Discipleship: Fully Committed to Christ

In Luke 14:25-33 we find a passage that describes what is required to truly be a disciple of Christ.

“Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, ‘”If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”’

Many would consider this passage as some of the “hard sayings” of Jesus. At the point in His ministry at which He made these statements, He had been attracting great crowds which followed Him everywhere to hear His teaching. Yet many of them were following Him expecting temporal reward or at the very least, reflected glory for themselves. And so, Jesus delivers to them this message in order for them to understand what truly would be required of anyone who desired to be His disciple. Additionally, He shared with them examples of counting the cost of being His disciple.

When Jesus spoke to them in verse 26; “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” the implication was not that they would truly hate their own family or themselves, but in fact, that as much as they loved their families, they must love Jesus infinitely more. And in verse 27; “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple,” He is saying, in order to be His disciple, not only should one be willing to face unspeakable persecution and suffering, but one willingly commits to following Christ even if it means his death. In verse 33 Jesus said; “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Again, the inference is that if we are to be disciples of Jesus Christ, we must be willing to put our love and service to Him above all of our material possessions. My friends this is a total commitment that He is requiring. You must follow Him completely or not at all. It is all or nothing. Jesus Christ is either Lord over everything in your life, including your life itself, or He is not Lord at all.

To be a true disciple of Jesus Christ one must count the cost. One must realize that sacrifice is required, suffering and persecution is to be expected, and we very well may be required to forfeit our very lives. In teaching on discipleship I often say it is not for the weak at heart. Again, remember Jesus told us in John 15:20; “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you,” and they crucified Him.

So, we have looked at what Christ says is required to be a disciple, but how does that relate to being a Christian? Let’s look at Acts 11:28; “And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” In this passage, which is telling about Barnabas taking Paul to Antioch, disciple is synonymous with Christian. I’m wondering if that puts a whole new light on your understanding of your relationship to Christ. Let’s look again at the words of Christ, this time in Mark 8:34; ‘“When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”’ There are three imperatives here:

  • First, is self-denial. This again is putting Christ before anything, anyone, and everything in your life;
  • Second, is self-sacrifice. Again, being willing to suffer and lay down your very life for Jesus Christ if so required;
  • Third, Jesus said “follow me” and there have been volumes written about the meaning of those two words, but the short version is this, having embraced self-denial and self-sacrifice,
    • commit to the life of a disciple by studying the Word of God,
    • grow more Christ-like by living by the Word of God,
    • share the Word of God with others,
    • and defend the Word of God without fail.

Here then is the bottom line. Jesus, the very Son of God, was born into this world to become the Christ. At Calvary He took on the sin debt owed by all humanity, paid it with His own life, was buried, and resurrected Himself into life. By His victory over sin and death, He has offered to all mankind the free gift of salvation and eternal life for all who will believe in His finished work at the cross and recognize Him as their Savior, and Lord of their life. In understanding this, we comprehend that discipleship as a Christian is voluntary. In accepting Christ’s gift we willingly are giving over our will to His Will. In that respect, becoming a Christian and a disciple is intentional.

Unfortunately, there are many who call themselves Christian, yet have not counted the cost. They never really surrendered their will to His Will. If you take an honest look at your life, can you truly say that you have surrendered your will to Christ? If not, you must seriously question your commitment. Are you truly following Christ? Are you His disciple? Again, if not, there is no better time than now, no better day than today to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and surrender your life and your will to Him.

True discipleship begins at the cross of Christ. It requires sacrificial devotion to Christ without compromise, it requires putting the needs of others ahead of one’s self for the sake of the gospel, it is an absolute commitment to God’s Will in the disciple’s life.

Are you a disciple of Jesus?

Transformed and Sanctified by the Word, Jesus Christ

The following excerpt is from “The Hour Has Come” by G. Ray Jordan. Published in 1948, this work of Jordan’s is an examination and commentary on Jesus Christ’s high priestly prayer in John 17. Again, it is as relevant for the believer today as when it was first written. As followers of Christ in these Last Days, we are living in a time of ever-expanding immorality, compromise, tolerance, and wickedness. It is increasingly more perilous for the Christian to live a separated life, however it is the Word of God which transformed us that will sanctify us.

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” – John 17:6-19

Christ is thinking of a much nobler purpose and a far greater challenge when he insists those who are his devoted disciples cannot follow “the way of the world.” Here is something so spiritually superior it has to do with the divine difference. Jesus makes it quite plain when he declares that “the glory which thou gavest me I have given them.” These friends are to be one with him in spirit and purpose. They are not to be controlled by the social, moral, or ethical standards of society or of any merely human group. The spirit of heaven has touched them. These men are not perfect. But they have seen the stars, and never again can they be satisfied with things of the earth.

When the intimate friends of Jesus began to understand him, to love him and eagerly give themselves to him, something magnificent happened to them. Their faces were turned in a different direction; their hearts thrilled to a higher devotion. Their wills were given to a new objective; their desires were set toward a divine purpose. The customs of society never crushed them after that. They refuse to be slaves to the codes of any earthly kingdom. Their lives were literally transformed. Spiritually they were born again. Any description less vivid fails to tell the full story of what happened to them.

Saul of Tarsus was captivated by the strange Man who went to a cross rather than abandon his hopes and surrender his ideals for life. Saul could do nothing less than give him his heart. His mind, his will, and his emotions were all affected by the spirit of this man who had been crucified because he would not compromise. He saw the devotion Christ manifested as the hope of humanity. A new power came to him. He urged his comrades not to conform to the standards of those about them. They should never succumb to the sordid moral conditions of the cities in which they lived, nor conform to the low ethical ideas of the Mediterranean world.

But mere lack of conformity to popular customs is not sufficient. Christians are to be transformed. There to be changed by the spirit and power of God. This is a radical experience. Only God can bring it to pass. As we yield ourselves to him, we find a power greater than our own which works in and through us. Obviously this is a far cry from simply refusing to abide by certain social customs. Those who decide to become divinely different by offering their wills to the heavenly Father on the highway to real greatness, even to God-likeness.

Here’s a sweeping experience which affects all of life because it has to do with every possible personal and social adjustment. A Christian treats himself differently because he is transformed. He thinks of Christ’s way rather than the world’s for dealing with any situation which arises.

Words of Grace for Strength:

Transformation is change, an event, which for the Christian was accomplished by Christ’s finished work at Calvary. Transforming his life from one of sin and death, to one which has been redeemed and justified into holiness and life. A part of Transformation is the process of Sanctification. Sanctification is also change, initiated by Christ at Calvary, which is then followed through by the faith and actions of the believer in his desire for a growing, continual, obedient relationship with God. This is accomplished through the study and application of His Word to the believer’s life. Transformation is being placed in Christ, while Sanctification is the ongoing process of being separated or set apart in holiness to God so that the believer might become more Christ-like.

True disciples of Jesus Christ today can be identified by their desire for Transformation and Sanctification in much the same way as those who walked and talked with Jesus during His earthly ministry. It is all a function of will. Those who are true disciples of Jesus Christ have heeded the instruction of the Holy Spirit through the Word given to the Apostle Paul, as written in the book of Romans:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:1&2

The true disciple of Jesus Christ no longer operates under his own will, but has placed his will subservient to the Will of God. Because of this the disciple is no longer operating under his own power, but is dependent upon, and operating through, the power of God (Philippians 3:10, Ephesians 6:10 & 11). The power is there for any disciple to tap into by turning to God in wholehearted faith and obedience. If we do not choose to seek out and use that power, it is our fault alone if our lives are more difficult than need be.

We are living in troublesome times, terrible times. This world is full of corruption, deceit, hate, avarice, and lawlessness. Because of compromise, tolerance, and inclusiveness, society in every country is breaking down due to a lack of principles, morals, and rule of law. Wickedness prevails in most of the world as it spirals out of control under the influence of the prince of the power of this world, Satan himself.

The true disciple of Jesus Christ recognizes this, and in obedience to the Will of God, takes up the “whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13) to be able to make a stand for Jesus Christ in these Last Days. The promise of victory for the true disciple of Jesus Christ is found in the passage above (John 17:6-19), and that our Savior not only has given us into the hand of His Father, but has asked His Father to protect us from the evil one (Satan) and to sanctify us through His Truth. Jesus identifies the Word as Truth. John 1:1-3 identifies Jesus as the Word. It follows then, that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are sanctified by God through Jesus Christ. Make sure to note that in the prayer of John 17 Jesus asks that we be kept from the evil one, not necessarily taken out of the world when faced with evil. We are meant to fight for the cause of Christ, and our Lord made sure we are equipped to do battle, if we just take up the armor and tap into the power. As always the provision of the Lord is abundant beyond comprehension.

We are living in the Last Days, and as it is the Lord who appoints the times and seasons,we as disciples should be acutely aware of both the time and season. So, as we live in these Last Days, we must do so in the Will of God, by the power of God, and we should do so remembering the words of the Apostle Paul to Titus.

Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”

EvenSoCome

Sanctification, It Is Work!

In the series of articles entitled “Words of Grace for Strength” it is our practice to take an excerpt from an article, book, or sermon written sometime in the past, which in its message or teaching, is as relevant today as when it was first written or given. While undoubtedly the excerpt stands on its own, the goal is to confirm its relevance for today, and perhaps to embellish its importance and understanding to the reader so that he might be better able to apply the teaching to his life and personal growth in Christ Jesus.

The excerpt today is from “Things Which Become Sound Doctrine” written by J. Dwight Pentecost in 1965. The excerpt is from his teaching in the section on Sanctification.

God’s purpose for His child is that he should live in Jesus Christ. God desires to reproduce Himself in His children so that He might be glorified through His children. And when we present ourselves, or sanctify ourselves, or yield ourselves to the Spirit’s control, the Spirit will reproduce in us His own fruit, that we might live to the glory of God.

This practical holiness will manifest itself, as Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:18, in our growth in grace and knowledge. Peter says: “… grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” We often refer to this as progressive sanctification – where Christ, who formed in us by the Holy Spirit when we were born into God’s family, is being reproduced in us, more and more, by the Spirit’s control. In 2 Corinthians 3:18 Paul says, “… we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed (or, literally, are being changed) into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Paul emphasizes in that passage that there is a work of the Holy Spirit by which we are progressively being conformed in our daily experience to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are being changed into the same image, going from glory to glory. Our position before God is that we are sanctified, set apart unto God; our experience is that we are being sanctified in daily life, by the Spirit’s power, as we grow in grace and in the knowledge, and as we are controlled by the Spirit of God.

The child of God recognizes that no day is lived in practical righteousness and holiness. We stumble and fall, in thought, word, and deed. There is sin of omission, and sin of commission, and we stand convicted before a holy and righteous God. The Apostle John has given us a solution to this problem in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Jesus Christ can be reproduced in the life of the child of God because the spirit of God can convict the child of God of his unholiness and can bring him to the place of confession so that sin might be forgiven and the believer might be restored, and that the Spirit might continue his work of reproducing Jesus Christ in the life of the child of God.

But is there no termination to the struggle? Must we always be subject to Satan’s snare? We recognize that as long as we’re in the flesh, we are living in an unredeemed body. We are living with an unredeemed sin-nature within us which may manifest its fruit unless we live by the Spirit’s power. But the word of God reveals a third precious truth concerning sanctification, and that is our ultimate sanctification. The apostle John so clearly presents this truth in 1 John 3:2: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” Observe carefully what John wrote. We will be like Christ in that we will be sinless, we will be deathless, and we will be brought to maturity in spiritual things. We will be like him. But when? When we’re old, and gray-haired? No! When He shall appear. It is the coming of Jesus Christ to gather His own to Himself that will bring us, God’s saints, to a realization of the position which is ours. At the coming of Christ – when the body of Christ is been completed, when the last redeemed one has been brought into God’s family – we will be translated out of this sphere of sin and into His glory, and we shall be like Him then our experience will confirm to our position throughout the unending ages of eternity.

Words of Grace for Strength:

When an individual makes the conscious decision, that they  are standing condemned before God because of their sin nature, needing to accept and acknowledge Jesus Christ as redeemer and Lord, they become justified in God’s sight. This is the first position of the redeemed in the eyes of God. Justification. In other words, because Jesus Christ’s finished work at the cross (His death, burial, and resurrection) offers to everyone who accepts the payment of sin debt; the redeemed individual no longer stands in judgment before God. And so, everyone who accepts the free gift of Salvation, offered through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, experiences Redemption, and Justification.

However, even though we are justified through Jesus Christ, we still possess our old sin nature. We may not necessarily want to sin, but it is still our nature to do so. This is the reason we need Sanctification. What is Sanctification? It is Holiness, the act and process of being set apart unto God by obtaining the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Positionally we were Justified and Sanctified in Jesus Christ when we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior. But because of our sin nature we find ourselves continually falling short of the Holiness we were first placed in. However, by continually communicating with God through prayer, confessing our sin, and diligently studying His Word, we can continue the process of Sanctification.

Sanctification is not an event, it is an act bestowed upon the believer by Jesus Christ, and is a process in which the believer should be constantly involved in order to become more like Jesus Christ. What this means for us is that throughout our lifetime as Christians we continually need to be growing in Jesus Christ, growing both more Christ-like and more Holy. If we are not persistently pursuing Sanctification our Christianity does not simply go dormant, rather we begin to fall farther and farther away from God because we are not in an active relationship with Him. Sanctification is a hard and continuing work, but it is certainly work which we can do in Jesus Christ for our benefit and His good pleasure. When we are properly following Jesus Christ, not only will we be becoming more like Jesus Christ, we will have the proper attitude and desire to serve Him among men.

The last paragraph of Dr. Pentecost’s teaching above tells us that our Sanctification process will come to an end when we see Jesus. 1 John 3:2: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” It is never a function of our life, the span of our lives or the amount of effort or obedience to the Lord that decides when we see Him. It has nothing to do with our times nor our timing. It is all about Him, and the timing established in our Lord’s will as to when each of us is called home individually, or the Father tells the Son to step out onto the clouds and call to His Church, to His Bride, “Come Up!”

I don’t know about y’all but I’m ready for that day. So let’s work our sanctification till Jesus comes and work it fervently…because Jesus is coming soon!

EvenSoCome

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.

Five Is Not Enough

The Bible teaches that ten kings (ten horns or ten leaders) will appear at the end of the age and then an eleventh, a little horn (a little king or a little leader), called the Antichrist will appear (Dan. 7:24; Rev. 17:12). Many outstanding prophecy teachers believe these ten kings will be ten leaders in a reunited Europe. But I disagree because the feet and toes on the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2:41-43) are feet and toes of iron plus clay (not iron by itself). I believe the clay represents nations other than a re-united Europe.

So it is my opinion that the ten kings will be ten rulers over ten groups of nations in the world not ten rulers over ten divisions in a re-united Europe. Put another way, I believe the most powerful of the ten kings will be the king from the Old Roman Empire (iron) and the other nine kings will be rulers over non-Roman Empire groups of nations (clay). I believe the ten kings will rule over a world government (iron plus clay) not just a reunited Europe (iron).

It seems significant to me that the UN Charter calls for the establishment of a world government with administrative regions. It doesn’t say how many regions the UN wants in its desired world government, but based on the Bible I believe that the world will wind-up with ten regions and each region will have its own leader (or king) for a total of ten leaders (or ten kings). After the ten kings appear, an eleventh king known as the Antichrist will appear. But the Rapture will be before that (II Thess. 2:6-8).

At this time, the UN Security Council has five permanent members with veto power, but most of the other nations don’t like that. They say that it is unfair to allow one nation on the UN Security Council to veto resolutions that have been passed in the UN General Assembly by a hundred or more other nations. They say that it is unfair to allow one nation (the U.S.) to block General Assembly resolutions against Israel or to allow one nation (Russia) to block General Assembly resolutions against Syria or Iran that have been passed by most of the world.

For years, some of these General Assembly nations have called for the UN Security Council to be restructured. But the five permanent members of the UN Security Council have always ignored their call and steadfastly refused to restructure and give up their veto power.

On Sept. 29, 2014 during the sixty-ninth Session of the UN General Assembly, Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey addressed the issue and said, “The world is bigger than five.” Leaders from all over the world agreed with him and they called for the immediate restructuring of the UN Security Council. But there was more. They also called for the UN to create regions in the world and to have leaders to represent those regions.

I have no way of knowing what the five permanent members of the UN Security Council will do or when they will do it. They may continue to ignore the call of the General Assembly nations to expand the number of permanent members in the UN Security Council and to create regions with regional leaders, or they may stop ignoring them and finally come around and do what the General Assembly is asking them to do. But I will say that it is just my opinion that the UN Security Council will soon restructure into ten groups or regions of nations.

Globalists are already pushing for the creation of regional groups of nations in North Africa and South America patterned after the European Union. Russia and several other nations have already signed a document creating a group of nations called the Eurasian Economic Union. Brazil, India and others are already saying that their growing economic clout accompanied by the economic problems in Europe and Asia means that they should be given a greater voice in the world. And in July 2014, more than 130 nations signed a document called a “New World Order to Live By.”

So at some point I believe change will come to the UN. That change will be followed by the rise of the Antichrist. And his appearance will be preceded by the Rapture.

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

This Generation

The disciples asked Jesus, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3)?

After several comments, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34).

Controversy surrounds what He said. Some say “this generation” means the generation that was alive when Jesus was speaking. Most who believe this way spiritualize the Bible. They say Jesus came back about 2,000 years ago and that His return was a spiritual return. Others say “this generation” means the generation that sees “all these things” that Jesus had just mentioned in Matthew chapter 24. Most who believe this way take the Bible literally. And they say the return of Jesus is still future. It seems more likely that this second group is right.

For one thing, Jesus talked about “the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the Holy place” (Matthew 24:15). That didn’t happen in the generation Jesus was speaking to. But it will happen in the future when the Antichrist defiles the rebuilt Temple 3½ years after a seven-year covenant for peace in the Middle East. There’s no evidence of a seven-year covenant for peace in the Middle East when Jesus said these things.

For another thing, Jesus talked about “great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world, no nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). It’s a stretch to say that 70 A.D. was worse than the Flood, worse than WWI, worse than WW II, worse than the Holocaust, or worse than anything that will happen in the future.

For another thing, Jesus said, “Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matthew 24:21). No one came close to destroying the Roman Empire or everyone on earth in 70 A.D. There’s no evidence that Jesus came back and prevented anything like this from happening.

For another thing, Jesus said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:29-31). There’s no evidence of a darkened sun and moon, falling stars, everyone seeing Jesus, everyone on earth mourning, trumpets sounding, and all the elect being gathered together in 70 A.D.

Finally, Jesus told the parable of the fig tree (Matthew 24:32). Many commentators believe the fig tree represents Israel. Many believe that Jesus was saying when you see Israel back in the land know that the Second Coming is near. Israel had to be destroyed before she could come back into being.

How Long is “This Generation”
The Bible is vague and speculation abounds on this. After many years of saying we don’t know how long a generation is, this ministry has turned to saying, “We believe the terminal generation started in 1948 and it is our opinion that it will last 70 to 80 years.”

The major reason for this change is that we have a better understanding of Psalm 90. It is the first of eleven Psalms that were written by Moses. Many believe it’s the oldest Psalm in the Bible. It begins with a comment about all generations. Moses said, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations” (Psalm 90:1). It talks about God forming or creating the earth (Psalm 90:2). It says, “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4). Peter said it this way, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (II Peter 3:8). Psalm 90 makes a reference to the Flood and the brevity of life (Psalm 90:4-8). It turns to a discussion of our days and years (Psalm 90:9). Then, Moses said, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10). We will come back to this, but for the time being let’s stick to the remainder of the Psalm. It mentions the anger and wrath of God which could be a reference to the Tribulation Period (Zephaniah 1:14-15; Revelation 6:16-17). It asks God to teach us to number our days that we may use our precious days wisely (Psalm 90:12). It calls upon the Lord to return which could be a reference to the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation Period and asks how long it will be (Psalm 90:13). Then, it closes with four verses that can well be applied to the Millennium (Psalm 90:14-17).

Now, let’s go back to verse 10 which reads, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten (70 years); and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years (80 years), yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” We are not predicting a date, but assuming that the terminal generation started in 1948, and it will be 70 to 80 years long, it appears that God will fulfill everything including the Rapture, Tribulation Period and Second Coming, in 70 or perhaps up to 80 years (by 2018, but He may delay up to 2028). If one subtracts seven years (from 2018 or up to 2028) for the Tribulation Period, and an unspecified amount of time for the period between the Rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation Period, it’s obvious that the Rapture could happen any time.

Prophecy Plus Ministries
Daymond & Rachel Duck

Editors Note: While we at EvenSoCome and Rafter Cross Ministries agree with the teaching on the length of a Biblical “generation” we are not necessarily in agreement with Daymond’s assumption that 1948 began the “terminal generation” of time. No one except God the Father knows the time the Rapture will take place, therefore we refrain from “date setting.”  Nonetheless, the teaching of the imminence of the Rapture is true, and we as the Church should be looking for Christ’s return.

American Religion

In the book of Acts chapter 17 we find the apostle Paul in the city of Athens, in Roman occupied Greece near the middle of the first century. In verse 16 we read that Paul’s spirit was stirred in him when he saw that the city was “wholly given to idolatry.”

In a close examination of that statement we find that literally, the city was inundated with idols and the practice of idolatry. Petronius, a Greek satirist and a contemporary of the apostle Paul remarked that in Athens one could find a god easier than a man.

And Pausanias, another contemporary of the apostle, said that Athens had more idols and altars than the rest of Greece combined. Here Paul encountered two groups of philosophers:

The Epicureans who had given up the search for truth and instead focused their lives on seeking pleasure. And the Stoics who maintained that self-sufficiency and self-reliance could fulfill all of man’s desires, and that he had need of nothing outside of self.

Luke, in his description of the Athenians said they spent their time either telling or hearing some “new thing.” In other words their lives were completely occupied with an insatiable obsession for the latest gossip, discoveries, philosophies, technologies, entertainment, and other forms of pleasure.

On the whole then, the Athenians were a self-absorbed people whose gods existed to bring them pleasure, and in fact, they even had an altar to the “unknown” god, just in case they had left a god out. They certainly didn’t want to offend him.

Having been invited to speak by the philosophers so that they might examine his teaching, Paul spoke to the crowd from Mars Hill. The apostle Paul’s remarks to the Athenians were such that he perceived them to be very religious.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word religious as:

  1. A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
  2. A specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Buddhist religion; the Christian religion; the Muslim religion, the Jewish religion; etc…
  3. The body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
  4. The practice of religious beliefs; ritual observances.

Understand, although they believed he was being complementary—Paul was not giving them a compliment. You see, the apostle at one point in time had been part of a religious sect of the Jews called the Pharisees. But after his conversion on the road to Damascus he no longer followed a religion, for he had a relationship with Jesus Christ, the very Son of God.

In fact, Paul was condemning them for their ritual observances which, devoid of faith, were no more than exercises in self-satisfaction. However, Paul used their religiosity to declare to them the identity of the “unknown” God to whom they had built an altar.

In Athens of the first century, I see a picture of the United States of America as it is today. This is a land filled with idols and altars to innumerable gods. America is a land filled with religiousness, yet devoid of faith. Like the Epicureans and Stoics, Americans are seekers of pleasure and are self-indulgent in their pursuit of materialism, success and self-glorification.

I believe the apostle Paul describes the condition of Americans today in Philippians 3:18-19:

“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”

Many people worship in stadiums, arenas, ballparks, and every other type of sports venue with little gods in uniforms to whom they pay homage. Many others worship in concert halls, theaters, and nightclubs paying homage to musicians and vocalists—whose self-absorbed lives are idolized and aggrandized.

Still many others worship in theaters or in their own homes before altars which are screens showing digital images and stories, which for the most part are filled with fantasy or debauchery and filth—portrayed by actors devoid of morals and any sense of personal accountability.

In America, there are those who worship at the altar of money, some who worship at the altar of fame, some who worship at the altar of politics, some who worship at the altar of education, some who worship at the altar of environmentalism, some who worship at the altar of sex and pornography.

And some who worship at the altars of alcohol and drugs, some who worship at the altar of compromise and tolerance and inclusiveness, and there are some who worship at the altar of atheism and secular humanism. And, in many ways these are all worshiping at the altar of self.

In America today there are many forms of religion from every corner of the earth. There are deists, pantheists, monotheists, polytheists, panentheists, animists, agnostics and atheists. Some of which hope to pacify; others who hope to proselytize. Others who hope to marginalize, and still others who simply desire to enslave or eliminate anyone who does not adhere to their form of religion.

In America today, most churches are institutionalized memorials to religiosity, populated by people who either are seeking approval for their own actions and ideologies, blindly following the unscriptural tenants and teachings of false teachers and false prophets, or are simply going through the motions of ritualistic religion.

For all of the altars at which people worship in America today, unfortunately I have yet to find an altar to the “unknown” god such as the apostle Paul found in Athens. In fact, in America today people seem to be completely satisfied worshiping at the altars of their self-made idols and hedonistic gods.

However the infinite, eternal, God whom Paul declared to the Athenians, is still the immutable, incomparable, inscrutable, unfathomable, unsearchable, transcendent, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, righteous, just, gracious, holy, and sovereign God today. He is the Creator God of the universe who made Man; rather than an idol or object made by Man, who is dependent on Man.

He is the righteous God, who in His sovereignty, yet, requires payment for Man’s sinful rebellion which began with Adam in the garden. He is the gracious God, who provided that payment when His own Son, Jesus Christ, paid the sin debt of all who will believe on Him, by His death on the cross, burial and resurrection.

He is a Holy God, who has provided the Holy Spirit of Christ to indwell everyone who has believed on Jesus, as their Comforter and Teacher. He is a just God, who has appointed a day when everyone in the world will stand in judgment by His Son, if they have not repented of their sinfulness and accepted His free gift of grace.

Today in America (and the world) there needs to be a spiritual revival which causes people to turn away from their self-centered idolatry and worldliness, and turn to the infinite, eternal, creator God of the Bible.

Time is growing short, God could at any time tell Jesus to call out His children, His church; and that my friends will set in motion a chain of events which will culminate with Christ’s return in power and great glory to judge the earth and all of its inhabitants.

Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? Have you, like the apostle Paul, turned away from religion and embraced a relationship with Jesus Christ? If not, I invite you to read the following verses from the book of Romans in God’s Holy Bible.

Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 3:10: “As it is written: ‘THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE.’”

Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 10:9-10:  “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Romans 10:13: “For ‘WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.’”

Romans 8:1-2: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

These verses are commonly known as the Romans Road to salvation. It is a starting point for developing a true relationship with Jesus Christ. He really does desire a relationship with you, which through the study of and obedience to His word, will cause you to grow closer to Him and prepare you to really live.

If you understand these verses in Romans and believe them to be true, and if you desire to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, establishing that relationship with Him, it would be good for you to communicate this with Him through prayer. Understand, that your faith in Christ establishes your salvation, while your prayer begins your relationship in Christ.

The prophet Jeremiah also left an important message for you:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you” (Jeremiah 29:10-12).

Remember, reciting a prayer cannot save you! If your desire is to receive the salvation that is available through Jesus, you must simply place your faith in Him. Totally trust His death as the sufficient sacrifice for your sins. Absolutely rely on Him alone as your Savior. That is the true biblical way of salvation.

If you have received Jesus as your Savior, please, say a prayer to God. Pray in your own words acknowledging the verses in Romans above. Tell God how thankful you are for Jesus. Offer praise to God for His love and sacrifice. Thank Jesus for dying for your sins and providing salvation for you. That is the biblical connection between salvation and prayer.

If you have made a decision today to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, we would love to hear from you. Send me an email with a way to contact you and we will send you information on how to grow in your relationship in Christ. Like the gift of salvation, the information is free.

“Because the night is far spent, and the day is at hand!” (Romans 13:12a).

EvenSoCome

Dr. Tucker Whitaker

drwhitaker@ymail.com