Thursday, December 29, 2016

Waiting for the Lord's Return

In His Word, God encourages us with the promise of Christ's soon return, and He instructs of our responsibilities until He comes. 

We Wait for Jesus to Come from Heaven
First of all, we must wait for Jesus to come from heaven.

The apostle Paul wrote, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” (1Th 1:10). We know that God's wrath is coming upon this world, and we wait for Jesus Christ His Son to come from heaven and rescue us from His wrath by taking us up in the rapture.

This waiting is something we do eagerly with full expectation. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;” (Php 3:20). The expression "eagerly wait" comes from one Greek word, "apekdechomai" meaning "to expect fully: - look (wait) for." We know with certainty that He is coming from heaven only for those who fully expect Him to do so.

The Scripture promises that Jesus will appear a second time for salvation. “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await (apekdechomai) Him.” (Heb 9:27-28). This reaffirms once again that the Lord is coming for those who wait for Him to do so with full expectation.

He Will Come from Heaven
In the passages I have just cited, it clearly stated that He is coming from heaven. The following verses also tell us so:

When the Lord ascended into heaven before His disciples, two angels appeared in white and told them that He would return in the same way he went into heaven. They also 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."  (Act 1:11)

The Lord also said that He would come on the clouds of the sky. "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.  (Mat 24:30).

He Will Descend from Heaven with a Shout
Paul taught that Jesus will descend from heaven with a shout, followed by the resurrection of the dead in Christ and then the catching up of the living saints in Christ into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord." (1Th 4:16-17)

He Will Come with His Mighty Angels in Blazing Fire
Paul said the Lord would come from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire: "For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." (2Th 1:6-8).

We Must Stay on the Alert
It's essential that we always remain on alert for His return and be ready for it, since it could happen at any time and we don't know when.

"But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. (Mar 13:32-34)

"Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. (Mat 24:42-44). He said that you must be ready, so this is a requirement.

He also warned us to stay awake and stay dressed spiritually, if we do not want to be ashamed at His appearing, since He will come like a theif. ("Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.")  (Rev 16:15).

We Must Abide in Him
The apostle John also warned us to abide in Christ, so that we would not be ashamed at His appearing. "Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming." (1 Joh 2:28)

We Must Love His Appearing
Paul clearly taught that we must fight the good fight and keep the faith if we want to be ready for the Lord's return, since he is only coming for those who love His appearing. He said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing." (2Ti 4:7-8)

We Will Be Changed in a Moment When He Comes
Paul said we would be changed suddenly in a moment when Jesus comes, just as quickly as the twinkling of an eye. "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." (1Co 15:51-52)

We Proclaim His Death Until He Comes
As we wait for His appearing, we must proclaim His death until He comes, and one way we do so is by eating the Lord's Supper. "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes." (1Co 11:26)

We Must Endure to the End
The Lord taught that only those who endure to the end will be saved: "You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” (Mat 10:22)

The apostle taught that we must have endurance to do the will of God, so that we may receive our promised eternal life. “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But my righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” (Heb 10:36-39)

Endurance is required on the part of the saints in order to be saved, since we must continue to obey God's commandments and keep our faith in Christ. “This requires the steadfast endurance of the saints—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus.” (Rev 14:12, NET). 

Those Who Endure Must Depart from Sin
Scripture says that in order to run with endurance we must depart from sin: "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..." (Heb 12:1)

The Greek word for endurance in this verse means “cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy: - enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).” Thayer’s says, “in the NT [endurance is] the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.”

The grace of God has appeared not only so that we could be saved and forgiven, but so that we could deny ungodliness and worldly desires and live sensibly, righteously and godly right now, and look for the glory of Christ's appearing. "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus..." (Tit 2:11-13). The Greek word for "looking for" is "prosdechomai" meaning "to await (with confidence or patience): look for, wait for."

Holy and Godly Living Required as We Wait
Scripture exhorts us to conduct our lives in holiness and godliness as we wait for the coming of the day of God. The apostle Peter wrote:

"Since all these things are to melt away in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, while waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God? Because of this day, the heavens will be burned up and dissolve, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze! But, according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness truly resides. Therefore, dear friends, since you are waiting for these things, strive to be found at peace, without spot or blemish, when you come into his presence." (2 Pe 3:11-13, NET).

Putting it All Together
God's Word teaches us that we must wait for Jesus to come from heaven. He will surely come for us from heaven, descending from heaven with a shout, as He comes with His mighty angels in blazing fire. At that moment, the dead in Christ will first be resurrected, then those who are still alive in Christ will suddenly be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Therefore, we must stay on the alert, abide in Him, love His appearing, fight the good fight, keep the faith, and proclaim His death until He comes. We must depart from all sin, conduct our lives in holiness and godliness, and endure to the end. We must strive to be found at peace, without spot or blemish, when we enter His presence. May He find us all doing so when He comes.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Other quotations from The NET Bible where noted.
 
Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like The 311 Moment, The Timing of the Rapture, The Error of Rapture Date Setting, Wars and Rumors of Wars, The End Time Plagues, The Land Mourns in the Last Days, Sequence of Signs Preceding the Coming of Christ, Synching Up the Seven Seals with the Gospels, Michael Shigaba's End Time Message for Mankind, News Headlines Reflect the End Times, my daughter's poem, The Midnight Hour, and the other posts in this blog available through the Signs of the Times Directory. You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Times of the Gentiles

In my previous article, Times and Epochs the Father has Determined, I mentioned an expression the Lord used, called "the times of the Gentiles," which I would like to explain. While speaking about the signs that would occur at the end of the age, the Lord spoke of this period saying, "...Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (Luk 21:24).

So what are the times of the Gentiles? The times of the Gentiles began with Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Jerusalem (588 B.C.). It is still in progress today, and will continue until the Gentiles finish trampling Jerusalem underfoot. This sign regarding Jerusalem being trampled upon by the Gentiles will continue to occur until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. All of this will happen before they "see the son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luk 21:27). Therefore, we know that this time period has not yet been fulfilled.

Statue of the Gentile Man
You may recall the dream that King Nebuchadnezzar had of the statue with a head of gold. Daniel told it like this:

"You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome. The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth." (Dan 2:31-35)

The statue had a head made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. Daniel gave the interpretation of the dream like this:

"You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold. After you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth. Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces. In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay. As the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle. And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery." (Dan 2:37-43)

As the image above illustrates, the Babylonian Empire of Nebuchadnezzar (606 B.C.) was represented by the head of gold. The Medio-Persian Empire (536 B.C.) was represented by the breast and its arms of silver. The Greek Empire (330 B.C.) was represented by the belly and thighs of bronze. The Roman Empire (27 B.C.) was represented by the legs of iron. And the empire that rules at the end of the age was represented by the feet partly of iron and partly of clay. This entire statue of a Gentile man represented the times of the Gentiles.

Up until the times of the Gentiles began, the Israelites had their own kingdom with their own king. But because they violated the covenant with God, doing evil, bowing down to other gods and prostituting themselves, the Lord gave them into the hands of the Babylonians. Although they were later allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, after completing the time of captivity that God had determined for them, their kingdom was never restored to them. Hence, during the days of Christ, the Gentiles were still ruling over them in the form of the Roman Empire, which destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

The apostle Paul referred to the times of the Gentiles in his letter to the Romans, when he wrote, "For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery--so that you will not be wise in your own estimation--that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." (Rom 11:25).

Paul said a partial hardening has happened until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in or the complete number of Gentiles comes to God. Once this period ends, then so will the partial hardening that has happened to Israel as a nation.

The Iron-Clay Empire
Until then, we will see the domination of the empire represented by the feet and toes of iron and clay. Here is how Daniel defined this empire:

"In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay. As the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle. And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery." (Dan 2:41-43).

The feet and toes of iron and clay are an unlikely alloy. An alloy is a type of mixture, fusion, meld, blend, combination, union, or composite, if you will.

Global Unions
The United Nations (UN) is the most obvious fulfillment of these feet and toes at the governmental level. It is a global government or alliance with the toughness of iron, and the weakness of clay. It is partly strong and partly brittle. There are some strong nations and some that easily crumble, which are all united together as one.

As Daniel said, the iron and clay would combine with one another in the seed of men, but they will not adhere to one another. The strength of their unity is not as great as if they were entirely of iron. There is an aspect by which they sometimes break unity with each other, and do not adhere to each other, such as the veto power of certain nations like the United States, China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

Another union besides the UN that exists today is the Group of Ten, or G10, which is a union of eleven individual nations that consult and cooperate together on economic, monetary, and financial matters. They include Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Computers
It is also interesting that the iron and clay represent the computer age, since computers are made of metal and silicon, which is found in sand and clay. They also contain a lot of plastic, which is a clay-like material before it hardens. In this age, computers play a prominent role in the government, and will likely have some part in the Mark of the Beast (666), as well as the coming cashless, global currency. In fact, through the use of credit cards, computers, online banking, trading, and purchasing, society has already become cashless to a large degree.

Weapon Systems
Consider also the role of iron and clay in the military defenses of the nations in the UN, whose combat weapon systems are an integration of metal, plastic, and computers. For example, tanks, fighter jets, attack helicopters, drones, military robots, missile launchers, rocket launchers, and ships are a few such weapon systems. The Roman Empire used iron to control its people, such as swords, spears, and the iron in the nails used for crucifixion. The iron-clay empire uses iron/clay technology, like in the examples I have given, to control its people.

Cyborgs
Another role of computers is in the realm of cyborgs or bionic humans, which are no longer merely science fiction, but reality. There are now real-life cyborgs, as humans and technology are merging. Kevin Warwick, the professor who began the cyborg movement in the academic arena, described ‘cyborgs’ as entities formed by a “human, machine brain/nervous system coupling,” in other words “a human whose nervous system is linked to a computer.” Such a fusion of humans and computers also fulfills the prophecy of the iron and clay (computers) combining with one another in the seed of men, but not adhering to one another, because it occurs in humans, which are the seed of men.

Brain implants are already in use, and amputees are now able to use their minds to control robotic limbs connected to their nervous systems. One man who was accidentally struck blind in both eyes now has an artificial vision system, whereby his electronic eye is connected directly to his visual cortex through brain implants. There are already people who have magnets (iron) and microchips (clay) implanted in their bodies that interact with external devices, and even communicate over the internet. A UK cardiologist has implanted a wireless heart monitor into a patient that transmits data to doctors over the web. 

There is also a subculture of the cyborg movement, known as transhumanism, which believes technological advances will enable us to transcend ourselves with increased or superhuman capabilities and possibly extend life. Some people within this movement view it as human enhancement, or a way to upgrade the human brain and body. They are very passionate about it, viewing it as something quite positive. For example, one belief is that it has the potential to make humans more ethical by controlling selfish impulses and making people more empathetic toward others. They believe that humans with chips in their brains will be intellectually superior. They have even formed an organization to help humans become cyborgs.

Merged Reality
Moreover, on August 16, 2016, Intel announced that it has produced a wireless, standalone, "merged reality" device, which blends images from the real world with those in virtual environments. This headset is ironically called "Alloy", which I have already mentioned is synonymous with a fusion, a meld, a blend, or a composite. Intel's new Alloy contains 3D cameras, sensors, on-board computer, and a graphics display screen all in one unit. The user wearing this device on their head is able to see a blended representation of video graphics combined with things that are really present, such as a handheld object or another person. They are able to fully interact with their surroundings in a way that transforms their natural surroundings into a surreal world of fantasy. Microsoft also has a similar technology called HoloLens, and Windows has come out with a Holographic platform, with which developers can produce and run mixed reality applications. 

The Virtual reality (VR) technologies available up to now have already done a lot of damage to users, enabling them to disconnect from reality physically and mentally. They become so immersed in video games that they lose touch with reality. This is extremely harmful and causes serious damage to a person's mind, soul, and spirit. For example, after extended use, they can cause these images to remain embedded in a person's mind, so that they can still see those images even when not using the device. In other words, the user's mind begins to meld with the virtual environment. These are definitely evil, demonic games, some of which have violence, murder, horror, magic, occult, and sexually immoral themes. They open up the user to demons that enter into their lives.

However, the "merged reality" (MR) technology has taken it to another level. As users wear these new "MR" headsets, this problem has the potential to reach new and even more dangerous levels. I don't think most people fully realize the actual negative effect these games have had on society, such as helping to inspire violent crimes. Only the Lord knows the full extent to which this has happened, and how much worse it is going to get before He returns.

The Stone Cut Out Of The Mountain
We currently stand poised on the brink of the end of the times of the Gentiles. The Lord is coming right away. When He does, then will be fulfilled the part of the dream, in which the stone cut out of the mountain without hands came and crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, and caused the whole statue to crumble.

Daniel prophesied, "In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. "Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy." (Dan 2:44-45).

The stone represents Christ and His kingdom that shall never end. The destruction of the statue by the stone represents the end of the age, the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles, and the establishment of Christ's kingdom on earth. And He shall reign forever and ever. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Graphic image produced by Anderson Art Productions, LLC, copyright Blaire Foundation, used with permission. Fair Use Act allows the use of images for educational and commentary purposes.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I recommend reading my article, Times and Epochs the Father has Determined and these other related posts of mine listed below, especially the first two in the left column about signs and seals:

Sequence of Signs Preceding the Coming of Christ The End Time Plagues Are You Rapture Ready?
Synching Up the Seven Seals with the Gospels The Land Mourns in the Last Days Grieve and Lament for the Church
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster The End Has Come Mark of the Beast (666)
The 311 Moment Trumpet Sounds Heard Around the World America’s Destruction is at Hand

You may also visit our Signs of the Times Directory, and access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Persecution of the Saints

Dear watchers and waiters,

As you continue watching and waiting for the Lord's return, I would like to share a two-part message with you about the persecution of the saints. Many people are being persecuted for Christ at this time, and it seems to be on the rise around the world. So let me encourage you.

Hatred and Persecution Predicted
First of all, Jesus and Paul predicted hatred and persecution of Christians.

The Lord said, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you."

"Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.'

"If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also."  (Joh 15:18-23)

In His high priestly prayer, He said to the Father, "I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:14,15)

Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. (Mar 10:29-30) 

"But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake.  (Luk 21:12)

The apostle Paul said, "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2Ti 3:12)

Some Believers are Killed
Persecution can be severe, even to the point of death. Jesus predicted some believers would be killed.

"These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God." (Joh 16:1-2)

"But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.  (Joh 16:4)

"Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city.” (Mat 23:34; cf., Luk 11:49)

Great Reward for Those Who Are Persecuted
Jesus said we are blessed with great reward when we are persecuted.

"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Mat 5:10)

"Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mat 5:11-12)

Note that we are supposed to rejoice and be glad when we are persecuted for righteousness, and we are not just supposed to accept it with either a neutral or bad attitude.

The Apostles Endured and Even Rejoiced in
Persecutions

When Peter and John were persecuted, they actually rejoiced for being counted worthy to suffer for Christ.

"So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name."(Act 5:41)

Paul said, "And we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure;" (1Co 4:12)

He also said he was content with persecutions for Christ. "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2Co 12:10)

No matter what persecutions Paul experienced, God delivered him out of them all!! He said, "Persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!"  (2Ti 3:11)

Love and Pray for Persecutors
Jesus said to love and pray for those who persecute you

"But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Mat 5:44, 45)

Paul said, "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse."  (Rom 12:14)

Flee from Persecution without Fear
Jesus instructed us to flee from persecution but not to fear them.

"But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.  (Mat 10:23-26).

Note that if they called Jesus a devil and He is our Master, then what will they call us who are His servants and lesser than Him?

Those without Deep Roots Fall Away
Jesus said that believers with no deep roots would fall away because of persecution.

"The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. (Mat 13:20-21)

Persecution Cannot Separate Us from God’s love
When you are persecuted, you may feel as if you have done something wrong, or as if God is not pleased with you. However, it doesn’t mean God has forsaken us. Persecution cannot separate us from God’s love. 

"Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" (Rom 8:35)

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;" (2Co 4:7-9)

The Hall of Faith
Consider the hall of faith in Hebrews 11. Like the Hall of Fame, it commends those who have suffered persecution for righteousness. All these people gained approval through their faith.

"And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect." (Heb 11:32-40)

Church History
Consider also Foxe's Book of Martyrs, which is "a history of the lives, sufferings and triumphant deaths of the early Christian and the Protestant martyrs." It contains scores of true stories about those who were persecuted for Christ, many of whom gave their lives for Him. One such person was John Bunyan, who was himself persecuted for Christ. During his second imprisonment, three years after his first and longer one, he wrote an allegorical book, called Pilgrim's Progress, in which he aptly stated: "There was Ignatius, who was cast to the lions; Romanus, whose flesh was cut by pieces from his bones; and Polycarp, that played the man in the fire; there was he that was hanged up in a basket in the sun for the wasps to eat; and he whom they put into a sack, and cast him into the sea to be drowned." If you have never read Foxe's Book of Martyrs, I highly recommend it.

End Time Persecution
Consider what the Lord showed Daniel about persecution of the saints in the end times:

"I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them." (Dan 7:21)

'He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. (Dan 7:25)

"His power will be mighty, but not by his own power, And he will destroy to an extraordinary degree And prosper and perform his will; He will destroy mighty men and the holy people." (Dan 8:24)

"Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future." (Dan 10:14)

"For ships of Kittim will come against him; therefore he will be disheartened and will return and become enraged at the holy covenant and take action; so he will come back and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant. (Dan 11:30)

"By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action. Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days. Now when they fall they will be granted a little help, and many will join with them in hypocrisy. Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time. (Dan 11:32-35)

The revelation given to the apostle John is in agreement with Daniel's revelation:

"And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth. So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus." (Rev 12:13-17)

"It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him." (Rev 13:7)

"If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints." (Rev 13:10)

"Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus." (Rev 14:12)

"For they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it." (Rev 16:6)

"And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly." (Rev 17:6)

"And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth." (Rev 18:24)

Three and a Half Years of Final Persecution
Regardless of what you believe about the end times, you cannot deny that the Scripture speaks of a final period of persecution lasting three and a half years.

'He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time." (Dan 7:25)

"I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed." (Dan 12:7)

"Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand. From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days." (Dan 12:10-11)

"There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him." (Rev 13:5-7)

Also see  Rev 11:2-4; 12:6, 14

Ultimate Victory
The Scriptures make it clear that the saints have the ultimate victory through all the persecution.

"I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom." (Dan 7:21-22)

'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; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.' (Dan 7:27)

"Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued." (Dan 12:1)

"And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. (Rev 12:11)

"Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her."  (Rev 18:20)

Putting it All Together
As we have just seen in God's Word, Jesus and Paul predicted hatred and persecution of Christians. The Lord predicted some believers would be killed, and said we are blessed with great reward when we are persecuted. He said to love and pray for those who persecute you. He instructed us to flee from persecution but not to fear them. He said that believers with no deep roots would fall away because of persecution

Persecution cannot separate us from God’s love.  It doesn’t mean God has forsaken us. Paul the apostle endured persecutions and was content with them. Persecution is definitely one of the signs of the end times. It seems to increase as this age reaches its fulfillment. There is a period of three and a half years, during which there will be intense final persecution of the saints. However, we already know that the saints have the ultimate victory through Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

I hope that this has encouraged you today to joyfully endure whatever persecution or suffering you may be experiencing now or have to go through in the future. Tertullian once said, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." Many are the heroic stories of men and women of faith who entered into their eternal reward through gates of splendor and gates of martyrdom.

Part II - The Nature of Persecution

Image credit:  "The Christian Martyr's Last Prayer" by Jean-Léon Gérôme - Walters Art Museum, image taken from Wikimedia Commons.  William T. Walters commissioned this painting in 1863, but the artist did not deliver it until 20 years later. In a letter to Walters, Gérôme identified the setting as ancient Rome's racecourse, the Circus Maximus. He noted such details as the goal posts and the chariot tracks in the dirt. The artist also commented on the religious fortitude of the victims who were about to suffer martyrdom either by being devoured by the wild beasts or by being smeared with pitch and set ablaze. In the painting, you can see one martyr standing and praying in the midst of other kneeling saints huddled in prayer, and others are hung on crosses about to be burned alive.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Other Scriptures may be taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®.
 
Author's note:  If you enjoyed this post, I also recommend The Nature of Persecution, Persecuted or Popular?, Faithful Until Death: The Glory of Martyrdom for Christ, Confrontational Evangelism, The Rise of Antichrists, The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, Popularity of the Gospel, Ask for the Ancient Paths, The Knowledge of the Holy, Separation from the World, Ultimate Accountability, Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, The Cost of Discipleship, and The Judgment Seat of Christ. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Brace Yourselves for the Great Shaking

In case you didn't know it, we are about to experience a great shaking, so brace yourselves. I'd like to share with you the following email I received on Wednesday, August 3, 2016 from my friend Faith. She wrote:

"On Sunday evening, July 31, 2016 I was talking with a few friends. We were talking about our lives and what to expect until the time of the Rapture. We were coming to the conclusion that things would continue to be difficult until the Lord comes and intervenes. One friend, named Patti, put it this way. She said, 'I guess we need to BRACE OURSELVES, because there's not going to be resolution until He (Jesus) comes.' I thought that was a very timely comment but an unusual choice of words."

"The next day, Patti called with a report about the first video posted below (see 'Brace Yourselves' video from August 1). In it there are two recent instances of people hearing those very same words. My friend did not remember that she had said the same thing in our conversation the evening before! I had to remind her of it and she was even more amazed! The Lord was giving us the same message."

"Just today, I am finally listening to the video she sent and found another vid with the same powerful warning from a few months ago."

BRACE YOURSELVES!!!! Message given to a friend...Warning
Posted August 1, 2016


Warning: BRACE YOURSELVES!!!! Sudden Turbulence.
Posted April 7, 2016


"This is not a negative thing to get fearful about. It is our loving Heavenly Father wanting to prepare us for the days ahead. However, it is important that we hear clearly from Him and be obedient to what He is saying. Rejoice! Our redemption draws near. -- Faith."

-----
[END OF EMAIL TRANSCRIPT]

Putting it All Together
That is the end of my friend Faith's email to me on August 3, 2016. Let me summarize the key events described in her email above, in the following seven points:

1. July 31, 2016 - a sister named Jennifer Beebe on Sunday had a supernatural, nighttime experience, in which she heard the words, "Brace Yourself" (see the first video above, in which Jennifer's friend Rhonda relates her story).

2. July 31, 2016, - a sister named Jennifer Beebe sent a text message to her sister-in-law, who was in a Sunday service at church, telling her about the message she received in point #1 above.

3. July 31, 2016 - Jennifer Beebe's sister-in-law (see point #2 above) showed the text message that she had just received to her husband in church.

4. July 31, 2016 - at the end of the Sunday church service attended by Jennifer Beebe's sister-in-law (see points #2 and 3 above), an elderly gentleman suddenly jumped out of his seat, took the microphone from the pastor, and gave an urgent warning to "brace ourselves." He said, "I just got a message from the Lord, and He said we as Christians need to come together and brace ourselves, that an earthquake or something of that magnitude is coming."

5. July 31, 2016 - On Sunday evening, Faith's friend Patti said, "I guess we need to brace ourselves." However, she did not yet know anything about the events that happened in points # 1, 2, 3, or 4 above.

6. August 1, 2016 - On Monday, Faith's friend Patti called her to report the first video above, entitled "BRACE YOURSELVES!!!! Message given to a friend...Warning," which was posted on August 1, 2016. However, Faith's friend did not even remember that she herself had used the same term "brace ourselves" the previous evening (see point #5 above), until Faith reminded her of it.

7. August 3, 2016 - My friend, Faith watched the August 1 video she received from her friend. She also found another video posted April 7, 2016, called "Brace Yourselves" (see second video above). In that video a sister claims that she was sitting in her bed, when she heard the warning loudly and clearly, "Brace Yourselves!" The sister had not even been thinking along those lines, and when she asked the Lord what it was about, she heard Him say, "Extreme turbulence." Faith sent the email to me, the body of which I posted at the beginning of this email.

In this article, I have just documented that there were three different people this past Sunday, July 31, 2016, who neither knew each other nor knew about each other, and independently got the same message from God that we need to "BRACE OURSELVES!!!!" And we also have a fourth person, who independently received that exact same message in April. Moreover, there is the amazing interconnection between these people, which would be statistically impossible if God were not involved. It should be obvious to anyone who is reading this that a great shaking is about to happen. Something big is coming.

It reminds me of a message that Susan Cummings heard from the Lord in her dream called "The Summons". In it she quoted the Lord as saying: "The Great Shaking has only just begun in reality, but I showed you so that you would know My Heart in it. The Shaking is necessary to dislodge all of the deeply entrenched sins and idolatry of the nation. Much is entrenched beneath the land and has been there from the beginning. But, I am visiting the land, and it will be shaken so that it can be freed. The mountains erupted from the great pressures that have been building and from the battle that has been waged over the destiny of your land."

I close with the following passage from the twelfth chapter of the Book of Hebrews:

“See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.’ This expression, ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb 12:25-29)

This passage cautions us that we will not escape if we turn away from Him who warns from heaven. Also see Matthew 24:37-39 and Luke 17:26-30. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken, until only that which cannot be shaken remains. God, His Christ, and His kingdom cannot be shaken. Have you been purified with His holy fire? If not, then ask Him to do so. Be sure you are ready and are found spotless and blameless in Him when the Lord Jesus returns.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: You must take responsibility for your own actions. Nobody knows the day or the hour, and in no way am I date setting. This is only to provide you with information, so that you can make your own decisions, for which you will be accountable to God.  You may also want to read my other related posts:

The End Time Plagues America’s Destruction is at Hand Are You Rapture Ready?
The Land Mourns in the Last Days Wars and Rumors of Wars Grieve and Lament for the Church
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster The End Has Come Holy Fire Baptism
The 311 Moment Sequence of Signs Preceding the Coming of Christ Synching Up the Seven Seals with the Gospels
Times and Epochs the Father has Determined The Timing of the Rapture

The Persecution of the Saints


You may also visit our Signs of the Times Directory, and access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Times and Epochs the Father has Determined

Let me begin by saying that I would not consider myself a dispensationalist and have studied outside those circles. While in Bible school and graduate school decades ago, I studied under people with various different schools of thought. And since that time, I have also sat under the teaching of those who were definitely not dispensational in their theology. However, I have reached my conclusions based on the Bible, which is the book I read most of the time, and not men's opinions.  I don't follow any dispensational teacher or book. I follow the Bible.

Dispensations in the Bible
Dispensational theology is one that views all of biblical history and the future as a series of dispensations, or time periods when God dealt with mankind or with a certain people in a particular way. For example, a dispensational teacher may illustrate on a timeline chart all the epochs that have occurred since the world began, such as the age of innocence, the age of conscience, the age of human government, the ante-deluvian age (pre-flood), the age of Law, the age of grace or favor, the time of Jacob’s trouble or the Tribulation, and the millennial reign of Christ on earth.

The term dispensationalism itself is not a biblical term, but one that man has made up. However, even if we had never heard of dispensationalism before, and there was no such categorization for a field of theological thought, we could look at the Bible (like good Bereans should) and see there are clearly dispensations. The dictionary definition of dispensation is "a system of order, government, or organization of a nation, community, etc., especially as existing at a particular time."

So if I look at the Bible, I definitely see a "government" or "organization of a nation," or a "community" that was "existing at a particular time." I don't have to force anything to try and make it fit to support that point. It's just obvious. For example, there was the Israelite “community” during the period when they were in the desert under the leadership of Moses, as well as in the Promised Land under Joshua. They were “organized into a nation” called Israel. So without even trying, we can find that one easily.

And if we look at the period of judges, that was a government that existed at a particular time under leaders like Samson, Gideon, Barack, Deborah, and others. And the period of kings was another one. You cannot deny that these periods are in the Bible. And the fact that they were under the Law of Moses and the Mosaic covenant during a particular period is undeniable, too. When Christ came and instituted a New Covenant, He took preeminence from that point forward, while His teaching and His commandments took precedence.  Like the Father said from the cloud, when Elijah and Moses appeared next to the Lord, representing the Law and the Prophets, "This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!" (Luk 9:35)

The “community” that existed in the book of Acts and still exists to this day is the Church under the government that is on Christ's shoulders (Is 9:6). The description of the congregation or “community” of believers in the following passage from Acts is unlike anything ever seen in any prior period in biblical history.

“And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.” (Act 4:31-33)

This marked a new era, an age of grace, when all believers were filled with the Holy Spirit. The crucifixion of Christ on the cross and His subsequent resurrection was the turning point when this age began, which some might call the Church age.

The Lord Spoke of Ages and Time Periods
When the Lord began His public ministry, He announced this new age of grace by saying that He had come to proclaim the year of God’s favor.

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." (Luk 4:18-19).

He read this from the scroll in the prophet Isaiah, and He stopped short of saying the very next words that Isaiah prophesied in that sentence. Isaiah prophesied, “…To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God…” (Isa 61:2a). The Lord proclaimed the favorable year of the Lord, but did not finish the verse by the referring to the day of vengeance of our God, since that was yet another time period in the future. Nevertheless, we cannot deny that the Bible speaks of these two time periods, one of them of God’s favor and a subsequent one of God’s vengeance.

The Lord also spoke about the time of His Second Coming often, using various expressions like "which day your Lord is coming," "that day and hour no one knows," "the Master of that slave will come on a day," "the day that the Son of Man is revealed," "the days of the Son of Man," and "will the Son of Man be in His day."  I would like to especially draw your attention to the expression, “the days of the Son of Man.” This clearly refers to a time period that was yet future at the time when the Lord spoke of it.

In the following passage, note the many uses of the expressions “the days” and “His day”:

“And He said to the disciples, ‘The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, “Look there! Look here!” Do not go away, and do not run after them. For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back.” (Luk 17:22-31)

The Lord spoke of “the days of Noah,” “the days of Lot,” and “the days of the Son of Man.” These all refer to different time periods, and it is clear that “the days of the Son of Man” were still future at the time when Jesus spoke these words, since He referred to them as coming after His suffering and rejection.

By the way, I would like to point out that the word for “day” and “days” in this passage is “hemera”, which – depending on the context -- can mean either literally a 24-hour day or figuratively a period, such as an age or time or period of years. According to Strongs, hemera means “day, that is, (literally) the time space between dawn and dark, or the whole 24 hours (but several days were usually reckoned by the Jews as inclusive of the parts of both extremes), figuratively a period (always defined more or less clearly by the context): - age, time, while, years.”

The Lord also spoke explicitly of a future "age". Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection." (Luk 20:34-36)

The word "age" is "aion" in the Greek, meaning "properly an age; by extension perpetuity (also past); by implication the world; specifically (Jewish) a Messianic period (present or future): - age, course, eternal, (for) ever (-more), [n-]ever, (beginning of the, while the) world (began, without end)." -- Strongs. In the context of Luke 20, "age" is the appropriate translation of "aion."

So He taught that you and I are "sons of this age." And He also taught about those who are considered worthy to attain to "that age and from the resurrection from the dead." Therefore, according to Christ, there is "this age", which we are presently living in, and there is "that age", which is future, after the resurrection.

Likewise, he also referred to "this age" and "the age to come" in other passages. For example, in His teaching about the unpardonable sin, He said, "Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come." (Mat 12:32). And in His teaching about rewards for service, He said, "...he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life." (Mar 10:29-30)

Moreover, the Lord also used the expression "end of the age" to refer to the last days. Here are some examples:

"So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous," (Mat 13:49; also see Mat 13:39-40)

"Teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Mat 28:20).

Finally, while speaking about the signs that would occur at the end of the age, the Lord spoke of a period that He called "the times of the Gentiles."  He said, "...Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (Luk 21:24; cf., Rom 11:25). (See The Times of the Gentiles).

The Apostles Spoke of Ages and Times
The apostles spoke about ages and times. One example was when they spoke to the Lord right before His ascension. “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;’” (Act 1:6-7)

The apostles used the expression “at this time,” and the word “time” is “chronos,” meaning “a space of time which designates a fixed or special occasion; it denotes a particular period or interval; by extension an individual opportunity; by implication delay: season, space, time, while.” They were asking whether this was the space of time when He was going to restore the kingdom to Israel. They referred to a government and a particular period of time, which is the precise definition of the term "dispensation."

The Lord did not deny that there would be a time or period when he would restore the kingdom to Israel. He simply told them that it was not for them to know the times or epochs which the Father has determined by His own authority. The word for “times” in verse 7 when Jesus replied to the apostles was the same word used in verse 6 in their question to the Lord, which was “chronos.” The word used for “epochs” in verse 7 is “kairos” meaning “an occasion, that is, set or proper time: opportunity, (convenient, due) season, (due, short, while) time, a while.”

While these two words, “chronos” and “kairos” have different shades of meaning, they are also used somewhat interchangeably in the Bible.

For example, both Jude and Peter wrote about a period called the “last time”, but one of them used the word chronos and the other used the word kairos.

Jude wrote: “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, ‘In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.’" (Jud 1:17-18). In Jude’s expression “last time”, the word for “time” is “chronos.”

Peter used this same expression “last time”, when he wrote: “…who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1Pe 1:5). However, in this passage, the word “kairos” is used instead of “chronos.” Nevertheless, whether kairos or chronos is used, we cannot deny the fact that the “last time” refers to a particular period. It is a period that occurs at the end and happens last, at the end of time.

There is another expression similar to “last time”, which is “last days.”

Peter used this expression when he wrote in his epistle, “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,” (2Pe 3:3). This corresponds exactly to what Jude wrote in the passage I have already cited above in Jud 1:17-18, except that instead of calling it the "last time," Peter calls it the "last days."

Peter had also used this same term on the Day of Pentecost. He proclaimed, “'And it shall be in the last days,' God says, 'that I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;’” (Act 2:17).

Peter was quoting from the prophet Joel, chapter 2. He was teaching that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit happening on that day was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy regarding the last days. From this we can ascertain that the last days began with Pentecost.

Paul spoke of the last days, too. He wrote, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.” (2Ti 3:1)

James wrote, “Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!” (Jas 5:3)

In the book of Hebrews, we learn that at the time it was written, the last days were already in progress, and were called “these last days.” It says, “In these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” (Heb 1:2)

The apostle John affirmed that the last days had already begun during his days, when he wrote, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.” (1Jn 2:18). He spoke of the last hour in the present tense.

The apostles asked Jesus about the end of the ages. "As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, 'Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'" (Mat 24:3)

In Hebrews, it says, "But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." (Heb 9:26). Other versions have it as "the fulfillment of the ages" or the consummation of the ages," but they all carry the same meaning, which is that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our sins happened at the end of the ages.

In Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, he also wrote, "Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come." (1Co 10:11). He spoke of the end of the ages as having come upon him and his readers. The end of the ages began with the earthly ministry of Christ, especially His crucifixion, and continued throughout the first century. Since it has not yet reached its conclusion, we know it continues to this day.

Therefore, we know from the apostles’ use of the terms “last time,” “last days,” “last hour,” and "end of the ages," that there is such an age or period that began in the first century and continues up until now. If the first century was considered the last days, then we in this present generation are living in the last of the last days! If it was considered the last hour in the apostle John's day, then we are in the last minute or the final second! We can truly say that the end of the ages has come upon us! This present age that Paul spoke of is about to conclude, and "the age to come" is about to commence (Eph 1:21; Heb 6:5).

The apostle Paul also wrote about the time of God’s favor, which I have already mentioned was part of Christ’s teaching. Paul quoted from the prophet Isaiah (49:8), when he wrote:

“For He says, ‘At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.’ Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation.’" (2Co 6:2)

In saying this in the context of God’s grace (2 Cor 6:1), Paul declared that the acceptable time, which the Holy Spirit had spoken about through Isaiah, had begun, and the day of salvation was now in progress. This is the same time period that the Lord referred to in Luke 4:18, calling it “the favorable year of the Lord,” as I have already mentioned. Incidentally, the word for “time” in 2 Cor 6:2 is “kairos” and the word for “day” is “hemera”, both of which I have already defined.

Finally, Paul taught that God has set a certain day when He will judge the world with justice. He said, "For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.” (Ac 17:31, NIV). (See The Judgment Seat of Christ).

The Prophets Spoke of Ages and Times
Not only did the Lord and His apostles speak of ages, times, and days, but so did the prophets, which they often quoted. I have already mentioned some such passages from Isaiah, but another example is found in Daniel. Here is how that book ends:

“As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, ‘My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?’ He said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand. From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days! But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.’" (Dan 12:8-13)

As we can clearly see from this passage, there will be a future period, which the angel Gabriel referred to as “the end time” (v. 9). Gabriel told Daniel specifically when this time would occur, and exactly how many days it would last (v. 11). He also made reference to “the end of the age" (v. 13).

The Hebrew word for “time” in verse 9 is “eth,” which can mean literally a 24-hour day or figuratively an age. And the word for “age” in verse 13 is “yom”, which can either literally mean a day or figuratively an age or season, depending on the context.

The Time of Jacob's Trouble
Another age that I would like to mention from the prophets is a time period known as Jacob’s Trouble. Jeremiah wrote, “Alas! for that day (Hebrew, yom) is great, There is none like it; And it is the time (Hebrew, eth) of Jacob's distress, But he will be saved from it.” (Jer 30:7). Jeremiah described it as a time of terror, of dread, when there is no peace, when every man has his hands on his loins, as a woman in childbirth, and all faces are turned pale (Jer 30:5-6). Jeremiah prophesied of these coming days when the Lord would restore the fortunes of His people Israel and Judah, and bring them back to the Promised Land (Jer 30:3). It will be a time when the Lord will destroy completely all the nations where He has scattered His people Israel and Judah, But He will not destroy His people Israel and Judah completely. He will chasten them justly and will by no means leave them unpunished (Jer 30:11). The Lord will wound them with the wound of an enemy, with the punishment of a cruel one, because their iniquity is great and their sins are numerous (Jer 30:14). But Jacob will eventually be saved from it (Jer 30:7). Therefore, once again we have in the prophets a future age foretold, which corresponds with "the day of vengeance of our God" that Isaiah and Christ spoke of.

The Day of the Lord
The prophets also spoke of the day of the Lord. They referred to it as a coming day of clouds, of darkness and not light, even gloom with no brightness in it, a time of doom for the nations, as destruction from the Almighty, great and terrible, very awesome, cruel, with fury and burning anger, to make the land a desolation and exterminate its sinners from it. It will be a day when the warrior cries out bitterly, a day of wrath when all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy, for He will make a complete end, indeed a terrifying one, of all the inhabitants of the earth. (Isa. 13:6,9; Eze. 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1,11,31; 3:14; Amos 5:18,20; Oba. 1:15; Zep. 1:7,14,18; 2:2,3; Mal. 4:5).

Reign of Christ on Earth
One last future age I would like to mention is that of the literal reign of Christ on earth. This is spoken about in the Psalms and the Prophets. For example, Isaiah wrote, "Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed, For the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, And His glory will be before His elders." (Isa 24:23). There are too many passages to cite, but many people have spiritualized them, rather than taking them literally. One that I will mention that explicitly states Christ will reign as king on earth is found in Zechariah. It states:

"Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him! In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle. For it will be a unique day which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light. And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter. And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one." (Zec 14:1-9)

In this passage, it says, "in that day..." (Hebrew, yom), meaning that this is an age or time period. Moreover, it says that "His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem," and "the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one." This is precisely the same time period as described in Revelation 20, which says:

"Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." (Rev 20:1-4)

Here we are told that this age of Christ's reign on earth will last for a thousand years, which is where we derive the term Millennium. I choose to take that literally, rather than figuratively or spiritually.

Dispensation is a Biblical Word
While the term "dispensationalism" itself may not be a biblical term, the word “dispensation” is in fact found in Scripture. You won't find it in most of the modern translations, but the Geneva Bible, King James Bible, and American Standard Version all contain it. It comes from the Greek word "oikonomia," which means “a (religious) ‘economy’: - dispensation, stewardship.”

Paul said, "That in the dispensation of the fullness of the times, he might gather together in one all things, both which are in heaven, and which are in earth, even in Christ." (Eph 1:10, GNV).

John Wesley commented on this verse, "That in the dispensation of the fullness of the times" means "In this last administration of God's fullest grace, which took place when the time appointed was fully come."  This is the dispensation we live in today, the final administration of God's grace. The time appointed for it by God was fully come during the life of Christ on earth, and is now about to reach its conclusion. You may not agree with Wesley's viewpoint, but it makes no difference, because I have already proven (without using the word "dispensation") that there are dispensations in the Bible.

In connection with that same passage above in Ephesians, I would also like to present one final passage, in order to further demonstrate that the word "dispensation," or "oikonomia," is in the Word of God. In the third chapter of that same epistle, the apostle used four terms that are synonymous with "dispensation," as shown in the chart below:

Synonymous terms Verse
Dispensation of the fullness of the times "That in the dispensation of the fullness of the times, he might gather together in one all things, both which are in heaven, and which are in earth, even in Christ." (Eph 1:10, GNV).
Dispensation of the grace of God "if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you." (Eph 3:2, NKJV).
Mystery of Christ "That by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,” (Eph 3:3-4, NASB)
The Gospel "This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus." (Eph 3:6, NIV)
Dispensation of this mystery "and to make plain to everyone the administration (oikonomia) of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things." (Eph 3:9, NIVUK)

This chart shows that "the dispensation of the fullness of the times," "the dispensation of the grace of God," "the mystery of Christ," "the gospel," and "the dispensation of this mystery" are all interchangeable expressions. They mean exactly the same thing in this context. What is true of one is true of all five expressions. Therefore, the current dispensation of grace that we are in today was not made known to men in other generations, but was kept hidden in God for ages past as a mystery, only being revealed at the appointed time in the gospel, and is now made plain to everyone through the preaching of the gospel.

Putting it All Together
As we can see, the Lord, as well as the prophets and apostles spoke of times, epochs, days, ages, and years. I don't derive that from any man, but from the Lord and His Word. That's what we've got to base our lives on, rather than the traditions of men.

We have established the fact that there are definitely dispensations in the Bible. Dispensations are not unbiblical or erroneous. That does not mean that I promote any particular brand of dispensational doctrine. It just means that we do not need to be afraid of the concept of dispensations. So as we study God’s Word, we can expect to learn about ages or periods of time when God is dealing with people, including His own people, in a particular way.

Therefore, be free, as you study God’s Word, to learn directly from the Holy Spirit about these interesting, wonderful -- often frightening and terrible, as well as glorious ages. In eternity, which is outside of time, time is not kept by days or weeks or months or years, according to the movements of the sun and moon. But there will always be ages throughout eternity, for Scripture speaks of "the coming ages" (Eph 2:7). God changes not. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8). He has always been, is now, and always will be the King of the Ages. "To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." (1Ti 1:17 ESV).

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Time is At Hand" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note: You may also want to read my other related posts:

The End Time Plagues America’s Destruction is at Hand Are You Rapture Ready?
The Land Mourns in the Last Days The Times of the Gentiles Grieve and Lament for the Church
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster The End Has Come Mark of the Beast (666)
The 311 Moment Sequence of Signs Preceding the Coming of Christ Synching Up the Seven Seals with the Gospels

You may also visit our Signs of the Times Directory, and access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.