Archive for the 'Heaven and Hell' Category

Sep 06 2010

Hell is real! So is Heaven or Hell our default Destination?

This has been placed upon my heart to send… as there are so many ‘spouting things’ … often filtered by their own disguise… claiming them as Scriptural or words of God… that my prayer to the Father…is to help me NOT become confused or to listen to these ‘agents of Satan who would pervert the Word of God’…

Too often these are people in authority in some church… often too these are those ‘who have created a HIGHER AUTHORITY than the Bible’… or a ‘person or office’ who ‘speaks for God’ that also ‘has a higher authority than Scripture’…

2 Tim 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.

Father GodHelp me ‘stay close to Scripture’ and ‘examine and compare everything to it’…

 

 

Hell is real!

So….

Is Heaven our ‘Default Destination’

Or…

Is Hell?

Written Dec. 31, 2005…

 

This may be a bit long, and certainly is intense…….but then, since, according to Scripture, everyone’s final destination is either Heaven or Hell, and, they are ‘eternal destinations,’ (that there is no ‘state of complete annihilation’ as we are ‘eternal beings’)……shouldn’t we know more about each?

 

Today… we even see ‘those who call themselves followers of Christ’ who say…’there is NO HELL’… that God the Father would NOT ‘eternally punish anyone’ in such a place… that it is ‘symbolic’ or ‘some short term punishment’… that HELL is ‘really only an eternal separation from God the Father’… and other such ‘fantasies’ that would have a ‘hard time’ being supported by Scripture’

 

In fact, some of these even say…there is really ‘NO MENTION OF HELL IN THE NEW TESTAMENT’…that it was only referenced ‘before Christ’…

 

But these are Christ’s own words: Mark 9:43-48  “And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.] “And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than having your two feet, to be cast into hell, [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.] “And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Matt 8:11-12 “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Rev 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. 

In his book, Heaven, by Randy Alcorn, he quotes Ivor Powell, “At the age of 83 I asked myself what I knew about the home of God, and I was truly shocked to admit I knew very little….Increasing age and the fact that I shall soon be making my own pilgrimage, have begotten within my soul an intense desire to explore this fascinating subject.”

Again, please realize that no matter how impassioned I write, or ‘how authoritatively’…………I am fallible, and am not your pastor, or a person of ‘authority’……and certainly not your Holy Spirit………rather one who is ‘saved by the merciful grace of God, through Jesus Christ’…….and is so thankful that I spend time trying to have a better relationship with Him through the reading of His Word………and this is my ‘illumination’ of what I read………and is meant to be a ‘stimulus’ for you to study the Word yourself, to decide what you feel it says to you………..

 

 

Hell is real!

So….

Is Heaven our ‘Default Destination’

Or…

Is Hell?

 

CS Lewis wrote: “The safest road to Hell is the gradual one….the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

GK Chesterton wrote: “Hell is God’s great compliment to the reality of human freedom and the dignity of human choice.”

Dante, in the Inferno, envisioned this sign chiseled above Hell’s gate: “Abandon every hope, you who enter.”

Novelist Dorothy Sayers wrote: “There seems to be some kind of conspiracy to forget, or to conceal, where the doctrine of Hell comes from. The doctrine of Hell is not ‘medieval priestcraft’ for frightening people into giving money to the church: it is Christ’s deliberate judgment on sin………We cannot repudiate Hell without altogether repudiating Christ.”

Randy Alcorn writes (and his book, Heaven, also supplied the motivation and many of the thoughts): God and Satan are not equal opposites. Likewise, Hell is not Heaven’s equal opposite. Just as God has no equals as a person, Heaven has no equal as a place.

CS Lewis wrote: “There have been times when I think we do not desire Heaven but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.”

And he also wrote: “All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the final grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it, or else, that it was within your reach, and you have lost it forever.”

Of course, Hell being real is based upon the Word of God revealing it, just as it also reveals Heaven, and our way to Heaven through our faith in Jesus Christ, and His redeeming act of dying on the cross for us, and that He is risen—-and lives forever, and is ‘preparing a place’ for us ‘with Him’ forever. They are ‘all interdependent’ on God’s truth—thus each one of them is dependent upon the other.

(And, I believe that whether a person ‘believes it or not’ God’s truth is absolute.)

Is it ‘unloving to speak of Hell?’ If you were giving some friends directions to Oklahoma City, and you knew one road, maybe even more narrow, less traveled, and required a bit more time, or was longer led you there;—-but a second road, a wider road, more traveled, more modern, even shorter, that required less ‘course correction’ but ended at a sharp cliff on a hill by a river because the ‘bridge had been washed away’ in a flood—that is ‘even now’ raging, and there ‘were few warnings or lights illuminating this danger,’ and people were crashing off it to their death—-would you only talk about ‘the safe road?’ In fact as Randy Alcorn points out in his book, Heaven, it would be terribly ‘unloving’ not to warn them about that ‘second road.’

The basic truth is that there are only two possible destinations after death: Heaven and Hell. Each is just as real, and just as eternal as the other. The most loving thing we can do for our family and friends, and those we may meet, is to warn them about the road that leads to destruction and tell them about the road that leads to life—-share the ‘good news’ of the Gospel of Christ.

What ‘mankind says’—-‘in regard to this’ is not the final yardstick by which to measure, we need to look at what God says in His Word because that’s what counts………

 

Christ’s words: The Narrow and Wide Gates: Matt 7:12-14 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Mark 8:36-38 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” 

We do not know how long we will live here on earth, we may die at any time: James 4:14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

It is of paramount importance to make sure you are going to Heaven, not Hell, The voice that whispers, “There is no hurry, you can always think about it later,” is not the voice of God. He says: 2 Cor 6:2 for He says, “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.” Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION” —  

Choose for yourself who you will serve: Josh 24:15 “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

What would keep us out of Heaven is universal: Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

The ‘status’ of all ‘mankind’ (without Christ) as revealed by God: Rom 3:9-12 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”

Rom 3:18 “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”

Again speaking of: The Folly and Wickedness of Men:  Ps 14:1-3 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.

The eternal consequence for man’s actions and choices: Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  ***Note: sin is singular and NOT plural…just one sin condemns…

God is so holy that He cannot allow sin into His presence: Hab 1:13a Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness with favor.

Because we are sinners, we are not entitled to enter God’s presence. We cannot enter Heaven ‘as we are.’

So Heaven is NOT our default destination. No one ‘goes there automatically.’ ***Note: There will be NO GOOD PEOPLE in Heaven… there will only be those FORGIVEN! Forgiven by God in Christ!

 

Unless our sin problem is resolved, the only place we go is our true default destination……Hell.

 

Hell is the single greatest tragedy in the universe.

 

We each ‘have a choice’ because God, in His merciful grace has made ‘provision for us’ in His Son: Rom 5:6-11 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

How can we be saved? : Acts 16:30-31 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

What is this ‘being born again? It is the miraculous moment we ‘accept Christ’ and ‘become a child of God’: John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 

It is ‘realizing you are lost in sin’ and ‘need a Savior’—-and that Savior is Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God—and then, believe God’s promise: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

And NEVER READ THIS WONDERFUL SCRIPTURE WITHOUT READING THAT FOLLOWING WHICH SO EMPHASIZES IT…THAT IT IS ONLY BY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST: John 3:17-18

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  ***underlining by me for emphasis…

Realizing He is ‘the only Way’: John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Either you believe Him or you ‘call Him a liar!’: 1 John 1:5-10 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

We must obey God rather than man: Acts 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

Realize the fact that you can be saved by faith in the Lord Jesus: Rom 10:9-13 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”

2 Cor 5:15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

Rev 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

Then, if one’s heart is convicted, and they ‘repent’ and want to ‘come to Jesus,’ a person might pray this simple prayer: “Heavenly Father, I am a sinner. I want forgiveness for my sins—-my past sins,—–my present sins,—-my future sins. I believe Jesus Christ died on the Cross for me, and rose again—-that He lives! Father, I give You my life to do with as You will. I want Jesus to come into my life and into my heart. This I ask in Jesus’ name—–Amen!”

It is ‘between you and God.’

Since we have established there is a Hell, lets look at some things that might give us a better ‘picture of it.’ Nothing is ‘more powerful and impacting’ than a ‘word picture.’

 

If you read in the OT about the different Gates into and out of Jerusalem, you will find the ‘Prison Gate’ where all the trash and garbage collected in Jerusalem was carried out of into the Valley of Hinnom, or Ghenna, and burned.

Here is what Nelson’s Bible Dictionary says: HINNOM, VALLEY OF [HEN nahm] — a deep, narrow ravine south of Jerusalem. At the HIGH PLACES of Baal in the Valley of Hinnom, parents sacrificed their children as a burnt offering to the pagan god Molech (2 Kings 23:10). Ahaz and Manasseh, kings of Judah, were both guilty of this awful wickedness (2 Chron 28:3; 33:6). But good King Josiah destroyed the pagan altars to remove this temptation from the Hebrew people.

The prophet Jeremiah foretold that God would judge this awful abomination of human sacrifice and would cause such a destruction that “the Valley of the Son of Hinnom” would become known as “the Valley of Slaughter” (Jer 7:31-32; 19:2,6; 32:35). The place was also called “Tophet.”

Apparently, the Valley of Hinnom was used as the garbage dump for the city of Jerusalem. Refuse, waste materials, and dead animals were burned here. Fires continually smoldered, and smoke from the burning debris rose day and night. Hinnom thus became a graphic symbol of woe and judgment and of the place of eternal punishment called HELL.

Translated into Greek, the Hebrew “Valley of Hinnom” becomes gehenna, which is used 12 times in the New Testament (11 times by Jesus and once by James), each time translated in the NKJV as “hell” (Matt 5:22; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6).

(from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright (c)1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

Unger’s Bible Dictionary says: HINNOM, VALLEY OF (hin’om). Otherwise called “the valley of the son of Hinnom,” or “the valley of Benhinnom”; a deep and narrow ravine with steep, rocky sides to the S and W of Jerusalem, separating Mt. Zion to the N from the “Hill of Evil Counsel,” and the sloping rocky plateau of the “valley of Rephaim” to the S. The earliest mention of the valley of Hinnom is in Josh 15:8; 18:16, where the boundary line between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin is described as passing along the bed of the ravine. On the southern brow, overlooking the valley at its eastern extremity, Solomon erected high places for Molech (1 Kings 11:7), whose horrid rites were revived from time to time in the same vicinity by the later idolatrous kings. Ahaz and Manasseh made their children “pass through the fire” in this valley (2 Kings 16:3; 2 Chron 28:3; 33:6), and the fiendish custom of infant sacrifice to the fire-gods seems to have been kept up in Topheth at its southeast extremity for a considerable period (Jer 7:31; 2 Kings 23:10). To put an end to these abominations the place was polluted by Josiah, who rendered it ceremonially unclean by spreading over it human bones and other corruptions (2 Kings 23:10,13-14; 2 Chron 34:3-5). From that time it appears to have become the common cesspool of the city, into which its sewage was conducted to be carried off by the waters of the Kidron, as well as a laystall, where all its solid filth was collected. From its ceremonial defilement and from the detested and abominable fire of Molech, if not from the supposed everburning funeral piles, the later Jews applied the name of this valley Ge Hinnom, “Gehenna,” to denote the place of eternal torment. The name by which it is now known is Wadi Jehennam, or Wadi er Rubeb. See Gehenna; Hell.

(From The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)

Here are scriptural references to Hell that in simple, but dramatic words show this to be a ‘real place’—-totally separated from God, in total darkness, and eternal torment: Christ’s own words…Mark 9:43-48 “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, [where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.] “If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, [where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.]  “If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.

Matt 8:11-12 “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Rev 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Prepared for Satan and his angels (but Satan will not be master of it, he will be imprisoned there.) Matt 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

Matt 25:46 “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Man’s choice to reject Christ—thus to be separated from God forever: Luke 19:14 “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, “We do not want this man to reign over us.’

Rev 21:8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

The saved will be able to look down from Heaven and see this: Isa 66:23-24 “And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says the LORD. “Then they will go forth and look On the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die And their fire will not be quenched; And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.”    

Matt 18:8-9 “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. “If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.

Powerful picture of Hell—-the condemned sinner in hell still has his senses, feelings, desires, a body, etc., it is a ‘living hell’: Luke 16:19-31 “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. “And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. “Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. “And he cried out and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ “But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. “And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ “And he said, “Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house —  for I have five brothers — in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ “But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ “But he said, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ “But he said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'” 

The way and gate to Heaven is narrow, whereas the road to hell is wide, and requires ‘no course correction’—the ‘auto-pilot’ in us from birth will take us straight to Hell, unless we ‘accept the free gift’ of salvation provided for us by Jesus Christ: Matt 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Speaking of the ‘wisdom of the world’: Prov 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. And repeated: Prov 16:25 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Devine election does not dull human responsibility, but once saved, no longer condemned: John 3:18-20 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

There is ‘no neutral ground’—-you either believe God, or declare Him a liar!:

1 John 5:10-12 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

The way to Heaven: John 14:5-6 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

We will exist forever—-either with Christ—or separated from Him—forever! If a loving God spared not His chosen people, Sodom and Gomorrah, nor His only begotten Son in relation to His righteous and holy justice in regard to sin—how can anyone think He will spare them if they reject His salvation purchased with so dear a price by His only Son’s persecution and crucifixion and death on a Roman Cross at Calvary?!

How can He do this? We have this Bible—which reveals 6,000 years of His relationship to us—that we have ‘chosen’ to sin, and are thus condemned, by our own choices and actions—but He has provided us a ‘way out’ of our sentence, our penalty—through Jesus Christ. And, if then, we reject Him, we reject God Himself, and take the position of Luke 19: 14 “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, “We do not want this man to reign over us.’

And instead, rely upon the two Proverbs repeated above: Prov. 14:12; 16:25.

Rather than God’s way, John 14:5-6 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. And: John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

And that person ‘makes God a liar’ and condemns themselves to Hell!

 

Praise Him, and His patience, in that He sent His Holy Spirit to convict me as a young child, and even when I turned my back on Him for years ‘in rebellion,’ He remained faithful, and in ‘His timing’ called me back into ‘fellowship and relationship’ with Him! His merciful grace is so awesome, my heart is broken before Him when I consider His love and sacrifice so that I may live forever with Him in Heaven. Jesus lives, and I live in Him.

 

Bill Watts

No responses yet

Feb 03 2006

Seeing God, Our Primary Joy

Published by under Heaven and Hell

As I continue to read Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven, it continues to focus my heart and mind on our Lord Jesus Christ, and our Father in Heaven. It is exhilarating!

Again, I am not trying to make this book ‘replace’ or ‘compete’ with the Bible. But it has been my experience that there are many saints who have spent tremendous time in the study of God’s word, and the Holy Spirit has gifted them with additional insight and skill in ‘presenting’ certain areas in a way that can truly edify us, and ‘stimulate or challenge’ us to go to the Bible to first sift and confirm what they say—that it is in accordance with Scripture and the heart of God, and then to allow our ‘godly imagination’ to ‘expand according to the Scriptures we find.’ (William MacDonald’s writings and commentary is another source I value, just as I do Charles Stanley, CS Lewis, and The Friends of Israel magazine, to mention a few Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge is another book I found exhilarating recently, focusing on Christ and His Person. So, there are some wonderful studies and commentaries to expand our hearts in the Lord.)

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Jan 31 2006

If Heaven is Our Eternal Goal: What Will It Mean to See God?

Published by under Heaven and Hell

“I shall rise from the dead…I shall see the Son of God, the Sun of Glory, and shine myself as that sun shines. I shall be united to the Ancient of Days, to God Himself, who had no morning, never began…No man ever saw God and lived. And yet, I shall not live till I see God; and when I have seen Him, I shall never die.”

John Donne (pg 165, Heaven by Randy Alcorn)

Reading Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven, has stimulated my heart and mind about our eternal goal — letting my imagination began to focus on Heaven, as described in Scripture. And there is so much in Scripture that can illuminate this for us. I am thankful for my friend Rob Moore for recommending it.

(I am not here saying his book is infallible – but it does certainly stimulate our hearts to looking forward with tremendous anticipation to Heaven as a real and physical place, a place without sin and without the ‘Curse’ of fallen mankind, but holy relationships with those we love – instead of it being an uncertain place suspended somewhere, or as one pastor put it: “Like an eternal church service.” He backs his conclusions with lots of Scripture instead of just ‘isolated verses.’)

He says: In beginning with aspects of Heaven in the order of importance, it should begin with God and our eternal relationship with Him – and approaching it with the richness and vitality it deserves. As David penned: Ps 63:1, O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Alcorn’s book says: we’ve seen, the expression “Heaven and Earth” is a biblical designation for the entire universe, so when Revelation 21:1 (see below) speaks of “a new heaven and an new earth,” it indicates a transformation of the entire universe. The Greek word kainos, translated “new,” indicates that the earth God creates won’t merely be new as opposed to old, but new in quality and superior in character. According to Walter Bauer’s lexicon, kainos means new “in the sense that what is old has become obsolete, an should be replaced with what is new. In such case the new is, as a rule, superior in kind to the old.”

Paul uses the same word, kainos, when he speaks of a believer becoming “a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17, see below). The New Earth will be the same as the old Earth, just as a new Christian is still the same person he was before. Different? Yes. But also the same.

When a home is burned to the ground, the components of the house do not cease to exist, but take on another form. According to the first law of thermodynamics (conservation of energy), the fire doesn’t obliterate the wood but transforms it into different substances, including charcoal and carbon dioxide. What we consider annihilation in not what it appears.

Resurrection, however, goes beyond that. A new house is not made out of the materials of a house that burned, but out of new materials. Though it may be on the same ground, made according to the same blueprint, it is a different house. Resurrection, however, is about continuity – the same body that was destroyed is reconstructed into the new—–it will be made ‘better’ and ‘eternal.’

As God may gather the scattered DNA and atoms and molecules of our bodies, he will regather all He needs of the scorched and disfigured Earth. As our old bodies will be raised to new bodies, so the old Earth will be raised to become the New Earth. So, will the earth be destroyed or renewed? The answer is both – but the ‘destruction’ will be temporal and partial, whereas the renewed will be eternal and complete.

The doctrine of the new creation, extending not only to mankind, but to the world, the natural realm, and even nations and cultures, is a major biblical theme, though you would never know it judging by how little attention it receives among Christians.

In an important essay, theologian Greg Beale argues that “new creation is a plausible and defensible center for New Testament theology.” He states, “The Bible begins with the original creation which is corrupted (and cursed in Genesis 3:17, see below), and the rest of the Old Testament is a redemptive-historical process working toward a restoration of the fallen creation in a new creation. The New Testament then sees these hopes beginning fulfillment and prophesies a future time of fulfillment in a consummated new creation, which Revelation 21:1 – 22:5 portrays.

Hence we have seen from Isaiah and throughout the Old Testament, the doctrine of the new heavens and New Earth is not some late-developing afterthought but a central component of redemptive history and intention. And through Christ’s redemption of us: 2 Cor 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Alcorn says: The earth’s death will be no more final than our own. The destruction of the old Earth in God’s purifying judgment will immediately be followed by its resurrection to new life. Earth’s fiery “end” will open straight into a glorious new beginning. And as we’ll see, it just keeps getting better and better.

What we really want is to live forever in a world with all the beauty and none of the ugliness – a world without sin, death, the Curse, and all the personal and relational problems and disappointments they create. To not look forward to this, he believes is ‘faulty theology’ accusing God of failure – assuming He will never accomplish a lasting state of righteousness on Earth. In the beginning, when God created the earth, He said ‘His creation was good.’ Do we think He will abandon that to His enemies and Satan? I do NOT!

Everything about ‘salvation’ is about: Reconcile. Redeem. Recover. Return. Regenerate. Resurrect. Each of these biblical words begins with the re-prefix, suggesting a return to an original condition that was ruined or lost. New in this sense – a restored and perfected version of our familiar bodies and familiar Earth and our family relationships.

A place with loved ones – that’s a central quality of home. Heaven will be like that – we’ll be with people we love, and we’ll love no one more than Jesus, who purchased with His own blood the real estate of the New Earth. In the words of Paul Marshall: “What we need is not to be rescued from the world, not to cease being human, not to stop caring for the world, not to stop shaping human culture. What we need is the power to do these things according to the will of God. We, as well as the rest of creation need to be redeemed.”

What we really want is the person we were made for, Jesus, and the place we were made for, Heaven. Nothing less can satisfy us. A Christian Alcorn once met in passing told him it troubled him that he really didn’t long for Heaven. Instead, he yearned for an Earth that was like God meant it to be. He didn’t desire a Heaven that was ‘out there’ somewhere, but an Earth under his feet, where God was glorified. He goes on to say that ‘his longing was biblical and right,’ in fact, the very place he’s always longed for, an Earth where God is fully glorified, is the place where we will live forever – the New Heaven and the New Earth.

Obstacles to ‘our seeing God’

Sin is the chasm, the barrier between mankind and God. As we see in the Garden of Eden before ‘sin entered the world’ and the ‘fall of mankind’ God ‘walked in the garden, and had direct relationship with Adam and Eve: Gen 3:8-9 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”

From that time forward, no man has seen God – as even revealed in Moses encounter: Ex 33:18-20 Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”

And God’s holiness was observed and enforced: 2 Sam 6:6-7 But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. And the anger of the LORD burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God.

In the Tabernacle only the High Priest could enter the ‘Holy of Holies’ – and that once a year, and tradition says he entered with a rope tied to his ankle in case he died there, so they could drag him out without entering.

1 Tim 6:16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

Heb 12:14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

But, He promises: Matt 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Lord

As David penned revealing that innate need and desire within our hearts that only One can fill: Ps 27:4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

Jesus is God: Matt 1:23 “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

When in Heaven, we see Jesus, we see God: John 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, “Show us the Father’?

Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

When we are in Heaven, in our eternal bodies, without sin, we shall see God. Even now, those of us who have accepted the salvation provided in Jesus Christ, and washed by His blood, we are invited by prayer into the very presence of our Father God in Heaven, into His holy of holies:

Heb 10:19-22 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,  by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Heb 4:16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Seeing God: “One day both we and the universe will be forever cured of sin. In that day, we will see God.”

2 Cor 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

1 Cor 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

Rev 22:3-4 There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.

Job 19:25-27 “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. “Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me!

The essence of eternal life:

What is the essence of eternal life? John 17:3 “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Our primary joy in Heaven will be knowing and seeing God. Every other joy will be derivative, flowing from the fountain of our relationship with God. Ps 73:25-26 Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Jonathan Edwards said, “God Himself is the great good which they are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that is good which Christ purchased…The redeemed will indeed enjoy other things…but that which they shall enjoy in the angels, or each other, or in anything else whatsoever, that will yield them delight and happiness, will be what will be seen of God in them.”

Augustine called God “the end of our desires.” He prayed, “you have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Alcorn uses this: Suppose you are sick and your friend brings you a meal. What meets your needs – the meal or the friend? Both! Of course, without your friend, there would be no meal; but even without a meal, you would still treasure your friendship. Hence, your friend is both your higher pleasure and the source of your secondary pleasure (the meal). Likewise, God is the source of all lesser goods, so that when they satisfy us, it’s God Himself who satisfies us. (In fact, it’s God who satisfies you by giving you the friend who gives you the meal.)

Some would say: “But our eyes should be on the giver, not the gift; we must focus on God, not on heaven.” This fails to recognize that because God is the ultimate source of joy, and all secondary joys emanate from Him, to love secondary joys on Earth, can be – and in Heaven always will be – to love God their source.

1 Tim 6:17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. If He provides us with everything for our enjoyment, we shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying it, should we?

1 Tim 4:4-5 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

In Heaven we will have no capacity to turn people or things into idols. When we find joy in God’s gifts, we will be finding our joy in Him.

Ps 27:4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

Jer 31:34-35 “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name:

God doesn’t want to be replaced or depreciated. He wants to be recognized as the source of all our joys, and He wants us to draw closer to Him through partaking of His creation. My taking pleasure in a good meal or a good book is taking pleasure in God. It is not a substitute for God, nor is it a distraction from Him. In the words of the Westminister Shorter Catechism, it’s what I was made for: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”

Theologian Sam Storms writes, “We will constantly be more amazed with God, more in love with God, and thus ever more relishing His presence and our relationship with Him. Our experience of God will never reach its consummation. We will never arrive, as if upon reaching a peak we discover there is nothing beyond. Our experience of God will never become stale. It will deepen and develop, intensify and amplify, unfold and increase, broaden and balloon.”

Beholding and knowing God, we will spend eternity worshipping, exploring, and serving Him, seeing His magnificent beauty in everything and everyone around us. Augustine wrote in The City of God, “We shall in the future world see the material forms of the new heavens and the new earth in such a way that we shall most distinctly recognize God everywhere present and governing all things, material as well as spiritual.” In the new universe, as we study nature, as we pursue science and mathematics and every realm of knowledge, we’ll see God in everything for He’s behind it all.

Many commoners in history would have thought it the ultimate experience to gain an audience with their human king, to meet him face-to-face. How much greater will it be to see God in His glory? There could be no higher privilege, no greater thrill! All our explorations and adventures and projects in the eternal Heaven – and I believe there will be many – will pale in comparison to the wonder of seeing God. Yet everything else we do will help us to see God better, to know and worship Him better.

To know Jesus is to ‘know God’ – and is God’s providence for our reaching Heaven to spend eternity with Him.

Do you know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord?

In Him,

Bill Watts

Jan 31, 2006

Additional Scriptures referred to in the devotional:

Rev 21:1-5 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Gen 3:17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.

No responses yet

Jan 11 2006

Are You Looking Forward to Heaven?

Published by under Heaven and Hell

What do you know about Heaven? Can you describe it?

Or is your vision of it as a ‘never-ending church service?’

Is it a physical place, and will we have physical bodies?

Is there an ‘intermediate Heaven’ where we go when we die here on earth, to dwell until Christ comes again to Earth to rule, and resurrects all the bodies of those ‘dead in Christ?’

What is your vision of Heaven? Does it include the New Earth?

If someone asks you, how do you describe it?

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Dec 26 2005

The Terminal Disease Called Mortality

Published by under Heaven and Hell

As human beings we have a ‘terminal disease called mortality.’ The current death rate is 100%. We don’t like to ‘think about death,’ especially our own, yet, worldwide, 3 people die every second, 180 every minute, and nearly 11,000 every hour. That’s 250,000 a day ‘who transition’ from ‘this life.’

This brings up the question for each of us: Where will we spend eternity?

If you want to ‘know more’ about the ‘destination’ read on.

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Dec 26 2005

Hell is Real!

Published by under Heaven and Hell

This may be a bit long, and certainly is intense…….but then, since, according to Scripture, everyone’s final destination is either Heaven or Hell, and, they are ‘eternal destinations,’ (that there is no ‘state of complete annihilation’ as we are ‘eternal beings’)……shouldn’t we know more about each?

In his book, Heaven, by Randy Alcorn, he quotes Ivor Powell, “At the age of 83 I asked myself what I knew about the home of God, and I was truly shocked to admit I knew very little….Increasing age and the fact that I shall soon be making my own pilgrimage, have begotten within my soul an intense desire to explore this fascinating subject.”

Again, please realize that no matter how impassioned I write, or ‘how authoritatively’…………I am fallible, and am not your pastor, or a person of ‘authority’……and certainly not your Holy Spirit………rather one who is ‘saved by the merciful grace of God, through Jesus Christ’…….and is so thankful that I spend time trying to have a better relationship with Him through the reading of His Word………and this is my ‘illumination’ of what I read………and is meant to be a ‘stimulus’ for you to study the Word yourself, to decide what you feel it says to you………..

Hell is real!

Is Heaven our ‘Default Destination’ Or…Is Hell?

CS Lewis wrote: “The safest road to Hell is the gradual one….the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

GK Chesterton wrote: “Hell is God’s great compliment to the reality of human freedom and the dignity of human choice.”

Dante, in the Inferno, envisioned this sign chiseled above Hell’s gate: “Abandon every hope, you who enter.”

Novelist Dorothy Sayers wrote: “There seems to be some kind of conspiracy to forget, or to conceal, where the doctrine of Hell comes from. The doctrine of Hell is not ‘mediaeval priestcraft’ for frightening people into giving money to the church: it is Christ’s deliberate judgment on sin………We cannot repudiate Hell without altogether repudiating Christ.”

Randy Alcorn writes (and his book, Heaven, also supplied the motivation and many of the thoughts): God and Satan are not equal opposites. Likewise, Hell is not Heaven’s equal opposite. Just as God has no equals as a person, Heaven has no equal as a place.

CS Lewis wrote: “There have been times when I think we do not desire Heaven but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.”

And he also wrote: “All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the final grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it, or else, that it was within your reach, and you have lost it forever.”

Of course, Hell being real is based upon the Word of God revealing it, just as it also reveals Heaven, and our way to Heaven through our faith in Jesus Christ, and His redeeming act of dying on the cross for us, and that He is risen—-and lives forever, and is ‘preparing a place’ for us ‘with Him’ forever. They are ‘all interdependent’ on God’s truth—thus each one of them is dependent upon the other.

(And, I believe that whether a person ‘believes it or not’ God’s truth is absolute.)

Continue Reading »

No responses yet