The End is Nearer than We May Think

Ok folks, clear your calendars because a very important event is coming up for which you are going to want to be prepared. I’m not talking about Easter, Labor Day, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving or even Christmas. No, it’s nobody’s birthday either. However, I think you are going to want to be ready for this one because an event like this only occurs once every thousand years or so. Oh, you want to know what’s going to happen that day? Scientists estimate that on that day, a meteor about 1/3 of a mile in diameter will come close enough to earth so that you can see it passing by overhead in the sky. It will not, however, collide with the earth (they think), but pass the earth about 22,500 miles away (still a near miss). So mark you calendars for Friday, April 13th, 2029 because that’s the big day!

“Wait a minute!” you say, “That’s twenty-four years in the future. Why should I get all worked up over that now?” Good question. Some may even be thinking “I don’t even know that I will be alive on that day,” indeed, some of us will not. Some of us may die of natural causes and others of us may die due to disease or accidents of one kind or another. It kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? All of a sudden the possibility of a meteor hitting the earth in 2029 doesn’t seem nearly as urgent when we consider that we may not even be around to see it pass. Indeed, we just do not know when our last day on earth will be.

Believe it or not, this has been man’s condition for many years. James wrote regarding this very topic almost 2000 years ago. James 4:13-15 states, “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” James makes it clear that tomorrow is not promised because our lives are fleeting. The appropriate attitude that we ought to have toward the future is “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” Notice that little phrase that we normally skip over when we look at this passage; “we shall live.” James wasn’t so much concerned about saying “If the Lord wills, we shall do one thing or another” as much as he was concerned about saying “If the Lord wills, we shall live.” Indeed, the activities of our life are dependent upon our life itself. Will we live to see tomorrow? We just don’t know for sure.

Another passage that comes to mind is Psalm 90 wherein the psalmist compares man, in his frailties, to the stamina and power of God. “A thousand years” says the psalmist “are but as yesterday” to God and he looks upon them as we look upon the grass of the earth which flourishes in the morning but is cut down in the evening. In comparison to the thousands of years which God experiences as yesterday, our years are threescore and ten or maybe fourscore. By the end, all of our years are merely as “a tale that is told” and then “we fly away.” What is the lesson that the psalmist draws from all of this? “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Our days are indeed numbered.

Should we get exercised about the year 2029, or even about the impending day of our death? Certainly we should prepare for death, but let’s not worry about things that are out of our control. Jesus said in Matthew 6:34, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” It’s sufficient for us to worry about today’s affairs and not be preoccupied with things that will occur beyond our control in the future. Today is the day of salvation, no doubt (2 Corinthians 6:2). We should get right with God today if we haven’t. In the mean time, I’m not marking my calendar for April 13th, 2029.

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The Bible Miracle of Speaking in Tongues

There is, perhaps, no more publicized miracle today than that of speaking in tongues. It is the one miracle that those who believe they can do miracles most frequently claim as having been done. In speaking with people who claim to have spoken in tongues today they often describe an emotional experience and a feeling that they have never felt before. When asked what they said when they spoke in tongues, the reply is often, “I don’t know.” And when you listen to those who claim to be speaking in tongues what comes out of their mouth doesn’t even appear to resemble language at all, but “gibberish.” Is this what the Bible teaches regarding speaking in tongues? What was their purpose? Was it an emotional experience? Was it not meant to be understood by the speaker? Was it merely gibberish?

Let’s answer that last question first. The Bible teaches that the miracle of speaking in tongues was not gibberish nor was it language that was unknown. In Acts 2:4 we read, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” So what was it that they spoke? We don’t have to read too far to understand the answer to that question. In Acts 2:7-8, those who heard the apostles speaking in tongues were amazed and then they evaluated what they heard. They said to each other, “Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” What they were amazed at was the fact that these Galileans could speak in the language of their birth. In Acts 2:11 they make this clear, saying “we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” The apostles were speaking human languages that other people could understand. This point is made clear by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:10-11 where he is discussing the appropriate use of the miracle of tongues. He says, “There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.”ESV The languages that they spoke in had meaning. The miracle of speaking in tongues was not mere gibberish.

We still wonder whether tongues were understood by the one who was speaking. It’s possible that a person could miraculously speak in tongues and someone else understand him, but he not understand what he himself is saying, right? In 1 Corinthians 14:4, Paul answers this question. He says, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself�.” In the context, what Paul means by “edify” is that the individual understands the tongue. This is clear when he says in the next part of the verse, “but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.” Paul is comparing and contrasting the spiritual gift of tongues verses the spiritual gift of prophecy. Tongues are not always understood by others, and therefore, they do not edify. They edify the one speaking in the tongue, but no other, if there is no one there who knows the tongue or who can interpret the tongue. On the other hand the gift of prophecy always edifies because it is always spoken in a tongue that can be understood. We can conclude that if speech edifies (whether it is a foreign tongue or a prophecy), then it is an understood tongue and so, since tongues edified the speaker, tongues were always understood by the person speaking them.

But what about the emotional aspect to speaking in tongues. Interestingly enough, the scriptures never speak of speaking in tongues being accompanied by an emotional experience. One would think that if speaking in tongues was such a great emotional event that such would be described as accompanying the gift of tongues in the New Testament. We read such regarding other events, such as baptism. In Acts 8:39 after the Ethiopian nobleman was baptized, it said he went on his way rejoicing. Why wasn’t the gift of speaking in tongues described in a similar way? It seems that there wasn’t any extraordinary emotional experience necessarily attached to the gift of tongues.

What was its purpose then? The Bible teaches that the gift of tongues was part of the set of miracles that the apostles and disciples of the early church could perform in order to convince others regarding the truthfulness of their statements. Jesus said in Mark 16:17-18 “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” We then read their purpose in Mark 16:20, “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” The signs were given to confirm the word. This was also the case with the miracle of speaking in tongues. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14:22, “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not�.” The miraculous gift of tongues was a sign for the unbeliever and that gives us insight into it’s purpose. Jesus commanded the apostles to take the gospel to the whole world; how could they do that if they didn’t have some way to communicate with people of other languages? These people would be unbelievers when initially approached. The miracle of tongues, therefore, was to convince people who did not believe the gospel to believe it. And that was the exact effect it had upon the people to whom the apostles preached in Acts 2.

We can conclude, then, that the Bible teaches that 1) the miraculous gift of tongues was the ability to speak in a foreign, but understandable, language (i.e. it wasn’t just gibberish), 2) it was understood by the person who spoke it, though it wasn’t necessarily understood by the person who heard it, 3) that it wasn’t necessarily accompanied by any extraordinary emotional experience, and 4) that it’s purpose was to communicate with unbelievers to get them to accept the gospel of Christ. Tongues were certainly an important part in the construction of the church, but they were destined to end when God’s revelation in written form was completed. Paul tells us as much in 1 Corinthians 13:8; “whether there be tongues, they shall cease.” Tongues, along with all other Bible miracles, have ceased, and we now have God’s perfectly revealed word in the scriptures.

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How Do We Get Wisdom?

Here is a question that the Bible directly answers in scripture. In James 1:5, James writes, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James states that if someone wants wisdom, that he may ask God and God will give him wisdom. James doesn’t, however, state “how” God gives wisdom; neither does James state that prayer is the ONLY way through which we can get wisdom. James simply says to ask for it if you lack it and God will do the giving. But how does God give wisdom?

In the past, God gave wisdom directly to those who were inspired. In Daniel 2:23, Daniel thanks God for the wisdom that God had miraculously given to Him. He says, “I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast now made known unto me what we desired of thee; for thou hast made known unto us the king’s matter.” Peter also tells us that God had inspired Paul with wisdom to write his epistles in 2 Peter 3:15, 16: “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; wherein are some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and unstedfast wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” God also gave Jesus great wisdom prompting some to ask from where such wisdom originated: “And when the sabbath was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, Whence hath this man these things? and, What is the wisdom that is given unto this man, and what mean such mighty works wrought by his hands?” (Mark 6:2). Paul also wrote concerning miraculous wisdom that was given by the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:8: “For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit.” With the cessation of miraculous gifts (1 Corinthians 13:8-10) also came the cessation of miraculous wisdom. Does God give wisdom directly today? One might just as well argue that God gives knowledge directly as he would that God gives wisdom directly today.

However, God does give wisdom in other ways. Just as God once gave knowledge directly by inspiration, which knowledge is now contained within His word, so also God, who gave wisdom by inspiration, has also left much wisdom for us in His word. The writer of the book of Proverbs states plainly that if one desires to know wisdom, that he should study that book. Proverbs 1:1-3 state: “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity�.” Paul also spoke concerning the wisdom that was revealed through the gospel in 1 Corinthians 6:7, “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” Finally, Paul teaches that within the mystery of Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

Are there other ways in which God makes wisdom known? Yes. In Ephesians 3:10 Paul writes that God makes known His wisdom through the church. “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” We also may gain wisdom through our cumulative lifetime experiences. If we believe that all things work together for good for the Christian (Romans 8:28), then God may also use “all things” to give wisdom as well.

God gives wisdom! What a great and wonderful blessing. May we ever look for and expect the wisdom of God in our lives.

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