How Long O’ Lord?

It’s interesting how many Christians ‘feel’ the Lord’s return for His church is soon.  When so many people are talking about something, you start to think they might be right. Christians, who believe in the rapture, base their belief on a number of things. Certainly their belief is based on scripture, the condition of the world with the pandemic, the increasing amount of evil, and all the corruption we see in our government.   

And though I agree with their assessment to some extent, the Bible teaches us that the rapture is an imminent event. In another words, it can happen at any time. Usually, we think more about it when things are bad or aren’t going our way.  

The Rapture is a Mystery

The apostle Paul spoke of it as a mystery (I Cor. 15:51).  In the Bible a mystery was truth that hadn’t been clearly revealed before. It was new information. It is something that is made known in a manner and time appointed by God. I have written before about the difference between the Second Coming and the Rapture.  https://assuranceofheaven.com/2020/07/17/the-end-of-days/ 

The Spanish Flu, WW I, & the End of the World

I shared with my friends what Christians might have been thinking in 1918. The Spanish flu began that year killing millions while World War I had been going on for four years (1914-1918). One writer commented, “War, famine, disease and death occurred on a worldwide stage and on a scale that truly was unprecedented.”  Although the rapture was not a prevalent teaching then, I’m sure many thought the end was near.  

The Expectation of the Early Church

Because the rapture is imminent, meaning there are no signs that precede it, it could have occurred anytime since the ascension of our Lord back to heaven. Jesus could have come back in the first century. The early church expected Jesus to return in their lifetime. The book of James is one of the earliest New Testament books. Guided by the Spirit of God, he stated that “the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:8). He also said, “Behold the judge is standing at the door” (James 5:9). He told them to “be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord (James 5:7). 

Dr. Renald Showers in his book, Maranatha, Our Lord Come, cites Greek scholars that show “draws near” (v. 8) and “is standing” (v. 9) are in the perfect tense and indicative mood. This means that the action was completed before James wrote his epistle and continues on in that completed state. It suggests that Jesus coming is still near and He continues standing at the door. 

2000 years Later

 In the first century some decried, “Where is the promise of His coming?” (II Peter 3:4). And now it is almost 2000 years later. Today people are saying the same thing. But what is often overlooked is that God’s love delays His justice. The Lord is longsuffering not willing that any should perish (II Peter 3:9).  We all should be thankful for that!

It’s been a long time since His promise. But, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19) He has promised that He is coming for His church. We just don’t know when. Are you looking for the Blessed Hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ? (Titus 2:13) It could be sooner than soon. Could be today!

You can know you have everlasting life and will go to be with the Lord at the rapture.

Thanks for visiting. I invite you to follow as we explore God’s amazing grace!

_______________________________________

Purchase, Assurance of Heaven. It is an in-depth Biblical study into how you can know with certainty that heaven is your final and forever destination. You can also download the FREE study guide that compliments the book.

Assured Hope

The week before Christmas we lost two friends to the Covid virus. Their age and comorbidities were contributing factors. But both were believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet in some ways it doesn’t make it any easier to lose a loved one.

A friend of mine wrote the following blog which I thought was very appropriate concerning the death of a Christian. It speaks to the heart of those who are dealing with the loss from a Biblical perspective.

“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep (died), lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For, if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)

The Apostle Paul says Christians should not mourn the death of their loved ones in Christ the same way those without Christ mourn their loss. What does that mean? Does it mean the whites of our eyes not be turned red with tears? Does it say we put on a brave front and a good show for the world? Does it mean we go about like rocks, unemotional and unbreakable? When the doctor offers his condolences and informs you your parent or spouse has died, what is a Christian to do? When your baby never lives to be born or lies still in the crib, never to awaken, does being a Christian steel you to the body blows of loss and emptiness? If you sit up waiting to hear your teenager’s key in the front door, and instead, the phone rings and the voice on the other end shatters your life…..

Christians feel. Christians feel things deeply in their quickened spirits. Christians mourn. Christians grieve over the death, sin, suffering, injustice, perversion, and the rampant evil in this world. So what is Paul telling you and me? He is telling us to cry away the whites of our eyes, but do so with the assured hope that Jesus will wipe away our tears. He is telling us to endure the body blows of loss and that painful empty feeling deep inside, but do so with the assured hope that Jesus will comfort us and fill us with His love amid our pain. Be breakable, vulnerable, and honest in our grief before the world, but do so with the assured hope that Jesus will ultimately heal our broken hearts.

The citizens of this world wander about in confusion when faced with mortality and seek an unknown higher power or one of the earth’s thousand and one religions in a vain attempt to find answers. They say of the dead, with uncertainty, “Well, they’re in a better place now.” Not so for Christians, citizens of heaven; we see life and death in Christ-illuminated clarity. We have an assured hope in Jesus Christ, who died, was buried and rose again. Our loved ones who have died in Christ are with Him, and when He comes again, they will accompany Him.

What glorious reunions await us when our temporal earthly mourning gives way to a fantastic new spring-fresh eternal heavenly morning. That is the assured hope of the believer. Thank You, Lord Jesus! https://calvarybaptistirwin.org/blog.html

You can know you have assurance and will one day go to be with the Lord.

Learn how to share the gospel with others.

I invite you to follow as we explore God’s amazing grace and assurance of heaven to everyone who believes the gospel.

Do You Have True Peace?

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9:6, 7

Two thousand years ago Jesus was born of a virgin.  God did not send Him into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17). He restored the relationship between man and God. Thus by faith we can have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).

Jesus came the first time as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He’s coming back a second time to rule and reign on earth as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16).  And the Lord shall be King over all the earth (Zech. 14:9). That’s the full message of Christmas.

Although family gatherings, feasts, and gifts may be fun things to do, you have missed the true Person of Christmas if that is all it is for you. Jesus Christ is coming back to set up His kingdom on earth. He’ coming to bring true peace on earth. Are you ready to meet Him?

Learn how you can have peace with God this Christmas

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Next Generation

Growing up in a rural area, there were a lot of folks around us who had gardens. My grandfather lived on one side of us and my uncle on the other side. They always planted a garden. But gardens seemed to have lost their importance with the ease of going to a grocery store to get your food.

I should have no problem growing a garden, but I would. That skill was not passed on to me. Generations lose out when valuable information is not passed on. The same is true in the spiritual realm.

God had commanded the Israelites to teach their children the commands given to them in the law.  They were to do this diligently and often –“when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deut. 6:7)  In this way future generations would know the Lord and follow Him. The result would be that God would continue to bless them and protect them. (Deut. 28:1-14)  And they would fulfill their God intended purpose of being a kingdom of priests and a Holy nation, while witnessing to the one true God. (Ex. 19:6; Is. 43:10, 12)

But after Joshua and his generation died, the next generation of Israelites began to back slide. They  “did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals.” (Judges 2:11)  Why would they do this?  The previous verse gives some light. After the death of Joshua, the next generation “did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which he had done for Israel.” (v. 10)  How could they not know? 

There are certainly other issues involved in them not knowing the Lord, such as their own heart conditions and the failure of the previous generation to cast out all the inhabitants of the land.  Yet it is also apparent that the older generation failed to communicate the commandments and the faithfulness of the Lord to their sons and daughters. This failure resulted in significant consequences for the nation.

There are some today that question the effectiveness of the church. Could it be that we failed to share our faith with the next generation. Did we miss the opportunities at the dinner table or while riding in the car or after church on Sunday?  Discipleship begins in the home. If you have young children you can start now.  If you’re a grand parent, you can have a significant influence on the faith of your grandchildren.  We may have failed in the past, but we can change that today.

Some have the skills to teach a person how to grow a garden. But more importantly if you are a Christian, you can share with them the truth about our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. This will have an everlasting influence.

Psalm 78:5-7  For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments…

Find out that you can know that God loves you know no matter what you have done.

Bushy Run, a Place of Solitude

Bushy Run is a stream that flows through western Pennsylvania. It’s also the name of a historic site. A significant battle was fought here between the British and Native Americans led by Chief Pontiac. This picture displays the path that leads to the flour bag fort where much of the fighting took place in 1763.

Although the history is significant, for me the 213 acre park serves as place of solace and a place where I can comtemplate on our Creator. I have hiked off and on here for 50 years. The peace and serenity reminds me of a future day when everything in our world will be made right. “Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A king shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.” (Jeremiah 23:5)

I have probably clocked 3,000 to 4,000 miles walking the trails and paths of Bushy Run over these many years. I have walked in solitude. I have walked with friends. I have hiked on a cold snowy winter’s day and in the cool of the day on a summer morning. Those hikes through the hills have been a constant reminder; “From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1)

Autumn as beautiful as it is, reminds us that winter is coming. The leaves die and the bleakness of winter landscapes slowly appears. That’s why I like the snow. It covers that bleakness with a blanket of purity. “Come let us reason together, says the Lord, Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18)

We all need a place of solitude, a place where we can be without distraction. Bushy Run has been one of those places for me. Its a place that brings me close to my Creator, where I am reminded of His faithfulness and His promise of everlasting life to those who have put their faith in Him. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved”. (John 3:17) “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (II Corinthians 9:15)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Begin a relationship with God and know for sure that you will live with Him for eternity.

Assurance of Heaven Book. It weaves through common erroneous teaching today that causes believers to doubt their salvation. MAKES A GREAT GIFT FOR CHRISTMAS.

Heaven’s Surprise

I never had much interest in poetry. But every once in a while you come across a poem that is unique, makes you laugh, and/or communicates truth. The following one is unnamed by an unknown author concerning heaven. Although it contains some doctrinal inaccuracies, I think it captures a profound truth about the way many of us think when it comes to getting to heaven.

I was shocked, confused, bewildered as I entered Heaven’s door; Not by the beauty of it all, Nor the lights or its décor.

But it was the folks in Heaven Who made me sputter and gasp; The thieves, the liars, the sinners; The alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade Who swiped my lunch money twice. Next to him was my old neighbor Who never said anything nice.

Bob, who I always thought Was rotting away in hell, Was sitting pretty on cloud nine, Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, “What’s the deal? I would love to hear Your take. How’d all these sinners get up here? God must’ve made a mistake.”

“And why is everyone so quiet, So somber; give me a clue.” “Hush, child,” He said, “They’re all in shock! No one thought they’d see you!”

The biggest lie we tell ourselves is that we can be good enough to be accepted by God. That’s because we compare ourselves to others; especially the thieves, druggies, and the immoral. “I’m better than those people”, I tell myself. “God will accept me because I’m a good person”, I reason.

But before a holy God, “there is none righteous, not even one”. (Romans 3:10) “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. (Romans 3:23) Maybe the most self-righteous man before his conversion, the apostle Paul, after his conversion counted all his good works as rubbish (Philippians 3:8). He had hunted down Christians, threw them in jail and had them executed, thinking he was working for the Lord. (Acts 8:3) He approved the killing of Stephen (Acts 8:1). I’m sure he surprised Stephen the day he showed up at the Pearly Gates.

The fact is that heaven will be full of thieves, murders, adulterers, alcoholics, and many others. Rahab was a harlot. Samson was a womanizer. Jacob was a deceiver. David committed adultery and murder. Solomon worshipped other gods, sacrificing his children to them. Some in the Corinthian church got drunk while participating in the Lord’s supper. Others chased after riches and strayed from the faith. (I Timothy 6:10) The Bible is full of imperfect people who will be in heaven. The BIG question, “Will you be there?

There is only one way. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6) His death on the cross paid for all of our sins; past present and future. His resurrection proved that He is God and that His sacrifice was all sufficient to restore man’s relationship with God. There’s not one thing we can add to Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection that will make us more acceptable to God. Will you stand before God one day with all your rubbish? Or will you stand before Him with Jesus as your Savior? It simply requires a faith response from you to the Lord. Will you surprise someone in heaven someday?

Find out more about how to be sure of the way to heaven and a relationship with God.

Assurance of Heaven book. It weaves through common erroneous teaching today that causes believers to doubt their salvation. MAKES A GREAT CHRISTMAS GIFT!

You Sure You’re in the Faith?

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified”. (II Cor. 13:5) Are you disqualified? Have you done enough, behaved good enough? Many infer that you are to look to your good works and righteous living to prove (to yourself and others, I guess) that you are indeed saved (Qualified). But questions arise; “How many good works do you have to do and how righteous do you have to be?” How does one measure those things?

I wrote about this verse in my book, Assurance of Heaven. Following is an excerpt from the chapter explaining the proper interpretation that will help those who have believed in Christ to be secure in their faith.

Understanding II Corinthians 13:3

‘At one time, I used this verse out of context. “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.” In other words, make sure you are persevering as evidence you are a “true” believer. A fellow brother in the Lord told me that he tells his adult children this. But, how many times do you have to examine yourself to conclude you are indeed in the kingdom? It seems to me that a better solution would be to have a conversation about the Lord. In doing so, it would be easier to know what they have trusted to save from the penalty of sin. If they have placed their faith in the person and work of Christ, then it would be better to reassure them that they are saved, because Jesus says they are. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47).

When well-meaning folks tell others to examine themselves, they are only training them to look at their works (religious activity) and behavior. This results in only two possibilities. I am in because I think I’m a good person, or I am not because I’m not living righteously enough. It leads to the road of self-righteousness or the road of despair. In my case, it could have led me to despair, except that I weaved through all the erroneous teaching by comparing it to God’s Word. In the end, examining your works doesn’t get to the heart of the issue. When it comes to being delivered from the penalty of sin, has one believed on the Lord Jesus Christ? That is the issue.

No one is ever told in Scripture to look at your works to determine whether you’re saved or not. (Not even in the book of James as we will see in Chapter 14.) It may be good for believers to do so to determine whether they are in fellowship with the Lord. Do I need to confess some sinful way and forsake it, to be delivered from the power of sin, so that I am glorifying God with my life and have his hand of blessing on me? That should be a continual practice, but not to determine whether one is saved or not from the penalty of sin.

So what does this verse mean? Well, first of all, trying to understand any verse out of context will usually lead you to a wrong understanding. The background here is that the Corinthian church questioned the proof of Christ speaking in the apostle (2 Cor. 13:3). In the three chapters before this, he is defending his apostleship (10-12). He appeals to the signs of a true apostle that were accomplished among them, “in signs and wonders and mighty deeds” (2 Cor. 12:12).

Back in chapter three, he wrote they were “an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, the heart” (v. 3). From this you can see the apostle is not questioning the sincerity of their salvation. However, they questioned his authority to speak on behalf of Christ: “since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me” (2 Cor. 13:3).

He tells them to examine themselves to see whether they were in the faith. If they answer yes, then they are the proof that Christ is speaking in the apostle, because Christ saved them through Paul’s ministry of the gospel (Acts 18:1-11). Thomas Stegall points out, according to the grammar of the verse, Paul assumes the Corinthians are not “disqualified,” but are truly “in the faith” and “Christ is in [them].” In other words, the apostle expected them to respond positively that they were in the faith. Thus, ironically by affirming they were saved, they were also affirming the truth and proof that Christ was speaking in the apostle.’

This verse has nothing to do with looking at your performance to judge whether you are in the faith. Anyone who has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ is saved and has eternal life.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9)

Find out more about your security in Christ

Find out more about the book, Assurance of Heaven. It weaves through common erroneous teaching today that causes believers to doubt their salvation.

Good News in God’s Colors

Autumn here in western Pennsylvania is an amazing palet of God’s design. It inspired me to write a gospel tract a couple years ago that would incorporate many of God’s beautiful colors.

Most of us find it difficult to share the gospel. But one simple way is a good gospel tract. It can be left on the table at a restaurant or handed to a cashier at the grocery store. They can be used in a very non-confrontational way.

This particular tract helps you to go through the gospel verbally as well. By following the colors, it will give a clear presentation of the gospel. It’s simply explained in four parts: God’s is holy; we are helpless sinners; Jesus died in our place; and the only requirement is for a person to believe in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

A color- coded wrist band can be used also and given to the individual along with the tract to help them remember these truths.

A few follow up questions on the back helps to determine what the individual has understood.

Do you understand the following statements to true?

  • Jesus is God.
  • You are not perfect. God is perfect. He is holy.
  • Your goodness or religious efforts can’t save you.
  • You are a helpless sinner unable to save yourself.
  • Jesus died for your sins. He took the punishment that you deserve.
  • His death paid for all sins (past, present, and future).
  • Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.
  • Jesus is the only One that can save you from eternal death and give you everlasting life.
  • Faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven.

It concludes with the following paragraph:

Do you understand all the above statements and do you BELIEVE that they are true? If you believe these are true of you and of God then the Bible gives you 100% assurance that you have everlasting life, that you are ‘born again’; that you have complete forgiveness; and that you are restored to a relationship with  God. 

Use a tract to share the gospel with someone this week. It can have eternal value! Check out the whole tract at Moments with the Book. (Caution: Not all gospel tracts are equal. I do not endorse all the gospel tracts at this site)

Check out the free companion Study Guide to the book, Assurance of Heaven.

A Catch of a Lifetime

Have you ever fished all night? Have you fished and not caught anything? I can remember fishing all night one time when I was a kid. We caught one fish between the four of us. I couldn’t wait to go home and go to bed.

Peter, Andrew, James and John were fisherman; not as a pastime but as a profession.  They had fished all night and caught nothing.  Can you imagine how tired they were and how disgusted they may have been because of their lack of success?  They were cleaning their nets, calling it a day when Jesus shows up.

He asked Peter to push his boat a little ways out into the water.  He then began to preach to the multitudes that came to hear Him speak.  What was Peter thinking?  Was he excited to hear what Jesus had to say?  Or was he thinking, how much longer? I’m tired and want to get some sleep! 

When Jesus finished preaching, he told Peter to launch out into the deep and to let his nets down for a catch.  Peter responded, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at your word I will let down the net.” (Luke 5:5) Considering his circumstance, how optimistic do you think he is at this point?  But the catch was so large that it almost sank two boats.  The miracle revealed his heart condition before a Holy God. He said to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8)

But Jesus didn’t depart. That’s grace! Now He had men he could use. Men that recognized their condition and their need.  He didn’t rebuke Peter.  He only called Him and the others to “follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt 4:19) 

Peter may have made the catch of his lifetime, but it was he who was caught.  When they came back to shore, they forsook all and followed Him.  Jesus wasn’t looking for perfect men, just faithful ones. Who or what has caught your passion and life?  Is it a nice house, cars, sports, education, or even family?  Is it a good job and financial security? Or is it Him who graciously calls out to you, “Follow Me?”

Learn how to begin a relationship with Jesus

I invite you to follow as we continue to explore God’s amazing grace and the assurance of heaven to anyone who believes the gospel.

My Faith has Found a Resting Place

The lyrics below are from a hymn titled, My Faith has Found a Resting Place, composed by Elizabeth E. Hewitt in the late1800s. She knew something of eternal security and the peace that comes from trusting in Jesus.

She was born in Philadelphia in 1851. She became a teacher, but a spinal injury forced her to be bed ridden when she began to write poetry. Although her condition eventually improved, this one was set to music and became a beautiful praise song.

The lyrics:

My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device nor creed;
I trust the Ever-living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I come to Him,
He’ll never cast me out.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

My heart is leaning on the Word,
The written Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior’s name,
Salvation through His blood.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died, And that He died for me.

My great Physician heals the sick, The lost He came to save; For me His precious blood He shed, For me His life He gave. [Refrain]

Watch it on Bob’s praise and worship video

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17).

“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).