Our Blessed Hope

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As we wrap up our series looking at our foundational belief statements, I want to combine the last four statements together, not only because they all cover the same theme of end-times events, but also because these statements should give every Christian hope! 

  • “Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate.” —G.K. Chesterton 
  • “One of the great enemies of hope is forgetting God’s promises.” —John Piper 
  • “Hope is not wishful thinking; it’s well-founded believing!” —Craig T. Owens 

Christians have a fantastic, unshakable, blessed hope on which we can stand not only secure but joyful! 

Foundational truth #13: “The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the church.” 

This blessed hope in the future helps us live with joy today! Knowing that death has been defeated and Jesus will come back to take us home with Him should fuel us to say “no” to the temporary pleasures of sin, and live such godly lives that it turns others’ eyes to Jesus (Titus 2:11-14; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). 

Foundational truth #14: “The second coming of Christ includes the rapture of the saints, which is our blessed hope, followed by the visible return of Christ with His saints to reign on earth for one thousand years.” 

Sometimes you will hear Christians talk about the “rapture” of the Church. Although this word itself isn’t in the Bible, the Greek word harpazo in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 means “catching up.” It also means “to eagerly claim for one’s self,” which reminds me that Jesus is thrilled to bring His Bride home to be with Him forever! After the Church has been caught up to Heaven, a period of tribulation will plague the earth, followed by Christ’s Second Coming and His millennial reign (Zechariah 14:4-5; Revelation 19:11-15; 20:1-10). 

Foundational truth #15: “There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” 

Christians have no fear of the second (or final) death because our names are written in the Book of Life (Luke 12:4-6; Revelation 20:11-15). Not only is there judgment for the wicked, but there will be rewards for the righteous. 

Foundational truth #16: “In keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Revelation 21-22 give us a small glimpse of our eternal home. 

In light of these truths, how should Christians live while still on earth? I think there are three ways we should live: 

  1. Live circumspectly
  2. Live on-mission
  3. Live unafraid

(see Ephesians 5:15; Matthew 28:18-20; Proverbs 24:11-12; Jude 1:20-25) 

With this blessed hope of the Second Coming of Jesus and our security in knowing we will remain with Him forever, let’s tell everyone we can how they too can know what it is to live with this hope in their heart. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series exploring our foundational beliefs, you can access the full list by clicking here. 

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Looking Ahead To The Second Advent

Celebrating Advent means both looking back at Christ’s First Advent in Bethlehem and looking ahead to His Second Advent at the end of time. Faith in the First Advent fuels hope in the Second Advent. Let’s take a look at the events leading up to and surrounding Christ’s Second Advent to help us appreciate what was begun at His First Advent.

Overarching all of the end times events is a Christian’s blessed hope: “The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the church.”

The word “rapture” doesn’t appear in Scripture, but we get this word from the Latin word raptu, which comes from the Greek word harpazo. We first see it when Philip is “caught away” from the Ethiopian’s presence in the desert (Acts 8:39). This is the same word Paul uses when he says that Christians will be “caught up” to meet Christ in the air (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

Note that the rapture of the Church is not the Second Coming of Christ. His Second Coming takes place at the end of the period known as the Tribulation when Jesus returns to earth as a conquering King and establishes His Millennial Reign on earth (Revelation 19:11-16; 20:1-4).

During Christ’s Millennial Reign, the devil and his cohorts are locked up until the end of the 1000-year reign and are allowed to tempt people one final time. The devil will succeed in tempting quite a few people, as he will once again muster a sizable army to attack Christ and His followers. This decisive battle will culminate in the final judgment.

“There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15).

After this will come the New Heavens and New Earth where Christians will commune with God for ever and ever (Revelation 21:1-5, 22-27; 22:1-5, 12-21).

In light of Christ’s First Advent in Bethlehem, and His soon return (His Second Advent), how are Christians to live? In a word: HOPEFUL!

In all of these passages discussing the end times, hope-filled words are used—

  • therefore encourage each other with these words
  • wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior 
  • stand firm … let nothing move you
  • Jesus says, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me

Jesus also pointed out that Heaven is a place “prepared for you since the creation of the world,” while Hell is “prepared for the devil and his angels.” GOD WANTS YOU WITH HIM IN HEAVEN!

As you rejoice in the First Advent, remember that Christ’s First Coming was to provide a way for you to have your sins forgiven and be able to spend eternity with Him. So as we look forward in hope to Christ’s Second Advent we say with the Apostle John, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”

10 Quotes From “Light & Truth—Revelation”

light-and-truth-revelationHoratius Bonar gives excellent insights into the themes in Scripture. Having him as a guide through a challenging text like the Book of Revelation is a precious resource. Check out my review of his commentary Light & Truth—Revelation by clicking here.

“The tendency of the present age is to set aside prophecy as specially belonging to the supernatural, and therefore the incredible and impossible. Let us stand aloof from this incredulity, and welcome the prophetic word as all the more precious because supernatural and specially divine. … Prophecy is a sure word, and it is as blessed as it is sure. Woe to him who slights it! Blessed are all they who meditate on it, seek to know it, and take it for guidance and counsel in the evil day!” 

“Have we realized our own dignity? Do we feel the honour, the privilege, the responsibility of being kings and priests? Do we act, live, speak, feel accordingly? Do our glorious prospects tell upon us now? Are we walking daily in the anticipation of what shall be? Are we working, praying, praising, giving, suffering, denying self, under the influence of that honour which shall so soon be ours?”

“The world scoffs at the message, and believes in no advent save the advent of gold and silver, of commerce and science, of luxury and pleasure. The Church has lost sight of it, and says, ‘My Lord delayeth His coming.’” 

“Is the Church ready for this glorious day? Has she put on her apparel? Has she trimmed and lighted her lamp? Has she filled her vessel with oil? Is she sitting loose from the world? Is she remembering her coming Lord, and seeking to be faithful to Him in His absence? He has entrusted to her His cause, His truth, His honour. Is she alive to her responsibility, and acting accordingly? Is she realizing His nearness and His glory? Is she daily influenced by His sure world of promise, ‘Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with Me?’ Is she labouring and suffering for Him? Or is she self-indulgent, worldly, indolent?”

“Be patient under wrong, and suffering, and weariness, and hope deferred! Fret not! He that believeth doth not make haste; the Lord is at hand; the kingdom is about to come; the tribulation will soon cease; the joy will soon begin; and once begun, it will never end.”

“Live, and act, and walk as sons of morning. Let the world recognize you as such. Let there be streaks of dawn seen upon you.”

“Pity a dark world, and its dark children, that have no hope and no morning before them. Point out the Morning-star to them; bid them look at it; tell them what its anticipated brightness has done for you. Win souls to Christ. Draw many into the kingdom by your words and by your walk. There is little time to lose; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”

“It is not lukewarmness occasioned by the cold passing gradually into heat, but that produced by the heat passing into the cold. … Church of the living God, beware of letting your temperature sink even one single degree.”

“Be separate from the world. Abstain from fleshly lusts. Lay aside all filthiness. Walk soberly. Beware of earth’s folly and idle laughter. Set your affection on things above. Be prepared for suffering. Endure hardness. Take up your cross daily and bear it aloft, and be not ashamed of it. The footsteps of the old saints are still visible on the sands of time. Follow them. Their voice is still heard, and their hand still waves, beckoning you to follow. Believe what they believed.”

“Watch, for satan tries to lull you asleep. Watch, for the world, with it riches, and vanities, and pleasures, is trying to throw you off your guard. Watch upon your knees. Watch with your Bibles before you. Watch with wide-open eye. Watch for Him Whom not having seen you love.”

I will be sharing more quotes from this powerful book in the near future. You can enter your email address by the box that says “Sign me up!” to be notified immediately when these quotes are posted. And be sure to follow me on Tumblr and Twitter for a daily dose of notable quotes.

6 Facts About Angels

Angels from the realms of gloryAngels play a fairly visible role in the First Advent story. As a result, we can begin to piece together some facts about angels from the biblical accounts. In my series on The Carols Of Christmas, I was looking at Angels From The Realms Of Glory, and there is information about the angels in this carol that is well-support from the Scripture.

  1.  Angels were created before the Earth was created, and they celebrated as God created our universe (Job 38:4-7). The Christmas carol says, “ye who sang Creation’s story now proclaim Messiah’s birth,” which we see in Luke 2:8-14.
  2. Angels are messengers sent from God, and they carry a message from God to turn people toward God (Daniel 10:12; Matthew 1:20-23; Luke 1:11-20, 26-38). In the Christmas carol they remind us to leave our contemplations and “seek the great Desire of nations.”
  3. Angels are not to be worshiped, because they are created beings. Lucifer’s desire to be worshipped is what led to his rebellion against God and expulsion from Heaven (Isaiah 14:13-14). And he still tries to appear today as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
  4. Angels long to look into the Gospel that humans can know by personal experience (1 Peter 1:12).
  5. Angels know that Christ’s First Advent is a reminder of His Second Advent (Acts 1:10-11; see also 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
  6. We have been given an angelic responsibility to tell others about Christ’s First and Second Advents (notice that the messengers in the churches are called angels in Revelation 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14; 22:16). The carol reminds us that it’s “all creation” (that includes us!) that joins the angels in praising God.

One of the biggest lessons we need to learn from this Christmas carol, and the corresponding verses about angels, is that we aren’t just celebrating the First Advent. We are anticipating and looking forward to the Second Advent as well! 

Next Sunday we will be continuing our look at the rich messages in the familiar Christmas carols. Please join me!

In the video below, we had some slight technical difficulties. But it clears up about the 5-minute mark, so hang in there!

If you have missed any of the messages in our series The Carols Of Christmas, you can find the full list by clicking here.

Wrapping Up “The Q Series”

Bible questionsI love our annual Q Series where the subject matter for those Sundays is driven by the questions people have submitted to me. It’s a bit scary too! Over the last couple of Sundays I’ve fielded questions on topics like freewill versus predestination, divorce and remarriage, the Trinity, backsliding, and more.

As is usually the case, there were more questions than I had time for, so I’ve attempted to answer a couple of remaining questions via video—

Just because The Q Series is done for this year doesn’t mean I’m done answering questions. I love having these sorts of conversations! So feel free to keep sending the questions my way and let’s search the Bible together.

“Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem.” —C.S. Lewis

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