A New Heaven and a New Earth…

In studying the Book of Revelation, it is always wonderful to get near the end of the book… because as we enter chapters 21 and chapters 22… we see that one day sin will be eliminated and the Saints in Christ Jesus will have eternal peace and joy with our Savior… and we see that pictured for us in Revelation 21:1 which reads:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. A new heaven and a new earth… and as you read on, a new Jerusalem… all things made new.

However, prior to getting to those chapters, one needs to progress through the chapters before them to get a true appreciation of how terrible it is going to get and what we have been redeemed from.

For example, it is going to get so bad in the “latter days” in heaven and on earth that we read in Revelation 12:7… And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war… probably at about the middle of the tribulation time… around the time of the “Abomination of Desolations” spoken of by Daniel the prophet and Jesus our Lord… there is going to be an actual war in heaven! Incredible!

But, Satan and his minions are no match for Michael and his angels… and then we read one of my favorite verses in the bible… Revelation 12:9… And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.  Satan will once and for all be cast eternally out from heaven. That is very encouraging to me.

I do not know why God allows Satan access into heaven today… but from Job 1 and we know that he does have access… not unlimited access, but access nonetheless… and he gives reports and accusations to God about us. But, his days are numbered and he is quickly running out of time… and I am so grateful that we have our advocate, the Lord Jesus in our corner to counter Satan’s accusations.

As I stated, I do not know why precisely, God allows that old dragon access into heaven… but this I absolutely do know: wherever that old serpent goes, he makes a mess… he is a mess maker, that’s what he does.

So, I began wondering one day about Revelation 21… I understand why God needs to create a new earth and a new Jerusalem… Satan has made a truly awful mess of things down here… but why does God create a new heaven? And I think the answer is found in Revelation 21:7 which reads, concerning the new Jerusalem, but I believe can and should be applied to the new earth and heaven as well… God says, through John the Revelator:

and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

You see, when all that redeemable on earth have been born-again into eternity with God through the blood sacrifice of Christ on the cross… and God is going to restore things to their Garden of Eden state for eternity… He has to do that with heaven as well… because Satan has been allowed access to heaven… sin entered into heaven and made a mess of things… and that has to be cleaned up just as the earth and Jerusalem needs to be made new. Nothing unclean or abominable will be allowed there.

And that is wonderful news… because at that time… the Lord tells us in Revelation21:4:

and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.

And that is truly something to rejoice about. One day, this worlds sorrow and pain will be eternally replaced! Keep looking up Saints!!

 

Gaslighting and Deepfake or The Time of the Signs…

These are indeed interesting times in which to live. For 35 years, I have been studying God’s word. For 35 years, I’ve been looking for the Lord Jesus to return for His church. During all that time, I’ve studied in great detail the things concerning the “Latter Days.” Watching detail after detail being prophetically aligned for His return… just as we are told it would in God’s word.

One of the things that has always been of interest to me is the words that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, who thought that the rapture of the church had taken place and they were left behind… to them Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:3… Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction… 

So, there will be an apostasy that will occur before the rapture of the church and the revealing of the Antichrist- the man of lawlessness. Apostasy means a falling away from the truth- the church is going to fall away from the truth that it has followed for centuries… and that is concerning to me. I’ve prayed often, “Lord, don’t allow me to be deceived.”

Interestingly, when the disciples of Jesus asked Him concerning the sign of His coming… the first thing He replies to them in Matthew 24:4 is… And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.” (NKJV)

There are a couple of terms that are used today, that weren’t around when I was a boy. The first is: Gaslightingit is a phrase taken from a 1940’s movie and it is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity (that is the plot of the movie).

The second is Deepfake, this is a technique for human image synthesis based on artificial intelligence. It is used to combine and superimpose existing images and videos onto source images or videos using a machine learning technique known as generative adversarial network. The phrase “deepfake” was coined in 2017.

Gaslighting and Deepfake are methods that media, politicians and governments are employing to deceive the public… to get them to believe something that is not true. I believe that it is literally happening all around us… we are being fed lies for truth.

The Apostle Paul and the Lord Jesus warned us not to be deceived. So, how do we avoid being deceived? By trusting and staying in God’s word, that’s how. It is the only way.

Jesus, when praying for the disciples (as well as for you and I) just before His crucifixion prayed in John 17:17… Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

And we know in Psalm 119:89 that it is said… Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.

And Paul famously told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17… All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Saints! Don’t be Gaslighted or Deepfaked! Jesus is coming! Stay true to His word, it is all we need!

 

Just passing through…

 

For the past few months, I’ve been studying the Book of Revelation… and this past week I found myself in Revelation 12:7-12

This is one of my favorite sections of the Bible. This is the section where the reader is told that Satan is cast out of heaven for all time… right now he and his fallen angels have access to heaven, where he is accusing us before God day and night… and we’ve seen biblically what that looks like in Job 1.

In this section of Revelation… we are told that there is a war going on in heaven during the Great and Terrible time of the Tribulation. Now, this is not new. There has been war between heaven and Satan since God declared war on Satan in Genesis 3:15.

But when Satan is cast out of heaven in Revelation 12:9… as we read… And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Satan and all is henchmen are confined to earth… to wreck havoc on humanity… for we read in:

Revelation 12:12… For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.

And it was in this verse… a verse that I have read and studied scores of time… that the Lord brought something to my attention that I had never seen before… and that is what I’d like to share with you today.

As, I stated earlier, Satan has been at war with humanity since the Garden of Eden… but clearly something is different about this time, when Satan is cast out of heaven… So, I asked the Lord… what has happened to bring out Satan’s Woe upon the earth?

When I asked that question, I was drawn to the first part of Revelation 12:9…For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. I thought to myself… hey, we will be in heaven- the Church, during this time! We won’t experience this wrath of Satan…

Then I was reminded of a verse… Ephesians 2:2… in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

Satan is the prince of the power of the air. And the Lord, spoke quietly to my heart… Bryan, it’s the Rapture of the Church that sets off this woe… the Church being translated into the clouds to be with Jesus… Satan is going to see that, and know that all his attempts to undermine God’s plan of redemption have failed and his time is very short…  and all the wrath he possesses will be poured out upon the earth!

Wow. When that thought occurred to me, I was just so excited! I hope to get a glimpse of that ol’ snakes face (the shock and awe) as we pass through on our way to the Lord Jesus.

Emptied Himself…

Recently, I was leading a bible study. We were studying the Gospel of John and found ourselves in chapter four. There, Jesus and His disciples are enroute to the Galilee area from down around Jerusalem… and Jesus went into Samaria and met a woman at a well. We are told there in John 4:6 in part… So, Jesus being wearied from His journey…

This is important to note. Jesus got tired… we also know from other places in Scripture that He got thirsty… and was tempted. In short, Jesus demonstrated all the traits of humanity… except sin.

Duh, you might say… He’s Jesus… fully man and fully God… so what’s the big deal?

That verse in John 4:6 led me to Philippians 2:5-7… Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

That phrase “emptied Himself” is the Greek word: Kenosis and from that we what in theology is known as the Kenosis Doctrine.

In short, this doctrine asks: What exactly did Jesus empty Himself of to come to earth?

He did not empty Himself of His deity.. no, He came to the earth fully God and fully man… “God with us” as Isaiah 7:14 tells us. So, what did He empty Himself of exactly?

Well, He emptied Himself of :

  1. His heavenly glory. Again, as Isaiah 53:2 says in part… He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him…
  2. His independent authority. As we are told in John 5:19… Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.
  3. His divine prerogative, to allow Himself to be led by the Holy Spirit. Dr. Luke tells us in Luke 4:1…Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness .
  4.  Eternal riches of heaven. Again, Dr. Luke records for us the words of Jesus in Luke 9:58… And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head…
  5. He emptied Himself of His favorable position with Father God, taking on God’s wrath for us on the cross… for we read in Matthew 27:46… About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Jesus did this so that in all things of His life, He would be aligned to the Father’s perfect will. In a real sense, He could not do any of His earthly miracles, unless it was the Father’s will. That is why we see Him praying before miracles as in feeding the 5000 in Matthew 14:18-19… we see Him praying early in the morning, before others had risen in… to begin His day aligned with the Father in Mark 1:35 and it was how He ended His day as we see in Matthew 14:23.

And His public ministry began with that perfect alignment as we are told in Luke 3:21-22.

He also emptied Himself to show the world what it looks like to live a human life pleasing to the Father… which is why Jesus is our example. Our perfect example on how to live every aspect of our lives… as we are reminded in 1 Peter 2:21… For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.

The Kenosis Docterine. It is key to understanding  Jesus love for the Father and His love for us… and why as a Christian, we have such a dear and personal relationship with our Savior… because as Hebrews 4:15 tells us… For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus knows what we are going through down here and has compassion on us. What a beautiful Redeemer… and all because of Kenosis… for us.

Thankful and Grateful for July 4, 1776…

Freedom is a blessing!

243 years ago, a bunch of men (and women- I love Betsy Ross’s flag)… took it upon themselves to become free from the tyranny of a king, thousands of miles away. They yearned to be independent and free from the law of others… taking the bold action of forming these United States of America- at great sacrifice. I am thankful and grateful for that.

A little over 71 years ago… a people dispersed and persecuted throughout the world… made a bold stand and declared their sovereignty in the world and in fulfillment of Isaiah 66:8… Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons. Israel on May 14, 1948 once again became a free people- and they did it at great sacrifice (Immediately after declaring independence, they were attacked by their Arab neighbors.)

As great and significant as both those events are… they pale in comparison to what Jesus did for all humanity 2000 years ago on the cross! John 3:16 says: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

That occurred at great sacrifice as well… for Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:18-19… knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

So, no matter what flag you are born under… regardless of the political system you find yourself subject to… in Christ Jesus, you are free! Free from sin… free from fear of death… free of the chains of this world and the liar (Satan) who would bind you.

Because we are told by the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:1 (Kenneth Wuest- Greek Translator translation) Therefore, now, there is not even one bit of condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

So, on this Independence Day holiday… be grateful and be thankful… we are free indeed… and that freedom was bought at a great price! Amen.

Surrender all…

Recently I attended a multi church night of worship in our local area. These were churches of various denominations and when I got there it was upheld as a ecumenical service (promoting or tending toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation.)

I support churches tearing down man-made barriers to Jesus’ church. Jesus didn’t establish denominations. Man did. Jesus didn’t promote a “Book of Prayer” or a “Catechism”… man has done that. What I would like to see and be a part of is a church that believes, trusts and lives out God’s divinely inspired, inerrant word. To be born-again and love and serve Jesus, the hero of the Holy scriptures. I truly enjoyed being with other believers and followers of Jesus- it was a good night.

The theme for the night was “Surrender all.” And there were a couple of speakers who spoke to this… and unfortunately for me, it was “Bible light.” But the emphasis was on “not giving the Lord just a part of our lives, say Sunday mornings, for example… but keeping Friday nights for myself.”

But, what I’ve noticed in listening to different teachers… and various denominations, is that they seem to leave out the part about how to have a relationship with Jesus in the first place. It seems that many in the church are promoting getting close to Jesus… having Jesus as your friend, your pal to help get you through the difficulties of this life… a relational experience with Jesus. But I don’t hear much about how to begin that relationship.

That has been weighing on my heart lately. Because there is a reason Jesus went to the cross and died (and it wasn’t so we could wear some cool neck jewelry.)

The reason Jesus went to the cross- for humanity… is because we are sinners separated from God because of that sin. It seems that fewer and fewer “teachers” want to speak to people about being a sinner. But that is where the relationship begins. We need to know that we are sinners and that Jesus died so that we could repent and trust in His sacrifice on the cross to forgive us of that sin, so that we can then be sealed by the Holy Spirit… and begin to have a relationship with the One Who loves us so much, that He would die for us.

This is what Jesus said, just before ascending to heaven to be at the right hand of the Father… He said in:

Luke 24:46-47… and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

As Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3… “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 

So, I surrender all to Jesus… and I hope that you do as well- for He is worthy of our love, praise, honor and obedience… but to do so, you must know that you are a sinner in need of saving. And that is why Jesus came to this planet 2000 years ago.

And if you truly want a fruitful relationship with Jesus, you need to be proclaiming that message… until Jesus returns for His church (the one without denominations and extra biblical literature.)

A Great Multitude…

There is coming a time, that the Bible speaks a great deal about. It is a seven year period of time that is described as the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation. It is a time of judgment. The Lamb- King Jesus… will during that time unleash seven seal, trumpet and bowl judgments upon a sinful and rebellious world, led by the Anti-Christ.

However, if all God wanted, was to inflict judgment upon the world… He could just do that in a moment of time… in fact, when one gets to Revelation 19 they see that when Jesus does come back to earth the second time… and the Antichrist is waging war against Jesus… you read Jesus in short order will seize him, the false prophet and Satan and throws them into the Lake of Fire… it will not be a prolonged war, with the outcome in doubt… no, when Jesus comes back, He will set things in proper order in the world in a short time.

So truly, I believe that one of the reasons that the Tribulation is seven years is because … God has those “saints” that will believe and trust in Christ… set apart for Him. God is very interested in redemption… and He is long suffering, desiring that none should perish… as we are told in 2 Peter 3:9… God’s desire is that none should be eternally separated from Him.

Which brings this blog post to Revelation 7:9-17… this chapter in the revealing of what will happen in a time to come… is a pause in the seal judgments being released by the Lord Jesus.

And we read in this pause of judgement Revelation 7:9… After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;

A elder in heaven identifies who this great multitude is… we read in Revelation 7: 14… These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Even though much of the “Great Tribulation” period is directly related to Israel- its people and nation… you can not read Revelation without developing a global outlook… with judgments coming upon a sinful and fallen world… but also understanding what God is doing for people who truly seek the truth. The Lamb of God- the Lord Jesus, He died to redeem people from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues.

You see… there is power in the “gospel message” even in the midst of a godless, rebellious world that will the time of the Tribulation.  And I think this is significant.

I am reminded of the words of Paul in Romans 1:16… For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

The gospel message is the power of God… that word “power” is the Greek word: Dunamis, and it means “inherent power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature.”

The gospel is the inherent, omnipotent power of God operating in the salvation of a lost soul that excepts it. The power of the gospel message is eternity changing for the believer… even in the time of the Tribulation and the absence of the church.

But, we today live in a day and age of grace… with the Holy Spirit using the church to share the “good news” and so let us not be ashamed of the message, but rather, we should be looking for opportunities that the Spirit gives us to share that powerful message. Amen.

God’s Peculiar People…

I am grateful for theologians who study the Greek language and pass on their insight into the meaning of words. One such theologian Kenneth Wuest, a 20th century Greek Theologian with great insight into God’s word. This blog post is dedicated to him and his insight.

We read in the KJV Titus 2:13-14… 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 

God’s children are a peculiar people. Frequently, when we hear that word, it makes us think of something odd or strange- not normal.

But, that is not its use here in Titus 2:14. It is the Greek word: periousios. It is made up of two words, one which means “around,” as a circle, and the other which means “to be.” It can be charted as a dot within a circle.

As God’s peculiar people, God is around each one of His saints. The circle monopolizes the dot, has the dot all to itself. So God has His own all to Himself! That is what it means to be a peculiar people. We are reserved for Him!

But as a peculiar people, being inside the circle of God’s love is also a place of protection. The Bible says in Ephesians 6:14-17Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

When we walk in the center of God’s will, He who encompasses us, protects us from the flaming arrows- they can’t get through  the shield of God’s love and protection for us.

As God’s peculiar people victory over sin is guaranteed when we stay in the center of His will for us!

STAY PECULIAR PEOPLE!!!

 

A Royal Priesthood…

There is no greater honor than to be a Christian. Why do I say that? Because that is what God says about us. We are told by that old fisherman Peter in:

1 Peter 2:9… But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…

God sees us as royal priests. That is indeed a high honor. A priest, we know from studying the Old Testament served God and served people. And that is what we as Christians are to be doing today in this world as we await our Lord Jesus return. We are to be serving God and people.

But Satan, that old snake from the Garden… he likes to whisper in our ears…..sssssooo (see what I did there? :-), you think God really believes that you are a royal priest? Really? After the life you’ve lived… after the stuff you’ve done?

Saints, don’t listen to the lie.

Remember Aaron? Moses older brother. In Exodus 28: 1-2 we read: Then bring near to yourself Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the sons of Israel, to minister as priest to Me—Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.  You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty.

While Moses was up on Mount Sinai with God getting the ten commandments and instruction on building the tabernacle… God also called out Aaron to be High Priest… to serve God and the people. But at the moment God is giving Moses this instruction, what do we see Aaron doing in the camp, while waiting for Moses to return?

We read in Exodus 32: 1-4… Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Aaron said to them, “Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”

Incredible. Even while God is appointing Aaron to be High Priest to act as liaison between God and the Israelites… dedicated to serving God all the days of his life… Aaron is leading the people in idol worship with drinking and dancing around the calf. Incredible.

Do you really think that you have done anything more horrible than that? No, I don’t think so.

And that my dear friends, is how gracious, kind and caring our Great God is. That even while we may be in the very act of some evil, horrible thing… God is making plans for us. Because He loves us. And once we have been born again and sealed by the Holy Spirit… God no longer sees us in our sins, but in His Son.

So, don’t believe Satan’s lies. You are a royal priest not because you are worthy of the high calling… but because He is worthy… and gracious. So, go forward in faith… serving God and people… it is indeed a great and high honor! Amen

 

He is Risen!

We are told in the Gospel of Matthew on the first day of the week (Sunday) Mary Magdalene and Mary- the mother of Christ, were on their way to the garden tomb of Jesus… this was the third Jewish day since Jesus’ crucifixion.

They are met by an angel of the Lord… and the angel told the ladies in Matthew 28:6… “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.”

They were at the Garden Tomb– that term is a bit on an oxymoron (a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction). Why? Because what is a garden? It is a place where life begins. And what is a tomb? It is a place where life ends.

But this particular Garden Tomb is not a contradiction in terms at all. Because when we go to the Garden Tomb of Jesus as the Mary’s did… we are in a very real sense dying to ourselves- our old, corrupt self… and we are being raised to life- life eternal… new life, because of the Resurrection of Jesus… His victory over sin and death!

The Garden Tomb is truly a cosmic mystery. The only way we get to the Garden  is by first going to the Tomb.

And we do that by crucifying the flesh (which is trusting by faith in the finished work of Jesus upon the cross)- it is what Jesus went to the cross for.

The Cross leads to the Garden Tomb and that always leads to Life Eternal!

Celebrate saints! He is risen indeed!!