A Relationship With God

Any time we enter into a relationship, one of the most important things is to understand that person you begin that relationship with, including God. We need to understand the basic character of God in order to have a healthy person relationship with Him. Misunderstanding His character and nature is the reason people don’t have a positive ongoing relationship with Him. That is what happened with Adam and Eve when they were tempted by the serpent and plunged the whole human race into sin. Their lack of understanding God’s nature, was actually a part of their temptation.

Genesis 3:1-5 – Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Verse 2) And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; (Verse 3) “but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, least you die.’ ” (Verse 4) And the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. (Verse 5) “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The way the serpent answered Eve, makes it sound like God is not a good God by withholding something from them. Implying, God made a tree that they could not even touch, or He would kill them. In a sense, Satan came against the very nature and character of God.

Satan tells people the same thing today. He wants people to think that if they follow and obey God, they will never enjoy true happiness. He tells them life will be boring and dull. The sad fact is that after people experience drugs, sex outside of marriage, indulgence of self, success, fame, and riches, they are left with an emptiness that cannot be satisfied. By the time most people realize it, they have already destroyed their lives, their relationships with family, and their health.

The truth is, God is a good God, and His will for us is only good. Those who have only a little understanding of the Bible could get the wrong impression because there are instances in the Word where He treated some people in harsh, cruel ways. In the Book of Numbers, for instance, a man picked up sticks on the Sabbath Day and was stoned to death for failing to observe the Sabbath.

The fact is that, people didn’t realize just how sinful they were and are even now,  in their offenses against God. They made the mistake of comparing themselves and measuring themselves by other people. People still do that today, for those who have little knowledge of the Bible and who God is, they think God is out to get them. He is a just God and He is a good God, all the time.

In the Old Testament, if someone committed a sin and wasn’t struck dead, they thought sin must not be so bad which lowered their standards. However, God had set the standards and He had to bring mankind to the proper standing of right and wrong so they would reject the devil and his temptations. Then when He did that, He had to enforce the Law He had given.

God gave the Old Testament commandments to make our sense of right and wrong more acute and to bring us to the realization that we need a Savior.

The problem has been that people thought God was demanding perfection before He could love them, which led to the attitude many have that His love for them is directly proportional to their performance. They feel that until they try to do everything exactly right, they will not be accepted by God, and that is not the message of the Bible.

God’s heart is to reconcile mankind to Himself through Jesus. If it wasn’t He wouldn’t have sent Jesus. His goal is to take our sins away and anything that would separate that personal relationship with Him. He did this through Jesus, and He’s offering anyone that relationship by us accepting what Jesus did on the cross. Our faith in Jesus Christ makes it possible to have a personal relationship with God the Father.

Righteousness By Grace

Romans 3:21-23 – But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, (Verse 22) even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; (Verse 23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,…

Revealed and manifest is the same, and righteousness was made manifest in and through Jesus Christ. Without Him we have no righteousness before God. None of us have kept the Law or the Commandments perfectly, outwardly or inwardly, so we need a “righteousness” equal to God in order to be accepted before Him.

This righteousness that is offered to all who believe, is through faith in Jesus Christ. This is righteousness without the Law. A righteousness according to Law is doing, earning, and achieving in order to be accepted before God.

The “good news” of the Gospel is that God is offering His very own righteousness and acceptance to all who believe in what Jesus provided – His death on the cross for our sins, imputing to us the righteousness that equals the Law. This is the righteousness apart from the Law, without us doing earning, and achieving, and it comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

We all have sinned and we all have come short of God’s standard’s which is perfection. God offers His righteousness, not through works of the Law but through faith in Jesus Christ, dependence, and reliance upon our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, how then was Abraham saved? The Bible says that, “he believed God” – believed the promise God gave him – and then righteousness was imputed to his account. The fact that Abraham was declared righteous before God through faith was not just for him.

The Bible says that because of the payment Christ made on the cross when He shed His blood for our sin, righteousness will be imputed to any person’s account who believes upon Christ.

Romans 5:17 says, “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One Jesus Christ.”

A gift only costs the person who gives it, not the one who receives it. God made righteousness available to you and me as a gift, and this gift of righteousness, acquittal, and right standing before God, comes through faith in Jesus Christ!

Salvation By Grace

Many times Jesus would use parables to illustrate spiritual truths. This parable in Luke 18, verses 9-14 is a parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. He starts in verse 9 which says, Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.

Jesus was targeting a certain audience: those who trusted that they were righteous and automatically despised and looked down on everyone else. We would call them “self-righteous.”

Verse 10 says, “Two men went up to the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.” A Pharisee was a very religious person. The word actually means “separated one.” Someone who would look at others as if to say, “Don’t get too close to me, you might defile me.” They thought they were better than everyone else.

The other man was a publican. Publicans were tax collectors and were known to be very evil, sinful people who cheated and defrauded. They collected taxes by any means and stuck a lot of what they collected in their own pockets. They were despised by most people.

Verse 11 – “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not like other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”

It sounds like he was actually praying to himself, even though he had said “God.” Notice that he said, “I thank You, that I’m not like other men.” In other words, “I’m not a sinful man, I’m not an extortioner, not unjust, not an adulterer, and I’m not like this publican that’s right here. You made me better than he.”

And that’s what some Christians tend to do also. They think because God has cleaned their lives up and they don’t do some of the things that others still do, they think they are better than those still struggling with things.

The story continues in Verse 12 – “I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”

Years ago, I caught myself praying like that, by listing all the things to God that I was doing right. As if to say, “Look how much I do for You!” Why were things going so wrong, wasn’t I good enough?

Then we come to the tax collector in Verse 13 – “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner!”

Notice, he stood a way off. He didn’t even go all the way into the temple. He was so ashamed of the things he had been doing that he wouldn’t even look up to heaven. When he smote his breast, it was a sign of repentance, a contrite heart, and a broken spirit.

Verse 14 says, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” The tax collector went home justified, righteous before God, in right standing with Him, forgiven by God.

The Bible says Jesus didn’t come to save righteous people but sinners, and we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. The tax collector humbled himself and found forgiveness and a pardon.

Grace is the free, unmerited favor of God toward people who don’t deserve it.

Romans 5:17 says, “They which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” God offers us a right standing before Him through Jesus Christ. When we humble ourselves under Christ’s authority, all things are possible, and that includes an abundant life!

 

Eternal Life

One of the most familiar passages of Scripture is John 3:16. almost everyone knows this verse from a young age.

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Traditionally, this scripture has been used to teach that Jesus came and died for our sins so that we wouldn’t perish. That is true, but the real purpose of Jesus coming to earth and dying in our place was so that we could have everlasting life. The real message of the Gospel is that God wants to give us everlasting life with Him throughout all eternity.

The night before His crucifixion, Jesus was praying, and He said, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:3).

This verse says that everlasting life is knowing the Father, the only true God, and knowing Jesus Christ, whom He sent. That’s what everlasting life is. Every person does live forever and it’s a misconception to think that when a person dies they cease to exist. The spirit and soul go back to God and the body decays in the grave. The truth is, every person who has ever lived on this earth will continue to live in spirit form either with Christ or not. This verse makes it very clear that eternal life with God is not automatically given to everyone.

The word “know” is used throughout Scripture to describe the most intimate, personal relationship that a person could have.

The real purpose of salvation is not living forever in heaven, as wonderful as that will be, but is to have intimacy – a personal relationship with the Lord God. There are multitudes of people who have asked God for forgiveness of their sins but have never had intimacy with God as a goal!

When people, including pastors, don’t explain the true purpose of salvation, they do a disservice to the Gospel. By making salvation something that only deals with our sin, it makes people want to put it off, because they think there is always tomorrow.

The truth is that not only did Jesus come to affect our eternal destinies so that we could live forever in heaven in blessing, instead of punishment and the curse of hell, but Jesus also came to deliver us from this present world. Galatians 1:4 says, “Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Jesus wants to give us all a quality of life that is greater than anything we could obtain through any other source. Through an intimate, personal relationship with the Savior, we can discover how deep and how wide His love is for us.

If you don’t  know the Lord, you need to know Him for that purpose. If you have been born again, we all need to go beyond just getting our sins forgiven and enter into everlasting life with the Father.

 

Whosoever Will – Part 2

Our belief determines where we will spend eternity. Our behavior determines “how” we are going to spend eternity. There will be different levels of responsibility in heaven because while on earth our works are going to be judged.

So yes, our behavior matters, whether lost or saved, but our salvation is by grace alone. Ephesians 2:8, 9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, (Verse 9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

But there are a large number of Scriptures about works: Ecclesiastes 12:4 – “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret things, whether good or evil.” Revelation 20:13 – The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.” 1 Peter 1:17 – “And if you call on the Father who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear (in awe, in reverence of God).” Matthew 16:27 – “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Revelation 22:12 – “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”

Yes, it matters how we live our lives. And our belief determines where we spend eternity, but our works will determine how we spend eternity, and our belief will determine our behavior! There are people who say, “Oh, I believe in Jesus,” but have never lived for Him.” If you don’t live for Him, then you don’t believe in Him. When you truly believe, God gives you a new heart and with that new heart, you have a desire to turn from sin and turn to God, so you can’t convince me that you believe in something, but yet you don’t follow His commandments.

There will be two judgments; the believers judgment and the unbelievers judgment. This will be the “works” being judged.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

This is the believers judgment. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” We are not being judged for our sins. Those were paid for in full by Jesus Christ and we accepted it. According to Scripture, we will either receive a reward or lose a reward that we could have had.

The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:11-14 that, each one’s works will be tested by fire. What was done with the right motives will last, that which was done for self, with the wrong motives behind it, will be burned up. He himself will be saved, but the work is burned up, no reward.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:1 to watch our motives of why and how we do our works. Matthew 6:1 says, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

It is not whether someone sees you do a charitable act or not, it’s what was the motive behind the act. Was it done out of a pure heart, expecting nothing in return? Or was it done to get the praise from others? God knows. Matthew 6:2-4 says, “Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that the may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” (Verse 3) “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (Verse 4) that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

The Great White Throne Judgment

This judgment is for all unbelievers. Revelation 20:11, 12 says, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. (Verse 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.”

There is the Book of Life, and if your name is in it, you won’t be standing here. But then there are books,plural, because it’s more than just names, it contains works. So, are there degrees of punishment in hell? Yes there is!

According to the Bible, the Father is watching us, all the time. He sees every detail of our lives. He has rewards, or not, with Him, according to our works and deeds done while on this earth. There will be two judgments and we determine which one we stand before when that day comes.

Be sure of your salvation! The choice is yours.

Whosoever Will – Part 1

What is the difference between doctrine and dogma? Doctrine, by its literal definition, never changes. Doctrine means “The Master’s Teaching. However, our understanding of the Master’s teaching does change. So actually what really changes is called “dogma,” which is belief.

There are 5 points to Calvinism, which is “dogma.” (1) Total depravity – some believe that we are so depraved with the sin nature that we can’t ever choose Christ for ourselves. God just “zap’s us and we get saved one day. However, what it really means is yes, we have a sin nature, but God gives us an ability to choose Christ. Whatever we believe, has to be consistent with the nature and character of God.

(2) Calvinist believe in unconditional election – this is the belief that God chose some people to go to heaven and some people to go to hell. But according to Scripture, “God wants everyone to come to Him – whosoever will! God is not willing that any should perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (Matthew 24:14; Mark 16:15; John 1:21; John 3:17; 2 Corinthians 5:19, 20.) Everyone of these Scriptures says the sins of the world have been paid for through Christ Jesus and it’s up to us to choose or reject what God has already done.

People don’t go to hell because of sin! John 3:36 says, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe in the Son shall not see life.”

(3) Limited Atonement – Again, I don’t believe this; it means Jesus died only for the elect. There are too many Scriptures that prove Jesus died for the whole world. Hebrews 7:27 says that, “who does not need daily, as the high priests to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins and then for the people’s, for this He died once for all when He offered up Himself.” All means all!

The thinking with Calvinism is so narrow that people are already chosen, so why should a Christian even witness to the lost? There has to be a driving force in every Christian to win people to Christ! Whosoever will.

(4) Irresistible Grace – What this means in the Calvinism teaching is that, those who are chosen, cannot resist the grace of God. However, I believe you can resist the grace of God. People do it all the time. God gave us a free will. If we didn’t have a will of our own, then God created “robots.” But we do have a will to believe or not and what we believe will determine where we spend eternity.

Matthew 7:24 says, “Therefore, whosoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken to him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:26  – ” But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.”

(5) Perseverance of the Saints – Calvinist believe that if you are one of the chosen, you will be preserved to the end, no matter what. This takes personal responsibility out of the equation. Look at Psalm 31:23, which says, “Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints! For the Lord preserves the faithful.” The Christian is preserved that is committed and faithful to Him.

There is one requirement – John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

 

 

Respect For God’s Name

Why do you think God would be so adamant about us not using His name in vain? His name is His character and it’s who He is!

For instance: You know the name of people who have a bad reputation, and you might have a not-so-nice nick name for them. It’s not their name, it refers to their behavior and character.

Even the Lord’s prayer starts with Hollowed be they name – holy, separate. His name is separate from every other name.

God’s name in the Old Testament almost 7,000 times is “Yahweh means He who caused existence. “I Am” – I will be, I’m the One that’s always existed.

The reason the Jewish people went into exile, is because they profaned His name. So, Jewish people stopped pronouncing, saying it, out loud around 600 B.C. It wasn’t the way they said His name out loud that profaned it. It was the way they were living. They had the name of God on them, but they were worshiping idols. Others could not tell the difference between the people of God and those who didn’t know Him.

One of the ways you profane the name of God in our society today is, “You call yourself Christ like, Christian, and you don’t live Christ like.

Ezekiel 36:20 – “When they came to the nations, wherever they went, they profaned My holy name when they said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord,  and yet they have gone out of His land.’ ”

Ezekiel 36:21-23 – “But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went. (Verse 22) Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. (Verse 23)  And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,” says the Lord God, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.” (Do you remember why Moses didn’t get to go into the Promise Land? God told it was because he did not Hallow His name in front of the people.)

When the Jewish people went into these other nations, the people had names for their idols. When they worshiped them, they called on the name of that idol. God told them, “My name is not a magical incantation when you pray!” They were not to use God’s name like the pagans used the name of their gods. If we pray selfishly, it’s using His name in a vain way – profane. So how do we pray the right way without profaning His name? We pray for His will for our lives and others. Then we know for sure He hears us and it’s right.

Another way we could use His name in a vain way is prophecy. This is when we say, “Thus says the Lord,” and the Lord has not spoken. Saying that, “The Lord told me…, and He hasn’t said no such thing is just as bad.

The name of God is not to be taken casually or without thought. God says those who profane His name will not be held guiltless.

Have we all done this? Yes. But what did Jesus do for us in our place? He took the punishment we so rightly deserved because we have all broken every commandment that was written. That’s why we need His Grace! So we all need to be very careful how we use God’s name. It is a precious name and above every other name!

How Do We Forgive?

Image of spirit leaving the body

Hatred and unforgiveness are tied together. Are we to forgive those who have trespassed against us unjustly? I realize that some people are just impossible to get along with, but how do we forgive those that call themselves Christians that lie, deceive, or manipulate others?

Christians are most offended and hurt when the person doing the hurting are close, such as family and friends. Did they ask for forgiveness? Most don’t. Most won’t even admit that they did anything wrong.

However, let’s take our focus off those that offend and put our focus on what unforgiveness does to us when we hold it in our hearts. A person who is unwilling to forgive will grow bitter and that bitterness will turn into hatred. When we hold a grudge against another, it usually spews out of our mouths like venom. We tell anyone who will listen, what that person did to us. Before long people avoid the person that is always blaming others for what they go through. Everything bad that happens, that person blames the one that did them wrong, even if it was years ago.

So how do we get to a place where we forgive them when the other person doesn’t even care that they hurt you?

Forgiveness proceeds grace! Forgiveness is giving grace to the one who doesn’t deserve it. You have to receive grace in order to give it. If you have a problem with receiving forgiveness and grace from the Great Grace Giver, then you certainly will not be able to give forgiveness to others.

Matthew 10:8 – …”Freely you have received, freely you give.” Anyone who feels like they have to earn forgiveness from God, will make others “earn” forgiveness from them! But once a person realizes that they didn’t deserve to be forgiven by God, then it becomes easier to forgive others without them having to earn your forgiveness.

Forgive in the Greek  means “Release.” When God forgave us, He released us from the punishment of sin. When we truly forgive someone, we release them and don’t bring it up again to them. God doesn’t keep bringing up our old sins, so why should we to others?

This will be a battle in our minds, but here is the point, “You don’t forgive people who were right!” We forgive those who have done wrong! We don’t have to forgive those who are nice and kind to us, we forgive those who have been nasty and mean and who have hurt us.

Is this easy? No. Some will chose to close relationships because the offense was too great, but if you want peace, forgive and move on.

Be Still and Know

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

We do what we can and let God do what we can’t. Are most people content in the state they are in right now? Or, are they striving to change and control what they have no capacity to change? This kind of thinking is where stress comes from.

It doesn’t matter how faithful we are or how good we are, there will always be circumstances that will come our way that is beyond our control. Troubles will come and we will have to rely on God for deliverance.

We will only have peace through these times if we “Be still and know that God is God.” We let go and become weak, trusting in the Savior.

Ask yourself: What are the weaknesses that the Apostle Paul has in mind when he says, “The power of Christ is made perfect in weaknesses? What is the source of such weaknesses? Do they come from Satan? Do the come from God? Or both?

What is the purpose of such weaknesses? Is there a goal or an aim for why the weaknesses come?

Weaknesses are not sin. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:10 that, the weaknesses are infirmities, reproaches, needs, persecutions, and in distresses, for Christ;’s sake. For when he is weak in these areas, then he is strong.

The favor of God on a Christian’s life does not mean we don’t have problems. This has nothing to do with sin. Now, if the hardships and problems come from sin, that’s a different matter. I’m talking about hardships and circumstances that come in a Christian’s life that we never wanted nor desired.

We must keep our heart right towards God during these times. Don’t become bitter. There will be times when you feel you can’t get to the next level, and that’s when His strength is made perfect in our weakness! Sometimes He will put us in a situation beyond our control for testing.

God has put things down inside of each Christian that He will bring forth in His timing to deliver us. But we have to wait, in peace, on His timing because of what He’s doing outside that will fall into place in His time! Weaknesses are conditions, circumstances, situations that are beyond our control!

That’s why Paul said, “I glory in my infirmities.” That’s not sin! Why would he take pleasure in sin? I’ve heard too many people think that infirmities are sin, they are not.

God can and will take what little we have and make something great out of it. Things don’t always come out the way we have imagined them to, but our thoughts are not His thoughts because His are greater.

Weaknesses are not bad behaviors or bad choices. The Apostle Paul was given a thorn in the flesh, which he said came from Satan. He prayed three times for God to remove it, but God didn’t. God told him His grace was sufficient and His strength was made perfect in Paul’s weakness.

As a Christian, we need to recognize messengers from Satan. When one thing after another start to come at you and you know you are not doing anything wrong, this is not normal. Don’t ever forget the enemy of God comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Christians do not fight the devil with “carnal weapons.”

God takes what Satan meant for destruction, and turns it around for good. Satan wanted to stop Paul from preaching and teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but did the “thorn” stop him? No. We know that the “thorn” Paul had to bear was to keep him from the “spirit of pride.” In essence, God told Paul He had a purpose in what was happening to him.

There are certain things that come our way that won’t purify our heart until we go through “Hell and high water.” We will ask ourselves when going through hard times, “Does God even care?” Don’t look at it like that. We should be asking, “What is God trying to get me to see?”

Paul gives us three answers why these things come” Satan’s purpose is to buffet us. He must be resisted. But God’s purpose is to humble us. God thinks humility is greater than comfort. Humility is greater than freedom from pain. God’s final purpose is to glorify Jesus. In our weakness, it is to glorify His grace on our lives. In the good and the bad, in all things that Christ be glorified. (Romans 8:28). All things will work together for your good.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Doesn’t matter what you go through or the source from which it came – God will turn it around for our good and believing that is called faith.

There will be times God will deliver us right in the middle of trouble and other times He’ll step right beside you and give you the strength to go through it. He will never leave us as He develops a compassion in us; a love in us; and a wisdom in us. He will make us the Christian we need to be. In our weakness He will make us strong. He will make us an expression of His mercy and grace. He will make our hearts tender toward other people and especially toward Him.

He wants us to know that we can go only so far on our own. Keep in mind that God also controls the devil and He will use what the devil throws at us, turn it around, and glorify Christ in our lives.

Remember Job? After God had purified his heart, and tested him, Job prayed for his friends and God gave him double of everything that Satan had taken! You hang in there, God is on your side!! “Be still, and know that He is God!”

 

Revelation – Chapter 22

Verse 1 – And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

God is using a physical substance (water) to help explain a spiritual truth. Living water flows pure, clear, and fresh. It is not murky, stagnant, or polluted. It possesses life-giving qualities that man cannot live without. This is water that restores and refreshes, flows in abundance, and satisfies our thirst. The source of this water is the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Verse 2 – In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the trees were for the healing of the nations.

John is still describing all that is in the Holy City, but what is outside the walls of the New Jerusalem?

The leaves of the trees for “healing of the nations” was always confusing until I thought long and hard about what John was saying.

Isaiah 66:22 says, “For as the new heavens and the new earth which I make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord, “So shall your descendants and your name remain.

We have to keep in mind, that after the 1,000 year reign has ended, there will be thousands alive that were born during this time, that did not follow Satan. These “nations” are populated with those people.

If God could save Noah and his family during the great flood and then repopulate the earth, God can certainly preserve those born in the Millennium to repopulate the “New Earth.” The Bible says, “Kings will come from every nation to the Holy City to bring honor and glory to the King of kings.” So if this is not true, then where do the people come from?

Verse 3 – And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.

In the New Jerusalem there will be no more: death, mourning, crying or pain; no need for a temple; no sun nor moon; no night; impure, shameful, or deceit and no curse.

Verse 4 – They shall see His Face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.

Verse 5 – And there shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. and they shall reign forever and ever.

This is hard for us to even imagine. There will be no need for any physical or artificial light because God will be the source. and it won’t kill us to look on the face of God.

Verse 6 – Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true.” And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.

No man is to trifle with these words that were written by John, by spiritualizing or reducing them to meaningless symbols.

Verse 7 – “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

“Soon” or “shortly” means before long, but Jesus said He is coming “quickly,” meaning “suddenly,” very fast. This is significant, because unbelievers get the wrong impression when they hear Christians say that Jesus is coming soon. What we should say is, “When Jesus comes, it will happen very fast, in a blink of an eye.”

Prophecy is so important because it can change our lives and cause us to be more concerned for the lost, time is short.

Verse 8 – Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.

Verse 9 – Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

This is the second time an angel told John not to worship him. We are not to worship or bow to anyone but the Lord Jesus, alone!

Verse 10 – And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.

When Daniel wrote his prophecy several hundred year before the birth of Christ, he didn’t understand some of the things God had showed him. He wanted an explanation, but the fulfillment of his prophecies were a long time off, so he was told to “Seal them up until the end time.” This Revelation is different with John. John’s prophecy was already unfolding, and the Church Age had begun. God wants His people to know these things now.

Verse 11 – “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”

This is a warning regarding the separation of the lost and the saved. A great “chasm” will separate the Lake of Fire from the Holy City that no one can cross. The decisions people make while living will determine their destiny for eternity.

Verse 12 – “And behold, I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.

Not much is said in the church today about rewards. For the most part it is a neglected message. None of us deserves a reward for doing the will of the Father, but we know rewards will be given because  Jesus says so. If we would only let the goodness of God sink in, we would do more to honor Him. and we honor Him every time we help someone who can’t help themselves.

Verse 13 – “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning, and the End, the First and the Last.”

Verse 14 – Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

Some versions of the Bible says, “Blessed are those who wash their robes,” but the King James version, I believe, is the closest interpretation – “Blessed are those who do His commandments.”

Those who do His commandments will be offered two rewards: access to the tree of life and be able to pass through the gates to get to the tree of life.

Verse 15 – But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

Dogs are sometimes referred to as those who practice the occult. John just made a list of those who will be in the eternal lake of fire.

So who are those who “practice or maketh a lie?” False doctrines can be one, but some that come to mind are those which have convinced themselves that they are the opposite sex of what they were born with – that’s practicing a lie. Sexual immorality covers a lot of things and this is only one that falls into this category. Rape, incest , fornication are a few more which will have their part in the Lake of Fire, outside and far away from the gates of the Holy City.

Verse 16 – “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

The Root and the Offspring of David comes from the Old Testament and is reference to the Messiah. The Bright and Morning Star comes from both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus refers to Himself as the One who will appear near the end of the earth’s darkest hour.

Verse 17 – And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires let him take the water of life freely.

This is God’s final call for all believers and for believers to tell unbelievers to “Come!” The Holy Spirit works in and through the “Bride of Christ,” the Church, using believers to invite the lost to come to Jesus and drink of His salvation, the water of life.

To those that are tired of living without Jesus, who thirst after righteousness, come and drink and be filled.

Verse 18 – For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book;

Verse 19 –  and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Some denominations don’t include the entire book of Revelation. Some have changed such words as “Him,” “darkness,” and “blindness” because they do not want to offend anyone. Some have produced a “New Bible” that contain an approved “inclusive” language. Is this adding to or taking away? You bet it is.

Verse 20 – He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Verse 21 – The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

These last words of the Bible serve a s a reminder that “Grace” makes salvation possible. Grace will keep us out of the Lake of Fire , and let us pass through the gates of the Holy City.

Grace is God’s riches at Christ’s expense. Salvation: everyone needs it (Romans 3:23). Everyone can have  it (John 3:16). Only Jesus can give it (John 14:6). Only believers receive it (John 3:36).