The consequences of institutionalized slavery bringing Divine judgment was not lost on many Americans and was a major theme of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address. Lincoln knew that God had “His own purposes” in bringing the Civil War to the American people. God brings “woe unto the world because of offenses… (and) if we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses,” then “He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came.”
“Superstition has fixed most positively the day of our Saviour’s birth, although there is no possibility of discovering when it occurred. It was not till the middle of the third century that any part of the Church celebrated the birth of our Lord; and it was not till long after the western Church had set the example, that the eastern adopted it. Because the day is not known, probably the fact is that the “holy” days were arranged to fit in with the heathen festivals.” Charles Spurgeon
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it. Exodus 25:1-9
The Jewish people are in their homeland. And yes they are still returning because the Lord has said “He will send out the angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven” (Mark 13:27). For when the time was right He brought His people home. When the time came, when their return was necessary for the fulfillment of Scripture, He brought them home. So there will be a time when the Third Temple will be rebuilt.
Solomon’s temple was the place where “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.” (Psalm 29:10). “The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters.” (Psalm 29:3). The Psalmist’s flood was the abundant natural spring gushing up from within the temple area that Aristeas saw in the Second Temple. The gushing fountain of water pouring tons of water through Hezekiah’s tunnel every minute under the temple. This was the “river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. (Psalm 46:4)
As our Bordeaux traveler enters the Upper City through the Sion Gate he starts north toward the Damascus Gate and records a remarkable observation: “From thence as you go out of the wall of Sion, as you walk north towards the gate of Neapolis, towards the right, below in the valley, are walls, where was the house or praetorium of Pontius Pilate”. This walled platform on Mount Moriah is a huge edifice of over 10,000 stones. This site is currently and has for almost 2000 years been the center of intense conflict and the focal point of religious passion in the birthplace of the Abrahamic religions. We need now to question whether the Jewish Temples were ever on this Moriah Platform. We need to realize that the struggle is not over the site of the Jewish Temple, but over a Roman Fort.
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44
And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
In A.D. 70, Jesus’ words were literally and precisely fulfilled when God brought to Jerusalem the Roman army under Titus Vespasian to destroy the city and the entire temple complex.
The day of their victory dawned, and they marched from the prison to the amphitheatre joyfully as though they were going to heaven, with calm faces, trembling, if at all, with joy rather than fear. Perpetua went along with shining countenance and calm step, as the beloved of God, as a wife of Christ, putting down everyone’s stare by her own intense gaze. With them also was Felicitas, glad that she had safely given birth so that now she could fight the beasts, going from one blood bath to another, from the midwife to the gladiator, ready to wash after childbirth in a second baptism.
Soldier of Christ, if thou enlisteth, thou wilt have to do hard battle. There is no bed of down for thee; there it no riding to heaven in a chariot; the rough way must be trodden; mountains must be climbed, rivers must be forded, dragons must be fought, giants must be slain, difficulties must be overcome, and great trials must be borne. It is not a smooth road to heaven. Charles Spurgeon
The Didache is, in all probability, the oldest surviving piece of non-canonical literature that we have access to today. It is not so much a letter as a handbook for new Christian converts, consisting of instructions derived directly from the teachings of Jesus.
As we read through Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 and 2 Timothy, we see that these churches were spiritually healthy as Paul last ministered in this region. But by the time Revelation was written, approximately thirty years later, five of these same churches had suffered serious spiritual decline. Ephesus had left its first love, and most of the rest had been infiltrated by false doctrine and sin. Only two of the seven that Jesus addresses are not condemned by Him in some fashion, Smyrna and Philadelphia, yet today none of the seven currently exist. So, what are we to make of this?
Remember how your fathers, in times gone by, defended God’s truth, and blush, ye cowards, who are afraid to maintain it! Remember that our Bible is a blood-stained book; the blood of martyrs is on the Bible, the blood of translators and confessors. The pool of holy baptism, in which many of you have been baptized, is a blood-stained pool: full many have had to die for the vindication of that baptism which is “the answer of a good conscience toward God.” The doctrines which we preach to you are doctrines that have been baptized in blood, swords have been drawn to slay the confessors of them; and there is not a truth which has not been sealed by them at the stake, or the block, or far away on the lofty mountains, where they have been slain by hundreds. Charles Spurgeon
“Christ was sent into the world by his Father, as the consequence of the Father’s affection for his people. Yea, he “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. The fact is, that the Father as much decreed salvation, as much effected it, and as much delighted in it, as did either God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit. And when we speak of the Saviour of the world, we must always include in that word, if we speak in a large sense, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, for all these three, as one God, do save us from our sins. The text puts away every hard thought concerning the Father, by telling us that it pleased Jehovah to bruise Jesus Christ. The death of Christ is traceable to God the Father. Let us try if we can see it is so.” Charles Spurgeon
“He is as truly-born, as certainly a child, as any other man that ever lived upon the face of the earth. He is thus in his humanity a child born. But as Jesus Christ is God’s Son, he is not born; but given, begotten of his Father from before all worlds, begotten—not made, being of the same substance with the Father.” Charles Spurgeon
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
“No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Martin Luther King quoted from Amos 5:24
As he began the last year of his life, he wrote, ‘To all appearance the present year will be more perilous than any I have seen, but if I live to complete the Persian New Testament, my life after that will be of less importance. But whether life or death be mine, may Christ be magnified in me. If he has work for me to do, I cannot die’.
“Love to God, and love to Christ, and love to saints for God and Christ’s sake, and the enjoyment of the fruits of God’s love in holy communion with God, and Christ, and with holy persons—this is what we have a relish for; and such is our renewed nature, that such happiness suits our disposition and appetite and wishes above all other things; and not only above all things that we have, but above all that we can conceive it possible that we could have. The world does not afford anything like it.”
Jonathan Edwards. “Heaven: A World of Love”
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
The Lord had called the prophet Amos to speak to the people so that they would come to their senses and repent, yet he seems not to have made very much of an impression on them, because most of them had failed to mend their ways. Israel was continuing to live under the delusion that because God had chosen and loved them, he would protect them to the end of their days—regardless of their behavior. God’s imminent judgment on Israel would not be a mere punitive blow to warn, but an almost total destruction. Following the conquest of the northern kingdom by the Assyrians in 721 BC the ten tribes were scattered throughout the Assyrians empire. Should America read Amos closely and turn from their national sin?
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18
“Christ was emphatically chosen out of the people. He was with them in all their toils and all their woes—so with them that none of them were more poor than He. “Foxes have holes,” He said, “and the birds of the air have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have not where to lay My head.” He was so poor that I never read He left a will about His worldly goods and chattels. All that He had of personal estate was just the garments He wore and those the soldiers parted among them—and there He was, naked, dead and indebted to charity! For a tomb, He had not even a sepulcher of His own—not a sorry six feet of earth in which His sleeping body might have rested in its own freehold—it was a borrowed tomb that gave the Savior a refuge.” Charles Spurgeon
14 And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. 15 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed.” Jeremiah 14:14-15
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:1-6
The practical remark has often been made that many of the things which now frighten Christians and fill them with anxiety would cease to frighten them if they would endeavor to see the Lord Jesus in all, ordering every providence and overruling everything so that not a hair falls to the ground without Him. They are happy who can hear His voice through the thickest clouds and darkness, and above the loudest winds and storms, saying, “It is I; do not be afraid.” R.C. Ryle – Notes on the Gospel of John
Remember how your fathers, in times gone by, defended God’s truth, and blush, ye cowards, who are afraid to maintain it! Remember that our Bible is a blood-stained book; the blood of martyrs is on the Bible, the blood of translators and confessors. The pool of holy baptism, in which many of you have been baptized, is a blood-stained pool: full many have had to die for the vindication of that baptism which is “the answer of a good conscience toward God.” Charles Spurgeon
And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:30:33
Securing salvation for His people was “finished” at the Cross, however His care for His redeemed people will never be finished. His care and His love for His people will never end and has no limits. All the power of the Father’s omnipotence is Christ’s, the all-knowing Omniscience of the Father is Christ’s, the ever-present Omnipresence of the Father is Christ’s. Christ is the exact essence of the Father. Like the Father He is all knowing, all powerful, and ever present. He is perfectly capable of hearing our prayers, discerning our needs and accomplishing the Father’s will in our life. He is our intercessor and our only intercessor with the Father.
“When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars which Thou hast made – What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?” Ah, brethren in Christ, when you go out at night and view the wondrous heavens, and then think of your own utter insignificance; when you meditate upon the glory of God’s majesty and holiness; then think of your own exceeding sinfulness, and are bowed into the dust; remember, that by wondrous and sovereign grace, you have been not only predestined to be conformed to His image, but that you should, as a joint-heir with Him, share His inheritance.” Arthur W. Pink
“The Holy Ghost revealed much of precious truth and holy precept by the apostles, and to His teaching we would give earnest heed; but when men cite the authority of fathers, and councils, and bishops, we give place for subjection, no, not for an hour. They may quote Irenaeus or Cyprian, Augustine or Chrysostom; they may remind us of the dogmas of Luther or Calvin; they may find authority in Simeon, Wesley, or Gill—we will listen to the opinions of these great men with the respect which they deserve as men, but having done so, we deny that we have anything to do with these men as authorities in the church of God, for there nothing has any authority, but “Thus saith the Lord of hosts.” ” Charles Spurgeon
“Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:16-17)
“His delight is in the law of the Lord.” He is not under the law as a curse and condemnation, but he is in it, and he delights to be in it as his rule of life; he delights, moreover, to meditate in it, to read it by day, and think upon it by night. He takes a text and carries it with him all day long; and in the night-watches, when sleep forsakes his eyelids, he museth upon the Word of God. In the day of his prosperity he sings psalms out of the Word of God, and in the night of his affliction he comforts himself with promises out of the same book. “The law of the Lord” is the daily bread of the true believer.” Charles Spurgeon
“I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite sure that if God had not chosen me I should never have chosen him; and I am sure he chose me before I was born, or else he never would have chosen me afterwards; and he must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why he should have looked upon me with special love” -Charles Spurgeon
Good Christians can disagree on the tax code, the Affordable Care Act, the size of the military and many other issues, however matters of faith, such as the sanctity of life, is a matter of Christian ethics clearly defined in Scripture. The sanctity of the life of the unborn child is intrinsically entwined in the value our God places on all life. Throughout Scripture, God affirms the value of every human life—from children in the womb to the elderly. Throughout Scripture God attests to His love for all mankind regardless of any of the caveats that we as fallen creatures have personally placed on that value.
Referred to in Jewish literature as “That Man”, so that they didn’t have to write out his name, or alternatively “Yeshu” (.י.ש.ו)- which stands for “May his name be forever erased and forgotten”, Jesus has been avoided in polite conversation among in Jewish communities for most of the last two millennia. Reviled as a traitor and heretic, and blamed for the bloody persecution and murder of Jews at the hands of the church for centuries, Yeshua was considered straight out dangerous.
How do we define the character of a Christian? What is it that sets us apart from the world of non-believer’s? The mark of a Christian, the defining mark of the Christian walk, is that people should be able to see Christ’s character and love in us. The love of Jesus was revealed to us in God’s Word. The love of Christ is the measure of love that each of us should aspire to in our lives. His love is measured by His amazing statement that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). That is the highest standard of love.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14). We see God’s proclamation – His promise to His people of a Redeemer, the Promised One. We are told that this Messiah will be born to a virgin and will be called Immanuel. We then see the fulfillment of this promise in the New Testament.
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.”
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:16
For when in the body our brothers in the faith so witnessed the wickedness of the sinful world. For Satan threw at them all that he could. “They stood firm with trembling limbs, and their minds were constant before God in a struggle witnessed by angels, men and demons. The angels awaited the departure of their souls for the purpose of conducting them to their destiny. Men awaited their end and tested the endurance of their human nature to discover if their fear and hope for the future would triumph over pain. The demons were especially curious to see these athletes fall and come to ruin, but their expectations were dashed because God had strengthened them.”
Supersessionism, also called replacement theology or fulfillment theology, is a theological doctrine held by some on the current status of the church in relation to the Jewish people and Judaism. It holds that the Christian Church has succeeded the Israelites as the definitive people of God or that the New Covenant has replaced or superseded the Mosaic covenant. Paul clearly contradicts this when in Romans 11 he writes “Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.”
“As the waters overtook the matron martyr the younger woman was implored by her friends to give in to her persecutors, yet she continued to pray and recited verses from the 25th Psalm. Her executioners continued to try to break her and she was “Dragged half-dead from the waters, [and] urged again ‘to pray for the king’…. She had already been overwhelmed in the horrors of death; the black devouring floods were hissing at her feet, as if greedy for their prey; life, and the sweets of life, inviting her one way; death, in one of his most wild and horrific forms, yawning to swallow her up the other way.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:37-40).
“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture.”
To understand that Jesus is the manifestation of the Father, that He is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, we need look no further than His own words. “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” He is, therefore, God in human flesh. Paul tells us that “in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” (Colossians 1:19). The ESV translates Hebrews 1:3 as Jesus having “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” Other translations read that Jesus “expresses the very character of God” (New Living Translation)….
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7).
God is near to everything and everyone at every moment. He is with you now and wherever else you may be later. At those times when we question where God is in our lives the Psalmist has assured us that God scrutinizes our path and our lying down, and is intimately acquainted with all our ways. (Psalm 139:3). He is always with us. If there were any borders to which God could not reach, if there were any place where God could not be, then that place would mark the confines or the limits of God. And if God had limits, God could not be the infinite God that we know. He would not be the God that Scripture has revealed to us. He could not be the God that our faith rests upon.
“Since He has at His command all the power in the universe, the Lord God omnipotent can do anything as easily as anything else. All His acts are done without effort. He expends no energy that must be replenished. His self-sufficiency makes it unnecessary for Him to look outside of Himself for a renewal of strength. All the power required to do all that He wills to do lies in undiminished fullness in His own infinite being.” – A.W. Tozer
The righteousness of God is one of the most prominent attributes of God in the Scriptures, and, as with all attributes it is intertwined and complementary with all His others. God’s righteousness complements His holiness, His goodness, His justice, His love, His mercy, His faithfulness, and His wisdom. His righteousness is perfected through His omniscience, His omnipotence and His sovereignty. His righteousness, therefore, is the standard of righteousness that distinguishes Him from all other beings.
Those who refuse to serve the Lord should be frightened by God’s omniscience, because God knows of every sin. For God’s own, however, the implications of God’s knowledge are sources of peace and strength. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33). “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.” (1 John 3:21-24).
“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11-12).
Knowing God is understanding God. The God that we worship, the author of our salvation, the God of creation, has always desired that we know of Him and understand Him. The many attributes of God that are revealed in His Word define His character. These attributes are many and they are the defining measure of all good things. They are the standard of perfection that we as Christians are called on to aspire to.
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9
As we struggle through life it is important that we remember where our help comes from. The Lord has promised many times in His Word that His steadfast love for us “will endure forever”. (Psalm 136). This enduring love is assured to us by His ever presence in our lives because it is written “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8).
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:8-11).
Christ’s kingdom is spiritually active in the world today in the hearts and in the lives of His people. God has promised and assured us that one day Christ will return to physically reign on this earth over His Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 11:15; 20:6). We need to take hold of this hope and believe what He has promised us, that one day He will reign as a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. With the chaos of this world we need to take hope knowing that the Millennial Kingdom will be one of peace without end and ruled by our Lord with justice and with righteousness. Take heart, because in this Kingdom we are told that “If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.” (2 Timothy 2:11-12).
It is foolish and wasteful for those who were told to make disciples for the God of the universe to devote any time trying to bring people better morality or better living conditions through political means. We have been commissioned to bring the world the Gospel, which offers eternal life and a hope that politics never will. I believe that as Christians our task is the proclamation of the Gospel and we should not be sidetracked by the political culture of our day.
Augustine’s beliefs led to his allegorizing much of the Bible, the prophetic sections in particular. In Augustine’s approach, the last days were no longer the last days; Israel was no longer Israel; Jerusalem was no longer Jerusalem; the house of David was no longer the house of David; and a thousand years did not mean a thousand years. Under this allegorical system of interpretation, the Bible became largely subjective – it could mean whatever the reader wanted it to mean.
The fury of Rome which was to come down on the Waldenses could not wipe out these people of faith. Philippe de Marnix, Baron de Saint Aldegonde observed, “it is the work of God;since whatever diligence the popes and their clergy have used, employing the assistances of princes and secular magistrates, they have not been able to exterminate them, nor by proscriptions, banishments, excommunications, publications of crusades, and pardons to all those who would wage war upon them; nor by all sorts of torments, fires, flames, gibbets, and cruel blood-shedding, have been able to hinder their doctrine from spreading itself almost through all the ends of the earth.”
There are many that believe that the timing of the Millennial Kingdom is a third tier issue and dismiss those that believe differently as holding onto an issue of little consequence too tightly. They avoid entirely the fact that at the heart of the millennial issue is a first tier issue. At the very heart of the issue is the method of interpreting Scripture.
Chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation were not only written to the churches Jesus is addressing in the late first century, they were written to all churches throughout the Church Age. There are many insights we need to grasp from these letters. Yes, two of the churches were commended, yet five were rebuked. We need to remember that Jesus Himself is giving these commendations and rebukes, so we need to listen and heed what He is saying because they apply to us today every bit as much as to the seven. As we sit in our pews we should strongly consider which of these churches our own church more closely resembles.
The most significant of all God’s trustworthy promises was the promise that He would send His Son, the Messiah and Savior, into the world. In 2 Corinthians 1:20, Paul wrote, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12).
“Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5:9). “This is the seventh step of the golden ladder which leads to blessedness. The name of peace is sweet, and the work of peace is a blessed work. Blessed are the peacemakers. Observe the connection. The Scripture links these two together, pureness of heart and peaceableness of spirit. The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable (James 3:17). Follow peace and holiness (Hebrews 12:14). And here Christ joins them together pure in heart, and peacemakers, as if there could be no purity where there is not a study of peace. That religion is suspicious which is full of faction and discord.” The Beatitudes by A.W. Pink, The Seventh Beatitude
“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48). That’s a very high standard indeed. God’s absolute purity is God’s standard for the heart!
Mercy, therefore is a fruit of the born again Christian’s character. Because mercy is reflected in the essence of Christ’s character we therefore must show mercy in our lives. His life and substitutional death was the ultimate act of mercy for an undeserving people – namely us. God was not required to show mercy on us but having done so we can do no less. Having been the recipients of His wondrous mercy, we cannot help but now act mercifully toward others.
“He has no stately form or majesty… He was despised and forsaken of men… He was oppressed and He was afflicted… like a lamb that is led to slaughter … that He was cut off out of the land of the living,” and “His grave was assigned with wicked men” (Isaiah 53:2-3, 7-9)
Charles Spurgeon sums up a great point as we study the Beatitudes. The ordering of them by our Lord was not by random. Spurgeon writes “Not only do the Beatitudes rise, one above another, but they spring out of each other, as if each one depended upon all that went before. Each growth, feeds a higher growth….”
Mourning is hateful and irksome to poor human nature. From suffering and sadness our spirits instinctively shrink. By nature we seek the society of the cheerful and joyous. Our text presents an anomaly to the unregenerate, yet it is sweet music to the ears of God’s elect. If “blessed,” why do they “mourn”? If they “mourn,” how can they be “blessed”? Arthur Pink, The Beatitudes, Page 6, Kindle Edition.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit.” What is poverty of spirit? It is the opposite of that haughty, self-assertive, and self-sufficient disposition that the world so much admires and praises. It is the very reverse of that independent and defiant attitude that refuses to bow to God, that determines to brave things out, and that says with Pharaoh, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?” (Ex. 5:2). To be poor in spirit is to realize that I have nothing, am nothing, and can do nothing, and have need of all things.”
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.” Isaiah 9:6-7
In Christ we are heirs of the Father, adopted into His family. In Christ we need to fully understand our position in that family. Scripture clearly attests to our metamorphosis from darkness into the light. Scripture clearly define how exactly we are a new creation.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” Romans 12:9-14
“He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against ation,neither shall they learn war anymore.” Isaiah 2:4
Please pray for the estimated 60 million Christian believers in China as the government cracks down on religion. The government has begun to remove crosses from church buildings and recently held a “religious affairs work conference” to rein in religious groups across the country.
“Nothing whatever is left obscure or ambiguous; but all things that are in the Scriptures, are by the Word brought forth into the clearest light, and proclaimed to the whole world.” (Martin Luther Bondage of the Will, 25-29)
The clarity of Scripture was a cornerstone of the Reformation and established an important principle: That the Word of God was revealed in an understandable way, that its central message is clear, and that because it is clear all men are fully accountable to its message.
“A unifying hope of the Tanakh is the coming of Mashiach and the establishment of the Kingdom of G-d among humanity. One purpose of this book is to review with an open mind and discuss the contents of these prophecies about Mashiach. Let’s start with a quote from a passage about Mashiach in the Tanakh book of Malachi 3: 1-6