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Published by MustardSeedNews
Mustard Seed Newsletter (December 2008)Christianity, Religion, Jesus Christ, Christian Living, God, Filipino, News, Sabbath, Gospel, Bible
Mustard Seed Newsletter (December 2008)Christianity, Religion, Jesus Christ, Christian Living, God, Filipino, News, Sabbath, Gospel, Bible

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Published by: MustardSeedNews on Apr 29, 2009
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What Is TheSpirit OfANTICHRIST?
See page at See page at See page at See page at page  page  page  page 7 7
Vol. 1 No.6
September 2008
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Speaking of “the end” and hisSecond Coming, Jesus said, “Noone knows about that day or hour…,” yet his warning has notdampened thousands of prophecybuffs who claim they do know. For over two thousand years there hasnot been a single generation void of predictors calling for “the end” andweaving elaborate scenarios full of numbers, scriptures, historical datesand current events to support their claims. Their accumulatedpredictions, however, resemble a junkyard full of old rusting crashedand mashed cars. How could somany sincere believers get it sowrong? Is there something aboutthe nature of biblical prophecy theydidn’t understand? Propheticpreachers fill the airwaves and their books crowd the shelves of Christian bookstores, yet theypersist in following the same failedapproach toward understandingbiblical prophecy.
October 23, 1844
 “This was to have been the first dayin heaven. Instead, the Adventbelievers found themselves stillchained to earth, reeling in shockand grief—the laughingstock of a jeering world. The Bible, they wereutterly certain, had said Jesuswould return on October 22. Hehadn’t.”
 (Turn to page 4)
 Are You  Are You  Are You  Are You Prepared for the Prepared for the Prepared for the Prepared for the Return? Return? Return? Return? 
uring the first forty of the fifty days between Passover and Pentecost,Jesus continued to instruct his disciples. Just before he ascended toheaven, Jesus told them they would soon be baptized (immersed) with the Holy Spirit(Acts 1:5). He said that the power of the Holy Spirit would enable them to witness tohim all over the world (Acts 1: 8).Immediately after he said this, Jesus rose into the air and disappeared behind acloud (Acts 1:9). The assembled group of 120 disciples (Acts 1:15) looked intently upinto the sky trying to figure out where he had gone and perhaps when and whether hewas coming back (Acts 1:1).Suddenly two “men” (evidently angels) appeared before them with anexplanation:
“Men of Galilee,”
they said,
“why do you stand here looking into the sky?This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the sameway you have seen him go to heaven,”
(Acts 1:11). So Jesus would return, and it wouldhappen the same way he left. What we don’t know is precisely when it will happen.Approximately 1976 years have elapsed since the angels spoke those words and Jesusstill has not returned.
Prophecy Buffs Hold Forth.
I’m not a prophecy buff, but there are many of them outthere. Some of them claim to know almost exactly when the Lord will return.
 (Continued on page 2)
They base their prognostications and pontifications on avariety of calculations. I do not intend to enumerate here their diverse and often convoluted methodologies. Suffice it to saythat most of us, if we’re honest, have no idea when Christ willagain set foot on this earth; we just know that he will. Nor do we have any real need to know precisely whenJesus will return. We do not need to understand the mechanicsof his return. All we need to know is that when its His Father’stime, Jesus will show up (Matthew 24:36). Just as suddenly ashe left, he will return. When he does, big things are going tohappen (Zechariah 14:4 ff.). Our Lord will come to fulfill the parts of his divine commission he didn’t fulfill the first timearound (cf. Luke 4:14-19 with Isaiah 61:1-2).Jesus could return within the lifetimes of peoplereading this article. Or it may be another millennium before hearrives on the scene. The point is: every generation of Christians, from the time of the original apostles to the present,had or has a duty live in a state of perpetual spiritual readinessat all times. If Jesus came tonight, would you feel that you arein the kind of spiritual state he would want to find you in?So all this distils down to the issue of spiritual preparedness. In what ways did Jesus instruct us to prepare for his return?
Avoiding Specific Deceptions
In one of the parts of the so-called “Olivet” prophecy that concerns the end times, Jesussaid this:
“…Watch out that no one deceives you. For manywill come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many…
(Matthew 24:4). Not a few, but many – will claim to be the Messiah,God’s Anointed One. Prior to the appearance of true Messiah,there will appear a plethora of false Messiahs. Jesus warned:
“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles todeceive even the elect – if that were possible. See, I have told  you ahead of time.
“So if anyone tells you, ‘There his is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or ‘Here he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east and isvisible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man,”
(Matthew 24:23-27).One of the characteristics of false Messiahs is that theyalways seem to be “hidden” in secret caves or desert locationsuntil a moment of “revealing.” Or they may reside in someobscure monastery high in the Himalayas. The appearance of false Messiahs is often accompanied by prophets, gurus andoracles who claim to have inside information about the prophesied figure that is soon to appear. Their job is to create asense of expectation and anticipation.Just about every major religion – including Christianity – is capable of producing a false Messiah. When the only trueAnointed One of God appears, he will be visible to all. His willnot be a clandestine arrival but one that is as visible aslightning flashing across the sky. He left in clouds, he willreturn in clouds – and he expects his Church to be ready for him.
An Unwelcome Son
When Jesus returns, the world will notwelcome him. He said,
“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations will mourn.They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky,with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with aloud trumpet call, and they shall gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other,”
(Matthew24:30-31).Forget the mechanics of this event for a moment. Theissue at hand is spiritual preparedness. Do you think Jesus’true elect will “mourn” at his return? Of course not. Only theLord’s enemies will mourn. They will realize the jig is up. TheKing has arrived. His people will rejoice – and only they willrejoice to see his coming. The Lord’s return signals the beginning of a much-needed new world order. All thekingdoms of this sad, sick, war-torn world will become thekingdoms of Christ (Revelation 11:15b). The rulers of theworld’s murderous, corrupt kingdoms will not rejoice at thearrival of the One who will dethrone them, but the true peopleof God will rejoice.
Unexpected Arrival
There is no doubt the Lord will return, but many passages of Scripture suggest that it will be at a timewhen people are not generally expecting it (Matthew 24:36-44). We are advised to “keep watch” and to “be ready” (verses42 & 44).Jesus then speaks of his “faithful servants” who will befound doing his work at the time of his return:
“Who then isthe faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put incharge of the servants of his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whosemaster finds him so doing when he returns,”
(Matthew 24:48).What is being depicted here? Clearly Jesus has in mindthe activities of the leadership of the Church. A wise servantwill be found faithfully carrying out his duties to the Church.He will be “feeding the flock” with sufficient and nourishing
spiritual food, as Jesus instructed Peter (John 21:15-17). Andwhat will that servant
 be doing?There is a temptation, because of the approximately1976 years that have elapsed since Jesus promised to return, toconclude that it’s not going to happen at all. To us, that’s along time. To the Lord it is like a couple of days (II Peter 3:8).Jesus addressed this issue:
“But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and then he begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with the drunkards,
(Matthew 24:48-49).What the Lord is describing here is a servant who hasforsaken his spiritual responsibilities and slipped back into theretrograde behavior of an unconverted person. His conductdegenerates. He’d rather party than serve the cause of Christ.He begins to abuse his brethren in the Church.Peter, at some point, came to understand that the Lordmight not return in his lifetime. He knew that some would bedisturbed by this possibility. He addressed it in his secondletter:
“First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he has promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation,
(II Peter 3:3-4).The term “following their own evil desires” simplymeans doing what comes naturally – yielding to the evilinclination, to the
 yetzer hara.
It means behaving as one did prior to conversion, lowering one’s standards and behavingcarnally. Another way of saying it is “backsliding.”It is natural to wonder why the Lord is taking so long toreturn. Peter suggests an explanation:
“The Lord is not slow inkeeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone tocome to repentance,”
(II Peter 3:9). The longer it takes theLord to return, the more people have time to repent and getright with God. Once Jesus has returned, all bets will be off.Judgment will be at hand. That is what John the Baptist meantwhen he said that the Lord would “baptize” with fire (Matthew3:11-12).Perhaps then it is the mercy of God that delays theLord’s coming. At the same time, the Lord is not limited bythe boundaries of time like we are. He will not return onemoment too soon, or too late. The vital thing for Christians isto live in ongoing anticipation of that event no matter when itoccurs. It means being spiritually ready.
Summing Up Preparedness 
There are many other passagesthat can be brought to bear on this issue. Not the least of themis the parable of the ten virgins, given by Jesus right after hiswords about his return (Matthew 25:1-13). Of the ten virgins inthe parable, only half of them were prepared to meet theBridegroom. Again, the issue is spiritual preparedness.To be ready for the Lord’s return, we must first havethe discernment to distinguish between the true and counterfeitMessiahs. The true Anointed One (Messiah) will comesuddenly, in the clouds, in a highly visible way, at a time when people generally are not expecting him. Even some Christianswill apparently have given up on the idea of his return.Some will have degenerated to unchristian behavior –  partying, getting drunk, and yielding to their darker nature.Some will even begin to abuse their fellow Christians.Those of us who are called to feed the flock must befound zealously doing so. We cannot afford to neglect thosewho are in need. Our first duty as Christians is to each other – no matter our doctrinal differences and personal quirks. Wewill have to account to Christ for how we have treated thosewho are his (Matthew 25:31 ff.). As Paul wrote the Romans:
“So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God,”
(Romans 14:12).We must be discovered meeting each other at our  points of real need (James 1:27). Ideally, we will be found inthe process of maturing as Christians on every front. We will be living as though the return of the Lord were imminent. Wecan’t afford to get caught with our spiritual pants down. Weneed to be filled with the Spirit (have oil in our lamps), and begrowing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord (II Peter 3:18). And we need to be found in prayer (Romans 12:12;Ephesians 6:18).If we get discouraged, let down, and revert to theunconverted state, we’ll be like the virgins who had no oil intheir lamps -- unready to meet the Bridegroom. Perhaps itstime to do some soul searching and take inventory our spiritualcondition. Despite claims, no one knows precisely when theLord will return to this earth. It behooves each generation of Christians to live as though it could happen in their generation.The words of Luke 21:24-36 apply to the generation that livesto see the return:
“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down withdissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that daywill come upon you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will uponall those who live upon the face of the whole earth. Be alwayson the watch and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen
[in that generation],
and that you may beable to stand before the Son of Man.”
by Brian Knowles

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