Sunday, July 27, 2008

God Uses Prophecy to Unveil Jesus

Over at my Talk Wisdom message board, Sothenes has posted some questions and comments for post-tribulationists regarding end times prophecy.

He brings up some very important subject matter for Christians to consider; especially the point he made about how useful and helpful it is to know the entirety of Scripture in order to understand the book of Revelation. I think that is very true.

I am currently re-reading Ed Hindson's Antichrist Rising: The Coming Global Storm book again. He provides so much detailed information (as well as a whole library of reference books on the topic) and puts forth a good, solid, biblical argument for dispensational premillennialism and the rapture (which includes the pre-tribulation rapture idea); but does not slam those who might believe otherwise. This is one area where Christians need not participate in "foolish arguments." We can solidly believe in one position about the end times over the other possibilities without harming our common bond with other Christian believers through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sothenes summed it up quite well when he wrote:

"The final answer rests in God's word and what He hasn't told us rests with God alone."

Very important to remember that!

I do think that end times conversation is quite interesting, though. All that is revealed in the book of Revelation is designed to keep us sharp regarding all that is going on in the world around us. We are seeing prophecy fulfillment happening right before our own eyes! It's very exciting...and, at the same time...a bit scary. But we know WHO wins in the end so there is really nothing to be dismayed about.

Recognizing the "birth pangs" as the end times get closer and closer gives believers superior advantange over those who do not have a clue regarding what the Bible reveals through the prophets. This is why we need to encourage Christians to continually study ALL of the books of the Bible.

I have encountered many Christians who have told me that their pastors do not preach on the book of Revelation. Personally, I think that is a big mistake. How on earth are we to be prepared for the end times if we do not study it?

I have done various studies on Revelation. Learned something new every time! In one study I did (based on Anne Graham Lotz's book - The Vision of His Glory) - the focus was entirely on finding hope through the Revelation of Jesus Christ - rather than only focusing on the prophecies of the future. That was the point of the study. In the introduction, Anne Graham Lotz said, "The Book of Revelation begins by clearly stating its theme: 'The revelation of Jesus Christ...' The word revelation literally means to 'unveil.' In the Book of Revelation, God uses prophecy to 'unveil' Jesus, enabling us to see Him in a unique way. And when we see Him clearly, we see a vision of His glory."

It was truly educational to study that way! I did that seminar 7 years ago, in June of 2001. Time to review it again!

The study was very timely, in fact. Just four months later, the horrendous 9/11/01 terrorist attacks upon our nation happened.

What I really liked about the Lotz study was that each seminar topic discussed a portion of Scripture in Revelation. Then, we would follow five inductive steps to show us how to get more out of what we just read. For example:

Revelation 21:22-27

Step 1 is to read God's Word, underline, circle, or otherwise mark the text to aid in our studying it.

Step 2 asks us, "What does the Scripture say?" We are to make a verse-by-verse list of the most outstanding, ovvious facts and list them.

Step 3 asks, "What does the Scripture mean?" Identify a lesson to learn from each fact. Focus on spiritual lessons.

Step 4 asks, "What does the Scripture mean to me? Rewrite the lessons from step 3 in the form of questions. Be personal as you formulate your questions.

Step 5 Live in response. Pinpoint what God is saying to you from this passage. How will you respond? Write down today's date and what you will do now about what He has said.

Here is what I wrote back in 7/16/01:

I can rest on the certainty and security of my salvation only because of what Jesus Christ did for me on the cross!

Notice, I didn't write the second part of the answer...yet.

...what will you do now about what He has said?

That came months later - after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In December, 2001, my website Angels Helper was born. Soon after that came my Talk Wisdom message board. In 2005, I began writing here at my Talk Wisdom blog.

Prior to creating my website, I frequently wrote letters to the editor in our local newspaper. A year after the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks, the paper asked readers to write and answer the question:

How has your life changed since 9/11/01?

I wrote:

My best friend Kelly and her family went to NYC in 2002 and visited the cleared away site of the WTC towers. She brought back a special gift for me. It is a framed photo of the huge steel cross with the American flag in the background. This symbol of Christ's sacrifice for mankind was found in the wreckage. At the bottom of the photo are 5 men praying. This photo reminds me that every day of my life, time spent with family and friends, is a precious gift from the Lord.

As a result of that fateful day, who didn't find themselves asking, "if I were to die tonight, where would I spend eternity?" I realized that as a Christian, I should not ever waste the opportunity to share the Gospel with anyone who might be willing to listen. This tragic and sobering event in our nation's history has led many people to seek God for an answer to the purpose of their lives. I have given away Bibles and books to many teens and adults who need that answer. I have created a website and discussion forum which is dedicated to providing timeless biblical answers to life's most important questions. The biggest change in my personal life has been not to shy away or hide my faith, but to boldly share Christ with others. My new life verse is Ephesians 6:20b, "Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."

The Lotz study helped prepare me for the grief that I, my family, my friends, and our entire nation suffered following that awful day.

The Seminar titles alone emphasize our need for the Savior and send the eternal message of the need for the Hope of Jesus Christ in our lives!

1. Hope When You Are Depressed.
2. Hope When You Are Deluded.
3. Hope When You Are Discouraged.
4. Hope When You Are Distressed.
5. Hope When You Are Defeated.
6. Hope That Ignites Your Heart.

That study helped me tremendously. It helped me to find hope through the revelation of Jesus Christ. It helped lead me towards having the desire to write and impart that vision of His glory to others.

I particularly like the special message that Anne Graham Lotz has written on the page just before the contents:

As God works through us...
We will help people and churches know Jesus Christ and seek His Kingdom by providing biblical solutions that spiritually transform individuals and cultures.


Susan Smith said...

Dear Christine—

These are very timely words for the world this day. “The Vision of His Glory” is a wonderful book. I enjoyed reading it when I was in Israel a few years ago. Anne Graham Loetz is a brilliant writer.

Your post is a great read to start another week. It is positive. Every individual has “a time to be born and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:2). Only God knows the day and the hour. Praise His Name. No one knows if they are going to wake up tomorrow and it is important to be ready for the return of the Messiah.

Thank you for giving your readers a peek at your notes and for sharing your letter to the editor. I enjoy reading what you write. The Lord works in and through you as you continue to be salt and light to the world. Those who read the Bible know the greatest commandment in both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4 and Mark 12:29).

At one time, we as Gentiles had no Messiah. We were estranged from the national life of Israel, and we were foreigners to the covenants embodying God’s promise of life. We were in this world without hope and without God (EPH 2:12). I am thankful for the Jews God used to write the Hebrew Scriptures.

It is a privilege to send love from the East coast to the West coast as we continue to live on earth in one nation under one God. It is a much greater blessing to live in the holy nation with you...we are a chosen people (1Peter 2:9). Have a wonderful week. (ss)

Matt W. said...

John MacArthur, on his radio program "Grace To You" is right now doing a study on end times Prophesy, and he does talk about the Rapture as a fact, but at one point he said that some Christians don't believe in the Rapture, and that they can make some very good arguments for that possition. I was a little surprised, because he is ussually totally certain in his possitions.

I agree though, while I do believe solidly on the side of Pre-tribulation rapture, I see it as a secondary issue, and not something that should devide us.

John said...

"This is one area where Christians need not participate in "foolish arguments." We can solidly believe in one position about the end times over the other possibilities without harming our common bond with other Christian believers through the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

As a post tribber I must say, I sure do hope I am wrong and you are right. ;-)