Friday, June 29, 2012

Millennium in the Old Testament: Final Points

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

So let me emphasize once again that Revelation 20 is not the only chapter in the Bible where the Millennium is prophesied. It does, however, present us with some new information that is not mentioned elsewhere:

1) Satan will be bound during the Millennium.

2) The Lord's reign will last 1,000 years. (This is strongly implied in figurative language in the book of Hosea.)

3) The Millennium will end with a great revolt that will be led by Satan and which will be put down by God.

We are told in the book of Acts that after His resurrection Jesus spent 40 days with His disciples "speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). At the end of those 40 days, when He gathered His disciples on the Mount of Olives for His ascension into Heaven, they asked Him, "Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). He did not respond by telling them there would be no kingdom. Rather, He told them that it was not for them to know the time (Acts 1:7).

Jesus left us with many signs to watch for that would mark the season of His return. Those signs are everywhere we look today. Jesus is returning soon. He is going to reign in majesty from Jerusalem, and the Redeemed will share that reign with Him (2 Timothy 2: 12 and Revelation 2:26-27). We are living on borrowed time.

Are you ready?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Millennium in the Old Testament: Minor Prophets

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

Hosea talks about how God will use the Millennium to fulfill all the promises He has made to the Jewish people (Hosea 1:10-11, 2:14-20, and 14:4-7).

He confirms that God will establish peace in the animal kingdom and peace between the nations (Hosea 2:18). And he makes it clear that God's blessings will also be poured out on the Gentiles (Hosea 2:23).

Hosea's most fascinating prophecy has to do with the timing of the Lord's return. He indicates that it will be "two days" after His ascension into Heaven (Hosea 5:15 - 6:2). The context of the passage indicates that the two days represent 2,000 years. Hosea says that after the two days, the Messiah "will raise us up" (the resurrection) that "we may live before Him" for "the third day" (the 1,000 years of the Millennium).


Millennial Scene

Joel's end time prophecies focus mainly on "the day of the Lord" which, in his context, is the day of the Messiah's Second Coming (Joel 1:15, 2:1,13 and 3:14). But he does give us a glimpse of the Millennium when he states that when the Messiah returns, He will dwell "in Zion, My holy mountain" and that Jerusalem will be characterized by holiness (Joel 3:17,21). He also confirms that the land will be revitalized for great agricultural production: "The mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah will flow with water" (Joel 3:18). He also affirms that Egypt will be a desolation (Joel 3:19).

Amos presents a picture of the Messiah returning as a roaring lion (Amos 1:2). The only thing he has to say about the Millennium is that it will be characterized by agricultural abundance (Amos 9:14) — so much so that "the plowman will overtake the reaper" (Amos 9:13).

Obadiah's only significant comment about the Millennium is his statement that it will be characterized by holiness (Obadiah 17).

Jonah has nothing to say about the Millennium.

Micah begins his prophecy with a vision of the Second Coming (Micah 1:3-4). Regarding the Millennium, Micah presents a glorious vision of it and does so in words that are almost identical with Isaiah's (Micah 4:1-7 and Isaiah 2:2-4). He emphasizes the peace and prosperity that will characterize the Millennium (Micah 4:3-4). He also underlines the promise of God that He will make the Jewish people the primary nation of the world during the Millennium (Micah 4:6-7).

Nahum echoes Joel by focusing his prophecies on "the day of the Lord" (Nahum 1:1-8). The only thing he has to say with regard to the Millennium is that the Jewish people will enjoy perfect peace (Nahum 1:15) and the splendor of their nation will be restored (Nahum 2:2).

Habakkuk begins his book by assuring the reader that God will be faithful to send the Messiah back "at the appointed time" (Habakkuk 2:3). He follows that by presenting a very dramatic vision of the Second Coming (Habakkuk 3:3-13). He does not have anything to say about the Millennium.

Zephaniah begins his book by presenting a powerful and frightening vision about the Second Coming (Zephaniah 1:14-18). He concludes his book with a brief prophecy about the Millennium (Zephaniah 3:14-20). He reveals that the Lord will regather all believing Jews back to the land of Israel and that He will live in their midst (Zephaniah 3:17-20). And he promises that God will make the Jewish nation the prime nation of the world (Zephaniah 3:20).

Haggai asserts that at the time of the Second Coming, God will shake the heavens and earth (Haggai 2:6-7), overthrowing all Gentile kingdoms (Haggai 2:22). The wealth of the nations will be transferred to Jerusalem, and the Temple will be rebuilt in glory (Haggai 2:7). And then, using Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, as a prophetic type of the Messiah, Haggai says that God will give him His "signet ring" — meaning that he will become the King of kings and Lord of lords (Haggai 2:23).

Zechariah says that the Lord "will return to Jerusalem" and will rebuild the Temple (Zechariah 1:16). He calls upon the Jewish people to "sing for joy and be glad" because the Lord has told him that "I am coming and I will dwell in your midst" (Zechariah 2:10).

Concerning the nature of the Lord's reign, Zechariah says He will be "a priest on His throne," confirming that the government will be a theocracy (Zechariah 6:12-13). The city of Jerusalem will be called "The City of Truth" and "The Holy Mountain" (Zechariah 8:3). Believing Jews will be regathered from all over the world (Zechariah 9:14-17), and the population of Jerusalem will live in peace and prosperity (Zechariah 8:8,12). The Jewish people will be so greatly blessed that when a Jew walks by, ten Gentiles will grab his robe and say, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you" (Zechariah 8:23).

Zechariah further states that during the Millennium, all the nations of the world will be required to send delegations to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16). Those nations that fail to do so will receive no rain (Zechariah 14:17-18).

Zechariah concludes his book by emphasizing the holiness that will abound during the Millennium. He says that the bells on the horses' bridles will be engraved with the words, "Holy to the Lord" (Zechariah 14:20-21).

Malachi contains several passages about the Second Coming, but the only thing it says about the Millennium is that the name of the Lord "will be great among the nations" (Malachi 1:11).


Other Old Testament Prophecies

There are scattered references among the history books of the Old Testament concerning both the Second Coming and the Millennium, and the Psalms are full of them, but I do not have the space to list them in detail. You can find such a listing in my book, The Christ in Prophecy Study Guide. Suffice it to say that I believe I have presented more than enough evidence to prove that the Old Testament is full of prophecies about the end times and the Millennium.


In the last part of this series on the Millennium in the Old Testament, we'll quickly cover what new information Revelation reveals concerning the Millennial Kingdom.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Millennium in the Old Testament: Major Prophets

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

Jeremiah pictures the Millennium as a time when Israel and Judah will be united in peace, and the city of Jerusalem will be called "The Throne of the Lord" (Jeremiah 3:17-18). Jesus, "the righteous Branch," will "reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land" (Jeremiah 23:5). And because of His new role as king, the name of Jesus will be changed to Yahweh-Tsidkenu, meaning, "The Lord is our righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6).

David, in his glorified body, will serve as the king of Israel (Jeremiah 30:9), and all the enemies of Israel will be destroyed (Jeremiah 30:11). The city of Jerusalem and the Temple will be rebuilt (Jeremiah 30:18), and the population will be multiplied (Jeremiah 30:19). The mourning of the Jewish people will be turned into joy (Jeremiah 31:13).

The Jewish people will repent of the rejection of their Messiah and will enter into a new covenant with God that will be written on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34 and 32:37-40). The streets of Jerusalem will be filled with "the voice of joy and the voice of gladness..." (Jeremiah 33:11).


Southwest Millennial Scene

Ezekiel confirms that the Jewish people will enter into a new covenant with God that will be written on their hearts (Ezekiel 11:19-20 and 16:60-62). He also confirms that the Lord will guarantee their security and will "execute judgments upon all who scorn them round about them" (Ezekiel 28:26). The land of Egypt will be particularly punished for its treatment of Israel and will remain a desolation during the first 40 years of the Millennium (Ezekiel 29:9-16).

Ezekiel also confirms that David will be made king of Israel (Ezekiel 34:23-24 and 37:24). The Lord will pour out "showers of blessings" on Israel, including agricultural abundance (Ezekiel 34:26-29) and the rebuilding of their Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-27). The result is that the Lord's glory will be set among the nations (Ezekiel 39:21).

From chapter 40 through chapter 46, Ezekiel focuses on describing the Millennial Temple. It is much larger than any of the previous Jewish temples, and the Holy of Holies in the Temple contains no ark. Jeremiah had already prophesied that the ark would not be rebuilt or remembered (Jeremiah 3:16).

One of Ezekiel's end time prophecies that has already been fulfilled relates to the Eastern Gate. He says it will be shut up and will not be reopened until the Messiah returns (Ezekiel 44:1-3). The gate was closed in the 1500's and remains closed to this day.

Ezekiel reveals that part of the redemption of nature will be the conversion of the Dead Sea into a sea of fresh water (Ezekiel 47:8-9). He concludes his book by telling how the redeemed and greatly expanded land of Israel will be divided among the 12 tribes (Ezekiel 48).

Daniel's end time prophecies focus on the Tribulation and the Antichrist. His first mention of the Millennium occurs in chapter 2 where he interprets the dream of Nebuchadnezzar about the sequence of Gentile empires. He reveals that the last Gentile empire will be destroyed by the return of the Messiah and the establishment of His kingdom "which will never be destroyed" (Daniel 2:44-45).

In chapter 7, Daniel emphasizes that the Redeemed will reign with the Messiah: "Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One..." (Daniel 7:27). Daniel concludes his book by indicating there will be an interregnum of 75 days between the time of the Lord's return and the establishment of His worldwide government (Daniel 12:11-12). This is most likely the period of time when the Messiah will judge all those left alive at the end of the Tribulation to determine whether or not they will enter the Millennium in the flesh. This time period will also likely be used to organize the Messiah's government, part of which will be to make governing assignments to the Redeemed who will be in glorified bodies.


In the next part of this series on the Millennium in the Old Testament, we'll look at prophecies from the minor prophets concerning the Millennium.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Millennium in the Old Testament: Messianic Prophecies

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

There are over three hundred prophecies in the Old Testament that pertain to the First Coming of the Messiah, but many of these are repetitious. Those that are separate and distinct total 109. There are many more than this that relate to the Second Coming and the Lord's Millennial Reign.

All the First Coming prophecies were literally fulfilled, and there is no reason to assume that the fulfillment of the Second Coming prophecies will be any different. We need, therefore, to take the Old Testament seriously, and we need to study what it has to say prophetically about the end times.


The Second Coming

The Bible teaches that Jesus will establish His personal reign over all the earth at the time of His Second Coming, and the Old Testament contains many prophecies about that event. As we have already seen, Zechariah 14 says the Lord will return to the Mount of Olives from which He ascended into Heaven. In Isaiah's account of the same event, he refers to the Lord returning to Mount Zion, which is an alternative name for Jerusalem: "So will the Lord of hosts come down to wage war on Mount Zion and on its hill. Like flying birds, so the Lord of hosts will protect Jerusalem. He will protect and rescue it; He will pass over and rescue it" (Isaiah 31:4b-5).

Both Isaiah and Jeremiah portray the Lord returning in wrath. Jeremiah says He will "roar" from the heavens (Jeremiah 25:30-31). Isaiah says He will be "filled with indignation" and His tongue will be like "a consuming fire" (Isaiah 30:27-28). Zephaniah says the day of His return will be one of "trouble and distress" and "destruction and desolation" (Zephaniah 1:14-18).


The Millennial Reign

Once the Messiah has poured out the wrath of God on the enemies of God, He will establish His reign over the earth, and He will begin to manifest His glory:

Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed, for the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and His glory will be before His elders (Isaiah 24:23).

All the various aspects about the Lord's millennial reign are spelled out in detail in the book of Isaiah. The book of Revelation is about the Tribulation. It is the book of Isaiah that reveals the details of the Millennium.

Political Characteristics — The reign will be world-wide (Isaiah 2:2 and 9:6-7). It will be peaceful in nature (Isaiah 2:4), and the world will be blessed with righteousness (Isaiah 11:4-5) and justice (Isaiah 42:3-4).

The Lord's throne will be established in Jerusalem, for He will occupy the throne of David (Isaiah 2:3). His government will be a theocratic one in which He will serve as king, legislator and judge (Isaiah 33:17-22). The Redeemed will reign with the Lord as princes (Isaiah 32:1). And because the Lord will be reigning from Jerusalem, the nation of Israel will be the prime nation in the world (Isaiah 2:2-3, 49:22-23, and 60:1-62:7).

Spiritual Characteristics — Isaiah spends a great amount of time outlining the spiritual blessings of the Millennium, the greatest of which is the fact that the glory and holiness of the Lord will be manifested (Isaiah 40:3-5, 52:13-15, 61:3 and 66: 18). Holiness will abound (Isaiah 4:2-4) and an attitude of joy and praise will prevail:

And the ransomed of the Lord will return, and come with joyful shouting to Zion, with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away (Isaiah 35:10).

A rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem will serve as the worship center of the world (Isaiah 2:2-3, 56:6-8, and 60:7b,13). Incredibly, the Shekinah glory of God will hover over the city of Jerusalem like a canopy (Isaiah 4:5). And "the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9).

The Redemption of Nature — One aspect of the Millennium that is heavily emphasized by the Hebrew prophets is the redemption of nature. The land of Israel will no longer be a place of desolation (Isaiah 62:3-5). Instead, "the fruit of the earth" will be the pride of Israel (Isaiah 4:2). "Waters will break forth in the wilderness," and the deserts will become pools of water (Isaiah 35:6b-7).

In addition to agricultural abundance, the animal kingdom will be restored to its original perfection. Poisonous animals will cease to be poisonous, and meat-eating animals will become herbivorous. All members of the animal kingdom will live together in perfect peace with each other and with Mankind (Isaiah 11:6-9 and 65:25).


Millennial Peace

The Quality of Life — In a thrilling passage in Isaiah 65, the prophet reveals that lifespans for those in the flesh will be greatly expanded to "the lifetime of a tree" (Isaiah 65:22). Accordingly, anyone who dies at the age of 100 will be considered a youth (Isaiah 65:20).

Every person will have his own home and vineyard. There will be no homeless or hungry people (Isaiah 65:21-22). All labor will be redeemed (Isaiah 65:23) in the sense that it will be productive, and it will not be confiscated by others.

Disease will be curtailed (Isaiah 33:24) and persons born with physical handicaps will be healed:

Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout with joy (Isaiah 35:5-6).


Isaiah's Climax

Isaiah was given so many glorious visions and words of knowledge concerning the majestic reign of the Lord that he was almost bursting with anticipation by the time he got to the end of his book. This prompted him to suddenly cry out:

Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains [kingdoms] would quake at Your presence — as fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil — to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence! (Isaiah 64:1-2).

Now, keep in mind that I have only shared with you a few passages from the book of Isaiah. There are many other passages regarding the Millennium that are scattered throughout the Old Testament.


In the next part of this series on the Millennium in the Old Testament, we'll look at prophecies from the major prophets concerning the Millennium.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Millennium in the Old Testament: Relevance to Understanding

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

The spiritual malady of ignoring the Old Testament is epidemic in the Church today, and it is a serious problem because there is no way to understand the New Testament without knowledge of the Old Testament.

For example, Jesus is referred to by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:20 as the "first fruits" of those to be resurrected. There is no way to understand that expression apart from a knowledge of the Old Testament sacrificial system.

In like manner, Jesus is referred to in the book of Hebrews as the "High Priest of our confession" (Hebrews 3:1) and as "a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 5:10). These terms have no meaning apart from a knowledge of the interaction between Abraham and Melchizedek and the role of the High Priest as revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures.


Another Personal Experience

Let me give you another example of the significance of Old Testament ignorance. When I was growing up in an Amillennial church, one of the statements I heard in sermons over and over again was, "There is not one verse in the Bible that even implies that Jesus will ever put his feet on this earth again."

You can imagine how surprised I was when, at the age of 12, I accidently discovered Zechariah 14:1-9 where it states point blank that the Messiah will return to the Mount of Olives and that when His feet touch the ground, the mountain will split in half.

I took this passage to my pastor and asked him what it meant. He studied it in silence for a long time, and then he said, "Son, I don't know what these verses mean, but I can guarantee you that they do not mean what they say!"

Later I discovered that Zechariah 14 is not the only place in the Old Testament where the Scriptures state that Jesus will return to this earth. Consider, for example, Ezekiel 43:7 where Jesus, in a pre-incarnate appearance, takes Ezekiel on a visionary tour of the Millennial Temple, and in the midst of that tour, He says, "Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever..."

I think it is also significant to note that the prophet Ezekiel states that when the Lord returns, the name of the city of Jerusalem will be changed to "Yahweh-Shammah," meaning "The Lord is there."


Understanding Prophecy

A knowledge of Old Testament prophecy is particularly necessary to the understanding of New Testament prophecy. Revelation and Daniel fit together like a hand in a glove. Neither one can be understood apart from the other.

The book of Revelation contains more than 300 quotes or references to Old Testament passages, and not a single one is identified. A person without knowledge of the Old Testament could read the book of Revelation and never realize how interlaced it is with Old Testament prophecy. Consider the theme of the book that is found in Revelation 1:7 —

Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.

This statement is made up of two quotes from the Old Testament put end-to-end. The first is found in Daniel 7:13 and the second in Zechariah 12:10.


The Significance of the Old Testament

The Apostle Paul emphasized the importance of the Old Testament when he wrote the following words to Timothy:

...from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15).

Most Christians read these words and assume that Timothy must have had a New Testament that he studied from. Not so. The New Testament had not yet been written and compiled when Paul addressed these words to Timothy. When Paul referred to "the sacred writings," he was talking about what we call today the Old Testament. And the point he was making is that Jesus' fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies about His First Coming was sufficient to produce faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah.

Paul proceeded in that letter to Timothy to state that "all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness..." (2 Timothy 3:16). The term, "all scripture," means exactly what it says. It refers to both the New Testament and the Old Testament.


Evangelism Based on the Old Testament

The very first Gospel sermon ever preached — Peter's sermon on Pentecost — was based entirely on Old Testament prophecies. All Peter did from the beginning of the sermon to the end was to quote an Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah and then proclaim that Jesus had fulfilled it (Acts 2:14-36).

Phillip the evangelist took the same approach when he was confronted with the Ethiopian eunuch, a devout Jew who had been to Jerusalem to observe the feasts and was returning home to Africa (Acts 8:26-39). He discovered that the man was reading an Old Testament passage from Isaiah about the Messiah coming as a "suffering lamb" (Isaiah 53:1-9).

Phillip explained the passage to the Ethiopian, and the man accepted the fact that Jesus had fulfilled it. In response, he was baptized. He then continued on his way, rejoicing that he had found the Messiah.


In the next part of this series on the Millennium in the Old Testament, we'll look at the Messianic prophecies found in the book of Isaiah.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Millennium in the Old Testament: Reckless Spiritualization

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

The Amillennial viewpoint of end time Bible prophecy is the majority view within the Church today — held by both the Catholic church and most mainline Protestant denominations.

Amillennialists are those who believe that Jesus is currently reigning over all the world from Heaven through the Church. They therefore believe that we are in the Millennium now — that it began at the Cross and will continue until the Second Coming. They do not believe that Jesus will ever return to this earth to reign from Jerusalem.

To sustain their viewpoint, Amillennialists must spiritualize most end time prophecies, arguing that they do not mean what they say. Thus, for example, they dismiss the fact that in Revelation 20 we are told six times that the Millennium will last 1,000 years. Amillennialists reject the thousand years as being "figurative in nature," meaning only a long period of time.

One interesting thing I have noticed over the years about Amillennialists is that they have little or no knowledge of the end time prophecies contained in the Hebrew Scriptures. Most Amillennialists I have encountered believe that the only place in the Bible that the Millennium is mentioned is Revelation 20.


A Personal Experience

Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. Several years ago I was invited to make a presentation to a very large Christian convention. Specifically, I was asked to speak on the topic, "Why I Believe Jesus Will Return to Reign on the Earth."

I was told I would have 30 minutes to make the presentation. When I asked why I was being allotted such a short period of time, I was told, "It's because there is going to be another speaker who will tell why he does not believe there will be a future reign of Jesus on the earth. Each of you will speak 30 minutes, and then there will be 30 minutes for questions and answers."

I accepted the invitation. The other speaker turned out to be a distinguished professor of theology from a Bible College.

I knew my audience would be made up of people who believed that a future reign of Jesus on this earth is mentioned only one place in the Bible — in Revelation 20. So, I decided to spend all my time talking about one passage in the Old Testament — the prophecy contained in Zechariah 14:1-9.

This prophecy states that a day will come when Jerusalem will be surrounded by enemy forces. Half the city will fall, and then the Lord will return to the Mount of Olives. When His feet touch the mountain, it will split in half, and the Jewish remnant will flee from the city and hide in the cleavage of the mountain. The Lord will then speak a supernatural word, and all the enemy forces will be instantly destroyed. And at that point, "...the Lord will be king over all the earth" (verse 9).

The other speaker, who followed me, totally ignored my presentation. He read an academic paper based on the opinions of theologians and not the Scriptures.

When the time came for questions, the other speaker was asked, "What is your explanation of Zechariah 14:1-9?" His exact words in response were, "I have no idea what that passage means, but I can assure you that it has been fulfilled somewhere at sometime."


A Strange Doctrine

I was not surprised by his bizarre response because I had grown up among the churches which were hosting the conference, and I was very familiar with their attitude about Old Testament prophecies.

In their attempt to defend their Amillennial viewpoint, they had developed a doctrine which stated that "all Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled." To justify that assertion, they always pointed to the words of Jesus recorded in Luke 24:44 —

These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.

The problem with using this passage to justify their dismissal of Old Testament prophecy is that it does not say that all Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled. It says they must be fulfilled. The First Coming prophecies have been fulfilled. The Second Coming prophecies are yet to be fulfilled, and Zechariah 14:1-9 is one of those prophecies.


Reckless Spiritualization

At least my opponent did not spiritualize the passage, as most Amillennialists do. Take, for example, the 20th Century theologian Lorraine Bettner. In his book, The Millennium, he argued that the Mount of Olives is a symbol of the human heart. The enemy forces are a symbol of the evil in the world attacking the heart. When a person receives Jesus as Lord and Savior, He comes into their heart, causing the heart to split in repentance. He then defeats all the enemy forces and begins to reign over that person's heart.

This, of course, is an utterly ridiculous interpretation of this passage, but it represents the kind of games that Amillennialists have to play with the Scriptures in order to sustain their position.

In summary, Amillennialists either ignore the Old Testament passages about the Second Coming and the Millennium, or they spiritualize them, or they argue they have already been fulfilled.


A Major Spiritual Problem

But the bottom line is that most Amillennialists simply do not know the Old Testament Scriptures, and this is a major problem in the Church today because it affects not only prophecy but all doctrine.

I grew up in what was called a "New Testament Church." We focused all our Bible study on the New Testament because we were taught that the Old Testament had been "nailed to the Cross" and was therefore no longer valid. Most of us did not own a complete Bible. When we went to a Bible study, we took our New Testaments.

The idea that the Old Testament had been "nailed to the Cross," and was no longer relevant was based on a statement in Colossians 2:14 which reads, "...having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the Cross." This verse is speaking of a "certificate of debt," not the Old Testament. It is talking about the debt we owed God for our sins. By taking our sins upon Himself, Jesus, who was sinless, paid our debt through His crucifixion (1 Peter 2:24).


In the next part of this series on the Millennium in the Old Testament, we'll look at why the Old Testament is vitally relevant for the Church today and our understanding of Bible prophecy.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

God's Timing

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

The May/June 2012 issue of our Lamplighter magazine focused on the decay of society, and we featured the current epidemic of homosexuality as evidence of the moral collapse of our society. The issue started arriving at homes about three days before President Obama made his infamous endorsement of same-sex marriage. Immediately people started calling and expressing their amazement over the timeliness of our subject matter.

The credit for that should go to God and His leading of us through His Holy Spirit. Because we were obedient to that leading, we were able to supply a lot of valuable biblical information that pastors all across America could use in sermons. We were as astonished by the perfect timing as were those who contacted us!

Of course, the main issue of timing that we address constantly is the return of Jesus. It is our conviction that we are definitely living in the season of the Lord's return. We do not believe there is a single prophecy that must be fulfilled for the Lord to return.

People sometime point to Matthew 24:14 where Jesus said "this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world... and then the end will come." There are two things that must be remembered about this prophecy. First, it refers to the Second Coming and not the Rapture. The Rapture (the Lord's appearing for His Church) can occur any moment, whereas there are many prophecies that must be fulfilled before the Lord returns to this earth in what we call "The Second Coming."

Second, Jesus' prophecy will not be fulfilled until the end of the Tribulation when God will send forth an angel who will circumnavigate the globe, proclaiming the gospel to every living person (Revelation 14:6).

As I have said many times before, and as I will continue to say, "We are living on borrowed time!" I know that for certain, not because God has given me any special prophetic revelation, but because the Bible gives us signs to watch for, and those signs are everywhere we look today, crying out from the heavens, "Jesus is returning soon!"

The future has arrived. The ancient end time prophecies are being fulfilled before our eyes. The time is short, and the tragedy is that the Church is asleep, being led by men more interested in church growth than in preparing their people for Jesus to appear in the heavens at any moment. Worst yet are those Church leaders who are openly scoffing at the idea of the Lord's imminent return, arguing instead that the Church must first win the world to Christ and then reign for a thousand years before the Lord can return.

Satan does not want anyone to know that Jesus is standing at the very gates of Heaven waiting for His Father's command to step out on a cloud and return for His Church. And those who are proclaiming that message are under constant attack.

Pray for us to stand firm and to never waver in fulfilling the Lord's call for us to proclaim the soon return of Jesus to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

Maranatha! (1 Corinthians 16:22)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Jesus in the Old Testament

Nathan JonesPDFBy

"Was the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament also Jesus?" - Amelia in Texas

The Angel of the Lord referred to in the Old Testament was indeed Jesus Christ. This was Jesus' title and form before He came to Earth to be born as a human being. The Angel of the Lord was Jesus' preincarnate state, meaning who and what He was before manifesting Himself in human form.


Existence Before His Birth

We know according to the Gospels that Jesus existed before He was born of a virgin because the Bible teaches that Jesus is actually God Himself. The following verses bear witness to the fact that Jesus existed before His incarnation as a man.

In John 8:58, Jesus declared that He existed before the Patriarch Abraham was ever alive, and that was almost 1,800 years earlier: "'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!'"

John the Baptist's message included a verification in John 1:15 that Jesus, who was a few months younger than John in birth order, existed before John was even ever conceived: "John testifies concerning Him. He cries out, saying, 'This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.'"

One of the best verses demonstrating Jesus' pre-existence can be found in John 17:5 where Jesus declared that He existed even before the creation of the universe: "And now, Father, glorify Me in your presence with the glory I had with You before the world began."

Again, the Lamb shown in Revelation 13:8, where Lamb is another name given to Jesus, is said to have existed before the Creation: "The book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world."

We even know from John 10:30 that Jesus had no beginning for He flat out declared that He was one with the Father and so shared God's eternal attributes: "I and the Father are one."


Old Testament Activity

The Bible gives the reader many indicators that the Angel of the Lord wasn't just an angel, or even a specially designated angel, but God Himself. We know this because when the Angel of the Lord interacted with people in the Old Testament they treated Him with the reverence due only to God.

Notice for instance the switch between "Angel of the Lord" and "LORD" in Judges 6:11-24. In this Old Testament story, the budding judge Gideon is greeted by the Angel of the Lord. Verse 11 tells that in a very human fashion, and indeed probably looking just like a human, the Angel of the Lord sat down under an oak tree and struck up a conversation with Gideon. Gideon then asked why the Lord had not fulfilled the wonders God promised the people of Israel that he was waiting for. The reaction was that "the LORD [Yahweh, the name of God] turned to him" and replied, which identifies the Angel as God Himself.

Gideon later that day brought food to the Angel of the Lord whose staff consumed it by fire, followed by a suddenly dramatic disappearance. Gideon's terrified reply to such a wondrous sight in verse 22 was, "Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the Angel of the LORD face to face!" Gideon feared dying due to seeing the living God. Absent in form but still clearly present, the Lord in verse 23, with just His disembodied voice, replied back, "Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die." Clearly, this angel was no angel at all, but the Lord God Himself.

There are many other Old Testament visits from the Angel of the Lord in which the recipients of the visit gave the title and honor due only to God. Hagar called the Angel of the Lord "LORD," "God," and "One" in Genesis 16:7-13. Jesus appeared to Abraham when the three men visited in Genesis 18, to Jacob whom He wrestled in Genesis 32:22-31, and to Manoah to give the promise of a son named Samson in Judges 13:2-6.

The Angel of the Lord even declared Himself to be God from the burning bush to Moses in Exodus 3:2-6 with the use of the title "I Am." Jesus later claimed that title for Himself in John 8:58. Jesus by saying He was "I Am" was making the awesome claim that He was the great Yahweh, or as we know Him today, as Jehovah God.


Another Member of the Trinity?

Couldn't the Angel of the Lord have been Father God or the Holy Spirit instead of Jesus?

Among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who all make up the Trinity, the Father after the Fall wouldn't be seen without causing the death of the onlooker, such as when God told the Israelites not to approach His mountain or they would surely die (Ex. 19:12). The Father today remains physically separated from sinful mankind until believers are reunited with Him in Heaven and are no longer beholden to our sin nature.

And, when the Holy Spirit interacted in the Old Testament, He was always spiritual in form to empower a chosen individual, like giving super strength to Samson or the gift of prophecy to King Saul.

When human form was needed, the second person of the Trinity — Jesus Christ — in His preincarnate form fulfilled that role as the Angel of the Lord.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Workers Praise By Proverbs

Nathan JonesPDFBy

Tucked along with the teachings of King Solomon, considered according to the Bible the wisest of the ancient Israelite kings, is an oracle from the mother of King Lemuel of Massa. The wisdom of Solomon produced a golden era for his nation, and by his great business sense the country reached its peak in trade, building and production. Truly Lemuel's mother's teaching on the ultimate definition of the wife of noble character must have made a great impression on such an accomplished leader like Solomon, for he included the truth of her teaching to echo across the generations as the inspired words of Proverbs 31.

The wise business leader of today should apply the excellent characteristics of the noble wife as setting the bar for what they and their employees should emulate. The wise leader will in turn respond to the success of their employee in praise as those reciprocate to the woman of Proverbs 31:10-31. As verse 31 reads, "Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."

What defines the character of the noble wife? She is known for being compassionate to the poor and generous to needy. She plans ahead for all troubles and contingencies. She is both professional in her manner and reflects that in her appearance. She is known for her strength of fortitude. Her bearing is full of dignity. Her vault of wisdom flows to others in her teachings. She manages smartly her affairs, and no one every finds her idle. The woman's nobility of character derives from a reverent fear and respect for God.

The noble wife is also a businesswoman at heart. The passage describes her superior level of productivity. She shows great discernment in choosing the right products. Her hands are eager to work, and she gathers over the long hours from early morning to late at night. She's known not just for providing for her family but for her employees as well. The woman is learned in buying and selling. She adds to what her husband earns. She's known as a vigorous worker with the strength and skill to be a profitable trader.

The honorable character of this woman inevitably brings honor to her husband. He has full confidence in her, knowing he'll lack nothing of value while she manages the family affairs. She's known for bringing good and not harm to all around her, and her fortitude remains all the days of her life. In summary, the noble character of this woman drives her to be the best in all her endeavors, and all those around her benefit as well from her toil.

A modern day example of a woman seeking to attain to be this Proverbs 31 woman is Salina Johnson — wife, mother of three boys, and owner of the Princeton Events Center. She puts God first as the center of her life, supporting her husband as the spiritual leader of the family and raises her boys to live in faith. When not managing the household, she puts long hours building her community center and has become known as a pillar in the Princeton community.

Because the family and business community benefit from her hard work, she is naturally due respect. A wise husband and employer would do well to follow Lemuel's mother's advice and give the appropriate respect earned. As affirmation is part of the human condition, praise becomes the consummate reward for a job well done. As former dean of the Regent University School of Business' Michael Zigarelli explains, "God does not regard praising employees as optional... praise is something earned and as such, something owed by faithful managers to their worthy employees (Zigarelli, 2008, p. 276). Godly wisdom produces noble character, noble character produces hard work, hard work produces profitability both tangible and intangible, and the final result deserves "praise at the city gate."


Notes

Zigarelli, M. (2008). Management by Proverbs: Scriptural Wisdom for Superior Results. United States of America: Xulon Press.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Merkel Speaks Out for a Political European Union

[Editor's Note: August Rosado is a Bible prophecy teacher, preacher and founder of a ministry called Today in Bible Prophecy. Having a passion for all things Jewish, he can be found traveling the country preaching about the soon return of Jesus Christ.

I found his following article fascinating in that he speculates on what nations the three "horns" of Daniel 7 that the Antichrist will one day uproot could be. While we cannot know for sure in this age the identity of those nations, the scenario he mentions makes one ponder. Thank you to August for allowing us to reproduce his article below!]


August Rosado


Three Horns Uprooted

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will push for a political European Union (EU) when EU leaders meet at the end of the month, giving more powers to the EU in Brussels, Belgium.

She called not only for a single currency union, but also a fiscal union as well. She emphasized a strong political European Union, and said that member nations in the EU must give up more and more powers to Brussels for a stronger future union. Merkel wants to see the EU have more oversight possibilities.

Merkel called for all 27 member states to cooperate with the EU for a stronger and more powerful EU for the future. With the cooperation of the 27 member States, she said it would be a two speed step for the EU in terms of a strong economic integration.

The EU leaders will meet at month's end to determine the status of Greece in the EU during the elections which are taking place in Greece. Greece, Ireland, and France are on shaky ground in the EU and the talks will determine their future standing.

EU officials are working on a plan to integrate and increase the EU Banking system that will ensure for the future their single currency of the Euro. The EU sees Greece, Ireland, and France as a thorn in the flesh to the success of their currency.

What's interesting is that the move to give more powers to the EU is an attempt to keep member states fiscally responsible, and to keep their budgets in order in the future, and to avoid the financial problems of current member states. Some have said this move will expose fault lines in other member states and possibly lead to future evictions from the EU membership.

France has been reluctant to give over power to the EU Commission, and Greece and Ireland continue to have financial woes. Could it be that the EU will "cut it's losses"? Only time will tell as we keep a close eye on the EU.


Daniel's Visions of Empires

According to Bible prophecy, there will be an emergence of a future Revived Roman Empire that will produce ten strong global nations. These nations will give authority and global rule to the Antichrist when he comes on the scene sometime after the Church has been removed at the Rapture.

Daniel chapter 2 and chapter 7 reveals the prophecy of this future revived Roman Empire. In Daniel 2, God reveals to King Nebechadnezzar a great image that disturbs him. This image pretty much spells the end of his empire and the emergence of other world empires (Dan. 2:31-33).


Nebechadnezzar's Dream

The book of Daniel is divided into what I will call "three linguistic areas."

From Daniel chapter 1 to chapter 2:45, the text is in Hebrew. I believe it is because the story is about Daniel and his three Jewish counterparts: Hannaniah, Azariah, and Mishael. You probably know them better by their pagan Babylonian names: Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego.

From Daniel Daniel 2:46 to chapter 7:28, the text changes from Hebrew to Aramaic, the language of the Gentile world. The reason for this I believe is that God is showing His future program for the Gentile nations of the world.

However, from Daniel 8:1 to chapter 12:13, the text changes back to Hebrew. Why? Because God is now showing His future program for Israel and the Jewish people.

The image that Nebechadnezzar saw and it's body parts would represent world empires. Those empires would be:

  • Head of gold (Babylon)
  • Breast and arms of silver (Medes, Persians)
  • Belly and thighs of brass (Greece)
  • Legs of iron (Rome)
  • Feet of iron and clay (Future Revived Roman Empire)

Some fifty years after Nebechadnezzar's dream, Daniel had a vision of four beast. Like Nebechadnezzar's dream, Daniel also saw a succession of world empires, but in the form of animals, recorded in Daniel 7: 1-7:

  • Lion (Babylon)
  • Bear (Medes-Persians)
  • Leopard (Greece)
  • Unidentified Beast (Rome)

The forth beast is called "dreadful and terrible" and has great iron teeth. This would be a description of the ancient Roman Empire which ceased to be an empire in 476 A.D. However, out of the ashes of the ruins of the ancient Roman Empire, Daniel also sees the revival of the Roman Empire.


The Beasts of Daniel 7

Out of this future revived Roman Empire, Daniel sees "ten toes" or what he will later call "ten horns" (Dan. 7:7,20,24). I believe that the European Union today fits this description of Daniel's Revived Roman Empire and what was seen by John in the book of Revelation.


Reviving the Roman Empire

When the EU first was formed a spokesperson for the EU by the name of Paul Henri Spaak made a statement in 1957 that even today sends shockwaves among students of Bible prophecy. He said, "What we want is a man of sufficient stature to hold the alliances of all people and to lift us out of the economic morass into which we are sinking. Send us such a man, and be he god or devil, we will receive him."


Paul Henri Spaak

The EU in all of it's advertising uses the Tower of Babel as it's logo with their motto, "Many tongues, one voice." What's even more remarkable is that the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium today was constructed to look like the Tower of Babel.


EU Tower of Babel

In Revelation 17:3, John sees a woman sitting upon a scarlet colored beast, having seven heads and ten horns. The same ten horns we read about in Daniel we now see in Revelation. The woman is the false Church that sits on a seven-hilled city called Rome (Rev. 17:9). This false Church will have a close association with the Antichrist.

What is even more remarkable is that the sculpture standing in front of the EU headquarters is a woman riding a beast. This is not some coincidence; this is a "God-incidence." This is Bible prophecy being fulfilled right before our eyes! These ten horns are also found in Revelation 12:3; 13:1; 17:3,7,12,16. John and Daniel are on the same page literally in describing a ten nation EU Confederacy.


Woman Riding Beast

With the 27 member nations in the EU, it will shrink to 13, and then three will be eliminated (Dan. 7:24). Could that be the nations that are weakening the EU now — France, Ireland and Greece — leaving a final ten nation EU Revived Roman Empire? I believe that could be the case.


EU Flag

Jesus will return to this earth at His Second Coming and will destroy this final Gentile world empire (Dan. 2:34; Rev. 19:19-20). I believe the stage is set for these future prophecies to be fulfilled with these recent developments in the European Union. And, I believe the next event to happen soon is the Rapture of the Church.

Maranatha!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Quick Q&A: Is the Bible the Inspired Word of God?

Nathan JonesPDFBy

Is the Bible the inspired Word of God?

This question came in from Bridget of Tennessee who wrote asking: "My friend and I have had multiple discussions about the authenticity of the Bible. I believe the Bible to be the inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God. She does not. What references can I use to explain and prove the Bible is inspired?"


Quick Answer

I'd begin by explaining to your friend that one of the proofs that the Bible indeed is the inspired Word of God is that there has been no book like the Bible ever made in existence.

The Bible is actually comprised of 66 books written over 1,500 years by more than 40 human authors from various backgrounds and places. It was written in three languages — Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. Despite that multiple authors wrote in their own styles, it is easy to tell they were guided by Holy Spirit because of the unity of theme across all 66 books in the Bible (2 Pet. 1:20,21; 2 Tim. 3:16,17). That theme being the unfolding of the story of God's plan of salvation for mankind through Jesus Christ.

The Bible is also without recording error. The Old Testament books we have today can be verified as accurate translations by comparing them to the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are copies from about 2,100 years ago. In making copies over the centuries, the priests recording conditions were so strict that if they made one misprint the whole copy had to be thrown out.

No historical document has so many copies of parts of the Bible (5,500 to be exact) so closely dated to the original writings. We don't doubt Homer wrote the Odyssey, and yet the oldest existing copy of the Odyssey was copied 2,200 years after it was originally written. In comparison, the earliest fragments of the Bible we have today dates only at 120 A.D., with complete copies such as the Codex Vaticanus from 325 A.D. and the Codex Sinaiticus rom 350 A.D. The closest book to match the Bible in the way of near original copies is Homer's Illiad with 643 copies dated still nearly 500 years after Homer lived.

Archaeological finds such as the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls support every historical reference in the Bible. And, many more discoveries are found each and every day that continue to prove the Bible's historical accounts as accurate history.

Secondly, the Bible's events were testified to by those who were its own critics, like King Festus (Acts 26:24-26), the historian Josephus, and Romans like Tacitus.

Thirdly, a relationship with Christ changes lives. When people read the Bible, they learn about God's plan for salvation — Jesus Christ. When they accept Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives, a radical transformation occurs in the way they live. Millions of lives have been radically changed by reading the Bible.

And, fourthly, we can trust that what the Bible teachings about God is the real deal because Bible prophecy has been fulfilled 100% of the time. Prophecy in the Bible has a perfect track record! For example, in the Old Testament alone there are 300 general and 109 specific prophecies concerning the First Coming of the Messiah, and 500 prophecies concerning His upcoming Second Coming. Jesus fulfilled all 300 First Coming prophecies.

Mathematicians have figured the possibility of just eight of those 300 prophesies being fulfilled in the life of one man has a probability of 1 in 10 to the 17th power. That would be equal to covering Texas in two feet deep of coins, blindfolding a person, dropping them into Texas, and they find just one marked coin on the first try. Such odds are astronomically impossible, but not if the Bible is truly God's word.

We can therefore trust that the Bible is the one true and inspired revelation of God, and put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ.


Resources

For a ton more proofs on the inspiration of the Bible, I'd recommend books like Inerrancy by Norman Geisler, and anything by Josh McDowell like Don't Check Your Brains at the Door and Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Dr. Ron Rhodes has many great proofs concerning the Bible at ronrhodes.org. In discussions with Atheists, Ray Comfort recently wrote a helpful book titled You Can Lead an Atheist to Water, But You Can't Make Him Think.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Church in the End Times: Hope and Exhortation

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

There is much talk going around these days about how unified, triumphant and glorious the Church will be in the end times right before the return of Jesus, but it does not correspond with the state that the Church is in today characterized by apostasy, heresy, cultism, and worldliness. Because the Bible says these characteristics will define the end time Church, the Church will come under judgment. But, there is hope.


The Latter Rain

Is there any good news about the Church in prophecy? Yes, there is. The incredibly good news is that the Bible prophesies a great pouring out of God's Spirit in the end times to empower those who are receptive to stand against the onslaught of Satan.

The prophecy is found in Joel 2:28-30. Because this prophecy was quoted by Peter in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost to explain the phenomenon of tongues (Acts 2:14-21), many have assumed that it was fulfilled on that day. That assumption is erroneous.

The context before the passage (verses 18-27) makes it clear that there will be two outpourings of the Spirit (the "early and latter rain") and that the final outpouring will occur after the Jews are regathered to their land and re-established as a nation. Also, the context after the passage (verses 31 & 32) indicates clearly that the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy will occur at the time of the Second Coming.

We have been in the period of the "latter rain" ever since the re-establishment of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948. The Spirit is being poured out, and the gifts of the spirit are being manifest in a way unparalleled since the First Century. The praise and worship of the Tabernacle of David are also being restored to the Church to further empower it for spiritual warfare.

This great anointing of the Spirit is producing a remnant that is immersed in the Word, committed to righteousness, crucified to self, dedicate to prayer, surrendered in worship, zealous for evangelism and yearning for the soon return of Jesus. It is this remnant that will usher in the Lord's return on a cloud of praise.


A Modern Day Prophecy Concerning the Church

Printed below is an excerpt from a prophecy given by the late Stanley Frodsham, former editor of the Pentecostal Evangel. The prophecy was delivered at the Elim Bible Institute Summer Camp Meeting in 1965.

"When I visit My people in mighty revival power, it is to prepare them for the darkness ahead...Take heed to yourselves lest you be puffed up and think that you have arrived. Many shall be puffed up as in the olden days...
Listen to the messengers, but do not hold men's persons in admiration. For many whom I shall anoint mightily, with signs and miracles, shall become lifted up and shall fall by the wayside. I do not do this willingly; I have made provision that they might stand. I call many into this ministry and equip them; but remember that many shall fall. They shall be like bright lights, and people shall delight in them. But they shall be taken over by deceiving spirits and shall lead many of My people away.
Hearken diligently concerning these things, for in the last days shall come seducing spirits that shall turn many of My anointed ones away. Many shall fall through divers lusts and because of sin abounding...
I warn you to search the Scriptures diligently concerning these last days, for the things that are written shall indeed be made manifest. There shall come deceivers among My people in increasing numbers who shall speak for the truth and shall gain the favor of the people. For the people shall examine the Scriptures and say, 'What these men say is true.' Then when they have gained the hearts of the people, then and then only shall they bring out these wrong doctrines. Therefore, I say that you should not give your hearts to men, nor hold people's persons in admiration. For by these very persons shall Satan enter into My people. Watch for seducers!
Be not deceived, for the deceiver will first work to gain the hearts of many, and then he shall bring forth his insidious doctrines. You cannot discern those that are of Me and those that are not of Me when they start to preach. But seek Me constantly, and then when these doctrines are brought out you shall have a witness in your heart that these are not of Me.
The minister of righteousness shall be on this wise: his life shall agree with the word and his lips shall give forth that which is wholly true, and it will be no mixture. When the mixture appears, then you will know he is not a minister of righteousness. The deceivers speak first the truth and then error to cover their own sins which they love...
I desire you to be firmly established in My Word and not in the personalities of men that you will not be moved as so many shall be moved... Diligently inquire of Me when you hear something that you have not seen in the Word, and do not hold people's persons in admiration, for it is by this very method that Satan will destroy many of My people."

An interesting thing about this prophecy is that it was published in Jimmy Swaggart's magazine, The Evangelist, in October 1987. Later on, the problems encountered in his life and ministry were to serve as a partial fulfillment of the prophecy.

The message is clear. We must all be on guard spiritually. None of us is immune to deception. Everything must be tested by the Word. If a doctrine fails the test of Scripture, it is to be rejected, regardless of who is teaching it. Our trust is to be placed in the Word and not in men.

We must stop chasing after men and miracles. A fixation on either will result in deception. False teachers can appear as angels of light. Miracles can be performed by the power of Satan. Our eyes are to be fixed on Jesus, and Him only. Our authority in all things is to be His Word.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Church in the End Times: Confusion and Worldliness

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

There is much talk going around these days about how unified, triumphant and glorious the Church will be in the end times right before the return of Jesus, but it does not correspond with what the Bible prophesies. Already we've looked at how apostasy and cultism have ravished Christ's Bride, now we'll look at the third and fourth set of prophecies that characterize the Church in the end times.


Confusion

A third group of prophecies indicate that in the end times the Church will be assailed by doctrinal error. These are doctrines that do not damn the soul but which confuse and weaken the spirit.

In II Timothy 4:3-4, Paul says: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths." There are many popular myths in Christendom today that either rob people of the power of their faith or else deceive them into practicing a presumptuous faith.

Among Fundamentalists there is a myth that God retired in the First Century and that with Him went all manifestations of the supernatural, including angels, demons, spiritual gifts, and miracles. Among Charismatics the doctrinal abuses have been epidemic, including the following myths:

  1. Faith is to be placed in your faith and not in God.
  2. It is always God's will to heal.
  3. The believer has the authority of Jesus.
  4. It is God's desire that believers be financially prosperous.
  5. Believers can have what they want through positive confession.

The winds of doctrine (Eph. 4:14) are blowing through the Church at gale force and believers are being tossed here and there by the waves, all in the fulfillment of prophecy.


Worldliness

A fourth characteristic prophesied about the Church in the end times is that it will be compromised and corrupted by worldliness. The prophetic picture of this worldly church is found in Revelation 3:14-22, where the church at Laodicea is described.

The seven churches depicted in Revelation 2 and 3 are symbolic of seven periods of church history. The church at Laodicea, the last to be presented, is representative of the type of church that will prevail in Christendom at the end of the Church Age.

The picture is a pathetic one. The Church is apathetic, neither hot nor cold. The apathy is a product of the Church's adoption of a worldly attitude expressed in the words, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing." Jesus responds with a scathing rebuke: "You don not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked."

In fulfillment of this prophecy, our churches today are filled with cultural Christians who have accepted Jesus as Savior but not as Lord. They are schizophrenic Christians who walk with one foot in the Church and the other in the world. They are carnal Christians who shout "Hallelujah!" on the weekend but who live like pagans during the week. They are greedy Christians in pursuit of health, wealth, and power. The Cross and its message of sacrifice is as offensive to them as it is to the world.


Judgment

Because of the apostasy, heresy, cultism, and worldliness that the Bible says will characterize the end time Church, the Bible prophesies that the Church will come under judgment. In Revelation 3:19 Jesus says to the church at Laodicea, "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline."

The glitzy, overindulgent church of the last few decaces is now tasting the judgment of God. Sin is being exposed. Religious empires are being dismantled. The Lord is calling us from the Cadillac to the Cross. Through discipline, the Spirit is motivating us to humility, righteousness and holiness.

Judgment has begun in the House of the Lord, where it always begins (Ezek. 9:6 and I Peter 4:17). The Lord is disciplining His Church as a prelude to the pouring out of His wrath upon the world.


In the third and last part of this series on the Church in prophecy, we'll look with hope at what good news there is about the Church in the end times and conclude with an exhortation.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Church in the End Times: Apostasy and Cultism

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

There is much talk going around these days about how unified, triumphant and glorious the Church will be in the end times right before the return of Jesus. This pollyanna image of the Church is certainly attractive, but it does not correspond with what the Bible prophesies.


Apostasy

The picture of the Church in the end times that is portrayed in the Bible is not a very pretty one. For one thing, the Bible prophecies that the Church will be racked by apostasy. Jesus prophesied that "many will fall away" (Matt. 24:10). Likewise, Paul said the Anti-Christ cannot be revealed until "the great apostasy" takes place (II Thess. 2:3).

Paul reveals the source of the apostasy in II Timothy 3:5 — "Men will hold to form of religion but will deny its power." The fulfillment of this prophecy began in the 1920's with the ascendancy of the German School of Higher Criticism. This school of thought, which quickly swept American seminaries, advocated that the Bible should be approached like any other piece of literature — with a critical eye. The concepts of the special inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible were rejected. The Bible came to be viewed as Man's search for God rather than God's revelation to Man. As a human product, it was considered to be full of myth, legend, and superstition.

This assault on the integrity of God's Word opened the floodgates of apostasy. Before long Christian theologians and ministers were laughing about the virgin birth of Jesus, discounting His miracles, casting doubt on His resurrection, and flatly denying His second coming.

As the uniqueness of Jesus was downplayed, many denominations began to embrace the damnable doctrine of Universalism. And that is where we are today, caught up in the midst of a gross apostasy which says, "Believe what you want. The important thing is to be sincere. There are many roads to God." All of which makes a liar of Jesus who said: "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:16). The result is that there are a lot of sincere people who are sincerely going to Hell.


Cultism

A second set of prophecies warn that the Church will be assaulted by cultic deception in the end times. Jesus emphasized this point repeatedly in His Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:5, 11 & 24). And Paul underlined it in the strongest possible language when he wrote: "The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons" (I Tim. 4:1).

The fulfillment of these prophecies began in the 19th Century with the rise of Mormonism and its demonic teaching that Jesus is the brother of Lucifer, one of thousands of Gods created by the super god, Adam, an exalted man. The Jehovah's Witnesses were next on the scene with their perverted teaching that Jesus is the Archangel Michael.

This century has witnessed the rapid multiplication of the cults, just as prophesied. Today, life long Christians who do not know why they believe what they profess to believe are being sucked into the cults by the tens of thousands.

Equally appalling is the direct penetration of the Church by cultic doctrine. Well known Christian leaders are advocating the ancient Shamanistic practice of visualization as the key to prayer. Others are teaching one of Satan's oldest lies — that those who have been born again are "little gods."

The latest cultic fad is the concept of Satanic salvation; namely, that we do not owe our salvation to the blood Jesus shed on the Cross but rather to some imaginary torment which He suffered at the hands of Satan for three days in Hell. And then, of course, there is Masonry, the oldest form of cultic penetration of the Church, with its secret blood oaths, its works salvation, and its Universalism.

The degree of cultic penetration into the Church is perhaps best illustrated by two recent events.

Not long ago the number one rated "Christian" televangelist in America served as the main speaker for the dedication of the new international headquarters of the Unity Church. The Unity Church is a classic cult that teaches reincarnation and denigrates the uniqueness of Jesus by advocating that the Christ potential resides in each of us. That same televangelist continues to hold church growth seminars for the Unity Church.

Meanwhile, one of the leading Charismatic spokesmen in America has called for Christians to embrace the Mormons!


In the next part of this series on the Church in prophecy, we'll look at the third and fourth set of prophecies that characterize the Church in the end times.

Monday, June 11, 2012

What Type of Christian Are You? Take the Test!

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

What type of Christian are you? Cultural? Born Again? Evangelical?

Cultural? — A Barna Group research survey revealed that America's churches are full of cultural Christians. Such people have grown up in Christianity, they attend church regularly, and they profess to be Christians. What distinguishes them from other Christians is their lack of a personal relationship with Jesus. In short, they are Christians in name only because they have never been born again.

Former President Jimmy Carter was the one who made American's conscious of the term "born again Christian." That is the label he applied to himself in 1976 when he was campaigning for the presidency. I remember how many Christian leaders rushed to the press to proclaim that they were not "one of those born again types." I found their protestations very interesting in view of the fact that Jesus Himself said that no one can enter Heaven unless they are born again (John 3:3).

The cultural Christian is just that — a person who considers himself to be a Christian because he has been raised in a Christian culture. Al Gore is a good example. He was raised in a Southern Baptist heritage, but during his presidential campaign, he made it clear that Christianity was only his "faith heritage" and nothing more. The cultural Christian, if he has any commitment at all, is committed to religion or a church, and not to Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. Such a person is unsaved.

Born Again? — The Barna Group defines the next step up as the "born again Christian." These are people who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and who believe that salvation is dependent upon their relationship with Jesus. These people are saved.

Evangelical? — Barna defines the highest level of Christian commitment to be the "evangelical Christian." This is a born again person who strongly holds to certain fundamental biblical truths. Only 7% of Americans qualify as evangelicals, as opposed to 41% who could be classified as born again.

What are you? Could you qualify as an evangelical Christian? Take the test below to find out!


"What Type of Christian are You?" Test

  1. The universe was originally created by God.
    True/False


  2. There are some crimes or sins which people might commit which cannot be forgiven by God.
    True/False


  3. You, personally, have a responsibility to tell other people your religious beliefs.
    True/False


  4. Angels exist and influence people's lives.
    True/False


  5. The Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves.
    True/False


  6. When He lived on earth, Jesus was human and committed sins.
    True/False


  7. The Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings.
    True/False


  8. It doesn't matter what religious faith you follow because they all teach the same lessons.
    True/False


  9. The whole idea of sin is outdated.
    True/False


  10. All people will experience the same outcome after death, regardless of their religious beliefs.
    True/False


  11. If a person is generally good, or does enough good things for others, they will earn a place in Heaven.
    True/False


  12. The devil, or Satan, is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.
    True/False


  13. After He was crucified and died, Jesus did not return to life physically.
    True/False


  14. The Holy Spirit is a symbol of God's presence or power but is not a living entity.
    True/False


Biblical Answers

1) True; 2) False (True if considering blasphemying the Holy Spirit — Matt. 12:32); 3) True; 4) True; 5) False; 6) False; 7) True; 8) False; 9) False; 10) False; 11) False; 12) False; 13) False; 14) False


Results

Good News — The Americans who were polled, whether Christian or not, strongly agreed on three biblical points.

  1. Almost 75% agreed that God created the universe — an incredible number when you consider all the evolutionist propaganda we are bombarded with daily.

  2. Almost 70% rejected the idea that sin is an outdate concept — another incredible response when you consider the "different strokes for different folks" mentality that seems to predominate today.

  3. Not surprisingly, 50% stated that they believed in the reality of angels and their influence (I guess we can thank old shows like "Touched by an Angel" and "Highway to Heaven").

Bad News — The number of born again adults who held views contrary to the Bible was astonishing. Almost 70% agreed that the Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves. Fifty-three percent denied the existence of the Holy Spirit as a person! Forty-seven percent stated that they did not believe in the existence of Satan. Thirty-one percent said they felt a good person could earn his way into heaven; 30% denied the physical resurrection of Jesus; and 24% said they thought Jesus had committed sins!


Solution

Such an abysmal lack of biblical knowledge about the fundamentals of the faith points to a famine of Bible study and preaching in the churches of America. People are obviously hearing inspirational ditties or warmed over homilies from the Reader's Digest.

We can be thankful that we are not saved by biblical knowledge but by a relationship with Jesus. But a lack of biblical knowledge stunts spiritual growth and opens people up to doctrinal heresies and cultic deception.

The churches of America need to stop focusing on entertaining people. They also need to stop tiptoeing through the tulips doctrinally for fear of being seeker insensitive. We need to get back to the Word of God, to the fundamentals of the faith, and we need to be willing to step on toes when necessary by confronting people with the truth of their sin and their need for repentance.

As Paul told Timothy, "Preach the Word!" (2 Timothy 4:2).

Friday, June 8, 2012

Quick Q&A: Was Quirinius Governor When Jesus Was Born?

Nathan JonesPDFBy

Does the timing of the census ordered by Caesar Augustus during Quirinius' governorship question the accuracy of the biblical account of the birth of Christ?

This question came in from Robert of Tennessee who wrote asking: "I saw a documentary on Smithsonian TV that said the First Century census ordered by Caesar Augustus didn't really occur until 6 A.D., well after Jesus was born. Can you either dispute or confirm that?"


Quick Answer

In Luke's account of the birth of Jesus Christ, chapter 2 verses 1-2 gives the reader a historical marker. The passage declares, "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)"

According to Josephus' Antiquities (18), Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was a well-known Roman military and political figure who was appointed to serve as governor of Syria — in 6 A.D. Jesus' birth happened prior to the death of Herod the Great, and it was recorded that he died — in 4 B.C. If Quirinius was supposed to be the governor at the time of Jesus' birth, then this late governorship in 6 A.D., some 10 years later, would seem to show a conflict within the biblical account.

According to the Archaeological Study Bible commentary (pg 1667), there are three possible explanations for this apparent contradiction:

1) The Lapis Tiburtinus fragment implies that Quirinius was governor of Syria twice, once during Jesus' birth and then later again in 6 A.D.

2) Some Greek scholars believe a better translation of the original Greek should be, "This census was before the one made when Quirinius was governor."

3) Though not much supported, the Early Church Father Tertullian believed Luke got his historical facts mixed up and should have written "Sentius Saturninus," or that there was later corruption in the copying.

Regardless, we today are still missing the definitive archaeological piece to properly corroborate or not extra-biblically Luke's statement. Does that mean that the Bible is in error here? No, for as archaeology has proven again and again, every spade turned over produces something that proves yet again the Bible's account as historic and accurate.

That Quirinius had two separate terms in office is supported by the existing archaeological evidence. The Bible contains the greatest cache of historical documentation every made. And, God's Word is divinely inspired. For these reasons and many more, believers in Christ can indeed take Luke's statement that Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world while Quirinius was governor of Syria as historical fact. We therefore can continue to trust the Bible as our inerrant foundation for our Christian faith.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lamb and Lion Poem

[Note: The following poem was written by Arley Steinhour of Bartley, Nebraska and dedicated to Lamb & Lion Ministries. Thank you, Arley!]


Lamb & Lion

Lamb and Lion

Heaven's Gate, soon opens wide,
The key be fully turned,
Soon, all believers pass inside,
Holy Spirit path is learned.

To understand, God's Prophecy,
Lamb and Lion, good place to start,
Day by day, God's Truth you'll see,
As you, Better, will know your part.

God's Son, Jesus, soon to come,
Bride to Snatch-away,
Believers all, denote the Sum,
Who disappear, that day.

The 'Born Again,' and Spirit Led,
Have their Ticket/Pass, on forehead,
Eternal with Jesus, plate, and bed,
As God's Word has always said.

The Church, or Bride, whatever,
Plays a unique role in Prophecy,
Be with God Forever, and Ever,
In New Jerusalem, where Sin can't be.

Your Ticket/Pass is Paid-for,
By Jesus, the Son, with Blood,
Only through Him, the path is plaid,
Adopted, as God's Royal Brood.

AMEN

Jesus, the Lamb, The Sacrifice,
Pure enough to save Mankind,
The Only Means, our Way to Splice,
No other Way, To Heaven, we Find.

Hallelujah/AMEN