Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hardshell Failure at Apologetics

At one of the oldest of "Primitive Baptist" web sites, there is given "A Listing of Public Debates in which Primitive Baptist Ministers Have Participated" (SEE HERE). Then we have this commentary about the history of Hardshells as regards religious debates.

"During the nineteenth century, religious discussions in the form of public debates, between some of the leading advocates and representative men of several religious denominations, were frequently held. In almost all cases, the Primitive Baptists were challenged by others to participate in these debates, rather than challenging others. The religious body which most often challenged our people was the "Campbellites," as they have been of a disposition to want to debate, probably due to their founder, Alexander Campbell, having set that example. Such discussions were much less frequent during the twentieth century, at least as far as the Primitive Baptists are concerned. Religious debates are still being held by other denominations, but we seldom hear about them, and relatively few of our present ministry have engaged in them. However, as our beliefs have not changed, we have republished several of these old debates (see our lists of books and microfilms for sale)."

There are several things that I would call into question in response to what is here stated. First, how many of those nineteenth century debates were the result of being challenged, versus those where the Hardshells challenged, is not known. The Hardshell (Webb?) who wrote these words wants us to believe that it is not apropo for ministers to challenge others to debate or discuss. He must think this is more in line with what the Scriptures teach, yet I find it teaching just the opposite.

Second, it is also doubtful that challenges to debate came primarily from the "Campbellites." Many sovereign grace Mission Baptists also challenged the Hardshells to debate. But, it seems the debates with the Mission Baptists did not get so much attention and were not selected for either participation or publication, as did the ones with the "Campbellites." The reason for this is obvious to me. The debates with the Baptists, especially towards the end of the nineteenth century, found the Hardshells losing badly in debates with Calvinistic Missionary Baptists, more so than with the "Campbellites." Of course, such debates did not get "republished" by the Hardshells as time went on, but were buried in oblivion.

Third, this Hardshell (who is giving an 'apology' for Hardshell debating) has to confess that some of the Hardshell leading debaters did challenge others. So, what does this say of this Hardshell's insinuation that challenging others to debate is not apropo? One wonders, in reading this apology, whether this Hardshell is proud of the debate history or not. He seems to be of the opinion that debating is wrong, thinking that the amount of debating is a reflection of the health of the church and ministry, yet he wants to find justification for its prevalence among his nineteenth century forefathers. In other words, debating with others was good for Hardshell leaders of the nineteenth century, but is no good for ministers in the twentieth, or now, twenty first century.

In my own mind, this difference between neo Hardshells and the first Hardshells shows one generation to be superior to the other. But, which? To many Hardshells today, the practice of not debating or discussing is a sign of better health, revealing how today's Hardshells are superior to their forefathers. Of course, I would interpret this differently, seeing present day Hardshells as inferior to their debating forefathers.

The article continues:

"Debates were held from the earliest pioneer days. Elder Wilson Thompson chronicles his participation in debates in his autobiography. Elder Daniel Parker debated the Methodist champion, Frank King, in Tennessee, before coming to Illinois, and here he met the leading mission advocate, John Mason Peck. As shown below Elder R. M. Newport and Elder Joel Hume participated in debates at a very early date. There were many others whose names we do not have at hand. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, Elders Lemuel Potter, George Y. Stipp, T. S. Dalton, John R. Daily, and others, were often called upon to defend the cause of truth in this way, in the midwest."

From these words, one would think that the debaters named were such men that today's Hardshells would gladly welcome in their pulpits were they present today. Yet, how many Hardshells know that Wilson Thompson was a Sabellian? A denier of the Trinity? A believer in "eternal vital union," a Two Seed tenet? That he wrote warm letters of fellowship to both Gilbert Beebe and Daniel Parker? That he believed in the preexistent humanity of Christ? How many know that Hume and Newport held to Two Seed tenets and fellowshipped with Parker? How many know that T.S. Dalton preached the gospel means view before he changed his mind upon the death of Elder John Clark?

The article continues:

"1873 Elder John A. Thompson (Primitive Baptist) vs. Elder Benjamin Franklin (Disciples of Christ), at Reynoldsburg, Ohio, from November 10th through 13th, 1873, on the following propositions: 1. Remission of sins as set forth in the gospel is offered to the unconverted or alien sinner on conditions in which they exercise free-will and have power to perform; 2. The quickening of the sinner by the Spirit of God into new life or eternal life is independent of the written word or Scriptures; 3. Baptism as commanded in the commission is in order to the remission of past sins; 4. The eternal salvation of Christians as set forth in the scriptures is the work of God independent of conditions to be performed by man."

I have read this debate, have it in my library (very old copy). It is one of the earliest records to show how the no means view was being promulgated. Yet, in this debate, I do not recall Elder Thompson affirming that conversion, which followed "quickening," was optional, but that which would surely be experienced by all who were quickened.

The article continues:

"1886 Elder S. F. Cayce (Primitive Baptist) vs. Eld. E. A. Land (Christian), at Enon PB Church, Perry Co., Tennessee, February 9, 1886 and several following days. Two propositions, Cayce affirmed that the Holy Spirit operates independent of the Bible in regeneration and conversion; Cayce denied that eternal salvation of sinners is conditional. Synopsis of speeches in The Primitive Baptist."

Yes, and Elder S. F. Cayce was one of the leaders in revamping the Hardshell church in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Such a proposition was never affirmed by the Hardshells of the 1830s-1850s.

One of the things about this write up on Hardshell debate history is the absence of many debates in the list. There is no mention of the debates that Mark Bennett had with Grigg Thompson in the early 1850s. Why not? I can tell you. Why is there little mention of debates held with the Missionary Baptists?

Now, I am getting old and my days of holding a week's oral debate are probably finished. In fact, in my last debate with the Campbellite Bruce Reeves, I determined and announced that I would not enter into any more debates with them. I have made my case against Campbellism in more than a dozen debates and there was no use to continue them. As far as debating with the Hardshells, let them come forward here in this blog, and we will be happy to engage them. But, unlike their forefathers, they will rather talk behind our back than to engage us face to face. The fact that we have had only one Hardshell to enter into a debate here is revealing. You can interpret for yourself what it reveals. You all know what it says to me.

My view is that the Bible commands ministers to do apologetics, that they be always ready to give a defence for their views. I do it when challenged. But, today's Hardshells will not defend their views. But, they are the superior ones, remember?

I certainly challenge this Hardshell elder to prove his assertion - "as our beliefs have not changed."

Monday, June 27, 2016

Rapture Greeting Hall


From "My Daily Bread" (SEE HERE)

Rapture Greeting Hall

"Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.." (I Thessalonians 4: 13-17 NIV)

The Greek word for "meet" occurs only four times in the New Testament and "it is used in the papyri of a newly arriving magistrate." "The special idea of the word was the official welcome of a newly arrived dignitary." (Vines N.T. Words)

The best English words to define it are "greet" or "welcome,"especially in the context of traditional welcoming and reception ceremonies. In more formal houses, both private and public, there is generally a "hall" or "foyer" or "vestibule" where arriving guests are officially, and formally, and warmly "greeted" and "welcomed."

The "foyer" or "vestibulehall is "aentranceway or transitional space from the exterior to the interior of a building."

When a guest arrives at the "door" and "knocks," a person at the house (hostopens the door and welcomes the guest, and then accompanies that guest back into the house. The Greek word does not allow for the idea that the guest is "met" or "greeted" in the foyer by the host and then the host and guest leave together to go back with the arriving guest to the place from whence the guest had previously departed, or to some other locationRather, the idea is that the guest is "met" or "greeted" and then the host accompanies the guest on the last short leg of his journey. We see this in Acts 28: 15.

"And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage." (Acts 28: 15)

The brethren who came out to "meet" Paul did not meet him with the intent of leaving with him to accompany him to where he is going, for then it would read - "we came to meet them" rather than "they came to meet us." With the mere English word "meet," one does not necessarily see this distinction. The guest who arrives at a home does not "greet" or "welcome" the host of the home, but vice versa. They both "meet" each other, but only the host "greets" or "welcomes" the arriving guest.

"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him." (Matthew 25: 1-6)

This parable of Christ is based upon the Jewish wedding ceremonies and traditions. A bride and groom, who are betrothedschedule a date for the wedding. The groom is in waiting in his house with his family and attendants. The bride is likewise in her house with her family and attendants. On the eve of the wedding day, the bride with her "maids of honoreagerly wait in her home for the coming of the groom for her. The bride does not know at what hour of the night (it was traditionally at night when the groom came to his bride) her espoused will come, so she "keeps vigil" with her virgin maids of honor, with lamps burninglooking for the first "sign" of his arrival. It is a very intense and exciting time of faithful waiting and anticipation.

When the first sign of the groom's coming is noticed by some watchman, the cry is made - "go out to welcome (meet or greet) him." Upon this announcement, the bride and her attendants will arise to go out from her house for the purpose of welcoming him and in order to accompany him the remaining way back to her house for celebration. The bride does not meet the groom and then turn around immediately and leave with him. Yes, she does eventually leave with him, from her house to his house, but not till he has gone all the way to her house; And, he is met or greeted outside the home before he goes all the way to the home of his bride.

When Christ comes, he will be welcomed and greeted by all believers who are living on earth at that time. That is one of the purposes of the "rapture" or the being "caught up (raptured) to meet (greet or welcome) the Lord in the air." The sky above becomes the grand foyer, the holy vestibule, where raptured believers rise to formally "greet" and warmly and officially "welcome" the coming King of kings.

The Greeks had several words for the air or sky and the word in the rapture passage above denotes the "lower air," not the upper atmosphere or outer space. Further, when this official greeting takes place, in this lower sky, the raptured saints do not leave with Christ to go back to Heaven, from whence he left, but leave with Christ to come the rest of the way to earthwhen "his feet shall (then) stand upon the Mount of Olives." (Zechariah 14: 4)

Friend, will you be ready for that day? Will you be as the five foolish, or as the five wise virgins? Are you "keeping vigil" for the Lord's coming? Will that day catch you unawares and unprepared? Will you be left out of the coming celebrations of the saints?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Eclectic Resurrection


From "My Daily Bread" (SEE HERE)

Eclectic Resurrection

"...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.." (Philippians 3: 10, 11 NKJV)

In the New Testament there is a great difference between what is called the "resurrection of the dead" and the "resurrection from the dead."

This difference in prepositions is not insignificant and is more clearly seen in the way the two different phrases are written and expressed in the GreekWhat is that difference?

J. R. Graves said - "In all passages which refer to the indiscriminate resurrection of the dead it is "en anastasis ton nekron," the resurrection of the dead; but when the resurrection of the righteous is alluded to, it is "ex ton nekron," the resurrection from or out of the dead. That the preposition from is never used when the resurrection of the wicked is spoken of. I refer the reader to Acts 17: 23; 23: 6; 24: 21; I Cor. 15: 12, 13, 21, 42."

"Sometimes the preposition ex is prefixed to resurrection, when referring to the resurrection of Christ and believers, but never of that of sinners."

Of the passage in Philippians 3: 11 Graves said:

"This is a conclusive passage. Paul gave as a reason why he was so willing to labor and suffer for Christ: "if by any means I may attain the resurrection out from among the dead." 

"He could not have referred to a general resurrection here, since he could not possibly escape that, but this special resurrection of the just, so as to enjoy its peculiar blessedness; for "blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection, for over such the second death hath no power," clearly implying that it will have power over all who rise in the second and last." (See this passage at the end of this lesson)

"Paul labored with his eye constantly upon this coming event-i.e., a resurrection from out of the dead-that he might be among those who had part in the "first resurrection."

Christ's Resurrection was Eclectic

"...that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from (or out from among) the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26: 23 NKJV)

"...and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from (or out from among) the dead." (Romans 1: 4 NKJV)

When Jesus was resurrected, all the dead were not resurrected with him. He therefore "came out from among" the  dead, implying, that the others were not resurrected, his resurrection being special, or eclectic or selective.

The Greek prefix "ek" or "exliterally denotes a selection or the removal of something from a group, taking some but leaving some too. For instance, I take "out from among" a barrel of apples a single apple; that selection implies that some apples in the group are not takenSuch was the resurrection of JesusSuch will be the resurrection of believerscalled the "resurrection of the just," in contrast to the "resurrection of the unjust" (Acts 24: 15 NKJV).

"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrectionBlessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him athousand years. And when the thousand years are expired...And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20: 1-7, 11-15 KJV)

"But now Christ is risen from (or out from among) the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of (no Greek preposition here, so it is different from the preceding) the dead(both just and unjust). For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own orderChrist the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His comingThen comes the endwhen He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power." (I Corinthians 15: 20-24 NKJV)

There are three separate resurrections mentioned in this passage, which three resurrections are mentioned in various Old and New Testament passages.

There is the (1) resurrection of Christ, and (2) the resurrection of those denominated as "just," and (3) the resurrection of those denominated as "unjust." We have the order, rank, and chronology of these three separate, distinct and selective resurrections; each is special and eclective.

"But each in his own order" (NKJV)
"But each in his own turn" (NIV)
"But each in his own rank" (Darby Translation)

Christ is of the "first rank" in regard to his resurrectionBelievers are of the next "order" and "rank," they constituting those who will be resurrected upon the return of Christwhen they are raised in the "first resurrection," and who are therefore the "blessed" and the "holy." Their special eclectic resurrection is next in "turn."

"Then comes the end..." End of what? Of several thingsAfter the resurrection of the justafter the 1000 year reign of Christ, the "rest of the dead," who were left in their graves when the just were resurrected, and who are the cursed and the unholy, will be last resurrected.

The "last" or the "end" is also the final resurrectionIf there is a "firstresurrection, then there is a "second," and if there is a "beginningresurrectionthen there is an "endingresurrection too. There is no third or fourth resurrection, for the "second resurrection" will be the "last" or "endresurrection.

Friend, which resurrection will you have a part? What is your "rank" or "order"?

Glory Clouds


From "My Daily Bread" (SEE HERE)

Glory Clouds

"Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat..." (I Corinthians 10: 1-3 KJV)

What the Israelites experienced in their going into Egypt, and into hard bondage there, together with their deliverance therefrom, was a type of the salvation of believers in Jesus.

Like the Israelites, sinners too have fallen into bondage, only the bondage is spiritual, into the slavery of sin.

Like the Israelites, saved sinners have been "brought out of" a spiritual Egypt, and have "been immersed unto" (or "placed into") a greater Moses, the Lord Jesus Christ, and have "enter into the cloud," and have eaten "spiritual food."

What was this "cloud" into which the Israelites entered? that enveloped them?

This cloudcalled in Scripture, the "cloud of glory," or the "Shekinah," is first mentioned in connection with the exodus from Egypt and of the Israelites trek to the promised land.

"And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people." (Exodus 13: 21, 22 KJV)

"And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night." (Exodus 14: 19, 20 KJV)

The clouds of glory, both of fire and air, in the form of pillars, acted as a guide; but they also were a means of defense, both a rereward (rear defense) and a vanguard (defense for the front). They were a source of illumination also and probably a source of warmth. These clouds of glory were the "survival kit," as it were, for the Israelites.

"And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud." (Exodus 16: 10 KJV)

"And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD." (Exodus 19: 9 KJV)

"And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled." (Exodus 19: 6 KJV)

"And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights." (Exodus 24: 15-18 KJV)

"And Moses went into the midst of the cloud"! Can one possibly imagine the grandeur and wonder of such an experience?

"And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." (Exodus 33: 9-11 KJV)

"And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD." (Exodus 34: 5 KJV)

"Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle...And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys." (Exodus 40: 34-38 KJV)

"I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat." (Leviticus 16: 2KJV)

Thus we see the great significance of the "glory cloud," of the Shekinah, of the visible manifestation of the presence of the LordJesus is the Shekinah Incarnate. This is clear from the phenomenon and divine witness of the Mountain of Transfiguration experience.

"...there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud." (Luke 9: 34 KJV)

They entered the cloud just as did the ancient Israelites. They entered into a visible manifestation of the immediate presence of God as it was then shining forth in Christ on the "holy mountain."

When Christ ascended into Heaven it is recorded:

"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." (Acts 1: 9KJV)

Doubtless the reference is to this great "cloud of glory." As he ascendedso shall he return. So it is recorded.

"...then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." (Luke 21: 27 KJV)

"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." (I Thessalonians 4: 17 KJV)

"Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen." (Revelation 1: 7 KJV)

"And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and (set) his left foot on the earth...And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time (delay) no longer." (Revelation 10: 1,2,5,6 KJV)

Doubtless this "angel" or "messenger" is Christ the Lord. He is the one "clothed with the cloud" of the Divine Presence, of the Shekinah glory and majestyHis two legs are twin pillars of fire.

Like the coming "Two Witnesses" (prophets or martyrs), who when they are killed by the AntiChrist, and are raised to live after three days, and ascend into the "cloud," so too will all believers when Jesus comes again.

"And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them." (Revelation 11: 12 KJV)

But, even nowChristians have entered into this glorious cloud in their spiritual lives, in their mystic thoughts, and holy meditations, when their minds and spirits seemingly depart this world and enter into this glorious fog.

"If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you..." (I Peter 4: 14 KJV)

This glorious cloud even now "rests on" the believer in Jesus? Oh what a glorious promise! Friend, if an evil spirit clouds your life and your thoughts, then I urge you to seek another cloud, yea the "glory of God in the face of Jesus." (II Corinthians 4: 6 KJV)

Prophetic Harps


From "My Daily Bread" (SEE HERE)

Prophetic Harps

"And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God." (Revelation 15: 2 KJV)

All the Lord's people, according to prophetic promise, are to receive harps, and robes, and crowns.

The crowns are connected with the kingly rule of the saints, while the robes are connected with the priestly function and the harps with the prophetic officeJesus is high prophethigh priest, and highest king, but subordinate to him are his people by virtue of their connection with him, and who are destined to be prophets as well as priests and kings.

Peter addressed the Christians as a "royal priesthood" (I Peter 2: 9 KJV). They are both priests and kings, or "priests upon thrones" as is Jesus (See Zechariah 6: 13 KJV) And, it is just as scriptural to say that they will all one day be "prophets upon their thrones."

"And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!" (Numbers 11: 29 KJV)

This is the prayer of Moses and was uttered by the Spirit of God and expressed not only his wish and hope, but a sure prophecy of what truly will be the eternal state and condition of the people of God. It was not only the prayer of Moses, but also of Paul.

"Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy...everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort...I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have (everyone of) you prophesy...Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged." (I Corinthians 14: 1, 3, 5, 29-31 NIV)

Paul is very clear in his desire that every member of the church, both man and woman, and both young and old, be "prophets." Many in the church at Corinth did in fact have the gift of prophesy. But, Paul desired that all prophesy nowin the church, and not wait till the coming age to begin the exercise of this supernatural gift and office.

The "harp" in the Old Testament, in conjunction with other musical instruments, is intimately connected with the office of the prophet.

"After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy: And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man." (I Samuel 10: 5, 6 KJV)

"Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals...Of Jeduthun: the sons of Jeduthun; Gedaliah, and Zeri, and Jeshaiah, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, sixunder the hands of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp, to give thanks and to praise the LORD." (I Chronicles 25: 1, 3 KJV)

"I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp." (Psalm 49: 4 KJV)

Thus the connection between "prophesying" and "harp playing" is established. Further, when it is recorded in the Apocalypse that the saints of all the ages, when assembled together on the "last day," will all play on their "golden harps," it means more than simply making beautiful music, but means to disclose in song new revelations and new mysteries.

Sometimes the music from the harpfitting the message, may be in a minor chord, and expressive of what is what we might call "somber truth," and therefore the lyrics, or "oracles," may be uttered or sung "upon the harp with a solemn sound" (Psalm 92: 3 KJV).

"And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps..." (Revelation 5: 8 KJV)

"And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth." (Revelation 14: 1-3 KJV)

Oh what glorious oracles will be uttered by these revelators of heaven's throne upon their harps of gold!

In many ways, king David's experiences upon the harp give a glimpse of the prophetic and glorious nature and power in this musical and revelatory occupation.

"And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him." (I Samuel 16: 23 KJV)

It may well be that the saints will all be playing their harps as the last evil spirit is exorcised out of this world in much the same way that the Hebrews were all playing their Ram's horns as the last stone crumbled down from Jericho's wall's. (See Hebrews chpt. 11)

"And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals." (II Samuel 6: 5 KJV)

"And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and  with cymbals, and with trumpets." (I Chronicles 13: 8 KJV)

Can you imagine such a scene in glory when all the saints are gifted and qualified as prophets, and as priests, and as kings? When they all prophesy as they play their heavenly symphonies? As they sing and shout and dance about with "joy unspeakable and full of glory"?(I Peter 1: 8 KJV)

"My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep." (Job 30: 31 KJV)

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion." (Psalm 137: 1-3 KJV)

"joy of the harp ceaseth." (Isaiah 24: 8 KJV)

But, these are only temporary experiences for the child of God. His harp will never play mournful tunesbut only revelatory songs of great joy and gladness.

On the other hand, the wicked, though they might play the harp and other musical instruments now, in this world, in joyful songsyet truly forever their "harp will be turned into mourning" and forever "hung up" on the "willow tree" of disuse.

"Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings." (Psalm 33: 2 KJV)

"I will also praise thee with the psaltery, even thy truth, O my God: unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel." (Psalm 71: 22 KJV)

Friend, are you a Christian, a follower of Jesus? If so, are you ready to receive your robe, and your harp, and your crown? If you are not Christian, I urge you to seriously consider these things and I pray the Lord is pleased to show you the excellency of them.

"A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?" (Amos 3: 8 KJV)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Safe In Booths


From "My Daily Bread" (SEE HERE)

Safe in Booths

"But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."(Matthew 24: 20, 21 KJV)

"And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them." (Revelation 7: 15 NIV)

Prior to the appearing of Christ the second time, to set up his earthly reign and millenial kingdom (Revelation chpt. 20), there will be a short period of timeprobably seven years, that is called the time of "The Great Tribulation."

Jesus spoke of it and John recorded his vision of its actual occurrence. The Old Testament prophets also spoke of this horrific time, generally in regard to its effect upon the nation of Israel, calling it the "time of Jacob's trouble."

"Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it." (Jeremiah 30: 6, 7 KJV)

All these passages speak of the Lord' s people coming "out of" the"great tribulation," which they could not do if they were not "in" it. But, they also speak of special and miraculous protection that Lord God will give to his people during this awful period of time.

"I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." (John 17: 15 KJV)

"Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth." (Revelation 3: 10 NIV)

During the The Great Tribulation there will be worldwide suffering and death on a scale never known before. During this time the Lord will be punishing the "earth dwellers" for their sins. Also during this time the "Anti-Christ" will be in power and using all his might to oppose the people of God, even putting many to death. (See Revelation 13)

Yet, at the same time, the Lord will also be at work miraculously delivering his people during this timewondrously protecting them in a manner similar to the way he protected the Israelites when they were in the midst of the great tribulation that was sent upon the land of Egypt, just prior to their "exodus."

"And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be." (Exodus 8: 20-23 KJV)

One cannot help see the striking correlation between the Exodus of the Israelites and the Apocalypse or Book of RevelationBefore the Lord took his people out of slavery in Egypt, he sent the ten plagues of judgment upon Egypt. Yet, his own people were miraculously spared, for the Lord "severed the land of Goshen," where his peoplelived, and they were not harmed by the plagues.

So too will it be in the end of the ageGreat tribulation will come upon all the world, and the wicked will be judged, tried, and sorely vexed with trial and plague, while the Lord's people, are defended by the Lord.

During the Exodus from Egypt, the Lord instituted in Israel the"feast of tabernacles" ("booths" or "tents"). This spiritual "camping out" experience is described in these verses.

"Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD." (Leviticus 23: 39-44 KJV)

"And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, AmenAmen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God;mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength. So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy;neither be ye grieved. And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them. And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law. And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month: And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written. So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim. And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness. Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth daywas a solemn assembly, according unto the manner." (Nehemiah 8: 6-18 KJV)

"Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths." (Leviticus 23: 22 NIV)

Now that the "feast of booths" is understood, notice how these verses associate this spiritual and literal "camping out" experience with the time of the "great tribulation."

"And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in JerusalemWhen the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain." (Isaiah 4: 3-6 KJV)

"And I that am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast. I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets."(Hosea 12: 9, 10 KJV)

Do we see this happening in the Apocalypse? Notice these verses that seem clearly to allude to the ancient practice of dwelling in tents in a religious sense and during a time of great tribulation.

"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; And cried with a loud voice, saying,Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb." (Revelation 7: 9, 10 KJV)

Why the "palm branches"? Yes, it is a symbol of victory, but from whence came they? Were they not used in the making of the booths and tents during the time of the "great tribulation," when the church has "fled into the wilderness" from the persecution of Anti-Christ?(Revelation 12)

Some of the Lord's people, those who "are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4: 15) will dwell safely in these booths, in the wilderness. Others, who have died, will in bodylay safely in their graves, in booths for their bodies.

"But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. Go, my people,enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer." (Isaiah 26: 19-21 NIV)

Notice this pattern in regard to the coming day of wrath and tribulationWhen the land is being judged, the Lord's people are safe in booths!

"For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock." (Psalm 27: 5 KJV)

"The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly." (Psalm 118: 15 KJV)

Christians ought not to fear the coming "great tribulation"; certainly no more than Israel was to be fearful of what Lord God was doing to the Egyptians around themJesus said - "when you see these things come to pass," then "know that the time is near, even at the doors."(See Mark 13: 29) They should be as Daniel and his three Hebrew brothers, who all faced great tribulation in Babylon, but who nevertheless were miraculously delivered, and say, during the great tribulation, like they did, - "our God is able to deliver us." (Daniel 3: 17 KJV)

Friend, are you prepared for that great day?

The Apocalypse

SATURDAY, MAY 24, 2008

From "My Daily Bread" (SEE HERE)

The Apocalypse

"...who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time...These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed...Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed." (I Peter 1: 5, 7 13 NIV)

"God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." (II Thessalonians 1: 6-8 NIV)

The above inspired words of Peter and Paul, two eminent apostles, speak of the coming "Apocalypse of the Lord Jesus Christ." Christians are waiting for Christ to be "revealed from heaven." The word "revealed" is from the Greek word "apokalypsis" from which we get our transliterized word "Apocalypse." There is, of course, a wide difference between the denotation of the word and the modern connotation that is often given to it.

The word "revelation" is a good English equivalent for the Greek word "apocalypse." Another word, perhaps even better, would be the word "unveiling." The Greeks used this word for "unveiling" of statues, or other great works of art, as we do today in similar formal showings (unveilings). In a "revelation" or "apocalypse" there was a disclosure of what was previously hidden or out of view.

The Lord Jesus Christ has already had one apocalypse, having been revealed from heaven once before when he entered the world through miraculous birth of the Holy Spirit and conception in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary. This was his first "coming" or"appearing," his first "apocalypse." 

The word "apocalypse" ("revelation") is used frequently in conjunction with two other words, the word "parousia" ("coming" or"presence" or "arrival"), and the word "epiphania" ("epiphany" or"appearing").

In both cases, whether it concerns his first or his second coming, these three words are used, and denote primarily his physical bodily presence, his personal appearing on earth, his becoming visible to the eye.

Christ was once on earth. He was here in the flesh and was visible to men who talked with him, touched and handled him. But, he has gone back to heaven. We are therefore without his bodily presence. We look by faith to his return, the time when we shall see him with our physical eyes. For now the record is - "whom having not seen you love." (I Peter 1: 8) We have the testimony and records of those who were eye and ear witnesses of him.

Christ is now absent, except that he has sent the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son, to be his vicar on earth. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, for he testifies of Christ and reveals to our minds the things of Christ. (See John 14: 26; 15: 26; 16: 13) Further, Jesus promised his disciples that he would "be with them always, even till the end of the age," so he must be"here" in the person of the Holy Spirit, his representative. And yet, as blessed as is the joy of possessing the Holy Spirit, and of being reborn by him, and taught and led by him, we still long for the day when Christ is "revealed" again "from heaven," when Christ is fully glorified as earth's king, and when all believers in Jesus are also revealed and glorified with him.

From the above words of the apostles, the day of the Lord has a different effect on two different classes of people. Those who have rejected Christ and the gospel message will find that Christ will be revealed from heaven in order to execute the judgments written against them, bringing tribulation and the effects of divine wrath upon them. That is one side of the Apocalypse and one that gets the most attention. Yet, the other side of the glorious Apocalypse of Christ is that he will appear to eternally exalt and bless the believer in Jesus.

"Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed." (Isaiah 66: 5 KJV)

Notice that the appearing of the Lord, his apocalypse to men, is "to the joy of those who tremble at his word," while it is "to the shame or disgrace of the hypocrites."

"Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light." (Amos 5: 18 KJV)

Again, the same coming of the Lord is a boon for one group of people and a doom for others. For some the return of Jesus will be a time of great joy, light, and abounding life, but with others it will be a time of woe, darkness, and loss of all joy. Every person is called upon to respond to the divine interrogative that says to each sinner - "to what end (purpose or destiny) is my coming for YOU?" Will it be a curse or a blessing for you? Will you be confident when he appears, or will you tremble in fear of your impending judgment?

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

"Eagerly waiting" for the Apocalypse! Anxious for the coming of Jesus! Every believer says, in his heart, - "even so come quickly Lord Jesus." (Revelation 22: 20)

Why does the Christian fondly anticipate the day of Christ's "unveiling" and "reappearing"? Why is it so important for him? First, salvation, he realizes, is mostly future. What the believer in Jesus now has, in and by the Holy Spirit, is but a "foretaste," but it is such a taste of things to come that makes the soul pant for the full course meal, for the day of perfection and glorification, both of his Master and himself.

It is in the day of Christ's second Apocalypse that the bodies of all the redeemed will be raised and raptured to greet the Lord on his descent to earth!

"But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. "It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed." (Luke 17: 29, 30 NIV)

Again, the Apocalypse is that which will be "dreaded" by the Christ rejecting world while it will be joyously welcomed by those who have accepted Christ as the Savior of the world. This single day will spell doom and disaster for the wicked unbelieving world, while it will bring unending joy to the Christian.

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed." (Romans 8: 18, 19 NIV)

"But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." (I Peter 4: 13 NIV)

To "participate in" the "sufferings of Christ" now, by identifying oneself with him, as his disciple, is to assure oneself of "participating in" the great homecoming party planned for the redeemed! Peter spoke of the "grace" that will be given to all the saints at the time. While the unbeliever is being "disgraced" by the Apocalypse, the believer will be gloriously "graced" forever by it.

"To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed." (I Peter 5: 1 NIV)

"sharer" or "participant in" the coming glory of rule of Christ! Of that superlative display of grace and power! It is the day of Christ's crowning, of his coronation, of his receiving "honor" and "glory."

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John." (Revelation 1: 1 KJV)

This is the divinely given title to the last book of the bible. It is the only book of the bible that is taken up with one subject - "The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ." It is a book dealing solely, in all its varied aspects, with the second coming, or reappearing, or coming Apocalypse of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness." (II Thessalonians 2: 1-12 NIV)

This passage speaks of the glorious Apocalypse of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is connected with what Paul calls the "day of the Lord," that day when he undergoes his own unique unveiling to the world. But, what is also unique about this passage, is the fact that Paul speaks of the Antichrist, or "man of sin," or "son of perdition," as also coming (parousia) again and having a day of his reappearing or "apocalypse." Christ will be revealedarrive here, or be present here once again, but so also will the "son of perdition." He will come again, and he will appear once more. Also, notice, that the coming of Antichrist, or his apocalypse, is prior to the coming of Christ, or his apocalypse.

Friend, are you ready for the coming of the Lord Jesus?