from Christ in Prophecy—
Many people believe there is nothing that can be known about the timing of the Lord’s return because Jesus said He would return like a thief in the night (Matthew 24:42-44).
But Paul makes it clear in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 that Jesus’ statement does not apply to believers: “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief…” He then proceeds to explain why: “for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.” Paul is referring, of course, to the light of the Holy Spirit who indwells all true believers and who can enlighten us through our study of Scripture to know the season of the Lord’s return (1 John 2:27).
from Christ in Prophecy–
“The Pre-Tribulation Rapture is a johnny-come-lately idea that is too new to be true.” This is the most common argument that I encounter against the concept of the Rapture of the Church occurring before the Tribulation begins.
There are several problems with this argument. The first is that it ignores the fact that the Bible teaches that end time prophecies will not be understood until the time comes for the predicted events to take place.
When the prophet Daniel was given some specific prophecies about the end times, he complained to the Lord that he did not understand them. The Lord responded with these words: “Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end times” (Daniel 12:9). Jeremiah was told the same thing by the Lord on two occasions (Jeremiah 23:20 and 30:24).
The true message of the cross of Christ is not a popular one. It isn’t one that give you a warm and fuzzy feeling or pumps up your self-esteem. It is a one of self denial, of dieing to self and seeking only the will of the Master as laid out in His Word. It is a message of binding oneself to Christ.
Q: You have visited a variety of churches in China and other persecuted regions. How different is their experience of church from ours?
A: I recall when my daughter and I went to an underground gathering in China years ago. Young people were praying so passionately, begging God to send them to the most dangerous places. They were actually hoping to die as martyrs! I had never seen anything like it. I still can’t get over the fearless passion for Jesus that this church embodied.
As they shared stories of persecution, I sat in amazement and asked for more stories. After a while, they asked why I was so intrigued. I told them that the church in America was nothing like this. I can’t tell you how embarrassing it was to try to explain to them that people attend 90-minute services once a week in buildings, and that’s what we call “church.” I told them about how people switch churches if they find better teaching, or more exciting music, or more robust programs for their kids.
As I described church life in America, they began to laugh. Not just small chuckles—they were laughing hysterically. I felt like a standup comedian, but I was literally just describing the American church as I’ve experienced it. They found it laughable that we could read the same Scriptures they were reading and then create something so incongruent.
The same is true in India. Years ago, my friend from India drove me to a speaking engagement in Dallas. When he heard the music and saw the lights, he said, “You Americans are funny. You won’t show up unless there’s a good speaker or band. In India, people get excited just to pray.” He proceeded to tell me how believers back home love Communion and how they flock to simple prayer gatherings. I imagined God looking down on the earth and seeing people on one side of the planet gathering expectantly whenever prayer was happening. Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, people only show up for the most talented people and the “atmosphere.”
It’s embarrassing. We should be better than “needing atmosphere” in our American churches. We should desire to meet with God above all else.
from Christianity Today:
In 2002, pastor and author Tim Keller published a brief article entitled “Why Plant Churches” that has since become a staple regarding the necessity of church planting. In it, he writes, “The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city.”
His words echo the oft-quoted claim by C. Peter Wagner in his book Church Planting for a Greater Harvest: “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches.” Dramatic population increases, the rise of the “nones,” and pervasive church closures would seem to validate this claim, but is it true?
The answer is: It depends.
Is it biblical to say “God loves you” to non-Christians? From Ligoniers 2017 National Conference, R.C. Sproul answers this question and explains the three different types of divine love.