Saturday, December 31, 2022

All Things Made New

 By Alistair Begg

God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:3-4

The whole idea of a new heaven and a new earth is hard to comprehend. But we can say with absolute certainty that God is going to take what is present and transform it, and He’s determined that no one and nothing will be capable of destroying His perfected kingdom. We can say this with such certainty because He is the God who is powerful to keep His promises, seen most gloriously of all at a wooden cross and an empty tomb. Right now, behind the scenes of what we call history, God is preparing to bring His kingdom in all its fullness—and it is, in fact, something He has been preparing from all of eternity. When Christ returns, He will usher in this new kingdom, a new heaven and earth in which righteousness dwells.

When God’s perfected kingdom is finally established, sin will have been punished, justice will have been satisfied, and evil will have been destroyed. There will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain. Those will all be merely “the former things” that will have “passed away.” When God brings His kingdom to fruition, when His perfect plan unfolds, no one and nothing will be able to spoil it.

The word “new” as it is used to describe the new heaven and new earth in Revelation is not describing time or origin; it’s describing kind and quality. In other words, God is going to transform creation so that it reflects all the glory and magnificence that He originally intended for it. Satan will not get the satisfaction of watching God destroy His creation. Rather, God is going to use fire to purify it, just as He once used water in the days of Noah (2 Peter 3:5-7).

So the new earth will still be earth. It will be a physical place inhabited by physical people, but now it “shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). No wonder, then, that the whole of creation stands on tiptoe, longing to be liberated from its bondage to sin and decay (Romans 8:19-22)!

This new creation is worth waiting for. It is worth living for and even dying for. God is going to renew all things—our souls, our minds, our bodies, and even the environment in which we live. None of the things which currently spoil life on earth will be present, and all that is hoped for, all that is anticipated, will find its fulfillment.

So “we wait eagerly” (Romans 8:23). There is never a need to despair, no matter how dark life may become—for the day God wipes your tears away lies ahead. And “we wait for it with patience” (v 25). There is never a need to seek to seize all you think you need now, no matter how tempting that may be—for the day when God brings all the joy and satisfaction you could imagine lies ahead. Let eagerness and patience be your watchwords today.


Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Follow Boldly

 By C.H. Spurgeon

I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Matthew 10:34

The Christian will be sure to make enemies. It will be one of his objects to make none; but if doing what is right and believing what is true should cause him to lose every earthly friend, he will regard it as a small loss, since his great Friend in heaven will be even more friendly and will reveal Himself to him more graciously than ever. You who have taken up His cross, don't you know what your Master said? "I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother . . . And a person's enemies will be those of his own household."

Christ is the great Peacemaker; but before peace, He brings war. Where the light comes, the darkness must vanish. Where truth is, the lie must flee; or if it remains, there must be a stern conflict, for the truth cannot and will not lower its standard, and the lie must be trampled underfoot. If you follow Christ, you will have all the dogs of the world yelping at your heels. If you live in such a manner as to stand the test of the last judgment, you can depend upon it that the world will not speak well of you.

He who has the friendship of the world is an enemy to God; but if you are true and faithful to the Most High, men will resent your uncompromising commitment, since it is a testimony against their iniquities. You must do the right thing and not fear the consequences. You will need the courage of a lion to pursue a course that turns your best friend into your fiercest foe; but for the love of Jesus you must take your stand. To risk reputation and affection for the truth's sake is so demanding that to do it constantly you will need a degree of moral principle that only the Spirit of God can work in you. Do not turn your back like a coward, but play the man. Follow boldly in your Master's steps, for He has made this rough journey before you. Better a brief warfare and eternal rest than false peace and everlasting torment.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Christmas According to Christ

 By Alistair Begg

When Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.”

Hebrews 10:5-6

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke introduce us to a whole cast of Christmas characters with whom we’ve grown quite familiar: Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, the wise men, and so on. Sometimes we even consider those who are less known, such as Zechariah, Elizabeth, Anna, and Simeon. With each passing Christmas season, we have probably been treated to sermons and studies from the perspective of just about every cast member. Yet there is one notable exception: surprisingly few of us have pondered Christmas from Jesus’ vantage point.

In this verse, the author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us that when Jesus stepped onto the stage of history, He took the words of Psalm 40 upon His lips. Just as Cinderella’s glass slipper fit only her foot, these words fit nobody but Jesus.

God was preparing for the first Christmas throughout the centuries of the Old Testament, for all the Old Testament sacrifices were mere shadows of the reality to which they pointed. Those sacrifices involved the death of animals that had to be prodded to the altar. They had no choice in the matter; they were simply pressed into service. But before He even experienced humanity, Jesus knew His role—His sacrifice—would be different. He willingly consented. In the humblest of forms and in an unexpected setting, God the Son took on a body that was prepared for Him—prepared “as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). He looked at this broken world and its sinful people, and He said to His Father, Yes, I will go there. I will become one of them, and I will die for them.

Peter grasps the weight of Christ’s death when he writes, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus, being fully God and fully man, entered this world to do in His body what no animal sacrifice could do: He has borne our punishment, cleansed our consciences, and held out divine mercy. He perfectly accomplished all that is necessary for sinful men and women to enter into fellowship with God.

This is very different from the promise of mere religion, in which rules and effort become futile mechanisms for trying to climb into heaven. In contrast, the manger’s message is one of liberating mercy. God has wonderfully taken the initiative and come to rescue us through Jesus. We don’t need to make a long journey to find God, because Christ, the newborn King, knew His role. What is the right response? Simply to bow before Him humbly, praise Him wholeheartedly, and wait for Him expectantly all of our days.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

What do Christians Celebrate at Christmas?

 By Alistair Begg.

Many of us are familiar with Christmas carols. Every year, we hear them on our radios, on our smart speakers, on our TVs, or while we’re out shopping. Perhaps we even grew up singing them with family and could speak to some of the story those songs tell. But familiarity with Christmas is a far cry from understanding its significance. It’s one thing to sing about Christmas; it’s quite another to consider where each of us stands in relation to the event it celebrates.

Truth be told, Jesus’ birth has always evoked different responses, both in His day and our own. As it was with Herod (Matt. 2:1–4), the prospect of another king arriving on the scene is unsettling to some. Others, like the shepherds, feel a sense of awe and amazement when they consider Christ’s nativity (Luke 2:8–20). Still others, following the wise men’s course, have determined to offer their most precious gifts as an offering to the Savior (Matt. 2:10–12). And then there are those who, frankly, just don’t know what to make of these events at all.

If we wish to make sense of Christmas, we must answer two questions. First: Who is the child born in Bethlehem? And second: Why has He appeared? Matthew 1:18–25 gives the Son of God two names that, when properly understood, provide the answers to both pressing questions.

Who Is the Baby in the Manger?

The identity of Jesus, the Son of God, is revealed in the name Emmanuel, which means “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). Understanding this name requires a bit of Old Testament background knowledge. That is, the appearing of the Son of God was in fulfillment of prophecies of old. As early as Genesis—the very first book of the Bible’s Old Testament—the promise of God being with His people is present in seed form. Immediately after the account of man’s fall into sin, we read this precious promise: “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). Of whom does this verse speak? Who is involved in it? None other than the Son of God Himself—the one who would crush the head of the serpent, Satan. Like the conclusion of a good mystery novel, where the apparently disparate notes and themes come together to solve the case, so the clues and details in our Old Testaments reach their climax in the arrival of God’s Son.

It’s one thing to sing about Christmas; it’s quite another to consider where each of us stands in relation to the event it celebrates.

The story line of the Bible is not one of man seeking for God but of God seeking for man. Contrary to the notion that history is a kind of haphazard sequence of events, bearing no ultimate significance from ancient times to today, the Bible views history as the unfolding of God’s plan. History is God’s story. We must reckon with the fact that if it were left to us to try and discover God or make sense of history, we never could. There is no intellectual road to God, strictly speaking. The only way that a person can ever know God and make sense of the world and our place in it is for God to put Himself in the realm whereby we might meet Him. And God in fact did this by sending His Son—Emmanuel, “God with us.”

Why Has He Come?

The reason God’s Son came is given in His other name: “You shall call his name Jesus,” the angel instructed Joseph, “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). The name Jesus is equivalent to the Hebrew name Yeshua (or Joshua), which means “Yahweh is salvation.” The child’s destiny is expressed in His name: He came to save sinners.

Throughout the Old Testament, God’s people searched earnestly for a deliverer. When the boy in Bethlehem was born, He was born a Savior into a world in crisis and to a people in despair. And while it’s been a long time since Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, little has changed. Like the people of old, we, too, live in a world marked by crisis and calamity. Our world is in a horrible mess. After all this time and despite all our advances, we still cannot live at peace with one another. We can communicate with someone on the other side of the planet instantaneously, yet husbands and wives cannot communicate with each other across the breakfast table. Children are at war with their parents; relationships are strained. Why? Scripture gets to the heart of the matter: at the bottom of every crisis and calamity is ultimately the reality that our sins have separated us from God. Whatever man may appear to be is not what God has intended him to be.

Jesus was born a Savior into a world in crisis and to a people in despair.

In a word, what’s wrong with the world today is sin—not just sins, but sin. There is a difference! When we think in terms of sins, plural, we’re often tempted to think of the things we have done or have left undone. But the Bible speaks also in terms of sin, singular. We sin because we are sinful by nature—and because we are sinful, we need a Savior. We cannot save ourselves. Our condition demands that someone come from outside and take on our predicament, dying in our place.

Have you found any other contenders out there? Have you found another savior? There is salvation in no one else. The only name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved is Jesus (Acts 4:12).

The Heart of the Matter

Christ’s birth as Emmanuel and Savior is a historical matter—but it’s also a matter of faith. This faith is not a commodity, nor is it something that anyone, aside from God Himself, can give you. Faith, or believing God’s Word, involves the mind, heart, and will. There’s clearly an intellectual component—even though some suggest that there is a kind of wall between reason and faith. But nowhere in the Bible are we encouraged to disengage our thought processes so that we might have faith. The Bible deals in the realms of history and fact. Faith is basically intellectual, in perfect harmony with reason.

Yet faith also has an emotional dimension. Believing involves trusting God’s promises, agreeing with what He has said, and admitting our need before Him. Finally, faith includes a volitional element. In other words, there must be the move from intellectual assent to actual commitment. It is one thing to think true thoughts about God or enjoy the idea of God. But true faith leads to action, stepping out in trust that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.

Here is the heart of the matter: faith is not simply knowing that there was a Jesus or even believing that Jesus is the person that He claimed to be; it is knowing and experiencing His presence and His power in our lives. And the only way we will know that is when we plunge ourselves into the immensity of His love, grace, and forgiveness.

True faith leads to action, stepping out in trust that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.

Have you committed yourself to the Lord? Have you ever plunged into the sea of God’s forgiveness through faith? As the apostle Paul, writing all those centuries ago, declared, “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). So if you’ve never trusted in Christ as your Lord and Savior, perhaps you would make the words of this simple prayer your own:

Lord Jesus Christ, I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but through You I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I thank You for paying my debt, bearing my punishment, and offering me forgiveness. I turn now from my sin and receive You as my Savior. Your Word says that whoever comes to God through You He will never turn away. Hear my prayer, Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Future Glory

 By Alistair Begg

By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

Hebrews 11:22

The book of Genesis ends with Joseph’s death, but that was nowhere near the end of the story. It marks just the beginning of the story of God’s provision and deliverance, which carries on throughout the rest of the Bible and into our lives today.

Joseph took great care over what was to happen to his remains after his death, not because of some morbid interest but to offer a symbol of God’s provision in the past and the promise of a future deliverance. Joseph’s bones pointed future generations of Israel forward to promises that were then yet to be fulfilled.

Despite all the extraordinary trials and experiences that defined Joseph’s life—being betrayed by his brothers, wrongfully accused by Potiphar’s wife, favored by Pharaoh, positioned within the Egyptian royal court, reunited with his family, and so on—the author of Hebrews chose to highlight none of those things but rather Joseph’s faith for what was to come. Why? Because it was so phenomenally significant.

Joseph did not want his family to settle their roots too deeply in Egypt. He knew the promised land was coming. Instead of an elaborate funeral, then, he only asked for his body to be embalmed, placed in a coffin, and left in Egypt (Genesis 50:22-26). Why? He didn’t want his bones to be buried. He wanted his body to be ready to be moved when it was time to travel to the promised land. He recognized that the coffin itself would be a memorial of the fact that the hope of the promised land was as certain as any promise God had ever made. When difficult days would come for the future generations of this growing refugee family, as he surely imagined they would, he wanted them to be able to look to the promise. They could look at his coffin, standing at the ready, and say, Joseph was sure we would leave. If he hadn’t been sure, he wouldn’t have us carting his bones around like this.

Today, you do not have Joseph’s coffin full of bones to look to. Instead, you have an empty tomb to remind you of God’s provision in the past and your promised hope for the future. Christ is “our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.” He is “our eternal home.”[1] Because of Him, you can live through difficult days, and die on your final day, secure in your hope of heaven, our great promised land.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Four Privileges

 By Charles Spurgeon

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

John 10:9

Jesus, the great I AM, is the entrance into the true Church and the way of access to God Himself. He gives to the one who comes to God by Him four choice privileges.

1. He will be saved. The fugitive entered the gate of the city of refuge and was safe. Noah entered the door of the ark and was secure. None can be lost who take Jesus as the door of faith to their souls. Entrance through Jesus into peace is the guarantee of entrance by the same door into heaven. Jesus is the only door, an open door, a wide door, a safe door; and blessed is he who rests all his hope of admission to glory upon the crucified Redeemer.

2. He will go in. He will be privileged to go in among the divine family, sharing the children's food and participating in all their honors and enjoyments. He will go into the rooms of communion, to the banquets of love, to the treasures of the covenant, to the storehouses of the promises. He will go in to the King of kings in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the secret of the Lord will be with him.

3. He will go out. This blessing is much forgotten. We go out into the world to work and suffer, but what a mercy to go in the name and power of Jesus! We are called to bear witness to the truth, to cheer the disconsolate, to warn the careless, to win souls, and to glorify God. And as the angel said to Gideon, "Go in this might of yours,"1 even so the Lord would have us proceed as His messengers in His name and strength.

4. He will find pasture. He who knows Jesus will never lack. Going in or out will be equally helpful to him: In fellowship with God he will grow, and in watering others he will be watered. Having made Jesus his all, he will find all in Jesus. His soul will be like a watered garden and like a well of water that never runs dry.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Necessary Trials

 By Alistair Begg

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance.

Romans 5:3

Whatever the realm of experience, perspective is always crucial. In art, it helps the artist create an image so that a cup appears ready to be filled or a chair seems firmly planted on the ground rather than suspended in the air. Similarly, in life’s trials the right perspective is required if we wish to make the right response. Unless we think correctly about them, we cannot respond properly.

Trials are the means by which our trust in Jesus as our only hope is tested. They help determine whether the faith we profess is genuine or false. When everything is going smoothly, it’s fairly easy to feel confident. But when the wheels fall off—when family life begins to disintegrate, when body or mind fails, when our hopes for this life are dashed—we begin to discover whether our faith is sincere. And when it is proved by testing to be genuine, there is joy, for that kind of faith is “more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire” (1 Peter 1:7).

Difficulties also help us measure the growth of our faith—whether we are stagnant or flourishing. Disappointments and tears often bring more progress and growth in our faith as we put God’s word into practice in ways we hadn’t before and learn Christ’s all-surpassing value in ways we hadn’t appreciated before. As one writer puts it, “The wind of tribulation blows away the chaff of error, hypocrisy, and doubt, leaving that which survives the test … the genuine element of character.”

Testing develops staying power. The Christian life is not a few hundred-yard sprints; it’s a cross-country run that lasts throughout our lives. Marathon runners go through miles that feel difficult and exhausting, but they keep on going. They are not surprised that it hurts. They expect it to. But they know that beyond the hardships lies the finish. The trials we face along our way similarly call for and produce the endurance we need to run our spiritual race well.

Look at the life of any Christian who has soft eyes and a tender heart and you will almost certainly find that they came to that kindness through the experience of trials. It’s easy to want results without effort. Yet this is not how it works. God usually grows our faith in the soil of affliction.

The question to ask yourself is, “Do I believe this?” If you do, it will dramatically change your perspective and your response to life’s difficulties. Trials may still fill you with pain, fear, and uncertainty—but you will at the same time be able to consider them with joy, knowing that your spiritual endurance is being developed and therefore your ability to reach the finish line is being enhanced.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Mercy There Was Great

 By Alistair Begg

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.

Titus 3:3-5

You don’t need a fire brigade to come to your house if your house isn’t on fire; neither would you want a doctor administering an IV drip when you’re perfectly healthy. It’s pointless! Similarly, until we are truly aware of our need for forgiveness, God’s story of grace and mercy doesn’t really mean much to us. We will think it irrelevant.

From time to time, we are all guilty of looking around and recognizing that others are dreadfully in need of forgiveness while turning a blind eye to our own need. “Thankfully,” we say to ourselves (though we don’t like to admit this), “I’m not like them.” By God’s grace, though, we soon realize that we too have been unkind, have said and done things we shouldn’t have, or have failed to do what we should have. In such moments of conviction, we are aware of our need for forgiveness, and we are grateful when it’s extended by those we’ve offended.

We can’t have all the upside of forgiveness, in other words, without the downside of recognizing our sin. First, we need to see ourselves rightly: by nature as lost sheep, rebels against God, empty vessels needing to be filled. We need to accept that however long we go on in the Christian life and however much the Spirit changes us in this life, we never outgrow our need for grace because we never outrun our own sinfulness. We need to realize what we deserve for our sins before we will bow down in wonder at the realization that a perfect Savior died in our place and paid all that we owe so that we might receive God’s forgiveness.

Our great need is to continue to turn to Christ in faith and repentance. Every one of us, no matter where we are in our walk with Christ, needs to pray that God would show us the truth both about ourselves and about our Savior. Then, as we grow in our understanding of all that we deserve, we will adore that very Savior more and more each day. We will stand in awe of God’s love and all that Jesus has done for us.

Pause now, therefore. Ask God, “Show me myself,” and reflect on your own sin. Then ask Him, “Show me my Savior,” and bask in the reality and joy of His mercy. Then His kindness and mercy in saving you will consume your affections so that you joyfully join the chorus:

Mercy there was great, and grace was free; 
Pardon there was multiplied to me; 
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

Friday, December 16, 2022

God's Ways are Everlasting

 By Alistair Begg

They have dealt faithlessly with the Lord.

Hosea 5:7

Believer, here is a sad truth! You are the beloved of the Lord, redeemed by blood, called by grace, preserved in Christ Jesus, accepted in the Beloved, on your way to heaven, and yet you "have dealt faithlessly" with God, your best friend; faithlessly with Jesus, to whom you belong; faithlessly with the Holy Spirit, by whom you have been born again to life eternal! How faithless you have been in the matter of vows and promises. Do you remember your love in the early days, that happy time, the springtime of your spiritual life? How closely you held to your Master then, saying, "He will never charge me with indifference; my feet will never grow slow in the way of His service; I will not allow my heart to wander after other loves; in Him is blessing I could ever enjoy. I give up everything for my Lord Jesus' sake." Has it been so? Sadly if conscience speaks, it will say, "He who promised so much has performed so little. Prayer has frequently been slurred—it has been short but not sweet, brief but not fervent.

Communion with Christ has been forgotten. Instead of a heavenly mind, there have been earthly preoccupations, foolish vanities, and evil thoughts. Instead of service, there has been disobedience, instead of fervency lukewarmness, instead of patience petulance, instead of faith self-reliance; and as a soldier of the cross there has been cowardice, disobedience, and desertion, to a very shameful degree."

"They have dealt faithlessly." Faithless to Jesus! What words shall be used in denouncing this? Words are cheap: Let our penitent thoughts condemn the sin that is so surely in us. Faithless to Your sacrifice, O Jesus! Forgive us, and let us not sin again! How shameful to be faithless to Him who never forgets us, but who to this day stands with our names engraven on His breastplate before the eternal throne.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

A Ransom for Many

 By Alistair Begg

Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Mark 10:45

I like paying bills. I may not like the size of the bills or the frequency with which they come, but it’s wonderful once they’ve actually been paid. Back in the days when bills were often paid in person, I found it especially satisfying to pass my bill across the counter with my payment and then receive it back marked “PAID.”

In these verses, Jesus references His death with the little phrase “a ransom for many.” A few Old Testament examples provide context for Jesus’ use of the word “ransom” here.

Jewish law stated that when a man’s ox killed someone, both the ox and the owner were to be put to death. However, if a ransom was imposed upon the owner, then he could pay it to redeem his life (Exodus 21:29-30). In other words, the owner of the ox could purchase his own life by paying a sum of money. The same was true of setting a relative free from servitude or releasing a field or piece of property from a mortgage (see Leviticus 25). In each case, the ransom involved a decisive and costly intervention to release someone from a form of captivity.

All of these situations in the Old Testament were material plights. What Jesus was referring to, however, was a moral predicament. We are enslaved by sin and have offended God. Jesus explained that only His decisive intervention—this costly purchase of our life—could set us free and make us whole. As the hymn writer puts it, “He took my sins and my sorrows, He made them his very own.”[1]

Christ is our ransom. He “redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” so that we may be released from our bondage when we place our trust in Him (Galatians 3:13). By His death, Jesus settled the judgment against all who believe in Him. When He cried, “It is finished,” He used the Greek word tetelestai, which was written on a bill to declare that it had been paid (John 19:30). In His Son’s resurrection, the Father provided the receipt of the payment. The debt, which was justifiably leveled against us and too great for us to pay, is now stamped unmistakably: “PAID.”

At times, the Evil One will antagonize us and our own hearts will accuse us. “Are you really forgiven? Surely this is one sin too many! Does God really love you? Do you really have a place in glory for all eternity?” When you hear these whispers, remind yourself that Christ strode up to the very bar of justice and settled the account that stood against you. The Father raised Him from the dead; therefore, you can find total security in the fact that He will never again demand payment for any of these accusations. Your account has been settled once and for all. You have been ransomed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

The Great Tribulation and the Wrath of God

 There is some confusion calling for a need to be cleared up concerning the Great Tribulation of the Church and the Wrath of God.

First let us consider that the Holy Bible is divided into three world changing events. First was the Fall in the Garden of Eden whereby Man acceded to the temptation of Satan arbitrarily switching his allegiance, a grievous sin against God. The second was the Crucifixion, Death and the Resurrection of Christ, these two main events are now behind us historically, The third event signaling the close of the age will be the Rapture of the Church with the Second Coming of Christ which is about to happen in God's timing. The Book of Revelation is written in a series of overviews much like a painting. A painter will cover the canvas with a 'wash' to create a background hue and then add other features layer by layer until it's a complete picture. Jesus presented His revelation of coming events in Matthew 24 in the same manner. 

Rather than relying exclusively on the various views of bible commentators, it is wise instead to prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to help us understand scripture and reveal truth in the context of Gods own mindset. Each time when  reexamining the scriptures He reveals yet another layer of truth that may have been seemingly hidden because it was previously difficult to understand.

In Revelation 7:9-14 we read; I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?” I said to him, Sir, you know.” And he said to me, These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

It becomes clear who the multitude is when one takes into account that there have already been millions who have been martyred for their faith down through the ages and in recent times tens of thousands more throughout various parts of the world. Christians living within the Western world tend to resist acknowledging the fact that the Great Tribulation is and has been in full swing for some time because it's an extremely disquieting subject that many are entirely too comfortable in their own lives to even consider. In spite of popular opinion and what people wish to think, it's descending on Western Nations rapidly indicated by the sudden uptick in slander and vile behavior against Christians and Jews alike.

Some suggest that the following verse has to do with end time tribulation "Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; " Luke 21. This is clearly a reference to 70 AD, the destruction of Jerusalem and scattering of Jews into the Diaspora and has nothing to do with the final Great Tribulation that is world wide in scope.

Revelation chapter 8 and most specifically chapter 9 deals exclusively with the Wrath of God that follows a short time after the Rapture of the church when the Lord unleashes His wrath on those who had refused to acknowledge the Sovereignty of Christ and had persecuted the Church, it is in perfect context in terms of the sequence of events to come and will be a horrifying time on earth that most people would prefer to avoid. What God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, (Acts 3: 18-20) 

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)

When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; Then he will say to those at his left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew (25: 31-34 & 41)

Monday, December 12, 2022

An Inside Job

 By Alistair Begg

Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

James 1:14-15

Every sin is an inside job.

As creatures made in God’s image, we have all kinds of desires, and our desires are not necessarily bad. As a result of the fall, though, all of our longings have an amazing potential for evil. Even God-given desires can be distorted and used for wickedness.

We are masters at explaining away our propensity for evil as the fault of the devil, our peers, our heredity, or our environment. Scripture, though, says that we are tempted by our own desires. For all of us, the temptation to disobey God and indulge our desires, whether those desires are evil or distorted, emerges from within.

The devil may come and entice us, but only we make the decision to disobey. Jesus made this perfectly clear: “What comes out of a person is what defiles him” (Mark 7:20). Every temptation comes to us when we are dragged away and enticed by our own desires. And temptation, when succumbed to, eventually leads to death.

Temptation’s allure is seen so clearly in the folly of fish. They see bait; it shines and it sparkles; they go for it—and they get hooked! If the bait is attractive and appealing enough, fish cannot ignore the hook.

Are we really much brighter than fish? If the bait looks pleasing, we try to convince ourselves that there is no hook there. But the hook is there. “Sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” The road of sin leads to the destination of judgment, and on the way it marks our lives in ways that time will never erase—though, in His mercy, God can redeem even these.

As long as we live on this earth, we will never be exempt from temptation. In Genesis, God warns Cain, “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7). This is a telling picture: sin is always waiting inside us, ever ready to pounce upon us.

Be determined, then, to deal with every encroaching advancement of sin. It’s a daily battle. Today, refuse to allow your eyes to wander to, your mind to contemplate, or your affections to run after anything which draws you away from Christ. How? By learning to question your desires, asking, “Is this a godly desire I should feed or a sinful desire I should fight?” And learn to wear the armor of God: to “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). For it is in your faith in God’s Son as your Ruler and your Rescuer that you find both power to stand firm and forgiveness when you fall.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Staying Awake

 By Alistair Begg

The hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed … Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.

Romans 13:11, Romans 13:13

“Careless talk costs lives,” proclaimed a campaign by the British Government during the Second World War. The government wanted people to be aware of the danger around them: that listening enemy ears were ready to pounce on any slip of the tongue.

Here, Paul gives us a similar warning for our Christian lives: carelessness can cost lives. Carelessness makes us susceptible to danger. So many of us live carelessly when it comes to our spiritual lives, walking about in a kind of moral dream, failing to stay awake and alert to the dangers around us. That leaves us vulnerable. Consider just two reasons why it is vital that we stay awake and alert in our pursuit of purity.

First, the apostle Peter tells us, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Let’s not kid ourselves: sin is predatory. The enemy is a lion. Recall the way the Lord spoke to Cain when he was angry with his brother: “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7).

Do you know who makes for easy prey? An isolated Christian. When we’re isolated, we’re vulnerable and without accountability. We “walk properly” most easily in godly company. As children of the daytime, we must not be lured by the darkness, because darkness creates isolation. A passion for purity demands that we walk in the light and with the children of light.

Second, we must stay awake and stay alert because eternity awaits. What is it that made the heroes of Hebrews 11 worthy of the title “heroes”? They were looking for a city beyond them. They looked for a city whose foundation and builder was God (Hebrews 11:10).

Moses, for example, did not succumb to the lure of instant gratification. He did not sell his soul for the moment. He did not give up his ministry, future, and family for comfort and privilege. He chose instead a more difficult course. And what was the explanation? “He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (v 26). Moses was not without blemish, and neither are we. But that must not excuse us from living for the sake of Christ in matters of purity. After all, our salvation is drawing ever closer, and we want to be found ready for the Lord Jesus when He appears.

Whatever your past has been, whatever your recent mistakes and disappointments, it’s not too late to wake up and stay alert. The enemy will not sleep, and eternity will be worth it. Ask God today to write a commitment on your heart to a life of purity, so that today you would walk properly and carefully, with your head up and your eyes fixed on that glorious future day of your salvation.