Faith Brings Salvation!

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What glorious truths are found in Romans 9-11!  It’s like a treasure hunt, and the golden nuggets are invaluable!  I hope you are enjoying this week’s study as we examine the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.  We’re headed into Romans 10 today, but if you missed the previous two posts, I recommend you back up and catch them so that you get the fullness of today’s lesson.

Paul opens Chapter 10 driving home the idea that righteousness and salvation are attained by faith alone, not by works.  Then, he cuts straight to the chase in verses 9-10:

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

That’s as plain and simple as it gets!  In fact, if you are following this study (or you simply stumbled upon this post) and you have tried to gain God’s acceptance through anything but simple faith, it is not a coincident that you are here!  He is speaking to you this very moment!  Our Lord longs for relationship with you and you can do nothing to earn it.  Salvation truly is simple: confess and believe!  (Click here for more guidance about how to be saved.)

Salvation is the same for everyone…Jews or Gentiles.  Paul goes on to explain that in verses 12-13 of Romans:

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

However, verses 14-21 allude to the difficulty of the Jewish people in understanding and trusting in faith alone.  To call upon God, they must believe.  To believe, they must they must hear.  To hear, there must be a preacher. Preachers must be sent.

Well, throughout history, God sent “preachers.”  They were called prophets in the Old Testament!  Men such as Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah and others foretold of Christ the Messiah who would come to the Jews.  The preachers came…and the Jewish people heard.  Yet, they did not simply believe by faith.  Instead, they tried to keep the law of Moses.

Verse 15 talks about the beautiful feet of those who bring good news (the Gospel).  The Gospel is all about faith and nothing more.  I want beautiful feet, how about you?  I want to share the good news with others (including Jews).  May we all yearn for beautiful feet!

Allow me to divert for a moment.  Sadly, there are very large Christian organizations (such as Christians United for Israel [John Hagee, who denies Jesus as Messiah] and International Fellowship of Christians and Jews [Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein]) who wholeheartedly love Israel and care for the Jewish people, but WILL NOT “preach the Gospel” to them.  (I’m not suggesting obnoxious “in your face” evangelism that is unnecessarily offensive, but about intentionally taking the opportunities God gives to share the love of Christ both in word and deed.)  How sad that the very key thing Paul teaches about regarding Jewish-Christian relations is not innocently overlooked, but intentionally set aside.  (You can find out about Jewish-related ministries and their sometimes veiled objectives here.)

Romans 10:19 compels us to be a nation (people group) willing to show the love of Messiah, in order to make the Jewish people jealous.  Let’s practice what God’s Word commands!

We’re headed for Romans 11 tomorrow, and it gets REALLY good at that point!  So, here’s your homework: go read that chapter, then join us here again tomorrow as we launch into that chapter!

UPDATE: Friends, I just watched a video that corresponds so closely with our study this week about Christian-Jewish relations.  Tune into an interview with Eitan Shishkoff, an American-born “hippie Jew,” who now lives and ministers in Israel.  He has incredible insight into Jewish-Christian relations.  Catch the interview at the 1:19:50 mark here:

Christ Revealed – Episode 9

(Christ Revealed is a 9-part documentary, with a single episode released each day.  This was Day 9, and I believe the video is available only until 6:00pm Pacific time today.)

Signs of the Times

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Welcome back, study friends!  Pour yourself a cup of coffee and pull up a chair to the study table!  This week we are focusing on signs of the times and signs in today’s world are crystal clear.  Let’s set the stage, then dive in!

Yesterday, our focus was on the signs Jesus and the prophet Ezekiel spoke of: a blooming fig tree and a valley of dry bones.  Both of those, of course, point to the re-birth of Israel, and are perhaps the most crucial prophecies in all the Bible regarding God’s plan of the end.  Israel MUST be back in their land in order for end time events to occur.

So, let’s talk momentarily about God’s calendar of end time events.  As we’ve discussed previously on this blog, the feasts of Israel serve as a clear calendar of God’s plan.  Here is a re-cap of those 7 major feasts:

  1. Passover – the first feast of the spring. Jesus fulfilled this feast by becoming our Passover Lamb. (John 1:291 Corinthians 5:7b)
  2. Feast of Unleavened Bread – immediately following Passover.  Unleavened bread is symbolic of ridding oneself of sin.  Jesus, the Sinless One, fulfilled the feast by becoming the sinless sacrifice, pierced for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.  (Isaiah 53:5)
  3. Feast of First Fruits – within days of the first two feasts.  1 Corinthians 15:20 confirms that Christ is risen from the dead and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep!
  4. Pentecost – 50 days following the Feast of First Fruits.  It was on Pentecost that the Holy Spirit was sent and the Church Age began.  This is the age in which we live!  God has turned His attention to Gentiles, to bring salvation, but will soon turn His attention back to His plan for the Jewish people.
  5. Feast of Trumpets – the next thing on God’s calendar!  For Christians, the idea of trumpets brings to mind one thing: the rapture!  Indeed, it is next on God’s calendar!
  6. Yom Kippur – the most solemn day on the Jewish calendar.  The Bible teaches us that the Jews will look upon Him who they pierced, and they will mourn for Him as if for an only son.  (Zechariah 12:10)  Repentance is coming to the Jews!
  7. Feast of Tabernacles – the celebratory feast.  One day, all the nations of the world will gather in Jerusalem to worship the King of Kings!  We know that as the Millennial Kingdom. (Zechariah 14:16-21)

That’s the big picture!  But, let’s zoom into the chronology of events presented in Ezekiel 36-39.  There, we find:

  • Chapter 36: God preparing the land for the return of His people
  • Chapter 37: God bringing the Jewish people back to life and planting them in the land
  • Chapter 38: An invasion of Israel from the north
  • Chapter 39: God taking care of business on Israel’s behalf

So, do you see the signs, my friends?  We’re living in the days just before the rapture.  We’re also living “in the in between” of Ezekiel 37 and Ezekiel 38.  It is calm for the moment, but storm clouds are rising and the storm will most definitely follow!

The question is: are we like those Jesus rebuked for knowing how to discern the weather, but unable to discern the times in which we live?  Or do we see the signs for what they are: a warning that Jesus is coming back soon?  It is time to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Bridegroom!  (Matthew 25)

Are you ready?

PS: Come back later today for an incredible sign of the times!  You will be blessed!

History in the Making!

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Welcome back to Why Israel Matters.  If you have found your way here, but have no idea what to make of it, just know that we have just begun a summary of a live Bible study conducted at CalvaryPHX in Phoenix AZ.  (If you are in the area, join us live each Sunday morning at 11:00 in Room 209, Central campus.)  Yesterday I launched the first post, and you can catch it here.

There is no doubt we live in historic times as we view today’s events through the lens of Scripture.  It is a time of prophetic fulfillment, and should lead each of us as Christians to understand that Jesus could return for us at any time!  Thus, we must be ready, as a bride readies herself for the groom.

History was made when President Trump (in December) recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Not that Jerusalem wasn’t already the capital…just that no one was willing to say so officially.  That was followed by the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence.  Along with that, Israel now has the backing of the world’s #1 superpower, and has unprecedented support in the UN from US Ambassador Nikki Haley.  Collectively, those things have never been true in all of history, yet the Bible says Jerusalem MUST be established in order for God’s plan of the end to take place.

Such things must be understood in the context of why Israel matters.  Sadly, many churches today are teaching a different theology: Replacement Theology, which in essence says, “Because the Jewish people rejected Jesus, God has rejected the Jews.  All promises to the Jews are now promises to the church.  Thus, the church is the ‘new Israel.'”

Absolutely not!

Other churches are just not teaching about Israel at all.  Some say it is too “political.”  They want nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the Iranian’s stated goal of “wiping Israel off the map.”

But the real issue is Jerusalem.  If you talk about Israel, you eventually have to tackle the issue of Jerusalem.  The Bible says Jerusalem will be a heavy stone in the end.  All who try to move her will be injured!  (Zechariah 12:2-3)  Therefore, it is just easier to avoid the issue of Jerusalem altogether.

But is Jerusalem really “political?”  Jerusalem is mentioned over 600 times in the Bible.  Jesus left from there and will return there.  Does that sound political or spiritual?  Furthermore, the Jewish people will ultimately look upon their Messiah there, and Romans 11:26 says ALL Israel will be saved!  Nothing political about that!  It’s a spiritual battle, not a political one!

God chose Israel for a specific REASON and a specific SEASON!  God revealed Himself to Gentiles through Israel!  In fact, Israel is the vehicle of world redemption!  That’s the REASON.  It is through Israel we have:

  • Faith in One God – the Jews gave up worshiping other gods when they went into exile!
  • Word of God – the Bible was written by Jews, in Jewish settings.
  • Son of God – news flash: Jesus was a Jew!

We live in a unique window of time.  This is the SEASON.  God made Himself known through the Jewish people, and He is about to make Himself known TO the Jewish people!

And we ask….why is Israel important!?!  You’ve got your first taste of where we’re going in this study, but we’re not through for this week!  Stay tuned for more!

PS: Have you prayed for Israel today?  Do so…then check back tomorrow as we join the worldwide prayer initiative to pray together for Israel!

Guatemala’s Embassy becomes First to Move to Jerusalem

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Though not yet an official embassy opening, the Guatemalan mission became the first to open and raise its flag in Jerusalem on Tuesday.  Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales, an avid supporter of Israel, made this announcement at the AIPAC Policy Conference in March:

“In May of this year we will celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary, and under my instructions two days after the U.S. will move its embassy, Guatemala will return and permanently move its embassy to Jerusalem. This decision strongly evidences Guatemala’s continued support of Israel, and we are sure that many other countries will follow in our steps.  I would like to thank President Trump for leading the way.  His courageous decision has encouraged us to do what is right.”

Morales wasted little time!

In response, Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted:

“I was moved to see the flag of Guatemala waving in Jerusalem in advance of the opening of the Guatemalan embassy later this month. Dear friends, welcome back to our eternal capital!”

Following the US Embassy’s move on May 14, the Czech Republic, Honduras, Paraguay and Romania (in addition to Guatemala) are all expected to open their embassies in short order.  Tanzania also just announced the opening of their first Israeli embassy in Jerusalem.  More are sure to follow!

All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And they shall glorify Your name.
~Psalm 86:9

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘It will yet be that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, “Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I will also go.”  So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.’”
~Zechariah 8:20-22

Indeed, may many “come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord!”