The Savior of the world

Since earliest times people and nations have looked to earthly figures and political powers to save them. The people of Israel hoped Egypt would protect them from Assyria. Brazilians have long talked about a salvador da pátria (savior of the nation) to rescue them from their problems. It is a human trait to wish for, await, or appeal to someone to save.

Inevitably, however, humans disappoint. The prophet Isaiah wrote about Pharoah: Continue reading “The Savior of the world”

The glory of heaven

“Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that he might present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27 NKJV).

“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God” (Revelation 21:9-11).

Most Christians are familiar with John’s vision of the New Jerusalem as recorded in Revelation 21. We frequently long for the time when we will approach the Holy City, New Jerusalem (v. 2), enter through its gates of pearl (v. 21) and walk those glittering streets of gold (v. 21). Even as we imagine those things however we puzzle over many questions: where exactly is heaven? How literal are those gates and streets? What will we do when we are there? On the one hand we are intrigued with the imagery John uses. On the other, we understand that it is a vision, and therefore may not be intended literally. Continue reading “The glory of heaven”

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”