I wrote recently of living “above the line” in that Heavenly, supernatural realm where we will be spending eternity. We often mistake that for some future far off place in the sweet by and by, while we endure the time spent on earth. But Eternity is written on our hearts if Christ is abiding in us, living His life in us (Col. 1:27). Living below the line (in the “temporal”), is necessary—it is where we live out our current time in our fleshly bodies on this fallen planet. It is a dichotomy is it not? Tozer wrote a piece called “That Incredible Christian” which I will include in the next blog for it defines as best as can be defined, the paradox of being a believer with Heaven written on our hearts, while living in a fallen place.
I spoke earlier of the seeming contradiction between two passages of Scripture which reference what life is going to be like “in the last days.” I am not going to enter into the many debates over that phrase which are taking place today among Bible scholars; rather I would like to bring those two passages to light in view of things that are written in the headlines of today’s news and compare, as I said I would attempt to do, how Scripture is being written into every detail of our lives right now.
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:1-7 NKJV).
Many will argue that these things have always been going on but I tend to believe that we are seeing a radical increase in the past twenty or so years. The headlines of the past week are shocking. A Norwegian man blew up a government building and then calmly traveled to an island where the youth of government officials were participating in a summer camp, and, dressed as a policeman, he started calling out to the young people and as they came to him, he opened fire and killed over 80 of them. It was a savage, brutal act. It was an act of war, he later explained calmly, and he had to do it because of the government’s policy on Muslim immigration into Norway. This happened in Oslo, where the Nobel Peace Prize originated. Not coincidentally it was also the place where the historic peace treaty was negotiated between Israel and the Arab PLO in 1993. Not coincidentally, Norway had only days before this massacre, agreed to recognize Palestine as a state by appointing an ambassador to Palestine.
Below the line: In the temporal, this was a lone crazed killer who had a bias against Muslim people and in a twisted and tortured mind set, he felt he had to do something to change the political landscape of his country. He believes he is a warrior in the war between these two religions, and he was on the side of the Christians.
Above the line: In the heavenlies, this was the latest chapter of the ancient cosmic conflict which has existed since Abraham fathered two nations. I say it was the latest chapter because that is exactly what it is in that realm. The story has been written. One of the most intriguing and fascinating subjects in the Bible is the fact that in order to authenticate His message, the Creator wrote history in advance, and wrote it in such a way that the details would be too precise to be ignored; the evidence is irrefutable. Daniel is evidence of this—writing history before it happens—and some 600 years later Jesus (who was the fulfillment of Daniel 9:25-26) adds His own seal of authenticity to it by quoting it to those listening who were asking about the “last days” and, as if to punctuate His discourse, adds the admonishment, “Let the reader understand” (Matt. 24:15).
So, let us, the reader, understand. This was not merely some crazed lone terrorist. He made claims to being a Christian, and as a so-called Christian he believed was assigned to this role to make a statement about the danger of Islam. There was nothing coincidental either about the man and his insane agenda, nor about the place where it took place, nor about the message being carried now by the media.
The second Scripture, which is from the Old Testament prophet Joel, was quoted by Peter after the Church was born during the Jewish Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot), where the “talmadim” (disciples) had been instructed by Jesus to gather and wait for the coming of the Ruach Hakodesh (the Holy Spirit). Pentecost was the only feast that was open to Gentiles, and where “leavened bread” could be eaten. Again, no coincidence here—the good news was that Yeshua had broken down the partition which divided the Jews from the Gentiles and this was where it all was sealed.
Peter, the coward who had fled and denied that he even knew Jesus, now filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit and divinely empowered to stand up and speak to crowds of thousands (an event which baffled the “educated” as he was an illiterate and uneducated man), preached one of the greatest sermons of all times. Quoting the Old Testament Prophet Joel, he said:
“But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.’” (Acts 2:16-18 NKJV).
Above the line—this prophecy was being fulfilled right in their midst. Glory. But it also has a far fulfillment and it is being fulfilled right in our midst.
I received a letter yesterday from the Jesus Film Project© with the latest miracle from a country which remains unnamed because of the certain death sentence upon the lives of those involved.
The film team had taken a courageous step, going into a village in a dangerous mountainous area. They brought a DVD of “JESUS,” … The team gathered about 250 people into a community hall, plugged a small DVD player into a television already there, and closed the windows for secrecy. It was crowded and tight and the screen relatively small, but everyone stayed and watched the entire “JESUS” film.
When it came time for the team to give the invitation to receive Christ (another courageous act that could get them killed), a man sitting on the floor quickly stood. He opened his shirt and turned around so all could see.
Strapped to his chest were explosives…a suicide vest. Panic set it…
“Wait…wait! Don’t leave. I’m not going to blow myself up. I need to tell you what happened.” It took several minutes to convince the people to stay, and at last they did.
“I heard that you were going to show a blasphemous film. I went to my leaders, and they agreed you should die. I strapped on this bomb and came to kill you all.
“When the film started I reached for the detonator and tried to push the button, but as I watched the TV, Jesus turned and pointed right at me. He called my name and said loudly, ‘Don’t do that…follow me.’ He spoke in my own dialect.
“Over and over I tried. Every time I reached for the button He pointed to me and said, ‘Don’t do that…follow Me.’ My hand froze every time. I couldn’t move my thumb. I gave up and just stayed to watch.
“Now I believe. I want Jesus to be my Savior. Can you help me know more about Him?”
… When the film team asked who wanted to receive Christ and pray, everyone did…all of them. The next day the team held a service where 250 new believers were baptized in their new faith, including the man with the suicide vest! (Jim Green, Executive Director, the JESUS Film Project©).
Below the line/Above the line. The ancient cosmic conflict as it looks to us vs. the ancient cosmic conflict as it looks to Jesus. I need only ask myself one thing: Where am I going to fix my gaze and stake my life? Am I going to sit in my house, fearing the economic disaster that the news assures us is coming soon? Am I going to continue to lick my wounds over some offense that happened long ago? Am I going to spend my energy earning more and more money to spend on more and more things? Or am I going to lift my eyes Heavenward and shout praise to the One Who has already written the end of the story and pray for those He is bringing into His Kingdom from all over the world and enter into intercession for them?
I have made my choice.