The Coming Restoration—Education Renovation

habakkuk-2-14

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. —Acts 3:19-21 (New American Standard Bible, NASB)

EDUCATION AND KNOWLEDGE

In this day and age, a good education is highly recommended. Gone are the days when all you needed to get by in the world was to know the three R’s—reading, ’riting and ’rithmetic. Now there’s much more to learn—science, technology, computers, vocational training, management, life skills, have become what is now known as modern education.

But as much as modern education is useful and necessary for living in the world today, there is a never ending need to learn more and more as knowledge increases from day to day. Interestingly, the Bible says that knowledge will increase as we get closer to the return of Christ: “But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase,” (Daniel 12:4,  NASB).

As human knowledge increases, modern education becomes even more imperative. In fact, you can’t have one without the other. For education has been defined as, “A process of acquiring knowledge through study or imparting the knowledge by way of instructions or some other practical procedure,” (ExamPlanning).

KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM

Education is intended to bring progress toward human life and behavior. But it will always have its flaws if the knowledge is void of wisdom. Like someone said, “Knowledge without wisdom is as dangerous as an automobile with neither steering wheel nor brakes,” (14,000 Quips and Quotes, E.C. McKenzie). Education will get out of control if knowledge is not founded on God’s wisdom and knowledge.

So I ask: With all the knowledge our society accumulates, why are so many concerned about problems within our public schools and the educational system?

Christians are concerned that modern secular education ignores and/or distorts an important element of learning that children need: Knowledge that is grounded in God’s wisdom and knowledge. Because of cultural diversity, political correctness, and certain laws, public schools have shunned discussion of Biblical values and Christian teachings. And for this and other reasons, Christian families either homeschool their children or send them to Christian schools.

The need and desire to incorporate God’s knowledge and wisdom into education is relevant to the Christian believer. Christians can discern the futility of worldly wisdom and knowledge from the truth of God’s teachings. This is the same point the Apostle Paul was making when he wrote to the Corinthian Church. In a sense, he was educating the believers by showing them the difference between worldly wisdom and knowledge and God’s wisdom and knowledge. According to the prevailing worldview, God’s wisdom is foolishness and his knowledge is weak, which brought on Paul’s response,

“Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20; See verses 18-31.)

The apostle knew all about those well-educated fools of his day who, for example, viewed the death and resurrection of Christ as foolishness. They were interested in knowing the latest idea or philosophy but when it came to listening to the Good News about Jesus, many of them remained skeptical and would even mock those who believed in him (Compare with Acts 17:16-34.).

WORLDLY KNOWLEDGE/WISDOM VS. GOD’S KNOWLEDGE/WISDOM

In education, it’s important to remember the difference between worldly knowledge and God’s knowledge. Worldly knowledge is foolishness. God’s knowledge is wisdom.

In the Bible, the Greek word for “knowledge” stems from gnosis which means, “applied knowledge,” or “experiential knowledge,” (HELPS Word Studies, Bible Hub). Interestingly, the word “science” (from the Latin word, scientia) means, “knowledge.”

In Paul’s time there was a cult who made gnosis or knowledge their core belief called Gnosticism. It was primarily based on having special, personal knowledge. Fully aware of such belief, Paul urged Timothy to avoid “worldly and empty chatter.” In First Timothy 6:20-21, Paul closes his first letter to his young colleague saying,

“O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ [“science” in the King James Version]—which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be to you,” NASB).

The gnosis or “knowledge” of which Paul is speaking is worldly knowledge that breeds arrogance and human pride. He said, “knowledge makes arrogant,” (1 Corinthians 8:1). In other words, worldly knowledge puffs one up with pride. Unfortunately, one can be so educated that it can go to one’s head and so be used to belittle others. For this reason, it’s wise to remember, “An educated person is one who knows a great deal and says little about it,” (14,000 Quips and Quotes, E.C. McKenzie).

THE FUTURE REIGN OF CHRIST AND GOD’S KNOWLEDGE/WISDOM

When we look ahead to the restoration period during Jesus’ reign on earth, we must understand that education at that time will not be based on the worldly knowledge of this present age. Paul said, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely,” (1 Corinthians 13:12, New Living Translation, NLT).

During the coming restoration, it will be education on its fullest or highest level—God’s knowledge. This is truly higher education—higher than we can ever imagine now. For in this mortal life, “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God” are beyond our comprehension. Or, as Paul declares, “How unsearchable are his judgments and unfathomable are his ways!” (Romans 11:33).

But in the age to come, the Millennium (Latin, mille, a thousand, and annus, year) or 1,000-year reign of Christ (Revelation 20:1-6), his knowledge and wisdom will be revealed to the whole world. Indeed, the period of education renovation will take place starting from Jerusalem, the world capital, where Jesus will reign as King from his throne. In fact, Jesus will be the sole Source of that wisdom and knowledge.

Isaiah 11:1-2 says,

“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”

We know that the “shoot” springing from the stem of Jesse is Christ Jesus. And while this is associated with the birth and life of Jesus in his earthly ministry, its complete fulfillment will be during his future reign on earth. For verse 9 says, “…For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea,”—that is, “as the waters cover the sea-bed.”

Habakkuk 2:14 also says, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” Here we read, “the glory of the LORD,”—a reference to the brightness or shining brilliance of God’s glory as it was when it filled the Holy Temple (2 Chronicles 5:11-14; 1 Kings 8:11). In such a way, the light of wisdom, truth, and understanding will shine forth and enlighten the minds of the world.

THE CHURCH’S FUTURE EDUCATION RENOVATION ROLE

It is reasonable to believe that the Church will play a key role in taking the Lord’s knowledge and wisdom to every place around the globe until it spreads like “the waters cover the sea.” It says in Revelation 1:6 and 5:10 that the Church will be made “a kingdom” and “priests” in the 1,000-year reign of Christ. This is an indication that believers will hold co-ruling positions with Christ as his fellow heirs (Romans 8:17).

Keeping in mind that believers will have received immortality at the beginning of Jesus’ reign (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58; Revelation 20:6), we can imagine that believers will be given positions in accordance with their talents and gifts as in the “Parable of the Talents,” (Matthew 25:14-30). For when the Master returns he will say to the faithful, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter thou into the joy of the Lord,” (KJV).

We can envision that being “in charge of many things” will include an education renovation in which the church will be instrumental in teaching all people, languages, and nations the knowledge and wisdom of God. This is what the church is ultimately called to do not only in this age but in that renovation period.

“For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 4:6). In the context of this verse, Paul not only speaks of that which is temporary in this life, but eternal in the future life, “…the eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison…” (v. 17).

In First Peter 2:9, the church as well as Israel (for example, Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6; 10:15) has a place in God’s future plan: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” The mission and purpose of the church to teach all nations will continue during the Millennium. Those mortals living during that time will need to be educated in the knowledge and wisdom of Christ.

And speaking of Israel, Jerusalem will be the education center of all learning from the Jews as well as the Church. At the start of his 1,000-year reign, the Jews will be converted to Jesus Christ as the Messiah and King (Jeremiah 31:31-34; 32:37-40; Ezekiel 37:23, 26-28; Zechariah 12:10-14; Revelation 21:7). And so they will also be able to educate the nations who go up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you,”’” (Zechariah 8:20-23).

According to Zechariah 8:3,

“Thus says the Lord, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.’”

Just think of it: Truth in the City of Truth. Gone will be the false teachings of the world.

This coincides with Zephaniah 3:9 which says, “For then I will give to the peoples purified lips,” (NASB). According to Middle East expert in the Aramaic language, George M. Lamsa, this phrase is an idiom meaning, “a language of pure speech devoid of falsehood and deception,” (Idioms in the Bible Explained). And everyone will “serve him shoulder to shoulder.”

In the King James Version of Zephaniah 3:9 it says, “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.” In referring to this version, commentators say that in the reign of Christ everyone will speak in one pure language. They mention the fact that in history, two other events took place that had a profound bearing on language. Once was when God confused the language of those building the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). The other time was on the Day of Pentecost when the disciples were able to miraculously speak in other languages to the foreigners in attendance, “as the Spirit was giving them utterance,” (Acts 2:1-13). According to Bible commentators, it will be another momentous turn of events when everyone will communicate in one, “pure language.” Given this scenario, it would explain how the whole world could be united and re-educated in the Spirit of Christ’s knowledge and wisdom.

EDUCATION RENOVATION IS COMING

What a change there will be! Those who deny God’s existence will come to know the truth that God DOES exist. Those who deny that Jesus is the Son of God will come to learn the truth that he really IS the Son of God. Those who followed the false teachings of man will come to learn the knowledge of truth through the instructions of the Lord. No false religions; no false teachers; no false leaders. Classrooms will be filled with everyone learning the truth from those who know and teach the Truth. Truth will prevail for Christ, the Truth, will prevail. Education renovation will be in progress when Christ rules the earth in all his glory and majesty.

This promise gives us all the more reason to make Jesus Christ the King of our lives today. While we pursue a good education in this life, we know how much more important it is to pursue the higher education of learning from God’s Word. For we desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of our God through his Son so that we may be prepared for the glorious Day when Jesus rules the world in the coming restoration.

In our next post, we will look at The Coming Restoration—Environmental Renovation. This should be of interest to all environmentalists as well as all believers.

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. For your inspiration, here’s the Official Live Video of Sandi Patty singing, “We Shall Behold Him”: http://youtu.be/KZ3H3lg9NZM

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The Coming Restoration—Government Renovation

Jesus on his throne

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. —Acts 3:19-21 (New American Standard Bible, NASB)

In my last post, The Coming Restoration—Global Renovation, I referred to “globalization.” This is not to be equated with “global” or “globalism.” “Global” simply refers to that which affects the whole world. And “globalism” is “the idea that events in one country cannot be separated from those in another and that economic and foreign policy should be planned in an international way,” (Cambridge Dictionary).

“Globalization” goes further in that it takes in a bigger change as part of the “new world order.” As I stated, “It basically means that national boundaries will disappear and national governments will no longer be significant. In other words, we’re moving from a world with national borders to one without them. Many believe this movement has prophetic implications in regard to the return of Christ.”

Interestingly, Revelation 13 is a prophecy about a new system that is quite descriptive of a new world order. It will be led by a political ruler called, “a beast coming out of the sea,” (Revelation 13:1-10). Often, references to “sea” in prophecy are figurative for the sea or mass of humanity. For example, in Luke 21:25, “distress of nations with perplexity” is likened to “the sea and the waves roaring.”

This beast is also known as “the little horn” in Daniel 7; “the man of sin” in Second Thessalonians 2:2-10; and “the Antichrist” in First John 2:18, 22, 4:2, 3; 2 John 7. He will receive power, a throne, and great authority and the whole world will follow him.

Moreover, he will have the full-fledged support of the False Prophet known as, “the beast coming up from out of the earth” (Revelation 13:11). He will be a worldwide religious leader who will attempt to establish a one-world religion. He will declare himself as god sitting in a temple (Daniel 7:9-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) and do great miracles. He will perform marvelous signs which will deceive many while forcing others to worship the political world ruler under threat of death. And this will also involve the movement toward a one-world economic system, as well. (Revelation 13:11-18).

When Jesus appears, he will destroy the Beast and False Prophet and set up his own world-wide system (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; 2:8). It will supersede the evil, ungodly systems of the world. This includes the one-world government attempted by the Beast and False Prophet and all those who supported them.

In Revelation 19, Jesus will “smite the nations; and he will rule them with a rod of iron,” (19:15). This will be authorized by God himself, who will install his Son, Jesus, as King. Psalm 2:6-9 also says,

“But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain. I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, you shall shatter them like earthenware’” (New American Standard Bible, NASB).

The reference to “rod of iron” is describing the power and authoritative rule of Christ. Nations, along with the Beast and False Prophet and their followers, will go against Christ the King in the last days. But Jesus the King will soundly defeat them (19:17-21; 2 Thess. 2:8-12) to await future judgment after the 1,000 years are completed.

In the meantime, Jesus Christ will triumphantly rule as King over all the nations in his kingdom, as indicated in his official title, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS,”  (19:16). Elsewhere in scripture, we likewise read,

1 Timothy 6:15, “…that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Revelation 17:14, “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”

As pointed out in Psalm 2:6-9, when Jesus returns to this earth, God himself will install his Son as King: “But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, my holy mountain.” The meaning of “install” is “to pour out,” as in an offering or anointing which became holy or set apart for a divine purpose. Jesus is Christ or Messiah meaning, “The Anointed One.” God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is set apart by God for the holy position of King as well as Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:18; Acts 2:20-26) and Priest (Hebrews 5:1-10).

God ordained that Jesus will be earth’s King. He was born to be King, not only of Israel (Luke 1:31-33) but the entire earth (Zechariah 14:9). Dr. Alva G. Huffer pointed out,

“Christ, the King, was anointed at his baptism; He was coronated at His ascension; He will be enthroned when He returns. Jesus receives his kingly authority from God alone,” (Systematic Theology).

When he was baptized, Christ was anointed with God’s Power (John 1:29-34). After he died on the cross for our sins, was resurrected to immortality, God coronated him with “all authority…in heaven and on earth,” (Matt. 28:18) at the time of his ascension to heaven. The LORD God who will give Jesus, “the throne of his Father David,” (Luke 1:32) and fulfill his kingly position. Jesus—the Lamb of God who was “slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and might and honor and glory and blessing,” (Rev. 5:12), is entitled to be exalted as King of the earth in royal splendor and power.

When Christ is enthroned, he will establish his government. According to Isaiah 9:6-7, “the government will rest on his shoulders…There will no end to his government…” This parallels the Prophet Daniel’s description in Daniel 7:13-14,

“I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.”

Christ’s government will replace and supersede all earthly governments and their leaders. In their places will be the faithful in Christ. Having received immortality at his return (1 Thess. 4:16-18; 1 Cor. 15:50-58), believers will be given positions of co-ruler or co-heirs of Christ (Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 1:4).

Although we don’t know how it will all work out in detail, we do know that believers (the church) will be made “a kingdom” and “priests” in Christ’s Kingdom. (Rev. 1:6; 5:10). From Jesus’ “Parable of the Talents” we can imagine the possibility that believers will be given certain portions of Christ’s kingdom in accordance with their talents or gifts (Matthew 25:14-30). It’s reasonable to believe that believers will teach and minister to all nations and people in their culture and languages that are living during that time.

Jesus’ dominion will also include the nation of Israel. Israel will be converted to Christ (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 11:17-20; Rom. 11:25-26; Rev. 1:7), and exalted by him among over all nations of the earth (Zechariah 8:13, 20-23). Everyone living in that period will look to Israel for blessings and prosperity. Isaiah 60:3 says of Israel, “And nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” Isaiah 61:6 says of Israel “You will eat the wealth of nations and in their riches you will boast.”

Israel will consist of the original twelve tribes of Israel as they will be gathered from out of all the nations where they’ve been scattered (Ezekiel 37:15-28; Zechariah 8:7-8). And their territory will extend to the places promised to them since God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 17:1-8; 22:17-18) and David (2 Samuel 7:12-16; 1 Chronicles 17:7-14; Jeremiah 33:20-21). This includes all the land from the Nile River in Egypt to Lebanon (south to north) and everything from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River (west to east), (Genesis 15:18; Joshua 1:4). This is much more land than what consists as Israel’s boundary today—specifically, from Egypt to Iraq, from Saudi Arabia to Turkey.

The governmental renovation of Christ will truly be magnificent. Since the church will be co-rulers with King Jesus, one important work will be education. This will be the subject in our next post, The Coming Restoration—Education Renovation.

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Here’s Bluegrass Brethren singing, “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations”: http://youtu.be/UbPHxRKNMP8

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The Coming Restoration—Global Renovation

Coming Kingdom of God on Earth

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. —Acts 3:19-21 (New American Standard Bible, NASB)

Whenever something “global” happens it affects the whole world. So when we hear terms like “global economy,” “global warming,” “global system of communication,” “global warfare” it pertains to the entire globe rather than a specific region or country.

The word “global” is akin to the word, “globalism.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, it’s “the idea that events in one country cannot be separated from those in another and that economic and foreign policy should be planned in an international way.” Globalism is a human approach for forming policy.

Another word that is often used in the context of globalism is “globalization.” This goes a step further in that globalization takes in a bigger change in the world order, known also as “the new world order.” It basically means that national boundaries will disappear and national governments will no longer be significant. In other words, we’re moving from a world with national borders to one without them. Many believe this movement has prophetic implications in regard to the return of Christ. We will cover this further in our next post.

For now, suffice it to say that all the renovation of things that will take place in the restoration period will be on a global scale. As I pointed out in my last post, that period will cover 1,000 years known as the Millennium. It will be during that time that the whole world will come under the 1,000-year reign of Christ (Revelation 20:2-7). And he will make world-wide changes not only in all governmental systems, but in education, the environment, world peace, and health conditions that will never end.

The global characteristics of the coming restoration include the fact that the Kingdom will fill the entire planet. In Daniel 2, the Prophet Daniel interpreted the haunting dream of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. The king dreamed of a large statue with a head of gold, beast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet partly of iron and partly of clay. Each part represented different empires and their world dominance that would come and go until the end of time.

Daniel envisioned that in the end, a stone will strike the statue and become “a mountain” that will fill “the whole earth.” This stone is none other than Jesus Christ who will set up his own kingdom on the entire earth (Daniel 2:44; Revelation 19:11-16).

Also, according to Daniel 7:27, “Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One…” Notice the location of the renovation: “under the whole heaven.” The rendering of “heaven” here is literally “the sky.” What else but the earth is under the sky? It’s definitely not talking about being in heaven. For it will be beneath ALL of the sky. No matter where you walk all around the globe you are beneath the sky above you.

The earth is where the action will be when Christ sets down on earth with his church. And it will affect the entire planet. It will be global in that Daniel 7:27 says, “all the kingdoms.” No nation or kingdom on this globe will be excluded.

In Habakkuk 2:14 and Isaiah 11:9, the global nature of the coming restoration is described as “the waters that cover the sea.” In the coming restoration, everyone in the entire planet will come to know the Lord and his glory. This is describing the totality of the Kingdom. Every nation, language, and culture will know the Lord so that every inch of the earth will be covered like the water covers the seas.

This is also described in Daniel 7:14, for the restoration will include “all people, nations, and languages.” This truly fills the definition of global. The renovation will go beyond borders to all people on the earth regardless of national, cultural, racial, and ethnic identity.

The parables of Jesus illustrate the worldwide element of the restoration. What is a parable? It is basically a story that teaches a lesson or illustrates an important event.

Middle East expert, George M. Lamsa wrote,

“Speaking by parables is an oriental practice. In countries where the people are illiterate, understanding of the truth is conveyed by means of illustrations or parables. A parable is an oral picture which portrays and illustrates an event or doctrine. Parables are familiar to the people and are composed by the speaker out of the incidents and experiences of his own life.” (Gospel Light).

Although Jesus’ parables provide vital instructions on Christian living, they also relate to the coming restoration in the Kingdom. His parables are often referred to as “Kingdom parables” because of his repeated references to the Kingdom of heaven or Kingdom of God.

For example, in Matthew 13, Jesus spoke seven parables to his followers. After he spoke his first parable about the sower (vss. 3-9), the disciples asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven…,” (vss. 10-11). Then, after going on to explain this parable to them (vss. 18-23), he tells six other parables (vss. 24-52), each one beginning with, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to,” or “like.”

The futuristic tone of these parables culminate in the phrase, “kingdom of heaven” and how it applies, for example, to “the end of the age,” (Mathew 13:40, 49).  Lest the phrase be misunderstood, this does not say, “Kingdom IN heaven,” as though that’s where the Kingdom will be located. The phrase, “kingdom OF heaven,” is the same as “kingdom of God.” (Compare, Matt. 10:7; Luke 9:2). And it literally pertains to the territorial reign of Christ over the whole earth.

According to Lamsa,

“The kingdom of heaven in Aramaic is malcotha dash-maya. It means the universal kingdom, that is, the Messianic kingdom which was to embrace all people on earth and to restore the David throne.”

In our next post, we will take a further look at the way the Messianic kingdom will affect all the nations and the changes that will be made as we discuss, “The Coming Restoration— Governmental Renovation.”

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Here is music artist, Paul Wilbur, singing, “He Shall Reign Over All the Earth”: http://youtu.be/dUczyddekTQ

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The Coming Restoration

The Restoration of All Things

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. —Acts 3:19-21 (New American Standard Bible, NASB)

As I was perusing the subject of restoration, I came across this illustration…

Microsoft has formally launched the final revision of its Windows operating system for PCs. It’s called Windows “Me”—short for Windows Millennial Edition.
One feature of Windows Me that has caused a stir is its new “system restore” feature. How does it work? Suppose you suffer a system crash on your computer this Thursday. You’re not a computer expert, and you don’t know how to recover the last two weeks of financial information you entered Wednesday, your daughter’s history report she started writing Monday, or your favorite game. All you have to do is select “system restore” and specify the date to which you want your machine reset. Voila! Problem solved. All the things you somehow messed up are put back in their configuration as of that earlier day. Wouldn’t you like to market that feature for human lives? (Rubel Shelly, Bible Center)

That last question not only has personal inference—that is, God’s restoration of our lives through Christ—but in the broader picture, how his restoration plan will affect the future of the world. Through Christ, we repent and are forgiven of our sins. Thus, we’re personally restored under his saving grace (Ephesians 2:8). But his restoration process doesn’t end there. Rather, it continues on until the “period of restoration of all things” takes place in the future. While believers are having their lives restored through Christ in this life, they are also preparing for the coming restoration of all things when Jesus comes back.

In Acts 2, when the Apostle Peter spoke to his fellow Jews on the Day of Pentecost, he revealed that Jesus was the Messiah whom they crucified. He exhorted them to be restored to God by repenting of their sins, being baptized in his name for their forgiveness of sins, for receiving the gift of God’s Spirit to change their lives (v. 38). This applies to all of us, as well (v. 39).

In Acts 3, Peter enters into another sermon with the Jews after he and John were involved in the healing of the lame man at the temple. Again, after relating how God raised Jesus from death and fulfilled what the prophets wrote, Peter exhorts them to repent of their sins. But this time he adds, “…in order that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that he may send Jesus the Christ appointed for you…”

Notice that Peter relates Israel’s repentance with the return of Jesus. This is referring to the turn of events that will take place world-wide when the Jews finally recognize and accept Jesus as God’s chosen Messiah (Zechariah 12:10). The apostles knew full well that when they accept Jesus as God’s Anointed and their Savior or Deliverer, he would save and exalt them just as the prophets of old prophesied (Isaiah 60:1-22).

When the resurrected Lord was with his disciples the forty days prior to his ascension into heaven, they inquired, “Lord, is it as this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6.) They were referring to the restoration of Israel to it’s former glory as during the time of Kings David and Solomon (Jeremiah 31:31-40).

Jesus responded that it was not for them to know the times and epochs God had in store for them, but God would send them his Power to be his witnesses in the meantime (Acts 1:7-8). Not long afterward, Jesus ascended to heaven. And while they were watching Jesus taken up in a cloud two heavenly angels said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven will come in just the same way as you have watched him go into heaven,” (Acts 1:9-11).

The coming restoration of Israel to God and his Messiah, Jesus, is not just the hope of Jews but all those who’ve repented of their sins, been baptized into Christ, and received God’s Spirit. When Jesus comes to save Israel, he will come with the church, the called out in his name. The resurrection of all the faithful asleep in death and the catching up of those in Christ who remain alive, will meet him in the air at his return “and so shall we ever be with the Lord,” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The Bible says the church will be with the Lord as he sets foot on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:3-5; Colossians 3:4; 2 Thesssalonians 1:7-10; Jude 14-15). The Apostle Paul spoke of “…the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints [the church, for example, Philippians 1:1]. And thus, believers will rule and reign with Christ as he establishes the Kingdom on earth (Revelation 1: 5-6).

When Christ comes to initiate the restoration of Israel, call forth his church, and establish God’s Kingdom, he will make seven renovations. Seven is a number of completion and perfection. It is said to be God’s perfect number because the number seven and its multiples are often used throughout God’s actions and instructions in the Bible (i.e., God rested from creating on the seventh day; the seven feasts of Israel; the seventh week of prophecy in Daniel; the seven vials of wrath in Revelation, and so forth).

The seven renovations that will occur at the commencement of Jesus’ return will be…

1. Global;
2. Governmental;
3. Educational;
4. Environmental;
5. Peaceable;
6. Physical;
7. Eternal.

Over the next several weeks, we will take a look at each of these renovations in the coming restoration of all things. Keep in mind, God’s “system restore” is also about ME, as in me, you, and his plan that will affect everyone. Moreover, it will literally be a “millennial edition” since the second coming of Christ will commence the 1,000 year reign of Christ (a.k.a., the Millennium) according to Revelation 20:2-7.

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Our hope of the coming restoration is built on Christ the Solid Rock: http://youtu.be/rkMapZB8qMk

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Satisfied to be Unsatisfied

God-Satisfaction-Guaranteed

You’d think that if you saw a miracle or two right before your very eyes, you couldn’t be much happier especially if it happened to you. But there’s probably someone who’d still have something to complain about. Humans!

Remember the miracle in the Bible about the feeding of the five thousand? (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, and Luke 9:10-17) It’s been opined, “Among the five thousand who were fed with the two fish and the five loaves of bread, there were doubtless several who complained about the bones in the fish.” (1001 Humorous Illustrations)

Even when everything is going very well, there’s probably one person who still won’t be satisfied. But it wouldn’t be anything new. I can imagine it goes all the way back to creation. Someone joked, “The Lord created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. On the eighth day, he started to answer complaints.” (Ibid.)

The fact that people are hard to please is why we see products that are advertised under the slogan, “Satisfaction 100% Guaranteed.” According to one source,

The phrase “satisfaction guaranteed” is often used as an advertising slogan more than a legally binding contract. The implication is that the product or service is so reliable or consistent in quality that the manufacturer or service provider is willing to stand behind it. This doesn’t necessarily mean the product or service has an absolutely perfect performance history, but it does mean the customer will be guaranteed some form of satisfaction even if the product does not meet his or her expectations. (WiseGeek.com)

The “satisfaction guarantee” we are so accustomed to affects are attitude and behavior. Our attitude is that if we’re not satisfied, someone will have to do something about the situation until we ARE satisfied. But if nothing IS done about it, then our behavior is to make demands and take necessary actions that WILL make us satisfied regardless the cost.

As Christians, what about our satisfaction as we follow Christ? Is it guaranteed? Should it be? When I was baptized into Christ and became a member of his family, I don’t recall signing an agreement that stated, “Satisfaction 100% Guaranteed.” If you’re a Christian, do you remember such a contract?

But I do remember my commitment to Christ and the satisfaction of receiving him into my life the day I was baptized in his name. And yet it didn’t take long until I realized that my satisfaction in accepting Christ doesn’t guarantee there won’t be times of dissatisfaction.

Indeed, I don’t think that we should ever expect to be 100% satisfied all the time even though we are his followers. For example, we ought not be so satisfied with our faith that we neglect growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.

The Apostle Peter ended his second letter to the church with these parting words:

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:17-18, New American Standard Bible, NASB)

Notice that he speaks of those who’ve erred because they are “unprincipled.” Usually, unprincipled people are never satisfied no matter what you try to do for them. They follow no principle or guideline that guarantees it.

Peter says not to fall into their error “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” It stands to reason that if we’re merely satisfied to be a Christian, we’ll never really be satisfied UNTIL we’re growing or maturing in the Lord’s grace and knowledge. Being a Christian is a growing process and we’re unsatisfied if we don’t put forth our best effort to grow in him. The moment we think we’re satisfied, we start being spiritually stagnant, and therefore prone to fall into “the error of unprincipled men.”

Growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ includes the satisfaction of being unsatisfied knowing we must continually strive for excellence. This is coined “inspirational dissatisfaction,” for we are always wanting to improve ourselves. And it’s is especially true as we grow in Christ and his principles. 

In the first chapter of Peter’s second letter to the church, the apostle wrote,

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins,” 2 Peter 1:5-9, (NASB)

No one can say they are 100% satisfied to have attained all of these virtues or qualities. But we can be satisfied knowing that through the grace and knowledge of Christ, we are sincerely striving to pursue them in our daily lives.

When we’re satisfied to think that applying these virtues are not necessary then we’re showing signs of complacency. We become spiritually shortsighted, therefore, shortchanging ourselves of spiritual growth. And when that happens, we forget our purification from our sins and turn back to an unfulfilled and unhappy life. We then complain when things do not happen as we’d wish.

We know that no matter how hard we try, we’ll never always be satisfied in this life. But as long as we’re satisfied to know this, then we can be confident in our spiritual growth knowing that a day will come when we will never be unsatisfied. When Jesus comes and rewards his servants will immortality to live in God’s Kingdom, there will be everlasting satisfaction and joy (Isaiah 35:10; 51:11). And this is the day of which Peter is speaking when he goes on to write,

“Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you,” (2 Peter 1:10-11), NASB).

With the knowledge that we’re doing all we can by God’s grace to put these virtues into practice, we can look forward to the satisfaction of entering the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when he comes. We will no longer have any complaints for “the former things are passed away,” (Rev. 21:4) that make us unsatisfied in this mortal life. And that’s guaranteed, 100%!

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Satisfaction is guaranteed through Christ who give us everlasting joy. Here’s Jon Egan singing, “Everlasting Joy,” http://youtu.be/rxnW7b5aiKs

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Preparing for the Unprepared

prepared_unprepared

Preparation is a fact of life. It’s what we do whether we’re getting an education, planning a delicious meal, scheduling a vacation, making out a will, and everything else that comes along in life. It’s how we’re ready for what lies ahead.

We know that whatever we pursue, preparation is essential. It’s just about impossible to achieve anything if you don’t make adequate preparation for it. Like Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Indeed, there are consequences for one who is not prepared. It hinders self-improvement. It might keep one from getting a raise, winning a game, losing a friend, and other disappointing results. It can be most embarrassing. And preachers are no exception for the need to be prepared. For example…

To his horror, the pastor discovered during the service that he had forgotten his sermon notes, so he said to the congregation, by way of apology, “This morning I shall have to depend upon the Lord for what I might say, but next Sunday I will come better prepared.” (An Encyclopedia of Humor, Lowell D. Streiker)

Christians know that spiritual preparation is more important than preparing for anything else in life. We know that it just makes a lot of sense, for one thing. Like Jesus said,

“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish,’” (Luke 14:28-30, New American Standard Version, NASB).

As Jesus so vividly points out, preparation is part of “calculating the cost” of what it takes to be a true follower of Christ.

Christ set the example of preparation as I mentioned in my last post (“The House of Many Mansions,” 1/11/2020). He is preparing a place for us in the Kingdom when he returns. But this did not come without a cost—the price he paid in his blood when he died on the cross for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3).

Jesus knew what he was preparing for. And most of the time we have a good idea what we need to be prepared for, too. On the other hand, sometimes we face situations we aren’t quite prepared for—something that happens suddenly without any warning— something stolen, an accident, natural disaster, or even the sudden loss of a loved one. And we’re left scared, stunned, saddened. How can we be prepared for those situations?

Of all kinds of preparations one can make, spiritual preparation provides the confidence and strength that’s needed particularly during those least expected circumstances. It entails reaching out and up to the One above who is in control even when it appears that everything is out of control. It means putting our complete trust in God, the one and only source of truth, peace, love, and hope.

If we are building our lives on the truth of his Word, we are preparing for the unprepared with a firm spiritual foundation that keeps us planted on solid ground, not on the shaky ground of fear and hopelessness. Jesus spoke of the need for such a foundation in his Parable of the Wise Man and the Foolish Man,

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall,” (Matthew 7:24-27, NASB)

Building on God’s Word is on-going  and rewarding. It builds spiritual growth, character, discipline. It gets us ready for anything, anytime, anywhere. We read about real people in the Bible who’ve experienced the unexpected and how their faith carried them through. Then we’re encouraged to grow in our faith, too, so that we can face life’s challenges. And we can humbly appreciate how their courage inspires us to move forward even during the most desperate of times.

We take God’s Word to heart and keep it close by in our thoughts according to the amount of study we put into it (Psalm 119:11). Reading it as a part of our daily routine keeps us reminded of God’s promises and the wisdom they constantly provide. As the Psalmist declared to God,

“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path,” (Psalm 119:105, NASB).

Abiding in God’s Word includes keeping in touch with him through actions like prayer, worship, fellowship, and witnessing our faith. Prayer provides the power, worship provides the surrender of our attitude, fellowship provides the support, and witnessing our faith provides sharing our hope. If these activities are being done consistently, then we’re building on the sure foundation that provides safety, security and stability when unexpected situations arise.

And don’t forget the future life to come. Through spiritual preparation we will be ready for that Great Day that, sadly, many are NOT prepared for. Jesus heavily emphasized preparing for his second coming. He said many will not be prepared for he will come at an hour when you least expect it:

“But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect,” (Luke 12:39-40, NASB).

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. The Cedarmont Kids present one of the old choruses I remember singing in Sunday School, “The Wise Man and the Foolish Man,” http://youtu.be/3HVdbULOVHA

There are more verses to the song that we used to sing as well:

So build your house on the Lord, Jesus Christ;
So build your house on the Lord, Jesus Christ;
So build your house on the Lord Jesus,
And the blessings will come down.

The blessings come down as your prayers go up;
The blessings come down as your prayers go up;
The blessings come down as your prayers go up;
So build your life on the Lord.

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The House of Many Mansions

Jesus_I will come again

Now don’t you be grieving cause I’m leaving,
Don’t cry when I say goodbye,
There’ll be no weeping where I’m going,
To my mansion in the sky.

The above lyrics to the classic Country Gospel song, “To My Mansion in the Sky” (lyrics by Jimmie Davis) illustrates what many believe they will receive when they reach the end of their mortal lives on earth. Many Christians envision a mansion—a large stately-looking dwelling with breath-taking beauty, abundantly-rich features, and enormous rooms— awaiting their immortal souls in heaven at death. Their hope is to go to a mansion prepared for them in heaven that will provide complete contentment, tranquility, and bliss.

The idea of such a mansion comes from the way some have interpreted Jesus’ words in John 14:2 according to the King James Version (KJV): “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” Interestingly, many other Bible translations do not use the word “mansions” which sheds a whole different light on what Jesus was really referring to.

Let’s examine the word according to the original New Testament Greek in which it was recorded. According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, “mansion” is derived from the Greek word, moné (pronounced mo nay´), meaning, “dwelling-place, room, abode, mansion, lodging.” The only other place a form of this word (monen) is used (both times by Christ) is John 14:23, translated “abode”: “Jesus answered and said to him (Judas, not Iscariot), ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him.” Other words for “abode” here are “dwelling, abiding, staying.” Some of the modern translations such as the New Living Translation (NLT) use the word “home”: “…and we will come and make our home with him.”

Clearly, in both John 14:2 and 23, Jesus is not speaking of a literal “mansion” like some picture it. And why would he, anyway? Mansions are associated with material things that only the rich and famous can afford. Would Jesus guarantee such worldliness to the godly in a place that is thought of as righteous and holy?

In reality, Jesus is referring to “mansions” in a metaphorical sense. Jesus said that if we love him and keep his Word, he and his Father will love us and make our home in us via his Spirit or Power. Verse 26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, which the Father will send in my name, shall teach you all things, and remind you of all things which I said to you,” (The Emphatic Diaglott, TED). When we accept Christ into our lives (Acts 2:38-29), God’s Power will be imparted to us, filling us with his peace through Christ (v. 27).

And yet, there’s something even greater to come… In verse 28, Jesus alludes to the fact that he will come again: “You heard that I said to you, ‘I am going away and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice, that I am going to the Father; Because my Father I greater than I,” (TED). Jesus said he was going to ascend to heaven, which he did 40 days after he was resurrected to life. By the way, in Acts 1:3, Jesus not only spent those forty days presenting proof to many people that was indeed alive, but he also spoke of those “things concerning the kingdom of God.”

The “kingdom of God” is to be fulfilled when Jesus visibly and literally returns to earth. When Jesus was taken in a cloud and ascended into heaven before the very eyes of the disciples (Acts 1:9), two men in white clothing stood beside them (Acts 1:10) and declared, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched him go into heaven, (Acts 1:9-11, New American Standard Bible, NASB).

When Jesus was referring to “in my Father’s house are many mansions,” he went on to say, “I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I am coming again, and will receive you to myself, so that where I am you also may be,” (John 14:2-3, TED). Jesus, therefore, ascended to heaven to prepare a place for us. Since Jesus is talking about coming again to receive his people (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18), the “place” he is referring to is a place in God’s coming Kingdom. And where will that Kingdom be? The Bible says it will be on the earth (Daniel 7:14; Micah 4:1-4; Luke 1:31-32; 2 Timothy 4:1).

At this time, Jesus is preparing a place for his people in his Kingdom. He is at the right hand of God’s throne in heaven (Romans 8:34) acting as our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). He is now interceding for those who’ve entered his house or family.

Jesus was referring to the Christian faithful when he said, “In my Father’s house…” The “house” (Greek, oikia) he is referring to is not a literal structure but those who belong to the “household” of God through faith (Galatians 6:10). In other words, Jesus is saying, “In my Father’s family there are many abiding places….”

Thanks to our Savior Jesus Christ, we can claim our place in the Family of God. Through Christ, our heavenly Father has graciously given his Church the gift of His Power to serve him. Through that Power, Christ makes his abode in us (Ephesians 3:14-19). In the meanwhile, as citizens of Christ in heaven, we eagerly await his glorious return to earth and the glorious transformation that will then take place (Philippians 3:20-21).

From what we can conclude, there are no “mansions in the sky” awaiting persons who’ve died. According to the Bible, when Jesus comes to establish God’s Kingdom over the earth, the dead in Christ will be resurrected, and those in Christ who are still living, will receive immortality (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58). Until then, all are “asleep” in their graves, unconscious of anything like a mansion (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; John 11:11-15; 25-46).

Believers put their hope in the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6). We are expecting to receive positions as kings and priests, ruling and reigning with Christ in his Kingdom (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6; 2 Timothy 2:12). Who wants a mansion in the sky when God has promised something so much better: a glorious place where we will dwell with Christ and our Heavenly Father and the Kingdom is finally established (Acts 3:21; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1-9).

Christ is preparing room for us in his Kingdom. Have you made your reservations yet? Do you count yourself as a member of his family? Are you ready for him to give you eternal life even if he comes now?

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Here is the beautiful booming baritone voice of Wintley Phipps singing, “Jesus is Coming Again,” http://youtu.be/SyIxSC5QZ-E

 

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