Hymn: Be Thou My Vision
The Management of the Universe
The Near Future of our Planet
Your God is Way Too Small
Two Thousand years ago, Jesus announced to His disciples that He would build a Glorious Church. Through this ekklesia He would rule the nations--and the universe. After His resurrection out from among the dead, Jesus trained His disciples to extend their vision to encompass the world, not merely Israel. Today's news, today's lawlessness, soaring crime rate, runaway inflation --ought to drive people to God, but sadly today's planetary citizens are mostly in denial.
The church which Jesus has been building behind the scenes is not synonymous with the visible church. She, the apparent church of Christendom, still contains both wheat and tares. A great counterfeit or harlot church, deceiving many, is in the seat of what seems to many to be delegated power from the Almighty God, on earth, at the present hour. The United States, for instance is home for a community of 30% professing Christians while a closer look shows that the believing remnant is probably only 5-10%. Many followers of Jesus these days meet in homes or small outdoor groups, many can't afford the luxury of a meeting house.
But Jesus is the Supreme Commander of everyone, whether people know Him or not. Today He occupies the highest office in the cosmos, with "principalities and powers subject to Him." The grand coups and takeover by Jesus is not happening all at once--unless you happen to die today. In that case the big picture will be suddenly clear.
God's strategic plan, since the beginning, involved the death by crucifixion of His Son, Jesus. This was to be followed inexorably by the resurrection and ascension of the Second Adam. Jesus as He is now can be seen, for example, in Paul's letter to the Ephesians and the First Chapter of the Book of the Revelation. The New Testament has many other references to the present office and future program of Jesus. The return of Jesus is also stated clearly in the New Testament.
"Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:6-11)
THE LETTER OF PAUL TO THE
Ephesians Chapter One
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance,having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
"For in Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us.
And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it." (Colossians 2:9-15)
Who is an Overcomer
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:1-5)
Seven representative churches in the world, since AD 30 till now, have represented Jesus in seven different life styles. Each Church has had its season of greatest influence under the sun, yet all seven existed in the First Century, and all seven still exist today. It is true that the general state of the church of Jesus Christ today is now Laodicean. As an individual Christian today, perhaps attending a particular local church, you personally may have some different beliefs compared to the stated beliefs of your local assembly. Your core beliefs define which of the seven churches you identify with the most. If you have never belonged to a local church, read the descriptors of each of the seven churches. You will probably find which group best fits best. But know what you believe in your heart and mind--ignorance is not bliss! It's not a good idea to be a Lone Ranger Christian all alone in a hostile world.
The letters from Jesus, the Head of the Church, to each church, are found in Revelation Chapters 2 and 3. Many commentaries have been written. Ray Stedman's Revelation: The End -- and a New Beginning, is excellent and online.
The Apostolic Age 32-100 AD
32-100 AD (~70 years, 2 generations, assuming 40 years per generation). Total Christians from this church in history past: Assume 5% of 300 million per generation or 30 million. The total world population at this time in history was about 300 million. Perhaps 10% is a better guess? From 100 AD until now perhaps x millions have come under the umbrella of this church. Since 100 AD the total number of people who have lived on earth has numbered about 7 billion. (This is the total integrated area under the population growth curve above).
The Persecuted Church
160-320 AD (~160 years, 4 generations). Total Christians from this church in history past: The total world population at this time was about 300 million. From ~320 AD until now perhaps x millions have come under the umbrella of this church. Since 320 AD the total number of people who have lived on earth has numbered about 7 billion. (This is the total integrated area under the population growth curve).
The Medieval Church
320-600 AD (~280 years, 7 generations). Total Christians from this church in history past: The total world population at this time was about 350 million. From 600 AD until now perhaps x millions have come under the umbrella of this church. Since 100 AD the total number of people who have lived on earth has numbered about ~7 billion. (This is the total integrated area under the population growth curve).
The Catholic and Eastern Church
300-1500 AD (~1200 years, 30 generations). Total Christians from this church in history past: The total world population at this time was about 400 million. From 1500 AD until now perhaps x millions have come under the umbrella of this church. Since 100 AD the total number of people who have lived on earth has numbered about 7 billion. (This is the total integrated area under the population growth curve).
The Church of the Reformation
1500-1650 AD (~150 years, 4 generations). Total Christians from this church in history past: The total world population at this time was about 450 million. From 1650 AD until now perhaps x millions have come under the umbrella of this church. Since 100 AD the total number of people who have lived on earth has numbered about 7 billion. (This is the total integrated area under the population growth curve).
The Evangelical Church
1850-1930 AD (~80 years, 2 generations).Total Christians from this church in history past: 5% of 500 million times 2, or 200 million. The total world population at this time was about 500 million. From 1930 AD until now perhaps x millions have come under the umbrella of this church. Since 100 AD the total number of people who have lived on earth has numbered about 7 billion. (This is the total integrated area under the population growth curve).
The Church at the End of the Age
1930-present (~90 years, 3 generations).Total Christians from this church in history till now, 5% of 3 billion times 3 or 450 million. The total world population at this time averaged was about 3 billion. From 1930 AD until now perhaps x millions have come under the umbrella of this church.
Note: By far the greatest number of people added to the true church have come to Christ in the past 200 years, assuming a fixed percent are saved in every generation (I assumed 5%). This assumption may be incorrect. But the true church seems to be bottom heavy in time. This assumption may be incorrect. Noah announced the free gift of God for 110 years prior to the Flood, gaining, apparently only eight followers. True converts to Christ the days seem to be few and far between.
Each letter to each church contains words of commendation, corrective advice and challenges to "overcomers" in each assembly. See The Seven Churches in New Jerusalem
Ephesus: “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”
Smyrna: “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” ’
Pergamos: “To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”
Thyatira: “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Sardis: “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Philadelphia: "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron;
They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Laodicea: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
These promises to "overcomers" are stupendous! Every church since the beginning has had qualified men and women who are overcomers. They therefore will inherit their set of promises when the true church is unveiled for all to see, at the Second Advent of Jesus. Remember, the church Jesus has been building, has billions of members from every tribe and nation and from every generation (~50 generations total).
Previously I had assumed that only seven select men--bishops, popes, apostles, what have you, would be overseers over the seven composite churches described in Revelation 3 4. My friend James Fielder called my attention today to the reality that millions of Christians down through the past two thousand years of church history have been overcomers! This makes great sense! I've never been fond of Popes, Bishops and many Pastors anyway, I respect spiritually mature brothers and sisters.
In the Song of Solomon the Bride of Christ is depicted wonderfully,
And abrupt break occurs in the Book of the Revelation just after the Letters to the Seven Churches.
"After these things I (John) looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this. Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne... And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?”
And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.
But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”
And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:
“Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever. (Revelation Chapter 5)
Note the reference here to Jesus reigning with His Bride in a future day--something that is guaranteed to happen in history. God "says what He means, and means what He says."
"Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him." (Proverbs 30:5)
Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: “That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged.” (Romans 3:4)
Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.
But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man (John Mark?) heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”
So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration (paliggenesia) when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. “But many who are first will be last, and the last first." (Matthew 19)
The Management of the Universe
An precedent concerning a transfer of power in the kingdom of God is found in the demotion of a high government official during the administration of King David recorded in Isaiah 22.
See Three Stewards over God's House: Shebna, Eliakim, and Jesus.
"I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David. What he opens, no one can shut, and what he shuts, no one can open." (Isaiah 22:17)
This historical incident during the days David was King of Israel, foreshadows a future power transfer by Jesus in addressing the Church of Philadelphia. Jesus refers back to the above passage in Isaiah and applies it to Himself:
"I am the one who shuts and no one can open, and opens and no one can shut."
"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, These things says He who is holy, He who is true, 'He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens': 'I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 'Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie--indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 'Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 'Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
'He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" (Revelation 3:7-13)
God's will cannot be opposed. He governs the events of history on earth. He will open some doors; he will close other doors. What he opens no one can shut, what he shuts, no one can open. No human power can contravene what He determines. Now He tells the church how He will use this power to open and shut. In effect, Jesus, our Creator and Lord, will share His throne with His Bride, the true Church.
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
His delight is in the fear of the LORD,
And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
And faithfulness the belt of His waist.
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea.
“And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious.”
It shall come to pass in that day
That the Lord shall set His hand again the second time
To recover the remnant of His people who are left,
From Assyria and Egypt,
From Pathros and Cush,
From Elam and Shinar,
From Hamath and the islands of the sea.
He will set up a banner for the nations,
And will assemble the outcasts of Israel,
And gather together the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.
Also the envy of Ephraim shall depart,
And the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off;
Ephraim shall not envy Judah,
And Judah shall not harass Ephraim.
But they shall fly down upon the shoulder of the Philistines toward the west;
Together they shall plunder the people of the East;
They shall lay their hand on Edom and Moab;
And the people of Ammon shall obey them.
The LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt;
With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River,
And strike it in the seven streams,
And make men cross over dryshod.
There will be a highway for the remnant of His people
Who will be left from Assyria, As it was for Israel
In the day that he came up from the land of Egypt.
Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?
For all those things My hand has made,
And all those things exist,”
Says the Lord.
“But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word. (Isaiah 66:1-2)
“However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says:
‘Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
What house will you build for Me? says the Lord,
Or what is the place of My rest?
Has My hand not made all these things?’ (Acts 7:48-50)
"We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." (Hebrews 8:1)
“...But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:63-64)
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
“Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven...” (Hebrews 8:1)
“...looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
The Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy, 1000 years after the time of David said,
"Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
This is a faithful saying:
For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him. If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him,
He also will deny us. If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.(2 Timothy 2:9-13)
Finally, two more references to the true church, the Bride of Christ, reigning with Jesus are found at the close of the Book of the Revelation.
1. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ,
and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
2. "...there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. Then he said to me, “These words are-faithful and true.” And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place" (Revelation 22).
And: The Second Psalm is also highly relevant!
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