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AUGUST 2014

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The Lord is the Supreme Accountant!

 

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

 

Accountability

Accountability is taught throughout the Bible.  Christians are going to give account of their faithfulness at the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12).  Elders are going to give account of their stewardship (Hebrews 13:17).  The unsaved are going to give account at the Great White Throne mentioned in Revelation 20.  Having been involved in teaching and practicing the discipline of accounting for many years, I know that the record keeping of many companies leaves something to be desired.  However, the Lord’s record keeping is accurate.  He doesn’t manipulate the books, and we will all get a chance to face the Lord and His records someday.

 

The Kinds of Records that the Lord Keeps

Mark 8:36 analyzes our lives through the lens of an income statement.  The passage tells us that if we get everything this world has to offer but the cost of that “revenue” is to lose our souls, then our bottom line is red.  In Daniel 5:27, Belshazzar’s life was analyzed as a balance sheet.  He was weighed in the balances and found wanting, that is, the liabilities were greater than the assets.  Belshazzar was bankrupt.  The Lord also makes projections.  John 3:36 tells us of the eternal destiny of the believer and the eternal destiny of the unbeliever.  The Lord tells us to count costs.   He has the ability to credit benefits to our account for which we have not paid.  The Lord is also an auditor.  This passage in Revelation sees the Lord as an auditor who is reviewing the lives of those standing at the Great White Throne.

 

God’s Audit is a Righteous Audit

The passage says that the books were opened.  That means that the Lord is a bookkeeper and has been keeping records.  What books are opened?  For one, I believe the Bible will be opened.  People who won’t read it now will get a chance to see what it says then.  The book of life is opened.  This is the place where the names of everyone who has trusted Christ and who has become a child of God is found.  I believe that a record of the sins of unbelievers will also be opened at the Great White Throne.

 

I do not see those who have believed in this present day of grace at this judgment. They have already been raised at the resurrection of life and have lived and reigned with Christ throughout the 1000 year reign of Christ. On them the second death has no power (Revelation 20:6).  Their sins have been blotted out (Acts 3:19).  The ones being audited here are those who are raised at the end of time as we know it in order to be held accountable for their works.  This will include all the people who thought that their good works would get them into heaven as well as all those who rebelled against the righteous standards of God and who thought that they would never be held accountable. 

 

When the books are opened, those standing here will have to face the fact that their sins were never “blotted out” as they are for a believer.  They will have to face the fact that Romans 3:23 says all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  They will find out that their names are not in the book of life.  They will find out too late that God was willing to declare them righteous but they wouldn’t believe on the Lord Jesus so that God could do that.  All of these will have to admit that getting to heaven “their way” didn’t work.  There is only one way to heaven and that is by the way of the cross.

 

How do I want to be Judged?  How do You want to be Judged?

It appears to me in reading the Bible that all who want to get to heaven by their own works will fail.  But all who are going to heaven because of the work of Calvary will succeed.  While it is true that Christians, who have their entry into heaven sealed by the work of the Lord at the cross, should have a conscience about sin and should do good works; they also know that no one (apart from the Lord) was ever good enough to get into heaven by their good works. 

 

So how do you want to be judged at your audit?  

 

Meditation for the week of August 3, 2014

The Time is Near or Ready

Revelation 1:1-3 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

The Race is Run Quickly

I have been interested in the Kentucky Derby the last few years.  If you watch it on television, there is a lot of pageantry leading up to the race.  Horses are analyzed.  In addition, we hear about their owners and jockeys.  Some people even bet on the outcome.  It is an all afternoon affair for those who go to see the horses run.  For me, it seems like it takes forever to get the horses to the starting gates; but once those horses are there, all the preparation time is over.  The horses are ready to run.  And when they run, they finish the race quickly.  The race is over in about two minutes.   I think this is a crude illustration of what the Lord is trying to tell us in Revelation 1: 1-3. 

 The Book of the Revelation is not the revelation of end time events so much as it is the revelation of Jesus Christ.  It is the rest of the story. The cross wasn’t the end of the story. The Lord’s resurrection and ascension to heaven followed.  But the resurrection and ascension weren’t the end of the story.  The Lord left his disciples with the promise that He would come again.  In this book, He has given John the Apostle the rest of the story which has to do with that second coming.  John has been told that these things must shortly take place.  That doesn’t mean that these things will happen immediately after this revelation is given; but that when they happen, the events will happen quickly.  The Kentucky Derby is run in two minutes after a lot of preparation and pageantry.  Once the Lord sets the events in motion that are described in chapters 6-19, they will take place quickly.  It has been two thousand years since the promise of the Lord’s return has been given; but once the starting gun is fired, these events will take place in seven literal years of 360 day years.   Then the Lord will set up a righteous kingdom that will last a literal one thousand years. 

The Events Have been “Ready” for Years!

The Kentucky Derby is not ready to be run until the horses are in the starting gates.  But in a sense the horses have been waiting in the starting gates for years if we let the race represent the things that happen once the Lord gives the command to start the race.  The Lord says the time is near.  He really means that the time is ready.  Nothing has to take place for the Lord to start this “race.”  

 Now some might argue that Peter had to be crucified since that had been predicted and that the temple had to be destroyed since the Lord had said that would happen.  But if scholars know what they are talking about, the book of the Revelation was written after those things had taken place.  However, Daniel 9 indicates that an unbelieving nation of Israel will be willing to sign a covenant with a world leader who offers the nation false peace.  Signing this covenant starts the seven years predicted in Daniel 9.  And while it is true that there was not a nation of Israel until 1948, I believe that the Lord could have established the nation overnight if he had wanted to over the last two thousand years.  Remember how fast the Soviet Union disintegrated and the Berlin wall fell?  We are told to be always ready because the events are “at hand”, “near,” or ready to happen.

Why is the Lord Waiting?

So why has the Lord not fired the starting gun?  Because He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (and thus to faith).  See 2nd Peter 3:9.  It is because of the Lord’s mercy and longsuffering that this race has not been set in motion.  People who have rejected the Lord in this period of grace when the Gospel is being preached will not be saved after the Lord comes.  They will believe a great deceiver because they wouldn’t believe the Lord.  See 2 Thessalonians 2: 9-12.  It is because the Lord wants to save one more person that the starting gun has not yet been fired.

This race will not be started until present believers are caught up to heaven. They are to be saved from the “wrath to come.”  Because the time for end time events is “at hand” or “ready”, that must happen just before or at the same time that the peace treaty is signed.  But the skeptics and rebellious and the unbelievers of this day of grace are going to experience wars and famines and natural disasters that will exceed anything this world has seen.  There will be no escape once the starting gun is fired.

Meditation for the week of August 10, 2014

A Matter of Integrity!

 

John 16:13  “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

 

Divine Inspiration and Divine Interpretation

The Scriptures are God breathed according to Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16.  2 Peter 1:21 says that prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Prophecy here would involve speaking for God in any capacity, not just predicting the future.  Because the original manuscripts were not written in English, interpretation of the original languages of the Old Testament and New Testament can become difficult.  Nevertheless, the Bible is clear that the Holy Spirit that inspired the texts is the same Holy Spirit that will enable us to interpret the texts. 

 

Some Principles of Interpretation

To properly understand the Bible we have to want to understand the Bible.  We can’t come to the Bible with a desire to prove a pet theory or to find something “new” that has never been found before.  Finding fresh truth is different from finding new truth. To properly understand the Bible we have to be “born again” or “saved”.  When we trust the Lord, the Holy Spirit seals us.  Until that moment, we did not have the ability to be guided by the Holy Spirit.  He influenced our lives but He did not guide our lives or our thinking. To properly understand the Bible we have to know the difference between God’s earthly people, the Jews; and God’s spiritual people, the church.  They are different and must not be confused.  Of course to properly understand any author you have to read the whole manuscript and interpret things in context.  I usually start out with one verse that I want think about in these meditations, but anyone who is wise will pick up their Bibles and read the whole chapter.   If you haven’t done it recently, you should read the whole book that the quote comes from.  The Holy Spirit will need to convince you that the passage is being interpreted in the context of God’s progressive revelation of Himself and in the context of His plans for mankind.

 

My Rant

Recently I was given a pamphlet called “God’s Way of Salvation.”  It was a copy of a rather lengthy tract that had helped me come to saving faith in the Lord.  I was assured that the tract was “unabridged” however because of my interest in that tract, I think I have a pretty complete original manuscript of it on my website.  The tract I was given was abridged.  I have picked up copies of this tract that do not even have some of the text that was helpful to me.  I keep asking myself, what right do we have to take a manuscript that has been mightily used of God and change it in anyway?  We of course might want to comment on it in our own comments when reprinting it but the manuscript was written by Alexander Marshall and has his name on it.  It is presumptuous to think that abridging it as a cost cutting measure or to make it simpler to read or to make it quicker to read is our right.  I would not have a problem if Mr. Marshall were still around to approve the changes, but he is not.  To me, it is a matter of integrity.  We should either reprint what Alexander Marshall wrote, or we should not reprint it at all. 

 

I have had the same thing happen to me on two occasions with regard to manuscripts that I have submitted to two different magazines.  Editors have revised what I said assuming that I had made a mistake without checking with me.  And now there are articles circulating with my name on them that do not say what I believe.  These meditations have been revised on occasion by those receiving them and have been sent on under my name.  These things should not be done.  It is a matter of integrity.

 

My Question

Are we doing this same thing with the Bible?  I can accept the fact that the original King James Version has become hard for our current crop of young people to read.  Revisions were helpful.  However, now there are so many versions and revisions that I can find one that will support almost any doctrine I want to “push.” However, I can’t worry too much about context or about that still small voice that upsets me in the pit of my stomach when I read some of these revisions.  At one time, good editors and Bible scholars tried to add explanatory footnotes to the standard translations.  That helped us know what was Scripture and what was opinion.  But now we have so called translations that seem to be taking the approach that they need to explain what God really meant.  We need to be careful that we don’t put words in God’s mouth, because He put His words in His prophet’s mouths.  We don’t have a right to try to do the work of the Holy Spirit in interpreting Scripture.  I am convinced that a simple person who is saved can understand what the Lord said and we don’t need people explaining to us what “He really meant.”  There just aren’t that many ways to interpret John 3:16.  

Meditation for the week of August 17, 2014

Always Number Two

 

John 3:30  “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

 

Introduction

 

John the Baptist is an interesting study.  I have wondered if I would have been happy to have had his calling on my life.  How would I have liked to be the one to point out the sin of the nation of Israel?  How would I have liked to be the one who was going to announce the coming of the Messiah, but who was always going to be number two in terms of importance?  How would I have liked doing my best to prepare the nation for their coming King only to fail?   How would I have liked my own faithfulness to be rewarded with a jail cell and ultimately a beheading because I called the wrong person a sinner?  This was the portion of John the Baptist.

 

John’s Prophetic Privileges

John was named by the angel Gabriel before he was born.  He was six months older than the Lord Jesus.  We find that he was to be the voice of one crying in the wilderness which tends to make me believe that his words were wasted on people that were not listening for the most part (Mark1:1-3).  According to the Lord, he fulfilled the prophecy that Elijah must come to prepare the people for the Lord’s coming (Matthew 17:10-13).  This shows me that there is figurative language that must be considered in a literal reading of the Bible, and it also shows me that there may be more than one fulfillment of many prophecies.  John had the privilege of baptizing the Lord and seeing the Holy Spirit anoint Him for His earthly ministry.

 

Filled with the Spirit

In Luke 1:15 we read, “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.”  Some have told me that they do not need to be born again because they were saved like John the Baptist who they think was saved by his first birth based on this passage.  We must interpret the Bible in its context, and the Bible says that once Adam sinned, death passed on ALL men because All have sinned (Romans 5:12).  The Bible is clear that unless we are born again we will never enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:3).  So I believe John the Baptist had to come to grips with his own sin and trust in Christ just like everyone of us.  So what does this passage mean?

 

God puts each one of us on this earth for a purpose.  John’s purpose was to be a Nazarite (See Numbers 6:1-21).  He was to be set apart from his mother’s womb for a special purpose of God.  This has to do with service and not with salvation.  In Judges 13:5, Samson was also a Nazarite from His mother’s womb.  He was not a very faithful Nazarite and may not have come to faith in Jehovah until he lost his eyes playing with sin.  In John the Baptist’s case his life was controlled by the Holy Spirit so that he could fulfill his prophetic ministry.

 

His Doubts

So, can one who was called of God, named by God, controlled by God and used by God have doubts about His ministry?  In Matthew 11:3 John the Baptist is in prison and he sends his disciples to find out if he really had announced the right King. “Art thou He that should come or do we look for another?”  I suspect that he wondered why he was being left in prison since the Lord was related to him and since he had been faithful to the Lord. Perhaps he had forgotten that he had said that the Lord must increase while he must decrease.  Nevertheless he had honest doubts.  And the way the Lord reassured him was to show him the things that the Lord was doing.  The King James Version says that He showed John “again.”  This is one of the reasons why I believe that Christians need to hear the sweet strains of the “how to be saved” Gospel over and over after they are saved.  The Gospel that saved us is the Gospel that keeps us and it is the Gospel that restores us when our hearts grow cold.

 

Faithful to the End

John the Baptist was faithful to the end.  His end was to lose his head because he was faithful and because of a wicked queen at a drunken birthday party.  I am glad that I am not called to be a prominent prophet, but I am just called to be faithful in my little corner of the world.  I am glad that I likely will never have to lose my head over my faithfulness to the Lord even though I may have to lose friends.   And should I have doubts, I just need to go back to Scripture to be reminded “again” of the things that the Lord has promised and done. 

 

Meditation for the week of August 24, 2014

To Whom am I Listening?

 1 Peter 5:8  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

 The Adversary

An adversary is an opponent, an enemy, a foe, one who resists.  Satan is the adversary of the Lord and he is the adversary of every person born into this world. He is also an adversary of everyone who has set aside their own ambitions and pride and has trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 The Problem

The devil or Satan does not always appear to be the enemy.  When he appeared to Eve in the Garden of Eden he came as a deceitful cunning snake.  Absalom, David’s son who tried to usurp the thrown seems to be a picture of Satan as an adversary.  He was cunning and beautiful and knew just how to win the loyalty of the people of Israel.  2 Samuel 15:5 says, “And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.”  It seems to me that Satan and people that he uses first use flattery, then they use lies, then they confront.  Satan wants to take the place in the heart of the people of God that only the Lord should have.  Then he will ultimately do his best to destroy their confidence in the Lord.  While Satan will never be able to destroy a Christian eternally, he can certainly destroy their confidence and peace while they are sojourning here on earth.

 The Contrast

Satan often appears as a “messenger or angel of light”.  In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, Paul warns Christians against false apostles and deceitful workers.  He says, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”   Satan tries to convince us that his lies make more logical sense that the Lord’s Truth.

 Satan makes sure that the Lord appears to be an imposter.  The Old Testament says that the Lord didn’t come looking like He had the regal beauty of a King (Isaiah 53:2).  He was not and is not popular.  His solutions to the world’s problems are not the solutions that are attractive to the world.   Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:3, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.”  The Lord just thinks differently than the world thinks (See Isaiah 55:8-9).   And that is why it is so hard to trust Him when things in life seem to be so topsy turvy. 

 The Solution

Satan is the opponent or adversary.  But we who are saved have the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit and the Word of God always work together directing our attention and affection to the Lord Jesus.  This passage says that we resist our adversary “in the faith.”  That is we resist him by being confident in the things that we believe.  We don’t have to have stronger faith, but instead we have to know the truth that gives us confidence.  The more truth we know the more we will be able to resist our adversary.

 The Truth

Our passage says that the Lord does care concerning us.  Let's not let circumstances cause doubts concerning that truth.

 Romans 8:31:  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

 1 Corinthians 15:57:  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

 The Question

Satan can be attractive and cunning and logical.  But his teaching is ultimately destructive.  The Lord is not physically attractive, his teaching often does not make logical sense, but He wants to save us and preserve us so that we glorify Him both now and in eternity  To whom are we listening?

Meditation for the week of August 31, 2014