Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Prayer for the New Year

My prayer is that believers who read these posts are strengthened in their faith as they are reminded of the truth and authority of God’s word. I pray that we will be encouraged to rethink our priorities as we head into another year of opportunity to glorify our Savior by submitting to Him as Lord and declaring His love and the good news of the gospel to others—not only in word, but in deed.

The signs of His return as prophesied by the Savior are evident. The time that most of us choose to invest in earthly treasure that is only useful in this lifetime is sadly the primary focus of our energy; we should be investing most of our energy in accumulating heavenly treasure that will benefit us for eternity.

My prayer for those that may stumble across these postings that do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior is that they will be provoked to look closer at God’s word and recognize their need for a Savior. The hardest truth to face is that there is absolutely nothing you can do earn your salvation. The Father has done everything for us in sending His Son to be born as a man and become the only acceptable sacrifice for our sin. Through His willingness to die on the cross and suffer the judgment of your sin, you can now be declared righteous before God if you will just accept Him in faith.

I pray you will take some time to meditate on the following scriptures and that this year you will experience the joy and peace of Jesus in your life.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Psalm 19:1-3

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20

There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.
Ecclesiastes 7:20

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1John 1:8

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father
except through Me. John 14:6

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting Life. John 3:16

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

“Do you think, asks the Sovereign LORD, that I like to see wicked people die? Of course not! I only want them to turn from their wicked ways and Live. Ezekiel 18:23

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1John 1:9

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13

For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.
I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
John 14:2-3

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise…but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 2Peter 3:9

Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Messiah’s Resurrection

14. The psalmist even recorded the very words that Jesus would utter from the cross.

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Both Matthew and Mark confirm that these were the painful cries from Jesus on the cross.

Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

15. The death of Jesus would have been just a very sad moment in history without the resurrection. The fact that the Messiah’s soul would not be left in Hades, the place of departed spirits, was foretold by the psalmist.

Psalm 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Again, Josephus also referenced the resurrection of Jesus in his historical record.

“Now there was about this time Jesus….He was (the) Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him.”

Josephus was not the only historian that made reference to the life of Jesus. Luther of Samosata was a second century author. In his book, The Passing Peregrinus, he stated the following (as found at

“The Christians. . . worship a man to this day - the distinguished personage who introduced this new cult, and was crucified on that account. . . . You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains their contempt for death and self devotion . . . their lawgiver [taught] they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take on faith.”

At the same website is a quote from Cornelius Tacitus, a great historian on ancient Rome who lived 55-120AD. Following is a quote from one of his major works, Annals.

“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.”

Monday, December 22, 2008

Messiah to Die by Crucifixion

10. Even as He was cruelly treated, the prophet foretells that Messiah would submit to the judicial authorities without struggle.

Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

The gospels again record that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy as well.

Mark 15:1-5 And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it. And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing. And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee. But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.

This is no surprise since Jesus was very clear in telling His disciples that He had come to die.

John 10:14-15 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Mark 10:32-34 And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.

11. Psalm 22 is a messianic psalm that foretold the crucifixion, a form of punishment that was not even invented at the time the psalm was written.

Psalm 22:16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

The gospel writers all record the crucifixion of Jesus. I will only quote from Luke.

Luke 23:33-34 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Those same verses in Luke record the fulfillment of two other prophecies—one from Psalm 22 and the other by the prophet Isaiah.

12. Psalm 22:18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
13. Isaiah 53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Messiah Rejected and Beaten

8. Isaiah the prophet records many details regarding the death of Messiah. The prophet declares that He will be rejected by His people.

Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

The fact that Jesus was crucified as a direct result of the cry of His people is proof enough of this prophecy. Even the Roman governor could find no justification for convicting Jesus of wrongdoing.

Matthew 27:22-25 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

9. The prophet also recorded that the Messiah would be beaten and that He would suffer the shame of being spit upon.

Isaiah 50:6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

Again, the gospel writers confirm the fulfillment of this prophecy.

Mark 15:15-19 And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Messiah the King Betrayed by a Friend

6. The prophet Zechariah prophesied that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem riding on a colt to the shouts of the people.

Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

The gospel writers affirm the fulfillment of this prophecy.

Matthew 21:1-9 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me….All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass….And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

The rest of the prophecies I will reference all refer to events surrounding the death of the Messiah.

7. One of the recognized Messianic passages in the psalms foretold that He would be betrayed by a friend.

Psalm 41:9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.

The gospel record tells us that Jesus was betrayed by Judas, one of His own disciples, for 30 pieces of silver as foretold by the following passage from the prophet Zechariah

Zechariah 11:12-13 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.

Matthew 26:14-15, 47-49 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver….And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Messiah Preceded by a Messenger and a Worker of Miracles

4. The prophet Malachi tells us that the Messiah will be preceded by a messenger whose purpose is to prepare His way before the people. He also declares that He will come to the temple.

Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

Again, the New Testament writers record that Jesus was preceded by John the Baptist, the prophesied messenger sent to prepare the people to receive their Messiah.

John 1:15-23 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me…. And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?...He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

There are, of course, many experiences related in the gospels of Jesus teaching at the temple.

5. Again, the New Testament writers recorded that Jesus did many signs and wonders that identified Him as the Messiah as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah 29:18 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.

Isaiah 35:5-6 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

Scripture tells us that John the Baptist was eventually imprisoned for confronting Herod with his sin in marrying his brother’s wife.

Mark 6:17-18 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.

During the time he was imprisoned he became discouraged and sent his followers to Jesus to get an affirmation that He was the promised Messiah. Jesus answered him giving reference to the prophecies of Isaiah.

Luke 7:19-22 And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.

The New Testament scripture is not the only historical record verifying the life of John the Baptist. The noted historian Josephus in his Jewish Antiquities made note of John’s execution by Herod.

“Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness.”

Josephus also made note of the fact that Jesus was a “doer of wonderful works.”

“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Messiah’s Birthplace and the Time of His Birth Foretold

2. Not only was the lineage of the Messiah foretold, but also the place of His birth—Bethlehem, the city of David.

Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Again, the gospel writers were clear in establishing the place of Jesus’ birth.

Matthew 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king….

Luke 2:4-7 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Isn’t it interesting that since the destruction of the temple and the worldwide dispersion of the Jewish people, no one born subsequent to that time would be able to prove his lineage as a descendant of David born in Bethlehem. And the Jewish people are still looking for their Messiah.

3. I think few people realize that there is a very specific prophecy in the Old Testament regarding the time that the Messiah would appear. It is recorded by the prophet Daniel.

Daniel 9:25-26 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off….

Gabriel gave Daniel some specific time references. In context, he is talking about the time that the Jews would be allowed to return to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity. Also necessary to understand is that the Hebrew word used for “weeks” is a reference to “weeks of years.” He clearly states that from the time of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem and the coming of Messiah will be 69 weeks or 483 years—seven weeks (7 x 7 = 49 years) + 62 weeks (3 x 20 = 60 + 2 = 62 x 7 = 434 years) (49 + 434 = 483). Nehemiah 2:1-8 describes the decree signed by Artaxerxes authorizing the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem, including the walls, as occurring during the 20th year of his reign, circa 446BC. Based on the biblical use of a 30-day month, this would carry us forward 173,880 days to circa 31AD, during the time of Jesus.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Prophecies of Messiah Fulfilled in Jesus

As we move toward the Christmas season, I thought it would be appropriate to look at some of the prophecies in scripture that were fulfilled in Jesus. The fact that these prophecies were fulfilled are very important to establishing the confidence we as believers have in knowing that prophecies as yet unfulfilled will come to pass as foretold. Scripture is clear in declaring prophecy as God’s unique signature of Who He Is.

Isaiah 42:8-9 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.

Isaiah 48:3-7 I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass; I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them. Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them. They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them.

As we look at these prophecies, I have chosen only the ones that are recorded as part of history and would have been physically observed. I am not going to take the time to establish the foundation of each passage as Messianic. The prophecies of the coming Messiah were made to the Jewish people, and these passages have been acknowledged by Jewish scholars to be referencing their Messiah. In light of these prophecies, it is really perplexing that the religious leaders in particular did not recognize Jesus as the One who fulfilled these prophecies. As with the false teachers today, their pride and selfish motives blinded them or caused them to reject the truth.

1. I think the first truth to establish is that the Messiah was prophesied to descend from Abraham through Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Jesse and David.

Isaiah 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

Isaiah 9:6-7 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David....

Jeremiah 23:5 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.

The New Testament writers go to great pains to record the genealogy of Jesus through both His mother and His earthly adoptive father. Both genealogies establish Jesus as a descendant of David and rightful heir to the throne.

Matthew 1:2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren… Matt. 1:6 And Jesse begat David the king… Matt. 1:16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Luke 3:23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph… Luke 3:31-34 …which was the son of David, Which was the son of Jesse…which was the son of Juda, Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham….

There is plenty of evidence to validate the writings of the New Testament gospels. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, I would like to quote from the research done by the people at

“Archaeologists studying ancient civilizations by uncovering ruins and examining artifacts, are with increasing success confirming the accuracy of the Biblical texts….Additionally, outside the Bible, Jesus is also mentioned by his near-contemporaries. Extra-Biblical and secular writers (many hostile) point to Jesus' existence, including the Roman writings of Tacitus, Seutonius, Thallus and Pliny, and the Jewish writings of Josephus and the Talmud. Gary Habermas has cited a total of 39 ancient extra-Biblical sources, including 17 non-Christian, that witness from outside the New Testament to over 100 details of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection….The New Testament has far better textual support than do the works of Plato, Aristotle, Herodotus, or Tacitus, whose contents no one seriously questions.”

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Daniel’s Prayer and Today’s Church

As I was reading through Daniel’s prayer for his people yet again, I began to think about what an example it was of what our prayer in the “church” in America should be today. Using Daniel’s prayer as my guide, this is my prayer.

O Lord, the great and awesome God, I know You are true to Your word and that you are full of mercy and compassion for those who love You and call You LORD and obey Your word. We, your true church in America, have sinned and have made wrong choices that have resulted in allowing evil to prosper. We have rebelled against the principles You established for us in Your word and compromised with the world. We have adulterated the truth of Your word for our own purposes. We have not paid attention to Your word as declared by anointed men of faith. In spite of the many willing to boldly declare the truth of Your word, the church has chosen to divide rather than seek unity through the leading of the Spirit.

O Lord, You are righteous, and we are a shameful example of who You are to the unsaved masses. Father, we are ashamed of the leaders we have chosen to lead our nation in rebellion against You and to embrace the deception of the “god of this world,” Satan. We are to blame for this poor testimony because of our apathy and not choosing to love You with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. We have allowed evil to prosper through our willingness to be tolerant and compromise with the world. We have depended upon our own wisdom and have rejected Your wisdom.

We in the body of believers know that You are ready and willing to forgive us of our sin and rebellion if we but sincerely repent and ask. We know that nothing can separate us from Your love and protection. We also know that you chasten those You love and that we will reap what we sow. You have been so longsuffering, yet we know that Your righteousness demands that sin be punished. There is a remnant in the “church” who are penitent and are seeking Your face. Even as we seek Your face for mercy, we pray, “Your will be done.” We know that nothing can touch the lives of Your children except it be for good and to Your glory.

Strengthen us, Lord, in the power of Your Holy Spirit to boldly stand for the truth of Your word in love. Help us to love the sinner even as we hate his sin. Fill us with a zeal and passion to honor You in what we do, say and think. Help us, Lord, to die to self and truly place you on the throne of our lives. O Father, hear the prayer of Your servant and cause Your face to shine upon Your true church in America. May we serve as salt and light in turning our nation back to You. Father, our desire is to bring You honor and glory.

In the name of Your precious Son Jesus, our Savior, we pray, Amen.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Concluding Thoughts on the Letters to the 7 Churches

It seems quite clear that there are many applications to be made to the “church” today in this group of letters to some of the early churches. From the letter to Ephesus we learn that we need to constantly be on guard against regarding “service” as more important than fellowship with the Lord in worship, prayer and bible study. If we invest in fellowship, our service will come naturally and will be more joyful and fruitful. We also learned that the Lord wants us to exercise discernment in judging what is right and wrong. We are to approve the things He approves of and hate the things He hates. It’s important to note that His hatred is always directed at the “deeds” of the sinner, not the person.

From the letter to Smyrna we are encouraged to look at things from God’s perspective. Those we consider to be poor from an earthly perspective may actually be rich from a heavenly perspective. It’s sad but true that often the persecution of true believers comes from others who claim be part of the church but are actually impostors from the ranks of the enemy. We need to be mindful that Satan is the “god of this world” and exerts great power and authority. His influence will continue to strengthen on the world stage until Jesus comes to take His throne. Until the Lord chooses to come and take us home, believers are subject to persecution and imprisonment from those who serve Satan by rejecting Jesus. We are not to fear, however, because we will emerge victorious in Jesus when He comes to take His throne.

The letter to Pergamos warns us that believers are sometimes called upon to suffer a martyr’s death. We are warned not to compromise with the world and become a stumbling block to others. Also, we are warned to exercise discernment regarding false teaching. Discernment is only possible when one is familiar with the scripture, which is the only acceptable standard upon which correct discernment can be made.

By paying attention to the letter to Thyatira we are again warned that works are not proof of spiritual health. It is true that faith without works is dead; but it is also true that works are meaningless unless mixed with faith. Works without faith may provide some personal satisfaction to our sense of self-pride, but they have no eternal benefit. They may provide some temporary relief to others through the provision of physical needs, but they do nothing to provide for their spiritual needs. We are warned again about exercising discernment in identifying false teachers. We need to recognize that many false teachers begin their ministries by joining the church and gaining positions of leadership or influence. They then begin mixing in the leaven of their lies with the truth. The most dangerous enemies to the true church today have emerged from within its ranks. In this letter the Lord clearly declares that He will never expect more from us than we are able to give Him. The time may come when it will be all we can do to hold fast to our faith.

The letter to Sardis goes on to emphasize the truth that works without faith are dead. In the end what others think about us is not what is important; it’s what God knows about us that impacts our eternity. We also learned that it is possible for there to be true believers in a dead church. Again, this emphasizes that God is concerned about individuals. No one will be deemed judged unworthy based on with whom they fellowship here on earth. One is counted worthy who has not defiled his garments because he is washed in the blood of Jesus Christ.

In the message to Philadelphia we are reminded that though believers may suffer trials and/or persecutions in this lifetime while many of Satan’s followers seem to prosper in the eyes of the world, the time will come that the Lord will place us in a position of honor before them. They will know that despite what they may have thought based upon our circumstances while here on this earth, we are loved by our Father in heaven. We also learned that those who have proven their faith will be kept from the time of adversity that God has appointed on His prophetic calendar to carry out His vengeance upon His enemies in the world—the earth dwellers. We pilgrims of the faith are just sojourners here; we are heaven dwellers. This letter acknowledges that believers will suffer, but their patient endurance in the faith will be rewarded.

The letter to Laodicea is again a warning against hypocrisy. Not every “so called” church is comprised of believers. There are “churches” that serve as social clubs and go through the motions of service with no heart commitment before the Lord. They have plenty of money to do according to the wisdom and will of man, but they aren’t seeking to serve according to the wisdom and will of God. Still, God’s love compels Him to stand at the door and knock seeking fellowship. He wants to see them respond to Him with repentance and faith. He wants them to see with spiritual eyes and hear with spiritual ears. This echoes the truth that permeates scripture—God is not willing that any should perish.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Letter to Laodicea – Revelation 3

Revelation 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

Jesus identifies Himself to the church at Laodicea as “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” This church needs to recognize that God’s word is just as sure now as it was when He first created the world. In fact, they needed to realize that they were being spoken to by “the CREATOR.”

Isn’t it interesting that evolution has exploded into popularity during the time when the Laodicean church seems to be the most prevalent. No matter how stubbornly people choose to cling to this preposterous theory, it will not change the truth. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

Revelation 3:15-16 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Again, Jesus is aware of their works/deeds/actions/behavior. They serve, but not with zeal; they just seem to be going through the motions. They are keeping up appearances and maintaining social connections.

This comparison was perfect for the people of this church since their town was furnished water through a system that caused it to arrive for their use “lukewarm.” It was neither cold and refreshing or hot for use in healing/cleanliness etc. God is comparing this church to lukewarm water that doesn’t taste good; a lukewarm church does not put a good taste in the Lord’s mouth. He’d rather spit it out. In fact, the word for spue is “emeo,” which means to vomit; it’s where we get our word emetic. (This reminds me of His action in withering the fig tree in Matthew 21. A church is supposed to be producing fruit.)

David Guzik uses a quote from Donald Barnhouse that gives a little different perspective. “So the Lord is saying, ‘If instead of being lukewarm, you were so cold that you should feel that coldness, then the very feeling of your need might drive you to the true warmth, but now in your lukewarmness, you have just enough to protect yourselves against a feeling of need.’”

Rev. 3:17-18 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

This church considered itself to be blessed because it was rich in material wealth; they really didn’t have need of anything that they could identify. Jesus, on the other hand, sees them as wretched (distressed, miserable), miserable (pitiable), poor (spiritual paupers), blind (mentally—they don’t recognize their condition) and naked (without clothing—the garments of salvation). This was a church in name only.

2 Corinthians 10:18 is applicable here--For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

Good thought from my friend Dixie—“’I counsel thee.’ Why does He bother? Because He loves them (v19).”

Jesus advises the church to buy from Him “gold tried in the fire” (1Peter 1:7) and submit to His will and testing to earn treasures in heaven; spiritual riches are the true riches of eternity. I think He is using the language of money to get the attention of this materially oriented church.

1Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

Another good note from Dixie—“Good things can come out of fiery trials if we desire the outcome of purity and refinement more than we dislike the circumstances of the trials.”

The white raiment represents the garment of salvation, which only Jesus can provide to those who come to Him in faith believing on His finished work on the cross. Jesus covers the shame caused by our sin. He advises them to anoint themselves with eyesalve so that they can see; that seems to be referring to accepting Jesus as the Savior and appropriating the power and teaching of the Spirit to open their spiritual eyes.

Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Jesus tempers His rebuke by telling them that He only rebukes and chastens those He loves.

Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

So take this message as a love letter. Recognize the truth about yourself; turn your apathy into energy and desire—repent (change your heart/mind/direction).

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

God is so merciful!! This time He pictures Himself standing at the door wanting fellowship with them; He is trying to get their attention. He is not going to force His way in though. It’s up to each individual to open the door and invite Him inside for fellowship.

Revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Those who overcome are promised a seat with Him in His throne (the throne of David), just as the Father gave Him/Jesus a seat in His throne for overcoming.

Luke 1:32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

He is always assuring His children that He will be just as good a Father as God is to Him.

Revelation 3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Again, the believers are encouraged to listen to and heed the message to the churches.

“he that hath an ear, let him hear” – Joseph Seiss made a good observation on this text: “Let us see to it, then, that we hear as the text commands, and learn to view the church’s errors, corruptions, mistakes, and sins as Christ views them; to love what He loves, to hate what He hates, and to hope only as He has given us authority to hope.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Letter to Philadelphia – Revelation 3

Revelation 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

Jesus identifies Himself to the church at Philadelphia as “He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth. (This is a quote from Isaiah 22:22--And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.) Again, this is a statement of His righteousness, truth, power and authority.

Revelation 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

Again, Jesus knows their works/deeds/actions/behavior. The next statement seems to be in direct connection to His knowledge of their works. He has set before them an open door; it is a door that no man can shut. Jesus also identified Himself as the door (John 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.) I think He is assuring this church that has very little strength left, but has been faithful to keep His word and has never denied His name, that He will provide their salvation; He will give them the nourishment they need; no man has the power to deprive them of the protection and provision of the Savior.

2Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Those who are weak in faith due to the prevalence of evil around them need assurance of the truth of God’s word. Sometimes it seems like Satan is winning, but God is assuring His people that they can count on Him and He will prevail.

Rev. 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

Evidently, these believers had also been persecuted by those who were pretending to be followers of God, Jews, but were really followers of Satan. Jesus promises that these unbelievers will be made to come and worship “before thy feet.” I think this is making reference to the fact that the believer will be at the feet of Jesus for eternity, and that “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow” (Romans 14:11) and “unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear” (Isaiah 45:23). The believer will get to witness the humbling of those that have persecuted them. They will be presented as loved by the Father before these unbelievers.

Revelation 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Because the believers in Philadelphia have held fast to and guarded the truth of the words of Jesus with steadfastness and cheerful endurance, Jesus will keep them from (“ek”—out of) the hour of temptation (putting to proof) which shall (future tense from John’s perspective) come upon ALL the world, to try (put to the test) them that dwell on earth. Obviously, this time of testing will be appointed for a specific time, of specific duration, to a specific generation.

Many refuse to accept that this affirms the teaching of the rapture on the grounds that there is no reason this generation of believers should escape the coming hard times any more than any other generation. Henry Morris made a good point. “The fact is, however, that Christians in every other generation have escaped the great tribulation, so there is no reason why the last should be singled out for participation in it.”

Revelation 3:11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

When Jesus returns, it will be quickly (suddenly). He is encouraging them to hold on to their faith and not let any man deprive them of their reward/crown. This is not a reference to losing your salvation—just your reward. (cf 2:10—“ be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”)

Revelation 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Those who overcome will be “a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out.” I think this is indicative of the position of security the believer has for eternity in the presence of God. The word pillar in Galatians 2:9 is used to represent leaders, but we can’t all be leaders; and everyone in heaven will be an overcomer.

Galatians 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

1John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

The overcomer will also be publicly identified as belonging to God by being stamped/marked with “the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem.” He will also be proudly identified by being stamped with the new name of Jesus.

Revelation 3:13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Again, the believers are encouraged to listen to and heed the message to the churches.

This church, along with Smyrna, was given no words of rebuke. Again, if they had been deserving, they would have been rebuked.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Letter to Sardis, The Dead Church – Revelation 3

Revelation 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

Jesus identifies Himself to the church at Sardis as “he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars.” I think this is significant since the Spirit is the source of life, power and security for the believer, and this church is really a dead church.

Again, Jesus states that He is aware of their works/deeds/actions/behavior. These actions imply to others that they are vibrant and alive; but God knows that they are spiritually dead. This reminds me of the verse in Samuel: 1Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

The same truth is supported in Matthew: Matthew 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

Revelation 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

Those in Sardis are warned to be watchful/vigilant/alert. They are also to work to strengthen (set fast, turn resolutely in specific direction) the “things which remain” (the few purely motivated things they were doing in service to God). Even those were in jeopardy of dying. Their works before the Lord are lacking, they are not being performed to completion or fulfillment of His purpose for them.

Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

The Lord reminds them to remember “how” they had received and heard the truth that resulted in their faith—remember, and hold onto that memory. I think He is referring here to the purity of heart of a new believer in his/her desire to serve the Lord. As they remembered, they would recognize their need to repent. Obviously, if they did not see the need to repent; they never possessed the truth to begin with. They had come to the point that they needed to do a 180 with their hearts. They are serving in a way to impress others and serve their own pride rather than serving the Lord with an humble, obedient, loving and thankful heart.

Then comes the warning—If they aren’t vigilant/keeping watch, He will come upon them as a thief—they won’t even recognize the signs of the times to know that He is about to return. It causes one to pause and think of what we might be doing if He came at a time when our focus was not on Him. Would we be ashamed?

Revelation 3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

Jesus recognizes the fact that there are still a few true believers in Sardis which are clothed in the garments of righteousness; they will walk with the Lord in white (represents holiness and purity) because they have been found worthy due to their faith in the Savior. 1John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

I think this is another reason to be careful to be discerning, but not judgmental. It seems that even a “dead church” can have true believers serving as lights in the darkness according to God’s will and purpose. This letter includes no directive for true believers to leave the church. Instead, they are declared worthy or valuable to God’s purposes.

Revelation 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

All those who overcome will be clothed in white raiment. Neither will He have his name blotted out of the book of life. This indicates to me that all names are written in the book of life until they have chosen once and for all to reject Jesus. (See topical study re “Book of Life” on my website ) There are so many verses that speak to God’s desire that ALL should be saved, i.e.:

2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Ezekiel 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

1Timothy 2:3-4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Those who overcome will find their name in the book of life and be recognized as part of the family by the Son to the Father and His angels.

Revelation 3:6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Again, the believers are warned to listen to and heed the message to the churches.

Interesting note: “Being dead, the church in Sardis presented no significant threat to Satan’s domain, so it wasn’t worth attacking.” D. Guzik

Continuing from my thoughts at the end of the previous chapter, it is interesting to note that again the implication is that this church is very active doing “Christian” things, which make them appear to be spiritually alive, but that is a false impression. Their works are not “perfect” or satisfactory before God; they are evidently following their own will—not God’s. They are self-motivated, not God-motivated. They cannot, however, claim ignorance as an excuse for their choices. They are encouraged to “remember” the truth they had “received and heard” and repent.

It truly is amazing that most people seem to prefer investing time in their own works rather than investing time in fellowship with and worship of God and resting in the work of His Son. Our works should be an outworking of our fellowship with and worship of the Lord. It is through fellowship and worship that we are attuned to the leading of the Spirit to serve others according to God’s will and not our own. That leading assures us God’s empowerment and provision through the Holy Spirit and will always glorify the Savior—not the servant.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Letter to Thyatira (cont.) – Revelation 2

Revelation 2:26-28 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star.

Those who stand fast and keep on putting forth their best effort to emulate the works of Jesus will eventually be given power over the nations (just as God empowered His Son). I believe this is a reference to service in the millennial kingdom. They will rule with the Lord with a rod of iron.

Psalm 2:9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

No false teachers will be dealt with lightly at that time. They will be broken and rendered useless as represented by the shards of a broken piece of pottery. The overcomer will also be given the morning star (identified as Jesus in Revelation 22:16). I think this indicates the thrill of intimate fellowship with the Savior for eternity.

The sad thing is that the people were to blame for the terrible warfare they were experiencing because they weren’t diligent in guarding their hearts and exercising discernment regarding who they allowed in their fellowship. I think that is true of many churches today. Very few exercise discipline regarding those who choose to participate in the body.

God is so merciful. He doesn’t keep throwing this up in their face. He identifies the problem, and then goes on to encourage them to hold on fast and fight the good fight of faith. He doesn’t try to punish them by making their burden heavier; they’ve pretty much brought harsh punishment upon themselves. God opens His message in a spirit of judgment and closes the message with encouragement to be an overcomer.

Revelation 2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Again, the believers are warned to listen to and take heed of the message being sent to the churches.

It really hit me this time through that this church is really active in doing good deeds, showing love to others, exhibiting strong moral convictions, and demonstrating commitment and dependability. This church gives the appearance of having members that are mature Christians in love with their Lord. Truth is that they are lacking in spiritual discernment to the point that a false prophetess is openly operating in the church and has generated quite a following. She is evidently arrogant and full of pride as she is intent on ignoring the truth of God’s word and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in pursuit of her own purposes. She is in league with Satan.

Since I first completed this journal, the “church” in America has made great headway in transforming itself into just such a church. I want to be careful not to be judgmental, but discerning. In my opinion, there seem to be more and more pastors of very large churches with national influence who are more interested in leading their congregations into “Christian” service than in teaching of the whole word of God and investing in the spiritual growth of their members. Their stated motives are identified as reaching the unsaved, while their own members are spiritually malnourished. I believe God’s word teaches that the church is supposed to strengthen and edify believers first and foremost. Scripture is clear that the teaching of the word is the primary source of providing the spiritual food necessary for that growth. Christians who are nourished through the word and edified through the Spirit working through the body of the believers to minister to one another will naturally produce Christians who will then go out and win others to Christ through sharing the gospel and showing the love of Christ in service to those in need.

It struck me that the Ephesian church had gotten so busy in ministry that it had become focused on what it was accomplishing and was investing no time in fellowship with and worship of the God in whose name they were serving. They were not, however, spiritually malnourished; they were still showing spiritual discernment and evidencing an understanding of God’s word since they were able to identify false apostles and hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans. The church at Thyatira is a mirror of the Ephesian church in their focus on serving others, but they evidence no spiritual discernment or understanding of God’s word. The Ephesians are called to repent from leaving their first love; in other words, they had given definite evidence of their salvation. In Thyatira, however, most of the church is caught up in the false teaching and adulterous ways of the prophetess. They too are called to repent, but that repentance is from a way of life that is leading to death. The amazing thing is that there are evidently some true believers in the church who are encouraged to hold fast to their faith in spite of the false teaching surrounding them. This makes me think of those today who have probably grown up in the church or just have so many friends and/or family in the church that they hang in there hoping they can make a difference. In that regard they are similar to the true believers in the church at Pergamos.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Letter to Thyatira (cont.) – Revelation 2

In context, we are still referencing those who are following the false prophetess Jezebel in spiritual adultery.

Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

“kill her children with death” – I believe this refers to both spiritual and physical death to those who choose to follow her. Those who made that choice were obviously rejecting Jesus and the truth. He will personally see to their judgment—they will die physically as a result of their sin (from venereal disease, Aids, ?), and they will die spiritually (to experience eternity out of the presence of God in the lake of fire).

I found an interesting quote from John Schultz in connection with this verse: “Every sin has its own built-in punishment. The same bed on which Jezebel commits her adultery will become her sickbed. The sin man commits will turn against him. All things only work for good for those who love God.”

My friend and bible study partner, Dixie, made a good observation concerning “all churches shall know.” “God’s judgment on one church brings a righteous fear (Psalm 64:9) and understanding to those who hear of it, similar to the reaction of Rahab, hearing of God’s judgment in behalf of the children of Israel (Joshua 2:9-11).”

Psalm 64:9 And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of his doing.

Joshua 2:9-11 And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

Scripture is very clear in teaching that each person will be held accountable for his/her own actions.

Jeremiah 17:10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

Those in the church at Thyatira who have not followed Jezebel, who have stood firm and avoided involvement in her false doctrines and intimate contact with the things of Satan, are admonished to continue holding fast the faith until Jesus returns. This seems to indicate that this body of believers was up against serious spiritual warfare from the “principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Revelation 2:24-25 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

The fight to hold onto their faith would not leave the true believers in Thyatira with the energy to accomplish much else. God was not going to burden them with any other demands. God knows our human limits. He will never expect more from us than we are able to do/give.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Letter to Thyatira – Revelation 2

Revelation 2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;

Jesus identifies Himself to the church in Thyatira as “the Son of God, who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass.” This seems to emphasize His power and authority in judgment.

Revelation 2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

Again, God knows their works/deeds/actions/behavior, their charity (agape—love/goodwill), service/ministry, faith (moral conviction, fidelity to the truth), and patience (steadfastness, endurance). Then He repeats that He knows their works, to the point that He sees that they are doing much more now than in the beginning.

The above are all good things. But the Lord still has words of rebuke for them. Why?

Revelation 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

They (the church as a whole) suffer (don’t bother, allow, permit) that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce the believers to commit fornication and eat things sacrificed unto idols. Jezebel is a generic term for a false prophet/teacher; she claims to have special enlightenment.

This reminds me of the warning in Matthew 13:33—“Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”

False teachers in the church tend to emerge gradually. They introduce their false teachings in increments and before you know it, they have a group of followers in the church that have been deceived by their false teachings.

Eating things sacrificed to idols seems to be indicative of a willingness to compromise with the world instead of coming out from among them and being separate (cf 2Corinthians 6:17).

Revelation 2:21-22 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

According to the wording given, it appears to me that there was a specific person, false teacher, at that point in time that was being permitted to operate in this church. God even states specifically that He had given her time to repent of her spiritual adultery, but she chose not to.

God warns that those who had chosen to consort with her in her immoral activity would experience great tribulation unless they repented (change of heart/mind/purpose).

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Letter to Pergamos – Revelation 2

Revelation 2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

Jesus identifies Himself to the church in Pergamos as the one who “hath the sharp sword with two edges.” This is significant since this represents God’s authority and ability to judge and convict as necessary in this body of believers.

Revelation 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

Again, He knows their works/deeds/actions/behaviors. He is aware that they are living in the middle of one of Satan’s strongholds, where Satan was choosing to dwell at that time. The great altar of Zeus, one of the wonders of the ancient world, was in Pergamos. In spite of this, they have not denied His truth, His gospel, even at point of death—as proven by the death of Antipas, God’s faithful witness.

Again I will quote from The Revelation Record: “According to Alexander Hislop’s book, Two Babylons, the evidence indicates ‘that Pergamos had inherited the religious mantle of ancient Babylon…. The priests who had kept the secrets of the ancient mystery religions centered at Babylon ever since the days of Nimrod, were forced to migrate, transferring what amounted to the headquarters of Satan’s religious system away from Babylon north and west to Pergamos where it endured for several centuries in that great center of evolutionary pantheistic paganism.”

My pastor, Bob Coy, had an interesting thought on this church. The fact that they had chosen to stay as “lights” in a wicked (dark) place was part of their commendation.

Revelation 2:14-15 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

Still, God has words of chastisement for them:

1. They are tolerating those who hold the doctrine of Balaam (who because of his greed encouraged the followers of Balac to lure the children of Israel into eating things sacrificed to idols and committing fornication). Cf Numbers 22-24 and Jude 11.
2. They are also tolerating those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. We already learned in the letter to Ephesus that God hates the deeds of the Nicolaitans.

I found an interesting statement from Arthur Pink regarding this section: “….in Ephesus it was the deeds of the Nicolaitanes that were mentioned, here it is the ‘doctrine of the Nicolaitanes’ – false practices had now become articles of faith. Observe that at first the church ‘hated’ their deeds, here their evil beliefs were tolerated and cherished.”

This appears to be a church that is trying to compromise with the world and not offend anyone. That seems to be an apt description of many churches today. They are afraid to speak out strongly on issues in the Word that would meddle in the way people are choosing to live their lives. They are not diligent in guarding against the intrusion of those in the body who would pervert the Word of God.

Revelation 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

The church is warned to repent—have a change of heart/mind/purpose. If they don’t, the Lord says He will come unto “thee” (the church) and fight against “them” (perverters of the truth—false teachers) with the sword of His Word. I think this is indicative of God’s willingness to apply whatever judgment/punishment/discipline necessary to preserve His church.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Revelation 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Those who are willing to listen to and heed the message to this church--the overcomers--will:

1. be allowed to eat the hidden manna--Manna represents bread from heaven, sustenance, God’s provision. I’m not quite sure what hidden manna is unless it is referring to the truth from the Word that can only be discerned through “spiritual” eyes and ears. Only those who have accepted the Savior and have the Spirit dwelling in them can see through spiritual eyes and hear with spiritual ears.

2. be given a white stone with a new name that will be known only to the recipient of the stone--The white stone represents a verdict of acquittal or ticket of admission—acquittal regarding their sin that is covered by the blood of the Lamb and admission to the presence of God forever. It is not clear in the wording, but I believe the new name is for the overcoming believer since God often gave His followers new names to reflect their relationship to Him (i.e., Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Simon Peter to Cephas, etc.).

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Letter to Smyrna (cont.) – Revelation 2

“Ye shall have tribulation ten days” – I am not sure what this means. I have read that it refers to being tested for a specified period of time. (cf 2Cor. 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.) I’ve wondered if there couldn’t be some connection to the ten days of awe between Rosh Hoshanah and Yom Kippur that are representative of a time of repentance.

Considering that possibility, I found a section in The End, a book by George Madray, which was thought provoking. It stated:

Tribulation = 7 years – so 1 day = 1 year
“But more definitely, these chapters provide ongoing instruction throughout the tribulation….This author believes that instructions about what to do during the tribulation have already been provided in the book of Revelation, chapters 2-3. These special chapters in Revelation offer many details to the churches about how to proceed through the tribulation. The solution to the enigma is that the churches described in chapters 2-3 are believers who are receiving instructions during the time that evil is no longer being restrained. This body of believers is clearly very Jewish in nature and is not the Mystery Church….Rather, this is the body of believers who begin to profess Christ after the Mystery Church is raptured….If we assume that great evil and suffering will break out when God no longer restrains evil; that God will begin to deal with the Kingdom Church right after the rapture of the Mystery Church; that the ten days in Revelation 2:10 and ten years; then the Mystery Church is taken to heaven ten years before the end.”

In The Revelation Record Henry Morris equates the ten days to the ten days of testing that Daniel and his friends underwent at the beginning of their captivity. “Ten days of testing in Daniel’s case then yielded over 70 years of uniquely effective service for God. Just so, Christ assures Christians in Smyrna and all other suffering churches that a brief ‘ten days’ of testing will, if accepted with a resolve to be ‘faithful unto death,’ yield a crown of life and glory that will be ten times greater when Jesus comes.”

Those who are faithful unto death, willing to die for their faith in Jesus, will be given a crown of life. (Father, please humble me, convict me, love me to a place and spirit that will honor you as the body of believers at Smyrna. Strengthen me to the point that if I am ever in a position to die for my faith, I will do so willingly and joyfully and victoriously.)

Special note—This church receives no words of rebuke. If they had been deserving of rebuke, they would have received it.

Revelation 2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Again, this message is for all the churches; and those who are willing to listen to and heed the message being given will not be hurt by the second death (eternal separation from God forever).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Smyrna – The Persecuted Church – Revelation 2

Revelation 2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

Jesus identifies Himself to the church in Smyrna as “the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive.” I think this is a special address of encouragement to this body of believers who need to be reminded that they will have victory over death and eternal life with Jesus because of Jesus’ victory over death through His resurrection.

Revelation 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

Again, God knows their works/deeds/actions/behavior. He knows about the persecution they have suffered. He recognizes that they are materially poor, but spiritually rich. He is aware of the slander and vicious verbal abuse they have taken from those who claim to be Jews, followers of God, but they are really followers of Satan, the adversary of God.

Romans 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Obviously, these believers have no heart problem; they are serving and enduring out of deep gratitude, love and devotion to the Lord. They probably don’t even realize the treasures and rewards they have accumulated for themselves in heaven.

Rev. 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

He encourages the believers not to be afraid of the things they will suffer. He doesn’t tell them they won’t suffer—just not to be afraid of it. Other verses in the scripture support this thought.

Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

2Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

1Peter 1:6-7 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

The Greek for the word suffer states “to experience a sensation or impression (usually painful), passion.” The Greek for persecution in 2Timothy 3:12 states, “to pursue, to persecute, follow (after), press forward.” It’s natural to think of this suffering in context of physical abuse and harassment. It would seem that context would only give partial understanding. You can experience pain and pressure from being surrounded by wickedness. You can experience pain, pressure and suffering from your own struggle with the flesh and the attacks of the enemy. I think that suffering in heart is probably the most common form of suffering in the believer’s life and that persecution as represented by the pressures of wickedness surrounding us is much more common than physical persecution in the life of a believer. It reminds me of the verses in Peter regarding Lot.

2Peter 2:7-8 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds.)

Back to the believers in Smyrna--In fact, some of them will be put in prison as a test of their faith. Who puts them in prison? The devil—We often forget that he is the ruler in power at this time on planet earth.

2Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

In light of the persecution this church suffers, the meaning of the word Smyrna is significant. It comes from the word for myrrh, which is a plant that only yields its fragrance when it is crushed. Our faith is most on display when we are going through times of testing.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Letter to Ephesus (cont.) – Revelation 2

Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

The Lord urges them to remember “from whence thou are fallen.” This indicates that they have gone on a downward spiral in their spiritual life; they are not living in victory. The only way to get back on the right track is to repent--have a change of heart/mind/purpose. The evidence of their repentance is to “do the first works.” The word for “first” not only references time, but also importance. What are the first works?

Mark 12:30-31 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

I couldn’t help but think of the account of Martha and Mary in connection with God’s view of our priorities. Martha was so focused on serving that she was missing out on the benefits of fellowship with the Lord. I liked the wording from the Complete Jewish Bible in relating Jesus’ words to Martha.

Luke 10:41-42 However, the Lord answered her, “Marta, Marta, you are fretting and worrying about so many things! But there is only one thing that is essential. Miryam has chosen the right thing, and it won’t be taken away from her.”

The Lord is declaring that investing in our personal relationship with Him is more important than service. This is not the same as saying that service is not important. It is a statement that says to me that He desires service that results as an outflow of our love for Him in response to His love for us. Our love for Him will grow as we learn to know Him better, and we learn to know Him better as we sit at His feet and allow the Holy Spirit to minister the Word to our hearts and minds.

The church is warned that if they don’t repent, the Lord will remove their candlestick out of “his place.” This indicates that each body of believers has “a place” of service, a purpose in the plan of God. It’s up to that body to serve effectively by guarding their sensitivity to the leading/conviction of the Spirit.

Revelation 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

After these words of rebuke, there is a compliment given to the church. They hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans; God also hates their deeds. I’ve read that these were people who were placing themselves in a special position of honor over the laity—the body of believers (i.e., priests in the Catholic church). Another thought was that they tried to adjust Christianity to the level of the world rather than lifting the world to the level of Christianity. I am sure that the original recipients of these letters knew exactly what was meant.

In my studies I ran across a statement by Vernard Eller (with whom I can find little in agreement regarding this book) that was very interesting regarding the Nicolaitans: “Logically, a "Nicolaitan" would be a follower of "Nicolas"--whoever he might be. But the name "Nicolas" is itself built upon the Greek root found in the very next verse, nikontes, "him who is victorious," or "the victor." And this concept of "victor" is one that is central not only to these letters but also to Revelation as a whole. So whoever the Nicolaitans may have been, and whatever the line they were peddling, the Revealer classifies them with the thousands upon thousands of deceivers who, throughout the history of the church, have claimed to possess the key to personal success and victory. Nicolaitans (victory-promisers) are still very active among us; you can give specific name to those who would tempt you.”

Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

The churches are encouraged to pay attention to what the Spirit is saying in these letters. Even though there are specific words for each church, the letters are meant for all the churches. Jesus is the one dictating these letters and yet He identifies Himself as the Spirit--yet another proof of the oneness of the triune God.

Those who choose to walk in victory in Jesus will be allowed to eat from the tree of life in the place of happiness prepared by God.

This letter is really quite disconcerting. It seems that the people were doing many commendable things. The problem seems to be with the attitude of heart with which they are serving. They are even serving for the right reason (for my name’s sake), but it seems they are serving out of duty rather than love. (This puts me in mind of the Pharisees, etc.) God only wants us to give and serve out of a cheerful heart with love and devotion to Him. As I think on my own service to the Lord, I often fear that I sometimes fall into the trap of serving from duty and expectation rather than from love. It just emphasizes the importance of staying connected to the Lord through prayer and His word so that we are sensitive to the leading/conviction of the Spirit.

Since these letters are written to bodies of believers, I do not believe the Lord is saying that they will lose their salvation. We must also recognize that all “churches” are composed of true believers as well as those who profess faith for whatever reason, but haven’t really placed their faith in Jesus as Lord of their life. I think He is saying that as a body, they will no longer be useful to Him and will therefore lose their identity as a body. Ray Stedman states it this way, “They will lose their ability to shed light.” The church is made up of individuals. Encouragement is given to those who choose to listen to and heed the message being delivered. They are the ones whose fruit prove their position in Jesus. They are the ones who will be rewarded with everlasting life in the presence of the Father.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Urgent Words of Warning in the Letters to the Seven Churches – Revelation 2-3

It seems as though I am being drawn back again and again to the book of Revelation and especially the letters to the churches. Anyone familiar with me knows that I am expecting the Lord to return to take His family home very soon. The idea of “coincidence” and the signs of the times that have occurred in our times and are becoming increasingly prominent in today’s headlines just doesn’t hold water as I see things. We who claim to be part of the “church,” the body of Christ, need to be examining ourselves in reference to these letters. I believe the churches chosen to receive these letters are representative of the kinds of churches that have existed since it came into being. The words of warning and comfort are meant to challenge and encourage us on our spiritual pilgrimage while here on planet earth.

In my beginning series of blogs on Revelation, I just gave a thumbnail summary of these letters. I now feel the need to address these letters more in depth since the attack from the enemy is getting more aggressive and producing more victories more quickly than I actually thought possible.

We begin with the letter to the church at Ephesus.

Revelation 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

Jesus identifies Himself to the church at Ephesus as the one who “holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” This is a statement that He is the strength and authority behind His messenger to the church. He is aware of and concerned about what is happening in His churches.

Revelation 2:2-3 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

He is aware of their works/deeds/behavior/actions. He knows that they have labored, worked to the point of weariness. They have been patient (endured with hope and cheerfulness). They don’t have anything to do with those that are evil/worthless. They have been very careful to test those who claim to be teaching the truth of God and identify those who were teaching lies. They have endured and been steadfast. They have worked hard and toiled without giving up in honor of the name of Jesus.

Rev. 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Nevertheless--On the other side of the coin, Jesus isn’t happy with them. Why? They have left/laid aside/abandoned their “first love.” “Something can be lost by accident, but leaving is a deliberate act,” David Guzik.

I like this quote from Chuck Missler that really applies to this church—“Don’t be so busy in the business of the King that you have no time for the King.”

My friend Dixie wrote a poignant description of this church. “This church was a wife, but she had forsaken her first love. She had loved Him, but no longer did her eyes light up at the mention of His name. She didn’t want to talk with Him. She didn’t seek to hear His voice. She had no desire to spend time with Him. She didn’t look forward to His appearing. She no longer yearned for intimacy. She was attentive to her duties, but distant to Him. She was a housekeeper, but not His lover. Her work was more important to her than her relationship to Him. She was always busy, but too busy to have time for Him. He didn’t neglect her. He hadn’t forsaken her. He obviously desired a relationship of closeness with her and sought to reestablish it—hence, the letter. He desired an intimacy with her that is described in the Song of Songs which many waters cannot quench and money cannot buy, because both partners value it as invincible and priceless.”

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Deceived by "Miracles"

I want to go back to verses 9-12 of chapter two.

2Th. 2:9-12 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

These verses declare that when Antichrist comes on the scene, he will possess miraculous deceptive powers. I have talked with people who say they will get things right with God if they see the rapture take place. I do believe there will be many who come to saving faith during the last several years on planet earth, but I tend to believe that group will come from those who have not heard a clear presentation of the gospel and rejected it. That belief stems from the wording of these verses. These verses clearly indicate that those have rejected God’s message of truth as recorded in His word and declared by His Son Jesus will be sent a strong delusion to believe the lies of the Antichrist as attested to by his “miracles.”

Scripture is clear in declaring that God is not willing that any should perish and that the sacrifice of Jesus was sufficient for every sinner.

2Pet. 3:9 ¶ The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Rom. 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

1Tim. 2:3-6 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all….

Scripture is also clear that man can come to the point that God gives him over to his sin—He hardens his heart.

Rom. 1:24-26 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections….

2Chr. 30:7-8 And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see. Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the LORD, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.

Psa. 81:11-12 But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels.

Ex. 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.

We cannot question God’s rightness or righteousness in determining to “harden” someone’s heart or “give them over” to their sin. Point is made that they had chosen to reject God, so He is just giving them what they desire. I personally believe that decision is made in God’s omniscience. Scripture is clear that the Lord will not lose one who will come to Him in faith.

John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

This concludes the series from Thessalonians.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Powerful Restrainer

As we move on to Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul is encouraging this body of believers to continue growing spiritually in spite of the persecution and tribulation they are enduring. He reminds them that God will avenge them of their enemies “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels (1:7).” Point is made that these enemies of God will be “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (1:9).”

In light of that truth, Paul again wants to assure the believers that they should not fear having to experience God’s wrath when He pours out His wrath in vengeance on planet earth, the time often referenced in scripture as "the day of the Lord." Paul is very clear in stating that day will not come until the man of sin is revealed, the man more widely known as the Antichrist (2:3). The next verse goes on to say that the Antichrist will oppose and exalt himself above any being that is called “God.” He will even take his position in the temple of God [in Jerusalem] and declare himself to be “God.” I believe this is a direct reference to the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel and subsequently by Jesus.

Dan. 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate….

Dan. 12:11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

Matt. 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place….

Paul then goes on to explain that there is a force that is preventing the revelation of the Antichrist until the time that God has determined (2:6). He then adds that though evil is already at work in this world, “that Wicked” whose coming is “after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” will not be revealed and allowed to rise to power until the restraining force is taken out of the way.

So, how do we identify this restraining force? It is a force that is in direct opposition to the works of Satan and possesses greater power and authority than Satan. According to scripture, that can only be the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that empowers the believer to overcome sin and serve as a restraining force to the world’s domination by “the rulers of the darkness of this world” and “spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

1John 4:3-4 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

Scripture is clear in declaring that every true believer is indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit of God.

John 14:16-17 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

1Cor. 3:16-17 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Eph. 1:12-14 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

In consideration of these promises of God, we know that the Holy Spirit cannot be removed without removing those whom He has sealed. This is a direct reference to the “rapture,” the resurrection/transformation of the saints that Paul wrote about in his first letter to the Thessalonians and to the Corinthians as referenced previously.