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Forever and Ever!
20:10 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.
Time that never ends
I have been thinking about how
long forever and ever is. It is time that never ends. Sometimes we say
eternity is where there is no time but forever and ever is described in
terms of time in the Bible. It is continues day and night forever and
ever. We may not be able to grasp the idea that there is time with no
beginning, but we have to believe that there is a future that goes on
forever and ever. Where we are in that future and whether we consciously
endure that time may be the subject of philosophical debate. But after
we die things continue. They do go on and the Bible says that they go on
forever and ever.
Enduring the pain of the Lake
When I go to the dentist, I
have to play a mental game in order to handle all the drilling and
scraping and such. I think about how nice it will be when it is all
over. I tell myself that in an hour or two, the pain will be gone and I
will have teeth that are clean and/or filled. Recently, I had a tooth
capped. I didn't look forward to that appointment, but I kept telling
myself that it would feel so good when I could eat on that side of my
mouth again. But when it comes to those who are cast into the Lake of
Fire, there is no "other side". There is nothing to which they
can look forward. The pain and agony isn't going to be for a little
while, or even a long while and then be over. It will be forever and
ever. It will be worse than the winter of 2013-2014. This is the winter
that won't quit. Every week, I tell myself that this should be the end
of the really bad weather and then the weather gets worse. But Spring
will come. It always has and I am sure that this year will be no
different. But there is no Spring time to anticipate in the Lake of Fire
where the beast, the false prophet and the devil are ultimately cast. If
we read our passage for this week in it’s entirely, this is also the
place where everyone whose names are not found in the book of life are
cast as well.
God's list of names
I think that most who study the
Bible agree that God has a list of the names of those who have trusted
Christ as their Savior. They are the ones whose names are written in the
book of life. Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:19, "Nevertheless the solid
foundation of God stands, having this seal: the Lord knows those who are
God knows His own. The unsaved
dead are judged according to their works in Revelation 20. Anyone who is
judged based on their own works will fail the judgment because God has
already judged those works in Romans 3:23. There He says all have sinned
and come short of the glory of God. A true Christian is judged based on
the finished work of Christ Who died for the ungodly according to Romans
5:6. It is interesting that believers do not appear to be present in
Revelation 20 at this Great White Throne judgment. We read of no one
being saved here. And the unsaved dead will not find their names in that
all important book that is opened here.
I am a risk avoider, not a risk
taker. One of the reasons I listened to the Gospel and wanted to be
saved is because that forever and ever for the unsaved dead provided no
light at the end of the tunnel. I know people who shake their fist in
the face of God and seem to dare Him to judge them according to His
standards. I know others who carelessly assume that they don't need to
worry because everything will work out in the end. But when I think of
the prophecies that came true when the Lord was born, was crucified and
was raised from the dead, I am not about to bet against the message of
the Bible. All of those prophecies were written 400 years before the
events happened and many detailed ones were written in the Psalms about
a 1000 years before the events happened. Remember, I am a risk avoider;
and on this issue of avoiding the Lake of Fire, I want to make sure that
I have followed the instructions God has given us to avoid eternal
calamity. And as I understand the Bible it all boils down to faith in
the Bible and thus faith in what God says about His Son.
Eternal bliss or eternal wrath?
The nice part about being saved
is that we do have light at the end of the tunnel. No matter what this
life holds for us, at the end of it lies eternal bliss with the Lord and
it will be forever and ever. If you are reading this, please make sure
your name is in the Lamb's Book of Life. You can't afford to be wrong
forever and ever.
for the week of March 2, 2014
Luke 23:33 And
when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified
Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.
Happened at Calvary that Day!
When we preach sometimes we
like to explain the meaning of the Scripture that we are reading.
Sometimes we like to tell illustrative stores about the passage and
sometimes we like to have people "see" the events described in
the passage. Today, I want to "see" what took place two
thousand years ago at the place which is called Calvary. It is not a
pretty sight but it is a sight that should never be forgotten.
What Happened at Calvary that
Since we consider the Bible to
be an accurate historical record, we know that an innocent man died as a
criminal. There was a gross miscarriage of justice. A man who was
declared innocent by the courts was crucified because of Plate’s fear
of anarchy. The Jews hated this man without a cause, and Pilate was too
insecure to deliver this man from the demands of the crowd.
But what really happened here?
Years before Satan had come as a deceiving Serpent and had convinced Eve
to disobey God. She ate of a tree that was off limits to her and she,
and her husband with her, opened the door to sin and rebellion. God didn’t
cause this sin, but neither was He caught by surprise by it. He had
planned a way for every sin of every sinner born into this world to be
judged righteously on a sinless substitute. In order to accomplish that
plan, He had to send his perfect, sinless, unique Son to this place
called Calvary. So what really happened here? God provided a way to
forgive sin. He provided His Son as the sinless substitute. And He has
offered that salvation to the whosoever’s who believe in or trust in
the Lord (John 3:16). Because of this place, no one need perish under
the righteous hand of God. As we read this moving verse, we need to
remember that this is a real place and a real event with real
Things to Remember about that
This was a place that showcased
the depravity that is in the heart of man. The Jewish nation had been
called to repent of their idolatry by John the Baptist and to worship
the Living God only. He had identified This Man as the Lamb of God that
takes away the sin of the world. This Man was God and was to be
worshiped. But the Jewish leaders didn’t care about what John the
Baptist said, and they didn’t care about the testimony of the Lord’s
miracles. They didn’t consider their own prophetic scriptures which
they supposedly taught but didn’t consult or believe. Power was more
important than truth or justice. Pilate was more concerned with his
position than with truth. At least he did what he did out of fear of the
Jews rather than out of hatred for an innocent man which was the case
with the Jews. But he still shows that it is easier to do wrong than to
do what is right.
This was a place where some
were saved and some were lost. When we come to Calvary in our preaching
and in our minds this is always the result. People that we would expect
to be lost are saved. The centurion and those who were with him realized
this was a righteous man and they will likely be heaven. But the Jews
who knew and taught the Scriptures will for the most part be in hell.
Two thieves died beside the Lord that day. Neither could atone for the
sins that they had committed, but one was saved and one was lost. One
obstinately refused to accept the fact that Christ was who He claimed to
be. He died in his sins. The other turned to the Lord and asked for
mercy—not for mercy from death but mercy for eternity. He said,
"Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom (Luke
23:42)." And he received the promise of the Lord that He would join
the Lord in paradise that very day.
Calvary Opened the Way to
Heaven that Day!
A way was opened for men to
enter heaven that day. The veil of the temple was torn in two so that
the holy of holies in the temple was now accessible to all. Creation
groaned that day. The sun went dark for three hours, and there was a
great earthquake. Prophetic passages in the Old Testament were fulfilled
that day. This day and the day three days later when the Lord rose from
the dead were the most important events that have ever taken place on
planet earth. Yes, the Lord’s ascension into heaven was important. The
Lord’s coming again will be important. But this day when the Lord was
crucified is the turning point of history. In one sense, this is the
darkest day the world has ever seen. In another sense it is the
brightest day in the history of man because this day has proved God’s
love for His sinful creation. Romans 5:8 says, "But God
demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still
sinners, Christ died for us."
Calvary is the place of
blessing for me. I hope it is for you as well.
for the week of March 9, 2014
The Importance of our Souls
2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living
2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living
news this last week has been filled with speculation about a Malaysian
plane that was flying to China that has disappeared. No one seems to
know where it is. As I listened to a team of CNN reporters discussing
the incident, one of them kept saying that there were 239 people on
board. The other kept saying that there were 239 souls on board. I was
taken by the difference in terminology. I suppose that the two news
anchors could have thought that they were saying exactly the same thing,
but I wondered if the one news anchor was trying to make a point without
saying that she was. A person has a soul according to the Bible. When we
call a person a soul we are emphasizing the fact that the person is more
than a body.
is the Soul?
I preach the Gospel, I try to stay simple on this issue. I tell people
that the body is a container. Inside the body is the real person and
that real person doesn’t cease to exist when the body dies.
Many people have tried to
identify and define the terms body, soul and spirit. There are many
Biblical reasons to believe that we are made up of the three parts. I
usually define the body as the material part of the person. The soul is
the personality, the spirit is the energy. We could liken this to a car.
The car is the container that holds the passengers. But neither go
anywhere without gas to energize the car. The car would be like our
bodies, the passenger would be like our souls and the gas would be like
our spirits. Spirit is often linked to breath which provides some of the
energy that we need to "live." We see those three parts in our
verse in Genesis 2. The forming of man out of dust was the forming of
the body. The breath was the energy that the body needed. Man became a
living soul or a living being in that body once it had breath. Because
man cannot become a living being or soul without the breath of life some
argue that we are really just body and soul/spirit. The important thing
to realize is that when God created mankind, He created life that was
different from plant life and animal life. He created something material
that has something eternal, spiritual and immaterial inside. That
immaterial being is the real person. It never ceases to exist.
Body is Important, But the Soul is More Important
tend to spend most of our time on our bodies. We bath them, we perfume
them, we paint them, many tattoo them, and we try to keep them healthy.
But our real emphasis should be on the immaterial eternal parts of our
being. When we die it is not "all over" as some think. Our
bodies all go to the same place which is ultimately back to the dust
that God used to create us. The Lord does tell us that body and soul
will be thrown into Hell for the unbeliever so after the resurrection,
people do receive bodies suitable for that place. But it is our souls
that are eternal and that need to be prepared for eternity.
verse Mark’s Gospel keeps coming before me this week. It is found in
Mark 8:36 and says, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the
whole world, and loses his own soul?"
I hope that the 239 persons on
Flight 370 are found and are safe. But I hope that this incident makes
us all think about the importance of our souls.
for the week of March 16, 2014
Being Where We
Should be, When We Should be There, Doing What We Should be Doing!
2:49 And He said to them, "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know
that I must be about My Father's business?"
Lord and the Heavens
Lord was always where He should be, when He should be there. He was
obedient to his earthly parents even when they thought He was causing
them needless anxiety. He seemed to think that they should have known
that He would be in the temple when they realized He was not in the
company traveling home from the Passover. That was His Father’s house
and He was doing His Father’s business. Some translations say "Do
you not know that I must be in My Father’s House?"
I have often
wondered if the Lord was disciplined as a child growing up. If He was
disciplined, His parents were mistaken in doing it, because He would not
have been mistaken in what He was doing. Yes, sometimes parents, even
the best of parents, can make mistakes in the disciplining of their
children. I frankly would have had more than a conversation with Him if
I had found Him in the temple after a three day search. Today, we wouldn’t
think of giving a twelve year old boy the freedom to travel in a company
like that without someone having eyes on Him at all times. But times
were different then, and the pilgrims that were traveling together
likely knew each other and likely looked after each others children.
So really the Lord
was much like the stars. He could be counted on to be where He should be
when He should be there. I believe that one of the ways that the heavens
declare the glory of God in Psalm 19:1, is that the stars are always
where they should be when they should be there. Their position in the
sky can be predicted with mathematical accuracy.
difference between the stars in the sky and mankind is that people go
their own way and they are not usually where they should be when they
should be there doing what the Lord wants them to do. Adam and Eve hid
themselves from God after sinning in the Garden of Eden. David probably
should have been leading his armies in battle when he stayed home and
sinned with Bathsheba. Balaam should have stayed home instead of going
with Balak and accepting money and prestige to curse a people that the
Lord had blessed. Isaiah says, "All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). We are a people that like to go
our own way while the Lord always did those things that pleased the
often wonder if I am where I should be when I should be there doing what
the Lord wants me to do. I remember a preacher that I greatly respected
telling me that he often wondered if he was preaching in the place where
the Lord wanted him to be preaching when the Lord wanted him preaching
there. He had no question that the Lord had called him to preach the
Gospel. However, there are a lot of places to preach; and he wondered
sometimes if he was in the right place. But he told me there was one
time every week when he had no question but that he was in the right
place doing the right thing. That was when he came together with other
Christians to remember the Lord by taking a loaf of bread and a cup of
wine and sharing it at a symbolic meal with others. He told me that the
Lord had said, "This do in remembrance of Me." He said,
"I know when I am remembering the Lord that I am in the will of the
Lord." This was so important to him that he told me he had only
missed breaking bread with other Christians at this symbolic fellowship
meal twice and he had been saved over 50 years at that time. He had
missed once for snow and once for sickness if I remember correctly. He
did not consider this a sacrament that he needed to do to have his sins
forgiven. He did not consider it something he could do by himself. He
always did it with other Christians as part of that group’s testimony
to the Lord. He did it just because the Lord asked Him to do it. He
seemed to think that if the Lord would die to save him, the least he
could do would be to remember Him at the Lord’s Supper on the Lord’s
to Think About
Lord was doing His Father’s business, not just at twelve years of age
but throughout His life. He was certainly doing it when at the
appropriate time He allowed Himself to be taken to the appropriate place
outside the city gates of Jerusalem to become the Lamb of God that takes
away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He was doing His Father’s
bidding. The stars also do God’s bidding. But do I? Am I where He
wants me to be when He wants me to be there doing what He wants me to
for the week of March 23, 2014
instead of Curses
23:14-15: Behold, this day I
am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your
hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the
good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you. All have come
to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.
one of God’s promises to Israel failed.
Just before Joshua dies, He reminds them of God’s faithfulness
to them. Then Joshua confronts the nation with a choice.
Stay loyal to the God who fulfilled his promised blessings to
them or remember that He will faithfully execute His promised curses as
well. Deuteronomy 27 and 28
lists both the blessings and the curses.
Joshua says the decision is self-evident, and he and his house
will remain faithful to the Lord. They
will obey the commandments and principles of this Old Testament covenant
believe that Matthew gives us the “law” or principles of the
spiritual Kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount.
There are nine blessings in the introduction and absolutely no
curses in the beatitudes. As
the principles are explained, violating some of the principles do
contain penalties but the word “curse” is not in the beatitudes as
it is in the covenant with Israel. Why?
I have been pondering that.
Here are some suggestions:
The kingdom is heavenly or spiritual and not earthly.
Matthew 5:12 says, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is
your reward in heaven.” This
heavenly kingdom does not have the unsaved or the defiled in it
Congregations on earth that should represent the heavenly
kingdom do have unbelievers and the defiled in them.
There is a Kingdom coming on earth and there will be blessings
and curses in that Kingdom. Sin
in that Kingdom will be judged immediately and righteously.
Death will not be usual but it will be present (Isaiah 65:20).
But in the Heavenly kingdom, there is no curse nor death
(Revelation 21:4, 22:3).
The New Testament is pretty simple with regard to its blessings and
curses. The believer is
blessed and the unbeliever is cursed.
John 3: 18 makes that quite clear, “He who believes in Him is
not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because
he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
The nation of Israel contained many who were along for the ride.
They worshiped the way the leaders worshiped, but their hearts
were not right with the Lord. Israel
was faithful to the Lord during Joshua’s day and during the lives of
those elders who outlived Joshua. After
the death of those elders, the people who were along for the ride began
serving the more popular gods of the land.
We have the same thing happening in churches today.
There have been great revivals where the Lord is honored.
Then a younger generation comes along that does not enjoy the
simplicity of New Testament worship.
To them and to some of the older ones, the manna becomes stale.
Many of them have not experienced the liberty that comes with
letting Holy Spirit lead and guide in church worship, neither have many
of them experienced a clear “birth of the spirit” where the Holy
Spirit uses the word of God to convict of sin and
to turn the sinner to the Savior in simple trusting faith.
Believing about the Lord is substituted for believing in the
Lord. Assurance of salvation comes from what others say or do or from
ceremonies or good works rather than from what the word of God says.
It isn’t long before “the old way” is not relevant to the
social order of the day and the clear principles of worship laid out in
the New Testament are set aside for “newer methods.” Separation is
not taught and sound doctrine is set aside.
Fairly quickly, the church becomes an organization rather than a
living body that does the work of the Lord.
The Blessings of the Sermon on the Mount are attainable.
Only a believer who has been “sealed” and “filled” or
“controlled” by the Holy Spirit could actually carry out the
principles of the Sermon on the Mount.
I believe that the blessings are the preamble to the constitution
of the spiritual kingdom and I do believe that in many ways these
principles are different from the principles that the children of Israel
lived under. We do not have
to annihilate our enemies, we are to pray for them.
We are not to look for earthly blessing but spiritual blessing.
We are not to do things openly to be seen as religious people do,
but we are to do things privately where God only sees and rewards.
The moral principles of the Old Testament are never set aside;
and, in fact, are made matters of the heart rather than matters of law.
However, I do believe that these principles and, thus, the
blessings are attainable. Where
we fail with regard to them, the Lord provides for confession and
Lord not only wants to bless, He does bless.
We who had “no hope” now have something to anticipate
with joy. The Lord is coming
to save those of us who believe in the Lord from the coming tribulation.
This is a blessed hope. We
may die, but that will not be the end of the story. We
get to be “with the Lord” where there is no more curse or crying or
sorrow. I am glad that I
live in New Testament times with New Testament promises and New
for the week of March 30, 2014