Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Congratulations to the Tea Party

“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”

Patrick Henry

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Speaking of signs

(Maybe just a short verse next time)

(So good it has to be fake)

(Nobody is really going to ask you about that)


(Good use of tithe money)

(Which one?)

(Napoleon Dynamite, Pastor)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Lord, give me a sign

Lord, give me a sign.
That’s the prayer I pray
When I want something for myself
But need to explain it away.
Help me get one more thing
That brings pleasure to my life,
‘Cause I need to speak Christianese
To justify it to my wife.

I want a new Dodge Viper.
Christ, I think they’re cool.
The salesman at the dealership
Went to my high school.
If that’s not a sign, what is?
Then my old car’s tire went flat
On the way home from the dealership.
It doesn’t get clearer than that.

As with the Apostle Gideon,
The signage didn’t stop there.
In my mailbox was a credit offer:
“No interest for one year” (!)
I fell to my knees in praise.
I blubbered and I stammered.
It’s as if I were a nail
And the Lord Himself the hammer.

Lord, it’s really great
How when I want something bad
There are always signs around,
Always tea leaves to be read.
Signs are Your way of telling us
What we already want to hear;
They make faith quantifiable
And prove that You are near.

I’m sure there are better things to do,
And better ways to live.
But I wouldn’t buy the Viper, Lord
If it weren’t for the signs You give.
As I’m sure it says in John somewhere,
“You have to pay the piper.”
So give me credit, Lord, to join
The next generation of Vipers.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July

Here's a funny clip of history-illiterate Americans. There was probably less editing involved than you think. Marist just release a poll demonstrating that 26% of Americans don't know from which country we declared our independence. As Jay Leno says in the clip, "Now your kids are not homeschooled are they?"

This is your brain. This is your brain on government education.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

What will happen when Christ comes back? (part 4)

He will destroy the old creation

We learned in First Corinthians that the dead are resurrected “at his coming” (15: 23). The very next sentence says, “Then cometh the end” (15: 24). The end of what? After all God’s enemies are defeated, and all the dead are resurrected and judged, then what comes to an end?

To find out, we don’t need to consult prophecy “experts.” We only need to consult Scripture.

Peter sheds more light on this “end.” He tells us that the entire universe has a rendezvous with fire: “…the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3: 7). So in a great conflagration the universe will end. And when does this happen? At “the day of judgment,” which is a day of perdition (spiritual ruin) for ungodly men. In case the message was lost on anyone, Peter goes on to state it more explicitly: “…the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3: 10). This passage leaves no room for figurative interpretations. The stars and planets will literally pass away. The elements—the very foundational units of all matter—will dissolve. The earth and everything on it will be incinerated. This is the end of the old creation and it happens right after the resurrection and judgment. As Christ told his disciples, the judgment of the just and the unjust will occur “at the end of the world” (Matthew 13: 49).

God promised us He would create “a new heaven and a new earth.” But before He can do so He must do away with the old. “For, behold,” he told Isaiah, “I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isaiah 65: 17). John recorded a vision of this promise being fulfilled in the next to last chapter of the Bible: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (Revelation 21: 1). In John’s account, just as in Paul’s and Peter’s, this occurs immediately after the resurrection and judgment. And, as we have seen stated clearly in Scripture, the resurrection and judgment occur at Christ’s second coming.

This presents an insurmountable problem for those who claim that Christ is going to return to be a political leader on our present sin-cursed earth for many centuries to come. If the universe is burned up and passes away on Judgment Day, and if Judgment Day occurs at His coming, there will be no Earth left to govern.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

What will happen when Christ comes back? (part 3)

He will judge everyone

The day of Christ’s return will be what Christians throughout the ages have called “Judgment Day.” Not only will all men be resurrected simultaneously, they will all be judged and sentenced to their eternal place of residence. Like the destruction of the wicked and the resurrection of the dead, the judgment ceremony occurs “at his coming.”

Christ Himself spells this out in language that is anything but cryptic:

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…..Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels…… And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25: 31-46).

Notice this judgment is eternal. It’s not an earthly punishment but a permanent sentence to take effect immediately. Paul describes the same day of judgment in Romans:

“And thinkest thou this, O man…that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?...But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath” (Romans 2: 5-8).

Paul equates the “day of wrath” to the “revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” It will be a day of wrath for the wicked: a day of judgment for all. As with the previous passage it’s clear that this judgment is permanent. It will result in either “eternal life” or “indignation and wrath” (what Christ in the previous passage called “everlasting punishment”).

In Revelation, John paints another picture of Judgment Day:

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books…and they were judged every man….And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20: 12-15).

Now as we look at the same event from different angles we notice unmistakable overlapping. In Matthew we read “When the Son of Man shall come in his glory,” then “shall he sit upon the throne” and “before him shall be gathered all nations.” From this passage in Revelation we see “a great white throne and him that sat on it” and “the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened” and “the dead were judged….” These are the same event.

Christ gave us yet another view of Judgment Day with this analogy:

“…the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just” (Matthew 13: 47-49).

There are few teachings in Scripture more obvious than the judgment of all men at the last day. No one should be able to say they didn’t get the picture. Yet, surprisingly, many Christian leaders teach that several centuries will separate the judgment of the just from the judgment of the unjust. Such a doctrine is found nowhere in Scripture. It would make all the above passages meaningless. If we remember to consult Scripture alone, however, then God’s simple plan remains clear and consistent.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What will happen when Christ comes back? (part 2)

He will resurrect all the dead

Even this guy

Everyone who ever lived in history will be bodily resurrected and will ultimately fall into one of two classes. Christ made this crystal clear when He told His disciples “the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his [the Son of Man’s] voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5: 28, 29).

Remember the “shout” Paul wrote about when Christ descends? It immediately preceded the dead rising. Christ is here talking about the same event: the dead will hear His voice and come forth. How many of the dead does He say are resurrected? “All.” He then immediately divides “all” into two classes. Notice, too, that Christ says this happens at the same time—the same hour.

Paul makes reference to the same thing in a speech to Governor Felix: “…there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24: 15).

There’s no ambiguity about who is raised up: both the just and the unjust. And how many resurrections will it take to achieve this? “A” resurrection (singular). The plain meaning of the sentence limits this to a single event.

In another passage, Christ tells His followers, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6: 40).

How many who believed will be raised up? “Every one.” And when will “every one” be raised up? “At the last day”; not centuries before the last day. Here Christ is addressing the topic of believers only, but as the previous verses make clear, the “just and unjust” are resurrected simultaneously.

In Revelation we get another vision of the resurrection: “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God… the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them” (20: 12, 13). Are only some of the dead raised up? No. The phrase “great and small” implies everyone from the least to the greatest. Homeless beggars will stand next to pharaohs. Nameless slaves will stand next to presidents and kings. Are any of the dead left out? No. Even those buried at the bottom of the sea are not forgotten. The passage goes on to explain that this resurrection immediately precedes the judgment and the destruction of earth: “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (20: 15; 21: 1).

All of the above passages, taken as a whole, suggest that there will be one general resurrection of all bodies at the last day.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What will happen when Christ comes back? (part 1)

Christ is not coming back merely to be seen and make a lot of noise. He has an agenda that is clearly stated in Scripture. It is important for every Christian--in fact every person on earth--to know what will happen at His return. If we learn nothing else about what the Bible says about the future, we need to learn what will transpire on the day of His second coming.

Scripture describes several momentous events that will coincide with the second coming. We'll look at four of these:

1) Christ will defeat all His enemies
2) Christ will resurrect all the dead
3) Christ will judge and sentence everyone
4) Christ will destroy the creation

We'll see that each event is inextricably tied to His return. As we look at these events individually, we'll notice a lot of overlap. A verse about Christ defeating His enemies may be tied in to the resurrection. A verse about resurrecting all the dead may also mention their judgment. A verse about the judgment may talk about the end of the world. God has a reason for this overlap. It proves the events are interrelated. Though the pieces of the puzzle are given "here a little and there a little," all the pieces together form a single composite picture of Christ's return. Some people might look at two pieces of the puzzle and pronounce them two separate events in history. But the continual overlap of these events makes that kind of approach unsustainable.

So I'll try to focus on these four events individually, but some overlap and repetition is inevitable--and ultimately will help us see the picture more clearly.

1. Christ's enemies will be defeated

When Christ returns He will take final vengeance on all His enemies. These enemies are physical and metaphysical: anti-Christian secular leaders and their followers, religious leaders who spread false doctrine, those who deny Christ, those who torment His followers, Satan himself, even Death itself. Christ's return will mark their last day of power.

Paul writes:

“But every man [resurrected] in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. (I Corinthians 15: 23-26).

Notice this all happens “at his coming”: a resurrection, putting an end to the power of others, putting all enemies under his feet. Many think the phrase “he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet” means He will reign for centuries on earth. But it’s a clear reference to Psalms 110: “The LORD said unto my Lord [Christ], Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (v. 1). Christ is reigning right now in heaven at His Father’s right hand. And He will do so until the appointed day when all his enemies, including death itself, are to be completely destroyed.

How can anyone know when all the enemies have been defeated? Because he gives us a benchmark: “the last enemy is death.” The last enemy can’t be defeated before the other enemies. When the last enemy is defeated, then all the enemies will have been defeated. Death, we learn, is vanquished at the resurrection, when all mortals are given immortal bodies. Paul explains this in such a way as to leave no doubt:

“…the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15: 52-55)

This account comes from the same chapter that tells us “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” and that this occurs “at his coming.” If the resurrection occurs at his coming and signifies the ultimate defeat of death (as these passages make clear), then Christ cannot at that point begin to rule over sinful men on a sin-cursed earth. Such a scenario would leave in existence countless enemies after “the last enemy” had been put down.

John gives us another glimpse of Christ defeating His enemies in Revelation:

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.…And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19: 11, 15).

Does “rule them with a rod of iron” mean He’s going to reside on earth as a dictator for an extended period of time after He returns? Not at all. That phrase is a direct quote from the second chapter of Psalms. All we have to do is turn there to find out what it means: “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel” (v. 9). The same imagery is repeated earlier in the book of Revelation: “And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers” (2: 27). So it’s obvious the rod of iron is not a king’s golden scepter, as many suppose. The rod of iron is contrasted with pottery. What does the rod of iron do to the pottery? It destroys it. It is a symbol of Christ destroying all His earthly enemies at His return.

Revelation 19 goes on to tell us the fate of those subject to the “fierceness and wrath” of the rod of iron. The birds of the air will

“eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great….And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh” (Revelation 19: 18, 21).

They are all destroyed, both great and small; not even a remnant is left. No sinful men will linger in this world after Christ returns.

We also learn that “the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet….These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (v. 20). These represent the worldly leadership of God’s enemies. The parallel passage in Chapter 20 informs us that after these “armies” arrayed against Christ are defeated, “the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (v. 10). Immediately after this John describes the resurrection (wherein the “last enemy”—death-- is defeated) and the eternal judgment.

But when Christ appears will He strike some people dead only to resurrect them perhaps minutes later? Most likely He will. Although we can’t say with certainty over what time span these events will transpire, there’s no reason to believe Christ won’t expedite His plans. Death will be a reality up until the very second the general resurrection takes place. Many people will die a natural death just before the Day of the Lord; many will die at His coming. But all will be resurrected simultaneously, whether they died ten centuries earlier or ten seconds earlier. This is the next fundamental teaching we’ll look at.