Category Archives: Future Events and Prophecies

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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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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The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Mark 16:1-7

“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’ But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.”‘”

With the words “He is risen” the whole world changed, the entire universe changed. Jesus won the victory over sin and death when He died on the cross for every sin ever committed, past, present and future, and when He rose from the dead on the third day He proved that our victory was secure. This is the central event in all of history, and the Resurrection changed everything. Through faith in Him our hope and future are secure. Who else can make such a claim? No one. Every other religion, every other philosophy, every other belief system, was founded by someone who lived and died and is still in their grave. Muhammad is still in his tomb; you can see relics taken from the body of Buddha. Confucius is still dead, Ghandi is still dead, Aristotle and Socrates are still dead. Only Jesus stepped out of the grave, alive, vibrant, our reigning King forever. This is why the Gospel changed the world forever. The power displayed in the Resurrection is the same power that changes lives and redeems people today. If you trust in Him you are trusting in our Creator, our Savior, but if you trust in false religions, humanism or the philosophies of mortal humans, you are following someone who still lies in their burial place. If you follow the dead, you will remain dead in your sins, but if you follow the living Christ, you will live forever. Please choose wisely…

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

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Jerusalem the Capital of Israel? Yes!

2nd Samuel 5:6-10

“The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, ‘You will not get in here, even the blind and the lame can ward you off.’ They thought, ‘David cannot get in here’. Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David. On that day, David said, ‘Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water water shaft to reach those “lame and blind” who are David’s enemies. That is why they say “the blind and lame will not enter the palace.”‘ David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the supporting terraces inward. And he became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him.”

King David captured the ancient city of Jerusalem around 1000 BC, and that city remained the Jewish capital until the Roman sack in 70 AD and, in a sense, beyond. The Israelites were in possession of Jerusalem for slightly more than 1000 years before the Roman sack; since then the city has been at the heart of the Jewish religion and an important city for the Christians. From the time of the Muslim conquest in 638 AD until the end of World War I the city remained under Islamic control by various caliphates and then the empire of the Ottoman Turks. From World War I until the creation of the modern Jewish state of Israel in 1948, the city was governed by the British authorities. Since the war declared by her Muslim neighbors immediately after Israel’s independence, the Israelis took possession of West Jerusalem and then in 1967 they captured East Jerusalem from Jordan during the Six Day War.

Today President Trump acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced plans to begin the process of moving the American embassy there. Making a rare political statement of my own, I fully support this move. For almost 2,000 years the Jewish people have longed to return to Jerusalem, and now the city is once again recognized as the capital of Israel, at least by the American government. Israel’s claim to Jerusalem is 3,000 years old, while Christianity has revered the city as the location of where our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, God Among Us, suffered and died for our sins, for 2,000 years. Islam has revered Jerusalem as one of their holy sites for 1400 years. The Jewish people have a definite historical precedence in claiming the city. The Palestinian Authority has for decades seen East Jerusalem as their capital; now, thanks to their intransigence in refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace, East Jerusalem is lost to them. So be it. In the 69 years since Israel has controlled the city (at least the western part), they have peacefully given Christians and Muslims full access – in a peaceful manner – to their holy sites within the city, to the extent of even restricting Jewish activity, including prayers, on the Temple Mount in deference to their Muslim population. They will continue to do so; can the Palestinian Authority state honestly that they would do the same if they had full control of the city? Very doubtful. I fear that given the chance they would follow the example of the Taliban and ISIS and destroy all non-Muslim sites.

So in short, hurrah for Israel and well done to President Trump for making a difficult and unpopular decision that was long overdue. Of course the Jew-haters of the world will condemn this move, they are already starting to. But perhaps the apparently now permanent loss of even East Jerusalem will wake up the Palestinian Authority and the PLO to the fact that Israel is there to stay and that further refusal to come to the table and negotiate in good faith with the Israelis will just cost them more in the future. And since Islam claims at least parts of the Old Testament as valid (the parts they agree with), perhaps they would do well to remember what was said in Numbers 24:9, “May those who bless you be blessed, and those who curse you be cursed!” Jerusalem will forever be the Holy City, the center of the Kingdom of God and the seat of a returned Jesus Christ, ruling the nations with an iron scepter.

To borrow a phrase from the fictional Borg, “resistance is futile”.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. And to all my Jewish friends, a heartfelt shalom!

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A Look at “The Benedict Option”

Romans 12:1-2

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

“I have written the Benedict Option to wake up the church and to encourage it to act to strengthen itself, while there is still time. If we want to survive, we have to return to the roots of our faith, both in thought and practice. We are going to have to learn habits of the heart forgotten by believers in the West. We are going to have to change our lives, and our approach to life, in radical ways. In short, we are going to have to be the church, without compromise, no matter what it costs.”

– Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option

Recently I read one of the most talked about books in the Christian community of 2017, titled The Benedict Option, written by Rod Dreher. I will start by saying that I recommend this book highly to any and every Christian of any denomination who watches the news at night and is apalled and worried for the church. Dreher points out clearly that we are now living in a post-Christian world that is trying to drag Bible believing Christians down with it. As he says, don’t be fooled by the number of churches that you see. He provides much evidence showing that even in the Christian churches there are more and more people who know little about the teachings of the Bible, who go to church because they feel that they should, but somehow fail to live the kind of lives that our Lord and Savior and His apostles taught us to live. Dreher suggests that to preserve our faith intact we need to prepare ourselves to disengage with the mainstream of modern society and form our own tightly bonded communities of believers who can count on each other as we live in an increasingly hostile world.

Critics of Dreher have claimed that he is advocating a return to monasticism or something like it, citing his drawing on the inspiration from the Rule of Benedict, a monk who was very influential in defining what a religious community should be like. While Dreher does recommend insulating ourselves against the pervasive influences of consumerism, moral laxity in society, and the humanistic self-centeredness that has risen since the Enlightenment in the 1700s, he is not saying we should all become hermits or go to live in modern monasteries. What Dreher is saying is that as the world strays further and further from the ways of the Lord we have to pull ourselves back, to stand for our morals and beliefs in the face of severe opposition. We have to become a people separate, living in the world but not being of the world, firm in our commitment to stand for righteousness even in the face of highly motivated and determined opposition. We can no longer afford to live compromised lives.

Really the only aspect of The Benedict Option that I disagreed with was the implication that this age of moral and spiritual decay is a passing phase and that the world will one day want to turn back to the truth and need us to help them along. I think this may in part be because a widespread belief in Christianity is that we will keep going and convert the world. That is not what the Scriptures say. Our world is in a death spiral of rebellion against God and no amount of human effort will be able to correct it at this point. We are now in the last days and Bible believing Christians are in the minority, and that will not improve; look at all the churches that follow false doctrines and other gospels. It is imperative that we be aware and focused on our Lord and on the teachings of Jesus and the apostles as recorded in the Bible, for our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for those of us that he can devour.

My friends, we need to return to the kind of humble, loving but uncompromising faith that the early church had, the kind of faith that conquered the Roman Empire from within and spread over the face of the earth. We need to return to the kind of faith that enabled our spiritual forebears to enter the arena singing praises as they faced lions armed with only a prayer. We need to return to the kind of faith that will not compromise our principles in the name of career, that will rely on God and not politics, that will stand for good morals and Christian ethics even though they are no longer accepted in our society. It is time for us to make our stand against a rising evil that the world calls good, because if we don’t we are lost. We need to pray and study the Scriptures and help each other along and stand, and then, as Paul said in Ephesians 6:13, “after you have done everything, to stand”. The time for half-measures and going along to maintain acceptance is over.

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

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Deceiving the Elect?

Matthew 24:24

“For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible.”

I know that I quote often from the 24th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, but I do so because it is the clearest and most detailed prophecy from our Lord Jesus Himself regarding the signs and events leading up to the end of the age and the return of Christ in power and glory. Verse 24 is a clear and strong warning to those who claim Christ. In the Last Days the Beast/Antichrist and his false prophet will do many things that can lead poorly informed Christians astray. Now many will claim that would be impossible for believers to be led astray like that. My answer is that if it weren’t possible Jesus would not have bothered to warn us against it. But how can this be possible? If they are the elect then they are the chosen ones of God, aren’t they? That is based on the assumption that everyone who claims Jesus is truly saved, but Jesus Himself says otherwise in Matthew 7:21-23, where the Lord rebukes and rejects those who protested that they had prophesied in the name of Christ and driven out demons and performed many miracles. So for whatever reason, these members of Christianity are false believers, but that would be a subject more appropriate to some other time. It is one thing to say “I am a Christian” and quite another thing to be a disciple of Christ and submit to Him all of your life. As Jesus stated, those who persevere to the end will be saved. But back to the question at hand – how could Bible believing Christians be deceived like that? My brothers and sisters, it happens all of the time even today. There are many people today who believe the Bible who have been led astray by various cults and heretical sects. Heresy abounds in these last days and we must know what the Word teaches so that we don’t fall under the sway of false prophets teaching the doctrines of demons that tickle men’s ears. But again, Christians falling for the lies and wonders of the Antichrist and the False Prophet? Here is an example from relatively recent history that shows it’s possible. Germany, 1933; Adolf Hitler has just become Chancellor of Germany. Within weeks of taking office he turned on the Christian church, largely Lutheran. He issues proclamations stating that all churches must swear loyalty and obedience to the Fuhrer only and complete submission to the Nazi Party. The penalty for disobedience is the seizure of church property and imprisonment for church leaders. Seminaries are closed. Christian publishers are shut down. Many churches in Germany give in and swear their utter submission to Hitler in all things, but some bravely refuse. Men like Dietrich Bonhoeffer resist the establishment of a new German state church operating as a wing of the Nazi party, but they are voices in the wilderness and many pay with their lives for standing up to Adolf Hitler. The new state church supports the Nazis right up to the end of the war, and in the difficult post-war period the church overall is rejected for having lost their effective witness of Jesus Christ. My point is this: prior to Hitler’s coming to power, the church in Germany was thriving and vibrant and produced fine pastors and teachers. Yet they were swayed by totalitarian political power and turned from Jesus Christ to accept Hitler as the new Messiah. They were led astray. I believe strongly that this is how it will be at the end of the age. Many apparently legitimate, Bible believing congregations will fall for the power and humanist appeal of the man who will turn out to be the most vicious dictator ever to rule the nations. That, my friends, is why we must be aware. That is why we must test everything against the Scriptures. If we fall for a charismatic personality, or seeming miracles, or fine sounding arguments that have no basis in Biblical truth, we will be led astray and be led into perdition by evil men and women. If it violates Scripture and leads away from complete faith in Jesus and the grace He won for us on the Cross, reject it and run the other way. Don’t fall for a lie.

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

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