Monday, May 31, 2010

Revelation Chapters 6-7

The most frequently requested Christ in Prophecy television show episodes on Revelation have been pulled out of the vault and re-released!

Over the six episodes, Dr. David Reagan and guests Don McGee of Crown and Sickle Ministries and Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries go chapter by chapter through the book of Revelation, explaining that the book of Revelation isn't difficult to understand, rather it is difficult to believe. But, if you will believe it for its plain sense meaning, you will understand it. For anyone who's been born again and has the Holy Spirit residing within them, Revelation can become very clear.

In Chapter 5 we were introduced to the Worthy Lamb, the only one worthy of taking the title deed to the Earth. We'll continue on in our journey through the great book of Revelation next by exploring the horrors of Chapters 6-7. Feel free to watch, listen, or read along by clicking one of the icons below.

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Revelation Revealed: Chapter 6

[Read Chapter 6 in the NASB version via Biblegateway.]

Dr. Reagan: Chapter 6 begins with the Lamb opening the first seal of the little scroll. This action launches the first series of judgments from God's throne — the Seal Judgments. And, from this point to Chapter 19, the book is dedicated to describing a seven-year period of time called the Tribulation. Throughout these 13 chapters, Jesus is the Wrathful One, pouring out the wrath of God on those who have rejected God's love, grace and mercy.

As Chapter 6 opens, the Tribulation period begins, and we get a foretaste of what it's going to be like — a period of absolutely unparalleled horror.

Four horsemen go forth. The one on the white horse is the Antichrist who appears as an imitator of Jesus who will return at the end of the Tribulation, also riding on a white horse. The Antichrist goes forth to conquer the world.

The other three horses represent war, famine, and death. One-fourth of the earth dies in this initial pouring out of the Seal Judgments. That's one and a half billion people in today's terms! Many of those who die are those who are converted to Jesus during this Tribulation period. They are martyred for Jesus Christ, and these spirits are portrayed as being in Heaven under an altar crying out to God, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will you refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"

With the opening of the Sixth Seal, we come across our first flash-forward to the end of the Tribulation. It's as if God is answering these martyrs by assuring them that He is going to pour out His wrath and that the evil people of this earth will ultimately be destroyed. And so, we get a flash-forward to the end of the Tribulation, and we begin to see how terrible that Day of the Lord will be when Jesus returns. The stars fall from the sky, the sky is split apart like a scroll, and the greatest earthquake in all of history occurs. The political leaders of the earth crawl into caves and cry out for the rocks and the mountains to fall upon them because the wrath of the Lamb of God is so terribly great.

Chapter 6 ends with a question: "Who is able to stand" before the wrath of the Lamb?


Revelation Revealed: Chapter 7

[Read Chapter 7 in the NASB version via Biblegateway.]

Dr. Reagan: Chapter 7 begins by answering that question. Before we get to the answer, let me note that Chapter 7 is the first of several parenthetical passages. These are passages that interrupt the action in order to insert a word of encouragement to the reader. Chapter 7 assures the reader that there are two groups — a group of Jews and a group of Gentiles — who will be able to endure the wrath of the Lamb.

The first is a group of 144,000 born again Jewish servants who are sealed of God. They are probably going to be converted at the very beginning of the Tribulation by the Lord's supernatural destruction of the Russian army upon the hills of Israel, an event that is described in Ezekiel 38 and 39.

It says in verse 3 that they will be "bond-servants" of God. I think that means they will go forth as messengers of God and will preach the entire period of the Tribulation as God's missionaries to the world.

You see, the purpose of the Tribulation is not primarily punishment. The purpose is to bring people to repentance. According to 2 Peter 3:9, "God does not wish that any should perish, but that all should be brought to repentance." There is going to be a great harvest of souls during the Tribulation.

Some people will undoubtedly come to the Lord in response to the Rapture. Others will repent and accept the Lord in response to the terror of the Tribulation judgments. Others will be brought to the Lord by the preaching of the 144,000. Others will respond to the message of the two special witnesses of God that we will read about in Chapter 11. And finally, in Chapter 14 we are told there's going to be an angel who will be sent out to preach the Gospel at the end of the Tribulation to every creature on the face of the earth. Most men will reject the Gospel, but many will be saved, and most of those will be martyred.

The second group we see in Chapter 7, beginning with verse 9, is a great host of people from every nation, all tribes, all peoples, all tongues standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes. John asks who they are, and he is told in verse 14, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." I believe these are the ones who are converted by the preaching of the 144,000. They are murdered by the Antichrist and by his agents.


In the next part on this series on Revelation, we'll call our teachers back together again to discuss Chapters 4-7.


Resource

Revelation RevealedRevelation Revealed DVD
Understand the book of Revelation!
Revelation Revealed is a 75-minute survey of the entire book of Revelation and is full of charts, maps, pictures, historical footage and video animations.

Order your copy today!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Revelation Chapter 5

The most frequently requested Christ in Prophecy television show episodes on Revelation have been pulled out of the vault and re-released!

Over the six episodes, Dr. David Reagan and guests Don McGee of Crown and Sickle Ministries and Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries go chapter by chapter through the book of Revelation, explaining that the book of Revelation isn't difficult to understand, rather it is difficult to believe. But, if you will believe it for its plain sense meaning, you will understand it. For anyone who's been born again and has the Holy Spirit residing within them, Revelation can become very clear.

In Chapter 4 we saw that God is on His throne and is in control, a great comfort for the Church under persecution. We'll continue on in our journey through the great book of Revelation next by being introduced to the Worthy Lamb of Chapter 5. Feel free to watch, listen, or read along by clicking one of the icons below.

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Revelation Revealed: Chapter 5

[Read Chapter 5 in the NASB version via Biblegateway.]

Dr. Reagan: As chapter 5 opens, the focus shifts back to Jesus. He appears as the Worthy Lamb.

In the midst of the glorious scene of worship which John describes in Chapter 4, he suddenly notices a little scroll in the right hand of God, a scroll that is sealed with seven seals. A mighty angel asks, "Who is worthy to open it?" John is very concerned about that scroll because he knows what it is. It is the title deed of the Earth. That title deed is important because this Earth was created for man. God gave man dominion over it, but mankind lost that dominion to Satan when Adam and Eve sinned against God.

One of the reasons Jesus died on the cross was to restore the Earth to the children of God. That's what He meant in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, "The meek shall inherit the earth." He was quoting a promise made in the Old Testament in Psalm 37. Jesus paid the price on the cross to redeem this promise. It will be fulfilled when He returns.

So, John is concerned about the Earth's title deed, especially because no one in Heaven seems worthy to open the scroll. But, he is suddenly told that his concern is unfounded because there is one who is worthy. He is the "Lion of the tribe of Judah."

John turns to look at the lion, and what does he see? A little bloody lamb! Of course, what he sees is Jesus Christ who is both the Lamb and the Lion. He came the first time as the lamb to be sacrificed for the sins of the world. He is going to return as the Lion of Judah to pour out the wrath of God upon those who have rejected the grace, mercy and love of God.

When Jesus steps up to the throne and He takes that scroll, all of Heaven breaks forth in a mighty song: "Worthy are you to take the book, and to break its seals; for you were slain, and purchased for God with your blood, men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the Earth."

Notice the promise that the redeemed, "will reign upon the Earth." Those who deny a future reign of Jesus try to argue that He is reigning now through his saints, the Church. But, if that is true, then He is doing a very poor job because all the nations of the world are in revolt against Him and the Church is caught up in apostasy. Furthermore, the Word says that when Jesus reigns, "The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." And no such condition exists today. The Heavenly host is clearly singing about a time yet future when the Redeemed will reign with Jesus upon the Earth.

Again, this is the reiteration of an Old Testament promise found in Daniel 7. In that chapter, Daniel tells us that he saw a night vision in which the Son of Man was presented to God the Father and was given dominion over "all the peoples, nations, and men of every language." He then adds that "The saints of the highest one will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever."

In the next part on this series on Revelation, we'll witness the terror of the first six Seal Judgments in Chapter 6 and be introduced to the 144,000 witnesses in Chapter 7.


Resource

Revelation Revealed
Revelation Revealed DVD
Understand the book of Revelation!
Revelation Revealed is a 75-minute survey of the entire book of Revelation and is full of charts, maps, pictures, historical footage and video animations.

Order your copy today!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Revelation Chapter 4

The most frequently requested Christ in Prophecy television show episodes on Revelation have been pulled out of the vault and re-released!

Over the six episodes, Dr. David Reagan and guests Don McGee of Crown and Sickle Ministries and Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries go chapter by chapter through the book of Revelation, explaining that the book of Revelation isn't difficult to understand, rather it is difficult to believe. But, if you will believe it for its plain sense meaning, you will understand it. For anyone who's been born again and has the Holy Spirit residing within them, Revelation can become very clear.

In the first three chapters of Revelation we saw that the basic purpose was to encourage the Church, then and now, to persevere and remain faithful to God's Word while waiting expectantly for the Lord's return. We'll continue on in our journey through the great book of Revelation next by going to God's throneroom in Chapter 4. Feel free to watch, listen, or read along by clicking one of the icons below.

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Revelation Revealed: Chapter 4

[Read Chapter 4 in the NASB version via Biblegateway.]

Dr. Reagan: With Chapter 4 the focus shifts from the Church to God the Almighty One.

A door opens in the heavens and John is suddenly transported "in the spirit" from Earth to Heaven where he is ushered into the throneroom of God. I believe John's catching up to Heaven is a symbolic type of the Rapture of the Church. Notice verse 1, "After these things, I looked and behold, a door standing open in the Heavens, and the first voice which I heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, 'Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.'" A door opens in the Heavens, and John is taken up to Heaven from Earth. The door opens again in Revelation 19:11 and through it comes Jesus on a white horse returning to Earth, and behind Him comes His Bride the Church. The clear implication is that the Church will be in Heaven with Jesus during the Tribulation.

In this regard, I think it is significant that the Church, which is the focus of chapters 2 and 3, is not mentioned again by name in the book until Revelation 22:16. There is mention of "saints," but I believe these are the people who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior during the Tribulation.

The blessing John was given of seeing the throneroom of God is a very special one that few other people have enjoyed. In fact, only five other persons are reported in the scriptures as having seen God's throne. They are the oral prophet Micaiah, the major prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, and of course, the Apostle Paul. What John saw was similar to the reports given by these other men.

John sees blazing light emanating from the throne. There is a rainbow encircling the throne, testifying to the faithfulness of God in keeping His promises. He sees seven lamps of fire before the throne, which he says represent the seven-fold nature of the Holy Spirit.

He also sees 24 mysterious elders kneeling before the throne, clothed in white garments. They have golden crowns which they are presenting to the Lord. They could very well be representatives of the Redeemed — 12 representing the Old Testament saints, perhaps the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 representing New Testament saints, perhaps the 12 Apostles.

John also sees "four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind." Each has a different face: one is a like a lion, another like a calf, the third like a man, the fourth like an eagle. These are probably the seraphim which Isaiah saw in his vision of the heavenly throneroom. These appear to be representatives of God's creation, and their role appears to be guardians of the throne and they appear to be worship leaders.

Everyone John sees around God's throne appears to be caught up in worshiping the Father. They are singing praises to God.

Consider the song recorded in verse 8: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the almighty, who was and is and who is to come." Notice the three attributes of God that are emphasized in this song: His holiness, His power, and His eternal nature.

The purpose of the song provides encouragement to the Church during any time it is caught up in suffering and persecution. It is intended to remind the Church that God is on His throne, still hears prayers, still answers prayers, and that He still performs miracles. In short, God is in control, and He has the wisdom and the power to orchestrate all the evil of man and Satan to the triumph of Jesus Christ. What a comforting thought!


In the next part on this series on Revelation, we'll join in proclaiming "Worthy is the Lamb!" in Chapter 5.


Resource

Revelation Revealed
Revelation Revealed DVD
Understand the book of Revelation!
Revelation Revealed is a 75-minute survey of the entire book of Revelation and is full of charts, maps, pictures, historical footage and video animations.

Order your copy today!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Revelation Chapters 1-3 Discussion

The most frequently requested Christ in Prophecy television show episodes on Revelation have been pulled out of the vault and re-released!

Over the six episodes, Dr. David Reagan and guests Don McGee of Crown and Sickle Ministries and Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries go chapter by chapter through the book of Revelation, explaining that the book of Revelation isn't difficult to understand, rather it is difficult to believe. But, if you will believe it for its plain sense meaning, you will understand it. For anyone who's been born again and has the Holy Spirit residing within them, Revelation can become very clear.

We'll continue on in our journey through the great book of Revelation by getting our teachers together to discuss Chapters 1-3. Feel free to watch, listen, or read along by clicking one of the icons below.

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Revelation: Discussion of Chapters 1-3

[Read Chapters 1-3 in the NASB version via Biblegateway.]


McGee & Pollock

Jesus As High Priest

Dr. Reagan: Let's get into a discussion now of these first three chapters of Revelation. The first thing I'd like to emphasis is the fact that in the first chapter Jesus appears dressed as a high priest. Do you see any prophetic significance in that whatsoever?

Dennis Pollock: I think that is reveals Jesus' present day ministry. He is serving as High Priest. A lot of people talk about Him being King of Kings and Lord of Lords, well, ultimately He is that, but right now His present day ministry is as High Priest.

Look at the book of Leviticus for example. Look at what it said about the priests and how it talks about them making atonement for sin. It would also talk about individual sins. One would come to the priest who'd make atonement for the sin. They'd be forgiven. The high priest would also make atonement for the whole nation of Israel on the Day of Atonement.

Jesus as High Priest, He deals with sin right now, but the wonderful thing is He does more than just make an atonement. Atonement means covering. Their sins were covered in those days, but Jesus has made a cleansing. So, He is serving right now, functioning as High Priest. He's going to come back and He's going to come back as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Dr. Reagan: So, He came the first time as Savior?

Dennis Pollock: Right.

Dr. Reagan: He is now serving as Priest, and He will return as King?

Dennis Pollock: Absolutely!

Dr. Reagan: Now, don't you think this is a pretty hard knock for those who have the Amillennial viewpoint? As you know, the majority viewpoint in Christendom today is the Amillennial view, which is the view that Jesus is reigning as King of Kings and Lord of Lords right now. Well, doesn't this pretty well knock that in the head when He appears as High Priest?

Don McGee: I think it very clearly indicates that Jesus is not working as a King today. If Jesus were a King today we would not have an advocate with the Father. The French people in south Louisiana refer to this as "Jesus being our advocate," which in their terms means "attorney." And what Jesus does is He sits at the right hand of the Father and He intercedes on our behalf, which is what an attorney does in a court all the time. Jesus is there interceding on our behalf as an advocate, as a high priest if you will, and not as a king.

Dennis Pollock: Right. He's king of our hearts, but He's not a political king. He's not the king of the world at this point.

Dr. Reagan: I often say to those who try to argue with me that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords right now, that if He is He's doing a very poor job of reigning over this world because all the nations of the world are in rebellion against Him.

Don McGee: I don't need a king right now, what I need is someone to stand in my stead before the Father, that is what I need.


13 Glorious Promises — Saved From the Second Death

Dr. Reagan: I mentioned 13 glorious promises that are made to overcomers in Chapters 2 and 3. It's amazing how many promises are made there. And, for example, in Revelation 2:7 it says, "He who has an ear let him hear what the spirit says to the churches, to him who overcomes I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God." That's pretty obvious a promise of eternal life in that we will have access to the Tree of Life. But, there are 12 other promises there and what about those promises? Which ones jump out at you? Which ones would you like to comment on?

Don McGee: The 11th verse of chapter 2 is interesting to me because it speaks about he who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death. This is something that can be kind of confusing if you don't look at everything the Bible says about this. In the Ephesians letter in chapter 2 it says that, "And you when you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world." On and on and on, this indicates that we were born with a propensity or an inclination toward sin. And, when we got to that point in our lives where we understood that we were sinners before God we were dead. It's a spiritual dead. The word "death" there means "a separation from God." So, we all died once. Every person that's ever been born dies once. The thing that we have as Christians is that if we die twice, if we die to ourselves and have Christ as our intermediator, then we don't have to face the second death, which is eternal separation from God mentioned in the book of Revelation.

Dr. Reagan: That's a wonderful promise, a wonderful promise! Is there another one there that jumped out at you, Don?


13 Glorious Promises — Reign With Jesus

Don McGee: The idea of God having us reigning with His son Jesus. When we reign over the nations, I can't wait for that. That is a wonderful promise! I think it's one that we don't think about very often because it has to do with the physical world. So many times we believe that this idea of salvation and heaven and all that kind of thing is so spiritual. It's almost like we're apparitions on a cloud kind of thing. But, this idea of reigning with Christ is something that is literal. It's real. It has to do with the earth. It has to do with time and space and activity and people and circumstances, and we are going to participate with Christ in that reign.

Dr. Reagan: What do you say to those who claim that we're reigning with Christ right now?

Don McGee: Well, I don't see that. I'm not having a whole lot of influence being an administrator for Jesus Christ today. I don't think anyone else is either.

Dr. Reagan: You know, this promise is so important, Don, and I think we ought to read it. It's in Revelation 2:26 where He says, "He who overcomes and keeps my deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations and he shall rule them with a rod of iron." Now, I don't know how you can spiritualize that into saying that we're doing that today. We're not ruling over the nations with a rod of iron.

Don McGee: We don't have authority over anybody right now.

Dr. Reagan: Well, we do have authority over some of the demons in the name of Jesus.

Don McGee: But, not over the nations.

Dr. Reagan: Well, that's right.

Don McGee: And, the word "nations" has something to do with people, not the demonic spirit world.


13 Glorious Promises — Confessed By Christ

Dr. Reagan: Yes, right. What about you Dennis, are there any promises that jump out at you?

Dennis Pollock: Well, pretty much they all do. I mean, it's an incredible section of Scripture and one that we would all do well to study.

One of the ones that I like is where he says, "I will confess His name before my father and before His angels." You see, right now the confession is on us. We are to confess right. A very important part of knowing Christ and being born again is confessing — believe in your heart and confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus. And, that's what we're to do. But, the day is coming when it's going be reversed and we're going stand before God and Jesus is going to confess us. He's going say, "That one is mine." I don't think there'll be any sweeter words we'll ever hear than to have Jesus acknowledge we belong to him. What a privilege.


13 Glorious Promises — A Pillar in God's Temple

Dennis Pollock: The other one that I think is so amazing, and is really one that when you first read it it's a little puzzling. Jesus says, "I'll make them a pillar in the temple of my God." They'll go out no more. Well, you think about a pillar. What does a pillar speak of? It speaks about stability. How many times have you seen pillars hoping around the streets? They don't go anywhere. They're stable. They're strong.

Some people wonder, "Well, what if we get to heaven and a thousand years later we blow it and then we end up losing it all?" No, you'll be a pillar in the temple of God. You aren't going anywhere! Pillars are important, vital part of the building. Paul talked about Peter and some of the other apostles being pillars in the church and we will be pillars in God's family, in God's household for eternity as overcomers — an incredible declaration of the importance of the saints in the eternal realm.

Dr. Reagan: What a wonderful promise!

Don McGee: That's interesting. You know, Jesus is the cornerstone.

Dr. Reagan: There you go.

Don McGee: I like that, I like that. I never thought of that before.

13 Glorious Promises — A New Name

Dr. Reagan: One that I like is in Revelation 2:17 where it gives two promises. "I will give to the overcomer a white stone and on that stone will be a new name." The white stone comes from the fact that in that day and age when people were tried before a court and the jury went out and made the decision, the jury foreman would come back and the person would walk over and hold their hand out. If they dropped a black stone, it was guilty. If they put a white stone in their hand, they were innocent.

We're going be given a white stone. That means that all of our sins will have been forgiven and forgotten as far as God is concerned. They are put as far away as east is from west and the deepest part of the ocean, and we will be innocent before him.

Also on that stone is going be a new name. God loves to give new names. Throughout history he's given people new names. He gave Abram a new name and Sarah a new name and Jacob a new name. He gave Paul a new name. He gave Peter a new name. He loves new names. And, I think we're going have new names for eternity.

It's going be interesting to look at that stone and see what your new name is. I have a suspicion it's going be related to our walk right here and now. Wouldn't it be great to look and see and it says your new name for eternity is Perseverance or Faith. Wouldn't it be terrible to look at your new name for all of eternity and it says Wishy-Washy.


13 Glorious Promises — Sitting on Christ's Throne

Dr. Reagan: Another of these promises that jumps out at me is in chapter 3 verse 21 where it says, "I will grant to the overcomer the privilege of sitting down with me on my throne as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne." Jesus is going to let us sit with Him on His throne!

Now, the day's going come when you're going sit at the right hand of Jesus on His throne. I'll have my day, Dennis will have his day. That's just almost beyond my comprehension. And, the interesting thing is He says, "I'm going do that just as my Father has allowed me to sit with him on his throne."

This gets back to a very important theological point. The point is that those who have an Amillennial viewpoint, those who believe that there's not going be any future Millennial Kingdom and who believe we are in the millennial now, believe it or not, they argue that Jesus is reigning as King of Kings and Lord of Lords on His throne right now, but the Bible teaches He is sitting next to His Father on His throne. And, Jesus says one day I will sit down on my throne, which indicates He's not on that throne right now. What is His throne? His throne is the throne of David. Where is that throne? It has always been one place — Jerusalem. Jesus is coming back to reign.

Don McGee: That's what the angel said whenever he spoke to Mary. He said Jesus is going to have the throne of his father David.

Dr. Reagan: That's right. And it's always been in one place — in the city of Jerusalem. Jesus is coming back to Jerusalem. He is coming back to take the throne of David. And then, and only then, is He going to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords over all the earth.

Well, those are certainly thirteen glorious promises, and as I said before, they are all made to a group of people called "Overcomers." And again, according to 1 John 5:1-5, an overcomer is one who puts his faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.


Are you an overcomer?

Dennis Pollock: What about you? Are you an overcomer? Are you an heir of these wonderful promises? If not, I want to urge you to act now before it's eternally too late. Reach out to God in faith, confess that you're a sinner, and receive Jesus as your Lord and your Savior.

Don McGee: And, when you do that, be sure to seek out a Bible-believing church where you can witness your faith in public confession of Jesus and in water baptism.


In the next part on this series on Revelation, we'll get an awesome look at God's own majestic throneroom in Chapter 4.


Resource

Revelation RevealedRevelation Revealed DVD
Understand the book of Revelation! Revelation Revealed is a 75-minute survey of the entire book of Revelation and is full of charts, maps, pictures, historical footage and video animations.

Order your copy today!


The 7 Churches of RevelationThe 7 Churches of Revelation DVD
The first of five video sessions presents an overview of all seven letters which Jesus dictated to churches which were located in Asia Minor, known today as the modern nation of Turkey. The overview focuses on the thirteen promises that the letters make to "overcomers." The subsequent session features the Isle of Patmos, where Jesus appeared to the Apostle John, and the seven churches which Jesus wrote to. Each lesson included emphasizes how the letters apply to the Church today, as well as to individual Christians.

Order your copy today!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Revelation Chapters 2-3

The most frequently requested Christ in Prophecy television show episodes on Revelation have been pulled from the vault and re-released!

Over the six episodes, Dr. David Reagan and guests Don McGee of Crown and Sickle Ministries and Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries go chapter by chapter through the book of Revelation, explaining that the book of Revelation isn't difficult to understand, rather it is difficult to believe. But, if you will believe it for its plain sense meaning, you will understand it. For anyone who's been born again and has the Holy Spirit residing within them, Revelation can become very clear.

We'll continue on in our journey through the great book of Revelation in Chapters 2-3. Feel free to watch, listen, or read along by clicking one of the icons below.

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Revelation Revealed: Chapter 2

[Read Chapter 2 in the NASB version via Biblegateway.]

Dr. Reagan: As we move to chapters two and three, the focus shifts from Jesus the Glorified One to Jesus the Overcomer, who is encouraging His Church to persevere and overcome with Him.

Chapters two and three present us with seven letters written by Jesus to seven churches. These are very interesting letters because first of all they are letters to seven real churches located in the area we know today as Turkey. But these churches were selected for a reason, and that's because they are representative of all churches existing at that time and today.

I also believe these seven churches are also representative of seven periods of church history. All seven types of churches have always existed and exist today, but one type has dominated each period of Church history. Let's just look at the types of churches that are represented in the seven letters.

Ephesus — the Legalistic Church (30 A.D. to 95 A.D.)

The first church addressed is Ephesus, which was a legalistic church. It was a church that dotted the I's and crossed the T's, but it had lost its love. The church at Ephesus is representative of the apostolic period from 30 A.D. to 95 A.D. when the church was concerned about organization and doctrine to the point that it became legalistic.

Smyrna — the Persecuted Church (95 A.D. to about 312 A.D.)

In verse eight we are introduced to the church of Smyrna. The church at Smyrna represents the persecuted church, or the martyr church that existed from 95 A.D. to about 312. It's the church that existed at the time that the book of Revelation was written.

Pergamum — the Liberal Church (312 to 590 A.D.)

In verse 12 we have the church of Pergamum, which is the liberal church. It's the church that doesn't care anything about doctrine — it's the opposite of Ephesus, it embraces everyone. This apostate church existed from 312 A.D. 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.

Thyatira — the Pagan Church (590 to 1517 A.D.)

Then, in verse 18 we have the church of Thyatira, which is the pagan church, the church that is full of cultic practices. The church at Thyatira represents the dark pagan period from 590 A.D. to 1517 when the Papacy developed and the church became full of Babylonian occultic practices.


Revelation Revealed: Chapter 3

[Read Chapter 3 in the NASB version via Biblegateway.]

Sardis — the Dead Church (1517 to 1750 A.D.)

Dr. Reagan: Chapter three begins with the church of Sardis, which is representative of dead churches. It has a reputation of being alive, but in reality it is dead.

When we come to the reformation in 1517 we think of it as a time of life, but you know it was really 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.

Philadelphia — the Alive Church (1750 to 1925 A.D.)

The next church mentioned — the church of Philadelphia — is the church that we would all like to be a member of because it is the alive church, for which Jesus has no criticism whatsoever.

The opposite of Sardis is the church at Philadelphia. 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.

Laodicea — the Apathetic Church (1925 A.D. to Today)

And then, finally we have in verse 14, the church of Laodicea. In many respects it is the most pathetic of all the churches because it's the worldly and apathetic church, the church that is "neither hot, nor cold" because it could simply care less.

The church of today is represented by the church of Laodicea, a church that says to the world, "I am rich, I have become wealthy and have need of nothing." But Jesus says to that church, "You are wretched and miserable, and poor and blind and naked." It is a worldly, apathetic, apostate church that will not even let Jesus in the front door.

Message Summary

Now, as I said, these seven churches are representative of every kind of church that exists today. You will find your church in one of these seven, or in a combination of them.

I also think they are also representative of seven different kinds of Christians. So I want to ask you something. Are you a legalistic Christian, persecuted Christian, liberal, worldly, are you dead, are you alive, are you apathetic?

You know, the best summary of these letters I have ever encountered is the one penned by John Stott in his book, Basic Christianity. He sees the message of Jesus as threefold in nature. To a sinful church, He is saying, "I know of your sin — repent." To a doubtful church He is saying, "I know of your doubt — believe." To a fearful church He is saying, "I know of your fear — endure." Repent, believe and endure — that's a very relevant message for the church today.

One final thing about these letters, please note that each of these seven letters end with promises to overcomers. I would exhort you to go through and make a list of them. And you know what? You will find a total of 13 promises. Look for example at Revelation 2:26. It says, "He who overcomes and he who keeps my deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron." That's just one of the 13 promises. His promise is that the redeemed will rule over the nations of the Earth and that of course is speaking about the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. There are 12 other marvelous promises, and all of them are made to overcomers.

Are you an overcomer? Are you an heir of these 13 wonderful promises? An overcomer is defined in I John 5:5 as, "He who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Such a one," John says, "overcomes the world."


In the next part on this series on Revelation, we'll get our expert teachers together to discuss Chapters 1-3.


Resource

Revelation RevealedRevelation Revealed DVD
Understand the book of Revelation! Revelation Revealed is a 75-minute survey of the entire book of Revelation and is full of charts, maps, pictures, historical footage and video animations.

Order your copy today!


The 7 Churches of RevelationThe 7 Churches of Revelation DVD
The first of five video sessions presents an overview of all seven letters which Jesus dictated to churches which were located in Asia Minor, known today as the modern nation of Turkey. The overview focuses on the thirteen promises that the letters make to "overcomers." The subsequent session features the Isle of Patmos, where Jesus appeared to the Apostle John, and the seven churches which Jesus wrote to. Each lesson included emphasizes how the letters apply to the Church today, as well as to individual Christians.

Order your copy today!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Revelation Chapter 1

The most frequently requested Christ in Prophecy television show episodes that people have asked be added to our Programs archives has been the series on Revelation. Well, the wait is over! Our media team dug deep into the vault, dusting off the shelf labeled "2003" and have encoded what many consider the best of "Christ in Prophecy" teachings.

Over the six episodes, Dr. David Reagan and guests Don McGee of Crown and Sickle Ministries and Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries go chapter by chapter through the book of Revelation, explaining that the book of Revelation isn't difficult to understand, rather it is difficult to believe. But, if you will believe it for its plain sense meaning, you will understand it. For anyone who's been born again and has the Holy Spirit residing within them, Revelation can become very clear.

We'll reproduce this classic series here on The Christ in Prophecy Journal. We'll begin with chapters 1-3 of Revelation, starting of course with chapter one. These three chapters constitute a fascinating introduction to the book. Then, everytime after a few chapters have been covered, the teachers will discuss various points of interest from the proceeding chapters.

Feel free to watch, listen, or read along by clicking one of the icons below.

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Now, let's begin our journey through the great book of Revelation!


Revelation Revealed: Chapter 1

[Read Chapter 1 in the NASB version via Biblegateway.]

Dr. Reagan: When studying the book of Revelation, most people seem to get bogged down in the details. And, tragically, they often focus on the Antichrist rather than Jesus Christ. In the process, they miss the big picture and the fundamental message. So, let's go for the big picture and let's seek the central Biblical message. Let's engage in a sweeping overview of the book chapter by chapter.

The Title

As we begin with chapter one, let's consider the name of the book. It is not the "Book of Revelations" plural. There are many revelations in it, but that's not its name. If you have a copy of the Authorized King James Version, you will note that the title is stated as "The Revelation of John." Well, that title is also incorrect. The proper title is the one contained in modern translations, "The Revelation to John." It is not John's revelation, it is the revelation or unveiling of Jesus Christ that was given to John by God the Father through Jesus. John refers to it in chapter one verse nine as "The testimony of Jesus."

The Author

Now, who was this John? He does not clearly identify himself, but the testimony of all the early Church Fathers is that this was the Apostle John. All he says about himself is that he is a brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus.

The Dating

It is interesting that John says he was a prisoner on the Island of Patmos. His imprisonment there is one of the clues to the dating of the book around 95 A.D., because that was when the Roman Empire turned against the Church. This happened because the Empire declared Caesar to be God. And, every person in the Empire was required once a year to go before a Roman magistrate and declare, "Caesar is Lord." Well, no Christian could do that, and therefore Christians were considered enemies of the Empire. The result is that they became the target of terrible persecution.

The Setting

John tells us something very important in verse ten here, he states that he was "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day." Now, I don't think John is referring to Sunday here. I think he was referring to what the Hebrew prophets called "The Day of the Lord," which was a term for the end times. So, I believe John is telling us that "in the spirit" he was catapulted forward to the Day of the Lord — to the end times — and given a preview of what will happen when the Church Age comes to a close.

The Purpose

John was about 95 years old when this book was written. He was the only Apostle left alive. The thing that you need to keep in mind is that by the time this book was written, the persecution of Christians had become so terrible that it is evident from the Book of Revelation that many were wondering if the Church would really continue to exist. They were beginning to have second thoughts, wondering if Jesus really was who He said He was, wondering if Jesus really cared for them, wondering if He really meant it when He said, "Upon this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not overpower it."

The Church needed encouragement, and that's really one of the main purposes of the book. It is designed to give encouragement and comfort to those who are suffering terribly. For that reason, the book of Revelation has always been a book that has given tremendous comfort to anyone going through persecution or suffering, whether it be individual, family, or national in nature.

The Hero

The book begins therefore with a tremendous vision of Jesus Christ the Glorified One. He is victorious over death, and the heavenly glory which He surrendered when He came to earth has been restored. John sees Jesus resurrected and glorified. Keep in mind that this is 65 years after the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord. Jesus has returned to give the Church a second touch, a touch of encouragement. He has returned to say, "Yes, I care. Yes, I love you. I know what's going on. I'm walking among you."

John proceeds to describe Jesus in His glorified form. He sees Jesus dressed as a Priest because that's what Jesus is now. He is our High Priest before the throne of God, our Mediator before God. John sees Jesus with white hair, which indicates His purity and wisdom. His eyes, feet and voice are all presented as symbols of judgment because all judgment has been given to Him by the Father. He has stars in his right hand, which are the angels, or messengers of the churches, showing that He cares for those churches and their pastors. He's walking among seven golden candlesticks, which we're told in verse 20 represent churches. They represent all of the churches, and through this image the Lord is trying to give to John and the church the message that He is walking among them, that He cares about them, and that He loves them. He is not some distant and impersonal God who is aloof and uncaring.

John is so overcome by this glorious vision of His resurrected and glorified Lord that he falls at Jesus' feet as if dead. Jesus responds with one of the most comforting statements in all the Word of God: "Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last. I am the living one. I was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore and I have the keys of death and of Hades." Jesus is saying, "I am the beginning of history, the end of history, and the meaning of history. I am in control of history and I have power over life and death." Again, Jesus' appearance and words are intended to reassure a church that's under severe persecution. The hearts of first Century Christians, including John's, must have been greatly encouraged even as Christians today are encouraged by these words.


In the next part on this series on Revelation, we'll look at chapters 2-3 and Jesus' special messages to the churches.


Resource

Revelation RevealedRevelation Revealed DVD
Understand the book of Revelation! Revelation Revealed is a 75-minute survey of the entire book of Revelation and is full of charts, maps, pictures, historical footage and video animations.
Order your copy today!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Are There Many Roads to God? Part 7

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

Are there many roads to God? What is the bottom line?

From a biblical, Christian perspective, there is no way to escape the conclusion that Jesus is the only way to God, either through direct faith in Him, or by having the blood of Jesus applied to a person who has responded to God in faith through the testimony of instinct and nature.

To argue that there are other roads to God, as some apostate Christian leaders are doing today, is to deny that the sacrifice of Jesus was necessary for the forgiveness of sins. If there really are other roads to God, then Jesus came to earth to die a horrible death for no purpose. His sacrifice was all in vain. Either we are saved by the blood of Jesus, or we are not.


Road Signs


A Glorious Promise Concerning the Future

One thing we know for sure is that every person on earth who is alive at the end of the Tribulation will hear the Gospel before the Second Coming of Jesus. We know this because Jesus said it would happen (Matthew 24:14). That prophecy is being partially fulfilled today through the use of modern technology. Computers are being utilized to produce rapid translations of the Bible. Satellites are being used to transmit Gospel sermons worldwide.

But the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy will occur near the end of the Great Tribulation when God will send forth an angel who will circumnavigate the globe and proclaim the Gospel to every person left alive at that time (Revelation 14:6-7). What glorious grace!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Are There Many Roads to God? Part 6

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

What about professing Christians who have never been born again? Will they be going to Heaven?

What I have in mind are what I prefer to call "Cultural Christians." These are people who claim to be Christians because they profess to believe in Jesus, but they have no personal relationship with Him. Many of these are people who attend church regularly. Some are elders, deacons, teachers, and even pastors. Can they get to Heaven through church membership or by participating in Christian rites like baptism or communion?

The answer of the Bible is a clear "No!" Jesus Himself said that no man can see the kingdom of God unless he be "born again" (John 3:3). That means a person must put his faith in Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. It is not sufficient to simply believe that Jesus lived. The Bible says that even "the demons believe and shudder" (James 2:19). But they have rejected Jesus as their Lord.

Going to church or participating in Christian rituals is not another road to Heaven. Our churches are filled with unsaved people who are trusting in their works to get them to Heaven. But the Bible says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith... not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

In an interview I conducted recently with Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, he pointed out that two words sum up one of the fundamental differences between Christianity and all other religions in the world. Those words are "do" and "done." Regarding access to Heaven, all the false religions of the world say, "DO!" Christianity, in stark contrast, proclaims "DONE!"1 In other words, Christianity declares that Jesus did everything necessary for our salvation through His death on the cross. There is nothing we can add to that.

False expressions of Christianity require you to earn your salvation by doing works that they require. True Christianity says there is nothing you can do to earn your salvation because it is a free gift of God through faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. In this sense, true Christianity is really not a religion; rather, it is a relationship. Jesus made this clear at the last supper with His disciples when He prayed to God, saying, "...this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3).

In this regard I feel compelled to state, respectfully, that this is an area where Billy Graham seems to have strayed from the Gospel. I say this because he has made it very clear in his writings and his public statements that he believes the Catholic Church is a true expression of Christianity.2

This is unfortunate because his endorsement of Catholicism has made many Catholics feel comfortable and safe in their faith. And although I am sure there are some Catholics who have truly placed their faith in Jesus, the vast majority have not because the Catholic Church has always taught salvation by works — which makes the religion of Catholicism a false form of Christianity.3


In the final Part 7 of this series "Are there many roads to God?", we'll get to the bottom line in answering this much asked question.


Notes

1) Two video interviews with Dr. Jeffress have been published as a video album by Lamb & Lion Ministries. The album is titled, "Absolute Truth" and can be ordered from our Online Resource Center.

2) John Ashbrook, "Billy Graham's Catholic Connection". This is just one of many examinations on the Internet of Graham's endorsement of Catholicism. There are also video interviews of him endorsing the Catholic faith.

3) Graham takes this position because he says "Catholics believe in Jesus." But, again, do they simply believe he existed (as do Muslims), or do they believe in the sense of trusting Him, and Him alone, for their salvation? If their trust is truly in Jesus, then why are they instructed to pray to Mary? A great source for unbiblical Catholic beliefs is pro-gospel.org/x2.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Are There Many Roads to God? Part 5

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

What about those today who live and die without ever hearing the Gospel? Are they destined to Hell?

I personally believe the same principle applies to them that applied to people living in Old Testament times before the First Advent of Jesus. Their fate will depend upon whether or not they ever responded to God in faith.

The Bible says that all people have an instinctive knowledge that God exists (Romans 2:14-15). Further, the Bible says that we can realize the existence of God by observing the complexity and beauty of the creation (Psalm 19:1-6).

Because God is a just God (Psalm 89:14), I believe He will hold us responsible for what we knew. Those exposed to the Gospel and reject it will be lost. Those who have only the testimony of instinct and the creation who reject that testimony will also be lost. But those who hear the Gospel and put their faith in Jesus will be saved. And those who respond to the testimony of instinct and the creation by putting their faith in their Creator will also be saved. However, this latter group will be saved only by having the blood of Jesus applied to them as was the case with Old Testament saints.


A Controversial Statement

I believe this is what Billy Graham had in mind in May of 1997 when he made a very controversial statement during an interview of him that was being conducted by Robert Schuller.1 He said that he believed that God is "calling people out of the world for His name" — including the Muslim world, the Buddhist world, the Christian world and the non-believing world. He added, "They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don't have, and they turn to the only light they have, and I think that they are saved, and that they're going to be with us in Heaven."

Schuller responded by asking, "What I hear you saying is that it is possible for Jesus Christ to come into human hearts and soul and life, even if they've been born in darkness and have never had exposure to the Bible. Is that a correct interpretation of what you're saying?"

Graham's reply was, "Yes, it is...I've met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations, that they have never seen a Bible or heard about a Bible, and never heard of Jesus, but they've believed in their hearts that there was a God, and they've tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived."

These comments by Graham produced a flood of condemnation of him. People accused him of believing in many different roads to God. It is certainly easy to see how his comments could have been misconstrued, but I believe that is exactly what happened.


Dr. Billy Graham

Billy Graham has never taught that there are many roads to God. On his website (http://www.billygraham.org/) there are two very specific articles about salvation in which Graham affirms his often stated belief that Jesus is the only way to God.2 In his controversial statement, which was much too briefly phrased, I think he was only saying that people are going to be judged on the basis of what they knew about God and how they responded to that knowledge, just as was the case in Old Testament times.3

Some might respond by saying, "If those who live and die without ever hearing of Jesus might still be saved by their faith in God, whereas those who hear the Gospel and reject it will be lost, then perhaps we should stop proclaiming the Gospel!"

But this statement is based on the faulty assumption that the Gospel is just a fire insurance policy. The truth is that it is much more than that, for the person who receives Jesus as Lord and Savior is blessed with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, receiving supernatural power to live triumphantly in a world of heartache and suffering. The person is also enabled to know God personally in this life — an absolutely invaluable blessing.

Further, I believe that any person who would respond to God in faith based on instinct and the witness of the creation is one who would accept the Gospel if exposed to it.


In Part 6 of this series answering the question, "Are there many roads to God?", we'll address the conundrum of the Cultural Christian.


Notes

1) Television interview of Billy Graham by Robert Schuller, May 31, 1997, On Doctrine at www.ondoctrine.com/10grahab.htm.

2) See, for example, Billy Graham's article, "Why do Christians believe Jesus is the only way of salvation?". See also "The Only Way?"

3) Graham's consistency in clearly preaching that Jesus is the only way to Heaven is clearly demonstrated in a video clip that can be found on YouTube. The clip, which runs 7 minutes, shows excerpts from 7 sermons delivered between 1957 and the present in which he affirms over and over again that Jesus is the only way to God. As of March 5, 2010, the video was mislabeled, "Billy Graham denies Jesus..." It should be labeled, "Billy Graham affirms Jesus as the only way to God."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Are There Many Roads to God? Part 4

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

This brings us to a crucial question: Are there any exceptions to the rule that you must place your faith in Jesus in order to be saved?

The answer is yes. Most Christian theologians would agree that there are three groups of people who have been saved without placing their faith in Jesus.


Exception #1: Children

The first group is composed of those children who have died before the age of accountability. The Bible does not specifically state this truth. It is arrived at through deduction from biblical statements.

First, there is the example of King David's child that was born of Bathsheba. When the child died seven days after it was born, David proclaimed by inspiration of the Holy Spirit that although the child could not come back to him, one day he would go to be with the child (2 Samuel 12:23). The idea that those who die before the age of accountability will be saved is reinforced in the New Testament in the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:13-14 —

Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, 'Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'"

This principle of not holding children accountable for their sins before they know the difference between right and wrong is also reflected in a story in the book of Deuteronomy. When the Israelites balked at entering the Promised Land because they were afraid they would be defeated by the Canaanites, God punished them for not trusting Him by making them wander in the wilderness until the rebellious generation had died off (see Numbers 13 & 14).

The Lord proclaimed that only two people of the current generation would be allowed to enter the land — namely, Caleb and Joshua, the two spies out of twelve who brought back a positive report stating they believed the Lord would defeat their enemies (Deuteronomy 1:34-38). But then, another exception was made: "Moreover, your little ones...who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there [the Promised Land], and I will give it to them, and they shall possess it" (Deuteronomy 1:39).


Jesus With Children

Another argument in behalf of the salvation of children who die before the age of accountability is the justice of God. The Bible asserts over and over that our Creator is a God of justice (Zephaniah 3:5). He has an overwhelming passion for justice (Micah 6:8). And He promises repeatedly that justice will be one of the characteristics of His Son's millennial reign (Isaiah 42:1-4). How could a God of perfect justice condemn to Hell children who never knew the difference in right and wrong?

Those who die before the age of accountability will not be eligible to receive special rewards for faithfully serving the Lord, but it appears that they will be granted eternal life. However, this can happen only by having the blood of Jesus applied to them (Hebrews 9:22).


Exception #2: Mentally Handicapped

This same exception would apply to the mentally handicapped who reach adulthood. Since they are incapable of determining right from wrong and are also incapable of repenting and putting their faith in Jesus, it is only reasonable to conclude that a just God would not hold them accountable and would apply the blood of Jesus to their sins.

I have a step-grandson named Jason who falls into this category. At about the age of three a genetic defect was activated that caused his immune system to attack his brain. The effect was a frontal lobotomy that rendered him vegetative. I have since dedicated two books to him. He is a constant reminder to me of the fact that we live in a fallen world. I have no doubt that one day, either at death or at the Rapture, his mind will be set right, and I will be able to enjoy his fellowship eternally.


Exception #3: Old Testament Saints

The third group that has been saved apart from faith in Jesus are those people who lived and died before the birth and revelation of Jesus as God's Son, but who placed their faith in their Creator. Hebrews 11 tells us that people like Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham were justified by their faith in God. They had no Scriptures nor any knowledge of Jesus, yet because they related to their Creator in faith, they were saved. Specifically, Genesis 15:6 says that because Abraham believed the Lord, "it was reckoned to him as righteousness."

Still, each of these people, and many others like them, were dependent upon the sacrifice of Jesus for their salvation to be sealed. Their faith covered their sins, but the forgiveness of their sins depended upon the sacrifice of a perfect person who did not deserve to die. Only the blood of such a person could produce forgiveness of their sins.

That's why Old Testament saints did not go directly to Heaven when they died. They went, instead, to a place called Sheol (Hades in the New Testament), and their souls resided in a compartment called "Abraham's bosom" or "Paradise." They could not be ushered into the presence of a Holy God until their sins were forgiven.

After Jesus' death on the Cross, He descended into Hades and made a proclamation (1 Peter 3:19). We are not told specifically what He said, but most likely it was, "The blood has been shed!" I'm sure those words must have produced a chorus of "Hallelujahs!" We are also told that when Jesus ascended into Heaven, He took a "host of captives" with Him (Ephesians 4:8). In other words, He emptied Hades of those who were saved. Paradise was moved from Hades to Heaven, a reality that Paul later affirmed when he said that he was taken up to "the third heaven," which he identified as Paradise (2 Corinthians 12:1-4).


In Part 5 of this series answering the question, "Are there many roads to God?", we'll tackle the difficult predicament of those who live and die without ever having heard the Gospel.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Are There Many Roads to God? Part 3

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

Didn't Paul say in 1 Timothy 2:3 that God "desires all men to be saved"? Yes, he did say that, and Peter repeated it in 2 Peter 3:9 where he asserted that "God does not wish that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

There is no doubt that it is God's perfect will that all should be saved. But in His permissive will, God allows people to reject His Son and thus be lost. In other words, God does not force anyone to be saved. And because of the depraved nature of Mankind, the vast majority of those who have ever lived will be lost and consigned to Hell as their eternal destiny.

Jesus Himself emphasized this truth in His sermon delivered on the Hill of the Beatitudes in Galilee. Jesus stated point blank: "...The gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it...Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:13-14 & 21).


The Nature of Man

Again, the Bible emphasizes that the fundamental nature of Man is evil because we are born with a sin nature that puts us in rebellion against the holiness of God. As the prophet Jeremiah put it: "There is nothing more deceitful than the human heart" (Jeremiah 17:9). Likewise, King David wrote: "There is no one who does good...they have all turned aside...there is no one who does good, not even one" (Psalm 14:1-3). The Apostle Paul affirmed this truth in his letter to the Romans when he quoted David's statement in detail (Romans 3:10-18).

The biblical message is adamant that because of our natural depravity, we have no hope apart from faith in a Savior, and Jesus is that Savior. Isaiah summed it up this way in a prophecy about the promised Messiah: "All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him [the Messiah]" (Isaiah 53:6).

The message of the Scriptures is clear. There is only one road to God and that is through Jesus of Nazareth. There is no hope in the modern day false religions of Rabbinical Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or any of the multitude of natural religions like Animism. Here's how the great Southern Gospel quartet, The Imperials, expressed this concept in their unique song, "Old Buddha," composed by Mark Farrow —


Buddha
Well, old Buddha was a man
And I'm sure that he did well,
But I pray for his disciples
Lest they end up in hell,
And I'm sure that old Mohammed
Was sure he knew the way,
But it won't be Hari Krishna
We stand before on judgment day.

Chorus:
No, it won't be old Buddha
That's sitting on the throne,
And it won't be old Mohammed
That's calling me home,
And it won't be Hari Krishna
That plays that trumpet tune,
And we're going to see the Son,
Not Reverend Moon!

Well, I don't hate anybody,
So please don't take me wrong,
But there really is a message
In this simple song,
See, there's only one way — Jesus,
If eternal life's your goal,
And meditation of the mind,
It won't save your soul.


In Part 4 of this series answering the question, "Are there many roads to God?", we'll look to see if there are any exceptions to the rule that you must place your faith in Jesus alone in order to be saved.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Are There Many Roads to God? Part 2

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

The teachings of Jesus that He is the only way to salvation and therefore God are affirmed in the writings of the Apostles, as you can see from the following statements —

In the first Gospel sermon ever preached, Peter made a bold assertion: "Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him [Jesus] both Lord and Christ [Messiah] — this Jesus whom you crucified." Peter then commanded his audience to "repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins" (Acts 2:36-38).

Not long after this, Peter was arrested and hauled before the Sanhedrin Council — the very group of Jewish leaders who had condemned Jesus to death. In his statement to them, he said: "Let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead...there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:10-12).

The Apostle Paul affirmed Peter's point in a letter he wrote to Timothy: "God our Savior desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave Himself as a ransom for all..." (1 Timothy 2:3-6).

In like manner, the Apostle John confirmed that Jesus is the only hope of salvation when he wrote: "Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ [Messiah]? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also" (1 John 2:22-23). John repeated this principle when he added: "...God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life" (1 John 5:11-12).

Again, the conclusions that can be drawn from these statements are self-evident:

  1. Jesus was the Messiah — the Savior — promised by God.
  2. There is salvation in no other person except Jesus.
  3. Those who reject Jesus are guilty of rejecting the Father.

Confirmation of these conclusions can be found in a sermon delivered by John the Baptist in which he proclaimed: "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36). John's statement makes it clear that God must deal with sin for He is a just God (Psalm 37:28 and Isaiah 61:8). He deals with sin in one of two ways, either grace or wrath. Whether or not a person is under grace or wrath depends upon whether he or she has put their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Those who have done so, have the promise of eternal life. Those who refuse to do so will experience God's wrath.


In Part 3 of this series answering the question, "Are there many roads to God?", we'll look at God's desire pertaining to salvation in relation to the nature of man.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Are There Many Roads to God? Part 1

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

"What will happen to those who have never heard the Gospel?"

This is one of the most frequent questions I receive. People believe that God is just, and they cannot reconcile that belief with the idea that He might consign a person to Hell who never was given an opportunity to hear the Gospel.

Therefore, increasingly, many Christians are concluding that there must be many roads to God and that sincere Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and others will make it to Heaven.


Crucial Questions

What does the Bible have to say about this important issue? Are those who live and die without hearing the Gospel condemned to an eternity in Hell? And what about those who have put their faith in the god of some religion other than Christianity and who strive to live righteous lives? Are they also condemned to Hell? Is it possible that God has revealed Himself in different ways to different peoples, and therefore there are many different roads to God? Could the sign be true that I saw in a Sunday School class at a church that read: "Our God is too big to be confined to one religion"?


What Jesus Had to Say

Let's begin our search for an answer to these questions by taking a look at what Jesus had to say —

Speaking to the Apostle Thomas, Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." — John 14:6

After appointing His twelve Apostles, Jesus said to them: "Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven." — Matthew 10:32-33

Speaking to 70 disciples being sent forth to proclaim the kingdom of God, Jesus said: "The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me." — Luke 10:16

Early in His ministry, while in Jerusalem, Jesus delivered a sermon on His relationship with God the Father, and in it He said: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." — John 5:24

At His last supper with the Apostles, Jesus prayed: "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." — John 17:3

And then, of course, there is Jesus' most famous statement about the issue of salvation — the words He spoke to Nicodemus, a Jewish spiritual leader who was a member of the Sanhedrin Council: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." — John 3:16

What conclusion can we draw from these statements? I would propose the following:

  1. Jesus is the one and only way to God.
  2. Those who put their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior will be saved.
  3. Those who reject Jesus will be condemned, for those who reject Jesus are guilty of rejecting God.
  4. The essence of salvation is a personal relationship with Jesus.


In Part 2 of this series answering the question, "Are there many roads to God?", we'll look at how the Apostles answered the question.