Category Archives: Christianity

Eternal Hell

But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: (Mark 3:29)

Hell seldom comes up as a topic of interest. The notion of hell congers up unpleasant images of souls tortured by unquenchable flames and taunted by merciless devils with pitchforks. Heaven makes a more pleasant topic of conversation. I cannot wait to get there!

So, when a social media contact posted his take on a less-than-eternal nature of hell, I could not help (against my better judgment) to try and briefly correct his erroneous conclusions. I tried to keep it brief, but after his second response, I thought it best to conclude the discussion, and take Paul’s advice to “strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers” (2 Timothy 2:14). These kinds of discussions usually remain unresolved and provide a poor witness to bystanders. (On social media, one can never tell who is “listening.”)

Anyway, this gentleman (I’ll call him Aloysius (“famous warrior”) or Al for short) has apparently labored intensely on the subject of hell and arrived at the conclusion that hell is not eternal. He based his conclusion on the Hebrew word ‛ôlâm and the Greek word aiōnios, both of which are often translated as “forever” or “everlasting.” Al correctly pointed out that both of these words have several shades of meaning. Depending on the context, ‛ôlâm can mean “concealed, vanishing point, eternity, always, or perpetual,” according to Strong’s. Brown-Driver-Briggs’ defines it as “long duration, antiquity, forever, ever, everlasting, evermore, or perpetual.” As for  aiōnios, Strong’s defines it as “perpetual, eternal, everlasting, or forever.” Thayer’s Greek Definitions renders it, “without beginning, without end, never to cease, everlasting.”

Al failed to see the inconsistency in his argument. He defined ‛ôlâm and aiōnios as “eternal” when applied to God or heaven, but temporal when applied to hell. He did not reject the concept of hell, just the idea of an eternal hell. I did not pursue the question as to how he arrived at that conclusion, but perhaps his revulsion to the notion of an eternal damnation conflicted with his idea of a loving God. I understand why someone would feel that way, but we are not in a place to make that decision for God.

The Bible clearly teaches that heaven and hell are real places and they are eternal. All humans will end up in one place or the other for eternity. One verse from Jesus’ own lips easily exposes the contradiction in Al’s argument. In His discourse concerning the separation of the sheep and the goats,[1] Jesus sums up the destiny of both. “And these [goats] shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous [sheep] into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46, emphasis mine). In this verse, aiōnios defines the duration of “punishment” (i.e., hell) and “life.” Seeing that the same word is applied to both, they must mean the same thing. If hell is not eternal then neither is life (i.e., heaven). If heaven is eternal, then so must be hell. Keep in mind that this verse is in the same context, so the word cannot have different meanings.

Related to aiōnios is the Greek word aiōn, which means “an age, perpetuity, continuing, or everlasting.” This word is often translated as “for ever” in the King James Version (KJV). When rendered as such, aiōn is usually preceded by the preposition eis, which means “to or into.” Together, eis aiōn could be translated “into the ages,” “into perpetuity,” or “to eternity.”

The Book of the Revelation explains the eternal nature of hell. In the Fourteenth Chapter, those that take the Mark of the Beast are condemned to eternal hell.[2] “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:11, emphasis mine). The repletion is emphatic, εις αιωνας αιωνων – “into the ages of the ages.” Satan, the Beast (Antichrist), and the False Prophet earn the same reward. “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10, emphasis mine). Again, the eternal nature of hell is described: εις αιωνας αιωνων – “into the ages of the ages.” Then those who reject Christ will be judged at the Great White Throne.[3] “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15, emphasis mine).

I understand Al’s desire that hell be temporary. That those who go there stay just long enough to pay their debt and get vaporized. I do not cherish the thought of anyone going to that place even for one minute. The Bible tells us that “God is love,”[4] and that “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). However, God is eternal – without beginning and without end. Therefore, when we offend the eternal God, we offend Him eternally, and the punishment, therefore, must be of eternal consequences.

The Bible says that we have all offended God. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). However, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, emphasis mine). The eternal God took on human flesh[5] and shed His precious, perfect blood to cover our sins. His sacrifice provides for us the eternal atonement, covering, to satisfy our eternal offense against Eternal God. But we have the choice to believe or disbelieve, to accept or reject. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

Al is wrong. Hell is eternal. Please do not go there. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Matthew 25:31-46

[2]  Revelation 14:9-11

[3]  Revelation 20:11-15

[4]  1 John 4:8

[5]  John 1:14; Philippians 2:5-11

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Why the Resurrection Matters

He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, (Luke 24:6)

Christmas and Easter (I prefer “Resurrection Day”) are the two most important days on the Christian calendar with Resurrection Day being, arguably, the most important of the two. One might argue that we could not have the Resurrection without the Birth, but the Birth without the Resurrection would render both insignificant.

Jesus’ birth came like the birth of any other baby. The Gospel writer Luke records the event taking place in a humble animal shelter visited only by lowly shepherds. However, Luke points out an important fact that is summarily overlooked by most readers. Luke says that, “while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered” (Luke 2:6, emphasis mine). So, apparently, Joseph and Mary had been in Bethlehem a few days before the time of her delivery. Luke does not say, but it seems reasonable that in Bethlehem there were ladies who, seeing a young woman ready to give birth, would have offered their services as midwives. That is the way they did it in those days. Regardless, the birth was no different than any other. The conception nine months prior was the “miracle.” At that time, God planted His seed in Mary’s womb without human aid.

So Jesus came into the world and “dwelt among us”[1] and “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). He grew up like any other Jewish boy and probably learned carpentry from His earthly father, Joseph. At the age of 30,[2] the age at which priests enter service,[3] Jesus started His three-year earthly ministry. We know from the four Gospel accounts that His ministry ended with His death on the cross. He was buried in a borrowed tomb and rose on the third day.

But what if the resurrection never happened? Paul put it quite succinctly when he said, “if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). If Jesus did not rise from the grave, His death for our sins is of no avail. We have no hope of eternal life, and, worse, our destiny is in hell. That explains why unbelievers live for this life alone because, for them, this life is all there is. They reject the concept of hell and prefer the idea that death ends it all, or that it begins a new cycle through reincarnation.

Many arguments against the resurrection of Jesus exist that have a long history from the very beginning. Some say that Jesus did not die on the cross but only “swooned” and revived in the cool dampness of the tomb, rolled the two-ton stone away and walked out. That is a silly theory when one considers the beating, torture, and flogging Jesus received before being nailed to the cross. Also the Roman soldiers who crucified Him were expert executioners and were familiar with death. Had they suspected that He “swooned,” they would have broken His legs like they did with the other two victims.[4] These were professionals; they knew death. Then, to ensure His death, one of the soldiers ran his spear into his side and punctured the pericardium.[5]  

Let us say, for argument’s sake, that this one they failed to recognize and Jesus did indeed pass out. Even if He did revive in the cool tomb, the loss of blood from the beatings and flogging, not to mention the puncturing of his heart sac, would have left Him too weak roll away the heavy stone – one that took several men to move – by Himself.

Another argument suggests that Jesus’ disciples overpowered the Roman guard posted at the tomb.[6] This too is a silly argument. All four Gospels record how the disciples went into hiding at Jesus’ arrest. They feared for their lives. It seems unlikely that these frightened men, most of them fishermen and at least one un-calloused tax collector, would dare to take on battle-hardened professional Roman soldiers. However, this fabrication spread from the very beginning. Matthew records that an angel came to roll back the stone and the soldiers on watch were scared stiff.[7] The soldiers, knowing the consequence (death) for failing in their responsibility to keep the tomb secure, went to the chief priests, rather than their leaders, hoping to get a sympathetic hearing about the empty tomb. They made a good choice as the Jewish religious leaders paid them off and covered for them as long as they would spread the lie that the disciples had stolen the body.[8]

Still another argument insists that the women that went to the tomb on Sunday morning were so grief-stricken that they failed to recognize Jesus’ tomb and went to the wrong sepulcher which was empty. This argument simply rejects what Scripture clearly reports. Three of the four Gospels record that the women witnessed the tomb where Jesus was laid.[9] John, who was present at the crucifixion along with Jesus’ mother and the other women, does not say, but it stands to reason that he would have accompanied them to the tomb.

Jesus rose from the dead. If that were not true, the Jews, because of their hatred for Him, only needed to exhume the body and present it to the world, but they had no body. Men have tried and failed to show Jesus’ remains, but they cannot.

Jesus rose from the dead. He conquered death, and because He conquered death, we have the assurance that our sins are covered and we have eternal life with him. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept [died]. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:19-22, emphasis mine). “For if by one man’s [Adam] offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [Jesus] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s [Adam] disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Jesus] shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:17-19, emphasis mine).

Because Jesus conquered death, we can have the assurance of eternal life with Him. That is why the resurrection matters. If you are not sure where you stand before Jesus, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  John 1:14

[2]  Luke 3:23

[3]  Numbers 4:3

[4]  John 19:32-33

[5]  John 19:34

[6]  Matthew 27:65-66

[7]  Matthew 28:2-4

[8]  Matthew 28:11-15

[9]  Matthew 27:61; Mark 15:47; Luke 23:55

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Victorious Entrance

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:11-16)

This Sunday, March 28, celebrates Palm Sunday when we commemorate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem in the final week of His earthly ministry. We term this event as the “Triumphal Entry,” but in many respects, the term is a misnomer.

Daniel predicted the event to the very day of its occurrence. “Seventy weeks [70 x 7 years, or 490 years] are determined upon thy people [Israel or the Jews] and upon thy holy city [Jerusalem], to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness [beginning with the Millennial reign of Messiah], and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy [Messiah]. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem [decreed by Artaxerxes Longimanus, 444 BC] unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks [7 x 7 or 49 years], and [plus] threescore and two weeks [62 x 7 or 434 years; 49 + 434 = 483 years]: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined” (Daniel 9:24-26, emphasis mine). Daniel divides the 490 years (70 weeks) into three segments of 49, 434, and 7 years. The first segment began when Artaxerxes Longimanus issued the fourth decree to rebuild Jerusalem with its walls in 444 BC, and ended in 395 BC when the project was completed – 49 years.[1] The next segment encompassed the 400+ “silent years” until Jesus, Messiah, entered into Jerusalem. Four hundred eighty three (483) years were fulfilled at that time and the final segment of seven years remains to be fulfilled. At the end of the 483 years, to the very day, Jesus, Messiah, was “cut off” at the cross.

The prophet, Zechariah, predicted that the Messiah would present Himself riding on a donkey. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9, emphasis mine). All four Gospel writers record this event from their unique perspectives.[2] Most Bibles that use sub-title divisions of chapters title this event as the “Triumphal Entry.” However, Jesus did not enter Jerusalem as conquering king. He presented Himself as the Melek Shâlêm, the King of Peace. A conquering king would have presented himself with great pomp and ceremony,[3] riding on a white charger followed by his conquering armies, parading the spoils of his conquests.

Jesus entered humbly as the King of Peace. His week would end with a tortuous, humiliating death on a Roman cross. From a human perspective, that hardly qualifies as a triumph. However, the following Sunday, the earth shook[4] as Jesus ripped apart the chains of death and conquered man’s final enemy.[5] “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). Yet, we still die physically, but our spirit lives on. “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). One day, even physical death will be lost even to the memory. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Revelation 20:14). Our present bodies (whether alive or dead) will be transformed into eternal bodies like the body of the resurrected Christ. “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we [who are living at the time] shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:50-53, emphasis mine).

Jesus conquered death at His resurrection, but He has yet to enter Jerusalem in triumph. Our starting verse above, Revelation 19:11-16, describes His real Triumphal Entry. He will enter Jerusalem from His departure point on the Mount of Olives riding on a white horse – not a donkey this time. He will be followed by His heavenly hosts (angelic armies) and by the spoils of His victory, His saints, all riding white horses and dressed in white robes – no weapons in hand. When His foot touches Earth, the Mount of Olives will split in two,[6] half to the north and half to the south. From there He will travel north to the Jezreel Valley, for the Battle of Armageddon. That too is a misnomer, because it will be no battle at all. “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19:15, emphasis mine). That “sword” out of His mouth is His Word. He will speak and the “battle” will be over. “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one” (Zechariah 14:9).

Now, that is a Triumphal Entry!

The current events of our world signal that the time of Jesus’ Victorious Entrance is soon approaching. He will come for His Bride, the Church, at any moment; although we do not know when. However, if the signs indicate that His return is near, that means the catching up of His Bride is even closer. Soon after that, Daniel’s final week, the last seven years known as the Tribulation, will begin. Those who are not snatched away by Jesus will remain on earth to suffer through the judgments of God like at no other time in world history. If you are not sure where you stand with Jesus, you can escape that awful time by putting your trust in Him as your Savior. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  John F Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary- Old Testament, (SP Publications, 1985), p.1363.

[2]  Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19

[3]  “The Triumphal Entry,” — https://erniecarrasco.com/2019/04/14/the-triumphal-entry/

[4]  Matthew 28:2

[5]  1 Corinthians 15:26

[6]  Zechariah 14:4

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Marked

[Christ] In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

When you were born, the hospital staff (assuming you were born in a hospital) employed a system of identification for you and your parents to prevent confusion of parent and baby. One such system uses four identical wrist bands with identical numbers. One band goes on the mother, one on the father, and the baby gets one on the wrist and one on the ankle. Such a system ensures that the baby goes home with the correct set of parents. A birth certificate also records the baby’s name, date and time of birth, weight, length, gender (a biological fact), and the names of both parents (normally). The document is sometimes “sealed” or stamped with the baby’s footprints. From then on, that baby will know to whom he belongs even if unforeseen circumstances separate him from his parents.

When you were born again,[1] Paul tells us that you were “sealed” (our starting verse above) with the Holy Spirit. The Greek word translated “sealed” is sphragizō and it means “to stamp (with a signet or private mark) for security or preservation,” Thayer’s Greek Definitions gives this definition: “to set a seal upon, mark (emphasis mine) with a seal, to seal; for security: from Satan; in order to mark a person or a thing; in order to prove, confirm, or attest a thing.” Jesus said, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:27, emphasis mine). Born again believers are sealed/marked by God making us secure from Satan, and proving that we belong to Him. The Holy Spirit that indwells us is the “mark” or “seal” that proves we belong to Him. You either know this to be true or not; I do not know how else to explain it. For me, I know it is true; I have no doubt.

Being marked by God has some distinct advantages. Jesus taught what function the Holy Spirit would play in our lives. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “the Comforter”[2] and “the Spirit of Truth.”[3] So, He reveals the truth of God’s Word to us and comforts us with God’s Word. The Holy Spirit teaches us from God’s Word and helps us recall God’s Word when we need it.[4] The Holy Spirit gives witness (testifies) of Jesus.[5] He reproves (convicts) “the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment [to come].”[6] The Holy Spirit guides us “into all truth” from God’s Word and of “things to come”[7] as taught in Scripture. He gives the glory to Christ, not to Himself.[8] One sure way to distinguish a true Christian from a false Christian is in the way they glorify Christ. If they hold Christ in low esteem, the Holy Spirit is not in them because the Holy Spirit gives glory to Christ.

Another benefit of God’s mark on believers is His special protection on His children. Jesus referred to believers as His “sheep.” He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one” (John 10:27-30, emphasis mine). The security of which He speaks is eternal security, but eternity, for the believer, begins at the moment He accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Bible says that “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36, emphasis mine). Note the present tense of the verb “hath” (has). It does not say “will have eternal life,” but rather “has eternal life.” So, the security the Christian has in the future can be enjoyed in the present, along with all benefits of God’s provision and protection.

The “mark” provides protection. In Revelation, a scene appears to John, the author, of 144,000 Israelis, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes, being sealed/marked by God.[9] The sealing of these “servants of God” follows sometime shortly after the “sixth seal” of the scroll is broken,[10] and they witness until sometime after the midpoint of the Tribulation. Their witness results in the salvation of a great multitude of people during that time. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands” (Revelation 7:9, emphasis mine). Apparently, God protects them from being killed until they accomplish their task, before being martyred. At their next mention, we see them in heaven. “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads … And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth” (Revelation 14:1, 3, emphasis mine).

No harm befalls God’s children who have His mark upon them, unless He wills it for His purpose and for His glory. I recently found another example of this in Ezekiel’s prophecy. Ezekiel had been taken captive to Babylon in the second stage of Babylonian captivity around 597 BC. He was contemporary with Daniel who was taken captive in the first stage. While there, God gave Ezekiel a vision of the third and final siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians which resulted in the destruction of the Temple and the razing of the city. In his vision,[11]  God showed him six men (angels). Five were dressed in battle array, and one was dressed in white linen (probably the pre-incarnate Christ) having a “writer’s inkhorn.” “And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof” (Ezekiel 9:4, emphasis mine). Jerusalem had sunk into the depths of depravity, yet there were many there who were still faithful to Yahweh and were grieved by the sins of Judah. These God said to mark. “And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house” (Ezekiel 9:5-6, emphasis mine). Ezekiel’s vision represented what took place in Jerusalem. The Babylonians finally breached the walls of the city and brutally killed young, old, men, women, and children. However, those whom God had marked were spared and were taken alive to Babylon. The Babylonians did not know whom God had marked, but God knew and they were spared.

Almost twenty years ago, I took a graduate course on the subject of Islam taught by a professor that came out of the Muslim faith. In the process of the course, the class viewed videos of actual stonings of Christians who had converted out of Islam. The victims were “judged” by their persecutors. Their hands were tied behind their backs, and a canvas sack was placed over the upper half of their bodies. Then they were lowered into a pre-dug hole that was about waist deep and the hole was filled in around them. With that done, judgment was pronounced and the victims were pelted with huge rocks until their limp bodies fell lifelessly forward, The pelting continued until the executioners were satisfied that the victims were indeed dead. I was in shock as I witnessed the savage inhumanity of the act. What gripped me most of the horrific scenes was the calm with which these Christian martyrs went to their death. They did not protest. They did not cry out for mercy. They did not struggle to free themselves from their captors. They did not renounce their faith, which would have spared their lives. They went quietly to their death. “How is that possible?” I wondered. As I pondered the question, it occurred to me that their calm spirit was a supernatural gift from God, just for such occasions. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). These martyrs were marked by God. They belong to Him and even though He did not spare their lives, He gave them His peace to endure to the death. Then, the moment their spirits departed their lifeless bodies, Jesus was there to meet them at the gates of heaven with open arms.

Fox’s Book of Martyrs testifies of Christian martyrs of the past who were burned at the stake, drawn and quartered, hung, or beheaded. In every instance, the victims went to their death quietly refusing to recant. Such an act comes not from human bravery, but from a supernatural strength that only God can provide those who are marked by Him.

So, what’s the point? We live in a world full of uncertainty. Our economy is falling apart. Our enemies are circling our camp. The Chinese virus has the world hiding in fear and willing to trust in an unproven vaccine for their health. Even with that, health bureaucrats maintain the fear level by reminding all that the vaccine is not the panacea everyone thinks; all must continue masking and social distancing to ensure against the Wuhan Bug. Sadly, Christians get sucked into all the hype and are equally fearful along with the rest of the hopeless world. This ought not to be because as Christians, we are marked by God. We are assured of His provision and protection in EVERY situation. Even when things seem to go wrong from our perspective, we can be assured: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the [marked] according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, emphasis mine). Those who live in fear should be those whose only hope is in this life; that should not be Christians. Christians should be living a fearless, victorious life, knowing that we are marked by God. He is our Father; we are His children.

Reader, if you do not have that assurance, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  John 3:5-8

[2]  John 14:16

[3]  John 14:17

[4]  John 14:26

[5]  John 15:26

[6]  John 16:8

[7]  John 16:13

[8]  John 16:14

[9]  Revelation 7:1-8

[10]  Revelation 6:12

[11]  Ezekiel 9

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Peace

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

What images enter your mind’s eye when you hear the word “peace”? Do you picture cloudless blue skies over a quiet deserted palm-lined tropical beach disturbed only by the lapping of the rising tide, the whisper of the ocean breeze, and the occasional caw of a soaring seagull? Or, do you imagine a silent stony perch atop a tall Rocky Mountain overlooking a thick pine and aspen forest below alternately lighted and shaded by passing puffy clouds? Is your idea of peace a serene humble home on five or ten acres of land far, far away from the rush and bustle of urban life? Do you think of a world without crime, without war, without pestilence and hunger, and without hate?

All those visions of peace exist only in the imagination, and if by experience, they are only temporary. The quiet beach will soon fill with noisy sunbathers. The silent mountain scene gets interrupted by an unpredicted thunderstorm. The endless chores disturb the serene little farm house. As for peace in the world, you can forget that.

As Jesus faced the cross, He tried to prepare His disciples for what lay ahead. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). He offered His peace, unlike the peace that the world can give. We personally enjoy quiet peaceful moments in this life, but they are temporary and fleeting. The world knows no peace. The interval between World War I, “the war to end all wars,” lasted less than 21 years before World War II flared up. Since then the United States prosecuted wars in Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, along with several “peace-keeping” skirmishes here and there. Meanwhile, the Middle East experiences fighting periodically and consistently throughout the Muslim world. If that were not enough, rioting breaks out in almost every country all the time. Now the entire world lives in fear of a man-made global pandemic. The world knows no peace.

Yet Jesus said, “My peace I give unto you.” To whom was this gift directed? Jesus addressed a very specific audience, His disciples. His peace is not for the world. It is for His disciples only. On that night, He spoke only to the twelve, but He intends all of His disciples to have the gift, that means you and me if we are truly His disciples – believers, followers of Jesus. In His high-priestly prayer He said, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine” (John 17:9, emphasis mine). Then, so as not to exclude those that would follow, He said, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word” (John 17:20, emphasis mine).

The peace Jesus gives silences the most tempestuous storms of life, allays the deepest fear, and quiets the troubled mind. His supernatural peace confounds any false peace the world can offer. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, emphasis mine). His peace does not exempt us from the affliction, pressure, persecution, tribulation, or trouble that comes as part and parcel with life in this world. Indeed, He requested, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil [one]” (John 17:15, emphasis mine). Our peace comes from knowing that “[We] are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). “For our [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

The world labors in vain for peace. The world alters language to stifle hate. The world blames the weather for rioting in the streets, so it implements draconian measures to curtail carbon emissions. The world cries, “Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11). The world knows no peace, but the believer in Jesus can know peace. As the axiom makes clear, “No Jesus, no peace; know Jesus, know peace.” One day soon, the world will know peace, but not now.

Every true believer, every Christian should know peace. If not, there can only be two reasons that a Christian does not have peace. Either they have not been “born again” and do not know Jesus personally, or they have momentarily taken their eyes off of Him like Peter did when he tried to walk on the water (Matthew 14:22-32). If you do not know Jesus, but you want to know peace, see my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

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