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Monday, November 28, 2011

The literal truth and wisdom

David Baron author of “Israel, In the Plan of God”
Writing in 1925 Baron “knew” that Israel, would one day be gathered together and be a nation again. He “knew” that Israel would only be in this land for a “short time” before terrible trouble would ensue, with another dispersion, and very quickly a complete and true “planting of God” - restoration of Israel to its promised/covenanted purpose would occur. He “knew” all of this because he believed the word of God, as a literal and true word. So far only the first part of what he said would happen, has happened, but we can be known as “wise and true” people like David Baron, by simply believing the true word of God to be literal.
A few paragraphs from his book.
“God has again and again proved to those who have believed His word and
trusted in His holy name, that He is a God of the impossible -- or, according to His own word to Abraham, that there is nothing “too hard” or “wonderful” for Jehovah. As fellow workers for Israel’s salvation, let us exercise strong faith in God and not be daunted by what may seem to us impossibilities.
We look on the Jewish nation now, and say, “What a moral and spiritual
desert!” We look on the promised land and say, “How barren, how desolate!”
Let us look to the rock whence we were hewn to the hole of the pit whence we
were digged. (Isaiah 51:1) Was not Abraham as good as dead? Was not Sarah
naturally barren?
Yea, have we not experienced the supernatural power of God in our hearts
and lives? Has He not quickened and transformed our own souls? And what He has done in the past He will do, only on a more glorious scale, in the future; and what He has done for us, He can and will do for others.”

Monday, November 21, 2011

Romans Bible Study #37 Romans 11:25-36

Romans Bible Study # 37
Romans 11:25-36
Jehovah’s Interposition

25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,


28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? 35 Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

A Complete Israel

25-29I want to lay all this out on the table as clearly as I can, friends. This is complicated. It would be easy to misinterpret what's going on and arrogantly assume that you're royalty and they're just rabble, out on their ears for good. But that's not it at all. This hardness on the part of insider Israel toward God is temporary. Its effect is to open things up to all the outsiders so that we end up with a full house. Before it's all over, there will be a complete Israel. As it is written,

A champion will stride down from the mountain of Zion;
he'll clean house in Jacob.
And this is my commitment to my people:
removal of their sins.
From your point of view as you hear and embrace the good news of the Message, it looks like the Jews are God's enemies. But looked at from the long-range perspective of God's overall purpose, they remain God's oldest friends. God's gifts and God's call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.
30-32There was a time not so long ago when you were on the outs with God. But then the Jews slammed the door on him and things opened up for you. Now they are on the outs. But with the door held wide open for you, they have a way back in. In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in.

33-36Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It's way over our heads. We'll never figure it out.

Is there anyone around who can explain God?
Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
Anyone who has done him such a huge favor
that God has to ask his advice?
Everything comes from him;
Everything happens through him;
Everything ends up in him.
Always glory! Always praise!
Yes. Yes. Yes. The Message

Verse 25 - One last blow to pride, “don’t be wise in your own estimation.” God is in charge of all of this, anything you have is mercy, period. As Jerry says, it is revelation that helps us know God, not information. So, what we know about God has been revealed to us by God.

Verse 26 - The previous verse was talking about gentiles and contrasting them with the nation of Israel, so this verse is talking about ethnic, national Israel and it is an amazing verse. The sovereign, electing, grace of God has His way with a “nation.” As they behold “Him who they have pierced,” (Zechariah 12:10) they experience national repentance and a turning to their Savior. Grace for a nation. Mercy for a nation. All prophesied numerous times in the Old Testament: Ezek. 37:25-28, Isaiah 4:2-4, Zech 13:8,9, Isaiah 54:13, Isaiah 59:21, Isaiah 60:21, Jer. 31:34, Jer. 32:39-40

Piper felt to make a long argument for the total salvation of the nation of Israel.

If you ask, How does Paul know this? How can he be sure that the original covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not simply and totally fulfilled in Christ's gathering a remnant from Israel and the nations? Why does he think that the original covenant with the fathers implies that one day ethnic Israel as a whole will be part of the body of Christ?

Here is one possible answer. There are many places in the Old Testament prophets where the covenant with Abraham is reaffirmed and applied to the people as a whole for the future. A few examples:

The prophet Jeremiah is speaking to the people of Israel in exile in Babylon and promising them a future, and the future he promises goes far beyond what they experience in coming back as imperfect, sinful stragglers to Jerusalem. So for example, Jeremiah 24:5-7.

Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. 6 I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not uproot them. 7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.

That has not yet happened, and I think that God meant that it would happen in stages. That's what the prophetic perspective is like: it often sees the future as one scene like we sometimes see succeeding mountain ranges as one mountain. Jeremiah 31 is full of hope for Israel in a future that goes beyond anything they have experienced yet.

Verses 2-3: "Thus says the LORD: 'The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, 3 the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you."

Verses 10-11, 20: "He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock. 11 For the LORD has ransomed Jacob and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. . . . 20 Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still.

Then come the familiar words of the New Covenant that we know includes more than Israel—it is bought by the blood of Jesus (Luke 22:20) for all his people-Jew and Gentile. But does it include less than all Israel? Here are the familiar words, addressed primarily to Israel as a whole:

Verses 31-33: "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah . . . I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. . . . I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

But listen to what follows, addressing the same people:

Verses 35: "Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night . . . 36 'If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.' 37 Thus says the LORD: "If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the LORD.'"

In other words, I won't cast off Israel for what they have done. The prophet Ezekiel links the original covenant with Abraham and the everlasting commitment to the later people after the exile. For example in Ezekiel 16:60, God says, "Yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth [the root was holy!], and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant [all the branches will one day be holy]. Or Ezekiel 37:26, "I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore."

I think the apostle Paul read these promises and many like them, and was guided by divine inspiration to teach us that God's purpose for the nation of Israel as a whole is not yet complete. There was implicit in their election as a people not only that there would always be a remnant of saved Jews, but that in some future generation the people as a whole would be saved. If the firstfruits was holy, the whole lump will be holy. If the root was holy, the branches will be holy.

Verse 27 - God makes and keeps the covenant. Hosea and Gomer are the picture of it. Hosea marries Gomer, and no matter how unfaithful Gomer is Hosea remains faithful, committed, with covenant love.

Verse 28 - “enemies of the gospel” Those who have looked at history and seen the atrocities purported by “Christendom” against Jews, can well see why they would be resistant to the gospel. We have a lot of ‘baggage’ to overcome when witnessing to a Jewish person. From the big picture, their hardening has allowed the opening for us to enter in. But for the ways that Christendom has added to that hardening, God will hold us accountable as He did when a nation was chosen to discipline Israel and that nation ‘went too far.’ So there is a valid repentance necessary on the part of Christians for what has been done to the Jew in history by people who said they were followers of Christ.

Verse 29 - God’s call goes out, God’s word goes out and it does not come back fruitless. It accomplishes what it was sent out to do. His word does not fall short. His covenant promises do not ‘die.’ That is the underlying point of this three chapter journey. God made promises to Israel and no matter how “roundabout” their fulfillment is, THEY WILL BE FULFILLED, because they are MY promises, backed up by MY words.

Verse 30,31 - Piper had the most wisdom on this.
Consider the four stages of God’s design in history.

1) The time of Gentile disobedience—the time when God let the nations go their own ways and sink further and further into sin, while God patiently wrote a lesson book for the nations in the history of Israel as he gave them law and writings and prophets.

2) The time of Jewish disobedience—the time when they rejected their Messiah, Jesus Christ, and God gave them up to hardness.

3) The time of mercy shown to millions of Gentiles through the spread of the gospel to all nations and calling out a redeemed people of God—a fullness of the Gentiles.

4) The time of mercy on Israel as God completes his redemptive plan and takes away the hardening and saves the nation of Israel with a mass conversion to Christ.

Verse 32 - A lot of the hard to understand scriptures, in these three chapters, become easier to understand when you bow before this one verse. God has for His highest purpose, the best purpose, His exaltation, His glory. So if the path to that is “shutting us all up in disobedience” then so be it. To God be the glory.

Verse 33-36 Off we go into one of the most beautiful, majestic, “songs,” in the Bible. And it comes as a result of three chapters of contemplating God, His ways in history and His ways with the nations and His ways with with the chosen people and His ways with us as individuals.

“The Riches”

Take God’s “riches” first. God is rich in at least three senses.

1. God Owns All

First, God owns all that exists that is not God. Psalm 24:1 is the most familiar statement of this truth: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” But Deuteronomy 10:14 is far more sweeping: “Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.” So not only does God own the earth and all that is in it, including you, but he also owns the reaches of space and the heavens beyond the heavens with all their angelic armies. In other words, nothing exists outside God that is not God’s. He owns it, and, as his possession, he may do with it as he pleases. Human wealth compared to God’s wealth is ridiculously tiny and laughable to boast in. Bill Gates is a pauper and has nothing compared to the poorest heir of God (Romans 8:17).

2. God Makes All

Second, God is rich in the sense that he made all that is and can make anything he pleases and as much as he pleases out of nothing. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 8:3; 104:24). In other words, his resources are infinite because the resources out of which he can make anything is nothingness, and there is an incalculable “amount” of nothingness. Or to say it more simply, if you can make what you please effortlessly out of nothing, then your riches are limitless, because your creativity is not limited by raw materials. You don’t need raw materials. God is infinitely rich, because he owns all that is, and because he can make more of anything that he pleases out of nothing.

3. God Is the Infinite Treasure of the Universe

Third, God is rich in the sense that he himself is the infinite Treasure of the universe. God does not have to create anything or to own anything in order to be rich. He is himself of infinite value. And since he exists as a Trinity of Persons in one Godhead, he has been able to enjoy the riches of his own glory from all eternity existing in the other Persons of the Godhead.

When Paul speaks in other places of “the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7) and “the riches of his kindness” (Romans 2:4) and “the riches of his glory” (Romans 9:23), this is the main thing: God freely giving himself in grace and kindness to us for our enjoyment of his own all-satisfying glory forever.

Or the most personal and ultimate way to speak of God’s wealth is to call it “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (which Paul does in Ephesians 3:8)—not just riches that Christ gives, but the riches that Christ is. As Paul says in Colossians 1:27, “The riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ himself is the present guarantee and the future gift of the glory of God. When Christ died, he bought and he became our greatest Treasure. He himself is the gift and the greatness of the glory of God.

God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge are unfathomably deep; therefore:

1. all things are from him and through him; therefore
2. no one can give a gift to God so as to make him a debtor; and
3. no one can give any counsel to God about how he should do things; which is why
4. his ways and judgments are unsearchable and inscrutable to our finite minds; so that, finally,
5. we should give all glory to God, and be content with an utterly dependent Christ-exalting happiness in God.

(deep theological stuff)
“All things are from him and through him.”

But let’s not say more than we should here. There is another sense in which we must not say that all things are from God. For example, think of 1 John 2:15-16,

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

Here John says that “the desires of the flesh” and “the desires of the eyes” and the “pride in possessions” is “not from God.” So in one sense “all things” are “from God.” But in another sense these evil things are not from God.

I take this to mean that sin does not come from God’s nature. That is, it’s not an extension or aspect of God’s nature or character. God is holy, and there is no unholiness in him. God is light, and in him is no darkness. The darkness and unholiness of sin do not arise as part of God’s nature or character. They don’t come from him in that sense. Sin can be from God and through God in the sense of ultimate and decisive cause, but not in the sense that sin comes from his nature or character. God wills that sin be, without himself sinning. It is not a sin when God, with infinite wisdom and holiness, ordains that sin exist. Sin is “from him” as the one who ordained it, but “not from him” as an expression of his nature.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thomas and Israel in the day of the Lord

God would not do something special to save the Jewish nation.
So goes the argument of some, but I believe God opened to me an understanding of Thomas and the nation of Israel in the day of the Lord.
Thomas was given the opportunity to see the nail prints and put his hand in the side of His Savior, because "none of those You have given Me, could be lost."
The Nation of Israel will see "Him whom they pierced." and will experience repentance and conversion, because for the sake of the Name of God and His unchanging covenant "all Israel will be saved."
In the same way God demonstrated positively amazing mercy and "coming down" to Thomas' level, He will do the same for the nation Israel.
And the words spoken to Thomas also apply to the 'day of the Lord,' because a greater blessing goes to those who are already in the air, who believed without seeing. They go on to resurrected bodies, while the nation Israel is a sign and a wonder in human bodies on the earth.

Romans Bible Study # 36 Romans 11:11-24

Romans Bible Study #36
Romans 11:11-24
A Word to Those Without

11 I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. 12 Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! 13 But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.

17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. 22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? NASB

Pruning and Grafting Branches
11-12The next question is, "Are they down for the count? Are they out of this for good?" And the answer is a clear-cut No. Ironically when they walked out, they left the door open and the outsiders walked in. But the next thing you know, the Jews were starting to wonder if perhaps they had walked out on a good thing. Now, if their leaving triggered this worldwide coming of non-Jewish outsiders to God's kingdom, just imagine the effect of their coming back! What a homecoming!
13-15But I don't want to go on about them. It's you, the outsiders, that I'm concerned with now. Because my personal assignment is focused on the so-called outsiders, I make as much of this as I can when I'm among my Israelite kin, the so-called insiders, hoping they'll realize what they're missing and want to get in on what God is doing. If their falling out initiated this worldwide coming together, their recovery is going to set off something even better: mass homecoming! If the first thing the Jews did, even though it was wrong for them, turned out for your good, just think what's going to happen when they get it right!
16-18Behind and underneath all this there is a holy, God-planted, God-tended root. If the primary root of the tree is holy, there's bound to be some holy fruit. Some of the tree's branches were pruned and you wild olive shoots were grafted in. Yet the fact that you are now fed by that rich and holy root gives you no cause to crow over the pruned branches. Remember, you aren't feeding the root; the root is feeding you.
19-20It's certainly possible to say, "Other branches were pruned so that I could be grafted in!" Well and good. But they were pruned because they were deadwood, no longer connected by belief and commitment to the root. The only reason you're on the tree is because your graft "took" when you believed, and because you're connected to that belief-nurturing root. So don't get cocky and strut your branch. Be humbly mindful of the root that keeps you lithe and green.
21-22If God didn't think twice about taking pruning shears to the natural branches, why would he hesitate over you? He wouldn't give it a second thought. Make sure you stay alert to these qualities of gentle kindness and ruthless severity that exist side by side in God—ruthless with the deadwood, gentle with the grafted shoot. But don't presume on this gentleness. The moment you become deadwood, you're out of there.
23-24And don't get to feeling superior to those pruned branches down on the ground. If they don't persist in remaining deadwood, they could very well get grafted back in. God can do that. He can perform miracle grafts. Why, if he could graft you—branches cut from a tree out in the wild—into an orchard tree, he certainly isn't going to have any trouble grafting branches back into the tree they grew from in the first place. Just be glad you're in the tree, and hope for the best for the others. The Message

God is out to decimate human pride, keep that in mind, and this section of scripture will make perfect sense. The pride of being the “chosen people” was wrecked when God chose a people not even seeking Him. And the pride of being chosen, by grace alone, is broken, when grace is truly seen as grace and the “chosen people”.. completely unworthy and having rejected God at every turn, are grafted back in by the same ‘amazing grace’ that we sing about, but do not fully comprehend or extend to others. And they are not only grafted back in as individuals, but to display the sovereignty of God’s choice, they are grafted back in as a nation. The purpose of God, the choosing of God, the ‘specificity’ of God, is exalted and the pride of man lies in ashes, as it should, as it must.
Also note that this is a very round-about way to go about ‘salvation.’ God is not in a hurry and rarely does He do things in a straight line. He is not ‘reasonable,' although He does invite us to ‘come and reason together.' He does things in His way, in His time, for His glory.
Barth thoughts: The fall is not the end, the stumbling is not the end, the knowledge that Israel is failing in its call, or that the ‘church’ is failing in its call, is contrasted with the fact that God has chosen to ‘keep’ it. Failure does not mean ‘the end’, because God is in control and chooses to be revealed to the world through ‘clay vessels.’
We stand in the presence of God, naked of any human righteousness, relying on the ‘divine’ forgiveness of sins. We await God. His grace that allows us to hear His the life-giving word, that He utters. Election is by grace, it is hazardous, to be so certain as to remove the fear of God. Our hope is totally in Him. “He that scattered Israel will gather him.” Jeremiah 31:10

Verse 11 - The stumble is just that a stumble, not a fall. In the big picture God is working out salvation. This is part of the plan, a plan that ultimately includes Israel. Honestly, we would not want it any other way. It is a great comfort to know that when God chooses, He continues to choose and pursue. To be “called according to His purpose,” is our rock.
Verse 12 - God is always about ‘over flowing giving’ over and above our expectations, and redeeming situations in such a way that they shout, “Glory to God.” He is taking the stumbling of Israel and turning it into salvation for the gentiles. Wow. Imagine what He will do when He causes Israel to turn to Him again!
Verse 13,14 - I want you gentiles to really get this, because as you live and love God, Israel will see that and say, “Hey that is ours, we want that again.”
Verse 15 - “Life from the dead”, the resurrection of the last day. Same day as Jewish conversion of the nation as a whole. Daniel 12:1,2 Zech. 13:8,9
8 “It will come about in all the land,” Declares the LORD,
“That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it.
9 “And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name,
And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’
And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”

Life from the dead, one of the most prevalent themes in scripture
Isaac from Abraham and Sarah
Samuel from Hannah
Honey from Samson’s lion carcass
The nation of Israel, this is really the only reason why Jesus could say to Nicodemus that he should know “you must be born again.” The nation had many prophecies about it, the individual had a few about hearts of stone being made new, but there were more about the nation rising from the ashes.
The old woman’s son Elijah
The widow’s son Elisha
Ezekiel’s dry bones
The widow’s son Jesus
Lazarus Jesus

Verse 16 - GRACE and only grace refers to a people as ‘holy’ when they are not. It sees the ultimate purpose of God, being fulfilled. It sees the people as “set apart” by God for a purpose that will not be overcome. It sees an ‘everlasting covenant’ made and kept by God.
Jeremiah 24:5-7.
Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. 6 I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not uproot them. 7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
Verse 17,18 - Here is where a true deep understanding of grace will show up in the life of a person. If you can look at someone else’s life and say, “Well I would never do that...” “They are so bad, there is no hope for them...” “He is getting what he deserves, and I’m glad...” You do not know grace. The fact that Israel is broken off, and that we are grafted in is all God. “From Him, through Him and to Him are all things.” Grace at its most true root, is a pride-killing machine. If you are saying ANYTHING about the branches that were broken off, that implies you are better than them, you have fallen from grace. Galatians 5:4 “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” If you are secretly thinking or relying on ANY goodness inside of you as the source of your being right with God, Paul says, you are not ‘just a little bit wrong’ no, he says, “you have fallen from grace.” Some very famous people have fallen short of this command, “do not be arrogant toward the branches.” Martin Luther was one of them, the anti-semitic tone in some of his writings, was twisted and used by the Nazi’s.
Amazing how when you open a door just a ‘crack’ all sorts of evil can rush in. (stop and pray)
“Oh God, help us to stick to the simple truth of your word as we study Your Bible. Keep us, by Your Grace, without You and Your Mercy, we will fall.”

Verse 19,20,21 - ‘You stand’ indeed you do, but not by anything in yourself, but by faith in what God did. That is the only ground of standing, and in the purpose of God, they were removed from that ground and you were planted, but be very aware that what you have gained is a gift, and the thought that you ‘earned’ the gift can and will and should drop you out of and cut you off from the tree, ‘without prejudice’ the same as it did to them.
Verse 22 - The most amazing, practical command we have been given to save us from turning to sin. “Behold,” look, focus on, consider, not just the kindness, but the severity of God. You need both sides of the coin. Both sides are real and have real consequences. Both sides are necessary if you are to have a true view of God. A true understanding of God requires embracing His severity as good, and just, and right. The balance of the two, leads to a productive life for Jesus. The leaning in either direction and the putting more weight in either direction, leads us down all sorts of wrong paths, either too harsh or the much more common sin these days, way, way, way, too lenient. “God is love and He would never send anyone to hell,” is a prime example of this type of thinking. Severity is necessary for heaven to be a place of perfection. Severity, and justice, at a deep level, we cry out for it, but in the back of our mind is, “but I want mercy for my sins.” It is in fact, in our looking at the severity of God, truly contemplating it, that we come to a real, true, deep appreciation for the kindness of God. God does not choose to use the words “cut off” very often and we should take them seriously.
Piper thoughts: Philippians 2:12 Fear is a part of our salvation. mercy/wrath salvation/judgment Look at the kindness AND severity of God. Exodus 34:6 Matt. 10:28 Neh. 1:11 Isaiah 11:3
Three times in this section arrogant, pride, conceit are mentioned.
Fear keeps us from looking at His love, with lightness, triviality, or silliness.
From my own life is an example of “fear" balancing and strengthening love.
Laura was divorced by her first husband. The divorce was the result of leaving Laura for another woman. When I married Laura, I was very aware that God deeply loved her and was not going to allow her to be hurt in that way again. I knew that divorce was not an option and that God was the ‘enforcer,’ in this situation. So behind the love that we share, is a “you had better never go there.”
One last thought on this verse Psalm 36:1 “Transgression speaks to the ungodly within [a]his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes.” So, because there is no fear of God, transgression/sin is in charge of his decisions and his life.

Verse 23 - “God is able” that is such hope-giving, despair destroying word. (prayer) Lord, we receive the truth of this word, when we look out at any un-believing people that we know or will meet. “God is able,” hang it as a banner over our lives. Put it always before our eyes, so that it is all that we can see. Thank you Lord.

Matt. 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 10 The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Ezekiel 11:19
And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
Ezekiel 36:26
Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
God has chosen to take our hearts of stone and make us His children, and He can and will do the same with Israel.

Verse 24 - Ok quiz time, we have been studying Romans for a while now, “much more,” is a phrase that Paul has used before, remember where? The main spot was in Chapter 5 where the ‘much more’ was regarding the Life of Jesus and how it so overwhelmed the death that Adam brought in to the world. So in the same way that the life of Jesus was so much more than the death of Adam, it is ‘much more’ simple and believable to graft a natural branch into a natural tree. When it happens all of their history as a people, all the struggles, all the laws, all the festivals will make sense. All the types and shadows will be seen as the God-glorifying ‘lessons’ they were intended to be.
Zechariah 12:9 And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
10 “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

2Kings 19:20-28 is an example of God’s (unseen) controlling hand of a gentile king and his army.
20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah saying, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard you.’ 21 This is the word that the LORD has spoken against him:
‘She has despised you and mocked you,
The virgin daughter of Zion;
She has shaken her head behind you,
The daughter of Jerusalem!
22 ‘Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?
And against whom have you raised your voice,
And haughtily lifted up your eyes?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
23 ‘Through your messengers you have reproached the Lord,
And you have said, “With my many chariots
I came up to the heights of the mountains,
To the remotest parts of Lebanon;
And I cut down its tall cedars and its choice cypresses.
And I entered its farthest lodging place, its thickest forest.
24 “I dug wells and drank foreign waters,
And with the sole of my feet I dried up All the rivers of Egypt.”
25 ‘Have you not heard? Long ago I did it;
From ancient times I planned it. Now I have brought it to pass,
That you should turn fortified cities into ruinous heaps.
26 ‘Therefore their inhabitants were short of strength,
They were dismayed and put to shame;
They were as the vegetation of the field and as the green herb,
As grass on the housetops is scorched before it is grown up.
27 ‘But I know your sitting down,
And your going out and your coming in,
And your raging against Me.
28 ‘Because of your raging against Me,
And because your arrogance has come up to My ears,
Therefore I will put My hook in your nose,
And My bridle in your lips,
And I will turn you back by the way which you came.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The first resurrection of the dead, POST TRIB.

Rev. 20:4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

We read Revelation 20:4-6 and see that martyrs of the Great Tribulation, overcomers of the 666 era, are given prominence as they come into the glory. They head up the parade of all the saints who belong to Christ who come up from their graves in the Resurrection, which John is clearly told is the First Resurrection. So the Resurrection of the righteous dead comes after the Great Tribulation.

1 Corin. 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this [s]perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.

1 Thes. 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Paul knew that the dead preceed the living in the rapture. The dead go up in the first resurrection, the one that comes at the end of the tribulation. Even Martha knew it when she professed at the grave of Lazarus, John 11:24 Martha said to Him, “ I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Post Tribulation rapture/resurrection

Copied most of this from a very good web site. It seems never ending to me the Biblical evidence for a Post-tribulation rapture. It seems clear that the church should be being taught to prepare for the worst.
When the Bible speaks in 1Cor. 15:51,52 of the Resurrection of those who are Christ's at His coming we are talking here about a specific day and a point in time. This will be a blockbuster day! The graves will open up! The sea will give up its righteous dead. Dear saints, this will be a real event! And it will happen on a real and specific future day in history.
And where in the latter days might "that day" be placed? Four times Jesus tells us that He will "raise" His people "up". And He also tells us precisely when He will do that. He says that He will raise His people up at the "last day". (John 6:39,40,44,54)
We know from 1Thes. 4:15-17 and 1Cor. 15:51 that the Rapture of the living is Biblically welded to the Resurrection of the dead in Christ.  1 Cor. 15:52 speaks of the LAST trumpet as being the time of the rapture, how many trumpets are after the last one???  The trumpet judgments are mentioned in Revelation.  Paul wrote 2 Thes. to clear up the timing of the rapture.  In 2 Thes. 2:3,4 Paul makes it clear that the anti-Christ must come first.
So if the Resurrection comes at the last day of this age then we can say this with 100% assurance.
The combined Resurrection-Rapture will come at the "last day" too.
This is just one of many instances where the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine flies in the face of the clear Word of God.

In Matthew 24 Jesus is answering the disciples questions about the end times. In Matthew 25 the parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus has gathered the ‘nations’ to judge them based on how they treated the Jewish people in the end times. There are many ways to interpret this parable, but the use of the word ‘nations’ and Jesus referring to the needy ones as 'brothers of mine’ makes this view valid.
Scriptures that reveal, "servants" helping and 'co-enduring' in the end times. And scriptures that speak of 'continuing' to serve God faithfully in the midst of tribulation.
Psalm 102:12-17, Romans 10:14-17, Isaiah 62, Amos 9:8-11, Deut. 32:21, Isaiah 28:9-22, Rev. 12:11, Isaiah 35:4,5, Rev. 7:9-14, Rev. 12:6, Jeremiah 4:19-21. That last one is Jeremiah expressing deep anguish over what has been revealed to him that his people are soon to walk through. Revelation and Daniel and Matt. 24 nd others clearly reveals the severity of the trial of the end times on the Jewish people. Surely, the church is not going to be 'less than' Jeremiah, not anguishing, or sticking around to be a witness, but content to be escorted off the scene, to a place of contentment and joy.
All that to say, I see it both in the scripture, and as a scriptural principle, that tribulation, is both necessary and good for the Body of Christ. A major purpose of the Church is to finish the race, and to provoke Israel to jealousy. The idea that we are special, and so must be spared from tribulation, is a "good times American gospel", that would fall flat on its face in other nations, where persecution is a daily occurrence.