Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WE WILL SEE HIM!

“This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

A flesh and bone body was laid in the tomb, and it was a resurrected flesh and bone body that Thomas touched (see John 20:26-29). He touched His hands and put his hand in His side. This was truly a man—glorified—who ascended to the Father! Jesus did not vaporize before them; He was lifted in a cloud until He was out of sight. What an awesome sight it had to have been: Jesus glowing—radiant with glory—face heavenward—slowly lifted above them. The apostles had to have fallen on their knees!

They saw the whole advent with their eyes fixed on Him: “While they looked steadfastly toward heaven” (Acts 1:10). They did not blink an eye and He was gone! It is true that we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye: “We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Paul is talking about our bodily change when we are “caught up together with [the resurrected dead] in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). He will come quickly, suddenly, and we will be changed bodily in a moment.

The writer of the book of Hebrews suggests God’s people will see the day approaching: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together . . . but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). “But we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him” (Revelation 1:7). “And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads” (Revelation 22:4). Stephen, “being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55). Stephen is a type of those living in the last days—“full of the Holy Ghost”—who will be given open eyes and an open heaven. We will see Jesus coming in glory with all the holy angels and we will see the train of His glory!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

PREPARING TO GO OUT TO MEET HIM

“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. . . . And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:6-7, 9-11).

Jesus gathered together those who were chosen to see Him ascend to the Father—“being assembled together with them” (Acts 1:4). About 120 were called together by Jesus Himself to the Mount of Olives. I don’t think they knew or grasped what was about to happen. He had tried to prepare them for His return to the Father: “I go to my Father, and ye [shall] see me no more” (John 16:10). How could a finite mind comprehend such words? How would He be going? Would He die again? Would angels take Him? Would a chariot come as it did for Elijah or would He suddenly vanish into thin air? It was something Jesus had warned them about: “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father” (John 14:28). They said, “What is this that he saith, A little while? We cannot tell what he saith” (John 16:18).

In the same way He gathered the disciples, Jesus will again gather His people to prepare us for His return. But will we understand? God has always had a people, but just prior to His coming He will do just as He did before He left. He is doing it now, in fact! It is happening here in Times Square Church and all across America, China, Europe, Poland, Russia. By the call of the Holy Spirit, small companies and larger groups are coming together to “go out to meet Him.” They have heard the trumpet! They have heard the cry, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6).

Monday, October 20, 2014

CHRIST HAS SET US FREE by Gary Wilkerson

Think of all these blessed things: intimate prayer with the Lord; reading His wondrous Word; sharing His gospel joyfully. They are all wonderful practices that make for a joyful, fulfilling life. Yet we often make merit-based works out of them—arduous, duty-bound labors. By doing so, we neglect “so great a salvation”—a saving grace that does not fail. You see, even when we fail, the New Covenant does not. According to Paul, that truth should set us free, not enslave us.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1, ESV). Throughout this epistle Paul asks believers, “Why would you ever go back to an Old Covenant of works? That system will only re-enslave you. You’ve been given the New Covenant, which sets you free to love and serve God in perfect liberty.”

Paul hammered this home to the Galatians, saying the gospel empowers us in the Spirit through grace. But the Galatians kept trying to live out the gospel through a lens of works. They were convinced, “If I do this, I’ll get a blessing. If I don’t, I’ll get a curse.”

We may not see this in ourselves, but we tend to do something similar today. Our attitude is, “I’ll do my best to obey God’s commands and then He’ll have to bless me.” But God says differently through the New Covenant: “I have blessed you already, before you even attempt to obey My commands. I also know you can’t keep my Word perfectly, so I will empower you to keep it through My Spirit. My grace will be the power behind your works, not your own strength.”

This is the core of the gospel: God does it all! Therefore, when we are told to “pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1), it doesn’t mean we’re to pay greater attention to rule-keeping. Instead, we are to pay attention to the gospel of grace that has set us free.