The world makes jokes abut the devil and relegates to the realm of myth.

The world makes jokes abut the devil and relegates to the realm of myth. He is commonly pictured as wearing a red costume and having horns and a tail and carrying a pitchfork. However, a correct knowledge of this being is vital to any real understanding of the history of the world we live in, and the personal conflict in which we are involved. For the existence, power and schemes of the devil are facts of tremendous significance, for we live in the midst of his schemes and snares. Jesus informs us that Satan heads a mighty kingdom of fallen angels called demons.

He is the malignant spirit who first tempted mankind to sin through our first parents, Adam and Eve. Since then his purpose has been to drive a wedge between mankind and their creator. His goal is to hurt God the only way he can, and that is through mankind whom God loves. His goal is nothing short of the ruin of mankind.

In the process of his war with God he has brought untold sorrow and shame to the history of the human race. He is the instigator of the wars and hatred between mankind. The world is deceived by this great deceiver, who Jesus called the father of lies, to the point of rendering this powerful spirit being a mere fable, which greatly enhances his influence and advantage over the affairs of men, for your greatest enemy is the one you do not know you have.

Satan is the motivating influence behind the world’s mindset against God. Because mankind is born under his influence they are unaware of it. The Bible gives a detailed description of this person and his career. It describes a being so powerful and influential that all would be lost apart from the One who came to “destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8).

Angels are referred to almost 300 times in the Bible. They are a prominent part of God’s program for mankind. The word “angel” in both the Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek means “messengers”. They are revealed in the Bible as an order of supernatural spirit beings of which there are different classes and rankings.

There number is innumerable. In Daniel 7:9-10 we read of God’s throne concerning angels: “A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before Him. Thousands upon thousands attended Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him”. The Hebrew language had no word for “million”, but instead used “a thousand thousands” for a million. “Ten thousand times ten thousand” would be a hundred million. The same words are used in Revelation 5:11: “Thousands upon thousands and ten thousand times ten thousands”.

Angels were originally all holy, and were all created at the same time and are not born as humans are and do not reproduce and multiply themselves. They are always spoken of in the masculine. They are always referred to as men, never as women.                                                                                                                                                      The world of angels comes in two groupings: The good angel who never rebelled and the fallen and these are organized into a hierarchy of different rankings with tremendous power and authority. The Bible speaks of “thrones”, “rulers and authorities, powers and dominion” (Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16). There has been continual warfare between these for the control of mankind throughout history.

The Prince of the fallen angels was there from the beginning of mankind’s creation and the history of the human race is a long scene of warfare and cruelty, pain and sorrow. How terrible and fearful are the forces of darkness and spiritual wickedness that are behind all the sin and misery that has plagued the fallen human race throughout its history.

The ministry of angels is important to the understanding of God’s providential care and leading of His people. Believers are surrounded by holy angels, mighty beings, sent from God to minister to His children throughout their lifetime, and escort them home to heaven when their journey here is over. “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14).

 

Lucifer’s creation and fall

Ezekiel 38:11-19 and Isaiah 14:12-15 deal with the devil’s creation and fall. In Ezekiel 28 speaks past the king of Tyre and Isaiah 14 speaks past the king of Babylon, to the motivating influence that was behind them. An example of this is seen in Matthew 16:23 where Jesus spoke past Peter, who was rebuking Jesus for saying that He must be crucified, to address Satan who was the motivating ingluence behind what Peter said.

In Ezekiel 28:13 he is said to have been in the Garden of Eden. Certinly this could not be true of the ruler. But Satan the Tempter was there of Tyre. In 28:14 he was ordained by God to be a “guardian Cherub” and that he was on the holy mount of God; “You walked among the fiery stone”. Lucifer was the greatly exalted Cherub who guarded or covered God’s throne with praises as he led the other angel’s in the worship of God.

The “mountain of God” was a symbol of God’s throne where He governed the universe. The “fiery stones” refer to angels. “You were blameless in all your ways till wickedness was found in you” (Ezekiel 28:15). Many wonder why God would create the devil and evil. God did not create the devil and evil. He created Lucifer and all the angels with free will like he created mankind. God created mankind and the angels with a choice to love Him or rebel against Him. If He created them as mere robots they could not truly love their Creator.

His exalted position of close proximity to God’s throne cause him to covet God’s glory and worship. “Your heart became proud on account of you beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor” (Ezekiel 28:17).

Lucifer the anointed Cherub became Satan the devil and was cast out of His exalted position in the 3rd heaven to the lower heavenly places to the lower heavenly places (the 2nd heaven—Ephesians 6:12) and became “the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:2). He now stands as the prince of the kingdom of darkness opposed to the kingdom of light. This will be his realm until the end, when Michael the archangel will cast him and his angels to the earth during the tribulation period (Revelation 12:7-13).

Satan’s great ambition is to have a throne of his own and be worshipped by mankind and to rule over the “stars of heaven”—the angels.

 

MANKINDS CREATION

God” purpose in creating mankind was so He could communicate Himself with His creation in a love relationship. Because God is love He created mankind as a spiritual personality on whom He could bestow His love. We are told in Hebrews 2:5-6 that God created mankind to rule over the angels and to put the world to come under His authority: “It was not to angels that He has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking, but there is a place that someone has testified: “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him. You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet”.

The Bible is filled with promises of a glorious eternal destiny that God has provided for redeemed mankind: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” (Hebrews 2:9). The Bible teaches a most exalted purpose for mankind’s creation. This purpose is to have perfect fellowship with God Himself, to share in His eternal life, and His ruling of the universe in a family relationship.

The universe, especially planet earth was created for one purpose: to provide a suitable home for the redeemed and glorified human race. God formed man on the sixth day of creation: “The Lord God formed the man of the dust of the ground and breathed in his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

“Now the Lord God planted a garden in the east, in Eden, and there He had put the man He had formed and the Lord God made all kinds of trees to grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of the knowledge of Good and evil” (Genesis 2:8-9).

Mankind was created for fellowship with God and knowing that man would fall, God planned through Christ, to demonstrate the incomparable riches of His grace expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). But this relationship must be freely chosen and to do this the man must be given a choice so         God prepared a special area, a perfect garden with beautiful trees bearing fruit of every kind, for a testing ground. It was called “Eden” which means “delight”. It was paradise.

Adam was the representative of all his descendants and would set the course for humanity and human history. In the center of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—so called because good would be known if Adam obeyed concerning it and evil if man disobeyed.

“And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:15-17).

 

MANKIND”S FALL AND THE PROMISE OF A REDEEMER

Satan knew that the only way he could hurt God was through mankind so that was his point of attack. In his consuming hatred of God Satan would wage war against the human race that God loved. The devil and his demonic hoards were about to begin the conflict of the ages. God, who could have ended the conflict before it began, would allow it to play itself out for Good.

He would use it to reveal Himself to His creation through His dealings with sin and its terrible consequence for the sinner and reveal Himself to His creation through His dealing with sin and its terrible consequences for the sinner and reveal His love and grace to His creation as nothing else could. The drama of angelic and human rebellion and His response to it would reveal to His creation the character of their God.

The serpent’s body was taken over by Satan, who had earlier led the angels in a revolt against God, would now tempt God’s human creation. Jesus said he was “a murderer and a liar from the beginning” (John 8:44). He said to the woman “Did God really say you must not eat of any tree in the garden? (Genesis 3:1).

“The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You may not eat fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die” (Genesis 3:2-4).

“You shall not surely die” the serpent said to the woman, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).

She chose to believe the tempter over God and saw only what the tempter wanted her to see, until her own lusts took over and each step became easier until she ate of the forbidden fruit. She gave it to Adam and he ate. They had made themselves their own masters. Now they would write the unwritten history of the human race. Their own individual wills had replaced the will of God.

Then they heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden. It was a theophany of the Word of God, the pre-incarnate Christ, and they hid from Him among the trees of the garden, but the Lord God called out to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” He answered “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself” (Genesis 3:8-10).

Through sin Satan had driven a wedge between God and humanity. Though Adam was covered with fig leaves, he still knew that he was naked before God.

“So the Lord God said to the serpent, “because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of you life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel” (Genesis 3:14-15).

As a result of their sin everything changed. To the woman God announced that she would give birth with increased pain and there will be strife between the man and the woman. From now on children will be born under the curse. It would be a time of struggle and pain as a constant reminder that we are all sinners (Genesis 3:16).

Adam was told that the ground (the earth) would be cursed for his sake. Now only through pain and toil would it produced crops along with weeds and thorns. Their bodies would begin to age and wear out and finally die and return to the dust of the ground from which they came.

The serpent would be cursed above all the other animals as a perpetual reminder to mankind of their fall and Satan’s final doom. It may have stood erect and glided on its tail, but now it would crawl in the dust as an object of revulsion.

In the heavenly realm Lucifer’s sin had brought about a fall among the angels prior to the fall of mankind. The fallen angels under his authority are also called demons. There is only one Devil, which means “slanderer” or “accuser”. He is called “Satan” which means “Resister”.

Angels fell individually, but humans fell corporately. “In Adam” we all fell. Because Adam was the head or organic representative death established itself on all of his descendants as well. Through Adam every member of the human race, through their mere birth, is inescapably a member of a fallen and corrupted race. This is why Jesus declared: “I tell you the truth. No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3).

Satan became the “Prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30) and the “god of this age” (mindset) (II Corinthians 4:4). The whole world is under his control (I John 5:19), and he is the “spirit working in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). He is the Tempter (Matthew 4:3). He is a “liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). He is the deceiver who leads the whole world astray (Revelation 12:9).

In the midst of the sin and its horror and shame God gave a promise that He would not allow the enemy to destroy His intended purpose for His creation of an intimate relationship with Himself. It was the beginning of the gospel message, The message of the offspring of the woman, born of a virgin. The term “offspring of the woman” is unique because generation was through the male. He would not be connected to the fallen nature of His parents, not tainted by the fall and not under sins dominion.

The only remedy now was a new creation brought about by a new head of humanity, another Adam, the Last Adam, to undo the tragedy caused by the first Adam. This was God’s plan from the beginning. God would send His own Son as the Last Adam to undo the works of the devil. Out of the ruins of the old creation God would build His new creation “in Christ”. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (I Corinthians 15:22).

In Eden God decreed enmity, meaning bitter hatred, between the serpent’s offspring and the offspring of the woman. The primary offspring of the woman (A virgin birth) was the Lord Jesus Christ. The primary offspring of the serpent is Satan.

Since this first messianic prophecy was given Satan has been the bitter     enemy of the woman’s seed, Jesus Christ. His person and work has been the focus of Satan’s attack. The secondary seed are the “children of the kingdom” and the “children of the wicked one”. This enmity of Satan is also directed toward God’s people. He makes unceasing on believers to mar their lives and service because they are “partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4). And to them has been committed the task of carrying on Christ’s work, the great “ministry of reconciliation”: That through them, their witness and prayers, the truths of salvation will be given out.

And because of this we can expect the fiercest opposition from Satan. This is why Jesus prayed: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15). Satan’s attack on our effective witness will be noticeable especially in our prayer life which will literally become a war zone.

The children of the kingdom are those who trust in Christ: “For you are all the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). The children of the serpent are those who reject Christ—“You brood of snakes” (Matthew 12:34). “Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell? (Matthew 23:33). “For you are children of your father the devil” (John 8:44).

In this struggle the offspring of the serpent would crush Satan’s head with a fatal death blow and destroy the works of the devil: “The Son of Man came to destroy the works of the devil (I John 38). But in the process of crushing the serpent’s head He would have to expose His heel to the serpent’s deadly fangs. This would take place on the cross where Christ would destroy the works of Satan for those who would trust in Him, But to do this would cost the Son of God great suffering and death.

This cosmic warfare between good and evil would be the theme of human history and the unfolding story revealed in the Scriptures. Christ’s coming signaled the greatest explosion of demonic activity from the demonic realm because His coming would eventually seal their doom. God has a plan for this world. It will be the scene of divine visitation. It will be the scene of the cosmic war where God will defeat the evil one.

In the fullness of God’s time Jess Christ, the eternal Son of God became flesh as the offspring of the virgin. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, but born of the virgin Mary. He was born of Mary, but the One who was born already existed from eternity. He would come as the Second Adam, the Captain of our salvation, ever moving forward on the lonely road toward suffering and death to crush the serpent’s head and “destroy the devil’s work” (I John 3:8).

The pleasant life in Eden characterized by fellowship with God came to a sudden end. Mankind was to have dominion over God’s creation, but their choice to heed the voice of the Tempter and disobey God changed everything, his dominion over the earth was lost to the Tempter and we are told in I John 5:19: “The whole world lies under the control of the evil one”, and Jesus referred to Satan as the “Prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; and 16:11).

This is brought out in Luke 4: 5-8 during Jesus’ confrontation with the devil: “The devil led Him up to a high place and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to Him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours”.

It is significant that Jesus did not dispute Satan’s claim to possess the kingdoms of this world. Jesus came to go to the cross to reclaim from Satan what Adam has forfeited. Satan was saying that Jesus did not have to go to the cross. He could have all these kingdoms if He would bow down and worship him. But Jesus rebuked his offer. He chose rather to die for the sins of the world and establish His own kingdom. Eventually antichrist will take him up on the offer (Revelation 13:1-2).

Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden. The perfect creation that God had declared “very good” (Genesis 1:31), was now devastated by the fall of angels in the heavenly realm who had set themselves up against the Creator. This was soon followed by the sin of mankind in the earthly realm. This has resulted in the deadly conflict between good and evil since the dawn of human history. The tragedy is that the majority of mankind is unaware of this warfare in which the enemy wants nothing short of the eternal damnation of the human race.

From that day until now the history of mankind has been one of warfare between the spiritual powers of good and evil, between the Creator and the created. Mankind is the focal point of the satanic ambition and schemes because the only way Satan could hurt God was through mankind. God’s reaction to our sin and suffering would dumbfound the wildest imagination. It would show the extent to which He would go to redeem His fallen creation: “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

As a consequence of this, believers are now engaged in spiritual warfare with the spiritual forces of Satan’s kingdom. Now all the hatred of Satan against God is directed toward His people. All the powers of the demonic forces are now activated to rob the finished work of Christ of it fullest effect upon the world.

The devil is a shrewd general and uses his troops where most needed and that is why his target Bible believing churches and believers. They are commission by the Lord to carry on His work and this makes them very dangerous to Satan’s cause. He sows the weeds among the wheat; the false among the true; the bad among the good. Deception and discourse are his methods. This is why we are given so many warnings in the Bible not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices and to stand on the finished work of Christ.

 

SATAN”S DEFEAT AT THE CROSS

Genesis 3:15 heralds that messiah would ultimately end the age-long conflict with the serpent—by crushing his head. The account of Jesus’ ministry begins with Him confronting the devil in the desert and defeating Him. After defeating Satan in His own life, the Son of Man was qualified to defeat him for the entire cosmos.

Jesus said: “If I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you. Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house” (Matthew 12:28-29).

Jesus is saying that one cannot take back the property of Satan’s kingdom unless he first ties up the strong man who is charge of the whole operation. This is what Jesus came to do. The account of Jesus’ ministry begins with Jesus confronting the devil in the desert. His ministry was about overcoming the “strong man”—Satan, who was guarding his property, and tying him up, enabling His people to take his possessions (his captives who have been blinded to the gospel).

Before going to the cross the battle was joined in Gethsemane. Satan’s legion put intense pressure upon Him as He contemplated the cross. His will was attacked at every point: “His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” as he considered what lay ahead of Him. At the cross the cosmic war that had raged from the beginning of time had now come to center on one Person. The One stronger than the “strong man” had finally arrived.

Colossians 2:14-15 tells us: “Having canceled the written code, with its regulations that was against us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross”.

By dying for our sins and satisfying the law that demands death, Christ disarmed or stripped away the weapons of the satanic powers. This refers to the power of these demonic rulers to condemn mankind through the broken law. They have been stripped of their power over believers who stand perfectly righteous and holy in Jesus Christ”.

“Having canceled the written code, with its regulations that was against us and that stood opposed to us” refers to the law that condemns us. God took away these broken laws by nailing them to Christ’s cross and judging Him for them. The Law (the written code) was a certificate of debt against us. In the east a debt was cancelled by nailing it to a post. Our certificate of guilt was taken out of the way by nailing it to the cross.

When Jesus was crucified the Romans nailed the charges against Him to His cross of claiming to be the king of the Jews (Matthew 27:34-37), God nailed the record of our sins to His cross and judged Him for them and blotted them out: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). The certificate of our debt to the Law has been canceled because Christ paid our debt in full.

It was customary that when the debt was paid the canceled bill was nailed to a post for all to see. As with all debts the only one who could sign its cancellation was the one to whom the debt was owed. The cross of Christ was God’s signature on the canceled debt written in Christ’s blood.

Along with canceling the charges of the law that was against us He also disarmed the evil spirit forces, Satan and his fallen angels, who ruled over us and were made a public spectacle by Christ’s victory over them. Just as the victorious Romans would lead their defeated foes in a victory parade through the streets of Rome making a public spectacle of them.

Christ ascended to heaven after His resurrection as total victor over Satan and his demonic forces. When Christ sat down at the right hand of God, Satan’s defeat was total, as He cried from the cross “it is finished” (John 19:30). Not only was the penalty for our sin finished, but Satan’s legal authority and dominion was finished, but even more, when Jesus ascended to the throne of God, believers were raised and seated with Him:

“But because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up in Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6).

Satan’s dominion over us was ended at Calvary. This is the meaning of our enthronement with Christ. Now instead of Satan having authority over us, we have been given authority over him.

In Matthew 16:16-19 Jesus uses Peter’s confession to teach about the Church. In order to understand this we must first understand the Biblical meaning of the “Church”. It does not refer to anyone who claims to be a Christian. Claiming to be a Christian does not make a person a Christian. Nor does it mean anyone who attends church. It always refers to a “called out assembly” who has been called out of the world through their faith in Christ. It refers only to those who have been “born again”. As Jesus said in John 3:3: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3).

“Peter answered, ‘you are the Christ, the Son of the living God’. Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”

Here the gates of hades are on the defensive, and God’s church is on the offensive. Jesus said He was going to build His church on the rock of Peter’s confession that the Father revealed to him, that Christ is the Son of the living God. Christ’s church will be built by overcoming the gates of Satan’s stronghold and releasing his prisoners he holds captive.

They are to do this through the authority of Christ. The church is literally to storm the gates of hades with the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the reason Jesus established the church, which is His spiritual body in this dispensation of the church. As Christ used His physical body at His first coming He now uses His church.

The “keys of the kingdom of heaven” and “binding and loosing” has to do with the presentation of the gospel as does John 20:23: “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven”.

Only God can forgive sin, but the believer is given the authority and privilege of presenting the gospel message and declaring to those who believe that their sins are forgiven. It is the same with “binding” and “loosing”. If they believe the gospel they are loosed from their sins, if they do not believe they remain bound in their sins. This is to be the business of God’s people. This is what the church is called to do.

On the cross Jesus struck the fatal blow to Satan’s kingdom. After His resurrection and glorification He is now seated as our representative at the right hand of God the Father. Christ is now the true Prince of the world and will return to establish His kingdom. Satan’s claim to this world is as a usurper. Nothing Satan can do can change the finality of his defeat at. the cross.

The demons recognize Christ’s supreme authority over them (Mark 1:23-24; James 2:19) and believers share in this authority. Every sinner who comes to Christ is removed from Satan’s kingdom and transferred into Christ’s kingdom and the victory of the cross is magnified. While Satan continues to rule as a usurper, Christ has won the victory over Satan and those who belong to Christ share in this victory. While Satan was defeated at the cross the carrying out of the sentence is yet future.

In the meantime the spiritual forces of darkness are working to render Christ’s work on the cross ineffective for as many as possible. Now that his doom has been assured Satan has intensified his warfare against the church. Since the coming of Christ Satan has waged uninterrupted warfare against believers, seducing them to neglect the work that Christ has called us to do.

Today we are engaged in a spiritual war against a vicious and cruel pantheon of spiritual hosts of wickedness under the authority of the powerful and crafty Prince of darkness whose methods are lies and deception. This conflict brings us into a realm beyond human resources and we must depend on supernatural resources. Our confrontation with the supernatural powers under Satan that are arrayed against us is the logical conclusion of our belonging to Christ.

There are still battles to be fought. The victory over the powers of evil in principle has not yet been manifested. The Christian life is still spoken of in terms of warfare. The final outcome of this war has been settled, but there are still important battles to be fought and fighting these battles still defines the believer’s life. This is why the Scriptures give us so many images of believers as soldiers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE RAPTURE AND RESURRECTION OF BELIEVERS

THE RAPTURE AND RESURRECTION OF BELIEVERS

This is when believers who have died and are in heaven will receive resurrected and glorified bodies while those believers who are living at the time of the rapture will experience this change without first dying:

“I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain”(I Cor. 15: 50-58).

Here we are told that our physical bodies must be changed before we enter God’s kingdom. Paul is about to unveil a “mystery” to us. A mystery here does not mean something hard to figure out, but rather a truth not fully revealed until now. Here   we are told not all believers are going to die before this change takes place and that it can happen at any time, “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye”, instantaneously.

The rapture will bring about the completion of the believer’s salvation. The Bible presents two aspects of salvation. The believer in Christ is saved now: “It is by grace you HAVE been saved” (Eph. 2:5). The believer in Christ is saved NOW. He is no longer under condemnation and has become a child of God.

The Bible also presents a future aspect of salvation. This refers to the completion of salvation when our bodies are glorified. The believer has now been saved from the PENALTY of sin. This is referred to as the “firstfruits” of salvation. This is the present aspect of salvation. But there is a future aspect of salvation when we will be saved from the PRESENCE or EFFECTS of sin. This is presented in Rom. 8:22-23: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, THE REDEMPTION OF OUR BODIES”.

While believers are saved spiritually we still live in fallen bodies. While our redeemed spirits are connected to Christ, our present bodies are still connected to Adam and the fall. The word “firstfruits” means that we have received some of the benefits of salvation but more is to follow.

As the new birth is the impartation of eternal life to our spirits, the rapture and resurrection is the transformation of our bodies. We are told in Rom. 8:19: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be REVEALED. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God”.

Here we are told that all creation waits in eager anticipation for the sons of God to be revealed, or made known or obvious. All believers are now the sons of God but it is not known or obvious now. All creation waits for the glorification of the sons of God because this is the first step to the lifting of the curse from the whole creation.

While the believer is saved spiritually he groans within his fallen body for the completing of his salvation—his glorified, sinless, ageless, deathless body; a body that is designed for his redeemed spirit and renewed creation, and that can stand in the presence of God. The believer’s glorification is put on hold until we have finished our calling in this present life of bringing others into the kingdom.

The time of the rapture is unknown except for the fact that it is imminent. It can happen at any time. When Christ rose from the dead He began the order of the first resurrection (I Cor. 15:20). The “First resurrection” refers to believers, while the resurrection of the unsaved will occur a thousand years later at the Great White Throne Judgment seen in revelation 20: 11-15.

1 Cor. 15: 20-24 tells us: “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him. Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father”.

Christ’s resurrection from the dead is the “firstfruits” because those who believe in Him will follow Him in their own resurrected bodies that will be patterned after His resurrection. All believers will take part in this, the First Resurrection. All the unsaved will take part in the Second Resurrection, which will take place after the Millennium, when the unsaved are cast into the Lake of Fire. These two resurrections will encompass all mankind. Everyone will appear in one of these two resurrections.

Those who are IN Christ are destined to be LIKE Christ in His resurrection body. This is referred to in I John 3:2: “Dear friends, now are we the children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is”. When Christ comes in the rapture, He will bring with Him the souls of those in heaven who have died “in Christ”. He will stop in the air and these souls will continue down and enter into their bodies that are in the graves, the Lord will then give the command to rise and their bodies will rise from the graves, then they, and the believers who have not died, will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air. Their first sight of Christ will change their bodies to be like His glorious resurrected body:

“The Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so will we ever be with the Lord. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (I Thess. 4: 16-18).

Here in 4:16 we are told that the Lord will descend from heaven and He will bring with Him the souls those believers who have died with Him. The Lord will stop His descent in the air, while those saved souls with Him will continue to descend and will enter their bodies that are in the graves.

Then the Lord Jesus will give a “shout” of command which corresponds to the “loud voice” of Jesus in John 11:43 when the Lord raised Lazarus from the dead: “Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!” This is a foreshadowing of the great day when Jesus will call each believer by name to meet Him in the air. The “voice of the Archangel” is that of Michael, who will give the cry of triumph over the host of fallen angels who have sought to hinder the children of God. The trumpet call of God refers to a military command that awakens soldiers to arise and move on. We       are to move on to eternal realms with Him.

Continuing in verse 16, “The dead in Christ will rise first”. Their bodies shall rise up from the graves and stand on the earth with the living saints. In verse 17, both groups, those who have risen from their graves, and those living will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, where we will be with Him forever.

Everyone who shares in this great event will have heard the voice of the Son of God twice. Jesus said in John 5:25: “I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live”. Here the Lord is referring to a spiritual resurrection when the spiritually dead will be given eternal life. Then in John 5:28-29, the Lord goes on to refer to the physical resurrection: “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out . . .”.

All those who have heard the voice of the Lord calling them from darkness to light will one day hear His command to receive their glorified body. Today they have eternal life in their spirits. But their spirits still dwell in fallen bodies, but in due time God will remedy this.

Paul refers to this in II Cor. 4: 6-7. In verse 6 he writes , “For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ”. Here Paul refers to eternal life that every believer possesses. He goes on in verse 7: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us”.

Here we are told that believers have the treasure of eternal life in frail, fallen bodies (jars of clay) so He gets the glory. But the day is appointed when God will change these bodies to be fitting vessels for the treasure of eternal life.

The Holy Spirit’s indwelling is the assurance of the believer’s future glorification: “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you” (Rom. 8:11).

In I Cor. 15:42-49 a description of the resurrection body is given in great detail.

“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven”.

Here our dead bodies are likened to seed sown in the ground. It is sown or buried perishable, rotting, but it will be raised imperishable, not subject to decay, but eternal. It is sown in dishonor, food for worms, but it will be raised in glory, free from the defects of the curse and the fall and glorious like Christ’s resurrection body. It is sown in weakness, nothing is weaker than a dead body, it will be raised in power, not subject to death, disease, weakness, or weariness. It is sown a natural body, part of this fallen world, it will be raised a spiritual body, sinless and not part of this fallen world, and not subject to physical or natural laws.

Verses 45-50 contrast Adam with Christ, and those who are “in Adam” and those who are “In Christ”. Here Christ is called the “last Adam” because as the first Adam is the head of the old, fallen creation, Christ is the head of God’s new creation. Adam became a living soul, but through sin his life principle, which was passed on to his descendants, became corrupted and earthly and part of the fallen earthly system. But Christ is a life-giving spirit. Those who belong to Him receive His life through the new birth and are a new heavenly creation.

The first Adam is the head of the fallen race of the earth, “earthy” and all his descendants are also earthy, belonging to the present world system under condemnation. But Christ is the head of the new redeemed “heavenly” creation, and all who belong to Him are also heavenly, belonging to the new creation. But while believers are born again spiritually because of their living connection to Christ; they still possess fallen bodies that are still connected to Adam. So verse 49 tells us that as we have born the image of the fallen race in our physical bodies, we shall bear the image of Christ physically when our bodies are transformed at the rapture.

Verse 50 explains that this physical body must be changed in order to have part in the kingdom of God. Believers have been changed spiritually and at death their spirits go immediately to heaven but their bodies must await a change to make them fit for heaven.

Verse 51 tells us that not all believers will sleep or die (believers bodies are said to be asleep rather than dead because they will be awakened at the rapture). The generation of believers living at the time of the rapture will not die, but will be changed along with those who have died.

Verse 52 tells us that this change will take place instantaneously. The “twinkling of an eye” is the time it takes between seeing Jesus and recognizing Him. When a relative or close friend comes to your house and you open the door and see him you recognize him immediately, although it really took time between seeing him and recognizing him, but the time is so small as to be instantaneous. When we first see   Him and recognize Him we will be transformed into His image.

Verse 53 tells us that those believers whose bodies are perishable while in the             grave will be clothed with imperishable bodies; while the living believers who are mortal and subject to decay will receive immortal bodies. Then we are told in verses 54-55 that then death will forever be swallowed up in victory.

Then in verse 56-57 we are told how and why this will happen. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

The cause of death is sin: “Therefore just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin”(Rom. 5: 12).

The power of sin is the law: “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for anyone who believes” (Rom. 10: 4).

 

Another passage of Scripture dealing with the rapture is I Thess. 5: 1-10.

In I Thess. 4:13-18 Paul deals with the rapture itself and what would happen to those believers who have died. Now Paul would deal with the tribulation and its relation to the coming of the Rapture: “Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety’, destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

But you, brothers are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness, so then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (I Thess. 5: 1-10).

Here in verse 1 Paul tells them that there is no need to write to them when the Day of the Lord, or the tribulation, will take place. For they know perfectly well that no one knows the time for it will come as a thief in the night (verse 2). It will be a time when sudden destruction will come upon “them”, the unsaved (verse 3).

But believers are not in darkness that that day should overtake them. Believers are children of light and of the day, in contrast to “them” in verse 3, who are of the night and of darkness (verses 4-5). Eph. 5:8 reminds believers, “for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, live as children of light”. Believers were at one time in darkness, but by faith in Christ they are now light in the Lord”.

The world, in Adam, is in darkness and in the night. It is the time when people get drunk and sleep. It is fitting that unbelievers do these things because they are of the night and the tribulation will overtake them. It is a day of darkness for the children of the night. “Blow the trumpet in Zion, sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand—a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness” (Joel. 2:1-2).

However, believers are children of the day. People do not normally get drunk and sleep in the day, and believers should not imitate the unsaved (verse 7). They are stupefied by either sleep or drunkenness and unaware of their danger.                    6.

God did not appoint believers to suffer wrath. The context here is referring to the wrath of the tribulation. But God has appointed believers to salvation at the rapture (verses 9-10), before the tribulation and darkness overtakes the children of darkness. Christ died for us so that whether we are “awake” (living) or “sleep” (dead), refers to the living and the dead who will be raptured together.

We are told that on the night before Jesus was crucified, Judas went out from them into the night to betray the Lord and Jesus tells the rest of His disciples that they would all abandon Him, and Peter would deny Him three times that very night. But instead of thinking about Himself, the Lord’s concern was for His disciples.

In John 14:1-3 He says to them: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am”

Here in verses 2-3 Jesus uses the words of an oriental wedding to describe His relationship with His Bride, the Church.

The steps of an oriental wedding were:

1.Engagement. The Bridegroom was engaged to the bride by paying a Dowry.

I Cor. 6:20 says concerning believers, “you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

  1. Preparation for the marriage. The bridegroom would give a ring to his bride as a guarantee of marriage. It was a sign that she belonged to him alone. Eph. 4:30 says concerning believers, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you are SEALED for the day of redemption”. The seal is God’s sign of ownership. The bride would continue to live with her parents and the bridegroom would go to his father’s house to add on rooms for his bride’s coming.

In II Cor. 11: 2 Paul says of those he won to Christ, “I am jealous for you with a Godly jealousy. I promised you to one Husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him”.

  1. The marriage. When a place in the father’s house was prepared, the father of the bridegroom would say to his son: “Son, go get your bride!” Then the bridegroom would come for his bride and take her home to the father’s house.

First Jesus loved us. Then He paid the dowry on the cross. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed . . . . . but with the precious blood of Christ” (I Pet. 1:18). The sign of this engagement is the Holy Spirit given to the believer as a “deposit” or “guarantee” of marriage. “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory” (Eph.1: 13-14).

After His resurrection the Lord returned to His Father’s house to prepare a place for us. Believers do not each have their own mansion in heaven. The truth is far more precious, there is only one mansion—the Father’s house, in which Jesus is preparing rooms for His children.

When these rooms in the Father’s house are prepared, the Lord will return to receive His loved ones in the rapture and take them to the Father’s house. After the rapture of believers the tribulation will take place on earth while believers will be appear before the Judgment of Christ to receive rewards for service. Salvation is through faith in Christ alone, but rewards are for service done for Christ after being saved. Paul sums up the teaching on the rapture in light of our appearing before the Judgment Seat of Christ for rewards:

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (I Cor. 15: 58).

Prophecy in the Bible is not given to satisfy curiosity but to motivate us to live holy lives of service and devotion for God. Note how the following exhortations are connected with the Lord’s coming for believers:

Col. 3:1-4: “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory”.

Titus 2:11-14: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and purify for Himself those that are His very own, eager to do what is good”.

I Thess. 3:12-13: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone one else, just as ours does for you. May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of God the Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all His holy ones”

These passages teach that the truth of the Lord’s coming for His own should motivate us to be heavenly minded and separate ourselves from the things of this world. We are to be unyielding in our faithfulness to God, and encourage other believers to do the same. We are to be zealous of good works and be prepared at all times to witness to others and win them to Christ.

Believers are not of this world but part of the new creation, but we are left here among the old creation to represent the new. Believers are IN this world, but not OF

This world. In John 17:14-18, we are allowed to eavesdrop on the prayer of Jesus to the Father on behalf of those who belong to Him: “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

So we see that believers are not OF this world, even as Jesus is not of this world. Jesus is the Head of the new creation and believers are “in Christ” and therefore members of the new creation. But we are left in this world as ambassadors for Christ to represent the kingdom of God. When God calls His ambassadors home at the rapture, He will declare war on this world.

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body” (Phil. 3:20-21).

God’s Care for his People

God’s care for His people

Job 14:1 tells us: “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble”, and Job 5:7 says: “Yet man is born to trouble as surely as the sparks fly upward”. One of the reasons Jesus came was to give rest to burdened humanity: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11: 28-30).

Jesus offers to exchange burdens with us: He will take our cares and burdens and give us rest while giving us His yoke which is easy and His burden which is light because He is carrying it with us.

We are wandering sheep and we need Him as our good and faithful Shepherd. We are sinners and need His righteousness. We are naked and need His holiness as a covering. We are ignorant and need His teaching. We are foolish and need His guidance. We are frightened and need His presence. We are doubtful and need His assurance. We are poor and He is rich. When we are accused by Satan, He is our defense attorney. When we are in trouble He is our help. When we are forsaken He is our supporter. When we are persecuted He is our reward. When we die He is our Life. When we are worn out and cannot go on, He is our strength. When we are discouraged He is our Encouragement.

“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).

As believer’s we are “In Christ”. Before we were saved we were “in Adam” sharing in everything with the fallen creation and under condemnation with the rest of the world. When we believed in Christ, God removed us from our position “in Adam” and placed us into a new position “in Christ” sharing in everything with Jesus Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (II Cor. 5: 17).

The believer is identified with Christ: “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4). His Father is our Father. We share the same life. He dwells in us through the Holy Spirit and we are one with Him in life, related to Him as the branch is to the vine (John 15: 5). From the moment of the new birth we have new life, spiritual life, the life of Christ. God the Father looks upon the believer as one with His Son.

“Near, so very near to God, nearer I cannot be,

For in the person of His Son, I’m just as near as He.

Dear, so very dear to God, dearer I cannot be,

For in the Person of His Son, I’m just as dear as He”.

Our identification with Christ leads to great privileges, but also to great responsibilities. Christ, God’s only begotten Son is heir to all the father’s possessions, and we, being one with Christ, are joint heirs with Him. We shall also inherit His future glory: “Dear friends now are we the children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (I John 3:2).

Our identification with Christ also brings great responsibilities. In II Cor. 5:17-21 we read: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’.

Here we are told that all those who are “in Christ” are new creations with a new relationship to God. Things concerning the believer’s old life before he was saved are passed away. All his old relationships to Adam and the world are gone as all things are made new. All his new relationships are now from God who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ. Part of these new things is a new purpose in life, it is the “ministry of reconciliation”, the message of which is that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, and that God is not counting men’s sins against them who will trust in Christ.

So all believers are born again and are new creations and have been given the ministry of reconciliation. Those who have been reconciled to God have been given the ministry of reconciling others to God. We are Christ’s Ambassadors and God is using us to make His appeal to the unsaved to be reconciled to God.

As believers in Christ we are to begin immediately some form of ministry to our unsaved family members, friends and neighbors. It may be to invite them to church or Bible study, or perhaps to watch a Christian video. We should have a prayer list of family members and friends we want to reach for Christ. We should pray for our churches and pastors and other ministries as well as missionaries. We should all have those we pray for regularly. Then we must witness to those in our sphere of influence. This is our calling as Christians. Even as shut-ins and bedridden believers we can have an important ministry for Christ. It is not our inabilities that God looks at, but what abilities we do have. We must never think that our sphere of influence is not important to God. There are those in our sphere of influence that no one else can reach but us.

By praying for ministers, missionaries and evangelists, we can have a far- reaching impact for Christ. We are exhorted in Scripture to: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things we be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).

As God’s children we also have the privilege of bringing all our needs to God. In Phil.4: 4-7 we are exhorted: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV).

Here the Greek word for “Gentleness” Means “self-control”—not falling apart from worrying about our circumstances. The reason for this peace is that: “the Lord is near”, and is waiting for us to call on Him in prayer. The Children of God are not to be anxious about anything. This does not mean that we are not to care about anything, for the believer is to care about the things that God cares about. It does not forbid our being concerned, for we are to be concerned about many things in the Christian life. What is forbidden is the fearful anxiety that robs us of our peace in the Lord.

No sleepless, fearful fretting, as though the Lord were not nearby and promised to answer prayer. This is the secret of having the peace of God that is beyond all understanding. God is always at hand in time of need. Before He left to return to the Father, Jesus left us His peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14: 27). Notice that the peace He gives is not like the peace the world gives. It is His own peace that He gives us” “My peace I give you”. Therefore we are not to be troubled or afraid.

This is what Jesus promised His anxious disciples as He was about to leave them and go back to the Father: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). HE promised “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you”. The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid, what can man do to me?” (Heb.13: 5-6).

It is sad how many Christians are constantly burdened with care and anxiety. They worry about tomorrow as though they have no heavenly Father who loves them and promised to care for them. We should not have any trouble trusting God about anything else after He has already given us salvation: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8: 31-32).

Here, God assures us, by giving us the greater thing that He will not neglect the lesser things! He has given His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the greatest gift that even God can, so how can we doubt that He will also give us all things.

Many Christians are like the man who was trudging down the road carrying a heavy load on his back. Someone in a pick up truck stops and offers him a ride. So he climbs in the back still carrying his heavy load on his back. He foolishly carries his load on his back, when the driver was graciously willing to carry, not only the man but his burden as well.

God has freely given us eternal life through the death and resurrection of His Son. Saving us from hell and carrying us on to heaven, riding freely by His grace. He wants not only to carry us but also our burdens! We are urged in I Peter 5:7 to: “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you”.

Notice two words in PHIL.4:6: “Do not be anxious about ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God”. There are no circumstances where God cannot meet every need. Everything that can cause fear and anxiety can be conquered by God’s promise to answer prayer, the little things as well as the big things that bother us. If they are big enough to worry about they are big enough to pray about.

Christ is the answer to every need of the Christian. He is greater than all the troubles of this world. He said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16: 33).

The one thing in the world the child of God should grieve about is sin. Sin grieves the heart of God and hinders the Holy Spirit in our lives and blocks the believer’s fruit-bearing for God. Sin in the believer’s life is the worst form of trouble. But the child of God need not be weighed down from grieving the Holy Spirit and bitter defeat.

Christ is the remedy for the anxiety and sorrow caused by sin. The Holy Spirit will not allow the believer to forget that he belongs to God and will cause you bitter grief over your sin. But God has not forgotten you and says to you “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Rom. 5:20). And God’s overflowing grace will cover confessed and forsaken sin. He will forgive it and blot it out.

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ the Righteous One” (I John 2:1).

Our all-wise, loving heavenly Father longs for us to simply trust Him. He wants us to bring all our burdens and fears and concerns to Him, and commit our lives to His care.

In Isaiah 40:28-31 says: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They shall soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.

There is a way for weak Christians to be strong; the tired, discouraged and defeated Christian to be victorious every day. God has placed infinite resources at the disposal of every child of God. God’s people can, if they will trust in the Lord, and bring all their needs to Him in trusting prayer, renew their strength. They can soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint”.

Without this source of supernatural strength we could only have defeat and failure, “for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).

We were not created to succeed on our own. God wanted a relationship of love and dependence on Him with His creation. We do not have to fret and worry. We have a Father in heaven who loves us and wants to show Himself strong in our behalf. He knows each one of His blood-bought people and their needs. He watches over us so closely that “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matt. 10:30).

We are told in Prov. 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight”.

The believer is to follow God’s leading in His word, and if it contradicts our way of thinking we are to trust in His word rather than our own understanding. In every area of our lives we are to give heed to what He says in His Word.

It can be compared to a pilot following the instruments in his plane, which is vital. Sometimes a pilot will get disoriented and become confused because his instruments seem to contradict all his experience as a pilot. Some pilots have followed their own instincts and disregarded the planes instruments which can lead to disaster. This is also true of believers who think they can disregard the instructions of the Bible and lean on their own understanding.

We can entrust our lives to Him. Storms will come and Satan will oppose us, circumstances may seem impossible, but God will bring us through. God does not promise us an easy life. He said: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).