Love – the Greatest Gift!

There is so much about Jesus’ coming to earth that we can celebrate – it is the greatest gift, given to the greatest number of people, by the greatest Giver, moved by the greatest love ever known. As Fredrick Lehman wrote in his timeless hymn in 1917, there is no way that words can describe the love of God:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

The Love of God is truly a gift that keeps on giving; from the day that He wooed us away from the world to the day that we will breathe our last, we draw strength from the knowledge that the Creator of all things loves us. His love is the power that keeps us, the strength that moves us forward, and the anchor that holds in the storms of life.

Contrary to human love, God’s love is without condition. He loves us because He is love, and cannot deny Himself. Our failings and missteps don’t diminish God’s love for us, and that is our security as we walk through the minefield of temptations, the filth of the world, and the mistakes that we make. Where would we be without the love of God?

Not only did God reach out to us in love while we were running away from Him, He poured His own unconditional love out into our hearts so that we may share it, unconditionally as it is, to the unloveable in our sphere. Everybody needs love – and responds to it – if it is genuine. Few things give hope to the hopeless as love extended can.

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5

The God-kind of love, poured out in our hearts, enables us to love with His love! No wonder it is the first fruit of a Spirit-filled life!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22

You cannot have joy or peace without love; you cannot be patient (longsuffering), kind, flow in goodness, be faithful, be gentle, or exercise self-control, if it is not fuelled by the love of God. While you can do it in your own strength under ideal circumstances, it requires the love of God to display these traits when things don’t go your way. The love of God is the oil that keeps your lamp burning on your darkest day.

God didn’t have less love when He poured it out in our hearts – He multiplied it!

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 1 John 3:16

God gave His Son to us, then Jesus gave His life for us – all because of love. Now it is our turn to give ourselves, because love compels us. When we give, we receive.

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

Love shines like a lighthouse in a world filled with hatred. Anybody can hate, but it takes a life surrendered to Christ to truly love, for love is the trademark of the new creation man and woman.

The tremendous power of faith that has the potential to move mountains, even if as small as a mustard seed, is powered by love. (Galatians 5:6) Love never fails, and is greater than hope and faith.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

When you received Jesus into your life, you also received His love because He cannot be separated from it. He made that deposit in our lives, now we have to grow it by giving it away. This is the true spirit of His coming. Merry Christmas everybody!

The Blood of Jesus

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13,14

In a world where self-love and living the better life now occupy centre stage, the core truths of the gospel are easily forgotten. With the many advantages available to us in our highly developed world, our dependence on provisions flowing from a living relationship with God, is likely to disappear. There is no pressing need to live a life that is anchored to the pillars of our faith.

The post at the very centre of our faith is the blood of Christ, without which there simply is no Christianity. There are many look-alikes in the world of religion, but authentic Christianity is built on this truth that was established at the very beginning of man’s presence on earth.

When Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God – the very essence of sin – God covered their shame with the skin of an animal. (Genesis 3;21) Although blood is not mention here, it is clear that some blood was shed for it to happen – the innocent had to die to cover the sin of the guilty. Later in Scripture (Leviticus 17:11) we see that life is in the blood, and we begin to understand that an innocent life is required to hide the ugliness of spiritual death before holy God. Sin cannot exist in the presence of God, but God in His grace and love for man, devised a way for the sinner to stand before Him.

Revelation comes to us in parts, with new understanding added to the former, until the full picture can be seen in its completed form. Abel’s offering of a lamb from the firstborn of his flock of sheep, was accepted by God, and from this incident we know that a lamb qualified as a sacrifice. While Abel’s offering pleased God, it aroused the anger of Cain, who promptly killed his brother. As sinners do, Cain tried to hide his sin, but God noticed it because Abel’s blood called to Him from the earth. Adding to the blood of an innocent as the only acceptable sacrifice for sin, we now discovered that blood also speaks. (Genesis 4:10) The New Testament adds another piece of the puzzle when we see that the blood of Abel called for revenge:

…to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. Hebrews 12:24

As the freed Israelites were about to depart from a life of slavery in Egypt – a symbol and type of the world – God instructed Moses to kill a lamb per household, and paint its blood on the doorposts of their dwellings. Everyone who entered through the blood was spared from the devastation of the angel of death who came to punish the Egyptians for their oppression of His people. Blood not only has the ability to cover the sins of the guilty; it speaks, and can save you from death itself.

When the law was introduced after Israel’s exit from Egypt, the blood of many lambs had to be shed to cover the sins of the people that separated them from the blessings from God that they so heavily depended on. Every one of those lambs had to be examined individually beforehand by the priest to ensure their perfection; no lamb with even the slightest blemish qualified as a sacrifice, shedding more light on God’s unfolding plan of redemption. No lamb with a flaw, no matter how small, was acceptable. Such a lamb would not be a sacrifice, but rather an opportunity to get rid of a worthless animal. Every minute piece of detail has significance in the plans of God.

With the elements of God’s plan revealed, one after the other, the prophets began to point the finger to the ultimate sacrifice, the Lamb of God:

All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. Isaiah 53:6,7

The New Testament opens with John the Baptist identifying Jesus as the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world.

And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” John 1:34-36

God’s plan of redemption, so long in the making, was ready to be fulfilled. He was tempted by the devil, but did not succumb. His obedience to the Father was tested to the extreme as He only spoke what He heard Him speak, and only did what He saw Him do. (John 14:10; John 5:19) He did not come to do His will, but the Father’s. And when the hour came to pay the penalty for our sin, He submitted Himself fully to the Father against His own will. This is where He turned first Adam’s disobedience victoriously into obedience, and opened the door to the God-kind of life for hopeless humanity.

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39

For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19

Before He received the death sentence, the ruler of the day examined Him and declared, “I find no fault in Him.” (John 19:6) This is the very essence of the gospel that gave birth to the Christian life. Jesus fully qualified to be the Lamb of God:

Just as Abels’ lamb, Jesus is, in a sense, the firstborn: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (Colossians 1:15)

He was examined and found without fault: Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.” (John 19;6)

His blood speaks, not of revenge like Abel’s, but of forgiveness: Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

His blood does not cover our sin, but takes it away: For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:14

And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Hebrews 9:22

The story of our redemption is written in blood. As the author of Hebrews says, there is no redemption without the shedding of blood, and it has always been the blood of an innocent – pointing prophetically to the blood of Christ. There is nothing the devil fears more than the blood of Christ, the Son of God, because it sealed his defeat. He thought by killing Jesus he would be rid of Him, but it was a trap that he walked into to his own peril.

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 1 Corinthians 2:7-8

The most effective weapon that the devil uses against Christians, is their ignorance. One way he enforces his power over believers is to keep the pulpits silent on the blood of Christ. When last have you heard a sermon on the blood of Christ? Or a worship song that extols the magnificence of His blood? The devil is not concerned with Christians that rest their faith on faithful church attendance or selfless service, as long as he can keep them from building their lives on the very foundation of their salvation – the blood of Christ that purchased their redemption.

The price that Jesus paid on the cross is a truth that should never slip our minds. Worldly success, material wealth, happiness that is based on temporary circumstances, and such things should never overshadow the tremendous power that set us free and keeps us free. The Bible has good advice for a life of blessing in all areas of our lives, but if it becomes separated from the foundational truths of our salvation, it becomes a threat to our eternal future in the Lord.

And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 1 Peter 1:17-19

The mention of the blood of Christ by a Christian who knows and believes the truth sends demons scurrying in stark fear. They cannot stand the sound of it as it reminds them of a day when they thought they gained the victory over God, only to find out they were miserably defeated. The blood of Jesus always has the last word in any confrontation with evil spirits; they have no choice but to leave when the blood of Jesus is invoked.

We celebrate communion as often as we can because it reminds us of the foundation of our salvation. However, when communion has become a dead ritual, it loses its impact on the hearts and minds of believers. Breaking bread is one of the most important meetings of a church for this very reason.

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matthew 26:26-28

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! No wonder Paul declared, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)

WordWise News

Glory be to God! My name is Pastor Ambrose Ogbuagu. I was privileged to come in contact with WordWise Word School in Benin City when I first received a call from the Lord in 2015. I joined other students from around the world then as a student of WordWise. God helped me and I graduated as one of the best students of the year.

In 2016 I started New life in Christ Ministry in Edo State. Since then God has been faithful to me in the ministry. Our ministry is about teaching, training, and evangelism. Presently we are located at Abuja, the capital of Nigeria as pastor of New Life Fabulous Christian Ministries.

Kindle books are a great blessing to all who love to read because of their very low price. Everyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer can read a book published in Kindle. The app that you need to read a Kindle book can be downloaded at no cost where you purchase the book. For this reason we decided to publish our materials on Kindle.

The Bible teaches that we become new creations in Christ Jesus when we are born again. (2 Corinthians 5:17) However, most Christians still live like they did before they met the Lord: they have the same struggles and do the same sins; the only difference is that they attend church. This is not what Jesus died for!

As a new creation you received a new identity in Christ, and everything about you changed. Who are you now that you surrendered your life to Him? Find out in this book of 45 pages for only $2:95 Designed for personal study or small group discussion.

Available here

Your Personal Value

We constantly think about value, whether we are shopping, assessing a cause, weighing options, considering a friendship, or even contemplating our own worth. An inferiority complex is near fatal to your life’s destiny, and is very common, even among Christians.

What is value? It depends on who you ask! It is said that one man’s trash is another’s treasure – a true statement, especially when it comes to spiritual matters. Outward appearance can be very deceptive, which is why you don’t judge a book by its cover. What you see is not necessarily what you get.

History is replete with examples of people that would never win a contest, yet were handpicked by God to do great exploits for Him. There is a stark difference between the value that God places on a person, and the opinions of those around you.

Moses killed a man, but God used him to write the law for the Jewish nation. Gideon was a coward, yet God used him to free Israel from the oppression of the Midianites. David was a murderer and adulterer, but God called him a man after His own heart. Rahab was a Canaanite prostitute, but her name found a place in Jesus’ genealogy. Paul brutally persecuted the church, but God called him to write two-thirds of the New Testament. A highly trained Pharisee, he was sent to take the gospel to Gentiles, while Peter, an uneducated fisherman, known for speaking before he thought things through, became the apostle to the Jews. God’s value system makes no sense to the natural mind.

He calls light to shine from darkness, and then destroys darkness with it – 2 Corinthians 4:6

He hides His treasures in earthen vessels – 2 Corinthians 4:7
He uses the foolish of this world to put to shame the wise – 1 Corinthians 1:27-28

Judas valued Jesus at thirty pieces of silver, but God highly exalted Him, and gave Him a name that is above all names, and a seat above all power and principality, so that every knee will bow before Him, and every tongue confess that He is Lord.

What is your personal value? One of the most foolish things you can do as a Christian is to allow other people to determine your worth. The true value of an item is what you are willing to pay for it, and that makes you priceless, for you were bought with the blood of the Son of God Himself.

…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 1 Peter 1:18,19

God paid that high price for you in spite of your perceived shortcomings; He thought of you highly enough to give His best so that He could call you His own. You are His workmanship, (Ephesians 2:10) and we know He did not make any failures; you are exactly what He wanted you to be. Moreover, He adopted you as His own child “according to the good pleasure of His will.” (Ephesians 1:5)

Because you were bought at a high price, God will take care of you, just as we take good care of our valuables. A low self-worth is the seedbed of worry and anxiety, but an understanding of your true value breeds hope and confidence.

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26

Shortcomings only become apparent when you compare yourself to others, but what you might see as a deficiency, is, in actual fact, your uniqueness – it is what sets you apart from everybody else. The more unique an item is, the higher its value. Stamps, coins and banknotes with flaws are worth much more than their face value, including those that are perfect. This is how you should look at yourself – you are the way you are because you were handcrafted for a specific purpose.

Instead of hiding in inferiority, develop the gift that is dormant inside of you. Rather than bemoaning your flaws, sharpen the edge that you have been given. Nobody listens when everybody sounds the same; you are different because God wants you to be heard. Originals are always more pricey than copies. Speak, write, create – be yourself with a boldness that comes from the freedom of knowing your true value in the eyes of God, and who you are in Christ.

The world is working hard to make everybody equal under the guise of tolerance, but individuality is not a threat to anyone. There is great danger though in controlling the thoughts of people, because you don’t know who is behind it. Authenticity provides the necessary checks and balances that keep society safe. Christianity is the only force for freedom in the world, empowered by men and women who understand who they are in Christ, and who appreciate what has been given to them by God. You are a greater threat to the devil than you think, and that makes you valuable in the Kingdom of God.

May the value that God places on you be your motivation to rise up to out to become all that He made you to be!

Are you a graduate of WordWise Word School? Tell us about your ministry! We are spread around the world in so many nations, but we can be a blessing and motivation to one another when we share what the Lord is doing in and through us.

Introducing Ophelia Panopio – WordWise graduate of the Class of 1998

It’s a great privilege to share with those of you who are connected with WordWise Network how I started my ministry here in Brussels. After acquiring knowledge and wisdom from WordWise Word School in 1998, where I was one of the first students under the untiring efforts of Pastor Johan & his lovely wife Gerda, I was challenged by my local pastor to start a teaching ministry among my fellow Filipinos of 11 people at Praise Center, my mother church.

By the grace of God, I was able to lead this small group by what I have learned from WordWise. Twice a month I preached according to the pattern that I have learned from WordWise School. This went on for almost 3 years. Then I started to ask the Lord why He called me to the ministry there even though I had no legal papers. I fasted and prayed so many times for it because I felt guilty as I preached the Word of God, thinking I am not a good teacher/preacher if I don’t submit to the authorities, as we are told to do in the book of Romans.

At that time I chose to go back to my country with the prayers of my pastor that I would come back to Brussels legally, with my husband and two youngest sons. Nine months after I left, my pastor sent me the legal papers that were required, with 4 airplane tickets. It stirred my faith, so we rejoiced with great hope and blessing because God’s will was done. I enrolled with my husband in Logos Bible School while still leading a Bible Study group, preaching, and leading a prayer meetings, as well as house-to-house evangelism with the help of some missionaries from the US.

It took 3 years for us to graduate, and after much prayer and motivation, my husband was ordained as the pastor of the Filipino congregation, and myself as an evangelist. After a few months, we opened a Bible Study group in Hagen (Germany) which has now grown into a church. It now also has a daughter church in Siegen, already five years old at this time.

We visit my hometown in the Philippines every two years to do house-to-house evangelism, and a church has also been planted there. We also work with other ministries there to do Bible Studies and an outreach into the local prison. Another church was added, and we support their prison ministry – the only church that is authorized by the government to work inside the prison. We minister salvation to the prisoners, including rehabilitation for drug addicts in coordination with the City.

Glory to God for more souls that are added every 2 weeks! Even though we are not there physically, we oversee the church through the pastors there.

All of this is possible because of the Word of God in Matthew 28:19,20 – the Great Commission! We are doing what WordWise is doing in line of teaching, training, and seminars to poor churches in some parts of the Philippines. We now go home once or twice a year to equip God’s servants who were not able to go to well-known Bible Schools, yet they pastor their churches because their heart’s desire is to stand in the fulness of their calling.

We realize that to have a kingdom mindset we ought to help people outside of our own church affiliation, and we can serve each other by encouraging those that we have taught through the internet, whether they are pastors or lay leaders. We see some quick conversions when they apply what we shared with them. Praise the Lord, they are growing in faith and in numbers, which is a reward on our efforts, love and faith.

To all of Wordwise Network, we covet your prayers for us to continue what God has started in us until Jesus comes back with His reward. Hallelujah! We expect greater things to come because we do what we have learned from our beloved school “WordWise” in the persons of Pastor Johan & Sister Gerda du Toit.

The Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood, misrepresented and under-appreciated person in modern theology. Fake news abounds when it comes to the Holy Spirit and His work, and the church is weaker and poorer for it. A sober look at what the Bible has to say about Him will introduce you to a living, caring, truth-revealing and omnipotent Person who has been assigned to be our companion, helper, comforter and guide in a world that is hopelessly lost and confused. He has all the answers that you need and all the power to destroy the works of the devil, and He wants to live in you. God is the Father above us; Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, and the Holy Spirit is God in us. You need to know Him.

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You have influence!

Andrew Murray, in his book, The Key to the Missionary Problem, said that every church, no matter how small, can have an international influence through missions. This truth has increased in value since it was written over a hundred years ago, because possibilities have increased. We can now update his statement to read, “every Christian who has a smartphone, tablet, or computer, can impact the world by viewing the internet as a church or a mission field.”

It may not have occurred to you right away, but in the picture above you are looking at a pulpit that is infinitely more powerful than any that you have seen anywhere else. Your computer or smartphone keyboard has the potential to address an audience much larger than you can imagine. From this pulpit you can reach into communities where the gospel has never been heard, where no preacher, church or Bible exists – without going there in person. No building is required, no trained or ordained preacher, no missionary support, and no overhead costs that restrict the message from going out.

The internet is where people are – where they socialize, look for entertainment, share stories, communicate, ask for prayer, and look for friendship. Many look for answers to their questions that they often too embarrassed to ask a person that they know. The anonymity of the internet affords them the boldness to talk about things that they normally wouldn’t.

We are living at a time when it has never been easier to take the gospel around the globe – without leaving the comfort of your own home. Technology certainly contributed its share to the ills of our world, but there is a good side to it that shouldn’t be ignored. Consider the words of the apostle Paul:

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36

That includes the internet! It is no coincidence that a wide open door was given to us to preach the gospel just as the world system is grinding toward a painful end, and God’s judgment is looming over the earth. Imagine what the apostles would do with such an instrument!

Gone are the days when one could raise excuses such as “I am not trained;” “I don’t know what to do;” “I cannot speak;” “I don’t know the Bible well enough,” etc. If you have a testimony, you have something that someone else might be looking for. A Bible verse that speaks to you, will speak to others too. Repost someone else’s posting if you have nothing to say, but reach out.

The world is waiting on you!

Our Beautiful Scriptures

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
Romans 11:33

Augustine (354 – 430) made a statement that rings ever true, especially in our day of superficial insight in the Scriptures. “The Old (Testament) is in the New (Testament) revealed; the New is in the Old concealed.” Only a heart steeped in the Word can come up with such a powerful discovery!

The apostle Paul wrote about this intricate weaving together of the Old and New Testaments, and called them shadows and types.

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Colossians 2:16,17

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. Romans 5:14

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. Hebrews 10:1

The Old Testament is filled with hints of what was to come in the New Testament, written by a diverse group of men over hundreds of years and who had no idea that they were recording future events in advance. Not only does it prove that Scripture was dictated by Someone outside of time who saw it all playing out before Him from beginning to end, it also proves that the Bible, as we have it today, is complete as one integrated message.

With all the types, shadows and symbols in the Old Testament that point to New Testament truths, we have an unfailing set of checks and balances that guarantees the infallibility of God’s plan for our salvation and reconciliation with Him.

God, who foresaw man’s weakness and failure to obey His simplest command, finalized His plan for our redemption even before the fall, and hid it in His dealings with them. They were rehearsals of His grand scene to be revealed centuries down the road. The shadows are gems to be discovered by diligent students of the Scriptures, those who are driven by an appetite for the meat of the Word.

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-12

As Paul says in Colossians 2:16-17, quoted earlier, the substance of shadows, types and symbols is Christ. It is all about Him – His birth, death on the cross, resurrection, High Priestly ministry, and return as King of Glory.

And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. Colossians 1:17,18

He is the head of the body, the church. As far as He is concerned, it was always about the church, His beloved bride. As the Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45) He did what first Adam failed to do: when first Adam realized that his bride was going to die because she ate of the forbidden fruit, he chose to die with her and ate of the fruit also. While it seems very romantic, he considered only the moment without thinking of the consequences of his disobedience. His love for his bride was greater than his love for God. Jesus, the Last Adam, saw His bride, spiritually dead in her sin and trespasses, and decided to die in her place so that she may live.

Just as first Adam was asleep when God took his bride from his side, (Genesis 2:21-23) Jesus was “asleep” on the cross when a Roman soldier pierced His side. Water and blood gushed from that open wound – the blood that purchased His bride, the church. First Adam looked at his bride and said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh…” Paul, writing about the relationship between Christ and the church, and comparing it to the relationship between a husband and wife, looks back to the birth of the first bride, and saw the fulfilment of that shadow in Christ:

For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. Ephesians 5:29,30

When God put Adam to sleep to take his bride from his side, He looked down the ages to the day when His own Son would have His side pierced by a Roman spear to give birth to His bride. When Adam saw Eve for the first time she must have been the most beautiful of all of God’s creation, but most of all, he realized that she was born from him, of his very own kind, and therefore one with him.

Where was Eve before she was shown to Adam? She was in him, although hidden. Wonderful as that thought is, the substance is more glorious:

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

We are bone of His bones, and flesh of his flesh! How do you see yourself? A sinner? Did Christ die in vain? Wasn’t He able to raise you to newness of life, from death in your sin to be His bride, the object of His longing?

Jesus, witnessing the birth of Eve, fully knew what it meant for Him. He saw the cruelty and horror of the cross, the pain inflicted on His body and the weight of the sin of the world pressing down on His shoulders, yet He went to the cross voluntary because His love for the church was greater than His own integrity, comfort and safety.

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 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, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

Jesus could face the cross because He looked past its pain, and fixed His eyes fixed on His bride, who was about to be taken from His side:

…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

The joy that was set before Him was His bride, the church!

Having paid so high a price for us, we can never doubt His love is love for us. Let us now look at ourselves as His bride, made worthy even though we were born in sin to be sinners. Let us also look at Him, our Saviour, as David looked at the Lord after he was rescued from hopelessness:

Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. Psalm 34:3-5

Prayers with Answers

It seems God is limited by our prayers – that He can do nothing for humanity unless someone asks Him. God does nothing but in answer to prayer; and even those who have been converted to God without praying for it themselves, (which is exceeding rare) were not without the prayers of others. Every new victory which a soul gains is the effect of a new prayer. ~John Wesley

We have a standing invitation to enter the Throne Room, and to do so boldly. Seated at the right hand of God is our Intercessor and High Priest, one who has sympathy with us as He endured the same temptations as we do, yet without sin. Not only that, He also shed His own blood to open the door to the Father’s heart so that we can enter with confidence.

The apostle Paul says that we are ambassadors, representing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Ambassadors are in constant communication with their home office to bring matters of concern before the King and to receive instructions from Him. That is the work of prayer for the Christian.

Ambassadors concern themselves with their assignment for their personal needs are taken care of by their government. An ambassador cannot be effective if he is burdened with his own needs and safety, which is also what Jesus taught us:

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:33,34

Some find this a hard concept, but it will not be so if there is an understanding of the Father heart of God. He adopted us as His children, and with that comes the responsibility of care and provision. He is a good Father who loves to give good gifts to His children, and, as Paul explained, why will He not with Jesus give us all things. God loves His children!

God gave us prayer for a reason; Jesus encouraged us to pray, and so did Paul and the other apostles. Jesus spent much time in prayer Himself, even though He was the Son of God. Our prayers invite the God of the universe to intervene in the circumstances that we face on earth. His Word teaches us what to pray for, and how to pray. Our prayers establish a connection between heaven and earth through which the Lord can manifest His will.

Accept His invitation; He is waiting on you!

Protocol of Prayer looks into different important aspects of prayer that are not usually discussed. Read it on your smartphone, tablet or computer at the low price of CAN$3.97 made available by Kindle. Click here to purchase with free software

Who do you see?

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:26,2

By saying it three times in two verses, God wanted us to understand that He made man in His image. “Let us make man in Our image;” “So God created man in His own image;” “in the image of God He created Him, “male and female He created them”. After the first man and woman were created, they could boldly say, “I am holy and righteous for I have been created in God’s image.” “I look like God because He created me in His image.”

Prior to their disobedience and fall from God’s presence, the first two humans were sinless and perfect. They had free access to God with nothing in between that hindered them from fellowship with Him. God actually came down looking for them in the garden. They were the only creatures on earth that He could fellowship with, and it seems that He desired to spend some time with them. All through Scripture we see God longing to be with His people, desiring their companionship. As Creator, He must have found the same kind of satisfaction in these two people as a painter who proudly put his signature on a work of art, so that everybody who saw it, might know it. The signature on a work of art identifies it with its creator.

At some stage however, Satan, a fallen being banned from heaven, approached Eve and deceived her to disobey God’s instruction to them, and she ate from the forbidden tree. Adam, knowing the consequences of her disobedience, refused to let her die alone, and ate from it also, triggering a spiritual law that caused his entire posterity to be infected with the spiritual death that he brought upon himself.

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? Romans 6:16

Spiritual death, the very nature that we were born with, became man’s greatest need. It changed Adam’s likeness to God into the likeness of the fallen angel that deceived him, and he became a fallen man himself. The same lot that befell Lucifer, fell on Adam, and he became separated from God – a major defeat for man, and the ultimate disappointment for God.

If God turned His back on man at that time there would be no hope for him, with torment his only prospect in an eternity without God. It would also mean a decisive victory for Satan over God. Thank God, His grace is sufficient for us, and His love endures forever! His love is greater than the power of the devil’s deceptions and His wisdom far beyond the craftiness of Satan.

Fast forward to the New Testament. God, in His great love for man, executed His master plan of redemption to bring us back into fellowship with Him. His image, imprinted on man in creation, but scarred by the devil’s craftiness, is brought back to its former glory. He did not just paint over the scars to hide them from view, no, He painted a brand new picture!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

We no longer identify ourselves with the fallen angel, the deceiver, accuser of the brethren, Satan, Lucifer. It would mean a failure of the work of Jesus on the cross if there was but a trace left of Satan’s destruction on the redeemed. Jesus did so much more than just cleaning us from our sins; He was judged for it on our behalf, and received the prescribed death penalty for it.

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Colossians 2:13,14

There is nothing that we can add to that; Jesus did what had to be done. We are new creations in Him, and righteousness has been restored to us who put our trust in Him.

It must be noted though that God is Spirit (John 4:24), and Adam and Eve were spirit-beings when they were made in His image. Their bodies did not look like God because He doesn’t have a body of flesh. They existed in Him before they received their bodies in Genesis chapter 2; they were hidden in Him, just as we are now hidden in Him:

For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3

This truth gave Paul, understanding of the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross, to boldly confess:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Your new identity is not found in your ancestors, but is spiritual; your body is not the real you, but merely the tent in which you live as an earth dweller. Identity with your outward appearance is fatal for a Christian; it is like a dual personality disorder when you identify with death and life at the same time. It also opens the door to the many social ills that plague those in the world without Christ. Spiritually there are only two races: those that were naturally born once, or those that were born twice through the new birth – you are either a descendant of the first Adam or the Last Adam.

Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him… Colossians 3:9,10

Who do you see? Are you a sinner or a saint? Are you spiritually dead or alive? What can you do, and where are you heading? What is the purpose of your life? Whose image do you bear? If you don’t know who you are in Christ, your uninformed mind will default to what it knows, and continues to project you as a sinner, as many Christians do.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Discover your true identity as a new creation as you see yourself in the mirror of the Word, and be transformed into the image of God in Christ Jesus, then render yourself to Him as you discover who you are in the Word!

Discover your true identity as a new creation as you see yourself in the mirror of the Word, and be transformed into the image of God in Christ Jesus, then render yourself to Him as you discover who you are in the Word!

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Jesus is Coming Back to Reign!

The Bible details the history of God’s dealing with man since the time of creation right up to the new earth and heaven. When we consider our present place in the history of the world, it is clear that we have reached a point where some kind of reset will have to happen.

We are currently experiencing an unsustainable increase in pressure in every aspect of life on earth. Christians endure the worst persecution the world has ever seen, soon to come to nations in the West where we actually enjoyed protection from our governments up to now. The main stream media is silent on these issues, but entire churches are often wiped out in some countries. It seems we have reached a point of no return.

While history tells us that “resets” have happened many times in different ways in the past, we are now dealing with problems on a global scale for the first time. It is easy to get distracted by the developments that we see around us, but when we look at the bigger picture, we can clearly see that everything runs exactly as the Bible foretold.

What can we expect? As tensions escalate, we will enter – maybe sooner than later – what the Bible calls the Tribulation. It will be a time of hardship on every side for those on earth, and the anti-Christ will make his appearance to bring the world under his control in a global government. Everything is already pointing in that direction. The tribulation will last for seven years, ending with a war on Israel. Already we see the hatred for Israel mounting; anti-Semitism is on the rise, even in nations that vowed never to allow it to happen again after the holocaust saw the destruction of 6 million Jews.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:29-31

Immediately after the tribulation… – we know when Jesus will appear to set up His kingdom on earth, in contrast to the rapture that will happen at a time that He is not expected. The second coming of the Lord is also known as His glorious appearance. This is how it will happen:

Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, for the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with You. It shall come to pass in that day that there will be no light; the lights will diminish. It shall be one day which is known to the Lord– neither day nor night. But at evening time it shall happen that it will be light. And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur. And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be– “The Lord is one,” and His name one. Zechariah 14:1-9

The passage above is, as we can see, written for the Jews, and corresponds with the words of Jesus in Matthew 24. That will be the most dangerous time ever for the Jewish people; while a third of the Jewish population was destroyed during the holocaust, in that final war two-thirds will be killed:

And it shall come to pass in all the land,” says the Lord, “that two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’ ” Zechariah 13:8,9

A remnant will flee to the mountains, just as Jesus said in Matthew 24, where they will come to realize that Jesus is their Messiah.

“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. Zechariah 12:10,11

This is the time that Jesus will come from heaven, with His saints, which means they will be with Him in heaven from where He will come:

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. 1 Thessalonians 3:12,13

Jesus comes back to reign for a thousand years, and His saints with Him. There will still be sinners on earth during that time, but they will have to submit to His rule. This will be a time like no other, as those who surrendered to Him and died to themselves, will rule with Jesus as new creation beings. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Their mortal bodies will have been exchanged to be like His:

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall 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 incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:2,3

Things will be very different then as all authority on the earth will be in His hands alone. The future is bright for those who believe!

Then the seventh angel sounded: and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” Revelation 11:15

This world is not our home; instead of looking around, let us look up!

The Coming of the Lord

While most Christians believe the that Lord will return, the debate of how and when it will happen is not settled. Views vary, each with their own Scriptural interpretation. The Bible does not give us a clear outline in a single passage to explain this event, or events, as it appears to be, so we have to look wide and deep to gain some understanding. For this reason I approach the subject of this circular very cautiously, fully aware that other views exist, as I certainly do not want to alienate good friends because we have different opinions.

As we consider the coming of the Lord, two separate events come into view, as the verses below indicate:

Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:17

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. 1 Thessalonians 3:12,13

Two different events: being caught up to meet Jesus in the air to be with Him always, and Jesus coming down to earth with all His saints.

The first event is known as the rapture, an event that can happen at any moment; it is imminent, and without prior warning signs. The second event is when Jesus comes back to set up His millennial reign on the earth at the conclusion of the seven year tribulation period that ends with the battle of Armageddon: two events that must take place before Jesus comes back to earth, also known at His glorious appearance. Since the tribulation period must first come to an end, and the Battle of Armageddon must commence, it is therefore not imminent – the timing can actually be determined, based on the fulfilment of these two preconditions.

In this letter we will focus on the rapture, and on the Lord’s glorious appearance in the next one. Please review newsletter #9 on The Lord’s Imminent return. Differences exist on exactly when the church will be raptured as the Bible does not say it in so many words. The popular views are pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation and post-tribulation. All opinions are conjecture, although we can form a view by looking closely at passages of Scripture where this event is addressed.

Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (quoted above) makes it very clear that there will be a meeting with the Lord in the air. That implies a rapture. He alludes to the same concept in his second letter to the same church:

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 2 Thessalonians 2:1,2

“Our gathering together to Him…” This leaves the impression that there will be a gathering to Him, as opposed to Him coming to be with us here on earth.

Jesus told the parable of the ten virgins, discussed in our previous circular, to explain His coming for His bride. Ten girls were waiting on the groom to make his appearance. They did not know when he would come, except that he would come for his bride to take her home with him. In Jewish weddings of the time the groom would go to build a house for his bride after their engagement, and come back to fetch her once he finished his work. When the ten virgins least expected him, at midnight, a call announced his arrival. (Matthew 25:1-13) Read the passage below with this context in mind:

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:1-3

There is a belief that we will spend eternity in heaven, but that is not what the Bible teaches; we will come back with Jesus to rule with Him when He comes to set up His millennial reign on earth.

And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, for the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with You. Zechariah 14:4,5

“And all the saints with you…” For the saints to come with Him, they first have to be with Him in heaven from where He will come. This lines up with Paul’s view expressed in 1 Thessalonians 3:12,13 quoted earlier.

All major events concerning Christ were foreshadowed by events in the Old Testament, or, as Paul called them, types, symbols and shadows. (See Galatians 4:23-26; Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 10:1) A strong pattern emerges when we look at events where God visited wickedness on earth with destruction, such as:

God removed Noah, a righteous man and his family, before He destroyed the world through the flood. (Genesis 7)
God removed the righteous Lot and his family before He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire. (Genesis 19)
God also removed Rahab and her household, because she hid the two men when they spied the land, before He destroyed Jericho. (Joshua 6:17)

If God follows this pattern, we can expect Him to remove the righteous to spare them the destructions of the seven year tribulation. We do not know the date of such an event, but we do see the signs that point to a period of a tribulation coming on the earth. Various prophecies are being fulfilled before our eyes.

It is obvious that the world has entered into a time when pressure is mounting on so many aspects of life here. Pollution of land, sea and air is out of control. Mass immigration into stable, prosperous countries causes the destruction of safeguarding values by incompatible cultures. Looming trade wars threaten to disrupt economic stability worldwide. Wars and rumours of wars fill our daily news. Instability of weather poses a real threat to the global food supply, coinciding with an explosion in population growth. The world has become an angry place with uprisings, some very violent, in different countries. The list goes on and on.

The Lord speaks to His own through ancient Scriptures that alert us to changes that are coming. Prophecy is not to scare, but to prepare us. Let us heed His voice and be ready for His appearance!

Also read about the imminence of the Lord’s return here

We at WordWise set our hearts on studying God’s Word in depth because it prepares us for a life of purpose and fruitfulness. The study notes that we provide only open the door to important knowledge, but students make their own discoveries by doing their homework through personal Bible study. This is best done by digging deep into their own Bible. We love to see what they discovered – not some other person who put their thoughts into words somewhere else.

When homework is copied from someone else’s work, you rob yourself from revelation knowledge that the Holy Spirit wants to impart to you. It is also plagiarism, and we recognize it when we see it. We want to see you finish our courses with an arsenal of truth that brings freedom to the oppressed and inflicts defeat on the enemy. It is hard work, but the fruit is glorious. God bless you as you study His Word!

The Imminence of the Lord’s Return

More and more Christians begin to talk about the last days, prophecies about to be fulfilled, the rapture, the tribulation, and the Lord’s glorious return. Questions abound, various points of view are put forward, yet uncertainty remains. The various versions of how the last days will unfold are all supported by good arguments, making it hard to understand the events that are about to take place.

The topic of the last days is very relevant today as we approach the time about which the Bible has so much to say. Most teachers and students of the Bible agree that we have arrived at the end of the church era, or as the Bible calls it, the times of the Gentiles.

Although I have always been an ardent student of the Bible, I do not consider myself to be a scholar. My approach has always been, as some early church father said, “When the plain sense makes good sense, seek no other sense lest you end up with nonsense.”

A good place to start a study on the end times is the understanding of imminence – the Bible’s teachings on the Lord’s imminent return. This aspect of the last days is found in various places in the Bible, and understanding it will help us to place events in a more or less chronological order.

Before we will attempt to unravel the events of the last days, we need to first establish the understanding of the Lord’s imminent return, for it will help us to clarify if there will be a rapture of the church, (and if so, when) or if we should prepare to go through the tribulation period of seven years, ending with the Lord’s glorious return to establish His kingdom and reign of 1000 years.

Under the doctrine of imminence we understand that the Lord can return at any moment, without any precondition or signs to be fulfilled for it to happen. We will look at various passages of Scripture to establish this understanding, based on the principle of “on the testimony of two or three witnesses it will be established.” (Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16)

Imminence means ready to take place; something that can happen at any time or unexpected. Of course we do expect the Lord to return, but we don’t know when exactly.

In our study of the end times we must make a distinction between prophetic words spoken to the Jews and those spoken to the church. In fact, three people groups will experience the Lord’s return differently, namely the born again, the Jews, and sinners. God has different dealings with these groups, therefore they will experience the events of the last days differently. Also, we will make a distinction between the rapture and the second coming of the Lord, as these are two separate events. We know His second coming will happen after the tribulation and the battle of Armageddon; we can actually calculate that day based on a prophecy in the book of Daniel. More about this day in a future letter.

We begin with the words spoken by the Lord Himself, sometimes in parables, other times more direct. One of the great passages concerning His imminent return is the parable of the ten virgins. Five of them were wise and had their lamps filled with oil, the other five were foolish and had no oil in their lamps as they were all waiting on the bridegroom’s arrival. They were all sleeping, which is a type of the church of today. They did not know when the bridegroom would come as there would be no warning or announcement before he made his appearance. Suddenly, at midnight, when they least expected him, he came; five virgins were ready to meet him, five were not.

The parable of the ten virgins was told against the backdrop of a Jewish wedding of the time. After the bride engaged herself to be married to the groom, he went away to his father’s house to prepare living quarters for him and his bride. Once he finished his work he would go back to fetch her, but she never knew exactly when; they did not have the communication possibilities that we have today, so she had to be ready at all times.

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. Matthew 25:1-13

The theme of the parable is expecting the Lord’s return at any moment without a warning.

While talking with His disciples about the last days, Jesus openly mentioned the imminence of His coming:

Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:42-44

The apostle Paul also wrote about the imminence of the Lord’s return:

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:1,2

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4

We recognize the season of the last days by the converging of the signs that the Bible mentions in this regard, many of which are happening in our time. We know we are entering into that season, but we don’t know the day of the Lord’s return. Even though we find ourselves in the season of His coming, it will still happen like a thief in the night. The signs were given to us as a warning to be ready so that this day will not overtake us as a thief.

Look at the impact of His imminent return on the life of the believer in the letter of John:

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:2,3

The imminent return of the Lord motivates us to be ready to meet with Him at any moment. If we know we will go through the seven years of tribulation, we might put off holy living until we see the Lord descending on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:1-11) to set up His kingdom on earth at the end thereof. That is clearly not what the apostle John had in mind when he wrote the verses above.

Next time we will look into the two separate events of the Lord’s return: the meeting with the Lord in the air, and His return to set up His kingdom on earth.

Whether you agree with my view on this event or not, it can never be wrong to live as if Christ will come to take His bride home with Him at any moment. Let us therefore purify ourselves. We see the signs that point to the end of this era all around us; don’t let that day overtake you like a thief in the night!

Read also the first installment of this series here