Where Are We In The Timeline of God’s Plan?
And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.
Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter. And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode. And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country. And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
But the word of God grew and multiplied. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark. (Act 11:27-30, 12:1-25)
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Rom 8:2-4,19)
In Romans chapter 8 Paul gives two separate goals as the reason for God sending his only begotten Son. First, that the innocence[righteousness] that the Law could not obtain, would be matured in us. The second is the revealing of the sons of God. The first spiritual and the second natural, with both, openly displayed to the world and its inhabitants.
The purpose of our study tonight is to help us understand where we as a Church and as individuals are in the convergence of these two points. The outcome expected from that gained understanding is faith, peace, and hope.
Name the two reasons, given by Paul, that Jesus Christ was sent.
Should we be able to understand where we are at in God’s plan, how would an increase in faith affect your personal life?
If faith arises in your heart, how would it affect your spiritual life?
Inner peace will cause me to ____________________________________________________________.
Does having no hope verses having hope make a difference in a person? Yes or No
If no, it does not matter. If you answered yes, please take a moment to describe what hope means to you.
Do you feel that tonight’s Bible study may be worth your time?
As a starting point, open your Bible to the last book, Revelation. The Church is around 60 years old. Jewish rebellion has been squashed and the Temple, where the lame man rejoiced with exuberant dance, is destroyed. There is a lull in violence against the Church, however legal, social, and economic persecution continues. Unbeknownst to the Church, the worst of the persecution will start within the next 25-30 years, last close to 13 years and then continue off and on for 2 more centuries.
John, the youngest and sole surviving Apostle, is exiled to a prison island, instead of suffering martyrdom. He is now the overseer of the 7 churches in Asia. His crime, he tells us, is proclaiming the Gospel found in the New Testament and preaching the resurrected Christ. (1:9)
Now incredibly old and suffering the degradation and discomfort of a Roman prison island, John is not in wallowing in despair or suffering self-pity. He is where only a disciplined child of God can learn to be, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day!” (1:10)
John sees an angel in a vision (22:16) and receives these instructions:
- The things you have witnessed
- The things that are current
- The things coming
In order to complete his divinely appointed task, it is of the most importance that John understands clearly, exactly where he is at in the timeline of Gods plan. The future is God’s and God’s alone. He will have to unveil that. The past is ours to examine, the present is ours to consider, the future is ours to hope for, but we must discern the point where these three converge. That is where we are now. Miss it, and all our efforts are futile.
Moving forward a little through Revelation, go to the most discussed event, the letters to the seven churches. Reread these letters this week and confirm in your minds a few of the common threads you will find in most if not all these letters.
- Hold fast or remember the past
- Pointed declaration of where the church is right now
- A revelation of prophecy declaring the future
Examine the past, understand the present, make right choices and move into a God promised future!
But wait! There is much, much, more. Please do not overlook this important fact. Yes, God governs from a high and lofty place. Yes, He holds all things in the palm of his hand. However, please look closely. Examine the letter carefully with me. Chapter 3 and verse 4-6.
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that over-cometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev 3:4-6)
He knows my name! He knows where I have been. He knows what I have gone through. He knows where I am right now. And even more, He wants to walk beside me into the wonder of tomorrow.
We must know where the Church is now, in order to respond correctly. But of even more importance is where I am right now.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. (2 Co 13:5)