The One Who is Alive Forevermore

“And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; he that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” Revelation 2:8-11 (KJV)

Facing sorrows through trials of our faith we find assurance, in this letter to the church in Smyrna, of the eternalness of Jesus, and His promise of eternal riches to those who are overcomers. The “Crown of Life” is promised to those who are “Faithful unto death”.

The church at Smyrna was a suffering church. They had nothing of the world’s goods or praise. They did have the praise of Jesus. That means more than anything.

Polycarp was the bishop of the church and he was put to death for his faith. In John Walvoord’s “THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST” he writes, speaking of Polycarp,

“When asked by his heathen judges to recant his Christian faith, he replied, ‘Four score and six years have I served the Lord, and He never wronged me: How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior?”.

Polycarp seems to characterize the whole church at Smyrna.

The city of Smyrna is still in existence today, known as Izmir, unlike Ephesus which is in ruins. When Christians are willing to stand no matter what, it has redeeming qualities for all of society. There is also a Christian church in the city. How? By overcoming.

The church of Smyrna needed to hear from the One who is the “First and the Last, which was dead, and is alive”. Smyrna is located approximately 35 – 50 miles north of Ephesus. Like Ephesus, it too is a port city. The two cities probably struggled over which was the chief city of the region.

The word ‘Smyrna’ means “Myrrh”. Myrrh was used for embalming the dead. It was also used in Tabernacle worship, and as a perfume. The significance of this is the way in which Jesus identifies Himself to the church at Smyrna. “I Am the eternal One [the First and the Last], which became dead [myrrh was used for His burial], and I Am alive forevermore”.

These are certainly encouraging words. Our Savior who was humiliated and put to open shame upon the cross, and put to death is encouraging the church to stay on course, because they too will live eternally. They too, may die; you may someday get to die for your faith in Jesus, but that is not the end. You have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

His “I know” of verse 9 is somewhat different from His “I know” for the church of Ephesus.

The church is suffering fiery persecution. “Poor” means they were poor in this world’s material things. This partially due to them, as followers of Jesus, having no rights to worship. Their lands and houses could be taken freely, because they had no legal protection, no constitutional protections as we have.

Their persecution came by means of the unregenerate people of Smyrna. Both the Gentiles and Jews persecuted the Christians.

“…Jews, and are not” implies a racial identity without a Christ’s identity. In Pauls letter to the Romans he wrote,

“…He is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:29).

If these “Jews” had been anywhere near obedience to their faith they would have remembered God’s law which says,

“…the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:34).

Therefore, Jesus says that they “…Are the synagogue of satan” – lost, no relation with God, condemned, and needing salvation.

They are known by those who persecute them as being “Poor”. They are known by Jesus as being “Rich”. How are you known by people? More importantly, how are you known by Jesus? It is much better to be poor to the world and rich with Christ, than to be rich to the world and poor with Jesus.

Jesus is so very gracious. He speaks quite often in the gospels, “Fear not”, or “Be not afraid”. Here in verse 10 He speaks the words again. “Fear none of those things…”.
“If they come and take away your houses or land, do not be afraid. If they come to take you away for torture, pain and death, do not fear. If they come to take your family, do not be afraid. If they come to ridicule you, do not fear. If they bring false charges against you, do not fear. If they come to take your life, do not be afraid. It is not over. Your life is still in My hands”, Jesus says. My paraphrase.

Tribulation and suffering should not be strange for the follower of Jesus. He told us, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”. (John 16:33).

Trials and testings come into every believer’s life. Sometimes we suffer because of our faith in Jesus. Sometimes it is because of sin left unconfessed and an unrepentant heart, or paying the consequences of sin forgiven. Sometimes it is to keep us from something for our own benefit and His glory.

“Tribulation ten days” is probably a reference to a short period of time. All the troubles we encounter as Christians are of only short duration compared to eternity. Many Christians suffer bad health for years, not because of sin, but for their good, and the glory of Jesus. It is only a short time compared to the glory and splendor of God’s eternal home.

The “Ten days” have also been compared to a period of time from Nero in 64-68 AD., through Diocletian of 303-313 AD.. Nero 64-68 AD., Domitian95-96 AD., Trajan 104-117 AD., Marcus Aurelius 161-180 AD. (According to some this is when Polycarp was martyred), Severus 200-211 AD., Maximinius 235-237 AD., Decius 250-253 AD., Valerian 257-260 AD., Aurelian 270-275 AD., and Diocletian 303-313 AD.. This would have represented the ten days as being periods of persecution under these leaders.

How faithful would you be to public worship and faith in Jesus Christ if our government suddenly declared worshiping God in Jesus to be illegal? Would you be in Bible study and worship next Sunday? The worship of the church of Smyrna was illegal, yet they worshiped and lived their faith. They suffered. Jesus words were, “Be faithful unto death”. “Don’t be afraid, be faithful”. Even if it means your life, be faithful. Jesus was. He gave His life as not only as an act of love for you and me, but also an act of faithfulness to the Father. The reward? He will give a “Crown of life”; “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1:12). This crown is often equated with being the “Martyrs crown”, but probably received by all who are faithful in life without fear for their lives.

Finally, Jesus says to the church of Smyrna, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches…” (v. 11). Those who are followers of Jesus Christ will hear His voice.

The Spirit gives understanding. He is our ears to the words of the Lord Jesus. The message is now to the individual – “Hear”.

“The second death” is total and eternal separation from God. The word ‘death’, in essence means separation. Physical death is the separation of the body from life. Spiritual death is the condition all people are born into, separated from God. The “Second death” being different only in that it is eternal separation from God. There is an eternal place where the eternal wrath of God is suffered.

All who overcome are “Born of God”. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4). All who are “Born of God” [born again] overcome. The “second death” has no hurt to the born again (Revelation 20:6). The second death is reserved for those not found in the book of life (20:14), ‘the fearful and unbelieving…the abominable, …shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (21:8).

The only way to miss the “Second death” is to be born twice. The second time through faith in Jesus Christ. Someone once said, “If you were born once, you will die twice. If you were born twice, you will die once.”

Troubles, inevitably will come, at least while we live on earth. Some people will ridicule our faith and faithful practices. Sickness comes occasionally or regularly for some. Nevertheless, we are called on to be faithful.

If we keep in mind the humiliation of Jesus and His suffering, even though He was sinless, and the glory that is His after His resurrection, we can overcome every trouble and trial of suffering that comes our way. No material possession can keep us from the “Second death” only Jesus can. After all He is THE RESURRECTED ONE.

To the Church at Ephesus

“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:1-7 (KJV).

The day in which we live needs the Church to be the Church, and not like the world. The sheep do not need to put on the wolves clothing. The true Church needs admonishment and encouragement to keep doing the good and the right, with the right motive of loving the One who is the Caretaker of the Light and the One who holds the “Messengers” in His hand.

This is the beginning letter to the seven churches. These are important letters to the Church of all ages, and especially, I feel for the Church of today.

In the study of the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians Paul commends them for their faith and teaches them who they are in Jesus Christ. They are a vibrant and faithful people, and growing in faith and knowledge of Jesus.

Jesus says that something is wrong with the church at Ephesus. They have abandoned their “First love”. If they do not repent their “Candlestick” – the light of His glory – “will be removed”. He gave the light. He can also remove it and give it to another.

He commends them, and encourages them to be overcomers to eat of the Tree of Life which can be seen in the “Lampstand” of the tabernacle in the wilderness, of Israel’s wanderings.

Beginning the letter to the church of Ephesus, our Lord reminds the church of who holds the seven stars and walks among the “seven golden lampstands”. Of course it is the One who is speaking. The One who is THE CARETAKER OF THE LIGHT.

We are looking at each “angel” as being the messenger, ie. pastor of each local congregation. It would not make sense for an “Angel of Heaven” come and deliver a letter from Jesus. Jesus used John to pen down the letters, John sent them to each of the churches, and the leader, ie. pastor read it to the congregation. That would be so exciting to have an actual letter from Jesus read to us. Wait a minute!!!! WE DO. WOW!!!

Ephesus was a port city. It was the greatest of these seven cities. It was the seat of “Artemis” worship, also known as “Diana” in Acts chapter 19. Paul preached the gospel here for about three years. He built this church and encouraged them in their faith through the letter of Ephesians. It is said that John was in Ephesus for about 30 years.
In this first verse Jesus gives greeting as He does to the others. He also identfies Himself as the One “That holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks”. This is one of the descriptions given in chapter one. The very fact of His walking “In the midst” shows Jesus’ love for the local church, and that His people are to be found in the local church.

The seven golden candlesticks are an Old Testament picture given in Exodus 25:31-37. The priests were to keep the light in the tabernacle burning. There was no means for the natural light of the sun to enter, so there was need for the “Candlestick” or “Lampstand” for the priests to do the rest of their daily duties. Jesus being our Great High Priest keeps the flames buring the light shining in order that the world might see Him in His Church.

We now enter the “I know” portion of the letter. He is the “All-Knowing” One.
The people of Ephesus Church were a busy people. They were working and laboring to the point of exhaustion. For this devotion Jesus commends them. These were also a people who were sound in doctrine, they hatted evil, and they were a discerning people. They could tell the true from the false. The reason they were able to discern so well is, that , they had learned the truth so well.

Jesus commends them for their perseverance (v. 3) in continuing to deal with the false apostles, and persevering in faith despite the persecution they had faced.

By all appearances Ephesus was a good church. They were seving the Lord well. Not many churches today could be so commended.

It seems, according to verse four, however, that the church was laboring with the wrong motives. Jesus commends them for their work, but suddenly gives them condemning statements. It was only one thing. It was no small thing.

“Thou hast left thy first love” is one of the most tragic, and probably is the most tragic condemnation Jesus could lay on a church. It is the abandonment of the “first love” that causes all kinds of iniquities, and sin. It may have been that the church had been lured away from loving Jesus by the fulfillment received from performing their duties, or by the allurements of the city and their ways of worship.

The “First love” of every Believer is Jesus. If there is no time for Jesus, for hearing His words, sharing your hearts needs with Him, and practicing His ways, then, you have “Left” or “Abandoned” your “First love”.

This is the only one of the seven churches of which is warned of the removing of the “Candlestick”. Ephesus has no Christian witness to this day. Why? Because they had forsaken their love for Jesus. They were diligent in their work and task, but without a passion for Christ. I just recently heard a television preacher say, “Passion is more important than doctrine”. I do not agree with that. Passion without doctrine will end in emotionalism, an anything goes way of worship,and immorality; and doctrine without Passion will be legalistic and cold. So what is the answer? There is need and room for both, and a correct doctrine with the passion for Christ. It seems the church had good works, good doctrine, but no heart for Christ. The light of Christ has been removed.
Jesus’ condemning statement is followed by a statement of hope and warning (v. 5).
He says, “Remember”. Remember from where you have fallen. They had once been Gentiles without hope and Jesus redeemed them (Ephesians 2:11-13). It always helps to go back and remember what you were before Jesus saved you from the bondage of sin. If there has been no change, no difference then, it will do no good to ‘Remember’. You need a time where change begins. It can be now through faith in Jesus.

He then says, “Repent”. Begin to stir the coals. Put some fuel on them. Fan the flames. Ignite the flames of passion for Jesus that you once had. If there are no coals there, but only ashes…….., then what? Turn away from the pride of your work and your labors – love Jesus. We love Him least when we trust ourselves most; we love Him most when we trust Him most.

One of the first works of one with that “First love” mentality is telling others about His love; His death, burial and resurrection.

The warning is that He will judge quickly if there is no turning. The judgment would be removing the candlestick. The light of their witness, their testimony, as a body, would be gone. Today Ephesus is an archaeologist’s fantasy land. The church no longer exist, nor does the city. Ichabod has certainly been written on the church of Ephesus. “Ichabod” meaning THE GLORY IS DEPARTED.

Jesus commends them in verse six for their hating the “Deeds of the Nicolaitans”. There is some dispute over who these were. Some take the name to mean “Conquerors of the people” meaning this group was the beginning of the separation of “Clergy” and “Laity”. The placing of a “Priesthood” lording over the people. Others relate the name to a man whose name was Nicolaus who taught that once you were saved you could live in sin and return for forgiveness anytime. NOTE – I wrote “Live in sin” which is continual action. This belief is called “Antinomiansiam”. I personally see no conflict between these two understandings. The separation of the “Priesthood” from the people lends leniency to immoral living and takes away personal responsibility, for one’s self and others. Though God has set an order for His local church, there is no one person of more importance than another. The pastor is to be the leader, but is no more important than the janitor. Each have their God given duty, and each duty is important in God’s church. Jesus is Superior to all. The very fact that there is no description of these “Nicolaitans”, other than these views, seem to add credibility to this.

In the final verse of this important letter we find an exhortation to hear. It is an exhortation to each individual to hear. The individual is responsible for his/her love for Jesus. Responsible for discerning right from wrong. For repentance when sin is committed. Individuals make up the local church.

The Spirit speaks expressly to the church and the individuals to hear.

To the individual who overcomes he will eat the fruit of the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden to keep them from the Tree. There is a symbol of the Tree of Life in the “Lampstand” of Exodus 25:31-37. It is likened to an almond tree. Jesus is the Caretaker, the Priest. Jesus is the only means for man to partake of the Tree of Life. He is in the midst.

Jesus said, “On this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). In Ephesus there was a remnant who departed and went elsewhere. When the “Candlestick” is removed there is no more light, no more witness. As long as there is a remnant there is light and hope.

Maintaining and feeding your love and passion for Jesus assures you of eating from the Tree of Life.

The True Voice

LOOK WHO IS SPEAKING

“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the First and the Last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” Revelation 1:9-20 (KJV)

This chapter describes John and his exile, who the book is written to, John’s vision of the glorious Christ, a description of Christ’s characteristics as the risen Lord, an outline of the book (v. 19), and explanation of the stars and lampstands, in order that we may know, that it is God’s will that we understand.

The glory of Jesus is certainly seen by John and will eventually be seen by all who believe and are not fearful of this prophecy.

This book is seen clearly in this first chapter as being for the sole purpose of revealing Jesus Christ in His glory. No longer a slaughtered and dead Lamb, but a resurrected Lord, God and Sovereign King.

He is Lord of His Church and He will ultimately be viewed by all people and nations as Lord of all.

Peter Marshall said, “It is better to fail at a task which will ultimately succeed, than to succeed at a task which will ultimately fail.”

As we look at verse nine John identifies himself with those to whom he is writing. He is involved in the same persecutions and trials. He is also one of the kingdom and enduring in the “Patience of Christ”.

John, faithful and powerful preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, was exiled by Domitian to the Isle of Patmos. Patmos was a prison island off the coast of Ephesus. It is said to have been an island where they used these prisoners as slaves for mining the mines on the island. Notice, John is not ashamed to write why he is being persecuted.

In verses ten and eleven we see John hearing from Jesus. John probably took every opportunity to hear God. “In the Spirit” simply means that he was caught up in Him in awe and adoration.

According to John Walvoord…

“There is no solid evidence, … , that the expression used by John (The Lord’s Day) was ever intended to refer to the first day of the week. It is rather a reference to the day of the Lord of the Old Testament, an extended period of time in which God deals in judgment and sovereign rule over the earth. The adjectival form can be explained on the ground that in the Old Testament there was no adjectival form for “Lord,” and therefore the noun had to be used. The New Testament term is therefore the equivalent to the Old Testament expression ‘the day of the Lord’.” (From The Revelation of Jesus Christ by John Walvoord).

I take it in the same way our brother in the Lord did. Most other times, in the New Testament, when they refer to Sunday, it is called “the first day of the week”. In Ezekiel 30:3 we have an example of “The day of the Lord”, “For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen.” John, being in the Spirit was ushered into the future to see the ultimate “day of the Lord” when God’s judgment will flow upon all the world.

This Revelation could have seemed as a nightmare were it not for the appearance of the glorified Jesus. John heard “A great voice, as of a trumpet” (SEE PSALM 29). What a voice he must have heard. One of conficence and power. One of conviction and authority. One in which he found comfort.

The voice spoke of the eternalness of Himself. “The first and the last” the “beginning and the end”. He is everything in between. The A to Z. The voice commands John to write what he sees in a book (biblion GK), and send it to the seven churches of Asia.

John turns to see Him from whom the voice is coming and is overcome by His glory.
John sees seven golden “Lampstands” and standing in their midst was “One like unto the Son of man”. “Son of man” was a favorite title Jesus used for Himself. It was also used by Ezekiel very often. It denotes a prophet called and chosen by God. For Jesus it was title that identified His as being human and subservient to God the Father. John clearly recognizes Him as being the resurrected Jesus.

Jesus in His glorified state. In these descriptions we see the character of Jesus; 1. In the midst of the “lampstands” as a priest (Exodus 28:2), the “golden girdle” showing freedom of movement by tucking up the garment when needed; 2. He is seen as is the “Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:9), He is the wise and eternal God; 3. John then identifies Him as having “Eyes… as a flame of fire” – He is Judge, seeking out the motives and desires of man to judge the righteous judgment; 4. Brass or bronze are seen as symbols of judgment, and they are on His feet. Remember Ephesians 1:22. Look at Daniel 7:9 again; 5. He is Sovereign and authority. His voice was in the creation; 6. He is protector, caretaker, and provider for the “stars”; 7. He is the Giver of the Word of God, Wielder of truth; 8. He is the Light of the world. Look at Ephesians 1:18.

John’s response was to fall down as dead, thus being similar to Daniel’s experience in Daniel 10 (vv. 17 – 18). Daniel declares, “I retained no strength” (Daniel 10:8). The touch of Jesus must have been an inspiring assurance. The very Word of God that brings conviction also brings comfort (v. 17), when there is submission to the conviction of the Word.

Here Jesus is again speaking the words “Fear not” to one of His beloved followers. This is in all probability the first time John has seen Jesus since He ascended into Heaven. To hear those words again. What joy, what peace they must have brought to his heart during this horrible persecution. “John, I am going to work my plan and bring it to pass; fear not”. Those are words of comfort to us as well.

In Matthew 22:31-32 Jesus said, “But as touching the resurrection of the dead…God says, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

Jesus’ words here tell of His life as man, as becoming dead, and rising from the grave living forever more. He lived in eternity past before He became man.

Having the keys is a symbol of authority. Jesus has the keys to eternity. He has the power, the authority to deliver from sins bondage of Hell. There is no death apart from His authority. By His resurrection He took the keys and has them for all eternity

In verses 19 -20 John is commanded to write, once again the things which he has seen. He is also given the outline of the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Chapter one are the things which John has seen [past]. “The things which are” [present] are chapters two and three. Chapters four through 22 then are “The things which shall be hereafter [future]. As far as the prophecy of the Revelation of Jesus Christ we are still in the “Present” stage of chapters two and three which is the “Church age”.

In verse twenty Jesus gives us understanding of the “Candlesticks” or “Lampstands” and the “Seven stars”. If the “Lampstands” are the seven churches, then it stands to reason that the “Seven stars” being angels, means the angels to the seven churches are the pastors of each church. “Angel” means ‘Messenger’. The messenger to each church is its God-called pastor. It is the pastor who would stand before his congregation each Sunday morning reading and expounding the Word of God. He would be doing the same with this new letter sent from John. It does not seem at all likely, that an angel of Heaven would be the one reading these words to the local congregation.

Notice, John said earlier that Jesus was in the midst of the “Lampstands”. He is the central character of the Church (Matthew 18:20). He is to be found glorified in His Church.

In conclusion, we can see in the verses of this chapter that Jesus is the glorified One. He is the One who is, and shall be glorified in and through His Body, the Church.
We can see it is also His will that His people [the Church] understand the words of this prophecy. Only the wicked and unbelieving will be and are afraid and tremble before its teaching. It is a prophecy of comfort and encouragement to those who know Jesus.

He Never Changes

THE GLORY OF HIS IMMUTABILITY

“John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:4-8 (KJV)

In this article we see words of encouragement through the reminder that God is immutable – unchanging. The whole of the Revelation is for the encouragement of believers of all ages. To the Christians who are enduring trial, and persecutions in our day it is truly encouraging to know that God is unchanging, and is the true source of courage, hope, and ultimate fulfillment of His promises.

Is there anything in life which we can count on? Clothing fashions change from day to day. The economy flourishes or we suffer depression, or somewhere in between. People’s attitudes change, about situations and other people. Even the planet earth on which we live is unstable. Think of the hurricanes, tsunami’s, earthquakes – you get the picture.

We can trust in the immutability of God. He never changes. Since He never changes His laws are still the same, His expections of His people are still the same as they have always been, and His character is flawless, so He is fully trustworthy. We may not be able to trust kings and leaders of our state and community, and even of our churches, at times, but we can have the utmost confidence and trust in the One who never changes. The Lord Jesus Christ.

His grace has always been abundant. His peace one of the greatest of experiences. Apart from His unchangingness these would be flippant and He would be just as untrustworthy as the word of a liar.

According to verse 4 the Revelation is written “To the seven churches which are in Asia.” This does not mean that there were only seven churches in Asia. It is probably symbolic and representative of the total Church. Not only for John’s age, but for all ages to come. That is not to take away from the Revelation’s immediate message and intent.

John’s salutation is similar to that of the apostle Paul’s. Both of these men realized the importance of “Grace” and “Peace”. “Grace” being the ‘unmerited’ or ‘undeserved’ favor of God, and without which, we would all be eternally condemned. “Peace” being made clean before God, without guilt or condemnation. Grace is our standing or position before God. Peace is our experience with God.

“Which is,… which was, and which is to come” reveals to us the eternalness of God. These words are written again in verse eight, chapter 4; 11:17; and in 16:5. There could be no grace or peace if God is not eternal or unchanging [immutable]. If God changed with every generation, fad, or grievance of people He would be even less dependable than our fellowman.

It is because of His immutability that He is able to save us (Hebrews 7:24-25). In Exodus 3:14 God tells Moses to tell the people, “I Am hath sent me unto you”. This name means, “Self-Existent One”. If He is Self-Existent He needs nothing to sustain Him, therefore, He is unchanging. He is, He was, and He always will be God.

“Seven Spirits” has been a troubling statement to some. When we think of the number seven (7) in the symbolic way which John meant, we can only come to the conclusion of fulness, completion. The fulness of the Holy Spirit is certainly in the giving of this Revelation of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit before the throne. If He is before the throne, and He abides in us, then, where are we who are in Christ Jesus?

In verses five and six we find Jesus revealed as a Prophet [“Faithful witness”], Priest [“First begotten of the dead”], and King [“The prince of the kings of the earth”].
As the Prophet He called people to the Father by His words and by His life. The prophet is hated while he lives and calls people to righteousness, thus, Jesus was crucified. He became Priest by His death, burial and resurrection. He became Priest, “After the power of an endless life ” (Hebrews 7:16). “The first begotten of the dead” has more to do with His power and position than His being the first to rise from death. However, He was the first to have “…the power of an endless life”. By His death and resurrection He became our High Priest. This High Priest is truly a priest. He has been “Touched with the fellings of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15). A priest is one who approaches God on behalf of men and communicates to man on God’s behalf. Certainly, this is Jesus. He is King by His power over kings and Nations. He rules supremely. Here the word is “Prince”. The prince is one who will be king. but has not began his position of rule and authority. With Jesus this is by choice of His Father, until His set time.

This is the One who loved us, and loves us, washed us and loosed us from the slavery of sin by shedding His own blood. He gave His life. He took the condemnation that was mine and yours. By doing this for us He has made us “…a kingdom of priests unto God”, or “Kings and priests”. The Scriptures are full of doxologies unto God. Is it any wonder? When we truly begin to see God in His glory how can we be silent any longer. He is glory. He is worthy of blessing, power and dominion forever. SO BE IT.

Verse seven has Him coming in power and great glory. This event takes place chronologically in Revelation 19:11-21. This event follows the Rapture of the Church by at least seven years.

When Jesus comes for the Church no one will see Him. He is coming then as a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4). People will be snatched from their homes, cars, places of employment and chaos will prevail upon the earth.

In this verse “Every eye shall see Him” and they will mourn and weep over His appearance. They will even cry out to the rocks and hills to fall on them (6:16; Hosea 10:8). “They also which pierced him: “, then, would refer to the people who condemned Jesus to die. That, of course, being the Jewish nation, and they will believe in Him; “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” Romans 11:26-27 (KJV).

John’s response to this may seem, to some anyway, to be cold and heartless, but he says “A-MEN” out of anticipation and exhilaration, and faith that the Lord Jesus will be ultimately victorious. So, it is more a cry of victory than of vengeance.

Finally in this study we get to verse eight. “Alpha and Omega” are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. It is interesting when you think of Jesus as the “Word of God”. Words are made of letters. If He is the First and Last, the Beginning [Genesis] and the end [The Revelation], then, He is also everything in between.

He is, He was, and He forever shall be. He is unchanging [Immutable]. Because of that He is our A to Z. From beginning to end the Immutable One. A-Men.

In conclusion, let me readdress the fact that He is unchanging. There is not much, if anything, in this world that does not change.

It should cause us to be bold and brave to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ knowing He never changes. He is “…The same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Because He is unchanging He is a worthy, Prophet, Priest, and King. Worship Him. He is revealing Himself to a changing world.

An Encouraging Revelation

AN ENCOURAGING REVELATION

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” Revelation 1:1-3 (KJV)

It seems that the history of man has began to reach its climax, and because of this, it is of the utmost importance for all people to realize the greatness of Jesus Christ, His present and future power to redeem, judge and bring to fruition the completeness of His redemption.

It is the purpose of this study to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ as being alive, seated at the right hand of the Father; as the “Chief Subject”; the exalted Priest-King in chapters 1 – 3; as the glorified Lamb in chapters 4 – 5 and reigning on the throne; the Judge of all the earth in chapters 6 – 18, and in chapter 19 He returns to earth as the conquering King of kings; finally, closing the book ushering His Bride (the Church) into the glorious heavenly city; thus “UNVEILING HIS GLORY”.

The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ has been viewed by many, even professing Christians, as a book of “Doom and Gloom”, as has also been the other apocalyptic book of Daniel. They are not. These are books of hope and fulfillment of our final joy – eternal joy. Let me insert this information concerning the title of the book. Some refer to the book as “Revelations”. Not to be “Know it allish”, but there are no plural revelations, it is a single Revelation. It seems to me that there is one proper title of the book, and it is given in the first sentence of the text, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ…”

The book is for our understanding. It is written where you must be familiar with the rest of Scripture, especially the Old Testament. It is filled with symbolism, which is open to interpretation, but by the work of the Holy Spirit a committed Christian can understand. I know that I will fall far short of excellence, but these will be my thoughts and understanding in my study, hopefully and prayerfully led by the Holy Spirit.

This book was written to encourage the Christians, who were being persecuted by Rome, of the ultimate triumph of Jesus Christ. He would conquer every kingdom of man that would exalt itself against Him.

This book was written while the Roman persecution was going on under Domitian who hated Christianity. He had exiled John to “The isle that is called Patmos”. This is where John received the Revelation. It was sent to, and read by the seven churches mentioned in verse 11. Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. It is a book for the Church of all ages until the redemption of mankind is complete.

We will see in the Revelation that it is truly of Jesus and His power to redeem, and that until its completion we, who are Christians, are to keep the faith of Jesus Christ. He will be faithful to fulfill the Father’s will in us.
Let me explain something before I continue. I believe the Bible teaches the rapture of the Church before a period of Tribulation comes on the earth. That that period of Tribulation will be a total of 7 years in length, and that at the end of that 7 years Jesus will come down to earth, set up an earthly kingdom for a period of 1000 years. At the end of that thousand years will come the Great White throne judgment where all the haters of God, “…Inhabiters of earth” will be judged by their works. I believe these things can be seen in The Revelation, as well as other Scriptures. I also know that there are a many good Christian people who do not believe that form of eschatology. That is their belief, and they will go be with Christ in the rapture whether they believe it or not. I will be happy to meet them there.

Let us look now at the Revelation. If we think about the time that has passed since the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus, it could have been as much as 6o years. The Domitian reign of Rome is nearing an end, and John probably needs some encouragement, as well as those to whom he will send this writing. The “Unveiling” is the unveiling of Jesus Christ in all His glory. It will show things which must “Shortly take place”. There are some who argue against the imminent [ready to take place] appearing of Jesus Christ. This is one statement for it. Jesus reveals the suffering and rejection He has endured. He will reveal His power and His glory which all shall see. It is a revelation given by the Father to Jesus to reveal what “Must shortly come to pass”. It is a message which is delivered by an angel to His servants for all the servants of Christ. “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7 (KJV). This apocalyptic message is to be revealed (Rev. 22:10), while the message for Daniel, in his time was to be concealed (Daniel 12:4). There is only one thing that John is told not to write and reveal, and that was the message of the seven thunders (Rev. 10:4). What was said there we may never know, nor should we even speculate.

There is a faithful witness in this Revelation. John’s gospel and epistles point out Jesus Christ as the Living Word (John 1:1), the Lamb, come to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29), and that He is God in flesh (John 1:14). John shows us Jesus very clearly as the Word become flesh, for the purpose of dying for our sins, buried, and rising again. He is getting a look at Jesus much unlike anything He has ever seen. The only thing that may have come near it would have been on the mount as Jesus was “Transfigured” in their sight. John faithful in his testimony and witness of Jesus Christ.

We come now to the first of seven Beatitudes of the Revelation. It is a promise of blessing, of happiness – that is what the meaning of “Blessed” is. What many churches and pastors are getting away from in worship services is the reading of God’s Word. There is a special blessing for those who will read the Revelation in worship to God. This blessing would apply, I believe in any situation. In our own private reading, in a Bible study group, corporate worship, or parents with children, and spouses reading it together. There is also a blessing for the hearer of these words. “So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Rom. 10:17). To “Hear” means with understanding putting it to action, which leads us to the third blessing. The keeping of this is to “hear” it putting it to work for encouraging others in the faith, and for our own stability of faith. It is something to hang on to, because the times are tough. “Do not doubt in the dark, what you have learned in the light.” One thing is certain and that is that “time is short”, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” (1Thes. 5:2). This is a book of hope for the Christian. It is a book of encouragment. These seven beautitudes are placed in the book to show us the light in the darkness of troubled times. Seeing that there are seven of the “Beatitudes” it means that our joy will be full, and gives us strength in the face of opposition.

We see that Jesus is central to this final book of the Bible. Were the Bible to close with any other book we would not have a completed picture.

The Bible begins with the book of “Beginnings” – Genesis and closes with the triumph of Jesus Christ, the redemption of mankind. A-MEN.

A-MEN.

Living As Christians In The World Today (6)

People of the Day Light
To show that since the coming of the Lord is a certain event those who are born again will not be surprised at that coming, but will be prepared and ready, by being prepared by God for that great day.

INTRODUCTION:
In the last chapter, the final six verses, we saw the blessing of being in Christ, whether we are alive at His coming or dead.

It is exciting thinking of our Lord’s certain return. There may be many who name the name of Jesus, but call this teaching myth, or someones wild imagination run wild. Jesus, our Savior said that He was returning or “I will come again…” (John 14:3). If He lied about this how can we trust Him for salvation; because this event is a part of our redemption/salvation. We would not be able to trust Him if He does not return. His coming again is further evidence of His bodily resurrection; especially when He raises those who have died as His followers. The only way He would not return is if He did not rise bodily from the grave. He will come again, just as He said.

In this chapter, and the final chapter of Second Thessalonians we find more encouragement for the born again child of God, but it is also a warning to those who do not know Jesus. Verses 1 – 11 tell us of the “Day of the Lord”. The “Day of the Lord” is also mentioned in the Old Testament books of Joel 2:1, 2ff.; Amos 5:18-20; Zephaniah 1:14-18; Isaiah 2:12-21. It is also called “The time of Jacob’s trouble” in Jeremiah 30:7. This is a day of darkness for the reprobate, unbelievers alive in that day. A day of struggle, catastrophe, chaos, torment, and sorrow; unlike any event ever seen on earth.

In verses 12 – 22 we are instructed in our daily lives, how we ought to live. It involves respect to our spiritual leaders, warning those who reject authority, beiing thankful, rejoicing, praying, our responses to the preaching [prophecy] of the Word and other such things.

Verses 23 – 38 is the conclusing of the letter. There is much to this conclusion – our sanctification; the faithfulness of God (v. 24; see also Philippians 1:6), a request for prayer, and the way we are to greet one another.

Verses 1 – 2 —

“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 (KJV)

Paul had evidently spoken to the Church concerning times and seasons before he was ran out of town, but here is a friendly reminder.

Why should the teaching of the rapture of the Church and “The day of the Lord” be preached and taught? 1.) For comfort and encouragement to Believers; 2.) For the purity of the Believer (2 Peter 3:14); 3.) For a zeal in the hearts of Believers for those who are lost (2 Peter 3:9, 10); 2 Corinthians 5:11); 4.) “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).

Jesus will come like a thief when He comes in the clouds. Only those who know HIm will rise to meet Him in the air. When people suddenly realize a co-worker, a wife, or husband, son or daughter, a friend, the driver of an automobile, the pilot of an airplane (Private or Commercial), the pastor, the deacon, or a Sunday School/Bible Study teacher is missing there will be such chaos as the world has never seen. There are people unaware. These people who are still in darkness.

Verses 3 – 4 —

“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” vv. 3-4

The world is longing for peace. We are hungry for it. We can almost taste it. When it appears there is peace; when it appears that economic peace and recovery is here, that there is peace from war and strife; that is when the people will be at ease. Nothing destructive will happen, people believe all is well. Who would dare upset our progress? Jesus will come, and the unprepared “Shall not escape”.

This day will not came “As a thief” for the prepared (See Matthew 25:1-13). This word “Darkness” is used in reference to those who are outside of Jesus. Therefore, if one is in the light he is not in darkness.

Verses 5 – 8 —

“Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” vv. 5-8

Sleeping is one of the times in our lives when we are unaware. When we are asleep we could almost care less for what goes on around us. It is a dangerous time.

This sleep is of the spiritual sort. Unaware of the darkness. Unaware of the peril that is in the path ahead. It means satisfied with the way things are – COMPLACENCY. Indifferent, uncaring, about what is ahead – you know, bur you are unwilling to act upon it – APATHY.

“Let us not sleep”, but let us be aware, able to control ourselves, watching, waiting for the Lord’s appearing, which is the “Blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). Those who are watching are those “Who love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). Jesus commands us to watch (Matthew 24:42-43; Luke 12:35-40). The person (The Believer) who is watching is an alert Believer. We are to be “Watchmen” sounding an alarm to the populace (See

Ezekiel 33:1-6). The Watchmen must remain awake.

There are all kinds of evil wickedness going on in the darkness. People doing their evil, hate for light to expose it (John 3:19). The ones who participate in the darkness are not people of light. They too need the light.

The”Breastplate of faith” is to turn the fiery darts of Satan, which is constantly hurled at the children of light. The “Helmet of Salvation” is on our head where we have most of our sense – sight, smell, sound, and taste; and the head is also the control centel for the body. We reason with our head. Is it any wonder we must have the Helmet of Salvation”.

Verses 9 – 11 —

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” vv. 9-11

It is pretty evident by verse nine that God has not intended for His Church to go through the “Time of Jacob’s trouble” which we call “The great tribulation period”. It does not stand on the one verse alone though (See Revelation 3:10-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:7). It stands on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The comfort of these words are not empty. Where would the comfort be if we had to endure “Great tribulation”? We endure tribulation already, but nothing the like of which awaits the “Day of the Lord”, when all living unbelievers will be tried and “They shall not escape”; except through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and very likeable persecution death.

Verses 12 – 22 —

“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” vv. 12-22

Here is listed some things which seem to indicate those who are awake, aware, and ready for the Lord’s return.

vv. 12-13 – Having respect for your pastor, deacon(s), teachers, the ones who are responsible for your spiritual well being. Hold them up in prayer for boldness, love, and encouragement.

This is certainly not an excuse for overlooking a false preacher or teacher, but one who teaches and believes the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, Holy Spirit inspired Word of God.

PEACE = Not constantly squabbling, quarelling, but working in unity for the same cause and purpose. If the Church cannot be at peace with one another there is little hope for the world to be at peace.

v. 14 – The word “Unruly” means insubordinate (in religious matters) which is an unwillingness to submit to authority. We are told to warn such, and not to be in such a case ourselves.

Encouragement is always needed. When others encourage us we are motivated to serve the Lord in a greater capacity. We can minister to others with encouragement.

v. 15 – Always pursue the good. Do good to others even when they treat you wickedly.

v. 16 – Rejoicing is a sign of no fear, a sign of peace and contentment. When we rejoice in our Lord there is also a witness to those around us.

v. 17 – Pray for perseverance. Keep on bringing your requests to the Lord until He answers – He will either give what you ask, or He willl say “No!” or He might say “Wait!”

v. 18 – When others around are complaining, whether about their work, home, family, sickness, or Church, we are to be thankful “In everything” knowing that God is in control of the circumstances and He is using themto make us stronger and better Christians.

v. 19 – The Holy Spirit is likened unto fire. To quench a fire we often dump water on it – we put the fire out. To “Quench the Spirit” is to hear Him speak to us, but determine we will not heed His leading, and do our own rebellous act. This is sin, and one that is very often committed by all of us. We do not have time, or not right now, or somebody else can do it are words often expressed that quenches the fire of the Spirit.

v. 20 – Prophecy is the “Foretelling” of the future and/or the “Forthtelling” of the Word of God. All the prophets of the Bible “Foretold” the future – but even more important they were “Forthtellers” of God’s Word. Many, many times when God’s prophet told of some future event it was confirmed as the Word of the Lord by a present or imminent sign. Today the prophet of God only foretells by the written Word of God, and it is confirmed in that same word. He also forthtells by that same word.

The word “Despised” means contemptible, least esteemed – to have no delight in. It means you may like music in the worship, but you cannot stand the preaching of the word. It makes you uncomfortable, you want to get out as quickly as possible. Ask yourself “Why?” You are uncomfortable in the presence of God, and His holy Word. That is why. Proverbs 13:13 states, “He who despises the Word will be destroyed.”

v. 21 – Goes along with verse twenty. When a man stands to deliver God’s message there is to be a test. Does it come from God, or does it contradict His Word? If it goes against the Bible; it is not a message from God.

v. 22 – Staying away from every form of evil is the Christians calling, ife we are prepared for His coming. If it shows up, and you are tempted by it flee from it; run with all the strength you have – run from it.

Verses 23 – 24 —

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” vv. 23-24

God Himself is the One who sets us apart from all others, and He preserves us blameless for the coming of Jesus His Son.

God is faithful. He started the work, and He has never left His work undone. The work He has began in you He will complete (Philippians 1:6).

Verses 25 – 28 —

“Brethren, pray for us. Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss. I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” vv. 25-28

A request for prayer, greeting and a charge or challenge to read this epistle to all Christians is given by Paul in closing.

His request for prayer was not just empty words. Paul knew the importance of prayer.
Never short on grace he always left it with others. So ought we as well.

Living As Christians In The World Today (5)

The Walk Which Pleases God

To show that as Christians we are to grow in the faith, to live a life that honors God, and shows His holiness at work in our lives; that we are to love one another, and to comfort one another with the words of hope.

INTRODUCTION:
In the Christian life growth occurs as one is obedient to the principles of God’s Word. To participate in the demeaning, immoral activities of the world system, as a Christian is to rob one’s self of spiritual growth.

Verses one through twelve have to do with a Christians growth. The same man who [Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit] wrote about our freedom [Liberty] in Christ, also writes about abstaining from certain activities. Paul is here concerned about their [our] sanctification. Our being separate, peculiar, different, is to be a distinction even others notice. In the first chapter verse four Paul recognized some individuals as being, “The elect of God.” He knew this by the way they lived, and so did “Those who were outside.” Their lives were different, certainly in the way they loved (v. 9). There had been changes wrought in their lives; dramatic changes.

The growing Christian is changing daily. Each day he is more like Jesus than he was the day before. Yielding to the Father; trusting Him with life’s ups and downs, ministering to others needs, never taking advantage of a brother’s weakness to profit himself. Paul warned that, “The Lord is the avenger of all such” (v. 6).

The people of Thessalonica were concerned abou their deceased loved ones, who had died in Christ, and verses thirteen through eighteen handle that teaching for us. Thse fet together real well, because a clean and holy life is the only one God will accept into His Kingdom (Psalm 15). We can only live that life in the power of God’s Spirit, and that through faith in the shed blood of Jesus and His finished work. Our redemption finished when the bodies of the Saints shall all be redeemed by Jesus’s coming in the clouds in great glory.

Looking at verses 1 – 2 —

“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 (KJV)

Pleasing God, even to professing Christians is often as difficult as walking a narrow pole across the Grand Canyon. It is not that difficult if one is born again through Jesus Christ.

This leader [Paul] is calling on them to get nearer to Jesus. The life of a Christian is to be lived as an example to others, keeping the commandments, and pleasing God..

Verses 3 – 6 —

“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.” vv. 3-6

Knowing the will of God is at times difficult, expecially, when we get confused about what is important, confused about what should take top priority in life, and when we are not giving to God what we already know is in His will.

The Word of God tells us Bod’s will for our lives. If we shun His Word, whay should we expect Him to show us His will in whom to date, marry, which house to buy, or which job to take. If we keep His commandments, because we love Him (Not for salvation), we weill know His will, and can then seek His counsel in everyday questions.

There must be holiness in the Christian’s life. “This is the will of God.” It means abstaining from all forms of immorality, having self-control. and knowing how to treat your spouse, caring for the weaker brother, and even the stronger. Paul warns that the Lord is the one who avenges in such cases.

Verses 7 – 8 —

“For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us His Holy Spirit.” vv. 7-8

God has called us to holiness. Holiness is being clean for this Person of purity [The Holy Spirit] to live in, and use for His glory. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heartsahll flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). How can the water be clean if the vessel is dirty? If you are living in sin who is going to believe you when you say, “Jesus can set you free. Look what He has done for me!”? No one will. You can count on it.

To reject is to wreak havoc upon your life. These are God’s words, God’s instructions to His people. If you will not believe His Word at this point you do not believe it at any place, therefore you are lost and condemned to the fires of Hell.

Verses 9 – 12 —

“But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.” vv. 9-12

The lack of love was not a problem, yet Paul says, “We urge you… increase more and more”. In what ? In love. You cannot love, with God’s love too much.

It is because of love we are to work, and not meddle in other’s lives, and to take care of our own business. Out of love our work life is to be just as good a witness to the condemned world as our faithfulness to attend worship. Others are watching. Those who do thises things will live a life of joy, peace, and lack no good thing.

Verses 13 – 17 —

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” vv. 13-17

A proper walk with God is not only conducive as a witness to the condemned, but also in preparation for the coming of Jesus.

The Thessalonian Christians were uncertain about their dead loved ones in Christ. What would become of them? For some reason the Church – or at least many of them – were afraid that their loved ones who had died in Jesus would miss the “victories and glories” of His return. It is made clear that, that just is not the case. The word sleep is used in reference to the body, not the soul, and/or spirit. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).

There was some ignorance concerning those who slept. Some, evidently thinking it was over for the dead; no hope, no glory, no eternal life.

Verse fourteen clarifies that those who are dead in Christ will be with Him [Jesus] when He comes for His Church. Their spirit and soul will be united with the new resurrected body.

Verses fifteen and sixteen make it clear the living believers will not go before or without the dead in Christ. The dead will rise first (v. 17); then, the living will rise with them to meet our Lord Jesus; the Lamb of God; the King of kings; the Lord of lords.

Verse 18 —

“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” v. 18

We need this kind of comfort. Knowing Jesus is coming back should cause us to be comforted. Notice though who is to be the comforter – we are to comfort one another; “With these words”.

Our lives should be lived for Jesus. This is certainly a “…World gone mad”, but the child of God can live in comfort and peace by taking heed to God’s Word. We need each others encouragement if we are to “Live As Christians In A World Gone Mad”. We need to be encouraged to abstain from things that displease God. We need to be encouraged to live clean lives. We need to be encouraged about the return of Jesus.

Not only the people of the world, but the earth itself is in a state of madness. Earthquakes where they have never been before – in recorded history. The weather odd, and unseasonal.

The Christian can live in peace. He or she can live, because they know God has his/her life in His hands, and we encourage one another to this extent.

“The Walk Which Pleases God” is when we walk with Jesus Christ our sin-bearer, Redeemer, and expecting His soon return. We are only pleasing God when we are walking with Him; we are only walking with Him when we are in agreement with Him (Amos 3:3). He is the Superior One.

Living As Christians in The World Today (4)

A Rock Solid Faith

To build up the believer to a purity of life and faith in the sight of God, and to be prepared ro the glorious appearing of Jesus our Lord.

INTRODUCTION:
When we are not with our children we wonder, “How are they doing without us present?” We may be away a little longer than expected. Some unexpected traffic jam, or we make a detour to WalMart, or the bookstore, and we are there longer than expected. Parents seem to never end in their wondering abou their kids.

Paul was in a similar situation, only he was being hindered from his “Parental” duties by Satan. He just could not take it any longer, and sent Timothy to be with them in his place, to find out how they were doing.

Timothy brought back that encouraging report, but still, Paul longed to be with and to see his kids; to visit with them and to encourage them.

Looking at Verses 1 – 2 —

“Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; and sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith…” 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2 (KJV)

The word “Wherefore” means this carries on from chapter two – especially verses 19 and 20. Paul sharing with the Thessalonians how he could not wait to be with them, and find out how they were doing in their lives of faith.

Verses 3 – 5 —

“That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.” vv. 3-5

Many times when afflictions hit us we tend to think that God has forgotten us. When we feel that way we can get to a place where we can not-care, and really get into a state of depression. You could say , “We faith” in the faith.

Suffering for Christ’s sake should not come as a surprise to us. When we live holy in Christ Jesus it will come (See 1 Peter 4:12-14 and 2 Timothy 3:12).

Verses 6 – 7 —

“But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith…” vv. 6-7

There is a mutual love between the parent and the child. There is great comfort,even in persecution for the one who founded the Church, to hear of the people’s desire to see him again as well.

Verse 8 —

“For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” v. 8

Caring can steal the strength away. Being unable to build up the Church in faith Paul was fearful for them, that they migh fall away. The heart was heavy. Sleep was slow in coming, if it came. When Paul was not working, preaching, or sleeping he was praying for the Church. They were “Babes in Christ” and they needed nourishment and care.
At receiving the news Paul rejoiced. He could now live free from the worry and care of this infant Church.

Verses 9 – 10 —

“For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?”  vv. 9-10

A desire to see them and help them grow in the faith. A new born child does not have all it takes to grow. A baby needs to be fed. A baby needs to be nourished, and sheltered from harm; and a baby needs to be loved. The same is true of the spiritual child or Church.

Prayer is for the Church what breathing is for the body. The study of God’s Word is for the Church what food is for the body.

Verse 11 —

“Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.” v. 11

If we are to care, and to be cared for we must trust our directions to be led by Jesus in us – which is the Person of the Holy Spirit.

Verses 12 – 13 —

“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” vv. 12-13

Paul’s prayer:
1. Increase and abound in love (agape’);
2. In order to “Establish” [be grounded] in heart; set them up as stable, unshakeable sanctuaries of peace;
3. Blameless in God’s holiness – To be holy is to be clean and fit for God’s Spirit to use.
We are called upon throughout the Word to be fit, to be holy for His use and service. Here we are told to be “Blameless in holiness” meaning God’s holiness. We must be clothed in that if we are to be caught up with the rest of the saints.
The saints mentioned here are the souls and spirits of the departed dead in Christ referred to in chapter 4:14.

 

Living As Christians In The World Today (3)

The Christians Hope

To show that caring Christians live not for themselves but for the Lord and those who have come to Christ through their ministry.

INTRODUCTION:
Paul calls the Thessalonian Church to remember how it was when he came to them. He reminds them how he worked and labored; howhe had suffered persecution, realizing they were suffering persecution as well.

The concern Paul had, as any man of God does, is that the people be strong in the faith. There were and are temptations which lure God’s children off the path of living the Christian life. It is especially so in the time of Paul’s letters to them, and as the time of the return of Christ draws nearer.

What joy there is for a mother and father who raise their children in the precepts, statutes, judgments, and commandments of the Lord when their child gives their life to Him. When a father teaches his son how to safely operate the farm tractor, and that boy takes it up like he was born on it, and almost may have been. The joy, the hope of the Christian (The active Christian) is when he/she sees one they have taught living according to God’s Word. What joy Paul must have felt and received when word came to him how these had grown in the faith.

Looking at Verses 1 – 2 —

“For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: but even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.” 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2 (KJV)

There is great assurance in these verses. The work of God is never in vain. If oneperson comes to Christ as a result of our presence it is not in vain. This Church was a very active Church, and very much alive. They were not in the least way in danger of losing their candlestick.

Even though persecution arises we are to continue to be bold with the message and gospel of Jesus Christ. When we are persecutied for our faith, and because of our boldness of speech we should approach it just like Peter and John, and all the Apostles did in Acts chapter four. They were commanded not to speak in that Name (The name of Jesus) anymore. They went and told the others, and they all just prayed for more boldness.

Verses 3 – 12 —

“For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: but as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: as ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory.” 1 Thessalonians 2:3-12

The concern of a parent is noticed in these verses. Paul, having been gone for several days, maybe weeks or months, shows his concern for their growth. He reminds them of his work and faithfulness, and the things whichhe taught them the three weeks he was with them.

  • v. 5 – “A flaterer can use either truth or lies to achieve his unholy purpose, which is to control your cecisions for his profit.” Warren Wiersbe. Paul did not use flattery, or manipulation. He was not in it to please Paul or any other human being.
  • v. 6 – If a Christian is to lead he must be sure of his motive. If it is to receive glory from man he will be bought off. The man of God does not seek to please anyone, but God, and His Son Jesus Christ.
  • vv. 7 – 9 – There has been much said about expectant mothers and their drinking of alcoholic beverages. It is because the alcohol gets into the bloodstream from which the baby is sustained, and can cause awful deformities.
    The loving, caring mother will not eat or drink anything that would bring harm to her baby, either before or after it is born. She feeds, and cares for that child holding it close to here heart.
    We are to be as caring and nourishing to the unborn-again, and the new born again as an expectant and nursing mother – just like Paul.
  • vv. 8 – 12 – Servants of God see themselves not as dominant leaders, but as servants to the people, whicle remaining faithful to God.

Verse 13 —

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13

The Thessalonian Church had received God’s Word, not as some new philosophy, but as the word of truth. They received it as it was a living word from the Living God.
They realized the philosophy and teachings of man has no power, no life, and often leads to guilt with no answer, no way out. They, even more, realized the Word of God offered hope for the hopeless man and woman.

The Word of God to the Thessalonian Church was life changing, “Effectively works in you who believe.” There is great thanksgiving for the people who are in such a case.

Verses 14 – 16 —

“For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.” 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

These people were standing for Christ at the peril of their lives. It is Jesus who does the changing in our lives, so it is also He who empowers us to stand in tribulation.
Paul likens the Thessalonians to the Judean Christians who were persecuted for their faith.

No religion is persecuted so harshly as ones personal relationship with Jesus Christ is when it is lived in His presence and power.

The religious establishment are the ones’ who killed Jesus. This by no means is saying that He did not die for our sins. They are also the ones’ who “Do not please God, and are hostile to all men.” This religion also allowed no room for different groups of people, and allowed no one but themselves to be saved. They just keep on heaping their sins, piling them up one upon another, condemning themselves. They bring God’s wrath upon themselves, because they will not accept the salvation God offers to all. “God patiently waits as sinners rebel against Him and He watches as their measure of sin and judgment fills up. When the time is up, God’s patience will end and judgment will fall.” Warren Wiersbe.

Verses 17 -18 —

“But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18

Many times there are hindrances which come into our lives and ministries. Paul experienced this. He says the hindering was by Satan, for only he would hinder the work of the gospel, but I am sure Paul realized that Satancannot do any more than God will allow him to.

The saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”, is not absolutely false. In Paul’s case especially, he longed to be with them, to teach, and guide them in God’s program for their lives.

While we look at this andknow that Satan was hindering Paul from coming to Thessalonica; we can also know that while he was in Corinth writing this letter, Paul was doing a great work there. We can learn a great lesson here. While Satan may be hindering in one place we need to be at work where he is not. Satan can be in only one place at a time.

Verses 19 – 20 —

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For ye are our glory and joy.” 1 Thessalonians 19-20

Giving of gifts can be a very joyous occasion. The giving of a gift should be as joyous to the giver as it is to the receiver.

What a joy it is to see people come to faith in Christ, especially those where you have been used by the Lord to help that person come to Jesus.

The hope, joy, and crown of rejoicing of a soul-winner will be to see all those he has had a part, “In the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming.” That is our glory and joy. What do you have to give to the Lord when you appear before Him at His throne?

Living As Christians In the World Today (2)

Living As Christians In the World Today (1)

Change By The Power of God   continued…

“Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.” 1 Thessalonians 1:4 (KJV)

Verse 4 –
Paul knows them as the “Elect of God” – chosen by God to be His representatives to others, and to live an exemplary life holy and pure.

“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” v. 5

Verse 5 –
The gospel when it is to be affective is to be not only words, but there is also power [significant change], and it is in the Holy Spirit – He who convicts of sin is alsothe One who comforts in Christ.
These messengers of the gospel lived lives that showed forth the power of the gospel. Paul, Silas, and Timothy kept themselves in the power of the Lord.

“And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: so that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.” vv. 6-7

Verses 6 – 7 —
Everyone needs an example to follow. Everyone [Belilevers in particular] needs to be an example to others. As Paul, Silas and Timothy were following the Lord so was the Thessalonian Church. Even in the midst of affliction [persecution], they were living in the joy of God’s Spirit, and it had reached Paul that these people were having and impact in the lives of people around them; even reaching outside the area.

“For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.” v. 8

Verse 8 –
When people have a real faith in God it not only is spoken, it is acted on by others and themselves.
There was no rebuke needed here. Their faith had been heard about, even in other lands.

“For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” vv. 9-10

Verse 9 – 10 —
Jesus had so impacted their lives that their idols they had previously worshiped had been put away (destroyed). They repented [turned from and turned to] and decided to worship the Living God. The One who could, would, has, and does answer prayer. The One who promised to deliver from “The wrath to come”.

BE READY JESUS IS COMING SOON.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; that He died on a cross for your sins, was buried and rose again from the dead; and He is alive forever more.