Leaving Laodicea
455 - What is the Kingdom of Heaven?

455 - What is the Kingdom of Heaven?

April 19, 2020

As we begin our study on John the Baptist, we are going to take the Scripture accounts of his life from all four gospels and merge them into one single narrative.  But rest assured, all you will see is nothing but Scripture.  Nothing has been added.  This helps us get a complete view of John's incredible ministry, the man Jesus said was without rival in all of humanity (Matthew 11:11).

The following is the beginning of John's ministry as told from Matthew 3:1-12, Mark 1:4-8 and Luke 3:1-18.

(LK) Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

(MT) In those days John the Baptist (MK) came baptizing in the wilderness (MT) of Judea. (LK) And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, (MT) saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"  For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, (LK) saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'" (MT) Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. (MK) Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, (MT) and all the region around the Jordan went out to him (MK) and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

(MT) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, (LK) he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, (MT) "Brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.'  For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.  And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees.  Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." (LK) So the people asked him, saying, "What shall we do then?"  He answered and said to them, "He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise." Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"  And he said to them, "Collect no more than what is appointed for you."  Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, "And what shall we do?"  So he said to them, "Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages."

Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, John answered, (MK) and he preached, (LK) saying to all, "I indeed baptize you with water (MT) unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry, [and] (MK) whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.  I indeed baptized you with water, but (LK) He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”  And with many other exhortations he preached to the people.

But there is so much more.  And note the substance of John's preaching.  It was of repentance and the coming Kingdom of Heaven.  Are they both related?  Absolutely.


The Word of God Came to John

Did you catch the open phrase of John's ministry?  It says "the word of God came to John in the wilderness" (Luke 3:2).  How did that happen?  What was that like?  Does God still reveal Himself to others as He did to John?  Or has that time of specific, intimate instruction from God to man somehow ceased?  And if the "word of God" doesn't come to individuals today, did God stop transmitting or did we stop receiving?  These are important questions you must answer for yourself as you grow in your understanding of Him.  But remember, God can do anything He wants to anyone under any circumstance and at any time that pleases Him, period.  And He doesn't ask you or me for permission or how comfortable we feel about what He is doing.  We just hang on for the ride.

That's why it says in Ephesians 3:20-21:

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

Did you get that?  Ask or think.  It may take a measure of faith to ask God for something, but it takes even less to think it.  And God can do "exceedingly abundantly" beyond what we dream about in the solitude of our mind late at night but would never allow it to pass our lips and be heard by others.  God has them both covered.

Join with us as we look at the life of the greatest man that ever lived, according to Jesus.  And I think He is a perfect judge of character.  Don't you?

The following is a study on the Beginning of the Ministry of John the Baptist and the Preaching of the Kingdom of Heaven.

441 - Faith is Justified by Action

441 - Faith is Justified by Action

December 9, 2019

We have previously looked at how to pray at all times and in all circumstances by letting the Holy Spirit, through God's Word, direct our prayers.  But next on the Faith Prepper list of required spiritual skills is learning how to trust Him at all times by allowing our faith to grow by having it exercised in often unpleasant circumstances.  After all, faith grows when it is tested.  And testing is usually unpleasant during the process but wonderful at the end.

The Greek word translated “faith” in the New Testament is pístis and means: “to win over, to persuade. Subjectively it means firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth”  This definition is used over 250 times in the New Testament alone.  Everything in the Spirit is based on faith and everything of faith is designed by God to bypass the senses.  Everything.

In addition to this, all faith is not justified by merely having it.  But all faith is justified by the action it produces.  In other words, faith by itself is worth little.  But faith, accompanied by actions or works based on that faith is alive and real.  This is exactly what James was trying to tell us in James 2:14-26.  Read it for yourself.


They Did Something

If you look at the people included in Hebrews 11, what we affectionately call the roll-call of faith, they are all listed there not because of their faith, but what they did based on their faith.  Or what actions they took empowered by their faith.  To believe God told you to do something but then not have the faith to actually do it, will not land you on this list.  Faith is justified by the actions empowered by our faith.  Let's look at Hebrews 11.

By faith, Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain (Heb. 11:4).  Or, "by faith Able did something..."

By faith, Noah prepared an ark (Heb. 11:7).  Noah did something by faith.  He built a boat in a desert when it had never rained.

By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was told to leave his home and travel to a land promised to him by God (Heb. 11:8-10).  His faith was justified, not by the fact he believed God had a land for him, but by the fact he actually left his home to travel to a foreign country.  He did something.

By faith, Abraham was told to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering (Heb. 11:17-19).  And he did just that.  If God hadn't intervened, Abraham would have obeyed God explicitly and his son would have died.  Why?  Because faith is justified by actions.  And Abraham's actions proved his faith.

By faith, Isaac and Jacob and Joseph did something on their death bed (Heb. 11:20-22).  They did something.  And what they did, by faith, is what qualified them to be listed with the others in this chapter.

Next, we have Moses (Heb. 11:23-29).  Then the story of the fall of Jericho (Heb. 11:30).  We are presented with the faith and actions of Rahab (Heb. 11:31) and so many more, Gideon, Barak,  Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets (Heb. 11:32-34).  And they are all listed in the chapter because of the actions they took based on their faith.  Not the other way around.

So where are you in your journey of faith?  Do you have the faith needed to be a faith prepper?  Can your faith survive the coming darkness?  What are you doing today to place yourself in situations where you must rely on your faith and not on your own wit or resources?  Where do you want to go from here?

To find out more about becoming a Faith Prepper, keep listening.

The following is a study on Trusting God by Faith and becoming a Faith Prepper.

440 - Taking God at His Word

440 - Taking God at His Word

December 8, 2019

One of the attributes of becoming a Faith Prepper is learning how to trust God as His Word.  I know many of us will say that we do.  When pressed, almost all believers will state the mantra, "I believe everything God says, start to finish, from Genesis to Revelation."  After all, that's the expected answer.  To say anything less would make us seem like a lukewarm believer.

But the truth is, most believers, maybe ever you, don't truly take God's Word as the final authority in your life.  How can I say that?  Because God's Word speaks to just about every issue we face today yet the church seems to be divided up into various opinions that differ greatly from one another.  If God's Word doesn't change and is always true, how can that be?  If God's Word says something is wrong, for example, how can any believer who claims God's Word as the final authority in their life, have a different opinion than what the Word says?  It seems inconsistent, doesn't it?  Hypocritical.

As the adage goes, the Scriptures are true about everything it teaches.  And it teaches about everything.

To test whether God's Word molds your opinions or whether your opinions are determined independent of God's Word, I have listed a number of controversial issues below.  What is your opinion on these?  And whatever your opinion is, does it line up with the Word of God?  If it doesn't, who is wrong, and what are you prepared to do about it?


My Opinions

Let's see how you would answer the following:

  • Abortion - Does a woman have the right to end the life of her unborn child under any circumstances?
  • Homosexuality - Is it a sin? Or did God create people both heterosexual and homosexual?
  • Sex - Is premarital sex always a sin?  Always?
  • Divorce - Is it proper to divorce a spouse?
  • Education - Whose responsibility is it to educate our children? Or, is it proper to send our children to government (public) schools?
  • Tolerance - Is it true that Jesus never judged any one and neither should we as His followers?
  • Children - How many children should a family have?  Is birth control or family planning ever in God’s will?
  • Church - Should women be pastors?  Should women have leadership roles that involve men?
  • Friends - Should a believer have friends that are non-believers?  How close should they be?
  • Home - Should a man be a stay at home dad?  Or should a woman go to work outside the home and put the kids in daycare or public school?
  • Spiritual Leadership - Whose responsibility is the spiritual leadership in a family?  Father?  Mother? Church?  Someone else?
  • Environment - How concerned should a Christian be about the environment?  And what should they do about it?
  • Politics - Should a believer ever vote for a Democrat?  Should a believer ever vote for a Republican?  Should a believer vote at all?
  • Dating and Marriage - Should a believer ever marry an unbeliever?  Should they date an unbeliever?
  • Dating vs Courtship - Should a believer date at all?
  • Islam - How is a believer to view the god of Islam?
  • Drinking - Should a believer drink alcohol?
  • Entertainment - Should a believer watch or listen to media that includes profanity, nudity, or sex?  Should a believer watch or listen to media that promotes anything contrary to sound Biblical teaching?
  • Money - How much money should a believer accumulate?  And how much of their income should they give away?

How many of your opinions were just that, opinions?  How many of your views or convictions were based on Scripture?  And those that weren’t based on Scripture, does that bother you at all?  Are you willing to change?  Right now?  Today?  No matter the costs?

To find out more about becoming a Faith Prepper, keep listening.

The following is a study on Trusting God's Word and becoming a Faith Prepper.

438 - How to Pray God’s Word

438 - How to Pray God’s Word

November 27, 2019

For the last couple of weeks, we have been talking about praying through Scripture to help focus our prayers and have specifically been using the book of Ephesians.  If you remember, before we began we looked at three great truths regarding using God's Word to focus our prayers.  They are:

One, there is a direct connection between the degree that our minds are shaped by Scripture and the degree to which our prayers are answered.

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" - John 15:7.

Two, God only answers the prayers and petitions that His Son had some part in asking.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him - 1 John 5:14-15.

And three, the early church prayed Scripture.  And so should we.

But today we want to focus on some of the doctrines we found in just the first chapter of Ephesians.  It is on these doctrines we have been focusing our prayers.


Praying Through Doctrines

Some of the truths we have been praying through are:

  1.  God’s Calling
  2.  Faithfulness
  3.  Grace and Peace
  4.  Blessed is our God
  5.  Complete in Him
  6.  Being “in Christ” and all that means
  7.  Election
  8.  Sanctification
  9.  Identification
  10.  Predestination
  11.  Adoption
  12.  Sovereignty of God
  13.  Grace
  14.  Our Acceptance
  15.  Redemption
  16.  Substitutionary Atonement of Christ
  17.  Forgiveness of Sins
  18.  Grace in Abundance / Riches of His Grace
  19.  Wisdom and Prudence of God
  20.  Reconciliation
  21.  The Church
  22.  Eternal Security / Sealed
  23.  Holy Spirit
  24.  How to Pray / What to Pray For
  25.  Revelation
  26.  The Knowledge of God
  27.  Effectual Calling
  28.  Eternal Life / Our Final State
  29.  Resurrection
  30.  Ascension
  31.  Power
  32.  Dominion

I hope you can see the importance of using Scripture to focus your prayers, especially as we see dark times approaching.  To find out more about how this is done and how to become a faith prepper, keep listening.

The following is a study on Praying God's Word and Ephesians 1.

409 - Why Do We Study Prophecy

409 - Why Do We Study Prophecy

June 26, 2017

One of the major reasons we study prophecy is called the Law of Proportions.  This law states the more ink the Lord uses in His Word to communicate a message, the more important that message must be.  Consider the following regarding the Old Testament:

Number of Verses in the Bible:  31,124 Number of Predictions in the Old Testament:  1,239 Number of Old Testament Verses that Contain Predictions:  6,641 out of 23,210 Percent of the Old Testament that is Prophecy:  28.5%

What about the New Testament? Number of Predictions in the New Testament:  578 Number of New Testament Verses that Contain Predictions:  1,711 out of 7,914 Percent of the New Testament that is Prophecy:  21.5% And the Bible as a whole?

Percent of the Whole Bible that is Prophecy:  27% Number of Separate Prophetic Topics in the Bible:  737

Just a few more facts:

Of the 333 prophecies concerning Christ, only 109 were fulfilled by His first coming, leaving 224 yet to be fulfilled in the Second Coming. There are over 300 references to the Lord’s coming in the 260 chapters of the New Testament— one out of every 30 verses. Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books mention the Lord’s coming. Jesus refers to His second coming at least twenty-one times. There are 1,527 Old Testament passages that refer to the Second Coming. For every time the Bible mentions the first coming, the Second Coming is mentioned eight times. People are exhorted to be ready for the return of Jesus Christ over fifty times.

Need we say more?  If you're interested in the study of prophecy, then keep listening.

390 - Sometimes History Hurts

390 - Sometimes History Hurts

March 12, 2017

When we try to determine the exact day that Jesus was crucified, either Friday or Wednesday, we come face to face with an ugly fact about the history of the church.  That ugly history shows the depth of the church’s hatred for the Jews during the first and second century, much like the church’s hatred of the Jews today.  Church councils were called to try to determine a uniform date for Easter in order for it to not correspond with the Jewish Passover (the 14th of Nisan), even if they are, in reality, intrinsically tied together.

For example, the Council of Nicea (325 BC) unanimously ruled that the Easter festival should be celebrated throughout the Christian world on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox (March and September); and if the full moon should occur on a Sunday, and thereby coincide with the Passover festival, Easter should be commemorated on the following Sunday.

Why try so hard to make sure no Christian festival corresponds to its Jewish counterpart, even if by accident?  Antisemitism.  But there’s so much more to this debate.  You have the two Passovers during the passion week, the rantings of Emperor Constantine, and the excommunication of the Quartodecimans.  Sound intriguing?  Do you want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on John 19:31-37.

389 - Life in the Kingdom

389 - Life in the Kingdom

March 9, 2017

If we were honest, we'd have to admit that the picture of life in the church as revealed in Scripture and our own personal church experience are not always the same.  In fact, they often seem like polar opposites, like night and day.  Consider what Paul said about life in the church:

Ephesians 3:20-21 - Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works (where) in us, to Him be glory (where) in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

And yet, knowing this, we still struggle with trying to find the answer to the questions that trouble us the most.

Why can’t we keep our children involved in church?
Why can’t our children hold to Biblical morals?
Why can’t our children make Godly decisions?
Why can’t the church make a noticeable difference in our nation, culture and family?
Why can’t we get victory over our own sins?
Why can’t we see Jesus move in our lives like He did in the past?

Is there an answer to these questions?  Is what we're experiencing in church, Sunday after Sunday, all there is?  Or is there something missing?  And if so, what is it?  How do I find it?  What can I do?

If you want to know the answer to these important questions, then keep listening.

The following is a study on life in the kingdom of God.

385 - The Whole Tongue Controversy Explained

385 - The Whole Tongue Controversy Explained

February 5, 2017

Ever since the resurgence of the charismatic movement in the last century, there has been incredible controversy in church on the issue of spiritual gifts, especially the gift of speaking in tongues (1 Cor. 10:8).  One faction believes it is a sign of a deeper relationship with the Lord that everyone should seek but only few find.  You hear this when statements like this are made:  “You must receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit as evidenced by speaking in tongues.”

Then there is the other side that throws all the uncomfortable gifts of the Spirit out the window for fear of being called strange, loopy or out of control.  And these camps are entrenched, like opposing armies set for war.

But what is the truth?  And how can we know from Scripture which side is right?

Simply put, the answer to this great controversy is found in the singular and plural use of the Greek word “glṓssa” – and nothing more.  When you get this definition under your belt, the entire controversy vanishes into thin air, like a man-made mirage.

Do you want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on 1 Corinthians 12:10.

372 - The Myth of Biblical Objectivity

372 - The Myth of Biblical Objectivity

November 13, 2016

We all assume we are totally objective when it comes to things in the Scriptures.  But nothing could be further from the truth.

We often believe, not what the Scriptures say, but what we’ve been taught they say and why - all confirmed by our experience. In essence, the main reason we, as Bible-believing Christians, do not believe in the miraculous gifts of the Spirit is simply this: We have not seen nor experienced them.  And our theological traditions support our lack of belief in them.

These are the top three reasons much of the church in the West refuses to believe in the more miraculous gifts of the Spirit.

One, we have not personally seen nor experienced New Testament quality miracles in our Christian lives.
Two, we don’t see New Testament quality miracles in the later history of the church and they are not part of our theological traditions.
Three, we are repulsed by the misuse of those who claim to possess New Testament quality gifts of the Spirit in contemporary churches and healing movements.

But none of these are based on Scripture. They are based on personal experience.  Do you want to know the truth?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Spiritual Gifts found in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 28, and Ephesians 4:11.

362 -  Forever vs Flash and Fade

362 - Forever vs Flash and Fade

September 16, 2016
Often we find ourselves focusing on the temporal things in life and not on the eternal.  We seem to devote most of our time and energy on the things that pass, things that fade away, things that are transitory at best and have an expiration date, and not on what truly matters and what lasts.  Why is that?

Jesus said:

Matthew 5:18 - "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled."

Jesus said the law, the Word of God, is something that will outlast even heaven and earth.  Then, according to Psalm 138:2, God said He honors His Word above His name.  So what does all of this mean?  And what are the implications for each of us?  To find out more, keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:18.