Whatever Happened to John 3:16?

Quite literally, every day we learn of another example of man’s inhumanity to man. News organizations, both traditional and Internet-based, daily report on the atrocities and unspeakable evil which permeates, affects, touches, or in some way influences the lives of nearly every person on planet Earth. We are being constantly made aware of new and terrible diseases, or the resurgence or mutations of age-old maladies which are increasingly affecting numbers of peoples all over the world. And, weather events and natural disasters continue to increase in severity and frequency.

However, those of us who consider ourselves to be a part of the True Church, the Body of Christ, point to prophetic Scripture and declare that the Bible says these things are to be so as we approach the end of days. We of course do so by sharing these things from our pulpits, or in our weekly Bible studies, or through books we write, or (more and more frequently) through blogs posted on our own websites and those of others.

News organizations detail the latest atrocities committed by ISIS in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and the rest of the Middle East; Boko Haram in Africa, Russian separatists in Ukraine, the Iranian proxies (Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon), Al Qaeda in Yemen and Libya, the PLO in Israel, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Muslim extremists in Europe, and rising anti-Semitism worldwide. We hear about Chinese belligerence in the Far East, the nuclear aspirations of Iran, North Korea, and India, and increasingly, the failure of the United States to articulate any real understanding of, or implementation of, foreign policy.

In the US domestic news, we also read and see evidence of the growing influence of Islam, the continued proliferation of secular humanism in our institutions of learning, the insidious and intolerant assaults on Christianity and traditional family values by progressives (formerly known as liberals), and the militant minority LGBT community.

Lately, as I follow these news sources and then read the blog articles and comments of those in the Christian community, I have begun to see what I consider to be a disturbing trend. Many, though certainly not all, of these comments, articles, and posts focus on the condemnation of the individuals, groups, or countries committing these egregious acts without commenting on, or attributing, the ultimate reason for these evils to the very fact that we are living in a world which is ruled by the prince of the power of the air, and the rulers of darkness of this world, which is of course, Satan and his demons.

In fact, many in the Christian community have become so intentional in their desire to “expose” the hatred and evil inherent among those who are doing Satan’s bidding in these days, that they have forgotten not only the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) and Great Commission (Mark 16:15), but in fact, the words of John 3:16. Even while acknowledging that we are living in the Last Days, that the Rapture of the church is imminent, and that a time of great Tribulation is approaching mankind, which will culminate in Christ’s physical return to the earth in power and great glory, we are failing to do the work which we were first called to do; proclaim the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (NKJV)

Remember this verse? It is one of the best-known verses in the Bible. In fact, for most of us it is the very first verse we ever committed to memory. John 3:16 clearly and simply declares the Good News of the Gospel.

Let’s break this verse down a bit, “For God so loved the world” tells us that the creator of the universe loves His creation. However, the “world” here is not descriptive of the cosmos, or even the earth itself, but of all mankind. So the Scripture is saying that God loves all men, even those who scorn or reject His love. When I read “God so loved the world,” I can individualize that to say that He loves me. Yet, the same can be said by every other individual on the earth. This then means that the whole love of God is available to every single soul who has ever lived. Understanding that, the blessed truth here is this; no matter how far one distances himself from God, no matter how little one thinks of God, or no matter that one never even shows any love for God, it makes absolutely no difference to the very fact that God loves them.

Let’s continue, “that He gave His only begotten Son” is describing the fact that Jesus Christ became the sacrifice required by a Holy God to pay the sin debt of the entire world (read mankind). We must understand here that it was not Jesus’s death that turned God’s wrath and anger away from man, but rather it was God’s love for man which appointed Jesus Christ’s death. This then demonstrates that God loved men before He sent Christ to pay their sin debt. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2)

This brings us to the last part of the verse, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Now then, “whoever” means whoever. There is nothing complicated here, there is no mystery here, any and every man who believes that Jesus Christ paid his sin debt can have eternal life.

Believing in Christ means that we acknowledge that He alone could be the perfect sacrifice which a Holy God required. It is acknowledging Him as our Savior, and surrendering to Him authority in our lives as our Lord. It is the act of acknowledging His will as our own as we become His disciples.

God hates sin, and God certainly does not like the wicked state of the world in which we live. But God loves men, and Peter tells us that He is not willing that any should perish. (2 Peter 3:9)

So, the purpose of my article is this:

We who are disciples of Jesus Christ, who make up the Body of the True Church, which is the Bride of Christ, need to examine our attitudes as they relate to men and sin. When we stand in our pulpits, or sit before our computers we need to remember that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and that but for the grace of God, we ourselves could still be in need of redemption. We need to humble ourselves as did the Apostle Paul when he wrote; “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Jesus Christ came to save sinners, mankind; no matter what their nationality, no matter what their race, no matter what their religion, no matter what their sexual orientation, no matter what political office they may hold, no matter whether they are rich or poor, no matter what the circumstances of their life are, Jesus Christ paid their sin debt and we have the responsibility to share that Good News with them. No matter what the cost may be.

Reread the Book of Acts, up until his conversion on the road to Damascus in chapter 9, the church considered Paul (Saul of Tarsus) a terrorist. Yet, look at what Christ did with his life. Take a hard look at your life and examine what you might have become had it not been for Christ’s intervention and your salvation. Think about what Christ could do with the life of a world leader or even a would-be terrorist who found redemption in Him today.

Please understand this, I am not asking that we cease our efforts as “watchmen on the wall” or that we quit proclaiming the imminence of Christ’s return for His Church. I am not even suggesting we quit commenting on current events and their relationship to the end times.

What I am asking is that we refocus on that which is the most important task we have been given, to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Share it in every message you preach, every study you lead, and every article you write. Is it not truly what we have all been called to do? Is it not really the reason we have become watchmen?

Yes, Jesus is coming soon, and we need to share the Good News so that many more will be ready for His coming.

The Night Is Far Spent

It has been nearly 2000 years since the risen Christ (Messiah), Jesus of Nazareth, the very Son of God, ascended into heaven and was seated at God’s right hand. During His relatively short life on earth, the self-described Son of Man accomplished everything His heavenly Father had tasked Him to do. Most specifically, His death on Calvary paid the sin debt of all mankind (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23), both past and future. And His subsequent burial and resurrection proved Him victorious over sin and death enabling all who confess and believe on Him (Romans 10:9-13) to be saved from the penalty of that sin debt.

The ascension of Jesus Christ ushered in the Age of Grace or the Church Age, which began at Pentecost when the promised Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ descended on the disciples, indwelling them (Acts 2). During this Age of Grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ has been calling out (1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 3:1) from among Jews and Gentiles alike, His church; (Matthew 16:18), “thou art Peter [pétros; a small stone = Peter] and upon this rock [pétra; a mass of rock = Jesus Christ] I will build My [Jesus Christ] church.”

Jesus is the Rock the church is built on, not Peter, which is also the Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:15-23; Colossians 1:13-18) redeemed to serve Him (Titus 2:14). This Age of Grace will culminate when Jesus Christ raptures His church (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17) to join Him before the throne of God in preparation for His eternal reign.

During this nearly 2000 years the church of Jesus Christ has grown despite the ever-present darkness and attacks from Satan and his demonic forces (Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12; 1 Peter 5:8). But unfortunately, right alongside the true church of Jesus Christ we have witnessed the growth of a false church (2 Peter 2:1-2), a counterfeit church which has a form of godliness, religious in nature, yet its false prophets and false teachers lack the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit. They are actually doing the work of Satan (Matthew 24:11) by giving those in their congregations a false representation of salvation leaving many to believe they are “Christians” who actually have no relationship with the risen Christ.

Today, we as the true church need to heed the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 13:11-14:

“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

Unfortunately complacency in the true church has in many cases caused it to become as ineffectual as the counterfeit church. Many followers of Christ have grown contented with their present life, and while they believe that Jesus will return someday, they are no more looking for His return than those in the false church. Paul is telling us to wake up and wake up we should. If the imminence of Christ’s return was real to the church of Jesus Christ in Paul’s day, we need to understand that almost 2000 years later our salvation is in fact “nearer than when we first believed.” Throughout the entire Church Age the church of Jesus Christ has grown, yet too has the darkness of the demonic influence of the prince of the power of the air. Only the spiritually ignorant would in any way claim that the condition of the world is less sinful today than in the first century. In fact, man’s moral and spiritual depravity has grown exponentially between the time of the ascension of Jesus Christ and today.

However, a simple examination of the growing fulfillment of biblical end-times prophecies and the birth pangs described by our Lord in Matthew 24, should cause the follower of Jesus Christ to see, that indeed, “the night is far spent,” and “the day is at hand.” The night in which we have long been enveloped by the reign of Satan’s darkness on this earth has nearly run its course, and will soon give way for the Christian to the dawning of the day in which Christ Jesus will return in the clouds of glory to call His church to meet Him in the air. Because of this, Paul encourages us to put on the armor of light.

Notice Paul did not tell us to put on white robes of righteousness (which we will receive from Christ in glory), but armor. The armor of God, which is the armor of light, is the holy protective cover for the warrior of Christ. We are not yet to be dressed for eternity but rather for conflict. Our armor and armament are described in Ephesians 6:10-18 and are given to us in this present age so that we might be able to stand for righteousness against darkness and the demonic rulers of this present age.

If we belong to the day we must be equipped for the fight because there is always fighting to be done. The armor shows the character traits of the true Christian which are in fact a reflection of the character of Jesus Christ. Therefore when we put on the armor of God, which is the armor of light, we in truth are doing as Paul encouraged in Romans 3:14 and have “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ means that we become a reflection of Him in word and deed, desiring to have the mind of Christ, following His example of life. Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ means that in obedience we are willing to be conformed to His will for our lives, submitting ourselves to that will.

Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ requires continual effort, a daily dying to self, so that He can make of us warriors worthy of the cross. If we so put on Christ, not only will we be protected from the works of darkness, not making “provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts,” we will also be equipped to stand for Jesus Christ as He defeats the rulers of darkness in this age.

Make no mistake, the true church of Jesus Christ, the Body of Believers (Jew and Gentile) which make up His remnant church of the last days, are and will be under attack by Satan as he utilizes every weapon in his arsenal, including the apostate false “Christian” church. Until Christ raptures His church, we can only expect the battle for the souls of men to intensify and grow in graphic devastation.

In anticipation of the blessed “dawning of that day,” we as followers of Christ should be excited that we have been given the opportunity to stand with our Lord and Savior by putting on the whole armor of God which He has provided for us. For when that day has fully dawned we will be allowed to set aside the armor for the pure white robe with which Christ will clothe us. For in that day we will have been deemed to be “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37) and standing before the Bema will hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

“The night is far spent, the day is at hand.”

Even So Come.

The Last Trump

Two passages teach that the Church will be removed at the sound of a trump. One passage calls it the “trump of God.” And the other passage calls it “the last trump.” The two passages are as follows:

First, Paul wrote to the Church at Thessalonica, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thess. 4:13-18).

Second, Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth, “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and 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” (I Cor. 15:51-53).

Faulty Theology

A problem occurs because some of those who believe in the Mid-Tribulation Rapture wrongly teach that the last trump (the trump of God) that removes the Church from the earth at the Rapture is the same as the seventh trumpet blown by the seventh angel in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 11:15-19). Trumpets are mentioned almost 100 times in the Bible. But in those more than 100 verses there are no verses that say the last trump (the trump of God) is the same as the seventh trumpet that will be blown by the seventh angel during the Tribulation Period. Those who say the last trump (the trump of God) is the same as the seventh trumpet that will be blown by the seventh angel during the Tribulation Period just assume that they are the same. It’s their interpretation or probably something that they have heard others say. But it is not a verse of Scripture in the Bible.

There Are Differences Between The Last Trump (The Trump Of God) and The SeventhTrumpet in Revelation

1) It is clear that the last trump (the trump of God) is about believers. More specifically, it is about the removal of believers (the Church) from the earth in the Rapture (I Thess. 4:13-18; I Cor. 15:51-53). The last trump on the trump of God will sound, the deceased believers will be raised (like Jesus, Lazarus and the Old Testament saints who were dead, buried and raised from the dead), the living believers will be changed (like Enoch and Elijah) and the entire Church will be caught up (or Raptured) into heaven at the same time. But the passage about the seventh trumpet is about unbelievers. More specifically, it is about those who are not in the Church (Rev. 11:15-19). When the angel blows the seventh trumpet it will cause anger on earth, lightening, thunder, an earthquake, great hail, and it will lead to the seven last plagues.

2) The last trump (the trump of God) will be an act of grace. It will call the undeserving Church into heaven. But the trumpet blown by the seventh angel during the Tribulation Period will be an act of wrath. It will signal divine judgment upon those on earth.

3) The last trump (the trump of God) will probably be blown by God (I Thess. 4:16). The seventh trumpet will be blown by the seventh angel (Rev. 11:15).

4) Concerning the events that will take place at the last trump (the trump of God), God tells the Church to “Comfort one another with these words” (I Thess. 4:18). Concerning the sounding of the seventh trumpet by the seventh angel, God said, “the nations will be angry” (Rev. 11:18). They will be angry because the first trumpet will be followed by the destruction of one-third of the plants (Rev. 8:7); the second trumpet will be followed by the destruction of one-third of the sea creatures and ships (Rev. 8:8-9); the third trumpet will be followed by the destruction of one-third of the fresh water (Rev. 8:10-11); the fourth trumpet will be followed by changes in one-third of the sun, moon and stars (Rev. 8:12); the fifth trumpet will be followed by the release of demon possessed locusts (Rev. 9:1-12); the sixth trumpet will be followed by the death of one-third of those on earth (Rev. 9:13-21); and the seventh trumpet will be followed by the seven vial judgments (Rev. 11:15-12:12). This is a far cry from the comforting message of the last trump (the trump of God).

5) When the last trump (the trump of God) sounds Jesus won’t be in heaven. Jesus will descend with a shout and remain in the clouds above the earth to meet the Church (I Thess. 4:16-17). There’s no mention of Jesus descending or shouting or remaining in the clouds when the seventh angel blows the seventh trumpet during the Tribulation Period. Jesus will probably still be on the throne in heaven.

6) The voice of God is not the sound of a trumpet blown by an angel (Rev. 11:15). It is a voice that sounds like a trumpet (Rev. 1:10; 4:10). There is a difference between the sound of a trumpet and a voice that sounds like a trumpet.

It’s Not When The Two Witnesses Ascend

Some believe the ascension of the Two Witnesses is a picture of the Rapture. But the Church will be Raptured at the last trump (the Trump of God). On the other hand, the Two Witnesses will be raised from the dead and they will ascend before the seventh angel blows the seventh trumpet during the Tribulation Period. The Church will be Raptured in the twinkling of an eye. But the Two Witnesses will stand on their feet and the whole world will see them. Apparently, instead of being removed in the twinkling of an eye they will remain on earth after they are raised from the dead long enough for the television cameras to view them.

What Some Think

I want to begin by saying this is speculation. It’s not something that I can prove. It’s just a point of information.

Some, not all, believe that an amazing event that took place during the days of Moses in the wilderness may be a picture of what will happen at the last trump (the trump of God). Moses took the Hebrews to meet God near Mt. Sinai. Among other things, he took them there for the purpose of agreeing to keep God’s Commandments.

The Bible says the Hebrews prepared to meet God which reminds some that God wants His Church to prepare to meet God. “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud (Jesus will meet the Church in the clouds) upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet [the voice not the sound] exceeding loud [compare this voice to Rev. 1:10 and 4:1]; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God [a picture of the Church going forth to meet Jesus]; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended [a picture of Jesus descending out of heaven to meet the Church at the Rapture] upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder [the voice of the trumpet sounded several times getting louder and louder], Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up [a picture of the Church going up]. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish” (Ex. 19:16-21).

Notice, that the voice of the trumpet was exceeding loud. It even sounded long and waxed louder and louder. This is important because God told the Jews to make trumpets and blow them on their feast days (Num. 10:2, 10). This would include all seven of the feast days: The Feast of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of First Fruits, the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, the Feast of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:1-36). The Church began on the Feast of Pentecost and some believe the Church will be Raptured on the Feast of Pentecost. Others believe the Church will be Raptured on the Feast of Trumpets. Either way, the Jews blow trumpets on their feast days (Numbers 10:10).

Some of those who believe the Rapture will be on the Feast of Trumpets point out that the Jews blow the trumpet one hundred times on the Feast of Trumpets. The one hundredth blast or the last blast of the trumpet on the Feast of Trumpets is the longest and loudest. The Jews call it the tekiah, teruah, shevarim which means the Great Blast. Some connect last trump (the trump of God) with the Great Blast on the Feast of Trumpets.

Prophecy Plus Ministries
Daymond & Rachel Duck
daymond.duck@yahoo.com

The Church of Jesus Christ ~ Part 1

In our first teaching series on this blog we made a careful examination of the state of the “church” in the world today. We established the fact that most groups, gatherings and fellowships; whether independent, denominational, or institutional, that identify themselves as “churches” today, do not resemble in any way shape or form the Church as it was established by the Holy Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles. However, we do know that there remains today; groups of believers, true followers of Jesus Christ, Christians who have experienced true redemption and follow sound biblical doctrine.

These Christians are bound together in Christ through prayer and study of the Word, and are dedicated to one another in Christ through fellowship, making provision for one another as needed. And while most “churches” identified in the world today have no resemblance to the Church established by Jesus Christ, those who have remained faithful to the doctrine and identity of the New Testament Church in the book of Acts are the remnant Church today; His Remnant Church.

In this teaching we will begin to look at the Church established by the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. In the last half of Matthew 16:18 Jesus said; “I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” And so, in Acts 2 we read of the Holy Spirit falling on or indwelling the disciples who were gathered together praying. The power that they received from the Holy Spirit resulted in the birth of the Church, the Church of Jesus Christ. This Church built by His Holy Spirit, which Christ had already promised the gates of Hades (read Satan and his demons) shall not prevail against.

We need to understand the power in this promise. Quite literally, the Church Jesus Christ builds, which is established in the power of, and possessing the Holy Spirit of God, cannot be overpowered by Satan or his hordes of fallen Angels. But do you see the caveat in this statement? I can’t build His Church, you can’t build His Church, and no man can build His Church. Jesus said He would build His Church, and we need to get this point because the only Church Satan cannot touch, is the one established by the plan and for the purpose of Jesus Christ.

Throughout the New Testament we are taught that the Church is the body of Christ, and the bride of Christ. Therefore the True Church can only be made up of people who are “In Christ,” that is; people who have recognized their sinful condition, repented for and turned from that condition, having accepted the free gift of grace provided by Jesus Christ through His shed blood, death, burial, and resurrection, establishing Him as Savior and Lord of their life. Understanding this, we know then that the Church is not an institution, it is not a denomination, and it certainly is not a building. Unfortunately, historically this fact seems to have been lost, and what men would identify as the “church” today… isn’t the True Church of Jesus Christ at all. The “church” identified by the world today is polluted or diluted by the fact that all of its so-called members are not “In Christ.”

In Acts 2:41-47 we have the pattern used by the Holy Spirit to establish the Church of Jesus Christ. In Revelation 2 & 3, in Christ’s letters to the seven “churches” in Asia Minor, we find examples of the pattern both followed and abandoned. Our goal in this teaching will be to examine and perhaps rediscover the pattern established by Jesus Christ for His Church. We will utilize the Word of God in the New Testament and only the Word of God to do so. For if we add anything such as creeds or traditions then we corrupt God’s design for the Church of Jesus Christ.

We teach because; Jesus is Coming Soon!

EvenSoCome