Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Importance of Israel: Palestinian Myth

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Is there really such a thing as a Palestinian?

To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy invited Jim Fletcher, the founder and director of a ministry in Arkansas called Prophecy Matters. Jim has been an author and book editor for many years, and when in the 1990's took his first trip to Israel to do some book research, he became hooked on the nation and people. Jim is now a strong advocate for Israel.

Jim Fletcher

Stolen Land Myth

Nathan Jones: Jim, you hear from Palestinians and some Christian leaders that Israel stole the land that they now have. Is there any truth to that?

Jim Fletcher: No, there really isn't. In fact, Jews have been purchasing land from Arab owners for decades prior to the establishment of the state.

Nathan Jones: They historically got swindled in the process, too.

Jim Fletcher: The UN in 1947 voted to partition Palestine. A key plot point in this is that the Mandate Palestine included what is today Jordan. So, the Jews took the deal, but the Arabs rejected it outright, and now we have this Palestinian situation today.

Dr. Reagan: That's really one of the biggest lies told about Israel today — that they stole the land. First of all, it belongs to them forever. The Bible makes it very clear that God gave it to them. He said it was an eternal covenant. There's no ands, ifs, or buts about it. It was not conditional. The promise was unconditional. The Holy Land belongs to the Jews forever.

When the Jews began to come back in the early 1900's, there were only 40,000 of them in all of Israel. They came back to a land that nobody wanted. It was filled with malaria-infested swamplands. Almost all the trees had been cut down. There were only 17,000 trees left in the whole country. The Arabs laughed all the way to the bank as they sold them this land at exorbitant prices.

Also at that time, Arabs were not Palestinians. If you had asked an Arab living in Israel in 1900 what he was, he would have said he was a Syrian. The whole idea that "there was a Palestinian state before the Jews came back in and took all the land away from them" is a myth. There wasn't a Palestinian state at that time.

Nathan Jones: That would mean then that there's no such thing as a Palestinian at all, right?

Jim Fletcher: Yes. You're right. The nationality of there being a Palestinian is a myth. The Palestinians of today identify as such primarily after the Six Day War. When the Arabs realized they couldn't defeat Israel on the battlefield, they switched to political propaganda. The invention of the Palestinians has served them very well.

Another fact is that the Jews in 1948 took what in essence was only half of the land they have today because it was the best deal they could get. And still, the Arabs rejected the deal outright.

Dr. Reagan: What people need to realize is that in 1917 when the Balfour Declaration was issued, the British spoke of making Palestine a homeland for the Jews. At that time Palestine, as you pointed out, was all of Jordan and Israel. But, in 1921, the British saw the handwriting on the wall. They were discovering oil all over the place and they decided they needed to curry the favor of the Arabs. So, they gave two-thirds of what they had promised the Jews to the Arabs.

In truth, there is a Palestinian state, and it's called Jordan. 75% of the people who live there are Palestinians. The king, who is from Saudi Arabia, runs around with Bedouin guards because he's scared to death of his own people. So, there is a Palestinian state, and yet they keep saying, "We need a Palestinian state."

All that was left for Israel was a little sliver of land about 10,000 square miles in length, but then in 1947 the United Nations divided that in half. The Jews were doubled crossed twice, but still they said, "Okay, we'll accept it." On that day when they declared the existence of Israel — May 14, 1948 — the Palestinians could have declared the existence of their state. They could have had a second state ever since that time, right?

Jim Fletcher: They absolutely could have. What people don't realize is that there are 22 Arab states in the Middle East, all created out of artificial borders by the Western powers.

The problem in the Middle East is Arab rejectionism of the Jewish state. The single Jewish state that as Yasser Arafat said, "They want to push into the sea."

Dr. Reagan: Exactly! Their real goal is not the establishment of a second Palestinian state, but the utter annihilation of Israel.

In the fourth part of our series on the importance of Israel, Jim Fletcher will explain how indefensible Israel would be to go back to the pre-1967 borders.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Importance of Israel: To the United States

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Should the United States be supporting Israel?

To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy invited Jim Fletcher, the founder and director of a ministry in Arkansas called Prophecy Matters. Jim has been an author and book editor for many years, and when in the 1990's took his first trip to Israel to do some book research, he became hooked on the nation and people. Jim is now a strong advocate for Israel.

Jim Fletcher

Reasons to Support Israel

Dr. Reagan: Let's talk about the political significance of Israel. Why should the United States support Israel, and not just from a spiritual viewpoint, but from a political viewpoint? Is there really any reason why we should support them?

Jim Fletcher: I'm glad you brought that up, because there are multiple reasons to support Israel. One would be that they are the outpost in the Middle East and a bulwark against Islamic terrorism. The Israel Defense Forces are extraordinary. Some people, such as the critics of Israel, complain about all this aid that we are giving to Israel, but in fact, we've received more from them in intelligence value. They are our eyes and ears. So, those are a few main reasons to support them.

Dr. Reagan: Yes, they are a great intelligence gathering operation in the Middle East. And, they are the only democracy in the Middle East. All the rest are dictatorships. For that reason alone, as the only bulwark of freedom and democracy in the Middle East, we should be interested in their survival.

Also, most people don't understand the degree to which they are democratic. For example, the way they treat the millions of Palestinians who live in Israel and who are citizens of Israel.

Jim Fletcher: If you talk to the average Palestinian, as I have many times, and you ask them privately where they would rather live, they will tell you Israel. The reasons are because their standard of living is much higher and they are not afraid of Hamas and groups like that. The Palestinian people themselves by in large prefer to live in Israel.

Dr. Reagan: Yes, but they don't want that known.

Jim Fletcher: You're right. It's a sticky situation for them to be in. The Palestinian Authority still controls those territories, so obviously it's a big problem.

Dr. Reagan: But, the Palestinians who live there who are citizens, which most people don't realize that there are Palestinians who are citizens of Israel, have all the same freedoms of the people of Israel. They have freedom of speech, they can run for the Knesset, and there are even members in the Knesset representing them. Just how many Jews are there in Arab parliaments? None.

Jim Fletcher: That's a very good point and it's one of the answers to the charges from the critics who say Israel is an apartheid state. The judge that sentenced former Israeli President Katsav to prison is an Arab Palestinian, but most people are not aware of that.

Dr. Reagan: No, not at all. In fact, as I understand it, the Palestinians in Israel today have all the same rights except one — they cannot serve in the military.

Jim Fletcher: That's right, but there is talk of the Druze in the north who want to serve.

Dr. Reagan: Oh, yes, they are loyal to Israel. They are serving as trackers for the Israeli army. In fact, the Muslim world looks upon them like the Christian world looks upon Mormons, as a cult that is to be despised, right?

Jim Fletcher: Yes. And again, when you talk to them privately you see a much different picture than what is portrayed in the media.

Dr. Reagan: Okay you've just given us some reasons why the United States should support Israel. One that you can't emphasize enough is not only the intelligence Israel provides the West, but the tremendous technical information they provide. These people are geniuses. They're developing all kinds of technology all the time that we want.

What about Christians? Why should Christians support Israel?

Jim Fletcher: Well, I think one of the reasons is to show people that God is sovereign and keeps His promises. If one doesn't sanitize the Jewish history from the Bible, then they won't understand that God is working through the Jews in history to bring history to culmination. We see the story of the Jews bleeds through in every page of the Old Testament in particular. And so, as I say often, an important subject to God should be an important subject to Christians.

Dr. Reagan: It should be, and yet, we find a great silence in the churches today.

Jim Fletcher: Yes, and we see that many Christians still have an interest, but the problem is the disinterest at the leadership level.

In the third part of our series on the importance of Israel, Jim Fletcher will explain why there's really no such thing as a Palestinian.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Importance of Israel: Focus of the Whole World

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Why is little Israel the focus of the whole world?

To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy invited Jim Fletcher, the founder and director of a ministry in Arkansas called Prophecy Matters. Jim has been an author and book editor for many years, and when in the 1990's took his first trip to Israel to do some book research, he became hooked on the nation and people. Jim is now a strong advocate for Israel.

Jim Fletcher

Focus of the Whole World

Dr. Reagan: Why in the world is such a tiny nation, smaller than the state of New Jersey, such a focus of the world? If anything happens in Jerusalem, it's in the headlines all over the world the next day. Why is that?

Jim Fletcher: About 20 years ago I was listening to Dave Hunt and he basically said, "Because God said so." It's important to God and He intends to reveal Himself in the last days to everyone through the nation of Israel. Also, the story of Israel dominates Scripture which shows it's a big subject for God and therefore should be a big subject for us.

Dr. Reagan: When you said Israel is important to God, the thought suddenly popped into my mind that it's very important to Satan, too. Satan doesn't want certain things to happen in Israel, and he's certainly not very happy about the Jews being regathered.

Jim Fletcher: That's right. This all started with the Fall in Genesis 3. We see the drama played out all throughout the pages of Scripture right up through Revelation.

Spiritual Significance

Dr. Reagan: What's the spiritual significance of Israel? Why is it that so many Christians and Bible prophecy ministries focus on the Jewish people?

Jim Fletcher: The Lord said that He chose the Jews, not because they were greater in number or anything like that, but He choose them because He loved their fathers and intended to reveal himself through them. That's the foundational reason. He chose them for the establishment of His Word and to go forth throughout the world as a living example of God's redemption.

Dr. Reagan: I'd also add that through the Jews the world can bear witness to the many, many promises God made to them thousands of years ago which we are seeing come true before our very eyes today.

Jim Fletcher: That's right. Prophecy concerning the Jews today really dominates the pages of the Old Testament. For instance, look at the end of Deuteronomy. God tells Israel in quite astonishing detail exactly what's going to happen to them should they forget Him.

Dr. Reagan: Yes, He tells the fledgling nation of Israel that if they are unfaithful He would put certain curses upon them like teenage rebellion, divorce epidemic, loss in wars, economic problems, and loss of crops. Then He says to the effect, "If that doesn't bring you back to me in repentance, then the ultimate curse I will put upon you is you will be ejected from your land and you'll wander the earth for a long period of time."

Jim Fletcher: That's exactly correct. Like I say to people often, "What you read in the Bible is what you see in reality." And, what is utterly amazing, God in fact said that after many days He would bring the Jewish exiles back to their land in a second regathering. We are seeing that very thing happen today.

Dr. Reagan: Yes, God promised to bring the Jews back into the land a second time. And yet, many people say to me, "The regathering of the Jewish people from all over couldn't be a supernatural act of God because the Jews have never repented and are still in rebellion against God. So, why would He regather them?"

Jim Fletcher: They're saying that because they're reading Scripture through the lens of an anti-Jewish bias, which I think is the foundation for that kind of opinion. We know otherwise because as you often say, "The plain sense of Scripture is very clear."

Dr. Reagan: Yes, and to me what God is doing today as He brings the Jewish people back in unbelief is a magnificent illustration of His grace and mercy. They don't deserve it, they haven't earned it, but He's giving it to them anyway. The same could be said for us. What have we earned, or what do we deserve? The only thing we deserve is death, but God in His grace and mercy gave His Son to die on the cross for us and made a way for us to be reconciled to Him. And, what He's doing among the Jewish people today is a glorious illustration of the grace of God.

Jim Fletcher: I have some most fascinating conversations with people today who are critics of the return of the Jews. They'll often declare, "Those people aren't even religious." My answer is, "What would you expect them to be doing at this moment in history? They are exactly where they're supposed to be. God said He would bring them back in unbelief, physically to the land first, and then He would restore them spiritually.

Dr. Reagan: Yes, and that's exactly what's happening. One of the most remarkable Scriptures in the Old Testament is found in the book of Jeremiah where he says that when history is over and done with and the Jews look back on their history, they will no longer swear by the God who delivered them from Egyptian captivity, but they'll swear instead by the God who regathered them from the four corners of the earth. But wait, it's the same God, so what's he saying? He's saying that they are going to consider what's going on right now with the regathering to be a greater miracle than their deliverance from Egyptian captivity. We're witnessing that today! But, the average Church member has no idea how important it is or that it's even a work of God.

Jim Fletcher: That's right. They have no clue. There isn't much teaching about this in churches and most of the big ministries today purposely leave this subject alone. And yet, you're right, Israel's glory is ahead of her. They have a wonderful and marvelous future that the Lord is going to provide for them. We are so privileged to be able to watch it unfold.

In the second part of our series on the importance of Israel, Jim Fletcher will explain why the United States should be supporting Israel.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Heavenly Rewards: Longevity

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Are heavenly rewards temporal or permanent?

To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy invited Glenn Meredith, senior pastor for 30 years of Brookhaven Church in McKinney, Texas. Pastor Meredith is a very gifted communicator who is able to present the depths of God's Word in simple to understand language. Last fall he presented a sermon about heavenly rewards that deeply impressed Dr. Reagan, and so he was invited to share some of what he's learned about this topic.

Glenn Meredith

Temporal or Permanent

Dr. Reagan: Glenn, the most fascinating part of your sermon on heavenly rewards was the last section where you talked about whether or not these rewards would be something temporary or permanent. The traditional teaching has always been that the rewards are very temporary. You receive them, then you put them back down at the feet of Jesus to honor Him. That's it. You walk away and that's the end of your rewards. This imagery is based primarily upon one scene in the book of Revelation, where in chapter four it shows some elders in Heaven who have some golden crowns and they place them at the feet of Jesus.

Glenn, you shared your view of eternal rewards not being temporary in nature, and that really got me to thinking. So, I want you to share with us your thinking about how long our heavenly rewards last.

Glenn Meredith: That's always sort of been my understanding. It was certainly what I was taught, or at least what I kind of picked up through the years. That was we would get these crowns if we'd live faithfully and we'd be given a crown perhaps at the Judgment Seat, but then very shortly thereafter there would be this great worship service there in Heaven where we'd take off our crown and we'd casted it at the feet of Jesus. Then, from that point on, everything is just the same for each of us. We got nothing else going forward.

As I was reading the Bible, one day I'm looking at 1 Corinthians 9 where Paul is exhorting the Corinthian believers to run this race to win this crown. Paul says to them, "That the runners who runs in the games run to get a crown that is temporary, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." And so, while it seems a little strange that his whole point there is not to run for a temporary crown, if our heavenly crown was temporary, then that takes away some of the motivation I think of why we should strive for it. But, Paul says the opposite. H says, "You ought to run for this crown that will last forever."

Get over to 1 Peter 5 where he talks about the Crown of Glory that is given to faithful pastors and shepherds of the flock. It says, "When the Chief Shepherd shall appear, He will bring with Him a gift to you — an unfading Crown of Glory." That word "unfading" really means "perpetual" or "forever," and it's the same word that is used earlier in 1 Peter where he's talking about our inheritance in Heaven which is unfading and imperishable.

And so, I believe that the rewards are going to be permanent. I believe as you've already pointed out, Dave, that this authority that we're given to rule and reign is in the Millennial Kingdom, but He also says that we will reign with Him forever and ever in the eternal sate. That's why I believe this authority is permanent.

Dr. Reagan: What's wonderful to me is to think about the fact that we will have as he puts it, "the mind of Christ." I'm not sure what all that means as that's a mighty big statement, but it says we're going to have the mind of Christ. We'll be in glorified bodies and will be in such a state that we will not be the least bit jealous or envious of any other person's crown or any glory that is given to them. Instead, we would want to go up and hug them and say, "I'm so glad for you. It's so wonderful that you did all these wonderful things for the advancement of the kingdom." Isn't that wonderful to think of having an existence like that?

Glenn Meredith: Exactly! Think about how you feel when your children or when someone that you love excels or does something that is honored. You are happy for them. Well, I think that's how it's going to be in eternity. We are going to love one another there. We are all part of the same family. We are going to love one another, so I think that's exactly right. I believe rather than being jealous I think we are going to look and say, "Man, I'm just so blessed by you."

Dr. Reagan: I think in our fallen state right now that's very hard to imagine. We think we're just going to be consumed with jealously and envy.

Glenn Meredith: Yes, that's correct.

Nathan Jones: There's a beautiful scene in the movie The Chronicles of Narnia. It shows I think C.S. Lewis believed what you do, Pastor Glenn, that these crowns we're given we keep. You use them as acts of worship. You'll take them off and bow before the Lord, but then you put them back on.

There's one scene where the four children each get a crown and each get an area of the kingdom to rule over. They're beautiful crowns. The prop designers did such a good job making the crowns for the movie. You watch the kids put them on again throughout what is the remainder of the movie.

Because of the Bible's teaching on crowns, I believe we will continue to keep our crowns, because we are all living examples of God's workmanship through us for all of eternity. We know we don't get our rewards only to just give them back to Him, No, forever we are praising God based on the works that He did through us here on this earth. That's a heavy burden to bear, but it's also a wonderful burden.

Glenn Meredith: I really think what it all boils down to, therefore, that really what God says is that it really matters how we live our life now.

Nathan Jones: Yes, too true, amen!

Glenn Meredith: Too many Christians I believe are just sort of passing through this world and not really intentionally trying to make a difference in the world. They are not using those spiritual gifts that God has given them. They are not taking advantage of the opportunities that God lays before them. So, it's really important we get such a brief time. This life that we live is like a vapor that appears for a little while and vanishes away, and yet it has eternal ramifications. Not just where we're going to spend eternity, but really what our eternity is going to be like and the rewards that we will have matter. I believe the service that will be performed for Christ in the Millennial Kingdom and Heaven is all dependent upon how we live right now.

Dr. Reagan: I'm glad to hear you say that, because I was going to ask you to wrap up this particular section by saying, "What's the message?" Well, you just gave the message. The message basically is that once you begin to believe in what the Bible really says about rewards and what it really says about good works, you begin to be motivated even more than ever before to really get serious about being more than just a back pew Christian who sits there and absorbs and never does anything for the advancement of God.

Glenn Meredith: That's exactly right.

Dr. Reagan: Well, that's a tremendous message and I appreciate you sharing it with us, Glenn. I remember the day that you delivered it. I just got so excited.

I recommend people get a copy of this particular resource which is entitled Heaven: Its Nature and Meaning. It contains three programs that we did about Heaven that people have always been enthralled by, particularly one of the subject in there, "Will your pet be in Heaven?" We go into great detail about what all the Bible has to say about that, but people just love to watch that program. In fact, we have pets on the program. We even have a cat. I don't care for cats too much, but we had a cat so the cat lovers would be happy as well as the dog lovers.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Heavenly Rewards: Various Types

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Besides crowns, what other types of heavenly rewards are there?

To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy invited Glenn Meredith, senior pastor for 30 years of Brookhaven Church in McKinney, Texas. Pastor Meredith is a very gifted communicator who is able to present the depths of God's Word in simple to understand language. Last fall he presented a sermon about heavenly rewards that deeply impressed Dr. Reagan, and so he was invited to share some of what he's learned about this topic.

Glenn Meredith

Various Heavenly Rewards

Nathan Jones: Besides crowns, what will those in Heaven be wearing? Are there rewards based on say clothing? Will there be different styles of clothing? We read in Revelation about white robes.

Glenn Meredith: I don't know for sure about different styles, but we might have variances.

Dr. Reagan: It says in Revelation, "To her, the Bride of Christ, is given fine linen bright and clean that will reflect the righteous acts of the Saints." There may be some sort of emblems on one's robe or whatever that would indicate different tasks that we did in service to the Lord. I think clothes are some of many kinds of rewards that are going to be given out.

Glenn Meredith: Perhaps there will be different levels of glory that will be somehow revealed in us. Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 4 about these light afflictions that are but for a moment but are working for us towards the exceedingly eternal weight of glory. Romans 8 say, "I reckon the sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed to us."

Then you have what the Bible teaches about how we are going to reign with Christ.

Nathan Jones: Yes, a lot of people write into this ministry and they ask, "What are we actually going to be doing during the Millennial Kingdom? What does the Bible say is the job reward for believers?"

Dr. Reagan: Some of the rewards are indeed going to be given out in the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ before we get to the eternal state. Jesus said He'd put one person over one city, one over five, and one over ten. Therefore, I think during the Millennial reign you're going to have every person who is in a position of authority on planet earth will be a person who is in a glorified body and we'll be reigning over those in fleshly bodies. So, every mayor, every governor, every president, king, whatever will be those of us in glorified bodies.

Jesus will be Kings of kings and Lord of lords in Jerusalem. It says that David will be in his glorified body as the King of Israel. And then, those in glorified bodies are going to be scattered all of the world to reign, but we're going to have degrees of reigning authority, and that's part of the overall rewards that we will receive.

Glenn Meredith: I think that's correct. Then you also must add to that from Matthew 6 where Jesus talked about laying up our treasures in Heaven. We've got different degrees of treasure then. In 1 Timothy 6, Paul is exhorting those who are rich in this world when he exhorts, or commands, them to be generous and to be rich in good works so that they may lay up treasures in Heaven which is a firm foundation for the coming age.

So, we've got these people in Heaven one day who are going to have different crowns. They've got perhaps different ways that the glory of God is revealed through them. They've got different authority that's been given to them, delegated to them by the Lord Jesus Christ based on their faithfulness in this world in serving Him. You've got different amounts of treasure in Heaven.

And then, in addition to all of that, and this is astounding, but in Matthew 5 Jesus says that some people in the Kingdom will be called least in the kingdom and others will be called great in the kingdom. Jesus said those who do not obey God and who teach others to not obey will be called least in the Kingdom. Those who obey and teach others to obey will be called great. So, obviously some will be called least and some will be called great. Some have great treasures and some have little to no treasure. Some will have multiple crowns perhaps, and some no crowns. So, not everyone is going to be the same in Heaven. There's going to be distinction among us.

Dr. Reagan: Incidentally, with regard to those rewards I mentioned, during the Millennium the degrees of reigning authority will also carry over into the eternal state, because we are told we are going to reign with the Lord Jesus Christ forever and ever. So, there's even going to be degrees of reigning authority in the eternal state.

Glenn Meredith: That's exactly correct.

Nathan Jones: I liked what you said too about the glorified bodies that we'll be in during the Millennial Kingdom. Having new bodies is a form of reward. That we will have a brand new body is an exciting prospect.

Dr. Reagan: You better believe it!

Nathan Jones: But, to me, I think the most important aspect of heavenly rewards is that we will dwell with our Heavenly Father forever. I mean, what a reward! God had to send His own Son to die to make that type of reward happen. To have fellowship with God like during the Garden of Eden again forever to me, that's the best reward of them all. Who cares about my crown or not, for I want to be with God forever.

Dr. Reagan: The Bible teaches that when you are born again you are immediately given not only the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit gifts you in a supernatural way. You get some sort of supernatural gift. It may be where you're talented, or it may not be where you're talented.

For example, I've seen singers who were great singers, but when they became members of the Lord's body He didn't gift them there. They still are great singers, but they could get up and sing the Lord's Prayer and people applaud. Somebody who is gifted gets up and sings it and maybe doesn't sing it perfectly, but everybody is weeping at the end because they're gifted by the Holy Spirit to touch people for Jesus.

Spiritual Giftedness

Dr. Reagan: So, we're given spiritual giftedness, and we may be given additional gifts as we go along, but we have to ask ourselves, "How do we use those gifts to advance the Kingdom?" I think we are going to be judged on that. God will ask, "I gave you the gift of mercy, and how did you use it?" "I gave you the gift of administration, so how did you use it to advance my Kingdom?" Those will be the questions God asks of us along that line.

The Bible indicates that we going to be judged based on the quantity of our works as well as the quality of our works and even the motivation of our works.

I can imagine some world famous person right now, maybe a great television evangelist or somebody who is known all over the world, and he stands before the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord says, "On the day that you were born again I gave you the gift of evangelism and you used it mightily to bring many people in the kingdom, but I knew your motivation. Your motivation was to get your picture on the front of Time magazine. You achieved that, so here's your reward — your picture on Time magazine."

Glenn Meredith: Yes, exactly! Brother Dave, I believe knowing that is so important, because I think that's where many Christians make the mistake. When you talk to Christians about rewards they often go, "Oh, no, no, no, I'm not doing it for the reward" because they think that if their motive is for the reward that disqualifies them. They misunderstand that Jesus in Matthew 6 I believe says not to do it for the praise of men. The wrong motive is when I'm doing these works so that people will look at me and say, "Isn't he wonderful." Jesus said that's what's wrong. But, He says, "No, instead of praying in public where everybody thinks what a great prayer you are, go into your closet, pray in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you." Jesus says He's going to reward you, so go in that closet and in doing so He'll reward you. Just don't do it for the reward of men.

Nathan Jones: I think when we'll be Heaven how we'll be surprised how some of the greatest names in teaching, because of an improper motive or whatnot, created for themselves a small crown. Whereas the little old lady no one knew about who diligently filled the communion cups every weekend will probably be staggering around Heaven with a massive crown. We'll be surprised.

Glenn Meredith: Jesus even said that on that day the last will be first and the first shall be last. I think that's exactly right.

Dr. Reagan: That's one of the reasons why I teach very strongly that people need to find out what their spiritual gifts are. There are many ways to do that. You can study the Word. You can talk to people who know you. You can talk to your pastor. You can take a spiritual gifts inventory tests to help you find out what your gifts are to use them to advance the Kingdom.

In the fourth and last part of this series on heavenly rewards, Pastor Glenn Meredith will explain if the rewards are temporal or permanent.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Heavenly Rewards: Casting Crowns

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What kind of crowns will we receive as heavenly rewards?

To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy invited Glenn Meredith, senior pastor for 30 years of Brookhaven Church in McKinney, Texas. Pastor Meredith is a very gifted communicator who is able to present the depths of God's Word in simple to understand language. Last fall he presented a sermon about heavenly rewards that deeply impressed Dr. Reagan, and so he was invited to share some of what he's learned about this topic.

Glenn Meredith

The Victor's Crown

Nathan Jones: Pastor Glenn, you brought up earlier Ephesians 2:10, which lets Christians know they have a purpose in life. God created us to do good works. But, a lot of Christians don't know that there are rewards that come along with those works. The works of Jesus flows through us, and it's important how we respond to the Lord's calling. How about sharing then what some of these rewards are that people can expect in Heaven?

Glenn Meredith: Nathan, I think that's one of the most important subjects we could talk about today, because I believe so many Christians are under this false impression that they are going to get to Heaven one day and that everybody is going to be the same. That really believe that no matter how you've lived in this world, that we are going to get there and Heaven is going to be the same for everyone.

I think they have come to that conclusion based on really their faulty logic, and certainly not what's taught in the Bible. It's almost like a person reasons within themselves, "Well, if I get to Heaven and someone's got more rewards than me, then I would be jealous. Since there's not going to be jealously in Heaven, then therefore we must all be the same."

And yet, the Bible is very clear that there are a number of different ways that God rewards His people. For example, the Apostle Paul talks about crowns. I know that there are at least five different crowns that are talked about in the Bible. They are talked about in 1 Corinthians 9.

That chapter talks about what we might call the Victor's Crown. Paul talks about how in a race all the runners run, but only one wins the prize. He exhorts believers to run to win the prize. He says these runners in the games run to get a crown that's temporary, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Nathan Jones: We are talking about an actual, physical crown on our actual physical bodies in Heaven?

Glenn Meredith: I think so, but we'll see. I think that's true.

Nathan Jones: We'll all be walking around with crowns on?

Glenn Meredith: I think that having a crown is sort of a distinction. It's my opinion that I think we'll get to Heaven and we'll be able to look over and say, "There's a person who has the Victor's Crown. That person ran the race that was set before them. They ran faithfully. They laid aside the weights and the sin that so easily besets us."

Dr. Reagan: They exhibited self-control and so received the Victor's Crown.

The Crown of Rejoicing

Glenn Meredith: In 1 Thessalonians 2, it talks about the Crown of Rejoicing, which seems to be the soul winner's crown. This is the crown that designates those who won people to faith in Jesus Christ.

The Crown of Righteousness

Glenn Meredith: In 2 Thessalonians 4, and one Lamb & Lion Ministries is certainly very familiar with, is the Crown of Righteousness. The Crown of Righteousness Paul says will be given to all of those who love His appearing. So, surely the staff of your wonderful ministry will be wearing them and all your partners that help support your ministry. Those people who tune in week after week because they long for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ will get the Crown of Righteousness. The Bible says it will be so.

Nathan Jones: Will we be wearing multiple crowns?

Glenn Meredith: I think possibly.

Nathan Jones: They'll be stackable?

Glenn Meredith: I have no idea.

Nathan Jones: These crowns will be stephanos, not diadems right? Stephanos means they are symbols of authority given to us, whereas diadem means the crown of the ultimate ruler. God wears the diadem, but we wear the stephanos.

Glenn Meredith: That's correct.

The Crown of Life

Glenn Meredith: There's a fourth crown that is talked about in the book of James, and it's called the Crown of Life. That crown is given to those who have been tested and who have been tempted, and yet they've remained faithful to the Lord. Revelation talks about how they are faithful even unto death. Jesus promises, "I will give you the Crown of Life."

Nathan Jones: So, the martyrs get a special crown?

Glenn Meredith: Yes, the Crown of Life is also called the Martyr's Crown.

The Pastor's Crown

Glenn Meredith: Then in 1 Peter 5, it talks about a crown for shepherds of God's flocks. It's called the Pastor's Crown.

Nathan Jones: As a pastor, you'll get a special crown, Pastor Glenn.

Glenn Meredith: Yes, it's for faithful pastors.

So, we have all these different crowns. As you pointed out, Nathan, I believe that certainly it will be possible for some people to be living faithfully for God and winning souls and maybe they'll get multiple crowns. But, I imagine we'll get to Heaven one day and we will see these people walking around with these crowns on and we'll remark, "That person won souls for Christ. That person gave their life and received the Martyr's Crown for Jesus Christ." So, there are distinctions.

In the third part of this series on heavenly rewards, Pastor Glenn Meredith will explain many of the various types of rewards.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Heavenly Rewards: Based on Earthly Works

Nathan JonesWatch MP3 PDFBy

Will good works done on earth receive heavenly rewards?

To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy invited Glenn Meredith, senior pastor for 30 years of Brookhaven Church in McKinney, Texas. Pastor Meredith is a very gifted communicator who is able to present the depths of God's Word in simple to understand language. Last fall he presented a sermon about heavenly rewards that deeply impressed Dr. Reagan, and so he was invited to share some of what he's learned about this topic.

Glenn Meredith

Not By Works

Dr. Reagan: Glenn, the Bible says that we are saved by grace through faith and not by works, and I mean it says that point blank. And yet, the Bible is full of passages about good works. I'm thinking of one in Titus, for example, that talks about how important good works are and how we're going to be judged on them and how we are going to be rewarded for them. How do you reconcile that?

Glenn Meredith: In Ephesians 2:8-9, it says very clearly without any mistake that we are saved by grace through faith, that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God and not of works lest any man should boast. And yet, the very next verse says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which He has before ordained that we should walk in."

So, the Bible is very clear when it says that there's not any way in the world that we could ever work our way to heaven. We couldn't in a million years do enough good works to ever merit salvation from God. It is completely and totally by His grace. He gives us the gift of eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. And, when through faith we receive Jesus into our life, however, Jesus comes in the person of the Holy Spirit and He gives us a brand new heart. He gives us a brand new nature. Jesus transforms us.

One of the things Jesus does is He gives us a desire to do something for Him — a desire to do good works. And so, we are saved by grace, but that same grace which saves us also transforms us into people who want to work for Him. The amazing thing is that God has all these works that He's planned for us in advance for us to do.

Motivated By Rewards

Glenn Meredith: An amazing thing about God is He is so good. Not only does He save us by grace, He motivates us by grace and He empowers us by grace. Then, an amazing thing Jesus says, "I'll reward you for all that I am doing through your life." That's an amazing thing to promise! One of these days we'll have great rewards in Heaven, if we follow the Lord.

Dr. Reagan: I've found in my experience that most Christians who have heard so much preaching about salvation by grace through faith that they are not even aware of the fact that one day we are going to stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and be judged of our works, not to determine our eternal destiny, but to determine degrees of reward.

I think most people are not aware that there's a day that's coming when we are going to be judged. We'll be judged, for example, on how we uses our gifts to advance the Kingdom of God.

Glenn Meredith: Right. I believe that is so true. I think that's one of the areas where the Devil has really just blinded the minds of believers. He's just lied to Christians. I can't tell you how many times I've talked to Christian people who have done something in the service of Jesus Christ and I say to them, "Boy, great is going to be your reward!" And they go into, "Oh, no, no, no, I won't be rewarded." It's almost as though if they think about a reward they're not going to get a reward. They almost think as though that somehow God doesn't want them to be motivated by a reward. And yet, just the opposite is true. Over and over again the Bible tells us that God is going to reward us. In fact, some of the last verses of the Bible Jesus says, "Behold, I'm coming quickly and my reward is with me." And so, God wants us also to be motivated by reward.

Dr. Reagan: I like to often put it this way — there's good news and there's bad news about judgment. The good news is that we are never going to stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and be judged of our works to determine our eternal destiny. That's never going to happen. But, we are going to stand before Him and be judged of our works to determine our degrees of reward.

Worthless Works

Dr. Reagan: Along that line, the Bible even indicates that there may be some people who will receive no rewards whatsoever except eternal life. Isn't that right?

Glenn Meredith: That's exactly right. It's kind of a scary thing. In1 Corinthians 3, Paul talks about how we'll be judged as if by fire. Our works will be judged, and those works that are deemed valuable to God are illustrated by gold, silver and precious stones. Those are the works which will last. Those who have those kinds of rewards will be rewarded. Then it says, others who have works characterized or illustrated by wood, hay and stubble; those are worthless to God in God's sight. It says, "It will be burned up, but they themselves will be saved yet as by fire."

Glenn Meredith: What a tragedy.

Dr. Reagan: It's reminiscent of the image of a guy being saved, but with his tail feathers burning up.

Glenn Meredith: Exactly right. He made it to the end, but that's it. No rewards. Too many Christians I think almost have the attitude that that's all they really care about. If they just make it to Heaven, they think they'll be fine with only that.

Nathan Jones: A lot of them are fearing the Judgment of the Just because they think that there's some kind of punishment involved. You hear from quite a lot of people who are under this impression that as they're going to Heaven they'll find there will be a giant movie screen. On it every sin from their life is projected up there for all to see. Well, that would certainly make Heaven pornographic! You can't have that sin display in Heaven.

When it comes to sin and salvation, Jesus' blood covered our sins. We are forgiven and no longer under judgment. When we go up there, we'll encounter just a judgment for the works we did. It's about how we responded to Jesus working through our lives. I find so many Christians don't know that.

Glenn Meredith: You're exactly right. I remember one time when I was a teenager an evangelist said that very thing. "There'll be a giant movie screen and everything you ever done will be put up there." Well, I'm telling you, I wasn't looking forward to that.

Nathan Jones: Not at all, I'd imagine.

Glenn Meredith: That made me not want to go. I thought, "How humiliating."

In the second part of this series on heavenly rewards, Pastor Glenn Meredith will explain the different crowns the believer in Jesus Christ can expect to receive.