Called Out Of Darkness

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My Musings – “The future ain’t what it used to be.”  (Yogi Berra).  It certainly isn’t.  Hopelessly lost and separated from our Creator, with no hope for reconciliation by our own efforts.  Facing an eternity apart from God in Hell.  No Exit. His righteousness demanded it.  That was our future.

Where there was no hope, God provided hope.  Where there was no way, God provided a way.  The possibility of being reunited with our Creator because He made it possible for us to be a new creation through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.  His grace satisfied His righteousness.  The opportunity to spend eternity reunited with God in Heaven.  This can be our future.

My Advice – Which future do we want?  This should be an obvious choice.  Yet so many stumble over it.  Yes, Jesus is the only way, because His sacrifice was the only possible way to satisfy God’s righteousness.  But whoever calls on His name will be saved.  He’s calling us out of darkness.  Will we respond?

Who Wants To Be A Millennium Heir?

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My Musings – Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?  It was a crazy popular game show for awhile.  There were levels (questions to answer) you had to work (win) your way up, in order to win the million.  Each level more difficult than the one before.  If you got stumped, you had ” lifelines” you could use for help.  But use them wisely, because you want to save all you can for the more difficult questions.  Answer incorrectly, and you could lose some of what you had already won.  Remember?

Just for the fun of it once, I came up with a version of the game called “Who Want’s To Be A Millennium Heir?” that I used for a “final exam” in my adult Sunday School class.  It went like this.

MILLENNIUM “HEIR MILE” REWARDS

7  MILLENNIUM HEIR
6  GOLD
5  SILVER
4  COSTLY STONES
3  WOOD
2  HAY
1  STRAW
0  FOUNDATION

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15, NIV 1978)

MILLENNIUM HEIR RULES

1. You must build upon the foundation – Jesus Christ.

2. If you don’t build upon this foundation, it won’t matter how many “heir miles” your works might otherwise earn you. You can never earn your way to becoming a millennium heir.

3. Each time you answer correctly, your “good works” will advance you to the next “heir mile” reward.

4. If you answer incorrectly the quality of all “heir miles” earned will be tested by fire. For some you may suffer loss. Some may survive and you will receive those rewards.

5. However, even if you suffer the loss of all of your “heir miles” you are still a millennium heir if you built on the foundation Jesus Christ.

MILLENNIUM HEIR LIFELINES

Fellowship – With this lifeline you may poll the “audience,” (the Sunday School class) for their input.

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews10:25, NIV 1978).

Prayer – With this lifeline you can phone “home” for guidance. In answer to your “prayer”, you gain discernment (as moderator I took away two wrong answers).

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7, NIV 1984).

The Word – With this lifeline you can look up your answer in the Scriptures (better bring your Bible to class).

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, NIV 1978).

Accountability – With this lifeline you may ask a fellow-believer (select a class member) for their help.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV 1984).

We had fun with it (well, at least I did).  Here is a sample of one “game” of Millennium Heir we played.

Foundation Question

According to Ephesians 2:8&9, salvation is obtained by what?

A. Good Works.
B. Grace.
C. Wealth.
D. Accident.

Straw Question

The tenth commandment, found in Exodus 20:17 is?

A. Thou shalt not talk out loud in a convent.
B. Thou shalt not convict without two or three witnesses.
C. Thou shalt not covet.
D. Irrelevant.

Hay Question

According to 1 Timothy 6:10, what is the root of all evil?

A. Gingivitis.
B. Money.
C. The ACLU.
D. The love of money.

Wood Question

A fundamental point about wealth in the parable of the rich fool is?

A. It should be hoarded, because we never know when we’ll need it.
B. It should be wasted, there is more where that came from, God has deep pockets.
C. It should be spent on pleasure and comfort. Eat, drink and be merry.
D. Material possessions cannot provide real or lasting security.

Costly Stones Question

In the parable of the sower, found in Matthew 13, greed is represented by which seed?

A. Seed sown along the path.
B. Seed sown in rocky places.
C. Seed sown amongst thorns.
D. Seed sown on good soil.

Silver Question

The parable of the rich fool teaches?

A. Nothing, it’s just for entertainment.
B. We must be careful about our attitudes concerning God’s blessings.
C. All rich people are evil.
D. Remodeling old barns is hazardous to your health.

Gold Question

The proper response to material blessings is?

A. I want more.
B. Be thankful and be a good steward.
C. I’ll keep them all to myself.
D. Now I have all that I need to be happy.

Millennium Heir Question

In the parable the rich fool’s responses to material blessings was?

A. Right on target.
B. The real problem.
C. A symptom of an underlying problem.
D. His final answer.

My Advice – Okay, so the game is a bit corny.  But it makes several key points.  The “game” we are playing in this life is really “The Game of Life.”  What happens in this life determines whether we become a millennium heir.  We must accept Christ as Savior.  That’s foundational.  If we don’t get that right, we will go directly to hell, we will not pass the pearly gates, we will not collect eternal life.  There is no get out of hell free card.  Christ it the only way, meaning He has the “Monopoly.”  Take the chance, you won’t be “Sorry.”

 

 

Not All That Glitters

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My Musings – Wow!  Talk about being intolerant, insensitive, and lacking political correctness.  Paul goes on to say, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?” (Galatians 3:1-5).  In other words, it is grace alone through faith in Christ alone.  Any variation from this is a perversion of the Gospel.  It is, in fact, no gospel at all.  This message was not an invention of Paul.  Jesus Himself said that He was the only way.  Other “gospels” and religions may seem attractive, “shiny” and have a form of Godliness, but in the end lead to eternal death.  “Not all that glitters is gold.”

But why would Paul, or any other Christian be so harsh.  Notice that Paul is not expressing these sentiments to people who hear and reject the Gospel of Christ.  For them he has pity and sorrow.   But to those who try to lead others astray, he has no such feelings.  It is one thing to be responsible for our own poor choices and decisions that affect only our soul, it is quite another to lead other souls astray.  Paul allows no quarter for them.

My Advice – I know this post will not be popular with a great many.  They might even make the same claims against Christianity.  But if Paul was right, if Jesus was right, the stakes are high.  If they were wrong, there are no stakes at all.  Those are the only two possibilities – they were either right or they were wrong.  You owe it to yourself to investigate the claims for yourself and make your own judgment.  In the end, the decision is yours.  But let it be an informed decision.

 

What Are We Seeking?

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My Musings – To seek first means to give priority (something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives).  Immediately prior to this verse, Jesus was talking about the things of this life that people give attention to – food, shelter, clothing.  Things that most would consider necessities, although there are still way too many that lack all of these in sufficient quantity (if at all) to not be considered in want.  Others have much more than they need.  Few are content with what they have.  But no matter what category one falls into, Jesus insists that there is something much more important – our relationship with our Creator.

Our life here on earth is fleeting (a mere mist of vapor) and of little consequence when compared to all of eternity before us.  But what we do with Christ while here on earth has tremendous consequences in terms of what eternity will be for us.  The lack of  the so-called necessities of this life will pale in comparison to an eternal separation from God in the torment of Hell (as politically incorrect as it is to even mention such a thing) if we never get our priorities straight while here. Likewise, the accumulation of things in this this life will be soon forgotten if the face of such suffering.  Whether a life of abundance or want, all need Christ.  If you seek Him, He (and His Kingdom and Righteousness) will be found.  In His Kingdom, all these things will be given as well.

My Advice –  Seek Him (Christ) while He may be found, because He came to seek (and to save) you. This is not me speaking in arrogance, although many will still believe so.  It is me speaking in compassion to those who do not have a relationship with Christ.  Because once upon a time, I was there as well.

The Heirs & The Disinherited

THE HEIRSTo him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:6b-7)

Overcomers – The heirs of new earth are the overcomers of the old earth. This includes all those addressed at the end of each of the seven letters to the churches (Revelation Chapters 2 and 3) as well as the martyrs who overcome through the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11).(1) As John pointed out in his first epistle, all true believers are overcomers (1 John 5:4–5). So, this promise is not just for the spiritually elite. Because we are the children of God, we shall inherit all things.(2)

Water of Life – People living in most developed countries do not think much about water. But it was a major concern in John’s day. No doubt John himself, working in the Roman mines, knew the meaning of thirst. Tortured saints throughout the ages would certainly identify with this wonderful promise from the Lord – free and abundant living water for all.(3) As is quite evident, this refers not to physical thirst but to a desire for spiritual blessings,(4) a thirst that will be quenched.

He Will Be My Son – This is the only place in John’s writings where son is used to refer to the relationship of man to God.(5) This expresses the intimate relationship between the saints and God in the eternal state.(6) An intimacy not known since the fall.

THE DISINHERITED“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

The Overcome –In contrast to those who were overcomers (heirs of the Kingdom), Revelation 21:8 describes the people who were overcome by sin and would not trust the Lord (the disinherited). The worldly consider Christians to be losers, when in reality it is the unbelievers who are the losers.(7)

How They Are Described – Eight epithets (not an exhaustive list) are used to describe the doomed and the damned: the fearful (cowardly); the unbelieving (faithless, untrustworthy); the vile (abominable, polluted); murderers; fornicators; sorcerers (those who practice magic arts, closely connected with idolatry and magic) and; idolaters.(8) This passage is not affirming salvation by works. Rather it refers to works as an indication of whether one is saved or not. Naturally there will be many in Heaven who were once guilty of these sins (as Paul said, as some of you were) before they were converted, but who turned from them when they trusted Christ as their Savior. Though works are the evidence of salvation (good works) or lack of it (evil works), they are not the basis or ground of it. Similar lists of sins are found elsewhere in Revelation (Revelation 21:27; 22:15).(9)

The fearful are the cowardly, people who did not have the courage to stand up for Christ (see Matthew 10:32–33). The word abominable means polluted, and refers to those who indulged in sin and were thus polluted in mind, spirit, and body (2 Corinthians 7:1). The other characteristics mentioned in Revelation 21:8 need no special explanation, except to note that all of them would be true of the beast’s followers (note Revelation 17:4, 6; 18:3, 9; 19:2).(10) Note also that God puts cowards at the head of the list. When people are afraid to take a stand for Christ, they are liable to commit any kind of sin as a result. They are the fearful, or the cowards who would not confess Christ, preferring and choosing to go along with the crowd who practiced sin.(11)

Eternal Thirst – They will be with Satan and the two beasts (the anti-Christ and the false prophet) in the lake of fire and brimstone for all eternity. This is the second death (Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14). These are those whose names are not written in the book of life (Revelation 20:15).

Up Next – The Holy City.

__________________

References

  1. Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (pp. 1914–1916). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Walvoord, J. F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 985). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 564). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  6. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 985). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  7. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  8. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 21:8). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  9. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 985). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  10. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  11. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 856). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

The Great White Throne Judgment

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GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENTThen I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)

The Throne – This Great White Throne apparently differs from the throne that is mentioned more than 30 times in Revelation beginning with Revelation 4:2. Earth and sky fled from His (the one sitting on the throne) presence, and there was no place for them.(1) It is a great throne, because Continue reading “The Great White Throne Judgment”

A.D. – After Death

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Destination of Departed Souls – And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. (Revelation 20:1-3)

A variety of terms were used in the foregoing discussion which speaks of the afterlife and the destination of departed souls. Many terms are used interchangeably, yet they are not necessarily referring to the same thing. Following is a discussion of the main terms. Continue reading “A.D. – After Death”