“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) “Beam Me Up, Scotty” (Tom Edwards)
2) Facing the Giants (video sermon, Tom Edwards)
3) News & Notes
“Beam Me Up, Scotty”
The actual above phrase, “Beam me up, Scotty,” was never used in any of the Star Trek episodes that aired from September 8, 1966 to June 3, 1969, nor was it said in any of the Star Trek movies.
But the show and movies did have a fictional transporter that would convert matter to an energy pattern that could then be sent to a specific location where it would then be converted back into matter. And all of that was portrayed as happening rather quickly. For the energy pattern was “beamed” to its destination.
That, of course, is all science fiction; but have you ever wondered how angels have “traveled” to earth? What is the distance from earth to the heaven in which God and angels dwell? Can it be measured? Is it even a part of our physical universe?
I would think that the heaven where God dwells is separate and apart from our physical universe — like some type of parallel universe that is undetectable from our own; is independent of; does not clash with; is far superior to; and will blissfully, perfectly, and eternally remain even after our physical universe ceases to be (cf. 2 Pet. 3:10-12).
Yet, God is still totally aware of all that goes on in our physical universe — and not only of our words and actions, but also of our innermost thoughts and intentions (cf. 1 Chron. 28:9; Psa. 44:21; Rom. 2:16). For He is omniscient and omnipresent, as the psalmist shows:
“O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
“Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,’
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You” (Psalm 139:1-12, NASB).
And in Jesus we also see God being a part of our physical universe. For “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” — and that Word was God’s Son Jesus the Christ (John 1:14,1-3), who is now very much alive and well at the right hand of God where He has been exalted with all power and authority in heaven and on earth (Acts 2:33; Matt. 28:18), ruling over all (Col. 2:9-10; Eph. 1:20-21), and interceding for those who draw near to God through Him (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25) as our Advocate (1 John 2:1).
Jesus, of course, was born of the virgin Mary (Isa. 7:14). But what about heavenly angels that God had sent to earth on various occasions? Would their “journey” have been faster than the speed of light? Instantaneous?
To answer that would be speculation. But notice some unusual things the Bible shows of how some people were apparently “transported.”
In Acts 8, after Philip had met the Ethiopian eunuch, preached to him about Jesus and then baptized him, verse 39 says, “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord SNATCHED Philip AWAY; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing” (NASB, emphasis mine).
Both “snatched” and “away” are from the same Greek word (harpazo), which Thayer defines thirdly as “to snatch out or away.” It is also the same Greek word that is used in 2 Corinthians 12:2 where Paul speaks of having been “CAUGHT UP to the third heaven” and “CAUGHT UP into Paradise” (v 4, NASB, emphasis mine). And it is also the same Greek word when Paul comforted and assured the Thessalonians of their loved ones who had died in the Lord, by saying, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be CAUGHT UP together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17, NASB, emphasis mine).
Would we think of our being “caught up” to meet the Lord to be something that would take several seconds or more? Or would it be instantaneous? For much miraculous change will occur at that time with not only those who are Christians and still living, but also with those saints who are deceased.
For as Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52: “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, IN A MOMENT, IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and WE WILL BE CHANGED” (NASB, emphasis mine).
Do you know what the Greek word for the phrase “in a moment” is? It is atomos. Thayer defines it as “1. that cannot be cut in two, or divided, indivisible. a. of a moment of time.”
I wonder if even the first part of that definition might literally apply to 1 Corinthians 15:52. For if “in a moment” meant 4 seconds, then that could be divided. But what about a “time” that cannot be divided? A time that is indivisible. Would it not be something that is literally instantaneous!
Mounce’s Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament defines it as ‘indivisible, and by impl[ication] exceedingly minute; . . . in an indivisible point of time, in an instant or moment, 1 Co 15:52.”
James Strong shows it to mean “uncut, that is (by implication) indivisible (an atom of time).”
The primary definition that Webster gives for “moment” is “an indefinitely short period of time; instant.” And one of his definitions for “instant” is “succeeding without any interval of time; immediate.”
For another example, the Sea of Galilee is said to be about 13 miles (21 km) long and 8 miles (13 km) wide, and with a circumference of about 33 miles (53 km).
In the following account of Jesus walking on that sea, John 6:19 says, “Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were frightened” (NASB).
We also learn of how the weather conditions were for them at that time. The boat was being “battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary” (Matt. 14:24, NASB). And it was not just a wind that was against them, but it was also a “strong wind” (John 6:18, NASB).
Concerning this sea, H. Leo Boles writes: “The storms on the Sea of Galilee often were sudden and frightful . . . They had rowed far enough to be just in the center of the sea, where the current of the Jordan caused the greatest commotion in a storm. The sea, where they were crossing, was about six miles wide” (New Testament Restoration Commentary on Matthew 14:22-23).
But consider now what the apostle John brings out about that event. He writes: “The sea began to be stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened. But He said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and IMMEDIATELY the boat was at the land to which they were going (John 6:18-21, NASB, emphasis mine).
Commenting on John 6:21, Marvin R. Vincent speaks of the boat being “immediately” at the shore, to which they had been heading, as being a “miraculous arrival” and “simultaneous” with “their entertaining the wish to receive Him, or with His actually coming on board” (Word Studies in the New Testament).
The word “immediately” is often used in connection with miracles Jesus performed (cf. Matt. 8:3; Matt. 20:34; Mark 5:29; Mark 5:42; Mark 10:52). And does that not also manifest even more the miraculous nature of them — rather than gradually happening or healing over a period of a few days or weeks!
In getting back to Philip, we left off with him having been “snatched…away” by the Spirit of the Lord, after having baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, and the eunuch then going “on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39). But notice now where Philip had been “snatched…away” to, according to verse 40: “But PHILIP FOUND HIMSELF AT AZOTUS, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea” (NASB, emphasis mine). That was definitely a miraculous transporting — and not science fiction! And I wonder, if Philip could have had a stopwatch to time how long that transporting would take, would he have arrived before he could even finish pressing the start button!
And what about Enoch? It is said about him in Genesis 5:24 that “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (NASB). The Hebrew writer adds a little more to that, by saying, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God” (Heb. 11:5, NASB).
Would that not have also been instantaneous?
Of course, we do read of two being miraculously taken up, which, at least for part of the way, was not instantaneous. But they were both very special cases.
One of them pertains to Elijah. For what happened to him was to be a special sign to Elisha, Elijah’s successor, which he needed to see, as recorded in 2 Kings 2. It reads: “…Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.’ And Elisha said, ‘Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.’ He said, ‘You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.’ As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. Elisha saw it and cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ And he saw Elijah no more…” (NASB). So, apparently, God wanted Elisha to see that! And would the fact that there are about twice as many miracles recorded in the Bible of what Elisha performed, compared to that of Elijah, also be an indication of Elisha’s having received that “double portion” of Elijah’s spirit?
The other example is that of Jesus when He ascended back to heaven. But, again, that was definitely a special sight for His apostles who were there to witness it. Luke records that event, by saying: “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven'” (Act 1:9-11, NASB). The apostles were the Lord’s witnesses. They walked and talked with Him. They saw Him perform miracles, and they saw Him risen from the dead. And now they saw Him even ascend into a cloud when leaving this earth.
Of course, we would think that somewhere along the way in that ascension, after Jesus was out of sight, that His physical body would need to be exchanged with a heavenly body. For as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 15:49-50, 53: “Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. Now I say this, brethren, that FLESH AND BLOOD CANNOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed” — “For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (NASB, emphasis mine). What glorious bodies the saved will have in heaven!
And again, let us not forget that the Bible shows in both the Old and New Testaments of God sending His angel or angels to earth. They did not come by spaceship. Nor would I think they rode on a light beam or any other means of transportation than simply the will and power of God to send them. For God merely has to say it, such as “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3) — and it is done!
For one last example, which appears to indicate that God’s “transporting” can even be through solid objects, consider the Lord’s apostles immediately after His crucifixion. They must have been greatly discouraged and were fearful for their lives at that time and appear to have gone into hiding.
Just hours prior to the Lord’s crucifixion, Peter, apparently out of fear, had denied Jesus 3 times — rather than acknowledge that he was one of the Lord’s apostles.
And Peter was not the only one who had been afraid. For concerning the day of the Lord’s resurrection, John 20:19 says, “So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’” (NASB).
In about 60 different Bible translations I looked this up in, 34 of them refer to those “doors” of John 20:19 as not merely be “shut”; but, rather, as being “locked.” Yet that was no hindrance to Jesus!
So when it comes to being caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, we do not first need to be outside for that. For no walls, nor bars, nor even being confined in the most inescapable prison will be able to hinder that from happening!
Though we are not told specifically how God has sent angels to earth, yet we know that He did send them; and if that sending happened instantaneously, we should then have no trouble in believing it. For with God, “all things are possible” (Mark 19:26), and “Nothing is too difficult” for Him (Jer. 32:17). And God is certainly not hindered by distance, nor by time, nor by matter. For He is the Master over all things! For all has been made possible through Him!
God can truly do exceedingly more than all the amazing things we can even imagine!
So let us each be ready for that time when God’s people “will be caught up together…to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17, NASB). And what a wonderful “transporting” that will be!
Facing the Giants
For the video sermon with the above title, just click on the following link:
News & Notes
Folks to continue praying for:
As mentioned last week, a recent scan had revealed that the cancer has increased on Rick Cuthbertson’s lung. So new treatment has begun, which includes new medication and having a 5-hour infusion every 3 weeks.
Lois Fletcher, who has been receiving homeopathic treatments for bone cancer.
Ronnie Davis, who has now been on new medication, along with continual oxygen for a few weeks, due to an illness not yet determined.
Deborah Medlock, whose excessive coughing and nausea might be due to a nodule in her throat.
Tammy Griffey, who still needs to keep weight off her foot as her ankle heels, over the next few months, from the surgery performed on it.
Danielle Bartlett, as she continues with home dialysis and awaits a donor kidney.
Let us also be remembering in prayer Jim Lively, Rex Hadley, Vivian Foster, Kayla Williams, and Kim Rowell.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel — for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins. For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30). For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21). This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27). For from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian (Rom. 6:3-4). For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…
6) Continue in the faith by living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday: 9 a.m. Bible Class and 10 a.m. Worship Service.
We also have a Song Service at 5 p.m. for every first Sunday of the month.
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
https://thomastedwards.com/go/all.htm/ (This is a link to the older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990.)