Author's posts

Rapture Time!

As we near the coming of the Lord an interesting parable we should all read and study is found in Matthew 25. It is the parable of the ten virgins. The lesson here is that when the bride groom comes we need to ready and prepared. 5 of the virgins were prepared and had oil in their lamps and five we unprepared and caught off guard.

We need to be alert to the times and seasons and the things going on in the world in order to be ready for His return. It is a command for us to be alert and ready and to understand the times. Jesus Himself chastised the Pharisees, the most learned men in the Jewish world at that time about the Scriptures, for not seeing and looking for His first coming.

I am attaching two links to a Bible Study and sermon I gave on this topic for your use.

Keep looking up!

Parable of 10 virgins

Parable of 10 virgins

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1356

Caliphate and Islamic Antichrist Coming Together

Antichrist Part 1

Yesterday even Glenn Beck from Fox news did an outstanding job of talking about where what we are seeing in the Middle East today is quickly taking us. We are witnessing the early formation of the Beast Kingdom from Revelation 13. It is sad that a TV personality is making the connections to what is happening around us but most of the Christian church is oblivious to it! And does not even know where in the Bible to find these things about the Second Coming of Christ.

Jesus warned us this would happen. He likened it to what happened at His first coming. The men who should have known better than anyone, the Pharisees, did not see His coming that was foretold in Daniel. Well this is happening again in His church as the majority of Christian pasotrs and leaders are not seeing the Second Coming very clearly.

Jesus warns us in 1 Thess. 5:1-10 that since we are children of God and Light we should not need to be taught these things. We should be alert and looking. here is what this passage says:

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Also in Mark 13:33-37 to Watch! It is a command. The verses say:

Be on guard! Be alert[e]! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

So we need to understand events as they unfold in front of us. I am attaching a great resource for you to try to follow the events around the Caliphate and the Islamic Antichrist for you to study and gain wisdom!

Keep looking up!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1327

Archaeologists Find the Tomb of Prophet Zechariah

Archaeologists in Israel believe they have found the tomb of the prophet Zechariah in a newly discovered church. The church is 1,300 years old and was uncovered in Hirbet Madras in central Israel. It is marked on the Madaba Map as the tomb of Zechariah.

The Madaba Map is an ancient mosaic map of the region that includes modern Israel. It was found ion the 6th century in Jordan.

Zechariah lived around 500 BC. His book is very prophetic in nature and is a bridge between Daniel and Revelation.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1297

Apostasy: It is all around us!

Two more stories developing in the American church that are extremely alarming. The first is from Bill Wilson of KIN.

1. The Emergent Church and Homosexuality: Rewriting Scripture to Justify Sin –
By Bill Wilson, KIN Senior Analyst

WASH–Jan 17–KIN–Cathleen Falsani, Religion Columnist, recently wrote an article claiming that Evangelical Christianity is having a “Great Gay Awakening.” Falsani, you may remember, is the woman who interviewed the current president about his religious viewpoints, and as we all found out through her reporting that the president believes there are many ways to heaven. Falsani, in writing for the Huffington Post, is now saying that what she was taught for most of her life–”that it’s impossible to be both openly gay and authentically Christian”–is wrong. In fact, she quotes leaders of the current Emergent Church movement as saying that the Bible was misquoted and that being homosexual is not a sin.

Its this kind of logic that is at the root of deception in the Church these days. Its the misquoting of scripture. I was recently in a church service, for example, where a person said that the Bible tells us “that even the elect shall be led astray.” This person was making a very good point that we should not just take for fact everything that a preacher says and that we should check it against scripture. Problem is this person’s use of scripture was also misquoting the Bible where Jesus said in Matthew 24:24, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” That’s a lot different than the elect shall be led astray.

It all starts with something innocuous and leads to things like man rewriting the Bible to fit the social morals of the day. Falsani says that the Old Testament prohibits interracial marriage, endorses slavery, forbids women to wear trousers, calls for brides who are not virgins to be stoned to death, and adulterers to be executed. So, she concludes, after quoting heretics like Brian McLaren and Tony Jones–leaders of the Emergent Church–that homosexuality is not a sin. They say that the word homosexual is not used in the Bible. My King James version doesn’t use the word homosexual, but in both the Old Testament and the New, it says that sexual relations between men with men and women with women is sin.

People are told in the Bible how to treat slaves, but clearly Exodus is a condemnation of slavery. There were reasons why God did not want the Jews marrying outside their race. There were reasons for the things in the Old Testament that we see today as strange. We need to accept them, not try to use them to justify sin. Sin is still sin. Homosexuality, whether the word exists in the Bible or not, is still, as Leviticus 18:22 puts it, “abomination.” Just so the Emergent Church heretics understand–its also a sin in the New Testament, as Romans 1:32 says “such things are worthy of death.” It is good that Christ gave us a commandment that may save them from eternal fire–love. If you love someone, you will help them see the true Christ that gives everlasting life.

2. What is Rick Warren Thinking?

The second involves Rick Warren and his affliation and support of New Age doctors in developing a health plan for his church. I have to admit I have been hesitant to criticize Rick Warren. His book, The Purpose Driven Life,  encouraged me when I read it for the first time. I know there are a lot of folks at my church that like him too. But I can’t ignore this one.

Warren decided to lose some weight and do a major health promotion at Saddleback. Of course, everything is BIG at Saddleback so he wanted to get some top name physicians and health consultants. So does he draw from the top minds of evangelicalism? No… he went to the top of of the evil world system.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. ( 2 Tim 4:3)

Warren put himself and now his flock under the care of Drs. Mehmet Oz, Mark Hyman, and Daniel Amen who have developed “The Daniel Plan.” Dr. Oz , an Oprah favorite, is the host of the Emmy-winning “Dr. Oz Show” and professor of surgery at Columbia University.  His medical qualifications aside, he openly admits that he is inspired by occultistEmmanuel Swedenborg.  Swedenborg was an 8th century cult founder who had elaborate conversations “Angels”  who dictated his apostate theology. There can be no doubt that they were fallen angels because he taught that all religions lead to God and denied orthodox Christian doctrines like the atonement of Christ, the trinity and the deity of the Holy Spirit. These aren’t excusable errors. Pastor Warren is knowingly putting his church under the influence of this New Age guru. Has he no discernment? What about shame?

He is also endorsing Hyman, a New York Times best-selling author who promotes New Age Buddhist style meditation via the Shambahala center. Hyman is an advocate of Buddhist Tantric sex practices and the dubious brain science behind his diet plan Change Your Brain, Change Your Body. 

Keep praying for the pastors and men of God in the church. We are called to a higher level of commitment and a deeper knowledge and understanding of Scripture. It is not just a book it is the living breathing Word of God.

Keep looking up!

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1251

The Supernatural is Real!

The supernatural is real folks and we need to be aware that it is going to become more real to us as the return of the Lord nears. The veil will be lifted more and more as Jesus’ return occurs.

Here are two stories that show the veil being removed so that we can see it is real and that it is all around us.

Mysterious Cloud 

The first story involves the descent of a cloud on Mt. Tabor in Israel on feast days and festivals. Science cannot explain a mystery of the cloud, that every year descends on the Mount Tabor where, according to the Bible, the Transfiguration of the Lord took place.

Sergey Mirov, a participant in the research organized this summer by the working group on miraculous signs at the Synodal Theological Commission, the investigation was conducted by Russian and Israeli meteorologists, the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily writes.

According to him, summing up the results, the experts concluded that fog cannot be generated in such dry air and temperature.

Mirov stressed that “descending of the blessed cloud” takes place only in a territory of the Orthodox monastery. He said that during a festival service (miraculous phenomenon happens on the Orthodox feast of Transfiguration IF) a glaring sphere rushes over believers, then the cloud appears above the cross of the Transfiguration Church, it grows in dimensions and descends on believers, covering them and pouring life-giving moisture over them.

In his turn Pavel Florensky, Russian Academy of Natural Sciences academician and head of the working group on miraculous signs, said that his team examined appearance of the Holy Fire at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Easter eve with the help of modern highly accurate equipment.

“The conclusion is simple: the appearance of fire is accompanied with powerful piezoelectrical phenomenon in the church and adjacent territories similar to those that take place during thunderstorms, but there was no thunderstorm… Thus, it means that this event can be considered miraculous,” he believes.

Arizona Shooting Suspect

Have you seen the picture of the man charged with the shooting of Congress woman Gabbie Giffords in Tuscon, Arizona last weekend? The mug shoot shows the suspect, Jared Loughner, with a shaved head, a smirk on his face and his eyes are the eyes of another being. Look at them closely. Those are not the eyes of a human with a soul created by the Master. Those are the eyes of a man with no soul, who has given himself over to darkness. Those are the eyes of evil or demonic possession.

This is real and happening in our world right before our eyes. Again, prior to the return of the Lord this type of activity will be on the rise as the supernautral veil is pulled back and doctrines of demons will florish.

Keep looking up!

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1227

And the Moon will turn into Blood

Read the article I am attaching from Jack Kinsella. Eye opening. Jesus told us there would be signs in the sun, moon, stars prior to His return. You need to really read this article to be informed.

‘And the Moon into Blood’

By Jack Kinsella
The Omega Letter

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come.” (Joel 2:31)

Throughout history, solar and lunar eclipses have been taken as a sign from Deity. In 585 BC, a solar eclipse darkened the battlefield during a pitched battle between the warring Medes and Lydians.

At the sun’s disappearance, both sides laid down their arms and declared a truce.

The ancient Chinese believed it was the sign of a dragon which had swallowed the sun. They believed that the dragon had to be slain to prevent the end of the world.

So every eclipse, they would sweat it out, praying that whoever was facing the dragon would prevail.

China’s ancient astronomers were tasked with predicting when the dragon would arrive to swallow the sun – a time dominated by rituals of drums and chanting.

The emperor depended on the advance notice in order to send his archers to scare off sun-swallowing dragons. Dragons played a similar role in explaining eclipses in ancient India and Indonesia.

Ancient astrologers were very good at predicting eclipses. Besides the Chinese, the Magi of Mesopotamia kept very detailed records and both the Greeks and Romans had similar astrological systems incorporated into their religions.

There was a total lunar eclipse just before Christmas. It was the first total lunar eclipse in almost three years. It was the first total lunar eclipse to occur on the winter solstice (December 21) since 1638 and only the second since the time of Christ.

In addition, the December 21 eclipse was unusually red, due to the eruption of Mount Merapi in Indonesia in late October.

Less than two weeks later and only four days into 2011, a partial solar eclipse darkened the skies over Europe, North Africa and western Asia.

In most years, a solar eclipse is visible from somewhere on earth twice a year, with a corresponding lunar eclipse a couple of weeks later.

This year there will be four solar and two lunar eclipses – the one on January 4th, another solar eclipse June 1, a lunar eclipse June 15, a solar eclipse July 1, another solar on November 25 and a lunar eclipse on December 10.

Mark Blitz, pastor of El Shaddai Ministries in Bonner Lake, Washington, noted the unusual pattern of lunar and solar eclipse activity included a rare ‘tetrad’ to occur in 2014. A ‘tetrad’ is the name NASA assigns to the occurrence of four consecutive lunar eclipses, an event so rare this will be but the 8th time since the time of Christ.

The years 2014-2015 overlap into a Jewish Sabbatical year. Finally, Blitz noted that they will occur on the Jewish Feasts of Passover and Sukkot in 2014 and again in 2015.

J.R. Church noted that the two solar eclipse events will ALSO occur on Jewish Feast days; the first on Nisan 1, the Jewish New Year and the second on Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashana):

“On each of these six Jewish Holy Days, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give her light, Will this happen again in the 21st century? No. Did it happen in the 20th century? Yes, in 1949/1950, the year following Israel’s statehood, and 1967/1968, the year Jerusalem was liberated in the Six-Day War! Before that, you have to go back to 1493 for four successive lunar eclipses on Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles.”

According to J.R. Church, Pastor Mark Blitz, and a number of others, this means that the coming 2014-2015 Sabbatical year is probably the beginning of the “final week of the end of this age” or the Tribulation.

Could They Be Right?

You will probably be surprised at the answer to that question. Yes, they could be right. Jesus said that among the signs of His soon return would be signs in the sun, moon and stars.

He wasn’t specific – He didn’t spell out what the signs would say. But He DID say where to look for them. He said they would be in the sun, moon and stars – but there is more to it than that. He said the signs would be accompanied by the distress of nations with perplexity, or confusion.

The ISV translates Luke 21:25 this way:

“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and there will be distress on earth among the nations that are confused by the roaring of the sea and its waves.”

The signs in the sun are undeniable. For the last two solar cycles, and since the turn of the 21st century especially, the sun has been misbehaving in ways never seen in living memory.

“We’re witnessing something unlike anything we’ve seen in 100 years,” said David Hathaway of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama in a June 14, 2010 article at space.com.

Typically, a cycle lasts about 11 years, taking roughly 5.5 years to move from a solar minimum, a period of time when there are few sunspots, to peak at the solar maximum, during which sunspot activity is amplified.

The previous cycle 23’s extraordinary minimum recorded the highest number of days without sunspots that researchers had seen since 1913, said Hathaway.

According to the report, the sun is “out of synch” and has been since about the turn of the 21st century. And recent observations by astronomers using the space-based Hubble telescope almost always include the word “unusual.”

The unusually weak solar minimum has baffled those True Believers convinced that global warming is both a threat to the planet and caused by human activity. The planet appears to be cooling and human activity seems to have nothing to do with it.

But they continue to warn that without immediate and expensive remedial changes, melting ice in the oceans will cause the sea levels to rise and wash away coastlines.

So we have the sea and the waves roaring, causing worldwide fear and confusion. Particularly since melting ice doesn’t add water volume, but that is another story.

This story is about the possibility that Pastor Mark Blitz and J.R. Church could be right in their observation that the 2014-15 Sabbatical Year could be the first year of the Tribulation Period.

The admonition against date-setting is pretty precise.

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” Matthew 24:36)

“But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up” (Matthew 24:43)

“Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” (Revelation 3:3)

Notice just how specific the admonition against date-setting really is. “The day and hour” – “which watch” and “what hour” – what Blitz and Church are looking at is what year.

Could they be right? Could we be but three years from the Rapture, at the most? Is it possible that they have, by watching the signs, correctly predicted the year the Tribulation will begin?

Sure, its possible! That is why Jesus GAVE us the signs of the times. So we would know what to look for. So we would know when it was near, even at the doors.

I’ll go a step further and say I even think they are probably right. The Lord is coming. And He is coming soon. Very soon. Maybe even before 2014.

It’s as sure as the sun in the morning and the moon at night.

Maranatha!

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1224

Are there many paths to God and Heaven?

This is a really disturbing trend in the world today; did I say Christian world today. The belief that there are many paths to God and to Heaven is really prevalent in the church. This is disturbing as churches continue to turn from the doctrinal truths in these Last Days and rally around worldly doctrines or doctrines that tickle their ears!

I read an article yesterday by Stephanie Samuel pointing out this trend in the current church. Enjoy and really search your heart on this disturbing trend.

Author: Most Evangelicals Believe Good People are Heaven-Bound

By Stephanie Samuel|Christian Post Reporter

 

The majority of Protestants and evangelicals believe that good people and people of other religions can go to heaven, according to author David Campbell.

Campbell, who co-wrote American Grace, How Religion Divides and Unites Us, contends that surveys of 3,000 Americans, used to write the book, show that American people of faith, though devout, are very tolerant. So much so that most believers also believe that good people, despite their religious affiliation, can go to heaven.

Among the faiths, 83 percent of evangelical Protestants agreed that good people of other religions can go to heaven. Ninety percent of black Protestants also believe good people can go to heaven.

When prodded further, more than half – 54 percent – of evangelical Protestants said yes, people of religions other than Christianity can go to heaven. Sixty-two percent of black Protestants agreed with the statement.

Notably, the author mentioned that there may be some in the evangelical category that don’t belong.

Campbell, an expert of religion, politicsand public policy, explained at a Thursday discussion of his book that the numbers can be explained with the “Aunt Susan” theory. Aunt Susan, he said, is the nice family member who is well-loved and is an all around do-gooder.

“You know that if anyone is destined to go to heaven, it’s Aunt Susan,” described Campbell.

However, Aunt Susan is of another religion. Rather than condemn that person to a lost eternity, Campbell said, most American believers choose instead to believe that that person is heaven-bound.

He also shared that knowing an Aunt Susan opens believers up to other faiths.

“You become warmer not only to people of that group, but to people of other groups,” Campbell contended.

Simply put, interlocking social networks allows believers to accept tenants of other faiths.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, works with leaders of many faiths on issues such as stopping pornography, abortion and religious persecution.

“That doesn’t mean that I’m going to abandon the New Testament teaching,” he stated.

Those who do so to accommodate other beliefs “aren’t very good evangelicals,” in his view.

Land lamented that more evangelicals are being taught the doctrine of universalism. “It’s emphasized from the pulpit; it’s emphasized in the seminaries,” he decried.

Universalism is the theological doctrine that all people will eventually be saved despite a relationship with Christ.

He said this is especially true of youths because the messages from the pulpit have changed.

“I think the doctrine ‘In Christ alone’ … was emphasized more 25 years ago than it is today so young [people] are hearing about it less,” he revealed.

While Land said it is possible for Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and even Catholics to follow the tenants of their faiths and have salvation in Jesus Christ, he stated that the same is not true for Buddhists, Muslims and Mormons.

“It is impossible to believe what Mormons believe and be a Christian. It is impossible to believe what Muslims believe and be a Christian,” he said.

Likewise, he acknowledged that there may be unsaved believers among Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and Catholics. Salvation, the biblical requirement for heaven, is an individual and personal choice, he told The Christian Post.

Land said he quotes the Bible’s New Testament which states that there is one mediator between God and men and that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life to all those who ask about heaven. If missionary work and evangelism is to continue on into the future, other Protestants must do the same, he asserted.

“If the price of respecting your faith is to deny mine, then that price is too high,” declared Land.

Campbell’s discussion was held at the Pew Forum in Washington, D.C.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1166

Homosexuality: The New Hot Button Topic in Church

Just in the last few days I have begun to see a more universal pattern in the church in America begin to hit home in the church in my local community. Homosexuality is a sin in Scripture plan and simple. We are not to encourage or condone the practice as followers of Jesus Christ.

We are to love all people, because we are all sinners. Some of us have chosen to recognize it and the need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. Those who do not chose a Savior, we need to encourage them towards Christ, we are to love them and we are to correct them.

So in the light here is the correction part. The church, especially here in America, is openly condoning homosexuality as an approved lifestyle. The main line denominations like, Methodist, Lutheran and Episcopalian are allowing gay marriage and even ordaining openly gay clergy or pastors.

These churches, their leadership and even the majority of their congregations are severely misled on this subject. The Lord Jesus does not want this in His true church. He is returning for a bride without spot and blemish and we are seeing this occur as the wheat is beginning to bow towards the ground as it’s Master approaches and the proud tares are standing high and proud and what truly awaits them is the Master’s sickle and the fire of the furnace.

This is truth and as followers of Jesus we need to stand proud of this! I have many people I know who live this sinful lifestyle, in work or in the community. They are nice and loving people not looking to hurt anyone. But they know where I stand on this issue that it is sin! I am bold in my love for them and bold in my telling them that their lifestyle is sinful.

What got me on this topic was my wife Tracey was reading through the local newspaper and came across an announcement of a Christmas event for here in Columbus, Ohio in the Entertainment and Arts section. It was an ad for the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus opening it’s 21st season with it’s annual performance of Joy! The scary thing is that the venues listed are not secular, THEY ARE CHURCHES! This is an open condoning of this lifestyle. And on top of it they are also allowing the mixing of this sinful lifestyle and to be mixed with the Holy and Sacred! Singing about the birth of our Lord and Savior! These venues are a major United Methodist church near downtown, a large Lutheran church in the northern suburbs and a second large, over 5,000 members, United Methodist church in a northwest suburb of Columbus!

People it is time to speak truth to this world and become the light of Christ. This is happening in our own backyards and it is now time to speak truth or we will be out of time and when we as followers of the Christ stand before Him we will need to answer for this!

Keep looking up!

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1128

Greg Laurie: We are seeing the Signs of the Times

Noted evangelist Greg Laurie from Harvest Church in California and former mentee of Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel in a recent opinion piece on WND.com is stating that we are in fact the Last Days church and are seeing the signs appearing all around us mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13.

Here is his op piece in its entirety:

A NEW BEGINNING
Are these signs of the times?
Exclusive: Greg Laurie considers recent events in view of God’s last-days proclamations


Posted: November 27, 2010
1:00 am Eastern
By Greg Laurie


Awhile back, I was in a restaurant in Arkansas. As my friends and I talked with the server and invited him to the event where I would be speaking that night, he asked me, “Do you think we are living in the last days? Do you think that Jesus Christ will come back in my lifetime?”

With all that is happening in our world today, a lot of people are asking that question. Looking at the recent earthquakes and tsunamis, the aggression of North Korea, the new nuclear capabilities that are being developed by Iran and the continuing threat of global terrorism can cause even the doubters to wonder whether these are the end times the Bible speaks of. Are we living in the last days? Is the end of the world near? Is Jesus Christ coming back again?

There is no bigger event that will ever take place in the world than the second coming of Jesus Christ. And it will happen. It is not a matter of if, but when. I am not the only one who believes it. A Gallup poll revealed that 66 percent of Americans believe that Jesus Christ is coming back to this earth in the future. That is at least 25 percent more Americans than those who claim to be born-again Christians. So it is not only Christians who necessarily believe it. A lot of people are beginning to sit up and take notice, and they believe Christ is coming back again.

When Jesus was asked what the sign of his return would be, he painted a picture of a world torn by strife and war, a world rocked by great earthquakes and ravaged by pestilence, and a world where there would be famine in the midst of plenty. He said, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken” (Luke 21:25 NIV).

The catastrophic tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004, was caused by the fourth most powerful undersea earthquake on record, an earthquake so forceful that it moved the entire island of Sumatra 100 feet to the southwest from its pre-quake position. Geologists said it literally sent the entire planet vibrating and actually interfered with the Earth’s rotation to the degree that time stopped for three milliseconds.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, earthquakes are increasing. Every decade for the past five decades has increased the number of earthquakes – not just minor ones, but what are now called “killer quakes.” It seems as though every catastrophic earthquake that occurs is said to be the strongest ever. Then another killer quake will come along that is even worse than the ones before.

Jesus likened these signs to a familiar human occurrence. He said they are the beginning of birth pains, or labor pains. They are the signs of the times the Bible tells us to be looking for that will alert us to the fact that Jesus Christ is coming back again. So as we see these things happen and increase in frequency, it means his coming is near.

Some people argue this has been going on for hundreds of years, that everyone thinks Jesus is coming back in their lifetime. I will grant that, but I would like to point out one thing to think about: Something really significant happened on May 14, 1948. The Jewish people who had been persecuted throughout history, who had been murdered in the millions by Hitler, began to return – as if on cue – to their homeland. And on that day in 1948, Israel was once again a nation. After the War of Independence, the modern state of Israel was declared, fulfilling a very significant Bible prophecy. It wasn’t just a sign; it was a super-sign. And it happened against all odds.

Still, it left the city of Jerusalem divided, with Jordan retaining control of the old city, including the Temple Mount and most of the historic area. But during the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli forces were able to capture the old city and reunify all of Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem was under Jewish control for the first time in many centuries, and another Bible prophecy had been fulfilled. The prophet Ezekiel said the Jewish people would be scattered and then regathered. After this takes place, he prophesied, Israel then would be isolated and ultimately attacked.

The Bible tells us that the end of the world as we know it, culminating in the final Battle of Armageddon, will happen in the Middle East. It also tells us that Jerusalem will be a key part of that as the nations of the world turn against her. In Zechariah 12:2–3, God said, “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.”

This is why we should not get our hopes too high when we see another Middle East peace treaty being signed. There might be a cessation of violence temporarily, but it will kick up again, according to what the Bible says. God says these things will happen, and he is telling us they are warnings we should be paying attention to.

Frankly, we don’t know what will happen next in our world. Any one of us could be a victim of terrorism or violent crime in these volatile times in which we live. I wish I could say there never will be another tsunami or another earthquake or another hurricane or another terrorist attack. But we live in a fallen world. And we know it will come to an end.

So is the end of the world near? I don’t know for certain, but clearly there are signs of the times.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1117

Heaven & Hell: Reality!

Heaven and Hell Talk

November 14, 2010

 

Heaven

Heaven will be better and grander than anything we can imagine and anything we have ever seen before.

It is important for us to talk about heaven for two reasons: first most people have questions about it like “hey I am a Christian, but I still fear death”. The second reason is since we will be spending a lot of time there if we are followers of Jesus; we need to know a little bit about it.

There are a lot of misconceptions about heaven and I hope to help clarify some of those today. Let’s read 1 Corinthians 2:9. The verse says you can’t even imagine. So you say, “Well, why even try?” We actually need to be thinking about it everyday because it will impact everything else we do in life.

The message of heaven will & should give us hope. Let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14. This passage tells us we are to have hope.

The next part of the talk is the theology of this place called Heaven. Scripture gives us a lot of insight to form our own biblically founded ideas or opinions about heaven. I encourage you when you leave here today to study this topic for yourselves.

A Theology of Heaven

 

The word heaven has interesting rootswhen you do a word study on it. In the Hebrew it is the word “shamayim” meaning “heights”. The Greek word for heaven is the word “ouranos” meaning “to raise up and lofty”. So we know that heaven is a place that is high and lifted up or lofty.

Let’s look at what Isaiah chapter 14 tells us about where heaven is located. This is the story of the fall of Lucifer or Satan. So we know from this passage that in order to get to heaven we need to ascend to it and that it is higher than the stars & clouds. We also know what direction we need to travel: north. An interesting side note about this northern location is that when astronomers look into space through their telescopes that when they point it in a northerly direction that there is a vast and enormous void with nothing there. They can not see where it ends. Could it be it is because that is the entry way into heaven? Just something to speculate on. We now know that heaven is beyond outer space since it is above the height of the stars & clouds.

The next question is how many heavens are there; is there only one? Well there are actually three heavens! First let’s look at 2 Corinthians 12:2-4.  The first heaven is the sky that we can see with our eyes. We find this told to us in passages like Psalm 147:8. The second heaven is space where the sun, moon, stars and galaxies are located. We find this told to us in Genesis 1:14-17. And then we have Paul’s description to us of the third heaven. This is where God’s throne is and where He dwells in the heavenly temple.

Next let’s talk about how we get there? The first way we can get there is if we die. Like I said in the opening one of the most frequent questions asked about heaven, even by believers, is “even though I am a believer in Christ, I still fear death”. Let me tell you there is nothing to fear! Let’s look first at 2 Corinthians 5:5-9.

We have a guarantee from God Himself. That if we are absent from the body then we are present with the Lord. Jesus has won the victory over death. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 tells us of this victory by Christ.

The second way we can go to heaven now is through an event called the Rapture. Let’s look at the event itself in Scripture quickly in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. This event is called the Rapture. When this event occurs believers in Christ alive here on earth will bodily meet the Lord in the air to go be with Him in heaven forever. Those who are already with the Lord will be reunited with their bodies.

We know we go to be with Jesus in this event since He tells us in John 14:1-2. He tells us He went back to the Father to prepare a place for us and that if He went to prepare a place for us that He will come back for us so we can be with Him forever.

What do we look like when we are in heaven for eternity? This is a harder question to answer but let me tell you what we know: 1 Corinthians 15: 51-53 tells us. So we will be changed in a twinkling of an eye. We will put in an imperishable, immortal body to live in for all eternity. Your next question will then be: okay so we have these immortal, indestructible or glorified bodies, but what do they look like and will we know each other. Let me tell you what we do know, we will be recognizable, these bodies will have flesh and bones still. How do I know that? Let’s look at the following passage in Luke 24 where Jesus provides us with a glimpse of what our future bodies will look like. Let’s look at Luke 24:36-43. So what do we see here: Jesus was recognizable by His disciples, He looked somewhat different because they thought He was ghost, He had hands and feet still, He had flesh and bones still and He also ate food with them. So this is what we know for sure about what our bodies will look like.

The last thing we need to cover from a theological perspective is that the present heaven & earth are not the final ones where we will spend eternity. Scripture tells us the following from 2 Peter 3 beginning in verse 10-13. So Peter is telling us that the old heavens will disappear with a roar and the earth will be destroyed by fire. But we should be looking forward to God keeping His promise to us of a new heaven and a new earth being created.

John is given the privilege of then describing to us what the new heaven and earth will look like. Let’s look at Revelation 21:1-4. John sees a new heaven and new earth replacing the old. He sees the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven and a voice tells him that now God is dwelling with man again and that He will live with us. We will be His people for eternity. There will be no more tears, no more death or mourning or crying for all the old has passed and we are with Him forever in perfect bliss.

Hell

 

The dictionary says that hell is “the place where wicked people are punished after death.” There are many people today who do not believe in a real hell. They might say something like this: “I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT A LOVING AND KIND GOD WOULD EVER PUNISH PEOPLE IN HELL!”

God is very loving and God is very kind, but God is also very HOLY and JUST and RIGHTEOUS. Let’s look at Psalm 5:4-5. Now let’s look at Psalm 7:11-12. We must never forget that God is holy and He hates sin.

God is the perfect judge. Let’s read Nahum 1:3. This means that the LORD will not let the guilty go unpunished. He must punish the guilty ones! How many people are guilty before God (Romans 3:19-20, 23) and (Romans 3:10-12)? So what do you think do you deserve to be punished? Everyone deserves to go to hell, but the amazing thing is that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) that everyone who believes on His Son will not perish in hell. God has provided a way for sinful men to be saved from hell’s punishment!  He sent His Son to be punished for us!

What Did Jesus Teach About Hell?

Did the Lord Jesus Christ believe in a real hell (read Mark 9:43-48). Did Jesus Christ believe that there will be a real place of fire and punishment (Matthew 25:41, 46)?

Yes, Jesus Christ believed in a real hell. In fact, Jesus said more about hell than any other person in the Bible. He warned men about the dangers of hell and about the dangers of future punishment.

The Lord Jesus really loves us and that is why He has warned us about hell. What are you going to do with the warning? Think again of the people in the burning house. Suppose that you shout to them: “FIRE! FIRE IN THE BASEMENT! WAKE UP! GET OUT OF THE HOUSE BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE! HURRY UP! FIRE!” What will, these people do? They can believe your warning and believe that there really is a fire and run out of the house or they can say, “WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU! YOU ARE JUST PLAYING A JOKE ON US! WE ARE GOING BACK TO SLEEP!”

They can believe and be saved or they can refuse to believe and perish. The same is true with Jesus warnings about hell.

The Place Called Hades

In Luke 16:19-31 we learn about a poor man who was saved (Lazarus) and a rich man who was not saved (his name is not given). When Lazarus died he was carried by the angels to a place of comfort and happiness where Abraham and the other saved people were (Luke 16:22, 23, 25). But when the unsaved rich man died, what place did he find himself in (Luke 16:22-23)? Was he happy or miserable in this place (Luke 16:24)? Was he comfortable there (Luke 16:25)? Did he want his 5 brothers to come to this same place of suffering (Luke 16:27-28)?

The word hell in Luke 16:23 is the Greek word Hades. Hades is the place where this unsaved rich man went when he died. Jesus called Hades a “place of torture” (Luke 16:28). We are also told that it is a place where people suffer in some kind of fire (see Luke 16:28–“flame”). Jesus described Hades as a terrible place of suffering and misery. It is also a place where people can get no relief from their suffering (Luke 16:24-26). The rich man wanted just one drop of water (the amount of water that a tip of a person’s finger would hold–Luke 16:24), but he did not get what he asked for.

Actually Hades was the place where the dead went and it included both the place of torment (Luke 16:23-24) and also the place of comfort where Lazarus and Abraham were (also called “Abraham’s bosom”).

Where Do People Go When They Die?

In the days before the cross, people would go to Hades when they died.  In Hades there would be a place for the saved and a place for the unsaved:

Hades
(the underworld)
PLACE FOR SAVED Abraham’s bosom
(Luke 16:22)
Paradise
(Luke 23:43)
LAZARUS and ABRAHAM
 GREAT
GULF
FIXED
(Lk.16:26)
PLACE FOR UNSAVEDPlace of  Fire
(Luke 16:24)
Place of  Torment
(Luke 16:28)
RICH MAN

Now that Christ has died and rose again and ascended into heaven, things are different. Today when people die, they go straight to heaven (Philippians 1:21, 23; 2 Corinthians 5:8; 12:2, 4). When Christ ascended up to heaven he took Lazarus and Abraham and all the saved people with Him (compare Ephesians 4:8-10). But when unsaved people die today, they still go to the same place. They still go to Hades, the same place the rich man went in Luke chapter 16.

The Place Called Gehenna

There is another word for hell which is found in the New Testament. This is the word that is found in Mark 9:43-48. It is the Greek word “GEHENNA.”

In Old Testament times Gehenna was a place located outside the city walls of Jerusalem.  It was also called the Valley of Hinnom. It was at this place that children were sometimes sacrificed and burned in flames. Children would be passed through the flames (see 2 Chronicles 28:3). This wicked practice took place at Gehenna. In Old Testament times when people thought of this place they thought of bodies being burned in fire!

Years later Gehenna became the city dump! The Jews living in Jerusalem would throw their garbage and worthless things into this valley. Even the bodies of dead animals would be thrown into this place to be devoured by the maggots and the flames. Sometimes the bodies of unburied criminals were thrown into Gehenna after they were executed or crucified. A fire was kept burning in this valley in order to consume the waste and rubbish and dead bodies that were thrown there. It seemed that the fires in this valley never went out. The place even came to be called THE GEHENNA OF FIRE.

Jesus used the word Gehenna to describe hell (THE PLACE OF EVERLASTING FIRE–see Matthew 25:41). In Matthew 5:29 this word is used (the word hell is the word Gehenna). Do the fires of Gehenna ever go out (Mark 9:43-44)?

Down through the centuries many Christians have been put to death by being burned at the stake. These Christians knew that the fire that they had to go through would only hurt them for a brief moment. But their enemies who put them to death would someday have to suffer in flames that would last forever! Polycarp was a Christian who lived a long time ago (in the second century A.D.). His enemies wanted to burn him at the stake unless he would deny Christ. One of these men said, “I will have you consumed with fire unless you change your mind.” Polycarp replied, “You threaten fire which burns for an hour and is soon quenched; for you are ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment and eternal punishment reserved for the wicked” (see Matthew 25:41,46). The fire that Polycarp suffered through was nothing compared to the fire that the unsaved must suffer through forever!

The Temporary Prison and the Final Prison

When an unsaved person dies, he goes to Hades (as we saw in Luke chapter 16). Hades is like a temporary prison. Unsaved people will not be in Hades forever. They will only be there until the Great White Throne Judgment. After the Great White Throne Judgment they will be cast into the final prison which is called the Lake of Fire. Revelation 20:14-15. This is the place that Jesus meant when he used the word hell or Gehenna.  It is the place where the fire never stops burning.

The lake of fire is the final place where the unsaved will be for all eternity. Those who go into the lake of fire never come out! They will suffer there forever! The fire will never go out. They must stay in this prison forever! The lake of fire is also called the second death. (Revelation 20:14 and see 21:8). Death means separation. The second death is when a person is separated from God forever. Someone has once said, “Those who are born twice (that is, born again) die once; those who are born once die twice” This means that those who are born again only have to die once (they die physically). Those who are not born again will not only die physically but they will also be cast into the lake of fire which is the second death. The second death is for all that have never been born again into God’s family.

Why Do People Deny the Reality of Hell?

Hell is a terrible reality and we don’t like to think about it.  But God’s Word, which is absolute truth (John 17:17) tells us about hell and God wants us to understand it and Christ died to save us from it.  People deny hell for two main reasons:   1) They don’t understand the terribleness of sin in God’s sight;   2) They don’t understand the awesome holiness of God.   If we really understood these twin truths, we would not have a problem understanding why the wicked must suffer in hell forever.

What Is Hell?

When you think of HELL you should always think of two things: 1) Separation from God; 2) Punishment by God.

SEPARATION: Hell is called “THE SECOND DEATH” and this reminds us of separation.
PUNISHMENT: Hell is called “THE LAKE OF FIRE” and this reminds us of punishment.

Jesus Suffered Hell For Us!

What happened to Jesus when He died on the cross? Read Matthew 27:46. Was He separated from God? Read Isaiah 53:4, 5,6,10 and 1 Peter 3:18. Was He punished by God? Indeed, this is the good news found in the Bible! Jesus Christ was separated from God so that we would never have to be separated from God! Jesus Christ was punished by God so that we would never have to be punished by God! Jesus Christ died so that we would never have to be hurt by the second death (Revelation 2:11)! Christ died to save us and deliver us from so great a death (2 Corinthians 1:10)!

You are VERY REAL. Are you REALLY saved or are you REALLY separated from God?

Heaven is REAL. Hell is REAL. Your choice is REAL.

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