No Fear of Death

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

Fear paralyzes the fearful, rendering them ineffective in that thing which they fear. Dictionary.com defines fear as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined;”[1] (emphasis mine). The fact remains that 10% of most things feared or the things over which we worry never come to pass.

A long list of phobias exists which we could examine: fear of height, fear of flying, fear of germs, fear of needles, etc. However, the most ubiquitous fear held by the majority of people is the fear of dying. One can understand the nature of this fear; it is basically the fear of the unknown. What happens when one dies? Is this life all there is? Is there life after death? Do the dead come back in a different form – reincarnation? Are heaven and hell real? If heaven and hell are real, how does one arrive at one place and not the other? Does dying hurt?

For one who believes the Bible and the God of the Bible, death terminates physical life, but the spiritual essence that energizes the soul (the complete person) transitions on to eternity. The eternal destination depends on the spiritual condition of the soul at the time of death, one is either “saved”[2] or “lost.”[3]

Jesus spoke of two men who met death and ended up in different destinations.[4] Prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jews believed that those who died went to the “abode of the dead” known as Sheol. Sheol had two compartments, one for the unrighteous known as “torments” and one for the righteous known as “Abraham’s bosom” or “paradise.” So the two men died, one was rich and the other a beggar. The rich man ended up in the place of torments not because he was rich, but because he was unrighteous, i.e., “lost.” The poor beggar ended up in Abraham’s bosom not because he suffered poverty, but because he was righteous, i.e. “saved.” After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the destination for the “saved” changed to “the presence of the Lord.” The Apostle Paul makes this clear, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8, emphasis mine). The lost still end up in “torments” (“hell”) to await their final destiny in the “lake of fire” that burns forever and ever.[5]

For those who do not have a personal, saving faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, death is a legitimate fear indeed. Some may salve their fear by ignoring, or by choosing to believe that death is the end, or by hoping in reincarnation, or by imagining that they will somehow meld into the vast universe, i.e., “become one with the universe.” However, all of these notions only produce doubt, and the fear remains.

The Christian, on the other hand, should not harbor the fear of death. Death, as Paul reminded us, means that we are absent from the body, but we are present with the Lord in the same place where He resides. For the Christian, there should be no fear of death. In another place, Paul reminds us that, for Christians, our “citizenship” (“our conversation”) is not in this world, but in heaven. “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:20-21, emphasis mine). For the Christian, the “afterlife” promises the possession of a physical body like that of the resurrected Christ in His presence.

I look forward to passing from this rapidly decaying world to be forever in the presence of the One who died in my place to save me from my sin for eternity. I have no fear of death. I realize that while He has me here in this world, I need to serve Him in every task that He lays before me. Then when that day comes, whether by physical death or by translation from this world into His presence in the Rapture, I will enter His courts with joy.

If you fear death or you are insecure about your eternal destiny, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “fear” — https://www.dictionary.com/browse/fear

[2]  Matthew 10:22

[3]  2 Corinthians 4:3

[4]  Luke 16:19-31

[5]  Revelation 20:10, 15

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The Book of Life | Ernie’s Musings

Source: The Book of Life | Ernie’s Musings

I wrote this in 2014, but our Sunday School class this morning enjoyed a lively discussion over the topic, so I thought I would share this article again. The material is still valid today.

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How Long, O Lord?

And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?  (Revelation 6:10)

This scene in heaven takes place shortly after Jesus opens the fifth seal of the seven-sealed scroll.[1] The Tribulation is just beginning. The first seal releases the white horse rider[2] that carries a bow but no arrows. He has a crown and he goes “forth conquering, and to conquer.” Most end-times prophecy teachers believe this one is Antichrist that appears at the beginning of the Tribulation. That he has no arrows for his bow suggests that he conquers through diplomacy. Further confirmation of this comes from the statement that “a crown was given unto him;” he does not take it by force. The Prophet Daniel describes him as the “fourth beast/kingdom”[3] whose kingdom will be unlike any before, and it “shall devour the whole earth.” Daniel’s “beast” – the “little horn” – a.k.a. Antichrist, will “speak great words against the Most High.” Daniel says that he will “wear out the saints,” i.e., the Jews for three and one half years. This will take place at the final three and one half years of the seven-year Tribulation.

In a later vision, Daniel predicts the appearance of Antichrist. “And he [Antichrist] shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [seven years]: and in the midst of the week [after 3 ½ years] he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation [when Christ returns], and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9:27, emphasis mine). Of him the Apostle Paul says, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition [i.e., Antichrist]; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, emphasis mine). Jesus also warned, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains” (Matthew 24:15-16).

So, to recapitulate, Antichrist, the rider on the white horse, comes on the scene and obtains world renown and power by diplomatic means (“speaking great words”). He confirms a peace agreement with Israel (and “with many”), which probably allows for the construction of the third temple (which needs to exist since he is going to desecrate it).[4] This act will begin the seven-year Tribulation. After 3 ½ years, he breaks the covenant, he enters the Temple declaring himself to be god, and initiates what will be the worst persecution of Jews the world has ever known. By the way, this persecution will also include Gentiles that come to faith in Christ during the Tribulation.

The next riders also show up at the beginning of the Tribulation, the first 3 ½ years. The rider on the red horse[5] removes peace from the earth. The rider on the black horse[6] brings global economic collapse. The rider on the pale (green) horse brings famine, plague, and death. The four horse riders represent the first four seals of the seven-seal scroll.

“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-10, emphasis mine). These are the “Tribulation Saints” that come to faith Christ after the Rapture (the “snatching away”) of the Church. Being a follower of Christ during the Tribulation will come at a high cost and many will pay with their lives. Now their souls are with the Savior, but they also see their brothers and sisters in Christ suffering the horrors of the Tribulation on earth. So, they cry, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” And, the Tribulation has only just begun.

We are beginning to see the “signs” of the end-times. Israel, the focal point of end-times prophecy, is ready to institute an unstable government. The players in the Gog and Magog[7] war are staging for battle. Through vaccine and mask mandates for the Wuhan Bug, the world population is being conditioned to blindly obey all orders that come from “above.” The US Government spends money that does not exist in the treasury and justify their foolishness by simply printing more. The “woke cancel culture” systematically undermines or destroys all social norms. Even language has lost all meaning. Violence among people groups is increasing all over the world. The downward spiral of our moral decay removes any trace of hope for a rational thinking person.

It seems that I find myself on a daily basis crying out, “How long, O Lord will You allow things to continue as they are?” Anyone who places their faith and trust in Jesus sees the light at the end of this dark tunnel. That light is the hope of Jesus’ soon coming for His Bride. “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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, emphasis mine). After that comes the seven-year Tribulation, which culminates with the return of Christ to set up His 1000-year reign on earth.[8]

I feel bad for those that will not come to Christ until after the Rapture. Life will be unimaginably difficult for Christians (Jews and Gentiles) living in the Tribulation, if they are not martyred early on. However, Jesus’ reign on earth is the only fix for this sick and broken world. I can only plead to anyone reading this if you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you need to settle that right now. Please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life” and meet Jesus at the Rapture rather than at His Second Coming.

Notes:


[1]  Revelation 5:1

[2]  Revelation 6:2

[3]  Daniel 7:23-25

[4]  Israeli religious leaders claim they have everything they need to build the Third Temple. All they need is the “go ahead” in order to start construction. They claim they can have it built in a matter of months.

[5]  Revelation 6:4

[6]  Revelation 6:5-6

[7]  Ezekiel 38-39

[8]  Revelation 19:11-20:10

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Memorial

memorial-day-wallpaper

And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. (Exodus 3:15)

In the United States, we set aside (consecrate, sanctify, make holy) Memorial Day to commemorate those who paid the ultimate price in the defense and preservation of our freedom. As is common with all “holy” days, the significance of the day wanes after one or two generations lost in habitual and meaningless traditions and mechanical ceremony. True, one will find gatherings here and there in honor of our fallen heroes, but the crowds are usually small and composed mostly of those whose loved ones are entombed beneath the sacred ground. But for the majority of Americans today, Memorial Day is just another excuse for a three-day weekend.

Few veterans of the Second World War survive today, and many veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars are quickly fading away. Our children scarcely remember Desert Storm, nor can they explain the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One may debate the legitimacy of our involvement in the wars since World War II, but the blood spilt and the lives sacrificed in those conflicts remain precious to their Creator and to us. They died, rightly or wrongly, for their country and for our freedom, and it is fitting that we sanctify a day for their memorial.

As our nation rapidly declines in the whirling vortex of moral decay (I can almost hear the sucking sound!), holy days lose their virtue and give way to debauchery. Just this week I read in the online Washington Times that a small display of crosses set up especially for this occasion was taken down after one person found the crosses offensive and complained.[1] Ultimately, things like this result from the nation’s rejection of and enmity with God.

It is interesting that the first time the word “memorial” appears in the Bible, it is in the context of God revealing Himself to Moses. God confronted Moses through the burning bush and commissioned him to liberate His people from Egyptian bondage. After a series of excuses as to why he was not up to the task, “Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:13-14, emphasis mine). The name, יehâyâh (I AM), means “to exist.” God was proclaiming Himself to be the “Self-existing One,” the One Who Is, the eternal One. God specified, “this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations” (v. 15, emphasis mine).

“All generations” means ALL generations. That includes our generation, and our nation, but our nation – our generation – has rejected God. All that God opposes, our nation has embraced and even promoted. Therefore what used to be precious is now held in contempt. What used to be contemptible is now admired. What was shameful now is something for which to be proud. What was kept in secret is now flaunted. Therefore God says:

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. (Isaiah 5:20-25, emphasis mine)

Having forgotten our Memorial – the I AM – nothing is sacred, and Memorial Day simply becomes just another three-day weekend because those who gave their lives for “one nation under God” died for something that is now forgotten, or held in contempt. Yet God always has His remnant. He still has those “who have not bowed the knee to Baal” (1 Kings 19:18; Romans 11:4), and He does not forget His own. For those who remain, Memorial Day retains its sanctity as we remember those who selflessly offered up all that they could give that we might live free, if only for a little while longer. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). The God who spoke those words gave His life that we might live. He also promised, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3).

So, if my musings seem a little cynical (I am not), it is because I cannot obscure the putrid decay I plainly see taking place in our nation. Yet, the same gives me hope because I know what the future holds, and I know the One who holds the future. Jesus is coming back bringing the tree of life “for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2). Men seek the Utopian state, but that will only come when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords reigns supreme upon the earth. That hope turns my cynicism into confidence for what my Memorial has in store. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Notes:


[1]  The Washington Times online: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/24/memorial-day-crosses-for-fallen-soldiers-removed-a/ (accessed 05/25/2016).

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No Harm Done

They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:18)

The final verses of Mark’s Gospel instigate controversy among Bible “scholars,” and many modern translations preface the passage with a warning that “The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.[1] The NIV Study Bible further notes that “Serious doubt exists as to whether these verses belong to the Gospel of Mark. They are absent from important early manuscripts and display certain peculiarities of vocabulary, style and theological content that are unlike the rest of Mark. His Gospel probably ended at 16:8, or its original ending has been lost.”[2]

“Scholars” are the reason we have so many different translations and so much disagreement on which translation is best. I am not averse to higher education. Personally, I enjoy learning and research, especially on matters of the Bible. However, it seems to me that many that achieve the higher degrees lose their grip on reality and rely on the wisdom of man more than the wisdom of God.

When I consider Mark 16:9-20, after having ready Mark’s entire Gospel, I do find the ending somewhat abrupt. It is almost as if Mark completed his Gospel and needed to “wrap it up” in order to get if off to print. (I know. I know! There were no printers in those days.) Most scholars believe that Mark’s was the first Gospel in circulation. The church at the time of the writing was probably no more than 15-30 years old, growing and spreading throughout the Middle East, Asia Minor, and Europe, and there was no written record of the ministry of Christ. As we read Mark’s Gospel, we get the sense that he is moving from one event to the next in the ministry of Jesus. Mark’s is also the shortest of the four Gospels, so the abrupt ending does not surprise me.

The fact that the last 12 verses appear in the text tell me that “The Author,” the Holy Spirit, wanted them there – something the scholars seem to forget. When God says, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11, emphasis mine). Similarly, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). And to answer those who might say that perhaps these were not God’s or Jesus’ words but added later by some human editor, consider the following: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2, emphasis mine). Also, “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32) In addition we find, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19, emphasis mine).

Considering God’s solemn charge not to tamper with His word, I find it difficult to conceive that a human editor, who reverences the Word of God, would take it upon himself to “enhance” it of his own volition. As for those “more reliable early manuscripts,” they come from texts that were rejected by the early church due to their Gnostic origins.[3] They were found in “very good” condition because they were not used.

I have a point to make in defending Mark 16:9-20 and specifically as it relates to verse 18, our opening verse. Concerning “them that believe in me” (v. 17) Jesus says (according to Mark), that “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them” (emphasis mine). Paul proved this after his shipwreck on the island of Melita.[4] In gathering wood for a fire, a viper, attracted to the heat of the fire, attached itself to Paul’s hand. Paul shook the snake into the fire and suffered no harm from the snakebite to the astonishment of the inhabitants of Melita.

Based on Mark 16:18, I believe God protects His children from harm due to no act of their own. Even when we knowingly place ourselves in harmful positions, God will sometimes intervene to protect us, but all according to His purpose for our lives. I strongly advise against acting stupidly just to test God; He may just let you suffer the consequences.

Lately, for obvious reasons, I have been thinking about the hype surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines. I refuse to take the vaccine for several reasons. First of all, I believe God designed our bodies to fight of dangerous pathogens. I also believe that God has our days numbered, and we cannot die until our time comes for God to call us home. There are hundreds of ways to die that do not involve COVID-19, and it is up to God to choose which method He wants to use to take us home.

Those are the foremost reasons I have for not taking the vaccine. Another reason that rates highly is the fact that they are derived from a cell line that came from aborted human fetuses. Most Christians claim to be “pro-life” and are against abortion, and I believe that if they really understood the source of the vaccines, they would not take them. However, I can excuse them due to ignorance. Yet another reason that I will not take the vaccine is that it modifies the recipient’s DNA – God’s programming code that makes you who you are. I do not believe man has arrived at the level of intelligence required to modify God’s programming code.

The reader can investigate these things for himself, but many doctors, virologists, warn that the mRNA vaccine will “disable” a human’s natural immune system rendering them vulnerable to other diseases for which we were once immune. So, in effect, the vaccine is a poison. (Again, I realize my explanation is rather simplistic, but I do not have the space nor the desire to cover it in this article. The information is out there, if you want to look.) Many Christians are happily taking this poison through the ignorance induced by the propaganda put out by our government and the media. I believe, based on Mark 16:18, that Christians taking this poison through ignorance will not be harmed by it. However, those who take it with full knowledge of what it is may suffer the consequences later. Time will tell.

Notes:


[1]  The NIV Study Bible, (Zondervan Corporation, 1985), p. 1530.

[2]  Ibid.

[3]  “Thees, Thous, and Wot Nots” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/05/01/thees-thous-and-wot-nots/ (See especially my response to Dwayne Cartwright’s comment.

[4]  Acts 28:1-6

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