Christianity 201

November 7, 2017

3 Books by The Apostle John; 3 Goals in His Writing

We’re paying a return visit to Rick Morgan, who blogs in the UK at Digging The Word. Click the title below to read at source.

Believe, Be Sure About It And Be Ready

John’s advice is still important today

The apostle John was a close friend of Jesus, he was in the inner circle of the disciples, he is the man that took care of Jesus’ mother for fifteen years after Jesus’ death and he was an early leader in the church.

John’s books are very significant part of the Bible, he gives us more of the teachings of Jesus than any other gospel writer, he also wrote the most unique book of the Bible from the vision that he experienced while he was exiled to Patmos.

We can see in John’s books that he wants us to believe in Jesus, be sure about it and he wants us to be ready for his return:

Believe

John 20:31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

John wrote his first book out of a desire to help you believe. It is easy to find something to believe but there is only one belief that is going to get you to heaven. So what are we supposed to believe?

Eternal life is only available by belief in Jesus and his work on the cross as a substitute for the punishment that I deserved.

Be Sure

1 John 5:13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.

John’s next book was written to help you be sure of what you believe. The same man that was unclear and lacked faith in who Jesus was wants to help you with your belief.

What you believe is so important to John because just like every other Jew, John held onto false beliefs all of his life, his beliefs didn’t get straightened out until after Jesus came back from the grave. Nobody understood that Jesus first coming wasn’t going to be his last.

In John’s three letters he wants to reassure troubled believers that they really do have eternal life so that they might enjoy it. (1 John 1:3; 3:18-19; 4:13; 5:13 / 2 John 5)

Be Ready

Revelation 22:20 He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

The first coming of Jesus was to give us eternal life and when he returns he will come to give us our eternal reward. Unlike the first time, when he returns again it will be too late to clear up any false beliefs, it is extremely important that you believe and that you are sure about it.

RELATED ARTICLES
10 Things Christ Promises To Reward (unlockingthebible.org)

 

April 5, 2016

“He is not here, he is up there.” – The Ascension (Part 2)

Ascension of Jesus

I know, you were expecting “He is not here, he is risen.” Well, yes; that, too. Today we’re in the second part of what is a single article at Christian Today, a UK publication similar to Christianity Today in the US. If you missed yesterday’s post here, just click the link below to read both parts together at source.

Where is Jesus now? And what is he doing?

•••by David Robertson

What does it mean for us?

1) Jesus is not here – At least not in his body. He has gone. He is risen. We do not literally see his body, hear his voice or touch the holes in his hands. But that does not mean we cannot know him, hear him or be with him. We need to point out to our unbelieving friends that the argument ‘if only Jesus was here and I could see and hear him, then I would believe in him’ does not hold water. Why? Because most of the people who did see and hear Jesus did not believe in him. In fact many of them crucified him! They and we, need something more.

2) He has sent his Spirit – We have lost the human voice on earth and the presence of the physical body. But Christ still has a human voice and a physical body which we can communicate with. How? He sent his Spirit.

Through the Holy SpiritI have just become a granddad. The only problem is that my daughter is in Australia. I can’t just hop on a plane and go over and be physically with her. But through the wonders of modern technology I have seen my granddaughter, spoken to her and to my daughter. There is a sense in which the connection between the believer and Christ through the Holy Spirit is like the ultimate Skype call. The bible uses the idea of being ‘in Christ’ to describe the intimacy of the connection in such a way that it parallels the intimacy of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Just as Skype collapses the distance between here and Australia for some of our senses, so the Spirit collapses the distance between here and heaven so that we really are in Christ. When we sit at the Lord’s Table he really is there, when two or three gather he really is present. The Holy Spirit unites Christ and his Church in such a way, that although the ascended Lord is not everywhere, he is everywhere accessible.

Again to our unbelieving friends we point out that unless they are ‘born again/from above/of the Spirit’, they cannot even see the kingdom of God, never mind enter it. Becoming a Christian is not about adopting a way of life, religion or philosophy. It is about becoming connected to the living, risen, ascended Christ. Becoming part of his body. Knowing him, following him, serving him, loving him. It is the most dynamic and real of relationships.

3) Christ’s work continues – He is still actively our Prophet, Priest and King. He sends us his Word – the scriptures are the living, breathing, cutting voice of Christ to us today as much as they were when they were written. Christ’s work continues as priest. His sacrifice is finished but his work of intercession continues. Hebrews 4: 

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

We really can approach the throne of grace. It’s not just some inner mystical experience. This is for real! When we take communion, it’s not just a symbol, nor is it the literal physical body of Jesus – but He is really present. We are connected to the whole Christ and fed by the whole Christ.

He is our king. Whatever our circumstances, however powerful our enemies appear to be – Christ reigns over all. His kingdom will come. Ephesians 1:

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”

4) We have a glorious hope: “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3 – NIV)

The Christian is always in the realm of the ‘now but not yet’. Christ reigns now, Christ is with us now, but there is more to come. There will come a day when our bodies will be renewed like his. We shall be like him for we shall see him as he is. This is not ‘pie in the sky when you die’ but ‘steak on your plate while you wait!’ It is because we are ‘in Christ’, it is because we know Christ the king, it is because we are assured of his return and ultimate victory that we can live in hope, serve the poor, weep with the broken, and share the Good News. We are now Christ’s body here on earth. He is our Head. We can do nothing without him. But we can do all things through him.

This is the wonder. The Spirit not only collapses distance, he also collapses time so that we connect with Christ in the past – we are with him on the Cross, Christ in the present and Christ in the future.

Some might say, that’s all very well but it sounds like high falutin’ theology… not much practical use. You are kidding! There is nothing more practical than this. Even in terms of evangelism and worship, when we are gathered together as the covenant community of Christ’s people, we need to know his presence in such a way that any unbeliever walking in falls down and says ‘truly God is among you’! This is only the foretaste, the first fruits. The best is yet to be. We long for his return, when everything shall be reconciled. Maranatha.

Even so come soon Lord Jesus.


David Robertson is minister of St Peters, Dundee, Scotland; director Solas CPC; husband of Annabel, father of Andrew, Becky and EJ; author, debater, broadcaster and Uni chaplain. Follow him @theweeflea

December 2, 2015

Christmas is On the Way. So is Jesus.

by Clarke Dixon

•••click here to read today’s article at Sunday’s Shrunk Sermon

Christmas is on the way, but what kind of Christmas celebrations will there be for many Christians who have experienced persecution this year? Consider the outright violence and threats of violence. Consider the desperate times as ISIS spread across Iraq and Syria. Convert, pay a tax, or die. Christians in the Middle East are now among the most persecuted people groups in the world. We may trip over the words of Revelation 1:6 that speak of how God “made us to be a kingdom.” It can feel like a pretty weak kingdom.

It must have felt like a pretty weak kingdom to the first readers of the letter we now call Revelation. Those early Christians were facing greater amounts of persecution from a persistently powerful Rome. Though confessing “Jesus is Lord,” it must have seemed sometimes like Caesar was the more powerful lord, or at least the king of the winning team.

Having tripped over verse six, we fall headlong into verse 7:

7 Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be. Amen
(Revelation 1:7)

Here are some things to notice:

“He is coming with the clouds.” Clouds often signify the presence of God and so we have the assurance of the presence of God drawing near here. But there is more; “Coming with the clouds” makes us think of Daniel 7:

13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14 NIV)

In Daniel 7 there is a vision of four terrible beasts that come up out of the water, each one representing a kingdom. That these kingdoms are described as beasts points us to their inherent inhumanity. But these kingdoms each meet their end, and so begins a new era under a new king, one like a “son of man.” In other words one who rules in a truly human, or at least human as God originally intended, rather than beastly fashion. Revelation 1:7 therefore is not a new idea, but rather a confirmation that God’s Kingdom is coming, and it is Jesus who is the Son of Man, and so the true coming King. All the horrors that Christians might face at this time, no matter how beastly, will be swept away. Just wait.

“Every eye will see him.” Some people think that advances in technology will be what makes this possible at the return of Jesus as everyone will be able to see Him on their smartphones. I’m sure this is not a reassuring thought to technophobes! This actually describes a much more significant kind of event than a simple appearance of Jesus to be captured on an iPhone and shared through Twitter. The second coming of Jesus will be heralded with much more than a tweet. This is not like Christmas where we think of only the shepherds and magi having the opportunity to get close to him. While the conception of Jesus was supernatural, his birth was natural. You might even call it ordinary, except that every birth is extraordinary. The first appearing of Jesus was natural, the next time it will be supernatural. “Every eye will see him.” This includes even those currently without sight. This includes . . .

“Even those who pierced him.” Those responsible for the conviction and murder of the most innocent person in the history of the world will see Jesus. Noting that such people are currently dead, you will notice that a resurrection of the dead is therefore in view here. Again, “every eye will see him.”

As we think of those who were responsible for the murder of Jesus, we can think of High Priest following the arrest of Jesus: “Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’” (Mark 14:61) Note how Jesus answers:

Jesus said, “I am; and
‘you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power,’
and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven. ’”
(Mark 14:62)

Here again is that reference to the prophecy from Daniel 7. On the lips of Jesus we now realize it is not just the Roman rulers, but even the religious rulers of Jerusalem who are implicated as being beastly powers. And in referring to Daniel 7 Jesus is basically saying “you stand over me in judgement now, but just wait, someday I will stand in judgement over you.” That those who perpetrated the greatest injustice of all time will see justice is a great encouragement for the Christian who experiences the injustice of beastly powers. Just wait and see.

“And on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.” Why will there be wailing? Because those who dish out injustice do not like being at the receiving end of justice. The next time Jesus comes it will not be the stuff of cutesy Christmas cards. Some people find the concept of Jesus being just in His judgement as being distasteful. It can sound rather “unChristian” and “unaccepting.” Yet we fail to recognize that we naturally celebrate when good triumphs over evil. The original Star Wars trilogy would have ended horribly had the emperor not met his doom. Spoiler alert! The Hunger Games trilogy would have ended horribly had good not finally triumphed over evil. The return of Jesus will be the final triumph of good over evil. The cross of Jesus is the ultimate triumph of good over evil.

This is the season of Advent, a time of waiting and expectation. Many people are looking forward to Christmas who are not not looking forward to the return of Jesus. Many people are looking forward to Christmas who really ought to fearful of the return of Jesus. This is a shame, because Christmas points us to the cross where Jesus died in our place. It was at the cross that the greatest triumph of good over evil occurred. And it is because of His love that we can look forward, not with fear, but with hopeful expectation to the return of Jesus. His judgement of sin has already taken place for those who turn to him in trust and repentance.

So what kind of a kingdom do Christians comprise when we seem to be so weak in the world? One with the greatest King ever, awaiting the final triumph of good over evil. If you have trouble believing that, then just wait and see.

All scripture references are taken from the NRSV unless otherwise noted.

 

September 26, 2013

Jesus is Coming…Ready or Not

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Today I want to introduce you to Dwight L. MacPherson who blogs at Son of a Parson Ministries.

Click here to read at source and encourage this ministry.

“Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, ‘What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.’” – 2 Peter 3:3-4

jesus is comingAs I was surfing the net today, I came across this cartoon on an Atheist website. But I had to wonder if I could have found it on many Christians’ websites nowadays.

Last week, as I was tweeting about the fulfillment of the judgment against Egypt (Isaiah Chapter 19) and the impending fulfillment of prophecy regarding Syria (found in Isaiah Chapter 17) and how we were seeing Bible prophecy coming to pass before our eyes. I went a step further to say that these events certainly point to the End Times–and, most notably, the return of Christ. I was not shocked to receive a mocking response, but I WAS shocked to receive an open rebuke from someone who claims to be a “Theologian” in their bio. Really?

The New Testament (and Jesus Himself!) makes many, many references to the return of Christ. So how could a Theologian possibly miss such a prevalent and urgent doctrine? I can understand the world looking, scratching their heads, and saying, “You Christians have been saying this for a couple thousand years.” But someone who has made the study of God and the Holy Scriptures their life’s work?

The truth is that we don’t know when Christ will return. But we are certain that He will. So why hasn’t He returned yet? Peter went on to say:

“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” – 2 Peter 3:9

It is important to remember that, “the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2)” That implies that it will come as a complete surprise to many. And because of this, many will not be ready for His return. The proper response to believing in the soon return of Christ is to pursue godliness. The Apostle Paul tells the Corinthian Church in 2 Corinthians 11:3-4:

“For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband–Christ. But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent.”

Do not be deceived by the naysayers, beloved. Pursue purity. Pursue godliness. Throw off the cares and pursuits of this perishing world and commit yourself to preparing for His glorious appearing. Reach out to those who do not know Christ with reckless abandon. He has given us this time to snatch souls from the fires of hell… we dare not take it for granted.  Our time is running out!  Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.”

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

In Christ’s true love,

Dwight


Christianity 201 is a melting-pot of devotional and Bible study content from across the widest spectrum of the Christian blogosphere. An individual article may be posted even if some or all readers might not agree with other things posted at the same blog, and two posts may follow on consecutive days by authors with very different doctrinal perspectives. The Kingdom of God is so much bigger than the small portion of it we can see from our personal vantage point, and one of the purposes of C201 is to allow readers a ‘macro’ view of the many ministries and individual voices available for reading. You might even decide to make some of these a daily habit. Any advertising appearing beyond this point in this article does not originate with C201, nor are we aware of it.

September 21, 2010

What Would He Say?

Today a classic.   My father always had multiple copies of this poem in his Bible.  I was sorry to see that one of the last copies had fallen out and gotten somewhat trampled, so I decided to make it today’s post in order to preserve it for the ages, so to speak.

Christians live looking forward to the imminent return of Christ.   While certain prophetic markers have yet to fall before that can happen, some believe that they are stacked like dominoes, and when one goes, the others will follow quickly.   Besides, the second coming per se may not happen tomorrow, but who’s to say when he could come for me?

If He should come today
And find my hands so full
Of future plans, however fair,
In which my Saviour has no share,
What would He say?

If He should come today
And find my love so cold,
My faith so very weak and dim
I had not even looked for Him,
What would He say?

If He should come today
And find I had not told
One soul about my Heavenly friend
Whose blessings all my way attend,
What would He say?

If He should come today
Would I be glad — quite glad?
Remembering He had died for all
And none, thru me, had heard His call,
What would I say?

Unfortunately the author’s name is torn off.  The one online version (containing an error) has it credited to Grace Troy.    This is a kind of sentiment you don’t hear much these days.   It’s strange that living even closer to the imminent return of Christ, we’ve tended not to think that much about it.