“Taken Up in Glory”

This is the last in a series of posts, beginning on December 12, where we have examined the six great truths about Jesus Christ from First Timothy 3:16, “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: / He who was revealed in the flesh, / Was vindicated in the Spirit, / Seen by angels, / Proclaimed among the nations, / Believed on in the world, / Taken up in glory.”

His ascension

“…He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19); “…He parted from them [His disciples] and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51); “…He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9; see Psalm 68:18; Acts 1:1-2, 22; Hebrews 4:14; 9:24; 1 Peter 3:22).

Two great promises

Two angels appeared to the disciples as they watched Him ascend. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10-11).

The second promise is directly related to the first: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

He who ascended will someday return. Then those He has redeemed will themselves ascend. “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).

“But we believe . . . .”

“We walked not with the chosen few, / Who saw Thee from the earth ascend; / Who raised to heav’n their wond’ring view, /  Then low to earth all prostrate bend; / But we believe that human eyes / Beheld that journey to the skies” (Anne Richter, “We Saw Thee Not”).

“The story of Jesus begins in heaven and ends in heaven. He lived as a servant; He was branded as a criminal; He was crucified on a cross; He rose with the nailprints still upon Him; but the end is glory” (Wm. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, 105).

Jesus raised-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Our Common Ancestor


From time to time we hear that Noah’s ark has been sighted. While I seriously doubt it, I have no doubts about the historicity of the biblical account.

The biblical account of the Flood is accepted as historical by none other than Jesus Himself (Matthew 24:37-39). Three times Peter referred to the Flood as historical (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5; 3:3-7). Are we prepared to take the position that Jesus and Peter were mistaken?

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews cites Noah, along with other examples of faith such as Abraham, Moses, and David. The point is, you don’t mix legendary characters with historical and treat them all the same.

Noah is treated as historical in Isaiah 54:9 and Ezekiel 14:14, 20. Noah is included in the genealogies recorded in 1 Chronicles 1:4 and Luke 3:36.

Father of us all

When we research our family tree we’ll find some scoundrels among them. But God told Noah, “. . . you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time” (Genesis 7:1).

We think things are bad now, and indeed they are, but the evil of Noah’s day surpasses ours (Genesis 6:5, 11-12). It was so bad that God saved only eight people from the Flood that destroyed all the rest.

Because of the exceeding wickedness of that age, Noah’s righteous character stands out as all the more exemplary.

What a task God gave Noah! He was to build a ship 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet tall. Even without power tools he did it. Surely he must have grown weary at times. Although it doesn’t say so, likely his neighbors mocked his efforts.

What kept him going, year in and year out, until the ark was seaworthy? At least two factors: 1) his faith in God and 2) his love for his family. “By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household . . .” (Hebrews 11:7).

History repeated

According to Peter, there is a dramatic parallel to Noah’s Flood, and that is the future destruction of all things by fire (2 Peter 3:3-14). In view of this eventuality do we have the spirit of our ancestor Noah?

Like Noah, we have been “warned by God about things not yet seen.” Will we respond in obedient faith, as Noah did (1 Peter 3:20-21), or will we be like his unworthy contemporaries?

The choice is ours.


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Taking a Closer Look at the Rapture

shoes left behind-tagged

The bumper sticker read, “Get Right or Get Left.” In the upper left-hand corner of the sticker was a Bible reference: 1 Thessalonians 4:17. This passage says, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

A popular teaching

According to the premillennial doctrine of the Rapture, Christ will first come only for His own. The righteous dead will be raised and they, along with the righteous living, will be caught up to meet Christ in the air. The Latin translation of “caught up” in this passage is rapiemur, and it is from this word that the term Rapture comes.

Many believe that when Christ comes, those who are unprepared will be left wondering what happened to all those who suddenly vanished into thin air! In other words, the bumper sticker means: Get right with God, or you will miss the Rapture and be left here on earth.

What the Bible says

“Get Right or Get Left” may be clever, but it is scriptural? Certainly Jesus is coming to claim His own, but on that same occasion He will deal with the unrighteous. All the dead will be raised on the same day (John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15).

It’s been rightly observed that the same expression “in [or at] the last day” is used of both the resurrection of the righteous and the judgment of those who reject Christ (John 6:39-40; 12:48).

Some passages discuss the destiny of both the wicked and the righteous (e.g., Matthew 25:31-46), while other passages deal with only the one or the other. The text referred to on the bumper sticker focuses only on the blessedness of the righteous at Christ’s coming. Writing to the same church, Paul discusses the destiny of the wicked, as well as the righteous (1 Thessalonians 5:1-10; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).

The Rapture has captured the interest of millions, especially as it is portrayed in highly dramatic novels and movies.

Let’s make sure what we believe about His coming is really what His word actually says.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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What Do We Know?

Here’s a multiple-choice question:

What do we know about the future?

A) Everything

B) Nothing

C) Something

D) None of the above

If you picked C, you’re right! If it weren’t for the Bible, we would know nothing about the future. While much of what lies ahead is known only to God, He has drawn back the veil just enough for us to know all we need to know about the end of the age.

Christ will suddenly return (we don’t know when). The dead will be raised. The earth will be destroyed. Judgment will take place. Eternity begins.

Unlike stock market projections and weather forecasts, what the Bible says about the Day of the Lord is not mere guesswork, a possibility, or even a probability. The End is certain─just as certain as the integrity of God’s promises. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:17-19).

What we do with what we know

And why does God reveal these things to us regarding the future? Certainly not to satisfy our curiosity, but rather to help us know with certainty what to expect so we can be well prepared for it. The New Testament equips us be ready for these eventualities.

We must keep in a state of readiness, always active in His service (Matthew 24:42-51). We must be prepared to give an account (Romans 14:10-12). In view of the destruction of the material order, we must live holy, godly lives (2 Peter 3:10-14). And then help others get ready for that Great Day (Acts 17:30-31; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11).

Living in a state of readiness, we can look forward to that Day. We’re going home! No more death or pain! We will be with Christ! Reunion with our loved ones! (2 Corinthians 5:6-9; Revelation 21:4; Philippians 1:23; 1 John 3:2-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Yes, we do know something!


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Living Between the Two Great Days

One day is history. The other is yet to come. Both relate to Christ. And both are designed to have a tremendous impact on how we live today.

On a certain day in the past Jesus died on the cross.

Emphasis is usually given to the forgiveness His death brings. We hear less about how His death calls for us to make a total change in the way we live. A balanced view of the cross includes both.

As Peter wrote, “. . . He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus’ death does bring us forgiveness. But as Paul wrote, “. . . He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:15; see Titus 2:14).

On a certain day in the future Jesus will come again.

Referring to earth’s destruction by fire at Christ’s coming, Peter writes, “Since all these things are to be destroyed, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness . . . . But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless . . .” (2 Peter 3:11, 13-14; see 1 John 3:2-3).

In the meantime . . . .

God knew we would need a lot of motivation to turn from doing our will to His. And so He provides us with these two pinnacle events to spur us to make the right choices.

Out of gratitude for His cross we put sin behind us and live righteously. And in view of His coming we want Him to find us ready!

We look back to the cross and we look forward to His return. His death made our salvation possible; His return will bring our salvation to completion.

And so may our lives reflect our deep appreciation for all Jesus has done and will do for us—as we live between these two great days.

cross at sunset-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Last Sunrise Over Sodom


Sunrises come so routinely, so . . . daily.

Would we take a sunrise lightly if we knew it was our last?

The sun had risen over the earth . . . . Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven . . .” (Genesis 19:23-24, emphasis added).

Did they suspect it was their last sunrise?

“. . . they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling . . . it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:28-30).

Some sunrise will be our last—either the day Jesus comes or the day we die.

So shouldn’t we live this day as if it were our last?

It could well be.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Being Content Not to Know

Have you ever felt the urge to open a door marked “Private”? Some things are not for us to know.

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).


What we know/what we don’t know

God has revealed some things about the end times. Christ will come, but we don’t know when (Matthew 24:36). Yet that doesn’t seem to stop date-setters.

Regarding our immediate future, “. . . you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow” (James 4:14). Crystal-ball gazing, palm-reading, and horoscopes are out of bounds for the Christian.

From knowing to doing

That which God has revealed was not given to satisfy our curiosity. He revealed it so we could do it.

In doing it we are blessed (James 1:25).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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