“be strong and very courageous”

Friday, August 4, 2017

The time is near. “The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up” (Rev. 8:7). This is neither metaphorical nor allegorical, but literal. Do you believe?

The first trumpet judgment is imminent. Israel is reborn 70 years. Destruction is coming from the heavens. God will get the attention of this world and the lukewarm church. End-time signs on earth abound. Signs in the heavens herald judgment. The blood moons are past. The church is asleep. Sin is exalted. And a path of darkness in broad daylight will be visited upon the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina in just 17 days. God’s judgment is not sleeping, are you?

The age of reborn Israel is important to discerning the time of the end because Jesus promised the generation that sees Israel reborn and flourish, which began May 14, 1948, “this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place” (Matt. 24:34).

Jesus warned the end-times would be marked by apostasy and a lukewarm church, and both are increasing. That condition worsens as many pastors and teachers minimize the truth of new birth conversion faith as an intellectually simple and generally easy process. But it’s not, for Jesus said one must count the cost, for the gate of faith is narrow and its road difficult, read Matt. 7:13–14.

Salvation is not found in membership of any church. Nor is it found in Mary the mother of Jesus, or any deceased saint or apostle, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Salvation is a personal relationship between you and Christ, not between you and any organized church.

Though circumcised, the generation of ancient Israel that came out of Egypt all perished in the wilderness, except two men, Joshua and Caleb. These survived and entered the Promised Land because they were circumcised and they believed God and prepared accordingly. They did not believe the “bad report” (Num. 14:36) of the majority, but faithfully believed and trusted God.

Before ancient Israel under Joshua’s leadership fought the many tribes of giants that lived in Canaan (their tribulation) Joshua was commanded by God to circumcise the second generation who succeeded the first generation who disobeyed and disbelieved God, the ones who gave the “bad report” and therefore perished in the wilderness, read Numbers 13 and 14 and Joshua 5.

A pre-requisite to ancient Israel inheriting their Promised Land was physical circumcision and obedience to God, the two were inseparable. The post-Calvary pre-requisite of inheriting heaven is also spiritual circumcision and obedience to God in Christ, those two are again inseparable.

Spiritual circumcision is required to inherit eternal life. Similar to the circumcision Joshua performed on that second generation of Israel on their way to possess their inheritance, New Covenant circumcision of heart requires repentance; submission; humility; it’s painful to the flesh; spiritually, it kills the flesh; its identity is in the death and resurrection of Christ.

You may ask: “Who is the true Jew God accepts?” God answers, saying, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Rom. 2:28–29).

But we live in an apostate day when many pastors and teachers teach new birth conversion faith lightly, even entertainingly, on the guise of “no need for change”, “be who you want to be”, “live life your way”, “God made you that way”, “you’re fine just like you are”, “God loves you”.

But the Holy Spirit said to Mary the mother of Jesus about her own salvation and that of many others, “(yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:35). Just as the circumcision of ancient Israel cut away the flesh, so too, the sword of the Spirit cuts away the proud flesh of the heart that Christ be highly exalted.

New birth conversion faith is a deeply humbling event of submission to God, accepting personal guilt for sin with confession and repentance, trusting in the blood of Jesus to forgive you, then living a Christ-honoring life, desiring to know Him through His Word, knowing His prophetic truths, His coming judgments, and His coming redemption at the resurrection rapture.

God’s prophesied tribulation trumpet judgments will soon begin, but like ancient Israel, the majority view Jesus’ teaching that He gathers the elect “Immediately after the tribulation” (Matt. 24:29–31) as “a bad report” (Num. 14:36), twisting and disinheriting this critical part of God’s Word. But the minority who actually believe Christ take to heart what God said to Joshua: “Only be strong and very courageous” (Joshua 1:7). Only new birth faith in Christ empowers that.

Marlin J. Yoder

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