In studying Revelation and the mark of the beast, I am more appreciative of the truth of the seal that we believers have. Unlike the mark that worshippers of Antichrist will take (which in the Greek language, is a stamp, imprinted mark, brand, or carved image), the seal we have is the living third Person of the Trinity! We are sealed and secured by the Holy Spirit Himself living inside of us! The guarantee is that He will keep us through this life and through death in order to get us to Jesus and the heavenly reward we have in Him. The only “promise” that Satan makes through the mark of the beast is that one can buy and sell in that wicked economy. Food, however, will not prevent either the earthly or eternal wrath of God.
Thank you, Jesus, for securing our salvation and giving to us Your very Spirit as the promise!
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)
“If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.” (Revelation 14:9-10)
What a contrast. Wow.
– Shelli Prindle
A total solar eclipse takes place on August 21, 2017, and the media is going wild about it. Schools and libraries are providing the special glasses necessary to watch the eclipse, and people are gearing up for this great event in the sky. I cannot turn on the television or look on my computer without hearing about the solar eclipse. To be honest, it’s an exciting phenomenon, and learning about eclipses is a part of exploring this great creation of which God has made us a part (Romans 1:20). However, as dedicated followers of Jesus Christ, we must ask ourselves the question, “What is the eclipse eclipsing?”
Let’s go to a scenario that we find in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus has been teaching crowds of people and doing multiple types of miracles. After Jesus took time to get away from the crowds, the “religious bigwigs” of the day came to Him to try to trip Him up. (They were always trying to cause Jesus trouble. Imagine! The religious leaders constantly sought to disprove the very one who came to save them from their sin!) In the Pharisees and Sadducees attempt to test Christ, “they asked him to show them a sign from heaven” (Matthew 16:1) Had they not had enough of the miracles He performed on earth? Were they looking for one to occur in the sky? Surely, they knew of Old Testament prophecies of the signs to occur in the heavens before the day of the Lord. “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.” (Joel 2:30-31)
Sadly, the Pharisees and Sadducees were not looking for the real Jesus. They were not searching for a Messiah who could forgive sins by the sacrifice of His life, because they were quite confident in their own goodness. And so, instead of looking for the “sign” of the real Messiah, they were looking for more earthly, heavenly, or fleshly miracles. I hope that you are as shocked as I am at the response of Jesus when they asked for a sign from heaven: “He answered them, ‘When it is evening, you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, “It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.” You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.’ So he left them and departed.” (Matthew 16:2-4)
What a pointed, convicting, profound and yet incredibly simple statement Jesus made! “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” In other words, they knew how to read the skies to predict the weather, but they did not use the same intelligence to read the Scripture and understand that the Savior of the world was standing right in front of them! I think of our society today! We know how to blast the science behind the eclipse on every news channel, and we are quick to instruct our children about this phenomenon in the sky; but are we as quick to proclaim the reality of spiritual truth to the world around us? Are we “on the ball” when it comes to making sure the next generation watches not only the sky for the sky’s events but watches the sky for the return of Jesus?
God in the flesh stood in front of these people who were smart enough to lift their heads up and see that a storm cloud meant rain. Yet their spirits were so dull that they would not reach out and embrace the one of Whom the entire Old Testament was written – the book they prided themselves in knowing.
It is the same today. The Jesus of Whom the entire Bible is written is largely neglected in our everyday living. The only One who can save our eternal souls stands among us in the power of His Holy Spirit and His Word. We are smart enough – we have time enough – to study and promote a total solar eclipse, even while a total spiritual eclipse is taking place.
I could go on and on about what God’s Word says of the second coming of Jesus – of what it says about the times in which we live. God is not silent concerning the end of time. It’s all in the Bible. Sadly, though, we are often more interested in the things God is trying to use to point to Himself than we are of Him.
Yes! Learn about the eclipse. Talk of the science behind it. BUT, more than all of that, declare the Lord who made the moon and the sun and the stars! Declare His plan of salvation and His soon return to the earth! Be obsessed with Jesus Christ. He is the One behind everything in earth and heaven. He is your only hope. He is worth infinitely more intrigue than a million solar eclipses. Don’t let the eclipse eclipse Him and His plan.
“Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these?” (Isaiah 40:26)
– Shelli S. Prindle
We are living in between two parentheses. We are living in the middle of a particular time – a brief interlude – but a critical era. We are living between the ascension of the God-Man to Heaven and the return of Him back to this broken world.
Picture, if you will, all of history from Adam and Eve to the resurrection of Jesus as one, messy timeline. At the end of that line, put a parenthesis. Then, in your mind, leave a space and put the second parenthesis. After that mark, begin another timeline. It will start when Jesus returns, and that line will continue infinitely, as the New Heaven and New Earth under the perfect reign of Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, we live in that space – the one right between the parentheses.
I often ask myself why Jesus just doesn’t come back right now? Why won’t He break into human history and show Himself to be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Why won’t He come back today to destroy all powers of evil and make things right?
There is a reason for the parentheses, and it is given clearly in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” We see here that the reason Jesus is waiting to come back is that He wants as many people as will be saved to be saved. God patiently waits to bring about His eternal plan because He wants the maximum number of people to be a part of that glorious kingdom. It’s that simple.
But wait. While it may be straightforward; it is also convicting. If the one reason that Jesus is waiting to return is that He wants every last person who will respond to the Gospel to be brought in, then that should be the reason I live! My time in the parentheses – though difficult – has a purpose. God is not keeping us in the parentheses era just to have fun, be entertained, achieve selfish goals, or build up an earthly kingdom of our own; we are in the parentheses to help see as many souls come to salvation as possible. We should desire – as God does – that people in the parentheses will live eternally after we exit the second parenthesis mark. We should be praying, living, working, and interacting in such a way that as many as possible are made aware of the reality of Jesus, His Word, and His salvation, so that they are spared eternal judgment beyond the second parenthesis.
I guess that’s why Jesus described a “wicked servant” as one who says in his heart, “My master is delayed” (Matthew 24:48). Wickedness begins with the thought that the return of Jesus is not near and not a priority. 2 Peter 3: 3-4 declares, “Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For … all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’” Wicked servants do the same as scoffers; they give little credence to the promise of the imminent return of Jesus. This disbelief results in sinful behavior. Matthew 24:49 informs us that the wicked servant – after declaring that the coming of Jesus is delayed – “begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards.” Living for the glory of God and spreading His Gospel are not anymore the priority for this mocker. Instead, he lives selfishly – even brutally – towards God and others.
We are in the parentheses … for a reason! We are to live expectantly. We are to be wide awake. We are to be waiting – and working – until He comes. God has an infinitely good reason for allowing this season between the comings of Jesus. Is that your reason for living, too?
– Shelli S. Prindle
At the end of this world and the beginning of the next, we will all stand before our Creator. He will judge each one of us. Of that fact, there is no doubt. The question is, what’s the difference with the damned? Why will some be forever cast into what God has termed “the lake of fire”? For that matter, why will some be spared such condemnation? There exists near the end of the book of Revelation a short passage that brings the essence of the difference into sharp focus. Let’s read it first:
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15, ESV)
Here we have a summary of the judgment of people who will be forever damned. We notice first that not even the earth or sky itself can stand in the presence of God’s holiness as He begins the final judgment. There is, therefore, no refuge for anyone to escape or to have eased the devastation of what is about to take place. Notice, secondly, that all of the dead – both the great and the small – must stand before the throne. Your soul’s destiny depends not on how influential or wealthy you were in this life, and your status of seeming insignificance or poverty does not excuse you from judgment; all must stand before the throne.
The key component on which we want to focus here is the books that are opened. First, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle John tells us in this passage that “books were opened.” Then he adds that “another book was opened, which is the book of life” (verse 12). We clearly understand, then, that this one book of life stands out from the other books. There is a group of books which are unnamed, and there is the book of life.
We are informed that the dead – the “spiritually dead” that is – are judged by what is written in the unspecified books. The contents of these books must be the sinful acts of the damned, because we are told simultaneously that these people were judged “according to what they had done” (verse 12). And no one escapes; the sea (the troubled and sinful world, as I understand it) and all of Death and Hades had to give up the dead in their possession. In other words, no matter when these people had died, no matter if their spirits and bodies had long been separated from God or only shortly, no matter if their bodies had been in the ground for thousands of years or just a few moments, no matter where they had died, and no matter from where they came, death had to yield to God its power over people so that God could make His final, sovereign, and irrevocable judgment.
Death obeys … and gives them up. The solemn words of verse thirteen demonstrate the complete power of almighty God, as Death and Hades give up the dead and “they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done” (verse 13). We observe here the repeating of the same phrase we saw in verse twelve. We read twice that the damned are judged by the things that they did. Their wrong, ungodly, and rebellious actions and words – their sins – are here resulting in an eternal destiny. On the basis of their own sins, they are forever damned to the lake of fire.
Verse fifteen adds one specific emphasis; those who end up in the lake of fire also did not have their names placed in the book of life. Not only do the condemned find themselves paying finally for their sinfulness, but their doom is doubly sealed, for their names are not recorded in the one book that stands alone – the book of life. Clearly, the one difference between the damned and the saved – between those who are put in the lake of fire and those who are not – is one factor. Is his or her name written in this book of life? If a name is not written in that one book, then all of his sins are heaped upon him at the end of time.
I want to make this point unequivocally plain: you will either be judged by your sins or judged by your inclusion in the book of life. You will either one day have the culmination of all the guilt and punishment for rebelling against God heaped on you as your sins are read from many books, or you will stand before the throne and hear only one thing called out to you – your name from the one book of life. All the sins that I have ever committed brought to me for damnation, or hearing God read my name from a book that ensures my safety and everlasting delight – those are the choices.
So how do we get our name in the book of life? We need to know the Owner of the book! We need to have a relationship with the Person to whom that book belongs! He is Jesus. Revelation 21:27 calls that one book “the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 13:8 labels it “the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” There is only one Lamb with a capital “L.” There is only one slain Lamb that ultimately matters when it comes to my sin and my destiny. John the Baptist said it best, as recorded in the Gospel of John, chapter one, verse 29, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” The Apostle Peter corroborates John the Baptist’s statement in 1 Peter 1:18-19, “…knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
Jesus was the Lamb who was put to death for our sins. He spilled His own blood on the Cross of Calvary to pay for your sinfulness. When He gave up His life that day outside the gates of Jerusalem, He took your sin upon His own shoulders – IF you believe in Him. If you truly believe in the Jesus of the Cross, the Jesus of the Bible, the Jesus who invaded earthly history to die and rise again, the Jesus who is coming back one day, the Jesus who is the ONLY ONE who can pay for your sin and put your name in the wonderful book of life – if you believe in Him, you are safe from eternal condemnation and the lake of fire. This belief in Him must be real and applied. You have to believe in Jesus to the point that it changes your reality. To truly believe in Him means to accept all of His Word as revealed in the Bible. It means to completely change your mind about your sin and know in the deepest place of your heart that you need His blood and His forgiveness. It means to live with Him and for Him each day. It is a relationship.
If your name is in the Lamb’s book of life, then never will your sins be brought up to condemn you at the end of time. While the sins of the damned are reiterated as the evidence of their rightful judgment, the only thing you will hear is your name – called lovingly from the Lamb’s book. Why will you not hear your sins proclaimed? Because your sins were judged on the Cross with Jesus when He suffered and died. Your sins have been paid for – never to condemn you before God!
Oh, Jesus, how we love You! Dear Jesus, how we thank You! As the Apostle Paul put it in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And we can joyfully add to this glorious statement the truth of the book of Revelation and know that there is no damnation and lake of fire for those whose names are written in Jesus’ book of life!
– Shelli S. Prindle
The apostle Paul stood before the Roman governor, Festus, and proclaimed the truth of Jesus from the Old Testament scripture. Paul emphasized Jesus rising from the dead in order to be the light of the world. The response of Festus is not unfamiliar to many of us; the governor accused Paul of being “out of his mind” (Acts 26:24). Paul quickly replied that rather than being insane, his words were true and rational. Then, in a winsome turn to King Herod Agrippa I, who was listening to Paul alongside the governor, the great apostle declared, “For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner” (Acts 26:26).
This was a quite a strategic move by Paul. He appeals to the actual historical account of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Certainly the king of Judea knows of all that has happened in his time and in his region. When God acts, He acts in real history and real geography. Having brought the true account of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection to the forefront, Paul makes a critical connection. For, what a person does with facts concerning God’s working in this world of ours is of a life-or-death nature. King Agrippa must acknowledge the reality of the existence, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Now, what He does with these facts will determine his eternal destiny.
Paul goes for the jugular next, so to speak, in the hope of the king’s conversion. Having established the historicity of Jesus’ life, the apostle now looks directly at the king and asks, “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe” (Acts 26:27). Paul is able to ask this question because he knows of the king’s loose connection with Judaism. As the Bible commentator Matthew Henry once wrote, “For everyone knew that Agrippa professed the Jews’ religion, as his fathers had done, and therefore both knew the writings of the prophets and gave credit to them.” The apostle appeals to Agrippa’s background and professed religious beliefs. As a Jew, how could the king discount the Old Testament prophets? Of course King Agrippa held to the tenets of the Old Testament scriptures; he could not deny the reality of Paul’s statement from a purely mental standpoint.
It catches us off guard that Paul says to an unsaved man, “I know that you believe.” Certainly, Agrippa was not a Christian. Despite the fact that he was in the line of wicked Herod’s and also was married to his own sister, Agrippa could have come to salvation. But he did not. He only believed.
What? Yes … he only believed. He only gave mental ascent to the facts of Jesus Christ and all the prophecies of the Old Testament that the Son of God had fulfilled. He only held these beliefs in his mind, as they could not be denied. He only read and knew the Bible verses to the point of head knowledge; never did he lay his life on the truth of Jesus.
We read in the very next verse of this “AGRIPPing” account (you can laugh there) these scary words, “And Agrippa said to Paul, ‘In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26:28) There you have it. The king, although given a concise opportunity to connect the dots of true Christian faith, decided to reject honest salvation. He was willing to believe the facts with his mind, but He was not willing to give his life as a follower of Christ and be called – in the most genuine sense of the word – a “CHRISTian.”
Do you know the facts of the Bible and the life of Jesus? So do the demons and Satan. Read Matthew 8:29 and realize that demons acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God and even understand that He has an appointed time in the future when he will torment them for their wickedness. I guess that is why James says in chapter 2, verse 19, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder!” But then James goes on to tell us that faith without works is dead. Head knowledge without life application is pointless in terms of our safety. We are damned if we only give mental ascent to the things of Jesus and His Word but do not stake our very lives on Him. To believe with your brain is one thing, to live with your heart is another.
Let the account of Paul and King Agrippa be an intense reminder for us. Answering the question, “Do you believe?” is not just a “yes” or “no” task. The answer needs to be more like, “I believe both with my mind AND my life.”
– By Shelli S. Prindle
What do you think of when you think of love? Do you think of wishy-washy feelings? Do you think of something conditional – based on right behavior? Do you think of something hopeful, but not really grounded on hard facts? Do you think of an emotion instead of an action? When it comes to actual love, here’s a phrase from the Bible for you: “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Rev. 1:5).
The Apostle John is writing here about the love of Jesus Christ. By the inspiration of the Spirit of God, he tells us that Christ’s love for us is inextricably tied to Christ’s action for us; and that, my friends, is the crux of the matter. The love of God is given by the action of God – and not just any action. This is the most critical and paradoxical measure of which we can conceive. God moves to make spiritually dead people alive by shedding the blood of His altogether perfect Son. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…” (Ephesians 2:4-5)
The love of God is not some feeble emotion that makes everyone feel that they are safe when, in fact, they are not. The love of God is not without activity – life or death activity. The love of God is not without immeasurable sacrifice. Most importantly, the love of God cannot be properly applied to a person’s life without also administering the blood of Jesus Christ. In all honesty, if you have not agreed to God’s covering of your sinful heart with the sacrifice of the blood of His Son, then you have not been made alive with the love of God. God loves you, but His love cannot save you or quicken you to real life until you apply the only thing that can free you from sin and death – the blood of Jesus.
All people are creations of God, but not all people are children of God. To be a child implies a relationship. A relationship with God can only happen when our sinfulness is covered and paid for by the blood of Jesus and God’s wrath against us satisfied by Christ’s suffering and death. We must believe in that sacrifice and apply it to our own life. Once our spiritually “dead” condition has been resolved, we are free to “live” as children of God. (Gal. 3:26, 4:4-5)
God’s love is massive and unconditional (no matter what you have done or where you have been), but it must be genuinely received in its reality and entirety in order to be effective for your salvation. Here is the reality: His love frees us from our sins by his blood. The greatest freedom that exists is the freedom from our sins and their guilt and penalty. Sin disrupts our relationship with God. It simply must be dealt with or we remain spiritually lost and outside of a relationship with our Creator.
Have you honestly received God’s love? It is expressed in the sacrifice of the blood of Jesus Christ. When you go to God by the way of Jesus, you can be saved by the love of God. You can be set free to be a child of God – in full relationship with Him!
– By Shelli S. Prindle