At the Beginning

This entry is part 50 of 50 in the series Holiness Matters
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Many people have no idea that God is involved in their lives before they even know him personally. The Holy Spirit works in our lives before we come to faith in Christ. There are a couple of things he involves himself in with us.

God has been chasing every person, seeking relationship with his tainted creation. Every single one of us contains God’s image whether we have a relationship with him or not. It’s his goal to restore his relationship with us that was lost in the Garden of Eden.

Before anyone gets angry about God working in the background of our lives whether we are his children or not, think about that. God pursues us before we even think about him. He loves us so much that he is willing to invest in us even if we don’t accept him.

Jesus went to the cross and died for every human being that has ever lived. And yet many people will never become Christians or return his affections. You know God’s Spirit is working in your life whether you come to Christ or not.

The Holy Spirit is working in the world and working in you. He wants to show you what relationship with God looks like. So let’s dive in and look at a couple of things the Holy Spirit does to bring us to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Conviction

One of the first things the Holy Spirit does sounds like a bad thing, but it’s not at all. He is in the world, convicting it (John 16:8-10). John explains that there are three ways in which the Spirit convicts the world.

The first conviction is of its sin. The world is full of sin and people who commit sin because they don’t know God. There are many different definitions of sin throughout Scripture. The most common are to transgress, or cross over God’s laws. It’s like when we step over the line.

Another way the Bible describes sin is “missing the mark.” Think about people who throw darts or shoot arrows. There’s a mark in the middle of the bull’s-eye that they want to hit. But it’s not that easy. Many people don’t even know that God has a mark to hit, let alone be able to hit it without his divine help in the Spirit.

John defined sin for us when he talks about the Spirit convicting the world (John 16:9). Sin for John means to disbelieve in Jesus. The world is separated into two groups: those who believe in Jesus and those who don’t. Unfortunately, there are serious eternal consequences for those who don’t believe.

There’s a whole world out there of people who may not have heard the name of Jesus. They don’t realize the eternal consequences of their lives and every decision they’ve made. And it is up to Christians to share their belief of Jesus with them. Jesus commanded us in the Great Commission to spread the name of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20).

The Spirit also convicts people concerning righteousness. I define righteousness as holiness and action. Holiness refers to our character but holy character results in righteous action. The way we treat others matters to God because they bear his image. It also matters because we are his children and his representatives on earth. People watch what we do and they connected directly to the God we serve.

When Jesus talks about righteousness, he refers to his own departure from Earth to the Father (John 16:10). What does that have to do with righteousness? We learn righteousness from God, and Jesus taught us about righteousness throughout his earthly ministry.

We must take Jesus’ teachings on righteousness and practice them before others because he is no longer here to show them the way. This makes Jesus not only the authority on righteousness but the source of it. Because he is not physically here, he leaves it to us to demonstrate his righteousness before others in the world.

Jesus also tells us that the Holy Spirit will convict the world with judgment (John 16:11). More specifically, his judgment refers to the devil, Satan. He will judge Satan because he is the ruler of this world, and look what he has done with it.

While our destination as Christians is to live with God forever in heaven, Satan’s eternal judgment will be the fires of Hell. Because of his deception and misleading the people of this world, he will pay the ultimate price, God’s justice.

He will be judged with the world. Anyone in the world who follows the devil, and that means anyone who doesn’t follow Jesus, will also be judged along with him. That’s the worst part about it. No one who sins is innocent, even though the devil leads that person into it.

No one, not even Christians, should look forward to the judgment of this world while there’s still time. There are many who have been suckered into sinning against God. But they do it with their eyes open. So God’s judgment on this world will be harsh.

His wrath will be poured out in his anger against sin, and then comes his judgment. On the Day of the Lord, Christians will be happy that the world receives its judgment, but until that time, we have the ability to share Jesus with others and see their lives changed.

All the more, we who believe in Christ and know the truth must spread the good news of Jesus. There’s only a short time between now and the end, when it will be too late for them to accept him.

And the best part, which we will talk about in other posts, is that the Holy Spirit gives us the boldness to witness to others about Christ. He will even put the words in her mouth. But we must open those mouths for him to speak through us.

Regeneration

The Holy Spirit, after he has convicted the world of sin, opens the door for them to accept Christ and live for him. Before a sinner can respond to the gospel, the Holy Spirit must regenerate their spirit. Only then can they hear the gospel as a diamond instead of nonsense.

Let’s talk about why the Holy Spirit must regenerate our spirits before we know Christ. Romans 1 gives us some of the characteristics of those who don’t know Christ. Unbelievers start under the wrath of God (Romans 1:18).

Because of ungodliness and unrighteousness, he is well with his right to pour out his wrath. Unbelievers suppress the truth of who God is. They don’t want to hear about a righteous God in heaven when they are unrighteous.

By suppress the truth, Paul means those who don’t know God knew the truth about God. But they don’t want to admit it or let anyone else know about it. They would rather live in blissful ignorance. But ignorance is not bliss when they meet God after they die.

Just because people suppress the truth about God doesn’t mean they aren’t responsible for that truth. I can refuse to believe a fact. But that fact will hit me square in the face. I can say that gravity is a hoax, but if I fall, the truth of gravity still exists and is still active.

God hasn’t been silent about himself or his plan for every human being that walks this earth (Romans 1:19). But people don’t want to know about God because along with that knowledge comes responsibility to live the kind of life God desires from us.

Nobody has an excuse when it comes to the knowledge of God (Romans 1:20). Even though God is an invisible Spirit, he has clearly made himself known. Creation is the main example. He has made these things that we can see with our eyes and touch with our hands.

His eternal power and divine nature speak to creation itself. In fact, that’s how creation came about, through his voice. He has been showing himself in the handiwork of his fingers from the beginning of time and space.

People have known God exists, but they choose to live their lives their way and ignore God (Romans 1:21). They don’t honor him or give him the honor he is due. And even more, they didn’t thank him for all that he has done. After all, he created this earth, needed a place where we could live, and gave us life.

So the result of people knowing God is there and not acknowledging him made them minds futile. There thinking led them to nowhere. Even their hearts were darkened (1:21). They became foolish in every aspect of their person. Instead of God’s light revealing himself to them, they were darkened and had to rely on themselves.

This is what led to the difference between godly wisdom and earthly wisdom. People claimed to be wise and offer all kinds of advice that didn’t line up with how God designed the world to work (Romans 1:22). They made their own way, scratching out a meager existence in the dark when they could have walked in God’s guidance in the light.

They decided it would be better to make their own images out of the things they saw around them, God’s creation, rather than acknowledge and worship the Creator (Romans 1:23). They could’ve known and had relationship with God himself, but they settled for the stuff he made.

So God had no choice but to give people over to their own desires (Romans 1:24-32). Paul goes into detail about how God gave them over several times. But if you were to continue to read the book of Romans, you would find out that God did not stop there.

This is where his Spirit comes in. He makes it possible for us to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ with fresh ears, a fresh heart, and a renewed spirit. This is when our eyes light up in the gospel lands on good soil. We realize for the first time that all this time God was right and we were wrong.

We see clearly and we want what God has always wanted to offer us. I remember that moment when the Holy Spirit regenerated my heart and I heard the gospel for the first time. I was only five years old, over 30 years ago. But I remember thinking to myself, “Why haven’t I seen this before?” That is the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.

He makes our hearts ready for the gospel. He sets our minds to hear and listen. Hearing this one thing, where we allow the sounds to go in through our ears. But listening is when we pay attention and examine them for ourselves. That’s what the Holy Spirit does for us in regeneration.

And we will never be the same again. Sure, there are people who hear the gospel after being regenerated by the Holy Spirit and don’t receive it. Jesus talks about that in the parable of the four types of soils (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23). But the vast majority of us hear the gospel and accept Christ’s offer to change our lives on this great journey of holiness.

Conclusion

Why am I talking about what the Holy Spirit does in our salvation when I’m supposed to be talking about holiness? Simply because without salvation, there is no sanctification or holiness. I will be covering what the Holy Spirit does in sanctification, but we must understand where we were before we can see where we are going with Christ and the Spirit.

You may be able to see now what the Holy Spirit has done even to get you to the point of salvation. But after that, it’s all about holiness and the road to our destination where God is our God and we are his people.

Leave a comment and let me know what you have taken away from knowing all of the attempts the Spirit has made to bring you into a glorious place in Christ. And if you have not yet had the opportunity to see all that God has done for you to bring you to Christ, please let me know and I will introduce you to him.

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Father and Son

This entry is part 261 of 264 in the series Inquiring Minds
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Are Matthew 11:27, 24:36, Mark 13:32, Luke 10:22, Acts 1:4-6 contradictions about the Father and Son?

There are two different issues this question raises about the Father and Jesus. I will address them one by one. First, let’s deal with Matthew 11:27 and Luke 10:22. This has to do With the Relationship between the Father and Jesus. Here are the two verses:

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27, ESV)

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”” (Luke 10:22, ESV)

first of all, these two verses are parallel to one another. You’ll notice that the quotations above are nearly the same. So I will deal with this saying of Jesus found in these two verses. This saying has to do with God the Father giving all authority to Jesus. But it also has to do with the exclusive knowledge between the Father and Jesus, as well as everyone Jesus reveals the Father to.

This exclusive knowledge of one another occurs because both the Father and Jesus are two of the three members of the Trinity. They have a special knowledge of one another that no one else has. Because they are so close together, have such an intimate relationship, no one knows them like they know one another.

There is no contradiction in these two verses. They are saying virtually the same thing about the relationship the Father has with Jesus and Jesus has with the Father. Anyone who knows Jesus will also have a special relationship with both of these members of the Trinity.

You may be referencing this special relationship between the Father and Jesus because the next verses pointed out suggest that Jesus does not know everything the Father knows. But I want to make a distinction between knowing a person and knowing what they know. This distinction comes in handy as we look at the next verses.

Let’s deal with the second issue, that of Jesus not knowing what the Father knows while he was on earth. Jesus says he doesn’t know the time that the Father would send him again. These come from Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32, and Acts 1:4-7.

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36, ESV)

“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32, ESV)

The day Jesus refers to is the day that the Father sends him back to earth to gather up the Church. It is a time in the end times. But the issue here as far as a contradiction is that Jesus doesn’t know while he is on earth, and I stress that, when this day will be.

When Jesus came to earth one of the theological understandings is that he limited himself in certain areas of his divinity. One of those areas may have been his supernatural and infinite knowledge.

There are times when Jesus shows surprise while in human form on the earth. Many scholars believe he limited himself in certain areas like divine knowledge, but only for the time that he was here during his incarnation.

This does not make him any less divine. It does not make him a lesser member of the Trinity or even not a member of the Trinity while he was on earth. There are other times when he shows his divinity quite naturally.

Jesus’ divinity and identity does not change despite his form. Anyone would be hard-pressed to argue with every action whether he is showing his divine or human side. The fact is that Jesus is both divine and human at the same time.

The second matter I must address are the different types of knowledge a person can have. The first two verses we pointed out earlier have to do with the relational knowledge Jesus and the Father share of one another.

But that is wholly different from a factual knowledge. A factual knowledge means I know facts that you may not know. There is no contradiction in the Father knowing a fact (when Jesus would return to earth in the end times) that Jesus didn’t know at that moment. Factual and relational knowledge are two different types of knowledge.

Now let’s look at the passage from Acts that was pointed out to carry what you are asking might be a contradiction. This also is not a contradiction. Let’s look at the verses from Acts. You asked me about Acts 1:4-6, but I believe you actually wanted to reference Acts 1:7. Verse seven is the verse that deals with the issue of Jesus knowing what the Father knows.

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. (Acts 1:4–7, ESV)

Something changes in the book of Acts. While Jesus during his earthly ministry readily admitted that the Father knew a fact he didn’t, when he would come back in his second coming, he does not admit that in Acts 1:7.

He says, “It is not for YOU to know…” He does not admit as he did in the Gospels that he does not know. What happened between the Gospels and Acts? God raised Jesus from the dead and he joined the Father in heaven. It’s possible that the Father then informed him of any facts he was not aware of while on earth during his incarnation in ministry.

So there are no contradictions in any of these verses in the question. Each of them can be explained with the understanding of factual versus relational knowledge.

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Epistles

This entry is part 260 of 264 in the series Inquiring Minds

What are the major and minor books of Epistle in the Bible?

I’m not sure if you are referring to the prophetic books in the Old Testament or the epistles in the New Testament. Major and minor usually refer to the prophetic books. There are five major prophets and twelve minor prophets. You can find them toward the middle and end of the Old Testament.

But if you’re referring to the epistles, they are generally broken up into Paul’s epistles, of which there are 13, and the general epistles. Of the general epistles, the apostle John has three, Peter has two, and then there are Hebrews, James, and Jude. Some scholars include John’s Revelation in the general epistles and others make it its own category of New Testament prophecy.

Of Paul’s 13 letters, four are letters written to an individual (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon). The nine letters written to churches are Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians. The letters written to churches are named for the cities from which those house churches originate.

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Unconvinced

This entry is part 259 of 264 in the series Inquiring Minds
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Who are “they” that will not be convinced if someone should rise from the dead in Luke 16:30-31?

This is one of the most interesting parables Jesus taught, only found here in Luke. It’s about the time in the afterlife when a poor man named Lazarus finally gets his reward and the rich man who treated him terribly ends up in Hell.

The rich man begs Abraham to send someone back to rise from the dead to tell his five brothers about the afterlife. But Abraham refuses to do this because they have the witness of the Scriptures.

The rich man is talking in the context about his five brothers believing and repenting if someone rises from the dead to tell them about the afterlife and the truth. But Abraham remains unconvinced that they (the five brothers) will listen to the person even if he raises from the dead.

However, Jesus does not tell this parable about the five brothers. He is talking about everyone who has not listened to God’s Word. Parables are always told for a larger reason than their immediate context. And every person or player in the parable is a reference to an actual person or group of people.

For instance, many of the parables are about Israel, Israel’s religious leaders, unbelievers, believers, and others. So the “they” may refer to the five unbelieving brothers in the parable’s immediate context, but it’s wider and larger context is anyone who does not believe in Jesus’ teachings and in the Word of God.

Those who are unconvinced of the message of God’s Word are represented by the five brothers of the rich man. Abraham’s message to the rich man and to us is that if the testimony and witness of the Scriptures does not convince them of the truth of God and everything he has said in the Scriptures, even someone being raised from the dead, a truly miraculous and wonderful sign, will not change their mind.

Those who do not believe are dead set in their ways. Even the witness of Scripture does not change their minds. It takes the miracle of the Holy Spirit regenerating their spirits for them to hear the gospel and respond to it in faith.

Everything that a person needs to believe in Jesus Christ is already provided in the Scriptures. They are witness enough. They are what God has given us to believe in him.

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Kingdom of God

This entry is part 258 of 264 in the series Inquiring Minds

What is meant by “the kingdom of heaven is within us”? Are there any Bible scriptures that speak about the Kingdom of Heaven being within us?

This phrase, “the kingdom of heaven is within us” is found nowhere in Scripture. However, there are a couple of close phrases to it. They do not mean the same thing that is implied in the verse quoted in the question.

In Luke 17:21, the phrase Jesus uses is, “the kingdom of God is in your midst.” The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming. He told them in response:

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”” (Luke 17:20–21, ESV)

We must first define the kingdom of God before we can fully understand Jesus’ statement. Does the kingdom of God here refer to the end times and the eschatological return of the Son of Man? If you read on in the passage you will find Jesus talking about the end times and when he is coming back.

If we take the kingdom of God to refer to God’s kingdom or his reign over people, we may understand Jesus to be telling the Pharisees at the kingdom of God cannot be visibly seen. What he means by this is that his kingdom starts in the hearts of every human being that chooses to follow and obey him.

If this is the case, the kingdom of God occurs in Christians who spread the gospel that they received to others. The kingdom of God expands one person at a time as we witness to others about Jesus and they become his disciples.

If this does refer to the end times event of Jesus returning as the Son of Man, then the kingdom of God will not be visible until the sky lights up as he returns in the clouds. This is another possible interpretation of this passage.

The only way you can understand this to mean that the kingdom of God is within us is if the “us” refers to believers who follow Christ, are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14), and are serving God.

We must also remember that in the immediate context of these verses, Jesus is the one standing in their midst. We can also understand him to be saying that he, as the one who inaugurates the kingdom of God, is standing before them. He is not only the King of God’s kingdom, but he himself is God’s kingdom in person.

There is another phrase that comes close to this one as well, “the kingdom of God is near you (or has come near you).” When Jesus is casting out demons, he tells the religious leaders that if he is doing it by the finger of God than the kingdom is upon them (Matthew 12:28; Luke 11:20).

When Jesus begins to demonstrate the power of God and his kingdom over the demonic kingdom of this earth, he is showing that the kingdom is breaking out against demonic forces. God is taking back what is rightfully his. And he is using Jesus as his his King to bring in his kingdom.

In Luke 21:31 Jesus is teaching on the end times events that will occur and says that when we see these things begin to happen that he prophesies about, the kingdom of God is coming near us.

So other than the kingdom of God spreading from person-to-person through the message of the gospel as Jesus rains in our hearts, we will see the kingdom upon us and coming near when we see demonic forces broken in our world and when we see the end times events Jesus prophesies when he speaks this phrase.

God’s kingdom has already been inaugurated by Jesus throughout his life and ministry. But he continues to expand through evangelism and the message of the gospel, the commitment of new disciples and converts to the kingdom of God. And it will come in its entirety and fullness in the end times when Jesus returns to this earth.

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Meaning of Revelation

This entry is part 257 of 264 in the series Inquiring Minds
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What does the Book of Revelation tell us?

John’s Revelation is of Jesus Christ. It is set in the end times, the apocalypse in which the world has turned against God and worships the dragon, the beast, and its false prophet. In these unsteady times, the book of Revelation shows how Jesus is the unmatched King of the universe.

Jesus is greater than anything that may be faced in the end times or the apocalypse. The last days are already upon us at the end of days is coming soon. Christians must feel safe in Jesus’ arms. He protects the saints despite what’s going on around them.

While heavenly beings from the four creatures around the throne to the angels in heaven worship Jesus and carry out God’s judgment upon the earth, events get worse and worse for everyone on earth. Despite God’s judgment the people refuse to turn to him.

All of this culminates into the battle of Armageddon where Jesus finally brings the complete judgment of God upon the earth and the kingdoms of this world. He rules the earth physically for 1000 years in the millennial reign and after it, humanity still turns back to the evil dragon, Satan.

The book ends with God’s final judgment and then celebration of God’s rule over his creation. The last two chapters tell of the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven. This is after God creates the new heavens and new earth. Eternity begins and the people of God enjoy his presence in heaven forever.

The message of Revelation is that no matter what happens around us, Christians can feel secure in God’s reign. Jesus is on our side and things will get worse before they get better. But Jesus is with us always. We don’t need to fear anything that happens on this earth.

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Four Views of Revelation

This entry is part 256 of 264 in the series Inquiring Minds
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What are the four main views of the Book of Revelation?

The four different ways a person can understand the book of Revelation are the Historicist, Preterist, Futurist, and Spiritualist/Idealist interpretations. I will give a quick summary of each.

  • Historicist – popular with the early church fathers and several throughout history. It presents Revelation as God revealing the entire church age in advance through the symbols and visions it shows. It’s the least popular view today.
  • Preterist – interpreters who believe that the book of Revelation was fulfilled shortly after the time of the apostle John. Many see the prediction of the fall of Rome. They link these events to the time of John. Much of their interpretation involves Rome in the first and second centuries.
  • Futurist – this interpretation understands everything after the third chapter to concern fulfillment in the future even of our time. They understand that John saw the future and could only explain it in his first century terms. They seek to interpret it in light of the future, awfully hard to do because we live in the present.
  • Spiritualist/Idealist – These interpreters see the book of Revelation more for its symbols and signs. They don’t attach it to any timeline. Instead, they see this book as filled with principles for living, recurring themes found throughout Scripture, they focus on the book not as fulfilling prophecies in a certain time period but useful for all generations.

Today you will find a few historicists but not too many. This view has generally been rejected over time, especially in our day. The reason for this is that most people believe we are in the final part of the Church age and many do not see the connections the early church fathers did.

There are a few more preterists out there. Especially those who spend a lot of time close to the text, called exegetes, hold this view. Because the book was written in the first century, they connect all of the events to the events of John’s day. But this largely discounts the prophetic nature of the book.

Probably the most popular views are the futurists and the spiritualists. The spiritualists want to get whatever they can out of the book of Revelation. They seek to understand the principles and the signs that John speaks of.

They don’t necessarily connect it to prophecy or to fulfillment. They don’t see the book as an apocalypse as much as they view the rest of the Bible, especially wisdom literature and the epistles.

I would say the most popular view of all is the futurist view. Many people see this as a book containing truths and sequences that will happen soon in our future. They connect it with prophecy and future fulfillment. They see in its pages a lay of the land of what the world will face in the end times and on the Day of the Lord.

You will find many people mixing views to create hybrids. For instance, I tend to lean toward a futurist/spiritualist view of the book. I see a lot of connections with the Old Testament and a repetition of many of God’s judgments. But at the same time I believe that it is prophecy of the end times.

There is a fifth view or way to look at the book. Revelation itself tells us that it is a prophecy of John the apostle (Revelation 1:1, 3). So we can understand it to be prophecy about the future. I think those views that agree with this the most, including the Preterist view that looks from the future of the apostle John in his day, can be credible.

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Biblical Wisdom

This entry is part 255 of 264 in the series Inquiring Minds
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What does the Bible say wisdom is based on?

Wisdom is based on God himself. God is the one with ultimate wisdom. From the foundation of the world God had the wisdom to create out of nothing everything we know and see. Jesus himself is depicted as Wisdom when he is called the Word in John 1:1.

The Word that John references is the foundation of wisdom for the Greeks. Greek philosophers understood the Logos, or the Word, almost as God himself. But since they had multiple gods, they simply had a philosophical version of a monotheistic view.

Wisdom appears throughout the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, wisdom is the successful and godly approach to living life and honoring him. It includes many concepts, such as knowledge, understanding, insight, and a few other disciplines that, put together, equal wisdom.

Wisdom from above as mentioned by James (James 3:13-18) concerns the conduct of Christians. The way we act shows our wisdom or lack thereof. Paul also talks about Jesus as God’s Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-31).

The world also has a wisdom of its own. This earthly wisdom lacks the true sense to give counsel that will actually help a person. Because God designed and created all of creation, he wrote the book, the manual and roadmap, for how to live the way he designed it.

Godly wisdom brings us godly success that makes us fully in the choices we make. His counsel alone provides the proper solutions to all of life’s problems. Only through listening to God through his Word, the Bible, and the Spirit can we please him with the choices and actions we make.

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Who Is This King of Glory Part 4

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series King of Glory

The King is Coming Again

OT Prophecies of Christ’s Return

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Darkness covered the earth in the midst of the day as the huddled masses of soldiers and tanks cowered in the corners of the Middle East. Deafening blasts of rockets and attack planes roared overhead. The nations have gathered to stand against Israel and against its Messiah.

There He is, standing on the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem. He looks so other-worldly, almost like an alien glowing like that. And you must not catch His gaze, or He might burn right through your soul.

At least, these are some of the rumors sweeping through the encampments. So this then is the secret weapon of Jerusalem, the Messiah Jesus on the mount. But what can one Man do against the whole of the earth’s military might? And then the earthquakes start as His feet touch the Mount of Olives and it separates from east to west! What happens next, no one knows, or do we?

While this fictional account of an event yet to happen may be rife with inaccuracies according to this theological framework or that one, it does refer to a future event that we can know some things about.

Many people think the book of Revelation is the only place we can learn about these events, but there are many Old Testament prophecies about the return of the Messiah. There are also several psalms and some other places that are about Jesus’ return.

First of all, the second coming of Christ comes in two stages. The first is the rapture where Jesus comes in the clouds and takes away the church before the Great Tribulation. Christ will not come to earth, but will be seen in the clouds.

The second part of the second coming of Christ is when he comes to earth and appears as he left in the book of Acts. He will set his feet down on the Mount of Olives. During his return to the earth, he will fulfill the final part of these prophecies.

Now to some of the Old Testament prophecies that proclaim key truths about the second coming of Jesus Christ. One of them is actually given around Christmas and begins by talking about the incarnation of Christ, the child that is born to us, from Isaiah 9:6.

In the second part of that verse, after the promise of a son being born, Isaiah says that the government will be upon His shoulder. This is an image of Jesus ruling and running the government. This did not happen in his first coming.

I believe that many of the prophecies about the Messiah have a connection to Christ’s second coming. Old Testament prophecy tends to have multiple fulfillments. It usually has at least three points of partial or complete fulfillment.

Many times, a prophet would prophecy something that would be partially fulfilled in his time or soon after. Then other points of partial fulfillment may follow throughout human history with a final fulfillment that fully completes the prophecy.

Let’s take an example from Isaiah 7:14. You hear this quoted around Christmas time as well, but the reason is quite biblical because Matthew quotes from this verse in talking about Jesus’ supernatural virgin birth. And in fact

That is the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 7. But let us look at the context to see the original fulfillment. Read Isaiah 7:10-17 and see the context. Historically, Ahaz was a wicked and idolatrous king for Judah.

He was worried about the Northern Coalition of Assyria and Syria with the northern kingdom of Israel that wished to attack Judah. Instead of trusting in the Lord to save Judah, the king wanted to turn to Egypt in the south the house of Israel’s slavery, for an alliance.

Isaiah goes to the king to counsel him not to look to Egypt but to the Lord instead (Isa 7:3-4). He insists the kings of the northern coalition will come to nothing, that they are mere smoldering firebrands that will fade in time.

King Ahaz doesn’t need to do anything about them or fear them because they are short-lived threats. But he does not believe Isaiah that they will be no problem for Judah within 65 years (Isa 7:8).

To prove this point, the Lord through Isaiah gives a sign that the king would know that this prophecy about the nations falling in 65 years would be true. Enter our verse from Isaiah 7:14, part of a proof that the other prophecy will come to pass.

The king does not believe the prophecy (Isa 7:10-13). So Isaiah confirms it with this word: there will be a virgin that will give birth to a son and name him Immanuel. This boy will eat curds and honey, and then at the age of his accountability, the northern coalition Judah fears will be desolate.

Now, we could get bogged down in the details of the word for virgin or what the age of accountability might be, but what I want to stress here is that this is a sign for Ahaz that shows that the nations will be destroyed within 65 years. Isaiah said this so that Ahaz would know that.

So the first fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 is historically within King Ahaz’s time. However, Matthew 1:23 quotes from Isaiah 7:14 as fulfillment of prophecy that Jesus is the Messiah because of His supernatural birth through a virgin.

The example shows us a prophecy can have more than one point of fulfillment, partial and complete fulfillments throughout human history. Now, let us look again at Isaiah 9:6 and following with this in mind.

In Isaiah 9:6, the prophecy states that the Messiah will essentially run the government. “Being on his shoulder” might refer to an insignia worn on the shoulder of a uniform, like the Roman soldiers. This part of the prophecy is not directly fulfilled in Christ’s first coming.

The closest we could get to fulfillment of this government idea would be to say that Jesus is King of the Kingdom of God, and that He instituted this kingdom in His first coming. But, if we look at the Millennial Reign of Christ, then we have a different idea of this fulfillment.

Jesus will rule the government as King with strength and protection for God’s people. Take a look at Zechariah 14:16-19, where there is a plague and no rain for crops for those who do not worship the Lord Jesus during His kingly millennial reign.

But continuing with Isaiah 9:6, we see then the names that Christ is given in this reign. Now Jesus is the same no matter the time period, so these names, which show His character, are true of Him in both the incarnation and the second coming as King.

The first, Wonderful Counselor, speaks of how Jesus will rule with perfect wisdom and has the best judgment for each situation. He will be a good practical leader that will do what is best. The second, Mighty God, actually speaks of His deity as the King, calling Jesus God here. Often, monarchs would refer to themselves as deity, but Jesus literally bears the name and the nature of deity as King.

The third name, Everlasting Father, speaks of Christ’s eternal nature. The word father here is not referring to the familial function of a father but of being a descendant. The word for father can also carry the meaning of a descendant or an ancient in a line of families.

Everlasting speaks for itself, as Jesus is everlasting. He has always existed and will always exist. The final name, Prince of Peace, tells us how He will rule. He will bring peace where there was chaos and hostility. He will make peace where there was not peace.

These reputations Jesus had even in the incarnation and demonstrated in the Gospels, but He will also demonstrate them in the second coming.

Finally, Isaiah 9:7 continues to elaborate on Jesus being the forever king, completing the line of kings from David. His reign ushers in peace, righteousness, and justice. These are three elements that are lacking in our world today. These images of Jesus’ reign are right out of the prophets.

Now let’s look next at Zechariah 14, another key passage about the reign of Christ, also speaking of the Battle of Armageddon. Zechariah 14:1-3 speaks of the precursor to the Battle of Armageddon.

These verses give the worst case scenario for the Israelites. Jerusalem is taken, exiled, and ravaged by war. The nations look like they have won the city and destroyed the people of God. But wait! Here comes King Jesus out of the clouds, descending upon the Mount of Olives, and creating a way for the people of God to escape (Zech 14:4-5).

This will be a unique day in which the Lord fights for the city of Jerusalem before He reigns there as King. Jesus will fight for the people, seen in verses 3 and then Zechariah 14:12-15. He will use plagues, the fighting force of Judah, and confusion of the enemy forces. He will be victorious.

But then His kingdom will be set up and He will rule from the prominent city of Jerusalem (Zech 14:10-11). There will be people who reject His rule and do not go up to worship the Lord Jesus who is King, and they will suffer plague and also will not receive rain from heaven to be prosperous and have crops (Zech 14:16-19). And Jesus will reign with holiness and everything will be holy before the Lord (Zech 14:20-21). It will be a great day of reigning!

Let me go to one more passage as we end just a few of the many images of Jesus in the end of human history culminating all of the promises of God. There are so many other places to go to in the Old Testament to see Jesus as King in the end, but let us go to Psalm 2.

This second psalm is concerned with the environment of the Battle of Armageddon. Saw 24:1-3 shows the perspective of the kings of the earth who gather their nations in battle array to cast off the oppression of God’s good and just rule over them, the final atheistic temper tantrum of the world to get God off their backs. They are prepared for battle, or so they think.

Psalm 2:4-6 depicts God’s reaction to all of this human striving against His will. He laughs. He laughs because these kings cannot handle His Anointed King, Jesus, whom He sends to the earth to fight the battle. He knows these kings put on a big show, but can’t handle His Son.

God places His pride and strength in His King, whom He sets on His holy hill, Zion. Zion is a name for Jerusalem, where Jesus will rule as King. So the kings of the nations don’t hold a candlestick to Jesus in battle or authority. They don’t have a prayer!

Finally, in Psalm 2:7-9, the Father speaks to Jesus, the Son, telling Him that the time has come for Him to reign as King. God the Father gives the nations to His Son Jesus in this giant mega-battle, the Battle of Armageddon.

The nations now belong to King Jesus and He will rule them his way. Jesus will break the nations. The irony is that in verse three, the nations had every intention of breaking His bonds on them, and they will be broken by His leadership.

The nations will fall to the iron rod, an implement used for shepherding and leading. Despite the wickedness in the world, Jesus will control it with His righteousness and justice. The final verses, Psalm 2:10-12 serve as a warning, almost a threat, to the kings of the nations.

It is a forewarning that their attack will only leave them subservient to King Jesus. It’s better to be on Jesus’ side than against Him. They should kiss the Son before His wrath comes down on their heads.

These are just a few examples of the future! Jesus came and taught us about God. He also offered himself for each of us, died on the cross and gave His life as a ransom for many. And now we find that all of human history will culminate in all of those promises of a righteous King actually reigning in our history before the beginning of eternity.

The finality of all the promises will be ours in this era. Jesus is coming back soon and we must be prepared for His return! We will not be left as paupers. The Bible tells us that Jesus never leaves or forsakes us. He is coming back for those who trust in Him, and He will rule this world before He ushers in the new heavens and the new earth!

Leave a comment and tell me what you think about this final installment. We can see how human history is built on Jesus and the prophecies about him. God will use him as he has in the past to bring freedom to all of us and finalize our salvation.

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Biblical Knowledge

This entry is part 254 of 264 in the series Inquiring Minds
Image by Lubos Houska from Pixabay

What does the Bible say knowledge is based on?

Proverbs 1:7 tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. So knowledge is based on the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is to revere and be in awe of God. It is to worship him for who he is and what he does.

Only when we properly understand our place in creation compared to God’s place over creation can we begin to understand and have knowledge about the world or any other pursuit. Without revealing God for his transcendence over us, we will always rely on ourselves to gain knowledge.

The first knowledge gained in the Bible was a moral knowledge when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3). Before they ate from this tree, the only command God gave them which they could not resist breaking, they had no fear about good and evil.

Genesis 2 ends by telling us that the man and woman were in the garden naked and they did not feel any shame. But immediately after the eight from this tree, they felt shame about their nakedness. Suddenly there was a moral barrier between seeing a human being naked and clothed.

Now we have to rely on our consciences to tell us what’s right and wrong, and they can be improperly calibrated. We became our own moral compass. But because our consciences can be wrong, we still need to go to God for moral understanding. This is the biblical understanding of the first bit of knowledge that was gained by humanity.

But there are other types of knowledge in the Scriptures. The Hebrew word for knowledge in which we use, “To know a person biblically,” means an intimate knowledge gained through experience. This is usually through the sexual relationship or is often used as a reference for it. –

The other major type of knowledge in the Bible is a factual knowledge. For instance, I know things about the president, but I do not know the president personally. This is a factual knowledge. You can know about someone or something. And then the experiential knowledge is to know something or someone based on personal experience and interaction.

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