William Franklin "Billy" Graham Jr. was born on November 7, 1918 at 3:30 PM in Charlotte, North Carolina and died at his home in Montreat, North Carolina on February 21, 2018 at 7:33 AM at the age of 99.1 According to the way mortality records are currently kept, a person's life begins on the day they are born, and it ends on the day they die. God, however, looks at the lifespan of mankind on earth differently from the secular world and reveals His view of the beginning of life repeatedly in His written Word, the Bible.
The term "seed" is used in the Bible, frequently in the book of Genesis, to refer to the basic unit of life from which all life, including plants and animals, emanates. The word "seed" is also used in both the singular and plural form to refer to people and their descendants (Genesis 1:11, 4:1, 25). What modern, human, reproductive biology calls an "egg" in the female and a "sperm" in the male, is referred to as a "seed" rather extensively throughout the Old and New Testaments. It is inferred that life begins at conception, when the male and female seeds unite before entering the womb, and not after the birth of the child, as some in the secular world would have you believe (Psalm 139:13-17).
The Conception and Birth of Jesus
"But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.'" Matthew 1:20
"Then the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus....' Then Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I do not know a man?' And the angel answered and said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.'" Luke 1:30-37
"So it was, that while they were there, [Bethlehem] the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn...And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb." Luke 2:6, 21
The Conception and Birth of John the Baptist
"There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years...Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, 'Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb...' So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 'Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.'" Luke 1:5-7, 11-15
"Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.
And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.'" Luke 1:39-44
"Now Elizabeth's full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her. So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. His mother answered and said, 'No; he shall be called John.' But they said to her, 'There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.' So they made signs to his father-what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, 'His name is John.' So they all marveled. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God." Luke 1:57-64
When does Human life Begin?
The Bible's Viewpoint
According to many Old and New Testament Scriptures and specific, Scriptural evidence presented by Matthew and Luke, human life begins at conception and not at the physical birth of a child. Proof of human life beginning at conception is confirmed by the "angel of the Lord" when he proclaims that Elizabeth's son John would be "filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb..." (Luke 1:11-15). If John's life had been terminated in his mother's womb, prior to his birth, Jesus would not have been able to say "among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist..." (Matthew 11:11, Luke 7:28). Was John alive and a developing person in his mother's womb before he was born? The words spoken by the angel sent from God and Jesus' words confirm that John (the Baptist) was a living person in his mother's womb before he was born and was not just a clump of insignificant cells as some incorrectly claim. Does anyone alive today believe they were not a human being in development before they were born?
The Scientific Viewpoint
When does the secular, scientific, and medical world believe that human life begins? There has been great scientific advancement in the biological and reproductive life sciences in the past century that has helped improve the understanding of human life- especially its creation and development. Credible, scientific, medical research reveals conclusively that human life begins at conception, which is in complete agreement with the teachings in the Bible.
According to the American College of Pediatricians: "The predominance of human biological research confirms that human life begins at conception-fertilization." 2
"Development begins at fertilization when a sperm fuses with an ovum to form a zygote; this cell is the beginning of a new human being." 3
"After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being...[this] is no longer a matter of taste or opinion, it is not a metaphysical contention, it is plain experimental evidence...." 4
"An individual human life begins at conception when a sperm cell from the father fuses with an egg cell from the mother, to form a new cell, the zygote, the first embryonic stage. The zygote grows and divides into two daughter cells, each of which grows and divides into two grand-daughter cells, and this cell growth/division process continues on, over and over again. The zygote is the start of a biological continuum that automatically grows and develops, passing gradually and sequentially through the stages we call fetus, baby, child, adult, old person and ending eventually in death. The full genetic instructions to guide the development of the continuum, in interaction with its environment, are present in the zygote. Every stage along the continuum is biologically human and each point along the continuum has the full human properties appropriate to that point." 5
"A neutral examination of the evidence merely establishes the onset of a new human life at a scientifically well-defined "moment of conception," a conclusion that unequivocally indicates that human embryos from the one-cell stage forward are indeed living individuals of the human species; i.e., human beings." 6
The Length of Human Pregnancies
The terms "pregnancy" and "gestation" refer to "the process of carrying or being carried in the womb between conception and birth." 7 How long is the human pregnancy process? A report produced by Oxford University Press reveals the following:
"...researchers in the USA have been able to pinpoint the precise point at which a woman ovulates and a fertilized embryo implants in the womb during a naturally conceived pregnancy, and follow the pregnancy through to delivery. Using this information, they have been able to calculate the length of 125 pregnancies. "We found that the average time from ovulation to birth was 268 days - 38 weeks and two days," said Dr. Anne Marie Jukic, a postdoctoral fellow in the Epidemiology Branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (Durham, USA), part of the National Institutes for Health.8 One online encyclopedia puts the average length of pregnancy at 270 days with the minimum length at 259 days. 9 Another source puts the average pregnancy length at 266 days. 10
The three sources cited above give the average human pregnancy length as 268, 270, and 266 days, respectively. The median number of days from ovulation to birth is 268 days in these three sources, which also coincides with the average length of pregnancy found in Dr. Jukic's research.
The Conception and Birth of Billy Graham
This is not an attempt to draw a comparison between the life of Billy Graham and the supernatural intervention of God in the life of Jesus and John the Baptist (Matthew 3:17, 11:11). Rather, the beginning of physical life in the wombs of both Mary and Elizabeth were at conception and not when Jesus and John were physically birthed into the world. As mentioned earlier, Dr. Billy Graham died on February 21, 2018 at the age of 99. If he had lived another 260 days to his birth date on November 7, 2018, he would have been 100 years old, according to the way mortality records are maintained today by funeral homes and published in newspapers.
Both Biblical and scientific evidence points toward life beginning at conception. As we learned earlier, the average length of pregnancy from conception to birth is around 268 days but can vary several days in either direction depending upon a variety of factors. Backing up chronologically, 268 days from Billy Graham's birth on November 7, 1918 gives a possible conception date of February 13, 1918 for the real beginning of Billy Graham's life on this earth.
Although God alone knows the actual date of conception for Billy Graham, it is probable that his real life on earth began sometime during the first three weeks of February, 1918, and he was born around nine months later on November 7, 1918. It is even possible that his life could have begun on the same month and day that it ended. Although the world considered Billy Graham to be 99 when he died on November 21, 2018, from God's viewpoint, he had probably already arrived at the century mark (100 years). God permitted Billy Graham to live 20 to 30 years beyond today's normal life span of 70 to 80 years (Psalms 90:9-10) in order to preach the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to many people in the world and to complete the marvelous plan for his life that God had ordained (Ephesians 2:10, 2 Timothy 4:5-8, Psalm 37:23). Billy Graham, like the Apostle Paul, was ready to go Home!
Before Billy Graham left this world to become a citizen in the heavenly, New Jerusalem (John 14:1-3, Revelation 21:1-4), he gave this encouraging exhortation to his audience: "Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don't you believe a word of it! I shall be more alive then than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God."
"But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." 2 Timothy 4:5-8
"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way." Psalm 37:23
Friday, March 2, 2018
One of the objections offered in response to the position that God's grace is greater than all our sin refers to the passages in Scripture that enumerate specific sins together with the warning that those that commit these specific sins "shall not inherit the Kingdom."
The objection in part, reads this way:
"Paul says in several verses in Corinthians, and Galatians that some behaviors will keep us from inheriting the Kingdom.
First, I assume he means the Kingdom of Heaven. Second, I assume he means if we are doing those things and don't stop, we cannot inherit the Kingdom.
These are very difficult verses for me. He is clear and specific. If doing these things will keep one from inheriting the kingdom, and a person is claiming to be saved, but continues to do them anyway, is Paul a liar if he says you can't go to Heaven if you do these things?"
In the end, the questioner asks, "Wouldn't it be better to choose not to sin?" These are fair questions -- especially that last one, so I will start with it.
Q. "Wouldn't it be better to choose not to sin?" A. "Yes." Gee, that sounds easy. Doesn't it?
But Adam and Eve found it a bit more difficult than that. They were created perfect, without an ingrained sin nature, and they only had one commandment to obey.
Their commandment was clear and specific:
"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (Genesis 2:17)
They didn't have to worry about graven images, or keeping the Sabbath or not stealing or bearing false witness . . . they only had one commandment and it was a singular negative.
"You can do anything. Nothing is forbidden, except for this one, little, insignificant command NOT to eat from this one little tree."
That was it. One little commandment. Not ten. Just one.
Adam and Eve did NOT live in a sin-sick, demon-infested, fallen world filled with temptations specifically designed to trigger an in-bred, universal sin nature. They lived in perfect fellowship with God, with Whom they walked in the Garden in the cool of the evening.
Wouldn't it have been better if they had chosen not to sin?
What if God gave them a second chance? Suppose God said, "Ok, you guys are new here. I didn't tell you about the serpent. You aren't very sophisticated -- of course you were blindsided. Now you know the difference between good and evil. So what? Let's just forget about this time and move on. Go, and sin no more."
Clearly, the option not to sin is always there. But man's nature is what it is. We are sinners by nature. It is what we do. It defines us. We are the only natural, created beings that are capable of sin. It is what defines us -- it is what separates us from the lower order of mammals.
My dog cannot sin. She can do things that are against the rules, and she can do them willfully, but she cannot sin. She knows only what is forbidden, not why. She feels no guilt when she disobeys. She has no individual self-awareness.
Sinning is what we do. NOT sinning is unnatural, which is why the "natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14)
However, when we become saved, we receive an additional component -- a "quickened" spirit, at which time we become a NEW creature, (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 6:15). The new creature is capable of receiving the things of God, but the new creature continues to reside inside the old one.
"I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."
This is the dual nature of the Christian -- a supernaturally quickened new creature temporarily trapped inside the old one. Literally, it is the spirit of life trapped inside a body of death.
"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." (Romans 7:21-25)
Wouldn't it be easier just to choose not to sin? One would think so. But no human being in the history of man, from Adam until now, (excepting the man, Jesus Christ) ever managed to pull it off.
Including the Apostle Paul . . . which brings us to the second objection, to wit: "Is Paul a liar if he says you can't go to Heaven if you do these things?"
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6:10-11)
Let's begin with the most obvious issue. Who are the unrighteous? Are they those that do the things enumerated on that list? Does that mean a fifteen year old girl that never did any of these things is righteous?
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:" (Romans 3:10)
So even if one never committed fornication, idolatry, adultery, self-abuse, theft, was never covetous, never took a drink, never said anything evil of someone else or ever committed extortion, such a one was already unrighteous, according to Romans 3:10.
How does one become righteous?
"For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." (Romans 4:3)
"But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." (Romans 4:5)
"Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works . . ." (Romans 4:6)
"And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness." (Romans 4:22)
So, the unrighteous that do all these things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But unto the unrighteous that believe, God imputes righteousness.
"Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences and was raised again for our justification." (Romans 4:23:25)
So, righteousness is imputed unto the unrighteous, by believing in Him that was delivered for our offenses and raised again for our justification." Works -- bad OR good, cannot be relevant if salvation comes by faith alone.
Now, what about Galatians 5:19-21? Paul here is addressing the works of the flesh. Saved people are still 'in the flesh' until they take their last breath. (Romans 7:25)
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
Go back to the top of the passage.
"Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." (Galatians 5:4)
Does this mean that somebody who is justified by the law and "fallen from grace" has lost their salvation? No. It says that if you seek to be justified by the law, then you haven't sought justification by grace.
The odd thing about teaching eternal security is that it almost sounds like one is defending a RIGHT to sin, rather than acknowledging the reality that sin is part of being in the flesh, and that in the flesh "dwelleth no good thing, for to will is present with me." (Romans 7:18)
Because it sounds like a defense of sin, it is easy to argue against it. That's what makes the simplicity of Christ so complicated.
Sin is not all right. Sin is not good. Sin is not ok with God. Sin has no defense. Neither does a sinner. That's why we need a Savior.
Sin has consequences, here on earth, at the Bema Seat before Christ, and subsequently into eternity in heaven. Not everybody will be made a ruler over ten kingdoms, or ten cities.
But everybody who stands before the Bema Seat is saved.
In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus pronounced blessings, or beatitudes, for certain groups of individuals.
Note with me that all of them are future tense -- "they SHALL be" comforted, they SHALL inherit the earth, be filled, obtain mercy, see God, be called the children of God, etc.
ALL of them, that is, except two.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs IS the kingdom of heaven."
Notice that the rest will inherit the Kingdom, but that the poor in spirit ALREADY have. The Expositor's Bible Commentary defines the "poor in spirit" this way:
"To be poor in spirit is not to lack courage but to acknowledge spiritual bankruptcy. It confesses one's unworthiness before God and utter dependence on Him."
That does not sound like the kind of person that believes his eternity is settled according to his ability to choose not to sin.
The second group that have ALREADY inherited the Kingdom of Heaven are "those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs IS the kingdom of heaven."
Is the Lord talking about personal righteousness? Well, let's put it another way. Is there such a thing as personal righteousness? I believe that is an issue asked and answered already.
Either there is NONE righteous -- or there is. Which is it? BOTH cannot be true.
"Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matthew 11:11)
So he that is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is already greater than was John the Baptist. So it would appear that being the least in the Kingdom of Heaven, one is still IN Heaven. How does one become called "the least" in the Kingdom?
"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:19-20)
Those that are saved, but that break the commandments and teach others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but they will still BE in Heaven.
Again, explaining the doctrine of eternal security is not an ENDORSEMENT of sin, but a recognition of reality. All men sin, including saved Christians. So if the standard for salvation is to trust Jesus AND sin no more, heaven will be empty.
And if sin is on a sliding scale, that is to say, some saved sinners will go to heaven but other saved sinners will not, based on HOW sinful they are, then the standard for righteousness is not by faith alone, but by faith plus UNDEFINED works.
Sin is a "work" -- it is something you have done -- nobody else can sin for you. Sin is your work and yours alone. God doesn't make you sin. Neither does Satan. Only you. Sin is the most intimate and private of all human endeavors.
If your salvation is dependent on your works, then so is your righteousness. If your works can make you unrighteous, then you are NOT clothed in the righteousness of Christ, you are clothed in your own.
Any other understanding makes both you AND Satan more powerful than Jesus, since Satan can trick you into sinning, whereas the Bible says that having paid the penalty for all sin once and for all, Jesus sat down at the right Hand of the Father. (Hebrews 10:12)
In the final analysis, salvation is so simple that it is too complicated for us to grasp intellectually. That is why the Lord says we must have the faith of a child. A child doesn't wonder if he deserves what his father provides for him.
"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein."
It would be better to simply choose not to sin. Indeed, Christians make that choice every day. Except for the times that we don't. And that is why we need a Savior. Not just at the point of salvation, but for every single step that we take in our walk with Him.
"Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6)
Salvation cannot work any other way.
- By Daniel Payne -
Thinking of the Lord's coming rapture does not produce terror for true believers. It is a hope that produces excitement and comfort for those eagerly anticipating His return.
"Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18).
In the verses above, taken from the fourth chapter of Paul's first letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul revealed the wonderful "mystery" (1 Corinthians 15:51) of the Rapture of the Church. In the time period after the Thessalonians received Paul's first letter, they suffered even more severe persecution.
This intense persecution suffered by the Thessalonians caused them to be deceived into thinking that they were experiencing the first phase of the Day of the Lord, the time of God's wrath which takes place during the entire Tribulation.
After receiving word of the deception being propagated among the church at Thessalonica by false teachers that the Day of the Lord had already begun, Paul wrote a second letter to the Thessalonians:
"Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).
You may ask, if the Thessalonians believed that the Rapture takes place at the end of the Tribulation, why would they be so troubled if they believed that the return of the Lord Jesus and the Rapture was near? After all, the Lord Jesus Himself said that He would return on the clouds with power and great glory:
"Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:27).
Shouldn't they have been looking forward to this instead of back to the beginning of the Day of the Lord?
The Lord Jesus encouraged those who would see the Day of the Lord "begin" to happen to look to the skies for their redemption with Him:
"Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near" (Luke 21:28).
Again, why would the Thessalonians be so upset if they expected the Lord Jesus to arrive at the end of the Tribulation? Wouldn't they be looking forward to His soon return, knowing that the clock had started and His return was very near?
Could it be that instead of being dismayed that the Lord would soon return to Rapture them, that they were actually upset that they had missed His return for them?
"If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:3).
The Thessalonians also knew that Jesus said there was a way of escape:
"Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36).
Paul had already explained to the Thessalonians in his first letter to them that they would not be caught off guard by the arrival of the Day of the Lord:
"But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape" (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3).
The Thessalonians knew that it was the children of the night who would be caught off guard and would "not escape" the sudden destruction. They knew that the Lord Jesus had told them to watch "and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things."
They expected the Day of the Lord to arrive during a time of peace, not persecution. That's why they were confused and deceived into thinking, based upon the persecution they were currently suffering, that the Day of the Lord had already arrived, catching them off guard, and they did not escape.
Remember, Paul spoke of the Rapture of the Church in the verses just before he told the Church that she would not have to be caught off guard by the return of Jesus, in 1 Thessalonians 4:17-5:4. Imagine no chapter break between these verses.
Paul also said that the world will be in a state of false peace when the Day of the Lord begins. He said that the Day of the Lord begins unexpectedly like a thief striking in the night, because the world will believe that it has achieved some sort of "peace and safety;" therefore, they will not be expecting an imminent cataclysmic event.
The world will be caught off guard in regard to the Day of the Lord; however, true believers will not.
If, as some say, the Rapture of the Church takes place at the end of the Tribulation, wouldn't it mean that during the Rapture the Lord Jesus will descend to the earth after the Battle of Armageddon and begin the Judgment of the Nations (Matthew 25:31-46), and subsequently begin His in-Person reign?
If the Thessalonians expected Jesus to return to the earth at the Rapture, then why weren't they ever more earnestly looking for His visible return? Why didn't Paul, in an effort to reassure and comfort, reaffirm to them all of the rules on how to survive the Tribulation by denying the antichrist, and not being deceived by false miracles, etc.?
Another indicator of a Pre-Trib Rapture: Did Paul tell us to ridicule and shame each other in regards to the coming of the Lord? No, he did not.
How "comforting" is it to run around ridiculing and mocking everyone who is looking for Jesus to return at any moment? It's almost as if some people enjoy "warning" those of us who hope in the return of Christ that we are going to be shamed when the Tribulation begins, and that we will have to suffer right alongside everyone else who hates our Lord.
How many times did Paul tell us to comfort one another instead of ridicule each other in regards to the return of the Lord? How many times did Paul try to comfort us?
"Therefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
"Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing" (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work" (2 Thessalonians 2:15-17).
The Thessalonians believed Paul when he told them that they were not appointed to suffer the wrath of the Day of the Lord. What began as a comfort to them was twisted into deception. That's why they were so upset when they were deceived, no doubt through mocking and ridicule, into believing that they had missed the Rapture.
That is also why it is much more likely that Paul appealed to the Thessalonians that the Day of the Lord had not yet begun, on the basis that the Rapture will take place before the Tribulation:
"Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).
"For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
Strong's 4991 Cognate: sōtēría (from 4982 /sṓzō, "to save, rescue") - salvation, i.e. God's rescue, which delivers believers out of destruction and into His safety.
Maybe today is the Day of the Rapture.
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
By Pastor Mike Taylor
19 “And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them.
20 And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the Lord, and are gone forth out of his land.
21 But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went.
22 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.
23 And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.” (Ezekiel 36:19-23)
We live in an age of miracles. Who would have dreamed the advancements that have been created in a short, by comparison of the last 125 year, to the history of mankind. But science has made great advances in medicine on understanding genetic codes, some good, and some not so good. As it was in the days of Noah, mankind has mastered many secrets to life, but have done things that God destroyed the whole earth because of doing things against His Creation. Man attempts to merge DNA's of humans and animals in test tubes is an abomination before God. To create artificial intelligence and make man a hybrid of machine and humanity. Then man has been able to manipulate weather such as using HAARP but creates havoc using such devices to control the elements.
Then we see the advances in space travel and I remember the news coverage when we first landed a manned space craft on the moon. Man expects in the future to travel to distant stars, to Mars and other planets outside our atmosphere. It appears there is nothing that mankind cannot do....to a point, that God will allow. Mankind has limits that are in the bounds of time, which we cannot control. We see the past and learn from history, but we cannot see the future and make any type of predictions, as we can only guess.
ISRAEL, A MODERN DAY MIRACLE
Take for example the restoration of Israel as a modern day democracy after almost 2000 years of being destroyed as a nation on earth. No one would have believed 150 years ago OR even 80 years that Israel would ever come back to her native country as we have seen in the last 70 years. Israel was virtually uprooted in 702 BC by Sargon II who conquered the northern half of the nation we now know as Israel and carted the people to distant lands, scattering them to the four winds and placed other people conquered into the land to prevent an uprising and rebellion of nations they conquered and overran. It is how the Samaritans came to be in the northern half of the once great nation of Israel in the days of Jesus. Likewise, the southern half of Israel, know as Judah was taken captive by the Kingdom of Babylon and finally returned after 70 years of exile. But in 70AD Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple burned and the nation of Israel was no more when in 135 AD the city was sown with salt and plowed under and the national name was changed to Palestine by the Roman Empire after the name of the Philistines in Gaza area.
Still the prophets wrote confidently by Holy Spirit moving them to write, that in the last days, Israel would again be reborn in her own land. Once again the Hebrew people would inhabit real estate from which they were displaced, seemingly forever.
"And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country." (Ezekiel 34:13)
"After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them." (Ezekiel 38:8)
In this passage, we find a time frame in Ezekiel's prophecy that would come to pass as he said “after many days, in the latter years”. They would be brought forth from all the nations that they had wandered to and be brought to the ancestral lands to a land who had always been laid waste for near 2000 years. A place when Mark Twain visited called it the most desolate place he had ever seen on earth. Nothing grew and there were no trees, but only desert and barren hills.
"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy." (Daniel 9:24)
2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” (Zechariah 12:1-3)
Zechariah goes into great detail in chapter 12-14 of the redemption of Israel and is further proven in Revelation chapter 4 all the way through to chapter 20.
Jeremiah states further, that this is the time of Jacob's trouble:
7 “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.
8 For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him:
9 But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.” (Jeremiah 30:7-9)
"For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet I will not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished." (Jeremiah 30:11)
THOSE THAT DWELL ON THE EARTH.
There is also a second group that go through the Tribulation, right along with Israel:
"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." (Revelation 3:10)
Remember me telling you in times past, that the phrase “Keep thee from” is found in the original Greek in the word “EK” or meaning to keep from the hour, to separate those from the time and space. To bring them out of, not through an event. In this case, Jesus is talking about the coming Tribulation that will try “them that dwell upon the earth”. And the Church is not part of the Tribulation, as Jesus will take us “out of” His coming wrath poured out.
7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:6-8)
8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” (Revelation 17:7-8)
These are the people, those that dwell upon the earth, who do NOT have their names written down in the Book of Life and will take the mark of the beast.
In contrast to these earth dwellers, Jesus says of the Church in His prayer at Gethsemane;
14 “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” (Malachi 3:2-4)
15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” (Revelation 14:14-20)
10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” (1st Thessalonians 1:9-10)
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4)
3 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.
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
8 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.
9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1st Thessalonians 5:1-9)
Then we read in verse 5: "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." (Note the change -- 'they'- 'them' become 'we'- 'us')
Then in verse 7, Paul tells us the difference in “we,us” in verse 5, by differentiating between those that sleep and are drunk:
"For THEY that sleep sleep in the night; and THEY that be drunken are drunken in the night."
And finally, tells us that we must be vigilant "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."
There is a clear distinction between Jewish people who are alive during this time, and earth dwellers who are also going through the Tribulation, and “US” the Church, but let me make a point here.
Look at verse 8 above. It refers to the “hope of salvation”. What does that mean?
19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” (1st Peter 4:17-19)
The church is being judged now. We are saved by the Blood of Jesus and have salvation from eternal punishment that is found in hell and the Lake of Fire.
"I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them from my hand." (John 10:28)
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.