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.

Whom Do You Fear in These Last Days?

Undoubtedly, the evidence is, for Christians this world is becoming more dangerous on a daily basis. Persecution of those who have a true faith in Jesus Christ has increased by an estimated 400% worldwide in the last 24 months alone. Yet, the True Church continues to grow, and is doing so in the places of greatest persecution. North Korea, over the past decade, has consistently been documented as the most hostile toward Christianity, yet it is estimated that the Church has grown from 200,000 to 400,000 faithful, during that same length of time. These numbers are not anomalous, almost the same type of growth has been experienced in China, India, Iran, and much of the African continent. The Church of Jesus Christ is alive, growing, and in spite of the suffering and persecution is living expectantly, longing and looking for His imminent return for His bride.

However, not everyone who claims the name of Jesus Christ are boldly making a stand for Him in these Last Days. Many Christians (especially in the US), for divergent reasons, are “playing it safe” hoping to “slip under the radar” and avoid suffering and persecution. Rather than trusting God, they have developed a fear of man which is by extension, a fear of Satan. Jesus Christ promised that He would neither leave us nor forsake us, and that we should have no fear of what man might do to us. (Hebrews 13:5-6) In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus promised that we would be blessed and rewarded for having suffered persecution in His Name. (Matthew 5:10-12) Jesus also told us that we can expect persecution because He was persecuted. (John 15:20) And, Paul told the Christians in the Philippian church that it was granted to them not only to believe in Jesus but to suffer for Jesus. (Philippians 1: 29) If you are granted something, it means it has been given to you or gifted to you, in other words, it is a privilege that you have received. So, we should count it a privilege when persecution comes, but rather than trusting God for their lives, many are caught in the snare of fearing man. (Proverbs 29:25)

Fearing man results in a failure to do what is right, what the Lord desires, in being obedient to His call on your life. It is yielding to your human nature rather than trusting in the Holy Spirit to protect and empower you in Jesus Name. Oftentimes a fear of man is the result of sinful pride in our lives. It manifests itself in thoughts like; “if I try to share my faith with them they will make fun of me,” or “I could lose my job if I don’t compromise,” or “Jesus understands that I’m not that type of a Christian.” These examples of prideful thoughts or actions show a concern for self, and fear of what man might say, rather than a fear of God.

Del Fehsenfeld Jr., the founder of Life Action Ministries, said there were 12 warning signs for the believer that they fear man rather than God.

• They are unwilling to pray aloud.
• They wear immodest or suggestive clothing.
• They become defensive when confronted about their actions.
• They are unwilling to be honest about their failures.
• They are critical of others; trying to find fault.
• They are greedy, seeking material wealth and reputation.
• They are unable to make clear decisions.
• They are harsh with their children and family in public.
• They are constantly fishing for compliments and commendation.
• They are always trying to “one-up” other people’s stories.
• They are unwilling to follow Christ in believer’s baptism or to verbally witness for Him.
• They display different behavior depending on whom they happened to be with.

Fear of man is quite simply a denial of Christ, weather it is a result of pride, or willful disobedience in giving Christ His rightful place in your life. The tent evangelist, Dr. Dolphus Price, said; “Many will go to hell because they are afraid of what their friends might say if they give their life to Christ.” The English preacher William Gurnall wrote; “We fear man so much, because we fear God so little.”

Today, the Church of Jesus Christ needs to return to a healthy reverence for, and fear of God. (Psalm 89:7; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14) We need to remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, about who we should fear and why. (Luke 12:4-9) Ultimately, the man who puts his trust in Jesus Christ is eternally safe no matter what he might face.The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy wrote; “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12) Again, this is a promise of a privilege given to the one who has given his life to serve Jesus Christ, and it is certainly no reason to fear man.

Paul goes on to encourage Timothy; “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4: 2-5)

These words to Timothy in that day, are the words of Jesus Christ to us for today. Because the evidence is clear that we are living in the Last Days, we need to set aside the fear of man, and share Jesus Christ with absolutely everyone we can in obedience to His call on our lives. We need to convince people of the Truth of Jesus Christ in our lives, we need to rebuke those (false teachers and false prophets) who are not teaching the Truth of the Word of God, and we need to exhort new Christians or weaker Christians with patience and sound teaching of the Word. Many in this world have already turned away from the truth, many will not be redeemed because they have already given themselves over to Satan. But, we still need to evangelize everyone, because only God knows the condition of a man’s heart. We need to fulfill the calling God has placed on our lives, and continually watch, long for, and love the imminent appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds as He Raptures His Church!

Remember, a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8) and the crown of life (Revelation 2:10) awaits. So put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-16), and having done all to stand; Stand Therefore!

EvenSoCome

Biblical Prophecy; what is still to come? ~ Part 1

If you have become a follower of this blog, I’m sure you are aware that I believe we are living in the Last Days, and if you are a first time reader I hope this post will encourage you to continue to follow, and to explore our previous posts. While we continue our teaching on His Remnant Church in other posts, today we will begin a new teaching series on as yet unfulfilled Biblical Prophecy. While we cannot be certain of an exact chronological order of things to come, we can definitely identify prophetic events in the Scriptures, which will affect mankind as well as all creation, as these Last Days culminated in the End Times of the Great Tribulation before the return of Jesus Christ to begin his Millennial Kingdom reign.

In beginning this new study, the first thing we need to understand is that there is nothing that has to happen before the rapture of the church. The rapture of the church closes out a parenthesis in time called the church age, or the age of grace, in which God has called out a people for Himself from all nations. The rapture begins again the prophetic time clock for national Israel. God’s divine purpose for this age has been twofold; first Israel has experienced a partial hardening or blindness because of their rejection of Jesus as the Christ or Messiah, therefore enduring God’s judgment, and second the Gospel was then preached to the Gentiles giving them the opportunity to become members of God’s “Ecclesia” the church. Of course, as evidenced in the book of Acts, the church is comprised of both Jews who have recognized that Jesus Christ is Messiah, and Gentile followers of Jesus Christ.

In the Apostle Paul’s great teaching on Israel and the church in the book of Romans, we see that Israel has been set aside until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, that is, until the full number of Gentiles who will recognize Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior have in fact done so (Romans 11:25). The Jews sought a relationship with God not by faith but by works. But James 2:10 tells us that for people to obtain salvation by observing the law, they must keep the law perfectly, which of course no one is capable of doing. Because Jesus did not fit their preconceived notions about who the Messiah was to be or act, the Jews rejected Him. As a result of this rejection, the gospel was preached to the Gentiles to create jealousy among the Jews, so that they too might accept Christ (Romans 11:11). So the true church is made up of Gentiles and Jews who believe that Jesus is the Christ.

Today we live in the church age, and the true church, His Remnant Church in these Last Days, made up of believers who are truly following hard after Christ as Bereans (those who diligently study the Word of God), comprise the bride of Christ whom He will redeem at the rapture. The true church represents all those whom God has called out from the world, both Jews and Gentiles, and the mission of the church is spelled out in the great commission (Matthew 28:16-20), and the great commandment (Mark 12:29-31). No one knows when the church age will end, when the rapture will take place, but we do know that God is giving every opportunity for men to turn to Him. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Unfortunately despite God’s patience many will refuse to turn to Him and therefore spend eternity apart from Him (Matthew 25:46). And, this is one of the very reasons for the horrific judgments to come during the tribulation (Revelation chapters 4 through 19).

As we begin our look at the as yet unfulfilled Last Days and End Time prophetic events, I would first like to make some things clear about the United States of America. I can find no evidence of the United States in End Time Biblical prophecy. I have been often asked why I think that is. I can give several reasons to account for this truth, any and all of which could be the reason:

  • The first is the spiritual and moral collapse in the United States of America. Proverbs 19:21, Isaiah 14:24, and Isaiah 46:10 tell us that God is absolutely sovereign. In Job 12:23 we read, “He makes nations great, and destroys them; He enlarges nations, and guides them.” And  Daniel 2:21 says that God “removes kings and raises up kings”. It is quite possible that God is going to judge the United States because, even though it was founded on Christian principles, it has turned away from Him. Observe what Paul writes in Romans 1:18-25. This passage tells us that God will exact judgment on any nation that deliberately continues to disregard His word by allowing the people of that nation to bear the full weight of the consequences of their sin. History is replete with nations who have collapsed because of immorality and wickedness. Unfortunately that is where we find the United States today. In fact, in Romans 1:26 to Romans 2:11 you find a very apt description of the spiritual condition of mankind in the United States today and God’s declaration of judgment because of it. Premarital sex, extramarital sex, pornography, homosexuality, abortion, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, the destruction of the family unit, and a narcissistic humanistic form of religion in the mainstream church, is all evidence that this nation has turned its back on God.
  • A second possible reason the United States is not mentioned in End Time prophecy is that this nation will have collapsed due to a nuclear attack. One only has to take a brief look at the news to see that this possibility exists and could come from Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, or perhaps a Terrorist Dirty Bomb. There are many possible candidates that might precipitate such an attack.
  • A third possible reason is an electromagnetic pulse attack EMP. A nuclear explosion in the atmosphere over the US could blanket the entire US and wipe out our entire electrical power grid for a period of months if not years. Again, Russia, China, and North Korea are all possible candidates for such an attack, while China reportedly has the most advanced military satellite technology.
  • A fourth possible reason could be the collapse of the United States economy. Because of our unsustainable national debt the possibility that the US dollar could be replaced as the world’s reserve currency. In addition, there is the volatility of the stock market in the United States, and the unsustainable bubble created by the Fed’s printing and inserting money into the economy without any hard assets to back it up. Even the most conservative of economists are warning of a correction (read crash) sometime in the period between now and 2016.
  • A fifth possibility is a crippling natural disaster of some sort,
  • And a sixth possibility is the rapture of the church…

In our next post in this series we will examine the Rapture of the church in 1 & 2 Thessalonians as well as other passages. Remember, there is nothing which remains on the prophetic calendar of things yet to be fulfilled which has to take place before the rapture the church.

So once again I encourage you to be certain of your relationship with Jesus Christ. Have you accepted Him as your personal Lord and Savior by receiving His free gift of salvation? At Calvary He paid your sin debt and mine. If you haven’t yet turned your life to Christ, there’s never been a better day than today to do so. If you need help in accomplishing this or simply would like more information, you can contact me at my personal email address at drtwhitaker@gmail.com or contact me on Facebook because Jesus is Coming Soon!

EvenSoCome

Signs of the Times: SIN is SIN; Israel, Iran, Russia, Ukraine, US, China, North Korea… oh; and the Weather and Natural Disaster!

Weather

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, for the fourth week in a row a winter snow storm has descended on the East Coast and Washington DC. Of course while this is more than a little unusual, in light of our update over the past month it certainly shouldn’t be unexpected. Even as President Obama meets with European leaders at The Hague in the Netherlands, his administration continues to hold out hope that they can force Israel and the Palestinian Authority into accepting their “Framework for Peace.”

Israel

On Saturday Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s defense minister, said in a March 21 speech at Tel Aviv University that the United States is “demonstrating weakness” around the world. And, Caroline Glick, a senior contributing editor to The Jerusalem Post, says America, through President Obama, is “inviting this sort of aggression by countries like Russia, by countries like Iran, by showing such profound weakness in foreign affairs.” The Washington Times reported, Secretary of State John Kerry called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to complain about his defense ministers comments, and he continued his pressure on Netanyahu to make concessions with the Palestinians in the so-called peace process.

Meanwhile also on Saturday morning March 21, a rain-soaked hillside collapsed swallowing dozens of homes near Oso, Snohomish County in Washington State.

Rescue workers searched through mucky rubble on Tuesday with hopes dwindling of finding any more survivors from among as many as 176 people still missing from the devastating weekend mudslide which killed at least 14. More than 100 properties were hit by the mudslide. John Pennington, Snohomish County’s director of emergency management, said that after three days, the operation was shifting from a rescue operation to a recovery mission.

Is this merely coincidence, or another instance of another severe weather natural catastrophe resulting from continued pressure by the government of the United States on Israel to divide their land and eternal capital of Jerusalem? (Once again I encourage you to review our past Tuesday posts for more information.)

In other news concerning Israel, a rising chorus of Israeli voices is again raising the possibility of carrying out a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in what appears to be an attempt to draw renewed attention to Tehran’s atomic program — and Israel’s unhappiness with international negotiations with the Iranians. Despite ongoing talks and negotiations between Iran and the West over the Iranian nuclear program, Israel is taking no chances. Based on recent statements by senior military officers, a whopping amount of at least 10 billion shekels ($2.89 billion) has been set aside by Israel for a potential unilateral military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities in 2014. This decision reflects the determination of the Israeli government not to be bound by the interim accord that was reached between Iran and the US led Western nations.

Israel’s decision is based on the stated need to ensure its self-defense even as it becomes clearer that the Obama administration and the U.S, is not going to lead the campaign against Iran or to be a dependable ally for a military solution against Iran.

Joel Rosenberg has recently commissioned McLaughlin & Associates to take several Polls which have noted some interesting results.

In one exclusive new poll: 72% of Americans see Putin as a “clear and present danger” to U.S. and Israel. While other polls showed that 85% of Americans are concerned young people don’t know enough about the Holocaust or are learning lessons of how to confront evil.

In another new poll conducted at the request of Rosenberg: 68% of Americans fear a “nuclear holocaust” here in U.S. if Iran is permitted to build nuclear weapons, and the most recent of these polls find that: 59% of Americans support “decisive” US strike on Iran to prevent “Second Holocaust,” if diplomacy & sanctions fail. All of these polls seem to reflect a completely different attitude by the American people than that of our present administration.

Russia & Ukraine

As of Monday Russian troops have completed the takeover of all military bases in Crimea, and Vladimir Putin continues to ignore pressure from the international community. As I stated last week, the takeover of Crimea is a done deal, and as Russian troops continue to mass on the Ukrainian border, I believe it is only a matter of time, perhaps days, that Russia will invade and take over the rest of the Ukraine. President Obama’s war of words with Russia and Vladimir Putin continued on Tuesday from the Hague, as Russia was removed as a member of the G8. However, Russian leaders continue to mock the weakness of Obama’s leadership.

In other International News

North Korea fired 30 short-range rockets into the sea off the east of the Korean peninsula early on Saturday in response to continued joint defense drills by the US & South Korea.

China continues to help in the search for the missing Malaysian Jet, yet has used the experience to move more of its naval fleet into positions in the disputed territorial island groups in Japanese and Philippine waters.

The Malaysian Prime Minister meanwhile announced that they have determined that the jet crashed in the South Indian Sea and that there were no survivors. Chinese authorities have demanded to see all of the radar and satellite information which precipitated this announcement.

In an interesting commentary on the incident, Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Christian evangelist Billy Graham, recently drew a connection between the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and the Rapture, as described in Thessalonians 4:16-17. She made the connection on her personal blog just after the plane went missing, suggesting that the feeling of unknowingness and helplessness that has affected the world since the flight disappeared on March 8 will be the same feeling experienced by mankind when the Rapture happens and Jesus calls his church to meet him in the air and join him in heaven. She concluded, nonbelievers will be left to wonder: “Where have all the people gone?”

On the Culture front

Nabisco has added its voice to the current trend of forcing liberal social agendas on the rest of us by producing a commercial for their Honey Maid graham crackers and Teddy Grahams snacks showing a homosexual couple raising two children with a voiceover stating “this is wholesome.” The ad concludes by saying; “No matter how things change, what makes us wholesome never will. Honey Maid — everyday wholesome snacks for every wholesome family. This is wholesome.” So Nabisco has joined Coca Cola and Chevrolet in specifically marketing homosexuality.

Make no mistake, no matter what the LGBT groups, leftist liberals, and liberal theologies postulate, the Bible calls homosexuality a sin. And, God’s word is Truth and as such not open to revision or private interpretation. Sin is Sin no matter what the sin is, and there are no degrees of sin, in God’s eyes all are inseparable and all require repentance. Only the righteousness provided by Christ at the Cross can pay the debt of sin we owe. The good news is that while God hates sin, He loves the sinner and has provided the righteousness of Jesus Christ, through His shed blood, to redeem any who will accept Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives, repenting of their sin.

Please be watching for our update on Friday as we take a look at the world of Finance.

Remember what our Lord Jesus said to His disciples about the events we are seeing happen around us today… Luke 21:28 “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

EvenSoCome