There is a song by Chris Sligh, off the Running Back to You album, titled, In a Moment. Lying here on the bed my mind began to wrap around those words, “In a moment” and it made me think of that day, which I do not think is that far away, where we will finally be returned to the arms of the Father who fought so hard to regain us, His family, back to himself.
I just finished my first 12 step group last Thursday 4/10/2014. It has been 10 months of the most amazing changes. Changes I did not think were possible. You see when you are deeply entrenched in your pain, you cannot imagine what it will feel like to be free, let alone breathe again. Thank God, I am free. On the 29th of this month, we will be standing before the audience, presented as graduates.
As I lay there this afternoon, trying to take a nap for I did not sleep well last night and I had to be up early this morning, I saw a vision of myself standing before the audience, all Celebrate Recovery attendees, most of them believers, and I heard this:
We all came here, wracked with pain, struggling to find answers, and our place in this world, but soon, we will be called home to stand before our Father, the Father that has loved us, longed for and fought for this moment with a desire that exceeds any desire that we could imagine. On that day, we will stand there clean, healed, and free of the exhaustion and habits that have beset us. Because on that day we will be changed in a moment, faster than your eye can blink, into someone whole, and free. Welcomed into the arms of love, never to struggle and hurt again.
Sadly, as I saw myself saying these things to the audience, I knew that some would sit there in unbelief. Riddled with hurts and anguish, as I have been, they cannot take it in, while others wept with joy, as I am doing now.
How do I know any of this, because I see it in the word of God. This is one of the many messages that the Apostle John tried to convey to us in 1John.
1 John 2:1-2 NASB My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; (2) and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
“My little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin.”
What is it about the things he wrote that would, or should keep you from sin, or even better, create an atmosphere in you where you do not want to sin?
To answer that we need to understand what John had previously said.
- We heard
- We have seen
- We looked upon
- And our hands have handled of the Word of God.
The Life was manifested (made known) and we bear witness that our fellowship (communion, relationship, companionship) is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
This knowing, understanding, evidence is meant to produce not only a hope but also a confidence that what God said and promised is true.
Why does hope or confidence make you not want to sin? (Keep in mind that loosely translated sin means nothing more than missing the bull’s eye of a larger target.) Maybe because hope is built upon other things (spiritual things) and has everything to do with what motivates your goals, dreams and daily manner of living?
Let us assume that you are not that established and you do sin, rather consistently, then what?
“And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;”
Because of His actions, on our behalf, our relationship, from God’s point of view, is kept free of disgrace and is always open for communication.
Let us probe Genesis; for there I can give you some examples to prove my point, that God has never turned his back on us. Starting at chapter 3 verse 7 they have already acted selfishly and their eyes are now opened. They now understood what evil felt like. How did they respond to that? They both dive behind some bushes and try to form some coverings to hide their bodies, I suppose from each other, but particularly from God.
They heard the sound of God walking in the garden and they hid. How did the all-knowing God respond to that? With something that feels like respect when I read it, he asked where they were. You know He knew where they were, and he can certainly see through bushes. When God speaks with them, He spells out the ramifications of their sin, “makes” clothing for them (there is more to this scene than scripture lays out), and lays out his plan for salvation to them. Part of the clue to understanding this come from his comment to Eve found in Genesis 3:15.
If you fast-forward, the only two sons (since the fall) are old enough to be farmers and we find Able making a sacrifice with a lamb. Where did he come to this understanding? Cain, his brother, kills him out of jealousy and who shows up, God. God never turned his back on any of them. You might assume that they sort of lost contact with and God is just forgotten, but then you have a problem because with that kind of logic you cannot explain Noah.
There is one of character I want to point out, and that is Enoch. Scripture tells us that Enoch walked with God. What does that mean, and how did he learn to do that? It would seem that Adam had another son, Seth. Seth’s lineage produced Enoch and to the best of my understanding, Adam was 600 years old when Enoch came along. There is no better way to comprehend this than to assume that Enoch used to ask grandpa what it was like to walk with God. Enoch paid attention and did just that.
God was everywhere; we just do not look for it.
“and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins”
Propitiation – that word is big enough to choke you. I asked the bible study what that meant (I knew the answer, I had it written down, but I wanted them to answer the question.) The new guy chimed in, after a quick reference check in his bible, with, the atoning sacrifice.
The atoning sacrifice was one that perfectly paid, in full, the debt, but Israel had the priests make these sacrifices all the time, only to blow it five minutes later. This is exactly why the writer of Hebrews had this discussion:
Hebrews 7:26-27 MKJV For such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners and made higher than the heavens, (27) who does not need, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice daily, first for his own sins and then for the people’s sins. He did this once for all, when He offered up Himself.
You find this theme in Hebrews 9: 1-26, where it is clearly spelled out that Christ is that sacrifice, offered once, for all.
It is so hard not to say this – We have got it made. While this is true from God’s point of view, your pushing of boundaries always comes with a payment while you are here on earth.
Have you ever thought about how many there are, sitting in prisons, that lacking knowledge, gave in to their flesh or peer pressure, committed crimes and are in some cases permanent residents of the prison system; all while not realizing that they, if they are in Christ, have a good heart and an unbroken relationship with the Father.
“He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”
Putting himself on the cross brought a result that was all-encompassing. No human will ever be judged, as a prerequisite to an eternal relationship with the Father, based upon sin. We will be judged according to what we did with Jesus Christ, but is that really the end of it?
Look, those that are in Christ will be caught up to meet Him in the air someday very soon. You and I are not the judges of what that entails because there is that scenario in Matthew 25, that details ten virgins, all with intentions to go to the same wedding; and why not, they all have invitations. The end of the story implies that 50% are not ready to go.
I am going to throw this last bit in for free.
After the rapture, we assume that the only persons on earth left are those without Christ, what becomes of them?
Considering that the snatching away of the bride marks the beginning of the seven years of tribulation, the time after the rapture is often called the great tribulation. I happen to believe that the “great” part is specifically referring to the last three-and-one-half years.
(Tribulation is a relative term, for many are experiencing horrendous tribulation even now. Just today 4/10/2104, someone posted a photo of a girl who had her mouth and eye sewed shut because she was a Christian in the nation of Syria.)
Many of those left after the rapture will accept Jesus Christ as Lord. Even that can be loosely defined and here is why. While some will recognize their error and turn to Him, others will attempt to resist the control of the beast. This concept of the beast maybe easier to visualize if I say, the Beast is Islam, and you will be forced to worship Allah, taking some indicator of your submission, or die by the sword. It would seem that choosing against Islam and dying marks you as a martyr for God. Scripture deems you a Saint, and after Jesus Christ returns physically to earth, you will reign over the earth, for a thousand years with Him.
Here is the problem we followers of Christ seem to have. We believe that there must be a clearly stated acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord. Islam will not be that technical. Have you not noticed how Islamic rebels sweep into a Syrian, Christian community and arbitrarily kill everyone. They do not tend to ask questions, and their acts of torture have more to do with sadistic pleasure than a conversion.
John tells us in Revelation that the number of martyred Saints before the throne cannot be counted.
Since this started with my asking a generalized question, what exactly do I have left here on earth? People who come to Christ, and those who wish to see them killed. Scripture defines the haters (killers) as the nations.
In what other scenarios do we see the nations? Read Ezekiel chapter 38 and 39, for they speak both of Israel coming out of the nations, and the nations rising up against Israel with God coming to Israel’s defense.
The nations brought Israel down with Idolatrous ways, and Israel went into captivity among the nations.
Ezekiel 39:7 “My holy name I will make known in the midst of My people Israel; and I will not let My holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.