The Rapture is one of those Bible teachings promoted by some that draws all kinds of attention. It is dramatic - millions of people all just vanishing at the same moment! It is sobering – what is left behind is a world that rapidly sinks into chaos and destruction! It is scary – God’s judgment pronounced in an instant and you are either in or you are out! But the question is – is it true? Is this a real and legitimate teaching of Scripture we should truly heed or is it a fabrication of the minds of men based on a misrepresentation of Scripture? Let’s find out!
Current Events and Prophecy
The Bible often tells us what is going to happen before it happens. Sometimes its prophecies are very specific and sometimes they are shrouded in symbols, but in all cases they tell us about the future. So, what is the future? Our world has come to a point where it has the capacity to destroy all living things. What is going to happen with this great power? There are several Bible prophecies that can be interpreted to not only verify this destruction but seem to graphically describe it as well! Are we headed for nuclear holocaust? Does the Bible verify such a horrible end? Is this all in God’s plan?
We all know that Jesus taught us to forgive. If your brother trespasses against you seven times in a day, Jesus says to forgive. Okay, while this may be difficult, we can see its value and strive to live up to that standard. But, but what about when someone commits a horrible crime – what about when someone guns down in cold blood, innocent God fearing people in church – at a Bible study? Is the same lesson of forgiveness relevant? Do the teachings of Jesus include forgiving those who are simply and purely evil in their actions?
A few weeks ago we began to tell the story of the dramatic events that led up to the conversion of the Centurion Cornelius to Christianity. Because the expansion of Christianity to Gentiles was such a radical shift in God’s methods, radical measures had to be taken! Today we will finish the story and see how its conclusion would change the history of Christian faith by the inclusion of you and me!
Sometimes things need to change. When there is a great plan in progress, the need for great change is likely to be a part of that plan. Since Adam’s fall from grace, God’s plan for man’s redemption has been punctuated by changes, including the great Flood which ended the old world, the calling of Abraham which began the age of the Patriarchs, and the death of Jacob which ushered in the age of Jewish favor. Each change had a distinct purpose. Today’s story about the conversion of Cornelius signaled that another change was on the horizon – a change that would be played out through the experiences of the Apostle Peter and Cornelius, the first Gentile convert. God’s plan was progressing and great change was necessary. But why Cornelius? Why a soldier?
Today is a special day, for it was on this day over 2,000 years ago Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the adoration of the crowd. This would begin the final series of events that would lead to his death. Today is another anniversary as well, for it was on this day over 1,400 years before Jesus came, all of Israel was to take a lamb into their homes in preparation for the Passover and their miraculous delivery from slavery. Now, either this is a startling coincidence or it is a startling revelation of God’s plans and purposes...guess which answer we agree with?
Several weeks ago we looked into the life and times of Noah, the righteous man of God who built the Ark upon dry ground in obedience to the will and direction of God. The flood came and destroyed a world that had not only become a society without God, it had become a society that destroyed God. Spirit and human being alike took the goodness of God’s creation, mixed it into a forbidden hybrid formula of intelligence and form that may have resembled God’s intentions on the outside, but on the inside was a force that rebelled against all that God stood for. The Bible tells us that the resulting destruction was a preview of future destruction to come…has the full length feature of that preview arrived?
Religion is a powerful thing. It wields a sword of conviction with which humanity will go to face great challenges. Depending on its purity, the results of this conviction can be very good or very bad. Religion can also wield a spear of bigotry that can be passionately thrown at a perceived enemy who is far away…unfortunately, Christianity and Islam both carry such weapons and have both been known to use them for harm. Is it possible that God is behind both of these religions?
Enemies. For some of us, naming them is easy – we can put a name and a face to them and recite the reasons we have to consider them enemies. For others, the idea of an enemy may be more related to a general group who may have a different ideology, or a different political perspective. Whatever makes someone your enemy, the question remains, how do you treat them? Jesus says to love our enemies, but is that really a practical statement? Doesn’t loving an enemy overlook and minimize the very reasons that they may justifiably be our enemies? Stay with us!
Jesus taught us about many things. He taught us how to live, what to focus on, how to be a good neighbor, how to be selfless. He taught us what the most and least important things are. He taught us the simplicity of faith and the magnificence of faith in God. Jesus also taught us about being chosen of God and all that such choosing entails. On this prorgram we will look at what Jesus taught us about the chosen nation of Israel by use of the example of a fig tree. This is a part of his teaching that rarely gets much attention…