Weekly Newsletter – May 25, 2020
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
THE MYTHS OF OUR AGE
We are living in an age unlike any in the history of mankind. The last century alone saw more scientific and technological advancement than all the rest of history combined. Today we take for granted things that were but science fiction just a decade ago. Yet despite all this-perhaps because of it-our society as a whole may be more Baffled, Bewildered, & Befuddled than ever before.
When asked what it would take to satisfy them, most people respond with a list of things. Money, luxury items, cars, vacations, entertainment-these are what come to mind first when contemporary man thinks of being satisfied. How far from true satisfaction we have strayed!
This week we want to look at two myths of our age, that of instant gratification and materialism and then deal the myth of prestige next week.
The myth of instant gratification
One fallacy that has worked its way firmly into the fabric of modern reasoning is the belief that we can be most fulfilled when the gratification of our needs and desires is immediate. I call this the myth of instant gratification. We have become conditioned to expect on-the-spot results from everything. There is instant coffee, instant milk, instant potatoes, instant rice, instant printing, and instant photography. If one doesn’t have a digital camera that takes and prints instant snapshots, he can take his film to a place that will develop it and make color prints in less than an hour! Even banks have 24-hour electronic tellers so that we don’t have to wait until the facility opens. And we can even send packages across the country through a number of overnight delivery services.
There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things. In fact, I gladly use such services and am thankful that they are available when I need them. But overnight delivery and 24-hour ATMs are the mild side of our obsession with getting things we want without having to wait. It also has an ugly side.
We cringe and are grieved at the growing phenomenon of drug abuse throughout all levels of society, as people look for a pill or an injection or some kind of stimulant that will instantly make them feel good. Yet, we often fail to see the connection between this kind of behavior and the elusive promise of instant gratification that beckons to us along every avenue of life.
We shake our heads in dismay when we read of a con man who defrauds needy people out of thousands of dollars in some get-rich-quick scheme. But isn’t the greed of both the con man and his victims really just an extension of the mentality that causes people to put themselves into unmanageable debt because they want something now and do not wish to wait for it? Yes, we all must come to the realization that our pursuit of instant gratification is destroying our society like a cancer.
Luke 15 relates the familiar story of the prodigal son, who, like so many today, wanted instant wealth. Anxious to do his own thing and experience life for himself, he refused to wait for that which would be his in due time. He wanted what was coming to him now.
His father gave him his inheritance, and the young man immediately began squandering it in mad pursuit of instant gratification. He traveled abroad and became caught up in the “action” of his day. “Eat, drink, and be merry,” he thought, “for tomorrow we die.” This humanistic philosophy of the ages quickly became his mindset and the motivating force in his life.
Then the bottom fell out of everything. An economic crisis struck the land, and he suddenly found himself far from home. Dejected and bewildered, he was forced to accept the most menial of tasks just to exist, and his heart longed for what he once had and took for granted-the love and security of his father’s home. As he thought on his foolish selfishness and wrongdoing, he made the most important decision of his life: I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants (Luke 15:18, 19).
Modern man is not different from that young man, except that instead of coming to his senses, acknowledging his misdeeds, and turning from them, he continues blindly onward, baffled, bewildered, and befuddled. He never seems to learn that instant gratification is generally also fleeting and seldom truly satisfying.
The myth of materialism
We have become hypnotized by the myth of materialism-the belief that material things are the source of true satisfaction. However, this is an empty and dehumanizing philosophy in which things become more important than people, beauty more desired than virtue, power more respected than character, and status more prestigious than integrity. Consequently, we find ourselves foolishly pursuing the very things that God has said make being close to Him more difficult and sometimes impossible.
Although most of us do enjoy some added pleasures to our lives above and beyond our basic needs, we must ask ourselves one important question-do they control us? As Detroit News staff writer Chuck Bennett stated: “Let’s be honest-we all love material things. At least most of us do, even if we can only dream about having them. And it seems once we begin to get a taste of them, even with one little item, we want more. Yesterday’s luxury becomes today’s frill and tomorrow’s necessity; no matter what level we’re at, we want something better.”
Mr. Bennett has captured the essence of man’s obsession with the material. The main problem is the obvious-we never seem to have enough. When a person becomes a millionaire, he soon finds himself wanting to become a billionaire. On a lesser level, others have their hearts set on obtaining larger houses, finer automobiles, additional income, more power, and more prestige. Instead of rejoicing and being thankful for what God has given them or allowed them to accomplish, they become consumed with a desire for still more and believe that they need it to be happy. The result is bondage.
Have you heard of the Quaker who wanted to teach a great lesson to his friends and neighbors? He had a large sign printed and put up on the vacant lot next to his house. The sign said: “I will give the deed to this lot to anyone who is absolutely contented.” Applicants were directed to apply next door at his home.
There was a man of great wealth living in the community, and as he drove by and saw the sign, he stopped. He thought to himself, “If there is anyone in our area who is absolutely contented it is I. I have everything that I could possibly want.” So he went to the Quaker’s house and knocked on the door.
The Quaker came to the door, and the man said, “I read the sign you placed on the vacant lot next door. I understand you want to give it to anyone who is contented.”
“Yes,” said the Quaker.
“I think I am absolutely contented, ” the man replied. “I will be glad if you will make out the deed to me.”
“Friend, if thou art contented, what dost thou want with my lot?” the Quaker asked.
The Jewish Talmud says that man is born with his hands clenched, but he dies with his hands wide open.
How tragically empty are riches and possessions! Perhaps you have had the experience of wanting something for a long time. Maybe it was a car or a house or something less-but you desired to have it so much that it was all you could think about. You saved for it, planned for it, hoped for it, and dreamed about it. But when you finally got it, after a time you found it to be disappointingly unfulfilling.
On the other hand, some have fallen prey to the notion that self-deprivation is the quickest and easiest path to spirituality. Such reasoning is equally fallacious and can result in a lifetime of despair and bewilderment .
A few years ago during a meeting we were conducting in Atlanta, a young girl came and asked me to make an announcement concerning a local Christian ministry for runaway young people. She wanted me to tell any such persons who might be present that they would be welcome to seek help from her group. Wanting to find out more about this ministry, I asked, “What do you do with the runaways who come to you seeking help?”
“Well,” she said, “we just come together and stay and have fellowship.”
“How do you get food?” I asked. “How do you support your ministry?”
“We just ask God for it,” she replied.
“You mean you don’t work?”
“No,” she answered, amazed that I would ask such a question. “We just live there.”
Further investigation revealed that the “ministry” she wanted me to promote was a communal group who went out to shopping centers and street corners and stopped people to ask for money. Members of the group were not encouraged to seek employment or to return home, nor were they learning anything of value as far as I could tell. In fact, their lifestyle was characterized more by slothfulness than by anything else. I lovingly explained to my youthful inquirer that the Bible teaches …if any would not work, neither should he eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). God has promised to meet our needs but He has also commanded us to be diligent, hard working, and wise in our stewardship.
Those who center their thoughts on the temporal, as well as those who refuse to acknowledge that material possessions should occupy a place in one’s life, cannot be truly satisfied. And neither group is truly wealthy, no matter how much or how little they have.
Scripture is consistent in its teaching that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). However, this passage is often misquoted and misapplied. Please notice that it does not say that money is the root of all evil. Rather, it is the love of money-the placing of material things above the more important things in life-that brings the piercing of oneself through with many sorrows. God can, and often does, reward our faithfulness to Him and His service with material blessings.
Upon his appointment as King of Israel, Solomon asked God for an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad (1 Kings 3:9). Because he sought the Lord and others before himself, God not only granted Solomon’s request but also added, I have also given thee that which thou has not asked, both riches, and honor (v. 13).
Likewise, Job, who suffered great losses, trials, and pain, remained faithful to God, and …the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning (Job 42:12).
Certainly, Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6), and as we have clearly seen, it is not how much one possesses that makes him great in God’s eyes and satisfied in life. To the contrary, it is whether or not he allows his possessions to possess him! Those who are truly wealthy are those who have discovered the spiritual riches and deep satisfaction that comes through a life of surrender to God.
A CLASSIC MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE
Verse 7: Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
This verse announces the Lord’s return to earth. Notice that every eye sees Him. That is why this great event is described as the “revealing” or “revelation” of Christ and occurs when He comes as the KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS (Revelation 19:11-16). Thus, our text is actually a preview of what will happen when He returns with His saints in chapter 19. Isn’t it thrilling to know that when the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west (Matthew 24:27), every eye will witness the spectacle of the ages? Notice also that the Israelites-a special group-will observe this momentous event, for they shall look upon [Him] whom they have pierced (Zechariah 12:10).
Furthermore, when He comes in power and great glory to smite the nations, all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. This is because He comes for judgment and none will escape. As John envisions the hour when the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints (Jude 14), he victoriously cries, “Amen! Amen!” The Greek for even so is “Amen,” and “Amen” is the Hebrew for even so. John is literally shouting the praise or praises of God in two languages as he says, “Amen and Amen, He is coming!”
Verse 8: I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
This text speaks of the eternal Christ. Alpha and Omega are the beginning and ending letters of the Greek alphabet. Christ is saying, “I am the beginning and ending of all things.” He uses the title “I am,” which is a verb indicating being, but not becoming. He always was. He was before all things and created all things. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:3). For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist (Colossians 1:16,17). He also controls all things by upholding all things by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3), and He will consummate all things as well (see Ephesians 1:10). Yes, Jesus Christ is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending.
The terminology, I am… the Lord which is, and which was, and which is to come, expresses Christ’s oneness with the Father (see verse 4). In fact, He adds the term, the Almighty, a name used for the Father in connection with His person. This term is used forty-eight times in the Old Testament. This verse clearly refutes the doctrine of anti-trinitarianism, which is anti-God, anti-Christ, and anti-Holy Spirit.
Verse 9: I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
John realizes that he is an old man and highly revered, yet he wants no praise from men for his sufferings. He immediately identifies himself as a brother in Christ and a companion in heartache and suffering. He tells of the tribulation he endured during his incarceration at Patmos, but he rejoices that the other blood-bought sons of God will miss the Tribulation. How true!
The Saviour stated: In the world ye shall have tribulation (John 16:33). However, this does not include the Tribulation hour out of which the saints are kept (see Revelation 3:10). John’s persecution came because of his devotion to Christ. This is always true when one takes a stand for the Saviour. Jesus said in John 15:18-20, If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
Verse 10: I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
Beginning with this verse, we enter into the revelation experience with John and observe firsthand all that is presented to him through the remainder of the book.
Joseph A. Seiss says that John was carried forward through the centuries until he saw a vision of the great and terrible day of the Lord-the Tribulation hour. A majority of scholars, however, believe that the phrase, on the Lord’s day, refers to the first day of the week. Thus, on Resurrection day-Sunday, the first day of the week-John is visited by the One who had so loved him while on earth-Jesus himself. As He appears, John hears the trumpet-like voice of Christ…
Verse 11: Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
Alpha and Omega are the titles we discussed in verse 8. Verse 11 pictures the eternal Christ giving instructions to His beloved servant concerning the seven churches mentioned in verse 4 and to be discussed in chapters 2 and 3. Then, John adds…
Verse 12: And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks.
When the trumpet-like voice of Christ sounded in verse 11, John turned to see the voice that spoke to him. This is different! One does not normally “see” a voice. Yet John turned to see the voice. As he looks in that direction, he sees seven golden candlesticks or lampstands. Verse 20 clearly explains the meaning of verse 12 as follows: The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks [means this:] The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
The fact that the seven churches are pictured as seven lampstands is significant because believers are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Sad, as we shall see, is the fact that the history of the seven churches often diminished that light. Oh, pray that it shall not be so in your life. Jesus said, Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
Now that we have observed verse 12 in light of verse 20, let’s take a closer look at the glorious Saviour who appears in the midst of the lampstands or churches.
Verse 13: And [I saw] in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
The Lord is clothed with the garments of the Old Testament high priest because He is risen and in heaven, performing His ministry of intercession. For this reason, he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25). Thus, sixty years after Christ’s death and resurrection, John sees Him as the High Priest in the heavenlies. Paul also testified to this blessed fact by stating: Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession (Hebrews 4:14). Next our precious Lord is described in detail.
Verse 14: His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
John’s description speaks of antiquity and coincides with the vision Daniel had in chapter 7, verses 9 through 13. This Ancient of days, the eternal One, Jesus Christ, is also pictured in terms of whiteness because of His righteousness, for He is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens (Hebrews 7:26). The Greek also emphasizes the fact that His eyes “shot out fire.” Christ is righteously angry concerning the sin of the churches depicted in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3.
Verse 15: And his feet [were] like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice [was] as the sound of many waters.
Christ’s feet picture judgment and relate to the events that take place when He returns to the earth in chapters 19 and 20. His voice as the sound of many waters also depicts judgment.
Verse 16: And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
The seven stars of this verse are the angels or messengers of the seven churches (see verse 20), while the two-edged sword is the Word of God as described in Hebrews 4:12: The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Then the expression, his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength, takes our minds back to the transfiguration scene in Matthew 17:2 and thus pictures the glory of Christ, who is to be the Judge during the Great Tribulation hour, Armageddon, and the Great White Throne assembly of Revelation 20:11-15. Because of it, John is stunned, astonished, and humbled at the experience and cries…
Verse 17: And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
Verse 18: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
The sight of Christ glorified was breathtaking, and the one who laid his head upon Jesus at the Last Supper now falls prostrate at His feet. As John falls before his blessed Lord in fear, Jesus lovingly says, Fear not. He is saying the same to us today. In the midst of wars, rumors of wars, heartaches, and death, the blessed Lord says, Let not your heart be troubled (John 14:1). This message to John is from the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega, the eternal One, Jesus Christ. The One that liveth (resurrection), and was dead (crucifixion) and who cries, behold, I am alive for evermore (ascension), Amen. He also has the keys of hell and of death. Because of this tremendous fact, Christians are not to fear, for through death … [Christ destroyed] him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Hebrews 2:14, 15). Not only have we been delivered from the fear of death but from the fear of Hades as well.
Let me explain: Hades was the place where the souls and the spirits of all humans went until the cross. Sheol (Old Testament) and Hades (New Testament) were one and the same. In Sheol and Hades were two compartments, one for the wicked and the other for the righteous. In Luke 16:22, 23, the rich man and Lazarus went to their respective places- one to suffering and the other to comfort. The thief on the cross went to the comfort side, or paradise, as promised by Christ when He said, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43). This is where Christ went upon His death (Acts 2:27, 31). There He ministered to His people and led captivity captive (Ephesians 4:8-10), literally releasing them for their entrance into the third heaven of 2 Corinthians 12:2.
Presently the comfort side of Hades has been emptied by Him who has the keys of death and Hades (hell), but the torment side is still full. This will be emptied for the Judgment Day when….death and [Hades deliver] up the dead which [are] in them: and they [are] judged… (Revelation 20:13).
Verse 19: Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
This verse gives us the order of the Book of Revelation, which is written chronologically, or as the events happen. One immediately recognizes the three tenses past, present, and future. Write the things which thou hast seen-past, chapter 1; the things which are-present, chapters 2 and 3; and the things which shall be hereafter-future, chapters 4 through 22.
Verse 20: [God explains to John:] The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
Since we have discussed the closing verse of this chapter in connection with verse 12, let us move on to the study of the seven candlesticks, or the history of the seven churches, which we will cover in our next newsletter.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Hello Dr. Rexella,
I felt I needed to send you guys a thank you! Years ago, my husband was led to the Lord after listening to one of Jack’s sermons. He went into his sister’s room and “took” a tape thinking there would be some good music on it, and there was a sermon by Jack! I love your boldness. You guys are the only folks I know of that give names and specific information. Please continue your work in the Lord Jesus Christ, and we will continue to pray for your safety and good health. Thanks to your program, I have a keen interest in Revelation and end times books as well. I feel that I can’t get enough information and the credit for that longing; I give to your program. May God richly bless you both, and when we are raptured home, I’m certain you will both have many, many crowns to lay at the feet of our Lord!
Love and prayers,
I wish I had made arrangements to receive your Newsletter sooner than I did! It is different than any of the others, which I usually ‘delete’ now that I am receiving yours. It is uplifting, inspirational, and gives help and hope, which all of us need to live on! I simply love receiving it, and I look forward to Mondays because that’s when I watch you on TV.
Blessings always to you both.
HIGHLIGHTED MINISTRY OFFERS
Eternity: Who? Where? When? Why?
Do you know where you will be eternally?
It’s the most important question you will ever answer!
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