Dealing with Doubts of Divine Declarations :: By Gene Lawley

When I became a new-born believer in Christ, it was a shocking experience. I had no idea it would be like that when becoming a Christian. I remember thinking, when a teenager, that one day perhaps I would become a Christian, but it would have to be as an old guy who could only sit on a front porch in a rocking chair and watch the world go by. Otherwise, I could never make it work, to live without fault.

But when I finally was brought to realize that I was really an ungodly person and Christ had died for me, in my place, the peace of God that came upon me was astounding. It really felt great. Then came the enemy with his whispered doubts for which I had no answers.

My feelings were no longer sufficient for that.

God had brought a mentor to me, a couple of them, in fact. And what a total blessing that was for me! I began to get some key verses of Scripture memorized, and the warfare began to shift to my advantage. The truth of the Word overcame the “on and off” reaction of my feelings, and a measure of stability began to take effect. I relate all of this to assure the reader that the promises of God are the foundation of our assurance of salvation and not our feelings.

That truth is documented in 2 Timothy 2:13, “If we believe not, yet He abides faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (KJV). This relates to one person, who, in his frustration with me, challenged me, saying, “If you can’t believe the Word of God, I don’t know what to tell you!”

Two examples of doubting are recorded in the gospels by John the Baptist and Thomas, both having to do with their being alone and away from the fellowship of other believers. John had been imprisoned for his unrelenting witness against the immoral activity of the Roman leadership, and Matthew 11:2-3 tells us this: “And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples who said to Him, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’”

John was the one who was baptizing at the Jordan River and saw Jesus walking nearby and exclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) and later, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Imagine yourself in a dungeon and knowing your days were numbered. How easy doubts would swarm into your thoughts and try to take over.

Then there was Thomas, one of the disciples. He was somewhere off alone, perhaps, but at least not with the other disciples when Jesus met them after His resurrection. Eight days later—imagine how long those days must have seemed to Thomas—he was with the disciples when Jesus appeared again. Thomas had said to the others during that time, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).

When Jesus appeared in the room when all the doors were closed, Thomas only had to see Him to exclaim, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

It is one of the many tricks of the devil, to get a believer alone, isolated, where he can mess up his mind with questions and doubts. So it is important that we do not forsake opportunities to be with other believers, especially where there is fellowship in the Word. In these last days, Hebrews 10:25 points that out: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

A new Christian once made what I thought was a very mature observation: “The way to get new Christians to stand up for Christ is to lean them against each other.” I would add to that also, doubting Christians.

Doubting the inspiration of the Scriptures is a fault that will shipwreck your faith with a subtle, creeping dullness that comes upon your heart and soul, it seems to me. Let alone the fact that Satan is gleefully urging you onward. Many facts point to the complete inspiration of the Bible, but Paul’s declaration in 2 Timothy 3:16 stands out: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness.”

Then, Peter testified of the reality of what he had witnessed on the Mountain of Transfiguration, then affirmed Paul’s declaration with more detailed revelation of how those words were received:

“For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:16-21).

But you may say, “Well, what about the New Testament? All they had was the Old Testament, and the other had not been written yet, for the most part.” Peter also has this to say about that argument:

“And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

“You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked” (2 Peter 3:15-17).

What reason would Peter have to lie? He writes in that epistle that he was soon to face death, so this could be called his “death-bed confession” without marring the validity of authenticity it portrays as from the hand of God. Just how far does this statement of Paul, in Romans 14:23(b), penetrate into our lives, for it does say “whatsoever”: “…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

The place to start overcoming doubts about God and His promises is right there—start with God. Who is He, what are His credentials, where else is there any real truth with adequate substantiation? Peter seems to have summed it up rather conclusively, at least for himself:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we believe and are sure that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” (John 6:68-69).

Are we to believe that? Yes! The scriptures do not lie, and God is not a liar, nor can He change:

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19), and:

“But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25).

Doubt classifies as a temptation, not a sin. Just don’t act on it. We need to have the attitude that father had, as told in Mark 9:24, “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’”

Jesus made His promises to be believed, and John wrote to that point in John 20:30-31, admitting that he had not exhausted the total wealth of all of them in his writing:

“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

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As Signs of the Times Unfold :: By Gene Lawley

Signs of the TimesOutside my front window is a rose bush, a Peace Rose. Back in the summer last year it produced one, then several beautiful roses. Then I cut the faded ones back, and new branches came out and budded. The buds felt cool, and I wondered if they would fully blossom before frost came. But they did and gradually unfolded into large, full-bodied roses of beautiful colors. That is the way the signs of the times are unfolding into a beautiful fulfillment of our “Looking for that Blessed Hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13) that believers have been so long anticipating.

After Jesus told us, “When these things begin to happen, look up, for your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28), He told of the blossoming of the fig tree, a symbol of the nation of Israel, indicating the rebirth of the nation. This happened on May 14, 1948, having been in the budding stage since at least the Balfour Declaration by the British in 1917. As the rose unfolds, so did this sign of the times, which marked a turning point for dating the beginning of the last days or end times.

After Ezekiel wrote of that in Ezekiel 37, where he told of a valley of dry bones being restored to fully fleshed-out and alive bodies, he spoke to the Hebrew people this from the heart of God:

“Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. The nations also will know that I, the Lord, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore” (Ezekiel 37:26-28).

Signs of the Times
This covenant of God is forevermore. The one that Daniel reports in Daniel 9:27 is one that only lasts for seven years and appears to be one that is imposed upon Israel by a secular entity – the United Nations, in all likelihood. In the timeframe, both reports of covenants appear to be parallel. Is God answering and reassuring Israel of His long-term intentions for their benefit and blessing?

This seven-year covenant apparently is the missing 70th week of judgment upon Israel that is told about earlier in Daniel’s prophecy, which stops at the end of the 69th week. This final period concludes with the Antichrist cancelling that covenant and shutting down the sacrifices and offerings in the temple that had just been rebuilt. That deceiver then enters the temple, declaring himself God and demanding that all people worship him.

This is reported again by Paul in his second letter to the Thessalonians. It is the abomination of desolation of the temple foretold also by Daniel and again by Jesus as a future event that occurs in that last half of the seven-year tribulation:

“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand) then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matthew 24:15-16).

Signs of the Times
The pattern of responses to Israel’s attempts to trade land for peace so far has shown failure in securing that peace—thinking of the Gaza transfer—and punishment upon Israel’s attending prime ministers as well.

The start of it with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was on September 28, 1995, when the Second Oslo Accord was officially signed, pointing to a 2005 actual transfer. Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995. When the Gaza Strip transfer was made on November 4, 2005, Ariel Sharon was Prime Minister of Israel and was responsible for the details of the transfer of all properties to the Palestinians. Then, he was incapacitated by a stroke in January 2006, and lay in a coma for the next eight years, dying on January 11, 2014.

What does all of this tell us? Possibly, and quite probably, God does not approve of the transfer of land for peace. It looks like, now, that the settled covenant that will be imposed upon Israel and the Palestinians will involve more land swaps and a two-state solution. What will be God’s response? He does not approve of Israel giving away land that was promised to Israel in past centuries.

The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3: “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.  For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.

Signs of the Times
“They” and “them” are those who will experience sudden destruction. Who now wants peace and safety because her neighbors want to wipe them off the face of the earth, according to Psalm 83? It is Israel.

It appears to be the result of that covenant of Daniel 9:27 that gives them seven years of false peace. It introduces that period which Jeremiah 30:7 calls “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” They will build a new temple, however, as has been a strong desire and plan of Israel for a very long time. Halfway through the seven years, however, the Antichrist will invade the temple, shut down its sacrifices and offerings and declare himself to be God, demanding that all worship him as God. In 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 13 and 17 it speaks of this, and earlier in this report.

At the beginning of that time, however, the “sudden destruction” that comes like a thief in the night with the Day of the Lord is the result of the Rapture of the believers in Christ, for that worldwide extraction of a great multitude of people suddenly will cause widespread havoc and terror.

That passage in 1 Thessalonians 5 is a continuation of the context of the last of 1 Thessalonians 4 which describes the Rapture.

Signs of the Times
Overshadowing that time of the confirmation of the covenant and the Rapture is the invasion of Israel by Gog of the far north, or Russia. If we think chronologically, Ezekiel writes of that in Ezekiel 38 and 39, following his telling of God’s promise of an everlasting covenant for Israel. Then in Ezekiel 40, he begins a detailed description of how to build the temple.

To me, it seemed impossible for there to be a way to get Russia, now in the Middle East, back up to the far north, with her back turned away in disinterest in anything down south. And then, God would turn her around, put hooks in her jaws, and drag her back upon the mountains of Israel for that destructive war Ezekiel describes in Ezekiel 38-39.

Then it exploded in my mind!

God has already done that at the end of the Cold War when the Soviet Union was dismantled and Russia was in defeat and shame. Her back was turned on Israel. Then, Vladimir Putin rose up with Russian pride possessing him and began to see the plunder possible in the Middle East, and especially Israel. Gog is already down there, ready to pounce.

The coming signs of the times certainly involves this, the Gog-Magog war. Notice particularly though, that Ezekiel does not mention the Rapture nor how the temple is allowed to be rebuilt. That is all of secular doings, while he is concerned with Israel activities. He goes directly from the promise of an everlasting covenant to the war, then the temple’s rebuilding in Ezekiel 40.

Signs of the Times
Joel’s prophecy in Joel 2 of a great battle “before that great and awesome day of the Lord” could be descriptive of the Gog-Magog war except for one thing. Joel’s battle is said to be “before” that “great and awesome day of the Lord,” while the day of the Lord mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 results in Israel being at “peace” and secure for Gog’s failed attempt to plunder Israel’s wealth. This fits into the picture after that initial, introductory day of the Lord.

Joel’s prophecy seems to indicate a more deadly, awesome time of judgment that would occur during the last half of the tribulation period such as at the battle of Armageddon. This period is also called the Great Tribulation, indicating a greater and more awesome judgment, though that first half of the period is not without its share of tribulation.

Signs of the Times
When current events happen and are identified with Bible prophecy, it stirs up excitement in the hearts of those who have been watching those things. The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States has brought the destiny of the nation of Israel front and center because of his intention of solving Israel’s difficulties in the Middle East. He has ordered the moving of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and he has put together an envoy headed by his Jewish son-in-law that has been busy on the renewal of peace-agreement talks with a view of success.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, has stated that Israel is not against a two-state solution to arrive at an agreement of peace with the Palestinians; it is they who are against it. The Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel’s existence at all. An imposed covenant by the United Nations could be the result in the not-too-far future.

An event explosion of that nature would launch the Rapture and the seven years of tribulation in which the body of Christ, the true church, will have no part here on earth.

Thus, there will be the unfolding, like the rose by my front window, of the events of the coming of Jesus at the sound of the trumpet!

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