Thursday, April 30, 2009

When Will the OT Saints Be Resurrected?

PDFThe question of when will the Old Testament Saints be resurrected was put to the reader in March's poll titled "When Will the OT Saints Be Resurrected?" The 420 respondents cast their vote among a number of categories. The result showed a wide range of opinions as to when they thought this resurrection would occur along God's prophetic timeline. The results are as follows:

March Poll


Multiple Resurrections

Dr. David Reagan in his article "Resurrections and Judgments" explains that the Bible reveals there will be more than one resurrection.

Jesus clearly taught that there would be more than one resurrection. In John 5:29 He refers to a "resurrection of life" and a "resurrection of judgment." The apostle Paul confirmed this concept in his defense before Felix when he stated that he believed the teaching of the prophets "that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked" (Acts 24:15).

Of course, it could be argued that the two resurrections referred to in these scriptures will occur at the same time. Thus, because they will happen simultaneously, there is, in effect, only one resurrection. However, the Scriptures establish the fact that the resurrection of the righteous will occur in stages.

In other words, the Bible does not teach one resurrection or even two resurrections in number. Rather, it teaches that there will be two resurrections in type which will be conducted in stages, resulting in several resurrections — at least four, to be specific — three for the just and one at the end of the Millennial Kingdom for the unjust.


The Resurrection of the Just

That the resurrection of the righteous will occur in stages is clearly taught in 1 Corinthians 15:20-24. In fact, the first stage of the resurrection of the righteous has already happened, for verse 20 says that "Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep."

Verses 22 and 23 go on to explain that all who have died in Christ shall be made alive, "but each in his own order: Christ, the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming."

The imagery of the harvest that is used in these verses is a key to understanding the first resurrection — the resurrection of the righteous.


The Harvest Imagery

In Bible times the harvest was conducted in three stages. It began with the gathering of the first fruits which were offered as a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.

It proceeded with the general harvest. But not all was taken in this harvest. Some of the crop was left in the field to be gathered by the poor and the needy. This was called the gleanings (Leviticus 19:9-10).

Using this imagery, the Bible presents the resurrection of Jesus as the "first fruits" of the resurrection of the righteous. The gathering of the Church Age saints, living and dead, at the appearing of the Lord (the Rapture) is thus the general harvest stage of the resurrection of the righteous (John 14:1-3 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

But there is a third and final stage to this resurrection of the righteous. It is the gleanings, and it occurs at the end of the Tribulation when the Lord's Second Coming takes place. At that time two final groups of the righteous will be resurrected: 1) the Tribulation martyrs (Revelation 20:4), and 2) the Old Testament saints (Dan 12:2).

Some people are startled by the thought that the Old Testament saints will not be resurrected until the end of the Tribulation. But keep in mind that the Rapture is a promise to the Church, and the Church only. Also, the book of Daniel makes it clear that the Old Testament saints will be resurrected at the end of the "time of distress" (Daniel 12:1-2).

So the first resurrection, the resurrection of the righteous, occurs in three stages, beginning with Christ, continuing with the Church at the Rapture, and culminating with the Tribulation martyrs and the Old Testament saints at the return of Jesus.


Question and Answer

For a detailed discussion on the topic of resurrections, view the "Christ in Prophecy" video below.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What the Southern Baptists Are Missing

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

"The nation's largest evangelical denomination reports it gave more to missions work, but lost members and baptized fewer people last year."

That statement made by OneNewsNow.com ("Giving to missions up, membership down among Southern Baptists" by Allie Martin, Apr.28, 2009) sums up the pain the Southern Baptist denomination is experiencing as they put more and more funding and manpower towards reaching out with the Gospel, yet are seeing fewer and fewer accepting salvation.

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in their 2008 Annual Church Profile (ACP), a yearly report looking at the work and ministries of each church within the denomination, contains the worrisome statistics. While total giving to missions reached $1.36 billion in 2008, wonderfully supporting more than 10,500 missionaries who engage nearly 1,200 people groups throughout North America and around the world, baptisms fell for the fourth straight year to 342,198, a drop of 1.1 percent, the fewest number of people since 1987.

Thom S. Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay, the ministry within the SBC that compiled the Annual Church Profile. While Dr. Rainer praised Southern Baptists as being "among the most generous and mission-minded people in the world" who will "give even when they're hurting so the spiritual and physical needs of others are met," he also noted that "the numbers simply tell us that Southern Baptists are not reaching as many people for Christ as they once did." As Dr. Rainer reports, "It still takes 47 Southern Baptists to baptize one person for Christ."

Why is that? Why are the Southern Baptists excelling so much in missions giving and implementation, but are seeing ever-declining results?

The answer, I believe, lies in the Profile's Sunday school enrollment statistics: "Sunday school enrollment dropped 123,817, or 1.6 percent, to 7,752,794." And, that these Sunday school statistics are affecting membership statistics: "Total SBC membership fell by 38,482, or 0.2 percent last year, to 16,228,438."

Before I explain why I believe the declining Sunday school statistics reveal the reason, understand that I am currently a member of the Southern Baptist denomination. Throughout my life I've been a member or attendee of many denominations, and as long as they were solid on doctrine and strong in the expository teaching the Word of God, I was there. And, when seeking a seminary that stood on those essential teachings, I became a student of the doctrinally solid Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. In a time of growing apostasy in the Church, the Southern Baptists in the past almost fell off the precipice into apostasy until Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr., led the charge back to doctrinal soundness within the denomination. I respect the Southern Baptists and their stand, and so joined up.

Going to Southern Seminary and attending a Southern Baptist church can be two different things, though. While Dr. Mohler is writing important books like He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World that teach the essentiality of expository preaching, the churches' sermons teach very little except the importance of missions and social justice. While the Seminary instills the importance of strong corporate Sunday school study and even provides the full weight of LifeWay teaching resources, the churches starve out the Sunday school classes in favor of small home groups led by unqualified "facilitators" who are given materials that only teach... missions.

Missions is the key passion of many Southern Baptist churches, and as a former Missions minor myself, I applaud the denomination for its strong desire to reach people for Christ. But, missions without educating those who are going out into the field in what they believe lets loose an army of short-term missionaries that have no idea of what they believe or even how to share it. The "missionaries" all understand the importance of doing missions, but lack the basic Sunday school training to defend their own faith. They can't answer the tough questions of the faith that on the field the world will certainly be lobbing their way.

In essence, the churches are sending forth spiritual children to do a spiritual adult's job.

And so, what are the Southern Baptists missing when scratching their heads over the conflicting statistics?

We are missing that necessary step of equipping our own people in what they believe. And, an important component of what we believe is encapsulated in Bible prophecy.

Bible prophecy is an almost unheard of topic in many Southern Baptist churches. Preachers don't understand it so don't sermonize it. Pastors worry Bible prophecy could be divisive and result in numerical loss so avoid it. Missionaries have no idea how vital a topic it is when sharing the Gospel with the lost world and so are ignorant of it.

Bible prophecy is one-third of the Bible, so important to its author, the Holy Spirit. It contains the promises of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and only Savior, to mankind and to the whole world. Bible prophecy reveals that Jesus will return for those who have accepted His salvation. It provides hope in a world gone crazy. Bible prophecy teaches what happens to a person when they die, describing their eternal destiny in the grand scheme of God's plan for the ages. Bible prophecy reveals that each believer is part of something bigger than just the Church, but rather are a vital part of God's eternal kingdom. And most importantly, Bible prophecy teaches how just amazingly awesome God really is.

Southern Baptists, we are missing a vital part in the good work of bringing people to Christ — we are missing the power of the teaching of God through Bible prophecy. When we put study, especially the study of Bible prophecy, back into our churches and our missions, we will see God bring more souls to Him, changing those conversion statistics to His glory.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Finding Hope in Crisis: Eternal Promises

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

When I finally started studying God's Word, and the Holy Spirit began to lead me into a study of Bible prophecy, I started making discoveries about the future that ministered great hope to my spirit. I had just discovered God's marvelous promises for the future that are designed to give us hope in the present.


An Unjustified Fear

Many people are afraid of Bible prophecy. They say it is full of "doom and gloom." That is true for those who have rejected the Lord. But for those who know Him and love Him, there is only good news.

The Old Testament ends with an example of what I'm talking about. It says, "For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze" (Malachi 4:1). That is bad news. But the very next verse contains incredibly good news for believers: "But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves released from the stall" (Malachi 4:2).

Bible prophecy is full of glorious promises that are designed to give God's people a strong sense of hope as they live as strangers and pilgrims in the midst of an increasingly evil, God-rejecting world. When you read these wonderful promises, you can understand why Paul wrote these words in 1 Corinthians 2:9: "No eye has seen, no ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him."


A God of Hope

As this verse indicates, we cannot even begin to imagine the marvelous blessings God has in store for the redeemed. But the very next verse says that the Holy Spirit has revealed those blessings to us in God's Word (1 Corinthians 2:10). The sad thing is that most Christians are ignorant of those promises and therefore have no idea what Paul meant when he wrote: "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18).

In Romans 15:13 Paul wrote: "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Our God is a God of Hope who desires to fill us with hope. If you know Jesus as your Savior, you are an heir to some incredible promises, and if you know those promises and believe in them, you can live in this evil world with hope, joy, and great expectations.

As the world we have built on the dollar collapses around us, let us keep an eternal perspective with our hope fixed firmly on the soon return of Jesus. Maranatha!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Finding Hope in Crisis: A New Home

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

When I finally started studying God's Word, and the Holy Spirit began to lead me into a study of Bible prophecy, I started making discoveries about the future that ministered great hope to my spirit. I had just discovered God's marvelous promises for the future that are designed to give us hope in the present.


Our Eternal Home

This brings me to the fourth and final discovery I made when the Holy Spirit led me into an in-depth study of Bible prophecy. I discovered that the Redeemed are not going to live eternally in an ethereal world called Heaven. I learned, instead, that our eternal home is going to be on a new earth. Most Christians are amazed by this truth, which shows how little Bible prophecy is taught in the Church today.

Since the Bible teaches that the current earth is eternal (Psalm 78:69 and Psalm 148:6), I have concluded that the "new earth" will be the current earth renovated by fire. It is true that Peter said that the current earth will be "destroyed" by fire (2 Peter 3:10,12), but in the context, it is clear that he is referring to a radical transformation of the current earth. Earlier in the same passage he referred to the original earth as having been "destroyed" by water, speaking of the Noahic flood. The earth of Noah's day did not cease to exist, but the flood "destroyed" it in the sense that it radically changed the nature of the earth — tilting it on its axis, splitting the continents apart, laying down the fossil record, depositing the marine organisms that would become petroleum deposits, and creating the ocean depths and the mountain heights.

At the end of the Millennium, fire will be used by God to burn away the pollution of Satan's last revolt (2 Peter 3:12). In the midst of that fiery inferno, God will reshape the earth like a hot ball of wax. He will refresh it and restore it to its original perfection (Acts 3:21). He will then lower the new Jerusalem down to the new earth, with the redeemed inside (Revelation 21:1-2). Then, He Himself will come to earth to live in our presence eternally! "The tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them" (Revelation 21:3).

Heaven is where God resides. When the new earth is supplied, Heaven will descend to earth as God takes up residence on this new earth. So, it is true that the redeemed will live eternally in Heaven, but Heaven will be on earth.


The Redemption of All Creation

God loves His creation, and He intends to redeem it — all of it — and not destroy it with some mystical "big bang." Jesus died on the Cross not only to redeem Mankind but also to redeem the Creation. That's the reason the High Priest in Old Testament times sprinkled the blood not only on the mercy seat of the Ark, but also on the ground in front of the Ark (Leviticus 16:15).

The blood on the mercy seat of the Ark was a symbolic prophecy pointing to the fact that the blood of the Messiah would cover the law of God (the tablets inside the Ark) with the mercy and grace of God. The blood on the ground was a reminder that the sacrifice of the Messiah would make it possible for the curse to be lifted and for the animal and plant kingdoms to be returned to their original perfection (Isaiah 11:6-9 and Romans 8:18-23).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Finding Hope in Crisis: Having a Purpose

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

When I finally started studying God's Word, and the Holy Spirit began to lead me into a study of Bible prophecy, I started making discoveries about the future that ministered great hope to my spirit. I had just discovered God's marvelous promises for the future that are designed to give us hope in the present.


Meaningful Activities

My first discovery was that there is no such thing as "soul sleep." We remain conscious after death. My second discovery was that we are not destined to be disembodied spirits. We continue to have a body — first, an intermediate spirit body, and then a glorified body. My third discovery was that we are not going to be bored stiff playing harps for eternity. We are going to be engaged in some meaningful activities.

If you are a believer and you die before the Lord returns, you will go to Heaven where you will be involved in worship (Revelation 7:9-14) and service (Revelation 7:15). Admittedly, the Bible does not get specific about our worship and service, but we can be assured that we will find both to be fulfilling and edifying. It could also be that this will be a time of rest, preparing us for the time of vigorous service that will follow, when the Lord returns to earth.


Judgment and Rewards

At the time of the Rapture (most likely before the Tribulation), both the living and dead in Christ will receive their glorified bodies. We will be in Heaven with the Lord during the Tribulation. This will be the time of our judgment, not to determine our eternal destiny, but to determine our degrees of reward. Each of us will stand before the judgment seat of Jesus and be judged as to how we used our spiritual gifts to advance His kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:10). Our works will be judged as to quantity, quality, and motive (1 Corinthians 3:13-15 and 4:5). Some will experience embarrassment as all their works are burned up as worthless (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). Others will receive great rewards.

Some of the rewards will relate to the degree of ruling authority we will be granted during the Lord's millennial reign (Luke 19:11-27). Others will consist of crowns and special robes. There will be a "crown of righteousness" for those who lived yearning for the return of Jesus (2 Timothy 4:7-8). A "crown of life" will be given to those who persevere under trial (Revelation 2:10 and James 1:12). Faithful elders and pastors will receive a "crown of glory" (1 Peter 5:4). Soul winners will be given a "crown of rejoicing" (Philippians 4:1 and 1 Thessalonians 2:19). An "imperishable wreath" will be given to those who exercise self-control (1 Corinthians 9:25). Even the clothing we receive will indicate our degrees of reward. It will in some way reflect "the righteous acts of the saints" (Revelation 19:8).

At the end of this time of judgment, we, the Bride of Christ, will sit down at a banquet table in Heaven to celebrate our union with our Bridegroom, Jesus. The Bible calls it the "marriage supper of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:9). It will be a time of unparalleled celebration. The heavens will ring with "Hallelujahs!" (Revelation 19:1-6).


Witnesses of Glory

When the meal is completed, we will return to earth with Jesus (Revelation 19: 11-14). We will be there in our glorified bodies when His foot touches the Mount of Olives and that mountain is split in half (Zechariah 14:1-9). We will be there to shout "Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna to the King of kings!" as He rides down the Kidron Valley on His white horse and approaches the Eastern Gate. We will be there to witness the supernatural opening of that gate as it welcomes Jesus to the holy city of Jerusalem (Psalm 24:7-8):

Lift up your heads, O gates,
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!

Who is the King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.

We will be there to shout, "Hallelujah!"
when Jesus is crowned King of kings and
Lord of lords and begins His glorious millennial reign.


The Millennial Reign

During the Lord's reign, the Redeemed are going to be doing anything but floating around on clouds playing harps. We are going to reign with Jesus over those who are allowed to enter the Millennium in the flesh (which will be those believers who are alive at the end of the Tribulation). Jesus will reign over all the earth from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1-4) as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). David, in his glorified body, will reign as king of Israel (Ezekiel 37:24). Those of us who will be glorified saints will be scattered all over the earth to assist with Jesus' reign (2 Timothy 2:12).

Think of it — every person on earth who is in a position of governing authority will be a glorified saint. Some of us will be in administrative positions, sharing in Jesus' reign as presidents, governors, or mayors (Luke 19:11-27). Others will serve as judges (1 Corinthians 6:3). Most of us will serve as "shepherds," or teachers, trying to bring those who are born during the Millennium to faith in Jesus (Isaiah 66:18-21 and Jeremiah 3:15).

None of us will serve as legislators because the law will be given by Jesus Himself, and it will be perfect (Isaiah 2:1-4). There will be no abomination known as the Texas Legislature or the United States Congress. Nor will there be any lobbyists or political parties.

The Lord will rule with "a rod of iron" (Psalm 2:9 and Revelation 2:27). The government of the world will be a theocracy, with Jesus serving as both the spiritual and political leader. "He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices" (Zechariah 6:13).

We will be given the blessing of seeing this old sin-sick world flooded with peace, righteousness and justice, "as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). There will be no homeless people or hungry people (Isaiah 65:21-22 and Micah 4:4). Peace will envelope the earth (Isaiah 2:4). The Lord's reign will be characterized by righteousness, fairness, and faithfulness (Isaiah 11:4-5). "The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to Him. People from every nation will bow down before Him" (Psalm 22:27).


The Eternal State

When the Millennium ends and we move into the Eternal State, the Bible does not go into detail as to what our activities will be. It tells us only three things: we will see the face of God (Revelation 22:4); we will serve the Lord (Revelation 22:3); and we will reign with Him forever (Revelation 22:5).

Seeing the face of God is an exciting prospect, for the Bible says that no one has ever seen His face (Exodus 33:20 and 1 Timothy 6:16). I believe the promise of seeing God's face means we are going to enjoy intimacy with Him forever. Much of that, undoubtedly will be in the form of worship. I think it also means we will grow in our knowledge of the Lord forever. He is infinite, and no matter how much we come to know Him, there will be just that much more for us to experience. I feel certain that one aspect of this will be the eternal study of His Word. I get excited over all this as I think of singing the Psalms with David and studying the book of Romans with Paul.

As for service, I would imagine, for one thing, our gifts and talents will be magnified and that we will use them to glorify the Lord. Thus, a singer will be able to sing with a perfection and range never before achieved, and a painter will be able to paint with a glory never imagined.

Reigning with the Lord forever implies that we will be reigning over someone. Who that will be, I do not know. Perhaps it will be the mysterious "nations" referred to in Revelation that seem to inhabit the new earth (Revelation 21:24-27 and 22:2).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Finding Hope in Crisis: A New Body

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

When I finally started studying God's Word, and the Holy Spirit began to lead me into a study of Bible prophecy, I started making discoveries about the future that ministered great hope to my spirit. I had just discovered God's marvelous promises for the future that are designed to give us hope in the present.


The Intermediate State

My second discovery was that we are not destined to an ethereal existence as disembodied spirits. Immediately after death both the saved and the lost receive a body that I am going to call an "intermediate spirit body." I have given it that name because it is a body that is intermediate between our current fleshly body and the ultimate, glorified body that saints will receive at the time of their resurrection.

The Bible does not tell us much about this body except that it is tangible and recognizable. An example of it is found in 1 Samuel 28 where we are told that King Saul, in his rebellion against God, sought the counsel of a witch. She, in turn, attempted to call up her familiar demon spirit. Instead, the Lord sent Samuel who had died some time before. The moment Samuel appeared, both the witch and Saul recognized him.

Another example of the intermediate spirit body can be found in Matthew 17 where the story is told of the Transfiguration of Jesus. This was when His disciples were given a glimpse of His coming glory. As they witnessed this marvelous event, suddenly two people appeared and began talking with them. The two were Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-5).

Additional examples of intermediate spirit bodies can be found in the two biblical scenes I have already mentioned: The Rich Man and Lazarus in Hades (Luke 16) and the Tribulation Martyrs in Heaven (Revelation 7).


Glorification

When Jesus returns, the Bible says He will bring with Him the spirits of the saved (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). He will resurrect their bodies in a great miracle of re-creation (whether their bodies are preserved, rotted, cremated, or dissolved in the ocean). In the twinkling of an eye, He will reunite their spirits with their resurrected bodies and will then glorify their bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:15-16). Then, those saints who are alive will be caught up (raptured) to meet the Lord in the sky, and they will be transformed on the way up (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

All my life I have heard people say, "There are two things in life that no one can avoid: death and taxes." That statement is wrong. The only thing we cannot avoid is taxes and more taxes. A whole generation of believers will avoid death — the generation living when the Lord returns for His Church. It's no wonder that Paul concluded this great passage in 1 Thessalonians by saying, "Therefore, comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

What is a glorified body? Paul wrote a whole chapter about the topic in 1 Corinthians 15. He said our glorified bodies will be imperishable, gloriously pure, powerful, and spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). Paul further states that the glorified body will be immortal, and as such will no longer be subject to death (1 Corinthians 15:53-55).


The Nature of the Glorified Body

Paul made a statement in his letter to the Philippians that I think provides us with a framework for understanding what our glorified bodies will be like. He wrote that when Jesus returns, He "will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself" (Phil. 3:20-21). In other words, our glorified bodies are going to be like Jesus' resurrected body.

Now, think about that for a moment. After His resurrection, Jesus had a tangible body that could be touched and recognized (Luke 24: 41- 43 and John 20:27-28). People had difficulty recognizing Him at first, but that is understandable. If you buried your best friend one day, and he knocked on your door the next, would you recognize him? Wouldn't you assume he was someone who looked like your friend? Once the disciples realized that Jesus had truly been resurrected, they had no more difficulty recognizing Him, even at a distance (John 21:1-7).

So, Jesus had a body similar to the ones we have now. It was tangible and recognizable. It was also a body that ate food. Jesus is pictured eating with His disciples several times, including a meal of fish on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (Luke 24:30-31, 41-42, and John 21:10-13). I must admit that I get excited when I read these accounts of Jesus eating, and also when I read about our eating with Him in Heaven at the "marriage supper of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:7-9). I have this fantasy that we will be able to eat all we want in our glorified bodies and not have to worry about gaining weight! (That should be sufficient to prompt many of you to shout, "Maranatha!")


A Different Dimension

The resurrected body of Jesus was similar to ours in many respects, but there were also some differences. Jesus' body seemed to have a different dimension to it, for He could pass through a wall into a locked room (John 20:26), and He could move from one place to another almost instantly (Luke 24:30-36). One moment He was on the road to Emmaus, the next He was in Jerusalem, and then He would appear in the Galilee area.

His disciples were so startled and frightened by His ability to vanish and reappear suddenly at another place that they thought they were seeing a spirit. But Jesus countered that idea immediately by telling them, "Touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have" (Luke 24:39). When the Word says that our glorified bodies will be "spiritual" in nature (1 Corinthians 15:44), it does not mean we will be ethereal spirits. It says our natural body will be raised a spiritual body, not a spirit. We will still have a body, but it will no longer be controlled by the old sin nature, the flesh. Rather, it will be a body yielded completely to the control of the Holy Spirit.

There is one other thing the Bible reveals about the glorified body that should be a source of great comfort. The glorified body will be a perfected body. That means the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk, and the mute will speak. Those who are mentally impaired will have their minds healed (Isaiah 29:18-19, 32:3-4, and 35:5-6). There will no longer be any pain or death (Revelation 21:4). God will "wipe away every tear," and "there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain" (Revelation 21:4).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Finding Hope in Crisis: Consciousness After Death

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

When I finally started studying God's Word, and the Holy Spirit began to lead me into a study of Bible prophecy, I started making discoveries about the future that ministered great hope to my spirit. I had just discovered God's marvelous promises for the future that are designed to give us hope in the present.


The Fallacy of Soul Sleep

The first discovery I made concerned "soul sleep." I found out it is an unbiblical concept. It is true that when we die, our bodies "sleep" metaphorically, but the spirits of the dead never lose their consciousness.

Jesus clearly taught this in His story about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). When they died, their spirits went to Hades. The rich man's spirit went to a compartment in Hades called "Torments." The spirit of Lazarus went to a compartment named "Abraham's bosom." On the Cross, Jesus referred to Abraham's bosom as "Paradise" (Luke 23:43). The two compartments were separated by a "great chasm" which could not be crossed.

In Jesus' story both men are pictured as fully conscious. They even carry on a conversation with each other. Their souls are not asleep.

Further evidence of consciousness after death can be found in Revelation 7. John has been taken up to Heaven and is being given a tour of the throne room of God. He sees "a great multitude... from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues," standing before the throne of God "clothed in white robes" and waving palm branches in worship (Revelation 7:9). They are fully conscious as they sing, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb" (Revelation 7:10).

John wants to know the identity of these people. He is told that they are martyrs for Christ coming out of the "great tribulation" (Revelation 7:14).

Here are two scenes in Scripture of people after death who are fully conscious.


Paul's Affirmations

The Apostle Paul affirmed consciousness after death. In 2 Corinthians 5:8 he wrote that he would prefer to be "absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord." He repeated this sentiment in his Philippian letter where he wrote, "to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). He elaborated on the meaning of this statement by adding that his desire was "to depart and be with Christ" (Philippians 1:23). Paul had no concept of lying comatose in a grave for eons of time. Upon death, he expected to be with the Lord immediately.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Finding Hope in Crisis: Bible Prophecy

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

Hope is essential to life. Without it, people descend into deep depression or commit suicide or simply lie down and die.

During the Holocaust, Viktor Frankl, who later became a world renowned psychiatrist, was a prisoner in one of the Nazi death camps. He observed that every year as Christmas approached, hope would sweep the camp that the prisoners would be released on Christmas day. It was an irrational hope, but it was hope. Then, when Christmas would come and go without a release, hundreds of prisoners would just lie down and die. Without hope, they could not live.1 Frankl concluded, "It is a peculiarity of man that he can only live by looking to the future."2


A Desperate Need

The world desperately needs hope in these end times. We live in a world of increasing fears — fear of nuclear holocaust, fear of economic collapse, fear of plagues like AIDS, fear of terrorism, fear of war, and — of course — fear of life and of death.

Our nation needs hope. Our economy has collapsed. People are losing their jobs. Houses are being foreclosed. Corporations that have been American icons for over a hundred years are declaring bankruptcy. Retirement funds have been wiped out. Many people are feeling a sense of desperation for the first time in their lives.

Everywhere people are looking for hope, and that includes Christians. Some might respond by saying, "Christians are the only ones who have any hope!" That is true, but the problem is that most professing Christians cannot articulate their hope beyond a vague statement like, "My hope is heaven."


An Ignored Virtue

I came to this realization one day when I was reading Paul's great love poem in 1 Corinthians 13. It ends with the famous phrase: "There are three things that remain [or abide] — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13).

As I thought about those words, it suddenly occurred to me that I had heard hundreds of sermons on faith and hundreds on love, but I could not think of a single one about hope.

At that moment the Lord impressed upon my heart that hope is the most ignored of the Christian virtues. I knew instantly why that is true. It's because hope is directly related to one's knowledge of Bible prophecy, and there is no topic in the modern Church that is more ignored than prophecy.

Stop and think about it for a moment. What is your hope? How would you explain it to an unbeliever? Could you get beyond the words, "My hope is heaven"?


My Heritage

During the first 30 years of my life I received almost no teaching about Bible prophecy, and I lived with little hope. If you would have asked me to define my hope, I would have given you a pathetic answer, based more on Greek philosophy than Hebrew theology.

I was taught that if I died before the Lord returned, I would experience "soul sleep." In other words, I would lapse into total unconsciousness and lie in my tomb until the Lord returned. At His return, I was taught that a "big bang" would occur that would vaporize the universe. My soul would be resurrected, and I would go off to an ethereal world called Heaven where I would float around on a cloud and play a harp eternally.

For me, it was a grim picture. I didn't like the idea of lying comatose in a grave for eons of time. The "big bang" scared me to death. I was repulsed by the idea of becoming some sort of disembodied spirit without any individuality or personality. I certainly could not get excited about playing a harp forever. In fact, I found that idea downright hilarious.

You see, I grew up in a church that believed it is a terrible sin to play a musical instrument in a worship service. Yet, we were going to play harps in Heaven eternally! It made no sense to me, so I wrote it off as a bunch of silly nonsense.

I had no one to blame but myself because I did not study God's Word as I should have. When I finally started doing that, and the Holy Spirit began to lead me into a study of Bible prophecy, I started making discoveries about the future that ministered great hope to my spirit. In fact, I got so excited about my discoveries that I started jumping the pews and hanging from the chandeliers, shouting "Hallelujah!" and "Praise the Lord!" People thought I had gone Pentecostal overnight! No, I had just discovered God's marvelous promises for the future that are designed to give us hope in the present.


Notes

This article is an edited excerpt from Dr. Reagan's book, Living for Christ in the End Times.

1) Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning (New York, NY: Washington Square Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, 1963, revised and updated edition in 1998).

2) Ibid., page 115.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Desperate Need for Hope

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

Bad news seems to be the theme of our times. Each evening the television news is full of stories of violence, corruption, greed, immorality, financial crisis, and the loss of freedom. Our society seems to be disintegrating before our very eyes, and it is, all in fulfillment of end time Bible prophecy.

In February, the Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills, California, hosted its annual Bible Prophecy Conference. The pastor, Jack Hibbs, expected the attendance would be off due to the financial crisis. But exactly the opposite happened. The church experienced a record turn out of over 4,000 people, 1,000 of whom had to be put in an overflow hall!

Pastor Hibbs concluded that the theme he had selected for the conference was the reason for the incredible number of people who showed up. The theme was "Finding Hope in the Global Crisis." The interesting thing about this theme is that it was selected many months before the collapse of the stock market in September of last year.

The relevance of the theme was impressed on Pastor Hibbs a couple of weeks before the conference when two families came forward for prayer at two different services on Sunday morning. The first was a lady and her small children who were grieving over the loss of their husband and father who had hanged himself because they were about to lose their home to foreclosure. The second was a woman and her children who were also grieving over the suicide of the head of the family. He had shot himself over the loss of his job.

These tragic situations impressed upon the pastor how much people were hurting and how desperately they needed to sense some hope.

I had been asked to speak on "What Happens When You Die?" But after hearing these stories, I decided to focus on the hope we have in overcoming death and living eternally in a perfect new world, free of pain and suffering.

I experienced one of the most enthusiastic responses to my presentation that I have ever received. It obviously spoke to the congregation's need for hope.

Normally at such conferences, invitations are never offered, but because I was the last speaker on Saturday afternoon, before the break for dinner, I decided to offer an invitation for people to come forward for prayer. The response was absolutely overwhelming. The church's prayer team joined with me in praying for people for the next one and a half hours.

I ask that you, too, share the message of hope — the soon return of Jesus Christ — with everyone you come across today. Maranatha!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Homeland Security Labels Bible Prophecy Students Terrorists

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Are you a student of Bible prophecy who has discovered that the Bible teaches the planet will soon be under the control of the one-world government of the Antichrist before Jesus comes and institutes His one-world government? Do you believe the Bible teaches murdering our children is wrong and homosexuality destroys lives and that we should speak out against them? Do you feel the increasing immorality is fueling increasing crime, and wish to defend your children with a firearm? Do you love America and want to see it obey its own Constitution limiting federal power and enforcing its own immigration laws? Are you a military veteran who has bled for the freedom of your country?

If you can answer "yes" to just one of these, then you are now considered by America's own Department of Homeland Security to be a "domestic rightwing terrorists."


The Document

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Extremism and Radicalization Branch, in coordination with the FBI, released their ten page Homeland Environment Threat Analysis on April 7, 2009, titled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment." The purpose of this "one of a series" of threat analysis is "to facilitate a greater understanding of the phenomenon of violent radicalization in the United States" so that all "law enforcement officials... may effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States."

While the document declares the Threat Analysis must be made in an "overt and transparent manner," the document also commands that "no portion of the LES information should be released to the media, the general public, or over non-secure Internet servers."

The Threat Analysis reports that "domestic rightwing terrorists" are energized by a series of current political and social factors: the economic downturn, the election of an African-American president, the possible passage of new restrictions on firearms, immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, anti-Semitism directed by a perceived "cabal of Jewish 'financial elites,'" the rise of a "New World Order," and the large numbers of returning "military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities."

In response to these factors, the DHS claims "domestic rightwing terrorists" are recruiting veterans for paramilitary training and purchasing and stockpiling weapons and ammunition. They are teaching "their children specifically xenophobia and antidemocratic ideals." And, they are using "the Internet and other information age technologies" for the purposes of planning and implementing "violent extremist attack" upon the government.

The document claims such violence has already begun "in two instances in the run-up to the election" when "extremists appeared to be in the early planning stages of some threatening activity targeting the Democratic nominee, but law enforcement interceded." It also cites the Oklahoma City Bombing by since-executed Timothy McVeigh.

The document parallels today's conditions with 1990, stating "prominent among these themes were the militia movement’s opposition to gun control efforts, criticism of free trade agreements (particularly those with Mexico), and highlighting perceived government infringement on civil liberties as well as white supremacists’ longstanding exploitation of social issues such as abortion, inter-racial crimes, and same-sex marriage."

For people who are concerned about an impending collapse of the United States, the Threat Assessment warns that "historically, domestic rightwing extremists have feared, predicted, and anticipated a cataclysmic economic collapse in the United States." Those who believe this may happen are "conspiracy theorists" who fear "declarations of martial law, impending civil strife or racial conflict, suspension of the U.S. Constitution, and the creation of citizen detention camps."

That concern, the document claims, is fueled by those who believe in "'end times' prophecies." The document says end-time Bible prophecy teachings "have been linked with the radicalization of domestic extremist individuals and groups in the past, such as violent Christian Identity organizations and extremist members of the militia movement."

On a brighter note for all Americans involved, the Threat Assessment reports it "has no specific information that domestic rightwing terrorists... [are] currently planning acts of violence." Also, it shares the view that "both rightwing extremists and law-abiding citizens share a belief that rising crime rates attributed to a slumping economy make the purchase of legitimate firearms a wise move at this time."

The DHS/I&A "will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months to ascertain with greater regional specificity the rise in rightwing extremist activity in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the political, economic, and social factors that drive rightwing extremist radicalization."


The Response

In only the few days since what must have been its leak to The Washington Times newspaper, the DHS Threat Assessment has created a clamor of angry responses. Americans who love their country, its laws and the Bible feel insulted and betrayed that our own government would label over 50% of the population "domestic rightwing terrorists."

Well known speakers like former President Ronald Reagan's son Michael have expressed their incredulity. And Jay Sekulow, chief counsel at the American Center for Law & Justice, is even "preparing a legal analysis and will be launching a nationwide campaign in the days ahead to demand that Homeland Security remove the references from its warning."

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano defended the report, saying that only the definition of right-wing extremism that was included in a footnote should be reworded to be more sensitive.


My Analysis

Concerning the DHS Threat Assessment document, I've read over the ten pages and have found it disturbing. Its claim that Americans who do not agree with the liberal bent of the current administration are paranoid, shows just how paranoid the current administration is.

In part, I can understand the racism element involved in the government's paranoia. Despicable white supremist groups do ooze out of their pits now and then and wouldn't mind taking a pot-shot at President Obama, or anyone else outside of their hometown for that matter. For these white supremist groups the Threat Assessment is certainly addressing, it is well-founded to keep an eye on such groups. But, that racism is somehow tied to the pro-life and pro-marriage movements is an outrageous inference.

As for the paranoia that conservative values equal terrorist values, that inference shows the highest and most unfounded levels of paranoia. The United States has been a nation composed of many ideologies and values throughout its history that for the most part have lived peaceably side-by-side. That the liberal ideology would believe it has to call competitive ideologies "terrorists," proves those who hold to that terminology must themselves be fearful bigots. Fearful bigotry produced the most dreadful event in American history - the Civil War. Is that what the current DHS guard is advocating?

As for Christians who believe in God's moral law and students of Bible prophecy, being seen as terrorists is a chilling thought. Christians only have to look at other large democracies like India to see that democracy doesn't protect its Christian citizens when the government would rather not have them around.

When did such a transition take place in the United States, that our "apple pie" Americans who love God and country such as myself would be seen as the enemy? The answer coincides when the values of the Bible were ejected from our society. A free and truly democratic society that values life and liberty cannot survive without those who hold to God's moral law. True freedom requires Jesus Christ, the Bible, and a foundation that rests firmly on what God calls right and wrong.

I do hope that every intelligence agent who is scouring my article to discern the thought and intents of my heart comes to understand this.


Your Response

Homeland Security gives addresses to its personnel for comments and questions. We, too, should also offer DHS our comments and questions in a civilized and loving fashion.

"For comments or questions related to the content or dissemination of [the Threat Analysis] document, please contact the DHS/I&A Production Branch at IA.PM@hq.dhs.gov, IA.PM@dhs.sgov.gov, or IA.PM@dhs.ic.gov."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Protesters Boycott Israel By Stealing in France

PDFAccording to the following YouTube video, on March 7, 2009, a Pro-Palestinian group clad in green t-shirts calling themselves "Action Boycott Israel" entered a French supermarket and began removing all goods manufactured by Israel. After pilfering the shelves, the protestors held a rally in the middle of the store while making passionate speeches about why Israel should no longer exist.



As illegal as it is to have dozens of protestors pillage a store, a sign of how overall anti-Semitic France has become are the absence of police on the scene. Another frightening sign of the ever increasing tide of the subsequent rise in anti-Semitism world-wide are the comments people from around the world have posted with the video. The following are a few examples:

It is amazing how one country can cause so much terror and grief to one area of the planet. I am truly sick of the state of Israel. The new Nazis!! I can only wish that this wave of anti Israel sentiment would surface here in Canada!

Down with Israel...Hail Adolf Hitler!

Way to go French people! Let's ALL send lots of HATE to Israel! That's what they deserve and nothing more. Long live Palestine!

Let us all know the brands so we can avoid them! But if it's not Kosher it might be poison, that's what I heard. Check out the ingredient and you will see some strange stuff if it's not Kosher. Like EDTA.

Time is running out for the chosen people. Tick, tock ,tick tock, tick tock.

Boycott Israel! Justice for Palestine!

Israeli soldiers were shooting children in the head at point blank range during the recent GAZA attack. 1,500 Palestinians DEAD, 5,000 injured -The Israeli army should be proud of this blood bath.

Awesome Awesome Awesome Awesome Awesome Awesome Awesome Awesome Awesome Awesome Awesome

That supermarket sure sells a lot of Israeli goods. The entire supermarket should be boycotted.

Absolutely BRILLIANT!! These people have the right idea. The same should be done in every supermarket across the world that sells israeli tainted goods.

Bravo Peace for the Innocent Justice for the criminals

As long as the American government still props up the Terroist State Israel, this is just a publicity stunt.

A thousand curses on the nation of israel, and well done to these good French people.

This is really great!... A most encouraging video. Down with Israel!. Long Live Palestine!

french cops boycott israel too.... all world wil boycott israel soon

On another point -- the Supermarket is selling illegal goods - produced on stolen land. The Cops should be doing this!!

great video. more power to the boycott israel movement!!!

Well done Palestinians.. We all Muslims are with You..

Bravo, good job.

I experienced a wide range of reactions when witnessing this scene online. My first reaction was disgust at the hatred and prejudice of the anti-Semites. My second was pity, because due to the false teachings of their Islamic mullahs these Jew-haters are very ignorant about God's promises to Israel and their historic claim to the land, as too are the European sympathizers who buy into the Islamic rhetoric. But, thirdly, I felt sorrow at how lost these people are. They truly feel their hatred of the Jew has God's sympathy and support.

God's reaction to those who rage against Him and His promises to both Israel and believers in Christ is this:

Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together

against the LORD
and against his Anointed One.

"Let us break their chains," they say,
"and throw off their fetters."

The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.

Then he rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,

"I have installed my King
on Zion, my holy hill."


- Psalm 2:1-6 (NIV)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Preparing For The Tribulation

I am someone who believes the Bible teaches a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, that is, that Jesus will return for His Bride the Church and remove her from the planet before God unleashes His wrath upon the world for seven years. At the end of the seven years, Jesus will return in His Second Coming to earth with the Church Age Saints and do battle with the Antichrist and Satan. Jesus' victory will then usher in His 1,000-year Kingdom and the world will experience peace, righteousness and justice.

Others believe that Jesus will come to rapture the Church at the mid-point of the seven years. Still others believe Jesus will rapture believers just before the opening of the Sixth Seal, which they say is the true beginning of God's wrath. And, still others believe Jesus will rapture believers up to Heaven moments before Jesus returns for His Second Coming.

I get emails almost on a daily basis from the folks who do not support the Pre-Trib Rapture view, saying the view is fundamentally flawed, nay even satanic, because it doesn't help people prepare for living in the Tribulation. When I respond by asking how they are personally preparing for the Tribulation (like building bomb shelters, making gold investments, hoarding gun caches, etc.) and inquiring how they're advising others, I receive no response.

And so, I'm left without an answer. Maybe this time, if I leave this article wide open to be finished by those who feel the need to make some type of preparation for living in the Tribulation, I'll receive answers to the following questions.

  1. Do you feel you'll be specially protected during the Tribulation (with the world being annihilated and believers being massacred - Rev. 7:9-17), and if so, how?

  2. What preparations are you currently making for living in the Tribulation?

Thank you for contributing to my understanding by using the "Comments" link below!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Overwhelmed By The Pace

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Today I feel most overwhelmed.

Every day I sit down and scour world events for signs of the soon return of Jesus Christ. Some days, I have to pick through dozens of articles and stories to find just one happening that has prophetic significance. Whether it be the growing apostasy in the Church, the rise of a one-world government, the solidification of the Ezekiel 38-39 Gog-Magog Muslim alliance, the reviving of the Roman Empire, the rapid decline of American power or the ongoing restoration of the nation of Israel — there is usually some event that like a gold nugget can be panned from the media stream.

But, not today. Today every rock I pick up is a gold nugget. Every story I begin reading screams about the soon return of Jesus Christ. As soon as I'm halfway through one article, another comes into my Inbox or RSS feed to interrupt and shout its report. The combined yelling of all these prophetic stories is a cacophony that has overwhelmed my ability to process all that is going on. I'm forced to cover my ears with my hands and close my eyes tightly shut.

Here are just a few examples of today's headlines:

"For the media, it's un-Holy Week"
(OneNewsNow.com, Colleen Raezler, Wednesday, April 8, 2009)
"Newsweek proclaimed 'The Decline and Fall of Christian America' on its cover. The Washington Post/Newsweek 'On Faith' blog featured a post that belittled the significance of Jesus' death and resurrection. The Discovery Channel aired a documentary that painted Jesus as little more than an opportunistic politician who caught a bad break in a trial... Anti-Christianism is the last acceptable prejudice. The assault on Christian beliefs and morality is ongoing... But because Easter is so central to understanding Jesus and His purpose, and to Christians' own understanding of the world, the secular attack escalates during Holy Week."

"Obama Popularity Soaring Across Middle East"
(Newsmax.com, Wednesday, April 8, 2009)
"The Middle East is finding, to its amazement, that it may actually like America's new leader... They want Washington to press for the creation of a Palestinian state to resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict — something Obama has promised to do... Obama's visit to Turkey this week was full of gestures calculated at showing he is a friend to Muslims... Even an offhand comment that he had to wrap up the town-hall before the afternoon call to Islamic prayers showed an easy familiarity with the rhythms of Muslims' lives... Even hard-liners took notice. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country welcomes talks with the United States if Obama proves 'honest' in extending the U.S. hand to Iran, one of his strongest signals yet of openness to Obama's calls for dialogue."

"100,000 secular Britons seek 'de-baptism'"
(Yahoo! News, Monday, March 30, 2009)
"More than 100,000 Britons have recently downloaded 'certificates of de-baptism' from the Internet to renounce their Christian faith... Michael Evans, 66, branded baptising children as 'a form of child abuse'... 'hostility' is fueling the de-baptism movement."

"Rick Warren disavows support for Prop. 8"
(OneNewsNow.com, Jim Brown, Wednesday, April 8, 2009)
"California mega-church pastor and author of The Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren says he apologized to his homosexual friends for making comments in support of California's Proposition 8, and now claims he 'never once even gave an endorsement' of the marriage amendment... Monday night on CNN's Larry King Live, Pastor Rick Warren apologized for his support of Prop. 8, California's voter-approved marriage protection amendment."

"Obama's G20 plan kisses off Declaration of Independence"
(WorldNetDaily.com, Jerome Corsi, Wednesday, April 8, 2009)
"At the G20 meeting in London... President Obama gave the blessing of the United States to the G20 decision to elevate the Financial Stability Forum into the Financial Stability Board. The United States has only one vote in the newly constituted Financial Stability Board, a group that will be largely controlled by European central bankers... The new global regulator now has the authority to examine all U.S. banks, brokerage firms and corporations... to examine operations and determine risk. The Financial Stability Board then has the international authority to set policies in these corporations... the Obama administration, by agreeing to create the Financial Stability Board, has gone beyond nationalizing U.S. corporations, to 'internationalize' U.S.-based corporations under the control of this new global regulator."

"IDF planning largest-ever drill to prepare Israel for war"
(Haartz.com, Anshel Pfeffer, Tuesday, April 7, 2009)
"The Home Front Command is preparing to hold the largest exercise ever in Israeli history, scheduled to take place in about two months, in hopes of priming the populace and raising awareness of the possibility of war breaking out... The exercise is scheduled to last an entire week and test a series of scenarios that include missile strikes with conventional and non-conventional warheads, fired by Hezbollah, Syria or Hamas."

"Italy earthquake death toll rises to 283"
(Yahoo! News, Monday, March 30, 2009)
"L'AQUILA, Italy... The death toll from Italy's worst quake in three decades reached 283, including 20 children and teens... Strong aftershocks overnight rattled residents — nearly 18,000 of whom are living in tent camps around the stricken region."

"The G20 moves the world a step closer to a global currency"
(Telegraph.co.uk, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Tuesday, April 7, 2009)
"A single clause in Point 19 of the communiquè issued by the G20 leaders amounts to revolution in the global financial order... In effect, the G20 leaders have activated the IMF's power to create money and begin global 'quantitative easing'. In doing so, they are putting a de facto world currency into play. It is outside the control of any sovereign body."

And the headlines go on, and on, and on, and...

From a great falling away from the faith (2 Tim. 4:3), to the siding of the United States with Islam against Israel and God (Rev. 19:19), to a consuming apostasy in the Church (Rev. 3:14-22), to Israel's fight for its very survival (Ps. 83; Ezek. 38-39), to prolific natural disasters (Matt. 24:6), to the ongoing formation of a one-world government whose leader someday will be called "The Antichrist" (Rev. 13:7) — Bible prophecy is being fulfilled at a fast and furious pace. It is all simply overwhelming.

And yet, the ever-increasing pace of end-time events is itself a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. During one of Jesus' most detailed descriptions of what the world would experience before His imminent return, Jesus stated in Matthew 24:8 that "All these are the beginning of birth pains." Birth pains increase in frequency and intensity the closer to the actual birth. So, too, with Jesus' Second Coming, as the end-time events increase in frequency and intensity until He returns.

At the overwhelming pace of end-time events these days, the "birth" is about to occur.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Validity of the Resurrection: Personified

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

There is simply no way to overemphasize the importance of the resurrection to the Christian faith, for the resurrection of Jesus is the Christian faith. Christianity stands or falls on the validity, the historical reality of the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus is either the greatest event in the history of mankind, or it is the cruelest hoax that has ever been perpetrated. Which is it, truth or fantasy?


Transformed Lives Personify It

I will hasten to say that the greatest evidence of the resurrection of Jesus is not the empty tomb. It is something else. The greatest evidence of the resurrection in Scripture is to be seen in the transformed lives of Jesus' disciples. For within 50 days of His crucifixion, His disciples had been miraculously transformed from a defeated, frustrated, hopeless group of individuals into a confident band of Christian soldiers determined to win the world for their Lord.

Jesus' own brother James is a good example of what Dave is talking about. James did not believe in Jesus while He was alive. Yet after the resurrection, James became the leader of the Church in Jerusalem. Or consider Peter, who denied Jesus three times in a fit of cowardice. He began to proclaim boldly, Jesus Christ the Lord, even before the very Sanhedrin council that had condemned Jesus to death. And then there was a young Christian by the name of Stephen who was stoned to death because of his witness of Jesus. And let's not forget the most ruthless persecutor of the church, Saul of Tarsus. He became the greatest missionary in the history of the Church, all because he encountered the risen Lord on the road to Damascus.

And for what I consider to be the most convincing evidence of all, I have in mind the way in which peoples lives continue to be transformed today through their encounter with the living Jesus.

What about you? Have you met Jesus? Have you been born again by placing your faith in Him? Are you ready to face death without fear because you know you will spend eternity with God?

Salvation is to be found in a personal relationship with a living Savior. Jesus said that eternal life is knowing Him. You know, when one of Jesus' disciples named Thomas finally encountered Him after the resurrection, he cried out, "My Lord and my God." Jesus replied, "Because you have seen me you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe." I challenge you to believe in the risen Jesus. John 20:31 says that through belief in Jesus, you may have life in His name.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Validity of the Resurrection: Proclaimed

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

There is simply no way to overemphasize the importance of the resurrection to the Christian faith, for the resurrection of Jesus is the Christian faith. Christianity stands or falls on the validity, the historical reality of the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus is either the greatest event in the history of mankind, or it is the cruelest hoax that has ever been perpetrated. Which is it, truth or fantasy?


The Empty Tomb Proclaims It

Let's look to Jerusalem and review the Garden Tomb site that many believe may well have been the tomb of Jesus. The tomb is ancient history's greatest fact — the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

In the lovely garden outside Jerusalem's City walls, the very heart of the Christian message is proclaimed. Jerusalem is home to the three great monotheistic faiths and is the City where the Creator of the Universe executed His plan to redeem fallen man.

The Holy Sepulcher is traditionally the chief site of Christian pilgrimage, but many, after visiting, wander away without being made aware that Christ came into the world to save sinners. Scripture says Christ suffered outside the gate and that history's greatest sacrificial death took place at Golgotha, the place of the skull. There, as the people passed by, Jesus bore the wrath of God to take away the punishment that must be paid for our sin.

The Gospels record that a rich religious leader — Joseph of Arimathea — took the Lord's body down from the cross, laying it in his own tomb, and that this tomb was in a garden nearby. The Bible says that, "In the place where Christ was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, where no one was ever laid before."

In this acre of land, we find two pre-Christian artifacts that attest to a working garden from the first Century. Jerusalem's third largest water system cut out of solid rock, and a very large winepress, evidence of wealth. And just yards away, a tomb that matches the Bible's description in every way, hewn from the rock with a great stone to seal the doorway. Inside is a large weeping chamber, and the place where a body was laid is visible from outside, just as the Bible describes.

We cannot be absolute and say that this is the tomb where Jesus was laid. Joseph never left his mark on it, but others did. Christians have been present here perhaps from the very dawn of the faith. But, it's more about who is not here. The raising of Jesus from the dead is the greatest miracle in all history, for it is His resurrection from the dead, as Romans 1:4 declares, that is the proof that Jesus was who He said He was, the Son of God. That's the core of our proclamation — Jesus is alive! No resurrection; no Christianity.

I love the Garden Tomb. I love to go there on tours and just meditate on the Lord. It is a place of serenity that is enriching to the soul.

In considering the evidence of the resurrection, we must always start with the fact of the empty tomb.

The Gospels tell us that Jesus was buried in the tomb of a wealthy man, Joseph of Arimathea. Three days later that tomb was empty. It was empty despite the fact that it had been sealed by a huge stone weighing close to two tons, and despite the fact that it had been guarded continuously by a special contingent of Roman soldiers.


Jesus' Detractors Failed to Hide It

When the soldiers reported their startling discovery of an empty tomb to the Chief Priest of the Jews, they were given a bribe to tell the people that quote, "His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep."

Now I want you to note something very important about the response of the Jewish leaders. The significant thing about their reaction is that they did not challenge the fact that the tomb was empty. That's because the tomb was empty. They simply couldn't argue with that reality, and so they made up a story to explain why the tomb was empty.

And men have been concocting stories ever since that time. Let's consider some of those explanations, and as we do so, I think you will begin to sense that the shallowness of their arguments speaks louder in many respects than the counter arguments of Christians.

1) "Confusion Theory" — One of the arguments against the resurrection is based on the idea that everybody got confused, and in the midst of all this confusion, the Disciples simply went to the wrong tomb. Yeah, some supposedly learned men have proposed this theory over the years. Yet the Gospel accounts tell us that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus both accompanied Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to the tomb and watched them prepare the body for burial. Are we to suppose that when the women returned they couldn't find their way?

And even if they did get lost and looked in the wrong tomb, did Peter and John do the same thing? Did the Roman soldiers forget which tomb they were guarding? Did Joseph of Arimathea suddenly have a memory lapse as to where his tomb was located? And why didn't the Jewish leaders simply go to the right tomb and produce the body? The answer is simple folks, the tomb was empty.

2) "The Disciples Stole the Body Theory" — The oldest explanation of the empty tomb is one that the Jews made up and bribed the soldiers to tell. Namely, that the body of Jesus was stolen by His disciples. Yes this explanation would have us to believe that Peter, Andrew, James and John were body snatchers.

Now, I want you to stop and think about this argument for a moment. To believe this theory of body snatching, we would have to believe that a small ragtag band of followers who were scared witless at the arrest of Jesus, and who fled into the night to save their own skins, suddenly found the courage three days later to take on a guard of Roman soldiers.

And even more significant, what would have been the motivation of the disciples to steal the body? We are told over and over again in the Scriptures that they did not understand that Jesus was to be resurrected. Their behavior after the crucifixion testified to this as they sat around in despair mourning the loss of their leader.

And yet, this very group suddenly came alive with hope and went forth boldly, proclaiming the resurrection at the risk of their lives. Now are we really to believe that a group of frightened disciples could be transformed into a courageous band of fearless proclaimers by snatching the body, hiding it, and then committing their lives to a lie? That's more difficult to believe than the resurrection itself!

3) "Hallucinations Theory" — Well, that brings us to a third theory, one that has become very popular in recent times, and that's the theory that the disciples experienced a series of hallucinations. As one advocate of this novel concept has put it, "they experienced a disruption of the physiochemical structures of the brain in such a way as to be able to see what they desperately wanted to see."

Now, I will grant that Mary Magdalene might have had a hallucination. After all, she was a frightened and frustrated young woman wandering around in a cemetery at daybreak. And as a matter of fact, the reaction of the disciples to the news of the empty tomb and her encounter with angels who had informed her of the resurrection indicates that they thought she might have been, you know, seeing things. But what about the appearance of Jesus to all the apostles on three different occasions? Or, His appearance to five hundred believers on a Galilean mountain? Or His ascension into Heaven before a host of disciples?

Hallucination is a highly subjective experience and a very personal one. Like beauty, it's in the eye of the beholder. To believe that five hundred people could have the same hallucination simultaneously takes more faith than a belief in the resurrection. And furthermore, the hallucination theory does not explain the empty tomb.

4) "Mass Hypnosis Theory" — Another modern theory is that the disciples experienced mass hypnosis. The advocates of this idea argue that the disciples so desperately wanted Jesus to rise from the dead that they created an aura of auto suggestion, or mental hypnosis, and thus whenever the name of Jesus was mentioned His disciples believed that they could see Him.

Mass hypnosis is a probability with even as many as five hundred people, given precisely the right type of controlled environment and the proper mass medium like radio or television or film, but mass hypnosis without some form of mass media, and without a professional hypnotist, and without ideal conditions is utterly outside the realm of sound reasoning. And so I ask you, how could five hundred people in the open air of a countryside, before the invention of mass media, and before the discovery of hypnosis, be subject to mass hypnosis? And how does this explain the fact of the empty tomb? I think it's obvious that the skeptics are grasping for straws.

5) "Swoon Theory" — This leaves us with centuries old theory that has been recently popularized by an apostate Christian named Hugh Schonfield, it's called the "Swoon Theory." This is the idea that Jesus really didn't die on the Cross. Instead, He just passed out, and then woke up three days later. Schonfield has revived this idea in his book called, The Passover Plot.

Now think about that for a moment. Mr. Schonfield would ask us to believe that after Jesus was scourged, and crucified, and after He had laid in a cold, damp tomb for three days without food or water. He suddenly revived, removed His burial wrapping, rolled back the stone and ran around the countryside for forty days without the benefit of even a dose of penicillin or a tetanus shot. Only a fool could believe such utter nonsense.

6) "Nostalgia Theory" — There is one other theory that's become very popular among modern day liberal theologians. It's what I call the "Nostalgia Theory." It's the idea that the resurrection occurred only in the hearts of the disciples.

Several years ago I ran across a startling example of this concept in the Dallas Morning News. The newspaper reported that this crazy idea had been proposed to the students of a local Dallas University by a person bearing the title of Professor of New Testament Theology. He stated in his incredible Easter sermon to the students that Jesus had not really risen from the dead in any literal way. What happened instead, he explained, is that Jesus simply came alive in the hearts of His disciples as they sat around and discussed His life and teachings. Just as had been the case with the followers of Martin Luther King after his assassination.

Such a ridiculous concept is a natural outgrowth of liberal apostasy because it leaves them with the kind of Jesus that they really want, one who is only human. Their messiah turns out to be a man who meant well, but who in reality was a deluded fool who thought He was God in the flesh. And this nostalgia theory, like all the other theories, fails to explain the well documented post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, and it fails completely to explain the fact of the empty tomb.

The tomb of Jesus was empty. It was empty, not because it was the wrong tomb, nor was it empty because the body had been stolen. The fact of the empty tomb was not based on hallucinations or hypnosis. It certainly was not based on daydreaming or wishful thinking. The tomb was empty. That is a historical fact.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Validity of the Resurrection: Preached

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

There is simply no way to overemphasize the importance of the resurrection to the Christian faith, for the resurrection of Jesus is the Christian faith. Christianity stands or falls on the validity, the historical reality of the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus is either the greatest event in the history of mankind, or it is the cruelest hoax that has ever been perpetrated. Which is it, truth or fantasy?

I have a friend in Lexington, Kentucky who refers to cemeteries as resurrection ground. I like that terminology because the Bible teaches that a day is coming when these graves will open and those who have died with their faith placed in Jesus as Lord and Savior will come back to life and receive glorified, immortal bodies. What a glorious day that will be.

The Bible also says that the Christian hope of resurrection is based upon the resurrection of Jesus. The apostle Paul put it this way in I Corinthians 15, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless." Peter makes a similar statement in I Peter 1 where he states that the Christian hope is based upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Based on these statements from Scripture, I don't think it is any exaggeration to say that the resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Christianity stands or it falls on the assertion that Jesus rose from the dead. So, I think it's only proper to ask, is there any evidence of the resurrection of Jesus, or must it be accepted by blind faith? And if there is evidence, what is it?


The Apostles Preached It

I'd like to begin our consideration of this epic event by taking a look at the preaching of the apostles. Because the resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian faith, it was the central theme of the apostle's preaching. We are told for example in Acts 4 that with great power the Apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

On the day of Pentecost, when the Apostle Peter preached the first Gospel sermon, the focal point of the message was the resurrection. He boldly proclaimed, "This man Jesus of Nazareth, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death, and God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power."

And likewise, the Apostle Paul made it crystal clear that the heart of his Gospel message was the resurrection. He defined the Gospel in I Corinthians 15 in the following terms, and I quote, "That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."

If you will turn to the book of Acts and read the sermons recorded there, you will find that the climax of each one is the assertion that Jesus has risen from the dead. It was this breathtaking, miraculous fact that energized and motivated the Apostles to preach the Gospel fearlessly.

There was no doubt about that whatsoever. Again, the Apostles focused on this event because they present the fact of the resurrection as the event that sets Christianity apart from all other world religions.

The resurrection is the unique stamp of Christianity, for only Christianity claims an empty tomb for its founder. No resurrection has ever been claimed for Abraham, Buddha, Confucius, or Mohammed.

Again, as Paul puts it in Romans 1, "Jesus was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead." In other words, it is the resurrection that validates Jesus as God in the flesh.

There's just no way to get around the fact that the resurrection of Jesus is either one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless, hoaxes ever foisted on the minds of men, or it is the most fantastic truth of history. It has to be one or the other, truth or fantasy. And I believe it is truth.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Israel To Fall Within 20 Years

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

"Israel will fall within 20 years!"

Well, that's what the Iranian PressTV website is claiming a secret Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report predicts. If I truly believed an Iranian news site provided credible reporting on secret CIA documents, I'd best be getting my news from Al Jazeera from now on! But still, the article titled "CIA report: Israel will fall in 20 years" (Mar. 13, 2009) makes some pretty interesting prophecies:

  • the American public will not take Israeli conduct toward the Palestinians and the Gaza strip in particular

  • an inexorable movement away from a two-state to a one-state solution (i.e. no Israel)

  • all Palestinian refugees will return to the occupied territories

  • two million Israelis will exodus out of the land and move to the US within the next fifteen years

  • the return of over one and a half million Israelis to Russia and other parts of Europe

  • a decline in Israeli births whereas a rise in the Palestinian population

  • an end to the dream of an "Israeli land"

Is Israel ceasing to exist within the next 20 years so far-fetched a scenario? If the claim came from just the PressTV source alone, then yes, it certainly would be unbelievable. And yet, there are rumblings among Jews who believe this very thing may happen.

In a January 7, 2009, Townhall.com article titled "Why Israel Will Lose — Again," Jewish columnist Ben Shapiro expressed his angst over the loss of the Jewish momentum to defend their right to live in their own land. Shapiro states three reasons why Israel's future as a nation is bleak:

  1. "Israel is filled with tired Israelis. After 60 years of unceasing war, Israel's population is exhausted. They don't have the willpower to withstand the constant battering of the Europeans and the leftist Americans and the Russians and the Chinese. They want peace, and they want it now. They don't want to see their children drafted and killed in Gaza or in Jenin. The Israelis are tired. And because they are tired, they have become foolishly optimistic. Things can't get much worse, the Israelis think to themselves. Things have to get better. Maybe this time — this time — if we just give until it hurts, they'll stop hating us. And so they give until it hurts. Until it agonizes. Until it kills. And they won't stop giving until they have nothing left to give."

  2. "Israel's governmental system promotes centrism. Even if most Israelis found the intestinal fortitude to push for destruction of their enemies, the governmental system would prevent it. Israel, unlike the United States, has a parliamentary government. This means that every elected prime minister must forge a coalition with those across the aisle in order to maintain power. Every Israeli government is a conglomeration of rightists, leftists, and centrists. The moment an administration veers too far from the center, the government falls, and new elections are called."

  3. "Israel has never decided on a founding philosophy. Israel was originally established as a homeland for the Jewish people — but such ethnic and cultural sentiments are considered passe by Israeli policymakers. The post-Zionist movement, which accepts Arab nationalism but rejects Jewish nationalism, dominates Israeli intellectual life. And it forces Israel to apologize for its own existence."

Even interviews with leading Christian ministries serving in Israel (1, 2) show Christian leaders do not believe Israel can stand up alone another 20 years.

The average layman as well doesn't have to be a betting man to assess Israel's current predicament and declare them too risky a bet. Israel is a tiny nation the size of New Jersey surrounded by 250 million hostile Muslims who desperately want the Jews off their land and exterminated. These Muslim nations are armed to the teeth and well funded by oil revenue, and now threatening nuclear warfare. Every other world authority like the United Nations, the Muslim League, the Vatican and now even an increasing number of Christian denominations question Israel's right to exist as a nation. The European Union and the United States exert never-ceasing pressure for Israel to divide itself into a "two-state solution," a solution which would leave Israel totally indefensible. After 60 years, the Jews are tired of fighting. The liberal mind set of the Jewish nation is one of appeasement and supplication. And the leaders of Israel, they form a brittle government that's plagued by corruption and a loss of a vision for a "greater Israel."

No nation can survive that has lost its will to live. In this condition, Israel would be very fortunate to survive another 10 more years.

That Israel can't possibly survive by its own might within two decades is a remarkable modern day sign of the end times. God loves to show His strength when people are at their weakest and the situation seems the most hopeless (2 Cor. 12:9). If Israel cannot survive for much longer, then we know for sure that God will not delay His return for too much longer. God's made too many numerous promises in the Bible to restore and revitalize the nation of Israel well through the upcoming Tribulation and Millennial Kingdom (Deut. 30:1-9; Isa. 2:1-4; 60:1-62:7; Mic. 4:1-7; Zech. 8:22-23), and God always keeps His promises.

Keep your eye on Israel. Their apparent lack of future means Jesus Christ's soon return!