Q & A: How Will We Recognize Christ

Second Coming

Question and answer from the Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Grace in Salt Lake City, UT on KUTR: Hi Hank. I sure appreciate you helping us muddle through these Scriptures. My question is about the Second Coming. Just as the Jews didn’t recognize Jesus as their messiah, I am questioning how we are going to know that Jesus Christ is our messiah. Does the antichrist come during the sixth trumpet and then Jesus Christ comes at the seventh trumpet? The way we might know it’s Him is if we’re still in our physical bodies it’s the antichrist, but if it’s Jesus Christ we will be changed to our spiritual bodies, changed in the twinkling. Am I totally off?

Hank: I don’t think you want to read the Book of Revelation in that fashion, first and foremost. Remember that when you look at what is going on when the seals are opened in Revelation, chapter six, this has to do with something that is going on in that epic of time.

So when John says “I watched as he opened the sixth seal there was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red,  and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place,” this is apocalyptic language that we should be familiar with, because this apocalyptic language is used throughout the Scripture. Indeed, Jesus used this very language in the Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24. Joel uses this language, Isaiah uses this language.

The language in every case is used with respect to judgment of nations. So, for example, if you look at the context of Isaiah, the judgment is on Babylon. The Medes and Persians are going to turn out the light of the glories of the Babylonian empire. In Joel you see the language being used with respect to judgment on God’s people. The same thing is true when you read Revelation 6. Once again you see judgment on those who were called to be a light to the nations, but, instead, prostituted themselves with the nations.

So Jesus takes the language of the Old Testament prophets and applies it to what is going to happen when Jerusalem and the temple are destroyed. Remember Jesus said in the context of using this very language in the Olivet Discourse that all of it would happen within a generation. And so His prophecy was fulfilled precisely in that way. Within a generation the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in fulfillment of Messiah’s prophecy. So this takes place in a 1st century epic. By the way, John, in Revelation, has an expanded Olivet Discourse. And so he’s talking about something that’s happening in a 1st century epic.

Now, to extend this a little further, Revelation is not written to you – it’s not written to me. It is written for you and it is written for me. Which is to say that Revelation is written to seven churches in the epicenter of the Caesar cult, and Jesus, through John and through the vision, is encouraging His people, true Israel, to be faithful and fruitful. They’re going to suffer persecution for a short time. Everything is going to be upended, but in the end they will receive an eternal vindication, and so He is encouraging them. And as we read through Revelation we are, ourselves, are encouraged because we too have the same hope that John holds out for the faithful, and that is they’ll see a New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, prepared as a bride beautifully adorned for her husband. As Paul also points out in Galatians 4, it’s not the Jerusalem below, it’s the Jerusalem above that is free and she is our mother. If we’re attached to the Jerusalem that’s below, then Paul points out we are still in bondage, but we are not in bondage as true Israel because we’re looking forward to the New Jerusalem that shines with the glory of God, and its brilliance is like a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.

So that’s really what’s going on here in the Book of Revelation. Furthermore, let me say one other thing in response to your call, and that is antichrist. Antichrist is never used in the Book of Revelation, but it is used in John’s Epistles, and it has to do with anyone who denies that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. So whether an individual or an institution, and it doesn’t matter whether you live in this century or the 1st century or the 20th century or even now in the 21st century, if you deny Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, then you are, by virtue of that, antichrist or against Christ. So it’s any individual, any institution that denies that Jesus Christ is Lord and that He has come in the flesh.

Grace: Okay, so when we hear about the wound and His mouth and all of that, I guess I’m confused. Is it an actual person?

Hank: Remember, what you have to understand when you read a book like Revelation is you will immediately be confused by what John is saying unless you are firmly tethered to the rest of Scripture. Let me back up a little bit.

Remember when the Bible was being translated into the English language, at that particular epic of time it was considered a road to what was called a floodgate to iniquity, which is to say if you put the Bible into the hands of laypeople it will lead to iniquity because they don’t know how to interpret the Scripture. This was the thought of the Catholic humanists at the time. But Reformers said no, we want to put the Bible into the hands of the laity and then teach them how to read Scripture in light of Scripture. And this is particularly what we have to do with respect to Revelation. Revelation is 404 verses. 278 of them are contextualized by other portions of Scripture – particularly the Old Testament. Beyond that, oftentimes John is using metaphors that we wouldn’t get unless he explained what they meant. So, he talks, for example, about the flaming torches of fire before the throne of God. And then he explains to us what they are – the seven spirits of God, and even that takes explaining. Otherwise you’ll think there’s nine in the Godhead.

But he also does the same thing with golden bowls full of incense, and he says these are the prayers of the saints. So apocalyptic language is not just apocalyptic in the sense of an unveiling, but in the sense of a linguistic matrix that comes directly from the rest of Scripture. So the short answer is, things will be confusing unless you are firmly tethered to Scripture and you read Scripture in light of Scripture.

And do remember, metaphors so often – people often say “Well, now you’re not interpreting the Bible literally” – Well, John himself is not asking us to interpret the Bible in a wooden, literalistic fashion, but in the sense in which it’s intended. We have to recognize that the metaphors of Scripture have sharp teeth. They’re not there to obscure knowledge, but rather they are there to illumine knowledge that we might otherwise miss. So when Jesus Christ is described as having a tongue that looks like a sword, this is not what Jesus Christ looks like. It is what Jesus is like. Or when the Holy City is described as being 12,000 stadia in length and as wide and high as it is long, we’re not to suppose that we’re going to inherit some great big cube in the sky, as some modern writers write in sensationalistic books about heaven, but rather we are to recognize that John is drawing from the imagery of the Old Testament. The cube-shaped holy of holies in which Jehovah dwelt is an analogy when the new heavens and the new earth in which we will experience God and see Him, as it were, face to face, where we will physically commune with the resurrected Christ.

So, again, all of Scripture has to be contextualized or read in light of Scripture, and when we fail to do that we mistake the meaning of Scripture. I’ve written about the antichrist and the beast in Revelation and, of course the Lamb. Jesus is described as a Lion and a Lamb, not to get us confused, but when He is, He’s described in that way because elsewhere in Scripture He is described as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. He’s also the Lamb slain before the foundations of the world. So when we read Scripture in light of Scripture we find out that the description of a lion and a lamb is to teach us something about Jesus Christ that we might ordinarily miss.

I’ve written about this in various places. The Apocalypse Code, The Complete Bible Answer Book, Collector’s Edition and much more.

Q & A: A Second Blessing?

Holy Spirit Descending

Question and answer from the Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Mitch in Chapman, KS: Really appreciate the show. Love listening to you. A few weeks ago I met a couple visiting my church. They said they were members of the Church of God Holiness. I looked up information on them and it said they believed in something called a second work of grace, which is Christian perfection in this life. What are your thoughts on this and what Scriptural evidence do they use?

Hank: There is no Scriptural evidence for it whatsoever. It is a pretext that is part of a theological construct. It doesn’t necessarily rule this out as being outside the pale of orthodoxy, but I think it’s one of those issues that we can debate vigorously about on the basis of the Word of God, which lets us know that if you are a believer and you are indwelt by the power of the Holy Spirit, but as an indwelt believer you can continuously be infilled by the power of the Holy Spirit. Which is to say you can be continuously empowered for service, and that’s why I often repeat on this show “Not by might nor by power, but by His Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.” So there is not only a second blessing, but there is a third and there is a one millionth, and if you live long enough, perhaps a one billionth. The reality is that every time we are infilled or we are empowered for service, we are receiving another blessing.

This is the very thing that Jesus communicated to the disciples when He was about to leave the earth. He said “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” So witnessing is another blessing that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to fulfill.

So the notion that there is a second blessing that leads us to entire sanctification, I think is misguided. We are continuously being infilled or empowered for service because, indeed, we are leaky vessels and we need to be empowered daily so that we can be of service to the Master.

Mitch: Amen. That’s what I was thinking as well. I appreciate the time, Hank.

Hank: You got it. We will never be entirely sanctified until that day that Jesus comes to put all things to right. Then we will be in practice only what we are only now in position. In position we are covered by a foreign righteousness, a righteousness not of our own that comes by the Law, but that which comes through faith in Christ.

Q & A: Approaching Gay Children with Biblical Truth

Mom and Son

Question and answer from the Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Kelly in Kansas City, KS on BOTT radio: Hi, Hank. You articulate all  your answers so easily for all us non-theologians to understand.

My struggle is with my son, whom I raised in the Southern Baptist church and he’s been baptized and saved and around the age of seventeen he told me that he was a homosexual. I continue to struggle with that because I’m just not astute enough, I don’t think, or strong enough to talk to him biblically about that other than I told him about Sodom and Gomorrah. He was raised in the same church that I was. He’s got to know the truth. I’d welcome any advice you can give in regards to the situation.

Hank: Well, Kelly, we love our children. We love our children unconditionally and the reality is that there are children that have a said faith – in other words, they say they believe – and there are children who really believe. In either case, we love them, and we demonstrate through our life and through our love the reality of our faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

But in a practical way there are many things that you can say to him. When someone comes to you, whether a child or a friend or an acquaintance or someone you just cross paths with, and they say “I am a homosexual,” I think it’s important that you recognize the reality that they have stated something that is not true. Someone is not a homosexual in the sense of an identity, and that’s typically that’s what they mean when they say “I’m a homosexual.” They say “This is my identity,” and homosexuality is not an identity. Homosexuality is a behavior. His identity is a male just as your identity is a female. So he’s talking about a behavior and sometimes with gentleness and respect, to demonstrate that he’s talking about a behavior is something that opens someone’s eyes.     And now the question becomes, if you’re a genuine follower of Jesus Christ then you will heed His words. Jesus ratified the entirety of the Law of the prophets and therefore He has set parameters around our lives because He loves us and He wants our joy to be fulfilled and complete in every way. He’s not a cosmic killjoy for your son or for anybody else. What He is is one who set parameters around our lives because if we violate those parameters there’s going to be damage that’s done to us physically and metaphysically. Sin has its consequences. So if I’m involved in sin it has its consequences just as when he’s involved in sin it has its consequences.

So the question now becomes are we going to set our sights, our standards for the course of our life by shooting stars or by the North Star? If we set the course for our lives by shooting stars, then we follow popular opinion and whatever is politically correct at a given period of time. If you look at Obama, for example. He has completely reversed his stand on same-sex sexuality in many ways, including his views on marriage in this regard. Well, he’s setting his course by shooting stars. He’s looking at whatever is politically correct, he’s looking at trends, and now truth is determined by those trends.

If you’re a Christian, however, what you say is “Look, I am going to set my standard by the Word of God because God knows what’s best for me and therefore the owner’s manual becomes meaningful to me and I’m going to set the course of my life based on Scripture. So I’m going to fail, I’m going to sin,” and in his propensity, his homosexuality, he may sin in that way, but that simply means that he’s going to repent of that sin, and even if he falls again he’s going to repent again of that sin, recognizing that God is just and faithful and righteous and will forgive him of his sin and cleanse him from all unrighteousness.

So whether you’re a homosexual sinner or a heterosexual sinner, the real issue is not whether you sin – we all sin – the real issue is do we want to do it God’s way, which is repentance, a change of the heart, a change of mind. It’s a change of the will. It’s moving in a different direction, saying let’s do it God’s way. So if he’s involved in homosexual behavior and repents of that, even if he falls again, God will forgive him. But if he says “I don’t really care what God says. I’m going to do it my own way,” then it’s a demonstration that he hasn’t really repented to begin with.

Kelly: Right and I understand that. It’s just that there’s all these churches now that are cropping up that are twisting God’s Word and using every phrase, including the Sodom and Gomorrah example, and trying to disprove the origin of what happened there was and convincing people that it is okay and making it more of an identity rather than a behavior publicly to promote the homosexual agenda.

Hank: It’s not only that, but they want to be politically correct. This is why James says “Let not many of you be teachers because with teaching there is a stricter judgment.” Ideas have consequences and people that go with political correctness are not helping anyone.

If it all became politically correct by saying that cancer is not harmful to the human body and the whole of the medical profession went in the direction of saying “Don’t worry about cancer, it’s not going to hurt you,” it doesn’t mean cancer is not going to hurt you. The reality is that it will hurt you. And the same thing is true not only with the physical body, but it’s true with the metaphysical aspects of our humanity. You can’t contradict your own biology and get away with it. There is a consequence to that, and to save someone from that consequence means that you tell them the truth. To not tell them the truth is to be homophobic. This is precisely what pastors in the pulpit are doing today. Why? Because they don’t want to risk being controversial. They’re not protecting the sheep. They’re letting the wolves into the sheep pen. Why? Because they care about their careers more than they care about the canon of Scripture or about truth.

So while I can’t judge anybody’s heart, I can say in general terms that’s typically what’s happening. So we’re capitulating to the culture as opposed to being change agents in the culture. And I can tell you this: the very same arguments that are today being used with regard to same-sex sexuality can oftentimes be applied to group sex, to bestiality to incest to all kinds of other things that are not helpful to the human condition. We can see this over and over again in myriad ways. If you look at all the statistical categories with respect to sociology when it comes to same-sex sexuality you find that uniformly they point in one direction – that a father/mother coupling is better than a father/father, mother/mother coupling for the good of the child, for the good of the family, for the good of society. All the indicators point in that direction. So when people point in a different direction it’s because it’s politically correct, not because it is best for the family or best for the child. So the indicators point in a different direction. They point in the direction of God’s infallible Word, not in the direction of what has become politically correct and popular.

And again, as Christians, instead of being microcosms of the culture we need to be cultural initiators, not cultural imitators, and that, unfortunately has become what the church has become at large. It’s imitating the culture. So we’re baptized secular humanists. We’re baptized, but we’re still doing it the world’s ways.

Kelly: I like that. I appreciate your time. It’s always a pleasure to hear you articulate so well. Thank you again.

Hank: God bless you, Kelly.