Showing posts with the label Church

The Tribulation of the Church

In Revelation , John saw countless followers of the “ Lamb ” exiting the “ Great Tribulation ” after persevering through it. This striking image is central to his vision of the “ Innumerable Multitude ,” the men from every nation and people who were redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Having “ overcome ,” John saw them standing triumphantly in worship and celebration before the “ Lamb ” and the “ Throne ” in the “ Holy City, New Jerusalem .”

The Final Harvest

The description of the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost stresses the theme of fulfillment. On that day, what was foreshadowed by the ancient feast began to receive its promised substance. The bestowal of the Spirit was an epochal event that marked the start of the Age of the Spirit, and the Gift of the Spirit fulfilled what the annual Levitical feast symbolized.

People of the Last Days

The Assembly of God is the battlefield where the final war is being waged between the Lamb and the Ancient Serpent, the Devil . The Book of Revelation is addressed to seven first-century congregations in the Roman province of Asia. It deals with their real-life situations and trials. In the process, it presents messages relevant to all the assemblies of God throughout the present age, the period known as the “ Last Days ” which began following Calvary. The daily struggles of the Asian churches provide a microcosm of the great cosmic battle that is being waged between Jesus and the Devil.

Kingdom of Priests

The present sovereignty of Jesus is based on his past Death and Resurrection, and His disciples participate in his reign on the Earth. Like him, their position is paradoxical. It is characterized by self-sacrificial service rather than the suppression of unredeemed humanity. The shedding of his blood is what consecrated them as “ priests ,” and priestly service for others IS how they rule with him.

Tribulation vs Wrath

The terms “ tribulation ” and “ wrath ” are  NOT  synonymous in Paul’s letters or the  Book of Revelation . “ Tribulation ” is what the disciples of Jesus endure for his sake. “ Wrath ” is the horrific fate that awaits the wicked at the final judgment. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes that God did not appoint them to “ wrath .” Yet, in the same letter, he states that believers are destined for “ tribulation .”

The Spirit of Antichrist

The Antichrist is viewed as a political tyrant intent on world domination in many interpretations. Whether this proves to be true, Jesus and his Apostles expressed more concern about the deceivers who will ply their trade in the Assembly. Where the term Antichrist is found, it is applied to false teachers who were infiltrating the Body of Christ, distorting apostolic teachings, and raising false expectations about the future. The “ Spirit of the Antichrist ” manifests itself in deceivers, false prophets, and their deceptive activities.

In the Assembly

The term “antichrist” occurs only in the second and third letters of John, and the Apostle applies the plural form of the Greek noun to deceivers who were spreading false teachings in his congregations. The presence of “ antichrists ” constituted irrefutable evidence that the “ Last Days ” were underway, and the false teachers were the product of the “ Spirit of Antichrist ,” forerunners of the final “ Antichrist ” who was yet to come.

The Mission

Jesus commanded his followers to announce the same message he preached: He summarized it as the “ Good News of the Kingdom of God .” His Church would establish this Kingdom in unexpected and paradoxical ways. By his return, his sovereignty over all nations will be established and his “ enemies ” will be subdued, including the last one, “ death .” Until then, his disciples must proclaim his message to the “ uttermost parts of the Earth .”

Kingdom or Christendom

In popular usage, the English term ‘Christendom’ refers to “that part of the world in which Christianity prevails,” either because most of a nation’s citizens claim to be Christian, or because a specific church or denomination is recognized by the State as the country’s official religion. Thus, the nation becomes identified as “Christian,” it is one of the “Christian nations” as opposed to the less enlightened non-Christian peoples and cultures of the planet.

Seated in the Sanctuary

Jesus will not “ arrive ” to gather his “ elect ” until two events occur - The “ Apostasy ” and the “ Revelation of the Man of Lawlessness ,” and they are inextricably linked. It is not just the presence of this figure but his unveiling in the Assembly that will signal the imminence of the “ Day of the Lord .” Not only will he cause many to apostatize, but his identity will be unveiled when he “ sits down ” in the “ Sanctuary of God .”

The Redeemed of the Earth

The  Book of Revelation  applies several terms to the saints who are being persecuted by the Devil and his earthly agents. They form a united company that transcends national, social, and cultural boundaries. What they have in common is their redemption by the “ blood of the Lamb .” For his disciples, “ tribulation ” and persecution are not aberrations. Persevering through trials while bearing witness is what it means to follow the “ Lamb wherever he goes .”

Neither Jew nor Greek

Returning to the custodianship of the Law means rebuilding the wall between Jew and Gentile, but “you are all one in Christ - heirs of Abraham.”  In  Galatians , Paul portrays the Mosaic Law as the “ custodian ” or “ pedagogue ” that supervised Israel “ until  the seed came ,” and that “ seed ” was Jesus. In Greco-Roman society, the “ pedagogue ” was the slave with custodial and disciplinary authority over an underage child until he reached maturity, even though the custodian was a slave.

Absent Church?

After Jesus finished dictating his letters to the seven “ Assemblies of Asia ,” John saw an “ open door in Heaven ,” and he heard the voice from his first vision summon him to “ come up here .” He then found himself standing before the “Throne sitting in Heaven.” Does this image symbolize the physical removal of the Church from the Earth before the visions of chapters 5 through 22, the so-called ‘Rapture’?