Thursday, March 31, 2011

FHCO: Your Future in the Bible (Part 4)

Future Hope Conference Online
Your Future in the:
Bible - Tribulation - Rapture - Millennial Kingdom - Heaven - Q&A


Steve HowellSteve Howell
Adult Education Minister
Tonganoxie Christian Church


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Let's keep going putting the Bible to the test. Let's talk about the story. Is the story believable? This is another test of truth that we ourselves face everyday.


Everyday Tests of Past Truth

This got me thinking about my son Jacob. Jacob is seven years old and he is full of energy. He's got a lot of stuff going on there, like losing his teeth, which as you know is a typical kid thing to do at that age. He is now missing his two front teeth. He was excited when he lost his first tooth last year because he was going go put it under his pillow for the Tooth Fairy. He was very excited about that. And so, he puts the tooth under his pillow.

Now, I'm not a bad parent, really I'm not. But, every now and then I am forgetful. I went to bed that night and when I woke up the next morning as I lay there, it just hit me like a bolt of lighting — oh my goodness, the tooth is still under the pillow and I didn't put any money there! I'm sorry if I am spoiling it for you: Tooth Fairy = not real. Sorry. But, I realized I hadn't put any money under his pillow. I checked and he was still asleep, so I still had time. I grabbed some quarters and snuck into his room all ninja like. I slid the money underneath his pillow thinking everything was good. I just had to get that tooth. I was feeling around, but couldn't find the tooth. I was probing and probing when all of a sudden Jacob wakes up! He turns around and asks, "Dad, what are you doing?" Well, I thought quickly and answered, "Buddy, I was so excited to see what the Tooth Fairy would bring, I just couldn't wait." So, I pulled the pillow back and we marveled that the Tooth Fairy left him some money. She even left the tooth so he could save it as a keepsake. What kind of awesome Tooth Fairy is that?

Kids are so gullible, you've got to love it. My point is that they can hear the silliest stories and still believe them.

Now, we are not going to get into the morality of me telling such an obvious lie. That is for another time. But, the issue here is believability. For that we have to focus on the everyday test of truth.


Is the story believable?


Test #2: Is the story believable?
A) The Details Fit Known History

I believe some things because they sound realistic. There is just that ring of truth when I hear a story. The story seems to match the things that I've seen in real life, and the details are convincing enough in everyday life. I decide if a story is believable, so I wonder what happens when I apply this same test to the Bible. What happens when I apply this test to the Bible? Does it show me that the Bible is faithful to the past? I am going to have to say, "Yes, it does!"

Consider the following, the details of the Bible stories fit known history. If it were a lie I would expect the Bible to be filled with made up facts along the way. But, historical and archaeology evidence verifies much of what we see in the Bible. It contains real people, and the existence of these people groups that it describes were out there. People from the Hittites to the Romans were real people. The leaders it discusses such as Cyrus, Nebuchadnezzar, Caesar Augustus, Pontius Pilot — they are all real people we can document.

The Bible describes real places. You go to Israel today and you can find Jericho, Jerusalem and the Jordan River. These places are in actual existence. It's not talking about Narnia, or Hogwarts or Oz. This is real stuff. These are real places!

There are also real events that happened. Now, not everything in life gets recorded for posterity. I mean, mankind won't know what you got for your birthday in 500 years, but a lot of major events did get recorded. We look through details in the Bible that are corresponding. We see the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC. It happened. It matches up. We read about the expulsion of Christians and Jews from the city of Rome in 49 AD with the Edict of Claudius. It talks about it in the Bible and history backs it up. It happened. Those things match up. The details make the story believable.


Test #2: Is the story believable?
B) The Characters Are All Too Human

We do a little more digging and we find out the characters are all too human. When we start looking through the Bible, if it were false, I would expect the people it described to be too good to be true, at least when it is talking about the heroes along the way. But, much like the authors who weren't too interested in self-promotion, we find out that the Bible is not too interested in putting an inflated view of its subject matter out there. The characters are believable guys.

King David for example was a real hero, one guy that we look to and exclaim, "This was a man of God. He was a great guy." And yet, it also talks about David being an adulterer and arranging a murder. These are not usually qualities you want out of a hero, but there they are for us to read.

Abraham is the father of our faith, and yet it talks about how he was out there lying to protect his own skin.

We see other heroes of the Bible like the Apostle Paul who was one of the most influential Christians to have ever lived. His story starts off with him being a strict persecutor of Christians. He approves the death and imprisonment of those who believe in a resurrected Christ. This is not exactly the picture of a guy that we would want running around for us out there. But, the Bible shares his whole story.

The characters of the Bible are way too human, and so the people are believable along the way.


Test #2: Is the story believable?
C) The Stories Have Authentic Detail

We also find out that the story has authentic details. Believable stories have believable details with stuff that you would have no reason to make up. There are just plenty of details in the Bible that the authors would have no reason to make up.

In John 21:11, it talks about a fishing incident involving Jesus. The story just throws in the detail that the fishermen caught 153 fish in the net. Okay, 153 fish, why would anyone make that up? It is just there.

1 Chronicles 27:30 talks about the fact that Obil the Ishmaelite was in charge of King David's camels and Jedeiah the Meronothite was in charge of the donkeys. And, we care why? Who would make that up? It just seems like an insignificant detail, but there it is.

In the final chapter of Colossians, Paul passes on greetings from random people like Aristarchus, Archippus, Demas, and Justus — people we don't know anything about. We don't know much about these guys. Why wouldn't they if they were making this stuff up not include influential people. Peter says "hi." Jesus says "hi." Who really is Justus? Who is Demas? Who is this guy taking care of the camels and the donkeys? Nobody cares about them.

Why include these factoids unless they're true? These real life details help me realize that the story itself is believable.

I will throw in this disclaimer: asking if the story is believable can be hard for a book that talks about the miraculous, such as a virgin birth, an Ark, a worldwide flood, and resurrections. If the whole thing were just a bunch of superstitious stuff along the way like Greek mythology with fictitious characters and places and events, then okay, it would be fine to dismiss it. But, the fact that the authors are so credible in their details, matching history, giving us realistic humans, and sharing details that no one makes up — that makes it easier for us to conclude, "I think they are telling the truth. I don't think they are making this up along the way." If the storyline is about a God who interjects Himself into history, then this could actually be plausible.

So, based on the details of the story, the Bible seems to be trustworthy. Do I trust it? Yes, I do!


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

FHCO: Your Future in the Bible (Part 3)

Future Hope Conference Online
Your Future in the:
Bible - Tribulation - Rapture - Millennial Kingdom - Heaven - Q&A


Steve HowellSteve Howell
Adult Education Minister
Tonganoxie Christian Church


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When we look at the Bible, we know the books and letters of the New Testament were written between 50-100 AD. Our earliest copies date back to 130 AD. The gap is less than 100 years. On top of the number of complete copies that we have to cross check, there are also over 24,000 copies or fragments of copies that we have in which we can cross-check as well. That is pretty cool! That is pretty good.

With evidence like that, it leaves me no doubt that what we have in the Bible has stayed intact. The source itself has remained intact over these hundreds of years. That gives me hope that helps me understand that I can trust the Bible as THE source.


Everyday Tests of Past Truth


Test #1: Do I trust the source?
B) The Sources Are Consistent

Not only do I know the source has remained intact over the years, but I also find out that the sources are consistent.

If the Bible were a lie, I'd expect less congruency. After all, the source is a group of 40 different authors who wrote 66 books over a span of 1500 years on three continents in three different languages and in multiple genres. Such a book, such a collection, should have multiple discrepancies and should have a lot of inconsistencies and contradictions along the way. And yet, when I look at the Bible and as I read through it, there are no such problems.

Consider this, look back at the Old Testament. You see the Old Testament books of Kings and Chronicles. You read through them and you see them talking about the same time period. You see them talking about the same people. The stories that I see in Kings match up with what I see in Chronicles. Both tell the story of the nation of Judah and its rulers. They match — same kings, same events!

I go to the New Testament and I see four separate accounts of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I see fours copies here that we call the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I read through them, and yes, some of them provide some different perspectives. But, just like any group of eyewitness, they have different perspectives. They might share different details, but they all come together. They all harmonize.

We even find consistency between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The principles that we find in the Old Testament line up with what we see in the New Testament. The description of God that we find back there, this holy and just and loving and merciful God from the Old Testament, is still the holy and just and loving and merciful God that we find in the New Testament.

The sources are consistent, and the more that I read the Bible, the more amazed I am at how consistent those teachings are. The sources seem trustworthy.


Test #1: Do I trust the source?
C) The Sources Don't Benefit

I also look at the Bible and realize the sources don't benefit. If I am trying to decide if I trust a source, I want to look and ask if these sources are benefiting from their messages. Do they have anything personal to gain from it?

If the books of the Bible were a lie, I would expect the Bible would be a whole lot more self-serving to its authors. Instead, I find the biblical accounts to be very unflattering to its authors. Paul as he is writing some letters says that he is "the chief of sinners." Whoa! That is great when you are trying to write to a church crowd, right? The chief of sinners.

Matthew, one of the disciples, records how when he was talking about his experiences with Jesus how he and the other disciples were clueless. Jesus is teaching and they are just sitting there like, "Um, could you explain that?" That's not very flattering. I would like to at least make myself sound a little better, but they are not trying to do that at all.

I find that the authors for the most part are anonymous. They write these books and they are not trying to get any credit for themselves. Tradition tells us who a lot of the authors were, but some of them like with the book of Hebrews, we still don't even know who wrote it.

The authors are not trying to gain anything from writing these books. They are not trying to gain credit.

I also find that the authors suffered as they were writing these materials. It is one things to be skewered by critics, but it is another to experience what it says in Hebrews 11, that they experienced mocking and scourgings, as wells as bonds and imprisonments. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, and they died by the sword. Paul himself describes his experiences in 2 Corinthians, saying how he was beaten, lashed, stoned, and shipwrecked because of this message that he had written down and that he has preached. You don't face that kind of persecution unless you are really convinced of your message.

The sources are not benefiting from the abuse, and based on that their accounts seems trustworthy to me.


Do I trust the source?

Do I trust the source? Yes! The source seems trustworthy. This is an everyday test of truth that we see here that proves the Bible and its past truth is correct for us today.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

FHCO: Your Future in the Bible (Part 2)

Future Hope Conference Online
Your Future in the:
Bible - Tribulation - Rapture - Millennial Kingdom - Heaven - Q&A


Steve HowellSteve Howell
Adult Education Minister
Tonganoxie Christian Church


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We don't have the time to debate the truth of the Bible from every single angle, including all the epistemology and philosophical discussions out there. There never is enough time in the world to get into everything about what is truth. But, we do have time to run through some very practical, everyday, common sense, tests of truth. These are some things that you use everyday in your life, things that you do all the time, and they serve you well. So, let's go through some of these tests of truth and see where you stand when it comes to the Bible.

Let's discover the truth. Are you ready?


Why Past Truth Matters

Let's talk about first things first. How do we know something is true?

First of all, to start we need to consider whether it was true in regards to past events, because past truth matters. If you doubt me, I just want you to ask anybody who ever took this product — cocaine toothache drops.


Cocaine Toothache Drops

Cocaine toothache drops. Great for the kids! This product comes from all the way back in 1885. When we look through advertising from this era, we find out that cocaine actually was used in a lot of different products until about 1914 when it started to be pulled. According to one manufacturer, cocaine could make the coward brave, the silent eloquent, and render the sufferer insensitive to pain. That's great! But, we now know just a little bit more about cocaine. We know that it might not be the best substance for us. It has a lot of dangers to it. It is highly addictive, and it is something that we should not be giving in place of Tylenol.

This past truth is in fact a lie. As such, we can ignore its claims for the present and for the future.

Past truth matters because it carries over. We need to know the truth about past events. If it was true then, it remains true now. And, if it was false then, it remains false now even if they thought it was true before.

With the Bible, this issue is huge, because the Bible is filled with information about past events. It talks about a lot of different things that happened in the past, and so, it raises the question:

Can we trust the Bible's claims about the past?

If so, we will have to take those teachings seriously if they're true. If not, we can safely dismiss the book as just another great piece of literature that really has no bearing on our lives today.

There are a number of different ways to look at the Bible and evaluate those past truth claims. Today, I want to look at three everyday tests of truth we would use, because if it is good enough for the rest of life, it should be good enough for this.


Everyday Tests of Past Truth


Test #1: Do I trust the source?
A) The Source Has Remained Intact

The first truth has to do with the source. I start thinking about the source, and here is the question, here is the test: Do I trust the source?

Now, I've spent very little time in the state of Texas. Most of what I know about Texas and its people comes not from first-hand knowledge, but I hear good things and so I conclude that they are probably true. I believe that Texans love their football. I believe that Dallas is sometimes called the "Big D". I believe that I should be able to get some good barbeque or Tex-Mex somewhere within a one mile radius of wherever I'm standing. I have heard those things. I believe those things and I believe them because somebody told me. People told me these things. Whether these are from friends or whether it is from magazine authors or people who are on TV who have showed them off, I believe these things because people told me.

Now, I don't believe everything that I have ever been told, but I recognize that if the source is trustworthy, then I'm going to accept what they say as truth.

What happens when I apply this test to the Bible? Does it show me that my sources related to the Bible are trustworthy when it comes to the past truth that is out there? And in a word — yes! I find out a lot of different things. I start looking at it, and do you know what? The source has remained intact. If the Bible were a lie, I'd expect it to have been modified somewhere along the way. Instead, when I look at the Bible, I find that the Bible I have is the same as what they had all they way back to when it was originally written.

There are, of course, various English translations that have been produced along the way, with your King James Version and the NIV version and whatever. I personally use the Holman Christian Standard Version. They might read a little bit differently, but the Greek and the Hebrew text from the originals that they are based off of are the same as when they were written. They have remained unaltered.

The process for figuring this out is pretty simple. We know that something that was written way back in ancient history, well, they didn't have Xerox machines to make copies to be passed down. So, to figure out if some Scripture that I am holding today is an accurate representation of what it said way back when, then all I have to do is figure out when this was originally written. I figure out when my earliest copy originated, then next figure our how many copies I have, and finally I cross check it.

For example, Plato the philosopher wrote a lot of stuff between 427 and 347 BC. Of what he wrote way back then, the earliest known copy that we have of his writings comes from around 900 AD. That means there is about 1,200 years of a gap between when he first wrote it and when we can find our earliest copy!

Okay, fair enough, things get destroyed along the way. People lose them, they misfile them, they burn them up, whatever. But, when we find out that there are seven copies of that manuscript which we cross check, we can then look at those and conclude, "Those seem pretty consistent, so we are pretty confident that what we have now is the same thing as Plato wrote back then."

We do that with all the other texts from the ancient world, too. We compare copies of the writings of Caesar, the writings of Aristotle, and many others. Most of these copies have gaps of 500 or more years from the original writing to the copies preserved today. We still have those handful of copies that we look at and can compare with to conclude, "Yes, that is trustworthy."

When we look at the Bible, we know the books and letters of the New Testament were written between 50-100 AD. Our earliest copies date back to 130 AD. The gap is less than 100 years. On top of the number of complete copies that we have to cross check, there are also over 24,000 copies or fragments of copies that we have in which we can cross-check as well. That is pretty cool! That is pretty good.

With evidence like that, it leaves me no doubt that what we have in the Bible has stayed intact. The source itself has remained intact over these hundreds of years. That gives me hope that helps me understand that I can trust the Bible as THE source.


[More on why we can trust the Bible as THE source from God in the next part.]


Monday, March 28, 2011

FHCO: Your Future in the Bible (Part 1)

Future Hope Conference Online
Your Future in the:
Bible - Tribulation - Rapture - Millennial Kingdom - Heaven - Q&A


Steve Howell Steve Howell
Adult Education Minister
Tonganoxie Christian Church


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I want to thank my wife for something pretty cool she allowed me to borrow. It's a neat device called an iPod Touch. For my journey I was able to take it on the plane. It does lots of really cool and amazing things. I don't know if you have had a chance to play around with something like this, but the technology is amazing. You can listen to music, you can watch videos, and you can have all sorts of different things to play around with.

Five years ago if I said the word "Kindle" to you, you would think of fire, right? Today you would think about the most gifted item in the history of Amazon.com.

Here's the thing, reading is making a comeback. Woot! Some of you would be more excited than others. Well, I think reading's comeback is really cool. People are reading in more and more places than ever before because of devices like the iPod Touch, the Kindle, and the Nook.

All of these e-reader devices have really increased the number of book sales out there. E-book sales have climbed to about 10% of the entire market, and the sale of these devices have been up 193% since just last year alone. It is really moving forward. It is growing. And, I don't know exactly why this is happening. My gut says it's just because people finally think that it is cool to read when you are holding a device, rather than a big bound copy of Lord of the Rings. I think that it just looks way cooler in public on an e-reader. Regardless of the reason, I think it's great that more of us, and therefore more of you, are reading in increased numbers.


What are you getting?

This brings up an interesting question when we think about reading that I want us to consider. What are you getting from your books?


What are you getting?

Different books contribute differently to our lives. I just grabbed a few random examples of books out there. We have everything from, Green Eggs and Ham, Jurassic Park, Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, and the Bible. We start looking at these books and think, "What do we get from them?" Does it create enjoyment?

For some people, Green Eggs and Ham is a lot of fun. My kids have enjoyed that. Other people with a sick, twisted mind enjoy A Brief History of Time, and that's okay. Does it teach information? Certainly all of them teach information to some degree. Even fiction you can learn from. Does it showcase talent? Yes. Does it elicit emotion? Yes.


What is truth?

But, the big question is: What is truth? Are we getting truth from this material? Because, I don't know. I read Green Eggs and Ham and I think, "Well, you know, I'm not a fan of eating green eggs and ham, so maybe there is some truth there." I look at Jurassic Park and find there are some truthful things in there. There are some truthful things maybe in Stephen Hawking's books. Then, with the Bible, when you start asking people, "Is it true?" Well, then they are not so sure.

People don't want to take a real firm stand on truth. That is not a criticism of anyone or any book. It is simply an acknowledgment that we have difficulties with the concept of truth.

Books fill us with ideas, and we think about these ideas, but are they true? It is hard to say with certainty. We just have to start to wonder.

That question — "What is truth?" — has been around for a long time, even for hundreds and hundreds of years ago since it was first asked. Do you remember a guy named Pontius Pilate? During the crucifixion trial of Jesus, Pilate asked that famous question: "What is truth?"

Taken seriously, "What is truth?" is a heavy question that leads us into some big philosophical arguments. There is a huge realm of philosophical study out there where people discuss the nature of truth. The entire field of epistemology is available for people to discuss what the nature of truth is. They can spend hours and hours with these philosophical discussions. We could do that, too, if we really wanted to figure out what truth is. We could delve into that subject and we could talk about it for hours and probably leave without a whole lot of satisfaction because philosophy can be interesting, but we don't live in a philosophical world. We live in a practical world. We live in a real world that is filled with jobs and families, mortgages and medicines. We just don't have time for the philosophical debates.


We need truth!

What continues to be important is that we still need truth. I'll say it again, we still need truth! We have a need to deal with truth because everyone deals with truth in way or another.

Just to wake up in your room involves you engaging in truth. You choose your clothing based on the assumption that the weatherman's forecast for the day was in the ballpark of true. You eat cereal in the morning based on the assumption that the list of ingredients in your Cocoa Puffs was true and that it doesn't contain poisonous substances, unless all of the sudden puffed corn becomes a poisonous substance. You drive to a destination assuming that the directions you got from Google Maps or Tom Tom were true. You double-check the paper's sport section just to make sure that what you saw last night on TV about your favorite team was true.

You buy something at the gas station assuming that when you pull out your debit card the balance you have listed is true, although maybe we'd like that not to be quite so true. Can I get an "Amen!"? Hey, if you just said Amen, a word meaning truly, to me whom you've never met before, you assume I'm going to tell you some truth, right?

We assume all these things about truth. Practically, we make judgments about truth every single day. We think about it every single day in those judgments, and they guide us and they inform us.


Take a stand!

Now, when we are faced with reading material then, we would do well to do the same thing. We should do well to find firm conclusions about the truth of what we read. It's time to avoid being wishy-washy. We need to stand up and say firmly, "This is truth or this is a lie." We do it daily with the rest of life, so we need to do it with what we read.

And so, I feel very comfortable saying with absolute certainty Green Eggs and Ham is a lie! I would not like them here or there. I would not like them anywhere. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I Am. Rubbish!

Okay, that I don't like green eggs and ham really is not my main point of this lesson. The really more important issue is the book called the Bible, because I feel equally comfortable saying, "The Bible is true." It is truth. And, maybe, you've come to that conclusion as well. Maybe you believe that and maybe you don't believe it. But, either way, it is time to decide. Now is the time for you to figure this out, because if the Bible is true then it has some really big, practical application for your life and especially for your future.


Friday, March 25, 2011

FHCO: Preaching Hope

Future Hope Conference Online
Your Future in the:
Bible - Tribulation - Rapture - Millennial Kingdom - Heaven - Q&A


Is there hope for my future?

Hope - "to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence"

We live in a time of great turmoil. Our lives are full of fluctuations and changes. The world seems always teetering on financial, environmental, or international disaster. War looms across the planet. It is a time when everything seems about to unravel, and we ourselves may become undone.

But, there's hope! We're not talking about the hope made in promises by politicians, which we learn by the end of the day were empty and meaningless. We're not talking about the religious platitudes that everything's ok which leaves us dry.

No, we're talking about REAL hope. The hope that only Jesus Christ can bring. He wrote the playbook for all of human history. He tells us how it will all turn out. He lets us know that the future is bright... if we make the right decisions. Jesus tells us there's hope.


Speakers

The following preachers will be bringing us this message of hope over the next few weeks:


Steve Howell
Steve Howell

Steve Howell is the Adult Education Minister at Tonganoxie Christian Church in Tonganoxie, Kansas. A teacher of teachers, Steve has organized and mentored over 60 Adult Bible Fellowships at once. His creative Bible curriculum and energized teaching makes exploring the Bible both educational and fun.

Answering the question:
What does the Bible say about...
Your Future in the Bible


Don Perkins
Don Perkins

Don Perkins is the founder and director of According to Prophecy Ministries located in the San Diego, California area. Don travels all over the country using his enthusiastic speaking and giftedness in making complex biblical issues easy to understand.

Answering the questions: What does the Bible say about...
Your Future in the Tribulation
Your Future in the Millennial Kingdom


Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones

Nathan Jones is an Evangelist and the Web Minister for Lamb & Lion Ministries, reaching out to the over two billion plus people on the Internet with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Answering the questions:
What does the Bible say about...
Your Future in the Rapture
Your Future in Heaven


Vic Batista
Vic Batista

Born in the Dominican Republic, Vic Batista is the dynamic pastor of Calvary Chapel Aventura located in the Miami, Florida area. He also hosts the "Eyes on the Word" radio program. Vic ministers bilingually to both the English and Spanish speaking communities.

Answering the question:
What does the Bible say about...
Question & Answers Session


Thursday, March 24, 2011

FHCO: Jobs Source of Hope

Future Hope Conference Online
Your Future in the:
Bible - Tribulation - Rapture - Millennial Kingdom - Heaven - Q&A


Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

There once was a man who lived in the most ancient of times. He was considered to be the most successful rancher and farmer in all the land, known for his great wealth in livestock and cattle and every animal one could ride. To work his ranch this man had hundreds of employees, all very dedicated to their beloved employer. His greatest joy was his wife, his seven handsome sons and three beautiful daughters. Their hospitality was known far and wide, holding great parties in all the various homes that they owned. And, this great man was known by everyone for his honesty and integrity. He was a person who could be trusted, and who everyone turned to for leadership and direction.

And then, one fateful day, the worst kind of tragedy struck this king among men with many fisted blows. It was going to become the worst day of his life.

While the great man was tending to some business, one of his employees came limping up, gasping for breath. His face was bruised and beaten. Collapsing to the ground, the great man rushed over and held his employees head in his hands. "What happened?" the great man asked. The beaten man, though pained answered, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and then pirates attacked and carried them off. They put my fellow workers to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"

While the employee was still speaking, another messenger ran up, his clothes smoldering, and out of breath exclaimed, "There was a terrible brush fire which burned up the sheep, and all your shepherds died horribly trying to save them. I am the only one who has escaped the blaze to tell you!"

No sooner was the second employee done speaking, when a third rode up, an arrow sticking out of his shoulder. Helping him off the saddle and onto the ground, the great man looked at all the blood in dismay. Before dying, the mortally wounded man reported, "Three more raiding parties have swept down on your herd of prized horses and rode off with them. They murdered everyone there, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"

Seeing his wealth and people evaporate before his eyes, the great man's worst news was yet to come. Hysterical, a woman fell at the man's feet and through great sobs gave the final blow. "Your sons and daughters... they were holding one of their parties... and suddenly a mighty tornado struck the house. It collapsed on them. Oh, they are dead, they are all dead!"

The great man, now bereft of all he valued and loved, himself collapsed to the ground as if punched in the stomach. He let out a great cry and tore his clothes in agony as he was helped back into his house and bed. A doctor was called, and while tending him made the awful discovery that the man had cancerous growths throughout his body. His wife and friends stood at the door watching in disgust, for they blamed him for all the misfortune. His wife announced she was going to leave him.

Throughout all this great loss, all this devastation, all this misfortune this once affluent man had just encountered and had to bear in merely one short day, he proved why he wasn't just great because of his possessions and the power that money gave him. He was great because he had something that could never be taken away from him. He had hope.

What was this man's hope? What well of power and strength made this crushed man who lost more than anyone stand up against the storms life battered him with, to shake his fist at tragedy and declare, "Even if I am struck down dead and finally lose it all, I... will... not... lose... hope... ... in Him" (Job 13:15).


Purpose

And, that is the purpose of the Future Hope Conference Online — to understand what this great man understood. To have the hope he had. For, we ourselves live in a time of great upheaval, where each one of us carries some wounds of tragedy and suffering, where war looms around every corner, where our sources of money seems on the verge of drying up, where we feel we can't trust anyone anymore. Our futures right now seems pretty grim, and very scary.

But, there is hope in the future. I'm not talking about some distant, remote future that seems too far away to grasp. I'm talking about the most wonderful future, beyond what you can imagine, and you and me can have that hope — today.

Travel with me these next few weeks here at The Christ in Prophecy Journal for the Future Hope Conference Online — and have hope.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Passion in Psalm 22

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

One thing is certain — the fulfillment of all the prophecies of Psalm 22 in the life of Jesus confirms Him to have been the promised Messiah.

This fact raises a crucial question — the most important question of your life: "Who is Jesus to you?"

When Jesus was tried by the Roman authorities, the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, asked the assembled mob, "What shall I do with this Jesus who is called the Messiah?" (Matthew 27:22).

This is the most important question in the universe. So, let me put Pilate's question to you: "What will you do with Jesus?"

Will you accept Him as Lord and Savior, as did the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39—43). If so, then you will receive the same promise as did the thief: "You shall be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).

Or, will you wash your hands of Jesus, as did Pilate? (Matthew 27:24). If so, then your destiny will be one of eternal separation from God in Hell (John 3:16 and Matthew 10:28).

Your eternal destiny — Heaven or Hell — depends upon your answer to one question: "Who do you say that Jesus is?"


An Illustration

I'd like to close with an illustration of the significance of what Jesus did for us on the Cross.

In pioneer days, when wagon trains were crossing this nation to California, there were many things that the wagon masters feared — things such as dried up water holes, Indian attacks, plagues, and blizzards. One of the most fearsome sights was an approaching prairie fire.

In the plains of Kansas the prairie grass would often stand nearly three feet high, and when it was dry it could burn very rapidly. Prairie fires, often started by a lightning strike, could travel as fast as 50 miles an hour, depending upon the winds.

Consequently, when smoke was spotted on the horizon, the wagon master knew he had only minutes to prepare for the protection of his wagon train.

As fearsome and dangerous as the fires were, there is no recorded instance of a wagon train being destroyed by one. The reason is that there was a very proven way to protect the wagons.

What the wagon master would do is quickly start a fire on the opposite side of the train from where the prairie fire was approaching. When the fire had burned away enough, the wagons would then be formed in a circle in the burned out area. When the prairie fire reached them, it would simply burn around them and go on its way.

How does this story relate to the Cross? When Jesus was hanging on the Cross, all the sins that you and I have ever committed and ever will commit were placed upon Jesus, and the wrath that we deserve was poured out on Him.

When you place your faith in Him, you step into the area where the wrath of God has already fallen, and you become immune to the wrath that is to come.

The Bible says that every person on planet earth is under either the wrath of God or the grace of God because those are the two ways in which God deals with sin (John 3:36). Are you under wrath or grace? You can move from wrath to grace by putting your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Do it today. Do not delay.

What a glorious Savior we have!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Passion in Psalm 22:26-31

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

The last six verses of Psalm 22 give us a summary of the glorious consequences of the Cross.

The first is salvation for all who put their faith and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior:

26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Him will praise the Lord,
Let your heart live forever!

The apostle Peter sums up the meaning of this verse in 1 Peter 2:24, "He Himself [Jesus] bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed."

The second consequence of the Cross that is mentioned in Psalm 22 is that the obedience of Jesus in submitting to the humiliation of the Cross will result in His glorification before all the nations of the earth when He returns to reign over the world:

27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, And all the families of the nations will worship before You.

28 For the kingdom is the Lord's,
And He rules over the nations.

When that glorious reign begins, all the Redeemed will be prospered, while those who are damned by their unbelief will bow before Him and confess Him as King of kings and Lord of lords before being consigned to Hell:

29 All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship,
All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep his soul alive.

Isaiah states that "every knee will bow, every tongue will confess" that Jesus Christ is Lord. This is affirmed in Romans 14:11 and Philippians 2:10-11.

Think of it — a day will come when Hitler and Stalin will bow and confess the lordship of Jesus, as will Madeline Murray O'Hare, Charles Darwin, and ever other nefarious person who has ever lived. But it will have no impact upon their eternal destiny. Only those who make that confession in this life will receive the blessing of having their "hearts live forever" (Psalm 22:26).

The final consequence of the Cross that is mentioned in Psalm 22 is that during the millennial reign of Jesus, the Redeemed (who will be in glorified bodies) will teach those who are born during that time of the righteousness of Jesus and of the all—sufficiency of His sacrifice on the Cross:

30 Posterity will serve Him;
It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation.

31 They will come and will declare His righteousness
To a people who will be born, that He has performed it.


A Fascinating Possibility

Notice again the last phrase of Psalm 22: "He has performed it." Literally, in the Hebrew, it says, "It is finished."

This fact has prompted some scholars to theorize that as Jesus hung on the Cross, He quite likely quoted all of Psalm 22, beginning with the words, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" and ending with the words, "It is finished." The witnesses then simply wrote down the opening and closing words which were recorded in the Gospels (see Matthew 27:46 and John 19:30).


In the final part of "The Passion in Psalm 22" series, we'll look at the Giver of Salvation prophetically described in Psalm 22.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Passion in Psalm 22:22-25

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

Between verses 21 and 22 of Psalm 22 the greatest miracle in history occurs — the resurrection of the Messiah.

The event is not specifically stated, but it is certainly inferred. Verse 21 ends with a prayer for deliverance from Satan's attack. Verse 22 begins with a song of celebration, thanking God for answering the prayer:

22 I will tell of Your name to my brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.

23 You who fear the Lord, praise Him;
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.

24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has he hidden His face from him;
But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.

25 From You comes my praise in the great assembly;
I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him.

The most direct prophecy concerning the Resurrection in the Old Testament is found in Psalm 16:10 where David wrote: "You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; neither will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay."

In the New Testament, Jesus repeatedly told His disciples that He would be killed and resurrected. It was one of His most frequently stated prophecies. For example, in Matthew 17:22-23 He is quoted as saying: "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day."

Luke records the fulfillment of these resurrection prophecies in the following way (Luke 24:1-7):

1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they [a group of women] came to the tomb bringing spices which they had prepared.

2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,

3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing;

5 and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living One among the dead?

6 "He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee,

7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again."


In the next part of "The Passion in Psalm 22" series, we'll look at the blessings told of in Psalm 22:26-31.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Passion in Psalm 22:16-21

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

When we come to verse 16 of Psalm 22, we encounter one of the most remarkable prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures:

16 For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and feet.

Keep in mind that these words were written 1,000 years before the birth of Jesus. That means they were also written 700 years before the Romans refined crucifixion as a method of execution. Yet, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, David prophesied that the Messiah would die by having His hands and feet pierced!

The Jewish method of execution at the time David wrote the psalm was by stoning. This was still true a thousand years later when Jesus lived. But the Jews had lost the power of implementing capital punishment under Roman rule, so they turned Jesus over to the Roman authorities when they decided He should be executed.

All four of the gospel stories record the execution of Jesus by crucifixion. The Gospel of Mark describes it succinctly as follows (Mark 15:22,24):

22 Then they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull...

24 And they crucified Him...


A Final Comment About Suffering

The prophet concludes his observations about the suffering of the Messiah in verses 17 and 18:

17 I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at me;

18 They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots.

All the Messiah's rib bones are laid bare as He gasps for air while hanging on the execution stake. And the emotional suffering continues as no one shows any compassion. Instead, while His life ebbs away, those carrying out the cruelty pass the time by gambling for His clothing!

Matthew describes the fulfillment of this prophecy in this manner (Matthew 27:35):

35 And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots.


A Final Prayer

In verses 19—21 of Psalm 22, the psalmist records a final prayer uttered by the Messiah. It is a plea for deliverance from Satan:

19 But You, O Lord, be not far off;
O You, my help, hasten to my assistance.

20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
My only life from the power of the dog.

21 Save me from the lion's mouth;
From the horns of the wild oxen You answer me.

None of the Gospels record Jesus uttering such a prayer on the Cross, but undoubtedly He must have done so, perhaps silently or in a whisper.

In the prayer, the Messiah affirms that God the Father is near to Him, although He seems distant because He cannot countenance the sin that the Messiah must bear. He ends the prayer by asking for deliverance from Satan (the lion) and his demonic hordes (the wild oxen).


In the next part of "The Passion in Psalm 22" series, we'll look at the Resurrection alluded to in Psalm 22:22-25.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Passion in Psalm 22:11-15

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

With verse 11 of Psalm 22 the psalmist returns to the Messiah's emotional suffering:

11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near;
For there is none to help.

This is a prophecy concerning the solitude the Messiah would experience in His passion. He would suffer emotionally from His desertion by all His disciples.

The fulfillment of this prophecy is recorded in Matthew 26: 47,49-50,56b:

47 While He [Jesus] was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a large crowd with swords and clubs...

49 Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, "Hail, Rabbi!" and kissed Him.

50 And Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you have come for." Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.

56... Then all the disciples left Him and fled.


More Spiritual Suffering

At verse 12 of Psalm 22 the focus shifts back to the Messiah's spiritual suffering:

12 Many bulls have surrounded me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.

13 They open wide their mouth at me,
As a ravening and a roaring lion.

I believe this is a prophecy that the Messiah in His passion would be surrounded by demonic hordes gloating over his approaching death. In the New Testament, Peter describes Satan as "a roaring lion seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

Although there is no recorded fulfillment of this prophecy in the New Testament, I have no doubt that it happened. The people who were witnesses of the crucifixion could not see the demons with their physical eyes. But Jesus, with His spiritual eyes could undoubtedly see them as they danced around the Cross and gloated over their "victory" in orchestrating the murder of God's Son.


The Physical Suffering Intensifies

At verse 14 the psalmist begins to describe the Messiah's physical suffering in gory detail:

14 I am poured out like water,
And all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It is melted within me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
And You lay me in the dust of death.

His bones are out of joint. He is suffering from extreme thirst. His heart is stressed to the point of bursting. Death hovers about Him.

Here's how the Gospel of Mark describes the suffering of Jesus (Mark 15:15-17,19):

15 ...after having Jesus scourged, he [Pilate] delivered Him to be crucified.

16 And the soldiers took Him away...

17 They dressed Him up in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him...

19 They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him...

John in his gospel adds that Jesus suffered extreme thirst while he was hanging on the cross, and when He cried out, "I am thirsty," the soldiers taunted Him by putting a sponge to His mouth that was full of sour wine (John 19:28-29).


In the next part of "The Passion in Psalm 22" series, we'll look at the Crucifixion described in Psalm 22:16-21.