Archive for the ‘Bible Study’ category

Clean

May 15, 2016

I encourage you to spend a few minutes with Moments for You for the second quarter of 2016. The theme is “clean,” and all of the articles deal with such things as being cleansed by God and how we must live clean and holy lives.

You might also enjoy Clean Before My Lord, by Honeytree.

Advertisements

Resurrection and reunion in the Rapture

September 20, 2015

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

I listened to a famous radio preacher speak on the Rapture, or being caught up, from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. He did a good job of it, but I take issue with him on one matter. It’s his handling of verse 14. His view is commonly held, so mentioning his name would serve no purpose.

He muddled through his explanation of this verse, but his commentary was contradictory and unclear. I wondered how many of his listeners were like me and found themselves unsatisfied.

You may be asking whether I think I can give a better explanation than a world famous, seminary-trained preacher. The answer is yes, or I wouldn’t write this. All I ask is that you follow me to the end of this piece and draw whatever conclusion God leads you to.

The concept expressed by the preacher is a familiar one. We’ve all heard it. It says that the dead in Christ are now in heaven, but somehow need to be brought back from there at the Rapture to be reunited with their bodies in resurrection.

But, I must ask, if dead believers are in heaven in some glorified form, as most believe, why bother with the retrieval of decayed bodies?

This brings up the question of what death really means. Allow a brief digression, which some may find upsetting; but I need to lay ground work for what follows.

Death is the cessation of life. For the believer, our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and we will be resurrected to eternal life. That eternal life can’t begin at death, or death isn’t really death.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul’s focus is on resurrection. No mention is made of the dead being in some kind of soulish, intermediate state.

Back to 1 Thessalonians 4:14. In the King James Bible the verse says, For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

When we look at the first part of that sentence, the focus is on resurrection. The thought is that, if Christ was resurrected, shouldn’t we expect the dead to be resurrected, too? Indeed, those who have died as believers will be resurrected at the great catching away. They’re not gone forever.

Paul reassures his readers in these latter verses of 1 Thessalonians 4that, at the Rapture, we who are alive will be reunited with those believers who have died before us.

But let’s hone in a bit more on 1 Thessalonians 4:14. I believe resurrection, not reunion of the body with the soul, is how we must see this verse.

I owe a debt of grattitude to my late friend Gerald Franz for helping to clarify the meaning of this verse. He wrote a piece called Who Does the Bringing? In it he quoted from the New International Version of the Bible, which helps shed light here. It says…

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

In the Rapture Jesus will come in the clouds as promised in Acts 1:9-11. It is He who resurrects the dead in Christ first and takes them with Him. Immediately following is the catching up of those of us who are believers and still alive at the time of the event.

In other words, Christ doesn’t bring believers from heaven to be reunited with their dead bodies in resurrection, only to take them back up. He endows the dead bodies of believers with life, and brings them to heaven.

Those who will ascend to heaven are the resurrected dead in Christ as well as those of us believers who are alive at the time of the event. We will all meet Him in the clouds.

But where does God fit into the picture? After all, He’s the one who’s mentioned in the KJV translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:14. It is He who empowers Christ and brings all of us together–along with Jesus–to be with Him in heaven.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at what Jesus told Martha in John 11:25-26, which says…

25.Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26.And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Let’s not overlook the obvious. We have to be dead to be resurrected. Once resurrected, we shall never die because we’ll have eternal life.

And it’s all because Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Those of us who die as believers–we’re in Christ–can put our full confidence in Him for raising us from the dead.

John 14:2-3 makes sense when seen in this light. It says…

2.In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

If we’re already in heaven when we die, why does He have to come back for us?

Because we’re not in heaven immediately after death. Neither are we in hell or some other place of limbo. But that’s another matter I won’t get into here.

At the Rapture, the dead in Christ will be raised from the dead as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 points out. It’s just that simple.

Of course, the good news for those of us who are alive at the time of the Rapture, or catching away, means we won’t have to be concerned with being resurrected.

As Paul exhorts in 1 Thessalonians 4:18, we should comfort one another with these wonderful truths.

What’s Up With Baptism for the Dead?

March 8, 2015

A friend who grew up in a foster home was subjected to Mormonism during her youth. Thankfully, she broke away from that; but she’s still perplexed by certain things she was taught. For example, the other day she asked what I thought the Scriptures taught about baptism for the dead, which is a part of Mormon practices.

I remembered seeing a verse somewhere about this, and I thought I recalled it was in one of Paul’s epistles. So I did a little research. Since I had to put my thoughts into writing in an e-mail to my friend about this, I thought I’d share what I discovered with you as well, for whatever it’s worth.

1 Corinthians 15:29 in the KJv says, Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

This is an odd verse. But before I did any research, my first thought was that a person has to be alive to be baptized. Only a living person can accept Christ and afterward give evidence of that through the symbolic act of baptism. While that’s true, I saw two other views on this topic which go beyond that.

One view says Paul was referring to a pagan group who practiced baptism for the dead near Corinth. He was discouraging the Corinthians from doing this. If Paul did indeed have a pagan group in mind, then apparently even they believed in some kind of resurrection, as shown by the fact that they practiced baptism for the dead. That was further proof for Paul’s case that there is indeed resurrection, since even pagans expected it.

The other view made the observation that, since the theme and emphasis of that whole chapter of the Bible is resurrection, then verse 29 has resurrection in mind, too, and it shouldn’t be taken out of context. Obviously, one has to be dead to be resurrected. Baptism symbolizes burial and resurrection. If there’s no resurrection, then what’s the point of the symbol of baptism?

All in all,Paul makes the reference in verse 29 to add to his case for the reality of resurrection. It’s weird and sad that cults latch on to a verse in the Bible and run with it to come up with some bizarre practice.

Peter–A Humbling Life and Example

June 1, 2014

The life of Peter is an interesting one. He was one of Jesus’ most vocal disciples. He was passionate and didn’t do anything half way, from attempting to walk on water to his denial of Christ. It’s notable that Christ singled him out for forgiveness, and we soon see Peter as one of the leaders in the early church. He went on to write two short epistles, lleaving us with a remarkable legacy as part of God’s holy word. It’s truly humbling to contemplate Peter’s ups and downs.

Many years ago when I was in Bible college, the dean of men said I was like Peter with my youthful passionate outbursts. When I look back on that, I can only hope he saw something beyond zeal. It brings tears to my eyes when I think of how God can choose someone like me for any kind of use for His glory. Have you had such thoughts, too?

“Moments for You” for the second quarter of 2014 is available and worth the read because the theme is Peter. I strongly recommend you view it here. You’ll receive a blessing.

Israel is Israel, and That’s That

April 6, 2014

Many Christians are under the mistaken notion that we in the Body of Christ have replaced Israel as the recipients of all of God’s blessings. It’s taught in many mainline denominations, implicitly or explicitly. However, it’s not true. Rather than try to explain this myself, please see an excellent teaching and overview entitled The Error of Replacement Theology.

It’s About the Resurrection, Stupid

March 30, 2014

Remember the slogan President Clinton used in his campaign for office in the early 1990’s? “It’s the economy, Stupid.” They boiled big issues down into one brazen, attention grabbing statement.

So, when it comes to death, I’d say, “It’s the resurrection, stupid.” No disrespect intended to you who read this, of course.

But there’s so much error and wrong emphasis on what happens when someone dies. When I die and wake up in heaven, it may be that years have passed. I do not believe the Scriptures teach there’s some sort of intermediate state I’ll go into when I die. Paul’s teachings in 1 Corinthians 15 make that quite plain.

So what about hell and eternal punishment for the wicked? The word translated “hell” in the Scriptures, particularly in the King James Version, in reality means nothing more than the grave. That’s the first death. Revelation 20:14 refers to a second death–the end of all death.

Here’s the crux of the matter. I’m convinced we don’t take death seriously enough. We don’t realize what it really means. One day when we as believers are in Glory, we’ll see the stark difference between the eternal life we’ll have then and eternal death. We’ll see that death is indeed the cessation of existence, and that that is the ultimate punishment–the worse punishment possible.

When Paul refers to death having a sting, he’s not kidding. Death is meant to be painful in this present world. Grief is justified. We’re reminded rather brutally of man’s fall as told in Genesis 3.

But there’s hope for those who are believers in Jesus Christ. Thank God for victory over death through resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:19-22, 26, 45, 50-57
19. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
20. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive….
26. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death….
45. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit….
50. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56. The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Revelation 20:14
14. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Philippians 3:10-14
10. That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11. If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
12. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Thoughts on Daniel

June 9, 2013

“Moments for You” is out for the second quarter of 2013 and focuses on the book of Daniel. It’s worth your time to read these brief articles. Go here.