Reflections
 

By Sharon van Arneman
 

About the 

End Times and

What Not

September 17, 2021

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WEEKender column
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The Daily Hearld

Wherever you go these days, people are talking about the end times as they try to make sense of the Covid-19 pandemic and of the spiritual implications of the vaccines. No one will disagree that we are living in unprecedented times. Our world has changed and it continues to change daily right before our eyes; and as we see the direction that things are going, many are wondering if the next big global event to happen will be the Apocalypse. But while many signs seem to indicate that the end is near, Scripture teaches that before the world experiences the Apocalypse, the Rapture must first take place.

To be clear, the Rapture is a sign-less event; so just think that with all the signs that are happening around us that point to the end times – and like we’ve mentioned already, this period will be preceded by the Rapture – then one can well imagine just how near the Rapture must be! It could happen tonight for all we know. It could happen early tomorrow morning or later on in the afternoon. It could happen during the weekend, or on a week-day. It could happen this month, but also in the distant future. It could happen while you’re driving or flying, or working or shopping, or even sleeping. It could happen as I write; it could happen as you read. But while it’s true that we don’t know when exactly it will happen, many trusted Bible scholars believe it will happen soon.

Whether we’re ready or not, the Rapture could happen at any time. “The Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.” What a day it will be when all true Christians are suddenly snatched away from this earth just like that!

We’re talking about millions of people of every tribe and nation and language and race. People who have received Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior; people who have trusted in the shed blood of Jesus as the only substitute for their sin; people who are saved; people who believe the gospel to be the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes; people who confess that Jesus is indeed the way, the truth and the life; people who are redeemed; people who have placed all their hope and trust and faith in Jesus.

Yes, right before the Tribulation begins, the Lord will rapture His church – for those, who are His, will not be condemned with the world. “It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.”

I don’t know about you, but if I didn’t yet know the Lord; I’d have placed my trust in Him and accepted His free gift of eternal salvation this very minute!


Unmatched in its Power

to Change Lives- Part 4

So often, when we ask someone how they’re doing, it’s more of a polite greeting than a genuine enquiry about how the person is actually doing. And I’d say that people across the board generally understand this to be so, because most would reply with a casual “I’m fine; thanks”, or “I’m okay”, even when they are anything but okay – especially with this ongoing pandemic and the invasive way it has affected lives across the board. That’s why if you have even one friend, who takes the time to reach out and ask: “How are you really doing?”, you must know that you’re fortunate than most. But I want you to also know that even if no human friend checks in on you, there’s a God in heaven who loves and cares for you so much that He’s written your name in the palms of His hands – seriously.

He says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I am the One who made the earth and created people to live on it. With My hands, I stretched out the heavens. All the stars are at My command. To whom will you compare Me? Who is My equal? Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. I will rescue you for My sake – yes, for My own sake. I alone am God. At just the right time, I will respond to you; I will help you. Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of My hands. Those who trust in Me will never be put to shame. All the world will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer.”

I don’t know how your faith has grown during the pandemic; or what it is that keeps you grounded; but if you’re like me, what you want to hear is not for someone to whisper silly nothings in your ear, trying to give you a baseless kind of hope that is nothing but fake. These are serious times, and while it’s all good and well that we speak messages of hope and positivity to each other, what we need more than anything else is a message that is anchored in truth. That’s why if any good has come out of this pandemic, it is that so many are finding that the Scriptures remain unmatched in its power to change lives – a true lifeline as they navigate the waters of uncertainty in this ever changing new world of ours.


Unmatched in its Power

to Change Lives- Part 3

Lying flat on one’s back with all the time in the world to reflect on life’s meaning, it’s easy to understand why any one of us would readily embrace the Bible’s message of salvation and comfort and hope. But you need not wait until you are at death’s door to discover that God’s word has power to change lives. God’s word is compelling. Hebrews tells us that it is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It can cut through our spirits and souls and through our joints and marrow, and is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. That’s why when we give ourselves to reading and studying and internalizing its message, the word of God will shape our thinking; it will influence the words that come out of our mouths; and it will transform our attitudes and our behaviors, our actions and our reactions, our habits and our lifestyle choices, and everything about how we do life in general.

There’s simply no way you can be a student of the Bible and not experience a changed life! Taking its message to heart will impact your perspective on life, your world view, how you spend your time, your work ethics, how you choose your friends, who you marry, how you plan for the future, how you handle the past, what you do when life gets difficult, how you spend your money, how you treat people, your moral standards and your values in general. I sometimes find myself wondering what my life would have been like had I not had a faith anchored in the word of God. When, for example, I’m confronted with morally wrong situations that look and feel so right, I find it a relief to know that morality has already been predetermined by a morally upright God, who has not left me to figure out this business of right and wrong all by myself. That takes a load off my shoulders that I wasn’t meant to carry in the first place.

It is so freeing when we allow the principles of God’s word to guide our lives, instead of letting each situation determine our course of action from one day to the next! And even for those who have gone their own way and done things that leave them riddled with guilt, the good news is that there is still hope. Piling wrong upon wrong, in some flimsy effort to find relief from the weight of your conscience, will only lead to more distress in the end. The person, however, who turns to the word of God, in the midst of their failures, will find that if you confess your sins to God, He is faithful and just to forgive you your sins and to cleanse you from every wrong. How cool is that! God’s word doesn’t stop at convicting us of sin, it goes further and offers the sinner hope: It tells us that God has already made atonement for our sins through the death of His Son Jesus who took our punishment and died in our place – and when we receive Him, He changes us and makes us brand new. That’s dynamite power to change lives!


Unmatched in its Power

to Change Lives- Part 2

The Bible stands unmatched in its power to change lives, firm in the truth it proclaims and unmistakable in its accuracy. This extraordinarily incredibly remarkable book continues to stand as a clear testimony that its author is divine. Still the most widely published book in the world, I have no doubt that not only will the Bible continue to withstand all its attackers; but it will also outlast them all. It’s not for nothing that monarchs and common folk alike hold God’s word near and dear to their hearts as the ultimate source for what they believe and what they do – a fixed standard in all matters relating to faith, morality, teaching and practice.

The Bible is as relevant to the universal needs of people today as it was when it was first written. Its truth is timeless. That’s why in these times of uncertainty when fear grips the hearts of so many; the Bible provides hope where there would otherwise be none. “First off,” says the apostle Peter in The Message rendering of the book that bears his name, “you need to know that in the last days, mockers are going to have a heyday. Reducing everything to the level of their petty feelings, they’ll mock, ‘So what’s happened to the promise of His coming? Our ancestors are dead and buried, and everything’s going on just as it has from the first day of creation. Nothing’s changed.’”

Peter continues, “Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with His promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining Himself on account of you, holding back the end because He doesn’t want anyone lost.” On that note, try to imagine yourself being confined to a hospital bed, struggling to breathe even with an oxygen mask on, feeling so sick and terrified, not knowing whether or not you will make it. Then in your darkest hours, your mind recalls the promises of God. You remember having heard that God loves you and that He sent His Son to die for your sins – and you suddenly find yourself wanting more than anything else to get right with God.

Lying flat on one’s back with all the time in the world to reflect on life’s meaning, it’s easy to understand why any one of us would readily embrace the Bible’s message of salvation and comfort and hope. But you need not wait until you are at death’s door to discover that God’s word has power to change lives. “It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts Him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else,” says the apostle Paul in Romans 1:16-17. “God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: ‘The person in right standing before God by trusting Him really lives.’” So why not take Jesus as your personal Savior and experience first-hand His life-changing power today?


Unmatched in its Power

to Change Lives

Preparing for a long trip, a traveler said to his friend: “I am just about packed. I only have to put in a guidebook, a lamp, a mirror, a microscope, a telescope, a volume of fine poetry, a few biographies, a package of old letters, a book of songs, a sword, a hammer and a set of books I have been studying.” His friend quickly peeked into his suitcase and replied, “There’s just no way you can get all of that stuff into such a tiny, little space!” “Oh, yes, I can,” replied the traveler. Then taking up his Bible, he placed it in the corner of the suitcase and closed the lid.

Written under a variety of circumstances over a period of some 1,500 years on three different continents, by more than 40 authors, who naturally came from very diverse backgrounds, the Bible’s unity tells us from the very onset that there is no way this could have been accomplished apart from God Himself supervising the writing of His word. God inspired and so perfectly guided these human authors that – although they each wrote to different audiences from different perspectives, using their own unique writing styles and personalities – they still recorded exactly what He intended, leaving us with nothing less than God’s revelation of Himself.

That is why I believe that when we read the Bible at face value and take it literally within its given context, we will discover that not only is it coherent and consistent, but also clear and relatively easy to understand, in spite of an occasional difficult passage. Even those times when it seems that contradictions are present, we have to believe that our not knowing the answer doesn’t mean there isn’t one. That’s why it’s important that we take to heart what we clearly understand, so that as we obey God’s simple commands, He will in time give us light about the things that confuse us.

There’s just no disputing that everything we need to know about God and how to have a right relationship with Him is found in the Bible. Is it any wonder that sceptics throughout history have tried to discredit and destroy the Bible?! Many of its authors died excruciating deaths for believing the message God had revealed to them; men, women and children throughout the ages have been imprisoned, tortured and burned at the stake for confessing and defending its teaching; and although attacks on its credibility continue, still today the Bible stands as the final authority of how we are to live our lives, because when the Bible speaks, God speaks.

The Bible stands unmatched in its power to change lives, firm in the truth it proclaims and unmistakable in its accuracy. This extraordinarily incredibly remarkable book continues to stand as a clear testimony that its author is divine. Still the most widely published book in the world, I have no doubt that not only will the Bible continue to withstand all its attackers; but it will also outlast them all. It’s not for nothing that monarchs and common folk alike hold God’s word near and dear to their hearts as the ultimate source for what they believe and what they do – a fixed standard in all matters relating to faith, morality, teaching and practice.

It's A Family Affair!

Don't you see that children
are God’s best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don’t stand
a chance against you;
you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.
~Psalm 127:3-5 (The Message)



When it comes to church work and Christian service, it has always been a family affair for the van Arnemans. Forever grateful to God for their Christian heritage, Pastor Erick and Sharon have always felt divinely mandated to pass this Christian heritage on to their children, who will then hopefully pass it on to succeeding generations.