Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Gospel of the Kingdom

Matthew 24:14, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."

Many say that the preaching of the gospel will go to the whole world and then Jesus will come. We know that in Matt. 24 we have the signs of the coming tribulation and the second coming at the end of the tribulation for the kingdom. We see the shadows now in the church age but the substance will come in the tribulation age after the rapture. Because we see the shadows getting shorter, we know the rapture is near.

What is this preaching of the kingdom? Let the Scripture speak.

1. The Shadows in the Church Age. In the church age the gospel is to be taken to the whole world [Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:19], but it is not a requirement for the rapture or the Lord’s second coming. Let me qualify that by a question.

What is the gospel of the kingdom? [v. 14].

It is the end-time message of the imminence of Christ’s coming kingdom. In the church age we proclaim the gospel of grace or salvation, in the tribulation the message will be the coming 1,000 reign of Christ in his promised literal kingdom. The Gospel of the kingdom is used 3x in the gospels and 2x by John in reference to the kingdom or millennial reign. It is never used in the epistles in regard to the gospel of salvation by grace.

2. The Substance in the Tribulation. We have the two great witnesses in the tribulation after the church is taken out [Rev. 11], and the sealed 144,000 witnesses [Rev. 7, 14].

The angel of Rev. 14:6-7, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, (7) Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”

In Rev. 14:6-7 we have the fulfillment of Matt. 24:14.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Citizen of Heaven and Follower of Christ

This is a good read from Phil Johnson on his Pyromaniacs Blog

1. We are pilgrims, not tourists. We are exiles and explorers—not day trippers or vacationers. We're supposed to be ascending like first-century pilgrims on their way to a feast in Jerusalem, not wandering like the Old Testament Israelites in the wilderness.

2. We are disciples, not academics. We are working apprentices, not merely auditors of a course where we're free to skip the exams. We are interns who are responsible to put what we learn into practice; we're not imbibing information recreationally for the sake of accumulating hypothetical knowledge. Our discipleship is a vocation, not a hobby.

3. We are servants, not superstars. We're members of the church—and it's a community, not a resort. We're here to serve, not to be served. We're motivated by our concern for God's glory, not our own comfort. Our ministry is for the sake of others, not self. We're ambassadors in a foreign land, bringing a message of good news to the weary, wounded, and guilty souls who live there, offering them refuge on higher ground—and inviting them to join us on the walk to our home.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Churches Greatest Enemies

The most dangerous adversaries of biblical truth today are not government policies that undermine our values; not secular beliefs that attack our confessions of faith; not even atheists who deny our God. It's my conviction that the worst, most persistent hindrances to the advance of the gospel today are worldly churches and hireling shepherds who trivialize Christianity. This is not a new problem, and it's no exaggeration to portray such people as enemies of the gospel. There were men just like that vying for influence even in apostolic times—in the very earliest churches. In Philippians 3:18-19, the apostle Paul wrote: "For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ." One of the chief characteristics the New Testament cites about these enemies of the cross—enemies of authentic grace—was that they "set their minds on earthly things" (Philippians 3:19). They "pervert[ed] the grace of our God into sensuality" (Jude 4). They twisted the idea of Christian liberty into an opportunity to gratify the flesh. They "[used their] freedom as a cover-up for evil" (1 Peter 2:16). In short, they were carnal, worldly men, who twisted the idea of Christian liberty into an excuse for self-indulgence. In the process, they trivialized the cross, corrupted the idea of grace, and perverted the gospel. None of the apostles were squeamish when it came to calling them out- Phil Johnson

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

You Can't Take the Crowd With You

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14)

At once we are reminded of some of the outstanding characteristics of this Christian life to which our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ calls us.

The first thing we notice is that it is a life which is narrow or strait at the very beginning.

Immediately it is narrow. It is not a life which at first is fairly broad, and which as you go on becomes narrower and narrower. No!

The gate itself, the very way of entering into this life, is a narrow one. It is important to stress and impress that point because, from the standpoint of evangelism, it is essential. When worldly wisdom and carnal motives enter into evangelism you will find that there is no ‘strait gate.’

Too often the impression is given that to be a Christian is after all very little different from being a non-Christian, that you must not think of Christianity as a narrow life, but as something most attractive and wonderful and exciting, and that you come in in crowds. It is not so according to our Lord.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is too honest to invite anybody in that way. It does not try to persuade us that it is something very easy, and that it is only later on that we shall begin to discover it is hard. The gospel of Jesus Christ openly and uncompromisingly announces itself as being something which starts with a narrow entrance, a strait gate.

At the very beginning it is absolutely essential that we should realize that. Let us look at this in a little more detail. We are told at the very outset of this way of life, before we start on it, that if we would walk along it there are certain things which must be left outside, behind us.

There is no room for them, because we have to start by passing through a strait and narrow gate. I like to think of it as a turnstile. It is just like a turnstile that admits one person at a time and no more. And it is so narrow that there are certain things which you simply cannot take through with you.

It is exclusive from the very beginning, and it is important that we should look at this Sermon in order to see some of the things which must be left behind. The first thing we leave behind is what is called worldliness. We leave behind the crowd, the way of the world. ‘Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.’

You must start by realizing that, by becoming a Christian, you become something exceptional and unusual.

You are making a break with the world, and with the crowd, and with the vast majority of people. It is inevitable; and it is important that we should know it. The Christian way of life is not popular. It never has been popular, and it is not popular today.

It is unusual, exceptional, strange, and it is different. On the other hand, crowding through the wide gate and traveling along the broad way is the thing that everybody else seems to be doing. You deliberately get out of that crowd and you start making your way towards this strait and narrow gate, alone. You cannot take the crowd with you into the Christian life: it inevitably involves a break.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones