Category Archives: Faith in the 21st Century

The True Streets of Gold

Revelation 21:2, 21

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband… The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.”

I would imagine that most of us grew up hearing about the “pearly gates of heaven” and the “streets of gold”, but how accurate is that? Where did that notion begin? There is only one place in Scripture where it talks of “pearly gates” and golden streets, and that is in the twenty-first chapter of the Revelation, verse 21. But read the entire chapter and you’ll see that verse 21 is not describing heaven, but the New Jerusalem, the city of God which will descend from heaven to the earth where it will be the abode of God forever, dwelling among humanity. A great bulk of chapter 21 describes the New Jerusalem and conditions therein, not heaven.

So when you hear someone saying that heaven has streets of gold and pearly gates, remember that it is one more false tradition derived from Scripture. As believers we will indeed enter those gates fashioned out of pearls and walk on that golden street, but they will be a part of the most mind-boggling structure in the universe, the New Jerusalem, once our blessed eternity with God Almighty begins.

Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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The Resurrection Makes All the Difference

Matthew 28:5-6

“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.'”

Herein lies one of the biggest factors that set the Christian faith apart from every other belief system that has ever been started. Not only is our Savior God among us, the Holy Lamb who paid for our sins, but He proved that fact by the greatest miracle He ever worked: He rose from the dead just as prophesied. No one else can lay claim to that. All other great “religious figures” are still dead. Moses still lies in his unmarked grave. Buddha and Confucious are still dead. All the Brahmins who defined the theology of Hinduism, still dead. Zoroaster, Plato and Aristotle are still dead. Muhammad is still dead awaiting judgement. Only Jesus Christ rose from the grave, and that carries a lot of weight with me. All the rest were just mortal men who had ideas that people accepted and followed, but that is it. Only Jesus lives as proof of His being our Lord and Savior. Only Jesus will return in power and glory to rule over the remnant of humanity. Only Jesus is worthy of our adoration and worship. And the risen Jesus is the only one I will ever follow. What about you?

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Filed under Body of Christ, Christianity, Dave's Little Quirks, Discipleship, Faith in the 21st Century, Future Events and Prophecies, Jesus Christ

R. C. Sproul on the Three Main Types of Christian Legalism

This is a very interesting, and enlightening, blog post from 2016 written by the late theologian and apologist R. C. Sproul and published on the website for Ligonier Ministries…well worth reading by all professing Christians…

https://www.ligonier.org/blog/3-types-legalism/

 

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The Coming War Against the Saints

Matthew 5:10-12

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Persecution, even to the death, is nothing new to those professing the Christian faith; the first widespread persecution occured in Jerusalem and was recorded in Acts 8:1-3. Persecution has followed the Body of Christ around the world, coming and going in waves through the centuries, leaving trails of blood-stained ground and ashes in its wake. Persecution of Christians is still alive and well today in many places around the world, not just the Middle East. Red China has persecuted Christians diligently for decades; a growing number of states in India have passed laws outlawing evangelizing; California has been trying to pass a law banning the Bible; the homosexual community has targeted Christian business owners such as bakers. But what we have been seeing today is just the beginning of a much worse persecution to come prophesied in Revelation 12:17 and usually referred to as the War Against the Saints. Anti-Christian rhetoric is on the rise; churches have been burned. If you, as a Bible-believing Christian, start visibly standing against the rising tide of wickedness and depravity in the modern, increasingly secular world, you’ll get labelled a bigot, intolerant, hateful… While the outright killing of believers is still largely outside of the Western democracies, the attitude of hate and enmity towards us grows more prevalent; popular talk show hosts refer to faith as a mental illness, and in the wake of the uproar concerning comments made over the illegal immigration into America I’ve read comments suggesting that “these Christians” should be put in our place “once and for all.” It is coming and many will fall; few will escape unscathed. What can we do? Pray, get grounded in the Word, live in submission to our Savior. Jesus told us in Matthew 10:23 that when we are persecuted in one place we should flee to another (as opposed to provoking martyrdom) and that is of course sound advice. But we still cannot quiet our voices in opposition to evil. The early Christian writer Tertullian once famously declared that “the blood of the martyrs is seed”, and succeeding history has proved him right on at least that point; many cases from the apostolic age to the present have recorded the persecutors coming to faith and becoming Christians through seeing how Christians bore up under torture and death. So we should continue speaking the truth from the Scriptures and confronting evil, flee persecution when possible, and face the worst with all the dignity and courage that the Holy Spirit gives us. And never lose sight of the promise of God to resurrect us to eternal life reigning with Christ, for this life is but a shadow that flits across the earth compared to an eternity with our Lord.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Agree to Disagree

2nd Timothy 4:2

“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.”

Titus 3:9-10

“But avoid foolish controversies and geneologies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.”

I am fairly active online and a member of several Christian groups here on Facebook, and I see a deep rooted problem that has plagued the Christian faith practially since the age of the apostles: the tendency for people to lose their heads when debating Scripture and allow themselves to get drawn into angry, even hateful arguments over often small points of doctrine. Discussing the Word of God in an intelligent and even spirited manner is a very positive thing; through meaningful debate we are exposed to other viewpoints, other interpretations, and through that exposure we can come to a deeper understanding of the Scriptures and what the Christian life should look like. But being flawed, mortal, sinful humans it can be so easy to lose sight of Paul’s exhortations to rebuke gently, even Jesus’ instructions to love each other. It’s easy for us to read accounts of the hateful rhetoric and anathemas and excommunications of the early church during it’s struggles with various heretical groups and say, “Boy, I’m glad I don’t act harshly like that!”, but then turn around and get drawn into an argument with someone and start hurling vile invective and condemnation at each other. I have seen arguments online that were every bit as hateful as the Thirty Year War between Catholic and Protestant that devastated central Europe. It’s not supposed to be this way! Where is the patience and love? Where in Paul’s letter to Titus are we told to scream at each other, let alone burn each other at the stake? Every time that professing Christians argue and berate and insult each other over points of doctrine, over “quarrels about the law”, over what a particular word means or when to calculate a date, there is a dying world filled with people in desperate need of Jesus Christ who watch the semantic bloodletting and think to themselves, “Yeah, they really live the love Jesus preached” and walk away determined to want no part of the Christian faith. Only God knows how many people die every day to face judgement without the Savior because we have not followed Paul’s example. My old mentor, the late Walter Martin, had a saying that he used daily on the radio: “We should agree to disagree.” He never advocated settling for weak doctrine, quite the opposite, but he always exhorted people to disagree without hate or attitudes of smug superiority. We won’t all agree on everything, and I would never say we should welcome the yeast of blatant heresy into the Body of Christ. But I will say that when we find someone we don’t agree with or who uses a different ritual at church we should not sling virtual anathemas and hateful rhetoric around, for when we do Satan laughs at us and knows that he has gained the upper hand over us by damaging our testimony to the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be gentle, patient and loving, my friends, even when you don’t want to.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Reason or Revelation?

Job 11:7-9

“Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than the heavens – what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths of the grave – what can you know?
Their measure is longer than the earth
and wider than the sea.”

Such wise words from Zophar the Naamathite – if only later generations had lived by them! For thousands of years humanity has tried to understand the nature of the universe and – sometimes – the nature of God. Have we succeeded? No, I don’t believe so. Just limiting the scope of this discussion to the 2,000 years of the Christian faith, many have tried to understand the truth of God using human reason; many have tried to reconcile revelation with reason. As the church grew older and further away from the age of the apostles, many have tried to explain revelation in the light of the philosophical musings of the Greek philosophers, but have they succeeded? No, for the more they have tried to fit divine revelation into the bounds of human reason the further away from the truth they have strayed. How can the finite mind of a created being possibly understand the nature of the infinite being that created it? How can the clay ever comprehend the mind of the potter? It’s impossible! It’s been argued that God created us with reason so we can use it, but should we really try to elevate our reason to the same level of God, or worse, elevate it higher? No. We can and should use the mental gifts God has given us to understand the Creation around us as much as we can, but to try and comprehend the nature of God by human reason is an exercise in futility. If we could ever figure it out for ourselves there would have been no real reason for the revelation of God in the Scriptures. The divine revelation of Scripture should be our guide as it was intended to be. As Jesus said, “Blessed are they who believe and have not seen.” Let the revelation be our standard to live by, not our reason and philosophy.

Peace and grace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Restoring the Temple

2nd Kings 12:4-16, 22:3,7 & 23:4-14
2nd Chronicles 24:4-14 & 34:8-13

In these passages we find two godly kings of Judah, Joash, son of Ahaziah, and Josiah, the great-grandson of King Hezekiah, commanding the priests to stop making their own repairs to the temple and start using temple funds to hire professional workmen to make the much needed repairs. These were the only renovations of Solomon’s Temple recorded in Scripture, and they seemed to be badly needed. Over the centuries since Solomon’s reign the temple had deteriorated and gone through periods of neglect, and worse, misuse, and the temple priests had been trying to make repairs themselves to save money; they were like the homeowner who was untrained in carpentry or masonry trying to make repairs to his home rather than call in a professional contractor.

I’ve been shown by the Spirit three lessons to learn from these essential repairs ordered by two great reformer kings of Judah:

The first lesson is that all the works of mortal man are doomed to decay and ultimately failure. All of our magnificent structures, from the massive pyramids of Egypt and Central America to the most modern of skyscrapers will someday be reduced to rubble. In the case of the pyramids of Giza it may take millenia (they are already roughly 5,000 years old), while in the case of skyscrapers it may only take a century or two. This natural decay of what we build can be delayed by diligent maintenance and repair programs, as in the case of the Great Wall of China or Western cathedrals, but ultimately the structure will fail. Nothing that is built “to last forever” actually will.

Second is the fact that the church often needs its own repair and restoration, and I’m not referring to church buildings. The Christian church as a whole, or the Body of Christ, has been described by the apostle Paul as “the temple of the living God” (2nd Corinthians 6:16), and therein lies the correlation. In 2,000 years of Christian history there have been many periods of decay in the form of straying from the truth, followed by periods of spiritual restoration. The Reformation in the 1500s is the best known restoration of the church to Gospel truth but not the only one. Many reformers came to prominence, from the time of the Arian controversy in the 4th Century through Wycliffe, Hus and Tyndale to the Great Awakening of the early 1800s and the revivalist movements of the 20th Century; all were repairs and renovations to the living temple of Jesus Christ.

And third, as individual believers we find ourselves in need of repair and renovation in the form of repentance and refreshment. Every believer occasionally hits dry spells when we need our Lord deeply, and sometimes we make mistakes and we sin in one way or another. That is when we need His renovation of our hearts and minds through repentance, prayer and the Scriptures. If we try to avoid His renovation we stay in a state of disrepair and decay, and while we might still seem impressive to others, upon closer inspection we see the scars and marks left by a harsh world. And only by humbling ourselves before God can we be restored like the temple of old. That’s when we once again become what He has called us to be so we can serve His purpose in a dying, desperate world.

Pray for each other always, my friends. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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