Monthly Archives: January 2015

How old will we be in heaven?

HOW OLD WILL WE BE IN HEAVEN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“My 5 and 7 year old wanted to know if we are raptured now, will they stay children? Will we age in heaven or stay in the age that we are raptured in?”

Thank you for these thought-provoking questions—those little minds are certainly thinking and that is good! The Bible is not clear about our “age in heaven,” so God has given us liberty to speculate (we will know for sure one day!). As with any Bible questions that are not sufficiently answered in Scripture, we can at least look at some general statements that the Bible says about our bodies in heaven. I would urge you to look at these verses and come to your own conclusions. Study out the matter more on your own; perhaps you will get further than I have in this brief study.

Many say that we will be in heaven the same age as Jesus Christ was when He left earth (around 33 years old). I would tend to agree with them there, since Philippians 3:20-21 says: “[20] For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: [21] Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

Our glorified bodies will be just like Jesus Christ’s resurrected body, the body He had when He physically ascended into heaven in Acts 1:9-11 (cf. Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51). That body was able to travel at high speeds to cross the universe—Jesus traveled from Earth, to Father God in Heaven, and back to Earth, in less than eight days (John 20:11-31). His body could move through walls and locked doors (John 20:19). He was able to eat physical foods such as honeycomb and broiled fish (Luke 24:30; John 24:41-43). That body was also aged 33 years when He left Earth—He began His ministry at around age 30 (Luke 3:23) and we can use various verses from the Four Gospels to estimate that He had a three-year-long ministry. As Philippians 3:21 says, those glorified bodies will be the means whereby Jesus Christ uses us to fulfill His will in the heavenly places in eternity!

Heaven being filled with babies that need to be nursed, or children and elderly people who need to be tended to, that is not my view of Heaven. God would have us function by ourselves, fully able to do His will without having someone else to take care of us. That is why I hold to the idea that we will neither be “young” nor “old,” but somewhere around “middle-age,” in heaven, never to age, weaken, slow down, et cetera. Personally, I do not see elderly Christians remaining elderly in heaven and juvenile Christians remaining juveniles in heaven. I see us all being one age, neither young nor old (whatever common age that is I would say Christ’s age). Again, apart from speculation, we will just have to wait and see for ourselves!

See also:
» Will we recognize our loved ones in heaven?
» Are deceased Christians with the Lord yet?
» Will we know if a loved one is not in heaven with us?

Will we know if a loved one is not in heaven with us?

WILL WE KNOW IF A LOVED ONE IS NOT IN HEAVEN WITH US?

by Shawn Brasseaux

This is a very interesting question, and while the Bible does not explicitly tell us, there are some verses that help us draw some informed conclusions.

Firstly, the Bible indicates that we will recognize our loved ones in heaven (see our article linked at the end of this study). A related question is then posed as thus: “Since we will recognize our loved ones in heaven, will we also be aware of our loved ones who are not in heaven?” In this study, I will share some verses that helped me answer that question. We will consider verses that describe the consciousness of those in the spirit world (people who have already died). Remember, it is better to look at associated verses than to have no verses at all. If it is going to be faith, it has to rest on Bible verses. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Let us hear the Word of God now!

When conversing with Abraham, the nameless rich man begged in Luke 16:27-28: “[27] … I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him [Lazarus] to my father’s house: [28] For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” How did the rich man, suffering in hellfire, know that his five brethren were still living on Earth? The only logical conclusion is that none of those in hell with him fit the descriptions of his brethren. Had his brethren been there with him in the torments of hell, the rich man would have been able to identify them. According to Jesus Christ, the rich man suffering in the flames of hell knew that his brethren were still on Earth because they were not in hell with him. But, this is in hell. What about in heaven? Will we know if a loved one is not in heaven with us? Based on these verses, and those I will share later on, I personally believe we will be aware of those who are not in heaven with us. I believe we will remember them, and we will be fully conscious that they are not there with us, but we will see them as God sees them. We will not view them as we view them today but we will view them from a righteous viewpoint (one not tainted by sin-filled emotions).

WOULD NOT MEMORY OF LOST LOVED ONES SUFFERING IN HELL, MAKE US SAD IN HEAVEN?

Right now, we are prone to ask, “How could heaven be a joyful place when we will know that some (or in some cases, most) of our loved ones are not in heaven with us?” Luke chapter 16 again helps with this. It is ever so critical that we need to look at the issue as God’s Word views it. We need to let the Scriptures correct our thinking.

Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that prior to Calvary, the souls of saints (those who trusted God’s Word to them) did not go to “heaven” as saints go today. Before the cross, believers who died went to a spiritual place called “paradise” (Luke 23:43) or “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22-23). Thus, Jesus Christ said that He would spend His three days and three nights dead “in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). “Paradise,” or “Abraham’s bosom,” was in the center of the Earth. The bizarre term “Abraham’s bosom,” problematic for some, simply denotes that these people died having the same faith in God’s Word that Abraham did (faith unto justification; Romans 4:3), and that their hope, like Abraham’s, was to be bodily resurrected one day to enter and enjoy the literal, physical, visible, earthly kingdom of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 11:8-16). Sometime after Calvary, God removed those righteous souls in “paradise” (in the center of the Earth) and brought them up into “the third heaven” (see 2 Corinthians 12:1-4). It is here in the “heavenly Jerusalem” that those “Old Testament” saints now reside (Hebrews 12:22-24).

Our goal now is to see how Abraham, a saint whose soul was living in “paradise” at the time of Luke chapter 16 (pre-Calvary), how Abraham viewed the rich man suffering in hell. This time, we will read the entire account, beginning with verse 19, to get the full impact of the flow of the passage. How would a believer in the spirit world react to the knowledge of a relative experiencing torment in the spirit world? It is highly important to remember that this is not a parable (cults say it is so as to explain away the horrible reality of everlasting hellfire). Dear friends, Jesus never identified it as a parable, and no parable ever contained a person’s name. “Lazarus” and “Abraham” were real, literal, historical people, so Luke 16:19-31 is most definitely a historical reality. It is graphic, very illustrative, but we must read it because it is God’s Word.

Luke chapter 16: “[19] There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: [20] And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, [21] And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. [22] And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; [23] And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. [24] And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. [25] But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. [26] And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”

Beginning in verse 23, Abraham and the rich man, although both were deceased, held a conversation in the spirit world. Abraham was in “comfort” and the rich man was in “torments.” Abraham was aware of the rich man, a Jew, one of his descendants, suffering in hell. They could see one another, though neither could come into the other’s realm—a “great gulf fixed,” a massive and permanent chasm, prevented those suffering in hell from going into paradise, and those in paradise were prevented from going into torments. Abraham replied to this Jew in verses 25-26, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” The rich man was an idolater (worshipper of his wealth) whereas Lazarus was a believer.

Abraham gave a righteous answer to the rich man. Note that Abraham did not tell the rich man that God was unfair and that God should let the rich man come into paradise. Abraham knew that the rich man chose to go to that place of torment. The rich man did not have to go there, but that was what he chose and Abraham knew that God had already given the rich man over to what he wanted. Did the rich man show any remorse, any faith? The rich man was not sorry for rejecting God’s Word in life. Even in hell, he showed no repentance (change in mind), he showed no faith, he showed no respect toward God in declaring God was utterly righteous in letting him go to hell. The rich man, even after death, showed no interest in converting to the praise and glory of God; he just wanted some water, relief from his suffering, the very suffering that he deserved and chose! Abraham thought exactly like God did. There was no sin nature in Abraham, for he was now dead, to impair his judgment. Abraham had no emotions tainted by sin, to pervert the way he looked at the issue. He knew that God was fair, that He had treated the rich man justly. The rich man was still exhibiting unbelief (we will see more in a moment).

Returning to Luke chapter 16: “[27] Then he [the rich man] said [to Abraham], I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: [28] For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. [29] Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. [30] And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. [31] And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

The rich man wanted Abraham to send Lazarus to evangelize his five brethren who were still on Earth, that they not come to hell and meet him there. Abraham gave another righteous answer: “Your brothers have God’s Word, and they need to hear and believe the testimony of the Bible, the record of Moses and the prophets! If they reject God’s Word, Lazarus coming back from the dead will not convert them!” Note how the rich man argued against Abraham’s upholding of the Word of God (Nay, father Abraham…); the rich man refused to give the authority to God’s Word, and he wanted his will to be done instead of God’s will to be done. Again, God is just/fair in letting the rich man suffer in hell. That is what he wants. Even at this point, yes, even while suffering in the flames of hell, the rich man has no interest in respecting or believing the Bible!

A BRIEF GOSPEL MESSAGE

It is not uncommon for our flesh to rebut, or for Bible critics to repeat ad nauseum, “Oh, how can a loving God send someone to a place of everlasting flames? How can God be so unfair?” That is the problem, dear friends, GOD did not send anyone there—that is what they wanted!!!! God did everything, everything, everything, everything, everything He possibly could to keep us out of hell. He sent Jesus Christ to suffer on our behalf His wrath against our sin, but if we reject Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, someone still has to suffer God’s wrath for us… and it will be us to suffer that wrath! Unless Jesus Christ’s merits are imputed to us, applied to us, by faith, our sin debt is still there and we will be forced to pay it one day. But, we can avoid hell!!! We do not have to go to hell!!! We do not have to pay for our sins in a lake of fire that never quits burning!!! We can be made the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus Christ took upon Himself all of our sin debt, He fully satisfied God’s wrath against our sins. Will we trust that Good News, and that Good News alone, to be declared righteous before God? God is a loving God because He gave us His Bible to warn us about hellfire, and He gave us His Bible to tell us how to escape that most awful place.

Romans 3:21-28: “[21] But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; [22] Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: [23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Romans 4:3-8: “[3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [6] Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, [7] Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. [8] Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

If anyone reading this study does not have the assurance of salvation, forgiveness of sins, and a home in heaven, it is this author’s great hope and prayer that he or she will settle the matter today. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Please do not read this study about dying and going to hell, and then end up dying and going to hell yourself! That would be most tragic. Eternal life through Jesus Christ is “unto all” but only “upon all them that believe” (Romans 3:22). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). Just trust exclusively in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for your sins, and you will be saved, loved, and bound for heaven.

CONCLUSION

While you are free to disagree with me, I believe that, in heaven, we will have the same mindset as Abraham did in paradise. Those in hell belong there because that is what they chose. They could have trusted God’s Word in life on Earth but they refused. They could have trusted the Gospel of the Grace of God while they were given opportunity, but they rejected it, and now, in hell, they will never accept the Gospel. They are too far gone after they reach hell. In hell, they become even more stubborn, just as the rich man was. Yes, actually, these lost people will be just as opposed to God’s Word in hell as they were opposed to it on Earth. People do not change in hell, dear friends. Just as the miracles of the Bible hardened the hearts of the unbelievers of millennia ago, the hearts of those in hell are even more hardened.

Someone may ask, “How could we enjoy ourselves in heaven if we have consciousness of loved ones in hell?” While some say that those in heaven do not think about such things (some point to Revelation 21:4—“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any pain: for the former things are passed away.”), this does not mean that our memories of lost loved ones, will pass away. In fact, those saints who will enjoy Christ’s earthly kingdom, they will literally be able to see into hell during those 1000 years, and they will see the souls of all those who had transgressed the Lord during the Tribulation with the Antichrist (Isaiah 66:22-24; Jesus quoted this passage in Mark 9:43-50 to describe people suffering in hell during those 1000 years). The 1000-year Kingdom will be one of great joy.

When we get to heaven, and we will remember our lost loved ones suffering in hell, we will view the situation as God does. They are where they belong, the place they chose. They ignored the Christians who preached to them that could escape hellfire by being in Jesus Christ. They had no time for the Holy Bible, no time for the Gospel, no time for God’s grace or God’s love for them, no time for Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice at Calvary, no time for anything but the here and now. Can we honestly believe that Father God will overlook someone treating His perfect Son’s finished crosswork as NOTHING? Never! That is why their sin must be dealt with!

Those in heaven right now know that God is righteous and holy and just, and whatever happens to people suffering in hell, it is all because of what those lost people chose. God did not make them go to hell; He values free will and gives people over to what they want (Romans 1:24,26,28). They have no interest in going heaven, especially once they are in hell, so they would not be happy in heaven anyway. It is strange to say it now, but it will be consoling that they are exactly where they want to be, and to take away their free will (even in hell) and force them to go to heaven would be the saddest thing of all.

Beloved, let us tell all of our friends, family, and other loved ones about the message of God’s grace now, while we are still living and while they are still living, that we may see them in heaven. Remember the urgency! Let us not waste time in that regard!

Also see:
» Will we recognize our loved ones in heaven?
» How old will we be in heaven? (COMING SOON!)
» Are deceased Christians with the Lord yet?

Are deceased Christians with the Lord yet?

ARE DECEASED CHRISTIANS WITH THE LORD YET? THEN, WHAT DOES “THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST” MEAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“I have a question about those already dead in Christ. I never learned that once saved people die they will immediately begin fellowshipping with the Lord. When I read 1 Thessalonians 4:16, it says ‘the dead in Christ shall rise first.’ The word ‘rise’ makes me think they are not with the Lord yet. If He is sitting on the right hand side of God in heaven, then the dead in Christ would not have to rise at the trump of God because they would already be there. Is there another verse I can go to help me understand this?”

Okay, thank you for the inquiry, and yes, there are other verses to clarify the passage for you. We will begin in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, but then we will go on to the companion verses: “[13] But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. [14] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. [15] For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. [16] For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: [17] Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. [18] Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

Note verse 14: “them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” Jesus Christ is bringing with Him the deceased Christians. Their souls and spirits are in heaven right now, and when He comes to Earth at the Rapture (“our gathering together unto him;” 2 Thessalonians 2:1), to gather all members of the Church the Body of Christ, He will bring those souls and spirits with Him. He will then unite them with their new glorified, resurrected bodies. We Christians who are still physically alive, who have not yet died, we will then be physically transformed. Today, the physical bodies of deceased Christians are decaying in their graves, but these physical bodies are that which rise, which resurrect. What are “rising” in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 are the physical bodies of Christians who have died.

Consider 1 Corinthians 15:47-56 for further understanding: “[47] The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. [48] As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. [49] And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. [50] Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. [51] Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. [53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [54] So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. [55] O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? [56] The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.”

Notice this passage (verse 50) talks about the “flesh and blood” bodies that we have right now. They have to be changed, transformed, for they are biologically related to Adam, sinful and vile, and would thus taint heaven. We cannot go to heaven in these sinful bodies; that is why they are left behind and only our souls and spirits go to heaven. In Ephesians 4:30, we read about the coming “day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). We are already redeemed soul and spirit (otherwise we would be going to hell!), but our physical bodies have not yet been redeemed. Hence, we are still prone to sickness and eventually we die. Romans 8:23-25 talks about this “day of redemption,” when our physical bodies are redeemed, bought back from sin, sickness, and death: “[22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. [24] For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? [25] But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

You should have seen the raising of the dead Christian bodies in 1 Corinthians 15:52—this is the “dead in Christ shall rise first” of 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Their corruptible (subject to decay) bodies must be made to be incorruptible (never able to decay), and our mortal (subject to death) bodies must be made immortal (never able to die). Those who are dead in Christ, their physical bodies have to come out of their tombs, just as Lazarus did, or Jesus Christ Himself did, or the various others raisings on the dead recorded in Scripture, in order for them to be redeemed. This is what the Bible means by “the dead in Christ shall rise first.” At the resurrection of the Body of Christ, their physical bodies will rise from their graves to be enhanced, in order to be reunited with their redeemed souls and redeemed spirits.

A FEW WORDS ABOUT DECEASED CHRISTIANS FELLOWSHIPPING WITH THE LORD IN HEAVEN

While some teach “soul sleep”—the idea that the souls of people sleep or become unconscious when they die—that is not Bible. The physical body is what is sleeping (does not a corpse resemble a living person who is merely sleeping?). That physical body is momentarily inactive, and the Bible says that, at the resurrection, it will rise. In comparison to eternity, the physical body is temporarily incapacitated, dead for no more than thousands of years. Those who are dead are fully aware of their surroundings, whether in heaven (the souls under the altar in heaven spoke about their enemies on Earth [Revelation 6:9-11]) or hell (the rich man was very much aware of his torment [Luke 16:22-31]). The physical body goes to sleep, yes, but the soul and spirit is still very much alive and awake.

Remember what Paul wrote in Philippians 1:23: “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.” Paul had “been with Christ” years earlier, having been stoned to death in Acts 14:19 (personally, I think 2 Corinthians 12:1-7 is descriptive of what happened to Paul when he was stoned here, and it was here that Paul went to heaven for a time before God brought him back). Paul knew that to be “with Christ” was “far better.” If Paul were not awake after death, but rather unconscious/sleeping, then is that (unaware of your surroundings) truly better than a conscious life here on Earth? Paul knew that after death, the Christian would be aware of being with Christ, being in His presence, being “with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). That is what I mean I say that Christians are “fellowshipping with Christ in heaven.” The affairs of this life pale in comparison to what they see and feel up there! If you think Christian fellowship is good here on Earth, imagine it without sin (fighting, bitterness, envy, et cetera)… and to have the Lord Jesus Christ Himself personally there, too!

CONCLUSION

When the Bible talks about the “dead in Christ rising first,” it is merely a reference to their physical bodies being taken out of their graves. The Bible says that their souls and spirits are “with the Lord,” “with Christ,” in the third heaven. It also claims that Jesus Christ, when He comes to take us home to heaven (at the event we call “the Rapture”), He will bring those souls and spirits back to Earth to unite them with their physical bodies. We Christians will all then move upward into the third heaven, to “ever be with the Lord.”

Also see:
» Will we know if a loved one is not there in heaven with us? (COMING SOON!)
» How old will we be in heaven? (COMING SOON!)
» Will we recognize our loved ones in heaven?

Why did Paul tell the Corinthians to be “reconciled to God?”

IF PAUL WRITES TO BELIEVERS, WHY DID HE TELL THE CORINTHIANS TO BE “RECONCILED TO GOD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“I have a question about 2 Corinthians 5:20. Since it is taught in grace circles that Paul always writes to believers, why does he urge his audience ‘be ye reconciled to God?’” Great question and thank you for submitting it!

Yes, the Apostle Paul always writes to believers. So, why did he urge the Corinthians to be “reconciled to God” in 2 Corinthians 5:20? Were they not already reconciled with God? The key to understanding 2 Corinthians 5:20 is to notice the verb tense—“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” Paul is referring to the time when he first arrived in Corinth in Acts chapter 18, just before the Corinthians trusted Christ.

Prior to Paul visiting Corinth and preaching the Gospel to them, the Corinthians were idolaters (1 Corinthians 12:1-2). At that time, through Paul’s preaching in person, God did beseech the Corinthians to be saved. Sometime later, Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians in order to remind them of the Gospel message he preached to them back in Acts chapter 18. The Corinthians were not reconciled to God when Paul first went to Corinth and preached to them. Again, 2 Corinthians 5:20 is a flashback, a review of something that happened earlier, an event that occurred prior to Paul writing the epistle of 2 Corinthians (it is not a present-tense beseeching, but a reminder of an earlier beseeching). But why was Paul reminding them of their salvation experience? Why was he retelling them the message he had already preached to them? That will take some explaining.

In the larger context of 2 Corinthians 5:20, Paul is discussing how the Christian life is designed to function, especially Christians and evangelism (soul-winning, believers sharing the Gospel of the Grace of God with others so they can also be saved from their sins and have a home in heaven). To better understand 2 Corinthians 5:20, we will begin reading in verse 14: “[14] For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: [15] And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

As verse 14 says in the King James Bible, it is Jesus Christ’s love for us that drives us, that propels us, to function in the Christian life. It is not our weak, intermittent love for Him, but His endless, matchless, constant, unfathomable love for us! Our love for Him is nothing, NOTHING, in light of His love for us. It is His love for us that is powerful, that drives us and empowers us.

How does Christ’s love constrain us? “Because we thus judge,” verse 14 continues. There is a thinking process, a judgment, involved, in Christian living. We consider how Jesus Christ so loved us, “[God’s] great love wherewith He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4). We think about Calvary’s cruel cross, where the sinless, eternal Son of God faced the awful wrath of the holy, eternal God the Father. On that terrible Roman cross, the soul of Jesus Christ Himself was offered as a ransom for our sins! He died that we might die, and He died that we might live, for in rising again He gave us His resurrection life.

We just read in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: “…if one died for all, then were all dead: [15] And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” The Christian life, our Christian life, is not really ours; it is the life that Jesus Christ gave to us the moment we trusted Him alone as our personal Saviour. The Bible says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). We died with Jesus on Calvary (Romans 6:6), and we were raised again with Him “to walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Because our Christian life is actually His life, we should not spend it fulfilling our wishes. It makes sense that we should share His desires, His will, for it is His life and that life should bring Him glory rather than bring us glory. As we will shortly, we have a brand new identity in Christ. We have the same identity that Jesus Christ has before His Heavenly Father!

Paul continues in 2 Corinthians 5:16-17: “[16] Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. [17] Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” We do not know anyone anymore on the basis of physical circumcision and physical uncircumcision (that was a time past distinction now done away in Jesus Christ). There really is no Jew or Gentile before God today: the only classes of people God sees is Christians and lost people, people in Christ and people outside of Christ (Galatians 3:26-28). There was a time when Jesus Christ had a ministry to Israel, the circumcision (Romans 15:8; cf. Matthew 15:24; Romans 9:5); there was a time when Jesus Christ dealt with mankind on the basis of physical circumcision and physical uncircumcision. Beginning with the ministry of the Apostle Paul, that distinction is done away. God has rescinded the racial barrier He once erected beginning with Abraham.

We read in Ephesians chapter 2: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye 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: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. [14] For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; [15] Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; [16] And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: [17] And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. [18] For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

Today, God is forming the Church the Body of Christ, of believing Jews and believing Gentiles, those who will simply place their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for their sins (Romans 4:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). God the Holy Spirit takes the believing sinner and baptizes him or her into the Church the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). We have received “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Thus, 2 Corinthians chapter 5 continues: “[17] Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. [18] And all things are of God,…” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18a). God has given us a new identity with everything we will ever need! We are forever linked to Jesus Christ, forever saved, forever declared righteous, forever reconciled to God, forever forgiven, forever loved, forever accepted in Jesus. It is settled in God’s mind forever. Permanent. Finished. Done!

Since we are Christians, people who already trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, God now wants us to preach that Good News to others, that they may, like us, become members of the Church the Body of Christ. As someone shared the Gospel of God’s Grace with us, we should share it with others. This is actually the main purpose of Paul writing 2 Corinthians 5:20 to the Corinthians.

Paul continues in 2 Corinthians chapter 5: “[18] And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; [19] To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [20] Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. [21] For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

God the Father reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ. We were lost and going to hell, no faith in God’s Word, rebellious, vain in our thoughts, doing whatever we wanted, but God—before we were even born, before we could even sin—still sent Jesus Christ to Calvary’s cross. It is our privilege to share that Good News with others, to tell them that Father God offers to them in Jesus Christ a home in heaven, eternal life, unconditional love, total acceptance, unending mercy, unfathomable grace, on and on and on we could go listing the marvelous things in Christ! We have a “ministry,” “the ministry of reconciliation,” to tell others that God is not mad at them today. They can escape the wrath to come, the seven-year Tribulation, and the wrath to come after that, the lake of fire. They do not have to go to hell! What good news!

We read again in 2 Corinthians 5:19: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” While we looked at this passage earlier, we will do so again. Ephesians 2:11-12 explains: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye 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:” As stated earlier, there was a time when the God of the Bible dealt only with the nation Israel; at that time, the Gentiles were “without God in the world.”

Now, in this the Dispensation of Grace, Israel has lost that special position she once had (her fall is only temporarily, of course). Ephesians 2:13 continues, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Romans 11:15 supplements, “For if the casting away of them [Israel] be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” Today, as we mentioned earlier, there has been a dispensational reconciliation—all nations are equal before God today, and they all (not just Israel) can approach Him through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. By sending His only begotten Son to die for the world’s sins, God made the first move to reconcile mankind with Himself. Now, God urges each and every person to appropriate by faith the merits of that crosswork, that God and the individual be eternally united.

Stated once more, as Christians, it is our privilege to preach to others the Gospel of the Grace of God—the “word of reconciliation”—that Jesus Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). God has reconciled us to Himself, He has removed that hostility and anger that our sins generated in Him, and He has removed the racial barrier that He erected beginning with Abraham. Now, we are urged to trust His Son’s payment for those sins, that we be saved from those sins. Please understand that reconciliation is not salvation, but reconciliation makes salvation possible. Romans 10:10a says, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” To have Christ’s righteousness imputed (applied) to us, we must have heart faith, trust, complete reliance upon, that Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins, in full and forever. That forgiveness offered to us in Jesus Christ, that grace offered to us in Jesus Christ, that salvation offered to us in Jesus Christ, they will then be applied to us forever. Unless we appropriate them by faith, they will benefit us nothing. Unless we are “reconciled to God” by faith in Calvary’s crosswork, the reconciliation that God offers us will do nothing for us.

CONCLUSION

In 2 Corinthians 5:20 (“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God”), Paul is reminding the Corinthians that, just as he had besought them to be reconciled to God (back in Acts chapter 18), they have the same Christian ministry to beseech others to be reconciled to God. They are to preach the same salvation message to lost people, that Paul had preached to them in Acts chapter 18 when they (the Corinthians) were lost people. That salvation message is found in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For he [God the Father] hath made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him [Christ].” It is this message that highlights the reconciliation God offers us in Jesus Christ, and how we urge you, dear reader, to tell others all about it!

Also see:
» Are lost people already forgiven?
» Can Christians lose their salvation?
» Do I have to repeat “the sinner’s prayer” to be saved?

Was God unfair in striking Uzzah dead?

WAS GOD UNFAIR IN STRIKING UZZAH DEAD?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In the Bible, we read of the account where a man named Uzzah touched the Ark of the Covenant in order to stabilize it, to keep it from falling over. God was so angry that He immediately struck Uzzah dead. Was God “unfair” or excessively harsh here? What should we believe as Bible believers?

We read in God’s Holy Word in 2 Samuel chapter 6: “[1] Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. [2] And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims. [3] And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart. [4] And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark. [5] And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals. [6] And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. [7] And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. [8] And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perezuzzah to this day. [9] And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the LORD come to me? [10] So David would not remove the ark of the LORD unto him into the city of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite. [11] And the ark of the LORD continued in the house of Obededom the Gittite three months: and the LORD blessed Obededom, and all his household.” (The companion passage is 1 Chronicles 13:1-14.)

As the Bible text says above, the Jews had put the Ark on a new cart, and while it was en route from Gibeah, 1 Chronicles 13:8, providing further detail, says that the oxen actually stumbled. The stumbling of the oxen shook the cart (and the Ark sitting on the cart was on the verge of toppling). Uzzah, probably acting in sincerity, touched the Ark of the Covenant so as to hold it in place, that it not fall to the ground. Verse 10 says, “And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.” King David was thus afraid to bring the Ark to his home, so he sent it to the house of Obededom the Gittite, where it stayed for three months.

The Bible critic will argue that JEHOVAH God was “unfair” in striking Uzzah dead, since Uzzah was only trying to steady the Ark of the Covenant. Uzzah was only acting in innocence, right? Dear friends, it was a more serious matter than what first appears. We have to be Bereans to learn why God was so strict about this matter. God’s justice enforces His righteousness: He must always maintain His integrity and His holiness, and when His standards are breached, He must act to right the wrong. Moses will explain to us what happened to Uzzah.

When JEHOVAH first issued instructions to Moses regarding the Tabernacle and all of its vessels, some 500 years before Uzzah and David, He could not be any clearer in Exodus 25:10-16: “[10] And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half [3.75 feet / 1.14 meters], shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half [2.25 feet / 0.70 meter] the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half [2.25 feet / 0.70 meter] the height thereof. [11] And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. [12] And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. [13] And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. [14] And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. [15] The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. [16] And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.”

When the Ark of the Covenant was actually constructed, Exodus 37:1-5 says: “[1] And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half [3.75 feet / 1.14 meters] was the length of it, and a cubit and a half [2.25 feet / 0.70 meter] the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half [2.25 feet / 0.70 meter] the height of it: [2] And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about. [3] And he cast for it four rings of gold, to be set by the four corners of it; even two rings upon the one side of it, and two rings upon the other side of it. [4] And he made staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold. [5] And he put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, to bear the ark.

Never was the Ark of the Covenant to be transported on a cart. God’s explicit command was that the Ark be carried by poles inserted into rings attached to the bottom of the Ark. These staves were never to be removed for any reason. (They had been removed in the case of Uzzah for some unknown reason.) The Ark was holy, never to be defiled by filthy, sinful human fingers. God was bound to strike someone dead if they threatened His holiness. Someone should have had enough sense to make sure that it be carried on poles in 2 Samuel 6:1-11 and 1 Chronicles 13:1-14. Instead, it was carelessly placed on a cart pulled by oxen. Uzzah’s death could have been prevented. He should have exercised utmost care in remembering the LORD’S instructions through Moses. Uzzah should have actually let the Ark fall to the ground, rather than touch it and defile it.

CONCLUSION

The Ark of the Covenant was not to placed on a cart, but rather was to be carried with staves (poles) placed in the rings of the bottom of the Ark. JEHOVAH knew that there was stability in carrying the Ark of His covenant with poles. Furthermore, these poles ensured that, when the Ark was carried, sinful human hands would not touch the Ark (God manifested Himself on the Mercy Seat, the lid of the Ark of the Covenant). God was not unfair in the case of Uzzah. Although his intentions appeared good, Uzzah disobeyed God’s simple instructions. In that account, God was teaching us a deeper meaning, something many overlook when discussing this passage.

The Ark (specifically, its lid, the Mercy Seat) was only to be touched by a finger, the high priest’s finger, once a year (the Day of Atonement), and most importantly, it had to be a finger with animals’ blood on it (Leviticus 16:11-17). By touching the Ark without shed blood, Uzzah was presuming to enter the LORD’S holy presence. In the Bible, no sinner can approach a righteous God without shed blood. “Without shedding of blood is no remission [forgiveness]” (Hebrews 9:22b). Uzzah was an example of what God did with someone who did not approach Him with blood… no forgiveness, no mercy, no acceptance!

What we can learn from this strange Old Testament account is that we should never, ever, ever even think of approaching the God of the Bible without the shed blood of Jesus Christ (the sacrifice that the animal sacrifices actually pictured). There are ever so many millions upon millions of precious people trying to approach the holy God of the Bible using their religious works—their water baptism, their church membership, their giving, their prayers, et cetera. They are ignoring that the God of the Bible will accept nothing from sinners. We have nothing to offer God; our best is not good enough because our “best” always has our worst in it (we can never perform perfectly, so our failures taint and negate what “good” we can offer). The only thing that will ever please Father God is the sinless sacrifice of His precious Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It was once, it was perfect, it was forever—never to be repeated, never to be matched, never to pass away. If you have not already done so, will you rely exclusively on Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, as sufficient payment for your sins? I hope you will do it today! Those who remain without Jesus Christ’s shed blood run the risk of facing something far worse than what Uzzah experienced!

Romans 3:19-28: “[19] Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. [20] Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. [21] But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; [22] Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: [23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Also see:
» My good works do not give me a right standing before God?! (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Why did God demand blood sacrifices? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» We are saved by faith, but are we blessed by works?

Will we recognize our loved ones in heaven?

WILL WE RECOGNIZE OUR LOVED ONES IN HEAVEN WHEN WE GET THERE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

It is a very common question and we turn to the Word of God to see what He has to say about this most personal issue.

Besides us dying in our sins and going to hell, or our relatives and friends dying in their sins and going to hell, the worst pain associated with living in this sin-cursed world is relatives and friends dying in Jesus Christ and going to heaven. The Bible provides comforting words in that regard. We will not only see them again (in times unfathomably happier times than we last saw them), but we will know them as soon as we see them and they will know us as soon as they see us.

The Thessalonians, enduring much persecution and even physical death itself for Jesus Christ’s sake, were comforted by the following words of the Holy Spirit: “[13] But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. [14] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. [15] For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. [16] For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: [17] Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. [18] Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

There was much suffering among—and even execution of—Christians in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-9). Hence, these saints began to wonder what happened to their loved ones who had been executed for being Christians. Paul wrote the above passage to them, to the intent that they would no longer stay “ignorant” of, or unaware of, what had happened to those who were now dead in Christ. We too can take these inspired words of God and remind ourselves of the location of the souls of those who have died possessing a testimony of salvation in Jesus Christ. Furthermore, we can take heart that we will see them again… and we will know them.

We Christians anticipate the day when we will be reunited with loved ones who have died in Jesus Christ. Commonly called “the Rapture,” from the Latin word translated “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, it is when Jesus Christ will return to Earth (or rather, Earth’s atmosphere) to receive unto Himself all members of the Church the Body of Christ, living and deceased. It will be a very quick event, when all believers will receive glorified bodies fashioned like unto Jesus Christ’s resurrected body (Philippians 3:20-21).

The question often arises at this point, “Will we be able to recognize our loved ones?” After all, we have not seen some of them in many years or decades. (They are enjoying such fellowship with Jesus Christ and each other they do not know how long it has actually been!)

The following Scriptures cause us to believe that we will certainly recognize our loved ones in heaven:

  • Firstly, on the Mount of Transfiguration, Apostles Peter, James, and John recognized Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:4; Mark 9:5; Luke 9:33)—Moses and Elijah lived several centuries earlier! There were no photographs of Moses or Elijah in those days, and yet the apostles knew their faces! How? Evidently, the Holy Spirit gave the apostles the ability to recognize these prophets of old, although these apostles knew nothing of them apart from their writings.
  • Secondly, the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20: “[19] For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? [20] Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.” Led by the Holy Spirit, Paul implied that he would recognize the Thessalonians when the Lord returned to take us to heaven. Paul would be thrilled to see them stand before Jesus Christ as mature saints, people who then would joyfully serve Him in the heavenly places. These verses should be particularly encouraging to preachers and Bible teachers, for they too will be able to see their brethren rewarded by and before the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing full well that they played a role in guiding those Christians into God’s truth. What a feeling that will be!
  • Thirdly, Jesus Christ’s resurrected body looked just as it did before He died (John 20:19-29). Jesus Christ never had to introduce Himself.

CONCLUSION

We have every reason to believe that, in heaven, we will look basically the same way as we do now (minus physical imperfections, effects of aging, et cetera). What a day that will be! Will we recognize our loved ones in heaven? (Indeed!) But, there is more than that to remember. We will recognize saints we have never even met! Those who died in Christ many centuries ago, thousands of years ago, they will recognize us and we will recognize them. Yes, will see the faces that go with the names we recognize from the Bible. Heaven would be awfully difficult if we had to go around asking everyone’s name. And how could we forget, our greatest “Loved One” of all, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will surely recognize us as we will Him! 🙂 Yes, what a day that will be!

Also see:
» What does “at the last trump” mean in 1 Corinthians 15:52?
» Do people become angels when they die? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» What did Jesus mean, “I go to prepare a place for you?” (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)

When was the book of the Revelation written?

WHEN WAS THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION WRITTEN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“You mention the canon of scripture complete @ 68ad. Many say Revelation was written in 96ad. Do you hold that Revelation was written before 68ad?” Thank you for submitting this question, and driving us to search the Bible for any clues regarding the penning of the book of the Revelation.

For a long time, I held the common view that John wrote his Gospel record, his three little epistles, and the Revelation between A.D. 90 and 100. Why did I believe that? Only because I had heard it all my life in church. Friend, I did not have a verse to support the view, so I gave up the view and kept the verses! It is a traditional idea, something that has been repeated so long and so often that no one really remembers that it lacks any Scriptural support. I will share the verses that changed my view, in just a few moments.

From what I have researched, there is no solid Biblical evidence to support the view that John wrote in A.D. 90-100. To have John writing 20 or 30 years after the deaths of Peter and Paul and some 60 or 70 years after Calvary is strange to me. Why would God have such a huge gap in New Testament chronology?

Actually, to have Revelation dated so late is, I think, partially due to a misreading of John 21:22-24. It is said that Jesus claimed John would live to be an old man, and as an old man he would see Jesus return to Earth (or at least John would see a glimpse of Jesus’ Second Coming, a supposed reference to John’s visions recorded in the book of the Revelation). If you study that passage closely in John, however, it reads so that we know there was a similar misunderstanding amongst the disciples. The Holy Spirit made sure we see that John living until Christ would come back was attached to a big “IF” (conditional, hypothetical, not 100% truth). Jesus never actually said John would live to see His Second Coming.

Then, there are the “preterists,” people who say that most or all of Bible prophecy was fulfilled in A.D. 70 when Rome overran Jerusalem and burned the Temple. They say Jesus came back at His Second Coming in A.D. 70 and established the earthly kingdom (is that ridiculous or what?!). Perhaps church tradition dated John’s writings (particularly the Revelation) to be A.D. 90-100 in order to disprove the preterists’ view. If John wrote about Christ’s coming as future from A.D. 90-100, it is said to combat preterists, then Christ did not come back in A.D. 70 (John’s writing would be pointless). While assigning John’s writings to A.D. 90-100 does indeed prove the preterists wrong, I believe it causes us to disagree with verses that indicate Paul wrote the last Bible book. The preterists are wrong for many reasons (beyond the scope of this study), but we do not need to disregard verses just to date John’s writings so late.

Here are two passages that convinced me that the book of the Revelation and John’s other Bible books were written much earlier than most scholars say.

1. COLOSSIANS 1:23-27

“[23] If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; [24] Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: [25] Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; [26] Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: [27] To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:”

One of the tasks the God of the Bible gave the Apostle Paul was for him to “fulfil the word of God.” Paul was commissioned to finish the Bible—to bring its revelation to completion—by writing the mystery program. When Paul finished writing his last epistle (which was 2 Timothy in light of 4:6-8), the revelation from God was complete. Israel’s writers had already summed up the prophetic program, and now Paul had summed up the mystery program. All of God’s will was now disclosed. Apostles Peter and Paul are estimated to have died under Roman Emperor Nero’s reign. I have read their demises occurred anywhere from A.D. 64 to 68. Obviously, Paul could not have written past his death, so I just use the latter year for simplicity. Paul wrote 2 Timothy no later than A.D. 68. To have John come 20 or 30 years later (A.D. 90-100) writing further revelation from God would not fit with these verses.

2. II TIMOTHY 3:16-17

A second passage I use in regards to dating Revelation (or all of John’s books) is 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “[16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

Paul considered the Bible complete. By writing 2 Timothy, he was writing the last book, and in that last book, he talked about a full revelation from God. In the Apostle’s mind, Christians did not need another word from God (again, prophecy was fully disclosed and mystery was fully disclosed, as I mentioned earlier). Had John’s five books (the Gospel According to John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and the Revelation) been written in A.D. 90-100, that meant a fifth of the New Testament was absent when Paul wrote 2 Timothy. How could God consider a New Testament with 22 books—five books short of the 27 books we have today—enough for Christian living to be experienced to its fullest? Whether in our mystery program or Israel’s prophetic program, believers would still be lacking five books to from which to learn and in which to be edified. Hence, I would conclude that 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says everything that God wants us to do, was now written down, and Paul could finish his ministry (the Bible now finished).

CONCLUSION

Dear friend, I have no desire to dictate to you what you should or should not believe about this matter. You are free to believe as you like, but you should be as informed as possible before you take a stand on any doctrinal matter. Thus, what I can do is provide you with the method whereby I came to a conclusion in my own mind some time back. Ask yourself three questions: “Are there any verses that support the idea that John wrote his books at such a late date as A.D. 90-100?” (I never found any.) “Are there any verses that disprove the idea that John wrote his books at such a late date?” (I believe I have found two passages.) “Are there any verses that indicate which was the last Bible book to be written?” (Again, I believe I have found two passages.) What I do urge you to do is look at Colossians 1:23-27 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and come to your own conclusion. The Bible-believing view would be to believe the Bible and let go of everything else.

It is in light of these verses and comments that I believe all New Testament Bible books were written before A.D. 68. Paul wrote the last Bible book (2 Timothy) no later than A.D. 68, and Peter wrote his last epistle (2 Peter) just before this time. To have the Apostle John writing near the end of the first century A.D. (90-100) would seem rather odd to me, considering the general consensus that almost all of the non-Johannine books of the New Testament were written 30 or so years earlier.

To me, these verses make it clear that Paul wrote the last Bible book. I have yet to have anyone give me any verses that suggest John was almost 100 when he wrote his Bible books. Although I once believed in such a late date for the Johannine books, I did not have a single verse to support that position. One day, I relinquished the view, and took a stand on verses I did have. May you too have joy and peace in believing the precious Word of God (Romans 15:13)!

Also see:
» Must I study the Bible in its original languages to understand it?
» Which Bible version should I use?
» What is the “that which is perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10?