Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Should Christians Resist the Antichrist and End Times?

I saw a interview of Dr. Robert Jeffress on The O'Reilly Factor. He was discussing His new Book "Perfect Ending". He is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas Texas. I do not like naming or labeling people usually in things that I write, but today I thought it appropriate. I was and have been blessed by the ministry of Dr. Jeffress in the past. I have listened to him and followed the building project of First Baptist. I appreciate that they stayed in the city instead of moving to the burbs. I also appreciate his boldness in proclaiming the gospel. If you did not see the interview please take a moment and watch it here...

I thought he was very eloquent, and explained the end times well. I was glad that he distanced himself from saying anything like Obama being the Antichrist. Being in Ministry and attending church for my entire life. I have had my steady diet of end times teaching, Bible Studies on Revelation, and novels such at Left Behind, among a smorgasbord of end times books series. Christians are fascinated with the topic. If you want to be noticed in the Christian world then maybe write a book on the topic. But something seemed off to me last night as I watched this interview. Why are we as Christians fascinated with the end times? Then I asked the question, "Should we resist the Antichrist and the onset of the end times?" I think one of the main reasons we are fascinated with the end times is because we love this world too much. Let me explain. The difficulty and hardship during the end times will come before the return of Christ, and we like to talk about it because we want to resist that evil end coming. We want to resist the Antichrist coming into this world because we as Christians want to resist evil, but my question last night was "What happens after the Antichrist returns?" JESUS comes back!!! So I thought as I was considering our fascination with opposing "one world governments" it seems misplaced. Christians who love to talk about the end of this world and seek to oppose politically or otherwise the power that would lead to an Antichrist rising up, seem to want this world to continue in its current pattern as if this world were better than HEAVEN! When Christ will return He will bring with Him the New Jerusalem (which will be better than our wildest imaginations) down from heaven and He will reign on this earth! setting all things right that have been wrong. It seems to me like people who oppose the end could also be accidentally opposing the return of the KING! They like this world too much. As Christians this world is not our home. I want Heaven. I want the rewards that come with it, as Hebrews 11:6 says "Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him". Nothing we can do in this world will prevent God's end coming. It will happen as He has pre-ordained it. The Antichrist will rise as God has allowed it, and Jesus will return as the Godhead have been planning it from eternity past!

As Christians talk about the Antichrist it seems like we also seem to be fighting it because we are afraid of what those terrible days will bring. We should not be afraid of this Antichrist. He is a vanquished foe. We can even talk about him in the past tense "For lo his doom is sure". Jesus will come and destroy him (2 Thess 2:8). Just like his death on the cross destroyed the works of the Devil, he also will destroy that servant of the Devil, the Antichrist. 1 John 3:8 says,

"Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil." 

We should not resist the Antichrist because Jesus has done this work already! He is a defeated foe! To be clear I do not want you to think I am welcoming the evil of the end times. I write this to help us be prepared for the evil and persecution that believers will surely face. However our strength will rise from leaning on Christ to pull us through and strengthen us for the evils that we will face in those times.

Lastly, should we resist the proliferation of overreaching government or the onset of a one world government? Should we resist this foreordained outcome? I am not aware of any command from the Lord for doing this. However we are commanded to make Christ known in the nations (Matthew 28-18-20). And Jesus does warn us that we will be persecuted (Matthew 24:9). All this energy that we exert in the direction of fighting and delaying the inevitable, I believe distracts us and takes us away from the task Jesus has given us of making his victory on the cross, and imminent return known among the nations. As our great 'end times' book Revelation tells us every tribe and nation and tongue will worship the Lamb before the throne in heaven, 

"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands." 

and so our part in that is to make Christ known among the nations so that He can return, and every nation can worship Him too. The reason that He wants the nations to know Him is that they are made up of people, and He loves people.

I am glad that I saw this compelling and thought provoking interview, so that I can realign myself with the great commission of Christ rather than the great commission to oppose the Antichrist and overreaching government. We trust Christ. a bulwark never failing. Let us rest in His strength that will one day will make itself plain!

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Why Does God Hide Wisdom From the Wise?

"At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way! “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:25-30 NLT)

I had always wondered why Jesus said these words found in Matthew 11. It has always puzzled me and even made me think in the past that God was mean. Why would God hide the wisdom of repentance? Aren't all people asked to turn to God and receive salvation? This almost seems out of character for God, or rather of my impression of what God's character should be. He has hidden these things pertaining to salvation from the wise and clever and revealed them to the childlike? really? Wow that almost seems elitist in the opposite direction. And it occurred to me the other day that it has nothing to do with us. First of all, it has everything to do with God and His goodness. Secondly its more about about God than us, and Thirdly ITS MORE ABOUT GOD THAN US!!!

God hides wisdom from the wise because it's more about God than us. What will we say if we see wisdom revealed through the already wise? We might say, "Wow that person is really wise! and becoming wiser. Isn't God so blessed that He has then on His team?" But God reveals wisdom through babes and the unwise because when we all see the unwise and babes exhibiting wisdom as revealed through salvation, then we will know it could have only come through God. We will give glory to God because we realize and know that this particular wisdom could have only come from God! What "things" is Jesus talking about here? God reveals to the unwise and babes certain 'things'? What things did God reveal to babes and the unwise? I believe that the context is salvation. This makes it all the greater that God only reveals it to those of us on the unwise spectrum! I'm very grateful for that personally, more than that I'm grateful because it shows Gods great grace. We could never earn that right to receive this great wisdom of God that leads to salvation. He could only grant it to us through his great kindness and goodness. As Romans 2:4 says, "Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can't you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?" I'm pretty glad it's up to the kindness of God to lead me to repentance because If salvation were up to me it would be like a playground pickup basketball game. I would pick the most talented, the tallest, or at least the ones who look like they can play (ironically I have picked some people who I thought were great players but were really posers). But God picks the least and worst and most unworthy! He goes after the marginalized, the hurt the broken, the needy, the unwanted, the fatherless and the widow. He picks the losers, the outcast, the unloved, the castaways, the ragamuffins and so on and so on. If you are honest with yourself, you and I fit into one of those categories. What a band of misfits He chooses. My point is that He does this not because He is a capricious ogre, but this actually shows how great His grace is when He picks all the worst ball players on the court. It is pretty crazy too that He can do anything with us. He actually turns us around in order that the world could say WOW God has really changed you. What a great God!

Every time that I realize the great upside down grace that God provides to the Church. The grace that He also extends to the hurting world my only response can be worship. Here is a good song to help you respond to whatever God is doing in your heart. Worship Him for His great grace found in Jesus at the Wonderful Cross...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Is Your Selfie Trending Today?

I have been a faithful morning news watcher ever since I have been married. I like to get up in the morning, have my coffee, Quiet Time, and then turn on the news. After I spend time with the Lord, and coffee, I would like to know what is happening in the morning. I appreciate knowing what has happened in our world and being a well informed person. However, I have noticed how the news has moved away from verifiable real news, and toward coverage of the Twitterscape, covering trends, and pop news, and not covering the true news stories of the world that have happened overnight. I noticed on the 'Today Show' they even have a segment and a full room called the Orange Room.
It is set up in their studio to monitor what is "trending today". I am so excited that they have this new room so that I do not miss a tweet, or a tidbit of juicy celebrity gossip, or God forbid any pop news that I absolutely cannot live without. I'm going to call this the 'devolution of news'. Of course we Americans know there is nothing else happening in the world but our nationalistic narcissistic edifices such as Facebook, Twitter, Hollywood, and the like. This nationalistic devolution of our news is just a reflection of the 'culture of me'. Jesus directly attacked that 'culture of me' in his definitive discipleship statement when he said,"if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." The call to discipleship is a call to freely chosen, self sacrificing, service, and death. Sorry but I am afraid that lifestyle is not going to trend very well on Twitter! When we live in this counter-cultural manner we will stick out. We will have that draw, that attraction, that the empty 'culture of me' cannot understand, but will be drawn to when the emptiness of that way of life comes to fruition. Will the Church of Christ flea from the 'culture of me'? Will we seek to glorify Jesus or self? Will we take up our cross by seeking to serve Jesus, and his saints all over the world not just in our own little myopic culture? For instance I was reading the magazine The Voice of the Martyrs today and found out how myopic we might be.  Richard Wumbrand the founder of the a fore mentioned organization said in The Wurmbrand Letters "I am attending now so often church services in America, and I have the constant impulse when the pastor gives the benediction at the end to shout to him, 'But pastor, you have not yet had the religious service.' Every religious service at which the martyrs are not even mentioned, in which a prayer is not offered that God will strengthen their faith, is a divine service which is not valid before God." Maybe Wurmbrand was on to something. What do we set our eyes on? Our super cool selfie? Or rather do we as the writer of Hebrews says, "fixing our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith." I'm Just sayin'