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What Do We Really Know about Angels?

Angels have a lot to do, especially for those who have eyes to see. I believe that most of their work goes on behind the scenes where they are usually not noticed. Let me give you a short Biblical primer on the nature and work of angels.

How Do We Worship Jesus with Our Whole Lives?

I was just reading Romans 12:1-2, where Paul says that total devotion to Jesus Christ is our spiritual worship. I sensed that Paul was talking about a level of worship that I have never experienced. I'd like to move deeper in my worship.

What Are the Seven Seals of Revelation?

Dear Roger,With so much fear and uncertainty these days, I’ve decided to study the book of Revelation. I’d like to get a feel for what’s going on in the world right now, and I think this is a good place to start. Could you please explain the opening of the seven seals in Revelation chapters five and six? It is somewhat difficult to understand. Thank you.Sincerely, KaitlinDear Kaitlin,Revelation is not designed to be confusing or hard to understand, even though it certainly feels that way at first.The apostle John in describing a vision that God gave him during his exile on the isle of Patmos. The images are clearly described, but their meanings require an understanding of cultural context, history, and other biblical teachings. So, let’s start with a quick summary.Chapter 1 is a vision of the resurrected Christ. Chapters 2-3 are letters to seven churches that need encouragement and rebuke. Chapter 4 looks right into the throne room of God.Chapter 5 is the “hinge” of the book.The book of Revelation is also organized around three groups of seven:Seven Seals = Man's destruction of mankindSeven Trumpets = Satan's destruction of mankindSeven Bowls = God's destruction of mankindThe Seven Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls encompass all seven years of the “tribulation,” or the time of suffering that will precede the Second Coming of Christ. When the last bowl is poured on the earth, Christ will return.I think that the best way to answer your specific question about the Seven Seals is simply to exegete the passage. This means explaining it verse-by-verse.Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. (Revelation 5:1)The “Scroll” is the Title Deed to earth and its people! Adam and Eve lost the earth to sin and to Satan. It is Satan’s earth right now. The book of Revelation is the story of how God takes back the earth and its people.And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll . . . I wept because no one was found worthy to open the scroll.Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne.(Revelation 5:2-6)Christ is revealed as the only one who is qualified to redeem the earth by opening the scroll! He is the Lion who has the power. The Lamb is the rightful heir. Jesus purchased the world and its inhabitants with His shed blood on the cross.Next, the first four seals are often referred to as “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” The “Apocalypse” describes utter destruction and desolation.Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Ilya Burdun

Is it True for Christians That 'Once Saved, Always Saved'?

Dear Roger,I have a question: If our salvation is eternally secure, why does the Bible warn so strongly against apostasy?Sincerely,WeldonDear Weldon,Let’s begin by defining the word, “apostasy.” In the original Greek, the word is apostasia, meaning “defection,” “departure,’ or “rebellion.” Christian theology refers to “apostasy” as the rejection of the Christian faith by an individual who at one time professed it.Your question brings up a very difficult theological question—one that students of Scripture have long debated.Some say that the Bible strongly warns against apostasy because falling away from Jesus (whether overtly rejecting Him or simply choosing not to believe any longer) means that you lose your salvation.On the other hand, others say that it’s possible to fall away and still remain saved, with the reality of eternity in heaven with Jesus remaining unchanged. This interpretation is often called, “Once Saved, Always Saved.”I hold to the “once saved, always saved” doctrine. Let me explain why.Apostasy comes with serious spiritual consequences.But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.(1 Timothy 4:1)Who wants to slide into a relationship with deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons? Can you imagine that would be the opposite of a commitment to following Jesus? This refers to a choice between those two relationships.Timothy continues, “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another”(1 Timothy 4:2).Both of these passages describe events that will occur in the latter days. Apostasy will be rampant when the antichrist takes the stage.But while many are falling away, true Christians—those who have committed their lives to Him fully—will stick to Jesus at any price.
Photo credit: ©Unsplash/Priscilla-du-preez

Why Are the Egyptian Plagues and Tribulation Plagues Similar?

Dear Roger,My Bible study group is working through the book of Revelation. I keep noticing that many of the plagues God sends during the Tribulation sound like the plagues He unleashed on Egypt during Pharaoh’s time. What does that mean? Were the Egyptian plagues some kind of prophecy?Thank you, EdDear Ed,The ten plagues of Exodus and the Tribulation are eerily alike. Let’s take a moment to consider the parallels.Both sets of plagues are sent by God as judgments on earth. They show us several important truths about God’s nature.First, God uses suffering and judgment to bring men back to Himself. A father punishing his child may say, “Son, this hurts me more than it does you.” Executing judgment on mankind grieves God’s heart. But God is holy, righteous, and just. Therefore, wickedness cannot go unpunished.Next, God is all-powerful. We can’t view God as a doddering old grandpa who chuckles at the antics of his grandson. God spoke the world into being with a word. He can speak a word and decimate it into oblivion.Third, God is not capricious. He doesn’t fly off the handle like an abusive father. He is patient. He warned godless people specifically and often. Moses warned Pharoah about every plague.John the Apostle gave us an ongoing description of God’s end-time plan. God’s people have been able to read John’s tribulation warnings for over 2000 years. As a loving Father, He warns us to be prepared for what’s to come.Let’s compare each of the plagues from Exodus and Revelation.Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/KONSTANTIN AKIMOV

What Is Stopping Your Spiritual Growth?

Dear Reader,I receive many emails asking questions about how to live a victorious Christian life. While many experiences, choices, and actions come together for our maturity, others can be a great hindrance.Years ago, I heard a teaching by Ian Thomas of “Torchbearers International” in which he identified one of the greatest hindrances to a successful Christian life. He declared that “We must eradicate anything that means more to us than Jesus does.”That single statement shaped my spiritual life from that moment forward. Let’s work through what it means via Scripture and in our lives. I promise that if you take it as a challenge—to remove anything from your life that means more than Jesus does—your relationship with Him will be transformed!Love, RogerPhoto Credit: ©GettyImages/Sarayut

When Is it Time to Leave a Church?

Take a step back and try to see your church from an overall perspective. Would you consider your church to be functional or dysfunctional? Pray and ask God for His leading. Then act!

8 Things You Should Know about Gay Marriage

Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at [email protected] Roger, What do you think about gay marriage? I’d like your take on the issue.Dear The Many Who Have Asked Me About Gay Marriage,First, let me say that my wife Julie and I disagree about some of the things that I intend to share. That’s okay. There are many ways to look at this issue. She thinks one way; I think another way. And we both think we’re right.These are the eight perspectives from which I look at this important, charged topic.Photo Credit:©Getty Images/Geoff Goldswain

Is Divorce Ever Biblical?

My wife and I are helping some dear friends through problems in their marriage. Please help me understand what the Bible says about divorce.

What Was Jesus’s Relationship with Joseph Like?

Dear Roger,My wife and I were discussing Jesus and his earthly father. Joseph did a tremendous job of parenting Jesus during his most formative years. What do you think?Sincerely, BudDear Bud,I agree! We can learn a great deal about parenting from the relationship between Jesus and Joseph. I’ve selected several important things that a father (or mother) can do that will help children become emotionally and spiritually healthy adults.Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/kieferpix

How Should I Respond to My Homosexual Friends and Family?

What would you say to someone who states that they can't “help” their homosexuality? I’m thinking of someone who believes that they were born that way and that they can't help the way they feel. I'm always at a loss for words when this comes up, and I don't know exactly where to point them in Scripture.

10 Questions You Always Wanted to Ask about Heaven

Dear Roger,I am so excited about going to heaven. I am ready for the rapture. I hope it comes right now! But I don’t know enough about heaven. Can you fill in some of the details for me?Sincerely,JulieDear Julie,There are ten common questions I hear all the time from people who are seeking to know more about heaven. I’ve collected them here, along with some biblical answers and practical application. I hope they’re helpful for you!Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/grakozy

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