What is The Church

It has been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and write a devotion. The past two weeks have been a little crazy. The biggest thing is a looming deadline for a training I’m in. Things should be getting back to normal, now. 

One of the things that have been on my mind a lot recently has been the usage of the word Church. When we think about it, it could mean many different things depending on its usage, and who is using it. So, let’s take a look at what it means according to the Word of God

Matthew 18:20 New King James Version (NKJV)

20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

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A Just & Loving God: Who Goes To Heaven & Hell?

We have seen how God reconciles being perfectly just and perfectly loving,  by setting down the rules and punishments, and abiding by them, and providing a way for mercy in the rules. We have seen why Jesus had to die on the cross for our Sins, instead of God just letting us do whatever we want and going to Heaven anyway. We have also seen whether or not a literal place such as Hell exists But then the question must arise, “Who goes to Heaven, and who goes to Hell?”

Matthew 7:13-23 New King James Version (NKJV)

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Read more

A Just & Loving God: Is Hell Real?

Matthew 25:31-46 New King James Version (NKJV)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him,[b] saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Background

Jesus is in Jerusalem speaking to the masses. (I would have made the passage in red, but today I don’t have access to my computer and I’m writing this whole thing on my phone. That is why I have missed the past two days of devotions) He has been preaching to the multitudes the truth and winning disciples. This passage is the last of the things He preaches in Jerusalem before the Pharisees plot to kill Him. He is speaking of the Judgement Day. He has been speaking of the Tribulation and the Endtimes. Here He clearly lays out that some will be cast into Hell.

Hell Exists

The first thing we should look at is whether or not Hell actually exists. There is an abundance of scriptural evidence for the existence of Hell. Revelation 21:8 says Read more

February 8, 2018

2 Chronicles 26:16-21 New King James Version (NKJV)

16 But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the LORD his God by entering the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.

17 So Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him were eighty priests of the LORD—valiant men. 18 And they withstood King Uzziah, and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have trespassed! You shall have no honor from the LORD God.”

19 Then Uzziah became furious; and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the incense altar. 20 And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and there, on his forehead, he was leprous; so they thrust him out of that place. Indeed he also hurried to get out, because the LORD had struck him.

21 King Uzziah was a leper until the day of his death. He dwelt in an isolated house, because he was a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD. Then Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.

Background

King Uzziah became King of the Southern Kingdom of Judah at the age of 16. Like so many of the Kings of Judah, he started well, doing what was right in the sight of the LORD. (v4) This guy had it all, wealth, fame, power, might. He strengthened the walls of Jerusalem, adding towers and catapults and ballista while fighting and destroying the Philistines, the Arabs, and many more. His name was famous even in Egypt. All this fame and power came from the LORD, but he eventually forgot that and thought that HE was the one who is mighty.

His Mistake

By forgetting that all he had was from the LORD he made a grave sin: the sin of pride. The only ones allowed to enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple were the Priests. Anointed descendants of the brother of Moses, Aaron, the first High Priest. God had been very clear on the rules of the Temple.

Uzziah thought, “I’m the King and look at how powerful I am, so I’M going to burn the incense,  not some random priest.” So he strolls right in and tries to light the incense. The priests protested and tried to stop him, but God took care of it. He struck Uzziah with leprosy. 

The interesting part is that Uzziah was trying to worship Him, but he was punished. He forgot his place. Remember, God didn’t want the Jews to have a king for this exact reason. Because the King of the nation would forget his place, and think himself mighty. This was a heart issue, Uzziah didn’t enter the place of worship with a broken and contrite heart, but a strong and prideful one. He focused on “I am great” and not the “Great I AM.” 


Matthew 27:50-51 New King James Version (NKJV)

50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.

51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

The Veil Has Been Torn

Uzziah wasn’t allowed to approach certain places of worship because it was there that God’s presence physically dwelt.  (His presence, not His being) This area was cordoned off by a veil. When Jesus died on the Cross, that veil split from the top down.  (remember, both these events take place in Jerusalem, though many hundreds of years apart) Being split from the top to the bottom is key here. During an earthquake, things split from the bottom up. The veil was torn by a supernatural force, indicating God’s presence leaving the temple and going into the world.

When Jesus ascended into Heaven forty days later, He said He would send us a Helper. (John 14:15-16)  Ten days later, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples. (Acts 2) This same Holy Spirit descends upon every Christian when they are saved. God doesn’t dwell in a secluded room in a temple, now. He dwells in us. Worship isn’t prescribed in a specific manner, where only the ordained of a certain lineage can enter His presence. 

In Matthew 18:20, Jesus says,

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

We don’t have to go through rituals and responses and have priests, or even pastors with us to worship Him because He is always with us. He dwells in us. 

Daily Challenge

Live today like He is in you. Remember that we can worship Him ourselves. Not because we are worthy, but because we acknowledge His power, not our own.