Archive for June, 2011

At The Last Trumpet

June 16, 2011 3 comments

“One day the trumpet will sound for His coming,
One day the skies with His glories will shine”

The popular Christian song Glorious Day by Casting Crowns tells of “one day” when we will see Him coming with all the saints. Clearly this song is a reference to what the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.(I Cor 15:51-52)

The mystery that Paul is unfolding here is the famous “rapture” of living saints and the “rising” of the dead saints. It was a mystery because never before had a Jewish (or Gentile) audience ever heard of a meeting of both living and dead saints. ‘When’ this will change will happen is not so much a concern to Paul at the time he penned this letter. But, safe to say, it is a real big deal in our present day — as I believe it should be.

Friends, what could be more significant than the day that believers of all time — from Adam through Abraham, David, Daniel and Paul himself — will be united together, once and for all, to live with Jesus forever and never be separated from Him again?

Paul was given supernatural revelation to know that “at the last trumpet” the end would come for this age! John, the apostle, was given the same revelation at the end of his life, about 40 years later on the island of Patmos.

In the book of Revelation, which is the revelation of Jesus Christ (Rev 1:1), we find the details of that mystery! We find a series of 21 numbered judgments that God will pour out on the earth, like He did in Egypt with the 10 plagues. By the way, did God first remove the children of Israel out of Egypt before He sent the 10 plagues or did He “protect” the children of Israel in the midst of the plagues?

The 7th Trumpet — the last trumpet?

Unfortunately, there is so little basic familiarity with the book of Revelation that many (most) believers do not even know that there is a series of 7 trumpet blasts listed there. These judgments – 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls of wrath – will unfold right at the time when Jesus takes the sealed scroll from the right hand of His Father and opens the scroll. (Rev 5)

The scroll, which is said by many to represent the “Title Deed of Earth”, is sealed shut with 7 seals. As each seal is ripped off by Jesus Christ the world experiences a judgment. The first four of these seals are the famous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Antichrist, war, famine, pestilence and death (Rev 6).

After the 7th seal is ripped open, the scroll unfurls and reveals inside – so to speak – the seven angles that will play the 7 trumpets! (Rev 8 -11). This is followed finally by the 7 bowls of God’s wrath (Rev 15-16), in which “the wrath of God is finished” and the beginning of the 1000 year reign of Jesus will commence. (Rev 20)

Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “It is done.” Rev 16: 17

Are you with me so far??

Well, back to the last trumpet. Here is what the Bible says of that 7th trumpet:

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying,
“We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.” (Rev 11:15-18)

As one preacher has put it: “This is the OUR GOD REIGNS moment!”

I find it extremely fascinating that at the 7th trumpet there is no mention of a hail and blood being thrown at the earth or blood filling the seas destroying fish and ships, or darkness falling on the earth, which we find in the previous 6 trumpets, but at the last trumpet blast we suddenly find Jesus coming to reign on this earth! This fact alone must be taken into serious consideration by Pre-Tribulation adherents, who put the timing of the Rapture much earlier. (Rev 4)

At the last trumpet we find:

1. The kingdom being given to the Lord.
2. He reigns forever and ever.
3. Nations are enraged.
4. God’s wrath is poured out on the nations.
5. The dead to be judged.
6. Saints and prophets rewarded.
7. Those who destroy the earth will be destroyed.

Truly this is an incredible, indescribable moment. Oh! That the church would take off Her blinders and see what is really written in the Word of God! There is nothing to compare with this scene of the 7th trumpet in the entire Bible.

Then the mystery of God is finished

We started with Paul acknowledging the mystery of God. We will end now with John declaring that at the 7th trumpet “the mystery of God is finished”. (Rev 10:7) The entire subject of the first half of Rev. 10 is to set up the playing of the 7th Trumpet. There we see a strong angel, “clothed with a cloud and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire” (10:1) descending to the earth, where He swears by heaven and earth and the sea that at the 7th trumpet “that there will be delay no longer, but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets. (Rev 10:6-7)

Really, I ask you? Can anything be clearer than this? This angel tells John that God has even preached this already to “His servants the prophets”!

The Glorious Return

Just two or three days before His death on the cross, Jesus spoke about His return to earth to His disciples on the Mt. of Olives. This is recorded for us in Matthew 24 where Jesus lays out the unfolding of the Last Days of this age. He speaks of the “beginning of birth pangs” that would happen on earth: wars, famine, pestilence, brother giving up brother, many false prophets, and the love of most [believers] growing cold. Yet He says clearly “but that is not yet the end.”

Then He moves to the very end of the Last Days and describes that scene. Interestingly enough we read of a Great Trumpet that sounds just as the believers are being gathered from the four corners of the earth!

“And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” (Mtt 24:30-31)

“Oh, Glorious Day! Jesus is Mine!”

In Him,

Jeff Gilbertson

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The book of Acts is the book of baptisms.

June 11, 2011 3 comments

Much of the “act”-ion in Acts is thousands and thousands of people being buried with Christ in baptism waters. A quick word study will point this out! The word “baptized” is found just 16 times combined in the four Gospels but 19 times in the book of Acts. One should also compare this number in Acts (19) with the book of Romans (1), or 1 Cor. (7), or Gal. (1).

Years ago the Lord directed me to read the book of Acts for some 2 years as we were headed into Tajikistan (2000) for church planting. It was during this time I saw significance of baptism and the importance of getting baptized immediately in the early church.

“Three thousand ‘baptized’ souls added in one day”

One of the clearest examples of the urgency and immediacy of being baptized in water must have happened on the day of Pentecost, on the birthday of the Church! After the preaching of Peter and seeing the obvious outpouring of the Spirit upon 120 individuals, men and women in the city of Jerusalem were cut to the quick and asked: “What must we do?”

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit… So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:38-41)

Did you catch that? About 3,000 souls were baptized and added to the church ON THAT DAY! Can you imagine the great effort and time involved to baptize 3,000 souls in one day?

“Look! Water!”

The next exciting example of the urgency and immediacy of being baptized in water is the Ethiopian eunuch. He had been in Jerusalem to worship, and was returning home to Africa, sitting in his chariot by himself reading the prophet Isaiah. Philip was supernaturally guided to join him in the chariot and asked him: “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip took off from where he was reading in Isaiah 53 and “beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.”

As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. (Acts 8:36-28)

Evidently, for Philip, in preaching the gospel the subject of baptism came to the forefront. The eunuch saw water along the road and immediately his thoughts came to baptism! Maybe Philip was giving him an earlier version of what Paul later told the Colossians:

Having been buried with him in baptism, you also have been raised with him through your faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead. (Col 2:12)

For Philip and the eunuch, baptism was not something for a “later date” after a “Baptism Class” but was immediate and fundamental!

“Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized”

The apostle Paul knew first hand the indispensable character of being baptized in water. After his dramatic conversion, in which a very bright light like lightening threw him to the ground and blinded him for three days, the Lord sent Ananias from Damascus to Paul for him to be healed and to be baptized in water.

‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very time I looked up at him. And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth… Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’ (Acts 22:13-16)

I want to underlined this so you won’t miss it! “Why do you delay? Get up and be baptized!” In the church of the 21st Century we ask people to make a decision for Jesus. We ask that they “raise a hand” or stand up at a meeting or “repeat a prayer”. In the early days of the New Testament church they had people not stand up but be buried down deep into the waters of baptism to identify with Christ’s death and come up from the water clothed with Jesus!

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Gal 3:27)

The First Baptisms in in Europe

Lydia, the first convert in Europe, was listening to Paul preach the gospel and was immediately baptized, she and her household, whereupon she opened her home to the apostles. (Acts 16)

The Philippian jailer, who was guarding the prisoners Paul and Silas, was so impacted by the “Midnight Earthquake Rescue” of the Lord that he cried out to the apostles: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” At that point he had not even heard the gospel but saw it in action!

Wounded and bleeding from being beaten with rods earlier in the day Paul and Silas answered:

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.(Acts 16:31-33)

Please don’t read past this as being too familiar: the jailer was one moment going to kill himself with his own sword because he thought his prisoners had escaped. The next moment he is washing the apostles’ wounds and bandaging them up. While it is still dark, in the middle of the night, he wakes up his whole household and has them all baptized along with himself!

New Testament baptism in water was immediate and urgent

“Time will fail me if I tell of” the baptisms of Cornelius, the centurion of the Italian cohort, and his relatives and close friends (Acts 10); Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, with all his house (Acts 18); the twelve disciples of John who lived in Ephesus (Acts 19). In each and every case of conversion in the New Testament, baptism in water was immediate (that same day!) and urgent! I do not believe there is any exception to this!

We, in the western church in particular, have regrettably exchanged the early church practice of immediate and urgent baptism in water with a weak “public confession” and a raised hand. Many untold thousands may have given too quick an assent to the Gospel and have found themselves, days or months (and possibly years later!), like those three types of soil in Jesus’ parable:

1. the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.
2. the man has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.
3. the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

May we have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

Jeff Gilbertson

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The “restitution of all things” will begin at the Millennium.

June 3, 2011 Leave a comment

One of the most startling aspects of the Millennium – the 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ from the city of God, Jerusalem – will be creation brought back to its Garden of Eden state. Isaiah speaks often of this age and tells of a time when the “curse” brought on by Adam’s sin will be reversed.

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. (Isa. 11:6-8)

Isaiah prophesied that the 2nd Coming will bring the dawn of the world’s greatest age; what Jesus called the “regeneration of the world” (Mtt 19) and Peter termed “the times of the restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21).

“No longer will you have the sun for light by day, Nor for brightness will the moon give you light; But you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And your God for your glory. Your sun will no longer set, Nor will your moon wane; For you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And the days of your mourning will be over. (Isa. 60:19-20)

Unfortunately, the church has been so little taught in this area that they believe this to be “poetic exaggeration” and miss the whole meaning of the text as a Millennial scene! Thankfully, Jesus didn’t miss the true interpretation. He echos Isaiah’s words and tells His disciples that the “regeneration” (Mtt 19:27) will begin with the onset of the Millennium when He comes to sit on His throne.

Presently, Jesus sits at the right hand of His Father on HIS FATHER’S THRONE, waiting until all His enemies are made as a footstool for His feet (Ps 110). When the appointed time comes, Jesus will leave heaven one last, final time and will descend to earth, where He will rule and reign from HIS THRONE in Jerusalem as the son of David. (Rev 3:21)

Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones [on earth], judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:27, 28)

Paul, similarly, wrote of a time when creation would be freed from its slavery to corruption. Of course he did not call it “the Millennium” (a point that frustrates so many Bible scholars) because no one before John the Beloved in Revelation was given the length of this “age of regeneration”!

“For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Rom 8:21)

In this regeneration of the world the twelve disciples will sit on thrones on earth, not in heaven.

But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:28-30).

After the 1000 years of Jesus bringing all things under His feet, “when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power” (I Cor 15), God, the Father, has purposed to allow Satan free reign again, just like in the Garden of Eden. Remember that earth at this time will be very similar in all facets to the original Garden of Eden. Yet the Father will extinguish Satan’s last revolt before it can even get started (Rev 20) and will wipe all evil, in any form, off the planet. Then, at last, the Father will once again be united with His Son on this earth (which will be “renewed by fire”) and together, from the New Jerusalem, they will live in intimate and unbroken fellowship with redeemed humanity and creation forever. (Rev 21-22)

The last page of your Bible takes you right back to the first page! Yet this time around the devil and all his angels are locked up in the lake of fire forever…

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.(Rev 22:20)

Yours for the soon coming King,

Jeff Gilbertson

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