Jesus Freed You From Sin!

Written by Guest Writer Matthew Guillot

So today I realized what an integral part fear plays in temptation. The enemy will tempt you but couple that temptation with the fear of falling into the temptation, and the fear of losing control. The enemy will do whatever he can to convince you that you are incapable of controlling yourself, and once you believe that lie, he has got you right where he wants you. The enemy can continue to bombard you with tempting thoughts and emotions, and because you are convinced you don’t have control over yourself, you are much more pliable to these temptations and to give up because you have lost hope of resisting the devil (fear of the devil, or his ability). Additional thoughts of how “powerful” the enemy is (sometimes intimidation) may also be the focus of his bombardment. This is to prop himself up in your mind to also lead to fear of the enemy, and hopelessness to resist. So ultimately the goal of the enemy is to get you to forget who you are and how much self-control you truly have, and to get you to a place of hopelessness and fear.

If you give into the temptation and sin, then the enemy can accuse you of the sin, making you feel guilty and ashamed. The enemy then starts working on convincing you that you need to keep your distance from God, because God is either upset with you or you haven’t repented enough and need to jump through hoops before God accepts your repentance. The enemy will suggest by thought, hoops from the bible that Jesus said is impossible to do without Him. And because you have convinced yourself to distance yourself from God, you are hopelessly left to your own ability to try to jump through these hoops. The enemy knows this will ultimately lead to you being discouraged more. Another tactic the enemy uses if he can’t get you to try to distance yourself from God, is getting you to focus on yourself. The enemy often uses the tactic of convincing you, that you need to always be introspective and on your guard all the time. If the enemy can get you to try to defend yourself by your own effort, then he knows that eventually (most of the time very soon), he will be able to tempt you again and take you down the all too familiar path to sin. Only Christians who are afraid of the enemy’s temptation or the enemy, find it necessary to always be on their guard. Our protection is our faith in God, not our own ability to guard ourself. (Ephesians 6:16)

If the enemy is able to convince us that we have no ability to control ourselves or resist temptation, or resist him, we fall into guilt, shame, hopelessness and fear; and go down the repetitive cycle of being tempted into sin. And because our own ability to resist doesn’t cut it, the enemy is able to eventually get many people into depression, and even feelings of rejection, loneliness, or neglect from God. The enemy’s goal is either to get us into deeper and deeper depression to commit suicide, or, if he can’t get us to kill ourselves, keep us in a place where we unwittingly choose to keep parts of our hearts from God because of our perceived uncleanliness from our sin (shame) and/or the fear of coming before God.

Romans 6:17-23(NASB)

“17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Notice the contrast Paul uses and the past tense verbs used to describe our past condition in sin and present tense verbs for our current freedom from sin (exception “became” describing something Jesus already did to free us).

What we need to realize is that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for all of our sin once for all. He died on the cross with all of our sin in mind, and nailed all of it to the cross. The Bible says in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Notice that Jesus does the cleansing, not us. It also says Jesus is completely faithful and righteous to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness, not just some of it and and leave us to deal with the rest; ALL! The Bible also states in past tense that Jesus’ death on the cross freed us from slavery to sin.  However, God will not violate your free-will if you choose to put up a wall to keep yourself from God (even just parts of your heart from God), because of your perceived “unrighteousness”. The enemy knows this, and this is why he works hard at this strategy to convince you that you can’t approach God and that you shouldn’t, that you are now unrighteous before God. The enemy’s goal is always to get us to forget the cross, and to not focus on Jesus. The enemy knows that as soon as you let God into the picture, he is toast. This is why the Bible says to first “submit to God” then if you “resist the devil…He will flee.” (James 4:7) Not the other way around.

We are no longer slaves to sin. But Jesus never intended for us to live out this reality by our own ability. Jesus went to the Father to send us a Helper, the Holy Spirit!!! (John 14:26) The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is the one who leads us into ALL truth (John 16:13), brings into remembrance everything that God has said and is saying (John 14:26), instruct us in the way we should go (John 16:13, Acts 16:6-10), and give us His (God’s) character and attributes (fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-24). In other words He (God/Holy Spirit) empowers us to live a righteous lifestyle. Jesus said “I am the vine, you are the branches…apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:3-5) You have the ability inside of you to resist the devil every single time successfully and confidently. But it is not your own ability but the Holy Spirit inside you. What is happening when you are operating under the Holy Spirit’s ability (His fruit)? God is letting you operate in character and traits that are not your own, and with the outpouring of His Spirit inside of you they manifest as if they were your own attributes.

It is extremely beneficial over the long-term if we can learn how to operate with His fruit regularly, allowing Him to completely empower us. As we do this our thought patterns completely change because we come to the realization after multiple times that we actually can be free from sin. Once we are convinced of this, our true nature, free from sin can finally come out, without our minds being in conflict with the reality and truth of our freedom. The Bible tells us that Jesus already freed us, but this freedom won’t manifest in our lives until we truly are able to believe it. Unfortunately our carefully enemy-orchestrated experiences tend to tell us otherwise, and it is easy to be convinced that we aren’t really free. The enemy keeps us in his cycle of thought patterns, fear, hopelessness, guilt, and shame to try to ensure that we will never have the perception of ourselves that God has (the righteousness of Christ, perfect, spotless, and without blemish), so that we will never realize the freedom Jesus paid such a heavy price for. This is not to say that we will never sin, but that sin is no longer our compulsion and is supposed to be rare, abnormal, and awkward for us.

If you are saved and still feel like you have the compulsion to sin (sin nature), it is most likely because you are believing a lie about yourself, about your relation to God, or other people. Sin can seem like a viable coping mechanism to those with wounds and pain from past or present offenses. Believed lies from the enemy are always the root of what perpetuates wounds and pain, which is the cause of any Christian’s current desire to sin. Ask the Holy Spirit if you are believing a lie, and ask Him to replace this with the truth, depositing His truth deep in your heart.

Don’t let the enemy keep you in bondage and slavery to sin anymore. Jesus already paid for you to be free!

Much Love,

Machew

God is in charge of every situation

“ For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. – Isaiah 55:8

God works in some strange ways sometimes.  At least strange by our standards.  Take for instance God sending Saul to meet Samuel.

Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear the day before Saul came, saying, “Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to Me.”  – 1 Samuel 9:15-16

We see that it is God who sent Saul to Samuel, not an accident or chance, but God who sent him.  How did God send Saul?  Did a light from heaven come forth and a deep voice say “Saul, go meet Samuel in the land of Zuph” or did he find a burning bush that spoke to him?

Often times this is the way we want, or expect, God to speak to us.  We want an angel to appear before us with clear directions or a letter from God to appear in our mailbox.  But that is not how God works.

Let’s look at how God called Saul.

Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. And Kish said to his son Saul, “Please take one of the servants with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.” So he passed through the mountains of Ephraim and through the land of Shalisha, but they did not find them. Then they passed through the land of Shaalim, and they were not there. Then he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they did not find them.
When they had come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, let us return, lest my father cease caring about the donkeys and become worried about us.”
And he said to him, “Look now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honorable man; all that he says surely comes to pass. So let us go there; perhaps he can show us the way that we should go.”  – 1 Samuel 9:3-6

This is how God led Saul to seek after Samuel, by a few donkeys running off and then Saul being told to go find them.

This shows how much different God’s ways are from our own ways, and shows us how God has complete and total control over all of creation.  He will use any means at His disposal to lead us in the direction He wants us to go, even missing donkeys.

How many times have you run into a situation you think is a coincidence, but in reality it is God setting up the circumstances.

A coincidental meeting in Columbia

In 2004 I was on a deployment with the Navy to Columbia.  After being deployed for several weeks I started craving Christian fellowship.  For weeks the only people I spent any time with were other guys in the Navy, which as you can imagine, are not really focused on God.  After such a long time without any Christian fellowship and no way to get that Christian fellowship I prayed for God to send me someone. anyone.

My expectation was that someone in the military, maybe a chaplain or a Bible study leader would find me and just randomly start talking about the Bible with me.  Instead, the next night around midnight I got a craving for pie. So I went to the hotel’s restaurant, sat outside reading the Bible, and ordered some pie.

After the waiter took my order he asked me if I was a Christian because he saw me sitting at the table reading my Bible.  It turns out he was a Christian and had some really cool things to say which to this day I have not forgotten.  I went down there every night after that and had an awesome time of fellowship.  This only came about because of a strange craving at midnight one night.

God is not limited to the supernatural

Many times we only want to see God work in miraculous, supernatural ways.  Then we get disappointed when He decides to work outside of our perception of how he should work.  Or worse, we disbelieve it is God at all.  If we would just take the time to reflect on the events that happen in our lives we would likely find dozens of ways God has worked things out in every day, coincidental ways.

Next time something bad goes on in your life, your car breaks down or you lose something important, remember that God is in control of every little situation instead of getting mad about it.  What happens to us happens for a reason.  We likely will not be crowned king while on our way to the mechanic, or told to go free the slaves of Egypt while searching the couch cushions for the tv remote, but God has a reason for it.

Either there is some sort of divine appointment God has for you (Acts 8:26-40, 1 Samuel 9), or He wants to teach you a lesson such as patience (James 1:2-4).

How has God worked in your life that at first glance appeared to be nothing more than a coincidence?  Leave a comment with your story!

Think like a Calvinist, live like an Arminian

Leonard Ravenhill, one of my favorite pastors, had a saying he would quote often: “think like a Calvinist, live like an Armenian.”

I told this quote to a Calvinist friend of mine the other day who replied saying “If I felt the souls of everyone here was on me I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.”  It took me a few days to digest what exactly he said in relation to the quote, but really it gets to the heart of what Ravenhill meant.

See, Ravenhill was a great man of prayer. He spent countless sleepless nights praying that God would penetrate the lives of the lost and would penetrate the hearts of those already saved (a.k.a. bring Revival).

What is a Calvinist?

A Calvinist believes (for the purposes of this article) that the salvation of men is 100% up to God not decided by what man does at all. This can easily lead to a Calvinist not evangelizing and not spending time bringing the lost before the throne of God in prayer. I know because that is how I felt when I started to believe this. I would neglect praying for the lost and I would neglect witnessing to those who are lost because “it is up to God,” and I would use that to excuse the tough work of evangelism that we are called to.

Living like an Armenian

On the other hand, an Armenian believes that it is man’s decision to follow God or not, so someone who believes this spends a lot of time evangelizing and praying for the lost because the more people who hear the gospel the more people have a chance to choose God.

Obedience

With this in mind think about what Ravenhill said. “Think like a Calvinist, live like an Armenian.”  He is saying that yes, it is completely up to God who accepts and who rejects Christ, but regardless of that knowledge we are to spend our time evangelizing and praying for the lost and doing what we can to get the gospel to the lost.

Why?

Because we are told to.

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “ How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” – Romans 10:14-15

I do not know what part man plays in helping spread the gospel, if it is 100% up to God who receives the gift, then what part could we possibly play in this whole thing? And my answer is, I do not think it matters. It is not our job to understand how God works things out or why He tells us to the things He tells us to do.

Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. – Luke 10:2

You do not need to know the engineering details of how a car works in order to drive. Does your knowledge of how a carburetor works or how a spark plug works enable you to start and drive your car any more efficiently? No. In order to operate a car, you just need to know how to start the car and (safely) maneuver the vehicle.

In the same way we do not need to know how the engine of salvation works or exactly what part our prayer plays in the whole picture. All we need to know is how ot operate it. We only need to know how to follow God’s directions regardless of if we understand everything or not.

I will admit that obedience without fully understanding how it works is hard to do sometimes, but it must be done.

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. – Romans 10:1

I know in my own life I need to pray that God makes this burden real to me despite the knowledge that I have. My friend was right, this should keep us up all night with the souls of so many being lost right around us.  I have to ask myself why this burden does not rip at my conscience more than it does.  I do not have an answer for that, but I do know how to fix it – Prayer.

So yes, think like a Calvinist, but live like an Armenian.

“but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” – Acts 6:4

Avoiding a Lukewarm Life part 2 – The Throne of God

In part 1 we showed how God said to the church of Laodicea that they are neither hot nor cold, they are lukewarm, and as a result he would vomit them out of his mouth. We discussed how God is disgusted by our lives when we choose the garbage of earth over Him. Now let us take time to focus on Heaven, and why it is so much better to follow God.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. – Revelation 3:19-21

God gives us these harsh words not to tear us down, but so we would be convicted and repent. And if we overcome, we will get to sit on the throne of God with God.

The Throne of God

Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne – Revelation 4:2

John gets a glimpse of the throne of God and of God who sits on the throne. I cannot imagine how scared he must have been at the sheer awesome display of the throne room of God! I know Iwould freak out by it. Form a picture in our mind of what this scene must have looked like as we follow the apostle John.

And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. – Revelation 4:3-4

Jasper and sardius are both red gems. John sees a being, God, sitting on the throne and the only way he can describe him is to say he is like gems we have on earth, surrounded by an emerald rainbow. Around the throne there are 24 thrones where the elders sit, clothed in white robes and crowns of gold on their heads.

And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. – Revelation 4:5-6

While these twenty four elders are seated around the throne there is lightning and thunder flashing from the God’s throne. In front of the throne are seven lamps which are likely huge bonfires. These fires are not there for light, since if you are in the presence of God you do not need any light. And in front of this there is a sea, or an ocean, of glass like crystal.

And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “ Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”
– Revelation 4:6-8

Around the throne there are four creatures that are full of eyes, each with six wings, shouting day and night “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God almight!” This very instant these creatures are before the throne of Heaven shouting this. Creatures that if we would see them we would freak out! Imagine what would happen if one of these appeared right above you right now? But they are consumed with the presence of God because that is how Awesome God is!

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “ You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” – Revelation 4:9-11

After the four beasts shout this the twenty four elders are so overwhelmed that they just bow to God, casting their crowns of gold to God singing their own song of praise. Do you think these elders are regretting being here? Are they grumbling feeling forced to do this? No, being in the presence of God has a way of making you not think about yourself because of the awesomeness of God.  And if you do think about yourself the only thought that occurs to you is how unclean you are!

When Daniel had a vision of the Lord he instantly fell weak and was speechless. When Jesus touched him telling him to speak is the only time he got the nerve up to speak, and what did he say?

My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength.  For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me. – Daniel 10:16-17

Isaiah had a very similar experience, when he saw a vision of the Lord he became aware of how unrighteous he was before a Holy and perfect God.

Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts. – Isaiah 6:5

So you are standing here before the throne of God, feeling exactly how little and wretched you are compared to God and there are these four creatures with wings singing praises to God, and then the twenty four elders bow to God singing their own song, all while flashes like lightning and sounds like thunder are pouring out of the throne of God. You have these seven massive lamp stands and all of this has an ocean of glass and crystal.  Is that an amazing vision or what?

You are not thinking big enough!

I guarantee that no matter what image you have in your mind right now, it is no where even close to as amazing as the real thing! God is that awesome, heaven is that awesome, and we get to be there. Not only be there, but be seated on the throne with God!

Is that a humbling thought or what? It is not our greatness that brings us that glory, but what Christ did. All of this, is available for those who overcome.

And to think, that you would rather focus on … on what? On tv? on a car? on a bigger house? On green pieces of paper that the government demands to take from you and you will spend your life working to get more of? Is it really worth it?

Is it any wonder why God wants to vomit you out of his mouth?

Or to vomit me out of his mouth?

The Apostle Paul was once stoned to death and dragged outside the city.  When the other apostles found him they all got up and Paul led the charge back into the city that just killed him (or nearly killed him)!  (Acts 14:19)  Why would Paul go back into a city where the people just executed him?  Because Paul knew that there is something worth living for besides this worthless life! It is possible that Paul had a vision of heaven (2 Corinthians 12) which would have fueled this further.  After you have seen the glory of God how can we focus on the things of this earth?

How would our lives be different if we had such a vision of heaven? How would our lives be different if we just believed what the Bible said about heaven so we did not need our own vision?

The Humanity of Christ

It is well known that Jesus came in the form of man, and He experienced life on earth, going through all of the problems we go through, all of the hurt we go through, and experienced pain, suffering, and loss just like the rest of us.  We all know this, but in the back of our minds is a thought that since Jesus is God made flesh, He really did not, or could not have gone through as much pain and suffering as we go through.

Great Loss

When thinking of how Jesus went through loss of personal relationships, two people come to mind.  First is Joseph, his father.  We do not know for sure what happened to Joseph, but we do know that Joseph was there when Jesus was twelve in the temple (Luke 2:28), then we never see him again in scripture. When Jesus was dying on the cross he tells John to take care of his mom, something Jesus would not have to do if his father was still alive (John 19:26-27).  This also shows that Jesus cared about his mom, he wanted her to be well taken care of, something any of us would want.

Another powerful passage in the Bible is when Jesus’ close friend, Lazarus, died.  Jesus got word that Lazarus was not feeling well and then after he died Jesus made his way to visit.  Seeing the women weeping over Lazarus and then seeing the grave himself was too much for Jesus, and “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).  This simple verse showing that Jesus had compassion, felt pain, even though he knew Lazarus would not be dead for much longer, it was still painful to him.

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Great Suffering

I think it is downright impossible for us to understand the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross.  All to often I hear others, or even think in the back of my own mind, that what Jesus went through was bad but at least he knew the end result so it was not that bad.  How wrong can we get? Not only did Jesus get tortured and executed, but his status with God was, for the first time in all existance, severed from the Father (Mark 15:34).  Can you imagine what this would have been like? Do you think Jesus was anxious at all, or wished that he could avoid what was ahead?

Jesus did not want to go through with what was ahead and prayed for God to remove this trial from his only begotten son (John 22:42).  Jesus, “being in agony, prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (John 22:44)

Yes, Jesus was human, he had compassion, felt the pain of loss felt great anxiety. Jesus went through the pain that we went through, even more so.

So why did He do it?  Jesus prayed “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (John 22:42).  Do you not think that the loving father would take such trials from His only begotten son? But he did not, why?  Because it was the only way.

Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

“He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever.” (Hebrews 10:12)  Jesus died, do you really understand that? Jesus, our creator, was beaten, tortured, betrayed, and executed for you!

Acts 3:19
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

2 Corinthians 7:10
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

John Piper, in Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ writes

Therefore, this man of indestructible joy was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38). This “great high priest” is not unable to sympathize with us in our weakness, becasue he was tested in every way as a man like us (Hebrews 4:14-15). He wept with those who wept (John 11:35) and rejoiced with those who rejoiced (Luke 10:27, 21). He was hungry (Matthew 4:2), he was weary (John 4:6), he was forsaken (Matthew 26:56), betrayed (Matthew 26:45), whipped (Matthew 27:26), mocked (Matthew 27:31), and crucified (Matthew 27:35).

Jesus can and did relate to us, he felt pain suffering and loss.  Why did he go through all of this pain and suffering?  Because only through Jesus can we be reconciled with God.  Jesus went through all of that, only for you, what do you do for him?

Give God the Glory

An excerpt from “The Man God Uses” by Chuck Smith

It must have been a sight to see! The lame man who had been sitting at the gate of the temple begging for alms day after day, literally for decades, was now walking around, leaping into the air, and praising God (Acts 3:8)! Every person in the city had walked by htis man over and over again throughout the years, maybe occasionally dropping a coin or two into his hand. His frail frame was undoubtedly a familiar sight, linked with the whole experience of going into the temple in Jerusalem.

All of a sudden one day, this man is dancing around, yelling at the top of his lungs, hugging Peter and John, and generally creating a major disturbance in the daily routine of hte temple. The news must have spread like wildfire throughout the crowd! Luke factually states in Acts 3:10, “…they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”

The story continues in Acts 3:12:
“So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: ‘Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?'”

In other words, Peter was saying to them, “You men are Israelites! Don’t you know the power of your own God? People from foreign countries who aren’t acquainted with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob could conceivably be amazed by this event, byt why should you be surprised?”

This is exactly the way we so often behave in the face of miracles, even today. By our own confession, we believe that God created the heavens and hte earth and every living creature in them, but when we hear of a quadriplegic walking out of a hospital, it challenges our credulity. Is it any more difficult for God to heal a cripple than it was for Him to create Adam out of the dust of the earth? Do we really believe what we claim to believe?

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The New Temple during the Millennium

Many people do not know this, but do you know the Temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt during the Millennium, when Christ comes and establishes His kingdom on this earth after the Tribulation? Yes, and even animal sacrifices will be reinstituted. I found an interesting commentary on this that i would like to share with you…explaining what the purpose of the Temple will be and why animal sacrifice will be reinstituted.

“Ezekiel 33-39 dealt with the new life Israel will experience when she is gathered back into her lan and restored to fellowship with God [this is speaking about after the Tribulation….Christ will gather His people from their hiding places back to Jerusalem]. The last nine chapters of the book explain how Israel’s new order will be established. A new temple will be built as a sign of God’s presence among His people (Ezekiel 40-43), and a new service of worship will be established so the people will have access to their God (Ezekiel 44-46). Then a new division of the land will be made for the people (Ezekiel 47-48).

God has promised to rebuild His sanctuary among His people (Ezekiel 37:26-28); Ezekiel 44-46 give the plans for the temple to be rebuilt. Three interpretations of Ezekiel 40-43 are held by bible students: 1) Ezekiel predicted a rebuilding of Solomon’s temple after the Babylonian Captivity. 2) Ezekiel was prophesying about the church in a figurative sense; he did not have a literal temple in mind. 3) A still-future literal temple will be built during the millenial kingdom. The first view must be eliminated because it suggests that Ezekiel was mistaken when he wrote. No prophet speaking under God’s authority ever uttered a false prediction (cf. Deuteronomy 18:21-22; Matthew 5:17-18). Also the remnant that returned to Israel after the Exile did not follow Ezekiel’s specifications. The second view must also be eliminated because it violates the normal meaning of Ezekiel’s words. Those who hold this view are inconsistent for the interpret Ezekiel’s earlier, now-fulfilled prophecies literally, yet interpret his yet-unfulfilled prophecies symbolically. Why did Ezekiel take so much space to describe the millennial temple? Here are two reasons: 1) the sanctuary was the symbol of God’s presence among His people. The prelude to Israel’s judgment began when God’s glory departed from Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 8-11). The climax to her restoration as a nation will come when God’s glory reenters the new temple in Jerusalem (Ezekiel43:1-5). 2) The new temple will become the visible reminder of Israel’s relationship to God through His New Covenant. Since God gave detailed instructions for building the tabernacle to accompany His inauguration of the Mosaic Covenant (cf. Exodus 25-40), it is not unusual that He would also supply detailed plans for His new center of worship, to accompany the implementation of the New Covenant. This temple will be the focal point for the visible manifestatioin of Israel’s new relationship with her God.

Ezekiel 4:38-43 At the sides of the inner gates tables were set up for slaughtering the sacrifices. Four tables were on one side of the gate and four on the other–eight tables in all. The sacrifices prepared on these tables would then be offered on the altar in the inner court. Many have objected to the thought of animal sacrifices being reinstituted during the Millennium. Since these sacrifices, it is argued, revert back to the Levitical sacrificial system, they would be out of place in the Millennium. This has caused some to take the passage symbolically rather than literally. However, no difficulty exists if one understands the proper function of these sacrifices. First, animal sacrifices never took away human sin (it only covered over it temporarily); only the sacrifice of Christ can take away sin (cf. Hebrews 10:1-4, 10). In Old Testament times Israelites were saved by grace through faith, and teh sacrifices helped restore a believer’s fellowship with God. Second, even after the church began, Jewish believers did not hesitate to take part in the temple worship (cf. Acts 2:46;Acts 3:1; Acts 5:42) and even to offer sacrifices (Acts 21:26). They could do this because they viewed the sacrifices as memorials of Christ’s death.

Levitical sacrifices were connected with Israel’s worship of God. When the church supplanted Isreal in God’s program (cf. Romans 11:11-24) a new economy or dispensation began. The Levitical sacrificial system, which looked forward to Christ, was replaced by the Lord’s Supper (or communion), which looked back to His death and forward to His second coming (1 Corinthians 11:24, 26). At Christ’s second coming Israel will again assume her place of prominence in God’s kingdom program (cf. Romans 11:25-27). The Lord’s supper will be eliminated, because Christ will have returned. It will be replaced by animal sacrifices, which will be memorials or object lessons of the supreme sacrifice made by the Lamb of God. The slaughtering of these animals will be vivid reminders of the Messiah’s suffering and death.

The millennial sacrifices will differ from the Levitical sacrifices though there are some similarities. Other passages also refer to a sacrificial system during the Millennium (Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 66:20-23; Jeremiah 33:18; Zechariah 14:15-21; Malachi 3:3-4).

The priests to preside over the sacrifices will be descended from Zadok (cf. Ezekiel 43:19; Ezekiel 44:15; Ezekiel 48:11), the high priest in Solomon’s day (1 Kings 1:26-27).”