Saturday, March 30, 2024

Morning Message: Jesus Raised Up

 


Bobservations' Column
Titled - "Jesus Raised Up"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The absolute power of God is revealed our reading today, John 10:14-18. As we look at our Risen Christ today in Matthew 28, we must acknowledge the transfer of power from Father to Son. None of the Gospels tell us everything, but when we read all of the Bible, the writers of its other Books provide tidbits of information that when taken together, the Holy Spirit provides us with a fuller understanding of the things He inspires His Holy Scribes to write.

Matthew tells us of Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” (presumed to be the mother of James and Joses, which means it was Mary, mother of Jesus) going to the tomb where Jesus had been buried. Mark’s Gospel tells us that it was three women: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome. (Mark 15 identifies Salome as the wife of Zebedee and mother of John and James the elder.). The Gospel of Luke reveals a woman named Joanna, and other women among them that went to Jesus’ burial tomb. Interestingly, Luke 8:3 tells us that Joanna was the wife of Chuza, who was Steward to Herod! Joanna and Susanna both ministered to Jesus “out of their substance.”

John’s Gospel mentions only Mary Magdalene going to the tomb, and seeing a gardener who speaks her name. It was the voice of Jesus, risen and alive. “Rabboni!” (Master) was her response to His voice.

This example gives us insight into the importance of reading ALL the Bible, and taking into consideration all the things that individual passages cover about events that are recorded in multiple Books of the Bible.

John tells us only of Mary Magdalene going to the tomb, and the other Gospel writers tell us that Mary, mother of Jesus; another Mary, mother of the Sons of Thunder (Zebedee’s boys), Joanna (wife of Herod’s Steward, Chuza), Salome and other unnamed women all went to the tomb.

Matthew 12 begins a teaching of Jesus in the Temple, with the Pharisees present. His words extend into Matthew 13…

In Matthew 13:55, 56, the Pharisees speak:
“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas (Jude)? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?” 
- The wisdom of God will always confound the wisdom of men. -


Bobservations' Column: Audio Version


Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Matthew 28:1-10, 11-15 - "Jesus Raised Up"

Summary/Additional Bible Notes:  

Today in our study of God’s Word we come to Matthew’s text on the resurrection of Jesus. In this wonderful chapter, Matthew gives His account of the greatest event in the history of the world, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. This is the great cornerstone of the Christian faith, and what truly sets Jesus apart as completely unique. Everything that we are and have and ever hope to be, all that we believe in is predicated on the reality of the resurrection. There would be no Christianity if there were no resurrection. Conversely because there is a resurrection, all elements of our faith are affirmed as true in every sense. The resurrection then is the cornerstone of our faith.


In the New Testament, the first sermon ever preached in the church was on the day the church was born and was preached by Peter in Acts 2. It's a sermon on the resurrection and it became the theme of all apostolic preaching. Peter preached again on the resurrection in chapter 4 and again in chapter 10. Stephen preached the resurrection in chapter 7. Philip preached the resurrection in chapter 8. Paul preached the resurrection in chapter 9 and chapter 13 and all the way on to chapter 28 of Acts.

And then we come to the theme of the epistles and it is the resurrection. In Romans it says Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father. In 1 Corinthians it says He rose again the third day according to the Scripture. In 2 Corinthians, He who raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise us up also. Galatians says by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead. And we read in Ephesians which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead. And Paul says in Philippians that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection. And in Colossians, God who raised Him from the dead. And in 1 Thessalonians, His Son whom He raised from the dead. And Peter says that He has, in chapter 1 verse 3, begotten us to a living hope by the resurrection of Christ. And even when you come to the book of Revelation it begins by saying that Christ has the right to take the earth because it is He who was dead and is alive forever more.

The whole theme of the New Testament is the resurrection of
Jesus Christ. Here is the foundation of all our hope. For it was Jesus who said, “Because I live, ye shall live also.”
It was Jesus who said in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.” The resurrection is the core of all that we believe. And so this morning we come with great excitement to read this record of our Lord’s resurrection.

“He is risen!” These are 3 words that have changed the very outlook and trajectory of all humankind. These 3 words are the key to the Christian faith.

For just as Jesus promised, He rose from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection reveals that He is Living and Ruler of His eternal kingdom. It is the resurrection of Jesus that brings us each a hope that beyond this life of which we live. Death is not the end. It is merely the beginning. Remarkably, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, the Holy Spirit is within each Believer as He raises us from our own spiritual death to life.

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Sabbath (28:1) - According to Exodus 20:8–11, the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, on which the children of Israel were to rest, in remembrance that God created the universe in six days and then “rested” on the seventh day. "In the end of the sabbath" means "after the sabbath." In the Jewish reckoning, the day began at sundown, so the first day of the week was already well along when "it began to dawn."

Began to dawn (28:1) - means the beginning of the twilight before sunrise.

Great Earthquake (28:2) - This is the second earthquake in just three days. There was an earthquake when Christ died, you remember, that split the rocks wide open and opened graves and dead people came alive among the saints. This is the second earthquake. God again is moving and demonstrating in a physiological way His activity. (See: Exodus 19:18, at the giving of the law; 1 Kings 19:11, God came in an earthquake;  Joel 2:10, at the time of the coming of the Lord there will be an earthquake; Matthew 24:7, Jesus Himself even referred to it in the great Olivet Discourse about the earthquake that’s going to be coming, or earthquakes, attendant with His return. When God begins to move in the world the world shakes.

Countenance Like Lightning (28:3) - Countenance or his face ... like lightning, flashing, brilliant, blazing.  It is the glow of God transmitted to these angelic creatures, 

His Raiment ... White As Snow (28:3) - His Clothing, white as snow, signifying purity, holiness or virtue.

Angel of the Lord (28:2) - Angel means messenger.  They are ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation. 

As He Said (28:6) - Many times we have read angels saying, "fear not."  These messengers from God gently remind both the women and the disciples what Jesus had repeatedly promised that He would rise from the dead in the third day.

He is Not Here (28:6) - The Greek text says, “He was raised.” He is not here. He was raised. And the word is a word to indicate resurrection from the dead. There’s no question that Jesus was dead. That’s why the soldiers who were experts at death didn’t break His legs. He was already dead. They thrust a spear into His side penetrating the sac around the heart and out came the blood from His heart and the water from the pericardium. He was dead. And lying in that tomb for this the third day – no question He was dead.

He is Risen (28:6) - He was raised. The Bible emphasizes that He was raised by the power of the Father. Over and over again it says that in Scripture: Romans 6:4, Galatians 1:1, 1 Peter 1:3. It also says in John 10:18, “I have power to lay My life down and I have power to take it up again.”  He was raised not only by the Father, but He was raised by His own power. In Romans 8:11 it says He was raised by the power of the Spirit. “It is the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead.”  These are not contradictions, the clear truth that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are One. The whole Trinity is involved in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Behold, He Goes Before You Into Galilee (28:7) A fulfillment of prophecy. The angel's message is to tell them they will indeed see the resurrected Christ.  There shall you see Him. They will become eye- witnesses when they see Him in Galilee. This is the climax of Matthew’s gospel. The promise of the resurrection would be fulfilled.  Jesus said it in chapter 26:32, “After I am raised up, again I will go before you into Galilee.”  I’ll meet you all in Galilee. 

All Hail (28:9) - Jesus Greets them.  "All Hail" in the Greek is
"chairĊ" meaning "to joy, rejoice, be glad."  

Be Not Afraid... Go Tell My Brethren (28:10) - The evidence of the resurrection. The women are now grasping the living Christ. Their emotions quickly change from mourning, and fear, to joy and hope in the risen Savior. “Go tell My brethren” – those who are now My brethren, those who now belong to Me who are in the family – Go tell them. Tell them that I’ll see them in Galilee. We’ll have a great convocation and commissioning there.”

Reported Among the Jews (28:15) - The willfulness of unbelief. The soldiers on watch knew that Christ was risen.  They had felt the great earthquake and seen the angel break the seal and roll the stone away (28:2-4).  They knew Christ was gone, and that the disciples could not have stolen the body.  The chief priest knew it too. So great was their concern, that they persuaded the governor to seal the tomb and set the guard.  The soldiers entrusted to guard the tomb under penalty of death.  Yet here they all are willing to spread the lie that the disciples had stolen the body.  The Jews were willing to believe the lie. 

All Power (28:18) - This constitutes a clear claim to omnipotence, and therefore to deity.  Jesus was omnipotent Creator in the beginning (John 1:1-3), He laid aside His deity to become man and die for the sin of the world (Ph 2:5-8).  Now, having become Redeemer as well as Creator, He has again assumed all the attributes of God, as well as those of glorified man.

Go Ye Therefore (28:19) - At this point, Jesus had already told them He was sending them into all the world to make disciples.

Holy Ghost (28:19) - The doctrine of the Trinity is clearly taught here.  One God, yet three Persons each equally and full God - Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.  

Observe All Things (28:20 -All things mean all things.  We cannot profess Christ while rejection any of His teachings (biblical inerrancy, literal creation, global flood, virgin birth, resurrection from the dead).  It's all, or none!

With You Alway (28:20) - Christ has ascended back to heaven, but He is present in every believer in the person of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17).

What does the Resurrection mean?
  • The Word of God is true. The record of the Word of God is true. It affirms the truthfulness of Scripture.
  • Jesus is the Son of God as He claimed to be.
  • Jesus is God, with the power over sin and death.
  • Salvation is complete, that on the cross He conquered sin and death and hell and rose victorious.
  • The Church is established. in Matthew 16 He said, “I’ll build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it?” And the gates of hell is a colloquial expression for death in that culture. He says, “I’ll build My church and death won’t stop Me,” and it didn’t. His resurrection proved that death could not stop Him from building His church.
  • Judgment is coming. The Judge is alive who will judge every man and women and determine their eternal destiny.
  • Heaven is waiting. In John 14 He said, “I’m going to go away, but if I go, I will come again. And when I go, I go to prepare a place for you, because in My Father’s house are many mansions.” Heaven is waiting and Christ is preparing it for His own.
Sunday Morning Audio Message:







Saturday, March 23, 2024

Morning Message: The Time Is At Hand



Bobservations' Column
Titled - "The Time Is At Hand"
Written by:  Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As we enter Easter/Passover Week, we are taking a two week break from our study in Revelation. We have been following events of the future, and it's time to pay closer attention to the most important week of Jesus’ life while on Earth.

Palm Sunday was a day of joy and celebration for Jesus’ flock that has followed him for a week or two from the Galilee Region. As they climb the Mount of Olives from the east, they leave the towns Bethpage, and Bethany behind them, and cresting the top of the Mount, Jerusalem comes into view, that glorious City. It was at that time, as it is today, as steep climb down to cross the Kidron Valley, and before coming to the rise again leading up into Jerusalem. His followers are filled with excitement, anticipating His victorious taking of the Throne of David.

Getting caught up in an exciting event, it is easy to become distracted in the minute-to-minute things and lose sight of what is really going on. Jesus was leading His flock into Jerusalem. Passover was only a week away. Surely, this was the time for Jesus to claim the Throne of David, as David’s rightful heir. Israel’s release from the occupying Army of Rome would bring freedom to the Jews. What could possibly go wrong?

But Jesus had told His Disciples not long ago about the trip to Jerusalem.
He had to go to the City, the priests and leaders would charge Him, and being turned over to the Gentile Army of Rome, He would be condemned, beaten, abused and crucified!

Caught up in the excitement they were all feeling, they lost sight of Jesus’ own prophetic words spoken earlier. For us, we know how easy it is to be drawn away by distractions of all sorts, any sort! How do we rid ourselves of the distractions. Get your heart off the excitement, and touch base with reality again. Quiet yourself and prepare to hear from the Holy Spirit indwelling you.

Jesus said, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” - Matthew 6:6

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version:

Sunday Morning Audio Message:
Matthew 21:1-17 - "The Time Is At Hand"

Summary/Additional Bible Notes:  

In Matthew 21, we come to a monumental moment in the history of our Lord. This is the triumphal entry, the event we call Palm Sunday.

Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem to all of the praise and hosannas of the people who are acclaiming Him as the King and the Messiah. In this triumphant day of acclamation, what looked like the most hopeful moment in the life of our Lord, are many thousands of people shouting Hosanna to their conquering hero.

Palm Sunday is a day for Hallelujahs, a day for Hosannas. As King Jesus enters Jerusalem to the praise of His people, the waving of palm branches, the casting of their garments at His feet. This is the day when the people of Jerusalem and of all Israel gathered for the Passover. People who were even Gentile proselytes to Judaism, were all in a massive mob hailing Him as Son of David, King of Israel. A day in which the anticipation of the long-awaited Messiah seemed to have met its fruition, its fulfillment. Finally, He had come. Finally, the one they had prayed for and longed for had arrived. Tragically, by Friday He was dead; really, at the hands of the very people who had hailed Him on Sunday.

The death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross was no accident. It was not a bad ending to a noble effort by a good man. In fact, Jesus’ death on the cross was not the ending of His story; it was really the beginning of our salvation. The death of Jesus Christ was not even the end of His life. It was the goal of His life, and the beginning of our eternal lives.


Jesus and the disciples have nearly completed their long journey from the region of Galilee in the north to Jerusalem. They have now travelled the last leg from Jericho to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, not far from Jerusalem's gates.

Before entering Jerusalem, though, Jesus directs two of His disciples to go into a village where they will find a donkey and its colt tied up. Jesus has arranged to ride the colt into Jerusalem to intentionally fulfill a prophecy about the Messiah. Zechariah predicted the King would come humbly and riding a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). The symbolism of this is easy to miss. Donkeys are common work animals and unsuited for battle. Victorious conquerors of that era would parade on horses, much as a modern general might ride into a city on the back of a tank. Riding a donkey, rather than a warhorse, is more like a modern person sitting in a pickup truck. In the future, Christ will come in power and judgment (Revelation 19:11–16). This time, His arrival is consistent with His role as a sacrificial Savior (Matthew 21:1–7).

As Jesus rides toward the gates, the large crowd following Him is joined by even more people coming out of Jerusalem, who have heard He is arriving. They put their outer garments and branches on the road in front of Him as symbols of submission and Jewish victory. They also shout out lines from Psalm 118 that are meant for the Messiah: "Hosanna to the Son of David!" and "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" Jerusalem is stirred up. People who don't know ask who Jesus is. Some reply that He is a prophet from Nazareth of Galilee (Matthew 21:8–11).

Jesus later enters the massive temple in Jerusalem. He drives out those selling and buying animals. He overthrows the tables and benches of the moneychangers. This seems to be a second, separate incident from the one recorded in the gospel of John (John 2:13–22). Jesus' anger is not about business or money, itself, but the crass way in which these men are profiting from the spiritual needs of the people (Matthew 21:12–13).

While at the temple, Jesus heals some blind and lame people who come to Him for help. Some children see this and begin to repeat the praises of the crowds as Jesus rode into town. Jesus defends the children to some chief priests and scribes who question Him. He does this, once again, by citing Old Testament Scripture (Matthew 21:14–17).

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Mount of Olives (21:1) - The Mount of Olives, sometimes referred to as “Olivet” in the KJV (2 Samuel 15:30Acts 1:12) or “the mount facing Jerusalem” (1 Kings 11:7), is a ridge running along the east side of Jerusalem, separated from the city walls by a ravine and the Brook Kidron. The Mount of Olives was the site of many events in the Bible and will be the site of a yet-future fulfillment of prophecy.  Jesus’ visiting the Mount of Olives three times in the last week of His earthly life, and each time something of significance happened. The first visit is what we call the triumphal entry.  second visit was to deliver what has come to be known as the Olivet Discourse, recorded in Matthew 24:1 —25:46.  Jesus’ third visit during the week of His passion was on the night He was betrayed. 

A Colt with Her (21:2) - The parallel accounts in Mark 11:2 and Luke 19:30 only mention one donkey, but that does not mean they deny that two were involved.  Matthew is the only one who mentions that this incident was in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, but the others must have known this reference.

Spoken by the Prophet (21:4) - See Zechariah 9:9. Here for the first time Christ presented Himself publicly to the Jews as their promised Messiah and King.

The Multitudes (21:9) - The fickle multitudes unwittingly fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 118:25-26.  They only perceived Jesus as "the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee" (21:11) and expected Him to defeat Roman rule and restore the kingdom to Israel.  While they had frequently called Him "son of David," they had a knowledge without understanding.  Understanding the importance of Jesus's lineage, and His legal right as heir to David's throne, they did not know Him as Savior, Redeemer, and Lord.  These Multitudes who shouted "Hosanna" meaning "save now", in just five short days shouted crucify Him. 

Cast Out All Them (21:12) - Jesus had similarly cleansed the temple near the very beginning of His earthly ministry (John 2:13016), yet only a few years later the religious profiteers were at it again.  This second purging, probably as much as anything else, caused the rulers to determine to have Him executed.

It Is Written (21:13) - There is nothing that reproves more that the Scriptures themselves.  See Hebrews 4:12-14.   This is Jesus' turf, because this is the House of God.  Jesus shows them what the temple should be, and was designed to be; "My house shall be called the house of prayer;" which is quoted from Isa. 56:7.  Then Jesus shows them their sinful hearts.  They had abused the temple and perverted the intention of it quoting from Jeremiah 7:11, "Ye have made it a den of thieves." Jesus comes and sees this horrifying but familiar scene. And it says to us something so important; it says that Christ came, first of all, to deal with men on a spiritual level.  He came to throw out corrupt worship and to bring in true worship. Only He has divine authority to do so.

Have Ye Never Read (21:16) - Again Jesus quotes the Scriptures. Quoting Psalm 8:2, Jesu rebuked "the chief priests and scribes" for rebuking the children crying in the temple (21:15). Two Hebrew words used in Psalm 8:2 to refer to infants under the age of three, because Hebrew mothers suckled their babies until they were about three - “‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise.’” In other words, even little babies can simply, and in an uncluttered way, praise God. He’s using that Psalm as an illustration of what is going on. If God will not be praised out of the mouths of the mature, He will be praised out of the mouths of the immature. God is going to get His praise to His Son, “even if the stones have to cry out,” - Luke 19:40.

And He Left Them (21:17) - Haunting words to those who deny Christ. 
And in that simple, physical act, there was a volume of truth. “He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and He lodged there.” He really left them, because the next day, in verse 23, they come and say, “By what authority do You do these things, and who gave You this authority?” And in verse 27, He gets around finally to saying, “Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.” He left them. He had nothing more to say.  It’s reminiscent of Genesis 6, where the Bible says, “God’s Spirit will not always strive with man.” There comes a time when He leaves.










Saturday, March 16, 2024

Morning Message: All Things Are New



Bobservations' Column
Titled - "All Things Are New"
Written by:  Pastor Bob Lawrenz

From Roman Catholicism we have the legend of the Irish Saint driving the snakes out of Ireland. Born in 385 AD, St. Patrick was never actually declared a Saint by the Church. Neither was he actually Irish. Born in Britain to two Roman citizens, Maewyn Succat was most likely Scottish, or Welch.

As a teenager, Maewyn was kidnapped in a pirate raid, and sold into slavery in Ireland! He found himself herding and watching over sheep in his young life, but eventually escaped to a monastery in England. While finding refuge there, he became a devout Christian, and later became a missionary to Ireland in order to bring Christianity to the Irish. Besides being a missionary and ordained as a Priest (at which time he took the name of Patrick [its Latin root meaning “father.”]), he eventually became a Bishop in Ireland, and was deemed its Patron Saint. He was also dubbed the Patron Saint of Engineers because of the many churches he caused to be built around that island country.

There are several parallels between Patrick’s life and King David’s, as well as both their lives sharing in the Life of Jesus Himself. All three share in the life of a shepherd, Jesus being the Shepherd of our Souls

Next week for Palm Sunday, we will read of Jesus leading His “flock” into Jerusalem and fulfilling prophecy during the final week of His life on Earth.

During Patrick’s life, as lore would have us believe, he drove the serpents out of Ireland. But given the climate there, I wonder if it was not the serpent of evil.

The snakes and serpents of this world have taken over the whole Earth and Satan, that old serpent has defiled it thoroughly. When Jesus calls from heaven, He will call His flock to His side in the Rapture. His Church will be brought out of the defiled world and from that point, we will always be with Him. The snakes on Earth will be brought even lower than they already are and cast into the Lake of Fire.

1 Peter 2:25 -
“For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd, and Bishop of your souls.”
Bobservations' Column: Audio Version


Sunday Morning Audio Message:
Revelation 21:9-27 - "All Things Are New"

Summary/Additional Bible Notes:  

John attempts to describe the New Jerusalem in terms others can understand. In doing so, he mentions precious materials such as gold and jasper, but associates them with properties those materials don't normally have. Gold, for instance, is not normally "clear," and neither is jasper. This is John's struggle in explaining what he sees; a modern person might say they saw smoke that looked like "transparent lead," and those hearing it would understand the mixture of two separate ideas. Here, John does something similar in his effort to describe the indescribable (Revelation 21:9–21). Describing the effect of God's glory radiating from the New Jerusalem, the city appeared to the apostle like one gigantic precious stone. It was crystal-clear and unblemished.  Heaven's capital city is thus pictured as a huge, flawless diamond, refracting the brilliant, blazing glory of God throughout the new heaven and the new earth.

John also points out that there is no temple in this new city, since there is no need for a temple. Temples, priests, and rituals are all necessary when man is somehow separated from God. Two people speaking face-to-face don't need telephones or letters; those living in direct communion with God won't need a temple. This description also re-emphasizes the perfect holiness of this New Jerusalem, and the fact that only those who put their faith in Christ will be found there (Revelation 21:22–27). Revelation 22 is the final chapter of the New Testament. There, John will complete his description of the New Jerusalem and give some final words to those who read this text.

The most distinguishing characteristic of the capital city of eternity is that it is the throne of the eternal, Almighty One, and therefore had the glory of God in it.  Radiating from the New Jerusalem will be the brilliance of the full manifestation of God's glory, so much so that "the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

The chapter concludes revealing that this great glory, security, and fellowship are available for all people. The nations walk by its light and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it. They will bring the glory and the honor of the nations (21:26). Isaiah also prophesied of this moment.

Those who do not submit to God will not be allowed to enter through the gates. Only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life can enter into this glorious fellowship with God and receive the eternal blessings and rewards. These images portray the glory and blessings we will enjoy in full fellowship with God in the age to come after Christ returns.


Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

The Lamb's Wife (21:9) - The New Jerusalem takes on the character of its inhabitants, the redeemed (see verse 2; 19:7-9).

Jasper (21:11) - This is a transliteration, not a translation, of the Greek word.  Rather than the modern opaque jasper, the term actually refers to a completely clear diamond, a perfect gem with the brilliant light of god's glory shining out of it and streaming over the new heaven and the new earth (see 4:3).

Twelve Gates (21:12)The description of the New Jerusalem is a literal city on a literal earth with dimensions and descriptions exactly as recorded. In order to understand the significance of the twelve gates being inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes, we must look to the beginning of the Old Testament, when God promised a new land and a great nation to Abraham, whose descendants would spread blessing upon all other nations (Genesis 12:1–3). To Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, whom God later named “Israel” (Genesis 32:28), twelve sons were born to establish the twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 49). Those twelve tribes escaped slavery in Egypt, inherited the Promised Land (Exodus 6:14; 24:4), received the Law (Exodus 20), and were chosen by God to be His covenant people (Exodus 19:5–6).

During the reign of David, out of all the territories of the tribes of Israel, God chose the city of Jerusalem in Judah as the place where God’s name would rest (2 Chronicles 12:13). Revelation speaks of the New Jerusalem that has been prepared for the reign of the Lamb (Revelation 21:1–3). This New Jerusalem sits on twelve foundations, representing the twelve apostles who would reign over the twelve tribes of Israel (verse 14; cf. Matthew 19:28 and Luke 22:30). The gates of the city are symmetrically arranged: “There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west” (Revelation 21:13). Each gate of the New Jerusalem bears the inscription of one of the tribes of Israel, and each gate is guarded by an angel (Revelation 21:12). These angels are there to let in “only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (verse 27).

It is through the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem that the true tribal people—believers of Jewish descent as well as Gentiles who have been “grafted in” with God’s people (Romans 11:17–25)—will enter the joy of the Lord (see Matthew 25:21).

Twelve Names (21:12) - Celebrating for all eternity God's covenant relationship with Israel. The gates of the New Jerusalem are inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Israel was chosen by God to be a light to all nations (Isaiah 49:5–7; Romans 9:23–25), and God will never revoke Israel’s status as His chosen people (see Romans 11:29). The New Jerusalem thus contains a tribute to the patriarchs of Israel. It also contains a tribute to the apostles (Revelation 21:14), so both Old Testament and New Testament are represented in the city—the New Jerusalem is filled with the elect of God from all eras. 

Twelve Tribes (21:12) - The twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles of the Lamb (21:14) are inscribed on the city's foundational structures, and this indicates that "the bride, the Lamb's wife" (21:9) is composed of believers from both old and new covenants, both before and after the first coming of Christ, Israel and the church.  Compare also Ephesians 2:14, 19-21.

Twelve Foundation Stones (21:14) - These stones commemorate God's covenant relationship with the church, with the apostles as the foundation (Ephesians 2:20).  At the top of each gate was the name of one of the apostles.  The layout of the city's gates pictures God's favor on all His redeemed people, both those under the old and new covenants. 

Gold Reed (21:15) - The reed was about ten feet long, which was a standard of measurement.

Measure the City (21:15) - The angel is with a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates, and its walls. These vast measurements of the city are to show that the people of God are secure and safe. This city with its perfect dimensions in equal length, width, and height represents God’s presence with his people who have been made perfect (Hebrews 12:22-24). This action indicates that the capital of heaven belongs to God and He is measuring what is His (see 11:1).

Length, Breadth, and Height (21:16) - The city has the symmetrical dimensions of a perfect cube, which parallels its closest earthly counterpart, the inner sanctuary in the tabernacle and temple.

Twelve Thousand Furlongs (21:16) - This would be nearly fourteen hundred miles cubed or over two million square miles, offering plenty of room for all the glorified saints to live.

One Hundred and Forty-Four Cubits (21:17) - Seventy-two yards or two hundred sixteen feet; likely the width of the wall.

Jasper (21:18) - See verse 11. This is the material of the thick wall-diamond.

Pure Gold, Like Clear Glass (21:18) - Unlike earth's gold, this gold will be transparent so the over-powering radiance of God's glory can refract and glisten through the entire city.

Chalcedony (21:19) - This name derives from Chalcedon, an ancient name for a city in modern Turkey.  The gem is a sky-blue agate stone with translucent, colored stripes.

Sardonyx (21:20) - A gem with a transparent gold or yellowish tone.

Sardius (21:20) - A common stone from the quartz family, which ranged in color from orange-red to brownish-red to blood-red (4:3).

Chrysolite (21:20) - A gem with transparent gold or yellowish tone.

Beryl (21:20) - A mineral with several varieties of gems, ranging from the green emerald to the golden yellow beryl to the light blue aquamarine.

Topaz (21:20) - Ancient topaz was a softer stone with a yellow or yellow-green color.

Chrysoprase (21:20) - The modern form of this jewel is an apple-green variety of quartz.  The Greek name suggests a gold-tinted, green gemstone.

Jacinth (21:20) - Today this stone is a transparent zircon, usually red or reddish-brown.  The one John saw was blue or shining violet in color.

Amethyst (21:20) - A clear quartz crystal that ranges in color from a faint purple to an intense purple.

Twelve Pearls (21:21) - The pearly gates are never closed (21:25), thus providing access to the city at every level throughout its great height. Each gate is composed of 1, 380 miles of solid pearl.

One Pearl (21:21) - Each of the gates of the city is a single, fifteen-hundred-mile-high pearl.  Even as earthly pearls are formed in response to the wounding of oyster flesh, so these gigantic, supernatural pearls will remind saints throughout eternity of the magnitude of Christ's suffering and its eternal benefit. 

No Temple (21:22) - Several passages affirm that there is a temple in heaven (3:12; 7:15; 11:19; 15:5).  Here, it is clear there is none in eternity.  How can this be?  The temple is not a building; it is the Lord God Himself.  Verse 23 continues the thought of no temple, except God and the Lamb.  The glory of God that illuminates all heaven defines it as His temple.  There is no need for a temple in the eternal state since God Himself will be the temple in which everything exists.  The presence of God literally fills the entire new heaven and new earth (see verse 3).  Going to heaven will be entering the limitless presence of the Lord. 

The Nations (21:24) - Literally "the peoples," this means that the redeemed people from every nation and ethnic group will dwell in heaven's light.  In the eternal city, there will be no more divisions, barriers, or exclusions because of race or politics.  All kinds of peoples in eternity dissolve into the people of God, and they will move freely in and about the city.



Saturday, March 9, 2024

Morning Message: Epilogue - Called to Peace





















Bobservations' Column
Titled - "Epilogue - Called to Peace"
Written by:  Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The Bible is a unique volume of Books, yet all 66 Books have a central theme. Regardless of the 40 individual scribes and prophets whose words are recorded, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (from 2 Timothy 3:16). This “instruction in righteousness” is the righteousness of Christ, pointing all to our Redeemer, Savior, Messiah, Jesus Christ is the central theme.

In 1 Kings 19:9-12, the Prophet Elijah had a heavy heart because of the state of God’s Chosen People. And when God spoke to him, His voice came not in a strong wind, nor from a subsequent earthquake, nor from the fire that followed the earthquake. But after the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, there was a stillness as Elijah sought the voice of the Lord. The voice was quiet, and small as it spoke to the Prophet. The voice was from within himself. It was not the booming voice of Judgment, but that still, that small voice within Elijah’s own heart, for God reigned in the Prophet’s heart. The voice asked Elijah a question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” The man had sought the safety of a cave on Mt. Horeb as the storms approached. He was hiding though, not performing the role of a Prophet of God, neither teaching, nor warning.

God’s people had been in rebellion. The storms were perhaps judgment against them, but Elijah was now speaking with God in the aftermath. Elijah heard the voice of God’s Holy Spirit, and it was still and small, and comforting.

That is the voice of the Holy Spirit, bringing reproof, and correction, and then instruction to His Believers. The Bible’s Books accomplish all those things as they point Jew and Gentile alike to the personhood of Jesus Christ.

We are at the Epilogue of the Book of Revelation. The havoc has passed; the Beast, the False Prophet, and Satan too have been cast into the Lake of Fire, along with all those that followed his pernicious ways.

“Old things are passed away, and behold all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning Audio Message:
Revelation 21:1-8 - "Epilogue - Called to Peace"

Summary/Additional Bible Notes:  

From the time described midway through Genesis chapter 3 until the events of Revelation 20, earth experienced—is experiencing—the presence of sin and death. At the end of Revelation chapter 20, John sees God delivering the final and ultimate judgment on Satan, casting all evil into the lake of fire. At that point, creation will finally be free from everything wicked, and what follows is a description of a remade, restored earth.

When the smoke clears following God's final punishment of the wicked, earth as we know it will be no more.  John records in chapters 21-22 the startling revelation of the city of God and the beginning of the eternal state.  Paradise was lost in the Garden of Eden when Adam sinned (Genesis 3).  Paradise is regained when God makes all things new (Revelation 21-22). God will create a new universe to be the eternal dwelling place of the redeemed.  

Following the great white throne judgment of chapter 20, John sees a new heaven and a new earth. Scholars debate whether this means that all of creation will be destroyed and re-made, or that God will re-condition creation. The terminology used seems to suggest a new creation. John sees the new city of Jerusalem descending onto the earth, and voices celebrating the restored relationship between God and man. In particular, John hears the voice from the throne declare an end to suffering, pain, and death for all of eternity. At the same time, John hears a reminder that sin, and those who chose it over God, are condemned to the "second death" of hell (Revelation 21:1–8).

Verses 1-8 appear to offer us a brief summary of what is described in more detail in the remainder of chapters 21-22. John sees a new heaven, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem. The Greek word John uses for “new” is kainos, which means 
recently made, fresh, recent, unused, unworn, a new kind, unprecedented, unheard of.

One way of understanding the structure of these final chapters is to see this whole segment (vv. 1-8) as an outline or summary of the remaining portion of the book.

For example:
  • In verse 2 we see the New Jerusalem, explained more fully in Rev. 21:9-21.
  • In verse 3 we see that God dwells among men, described in more detail in Rev. 21:22-27.
  • In verse 5 we see the renewal of the world, for which we are provided more information in Rev. 22:1-5.
  • In verse 5 we also see, “These words are faithful and true,” which is expanded upon in Rev. 22:6-10.
  • In verse 6 we see Jesus declare His work completed, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega,” more fully revealed in Rev. 22:11-15.
  • In verses 6-7 we see a final blessing, the water of life to all who thirst, expanded upon in Rev. 22:16-17.
  • And in verse 8 we see the final curse upon the rebellious, repeated in Rev. 22:18-19.
Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

A New Heaven and A New Earth (21:1) - The entire universe as we now know it will be destroyed and be replaced by a new creation that will last forever.  This is an Old Testament teaching as well as a New Testament one. In 2 Peter 3:13, God promised that a new heavens and earth would come in which would dwell perfect righteousness.  Jesus claimed the very same in Matthew 24:3. The heavens and earth, which, like the first, would be "made" as well as "created" (compare Genesis 2:3 with Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22), would never pass away. "For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain" (Isaiah 66:22). 

No More Sea (21:1) - Currently three-fourths of the earth's surface is water, but the new environment will no longer be water-based and will have completely different climatic conditions (see 22:1-2).  There will be water on the new earth (Revelation 22:1-2) of which the water of the present age is only a type and prophecy.  That water is the water of everlasting life.

The Tabernacle of God (21:3) - The word translated "tabernacle" means place of abode.  This is God's house, the place where He lives. The word for "tabernacle" in the Old Testament (Hebrew mishkan) is a cognate to its Greek equivalent (skene).  The well-known term for the glory-cloud that filled the tabernacle, the Shekinah, developed from a related word, Sheken, meaning "habitation" (Deuteronomy 12:5). 

Wipe Away Every Tear (21:4) - The curse (sorrow, pain, sweat and death) that God pronounced on the earth and its inhabitants when Adam sinned (Genesis 3:17-19) is gone.  This great deliverance has been purchased dearly, at the cost of infinite sorrow, pain, sweating and dying on the part of God Himself, through Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of man.  There will be no more pain or sorrow or tears ever again, and death is swallowed up in victory.  

All Things New (21:5) - Not some things, but ALL things. Not only will everything be made new, but also everything will then stay new.  No more corruption or decay. 

True And Faithful (21:5) - John is instructed to write that "these words are true and faithful".  Here is the full assurance of God Himself who is faithful and true.  The One who sits upon the throne is Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, the beginning and the end (Isaiah 44:6; 48:12).  God started history, and He will end it.  Everything in between, and in the future is according to His sovereign plan.  Every detail of His Word in prophecy, has been tested and found true. Because God is true, every word He speaks is true. 

Water of Life (21:6) - This refers to the lasting spiritual water of which Jesus spoke, the conversation at the well of Samaria:  "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14).  Later, Jesus also said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)" John 7:27-39.

This "water of life" is both symbolic of the Holy Spirit, with the eternal life He gives all who believe on Christ, and also literal water, sparkling pure and abundant in the beautiful river flowing through the holy city (Revelation 22:1).  

Him Who Thirsts (21:6) - Those who will be redeemed and enter heaven are those who are dissatisfied with their hopeless, lost condition and crave God's righteousness with every part of their being. Heaven belongs to those who, knowing their souls are parched by sin, have earnestly sought the satisfaction of salvation and eternal life through Jesus Christ.  A citizen of heaven described as "one who thirsts" signifies those who "hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Matthew 5:6).  

He Who Overcomes (21:7) - See 1 John 5:4-5.  An overcomer is one who exercises saving faith in Jesus Christ.  The most wonderful promise to the one who overcomes and who thirsts for righteousness, is God's promise "I will be his God."  Equally amazing is God's promise that the one who overcomes "will be My son." Believers have been adopted as God's own and will be fully realized in heaven (Romans 8:23).

Inherit (21:7) - To each of the seven churches (Revelation 2 and 3) had previously been given a gracious promise for the "overcomers" in that church.  Now an eighth and final promise is given to him "that overcometh."  This is an implicit assurance that all the overcomers shall inherit all things. This is because Christ Himself is "heir of all things" (Hebrews 1:2; Psalm 2:8), and those who are in Christ are "joint-heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17), receiving "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:4, 5).The spiritual inheritance all believers will receive is the fullness of the new creation.

Shall Have their Part in the Lake Which Burns (21:8) - In contrast to the glorious promises to the redeemed, the Lord inserts another WARNING to those who remain (by virtue of unbelief) unforgiven in their murders and flesh-peddling, unrepentant of their demonic idolatries, and committed to their falsehoods.  They will spend eternity in the lake of fire, in eternal torments, the second death (Revelation 20:14,15).  The New Testament often goes beyond just citing unbelief in listing character and lifestyle trains of the outcast, so that believers can identify such people. 





Saturday, March 2, 2024

Morning Message: The Day of the Lord




Bobservations' Column
Titled - "The Day of the Lord"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As we have just finished chapter 19 and the beginning of chapter 20, we should be reminded about what the Holy Spirit has told John about Christ’s Second Coming. I have always been encouraged by John 15:15, as Jesus tells the Apostles that He has told them “...all things that His Father has told Him.”

And it’s always good to take God at His Word. Revelation 19:14 speaks of the “armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses.” It is the fulfillment of Zechariah 14:4,5 where we are told that “the Lord my God shall come, and all the Saints with thee.”

One of the exciting things about this fulfillment is the John 15:15 reference, where we started. Now we have a bigger picture of God’s faithfulness. And what we find is that John 15:15 is itself a fulfillment. The Father never wants to leave His children in the dark, without knowledge.

The Prophecies of the Prophets are incredible! In Amos 3:3, the Prophet asks a rhetorical question: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Of course, they cannot possibly do that without an agreement made in advance: Where was the walk to begin? What is the destination to be? What path would be taken? And what is the pace that the two would keep? Without agreement in all these things, the two are not walking together. The Holy Spirit’s words for Amos and for John to record are impeccably accurate. Amos is the Prophet that tells us almost 800 years before Jesus’ birth, about the “Day of the Lord” which we read about today. He describes it in 5:16-20. The prophecies are to help His children to be of one mind with Him.

All the intricacies of God’s Word are seemingly beyond finding out, until we run across them in the Word. Then we are held in awe at His wonderful works. This is why it’s so
important to be in God’s Word daily! Let’s see what other nuggets we can find as we go through the rest of the chapter.

“Surely the Lord God will do nothing but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the Prophets.” - Amos 3:7

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version



Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Revelation 20:11-15 - "The Day of the Lord"

Summary/Additional Bible Notes 

"I won’t mind going to hell. All my friends will be there.” Many flippant comments like this are made by unbelievers who think that eternity is something to joke about. Everyone dies, and what the Bible says about eternal punishment reveals that it is no joking matter.

The word throne appears often in the Apocalypse, but we must distinguish between its different appearances. For example, the throne in chapters 4–5, as well as the one in chapter 7, is a throne of grace and mercy. Here stand the redeemed. They have been washed by the blood of the Lamb and offer their worship, praise, and thanks (5:8–10; 7:9–17). The throne in 20:11–15, however, is one of justice and punishment. Those who stand there will face only judgment. There we find no praise, no joy, no singing—only silent gloom as wrath is displayed and judgment meted out.

And who will sit on the throne of judgment? Scripture makes it clear that it will be the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said in John 5:22, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” It is the Lord Jesus, the despised Nazarene and lowly carpenter, who will occupy the judge’s “bench” on that day. The apostle Paul stated, “I charge thee, therefore, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:1). He will judge the living in the Judgment of the nations at the beginning of His Millennial Kingdom (Matthew 25:31–46); and at the end of the Kingdom, He will judge the “dead” at the Great White Throne.


Today we are finishing up the twentieth chapter of Revelation, verses 11-15.

After the final defeat and punishment of Satan, the rest of mankind is resurrected. These are the non-believers, brought back to life in the second resurrection. This brings them to a great white throne, symbolic of purity and justice. Unlike the rainbow throne described in earlier chapters, this one is austere. Those who died in Christ are judged on the basis of His life, rather than their own—those are the persons whose names were written in the book of life (John 3:16–18). In contrast, here at the great white throne judgment, unbelievers are judged on their own deeds, which means damnation (Romans 6:23). Every person who did not follow Christ is consigned to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11–15).

Great White Throne (20:11) - Nearly fifty times in Revelation there is the mention of a throne.  This is a judgment throne, elevated, pure and holy.  God sits on it as judge (see 4:2-3, 9; 5:1, 7, 13; 6:16; 7:10, 15) in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ (see 21:5-6).

Earth and the Heaven Fled Away (20:11) - John saw the contaminated universe go out of existence.  Peter described this moment in 2 Peter 3:1013.  The universe is "uncreated," going into nonexistence.

The Dead (20:12) - 
The people described here, at the Great White Throne, are the unsaved dead. No one who has received Christ as his or her personal Savior will be there. There is no blowing of the trumpet, no white robes, no clean linen, no garments of righteousness—all characteristics of the presence of believers. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and Revelation 19:8.) Scripture teaches that the final resurrection will not be a general resurrection but a resurrection with two stages—one for the saved and one for the unsaved.

Standing Before God (20:12) - In a judicial sense, as guilty, condemned prisoners before the bar of divine justice; there are no living sinners left in the destroyed universe since all sinners were killed and all believers glorified.

Books (20:12) - These books record every thought, word, and deed of sinful men - all recorded by divine omniscience (see Daniel 7:10, the verse that is the source of this text).  They will provide the evidence for eternal condemnation (see 18:6-7).

The “books” of 20:12 record all the evil deeds of the individuals standing before the Great White Throne. They are judged according to their “works,” or deeds. When their names are not found in the book of life, they will have no basis for objecting to the fairness of the Judge for omitting them. The “other” books will give evidence from their lives to demonstrate their culpability and the fact that they deserve the punishment they receive in the lake of fire.

The “books” will play one more role also: They will indicate the degree of punishment these people will receive. Although all will be “lost,” the measure of their punishment will coincide with the degree of spiritual truth they received and rejected in their lifetimes. (For a fuller understanding of this aspect of eternal punishment, see Matthew 11:23–24; Luke 12:41–48; and Hebrews 10:29.)

These passages are not meant for mere debate. They are meant to be pondered deeply by everyone who reads them. What is your condition before a Holy God, my friend? Will you be at this judgment, trembling before your Maker at the Great White Throne because you never received His grace provided for you in His Son, the Lamb? I urge you to trust in the blood of the Lamb today, so you will not have to face His wrath tomorrow.

Book of Life (20:12) - It contains the names of all the redeemed (see 3:5). It contains the names of all who have been saved from the second death. They belong to Jesus Christ, the Lamb who purchased their redemption. Other references to this book are Revelation 13:8 and 21:27.

Judge According to their Works (20:12) - Their thoughts (Luke 8:17) words (Matthew 12:7), and actions (Matthew 16:27) will be compared to God's perfect, holy standard (Matthew 5:48) and will be found wanting (Romans 3:23).  This also implies that there are degrees of punishment in hell (see Matthew 10:14-15; 11:22; Mark 12:38-40; Luke 12:47-48).

Death and Hell (20:13) - Both terms describe the state of death.  All unrighteous dead will appear at the Great White Throne judgment; none will escape.  All the places that have held the bodies of the unrighteous dead will yield up new bodies suited for hell.

Second Death (20:14) - 
The “first death” is physical death—something we all must experience (except, of course, for the generation of believers who will be transported into the presence of the Lord via the Rapture). The first death involves separation of the soul from the body. The second death (described in Revelation 20:14–15), will be the eternal separation of unbelievers from God. It has been said, with appropriate candor, “If you are born once, you will die twice; if you are born twice, you will die only once.”

The "second death" is for all those who were born only physically in their lifetimes. They were not born again spiritually (John 1:13; 3:6–7). The second death will involve a conscious and tormented existence in the lake of fire. The term lake of fire is a metaphor for a place that is too horrible to be imagined. Human language can only compare it to something we can faintly comprehend. The reality will be far worse than anything we can think of.

There are more than twenty references in the New Testament alone to these fires of hell, most of them in statements of the Lord Jesus Himself.  The warnings are given with such urgency as to leave no doubt that they should be taken with all seriousness.  

Whosoever... Not Found... Lambs Book of Life (20:15) - Not only are lost men and women condemned by the record of their works but also by the absence of their names in the Lamb's book of life.  Just as there are degrees of reward for the righteous in heaven, there are degrees of punishment for the unrighteous in hell.

There is only one way to avoid the terrifying future of hell.  Those who confess their sins and ask God to forgive them on the basis of Christ's substitutionary death on their behalf will be delivered from God's eternal wrath (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9).

Ungodly men and women today scoff at the reality of hell.  They will even go so far as to use it as an excuse for rejecting Christ.  "How could a God of love send someone to such a horrible fate?"  
The entire question is wrong. A better wording is “If God is love, then why do some people go to hell?” Romans 1:18–20 lays the foundation for the answer:  "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness (wickedness) of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness (suppress the truth by their wickedness); Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse."

People have been given enough truth to know and surrender to God, but they refuse it. Self-will wants to deny God’s right to tell us what to do. So, with the truth in front of them, many people turn away and refuse to see it. Atheist Thomas Nagel has said, “It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”

Jesus was God incarnate and therefore love incarnate, but He spoke more about judgment and hell than anyone else in Scripture.

No human being can escape the knowledge of his or her own sinfulness. We may mask it, may play psychological games with it. We may try to blunt it through drugs or alcohol or a fast-paced life, going from relationship to relationship. But in every human heart the law of God does a convicting work, and that convicting work has an existential element to it. There is naturally the fear of death because of what may lie immediately ahead of that. And even though people would reject Christianity, reject the Bible and what it says—about, “It’s appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment”—they cannot escape the consciousness of their own sin, and they cannot escape the lingering reality that justice does exist in the world. We understand the concept of it; we understand right and wrong, and there may well be an accounting yet to come. 

Is your name written in the Lamb's book of life?







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