“I Go to Prepare a Place for You”

We are continuing to meditate on the thought that God has called out of the world a people from all nations to be in a marriage relationship to Himself. This relationship is one that is brought about by the greatest of loves, that of agape love, self-sacrificial love. Jesus came to express His love by dying in place of guilty man. The judgment of sin was, “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). God has made a way of escape and sent His Son to take man’s punishment upon Himself—self-sacrificial love. God raised Him from the dead, and now He waits for man to respond to His act of love. In this act of love, He has betrothed those who accepts His death as theirs, into a marriage relationship. When Christ comes, then will begin the festivities. Until then, we are in an engagement or betrothal relationship. We are to live in purity for Him and Him alone. Christians are those who have entered into a covenant of marriage.

I borrow from the words of C.H. Spurgeon here:

“The marriage of the Lamb is the result of the eternal gift of the Father. Our Lord says, “Yours they were and you gave them to Me.” His prayer was, “Father, I will that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am. That they may behold My glory, which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” The Father made a choice, and the chosen He gave to His Son to be His portion. For them, He entered into a Covenant of Redemption, whereby He was pledged in due time to take upon Himself their nature, pay the penalty of their offenses, and set them free to be His own.

Beloved, that which was arranged in the councils of eternity and settled there between the high contracting Parties is brought to its ultimate end in that day when the Lamb takes unto Himself in everlasting union the whole of those whom His Father gave Him from of old.

Next—this is the completion of the betrothal, which took place with each of them in time. I shall not attempt elaborate distinctions. However, as far as you and I were concerned, the Lord Jesus betrothed each one of us unto Himself in righteousness when first we believed on Him. Then He took us to be His and gave Himself to be ours so that we could sing— “My beloved is mine and I am His.” This was the essence of the marriage. Paul, in the Epistle to the Ephesians, represents our Lord as already married to the Church. This may be illustrated by the oriental custom by which, when the bride is betrothed, all the sanctities of marriage are involved in those espousals. Yet, there may be a considerable interval before the bride is taken to her husband’s house. She dwells with her former household and has not yet forgotten her kindred and her father’s house, though still she is espoused in truth and righteousness. Afterwards, she is brought home on an appointed day, the day which we should call the actual marriage. Yet, the betrothal is, to Orientals, of the very essence of the marriage.”[1]

That is what we will talk about next, the home that the Lord has been preparing for us. He said, 1“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:1-3). I’m looking forward to being with Him in that place, I hope you are too.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas

[1] http://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/sermons35.xxxv.html

There is a Place for You

2In 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.3And 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. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.”  5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:2-6).

He said He would come back and take believers to be with Him. Do you believe Him? Have you found the way to His house? The way is not a direction; it is a person, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He has paid the penalty for your sin and invites you to receive Him into your life and to receive the free gift of eternal life (Ephesians 2:8-9). You can have the inner confidence that you are home only when you come to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you remember the one commandment of Mary, the mother of Jesus? Yes, Mary gave the world one commandment that is written in the Bible. Speaking to the servants at the wedding in Cana in Galilee, she said, “Do whatever He [Jesus] tells you” (John 2:5). There is great wisdom in these words, and we do well to heed them, and make His house our direction.

Jesus said, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him” (John 14:21). We show Christ how much we love Him by obeying His commands. This is the main thing—to fall in love with the God of the Universe. When you really understand all that Christ has done for you, you cannot but help falling in love with Him. Sometimes, we don’t see the obvious that is written in the Bible, i.e. that of a God of love seeking to reconcile fallen humanity to Himself. From beginning to end, Genesis to Revelation, we see God calling a people for Himself from all the nations—a people who come to know God – not just know about Him, but to know Him intimately. No matter in what nation you live or no matter what you have done, Christ has made a way for you to know God in a close, intimate, love relationship.

The God of the Universe has been separated from His people by their sin (Isaiah 59:2). He calls across the time span of many thousands of years longing to be united with His people and to bring them home to the New Jerusalem where He may dwell with them. What’s His call? “Adam, where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). Adam and Eve, as a result of listening to the enemy, were hiding from the Lord God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8). So many people today are still hiding from God, but He calls to them, longing that they will respond and abandon their own self-righteousness, which is as filthy rags, and come to receive His provision for sin, i.e. the gift of the robe of righteousness in Christ. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far you are apart from Him, He wants to draw you to Himself if you will open your heart to Him. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44. Emphasis mine). Just the fact that you are reading these words is evidence that the Father is drawing you.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas

An Appointment with Death

We have been meditating on the subject of eternity over the last few weeks (scroll down for other meditations). Erwin Lutzer tells the fable about a Baghdad merchant who sent his servant to the marketplace to run an errand. When the servant had completed his assignment and was about to leave the marketplace, he turned a corner and unexpectedly met Lady Death. The look on her face so frightened him that he left the marketplace and hurried home. He told his master what had happened and requested his fastest horse so that he could get as far from Lady Death as possible—a horse that would get him to Sumera before nightfall. Later that same afternoon, the merchant also went to the marketplace and also met Lady Death. “Why did you startle my servant this morning?” he asked. “I didn’t intend to startle your servant—it was I who was startled,” replied Lady Death. “I was surprised to see your servant in Baghdad this morning, because I have an appointment with him in Sumera tonight.”[1]

You and I have an appointment with death. We cannot run from it, and we cannot hide from it. We can only face it. “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Thankfully, there is a God in heaven who has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). We needn’t face death alone. Christ has told us that He will be with us until the end of the age.

When George Bush Senior was Vice President, he represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Communist Russian leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev’s widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev’s wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, that this life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that this same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband.[2] There was the leader of a Communist country trying to stamp out all knowledge of Christ and His Word, yet even his wife was a secret believer with the thoughts of eternity in her heart.

We have come a long way over the last few weeks as we have explored what God says about our destiny and where we will spend eternity. We are made for more than the way this world is set up! We have an enemy that seeks to keep our minds occupied with things of this world alone. That enemy, Satan, desires to stamp out all thoughts of another life in Christ, a life that is better by far. He does not want us to focus on the eternal, but he wants us to be mesmerized only by the physical, material world in which we are in to keep us “duped” and ineffective. The enemy does not want us to consider that we are only passing through this present life and being prepared for another. Jesus said that, even though a man dies, yet shall he live (John 11:25). You can deny the thoughts about eternity, and you can tell them to shut up, but that inner knowledge that death is not the end cannot be extinguished. There is a God in heaven Who has not given up on you; He calls to you that you may find your way to His home. You shall seek me and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13). Over the next few days we will take a look at who we are and where we are going. Who are we? Jesus calls us His Bride, and He is preparing us for eternity with Him.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas

[1] One Minute After You Die, Erwin W. Lutzer, Moody Publishers, Page 119.

[2] Gary Thomas, in Christianity Today, October 3, 1994, p. 26

He Will Wipe Every Tear from Their Eyes

We are continuing from yesterday (scroll further down) our meditation on the thousand-year reign of Christ. Let me be clear regarding the difference between heaven and the millennium. Although the Millennium will be a time when we experience God’s kingdom on earth, there is more to come! We are told that, at the end of the Millennium, will come the New Jerusalem and that there will be no more death:

1Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4).

The theme of the whole of Scripture is of a picture of redemption. When Jesus died for sin, He did not just cancel the penalty of sin. He paid for it in full. Since Divine justice was satisfied, He has every right to restore things to their intended purpose, their intended glory. When He comes to reign, He will set things in their place, and we will see the full deliverance of the earth. He has ransomed the earth, and the earth will finally experience the knowledge of the Lord.

Many nations will come to Jerusalem, the capital city of all the earth, to seek the Lord and worship Him.  No more will there be different religions. All men will finally realize that one of the strategies that Satan used to divide and conquer them was religion. All the people will realize that there is only one God, and His knowledge will be universal. Jerusalem, the city itself, will be changed. The Lord Himself will be there:

2In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 3Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore (Isaiah 2:2-4).

Imagine living on planet Earth where the Lord Jesus Christ is reigning on His throne in Jerusalem. There will be no economic need for tanks, guns and weapons of war, it will be a time of great economic prosperity, because man will not train for war anymore (Isaiah 2:4). Christ Jesus will set up His government on Earth composed of those who have been redeemed. Every nation will be at peace with one another with King Jesus sitting on His throne. Those that are reigning over nations, territories, states, cities and towns are those who have been counted worthy because of their faithfulness in resisting evil and caring for God’s people.

The King, the Lord Jesus Christ, will teach us of His ways and settle any remaining disputes between nations. The Scriptures tell us that the New Jerusalem does not come down to Earth from above until the 1000 years are over (Revelation 21:1-2). Until that point, the throne of King Jesus is in Jerusalem, where many peoples will come to praise and worship King Jesus (Isaiah 2:2-3). Isaiah the prophet says, “Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar” (Isaiah 33:17). Can you imagine sitting at the feet of Jesus while He teaches us His ways? He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths” (Isaiah 2:3). Heaven on earth at last!

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Millennium. Keith Thomas

The Rapture of the True Church

In yesterday’s meditation, we talked about the coming of the Lord for His Church, those who are born-again of the Spirit. We have talked about the rewards that He will give for character, faithfulness and service. Over the next few days we will look at the resurrection body that believers will be given at the coming of Christ. The Lord knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19), and at the coming of Christ, He will send forth His angels and gather those who have received His free gift of salvation:

And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other (Matthew 24:31).

At the coming of Christ, the church is raptured or caught up together with Him in the clouds:

13Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For 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. 17After 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 we will be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

This passage above is the classic passage about the rapture of the church. As we have said elsewhere in these studies, the word Rapture is not found in the Bible. We get the English word “rapture” from the Latin word rapere which is the translation of the Greek word Harpazo. This word literally means to be snatched up. It is translated into the English in the passage above with the words “caught up” (v.17). This event will be preceded by a loud shout from the Lord Jesus Himself. I wonder what words will issue from His lips in a loud command. Notice that a loud trumpet call will be heard also. Those who have died/slept in Christ, are brought with Christ at that coming (v.14), and are instantly changed and reunited with their body. Although they have been in heaven with Christ, He will bring them with Him—those who have fallen asleep/died in Him (v.14). Those believers who are still alive on Earth at that time will see this happening before they themselves are caught up together with all believers all over the world. As we have been saying over the last few days, it will be a homecoming to the Lord as well as a time of rewards for all those who belong to Christ. What an awesome day that will be. When that Day comes, all who have repented and walked with Christ, yet have passed on from this life will receive a new body. Those also on Earth will be changed in an instant (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). We will think on the new body we will receive over the next few days. I hope to see you in the clouds (v.17).

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Resurrection Body. Keith Thomas