The Standard

The Greek word stauros means ‘stake’, ‘pole’ or ‘post’; but it is always  translated ‘cross’ in the New Testament. When a banner or image is attached to a pole, it becomes a standard. This is the imagery from the Old Testament that Yeshua uses to teach on His purpose.

And as Moses lifted up the (brass) serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:14, 15.

Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death He should die.                                                                                                                                John 12:31-33.

The standard of Christ is a simple statement:

“Death before sin!”

They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives even in the face of death.                                                               Revelation 12:11.

You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.                                           Hebrews 12:4.

Following the Standard

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.                                                                                                                                      Mark 8:34.

This statement makes no sense until translating stauros correctly, and becomes ‘pulls up his stakes and follows me’. Now we find a statement familiar in all ages as an expression of someone leaving his permanent dwelling to follow the Lord. This has been The Standard from the origins of Messiah.

Now the Lord had said to Abram: Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.                                                          Genesis 12:1.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;  for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.                                                                  Hebrews 11:8-10.

The Heavenly Hope

But Yeshua said to him, “No one who has put his hand to the plow and looked back is fit for the kingdom of God.”                                                                                                             Luke 9:62.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.  And truly if they had called to mind that from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly homeland. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.                                                                                                                               Hebrews 11:13-16.

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.                                                                                                                                    1 Peter 2:11

To abstain is only accomplished by abiding in the promised Holy Spirit.

Three testimonies from 1 John 3:

Whoever abides in Him does not sin. V.6.

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. V.9.

Now those who keep His commandments abide in Him, and He in them. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit He has given us. V.24.

The Standard of Christ is love

He has brought me to the banquet house and his banner ( ‘standard’) over me is love.    SS 2:4.

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers and sisters. The one who does not love abides in death.  By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.            1 John 3:14, 16.

To make the cross an icon of the church is to repeat what Israel did with the bronze serpent from the wilderness. It became an idol in Israel which was destroyed by Hezekiah hundreds of years later.

He removed the high places, and broke the images, and cut down the groves, and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan(that brass thing).                             2 Kings 18:4.

You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.                                                                             Exodus 20:4.

The Cross represents The Standard for Paul

For the message of ‘The Standard’ is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.                                                                                     1 Corinthians 1:18.

As for me, brothers and sisters, if I still proclaim circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case, the stumbling block of  ‘The Standard’ has been eliminated. Galatians 5:11.

Those wanting to look good outwardly are trying to force you to be circumcised—only so they will not be persecuted for ‘The Standard’ of Messiah.                                        Galatians 6:12.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in ‘The Standard’ of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.                                     Galatians 6:14.

He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, death now ‘The Standard’.      Philippians 2:8.

For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of ‘The Standard’ of Christ.                                                                     Philippians 3:18.

The Standard for Life: Crucified with Christ

For if we have become joined together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also will be joined together in His resurrection,  knowing our old man was crucified with Him so that the sinful body might be done away with, so we no longer serve sin.  For he who has died is set free from sin.                                                                                                         Romans 6:5-7.

Now those who belong to Messiah have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.                                                                                                                           Galatians 2:20.

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.                                                                                       Romans 6:22.

Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on 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.

The Standard Banner of Salvation

The Lord their God will save them in that day, as the flock of His people. For they shall be like the jewels of a crown, lifted like a banner over His land.                                   Zechariah 9:16

When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.                                                                                                                                        Isaiah 59:19.

You have given a banner to those who fear You, that it may be displayed for the truth. Psalm 60:4.

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.                               Isaiah 11:10.

Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.                                         Isaiah 62:10.

Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.                                                                                           Isaiah 49:22

All Authority

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.                                                                                 Matthew 28:18.

They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”                                                                                                              Mark 1:27.

Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven; or to say, Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk?  But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins; He said to the paralytic, I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.                                                                                                 Mark 2:9-11.

And the devil said to Him, “I’ll give to You all this authority along with its glory, because it has been handed over to me and I can give it to anyone I wish.    Luke 4:6.

But I will show you whom you should fear. Fear the One who, after the killing, has authority to cast into Gehenna.                                                                 Luke 12:5.

Day after day when I was with you in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the authority of darkness are yours.                                     Luke 22:53.

Also He has given the Son authority to judge, because He is the Son of Man.  John 5:27.

For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life, so that I may take it up again. No one takes it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father.                                                                                                     John 10:17,18.

So Pilate said to Him, You aren’t speaking to me? Don’t You know that I have the authority to release You, and I have the authority to crucify You? Yeshua answered, You would have no authority over Me if it hadn’t been given to you from above. For this reason, the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.     John 19:10,11.

He answered them, It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority.                                                            Acts 1:7.

To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.                                   Acts 26:18.

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same.                                                               Romans 13:1-3.

For even if I boast a little more about our authority which the Lord gave for building you up and not for tearing you down,  I will not be put to shame.       2 Corinthians 10:8.

At that time, you walked in the way of this world, in conformity to the ruler of the domain of the air—the ruler of the spirit who is now operating in the sons of disobedience.                                                                                              Ephesians 2:2.

He rescued us from the domain of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son whom He loves.                                                                                          Colossians 1:13.

To the one who overcomes and guards My deeds until the end, I will give him authority over the nations and he shall rule them with an iron rod, as when clay pots are broken into pieces.                                                                                                 Revelations 2:26,27.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.                                                                                                                              Revelations 12:10.

The Day of the Lord

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.                                                                                                                    2 Peter 3:10.

Woe to you who long  for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light, pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness? I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me.                     Amos 5:18-21.

You have not gone up into the gaps, nor made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. (A Remembrancer)                  Ezekiel 13:5.

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.                 1 Corinthians 5:4 & 5.

For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your recompense shall return upon your own head.                Obadiah 1:15.

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.                                                                                                           1 Thessalonians 5:2.

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.                                                                           Joel 3:14.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood,  before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.                                 Acts 2:20.

The sun shall be turned into darkness,and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.                                          Joel 2:31.

For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low.     Isaiah 2:12.

Alas for the day, for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as destruction from the Almighty.                                                                                        Joel 1:15.

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.                                                                           Malachi 4:5.

You have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as you also are our’s in the day of the Lord Jesus.                                                2 Corinthians 1:14.

A Lover of Hospitality

Be a lover of hospitality. Titus 1:8.
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9.

For many people the mention of hospitality calls to mind Martha Stewart more than the gospels. While it is worthy to mention the value of opening your home to others, there is a bit more being conveyed in these words. The word being translated hospitality actually means loving kindness to strangers. And the word strangers refers to resident aliens, minorities, and sojourners in the land. In other words, these scriptures are dealing with the age old problem of ethnicity, prejudice and racism. Do you really think that will ever be properly dealt with outside of Christ?

To demonstrate this truth, let’s start with a narrative from Luke 17 where Jesus is met by 10 lepers seeking their healing. He orders them to go show themselves to the priests. As they departed they discover that they have been cleansed and one of them returns to glorify God in giving thanks before the Lord’s feet, and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus comments “there are none found that returned to give glory to God, besides this stranger.”  Luke 17:18.

The Samaritans were the despised people living among the most despised people in history, and are enshrined in the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ by the words “Good Samaritan”. These strangers stand out among the members of society by whose treatment the Lord will judge the nations. Matthew 25:31-46.

So what does the Law and the Prophets have to say about this thorny topic? Let’s consider this survey:

You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.   Exodus 22:21.
Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.    Exodus 23:9.
The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.          Leviticus 19:34.
One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly and for the stranger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord. One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you.    Numbers 15:14, 15.
He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.          Deuteronomy 10:18, 19.
Do not let the son of the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord speak saying “The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”. Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants. Even them I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations. The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him others besides those who are gathered to him.”       Isaiah 56:1-8.
Thus says the Lord: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.  Jeremiah 22:3.
The people of the land have used oppression, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger.      Ezekiel 22:29.                        And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.  Malachi 3:5.

So we see beyond the prophets condemning society’s injustice, a Law given to Moses that was acutely concerned for the rights of strangers. How then did this wall of separation come to exist that Paul speaks of in his letter to the Ephesians?
At that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Ephesians  2:12.

How could this be true when the Law of Moses had made every accommodation for the foreigner who desired to seek the Lord? In verse 15 he says that the enmity was created by the law of commandments in ordinances: nomos entole en dogma. This expression refers to what Jesus referred to as the traditions and rules of men undermining the Word of God. Because of the mutual hatred and distrust that existed between the Jew and all of
the neighboring societies, no Jew would even sit at a table and eat a meal with a gentile. This is something that even the apostle Peter was called out on by Paul, the apostle for the gentiles. In contrast, Jesus always ate with publicans and sinners.

Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was  to be blamed; before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?”      Galatians 2:11-1.

Even though he had fully embraced the gentile as a fellow believer when the Lord had given him a vision that corrected his views in Acts chapter 10, his fear of men resulted in hypocrisy.
Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful (Pharisee) it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Acts 10:28.
And finally he concludes: Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with him. Acts 10:34, 35.
As an elder of the first church in Jerusalem, Peter was very familiar with the complications of a Jewish/gentile fellowship. When he wrote in his letter to show hospitality without grumbling, the word used is more often translated murmuring. This grumbling or murmuring began early on in the church.
And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Acts 6:1.
Note the clear racial overtones to the situation at hand. The solution the apostles came up with to deal with the problem was to have the congregation choose for themselves seven men to appoint over the administrative duties.
The apostle Paul recalls for us in 1 Corinthians 10 how murmuring and complaining was the “original sin” of the congregation in the wilderness. The people had just passed through the Red Sea and witnessed a great deliverance when they soon were murmuring against God and Moses.
And the people murmured against Moses, saying, what shall we drink? Exodus 15:24.
And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: Exodus 16:2.
Now in their defense I would point out that they had traveled three days in the wilderness and not found any fresh water. Most Christians have murmured and complained about far less. The point is that this is far more serious than most give consideration.
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10:11.
When Paul says that this is the issue where the ends of the ages meet, he was ushering in the end of the age of justification by works of the Law and bringing in the age of justification by grace.
For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17.
But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 1 Corinthians 10:5, 6.
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; While it is said, today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom He swore that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:14-19.

In other words, regardless of the covenant, grumbling and complaining are an offense to God and will be considered an act of unbelief. And now we can look to Abram to complete the picture and find the purpose.
Paul taught that Abram was the father of justification by faith, for when he was told his offspring would be as the stars of heaven, he believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. James pointed out that Abraham later proved his faith by offering his son Isaac in obedience to God. But in Hebrews we are reminded that the first great act of faith, without which nothing else would have followed, was his departure from his home land.
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went…he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country…for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God… and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:8-16, highlights.

James wrote that true religion is to care for widows and orphans and to keep ourselves unspotted by the world. James 1:27
Why then does he not mention strangers along with widows and orphans as the Law of Moses and the prophets do so often? Because we are called to be the stranger, the pilgrim, the sojourner in this world. We cannot conform to this world and expect to be translated into a heavenly homeland. A community church may compromise to be inoffensive and socially acceptable, but any individual who hopes to go from the called to the chosen, or elect; must be willing to step outside that comfort zone. To set hands on the plow and not look back until you have completed your course and remain faithful.
Here is how:

Do all things without murmuring and disputing, That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16.

 

Prophecy and the End of the Age

Beginning with the Law

You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’  When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.  Deuteronomy 18:21,22.

Sounds a little bit simplistic doesn’t it? And yet you have to know the Law and the prophets. Here is why.

Jesus knew every Word of God, and it is the basis for understanding every word He spoke.

Satan knows every word of God, even trying to use that word in tempting Jesus. For every Word of God you know and keep is a weapon of warfare for your spirit, under the Remembrance of the Holy Spirit.

Every Word of God that you have failed to learn and keep in your heart becomes a weapon for the enemy to use against you. Think about that a minute and then ask me why I spend so much time in the Bible, in prayer and meditation, and not on face book, you tube and christian TV teaching.

Here’s something Jesus said about His return:

For just as lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man.  Matthew 24:27.

Based on Deuteronomy 18, my understanding of this verse is simple; you will see me when you see me. All speculation about when Jesus is going to return is harmful, and I have in fact spoken in detail about this in my essay:  Against Deceptions.

Here is what Jesus says about the day of His return:

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.  Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building;  on the day when Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all.  So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.  Luke 17:26-30.

So to answer the question do I think Jesus returns at a time of imminent destruction of the earth, my answer is no, this is a Shia Muslim belief, and the reason Iran is so eager to provoke a nuclear confrontation with the U.S. and the world.

What this also tells me is that just before each of these  judgments, essentially one man stood between the everyday life of everyone and imminent judgment, thus I should continue to intercede and try to delay the coming of the Lord as if I am that man, ‘for His longsuffering is reckoned as salvation.’  2 Peter 3.

As to things happening in the world today that are relevant to prophecy, I have shared many details that the Lord has revealed to me through the Holy Spirit in the paper Superpowers of the Millennium. That is to say, there is definitely events taking place that are consistent with the prophets, but nothing that anyone has any business using to predict the future.

All eschatology dealing with interpreting prophecy to predict when something is going to happen is the work of error. Prophecy is rightly interpreted when we see fulfillment and know this is from God. No prophecy is given for experts to use to make predictions.

Let no one deceive you in any way, for that Day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the one destined to be destroyed.                      2 Thessalonians 2:3.

Okay, so the Day of the Lord will not come until after the man of lawlessness is revealed. We will know him when we see him, because he has been described vividly to us. Yet so called experts on the Bible continue to speculate on who they think he is, calling him the anti-Christ,  until we find out that he isn’t. There should be a Hall of Fame for world leaders who were identified as the anti-Christ, and a Hall of Shame for the false teachers who speculated on prophecy that is given so that we will know him when we see him.

Wait on the Lord. What I say to one I say to all: Watch and Pray.

Against Deception

People often speak of “war and rumors of war”, as well as global disasters as being signs of the end time. I would ask you today to look with fresh eyes and consider the Lord’s heart in this regard.

And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to Him to show him the buildings of the temple.                                                                                    Matthew 24:1.

At the end of a busy day, Jesus and his disciples find a quiet place, and they simply comment on the view of the temple mount. The Lord surprises them with a very precise and shocking prophecy.

And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.       Mt. 24:2.     

Jesus has mentioned a few times that He would face rejection and death in Jerusalem, but now He speaks of God’s soon judgment on the city and they immediately make a jump in their own minds that this pertains to the end of the age.

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?     Mt. 24:3.

We know that most of the Lord’s followers would have lived to see the destruction of the temple, this event was not a herald of the end times. While the questions reveal what was on their hearts, only the Lord’s answers can show us His priorities.

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.  Mt. 24:4.

Now if we pause here in the discourse and ask the question, “what do you think was the Lord’s primary concern regarding the subject of signs and the end of the age? Your answer should be that He was concerned with deceptive teachings that would come forth in this regard. Did He not once say this concerning signs:

A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.     Matthew 16:4.

He continues the discourse by elaborating on the subject of deceptions, not signs. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.  Mt. 2:5.

To be clear here, the Lord is not talking about anyone claiming to be the Messiah. Anyone who comes “in His name”, are claiming to be legitimate ambassadors speaking on His behalf.  The claim “I am Christ”, should be translated: “I am anointed”, because christos means anointed, and this is a claim that every false teacher, preacher and prophet is making these days. This is more than a sign of the end times, this is a caution for the wise follower to avoid being deceived.

And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. Mt. 24:6.

These words “the end is not yet” should be enough to convince you that quoting “wars and rumors of wars” as if to imply that the end of the age is upon us is to greatly discredit your understanding.

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.  Mt. 24:7.
Yada, yada, yada….
All these are the beginning of sorrows.  Mt:24:8.

Now this is something to consider. This expression of early birth pangs says a lot about being misinformed. Most people know that you don’t rush to the hospital with the first contractions of birth. Couples are coached to time contractions to be sure that labor has begun. However, there are still occasions were an expectant mother is rushed to a hospital, only to return later that evening saying; “false alarm”. A good possibility is that  greater awareness avoids reacting inappropriately to the beginning of sorrows.

And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.  Mt. 24:11.

Again with the warnings and concerns over being deceived.

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.                                      Mt. 24:12.

This verse uses the word agape for love and therefore cannot be interpreted as a state of the world we live. Only believers can know the agape love of God, and only believers can lose their “first love” and fall away due to lawlessness (iniquity) within the church.

This is why Jesus now says:

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Mt. 24:13.

This may not mesh with the once saved always saved doctrine, but Jesus said it, not me.

There are two verses I will now post for consideration on this topic.

And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until “the times of the Gentiles” are fulfilled. Luke 21:24.

Notice that this is the “the end of the age” for the Gentiles, and the sovereignty of Jerusalem is a legitimate point of inquiry.

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should  be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Romans 11:25.

Again with the Gentiles in the age we now occupy. With a growing number of Jews in Israel who see the historical Jesus (Yeshua) as the Son of God and Messiah, we draw closer to a true remnant in the promised land. Another reality worthy of attention.

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Matthew 24:24.

And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:29.

The text of Galatians 3:29 begins “de ei hymeis christos”, and the word christos means anointed, thus “if you are anointed” (or claim to be). Compare this to Matthew 24:5: For many shall come in my name saying I am anointed (christos) and shall deceive many.

Let me speak frankly to younger readers. Years ago, few preachers claimed to be anointed or to have “the anointing”. Now, essentially everyone on television, radio or otherwise makes this claim. They are the same people who love to talk about “the signs of the end times” in Matthew 24, without realizing they are fulfilling the prophecy in so stating.
This is why Jesus said, “you will know them by their fruit”, not who they claim to be as testimony of themselves. This is an antichrist spirit that had already manifested in the first century church.

Little children it is the last time and as you have heard that antichrist shall come even now are there many antichrists whereby we know that is the last time.                                 1 John 2:18.

Now please consider what Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 10:7: Do you look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is anointed let him of himself think this again, that as he is anointed even so are we anointed.

Among the first century church there already were many preaching “in that name” and claiming an anointing to do so, and yet they were contradicting what Paul and his companions were preaching!

I implore you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ:

Beloved believe not every spirit but try the spirits whether they are of God because many false prophets are gone out into the world.                                                                                    1 John 4:1.

Two Words, One Root

When we consider the words believe and faith, we sense intuitively that a relationship exists between them. For a belief to operate in the power of faith there must be trust, without doubt.
And whatever things you ask in prayer believing, you will receive.
Matthew 21:22.

The very thing that you put your trust in will in the end stand in judgement of you.

Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuses you, even Moses in whom you trust.
John 5:45.

Where you place your trust defines your hope for the future and eternity. The Greek translated trust is also almost equally translated as hope.

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For
who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we
wait with endurance.
Romans 8:24 & 25.

To express this from a negative form, faith is belief without doubt.

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
Mark 11:23.

In this is our blessing:
Jesus said to him, Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.
John 20:29.

So then what is the common root for both faith and believing? The answer is the primary verb “to persuade”. This word appears 17 times in the book of Acts alone.

Here are two examples of Paul converting souls by the faith of Jesus Christ.

And he was debating every Shabbat in the synagogue, trying to persuade
both Jewish and Greek people.
Acts 18:4, (TLV).

He entered the synagogue, and for three months debated boldly with
persuasive arguments about the kingdom of God.
Acts 19:8, (NAB).

This is why the Gospel must be presented in the pure, original form, that those who hear are persuaded by Grace from the God of Love, as expressed through His Son Jesus Christ.

Paul expressed his intentions clearly:
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

There are many other ways to persuade someone, such as this first time the word appears in the Gospel.

The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas, but to destroy Jesus.
Matthew 27:20.

This persuasion was probably accomplished through intimidation, as the people would not want to oppose the leaders who accused the Lord before Pilate. Barabbas was a thief, a murderer, and an insurrectionist who was set free on the occasion of Christ’s trial before a Gentile. This is to say that a common way for people to be persuaded is through some claim to authority. The Apostolic teachings were constantly being opposed by false teachers who claimed to have authority from Jerusalem.

In Galatia and many other Greek locations, new believers were being told that they must be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses.

Here Paul opposes this doctrine in his letter to the Galatians.

Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
Galatians 5:7-9.

After insisting that they not be persuaded by these instructions from those
who claim authority to add to the Message, he uses the analogy of leaven.
Even as Jesus warned His disciples to beware of “the leaven of the Pharisees”.              Paul instructs us using the same imagery.

Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore
purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are
unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore
let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and
wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
1 Corinthians 5:6-8.

To walk by faith is to trust exclusively in the Grace of God, without the need
for the leaven of scientific proof.

And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are
sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as from ourselves, but our
sufficiency from God.
2 Corinthians 3:5.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you always
having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8.