Articles

THE  FIRST  HOLOCAUST

     We have heard much about the Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany.  It was a deliberate state-sponsored extermination planned and executed by Adolf Hitler.  Approximately six million Jews were killed and almost five million non-Jewish vicitms including 1.5 million children! More than 250,000  Jewish people were labeled as “Displaced Persons.”  We shudder, when we think of man’s inhumanity to man.

     But, do you know about the “First Holocaust?”

     We read of this coming event in Biblical record found in the first three books of the New Testament: Matthew  24:1-35; Mark 13:1-31 and Luke 21:5-36.

     This “Holocaust” is better known as “The Destruction of Jerusalem.”  But it could also be described with the following phrases: “The End of the Age,” “The Great Tribulation of Matthew 24:21,” “The Holocaust of 70 A.D.”  or “Signs of The Time.”  Jesus warned the Jewish people of this “Holocaust”. 

     Jesus wept over the holy city, Jerusalem as we read in Luke 19:41-44: “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within the walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” 

     No wonder in Luke 23:28-30 Jesus, on His way to crucifixion, told the women, who were weeping, “Weep for yourselves and for your children.”

Matthew 21:33-46 gives us the Parable of the Tenants and in it Jesus said to the Jews; “Therefore, I tell you that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” These  scriptures refer to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D.  The Jewish historian, Josephus, also writes of this terrible event. 

     Luke in chapter 21 and verse 20  of his book spells this out clearly. “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.”  When the Christians of that day in the city of Jerusalem saw this, they were to escape from the city. The signs listed in these chapters are signs for the Christians then and there to start packing their bags to flee. Their  survival, being saved, hinged on their heeding these signs given by Jesus.  Matthew 24:21 does not refer to the end of time.  It’s application, based upon all contextual  considerations, was to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D.

 What is so important about the destruction of Jerusalem with its temple in 70 A.D.?

     First, the Jewish people deserved to be punished due to their unfaithfulness.  They had turned God’s temple into a den of thieves.  They rejected the Son of God.  Jesus came unto His own pople and His own people received Him not.

     Second, with the destruction of the temple, it meant the end of animal sacrifices.  God laid on Jesus the sin of us all.  Jesus died for our sins.  His sacrifice was once and for all, final.

     Third, God put a bloody period to Judaism in 70 A.D.  God nailed the Mosaic Law to the cross in the death of His Son.   Jerusalem, the seat of the Old Dispensation, was removed.  Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.” Matthew 5:17

     Fourth, the New Testament (Will, Covenant) fulfills the Old. Obedient faith brings people into a new relationship with God through Jesus.  Obedience to Jesus, through the Word of the Apostles, as recorded in the Bible saves.

     It was the prayer of Jesus that all people be ONE.  John 17:20-21 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father,  just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”   
God sent Jesus to destroy all divisions between mankind.  Paul, divinely inspired, pens this in Galatians chapter 3 verses 26 -29: “You are all sons of God though faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

   God has given us the right to become His children, His chosen people, spiritual Israel, Christian.
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150 People Saved – 50 People Killed

 Two plane crashes within a month of each other.

     U. S. Airways plane with 155 people on board ditched into the chilly Hudson River.   It had been airborne less than three minutes when it collided with birds, which got sucked into the engines and stopped them.  Flight pilot, Chesley Sullenberger, did a masterful job landing that plane safely on the water.  Police, fire and Coast Guard boats, being nearby, were quickly on the scene taking all the people to shore.  I saw a picture of an angel carrying that plane landing it softly on the Hudson River. It has been called, “The Miracle on the Hudson.”
  
     The other plane crash was Continental Connection Flight 3407, February 12 in Clarence Center, NY. The plane dropped 800 feet in five seconds. It is thought that the formation of ice on the wings disabled the function of the plane. It crashed into a house killing all 49 people on board and one person in the house. Rescue was impossible due to the massive explosion of fire from the crash.   No miracle here.
    How can we call one a miracle and the other not?   Does it not raise questions about miracles? Is God partial?  Does He save some and not others?  What kind of God is our God?

     I believe that these kinds of accidents are from natural causes. God has established laws to govern His universe. For instance, what goes up must come down. You cannot repeal the law of gravitation. When something went wrong with the planes, they had to come down. The first plane, the pilot was able to land safely because of where he was at the time and the training that he had. The other pilot was unable to control the plane and so landed into a house.  The plane bursting into flames. The consequences of the situation have to be accepted. God has limited Himself for our sake.
   
     I believe in miracles, BIBLICAL MIRACLES.  Jesus was able to perform miracles in order to substantiate His claim to divinity.  The Apostles were able to perform miracles in order to substantiate their claim of proclaiming the divine Word of God.  Read John 20: 30-31 “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.:  NIV     

When something has been confirmed, it does not need to be reconfirmed.
 

     You want miracles?  Go to the Book.  God put them there so we could read and believe. What do you think?  I would appreciate your comments.

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The Third Heaven

            What about the scripture passage in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 having to do with the “third heaven?”  Let me see, if I can be of some help in clarifying this situation.

            Paul hates to talk about himself in any way that exalts him. He is a humble man of God. But, there are false teachers claiming supernatural experiences and some Corinthian Christians are following those teachers.  So, Paul feels compelled to share his experience which happened some 14 years before.   He has not spoken of this heavenly experience for 14 years. 
Why? because God’s Word is what must be preached not personal experiences.  The good news, Gospel, is what God has done for everyone in Christ Jesus.  God has revealed His truth in His Word, the Bible.  The Bible is complete and does not need to be supplemented by any further revelations.

          Paul does not name himself in this supernatural experience but it is believed to be Paul. He is not even sure as to the way it happened.  Was his body and spirit both lifted up to the third heaven or was it just his spirit? Only God knew and Paul leaves it there. 

            Knofel Staton writes of this in his commentary on Second Corinthians in the Standard Bible Studies, pages 188 and 189. “The phrase “third heaven” was a Jewish way of describing the location of God’s presence. The first heaven referred to our atmosphere, the air we breathe here on earth. The second heaven referred to what we see above our air where the stars are located.  The third heaven is the presence of God.  When Jesus ascended to the Father after His resurrection, He went “through the heavens” Hebrews 4:14.  That is, He went through the first and second heavens.” 

            Paul speaks of the third heaven as being “Paradise.”  This word describes a ‘walled garden’ where intimate companionship can be had.  Paradise is the place of the righteous departed. The Garden of Eden, with the Tree of Life, is called Paradise (Revelation 2:7).  Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be with Him in Paradise (Luke 23:43) .  Whatever Paradise is, Jesus is there, and that is what makes it Paradise. 

            What Paul heard while in heaven was such that human language could not convey it.  Even if Paul could have told what he heard, how could we mortals have understood?  The veil between earth and heaven remains, so we walk by faith and not by sight.  What God wants known is revealed in the Bible.    

           John MacArthur, Jr. in his commentary on 2nd Corinthians writes: “The true measure of a man of God does not lie in his claims of visions and experiences with God, or the force of his personality, the size of his ministry, his educational degrees, or any other human criteria.  A true man of God is marked by how much he has suffered in the war against the kingdom of darkness, how concerned he is for people, how humble he is, and how accurately he handles the supernatural revelation found in God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15).”

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“Greater Works Than These”
John 14:12  “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.”  NIV
A difficult scripture but let me see if I can help make it more understandable.
Listen to Jesus as He speaks to His disciples concerning His leaving them, His approaching death.  He had done many wonderful works such as miracle among them.  Yet, He dares tell them that they are going to do “greater works” than these He had done.  He is telling them, that they will carry on His work in a much greater way.  Oh, many of them will do miraculous works of a supernatural character just as Jesus did during His earthly ministry.  But, greater works than these miracles will they do.  What can Jesus mean?     Surely no one has done greater miracles than Jesus. Who can heal instantly and completely?  Who can speak or touch a sick body and the illness is gone?  More than this, who can speak to the dead and the dead comes back to life?  No where is there such a Great Physician.  There are no miracles greater than what Jesus did.    Therefore, I believe that these ‘works’ that Jesus speaks of are the fulfillment of why Jesus came. He came to “to seek and to save the lost.”  The greater works which the disciples of Jesus would do were the works of preaching the gospel, worldwide, to thousands of people, both Jews and Gentiles.  The hearts of  people would be turned to God through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ.  I believe that Jesus is telling them of the ‘new birth’ by planting the Word of God which the Holy Spirit released on the Day of Pentecost.   Saving of souls is the greater and greatest work of the followers of Christ.  People need to believe and how does this faith come?  “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”
 All of we Christians are involved in this “greater work” of Christ.  It is our privilege to tell and show Jesus to people everywhere.  May we be up and about His business.
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“Suffering Is Not an Intellectual Exercise”
   
  Answers are not what a broken heart needs.  The sufferer must by faith accept the Answerer, who is God.  Our faith is in Him not in answers.  It is very understandable that we grieve when there is the loss of a loved one. Suffering is very personal.  The sufferer must be allowed to express their honest grief.
     So, my first suggestion is do not try to give answers to the sufferer.  Allow them to work through their grief.  Be there for them.  Your presence speaks of your love. Was it not true with the friends of Job?  They came to comfort.  “They sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him because they saw how great his suffering was”, (Job 2:13) Eventually, there has to be words but not while the sorrow is so fresh. Just, listen and accept the struggle.

     Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross offers stages of grief. They are: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and hopeful acceptance.  This cycle is not rigid or predictable, but it gives us an idea of what a person is going through and where they are in the grief process. To spare the sufferer the ordeal of his own struggle with God is to disrespect his individuality as a person.  It is the struggle itself that leads to the experience of knowing.
“He who knows the who can bear with any how even though he knows not why. Knowing the who without knowing the why leaves room for faith. It brings security without having the answers.”
However, for the Christian, “Life is on down the road and the best is yet to come.”

Death is not the end but just the beginning.
Death is not a door marked exit but a door marked entrance.
Death is not a blind alley but a thoroughfare.

     Here is a true example:  A friend’s husband was sick. Prayers for him to be healed went up to God. However, he died.  Someone said to the wife, “your prayers were not answered.”  She said, “Oh, yes they were, for you see, he is now well, he is healed.”

      We all wish to keep our loved ones alive in this world.  But, is that really the best for them?  Listen to the Apostle Paul when he said, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”…  “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”(Philippians 1:21 and 23) What a blessing for the Christian to die and go HOME to be with our Heavenly Father.

      We share in your sorrow and remember you and yours in our prayers.

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STRUGGLE WITH ME, PLEASE

    I am struggling with a question that was asked of me. The question was, “Is God passive or active in our lives?”

    Good question and a very crucial one but one not easily nor quickly answered.

    May I start by saying God is BOTH passive and active in our lives. Now, I am not trying to straddle the fence and not give a straight forward answer. Let’s look at both aspects.

    First, how is God passive, if indeed He is?

    This brings up the matter of the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. People so easily say, God is in control of every thing. Now, it seems to me that people are in a terrible mess for God to be in control. The worlds of people are out of control. The illustration that might be applicable here is taken from the play, “Green Pasture”. The angel, Gabriel is sent to earth to investigate the havoc of Noah’s flood. Upon his return to heaven, he tells God, “Every thing on earth is coming loose, nothing is nailed down any more.” It speaks the truth of our day with so many foundations crumbling, falling apart. Is God in control of this mess? One of our favorite Scriptures is Roman 8:28, “All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.” I believe this does not make sense unless you add the word, “ultimately”. Yes, I believe that God is in control in the sense that in the end He will win and His people, Christians, will win with Him. Absolutely, some day God is going to call a screeching halt to this old world and everything in it and bring order out of chaos.

     But, what does that say about the nasty here and now?

     This is where man’s freedom of choice enters. God gave man free will to obey or disobey, love or hate, chose heaven or hell. God placed man in a natural world with natural laws, in a physical body with physical laws and given man a soul governed by spiritual laws. Only as man learns to live within these God given laws can he please His Maker and find deep inner joy. God has given man His Word: living Word, Jesus and the written Word, the Bible by which man can have meaningful, purposeful, and abundant life here and hereafter. God has given man the free will to choose whether or not to listen to God. God said clearly about Jesus, “This is My beloved Son, HEAR YOU HIM.”

The Hebrew writer wrote that God had spoken in various ways and by different means to the forefathers in past times but in these last days, He has spoken unto us by His Son. (Hebrews 1:1-2)

     God will not violate His laws. He has limited Himself for our sake. We are not puppets with God pulling the strings. Rather, we are personally responsible before God for our every word and action. Then, has God left us alone? Does He have nothing to do with our lives? HOW IS HE ACTIVE IN OUR LIVES?

    I believe He is very active seeking to be a part of every decision that we make. As Christians, we seek to do His will. His Word is His will. The Bible is an adequate piece of His mind. After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus to Heaven, the Spirit of God which is holy was sent to dwell in the minds and hearts of His people. At baptism, after belief and repentance, we receive two wonderful blessings from God. They are: forgiveness of past sins and God’s gift which is His Spirit to live in us.

     Now, the Spirit of God works through the Word of God to direct, comfort, strengthen our lives. We read the Bible to be wise, keep it to be safe and obey it to be saved.

     The Bible, particularly the New Testament, lays down the precepts and principles by which we are to live. We are spiritual being housed in a body of flesh responding favorably and voluntarily to God’s call to be reconciled to Him. All of our life is governed by the Word of God. The conditions for prayer, righteous living and salvation are determined by a “Thus says the Lord.” We are tested and tempted by our own desires and when yielded to do God’s will, we will be victors not victims. When we accept that this old world with all of its hurts and heartaches is not our eternal home then we will look forward to that day when we can be at home with our Heavenly Father.

     Perhaps this illustration will help. Most parents do the very best they can to raise their children to be honest, God fearing adults. But, when the children become adults, they are on their own. Someone said, when children are little they step on your feet and when they are older they step on your heart. Parents can only watch and pray as their children grow up. They must not interfere. Parents cannot do for the children, the children must do for themselves. They must make their own mistakes and hopefully learn from them and grow. Each human being must live their own life, whose else can they live? Personal responsibility is the key to every one’s living. Let God help you. DON’T ROB YOURSELF OF STRUGGLE.

     We have to grow up and accept personal responsibility for living in this natural world governed by natural laws. May I tell you that I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES, BIBLICAL MIRACLES. God confirmed Jesus to be His son by enabling Him to perform miracles. God confirmed His divine message by enabling the Apostles to perform miracles. God gave us His Word, the Bible, so we could read about those miracles and believe. John 20:30-31 “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” NIV When something has been confirmed, it does not need to be reconfirmed. Go to The Book and allow the miracles recorded therein to produce faith in you. That is what the Word is for.

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2 Responses to “Articles”

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