January 5, 2017
It’s that time of year again. Many people take a good look at themselves and resolve to make changes in the way they live. Some see the need to give up a bad habit, such as smoking. Other’s want to be better stewards of their money. Every year I resolve to lose weight, but like most resolutions I never seem to be able to put it into practice for more than a couple of weeks. There’s always next year, right? Of all the resolutions to be made, drawing nearer to Christ is one that every Christian should make and keep. A closer walk with Christ should be our hearts desire. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” James 4:8a. How often have you felt that you’re far from God? We all go through times of being on the mountain top, then we plunge down into the valley. God is always right there with us, but when we’re in the valley we sometimes feel far from Him. He hasn’t moved away, but you’ve stopped looking for Him.
Many Christians read through their Bible each year, and that’s a good habit to get into. Scriptures can be memorized and brought to mind in a time of need. If you become familiar with passages that bring comfort you will be able to bring peace to a friend who is struggling, and therefore help others in their walk with Jesus. Reading through the Bible is good, but maybe this year you should resolve to really study it. As you study, have a good concordance nearby in order to learn the meaning of each word in a verse. No matter what version you use, our English Bible is merely a translation from the original languages. Quite often you will gain deeper understanding by knowing the definition of original words and phrases. You’ll learn that it was God who created everything and it didn’t evolve from nothing. Only by study will you learn what God says as opposed to how man has confused His word. “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8. You may have to change your mind about the “profane and old wives’ fables” you’ve been taught once you study Scripture. For instance, many preachers teach that the reason God destroyed all flesh in the Flood is that Seth’s sons married Cain’s daughters. What a fable that is! Satan uses that fable in order to make God look angry and vindictive. An honest study of Genesis chapter 6 reveals that the “sons of God” are the fallen angels and the “daughters of men” are human women. This ungodly union produced the Nephilim, which had to be destroyed or all of creation would be beyond redemption. If you believe that God destroyed all flesh because one human married another human, then you’ll be confused about other passages where God gives orders to destroy all men, women, children, and animals of certain tribes. The human genome has to be protected from corruption of their DNA by satanic forces. Unless you study what God says rather than man’s fables you will be very confused. By the way, scientists today are corrupting DNA quite regularly…just as in the days of Noah.
Only Bible study will give you the knowledge to defend your faith. If someone asks you a question, you’ll have the answer. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” 1 Peter 3:15. The world, which is under the influence of Satan, accepts many things that contradict God’s word. If you “sanctify the Lord God” in your heart, then you will have no conflict of how to answer someone who claims that God is OK with the particular sin they embrace. They will say not to judge them because Christians aren’t to judge. People like to pull a verse out of context and build a false doctrine around it. By studying God’s word you can explain that you aren’t judging because God defines sin and the wages of sin is death. Then you can open their eyes to God’s love and forgiveness. If you have studied Scripture you will be able to help them to repent and accept salvation that only is through Christ.
Walking closer with our Lord takes determination. As you study God’s word, examine your life. We all have sin that comes between us and Jesus. Recognize the sin in your life and ask God to help you move away from it. James wrote that if we draw close to God, He will draw close to us and then he tells us how to do that. “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” James 4:8b-10. We tend to recognize sin in others but justify our own sin. Anger, lust, and poor stewardship of our money are just a few things we justify. James says to stop being double minded. Don’t have one standard for yourself and another standard for others. Cleanse your hands of the sin in your own life and live as an example to others of how to honor Christ. Remember, God hasn’t changed His mind about what is and isn’t sin. What was sin yesterday is sin today. He shed His blood to purchase your redemption from the wages of sin. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23. Christ paid a huge price to save you. Don’t take that fact lightly.
Many people today say they can “feel” that things are changing. “Something’s in the air”, they say. That “something” is prophecy being fulfilled. Many Christians ignore prophecy and refuse to study it. That’s wrong. God gave us prophecy for our benefit…a light that shines in a dark place. “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” 2 Peter 1:19-20. Peter had witnessed amazing things as He walked with Jesus, but in spite of what he saw he placed prophecy above what he experienced, yet most preachers won’t teach about it. In effect that’s telling God that a large portion of His word doesn’t matter. The events happening around the world, especially in the Middle East, will make more sense when looked at through Bible prophecy. Why is there such a fight over Israel’s right to exist? God gave that land to the Jewish people. Period. God gave it to them forever. The UN, the USA, or any other political alliance you can name, has no right to take it away from them. Study Genesis chapter 13 to see that the land was given by God Almighty to Abram’s seed forever. Abram (whose name was changed to Abraham) is the father of the nation of Israel. Prophecy tells us that all nations will come against Israel, and we see that happening today. The war will continue but Israel will be victorious. As you study Scripture, don’t neglect prophecy. God wants us to understand and walk close to Him as we face these last days.
Which brings us to the Rapture. Studying Scripture will reveal that not only is the Rapture Scriptural but it’s on the very near horizon. Many people erroneously believe that the pre-tribulation Rapture is a new teaching. Nonsense. In your study of Genesis you will come across Enoch who was taken (Raptured) by God prior to the judgment of Noah’s flood (Genesis 5:24and Hebrews 11:5). Enoch is a “picture” of the pre-tribulation Rapture. Also study Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians and you will see that Paul taught a pre-tribulation Rapture. Also understand that the letters that Jesus dictated to John, which are found in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation, spell out the history of the ekklēsia. After the final letter, John saw a door open in Heaven. “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” Revelation 4:1. This is the Rapture. The rest of Revelation is what John saw happening after the ekklēsia (Christians) are Raptured. There were marvelous things in Heaven, but on earth it is awful. The events of the final seven years will be horrendous…God’s wrath will be poured out. All those who have not accepted Christ for salvation will face harrowing times. This alone should inspire you to draw near to God and witness to others about the good news of salvation through Jesus.
The most comforting of all subjects of study is salvation. God made it simple for us but people have complicated it. “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. What a wonderful promise! There’s nothing you can do, no works involved, that can save you. Only grace from God accepted by faith brings salvation. There’s no other way to spend eternity in Heaven than through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everyone is a sinner and falls short of God’s perfect standard, but Jesus shed His blood for the entire world. The question is, in what have you placed your faith? “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Romans 3:23-26. Have you placed your faith in Christ alone for salvation? Many people place their faith in works, such as doing good deeds. Some believe that baptism equals salvation. How many people have been baptized but haven’t placed their faith in Christ and think they are saved? Each person must make the choice to accept God’s free gift for themselves. Works should be a result of your faith. You should be baptized because of obedience and you should do good deeds help as a way to glorify Christ, but only faith brings salvation. As you walk closer to Jesus you will become more and more thankful for the price He paid to redeem you.
Of all the resolutions you can make, the one with the greatest rewards is to truly study His word and walk close to Him.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.