ECWA Weekly Spiritual Digest: Why Doesn’t God Make it Easy for us to Believe in Him by Speaking from the Clouds or Something? Why Doesn’t He Just Prove Himself to Us?

by Rev. Sunday Bwanhot | God proved Himself by coming down to earth physically in His Son, Jesus Christ. (Isa 9:6) He was crucified as a blasphemer for daring to claim to be God; but God raised Him up to prove that He is God.

The answer to this question is all over the pages of the Bible. God has spoken through creation, prophets, the Bible and through His Son. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Rom. 1:20. Creation is not an accident; it is the work of an intelligent Designer.  “When there is a prophet …I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, in dreams. But …my servant Moses; .. I speak face to face…” Num. 12:6-8. “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” Num. 20:18-19.

And I saw the heavens open, and the Lamb of God descending out of heaven, and he came down and showed himself unto them. 1 Nephi 12:6 (Pinterest)

The Lamb of God descending from heaven.

God proved Himself by coming down to earth physically in His Son, Jesus Christ. (Isa 9:6) He was crucified as a blasphemer for daring to claim to be God; but God raised Him up to prove that He is God. Israelites saw tons of miracles performed by Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, Apostles, etc. but did not believe. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus found in Lk 16:19-21 Abraham concluded that: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” It is easy to believe in Jesus. “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Rom. 10:9

Rev. Sunday BwanhotRev. Sunday Bwanhot is EMS/SIM Missionary. He serves as Team leader of SIM Culture Connexions; Pastors of ECWA Chicago.

We Are Saved by Grace Through Faith in Jesus Christ

by Michael Bradley | Eternal salvation is received direct from the Lord as a free gift and it can only be received by grace through our personal faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross. Salvation is simply just a matter of believing – and then accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior once you are ready to admit that you are truly a sinner in need of a personal Savior to save you from your sins. (image, Pinterest)

These first 16 verses all have to do with our own personal salvation in the Lord. Each one of these are major power verses and they all have to do with the first definition of grace – which is that grace is the unmerited favor and mercy of God towards mankind.
In these verses are complete and full revelation on exactly what our eternal salvation in the Lord is really all about. If you can grasp what the Lord is trying to tell you in these specific verses, you will then be able to walk away with a much better and clearer understanding as to who you really are in your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and exactly how you were saved in the first place.
I will go ahead and run all of these verses together, and then point out key words and phrases in these verses so you can see exactly what God is trying to show you.

  • For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone boast.” (Ephesians 2:8)
  • “… who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” (2 Timothy 1:9)
  • And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.” (Romans 11:6)
  • “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)
  • For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men …” (Titus 2:11)
  • But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” (Acts 15:11)
  • “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7)
  • “… that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:7)
  • “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus …” (Romans 3:23-24)
  • “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)
  • “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace …” (2 Thessalonians 2:16)
  • In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence …” (Ephesians 1:7-8)
  • “For if by the one man’s offense, many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.” (Romans 5:15)
  • “… having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6)
  • But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:20)
  • I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” (Galatians 2:21)

The first thing to pick up from these verses is that our personal salvation in the Lord is not earned by any type of good works that we can do in this life – no matter how many good works we may end up doing, and no matter how good and holy those works may end up being. The quantity and quality of our works for the Lord do not matter to Him.

The very first verse listed above is the absolute number one power verse on exactly how we are to receive eternal salvation from the Lord. This verse specifically tells us, without any other possible spin or interpretation you can possibly put on it, that our individual personal salvation in the Lord can only be received by “grace” through our personal faith in Jesus Christ.

This first verse, and the two that follow right after it, specifically state that our eternal salvation is simply received by grace through faith – not by any type of works. The first verse tells us that our eternal salvation is a direct, free gift from God and “not of works.” The second verse once again says that God has saved us through His grace and not “according to our works.”

The third verse then really hammers this point home when it literally shouts out that we cannot be saved by both grace and works. It says if we are saved by grace, then works has no part in our salvation whatsoever. You cannot have this revelation both ways. If we are saved by grace, which we are, then works has absolute no part in our personal salvation with the Lord. It’s all Him and none of us. The first verse says that being saved by grace through our faith in Jesus all comes direct from God and that it is “not from ourselves.”

As simple as this revelation is to fully grasp and understand, there are still some Christians who are walking around thinking that they still have to try and earn their way into heaven by doing as many good and holy works as they possibly can.

As a result, they spend most of their life in misery and torment as they never know for sure if they will make it into heaven after they die and cross over. These first set of verses are absolute top priority for any newborn who has just been saved or any unbeliever you may be witnessing to.

Bottom line – eternal salvation is received direct from the Lord as a free gift and it can only be received by grace through our personal faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross. Salvation is simply just a matter of believing – and then accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior once you are ready to admit that you are truly a sinner in need of a personal Savior to save you from your sins.

I am going to highlight some of the key phrases in the above verses so you can see how the Lord is really trying to drive home the point that we can only be saved by and through His grace.

  • For by grace you have been saved through faith
  • Who has saved us … according to His own purpose and grace
  • We have access by faith into this grace
  • For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men
  • Through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved
  • By grace you have been saved
  • Having been justified by His grace
  • Being justified freely by His grace
  • Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ
  • Given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace
  • In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

Notice in every single one of these key phrases the word “grace” is specifically being used in reference to our own personal salvation in the Lord.

With the basic definition of the word “grace” being “unmerited favor,” there can be no question that our own personal salvation in the Lord can only be received by God’s grace through our faith in His Son Jesus.

No amount of works, no matter how good and holy we think those works may be, will ever be good enough to get us back in the good graces of our Lord and Savior.

Ritualism, legalism, and works are out the door!

They have no place in our personal salvation with the Lord – and they have absolutely no place when working with an unsaved person in an effort to try and get them saved. God has made accepting His free gift of eternal salvation through His Son Jesus Christ as easy as He possibly could.

Michael & Chris Bradley

Michael & Chris Bradley

Michael Bradley was very intelligent and gifted with an ability to break down topics and easily explain and lead by a step by step as to really help people grow with their walk with the Lord. My brother Chris and I decided to start an online ministry in the summer of 2004 and officially went live in Jan of 2005. It started with us answering peoples questions via email and they became excellent teaching articles and with the feedback and fruit we were receiving, we felt led by the Lord to take these teachings to the world.

Rev. Stephen Panya Baba: My Faith in Jesus Christ

Before we were called into full time ministry, my wife and me were active lay people on the area of missions and evangelism
My Faith in Jesus Christ
I came to know Jesus as my personal savior and Lord when I was six years old. It was during the evening preaching session by the first convert in Gbagyi Land, an itinerant evangelist called Rev Iepwi Idako. I grew in faith and this was helped in a great deal by the Christian upbringing that my parents who were missionaries, gave me. Also, I was scripturally discipled during my primary and secondary school days because there were mission schools (Serving In Mission, or SIM is the founder of EMS and ECWA).
I recommitted my life to Christ when I was in ECWA/SIM secondary school when a very powerful revival broke out during one of our Sunday services. My faith continued to grow and once more I recommitted my life to the Lord when I was about to complete my accountancy studies in London, England. Finally, it reached a point that I felt called to missions/evangelistic work on a full time basis and I answered the call.
Call to Ministry
In 1987, I qualified as a member of the chartered association of accountants in London, England. Having just recommitted my life to Christ felt I would be most impactful in my cultural context as a witness for the Lord.

  Although, I was not thinking of full time ministry then, I had a strong urge to strongly be a witness for the Lord back at home and so eagerly returned home. I informally witnessed to others and, also, in more formal church missions and evangelistic outreaches, the urge for full time evangelistic ministry increased. Yet, I resisted for several reasons, but my chief objection was that I did not feel “holy enough”, and not committed enough and so was not too sure it was really God calling me.

As Nigerians would say, to cut the long story short, at the very peak of my contemplation and serious battle as to whether or not to go full time or not, my own father came to the rescue, when I went to him for advise. He said, “If you are not sure if God is calling go full time because if you are to make a mistake, make it on the side of God and He will know how to correct it”.

That actually settled it and I left to enroll in the seminary.

Before we were called into full time ministry, my wife and me were active lay people on the area of missions and evangelism. When we answered the call, I went to the seminary and did a Masters in Biblical Studies at the ECWA Theological Seminary in Igbaja, Nigeria. Our aim after graduation was to go into Southern Sudan as missionaries, but that option eventually did not work out. So, we were seconded by EMS to go to Abuja (Nigeria’s Federal Capital city) where we planted several churches both within the city center and also in rural areas.

After about twelve years in Abuja we were posted back to Jos. I was the director of EMS until 2016, with over 1,200 missionary couples working cross culturally mainly in Nigeria, but also in other parts of the world.

Rev. Stephen Panya Baba is the former Director of Evangelical Missionary Society.

The Obedience of Christ

by Tony Evans | He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. – Philippians 2:8

In taking on the mind of Christ, we are to follow His example of obedience to the will of the Father. The night before Jesus was to be crucified, He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, “Not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus did not want to face death on the cross. He knew it would be excruciatingly painful and that He would endure the taunts, scorn, and rejection of men. But worst of all, He knew His Father would have to turn His back on Him as He bore the sins of man. He asked the Father that if there were any other way, He would put it into place, but He also asked that ultimately God’s will would be done.

Paul tells us to have the mind of Christ, the mind that sees obedience to God as the thing of highest importance. Out of love, Jesus came to earth to be a servant and to obey the Father’s plan, even to the point of death and separation from God. When He sweat blood in the garden and prayed that the cup of death on the cross would pass from Him, He asked that the Father’s will be done. And He followed through in obedience, trusting that God’s plan was best.

The result of Christ’s obedience was that “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).

About Tony Evans
Dr. Tony Evans is founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative, former chaplain of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, and present chaplain of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. His Christian radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on nearly 1,000 Christian radio outlets across the nation daily.


Rev. Dr. Panya Dabo Baba: A Man Apart

by Dr. Musa A. B. Gaiya | Panya personally founded the Nigeria Evangelical Mission Association (NEMA) that brought together all evangelical mission bodies (image courtesy of SIM/ECWA)

Rev. Dr. Panya Dabo Baba, a resident of the Overseas Ministry Study Center from 1996 to 1997, has been described as the greatest missiologist of the ECWA (formerly Evangelical Church of West Africa founded by the Sudan Interior Mission but now Evangelical Church Winning All). His tenure as director of the Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS) was outstanding and he raised the mission to an international level. The growth of the ECWA in Nigeria and abroad was mostly due to his ingenious mission strategy.

Panya was born in Karu on January 20, 1932 to Baba and Gnubwanyi, both of them Gbayi of Nasarawa State on Nigeria. Panya's parents were Christians, so he grew up in a Christian family. Baba was the chief of the Karu or the Estu Karu. At his birth Panya was named Panyadabo, which means "remember God the owner"–advice to Panya to remember God who made him. Panya did. When Panya sustained an injury that broke his skull as a toddler, his parents thought he would never survive. He survived but still carries a visible scar–a recovery which Panya considers miraculous. Later in his life, God also healed him of a very serious stomach ailment that almost killed him when he was working as a missionary.

Past and Current Involvement in Church Ministry

He began his early education by enrolling in the Karu SIM Primary School where he studied from 1942 to 1945. Panya heard the gospel from SIM missionary Mrs. H. W. Caster but did not understand it initially. In 1945, though, Panya clearly heard the gospel and received Christ as his personal Savior through Malam Sabuda, a student at the Karu Bible School who hailed from Kaltungo, in northeastern Nigeria. As Panya testified, "Kneeling to God in my small room, I told Him I was sorry for my sins and asked for His forgiveness. I told God I wanted to be one of His children. The moment I finished that prayer, I felt different…that was the day and time Jesus came into my life." Panya was baptized in 1946.

Having heard the call of God to go into full time Christian service, Panya studied at the Karu Vernacular Bible Training School from 1946 to 1947. In 1949 he accepted the challenge to become a missionary among his people, the Gbagyi, in Sarkin Pawa (Niger Province) in northern Nigeria to teach them the Bible. His desire to do mission work continued to grow. He returned to Karu in 1951 and was admitted to Karu Bible Training School for additional training in 1952. In 1954 he was called by the ECWA church in Karu to be a pastor starting in 1957 and was licensed and ordained in 1960. In 1961 Panya went to Kagoro Bible College where he earned a certificate in Bible. He returned to Karu in 1963 to continue as pastor of the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) church there. But Panya's heart was more in missions. While Panya was pastoring this church he was appointed director of the Evangelical Missionary Society, where he made his most significant contribution to the course of evangelization of Africa.

Panya married Tayado Dokwadayi in February of 1951. Tayado means "Never depart"–perhaps a prayer that she not die. They had six children–three girls and three boys. They adopted an orphan boy named Ishaya at the age of six. Tayado died in childbirth on April 23, 1963.

Afterwards Panya married Ruth Lami Ataku on February 22, 1964. She gave birth to seven children, two of whom died. All together Panya had fourteen children including one adopted son. One of his sons, Luka, is now (2006) the Estu Karu or paramount chief of Karu.

Panya's growing interest in missions led him to apply to All Nations Christian College in England where he was accepted and studied from 1969 to 1970. When he returned to Nigeria he was the best person to take charge of the Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS)–at that time the only indigenous mission organization in Nigeria. His training at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, U.S.A. further enriched his understanding of missions and evangelism. He brought his knowledge, experience, leadership abilities, and zeal to EMS. He encouraged young graduates from Bible colleges and seminaries to join the mission, and as a result the number of missionaries increased from 194 in 1970 when he took over to 750 in 1988 when he left office as director.

He also believed in sending missionaries abroad as he felt Nigeria had come to that stage. As a result, EMS missionaries were sent out from two West African countries to five other countries including the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Panya believed in the interdependence between the developed world and the underdeveloped world in mission. He believed the developed West had a lot to give Africa in terms of finances, specialized personnel, and technical assistance, and Africa had a lot to give the West in terms of evangelism and mission. That is why when he stepped down as ECWA president in 1994 and he started the Foreign Mission of EMS.

Panya personally founded the Nigeria Evangelical Mission Association (NEMA) that brought together all evangelical mission bodies. Out of NEMA the Nigeria Evangelical Missionary Institute was created to train young men and women for cross-cultural mission work and the NEMA Searchlight Project designed to research unreached peoples groups. Through the Searchlight Project Panya discovered a number of ethnic groups in Nigeria that had not heard the gospel. These were the Koma, the Boko, the Dakawa, the Kambari, the Undir, the Dirim, and the Bolewa.

Panya was not only a missionary administrator and a strategist; he was also a missionary advocate. Everywhere he went he spoke on missions. At all the international conferences he attended any papers he gave were on the topic of mission. Panya was a member of several international missionary organizations and associations. Ruth Cox, his secretary while he was director of EMS, said of him, "He is always looking for ways to spread the gospel, looking for areas where it has not been preached. He doesn't know the difference between work and pleasure…to him they are the same. He has put missions and the gospel first…this is his life."

When Panya was elected president of the ECWA in 1988 it meant he would have to leave EMS, the place he loved so much. He served as president of ECWA for six years but although he did his work well he did not love it as much as being a missions' administrator. Also, it was very difficult to find someone to fill the vacuum created after Panya left EMS.

As a result of Panya's immense service in the ECWA, especially as EMS director, the governing council and faculty of the ECWA Seminary, Igbaja, awarded him a doctorate of divinity honoraris causa on May 18, 1991. In addition, the West African Theological Seminary gave Panya the Akanu Ibiam Award "for excellence in cross-cultural mission".

Panya Baba retired from active service in the ECWA in 1998. He returned home to Karu and has been preoccupied with writing his thoughts about mission, giving lectures at mission conferences, preaching, offering counseling and helping in any way he can in the local ECWA church in Karu.


Exploring the Lifestyle of a Prophet

James W. Goll | The spirit of this world is out of control and vying for the attention of any half-interested soul (image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers)

A battle is being waged in our day—an end-time battle of passions, an unprecedented competition between the altars of fire. The spirit of this world is out of control and vying for the attention of any half-interested soul. Sometimes it seems we have more "Hollywood" than "holy good" in the church.

But good news is on the horizon. This fierce fight of the ages will escalate as waves of God's irresistible love wash over us, and the constraints of stale religiosity are replaced by passionate, fiery, relatable Christianity. A revolution of intimacy is coming in the church. Is that not what your heart is aching for? Like John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, we too shall learn to lean our heads on our Master's chest and rest in the sound of His heart beating in the rhythm of love (John 21:20).

As we look at the lifestyle of intimacy in the life of a prophet, let me share with you some thoughts and principles drawn from the book of Genesis on the relationship between intimacy and the prophetic.

Genesis 2:7 grants some awesome relational insights: Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being." What a beginning! All humankind took on life by the very breath of God's mouth. Talk about an intimate exchange! Ponder this for a while. In some manner, God blew into the lump of clay that He had fashioned, and Adam's body took on an added dimension. Man became a living being.

That is what the prophetic life and ministry are all about—human beings being filled with the breath of God and then in turn exhaling onto others the breath of life they have received from their Creator. This is what our Messiah did as well. After His resurrection, He appeared to His disciples, who were hiding for fear. He said, "As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you" (John 20:21). Then Jesus breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (verse 22).

At the Last Supper of Jesus with His trainees, John leaned back on the Lord's chest (John 13:25). What do you think he heard? Yes, probably the pulsating heart of the Savior, but he also would have heard something else: the Messiah's very breath as He inhaled and exhaled. Imagine being so close to the Lord that you hear Him breathing!

Some of the writers of the past knew something of this intimacy. Consider the hymn "Breathe on Me, Breath of God" written in 1878 by Edwin Hatch:
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Fill me with life anew, 
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will,
To do and to endure.
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Till I am wholly Thine,
Till all this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
Of Thine eternity.
Yes, man became a living being when the intimate breath of Almighty God blew into Adam's lungs. So it was that he became a transporter of God's presence, a contagious carrier of the infectious Spirit of God.
God's Original Design

God's original intent was for all of us to be carriers of His presence. Today the Lord is looking for vessels He can breathe into once again. He seeks some He can put His mouth on, as it were, and blow His Spirit into them, so that their lungs, their hearts, their souls, their bodies, their temples will be filled with the very breath of the Almighty. He wants us to be carriers of His most brilliant presence. What could be greater?

That was the Lord's original intent. And we know what followed: "Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and they will become one flesh. They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" (Gen. 2:24-25). Here we are given a graphic picture of what things look like when a man or woman is filled with the brilliance of God's presence. When we are filled with His pneuma (the Greek word for breath), we are not self-absorbed and fearful but walking with God and others in transparent love.

Adam and Eve were not ashamed. They were not overcome by guilt, nor were they driven by condemnation. They were not hiding behind whatever leaves they could find. They were naked; they were walking in honesty; they were enjoying intimate communion with God; and they "knew" each other.

That is God's design for marriage, which is the picture of the union He plans for us as the bride of Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:22-32) and our incredible, glorious Husband. This Master of ours wins our hearts with one glance of His eye (Song 4:9). And the amazing thing is, one glance of our own eyes shining back into His undoes His heart as well. What a profound mystery! The revelation of this truth alone would create a revolution of intimacy among God's people. It is awesome, and it is pictured right here in the Garden of Eden, at the beginning of all things.

Adam and Eve were hiding behind nothing. Their hearts were beating with love for one another, and they were not ashamed. There were no barriers to intimacy.

*Excerpted from The Lifestyle of a ProphetDr. James W. Goll is the cofounder of Encounters Network, a ministry to the nations. He has written fifteen extensive Bible study guides and is the author or coauthor of fourteen books, including The Coming Prophetic Revolution and Praying for Israel's Destiny. Goll is a contributing editor to Kairos magazine and speaks and ministers around the world.

Dr. James Goll is the founder of Encounters Network, Prayer Storm and helps carry on the work of Compassion Acts. For information on his online school visit: James continues to live in Tennessee and is a joyful father and grandfather today.


The Book of Revelation was not Meant to be a Mystery

The book of Revelation: The triumph of God and God's people (iStock Photo)

The book of Revelation was not meant to be a mystery, but to be understood. Its name means "what is revealed," not "what was hidden."

However, there are some basic keys to understanding it. These are the same keys to understanding all revelation in the Bible. We will begin our study of this book with the first of these keys—the first statement made in Revelation:

'The Revelation of Jesus Christ'

The book of Revelation is a revelation of Jesus Christ, period. Possibly the biggest reason why there is much confusion about this book is because people try to see it more as a revelation of the Antichrist or of the events prophesied in it. These are important, but only as part of the revelation of Jesus. We must view everything through Him, rather than trying to see Him through everything else.

Just as some get distracted from the River of Life by the tributaries that feed it, many get diverted from the main revelation of this book by majoring on minors. Some of these sub-themes are fascinating, but as our friend Peter Lord likes to say, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." Even as we seek to understand the sequence of events and different manifestations of evil in Revelation, we see them in relation to the ultimate purposes of God in Christ.

This is not just key to understanding this book, but to understanding the Bible, and indeed all understanding. As we are told in Colossians 1:16-17:

"For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they are thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers. All things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."

All things were made through Him and for Him. All things are held together by Him. As we are told in one of the most important verses in the Bible:    

"… making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself, as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Christ, which are in heaven and on earth" (Eph. 1:9-10, MEV).

It is all about Jesus. To fully understand the creation or events of history, we must see from this perspective. All things work toward the ultimate purpose of God—the summing up all things in His Son.

To understand our own lives we must see through this key. Everything in our life was allowed to lead us to the Son and to have our life summed up in Him. All events in Revelation work toward that end. Jesus is the lens we must look through to understand everything.

So why is there so much about the Antichrist and the great evils that come upon the earth in Revelation? As bad as they may seem, they too will lead toward the ultimate purpose of God—the redemption, reconciliation, and restoration found in Jesus alone. The "man of sin" is a personification of the sin of man. In this vision, we see the ultimate result of sin and rebellion, causing us to know that this is not what we want to do again.

To understand our times, we must stay focused on Jesus and what He is doing. We need to understand the evil and the unfolding of events, but even more we must understand the work of God. In the midst of all the evil, the city of God is being built. So we keep our attention more on Him than we do on the Antichrist or all the evils. Even these will work toward a greater revelation of Jesus by revealing the depth of the depravity of fallen men—exposing the depth of our need for the Savior.

Ultimately, the entire history of man on earth will be one of the greatest revelations of God—His grace, mercy, goodness, and power of love over death. This Revelation given to John was the foretelling of how the final stages of God's plan will work out.

Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the senior pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church. He is the author of more than 40 books, including The Final Quest, A Prophetic History, and Church History. He is also the president of The OAK Initiative, an interdenominational movement that is mobilizing thousands of Christians to be engaged in the great issues of our times, being the salt and light that they are called to be.

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