And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring... Luke 21:25
On August 21, a total solar eclipse crossed the United States.
On August 25, Hurricane Harvey assaulted south Texas with unprecedented destruction.
As many have pointed out by now, Luke 21:25 describes signs in the earth and sea and cosmos that let us know we are at the time of the end. It is no coincidence that even the very reference matches the dates of a sign in the sun and in the same week, signs on the earth and sea.
I'm traveling today so this may be a little more disjointed and less polished than I like, but these words are burning in my soul. I ask myself “What would love say?” as I sit down to pour out my heart. How do tender mercies talk about uncomfortable truths? How do I write about my deep, heart-leaping JOY over something that others regard with heart-stopping fear? How do I share my perspective of hope while others hold a perspective of dread over the same thing?
Today I wake to news of an 8.1 earthquake in Mexico (followed by many large aftershocks), TWO large earthquakes in Japan, Russia preparing for war, continued threats by North Korea, Irma devastating the Caribbean and heading now for Miami, hurricanes Katia & Jose stirring up the seas. Many signs & prophecies are being fulfilled. We also had two huge solar flares yesterday; tomorrow Jupiter stops retrograde & begins to exit Virgo; International Day of Peace with this year's theme of Peace, Dignity, Respect & Safety is on the 21st followed by the prophetic constellation alignment of Rev. 12: 1-2 on September 23.
I can't even keep up with it all. And as I watch & witness these events unfold, I keep coming back to asking myself, what is the most important thing? It may sound religious and cliche, but truly: the most important thing is the hope of eternal life and redemption through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ who gave his life for us so that we can have salvation.
And this is where I owe a public apology.
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness...Rom. 4:5
I am deeply and unequivocally sorry that I have ever in my entire life communicated a gospel that may have said or implied that salvation, the free gift of eternal life, is anything more than simply trusting the blood of Jesus.
It's not trusting + repentance of sin.
It's not trusting + living a holy life.
It's not trusting + being baptized.
It is trusting + nothing.
Salvation is by grace through faith in the blood of Jesus who died for our sins.
Want eternal life?
That's it. Really...that's it. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved. You don't even have to say a prayer. You can if you want to, but the prayer itself doesn't save you. It is not about what we do; it is about what was done for us. It is trusting in the finished work of Christ, who, as he was dying, cried out, “It is finished!”
If you put your trust in ANYthing other than Christ alone (even something holy and good) you are saying that what he did isn't enough.
The Pharisees were those who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous,” (Luke 18:9) and we know that Jesus warned, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:20)
Our righteousness comes not from anything we do. It is simply from Christ alone. (1 Cor. 1:29-30, Phil. 3:8-9)
The true gospel is the most beautiful thing and one reason why I love this faith so much...because it is for everyone. It levels the playing field. Everyone gets an “equal opportunity.” There is no more “trying.” You don't have to be “good enough.” Be good if you want to! Be good and do good out of a grateful heart of love to Jesus for what He did for you. It is your reasonable service, but it is not what saves you. Oh, what a relief! It's not up to us. You don't have to stress out over being perfect to be saved. You don't have to live your life tip-toeing on eggshells, afraid to mess up. It puts everyone equal...the “saint” and the “sinner” alike...makes us all equal so we can ALL have hope! Everyone can be saved simply by trusting in the one who “justifies the ungodly,” (Rom. 4:5) who did the work for us so we can rest and be free!
Belief, not behavior
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures... 1 Cor. 15:1-4
Believe in Jesus. Trust what He did for you.
Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:28-29
My past error was confusing salvation with sanctification. Sanctification is the Spirit-led lifestyle of believers who are devoted to God and walk in the Spirit. Works are good but they are not what saves us. We are saved unto good works, not by them. To be saved, trust in Jesus. That is all!
Salvation does not mean “repent of your sins.” If we had to stop sinning in order to be saved, no one could. Not even the best, most pious of us. Not even the most saintly among us. We all sin. It's not a measurable. It's not about sinning a little instead of a lot. It's not about being mostly good. Perfection is the standard of God. Because God is alone is perfect and no one could measure up, our hope and salvation lie in a perfect substitute: Yeshua the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain who loves us and gave his life for us so we may live.
Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid!
A teacher I've grown to love, Renee Roland, points out that salvation is about belief, not behavior.
The true gospel gives hope. How does an addict have hope if you tell her to stop sinning?! She knows she can't change her behavior, so it brings despair, not hope. But Jesus gives hope. If an addict can rest her hope fully on Jesus Christ and trust that her eternal life does not depend on her own perfectly successful overcoming of addiction, but in what Jesus did for her...now that brings hope! And once one believes unto salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell and THEN there is divine power to help overcome addiction.
But it's not before.
Yet religious Christianity has taught belief PLUS behavior. They might preach with their mouth “grace through faith,” yet go on to teach that “faith without works is dead, so you better have works.”
And I have in the past been swept up in this.
Salvation really is free. Forever. No strings attached. You can't become unborn.
Where I was confused before is that I read where Jesus, John the Baptist, and the disciples proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom and said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and “Repent and be baptized.”
That was the gospel for then, when Jesus the Messiah came to Israel which was still under the law. This is NOT the gospel for today!
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. Gal. 1:8
Let him be accursed.
These strong words convey the seriousness of this message. Adding anything to the gospel of grace creates another gospel, one that is the doctrine of demons (1 Tim. 4:1) and so evil because it sounds so “good” and yet it is the broad way that leads to destruction because it is not the right gospel!
Faith plus repentance of sins and baptism (and other good works) was the gospel of the old covenant. It is the gospel that was in effect when Jesus was alive before he died on the cross. It's not the gospel for today! The gospel we have today is that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again according to the Scriptures. The writer of Hebrews tells us that in order for there to be a new covenant there must be the death of the testator:
Heb. 9:15-17 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.
Do you see how proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom (a faith + works gospel) is accursed? Because it ignores Jesus' sacrifice and makes it “unnecessary!” It completely skips the cross.
Faith + anything completely skips the cross.
As I've been writing over the past few months, I believe we are in the prophesied last days. It may be this year, next year, or five years down the road, but Yeshua will soon return to receive us to Himself.
I cannot express to you the profound joy I have knowing that our redemption draws nigh! I have been so moved by the following passage of scripture and am reminded of how, just as the two last days witnesses will shortly arrive on earth, there were two “first witnesses” when Jesus was born: Simeon and Anna. In a way, they are a shadow-type of us who believe.
Luke 2:25-32 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
Luke 2:36-38 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
Beloved one, as the body of Christ, believers are now in this precious space of “waiting for the consolation of Israel” and filled with the Holy Spirit. Lord willing, if we are “alive and remain” (1 Thess. 4:15-17) we too may not “see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.”
And then this prayer of Simeon's can be our glorious heart-and-soul cry: “Lord, now you are letting your servant(s) DEPART in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
I am so full of joy...and blessed to watch and wait for that glorious day where, like the prophetess Anna, who did “not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day....” we too will be in the presence of the Most High.
Jesus said of the faithful Church: (Rev. 3:11-12) “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more.” John saw this, and wrote in Rev. 7:14 “...These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.”
Here again we have hope! Rev. 3:10 says of the faithful believers, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from (Greek: ek) the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
The Greek to English equivalent is “...I also you will keep OUT OF the hour of the of trial...”
Here, “out of” is the Greek word “Ek” (Strong's G1537) and is the same “Ek” that is told to John in Rev. 7:14...“these are those coming out of the tribulation great...” (Greek to English).
And so, like Anna, we can “give thanks to the Lord, and [speak] of Him to all those who [look] for redemption...”
WE ARE THE CHOSEN ONES to be here right now, watching and waiting; God's witnesses to the closing of the age of grace, and what a blessing and humble honor to be alive now!