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Showing posts from December, 2019

Satan's Kryptonite

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What Satan fears most is Christ crucified and people conformed to that pattern who will follow him wherever he goes .  I have observed that Satan offers a smorgasbord of deceptions, and I doubt that he cares which one you choose. Whatever floats your boat! But regardless of which one you prefer, one trail common to them all is the attempt to steer us away from the Word of God, and especially, from embracing and emulating the crucified Messiah - [ Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash ].

Signs and Wonders or Christ Crucified?

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SYNOPSIS :    Claims that God will reap a great harvest of souls because of the mighty “signs and wonders” the church will perform do not square with Scripture. Source:   Unsplash.com I hear a lot of stress these days on seeking “signs and wonders.” Seemingly, church “leaders” are convinced, or they want to convince you, that it is through mighty supernatural “signs and wonders” that God will reap a final harvest of souls before the return of Jesus, an idea that does not fit comfortably with the gospel accounts of the New Testament.

The "Last Generation" Con

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SYNOPSIS :   The Prophecy Industry has been telling us for generations that we are the “last generation” that will live to see the return of Jesus Source:  Unsplash.com The End-Time Prophecy Industry has been telling us for generations that we are “the last generation” to exist before the return of Jesus and the many prophetic events expected to precede his arrival. The supposed prophetic “sign” that marked the start of this final “generation” was the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948. Ever since, everything prophetic revolves around Israel, not Jesus or his gospel proclamation to all nations. God's anointed ruler of the Cosmos is, at best, peripheral to any (supposed) prophetic events in and around Palestine. Obviously, Jesus has not returned. But several other things are still missing, including but not limited to— No 7-years Tribulation. No rapture. No Antichrist. No 10-nation European confederacy. No Gog and Magog attack against Israel.

Redemption of the Nations

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The “nations” and the “kings of the earth” are found in “New Jerusalem” because of the work of the sacrificial Lamb and his saints .  The  Book of Revelation  presents images that are jarring and paradoxical, visions that do not conform to our expectations about how God works. His plans to subjugate His enemies and “judge” the nations differ radically from popular ideas. Just as his contemporaries did not understand him, so, too often, we fail to comprehend the “ slain Lamb ” who reigns from God’s throne - [ Photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash ].

Jesus Reigns Over All Things

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Jesus received complete authority from his Father to reign over the Cosmos. Only his kingdom will endure .  At the height of his power, the absolute monarch of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, boasted before heaven and earth, “ Is not this Babylon the great and exceptional kingdom that I built by the  MIGHT OF MY POWER  and for the glory of my majesty ?” His boast was not an idle one. Babylon was one of the great powers of the ancient world - [ Crown of Thorns - Photo by  Christi Marcheschi  on  Unsplash ].

Seven Churches - Overview

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The visitation of Jesus to the Seven Churches prepares the reader for the visions that follow the letters to the churches of Asia .  In his vision, John saw a glorious figure “ like a Son of Man…in the midst of seven golden lampstands .” In the interpretation, it became clear that this was Jesus (“ I was dead, and I am alive forevermore ”), and the “ lampstands ” were identified as the “ seven churches ” that were under his ever-watchful care - [ Photo by  Ken Cheung  on  Unsplash ].

John, A Fellow-Participant in the Kingdom

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Exiled to the isle of Patmos, John was a “fellow-participant” in the tribulation and endurance with the churches of Asia  –  Revelation 1:9 .  At the start of the first vision,  Revelation  introduces John, who was exiled to the isle of Patmos for the “ testimony of Jesus .” Rather than point to his apostolic credentials, he identified himself with the plight of the “ seven churches of Asia .” Although isolated on the small island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, he was a “ fellow-participant ” with  the “ churches ” in the “ tribulation and endurance in Jesus .” - [ Photo by Jan Majer on Unsplash ].

First Vision - Son of Man

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The first vision presents the image of one “like the Son of Man” who was walking among the seven churches of Asia  –  Revelation 1:9-20 .  The opening vision centers on Jesus and his care for the “ churches of Asia .” At least one congregation faced imminent persecution. John did not begin his record by holding up his apostolic credentials; instead, he identified himself with the plight of the seven churches: He was a “ fellow-participant ” with them in the “ tribulation and the kingdom and the endurance .” - [ Photo by David Jusko on Unsplash ].

Isle of Patmos

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SYNOPSIS  -  John was exiled on Patmos for his testimony, therefore, he was a “fellow participant” in the Tribulation, Kingdom, and Perseverance “in Jesus”  -  Revelation 1:9 .  Patmos  is a small island in the  Aegean Sea  approximately ninety kilometers west of the  city of Ephesus  - Eleven kilometers long by seven kilometers wide. It is one of the smaller islands of the  Sporades , an archipelago off the west coast of  Asia Minor . Roman literature from the imperial period identifies this island chain as a place for the exile of political offenders - ( Tacitus, Ann. iii.  68; iv. 30; v. 71). - [ Photo by Marek Okon on Unsplash ].

Revelation's Recipients

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In its entirety, Revelation is addressed to seven very real churches located in the Roman province of Asia in the first century . From start to finish, the book of  Revelation  is addressed to the “ seven churches of Asia ,” and these congregations do not fade from the picture in the later sections of the book. While it may include a larger audience,  Revelation  is first and foremost a message for the seven assemblies, and the significance of its visions cannot be understood apart from them - [ Church in Winter - Photo by redcharlie on Unsplash ].

Prologue to Revelation

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The prologue presents the basic themes of the book and declares that the season of fulfillment has arrived  –  Revelation 1:1-3 .  Revelation’s  first paragraph details its purpose, key themes, main characters, and  how it communicates . Its purpose is  to reveal , and its protagonists are  God ,  Jesus , and the “ his servants .”   It is “ the prophecy ,” and its source is  God . The contents concern “ what things must come to pass ,” which provides its chronological perspective (“ soon ”) - [ Pergamos - Photo by Ahmet Demiroğlu on Unsplash ].

Season of Fulfillment

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In Revelation, the “last days,” the “season of the end” began with the Death and Resurrection of Jesus  –  Revelation 1:1-4 .  The book of  Revelation  is the “ revelation of Jesus Christ ” for his “ servants ,” the “ seven churches of Asia .” It concerns “ what things must come to pass soon ,” information that is vital because the “ season is at hand ,” and therefore, “ blessed is he who reads, and they who heed the words of the prophecy .” With the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, the  end-times have commenced  - [ Photo by SUNBEAM PHOTOGRAPHY on Unsplash ].

Redemption, not Abandonment

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At the heart of Christian hope is the future resurrection of the saints at Christ’s return and the arrival of the new heavens and the new earth .  Central to the New Testament understanding of salvation is  redemption . God is not simply abandoning what He first created, but instead, He is recovering and restoring what was enslaved by sin, decay, and death. But in His redemptive acts, the end state of all things that have been redeemed will be vastly superior to their original state, and this is epitomized in the promise of bodily resurrection - [ Cemetery sunlight - Photo by  Kevin Andre  on  Unsplash ].

Extent of the Beast’s Reign

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SYNOPSIS  -  In Revelation, “all” means “all.” All rulers and nations that refuse to follow the Lamb render homage to the Beast . S ome interpretations of the “ beast ” from the  book of Revelation  insist the geographic and political reach of its rule will be limited. Apparently, certain nations will opt out of the final beastly empire and even resist its rule. While most nations will submit, one or two will not. Put another way, in this interpretation “ all ” ceases to mean “all.” - [ World Empire Photo by Christine Roy on Unsplash ].

Wrath of God

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“Wrath” refers to the final judicial sentence of God on His enemies and is not synonymous with “tribulation.”  In Revelation , the “ wrath of God ” is  NOT  synonymous with “ tribulation ,” nor is it identical with the “ plagues ” unleashed by the three series of “ seals ,” “ trumpets ,” and “ bowls of fury .” Despite their devastation, impenitent men continue to rebel against God until the end. Instead, “ wrath ” refers to the final judicial sentence of God on His enemies - [ Photo by Dominik QN on Unsplash ].

Rescued from Wrath

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Already, Jesus is “rescuing” his people from the coming “wrath” that will befall the unrighteous when he arrives – 1 Thessalonians 1:10 .  Opposition to the new faith forced Paul to leave Thessalonica before his work was finished. He later attempted to return but was thwarted " by Satan .” Because of his anxieties about the congregation, he sent Timothy to investigate matters, and his first letter to the Thessalonians was his thankful response after he received good news from Timothy - [ Photo by Martin Vysoudil on Unsplash ].

Just Judgment of God

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The arrival of Jesus will mean vindication and “rest” for the righteous, but everlasting loss for the wicked  -  2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 .  Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians was written in the months following his departure from the city. The first epistle expressed joy at the good news that the Thessalonians were remaining faithful despite persecution. The second addressed three main issues: Persecution, believers who refused to work, and questions about the “ arrival ” of Jesus - [ Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash ].

Concerning Times and Seasons

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Paul did not detail the “times and seasons” since the Thessalonians understood that the Lord will come “like a thief in the night”  –  1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 .  Paul continued his discussion about the “ coming ” of Jesus by addressing its timing and how it will impact believers and nonbelievers. But rather than provide any chronological information, he reminded the Thessalonians that the “ Day of the Lord ” will come just like “ a thief in the night ,” as they already knew. No one except God knows the timing of that day - [ Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash ].

Having Begun in the Spirit

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The receipt of the Spirit while in an uncircumcised state is irrefutable proof that Gentile Christians are accepted by God AS GENTILES  –  Galatians 3:1-4 .  In  Galatians , Paul addressed a growing danger. Certain “ men from Jerusalem ” claimed that Gentiles must keep the deeds of the Mosaic Law to “ complete ” their faith, or at least, some of them. They were “ compelling Gentiles to Judaize ” by adopting circumcision, calendrical observances, and possibly, the dietary restrictions from  Leviticus  - [ Photo by Mike Lewis HeadSmart Media on Unsplash ].

Doing the Whole Law

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OVERVIEW  –  Anyone who is under the Law of Moses is obligated to keep all its required deeds and rituals  –  Galatians 3:10 .  In his  Letter to the Galatians , the Apostle Paul responded to teachings from certain Jewish Christians that were disrupting the churches of Galatia. A key point of contention was the claim that male Gentiles must be circumcised to “complete” their faith. Additionally, they may have pressured believers to keep the calendrical observances of the Mosaic legislation and conform to Jewish dietary regulations - [ Photo by  Sharon McCutcheon  on Unsplash ].

Rescued from this Evil Age

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Paul anchored all that God has done in the past Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which inaugurated the messianic age  –  Galatians 1:1-5 .  In  Galatians , Paul declared that his apostleship came from the same God who raised Jesus from the dead, the one who gave his life to “ deliver us from this evil age .” This anticipated the defense of his apostolic calling and his disagreement with certain Jewish believers who were operating  as if the old era was still in effect  - [ Dawn Breaking - Photo by  Danka & Peter  on  Unsplash ].

Controversy at Galatia

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The  letter to the Galatians  is the response of the Apostle Paul to a specific situation among the churches of  Galatia . At issue was the status of Gentile believers. Must the Gentile convert to the faith conform to Jewish practices and submit to the regulation of the Mosaic Law? The heart of his response was that, now, “ in Christ ,” the old distinctions between “ Jew ” and “ Gentile ” were no longer relevant. In him, the covenant promises found their fulfillment - [ Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash ].

Blind Man Saved Along the Way

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SYNOPSIS  -  A blind man’s eyes were opened, and the man "saved" as Jesus continued “on the way" to Jerusalem and his inevitable death  -  Mark 8:22-26 .  The healing of the blind man in Bethsaida is recorded only in the  gospel of Mark . Bethsaida means “house of the fisher” or “house of fish.” Fishing was its major industry - It was located on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee near the entrance of the Jordan River. In  Mark , the preceding three stories pointed out the  spiritual blindness  caused by unbelief, especially the inability to perceive what God was doing in Jesus and who he was - ( Mark 8:1-21 ). - [ Photo by  Patrick Hendry  on Unsplash ].

Spiritual Dullness

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Mark highlights the unbelief behind the inability of both his opponents and the disciples to perceive exactly who Jesus was  -  Mark 8:1-21 .  Despite all they had seen, the disciples remained dull of hearing and ran the risk of submitting to the same unbelief that characterized the opponents of Jesus, and especially the unbelief and hostility of the Pharisees. Regardless of his many miracles, they still could not comprehend who he was, the Messiah of Israel and the savior of the world - [ Cornicorpia - Photo by  Brad West  on  Unsplash ].

Authority over Disease

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Neither social conventions nor purity regulations prevented Jesus from ministering to the physical needs of men and women  –  Mark 1:29-39 .  Jesus did not allow scruples over purity regulations to prevent him from healing the sick and delivering the oppressed from demonic spirits. Neither Sabbath restrictions nor the Levitical rules governing ritual purity were ever intended to prevent human needs from being met, although that is effectively the result of some of the “traditions of the elders” - [ Jesus Heals the Sick - clipart.christiansunite.com ].

Authority over Ritual Purity

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The touch of Jesus cleansed a leper, and the forbidden contact did not render him “unclean”  –  Mark 1:40-45 .  His touch cleansed a leper from ritual impurity, restoring him physically  AND  religiously. Remarkably, Jesus touched the man  BEFORE  he was cleansed of his  ritual impurity, let alone its confirmation by the priests . Any concern over contracting “uncleanness” did not stop the Messiah from healing one of the sons of Israel - [ Clean water - Photo by  Nathan Dumlao  on Unsplash ].

Jesus and the Demoniac

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Jesus delivered a demonized Gentile while traveling through hostile territory, demonstrating his vast authority over Satan  –  Mark 5:1-20 . The declaration that Jesus had come to the “ other side of the sea ” links this next story to the preceding incident when he calmed the storm. His plan to crossover the Sea of Galilee set in motion the series of events that followed. Having calmed the storm, he next encountered the demonized man who had a violent “storm” raging within – ( Mark 5:1-20 ) - [ Photo by  Nick Fewings  on Unsplash ].

Authority over Sea and Storm

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Despite his tremendous miracle - calming a tempest - the disciples still did not recognize the Son of Man  –  Mark 4:35-41 .  After teaching the multitude near Capernaum, Jesus set out to cross the Sea of Galilee. But a violent storm descended suddenly, frightening the disciples. Storms were common enough on that body of water, and several of the men were fishermen familiar with its moods. Thus, their great terror indicated that this was an especially severe storm - [ Photo by Barth Bailey on Unsplash ].

Kingdom Parables

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Jesus taught several parables about the kingdom of God, its unexpected ways of expansion, and its status in the world  -  Mark 4:21-34 .  The  Gospel of Mark  provides only a few examples of the many parables taught by Jesus, his primary method of teaching - (“ Apart from a parable he did not speak to the crowds ”). While they cover several topics, in  Mark , the overarching theme is the “ Kingdom of God ,” the reign of God that commenced in the ministry of Jesus and continues as the gospel is preached - [ Wheat Harvest photo by Erik-Jan Leusink on Unsplash ].