“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

To die

The hardest thing to do is to die. To lose hold of life and to pass into the grave must be the most helpless event. Yet billions have done it.

What was it like? To know that this is it; this the last time I have to think, to feel, to trust. Am I ready for this? Have I prepared for the end of my personal probation? Will Jesus accept me? Is my robe white? Did I baptize it in the blood of the Lamb?

Many believe the dead go straight to heaven, nirvana, the “ethers,” a reincarnated animal, or somewhere “out there.” Or they go to hell or Purgatory or some other place similar. The Bible states that we go into the grave and “sleep.” Period. Dust to dust—a phrase taken from scripture. On the day of Adam’s disobeying God’s express command, the Lord God told Adam, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Gen. 3:19).

“The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.” (Ecc. 9:5,6). “So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.”(Job 14:12).

But Job continues with the good news that there is a resurrection at the end. “O that Thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that Thou wouldest keep me secret, until Thy wrath be past, that Thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.Thou shalt call, and I will answer Thee: Thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands.” (vs. 13-15).

“Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” (Ps. 146:3,4). In other words, we don’t go straight to heaven. With two exceptions, Enoch and Elijah, every typical run of the mill sinner has gone straight to the grave and hasn’t budged from there until judgment day when Jesus comes. Even the holy men like King David (Acts 2:34) and Moses (Jude 9) didn’t go straight to heaven after death. Moses eventually got a special invitation but David is still in the grave, according to the word of God. If the Old Testament holds any validity for Christians, then they should take God at His word unless, in the New Testament, He just as openly asserted that He changed the way He treats His dead as He had proclaimed it earlier in the Old.

Yet, ever true to form, the New Testament, firmly built upon the Old, reiterates and validates the Old Testament, even with the way the Lord ultimately reclaims His “sleeping” saints. That is, in a mass resurrection. “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (2Thess. 4:14-17).

Actually, this Biblical model of death is very comforting. Its good news to know that there aren’t any “spirits” traveling around, trying to communicate with us or to harass us. If there were spirits out there and I don’t act right, I would live my life nervously expecting some bad fall-out from the spirit world. This falsehood, borrowed straight from spiritualism, has paralyzed multitudes and nations for ages.

To learn that no one lives on after death until Jesus comes, when we forever join Him and live in His presence, has brought great relief to untold millions since this truth began to be brought to the world by the Hebrews. This lie adds no force to righteous living. Fear never turned anyone good. “Scared straight” is only a short term fix. Love is the only thing that results in life-long righteousness. Only if I love to be good will I always be good.

How did so many Christians come to believe spirits float around watching and communicating with the living? Actually this lie is the oldest in the world. “And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.” (Gen. 3:2-4).

Wicca, which claims to be the oldest religion in the world, but which is really the second oldest, is part of the whole occult regime. The occult is built upon the assumption that no one really dies, that the “soul” lives on. This idea came from the serpent in Eden at the very introduction of sin into the beautiful world which God made for us.

Why would the devil use this idea and keep it alive for so long? Because it offers him an inroad to his control of sinners, which we all are. For those who were the most curious and gullible, or just lonely, he led to believe they could communicate with the dead, which, according to God, die for good.

The wages of sin is death. The lily that dies, really dies. It molds into nothing. So dies the animal, and so dies the human. We all mold into nothing. The power of life God gave us returns to Him again, and we die, really die. No soul. No spirit to float around. No life in heaven. No NDEs (Near Death Experiences). No voices from dead loved ones.

So what does the big lie give Satan? When folks think they talk to their dead, they are really talking to a devil. That fallen angel perfectly imitates the intonation of the voice, the mannerisms so familiar to the surviving mate or child or friend, even the secret personal preferences known to no one else on earth but to the loved ones. Once convinced this is indeed their beloved departed, the living communicant is hooked and the demon controls more forcefully or with more innocently sounding lies that get spread around the family or the community or the local church. Lies about others in heaven who want to communicate with their surviving loved ones too. Soon God’s word means nothing when faith is pitted against a touch or comforting verbal words or a hug or a kiss. But who are the living touching? Who are they hugging and kissing? Not their dead loved one. They are being comforted by a visitant from the spirit world. They are hugging a demon.

So is disregarding the Bible for a supposed real experience really worth it all? Peter clearly disagreed. “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” (2Pet. 1:16-19).

In other words, Peter saw Christ glorified and transfigured. He saw it with his own eyes and heard the voice from heaven. But, he confessed, We yet have a more sure thing than what I saw. We have the written word of God.

Jesus so depended on the scriptures that when hanging on the cross He was reciting the 22nd Psalm and hanging onto His Father. In the desert while fasting 40 days, the scripture was His constant meditation and His daily sustenance. Using the Old Testament He put Satan to flight. Christ, who could have spoken new scripture, relied on the firm written word that His Spirit had inspired holy men to produce down through the ages.

A religious experience holds no weight apart from the Bible. Speaking in an unknown tongue is no basis for a relationship with Jesus. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” (Ps. 19:7).

Hearing a departed family member contradicts everything the Bible says. Therefore it is false and of the devil.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Happy 7-07-07

Happy Sabbath, world! And happy 7-07-07!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Was Jesus ever rude?

This question depends on your definition of rude! Is it rude to be wakened when you are snoozing at the wheel? It sure feels rude! But it is actually proper and necessary for your safe keeping.

“He [Jesus] was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul.” Steps to Christ, p. 12. Yet He never spared reproof when it was necessary.

Christ wielded the sword of truth. “Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled.” (Is. 10:33). With Jehu-like strength He shot His arrows of conviction straight through the hypocritical leaders’ hearts.

Was He rude for doing that? If felt rude! But what is being rude? Carelessly injuring others for selfish purposes? Christ did not do anything carelessly. The rigidness and unmerciful condemnation that the “good people” cast at Him, He was simply reflecting back on them. “You want to be loveless? I’ll show you lack of love.” “You want to be accusational, with moral-sounding subtle accusations? I’ll accuse you.” “You think I’m unfair because I don’t show you a sign? You’ll never get anything from Me.”

But is that rude? If the people would freely choose to be used by Satan to try to trap and embarrass the Son of God, He would make them the medium of His message back to the devil. Would they treat the ministry of love by Jesus as nothing and then capitalize on His refusal to fight the Romans? Then they would clearly know that God was displeased.

So, yes, Jesus sounded rude on occasion. Sounded rude. He did speak harshly. But that’s what the people deserved and needed. Yet, He waited a long time to be pointed with them. The unbelief of Israel, of its leaders or of the curious multitudes who pretended to love Him He did not immediately publicly rebuke, but bore patiently with them. But when they didn’t respond to the drawing power of His love He had to resort to more desperate measures to get to their hearts. He did what He had always done in the Old Testament. “The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, He shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: He shall cry, yea, roar; He shall prevail against His enemies. I have long time holden My peace; I have been still, and refrained Myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once.” (Is. 42:13,14). Their self-satisfaction and self-sufficiency was so detestable to Christ’s spirit. “Thou hast made Me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied Me with thine iniquities.” (Is. 43:24).

But He has had only one purpose in His reproofs—to sift out those who genuinely love Him and want to follow His lead, and to try again for the others later. “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” (Is. 42:16). His strong language of rebuke and correction was meant to shock the conscience and awaken the soul. The design was to end up with meek worshipers, happy children, recipients of heaven’s wonderful gifts of submission and surrender and great peace.

These characteristics Jesus diligently looked for as a sign to turn away His discipline. Alert, with keen eye, He was ready at any moment to comfort the humbled, sorrowful ones.

This approach He often took with His disciples. “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” “O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves…” But these uncultured men were the quickest to accept His corrections and reproofs. After the big defection of thousands of followers, Jesus could turn to the twelve and ask, “Will ye also go away?” And Peter could answer for himself and for the others, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Jn. 6:67-69). Christ’s discipline hadn’t gone to waste on them.

No one better than the Prince of peace knows how to bring us peace. No one better knows our hearts, the mischief and the loyalty, the desire to obey His commandment and the inherent weakness. So He lovingly dispenses of His justice, ever and always mingling mercy with the punishments, and quick to send relief when His discipline has resulted in its intended purpose. We’ve turned from our rebellion and are ready to accept His invitation, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

No better Lord is there to serve. No fairer God is there than ours. Let us be glad and rejoice that we are privileged to be called by His name.

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Heb. 12:11).

“For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” (Heb. 3:14).

“Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (Jas. 5:11).