Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | June 26, 2017

Your Dream World and the Blue Pill

The Matrix

 Directed by the Wachowski Brothers; winner of four Oscars.

In 1999 the movie, “The Matrix” was released to considerable acclaim by both audiences and critics. I do not recall exactly when I first saw the movie but remember being impressed with what I found to be a totally new plot theory unlike any I had encountered before. Having been a science fiction fan since around 1939 that took some doing as I had read or seen so many science fiction stories and found many of them repeating, with minor changes, a similar storyline.

It was going to take some time but I began to realize the parallels between our life on this earth and life in this “Matrix Universe.” For those of you not familiar with the story a character named Thomas A. Anderson, alias Neo makes a life changing discovery; here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on the movie:

The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction film written and directed by The Wachowskis, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe Pantoliano. It depicts a dystopian future in which reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality called “the Matrix”, created by sentient machines to subdue the human population, while their bodies’ heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Computer programmer “Neo” learns this truth and is drawn into a rebellion against the machines, which involves other people who have been freed from the “dream world.”

I have written on this before in my essay The Real Matrix Revealed but would like to think more on this idea of true reality and the real matrix in which we ourselves will live out our mortal lives, our very own “dream world.”

The Blue Pill

In the story Neo is told the truth of his situation and given the opportunity to take a non-reversible blue pill that will change his life forever and discover for himself what reality is really like; he decides to take the blue pill and his adventures begin. We too have a blue pill called salvation in Jesus Christ; when we take that blue pill we are born again and given spiritual life and God, the Holy Spirit to live in us forever. Only then do we have the power of discernment and the ability to distinguish between our matrix and discover true reality.

In the movie a character named Morpheus who was already free of the matrix had to help Neo discover the truth; in real life we too must have someone outside our matrix deliver to us the truth of our situation if we are to ever be free. For us the truth has come in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and the blue pill is the new birth which comes by faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

The truth of creation and all reality is revealed exclusively in the Bible; only those who are spiritually alive and willing to study learn and apply those teachings to their lives have any hope of successfully dealing with the matrix of our lives and true reality.

In the movie the characters that had been freed from the matrix had the ability to either connect or disconnect from the matrix. In our matrix this is not possible; although we are empowered to distinguish between reality and the matrix this is a matter of faith as we must continue to live out our mortal lives in the matrix.

A Vastly More Complex Matrix

The matrix in the movie existed only as a complex digital program that altered the perception of those individuals plugged into it but left all else unchanged; our matrix exists on both a spiritual and physical level and has the appearance of permanence; we are removed from this matrix only by our mortal death.

This winds up confusing a lot of people into thinking this world is reality and the final arbiter of what is valid and what is invalid; such a self-deception is both dangerous and destructive to any who fall into that trap. I have discussed this danger more in the essay, What is Reality and encourage anyone who has not read it to take a look.

I will once more emphasize the importance of perception; your perception of reality is so vitally important to your present and your future. If your perception of reality is not based on the teachings of the Bible it is probably based on your dream world and that can be disastrous for you; a mistake in judgment here can have profound, eternal consequences; choose carefully.

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | June 16, 2017

Are You Living in Interesting Times?

Turmoil and Discord Prevails

The most casual perusal of the news today reveals we are living in a country that is deeply divided against itself. The Democrat Party is in full attack mode against the Republican Party and each other and the Republican Party is fighting Democrats and each other. It appears that the best interests of the people and the nation have little or no place at all in the national arguments that fill the news.

It saddens me to observe the deep divisions that have divided this country into many factions that are fighting and attempting to destroy each other. The electorate has given the Republican Party an opportunity to run the country and it seems that all the Republican Party can do is to run each other into the ground and defend themselves from attacks by Democrats.

 Admittedly President Trump came in as an outsider with the declared intention of “draining the swamp” which became fighting words to the swamp dwellers who were thriving in the swamp environment. Lines have become ever more clearly drawn as the factions attack each other hoping to find vulnerable spots in the others defenses. This internecine warfare seems to be the primary focus of those who should be more concerned with the welfare of the nation and the people.

While national well-being is ignored all efforts are focused on the fight between those who should be brothers working for the common good. It compels one to wonder if there is any hope for this nation or has it, perhaps, run its course and is now ready for a major change.

Now James Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders Democrat campaign volunteer, has been killed by Capitol Police as he was attempting to assassinate a number of Republican Congressional Representatives at a baseball practice Tuesday morning.

The Lord Jesus Christ told the Pharisees; “25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” The way things are going now makes me wonder if this nation can stand.

There is Something Else Going On

While we are inundated by a flood of bad news about the government, the nation and the world there is a process at work which will ultimately and profoundly affect all things but is going unnoticed by almost everyone. God is not mocked; His will is being implemented at all levels of life and experience and will at some point, known only to God, emerge with awesome power and conviction.

Although the timing on this revelation of God’s power is known only to God, I believe the very first manifestations of this emergence are beginning to appear before us even now. We are given clues for which we can watch in several sections of the Bible. In Matthew 24:6-13 it is written:

“6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Again in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 it is written:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”

I believe we are seeing the beginnings of these birth pains referenced by the Lord; it seems to me the signs the Lord mentions are fairly well all in place at this point in time. While this is only the beginning, their intensity will certainly increase as time goes by.

The First Indisputable Sign of the Lord’s Return and the End of the World as we have known it

Bible prophecy tells us there are no remaining, unfulfilled prophecies that must occur before all born again believers are taken home by the removal of the church by the rapture; this could literally happen at any moment. The timing on this event is known only to God, however; we have no idea whether this will be measured in days, years or even centuries of time remaining before the Lord calls his children home.

The Lord has told us there will be signs and as his children we are to be mindful of the signs that will be given to us. These signs should be an encouragement that the Lord’s plan is being fulfilled and he is working all things after the counsel of his own will. One of the criticisms the Lord had for the Pharisees was their failure to notice the signs God was providing for them. In Matthew 16:1-4 it is written:

16 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.”

The sign of Jonah was fulfilled by the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord but even this sign was rejected by the Jewish leaders. Today the equivalent sign from heaven will be the removal of the church but this too will be rationalized away by world leaders.

As Christian men and women we are to see this world with eyes of faith; we are to see God’s hand at work in all that is occurring in the world today. We have been promised that God is in complete control of all things and is working them in accordance with his own will. Like it or not we appear to have been made spectators to what will be the most dramatic occurrences in the history of mankind.

There is, purportedly, an old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times;” it seems as if this may apply to us.

Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | June 13, 2017

The Mystery of Eternity in You

The following was written and published yesterday by my wife, Adele, on her blog, Letters From Adele.  I thought it very beautifully expressed the feelings of many Christians; being made in the image of God has profound ramifications!

Thoughts About Disney World and Eternity

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of man; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” ___Ecclesiastes 3:11

If the Lord has given me the privilege of taking from His Word what I think is a valid meaning……..and I think He allows me to do that……..then Ecclesiastes 3:11 is one of my favorite to contemplate.

MY THOUGHT: I think the Lord has put in our hearts (as His children) an intense desire for many wonderful things; perfection, love, belonging, beauty, fellowship with Him…..in His words…..”eternity”.

I love Disney World…as many of my friends know. We love to take trips there with as many of our family members as possible. It is truly a magical place, where perfection is job one. After being there very long and returning to the real world, I often wonder why other businesses do not try a little harder to create a better experience for their customers.

But Disney World is only a creation, certainly a very successful one, but nevertheless, a creation. It occurred to David and me long ago that DW senses that longing in our hearts that Solomon mentions in the verse above.

As the old saying goes, “There’s no place like home”, and eternity is our home, not our current location. We strive to create perfection, love, etc……in a world that belongs to the evil one right now, but we continue to try…because we “…cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

I’ll keep trying to satisfy that longing while here, but am very happy to know that perfection only the Lord Himself can create is waiting for me…..and you. Praise Him!

‘Til He Shouts!
Adele Bower

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | May 31, 2017

A Happy Birthday Message to the Church!

The Church is 1,984 Years Old

According to the Jewish calendar today is Shavuot, Pentecost, May 31, 2017; on Sunday, June 4, 2017 some churches will observe Pentecost, the 1,984th birthday of the true church; an event generally overlooked by many. It was “born” on May 25, 33 AD on the date that year of the Jewish celebration of the Feast of Pentecost.

This was truly an amazing event as the face of humanity was changed forever. At that point a completely new type of human being came into existence, human beings who had been permanently indwelt by God, the Holy Spirit. The former type of human being was still around in great abundance but now a completely new creation, human beings indwelt by God, began living on the earth.

Before the creation of the church, the Holy Spirit had been with individuals chosen by God for special ministries but the Holy Spirit had not permanently indwelt them as He would indwell all who were born again during the church age.

Before that momentous occasion, the Spirit of God, had dwelt successively in the Tabernacle, and later in the Temple in Jerusalem before the Babylonian Captivity, but had not been present in the restored Temple in Jerusalem which later came to be known as Herod’s Temple. During those earlier periods, the indwelling of God produced visible results in that the radiance of God was manifested when the Spirit of God dwelled in the Tabernacle and the Temple.

Just as the visible glory of God was hidden in the Lord Jesus Christ, the visible glory of God would also be hidden as the Holy Spirit indwelt each and every human being who received Christ as Savior regardless of denominational affiliation or lack thereof. The situation was complicated by the fact that the outward appearance was not changed at all and by simply looking at people one could not tell whether they were indwelt by God or not.

A Hidden Change with Great Eternal Significance

Although the visible manifestations of the new creation are hidden, the spiritual realities are profound and eternal. Long after this physical realm in which we find ourselves has been destroyed, these spiritual realities will still be in full force and effect. The eternal destiny of those who are spiritually dead is the Lake of Fire, for those spiritually alive and indwelt by God, the Holy Spirit, a future in the new heaven and the new earth as a member of the family of God.

Those who are alive are cautioned to avoid being unequally yoked with those who are dead; there is a great gulf fixed between the living and the dead which can only be bridged by faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. We who are alive are commanded to offer directions on passage over that bridge to those who are dead. Those who choose to cross the bridge can join the ranks of the living and become a part of the new creation while those who reject the offer to cross that bridge continue to live under the wrath of God.

36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. John 3:36

Happy Birthday to All Who Have Crossed from Death to Life!

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | May 17, 2017

Your Place in Heaven

OSAS

OSAS is an acronym for once saved always saved; the popular expression for the eternal security of the believer. Christianity teaches that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ dying on the cross provides an eternal, unalterable salvation for the one who accepts the finished work of Christ as the payment for their sins.

This very simple concept is amazingly difficult for many Christians to believe and accept. I find it saddening that so many who should be rejoicing with confidence in their salvation are afflicted by doubt and uncertainty when it comes to the security of their position as members of God’s family.

There seems to be a feeling that some sins are just too bad to be so easily forgiven by simple belief in the Lord as one’s Savior; certainly, they think, some sins are so hideous that some sort of special penance or additional payment is required for God to forgive those sins.

Notice particularly that I selected the word feeling because these ideas come from our own feelings of unworthiness. There are times when all of us are disgusted by memories of our failures and feel unworthy of salvation; feelings that God should just send a lightning bolt down from heaven and obliterate us giving us what we truly deserve.

GOD KNOWS US BETTER THAN WE KNOW OURSELVES

As painfully aware of our failures as we might be, God knows our failures even better and in spite of all of them has sent His Son to die in our place and pay for all of our sins past, present and future.

In Romans 5:8 the apostle writes: “But God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It is at this point that the confusion about sin begins in the minds of many.

When we think of being sinners our minds review the committed sins of which we have been guilty during the course of our lives. The knowledge of those sins can all too easily haunt us as our minds replay those events of rebellion and transgression against God.

Is this the sort of thing the Holy Spirit had in mind as He inspired Paul to write those words? I think not because a few verses later He inspired Paul to explain the primary reason Christ died on the cross.

THE FEDERAL HEADSHIP OF ADAM

Mankind truly has a big problem with sin, but it is not the sins of commission or omission which so quickly come to our minds; it is rather the sin of being a human being; it is the sin of being a descendent of Adam.

In Romans 5:12 the apostle writes: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.” In the following verses Paul goes on to explain what is called the doctrine of the federal headship of Adam. Adam, as the first man had within him all who would be born subsequently into the human race. When Adam sinned against a direct command from God, he died spiritually and all who would be born of his seed died at the same time.

What this teaches is that both you and I and everyone who was to later be born died spiritually in Adam in the Garden of Eden! This is God’s primary charge against the human race and the main reason Christ died on the cross.

There is absolutely nothing you can do or undo that would change that one fact, you are a human descendant of Adam’s race and you spiritually died in Adam in the Garden.

TWO DISTINCT TYPES OF HUMANITY

The earth today is inhabited by two distinct types of human beings; those who are spiritually alive, and those who are spiritually dead. Spiritual life comes only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as one’s Savior. In Ephesians 2:1 Paul writes: “And you hath he made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins;” spiritual life came with salvation and only salvation can provide spiritual life.

These then are the issues at play when one accepts the saving work of the Lord as their payment for sin. The Lord Jesus Christ as our kinsman redeemer has paid the price necessary for our redemption from Adam’s transgression. We have received the gift of spiritual life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Where then does personal sin enter the picture? With regard to the believer’s eternal place in God’s family it is irrelevant; with regard to the Spirit led life it is critical. In I John 1:8-10 John writes: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

The good news there is that God hears us when we confess our sins to Him and is also faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Confession of our sins before God restores the power of God the Holy Spirit in our lives and permits us the privilege of enjoying the fruit of the spirit as described in Galatians 5:22f.

The motivator for resisting sin should not be fear of losing our salvation which is impossible, but rather our devotion to and love for the Lord Jesus Christ and our sincere desire to please the one who died in our place!

With regard to our salvation there is nothing whatsoever that can separate us from the love of God; in Romans 8: 38-39 Paul writes: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

With this you, as a born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, can know beyond any doubt that your place in God’s family is preserved eternally by the mighty power of God. Rejoice in your good fortune and give thanks to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

First published October 4, 2011 as “Eternal Security of the Believer,” revised and edited

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | May 8, 2017

Christians with Dirty Feet, Concluded

Lessons at Two Levels

From other sections of scripture we learn the disciples had been discussing their notions of who would be most important in the coming kingdom; not a situation where humility and service would be foremost in their thinking.

Any of the disciples could have taken on themselves the servants job of washing the other disciples feet before the meal but this was certainly not on any of their mental agenda’s.

The Lord was fully aware of what had been going on and wanted to help them learn an important lesson; earlier He had spoken to them about being a servant in Matthew 23:11-12 where it is written:

“11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

I think it safe to say this message fell on deaf ears; not one of the disciples was able to apply this advice to the situation they faced in the upper room. I suspect it may have even occurred to some of them that they could do this but their pride kept them from humbling themselves before the group.

The first and most obvious lesson is the lesson of humility and service to others; this is the lesson that Jesus mentions in verses 12-17 where it is written:

“12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.”

I do not think this was the most important lesson that they would later come to understand as referenced by the Lord in verse 7:

“7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

Why would our Lord say:

“Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

Then Jesus says in verse 10a, “10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.”

How do These Statements work in the Life of the Christian Today?

As we look back at this scene we see the Lord beginning to explain an important lesson in the Christian life today. As Christians we have been washed free from sin by the shed blood of Jesus Christ but we live our lives, inhabited by a sin nature, in a fallen, sin cursed world which causes our spiritual feet to gather the dusty residue of this sinful world.

The Lord knew we would need to have our spiritual feet washed by the confession of sin to God; that is why we have that section in 1 John 1:8-10 where it is written:

“8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.”

Confession of sin to God is the spiritual foot washing that only Jesus can do, that is why He can say “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Only God can forgive sin and the spiritual foot washing we need can only come through confession of sin to God.

While the first lesson of service and humility is important, the second lesson is equally important; if we would be completely clean before God we must wash our spiritual feet by confession of sin to God.

When we confess our sins to God the Holy Spirit can take control of our lives and we can manifest lives controlled by the fruit of the Spirit.

One final point, please keep in mind this has everything to do with fellowship and quality of life for the Christian; our salvation has been eternally secured by the death of Christ on the cross so our spiritually dirty feet have only to do with the Holy Spirit being in control of our lives. This is an important point and helps us understand why the Lord would want to teach this lesson to the disciples on His last night on earth as a servant.

“5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | May 1, 2017

Christians with Dirty Feet

The Washing of the Disciples Feet

In John 13 we are told a remarkable story; Jesus washes the feet of His disciples. The very next day Jesus was going to be crucified and He understood all too well what was coming upon Him; Jesus was being called on to do what we could not do for ourselves, pay the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross.

Does it seem strange that Jesus would take the time to wash the disciples feet on the night before His crucifixion? Of all the things He might have done He choose to wash their feet; on the surface this may seem rather incongruous but if we look at this foot washing episode from a spiritual perspective we begin to see answers to questions that are otherwise too obscure to explain.

Most of us understand the need for foot washing in New Testament times; open sandals and dusty streets equal dirty feet and usually arrangements were made to provide for foot washing when one entered the host’s house as a guest although this was not usually done by the host.

The Background

Let us examine this episode as described in John 13:1-17 where it is written:

13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

Since they had rented an upper room there was no host to greet them or arrange for a servant to wash their feet; in most instances each guest washed their own feet with facilities made available by the host. One might speculate that no convenient facilities for foot washing were available as they entered the building or the upper room.

Since foot washing was a common practice at that time Peter and the other disciples would have understood the need for foot washing; what was it then that they would later understand? What was the lesson Jesus wanted to teach to them?

Next time: Lessons at Two Levels.

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 21, 2017

Is There a Safe Place for You?

We Live in a Troubled World!

East of Eden © Adele Bower

Even a casual examination of the media today reveals troubles in almost any direction you may choose to look. Local news headlines murder, assault, robbery, and the national media follows suit on an even greater scale. I am reminded of Matthew 24:6-8 where it is written:

“6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”

While this is a direct reference to a time yet coming the description seems to fit all too well today. We are seeing all of these signs to a greater or lesser degree even as you read these words. For many there are questions about what is going on, where will this all end and when can some order and calm be restored to the world.

A time of world peace will indeed come but only when the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ, comes to restore it as described in the Bible. In the meantime what about those who love the Lord and long for His return? We know we live in a world dominated by Satan and can see clear evidence of His influence in what is happening around us.

While it has pleased the Lord to delay his return, Christians are not left without help and reassurance that they are loved and cared for. We have been given great and wonderful gifts to help us as we live out our lives on this troubled world.

A Love Letter to You from God

The eighth chapter of Romans begins and ends with triumphant joy for all Christians; there is no condemnation for born again Christians and nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. In between those two spires of doctrinal reassurance lie the abundant promises a loving God has lavished on His family. Although 1 Corinthians 13 is considered by many as the “Love Chapter” I suggest to you that Romans 8 is God’s love letter to His very own family!

Over the last seven essays we have considered some of the ways God has shown us His grace, mercy and love; particularly in this love letter to His children. Although we are loved it has pleased God that we should remain in our mortal bodies so that we might serve and honor him with our lives for those years of our mortality he has apportioned to us. I think often of those verses in Psalm 139 which speak to the point of our mortality:

“13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.”

To me that is a blessed thought; to know that God has carefully thought through all the moments of my life; how could I ask for any better assurance of his loving care than that? At age 84 I will joyfully testify to his loving care and with the advantages of hindsight acknowledge and rejoice in the wondrous blessings he has poured out on me over those years.

The Task that Remains

As we seek to serve and honor the Lord in the time he has given us it is so important that we retain a clear Biblical perspective on who we are and what we must do. The Bible seeks to warn us of the dangers we may face and offers many reassurances to us as we live out our lives. While it is certain we will face difficulties it is equally certain we will enjoy the blessings of God’s loving watchcare over us.

“35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I cannot even begin to imagine a more comprehensive summary of God’s unfailing love for his children, can you? I love the way God describes our situation in Isaiah 41:10 where it is written:

“10 Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 13, 2017

Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the Beginning of the End

The End of What?

Tomorrow will be Good Friday and while that is the day we remember the crucifixion, death and burial of our Lord Jesus Christ; Easter Sunday is the occasion we celebrate His resurrection from the dead. A historic change in man’s relationship to God had occurred; by God’s grace the barrier between God and man that had been created by Adam’s deliberate sin of disobedience had been removed by the death of our Lord, the Second Adam from above.

You may recall in Genesis 2:15-17

“15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Unfortunately Adam choose to disobey God and when he ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he, and all of humanity present and future died in Adam. As I’ve observed before, that means that you and I and every human born of a human father are born spiritually dead. It is the sin of Adam that created the barrier between God and man and the primary reason the Lord Jesus Christ suffered death as our kinsman-redeemer.

The Tearing of the Curtain on Good Friday

God gave us a symbol of the removal of this barrier when, at the time of the crucifixion, the curtain between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in Herod’s temple was torn from the top to the bottom; signifying that access to God was now open to mankind through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

By his death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ had paid the penalty for all human sin for all time; sin had been removed as a barrier between God and man. As hard as it may be to imagine, personal sin is no longer the issue; the only remaining issue requiring resolution is receiving the forgiveness of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and God.

The Good News

Because of the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, the end had come for sin as a barrier between God and man. The church can now proclaim a message of hope, a message of reconciliation and good news for a suffering humanity:

BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND YOU WILL BE SAVED!

(First published April 3, 2015, revised and updated)

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday and its Enormous Significance!

Today is Palm Sunday

Today we celebrate the entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem where He had come to die. This week was to be a terrible time of testing for the Jewish nation although they had no idea of the great significance of what was to happen from that point onward.

The exact date for this momentous event had been prophesied by the Prophet Daniel and that prophecy, among many others, was being perfectly fulfilled by our Lord as He rode into the city. I would say it was certain that among the tens of thousands present that day only the Lord understood the staggeringly wondrous truths that were being put into place.

Four hundred and eighty three years had passed since the beginning of the third and final group of three 490 year periods that had been given to Israel by God. The second group had ended with the Babylonian captivity and now the third group of 490 years had been put on hold at year 483 as also foretold by Daniel.

Israel was being set aside for an unspecified number of years while a mystery was revealed, the mystery of the church and the age of grace, the age in which we now live. The remaining 7 years promised to Israel would resume at a point yet future when Israel would sign a covenant with the Antichrist.

The Entry into Jerusalem

Contrary to what we customarily celebrate, the entry was on a Monday, not a Sunday and it was not triumphal for our Lord; it was a time of great sadness as evidenced by Luke 19:41-42 where it is written, “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.”

The particular Greek word used for wept means a loud wracking sob; our Lord’s body was shaken by His sobs as He entered Jerusalem. He is likely the only one who understood the enormity of what was happening; the Jewish nation was being temporarily set aside, their rejection of their Messiah was going to yield great suffering for centuries to come. Their judgment would be severe and is still in force today.

It is likely, in His omniscience, that Jesus saw the Jerusalem of 70 AD as destroyed by Titus and could also see the bodies of some of those welcoming Him as they lay silent in death. This was a momentous, tragic moment that was being recognized only by the Lord and the thought of what was going to befall Jerusalem and His people reduced Him to wracking sobs. I suspect His disciples were totally confused by His reaction to the sight of Jerusalem and the excited crowds.

There is another extremely touching aspect of our Lord’s entering Jerusalem on Nissan 10. If we examine Exodus 12:3 we read, “Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month (Nissan) each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.” This was part of the instructions given to Israel on the occasion of the first Passover in Egypt. The family would select a perfect lamb and place it on display in front of their dwelling so all could see they were offering the Lord their very best.

God’s Passover Lamb put on display

On March 30, AD33, the 10th of Nissan, the Father put His Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world on display for all Jerusalem to see that the Father was offering them His very best. (In 2017 we are in year 5777 according to the Jewish calendar and the 10th of Nissan took place this past Thursday, April 6th.)

After the passing of that day Israel had been set aside for an undetermined number of years. Today we are at year 1,984 and still counting as Israel continues to suffer judgments until the return of the Lord they rejected.

The countdown clock on Israel’s last 490 years will recommence when Israel signs a covenant agreement with the Antichrist; this event and not the rapture of the church will be the trigger that starts their final countdown and the beginning of the Tribulation.

While this was an amazing week, filled with suffering and anguish for our Lord and judgment for Israel, it was the reason our Lord took on human form; that was necessary that He might die for our sins. The moment of triumph was coming soon, the following week our Lord would rise from the dead having perfectly paid the price of our redemption.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-4

(First published March 28, 2015, updated and revised)

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