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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Education / Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20 Welcome Guest
    Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20
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    Mon, Mar 31st - 12:57PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

    In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations(22:1-2).

    Here we see a provision for the saints, a pure river of the water of life.  This is not the same as the river issuing from the millennial sanctuary nor with that of the living waters going forth from Jerusalem in Zechariah 14:8.  Jesus Christ offered this water of life to many while He walked upon this earth of ours and in the future it shall become a fixture within the New Jerusalem.  This river corresponds to the present believer's experience of the outflow of the Spirit of God and eternal life.  The throne is identified as being that of both God and Christ the Lamb.  It is important to understand that the throne has a different character about it here

    Just as in the Garden of Eden there was a river, so too, in the eternal state there will be a river.  Up to now we have not seen anything that would suggest that our future home will not be stark, naked of any softness.  But now we are shown that in the middle of New Jerusalem there will be found the Tree of Life, straddling the River of the Water of Life.  The leaves will be to heal the nations, the fruit to be picked afresh each month. 

    This picture presented to us in verse 2 has caused some problems to commentators.  Is the tree of life in the middle of the street or in the middle of the river?  The street mentioned here is the the same street as mentioned back in 21:23.  It is a visual picture for us: The river of life flows down through the middle of the city, and the tree is large enough to span the river, so that the river is in the midst of the street, and the tree is on both sides of the river.  It becomes clear then, that the river of life is not a broad river so much as it is a stream of pure, clear water. 

    The tree of life in this city is referred to back in Genesis 3:22, 24.  Those who believe that this is a millennial scene rather than an eternal one put much emphasis upon this statement of the tree's leaves providing healing to the nations.  They ask, "Why the need for healing in eternity?"  The word for "healing" is therapeian, which gives us our English word, therapeutic.  This should be understood as "health-giving," as the word in its root meaning has the idea of serving or ministering.  These leaves promote the enjoyment of life, not for correcting illness or disease which do not exist.  This view is confirmed by what is said later in verse 3.  Will we require the sustenance provided by the tree of life?  No.  Will consuming its fruits and leaves provide a more pleasant life?  Undoubtedly. 

    And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:(22:3).

    Here we see that the curse of sin will be gone forever.  In the millennial kingdom there was a lifting of the curse upon man and creation for the duration of the 1000 years.  It was still possible for a sinner to be accursed.  But here there is absolutely no possibility of this happening.  Some try to claim that since scripture claims that saints are to be sons of God that they cannot be servants of God.  This flies in the face of scripture that tells us that they will be both sons and servants of the Living God.  Nothing will exist to get between our desire to serve Him and our actually doing it.  Today sin can easily insert itself into this equation of doing what we know to be right.  Sin will have no opening into which to worm its way into the new heaven and earth.  In the Garden of Eden sin entered in while God was absent, the tempter approaching our first parents.  Here God and the Lamb will be present to prevent the occurance of any sin.  Perhaps you are thinking to yourselves, "Where is the Holy Spirit in all of this?"  Good question.  In the original creation He was quite active along with the Son.  Today He is the instrument of regeneration in the hearts and lives of sinners.  In eternity there will be no need for Him in this manner of work.  The silence of God at this point on the matter of His Holy Spirit is eloquent.

    "His servants shall serve him."  It will not be necessary to rest in order to give our bodies time to recuperate each and every day.  The word for "service" comes from how the word was used by the Jews of the Old Testament.  To them it came to mean that rendered to Jehovah by the Israelites as His peculiar people.  They had to perform the ordinances of divine service and then could go into the first tabernacle to accomplish the service of God.  Likewise, it will be a peculiar service to God that you and I will be performing in eternity.  There will be ceaseless activity for there is to be no night.  We shall at last see His face.  As Moses voiced his desire to see the face of God, now in the New Jerusalem all shall see His face. 

    Next time I will cover verses 4-7 which will show us a reaffirmation of some things stated earlier.  It will  also cause some to ponder just what we might be responsible over during eternity.  Until then, beloved, honor all men, love the brethren, fear God, and honor the king.  Be sure to submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, for this is as Christ commands of us.

    ~Eric



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    Sun, Mar 30th - 1:52PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it(21:24).

    John continues his narrative by letting us know that all saved people from all of the ages will be living in "nations."  This term from the Greek ethne is the word used for Gentiles.  This is not so much a political entity being spoken of as it is speaking about the fact that saved Gentiles will also be entering and leaving the New Jerusalem on a regular basis. 

    So in this eternal state not only saved Israelites and the true church will be present but also saved Gentiles from the Great Tribulation Period.  The fact remains that these kings will be bringing their glory and honor not just to the new city but into the new city.  All honor and glory will not be left outside of the city gates but shall be brought inside.  These are saved kings, saints who have been given the rule over saved people on earth. 

    Clarence Larkin in his book, "Book of Revelation,"  makes the rather startling assertion that children will be born during this eternal state that are sinless.  There is no indication in scripture that resurrected people will have the quality of human sexuality, much less the capacity to produce offspring. 

    And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there(21:25).

    Once we arrive at this eternal state there will be no more necessity of locking doors against thieves and robbers, nor against molesters or abusers.  The access to the city will be open at all times. 

    And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.

    And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life(21:26-27).

    God apparantly has accomplished His original purpose with man---fellowship.  He now has a creature who is a free moral agent and who freely chooses to worship, love, and serve Him eternally. 

    The gates are never closed for they are not intended as protection.  They are a badge or coat of arms of the bride of Christ.  The gates, as we already have noted, are to of pearl.  In Jesus' parable found in Matthew 13:45-46 the pearl is not Christ whom the sinner buys for a sinner cannot pay enough for Christ.  The merchant man in the parable was none other than Christ Himself, and the pearl was the church, His bride.  He paid a great price for this "pearl" and it was formed from His side.  The church will be the fairest jewel of all when He makes up His jewels (see Matthew 3:17-18). 

    In Hebrews 12:22 we have been told there is also present an innumerable host of angels who are evidently part of the servants, doing God's will.  The population of New Jerusalem will be rather cosmopolitan in nature and one will most likely be able to bump into angels, Israelites, and Gentiles.  Verse 27 states the fact that nothing shall enter into this city that is not honest, righteous, and loving of God.  This will be a superior creation than that found in the Garden of Eden where the lies of Satan made an entrance for sin into the entire creation of God. 

    And so ends chapter 21.  Great and wonderful things have been revealed to us in this chapter of Revelation.  But now we turn our attention to the final chapter of Jesus Christ's Revelation to all of us.  We come to the final scenes of this great book of wonders, and likewise, to the final words of God.  We come to the end of mankind's journey.  The path has been long, and rugged, with many a twist and turn.  Many questions remain unanswered, many problems remain unsolved, but we now know that we can enter into eternity in fellowship again with our God, and once there all will be made known to us. 

    The Bible opened with God prominently on the scene: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."  Now it will conclude with Him on the scene and in full control of His own.  He suffered, He paid a great price, and He died---but the victory and the glory are His, and He is satisfied.  Isaiah 53:11 says it all: "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities."

    Until next time, beloved, remember what we all read in Hebrews 11:23-27.  That we may be as faithful and trusting in Jehovah as was Moses, that we would esteem Christ more than all of the treasures of this world.  I would hope that I, as well as you, would not fear the anger of our rulers, that we all would endure for we "see" Him who is invisible.  I hope and pray that all  believers will consider that those of us who have not resisted the world to the point of shedding our blood in our strivings against sin may very well face such times in the future.  May each of us follow peace with all men, and holiness, for without this no one shall see Christ.

    ~Eric



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    Sat, Mar 29th - 7:12PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

    And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it(21:21-22).

    Can you imagine an entire city gate composed out of a single huge pearl?  That is what each of the twelve gates will be made out of, pearl.  They shall be spectacular with the light of God shining through them from the inside out.  The street of the city is said to be of pure gold and to be transparent like glass.  Some commentators believe that since street is used here in the singular that it must mean that the city is circular in nature.  I think that a singular street can still navigate around the city, from gate to gate, and through the center. 

    Now in verse 22 we are told something that some people do not accept:  no temple within the city.  Was John mistaken, could he have missed recognizing the temple?  Hardly, he had seen the Temple in Jerusalem enough times to positively identify it here.  No, it simply is not to be found in the New Jerusalem for God and the Lamb are now the temple.  A physical structure is no longer necessary, all of the saints are in the immediate presence of the Living God without need of an earthly mediator.  The word for "temple" (Greek naos) is the word used for the sanctuary, or God's dwelling place, the Holy of Holies, in the Temple of Israel. 

    Jesus is the spiritual light of the world: "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life(John 8:12)."  In the new creation the Lamb is the direct physical as well as the spiritual light.  In the Tabernacle there was a golden lampstand, which is one of the finest pictures of Christ.  In the New Jerusalem He will be the golden lampstand. 

    The temple, which replaced the Tabernacle back in the nation Israel, was an earthly enclosure for the shekinah glory.  It testified to the presence of God and the presence of sin.  Where sin existed, God could be approached only by the ritual of the temple.  In the New Jerusalem, however, sin is no longer a reality.  The intimate relationship of God with the redeemed eliminates the need for any temple.  I would point out that the new city is the same shape as the Holy of Holies that was in both the tabernacle and the Temple, a perfect cube.  The Temple was a poor substitute for the actual presence of God Himself. 

    And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof(21:23).

    There will be no need for a sun nor a moon.  There will not be any power company to supply electricity for everybody.  There will be no need for any of it.  In all of this description it is important to notice all of the things that are missing from the city.  No sin, no temple, no sacrifice, no moon, no sun, no sorrow, no pain, no death, no illness, no disease, no tears, no darkness, no gates to shut, no abomination. 

    As the shekinah glory of God left the Temple of Israel because of their continual sin, so shall it now dwell for all eternity in the presence of His saints within the new city.  Hallelujah!!

    Next time we will complete chapter 21 and preview some of what will be seen in the next chapter of Revelation.  Until then, beloved, rest in your faith knowing that the good work that Christ has begun in you will be completed by Him for He is faithful and true to His Word.  What blessed assurance!  What an awesome promise that He gives to each of us!

    ~Eric



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    Fri, Mar 28th - 2:00PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.

    And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs.  The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal(21:15-16).

    See, we hear the term "city" and we automatically begin visualizing a New York, Boston, Los Angelos, etc., as what this city will be like, size-wise.  This city's size is like nothing we have ever seen.  Its dimensions are all equal to one another and that is 12, 000 furlongs, or around 1500 miles.  Its circumference will be around 8,164 miles and its diameter will be about 2,600 miles.  That will make it slightly larger than than our moon!  Others wish to argue that the city's shape is a pyramid or a sphere; I can't see anything other than a cube because of the description of its dimensions.  Some believe that the cubical city will sit within a sphere that encloses it.  I simply do not read of anything that enables me to jump to such conclusions. 

    Whatever its actual shape, this will be a city of huge dimensions.  It will have ample space to house all of the saints. 

    And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.

    And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass(21:17-18).

    The angel also measures the wall surrounding the city.  I failed to mention that this reed typically was ten feet long.  Assuming that a cubit is 18 inches, we arrive at the wall being 216 feet high.  Babylon's walls were estimated to have been 50 cubits thick and 200 cubits high.  So this city will have a wall that is greater than Babylon's ever was, and it shall be far more beautiful.  The wall is composed of jasper, perhaps diamond being the actual gem as we know it today.  The New Jerusalem will be composed of pure gold.  This pure gold is like clear glass, no impurities will be in it.  The repeated mention of transparency indicates to me that the design is to allow the glory of God in light to penetrate into every corner of the city, no darkness will be allowed to exist there. 

    And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones.  The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 

    The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst(201:19-20).

    Precious stones have always been of importance to mankind.  Here they express the magnificence of the city.  The stones' colors are as follows:

    (1)  Jassper (Greek iaspis) is clear, and most likely is our present day diamond.

    (2)  Sapphire (Greek sappheiros) is blue and is used in Exodus 24:10 as the foundation of God. 

    (3)  Chalcedony (Greek chalkedon) is greenish, most likely an agate from the region of Chalcedon.

    (4)  Emerald (Greek smaragdos) is quite green in color.

    (5)  Sardonyx (Greek sardonux) is red with possibly streaks of white.

    (6)  Sardius (Greek sardios) is fiery red.

    (7) Chrysolyte (Greek chrusolithos) is a golden yellow.

    (8)  Beryl (Greek berullos) is a green, like a sea green.

    (9)  Topaz (Greek topazion) is a greenish yellow.

    (10)  Chryoprasus )Greek chrusoprasos) is a gold-green and perhaps close in color to the topaz.

    (11)  Jacinth (Greek huakinthi) is violet in color like a hyacinth.

    (12)  Amethyst (Greek amethustos) is a purple color perhaps tending towards a ruby.

    Here we have a veritable rainbow of colors in a wall that will run around the circumference of the city.  Christ's light shall illuminate this wall ,just as He will illuminate everything else, and His pure light shall become dissected into all of these beautiful colors.  The laws that govern light and color in our current world may still exist afterwards in the new heavens and the new earth and so we are looking at a city of light and color.  No drabness will exist in this city.  Color shall flow from out of this city and flood God's creation.  Our rainbows that we see after rainstorms only give us a hint at the great beauty that awaits us in this city.  The overall picture described by John is one designed to reflect the glory of God, His infinite wisdom and power, and also His grace as extended to us, objects of His salvation.

    Next time I will speak about the gates and the street of gold.  We will discover what is not to be found in the city besides no sin.  Until next time, beloved, remember what it says in Hebrews 4:14-16: "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."  Go boldly to His throne, praise Him for what He has done, ask Him to supply you with greater faith, grace, peace, etc..  Ask Him to fulfill His divine will in your life today.  Ask Him to forgive you for being a chief sinner and for not having greater faith in Him.  He will enable you to do whatever He asks you to do for Him.  When I am weak, then I am strong in the Lord.

    ~Eric



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    Thu, Mar 27th - 1:08PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

    On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates(21:12-13).

    John gave us a general description earlier of this grand city and now he provides us with some details.  Of course, we first must acknowledge those who believe that this entire passage is simply symbolic in nature, that it shows us the blessings of saints in eternity future.  I can only say that it is very difficult to harmonize this view with the specific details given which are not explained anywhere else except in literal terms. 

    The first fact that John provides us with is in verse 12, the wall of the city.  It being great and high makes it a symbol of exclusion of all that is unworthy to enter into the city.  Although the saints will freely move in and out of the city, this will be a visual reminder that only the qualified may enter in.  In this great surrounding wall are twelve gates, guarded by twelve angels.  Again, we get the sense that saints are free to roam in and out of the city but there is to be a constant reminder of watchfulness over those who seek to enter in.  If there ever was any doubt as to whether or not Israel is important to God here is the proof that that nation, and people, remain close to His heart.  The names of the twelve tribes are inscribed as the names of the twelve gates.  We also see here that the number 12 is quite prominent.  As the chapter continues we will see this particular emphasis continue.  The city will soon be seen to be a cube in shape.  We will also find out that the wall's dimensions follow this same theme. 

    The twelve gates, as I mentioned, will have as names the name of each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  This would seemingly follow the pattern given to us back in the Old Testament in Ezekiel 48:31-34.  That particular passage laid out the order of the tribes according to the compass points.  This of course is not a hard and fast doctrinal point, merely an interpretation based on earlier scriptures.  The original Jerusalem was laid out in like fashion so common sense would lead us to believe that the New Jerusalem could very well be laid out in similar fashion. 

    And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb(21:14).

    This verse brings to mind Ephesians 2:20: "...built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone."  When Christ returned to heaven He committed the keys into the keeping of the apostles.  The church was in the hands of these twelve men, on a human level.  Who were among the twelve apostles?  No arguements arise over the first eleven but things sometimes become sticky over who actually became the successor to Judas.  Was it Matthias?  Was it Paul?  I believe that it was quite possible that Matthias was elected in as an apostle when it was not the Holy Spirit who selected him.  Paul was most definitely selected by God on the road to Damascus.  We do not ever hear about Matthias ever again, but we sure do hear all about what Paul was accomplishing in service of Christ.  You are free to decide for yourselves.

    These twelve apostles preached the first sermons, started the first churches, and were among the first martyrs.  To minimize the importance of these men of God is to not honor the Word of God.  In a very real sense they were the foundation of the church.  Christ is the chief cornerstone, but the apostles are the foundation upon which the rest is built.  What other reasons could there be for God to make the apostles the foundation of this city?  Perhaps because they all were of Israel and were called out of Israel to be leaders in God's church.  Perhaps including them with the twelve tribes of Israel is to firmly plant in our awareness the total program of God.  Christ came to create a new man, making two into one.  He meant to join Israelites with Gentiles in His church.  This also points out that Old Testament believers shall be here as well.  We cannot confuse nation Israel with the church, this does not mean however that nation Israel will enter heaven.  All that I am saying here is that all redeemed Israelites and Gentiles will be joined together in this city.  There will be different "companies" of saints within the city, but all will be saints of Christ.  Another passage of scripture to ponder its connection with this topic is that concerning itself with the the true vine and its branches, the olive and what gets pruned out and what can be grafted back in again. 

    Next time, beloved, we will look at the dimensions of the city and of the wall surrounding it.  Until then, allow Christ to order your footsteps, allow Him to light your path through this world.  Allow Him to hold you close during those times when you feel as if you have lost it all, that you have absolutely no friends in all of the world.  Christ is always with you, beloved.  He never strays from your side even if you wander away from Him.  Turn from your own ways and make your way back to Christ and He will gladly receive you back into the fold.  And here is one more hard concept:  everything not of faith is sin.  I struggle with that one and I am sure many of you would agree that that is difficult to translate into all of our thinking each day in this world of ours.

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Mar 26th - 12:59PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.

    Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal(21:10-11).

    In response to the angel's invitation, John is carried away in spirit to a great and high mountain from which he witnesses the descent of the New Jerusalem from God in heaven.  A similar experience was given to John back in 17:3.  The contrast is great between this city and Babylon of chapters 17 and 18.  This city is distinguished from all other earthly cities. 

    This passage has led to extreme views in interpreting the New Jerusalem.  Ebionism, one of the first heresies, went to the extreme of applying this entire passage to the earthly Jerusalem.  The Gnostics, another early heresy, went to the other extreme in spiritualizing the passage to make it refer to heaven.  Many modern "isms" apply the New Jerusalem to themselves and set it up on earth at the geographical location of their choice.  Liberal theologians and amillennialists have left the city in heaven, in spite of the clear statement that it comes down "out of heaven."  The two lone facts we can take away from verse 10 are these:  (1) The city comes down out of heaven, and (2) it is not stated that the city reaches the earth.  I am not saying that the city never reaches the earth, simply that at this point in scripture it is not being said to have reached earth.  By chapter's end we will all see clearly that the entire universe will revolve around New Jerusalem. 

    With verse 11 we begin to see a general description of this wonderful, holy, city from God.  It has the "glory of God."  Just what is that?  Paul instructs all believers to "...rejoice in hope of the glory of God"(Romans 5:2).  The Israelites in the wilderness experienced the presence in their tabernacle of this "glory of God."  Jesus Christ is said to be "the glory of God."  The city is also said to have light, not that something else has the light but that the city itself is full of light.  Since God's glory is present in the city it follows that the city reflects all that God is.

    Two wonderful facts make this city the manifestation of the fulness of God's glory.  (1) The presence of God makes the city the source of glory for the entire universe.  Every blessing radiates from this city.  (2) The presence of the saints does not forbid this manifestation of the glory of God.  Sin caused God to remove His glory from the Temple in the Old Testament, and from man's presence in general, but in this city all of that is in the past.  This city reveals the high purpose of God in the church today, which is to bring "many sons unto glory(Hebrews 2:10)." 

    This city is a light giver, it does not reflect light as does our moon.  It does not generate light as does our sun.  It originates light and is the source of that light.  What Christ spoke of in John 9:5 becomes a reality in this city.  Also, the entire city is likened to a precious gemstone.  The jasper is mentioned which normally is a multicolored quartz stone.  But here it is specifically said to be clear as crystal.  This suggests that it speaks about opals, topaz, or diamonds.

    The stone is transparent and gleaming with light, which suggests one of these stones, most probably a diamond.  The similarity of the Hebrew word for crystal found in Ezekiel 1:22 to the Hebrew word for "ice" helps to solidify this interpretation.  Pretty much New Jerusalem is a diamond in a gold mounting, an engagement ring of the bride; in fact, this could very well be considered the wedding ring, the symbol of the betrothal and wedding of the church to Christ.

    A final thought on the light found in this city:  the believer in Christ should both reflect and transmit the glory of God without blurring the beauty and loveliness of Jesus Christ.

    Next time, beloved, in verses 12-14 we will be seeing the gates and the foundations of this wonderful city from God.  We will find out how many gates there will be for entering in and leaving.  We will learn about the great wall that surrounds the city and its compostion.  Until then, "as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on hearts of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, and longsuffering." 

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Mar 25th - 1:01PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death(21:8).

    Here we are shown the contrast to the blessings given to the believers.  We see what the sad inheritance of unbelief truly will be.  The unsaved are characterized as being fearful, unbelieving of God's Word.  Then we are given a laundary list of who will not enter into heaven but rather will plunge into the lake of fire.  A similar list will be seen in 21:27 and again in 22:15.  This verse is the final specific mention of the lake of fire.  The second death here refers to eternal punishment, separation from Jehovah. 

    We need to understand that the creation of the new heavens and new earth had absolutely no effect upon the existence of the lake of fire.  It was there before, and it is there afterwards.  It will be there throughout all eternity.   The lake of fire is eternal, it is the second death, and there is to be no third resurrection.  Another thing that we need to understand is that there will be absolutely no possibility of sin, which made mankind all of those things mentioned in the above verse, ever breaking through the barriers into the new creation.  Sin and its potential are forever shut out of the new creation, so says our Lord and Savior. 

    And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife(21:9).

    At this point we are about to enter into a description of the New Jerusalem.  There are those who argue that this verse proves that the city, and not the Church, is the bride of Christ.  You cannot build a doctrine on just this one verse.  There are too many other verses that clearly speak of the saved as being Christ's bride.  I have mentioned this much earlier in this study and will not repeat myself here.  A city cannot be a bride nor a wife and so we can understand that this represents the beauty of His wife and that it is intimately related to Jesus Christ. 

    Lofty language is used to describe this city, and descriptive vocabulary is endlessly used to paint for us a portrait.  Was this city part of what Jesus referred to in John 14:2?  I would imagine so.  This city will be to eternity what the earthly Jerusalem was to the Millennial kingdom.  Righteousness reigned in Jerusalem; it will dwell in the New Jerusalem.  Imperfection and rebellion still existed even in the earthly Jerusalem during the Millennium; perfection and the absence of sin will clearly identify the New Jerusalem. 

    The New Jerusalem is the eternal home of the church.  This is where all true believers are journeying towards, pilgrims on this planet.  What is to follow in verses 10-21 is the description of this city.  Just as we have read about its psychological or spiritual aspects, now we are to read about its physical attributes.  We also must consider the city and its inhabitants/citizens.  The empty city without its citizens is not the bride.  The citizens are identified with the city in chapter 22, verses 3, 6, 19.  At this point it would seem that the bride becomes the citizens and their city. 

    There are commentators who differ as to whether the vision shown here is chronologically after the scene of 21:1-8, or whether it is given in retrospect of the millennial kingdom.  Yes, the Revelation is not written in strict chronological order, but studying the book's contents helps us decide which goes where.  William Kelly has believed that the scriptures return to the millennial scene with verse 9.  Arno C. Gaebelein also believes that verse 9 reintroduces the millenial state.

    Others have concluded that there is not enough justification for returning to the millennial scene after the tremendous events portraying the close of the millennium and the introduction of the new heaven and earth.  For these commentators Revelation 21:9-22:7 portrays the New Jerusalem from heaven.  They feel that we are dealing with eternity at this point in the revelation.  Prophecies governing the millennial kingdom do not have allowances for such a city to appear on earth.  I do not see any clear indication that the Holy city of Jerusalem will survive into this period of eternity.  Scripture indicates that it too, will pass away with all things old.  The New Jerusalem replaces the earthly city for all time. 

    John actually saw what he recorded, and what he saw is to some extent interpreted for him.  Obviously what he saw exceeded any earthly city that he might have ever seen, or would see.  His description is not inaccurate for the Holy Spirit guided what he wrote.  What are major points of consideration are that John did see this city, that this city was inhabited with saints from all ages, and that God Himself was dwelling in it. 

    Next time, beloved, we will follow John as he is carried away in the spirit to a great mountain.  We will begin to discover the size of this city and its physical composition.  Until then, praise God with your lips, your service, your life.  Thank Him for all that He does for you each and every day.  Live peaceably with everyone around you if at all possible.

    ~Eric



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    Mon, Mar 24th - 12:23PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.  And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

    And he said unto me, It is done.  I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

    He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son(21:5-7).

    In contrast to the great voice sounding from out of heaven itself in verse 3, verse 5 specifies that "he that sat upon the throne" now speaks.  Here is the clearly stated purpose of God to make all things new, not just some things.  How often have you, beloved, found yourself frustrated by things, hemmed in, not able to accomplish those things that you really want to?  Have you been able to become the person that you have always wanted to be?  Is there the feeling that a "blot" of some kind is on your achievements?  Well, here you and I have assurance that one day God is going to make all things new and we will be able to achieve our heart's desires.

    At this point in history Christ's special character of rule over the earth and His judgment of the wicked will be completed.  The Greek word for behold, idou, is the imperative form of horao which means "to look" or "to see."  This is a pronouncement from Christ to all who can hear.  Some argue here that because the specific word "create" is not found in this verse that no new heaven or earth is created.  The verb "make" (Greek poieo) means "to make, form, or construct."  That pretty much covers creating something, does it not?  I think so.  A further proof can be seen back in Matthew 19:4 where God is said to have "made" Adam and Eve.  The word for "new" (Greek kainos) means to be both new in character and new in the sense of recently made, in other words a drastic change occurs.  Of course, John is instructed to write down all of these words for they are true and faithful.  It means that we can anchor our faith upon these words in Revelation, they shall not change. 

    Verse 6 brings us to a stated characteristic of God.  "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end" identifies the speaker as none other than Jesus Christ.  Jesus is repeating for our benefit the facts of reality:  He is first and He is last.  None exist before Him, and none shall exist after Him.  Our lives begin and end in Him.  Our faith begins and ends with Him.  Only God has the capacity to begin or end creation, faith, or redemption.  Here, in this passage, He is declaring the ending of  His major works and the onset of eternity.  In verse 7 we are given some promises; if you are thirsty then you will be given water from the fountain of life freely, and if you overcome you shall inherit all things.  Those are a couple of awesome promises!  God has been preventing people from accessing the fountain of life for thousands of years and here He promises that at this time, if you are thirsty then He will give you all that you may need to satisfy your thirst.  He will also give you all things if you overcome the world AND you will become His son!  Adoption is a promise from God.  John 1:12 tells us: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."  If you believe on Christ's name then He has given you power to become His son.  You are a son of God in a unique and glorious manner. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is(I John 3:2)."  There we have it.  Christ has a glorified body, and so shall we also have such bodies for we shall know Him as He really is.  Powerful promises to remember, beloved! 

    Next time, my friends, we will see what New Jerusalem is described like.  A physical description that helps us visualize what the reality will be like.  Will it be awe inspiring, and breathtaking?  I truly believe so.  It will be beyond our adequately describing in any manner.  Until then, study to be approved of God.  Learn God's truths and apply them to your life each day.  Be a shining beacon in this dark world of ours, attracting the lost and sharing your hope and salvation experiences with them.  For faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of God.  Amen.

    ~Eric

    PS   Soon this study will be completed.  If there are any topics that you would like to find answers for, email me or leave a message for me or leave it in the comments section at the end of each post.  I will endeavor to begin a new study on those topics as soon as possible, posting each day here my results.  Looking forward to any and all suggestions!



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    Sat, Mar 22nd - 7:27PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

    And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away(21:3-4).

    "Behold, the tabernacle of God" presses us directly into a tremendous concept that occupies the entire bible.  John 1:14 informs all that the Word was made flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us.  All through the Old Testament we read of the times and places that Jehovah tabernacled among men, and the reasons as to why He did so.  In the future kingdom we are going to become His people and He shall dwell intimately with each of us.  Prominent things of this present world shall disappear in this kingdom.  Tears will be wiped away from every eye, no one shall ever die again, and there will be no cemetaries around or in New Jerusalem.  Doctors and undertakers will be out of business.  Sorrow and crying will both be things of the past, not to be found anywhere in this new creation. 

    I would point out to you that this tabernacle that is spoken of here (Greek skene) is in contrast to the Tabernacle of God in the wilderness and also to the tabernacle of God in heaven.  This reference symbolizes that Christ is now present with men in the new creation.  The word for "dwell" (Greek skenoo) is the verb form for the noun translated as "tabernacle."  I will only direct your thoughts to Genesis and Adam and Eve;  God dwelled with them there.  Later God had created a meeting place, a tabernacle, where He could dwell among the Israelites.  After this, a Temple where His Glory filled the Holy of Holies amongst the people of Israel.  With our Lord Jesus Christ, He came in the flesh to dwell among us and to deliver us from our sins.  And ultimately, He shall dwell among us throughout all eternity for we shall become His people and He shall become our God. 

    God's presence among us assures an entirely new state found in the new Jerusalem.  By stating that the former things are passed away it is being made clear to us that not only the old earth and heaven pass away but also all of the details and associations that belong to it which would/could disfigure the situation in the new creation.

    That is that for today, my friends.  I pray that all of you are preparing your hearts this entire weekend for an intimate time with our Lord and Savior on Easter Sunday.  From remembering the last supper of our Lord on the Passover, to knowing why it really is a "good" Friday, to realizing the significance of the Sabbath rest, to celebrating the day of resurrection and new creations in memorial of His rising from the dead.  May He touch each of you this weekend, may He change your lives forever.  I hope and pray that each of you will feel the flood of joy that fills your soul once He touches you.  Remember back to that day when it first happened!  Never lose that feeling, never minimize its importance!  And spread that joy!  Don't hold it back, don't be timid.  Sow seeds of hope at all opportunities.  Amen!

    ~Eric



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    Fri, Mar 21st - 8:09PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    As I said at the end of my last post, there are signposts left in scripture that point us in a certain direction as pertaining to the new heavens and new earth.  In Isaiah 65:17 we can read: "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind."  This makes plain the concept that we shall not be troubled by what happened to us upon this current world for it, and its memories shall be gone forever from us.  And in Hebrews 11 we find this verse: "And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.  But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."  Here "heavenly" does not mean that they are going to heaven, but that heaven is coming down to this earth.  This what we pray for in the Lord's Prayer, "Thy kingdom come...in earth, as it is in heaven(Matthew 6:10)."  The heavenly city of Jerusalem is coming down to us, the heavenly kingdom of God is coming down to us, and all old things are completely forgotten.

    It would seem that two chief characteristics of the new earth are these:  the absence of oceans and seemingly any large bodies of water along with all animals living peacefully with each other.  Perhaps God desires us to not be reminded of the Flood, all of these large bodies of water are the leftovers from that event.  Perhaps He wants all of us to have plenty of space to spread out in.  It will be a very interesting and exciting time, a time to explore and discover.

    And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband(21:2).

    This verse has been interpreted by some to mean that the actual bride of Christ is not people but rather is this city, Jerusalem.  As I have pointed out previously in other posts, this point of view does not hold up against what scripture tells us about the bride of Christ.  This part should, however, interest us for this is the "place" where we shall all live.  The child of God will inhabit this new city.  When most people talk about heaven it almost always seems like clouds and light and music.  But it is a definite place, a city called the New Jerusalem.  John witnessed it's descent from heaven, can you imagine what he felt?  The description given here tells us that the city is bejeweled, beautiful, radiant.  Just like a bride is on her wedding day. 

    Since the earthly Jerusalem had become sin-riddled and was referred to as Sodom, this new city is presented as the direct opposite of the first.  The inplication here is that this city was in existence prior to this time for it is seen coming from God Himself in heaven.  Perhaps this is the endproduct of the expression found in John 14:2?  This new Jerusalem is nothing like the first, earthly one.  Nothing gets compared one to the other.

    Some would have us believe that there will be no literal city coming down from God in heaven as plainly stated here, but rather that the city is a symbol representing the church since the church is clearly referred to elsewhere as the bride of Christ.  My argument against this point of view is simply that this verse only says that the city is "prepared as a bride."  This is a grammatical comparison, not a claim of equality.  In Hebrews 11:10, 16 Abraham is shown to be looking for a heavenly city which indicates that he was well aware of its importance in the distant future.  He knew that this heavenly city was not Jewish but was of Jehovah. 

    I have heard the question asked, "But why do Christians need to cleanse themselves daily with the Word?"  Outside of the practical reasons, we are given some spiritual reasons too.  In Ephesians 5:25-26: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word."  Here the dots are connected for us.  Relationship is laid out clearly for us with its purpose.  At the judgment seat of Christ, there will be the straightening out and judging of believers.  Everything wrong needing to be corrected will be corrected there.  Christ will finish cleansing the church with the Word.  "That he night present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish(Ephesians 5:27)."   Paul continues on, speaking about this marriage relationship for it is the oldest ceremony in history.  This takes us right back into the Garden of Eden.  The marriage relationship is a great mystery and a profound one at that, which is why all of the books written about improving it still fall far short of its potential.  The intimacy of marriage is hinted at by its being compared to a man and woman becoming one flesh.  Do our physical bodies fuse together into one mass?  Of course not.  But God wants us to get the picture that husband and wife must be that close spiritually, emotionally.  Both are the same flesh, they have become a new creation.  You see, marriage is more than an arrangement to live together and to sleep together.  Marriage makes two into one, who would deliberately hurt themselves?  Thus spouses shouldn't deliberately hurt each other. 

    Where am I going with this?  Simply this.  John writes: "...it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him...(I John 3:2)."  We are going to be glorified just like Him.  We are going to be married to Him, becoming one flesh.  That is how intimate our relationship is to be with Christ.  Why else does He give us these pictures except to prepare us for the reality of eternity.  No other creatures in all of creation are going to have this personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

    That is all for tonight, beloved.  Next time I shall look into verses 3 and 4 which open a window through which to see what some of the characteristics of life in heaven will be like.  Until then, live in peace.  Be happy, and don't worry.  If God be for us, who can stand against us?  I thank God for giving me a wonderful wife, children, and grandchildren.  I have been blessed in that regard.  He has blessed me with good health over my lifetime, never have been admitted into a hospital for any procedure.  I give Him all of the praise, honor, and glory.  Amen.

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Mar 18th - 9:36PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    We begin in chapter 21 to have eternity revealed to us.  A new heaven, a new earth, a New Jerusalem, a new era, and the eternal home of the Lamb's bride.  We will be new creations once there, without the old nature that manifests itself so much today.  Essentially this chapter has very little to do with earth as we know it.  We do get to see something of heaven.  And it is different from all of the sticky, syrupy, sentimental stuff that commonly gets said about heaven.  Here in this chapter we find out that it is a place, an extremely definite place.  I suppose that it could be said that each believer will have an address there since Jesus did say that He went there to prepare a "place" for us.  You will not ever need to worry again about getting lost, right men?  It will be rather impossible.  Folks, we will have a place in our eternal home.  In God's House.  Wow!

    In this chapter we will see that we move not only from time to eternity, but to a new creation.  New things greet us.  The redeemed have previously received glorified bodies exactly like Jesus Christ's.  All things have become new.  A new universe(?) suggests new methods and approaches to life.  Perhaps new laws will regulate the new universe.  The entire lifestyle will be changed.  Here are some things that I have found in the next two chapters that will change:

    1.  There will be the total absence of sin and temptation and testing in the new creation.

    2.  The New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, does not mean another satellite for the earth, but rather the earth and all of the new creation with all of the galactic systems will revolve around the New Jerusalem, because it is the dwelling place of Christ the Lord.

    3.  The natural and supernatural worlds will be intertwined unlike ever before.  Believers will be able to travel like the Lord since they will all have glorified bodies like His.  If He could pass through solid walls, so shall they.  If He could ascend to heaven on the clouds, so shall they ascend to heaven.  And descend.  The law of gravity will not mean the same thing to everyone that it does today.

    4.  There will be no sun to give light for God Himself will be the illuminating Light for all.  There will be the absence of night, no more darkness in which natural man tried to hide his actions from all eyes. 

    5.  Apparantly there will be no oceans.  This marks a revolution in life on this earth.  No seafood to eat, no sharks to be afraid of.  The implication is that all will be vegetarians as they were originally in the Garden of Eden.  Fruit is the only mentioned food for man in the remainder of the book of Revelation.

    6.  The presence of Christ and God, together with the throne of God made visible to all, ushers in a new day for man---abiding with God.

    Let's begin, eh?

    And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and there was no more sea(21:1).

    Remember, the old heaven and earth fled away from the presence of God in 20:11.  Again we see the familiar phrase "And I saw" which will be found a total of three times in this chapter.  These new "items" are not simply the renovated old heaven and earth.  What will they look like?  How can anyone know, hasn't this entire creation been deformed by sin and the side-effects of sin?  They are probably going to be very different from the current set-up.  Again, we are being directed back to thinking about how the world was originally.  Were there any oceans before the Flood?  Was there any rain that fell from the sky?  I believe that we do have some snapshots given to us by God from within the Old Testament and that they give us some ideas to hold onto. 

    Next time I will develop this thought a bit more, lead you along the path to ponder the possiblilities of your future home.  Until then, beloved, walk in the Light, live in the Light, reflect the Light wherever you go and in whatever you do.  Ask and you shall receive according to His will.  Pray for all of the brethren.

    ~Eric



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    Mon, Mar 17th - 12:57PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    Well, beloved, my sincere apologies for being absent from this blog the past few days.  It seems that I have contracted an oral yeast infection that has laid me low since last Thursday evening.  But, I am back today!  Praise the Lord!

    And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.

    And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire(20:14-15).

    The summary judgment is formally pronounced in verse 14 that "death and hell were cast into the lake of fire."  This means that there is no more death, for it has been cast into the lake of judgment.  Please notice that verse fifteen now says that anyone's name not found in the book of life was cast into the lake.  They were not cast in before verse 14 but afterwards.  I do believe that that is very important.  For we also have to grapple with the fact that we are being told here that once death and hell are cast away that that is the second death.  We already were told about how we all live our lives and then physically die.  That being the first death, here we see the second death.  I always point this passage out to people who claim that the lost can't possibly live forever in the lake of fire for they are dead, dead, and gone.  Not according to verse 14 and 15.  No more death, for it is destroyed in the lake of fire, means the lost souls of our world can exist for eternity in the lake of fire as their punishment for unbelief. 

    In the Old Testament we can read: "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentence shall be hid from mine eyes (Hosea 13:14)."    Paul wrote: "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death...O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory? (I Corinthians 15:26, 55)."  Hades, the prison of lost souls, is cast into the lake of fire.  The lost are no longer in hades, but are in the lake of fire with Satan and his demonic angels.  If man will not accept the life of God, he must then accept the only other alternative:  eternal association with Satan.  God makes it plain:  Satan goes into the lake of fire, his angels go into the lake of fire, and the unbelievers go into the lake of fire.  That is who will be there with you for all eternity.  Suffering God's condemnation is not, in the final analysis, because God desired it, but because the individual would not come to God for the grace which He freely offered. 

    I will briefly run through some of the prevailing arguments against believing in an actual, literal lake of fire.  We can attempt to spiritualize the lake as a simple symbol that is not as bad as it seems in print.  Nice try, but nothing supports such an approach to the scriptures.  Or we can attempt to represent it as the total annihilation of the wicked rather than the unsavory beginning of their eternal punishment.  Yes, I concede that the lake of fire is a symbol, but this symbol corresponds to reality.  The rich man in Luke 16 gave us his testimony: "I am tormented in this flame (16:24)."  If unsaved souls in hades , the intermediate state, are tormented by flames, is it so unreasonable to believe that the flames in the lake of fire relate to the exact same sort of punishment?  I think not.  It also is clear from Revelation 20:10 as well as other passages, that annihilation is not being spoken of.  We could attempt to believe that simply being separated from God's presence is hell, and satisfies this passage.  We could also try to believe that eternal punishment equals annihilation.  I do not know about any of you, but the definitions themselves prohibit me from taking this position.  It seems that an ever growing number of Christians wish to believe that God loves all of us too much to condemn any of us to eternal torment and pain that would evince wailing, weeping, and gnashing of teeth.  He does not do the condemning, our own lives will do that for us.  Our choices will either reward us with eternal life or eternal damnation in the lake of fire.  Any who decide to do a thorough study of eternal punishment will in the end gain an enhanced appreciation of the doctrine of the grace of God and will make the love of God all the more wonderful for those who enter into its truth.  Jesus Christ Himself spoke many times of the destiny of the wicked.  Why?  Was He warning all of us of a mere "symbol?"  No!  He desired that each of us would come to realize the truth.  We have the power of choice and we need to choose most wisely!  We shall be held accountable to the consequences of all that we think, do, and say.  Yes, beloved, God does not want any to perish.  But for that to happen you must accept God's gift of grace, Jesus Christ.  On this hangs the only revelation that has been given concerning our eternal state of being, of which it recognizes two possible destinies: one of blessedness in the presence of the Lamb, the other of eternal punishment.

    Therein is the completion of chapter 20.  Alot to sink one's teeth into and chew on for days on end.  I hope that each of you will go and study out some of the side issues presented here.  I hope that down the road I am able to come back to some of these issues and present thoughts and material to support their various positions.  Do not limit yourself just to what I have posted here.  Go and prove it to be the truth before spreading it any further. 

    Next we will begin studying about the new heaven and the new earth which is exciting!  It is an extreme makeover on a divine scale!  Until then, my friends, be good to one another, look out for one another, be your brother's keeper each and every day.

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Mar 12th - 8:03PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

    And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works(20:12-13).

    You might be saying after reading these verses, "That doesn't sound so bad to me.  I'll stand on my good works, they will get me into heaven."  My friend, it is very true that we all will be judged according to our works.  It does not mean that God will see your "good" works as being righteous enough to earn you redemption from all of your sins.  God is going to be looking for what each of us has done with His Son, Jesus Christ.  Do you think that the entirety of your life will pass God's scrutiny?  This will include even those parts of your life that you never thought anyone witnessed.  I don't know about you, but I do not think that I could make it.  I sincerely thank God for His grace: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of your selves: it is the gift of God"(Ephesians 2:8).

    We see here that John can tell clearly that the dead are all here; the small and the great.  No matter how "important" a person may be during their lives they will be standing before God's throne.  No matter how insignificant a person may seem, whether they are simply poor, or they are slaves, or they are indebted to corporations, they too shall all stand before God's throne.  These people are all lost, having failed to come to Christ when called during their lifetime.  None of them will be happy at the conclusion of their life review.  If you are truly saved you are not going to be a member of this group of individuals who are going to be judged.  All saved people will be judged as children of God for the purpose of rewards(read II Corinthians 5:10). 

    From the context we can assume that these are indeed the wicked dead who were not raised in the first resurrection(Daniel 12:2, John 5:29, Acts 24:15, Revelation 20:5).  It is important to note that all the final judgments are judgments of works.  With Christ's judgment seat(II Corinthians 5:10-11) believers are judged according to their works and then rewarded.  In Matthew 25:31-46 the Gentiles are judged according to their works in the sense that the works distinguish those who are saved, that is, the sheep, from those who are lost, the goats.  Here the works are not related to salvation, but the issue is one of degree of punishment. 

    The question comes up from time to time about the judgment of those who die during the millenium.  It is clear that the unsaved who die in the millinnium are included in this judgment.  The bible is quite silent concerning any rapture or translation of saints who survive the millennium.  Both events may be safely assumed, but they are not subjects of divine revelation.  Perhaps because it is of no practical use to saints now living it is not mentioned.  Perhaps it will be revealed during the millennium to those living during it. 

    In verse 13 is seen the answer to critics of the belief that it matters not where one's grave is.  Some strongly believe that only burial in the ground is acceptable.  Here we see that wherever people may have died they will be raised back up for their judgment before God.  God does not need old moldy bones in order to resurrect anyone.  He created each of us from atoms and He surely can do it anytime that He desires.  We also see here a mention of hell.  In the King James version sheol in the Old Testament and hades in the New Testament are improperly translated into the English word hell.  Both of those words refer to the intermediate state or, in certain instances to the grave.  These two words give the impression to some that hell is our eternal destination if we are unsaved upon death.  Some also claim that hell is the lake of fire.  This we understand to be false since hell gets cast into the lake of fire.  This topic of what constitutes hell is food for a separate series of posts. 

    Another problem arises with the resurrection of those who were cast into the sea at their death since the presumption is that their bodies have disintegrated and have been scattered over a very wide area.  The presumed problem is with the implication of resurrection only from a grave.  Resurrection from the sea, or ocean, reaffirms that all of the dead will be raised despite the condition of their bodies.  So any obscurity in this passage over raising the dead from the watery depths and delivering spirits of the unsaved dead does not alter the fact of the universal resurrection of all men in their respective order. 

    That is all for tonight, my friends.  Next time I will speak alittle about the lake of fire and then will begin chapter 21.  Until then, pray unceasingly for wisdom from God and for discernment of spirits.  Pray for your loved ones, and especially for those who are your enemies.

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Mar 11th - 9:11PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them(20:11).

    We see the now familiar phrase "And I saw."  John sees a great throne and One who sits upon it whose countenance is so majestic that the earth and heaven flee from Him.  Back in 4:2 John had beheld "a throne...set in heaven" with a description of the One sitting on the throne.  After that a throne has been mentioned more than 30 times.  In this verse, however, it becomes described as a great, white throne. 

    No specific identification of who is sitting on the throne is made here, but we can be quite secure in saying that it is God, and more specifically, it is Christ Himself as in 3:21.  Support for this view comes from John 5:22: "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son."  Other passages speak of Christ judging the world, Matthew 19:28; 25:31; II Corinthians 5:10.  Due to the apparant grammar used we can assume that the throne is neither in heaven above earth nor is it on earth for both flee from Him who is sitting upon it.  Clearly, this is something that can not have happened in our history since it requires a new heaven and earth to be created to replace those that have fled away.  This thought of a new heaven and earth gains support later on with verse one of chapter 21.  We can also see this event anticipated in such passages as Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 16:17; 21:33, II Peter 3:10.  The last referenced passage tells us explicitly that everything shall be burned up in a fervent heat and shall pass away with a great noise.  It makes perfect divine sense to replace the sin-plagued creation with a totally new creation, fresh, and clean.  Just as God has made each of us who accept Christ into a new creation, a new man He will reciprocate with His creation. 

    There are many people who claim that this throne judgment is the general judgment in which everyone will be raised from their appointed graves, both the saved and the lost.  It is general only in the sense that all of the lost souls will be raised from the grave.  The dead saints have already been raised up before this.  This white throne will be the second resurrection.  This white throne judgment will be fair, just, and equitable.  God will judge the lost according to their works and reward accordingly.  But works cannot save anyone.  Works cannot justify anyone.  The lost are going to discover to their horror the error of their ways while standing before that great white throne.  God will not pat anyone on their head and tell them that He was wrong, that their works prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are good people and come on into My rest.  No sir.  God is judging everyone by what they have done with Christ His Son.  Have you accepted Christ as your Redeemer?  Or have you denied His existence?  Have you bought into the non-scientific theory of evolution?  Have you thrown away common sense and swallowed the bait that Satan has dangled out in front of you?  Oh, I pray that none of you depart from God's truth and follow after the foolishness that governs our world today.  Remain faithful to Christ until the day that you die.  Amen.

    Next time I will speak about the next two or three verses which tell us about who is going to be gathered before the throne.  Until then, beloved, walk in the light of Christ.

    ~Eric



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    Mon, Mar 10th - 1:49PM



    MY INNER GARDEN

    Let us dig down into this concept of a sabbath rest.  For the Jews, it was first of all a day.  A day set aside in obedience to God.  The law concerning this day forbade work of any kind.  Today we have scant idea of how special this day was to orthodox Jews.They were aware of a special pace to their sabbath rest.  Routines stop, labor is to cease.  Even homemakers are to cease in cooking or any menial tasks.  Any food to be eaten on the sabbath is to be prepared at least the day before.  This is a far, far cry from the pressure filled days of evangelical Christians across America today. 

    The sabbath is first of all a day.  Christianity today in general has chosen to make that day the first day of the week,  and not the seventh day as do the Jews.  This is in recognition of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  But what have we done with this day---this time that God has given us as a special gift?  How many of us have either said, or heard others say, "Boy, am I glad that we don't meet more than on Sundays!  I would be exhausted twice as much as I am after Sunday services!"  It says that we have turned our intended day of rest into a day of unrest.  Perhaps even a day of extreme tension for those involved with the worship service itself. 

    But isn't the sabbath rest more than just a day?  Isn't it a principle of rest along the lines of leaving our outer worlds to fend for themselves and dedicate one day to tending to our inner gardens?  What might happen if we choose the peace of sabbath rest versus the fun of amusement and secular leisure activities?  First of all, sabbath rest translates into worship with other members of our Christian family, a corporate worship time.  Here in this atmosphere of being with other saints we have the opportunity to exercise all three aspects that lead to the rest of our private worlds:  looking backward, upward, and ahead.  According to scripture this worship is nonnegotiable to anyone committed to walking with Christ.  In Luke 4:16 we can read about how Jesus entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as was His custom.  I understand anyone who argues that this tells us to observe the seventh day.  But I will only point out at this time how that all of the people involved with Jesus at this time were all Jews.  Jesus Himself was a Jew.  Jesus never turned away from public worship of God. 

    Secondly, sabbath is a deliberate acceptance of personal rest and tranquility within an individual's life.  This sabbath rest means bringing peace into our private world.  Just as Christ pressed stillness into a raging storm, order into a maniacal person demon-possessed, health into a seriously sick woman, and life into a dead friend, so He still seeks to press peace into the hectic private world of men and women who have been  out in the workplace all week.  But there is a catch.  We must accept this peace as a gift and take the time to receive it as ours.  I have heard enough pastors comment on how busy their Sundays always are so that I have been forced to ponder how Sunday can be a Sabbath rest day for everyone?  The same would apply if we were to shift our day of corporate worship to Saturday.  When could pastors have their day of sabbath rest?  Preaching three sermons on a Sunday cannot be restful.  It is hardwork, demanding of utmost concentration, and accurate recall of scriptures.  It involves being open to the lead of the Holy Spirit while presenting the message.  All of this is draining energy-wise.  So, when can pastors observe a day of rest?  Perhaps it becomes a Thursday or Friday?  One day to set aside as belonging to God, a day when the individual can slow their pace down to the point where they can enter into their inner gardens and meet with Christ in silence and solitude.

    Turn to Hebrews, chapter 3 with me.  Here we find the beginnings of learning about this sabbath and what God intended it to do for us.  Verse one establishes who our High Priest is.  Verse 6 tells us that we are of Christ's house.  Verse 7 begins a section that relates to all of us what this rest is.  We read, "Today if ye will hear his voice,"  which is what must happen.  Verse 8 points out that if we harden our hearts as the Hebrews did out in the wilderness then God will be grieved and we shall not enter into His rest.  Verse 12 issues a dire warning to all of us to be alert to any sort of unbelief that exists within our hearts.  Verse 13 warns against being deceived through sin.  A remnant of those who left Egypt actually made it into the Promised Land, His rest for the Hebrews.  I fear that today we will experience the exact same sort of remnant that will be able to enter into His rest. 

    In chapter 4 we see a continuing admonition to remain alert to any sort of unbelief which could rob us of God's promise of which He left us.  Verses 3-11 tell us about how this rest is promised to us, it is a rest that we need to take from all of our worldly labors, our own works, just as God did from His works.  The next few chapters in Hebrews deal with the law and ordinances and what is a high priest.  Chapter 8 begins to speak to us about how Christ came to offer mankind a better promise than the one in the old covenant.  This chapter ends with the statement that if the new covenant is now here then the old one must vanish away.  In chapter 9 we see how the Tabernacle was a picture of the actual Tabernacle up in heaven and also a picture of Jesus Christ and His redemptive work here on earth.  All of this scripture points us towards God's rest.  It tells us to not be lazy in our understanding of what His rest is.  He warns us not to suffer unbelief for that will keep us out of His rest.  We are to do everything in faith. 

    The conclusion of this whole matter?  I see that God gave me the seventh day as a means to remember what He created in the beginning.  I see that this day was made for man's benefit, to give us a reason to stop our labor and rest our bodies and minds.  I see that this sabbath rest is also a picture of the Promised Land, of Heaven.  My unbelief can keep me from entering into heaven and that I can easily be deceived by my sins into thinking that I really am a Christian even when I have never accepted Jesus Christ as Lord of my life.  Each week I need to bring my "work" to an end and stop to give all of it some purpose.  Perhaps sabbath rest does not really come after all of my most important work is done, but actually comes before my most important work is to begin?  My works stop so that I may do the works of Christ.  Too many times I cave in to the deception that only after all of my work is completed may I rest.  How can that concept be true?  My career work will never end, it goes on day after day into the unforeseeable future.  If that is my viewpoint, then I will never stop to rest for my work will never be done.  So, I must stop periodically and enter rest for a day.  We must do this without feeling guilt or remorse.  God commands us to enter into His rest.  What more justification do we need?  Jesus told us that we are to do everything as if we are doing it for Him.  As if He were the one who is physically asking us to do it.  If we take this attitude, then where can guilt or remorse come from?  We will then know Who we do our work for.  We will have purpose each and every day of our lives.  I do this for Christ!  I love my wife and family for Christ!  I love the family of Christ for Christ!  Purpose ends up being everywhere! 

    This ends this series of posts on MY INNER GARDEN.  I hope that whoever reads these posts gains a better perspective on prayer and how we have to create a quiet place within ourselves where we can meet with Christ.  That this quiet place is essential to surviving this chaotic world that swirls around us daily, seeking to wash us out to sea.  It desires to wisk us away from the sight of the Promised Land, force us into becoming desparate, despondant, and depressed.  It wants us to give up, go with the flow of society.  It is Satan.  He is real and society is wrong when it says that he is just a myth.  So create that inner garden, keep it free from sinful weeds.  Go there in silence and solitude and speak with Christ, study His Word while there.  Let God speak to you, teach you in all things.  Amen.

    ~Eric



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    Sun, Mar 9th - 3:02PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever(20:10).

    Here is a sobering statement, and it is largely rejected by our current age of "Love" and "Prosperity."  To those of us who believe the Word of God as the Truth, this is a relief to know without a doubt that our enemy will be held personally accountable and brought to justice.  Restraint is shown here, we see no evidence of gloating or celebration over the fact that final judgment is issued against Satan.  As we can clearly see here, Satan is not in hell today.  He is the prince of the power of the air.  He is the one who exerts control over our world to a very large extent.  God limits Satan today but He will remove that limitation during the Great Tribulation. 

    Also, Satan is not the first being to be cast into the lake of fire.  His two cronies, the Beast and the Prophet, have been there for one thousand years.  Another thing that I find amusing is that people seem to think that hell and the lake of fire and brimstone are one and the same thing.  As we shall see before the end of this book of the bible, they are two separate places for hell and death get thrown into the lake of fire.  How could something get thrown into itself?  It can't.  Matthew 25:41 relates to us for whom the fiery lake is created for:  "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."  Matthew 8:12 speaks about being cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Matthew 13:42 speaks about being cast into a furnace of fire where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  This implies that this lake of fire will not simply extinguish people's bodies and it will be over.  People will be able to feel the excruciating pain caused by being in this lake of fire and brimstone.  There are those who claim that Satan and his angels will be there forever since they are immortal beings but human beings will not be there forever since the lost sinners cannot have immortal bodies, just those who accept Jesus Christ.  If this is strictly true, then why would Jesus say what He did in Matthew?  Those on His left at the Great White Throne judgment are told that they are cursed and to go into the everlasting fire.  That particular term means forever, without ending.  Why would Jesus tell people that there will be wailing, weeping, and gnashing of teeth the entire time that the lost are in this lake of fire?  To warn them that their punishment is forever?  I believe so.  In Mark 9:44 Jesus also stated: "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."  He was speaking about this same topic, spending eternity in the lake of fire.  Why require eternity for a lifetime of wicked sinfulness against a holy God?  Perhaps since the sins are committed in the person's spirit it is necessary to be punished once out of the physical body. 

    Where is this lake of fire located?  In heaven?  Here on earth?  I believe that it is not in either place but that it is elsewhere.  People have told me that I am crazy to think that God will condemn the lost to spend eternity in a lake of fire in front of our very eyes.  They claim that we could not then spend our time in heaven without any tears in our eyes nor feel no more sorrow or pain.  Nothing within scripture tells us that we are to be forced to spend eternity in heaven witnessing the lost suffer.  Our eternity in heaven with Christ does not come at the expense of those who have refused to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord.  It comes inspite of their refusal to believe.  John 3:16 speaks one part of God's Truth but these other verses speak to us about another part of God's eternal Truth.  We cannot turn away and ignore those parts of God's Word that are uncomfortable to us. 

    Getting back to the verse at the top of this post, Satan's cronies are still alive after one thousand years of burning in the lake of fire.  This teaches us that death is not annihilation and that the wicked also shall exist forever, just that they shall be in torment while the saved souls shall be in heaven.  This verse plainly states that this condition shall exist day and night.  No break periods, no cool downs allowed.  This is their lot for all of eternity.  This truth ought to be sufficient to motivate each of us to do whatever is necessary to get the Gospel message out to all of our loved ones, our co-workers, our neighbors, and to any and all who are willing to listen.  If we do not we will be held accountable one day for all of our choices.  God will do this to determine what rewards we ought to receive once we attain heaven.  He will do it this way so that we shall know what we had thrown away through our inactions/actions.  I trust that this message will move some of us into doing our utmost for our King.  Part of my labor in this regard comes at this site, posting these messages for all to read.  I fully understand that I will be challenging some to consider changing long held positions of belief.  I have had to change some of mine already.  We have limited amounts of time to influence those around us, and the time gets shorter each and every day that passes us by! 

    Next time, beloved, I will cover the beginning of the Great White throne judgment.  Awe inspiring things take place there that change all of creation forever more.  Until then, pray for wisdom in these confusing times, pray for patience to deliver God's Word effectively.  Be at peace with all if at all possible.  Pray for America's election process, and for its leaders; that they would all decide in their hearts to make decisions that are in the best interests of all of the people living there.

    ~Eric



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    Fri, Mar 7th - 1:06PM



    MY INNER GARDEN

    So, what is the meaning of Sabbath rest today?  A prickly topic to be sure.  Too many people either feel that it no longer exists in any form, or they feel that everyone ought to be observing the seventh day as a day of rest.  I believe that both camps have missed the boat, so to speak.  We need to remember what was said exactly by God in Genesis.  When God rested, He looked upon what He had done, enjoyed it, and then He reflected upon its meaning.  "And God saw that it was good."  We all know that line.  But we forget that it shows all of us the first of three principles of genuine rest.  God gave His work meaning and acknowledged its completion.  Do we ever do that?  He was teaching us that there is a necessary exercise of dedication and appreciation of and for our daily and weekly routines.

    In the high technology industry one can hear the phrase "closing the loop" thrown about.  It means the completion of a phase in an electrical circuit.  It also gets appropriated into meaning that a task has been completed or that certain persons in a project have been informed/consulted.  So, it makes sense today for us to think that on the seventh day, God closed the loop on His primary creatiion activity.  The loop closed with rest. 

    This then, becomes a time to ask questions like:  What does my work here mean?  For whom did I do this work?  How well did I do this work?  Why did I do this work?  Did I receive the results that I anticipated?  I wonder if we really take the time to ask ourselves any of these questions.  I know that I fall short in this area of my life.  Some times I do quite well, but most of the time I fail to slow myself down and take that rest period.  It is on to the next task at hand.  This is the wrong approach to our life.  If we do not stop, take a rest, and take the time to put meaning upon what we have done, then how are we to make sure that we know to whom it is dedicated to?  How can I make sure that it was actually done "as to the Lord?" 

    Have you ever reached a point in your jobs where you desparately need to feel that what you are doing is important, significant, and is appreciated?  I know that I have over the years.  I remember thinking to myself, "Does this matter to anyone?"  But did I take the time to gain some assurance?  No.  I was too busy, the pace of work kept me from doing so.  This is a ploy of Satan's, keeping us too busy to stop and think clearly about what we are doing.  When we allow this to happen to us we become dry and barren on the inside, our inner gardens become desolate deserts full of tumbleweeds. 

    People work years and years for a company, never questioning why they are doing so, and eventually they are laid off in a merger deal.  They are not able to secure another similar job and are then forced to work at something that pays less.  Their lives become devastated due to financial stress, personal identity crises, and other related problems to the job change.  And they end asking themselves "What was this all for?"  Unless we stop to ask ourselves what this is all for, what it all means, and for whom are we doing it. 

    A second principle is in returning to eternal truths.  True rest happens when we stop periodically in the middle of our daily routines to consider the truths and commitments through which we are living.  We are constantly bombarded by requests for our time and commitment.  If we do not stop to consider these we will lose complete control over our lives.  We will become overly committed and will be unable to juggle all of the commitments that we have made.  We will become stressed out. 

    God intended for His people to take a day each week during which they were expected to consider by what standard of truth do they make their decisions concerning value judgments, invest their resources and time, and determine their morality?   God had them set aside an entire series of feast days during which pieces of eternal truth could be recalled and celebrated by all participating.  Could we call it a recalibration of the spirit? 

    Jeremiah told us how deceitful the heart is, so we must take the time to separate out the truths that are essential to life.  We are excruciatingly naked, at all times, to distortions of the truth.  How can we tell what is false and what is true?  We must take time to remember the truth that God has told us all about.  Perhaps what the Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel wrote about the Sabbath will help:

    "The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space.  Six days a week, we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time.  It is a day on which we are called upon to share what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation; from the world of creation to the creation of the world."

    I suppose I must ask myself if this is happening in my inner garden?  Am I stopping long enough to become in-step with holiness in time?  Or am I remaining too engrossed with the outer world, the physical "space" world?  I guess that I need to remember that this rest is not a rule to restrict me, but that it is one that liberates me.  Physically, mentally, emotionally, we are then freed to better performance by observing rest periods.  It also reminds us who God really is.  Every seventh day I should come back to visit the fixed Center of my world, become recalibrated once more.  So rest is not only looking back at the meaning of my work and the path I have recently walked in my life; but it is also a means to refreshing my belief and commitment to Jesus Christ.  It helps me to transform myself daily and weekly into a closer image of Christ.  It becomes a time to renew my mind and make some changes. 

    The third principle concerns itself with the future.  When we rest in the biblical sense, we are speaking of our intentions to lead a Christ-centered tomorrow.  We are pondering where we are headed in the very near future, as well as long term.  We identiy our intentions and make our dedications.  What is my mission today?  What is your mission today?  Tomorrow?  Do you know?  Jesus frequently withdrew to seek solitude and quiet.  While others fell asleep, He was drawn to the rest of gaining strength and divine direction for His next phase of mission work.  Any wonder why He had ample wisdom, stamina, and courage?  His spirit was always rested, His private garden was ordered.

    Next time I will talk some about choosing to rest and about what kind of rest Christ expects out of us today.  Until then, I pray that Jesus will help you to admit your helplessness in the face of sin.  That you, and I, cannot be victorious over sin in our lives outside of Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross.  No works that you and I can conceive of will ever pay the debt that we owe for our sins.  I pray that Christ will watch over each of us this day, ordering our steps so that we can walk the way that He desires us to.  I pray also, that the Word that we have hidden in our hearts will come to our awareness today and keep us from sinning before God and others.  May Christ's peace, grace, and mercy be with each of you the rest of today.  Amen.

    ~Eric



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    Thu, Mar 6th - 6:47PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    In continuing what I was covering in the last post it is necessary to include Jewish believers into the class of saints for they are spoken of in terms of marriage just as the believing Gentiles are spoken of in like manner.  All of us are the bride of Christ.  The Jew will be restored as the faithful wife of Christ while the Gentile will be the betrothed of Christ.  That is a topic to be discussed all by itself someday.

    John skips by all of this quickly as it is unnecessary to repeat the details at this time in Revelation and he takes us directly to the conclusion of the millennial period where Satan is unbound and set free once more for a very short time.  The word for "expired" is teleo which means "brought to the goal or the end," and so the term "finished."  This of course comes from verse 7.  The exact same word is translated as "fulfilled" in 20:3, and as "finished" in 20:5.  The prison referred to is the abyss into which Satan was thrown and chained up in. 

    Once released, Satan wastes no time in the resumption of his rebellion against God.  He dives into deceiving the nations of the world.  All who are being subjected to his temptations are the descendents of the tribulation saints(possibly) but most definitely of those people who survived the Great Tribulation and are those who have been ruled by Jesus Christ for the past one thousand years.  Outwardly all of these people have been required to conform to the rule of the King of kings and make profession of obedience to Christ.  How many actually accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior?  That is to be determined. 

    Why must Satan be let loose again?  To what purpose?  Let's review:  while Satan has been removed from influencing the world people have been living under ideal conditions.  If all that it takes for a person to become good is to live in ideal conditions for all of their life then Satan should not have any chance at all to deceive them and lead them into temptation and sin.  So this period is necessary to show: 1)  that man even under ideal circumstances will fall into sin if left to his own choice; 2)  the foreknowledge of God who foretells the acts of men as well as His own acts; 3)  the incurable wickedness of Satan; 4)  the justification of eternal punishment, to show the unchanged character of wicked people even under divine jurisdiction for a long period of time.

    While there are many explanations put forward, one that is most intriguing is that Gog refers to the ruler and Magog to the people as in Ezekiel 38.  So, what this passage means is that the nations of the earth follow Satan, including the rulers and the people under the rulers.  Or, it could mean the nations follow Satan against God and His people.  The number of people who follow Satan are as the sand of the sea.  Uncountable multitude of people. 

    As the massive army surrounds Jerusalem and probably begins thinking that they are to be victorious this time, fire rains down from heaven and destroys them all.  No human survivors.  This shatters the myth that man is basically good and just needs the opportunity of ideal circumstances to grow up in.  This shatters Satan's final attempt at rebellion.  This ends time as we now know it.  Everything in creation is about to change.  Forever.

    Perhaps I will be able to post some more later tonight.  Until next time, study the Word, be wise stewards of what God has entrusted in your keeping.  Be longsuffering towards one another, as Christ was towards us.  Amen.

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Mar 5th - 1:39PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

    And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, God and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

    And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them(20:7-9).

    Here we are, at the brink of Satan's final rebellion against God.  I think that we should briefly survey scriptures bearing upon the millennial kingdom before we dive headlong into the period immediately after its expiration.  John does not spend any time recording details about the millennial kingdom but limits himself to the fact and duration of it.  To find the character of Jesus Christ's reign on earth we need to turn to some Old Testament passages.  Such as in Isaiah 2:2-4:

    "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.  And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword anainst nation, neither shall they learn war any more."

    And Isaiah 11:4-9:

    "But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.  And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.  The wolf also shall dewll with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.  And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.  They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."

    There we have an awesome picture of how dramatically our entire world view will be changed.  No more carnivores hunting and eating other creatures.  No more war during the thousand years, just peace.  Can you imagine one thousand years of no war, no conflict, no fighting?  These passages tell us that there will not be any weapons being made, they will be retooled into farming implements.  Life apparantly will become alot less hectic than it is today.  I have a feeling that automobiles will be a thing of the past.  Perhaps there will not be any airplanes either.  No stock markets to watch, no futures to worry about selling too late.  Stress reduced or eliminated.  In chapter 11 of Isaiah the following verses tell us more about the day of the Lord and who He is that will draw all people to Him.  It is interesting material to read and try to fit into our picture of the end times.  Of course, we cannot ignore the message of chapter 12 in Isaiah for it is a praise-fest for Christ and Jehovah.  It ought to be our anthem each and every day. 

    Read Psalm 72 on your own, it also covers this kingdom.  This psalm describes how peace will be flourshing and be abundant.  Christ's glory will completely fill the entire earth during this kingdom on earth.  Israel will be exalted, the saints also will be exalted.  The main element therefore, is a perfect and righteous government with Jesus Christ reigning in absolute power over the entire earth from out of Jerusalem.  The first Adam was placed in charge of the Garden of Eden and now the Last Adam will be placed in charge of the entire earth. 

    The prominence of Israel is seen in the Old Testament prophecies but this does not translate into meaning that the nation of Israel remains prominent into the millennial kingdom.  Turn to Ezekiel:

    "And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out.  And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.  Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord God.  And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant:  And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me:  I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel:  and ye shall know that I am the Lord.(20:34-38)."

    Many believe today that nation Israel will enter into the millennial kingdom en masse.  That they all will be allowed to enter into heaven under some sort of special dispensation.  I cannot find within scripture, especially within the New Testament, any such passages that allows me to believe that someone can enter into heaven except through Jesus Christ.  Accept Him as your Lord and Saviour and then you may enter in.  So the above passage speaks to this issue by explaining that Christ will call the Jews from out of the world and once He has gathered them out in the wilderness He is going to put each of them to the test.  He will plead with them concerning their faith in Him, just as in the day of the Exodus from Egypt.  No special dispensation apart from the church saints. 

    I sill stop there for today, I will finish this thought next time, my friends.  Until then, serve the True God in thanksgiving, serve one another in love.  Share your hope with any who desire to know the source of your joy.

    ~Eric



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    Mon, Mar 3rd - 12:12PM



    THE ERROR THAT GOD IS TOO KIND TO DAMN ANYONE.

    Is Jesus Christ so kind and gentle that He will never judge and condemn anyone?  Let us see what the scriptures reveal on this subject:

    Psalm 9:17   "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God."

    I do not know, that does not sound good for the wicked people and forgetful nations of the world.

    II Thessalonians 1:7-9  "And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,  In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."

    It sure seems that God is going to exact vengeance on those who do not know Him or/and are disobedient to the gospel of Christ.  And it sounds like this vengeance is going to last a really long time.

    Revelation 20:10   "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

    Not just people are going to apparantly face the vengeance of Jesus Christ; Satan and his two lackeys are to experience it also.  And it says that it will last for ever and ever for them also.  Well, people, it looks to me like God is still going to judge all of creation one day and then His vengeance shall be executed upon all who have refused, ignored, or disobeyed His Gospel message of Redemption through His Son, Jesus Christ.  A free gift offered by a loving God that has been slapped aside apparantly earns those who do so an eternity of torment and separation from God.  To me, that would indicate that I need to re-evaluate my feelings concerning Jesus Christ and His salvation.  How about you?

    Peace, Grace, and Love of our God be yours today,

    ~Eric



    Comment (0)

    Sun, Mar 2nd - 10:16PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    I apologize for the abrupt ending to yesterday's post, there was some family business that needed my attention, and soonest.  To pick up where we left off yesterday, I would like to say that for Christ to be here on earth He would have to have a resurrected body.  If He has that type of body, then so must the resurrected saints who reign with Him.  Since that is not apparantly the case, we must assume that Christ is not here now, and therefore, we are not in the Millennium either at this time.  As we move on to verses 5 and 6 it becomes even clearer that the millennial kingdom must be in the future even today for these verses make it quite plain that one thousand years separate the resurrection of the saints from the resurrection of the wicked.

    But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.  This is the first resurrection.

    Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years (20:5-6).

    Before we go any further, let me remind all of us what is written in II Peter 1:20:  "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation."  In other words, you and I cannot simply lift out a verse of scripture and create a doctrine out of it; we need to have other correlating verses to support our claim.  These verses in return must not be used to contradict what Jesus said. 

    Now, some people say that this first resurrection actually began with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Perhaps technically one may claim that He began the process.  But if we make that assumption then anyone else after us may extend it by claiming that saints have been getting resurrected steadily over the years since the "process"  was begun.  That goes against other scriptures, namely verse 5 in the above passage.  It plainly, and clearly, states that "this" is the first resurrection.  Not 1400 years ago, or 200 years ago, or anything else.  Just this point in time, when all of the dead saints are raised with immortal bodies that are just like the one Jesus has.  Obviously Christ was the first one to obtain a resurrected body since He was the firstfruits of the dead (I Corinthians 15:20). On the occasion of Jesus's resurrection Matthew mentions that "the graves were opened" and that later "many bodies of the saints arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many"(Matthew 27:52-53).  This difficult passage is explained (perhaps) by viewing the fact that this is in keeping with the symbolism of the feast of the firstfruits, when a handful of grain and not just one stalk was presented to the priest.  We are not told how many souls were resurrected at the time of Christ's resurrection, only that there were many that entered the holy city. 

    The Greek word translated as "resurrection", anastasis, occurs some forty times in the New Testament.  It is almost exclusively used of bodily resurrection.  This makes it improbable that it means here what the amillennialists frequently try to make it to mean, namely, a spiritual resurrection or regeneration.  This resurrection is in kind to that of Christ.  If it were to be a different type of resurrection then it could not be identified as the first resurrection, it would be some other number.

    Multitudes of both Israelies and Gentiles will enter the kingdom in natural bodies since they shall not have died.  These along with those born during the kingdom reign are to be tested during the millennium.  Just as Christ in a glorified body mingled with His disciples, so the church in glorified bodies will mingle with the people all during the millennial kingdom.  In glorified bodies we will be able to do many seemingly impossible things, just as Christ did. 

    Verse 6 states that there is to be another death.  A second death which will have no power over anyone who is in the first resurrection.  All those participating will become priests of God and of Christ.  This is a reward given out by God.  They shall enjoy service with God, doing His bidding and ruling over the people. 

    Passages such as Daniel 12:2 and John 5:28-29 refer in general to the resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked, must be interpreted as declaring the fact of resurrection rather than saying that the two events must take place at the same time.  In conclusion, if one claims that the first resurrection is spiritual then one must make the same claim of the second.  Likewise, if one claims that the first resurrection is physical then so must the second one be also.  To do otherwise renders the written word insignificant, senseless.

    Next time, beloved, I will continue along with verses 7-9.  Until then, rest in Jesus Christ, give Him your burdens and gain freedom to live life abundantly.  Ask Christ to come into your heart and live there forever, if you have not already done so in your life.  Go and get baptized with full immersion if you have accepted Jesus into your heart, making it a public confession of your repenting of your sinful ways.  Perhaps you feel like you are not doing all that God intends for you to do.  Then my brothers and sisters, kneel down in prayer and ask Him to forgive you of not trusting Him 100%.  Ask Him to give you the power and ability to accomplish what He has set before you to do.  Ask Him to send His holy angels to guide and protect you as you go about His business.  Ask and you will receive, don't ask and be guraenteed of receiving nothing.  It is just that simple my friends.  Jesus said it Himself, "You have not because you ask not."  Don't waste another day, hour, or minute.  Ask the Father for help, for assistance, for power to live.

    ~Eric 



    Comment (0)

    Sat, Mar 1st - 7:14PM



    STUDY IN REVELATION

    And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years(20:4).

    Interpreting verse 4 is complicated by this fact: John in his vision records that he saw thrones but refers to those sitting upon those thrones as "they".  Who are these sitting on thrones and what is meant by the judgment given to them?  One possibility is that this includes Christ and all the saints related to Him including both the church and tribulation ages.  Possible confirmation of this might be in chapter 22 verse 5 where the servants of the Lord are said to reign with Jesus Christ.

    That being said, the most probable interpretation is that they are the 24 elders who are said to reign on earth (5:10).  This correlates with Luke 22:29-30: "And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed  unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."  These words were addressed to the twelve disciples indicate that they will share with Jesus His rule over the world and will judge Israel at the beginning of the kingdom.  Another parallel passage is found in Matthew 19:28. 

    According to Matthew 25:31-46, the nations or the Gentiles will be judged following the return of Jesus Christ to earth.  In a similar manner the house of Israel is judged according to Ezekiel 20:33-38.  What we see here in verse 4 of chapter 20 in Revelation is that tribulation saints are resurrected from the dead and are also judged and rewarded.  If it is true that Old Testament saints are raised at this time, they too may very well be the objects of divine judgment and reward. 

    Mention is specifically made of those who are "beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast..."  This particular description fits only one class of saints, namely, the tribulation saints who in refusing to worship the beast are martyred/  Why are they beheaded?  Because of their positive witness for Christ and the Word.  Because they refuse to worship anything else.  Amen!  We are not seeing these martyrs for the first time either.  They are mentioned in 6:9, 7:9-17, 12:11, and their general background found in 13:15-17.    These are they who were the recipients of Satan's hatred and the beast's persecution.  Now they are exalted, rewarded, and blessed.  They are guarenteed to reign with Christ for a thousand years here on earth. 

    The expression "they lived" implies their resurrection from death which is similar to the meaning of Christ's statement in John 11:25.  This is also mentioned in John 5:29.

    Here we see definitive evidence of the tribulation saints reigning with Jesus.  This troubles some who believe the church as properly reigning with Jesus, and all other saints will be the subjects of the kingdom.  This is nice, but it is contrary to scriptural statements saying otherwise.  No separation is put forth as to which saints get to rule with Christ and which ones do not.  All saints shall have this opportunity.  Those who claim that saints today are already ruling with Christ would have to produce Christ here on the earth in the here and now.  They ignore the orderliness of the fact that we suffer now and reign in the future (II Timothy 2:12). 

    Amillennialists who say that this living in verse 4 is purely spiritual in nature usually point out that the verb used to say "to live" says nothing about resurrection of the body.  Okay, so the word itself is not specific, but the context which designates it as a bodily resurrection comes from verse 5 which states, But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished."  The resurrection at the end of the millennium is a bodily one for it includes the unsaved. 

    That is all for tonight, beloved.  Tomorrow I will finish this up.  May God richly bless you.

    ~Eric



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    About Me

    Name: Eric Rajaniemi
    ChristiansUnite ID: ejroyal
    Member Since: 2007-09-08
    Location: Bedford, Virginia, United States
    Denomination: Born-again, Church of the Brethren
    About Me: I refrain from any denomination as much as possible since my faith has to do with Jesus Christ and not denominations. My wife and I are charter members of Lake Side Church of the Brethren for they desire to follow the New Testament precepts. We hav... more

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