Wednesday, November 28, 2012
"The underlying theme of all the Scriptures is Redemption: in the Old Testament the anticipation of it in type and prophecy; in the Gospels the accomplishment of it by the death of Christ; in the Acts and Epistles, the application of it to the needs of man; and in the Revelation, the achievement of it in the subjection of all kingdoms to the rule of God"--W. Graham Scroggie
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
It is generally and widely held that there is one end time judgment. However, as one studies the Word there seem to be a number of judgments. I see four future judgments in Scripture, each being unique and at a different place and time.
First, the judgment of the believer in this dispensation for his works at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10). Notice, this is a judgment of believers. This is not a judgment of condemnation, for there is no condemnation of those in Christ (
Rom. 8:1). The basis of this
judgment is not the believer’s sin, but their works. The result is not a loss
of salvation, but or rewards (cf. 1 Cor. 3:11-15). This will take place at the
rapture of the church (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
Second is the judgment of the nation of
20:34-38, Matt. 24:21-31). This will take place at the end of “Jacob’s trouble”
(Jer. 30:4-7; Dan. 12:1). The place will be around Jerusalem (Zech. 14:1-11). Since Israel
is an earthly people, the judgment takes place on earth (Zech. 14:4) after the
return of their Messiah (Christ). It will concern the nation of Israel who are gathered back to Palestine who are unconverted (Ezek.
20:34-38). Malachi describes this judgment (Malachi 3:2-3, 5). Those will not
enter His kingdom and will be destroyed with the wicked (Ezek. 20:37; Matt.
25:30). Those remaining will be the remnant that enters the earthly kingdom (Ezek.
20:37; Rom. 11:26).
Third, is the judgment of the Gentiles (Matt. 25:31-46). This will take place before the millennium and at the end of the Great Tribulation. It takes place in the
This involves Gentiles living on earth at that time, for there is no
resurrection mentioned in connection with this judgment. It takes place upon
the return of Christ to earth. The basis of this judgment is their treatment of
Christ’s brethren, the Jews (Matt. 25:32). The result is that some Gentile
nations continue to exist and go into the millennium (Matt. 25:41). Valley
Fourth, there is the judgment of the unsaved at the Great White Throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). This takes place at the end of the millennium (Rev. 7, 11). The subjects are the unsaved dead (Rev. 20:12). The result of this judgment is consignment to the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Four Hundred years silence from God; not a word nor a whimper from Him. Life goes on day in and day out. Herod is King. Priests serve faithfully. There are some 20,000 priests. They are divided into 24 orders. Each order served 8 days in the
It took 50 priests to serve a day and fulfill the duties in the Temple. There were many
duties in the Temple
that must be performed everyday. The highest honor was to offer incense. It was
an honor a priest had only once in a lifetime. Today it was the honor of
Zacharias was a humble priest that lived with his wife, Elisabeth. They were a childless couple, advanced in years. They went about living their lives in faithfulness to God. We are told they were “righteous before God” (1:6). This is seen by the following:
· Faithful & blameless concerning His Word and the requirements of God.
· Faithful in service (1:8)
· Faithful in prayer (1:13)
In was in this ordinary day to day faithfulness that God breaks his silence. God speaks and works in the ordinary. It is in the ordinary faithfulness of service that God speaks. It is when it is least expected that God speaks through means most unusual that the voice of God is heard. While Zacharias was fulfilling his duty, an angel of the Lord speaks to him. He is given a promise—“your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John” (1:13). Let us not despise the ordinary. God uses the ordinary to do great things.
Embedded in this story is the great message for us living in the ordinary. It may seem to many of us that God is silent. The message is hidden in the names of these ordinary servants—Zacharias and Elisabeth. Zacharias means “God remembers” and Elisabeth means “God’s Oath.” Thus, God remembers His oath. God is active and fulfilling His Word by becoming active in history. He remembers His oath to Zacharias in John the Baptist. He remembers His oath to the world by sending His Son. Zacharias’ son will pave the way for the Son of God. God is faithful! He does no overlook his servants. God remembers. God honors.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Insights from Nehemiah
This the last post of this series. In this post we look at the last three principles.
Principle 3: LEADERSHIP MEANS TAKING RISKS
Risk is AN essential part of leadership. Risk is the exposure of one’s self, power, and ability. Nehemiah had to expose himself and his heart to the king. He was risking his position, the king’s anger, and his whole future. Risk is part of taking a stand and getting involved. Risk should never take place needlessly; but at the same time it is not playing it safe.
Principle 4: LEADERSHIP SETS GOALS
Nehemiah had a goal—to rebuild the walls of
Jerusalem. Goals need to be both necessary
and obtainable. Goals come from seeing what is and what could be. They must be
realistic, yet they must be challenging. Setting goals involves three things:
Investigation of the current situation; second, a definition of goal; third,
the ability to find the resources and to be able to organize them to overcome
and obtain the goal. A goal setter must also be a problem solver. Nehemiah
evidenced such skills when he was ready to tell the king (2:7-8). A leader is a
man of vision—He sees where we are, where we need to be, and how to get there.
He leads them to the goal. He is a man walking by faith—looking to God for
solutions, ability, and grace to lead to the goal set before them.
Principle 5: LEADERSHIP MUST BE ABLE TO DELEGATE.
Leaders must be delegators. No man can do it all. Yet, this may be one of the hardest principles to practice. Some Christian leaders think it is easier to do it themselves. This is wrong thinking for three reasons: First, it robs others of using their gifts for the common goal. Second, it hurts efficiency. John White defines efficiency as the means “of achieving goals with the smallest waste of resources.” [EXCELLENCE IN LEADERSHIP, 35]. A leader who tries to do it all without the use of delegation is not an efficient leader. Third, it compromises one’s leadership. It has the tendency to turn leadership into dictatorship. Nehemiah knew how to delegate, spreading the work among forty-two groups. Wise leadership recognizes individual gifts and talents in others; matching gifts and needs. Delegation also leads to appreciation—appreciation for another’s contribution and the truth that the church is truly a body, dependent on each member.
Monday, November 5, 2012
Insights from Nehemiah
Principle # 2 A CHRISTIAN LEADER IS A PERSON OF PRAYER
One of the unique and vital elements of Christian leadership is prayer. Prayer is a principle that secular leadership does not hold to or practice. However, it is a divine necessity for Christian leaders. Nehemiah knew this well. There are nine prayers found in the book of Nehemiah. Most are brief, simple, and to the point prayers that were said on the spur of the moment. However, the first prayer is one of the classic prayers of Scripture (1:4-11).
True Christian empathy will lead to the throne of grace. A leader will be moved, not simply to weep and worry over God’s people, but to pray for them continually. He will bring them to the throne of grace again and again. Christian ministry begins not in the crowd, but in the closet. It starts in the presence of God, not in the presence of people.
A PRAYING LEADER INDICATES A CARING LEADER. To a believer caring and praying will go hand in hand. An uncaring person is a prayerless person. Concern leads to prayer. Concern grabs us when the Spirit of God shows us the reality of another’s need and the reality of the love and power of God to work in that person’s life.
A PRAYING LEADER INDICATES A PERSON OF FAITH. His faith is not self-centered, but God-centered. A self-centered person will be selfish with when he prays. A true Christian leader is selfless. A praying leader recognizes the need of others, the ability and willingness of God to act on behalf of His people, and will beg God to do so.
A PRAYING LEADER IS AN INTERCESSORY LEADER. He identifies himself with the people of God. Nehemiah prayed for God’s people (1:6) and interceded on their behalf and confessed their sin as if it were his own (1:7). John White observes: “Nehemiah had a sense of corporate responsibility which most of us lack today” [Excellence in Leadership, 23].
A PRAYING LEADER IS A PLEADING LEADER. Like Nehemiah we need to plead with God because our chief concern must be the testimony of God’s people to the world around them. It is born from a concern for God’s reputation as seen in and from His people. We need to echo Nehemiah’s cry, “they are your servants and your people” (1:10). We are His temple and His reputation is bound up with us.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Insights from Nehemiah
What is leadership? The dictionary defines it as: “1. the position, function, or guidance of a leader. 2. The ability to lead.” To me that definition seems lifeless. While it technically gives the definition, it means little. To see what true leadership is, one must look at a leader. There is no better example of leadership than Nehemiah. He is the personification of Christian leadership.
As I look at Nehemiah, certain principles shine forth that enlighten us as to what a leader is and does. These principles are not limited to Nehemiah and his situation, but are universal and can be applied to Christian leaders today.
Principle # 1: ONE MUST HAVE EMPATHY WITH GOD’S PEOPLE
Empathy is the ability to enter into the feelings of another, to have appreciative perception and understanding of the person or situation. It is to identify and sympathize with another person. Nehemiah shows us that empathy involves:
- The ear (Nehemiah 1:2-3). The ability to listen is one of the greatest assets of a Christian leader. Leadership begins not with the mouth, but with the ear. One must have the ability to really listen. Information is vital to a leader.
- The heart (Nehemiah 1:4). When Nehemiah listened, he began to feel. Feeling is concern for what one hears. Concern grips us to turn what we hear to feel the reality of the situation. A leader must be concerned about those whom he leads. Christian leadership is not to be selfish. This is a major difference between leadership in the world and that in the church. A Christian leader leads with his heart, not just his head. His attitude is one of a servant, not a superior. His concern is that of a shepherd for his sheep.
- The will (Nehemiah 1:4-2:6). When the heart is touched, the will springs into action. Concern leads to involvement and cost. Nehemiah willed to get involved and pay the cost. He was motivated to action—not by personal ambition, but to help God’s people.
Christian leadership involves empathy. It involves being informed of the needs of the people, concern for their situation, and a heart willing to help, motivated to action for those whom God has placed in his care.
Paul was not a theologian who wrote a systematic theology. He wrote letters not books. A letter is personal, dealing with real people and problems. As Keathley remarks: “The human authors of Scripture wrote to real people with real problems in real situations in such a way that their writings are still very much applicable with tremendous relevance in our modern world.” The Thessalonian problem was it had been 20 years in their case since the resurrection and His promise of the return, but they clearly had two problems: First, there was doubt of its reality, so they took it lightly. Second, others were over zealous, believing that Jesus would return in a short time, therefore becoming lax in their responsibilities. These led either a disregard for the truth of God’s promise, or a disregard for living a responsible life. The two letters to the believers in this city “naturally link themselves together, as they are alike in their main subject, which is the second coming of Christ, and their significance as a pair should be duly appreciated.” Bruce observes that the eschatological teaching of these epistles “is mainly on the personal level.” That should be in our mind in the study of both epistles of 1-2 Thessalonians.
It is believed that Paul wrote I Thessalonians early on the second journey around 50 AD before he left Corinth (Acts 18:1-11). Silas is known to be connected with Paul in Corinth, but not referred to again afterward. It seems clear that Paul wrote this epistle shortly after he arrived in Corinth (1:7-9; 2:17; 3:1, 6; Acts 18:5, 11). This makes the letter written around 20 years after the resurrection and the promise of Jesus returning in like matter. The occasion was Timothy’s report (1 Thess. 3:6).
Paul’s clear purposes can be summarized as follows:
- To express his thankfulness for what God is doing in the lives of the believers (1:2-3).
- To defend his ministry against slander and insinuations (2:1-12).
- To encourage them to endure the stress and persecution of a heathen society (3:2-4; 4:1-12).
- To educate concerning the hope of the dead, and their own hope (4:1-13),
- To answer questions about the end times, especially their relationship to the Day of the Lord (5:1-11). Eschatology is a major feature of the epistles to the Thessalonians. Interestingly, every chapter ends with a note of eschatology.
- To deal with improvement of personal and corporate life of the believers (5:11-20). Some aspects of church life needed improvement.
The epistles to the Thessalonians touch on some major doctrines: Inspiration (1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6, 17). God’s oneness (1 Thess. 1:9) as well as the tri-unity (1 Thess. 1:1, 5, 6; 4:8; 2 Thess. 1:1; 2:13). The deity of Christ (1 Thess. 3:11-12; 2 Thess. 2:16-17). Salvation (1 Thess. 4:14; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:13). Our identification with Christ (1 Thess. 1:1; 5:5). Sanctification (1 Thess. 2:3-8). And prayer (1 Thess. 3:11-13; 5:23-24; 2 Thess. 1:11-12; 2:16-17; 3:5, 16). However, the largest doctrinal issue is that of the end times and related themes. Wanamaker observes that one fourth of 1 Thessalonians and half of 2 Thessalonians deals with eschatological problems and issues.
Outline of 1 Thessalonians
1 Thessalonians can be outlined in connection with 1:13 where there are three key elements: The past—“the work of faith;” the present—“the labor of love;” the perspective—“the endurance of hope.” I have incorporated it into my own outline.
The PAST—“work of faith.” (1:1-3:13).
I. Salutation and Greeting (1:1).
II. Thanksgiving (1:2-10).
a. Means of Thanksgiving—Prayer (1:2)
b. Material of Thanksgiving (1:3-10)
i. Energetic People (1:3).
ii. Elected People (1:4).
iii. Exemplary People (1:5-7).
iv. Evangelistic People (1:-8)
v. Expectant People (1:9-10).
III. Ministry at Thessalonica (2:1-12).
a. The Apostle’s Witness (2:1-2)
b. The Apostle’s Word (2:3-7)
c. The Apostle’s Walk (2:7b-12)
IV. Messages Reception (2:13-16).
a. Reception of the Word (2:13)
b. Response to the Word (2:14)
c. Rejection of the Word (2:15-16)
V. Matter of Concern by the Apostle (2:17-20)
a. His heart (2:17)
b. His hindrance (2:18)
c. His hope (2:19-20)
VI. Timothy’s Confirmation (3:1-10).
a. His Sending (3:1-5).
b. His Return (3:6-10).
VII. Prayer for their Faith (3:11-13).
a. That He might come to them (3:11).
b. Their continual growth (3:12).
c. Their established hearts (3:13).
The PRESENT—“the labor of love.” (4:1-12).
I. Love expressed in sanctified Living (4:1-8)
a. Exhortation to Advance in Conduct (4:1-2)
II. How to Advance in Conduct (4:2-12)
a. Be Holy (4:1-5)
b. Be Honest (4:6)
c. Be Pure (4:7-8)
d. Be Loving (4:9-10)
e. Be Responsible (4:11-12)
The PERSPECTIVE—“the endurance of hope” (4:9-5:28)
I. Our Hope in Christ (4:9-18)
a. The Resurrection of sleeping saints (4:13-16)
b. The rapture of living saints (4:17-18)
II. Our Relationship to the Day of the Lord (5:1-11).
a. The coming of that Day (5:1-5).
b. The conduct of Believers (5:6-10).
c. The conclusion (5:11).
III. Its Result in the Life of the Church (5:12-28).
a. Responsibilities of the Leaders (5:12-13)
b. Responsibilities of the Congregation (5:14-22)
IV. Conclusion (5:23-28)
 J. Hampton Keathley III, 1 THESSALONIANS: AN EXEGETICAL AND DEVOTIONAL COMMENTARY, (Electronic Media, Bible.Org.), 1998.
 J. Sidlow Baxter, EXPLORE THE BOOK, Vol. 6, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids), 213.
 F.F. Bruce, WORD: 1-2 THESSALONIANS, Vol. 45, (Word, Waco), xlviii.
 Charles A. Wanamaker, NIGTC:1-2 THESSALONIANS (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1990), 10.