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
“And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” (Luke 4:42-44)
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
What Exactly is Progressive Parallelism? The short answer is that it is the cornerstone of the amillennialist position and without it they have no basis to contend we are currently in the millennial kingdom. I hope that I can make clear their contentions and reveal the theological gymnastics that must be accepted to give credence at all to this view of eschatology. Please examine the following Scriptures from Revelation.
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.”