Thursday, March 21, 2013

Widows and Family Responsibility – 1 Tim 5:3-16

Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day. But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives. Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work. But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge. At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; for some have already turned aside to follow Satan. If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed. (NASU)
Honor Widows
While this first paragraph starts out talking about widows, it becomes evident that the main topic is taking care of your own family. In our society, aged parents are often cast out of the family by sticking them in some kind of assisted living or other care facility. While there are some very good reasons for doing this, the issue is not where they are living but whether or not they are still part of the family. All too often, once the parent is put away, they are no longer included in family activities and rarely visited.

The wording in verse four is interesting in that the NASU says to make some return to their parents. I read that and thought of how many people have left the nest and then returned to live with their parents. This is true of single moms who struggle to make ends meet. However that is not the context of the verse. The some return is not referring to people but to the investment that the parents made in the lives of the children. In other words, it is time for the parents to get a return on their investment and be cared for by the children.
So, if the widow has children or grandchildren, then it is their responsibility to take care of the parents or grandparents in their old age. This isn’t a negotiable scripture. To emphasize it even more generally, Paul extends it to the whole household.

Family Responsibility
Let’s expand the principle to gain some insight to family relationships and responsibilities.

For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. (2 Cor 12:14b NKJV)
At the beginning of a family, the parents are responsible for saving a nest egg for the children. Societies around the world have long been based on a patriarchal system. The oldest in the family are the head and the others in the family, whether it is children or grandchildren, lived with or around their parents. With wealthier families, that meant that new families would often build another house or room on an existing home for the new family. The elders were cared for by the family. When the parents died, the property was distributed to the adult children.

While this was the norm, families were not bound by this rule. An example is seen in Genesis 11:31:32 when Terah took Abram and his grandson Lot (Lot’s father, Haran, had already died) to Haran.  He left his other son, Nahor, in Ur. When Terah died, God called Abram to move and leave his father’s house, yet Abram took orphaned Lot along with him. Abram, in this case took on the responsibility for new family unit.
At some point in life most relationships change. When Abram and Lot became rich in livestook, they parted company (Gen 13:2-13). However, this didn’t prevent Abram from looking after Lot when he was captured during a war between cities. Abram took his SWAT team by night and rescued Lot along with all the other captives (Gen 14:1-16).

The principle is that even when living apart, families need to take care of one another. Today’s society encourages separate living. However the world system tries to use that to avoid family responsibilities. If you read Dear Abby in the newspapers, you can get a pretty good idea of how this is happening. There are often stories about a family that is trying to care for its aged parents without the help of other siblings who are sometimes closer and even financially better off that the caregivers. There are many stories of people being abandoned in retirement homes or long-term care facilities without visits by loved ones.
And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter. (Ruth 2:2 KJV)
A good example of family loyalty is found in Ruth. The story may be familiar to most, however, have you ever asked why Naomi didn’t also go out to the fields to glean? Nothing is said about Naomi’s physical condition, but it would seem that had she been in good enough health, she would have been out there working as well.

Both Ruth and Naomi were widows. Naomi fit into the definition that Paul outlined, but Ruth didn’t. She was still young and able to work so that’s what she did. She saw the responsibility to her mother-in-law as something that not only involved personal affection as well as part of God’s plan for families. Ruth had committed to have Naomi’s God as her own (Ruth 1:16) and that meant going with Naomi and becoming part of the people of Israel.
Ruth’s reward was finding a husband even though she was an outcast in Israel. She had a child named Obed and became the great grandmother of King David. What happened to Naomi? She was still part of the family. In the eyes of the community, she was the mother of Obed (Ruth 4:17).

Then Na'omi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. (Ruth 4:16 RSV)
Our responsibilities as Christians should look more like these examples than what we read about in Dear Abby. We need to set an example for a watching world.

On the flip side of this is a growing problem. That is dead-beat kids or even parents who are capable of taking care of themselves but are sponging off other family members. There are many who are living with their parents and not working. They may have college degrees but do not contribute to the household, even to do chores. Keep reading Dear Abby; it displays a composite of what is going on in society. It’s a good thing that we don’t adhere to the following command.
And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (Deut 21:20-21 KJV)
There is a principle in this command that we should follow but not to kill our kids. Parents should not enable their kids to become lazy and expect that their parents will cover up for their faults. There is a time when the kids need to face the consequences of their own behavior and not get bailed out.
Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good. (Deut 8:5 NLT)
Don’t we expect God to discipline us? Moses assumed the parents would discipline the kids. He used that to show how God will discipline us when we have gone astray. The world has turned it around to actually defame God. Since parents are not disciplining their children, then the assumption is that God doesn’t either. In the world’s eyes, God doesn’t discipline people and therefore doesn’t care. If He does, then the worst we can expect is a time-out. Corporal punishment has become abhorrent to parents as we have drifted further away from God’s standards and the concept of hell being a place of eternal punishment.
When is a widow not a widow?
Getting back to the text of 1 Timothy 5, we find an extensive definition of a widow and how she was expected to behave if she wanted to be helped by the church. The first description is in verse five. It is probably the most important one as it deals with the widow’s spiritual orientation. She depends on God. I’ve heard a couple of widows express this clearly. When they were married, they depended on their husband to do many things in their home and now they are faced with things they know nothing about – anything from fixing a dripping faucet to financial matters. They daily trust in God more than while they were married.
God has promised protection for the widows and fatherless. It was established as a law in Ex 22:22.
He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. (Deut 10:18 NASB)
It wasn’t a law that God established without teeth. He promises that He will execute justice for the widow. He reproved Judah for their lack in taking care of widows and orphans (Isa 1:17, 23). They didn’t learn even when Jeremiah again warned them (Jer 7:6). The result was that the whole country was sent into exile. Of course, it wasn’t only because of the way they treated widows, but this was one of the evidences of their departure from the Lord.
It may seem rather harsh, but Paul condemns the widow who is self-indulgent, whose desire to marry draws them away from Christ, are idle, and busy bodies. While not all younger widows may fit that picture, he lumped them together in this generalization. The prophetess, Anna, was an exception to this trend that Paul saw. She was only married for seven years but lived until she was eighty-four as an exemplary widow (Luke2:36).
In our current welfare system, it seems that the government encourages this generalization by attempting to waive work requirements for some aspects of the welfare program. Others are trying to prevent the waivers.[1] We are obviously living in a different socio-economic system than Paul’s. However, God has established principles in these passages that when ignored, will add to our problems instead of alleviate them.
Whether we are talking about widows or single moms who are trying to raise their children when everything around them is apparently against them, we need to have compassion. We also need to be wise and not enable people who abuse the compassion that the church needs to show. Finally, we shouldn’t be punishing the victims, especially the children who are caught in the middle.
Read again 1 Tim 5:3-16 and see that we should be helping those who are showing that they have a history of walking with the Lord and being productive. Those who are departing from the faith and showing it by their lack of restraint and sin should not be provided the same kind of assistance as the faithful. They are not to be classified as widows.
What can the Church do for those who aren’t classified as widows? They are no different from the millions of people in the world who need Jesus. We can offer some assistance on a temporary basis when emergencies arise and it must be accompanies with the Gospel. Many Christian shelters bring homeless widows and single moms and men in for short-term assistance and others for long-term. Their goal isn’t simply to patch up their outward behavior but to make heart changes. If they recover from their circumstances but don’t change inwardly, they are very likely to fall into the same problems of abusive relationships and addictions, but worse, they will still be without Jesus and eternal life.

[1] Delaney, Arthur. "Welfare Work Requirement Bill Passes House To Ban Obama Option." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 13 Mar. 2013. Web. 20 Mar. 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/welfare-work-requirement_n_2866525.html

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Teaching Relationships – 1 Tim 5:1-2

Now that I’ve finished the book of Revelation, I’m picking up where I left off in December of 2011 with the book of 1st Timothy. This is not the question and answer format that I did for Revelation. This is simply my observations and hopefully they will provide some help in understanding both the Word and ourselves.

 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. (NIV)
Older Men

I think I can fit into that category. I’m older. However when I gather together with Senior Saints Bible study at church, I’m one of the younger. Are there any older men there who need exhorting? If so, how would I go about exhorting them instead of treating them harshly?
However, Timothy was a young man, possibly in his 30s at the time Paul wrote to him. Therefore, Paul wasn’t talking about how he would work only with men in their 60s or older, but even younger as well. When we were young, many of us thought that our parents were stupid. It isn’t until we grew older that we understood how wise they really were. When our parents didn’t get it, we were short with them, rolled our eyes, and shook our heads in disbelief. That wasn’t very respectful.

Approach – Attitude
So now, put yourself in Timothy’s position with a congregation that includes many men older than yourself. Some of these guys have been leaders in their community, in business, and in their homes as long as Timothy was alive. Yet, they are all young in Christ. How can Timothy approach someone who needs to apply sound doctrine to his life (1 Tim 4:11-12)?

Personalizing it, the first clue is to view a man that I need exhort as if he were my father. Perspective is a very important part of our relationships with others. I suspect that in Timothy’s era, respect for your father was a whole lot different than it is today. He didn’t have to contend with the inane images of father’s that bombard us on TV. It was a lot more like the relationship the Beaver had with his dad in Leave it to Beaver. Sure, the kids messed up, but they respected their father. There will always be people like Eddie who have no respect for anyone. He is a great example of how not to approach an older person. Mr. Cleaver was never fooled by Eddie.
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. (Ex 20:12 NKJV)
The first thing to do is approach the person and show him honor, just as I would honor my father. I wouldn’t simply jump on him and start scolding or reprimanding him. No, instead I should ask him what is going on in his life. I would try to find out more about what he has been doing or saying and why. I need to let him speak to me before I speak to him. I will also ask permission to explain what I understand.

You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. (1 Peter 5:5 NASU)
We have a difficult road to walk when dealing with elders. In many ways, we need to be subject to them. They are often in positions of leadership and it doesn’t make it easier if we find that they need to be exhorted. Before approaching our elders, we need to make sure that we are doing it with humility, not in arrogance. We may think we know more than they do, and even if we do, it isn’t time to flaunt that before them.

We also need to make sure we aren’t holding some other agenda in our hearts. Humility means we are genuinely concerned for the other person and we aren’t trying to elevate ourselves in their eyes. When our hearts aren’t right, they will see through us as quickly as the Beaver’s dad could see through Eddie. We need to remove the log out of our eyes (Matt 7:3).
Most versions tell us not to rebuke an older man. NASU says we shouldn’t sharply rebuke him. Does this mean that we really shouldn’t say anything negative or not. The NASU picks up the concept of not using a sharp rebuke from the context and other usages of the word, not the original text. The context clearly instructed Timothy to do something about the situation. Other uses of the word as recorded in the Textus Receptus include Matt 8:26 when Jesus rebuked the wind and waves, Matt 16:22 when Peter tried to rebuke Jesus, Mark 8:33 when Jesus rebuked Peter saying for Satan to get behind him. The list goes on, but the concept is that this is a get-in-your-face type of rebuke. This is reserved for those who are really messing up and demons.

Exhort – Encourage – Appeal – Intreat
So how should I approach an older person who needs some correction? Some major versions of the Bible use all three of these words when dealing with older men who need correction. I like the NASU (appeal) and the KJV (intreat). They impart the concept that I’m asking something from him instead of tell him something. It shows that I can get my point across by asking questions as well as informing. It fits with the idea of showing respect and honor to the older person. It helps encourage because he is then helping the younger person rather than becoming defensive.

Sometimes a bit firmer approach is needed.
So Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said: "I am young in years, and you are very old; Therefore I was afraid, And dared not declare my opinion to you. I said, 'Age should speak, And multitude of years should teach wisdom.'” (Job 32:6-7 NKJV)
Elihu had just listened to three older men berate Job at length. He kept quiet but finally had to speak. He continued to apologize for interrupting their debate but also expressed his concern for the truth. Even then, I think that they would have jumped all over Elihu had not God intervened. I had one experience where I felt compelled, as did Elihu, to speak up. I waited to do it in private and thought I was doing it correctly. However, the conversation ended by the older person thanking me for my criticism. It was obvious that I hadn’t approached the man correctly and that it was taken as rebuke instead of encouragement.

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. (Rom 12:18 NLT)
While it isn’t always possible to live at peace with everyone, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Paul made it clear that we should do more than just make a half-hearted attempt. We need to do all we can. That may mean going back and apologizing for our approach.

Younger Men
You would think that talking to a younger man would be easier. However Paul advises that we treat them as brothers. That means that we don’t look down on them or lord it over them. Instead we need to show them honor and respect as an equal.

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. (Matt 18:15 RSV)
This is good advice whether the person is older or younger. Does this verse apply, though, to dealing with someone who has not sinned against you but has been advancing some poor biblical teaching? Lev 6:2-5 says that a person who has wronged a neighbor has sinned against the Lord. If a person is teaching something that is wrong, then it will most likely show up in a resulting sinful behavior. It leads to sin, weakens faith, distracts from service, and could even lead someone away from Christ. It will definitely hurt someone if left unchecked. So, yes, it does apply to correcting someone’s doctrine even it if hasn’t affected you personally.

Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted. (Gal 6:1 NASB)
Many brothers are competitive. Instead of approaching each other in gentleness, they are always looking for a way of one-upping the other. It is probably even harder to correct someone who has been teaching bad doctrine than some other sins. It could look like you are trying to show your superiority. We need to look at our approach carefully to make sure we aren’t coming across as the spiritual giant than the brother is a spiritual moron.

The warning to us is also that we need to be spiritual. We need to be walking with the Lord and know that our conscience is clear, especially in the area where we are trying to help our brother. A phenomena occurs when we listen to another person’s trespass, we can be tempted to do the same thing. That is why so many counselors, pastors, and psychiatrists end up in illicit relationships with counselees.
Women
This leads right into the topic of a man and his relationship to women in the church. Remember that we’re talking about a young pastor who has to correct and teach his church members. Therefore he is going to be encountering some difficult situations with women of all ages. This can happen to anyone of us.

However, the advice about dealing with men still applies to dealing with women. Treating older women as mothers is the same kind of advice as honoring older men as fathers. Speaking gently and showing the kind of respect to a younger woman as you would your own sister is imperative.
The only addition is that there must be absolute purity. Paul didn’t mention that when one man is teaching and admonishing another man. This would mean that closed-door meetings alone with a woman would not be appropriate.

How does this instruction apply to women in the church when dealing with each other? I think that question should be answered with a question. Why wouldn’t it apply in the same way? Is there any reason that we can’t substitute the sexes in this verse?
Rebuke not an elder, but intreat her as a mother; and the younger women as sisters; The elder men as fathers; the younger as brothers, with all purity. (1 Tim 5:1-2 KJV with genders changed.)
Does that mean that a woman should be able to rebuke, exhort, encourage, or appeal to a man who has a problem? 1 Tim 2:12 covered Paul’s instruction about having women in authority. He didn’t allow women to teach men or be in authority over them. Therefore, as a general rule, you shouldn’t find a woman in a position where she has to put this kind of teaching into practice that Paul is telling Timothy to do.

However, this doesn’t rule out informal occasions when a woman must confront a man. If he hasn’t been treating a woman properly then she should certainly follow the direction of Matt 18:15-17. I’m assuming the man is a jerk in this situation, she may want to make sure the first encounter is in an appropriate location where no wrong intentions can take place.

If a woman hears a man make a comment about Scripture that is incorrect, she certainly should be able to inquire what he means and then share with him what her understanding is. However, if he persists in something that would be heresy, it would not be her position to pursue it further on her own, just as it would not be wise for a man to continue without the agreement of others – in essence applying Matt 18:15-17 to the situation.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Revelation Bible Study - Lesson 52 - Revelation 22:12-21

"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (NASU)
 
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and every one who loves and practices falsehood.

"I Jesus have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star."

The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let him who hears say, "Come." And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price.

I warn every one who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if any one takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen. (RSV)

Jesus Is Coming SOON

 
How many times does Jesus say in this chapter that He is coming soon or quickly? What should our response be? 
 

The angel says that this is all going to take place soon (verse 6). Then Jesus speaks to say that He is coming soon. He says it three times in this chapter. The response of the Holy Spirit, the bride of Jesus, and all of us who hear is “Come!”  

Why would some Christians not want Jesus to come soon? 
 

One of the worst curses on the church today is that it is not listening to what Jesus has said, and what our response should be. He said He is returning soon and we are to watch and be alert. We are to expect His return and look for it eagerly. Our response is to say with others throughout the ages, “Come!”

The reason that many don’t say it is because we are afraid. We are afraid that He will come either before we are ready, or before some of our loved ones are ready. This shows that we don’t trust Him to know what the right time is in either case. It is because we are more in love with the temporal things of this world than in love with Him. Or maybe we really are not trusting completely in Him from the standpoint of knowing what is best for us. 

Peter therefore seeing him said to Jesus, "Lord, and what about this man?" Jesus said to him, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” This saying therefore went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?" (John 21:21-23 NASB)

How did Jesus’ comments to Peter show us how we should live in expectancy of His return?
  

When Jesus left, He left with promises that He would return. We have looked at a lot of these in Matthew because of the signs that would occur before His return. Now, let’s look at the expectancy that He left. Jesus gave us a model to follow in expectancy. He had to deal with Peter, who wanted to know more about how Jesus was going to use someone else than how Jesus was going to use him. He told Peter that he would die before He returned, but He also said that it was none of Peter’s business to consider the other person. People took Jesus’ words wrong and John straightened them out. It points out that the expectancy of His return is for our own lifetime, unless He has pointed out something different for an individual. On the other hand, John also knew that it was possible for Jesus to wait even longer.

Some people say that as Paul got older, his writing revealed less expectancy for the return of Jesus. They use this to show that as a person matures in Christ, they should be easing up on the expectancy and paying more attention to spending the rest of their life on earth. Let’s see what Paul said in chronological order and see what he says about Christ’s return.

51 AD - to the Thessalonians


For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thess 4:16-18 KJV)

Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. (1 Thess 5:10-11 KJV)

What impression does this give you regarding Paul’s passion about Jesus return? What was Paul’s reason for writing this? 
 

These are some of the strongest passages that Paul wrote concerning the return of Jesus. They are very specific and concise. You really should read all the verses between these two passages. The words are for encouragement. His return is to give us hope and we are to use this information to encourage others. It is to help those in grief to let them know that we will again see departed loved ones who are in Christ. That should encourage us to share with others as well.  

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. (2 Thess 2:1-3 ESV)  

What did Paul emphasize in his second letter to the Thessalonians? What should we remember when we read this passage? 
 

Apparently some had come and said something contrary to his teachings and, like some cults of today, claimed that Jesus’ second coming had already occurred. Paul needed to set them straight. However, it is important to note by reading the rest of the chapter that it was his custom to teach about these things fully when he first brought the gospel to people. The Thessalonians apparently forgot much of what Paul had said to them.

While we are to be expectantly waiting Jesus’ coming, we also need to remember that certain events will precede His coming. Even though this lawless one must come first, events in the world can turn rapidly in a matter of days. We need to be alert and not fall into the trap of thinking His return is so far away that it doesn’t matter to us.

55 - 57 AD - to the Corinthians


How does Paul indentify the way we should be waiting for Jesus when he wrote to the Corinthians? (1 Cor 1:7; 15:20-28, 51; 16:22)
 

Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. (1 Cor 1:7 NIV)

Paul starts off by saying the Corinthians were already eagerly waiting for Jesus to be revealed. We find this term, eagerly, in many passages. The Discovery Bible[1] has a number 1 after the word eagerly. This means that it is an intensive compound that can’t be properly translated into English. Can the intensity of your eagerness be expressed adequately in English?

Paul finishes his letter in 1 Cor 15:20-28, 51, and 52 as he deals with the resurrection from the dead and Jesus coming again because some have been teaching otherwise. There is no lack in Paul’s enthusiasm for Jesus’ return.
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. (1 Cor 16:22 KJV)
 
I love that word, maranatha. It means come, O Lord. Rather than Paul becoming less expectant of Jesus’ return, it appears that he has tied loving Jesus with expectancy and a desire to see Him come. Paul’s enthusiasm for the return of Jesus has not been reduced; it is still strong.  

According to Paul, what should be a result of your expectancy of Jesus’ return? See 1 Cor 15:58. 
 

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Cor 15:58 KJV)

 Paul is teaching about Christ’s return and the resurrection so that we may stand firm and not let anything move us from our faith and work in the Lord. With that firmness, knowing He is returning, we don’t sit back and relax, but we give ourselves fully to the Lord. Sitting back and relaxing is selfish. It is an attitude that doesn’t care about others being saved now that I am; I don’t want heaven crowded. I hope no one has that attitude, but in a way some do without realizing it when they de-emphasize His return.

58 AD - to the Romans


Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; (Rom 12:11 KJV)
And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. (Rom 16:20a KJV) 

What impression does Paul give about the return of Jesus from these verses? 
 

Paul didn’t address the second coming of Jesus, yet his statements don’t leave the impression that he has calmed down or in some way discovered that Jesus is not coming as soon as he expected. No, he is even sure that the end will come and Satan will be crushed.

60 to 64 AD - to the Colossians


If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Col 3:1-4 KJV) 

What should our state of mind be when we think of Jesus and His return? 
 

Paul matter-of-factly links Jesus’ coming with the attitude and state of mind that we should have. It is going to happen and because it is, we should be getting our act together. He doesn’t spell out the urgency of it here, but it brings a thrill to the believer’s heart just to hear the mention of His coming. Not because of the glory we will receive, but because we will be with Him.

62 AD - to the Philippians


For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (Phil 3:20-21 NASU)  

Does this sound as if Paul has waned in his expectancy? What hope does this communicate to us? 
 

Paul wrote here to give us hope. It is one of the things we have heard from him before. We are to wait eagerly for His coming. Again, The Discovery Bible[2] has a number 1 after the word eagerly. When we are eagerly waiting for someone to appear, we are not focusing on our needs, but on his. It is this kind of hope that keeps us going when times get rough. When our bodies fail to function the way we want them to, we still have the hope that our bodies will be transformed. Knowing this, we get on with what He wants us to do, however limited that may be. An example is Joni Eareckson Tada who’s ministry is alive and filled with hope because she is eagerly awaiting His return.

62 To 63 AD - to the Ephesians


Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (Eph 1:9-10 KJV)  

What do these verses proclaim regarding Jesus’ return in the outline of God’s work in our lives?
 

Paul didn’t directly say anything about the return of Jesus in the book of Ephesians other than this verse. It is included in a brief outline of the works of God in our lives. The fulfillment of Jesus’ return when all things will be brought together in Him is just as important as every other aspect of the way God works in our lives. He is saving us to be His people. This shows that it is an integral part of God’s plan, not something that can be included or excluded depending on personal preference.

63 AD - 1st Letter to Timothy


Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; (1 Tim 4:1 KJV)
I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing, which He will manifest in His own time … (1 Tim 6:13-15 NKJV)  

If we say Jesus’ return isn’t soon, how might that affect some people’s faith? What should we do? 
 

It is evident that what Paul said here is still consistent with what he has said before. He is warning Timothy about some abandoning the faith in the later times, not the middle times. He is pointing this out so that he can correct erroneous teaching. When some start denying that Christ’s return could be soon, they are denying what Jesus Himself said. To selectively believe and then teach others to be selective weakens faith and can even cause someone to fall away. Our job is to point out the error when we see it. The later times are the times just before Jesus appears.

Paul also charged Timothy to keep himself pure until Jesus appears, not until he died and goes to be with Christ. Our hope is to be with Jesus. If we die and go to heaven, that is great, but our greater hope is to live and see Jesus’ return. The expectancy of His coming helps us stay pure.

64 AD - 2nd Letter to Timothy


This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Tim 3:1 KJV)
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings. (2 Tim 4:1-3 RSV) 

How did Paul connect the return of Jesus to his instructions to Timothy? How have churches ignored this instruction? 
 

Paul went on for eight more verses in chapter three explaining just how terrible it will be in the last days. In the next chapter he tied the eventual return of Jesus to his instructions to Timothy. Paul didn’t make any distinction between the future and the current instructions for Timothy. He wanted Timothy to be prepared always, just as if Jesus were about to return the very next day. We must have sound doctrine because we know that before Jesus returns some will depart from it. Sound doctrine is to be used to correct, rebuke, and encourage. It is ironic that one of the first doctrines to be swept under the rug or ignored is the fact that Jesus is soon coming.

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Tim 4:8 KJV) 

Even in old age, what should our attitude toward Jesus’ return be? 
 

 Paul knew that his life was almost over (2 Tim 4:6), yet his charge is clear. Even if we are on our deathbeds, we should still to be longing for His appearing. The Discovery Bible[3] says, “have loved His returning". The tense described for have loved in the last page fold-out is “And now still is (an action having lingering results or continuing effects); an action leaving a condition or state of lasting significance or status.” For those of us who long for His coming, it changes us and we are different. It has a continuing affect on us. Those who are not concerned or are apathetic about His coming are missing out on the life-changing power of God.

65 AD - Letter to Titus


For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:11-14 KJV)  

How does Paul describe Jesus’ coming in his last epistle? What teaching book-ends this description? 
 

Paul called His appearing a blessed hope. A blessed hope conveys more than a passing concept. He has sandwiched it in between two passages on godly living. The preceding verse makes it clear that we can’t do anything we want and think that it will all be straightened out by His coming. Rather, we are to be living godly lives while we are waiting. The whole book of Titus is made up of compact theological statements. It is Paul’s last letter, and the return of Jesus is not missing or diminished.

Other New Testament Letters


For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Heb 9:26-28 KJV)   

How is Jesus’ second coming treated by the other author of Hebrews? How does this help us live today? 
 

Two points are noteworthy. First, Jesus’ sacrifice for sin is considered to be at the end of the ages. This leads to the expectancy that we are still in the end times. We are not expecting some time in the future to be the end times. Secondly, His return is a matter of fact, and that salvation is for those who are waiting for Him. The Discovery Bible[4] says, “for those who are eagerly waiting on Him.” The Greek word eagerly is prefixed with an intensive compound. It means that they are thoroughly or completely eagerly waiting. We are waiting, because when He returns, our salvation will have been completed. It is easy to forget that even though we are saved, there is more. Many live their lives not thinking about how it will be. They concentrate so much on the here and now that they forget there is more to come. They lose sight of the goal and stop running, unsure of their purpose. Keeping in mind that He is coming again keeps Him in focus. When we focus on Him, our lives are different. 

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Heb 10:25 KJV)
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. (Heb 10:36-37 KJV) 

We are encouraged to meet together and encourage each other. The reason to do this even more is that we see the day drawing near. This is the day of Jesus’ return. The Discovery Bible[5] emphasized drawing near, which means that it is the focus of the verse in the Greek. The NASU says He is coming back in a very little while in verse 37. Very is emphasized as the focus. The writer of this book obviously expected Jesus to return at any time. Again, we are encouraged to live by faith while we wait. So often, longing for Jesus to come is the motivation to continue living as if He were here now. 

You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near. Don't grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:8-9 NLT)  

What is James’ advice in view of Jesus’ return? 
 

If you had found the coming of Jesus missing from any book, you would have it expected to miss it here. James is the practical book of faith. Verse after verse he admonished us to live Christian lives. Then he told us to be patient because Jesus is coming again and that it is near. He didn’t say for us to be patient because we could die anytime as he did in Jas 1:9-11 and 4:13-17. The thought of our brief lifetime is to humble us and make us completely dependent on Him. The knowledge of Jesus’ return at any moment is to encourage us to be patient and not grumble. 

Read 1 Peter 1:5-7, 13, 20-21; 4:7, 17-19. Explain how Peter viewed Jesus’ return and what our response should be. 
 

Peter didn’t use words in chapter one that would indicate that the return of Jesus is to be soon or that we are to be expecting it soon. He simply established it as fact that when He is revealed in the last times, His salvation will have been completed for us. But he also believed he was already in the last times. That means we should also consider that we are in the last times.

What is it he wants us to do in light of this information? We need to prepare our minds so that we can be self-controlled with faith and hope in God.

In chapter four, Peter introduced urgency as he announced that the end is near. The end is a time of judgment, but we are to be judging ourselves even before He returns. If He is to return at anytime, then we are to be living godly lives, not ungodly lives. Because of the hope that is within us, we may suffer, but that suffering will not cause us to turn to evil ways to alleviate it. We are not to deny the Lord since He is our hope. 

Read 2 Peter 3:3-18. How did Peter describe the end, what will people be like, and again, what should our response be? How does living godly lives speed His coming? 
 

Peter closes the last chapter of his second letter with a very vivid and concise explanation of the end times. He sums it up very well when he explains that those who deny His coming have denied it deliberately. Those who are not looking forward to His return will do much to keep it out of their minds. When they deny His words, any of them, they will only reap destruction on themselves. In contrast, Peter points out that Jesus’ delay in coming is to give a chance for those very same people to repent and turn to Him. What may seem like a long time to us is soon to Him. Even so, Peter reaffirms that when the end does come, it will be suddenly.

By our godly and holy lives, we actually speed His coming. How can that be? If we are being lights in the world then the world sees clearly and makes a choice either for or against Jesus. They are then without excuse if they reject Jesus. What I believe will happen is that the intensity of the difference between those with and without Christ will become greater, to the point that Jesus will say, “Enough.” But again, it is clear that as we look forward to His return, it is so we may live spotless lives. Yet the contrast is that His delay means the opportunity for salvation for more. We need to spread this message. 

Read 1 John 2:18, 24, 26, 28. What are John’s concerns regarding the last times? 
 

John knew the importance of Jesus’ return before the Lord gave him the book of Revelation. As with the other writers of the New Testament, he considered his time to be the last hour. It appears that some people were teaching that it was not the last hour. We, too, should consider the time we live in as the last hour. He tells us to make sure that what we have heard from the beginning is to remain in us so we will not be led astray. If we aren’t led astray we will be blameless when Jesus appears and we will be unashamed. Some were trying to lead them astray, just as occurs today. I wouldn’t be surprised that they first taught that Jesus wasn’t coming soon and then lead them astray in other areas.

If you were not watching for His soon return, what would you be doing? Would you watch more TV, go to more movies, or read more romance novels? Are you doing too many of these things now? If so then perhaps you should try to think about how you should be living your life as if He were to return today. 

Read Jude 14-23. How does Jude describe people in the last days and what is our response? 
 

Jude devotes almost half of his letter warning us about people who scoff about the return of Jesus and other things. They doubt the return of Jesus and this is the reason they introduce other wrong teaching. They are following natural instincts. They are worldly people who cause divisions because they don’t listen to the Holy Spirit. This is just as the apostles and Jesus said. That’s quite and indictment against those who have twisted the truth about the return of Jesus.

So what are we to do instead of following these instincts and the teaching of those who do? We are to build up our faith by praying in the Holy Spirit. We are to be waiting for the mercy of Jesus to bring us to eternal life. The NAS says to wait anxiously (Jude 21). When He comes, He will usher us into eternal life. This doesn’t sound like someone who thinks Jesus is not going to appear in his lifetime.

Jude gives a good list of thing to do as we wait anxiously. We are to be sharing the good news with others. As we do that we will be showing mercy and will snatch others from the edge of hell. Back in Jude 3 we were told to contend for the faith. The tense indicates that it is something that we are to do constantly. It is to be our habit, not something that we do occasionally, if the situation demands it. That is the way we share with others, constantly. A big key for that is to keep ourselves in God’s love.

How would you respond to those who claim that the only reason the early church looked for Jesus’ soon return was that they suffered so much?
 

The early church was a suffering church. The return of Jesus promised an end to the suffering. Yet the message was also quite clear that it was through the suffering they were built up and prepared for His coming. One of the reasons that the return of Jesus is not preached as much now is that our prosperity has replaced our hope in His coming. The wiles of Satan have used the blessings of abundance to decrease the sense that people need hope. Everyone understood that Jesus’ return was near, yet only with the possible case of the Thessalonians (2 Thess 3:6-13), people kept doing as Jesus commanded. They worked and watched not knowing the hour so that they would be welcomed as good and faithful servants.

Three times we see Jesus say that He is coming soon. King James and NAS say quickly. Several translations say soon. The meaning is clear in context with what the rest of the New Testament has said. It is soon, at this very hour. It will be suddenly or quickly; the events will proceed quickly like the flash of lightning. Matt 24:36-51 is a good summary of what Jesus meant. It contains both the idea that His return will be soon and sudden. It tells us that our attitude is to be expectant and watchful. We are not to stop doing the work He has laid out for us. A motivating factor behind the Christian life is Jesus’ return – soon!

Blessing or Danger


Do you remember the promise of blessing in Rev 1:3? Who will be blessed and what is the condition? 
 

Jesus promises us a blessing as we keep the words of His prophecy. At the beginning of the book He explains that we will be blessed as we read and take it to heart, heed, or keep the words of the prophecy. In Rev 22:9, we are again told to keep the words (same Greek word as in Rev 1:3).  

As you look back on the book of Revelation, what words stand out that we should keep as individuals or as the Church?
 

The words that stand out to me are His call to holiness and His call to warn others and share with them what judgment means. Very little of what we are taught today is about judgment unless it is specifically talking about end-times. Preachers have been criticized about hell fire and brimstone so they have gotten away from ever mentioning it. Hell is a reality that is graphically described in this book. We should not minimize it. Salvation and heaven are also graphically described. We should not be ashamed to present the contrast. The rewards and glories of heaven are often not preached because we have been criticized for preaching pie in the sky. It sounds to me like the power of God has been diminished because of human criticism. 

What will be the reward for those who distort the message of Revelation?
 

Just as keeping of the prophecy brings blessings, so there is danger for those who will try to distort the message. Those who do more than criticize preachers but also deny and attempt to change the prophecy by adding or subtracting from the Word will be in a heap of trouble. Their rewards will be all the plagues of the book and forfeiture of eternal life. Those who reduce the words of this book and minimize what is going to happen will have no part in the New Jerusalem.

What does it mean for someone to lose his share in the tree of life?
 

We have already seen that those who undergo the plagues are those who are on the earth after the rapture. They will be left because of their unbelief. For the others who lose their share in the tree of life, it sounds like they could have been saved and then lost again. This gets sticky so we need to remember that Scripture is consistent. We have to go back to verses like John 3:16 to see that the tree of life is made available to all because Jesus gave Himself so that whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life. In that sense, all people are entitled to or have the right to a share in the tree of life. However, there is a condition attached to the right. They must believe. If they demonstrate their unbelief by removing part of the Word, they lose that right. The water of life is a free gift, but they must come and take it. Once they have, then there is no danger in losing it, for the Giver of life is also the One that will keep us in Him.

Why would this warning keep people from teaching the book of Revelation?
 

This warning may be one of the reasons some preachers shy away from preaching from the book of Revelation. They may be afraid that they will add or subtract from the Word if they do a poor job. However, they don’t consider that Prov 30:6 already covers the whole Bible and they should be just as fearful when teaching any part of God’s Word. Any time we neglect a book of the Bible, we are taking away from God’s Word.

You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. (Deut 4:2 NKJV)

However, if they don’t preach from the book of Revelation, they are losing the blessing of sharing the knowledge of His return. They are in fact missing the blessing that they would receive because of the encouragement that this brings to believers as well as the warning to the lost. When we encourage others, we too, are built up and encouraged. Rather than avoid the book of Revelation because of pressure from men, or fear of altering what it says, we should be sharing about Jesus coming again – soon.

More Revelations


Does Rev 22:18-19 tell us that there will be no more revelations from God? What are some other verses that would prove or disprove this assumption?
 

Many people use Rev 22:19 to say that no more revelation is to come and that no one can add to the Bible. That isn’t really what the verse is saying. It is directed specifically to the book of Revelation.

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you, and you be found a liar. (Prov 30:5-6 RSV)

If you want to quote verses that pertain to all of God’s Word, use these. This proverb makes it clear that anything that is God’s Word is flawless. It will hang together with the rest of the Word of God and not contradict it. If someone does claim to be a prophet with a message that is God’s Word – equivalent to the Bible – it will become evident. God will prove him to be a liar if it isn’t. That is why one only has to wait a little while and examine the life of a self-proclaimed prophet to see if what he or she says is true. Sooner or later, God will show false prophets to be liars. If any passage establishes that there is not going to be any more revelation about God given to men, it is this one and the warning that follows.

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Heb 1:1-2 NASB)

Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? (Heb 2:1-4 KJV)

Can it get any clearer? We must pay more careful attention to what has been revealed through Jesus an those who were first hand witnesses of Him than anyone else. Salvation is the primary thing that Jesus has revealed. Unless Jesus reveals something new to a person it can’t be considered at the same level as the Bible. The only people that received this kind of revelation were the writers of the New Testament and God made sure that they had His confirmation by signs and wonders.

If Jesus were to reveal something new to someone, what test would be needed to prove its truth?
 

·         The revelation must be given by Jesus – such as the book of Revelation, which was written after the book of Hebrews.
·         The person who received the revelation would have to live an impeccably holy life proving he wasn’t a liar.
·         The message and the person would be confirmed by accompanying signs and wonders.
·         It must not contradict the Bible. God doesn’t change His mind about these things. (Numbers 23:19)

There is a lot of good preaching and writings about how to be saved and godly living in our age as our pastors and teachers expound on the Word. However, if one of them starts claiming special revelations from Jesus, we had better be careful. While Jesus may very well help someone understand and teach Scripture, I don’t think He will ever give us a new revelation that will meet the above tests and be elevated to the same authority as the Bible.

Rewards


And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Rev 22:12 KJV)

Some versions use the word recompense instead of reward. If recompense generally means compensation for injury or loss, which word would you chose to use in this verse and why?
 

Jesus is the one who will be bringing rewards for us. It blows my mind to think that the Creator of all things will reward us. Who are we that He should reward us for anything? Whatever we have done, it has only been because of Him. We had no power to live holy lives or to accomplish anything godly in this world.

And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30 KJV)

On the other hand, Jesus promised that He would make up for everything we gave up to follow Him. Still it doesn’t seem right that we should get anything for following the One who gave up His life on the cross so that we could have eternal live.

However, that is exactly what He will do. When the books are opened, which have recorded all we have done, they will contain only the deeds of faith. He will be rewarding us for these deeds.

How do the following verses describe what our rewards will be and/or why?
Dan 12:1-3
 
Matt 10:32
 
Matt 10:40-42
 
Matt 25:40, 45, Mark 9:41
 
Matt 22:28-30
 
Luke 6:35
 
Rom 2:6-7
 

Dan 12:1-3 – One of our rewards will be to shine like the brightness of the heavens. He is the light, and His reward is that we too will shine. This will be for wise people who turn others to righteousness.

Matt 10:32 – Our reward will be that Jesus will confess us before His Father. We will have a personal introduction to God the Father!

Matt 10:40-42 – I have no idea what a prophet’s reward is. However considering what they had to endure, I expect it is great. These rewards will only be given to believers. There will be a special emphasis on how we have treated other Christians. I think the reason is that we will show the world that we are His by the demonstration of our love for one another. (John 13:35)

Matt 25:40, 45, Mark 9:41 – These verses reinforce the concept that our rewards will be built, to a large extent, on our relationship with other Christians. When the judgment comes, those who have lived by the law, doing all that they could, will discover that they did not have a proper relationship with Christ’s disciples, much less Jesus Himself. The legalistic may have been kind to some, but when he ignored even one disciple he revealed his true colors and broke God’s perfect law (Matt 22:28-30). If we keep the whole law and stumble at just one point, we break the whole law (James 2:10). On the other hand, His disciples are keeping His Word by living by faith and showing kindness to one another, even when they don’t realize it. When one of His disciples fails to be kind to another, his sin is forgiven because of his faith. God doesn’t count the commissions of sin, but the omission of faith.

Luke 6:35 – Our rewards will be great when we are kind to our enemies, but the most important thing is that we will be sons of the Most High. All the other rewards will fade into insignificance in light of this.

Rom 2:6-7 – Those who seek the glory of God will be rewarded. They will be rewarded with what they have sought for God. When we want to glorify Him in our lives, we don’t seek it for ourselves. And what does He do? He gives us glory, honor, and immortality.

Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. (Isa 40:10 KJV)
Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. (Isa 62:11 KJV)

Lest anyone gets confused about from where our rewards come, the Old Testament is in full agreement that they come from our Savior. In Revelation and in Isaiah, the word reward is singular. The ultimate reward that we receive is to be with and in Him forever.

Who will receive the rewards of heaven as described in the book of Revelation? 
 

The ones who receive the reward are those who washed their robes. Let’s review who has done this.

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; (Rev 7:9 KJV)
These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. (Rev 7:14b-15 KJV)

We spent quite a bit of time in chapter seven showing that multitudes will come to the Lord. It isn’t just 144,000 because it says they were unable to count the multitude. It specifically mentions that they washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. The blood of Jesus was given feely for us.

How do we wash our robes in the blood of the Lamb, what is the process?
 

We have to be careful when we start talking about a process to become holy. This can lead to works in order to gain God’s approval and we aren’t talking about that. In Isaiah, chapter one, God rebukes Judah for doing exactly this. They were bringing sacrifices, holding new moon festivals, and convocations. He even called their Sabbaths evil assemblies. He repeatedly tells them to stop being rebellious. He finally tells them how to repent. In verse 16, God says to wash by getting rid of their evil deeds and stop doing wrong. The analogy for washing is brought up again in verse 18 and it is tied to being willing and obedient in verse 19.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isa 1:18 KJV)But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isa 64:6 KJV)
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (Rom 5:9 KJV)
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (Eph 1:7 KJV)

The only way our sins can be made white as snow, the only way our filthy garments of a sinful live can be made clean is by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. The only way we can cleanse ourselves is to take the gift that He died to give us. We really don’t do any washing, it is Jesus who washes us.

What rights to we receive when we are washed clean by the blood of Jesus?
 

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: (John 1:12 KJV)
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; (Eph 2:19)

When we receive Jesus we are washing our robes in the blood of the Lamb; we will be able to come to take the free gift of the water of life. When we accept the gift, we suddenly have rights. We have the right to the tree of life and to enter the gates. When we receive Jesus we have the right to become sons of God.

When we are members of God’s household, we are also fellow citizens with God’s people and this gives us the right to enter through the gates.

What is the key problem for those who will not be able to enter into heaven?
 

Again, we have the warning for those who haven’t surrendered their lives to Jesus. The warning reiterates what was in the previous chapter regarding those who will not have access to the tree of life. They will not even be allowed to come into the city where the tree is.

A couple of key problems are that they practice magic arts and falsehood. They love falsehood. This shows that they stand against everything that Jesus represents. The practice and love of these things shows that they have no desire to serve God. To serve God, He has to regenerate us and give us that desire. It is clear that they will not enter because of their actions but their actions are a result of their faith in things other than God. They don’t have an excuse. We are either saved by our faith, which is a gift, or condemned by our actions, which we deserve.

Who is Coming


What does Jesus reaffirm about Himself when He reiterates that He is coming back?
 

Once again, Jesus makes sure everyone knows that He is the one who is speaking and revealing Himself. He establishes that He is indeed God by His claim to be the beginning and the end, the same as God stated at the beginning of the book.

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. (Rev 1:8 KJV)

He also affirms what the angel just said, that He has sent the angel to give this to the churches. It is not to be hidden from them but used by them. Just in case someone missed who Jesus is or may think that this person who is claiming to be God is not the same Jesus that walked the earth, He identifies Himself with David. He is the promise of the Old Testament. He also identifies Himself as the one that will give to those who overcome. The Morning Star is the star that can still be seen as the sun is rising. Jesus, being God can still be seen in the light of God.

Come


Who wants Jesus to come back, do you?
 

As Jesus says He will come, we find the Holy Spirit saying come, and the bride saying come. We are all part of God and it is natural for us to say come. If it is not, then we need to examine ourselves to see what our relationship with Jesus is. If we cannot echo the eagerness of the Holy Spirit and the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the Church, then there is the distinct possibility that we are not part of it.

What hope is extended to those who have not yet received Christ?
 

Yet the hope is extended even here. If someone has never received Jesus as Lord and Savior, and hears that Jesus is coming, and if that person says come, then Jesus will come to that person at that time. I was as unsaved as the worst sinner in history when I first read about Jesus coming back again. I had a religious education that was better than many but hadn’t really heard or understood about Jesus coming back. When I read a description of the rapture, I said to myself, “I don’t want to miss that!” At that moment, I was a changed person as I essentially said, “Come.”

Anyone who agrees and says come is thirsty and wants to take of the water of life. Anyone who knows who Jesus is from reading His revelation and says come has the desire to be with Him and doesn’t want to be left on the outside. It may sound like a selfish reason, but the desire cannot be there if the Holy Spirit doesn’t give it to them. The desire of the unregenerate man is to cry to the rocks to hide him from the Lord and his wrath. (Rev 6:16) What is your cry – come or hide me?

Our response


What is your response to the book of Revelation?
 

If Jesus is Lord of our lives, if we love Him, if we desire to be with Him, then regardless of the circumstances that we see around us today or expect to see in the future, we also say “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” If we hesitate to say this, or even desire for Him to wait, we need to examine ourselves as Peter says.

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:10-11 ESV)

We need to make sure of our calling and election. This is a good test of His Lordship and our salvation.


[1] Hill, Gary, and Gleason L. Archer. The Discovery Bible. “1 Cor 1:7”, Chicago: Moody, 1987.
 
[2] ibid
[3] Hill, Gary, and Gleason L. Archer. The Discovery Bible. “2 Tim 4:8”, Chicago: Moody, 1987.
[4] Ibid, “Heb 9:28”
[5] Ibid, “Heb 10:25, 37”