Since we have been made right. Romans 5:1-4.

The NASB opens chapter five with this headline.

Peace with God through faith.

Spend any amount of time, in church and someone will tell you that you are just a sinner, saved by grace. Often, they take it a step further and point out how you are only one step away from hell’s flames because of your sin.

Is that the case?

Let’s find out what Paul says about it. Know this; chapter five is not meant to stand alone. It is part of a saga that began with Paul opening his definitive letter to the church in Rome – a church comprised of Jewish believers who were holding fast to traditional and legalistic values, with the words:

I, Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ.

How does Paul’s admission that he is a slave of Jesus Christ, affect our reading of, in this case, chapter 5?

If you thoroughly understood what it means to be a slave, you would cringe at reading that word. The implications of slavery are horrifying And yet, Paul identifies with being a slave to this Christian community. It may add to your understanding if you read Paul’s letter to Philemon, another Jewish believer, who was also a slave owner. Notice that neither here in Romans, or in his letter to Philemon, that Paul does not put down the ghastly treatment and ownership of another human, for it was commonplace. However, we need to know that to identify or speak out against a way of life where 1 in 10 people in Rome was enslaved, was unheard of.

There are so many bits of information that explain to us who Paul is really writing to. I think I covered a touch of history, and how that the Roman’s, under Claudius, expelled the Jews for their insurrections. Apparently, the Jews attributed their revolts to one the Roman’s called Chrestus – Christ Jesus. So Paul then is writing to a primarily Jewish community of believers, who were treating the Gentile converts like slaves, in attitude and mannerisms.

I suppose I included this bit about Paul and slavery because, it seems, Paul was not afraid to speak out against tradition and social behaviors, especially when those practices seem to go against God’s will.

Sadly, a good deal of what we have read in Romans, to this point, is engaged with addressing traditions, mental attitudes, and religious ideals of men.

Here in chapter five, we have this somewhat eye-opening statement.

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. (Romans 5:1-2 NLT)

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith,”

The mere fact that the sentence starts with the word, therefore, tells us that something essential and defining was previously explained. 

Briefly, we have an answer from Paul when he says,

We have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”

Doesn’t the quotation above beg the question, what happened to create, not only the righteousness in us but what did Jesus do?

Fortunately, Romans 4:25 spells out rather succinctly what happened.

Jesus was handed over to die for our sins, and he was raised from death to make us right with God. (Romans 4:25 ERV)

This being made right by God didn’t just happen; it took some participation on our part, and Paul, in Romans 5:1-2, makes that clear.

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.”

As I stated in beginning, some, feeling threatened, will condemn you to hell simply because you live outside the grace they are comfortable with; but what did Paul say? Our faith in Jesus and the price he paid on our behalf, has gained our acceptance into this righteousness. The other half of this paragraph says, “Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand.

Where is the threat in that?

There is none. Consider how God has consistently dealt with those He calls His own. He says to them, as for Me. This approach says I will hold up my end of the bargain, regardless of what you do.

Can there be negative results for not following God and His ways? Indeed, yes, at some point, He laid down the law, and along with that He points out following Him is good, and NOT following Him brings pain and destruction.

Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: A blessing if you obey the commandments of Jehovah your God which I command you today, and a curse if you will not obey the commandments of Jehovah your God, but will turn aside out of the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known. (Deuteronomy 11:26-28 MKJV)

I suggest that you read Deuteronomy 11 and 28. In chapter 28, God lays out the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience. If your life seems like it is out of control, then take a look at those blessings and curses. While we who follow Christ are not under the law, the law, like gravity, certainly plays a role in our lives. If you have chosen to function within the realm of the curses, you subject yourself to a tremendous amount of destructive effects.

Romans 5:2 ends with,

and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

Paul, writing to the church in Colossae, said,

“For to them, God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,” (Colossians 1:27 MKJV)

Isn’t our hope, an eternity filled with peace; free from the bullies of this life; and a life spent with the Father. That last part takes on a different meaning if you have been abused or been given some horrendous example of fatherhood. If this was you, let me say, I understand. However, I have found God to be a good Father and one that you can trust and count on. If we can set the dysfunction aside, we begin to see that hope is the backbone of our beliefs. I get it, for dysfunction took on a different meaning when I was accosted within the church community by a friend, and a pastor, about what they believe is a false hope. I don’t think they disagree that there is hope, but they certainly disagree that this hope we long for is anywhere in the near future.

Again, I give you Paul’s voice as pertaining to hope.

1 Thessalonians 5:8 MKJV  But let us, who are of the day, be calm, having put on the breastplate of faith and love and the hope of salvation for a helmet.

Salvation can take on a variety of meanings depending upon the circumstances. I am not in dire need, nor under a threat of death, but many are. Perhaps you are as well. If that is the case, I pray that the Holy Spirit gives you a strength that you did not know could exist within you, so that you stand strong in the face of the enemy. Why would that be important, because WE HAVE HOPE? Hope that the restoration of all things will come and that Jesus Christ will reign as the Messiah that the Jews have longed for.

This next verse began to be a problem for me when I figured out that I could think for myself.

Romans 5:3-4 MKJV  And not only this, but we glory in afflictions also, knowing that afflictions work out patience,  (4)  and patience works out experience, and experience works out hope.

Why would this be a problem for me? Because I was raised to keep sticking your face out so that they could slap it off if they wanted to. I found no comfort or peace in that attitude. I was also told that if I defended myself, that I would be handed over to my Father and his belt. That kind of treatment makes the idea of afflictions even more painful.

If what Paul wrote has had an impact on me, then I should be well established in a hope based in the peaceful reign of Jesus. But then, there are these bizarre words:

We glory in afflictions.”

Who, in their right mind, would do that?

Someone who has come to understand, thoroughly, what Christ has done to and for us. Sometimes we all need a reminder.

  • We have been made righteous in God’s sight.
  • We have peace with God
  • Why are we righteous, and have peace with God?
    • Because of what Jesus did on our behalf.
    • Because of our faith, that we put in Him.
    • And, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege (grace) where we now stand.

Another way to read this comes from the NLT.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. (Romans 5:3 NLT)

So there it is, this peculiar manner in which we handle life’s problems, thanks to hope, causes us to have perseverance, and proven character.

Scripture speaks of judgment, particularly, the Bema seat of Christ. Said in menacing tones, this can be very disheartening. Two things about this so-called time of judgment that I have come to understand: 1. The Bema Seat is a time for Christ to give back to us. It is not about some ominous, detrimental judgment, as most proclaim. 2. Jesus said, you will be judged, as you judge. A question, how do you judge others; harshly, critically, and without mercy? Well, that is what I did, and six months later, those very words came back to judge me. In that season, my world turned upside down and ended. The comfortable world I knew came to a crashing halt. Because of all this judgment, I have learned perseverance that I did not think I was capable of, and, I have had to establish and demonstrate my character repeatedly. 

knowing that afflictions work out patience, and patience works out experience, and experience works out hope.”

Odd how that all works out. Our relationship with Christ allows for us to have these character traits in our lives; so that, when troubles arise (which Jesus guaranteed would come as you follow Him,) we would have the patience to endure the problem, no matter how deadly. This patience turns into experience, and experience causes even more hope to arise in you.

Posted in advocate, apologetics, Apostasy, Apostle Paul, bible study, disciple, disciplined, finisher, fixing, forgive, gentiles, grace, hypocrisy, In Christ, Jesus, Jews, Mercy, Peace, restore, righteous, Romans, strongholds | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Romans chapter four. What of Abraham?

In looking at Romans chapter four, it initiates with a question.

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, according to the flesh, has found? (Romans 4:1 NASB)

The NASB does not improve my understanding, for the language is outdated, and stated in a backward manner. So let’s try the Message.

So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? (MSG)

The Message goes a little too far, as it rephrases the question and almost sets it aside. But on the plus side, it forces us to look at the context, which we find in chapter three. However, we really need to go back to Genesis 15 to do that.

The biggest question that must be answered is, what did Abraham find?

In trying to figure out what Abraham found, we find some things he was not.

He was not that strong in faith, for he:

  • After being told to leave his family in Haran, took his time in following the Lord’s commands. God had to speak to him several times.
  • Doubted that God would take care of him, as he told the Egyptian king that Sarai was his sister. In doing this, Abraham lied.
  • And even though he could see God’s hand upon his life, he still doubted, as he listened to his wife’s prompting, and went to have sex with Hagar. (Consider something: After all these years of not making a baby, how do you know if the problem is with the man or the woman? Since Hagar got pregnant, we now know where the problem lies.) Ishmael was not to be left out, as the blessing over him carries some similar terminology to what God had said to Abraham, in that Ishmael would also be the father of many nations. Those nations are, to this day, a thorn in Israel’s flesh.

Paul tells us in Romans 4:2 that it was not good deeds that made him righteous. Because of that statement, we can eliminate his being circumcised as the thing that made him righteous.

For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. (Romans 4:2 KJV)

The NLT makes this idea of good deeds more clear.

If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. (NLT)

In Genesis 15, God spoke to Abram (his name had not been changed as yet,) in a vision. Abram’s response to this plan of making him great was to say I don’t even have a son. God seems to know the direction that Abrams’ heart is going, and says,

Then the LORD said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” (Genesis 15:4 NLT)

Almost as though God is sealing the deal, (while still in the vision,) God takes Abram outside and shows him the stars of heaven, and tells him, your descendants will be numbered like the stars. Because of this moment, Abram believed God.

What did Abram believe?

  • That he would have descendants, but not through the servant woman.
  • Those descendants will be innumerable.

And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith. (Genesis 15:6 NLT)

The new way of thinking, as the Message puts it, is that the righteousness of God comes only through faith.

Romans 3:22 tells us:

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. (NLT)

Romans 3:24 states:

Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. (NLT)

Information like this opens up a world of problems to those who are immature in Christ. Think about this: We are informed that, through Christ, God made us right in His sight, BECAUSE, Christ paid the penalty for our sins.

Does that sound like a bad thing? Not at all, right?

Then why would this righteousness in Christ be such a negative thing?

Because, Many can hear a statement such as, “we are made right with God,” and say, then why is there a punishment of hell for anyone?

The answer simply put, we all choose to follow a leader. Some, through the act of intentional non-compliance, will follow Satan to his doom.

But there is always mercy.

When we studied Romans 2:12-15 we looked very deliberately at some simple words.

For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; (Romans 2:12 NASB)

The word without is the Greek word anomōs and means lawless, but it also can mean one who is not amenable to (the Jewish) law. The word amenable means one who refuses to be held in check by the law, or non-compliant.

What’s the problem here?

For one, we are not talking about Jewish law, as we live under Jesus’ Messianic law, the perfect law of liberty. And secondly, this idea of not being held in check can apply to any of us. You see, we have a built-in problem and its called sin. Since sin seems to have desire as its biggest motivator, you would think we are doomed.

Moving on.

Romans 4:4-8 Paul continues the discussion of the futility of trying to earn your way into God’s graces.

Romans 4:9 asks, is this for the Jews only? They seem to think so, however, God Paul points out how Abram received his declaration of righteousness, and it was not through circumcision, an event associated with Jewishness.

Romans 4:10 very distinctly spells out the chronology of events.

But how did this happen? Was he counted as righteous only after he was circumcised, or was it before he was circumcised? Clearly, God accepted Abraham before he was circumcised! (Romans 4:10 NLT)

The participation in circumcision happened when Abraham was 99, and it was:

Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith. And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised, but only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised. (Romans 4:11-12 NLT)

As Paul states, this makes him the righteous father of both the circumcised and the uncircumcisedthe Jews and the Gentiles. With the addendum, “only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had.” Simply put, Abraham believed God.

If this last statement seems daunting, consider this:

Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was not based on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. (Romans 4:13 NLT)

Paul continues to present a logical path.

If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. (Romans 4:14 NLT)

Knowing that we could not obey the law on our own, we are given the hope that comes through faith; that and the Holy Spirit.

What an impossible task the Jews have placed upon themselves.

“For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)

So the promise is received by faith.

It is given as a free gift.

And we are all certain to receive it,

whether or not we live according to the law of Moses,

if we have faith like Abraham’s.

For Abraham is the father of all who believe.” (Romans 4:15-16 NLT)

Paul then tries to explain what God was trying to say to Abram, and to us.

“That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him,

I have made you the father of many nations.”

(Try to picture Abram, receiving this message. It was in a dream, however, a very vivid dream, but the reality is that Abram was married without children. I am sure he tried, it seems to be instinctive, and yet, no children. Lacking MRI machines and fertility doctors, how would Abram know the reasons why? And because of that, he may have looked around to see if God was talking to the right person.)

This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing; but then, how would Abram have known that about God?

Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham just kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations.

(When God started talking to Abram, he was already seventy-five years old. )

For God had said to him,

That’s how many descendants you will have!”

And Abraham’s faith did not weaken,

(Weaken? What about Hagar? I keep forgetting, God’s vision is much better than mine. And He is the one who places our sins/failures into the sea of forgetfulness.)

even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—

and so was Sarah’s womb.

Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise.

(Circumcised at 99. God had to remind Abraham that he and his wife would have this son, and the son through the servant girl, was not it. Abraham, although already deemed righteous, has the circumcision performed upon himself. Apparently, as soon as he healed up, he tested the waters with Sarah once again. Nine months later, at the age of 100, Abraham becomes the father of Issac.)

In fact, his faith grew stronger,

and in this, he brought glory to God.

He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.

And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.”
(Romans 4:17-22 NLT)

This story begins in Genesis chapter 12 when Abram is seventy-five years old. In Genesis 16, Abram is eighty-six when he sires a son with Hagar. Finally, in Genesis 21, when Abraham is 100 years old, Issac is born by Sarah. Over the course of 25 years, there have been many opportunities for doubt and despair, and yet God continually looks to the future, and, overlooks our faults.

Here is where we come in.

And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit.

It was recorded for our benefit, too,

assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

He was handed over to die because of our sins,

and he was raised to life to make us right with God.
(Romans 4:23-25 NLT)

So, an aspect of our belief, would be to comprehend that God raised Jesus from the dead; that He died because of our sins; and, that He was raised to life to make us right with God. None of this happens in and for us, without faith.

Posted in angels, bible study, dreams, Faith, gentiles, grace, Jesus, Mercy, righteous, Romans, the nations, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Everything around me is changing, and I don’t like it.

I and the Church, in general, is going through changes – we have been for some time now. These events/changes affect each of our lives differently. For some, mainly the people who don’t care, the changes make no difference. These are the kind of people who think the world revolves around them. (The problem with thinking like that is that if you call yourself a Christian, then your mentality is one that does not align with the Word of God. We are talking about the Word which describes the calling that is upon all of us who follow Christ.)

Let’s make a quick distinction here.

Everybody, especially when it can make them an extra dollar, claims to be a Christian. An example of this might can be seen in the music industry, or when a televangelist is trying to sell their latest book or album. One thing is for sure; when labeling yourself a Christian becomes a death sentence, you will see this trend come to a screeching halt, as only those who know Christ, and are sincere, will risk being killed.

The events that surround my life have occurred over the last couple of months. I have wanted to talk about them, but I struggle with insecurities about telling you all about the problems I go through. So, in a sense, I have been sitting on this, halted by the Holy Spirit. But now I feel I have the freedom to share it, and, I  think you need to hear it, and consider your own lives.

What kind of changes have I personally been experiencing?

  • A clash in Church

    A brother in Christ decided to give a somewhat, angry Word to the body recently. The problems that transpired in this process were many. Having been raised in a Pentecostal, charismatic, holy roller atmosphere, myself, I am accustomed to people presenting “words from the Lord” like this, and it was not uncommon for some to sound downright hostile.

    The brother that gave the “unexpected” Word that morning started in a very theatrical manner, and others thought the same thing. It seemed as if he was presenting his credentials in the third person, just like a movie, proving that God had ordained what we were about to hear. (There was a “brother” at this Church, years ago, who had an earned Doctorate in Theology. I tried talking with him on several occasions and he was little more than rude. In spite of his rudeness, he did admonish me with some advice, that I have clung to. He told me, that when you introduce the Word, which may be from the Holy Spirit, as though it is “a Word from the Lord,” you are adding an element, that in theory, says, it is mandatory that everything I am saying, is appropriate and must be accepted at face value, and that is inappropriate.) And that is precisely what this brother in Christ did.

    As he began to read the scripture that was motivating him, his presentation turned ugly. He was now using very angry tones, and it was his tone that seemed to set off alarms in the Pastor and his missionary brother – who happened to be there that day. The pastor’s brother, having spent time in third world nations, has seen peculiar things, and the manner in which this man tried to give the word to the church body, was no different. Together, the Pastor and his brother asked the man to sit down, to which the man loudly replied, No!

    Several seconds passed, and now the man and the Pastor are telling each other to be quiet in Jesus name. Scripturally, we have authority over demonic activities in the Name of Jesus. Assuming that what we were seeing was demonic, hence the commands in Jesus name back and forth seemed appropriate, but what happens when what you are experiencing is coming out of the desire and heart of the speaker. (Everything contrary to the Word of God is demonically oriented, but as Christians, we are not supposed to be possessed, and therefore telling what you think is a demon to stop, is a futile exercise.)

    Since the man giving the Word would not sit down and has now turned his attention exclusively against the Pastor, saying, “you are a false teacher, and I can prove it,” the Pastor retaliated by saying, brother, now it’s time for you to leave the building. Another lady, who had been sitting nearby, jumped up and shouted into the man’s face, “you shut your mouth in Jesus name.” At this point, he shut up, and walked toward the door – escorted of course. His final gesture was to scream out, “your blood is not on my hands,” and that ended it.

    Merely telling you this story grieves me, as we lost a good brother in the Lord that day. I am not asking most of you to understand what I am saying, but I am telling you that giving Words to the body is and should be considered a biblically sound practice; as long as it is in order, and this man was not.

    • Men’s groups are shutting down.

      A group that I was invited to attend had chosen to use a video teaching series of a well known “faith” teacher. I used to be heavily involved in the “faith” movement, but I no longer believe that God has any interest in what kind of car you drive, or, how big your house is. Keep in mind that I went to see if there was a mutual fit, and there was not. Several times, I was asked for my opinion, and so I gave it. (My neighbor calls my delivery as one of being “matter of fact.”) My comments were accepted by some and chastised by others, and so, after three sessions, I left that group. Subsequently, I was asked by the leader to attend the last meeting of that group, as he wanted input from the men about what they wanted to see and hear in the future, should the group reconvene. Because I felt that I needed to show my respect for the man who was leading it, I returned for the evening.

      Another instance of groups shutting down would be one I have been a part of for several years now.

      Recently one morning, one of the men announced: “Today, is my last day here.” His reason: because we don’t spend enough time in the Word of God. The disturbing aspect of this decision is that we three had been a part of a, church-sponsored, men’s bible study, that incessantly wasted our time, espousing ridiculous themes, and never developing them. In other words, like the man that got tossed out of Church said, the leader of that Monday morning group, was a false teacher.

      Disgusted after several years of learning nothing from this man, we pulled off to form our little group. (This small group formation was not an overnight thought process; and, it turns out we had all been thinking about quitting, but where to go next was a problem.) I was one of the primary persons that pushed to have these meetings so that we could get into the Word of God more adequately.

      My friends reasons for leaving, according to him, had more to do with how much time we wasted talking about feral hogs and people hunting them. Strangely, this friend that accused us has spent more than his fair share of time talking about his life as an outlaw biker, the bars he went to, and the people that he hurt. Did we shut down the group because of that? NO.

      I didn’t say a word in my defense, as the Holy Spirit pointed out to me, that my mouth, would be doing little more than pointing fingers and tattling. 
      But, let me explain something here. On a previous occasion, I had mentioned how neuropathy was keeping me awake as my the nerves in my feet attempt to come back to life at night. In response to that statement, a brother says to me, what are you watching before you go to sleep at night, because that can keep you awake with your mind racing (obviously he wasn’t listening.) So, at the previous meeting with the guys, before this guy quits on us, I showed them what I look at before I go to sleep, just to get a laugh – feral boar hunting videos. Well, as usual, this went far beyond what I intended, with conversations about how we could go on helicopter hunts and shoot some ourselves. Yes, it turned into a waste of time, but, the idea was that we, could do something together.

      You see, for two years we have been sharing our lives and the associated pains, with each other, as we integrate our lives into the Word of God. Well, thanks to one man, the dynamics of the group changed.

  • Leaders quitting.

    Just in the last few weeks, our worship leader’s daughter quit. She got a full-time job at a church they used to be a part of. Her leaving shouldn’t be a consideration for most people, but I was there when her father first got hired to be the worship pastor. And, I was also there when the new Pastor fired this same worship pastor a few years later. Since the old Pastor had been asked to come back three years ago, he rehired the former worship pastor back again.

  • Leaders getting caught doing illegal or immoral acts.

    This is more like saying, I pay attention to news sources; not all of which make the headline news. But it seems like every week there is a pastor embezzling the church; molesting some innocent, or changing the Biblical standards and making some act, that God calls bad, into something he wants us to accept. This kind of activity is a part of what constitutes apostasy.

Well, enough of my rant. I just needed to talk I suppose. What is important, is how you deal with issues like this. We are called to love; called to forgive the unforgivable, and to generally demonstrate the love of Jesus to people; that is so hard to do when we are acting out in rage and anger against someone, who we think deserves it.

The two us that remain have dealt with this brother that left differently. I am not going to lie to you, I was furious. But the man stills sends messages asking his foolish questions. I was constantly admonishing him to change his bible study habits but to no avail, as he still jumps from front to back, taking things out of context, in order to make them fit whatever new doctrine he is trying to develop. My remaining friend, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with him. So he gets to ignore the brother, and I get the Holy Spirit saying to me, “I won’t let you ignore him. You are going to answer his foolish questions in the most logical and sound manner that you can.”

So while it is the flesh’s desire to bring wrath upon people, I hear the Holy Spirit saying, “Don’t you understand, Christ took all the wrath upon himself; if that is the case, then who are you to try to put it back on people.”

Folks, we need to figure this out and lead people to the real Jesus of the Bible, not the religious one.

Posted in bible study, condemnation, false teaching, finisher, forgive, Freedom from sin, grace, guilt, Hearing God, In Christ, Jesus, Mercy, preach, redemption, repress, Sin, strongholds, Thoughts on scripture, understanding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I got a message from a friend that I needed to address.

I received a message, which read sort of like this – I say sort of because I had to make it legible.

“I told some people that Jesus fights two battles, one by himself, and then Armageddon.” These people responded with, “are you sure.” To which he said, “yes, turn your bible to Isaiah 63:3,4, and then look at Revelation 19:13.”

I am not sure how my acquaintance integrated this point about “The blood on his cloak,”  but he added, some say it’s the blood of the saints, while others say it is His blood. To this my friend responds, “not so, it is the blood of His enemies.” To this statement, those people who asked him agreed and left. Apparently, my acquaintance took this last statement to a couple of Pastors at a Calvary Chapel and they agreed.

So let’s look at Isaiah 63:3,4.

Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like the one who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the wine trough alone, And from the peoples, there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger And trampled them in My wrath; And, their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, And I stained all My raiment. (Isaiah 63:2-3 NASB)

An obvious aspect of this passage is that at least the lower half of the garment of the Messiah is soaked in blood.  The scriptural narrator asks, 

“Why are your garments like the one who treads in the winepress?” 

Consider that there was a time that people actually stomped the juice out of grapes. If they were smart, they would lift up any outer garment so that it would not get covered in juice. Perhaps, in the process of making juice, some would splash up onto your clothing, but to merely allow your clothing to become completely inundated with this blood-red juice is preposterous.

What does this victor, coming from a battle, soaked in the enemies blood, say about the description we see in Isaiah 63:2-3?

It says He went into the battle prepared, and that He really did not care about the outcome of His clothing. Perhaps, knowing that He would win, His blood-soaked clothing then becomes a symbol of victory and conquest.

Based upon what the passage says, can we figure out who this is? Absolutely. So, what clues are we given that identify who went into the bloody battle?

Who is this who comes from Edom, With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, This One who is majestic in His apparel, Marching in the greatness of His strength? “It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”(Isaiah 63:1 NASB)

  • With garments of glowing colors,
  • One who is majestic in His apparel,
  • Marching in the greatness of His strength.
  • It is I who speaks in righteousness,
  • Mighty to save.

All of these descriptives, speak of Jesus.

Who is with Him in Isaiah 63:3-4? 

Perhaps the question is, does anyone have to be with Him? The answer to that is NO. But for the doubter, I refer you to Exodus 12:12 NASB, where it says, 

For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments–I am the LORD.”

The verse above, makes it quite clear, that there was NO death angel, it was Jesus, and He slaughtered all who were not covered by the blood.

So the answer to the question, who was with Him, is NO ONE else.

Revelation 19:13 is the other reference given by my acquaintance, but I will add verse 14 for clarity.

He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. (Revelation 19:13-14 NASB)

Though we can’t be sure at this point, it sure sounds like the same blood covered person that we saw in Isaiah 63:3-4.

We must step back a bit to Revelation 16 where we see the end of the final judgments being poured out of the bowls. Because of a vial, which is part of the sixth bowl, the preparations for the Battle of Armageddon are made.

Revelation 16:12-16 NASB (12) The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east. (13) And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; (14) for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. (15) (“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”) (16) And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.

In Revelation 16:17-21 The seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “It is done.” 

While there are still horrendous things happening, the central focus is Babylon, or should I say, the Babylon system. (Keep in mind, that it is the love of money, that is the root of all evil.)

Chapter 17 and 18 of Revelation focus on the downfall of the Babylon system. 

There are some very telling facts about this greed and lust.

Revelation 18:3 NASB “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.”

The system collapses in one hour.

Revelation 18:9-10 NASB (9) “And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, … For in one hour your judgment has come.’

If you have been watching the news, this should sound familiar as the economic system completely collapses. This is notable as the oceanic shipping comes to a complete halt. Revelation 18:11-17 NASB

There is an aspect of this next verse that I find deeply troubling, as it implicates the wealthy of the earth in the death of the innocents.

Revelation 18:24 NASB “And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.”

All who have been slain on the earth.” This should be an eye-opening statement for everybody.

So, as we come into Revelation 19 there are no more judgments to be poured out, merely the termination of the judgments. 

Watch what happens.

Revelation 19:1-2 NASB After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; (2) BECAUSE HIS JUDGMENTS ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality and HE HAS AVENGED THE BLOOD OF HIS BOND-SERVANTS ON HER.”

In Heaven, they are rejoicing. The Babylon system is gone; His judgments have come; And, He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants.

How can it be said, “it is done,” especially since there is one more battle to be waged?

By Heaven’s standards, this mess is done, for God always looks toward the future (Abraham is a good example of that.)

Revelation 19:6-9 NASB Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. (7) “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” (8) It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (9) Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.”

I have heard sermons and sang songs about the marriage of the Lamb since I was a child. Some have conveyed that at the rapture of the church, we get to sit down to a seven-year meal. Sadly, that is not the case, and the meal does not sound so appetizing either. Let me demonstrate.

Revelation 19:11-13 NASB (11) And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness, He judges and wages war. (12) His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. (13) He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

Look at that, He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood. Everything about Him is brightness and glory, and His name is the Word of God. Pure majesty. But now watch this. Here, He is not alone. 

Revelation 19:14 NASB And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean were following Him on white horses.

I cannot make absolute statements that compare what we see in Isaiah 63 and Revelation 19, and say, they are the same thing. (But there are some strong similarities.)

Watch the descriptions as they unfold.

Revelation 19:15 NASB From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.

From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations. The saints, clothed in white, otherwise known as the bride, are a part of the army that comes with Him, but we never see them in battle. There might be two adequate explanations for that.

  1. Since we are in Christ, then we too partake in this battle.
  2. The most reasonable alternative to a group battle is that sword that proceeds from His mouth.

So, if you have been waiting patiently for the marriage supper of the lamb, then enjoy this visual.

Revelation 19:17-18 NASB (17) Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in mid heaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, (18) so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men, and slaves, and small and great.

Meat-eating birds are called to eat the flesh of mighty men, horses of war, those who sit on them, and everyone else – both great and small, that chose to fight against God that day.

I have had this discussion before, how that He only kills the fighters that day. Invariably, the religious come against me with their tradition, and false teachings they have learned.

But here is what the Scripture says,

Revelation 19:19-21 NASB (19) And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. (20) And the beast was seized, and with him, the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. (21) And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

So what do we see in Revelation 19:19-21?

  • The beast, which is the Antichrist, a Muslim leader.
  • The kings of the earth. This can be Muslim kings but may include the Presidents of Venezuela, or the leaders of China and North Korea.
  • They are assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
  • The beast was seized, along with the false prophet, and these two, very specifically, were seized and thrown alive into the lake of fire. The rest – those gathered for war, were killed with the sword that comes out of Jesus’ mouth.
Posted in antichrist, Antichrist, armies, bible study, Deception, deception, Dispelling myths, End times, false prophet, false teaching, Harlot of Revelation, Heaven, Hell, invasion, Israel, Jesus, judgment, Prophetic, the nations, The supremacy of Christ, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture, understanding, unrighteousness, Vengeance, war, wickedness, wrath. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I was asked, how do you study; that and, would you lead us in a Bible study. So, here is an introduction and overview of the first four chapters of Romans.

On August 11, 2019, Pastor Jon Maurer’s sermon was:

“A couple of things I wished I had known about reading the Bible.”

The irony of this is, I already knew these things. Simply put, I learned them in the school of hard knocks, and I am not done with my education. At this point in my life, I have been studying and looking at scripture intensely for twelve years. In the process of reading scripture for this time period, is that I wrote about what I perceived and strived to get an accurate picture of who God and Jesus is, that and I asked God a lot of hard questions. All of my questions were answered.

A friend of mine recently asked me, how do you study, and could you lead us in a Bible study? What my Pastor delivered that following Sunday morning, was a plainly worded, concise technique for study, and so I included that information to along with my overview of the first four chapters of Romans. As a side note, isn’t amazing how the Holy Spirit orchestrates events in the background.

By the way – I realize that I could be writing to the theology trained student, as well as, those who may never pick up a Bible, and so I try to keep it intelligent and yet simple.

Notes I took on Pastor Jon’s sermon.

  • The Bible was written for us, not to us.

This is a significant statement, as it moves scripture out of the hallowed halls and into our hands.

It removes the sterility that we have imposed on scripture, and it is a unique perspective from which to start any Bible study, as this makes scripture very personal.

  • The meaning of the text is embedded in its original, historical context.

Context comes in two forms. One of those is in the passages themselves; for example: In Matthew 24 and 25 Jesus is answering questions that the disciples asked. (Remove the idea that at this point there were only twelve. Now, when the context began there have been twelve or fewer, but let’s try to imagine the possibility of more) The context of Jesus’ answer initiates in Matthew 21, where Jesus, in fulfilling prophecy, is about to enter Jerusalem, riding on an unridden donkey – the high-end vehicle of the day. Wow, the disciples were excited; Judas is elated, and the crowd is going crazy. Why? Because they perceived Him as the warring Messiah scripture spoke of. But follow the story, for what did He do? He threw people out of the temple courts and entered into a three day, verbal battle with the same people, that would soon have Him killed not realizing that they were offering Him up as the Passover sacrifice. (You should intently consider the idea and meaning of Jesus, that afternoon, being offered up as the Passover sacrifice. Remember, the Passover was initiated while God’s chosen people are still slaves in Egypt. It was the blood of that lamb, painted on the doorposts of each home, that prevented the death of the those incorporated because they were under the covering of the blood. Note: I used the word incorporated because we got outstanding men like Caleb, who was not a Jew when this process started.)

The other form of context is the historical and cultural side. In the case of Jesus, in Matthew’s gospel, the disciples – Jews, were so undone by the last three days, knowing full well that Jesus’ actions could spill over on to them also, had no idea what to say as they walked relatively quietly away to the Mount of Olives. They said to Jesus, look at the mind-blowing construction techniques of the Temple. This thing should stand forever is the implied remark. Jesus responded to that with this:

“Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:1-3 NASB)

The disciples asked two pointed questions; both of which were explicitly Jewish oriented.

So the question you should ask next is, what does that look like for us today?
Perhaps at this point, I should tell you that the Pastor’s overall theme was, understanding the writings of the Apostle Paul, based on his letter to Philemon.

In the study on Romans, that I have included, I cover, to some degree, the historical context on the Book of Romans. A massive piece of evidence comes from Romans 1:1, where Paul begins his typical introduction. Here he says, I Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ. Again, I cover this below. This thought process also works exceptionally well when studying the book of Romans.

  • The Bible is a context-rich form of communication.

What does that mean?

It means that everything has an initiating question or point of conversation, and though directed at a specific audience at the moment, it still has implications for us today.

For example, the book of Revelation is charged with context. It is a book written to Jews, using terminology that would have been common to them, and yet it applies primarily to us today. The imagery is nothing new to a Jew and has common ties with the prophecies of Daniel among others – hence, the context. (Naturally, we struggle with multi-headed beasts, although we are more than eager to watch bizarre things like that on the movie screen.)

Context is what links us back to the original thought and intent.

Chuck Missler used to say, “The Bible is an integrated, coded, message system.” That means, that the messages in the scripture, though thousands of years apart are integrally linked by God, into one all-encompassing picture, in which God wins.

Pastor Jon’s tips: (Every week he has tips. These are designed to give you a practical way to put the sermon into action.)

  • Get a Bible reading plan – like the You Version app.

In reality, this means be deliberate in your reading. If necessary, force yourself to invest quality time daily.

  • Dig into the Bible passages that make your radar go off, and then dig a little deeper.

I have a friend that seems to bounce back and forth in scripture. I understand why he does it, but when he asks questions, they are combinations of multiple thoughts and contexts. Sadly, he is often confused.

No one is telling you to ignore boring passages, however, when you find a passage that speaks to you dismantle the verse; look at the Hebrew or Greek definitions of the simplest of words in a concordance, and find their meanings. Then, look for other examples of the same thing.

A tip – Since much of what we read, is prophecy, then you need to understand that to the Jewish mindset, prophecy is not a one-time event. The Jews looked for, and found acceptance in, patterns and repetition; therefore, when reading something prophetic, look for the parallels. Daniel and Revelation are good examples of such similarities.

  • Read for transformation.

Try to understand the author’s original intent; this will be necessary for us to apply the text to our lives today.

Having been raised in the church, I had heard all the stories. There were many things that bothered me, and, as some would say, I felt like I was losing my faith. You see, church/religion built an image in me of an angry God. Read, say, John’s gospel, and you quickly see that Jesus – God’s representation upon the earth, demonstrated and vocalized the fact that God is love. John’s gospel is one which also gave me the direct association and recognization, that Jesus is God. You may not get what I just told you, but this transformed my thinking and life.

Another aspect of my religious education, involved David, the shepherd. Did you catch how I did not refer to him as the shepherd boy? That is because he was not a boy. Sorry if that blows your entire understanding of theology out of the water, but an aspect of our growing into maturity is to comprehend the reality of situations and deal with it. Why am I comfortable saying these things? Because, as you read for transformation, you will become aware that Davids resume, was read to Saul by one of his trusted people, who told Saul that he knew a man, who had killed a bear, and a lion, with his bare hands; and, the man is a skillful guitar player, who can calm your nerves. (Right, they didn’t have guitars back them, they were Lyres.) So, all Saul knows is that David is a man – perhaps a young man, but that is irrelevant. Saul, upon meeting David, hires him and makes him his ARMOR bearer as well. David then traverses back and forth between Saul and his families sheep farm. On one of those missions, his father, Jesse, gives him a care package for David’s brothers. However, on this occasion, Goliath, of the Philistines, is standing on the battle line daily and cursing the God of Israel. Sadly, no one in Israel, even their king, Saul, who scripture tells us was head and shoulders above any man in Israel, dares not to challenge the beast. Has anything physical changed about David since he has met Saul? NO. So why then does Saul refer to David as a youth? Could it be that is because David was a young man and not a seasoned veteran? Did Saul forget about the bear and the lion? And then, there is that malarky about David being four foot tall, and the upper body plate armor merely fell to the ground around him. Got real, if that was a reality, Saul would have never offered for the same young man that was his armor-bearer, to wear his armor. You should know the rest of the story, as David kills Goliath by cutting his head off with the big man’s own sword. I skipped some details, but you can read those aspects on your own.

That being said, let’s look, once again, at Romans, and see how and if it can transform us.

What follows are the notes I made for myself to lead the Bible study.


The letter to the church in Rome opens, and Paul, as he always does, introduces himself. However, this introduction has a slightly different tone to it.

In Romans 1:1, he says, “a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News.”

This introduction, especially to what we will learn to be a majority Jewish community of believers, establishes Paul’s attitude, humility, and a touch of arrogance, all at the same time. It should speak to a Jewish understanding of slaves and how the Jews treated the Gentiles (which was right up there with slaves.) Shaul/Paul had every reason to brag about his understanding and Jewishness.

What rights does a slave have?

First off, think about the response of the hearers two thousand years ago, when:

  • Slavery was not an issue and the reality was that slavery was a common and accepted way of life.
  • Slaves had no standing in the community.
  • Slaves had NO voice about anything. There, of course, may have been benevolent slave owners, and in Paul’s writing to Philemon, he plays upon that idea.
  • To speak out against slavery was scandalous.
  • You no longer had any claim to parental rights.
  • And it was almost as if you could not be seen.

This introduction by Paul is crucial because of the audience, as we will soon see.

If the Jews saw the Gentile believers as nothing more than slaves, then how were they treating these new converts?

Where is the love?

In Romans 1:9-12 we see Paul stating one of the reasons for writing this letter,

that he may impart to them some spiritual gift, for the purpose of establishing them; and that he (Paul) may be encouraged together with them by mutual faith.”

What do you think this passage is trying to say?

At this point, I would be sitting in front of you, able to see your facial expressions as you begin to comprehend the abhorrence of such a mentality; and, I want to hear why you think Paul would have said this.

I have a policy of not asking questions without having an answer, and I think the answer is that he wants to get his Jewish brethren completely submerged in this gospel of mercy and grace; and, to make them understand that God has leveled the playing field, and no one gets priority simply because of heritage. Paul’s wanting to lay hands upon, share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them more fully, and by the laying on of hands, show them love, and actually impart a spiritual gift of understanding, just as he had received.

Having recently sat through at least three weeks of history on Rome and the Roman Church, you would think I would have had enough, and been smarter for it. That did not happen, and I looked at it once again.

  • The overview tells us that Paul wrote this letter to the church in Rome, a place he never visited, around Fall of 57 AD.
  • We are told that Paul was writing to a vibrant church body when he wrote this letter. ??
  • The Epistle itself gives us scant clues about the Roman believers, except for Paul’s reprimands.

Historically, we have this:

  • Rome was under the governance of Nero (37-68AD), but one of the most disturbing leaders Claudius, the adoptive father of Nero, was also alive and ruling.
  • Nero, after his father’s death, became the sole Emperor in 54AD.

This immediately gets my attention, for Emperor Claudius had made it known that the Jews regularly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus – a Grecian derivative name for Christ and therefore ordered the expulsion of the Jews from Rome. What these insurrections looked like, I do not know.

Edicts, such as this, apparently only lasted until the death, or incapacitation of the Emperor who had them written. Because documentation indicates that the Jews began returning to Rome in January of 53AD, a full year before Nero is declared Emperor, we must assume some incapacity or the death of Claudius.

Does this mean Nero served in a dual leadership position over Rome? Perhaps.

So by the time Paul writes this letter to the church in Rome, they have been actively operating as a thriving church.

What is my take away from this?

Since Christ’s death is the division line for time, this is a relatively short period.

  • How did the church spread so rapidly?

Strangely, we have Saul/Paul to thank for that.

“Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” (Acts 8:1 NASB)

What clues do we have that help to define this body of believers?

  • Their association with Chrestus, as the Greeks put it.

So they were followers of Christ. And, because we can associate the church with the Jewish expulsion and come back, then we are looking at a church with a mix of Jew and Gentile believers.

  • There are statements such as:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16 NASB)
Why emphasize the Jew and then the Greeks, unless there are Gentiles in your audience?
In Romans 1:19-21 Paul is recapping how God dealt with the Jews in the beginning. This would be wasted energy to a church filled with Gentiles – people that may not have a clue about Jewish history. The remainder of Romans chapter one is ablaze with admonishments about the Jewish patterns of unbelief.
Again, it is evident that there is a strong Jewish influence in this body of believers.

Why emphasize the Jew and then the Greeks, unless there are Gentiles in your audience?

  • In chapter two, Paul begins to make a turn, as he is now including Gentiles believers in the conversation.

When he talks about judgment, that can apply to anyone, however, to a body of believers, in which Hebrew (I assume) is the primary language, we could have some horrendous learning curves issues.
There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. (Romans 2:9-11 NASB)

  • In chapters three and four, Paul defines how God levels the playing field.

We assumed for years that this always applied to the world; when in fact, Paul, in chapter four, is still trying to convince the Jews that they are no better off merely because of their heritage.
This relationship we have with God works by faith.
Sadly, the realization that the Gentiles can demonstrate faith and a place in eternity must be alarming to some.

Posted in Apostle Paul, bible study, caught, Daniel, David, gentiles, God's character, good news, grace, Hope, Jews, King Saul, Mercy, Prophetic, Revelation, Romans, Saul, seven headed beast, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

For the Lord, Himself will come down. My thoughts on a mid-tribulation rapture.

A brother in the Lord frequently argues that the church will go through the tribulation. I hate to admit it, but a book I am reading takes my brothers’ side in this argument.

It is written by Rabbi K. A. Schneider, a Jewish Christian, The book “The Book of Revelation Decoded,” tells us that what we see as the result of the seals being opened in Revelation 6, are divided into two parts, the judgments, and wrath. The wrath aspect, according to the Rabbi, is attributed to the bowls that the Revelation tells us are poured out.

I do not know if the Rabbi’s perceptions are from personal study, or this comes from some traditional Jewish perspective of which I am not aware. I have an inquiring mind, and I need to know. Lacking sufficient evidence about ancestral beliefs, I will look into the Biblical wording about these events more closely. You see, I do not think that a reasonable man should argue with scripture, and that is what we may be seeing here. The result, this division of horrors that God is going to pour out upon the Earth may be the Rabbis attempt to avoid and work around New Testament passages such as Romans 5:8-10.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:8-10 NASB)

If I was the argumentative type, I could say, Romans 5:8-10 also speaks of eternity, as it too is salvation. The problem with that kind of thinking is that we are making God out to be very obscure, which I have come to understand that He is NOT. No, these passages are straightforward, and even more so when you look up in a concordance the meanings of the simplest of words, like saved.

Alright, what about this passage.
For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 NASB)
Here, Paul speaks about how they turned to God; ceased to serve idols, and now serve a living and true God. But Paul is also addressing how they, too, know that there is a hope of a future with Christ in a peaceful eternity. And, because of that hope, they now wait (as if in intermission) for Jesus Christ, the Son; whom God raised from the dead, and who rescues us from the wrath to come.
This waiting is not one where you do nothing but lie around getting fat; we are proactive, encouraging others in the faith and hope. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 demonstrates that they comprehended how and why a person could have this kind of understanding. Lacking such information makes this life in Christ nothing more than a vague assumption.

In trying to argue against a mid-tribulation rapture of the church, here are some of the points I try to make.

  • We, as a church, have created our own problems on this issue, and here is why.

We use the word tribulation as though it is trivial; and, we use it to describe everything – including God’s wrath, that seven-year period that we see in the Revelation.

What do I mean by trivial? Some of us think it is tribulation if you have to put a new propeller on your ski boat to get more speed out of it. Try having your family blown up in front of you as you attempt to worship the Lord.
Jesus told us, in this world, you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world. An understanding that griefs are going to come, on a daily basis, is necessary information; it is information that lets me know horrendous things have the potential of coming merely because I follow Christ (I suppose the reality of a statement like this means you are proactive in your beliefs and others know what you stand for. Note, most of the problems Jesus had while he walked this Earth, came from RELIGIOUS folk, but it does not exclude the random drive-by shooting that takes the life of an innocent young science major, and a young father to be.)

  • We ignore passages, such as the ones I pointed out above. 1Thessalonians 1: 9-10; Romans 5:8-10. And, we ignore Jesus words when he says,

What a terrible time it will be for pregnant women and nursing mothers! For there will be great distress in the Land and judgment on the people. (Luke 21:23 CJB)
Here, in The Complete Jewish Bible, they use the word judgment and not wrath; however, the NASB uses the word wrath.

Wrath/judgment is the Greek word orgē and means desire (as a reaching forth or the excitement of the mind), that is, (by analogy) violent passion (ire, or [justifiable] abhorrence); by implication punishment: – anger, indignation, vengeance, wrath.

If I am going to try to assess proper usage for one or more of the words that can be used to define orgē, then I have to look at the context. So let’s use passion as a test. Passion is a feeling of warmth and emotion toward something or someone. We often associate passion with love; however, my college professor had a passion for plants, and I could definitely tell that there were plants he dearly loved – like Japanese Maples. God, it would seem, has a passion for those He has chosen, even if means judging and punishing them for their refusal of Him and their choice to follow other gods.

This judgment is also directed at the nations (those outside of Judaism) because the nations have done their fair share of killing God’s people and ignoring God. So it is easy for me to see that God’s orgē is certainly one of anger, indignation, vengeance, and wrath. In other words, a violent and justifiable passion, that looks a lot like wrath.

What else did Jesus say about wrath and judgment?
“Whoever trusts in the Son has eternal life. But whoever disobeys the Son will not see that life but remains subject to God’s wrath.” (John 3:36 CJB)

Jesus said these words while standing amid religious Jews – (Scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees.) These Jews, in general, did not trust the Son.

Some might say, how do you know that? Matthew chapter two records that someone reported to King Herod, that a large caravan of Magi, were coming from the East. Just the sight of these men and the potential message they could bring, caused Herod grief, so when they arrived and began asking around, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” Herod immediately summoned the Jewish elders and experts in the Torah and inquired who was this King of the Jews that had been born. The elders answered promptly, for they knew with precision what the scriptures said about Jesus being born in Bethlehem and when. But did they follow after Him, as these Magi did? Not a chance.

John 3:36 states that,
“Whoever trusts in the Son has eternal life.”
Are there any assertions in the passage, as to what that eternal life encompasses? Not in this part and not at first glance. You have to pay attention to the context.
“But whoever disobeys the Son will not see that life but remains subject to God’s wrath.”
In the second half of the verse, we have those who are disobeying the Son. This disobedience is a direct correlation to God’s chosen people. Fortunately, we who are “in Him” through adoption, are also God’s chosen. The difference is that we have put our trust in the Son, and therefore have this eternal life. Disobedience, it seems, subjects you to God’s wrath. And, there is the implication that these disobedient ones never put their trust in Him. So I could say that trusting in Him eliminates the threat of wrath.

And then, there is Paul’s assertions in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
Now, brothers, we want you to know the truth about those who have died; otherwise, you might become sad the way other people do who have nothing to hope for. For since we believe that Yeshua died and rose again, we also believe that in the same way God, through Yeshua, will take with him those who have died. When we say this, we base it on the Lord’s own word: we who remain alive when the Lord comes will certainly not take precedence over those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a rousing cry, with a call from one of the ruling angels, and with God’s shofar; those who died united with the Messiah will be the first to rise; then we who are left still alive will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we will always be with the Lord. (1Th_4:13-17 CJB)

There is an interesting statement in the middle of this paragraph, and it goes like this:
“When we say this, we base it on the Lord’s own word: we who remain alive when the Lord comes will certainly not take precedence over those who have died.”

Since Paul did not hang out with Christ he would, therefore, have to be trusting what at least one of the disciples told him; that, or we have to assume that Christ, perhaps on the Damascus road, explained in detail all the things He told the disciples. This idea of the Damascus road event plays into the descriptions from many who have died and come back from the dead; they explain how there was an immediate download of information.

While that’s a fascinating theory scripture tells us that testimony has to be at the hand of two or three witnesses.

Do we have those witnesses? It would seem so.

Does what they say align with scripture? Now that becomes a problem. Because much of what we understand comes from the mouth of Jesus, or we are merely accepting tradition. So, while it sounds good and reasonable, I can’t make a doctrine out of a dead persons testimony.

So what did Jesus say, and how can we be sure?

There are apparently, only two references in the NT, and John 11:25-26 is one of them.
Yeshua said to her, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life! Whoever puts his trust in me will live, even if he dies; and everyone living and trusting in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 CJB)

And in 1Thessalonians 4:13, there is a reference to the fact that anyone who puts their trust in Jesus, will live, even if they die. Jesus took it one step further when he said, as if from another angle, “everyone living and trusting in me, will never die.”

Questions and answers:
What do I make of a statement like, everyone trusting in me, will never die?

A believer never dies spiritually. Although, the reality is that no human ever really dies. Death then is merely a permanent separation from God, and that is what we see in the final judgment. an intentional break in the relationship, could easily be seen as a form of death (this break in the relationship is not on God’s part, and there is nothing set in stone until that final day, although the enemy would like you to believe that.)

This idea of spiritual death is another point that many would argue.

Consider what Adam put himself through in the garden. Having heard and ignored God’s directive about “that tree,” he watches the only woman he has ever known eat a fruit, that causes death. Rather blunt, but true. Adam, having listened to everything the serpent said to her, watches to see what would happen. For all he knows, death is immediate, but then, they had never experienced the death (as far as we know,) of anything. What Adam cannot see is what is going on inside her spirit; nor can he see the cellular effects on her body (this is not a movie where someone ancient has been kept alive and looking young through the “magic” of makeup. So that when death comes they disintegrate into a pile of ashes.)

Can the physical body die?

Indeed, and many have, but many, having put their trust in Christ (we see this even in the OT,) will not be hindered by timing issues or the quantity of dirt piled above you, when the call comes. Perhaps because they have a few extra feet to travel, they will lift off first and we, who are alive, will rise with them.

Then where are these dead in Christ now?

Paul did not tell us directly, but the credible argument is, that when you are absent from the body – dead, then you are present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8.

Based on Paul’s presentation, we can understand that physical death puts you immediately in the presence of the Lord.

Another thing to look at is the statement we find in 1Thessalonians 4:16.
“For the Lord, Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”

It would be rare to find a reference to some aspect of the Lord’s return, or, the Day of the Lord, without a corresponding scriptural background in the OT. Jesus, in Acts chapter one, told the disciples that He would come back again for them, just as He left. The correlation is found in Zechariah 14, where we see Jesus returning to the Mount of Olives and physically touching back down; this is dramatically different from the catching away of the church, for when He comes for His church He will not physically touch down, but we will be gathered to Him in the air, in the clouds.

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In attempting to understand God’s wrath I did an in-depth study on the seals, trumpets, and bowl judgments. Part one – the seals and the brief interlude.

Right off the bat, I have to warn you, this study is eight pages long.

I am used to reading my own work, and I can fly through it, and it makes sense to me, but I work very hard at making my posts readable. In comparison, a book study that I am involved in is using an author who writes in a style that I equate to getting your teeth pulled; it is painful, and that particular author has to keep working over a subject matter when I, the reader am ready to move on.

Enough warning, let’s dive in as I attempt to understand the time of wrath.

Seals, trumpets, and bowls – Who, what, when, where, and how.

All this has a context, which begins with the end; the end of the Church age, that is. Revelation chapter three ends with a commentary on the last church age, the Laodicean church. Physically, this church is long gone, but spiritually, it is us. We have lost our first love, and many of us should take this as a warning.

Revelationchapter four opens with, “after these things.” The things are the churches. Why say after? Because Jesus would have returned and, we, the church, are caught up to meet Him in the air, ever to live forever with Him.

Chapter five of the Revelation has John looking at the sealed scrolled and lamenting, as are the others because no one can open the seals. At this point, the Lamb – looking as though it had been slain walks on the scene. 

That lamb is none other than Jesus Christ.

John 1:29 AMPC  The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him and said, Look! There is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world! [Exo 12:3; Isa 53:7]

Isaiah 53:7 AMPC  He was oppressed, [yet when] He was afflicted, He was submissive and opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep, before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.

While all we know, at this point, is that there is a scroll with seven seals. The seventh seal opens the arrival of the seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet unleashes some extra things and the seven bowls. The seven bowls are the last of God’s wrath, and brings Jesus, riding upon a white horse into the scenario, where He administers a swift and deadly justice. With the end of God’s anger being poured out, the millennial reign is set to begin.

So, with that, let’s see if we can define these events. (Yes, I jumped the gun and posted a detailed look at the first seal already, but bear with me.)

The first seal – The Antichrist

Revelation 6:1-2 AMPC  THEN I saw as the Lamb broke open one of the seven seals, and as if in a voice of thunder I heard one of the four living creatures call out, Come!  (2)  And I looked and saw there a white horse whose rider carried a bow. And a crown was given him, and he rode forth conquering and to conquer.

Pay attention – A rider on a white horse, carrying a bow, symbolic of war, but the rider has no arrows. This rider also has a crown, symbolic of authority and rulership.

There is one ideology in the world right now that fulfills both of these characteristics, and that is Islam. They claim to be the religion of peace, but peace is only achieved when all bow before Allah, the ruling authority, pledging allegiance. What I am telling you, is a clearly stated goal and purpose of Islam.

So what is Islam doing as we speak, conquering, just as the Qu’ran describes?

A white horse. In Zechariah 6:1-8, we have red, black, white, and grizzled bay horses like the four winds of heaven, ministers to do God’s will. White seems to be the color of victory (cf. the white horse of the Persian Kings) like the white horse ridden by the Roman conqueror in a triumphant procession. RWP

It was interesting to find out that the former leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, frequently portrayed himself as this rider.

The second seal – War and murder

Revelation 6:3-4 AMPC  And when He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature call out, Come!  (4)  And another horse came out, flaming red. And its rider was empowered to take the peace from the earth so that men slaughtered one another, and he was given a huge sword.

The NASB implies that this rider takes peace from the earth and that men would slay each other with the sword. “Its rider was given the power to take peace away from the earth and make people slaughter each other.” They are both correct. Being given the power to take away peace does not mean that you do. However, both translations convey violent and bloody imagery. One correctly describes making people slaughter each other with the sword. If, as I have stated on many occasions, this is Islam, their primary means of death seem to be the sword and bombs. These weapons are not only directed at those they deem infidels but each other as well – this killing of each other is Biblical and can be found in references to the descendants of Ishmael.

Genesis 16:12 AMP And he [Ishmael] will be as a wild ass among men; his hand will be against every man and every man’s hand against him, and he will live to the east and on the borders of all his kinsmen.

None of this excludes the bully factor and the general passion many have for violence.

The third seal – Famine

Revelation 6:5-6 NASB When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. (6) And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

Victims of the Great Famine of 1876–78 in India during British rule, pictured in 1877.
A family affected by famine in India.

J Vernon McGee and many others say this black horse represents worldwide famine. J Vernon McGee then quotes several speakers, saying,

  •   “in 1798, the Rev. Thomas Malthus concluded that “the power of population is infinitely greater than the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man.” His prediction had little weight in his day.
  • In 1959 the United Nations’ seventy-seven-nation Food and Agriculture Organization met in Rome to talk about “the fight against hunger and malnutrition.” At this meeting, Toynbee declared: “Sooner or later food production will reach its limit. And then, if population is still increasing, famine will do the execution that was done in the past by famine, pestilence, and war combined.”
  • Sir John Boyd Orr, at one time the Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, warned, “I shall finish my office by giving a last warning to the world. If it is not solved, there will be world chaos in the next fifty years.”

Even in the late 1700s, the elite was concerned about their ability to eat; that theme has not stopped, and we now have serious concerns about engineered weather. Here is America, we had the wettest winter, extending into early summer. This rain has decimated corn crops and ruined others. Now, once again, it is blisteringly hot, and new crops, if they were able to plant, are frying. Famine is coming; there is no doubt about that.

The Fourth Seal – Death

Revelation 6:7-8 NASB When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” (8) I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death, and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.

Let me get this straight. The first seal brings the Antichrist, but he appears to be coming in the middle of warfare, most likely with Israel. If this is the Gog/Magog war of Ezekiel 38,39, then those who are still here will already be witnessing tremendous bloodshed. Let alone, the carnage that the Antichrist will bring. The second seal brings war, murder, and once again bloodshed. The third seal brings about a global famine, and people will die because of this. And now, as though nothing worse could happen, this fourth seal, from multiple sources and reasons, brings about death to a fourth of the global population.

Death comes at the hands of humankind – utilizing a sword; famine; pestilence; and by wild beasts.

The Fifth Seal – Persecution of the Saints.

Revelation 6:9-11 NASB When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; (10) and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (11) And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.

To show that Christians were murdered while attending church in Tanta.
St. George’s church in Tanta

Think about the process. Christ returns for His church, and many of them rise to meet Him in the air. The result of that is that WE then live with Him forever. NOW, when the church rises many who thought they should go, will still be here. That will bring about tremendous grief. The numbers will include many from so-called charismatic churches; many from the Latter Day Saints; many from the Mormon church, and sadly, the largest population of so-called Christians – will come from the Jewish community.

We are told that when the church is removed, that the veil that has covered so many eyes, keeping them from finding the truth in the Gospels, and Jesus as the Messiah, will be lifted. This lifting of the veil will come off of everyone’s eyes. People will come to Jesus by the thousands.

2 Corinthians 3:13-18 NLT  We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away.  (14)  But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ.  (15)  Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.  (16)  But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  (17)  For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  (18)  So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

One more passage on the veil.

Isaiah 25:7 NASB And on this mountain, He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.

The Sixth Seal – Cosmic and ecological disaster.

Revelation 6:12-17 NASB (12) I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair and the whole moon became like blood; (13) and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. (14) The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. (15) Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; (16) and they *said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; (17) for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

A great earthquake

The earth is experiencing large earthquakes on a daily basis. One that concerns me, would the earthquake associated with say, the Yellowstone National Park supervolcano. It has a magma pool that seems to be about half the size of Wyoming. Something of this magnitude could easily put us all into a polar winter. Mount St. Helens in Washington State, blocked out the sun for days when it blew.

The sun became black.

Volcanic activity, either caused by a volcano or spewed by a volcano can easily block out the sun. Documentation on recent volcanoes has demonstrated global temperature drops.

The moon became like blood.

With smog and soot, we currently have in the sky, the moon frequently has a dark orange, almost blood red look about it. This could easily be the result of air quality degradation.

And, the stars of the sky fell to the earth.

What we call shooting stars are small pieces of rock or dust that hit the Earth’s atmosphere from space. But that is not what the verse says.

This would probably be a good time to interject some literary clarity. As Rabbi K.A. Schneider points out in his book, The Book of Revelation Decoded, John saw many things which had no explanation; John used terminology that goes like this, “it was something like,” in other words, it might like shooting stars, but could be asteroids, or actual stars falling from space. We don’t really know for sure. Just pray that you do not have to experience these events.

A brief interlude

Chapter six has ended, but there is one more seal to be broken.

The headline caption over the next few verses reads The 144,000 of Israel Sealed. This could be a major point of contention, seeing as the Latter Day Saints (The Jehovah’s Witnesses) believe that some of their elders are the 144,000. I want to ask them if they are all Jewish virgins because that is a qualification.

“After this, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree.” (Revelation 7:1 NLT)

I am interrupting here because I have a question. What would happen on the earth if the winds ceased to blow?

Chuck Doswelli, a research meteorologist since the mid-1970s gives us an answer. He begins by saying, “This is a purely hypothetical situation, impossible ever to realize on a global scale.” Interesting how God is not terribly concerned with things like the laws of physics. Mr. Doswell went on to explain the hypothetical situation.

if the winds everywhere were to cease, the Earth’s unequal heating distribution would eventually result in a huge increase in the temperature differences between the poles and the equator, as well as between the land and the sea, eventually to the point where most of the planet’s surface wouldn’t be able to support life as we know it:  cold regions would become extremely cold, and warm regions would become extremely hot.”

And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: from the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed. (Revelation 7:1-8 NASB)

Things to note about Revelation 7:1-8.

  • An angel having the seal of the living God.

Satan also has his imitation seal, which he will try to get the whole world to receive, along with the worship of the beast (the Antichrist,) and to worship the image that will set in the rebuilt temple in old Jerusalem. (I said old Jerusalem because there is a new one coming down out of heaven.)

  • This angel, which may be Yahshua, says, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.”

The admonition is to not harm the earth, sea, or trees. Considering that horrendous warfare may have been going on the entire time, how would you expect the earth, sea, and trees to not suffer? However, this damage that is coming, is from God. Alright, another point of clarification: God frequently uses people and nations to bring about His judgments. Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar are just some of those examples.

  • “And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:” Twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of:

Judah; Reuben; Gad; Asher; Naphtali; Manasseh; Simeon; Levi; Issachar; Zebulun; Joseph; Benjamin.

An interesting thing, which I do not totally comprehend just took place, for Genesis 49, the first listing of the twelve tribes, reads like this:

Reuben; Simeon; Levi; Judah; Zebulun; Issachar; Dan; Gad; Asher; Naphtali; Joseph; Benjamin.

Did you notice the difference? Dan is completely out of the picture, and, Manasseh, one of Joseph’s sons has taken his place.

The most notable piece of evidence we have on Dan comes from Judges 18.

Judges 18:26-28 NLT  So the men of Dan continued on their way. When Micah saw that there were too many of them for him to attack, he turned around and went home.  (27)  Then, with Micah’s idols and his priest, the men of Dan came to the town of Laish, whose people were peaceful and secure. They attacked with swords and burned the town to the ground.  (28)  There was no one to rescue the people, for they lived a great distance from Sidon and had no allies nearby. This happened in the valley near Beth-rehob. Then the people of the tribe of Dan rebuilt the town and lived there.

The men of Dan took this mans idols and priest and made them theirs.

The next thing we see during this interlude is John’s second look at the martyred, in heaven, before the throne.

The NASB entitles this section: A Great Multitude from Every Nation.

Revelation 7:9-17 NASB After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; (10) and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (11) And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, (12) saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” (13) Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” (14) I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (15) “For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. (16) “They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; (17) for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”


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Seals, trumpets, and bowls. An attempt to understand what is about to happen as God’s wrath gets poured out.

I meant to make a chronological outline to describe the judgments of God that begin in Revelation 6. This is what you get.

I am one of those people who always wanted to understand end times events (Eschatology), but the explanations I received almost exclusively used King James English, which only helped to cloud the answers or they were thinking about events based upon traditional teachings, [Consider that I was born in the early 1950s. The world I grew up in was shaking in their boots over the potential of a nuclear war with Russia. Part of the evidence for that thinking and fear was that Russia had placed missiles, which we all assumed were nuclear weapons, on Cuban soil – Cuba was a Russian ally then, and still is.] Russia, and the Roman Catholic church, then, as almost every prophecy teacher thought, played some role in end times prophecy, and they would go to extremes to show you the listener why.   

Something for your consideration.

Islam came on the scene about 670 AD after Muhammad received his direction and guidance from an “angel named Daniel” who choked him nigh unto death, as the angel convinced Muhammad to follow his instructions. 

As many of you know from experience and history, Islam has done nothing but slaughter people and grow in power; that is, until 1924 when the Ottoman Caliphate was crushed by the British (with a bit of help,) made illegal, forced to separate, and disbanded. 

What most of us fail to realize is that Islam never went away, and factions, under the banner of the Muslim Brotherhood, continued to thrive using Egypt as its base. In 1979 the US embassy in Iran was captured, and the Americans there were taken hostage for over a year. This event though called many things – such as the Islamic awakening. An Ayatollah, named Khomeini once again ruled Iran; and, it was now under a Caliphate once again. None of us here in the United States understood the ramifications of this event. During that year as hostages America was coming up on a presidential election; then-President Jimmy Carter had to face California Governor Ronald Reagan for the Presidency. What most people don’t realize, is that Ronald Reagan, the former actor, played several cowboy roles, and since old cowboy movies, with Farsi voice-overs, were the staple in Middle Eastern movie houses, the Iranians, and Muslims everywhere, feared the no-nonsense cowboy style which drew first and shot, then asked questions later. Within days of President Reagan’s election, the American hostages were released. 

As fortunate as the release of hostages was, something had changed forever, as Islam began the slow, tedious process of taking over the world once again. Why Eschatology teachers refused to look at relatively NEW evidence, such as the Islamic revolt, and old evidence that Josephus and Tacitus brought us about how it was Assyrians (ancestors of the Muslims) that brought about the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Yes, as conscripted troops they operated under the Roman banner, but Josephus tells us that Titus, upon learning of their actions, attempted to stop them from destroying the temple.

Well that was a bit more than I expected to say, and it is not exactly where our study is going, but perhaps it helps to direct your thinking about the possible pool of contenders for the role of Antichrist as we go on.

As a lead into Revelation chapter 6, you need to know that at this point in the chronology, the church has been removed from the Earth.

The idea of the church being removed from the Earth is comprehensive, and should not be presumed to mean everyone. Pay attention to what Matthew told us, as it applies.

     Matthew 7:21 NASB “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father, who is in heaven, will enter.

What that means specifically, I am not sure, but here is one more example to confuse you – the parable of the ten virgins.

    Matthew 25:1-13 NASB “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. (2) “Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. (3) “For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, (4) but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. (5) “Now, while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. (6) “But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ (7) “Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. (8) “The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ (9) “But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ (10) “And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. (11) “Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ (12) “But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ (13) “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

Obviously, there is a problem here. One might reasonably assume that the virgins represent the church, but if that is the case, then 50% of the “church” will miss the rapture (Many would preach a message like this for the purpose of motivating you through fear. I don’t see a need for that type of motivation, but I do want you motivated.) Does that mean that half of the church is going to hell? I don’t think so, but it would mean that they will have to endure the wrath that God is almost simultaneously going to start pouring out upon the earth and its inhabitants, including Israel, for rejecting Jesus and his sacrifice paid on their behalf.

You need to understand something.

What is coming upon the earth is WRATH. However, Jesus took all the wrath that our sin demanded, upon Himself. Those of us who have accepted His sacrifice – of His life and body, are deemed to be “in Him,” and therefore, no longer subject to God’s wrath. God’s wrath is the time period we mistakenly call the tribulation. Sure, there is a point within this time, in which it is said, the tribulation will be so great that unless God intervenes, and He does, that NO ONE would survive; but that is all under God’s wrath. Jesus told us that tribulation of various shapes, sizes, and pains would be a constant aspect of our lives as believers. Why? Because Satan sees us targets that look like Jesus and is trying to kill us.

On that note, let’s dive into Revelation chapter 6.

Seals; Trumpets, and Bowls. God’s wrath upon the Earth.

God’s wrath is contained within, seven seals, the seventh of which opens the seven trumpets. The seventh trumpet, like the seals, begins the seven bowl judgments. The bowl judgments, like hot tar being poured out, covers the Earth, and everyone is affected.

To get a context, Revelation chapter four opens with after these things. Since chapter three ends with the Laodicean church – the last church age, then the admonition, “after these things” primarily means the end of the church age; and, the beginning of the time of wrath and the migration into the millennial reign of Christ.

In Revelation chapter five, John sees a scroll, sealed with seven seals, and the awareness that no one is worthy to open the seals; that is until Yahshua comes on the scene. When He does it is not as the powerful king that He is, it is as the slain Lamb, the one who paid the price for us.

Jesus takes the scroll and opens the first seal. (This event and the character it unleashes is the first thing the world experiences after the rapture of the church. Keep in mind that what is released with each opening is an aspect of God’s wrath, nothing less.)

With the scroll now open, what is the first thing we see?

    Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. (Revelation 6:1-2 NASB)

This rider on a white horse with a bow in his hand is nothing less than the Antichrist.

Many have interpreted the bow as the gospel of Christ, but it is not. What did I say about the time period? It is a time of God’s wrath, and God, quite frequently, uses people to help carry out His plans; this is no different.

One more thing to consider, since Satan never made anything original, why would he start now, and this white horse scenario is nothing more than a copy of God’s intent and plan. We need to look at Revelation 19:11.

     Revelation 19:11 NASB And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness, He judges and wages war.

Jesus is the only one who is “faithful and true,” and, He is finally here to end the nonsense.

One of the names of the Antichrist is the beast, so watch what happens.

     Revelation 19:19-20 NASB (19) And I saw the beast and the kings of the Earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. (20) And the beast was seized, and with him, the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.

So, there is no doubt that this guys reign of terror comes to an end.

What do we know about the Antichrist? A majority of our information will come from Daniel’s prophecies.

     Daniel 8:23-24 NASB “In the latter period of their rule, When the transgressors have run their course, A king will arise, Insolent and skilled in intrigue. (24) “His power will be mighty, but not by his own power, And he will destroy to an extraordinary degree And prosper and perform his will; He will destroy mighty men and the holy people.

  • An insolent king will arise.

Insolent is the Hebrew word ‛az and means strong, mighty, fierce. There is no mistake about this, this man is serious trouble, and should not be perceived in any other way.

  • skilled in intrigue.”

Intrigue is the Hebrew word chı̂ydâh and means riddle, difficult question, parable, enigmatic saying or question, perplexing saying or question. Most of us who experienced the Obama administration would probably define it as one of intrigue, as his spokespeople talked in riddles and perplexing sayings. It is out of these ramblings that we got the costly and useless nuclear arms deal with Iran; a deal that is now haunting us under the Trump administration.

He will make a treaty with many?

     Daniel 9:27 NASB “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

The passages about the “treaty” say absolutely nothing about Israel, and we should not assume that Israel will gain anything by this treaty.

My opinion: It is commonly understood that Islam only calls for peace treaties to reload their weapons, and this will be no different.

  • One week, in Biblical speak, equals seven years.

What a coincidence, as seven years is the length of time that God’s wrath upon the earth is supposed to last.

  • A firm covenant with many is nothing less than a realignment under the guise of a peace treaty. (Keep in mind that accords are most often made amid warfare.)

But do you see Israel’s name in there? Nope.

  • “in the middle of the week he will break this covenant of peace, and put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering;”

There is something blatantly evident in this statement. This guy suddenly has the control and ability to stop temple sacrifices in Jerusalem. The implication is that Israel is, to some degree, overrun, and the invading force is allowing them to function in the rebuilt temple.

But what if there is something else that is restraining this insolent king from this kind of takeover? Oh, there is.

     Revelation 11:3-12 NASB (3) “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” (4) These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. (5) And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. (6) These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire. (7) When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. (8) And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. (9) Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. (10) And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate, and they will send gifts to one another because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. (11) But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. (12) And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them.

Does the Antichrist have a bitter end? Oh, absolutely.

     Revelation 19:19-20 NASB (19) And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. (20) And the beast was seized, and with him, the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.

 With this, we will end the look into the first seal.

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I was told by the Holy Spirit to share a very disturbing dream with you.

I am going to take a risk and give you a brief look into the window of my life. Perhaps this will demonstrate to you how I got to be who I am, and why.

Experience has shown me that being vulnerable like this does not always work out the way I hope, as some people will not understand, others will criticize, and there are always those who merely see people like me as weak, and someone who needs to be taken out of the gene pool. I call this process, being a sacrificial lamb. I do it because there are far too few who are willing to be open and honest about the pains and tribulations of this life. We have this stupid saying – what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. That probably works best in a gym, but there are events in life that can cripple you, and the reality is, it may take you years to get over the damage.

That being said, let’s get on with it.

Disclaimer – this post is not for children or immature minds.

Having said that, I want to tell you about a dream I had recently.

Get your minds out of the gutter because we are NOT going there, however, I will talk as plainly and openly as I am comfortable.

As a teen, my sex education mainly came from my peers. One of those peers was a part of the Danish family who moved into the house across the street. That boy’s father posted Playboy pinups from the late 1960s, on the walls of the garage; it also happened to be where the train set was. The train set was elaborate, with mountains, tunnels, and a small city that we worked on regularly; but then, there were the Playmates pinned to the walls.

As I look back and try to determine some of the times and events in which Satan and his band of demons/fallen angels, might have got their hooks into me, this was undoubtedly one of them. There were other introductions to pornography from other sources, but I can assure you that none of them gave me an appropriate perspective of what reality is like, nor did it teach me how to be intimate with a woman.

So when I got married for the first time, not only was I a virgin, but I married a woman who had already done several laps around the block and had, unbeknownst to me, great expectations of how I should perform. The short of it, I could never live up to her expectations, and, she had no interest in teaching. Therefore, she went looking for greener grass on two occasions, and I only had enough grace in me to tolerate one of those excursions on her part.

A few things I need you to know.

  • Religion can be nothing short of evil at times, and religious teachings were passed along that made sex seem like everything you were doing, even if it was with your own spouse, seem dirty. Distorted information will mess with your mind, and I walked away from that first marriage thinking that I was damaged and unable to perform. So, don’t get me wrong and stay away sane people at church, merely keep them out of your bedroom.
  • People, along with the help of demons, will try to cripple you. I will give some of these people the benefit of the doubt, and say that I do not believe their intent was not to damage or disable, but it was certainly meant to serve as control and restraint techniques. I say that with the background understanding that we – the church, tend to preach hell, fire, and brimstone, much like Television Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart used to do; and yet, two of his massive failures came through his usage of prostitutes. How odd that those who often scream the loudest about sin, do so because they are struggling the most. That crippling effect made its way into my sex life and my mind. Simply put, I have struggled with self-esteem for as long as I can remember, and the primary thing that has helped to overcome the struggles associated with poor self-esteem has been an intense relationship with Jesus Christ.

When I got involved with a woman for the second time, it was like night and day. The emotional strain that I continuously lived with during the first marriage was gone. This lady liked sex, and she let me know it. Sex was something her and I could communicate about, and the reality and understanding of Hebrews 13:4 became a reality.

“Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex.” (Hebrews 13:4 MSG)

To be honest, I used the Message translation as it reflected what my heart wanted to tell you. The reality is, we often heard the KJV quoted, and it reads like this:

“Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled …”

My take away of the KJV was that what we did in our bedroom was fine in God’s eyes.

(As long as there was agreement. Although the first wife never expressed much, aside from the fact that she did not want to make a baby with me. The second only said no to one thing, and I honored that – as I thought doing that was disgusting anyway.)

I am not kidding you when I say, an evangelist, who came to a church I was attending, said, you are sinning if you cannot see your wife’s eyes. It is odd how you occasionally remember something after such an extended period of time. Perhaps this is simply evidence that everything we get involved in stays permanently emblazoned somewhere in our minds, including pornography.

So, now that I have told you a little of what makes me tick, what about that dream?

In the dream, I was once again about 35 and married to the second wife, the woman who enjoyed sex. Note: I am currently married to the third wife.

This irritating dream went on for hours and having got up in the middle of the night at one point, I thought, good, this stupid dream should come to an end. It did not, it merely got worse.

The wife said to me, I want to have sex that is over the top, and so I want to do a threesome, and she named off a person I know. Needless to say, I was appalled. I stuttered and stammered, but worst of all, I DID NOT SAY NO. Nothing happened.

As the dream progressed, she was driving the car and as we drove past some apartments, she said, we will be having sex with the couple that lives there, and she pointed to a specific apartment. I felt like I had been slugged in the gut, and again I am not saying NO. I had asked the wife how many sexual diseases could we get out of this endeavor; to this, she replied, only one that I know of. My head was screaming, are you crazy, but again, my mouth was saying nothing.

I have come to realize that dreams are often mixed with reality, and the truth was that she and I enjoyed sex immensely, so I could not understand where this was all coming from. The sick side of this was that my mind was toying with the idea, and my tendency to act out of co-dependency was clearly disrupting everything I stand for.

(I don’t know if you realize it or not, but we are living in a world where people who have moral standards are, in some cases, brutally attacked.)

In the dream, some time passes, and we are now at a dinner party where most, if not all, of the people at this party, are from “the church.” Their faces have come from a multitude of places in my life, but the PASTOR who was there in the room is one that I have physically had some interactions with over the years. (As a disclaimer, he has never been my Pastor, but I know him.)

Here, at this dinner party, my wife continues to push what should be called, a swingers club, where we will go to a different home each week and exchange partners for the evening, or maybe just all crawl into one big bed. Everything in me is screaming NO; and, the feeling that I was toying with was, I don’t care if you are my wife or not, get out of our house. But again, I say nothing.

The Pastor at the party is now trying to motivate us all to take part in this sexual transaction and speaking highly of its benefits. There was a reference made to a tall, thin, older woman with gray hair; she, we were told, had excessive amounts of money, and how if we entertain her, we might get some of it.

(The realistic side of this person with money, is that some family members recently moved back to an inlaws home, with the sole purpose of being able to collect money from a man they don’t care for. So, Satan used an additional monetary ploy to keep me hooked into the dream. We all have our weaknesses, and the enemy knows you too well. He will use those weaknesses against you.)

At the dinner party, almost immediately, one couple, although it was notable that it was primarily the woman, loudly said NO. She told her hesitant husband to get up, and out the door, they went. Another couple that we knew had refused to come to the meeting because of its theme.

Then the Pastor aggressively started verbally pushing me to agree.

Finally, regardless of who I offended, I shouted NO, very loudly; launched myself away from the table, and left the room in a rush, without my wife.

Things, aside from the obvious, that spoke to me.

  1. I have lived for far too long in co-dependency. Co-dependency is where you allow the feelings of others to control how you think and feel, and this painful dream was mired in it.
  2. When I was younger, I had a book called When I say NO, I feel guilty. I may never get past feeling that way, but I am getting better at it all the time. I almost wish I could wear a shirt that says, “I am telling you – when I said no, I meant it.” “So, if you push me, trying to get me to cave to whatever the nonsense is, I may take the anger level up to at least a seven on the rage scale, and at level seven, the angry, green monster is coming out.
  3. There is a more profound, more sickening thing going on here. For most of my life, I have caved to peer pressure, and not stood my ground; especially where my own moral standards are concerned. And, there was a strong sense of disgust as I realized that I was entertaining thoughts of relinquishing my moral standard merely to comply with a wife that enjoyed sex. You see, what we did, as a couple, in our bedroom, was our business, but what she was asking for moved into the realm of perversion, and that is not happening in my world.

Needless to say, I woke up in a rage.

Shortly after having had the disgusting dream, I watched a trailer, for a video about Iranian followers of Christ, which are mostly women. They have an understanding, that once they walk out the door of their homes that day, they may never come back because they may be grabbed and made to disappear. This gets especially ugly for the women, as capture almost always means that they are to be raped, beaten, and then killed by some convenient form.

Immediately the Holy Spirit began speaking to me about determination, commitment; and my right to say NO.

If you know me, then you understand that I despise religion. Religion, although having some benefits, has done little more than put me in bondage and fear; and the “approved” teachers filled my head with false and misleading information. Because of this, my understanding of God and His Son were damaged. I had to make a determined effort to throw all those twisted notions aside, and rebuild, based entirely upon scripture, my understanding of who God and His son was. Because of those efforts, I see myself as someone who found Jesus. And guess what else I found? Jesus is just like His Father – loving, merciful, and full of compassion.

If you are not aware of this, then you are like the Ostrich which buries it’s head in the sand, hoping that the trouble will simply go away. It is NOT going away, and our time here on earth is growing short; the tribulations and fiery trials will only increase. True, we the church are holding back the Antichrist from coming on full force, but the day will come when the church is taken out of here, and the onslaught will become unbearable and unsurpassed in its horror.

How will you stand during that time that is coming if you have no backbone now?

Posted in antichrist, condemnation, confidence, Cult teachings, Deception, disciplined, End times, enemies, Faith, familiar spirits, forgive, grace, guilt, gullibility, healing, heart, In Christ, Jesus, judgment, Our being caught up, overtaken, Peace, recovery, redemption, repress, rescue, restore, sexual sin, Sin, The supremacy of Christ, understanding, ungodliness, unrighteousness, wickedness, Wife, wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment