The Importance Of God’s Written Word

By Alfred Bouter

Sometime after the Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Lk. 2:1-20), a group of wise men from the East arrived in Jerusalem. They came with an important mission: “Where is He who has been born King1 of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” (Mt. 2:2 NKJV). How was it that they had come from so far away and yet knew what had just occurred?

In the days of the prophet Daniel, God used him to graciously and miraculously save the lives of many wise men. Nebuchadnezzar then placed Daniel, whom he called Belteshazzar, as head over them (Dan. 1:7, 2:48).2 These wise men and their following generations had come to possess a book written by Daniel which described future events (see 9:24-27, 10:1-12:13). Around the time indicated in Daniel 9, the wise men of a later generation (Mt. 2) noticed miraculous things in the skies and, having been intrigued about them and based on what they knew and observed, traveled to Jerusalem. Once there, they must have been surprised to find that the leaders were not prepared for the arrival of this King – and not interested either.

The reigning king, Herod “the great,” summoned the Jewish religious leaders to find out where this birth had happened, pretending that he wanted to go and worship Him. In reality, Herod was planning to kill this One whom he thought would seek his throne. The scribes quoted Micah (5:2-4) to confirm that Bethlehem of Judea was the place where the Messiah must be born, but they showed no desire to go and worship Him. Herod’s sinister plans were nullified by God’s intervention (Mt. 2:7-15) even though He allowed the slaughter of the innocent babes and infants (vv.16-18).

These details show us that faith and love for Him and His Word are needed to accept “as it is written” – a phrase repeated often in Scripture – and to act accordingly, with the right motives and intentions. Especially in our days of decline and departure, it is essential to hold fast to God’s written Word. Therefore the apostle Paul encouraged his young co-worker, Timothy, to continue in the things he had learned from him and known from the Holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:14-17). All believers are encouraged to follow Paul’s example and teaching (1 Cor. 11:1), which are still valid and relevant today.

God Made Known His Thoughts
God made His thoughts for His chosen people known through Moses in Genesis through Deuteronomy. Joshua, Moses successor, communicated God’s commandment to the people to build a special altar, “as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses” (Josh. 8:31). The fourth generation and those that followed departed from God’s thoughts, causing much failure during the days of the judges, as “every one did what was right in his own eyes” (Jud. 21:25). In time, God brought the rule of David, the king after His heart, to implement His thoughts (Ps. 132). David passed this reign on to his son Solomon, whom God had adopted as son (2 Sam. 12:24-25), despite David’s own failures.

The plan was that Solomon would, as David exhorted him, “Keep the charge of the LORD your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn” (1 Ki. 2:3). After his initial obedience, sadly Solomon failed, for his heart was turned to various idols while he officially served God (11:1-11). This led to the division of the kingdom.

In later generations mention was made and practice was observed of the instructions God had given “according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses” (2 Ki. 14:6). Much later, in the days of Jeremiah, after things had gone very bad, especially under Manasseh, God worked a great revival through King Josiah. During that time there was much emphasis on the Word of God, which had been found in the temple by the high priest Hilkiah (22:8). Josiah then “commanded all the people, saying, ‘Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant’” (23:21). Remember, these events happened and were written as lessons for us today (1 Cor. 10:1-13).

Because of Israel’s ongoing unfaithfulness, God sent the Ten Tribes of northern Israel into captivity (2 Ki. 17), during the days of several Assyrian kings. Most of these tribes are still scattered among the nations, and they will be until their future restoration takes place (Ezek. 20).

The Two Tribes – Judah and Benjamin with a remnant of the Levites as well as some belonging to the other tribes – experienced the great revival under King Josiah, yet many of them were sent into the Babylonian captivity, in three successive phases, because of the disobedience of the kings after Josiah (Jer. 24; 2 Chr. 36). When the 70 years of captivity had passed (Jer. 29:10), a remnant returned to Jerusalem, also in three phases, and started to rebuild the temple and restore the city. However, after the 400 “silent years” following the last prophet, Malachi, the remaining Two Tribes were still not ready for God and His King. Then God sent John the Baptist “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Lk. 1:17; see also Mk. 1:1-13; Jn. 1; Mt. 3; Lk. 3).

The Word Of God Keeps Its Relevance
Even though there was so much departure and failure among what remained of God’s people, it is striking to read seven times in 2 Chronicles that things were done according to what was written.2 The Chronicles were probably written by Ezra the scribe many years after a remnant had returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. Second Chronicles in particular describes remnant conditions and faithfulness to the Word during the days before the captivity, despite the prevailing unfaithfulness. Following is a brief overview of those seven passages in 2 Chronicles.

  1. “Jehoiada appointed the oversight of the house of the LORD to the hand of the priests, the Levites, whom David had assigned in the house of the LORD, to offer the burnt offerings of the Lord, as it is written in the Law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, as it was established by David” (23:18).
  2. Amaziah “did not put their children to death, but did as it is written in the law in the book of Moses, which the LORD commanded, saying, ‘Fathers shall not be put to death for sons, nor sons be put to death for fathers, but each shall be put to death for his own sin’” (25:4 NASB).
  3. “They decreed to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that the people should come and keep the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel, at Jerusalem, for they had not kept it as often as prescribed (30:5 ESV).
  4. “A majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, May the good LORD pardon everyone” (v.18). This shows God’s grace for His failing people who had the desire to please Him.
  5. “The king also appointed a portion of his possessions for the burnt offerings: for the morning and evening burnt offerings, the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths and the New Moons and the set feasts, as it is written in the Law of the LORD” (31:3 NKJV).
  6. “Then they removed the burnt offerings that they might give them to the sections of the fathers’ households of the lay people to present to the LORD, as it is written in the book of Moses. They did this also with the bulls” (35:12 NASB).
  7. “Now the rest of the acts of Josiah and his goodness, according to what was written in the Law of the LORD, and his deeds from first to last, indeed they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah (vv.26-27 NKJV).

The remnant that returned to Jerusalem, to the place of God’s dwelling, was characterized by the fact that they did things according to what is written in God’s Word (Ezra 3:2,4; Neh. 8:15, 10:34,36), and they maintained God’s interests in accordance with it.

Gradually, however, despite all good intentions, a system developed where traditions were placed above God’s Word. Malachi challenged the priests and the people belonging to this remnant because they were in their position according to God’s thoughts, but their spiritual condition was not right in God’s eyes. When the Lord Jesus came to fulfill God’s promises, He challenged the leaders for keeping the letter of the law but not fulfilling God’s thoughts. In other words, they acted according to what is written, but did so only in a formal way, not with love to the Lord and His people.

The Lord Jesus often challenged them on this issue, see for instance Matthew 23. In Matthew 5, the Lord said five times, “You have heard that it was said” referring to those traditions. It may be of value to note that “five” in Scripture is a number that speaks of responsibility, like the five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot. He followed each with, “But I say…”,4 and then He referred to the unchanging and unchangeable Word of God.

May we learn from these examples to put into practice what is written (Jas. 1:22). Today, this implies acting in accordance with the New Testament teachings – because we are not under the law of Moses – and doing so with the right motives and intentions, for His honor and glory until He comes! God is not only interested that we keep and respect His written Word, but He wants us to do this from the heart, rather than outwardly in self-righteousness by keeping the letter.

You have heard it said … But I say to you …
“You shall not murder, and whoever murders
will be in danger of the judgment” (v.21).
Read verses 22-26.
“You shall not commit adultery …
Whoever divorces his wife” (v.27,31).
Read verses 28-32.
“You shall not swear falsely, but shall
perform your oaths to the Lord” (v.33).
Read verses 34-37.
“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (v.38). Read verses 39-42.
“You shall love your neighbor
and hate your enemy” (v. 43).
Read verses 44-48.

1. When a baby boy is born into a royal family he is called a prince, but when the Lord Jesus was born He was immediately called King!
2. To know how their lives had been saved, please read Daniel 2. The position Daniel received (2:47) does not imply that he practiced the same things as the wise men, but his special God-given abilities to interpret dreams caused the king to place him over the whole group.
3. The Hebrew text has 16 times a compound word that can be translated “as it is written” (Josh. 8:31; 1 Ki. 2:3; 2 Ki. 14:6, 23:21; 2 Chr. 23:18, 25:4, 30:5,18, 31:3, 35:12,26; Ezra 3:2,4; Neh. 8:15,10:34,36). The same Hebrew term, which occurs seven times in 2 Chronicles, is sometimes translated “as prescribed” or in other ways.
4. “But I say to you” is in Matthew 5 six times (vv.22,28,32,34,39,44). Interestingly, the same Greek word appears a seventh time in Ephesians 5:32.

What On Earth Is God Doing?

By Dirk Bouter

What on earth is God doing? It is an important question. The answer will:

  • Help us know how to live for Him today and get excited about the future glories of the Lord Jesus,
  • Cause us to be wise about what our calling is and is not, and
  • Draw us to worship the Lord Jesus as we are reminded that all God’s plans center on Him and will be accomplished through Him.

Beginning our study at the cross and ending with the eternal state, let’s form a very basic outline of seven chronological points as to what God has done, is doing and will do on earth and beyond. In the process we will see that God’s counsels are wise, His purpose good and His Christ great! Christ Himself will restore divine authority over the entire universe prior to the ushering in of the eternal state.

1. Christ’s Cross
Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary’s cross is the focal point of all God’s dealings with the human race. It proves God’s love, satisfies His righteousness and allows Him to bring us into a relationship with Him through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31; Rom. 5:1, 10:8-9). Without the cross the only dealing God could have with humanity was judgment (Jn. 3:16-20, 5:22; Rev. 20:11-15). God’s purpose has always been to have a relationship with the people He created, which is why man was made in the image of God – a relational being (Gen. 1:26; Ex. 25:8; Prov. 8:31). The work of Christ on the cross formed the basis by which God could accomplish this in righteousness and holiness (Col. 1:20).

The disciples of the Lord Jesus missed all of this during His ministry on earth. They merely looked for deliverance from their earthly enemies, the Romans (Mt. 20:21; Jn. 6:15; Acts 1:6) – failing to realize this would accomplish nothing lasting if they remained in their sins. The Messiah, the Hebrew word for “Christ,” was promised in Old Testament times to unconditionally deliver Israel as a nation from their enemies (Isa. 9:6-7; Mic. 5:2). Because God is holy, before He reigns in power and majesty, His subjects must be redeemed from their sins, for only then can they truly be His people forever. As a nation the Jews rejected the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, saying, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him! … We have no king but Caesar!” (Jn. 19:15 NKJV).

The Messiah had also been promised unconditionally as a blessing to those who are not from Israel: the Gentiles (Gen. 22:18). The Romans, representative of the Gentile world, mocked and crucified Him. Hence the world as a whole cast out its Savior, and individuals who try to justify themselves before God continue this rejection in spirit.

God allowed man to crucify Christ, using this apex, or climax, of man’s injustice to pour out His wrath against sin on His well-beloved Son, the Lord Jesus. In doing so, the Lord Jesus became the substitute for all who turn to Him for forgiveness (2 Cor. 5:21). He paid the debt that we could never pay (Ps. 49:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). Raising Him from the dead after three days, God confirmed that Christ’s sacrifice is able to save all who put their faith and trust in Him (Rom. 4:24-25). The Lord Jesus truly can give eternal life as He stated during His earthly ministry (Jn. 10:27-28). He is the only way to a restored relationship with God (14:6).

2. Christ’s Bride
Even though the world as a whole cast out the Lord Jesus, His death was ultimately in obedience to the work His Father had given to Him (4:34; Phil. 2:8). This obedience unto death, even the death of the cross, made it possible for God to approach humanity in righteousness and grace (Rom. 3:21-26). Ever since, God has been accomplishing something very important and wonderful on earth! It is not a national work or general improvement in some area of the world, which God now calls “this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4 KJV). Instead, according to God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 3:6-11) the Holy Spirit is gathering a heavenly bride for the Lord Jesus,1 redeemed out of love by Christ Himself (5:25). She is also referred to as “the Church” (1:23, 5:25) and the “body” of Christ (1:22-23, 2:16, 4:4, 5:30-31; Col. 1:18). This bride is composed of believers in the Lord Jesus who are indwelt individually by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:16; 1 Cor. 2:12; 2 Cor. 1:21-22) and baptized by the Spirit into one body (1 Cor. 12:13).

“In Christ,” believers have no national or social distinctions; they are one (Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11). This is something special and unique, which started on Pentecost following the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Acts 2) and was not known in Old Testament times (Eph. 3; Col. 1:24-27). The bride of Christ:

  • Belongs to heaven although presently on earth (Phil. 3:20),
  • Has no affection for a world system that seeks satisfaction and renown without Christ (vv.7-8),
  • Looks to no man, woman, program or campaign to fix the world system around her, and
  • Faithfully presents her Beloved as man’s only hope (Acts 4:12; Rom. 7-8; Phil. 4:13; Col. 2; 1 Tim. 4; 1 Jn. 2:15-17).

Therefore she is outwardly a light in a dark world (Mt. 5:14-16), the salt of the earth (v.13) and heaven’s ambassador on earth (2 Cor. 5:20). She does this work tirelessly to the blessing of mankind (Gal. 6:9; 1 Cor. 15:58), by the calling of God (1 Pet. 2), in separation from unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14) and the world (Jas. 4:4). Inwardly she enjoys the blessings of her heavenly calling even now (Eph. 1:3),2 knowing her place is seated with Christ in heavenly places – now in spirit but soon face to face (2:4-6; 1 Cor. 13:12; 2 Cor. 4:17-18).

From this biblical description of the bride’s calling and actions it immediately becomes clear that much of what is called “Christianity” is not really so. Over the centuries many have used the name of Christ to build political and religious systems and organizations that are primarily about power and riches. Christ promised His followers neither. This corruption of Christianity, termed “Christendom,” continues to thrive today in various forms. Whole groups have been abused under this umbrella. It comes in all flavors, ranging from nationalistic to anarchist – and to false theocracies where God is recognized as ruler in name but not practice. Christendom has Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Evangelical branches. Its chief purpose is to make a name for itself on earth, usually under the guises of “improving the world” or “honoring God.”

Members of the true bride of Christ have often been deceived into participating in the efforts of Christendom. Hence, we need to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Mt. 10:16), acting for Christ in a way that is consistent with our purpose and calling.

Dear Christian, if the world seems to get darker despite our labors, take encouragement from God’s Word; what is done for Him, in His way, is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58; Gal. 6:9). Although we want to be a blessing on earth we do not seek our blessing from the earth, but from our Man in the glory. He is coming soon to take us out of this present evil world to be with Him forever, and He will raise all believers who are asleep in Christ (1 Th. 4:13-18)! The Church’s time for glory is not now. God’s Word says: “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4). In addition to this, although we know the greatness of God’s love and grace, let’s not forget that Christ’s glory is what God’s purposes are ultimately about, not our blessing and destiny. May we be found watching, working and waiting for Him.

3. Christ’s Wrath
Will God be finished with this earth when the Church is taken to heaven? We know from Scripture that following the rapture of the Church the “man of sin” will take prominence on earth and exalt himself to the place of God (2 Th. 2:3-4). The world will hail him as a savior (Jn. 5:43; Rev. 13:4). In fact, there will be a trinity of evil that rules over the western world led by a figure called “the beast” (presumably synonymous for “the man of sin”), his chief propagandist is called “the false prophet” and Satan (Rev. 12-13). This will be the pinnacle of fallen man’s rebellion against God, drawing wrath and judgment from God even more terrible than the global flood of Noah’s day (Mt. 24:21).

The time period of these events is known as the tribulation – and often our interest in prophecy inappropriately lingers here. However, God will not allow this world’s history to end with a cast out Savior! The glory and honor of our Lord Jesus is where all history is headed (Ps. 72; 1 Cor. 15:25; Eph. 1:10). God does have purposes on earth following the rapture of the Church. Christ will rule in power and majesty over this world in a kingdom characterized by righteousness. He will be the center of heaven and earth. The Church is not the instrument God will use to bring this about, but it will be accomplished through God’s wrath and judgment (Rev. 11:15-18). The blessing of the Church is to be with Him in His kingdom, reflecting His heavenly glories for the whole world to see (Eph. 2:6-7; 2 Th. 1:10).

So what is the purpose of the tribulation time in God’s counsels? Let’s back up for a moment and consider the big picture. God made promises to the patriarchs and Israel that have not been fulfilled (Gen. 13:14-16, 26:3, 35:10-12). These promises include that Israel will rule over the nations who have oppressed them (Isa. 14:2). Messiah will receive tribute from the nations (Ps. 72) with Jerusalem as His capital city (Isa. 60), never to be destroyed by the Gentiles again (Jer. 31:40). The nations will travel to Jerusalem annually to worship Jehovah there (Isa. 2:1-5; Zech. 8:20-23). However, Israel cannot enjoy these promises yet because of its rejection of Christ (Hos. 5; Mt. 23:37-39).

These promises are ultimately about the glory and honor of our Lord Jesus; He will be magnified and rule with power over a world which once rejected Him (Ps. 110; Lk. 21:27; 1 Cor. 15:25; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Tim. 6:15). History past, present and future is about His glory on earth and in heaven (Eph. 1:10). You might ask, “Isn’t Christ reigning now?” Yes, He is on the Father’s throne in heaven at this very time, but He is waiting until His enemies are made His footstool (Ps. 110:1).

Rebellion against God and sin against His name are practiced openly on earth both now and during the tribulation, but that will change in a future day. God needs to accomplish four things in order to fulfill His ancient promises:

  • The apostate, false church of Christendom must be destroyed;
  • The Jewish people must be led to repentance, prepared to receive their Messiah;
  • The unrepentant Jewish people must be judged; and
  • The unrepentant nations that persecute Israel and hate God must be judged.

Only then will the times of refreshing – also known as the millennial reign of Christ – come on this earth from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).

The tribulation period accomplishes the first two items. It lasts seven years (Dan. 9:27; Mt. 24; Rev. 6:1-17, 11:2-3, 12:6,14, 13:5-6) and begins with the beast signing a protection treaty with Israel that God calls a “covenant with death … and … agreement with hell” (Isa. 28:18). The judgment which God will pour out on this earth during the tribulation is summarized in the book of Revelation. We read there of seal, trumpet and bowl judgments – seven of each (Rev. 6, 8-9, 16). God uses these judgments to bring a significant number of Jews, known as the Jewish remnant, to repentance (Joel 2:12-18; Zech. 13:8-9), preparing them to receive their Messiah. The false church of Christendom will be completely destroyed during this time (Rev. 2:22-23, 17) while the beast and false prophet will continue to rule over the western world in defiance against God.

It is important to note that during this terrible time the gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the entire world. Many will receive it and be saved even though they will suffer intense persecution and many will be martyred. These saints will certainly be believers in the Lord Jesus, but they will not be part of the Church, not having its distinctive features. Of course they will be brought to glory and have their part in God’s eternal city along with the Church. There they will serve before the throne of God and He will dwell among them (6:9-11, 7:13-17, 14:6-7).

4. Christ’s Controversy
God’s Word speaks of His controversy and indignation with both unrepentant Israel and the unrepentant nations (Hos. 4:1, 12:2; Mic. 6:2; Jer. 25:31).3 God will use one of Israel’s ancient enemies, Assyria, as “His rod” to execute His final judgment on unrepentant Israel. The leader of the Assyrian invasion is referred to as “the king of the North” (Isa. 10:5, 28:14-19; Dan. 11:40-43). At the close of the tribulation the king of the North will ravage the land of Israel as he passes through on a larger campaign to invade Egypt. The beast will make what appears to be a half-hearted attempt to meet his treaty obligation to protect Israel and belatedly send his armies. Kings of the east will converge on the land of Israel at the same time, apparently motivated by the news that Israel is on her knees and ready for the taking. Armageddon will have begun (Dan. 11:44; Joel 3; Rev. 9:13-17, 16:12-16; Zech. 14:1-3).

Christ’s controversy will then begin with the nations, and in an awesome display of power and glory He will return to earth (Mt. 24:27-30; 2 Th. 2:8). The Church, His bride, will be with Him – she will always be with Him (1 Th. 4:17; Rev. 19:11-14). This is the second coming, or appearing, of Christ.

Beginning with the beast and the false prophet, Christ will destroy His enemies (vv.17-21). The king of the North, hearing of a challenger in the land of Israel, will return from Egypt only to meet his doom (Isa. 31:8; Dan. 11:44-45; Joel 2:20). Finally, in an intimate and personal introduction to the repentant faithful of Israel, Christ is to set foot on the Mount of Olives, just outside Jerusalem, and present Himself as their Messiah (Zech. 14:4). With weeping and joy He will be received and the nation of Israel restored to Christ (12:10-14). The ten scattered tribes will then return to Israel with help from the nations (Isa. 11:11-16, 14:1-2, 66:8; Jer. 31:6-9).

Christ’s kingdom will be challenged unsuccessfully in its infancy by Gog and Magog – likely the backers of the previously defeated king of the North (Dan. 8:24; Ezek. 38-39). As the undisputed King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Christ will rule from the throne of His glory and gather all the nations formally (Mt. 25:31-46). Those found to be His enemies are to be confined to eternal fire while the rest live on in His kingdom. Christ’s controversy is then settled and earth’s golden era begins.

5. Christ’s Reign
All Christ’s enemies will be made His footstool (Ps. 110). Israel will be restored to Him (Ezek. 36-37). Satan will be bound (Rev. 20:2) and righteousness will reign in the universal kingdom the Lord establishes (Ps. 72; Isa. 9:7, 32:1). The earth itself will flourish, and the animal kingdom will be at peace, docile and vegetarian (11:6-9). Crops will be so productive that the plowman will overtake the reaper (Amos 9:13). The desert shall blossom as the rose (Isa. 35:1). There will finally be world peace (Ps. 72:7; Isa. 2:4; Hos. 2:18)! The poor and needy will be saved and receive justice, for oppression will cease. Christ will bring blessing to all, and He will be honored by every nation (Ps. 72). The prophecies of a Ruler who is both human and divine will be fulfilled in Him (Ps. 8; Isa. 9:6; Jer. 33:15; Mic. 5:2).

The future reign of Christ in power over the earth will be the full display of His glory (Ps. 8, 24). He will be the center of everything in heaven and earth (Eph. 1:10). The cross is the focal point of all history, on which all God’s purposes hinge, but God would not allow world history to end with the humiliation of His Son. Scripture testifies, “For He must reign” (1 Cor. 15:25).

How wonderful that God has revealed to us the future exaltation of the Lord Jesus on this earth. During the millennial reign of Christ, Israel will be the display of His glory on earth as the nation redeemed by Him, and the Church will be the display of Christ’s glory in heaven (Eph. 2:6-7; 2 Th. 1:10). How grateful and full of worship we should be, knowing that we will be associated with Him in that coming day. The Father has decreed the exaltation of the Lord Jesus over all things in heaven and earth to be the climax of all history (Eph. 1:10). Even now, let us give Him the pre-eminence in our lives!

6. Christ’s Court
Lest we think that an ideal environment is all fallen man needs to live in harmony with God, Scripture states that even the wonderful reign of Christ does not cause fallen man to love Him (Rev. 20:7-9). How completely this demonstrates the need for new birth! Children will be born during the millennial reign of Christ, but not all will accept Him as their Savior. Scripture states that after 1,000 years of Christ’s glorious reign Satan will be loosed for a short while. Given the opportunity, fallen man will again act against God. Were it not written in God’s Word we would not believe it.

This final revolt fails while still in the setup stage; Christ’s kingdom is everlasting and will not fail (Dan. 7:13-14). The revolt is destroyed by a consuming fire from heaven and leads directly to the final judgment where God’s righteousness is executed towards those who died in their sins (Rev. 20:11-15). They are found standing before God, the Lord Jesus seated on a great white throne with authority to execute judgment. From this dreadful scene heaven and earth flee.

Dear reader, the Lord Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again so we can be free from judgment by believing on Him. Confess your sin to Him and He will be your Savior. If you refuse His forgiveness, He must be your judge.

7. Christ’s Rest
“Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28 NKJV). We see that our blessed Lord Jesus will fully restore divine authority, ruling by the authority of the Father. Having accomplished this He will continue His rule forever under that same authority and in the same subjection.4 That is the thrust of the quoted passage. It is an amazing fact that our Lord Jesus will remain a Man for all eternity! However, the subjection He placed Himself under by becoming Man never made Him any less divine. In eternity the Lamb will share the throne and be the object of worship that belongs to God alone (Rev. 5:12-14, 22:3).

A new heaven and earth will usher in the eternal state with the eternal city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God (21:1-2). Here righteousness dwells (2 Pet. 3:13) and a perfect rest of joyful fellowship is enjoyed forever (Mt. 11:28; 1 Cor. 13:12; Phil. 1:23; Heb. 4:9; 1 Jn. 1:3-4; Rev. 2:17, 21:4, 22:4).

Throughout the ages of time God has reserved a redeemed company of people who put their faith in Him. The destiny of all the redeemed is to have their part in God’s eternal city, with God dwelling among them (Heb. 11:10, 12:22-23; Rev. 21:9-10, 21:12, 22:3-4). All are eternally blessed and worshipers of God.5 In this way all the redeemed are equal and represented in the book of Revelation as the 24 elders who worship the Lamb. At the same time God has distinctive relationships among His redeemed ones that carry on in eternity as well.6 The bride and the friends of the bride retain these respective relationships with Christ in eternity (Jn. 3:29). The twelve tribes of Israel remain distinct in eternity, as do the tribulation saints referred to earlier (Isa. 66:22; Rev. 7:14, 21:12). Therefore the fellowship all the redeemed enjoy in the eternal city will be a perfect balance of unity, diversity and individuality. God’s ultimate purpose will be achieved: “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God’” (v.3).

Concluding Thoughts
Summing up, we see that God is ordering history in a way that will exalt His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, over all things. Through the blood of His cross, not only are people reconciled to God (Col. 1:21) but even creation itself will be restored (Rom. 8:19-22, Col. 1:20). Christ’s reign will restore divine authority over the entire universe and vindicate the character of God where sin had brought ruin. The eternal state that follows will not be so much the vindication of the character of God as the satisfaction of His heart.7 This will be the perfect eternal rest of fellowship, life and love.

Let us close by thinking specifically of the relationship the bride of Christ enjoys with Him in eternity. The Lord Jesus shall be completely satisfied, the Bridegroom with His bride (Isa. 53:11; Jn. 14:3; Eph. 5:25-32). Our longing for Him will be a fulfilled longing with continuous amazement far beyond the Queen of Sheba’s response to Solomon’s glory (1 Ki. 10:6-9). Union with Christ is the wonderful portion of the Church, now and for all eternity.

Then we’ll know Him as He knows us,

Face to face His name we’ll bless,

This the perfect, precious fullness,

Of His glorious purposes!

1. First Corinthians 12:13 in connection with Ephesians 5:30-31 shows the link between the Church as one body and the bride.
2. Among others, our blessings include: peace with God, open access to the Father, fellowship with fellow-believers, a secure future with Christ.
3. The King James Version uses the word “controversy” in each of these verses. Isaiah 10:25 and 34:2 refer to the indignation of the Lord against Israel and the nations.
4. J. Dwight Pentecost, “Things To Come,” Zondervan Publishing House, first Grand Rapids printing 1964, pp. 493-494.
5. Hebrews 11:40 implies the Old Testament saints will be made perfect with us.
6. First Thessalonians 4:16 includes Old Testament believers. Revelation 19:4 refers to the redeemed as “the 24 elders,” then separates the redeemed into “the bride” and implied guests in verses 7-9.
7. G. Davison, “Reconciliation,”

Several Points About Trials

By Hamilton Smith (adapted)

In Psalm 118:5-21 the Holy Spirit used the experiences of a delivered individual as representative of God’s way of intervention on behalf of the nation of Israel. A godly man called upon the LORD in his distress, and the LORD answered and brought him into a large place, which speaks of much blessing. He thus learned in his distress that the LORD was on his side, and the LORD being for him who could be against him? (Rom. 8:31). He asked, “What can man do unto me?” (Ps. 118:6 NKJV). The man learned moreover that it is better to trust in the LORD than in man or the great people of the earth.
The psalmist then wrote about the trials through which he had passed and the LORD‘s dealings to bring about his deliverance. First, all the nations had surrounded him, but in the name of the LORD they were destroyed (vv.10-12).

Second, the enemy of his soul, the Devil, was the one who had energized the nations (Rev. 12:15-17) and pushed him violently; but the LORD intervened to his help and had become his “strength,” “song” and “salvation” (Ps. 118:13-14). As a result, the song was heard in the dwelling of the righteous, the strength was seen in the right hand of the LORD and the salvation in deliverance from death (vv.15-17).

Third, behind the opposition of the nations and the power of Satan there was, in these trials, the chastening, or disciplining, from the LORD. The enemy had sought his fall (v.13), but in those struggles the LORD had chastened him “severely” for his good (v.18). The enemy would oppose him to bring him into death; the LORD chastened him to save him from death. The LORD chastened only to remove all that was contrary to Himself, in order to open a righteous way into His presence to be there for His praise.

The Devil is behind the outward enemies of God’s people, but the Lord is above the power of the Devil, and there is no one above the Lord. “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (v.1).

Refuge And Strength

By Klaas Rot

“God is our refuge and strength, a help in distresses, very readily found.” —Psalm 46:1 JND

Prophetically, this lovely psalm points to the time when the faithful remnant of Israel will be trapped in Jerusalem with the armies of the nations raging around Jerusalem in order to destroy them completely (see Zech. 12:2,12-14). When there is no way out the faithful Jew will look up and cry “God is our refuge and strength.”

This is our lesson today! Circumstances can be so pressing we do not see any hope for help from anyone. To the contrary, it often seems that everything is purposely designed to harm us. Yet there is One who is always there. Faith looks up and cries out, “God is our refuge!” There is always a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13) because our refuge is God. His ways with us cannot be explained, but faith accepts His providence in all circumstances. He is a God of love, and He always has His eyes upon the righteous.

God is not only our refuge; our verse tells us that He is also our strength. At times believers give up because of lack of strength to continue in their walk of faith. Relief is sought in earthly and worldly pleasures. What sorrow there is in the world today because there is no strength, even to be true to one another. But for the believer, the same God who is our refuge is also our strength. Faith knows that His ways with us are perfect; our heavenly Father never makes mistakes. Should we not lay our weak hands in His all mighty hand and say with Him who was that perfect Man here on earth, “Yea, Father, for thus has it been well-pleasing in Thy sight” (Mt. 11:26). Accepting His will in our lives each day will have the result that we will also say, “God is my strength.”

The Righteousness Of God In Romans

By Alfred Bouter

After beginning the letter with a brief introduction (Rom. 1:1-15), the apostle Paul presented his major thesis to his readers in Rome. It is about God’s message of good news and His power for salvation (vv.16-17). Paul wrote: “The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (v.17 NKJV). This short but important statement says something about God, His spoken and written Word, and how individuals receive them.

The message Paul was called to pass along implies that God is always right,1 or just, whether in His person what He is in Himself, the triune God or in what He says and does. In other words, in God’s plans, actions, governmental dealings and communications, He is 100% right. Therefore when God declares the sinner guilty and to be condemned, He is right. As the Creator, He set the rules and is perfectly just in His demands; and He is uniquely qualified to judge.

In his speech to the Greek leaders in Athens (Acts 17:22-31), the apostle showed that the only true God is:

  • The Creator,
  • Sustainer,
  • Ruler of the universe (even in control of human history),
  • The Savior-God, and
  • The supreme Judge.

This passage, which I suggest that you read, addresses man’s need to believe in response to what God says. It implies the necessity of faith and confidence in Him. All these matters, and more, are discussed in detail in the book of Romans, an epistle that can be called “a treatise2 about God and His righteousness.”

Some Background
The first book of the Bible, Genesis, describes God’s magnificent creation and man’s special relationship with God (Gen. 1-2). Soon afterwards, much was destroyed by Satan’s successful attack with subtle lies, as well as through Adam and Eve’s disobedience and subsequent fall into sin (Gen. 3). This had consequences for the entire human race and its immediate and ultimate history, but God was not without resources. He brought a sacrifice, an innocent substitute that took Adam and Eve’s place. They both believed God, who, before driving them out of the garden in His righteous judgment (v.24), clothed them with the skins of the innocent animal sacrifice (v.21), which was a picture of “the garments of salvation … [and] robe of righteousness” (Isa. 61:10).

Summary Of Romans
Writing over 4,000 years after the fall, Paul showed that God is right in His verdict that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). However, when someone of fallen humankind turns to God in true repentance and God declares him or her “just,” or “righteous,” God is still right!

Paul developed the theme of righteousness as follows. The entire human race descended from Noah’s three sons, Ham, Japheth and Shem (Gen. 9), and Paul showed that they knew the truth but soon suppressed it in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18-20). This was not long after God had revealed Himself as the righteous Judge in Noah’s flood. The descendents of Ham (Gen. 10:6-20) are described in Romans 1:21-32, of Japheth (Gen. 10:2-5) in Romans 2:1-16, and of Shem (Gen. 10:21-30; 11:10-32) in Romans 2:17-3:20.

The more one has received, the more responsible he is before God. This principle is demonstrated in the indictment that all are under God’s judgment and condemned, but the harshest terms are used for the Jews, who had descended from Shem. The Jews, as we know from Scripture, were given, or had, the most light.

Here is a brief outline of Romans, besides the preface (1:1-17), the postscript (16:17-24), and the doxology (16:25-27):

  1. Sinful humans need God’s righteousness (1:18-3:20).
  2. God has provided righteousness through Christ’s sacrifice (3:21-26).
  3. Righteousness is received through faith (3:27-4:25).
  4. Righteousness is experienced in the soul (5:1-8:17).
  5. Righteousness is guaranteed in bringing permanent blessing (8:18-39).
  6. Righteousness is seen in God’s sovereignty and ways, without setting aside Israel and human responsibility. This includes God’s dispensational dealings, with important lessons for us (Rom. 9-11).
  7. Righteousness is displayed in transformed lives (Rom. 12-16).

Despite Opposition – A Response Towards God
God’s thoughts are contested by man, and for this reason the apostle introduced rhetorical questions with the words, “What shall we say then?” The answer is obvious each of the seven times (Rom. 3:5, 4:1, 6:1, 7:7, 8:31, 9:14,30).

Paul described the ministry he received from God as an apostle (Rom. 11), but he was also a bondman, an evangelist, a teacher and a priest with respect to those who accept the gospel and get saved. Through him, sinners were led back to God and saved, becoming true worshipers now and for eternity (15:8-21).

This amazing epistle shows God’s righteousness in condemning guilty humans and providing salvation for those who repent, including a work of God to ensure such a response. We should note that God works:

  • For the salvation of the lost in setting them free from the guilt of sin through the blood of Christ (3:20-5:11); from the power of sin and death through Christ’s death and resurrection, through a work of the Holy Spirit (5:12-8:10); and from the presence of sin (8:11-39);
  • In those saved and restored to God – there is a formation and sanctification of those set apart for Him. This is illustrated in Israel’s story, past, present and future (9:1-11:36); and
  • With the redeemed ones that they would be instruments of blessing now and forever (Rom. 12-16). The redeemed ones are transformed through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in their relationship to God, themselves, each other, earthly governments, believers with different convictions and unbelievers.

In all these details we see God’s saving, sanctifying and transforming power as displayed in those who were “in Adam” and who are now “in Christ.” They become instruments to be used by God for His glory and the benefit of others, always according to God’s righteousness. Those who reject God’s offer of salvation are under condemnation and will suffer eternal damnation, forced to bow the knee (Phil. 2:10); whereas the redeemed ones bow the knee as willing worshipers.

Romans 8
We should pay special attention to this chapter. In seven points we recognize for the believer:

  1. A new position, freedom from judgment – no condemnation (vv.1-4);
  2. A new life, freedom from defeat – victory (vv.5-12);
  3. A new relationship, freedom from fear – liberty of sons (vv.13-17);
  4. A new hope, freedom from despair – living in hope (vv.18-25);
  5. A new help, freedom from helplessness – helped by the Holy Spirit (vv.26-27);
  6. A new knowledge, freedom from adversity – confidence in God (vv.28-30); and
  7. A new assurance, freedom from worry – no separation (vv.31-39).

These verses contain very much. Meditation of every verse brings us to admire the wisdom of our God, His love and compassion – especially the gift of His beloved Son (8:32).

In Romans, Paul was an evangelist, missionary, teacher, prophet and priest. As a prophet, he spoke on God’s behalf to bring people back to Him. Paul’s ministry still brings fruit for God, as many souls are accepting God’s message of salvation even today (15:15-29). In priestly service, through his letter, Paul leads believers to glorify God (Rom. 8:31-39, 11:33-36, 15:9-13, 16:25-27). Are you glorifying Him? GT

1. Romans has many references to God’s “righteousness.” Various terms such as “justification,” the “declaration of righteousness,” “to justify,” “righteous” or “just,” and “justly,” plus words with the opposite meaning like “unrighteous,” “unjust,” and similar ones – are all from the same Greek root. We count 77 occurrences (or references) of words derived from this root in Romans, much more than in any other book of the New Testament.
2. Treatise is defined as “a formal and systematic exposition in writing of the principles of a subject, generally longer and more detailed than an essay” (

What If A Believer Sins?

By H. L. Heijkoop

If we believers sin, what happens then? Can this change our position as children of God? Will we then be put out from the presence of God?

We have the answer in Hebrews 9 and 10. Christ has found an eternal redemption. “For by one offering He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14 KJV). Our relationship as creatures to God has been settled for all time. We have been brought into the relationship of children to the Father, and this relationship shall nevermore be altered.

But does our Father, then, overlook the sins of His children? Our Father is the God who is Light and in whom is no darkness at all. He is too holy to behold sin. He must be hallowed, or regarded as holy, by them that come near Him. He cannot put up with any sins in His children. How should He, the Holy One, be able to have fellowship with sin or with someone who has been defiled by sin. This is why our fellowship with the Father and His Son is broken off instantly by every sinful thought, word and deed. This fellowship is not restored until the sin is put away in a godly way. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:9). Only through confession and self-judgment are we cleansed.

Self-Judgment – The Only Way To Restore Fellowship
Leviticus 5:1-4 lists for us the three major groups of defilements occurring in daily life:

  • The failure to witness either against evil or for the good (v.1). Omission of something, too, can be sin.
  • Defilements through things coming from outside oneself (v.2). These are the consequences of not being practically separated from what is of the world.
  • The sins that come out of our own hearts (v.4). Such sins are the result of not being sober and the lack of self-control.

Verse 15 and those following add the use of something that God has reserved to Himself for one’s own self, while Leviticus 6:1-7 includes taking away or keeping something that belongs to another.

If an Israelite had transgressed, how could he be cleansed? There was only one way, and it is mentioned in Leviticus 5:5-6: “And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing. And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned.” Other things could be added to this, such as to more than make good that which had been taken from the Lord or from one’s brother (5:16, 6:5). But the first requirement was to confess the sin and bring a trespass offering.

Self-judgment – declaring one’s own sins and thus one’s own failures – is a necessary condition for all forgiveness and restoration (see 1 Cor. 11:31; 1 Jn. 1:9). God wants to bring us to true self-judgment, that is, He wants us to judge not only the deed which we have committed, but our condition, as David did in Psalm 51:5-7. So He turns our eyes to the cross that we might learn what sin is. It is not that the blood of Christ must be applied to us again. This has happened once for all, but we should recognize how terrible sins – even the one that I just committed – are, and we do this by seeing what the Lord Jesus had to suffer on the cross for our sins (the trespass offering). In Leviticus 1-7, then, we find not the cross itself, but a looking back upon the cross. The cross itself, as the foundation of our nearness to God, is found in Leviticus 16 and Exodus 29.

Only by looking at what the Lord Jesus had to suffer at Golgotha for our sins do we learn how horrible sins are. He had to be forsaken of God, bear the judgment of God, die – because He “Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24 JND). In this way we come to a true judgment of ourselves and a true sorrow for what we have done. Let us never pass over sin lightly. Never forget that confession of guilt is the only way to restoration of fellowship – confession before God, and before men when they have been affected by what we have done.

Unknown Sins
Often we commit sins of which we are not aware, and sometimes even when we think we are doing something good. But ignorance does not make us innocent! “If a person sins, and commits any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD, though he does not know it, yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity” (Lev. 5:17 NKJV). That is why David prayed in Psalm 19:12, “Purify me from secret faults” (JND).

If we are to confess these sins and thus obtain restoration to fellowship with the Father, we must first be made aware of them. Therefore in Leviticus it says, “If his sin, wherein he hath sinned, come to his knowledge …” (4:23). But who should do this? Who should make us aware of thoughts, words and deeds which others know nothing about? And who should convict us when we feel we are in the right? For this too, God’s love has made provision. “My children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Jn. 2:1 KJV). May we read this verse well and meditate on it.

Christ Our Advocate
The only other verses where this Greek word parakletos, here translated as “Advocate,” is used are found in John 14:16,26, 15:26 and 16:7, translated “Comforter” in each and referring to the Holy Spirit. The footnote in the Darby translation (JND) informs us that this Greek word means “one who carries on the cause of any one and helps him.”

The Lord Jesus now carries on His service in heaven for us. He does not carry it on before God as Judge, for as far as God is concerned our case has been fully settled at the cross, but before God as the Father. The Lord Jesus is our Advocate with the Father when we sin. For believers, He does not become our Advocate only when we repent and confess our sins. No, the moment I sin He is my Advocate in heaven who represents me and my cause with the Father.

And who did we say this Advocate is? He is Jesus Christ the Righteous. He measures up to the righteousness of the Father perfectly, and at the same time He is my righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30). He has completed a work that is so perfect that He is not only the propitiation, or satisfaction, for our sins, but He is that for the whole world. Thus both as to His person and His work He is completely acceptable before the Father – and no less so when He is my Advocate, when I have sinned.

Prior to this we saw that forgiveness is only after confession. Therefore, the second part of the ministry of the Lord Jesus as our Advocate is that He occupies Himself with us and brings us to confession of our guilt. To Him be all the glory!

A Few Challenges from the Story of Nicodemus

By Curt Darling

Who was Nicodemus? Reading through John 3 we see that he was a Pharisee who had a curiosity about the Lord Jesus. Others of that same ruling class probably had questions about Him, but they were not apparently interested in finding out the truth. Do you want to know the truth, the real truth?

Nicodemus was a man of reputation as a ruler of the Jews, yet he came to Jesus by night so as to not damage it. Many people do the same thing. Rather than being open about their interest in Christ they seek to keep their standing in their social circles, whether in their family, friend, school or work settings. Could this be a lesson for us as well?

This Pharisee had been noticing Jesus and admitted that He was a “teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him” (v.2 KJV). Jesus’ response, recorded in the next verse, was likely unexpected by Nicodemus: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This was something Nicodemus could not understand, so he asked, “How can a man be born when he is old?”

Jesus told Nicodemus that a man had to “be born of water and of the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:26 tells us that water is representative of the Word of God. We are only born again by the work of the Word of God and Spirit of God in our hearts, minds and lives. Our natural birth was one of flesh, following in the line of Adam, but to be born of the Spirit means new life in Christ! Like the wind, one cannot see the Spirit, but its effects are very evident. Does this seem to be too much to grasp?

It was for Nicodemus at the time. Jesus rebuked him because as a teacher in Israel and knowing the Scriptures he should have known better. But the Lord patiently continued, speaking of descending, ascending and being in heaven. The Lord Jesus is God. Do you believe that?

Jesus gave an illustration from the written Scriptures in that day (Num. 21:4-9) to help Nicodemus understand. When the nation of Israel wandered in the wilderness, they complained about the manna God gave them to eat. The wandering they experienced, to begin with, was their own fault as they had not followed Him by faith. Are you wandering through life because you haven’t trusted Him? The manna, which the people said they “loathed,” pictured the Lord Jesus and the provision of life He gives through Himself (see Jn. 6:50). How dared they abhor it and, in type, the Son?

This attitude angered God then as it does today, and it demanded judgment. Serpents appeared, biting the complainers; and many people died. Through this the people still living recognized that they had sinned against the Lord ­ something that death still tells us now ­ and they asked Moses to pray for them. Instead of acting for yourself, are you trying to be saved from God’s judgment through the faith of a godly person you know?

As an intercessor, Moses prayed for them, but that was not sufficient to keep them from this judgment of death, nor is it today. The Lord told Moses, “Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live” (Num. 21:8). A person realizing death was coming had to, by faith, turn toward that pole and simply look at that serpent. That person would then live. It worked because God said it would. The fiery serpent on the pole, the Lord revealed to Nicodemus, was a picture of Himself: “He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus works today too! Do you believe?

Whoever believes in the Lord Jesus will not perish. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (Jn. 3:16-17). Jesus continued by telling Nicodemus that a person who believes is not condemned; but the one who does not believe is condemned already. The Lord was the light that came into the world. Unbelievers hated that light for it revealed their evil, but believers came to the light. Don’t you think that Nicodemus was touched by what Jesus said?

Turning to John 7:44-52 we read of how the Pharisees sought to take Jesus. But the officers they sent to do so returned without Him, reporting that “never man spake like this man.” In the course of the ensuing discussion, Nicodemus said, “Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?” Do you want to hear what Jesus said and did?

The Son of Man was lifted up just as was the serpent Moses had made in the wilderness. As Nicodemus saw the Lord Jesus on the cross he must have remembered the first conversation they had had in secret. This Pharisee believed; have you?

Later, John 19:38-42 tells us how Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took care, at their own expense, of the body of their Savior. They placed it in a sepulchre and wrapped it in linen cloths with a large amount of myrrh and aloes. This was in keeping with the Jewish custom. But there is more to this story, for to touch a dead body, according to the law of Moses, was to become unclean and would keep them from celebrating the Jewish Passover, a most important feast, held then. In effect, these men who had followed the Lord secretly, now in a very public way, separated themselves from religion to be attached to the Lord Jesus Christ. They knew who He was and what He did. So, they believed and acted in faith to the honor of the Lord Jesus Christ ­ God Himself. When you look at yourself with this in mind, do you see anything like this in your life?

The Millennium

By Brian Reynolds

“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection … they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” —Revelation 20:6 NKJV

It is a curious fact that there are many Christians who adamantly oppose the thought that there will be such a thing as a millennial reign of Christ over the earth. But the Holy Scriptures are unmistakably clear as to both the certainty and the character of the future kingdom of Christ.

The word “millennium” comes from the Latin and simply means “a thousand years.” Six times in Revelation 20 we find a period of time described as “a thousand years” (vv.2-7). This age follows the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ but precedes the “new heaven” and “new earth” (21:1-4). The “thousand years” is to be understood as a literal period of time. We have no divine warrant to spiritualize it into something other than an actual age of 1,000 years.

There are various terms that the Bible uses to describe the coming millennium. The Epistle of Hebrews calls it the “world to come” (Heb. 2:5). In several passages it is simply called “the kingdom” (Acts 1:6; Lk. 19:11). The Lord said the righteous will shine forth in “the kingdom of their Father” (Mt. 13:43) and called it “the regeneration” (19:28). Peter called it “the times of restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21). Paul described it as “the glorious liberty”1 (Rom. 8:21) and also as “the dispensation of the fullness of the times” (Eph. 1:10). In both Testaments it is called, “the day of the LORD” (Joel 2:1; compare with 1 Th. 5:2).

The millennium will be a blessed time in which believers “shall reign” with Christ (Rev. 20:6). The promise to believers is that we are to have “power over the nations” (2:26 KJV) and we will sit with Christ on His throne (3:21). Today is training time, but then it will be reigning time!

The Millennial Kingdom Will Not Happen Until After The Second Coming Of Christ
“Because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.” —Luke 19:11 NKJV

As the Lord Jesus neared Jerusalem, His disciples were in great anticipation. They sensed something “big” was about to take place: Was the Lord Jesus about to restore the kingdom to Israel and deliver them from the yoke of Gentile rule (24:21)? They were already arguing among themselves which of them should “be greatest” in the coming kingdom (22:24)! In response the Lord told them a parable of a man going into “a far country” to receive “a kingdom” (19:12), meaning that a visible millennial kingdom on earth would not happen any time soon.

Only a few days prior to this the Lord had told the Pharisees that the kingdom of God was not going to come “with observation” (17:20). It would come, rather, in a more “invisible” form because the King would be rejected on earth and return to heaven; thus the kingdom in Matthew is called the “kingdom of the heavens” (Mt. 13:11 JND). Christ’s kingdom will appear in visible display and power, but only in the “times or seasons” that the Father has determined (Acts 1:6-7 NKJV).

Although the millennial kingdom will not come with “observation” until a future time, this does not mean that the kingdom of God is irrelevant for us today. God has delivered us from Satan’s power and “conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13). We were conveyed or translated into this kingdom when we were saved! The “kingdom of the Son of His love” continues during the period that the Son sits upon the Father’s throne (Rev. 3:21). Although not yet visible in display to the world, the “kingdom of God is … righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). It now is the believer’s privilege and challenge to walk in the good of these things by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Restoration Of All Things
“Jesus Christ … whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began.” —Acts 3:20-21

Heaven has received the Lord Jesus, and He is seated at God’s right hand until the time comes when His enemies are “made His footstool” (Heb. 10:12-13). Then, at His second coming2 He will introduce the “times of refreshing” which the prophets spoke of since time began (Acts 3:19). This is where Peter called this coming age “the times of restoration of all things” (3:21). It will be a restoration, literally meaning “to set in order again,” because it will be an age of healing and renewal for the earth.

Creation itself looks forward to that day of deliverance, for it presently “groans and labors with birth pangs” (Rom. 8:22). There will be remarkable changes in the physical creation when this world experiences deliverance from much of its suffering and is brought into “the glorious liberty” (v.21).

Our passage in Acts 3 teaches that all the prophets have spoken of the coming millennial age and its effects on men, the nations and the animal kingdom. But the books of Ezekiel and Isaiah give the most detailed portrait of that glorious day. Ezekiel tells of waters issuing forth from the millennial temple (Ezek. 47:1-11). These healing waters divide into two rivers, one eastward into the Dead Sea and the other westward into the Mediterranean, and ultimately to the world’s oceans (see Zech. 14:8-9). The waters will bring healing and recovery to the fish stocks of the salty, lifeless Dead Sea as well as to the oceans of the world decimated during the Tribulation (Rev. 8:9, 16:3). Isaiah declares, “The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad … and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose” (Isa. 35:1-2). Healing, restoration and life will characterize the millennial earth. What a relief for this sad world!

Peace On The Earth
“They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” —Isaiah 2:4

In a park situated on the east side of the United Nations Headquarters in New York is a stone monument donated in 1959 by the former Soviet Union. Carved into the monument are the words, “Let us beat swords into plowshares.” This quotation is based on the great prophecy of Isaiah 2.

However, it will not be the United Nations or any other institution of man that will bring peace to our world. The prophecy makes it very clear that this will “come to pass in the latter days” (v.2), only after the glory and majesty of the Lord humbles “the lofty looks of man” in the “day of the Lord” (vv.10-12). The Prince of Peace will judge the nations at His coming in glory first, and then He will establish His glorious kingdom, resulting in the end of all war. Families will never again have to grieve the loss of their sons, nor will innocent civilians have to face the horrors and suffering of war in their lands.

Not only will there be a cessation of war, but the armaments of war will be changed for the production of food. The King, Jesus of Nazareth, will completely dismantle the world’s military industrial complex (see Ps. 46:9). The prophecy states that the nations will not “learn war anymore.” How much of man’s time, energy, wealth and science are spent on weapons research and production – not to mention the maintaining of armies and waging wars. The world spends US$1.6 trillion per year on military budgets. This money is more than enough to feed the world’s poor! The focus will be turned from war to agriculture in the millennium. The true Psalmist has announced that “there shall be abundance of grain in the earth” (72:16) A New Heaven And New Earth
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” —Revelation 21:1

The apostle John saw a “new heaven and a new earth” that will come at the end of the millennium. This eternal state is an entirely new creation, whereas the millennium is a renewal or restoration of the first creation. It is important to see this distinction because some deny that there is a millennial reign of Christ and confuse the prophecies that speak of it with the new heaven and new earth.

The millennium will be a time period in which righteousness “shall reign” (Isa. 32:1; Ps. 72:7). Sin and evil will still exist, but they will be greatly restrained and quickly judged (101:8). The righteous reign of Messiah will extend “from the river unto the ends of the earth” (72:8). But in the eternal state, or “the day of God,” righteousness will “dwell” because sin and evil will be entirely eradicated (2 Pet. 3:12-13). There will be no need for righteousness to “reign” because there will be no need for government as such. It will be God’s eternal Sabbath when sorrow, crying, pain and death will no longer exist (Rev. 21:3-4).

In the millennium death will occur, although it will be rare (Isa. 65:20). But at the end of the 1,000 years “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and all the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10; consider Rev. 21:1), then will come the new creation, and God shall be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).

The millennium will be for the vindication of God’s character, which has been maligned in the present evil age. But the eternal state will be for the satisfaction of His nature in which the glorified saints of all the ages will dwell with Him, and He with them (Rev. 21:3). They shall “be His people” and He “their God” forever! ENDNOTES
1. Or “the liberty of the glory” (JND).
2. First comes the rapture of the church which will be followed by seven years of “great tribulation”; then will come Christ’s appearing in glory.

Under Christ’s reign there will be a righteous government, lacking for so long in this world (Isa. 11:3-5). Creation will be set free, not groaning anymore (Rom. 8:19-22). The wolf and the lamb will dwell together (Isa. 11:6-8). The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord (v.9). Satan will be bound in the abyss (Rev. 20:1-2), unable to seduce men. Finally, the Prince of Peace will reign (Isa. 9:6). His reign will be a literal one on this earth with Israel re-gathered, fulfilling prophecy (Jer. 31:10, 32:37; Isa. 11, 24:23). These promises are not fulfilled in a spiritual way in the Church (see Acts 3:19-21; Rom. 8:19-23; 1 Cor. 15:25; Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:20; Phil. 2:9-11). Written after Pentecost, these passages show that this future blessing is still to come.
During His reign:
• Christ will be honored and vindicated in the scene where He was rejected (Isa. 52:14-15; Phil. 2:8-11).
• God’s plan with this earth will be fulfilled, namely that a man should have dominion over creation (Gen. 1:28). Man failed and creation was plunged into the greatest misery, but the true Son of Man will fill that place (Ps. 8:6-8).
• God will keep His promises to His people Israel to bring them back into the land from where they had been driven out and scattered, and that Messiah would reign over them there.

The Father’s Love

By Jacob Redekop

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life.” —1 John 1:1 NKJV

The apostle John was so amazed at the thought of the Father’s love being so great that he stopped to consider it carefully. Like him, our senses are involved when we seriously examine something; and we find the writer mention first the ears – the hearing, second the eyes – the seeing, and then the hands – the touch. After meditating on the One who perfectly displayed love, John, as we should too, concluded that truly this Man is unique!

In this opening verse of 1 John, the apostle began with that “which we have heard.” The disciples actually heard a Man speaking and realized this was no ordinary Man. They listened intently and then passed on to us what they had heard. The multitude marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth (Lk. 4:22). “They were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority” (v.32). On another occasion the officers said, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (Jn. 7:46). To the disciples Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life” (6:63). That is to say, His words produced a spiritual and life-giving effect in those who heard. This can be said of no one else.

The apostle then continued to speak of that “which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon.” The thought is to look upon and contemplate. Rather than just a casual glance, it means to take time and reflect on the One on whom our eyes are fixed – Jesus. In Luke 5 we see the Man who can forgive sins, and the large crowd witnessing this reasoned, “Who can forgive sins but God alone.” The multitude that heard Jesus speak and saw what He did were amazed, saying, “We have seen strange things today!” (v.26).

The Samaritan woman, after her encounter with Jesus at the well of Sychar, went to the men of her city and said, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (Jn. 4:29). Jesus was more than a Jew and more than a prophet; He was indeed the Christ, the Son of the living God. He opened her heart and revealed the Father, who is seeking worshipers to worship in spirit and truth.

Is this not a voice for us today? We who are wonderfully privileged to focus our eyes – our spiritual vision – upon Jesus, read these words:

  • “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels … crowned with glory and honor” (Heb. 2:9), and
  • “But we all, looking on the glory of the Lord, with unveiled face, are transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18 JND).

We know who He is, Son of God and Son of Man – the One who loves us and came down from heaven to save us and reveal the Father’s love.

In 1 John 1:1 we then read about what “our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life” (KJV). After His resurrection the Lord Jesus said to His disciples, “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: handle Me, and see” (Lk. 24:39). The word “handle” means to feel or touch, and the meaning is the same in this passage as in our text.

In Luke 5 we see Jesus in a city where a man full of leprosy saw Him and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus responded, putting out His hand and touching him while saying, “I am willing; be cleansed,” and immediately the leprosy left him (vv.12-13 NKJV). In Luke 8:43-48 we find a woman with a flow of blood for twelve years who came and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. When Jesus said, “Who touched Me?”, the woman came forward, trembling, and declared that immediately upon touching Him she was healed. Jesus’ answer to her is remarkably beautiful: “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

We have traced a little of the life of the Lord Jesus and found that He was available to all that were in distress. He was able and willing to reach out to all with acts of kindness and words of comfort, showing forth the Father’s love. May all who read this find comfort and strength by looking off unto Jesus, the author and finisher of faith.

The Seven Sayings Of Jesus On The Cross

By Jacob Redekop

The four Gospels record the seven sayings of the Lord Jesus on the cross. Three utterances took place in the early hours of His crucifixion and four in the later hours. In this meditation, the seven sayings are not placed in a specific order. Each gospel records those sayings that are in keeping with the theme of that particular gospel. Only His cry of being forsaken is recorded in two gospels, Matthew and Mark, and that is where we begin.

1. “At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” —Mark 15:34 NKJV

Jesus had already been falsely accused by the chief priests and elders and taken to stand trial before Annas and then Caiaphas, the high priest (Jn. 18:13). Afterwards, He was taken to Pilate, to Herod and back to Pilate. The Roman soldiers had brutally beat Jesus, pulled the hair from His cheeks and mocked Him. The prophet Isaiah spoke of this One saying, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isa. 53:7). Jesus Christ, bearing His cross and wearing a crown of thorns, with His back ripped open and bleeding, was led away to Calvary to be crucified.

We stand in awe as we consider the Lord of Glory hanging on the accursed tree. We should have been there, and we would have been had His wondrous love not caused Him to take our place as the blessed Substitute. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Christ Himself gave the answer to this question: “Why have You forsaken Me?” The Lord Jesus was forsaken by God so we would never be forsaken. Instead, we now know and enjoy the love of God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ – God’s gift to us. It was love unbounded, full and free. Paul’s prayer expresses this in Ephesians 3:17-19: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

What was it blessed God, led Thee to give Thy Son,To yield Thy well-beloved for us by sin undone?
‘Twas love unbounded led Thee thusTo give Thy well-beloved for us.
—Ann Taylor (1782-1866)

2. “Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’” —Luke 23:34

Willful, sinful, callused hands nailed the Son of God to that Roman cross. The soldiers stripped Jesus and then placed His body on that cross. They nailed His feet to the beam of wood and His hands to the cross piece. Think of the physical pain and agony when they lifted the cross and dropped it into the hole that had been dug in the ground. The soldiers then sat down and watched Him.

Jesus’ own people, the Jews, taunted Him, saying, “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ’I am the Son of God’” (Mt. 27:43). Psalm 22 gives us this prophetic picture: They surrounded Him with their gaping mouths, circling around like a raging and roaring lion – a picture of Satan – ready to devour. Dogs, picturing the Gentiles, also surrounded Him; and there was none to help.

He could have called ten thousand angels, but He would not. Rather than seeking help to be delivered from His adversaries, He prayed for His enemies, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Unless He endured the cross, despising the shame, Jesus knew that no one could be forgiven. Justice must be satisfied. Satan, the deceiver, must be defeated, and the sinner must be reconciled.

3. “Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’” —Luke 23:43

Jesus, the sinless Son of Man, was hanging on the cross between two guilty criminals, and those who passed by wagged their heads and said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save” (Mt. 27:42). This reminds us of the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow” (Lam. 1:12).

No doubt the two thieves had heard Jesus praying these words, “Father, forgive them.” They had also witnessed His silent suffering on the middle cross. One of the criminals then turned in faith to the Savior, acknowledging his guilt and claiming the message of forgiveness. He said, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom” (Lk. 23:42). Immediately the Lord gave the assurance that on that very day he would be with Him in Paradise. What joy must have flooded the heart of this man who had become a “new” creation in Christ Jesus! We are not told his name; indeed, he represents all who believe. One moment he had feared eternal separation from God, and the next moment he had received the promise to be with the Savior “today.”

Then this new-born man, no longer condemned to the lake of fire, became a gospel preacher to the other thief crucified there. The story of this believing thief still preaches to all who hear this message. Dear friend, have you come to the Savior? He has promised eternal life to all who seek Him. Come just as you are and just where you are. Come right now to the Savior for you may have no tomorrow!

4. “When Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit’” —Luke 23: 46

The very first words of Jesus are recorded in Luke’s gospel, after He was found in the temple and said to His mother, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (2:49). Luke also recorded these words of Jesus, as with a loud voice He cried, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Jesus had been about His Father’s business from first to last. He went about doing good, healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind and seeking the Father’s will in every situation. Just before going to the cross, Jesus had entered the garden of Gethsemane and, being in agony of soul, He said, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (22:42). In perfect obedience He submitted to the will of the Father. With all our hearts we agree with the centurion who saw what happened on that cross and glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous Man!” (23:47).

5. “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.” —John 19:26-27

Only the gospel of John mentions this scene that included himself and the mother of Jesus. While hanging on the cross, Jesus saw Mary and John, the disciple whom He loved, standing nearby. Love had drawn them there while others had fled. What thoughts of sorrow must have filled their hearts as they watched Him hanging there. Jesus, not thinking of Himself or His sufferings, saw His mother and with a caring heart said, “Woman, behold your son!” To the disciple John He said, “Behold your mother!”

In His darkest hour Jesus cared for a mother’s sorrowing heart and spoke words of comfort to her, providing for her emotional and physical needs. Perhaps there is someone reading this who is passing through sorrow and grief and who feels very much alone. Maybe a loved one has been taken and there is no one to give help and comfort. Remember this: Jesus cares for you – for your physical and your spiritual needs. The love that moved Him to go to the cross for you is filled with compassion and ready to meet every need.

6. “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst.’” —John 19:28

After hanging on the cross for the first three hours, the Lord Jesus spoke of His physical sufferings for the first time when He cried out, “I thirst.” Here again we recall the prophetic words of Psalm 22: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd [a broken piece of earthenware], and My tongue clings to My jaws” (v.15). No angel came to strengthen Him. There was none to show compassion at the time of His deepest need. All that men had to offer Him was sour vinegar to drink.

That cry, “I thirst,” had a much deeper meaning, for He came to suffer on the cross in love for you and me. His thirst for our salvation led Him to give Himself for us as “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Eph. 5:2). His was a voluntary sacrifice, for He said, “I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment I have received from My Father” (Jn. 10:17-18).

This Jesus is the same One who sat by Sychar’s well, weary from His journey, and asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. He then offered her living water to quench her spiritual thirst. She drank of that life-giving water and went away satisfied, for she had found the Christ. The Lord was refreshed and satisfied too because He delights to serve a needy soul. Are you willing to come to Him and let Him satisfy your needs and longings?

7. “When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” —John 19:30

“It is finished!” These last words spoken by Jesus on the cross are far-reaching and very rich in meaning. All the types and shadows and all the sacrifices pointing to the cross were now fulfilled. Nothing more could or needed to be added to make it more complete. “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified … Then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more’” (Heb. 10:14,17).

The way into the most holy place is now opened for us, and with boldness, or holy liberty, we can enter by faith into the very presence of God. This holy privilege is for us to enjoy – even speaking to Him as a child to a loving Father. “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water … Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (vv.22,24-25). This is our privilege at the present time, but there is much more to come in “the day” that is fast approaching.

Time and again the Spirit points us to the Lamb of God who, by shedding His precious blood, has paved the way for future blessings which are to be revealed when He comes to establish His kingdom. When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him at the Jordan River, he said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29). This verse encompasses the purposes of God for the ages to come, culminating in the day of God when “we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13).