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Stockholm - Newsletter May 2020

A word from the pastor

The latest or the foremost?

Man has always been interested in “knowing the latest”. We have all heard the saying “knowledge is power”. Paul experienced this

already two thousand years ago when he visited Greece: ”All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas” (Acts 17:21 NIV). Do we recognize the same phenomenon today? Of course, we do! The only difference is that today we do not go to the public square or the marketplace to hear the latest. Today, the information exchange is taking place on social media and the internet. Due to the technical advancement in our time, it is no exaggeration to say that the accumulated knowledge we have access to is quite impressive, at least from a human point of view.  

From God’s perspective, though, men’s thoughts are vain (Ps 2:1). He understands our thoughts afar off (Ps 139:2). The Lord is “declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done” (Isaiah 46:10a NKJV). Concerning the last days. Luke tells us that “On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea” (Luke 21:25b NIV). Apparently, the massive information flow and the “latest information” will not be enough to take care of men’s fear, confusion and hopelessness. 
Paul did not focus on the “latest”, but rather on the “foremost”. He writes to the Corinthians: “I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.  He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said” (1 Cor 15:3-4 NLT). The apostle stated this almost two thousand years ago and it is just as relevant today. This timeless truth enables the necessary reconciliation between fallen man and his Creator (2 Cor 5:18-21). 
God has, also in this fallen world, given us countless pictures, through which we can, spiritually speaking, reflect upon His eternal truths. One of those, we find in the various seasons. Even though most people have their favorites, I have personally learned to appreciate all four seasons. The Spring is special, though, since it so clearly illustrates the resurrection.  

In the Autumn, everything dies. In the Bible, we are told to die to ourselves (Luke 9:23; 1 Cor 15:31). During the Winter, everything is buried. Paul was emphasizing the fact that Jesus was buried since it was the proof as well as the documentation of somebody’s death (cf. Matt 27:62-66). When Spring comes around, everything is resurrected, and life is once again being manifested, despite this world’s fallen condition. We see this new birth everywhere, among the plants and animals – a pictures of the fact that the grave could not keep the Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 16:6-7; Rom 8:11). Finally, we have the Summer, the time of harvest, when everything is bearing fruit. John speaks of the development of the believer’s fruit bearing process – fruit, more fruit, much fruit and lasting fruit (John 15:1-8, 16). We even have a promise that we can bear fruit in our old age (Ps 92:15). Fruit is not guaranteed in the believer’s life, but it is expected (cf. Isaiah 5:1-7; Matt 13:3-9, 18-23; Luke 13:6-9). 

What is going on out there in the world? The “latest information” does not seem to make us any wiser, does it? However, the “foremost information”, found in God’s Eternal Word which stands firm in the heavens, does (Ps 119:89). With its unique prophetic preciseness, the Bible is always right. No signs need precede the rapture of the church, consequently it can occur at any moment (cf. 1 Cor 15:51-52, 1 Thess 4:13-18). 

What will take place before the rapture? The answer is that we do not know, since it is a “signless event”. As already mentioned, no prophecy needs to be fulfilled or any special sign needs to be manifested. One thing is for sure though; we are witnessing right now how the god of this world is trying to finish the tower he tried to build, through sinful humanity, some 4200 years ago in Babel. It is a desperate attempt to unite fallen mankind in a rebellion against the Living God (Gen 11:1-9; Ps 2:1-3; 2 Cor 4:4). Our world will not be the same after Covid-19. We will be one step closer to a one world government, a one world economy and a one world religion, just as the Bible has predicted.  However, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8 NKJV). He is in control, also of those who are trying to control this world. 

Therefore, our hope is not in this world, but it is in Him who both created and redeemed it, the Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew proclaims: “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matt 9:38 NKJV). Our task to reach the world has not been accomplished yet. God, who can do more than we can pray or think, has many blessings in store for us at this late hour, if we are ready and willing to hear His voice (Eph 3:20; Heb 3:15). 

Right now, we are observing the Spring, the season reminding us about the resurrection. Ahead of us is the Summer, the time of harvest. Let us not focus on the “latest information” but instead on the “foremost information” – His death, burial and resurrection, and by extension, the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). Therefore, we are determined to go into all the world with the gospel (Matt 28:18-20). In my simplicity, I have chosen to reject much of the “latest news” provided by this world and instead I am trying to assimilate the “foremost information”, found in God’s eternal word (1 Pet 1:25). Why not let nature remind us about God’s age-old truths, for example the resurrection so beautifully illustrated during the Spring season. My wife and I, during our many long walks, are trying to take in as much as we can in His magnificent classroom, nature. When we know the “foremost things”, the “latest things” do not matter so much, do they? 

God bless! 
In Christ, Mikael     

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The text in Isa 64:6 talks about “righteous acts”. They are described, surprisingly, many would think, as “filthy rags”. How can Isaiah claim such a thing and discourage us in our eagerness to do good and change the world for the better? The explanation is simple, but often hard for us self-righteous people to accept. We would like to think that, at least to some extent, we had contributed to our salvation and deliverance. However, when it comes to our eternal salvation there is no room for human boasting (1 Cor 1:29, Eph 2:9)...

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