Monthly Archives: January 2022

Moving

For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God … But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:10, 16)

My wife, June, and I are in the process of moving exchanging the heat of Texas for the cold of Nebraska. Personally, I do not mind the heat. I am a native Texan, so the heat does not bother me. My wife, on the other hand, is a native Nebraskan and she finds the Texas summers oppressive. Growing up in Texas and living in different parts of this great state, I have experienced the frigid cold winters of the Panhandle to the muggy humidity of San Antonio summers. I have concluded that I prefer the heat to the cold. However, I have survived cold winters – I was much younger then – so I am sure I can acclimate to the Nebraska winters.

We have bought a house where we are moving, but we will not move into it until the spring. I know June is excited about the move. All her family is there and she is looking forward to caring for her aging parents. I am also getting excited about the move to exchange the noise and traffic of the Dallas metroplex for the peace and quiet of a smaller town – with really nice people, I must add.

Our new house is more spacious in square footage, and it comes with a larger yard – more for me to mow – for about the same amount of money that we will get for our current house. An added bonus is the basement that comes with the house that is not included in the total square footage of the house. June says I can have the basement all to myself. There is a lot of space there for books, study, and hobbies.

Even though I have some regret about leaving my beloved State of Texas, I am excited about the move and our new home. Already my mind is whirling with ideas of what we will do to make the new house our home.

As I think on these things, I remember Jesus’ promise of a new home with Him. “In my Father’s [abode] are many [dwelling places]: 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, emphasis mine).

As excited as I am about our new home in Nebraska, I look forward to that new heavenly home with greater anticipation. June and I have seen pictures of our new Nebraska house, and we have been told about it by those who have been inside, but is not the same as seeing it for ourselves. If that is true for an earthly house, imagine the much greater anticipation for our heavenly home! What will it be like? Will there be houses there? If so, how will they be furnished? Perhaps, because of the perfect environment, no protective structures will be needed. We have houses here to protect us from the elements and from those who would harm us. We will not need protection from the elements there and there are no thieves to break in and steal.[1] Will we need beds upon which to sleep? Seeing that our glorified bodies will be like the body of Jesus,[2] will we even require sleep?

The Apostle John gave us a glimpse of that heavenly place,[3] but even his words cannot fully express the glory of our eternal home. We have no pictures of our heavenly home, and those who have been privileged to get a sneak peek cannot adequately describe it. Paul experienced the “third heaven” and, speaking of himself in third person, said this: “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4, emphasis mine).

Abraham experienced something similar, but from an earthly perspective. God called him out of a familiar land to a land unknown to him with the promise that He would make him a great nation.[4] Except for the promised heir, Isaac, Abraham never saw the promise of God fulfilled. Yet the Bible says, “And [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and [He] counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). Speaking of Abraham, the writer of the book of Hebrews remarks, “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Abraham had no evidence other than the voice of God. God’s Word was not recorded with pen on scroll for him to study and ponder. He did not have the descriptions from those who had been there. Still, he believed, and God “counted it to him for righteousness.”

We have more evidence than Abraham. We have been given glimpses, although dim, of the greater home that awaits us. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). June and I will be moving to Nebraska pretty soon, but Jesus may call us to move home with Him before then. I prefer the latter.

If you are unsure of where you will spend eternity, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Matthew 6:20

[2]  Philippians 3:21

[3]  Revelation 21-22

[4]  Genesis 12:1-3;3:15-16; 15:4-6, 18

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Hell

And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. (Luke 16:23)

No one wants to hear about hell, but someone needs to talk about it. Why not me? I do not write this blog to be popular or become famous. If anything, dealing with topics such as this may win my place in infamy. That is okay; I will take my chances.

Most people largely ignore hell. They ask, “How can a loving God send anyone to hell?” Indeed, God sends no one to hell. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emphasis mine). In fact, when God unleashes the full force of His wrath upon the world during the seven-year Tribulation, He provides 144,000 witnesses to preach the Gospel to all nations.[1] He brings two Old Testament prophets from the dead to preach repentance and perform miracles in Jerusalem.[2] If that is not enough, God sends an angel to proclaim the Gospel to all of the world.[3] God does not want to send anyone to hell. He gives mankind every opportunity to avoid that place. (That is the main purpose of this blog.) However, it is up to every individual to make that choice for themselves. God does not force His affection on anyone.

If hell is not real, why would God go to such extremes – like taking on human form[4] to die on a cross for our sins[5] – to keep us out of that place? The Bible speaks more about hell than it speaks about heaven. Yet, some scoffers foolishly mock claiming that they look forward to going to hell so that they can party with all of their friends. Little do they know that they will suffer hell alone. (More on that later.) Still others, while accepting the fact of hell, reject the eternal nature of hell. Obviously, they have misinterpreted the multiple times that Jesus referred to hell as a place of “everlasting fire.”[6] While some may acknowledge that hell is eternal, they believe a sentence to hell is not. They believe that those that go to hell will only spend enough time there to pay for their sins and then cease to exist. However, that amounts to a lot of wishful thinking with no basis in Scripture.

In the Old Testament, “hell” often translates the Hebrew word she’ôl, which is the abode of the dead. Sometimes it is translated as “the grave” or “the pit,” and it is a place of no return. It is not clear to me, but it seems that she’ôl refers to “life after death,” and it could be either bad or good. King David expressed this idea at the death of his son by Bathsheba.[7] When the child was sick, David fasted and prayed unto God for the child’s life, but when the child died, he washed, dressed in his kingly apparel, and ended his fast. When asked about this seemingly odd behavior, David said, “But now he [the child] is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:23, emphasis mine). David understood that there was life after death, and his anticipation of that event was not cause for dread; rather, David looked forward to that day.

She’ôl also has a not-so-pleasant side to it. In describing Israel’s reward for idolatry, Moses records God’s plan. “And he [God] said, I will hide my face from them [Israel], I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them” (Deuteronomy 32:20-23, emphasis mine). While the language may be figurative (I take it literally), it describes the extent of God’s wrath against sin, and it is not pretty.

We see, then, that she’ôl, the abode of the dead, has both a good and a bad side. Jesus confirmed this idea when He recounted the death of a rich man and Lazarus.[8] Some assume that this was one of Jesus’ parables, but a close inspection reveals that Jesus relayed this as an actual account. Lazarus died as did the unnamed rich man, but they ended up in two different locations. Lazarus died “and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried” (Luke 16:22). Albert Barnes points out that “Burial was thought to be an honor, and funerals were, as they are now, often expensive, splendid, and ostentatious. This is said of the rich man to show that he had “every” earthly honor, and all that the world calls happy and desirable.”[9]

That the rich man was buried also expresses the finality of, at least, his earthly life. However, that was not his end. “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:23, emphasis mine). “Hell” here translates the Greek word hadēs which is equivalent to the Hebrew she’ôl. Two regions of the abode of the dead are expressed here: “Abraham’s bosom” and “torments.”

“Torments” is what we normally understand as “hell.” Notice that the rich man possessed consciousness. He could see Abraham and Lazarus “afar off.” However, Lazarus seems to be unaware of the rich man’s suffering. It appears that part of the torture of those in hell is seeing those who are enjoying heaven. At the same time, those in heaven remain unaware of those suffering in hell. Heaven would not be so heavenly knowing the fate of friends and loved ones suffering in hell.

Jesus described the rich man’s end as a place of fire. “And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24, emphasis mine). Some deny the fire of hell, but Jesus never did.[10] Notice that the rich man retains his selfish nature in hell. He dares to ask Abraham to send Lazarus to relieve him of some of his suffering. Later, he asks that Lazarus be sent to preach to his five brothers (vv. 27-28). He does not care about the rest of the lost, only his brothers. Sinners in hell do not change their sinful ways.

Finally, Jesus does not mention others suffering along with the rich man. He appears to be alone and isolated. So much for those who think they will party in hell with their friends. When one rejects God’s free offer of salvation, that one alone bears the responsibility for that choice. It is important to point out that nothing in this account describes the rich man as a particularly wicked or sinful person. Nor does it portray Lazarus as a particularly upright man. However, by implication, the rich man took no thought about God, while Lazarus depended on no one else but God. The rich man counted on his riches and thereby rejected God – not overtly – he probably attended synagogue regularly – but in his attitude of self-sufficiency.

Hell is a real place and the final destination of many. Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait [i.e., “narrow”] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14, emphasis mine). Sadly, Jesus makes it clear that the majority of people will end up in hell.

Many believe that at “judgement day” their good deeds will outweigh the bad and they will gain access into heaven by their good works. They correctly conclude that their deeds will be judged, but the standard to which they will be evaluated is the perfect, sinless life of Jesus Christ, and all will fall short of that standard. Everyone’s life is recorded in the annals of heaven and everyone will give an account. John the Revelator writes, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works … And death and hell [hadēs] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:12, 14-15, emphasis mine). “The lake of fire” is the place we understand as “hell,” and it is eternal.

The question remains. Which way do you choose, the broad way or the narrow way? Do you want to follow the majority on the way to hell or choose the narrow way that leads to eternal life? The choice is yours and yours alone. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, emphasis mine). Does that seem narrow? It is! If you are on the broad way with the majority, you can get off of that road to destruction. Please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Revelation 7; 14:1-5

[2]  Revelation 11:1-14

[3]  Revelation 14:6-7

[4]  John 1:14

[5] Philippians 2:5-8

[6]  Matthew 18:8-9; 25:46; Mark 3:29; 9:43-48

[7]  2 Samuel 12:1-25

[8]  Luke 16:19-31

[9]  Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible (Published in 1847-85; public domain.)

[10]  Matthew 3:12; 5:22; 7:19; 13:40, 42, 50; 18:8-9; 25:41, et al

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What’s Ahead?

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: (Isaiah 46:9-10)

We are there -2022! I would wish everyone a happy New Year, however the prospect of that seems remote at best. I do not mean to discourage, but if you believe this year will be better than last year or the year before, I fear you will be sadly disappointed. I would encourage you not to allow the circumstances of the coming year determine the measure of your happiness. Rather, focus on your relationship with the Lord and allow Him to fill your heart with joy. Happiness waxes and wanes with circumstances, but joy endures all circumstances.

I am not a pessimist, but I am keenly aware of what is going on in the world and 2022 does not look promising. Fear of the Wuhan Bug continues to grip our nation and the world even though this new Omicron variant is weaker, albeit more transmissible, than previous varieties. Yet, those who supposedly care about our health, along with the complicit and compliant media, continue to propagate the lie that this thing is killing people. Therefore, they continue to push for more “vaccines,” more boosters, more masks, more social distancing and more isolation. The Biden Administration is illegally pressuring businesses of greater than 100 employees to mandate vaccinations for all of their employees as a requirement of employment. However, members of the Biden Administration and members of Congress are not required to comply with similar mandates. There is also the matter of illegal aliens crossing our southern borders without any vaccination requirements. Something seems strangely wrong with this picture! Then there is the question of the efficacy of these “vaccines.” People fully vaccinated and “boosted” can still catch the bug, so they are still encouraged to mask up and maintain social distances. This issue will not improve and only promises to get worse in 2022.

The bug scare has severely impacted our national economy as well as the global economy. Add to that, the Biden Administration took our nation from energy independence to total energy dependence on countries that hate us. However, the damage done is not enough. Further plans await for more pipeline shutdowns, and coal mine closures. It would appear that all these “mistakes” are the result of stupidity, but there are too many and too targeted at our economy to be accidental. No one is that stupid. There are global entities behind the curtain pulling the levers and running the gears determined to eliminate the United States as a world power.

America is no longer the economic and military super power that it once was. We are diminished in the eyes of the world. Russia, China, and Korea no longer fear the United States and demonstrate it by conducting provocative acts with impunity. Iran is ramping up development of their nuclear arsenal with Israel as their primary target. The Middle East is a boiling caldron ready to explode. The players in the Gog and Magog war prophesied by Ezekiel are moving into place. Israel, standing pretty much alone, makes preparations for all out war. They cry, “Peace, peace!” but there is no peace.  

I said earlier, I am not a pessimist. I see what is going on, and I know it will only get worse. However, I also study the Bible and Jesus clearly told us that these days would come. So, when I see all of this, I am encouraged knowing that Jesus promised that He would come for His own to take us to be with Him. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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 14:1-3, emphasis mine).

So, whatever 2022 brings, we who belong to Him can face it fearlessly knowing that, while we may face some troublesome times, we will not face them alone. Furthermore, we have the promise of His soon return to call us home to be with Him. My concern is for those who do not belong to Him. After He calls us home, these bad times we are facing will pale in comparison to what the next seven years will bring. If you are not of His, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

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