To say the world is the same today as in years past – that we don’t live in unique times – is just not true. More than any other generation, ours has reason to expect the Second Coming. Jesus and the prophets said to look for specific signs heralding the end times. For over 1,800 years, you couldn’t find one of the signs they said to look for. Today, in one form or another, you can find all of them. Here are just a few examples:
While most Christians agree on the fulfillment of prophecy relating to Jesus’ first coming, such harmony quickly disappears when one turns to prophecies related to His return to earth.
As one who has spent much time in the midst of the fray, I can attest to the pressing need to defend all that we hold dear. Attacks against our beliefs in the rapture, a literal tribulation, the second coming, Jesus’ reign seated on the throne of David, and the eternal state not only come from outside the church, they also emanate from Bible-believing pastors, writer, and teachers.
Believers who do not know how to defend the message of the book of Revelation can become easy prey for those who seek to rob them of its message of comfort and hope.
Why do I make such a seemingly outrageous clam?
It’s because even some pastors of Bible-believing churches relegate much of the book of Revelation to allegory.
Does the study of prophecy add value to the lives of believers they could not receive apart from it? Is it worth the effort talk about our future hope despite the controversy that rages over it today?
Yes, absolutely! The Lord provided us with prophecies regarding Israel, the rapture, and Second Coming throughout Scripture; the last book speaks almost exclusives on future things.
Here are five key reasons for talking about our future hope
I never imagined I would spend much of my birthday in the emergency ward, but that is what happened this past week.
I called my doctor's office this past Wednesday to make an appointment as I had been experiencing dizziness and numbness on my right side on New Year's Eve and Day. The nurse feared I might be having a stroke and said I should go to the ER as soon as possible.
This is my third article on how an amillennial view of Scripture can, over time, open the day to Socialism. I’m writing in response to an article depicting how socialism is gaining a foothold in many churches across the United States.
Please note I am not saying all amillennialists are Socialists, certainly not. My point is that churches with a long history of amillennialism and its accompanying worldview seem to be much more susceptible to a Marxist way of thinking.
I believe this is because they distort the biblical worldview in a number of ways:
One aspect of amillennialism that deeply troubles me is the denial of a future kingdom for Israel. Those who advocate this position believe the Old Testament promises made to Abraham, Jacob, David, and Israel are fulfilled by Jesus Christ and His church in this current age, a spiritual millennium.
They support this assertion through an allegorical interpretation of large sections of prophetic Scripture in both the Old and New Testament.
I believe this disregard for the literalness of prophecy weakens the integrity of the rest of God’s Word. Though often not right away, eventually many non-prophetic passages fall victim to those wishing to overlay a symbolic interpretation upon them that conforms to what they believe.
Immigration remains a hot topic in America. Caravans of migrants are traveling up through Mexico hoping to break into the United States. Some believe we should let them all in and take care of them. After all, isn’t that the “Christian” thing to do?
Others support President Trump in sending the military to protect our border. Our nation has long been a haven for asylum seekers and immigrants, but there is a process for those seeking to enter our nation.
Why are believers so divided on this issue? I believe this comes from confusing the role of government with that of our responsibility to help the needy.
If you have followed the news regarding Brett Kavanaugh Senate hearings, you likely feel the same frustrations I do. The false accusation of a woman, who has no proof whatsoever of her claims, could derail his confirmation to the Supreme Court.
It feels as though the wrong is winning and perhaps for a moment it is. However, Scripture tells me that any success that some may have in discrediting Kavanaugh is not the end of the story. God will have the final say in the matter.
Hope. If there is anything people need today it is hope.
We see this today in the record number of suicides among both the young and old. Despair rather than hope fills the minds of so many today. The outcome of confining all our dreams to this world is often bitterness, anger, fear, and depression. I have tasted of this despair, too, in my past.
The Bible is necessary because:
3. Scripture alone gives us hope
For as long as I can remember, I have always thought that if God exists and is powerful enough to create all that we see, then He’s certainly capable of communicating His Word to us in an accurate and trustworthy way. It’s not that I based my belief on reason, but my thinking opened the door to accept the claims of Scripture to be God’s Word to us.
The Bible is necessary because:
2. Scripture is God’s revelation to humanity
I grew up loving Scripture. It started in Awana as I memorized God’s Word and continued in Sunday school as I marveled at the accounts of creation, Moses, and the Israelites.
Perhaps this is why I feel such grief at the current attacks on the Bible. GQ Magazine referred to the Bible as “one of the most overrated books of all time” and placed it on its list of 21 books “you don’t have to read.” This is so incredibly sad.
The Bible is necessary because:
1. Scripture Defines Right Versus Wrong
Here’s why I love the Bad Guys of the Bible:
1. Bad guys serve as warning signs.
Life is complex and difficult to navigate, that’s for sure. It demands warning signs simply because there are pitfalls everywhere. No one plans to shipwreck their faith, fracture their family, or wound their own soul, but sometimes these things overtake us without the advantage of an honest-to-goodness negative example. I say bring on the bad guys.
2. Bad guys expose and unmask the bad guy I deal with every day, my flesh.
That bully is an imposter and a master of deception. He relentlessly tries to get me to think that he’s my true identity instead of who I am in Christ. He knows how to make himself look good and sound good (he’s religious).
3. Bad guys help me understand that a shipwrecked life is never the result of a single bad decision but a process.
Shipwrecked! Learning from the Bible Bad Guys: A Book Review written by Terry James
Have you ever thought, If I could just do that over again? Or thought, Wish I had made a different decision way back then…
I have done so many times over my many decades of life. It’s a common human trait to lament some of the mistakes we’ve made. But, of course, wishing makes no difference. It changes nothing. If is for children, as the lyrics to Roger Whittaker’s song goes.
To avoid having to constantly look back at our lives and say, “If only…” the avoidance must be accomplished through preventative action. We must prepare in some fashion so that we make wise decisions as they come in order to avoid looking back and having to say “If only…”.
Jonathan Brentner has given us a book that offers such wisdom—how to avoid the pitfalls of life that cause us to look back and have to say “If only…”.
It’s almost too much to bear. I want to do more; I want to do so much more but I do not even know where to start.
I hear about the evils of the horrific sex trafficking and wonder now how people can be so wicked. And yet, this practice (undoubtedly inspired by demons) rakes in untold billions of dollars every year as pedophilia becomes more and more accepted in our society, much in the same way homosexuality became increasingly accepted decades earlier.
A year or two ago I watched videos of Planned Parenthood executives boasting about the dismembering and selling of baby parts and thought, “Surely Congress will take action against this atrocity.” Instead, I watched as leaders of the Republican Party supported the continued funding of this vile organization with our tax money. A couple weeks ago, I saw Democratic Senators celebrate the defeat of a bill that would have at least stopped the wicked practice of abortion after twenty weeks. How can these things be?
A recent article in the Washington Post highlighted what the writer, Michael Gerson, believed was commonplace among Christians, that of bowing to the golden calf of the extreme political right. He made this claim in his article entitled, “The religious right carries its golden calf into Steve Bannon’s battles.’
Because this accusation that Christians worship conservative politicians is common on the left, I have decided to respond to Gerson’s article. I do this both with the purpose of helping you defend your faith against such an allegation as well as a reminder of the importance of keeping your passion centered on Jesus and His Word.
Do you remember the EF Hutton commercials from several decades ago? In the midst of a loud and boisterous party someone uttered these words, “EF Hutton says. . . .” Instantly the noisy room became quiet as everyone leaned toward the person speaking to hear the latest investment advice from the corporate giant.
The commercials no longer appear on our television screen. As the result of a check kiting scandal, EF Hutton dissolved into other companies and no longer exists.
Jesus and His words, however, endure. In Matthew 24:35 He said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Can you imagine any other man or woman making such an incredibly bold and hefty claim? His resurrection proves that this is not the ranting of a lunatic, but the very words of God in the flesh! The words of our Lord will endure forever and ever! That's what He said.
In terms of relative value, can you see how the words of Jesus exceed anything else we might hear? I am not doubting the value of sound investment advice, but there's eternal value in listening when Jesus speaks. His words impart life.
In recent posts, I have examined how the words of Jesus authenticate the book of Genesis as well as the entire Old Testament. What about the New Testament, you might ask? Did our Savior give us any indication as to how He intended to continue speaking to His followers after He ascended back to heaven? Yes, He did!
Jesus Speaks Through the Gospels
In John 14:26 Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Here we have Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit would supernaturally aid the memory of the disciples regarding what Jesus taught them during His ministry. Let’s look at how this played out.
It began with the devotion of the church to the teachings of the apostles (Acts 2:42). This no doubt included the words of Jesus and all He did in their presence. For an unspecified length of time they remained together in Jerusalem proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection, telling people about His life and teachings, and through the Holy Spirit gaining a greater understanding of the Gospel they preached.
As they realized that Jesus was not returning immediately, they wrote done the words and actions of the Savior they had witnessed.
Matthew wrote his Gospel to show his fellow Jews how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of their long awaited Messiah. Mark wrote down the Holy Spirit aided memories of Peter and perhaps added some of the things he personally witnessed during Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem.
Luke was not an apostle, but wrote his Gospel based on eyewitness accounts including that of Mary herself as we see in his story of Jesus’ birth. I favor the idea of one of my professors at Talbot Seminary who believes Luke did his research during the two years that Paul was in prison in Caesarea. He used that time to consult with the apostles in Jerusalem and others who had witnessed the life of Jesus. The Holy Spirit guided Luke as he talked with the many eyewitnesses of the Savior’s birth, life, death, and resurrection.
Later, John wrote his Gospel to persuade people to believe that Jesus was truly the Son of God in the flesh. We can imagine that as he looked at the other three Gospels, the Holy Spirit reminded him of several incidents they did not include and prompted him to add his perspective to what they did include in their accounts.
Jesus Speaks Through His Apostles
The Lord also spoke concerning the rest of the New Testament that the apostles would start writing about twenty years after His resurrection. In John 16:12-13 he said this, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
At the time, Jesus’ disciples had trouble grasping His predictions regarding His death and resurrection. How could they possibly have understood the deeper meaning of the cross or the truths regarding justification by faith? They could not possibly have grasped the teachings of Paul in the book of Romans, but later as they came to grips with how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament and what the cross meant regarding their salvation, they were ready for the Spirit to reveal Jesus’ additional words to His followers concerning the wonderful truths of the Gospel and also of His return to take us home to be with Him.
As time went by, the church recognized the writings of the apostles as God’s Word. Peter, before he died, referred to the letters of Paul as “Scripture” (see 2 Pet. 3:15-16). It was never a matter of people at a later date deciding what should be included in the New Testament but rather of the early church recognizing from the beginning the continuing revelation of Jesus through His apostles.
Jesus Still Speaks Today
From Genesis to Revelation, it’s all God’s Word to us in written form. The New Testament does not contradict the Old Testament, but shows the fulfillment and coherent progression of God’s revelation to us. Everything the apostles later wrote fits perfectly with what Jesus taught during His ministry; it all points to Jesus as ultimate sacrifice for our sin, the author and finisher of our salvation, and His glorious return to earth someday. Rather than contradict His teachings, the New Testament gives us further insight and clarity to what He began to reveal about Himself, salvation, and eternity.
The manuscript evidence for the Bible surpasses that of any ten books from antiquity and it isn’t even close.
Much, much more could be written regarding the integrity of Scripture, the authenticity of what we have today because of the manuscripts, and the Bible’s own internal witness to itself as the Word of God. The manuscript evidence for the Bible surpasses that of any ten books from antiquity and it isn’t even close.
Many might regard me as foolish for believing that all of the Old and New Testament is the inspired Word of God and without error in the original manuscripts. Maybe even some reading this post believe it’s absurd to trust the words of Scripture. However, I’m just basing my beliefs on the words of my Savior and Lord. How can I doubt the words of Jesus, the One upon whom I depend to take me to paradise someday?
EF Hutton fell into disgrace and no longer speaks. Jesus, however, still speaks to us through His eternal Word. Hebrews 1:1-2 says this, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” Through the words of the New Testament, Jesus still speaks to us today!
Are you still listening? Is the Holy Spirit making His Word come alive in your heart?
What causes you to trust the words of another person? Your answer no doubt includes the previous trustworthiness of that individual. Has he or she told the truth in the past? Does he or she have experience or expertise in what they are saying to you? Many considerations go into believing the assertions of someone you know even if you are not conscious of them.
Because Jesus rose from the dead just as He said He would do, we know we can have absolute confidence in His words. We know His claims are true because of His resurrection. It follows that what He says about Scripture is of utmost importance and of necessity must be true. If Jesus is God as He claimed, how could He possibly be wrong in His opinion of the Old Testament?
Because Jesus rose from the dead just as He said He would do, we know we can have absolute confidence in all His claims.
Previously, we looked at Jesus assertions regarding the validity of Genesis. Now we will expand that assessment to the entire Old Testament.
“If You Believed Moses, You Would Believe Me”
Jesus always spoke with the utmost reverence for Scripture, which in His day consisted of what we know today as the Old Testament. He frequently quoted from it and repeatedly referred to its words as something that must be fulfilled (Matt. 22:29; 26:54; Luke 33:37; John 13:18). He criticized the religious people of His day for not knowing it, “But Jesus answered them, ‘You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God’” (Matt. 22:29).
Jesus confirmed the authority of Scripture. In John 5:39-40 He said this to the Jews who by this time were seeking to kill Him, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” A little later he added this, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46).
The tremendous respect of the Jewish religious leaders for Scripture was correct, but they did not fully believe what they read. If they had, they would have recognized Jesus as their long awaited Messiah.
“Scripture Cannot be Broken”
In John 10:35 Jesus said this, “. . . and Scripture cannot be broken.” With these words, Jesus asserts that the words of the Old Testament are absolutely reliable and accurate. They cannot be found lacking in any way. They stand firm; they cannot be twisted to mean something else or neglected as having no value for us.
In Matthew 5:18 Jesus made this strong statement about the Law, which in His day could refer to the entire Old Testament as well as well as just to its first five books, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Scripture will more than pass the test of time; it will endure forever. Everything written on its pages must be fulfilled. Jesus regarded the Law as unbreakable truth that would stand forever.
This is bad news for us. If we cannot be loosed from the demands of the Law, we are in deep trouble. The good news, however, is that Jesus came to fulfill the Law (Matt. 5:17). He lived the morally perfect life we could never live and fulfilled all the other demands of the Law as well. He was the perfect sacrifice for our sins to which all the sacrifices in the Law pointed. He took our place on the cross bearing the punishment of the Law for our sins.
No one else has ever claimed to do that for us. No one else could ever do that for us!
Because the Old Testament is God’s Word and as such “cannot be broken,” Jesus needed to fulfill its demands in our place, which He did. This is why Christ is the only way to eternal life as He claimed in John 14:6. Only He fulfilled all the demands of the Law in our place. No one else has ever claimed to do that for us. No one else could ever do that for us!
“Everything Written about Me . . . Must Be fulfilled”
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is that of Jesus talking with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus shortly after His resurrection. I would love to know all the details of that conversation, but we are left with just a summary, “And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27).
It’s no wonder the hearts of the two listening burned within them as He spoke (24:32). What an amazing time it must have been to listen to Jesus spend perhaps an hour or two explaining how all of the Old Testament looked forward to His coming.
That evening, as He appeared to the rest of His disciples, He spoke these words, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). Now we understand a little bit more about His respect for the Old Testament; it all spoke of Him. As such it tells us much about both His first and second coming!
To Sum Up
Just as with the book of Genesis, Jesus regarded the entire Old Testament as the authoritative Word of God. As such, it’s accuracy in its original manuscripts cannot be broken; it stands forever as the inerrant Word of God. Why am I so confident in Jesus’ evaluation of the Old Testament, you might ask?
First, I know the character and trustworthiness of my Savior. If He as the most loving and self-sacrificing person who had ever lived verifies the integrity and accuracy of the Old Testament, whom am I to question it? Secondly, Jesus said “whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus did not come as an opposing view to the God of the Old Testament. He came to fully reveal Him to us. He is the Word of the everlasting God made flesh. Thirdly, Jesus accurately predicted the timing of His resurrection from the dead. Has anyone else ever done that? I can trust His words.
Lastly, Jesus is my Savior. What does it say about my future hope if He as someone who claimed to be God was wrong about something as critical as Scripture or about anything for that matter? I trust his ability to take me from this life to forever.
Do you trust Jesus enough to agree with Him regarding the words of Scripture?