Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Meaning of Heaven

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

Have you ever gone on a trip, but didn't know what your final destination would be like? If so, how would that make you feel?

Some would answer "fearful," "with trepidation," "reluctant," or even "downright terrorized." Adventuresome souls would answer "excited," "anticipatory," and (insert generational exclamation) "groovy/gnarly/it rocks!" An odd reaction, but some would even answer "bored," "doesn't do anything for me," or "whatever."

All of humanity is on a roadtrip called "Life" with the last passage being (you guessed it) - death. Where your final destination lies - for those who reject Jesus and His free gift of salvation it's separation from God and torment in Hades then Hell; for those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of their life it's an everlasting and joyous relationship with the Creator in Heaven - totally affects how we feel about death and how we live life.

For the believer, we may not really be clear on what the Bible teaches about our final destination. Incorrect teachings that Heaven is a spirit-world where we float on clouds and play harps all day long like in some Looney Toones cartoon put me in that "borrrr-ing" category and left me feeling flat about my final port.

Want to know what Heaven is really like as the Bible portrays it? Then check out the "Christ in Prophecy" show below entitled "What Will Heaven Be Like?," or read Dr. Reagan's article The Meaning of Heaven. "Ho-hum" or "shakin' with fear" will not even be in the picture on how you feel about Heaven after watching this show!



Further Information
What Happens When You Die? (article)
The Meaning of Heaven (article)
The Nature of Hell (article)
Heaven: Its Nature and Meaning (DVD)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Is Mormonism Christianity?

Is the Bible not a complete revelation from God? Can people ascend into godhood? Are Jesus and Satan brothers? Are there modern-day prophets that we must obey and follow? Must I have as many children as possible to populate other planets? Did the Native Americans descend from the Jews?

I can't turn on the TV or read the news online the last few months without hearing something about Mormonism. The country has put a magnifying glass over the subject, trying to decide if the Church of Latter Day Saints is truly Christian, or something else. News analysts abound with speculations and conclusions. The result has been mass confusion, leaving a lot of us scratching our heads in bewilderment.

A "Christ in Prophecy" show put the claims of Mormonism to the test with its interview of a fourth-generation former Mormon elder - James Walker. If you want to know where Mormonism stands and have answers to the questions above, then watch the show below.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Summary of the Jews in End Time Bible Prophecy

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

We are living in exciting times when we can witness Bible prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes. Many of these prophecies relate to the Jewish people and their nation. Below is a summary of prophecies concerning the Jews that are currently being fulfilled and those that are yet to be fulfilled.

Prophecies Currently Being Fulfilled

  1. The Jewish people will be regathered in unbelief from the four corners of the earth (Isaiah 11:11-12). Fulfillment: 20th Century and continuing.
  2. The state of Israel will be re-established (Isaiah 66:7-8 & Ezekiel 37:21-22). Fulfillment: May 14, 1948.
  3. The Jews will once again re-occupy the city of Jerusalem (Zechariah 8:4-8), Fulfillment: June 7, 1967.
  4. The land of Israel will be reclaimed from its desolation, becoming once again a land of agricultural abundance (Ezekiel 36:34-35). Fulfillment: 20th Century and continuing.
  5. The Hebrew language will be revived from the dead (Zephaniah 3:9). Fulfillment: 19th & 20th Centuries.
  6. All the nations of the world will come together against Israel over the issue of the control of Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:1-3). Fulfillment: Currently occurring.

Prophecies Yet To Be Fulfilled

  1. The Arab nations of the world will attack Israel in a coordinated effort to annihilate the state (Psalm 83).
  2. Israel will soundly defeat the Arab alliance (Zechariah 12:6).
  3. Israel will dwell in security and prosperity (Ezekiel 38:11).
  4. A Russian coalition consisting mainly of Muslim nations will invade Israel (Ezekiel 38:1-17).
  5. The Russian coalition will be destroyed supernaturally by God (Ezekiel 38:18-23 & 39:1-8).
  6. The Antichrist will intervene and guarantee the security of Israel, enabling the Jews to rebuild their Temple (Daniel 9:27).
  7. At the end of three and a half years, the Antichrist will enter the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem and declare himself to be God (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15-18, & 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
  8. The Jews will reject the Antichrist, and he will respond with an attempt to annihilate them, killing two-thirds of them in the process (Revelation 12:13-17 & Zechariah 13:8-9).
  9. At the end of the Tribulation, when the Jews have come to the end of themselves, they will turn to God and receive Yeshua as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10, Romans 9:27-28, & Romans 11:25-27).
  10. Jesus will return and regather all believing Jews to Israel (Deuteronomy 30:1-9).
  11. Israel will be established as the prime nation in the world (Isaiah 2:1-4 & Micah 4:1–7).
  12. The Lord will bless the Jewish remnant by fulfilling all the promises He has made to Israel (Isaiah 60:1-62:7).
  13. The blessings of God will flow out to all the nations through the Jewish people during the Millennial rule of Jesus (Zechariah 8:22-23).

Prophecies Concerning the Church

Christians should find the fulfillment of these prophecies very encouraging because God has also made a lot of promises through Bible prophecy to the Church. As we see the Lord fulfilling every promise He has made to the Jews, we can be assured that He will fulfill all the promises He has made to the Church through His Prophetic Word.

He has promised that one day very soon, His Son will appear in the Heavens. There will be the shout of an archangel and the blowing of a shofar, and all the dead in Christ will be resurrected to meet Him in the sky. And those of us who are alive will be taken up also, not even experiencing death (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). We will receive glorified, perfected bodies (Isaiah 35:5-6 & Philippians 3:21). We will return to Heaven with the Lord to await the end of the Tribulation (John 14:1-4). While in Heaven, we will be judged to receive our degrees of rewards (2 Corinthians 5:10) and we will celebrate our union with the Lord at the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:7-9).

We will then return with the Lord to this earth (Revelation 19:14), and we will reign with Him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-6). During that glorious reign, we will see the earth flooded with peace, righteousness and justice, as the waters cover the seas (Isaiah 11:1-9).

At the end of the Millennium, we will be removed from this earth to the New Jerusalem the Lord has been preparing for us, and from that vantage point, we will witness the greatest fireworks display in history as God envelops this earth in fire, burning away the pollution of Satan's last revolt (2 Peter 3:10-13). Out of that fiery inferno will come new heavens and a new earth where we will live forever in the New Jerusalem in the presence of Almighty God and His Son (Revelation 21:1-7).

Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Who Is Who in Bible Prophecy

Have you ever watched, read or listened to a teacher of Bible prophecy and wondered if what they were teaching was biblically sound? Where are they coming from in their interpretation of Bible prophecy? How can we begin to discern who are the "good apples" and who are the "bad apples?"

Well, our friends at SoundChristian.com have put together a "Who's Who in Bible Prophecy" guide to help us sort through the hundreds of Bible prophecy teachers both past and present. This easy-to-use guide lists each teacher in alphabetical order, giving a picture and short bio with some background explaining why this person should or should not be listened to. With their "Apple System" it is an easy place to begin discerning if the teacher is a heretical "no-no" or one worth listening to.

  • Smiling Green Good Apple = excellent prophecy teacher and generally sound doctrines

  • Serious Yellow Okay Apple = excellent prophecy teacher but more discernment required

  • Frowning Red Bad Apple = avoid this teacher's prophecy doctrines and use extreme caution

Enjoy - http://www.soundchristian.com/prophecy/who/!

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God." (Philippians 1:9-11 NIV)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Who or What is the "Restrainer?"

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

An interesting argument in behalf of the pre-Tribulation timing of the Rapture can be found in 2 Thessalonians. The church at Thessalonica was in a turmoil because someone had written them a letter under Paul's name stating that they had missed the "gathering to the Lord" and were, in fact, living in "the day of the Lord" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).

Paul attempted to calm them down by reminding them of his teaching that the day of the Lord would not come until after the Antichrist is revealed. He then stated that the Antichrist would not be revealed until a restraining force "is taken out of the way" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-7).

There has been much speculation as to the identity of this restraining force that Paul refers to. Some have identified it as the Holy Spirit. But it cannot be the Holy Spirit because there will be people saved during the Tribulation, and no one can be saved apart from the testimony of the Spirit (John 16:8-11 & 1 John 5:7).

Others have identified the restrainer as human government. It is true that government was ordained by God to restrain evil (Romans 13:1-4). But the governments of the world are in rebellion against God and His Son (Psalm 2), and they are therefore a contributor to the evil that characterizes the world. Furthermore, the Tribulation will not be characterized by a lack of government. Rather, it will feature the first true worldwide government (Revelation 13:7).

In my opinion that leaves only one other candidate for Paul's restrainer - and that is the Church. It is the Church that serves as the primary restrainer of evil in the world today as it proclaims the Gospel and stands for righteousness. When the Church fails in this mission, evil multiplies, as Paul graphically points out in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Paul says that society in the end times will be characterized by chaos and despair because "men will hold to a form of religion but will deny its power." When the Church is removed from the world, all hell will literally break loose.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Ark of the Covenant as a Prophetic Type

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Not only is the Bible resplendent with prophetic verses, it is also full of prophetic types. Prophecy in type is symbolic prophecy. Think of it as prophecy that has come alive, embodied in the life of a person, ceremony or thing.

Everything about the Ark of the Covenant was symbolic of the Messiah. It was made of wood, indicating the Messiah would be a human. It was overlaid with gold, signifying the Messiah would be divine.

The Ark contained three objects - the tablets of stone, a pot of manna, and Aaron's rod that budded. The tablets signified that the Messiah would have the Law of God in His heart. The manna meant the Messiah would be the Bread of Life. The rod with blossoms was a prophecy that the Messiah would arise from the dead.

The lid of the Ark was called the Mercy Seat. Once a year the High Priest sprinkled blood on the Mercy Seat to atone for the sins of Israel. The Mercy Seat pointed to the fact that through the work of the Messiah the mercy of God would cover the Law. The blood foreshadowed the fact that the Messiah would have to shed His own blood to atone for our sins.

Jesus fulfilled every prophetic type of the Ark. He was God in the flesh (John 10:30). He had the Law in His heart (Matthew 5:17). He declared Himself to be the "Bread of Life" (John 6:35). And He shed His blood on the Cross, atoning for our sins and covering the Law with Grace (Romans 3:21-26).

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Tabernacle of Moses as a Prophetic Type

Much of the ceremonial law in the Law of Moses is deeply steeped in symbolic typology related to the First Coming of Jesus. For example, all the various types of sin offerings (Leviticus 1-6) pointed the worshipper to the Messiah who would serve as the perfect and all-sufficient offering for all our sins.

One of the most detailed ceremonial types of the Messiah to be found in the Old Testament scriptures is the Tabernacle of Moses. Every aspect of the Tabernacle was prophetic of the Messiah. The Tabernacle of Moses as a prophetic type can be seen in the following comparison, published in The Christ in Prophecy Study Guide by Dr. David R. Reagan, page 9.

  • The Gate - Jesus as the door (John 10:9).

  • The Altar - Jesus as the Sacrificial Lamb (John 1:29).

  • The Laver - Jesus as the Spirit Baptizer (John 1:33).

  • The Shewbread - Jesus as the Bread of Life (John 6:35).

  • The Candlestick - Jesus as the Light of the World (John 8:12).

  • The Incense - Jesus as the Intercessor who offers the prayers of the Saints to God (Hebrews 4:14-16).

  • The Veil - Jesus as the one who would rend the veil, making it possible for the Saints to have direct access to God through Him (Matthew 27:51).

  • The High Priest - Jesus as our High Priest who enters the Holy of Holies in Heaven as our Mediator before the Father (Hebrews 8:1-2; 9:24).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Todd Bentley - False Teachers Fall Hard

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

It usually isn't long before a false teacher shows his or her true nature and falls hard from ministry. The most recent example of this is the Florida Healing Outpouring's Todd Bentley.

Bentley, the 32-year old head of Canada-based Fresh Fire Ministries, began his rise to religious and media stardom at what began as a 1-week revival in April 2008 at the Ignited Church of Lakeland, Florida. With his flamboyant personality and pierced and tattooed body calling down healings to the ecstatic throngs that filled the revival to overflowing, Bentley had quite a number of people in the world convinced he was the real deal.

To others who looked past his "Bam! Bam! You're healed!" rhetoric, Bentley gave off many warning signs of his true nature. For one, he never seemed to preach from the Bible. Two, his supposed miracles of giving people gold teeth and turning glass eyes into working optics, along with his supposed raisings of the dead, could never be substantiated. Three, he seemed focused on money. Four, Bentley was obsessed with angels (demons). And five, the mark of a true revival is repentance before God, not healing, and these meetings were far from God-centered on repentance and salvation.

In August 2008, Bentley was discovered to be having an "unhealthy relationship" with a female staffer, and the adultery left his wife filing for divorce. Bentley is stepping down from Fresh Fire Ministries and cancelling all public meetings, including a 38-city stadium tour of U.S. cities ("Evangelist Bentley Stepping Down" by Allie Martin, OneNewsNow, Aug. 19, 2008, http://www.onenewsnow.com/Church/Default.aspx?id=219700).

Whatever credibility Todd Bentley had (and that was very little) is now gone. The damage he has done to the name of Christianity in the eyes of the unbelieving world is immense. To those who attended the meetings in hopes of getting closer to the Lord, their shattered faith is even worse. He has succeeded in doing what all false teachers come to do, unwittingly or not – to subvert the work of Christ.

Like a fresh fire, Bentley's "revival" has burned out just as quickly. Maybe he thinks if only he could use some of that supposed divine healing power and go "Bam! Bam! You're healed!" to his personal life and career. He'll find that won't work. His only hope is in repentance to ask Jesus to be his Savior and truly let Him direct his life. I pray that he does.

"He [the Lord] will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts." - 1 Corinthians 4:5b (NIV)


More Info

For more info on Todd Bentley and the Florida Healing Outpouring, read "An Evaluation of the Florida Healing Outpouring" by Dr. David R. Reagan.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Prophetic End of Damascus

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Damascus, the capital city of Syria, is one of the oldest cities in existence. The 1.67 million people who inhabit Syria's largest city today are sitting on a wealth of history claiming as far back as Noah's son Shem. Inhabitants like Abraham and the Apostle Paul at one time were residents. Though ruled over time by a plethora of tribes and empires, the city's history perseveres in an unbroken chain to this day. And yet, the Bible says that Damascus will finally come to a quick, devastating and permanent end.

Isaiah 17:1-14 contains an oracle against Damascus. In no uncertain terms verse 1 says "See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins."

Who will cause the desolation to the city? It will be Israel. Verse 9 states, "In that day their strong cities, which they left because of the Israelites, will be like places abandoned to thickets and undergrowth. And all will be desolation."

The Bible even tells how quickly and during what time of the day this will occur. Verse 14a states, "In the evening, sudden terror! Before the morning, they are gone!"

The prophet Jeremiah reiterates this prophecy in Jeremiah 49:23-27. Verses 26 and 27 state, "'Surely, her young men will fall in the streets; all her soldiers will be silenced in that day,' declares the LORD Almighty. 'I will set fire to the walls of Damascus; it will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.'"

What Israeli man-made weapon could cause a city to be totally annihilated in less than one day? In this modern day and age the answer is well known - a nuclear warhead.

Why would Israel have to use a weapon of last resort on the city of Damascus? The answer is survival. When the United States used the atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was to force an end to the bloody conflict of World War II. Israel will see it has no military alternative but to use such a weapon for the same purpose – to prevent its own annihilation.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reiterated this point when he declared in August 2008 that Israel "would not hold back" in the face of renewed attacks on northern Israel by Syrian-supplied Hizbullah weapons designed to target civilians. "There will no longer be a situation of distant fighting, where major cities continue with life as usual. The war will reach the cities and homes of Israeli citizens and our enemy's objective will be to target the homefront," he elaborated. At that point, "we will be forced to bring an end to hostilities quickly, at the smallest possible cost, using our comparative advantage" which is "massive capabilities and tools during the Second Lebanon War that it refrained from using, because it was fighting a terror organization, not a state" ("Olmert: No holding back against Hizbullah" by Roni Sofer, YNetNews, Aug. 19, 2008, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3584938,00.html).

Even the most appeasement-policy-supporting Israeli leaders know that when their citizens are attacked in their very own cities, Israel will be forced to use "massive capabilities" to end the conflict quickly. The Bible foretells that scenario will indeed take place, and Damascas' long history will finally end.

That Fine Line in Studying Bible Prophecy

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

The Study
I've been a student of the Bible and Bible prophecy since childhood, but my time here at Lamb & Lion Ministries especially has immersed me deep into the prophetic scriptures. No longer am I just studying what the Bible has to reveal about end time events, but now I daily compare the news events to what Bible prophecy says and also read a wide variety of viewpoints from the major teachers of the Bible and world politics. It's what any good student should do.

One of the great joys in being Web Minister is being able to interact with so many of the other students of Bible prophecy via the website, email, social networks and other venues. We are all so anxious for God to fulfill His promises of Jesus' soon return, of the peace and justice He has promised will one day fill the land, and how we can be serving while waiting. These interactions and communications are also part of the learning and growing experience in the study of Bible prophecy.

The Line
But, in moving beyond focusing on the Bible soley for studying Bible prophecy and engaging in news trolling and idea sharing, I've discovered there exists a fine line. On one side of the line is the Bible and what it teaches concerning eschatology (the study of end events), and the other side of the line resides the world of extra-biblical teachings.

These extra-biblical teachings concern numerology like the prophetic significance of miles between Jerusalem and London, codes hidden in the Bible and other texts, mathematical equations based on Mayan calendars, celestial displays like blood moons, analysis of significant dates like 2012, political analysis of persons who could fit the bill of the Antichrist, and obsessions over all things Jewish.

The Crossing
No true student of the Bible should cross that line. Why? For one, the Bible is the final authority from God, complete in its revelation of what God wants us to know. As the Apostle Paul states in 2 Timothy 3:14-17(NIV), "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Second, crossing the line destroys our Christian credibility which destroys people's interest in Bible prophecy. Students of Bible prophecy are always bemoaning the lack of interest from churches in wanting to pursue eschatological studies. Bible prophecy teachers can't even get their foot into many classrooms because the people already have this notion that these teachers are wild-eyed conspiracy theorists. They get that because of the many Bible prophecy students who have crossed the line.

The Stand
I can fully understand that we Bible prophecy students are zealous for the Lord's return, and rightly so. But, some don't feel the Bible is just giving them enough information, and in their impatience chase after the latest extra-biblical studies. Please, be patient and wait upon the Lord. Trust that God has revealed in the Bible everything He wants us to know about Christ's return. And, do not make the study of Bible prophecy unpalatable to others, for there is a wealth of wonder of our Lord in such study.

"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope." - Psalm 130:5 (NIV)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Zeal Without Knowledge

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

What happens when a person is filled with great zeal for God, but worships the wrong God – not the God of the Bible, but one created by a man? How this person expresses their zeal would be determined by whatever "holy" book he follows which tells him what the appropriate expression should be. Such expression would result in stories like this:

"A young girl in Saudi Arabia was brutally executed by her Muslim father this week after he learned his daughter had converted to Christianity. Middle East business news website Zawya.com reported that the man, who is a prominent member of a 'virtue committee,' first cut out his daughter's tongue and held a one-sided religious debate with her. He then burned his daughter alive."
("Saudi Girl Executed for Becoming Christian" by Israel Today Staff, August 14, 2008,
http://www.israeltoday.co.il/default.aspx?tabid=178&nid=16907. Note: The Dubai business site, Zawya.com, has since removed the article.)
"...A woman in the United Kingdom who was kidnapped, tortured, raped, and murdered at the order of her Muslim father."
("'Fill-in-the-blank' News Report on Honor Killing" by Jim Brown, OneNewsNow, August 18, 2008,
http://www.onenewsnow.com/Politics/Default.aspx?id=214188.)
"In the past four months, six Muslim women living in Berlin have been brutally murdered by family members. Their crime? Trying to break free and live Western lifestyles. Within their communities, the killers are revered as heroes for preserving their family dignity."
("The Whore Lived like a German" by Jody K. Biehl, Spiegel Online International, March 2, 2005,
http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,344374,00.html.)
"By Sait Kina's way of thinking, his 13-year-old daughter brought nothing but dishonor to his family: She talked to boys on the street, she ran away from home, she was the subject of neighborhood gossip. Two months ago, when she tried to run away yet again, Kina grabbed a kitchen knife and an ax and stabbed and beat the girl until she lay dead in the blood-smeared bathroom of the family's Istanbul apartment. He then commanded one of his daughters-in-law to clean up the mess. When his two sons came home from work 14 hours later, he ordered them to dispose of the 5-foot-3 corpse, which had been wrapped in a carpet and a blanket. The girl's head had been so mutilated, police said, it was held together by a knotted cloth."
("In Turkey, 'Honor Killing' Follows Families to Cities" by Molly Moore, Washington Post Foreign Service, August 8, 2001,
http://www.library.cornell.edu/colldev/mideast/dilberk.htm.)

The common thread in these and many stories like them is that all these fathers murdered their own daughters in the name of Islam. In Islam, to shun the tenants taught by Islam's god Allah through the prophet Muhammad is to commit blasphemy. Even worse, to convert to another religion would make one worthy of death. And, to not put to death an infidel (kafir) is to sin in the sight of Allah. This is what Muhammad taught:

"If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him." (Surah 3:85)
"Size them and slay them wherever you find them; and in any case take no friend or helpers from their ranks." (Surah 4:89)
"For the Unbelievers are open enemies to you." (Surah 4:101)
"For the Unbelievers, Allah has prepared a humiliating punishment." (Surah 4:102)
"I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, smite ye above the necks and smite all their fingertips of them. It is not you who slew them; it was Allah." (Surah 8:13-17)
"Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the last day." (Surah 9:29)
"Mohammed said: Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him." (Hadith 9:57)

When someone follows not the teachings of the one true God, but the teachings of man, or more to the point the doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1), then their zeal destroys the very family they should be loving and protecting and does nothing more for them in the sight of God but to condemn them. God says in Jeremiah 19:5, "They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal—something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind." The Apostle Paul explains this errant behavior in Romans 10:2, "For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge."

If only such zeal was directed by not what false prophets teach, but by the knowledge of what the Son of God teaches, such as:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:43-44 NIV)
"If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." (Luke 17:4 NIV)
"Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'" (Matthew 19:14 NIV)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Those "Boring Begats"

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Why did God bother to include all those boring begats in the Bible?
I had a fellow write me one time who asked, "Why did God bother to include all those boring begats in the Bible?" He was referring, of course, to the lengthy genealogies of Jesus that are recorded in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. In Matthew's version, the litany begins with the words, "Abraham begat Isaac..." (Matthew 1:2).

The begats are very important, and they are anything but boring, if they are studied carefully. Their importance lies in the fact that they substantiate that Jesus' lineage fulfilled the prophecies that the Messiah would be descended from Abraham (Genesis 12:3) through Isaac (Genesis 17:21) and Jacob (Genesis 28:14), and that He would be from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8), the family of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), and the house of David (Jeremiah 23:5).

Two Lists Full of Gems
Matthew presents the royal genealogy through Joseph who was Jesus' legal father. Luke traces Jesus' blood line through Mary's father, Eli.

The begats in these verses reveal that whereas Joseph was a descendant of David through Solomon, Mary was a descendant through David's son Nathan. This is an important distinction because God had disinherited Solomon's line through King Coniah, stating that none of Coniah's descendants "will sit on the throne of David or rule again in Judah" (Jeremiah 22:24,28-30). This curse did not affect Jesus since He was not Joseph's natural son and therefore did not literally descend from the cursed bloodline of Coniah (also know as Jeconiah — Matthew 1:11).

The begats are full of gems like this. Consider, for example, that Matthew mentions four women in the heritage of Jesus — Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. All were Gentiles, and three of the four were either prostitutes or adulterers. In prompting Matthew to mention these three, it's as if the Holy Spirit wanted to emphasize that the Messiah came to save sinners among both Jews and Gentiles.

A Profound Insight
In the 17th Century an English pastor by the name of Thomas Fuller wrote an insightful devotional based on observations that he made in the begats:

  1. Rehoboam begat Abijah; that is, a bad father begat a bad son.
  2. Abijah begat Asa; that is, a bad father, a good son.
  3. Asa begat Jehoshaphat; that is, a good father, a good son.
  4. Jehoshaphat begat Joram; that is, a good father, a bad son.
"I see, Lord, from this, that my father's piety cannot be handed on; that is bad news for me. But I also see that actual impiety is not always hereditary; that is good news for my son."

Remember, all of God's Word is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness" — and that includes the "boring begats"! (2 Timothy 3:16).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"I am the Messiah" - Not!

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

The ministry's email box can be found full every morning with questions from people concerning Bible prophecy. That so many people are questioning and studying Scripture is a great joy to us. But, due to the nature of what we primarily teach - the soon return of Jesus Christ - we do get that occasional email from somebody who is, well... in need of Arkham.

Some in that group are harmless, touting wild conspiracy theories and finding end time signs in their box of corn flakes. But, others are more dangerous. Not the homicidal kind of dangerous, but worse, the spiritually homicidal kind.

Take for instance this week. A gentleman failing to have previously convinced Dr. Reagan, set upon me in hopes that I would, as he put it: "Follow me; I am the Messiah that you preach about."

I was rather surprised how I felt upon hearing this man's pronouncement, like he had insulted my wife. Now, for those of you who have ever had their spouse insulted, know what emotions well up. That anyone could dare proclaim himself my Lord and King, well, that just irked me. In the flesh, my response would have been to respond as to anyone who had dissed my sweet wife. But, bless my children, they had been asking this week how the Bible could be a Sword, and their question reminded me that this was the chance to use the Sword of the Word in defending against falsehood.

Bible prophecy in particular teaches one how to discern falsehoods. From such study we can know that in these last days before Jesus returns the amount of false Christs will be prolific. Here was one of them. If he thinks he is Jesus, then let's put him to the test of the sword. I parried:

"You couldn't be Jesus. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 24:23-27 (NIV), "At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. 'So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." Jesus said he'd return like lightning, bringing up His Church to Him. I'm pretty sure you've done neither."

I wasn't expecting from this guy a reply of "You're right. I better repent and become saved." As a matter of fact, he replied by skirting the whole Rapture issue and saying how he walks on wine. Again... Arkham.

But, by knowing what the Bible has to say concerning Jesus' nature and return, I could discern a false Christ. Even better, I had a story to tell my children on how the Bible can reveal what is false and fight what is evil. Take the time to know your Bible, and then go out and wield it.

"Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." - Ephesians 6:17 (NIV)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Stop Panicking Over the Mark of the Beast

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

When in time the Rapture of the Church takes place as it relates to the Tribulation really affects how folks react to what they read in Revelation.

Take for instance the 20's-something guy who showed up a few years back at an Adult Bible Fellowship my wife and I were members of. In the middle of the lesson he just exploded in panicky excitement, fervently exhorting us that when the time came to be beheaded by the Antichrist, to just put our heads in the guillotine and proudly have them chopped off for Christ. Or, during another lesson, in the same fervor but with an opposite exhortation, a visiting gentleman from India implored that Christians play along and even deny Christ to protect themselves, erroneously adding that Jesus would forgive the denial.

Or, how about this story from WorldNetDaily.com entitled "Fear mark of the beast? State OKs special license." A group in West Virginia actually fought and won an exemption from the state's requirement that driver's license photos be stored in a government digital database because they would then be participating in getting the Mark of the Beast. One of the members of the group, a physics teacher, even refuses to wear barcodes on name badges or allow his kid's pictures in their school yearbooks because of fears the pictures will end up in the Amber Alert database.

I'm pretty sure that if I believed that Jesus would let the Antichrist wail on His Bride for 3 1/2 to 7 years, that I'd be living differently, too. For one, I'd be combing the news daily wondering which charismatic leader is the Antichrist (maybe the Pope, Obama?). Secondly, I'd be stockpiling food, water, precious metals and survival gear in some backyard bomb shelter. And thirdly, I'd lose a lot of sleep fearing I had accidentally taken the Mark of the Beast.

Bear in mind, accepting the Mark of the Beast is not something to be taken lightly. It's as bad as that atheist group online who is collecting initiation videos from people blaspheming the Holy Spirit. The end result of doing either of these is eternal separation from God and banishment to the Lake of Fire (Rev. 14:9-10).

But, Revelation 13:16-18 gives us enough information for a person to know when they have taken the Mark. For one, the Antichrist would have to be ruling the world. Since he's not at the time of this writing, you're good. Secondly, since the Mark is the Antichrist's key to controlling world economy, and Christians are currently buying and selling, you're good. Thirdly, the Mark is very visible on (not in) either the right hand or forehead, and is easily recognized as either the name or number of the Beast. Since the Apostle John couldn't read barcodes (who can?), don't fear them. Since earthquakes and meteors aren't leveling the planet and rivers and oceans aren't turning red, then the time is not right for the Mark, so you're good.

When it comes time to decide to accept the Mark, you would know more clearly than was ever known which side you were choosing - God or Satan. The Mark pure and simple is allegiance to Satan. Nobody will be tricked into taking it. You would know.

Now, if you are reading this after the Church has been taken up to Heaven to be with Jesus, then yes, heed Revelation 13's description and DO NOT take the Mark, for it will mean great physical suffering while on earth and eternal damnation to the Lake of Fire. But, if you're a Christian and waiting on the Rapture, then brush up on the verses and read this article that shows the Bible supports a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. Relax, and trust in God.

God: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deut. 31:6; Heb. 13:5)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Prophetic Anti-Types

Not only is the Bible resplendent with prophetic verses, it is also full of prophetic types. Prophecy in type is symbolic prophecy. Think of it as prophecy that has come alive, embodied in the life of a person, ceremony or thing.

Adam as an Anti-type to Jesus
Paul refers to this kind of prophecy in Romans 5:14 where he points to Adam as "a type of Him who was to come." Adam, a major Old Testament figure, serves as a type of Christ, although he is really more of an anti-type. An anti-type is a negative symbol that points to positive truths. Adam's anti-typical prophetic nature is seen in the following comparison, published in The Christ in Prophecy Study Guide by Dr. David R. Reagan, pages 7-8.

  • Adam had a living soul (1 Cor. 15:45) - Jesus a life-giving spirit (1 Cor. 15:45).

  • Adam was of this earth (1 Cor. 15:47) - Jesus from Heaven (1 Cor. 15:47).

  • Adam rebelled against God (Gen. 3:1-7) - Jesus obeyed God perfectly (Heb. 5:8-9).

  • Through Adam, all were made sinners (Rom. 5:19) - through Jesus many will be made righteous (Rom. 5:19).

  • Adam brought death (Rom. 5:14-15; 1 Cor. 15:22) - Jesus brought life (Heb. 2:14-15).

  • Adam lost dominion (Gen. 1:26 and Gen. 3:17-24) - Jesus won dominion (Heb. 2:5-9).

Paul further explains this in more detail in 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 where he's comparing and contrasting between Adam and Jesus. While the shedding of man's blood (like Abel's) brings nothing but death, the shedding of the Perfect Man's blood brings life. While Adam had a living soul that birthed the entire human race, better is Jesus who is a life-giving spirit whose salvation births eternal life.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Hope in Laodicea - Islam's Falling Numbers

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

Laodicea - The Church in Apathy
If you're a Christian living in North America and the EU, you know that in our parts of the world it's a pretty sad time for Christianity. It seems like the once solid Christian foundations of society all around us have been removed by churches that are jumping off the sound doctrine ship, and that we are now certainly living in a post-Christian era. It's bleak and depressing.

And yet, this is exactly what Jesus Himself wrote would happen in the last days before His return. In Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus wrote 7 letters to 7 churches in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). Each church had a different "personality" concerning their relationship with Christ and with others. Not only were these actual churches existing when Jesus wrote the letters, but each was also representative of other churches which demonstrate that behavior, other believers who demonstrate that behavior, and time periods within the Universal Church.

The Seven Churches in History
Concerning the emphasis of one church's "personality" over the others in different time periods, let's look at what Dr. Reagan teaches from the "Christ in Prophecy" episode The Seven Church of Revelation: Introduction.

The Church at Ephesus - representative of the apostolic period from 30 AD to 95 AD, when the Church was concerned about organization and doctrine to the point that it became legalistic.

The Church at Smyrna - represents the persecuted Church, or the martyred Church that existed from 95 AD to 312 AD. It's the Church that existed at the time that the book of Revelation was written.

The Church of Pergamum - Then we have the liberal Church of Pergamum representing the apostate Church that existed from 312 to 590. This period developed after the Emperor Constantine was converted and the Church and the state were welded together. As is always the case in such unions, the state began to corrupt the Church.

The Church at Thyatira - represents the dark pagan period from 590 to 1517 when the Papacy developed and the Church became full of Babylonian occult practices.

The Church of Sardis - When we come to the reformation, in 1517, we think of it as a time of life, but it was only partially so. The reformation produced the protestant state Churches of Europe, Churches that had a reputation for being alive, but were really dead because of their union with the state. So, the Church of Sardis, the dead Church, with a reputation for being alive, represents the post reformation period from 1517 to about 1750.

The Church at Philadelphia - The opposite of Sardis is the Church at Philadelphia, the alive Church. It represents the period of Church history from about 1750 when the Church began to send missionaries out all over the world, until about 1925, when the German school of higher criticism invaded seminaries worldwide and destroyed many people's faith in the word of God.

The Church of Laodicea - The final and sorry Church of today that we are so sadly experiencing is represented by the Church of Laodicea, a Church that says to the world, "I am rich and have become wealthy and need nothing whatsoever." But Jesus says to that Church, "you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked" (Rev. 3:16). It is a worldly, apathetic, apostate Church that will not even let Jesus in the front door.

The Hope
But, let's look at how these churches also represent different churches that co-exist at the same time. Herin is where we can see great hope in these bleak days.

An article entitled "Culture Wars: Six Million African Muslims Convert to Christianity Each Year" by David Virtue of VirtueOnline.com (May 23, 2008;
http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=8293) reports on an Al-Jazeerah broadcast of Sheikh Ahmad Al Katani, the president of The Companions Lighthouse for the Science of Islamic Law in Libya, which is an institution specializing in graduating imams and Islamic preachers. Sheikh Al Katani reports of an alarming trend in Islam in the African continent:

"Islam used to represent Africa's main religion and there were 30 African languages that used to be written in Arabic script. The number of Muslims in Africa has diminished to 316 million, half of whom are Arabs in North Africa. So in the section of Africa that we are talking about, the non-Arab section, the number of Muslims does not exceed 150 million people. When we realize that the entire population of Africa is one billion people, we see that the number of Muslims has diminished greatly from what it was in the beginning of the last century. On the other hand, the number of Catholics has increased from one million in 1902 to 329 million 882 thousand (329,882,000). Let us round off that number to 330 million in the year 2000.

As to how that happened, well there are now 1.5 million churches whose congregations account for 46 million people. In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity. Everyday, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Ever year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity. These numbers are very large indeed.

From what I have heard from reliable sources, six million may be too low. Reliable accounts say that one hundred thousand Africans convert to Christianity per day, though not all of them come from Islam."

Now, where the Sheikh gets his numbers and as to whether all these conversions are actual salvations, cannot be verified. But, that we get such an amazing report (and from a Muslim no less) of the massive amount of conversions taking place in Africa to Christianity is truly, truly uplifting.

God has not left the Church to fall apart. God's work is not done in this age. While the overall Church predominantly at this time is wallowing in Laodicean apathy, such a report is clear evidence that God is still strongly on the move and will call all those to Him that are His.

"'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God'... and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." - Matthew 16:16b,19 (NIV)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Snakes and Your Trust in the Bible


Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

When asked for a simple answer on how I know that Jesus will be returning soon, I easily answer, "Because the Bible says so." Some respond back with the question, "And how can you know the Bible is accurate?" What they're really asking is, "How can I know that the Bible is a trustworthy foundation for faith in God and living my life?" I absolutely love this question, for it's so easy to answer due the vast amount of evidence found in every corner of Creation that demonstrates that the Bible indeed is the Word of God.

Take snakes for instance. Remember when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden and God had to dole out the punishment for their rebellion? Not only were Adam and Eve and all their offspring cursed with hard work and painful childbearing and nature cursed with chaos, but snakes in particular were given a curse. Satan had come down in the form of a serpent to tempt Eve, and so God saw fit to curse the snake. Genesis 3:14-15 reads:

14 So the LORD God said to the serpent,
"Because you have done this,
Cursed are you above all the livestock
and all the wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.

15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel."

God cursed all snakes to be feared by people and to crawl on their bellies, no longer enjoying the legs they had before the Fall. That snakes once had legs has been substantiated by scientists recently. A headline news article by Israel Today [Wednesday, August 6, 2008 by Israel Today Staff; http://www.israeltoday.co.il] reported that snake evolution upholds the Bible's account. The article reports:

"An international team of scientists including a professor from Israel's Technion Institute concluded in a recent study that snakes were once four-legged creatures.

The findings, which were published in the scientific journal Nature, seemed to uphold the account in the biblical Book of Genesis where God curses the serpent for having played a role in deceiving mankind and sentences the creature to thereafter slither on its belly."

Not giving the religion of Evolution the kudos that some think this false theory deserves, the article makes it clear that such a discovery runs counter to the evolutionary process which claims that creatures evolve from a lower to higher form. The article goes on:

"The study attributes the change to a slow evolutionary process, but indirectly acknowledges that the loss of limbs was not a positive change for snakes, contradicting the belief of evolutionists that evolutionary changes are always a step forward."

We know that God doesn't need millions of years to take the limbs off a snake and out of their genetic makeup for good. But, we can know that God uses the evidence found in Creation to provide us with more proof that we can indeed trust the Bible as the accurate foundation for our faith in Him. And, if the Bible is accurate, then we can know that His promises of Jesus' soon return are accurate.

By the way, did you notice that Genesis 3:15 is a prophetic verse? While Satan, the great serpent, struck Jesus with the crucifixion, it was Jesus' victory over death that gave the crushing blow to Satan that will ultimately end in him being thrown into the Lake of Fire at the end of the upcoming Millennial reign of Christ (Rev. 20:10). Praise God for fulfilling prophecy!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

End Times Signs Quiz

Can you discern the signs the Bible says show the end times?
Put your knowledge to the test! ChristiaNet.com, one of the world's largest Christian portal claiming twelve million monthly page downloads, has created an "End Times Signs Quiz." You will be challenged with 25 questions concerning what Jesus, Peter, Paul, John and Daniel had to say about how we can discern the signs of the time and know that Jesus is coming back soon.

As a "trophy," the site at the end of the quiz provides a PDF of all the questions and answers that you can study and share with others.

Warning: I (Nathan) missed one because of the translation I use to memorize the Bible (NIV). This quiz is in King James. For obvious reasons (you'll see), I think the NIV has it right on this verse.

On a side note, if you are looking for a job in the Christian market, ChristiaNet is an excellent resource. I found my last position thanks to ChristiaNet.

Link: http://www.christianet.com/bible/endtimessigns.htm

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

You Have Been Left Behind

You've Been Left Behind
Would you like to leave a message after the Rapture?
You probably have a loved one — a husband, wife, child or friend — who hasn't accepted Jesus as their Savior and who would be left behind when the Rapture happens.

"You've Been Left Behind" is an online service that enables you to send messages and other important documents post-Rapture that you have set up beforehand. It is simple to use and enables you to reach out one last time with the saving message of Jesus Christ.

You've Been Left Behind

Send a post-Rapture email
to a loved one!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Nature - A Sign of the End Times

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

"Natural Disasters Up More Than 400 Percent in Two Decades"
That headline from NaturalNews.com [Thurs., 6/5/08 by David Gutierrez, http://www.naturalnews.com/023362.html] states what we are all becoming more painfully aware of — natural disasters are increasing in frequency, ravaging the world, our country, and even our own homes.

The article reports, "The number of natural disasters around the world has increased by more than four times in the last 20 years, according to a report released by the British charity Oxfam. Oxfam analyzed data from the Red Cross, United Nations and researchers at Louvain University in Belgium. It found that the earth is currently experiencing approximately 500 natural disasters per year, compared with 120 per year in the early 1980s. The number of weather-related disasters in 2006 was 240, compared with 60 in 1980... Between 1985 and 1994, Oxfam found that 174 million people were affected by disasters each year. In the following decade, this figure increased by 70 percent to 254 million people per year."

Across the U.S. reports assail us concerning terrible flooding in Iowa, wild fires in California, record snows, record heat waves, droughts and over 900 tornados reported just this year wiping out whole towns nationwide. Globally, a terrible cyclone devastated Myanmar (Burma) and earthquakes shattered China. "'We are talking about some very unusual floods in West Africa, very unusual floods in East Africa, extraordinary floods in Mexico and parts of Central America, and heat waves in Greece [and] eastern Europe,' report author John Magrath said."

"'This is no freak year,' said Oxfam director Barbara Stocking. 'It follows a pattern of more frequent, more erratic, more unpredictable and more extreme weather events that are affecting more people.'"

What is the cause?
The article concludes that the culprit is global warming. But, is global warming really the cause? The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works along with many oceanographic and satellite-based studies counter that the earth is actually cooling [http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.SenateReport].

Whether the Earth is warming or cooling, I believe the Bible gives us the correct answer to all this weather upheaval — God is speaking to us.

Signs of Nature
God has always spoken through signs of nature. The Bible provides us with many signs we are to watch for that will signal the soon return of Jesus, including natural disasters. Jesus said these signs would be like "birth pangs" (Matthew 24:8). That means they will increase in frequency and intensity the closer we get to the Lord's return. And that is exactly what appears to be happening today.

Why God?
God uses signs of nature to underline the importance of major events, like Jesus' soon return.

God also uses them as remedial judgments to call nations to repentance. As long as we kick God out of every area of our lives and instead worship ourselves, God will use natural disasters to yell — "I love you! Repent and come back to me!"

Because of our rejection of God and His moral standards, we tragically are the ones truly responsible for these natural disasters.

What to do?
God's Word makes it clear that when He sends discipline, the fundamental purpose is never to punish. Instead, the purpose is to call us to repentance so that we might be saved. Here's how the prophet Isaiah expressed it: "When the earth experiences Your judgments, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness" (Isaiah 26:9b).

We are tempting Him to move us from judgment to destruction. Our God is so merciful. He is patiently sending us one natural disaster wake-up call after another because He never pours out His wrath without warning. And the great "coming wrath" is the 7-year Tribulation (1 Thes. 1:10).

And so, repent individually for our own rebellion and selfishness. Repent nationally for removing God from our society, for our murders from the womb to the elderly, for our obsession with sexual promiscuity and homosexuality, and for our lack of support for Israel's right to exist. Accept Jesus as Savior. Become one of those Jesus will rescue from the "coming wrath."

When Jesus finally returns, the curse will be lifted and the natural calamities will cease. Maranatha!

Read More
More info about God and the weather...