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Showing posts from August, 2019

Order of Final Events

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In explaining the future resurrection, Paul listed the key events that would precede or coincide with the arrival of Jesus at the end of the age .  In his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul outlined the events that will occur at the “ arrival ” or ‘ parousia ’ of Jesus, one of several Greek terms applied by him to Christ’s return. But regardless of which term he used, Paul always spoke of one “ coming ,” “ revelation ,” or “ appearance ” of Jesus at the end of the age - [ Photo by  Madeleine Maguire  on Unsplash ].

Sorrow Not – Resurrection Hope

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Foundational to the hope of the church is the bodily resurrection of believers that will take place when Jesus arrives from heaven .  Paul’s description of the “ coming ” of Jesus in his first letter to the Thessalonians was written to comfort Christians concerning the fate of believers who die before that day. Disciples must not sorrow “ like the others ”  BECAUSE  dead Christians will be resurrected when the Lord " arrives ,” and both the living and newly raised believers will “ meet him ” as he descends from heaven - [ Photo by Jamie Haughton on Unsplash ].

Everlasting Glory

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Paul reminded Timothy of Christ’s resurrection since false teachers were denying the future resurrection .  The resurrection is not a major subject in Paul’s “pastoral” letters, but he does raise the subject when dealing with the problem of false teachers at Ephesus. As he reminded Timothy, “ God did not give us a spirit of fear but of a sound mind .” The theme of “ sound teaching ” is pivotal to the three pastoral letters, and the future resurrection is a prime example of apostolic doctrines - [ Photo by Verplaric Tokipukey on Unsplash ].

Perfection in Resurrection

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Paul expressed his goal of going on to perfection, a process that will culminate in our physical resurrection when Jesus returns – Philippians 3:7-21 .  In the opening thanksgiving of his letter to the Philippians, Paul prepares his readers for a key theme of his letter – going on to “ perfection ” in Jesus. The promised bodily resurrection is necessary for their “ completion .” It is not optional but is an integral part of the future salvation they will receive when Jesus arrives in glory - [ Butterfly - Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash ].

Resurrection Hope in Rome

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Paul links bodily resurrection with the New Creation. The “redemption of our bodies” refers to our future resurrection - Romans 8:10-23 .  In his letter to the Romans , Paul presented his most detailed explanation of the gospel. His purpose was to deal with conflicts between Gentile and Jewish members of the church, and he was preparing the ground for taking the gospel to the western regions of the empire. In the process, he touched on related topics, including death, redemption, the Law, the resurrection, and the New Creation - [ Mountain Sunrise - Photo by Damian Markutt on Unsplash ].

Blameless in Holiness

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Believers must persevere in afflictions and pursue love so they may be stand “blameless in holiness” when Jesus returns  –  1 Thessalonians 3:1-13 . After being driven from Thessalonica and Berea, Paul traveled to Athens where he proclaimed the resurrection of the dead before the Greek philosophical schools. At that time, he  sent Timothy  to strengthen the Thessalonian congregation in the  faith , which was even more necessary because of “ these afflictions ” endured by the Apostle and his converts  - [ Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash ].

Priest Forever - Jesus

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His priesthood is superior since it rests on his endless resurrection life, the promised priest after the order of Melchizedek  –  Psalm 110:4 .  Hebrews is structured around several comparisons that demonstrate the supremacy and finality of the “ word spoken in ” Jesus over the past revelations “ spoken in the prophets .” The previous “ words ” were true but partial, promissory, and preparatory. But now, “ upon the last of these days ,” God has “ spoken ” with great finality in one who is a “ Son ” - [ Photo by  Quinsey Sablan  on  Unsplash ].

His Triumphal Arrival

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At the end of his journey, quite naturally, the destination of Jesus was the Temple in Jerusalem – Mark 11:1-11 .  The next several stories prepare the reader for his final days, the so-called ‘Passion Week.’ A full third of the  Gospel of Mark  concerns the events of that week and culminate in his death and resurrection. All that has preceded his arrival in the city has been moving inexorably forward to his arrest, trial, and execution in Jerusalem - [ Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash ].

Jesus Crosses Purity Boundaries

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SYNOPSIS - The touch of Jesus cleanses a leper - The forbidden contact does not render him “unclean” – Mark 1:40-45 .  Aarón Blanco Tejedor  on Unsplash The touch of Jesus cleansed a leper from ritual impurity, and it restored him physically AND religiously. What sets the story apart is that Jesus touched the man  BEFORE  he was cleansed of his  ritual impurity . Any concern over contracting uncleanness did not stop the messianic “ Son of Man ” from touching a son of Israel to make him whole.

Resurrection and New Creation

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Paul links the bodily resurrection of believers to the New Creation since both are integral to the promised redemption  –  Romans 8:1-23 .  In  Romans , Paul declares that there is “ now no condemnation ” for anyone who is “ in Jesus .” This happy condition is because the “ law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set them free from the law of sin and of death .” And his letter also links the salvation of believers to the inheritance of Christ and the redemption of the creation itself - [ Photo by Jingda Chen on Unsplash ].

Heir of the World

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According to Romans, the land promised to Abraham envisioned the inclusion of the entire world – Romans 4:13 . God began to redeem humanity with His covenant with Abraham, beginning with the summons for him to leave his homeland for the “ land that I will show you .” Yahweh would make him into a “ great nation ,” and in the Patriarch, He would “ bless all the clans of the earth .” And from the start, the land promise was central to the covenant - [  Earth Photo by NASA on Unsplash ].

Blind Bar-Timaeus Saved

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Jesus restored the sight of a blind beggar while he was “on the way” to his death in the city of Jerusalem - Mark 10:46-52 .  This is the last recorded healing miracle in Mark’s account. And here, Jesus is called the “ Nazarene .” Previously, he was only so identified when he exorcised demons, thereby delivering someone from demonic oppression. And in the Gospel of Mark , the name “ Nazarene ” frames his first and last healing miracles - [ Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash ].

Greatness in His Kingdom

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His disciples are called to live lives of self-sacrificial service to others, just as Jesus gave his life a ransom for many  –  Mark 10:35-45 .  Having predicted his trial and execution, Jesus observed the disciples jockeying for position in the coming kingdom. He had taught them that citizenship in his kingdom meant a  life of self-sacrificial service to others . But as he approached Jerusalem, even his closest followers had a very different idea of what it meant to “rule” in his realm - [ Great Mountain - Photo by  Daniel Bynum  on Unsplash ].

His Imminent Death

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Jesus explained that he was “on the way” to Jerusalem where he would be arrested, tried, and executed per the plan of God – Mark 10:32-34 .  Once again, Mark stresses that Jesus is “ on the way ” as he continues his journey to Jerusalem and his inevitable death. This same theme occurs several times in Mark , beginning with John the Baptist who “ prepared the way before the Lord .” Jesus was the suffering servant of Yahweh who was on the road from the wilderness to Golgotha - [ Photo by Abolfazl Ranjbar on Unsplash ].

Young Rich Man

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To follow Jesus is to surrender one’s entire life to him, and to walk wherever he leads with no questions asked – Mark 10:17-31 .  One day, a young rich man approached Jesus to ask what he should do to inherit everlasting life. Here, the reader is confronted with the cost of discipleship. In the version in Matthew , the man is labeled “ young .” In Luke , he is a “ ruler ,” presumably, of the local synagogue. And his haste to ask this question points to his sincerity - [ Photo by Mathieu Stern on Unsplash ].

Literal and Nonliteral Language

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Revelation informs the reader from the very first verse of the book that it communicates symbolically .  Must prophecy be interpreted only or primarily in the most “literal” fashion possible unless, of course, a passage specifically indicates otherwise? Often in our minds, there is an unstated assumption that  literal  language is more reliable than  nonliteral  language, an assumption that becomes especially problematic when interpreting  Revelation  - [ Photo by  Paul Skorupskas  on Unsplash ].

Embracing the Mark

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The “inhabitants of the earth” willingly venerate the Beast and receive its mark, although Christians are not immune to its allure . Discussions on the “ mark of the Beast ” focus on questions about what it is - a medical implant, barcode, tattoo – and the significance of its “ number ,” ‘ 666 .’ As important as these questions are, far more critical is the question:  How is the mark implemented, and how does the believer avoid taking it or the “number of the beast” ? - [ Photo by  Master Wen  on Unsplash ].

Question About Divorce

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Opponents questioned Jesus about divorce to trap him, but he used the issue to teach the higher ways of the Kingdom – Mark 10:1-16 .  In Mark  and  Matthew , Jesus was confronted by religious opponents about the issue of divorce, but this was done to trap him with his own words. They did not intend to solicit an all-encompassing ruling on divorce from him. In  Mark , the incident is another in a series of confrontations between Jesus and the religious establishment associated with the Temple - [ Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash ].

Faithful and Saltless Disciples

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Faithful disciples will receive great rewards, but those who harm their weaker brethren run the risk of being cast into Gehenna – Mark 9:38-40 .  The next story begins with John complaining because someone who was not from among Christ’s inner circle was casting out demons in his name. But his complaint was rich in irony since just a few verses earlier the disciples found themselves unable to exorcise demons because of their unbelief - [ Salt - Photo by Timo Volz on Unsplash ].

Meaning of Discipleship

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To be his disciple means to pursue self-sacrificial service for others, and especially so to the weak and insignificant .  On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus explained to the disciples what it meant to be the Messiah, and not for the first time, for in the city of David, he would face his final confrontation with the Temple authorities and death at the hands of the Romans. Was not that city the appointed place where the prophets were killed, and the Messiah himself must suffer rejection and death? - [ Photo by Aleksandr Kozlovskii on Unsplash ].

Disciples Stumped by Unbelief

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Unbelief hindered the ability of Jesus to heal some afflicted persons, not the lack of fasting or other ritualistic practices - Mark 9:14-29 .  When Peter, James, and John saw the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mount, the rest of the disciples were ministering nearby. But whenever they ministered when Jesus was absent, they quickly found themselves in trouble. And this time, as soon as the crowd saw him returning from the mountain, they flocked to him for healing and deliverance - [ Photo by DAVID NIETO on Unsplash ].

Transfiguration

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The Transfiguration was the confirmation of his status as the Messiah, and of the necessity for Jesus to suffer before receiving glory - Mark 9:2-13 .  In Mark , the event known as the “Transfiguration” begins with the clause, “ after six days .” This is not just a temporal reference, but also a link to the preceding story in which Peter acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah. In response, he explained the true meaning of discipleship. To follow him, a man must “ deny himself and take up his cross ” just as the “ Son of Man ” did - [ Photo by Captureson Photography Unsplash ].

Fulfillment in Him

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The promises of the Hebrew Bible find their fulfillment and substance in the Son of God - in Jesus .  According to the New Testament, the promises of God are fulfilled in Jesus. “ IN HIM ,” all His promises find their “ yea ” and their “ amen .” The things that were “ hidden ” in the past are revealed in the life, words, death, resurrection, and exaltation of His Son, the only one in whom all the shadows and types prefigured in the Hebrew Bible become real. All His mysteries are laid bare in Christ  - [ Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash ].

His Kingdom or Christendom?

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The deception of Christendom attempts to invoke God to validate national institutions and perverts the gospel of Jesus Christ .  Invariably, the mixing of church and State leads to the association and even the identification of Christianity with specific nations, cultures, and political ideologies. And when church leaders employ terms like ‘Christendom’ to distinguish one country from another, they replace the biblical faith with a false and even antichrist religion - [ Photo by  Greg Rosenke  on Unsplash ].

Repeated Warnings

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On Olivet, Jesus reiterated key information that is necessary for his followers to avoid being misled by deceivers .  Christ’s final block of teaching is commonly called his ‘Olivet Discourse,’ a series of instructions given to the disciples on the Mount of Olives shortly before his arrest, trial, and execution. In it, three warnings are repeated that disciples must heed to avoid deceit and disaster, warnings about deceivers, the timing of his return, and the need for constant vigilance - [ Photo by Jennifer Uppendahl on Unsplash ].

Spiritual Violence?

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SYNOPSIS  - The point of his comment about violence and the Kingdom was that violent men were attempting to seize the kingdom of God – Matthew 11:12 .  In the gospel of Matthew , Jesus described how “ violent men are seizing the kingdom of God .” This passage has caused great confusion over the centuries. Was he referring to malevolent men on the outside who would attempt to seize control of the Kingdom, or to the need for Christians to aggressively pray and otherwise press into it? Must his disciples “ forcefully seize ” the promises from God? Is the Kingdom to advance on the earth through forceful action? - [ Photo by Elisabeth Arnold on Unsplash ].

Governing Authorities

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Paul instructed believers living in the very heart of the Empire not to resist the government - its existence had been arranged by God – Romans 13:1-8 .  Writing to the churches in Rome, Paul presented principles for Christian conduct towards the State. Believers must “ subordinate themselves to governing powers: for there is no authority except by God ,” a statement written at the time when Nero ruled the Roman world, the very man who became the first emperor to persecute Christians - [ Roman Arch - Photo by Jace & Afsoon on Unsplash ].

Shadow to Substance

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The types and “shadows” of the old covenant find their substance and fulfillment in the Son, Jesus Christ  –  Hebrews 8:1-5 .  In its eighth chapter,  Hebrews  highlights the incomparable benefits believers have received from the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus. If the fulfillment of God’s promises has arrived in him, returning to the incomplete revelations of the past amounts to embracing types and “ shadows ” rather than the substance that is available in Jesus - [ Delicate Arch shadow - Photo by Zachary Young on Unsplash ].

Jurisdiction of the Law

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According to Galatians, the jurisdiction of the Torah reached its termination point with the arrival of Jesus - The “seed” of Abraham .  Responding to claims that Gentiles must be circumcised, Paul appealed to the experience of receiving the Spirit by the Galatians.  Did they receive the gift in response to a “ hearing of faith ” or “ from the works of the Law ?”  Having begun in the Spirit, why did they now seek “ to complete ” their faith on the basis of “ flesh ” by submitting to circumcision? - [ Photo by Nasser Eledroos on Unsplash ].

Mission of the Church

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The mission of the church between now and the return of Jesus is to announce the Good News of his Kingdom to all men .  Jesus tasked his church with announcing his gospel to all nations.  The New Testament summarizes his message as the “ good news of the Kingdom of God .” In him, God’s rule over the earth is being established, though often in unexpected and paradoxical ways. By the time Christ returns, he will have established total sovereignty over the nations and subjugated all His “ enemies ,” especially the “ last enemy ,” death - [ World in Hand photo by  Jake Weirick  on Unsplash ].

Reigning on Zion

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Following his Resurrection, Jesus began his reign from the messianic throne on “Zion,” as prophesied by David – Psalm 2:6-9 .  According to the Psalmist, the “ son ” will be anointed to reign on the throne of David “ on Mount Zion… my holy mount .” As attested in the New Testament, that king is none other than Jesus, and his reign over the earth began following his resurrection and ascension. And ever since, he has been extending his sovereignty to the “ uttermost parts of the earth .” - [ Mountain Sunrise - Photo by Damian Markutt on Unsplash ].

Jesus Interprets the Father

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John’s Gospel contrasts Jesus with the Mosaic legislation. Ture light, life and truth are found in Jesus who now interprets the Father  –  John 1:18 .  The prologue to John’s gospel introduces its key themes - life, light, witness, truth, and grace. Jesus is the light of the world, the source of grace and truth, the true Tabernacle, and the only one who has seen the Unseen God who now “ tabernacles ” in the “ word made flesh .” The prologue ends by declaring that Jesus alone is qualified to interpret the Father - [ Photo by  Amy Tran  on Unsplash ].

Summary of His Parousia

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The arrival of Jesus in glory will mean the resurrection of the dead, the commencement of the New Creation, and the final judgment .  Several Greek terms are applied in the New Testament to the return of Jesus at the end of the present age including  parousia  (“arrival”),  erchomai  (“coming”), and  epiphaneia  (“appearance”). But regardless of which term is used, in each instance, it is singular and refers to only one “ coming ” of the “ Son of Man .” Nowhere does Scripture refer to two or more “comings” of Christ - [ Photo by  Diego PH  on Unsplash ].

Introduction to Mark

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A brief introduction to, and outline of, the gospel of Mark, its history, contents, and literary structure .  The New Testament includes four gospel accounts, the gospels of  Matthew ,  Mark ,  Luke , and  John . The first three are categorized as ‘synoptic’ gospels, meaning “to see together.” The term is a compound of the Greek preposition  sun  (“together”) and  optikos  (“to see”), hence - “ to see together .” - [ Outline Photo by João Silas on Unsplash ].

Whoever will Follow Me

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After Jesus healed the blind man, for a fleeting moment, the eyes of Peter were opened to "see" just who he was - Mark 8:27-38 .  Jesus queried his disciples while he was “ on the way ” to Jerusalem: Who do men say that I am ?  At least nine times Mark declares that Jesus is “ on the way .” His march to Jerusalem and his inevitable death was in fulfillment of Joh’s proclamation from the words of Isaiah : “ I send my messenger before your face who shall prepare your way ” - [ Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash ].

Jesus Confronts Traditions

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Jesus undermined the religious rationale for dietary restrictions. With the Messiah's arrival, old rituals lost their relevance – Mark 7:1-23 . Jerusalem was the center of the religious and political opposition to Jesus, and especially the Temple and priestly authorities. From this point forward in Mark , he experienced increasing conflict with the religious authorities, the Pharisees, scribes, and the representatives of the high priest. Not long after this next incident, certain opponents began to plot his demise - [ Photo by Somi Jaiswal on Unsplash ].

Miraculous Witness to Israel

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The feeding of 5,000 men was a spectacular witness to Israel, yet most Jews continued to reject Jesus as Israel’s Messiah - Mark 6:31-56 .  The feeding of the five thousand  is the only miracle story recorded in all four gospel accounts, which demonstrates its importance to the early church. In John’s gospel, it occurred near the Passover season. In Luke , only the twelve disciples participated in the distribution of bread and fish. Mark places the story after the account of the execution of John the Baptist - ( Mark 6:31-44 ) - [ Bread - Photo by Wesual Click on Unsplash ].

Cost of Discipleship

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To be a disciple means taking up the cross daily and following in Christ’s footsteps, even if doing so means death - Mark 6:7-30 .  Jesus commissioned the twelve disciples to proclaim the Kingdom of God throughout the region. And in Mark , their commissioning is followed by the execution of John the Baptist to prepare the reader for the rejection that will result from following Jesus. To walk in his footsteps, one must first count the cost to have any hope of seeing that journey through to the end - [ Precarious Path - Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash ].

Rejected In Nazareth

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Despite his miraculous deeds, his own hometown rejected his ministry and took offense at the humble origins of Jesus – Mark 6:1-6 .  Jesus experienced growing conflict as he began to journey towards Jerusalem. In Galilee and Gentile territory, he had displayed his lordship over nature, demons, disease, and even death, and was met with enthusiastic crowds. But among his own people in Nazareth, he was met with unbelief, dishonor, and rejection, which became the prelude to John’s execution - [ Ghost Town - Photo by Sarah Lachise on Unsplash ].

Two Women Restored

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Jesus healed two women, restoring both to a state of ritual purity – Mark 5:21-43 . Mark presents two stories about women in need of healing. The theme that links the two accounts is that of a woman in need of physical healing and restoration to a state of ritual purity. Both were “unclean” due to their physical condition; the first because of a flow of blood, and the second due to her recent death - [ Black and Yellow Butterfly - Photo by Delaney Van on Unsplash ].

Rudiments of the World

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The Messianic Age has dawned, therefore calendrical rituals and other Levitical regulations belong to the old and now obsolete order .  In his letter to the  Galatians , Paul chided Christians for their desire “ to return to bondage under the weak and beggarly rudiments ” of the world, including calendrical observations. Since believers now live in the  era of fulfillment , resorting to outmoded rituals is inappropriate and constitutes regression to a state of slavery - [ Calendar -  Photo by  Towfiqu barbhuiya  on Unsplash ].

Days of Noah

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Just as the unprepared were destroyed by the Flood, so unrepentant men and apostates will be overtaken by destruction when Jesus returns .  Jesus compared the final years before his return to the period leading up to the Great Flood. “ As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be .” Some take this as a prediction of a return to the same conditions that existed in Noah’s time, the repetition of the moral anarchy and violence that prompted God to send floodwaters. The final days will be marked by chaos and catastrophes - [ Floodwaters - Photo by Lukas Hron on Unsplash ].

Death - The Last Enemy

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The arrival of Jesus at the end of the age will mean resurrection and the termination of the last enemy, death .  When some church members denied the future resurrection, Paul responded by stressing the necessity for bodily resurrection, appealing to the  past resurrection of Jesus  as the precedent for the resurrection of believers. The saints will be raised from the dead when he “ arrives ” in glory, signaling the end of death itself – The death of Death - [ Photo by Veit Hammer on Unsplash ].

End-Time People of Jesus

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The church is the battlefield where the final war is being waged between the Lamb and the “Ancient Serpent,” Satan .  The book of  Revelation  was sent to seven first-century churches in Asia to address their real-life trials and tribulations. But in the process, it presents messages relevant to all churches throughout the present age. Their daily struggles become the microcosm of the vast cosmic battle that is being waged even now between Jesus and the “ Dragon ” - [ Cape Spear Photo by Ibrahim Alonge on Unsplash ].