Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:31

What role will angels play? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Once again, we have a verse that many futurists assume is about something in the future. After all, look at angels going out and this gathering together and the sounds of a trumpet. A trumpet sounds at the resurrection. Right? Surely that’s what’s going on here! Let’s look at the verse.

“And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

This would be an incredibly vague reference to a resurrection and trumpets have many more uses in Scripture and in the Roman Empire at the time. They could be used for war and they could also be used as a royal proclamation. I would go for a mixture of both of these. The Kingdom of God wages war on the kingdoms of man and the proclamation is the gospel going forth.

What about angels though? Angels are heavenly messengers aren’t they? Are they not the ones that are around the throne of God? If they’re going out, then surely that must mean something future is going on. Right?

No. The Greek word is aggelos and it can refer to a member of the heavenly entourage, but it can also refer to a messenger. John the Baptists is referred to as an aggelos. The word describes more function than anything else.

By the way, it’s worth noting the high Christology here. These are not the messengers of God, though they are that indeed, but in the text, they are the messengers of the Son. It’s one of those casual references easily missed.

The gathering of the elect refers to those who are Christians. At this point, there is zero interest in whether this is meant in a Calvinistic, Arminian, or some other sense. I really avoid that debate as much as I can.

And what about to the ends of the Earth? For the first-century Jews, this would not mean going all the way to North America or something, contrary to Mormon claims. This would mean going throughout the Roman Empire. By the end of the book of Acts, we see that this has been done. Not a shock to a Preterist that shortly after that, the temple gets destroyed.

We’re nearing the end of the first part. We will continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Draw of the Sensational

Are Christians buying into ideas they shouldn’t? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife recently heard about something called the Marine Kingdom. I had never heard of this either, and then I found out what it was. I immediately shook my head in disbelief thinking “Here we go again.” So what is this? Is this a new branch of Sea World? Is it a theme park? No.

It is supposedly an underwater kingdom that the devil has set up in the Atlantic Ocean.

I’m not making this up.

This is supposed to be a place where he and his demons are doing work on their computers and such to try to ruin our world. By the way, one report I did hear on this, from an “ex-satanist” or ‘ex-occultist” or whatever it was, talked about how you can’t see this with natural eyes. You have to see the kingdom with spiritual eyes. (No wonder no one has ever found it using normal methodology!)

And yes, there are some Christians who really believe this stuff.

Now I know we Christians believe some stuff the rest of the world thinks is odd, just as every worldview does, but we need to make sure our cases are backed with the best evidence. Unfortunately, many Christians I know are drawn to the sensational.

Because, you know, apparently the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, being born of a virgin, which I affirm, living among us, dying, and rising again, is just not exciting enough. No. We need something more. That incarnation and resurrection stuff is just so passe.

So what do we have? We have Christians believing every conspiracy theory that flies down the chute. We have the Illuminati being warned about. (You know, this group that secretly controls all the media but can’t handle YouTube videos and have to communicate in ways only their own members will understand but by golly, these Christians have cracked the code!) We have a fascination with anything related to demons or angels or anything like that even if the account is flimsy. We have an obsession with finding out who the antichrist really is. All of this goes on.

Somehow, Jesus seems to fade into the background the more this stuff comes up.

By the way, this doesn’t stop with us. I think this is a universal tendency. Consider mythicism, the idea that Jesus never existed. I know a lot of atheists who will buy into this idea and think that they know better than all the scholars out there. They are on the inside track. They know the wool has been pulled over our eyes. In every case, the reason is the same ultimately.

Pride.

Now, of course, some people buy into these ideas because they have never learned enough and an authority says something they trust and they believe it, but if they are shown the truth to this kind of thinking and go on anyway, then that is when pride has taken over. It’s like being part of a secret club that really knows what’s going on. (Ironically, it’s kind of like being the Illuminati these people warn against) It makes you think that because you know all this stuff, then by golly, you are one of the special people.

If you are a Christian, I can assure you that if you are worried about the devil, I’m sure he would be happy with you avoiding what you think is a big sin if he can get you on some little thing that would lead to pride. Pride is easy for all of us to fall into. In the apologetics ministry, it also is. It’s easy to think because you know so much intellectually, you are so far above that person in the pew who probably doesn’t have a clue about the minimal facts approach or the arguments of Aquinas.

Until you realize that person could run circles around you when it comes to holiness.

My advice to Christians to avoid all of this is to learn something from our friends who are skeptics and be skeptical. Check those claims on Facebook. Check those claims on YouTube. Investigate them by reading the best minds in the field. I’m a strong political conservative, but if someone shares something about the other side in politics, even if it would help my cause greatly if it was true, I check it out first. We have to be people of truth.

If you will believe things that people can easily determine to be nonsense by just basic fact-checking, why should they believe you in what isn’t basic fact-checking, the resurrection, a topic that demands much more research? Keep in mind also that while being a skeptic, make sure you are not an unreasonable one. Set a fair standard as much as you can across the board for claims. Don’t just be “I will believe this claim if it lines up with what I already agree.” For instance, I meet many skeptics who say “Yeah. You believe in miracles, unless they happen outside of Christianity.” I always reply that this is not the case. I am open to miracles going on outside of Christianity. (I can say there are other powers out there like demons for instance) All I ask is provide the evidence for the claim.

If the claim seems sensational though, please be cautious about it. Of course, there are wonderful and unusual things that happen out there, but make sure to be informed the best you can. If the only place you see something is on the internet and outside of there, no one takes it seriously, it’s probably a good idea to not believe it.

The resurrection is awesome enough for us to marvel on the rest of our lives. Don’t lose sight of that while chasing after everything else.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Please Don’t Say These At The Funeral

Are there some things you just shouldn’t say at a funeral? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve only done one funeral and that was my grandmother’s. I’ve attended a number of them and sadly, one of the worst parts is hearing the awful messages that preachers give because they just don’t have good theology to them. There are many preachers who haven’t studied the issues involved and say some messages they shouldn’t. Some of these aren’t really harmful to the audience. Others really can be. I’d like to look at a number of them and I’m going to save the worst one that I’ve ever heard for last.

At one funeral, I remember hearing the preacher talk about the deceased and saying “Right now, she is experiencing the power of the resurrection!”

Um. No.

You see, this might be a shock, but when you go to the funeral service, barring some catastrophe, usually the person’s body is right there. You get to see the body. Resurrection means something. It means that the person is again in their body after life after death and is walking around. For our purposes in Christianity, it means they are back in a body that will never die and they will live forever. Resurrection does not mean going to Heaven when you die. Of course, if you want to say when someone dies, they go to be in the presence of Jesus, I have no problem, but let us not say that they are experiencing the resurrection. They are not. The resurrection of Jesus is not about Him leaving a body in a tomb and being taken in spirit to be with the Father. It is about the body that went down coming back up in a new and glorified state. For Christians, that won’t happen until the end.

“God needed another angel.”

Frankly, this one is cruel. Really. It is. You want to go to a little child who has just lost their mother and say “We know you’re hurting, but God needed another angel in Heaven.” Not only is it the problem that angels are not dead humans, but what kind of God are you presenting? A God who has to kill the mothers of children so He can have angels for His purposes? Many children believe it or not do not have a sophisticated theology. You are already presenting them with a God who will take the mother that they long for and cherish just because He needs another angel in Heaven. If you have ever said this to someone, shame on you for saying it.

“He’s walking on streets of gold.”

This one I didn’t hear at a funeral per se, but it was said by a preacher in a sermon where he talked about a friend who died and how right now, he’s walking on streets of gold. It was one of those points where my wife Allie had to reach over and gently touch my leg as if to say “Please calm down.” She knows I get really agitated when I hear bad theology like this. Why is this bad? Because this is more of a gnostic view than anything else. We have this view that the body is a sort of prison to be escaped and then we die and we’re walking in Heaven. No. We’re not. We have no body to walk in and if you want to see those streets of gold, they’re talked about in the last two chapters of Revelation when Heaven is described. Where is Heaven? Take a look. It’s not the case of “I’ll Fly Away” from this world and leave it behind because “This World Is Not My Home. I’m Just Passing Through.” Heaven is coming down to Earth. The Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of God. God takes over finally. We have the marriage of Heaven and Earth.

Christians must be people who view the body as important. We do not dare say there is a sort of spiritual body that is walking on the streets of gold. We have to emphasize that we are incomplete without our physical bodies.

“Paul’s hope was we would see our loved ones again in Heaven.”

I remember being at a sermon and the pastor was really flubbing it in my thinking. Sadly, he spent more time talking about himself than he did about the deceased, but then he said we have the same hope that Paul described in 1 Thess. 4. Okay. I was starting to get hopeful here. I know what 1 Thess. 4 is about. It’s about the resurrection. So will the pastor get it right? Will he say we have the hope of the resurrection?

Nope. Instead, it was that we would see our loved ones in Heaven.

*Groan*

Just going to Heaven is incomplete. If anything, it means that death does have a victory. Death has a victory because our bodies are still subject to it. For Paul, the resurrection means everything. It means that death has been truly conquered and cannot hold us down just like it could not hold Jesus down. Either death has the last word over our bodies, or God has the last word over death. We will see our loved ones again one day, yes, and that is something we are meant to comfort one another with, but that reunion takes place after the resurrection. That was the great hope.

Unfortunately, even just yesterday I saw an internet atheist trying to argue that Paul’s great change he made to Christianity was he promised people Heaven. Paul’s message was the resurrection, and he was right in line with what the rest of the early church was saying. Even in our evangelism, we act like the goal is to get people to go to Heaven. The goal is to get people to become righteous in Christ and be disciples.

“Their Last Act Was An Act Of Love.”

I must place this one in the proper context. My parents told me about hearing this one at a funeral that they attended where it was said that the last act of the deceased was an act of love. What was it? A police officer taking a bullet for a fellow officer? A soldier throwing himself onto a grenade so his buddies would be safe? A firefighter rushing into a building to save a child? Nope.

The deceased had committed suicide.

Suicide is many things, but it is not loving and it should never be seen as loving. Instead, there were children and nieces and nephews and others there who were told that day that a person committing suicide was an act of love. I understand the preacher got a lot of flack for his statement. He should have. Funerals are meant to comfort those who are left behind and to honor the deceased. This kind of statement does neither.

Let’s remember when we have our services that we are Christians. We believe in a bodily resurrection. We believe that God is conquering evil. We believe that the world will bow the knee to Christ at one point in time. None of this should be downplayed. That we do not realize this and celebrate this enough is a fault of our churches not teaching good theology and not discipling.

In Christ,
Nick Peters