Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jesus Appearance (10) - Last Trumpet

Paul describes the Appearance of Jesus in his first letter to the Thessalonians. He begins by encouraging Christians not to be sad about Christians who have died. Jesus died and rose again to give us hope beyond death. That hope is fulfilled in the Appearance of Jesus.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever (1 Thes 4:16,17).
God is always in control, so the Last Day begins with a command from heaven. The heavenly archangel will sound his trumpet to announce the end of the age and a time of restitution (Lev 25:9). The heavens will be opened. The spiritual and physical worlds will merge in one new reality. From the perspective of heaven, it will seem like Jesus has gone down to earth. From the perspective of the earth, it will seem that the Christians have gone up. The reality is that the worlds have always been close. The appearance of Jesus brings them together, so we can be with our Lord forever.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Jesus Appearance (9) - Handing over the Kingdom

History climaxes when Jesus hands his Kingdom back to his Father. He does not return to establish his Kingdom. He appears when it is completed.

But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he appears (parousia), those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet (1 Cor 15:23-25).
Jesus reigns in heaven until the Holy Spirit, working through the suffering church, has overcome all opposition to the gospel (Psalm 110:1). When his Kingdom has come to fullness and run its course, Jesus will appear to bring in the end of all things. He then hands the Kingdom back to God the Father, so can get his next project underway.
Then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all (1 Cor 15:28).

Friday, July 29, 2011

Jesus Appearance (8) - Last Judgment

John saw the same events when heaven was opened.

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them (Rev 20:11.
When the glory of Jesus is revealed, the earth and sky shrink into insignificance.

The appearance of Jesus leads to the last judgment.
I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done (Rev 20:12-13).
When the last judgment is complete, death is destroyed forever.
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death(Rev 20:14).
Paul described the same event in his letter to the Corinthians.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Cor 15:28).
When heaven and earth merge, Christians will fulfil their hope and experience the joy of eternal life in the presence of Jesus.
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you (1 Thes 2:19)?
May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus appears with all his holy ones (1 Thes 3:13).
Those who have rejected Jesus, will go to eternal destruction.
They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he appears to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed (2 Thes 1:9-10).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jesus Appearance (7) - Earth and Sky

The earth and sky will be totally changed by the second resurrection. With the physical and spiritual dimensions merged, earth will seem much less grand.

We look at the stars in the sky and are filled with wonder. We look at pictures of the earth taken from space and think it is amazing. However, when see the glory of the spiritual realms, the physical world will shrivel into insignificance. Earth and sky will seem to collapse and disappear. Physical things will not have changed, but we will be seeing them in correct perspective for the first time. We think that space is immense, but when we see the spiritual realm, it will suddenly seem small. As we see the glory of the spiritual realm for the first time, earth and space will shrink away.

Some of this is captured this woodenly literal translation of Peter’s prophecy.

The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The spiritual world will come near with a booming, the orderly arrangement of things will be loosed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be exposed…. That day will bring about the releasing of the spiritual dimensions by fire, and the order of things will liquefy in the heat (2 Pet 3:10,12).
The elements will seem to be dissolving before our eyes. The stars will seem to be rolling up like a scroll. They will not be disappearing, but the beauty and wonder of the spiritual realms is so wonderful, that the earth and sky, as we know them, will fade into insignificance. Such a dramatic event will produce plenty of heat and light.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jesus Appearance (6) - All Changed

Paul explained to the Corinthians that we would be all changed at the last trumpet.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed (1 Cor 15:51-52).
When the angel sounds the last trumpet, we will all be changed. The previous verse describes part of this change.
And just as we have worn the image of the earthly man, so shall we wear the image of the heavenly man (1 Cor 15:49).
We now live with all the constraints of earthly people. We cannot see the spiritual dimension of life, except by the eyes of faith. We will change to be like heavenly people. That will enable us to see the spiritual world as well. In a twinkling of an eye, the spiritual and the physical world will be merged together into one reality. That will change everything.

The Appearance of Jesus is the result of the second resurrection. Everyone who has ever lived on earth will be raised to new life. This resurrection will enable everyone to see both the spiritual world and the physical world. It will seem like all things have come together.
Although they were already there, those who believe will feel like they have been taken up to be with Jesus. Those who do not believe in Jesus will see him in all his glory. As he appears in glory for the first time, it will seem like he has come right down to earth again.

We assume that Jesus can only appear by returning to earth, but this is not correct. When the veil that prevents us from seeing the spiritual dimension of life is removed, he will suddenly appear to everyone. He will not have moved. We will have been changed to see his glory.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jesus Appearance (5) - Second Resurrection

Human eyes will be opened to see into the spiritual dimension at the second resurrection. Christians often get confused about this topic, but we must understand that there are two resurrections. John described the first resurrection in his gospel and his vision.

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.… They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years…This is the first resurrection (Rev 20:4-5).
Most Christians believe that John was describing something that happens at the end of the age. This is a lie of the enemy to rob us of the truth of who we are in Jesus.

The first resurrection is not a future event. It occurs when we were born again to new life by faith in Jesus. Paul taught that those who are baptised into Christ, have not only died with him, but are raised with him (Rom 6:1-10).
Having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God….God made you alive with Christ (Col 2:12,13).
God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:6).
These two verses are past tense. A Christian are united by faith with Christ in his death and resurrection. We have died with Jesus and been raised to new life in him. The moment we believe, we are born again into this new life. In the spiritual dimension, we have been raised up to sit at the right hand of the Father to reign with Jesus. We do not see this, but John did. Heaven was opened to him and he saw all those who believe sitting on thrones. This is the first resurrection. It is a spiritual resurrection that on affects those who believe in Jesus.

The second resurrection occurs at the end of the Kingdom age.
The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended (Rev 20:5).
Everyone on earth will be raised to life.
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened… The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them... (Rev 20:12-13).
The first resurrection gives new spiritual life to believers. Those outside Christ continue to be spiritually dead. The second resurrection is the general resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked at the end of the age.

John distinguished these two resurrections in his gospel. The first resurrection is for those who believe.
I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live (John 5:24-25).
This resurrection has already occurred for those who hear Jesus’ words and believe. The second resurrection affects everyone.
Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out--those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned (John 5:28-29).
The second resurrection touches everyone, whether they have done good or evil. This resurrection changes everyone. One effect of this resurrection is that everyone will be changed, and be able to see clearly into the spiritual world.

Prior to the second resurrection, some Christians are be able discern these things better than others. Elisha opened the eyes of his servant to see the spiritual armies fighting for Israel (2 Kings 6:17). Daniel discovered that geopolitical events are the outworking for a struggle betwen a few big angels (Dan 10). Paul knew that real struggle happens in the spiritual realms (Eph 6:12). John received an amazing revelation of the spiritual realm at the end of his life. We may not see as clearly as John, but every Christian who has shared in the first resurrection should have some insight into what is happening in the spiritual realms. Paul prayed that the Ephesians would gain this insight.
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people (Eph 1:3,18).
As we walk in the Spirit and grow in faith, our insight into the spiritual should increase, but it will never be complete. John received an amazing revelation, but even he could not fully grasp what his spiritual eyes had seen. He just recorded it carefully for those who would come after him.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away (1 Cor 13:9-10).
When the second resurrection occurs, the perfect will have come. The partial will disappear and everyone will be able to see the spiritual dimension as clearly as we now see the physical world.

The first resurrections enables us to see by faith. The second resurrection is a real event that takes our seeing of the spiritual dimension to a new level. It does not change the universe, but it dramatically changes the way that people see it. The changes that Jesus worked through the cross will be clearly visible to everyone.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Jesus Appearance (4) - Great Gaze

When Jesus ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives, near Bethany, his disciples stood watching as he disappeared behind the clouds. An angel spoke to them and said,

Why do ye stand gazing into the heaven? This Jesus who was received from you into the heaven, shall so come in the same way as you gazed on him going into heaven (Acts 1:11).
We assume that the angel was saying that Jesus would return in the same way that he departed, by coming down from behind a cloud. This is not quite correct. The angel said that the “gazing” would be the same. The disciples were gazing into the spiritual world, but seeing nothing. The angel promised that Jesus would appear when people are able to gaze into the spiritual realm and see.

The Appearance of Jesus is a real event. It occurs when people are changed so that the can see correctly into both the physical and spiritual worlds.


While America is roasting in a heatwave, we awoke to four inches of snow this morning. We only get snow one year in three and often it does not settle, so this is a bit different for us. I am working from home, so I do not have to go out in.

Jesus Appearance (3) - Great Separation

People who have not been born again will see Jesus clearly and be almost destroyed by the glorious view. Those who are evil will be blown away by his holiness. The only reason that evil has been able to survive is that it has been shielded from the spiritual realm. This might be the reason why Jesus Appearance cannot happen until most of the people on earth have come to faith. As soon as evil begins to emerge again, it is destroyed before the opportunity is lost.

Once the spiritual and the physical realms are opened up and brought together, evil will be blown away.

There will be a great separation.

That is how it will be at the appearance (parousia) of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left (Matt 24:39-41).
From the human perspective, Christians and non-Christians often seem to be working along aside each other. When we all see clearly into the spiritual dimensions of reality, we will suddenly realise that we are actually living in a totally different space. It will seem like we have been pushed apart.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Jesus Appearance (3) - Seated in Heaven

Our view of reality will change dramatically. When we were born again of the spirit we came alive in the spiritual dimension of reality. When we were baptised into Jesus, we died with him and rose to sit with him at the right hand of the father in heaven.

God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:6).
All Christians are seated with Jesus and surrounded by his angels, but we do not see it.

If we could see ourselves as the angels see, we would see ourselves sitting in the presence of the Father and surrounded by millions of angels. We are not just sitting there passively, but doing the stuff that God wants done to bring in the Kingdom. In Revelation 19:11-18, John describes an army of people dressed in white robes riding to victory on white horses.
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 19:11-16).
This was not a description of the second coming as is usually claimed.

John was trying to describe a spiritual reality, outside the scope of human seeing. He was explaining to the suffering church appears how it appears to those who can see into the spiritual world, during the great Gospel Advance that brings in the Kingdom.

The golden crown and the white horses remind us that Jesus is a king above all other kings. He does not fight with physical weapons, but bring justice through the proclamation of the gospel. His robe is dipped in blood to remind us of his suffering. The armies following are also dressed in white robes, representing their suffering for the sake of righteousness.

John was attempting to give us a true perspective on reality. A church that is being severely persecuted and is being decimated by political powers looks very different in the spiritual dimension. To Christians involved in the struggle, the suffering feels intolerable and the gospel seems to be going backwards. In the spiritual realm, these Christians are a mighty army following Jesus to build his Kingdom. Pushing this marvellous passage to the end of the age robs those who suffer for Jesus and the kingdom of a great promise of hope.

John received a special gift at the end of his life and was a given a glimpse into the spiritual dimension of life. (Adam and Eve could probably see like this before the fall, as they were aware of God walking in the garden.) When the last trumpet sounds, we will all be able to see as John could see during his vision.

When our eyes are opened to full reality, we will actually see where we have been since we were born again. We will see ourselves sitting at the right hand of Jesus and surround by millions of angels. This is where we have always been, but apart from a few like John, most of us have been unable to see it. It will feel like we have been caught up into a different world, but we will just be seeing for the first time, where we have always been.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Jesus Appearance (2) - Spiritual Interjection

The Appearance of Jesus is a massive interjection of the spiritual dimension into our physical world. It is difficult to describe in human words, so we should be careful when interpreting the bible passages that describe it. The popular view that Jesus will come down from space like a bungee jumper on a skyhook is misleading. The idea that Christians will shoot into the sky like a crowd of human skyrockets fails to understand the reality that we live in.

We tend think of heaven and earth as two different places, with heaven way up there and earth way down here, and a huge gap in between. This gap is real, but the assumption that these two worlds are far apart is misleading. We live in a multi-dimensional universe in which the spiritual dimensions exist in parallel to the four-dimensional physical world. Angels can move between the spiritual and physical dimensions, but humans only see the physical side of existence.

At the ascension, Jesus appeared to go up into the air and behind a cloud. He was not shooting for a far distant planet, like an interstellar rocket. Rather, he moved back into the spiritual realm from which he had come. Because the eyes of the disciples were calibrated to see the physical world, he was seemed to go into the sky and disappear. If they could have seen into the spiritual world, they would have realised that he had simply moved across the spiritual divide into a different realm.

Jesus appears when our seeing changes. The spiritual realms are currently hidden from the people on earth. They will be be opened up for everyone to see. Paul referred to the “epiphaneia” of Jesus’ “parousia” (2 Thes 2:8). “Epiphaneia” means “manifestation. Paul was explaining that the spiritual dimensions will be blown open and be visible to everyone on earth.

The limits of our human seeing make the physical world appear bright and real. The spiritual dimension seems distant and dim to us, as it must be perceived by faith. When our seeing is changed, the physical world will fade into obscurity. As the spiritual world will come into clearer focus, we will be stunned by its glory.
Jesus does not come back to earth. The spiritual world is opened up and joined with the physical world and everyone sees the result.

Before Jesus was born as a baby, he existed with the Father and the Spirit in the spiritual realm.

He was with God in the beginning (John 1:2).
He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness (Phil 2:7).
After his resurrection, he returned to the spiritual realm from which he had come (Acts 2:32-33; Phil 2:9).
He raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the spiritual realms (Eph 1:20).
When our spiritual eyes are opened to see clearly, the spiritual dimensions of life will suddenly be real. It will seem like he has come down to us. The truth is that he has always been close; just hidden from our eyes. He has always been there, but when the curtain is opened, everyone will see the indescribable glory of his presence. When we begin to see reality clearly, Jesus will suddenly be very close. Everyone on earth will see Jesus seated on the throne at the right hand of the Father. He has always been there, but from our human perspective, it will seem like he has returned.

Jesus will appear on the stage. He has always been there, but when the curtain is pulled back, everyone will see him.

►Jesus Appearance (1) - Parousia

The short season that marks the end of the Kingdom age will be cut short when Jesus appears on the stage. This event is often referred to as the “second coming”, but this phrase is not used in the scriptures, so I will not use it. The Greek word is “parousia”, which means “appearance” or “arrival”. It is a much stronger word than “erchomai,” the usual Greek word for “come”, which The epochal event that marks the end of history is the Appearance of Jesus (parousia).

The Bibles says that his appearance will light up the sky from one end to the other. Those who believe him will be share his glory with him. The elements will melt and the heavens and earth will seem to pass away.

The first half of Matthew 24 refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, but Jesus inserted a brief description of his Appearance by way of contrast.

For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the appearance (parousia) of the Son of Man (Matt 24:27).
No one will miss this event. His appearance will light up the entire world like the lightening lights up the sky. Jesus will be visible to everyone on the earth.

A good analogy would be a rock star waiting in the wings while the atmosphere builds. His entrance onto the stage in a climax of sound and light would be called an appearance.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Christchurch on Avon

Big chunks of the central business district of Christchurch were destroyed by the earthquakes. The city council is consulting about rebuilding the city. The following paragraphs are from the submission that I made. I do not like the idea of elected councils deciding the shape of a city, because a real city is created by the decisions of the millions of people who live in it. The benefit of my proposal is that it could be brought about by the owners of buildings in Oxford Terrace, if only the council would take cars out of one of the nicest spots in the city.

The River
The Avon River makes Christchurch special. Many cities are built on a large river, but Christchurch is unique in having a lovely spring-fed river flowing through the heart of the city. Christchurch should be rebuilt around the river.

We should stop seeing the river as dividing the city, and start seeing it as the feature that links the central city together. Motor vehicles should be taken out of Oxford Terrace from the Hospital to Madras Street, so it could be turned into a pedestrian way which links the city together around the river.

The best spots on the river are the south banks where the river runs east to west, as they combine a river view with a sunny aspect. Mona Vale is an example. It is a lovely sunny spot with great views of the river.

The two best sites on the south bank in the central city are totally wasted. Oxford Terrace between the Hospital and Tiffanies and Oxford terrace carries two lanes of motor traffic. Oxford Terrace between Colombo and Manchester has angle parking. These are both lovely sunny spots with great views of the river. These two treasures should be taken back for the people of Christchurch when the city is rebuilt.

Retail Precinct
The people of Christchurch deserted the central city shops more than a decade ago. Earthquake recovery plans will not bring them back, so fewer shops will be needed in the central city. They should be brought together in one place, rather than being spread across the ruined city.

Cashel Mall is the wrong place for the main shopping precinct. It runs east to west and has tall buildings on the north side, so it gets dark and cold in winter. No one wants to go there.
The shape of the city should not be driven by a desire to restore Ballentynes, as it represents the past, and not the future of retailing. Ballentynes should probably be moved out to Merivale where it belongs.

If Oxford Terrace becomes a real Terrace Walkway, the central city shopping precinct should be re-established on Oxford Terrace between the Hospital and the Bridge of Remembrance. This part of Oxford Terrace has a lovely outlook over the river that is wasted as a one-way street. It is sheltered from the southerly rain and has a northerly aspect that would let the sun in all year round.

The ground floors of all the buildings on this part of Oxford Terrace could be converted into retail premises. With motor vehicles gone, there would be plenty of room for some of these shops to flow out onto to the street while still leaving plenty of room for a pedestrian walkway and stalls and outdoor cafes. Architects could have a ball designing something that fits the environment.
  • Tuam Street could provide the goods entrance for the shopping complex, so there would be no need for vehicles to go onto the front of the shopping precinct on Oxford Terrace.

  • If necessary, car parking buildings could be built on the south side of Tuam St to support the Shopping Precinct.

  • A low height restriction could be put on buildings on the north side of the river to prevent them from shutting the sun out of the river and Oxford Terrace.

  • Traffic from Hagley and Riccarton Ave should be channelled into Tuam Street and St Asaph to keep it away from the River.

  • The one-way traffic should be removed from Durham Street to prevent it from acting as a barrier to pedestrian movement around Oxford Terrace.

  • Manchester St has lost its way as the best buildings in it have collapsed. It could be turned into a one-way street going south in place of Durham.

  • If Montreal Street is still needed for north/south traffic, it should be put into a tunnel under the shopping precinct and the river, so it does not divide the shopping precinct.

Dining and Entertainment Precinct
The existing “Strip” could continue to operate as the dining and entertainment precinct that flows off the end of the shopping precinct.

Tourist Precinct
Oxford Terrace between Colombo and Manchester Streets is another wasted area with a northerly aspect and view over the river. This could be rebuilt as a tourism precinct. The tourism shops currently in Colombo Street could be brought into this area and interspersed with cafes and restaurants targeted at tourists. Some new tourist hotels might be built in this area, but back from Oxford Terrace walk way. The PWC building has lost tenants so it might need to be converted into a tourist hotel looking out on the tourist precinct.

Shape of the City
The old city was shaped by a restrictive grid designed in England. It did not fit the natural landscape and constrains the natural flow of the city. An Oxford Terrace walkway could join together the hospital, a new shopping precinct, the central police station, CCC building, the entertainment precinct, the library, the Art Gallery, the courthouse, the Town Hall, a new tourism precinct and several large hotels. It would also link with Worcester Boulevard, which joins Cathedral square with the Art Centre. Together they link the city creating natural flows from North to South and East to West.

Free hop-on hop-off buses could travel both ways round Cambridge Terrace from the Hospital to Madras St, stopping at each bridge over the river to give easy access to each of the precincts. Some might do a loop down Worcester Boulevard and back down Rolleston Avenue to get back onto Cambridge Terrace. This bus service would give people easy movement without cluttering the Oxford Terrace Walkway with vehicles. Goods services would enter the precincts through the back off Tuam and Amargh Streets, while people would gain access through the free bus service and taxis on Cambridge Terrace.

Little Boxes

When I was growing up Pete Seger released a song called Little Boxes. The music sounded like a song for children, but the lyrics by Malvina Reynolds were a protest against the dullness of modern suburbia.

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky,
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.
About 5000 houses in Christchurch have been allocated to the red zone. If Christians are ten percent of the population, nearly 500 Christians could be planning to build new homes at the same time. Many others will have to rebuild their houses on the same site. I hope that they don’t just build more little boxes made out of ticky tacky that are the same as the world is building.

I hope that Christian architects and builders will come with plans for new housing developments that are designed to strengthen the cohesiveness of neighbourhoods and local communities. If they could create an exciting vision for living differently, this could be a wonderful opportunity.

Many Christians seem to planning to move out to the small towns on the outskirts of the city. I can understand why they would want to get away from the liquefaction and destruction, but I am not sure how that fits with God’s plan for the city. If the devil was trying to destroy his God’s work, and Christians leave the place where God is working, the Kingdom of God could be held back.

Lost Home

Following serious earthquakes in September, February and June, Christchuch has been divided into three zones, green, orange and red. The government has decided that houses in the red zone cannot be rebuilt or repaired, because the land is too badly damaged. They have decided to buy all houses in the red zone for the Capital Value, a valuation that is assessed every third year for calculating local authority rates (property taxes paid to city and county councils).

Although the concrete foundation of our house is cracked and probably cannot be repaired, it is still fine to live in. However, we have been assigned to the red zone, so we will eventually have to move out of our house. The government will make us an offer in August and we have nine months to choose between two different offers. Once we have accepted the offer, we will have a year to find another house.

We have nearly two years to move, but it feels a bit funny, because we felt that the Lord led us to this part of the city, and we had not heard him telling us to move on. So we are seeking wisdom about what we should do.

Hope for Christchurch

When a few of us gathered to pray for Christchurch last week, I thought I heard the Lord say something like this.

My love for Christchurch has not changed.
My purposes for the city are still the same.
A lot of stuff has been destroyed, but my plan for the city has not been side-tracked.
The stuff that is built on a true foundation still stands. It has not been shaken.
My plans for Christchurch are still on course.
Seek my purposes for Christchurch.
Nurture them!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Little Season (3) - Fire from Heaven

The devil will succeed in building support, but he will not achieve his objective.

But fire came down from heaven and devoured them (Rev 20:9).
This fire from heaven is not literal. The event that follows the fire is the last judgment, so it must be a reference to the appearance of Jesus (Rev 20:11-15). This is confirmed in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians.
When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels, he will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus (2 Thes 1:7-8).
The blazing fire is the second coming.
Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming/parousia (2 Thes 2:9).
The Man of Lawlessness and his followers will be destroyed by the splendour of Jesus appearance.

Judgment usually comes to produce repentance, but this time there is no hope of repentance, because the fate of every person on earth will be sealed. Each one will go to the last judgment and receive the consequences of his choices. The work of redemption will be complete and the Book of Life will be closed, forever. We should not speak of the appearance of Jesus lightly, as the fate of many people will be sealed with a certainty that is equalled only be death.

Jesus appearance marks the end of the Little Season and the end of history.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Little Season (2) - Devil Unbound

The Kingdom of God will continue until God’s purposes are complete and the full numbers of people have come to faith. When all his promises and purposes on earth have been fulfilled, he will set in train the series of events that bring the Kingdom age to a close. The devil and forces will be released for one last time.

When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison (Rev 20:7).
He does not escape, but is released by the Holy Spirit to achieve a divine purpose.

God demonstrates his infinite mercy by giving Satan him one last chance to redeem himself. He was created by God for a special purpose, but fell from his exalted position and became the enemy of good. Despite the terrible harm Satan has done to the world, God will give him one last chance to fulfil his calling before the end of the age. God is so gracious that he gives the devil an opportunity to do the right thing. He will never be able to accuse God of not giving him a chance to learn from his mistakes.

The devil will not take the opportunity given to him, but will go out to do evil by getting control of the nations again.
He will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number, they are like the sand on the seashore (Rev 20:8).
To score a victory over Jesus, he will stir up rebellion among the nations. He is not creative, so he will use the same lies about God that he used at the beginning. People all over the world to the “four corners of the earth” will join this rebellion. “Gog and Magog” is a reference to the bulk of the nations rebelling against God.

People all over the world will begin to grumble against the government of God. They will spread lies about the Christian influence in society in an attempt to undermine the purified the church.
They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves (Rev 20:9).
This is not a literal war. The camp of God’s people represents all the people in the world who have chosen to follow Jesus. The beloved city is used Revelation to represent the Kingdom of God. Gog and Magog represent worldwide
opposition to God. Those who come under the devils power will begin to persecute the church.
Persecution will be a new experience for the Christians who live in this season. Most will be unprepared. Those who do not understand that God has released the devil will be shocked by the rapid deterioration of the spiritual climate. Fortunately, this season of rebellion will be quite brief. It is described as a “short time”.
After that, he must be set free for a short time(Rev 20:3)
During the Kingdom season, memory of the evil that prevailed during the Times of the Gentiles will grow dim. Some Christians will find it hard to believe that Satan and his angels truly evil. Such evil will seem impossible to people who are living in a golden age. Some will consider that Satan and his followers have been treated harshly by God.

He will give the devil a brief time at the end of history to reveal his true character to. This season when he is allowed to deceive the nations once more will give the people of the world a brief taste of the horrors of evil. After this experience, it will be obvious that the devil and his followers deserve their fate (Rev 20:10).

Monday, July 18, 2011

Little Season (1) - Satan was Bound

The season ushered by the Man of Lawlessness is called the "little season" or "short Time" The passage that describes this season is not well understood.

And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time (Rev 20:1-3).
The binding of the devil is not a future event as most Christians assume, because the Devil was totally defeated by Jesus’ victory on the cross.
Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Col 2:15).
Jesus has already done everything that has to be done to destroy the Devil’s power He proved this by casting out demons wherever he went (Matt 12:29). However, since he ascended into heaven, Jesus can only work on earth through his body. He won a major judicial victory on the cross, but it must be enforced on earth by the Holy Spirit working through the church. Jesus challenged his disciples to exercise this authority as long as they remained on earth.
Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matt 18:18).
Jesus repeated this statement to stress that its importance (Matt 16:9). The devil works in the spiritual realm, but God’s people on earth have authority to bind everything every evil power in that realm.

During the Times of the Gentiles, the church does not use this authority very effectively, so the devil continues to operate as though he had never been bound. As Christians suffer for the gospel during the Times of Distress, they will get a new revelation of the defeat of the devil and their power to bind him. The Kingdom of God will come to fulfilment when the Church gets to grips with this authority and binds him completely. Throughout the Times of the Kingdom, the church will be on the top of its game and ensure that he is bound and powerless.

John said that the devil is bound for a thousand years (Rev 20:3). This is not a literal thousand years. A thousand equals ten to the power of three. Ten represents completeness and three is perfection, so a thousand equals perfect completeness. The thousand years describes the season when the Kingdom of God has perfect fulfilment. The time may last for much longer than a thousand of years, but throughout that time, the Devil is totally bound.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

►Man of Lawlessness

The epochal event that marks end the Times of the Kingdom is the coming of the Man of Lawlessness. Paul describes this man in his second letter to the Thessalonians. They had been unsettled by prophecies and false rumours that the second coming had already occurred. People explains that Jesus will not come again until after "the rebellion".

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction (2 Thes 2:3).
An evil man will lead a rebellion against God’s law at the end of the age. This man is called the Man of Lawlessness . He will be destroyed at the Second Coming.

As his name suggests, this man leads a rebellion against God’s law. (A few Greek manuscripts call him Man of Sin in verse 3, but not in verses 8 and 9. Lawlessness is at the heart of what he does so it is an appropriate name.) He will claim that local judges applying God’s law are not producing justice. He will advocate the restoration of human government to bring “proper” justice. Those who feel aggrieved by the decision of godly judges will join him in agitating for change.

Paul explains that this man has not yet come, but is held back until the proper time.
You know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way (2 Thes 2:6-7).
The Holy Spirit is the one who holds back the power of lawlessness. This power was at work through the Roman Empire in Paul’s time. When the Times of the Gentiles are complete, the Holy Spirit will completely restrain this power of lawlessness. At the end of the age, the Holy Spirit will release his restraint on evil, and the Man of Lawlessness will emerge.

When he first emerges the Man of Lawlessness will appear to be wise and good, but his true nature will soon be revealed.
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing (2 Thes 2:9,10).
These miracles, signs and wonders, might be worked using demonic powers. It is more likely they refer to an attempt to improve society using the powers of human government. He will promise to make the world a better place using political powers.

Lawlessness is not the absence of law. Lawlessness is rejecting God’s law and replacing it with human laws. The Man of Lawlessness will teach his followers that the world has changed and that God’s law is not sufficiently sophisticated to be a basis for justice in a modern world. He will advocate a return to democracy as a superior form of government. People who feel maligned by God’s justice will join him in his efforts to establish new laws using democratic processes.

Some people who appear to be living righteous lives will begin delighting in unrighteousness, but this will make them vulnerable to deception (2 Thes 2:12).
They refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie (2 Thes 2:10-11).
These people stop trusting in Jesus salvation and will begin to believe the lie of political power. This lie was discredited during the Time of Distress, but the passing of time allows it to take hold again. The Man of Lawlessness will stir up this discontent to instigate a rebellion against God’s law.

The Man of Lawlessness should not be called the Antichrist. He is a political leader, whereas anyone who denies Jesus divinity is called antichrist (1 John 2:22). The Man of Lawlessness must not be confused with the Beast of Revelation. The Beast is a national empire, whereas the Man of Lawlessness is a political leader. They operate in different seasons. The Beast rises to power during the Time of Distress, whereas the Man of Lawlessness is closely linked with the second coming of Jesus.

The lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming (2 Thes 2:8).
Jesus will overthrow the Man of Lawlessness on the day of his second coming.
This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels (2 Thes 1:7).

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kingdom of God (14) - How Long

How long will the season of the Kingdom last? The Bible does not say. However, since the Times of the Gentiles went on for 2000 years, the Kingdom of God should last at least as long, or much longer. This is God’s best season and there is no suggestion in the scriptures that he will cut it short.
According to Revelation, a huge multitude will be in heaven.

I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language (Rev. 7:9)
John was promised that the number of people who get to heaven will be far more than can be counted. The angels have been counted and their number is huge.
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand (Rev 5:11).
This is a big number, but the number of Christians will eventually be far greater. An immense number of people must eventually come to salvation for this promise to be fullfiled. Abraham was promised the number of stars in the sky (Gen 15:5).

Since the time of Jesus, several billion people have come to faith in Jesus, far short of the multitude that John and Abraham were promised. History will have to go on for much longer for this countless multitude of people to be brought to faith in Jesus.

If the world were to end now, the number of people lost would far exceed those who are saved. This score makes God seem quite mean, as the vast majority of people who have lived on earth will go to eternal destruction. This impression is wrong, because it judges God’s performance on the first half of the game, when half the team is missing and the coach is seriously constrained.

By the time the game is complete, the score will have changed dramatically. During the second half, most of those who live on earth will be saved and only a minority lost. The second half could be five times longer than the first half, so the total saved will be absolutely huge. The fifteen billion people lost during the Times of the Gentiles will seem minute compared to the thousands of billions that will come to Jesus in the future. The final score will be far more respectable, and better reflect God’s character.

Our God is a gracious and generous. He will not be stingy with salvation. He will allow history to go on for long enough to ensure that the number of those saved will far exceed the number who have been lost. To get thousands of billions of people into the kingdom, life on earth will have to go on for a good many more generations.

God promised at least five times that he is faithful to a thousand generation (Deut 7:9, 1 Chron 16:15).
He remembers his covenant forever,
the promise he made,
for a thousand generations (Ps 105:8).
Some numbers in scriptures are figurative, but if any number deserves to be taken literally, surely this is it. For God is to keep this promise covenant, a thousand generations of people would have to live on earth subsequent to his promise.

A new generation is born on earth about every twenty years, so we have had about 500 generations since the time of Abraham. This means that another 500 generations on earth would have to live on earth for this promise to be fulfilled. That will take another 10,000 years, which is just long enough to get the thousands of billions of people that God wants into his kingdom.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Kingdom of God (13) - Isaiah's Promise

Isaiah gave a wonderful promise.

Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.
They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people;
my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.
They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them.
Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,” says the LORD (Is 65:20-25).
This prophecy is so splendid that most Christians assume it describes eternal life. This is not true. People still die, so it applies to life on this earth. The prophecy is a revelation of the wonderful world that the Holy Spirit will create on earth. This is characterised by:
  • Sickness defeated.
  • Long and full lifes.
  • Prosperous economy
  • Poverty gone
  • Productive capital for everyone
  • Secure and safe homes
  • No war
  • No crime
  • Blessed by God
  • Animal world transformed
  • Carnivorous animals become vegetarian.
  • Aggression replace by peace.
Sin is the only obstacle to this vision. Jesus dealt to sin on the cross, so it is natural that the Holy Spirit would roll back the effects of sin, and restore blessing on earth.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kingdom of God (12) - Fulfilment

Paul wrote to the Ephesians about Times of Fulfilment.

He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ (Eph 1:9,10).
At first glance, this appears to be a reference to the Second Coming. However, Paul explains the nature of the “mystery” in his letter.
…to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (Eph 3:10).
The “mystery” is the church achieving victory over the rulers and authorities (the mystery is not the Second Coming). If Christians find this hard to believe, it must be a total mystery to the powers of evil.

Paul is promising that all God’s promises will reach their fulfilment through the Holy Spirit working in the church. Our commission to make disciples of all nations will be successful. Our mandate to fill the earth and manage it will be completed.
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
as the waters cover the sea (Hab 2:14).
God’s glory will be revealed as his Kingdom fills the entire earth.

The prophet Micah spoke of the glory of the kingdom of God. He described it as a time of great peace and blessing.
They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more. Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken. Mic 4:3,4
The coming of the Kingdom will bring peace to the whole earth. Men will not even need to prepare or plan for war. Every person will have an abundance of the fruit of the earth. No one will be poor, and there will be no need to fear. This will truly be a golden age, a time of great blessing on the earth.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kingdom of God (11) - Pushed Down Spread Around

In the world, authority is accumulated. Those with some try to get more. The “big men” who gain authority use it to control the people under them. Accumulating authority is dangerous, because it allows the person has, the more harm that they can do, if evil takes hold of their lives.

In the Kingdom of God, authority is not accumulated. It is “chopped up,” “pushed down” and “spread around” among ordinary people. This weaken the power of the evil, because he cannot concentrate his power on a few key people. Dispersing religious and political authority is essential for the advance of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus did not keep his authority for himself. At the beginning of his ministry, he shared his authority with the twelve and then the seventy (Luke 9:1; 10:1). The Holy Spirit has the same attitude to authority has Jesus. He does not hold onto authority over us, but sets us free. He never gives orders and he does not demand obedience. No Christian has ever heard the Holy Spirit say, “You have to do what I say”. He tells us God’s will and encourage us to freely do it.

At the end of the Time of Distress, the political and religious organisation that have accumulated authority and power will collapse and flee. The authority they have exercised over people and society will dissipate and disappear. True justice will prevail as God replaces human rulers with voluntary local judges applying his law.

The kingdom comes when power and authority is handed back to the people of God as they voluntarily join together in kingdom communities. When Jesus ascended into heaven, he was given dominion and authoirty over all of creation. An angel explained how he would use.

Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms
under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints,
the people of the Most High (Dan 7:27a).
This is a stunning promise. Jesus did not keep this authority, but hands it back to his people. Unfortunately, most Christians have not welcome this gift, and have passsed that authority back to the religious and political powers.

When the political and religious powers collapse, this pass the parcel will stop. Jesus will restore authority back to individuals and families where it belongs. Political and religious power will be chopped up, pushed down and spread around among ordinary people. The Spirit and the gospel will transform their man hearts and set them free to live in obidence to Jesus, which is the only valid use of authority.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Kingdom of God (10) - Voluntary Exclusion

The only constraint on behaviour will be fear of exclusion from the community. If a member of the community steals from others or is violent toward other, the leaders of the community will expect the guilty person to make restitituion. If the the troublesome person refuses to make restitiution and persists in their bad behaviour, the leaders of the community my decide they are a threat to the cohesion of the community. They could ask the other members of the community to exclude the recalicitrant person from the privileges that come from being part of the community.

An example of exclusion is recorded Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. The church was dealing with a man who persisted in sexual immorality.

Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this (1 Cor 5:2)?
But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is xx. Do not even eat with such people (1 Cor 5:11).
This is not excommunication to preserve true doctrine, as used by modern churches. Kingdom communities will trust the Holy Spirit to sort out doctrinal differences. Paul was dealing with behaviour that could destroy the community. Exclusion is a tool for freeing a community of people who are undermining its cohesion and threatening to destroy it.

Exclusion is a voluntary process. The leaders of a community cannot enforce it. The exclusion will only work if everyone in the community considers the fickle person is a threat and refuses to share their lives with them. If the decision of the leaders is not supported by the rest of the members of the community, the person would be able to keep participating in some of the community’s activities.

The guilty person is not forced to change. If they want to continue their behaviour, they are free to leave the community and live in some other place. When are person joins a community, they are committing to the general values that shape it Those who are unwilling to accept those values will gradually drift out and find a society where they are more comfortble.

The power of exclusion should not be used lightly. Selfishness or greed would not be sufficient justification. Exclusion would only be used for persistent behaviour that undermines the strengh of the community. Going further would be unreasonable.
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world…… In that case you would have to leave this world…. (1 Cor 5:9-10).
Christians must not escape from the world. People with who are struggling with sin will be welcomed in a kingdom community, because “the sick need a doctor” (Mark 2:17). Sinners should only be excluded, if their persistent behaviour threatens the cohesion of the community.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kingdom of God (9) - Voluntary Communities

Particpation in kingdom communities will be voluntary. When a person joins a community, they may voluntarily submit to the recognised leaders of that community, but will still retain their freedom. They will be able to withdraw their submission at any time, if they do not like what the leaders are doing. If they think the leadership has turned sour, they will be free to leave the community and join another, whenever they choose.

The leaders of a kindom community will only have as much authority as the members of the community submit to them. If they are trusted, they will be given authority to organise some of the activities in their neighbourhood. If they are not trusted, they will have very little authority. During the early stages of the new season, people will be scared of authority and reluctant to surrender any authority to the leaders of their community. The leaders will not care, because they will know that more can be achieved by love and service than through authority and control.

Kingdom communities will be held together by love and compassion, worked out in sharing and service. Those who join the community will accept the community’s way of living, because the benefits from being part of a strong community will far outweigh the loss of freedom.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Kingdom of God (8) - Multiply and Grow

Many will see the benefits of belonging to a Christian community and want to join. Provided they commit to the ethos of love and service, people will be welcome to join in supporting the others in the neighbourhood, whether they are Christians or not.

These communities will not grow too big. When more are wanting to join than can be absorbed, a couple of people who have lived in the Christian community for a while and understand how it function will offer to go with the people who want to join and help them to get started where they live. The new community in a new neighbourhood will do all the things that are done by the original group.

During the Times of the Distress, shelter communities will emerge wherever there are significant numbers of serous Christians. In many places, this the only way that Christians will survive through the worst darkness.

The Christians who move out of their community to start another will be called apostles. Some will repeat the process several times and begin several new communities. These apostles will maintain relationship with the communities that they have left. This will allow sharing between them. Some communities might provide banking or justice services for other communities.

Each of these Christian communities will be a microcosm of the Kingdom of God. An astute observer will note that the list of activities undertaken by these neighbourhood groups includes the following.

  • welfare

  • health care

  • employment

  • courts

  • justice

  • defence

  • banking services

  • money

They will be providing everything that modern governments have failed to provide. The difference is that they will flow out of love and service, without any need for coercion.
When the Time of Distress is completed and the Advance of the Gospel gets underway, the number of these kingdom communities will begin to grow rapidly. This new model of living will spread through society in the same way that yeast spreads through dough.
The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough (Matt 13:33).
The Holy Spirit will mix the Kingdom of God through society by moving from community to community.

This and the previous post is a brief glimpse of a huge topic. I will do a series of posts providing more detail round these issues, when I have completed this greater series on Change of Seasons.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Kingdom of God (7) - Christian Community

During the Time of Distress, Christians will have been forced together in small groups in order to survive. A group of Christians who trust each other will have bought or rented houses close to each, so they can support each other through the Time of Distress. They will get serious about Jesus new commandment.

Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34).
These Christians will become community that transforms their neighbourhood. When the structures of society begin to fall apart, they will work out alternative ways of sustaining life in their neighbourhood.
  • Everything they own and earn will be shared.

  • Anyone in the neighbourhood who is suffering will be sorted.

  • They will pray for those who are sick or oppressed by evil.

  • Wise Christians will settle disputes between people in an amicable way.

  • Anyone who steals will be required to make restitution.

  • Financial support will be provided for those who lose their income or assets.

  • Christians will guard their community and call out anyone entering to do evil.

  • They will stand together and pray against anyone who attempts to attack their neighbourhood.

  • Some members of the community will start businesses to provide employment to others in their neighbourhood.

  • If the financial system has broken down, someone will begin recording loans and lending to allow saving to flow to where they are needed.

  • Someone might begin recording money transactions as a more effective alternative to barter.

This support will not be limited to Christians, but will be available to anyone committed to the neighbourhood.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Kingdom of God (6) - Beautiful Kingdom

The Holy Spirit will bring in a beautiful Kingdom. He will work in the hearts of all people to convict them of sin and to testify to Jesus. He will draw all men to Jesus, causing them to be born again. The Holy Spirit will guide them into all truth and teach them how to live. As he produces the fruits of love, peace, patience, kindness and joy, people will begin to care for each other and provide everyone with what they need. Peace on earth will come and the groaning creation will be restored.

The kingdom that most Christians want is an ugly Kingdom. Jesus will return to Jerusalem and beat the world into shape with an iron rod. His followers will control the world using political power and military force. Those who hate Jesus will be cowed into silence and forced to obey his word. Those who rebel will be destroyed by violent power. This is an ugly kingdom, but it is not the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed.

The Kingdom of God that the Holy Spirit creates will be a voluntary kingdom. There will be no need for coercion and force. Political power and violence will become redundant.

Not by might
nor by power,
but by my Spirit,
says the LORD Almighty (Zech 4:6).
The Kingdom of God will be built by the Holy Spirit working in the lives of ordinary people. It will be based on love and service, so power and coercion will be unnecessary. The Holy Spirit will create a beautiful kingdom.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Kingdom of God (5) - Holy Spirit Skills

Before the Kingdom can come, most of the people of the world must choose to follow Jesus and be born again into the Kingdom. Once they come to faith in Jesus, they must be free to hear and follow the leading of the Spirit. All these things must happen.

  1. The people of the world must hear gospel of Jesus.

  2. The people of the world must repent of their sin.

  3. The people of the world must believe in Jesus.

  4. New Christians must be set free from the entanglement of evil.

  5. Every believer must to know God’s will.

  6. Christians must be empowered to obey the Spirit.

  7. Christians must live in peace with each other.

The Holy Spirit can do all these things.
  1. The Holy Spirit will testify to Jesus in the hearts of people who do not know him. He will reveal Jesus to people who need to know him (Acts 1:8).
    When the Counsellor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me (John 15:26).

  2. The Holy Spirit convicts people of sin.
    When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8).
    He can soften the hardest heart. Hardened sinners repent of sin when the Holy Spirit convicts them of sin. Paul was persecuting the church with great hostility, when the Holy Spirit touched his heart, he fell on his knees in repentance. If the Holy Spirit can get to Paul, he can get to anyone.

  3. The Holy Spirit can inspire faith in Jesus.

    We have the same spirit of faith (2 Cor 4:13).

  4. The Holy Spirit has the power to set his people free from evil.

  5. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor 3:17).
    The Spirit who gives life has set you free (Rom 8:2).
    He gives those who believe a new heart" (John 3:5).

  6. The Holy Spirit can teach believers all the truth they need to know.

  7. But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things (John 14:26).
    But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth (John 16:13).
    The Spirit of truth will teach all truth to those who seek the truth.

  8. The Holy Spirit will empower his people to follow Jesus.

  9. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father (John 14:12).

  10. The Holy Spirit can destroy fear and replace it with peace.

    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you… Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).

The Holy Spirit has the ability to bring every person on the earth to faith in Jesus. All he needs is the freedom to act and a body to carry him into the world where he can flow out and touch those who need him.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Kingdom of God (4) - Holy Spirit Kingdom

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is exercises all the awesome power of God, so we can expect him to be successful in all he does. God has given the Holy Spirit the task of establishing the Kingdom (through the church). Since he has infinite power, we should expect him to bring the Kingdom of God to victory.

God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven when people obey the Holy Spirit. That simple idea is the key to the coming of the Kingdom. The Holy Spirit is modest, so he does not boast in the scriptures about what he will do. Christians who know him should read between the lines and understand the significance of his role in bring the Kingdom.

When Jesus was on earth, he did what he saw his Father doing.

Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does (John 5:19).
The Holy Spirit is the same. He does what he sees the Father doing. He says what he hears Jesus saying.
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears…. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you (John 16:13-15).
The Holy Spirit hears what Jesus is saying and reveals it to his people. When they obey his voice, they do Jesus will, so the Kingdom of God has broken into their lives. When a community of Christians obey the voice of the Spirit, the Kingdom of God has come in their midst. When most of the people on earth obey the leading of the Holy Spirit, God’s will will be done on earth and his kingdom will have come.

The Holy Spirit can speak to any person in the universe, whenever he chooses, so he does not need to speak through intermediaries. He can speak to any person anywhere at any time. He speaks directly without needing a priests or pastors to translate or explain his words. Once everyone is living and walking in the Holy Spirit, control is unnecessary. People no longer need another people to tell them what to do. If they are filled with the Holy Spirit, they can walk in the Spirit.

Jesus speaks in our hearts through the voice of the Spirit. He does not force us to do his will. He speaks, then leaves us free to decide whether we will obey or not. If we are willing, the Holy Spirit will renew our lives, so that we want to obey him. The Kingdom comes when most people in earth obey The Holy Spirit, because they love Jesus. Obeying the voice of the Spirit brings freedom and joy.

The Holy Spirit has the capability to establish the Kingdom of God. The only obstacle to the Kingdom is human sin, but through the death of Jesus, the Holy Spirit has the power to overcome it. He can convict people of sin, reveal Jesus, inspire faith, renew their lives and teach them to obey Jesus. This is all it takes. The Holy Spirit can do this one person at a time on an enormous scale, if he gets a bit of help from his friends.

Over the last century, Church has rediscovered the power of the Holy Spirit, but our understanding of his role has been limited to his work in the Church. We need a revelation of his role in establishing the Kingdom of God. Establishing the kingdom is a power job, so the Holy Spirit is the person to do it. As more and more people live in obedience to the Holy Spirit, God’s will will be done and his Kingdom will come one earth.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Kingdom of God (3) - Jesus cannot do it

Apart from the few who want to seize political control and impose it by force, most Christians do not believe that the Kingdom of God can come in fullness before Jesus returns to earth. A huge mental stronghold prevents them from even considering the possibility. They just assume that it cannot happen. They truth is that Jesus cannot establish his Kingdom by returning to earth and reigning on a throne in Jerusalem.

The problem is that hen Jesus left heaven to become a man, he emptied himself of divine power and he cannot get it back.

He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men (Phil 2:6,7).
Once he came to earth as a man, Jesus was limited to working in time and space. His influence was limited to the country of Palestine. Jesus humanity made it impossible to establish the Kingdom. Ruling the world from Jerusalem was impossible, as most of the world could ignore him. Those who could not ignore him would hate him, and eventually kill him.

Jesus could not raise himself from the dead, but needed to be raised by the power of the Holy Spirit. Once he was raised from the dead, he received a spiritual body that could move between the physical and spiritual worlds, but he can only be one place at a time. When he ascended into heaven, he sat down at the right hand of the father, but he was still constrained by the physical limitations of being human. That did not matter for the Kingdom, because his work on earth was finished. He had laid the foundation for the Kingdom by his death, resurrection and ascension. That was all he was called to do.

Jesus could not make the Kingdom of God a reality, but he did something better. By departing, He released the Holy Spirit to work in the world. While living on the earth, Jesus had no influence beyond Israel. This is why he said it was better for him to leave the earth (John 16:7). Once he left the earth and began to work through the Spirit, his influence soon extended throughout the earth.

Jesus is still a man, so if he returned to earth, he would have limited power. He could not establish the Kingdom. Even if he sat on a throne in Jerusalem, he could only control those in the immediate vicinity. Those further abroad could escape his power. He could get his followers and the angels to kill everyone who opposed him, but that would not be a very nice kingdom. It would be quite different from the Kingdom that he promised.

Jesus can accomplish far more in the present age through the Holy Spirit. Working through him, Jesus can extend his power and influence throughout the entire earth. The Holy Spirit is divine. He was powerful enough to create the entire universe in just a moment of time. He is not limited to one place. He can be active throughout the entire earth, because he is not limited by space and time. The Holy Spirit can do greater things than Jesus did, and that it is a hard act to follow (John 14:12).

The Holy Spirit is greater than the devil, by an immense margin. The Devil is a fallen angel. He can only intervene on earth in one place at a time. This is severely limiting. The devil has an army of fallen angels, but it is not a united force. They are proud and independent and do not always do his will. The devil is hard pushed to get his work done on earth.

A struggle between the Holy Spirit and the devil there is no contest. During the Times of the Gentiles, the Holy Spirit has been constrained. Once his team is complete and the shackles are off, the Devil will find himself powerless.

Jesus cannot establish the Kingdom of God by returning to earth. Those who think he can, have been watching too many Rambo movies.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Kingdom of God (2) - Totally Different

The Kingdom of God will be totally different from what most people expect.

  • Christians will not get power currently held by politicians and political powers.

  • The kingdom of God is not a Christian political party being elected to power.

  • Christian leaders will not get to hold the office of Prime Minister or President.

  • Christians will not get to tell political leaders what to do.

  • Jesus will not rule from a throne in Jerusalem.

  • A Christian bureaucracy will not take control of the world.

The Kingdom of God will not be imposed from the top down. Jesus made this clear when James and John asked for the privilege of sitting at by his side when he came in his Kingdom.
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all (Mark 10:42-45).
There is no place for force and control in the Kingdom. Force and control belong to the kingdoms of the world. They will be swept away during the Time of Distress, so they must not be recreated for the Kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God is a voluntary kingdom that is totally different from the kingdoms of the world. Coercion and force have no place in it (Matt 26:53). Jesus established the Kingdom by submitting to the political powers and freely dying on the cross, a totally different way of doing kingdom. It will not be established by military power and political coercion, but by suffering and service.

Jesus rules in a totally different way from other kings. No threats! No shouting! No Fear! No detailed regulations! No coercion! No force! No security services seeking out opposition! No torture for opponents of the Kingdom! Jesus refused to use force, even though he could have called on his Father to send a whole host of angels to his aid (Matt 26:52,53). Jesus knows that loyal followers are not won by force. The best way is to win hearts is through the inner work of the Holy Spirit as the church proclaims the gospel. The Kingdom of God will be established by the Spirit.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Kingdom of God (1) - Best Season Ever

The season that follows the Time of Distress is the Kingdom of God. The Gospel Advance opens they way for the Kingdom to come. During this season, God’s will is done on earth as it is done in heaven. Daniel saw in his vision.

The Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time when the holy ones possessed the kingdom arrived (Dan.7:22).
This is the best season in human history. The kingdom of God, that Jesus proclaimed was near, will come to fulfilment and bring great blessing on earth.

The time will be right for the coming of the Kingdom. All obstacles will be gone and the ingredients prepared.
  1. The collapse of human government removes the last serious obstacle to the Kingdom of God. Every alternative to the government of God will have been tried and failed. People will be desperate for something that works.

  2. The people of the world will hate the government by man, so they will be open to the government of God.

  3. As human political powers are swept away, authority will return to families and local communities where it belongs.

  4. The spiritual forces of evil will be defused by the collapse of human governments that have empowered them.

  5. The Fullness of Israel will give the Holy Spirit a new freedom to work through the church to transform the world.

  6. Suffering for Jesus will have prepared the church for this season (Rev 19:7).

  7. The suffering church will have lost interest in domination or control and will be committed to suffering and service. This enables it to receive the Kingdom without being corrupted by power.

Daniel’s vision climaxes with people of God receiving the Kingdom.
The holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever (Dan 7:18).
This is a wonderful promise, and it is not the second coming, because Jesus is seated in the presence of God throughout Daniel’s vision.
He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power (Dan 7:13-14).
Jesus received glory, authority and sovereign power at the ascension. He does not need to return to earth to receive it. His Kingdom comes to fullness on earth when his people receive the authority that he has in heaven.
Then the kingdom and dominion,
And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven,
Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And all dominions shall serve and obey Him (Dan.7:27).
The Kingdom of God is given to the saints. We must not use force to establish the kingdom, because the Holy Spirit will give it to us, when we are ready to receive it. If we serve and suffer like Jesus, he is able to bring the Kingdom. If we try to force it, we lose it. We will receive the Kingdom of God when we learn to walk through suffering in the power of the Spirit.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Advance of the Gospel (3) - Harvest of the Earth

The proclamation of the gospel leads to the great harvest of the earth. John saw Jesus sitting on a cloud a sickle in his hand. An angel is given a sickle to go out and harvest the earth.

I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested (Rev 14:14-16).
When the Time of Distress are complete, the harvest on earth will be ripe. Jesus will send out his gospel messengers to bring in the harvest. Many Christians assume that a great harvest will occur just before Jesus returns. This is wrong. The great harvest comes after the Fullness of the Jews and it brings in the Kingdom of God.

While the angel was harvesting the earth, John saw another angel gathering grapes from the earth and throwing them into a winepress.
The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia (Rev 14:19-20).
This is a symbolic presentation of the power of the gospel. The grapes represent the deeds of men. Many of them are sinful and deserve God’s wrath. The winepress outside the city is the cross on which Jesus paid the penalty for sin and turned away that wrath. As the sins of the world are taken to the cross, forgiveness flows out into all the earth. The blood of Jesus is said to be effective to a distance of 1600 stadia. 1600 equals 4 times 10 squared. 4 represents the earth and 10 is completeness, so 1600 represents the blood of Jesus being effective into the fullness of the earth.

After his vision of the earth being harvested, John saw those who had been victorious in suffering standing on a sea of glass and praising God. They were singing the song of Moses and the Lamb.
Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed (Rev 15:3-4)
These words come to fulfilment when the law of Moses and the gospel of Jesus are brought together in unity by the Spirit of God. When the nations see the glory of God’s Kingdom, they will all surrender and worship God.
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea (Hab 2:14).