer allowed to deceive the nations because he’s no longer powerful. He’s without his power. And if you’re curious like me, I began to wonder what big event happened that took Satan’s power away. I’m glad you asked. Matthew 4 tells of the temptation of Jesus and how he disarmed Satan by responding faithfully and biblically to every charge presented by the tempter. Satan was so defeated that he left Jesus there in the wilderness. I can almost imagine him running away to pout as he realizes defeat.

So to recap, my Amillennial position on end times focuses on the kingdom of God being started by Jesus’ first coming and  ending with his second coming. In the meantime, Satan is bound, Jesus is plunder his goods and grows the kingdom by commissioning his disciples to make disciples, giving them power over the enemy and his cohorts. And that time between the first and second coming speaks to the 1,000 years referred to in Revelation 20.

 

 


Does The Bible Really Command Us To Read It?

November 24, 2012
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This question is one I’ve never heard asked nor answered. Regardless of how many bibles take center stage on coffee tables, book shelves, or any other random place in a person’s home, the problem of bible illiteracy continues to permeate our country, our churches, and our homes. What’s even more cumbersome is that it seems more atheists read the bible than the deists, even though atheists are reading it to defeat it most believers have very little ability to defend it. Bible reading is but a result of how a person views the bible and the importance of knowing it, but it’s crucial. We can make reading homework crucial in the life of students and reading the fine print of certain documents a must for adults, but we take the Roman Catholic approach when it comes to reading the Word. And my last blog about the printed word has a direct correlation to this blog and the early church when the Roman Catholic popes held the bible as prisoner from the saints in their churches. Sadly it seems that those generations of saints are still living in those days of antiquities all while having several copies of bibles within reach.

To answer this question outright, I’ll say yes the Bible commands us to read it. Without equivocation. It’s commanded directly and inferred indirectly. And I just want to leave you with those texts that convicted me. Enjoy.

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. – Dt 29:29

Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. – Isa 66:1-2

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of coffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. – Psalm 1:1-2

 

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. – Romans 15:4

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. – 2 Tim 3:16-17

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. – 1 Peter 3:14-15

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen – 2 Peter 3:18

Even if these texts don’t convince you that it’s commanded of you to read the Word, let me ask you this: whatever your reason is for not reading the bible may be, do you think it’ll stand before a holy God when you have to give an account? Because I don’t.


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Printing Press and Printed Word

November 18, 2012
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Talk about desirable history and a yearning to learn more. There is one man in particular to whom the world owes more than much. How his invention impacted the world at that time pales in comparison to how his invention still impacts our ever-increasing internet crazed society. I’m talking about Johannes Gutenberg. A resident of Mainz, Germany, Gutenberg invented the printing press with one sole purpose in mind – to put the Bible in printable readable format for Christians to have. Trust me when I say this is no more small matter and is of über importance.

In 1440 Gutenberg created the printing press. This is huge. It was the standard of all printing until the 20th century where we ‘upgraded’ his system. But thanks to his invention, Christians were allowed to read the Bible and no longer be ‘catholicized’ by the popes of their day. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal to us today because there are thousands of publishing avenues available, but that were not the case in the 15th century. He was exiled and later died because of this work.

So why mention this man and his work? Because he paved the way with a heavy weight for countless generations. And God had a huge hand in this divine work for the whole world to reap from. And as Gutenberg wanted believers to be bibliophiles, God wants the same. A bibliophile is someone who loves to read books. This isn’t just about believers loving and reading their Bibles, it’s about appreciating the handiwork of God through a man who most have never heard of, namely Johannes Gutenberg.

Take advantage of this huge slice of grace afforded you by the God and creator of this world.


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A Christian Attitude Towards Succession

November 14, 2012
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Have you been paying attention to the media as they discuss with critique the states talking about leaving the union? It’s now become a consistent dose of nightly news. States want to succeed or so we are told. Some media outlets have even reported that it’s the citizens within these 30+ states who are petitioning a succession. Other media outlets have thrown their 2 cents into the ring as well. Some call it treason and others call it a must. Not surprising is the political parties influence on those labels and petitions that are rumored to be in circulation.

But how should Christians think about succession? I do understand that Christians are found in both of the main political parties, but I also understand that the Bible says we are pilgrims here on earth looking forward to our hope in Christ when he returns to restore this world to a new and better Eden.

We should think about succession with an informed mind from the book of 1 Peter. In chapter 2, we get an answer that stands the test of time whether your party wins or not, whether they improve things or not, whether they look promising or not, and whether they share your values and morals or not.  

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

I Peter 2:13-17 is key to how we view states, even our own beloved states, wanting succession. But first it’s of great importance we don’t confuse the Constitutional rights given to states with our feelings. I for one don’t like the fact that so many are wanting to leave the union solely because their candidate didn’t win. Talks of succession didn’t occur 4 years ago nor 2 years ago. Granted our President hadn’t shown us all of his varied stripes, we’re still bound to the word of God.

Our first attitude must be submission as unto the Lord. God put the human institution of government into place for his own glorious purpose, so we are commanded to submit. We ought to submit to the ones in authority and those dispatched by the ones in authority.

Our second attitude must be to understand the role of this human institution. God put them in place to punish evildoers and praise those who do right by the institution. As the institution sets to unjustly punish those who do evil, we submit. And as they set to unfairly praise those who do right, we submit. Our attitude is submission. I’m not emphasizing that we go away into the darkness quiet, but I am saying if we don’t submit and seek to submit, then we’re in sin.

Our third attitude must be to honor God in such a way to silence fools. Foolish men are ignorant. Most are ignorant by choice because they choose to be foolish instead of wise. We deal with them as ones to be pitied but not disrespected. We carry ourselves in a God honoring way among them. How do we do that? We live as free men who won’t use that God-given freedom to cover our evil actions.

Our fourth and final attitude must be to obey the last verse of this passage. Honor all people of this world. Love the brotherhood of all saints in this world. Fear the God of this world. Honor the king (or president) of your country.

A state has rights to succeed from the union, but that doesn’t mean we push for it. We push for obedience as we are obedient children of the Creator of this world who sets up kings and tears down their kingdoms. We live in light of what Christ accomplished 3 days after Golgotha. We submit to the governmental authorities even if our states leave. And we do this for the Lord’s sake. Let us be faithful


What I Believe About The Bible

November 4, 2012
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As I’ve studied and grew in the grace and knowledge of my Lord Jesus and the inspired book, the Bible, I’ve come to see the Christian Bible and the Christian life as simple. So simple that I’ve decided to create my own statement to describe both, and I wanted to share it with you

I believe the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, to be full of indicatives and imperatives, where the Christian is called and compelled to live in light of what God predetermined, Jesus accomplished, and the Spirit enables.

Therefore, grammar is essential. Indicatives are imperatives not only fill our bibles, but they fill tons of other books we may read. They also fall out of the mouths of parents everywhere. For example, to hear someone say, Jesus died for your sins is an example of an indicative. Hearing someone say, repent and believe in Jesus is an imperative.

Because of indicatives and imperatives, the Christian lives a life relying upon what Jesus did and looking forward to what Jesus will do. Not just Jesus, the work of the Trinity. We are new creatures living in righteousness waiting for our perfected bodies for eternity because of the Trinity.


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