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.

Grace in the Church Age

In Acts 2 we find the birth of the Church at Pentecost, and in 1 Thessalonians 4 we find the description of the Rapture of the Church. The entire period of time between these two events is the Church Age, and the Church Age is encompassed in its entirety by the Age of Grace. Extending from the Cross of Christ, to His Glorious Appearing at the Second Coming to establish His Millennial Reign, the Age of Grace is typified by God’s offer of Eternal Salvation through the shed Blood of Jesus Christ, to all who would trust in Him as their Lord and Savior.

The Church Age within the Age of Grace is the Age of the “ecclesia,” those who are “called out” as the Body of Christ. These “called out” ones, identified as Christ’s Church, exist for the purpose of revealing Christ to the world by carrying out His will as a revelation and example of His Grace. The command to the disciples by Christ in Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” is for them to be witnesses, to share with all mankind the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, within the Scriptures there is not one single passage which states that the whole world will be converted during this Age. In fact, Christ Himself shared this fact within the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13. In Acts 15:7 -17, in the account of the Jerusalem Council, we find that God’s purpose for this Age is the calling out of a people for His Name which includes both Jew and Gentile. As the Church we are then told in 2 Corinthians 6:17, that because we are called out of the world, that we are to be separate from the world.

The first mission given to us as the “called out” followers of Christ, the Church, is the evangelization of the world, and not the conversion of the world. It then follows that the purpose of God for His Church in this Age is not the reformation of society, or the enrichment of the faithful, and it is certainly not the establishment of His Kingdom.

The Church is the Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:17-23), which is joined together to serve one another as we serve God; the Church is the Bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-30), whose purpose is to glorify God; the Church on earth is the habitation of God (Ephesians 2:19-22); the Church is an example and illustration of the grace of God (Ephesians 2:5-7), which in fact is what gives unique character to this Age; and the Church is a royal priesthood (2 Peter 2:4-10), to serve God among men in this Age.

The second mission given to us as the “called out” followers of Jesus Christ, the Church, is to understand the promise that, for the cause of Christ, we will suffer and endure persecution (Matthew 5:12, John 15:20, Romans 12:14, Philippians 1:29, 2 Timothy 3:12, 1 Peter 3:14, 1 Peter 4:16, Revelation 2:10) because of the ever-increasing wickedness of the world in which we live. Yet the blessing in this promise is another promise, the promise of a great inheritance and reward (Matthew 5:12, Colossians 3:24, 1 Peter 1:3-5, Hebrews 11:6, Revelation 3:7-12) for having remained faithful to the calling.

I believe today that the “church” we see in the world has moved very far away from its calling, from the divine purpose for which it was intended. What most people today see as the “church,” has no real resemblance to the Church of Jesus Christ. Today’s “church” has failed to be separate from the world, a “called out” body for the purposes of God. In the “church” today we find that many have embraced socialism, humanism, environmentalism, hedonism, and the worship of Mammon. While in still other “churches” they endeavor to appropriate from Israel, the promises which God intended for Israel alone, which I believe has done more to turn the “church” from its appointed course than any other. This error alone causes the “church” to turn away from a literal interpretation of Scripture, which in turn creates a denial of prophetic truth. By embracing this false theology the “church” relegates itself to a place in the world and defines its mission as a responsibility to improve the world.

So the “church” today defines itself by building magnificent structures, acquiring earthly things, courting political power, embracing social and societal conventions, embracing tolerance, compromise and inclusiveness, in an effort to coexist with all religions. All of this is in direct opposition to the Word of God, and an appointed call to separation and holiness in anticipation of the return of Jesus Christ. The “church” which is most evident in the world today is certainly not the Church of Jesus Christ.

Yet there is still a remnant of believers, who are truly following the mission given by Jesus Christ, who comprise the True Church today, what we see as His Remnant Church of the Last Days. I believe it is the ministry and mission of the Church to be witnesses for Jesus Christ until He returns for His Church (1 Thessalonians 4), and that He alone can effect change in this world, and will do so when He sets up His Millennial Kingdom at His Second Coming (Revelation 19).

I believe the Rapture of the Church is imminent, we are living in a time when prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes. It is my prayer that in this last remnant of time before the “called out” Church is called up to meet our Savior, that a Holy Spirit inspired awakening will take place among mankind, and within the apostate church. It is my prayer that we will see souls saved, and the church restored to its original mission and calling. The end of days is at hand and;

Jesus is Coming Soon!

EvenSoCome

Goodbye Lady Liberty

Following his famous sermon on Pentecost, the church “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). And it wasn’t long until Peter preached another famous sermon (Acts 3:12-26). He addressed the men of Israel and eventually said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21). These are tough words, but I believe Peter told these Jews that God will send a time of refreshing to Israel, then God will send Jesus back, and then Jesus will begin the time of restoration (restore Israel’s position among the nations; restore morality, peace, justice, righteousness, etc. on earth). It intrigues me that God in His foreknowledge knows when the times of refreshing and time of restitution are.

But consider that God gave all of the Promised Land to Abraham and His descendents (the Jews); that God told Abraham that His descendants would live in another land and serve them (live in Egypt and be slaves there) for 400 years; and the reason why they couldn’t have the Promised Land right away was because the iniquity of the Amorites who lived in the Promised Land was not yet full (Gen. 15:12-16). God loves everyone, including the Amorites, so He would not allow the Jews to occupy the Promised Land for another 400 years because the sin of the Amorites was not yet great enough for them to be destroyed. But when the 400 years came and went and the Amorites had reached God’s limit on defiling the land, He would cast them out (Lev. 18:24-28; I Kings 21:25-26).

And consider that God told Judah that He had called upon the people to repent many times, but they did not listen so He was going to use Babylon to destroy Judah, capture many Jews in the north part of the country and make them serve Babylon for 70 years (Jer. 25:1-11). Then, He added that because of Babylon’s sin He would destroy Babylon 70 years later (Jer. 25:12). Before it happened God revealed Judah’s fall and the time of Babylon’s fall (70 years after Judah’s fall). But it did not stop there. God identified several other nations that would drink the “wine cup of this fury” (be destroyed) at that time (Jer. 25:15-26).

Among other things, a cup is a unit of measurement. David’s cup was filled with joy (Psa. 23:5). The believer’s cup is filled with salvation (Psa. 116:13; Jn. 7:37-39). Jesus’ cup was filled with the wrath of God toward the sins of the world (Matt. 26:39). The coming one-world religion’s cup will be filled with abominations and filthiness (Rev. 17:4).

The “wine cup of this fury” contained the wrath of God toward the sins of those nations. Instead of pouring His wrath upon these nations as they sinned, God poured His wrath into a cup. As time passed, the level of His wrath in the cup slowly rose until the “wine cup of this fury” was full. God didn’t punish them every time they sinned, but He was aware of their sins. And their sins caused His wrath to build until His cup was full and He destroyed them.

This process is ongoing, but it can be interrupted and God’s wrath can even be removed from the “cup” by humility, prayer and turning to Him (II Chron. 7:14). Absent that, and I don’t believe it is going to happen in the United States, the cup that contains America’s sins will continue to fill until there is no more room. Then, the Bible teaches that God will remove a leader (Dan. 2:21), or He will destroy a nation (Dan. 5:25-28), or He will give a nation the basest of men (a terrible leader) to rule over it (Dan. 4:17).

God does not change (Heb. 13:8) and it seems that the United States now has the basest of men for a leader (lying, spying, breaking the law, abortion, homosexuality, etc.). This is a clear indication that the cup of God’s wrath is full. It explains why our President’s lying staff, our cover-it-up Senate, our really angry (but never do anything about it) House and the predominantly silent Main Stream Media are allowing the destruction of America’s Biblical foundations. Goodbye Lady Liberty. Your “cup” is full and it grieves some of us to ponder your future.

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do (Psa. 11:3)? See Psa. 11:4-7. What will happen to the wicked (verse 6)? Drink from the cup of salvation before it is too late.

Prophecy Plus Ministries
Daymond & Rachel Duck
daymondduck@bellsouth.net

The Church Breaks Bread

Sitting down together to share a meal with family and friends is one of the oldest examples of friendship and community which exists, even to this day. In our last article on the Church built by Jesus Christ, as found in Acts 2:42-47, we discussed the component of fellowship and in particular where the fellowship took place. As we continue this teaching we will examine the third component given for the establishment of the Church which is the “breaking of bread.” The “breaking of bread” is itself at once an extension of fellowship within a community of believers, and yet in practice becomes even more.

During the time in which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ lived, the phrase “breaking of bread” was common in the vernacular of the people of Israel and in fact is commonly found to be idiomatic among a great many peoples of the world, historically and currently. In nearly every culture the act of sharing a meal and eating together is an activity which promotes community, friendship, and harmony. This is one of the reasons this practice was instituted in the early Church. God’s people gathered around a table together and broke bread for the express reasons of developing a family relationship within the body of believers and to share in the memory of the One who is the Head of the body.

I believe within this passage, Acts 2:42-47, we find a duality of meaning in the phrase “breaking of bread.” During the period of Jesus’ earthly ministry among His disciples, the Scriptures record instances which shows that they often ate together. Sometimes it was in the homes of friends such as Mary and Martha in Bethany, and at other times in public places, such as when He ate with the publicans and sinners, and yet others when they were simply eating together on their own. On most of these occasions it is recorded that Jesus presided over the meal and therefore was the One who would break bread and give thanks.

Mark 14:12-26 records the last Passover meal that Jesus shared with the twelve disciples. Today we know this as the Last Supper, and it was at this meal that our Lord Jesus gave them instruction by example, to share in the breaking of bread and drinking the fruit of the vine from the Cup, in remembrance of that which He was about to accomplish until He returned to set up His Kingdom. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) This “breaking of bread” we now know and participate in as the “Lord’s Supper.”

The Scripture record is clear that after His resurrection, the disciples of Jesus began to meet together and fellowship in the sharing of a meal. The risen Christ Himself upon occasion joined in eating these common meals with them as is evidenced in Luke 24:29-31; Luke 24:41-43; and John 21:9-15. After the Lord’s ascension, the practice continued and it is at one such meal we find the disciples gathered at the Feast of Pentecost in Acts 2:1.

So as we look together again at Acts 2:42 we read; “And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” And in Acts 2:46-47 we read; “So continuing daily with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.”

In 1874, C. H. Spurgeon wrote; “Their own houses were houses of God, and their own meals were so mixed and mingled with the Lord’s Supper that to this day, the most cautious student of the Bible cannot tell when they left over eating their common meals and when they began eating the supper of the Lord.” Unfortunately, the institutionalization of the “church” in all of its many denominational forms has removed the “breaking of bread” for “Lord’s Supper” from its original setting as a part of church fellowship, and placed it within ritualistic confines. I believe the scriptural record is clear that the “breaking of bread” in a fellowship meal and the “breaking of bread” for the Lord’s Supper were intentionally intimately connected. It is my opinion that turning the remembrance into a ritual destroys the intimacy of fellowship for which the remembrance was intended, and that the Lord’s Supper as well as the Body of believers, have been diminished by the Church having allowed it to happen.

What then is the remedy for this situation in the “church” today? Again, I believe that True followers of Jesus Christ need to return to the model and pattern which Christ gave us for His Church in the book of Acts. Doctrine, Fellowship and Breaking Bread, and Prayer. Obedience in this area will help identify those remaining groups of believers which are His Remnant Church in the Last Days.

I encourage you to take a good look at, and evaluate, how the church where you worship compares to the model and pattern of the church established by Jesus Christ in the book of Acts. Next we will look at the Church in Prayer, but until then remember that;

Jesus is Coming Soon!

EvenSoCome