Archives
Tag Cloud
: Mothers Abandonment Abomination of Desolation Abortion Abraham’s Bosom Abuse Accounting Activism Adoption Adultery Affection Affliction Afterlife Alliances Altar America Angels Anger Anointing Apologetics Apostasy Armor of God Ascension Ashamed Atonement Authority Baal Babylon Bad Baptism Betrayal Bible Bitterness Blasphemy Blessing Blessings Blindness Boasting Body of Christ Bondage Book of Life Borders Born Again Bottomless Pit Bride of Christ Bridegroom Calling Capital Punishment Celebration Character Childbirth Children Children of God Chosen Christ Christian Life Christians Christmas Church Civil Disobedience Clay Cleansing Comfort Commands Communion Community Comparison Compassion Complacency Complaining Conception Condemnation Conduct Confidence Conflict Conformity Confrontation Confusion Connection Conscience Consequences Contentment Conviction Cornerstone Correction Cost Counsel Courage Covenant Coveting Creation Creator Crisis Cross Crowns Crucifixion Culture Curse Darkness David Day of the Lord Death Deceit Deception Decisions Defense Delegation Demon Demons Denial Dependency Design Desolation Destruction Devil Direction Disaster Discernment Disciple Disciples Discipleship Discipline Discontentment Discouragement Disease Disgrace Disputes Distraction Diversity Divine Division Doctrine Double Fulfillment Doubt Drought Drugs Duties Duty Earth Earthly Earthquakes Easter Edom Education Elders Elect Emmaus Emotions Employment Encouragement End Times Endurance Enemies Enemy Environment Environmentalism Equality Equipped Eternal Eternal Life Eternity Evangelism Everlasting Life Evil Evolution Exaltation Exalted Exclusion Excuses Exorcism Expectations Eyes Failure Fairness Faith Faithful Faithful Servant Faithfulness False Christs False Doctrine False Gods False Prophet False Religion False Religions Family Famine Fasting Father Fathers Favoritism Fear Fear of the Lord Feasts Feasts of the Lord Fellowship Fig Tree Finances Fire First Coming First Resurrection Firstborn Flesh Flock Folly Foolishness Foreigner Foreknown Forgiveness Fornication Forsaken Foundation Freedom Friends Friendship Fruit Fruit of the Spirit Fruitfulness Future Gentiles Gentle George Wood Giving Glorified Body Glory God God’s Word Godliness Godly God's Will Good Good Shepherd Good Works Gospel Gospels Government Grace Gratitude Great Commission Greatness Grief Growth Guilt Hades Hardship Harvest Hate Hatred Healing Heart Heaven Heavenly Hedonism Hell Help Herod Hidden Holiness Holy Holy Spirit Home Homosexuality Honor Hope Hopelessness Humility Husband Hypocrisy Idolatry Ignorance Image Immanuel Immigration Impossibility Incarnation Individuals Indulgences Inheritance Injustice Inner Battle Instructions Insults Integrity Intercession Intermediate State Israel Jerusalem Jesus Jewish Temple John the Baptist Joy Judas Judgment Judgment Day Judgments Justice Justification Justify Key Keys Kids Kindness King Kingdom Kingdom of God Kingdom of Heaven Knowledge Lake of Fire Lamp Law Lawlessness Leader Leaders Leadership Leftism Legalism Leprosy Lies Life Life-Span Light Like-minded Lord Lost Love Loyalty Lust Lusts Luxury Malachi Manipulation Marriage Martyrdom Martyrs Mary Master Materialism Maturity Meditation Men Mentoring Mercy Messiah Metaphor Millennium Mind Mind of Christ Minister Ministry Miracle Miracles Mission Mocking Money Mothers Mystery Nations Natural Gifts Naturalism Nature Near-Far Fulfillment Necessities New Covenant New Earth New Jerusalem New Man New Testament Obedience Obstacles Obstructions Offense Old Man Old Nature Old Testament Omnipresence Omniscience One Mind Outcast Pagan Pain Palm Sunday Parable Parables Paradise Paranormal Parenting Passion Passover Patience Patriotism Peace Peer Pressure Pentecost People of God Perception Perfect Persecution Perseverance Persistence Personal Testimonies Perspective Perversion Pestilence Peter Pharisees Philosophy Piety Pilate Politics Poor Position Possession Possessions Posture Power Praise Prayer Preaching Preparation Pride Priority Privilege Prodigal Promise Proof Prophecy Prophet Prophets Protection Protestant Reformation Proverbs Providence Provision Punishment Purgatory Purpose Questions Racism Rapture Reason Rebellion Rebuke Reconciliation Redeemer Redemption Refuge Regeneration Rejection Rejoicing Relationship Relationships Reliability Religion Remember Remnant Renewal Repentance Reputation Resolve Rest Restoration Resurrection Revelation Revenge Revival Reward Rich Riches Righteous Righteousness Rights Riot Risk Rivalry Robbery Roman Catholic Church Rule Sabbath Sacred Sacrifice Saint Salvation Sanctification Sarcasm Satan Savior Schemes Science Scripture Seasons Second Coming Secret Seed Seek Self Self Control Self-centered Self-Control Selfish Ambition Self-Righteous Servant Servant-Leadership Serve Service Serving Sexual Immorality Sexual Sin Sexuality Shame Share Sharing She’ol Shepherd Sickness Signs Signs and Wonders Simplicity Sin Sincerity Singing Singleness Sinners Slavery Sober Society Sojourner Sojourners Son Son of God Son of Man Sons of God Sorrow Soul Source Sovereignty Speech Spirit Spirit Realm Spirits Spiritual Spiritual Battle Spiritual Birth Spiritual Death Spiritual Gifts Spiritual Growth Spiritual Rulers Spiritual Warfare Stewardship Strength Stress Strife Stumbling Block Submission Suffering Supernatural Supper Surrender Syncretism Tags: Patience Taxes Teacher Teaching Tears Technology Temple Temptation Temptations Terminal Illness Test Testimony Testing Tests Thankfulness Thanksgiving The Curse The Day of The Lord The End The Fall The Grave The Holy Spirit The Law The Way The Word The World Theology Throne Time of Visitation Times of the Gentiles Tithing Tongues Tradition Tragedy Transfiguration Transformation Traps Treachery Treasure Tree Tree of Life Trial Trials Tribulation Trifles Trinity Triumphal Triumphal Entry Trouble Trust Truth Unbelievers Uncertainty Unity Unpardonable Sin Utopia Value Victory Vigilance Vindication Virtue Virtues Voice of God Volunteer War Warning Warnings Wars Watching Water Baptism Water of Life Weary Wicked Wickedness Widows Wife Wineskins Wisdom Witness Witnesses Women Word of God Word of the Lord Works World World View Worry Worship Worth Wrath Yahweh Yeast YHWH Yoke Zion

Weekly Word

Entries in Rebellion (6)

Tuesday
Dec042018

What is the Object of Your Faith?

Numbers 14.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on December 02, 2018.

We are continuing to talk about the importance of faith in our lives this morning.  It is impossible to belong to God or to walk with Him each day without it.

Today we are going to focus on the mechanics of faith.  There are two aspects to faith that are often confused in the thinking of people.  First, there is the thing for which we trust or hope.  We will call this the subject of our faith.  Second, there is the thing in which or upon which we trust.  We will call this the object of our faith. 

The subject of our faith is in the future in some way.  It may only be throughout the rest of today as I have faith that God will help me today etc., but it can be something that is tomorrow, or farther in the future.  There are many things that are the subject of our faith.  Although the subjects of our faith are important, the object of our faith is even more critical. 

The object of our faith is presently with us in some way.  The object also has a past that we have become aware of to some degree.  The Christian is a person who has come to trust in Jesus Christ as the object of their faith.  The subjects of such a faith should come out of the object upon which we trust.  Because I am trusting Jesus, there are certain things for which I have faith.  One of those is to trust that He will be with us and never forsake us throughout each and every tick of the clock into our future.  Some of the subjects for which we have faith are in the future.  There is nothing of them here in the present.  Thus we trust God that though we die, yet shall we live at the Resurrection of the Righteous.

When you think about a person who first puts their faith in Jesus, you will see that they generally did not really know Christ before that event.  However, they hear the testimony of those who have had a relationship with Christ in the past and in the present.  They believe because the testimonies help to convince them.  Yet, there is also a spiritual component where the Holy Spirit is drawing people to Christ.

The most important thing you can do in the area of faith is to quit worrying about the subjects for which you trust, and focus on the object in which you trust.  If that object is not really Christ then it will not be able to hold up all that you expect from it.  If that object is Christ then you will learn that your expectations and desires are less important than your relationship with Him.  He should be the object of our faith and anything beyond spending eternity with Him really doesn’t matter.

The strength of our faith can be weak.

In Numbers 14:1-10, the people of Israel had been delivered from slavery in Egypt through amazing miracles.  There were the 10 plagues that God brought upon Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea to help Israel escape, the collapse of the Red Sea to destroy Pharaoh’s army, and the supernatural provision of water, bread and meat in the desert.  At this point they have reached the land that God had promised them.  They have followed Him through all that had transpired in the past, but now they balk at His command.  It is important to recognize that the land was everything God had promised them.  It was often described as “flowing with milk and honey.”  The testimony of the spies in Numbers 13 was that the land was very fruitful and indeed a clump of grapes was so large that two men carried them.

It is here that we see that our desire for a particular subject is not enough to keep our faith strong.  No matter how strongly I want something, the power of that desire will not sustain my faith very long.  It is easy to let the desirability of the subject also serve as the object of our faith.  Of course this is somewhat irrational and cannot last.  Just because something is extremely desirable does not mean there is any hope of attaining it.  That is to say, there is no correlation between the desirability of the subject and the likelihood of reaching it.

In fact, God was supposed to be the object of Israel’s hope for the Promised Land, which is the subject.  In this passage it is revealed that their faith was not really on God because He hadn’t changed.  He was the same God who had delivered them from Egypt and the desert.  So what was the object of their faith?

No matter how badly they wanted the Promised Land and no matter how wonderful it was, the circumstances that surrounded them looked bad.  The true object of their faith was circumstances.  If they could see how something could happen then they would “believe.”  Of course, by definition this is actually a lack of faith.  At each miraculous point in their past, they typically failed to believe that God would help them and grumbled and complained.  Yet, God blessed them anyways with liberation, protection, and provision.  They only reason they made it this far with God was because He was being merciful with them.  In truth they had exercised precious little faith in Him.  There is a certain amount of power and momentum in the desire that we have for something, but do not be deceived.  That power will not be enough to sustain you through what lies ahead.  Trying to live by the power of our desires and how favorable the circumstances are is a road that leads to spiritual destruction and more.

In truth the strength of faith depends upon our trust in God and Him alone.  All along the path from Egypt to Canaan, God had been showing Israel that He could be trusted and that He had the power to do all that He promised them.  At each step of the way, at each new circumstance, and each new fact that their minds recognized, they were being tested.  Do you trust Me now?  Have you ever thought that the difficulties you run into in life and the adverse circumstances that seem to get in your way are simply God asking you to trust Him again and again?  Do you trust Me now?  Weak faith has nothing to do with the subject, but it has everything to do with the object.  If you are having trouble trusting God it is not because He hasn’t proven Himself.  It is because you do not really trust Him in the first place.  You are trusting something else.

Our faith can be made weak by circumstances and interference.

In this passage we have on display a common event.  We appear to believe God for something and then circumstances change.  We then lose faith.  For Israel this is when they saw that the land was filled with giants.  Similar to Peter seeing the waves and beginning to fear, or us looking at the world around us and beginning to doubt, the Israelites saw that they would have to fight giants to take the land and they lost any faith they had.  When you have that, “Oh no!” moment in which some circumstance seems to be too much, and you say, “I can’t do this,” you are revealing that you were trusting in yourself and the circumstances more than you were trusting in God.  Yes, the land was everything that they were promised, but it is inhabited by giants.  That which appeared to be great conquering faith melted like wax over a flame, or butter on the stove.

In contrast to the 10 spies and most of Israel, we that Joshua and Caleb still believe in God regardless of the circumstances.  These guys are not stupid.  They see the same things that everyone else can see.  However, their faith is not in what they can see.  They know that the Creator of the universe is not intimidated by giant humans on earth.  If the circumstances make it likely that you will win, then it really isn’t faith to believe that you will win.  Think about it.  They don’t know how God will give them victory over the giants, but they know it must happen for God to keep His word to them.

In verse 9, Joshua and Caleb remind the people that the Lord is still with them.  God hasn’t left us, and He is the one who led us to this place today.  So, why not trust Him?  In fact, Joshua and Caleb declare that not having faith in God is itself a rebellion against Him that is instigated by fear of people.  Do you believe that God is present in your life?  Has He led you to this place, and does He have a plan to take you through whatever you face?  This is what He is asking you to do.  Trust Him.  Now let’s look at the rest of this story.

We need trust in God more than we need the things it can get us.

In Numbers 14:34-45 we see that God disciplines Israel.  He is not going back on His word.  However, He tells Moses that they will have to go back into the desert for 40 years and then He will bring them back again to the Promised Land.  Of course, the people of Israel did not like that response and so they decide that they would rather die fighting giants than go back into the desert.  Thus they double-down on their rebellion against God.  They refuse to fight when He tells them to do so, and then when He says to leave, they try to fight.

In biblical terminology the Promised Land had become an idol in their heart.  Instead of God being seated on the throne of their heart, they had put the subject of their faith on the throne of their heart.  This is a human tendency.  We tend to put the ability of man and favorable circumstances as a kind of ruler that dictates to us whether to do something or not, and to believe for something or not.  This is rebellion against God and it is idolatry.

God in His love disciplines us so that we will see that we do not fully trust Him.  Even God’s discipline will lead to good things if we trust Him.  Yes, that generation would not live in the Promised Land.  However, they could infuse in their children the lesson that they had learned, so that the next generation would not repeat this error.  When God disciplines you, don’t double-down on rebellion.  Rather, embrace it and learn the lessons that He has for you to learn.  It is more important to have God than all the food of Egypt, or all the comforts of the Promised Land.  If we don’t have faith in Him then we really have nothing at all.

God will not bless our idolatry, or our rebellion against Him.  We can’t force it or make it happen.  When Israel went to battle against the giants in rebellion to God’s discipline, they ended up being defeated.  God refused to help them.  Many Christians today do not realize that they have put the subjects of their faith on the throne of their heart.  They follow a theology that tries to force God to give us what we want.  If I only do this enough or that enough then He must do what I pray.  Yet, such things are folly.  God told the Apostle Paul, “No” when he asked God to heal a physical problem that he had.  Why?  Surely God doesn’t want us sick, but rather healthy, wealthy, and wise.  God said, “No” because He knew what was best for Paul.  The thorn in Paul’s flesh would serve to keep him humble.  Besides, God’s grace is enough for us.  I don’t have to have the things I want.  Having God and being in relationship with Him in this life is enough for me and for you.

Final Thoughts

In 1 Samuel 17 we have the story of David and Goliath.  At this point in time, we have a new generation that had to learn to conquer giants themselves.  No matter how many giants that Joshua and their ancestors had taken out, none of it could replace David’s generation stepping up to the plate.  Yet, they did have an example in front of them that could help them believe.  Take time to hear the examples of the Bible and those elderly believers who talk to us today.  You need to learn to trust God for yourself and discover by faith those things that He has for you.

Have you ever thought that perhaps God likes impossible odds?  Why do we balk at this?  It makes sense that an all-powerful being would enjoy helping us through impossible situations.  Perhaps the more impossible it looks the more likely it is God who is bringing us to it.

We look to many things in this world to be the answer:  money, people, equipment, technology, skills, knowledge, etc.  However, our answer is not in those things.  Our answer is in putting complete faith in God.  Yes, we have those things, but it is God who blesses them and provides what they cannot.  So, why would I put my trust in them?  With God you can be in a desert and be filled with food, but without Him you can sit in the midst of abundance and be empty.

Lastly, faith is not about obtaining things, but rather about remaining in a place of absolute trust in the Lord Jesus.  Is your faith completely in Jesus?  If so, then you will not be derailed when the things you want seem impossible, or God tells you, “No.”

Object of Your Faith Audio

Tuesday
Oct022018

Your Personal End Times: After the Resurrection

Revelation 20:1-10.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on September 30, 2018.

Last week we established that at Christ’s Second Coming believers will either be resurrected, or they will simply return with Him having been resurrected earlier (pre-trib, mid-trib, or pre-wrath).  For many reasons I lean towards the view that sees the resurrection happening prior to the tribulation.  However, it has been humorously pointed out by others that perhaps the best view is those who are “pan-trib,” that is who believe that it will all pan out in the end.  Our salvation has nothing to do with our ability to completely understand the timing of these events, and therefore, we should be very careful to avoid being overly dogmatic about our opinions in this matter.

Today we will pick up after the point that Christ has had the Beast and the False Prophet thrown into the Lake of Fire.  Also the kings of the earth and their armies have been destroyed by Christ and His armies.  Remember, they had been gathered together to try and thwart the coming of Christ.  We will continue to follow the Apostle John’s narrative in chapter 20 of the book of The Revelation.

However, before we do, let me say a word concerning how we interpret Revelation.  Even though Revelation has symbolism in it, I still believe it is intended to have a literal meaning.  What I mean by this is that we should take its words at face value.  If they point to symbolism then we take it symbolically, and if they don’t then we don’t.   Of course it is easy to want to take everything as symbolism.  I think Dr. Ron Rhodes of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries says it best.  He was a regular on the Christian Research Institute’s “Bible Answer Man” program while Dr. Walter Martin ran it.  He says, “My policy is that when the plain sense makes good sense, seek no other sense, lest you end up in nonsense.”  If we make everything a symbol (even allegory) and nothing is taken at face value, then there is no end to the imaginary interpretations that we can come up with and torture the text to agree with them.  Thus we look for clues and direction from the text whether something is symbolic or literal.

Satan is bound in the bottomless pit

As chapter 20 opens we find the familiar Satan being chained in the bottomless pit.  Some try to interpret this as something that happened in the past and that the events of chapter 20 only describe the Church Age.  However, it stretches the imagination to believe that the Second Coming of Jesus and the jailing of Satan is only a symbol for something that happened in the first century.  It has been stated that if Satan has been in prison over the last 2,000 years then “His chain is too long.”  Yet, this view does not make sense in light of Scripture.  Believers are cautioned against an unchained enemy.  1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Thus Revelation 20 gives us the assurance that once Jesus physically returns to earth, Satan will be imprisoned in what John calls the Bottomless Pit.  This is most likely synonymous with Tartarus of Peter’s letter (2 Peter 2:4-6).  Though we have not studied through Revelation in this series, Revelation 9 and 11 both state that the Beast rises up out of the Bottomless Pit.  Now whether that means the Beast is a manifesting, fallen angel, or that a spirit that comes out of the Bottomless Pit will inhabit a willing human, it seems to be the place in which God imprisons spirit beings.  It is also interesting to note the irony that Satan tried to hold Christ prisoner in the grave.  Now the tables are turned.

In Revelation 12:9 and here in verse 2 several things are tied together.  The serpent of old is a reference to the Garden of Eden.  It wasn’t just a snake that tricked Eve.  It really was an inter-dimensional being from among the Sons of God who was speaking to her that day.  Satan is also called the dragon, which connects with serpent and dragon passages of the prophetic books in the Old Testament.  The serpent-dragon-sea creature is an image of evil that goes back to the beginning of mankind and points to this being, Satan or the devil.

We are told that the purpose of this imprisonment is so that he will no lo longer be able to deceive the nations while Christ is physically ruling over the nations of the earth.  Scripture does indict mankind for its rebellion and sin.  However, it also points out that man’s sin has been made worse through the spiritual interference of Satan and his angels.  We really are being played and spurred on by supernatural forces.  This is seen in the Garden of Eden where Satan himself tempts Eve to rebel against God.  In Genesis 6 we again see the spiritual interference as the Sons of God (a class of spirit beings) come down to mankind and lead them in wickedness.  After the flood we are once again confronted with spiritual interference as God judges the Tower of Babel project and rejects the nations.  Deuteronomy 32:8 and Psalm 82, make it clear that the spiritual powers who were supposed to help mankind, forsook their proper duty and encouraged mankind in wickedness.  The New Testament often refers to the powers of the air and the prince of this world as spiritual forces.  What a groan of relief will come from the collective mouth of mankind as Satan and his spiritual forces are removed from the earth.  It is hard to conceive of what that will be like since it is all we have ever known.

Next we are told that he is bound for 1,000 years and then he will be released for a little while.  We will come back to that later.  Now in the Old Testament many passages speak of the Messiah’s reign over all the earth and how it will be a time of peace.  Passages like Zechariah 14, Isaiah 11, and Isaiah 65 are just a few.  However, none of them give a length for it.  In fact, we could say that even in Revelation it doesn’t end after 1,000 years.  Rather, it goes into a new stage.  It is here that it is twice stated that there will be a period of 1,000 years in which Satan is bound and Christ rules.  This is where we get the term “Millennium” for the time of Christ’s earthly rule.  It means one thousand years.  Some try to make this a symbolic number by saying that it only means a long period of time.  But 1,000 years makes complete sense and there is nothing in the text that requires us to make it symbolic.  Most nations or empires last hundreds of years.  Thus the Messiah’s rule lasting a thousand is most likely literal and points to his wisdom and power.  It is even more insulting to the intelligence of the average person to say that we are in this period right now.  We are not in the Millennium and the earthly rule of Christ has not yet begun, regardless of those who say it is symbolically occurring right now.

Jesus reigns with his saints in the millennium

Starting in verse 4 we turn away from Satan and towards the governance.  It is interesting that we are not given much description of life during the 1,000 years.  We are only told about its setting up and its ending.  However, the Old Testament passages that point to Messiah’s reign do give us a flavor of what it will be like.

We are told that thrones are set up and “they sat upon them.”  The “they” does not have a clear antecedent, but I believe it points back to Christ and His holy ones, or saints.  We are told that we will be in charge of judging angels in 1 Corinthians 6:3.  Thus the beginning of this period will no doubt include the judgment of those angels who have worked with Satan to abuse mankind, and also would include the judgments of Matthew 25 where the nations are judged and separated into the sheep and the goats.

Verse 4 also directly references that the souls of those beheaded during the Beast’s horrible, but short, reign will live and reign with Christ.  Some people think that this must be when the resurrection happens.  However, it doesn’t actually say it happens at that time.  And, even if it does, it doesn’t preclude an earlier resurrection.  I think the point is the same as that in 1 Thessalonians 4.  It is easy to fear that those who are killed or die before Christ’s coming will somehow miss out.  Here our minds are set at ease that even those who were dying in those last years will be able to reign in the millennium.

In verse 5 we are told that this is the First Resurrection.  Now this must mean something more than just first in sequence because Jesus was the first to be resurrected and this happened many years before the events of Revelation 20 (John clearly knew this).  In Matthew 27:52-53 we are also told that some of the Old Testament saints were resurrected at the same time as Jesus and even went into the city and “appeared to many.”  In Revelation 11, we also have the resurrection of the two witnesses who even ascend into heaven.  We have also talked about the clear possibility that there is a wholesale gathering together of believers in immortal form in heaven.  Thus in relation to Revelation 20, this is the first resurrection (Note: that the second resurrection is in verses 12-13 and involves the wicked dead being brought before God for judgment).  However, in relation to the previous resurrection it is of the same kind.  Jesus is the first fruits of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).  The First Resurrection is the Resurrection of the righteous and there is an order and timing to it that involves at least two events (the firstfruits and the gathering) and perhaps more.  The First Resurrection is a class of resurrection in which those who belong to Christ are raised up in the order that God has decreed.

Some seem to get the idea that only saints who are killed in the tribulation get to participate in the millennium, but this is not what John is trying to say.  Rather, he is emphasizing that they will not miss out.  They too will be resurrected and participate in this millennial kingdom.  As it says, the saints will be priests who reign with Christ throughout this 1,000 years.

The final rebellion occurs

Verse 7 begins another transition in the text.  We now jump to the end of the 1,000 years and Satan is released from his prison in the Bottomless Pit.  Of course, as if on cue, he immediately begins to deceive the nations.  I would assume some time elapses here.  However, it seems that he is able to gather an army that surrounds the capital city of Jesus and the saints.  This is presumably Jerusalem, though it is not named in the passage.  There is not much fan fare.  Rather, John describes a fire coming down from God out of heaven to destroy the army (verse 9)  Because verse 11 has the earth and the heavens fleeing away from the presence of God and the emergence of a New Heaven and a New earth, some connect this fire from God with 2 Peter 3.  This seems to be a cosmic melt down in which the elements completely dissolve.  This creation is doomed to be consumed by a fiery conflagration.  Of course such a fire is not a problem for those who are immortal. 

Lastly in verse 10 we are told that the devil is thrown into the Lake of Fire where he is to be tormented night and day forever.  Finally the arch-deceiver will come to an end as God separates him from all of creation and especially the creation which is to follow this event.

As we bring our time today to a close, it is good to ask ourselves why God would allow Satan another shot.  Why not throw him in the Lake of Fire to begin with?  There seems to be a point that God is making with the millennium and the final rebellion.  Even when God steps in forcefully, removes evil, and enforces good, many people will still choose evil.  Man is not basically good, and neither is his evil only from his environment.  No we are capable of choosing evil even when we have enjoyed the good life and perfect peace.  So check your heart today.  Where are you spiritually?  Don’t let the devil and his lies deceive you into thinking that God is something to be cast aside or attacked.  In the end God’s plan will happen.  The only question is where you will fit in that equation.  Choose life!

After the Resurrection Audio

Tuesday
Jul192016

The Coming Day of the Lord 4

Isaiah 24:21-23.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty on July 17, 2016.

As we finish this look at the Day that God has appointed in which all the nations of the world will be judged, we will see that this leads to a time of blessing for those who are left.  It is typical for unbelievers to scorn the Bible’s warning of judgment.  Yet, at the same time they will complain that if there really was an all-powerful and good God why hasn’t He dealt with all the bad stuff in the world.  When you put these two complaints together you recognize that there is no way God can “win” with such a person.  On one hand we want Him to deal with sin and evil (i.e. bring justice) and yet on the other hand we don’t want Him to judge.  God must deal with evil because He is the creator and He is good.  However, the answer that God gives in the Bible is this.  If He brought judgment to all that was evil we would all be guilty.  He does not want us to receive judgment.  So He has provided a way for us to have grace.  Jesus took God’s judgment of our sin upon Himself so that we could be pardoned.  God has given two millennia of goodness and mercy, pleading with the nations to turn from judgment and into the grace of Jesus.  Thus His judgment is not a barbaric thing, but rather, something that has been a long time coming.

In the death of Jesus we see the love and character of God.  In the resurrection of Jesus we see the reality and power of God.  In the Church we see the faithfulness of God to send ambassadors of this Truth throughout every generation.  God will not be found wanting in any kind of trial that men may wish to convene.  Lay down your complaints and find the truth of God’s love for you in His Word.

The Lord Will Reign On Mt. Zion

Starting in verse 21 we see the completion of God’s judgment upon the rebels and the subsequent rule that He will have upon Mt. Zion.  Now Mt. Zion is a reference to a physical place on earth in the city of Jerusalem.  It is the old city of David that also contains the area of the temple.  Mt. Zion was the physical place of God’s rule over Israel.  However, in the prophets we find that Mt. Zion often comes to represent the spiritual throne of God in the heavens.  Thus the earthly object is a symbol that points to a greater heavenly reality.  Thus believers in Hebrews 12:22 are told, “But you have come to Mt. Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”  We also see this in the book of Revelation.  There it is revealed that there will be a day when these heavenly realities (the throne of God, New Jerusalem, Mt. Zion, etc.) will come down to earth and no longer be merely a spiritual concept.

Before this happens though, the Lord’s wrath will punish the rebels.  They have refused His attempts to draw them into grace and now the day of punishment is here.  If He does not judge, He appears to approve of the damage they have done among themselves and to the faithful believers.  Thus verse 21 points out two classes of those being punished.  The first is the “Host of Exalted Ones.”  This phrase is a reference to the spiritual beings (typically called fallen angels) that had been in charge of the nations after the Tower of Babel, and yet had rebelled.  They led the nations into worshipping them as gods and throwing off the Truth of God.  The judgment of these spiritual beings is further revealed in the book of Revelation.  They will be forced out of the heavens and onto the earth where they will be punished by either being put in the Lake of Fire or into the Bottomless Pit.  The second class that is mentioned is the kings of the earth.  The leaders of mankind have been following the lead of these wicked, spiritual beings.  They will be judged as well, along with their armies as we see in Revelation 19. 

We are then told that they will be imprisoned.  Since we are dealing with  natural and supernatural beings the imprisonment brings up several questions that are answered by Revelation 19/20.  In the Old Testament the pit is often a reference to the grave, or the place where the spirits of men go to await judgment.  It is the place of the dead.  Thus the kings of the earth and their armies are going to die and go into the grave.  Yet, we see Satan, the ultimate fallen angel, imprisoned in the Bottomless Pit.  Since angels cannot physically die and thus go into the grave, God has designed a place called the Bottomless Pit where they can be restrained from interacting with the material world.  Read Revelation 19:17-20:3 for more information.

Isaiah then says after many days they will be punished.  Of course Revelation reveals that there will be a 1,000 years of peace on earth under the reign of Christ and His saints.  At the end of this however, Satan will be released from the pit and cause another great rebellion.  When this rebellion is destroyed by God, the heavens and the earth are melted down and all spirits are brought before the Great, White Throne.  There all receive their judgment.  The wicked are put in the Lake of Fire, which is referred to as the second death.  Think of it this way.  At the first death our spirits are separated from our bodies and thus can no longer interact with the physical world.  We can still interact with the spiritual world, however.  At the second death the spirit is separated from all of creation physical and spiritual.  There will be no coming back.  God creates a new heavens and a new earth that they will never be able to see or influence again.

In verse 23, Isaiah switches from the devastation and punishment to look at the result.  The Lord will dwell with His people.  The sun and the moon will be ashamed in His presence.  This is a personification that is intended to show how gloriously Jesus will be at His second coming.  It can also include a slam against those fallen angels (false gods) who had been associated with the sun and the moon (Apollo, Helios, etc.).  No matter how great they tried to magnify themselves, they will be ashamed when the true God of the earth arrives.  The key here is that the long awaited Anointed King that God was to send would arrive and in fact would actually be the Lord Himself.  This same theme is mentioned in Revelation: God will dwell with His people.

Notice the descriptions.  First He will reign.  He is not just a king, but the King of kings.  Yes, currently Jesus reigns over believers of the earth spiritually.  But in the millennium his reign will become a physical reality over the whole earth.  This kingship will lead us into the new heavens and the new earth, or Creation 2.0, if you will.

Then He will reign upon Mt. Zion within Jerusalem.  The millennium involves a spiritual reality taking its place upon the physical earth.  Thus Jesus will reign from Jerusalem over the earth.  However, in the new heavens and new earth, we see a new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven that will cause the earthly “old” Jerusalem pale in comparison.  Thus the physical places in the middle east today are only a shadow of the greater physical and spiritual realities that will be in the New Creation.

He will be before His elders.  The people of Israel would have seen this as the rulers of national Israel.  However, in Revelation we see that it is something more than this.  There are 24 elders that surround the throne of God.  Most scholars point out that the word “elders” is only used of humans.  Since their origin is not explained we are left with conjecture.  The number (2X12) has led most to believe that they are representatives of National Israel and the Church (12 from each).  In fact Jesus promised His disciples that they would sit on thrones with Him.  Thus the elders represent the righteous of all the nations who have finally been united into one body before the Lord.

Lastly, we are told that he will reign in glory.  This has two facets to it.  Jesus will no longer be cloaked in mere human flesh.  Rather, as the disciples saw on the Mt. of Transfiguration, and as John saw at the beginning of Revelation, Jesus will shine in a brilliance that is majestic and glorious.  Thus He reigns in a glory that emanates from Him.  Yet, we will also glorify Him.  Our natural response will be to bring honor and glory to Him in all that we do, which will no longer be tainted by our sin nature.  Yes we will worship Him in song and praise.  But we will also worship Him in the projects that we perform and do.

Let me close by recognizing that heavy things lie ahead for this world.  When and exactly how it will all play out, you cannot completely know.  However, you can know that you are ready for it.  Put your trust in Jesus today.  Cling to His words to you in the Bible with all your heart, and shine the light of the Gospel of Jesus to everyone that you meet.  Maranatha!

Day of Lord 4 Audio

Tuesday
Jul122016

The Coming Day of the Lord 3

Isaiah 24:17-21.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on July 10, 2016.

Today we continue in Isaiah 24 looking at the revelation that there will be a day of judgment for all the nations of the earth.  The chapters that follow will be a series of praises and songs to God for His promise of judgment.

As we look at the judgments of God that are described in this chapter, it is important to recognize that God is sovereign over the affairs of mankind and we are headed to a point in time in which we will be held accountable to Him.  No matter how much modern, secular society kicks against this reality, these things are going to come to pass.  The real question is this, “Are you prepared for them?”  Whether we live to see these things or not, believers will live their life in a way that is connected to the reality of the coming Judgment, rather than living in a way that is connected to delusion and fantasy.  Let’s look at our verses today.

The Day of Judgment is Unavoidable

Starting in verse 17 the prophet drives home the point that these things cannot be escaped.  Those who try to escape will caught up in it, one way or another.  There is an idea that has become more and more popular, whether in secular movies or in Christian teaching.  The idea is that if Christians do a good enough job the apocalypse, day of judgment, can be avoided.  They see these passages more as a warning of something that we can avoid if we listen.  The problem is that an honest reading of the Scriptures makes it impossible to hold such a view.  Yes, believers must strive to do a good job by the power of the Holy Spirit.  But judgment day will come because Scripture reveals that most of mankind will refuse to repent, even in the face of judgment.

Isaiah addresses the “inhabitants of the earth.”  We dealt with this in part one of this series.  This phrase is addressing those whose sole frame of reference is the earth.  They live without fear or concern towards God and heavenly matters.  They even persecute the people of God and unwittingly cooperate with the spiritual powers of wickedness.  They are in contrast to those whose minds are fixed on the things of God.  Though they technically inhabit the earth, they are heavenly minded and stand to inherit the New Heavens and the New Earth.  Isaiah points out 3 things that these “earth dwellers” are facing: Fear, The Pit, and The Snare.

The fear refers to some calamity that will give them cause for fright.  It is the thing that causes them to want to run.  Thus as the judgments of God begin to come upon mankind fear will take hold of their hearts.  However, when they run from their fear, they will do so only to fall into a pit.  Likewise, those who are able to climb out of the pit will only find themselves caught in a snare.  In the last days there will be no escape.  It is interesting that even our life today resembles a series of traps and snares that God uses to try and pin down our flesh.  The believer is someone who has been trapped by their own sins and yet has turned to God for grace.  The earth dweller will not turn to God.  Instead they devise their own answers.  This world is running scared away from the idea that it might be held accountable to a Creator.  Yet, this fear is only going to cause us to fall into worse things until eventually the judgments of God are finalized.  Thus Jesus referred to the end times as a snare in Luke 21:35f.  Only those who fear God enough to repent and serve Him will avoid this snare.  This imagery can also be helped by remembering Adam and Eve.  Their sin put them in a condition of fearing the judgment of God.  Thus they ran from God and tried to cover themselves with fig leaves.   This is a picture of mankind.  We run from the reality of God into a self-delusion that we can cover our sins by the things of this world.  Yet, God has stated that the things of this world are destined to wither and cannot cover mankind.  Only repentance and turning towards the very thing we fear can save us.  Run towards God and there you will find grace.

At the end of verse 18 we see that the judgments of God will come from above and below.  The phrase, “windows from on high” is an allusion back to the story of the flood in Genesis 7:11.  There the “windows of heaven” were opened and the rains of judgment fell upon the earth.  At the same time the “springs of the great deep burst open,” while water from beneath rose up in judgment.  Isaiah points back to this template of God’s judgment from above and beneath.  The judgment of the nations that is still ahead of us will not involve rain and floods.  In the book of Revelation we are given further understanding.  On the natural plane we see objects from space striking the earth and causing global catastrophe.  We also see the earth itself splitting and reeling from a global earthquake that is unthinkable.  This represents the judgment of God from above and from below.  Yet, Revelation also reveals a spiritual plane of God’s judgment.  We see Satan and his angels being forced out of the heavens onto the earth.  This is good news for the heavens, but bad news for the earth.  Satan will be angry and we should not deceive ourselves with thoughts that he has any good feelings for mankind.  Similarly we are also told of the bottomless pit that will be opened up.  This pit is a prison house for angels that broke God’s commands in the past.  It is pictured as beneath the earth.  When it is opened spiritual forces are released upon the earth and bring great torment upon the people.  Again we have spiritual judgments from above and from beneath.  The judgment of rebellious mankind is unavoidable.  God is hemming him in on every side and there will be no escape.

This fate of the earth dwellers is paralleled with the fate of the earth.  It too has 3 things that are facing it:  to be broken, split, and shaken.  The brokenness of the earth is a reference to the devastation and ruin that will come upon the structures of man and even the topology of the earth itself.  Everything will lie broken.  The earth will also be split by the greatest earthquake the earth has ever seen.  Revelation tells us that the mountains will be flattened and the islands will “flee away.”  Clearly all of these words are tied together.  The third word is “shaken.”  The world will undergo a powerful shaking in the natural.  Yet, there is a spiritual side to this as well.  In Hebrews 12:26 the writer reminds us of a prophecy in Haggai.  “‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  For our God is a consuming fire.”  The fate of the earth is to be broken, split and shaken.  But God gives to those who will turn from their rebellion towards Him, that which is unshakeable and unbreakable.  We are those who will not be destroyed by judgment, but shall come through to the other side.  Let us not smugly rejoice in our good fortunes, but rather plead with a world that keeps running from God.  Turn from your way and turn back to God.  This is the only way that the unavoidable judgment can be avoided- Jesus.

Isaiah then gives two metaphors to discourage putting your hope in anything of this earth.  The first is the picture of a drunk who stumbles to and fro.  He can’t even walk much less protect someone.  It is also possible that the wobbling of the earth from the natural disasters that are happening will resemble a drunk man from a heavenly perspective.  You won’t be able to build a bunker deep enough or get on a mountain high enough.  The earth will not be able to protect anyone from the wrath of God.  The second image is that of a hut in the middle of a strong storm.  Jesus once told a story about building upon the rock rather than the sand.  In that story the emphasis was foundation.  But the image of Isaiah points to the building materials themselves.  Thus the story of the 3 pigs is more appropriate.  When the hurricane-force winds of the judgment of God come upon the nations, the earth will be like a hut made out of sticks and straw.  It will be blown down and destroyed.  It will offer no protection.  No technology will be able to save man from the things God has decreed.

All of this time we have been talking about what God will do.  However the phrase “its transgression will be heavy upon it,” points to the sins of mankind.  We should recognize that whenever God judges us part of the judgment is directly caused by Him, but part is indirectly.  What I mean is that our sins actually have consequences that can affect the earth.  Of course God is the one who made creation the way it is.  Thus He has “hard-wired” the effects of sin into it.  This is why I used the word “indirectly.”  He has warned us.  But we keep running down the paths of sins bringing the ultimate judgment down upon our own heads.

We will stop there for today.  If you are not a believer in Jesus, I would challenge you to listen to these words.  The Creator has appointed a day in which all of mankind that has rejected His words and commands will be brought into judgment.  You will not survive that day.  Yet, when he died on the cross, Jesus was paying the price for your sins.  If you put your trust in Him, God can set you free from judgment and protect you from it.  All of this is possible because of Jesus.  Don’t run from God.  Rather, flee into the arms of the only One who can protect you from what is coming upon the earth and those who inhabit it.

Coming Lord 3 audio