1 Corinthians 10:13 gives us a great promise: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Everything we face in life is “common to man;” the details will be different, but the core “temptations” are the same. God, in His faithfulness, will make a “way of escape;” it’s a way to “be able to bear it.” When trials and temptations come we need to make sure we are seeking Him for His wisdom. Then we will handle things His way and we’ll be able to stand up to what life brings us. We can’t go through life haphazardly and then blame God for the mess we get into and for the mistakes we make. If you are in a mess today because of bad choices, God is merciful and will save the one who calls on Him for help and wants to do things His way.
In chapter 5, Paul addresses a situation where a man is living in continued sexual immorality. He is shocked that that the church is continuing on like nothing is happening. He tells them to yield this person over to Satan; in other words, to dismiss this person from the church in hopes that they will repent. When a person is living in sin, we shouldn’t pray that they would be blessed, happy and comfortable. When someone refuses to repent and are continuing to willfully walk in sin, we hope that dismissal from church fellowship eventually brings them back to Christ. He clarifies this point more in verse 11 by saying, “I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.” This is righteous judgment that the church should participate in; judgment out of love and not pride.
Often Christians seem to focus on the same things the world does. They may not be wrong things, and they are things that should be pursued with God’s wisdom, but let’s remember that this life is a vapor that is passing away. Paul says to the church in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 “…the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.” It’s foolish to focus all our attention on decisions that only affect the few years we are a part of this age and not focus on the decisions that affect eternity. If our priority is on only having a happy marriage and the “American dream,” we will be deceived.
God in His wisdom made it impossible for man to reach Him in their own pursuit of wisdom. 1 Corinthians 1:21 says, “since in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” All of us that come to Christ are forced to humble ourselves and put our faith in the cross of Christ alone; we didn’t come to God by attaining wisdom and special knowledge. New Age and many other religions acknowledge Christ, but it’s not the true Christ since they don’t come to Him by the cross alone. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” The Gospel is so beautiful; I had no power to save myself, and I had nothing to even contribute in the process; God did it all by sending Jesus Christ His Son. In every religion, people try to achieve something through their works and wisdom, but in Christ, we must come to the end ourselves and say “I can do nothing to save myself, but I will believe in the complete and fulfilled work of Christ.”
When studying eschatology (end time events) it is especially important to dig into the word of God and truly find out why you believe what you believe. Many people are quick to believe things because their favorite preacher believes something… that can be presumptuous and foolish. Proverbs 18:17 says, “The first one to plead his cause seems right, Until his neighbor comes and examines him.” If you have prejudges against anybody who believes differently than you do and you don’t take the time to listen to different viewpoints, you may just believe assumptions. Real truth can bear up under scrutiny. Even if you don’t change your mind after scrutinizing the truth and looking at different viewpoints, the process of searching will cause the truth to be strengthened within yourself.
Now let me say, the book of Revelations was written for you to understand; It was originally written to seven churches in Asia (See Rev. 1:11). It was written to simple people that were not highly educated; Holy Spirit will teach you as you meditate the Word of God.
In chapter 6, the Lord Jesus Christ opens the seals upon the scroll. When the first seal is opened, a white horse goes forth and its rider is the antichrist (the beast); this is the beginning of the great tribulation when restraint is lifted (See 2 Thess. 2:6-7). Below is a question and answer from “100 Most Frequently Asked Questions about the End Times” from the International House of Prayer on the subject of the white horse.
How do you know the horseman of the first seal judgment is the Antichrist?
The rider of the white horse has a crown (political prominence, Rev. 13:1-2, 7), a bow (military authority), and he is a successful conqueror. The nations have been enjoying a counterfeit worldwide peace (1 Thes. 5:3). This will end after the opening of the first seal, the fall of Babylon and the abomination of desolation. The color white symbolizes righteousness because his reign initially appears righteous. He is the counterfeit to Jesus who rides a white horse with truth (Rev. 19:11). It would be out of place to say the rider of this white horse is Jesus when the other three horses have negative judgment events that involve sinful actions of men. Jesus is gloriously pictured in Revelation in splendor in three places (Rev. 1:12-18;14:14-16; 19:11-16). There are significant differences between the white horse riders in Revelation 6:2 and Revelation 19:11-16.
Chapter seven is a parenthetical section of the book of Revelations. It puts a “pause” on the storyline to explain key points. Chapter seven tells how the great tribulation in the earth is not allowed to happen till the servants of God are “sealed.” It isn’t just 144,000 Israelites that are sealed, but “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues” (See Rev. 7:9). In chapter 9, verses 3 & 4 we see how those who are sealed are not allowed to be harmed by the judgments of God. The verses say, “Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” (Also see Ezekiel 9:3-5).
In chapter 8 we see the opening of the 7th seal on the scroll. The opening of the 7th seal is the seven trumpet judgments released by the “prayers of all the saints” (See Rev 8:3).
Revelation 9:20-21 gives a glimpse of the darkness and depth of wickedness on the earth during the tribulation and judgments. The verses say, “But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”
Chapters 9 and 10 are both part of a parenthetical section of the book of Revelations. I encourage you to eat the book and speak of the things that are coming (See Revelations 10: 10-11).
I noticed something about Apollos as I read through this today. In Acts 18:25 it says “he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.” Then we read that Aquila and Priscilla heard him and explained the way of God “more accurately” to him. Apollos went from teaching “accurately” to “more accurately.” What does this mean? What he taught before meeting Aquila and Priscilla was true but it was lacking many important things; Aquila and Priscilla were able to give him a more complete view of God’s plan and purposes. So, maybe what we know of God is accurate, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be “more accurate.”
Acts 19 records one of the biggest (maybe the biggest) revivals and moves of God seen through Paul’s ministry. Paul called it a “great and effective door” but with “many adversaries” in 1 Corinthians 16:9. In Acts 19:9-10 it says that Paul was, “reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” How do you preach in one school for two years and cause the gospel to reach everyone in the whole region? The answer is one word: “discipleship.” Paul’s wasn’t trying to get everyone in the region to come to his “training course” at the school. He was training disciples that would take the gospel to the region and they did. Are we making disciples in our churches or just members? We are to multiply not just be added to. Think on this for a moment.
The Gospel should go out into the world with two confirmations: 1) It should be preached with the power of the Holy Spirit, and 2) The world should see people whose character has been changed by God. In 1 Thessalonians 1:5 Paul says, “our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.” The first assurance the Thessalonians had that the Gospel was true was the signs done by the power of the Holy Spirit, then they saw that the lives of Paul and Silas were motivated by love and not selfishness.
We see a good example of what discipleship should be in the first chapter. In 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8 Paul says to them, “You became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.” By following Paul’s example of enduring persecution, they followed the Lord’s example left to us. Also, because the church endured persecution, they “became examples” to the other churches in the region. What a powerful example of being an example! The example went from Paul to the church of Thessalonica, then to other churches.
Paul reminds the church in 1 Thessalonians 3:3 that they are “appointed” to afflictions. Don’t let difficult times and persecution cause you to grow faint; let difficulties cause your faith to grow stronger.
Paul talks about the rapture in chapter 4; he says those that are alive at the return of Jesus will be “caught up …to meet the Lord in the air.” I don’t know why people would infer that the rapture is a secret event to the rest of the world; verse 16 says, “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.” It sounds like the rapture will be most not secretive event ever. Jesus does not take us back to heaven at the rapture; if He did, why would He bring with Him the saints that have died (“sleep in Jesus”). The scripture says we are gathered to Jesus in the air, but it doesn't say He is taking us away to heaven.
Feel free to post questions or comments on this subject or anything else!
The apostle Paul was not an eye witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ but he spoke about the resurrection as proof of what he preached. He said to those in Athens in Acts 17:30-31, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." God gave us “assurance” by the resurrection that Jesus Christ will come again and rule.
Trying to live right in our own self will never work; the only way to truly live right in God’s eyes is to live out of our new born again spirit. Galatians 5:16 says, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Putting confidence in our own will power to walk in righteousness won’t produce true righteousness. As a believer learns to put their trust in God, then they can deny the flesh, then the fruits of the spirit will be seen in their life. Galatians 6:8 says, “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” When we are born again (in Christ), we will still need to abstain from ungodly desires of the flesh, but now we can do it because we are new creations with a new nature. Trust God… trust that a “crucified” life is best, and trust that walking in His love is always best and you’ll find yourself walking in the spirit instead of the flesh.
PS. make sure to watch the video from yesterday.
Paul pulls no punches as he writes this letter to the “churches of Galatia.” In Galatians 1:6, he says, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.” There can be differing of opinion on many different things in the body of Christ, but teachers had come in preaching a “different gospel;” it was leading them away from saving faith in Jesus Christ. Paul makes it clear in Galatians 2:16: “we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” The people began their journey by seeking to be forgiven of their sins by faith in Jesus Christ, then they went on by seeking to keep their righteousness by keeping the Law; this was dangerous and leading them away from the true faith. It caused Paul to say in Galatians 5:4, “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” And he encouraged them Galatians 2:21 by saying, “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
Below is Dr. Michael Brown talking about how the Law (the Torah) corresponds to a believers life today. The first one (on left) is a clip and the second (on right) is the entire interview. The video is very informative!
People were coming to Christ and the churches were progressing when “certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved"” (Acts 15:1). If this was true it meant that righteousness could be attained by the Law instead of by Christ alone; therefore “Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them” (verse 2). When Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles and elders they found out where the problem was coming from. Acts 15:5 says “some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses." Pharisees were getting saved; this in itself was great! These Pharisees were bringing their love for rituals and righteous by the Law into the church; this was not great. Being born again is a wonderful thing, but we must go on and be transformed in our thinking. These differing opinions caused the apostles and elders to seek the heart of God in this matter, and they were able to deliver these truths to the Gentile churches. Acts 15:28 records that they wrote these words: “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things…” I love that; the wisdom of the Holy Spirit (what seemed good to Him), He deposited into the heart of the apostles and elders! Holy Spirit gave the churches a few laws they should abide by to come out of their pagan ways, but circumcision was a sign of faith in the old covenant so was not necessary for salvation.
Read through the Bible with us in 2012! The reading plan can be downloaded below; we are reading in chronological order. Check back often to read the blog posts on the Bible readings and discuss things in the "comments" section.
2012 Bible Plan