Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Catechism #50

Q. Will Jesus ever come back to earth?
A. Jesus will not come back to earth during the rapture, but He will at the Second Coming. 

There is a common misconception that Jesus’ second coming and the rapture are the same event. People make comments about when “Jesus comes back to earth at the rapture,” but that will not actually happen.

When describing the rapture Paul said we will “meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17).” Jesus’ feet will not touch down on this planet; instead, we will be “caught up” (which is what rapture means) with Him in the clouds and taken to heaven.

Different people have different views about when the rapture will occur in relation to the Great Tribulation described in Revelation. Some believe the rapture will occur before the Tribulation begins (pre-tribulation), some believe it will occur at the midpoint (mid-tribulation), and others believe it will be after the tribulation has ended (post-tribulation). Despite the differences, it is believed that the Second Coming will occur after the rapture and Great Tribulation.

The Second Coming is when Jesus will finally touch down on Earth, set up the Millennial Kingdom, and destroy Satan for good at the Last Battle. This will usher in eternity, the happily ever after that humanity has longed for. Jesus’ throne will be in New Jerusalem as part of the new earth, and there will be no more curse.

Until then, Satan is the god of this age, the prince of the power of the air. We live on this fallen planet under the curse, but we long for the day when Jesus will rapture the church, and eventually return here to defeat Satan once and for all.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Virgin Doesn't Mean Virgin

One of the most common facts about the Christmas story and the birth of the baby Jesus is the miraculous nature in which He was born—to a virgin.

In both Testaments of the Bible the virgin birth is mentioned; it is prophesied in Isaiah 7:14, then fulfilled in Matthew 1:23. The word virgin is peppered throughout Matthew and Luke’s account of the birth, as well as in Isaiah’s prophecy.

Some like to point out that the word virgin doesn’t just refer to a person who has never had intercourse, but that it can also simply mean a young girl or bride. Does this present a problem to the biblical account? If Mary was not a virgin then the birth of Jesus doesn’t involve the supernatural elements of divinity.

But the truth is that it really doesn’t matter what the word virgin means. Consider a few things.

First, since it was against the law for any unmarried people to engage in intercourse, all young girls were virgins. The terms were interchangeable, and Mary would have been both an abstinent virgin and a young girl.

Second, the prophecy in Isaiah was actually about a young girl, not a virgin. The prophecy wasn’t about Mary at all. Isaiah gave this prophecy to King Ahaz as proof of his message that God would destroy the king’s enemies. The sign of the promise would be that a virgin (or young girl or bride) would have a son and name him Immanuel—“God is with us.” Matthew saw the birth of Jesus as the second fulfillment of this prophecy. If Isaiah’s prophecy were only about Mary, she would have named her baby Immanuel instead of Jesus. Jesus is rightly thought of as Immanuel because God came to mankind, thus making Matthew’s reference all the more meaningful. Isaiah’s prophecy was not a miraculous virgin birth, but a natural birth to a young bride.

Third, Mary referred to herself as a virgin when she asked the angel, “How can this be, seeing I have not known a man (Luke 1:34)?” Forget what the word virgin means for a second—Mary had never slept with a man. We can debate the original word all day, but Mary had never been with Joseph or anyone else.

Finally, if the Bible only teaches that Mary was a young bride and not a virgin, then why did the Holy Spirit place the baby inside her (Luke 1:35); why did Joseph seek to divorce Mary (Matthew 1:19); and why did Joseph refuse to sleep with her until after the baby was born (Matthew 1:25)? Each of those events points back to a virgin birth. Joseph knew he had not impregnated Mary, and he chose to not sleep with her until after the Jesus was born so that it could still be a virgin birth.

Skeptics can play word games to undermine God and His Word, but there is no merit to the claim that the Bible teaches anything other than the virgin birth.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Catechism #49

Q. What is the church?

A.  All those who believe the gospel of Jesus Christ make up the church. 

The Bible never says to go to church.

While that statement might seem shocking, the reality is church is not a place we can go. We are the church. By definition, church refers to the “called out ones.” All who believe the gospel of Jesus Christ make up the church.

We have local church buildings and assemblies, but all true believers are a part of the church. In heaven there isn’t a First Baptist congregation and a Calvary Baptist congregation; there will not be a UMC section or a Pentecostal section; we will all just be the church.

The Bible doesn’t say to go to church, but it does say to not forsake assembling together. Whenever we meet together—whether a Sunday morning service, children’s church, or a small group meeting for coffee and Bible study—we are having a church service.

The church provides accountability, discipleship, education, fellowship, and worship. The church also allows individuals to use their Spiritual gifts to invest in the lives of others. And when we obey God by bringing our tithes into the storehouse, we can do more together than we can do as individuals.

Church is not a place we go and sit; church is a thing we do. If we are truly called out ones, we need to be busy about our calling, bringing the unsaved to Christ and training the saved. 

Don’t go to church. Be the church.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Black Lives Matter

With all the attention surrounding the Michael Brown death and the decision by the Grand Jury to not indict Officer Wilson, protests have erupted across the country.

While many thugs are using this occasion to practice lawlessness and destroy private property, there are also many concerned citizens who are engaging in their Constitutional right to peacefully protest. Many see this as a race game—a white cop can kill any unarmed black kid and get away with it[1].

So the protests are supposed to be standing up for innocent black lives. Black pastors are using their pulpits to call for an indictment, and people ranging from news anchors to NFL players are calling attention to what they say is open season on young black kids.

The average person watching the news might think that the leading cause of death among black people is white cops. Quite the opposite. 93% of black homicides are at the hands of other black people. That should be something to protest about, but it receives little attention. That horrifying statistic is the result of fathers not in the home and the hip hop culture that promotes violence (especially with guns), drugs, and sex out of wedlock. That is the trifecta for poor performance in school, school drop-outs, poverty, and eventually crime.

But the worse stat of all is that the leading cause of death among blacks is not white cops, and it is not other blacks; the leading cause of death among blacks is abortion. More than 13 million black babies have been aborted since Roe v. Wade; that is more deaths than cancer, heart disease, violence, car accidents, and AIDS combined. The other five account for 4 million deaths since 1973—less than ¼ of the deaths caused by abortion.

It bothers me that the pastors and pundits would rather call out Darren Wilson than young girls who abort their own. They would rather rail against the cops than the young men who impregnate girls and flee the scene. They warn their audience about crooked law enforcement, but not about Planned Parenthood, which overwhelmingly moves into poor, black neighborhoods.

Don’t misunderstand me. If a cop or any other person wrongfully takes a black life, or any other innocent life, we should stand up and speak out. I believe black lives—and all lives—matter.

But it is not fair to ignore the young, innocent, unarmed black kids that are killed every day, in their own neighborhoods, by abortion doctors.

Because black lives matter, I am pro-life.

[1] The facts of this case do not support the “Hands up; Don’t shoot” narrative. All the forensic evidence indicates that Brown, who had just assaulted and burglarized a gas station clerk, also assaulted Officer Wilson and put the cop’s life in danger.