A strange sort of optimism

And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1 NKJV).

When one thinks of all of the wars, famines, atrocities, and other crimes perpetrated by humans upon each other over the centuries of history, it is almost an impossible task to determine which particular event was the most horrible.

On two different, but similar, occasions a prophecy is made in the Bible about trouble greater than ever experienced, before or since. One of these is in the book of Daniel, referring to a particular invasion of Judah almost 200 years before the birth of Christ. The other was spoken by Jesus himself, and is believed by many to refer to the Jewish rebellion against Rome which would occur in 70 A.D., when the city of Jerusalem was once again destroyed (Matthew 24:21). Continue reading “A strange sort of optimism”

Many or few in the Kingdom of God?

Luke 13.18-30

Many of us have favorite subjects to talk about. We gravitate to them without thinking.

When he’s not talking about going to heaven, our brother Paulo’s conversation turns toward working out at the gym (he owns one) and soccer (he used to be a professional player).

Jesus had his favorite subjects, also. His teaching might well be summed up in the phrase, “Kingdom of God.” He uses it in Luke 13.18, 20, at the beginning of our text, and again at the end of it, in vv. 28 and 29. Continue reading “Many or few in the Kingdom of God?”

Delivered out of the power of darkness

More than 30 years ago, we wrote an evangelistic study which we still use today, among others. In that study, the very first text we teach others is Genesis 1.1-3. A main point of this reading emphasizes God’s power as he created the universe with a word. His power is unlimited. He is more powerful than any other. He is omnipotent.

His power overcomes all others. This is what Paul affirms in a prayer in Colossians 1: Continue reading “Delivered out of the power of darkness”

God’s kingdom is not new

Since the Bible was written during a span of perhaps 1500 years by about 40 authors utilizing different languages while living under the influence of various dominating cultures, it certainly holds a unique status. Even more amazing is that in spite of their lack of collaboration, those who penned the Old and New Testaments present many unified messages. One of these is that God is King. God’s kingdom is not something new.

For Americans, kingship is an unfamiliar reality. We have experienced presidents and congresses, but not kings.

Continue reading “God’s kingdom is not new”

Kingdom future

Jesus, his apostles, as well as the early church proclaimed a message revolving around the good news of the kingdom. After Jesus’ death and ascension, preaching shifted to Christ and the kingdom.

This kingdom proclamation contained a message for the present. Through Christ, God’s power was overcoming all the binding weapons of evil to usher in a new manifestation of God’s rule. Christ brought release. People were to live with kingdom values and behaviors. Upon Jesus’ resurrection, he was exalted as Lord.

However, their proclamation also included a message regarding the future. At the end of time, some would inherit the kingdom while others would not.

How does today’s preaching compare with their message? Continue reading “Kingdom future”

If you are a worker in God’s kingdom

If you are a worker in God’s kingdom, take the long view. Present afflictions, without the perspective of eternity, can be depressing. But knowing the sovereignty of God, we can be sure that he works all things for the accomplishment of his will and the good of his people, Romans 8.28.

As planters and waterers, we may not always see the growth. Sometimes we will, sometimes not. Sometimes the growth may come quickly, at others times slowly or, in our limited sight, not at all. But if God gives the growth, 1 Corinthians 3.7, we may be sure that growth there will be. Patience is key. Continue reading “If you are a worker in God’s kingdom”

The Kingdom

Behold the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21).

The Jews of the first century made a fundamental mistake. They expected the Messiah to come to earth and establish a physical, earthly kingdom.

Jesus was, it seems, always trying to tamp this expectation down. When he fed the five thousand, they tried to make him king, and he had to escape their poorly directed fervor (John 6:15). When Pilate asked whether he was a king, he had to explain that his kingdom was “not of this world” (John 18:36). Continue reading “The Kingdom”

The Organizer

The Holy Spirit, wrote H. Leo Boles in his book about the third member of the Godhead, is the “organizer and perfecter” of two realms, the natural and the spiritual.

The Spirit was present in creation. The Bible says about him: “the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water” (Genesis 1.2 NET).

Modern versions published by liberal houses consistently make the Spirit into a “mighty wind.” The Hebrew word ruach can mean “breath, wind, spirit,” but all signs point to the personal Deity in Genesis 1.2. The Holy Spirit was present and active in creation. Continue reading “The Organizer”