SHOULD CHURCHES COMPLY WITH GOVERNING AUTHORITIES DURING THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC?

In Acts 28, the apostle Paul was under house arrest, apparently for 2 years. Paul did not jail break his house arrest. Instead, he preached the gospel to all who came to him. This is the same Paul who instructed the Romans, and Titus to be in submission to governing authorities. Paul taught that those who do good need not be afraid as government is an ordination of God.

It’s truly disappointing that some Pastors have chosen to defy governing authorities who are simply doing their best to slow the spread of a virus and save lives. This is why I believe the greatest need in American Christianity is sound doctrine. Those who think that the closing of churches for a brief time to help prevent the spread of this virus is somehow equal to the persecution the apostles endured in Acts is troubling.

Local authorities in the United States are not suppressing the gospel. They are not forbidding us to speak in the name of Jesus. In fact, Churches are encouraged to use every means possible to continue their ministries and stay in touch with their congregations. There are so many available outlets to continue ministry during this pandemic (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tic Tok, Twitter, Blogs, Vlogs, etc ), and Pastors may freely visit his parishioners if they so choose. I can only imagine how Paul would have put the resources we have available to good use while under house arrest.

A temporary suspension of in person church services ought not be compared to the real persecution the apostles and early Christians endured. We as Christians are simply being asked to do our part, as team players to help our communities fight the spread of Covid 19.

Unlike the Christians who have truly suffered persecution, Christians in the United States have a vast amount of government assistance made available to them: stimulus checks, federal sponsored unemployment, and PPP loans that are forgivable. Besides these, many creditors are offering help to relieve financial burdens until we get past this time.

Yet in this environment, some have decided they want to turn the cautionary measures that local authorities are implementing during the pandemic it into a constitutional fight, by defying the guidelines of their local governments. Ironically, the very scriptures they claim to adhere to reveals that those who “despise government” are actually walking after the flesh. ~ 2 Peter 2:10

Such behavior does more to bring a reproach on the gospel in the eyes of the world than to glorify the Name of Christ. As Christians we are not called to be rebellious to governing authorities when such authorities are doing their best to serve the public. We are called to set the example of godliness and purity by submitting in meekness as we display good works which put to silence our critics.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. ~ Romans 13:1-5

Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. ~ Titus 3:1-2

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation (your conduct) honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish menAs free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. ~ 1 Peter 2:11-16

 

 

RETHINKING THE MILLENIUM

The following is not that of a dogmatic position. It is an invitation to rethink the millennium.

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 resurrection. Blessed 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 a thousand years. ~ Revelation 20:4-6

Consider that (1) John saw thrones. (2) John saw the souls of martyrs reigning with Christ. (3) John says “they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” (4) John does not say “they reigned with Christ on earth a thousand years.”

In Revelation 5, we do read the following:

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. ~ Revelation 5:9-10

The question that we need to ask is who is “we” a reference to in the text above which says, “we shall reign on the earth.”

In Revelation 20, those who reign with Christ are said to be the souls of martyrs, and there is no mention of the being on earth. In Revelation 5 there is no specific reference to martyrs and no time span a thousand years mentioned.

No consider the preceding verses in Revelation 5

And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. 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, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. ~ Revelation 5:6-8

Contextually, those who will reign with Christ on earth are either, the 24 elders, or the saints whose prayers are mentioned. It seems that the most reliable interpretation would be the saints.

Consider the words of Jesus from the sermon on the mount: Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. ~ Matthew 5:5

Is Revelation 5:10 and Revelation 20:4-6 referring to the same thing? 

Revelation 20 is often interpreted as evidence for a future Messianic Kingdom which is believed to precede the coming new heavens new earth. It is commonly referred to as the millennial reign of Christ, or the millennium. Those who hold to this eschatological view believe that Revelation 20:4-6 refers to a dispensation in time on earth which will last for a literal thousand years, based on the rotation of the earth around the sun.

However there is are some important details that we need to consider.

First, this is the only scriptural reference to a thousand year reign in the entire Bible. Other texts which are are often cited as millennial texts do not mention a thousand years, but have had the thousand years mentioned in Revelation 20 projected onto them by men who hold to this particular eschatology.

Secondly, the emphasis of Revelation 20:4-6 is not that of Christ reigning. Instead, the emphasis is placed on martyrs reigning with Christ, and they reign with Christ as priests. Christ is already reigning throughout the book of the Revelation.

Within eschatological views such as dispensational premillennialism, the central focus of the millennium is not that of martyrs reigning with Christ, and in many instances, the focus isn’t Jesus reigning either. The central focus is often the secular nation of Israel. However, there is no mention of the nation of Israel in Revelation 20:4-6. The focal point is vindication of martyrs who reign with Christ.

In Revelation 6 we have a clue as to who the martyrs reigning with Christ might be.

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. ~ Revelation 6:9-11

In chapter 20, those who are specifically mentioned as reigning with Christ are the souls of martyrs who were reigned as from thrones.

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. ~ v. 4

Notice that those reigning with Christ are specifically martyrs, who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God.  Is it possible that the martyrs reigning with Christ reigned in Heaven, or must they be on earth to reign with him?

Consider the promise of Jesus to the overcomers:

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. ~ Revelation 3:21

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus promised thrones to his disciples when he would sit on the throne of his glory.

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. ~ Matthew 19:28

Notice that Jesus refers to his being seated in the throne of his glory, is at the time of the regeneration, i.e., the time when men are born again by the Spirit of God. (see Titus 3:5)

According to the New Testament, Jesus is enthroned at the right hand of God. Is it possible that this scripture is fulfilled in the Heaven? The promise of Jesus to overcomers (Revelation 3:21) and the enthroned martyrs reigning with Christ (Revelation 20:4-6), and the disciples (apostles) enthroned and judging the 12 tribes of Israel speaks volumes regarding our union with Christ.

In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul taught that believers are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ if we suffer with him.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. ~ Romans 8:16-17

We can see hints of ruling, or reigning with Christ in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

Even when we were dead in sins, (God) hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 2:6-7

Notice that Paul speaks of being “seated with Christ in heavenly places.” This is worth remembering when we consider the “reigning martyrs” who reign with Christ. Remember, the text does not say “they reigned on earth,” but simply, “they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”

Some Bible translations say, “they came to life” and others say, “they came back to life” and some say, “they lived again.”

Revelation 20:5-6 interprets their living, or coming to life, as the first resurrection.

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed 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 a thousand years.

Was this resurrection physical? Is it still in our future? Could it be a reference to Heaven?

The scriptures reveal that there was resurrection of many saints which occurred after the resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. ~ Matthew 27:50- 53

Is it possible that this phenomenon mentioned in Matthew was a kind of first-fruits of the coming resurrection of the saints? Is it possible that these saints received their resurrected bodies and are now in Heaven in resurrected bodies? The scriptures are not clear about this, but do speak of resurrection in broader terms than we sometimes think.

In the Bible, resurrection is described as follows:

1. Living in the presence of God after death
2. The new birth
3. The resurrection of the body.

First, in the gospel of Matthew Jesus refers to life after death in the presence of God as “in the resurrection.”

The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine. ~ Matthew 22:23-33

Notice that Jesus speaks of the resurrection in view of living in the presence of God in the after life. This is clearly understood by simply reading the text, as there is no reference here of bodily resurrection which certainly is taught elsewhere in the New Testament.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were physically dead and not yet bodily resurrected at the time of this statement. However, Jesus claims that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, saying, God declared himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who though physically deceased, yet lived!

This truth is supported by Jesus’s reference of Abraham’s bosom in the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16). Abraham was alive in the presence of God, though no longer living in this world, for the Lazarus was taken to Abraham’s bosom after he physically died.

Secondly, Paul believed that believers had been raised to new life with they trusted in Jesus. Having already referenced Ephesians 2:6-7, consider the following from the book of Colossians:

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened (made alive) together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses… ~ Colossians 2:9-13

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. ~ Colossians 3:1-4

Paul taught that believers are already partakers of the resurrection life in Christ, even though they had not yet received the resurrection of their bodies. Paul also believed that those who suffered for Christ would also reign with him

If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us… ~ 2 Timothy 2:12

Finally,  John (in Revelation 20) specifically mentions that he saw “the souls” of those who reigned with Christ, and are said to be priests of God in verse 6. According to the balance of the New Testament, we do not become priests of God after our bodily resurrection, but when we are given new life in Christ.

John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. ~ Revelation 1:4-6

Kings and priests, could more accurately be translated, “a kingdom of priests.”

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Peter 2:5

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light… ~ 1 Peter 2:9

Finally, we know from other texts such as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 that there will be a physical resurrection of all the saints at the coming of the Lord.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live…Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. ~ John 5:24-25; 28-29

We must determine according to the context which resurrection is being refereed to by the Biblical writer (i.e., the new birth, being in the presence of God after physical death, or the resurrection of the body at the coming of the Lord). 

John saw the souls and not the bodies of those who had given their lives for Jesus.

Just something to consider in your own studies.

 

INTEGRITY IN THE SIGHT OF MEN

But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel. And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will. We take this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us, for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.  ~ 2 Corinthians 8:16-21 (ESV)

In 2 Corinthians (chapters 8 and 9) the apostle Paul was collecting donations for Christians who were in need. Paul was not raising personal financial support for his own ministry. In fact, Paul was so careful with regards to any donations that he refused to burden the Corinthians with his own needs. Paul chose to pay his own way so that the gospel would not be hindered. Consider the following from 1 Corinthians, chapter 9:

If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?  If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:11-18 (ESV)

Though Paul had the right to receive support, he chose not to use that right so that the gospel would not be hindered. Paul had the same integrity with regards to the donations which were being collected for the poor Christians in 2 Corinthians 8. Paul desired to be honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.

Paul appointed honorable men over this task (Titus and another brother of reputation) so that no accusation could be levied. Paul understood that the effectiveness of the gospel through his ministry was only as good as his name – A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. ~ Proverbs 22:1

It is to be regretted that some ministers have forfeited the value of a good by their unscrupulous ways, and in doing so, they bring not only shame on themselves, but a reproach on the name of Christ. As Christians, we have a responsibility to adorn the name of Christ and his doctrine in the sight of men.

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 (ESV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE MARK OF THE BEAST

Difficult times often bring out the worst in people as well as the best in others. Unfortunately, difficult times also brings out deeply rooted fears that even good people have been convinced to believe. One of those is a fear of the infamous Mark of the Beast.

Recently, at a Texas protest over issues regarding the coronavirus, there was a banner that said, “TEXAS WILL NOT TAKE THE MARK OF THE BEAST”. Among other things written on the banner was the words, “vaccine, chip, ID 2020”.

This banner has made headlines and has become a source of mockery as some have allowed the events surrounding the coronavirus to bring out their worst fears. Such fears are the by-product of conspiracy theories and end time scenarios which are not aligned with the sound teachings of scripture.

The fears that people have regarding the “end times” often runs parallel with their political views, as the banner mentioned above proves, saying, “Texas will not take the Mark of the Beast.” Yet Texas is a State with nearly 30 million people and not all Christian. If there is a Mark of the Beast soon to be implemented (I say this to get a point across), these protesters seem to think they can impose their the decision regarding the Mark of the Beast on their fellow Texans. Where do they get such notions?

In Scripture, the Mark of the Beast is not something on a ballot box that people vote on, such as being implemented in Arkansas, but not in Texas. Again, Where do people get such ideas?!

One commenter on a you tube video made the following statement:

Amen! Glad people are waking up!!! This IS the beginning of the mark of the beast system AND glad Texas is awake. Wish WA State would wake the heck up too! Next will be a one world government and then one currency. This is ALL tied together.

Notice that this commentator’s view of the Mark of the Beast has nothing to do with sin and righteousness, Christians and non Christians. Instead, it is entirely political.  

The truth is, such public displays as that in the Texas protest weaken our witness for Christ. This is why I believe the greatest need within American Christianity is sound, wholesome doctrine. I can’t stress that enough. Consider the following from Jesus’s sermon on the Mount:

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. ~ Matthew 5:13

Jesus did not say this in view of taking a stand on political issues, or enforcing our morality on society through political stances. Instead, he says it in view of what is often referred to as the B-Attitudes. When the world sees people with the traits of those Jesus describes as poor in spirit, pure in heart, meek, peacemakers, etc., there is saltiness in our witness of Christ. Christ is exalted in the eyes of the world not by a political church, but a humble church.

Without getting into a discussion as to the timeline of the book of the Revelation, and whether or not the Mark of the Beast is past or future,  literal or figurative, lets just look at the text as it is written and see if it matches the fears people have.

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. ~ Revelation 13:16-18

And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. ~ Revelation 14:9-12

Notice that the Mark of the Beast is not  a vaccine to combat a virus to help people. The mark is specifically associated with those who worship the beast rather than God. Now consider the following from Revelation 15:

And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. 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. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest. ~ Revelation 15:1-4

The Mark of the Beast specifically applies to that which demands worship in opposition to the Living God. Now notice the following from Revelation 16:

And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image. And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments. And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. ~ Revelation 16:1-9

Notice that judgment was poured out on (1) men who had received the mark of the beast (2) the sea (3) the rivers and fountains of water (4) the sun. The men in this section were those who had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image. They are the ones which are referred to at the end: “and they repented not to give him glory.”

According to the text, the Mark of the Beast is not something that people deceptively receive against their will.  It is a mark that has to do with unrepentance towards God, opposition to God and worship of the beast, which opposes God. There also seems to be the inference that forgiveness is offered, but the people who have the mark are so given over to the beast they refuse to repent – “and they repented not to give him glory.”

The deeply rooted fear that the Mark of the Beast is something that even good people are going to be hoodwinked into accepting, and thus eternally doomed with no recourse, simply has no Biblical basis.
That anyone would actually think that Christians who love Jesus with all their heart will be tricked by the government into taking a vaccination for a virus, and consequently condemned to hell is nothing less than superstition. 

Such fears are not built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” ~ Romans 10:11

Many of the ideas that people have concerning the Mark of the Beast are founded solely on conspiracy theories and superstitions. Its unfortunate that people live in such fear as they interpret a literal mark from a symbolic beast, while believing the mark is something other than what is literally is in the text.

The truth is, no one, and I mean no one, truly knows how events regarding the coming of the Lord will all shake out. No one figured God out with the first coming of Christ, and no one will with his second coming either. It is in vain that men calculate and conspire and develop plans of how Bible prophecy will unfold before the return of Christ.

The truth is, they simply do not know, because God does not connect all the dots for us. He simply gives us signs and warnings and expects us to trust him.

The apostle Peter tells us that the things which pertain to the coming of the Day of the Lord are hard to understand. It should be noted, that some think Peter is referring to Paul’s writings when he makes this statement, but Peter is actually referring to eschatology which Paul had also addressed in his letter to Peter’s audience.

It is my firm conviction that the apostle Peter gives us the outline we need for how we are to live in expectation of the coming of the Lord.

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior.: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. ~ 2 Peter 3: 1-18

May I encourage you today to lay aside all the end time scenarios, plots, and conspiracies that you have been taught and embrace the words of the apostle Peter, and actually breath a sigh of relief. Jesus is coming, so live for him and stop worrying whether a vaccine might have a chip that would send you to hell.

The ungodly will be ungodly and even mock the promise of the coming of judgment, but God is merciful not willing that any should perish and patiently gives them time to repent. However, the Day of the Lord will come, and when it comes it will come suddenly, unexpectedly, as a thief. So knowing this, live holy and godly lives looking for the New Heavens and New earth wherein righteousness reigns.
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What does the Bible teach about the rapture?
https://rootedandgroundedinchrist.com/2019/02/24/what-does-the-bible-teach-about-the-rapture/

FULFILLING THE LAW BY THE POWER OF CHRIST

In John 8, the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus who was caught in adultery. According to the letter of the law, they had grounds to stone her. However, Jesus did not join them in condemning her. They had brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus because they wanted to trap him and prove they were right with regards to the law.

Jesus’s response to them was, “he that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” Jesus had compassion because he did not come to enforce the law. He came to fulfill it.

When Jesus declared what we often refer to as the B-Attitudes (blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek, blessed are the peace makers, blessed are the poor in heart, etc.,) He was teaching the people that which fulfills the law and the prophets. For this reason, Matthew tells us, “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” ~ Matthew 7: 28-29

In John 8, Jesus demonstrated what fulfilling the law actually looks like by showing compassion on the woman caught in adultery for “blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

In Matthew 22, a Jewish lawyer temped Jesus by asking him which is the great commandment in the law?” To which Jesus responded, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” ~ Matthew 22:37-40

According to Jesus, all the law and prophets hang on the commandments of love. The apostle Paul taught the very same thing, declaring that love is the fulfillment of the law.

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the lawFor this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. ~ Romans 13:8-10

Paul taught that we are not under the law, but were instead, empowered to fulfill the law by the Spirit of Christ.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. ~ Romans 8:1-4

Paul was not against the law, but understood its purpose. 

Now the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart (a pure heart is one of the B-Attitudes referred t by Jesus), and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeignedFrom which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. ~ 1 Timothy 1:5-11

Those who trust in Christ, are not under the law because the end of the law (i.e., the purpose of the law) is fulfilled in them as they follow the Spirit of Christ.

HOW TO BE SAVED

You can be saved no matter who you are or how bad you have been. It doesn’t matter if you have been a liar, an adulterer, a murderer, or any other, you can be saved.

The apostle Paul said the following to Corinthians:

“… do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

That’s the bad news, which precedes the good news. We cannot inherit the Kingdom of God in our sinful condition. Thankfully, Paul’s comment to the Corinthians did not end there, because the Corinthians had believed the gospel and had been saved from their sins. Paul goes on to say to them:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:11

When we are saved, God changes us by washing away our sins by the blood of Jesus. He sanctifies us, meaning he sets us apart as his people. And he justifies us, we are no longer condemned for our past sins.

According to the Bible, we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Thankfully, God sent his only begotten son Jesus, to die on the cross to save us from our sins. The Bible tells us that God demonstrated his love towards us by sending his Son to died for our sins.

Jesus is the gift of God for all humanity. Jesus laid down his perfect and holy life as a sacrifice to make atonement for all our sins. Jesus did this because he too loved us.

If you will simply believe in Jesus who died and rose again, and turn to God for forgiveness, he will save you.  You do not have to become religious. You do not have to fear about mistakes you may make in the future. Simply turn to God with a sincere heart and ask him to forgive your sins, and trust the saving of your soul into the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Be sincere and honest with God and he will give you the gift of His Holy Spirit to help you live your life for him through the power of Jesus Christ.

I would love to hear from you if this has helped you. Blessings.

 

CHRISTIANITY AND CORONAVIRUS

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation (your conduct) honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. ~ 1 Peter 2:11-16

The news of how some Christians are behaving during the coronavirus pandemic by defying governmental guidelines is disturbing. 

We all know what social distancing is by now, and we should all know why it is important to do our part as this virus could be in a person’s system before any symptoms appear. Yet some Christian ministers are acting as if they and their congregations are immune because they are in a church service, thus obeying God rather than man.

Defying the instructions of those in authority, who are actually trying to save lives, is not obedience to God. Rather it is disobedience to the clear instructions given to us by the apostle Peter. Peter’s instructions in the text above is the Word of God! Peter instructs us regarding how we should serve God and be examples of godliness with regards to submitting to governing authorities.

Yet the war cry of those who have chosen to be defiant is that of “religious freedom”, even though this has nothing to do with religious freedom. No one is taking away the freedom to worship and serve God. Serving God is much larger than meeting for a service to sing songs and a listen to a preacher deliver a sermon.

Real service to God is reflected in how we live in every arena of life, and when God’s people are equipped with wholesome and sound doctrine, they will response in times like these in a manner which honors God. If there were ever a time to show the world the love of Christ, that time is now. There are many ways in which christians can reflect the love of Christ to the world. Being defiant and putting people at risk is not one of them.

I recently watched a video of a European minister accusing his fellow ministers of being “sissies” and “pansies” who have been “neutered” because they had decided to use caution by cancelling in person worship services. There was absolutely nothing godly in making such nasty accusations.

This same minister also“predicted” America will be minimally affected by the coronavirus. His prediction has already been proven false, as the coronavirus has taken more precious lives in the United States than were lost by the terrorist attacks of 911.

At a time when people need hope and real leadership, why are some in ministry saying such things? Why are so many like this minister defying directives from local governments which are simply given to keep people safe? I think the answer to that is obvious. Promotion of oneself, rather than Christ, leads to bad judgment void of sound doctrine.

The minister mentioned above went on to say, “God is a very simple being to figure out.”  He said this in context to promoting his reckless view of faith, but true faith in God is not reckless. It is balanced with wholesome doctrine, as given by the apostle Peter at the beginning of this post.

Consider his comment in view of the apostle Paul’s view of God.

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. ~ Romans 11:33-36

Paul stood in Awe of the complexity of God whose ways are past finding out!

Through the prophet Isaiah, God says, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  ~ Isaiah 55:8-9

Consider also the words of the Preacher, (most likely King Solomon) I saw every work of God, and that a man is unable to comprehend the work that is done under the sun. Despite his efforts to search it out, he cannot find its meaning; even if the wise man claims to know, he is unable to comprehend.”~ Ecclesiastes 8:17

The truth is, the European minister cited above is simply promoting himself and not God.

Another minister, who is the pastor of a megachurch in Florida and who goes by the title “apostle” encouraged his parishioners to attend (in person) church services rather than to heed the warnings from officials regarding large gatherings. He is cited as having said, “Do you believe God would bring his people to his house to be contagious with the virus? Of course not.”

Rather than teaching his congregation to be considerate of their fellow man and to think of others by cooperating during a crisis, this so-called “apostle” attacked some of his own congregation, accusing them of fear for taking precaution and staying away.

He went on to say, If we die, we die for Christ. If we live, we live for Christ, so what do you lose?” This is not the view of a true shepherd. It is the view of a cult leader.

I could go on as there are many examples of ministers who have chosen to display reckless doctrine which is putting others at risk, but the good news is there are many who have chosen to use wisdom, and that is what times like these call for. We need wisdom and good judgment, coupled with mercy in the fear of God.

We are to fear God and reverence him because we do not always know what God is doing. God’s ways are higher than our ways, and if we are going to honor him we must walk humbly before him and compassionately towards others.

People are dying, and many are in dire straits as uncertainties abound. As Christians, we must to be considerate and compassionate, while being people of wisdom and grace, and God will be glorified through us if we do so.