Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Finish It!

The Brooklyn Bridge, which links Brooklyn to Manhattan Island, is one of the most famous bridges in the world.  At the time it was first conceived in 1883, however, bridge-building experts throughout the world told the designer, a creative engineer by the name of John Roebling, that his idea wouldn't work.  Roebling convinced his son Washington, who was also an engineer, that his idea had merit.

The two developed the concept, resolved the problems others had forecast, and enthusiastically hired a crew to build their bridge.  After only a few months of building, a tragic on-site accident took John's life and severely injured Washington, who became unable to talk or walk.

Everyone thought the project would have to be abandoned, since the Roeblings were the only ones who knew the dynamics of building the bridge.  Washington, however, could still think, and he had a burning desire to see the bridge finished.  As he lay in his hospital bed, he had an idea.  He would communicate with the engineers by using one finger to tap out in code on his wife's arm what he wanted her to tell them.

Washington tapped out his instructions for 13 years until the bridge was built!  Leaders are not only self-starters, they are finishers.  The apostle Paul urges us, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6:9).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What Is Faith?

The book of Hebrews names an element that is absolutely essential to the development of the Christian life --- the quality of faith.  Chapter 11 focuses on faith by giving a description of it as well as supplying several demonstrations of it.  The first three verses focus on the ingredients of faith.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the men of old gained approval.  By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible (NASB).
From this we learn that faith is not merely positive thinking; neither is it just a hunch that is followed.  Faith is not simply hoping for the best; neither is it solely a feeling of optimism.  Faith does not possess the quality of believing in something in spite of the evidence.  That would be superstition.
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.  It is to the Christian what the foundation is to a house.  It gives confidence and assurance that will stand and support the superstructure.  Faith is the conviction of things not seen.  That which is seen is not the whole explanation of life.  There are realities that cannot be seen, weighed, measured, analyzed, or touched; yet, they are as real and vital as anything we can see.
Several examples are given in this chapter of people who lived in the same kind of world in which we live and were confronted with the same problems we face; yet, they mastered their problems and overcame great obstacles through their faith.  Consider some of the marks of their faith that we need to develop in our lives.
GENUINE FAITH ALWAYS ACTS.  It doesn’t sit around and do nothing.  Note that Abel offered (vs. 4), Noah prepared (vs. 7), Abraham obeyed (vs. 8), Sarah conceived (vs. 11), Isaac blessed (vs. 20), Moses’ parents hid him for three months (vs. 23), Moses refused (vs. 24), left Egypt (vs. 27), kept the Passover (vs. 28), Israel passed through the Red Sea (vs. 29), encircled the city of Jericho (vs. 30), and Rahab welcomed the spies (vs. 31).  In every case there was action on the part of those who had faith.
FAITH ANTICIPATES.  Without faith, life would be a blind march into mystery.  Faith gives to life a goal and purpose.  Abraham lived as an alien in the land God promised him for he anticipated a heavenly city (vv. 8-10).  Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph anticipated by faith that which was beyond their present experience (vv. 20-22).  The Christian, in like manner, anticipates ultimate victory in Christ (Rev. 2:10) and eagerly awaits his eternal home (John 14:1-3).
FAITH RISKS.  The person of genuine faith gladly sacrifices any present advantage in order to gain future promises.  Moses risked his material advantage in order to gain something of great reward (vv. 24-28).  He chose the imperishable, saw the invisible, and did the “impossible.”  Such is the nature of faith.
These examples challenge us “set our jaws” that we will be determined to be a people of faith.

Monday, October 28, 2013

What Are the Responsibilities of Parents?

I don’t know that our culture is different from any other, but, undoubtedly, there is a major break-down in family relationships.  Our nation has one of the highest divorce rates of any nation in the world.  Unfortunately, we have many orphans with parents.  This is due to rampant parental neglect.  Rebellion on the part of children seems to be more common.  Misbehavior, disrespect, and apathy about God, education, and career goals seem to be more predominant than in previous generations.  There are many contributing factors to this social ill, but the answers cannot be found in government funding or studies.  However, God’s word addresses the matter of parental responsibility.
First, God says that parents are to PROVIDE FOR THEIR CHILDREN“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8, NASV).  Of course, this includes those things that are needful for sustaining their life and spirit, but it involves more.  Well-rounded training would include their intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual development (cf. Lk. 2:52).  Proper reading and viewing material should be made available.  Adequate nourishment and sleep as well as their emotional stability are a part of their physical needs.  A proper environment for the development of a child’s self-reliance, respect, and courtesy should be provided.  Of supreme importance is that of providing nourishment for their faith and knowledge of God’s word.
Second, parents should SET PROPER EXAMPLES FOR THEIR CHILDREN TO FOLLOW.  Aaron was a great man, but he made a tragic error after the Israelites were rescued from Egyptian bondage.  While his brother, Moses, was on Mt. Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, Aaron assisted the people in building a golden calf and worshipping it as a god (Ex. 32).  In later years, his sons, Nadab and Abihu, manifested that same lack of reverence for God when they used unauthorized fire in their fire pans (Lev. 10).  King David committed grievous sin when he had an affair with Bathsheba and had her husband, Uriah, killed on the battlefield to cover up his adultery (2 Sam. 11).  His son, Absalom, followed in the murderous and adulterous path his father had left behind (2 Sam. 13:30; 16:22).  Parents, if you don’t want your children to be guilty of profanity, vulgarity, or dishonesty, don’t engage in such yourself.  One of the greatest compliments God paid Abraham reflected His confidence that Abraham would lead his children properly (Gen. 18:19).  There is no greater heritage that parents can leave their children than that of “walking in the truth” of God’s word (2 Jn. 4).
Third, the PROPER EXERCISE OF DISCIPLINE is one of the great responsibilities God has placed on the shoulders of parents.  ‘Train up a child in the way he should go…” (Prov. 22:6).  There are two ways in which a child can go – the way in which he would go, headlong to ruin; and the way in which he should go, the pathway to heaven.  The direction a child goes in life is greatly dependent on the training he receives.  The earlier the training he receives, the easier the work, and the more encouraging the results.  Present neglect leads to later risk and perplexity.  Our character largely takes the form of that mold into which our early years were cast.  Training is not accomplished by merely telling.  A good example, wise instruction, and corrective discipline is a part of the training that should be provided.
Fourth, parents should LOVE THEIR CHILDREN.  Paul admonished older women to train younger women “to love their children” (Titus 2:4).  One would think that such love is only natural when people bring another life into the world.  It is, but it is often the case that parents don’t manifest proper love to their children.  Children are often abused, neglected, or viewed as a nuisance.  A good source for discovering the kind of love parents should manifest toward their children is 1 Corinthians, chapter 13.
The physical capability of bearing offspring does not make one a good parent.  There is much more to being a successful parent than just bringing another person into the world.  Perhaps the above suggestions will assist in making us better parents.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What Relationships Should Describe Marriage?

Marriage is one of the most important relationships in life as evidenced by the fact that God himself established the home (Gen. 2).  Marriage, however, is not a requirement of redemption.  One can be unmarried or married and still be saved eternally.  However, if one chooses to marry, there are certain qualities that will enrich the relationship.
In marriage, the husband and wife BELONG TO ONE ANOTHER.  When two people marry, all flirtations with others should cease because they have made a commitment to each other to be faithful (1 Cor. 7:4-5; Heb. 13:4).  This commitment goes beyond the physical relationship and involves a mutual sharing of joys and sorrows (Rom. 12:15).  Even possessions are not a “his and hers” proposition, but of joint ownership.
The husband and wife should truly LOVE ONE ANOTHER.  Paul compared it to the love that Christ had for the church when he died for it (Eph. 5:25).  It is a love that is ignited, fueled, and fanned by one’s will (1 Cor. 13:4-7).  It motivates a person to go to a concert or on a shopping spree with their mate, when they would rather be doing something else.  It endures when the excitement of romantic love fades and the responsibilities of family life become mere duty.  One young man, whose parents frequently moved due to job responsibilities, remarked to his schoolmates, “We have a home; we just don’t have a house to put it in.”  More than likely, genuine love can be found in that home.
Marriage partners need to learn to BE CONTENT WITH ONE ANOTHER.  Contentment is a learned attitude, according to Paul (Phil. 4:11).  Husbands should be content with the role God has assigned them.  They are to be the breadwinners for the family (1 Tim. 5:8).  God has appointed them as the head of the home (Eph. 5:23).  The husband and father should be the spiritual guide for the entire family (1 Pet. 3:7; Eph. 6:4).  Likewise, wives should be content with the role God has given them.  Theirs is not an inferior, but a supportive, role (Eph. 5:22, 24; 1 Pet. 3:1-4).  As such, they wield tremendous influence.  It is through their mothers that men receive the ideals of the past.  It is through their wives that men receive inspiration for the present.  It is through their daughters that men receive hope for the future.  A woman has the unique knack of making the most humble shack a beautiful home.  She can make the most common food a sumptuous feast.  She can turn the cloudiest day into a beautiful sunset.  Contentment is invaluable to the joy experienced in marriage.
The husband and wife should BE OF SPIRITUAL HELP TO ONE ANOTHER.  Marrying a Christian is important in being able to accomplish this.  Helping one another spiritually along the road to heaven ought to be the goal of every marriage (1 Cor. 7:16).  The plot of Ananias and Sapphira might have had a different ending if they had been more concerned about helping one another please God instead of trying to impress men (Acts 5:1-10).  Instead they were in collusion in their attempted deception.  There is no more beautiful picture than seeing husband and wife serving Jesus together, worshipping together, and praying together.  Are you a spiritual complement to your mate?
Husbands and wives need to BE FORGIVING OF ONE ANOTHER.  Everyone has weaknesses and will make mistakes.  That is only a part of being human.  We have a choice in marriage.  We can either magnify the weaknesses and mistakes of our mate or we can be willing to forgive and overlook them.  True love “…pays no attention to a suffered wrong” (1 Cor. 13:5, Amp).  It does not allow a mistake to become a source of irritation that erodes the relationship between husband and wife.  Forgiveness lifts the burden of guilt from the soul of the wrongdoer and takes bitterness from the heart of the one who extends it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Where Are You, Spiritually?

      One of the most interesting parables Jesus told reveals the spiritual condition of every person in the world.  It is known as the Parable of the Sower and is related in Matthew 13.  The parable describes four different kinds of soil upon which seed is sown.  The productivity of the seed is directly related to the condition of the soil in which it is sown.  The seed represents the word of God (Lk. 8:11) and the soil represents the heart of man.  Usually the parable is applied to the non-Christian and his response to the gospel.  It also has merit in its application to Christians.  Let’s examine the parable noting the reception given the gospel.

      The WAYSIDE soil represents those who are so hardened by sin that the seed of God’s word cannot penetrate (Matt. 13:4, 19).  The human heart can be so hardened by pride, prejudice, inactivity, lethargy, mental laziness, or mental arrogance that the gospel is not allowed to bear fruit.  Christians who fall away from God can even become so hardened they cannot any longer be touched by the compassion of God or the appeal of the gospel (Heb. 6:6).  At one time in their life, they were moved by the saving message of the gospel and obeyed it.  Over time, they have allowed sin to so desensitize them that they cannot be reached (Heb. 3:13).  How sad!
      The ROCKY soil represents the superficial hearer who lacks spiritual depth (Matt. 13:5-6, 20-21).  A tree with a vast root system pulls moisture from the soil.  The spiritual root system of a Christian is developed in private Bible study, prayer, and faithful attendance to the worship assemblies.  Some Christians fail to make these activities a part of their life and, thus, fail to develop spiritually.  Like the Galatians (Gal. 5:7), they started out well, full of excitement for the cause of Christ, but they did not grow and develop.  They are spiritually malnourished.
      The THORNY soil represents the crowded heart, that is the heart that has become so concerned about the things of the world that the word of God has been relegated to the background in life (Matt. 13:7, 22).  If you have ever raised a garden or planted a crop, you know that it is not necessary to cultivate weeds.  They grow without any attention being given to them.  In fact, you constantly have to be pulling or hoeing them to prevent them from taking over.  In his application of this parable, Jesus mentions a trio of antagonists that will take over a person’s life if attention is not given to preventing their development.  (1) “The worry of the world” refers to a score of interests which are legitimate in themselves, but which are allowed to dominate life to the exclusion of God.  Participation in sports activities, hobbies, and career advancement are among them.  (2) “The deceitfulness of riches” squelches the spiritual appetite of many.  Materialism is, indeed, deceitful.  It entices one to believe that the accumulation of material things in life will produce happiness, a reduction in worry, and a generally care-free life, but it most often produces unhappiness and greater stress.  It crowds out spiritual pursuits and leaves a vast emptiness behind.  (3) Luke’s account of this parable adds a third antagonist, “The pleasures of life” (Luke 8:14).  There are many things in life that are pleasurable, but that doesn’t mean they are righteous.  Simply because something may make a person feel good does not mean that it is the right thing to do.  This is not to say that serving God is not a pleasurable experience.  It is the most pleasant and joyful thing a person can do.  However, pursuing the pleasures of life can dull spiritual sensitivity and crowd God out.  Christ warns his disciples of the dangers these “weeds” present.
      The GOOD soil represents those who receive the gospel, continue to grow and produce spiritual fruit in their lives (Matt. 13:8, 23).  These are the people who have committed themselves to the Lord and do not look back (Lk. 9:62).  They steadily pursue developing those attributes that will make them fruitful in the service of God: virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (2 Pet. 1:5-8).
      The Samaritan woman in Sychar (John 4) illustrates all four kinds of soil.  At first, she was antagonistic to Christ (vs. 9).  The shallowness of her spiritual understanding becomes evident in verse 15.  Her crowded heart (vs. 19-20) grew into a good heart when she acknowledged faith in Christ (vs. 25).  She bore much fruit by telling her fellow citizens about Christ (vs. 29-30).  As a result, many of them became disciples of Jesus (vs. 39-42). 
      At different times in our lives we may be represented by any one of these types of soil, but we can change.  Where do you fit in the story?  Where are you, spiritually?  Is it where you want to stay?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What Should One Bring to the Marriage Altar?

In Scheswig, Germany, a girl proves she is ready for marriage by being able to jump across a certain stream of water.  In Nepal, a young girl must hike two miles uphill with a baby on her back to show she is ready to be a wife.  In many cultures, however, there are no preparations or requirements that must be met before marriage is entered.  An individual must prove his capability to drive a car before obtaining a driver’s license.  A person is required to meet certain regulations before he is licensed to fly an airplane.  One must complete certain course requirements and a residency before he is allowed to practice medicine.  However, many people conclude that letting “nature take its course” is all the preparation needed for marriage.  This conclusion is faulty as evidenced by the number of marriages that end in divorce.  What are some qualities that need to be brought to the marriage altar?
A firm commitment.  A young man wanted duplicate copies of his girlfriend’s picture; so, she took the photo to a photographer to have copies made.  The photographer noticed the following inscription on the back of the picture: “My dearest Tim, I love you with all of my heart.  I love you more and more each day.  I will love you forever and ever.  I am yours for eternity.”  Signed, Diane.  “P.S. If we ever break up, I want this picture back.”  Unfortunately, many enter marriage with no firm intention to make it last.  Their thinking is that if things don’t go well, the marriage can be dissolved and the same process can be repeated until the “right one” comes along.  Zane Alexander wrote a book, the title of which expresses the faulty view many take regarding the commitment of marriage, Till Death Do Us Part or Something Else Comes Up.  Jesus affirmed God’s design for marriage from the beginning when He said that a man is to leave his parental ties and cleave to his wife (Mt. 19:5).  One husband who understood this commitment said to his wife, “I will never leave you.  Others may come and go in your life but I never will.  For any reason.  Ever.  If you wrinkle, I will love you.  If you fail, I will stay with you.  If you get sick, I will feed you, bathe you, sit up with you – anything – except leave you.  I will never leave you.”  That kind of commitment produces long, happy marriages.
Adequate financial support.  It has often been stated that the number one cause of marital unhappiness is due to the stresses that result from financial strain.  It is true that “two can live as cheaply as one” provided one doesn’t eat!  Learn to live within the limits of your income.  Count the cost (Lk. 14:28) and budget your expenses.  Discipline yourself to live within your means.  Don’t become a victim of easy credit.
A willingness to forgive.  All of us make mistakes.  We sometimes make thoughtless comments that injure or hurt the feelings of our mate.  The family often becomes the object of our frustration due to problems experienced elsewhere.  In such times we need to learn to ask for forgiveness as well as be willing to forgive (Eph. 4:32).  One of the most important phrases of a successful marriage is, “I am sorry.  Please forgive me.”

When considering marriage, it is important to find the right person.  However, it is more important to be the right kind of person yourself.  If you will bring that to the marriage altar, you’ll have greater success.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Rupture of the Rapture

You’ve seen the slogans on bumper stickers: “In case of the rapture this vehicle will be unmanned…The rapture: the only way to fly.”  The concept of the rapture is on the lips and in the thoughts of many people today.  Proponents of the dispensational view have boldly and widely preached it.  Many have come to accept it as being true.  Hal Lindsey, author of The Late, Great Planet Earth, described the scene associated with the rapture in these words: “There I was, driving down the freeway and all of a sudden the place went crazy…cars going in all directions and not one of them had a driver.  I mean it was wild!  I think we’ve got an invasion from outer space.”  Richard DeHaan, another proponent of the rapture, described it as a bewildering scene of people who suddenly disappeared without warning.  He said these individuals were snatched (or raptured) by Jesus from earth into heaven.
Dr. Robert Strong provides a concise statement of the rapture doctrine: “By the rapture is meant the sudden and possibly secret coming of Christ in the air to snatch away from the earth the resurrected bodies of those who had died in faith, and with them the living saints.”  It is believed that the saints will be raptured for seven years while sinners on earth experience a period of tribulation after which Jesus will come with His raptured saints and establish an earthly kingdom over which He will reign for one thousand years.  There are several reasons why the doctrine known as the rapture should be rejected.
The Bible does not teach that Christ’s second coming will be in secret.  The secret coming of Christ is a major tenet of rapture proponents.  The Bible declares that when Jesus comes again “every eye shall see him” (Rev. 1:7).  Rather than a secretive event, His second coming is described as a “revelation” and an appearing (2 Thess. 1:7; Heb. 9:28).
The Bible teaches that Christ’s return will be accompanied by audible phenomena.  The trumpet of God shall sound (1 Cor. 15:52), the voice of Jesus will be heard, along with the voice of the archangel (1 Thess. 4:16), and the heavens shall pass away with a great noise (2 Pet. 3:10).
The Bible teaches that Christ’s return will initiate the general resurrection in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come forth (Jn. 5:28-29).  His coming will be marked by the resurrection of both the Christian and the non-Christian at the same time (Acts 24:15).  Rapture advocates proclaim that the resurrection of the just and unjust will be separated by a period of seven years.
The Bible teaches that the preaching of the gospel would continue until the end of time (Matt. 28:19-20).  This could not occur if the rapture doctrine is true.
At Christ’s return the earth and everything in it will be destroyed (2 Pet. 3:10).  There will be no earth for a so-called tribulation period to occur.  Neither will there be an earth left upon which Jesus could reign for a thousand years.
At Christ’s return the Judgment will occur (Matt. 25:31-33).  Everyone will be changed from possessing mortality to immortality (1 Cor. 15:51-53).  Both the living and dead saints and sinners will be rewarded according to their deeds (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 2:6).  The non-Christian will be consigned to hell while the child of God will be welcomed into heaven (Matt. 25:34, 41).
The doctrine of the rapture is the result of man’s vivid imagination.  There is simply no biblical support for the teaching known as the rapture.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Facing Depression

What causes depression?  Chemicals?  Physical imbalance?  Selfishness?  Who knows?  Wish we knew.  I know a remedy, though.  Think about it.  A man was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  He consulted a friend who was very spiritual.  Neither knew the cause of the man's depression.  The wise friend had the solution.

He said, "Try this and I will guarantee you will improve your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health.  Make a list.  List all the people living who have blessed your life.  Then call, visit or write them one by one.  You will never believe what will happen until you try it."

The sick man tried it.  He made a list of over 500 names.  The first was his favorite school teacher...he wrote her an appreciation note.  Then his first boss...his service station attendant, etc.  A letter from his teacher arrived soon, telling him that out of all her students, in 41 years of teaching, his was the first letter of appreciation she had ever received.  She read it daily.  It was about the only "bright" thing left in her life.

Then another letter came, and another.  Soon he was so busy in contact with his friends that he forgot whether he was lonely or not, was depressed or not, sick or not.  He was having a wonderful time "DOING GOOD."

There are three basic needs of any human being and meeting these needs helps to overcome depression:  (1) Self-worth; (2) Intimacy with others; and (3) Intimacy with God.  This curative trilogy can be found entire in one passage (Matthew 22:36-39).  The Lord intended that we love ourselves, love our God, and love our neighbor.  This will help overcome depression because our OUTLOOK would have UP-LOOK and our attention would turn from the INWARD to the OUTWARD.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Who Is The Holy Spirit?

Is the Holy Spirit simply an influence emanating from God?  Is he a power or illumination that God imparts to us?  Or, is he a divine person?  A proper understanding of the identity of the Holy Spirit is critical to properly understanding his work.  A careful study of the Scriptures will bring us to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit is a divine person in the Godhead and should be referred to in that manner.
The Holy Spirit possesses all the attributes of personality.  He is not a mere influence, power, or illumination.  The apostle Paul referred to the knowledge the Holy Spirit has concerning the things of God (1 Cor. 2:10-11).  Reference is made to the mind of the Spirit in Romans 8:27.  The affection of love is attributed to the Holy Spirit in Romans 15:30.  We learn he can be grieved in Ephesians 4:30.  The Holy Spirit has the capability of speaking (1 Tim. 4:1) and teaching (John 14:26).  Paul declared that the Holy Spirit can lead (Rom. 8:14).  On one occasion as least, the Holy Spirit forbade Paul to travel to Asia and Bithynia (Acts 16:6-7).  The Holy Spirit exercised authority in selecting Barnabas and Paul to engage in mission work (Acts 13:2).  It is not the purpose of this article to study the manner in which the Holy Spirit accomplished all these tasks, but merely to point out that these endeavors demand the conclusion that he is a personality and not a glorified “IT.”  It is entirely appropriate, then, to refer to him with personal pronouns, such as “he” and “him.”
The Holy Spirit also possesses the nature of deity.  He is as divine as the Father and the Son are divine.  When Ananias and Sapphira lied regarding their donation to the church, Peter said they lied to the Holy Spirit whom he described as God (Acts 5:4-5).  His deity is affirmed by his possession of all the attributes of deity.  For example, the word eternal is used to describe him (Heb. 9:14).  The Holy Spirit, like the Father and the Son, has neither beginning of days nor end of existence; he is eternal.  As deity, he possesses all knowledge (Jn. 16:12-13), all power  (Lk. 1:35) and is omnipresent (Psa. 139:7-10).  Not only does the Holy Spirit possess all the attributes of deity, but he also performed distinctly divine works.  These attest to his divinity.  For example, the Genesis record relates the Spirit’s involvement in creation (Gen. 1:1-2).  The plural personal pronoun was used when God made man (Gen. 1:26).  This is not to suggest that there was more than one God involved in creation, but that there was more than one personality of the Godhead involved.    Other passages bring to light the Holy Spirit’s role in creation (Psa. 104:30; Job 26:13; 33:4).  Also, the authorship of divine prophecies is attributed to the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21; 2 Sam. 23:2-3).  The Bible, then, is not the result of special insight and wisdom from religiously minded men, but is from God as men were “moved by the Holy Spirit.”  The Holy Spirit’s name is coupled with other members of the Godhead (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14), suggesting equality with them.  His distinction from the Father and the Son becomes clear at the scene of the Lord’s baptism (Lk. 3:21-22).  The incarnate Son was baptized by John in the Jordan River at which time the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove and the Father spoke from heaven.  While all Three possessed the divine nature (deity), they are distinct divine personalities.
The personality traits as well as the works, attributes and achievements of the Holy Spirit show him to be a personality and not an impersonal force.  They also provide clear testimony to his divinity.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Who Is The Antichrist?

Over the years there has been a proliferation of statements from various religious leaders warning men of the coming of the antichrist and the end of time.  A popular description of the antichrist suggests that Christ’s return to the earth will be immediately preceded by the appearance of some powerful political personality who will make a dramatic appearance in history.  One advocate said, “Overnight, he will become the by-word of the world.  He is going to be distinguished as supernatural…He will have a magnetic personality, be personally attractive, and a powerful speaker.”  Through the years the antichrist has been variously identified as Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Kruschev, Castro, Kissinger, and Hussein, among others.  There has never been agreement among proponents as to his identity.
However, the Bible plainly identifies the antichrist and he doesn’t fit the description commonly attributed to him by various religious leaders of today.  The term antichrist is found only five times in scripture and they are all in the epistles of 1st and 2nd John (1 Jn. 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 Jn. 7).  Note the description found on the pages of divinely inspired literature.
First, we learn that the antichrist is a contemporary with the apostle John.  John says that “even now many antichrists have arisen” (1 Jn. 2:18).  He further states, “and now it is already in the world” (1 Jn. 4:3).  John did not speak of him in terms of a person or organization that would exist in some remote future.
Second, we learn that there were many antichrists who lived in John’s day (1 Jn. 2:18; 2 Jn. 7).  Present-day proponents try to attach a single mysterious figure, political ruler, or dictator of our modern era to the identity of the antichrist.  Such attempts are in error.
Third, we learn that the antichrists are former Christians who left the faith.  John mentioned that the antichrists “went out from us…” (1 Jn. 2:19).  In other words, they were individuals who had at one time been of God’s spiritual family, but were no longer so.  They had renounced the gospel by which they were saved.  Thus, the antichrist is not some world political leader who is yet to come.  They were people who were alive in John’s day and had turned away from the Lord’s church.
Fourth, we learn that the antichrist was one who denied the deity of Jesus.  John asks, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?  This is the antichrist…” (1 Jn. 2:22).  Any person, then or now, who denies Christ’s deity is against Him.
Fifth, we learn that the antichrist was one who denied the incarnation of Christ.  John said the person who did not confess that Jesus is come in the flesh is the antichrist (1 Jn. 4:2-3; 2 Jn. 7).  One of the most amazing facts of the redemption story is that the divine Son of God was born of the virgin Mary, lived as a human and died as a human (Phil. 2:5-8).  To deny the humanity of Christ is to be at odds with divine revelation.
Christians need not fear the political, economic, or military developments of the present day.  The Bible does not speak of a world political figure that will suddenly appear on the scene in advance of the second coming of Jesus.  In fact, there will be no “early warning system” in advance of Christ’s coming.  We are urged by Christ to “be ready; for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 24:44).  Just live each day as if it were the last.  By so doing, we prepare ourselves for the end of time.