Sunday, February 5, 2012
Core Values 2
Then said Jesus
to those Jews which believed on him,
if you continue in my word,
then are you my disciples indeed;
and you shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free.
A Christian Worldview
A couple of days ago I got a call from an out of town visiting friend asking me if I would like to join him for a free round of golf. I explained that I don’t play golf much anymore and my game has suffered greatly; but the chance to spend the day with him, and talk all about the good old days would be a thrill for me.
We had a great time, and I actually hit a few good shots. For the most part we talked about basically everything except Christianity. My friend has made it clear that he is Jewish and has no desire to discuss religion. I am sensitive to this; but after a couple of hours he began talking about Palm Desert and retiring here. I told my friend that we are planning to move back to Orange County. Why would you do that he asked … just when I am planning on retiring here. I explained we want to be close to our family, and then I explained that I can’t find a church here that I am encouraged about.
He asked; “well aren’t there a lot of Christian churches here?” And I replied; “yes, but most of them are committed to teaching that I can't help but find exception with. Personally, I would rather listen to sound teaching online; but we miss the fellowship with other like-minded Christians here.” He then asked; “what is the difference?” I then explained that many of the churches were following a seeker friendly, or Saddleback Church model. My friend lives a few miles from Saddleback Church and this talk raised his curiosity, and he asked me to explain.
I simply said; “you are a conservative, how would you describe Arnold Swartzenneger?” “He is a liberal was his quick reply.” “Yes I said; but worse yet, he pretended to be a conservative to get elected ... and this is the same problem that has infected the church.” “They have dumbed the teaching down to be politically correct and tolerant and the result is like a Swartzenegger.” My friend clearly understood.
Next I explained; “The new gimmick is called the emerging church which they are also calling the new reformation.” The idea is that believers are divided over men’s various religions and views; and that now they think we can solve all of the world’s major problems by bringing the religions together around good principles that good people can all agree upon.”
“That will never happen,” my friend quickly replied. “And more importantly, it is contrary to the clear teachings of Christianity,” I said.
Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to join together with false religions, and nowhere in the Bible are Christians encouraged to replace the gospel of salvation with a ministry of solving all of the major problems of the world. The mission Jesus gave all Christians is clear and simple.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, all power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:18-20
This was as far as we talked about religion but I clearly made a point with my friend. All Christians do not believe the same, and I reinforced a point he already knew; I have very little tolerance for hypocrisy, regardless of the good intentions. But don’t these churches have good intentions, you ask? Well I imagine they do but they have allowed the teachings of men and their religions to become more important than God’s eternal truth, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. A totally worthy goal for a politician can easily be the worst kind of hypocrisy for a Christian and especially a teacher or pastor of others.
So what should the worldview of Christians be? What should be the most important things that Christians should be focused upon? That is why I intend to spend the majority of this year on core values. These are truths Jesus and His Holy Word teach us that are not negotiable. If we believe the truth that God is the Word; and the Word is Truth; and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us then you understand three core values.
Now our Lord and Savior has given us a promise: This is also a primary core value that I will focus on here briefly. It is foretold in the Old Testament and promised again in the New Testament.
What is it; you ask?
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
God will Rapture all believers in Christ.
This is a most important Truth that is at the heart of a Biblical Christian Worldview. It is a Core Value... Christians need to be reminded of it continually so that they are better able to keep their thinking and priorities in context. Our life here is only a momentary stop on an eternal journey as children of the Creator of the universe. He has a mission for each of us while we are here, these are core values.
Be honest about this. When was the last time you heard teaching in your church about the rapture or the mission Christ has for you here on earth? Well that explains my frustration with organized religion.
Some would have us think that we need to have a new reformation, and that Protestants and Catholics, and many other false beliefs should join together for the good of all. That is heresy. This would only work if all converted to become followers of Christ and humbled their religions to the Truth of God’s Word. And that will never happen, as my agnostic Jewish friend stated. But, there is one key exception to my friend’s statement, that God's Word makes clear.
“For it is written; As I live, said the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” Romans 14:11
Let’s talk briefly about the Rapture.
The Rapture is a moment in time when the Church (The Body of Christ) will be instantly removed or transported from the earth to heaven sometime before the Great Tribulation is brought upon the earth.
Why is it important for Christians to have an understanding of and strong belief that Jesus will rapture the church? When you have an understanding of the rapture and believe that it will and can happen at any moment, everything of this world is humbled to the context of this coming reality. This anticipation should enter every area of life. Even death is humbled to this teaching. Those who don’t believe in Christ or the Truth of His Words think it is foolish; and therefore Christians will have a foolish and ineffective witness if they do not believe.
You are called to share the gospel. Your witness would greatly lose its power without understanding and faith here.
The Rapture of The Church will be the next big event on God's Calendar? Those who have not believed on Jesus Christ and been born again spiritually ... will be left behind. Therefore, those of us who have Christ’s love for others in our heart would surely want for all to know the Truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to be saved, rather than lost.
Some would say ... how can you be so sure? I say, how can we be born again and not be sure. Either Jesus Christ is the Truth or He lied. If he lied, my faith is destroyed, plain and simple. Jesus is eternal Truth and therefore can never lie. Everything he teaches is Truth. Eternal Truth is never changing.
The Rapture will include all living Christians regardless of their spiritual temperament. The test on whether a believer will be raptured is not in the believer’s present behavior ... it is solely in the finished work of the Savior at the cross. It is not one's spiritual condition ... but their spiritual position in Christ that assures their inclusion in the rapture of the Church.
When was the last time you shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with an unbeliever? There may be only one person or a thousand that God wants to speak to through you. Sometimes the conversation comes easy and at other times, there could be a closed mind, like my friend. But God spoke to my friend while we were golfing; make no mistake about that. Without my unwavering conviction and stand against false teaching and hypocrisy, my words would have had no credibility with him whatsoever.
Jesus Christ is coming! The Rapture of the Church will happen in the twinkling of an eye. This truth is critical when sharing the gospel to the world in which we live with a greater sense of urgency. Biblical Christians are not here to focus on the cares of the world, we are here as ambassadors for Christ with a ministry of reconciliation, and the two different sets of priorities will always conflict with one another. We are to: “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." Colossians 3:2.
We are to abide above.
When will the rapture happen? It is imminent. This means it could happen at any moment. Everything that needs to occur prior to the Rapture of the church has already occurred.
Who will be caught up in the Rapture? First the dead in Christ, and then the living in Christ will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. These believers are the church. This church is not subject to the various organized religions and their teachings. All religions are subject to Christ and His Word.
Who will be left behind? All who rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So what are we Christians to do now until the Rapture occurs?
“You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep; sleep in the night; and they that be drunken, are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.”
1 Thessalonians 5:5-10
First we must understand who we are. As children of light, we must know God’s Truth. We are not of this world or "the night." We must not be asleep regarding the gospel and his imminent Rapture of the church.
“The word rapture is an old English word which means to be caught away. The word itself is not in our King James Bible, but the definition of the word is there. “and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain SHALL BE CAUGHT UP together with them in the clouds”
To fall asleep to this promise, leads to apathy, which compromises our faith, and our witness. Disillusionment sets in as we focus on the affairs of the world and strive for personal accomplishment. The Doctrine of the Rapture sets our mind on the things above and helps reorders our priorities.
The question we must all answer is this: Do you want to be characterized by the deeds of the flesh or the fruit of the Spirit? The Rapture of the church is not just a minor doctrine. It is at the heart of a Christian’s belief system. If proven untrue, my faith would be destroyed. When we allow for our focus to drift … unconsciously our priorities easily become compromised and our faith weakened. The next thing you know, one is following a well-meaning … but a doctrine of demons, nonetheless.
Is your mind set on the things of the world or on the things above? The rapture is our supernatural entry into the eternal things above. For now our mind is to be transformed by renewing it with God’s Truth by the power and leading of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.
God bless you my friends, Bob
Reference: College of the Open Bible; Dr. Arthur Belanger