Exalt Christ in Song

August 14th, 2013

And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. (Revelation 15:3)

Each Sunday morning when our services begin the choir calls the church to worship. Our current song selection is the short chorus He is Exalted which is a good choice because as our first act of worship our attention is immediately focused on Jesus Christ the one who is worthy of worship. Revelation 5:12 declares, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” Singing praises that acknowledge the right of our Lord to receive worship is well pleasing to God. Scripture commands us to sing spiritual songs and make melody in our hearts which in turn makes the song service an integral part of our worship.

It is very important that we worship God with songs that have words and music that honor Him. When the apostle John was allowed to see into heaven, he was awestruck by the thousands upon thousands that sang the praises of the Lamb. Would it surprise you to learn that heaven sings a song that was first sung on earth? What kind of song could be sung here that would be a proper song for heaven? One of the songs John heard was the song of Moses. We know the lyrics of this song because they are recorded in Exodus 15.

The first stanzas of the song are very much unlike songs heard in churches today. Moses’ song began with an execution. Israel sang about the destruction of Pharaoh and his armies in the Red Sea. They were singing about the wrath of God and His vengeance upon His enemies. Would you consider it odd if we were to begin our services singing about hell rather than heaven? It might be strange but it would not be unbiblical. Deliverance from death and hell are excellent reasons for worship. Gospel presentations should begin with God’s wrath on sinners. We cannot know we need the Saviour unless we know there is something to be saved from.

If we should begin our services singing about hell, we would not want to sing four stanzas about it and then quit. Neither would we start a gospel presentation and stop with the bad news of condemnation. There is more to talk about and there is more to sing about. The good news is the salvation found in Christ. The good news is that we can be delivered from the wrath of God because Christ died to take away the cause of God’s wrath. Our sins are the cause and Christ’s death is the remedy. The penalty for sin is everlasting punishment in the fires of hell. Jesus died in our place, suffered our hell, and paid the penalty for us.

Moses’ song goes on and other stanzas speak of the glorious expectation of heaven (Exodus 15:17). The saints in heaven sing this verse because they experience this promise of God made good. The song also contains our familiar theme, the exaltation of Christ. Verse 18 says, “The Lord shall reign forever and ever.” This is also a familiar refrain in heaven: “…there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

As you sing, pay attention to the words. Choose songs that magnify Jesus Christ. Carefully consider the words of In Christ Alone, O Magnify the Lord, And Can it Be, and My Heart Is Filled. The gospel is presented in these songs; and friends, this is worth singing about!

Pastor V. Mark Smith

What Did Jesus Really Say?

July 19th, 2013

The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: (Revelation 14:10)

Recently, I was visiting with a lady in a nearby neighborhood discussing salvation and what it means to know Jesus Christ personally as Saviour. At the beginning of the conversation, this lady freely admitted that she had not read much of the Bible because it was too hard to understand. And yet, she had opinions about Christ and what He taught.

I find in my discussions with many people there is a great deal of misunderstanding about who they think Jesus is and what He said and did as opposed to the Bible’s record of His words and deeds. It is very rare to meet people that are adverse to Jesus Christ since He is universally recognized for His kindness, care and compassion for those that are downcast and hurting. Without having read the Bible, many assume they know exactly who Jesus is and most of the time He thinks and acts just like they do. If their politics are liberal and they support such things as gay rights and gay marriages, they will appeal to Jesus and say it is unchristian not to fight for the equality of all people. On the other hand, if the person is very conservative and does not favor things such as gun control, the argument is that Jesus and the Bible favor strong protection of families and these types of personal individual rights. Whatever our politics or religion may be, no one wants to think their position is opposed to Jesus Christ. You will never hear a churchman or a politician say, “I don’t care what Jesus taught or did, He was wrong!” So, they just pretend Jesus thinks the same as they do.

In my conversation with this neighbor, the statement was made, “I think we are all God’s children and all will eventually find our way to God and everybody will be in heaven.” When I asked, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” the answer was affirmative. “Do you believe He is God?” The answer again was “Yes.” “Do you believe if Jesus is God that He must always tell the truth?” Again, the answer was “Yes.” I then asked, “Did you know Jesus said there are some people that are not the children of God? Did you know He said some have Satan as their father and they do the works of Satan? Did you know Jesus said that all people are not going to heaven?” At this point, I gave the scripture references where these statements of Jesus are found.

As I said, this is not really uncommon. Perhaps we should not be too surprised that the average person really doesn’t know much about Jesus and the Bible. We should be surprised, however, when we find the same abject ignorance among those that stand in pulpits and preach from the Bible! We could go down a long list of Bible doctrines and show how convoluted the teachings of pastors and teachers are that claim to believe what the Bible says. None of them will happily admit they are opposed to Jesus and the teachings of scripture.

This thought comes to my mind when reading Revelation 14:10-11. There are those that deny the eternity of hell, and either believe hell does not exist, or is a place of annihilation. This is an opinion unsupported by the word of God. Those that refuse the gospel of Christ and will not submit to His authority, “…shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever…” These words were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and agree with Jesus’ words in Mark 9:42-48.

If Jesus is God, then knowing exactly what He said and meant is the most critical information you could ever know. You may think you know Him and you may think He thinks like you. Don’t make the mistake of finding out otherwise when it is too late. Hear Him now and believe Him now. Tomorrow may be too late.

Pastor V. Mark Smith

Counterfeit Christs

June 29th, 2013

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:24)

In the sixth chapter of Ephesians, the apostle Paul warned Christians to beware of the wiles of the devil. This advice is given because Satan is a counterfeiter and a master of deceit that has myriads of devices to trick believers. When you become a Christian, you are not immune to the devil’s schemes and you must be vigilant to check everything you hear no matter how much you may trust those who would teach you the word of God. Even though Satan is adept at planting false doctrines in our minds, there is really nothing he can do to take away the salvation we have in Christ. It is a better tactic for him to snatch the seed of the word of God away before it ever takes root in our heart.

We would think the best tactic Satan could use to keep people away from God and salvation is to convince them God does not really exist; therefore, he would spend most of his time trying to make atheists of people. Actually, Satan doesn’t really concentrate a lot of his efforts in making atheists because atheism is educated ignorance. Satan is far too smart to make pure ignorance his best friends (sorry atheists, but even Satan doesn’t like you!). Since God has put it into the heart of man to know He exists, and since our hearts are naturally religious, Satan knows he must concentrate his efforts in perverting knowledge of the true God. He seeks to make a substitute for God, a counterfeit god that people will believe and be none the wiser.

In Matthew chapter 24, Jesus describes the activity of Satan in trying to counterfeit God when he says, “there shall arise false Christs.” A false Christ is a good imitation but is not the real thing. A false Christ can make you satisfied you have found truth when in reality you are more blinded to truth than ever before. A parallel passage to Matthew 24:24 is found in the book of Revelation (Rev. 13:13-15) where a false prophet arises during the Tribulation that is able to perform many miracles that mimic the power of God. We can see by this that when Satan empowers the nations of the world to rise up against the one true God, they do not do so because of atheism. They fight against God because they believe they have the real god on their side. They do not know their god is the counterfeit and is leading them to their ultimate destruction.

There is a very important point we must remember about Satan’s activity. He is not waiting for the Tribulation to come before he begins his great deception. He is busy right now in 2012 counterfeiting the work of God. The apostle John wrote “even now there are many antichrists” (1 John 2:18c). Atheism is not our greatest concern. We are far more concerned with preachers in pulpits proclaiming their false Christs. We are more concerned with those that claim signs and wonders in the name of Christ when they have nothing to do with Him. Jesus said, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mat. 7:21).

Religious chicanery is the devil’s method and it comes in a variety of forms. One of the fastest growing of these is the charismatic movement. Whenever I read Matthew 7, Matthew 24, and Revelation 13, my mind is always immediately drawn towards the charlatans of this movement. They have also spawned the equally perverted doctrines of the Word of Faith teachers. Huge auditoriums across this country like the former Compaq Center in Houston are not filled with atheists; they are filled with gullible “seekers” that have been sucked in with Satan’s religion.

Yes, Satan is alive and well in 2012. He is not waiting for anything to happen before he takes his best shot at God and His people. Atheists are the tag-alongs; they are the devil’s step children. The real danger is in the pulpit; the real danger will smile at you while he pushes you into the abyss. Beware of the devil’s counterfeits; there is one in a church near you.

Pastor V. Mark Smith

Economic Salvation vs. Soul Salvation

June 13th, 2013

And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. (Revelation 13:1)

As we continue our congregational reading today in the book of Revelation, we have reached the thirteenth chapter which gives the reader an introduction to one of the most intriguing characters in the Bible. Unfortunately for many, there seems to be more interest in this person than in the one the Revelation is truly about. The book is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, but for all of the interest that is stirred over the thirteenth chapter we would think it is the Revelation of the Antichrist. Would to God there was as much in-depth study of the person, character, and nature of Christ as there is devoted to the speculation of the identity of the Antichrist!

Even though the term “antichrist” is never used in Revelation, there is no doubt this is the person described in the thirteenth chapter. The apostle John is the only writer of scripture that uses the term but he does not use it here. We find it five times in 1 John (including “antichrists”) in which he refers not only to this person named in Revelation, but to any person that denies the essential equality of the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 2:22). The term simply means “against Christ” therefore anyone that stands against the doctrines of Christ is identified by the term.

During the last half of the Tribulation, a new world leader will emerge that embodies the worst forces of evil. He will be a charismatic, mesmerizing man empowered by Satan. With the deceitful skills and craftiness of the old serpent, he will deceive the world into thinking he is actually God. It is most interesting to me that he gains notoriety and his position through his first deception which is the ability to handle the world’s economy. Prosperity is his mantra and when he is able to give people “hope” in the calamitous times of tribulation, he quickly rises to the top as the world’s economic savior. I find this very curious in light of the current economic climate. Even Christians have abandoned God’s demands of morality and decency to pursue their political candidates (and preachers) that promise prosperity.

Although the Antichrist will be wildly popular, he cannot produce what every person most desperately needs. Lest we forget, this world was not created for us. As the song says, “This is my Father’s world” and He will receive all glory from His creation. The world needs “THE CHRIST” not the Antichrist because God intends to receive glory. Scripture declares “To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever.” If you do not have Christ living in your heart, you cannot glorify God. Whatever and whomever does not conform to God’s glorious purpose will be destroyed.

We should not forget the reason Christ came into the world. The apostle John wrote: “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Our leaders may claim to be political and economic saviors, but that kind of salvation has no value for your soul. Look to Christ and keep your eyes on Him! He is the only one that can give you soul salvation. It will not profit to gain the whole world and lose your own soul (Matthew 16:26). The world and its system will pass away. Your soul will last for eternity. Do you know where it will be? Heaven or Hell are the only options, so be careful which “christ” you choose to follow.

Pastor V. Mark Smith

Our God Reigns

May 31st, 2013

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)

In the book of Romans chapter 13, Paul wrote, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” In this verse, Paul is referring to the leaders of civil government. It is the duty of all Christians to obey those that are in power because God has ordained them for our good. There is no person that rules any country unless God permits and ordains him to be there. This is an amazing statement in light of Rome’s government in the first century. At the time of Paul’s writing, Nero was the emperor and his hostility towards Christianity was legendary. Christians were cruelly tortured and killed during his reign and yet there is no mention in scripture that Christians were to rise up to fight against this godless government. How is it possible that Paul should write such an admonition to believers?

We might well ask the same question today as we are very perplexed with the government of our country. Did God put this president in power? It may be hard to swallow, but the answer is “yes.” God providentially ordains governments to His ends. This government could well be the destruction of life in America as we know it, but is this necessarily against the providence of God? Does not God use government also as a means of chastisement? See Romans 13:3-4. The political party that is now in power has made no secret of its hatred of God. While pretending to be still a “Christian” government nearly every evil imaginable has been foisted upon us. In the name of “tolerance” we are commanded to accept murder and perverted lifestyles as the right of individuals. At the same time, true Christianity is proclaimed intolerable and Christians that oppose the evils perpetrated upon us are declared guilty of “hate crimes.” It is shameful that American Christians bear much of the responsibility for the terrible condition of our country. Many have fallen prey to the greed of our wicked society and now vote according to their pocketbooks rather than the principles of God’s word. As we know, the alternative last year was to vote for a Mormon. The leaders of evangelical Christianity like Billy and Franklin Graham were busy about reconciling Mormonism to Christianity! What disgusting choices!

How are real Christians to react to this kind of government? Are we right to obey it? Should we not rather be anarchists? I believe the answer is found in our scripture reading today. Notice the present tense verb in this passage: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.” This scripture was written near the midpoint of the Revelation and yet there are eight more chapters to go until Christ returns in power and glory to begin His Kingdom upon the earth. How is it possible that voices in heaven can declare the Kingship of Christ in the present? The secret is the surety of God’s plan. In the Greek language, there is a verb tense that allows a future event to be spoken of as if it has already happened. This is how the Bible writers expressed the absolute certainty of the coming reign of Christ. This means that though we live under a godless physical government for the time being, we are citizens of the perfect government of Jesus Christ. We do not need to concern ourselves with the overthrow of this American government because human government is not our end. We live peaceably now as much as we can while we wait for our true King to come. While we certainly believe in patriotism, our goal is not to make sure America survives, but to pray that it will be utterly conquered and become a kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.

It is often said, “No one knows the future.” I beg to differ. I know the future of America and of every nation of the world. None of them will continue to exist in their present form. Christ will not “tolerate” them. They are guilty of “hate crimes” against Jesus, and friends, it does not pay to be His enemy. For the time being, just wait; be patient. “…greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ…”(1 Pet. 1:6-7)

Pastor V. Mark Smith

Church Membership

May 23rd, 2013

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

Today, we are privileged to open our Bibles once again to Matthew’s Gospel to begin a three part message on the Lord’s promise to build His church. Our concentration in the morning message will be the foundation of the church, which we believe to be none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. There is much to be considered when the topic turns to the church because most of the New Testament is devoted to the founding, development, and doctrines of it. Unfortunately, we do not have time to consider the topic extensively in these three messages and will discuss mostly the meaning of the verses in Matthew.

I want to take a little space in this article to discuss membership in the church. Is it necessary to be a member of the church? We have many people visit our church and we are thankful for each visitor that comes, but I notice many times visitors will attend for several weeks; they like the church and desire to worship with us, but they never make any move towards church membership. Sometimes there is confusion about the steps necessary to become a member of the Lord’s church.

Let me say first that membership in the church is not automatic. Recently, I asked one of our visiting families if they were members of a church and I was told, “Yes, we are members here.” Well, this was quite a surprise because I do keep up with the membership list of Berean. Membership is more involved than attending church services. There are three major requirements for membership in the church. What do you need to become a member of Berean?

1. Salvation – This is number one on the list. The first prerequisite is personal faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. As Baptists, we believe the Bible teaches a regenerate church membership, which means every person must be a born again Christian.

2. Baptism – Every person must be a baptized believer. If you are a believer and you have not been baptized, you must submit to the baptism of this church. All those baptized under the authority of our church are immediately received into membership by virtue of their baptism. Baptism is the first step of obedience for a Christian and should be done as soon as practical after a person has received Christ as Saviour. This is your public identification with Christ. If you have been baptized previously in another church and desire membership, we will accept your previous baptism if it was administered by a church of like faith and order to Berean.

3. Commitment – Church membership is a commitment to work and worship with this body of believers. We should not have to emphasize this point because salvation is the receiving of Christ as Saviour AND Lord. This means in salvation there is an element of voluntary surrender to the mastery of Jesus Christ. Church membership is a commitment to the doctrines taught by the church. It is commitment to support the church with tithes and offerings. It is commitment to pray for other members and the leadership and to interact with them and help them as a part of the same spiritual family.

There is much more to be said on this subject, but if you desire to be a part of the Berean Baptist Church this is a beginner’s guide to help you to take the necessary steps. Church membership is very important and should not be taken lightly. According to scripture, Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Every born again believer ought to love it too! Membership in a good Bible believing church is not optional for Christians. It is the command of Christ and is to be obeyed.

We sincerely appreciate your attendance today and we hope Berean Baptist will become your church home. If you desire membership, you may express your desire to the Pastor or any of the helpers in the back of the auditorium after the morning service. We strive to help you accomplish the goal for which we were all created—to glorify our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:21)

Pastor V. Mark Smith

Words that Are Sweeter than Honey

May 9th, 2013

And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. [10] And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. (Revelation 10:9-10)

I firmly believe there is no greater calling than the one God gives to ministers of His word. It is always a joy and privilege to stand in the pulpit and open the precious word of God to preach the great salvation we have in Jesus Christ. Preachers have an awesome responsibility when handling the word of life because the eternal destiny of the soul depends on the truths that are preached and believed. It scares me to think there are pastors that spend little time studying the word and yet they approach the pulpit with confidence that their personal wisdom is sufficient to feed the flock of God. Some years ago I was in the office of a pastor in a nearby town and as we were discussing the church he suddenly remembered he did not have a sermon for Sunday morning. He opened his desk drawer and pulled out a few pages of notes and said, “This one looks like it will do.” Without any thought, prayer, or preparation, he was ready to stand before his congregation and deliver a sermon. When I think how often this scenario goes on in many churches, I am reminded of John’s experience when the angel told him to take the little book and eat it. John said, “And it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.”

Revelation is rich with symbolism and none is more important than the one we read in this text. The book John was told to eat was the seven sealed scroll which is emblematic of the word of God. When he ate, the scroll was sweet to the taste which symbolizes the wonderful message of salvation contained in its pages. The gospel of Jesus Christ is sweet to the ears of the person plagued by his sins and weighed down by an insufferable burden of guilt. Isaiah wrote, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7). What a joy it is to be a preacher that gives the good news to dying sinners. I would never want to come to the pulpit with no thought over a message that contains as much hope as this!

John tasted the word and it was sweet, but when it reached his stomach he said, “As soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.” This statement tells us the word of God has another side. For those that respond to it in faith, it is sweet. The other side is the effect it has on those that do not believe. For these, the word contains bitter judgment. On one side there is salvation; on the other there is condemnation. On one side there is heaven; on the other side is hell. It is as much the responsibility of the minister to preach the judgment of God as it is to preach the salvation of God. What preacher could approach the pulpit with such an awful message of doom and not be heavily burdened for the seriousness of the warning and the hopelessness of its hearers? Preaching requires much thought and preparation because both sides of the message are too profound to approach lightly.

I feel the sense of this great responsibility so I promise not to come to the pulpit of Berean unprepared and without careful consideration of the duty of ministers. I intend to preach the whole counsel of God’s word. You will receive both sides of the message and I make no apologies for preaching it all. I love to preach the sweetness of salvation but I must also preach the bitterness of condemnation. I only hope and pray you are able to receive the word with joy and know in your heart the salvation found only in Jesus Christ.

Pastor V. Mark Smith

When Will You Believe?

April 25th, 2013

And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: [21] Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. (Revelation 9:20-21)

Once again our congregational reading in Revelation takes us to the awful time of Tribulation that occurs after the rapture of God’s children from the earth. The scenes of physical destruction are frightening, but in my opinion the spiritual problem we see in Revelation 9:20-21 may very well be the scariest of all. These verses are not frightening to me as a believer in Christ, but they should be a huge wakeup call to those that ignore salvation thinking when they are full of sin they will turn from their wickedness and receive the Saviour.

In the previous verses, we have seen hordes of demons unleashed from the abyss. Evil spirits like scorpions inflict torment on people so vicious they wish they could die. They will seek death but not find it (9:5-6). Later another demonic army two hundred million strong will kill one-third of the world’s population (9:16-18). We would think the entire world would be convinced they must turn to Christ for salvation. Surely the mass destruction and utter devastation would cause them to seek God for deliverance. And yet we read in verse 21 “Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”

We wonder, “Why would they not repent?” It should not seem mysteriously strange as something never seen before when people today so callously turn their backs on Christ. This morning there are good preachers in pulpits all across America that lay the word of God before people and ask them to choose between life in heaven with Jesus Christ or eternal destruction in hell with Satan and his demons. Many recognize there is a problem, but rather than believe in Christ they say, “We will wait awhile. When we are finished with our fun and have tired of our vices, we will accept your Christ in time before we die.” This is a foolish thought because it is not in anyone’s power to receive Christ at any time he chooses. The human heart is depraved and incapable of turning to Christ unless the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit regenerates and brings the person to repentance and faith. Neither the worst of times nor the best of times are enough incentive to move a person to turn from his sins, give up self, and surrender all to the Saviour.

There are many that believe a preacher’s pleadings will save people. Some think salvation is an intellectual choice made by good sense and by the free will of man. They do not understand every faculty of man is depraved even, and perhaps most of all, his will. The will is enslaved to sin and cannot break free. We would as soon expect that pigs can fly as to believe a person is capable of turning his own heart to God. Revelation 9:20-21 shows that people with the strongest incentive to believe will never do so unless God speaks to their hearts and removes the natural hardness that keeps them from the truth of the gospel.

The most important lesson that you can learn from the end of this chapter is that to be saved you must humble yourself and plead for God’s mercy. God is in charge of your salvation not you! An arrogant attitude that says, “I will come when I am good and ready,” will never be acceptable to God. Trust Him today while the door of salvation is open. Tomorrow, He may choose close it.

Pastor V. Mark Smith

Satan, Stars, and the Saviour

April 18th, 2013

And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. (Revelation 9:1)

Each week as we read through the Revelation, we are faced again and again with fascinating, intriguing scenes. Our reading today is in the ninth chapter as John sees more of the terrible woes that will come to earth during the Tribulation period. This is an era when God Himself will not only afflict the earth, but He will allow Satan to have more latitude to work his evil in the hearts of men. Although Satan is called the prince and the power of the air, and he is called the god of this world, he only has as much power as God allows him. During the Tribulation, God will take away some of the restraints that are placed on him now so that he will have much more freedom to do his worst. In 2 Thessalonians 2:7, we are told the Holy Spirit’s restraining power that hinders Satan’s freedom will be removed.

In the ninth chapter, John sees a star fall from heaven to the earth. Many commentators note the tense of the verb should render this as fallen which means the star had already fallen. We are in agreement that the star that fell is Satan. The personal pronoun “him” is used which indicates the word “star” is used in a symbolic way. An account of Satan’s fall from heaven is recorded in Isaiah 14:12-15. Jesus also said in Luke 10:18, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”

Satan was created as one of the holy angels and most likely was of the highest order and chief among angels. When he fell he was not the only angel that rebelled against God. Revelation 12:4 is an indication that one-third of the angels joined him in his rebellion. Some of those angels, now known as demons, are active in the world today and are Satan’s helpers to bring temptation into our lives. However, not all of the demons remained free to assist Satan. Some were chained in the abyss and remain there today. During the Tribulation, Satan will be given the key to the abyss to allow the chained demons to go free and to torture people on earth. The Tribulation will be a time of both terrible mental and spiritual anguish. Demon possession will once again be prevalent because of the darkness of a world with little godly influence.

There are, however, some that will be saved during the Tribulation. In the seventh chapter, we learned that God will choose 144,000 from Israel that will become His witnesses. These are sealed and are under God’s protection (7:3, 9:4). They cannot be hurt by the demons that come from the abyss. I have often been asked if it is possible for Christians to become demon possessed. I am tempted to say, “YES!” because I know some church members that surely act as if they are. I am being facetious though because every Christian has the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit never leaves us, so in order for Satan to possess a Christian he would have to drive the Holy Spirit out. This is impossible. Every Christian is forever protected from the powers of Satan. This is one of the marvelous benefits of our salvation. We belong to God and are safely held in both Jesus’ and the Father’s hand (John 10:28-29).

As you read this article today, are you confident of God’s protection? Do you know Christ as your Saviour? If not, you are wide open and completely vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. You may not understand this very well, but without Christ you are a subject of Satan’s kingdom. You are in rebellion against God even as the evil star that fell from heaven. One day God will end the rebellion of Satan’s kingdom. If you are still part of that kingdom, the devil’s punishment will be your punishment. Thank God He sent the bright and morning star to change your destiny! His name is Jesus (22:16) and He promised to deliver you from the kingdom of Satan if you will only trust Him as Lord and Saviour. Please do not delay—do not spend another day in the kingdom of darkness. Today is the day you can be saved!

Pastor V. Mark Smith

“Be Still and Know that I Am God”

April 6th, 2013

And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. (Revelation 8:1)

This past summer, my wife and I had the privilege of an extended visit with our grandchildren. For more than two months, our house was filled with five grandchildren ranging from fifteen months to five years old. We got up with them, spent most of the day with them, fed them, bathed them, and then slept with them. For sixteen hours of the day, there was nonstop noise as they played, fought, and nearly killed each other. The only time there was a little peace was when they were sleeping, but I am sure they were dreaming how they could make the next day as chaotic as possible. We love our grandchildren and had a great time with them, but there were times we wished we could have just a few moments of peace and quiet.

I thought about this as I read the first verse of Revelation chapter 8. If you are planning to go to heaven for a little peace and quiet, I promise your dreams are only half true. It is not normal for heaven to be a quiet place. In the fourth chapter, we are told of angels and elders that fall before God’s throne and give Him praise. In the fifth chapter, there are ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands that sing praises. In chapter six, there are souls of martyred saints under the altar in heaven that cry out with loud voices for vengeance. In chapter seven there are millions of Gentiles that stand before the throne also crying out and worshipping God. Heaven will not be a quiet place!

This makes the scene in heaven in the opening of chapter 8 very strange. For half an hour, heaven goes stone cold silent. In his Revelation study, my father commented on this verse saying: “John sees the breaking of the last seal of the book and a strange thing happens. Prior to this all heaven resounded with the singing and praising of the Lord. Suddenly there is a deathly silence in heaven for half an hour. Volumes are written trying to explain the meaning of this silence, all kinds of speculations are made, some of them plausible, some of them foolish. Perhaps the best illustration and explanation comes from nature itself. In Kansas I have seen storm clouds gather and soon lightning began to flash and thunder peal, wind gusting and howling then suddenly an eerie calm. The chickens would all run for cover and the farm animals mill restlessly. Then suddenly the storm would break forth in all its fury with all the heavens seeming to explode in blinding flashes, deafening roars of thunder and mighty torrents of water plunging from the clouds as the storm poured out its wrath. This, I believe is the significance of the silence in heaven; God is setting the stage to hurl His wrath and indignation upon the earth, as the world has never seen before.”

What a frightening thought this is! The ominous silence of heaven is the cautious, reserved calm before the storm. Heaven becomes deafeningly silent as it awaits the wrath of God. The justice of the Creator will be poured out on unrepentant sinners that have rejected the mercy, love, and grace of God. Although we love peace and quiet, something tells me this quiet half hour will seem almost like eternity itself. I am thankful that I will be waiting out the half hour in heaven rather than on the earth. Do you know where you will be when this happens? I encourage you to be silent for a few minutes and listen to see if God is calling. Be still and know that He is God!

Pastor V. Mark Smith