What happen a Christian dies? In the final subject of 1st Thessalonians chapter four that is the subject. We read in verse 13 “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
You notice the word ignorant. Paul wanted to put them at rest and give them a
sure hope for the future. God wanted them to know that is a sure hope in the future for believers who do die. We noticed the term sleep. It is a term that was used in the
New Testament to refer to a person’s dying. This thought probably began with Jesus when He and the disciples were down at the Jordan River. Word came from Mary and Martha that Lazarus was very sick. Come quickly was their encouragement to Jesus. But Jesus stayed down there at the Jordan River for a couple of days before beginning his two-day journey to Bethany to the home of Lazarus. But while He was there He was taking the disciples about Lazarus. Towards the end of His conversation with them He said Lazarus is asleep. I’m glad for your sake that I wasn’t there. One of the disciples said well if he is sleeping he is probably getting better. No Jesus said, Lazarus is dead.
He used the term “sleep” because what happens to a child of God is not what happens to a sinner who dies. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. And he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And if you live and believe in Me, you will never die.”
What did Jesus mean “if you live and believe in Me you will never die?”
The Bible has two definitions for death. The first definition for death is the separation of a man’s spirit from his body. The term is used in the Bible, “and he gave up the ghost or he gave up the spirit.” There came a separation of his consciousness from his body.
That is used today as a definition for death. When a person is in a terminal state, has lapsed into a coma, has been placed on life support systems they connect an EEG probe. And they watch the brain wave activity as it is monitored on the little graph by the bouncing needle. And as long as that needle is bouncing they know that the brain is still functioning, though the person is in a coma. But when that line goes flat then they remove the life support system and they say they are dead, clinically dead. There’s no more brain activity and so the life support system is removed.
A Biblical definition of death is the separation of a man’s consciousness from his body. Obviously that is not the definition that Jesus is thinking about when He said “if you live and believe in Me you will never die!” And I am glad for that!
There is the second definition for death in the Bible. That is the separation of a man’s consciousness from God. And you, Paul said, “has He made alive who were dead in your trespasses and sins.” That is why Jesus said, “that you’ve got to be born again!” There’s got to be a Spiritual birth! And when Jesus said, that He who believes in Me, shall never die, He is making reference to Spiritual death, which is the separation of your consciousness from God. He is saying that you will never be consciously separated from God!
When our spirit leaves these bodies Paul said, “that we know that when this earthly tent, talking about this body, is dissolved, when it goes back to dust, we have a building of God, that’s not made hands, that’s eternal in the heavens!” This body isn’t eternal. This body is in the process of decay.
Thus, Jesus said, if you live and believe in Me you will never die, that is you will never be consciously separated from God. And death is only a shadow that crosses your path as you are walking to the Father’s house. Daivid wrote in Psalm 23 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou are with me, Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. And surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Notice the emphases“I shall dwell in the house of the Lord, forever!” It is not a maybe.
So one day my path and your path is going to take a turn into the valley. In that valley there will be a shadow that crosses the path. He will take me by the hand and take me beyond the shadow. You can’t have a shadow though without light. He takes me into the light of My Father’s house, where I am going to dwell forever, in my Father’s house.
So Paul said, I wouldn’t have you to be ignorant concerning those which are asleep a term used for the believers because Jesus said, “if you live and believe in Me you will never die.” So, they say well he’s died! That isn’t really quite correct he moved! At the moment of death, the Bible tells he moved from the his earthly tent into a mansion. What’s so bad about that? He moved from a worn out tent, a moth-eaten tent to a to a beautiful new mansion.
Now Paul has taught the church that Jesus was coming back and was going to establish the kingdom of God upon the earth. It was going to be glorious kingdom because when Jesus comes again the earth is going to just be filled with righteousness, with joy, with peace. We’re going to live in a perfect environment. And it’s going to be absolutely beautiful! There will be no pain. There will be no wars. There will be no crime. It’s going to be just an ideal, beautiful, earth just to enjoy. And he was telling them about how glorious it will be when Jesus comes again and establishes the Kingdom of God upon the earth.
The next few weeks we are going continue to examine what Paul started to say in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. I do in closing want to ask you what is your future? What is the future of the church? What should I be doing? Am I ready? I hope that you will take time to consider these questions concerning your life. Are you ready.
I will leave you with the lyric below form singer / songwriter Larry Norman.
I Wish We’d All Been Ready
“Life was filled with guns and war
And all of us got trampled on the floor
I wish wed all been ready
The children died, the days grew cold
A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold
I wish wed all been ready
There's no time to change your mind
The son has come and you've been left behind
A man and wife asleep in bed
She hears a noise and turns her head he's gone
I wish wed all been ready
Two men walking up a hill
One disappears and ones left standing still
I wish wed all been ready
The father spoke, the demons dined
How could you have been so blind?
I hope we all be ready
You've been left behind
You've been left behind
You've been left behind”
1Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ: 2Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But he that
lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
12Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. 13Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; 14Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me. 15Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.
16For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
19We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
So, “How Should We Live In The last days”?
1A. BE CONTROLLED BY DIVINE POWER!
II Peter 1:1-11
WHY? To keep you from falling - v. 10 cf. Jude 24-25
The problem here is that of PERSONAL DEFEAT AND DISCOURAGEMENT!
4 things we can observe here:
1B. It PROVIDES all we need - v. 3 - II Pet. 1:8
“all things that pertain unto life and godliness”
“through the knowledge of Him” – epi-gnosis in various forms 64 times
Col. 1:9-10 knowledge from above.
2 Peter 1:3
"As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue." as His divine power
"As" is a marker of a reason--on the grounds that, because. Because God's power has given us everything we need, we possess well-founded assurance to live the Christian life. "Divine" means pertaining to God. Peter talks about the power pertaining to God. "Divine" speaks of the attributes of God.
This is God seen from the standpoint of His attributes. "Divine" then is all that bears the stamp of God. It is what God is and especially what proceeds from Him.
Here Peter sees God especially from the attribute of power. Divine, then, means the manifested presence of God. It is the bloom of His character, His glory (John 1:14, 18).
In the previous verse, Peter summons Christians to gain a "full-knowledge" of God. In this verse, we now come to understand what he means. God is a God of power. That power is available to us.
We have the possibility to address our problems beyond operation bootstraps. The word for "power" here is inherent power and refers to God's potency. We enjoy built-in power to live the Christian life. God guarantees us power to live in God's strength. God makes it possible for us to win.
The word "knowledge" in this verse is an intense word. It means to know thoroughly. We must know God with discernment and full knowledge.
Knowledge of God is not obscure. We cannot grow in knowledge of God (2 Peter 3:18) with a closed Bible.
Rather we increase in the knowledge of God as we increase in the knowledge of God's Word. The more we know the Bible, the more we know God. We cannot know how to live the Christian life without the Bible.
BE CONTROLLED BY DIVINE POWER
1B. It PROVIDES all we need
2B. It PROMISES complete victory - v. 4b
"By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, “having escaped the corruption that is in the World through lust”
This is the only occurrence of the superlative "exceedingly" in the New Testament. This speaks of the magnitude of God's promises.
God describes His promises with three outstanding qualifications: exceedingly, great and precious. First, God's promises exceed any promise you ever heard.
We know what it means to "exceed" the speed limit. It means to go beyond. God's promises go past man's promises. His promises are bigger and better than anything man can do.
The second description of God's promises is they are "great." We abuse this word today. Everything is "great." We have great automobiles and great hotdogs! When everything is great, nothing is great. However, when the Bible uses the word "great" it carries impact.
and precious promises
The third description of our promises is they are "precious."
"Precious" carries the idea of value or worth.
God's promises are valuable. God's promises are extremely important to the believer. The promises of God are of considerable worth to those who use them. Peter uses "precious" for faith (1 Peter 2:7; 2 Peter 1:1) and for Christ's blood (1 Peter 1:19).
God's promises are His guarantees to us that He will be there for us. That is why when He makes a promise they are valuable.
BE CONTROLLED BY DIVINE POWER! - WHY?
1B. It PROVIDES all we need - v. 3
2B. It PROMISES complete victory - v. 4b
3B. It PRODUCES fruit - vv. 8-9
1C. Instead of spiritual barrenness - v. 8 Greek: argos -
“useless” or “unproductive”
"For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
For if these things
"These things" are the chorus of seven character qualities of the previous verses. Every time the words "these things" occur they refer to the seven building blocks of Christian character.
When a Christian develops the seven sub-structures of his faith, he will be effective and productive. The necessary consequence of adding one characteristic to another, is fruit and productivity.
These seven qualities will cause the five effects in verses 8 and 9.
The words "are yours" implies possession and makes the point that the seven characteristics of the previous verses "belong" to Christians who grow.
As these qualities increase in measure so does effectiveness.
The word "are" in this verse is a strong word "are."
This word "are" means to be identical with, to be in a state, normally with the implication of a particular set of circumstances.
It carries the idea to exist, particularly in relation to ownership.
This always involves a pre-existent state, prior to the fact referred to, and a continuance of the state after the fact.
Thus in Philippians 2:6 the phrase "who being in the form of God" implies Christ's pre-existent deity, previous to His Birth, and His continued deity afterwards.
The word "are" means that which is from the beginning. Something attaches itself to a person and thus belongs to him. The character qualities of verses five through seven are not spasmodic, here one day and gone tomorrow.
All these qualities lie resident in every child of God.
2C. Instead of spiritual blindness - v. 9
Greek: tuphlos - “smokey” or “nearsighted”
For he who lacks these things
A Christian who does not manifest the character qualities of verses 5-7 is spiritually blind.
The word "lack" means is not present.
We can translate this phrase literally, "to whom these things are not present."
Idiomatically this means that the "these things" of verses 5-7 are not "ours."
These character qualities are not present in his life. Are the character qualities of verses 5-7 near your heart? If we possess these things God endows us with spiritual sight.
BE CONTROLLED BY DIVINE POWER!
1B. It PROVIDES all we need - v. 3
2B. It PROMISES complete victory - v. 4b
3B. It PRODUCES fruit - vv. 8-9
4B. It PROTECTS you from falling - v. 10
cf. Jude 24; Psalm 37:23-24
"Therefore" means on which account. "Therefore" makes a close connection of thought to verses 5-9. This is the punch line of verses 5-9.
you will never stumble
"Stumble" means literally fall. We will not become a wretched Christian if we keep the character qualities of verses 5-7. The New Testament often uses "stumble" for the carnal Christian. God makes every provision to keep His children from failing.
When we make our salvation real in our lives, God will keep us from stumbling spiritually.
If you read popular magazines like Time or Newsweek or if you read the technical scientific journals of our day, you will find prophetic studies on what the world will be like in the 21st century and beyond.
The secularists do not call these projections concerning the future "prophecy" because that word has too much of a religious connotation.
Instead of "prophecy" they use the word SCENARIO, which means to outline the coming events. I am sure that you have been required to read much in the area of secular scenarios. Some of you have read any number of the multitude of books which seek to tell us what the future holds.
The Christian in the 20th century can take advantage of the present popularity of prophetic studies in the secular world by putting forth intelligibly the divine, inspired scenario of coming events, While the world can only guess about the future the Christian has a more sure word of prophecy (11 pet. 1:19). We know through Scripture the main points of the future. We must, therefore, be prepared-to give a logical and reasonable reply to anyone who questions us concerning the prophetic hope within our hearts.
2A. BE COMMITTED TO BIBLICAL PROPHECY!
II Peter 1:12-21
WHY? to remember the truth - vv. 12, 13, 15, 19
The problem here is that of SPIRITUAL DECEPTION!
1B. Its IMPORTANCE - vv. 12-18
1C. Based on the stability we need - v. 12
“established” - sterizo - 14 times cf. II Thess. 3:3;
I Peter 5:8-10
and are established
"Established" means to fix, make fast, to set. "Established" means to put or place something firmly in a location -- to cause to be fixed, to establish in a place. The idea is stabilizing someone in truth.
The Lord called upon Peter to stabilize his brethren (Luke 22:32).
Paul wanted to visit Rome to establish them (Romans 1:11) and Timothy at Thessalonica.
(1Thessalonians 3:2). It is the work of God to stabilize the saints (1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:17).
We are to stabilize our own hearts (James 5:8)."Established" carries the idea of strengthening, to cause someone to become stronger or more firm and unchanging in attitude or belief.
Asia Minor saints became stabilized in the truth and were being set fast in truth. Peter's purpose is to set cardinal truth of their faith in their thinking we gain stability by knowing. We first gain knowledge-then stability.
We cannot reverse this process. Stability does not precede knowledge.
We do not gain stability by reading "How to Win Friends and Influence People" or "How to Succeed in Selling?"
2C. Based on the shortness of our lives - vv. 13-15
3C. Based on the statements of eyewitnesses - vv. 16-18
2B. Its IMPACT - v. 19
Peter now continues to explain the implication of his Mount of Transfiguration experience. He draws an even more convincing documentation of truth than the transfiguration.
we have the prophetic word confirmed
The Word of God is surer than an apostolic witness of the account of Mount of Transfiguration. Our faith primarily rests in what God says, not what we experience. The "prophetic word" pertains to inspired utterances – prophetic meaning, "of the prophets." In other words, this is Old Testament Scripture.
"But now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith—to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen" (Romans 16:26-27).
These are people with a firm faith because what they believe in is altogether reliable. We can rely and depend upon the Scriptures because they are trustworthy. "Confirmed" means firm, permanent. "Confirmed" also comes to mean reliable, dependable, certain.
1C. It gives assurance - “a more sure word”
cf. Hebrews 6:18-19 - bebaios - its forms
appear 17 times - including II Pet. 1:10
cf. Rom. 15:8; I Cor. 1:6-8; II Cor. 1:20-21; Col. 2:7
2C. It needs attention - “take heed” - NIV - “pay attention”
3C. It brings anticipation - “until the day
dawn, and the day star arise in your
hearts” - cf. Titus 2:13 - “day star” -
Greek: phosphoros - “morning star”
cf. Rev. 22:16 - “bright and morning star”
Greek: lampros orthrinos aster
3B. Its INTERPRETATION - v. 20
is of any private interpretation
The word “private” means one’s own. A prophet cannot speak his own message. Scripture does not come from the prophet himself. The Scriptures did not come from human origin. Scripture is not the human author’s “own thing.” The Bible is reliable because of its source. Scripture is reliable because God is reliable.
The word “interpretation” means unloosing, solving or explanation. Metaphorically, it means “interpretation.” The word can mean the conveying or uttering of a divine proclamation and therefore carries the idea of “produce” or “bring forth.” Scripture does not come from the human author’s explanation of things. It is not a concoction of their own thinking.
The word “is” means to become something that it was not previously. This probably means that the prophets did not originate Scripture. The Holy Spirit originates Scripture, not human authors. He gives the Bible by revelation. This passage is not talking about the interpretation of the Bible but the origin of the Bible. God used human authors to write the Bible but it does not teach human ideas.
Human authors of Scripture did not put their own spin on Scriptures. The Bible is not man’s ideas about God.
The word “any” means “no” — not even one. Every single Scripture came from God and not men. No Scripture springs from the self-origination of the human author. No single passage of Scripture stands by itself. It must be understood in its context. The Bible also needs to be understood in the consensus of Scripture as a whole. We must understand doctrine in light of the norm of general Scripture teaching. We call this “theology.” We cannot take passages we do not like and ignore them. We must include the entire body of truth from God to form a proper theology. This will deliver us from error.
Every passage of Scripture has one interpretation but many applications. If we give the idea that an application is an interpretation, we misrepresent what God says.
No book in the world is as valuable as the Bible. God’s Word is indispensable because it only tells us the truth about God, Christ, sin and eternity.
Knowing this first,
Invariably, what God asks us to know, we do not know. God wants us to know the subject of this verse “first.” God wants us to know above everything else something about divine inspiration. When we interpret Scripture, we need to know as a leading principle that God inspired the Bible, not men. This is priority.
Peter’s opponents denied the divine origin of Scripture. They claimed that their writings came from visions, signs and dreams. Their prophecies came from themselves, from their own origin. Peter says that apostolic writings came from God, not the human author.
Friends, one of the things we teach here at Agape Chapel is “How to handle the Word of truth”
It is a dangerous practice to pick certain verses out of their context to establish a doctrine. We understand each verse in the light of its context. Otherwise, we could distort the meaning of that passage and operate on misleading and distorted information. This is much like misleading advertising. Misleading advertising misrepresents its product.
4B. Its INSPIRATION - v. 21 2 Peter 2:1
cf. II Timothy 3:16-17
For prophecy never came by the will of man,
Note that this verse begins with a word of explanation – “for.” The previous verse explained that Scriptures did not come from a human source but a divine source.
Scripture does not originate with man. Man does not originate the Bible. The human author received God’s ideas. Scripture comes by divine inspiration. The Bible is not man’s idea. The Bible originates with God. Revelation comes from God to man.
but holy men of God,
If the Bible did not come by man’s will, how did it come? By “holy men of God.” Approximately thirty different men wrote the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament. About eight men wrote the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. God used holy [set apart] men to write Scripture.
These men were not automatons or robots. They used their own personality and vocabulary to write Scripture. The Holy Spirit, however, guarded them from error as they wrote Scripture. He superintended each word they wrote. Therefore, the authors of Scripture made no mistakes. We have the Bible exactly as God intended for us to have it. We can place our confidence in Scripture.
“Holy men of God” are Old and New Testament authors like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John and Paul. God picked certain men to communicate the Bible.
spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit,
“But” implies strong contrast. In contrast to human beings originating Scripture, the Holy Spirit superintended the writing of Scripture.
“Moved” means to carry. The book of Acts uses “moved” for wind carrying a ship (27:15, 17). The Holy Spirit so guided the human author that he wrote without error. That is why Scripture is certain. Therefore, we can trust Scripture because it is the very words of God.
This word “moved” translates “upholds” and “bearing” in the book of Hebrews:
“Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).
“Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:13).
The idea is to carry. The Holy Spirit upholds or bears the writers of Scripture as they write Scripture. The writers of Scripture wrote better than they knew. That is why the Bible is not full of fables.
The Holy Spirit governed the human author as he was in the process of writing Scripture (2 Peter 3:16). The human author was aware of the content that he wrote, but the Holy Spirit “carried” him. The Holy Spirit originates Scripture.
The Holy Spirit so supernaturally superintended Scripture writers that without circumventing their intelligence, their personal literary style or personality, He enabled them to record Scripture with perfect accuracy. Human authors were not automatons or robots who acted like a computer when they wrote Scripture.
The simple truth is, 1A. We need to be controlled by divine power and 2A. Be committed to biblical prophecy!
How about you, is there enough evidence here for you to make an informed decision. A decision to not only have Him as a resident within, but The President?
Until next time, Agape to you…
What does it mean to be living in the last days? The first step you need to do is to examine yourselves to see if you are prepared to meet your God? I pray and hope that you are. If not, it is our prayer that you would prepare yourself to meet God.
Let begin by looking at Amos 4:12-13, “Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel. For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is his name.”
What was the conditions of the nation Israel? They had become a nation that were brought into existence by God. God by great miracles delivered them out of Egypt by leading them through the wilderness and providing manna for their daily food. God gave them the laws to live by for a long fruitful life. God drove out their enemies from before them and gave to them the land he had promised Abraham. There was a general excitement about God but as success and prosperity came they progressively began to lose interest in God as their interest grew in other things, their houses, their crops and their pleasures.
These things began to surpass their interest in God. God sent his messengers to plead with the people to not lose their first love and to come back to that closeness they once knew. As the people continued to drift away from God prophets began to deliver a stronger message declaring the consequences of forsaking God. You may think that you can get away from sin without God noticing but sin has its own consequences. The path of sin leads to sorrow, suffering and pain. As they began to experience some of the suffering that sin always brings the prophets pointed out to them that these things were the result of worshipping other gods. God then began to allow national calamities to get their attention and to cause them to turn to Him for help.
This is basically what our text is about. God had allowed food shortages with the purpose was to cause them to return to God. When this didn't work He withheld the rain from them which gave them a period of drought. Still they did not seek God or return to Him. Next we see how He allowed crop failures and plagues of locust but this did not wake them up to return to God. God then brought pestilence's such as were brought upon the Egyptians you would think that surely this will arouse them from their deadly lethargy but it didn't. No matter what would happen from wars, volcanic eruptions earthquakes still the people persisted in their evil. All of the invitations of God were met with rejection as they even began to act with violence against the messengers of God. All of the warnings of God were ignored as they were passed off as natural phenomena.
The love of God has been snubbed and the grace of God has been rejected. The patience and longsuffering of God has been exhausted and they are now about to see another side of the nature of God as the wrath of God is to be revealed.
PREPARE TO MEET YOUR GOD
In the book of Hebrews, it declares that it is a fearful thing to fall in the hands of a living God.
IT IS SHEER FOLLY TO MEET GOD AS AN ADVERSARY.
The scripture declares, "Woe to Him who strives with His maker." Isaiah 45:9 How could you possibly ever hope to win. Some of you are striving with God today. The Spirit of God has been convicting you of some of the things that you have been doing. You are fighting against the Holy Spirit and truly to strive with God is a no win situation. If you do win by refusing to bow to His demands, then you will be eternally lost.
I want to highly to encourage you not to strive with God but to surrender to God. Someday all of us will have to stand before our creator we are going to give an account of ourselves. He knows every thought and motive of your heart.
How can I ever stand before Him? God has provided an advocate for me, Jesus Christ. Satan my prosecutor who has been accusing me night and day. He knows that he has the evidence to convict me and he is pressing for the death penalty. For the law says that soul that sinneth shall surely die. My advocate advises me to plead guilty as the evidence against me is overwhelming. He says, let Me plead your case before the judge. As He approaches the bench, He says, "Father, the defendant has entered a plea guilty as charged but this is one who’s guilt I took, I died in their place and I paid the price for their redemption." The gavel will come down and the Judge will declare "Justified". Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God who has justified. Who is he that condemned? It is Christ who has died, ye has risen again, and is even at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. Others of you will be saying to the advocate and tell the Judge how hard I tried to be good. Tell Him how I went to church on occasion. I even sang the songs out of the Hymnal, and dropped something in the offering plate every time it came around. The advocate will look at you and declare, "I don't know you." You will say but Lord, Lord I did wonderful things in your name. He will answer, "Why do you call Me Lord when you never did the things I commanded you?"
The Bible tells us it is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment. Jesus said, "If you will confess Me before men, I will confess you before My Father which is in heaven. But if you deny Me before men, I will deny you before My Father in the presence of the holy angels. This is serious business; you need to prepare to meet God. For someday you are going to be standing before Him, and your standing will be in the righteousness of Christ or in your own righteousness
What should be your number one concern as we are living in the last days? I believe it is that you prepare to meet your God. It is our prayer that you do.
“…but the end is not yet”
And Jesus answered and said to them, “Take care that no man lead you astray.” The word “deception” is never used once in the Bible. (Except in English) Words such as “carried away” or “Led astray” carry the greater idea.
Matthew is the most Jewish book in the New Testament. (Brit Hadasha) Students of the Word must give great attention to the grammar of this amazing book. This verse begins the Olivet Discourse proper. Jesus answers questions about “the sign of Your coming” and “the end of the age” from verses 4 through 44. This section deals with the Tribulation. The Tribulation is the 70th week of Daniel (Dan 9:27).
The first three-and-a-half years of the Tribulation run from verses 4 to 14. The last three-and-a-half years are the Great Tribulation, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. (Jer 30:7) The latter is a time of unprecedented tribulation on earth.
And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives [leads astray] you.
Jesus warned His disciples about premature claims of His coming. There will be a difference between the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and His Second Coming. We need to distinguish between a partial fulfillment and full fulfillment prophetically. There will be many fakers claiming to be the Messiah. There are many false teachers today as well:
1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. (2 Pet 2)
v4. Take heed that no man deceive you — the disciples no doubt believed that the time when Jerusalem would be destroyed would be the end of the world. That they had some doubt of this, appears from the fact that they embraced the two events in two separate questions. Our Lord’s first care was, to set them right, in this paragraph. He therefore warns them, that no future false Christ should tempt them to believe that his second advent had arrived; and that no commotion should induce them to fear that the end of the world was nigh.
1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; (1 Timothy 4:1-2)
Jesus is giving these warnings so that none who follow Him might be led astray by events of the future. Men have always had weird ideas about what the future would hold. And they have always looked for, and hoped for, future Messiahs who will arise among men and solve all their problems. But Jesus warns severely against expecting the latter, or interpreting the former in the wrong way. All these things that He is about to describe will come on the world but they are not to be looked on as signs of the end.
We must remember as we consider His words what limited experience of the world the disciples as a whole had. They were largely Galileans whose main adventures in their lives had been regular trips to Jerusalem for particular feasts, and while the twelve had occasionally also visited neighboring countries with Jesus, they had had little real experience of them. Therefore, their knowledge of the wider world was almost non-existent. Once they were facing that wider world, therefore, Jesus knew that they might easily have begun to imagine all kinds of things as a result of seeing and experiencing the tumults among nations and the events that took place there, and even more so when they received news of events on an even wider scale. Jesus then warns them not to take these events, both seen and heard, however spectacular, as signs of the end. They are rather simply to see them as the continual outworking of echoes of His coming on the horizon.
The great question with which we have to do is this, in verse 5 it will not be a few but “many” who will pretend to be the Messiah before and during and the Tribulation. There will be an explosion of false Messiahs. Many will fall for their claims, just as they are doing today!
The sign that you and I should notice from these verses is widespread deception! The reminder to not be troubled and the reason for not panicking is given in verse 6.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
A friend of ours is fond of saying, concerning the Rapture of the church, “pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib, it doesn’t matter to me, when He comes I go!”
How close are we? Are we living in the last days?
The real question? Are you ready?
This is not a drill!
Our we living in the last days that Jesus spoke about? I believe that we are.
Deception is one of the key areas that was stressed to us by Jesus that would be happening during last days. The word deception is defined as; the act of making someone believe something that is not true: the act of deceiving someone: an act or statement intended to make people believe something that is not true.
In fact, Jesus tells that many will be deceived. It seems that one of the most prevalent signs of the last days is that of deception. Jesus warns about deception in verses 5, 11, 24.
How do we keep ourselves from being deceived? One example we can look at in order to protect ourselves from deception is what the government does in order to help them stop counterfeiters. The US Treasury Department has a special group of people whose job it is to track down counterfeiters. They are not trained by spending hours examining counterfeit money. Rather, they study the real thing.
That is what we seek to do. To look at the real person (Jesus) in order that we can determine who and what are counterfeiters. Before we do let gets some background of what is going on in Matthew 24:1-4.
Matthew 24:1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. (KJV)
The disciple seemed to be very excited about showing Jesus the Temple of Herod that he had spent some 40 years in construction. One of the other gospels tell us that the disciples had been talking to Jesus about how impressive the stones were. In fact, according to Josephus they were huge stones. Many of them weighing up to one hundred ten to one hundred and twenty tons. Josephus went to write that Herod used stones that were 37 feet long, 12 feet high, and 18 feet thick. This sounds impossible, however but in the excavations of the retaining wall that Herod built for the Temple mount they uncovered stones that are 45-feet long and 6-feet high and 8-feet thick. How in the world they ever carved these so perfectly and lifted them into position is still a mystery today? The engineering by which Herod built the Western Retaining Wall using many of these same huge stones is still an engineering marvel today. However, they did it.
We now know that Herod did indeed use large stones. You can still the remains of southeast corner of the retaining wall. They have discovered the huge pavement stones that were used for the street in the cheese makers' valley. These huge stones were cracked and fractured by the large stones that lie in random fashion on top of them. They are no doubt the stones that once made up a part of the Temple that were pushed over the wall by the troops of Titus when they demolished the Temple in 70 A.D.
2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
This prophecy of Jesus was literally fulfilled some forty years later, when Titus came into Jerusalem with the Roman troops set fire to the temple, which was the last stronghold in which the inhabitants of Jerusalem were holding out. And so they set fire to the temple actually against Titus' order. He wanted to preserve the temple but some drunken soldier shot a flaming arrow the temple caught fire the people inside were cremated. The gold in the dome melted and came down in these crevasses. And so Roman troops seeking to recover the gold threw down the temple stone by stone until finally not one stone was left standing upon the other.
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
So he sat upon the mount of Olives, they had a great view of the wall of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount area and the surrounding areas. At this point the disciples came unto him privately and they said, tell us when shall these things be? The “these things” being the destruction of the temple that He had just prophesied. When is it going to happen? When is the temple going to be destroyed? Secondly they asked and what will be the sign of your coming. Thirdly they asked and the end of the age?
It is interesting that they are asking concerning the sign of His coming because at this point they were really believing that the kingdom was still going to be immediately set up. And the idea of your coming that is your coming into your kingdom, the end of the age is the end of the world governments. We are living in what the Bible terms the “time of the Gentiles.” It began with the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and the Jews going into captivity. From that time the Jews did not really exist as a nation until 1948, that is a sovereign nation. They were always under the rule of some other power. And so this is what is known in the scripture as the “times of the Gentiles”.
And so they are asking Jesus the signs of His coming, the end of the age, and asking for the time of the destruction of the temple. So in the intervening discourse by Jesus, you have actually intertwined here prophecies of the events that will precede the destruction of the temple, along with prophecies that will be the signs of His coming and the end of the age.
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Continue next week…